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The day I couldn’t make the sign of the cross

If you read my previous posts, then I don’t need to remind you again how I am as a Christian … a Roman Catholic to be specific. I am not pious in any way, but I have faith. I am not a prayerful person but I pray. I am not someone who owns a pew in the church but I do go to Sunday mass.

I would say the “most”  Catholic moments I have every day is making the sign of the cross. To me, it is a prayer that I do in all sincerity and solemnity, however hurried life is. I make the sign of the cross as I get up in the morning, I make the sign of the cross while driving, I make the sign of the cross when I pass by a church or any place of worship, I make the sign of the cross whenever I feel like I need to.

Bert Ghezzy of OSV Weekly, in one of his articles, said, “The Sign of the Cross is a profession of faith in God as he revealed himself. It serves as an abbreviated form of the Apostles’ Creed. Touching our forehead, breast, and shoulders … we declare our belief in the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. We are announcing our faith in what God has done — the creation of all things, the redemption of humanity from sin and death, and the establishment of the Church, which offers new life to all. When we sign ourselves we are making ourselves aware of God’s presence and opening ourselves to his action in our lives.

Very well said I say … because to me, making the sign of the cross means more than a gesture….it is a means of communication.
Imagine my anguish when one day I couldn’t make the sign of the cross. I felt crippled … literally, emotionally, psychologically, and most of all, spiritually.

It started off on a Wednesday with a slight pain on my upper arm. I ignored it and told myself that I just need to rest since I’ve been tirelessly working on my laptop. Thursday, the pain started radiating through my right hand making it difficult to operate the computer mouse. I applied my trusted Amrutanjan before going to bed hoping the pain would vanish. I had an early morning meeting on Friday and so I drove off to work unmindful of the nagging pain. That fateful day, I could do no work on my laptop as my fingers were almost frozen. The pain increased every time I try and force myself to press my keyboard. Ignoring my colleague’s advice to leave the car in the office garage and take the cab, I struggled to drive back home. Switching the ignition was an ordeal, and to make matters worse, traffic congestion was at its worst. An ambulance passed by, and that is when I broke down.

One practice that I do conscientiously is to make the sign of the cross when I see an ambulance or hear its siren. As I lift my fingers to execute the gesture, I utter a silent prayer for His saving grace, that the person inside the vehicle may be spared from pain.
When I tried to lift my hand as the wailing of the siren blasted through my car window, I realized that I just couldn’t. Tears started flowing, the throbbing became unbearable, my spirit crashed. As I traversed the IT highway’s five kilometer stretch in pain, I came to the realization that I am lost not because I couldn’t use my hand, but because I couldn’t make the sign of the cross.

It’s carpal tunnel, the doctor diagnosed. My tendons were swollen and the tingling of the nerves caused by constant handling of the computer mouse has to be treated. I was advised rest for the next couple of days, which fortunately were weekends.

Two days of retrospection and the words of an old friend, who died a few years ago, kept ringing in my ears, “Why worry when you can Pray?” And as I prayed, healing began… and I could make the sign of the cross once again.

Realities of realities

Time indeed flies. Before I realized that another year unfolded before my very eyes, its first month rolled so fast that not even the appearance of the “Super Moon” made the slightest difference. But is it really no different at all? Apart from the fact that my days became busier than ever, and my weekends more and more unrecognizable, life seems to be the same.

Three months and fifteen days of not chronicling how life has been … that’s not the same me. I am known to be someone who has to write, someone who has to keep a tab of what’s going on, and someone who keeps a record of those memories, good or bad.

The recent past slowed me down. The last few months, though full of vivid memories, changed me. Events and goings-on made me realized that with a blink of an eye, life can be something one would not expect it to be.

Well, forgive my ramblings but becoming a mess after my little one went off to college gave me the license to do that once in a while.

The last two months of the year were nothing but a blur now and all I can remember is the hustle and bustle of office work – recruitments, trainings, endless meetings, tons of projects, toxic schedules, deadlines, and deadliest deadlines! Travelling the 14-km stretch to DLF was (it still is) a nightmare with the chaotic traffic condition in Chennai, whatever the time may be.

In the middle of all the office pandemonium, I allowed myself the feeling of delight in anticipation of my little one’s coming to spend the winter break with us. But, tension overcame my excitement when she got stranded in Dubai due to a delayed flight from Manchester resulting to a missed flight to Chennai.

