Friday, 30 September 2011

The Corner Office

        9 AM sharp. She enters the conference room. She begins with the status meeting. One by one, the points are discussed, status shared by the team and action items assigned. “We can not afford to slip a single day. Remember, the delivery date is 15 February”, she ends with her regular closing remark. Her words are measured and actions prudent.
        As she walks up to the coffee machine, the doctor's words echo in her mind “Restrict your caffeine”. She opts for tea and fills only half a mug. As she stands pinning the project report on the soft board in her cubicle, her eyes fall on her certificate “Most Promising Manager of the Year”. She smiles and sits down. Sipping her tea, she is lost in old memories. Winning prizes was a routine for her. School topper, college topper and a fast tracker at work, she was a complete careerist now. “Success of this project is critical for your promotion”, she remembers her boss's words clearly. She opens the strategy document and tries to concentrate. She closes her eyes to think clearly. Suddenly she feels a movement inside her body. Another one. “Was it a kick” she thinks “Yes, the doctor said it was expected anytime”
         7 PM. She sits helping the engineers in debugging issues. 8 PM. She is having a working dinner in a meeting. 9 PM her husband arrives and forces her to wind up.
        “Take it easy sweetheart, our life is going to change in two months”
        “I can't afford to, honey. You know I am very close. Just six weeks. And then...”
        “And then?”
        “I will be the Group Head. 50 engineers reporting to me. You know, I am going to get the corner office, with a window facing the lawns”
         “What about the baby?”
        “You don't worry about that. Mom is moving in with us”
        “What about you, won't you spend time with the baby?”
        “O, come on. I am not the diaper changing types. I will play with him alright, that too when he grows up to at least speak and call me Mamma. You know, I am not a home body. I am afraid I will go crazy in the maternity leave. Don't like to miss office a single day”.
        Like a complete workaholic, she continues with her long hours at work. There are problems. There are hurdles. There are software bugs and hardware failures. There are customer demands and team's expectations. She handles it all. 
        “Slow down now. If your blood pressure shoots up, I will have to advise bed-rest” the doctor tells her in the regular check-up.
         “I need this adrenaline, this rush, to keep me going. I can never slow down” she replies with a smile.
         And finally, the project gets delivered on time. The promotion letter follows.
        “Yes, I am getting the corner office from tomorrow” she screams with excitement over phone“Coming home early”.
        As she enters home, within minutes, her labor pain starts. In the hospital, she tries to manage her pain by doing breathing exercises. “The head is crowned”, the doctor announces “you are doing well”. She closes her eyes. “Yes, push now with all your strength! One last time! Doing well, dear!”. She pushes with all her might and the baby is out. She feels amazed. She feels like she had never felt before. She had delivered many projects as a manager, but nothing like this one. A small creation from her own flesh, her own blood. She holds her carefully in her arms. She touched her fingers and her toes. She presses her cheeks against her's. She nurses her. She kisses her. When she looks at her, she forgets to blink.
        Three months later. “The books said, they do not speak for months. But the baby speaks to me, all the time. She speaks through her eyes, through her little movements and of course through her loud cries” She lay awake on the bed pondering. Days pass. She nurses her. She changes diapers. She bathes her. She massages her. And she sings lullabies.
        Her mother moves in. The maternity leave ends. She joins back at work. As she arrives in her corner office, she feels strange. She had waited for this day for years. She looks at all the congratulatory mails in her computer. Her boss and team come to congratulate her on her successful project, her promotion and of course her corner office. As everyone leaves her office, she sits on her chair and stares at the monitor. She does not feel like having lunch. Hearing a sound of a bird, she stands up and opens the window. Her eyes fall on a nest in a the tree outside her office. A couple of baby mynah sit there making that sound. Mama mynah arrives flying with food in her beak and begins feeding the babies. She smiles and takes a long deep breath. She sits down to type her resignation letter.
        As she reaches home, she holds the baby in her arms again. She had missed her terribly. She is happy again, but with a difference. She does not need the adrenaline to keep going. She is at peace with her baby. She is at peace with herself.
        “You don't have to sacrifice your career for your baby” her mother says “I will take care of her” 
        “I am not sacrificing anything. I am doing this for myself” she replies.
        “Hormones at work!” her mother says “you will get to your normal form in six months”.
        Three years later.
        She enters the same office with her three year old. She tells her to sit at the sofa in the reception area and wait for her. She looks at the sign pointing to the right saying 'Engineering'. She stands there for a moment and smiles. Then she turns left following the sign saying 'Administration'. As she enters the office of the Head, Administration, she is greeted with a “Terrific work!You are a wonderful painter”. The meeting is fruitful. She gets a commission for a batch of paintings for the new office branch.
        Together they walk out of the office and move towards the parking. She stops for a moment and peeps in the corner office through the glass window. A big painting of a blooming lotus is adorning the room. Her eyes do not miss looking at her tiny signature on that painting.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Have a Nice Day

