Friday, August 04, 2017

Locker room lores

We have a state-of-the-art gym and a Olympic sized pool offered to use as part of the amenities provided by my office building. I have used the gym a grand total of one time. The pool has fared slightly better in terms of the number of visits as my work friends and I are bitten by the swimming bug every summer. For the duration of the swimming fever, we try to visit the pool at least once a week during lunch time.

Swimming fever season is currently on and we visited the pool today. The swim session went off fine and we headed off to the locker rooms post session. I blithely dialed the code to the locker I had stowed my belongings in and turned the lock to "unlock". It refused to budge. Puzzled, I ensured that the number code was right and tried again to set it to the open positon. No dice. With a sinking sensation I realized that I had probably forgotten to set a code in the first place and now had no clue what the random number I had locked the locker with was!

As I stood there in my swim clothes, dripping water, I ran through my options: a. wait till someone else showed up and ask if they could go fetch some help. b. see if there was a phone to call for help c. go for help myself. Plans a and b were swiftly discarded as the locker room did not have a single other human soul in it and there were no phones. So, with my towel clutched and thanking God for wearing a swim suit which looked more like a wet suit (to prevent zebra-tanning), I dripped my way out. I saw a security guard immediately outside the locker room and told him of my predicament. He brightly informed me that he did not work for the gym, so he could not help me. !@#$%. Fortunately, there was another security guard who also worked for the same company but who was quicker on the uptake. He offered to go and get help from the gym front desk so that I would not have to drip my way there. Phew.

He came back with a master key. I took it and went back to the ladies locker room, opened my locker with it and took it back out. It all ended better than I had envisioned but I was still pretty annoyed with myself for being so scatter-brained.

once I got ready, I went back to meet my waiting colleague. I started telling him about my mishap and he promptly said "So you got the master key". I was surprised that he knew about the existence of such a key. But he finished listening to my story. I concluded it with "I am still a little upset at being so careless". My colleague consoled me saying, "That's okay, many people do that. So, don't worry too much. On the other hand, you know, once, I forgot which locker I had put my stuff in. And then I had to try to open every locker in the room. Now, that was embarrassing."

I think I laughed for a solid 2 minutes.

Seriously - nothing in life is so bad that it can't get worse.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Easter Egg Hunt

After BA's addition to our family, we are making an extra effort to follow cultural and religious traditions. When we were in India, this meant eating plenty of good food (why, what did you think following religious traditions meant ;-)?) during various festivals. Now, in the US, we continue to mark the Indian festivals. In addition, we try to attend various American cultural events as well. Thus, it was going for the fireworks displayfor 4th of July (a bad idea in retrospect. Infant BA was startled by the loud noise and cried non-stop for the entire 15-minute display), selecting a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch for Halloween, shopping for Christmas, I mean photo with the mall Santa for Christmas and so on.

This month was the turn of the Easter Egg hunt. I got a notification that our local park had an Easter Egg hunt and we decided to go. We have never been to an egg hunt before and we had no idea what it entailed. Still, taking BA to a place filled with children seemed like something he would enjoy and so, on to the Easter Egg Hunt (EEH) it was.

The EEH was on a Saturday. It was supposed to start at 10am. S and I made mega plans to leave the house at 8.30a so that we could find parking and then be well on time for the EEH. Nice, solid plan, no?

Only hitch was, we got up only at 8am and by the time all of us were fed, watered and dressed, it was 9.30am when we left the house. We found parking fairly easily and walked at a fast pace towards the EEH area.

We could see that the area had been demarcated for kids of various age groups. We made a beeline for the under-2 area. It was 10.03am when we entered that area. We looked around and saw clusters of toddlers and parents sitting around collections of plastic eggs.

Hmm - where had they got all the eggs from? There were absolutely no eggs to be spotted on the ground other than what the other families were already holding on to. We walked around the area just to make sure. Yup - no eggs, zilch, nada.

S and I were feeling vaguely disappointed. BA on the other hand kept racing around and stopped by the various families, curiously observing them. One such family saw his empty hands, smiled and handed him a plastic egg. BA after examining it for 30 seconds handed to us and continued racing around. I opened the egg with great curiosity and saw a tiny eraser, the "gift" in it. Oooooh - this is what an egg retrieved during the egg hunt would look like.

