Thursday, November 27, 2014

On Being Political

I've had a small whiff of office politics while I was at my earlier job. My reaction was one of distaste and "I can keep myself above this and do my work" but I didn't have enough time to realize if it was working or not.

I've learned a whole lot since then, about bullshit and the peculiar variety called corporate bullshit. My husband taught me almost everything I know about negotiating at the work place. How to ask for something, how to stand my ground, how to be tactful. He has also reiterated to me many times that I have to evolve past being a "straight shooter" because real world is not ideal. I am finally getting the hang of what he means.

I've now come to a point where I willfully embrace the politicking. I feel confident that I can tell bullshit from real, know when to take stuff seriously and when not to, when to faff superficially, and, how to react to statements, read between the lines, and how to detect bluster and not give it any attention. Somewhere I feel like I've lost a small part of me, but that doesn't bother me too much.

Overall, its a very empowering feeling.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Back to the grind

Yeah! It took me exactly two months to go from joblessness to getting back to a job.

I ended with two offers on my plate, and took the one that had several clear advantages over the other. Is it my dream job? Perhaps not. But it is a step towards my dream job, like Sheryl Sandberg advised, and so I took it. It has its risks, and several known devils, but which job doesn't? I am excited and looking forward to doing my best at it.

A friend remarked that I had just the right period of joblessness- not too short so I could relax and unwind, and not too long that I'd get bored and restless. He was quite right. At first, I almost felt sad that my aaram ki zindagi was over. But that's only a small part of me. I did feel bad that I didn't go through all the items on my list. But my lists have always been overambitious. So here I will focus on the ones I did accomplish in my downtime.

1) Paper- almost there. Not out the door, but that will happen very soon. I give myself a 6/10.

2) Odd jobs and fixits around the house- Got a lot done!

3) Socialize - met one blog friend (yay!). Reconnected with a couple more. OK. pas mal.

4) Enjoyed myself- random lunches and coffees with B while he was slaving away at work, explored the local markets, walked about and discovered nooks and crannies in the neighbourhood, and felt thankful all over again for the move back to this city. :-) Here I give myself 10/10!

5) Got fit- addressed one niggling back issue. Did not lose weight like I hoped to, but that's next.

So I think the one I totally flunked out was to learn driving. It is the least appealing of all.

In other news - I learned this awesome trick from my husband - to get rid of water that's entered your ear- put a few more drops of water into the same ear, and as soon as you feel a gurgling sensation, tilt your head and jerk the water out. Worked like a charm!

In the whole to make or not make baby department- we are still undecided! That doesn't mean we are agonizing or losing sleep over it but well- let's see.

Monday, October 27, 2014

6 weeks unemployed

The job search hasn't gone too well- but I've one solid lead that I'm not yet ready to take the plunge and accept, in the hope that something else will come along. But I also need to remind myself about the limitations of India. And why my ideal job probably won't exist here, so I need to make my peace with that and set the right expectations, and not give up an opportunity because it lacks something that is probably absent in India alltogether.

I've read two good books on women in career- Lean In- the more popular one by Sheryl Sandberg- is OK-ish- inspirational at best, but not much advice that I can translate to my life. Another one by Mrs Moneypenny  - I thought had a lot more practical advice I could use, and well written too.

I have reached the zenith of my patience with my father-in-law and his condition. To be very honest, he doesn't really do anything to bother us. And we have a 24h caregiver for him, so I am not attending to him. But still, I find myself getting irritated, getting tired of dealing with his dementia. Part of it, I think, is because of my innate and self-fulfilling need to fix everything, to make everything right. And when I know here there is nothing one can fix, it makes me frustrated. Part of it is just  my own ageing and reducing patience for repetitive questioning, dealing with an old man a lot more frustrated at his condition and inability to be coherent than we, as caregivers can be. Part of it is the worry about the endlessness of the situation, how are we going to tackle it as it gets worse. And, I think, a teeny part of it is bitterness- that I have invested considerable patience in tackling this situation, I feel like I have no energies left to do something more fulfilling for us- like- for e.g. raising a kid.