Flowers are the most beautiful creation of God. They never fail to bring a smile to my face.
Golden Yellow Chrysanthemum
Pretty Pink Carnations with lovely yellow flowers in background

The flowers have a lovely way to say
Good morning friend, Have a Nice Day!

 Thursday Challenge - Golden here

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

The Golden Oriole

The Golden Oriole is my current most favorite bird. It is a sheer beauty to look at. It is also very shy and I had to work extra hard to take its pictures. Let me clarify it is the male golden oriole which has this bright yellow and black plumage, the female is green and not so striking in looks. I sighted these beautiful birds in my trip to Ranthambore in August 2011.

The Gorgeous Golden Oriole
From a different angle
My beak is beautiful too

Thursday Challenge: Golden here
Our World Tuesday here

Monday, 26 September 2011

Green Bee Eater

I had taken these snaps at Ranthambore, though I have spotted quite a few of them in Gurgaon and Noida. They are easily distinguished by their tail,  the central feathers of the tail is elongated, which gives it a very interesting pointed appearance towards the end of the tail. And their beak also looks long and thin.

Chestnut color on its head

Look at the long tail

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Three Little Sparrows

Woke up in the morning and saw little sparrows sitting in my balcony, nibbling at the seeds. Very active and busy small creatures.
One Little
Two Little

Three Little Sparrows

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Birthday Surprise

When August comes, September can not be far behind! I know it rather well because August is the month when my son was born and September, when my daughter was born. So when planning for the first birthday party begins, the other one is already on my mind. This year my son turned 4 and after having been to some of the parties in the last few months, he had been asking for a birthday party. So we held a birthday party for him and invited all his friends. On the day of his birthday, my father-in-law called up in the morning and told me "Make sure my grand-daughter has also a party of the same scale". She is her first and I think his most favorite grand-child. "Of course" I told him "whatever she wants".

After my son's party got over, I asked her how she wanted to go about this year. She said she was still thinking. On 7th September, she went for an outstation school trip for 4 days and came back only on 10th September. Before going, she settled for a camera for a birthday gift from her dad and got it well before the trip. After she was back and well rested, I asked her again "Now tell me where do you want to celebrate your birthday party? Are you inviting only the girls or the entire class?" I was prepared that she may want a grander party this year, considering turning ten, a double digit age is something more special. "I don't want to hold a birthday party this year, not inviting  friends" she replied. I was dumbfounded. Last year, the planning and preparations for the birthday party had lasted for a month before the actual date. We had spent days deciding the theme and games and return gifts. "May be a trip hangover" I thought and kept quiet. Two days later I checked again "So shall we book a place for a party or you want to hold the party at home?" She was quick to reply "At home, mom. But only with family". I was puzzled. "Are you sure?"I asked "No kids around. Just the four of us?". She smiled "Well, can I call my cousins over?". I nodded, still feeling confused.

On 17th morning, just a day before her birthday I sat puzzled. "May be I should arrange a surprise party and call all her class friends over". I discussed with my husband and told him that I am feeling odd that she is not having a proper birthday party. He was cool about it "It's nothing odd". In the evening,  she casually remarked "So tomorrow is my birthday. I hope you are planning surprises for me". That's when I felt really nervous. "She is expecting surprises?". This was tricky! Planning a normal birthday party was hard work but more straightforward. I was completely clueless. At that time, I really empathized with guys who have to plan surprises for their girlfriends. While she was busy playing, I quickly checked with her "So what is your favorite color these days". I have learned that kids especially girls change their favorite color quite frequently and its always a good idea to check it out regularly. At one time, she almost worshiped pink color. Few years later, in a clothes shop, when I suggested a pink jacket for her, I was told "Come on Mom, Pink is for babies". That is when she bought black jacket and many items in black color. "Lilac. Mom. That light purple shade" she replied.

