It’s time I told you about it

Alright guys, sit back. We have some catching up to do. Warning this might be a longer post than usual. It’s been awfully long that I haven’t updated you about what I have been up to. I have been lurking around your blogs and finding out what each one of you is up to, reading things on the go. But I haven’t always been able to leave my comments. Being a full time worker, homemaker, writer, cook, and a cleaner is not an easy ride. When you are juggling one too many balls at once, one or two are bound to fall. To top it all, living in a new country, doing everything on your own, having no help, building your world (your home) from scratch one small thing at a time does take copious amounts of time.

To start with I have some good news and some bad news. Good news is that I have a new job now. My first six-month-contract job in NZ came to an end last week and my new job in a big company starts next week. Yay! Which also means I get two full weeks off to do my thing. Finally after months of worrying about which way my career was going, I finally got a new contract which might not exactly be what I want to do, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. So this is more like getting my foot-in-the-door kind of an opportunity. Knowing that I landed this job after competing against the locals felt so good. Felt like a small victory. It’s amazing how much living in a new country can teach you. Not wanting to sound very clichéd, but it is indeed like being born all over again. Starting afresh. Learning new ways of life. And most importantly, unlearning so many old ways. Stepping out of your comfort zone and stretching your mental and emotional boundaries. Fighting status quo and adapting to the new life. Inadvertently during this phase, you begin to question your beliefs, your convictions, and also your self-worth. In the end, you emerge much stronger and a little wiser. Your paradigm shifts and you are able to see the world around you with new lens.

Now the good news is related to the bad news. They are complementary. TCG and I had agreed that if I do not get a new job by 11th October (the last day of my first job), I would go to India a few weeks earlier than originally planned and spend a longer time off with my family and friends. Come back refreshed and rejuvenated in January and start looking for work again. Till the last day of my previous job, the new job was not confirmed and I was almost convinced that I am flying to India earlier than decided. In fact, I began looking forward to that, planning things I wanted to do in my head. But I wanted the new job more badly than I wanted to go home earlier. My logic was simple; I didn’t want to go home while worrying about not having a job or what would happen after I come back, how soon I will get a job and so on and so forth. Even if that meant a shorter holiday, I wanted to enjoy it to the fullest. That was only possible if I didn’t have the fear of work (or absence of it) dangling over my head at all times. And as luck would have it, I got my offer letter on the 11th of October. I love how God plan things out for us so seamlessly. Things I am grateful for: Reason #25.

So ya, while the good news is that I have a good job now (which is great considering how much immigrants struggle with these things in the beginning), the slightly off-putting news is that my holiday is trimmed short by three weeks. But that’s OK really.

Moving on.

When I was not worrying about job, or applying for jobs, or working on cover letters and CVs, I was trying out things in the kitchen. I remember I have randomly mentioned my love for cooking on this blog a few times here and there, but nothing in a way that will lead you to think just how much I really do enjoy cooking. Let me tell you that now, because now is as good a time as any. I come from a family where you’d initiate your girls into cooking in their teenage years. So I was introduced to cooking at the age of 13. And I am so glad that it happened. That means I have over 13 years of experience cooking now and I have had a long time to hone my skills. I have always loved food and until very recently I didn’t realize how I could turn my love in to passion. My real love affair with cooking didn’t really start till 3 years back when I started taking ‘this thing that I was good at’ seriously. By this time I had learnt all the basics and not so basic of Indian Cooking from my mum and thought it was now time to step out. And step out I did. I learnt a bit of Chinese, Mexican and Italian cuisine.  Every now and then I would make things and feel the satisfaction of creating or making that can only come with doing things you really, really like.

Then I moved to NZ this year. And that could well be best thing that could have happened to my cooking. With not much to do apart from applying for jobs and pleasing TCG, I started experimenting a little more actively. Trying out new recipes almost every single day and feeding them to my guinea pig that TCG is. It helps that TCG loves food too. And it so helps that he is so open to all kinds of foods and tests. It gave my experiments a new vigor. And just because he is such a sport, I love to do it more so from him. So the past 9 months here have been filled with cooking frenzy. Breads, soups, dips, pizzas, pastas, lasagna, noodles, cakes, cookies, pastries, snacks – sweet and savory, and the whole length and depth of Indian cooking…I find myself unable to stop. Every weekend I would try my hands at something new, fancy and elaborate and results have been supremely satisfying more than once. And thanks to the many thousand dishes there are to try, I can go without repeating a dish for months.