I need to detach myself from this situation, and practically have no reason not to, given we are spending so much money on the caregiver, just to give us some peace of mind a break from this.

We have been able to go on several nice trips in the recent past, thanks to the 24h caregiver. And in addition to exploring a new town, taking in the history, enjoying nice hotel rooms, it gives us a much needed break from living with my father-in-law and dealing with him. I have realised that we are really lucky we get to do these, and I also realise how much fun it is traveling with B. We share the same passion for travel, similar interests in what we want to see, what we don't want to do and are open enough to indulge in the other's interest when it is not our preference. Our getaways have always been so much fun to plan and to experience. I think that we should start a scrap book of sorts to store the memories..if not for posterity, then at least for our own sake, to look back to and feel good about lives every time we feel trapped in our situation.

We are thinking a lot about having a kid. It makes sense, as we have reached the now or never age. There's hazaar unsolicited advice from all quarters- has been there since the day we got married. But I wish people gave more practical advice. For e.g. nobody tells you no health insurance provider covers maternity unless you have been with them for at least 2 years!

I'd really like some honest advice from couples who chose to remain childless. Is it really as bad as others make it out to be? We ourselves know of at least one such couple, but it seems like such personal territory that I cannot imagine asking them about it. I once read this article that was very honest, but that is just one data point.

To quote from it:

..And, for the succeeding few years, I gave it all very little thought. I was aware, of course, that my friends were operating for part of their lives on a different planet. That they were building new networks at the school gates, and in the organisations to which their children were attached. But in my job there was never a shortage of places to go, stuff to do, people to meet. And, still in the world of couples, no shortage of social invitations to parties, and other people's family celebrations.
So what nagged at me in my 40s, and subsequently my 50s, was not the sharp ache that so devastates those women who longed for children and couldn't conceive; more a sort of sadness that I hadn't experienced one of the most extraordinary experiences a woman can have. A sadness born more of unsatisfied curiosity than unfulfilled womanhood...

 I myself am unable to identify any more whether I want a kid or not. I don't have fears of unsatisfied curiosity or unfulfilled womanhood. All I see currently is fear of responsibility and resistance towards what I see as another lifelong chore. There was a phase I had baby envy. But I don't even feel that any more.

That said, I do think I would enjoy having and bringing up a kid with my husband. It will give a new meaning to our lives, which now largely revolve around office and F-I-L.

But is that reason enough? And can we handle it, in addition to what we have now, which is only going to get more difficult to deal with? Will I end up sacrificing my career for it- in the times of harder-to-find child care etc.? What if I have complications and end up with a child that needs more than normal care/attention? Will it burn a big hole through our already strained finances?

Like most other decisions, my risk-averseness paralyzes me into choosing the comfort-zone status quo.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bringing back W O M M

Whats On My Mind- A great way to dump the distractions and focus on work.

1. My FIL with dementia- is becoming really difficult to care for. He is at the stage where he requires some amount of assistance with everyday living, but resents it. We are paying dearly for a 24h caregiver, compromising on our privacy, etc. only to have my FIL be nasty and snappy with him. Its very frustrating. I realise where my FIL's resentment is coming from but it is very hard to deal with. And the thought that there is no end to this is even more depressing.

2. I need a day of focus to get the last bit done on my manuscript. It helps to read all my old posts where I dragged my feet, felt miserable and kept getting stuck in those vicious cycles. Got to avoid that rut now. Once I get the paper done, there is so much more to do.

3. Need to set hourly goals and work in 20 min bursts.

Over and out.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Stay At Home Person

So the job in B1 did not work out. I think it was a blessing in disguise, given that I actually found myself often questioning the move to B1. It has gotten harder to live in, filthier, and a lot more chaotic than I remember it.

