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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First Day at Work

After a long time, I was back in office. It was a first day at work today. In a new city, in a new country. It felt different. Different good. People were dressed differently and yes, the office environment was a far cry from the one I was used to in Mumbai. Very relaxed and laid back. Welcome to NZ.

I was my usual calm, composed and confident self; excited about finally getting a chance to get out and about. I have been holed up at home for the last two months here, and have had hardly any chance to make any new acquaintances or friends. So I saw this as my big chance to network, to learn, to earn and set my foot in the door.

To say that I was overwhelmed with the information overload would be an understatement. But then, that’s how first days are, aren’t they? Introductions and inductions and more introductions and more inductions: HR induction, Team Induction, IT induction, Office Induction etc. etc. All in all, it was a fun first day, getting introductions and being introduced.

This place has people from all over the globe working here. America, UK, Germany, China, India, Fiji Island, Sri Lanka, and of course the locals. And boy, it really is a bit of a challenge to understand everyone’s accents correctly. It’s very easy to get the American and the European accents correctly, thanks to all the T.V. and all the movies that we watch. It is the local Kiwi accent that is rather difficult to get. For Instance, they pronounce ‘e’ as ‘i’. So yes, in the beginning, you really have to listen closely. You know, you don’t want to end up all odd and gawky when they make a joke and you don’t laugh because you don’t quite understand.

The day was spent getting acquainted at the office, exploring the place, settling in at my desk, figuring the e-mails, and the intranet, and the communication system here, remembering some half a dozen passwords to access various things, and the likes. Pretty much the normal first-day-stuff.

But it looks like I am going to keep real busy now and coming back to blog very often might be a little difficult, but I will surely make time to be as regular as possible.

P.S.: You can wish me luck, btw.

It feels like just yesterday

It feels like just yesterday – my friends and I sipping away some expensive coffee at some coffee shop, digging into a hot chocolate pastry and spoon fighting for the last piece, laughing our guts out at something silly, trying to cut each other’s point and outwitting each other, crashing in on some friend’s door at midnight and giving him/her surprise birthday wishes, giggling over wine and dinner gossiping about hot, new guys on the block, talking about our dating woes and dreading ending up single as all good guys we knew were either married, committed or younger than us.

It feels like just yesterday – dreaming of my Mr. Right and of a blissful, wedded life.

It feels like just yesterday  – living with my parents, that single, carefree, happy, cocooned, protected and dependent life; without a care in the world, without having to worry about duties or responsibilities; without worrying about what groceries to buy and what to cook for dinner every single day; without worrying about paying the bills or making the ends meet.

It feels like just yesterday – rushing through my morning ablutions; taking forever to decide what clothes to put on for office like that was single most important thing to worry about, running around the house looking for my things, my book, my bag to carry to office, sitting at the breakfast table while mom dished out something hot and delicious and steaming while I dried my hair or secured my belt, then hurrying through the breakfast because I was always running late in spite of mom doing everything from making my lunch to packing it; then dashing out of the house and realizing after reaching downstairs that I forgot the bike keys; rushing back up and finding mom at the door holding up the keys for me.

It feels like just yesterday – meeting TCG for the first time and the lightening realization in my heart that this is it; this is the man I want to marry.

It feels like just yesterday – running around like crazy from one designer to another, getting my wedding trousseau in place, running around doing zillion errands, deciding the jewellery, the make-up, the bridal look, shopping for things that I wanted to bring along with me to NZ, doing rounds of the caterers, deciding the menu, adding, subtracting from the list, selecting the wedding card, writing the wedding invitation and in between all this craziness making time to jog and exercise to look my best on the D-day.

It feels like just yesterday – seeing the house cloaked in the wedding frenzy and everyone counting down to the D-day, radiating nervousness and excitement at the same time; those emotional moments, those tears shining through smiles.

It feels like just yesterday; walking down the aisle clenching tightly on Aarti’s fist, seeing my parents looking at me in a different way, having that sinking feeling in the stomach that this is it, and walking the next few steps to the altar knowing that these few steps are going to change my life forever.

It feels like just yesterday – stepping into my new home and realizing everything is different here and yet embracing all the differences and adapting as quickly as possible to them.