So why don’t I blog about food? Hmm … not a point that hasn’t crossed my mind a few hundred times. But something is stopping me. There are so many amazing food blogs out there (with not just amazing food recipes and techniques, but more than that… beautiful photos and videos too), I don’t want to be just another person to do that. May be I am not quite there. May be I don’t want to start until I feel a compelling need to start. May be I don’t want to start just because I have a network now which I can use. May be cooking for me is too personal. May be it is more about enjoying the process of cooking than about taking pictures so that I can blog. I can’t place my finger on what is holding me back. But something is. And by this point in life, I increasingly want to do only those things that I will be highly committed about. Someday perhaps…

So then what else? Apart from that we are slowly gearing up for the big visit to India in December. The countdown has literally begun.

That’s about it from me for now. What have you all been up to? Leave your comments and let me know how life is panning out for you all.

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Growing Homesick

You can take an Indian out of India, but you cannot take India out of an Indian.

Having lived away from my beloved home for more than half a year now, I can’t help but nod in complete agreement to the above. May be it’s the distance that is making my heart grow fonder, but the fact is…it is growing fonder.

Isn’t it paradoxical that we realise how valuable some things are to us, only when we have lost them? I now realise how I have (like many others) taken so many things for granted back home. Small joys, small conveniences, family, friends, flavourful food…the list could well go on.

In most cases, people get homesick once the initial frenzy of new life, new city, new country, new friends die down. Once the initial excitement fizzles out, they begin to miss the old life, the old country, the old city and the old friends. Old is after all, gold.

In my case, I knew from the start…that no matter how well I embrace the new, the old in me is so deeply rooted that it will always be on the ‘snooze’ mode. It will keep resurfacing time and again, reminding me of what I have left behind. It can get so overwhelming sometimes. You can actually watch movies like ‘Swades’ and go all teary eyed. Because you can relate to the story so-darn-well. Not an hour passes by, without thinking about India in someway or the other. No Kidding!

It is a complex set of emotions. I am so happy to be with TCG, to be experiencing everything new, to be enjoying every bit of it, yet at the same time there always is this longing to be at home. Every time I see something new, get to experience something beautiful, see a picture-perfect scene of the endless sky in the myriad of colours, gorgeously contrasted by clear green waters of the sea, I wish I could be with my family. I wish they could see what I am seeing. I wish they were here to enjoy the marvellous view. I wish they were here to comment on how beautiful everything here is. What I am meaning to tell is, all the beauty and all the new experiences that otherwise should have been counted amongst the ‘best experiences of life’ are not so best without having shared them with my friends and family.

It’s funny but every time I hear the word India, my heart skips a beat. Every time we pass an Indian restaurant and see the locals going gaga over ‘butter chicken and garlic naan’, I feel my heart swell up with a teeny weeny bit of pride for my country, though I have nothing to do whatsoever with the evolution of Indian cuisine. I feel like telling each one of them, “hey that’s our food from our humble country, isn’t it delicious?”  May be because there is something beautiful about seeing ‘other’ people experiencing and appreciating what you have experienced and taken for granted all your life.

Every time I read about India in local papers, I inadvertently feel a small tug at my heart. Every time I hear someone saying positive things about India, I feel good about myself. Every time someone shares a negative experience, I feel sorry about it and feel obliged to correct the misdoing. It’s like that figure of speech we learnt in our grammar classes in school – part for the whole. When something is said or discussed about India, I can’t help but take it personally.

Indian food, Indian customs, beautiful Indian clothes (haven’t wore them for 7 months?! What?!! Really?!), Indian movies, Indian festivals, Indian ways, Indian attitude, Indian spirit, Indian jokes…I miss it all. I have tried to keep it alive here, inside me. The Indian inside me is too proud to let all these things just disappear into thin air.

India might have its problems. Its inconveniences, its issues, its peculiarities. But then, which country doesn’t? It is what makes us who we are.  I am so grateful to be born Indian. Things I am grateful for: Reason # 21

I miss you India. I will see you very soon.