And the biggest draw for me to move to B1- the presence of a huge network of close friends- didn't really get exploited because of the crazy traffic. I had a close friend in the building right next to my workplace, and I never visited her , because, I was afraid I wouldn't get an auto back home if I did that post work. Hah!

Anyhow, I am back to B2. Several kilos heavier after eating all the vada pavs and other assorted junk food that I loved, with a pinched nerve in my back thanks to the 9 hour  desk job, 1 hour on the blessed WEH (Western Express Highway) and auto drivers that are always in a hurry and do not care if they are dislocating your vertebra, one by one.

For the most part, I don't feel bad about this. Like a friend helped me rationalize- I got to explore this option- of working in B2, and finding it less than optimum. Except that I miss the job and I don't quite enjoy the unemployed status.

I got to do some soul searching, and have chalked up following life improvement goals while I hunt for a job. So I shouldn't complain. Below they are in order of priority

1) Finish post doc paper
2)  Gym + learn driving + get back to cooking
3) Find a job
4) Renew friendships/networks in B1.

So yeah. All the best to me.

And I will leave with a picture of the day- this really is an awesome photo - love it!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Blogging is such a thing of the past

Isn't it?

When I have to work on my paper, I spend time searching for the blogs I once knew. And most of them are all long gone.

Well, to me it is nice to have a slate to scribble on, even if it reads like a random diary and disorganized list of thoughts. And yes, when I need that kick on my butt or a bit of pep talk, it helps to come back to this and revisit.

So we recently celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary. We went away for the weekend to a resort, had a relaxed time and I declared that it was the best of the 4 anniversaries we have celebrated. B my husband didn't necessarily concur or differ, but then I don't remember actually asking his opinion. :-)

Anyhow. On our way back, in the auto, on the western express highway, no later than 1030 pm, two guys on a motorbike came up close to our auto, snatched my handbag and sped off. Just like that, in a flash. With it went my phone, some jewelry, bank cards and a whole lot of stuff that you can't assign value to but ..

We went to the closest police station. The autodriver was sympathetic and waited outside for us while we went in to lodge our complaint. The police officer was sympathetic. He let us use the computer at the station to go online, check my email for some ac numbers, phone numbers of my land lady (I had lost my keys too and we had no way of getting back home). He spent a lot of time trying to ascertain exactly on which flyover it happened, and as soon as that was established, explained that it was not his jurisdiction and we'd have to lodge the FIR at another station.

So the nice autodriver took us there. On the way he had a flat, and took a detour to get it fixed. I was now certain that he was part of the gang and something worse would happen. Nothing did. We paid him off at the next police station. Here the constables were a bit more distracted. Not particularly busy. But very politely talked us out of loding and FIR and insisted instead that we file a stolen complaint. And that they would do their due, but of course, not to expect to recover anything. Heh. They didn't even list my jewelry in the stolen complaint- just cards, documents , and phone details.

My mom says its a family tradition - she once had her chain snatched outside a temple near their house. In her case, they lodged an FIR, and two years later the robbers were caught, and all the gold seized from them was melted, converted into one long gold chain and cut up and distributed amongst all the complainants. :-) Crazy but great to see that the system actually worked.

The police mentioned that these incidents were becoming quite common on the highway. It was the first time I heard of someone reaching into an auto to snatch your bag, but after this, I googled and found that there were several incidents, and in some cases people actually got their stuff back.
I don't know what is the worst part of this incident that happened to me- losing jewelry with sentimental and monetary value, the repeated "if only" thought process, the fact that I am unable to sit in an auto at ease, and that I think several times before making late evening plans..that I think I have become borderline paranoid...the entire rigmarole of canceling cards, doing the rounds of banks.changing locks..etc. etc. -questioning our whole decision of moving to this city....the list goes on.