It feels like just yesterday – growing crazy with all the packing, deciding on what things to take to along to NZ and what to let go, weighing the baggage so that it remains under the check-in weight limits, realizing its exceeding, opening and re-looking the whole thing to find out what else can go, letting something dear to me go with a heavy heart and a big sigh.

It feels like just yesterday – standing at the airport with tears in my eyes and waving good bye to my family, knowing that I won’t be seeing them for a year at least, still braving a smile.

It feels like just yesterday – stepping on the soil of NZ and being greeted by a welcoming, cool, gentle breeze and knowing in my heart that I will adapt well.

It feels like just yesterday – making this house look like home, cleaning, scrubbing, dusting, arranging and rearranging the furniture till it felt just right, cooking something new and fancy everyday and waiting for TCG to get back home.

It feels like just yesterday – realizing that the honeymoon phase is beyond me now, that real life is right here, going crazy looking and applying for right jobs and finally, finally, finally lending one. Things I am grateful for: Reason # 20

Life’s come a full circle. Come Monday and I will be back in office. After a five month sabbatical. It feels different, and I am excited. Kiwi way of doing things is different. None of my previous experience is going to really count in the beginning. This is hardly my field and I have to start afresh. But I am hopeful that this will lead to something nicer.

So, I am back to the grind. Only this time, there won’t be any mommy packing the lunch or holding up the keys.

It feels like just yesterday. 

Things I am grateful for: Reason # 6 to Reason #18

I have been meaning to write about these Things I am grateful for for quite some time now. Since a last few months, I have noticed that I have become more grateful and thankful for the things I have in my life. And as a ritual, I have started saying a small thankfulness prayer daily which more or less summarizes all the broad categories of things I am extremely grateful for.

Reason #6

Oh God, Thank you for the wonderful day

Reason#7

Thank you for the wonderful family I am born into. Thank you for my wonderful parents who have given us a splendid upbringing, for loving grandparents who have imbibed in us their values, for uncle, aunt, siblings, cousins, brother, sister-in-law and everyone in the family who I have grown up with.

Reason #8

Thank you for the wonderful family I am married into. Thank you for a wonderful husband, loving parents in-law, and a friend I see in my brother-in-law. And thank you, thank you, thank you once again for the wonderful husband.

Reason # 9

Thank you for the food I eat, the water I drink, the air I breathe, the soil I walk on and for every other your invaluable resources that I use.

Reason #10

Thank you for perfect health. Thank you for every limb, every muscle, every tissue, every cell, every organ in mybody that works miraculously.

Reason #11

Thank you for all those people who unknowingly work for us all and make my our lives easy; the farmers who grow our fruits and veggies, the workers who collect garbage, the construction workers who make houses and buildings in which we live, the people who clean sewers. They all do such an invaluable job and how we take their services for granted. Let me be kinder to them.

Reason # 12

Thank you for wonderful friends I have, who I have grown up with, who I have shared many a jokes with, who I have laughed with, who I have cried with. Friends, without you all life would have been so boring. God bless each one of you and thank you for being my friends.

Reason # 13

Thank you God for the wonderful, new, exciting life in NZ, for the beautiful home, for the car that takes us everywhere we want to go, for scenic, breathtakingly beautiful location and for this fresh, new life.

Reason #14

Thank you God for all the luxuries, travel, opportunities, fun times, experiences and memories

Reason #15

Thank you God for all the comfort, wonderful clothes and small pleasures of life

Reason # 16

Thank You God for beautiful hair, beautiful skin, warm heart and a wonderful mind that makes me take the correct decisions, makes me understand things as they are meant to be and that makes me grasp and learn

Reason #17

Thank You God for the wonderful education that I have received, for the jobs that I have done, for skills, talents, opportunities, for the learning everyday, for the gift of writing, for the new, wonderful job that I will get soon

Reason # 18

Thank you for many small things in life that I take for granted.

And forgive me God for all the mistakes that I have knowingly or unknowingly done.