"Hmm...she wants to be surprised" I thought "A little lady after all". Before going to bed, I decided  I would pick flowers for her in the morning before she woke up. "Light purple carnations" I thought "she would love them". In the morning, I was still uneasy about the surprise part. It was like going through an exam. "What if she does not approve of the surprise?" Towards the end of the yoga class, as I lay down in Shavasan, my mind was still working actively "What if the shop does not have lilac colored flowers?". When I entered the flower shop, my fear came true. Lilac carnations were not in stock. I decided to take a chance. Dark pink carnations, not the baby pink color and yellow chrysanthemum. But I specifically asked for a light purple ribbon. That guy made a big flower from that ribbon and decorated the bouquet. I wrote a personal note on a card and he stuck it on the bouquet too. "Chocolate" I thought "would be a good addition". So with a Cadbury Silk chocolate in one hand and the flowers in the other, I rang the bell. She came to open the door and gave me a wonderful smile looking at me carrying the things. I gave her a tight hug, picked her up and took her in my arms. Picking her up (गोदी में लेना) is a difficult task these days, but it was a special occasion and she deserved it.

She liked the flowers and arranged them in a vase, but she loved the purple ribbon flower the most. Her best friend made a surprise visit and she played with her for a couple of hours before her cousins, and other relatives arrived. Unlike other days, she gave an un-inhibited tight hug to her grandmother. He grandmother gave her money this time as she wanted her to spend the way she liked. My daughter appreciated the fact that she was being trusted with taking care of the money and choosing to buy what she wanted.

All the cousins had a great time playing with each other. We ordered pizza for the kids. She cut the cake and celebrated the day at home with extended family.

In the evening, we took her to a mall so that she could pick up birthday presents for herself. She picked a night-dress and a hairband. My son was also enthusiastic about giving a gift to her and getting a return gift.  They discussed amongst each other and decided on the gifts from each other. She selected a small pouch meant for keeping traveling toiletries. It also had a few small empty bottles for keeping cream, shampoo. She has a fascination for creams, shampoos and perfumes these days. He selected a toy camera.

At night, she told me this was the best birthday she has had. I know kids tend to exaggerate their feelings but she did look peaceful and contented. I must say, the fact that she chose to spend the day with her family and cousins was very re-assuring at some level. And I also learned that to her a surprise did not mean a big thing, but her parents giving a thought to her interests and desires. A day when they make efforts to make her feel special. And of course lots and lots of love and attention from her mother.  I don't know about her, but she certainly gave me a big surprise this year!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Birds in my surroundings

Perhaps I was wrong when I thought one needs a holiday break and visit special places to watch birds. Of course, the leisure of vacations allows you to freely roam around with a pair of binocs hanging in your neck for as long as you want to. And bird sanctuaries are indeed a complete delight for a bird watcher. But sadly, all vacations get over! But what this new hobby has taught me is to have the right eye for spotting birds where ever you are. In Gurgaon itself, I have been rewarded by the sight of so many interesting birds, that I failed to notice earlier. And of course, it helps to see the familiar birds too in a different light.
I am going to try and capture these birds in my lens as and when I get an opportunity. (Please zoom for better results)

A common visitor to our homes, rock pigeon is listed amongst the most intelligent birds, who can remember a lot of images for a long time. They are supposed to have passed mirror test, which tests whether an animal can recognize its own reflection or not. Interestingly, in a famous article written in1995,Watanabe, Sakamoto and Wakita described an experiment which showed that pigeons can be trained to discriminate between painting by Picasso and Monet.

Rock Pigeon - an intelligent bird

Next is the common myna.

Common Myna
Common Myna
Then there is the house sparrow, another common visitor to homes.
House Sparrow - busy eating her lunch

After being fascinated by the Indian roller at Ranthambore for its beautiful colours, I was amazed to spot him in Gurgaon. The bird looks wonderful when in flight, especially the different blues in its wings. It's local name is Neelkanth. It is the state bird of many states including Andra Pradesh, Karnataka, Bihar and Orissa.
Early bird catches the worm

Happy after a hearty breakfast

Let me see, who's been clicking me?
This is just the beginning! I have spotted quite a few interesting birds on different days, including Greater coucal, rufous treepie, falcons etc. but yet to capture them in my lens.

Monday, 12 September 2011

What are little kids made of?

