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Thursday, 31 December 2015

Goodbye 2015...

Another year comes to an end and it's time to bid goodbye to 2015. The year had been a great one personally as well as professionally. Looking back, sure I've had tough moments, but the good ones and experiences have far outweighed that. 

Life in Doha with the little one: 
I came back to Doha with Sid who was just 3 months and 10 days old. When everyone, including myself, doubted if I could manage the little one all alone and I proved everybody wrong. I successfully managed everything and yes, he's already 1 year and 3 months old!
Time flies, but not without teaching its best lessons and leaving good and bad experiences... Starting with the personal things, when I landed in Doha with the little one it was chaos. There was no maid, no relative, no friends to help out, Vij left for office in the morning, came for lunch, and again we had to wait for him till the evening. 
Day-to-day duties were no different than before Sid entered our life, but new duties kept adding each single day: coping with sleepless nights, feeding, cooking, washing clothes and dishes, bathing, playing and trying to find new games and faces to keep the baby amused. Despite it was overwhelming, there was always a way to work out problems and yes, Vij was a great help with his patience. Though my parents knew exactly what I was going through, all they could do was encourage me and shower me and Sid with love, which I appreciate always. 
From the day I landed in Doha, we both as parents understood that parenthood is the biggest undertaking we'll ever face in our life. And we were sure that we will get past the fear. We just took life one step at a time. All we did was concentrating on caring Sid and that's all that mattered. Whenever we had fears, we did confide in friends and they were always kind enough to give sound advice. Whenever I was low, I called my parents who calmed me and advised to never panic.
We were prepared for several uncomfortable situations, from disapproving grandparents to gossiping relatives. Parenthood taught us that we grow distant from some friends and relatives while drawing closer to others. And whenever possible I kept myself surrounded with emotionally generous and secure people who kept boosting my confidence. 
Maintaining a scrapbook to record Sid's growth and activities was really fun. Seeing him grow every day, from turning sides to tummy, crawling on tummy to knees, sitting to standing holding the sofa, climbing the bed to getting down the table, walking holding my fingers to then suddenly walking independently and then running... In between, keeping a tab on when his first tooth came out, when the second, third and fourth surfaced, when he started his semi-solids, when he had his first solids, when he uttered his first letters, when he first called us Mama and Papa... Each and every moment was fun. His evergreen smile always made me forget my tiredness.
The little monk kept us busy and happy throughout the year and I still feel that I saw his cute face in the operation theatre just a few days back and not a year ago! All the festivals, right from Ugadi to Shivaratri to Sri Ramanavami to Vishu to Onam to Deepavali, were special because of him, as most of them were his first festivals. 
We had Sid's Annaprashana or choroonu at Mananrasala when he was 8-month-old. It was indeed a most exciting trip.
Sid's first birthday in Nepal: 
As per my wish, we celebrated Sid's first birthday at Lumbini, the very place where Sakyamuni Gautama Buddha was born. The very trip to Nepal was a dream come true for me. The Buddha and the Buddhism have had their own influence on me for the past several years. With or without my knowledge, the numbers, the names and the signs have played a significant role throughout. 

I came across the Buddha for the first time when I was in Class 1. My dad had bought me several children's books which included Amar Chitra Katha series. A book on Gautama Buddha was one of my favorites. Don't know how many times I might have read and reread and reread it. The pleasant and ever smiling face of Gautama Buddha was etched in my mind, maybe I should thank the painter for those beautiful paintings in the book. I wished I should have a baby as cute and as beautiful as little Gautama Buddha. The names Buddha and Siddhartha remained my all time favorites and it sounds silly now that I used to like a hero who had the name Siddharth when I was in my school days. 

The name lingered on in my mind for the several years and when I got married the name reappeared as I got pregnant within two months. When I suffered a miscarriage within 60 days, I cried for losing the chance of naming my baby as Siddharth. I was that sure that it was and had to be a boy! The dream of naming my baby as Siddharth kept on resurfacing as I suffered two more miscarriages. Then it was a pause, pause for some years and finally in the seventh year of my wedding I conceived again. 

During my visit to the gynecologist, she showed me a six-week-old foetus growing inside, and all I said was, “Oh, it looks like a rat!” which amused her... Before leaving her cabin, I said, “If it’s a boy I’ll name him after Buddha. He will be Siddhartha. He will be the little monk, the Buddha, the enlightenment of our life.” “What if it’s a girl?” she asked and all I said was, “I don’t know. Haven’t thought a name for a girl. If at all I get a baby boy, he would be Siddhartha. I have been influenced a lot by Buddhism and this name has been lingering in my mind since my college days…” 

Most of the things happened in a strange manner, most of the dates, either the conception, test report, scanning, everything fell on Buddhist numbers, making me to firmly believe that the little monk will definitely arrive. As sex determination is prohibited in India I had to wait to see if it’s a boy or a girl till I arrived in Doha. The scanning reports in Doha confirmed that it was a boy who is knocking the doors of our life! And at last, when he was born, there he was, the little prince, our little Buddha. When astrologers said his name has to begin with the letter B or Bu, we named him Buddha and called him Siddhartha...