Then another couple with a toddler girl spotted us laughing about the eggless state of the ground and said,"Yeah, the eggs were gone as soon as the whistle went off at 10am. We were just parking our bicycles and by the time we got in 'poof - no eggs'". Finally - we at least knew what had happened. We had been late!

At 10.15a, the volunteers started packing up the dividers. By 10.20 other than an occasional flapping sign, there was no sign that there had been an egg hunt. We picked our empty-but-for-one-egg bag which we had brought along in lieu of a basket for the hunt (ha ha ha) and made our way to the face painting area. From there it was back to the car. As we walked, I looked at my sport shoes, specially worn for the egg-hunting occasion. Really - what exactly did I think an egg hunt for a toddler would entail that I would need to wear sport shoes?

Still - it was a fun experience overall. If not anything else, it has taught us to never be late for an egg hunt. Good lesson to learn *before* finding no eggs on a hunt starts mattering to BA!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


It is a truth universally acknowledged that Archana trying her hand at any aiming game will wind up sucking at it.  So, a couple of weeks ago, when I discovered the existence of a pool (a.k.a billiards) table at work, I wasn't too excited. However, a few of my co-workers made pool into the go-to choice of work-break upon this discovery. One day last week, one of tried to persuade me to give pool-playing a shot too.

Given my history of "success" at playing aiming-games, I was not particularly looking forward to trying to play pool at work. Making a fool of myself while playing pool in front of friends and family (both of which I have done spectacularly at various thankfully rare points in time) was one thing. But in front of co-workers? No way!

But then, it was just *one* other co-worker who is also a good friend. How bad could it be?

Not that bad. Turned out the co-worker was quite the beginner as well and I actually wound up winning. How cool, maybe pool was the *one* aiming game that I could actually play decently!

So, the next time round, when two other co-workers were also thrown into the mix, I was very blase and agreed to play. As soon as we started playing, it was quite obvious that the other two co-workers were definitely not at beginner level. Within a couple of shots, it also became quite obvious that the latest entry in the long list of aiming-games I suck at is pool. Quite obviously, my victory in the first game was a classic case of beginner's luck. For, that day, I lost *every* game I played. By the time we were done, my ego was somewhere underground trying to shrivel up into a little ball and die.

Two days later, the four of us again got a chance to play together. As we partnered up into twos, V and K in one team and B and myself in the other, V said, "Hey, don't underestimate them. B is playing really well today". To which K replied, laughing, "That is okay. I have full faith in Archana's ability to balance things out." Though I joined in the good-natured laughter that followed, I was mortified. Because - I *knew* that K was right. B and I did win that game. My "contribution" though, consisted of sinking exactly one ball into the hole followed by rolling in the white cue ball as well. Great!

Still - pool is addictive. So I gamely continue to play. I have come to the conclusion that while I have no innate pool-playing ability whatsoever,  I can probably at least become a non-bad player if I practised enough. While it feels great to be good at something, one does not necessarily need to be good at something to enjoy it, no?

Bring on the aiming-games, I say!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Staircase to stamina

I work in the 7th floor of my office building. Soon after I rejoined work here, I noticed that a few of my co-workers always took the stairs especially while going up. This seemed like a good way of sneaking in a mini-workout. So, whenever I was not carrying anything very heavy, I started using the stairs instead of the elevator to go up. I continue to do so till date.

Thanks to my persuading (okay, fine, nagging), I usually get anyone who is accompanying me to use the stairs as well. Sure, these being long flights of stairs, we all sound huffy-puffy a few floors in, but with company, the climb does not seem quite so long.

Last evening, a couple of co-workers and I were heading back to work after some event. As usual, your truly steered them to the stairs and we started climbing. We had just crossed the fourth floor, when one of my panting coworkers said to the other, "Look at Archana, she is not even out of breath." and then to me, "Do you do this regularly?". That was when I realized that, I was indeed not sounding like a leaky tire. Before I could respond, the co-worker added in an impressed voice, "You are still looking fresh as well - not even broken into a sweat". True, I was not feeling *that* winded out either. I grinned and said that I take the stairs almost everyday and apparently the effort was finally paying off.

Somehow the co-worker's comments made me feel ridiculously pleased with myself. I try to sneak in extra activity wherever I can and tell myself that every little bit helps me be fitter and build up stamina as well. While I can see that for myself at times, it was still very nice to get unsolicited validation from someone else.