Anxiety attacked me like a monster that I didn’t sleep until I was certain that she’s safely settled at a comfortable hotel in Dubai and has a boarding pass (for the next available flight) on hand. I have never been so impatient in my life until we stood at the airport arrival area stretching our already overstretched neck to check if she’s coming. Lo and behold, she came — tired and flustered after all the unfortunate events during her flight, alone.

And then, everything suddenly lit up… our Christmas gift arrived! Seeing her again after three months was more than enough gift for the season.

We had to compromise on Goa after all the planned trips abroad that was not meant to be, thanks to my work … again! With only a couple of days of break, we flew to this land of marvels to spend the holiday season. And my of my, we were surprised as to what this state, which was once a Portuguese settlement, could offer. We had one of the most memorable and meaningful Christmas in Goa.

Back home, the thought of my little one leaving us again looms at the back of my mind. Amidst the shopping frenzy for things she wanted to take back to the university, I was feeling the pain killing me softly, slowly…again. People told me it gets better, but I disagree. As we dropped her off to the airport, it hurt like crazy. And as we reached home, it hurt even more! I say nothing can measure up to the pain of being away from her.

Then it’s back to the realities of realities. It’s me and my husband … in a house that can accommodate plenty, in a city where we are comfy, in a situation just like twenty-…  years ago.

 

I blinked

Descending from the stairs leading to the underpass where we had to take the bus back to our hotel, my eyes (and I could see my husband’s too) welled, and then we could no longer control the tears. We were actually leaving our baby behind! And as the bus rolled, we allowed ourselves to feel the pain of letting go of a massive part of who we are, as parents … as human beings.

For eighteen years, she was always with us. She was part of us. She completed us. Coming back home, the house looks empty … dreary even. She is missed in our every move. Breakfast is no longer fun without someone asking me to make her favourite “Koka”. Ordering from Swiggy is no longer exciting because I no longer have a partner in perusing the menu. Going for spa treatment is not something I look forward to anymore because I don’t have my best buddy to go with. Shopping has become boring because my best friend is not there with me to comb the shops at the mall. Watching our favourite telenovela is no longer entertaining because I don’t have anybody to play the guessing game as to what is going to happen next.

Seeing her room instantly brings back tears into our eyes. Going through her things makes us wildly emotional. Thinking about her is all that we do now. Hearing her voice has become the highlight of each passing day.

No one ever told us that the hardest part of parenthood is when your child goes off to college.

I blinked and she’s no longer the little baby I drove to preschool, the little girl who owned the stage at every school function, the ten-year-old who hated her braces, the teenage brat who wanted nothing more than to be left alone to read in the comforts of her room, the young lady who slayed every stereotype. Before I could open my eyes again, she has metamorphosed into the young adult who wanted to prove herself.

Parents dream of nothing but the best for our children. And we are no different. We allowed her to choose the path that would take her to where she wants to be, someday. Seeing how she was in the first few days at the university strengthened our belief that yes, our little one is all set to take on the world, spread her wings wide … fly high and touch the sky.

The depression brought in by letting her go is a small price to pay for the bright future we could already see ahead of her. In a couple of weeks, we’ll get used to it. Having said that, it doesn’t mean we won’t miss her anymore, it only means that we have started planning and looking forward to the next occasion we see her again.

Time does fly … and yes, I am willing to blink again for I am sure the next time I open my eyes, she will be with us  wearing a lot more feathers firmly planted on her cap.

Separation Anxiety

The countdown begins, and it is slowly sinking in. Our little girl is now a lady and she’s all set to try her wings and fly away from the nest.

To say that she is our rock is a definite understatement. To characterize our relationship as just close is incorrect. To conclude that I will be alright when she leaves is total crap! I won’t, and neither will her dad…that’s for sure!

The last twenty years was bliss, the last eighteen was a blast!

It’s cliché for mothers to say that the moment their child was born is the happiest day of her life. But I’d still say it  and add that our little one’s birth was the beginning of a more meaningful lives for me and my husband. Each day with her was an adventure, each adventure … a memory that will last forever.

