Friday, January 30, 2009

Fed up of Moaners

I'm often annoyed at people who are always cribbing at their lives. I am sick of them transferring their bloatings into me, depressing me. Their laments are always in these lines:

Oh I wish I had better hair/lips/hips/whatever (You are healthy and intelligent and educated. You are not poor and you are not ugly. Plus you live in the era of internet and actually own a computer. You have a job and you can go to a spa if you want to. Therefore you belong to the tiny % of the world population who are luckier than the others. Asking for something more than that is asking for a kick in the ass from the Fates)

Oh I have so much to do, so many peaks to conquer I can never rest till I have attained them all (Talk about having insecurity issues. Only fools refuse to feel happiness at small accomplishments. By the way, Do not call me when it is lonely at the peak, IF you ever find one that has enough space to fit you)

Oh I am so talented but I am wasted in this company (Are you a baby? Just resign and look for another job. There is no other solution.)

Oh I so much want to do something for the world (For God's sake, move your lazy ass from the telly on weekends and visit the nearest charity)


And here's what I have to tell all these losers who don't know how lucky they are and spend their time bemoaning their problems or laughing at others: EAT SHIT, PLEASE.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Thresholds - a day retreat to define 2009

The day retreat was great. It was organized and conducted by Roselle Angwin, author of Writing the Moment. I came away with a sheet that had my goals for 2009 on it and a heart which was loads lighter sans pentup guilt and pain. It was a retreat that targeted both the psyche and the mind. I wish more of these were in India.

Probably the three best things I liked about the retreat are:

1. How Roselle used the day to give us writing exercises to write about our past and the present. She made us be really be honest with ourselves... most answers were private, so there was no need to be superficial.

2. She frequently said this - be gentle with yourself. I wish people had said that to be before. Roselle herself was the embodiment of gentleness... her quiet and warm way of talking soothed all of us.

3. Potluck! LOL. Everyone had bought something to share for lunch, and it was one of the tastiest potlucks I have ever been to. Yumm!

So. For those who'd like to know what the course is all about, here's the flyer:

THRESHOLDS - this wild and precious life

Change your life with this day retreat course…

Using writing as a tool it’s a chance to look at where you are: your essential values, your visions, dreams and goals, your work/life balance, your loves, achievements and losses over the past year, your creative life, and what you'd like to create for yourself in the next year – all in the safe support of a friendly group.

10am – 4pm £40/£30 concessions

Refreshments will be provided but please bring vegetarian lunch to share


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Couchsurfing with Elly

I had never tried anything so daring before - COUCHSURFING!

There was a day retreat in Exeter, a town about 3 hrs away from London, that I was very interested to attend, but my travel options kind of allowed me to be in the town only for a night. I would read Exeter on saturday night, and leave on sunday evening! I really didn't want to spend 25 pounds on a hotel JUST for a night... hence I researched and found Elly on the couchsurfing website.

As I arrived in Exeter quite late in the night, Elly was kind enough to pick me up from the coach station and drove me to her gorgeous one-bed flat. Her couch was so cozy and warm! And so was Elly - she was such a lovely person! This is my first couchsurfing experience and I kept wondering what I have gotten myself into - I who am such a paranoid person!

But Elly put all my doubts to rest, she had cooked a great dinner for me - sweet potato pie with pita bread - and we spent a couple of hours talking (sorry if I kept you awake, Elly!) about everything under the earth. The next day, she walked with me to the town center and made sure I found the address. Talk about friendly souls and the kindness of strangers!

Thanks, Elly, for your reference in my profile and I hope to see you soon!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

My first class at Birkbeck

It was bizarre to be sitting inside a class again after five years. But definitely not unpleasant. For the first time in my life, I was a student in a place I wanted to be, about to study a subject I am crazy about. I'm taking the 6-month creative writing module at University of Birkbeck, London.

I knew that wednesdays were going to be hell... I need to drop the kids at the school at 9am, and then run to the rail station to catch a train to Waterloo, and then change to tube, then walk 10 min to the class... and did I mention the class started at 10:30am? So it was like a mad race against time, but here's what's so perfect - the transport system in London is so punctual, the trains arrive on the dot and I always manage to get to class with a few minutes to spare!