Frequently Asked Questions

I am answering a lot of these questions lately and thought that it would be best that I make a list of those questions and answer them here; because frankly it’s beginning to get VERRRRY repetitive and kind of boring to keep answering these over and over again. Now don’t you get me all wrong, I am very, very grateful to have so many friends, family and well wishers back home who want to be updated and know what’s happening in my life and I do love them all. (Things I am grateful for: Reason #5)

Here goes:

  1. Hey, How are you doing?
    Answer: Very well, thank you? How are you doing?
  2. How’s NZ?
    Answer: It is so beautiful, scenic, and serene that every time I look around to take in the magnificence that surrounds me, I have to pinch myself to know that I am not dreaming.
  3. Are you working?
    Answer: No, not yet.
  4. How’s the weather there?
    Answer: It’s the end of Summer. It’s about 15 degrees during the day time and about 13 degrees at night. But it’s soooo windy (WINDY) that it feels much colder. To someone like me who has lived in hot and humid (but wonderful) Mumbai all her life, it feels a lot colder. Day before yesterday, it was so windy that the whole house was rattling up. NO KIDDING. Didn’t I tell you before how windy the city is? And we can rarely keep the windows open. It also keeps raining in between.
    P.S: Don’t know if this is Summer, how harsh the winter will be?
  5. Are you working?
    Answer: No, not yet.
  6. How is your hubby (I absolutely detest this word) doing? Where does your hubby work?
    Answer:  My husband is doing good too. My husband works with the Government here as a Business Analyst.
  7. Is TCG his real name?
    Answer: Oh it’s just an epithet!
  8. Are you working?
    Answer: No, not yet.
  9. What do you do all day?
    Answer: I read, write, cook, clean, exercise, wait for TCG to get back and for my family back home to wake up so that I can Skype with them. In short, living an underrated life of a humble housewife.
  10. Are you working?
    Answer: No, not yet.
  11. Are you looking for a job?
    Answer: Not yet
  12. Do you have work Visa?
    Answer: No, Will apply for it in a couple of days.
  13. How long will it take to get your work Visa?
    Answer: It should take 3-4 weeks
  14. Will you get a job easily?
    Answer: It’s not easy but I am hoping I will get lucky, but  my previous work experience in India won’t count. (I know, I know that is very sad). SO I will have to start from scratch (Sigh).
  15. How’s the climate there?
    Answer: Refer to answer 4.
  16. Are you working?
    Answer: No, not yet.
  17. How are the people there?
    Answer: Warm, friendly and smiling
  18. Did you make friends?
    Answer: No not yet, I made acquaintances though.
  19. How do you spend time then?
    Answer: Refer to answer 9.
  20. Does it get lonely?
    Answer: Sometimes it does, but I am not complaining. Yet.
  21. Are you working?
    Answer: No, not yet.
  22. Are there many Indians around?
    Answer: There are few, but I am sure there would be more
  23. Why don’t you join some social group or community or something?
    Answer: I will do that sometime in future. As of now, I am pretty ok.
  24. Did you play Holi?
    Answer: NO
    Holi is an Indian spring-time festival where you colour your friends and family
  25. WHY?
    Answer: Just
  26. But Why? At least you should have put some colour on TCG?
    Answer: Ok, but I didn’t
  27. Oh, poor you! You would have missed Holi!
    Answer: Now, please rest it. Holi has never been my favourite anyway.
  28. You should probably do this/that/A/B/C/D…etc… in your free time
    Answer: Hmmmm…
  29. Are you working? (Sigh)
    Answer: No, not yet.
  30. But why are you not working? You were always so ambitious?
    Answer: Refer to answer 12 and 13
  31. Ok, but are you gonna stay there forever?
    Answer: I wish I knew, but I really don’t as of now.

Know your Self-Worth!!

I quit working in mid-November.  So it’s been 4 months that I am not working. It’s a big thing for someone like me…someone restless, competitive (in a good, healthy way), career minded, ambitious and a workaholic person like me. Giving up on my hitherto life, work, family and friends and moving to a different country, miles away, where I don’t know a soul yet is a big change.

BUT surprisingly I am doing well. I am not cribbing, crying, raving or ranting. I am alone all day, until TCG comes back.  I mean this is so unlike me, so un-zinal. Even I am amazed as to how I have changed so much. I think I have made my peace with time. I have surrendered to life and let it take over the reins and change me…for good. Oh my, haven’t I really matured? Wonder if marriage has done that to me? I went over to the neighbour’s the other day with a bowl of dessert that I made and introduced myself. Yes it took courage, but I pulled it off. I mean you never know how people in a foreign country react to an uninvited neighbour. She could have slammed the door right to my face. But she was sweet, and thus I made an acquaintance at least. Very un-me. But I am proud of myself.