One day, we were browsing through kids shows/movies and it made me happy to note that she went through interesting phases of intelligent watching — from Miffy to Dora the Explorer, Blues Clues to Mother Goose, Barney to Bugs Bunny, Scooby-doo, Powerpuff Girls, Sylvester and Tweety, Dexter’s Laboratory, a range of Disney Princesses, the Smurfs, the Simpsons, the Flintstones … before graduating to Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and then to Raven …. those and more of the likes of Victoria, The Crown, Downton Abbey and other classics.  These shows moulded her into the person she is now – mild mannered, respectful, polite, humble, helpful, and most importantly — a young woman who is not afraid to speak up when she feels the need to, and is courteous to anyone irrespective of race, color, or religion.

The same goes for the book she read — from her 20-volume Time-Life Kids Series to her collection of Dr Seuss, her stack of Amar Chitra Katha to her assembly of Betty and Veronica. From her spy books to her range of Diary of Whimpy Kids, piles of Harry Potter to Games of Thrones, Series of Unfortunate Events, to a more serious Jean Sasson line-up, and now her series of Philosophy, Politics, and Religion! Amazing list I must say. This makes me feel embarrassed that my teenage reading list was mainly made up of Danielle Steele’s and Sydney Sheldon’s.

Just like the shows she watched and the books she read, my little one has evolved. From the little   girl I coached for her first fancy dress and oratorical competition at 6 (where she played Mother Goose and won the grand prize from over more than 50 participants from different schools in the city), to the inquisitive 9-year-old who gave our tour guide in Cairo a run for her money, to the teenage vanity queen who owns every possible shade of lipstick, lip gloss, lip tint, lip liner … she has morphed into the smart young lady who is now ready to spread her wings and conquer her dreams.

A few more days before she leaves for university and her dad and I are already down with separation anxiety. A disorder that every parent goes through when their child leaves for university. I know we are not alone here. Many of our friends went through this, and some are still yet to recover. It’s not easy to let go of our precious little angels. It’s not easy to let go of a part of ourselves. But, a big part of loving is letting go … and allowing them to explore the world and prosper — intellectually, socially, emotionally, and spiritually.

To our little one, fly high … touch the sky! Mom and dad will always be behind you, not matter what. I know you know that .

 

 

 

Teddy

“He’s also eighteen now, Mom!” My little one is referring to Teddy, the Paddington Bear we bought for her at Singapore’s Changi Airport where we transited during her very first flight. She was six months old then. She has had Teddy ever since and she will never sleep without him by her side. He took trips with her, he played with her, he cycled with her, he read with her, he got acquainted with her friends, he became part of the family.

I remember once, when she was around five, we visited my mother-in-law’s house for Diwali celebrations. Playing firecrackers with her cousins, she safely kept Teddy tucked in her Patti’s bed. As we left, we all forgot about Teddy. Closer to home, we got a frantic call from my brother-in-law (who knew how important Teddy is to my little one) informing us about the mishap. Without wasting a minute, my husband turned the car and traveled back the 10-km distance to collect Teddy, past-midnight!

Stitching the hole-filled hat of Teddy, sweet memories of her childhood came flooding by. Pictures of her clutching Teddy in her arms came like flashbulbs. She wouldn’t exchange him for a nice Minnie doll at Disneyland, she wouldn’t give him up for a fluffy Hello Kitty from Sanrio Puroland, she refused to let go of him when offered a nice big bear from Hamleys, and she wouldn’t even exchange him for a much newer version of Paddington Bear we saw at Harrods.

Today, Teddy is showing signs of aging. After having traveled to several countries, moved cities, changed schools, tossed in the washing machine and tumbled in the dryer several times, fallen from the car, pitched like a ball … the thread on his signature red hat is giving way. I tried mending them but I can only do so much. My husband went in search of a toy maker to repair it, but my little one said no. She said there is nothing like the original.

As she packs before leaving for university, Teddy is first on the list. As he awaits his turn to go into the suitcase, I told my little one how old he is and maybe it’s time for him to retire. “We can always stop by Paddington (an area within the City of Westminster, in central London) to buy a new one,” and she was upset! “How could you even say that Mom!” So there goes raggedy Teddy … ready to take on university life.

Teddy was, is, and will always be part of her. And as I leave her room … I thank him for being the sibling she never had, a friend he always is, and a cuddly buddy …our little Teddy! This S$26 endearing Paddington Bear gave our baby and the entire family … priceless memories!

Sing your Praises

“Qui bene cantat bis orat”, one of my favourite quotes, is greatly attributed to Saint Augustine of Hippo whose feast we celebrate today. This Latin phrase when literally translated to English means “He who sings well prays twice”.

