A Little Bit Of Many Things

I can hardly believe we are almost three weeks into the new year. Time flies when you’re having fun, they say, but they forgot to add that time also flies when you’ve got more work than you can handle. We haven’t got any form of domestic help yet, so in addition to working and managing the kids, we’re also doing ALL the household work ourselves. At least we managed to find a dhobi… but it would be more reassuring if we could count on him to pick up and send back the clothes whenever he says he will. Currently he promises the earth and delivers nothing – which is very worrying when all your office-wear is in his sole possession.

At least we managed to get all our cartons of books and assorted STUFF unpacked. We found just about everything we needed, then we threw away some of it, and boxed some of it up again and stuck it in the pooja room which is serving as a store room. Books and knick-knacks were the primary targets – this new place has nothing like the amount of bookshelf and showcase space that it should have. It is so sad to see so many of my dear friends (the books, I mean) boxed up and tucked away – psychology text books, archaeology text books, german text books… Amit bid adieu to Bengali song books and his old computer text books as well… may they all see the light of day sometime soon.

Meanwhile, we spent two very hectic weekends working ceaselessly to put everything else in its place and stash all the empty boxes and rarely-used stuff away into deep, high, or otherwise inaccessible places like lofts and the garage. At last, we can actually see the floor in the study and around the bookshelf in the living room. We even have most of the bathroom fittings up; only the paintings are still on the ground, facing the wall, looking sad.

There have been a couple of casualties of the move. My new (but very cheap) pair of black sandals has disappeared completely. One framed picture has had its glass smashed. And our 3-CD changer has mysteriously gotten stuck in the open position and cannot be closed. This is a big problem – left in its designated place, it is going to attract the kids like a candle to a moth. It also doesn’t look like anything that we are going to succeed in getting fixed anytime soon. And today when I ran the microwave, though it hummed and its light came on and the tray rotated like it should, the food simply didn’t warm up – so I suspect that’s going to be on the casualty list as well.

Last Thursday, before we were quite set up, we had our first attempt at entertaining. There were still cardboard boxes littering the place, but my cousin and his wife happened to be passing through Bangalore for a day so of course we had them come over for lunch. Fortunately, it was a holiday for me. Unfortunately, it was also a holiday for the kids, which hampered my effectiveness quite a bit. Even more unfortunately, it was not a holiday for Amit; but fortunately he could work from home and do his best to help me. I was, of course, sorely tempted to order in lunch, but we haven’t really discovered any very nice places to order in from – only the keep-body-and-soul-together variety – so I decided I had better cook. Tired and uninspired as I was, I managed to churn out an edible meal of pasta and meat sauce, chicken with mushroom, mashed potatoes, and mixed veggies. Naturally, there was ice cream – which I had to dash out and buy while my cousins were already in the car on the way to our place. Luckily, of course, their driver lost the way, so I made it home before they did. Apart from the cartons strewn around and the antique (50-year-old) melamine crockery that we were forced to use, it was an almost acceptable level of entertaining. (Of course my cousin took us all out in the evening, and we went to Ebony, which was just wonderful – it’s been ages since I went there! We reserved a table on the “main” terrace and were warned in no uncertain terms that if we were as much as 5 minutes late, we’d lose it. I’ve never been under that kind of stress for a mere dinner reservation! We were, of course, about 11 minutes late, but we did call them on the dot of 8 to say we were almost there and would they please hold the table for us, pretty please?)

We have been taking the kids to the play area quite regularly. There’s a good collection of swings there, so they enjoy it, but… it’s not the same thing. I do see some of the same people there everyday, but neither the kids nor the attendant parents seem to have formed a gang, like we had back in our old place. There’s a gang of grandmas who stand around in a circle, chant, clap, and eventually descend into prayer; and there are some small gatherings of women walking briskly around outside the park, some with dogs; but in the park, each of the mothers/grandparents/maids focuses their attention on their children/wards and the children focus their attention on the swings, and there doesn’t seem to be much interaction between anyone. I’ve been making eye contact and smiling at all the women, in the hopes of eventually finding my way to a maid (domestic help, I mean), but it doesn’t seem to be working. Amit says they must all think me daft. I don’t mind if they do, so long as they spread the good word. The next step has got to be just going up to some of them and telling them outright: Hey, I’m not smiling at you because I like you, or even because I’m daft: the thing is, I need a maid. Can you lend me yours?

Of course it’s also true that even if I get to know the people and the kids begin to play with the other kids there, it might not be the same. We had a good gang in our old place and it doesn’t automatically follow that we can get an equally good gang in the new place.