If this was me a year ago, I would have been drowned in self doubt and misery …for being idle, not working, not having a job, being dependant, wasting precious time. I have always been very agonizingly disciplined. Someone who will make a big deal in her mind about missing exercise, breaking a routine, indulging in some sinful food, wasting time doing nothing, feeling guilty about feeling pleasure. I have said this before also here.

Somewhere along the way I became very harsh and demanding of my own self and started believing that only having a job gave you an identity. How much money you earn gives you some power. Money gives you power, sure. But a job gives you an identity??!  Not entirely true. I finally understood how shallow it is to measure my own worth on a single metric.  I never measure or judge others though. I am just tough only on my own self.

Now I have realized finally that there is more to a person than his/her job; there are hobbies, interests. A person can be very creative but earn a pittance. Then is it fair to judge that person based on his income?  And on the other hand a person can be a millionaire but someone who sucks at social niceties, comes home and abuses his wife every day, is always self absorbed and selfish. Then is money alone the correct barometer? And then there are mothers, wives…homemakers as they are called. They turn your house into a home, they cook meals, they take care of the children, they keep everyone in the family happy, they run many errands through the day, and they sacrifice their own dreams and aspirations to give the whole family a better life. How on earth can we ever measure their contribution? Just because they don’t work means they have no identity? If they were working, they would sure make some money. But if they were working, your house would not have been quite the same; probably it would have been a mess. You would have had to hire a househelp or a nanny or a cook or all and even pay them. Things that your mom or wife did hitherto for free. Then is it fair to think of people who don’t have a job per se as dependants? What about the rest of their contribution.

For the longest time, I have lived with the feeling that I was born to do great things, something good, something big, something satisfying. I still feel that. But what? I have no clue. I feel I need to have a purpose. But what? I have no clue. This nags me constantly, eats me from inside.

Then I can’t help comparing myself with others. I know it’s not right to compare, everyone fights their own battles, everyone has their own share of hardships. But I am human after all. I can’t help not compare. I look around. Not too far away from home. My own sister –in-law Aarti Bhadra. Sometimes I am just so jealous of her.  She is so clear about everything in her life, her goals, her aspirations, and her career. Heck, at 20, she was clear about whom she wanted to marry also, and she went ahead and married my brother. You must have read here. She is 24, she is an upcoming and very promising Make-Up artist. She is very clear where she wants to be 5 years down the line, what she wants from her life. She is self assured and comfortable in her own skin. She rarely compares herself with anyone. She is sooooo passionate about her profession (and she has just recently started) that it can put many a people to shame. She goes out of her way to network with the Who’s who, to learn more, to upgrade her skills, to be present at the right places at the right time…because she has that fire in her belly. I remember she once told me, “Zinal, if I don’t become a make-up artist, I will happily sit at home and look after family. Just for some misplaced sense of satisfaction and fulfillment, I will not go out and do some stupid job I don’t enjoy …for a few bucks. I would rather invest that time in my family and do things I really like.” WHOA…it takes a lot of courage and clarity in one’s own priorities to say something like that. I wish I could be like Aarti.

But I understand I am a different person. Someday I will find my calling, hopefully. May be I won’t.  I don’t know how my life is going to pan out. But coming to New Zealand, spending a lot of ‘me’ time, reflecting, thinking, musing has made me realize that I will stop constantly assessing myself and my worth in terms of a job. THAT IS JUST TOO SHALLOW.  I will get one when I have to, but why be miserable now? Why not make most of it and enjoy every moment of it? When I had a job, I cribbed about not getting enough time to do other things. Grass is always greener on the other side.

So I am taking this break as a blessing in disguise and doing things I have been aching to do for sometime now. Monday, I baked a loaf of bread from scratch and yesterday I baked a chocolate cake, first time ever. That satisfaction of doing that can’t be expressed in words.

Here, take a look.

My first loaf of bread

My first loaf of bread

Chocolate cake

Chocolate cake

If you liked this post, you may also like to read here what Pepper has to say here.