A catholic forum also published the un-abridged version of this: “For he that singeth praise, not only praiseth, but only praiseth with gladness: he that singeth praise, not only singeth, but also loveth him of whom he singeth. In praise, there is the speaking forth of one confessing; in singing, the affection of one loving.” (St. Augustine, Commentary on Psalm 73, 1)

As a child who loves to sing, I have always believed in this dictum. I love to sing my praises. And I, somehow, feel closer to God when I sing my prayers instead of just saying them.

As early as 12-years-old, I became a member of the church choir. The group was composed of young boys and girls whose dedication to singing was evident in their commitment to attending the practice every Saturday — rain or shine … unmindful of the tedious walks, long sessions, and the simple merienda of nilagang saging (boiled banana). Our choir master was very skilful in bringing out the best in these young voices that the singing in the Sunday morning mass always turned out to be outstanding.

I loved singing with the group, and I loved it most when one day, I was given a solo part. I remember being so nervous that Sunday morning that I refused to eat and talk to anybody. I vowed to give it nothing less than my best… and, as our choir master gave me a quiet thumbs-up after my part, I knew I did well! At a tender age of thirteen, I felt the joy and gratification brought in by not simply singing my praises, but singing them from the heart.

Growing up, I had to leave the church choir as I have to move to Manila for my university studies … but I made it a point to sing my praises whenever I can, whenever possible.

The movie “Sister Act” made a lasting impression on me. Not only because of the outstanding performance of legendary Hollywood actress Whoopi Goldberg, but more so because it presented how music can bring people back to the church, and even reunite a community that ceased to exist due to the lure of modern life. Some of the traditional and conservative members of the church may have categorized this movie as profane and sacrilegious because it diverts from the conventional way of praising — the solemn and almost inaudible utterances read from the book of customary prayers voiced for centuries — but let’s be honest … what works for the modern world is the always the unconventional.

“Songs are prayers wrapped in wonderful melodies,” this is how a good friend of mine puts it and I completely agree with him. The melodious sound when sung sincerely and beautifully, to me, is a more powerful prayer than parroted litanies of the rosary uttered again, and again, and again.

Call me finicky, fastidious, or fussy … but I am not embarrassed to say that I only go to a church that has a good choir. For me, a good choir is an aid to a more meaningful service or mass. Of course, how the priest delivers the homily is another one of my criteria in choosing a place of worship to go to, although I tend to compromise on that aspect because I believe that if I intently listen to the gospel, I can relate to it in my own way. The Lord speaks to us beautifully through the gospel, why can’t we pray the same way to Him … by sincerely giving thanksgiving and praise though the beautiful melodies of the songs.

***All images are borrowed from the net.

Count your blessings

The internet is abuzz with quizzes that claim to identify our personality and tell us what we are and what we will be. I go through these quizzes for fun, many a time, for amusement! The accuracy is questionable, sometimes ridiculously absurd, illogical, and irrational. But there are some that actually strike a chord or two. One such is a quiz from Buzzfeed, forwarded to me by my daughter with the sweetest message saying, “I thank you and daddy for giving me a good life!” Tell me then, what more can a mother ask for?

The quiz titled, “How privileged are you?” is a listing of questions ranging from family life, education, relationships, career, sexuality, caste (here I realize that the quiz was designed for Indian audience), money matters, travel, and even the most mundane of things. The more tick marks you get, the more privileged are you.  I got 116 out of the 127 questions and the result says, I am in the top tier of privilege!

The number of questions may seem long and endless, quite exhaustive, laborious to deal with, and something that can wear one down and eventually give up. I almost gave up at Question 34. But then, I went ahead and found that if we only take it seriously, there is an unfathomable meaning in every question that awakens our thoughts that would have gone into deep slumber not realizing how blessed we all are.

The question on schooling up to university level made me realized that I am luckier than one billion adults as per the recent study conducted by UNESCO. The question on life and living conditions gave me an insight on how fortunate am I to have roof over my head, food on my table, clothes to wear, and a bed to sleep in.

An added bonus is all the other luxuries that I enjoy like having a car to take me wherever I want to go and a limitless access to many other things that I now think as indulgences rather than need, superfluities that make me feel guilty after knowing that millions of families are living within $1 per day.

