Tag Archives: musings

Vacation Post – Nice & Monaco #3

27 Jul

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” – ―  Anaïs Nin

Such startlingly true words.  With each vacation post, I managed to relive so many holiday memories.

The last leg of our vacation was spent at Nice and Monaco.

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view from our service apartment balcony

After our adventures in Paris and 1 hour flight, we found ourselves in the warm and bustling Nice (South of France). Paris was fast paced while Nice was laid-back.

NICE– Narrow streets and busy sidewalks flanked by quaint -looking  apartment buildings were the first sights to greet us. Shops with colourful wares from fruits to vegetables to crockery and fresh blooms; lavender, peonies, tulips and lilies. Pet shops with naughty puppies and mad hamsters scurrying about in their cages, set the mood for the rest of the day. Nice is like a place out of a children’s story book.  Misty mountains on one side and the azure sea on the other. The tourist season was just setting in.  The first week of May isn’t considered warm enough but for us it was quite warm. By the time it was afternoon, the sun was blazing down on us.  It was then we stopped loafing around and settled ourselves on the pebble -laden beach.

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Lavender

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Icy waves crashing against the pebbles drawing them back into the sea, seagulls racing against the winds and my little imp tip toeing on the pebbled shore are the moments in time I will forever treasure. Nice is beautiful. Beautiful is an understatement. I would say Nice is pleasant where pleasant is a superlative of all things beautiful and lovely.

Travelling with a toddler is made easy by service apartments and we got a service apartment that was comfortable. It gave us the flexibility of cooking our meals when eating out seemed like a hassle. I enjoyed cooking simple meals for us in an apartment overlooking stunning sights. Soon, I will post about one of the easier meals I had cooked while in Nice which was as filling as it was tasty. We had a super market right below our service apartment which made it easy to buy milk, butter, bread, oil, fruits, vegetables and condiments in small quantities. I was quite ready to settle down because in our 4 day trip we had practically made it our home.

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The restored fountain at Place Masséna

Sight seeing around Nice is made easy by a mini trains that leave  from Promenade des Anglais every 30 minutes or so. The mini train took us around the city and around the outskirts, up until the top of the Castle Hill. There it stops for 15 minutes for the visitors to tour around. I bought lovely water colour paintings of  lavender fields, sun flower fields and many more captivating sights on paper.

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Night time at Nice is even more exciting with people rushing to go clubbing or drinking. There were pubs and bars where salsa classes were being conducted and there were groups of boys performing their b-boying stunts for a visitors at Place Masséna. My daughter stood fascinated looking at the boys performing their stunts. She then coyly, asked me if she could go. I pushed her forward and imagined that she would shy away. But she wasn’t the one to be deterred by the 50-odd spectators. One of the b-boyers noticed her and took her to the forefront and introduced her to the crowd. Then they blared the music and urged her to perform. I was shocked to see my baby performing effortlessly whatever she picked up from observing those boys in front of all those people. She wasn’t in the least bit intimidated by all the crowd or the new dance form. For a 3 year old, she did well. I was a proud mum. All the people clapped and cheered for Mimi as she pirouetted and swirled around. It shall remain a treasured memory for time to come.

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The Cathedral on the left hand side; Lights that shine up the Nice nights on the right hand side

If you take a quick look on the right hand panel of my blog, you’d find a culinary bucket list that I had prepared at the start of the year. One of them involves me sampling some oysters. Inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s quote I had read sometime back –

“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”

― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Books and great writers have always influenced me a great deal and hence this decision of tasting some oysters just to see if there was any metal in what Ernest Hemingway felt on tasting oysters.

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We tracked down the best place in Nice through internet research.  Cafe Turin, our research pointed, served the best platter. Off we went with brave hearts to see what oysters might taste like. Cafe Turin is very homely and far from being posh but the people serving definitely came across as being extremely pretentious. This includes the cafe’s  Maitre D’hotel  who seated us without a smile on his face. It was as if he was being made to do it against his free will. The servers were of little help and we felt discouraged. I looked around helplessly once the platter of oysters was placed before us to see if I could just observe how others in the restaurant were eating/swallowing theirs. A friendly French lady saw me looking nervously around and smiled at me. So I approached her and asked her if she knew how to have oysters. She was having some herself, so she taught me. Here it goes:

1. Pick the oyster in your hands and  you will see a molluscan-looking stuff in some liquid.

2. Loosen the oyster meat from the shell with the help of the knife and squeeze some lemon juice on it. Do this liberally.

3. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath and think of how much Ernest Hemingway liked this thing. Obviously there must be some merit.

4. Suck the oyster meat in your mouth and give a single, shallow bite and swallow it.

5. And keep it in. Yes, its a bit of struggle where your brain is figuring out whether to eject this lemony- squishy thing stuck in your throat or to swallow it and be a part of the world that adores oysters.

6. I swallowed one and then 4 more after that.  It isn’t all that bad. But it isn’t all that good either. It is, well, like nothing. Neutral. I don’t know whether I like it or dislike it. I am yet to make up my mind over whether I would ever try oysters again. So my verdict is: Oysters taste neutral.

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I proudly strike the oyster eating adventure off my culinary bucket list!

Out of the 4 day trip in Nice, we took a day trip to Monaco. It was a 20 minute train ride from Nice to Monaco.

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Monaco

Monaco – Principality of Monaco is the second smallest independent state in the world, after the Vatican.  Stepping out of the railway station, we were greeted with an air of affluence and elitism. Herds of Rolls Royce and Bentley parked in a row is a common sight all over.

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Stellar yachts bobbing in the horizon created a picturesque view. It is easy to take stock of the state in the mini train that cruises around the city introducing us, visitors to the prominent sights in Monaco. Known world over for the Grand Prix races, visitors surround the race tracks to get a closer view of the stadium. Apart from that, the principality is adorned with perfectly manicured lawns and exotic gardens all over.

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The food as far as my taste bud memories tell me was the best of the trip. I can still recall the taste of the delicious goat cheese and honey salad and the fantastic cup of hot chocolate that I had at one of the road side restaurants in Monaco.

If Amsterdam was amazing, Paris was perfect. If Paris whet our wanderlust appetite, Nice only aggravated it. If Nice was like  the best chocolate cake ever, then Monaco was like the chocolate icing on the cake. That pretty much sums up my vacation. Phew!

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With this I complete my series of Vacation Post #. Writing about my vacation adventure has been absolutely exhilarating.  I can’t wait to plan my next vacation and celebrate my birthday in some interesting part of the world. Inshallah.

RAMADAN KAREEM TO ALL WHO ARE FASTING.

Photos courtesy : – Namit Bhatia (@namit93)

Living the Guilt – Free Life!

19 May

Mimi turned 20 months two days ago. I missed her so much because on each of her monthly birthdays I always make plans to celebrate. I bake, cook, and do something special to make it memorable. I am in London these days searching for employment and am missing her like crazy. It’s like falling in love all over again, like one of my close mommy friends suggested. I pine for her, miss her that it seems sometimes impossible to breathe and it doesn’t bother me that it could be entirely one-sided.

When I tell people that I have travelled to London and would be here for a while in my bid to search for employment, I get gasps of horror and unsolicited advice on how it wasn’t the best decision on my part to leave my child in the custody of somebody else. Here the somebody else in question are my own parents, the same set who raised me. If anything at all, I should be more than relieved to beget their support and kind co-operation while I try to kick-start my career. Being a mum is a package deal which consists extending yourself beyond you might have never deemed possible and being /feeling/ made to feel guilty about everything that you do or do not do.

I kept procrastinating this post because I felt I was making a big ado about nothing. But it was when the final straw was plucked and placed neatly outside the realm of my tolerance that I decided to do this post. I found myself justifying my travel to everybody which was not at all necessary. So some self correction was in order. To put it down in words like this helps me get things back into perspective.