There goes a popular nursery ryhme from the early 19th century

What are little boys made of?
Frogs and snails
And puppy dog's tails
That's what little boys are made of

What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And everything nice
That's what little girls are made of

Being a mother of a 10 year old daughter and 4 year old son, I have often pondered at what my little kids are made of. Are they similar in their tastes and interests?Are they different because of being a girl or a boy? Or are they different because they are different people?

When my son was about 2 years old, I started taking him to the park in our housing complex. The first revelation of the difference hit me when I saw that he was more interested in the parking that I had to walk through, than in the park. My daughter had never bothered to look at the cars and the two wheelers in the parking . Her main interest was to go the park for the swing. She was not too keen on the slide, but it was hard to convince her to leave the swing to give turn to the next child. While he likes to swing too, he is equally happy with the slide. But what would give him a real high was to to sit on a motorcycle in the parking and pretend to ride.

My daughter loved picking leaves and flowers in the park. She was fascinated by the different colors and the textures of leaves. Another object, which never failed to catch her attention were the bird feathers. Even now, she has the eye to pick interesting feathers. In our trip to Goa, she picked some parrot feathers. When we visited Kufri zoo this year,outside the pheasantry, she found a feather of the Western Tragopan. These are precious objects of her treasure. My son, on the other hand, occasionally picks up stones and sticks.

At 3-4 years age, my daughter used to get completely bored in car journeys, but he has a great time looking at the road, the various cars, trucks, buses, autos, motorcycles and so on. He has a special fascination for the construction trucks.Thanks to his interest, I and my daughter have also got exposed to this new world of interesting vehicles. We also smile and comment when we see excavators, cranes, road rollers and tractors on the road. We now know that excavators and back-hoes are different, as the latter has a front loader basket.

At this age, my daughter loved collecting dolls. In every trip to the market, she would want to pick up a new one. At times, I found the new one identical to what she had at home, but she would quickly clarify the differences 'Mamma, look, her hair is brown and not black. And her dress is so different'. As soon as we would arrive home, she would sit with all her dolls and get started with a dress-exchanging session. I was amazed to see a similar trait in my son. Not with dolls, but with cars. As soon as a car would be home, he would take the tyres out. It hit me one day when he got me a truck and told me to fit a car tyre in that. Of course it won't fit and he was hard to console.

A common love they had while growing up, was for toy animal sets. But again while she would put them outside her doll houses, he would put them on the big trucks and take them for a ride.

Wait, there is a long list of similarities too. After having disposed off my daughter's old toys, which I thought would be irrelevant for him, very soon, I had to bring myself to buy a kitchen set for my son. Infact he already has two sets by now. He loves rolling chappatis as much as she did. Both of them love playing with clay, sand and water. The both have an inherent love for glue and scotch tapes. My son has been made to progress to a scotch tape fitted in a dispenser, so that I can be relieved of the job of cutting the tape for him all day long. My son spends a good amount of time, fixing things using the tapes. Today morning, when I picked my kurta hanging in the bathroom, down came the churidar too, attached to the kurta with a scotch tape! They both love stickers, the common interest being smileys, stars and other shapes. They love magnets, reading lights, torches, umbrellas. They both love messing around and creating an imaginary world of their own.

While the similarities might have made it easier for the siblings to understand each other, I think it is the differences which have made their little worlds so much richer and interesting.

Do you also sometimes stop and wonder at what your little kids are made of?

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Picture Story - The Rotten Apple

This is a short story of the nok-jhok (silly fights) between a parrot couple (Zoom the pictures for better clarity). One fine day, Mr Parrot lovingly offers an apple to Mrs Parrot. But she does not like it and is upset.

Mrs Parrot - That apple was rotten. Couldn't you find a better one?
Mr Parrot - Forget about the apple now. Look at me, don't you like the rose ring around my neck. I have the best one among all my friends.
Mrs Parrot - No, I don't. I am going.

Mr Parrot - Stupid me, I should have tasted the apple beforehand. I am missing her terribly.

Mrs Parrot settles herself on a different tree.
Mrs Parrot (thinking to herself) - Huh, what does he think of himself. The best neck ring! Who cares?

Mrs Parrot - What takes him so long? He should have come by now, chasing me!

Mr Parrot arrives finally.
Mrs Parrot (heaving a sigh of relief) - Here, he comes. Thank God!

They settle themselves on a different branch.
Mr Parrot - I missed you sweetheart. Did you?
Mrs Parrot - Yeah, Alright
(after a few seconds) But how could you...I mean really how could you offer me a rotten apple? And then how come you took so long to find me?

Familiar, No?

The End
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