I don't know. But these are my lessons learned:-

1. Do not overpack for a trip- for a weekend trip, there was really no need for me to pack in all that jewelry.
2. Have the phone IMEI number handy, and install the right anti-theft apps on the phone
3. Have a password to lock the phone screen, for whatever it is worth.
4. Have a hard copy of important account numbers, drivers license number, passport copies and phone numbers and keep it with a few trusted people.
5. I will not list "keep the bag at the back" in an auto etc. That is common sense. In our case, we had many bags and this bag happened to be on my lap. The corollary to that is keep the least important bag on the lap if you have to. :D
6. Learn detachment with material stuff- learn to let go and not allow incidents like this to stop you from enjoying life.
7. Pepper spray and a loud whistle. Not that it would have helped here, but a general safety measure.
8. Be smart, be alert but not paranoid. :-)

The fact of the matter is that this incident has left me less thrilled about the move. I cannot change that.

However I continue to insist that our 4th wedding anniversary was the best ever and this incident happened AFTER it. :-)

Monday, June 16, 2014

The thing about procrastination

I read that at bet you only barely end up accomplishing the "have-to-do's" , after much feet dragging and not in the best way possible, and,  "wish-to-do's" never get done.

So true.

I have to

submit 3 year old manuscript.

I wish to

meet friends
blog about my new life :)

But nothing new about this dump I am in right now...

All I do know is I am not alone. It helps to know that I'm not the only post-doc who has slacked off on her manuscript. But it doesn't make it any better.

I am now trying to work in 20 min bursts of focus. Lets see how it goes.

Also I need to relearn blogging. I have forgotten.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

I've moved

to B1.

At the start I want to apologise to some wonderful people I knew via blogging and always planned on meeting while I lived in B2. And the one dude I did end up meeting but did not meet often enough. Sorry all of you...if you still read this..

I still hope/plan to meet you..eventually, who knows?

My job was getting tiresome and I felt like I was not growing intellectually/scientifically. So I decided to take up a nice opportunity, even if it meant moving cities, us becoming a weekend couple, maintaining two rented apartments, etc. etc. etc. The weather change is what hit me first, though. I had forgotten how how humid and sultry B1 gets..and didnt help that B2 has glorious weather. The long distance is tough, but I'd like to say we are managing alright. The weekly flights are making a big hole in our pocket, though.

The biggest advantage about moving to B1 was all the friends we have here. After ~ 3 years in B2 and barely any socializing (sorry again, co-bloggers) I was looking forward to a life of having friends to meet with. Its also great to be back in a city that is charged and always on the move. A city with a sense of humor, so that I can crack random jokes with complete strangers and they get it, do not stare at me in horror or judge. A city where everyone believes in working hard right from the auto wallah to the bais to my coworkers....and yes, it is great to have a job that I am enjoying and growing in.

At a stage in life when we should have been putting down our roots, investing in a house, may be even planning a kid...we decided to do something quite disruptive. There are many times I question it. I have B's unconditional support and that makes me a bit less conflicted. It may not have been the wisest move- financially as well as from a quality of life perspective. But B knew how important it is for me to have a fulfilling job. And reminds me about that every time I question it. We meet on weekends, and try to make the most of them. So B carries back all my dirty laundry for me every time he visits, and has it washed and ironed for me to bring back when I visit. I am living like a bachelor ;) although I never did live like this when I was single. It was different in the US, where daily conveniences like gas/fridge/laundry (if you're lucky) etc. come built in when you rent a new place. I am still getting those things sorted here, and enjoy getting pampered by B every time I go "home". Yeah B2 is definitely still home.

I may have spent ~ 10 yrs living on my own in the U.S., but living together has gotten me used to a division of labour of sorts. I enjoyed sharing chores with B- and enjoyed being able to hand off a chore to him if I was too tired... But its also fun to explore a new life in a new place. I am sure it is harder on B, as he has to deal with my FIL all by himself. My FIL is deteriorating steadily, and moving him to B1 eventually, is going to be very challenging. But...we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

Another thing that may come out of this move is that I may start blogging more often. :)