At least six questions dealt with experiences dealing with the caste system. I may not have been born and brought up in India, where caste system was a prevalent practice, but I was always aware of the dissection of economic levels in my country. Suffice it to say that I did not allow any of those to affect me while living my life the way I want to, and it has never bothered me even today. Moving to India, I never spoke of or brought up the fact that I have become part of the Brahmin community after having married an Iyengar Brahmin. There is no need, and no reason to. And in twenty long years, it has not affected me or my status in this country that I have come to love as my own.

Another set of questions focus on safety, inside and outside the house, in the workplace, or elsewhere. Knowing that I live in one of the most peaceful cities I know keeps my mind at ease all the time. And this brings me back to war-torn countries like Syria (where we lived) where its people are not sure of living their lives the following day.

Going through the list is for me … a wake-up call, it is a process that each and every one of us should go through just to be reminded that we are so privileged than countless number of people, that we are given things even before asking for it, and that we are provided with extras that we, sometime, don’t even deserve — as a person — as a human being.

The quiz transported me into a different state of mind … a state where I am happier than ever before … a state where I tell myself that I cannot ask for more. Asking for more will only lead me to greediness. And as the Great Mahatma Gandhi once said, “There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed!”

I have pasted the link (in case you haven’t been fortunate enough to stumble on it) to the quiz below. Please go through it. My wish is that, like me, you may realize that we ought to stop complaining about the life we have, and actually begin living it with gratitude in our hearts for the fact that you have a computer system, a laptop, a tablet, or a smart phone to read this blog post — you are more privileged that most.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/soniathomas/how-privileged-are-you?utm_term=.fu9M19weoz#.admy729rnE

In conclusion, I would like to share the lines of one of my favourite Christmas carols that help me get sound sleep at night:

When I’m worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep. And I fall asleep counting my blessings

When my bankroll is getting small, I think of when I had none at all. And I fall asleep counting my blessings.

I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads. And one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds. 

So if you’re worried and you can’t sleep, count your blessings instead of sheep.  And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings 

 

***All the images are borrowed from the net.

I am STIN-GEE

When I refused to splurge on the latest model of Iphone … when I told my husband that the price of any car we buy should not exceed ten lakhs … when I decided to buy my things only when there is a “sale” … when I stood firm on not buying my daughter similar toys to what she already has … when I insisted on going to libraries instead of buying books all the time … when I stressed on giving inexpensive gifts but useful to the receiver … when I insisted on cooking and eating at home in order to avoid the risks of feeling sick from eating outside food … when I preferred to walk a certain distance instead of taking the car … I’ve been branded – STINGY (pronounced: stin-geeee)!

People who know me will agree.  People who are close to me will understand.

Growing up, we didn’t have much. As a child, I held on to my one and only plastic doll gifted by my Ninang Petz one Christmas. In school, I was happy with one Hello Kitty pencil when my friends had the entire gamut of Sanrio items. In high school – I used to walk to the main road where I took the jeepney for the 30-minute ride to school where I got by with only three sets of uniform and some “civilian” clothes bought from the palengke (local market). I sailed through college with jeans from Divisoria when my friends were strutting in their “Levis” and “Girbaud.”

I gave myself a break when I started working, thereby earning. I treated myself to branded items, an occasional “Benetton” shirt or “Our Tribe” sandals. I also went splurging on “Guess” jeans and some “Paperdoll” blouses. There was even a time when I would wear only “Naturalizer”. When I got married, my husband indulged me by buying only the most expensive, the latest, and the grandest.

But then, was I happy? Maybe for a couple of days displaying the brand and getting the “ahhhs” and “ohhhs” from friends and people around. But, then I realized early on that I was not one of those  clueless, shallow female (and some males) whose goal is to spend and show-off!

I have always been the practical one. For me, any brand of smart phone (yes, even those Chinese-made ones) can do anything that an Iphone does, any car can take us from point A to point B, clothes or shoes need not be expensive to look good on anyone. My daughter enjoyed the toys she had and still has vivid memories about each of them. Books from libraries help me instil the love of reading in my little one. And gifting, some may not agree with me, does not depend on the price of the gift but the thought poured in while choosing one.

To the people who did and still call me stingy, I am done with you. To me, you belong to the group of people who would rather drown in credit card bills and live from pay-check to pay-check just to impress other people. Those who do not look at the future for as long as their present is instagrammable or worth posting on Facebook! Those whose life is dictated by society’s artificial approach and whose every action is based on trying to fit in on circles where they are obviously an outcast. For if they truly belong to that circle, they need not exert any effort. Superficial and pa-sosyal ,.. these words aptly describe this group that am definitely not part of,  and will never be.