It was a surreal walk from the tube station to the university buildings in Russell Square. The place reminded me of Union Square in NYC... the same architecture, shop facades, shops. But the people were better dressed and more relaxed, hehe. It was fun to gawk at the buildings! I know - I studied architecture at college and I should not be so blown away by first world architecture, but I am always awed when I see a fantastic facade or a magnificent building. It's so difficult to be blase about it!

So when I reached the university buildings, I felt so much at peace, looking at the students and the lecturers walking by, talking animatedly. Looked like I am finally going to get the college experience that would be a good memory. I reached my class in time and took a seat right next to the instructor. Well, one more first! I was always the backbencher at school and college ;)

The first class was more like an ic-breaker session. We all, about 14 of us, introduced ourselves and then Sara Boyes, the course instructor, introduced the sessions and the syllabus. I already knew more about it because I have been reading the course link every day for the past 3 months. I liked the way we did exercises and then discussed about them... I am so used to email critiques that I had missed talking - as in verbal communication - with fellow writers. I sure feels good to look at a person and smile and talk about what they wrote!

As the hour progressed, I began to realise - contrary to whatever people might say or I might think during weak moments, investing the time and money to get away and do a course like this is perhaps the best decision I had ever taken in my life.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Day in the life of an au pair

So I am going to be the live-in au pair for the Norman family (name changed), for their 3 daughters. The last one if a kintergardener and would be my special ward. My working hours are weekdays 7:30am to 9am, and 3pm to 7pm. I can take up any p/t work on my free hours, and apart from free room and food, I also get a pocket money of 100 pounds per week.

My day begins like this:

Get up and freshen up. Do some browsing, answer emails, update blog. Eat a bowl of cereal.

Wake up the kids. The older ones will get ready by themselves, but I need to dress and feed the youngest one, who's 4. Make sure they have their bags and put on their warm clothes. Lock the house, switch on the alarm and drop them at school (a 5 min bus ride away).

Return home. On wednesdays alone, I go straight from school to central london to attend college till 1pm. Clean up the kitchen. Make breakfast and watch TV till 11am.

11am to 2pm
Writing time.

2pm to 2:45pm
Heat up a bowl of soup for lunch. Usually call parents to talk, or might again watch some TV. Leave home at 2:45pm.

3pm - 5pm
Pick up kids from school. Bring them home, make dinner, and serve them at 5pm. Make sure they have a bath and change before coming down for dinner.

5:30pm to 6pm
Clean up kitchen and put kids' clothes to wash.

6pm to 7pm
Get the kids to do their homework. If they don't have any, make them tidy up their rooms and then allow them to watch TV.

7pm to 8pm
Usually take a relaxed bath and then take my dinner upstairs. Then I might go out for a stroll, which I don't do often, since it's dark and cold outside.

8pm to 9pm
Read a book. I LOVE the library here! Have already checked out a dozen books.

Sleep sweet sleep. I have to, since I am practically comatose by exhaustion!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Got a job!

I think I must be the only person who got a job within 5 days of landing in London....

But then I cheated - I had been job searching on the Net since November when I got my visa!
I decided to be an au pair because it offered me the flexibility to study during the day time (when the kids were at school) and also took care of my room+board. And yes, I loveeeeeeee kids and I infinitely prefer to do a childcare job than fry chicken or serve customers... so I put up an ad at and had several interviews before coming to UK...

It was terrible going to these interviews, though... I had to dress like an Arctic explorer, find the routes on the internet, blow up money on transport (which sucked, bcos I usually had to take 2 trains + 3 buses to get to the houses), and meet each family with the same smile and answer the same questions. I also fell sick on those days, and had to cancel out of a few ones.

I had shortlisted 2 families on my list - the first one was ideal, as there was only one child to take of. Unfortunately, the family never contacted me after asking me to call them.

The second one was a family with 2 middle schoolers and I really liked them - it was a single paents family, which was perfect. But the next day, they said they had chosen another au pair based on references. Oh well.

The third was a family of five living in Richmond Park, and really not on my list! But from the moment when Mom picked me up at the bus stop till she dropped me back home (yes! she really did that!), I had such a lovely time at their house, meeting the kids, who were real poppets. The Mom was really warm and Dad really didn't talk that much - my perfect combination of employers! - and the kids appeared to really like me, and when I saw the hopping deer on the park, I was so content that I said then and there that I would be their au pair!

Yes, I am nervous, and yes, I know I will make mistakes. But somehow, I am feeling happier at this moment then I was when I became the managing editor of a website!