So once the dust settles (and that took quite a while), it looks like we fixed something that was kind-of broken (the evening commute) and in doing so, broke several other things that were working so well. Sigh. Why is life always about trade-offs? Why can’t everything go right, just for a little while?

Meanwhile, thoughts on the new year

  • Forget trying to lose weight.
  • Forget trying to get my books published
  • Forget getting back to playing my violin regularly
  • Forget studying archaeology

All I want to do this year is:

  • Keep my head above water at work
  • Avert any major household crises
  • Spend as much time as possible with the kids (without losing my temper)
  • Remember to smile – this is (mostly) the life I wanted
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7 Responses to A Little Bit Of Many Things

  1. Neeti says:

    Mika,
    Funny, what you want to do this year is pretty much what I have been doing for the past several! And that list is no less awesome, it takes some doing! Best of luck! Hope you find help soon. Take care!

  2. Supriya says:

    Hey, your forget list is very heart-breaking. Wait till you settle down and actually have a maid before you make this list. See if any of these suggestions helps (though I have been warned repeatedly against giving unsolicited advice – a blog on this may follow):
    1. Try going to the next house or better still prowl around on Saturday morning in the street outside your place at maid time and waylay any maid that passes by – those people have contacts.
    2. Try asking the people who clean the streets sometime mid afternoon if they know of anyone who can come.
    3. If there is any apartment complex nearby, ask the security guard if he can send any maid. Slip him a 20. It may help.
    4. Ask the dhobhi – though unreliable, he may know a reliable maid.
    5. Focus on finding a maid – if required take a weekday off or work from home so that you can step out intermittently and look for someone. The others on the street are bound to have one or a couple even.

    If all this sounds weird, think of the effort saved once you have someone settled in to do the housework.

    The gang at the old places misses you all too. It is also not the same for them since there is no new gang and we are mostly like rudderless boats in the fast flowing river – going where it takes us. 🙂

  3. Prakash says:

    Pragya still remembers Mimi and Taya often, though now she seems to have understood that she will not see them often. She has however found some new friends in the play area and park! She may even pair up with another enthusiastic 2.5 year old for a dance in the cultural event on 26th…

  4. poupee97 says:

    Neeti: Thanks, I hope I can make it, right now it looks highly unlikely.

    Prakash: Kids move on so much more quickly than us oldies.

    Supriya: Right now, even unsolicited advice is welcome. To reply to your tips:
    1 – house next door – done; prowling around on Saturday morning, done to a small extent, and not very successful due to my absolute lack to Tamil.

    2 – haven’t tried that – will give it a shot

    3 – Tried that via a friend who stays there; no success yet

    4 – done! (great minds think alike, what?) This was especially a good option because the dhobi, strangely enough, speaks English! But to no avail – he doesn’t deliver clothes and he doesn’t trade in domestic help. Useless!

    5 – really tough to do when you’re running so hard just trying to stay in place. And the language problem is immense. I can scrape by in Kannada (though I’m still not sure if belagge means morning or evening; can’t you say sandhya for evening?), but Tamil? No clue. So this one encounter I had with a potential maid on the road on Saturday morning came to some conclusion, but I’m not sure what. I thought I communicated that yes, yes, of course I want someone to do the work, and I thought she said she’d get me in touch with someone, but nothing came of it, so maybe I completely misunderstood and she was really just asking me the time.

    Besides, Amit is quite wary of hiring someone off the street – he wants someone referred by someone. Though this person is not going to be alone at home in the foreseeable future, as far as safety and security is concerned, I do see the point. So I’m trying to get resigned to a long wait, but meanwhile… sigh…

  5. 101dreams says:

    Hey Anamika… Hang in there… Things will get better and your “to do” list for the year will definitely get more adventurous before we’ve gone a couple of months into the year 🙂

  6. Supriya says:

    Tamil! That is at least one thing I can claim to know. Should I come on a weekday morning, parcel of pragya to parents and help? She starts school next week. So can be done only this week. What say?
    About hiring someone off the streets – I obviously didn’t mean that. Of course, you will check where else they work and go to that employer’s place and ask if she is regular, honest and non-chatty. At this rate, this problem will really remain large and well…problematic…:-)

  7. poupee97 says:

    Chris… I’m hanging, I’m hanging… by a thread… 🙂

    Supriya: Thank you! I might call you next time that happens. If there’s ever a next time. Last time was, like, 6.30 a.m., so not a very hospitable hour. But telephonic interpretation should suffice, I hope. But even with your interpretational help to get someone, the question remains, how will I deal with domestic help I cannot communicate with?

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