I may be stingy but I am a happy soul. I have a good phone that serves my purpose, a car that takes me wherever I want to go, and clothes that flatter me. I have a child who is beautiful and smart, but most importantly, someone whose feet is firmly grounded.  A husband who now thinks the same way I do and supports me in any decision I make. A circle of friends who do not look at what I have or what I am capable of  giving. And, a bank balance that allows me to splurge whenever I want to … all because I decided to be — stin-gee!

 

***All images are borrowed from the net.

 

Working from Home (WFH)

A life with no worries, ok — less worries … a life where I can wake up any time and be in my PJs all day for all I care… a life where I can spend as much time with my family as I want… a life where I can have coffee dates with my girlfriends any time I wish to and plan for a quick holiday, head to somewhere cool … a life with no targets, no deadlines… a life with no bosses but myself — and myself alone… a life where I can be free! This is what I envisioned when I quit my previous job thinking I will just take up a few work-from-home assignments and ease up on life. The first couple of weeks were fine, I enjoyed the bliss. The following weeks made me restless. After a quick holiday, and a few more days, I was already attending interviews. Barely three months later… I joined another company!

I guess I am not that type who can be confined at home. Or even, the type who can actually work from home. I remember asking my husband to install a new air-conditioning system, buy me a fancy swivel chair (the one CEOs use), upgrade our desktop, change our screen to a 21-inches, and convert our study room into a nice office set-up because I am tired of going to office and that I intend to “work from home — permanently!” The result –a swanky office arrangement at home that my husband uses more than myself!

Working from home (WFH) may be the “in” thing these days … but nothing beats the experience of driving (despite the horrendous traffic) to work, hoping Mondays never come, negotiating deadlines, reasoning with bosses, juggling projects, managing a team of enthusiastic youngsters, exchanging banter with colleagues, sharing that much awaited coffee during break, and longing for the weekends to come.

Suffice it to say that I enjoy company. I love being surrounded by people. I love being able to voice my opinions, listen to what others have to say, exchange ideas, share commonalities, and decipher dissimilarities. I love knowing that people are different, and those differences add fun to life. I love being exposed to eccentricities and peculiarities that make me love my own self simply for who I am.

On the peculiar side, working from home would never give me the opportunity to know people as they really are. Working from home would prevent me from knowing that the man who talks like he is the busiest person on earth is actually doing nothing but dumps all his work to his already-burdened assistant … the woman who is always glued to her laptop is actually attending to personal business and not her office work … the guy who is working quietly in the corner is freelancing for other companies… and the lady who we thought are making call to clients is actually talking to her friends, making plans for the evening.

WFH has its per ks. No rushing to swipe in, no need to dress up, no bosses hovering around, no endless meetings (except for the occasional con-call), no internal (or external) politics, no need to worry about gossipy colleagues, or those whose insecurity hangs on the office walls, no filters on which website to visit, no guidelines on how long the lunch break is … endless NO’s.

A big YES to work!

Working from home does not mean doing less, forgetting about deadlines, and easing up on quality. Working from home actually entails a lot of responsibility. And…hear this, the fact that the person is allowed to work from home is because he/she is trusted enough to work without supervision. This reminds me of a former colleague who would always berate people like me who was given the WFH option (two companies ago). She was upset that the same privilege was not accorded to her forgetting the time when she asked for a couple of days of WFH only to completely expose and embarrass herself by not doing the work expected from her. She proved to be so untrustworthy that she was denied her WFH requests thereafter. Expectations from people who are working from home are more. And the fact is, they do work more…in most cases, even after office hours, and during holidays!

There, just as in any argument, I have laid the pros and cons of WFH. And I have also mentioned that fact that I am not cut out for it. But yes, since I have that cozy setup at home, I take WFH once in a while. Or who knows …. Ohhh I’ve been there before…

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***All graphics are borrowed from the net

 

A Happy Goodbye

There are different types of goodbyes. Most of them are hurtful. People tend to think of the word goodbye as an end, but I would rather think of it as a new beginning. Saying goodbye need not be upsetting. Saying goodbye can be uplifting.