So continuing with stair-climbing it is. Too bad for anyone who is accompanying me to any place with stairs.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Cars, trains and planes

The last time we traveled 20+ hours on a plane with BA was when he was a teeny-tiny baby. He was the model baby on the flight - he mostly ate and then slept in his bassinet. When he wasn't doing either of those activities, he adorably waved his tiny fists and legs and smiled. He cried for about 15 minutes just before we landed in the US. That was it. Therefore, whenever any other baby on that plane fussed, S and I smugly looked at each other, looked at BA and then took full credit for our well-behaved baby (I know).

On to India
This time round, for our trip to India we were under no delusion about getting a repeat performance from BA on the plane. For, BA is now an active toddler and even 10 minutes of passive waiting in a waiting room before a doctor visit gets him antsy. To our pleasant surprise the trip from USto India wasn't half bad. Sure, there was a short stretch when BA gave a very good impression of a wailing toddler but overall, the journey wasn't anywhere as bad as we imagined it would be. So S and I felt some of our earlier smugness returning.

The plan
Due to ignorance being bliss, we had planned our India "vacation" such that it was packed with travel. We were traveling to 4 different cities using three different modes of transportation. We were hoping that BA would cope and were planning to learn travelling-with-baby lessons on the go.

The first trip was to a city a few hours away from Chennai. We had planned to drive. I packed two pieces of luggage for BA. One containing all his clothes and the other containing his food, toys, diapers etc. Hey, we were going in a car! For the 3-day trip, I think I pretty much packed up everything that we had brought for BA from the US for the 3-week India trip. The car journey started off fine - but BA threw up promptly after his regular breakfast. Okay, note added to travel handbook: feed baby lightly during travel.

Our destination was a resort and it was quite kid-friendly. BA *loved* it. He was like the penguin in Happy Feet. He just couldn't stand still and insisted on walking by himself, never mind that he has a tendency to treat the whole world like one big flat surface and walks accordingly. He examined everything: the grass, the stairs, the planter, the table, the beach. Everything. And he had this huge grin on his face like someone had shown him the doors to heaven. Seeing him so happy made everyone around him happy. That was a great trip.

We traveled to the next destination by train. This time round, I realized that *we* would have to do the lugging around of the luggage and culled BA's packing to one bag instead of two. On the train, as the amma-ji, I got the "honor" of sharing my berth with BA. I had originally planned to sleep on the lower berth with BA and jokingly said that in case everyone else heard a thump in the middle of the night, it was just me falling off. S came up with the suggestion that BA and I should sleep on the upper berth instead because that berth had the vertical metal supports which would prevent me from falling off.

I am so glad that I took up on that suggestion. Turns out that my toddler who is only a little more than 1/3rds of my height thought he was entitled to 2/3rds of the berth. I kid you not. BA happily spread his tiny frame across most of the berth and fell asleep while I perched on tiny sliver of the berth still available and prayed that the metal support would be able to bear my weight. And then, when I got up to grab some water, BA further spread himself into the teeny-tiny space that I had. Dude!!

That was, least to say, an *interesting* experience. On the bright side, BA at least slept quite well (the same could definitely not be said of his amma).

The third destination, we traveled to by plane. This time round, I managed to squeeze BA's stuff in 2/3rd of one bag. Ha, turns out baggage too expands (or contracts) to fill the space available. BA did quite okay on the short flight - our boy after all, was a veteran of super long-haul flights and a short flight was barely a blip on the radar.

And, the domestic traveling was done
After all the travels, BA, predictably, fell sick. We were nevertheless quite proud of him for having been a trooper during all the travelling. He had thoroughly enjoyed the crowds, the change of scenery, the new environment, pretty much everything. As far as he was concerned, he had had a good time.

Back to the US
Remember our earlier smugness during the flight from US to India? Let me tell you one thing which will serve you very well in life: Never be smug. Because, if you are, the smugness will come back and bite you in the behind. Our journey from India to US was the stuff nightmares are made of. BA, maybe due to his still lingering cold or due to being cooped up after open spaces or due to just being a toddler, just couldn't settle down on the plane.

Remember all those plane journeys you made you were child-less when there used to be this one kid on the plane who just wouldn't stop fussing and whom you felt like tossing off the plane? Well, on our flight back to the US,that kid was BA. BA did not sleep. Neither did S and I. I doubt very much that any of the passengers in a 10ft radius around us slept either. For BA expressed his displeasure frequently and vocally. We were 3 hours from San Francisco when BA finally slept. That was One. Long. Journey.