And as such, when I expressed my wish to celebrate Sid's first birthday in Lumbini, Vij readily agreed. When we planned our trip, Nepal had suffered three massive earthquakes that had claimed thousands of lives and had left several homeless. No friends dared to join us for the vacation. The worse was not over, as we had gone there when the fuel problem had just begun and by Lord Buddha's grace we were able to visit all the places and celebrate the birthday at Lumbini. 
It was such an overwhelming experience that I wouldn't have said no even if death had called me there at that moment. Seeing the place where Mayadevi gave birth to Sakyamuni, where he walked seven steps, where she bathed the little prince, where he lighted the eternal flame... No words to explain, except joy filled tears and goosebumps all over as I write this... If there's any place I would love to visit again and again it's definitely Nepal! I don't want to divulge much on Nepal trip as it's going to be a part of the book I'm currently writing, which will hopefully be published in 2016.
They say that if you wish for something from your heart, the entire universe will try to get it for you. I wished for Siddhartha from the bottom of my heart and the universe conspired to bring him to me and I'll be ever grateful for Him. 

Sid's first visit to Dubai:
What more best way to wind up the year than visiting Dubai? Sid enjoyed running all around Dubai Mall, Wafi Mall, riding on Metro, seeing Burj Khalifa, watching musical fountain...
Happy that the little one entered Qatar in January 2015 and visited the UAE in December 2015, a great finale to the year indeed. To be precise, my monk visited three countries, besides India in a year, hurray! And I have promised to Sid and of course, myself, to continue this legacy of globetrotting...
Reading and writing:
Though it was not that easy to find time to read and write like earlier days, I was lucky enough to have some time. I eagerly waited for Sid to have his naps so that I could read and write. Though blog entries have reduced, my reading and writing haven't, which have resulted in publishing two books -- The grandeur of reading: the books given by stars (Oduva vybhava: nakshatra kotta pustakagalu) and The circumambulation of books: how much can a man read (Pustaka pradakshine: manushya eshtu odaballa). Both books are under printing and will be available in the market in 2016. 

This year, I have read --- books and have written --- reviews. Some of the books I have read in 2015:
Guantanamo diary by Mohamedou Ould Slahi
Peanut butter and naan by Jennifer Hillman-Magnuson
It's what I do by Lynsey Addario
The upstairs wife by Rafia Zakaria
How to be a husband by Tim Dowling
Where the dead pause and the Japanese say goodbye by Marie Mockett Mutsuki
Women of will by Tina Packer
I'm not a terrorist, but I've played one on tv by Maz Jobrani
From India with love by Latika Bourke
Kaleidoscope city: a year in Varanasi by Piers Moore Ede
The vanished path by Bharath Murthy 
The goddess pose by Michelle Goldberg
The house is full of yogis by Will Hodgkinson
The nurses by Alexandra Robbins
The good shufu by Tracy Slater
Bulletproof by Maci Bookout
Wondering who you are by Sonya Lea
The bridal pyre by Avantika Debnath
Fast girl by Suzy Favor Hamilton 
Yes, my accent is real by Kunal Nayyar
Shakuntala: the woman wronged by Utkarsh Patel
Wildflower by Drew Barrymore 

Except 3-4 books, I have written reviews of all that have been published in Sakhi magazine. Most of these books are very dear to me, especially Shakuntala, The bridal pyre, Japanese say goodbye and Bulletproof for their own reasons. 

I hope 2016 will also give me more opportunities to read and write, a journey which I enjoy and would never want to give up. 

Job offers:
I don't regret declining two lucrative job offers in this year. I wouldn't have enjoyed the days of Sid growing up every day had I accepted to go back to work. I have enjoyed each and every moment of motherhood and no job, no salary would have compensated this pleasure. 

There was a time when I was worried that economically I have to depend on Vij if I quit my job, but thankfully looking back I don't regret my decision. Because still I'm independent in my own way. Not everyone knows that beneath every strong, independent woman lies a broken little girl who had to learn how to get back up and to never depend on anyone.

What's in store?
Looking forward to welcome 2016 eagerly. I want to read and write many more books. I want to complete writing the travelogue on Nepal, besides sending Sid to swimming classes. Can't wait to watch Sid speaking fluently, wish he starts reading and writing as well as soon as possible! 

I've mentioned only the good and positive things here as I have realized that there's no point in asking someone to love us. Loving someone who doesn't loves us back is like hugging a cactus, the tighter we hold on, the more it hurts... So it's always better to let go some things and people to be happy in life and I have done it successfully, thanks to Sid, Vij, and of course, books, my all time friends! 

2015 has taught me the best lesson I could ever have had. It has shown me that there's no need to take revenge if someone is evil to us, all we have to do is just sit back and wait because Karma will get hold of those that hurt us and if we are lucky, God will let us watch. Fortunately, God has been kind enough to hear my prayers always...

As Maya Angelou says, "I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it."