As I leave another phase of my professional life, I look back at the happy memories I had with MPS. I recall the countless beautiful reminiscences that I will forever cherish. I remember the numerous bonds I formed with many of my friends in the company. And I recollect how these people helped me cope with the challenges I faced in this organization.

My previous post reminds me of how I started here with a big bang, literally! A bang that led to friendships that I will treasure – always! Chendur, Srinivas, and Joel … the names that will always be remembered for picking me up when I am down…again, literally!

 

I never felt like a newbie in MPS. On my very first week, I found a clique! I found three beautiful ladies who took me in as the fourth corner to complete a quadrilateral. What began as a regular trip to coffee kadais and bajji stalls became lunches and dinners, even cook-outs and shopping trips! Meenakshi, the queen of copyediting, is the group’s fashionista. You won’t catch her coming to office if she hasn’t shopped for a new kameez! A stockholder of Hidesign, she also owns W. She holds the longest notice period in the history of MPS! Ramya, MPS’ dancing queen, is the group’s selfie expert. With her long slender arms, she is the designated photographer using her latest model of Iphone. I had the wildest ride with her chasing projects in the O2Es. Chitra is the group’s Mother Goose. We go to her for everything – from food to fashion to fixing everything in between. She has the biggest heart and a hand that creates magic in the kitchen. She is the person I call when I needed a listening ear and an understanding heart! Thank you ladies, my stay in MPS has been a lot more fun because of you and your friendship.

Having these ladies in my first circle, I quickly developed a larger circle spanning three manager’s cabin and the production floor. Cabin One where Meenakshi and Ramya sit is where some of the kindest souls work. Rajendran, the boss, is my person to go to when I have problems with work (pricing, billing, oursourcing) or otherwise. Armed with the smartest advice, he treats everyone courteously.  Garrish is the charming lady who can be found in Emerald more often than in her seat! If not, she is often seen with her laptop on the production floor. A fine friend who I will definitely miss chatting with. Manoj is the quiet gentleman and a very nice person to talk to. I enjoyed his inquisitive questions about my work.

Just like me, Chitra sits in Cabin Two in the company of men who have become good friends of mine. Thanks to the constant invite for food and sweets! They are the people who would call Meenakshi and me for lunch-out even if they had just planned it for their team! Banshi, my “best friend” is someone who I worked with during my early days here. An unassuming gentleman from Odisha, we fought on projects and became friends later on. Raj is the Pondicherry lad who rushes to the French quarters every Friday evening. Bala is our fish-eating buddy and one who engineers his own water sprinklers at home. I will always remember the soft-spoken Sivaranjan for giving us chocolates for Women’s Day, and for the delicious treats he brought on his birthday. Ratheesan is my team’s go-to man for XML ingestion.

As for my cabin mates, I have already mentioned them in my last post (https://gemmarievenkataramani.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/thorny-rose-in-the-bush/) and I am sure they know who they are when I say, I am every grateful to them for being Snow White’s dwarves and for being the gummy bears of my stay here.

Bosses, I had the best bosses! Nigel who brought me in through “LinkedIn” was someone I admire for his wit, quick thinking, and smart ideas. He was a boss when he needed to be a boss and a friend when he feels it’s time to be a friend. Harrish is another person I look up to for his good leadership and friendly demeanor. He never fails to come say hi to me and my cabin mates when he is on this side of the RR Tower 4. I will never forget how he allowed me to take over his parking space while he searched for a new place!

And of course, my team!! I am fortunate to have the best people I can ever think of, in my team. Dedicated and hardworking, these guys are what I call, my dream team! I will always look back to the happy memories we had. Teena, Sangamitra, Prasanna, Crisbin, and Maha … I am sure we will meet again, sometime…somewhere.

On the production floor, I found really good friends who come to our cabin to bring me their home-made murukkus and other special items for Diwali, share the gulab jamuns made by their wives, and give me anecdotes that made me laugh.

The IT team lead by Anton has been very helpful. One call and they come running to assist my technologically-challenged self! Be it a faulty mouse, a request for software, or a file that I couldn’t download, they are ever ready to help.

The cleaning ladies, the office assistants, and most especially, Saran, our coffee guy … life in MPS would not have been a great experience without your support.

Knowing these people makes it a happy goodbye for me. Months well spent doing my work and earning good friends in the process. I will certainly miss you guys. Please remember me once in a while, the happy days we shared, the memories we made.

And yes, call me for lunch…or dinner…or fish outing! I will be there!