Post-vacation glow
In all though, the trip to India was totally worth it. I think I have now become a 100% ISO-certified mother. While I had a great time meeting up with family and friends, my greatest source of pleasure during the trip was seeing just how much BA enjoyed himself. I delighted in his every smile and laugh. Seeing him happy made me even happier.

Back when a baby was just a nebulous idea in my future, one of my friends with kids said that the greatest thing about having kids was experiencing the world all over again through their eyes. I kind of understood her back then. Only now do I realize just how much joy that can bring.

Friday, March 28, 2014

You officially feel a million years old ...

... when you realize that people born in the early 1990s are now more than 20 years old.

It is just a matter of time before I become an "antique-piece". Sigh.

Monday, February 24, 2014

The face that sunk a thousand ships

Sometime back, S and I wanted to make minor changes to our passports. I was thinking that it would simply involve dropping off the passports and picking them up a few hours later with the changes incorporated.

Turned out it was not so simple. Due to new rules, we would be issue *new* passports with the information. This would involve going through a bunch of steps at the local passport office in Chennai. 

My heart sank: Indian passport offices are hardly hives of efficiency and I could see visions of myself slowly going mad running around in circles around the passport office, unable to meet all the arcane requirements needed to complete the process.

Which was when S happily said that there was a new passport office in Tambaram which apparently was the epitome of efficiency and that getting things done there was a breeze. That was where we would go. Really? Skeptic me was unconvinced but hey, what choice did I have?

Anyway, on the day of the appointment (which, wonders of wonders, had been made online), we decided to have an early start so that we could be first in line and get things done faster. I woke up around 4am or so, looking more like a zombie than anything human. BA who, back then, was a teeny-tiny baby, had had an "active" night which translated to minimal sleep for both S and me (note though, in such scenarios, S mostly continues to look like a fresh daisy while I usually look like a tired racoon that the cat dragged in from a dump).

I got ready in a daze and pulled on the first set of clothes my hands touched in the closet. Then I swept back my hair into a band, not even bothering to comb through properly. I was ready to go.

We reached the passport office and there was barely any crowd. I was stunned to note the clean building and the spacious waiting rooms. Upstairs, more wonders awaited us. There were a whole bunch of counters manned by enthusiastic persons. Were we really in a government office?

One of the enthusiastic persons called my token number (each of us got a number). He typed out all my info, verified it with me and then said, "Look straight ahead". And before I knew what was happening - *click*. Yup, he had taken a picture of me, in all my dishevelled glory. At this point, I detected some movement out of the corner of my eye.

I turned around to see S laughing hard. So hard that he was clutching his stomach and beginning to gasp for breath. I was wondering what that was all about when the efficient counter person handed over a folder with all my documents. The topmost one was a doc with the picture of me that had just been clicked.

I think it was. I am no Miss. Universe, but I usually at least look human. The face in the picture could have cracked mirrors. Scared screaming babies into silence. Killed someone due to causing too much laughter. Which was when I realized what exactly had had S gasping for breath. 

As I took my documents and sat near him, he said, "Oh my God, the preview of your face looked so funny - I have no idea how they managed to get such a terrible picture of you. And the top is a bit too shabby, you should probably retire it.". Aaaaargh you joker, wouldn't it have been more useful had you warned me to at least tuck in the stray strands of hair hanging around my head? 

As it always happens, the person at the counter S went to told him that he was going to take a pic of S and did S want to straighten himself up before that (this - to S who, as I mentioned earlier, was already looking daisy fresh). For good measure, the person then checked with S to make sure that he was indeed happy with the picture taken.  All. My.Time.

So yeah, it turned out that that wonderful picture was what was going to go on my new passport as well. I thought, oh well, at least there are only 5 more years to go. But no, the passport office had renewed it for 10 years. Yaay me!

So, for the next 10 years, I can have the pleasure of showing that beautiful mug of mine to complete strangers whenever I travel out of the country. All. My. Time.

My mom of course had a good life lesson for me to take away from this experience (how do moms manage to do that?): That's why you should always look presentable whenever you go out. Gee, thanks mom!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Like most parents of today, S and I are all for reading books out loud to BA. That I love reading makes it even more of a reason to try to foist the same habit upon my son. I can hardly wait for the day BA can start reading and enjoying books on his own.