When I took up blogging and put up posts at the rate of 2-3 posts per week depending on how inspired I felt, I got a few pats and most of the time some flak stating how I was wasting my time and not investing in my daughter. After all, wasn’t that the purpose of quitting my job and staying at home. I didn’t care and trudged along without caring much because the joy I felt on expressing via the written word was new to me. Appreciation followed from mommy batchmates, colleagues and they felt I was resounding their sentiments precisely. So I was encouraged to keep at it. Since the flak came from known quarters, it did hurt sometimes but I had already sorted it out in my head. I knew that I had given up my work by choice but that didn’t mean I didn’t want a window to the outside world. Being in Bahrain, made things more difficult since the only adult interaction I had day in and day out was with my husband. I sought refuge in my blog and comments that I got through each post. It was this two-way (and on somedays one way) communication that helped me figure out so many things about me unknown to me. The supportive comments from friends who were in the same kind of boat made me resolute and built my conviction on how I was raising my child. There was so much learning coming in and I was able to share my two cents (however underconfident)

There’s this constant tug of war that goes on between how it is inappropriate to spend on self when you have a toddler at home. You are constantly scrutinized and your mommy abilities put to test when questions like, ” Has she not started walking yet?”, “Has she not started speaking yet?”, “Doesnt she do puzzles?”, and when the answer to all if it is negative, you realized you have committed a gruesome crime. You are then made to feel guilty about all the potential time you “wasted” sitting on the internet doing what you were doing. Surely writing a blog is not more important than making sure you child starts speaking extempore before she completes 18 months?
For most I kept my mouth shut and did what I had to do. It would have been nothing less than blasphemy had I divulged that I was only mildly ambitious for my daughter.

My parenting involved being interactive right at her level which would mean playing hide and seek with her, building blocks with her, dancing with her on bollywood music etc. I would only prod till the time I thought it was doing some good. The moment I found that her interest was fleeting, I just let her go to do what she wanted to. Afterall she too has priorities charted out. To her, at 18 -19-20 months, playing with her building blocks, watching the nursery rhymes, pulling out clothes from the cupboard were more important and enjoyable than counting 1 to 10. Even admist all this distraction, she managed to learn 1,2 and 3 and instantly recognizes them when she sees them on number plates of cars. I think that is a fantastic achievement.
Some of the significant people in her life have already decided what was going to grow up to be and I would be wasting my breath, if I were to explain to them that it should entirely be upto her.
I know amidst all the time I wasted blogging I did try to teach her a few basic things which I felt would be the tools she would really need. I taught her some sensitivity – she would immediately show concern if you are hurt and be by your side caressing your forehead, till she perceives you are feeling better. I taught her to comprehend the changes in my tone– she instantly knows when I am serious and when she needs to stop doing something that is annoying or disturbing the environment.
For most parts I treat her like an adult speaking to her as I would to another grown up person. I try to get down to her level as much as I can while I speak with her. She is a smart child and instantly gets the drift of what I want to convey. Though by our Indian standards, she hasn’t start speaking in sentences yet, but it doesn’t worry me as she will in no time, I am sure. By nature, she is a very social child and smiling and acknowledging people in her vicinity comes naturally to her. I didn’t have to make any effort to establish any of that.

So that is the kind of progress we have made in spite of my ravages on the internet, joining some book club and wasting all the time. I am pretty pleased with my progress. Isn’t that really important?

So I have decided to lead a guilt free life where I am not going to be bothered about people would think of me spending so much time browsing, watching porn or whatever it is that they think I am doing.

Blogging has given me the support and the reason to keep my sanity when I was pushed into this entirely new world of parenting. I needed a window which when I opened enabled me to breathe some fresh air. Blogging ensured that I met some like-minded people and that we learnt so much from each other. My writing has improved (atleast I would like to think so) and it has given me some confidence when I felt my brain freeze due to zero mental stimulation.

Getting back to the job front is going to be difficult and so is the tug of war of how much focus on career would be good enough? Should I work full-time, part-time, work from home or not work at all or search for something entirely different? All these questions plague me! For most parts I was worried what everybody would think because the kind of profile I had before I quit included a lot of travelling and I stood better chances of getting similar profiles only. If I were to travel like before, would it mess up my family life? How am I going to balance? A huge compromise is in order or should I just take things as they come?

This is what I think about while tossing and turning in bed at night.