The public library in our city has a nice collection of children's books and we usually pick up a few books for BA during every visit. They are all kiddie board books. Even then, the books are usually very colorful and have an interesting enough "storyline" that I genuinely enjoy reading them out to BA.

Then yesterday, with BA sitting attentively on my lap, I started reading out a book called "Hello Doctor". It was book about a bunch of animals waiting in a doctor's clinic to get checked out by the human doctor. The book started off well with the animals complaining about various ailments and the doctor making silly diagnoses for them.

Then, I noticed that the animals in the waiting room seemed to be disappearing one by one in the pictures without being diagnosed and assumed that maybe they had fled the clinic after overhearing his silly diagnoses. I continued reading.

A wolf went into the doctor's office. As the doc checked out the wolf's mouth, the wolf sucked the doctor right in and swallowed him whole. Whaaatt....

Then the wolf came out of the doc's office and with an evil grin, asked the next patient, a lamb, to come in. At this point, I was looking like this:

Then realization dawned that the other missing animals had not left the clinic but had apparently found new residences in the wolf's tummy :-O!

As I hastily shut the book, I was heartily happy that BA still cannot read or understand most of what is being read to him! Seriously, this was a book for toddlers? Which young kid will ever agree to go to a doctor again after reading this book? *I* had to make an effort to stop myself from getting creeped out!

Valuable lesson for the day: read every book before letting BA get his hands on it!

Cat pic from . When did I become a cat-pic posting person!?!

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Happy New Year to the one person who is still following my blog (Hi, Mum!). 2013 flew by in a flash. I would have had a tough time believing that an entire year has gone by if I did not have BA's baby pics to look back to. I keep wondering how the tiny baby has grown into a toddler so soon. Who would have thought that nostalgia and reminiscing would start this early!


A few random thoughts:

1. I only recently noticed that while song lyrics in Tamil usually refer to rain in a positive way and to the sun in a negative way, English song lyrics are the exact opposite. I guess this is understandable considering the climate of the places these songs are usually written it. I am just surprised that it has taken me this long to notice this!

2. From childhood it is drummed into our heads that it is what it is inside that counts, not exterior beauty. The other day I was thinking about how a person's personality is also decided by his/her genes to some extent just as his/her exterior appearance. So why is having a good personality touted as a super great virtue when inherited genes probably played a part in that as well?

3. In a situation which requires an apology, the apology works best if it is offered without an added supposed-to-be-mitigating excuse. Usually, a no-strings-attached apology quickly defuses the situation and then the hurt party becomes more willing to listen and to forgive. Yes, it is tough for the apologizer to admit culpability but it usually works out great for everyone eventually.

4. Life is too short to read crappy books. I have finally given up on my "Have to finish reading any book I start reading" rule.

5. I really like ice-cream cakes or rather, cake with ice cream. 


I hope to write more in 2014 - let's see how that goes!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Quick silver

My mom has very few grey hairs on her head. I was very sure (make that 100% hopeful) that I would follow right in her footsteps.

For years, in an otherwise lush sea of black on my head, only one stubborn silver (yeah, no hair of mine will ever be grey) colored hair stood out. Hiding it was a non issue and I had absolutely nothing to challenge my idea that the curly mass of black hair would continue encompassing my head well into old age.

A couple of months ago I was combing my hair and was surprised to find a silver hair peeking out from near my ear. Wow - stubborn silver hair had migrated from the middle of my head to the side of my head. Who knew hairs could migrate like that! Amazing, huh?

I continued brushing my hair complacently when I spotted a silver hair in the middle of my head. Wait a minute - now the stubborn silver hair was migrating in real time? Which was when I noticed that I had a stubborn silver hair by the side of my ear AND a stubborn silver hair in the middle of my head. What the ..?

It did not take me too long to discover 2 more rogue silver hairs. Oh no, no, no I had aged overnight. Oh no, no, no, no! I obsessively hunted through the rest of my hair but found no more silver hairs.

But - I know they are there, just waiting to come out. Before I know it, I will be the silver haired old lady with knitting needles in a rocking chair. Sob.

I tell you - I inherit the wavy, frizzy and dry hair from my mom. But not the delayed silvering. Genetics - hmph!!

But never fear - when I do become all silver, I going attribute it all to stress and not to my getting older. Aging gracefully and all, you know.

Still, just in case, any recommendation for good hair-coloring products?