But now after giving it a lot of thought, I have decided to take things as they come and then tweak it to suit my circumstances. Isn’t that the most logical thing to do. You can plan all that you want but external factors aren’t always going to be in your favour. Considering all this, I am not going to put one more constraint about what people will think about me, if I start working full-time. I think I have enough on my platter to worry about and manage.

To this thought I say CHEERS and would go out in the evening to treat myself with a cone of ice cream. While I slurp and devour the ice cream I shall miss Mimi all the more.

Lessons from Mimi

5 Mar

Mimi is my daughter.

She is my precious bundle, my joy and my pride. Even her littlest of accomplishments mark such milestones in my head that I had to start this blog in her honour. While I have tried to teach her what new mums usually teach their toddlers – say a few words, to walk, to help recognize things and people, but it pales in comparison to what she has taught me without even making an effort.

Just yesterday a friend of mine recalled a quote he read from somewhere, “A child gives birth to a Mother”.  This wonderful quote couldn’t be truer. This got me thinking about how much I have evolved (because change is a small word in this context) and turned into this balanced person who views life in a very different light now. I do not want to sound cliché when I remark that people who do not have children now have no idea what a child can do to your life. But I say this with all the right, because there was a day when I was on the other side of the fence scratching my head over how people manage with children and how care-worn their lives had become. How wrong I was!

Two days ago, I received a call from one of my recruiters that I couldn’t make the cut for the position I sought within their organization. Before I received this call, I was riding high on optimism and had little doubt about why they wouldn’t want me. You see, if you know me, you’d realize this feeling hadn’t stemmed out of over-confidence but more from naive optimism. Undoubtedly, I was crushed as I had already started day dreaming about working and living that fast life with a toddler in tow. I wanted to be that successful career mum who had perfected the art of family and work life balance. I cried for a bit since I do not take rejections and failures easily.  My lovely husband comforted me with his kind words but they did not do much to soothe my hurt feelings.  Meanwhile my daughter, Mimi, sensed all wasn’t right and came to me and started to do all that she would do to try to make me laugh. Ran around in circles, performed her famous fake laugh routine and then came over and rubbed her nose against mine. I managed to smile through this and then got up to do my chores. I suddenly heard a thud and realized Mimi had had her customary fall from somewhere. I rushed to the living room to see her sprawled on the floor but when she saw me; she smiled and got up on her feet instantly. She was standing on the dining table and had slipped.  Almost immediately she scampered onto the dining table again and tried to jump on to the sofa adjacent to it. She slipped and fell again. I do not know, what I was thinking! I was numb and felt stupid for not protecting her. But she got up again, rubbed her knees and smiled. She climbed back on the table (this time, I stood near her) to jump again and this time she succeeded. She was so happy and thrilled that she said, “Amme, Ammme, Amme!!” squealing all the same. What she probably meant was, “Did you just see what I did? Wasn’t that the coolest thing?” As scared as I was, I felt extremely proud of her endeavour. But the thought that stayed with me for the rest of the day was, she did not give up. She did not care that she had failed and fallen twice, hurting herself both the times. She did not care about being watched while she performed this daring feat. There was a resolve in her eyes and she seemed unaffected by her failed attempts.

Instantly, I felt better. I did not have to give up. This wasn’t the last organization on earth that I had applied to. There must be so many others who would want me.

This was one such incident that helped me trail back to all that tiny, beautiful yet vital lessons that my daughter has taught me.

She taught me to sit straight with my spine absolutely erect. This has given me great relief from my back aches. It may sound very trivial but small changes like this do a great deal to bring a huge change in posture and how you feel about yourself.

She taught me to not eat even a spoonful extra, once she is done with her meal. Even if it is her most favourite thing in the world, she would pout and not let me give her a single spoonful when she had had enough. This is one thing I am trying hard to implement because it would help me curb my over eating. I even try to emulate her eating pattern by eating as often (definitely not her portions though) as she does. That itself warrants that I do not over eat at a single meal (barring weekend eat outs)

Finally, the most important lesson of all- To have fun all the time. I know for a fact that with the passage of time, there will be more lessons from Mimi and I will not forget to document them. I want her to grow up and read these chapters from her life. This would be a way to thank her, for these “Pearls of Wisdom

 

 

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