I can never win!

A word of advice (if I may):

Never change countries while changing jobs while your house is still not fully complete. It is a nightmare! More on this in the upcoming posts (maybe some rants will be involved too). But in this one, I wanted to share some of the funnier things that have happened so far.

When we decided to move I did tell Mr M that he would be an odd man out in my city, especially in the place where we were planning to settle down as the influx of people from other countries is very minimal (read zero). You might find a handful in the city centre or in the malls, but out where we are close to the hills and almost 15 km away from the city centre, none. He had his share of incidents where he was asked to be part of a selfie, a group photo, etc. where they find him interesting and looking so different to everyone around. He has also had incidents where in shopping places, he has been given the royal treatment and I am ignored like a nobody 🙂 even in spite of being the person who is footing the bill for his purchases (he doesn’t have a bank account here as of yet). He has also had incidents where he has been ogled at or rather stared at and pointed at and whispered behind hands to the presence of a foreigner (for them) amidst them. This has put him off from time to time but he started coping by waving at people who stare at him. That takes them by surprise and they either smile and wave back or just turn away and don’t look at him anymore.

I am curious as to what the folks around here think when they see him. I grew up in this place and I can, to some extent, understand the curiosity of knowing why someone who isn’t from India wants to be in such a remote part of the country, but would I have stared at them wondering or would I have had the courage to say hi or at least respond to them if they had said hi to me? I think it would be the former. I am an introvert at heart (even though people who know me now might disagree but that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t like initiating conversations).

The other day we were going for a walk when a car screeched to a halt next to Mr M and the fellow who was driving asked him where he was from and why was he walking (all the while totally ignoring me who was right beside Mr M, he did not even look at me for a second) around the area in the dust. Mr M was trying to convey that he was out for a walk and that he lived close by and that it was totally fine but that gentleman wouldn’t take no for an answer and insisted that he would be happy to drive Mr M to wherever he wanted to go 😀 (and nope, he still didn’t bother looking at me while having this conversation with Mr M) Mr M then had to explain to him very patiently that he has a vehicle (which he doesn’t drive by the way :P) but that he chose to walk to know the place etc. etc. and that fellow was so surprised that a foreigner would like to go for a walk whereas the locals wouldn’t even consider something like that at all (I am sure some of my neighbours who are out for a walk every single day would be very offended by that statement if they heard that gentleman). And then he turns to me and asks me where was I from and that is when I unleashed my weapon and spoke to him in Tamil and told him that this was my hometown. Boy was it fun to watch his surprise. He apologized to me (for what I don’t know) and then bid us farewell and went his way.

This wasn’t the first time that kind of incident happened. We have got a scooter and were out to fill petrol (or gas as you might call it on the other side of the world) and this young chap who was filling the petrol spoke to me in English (or what he knew of it) once he saw Mr M. I knew he was trying his best with his limited knowledge and so encouraged him by answering in English (questions ranged from where were we from, what is Mr M’s country etc. etc.) and then when he asked me about my place I didn’t have a choice but to tell him that this city was my hometown and he then started to chat in Tamil and chided me (in good fun) that I could have let him know about it and he would not have tried too hard in English. But I didn’t have the heart to crush his attempt at making an impression with Mr M.

It wasn’t just them. Even the folks in the school I joined (for a brief while at least) all thought that since I moved here from the UK and since my husband was Irish, I wouldn’t know Tamil. On what basis did they come to that conclusion I don’t know. I look like a proper Tamilian in my current surroundings. There is no mistaking me and my Tamil face. But by association (even though they haven’t seen my Irish husband) they all assumed me to speak only English. One day when I uttered a line from Vadivelu’s (a Tamil comedian) movie scenes, they were surprised. I had to tell them that I was in this country until recently.

You know what gets me though. When I moved to the UK, people in the UK thought that I wouldn’t know enough English because I came from a part of India which isn’t popular and there were surprised to hear me speak good English (and comment on that too). I had to explain to them that I studied in an English medium and worked in MNCs (multi-national companies) which had HQs (headquarters) in the Netherlands and San Francisco and have had to deal with clients from other countries for almost two decades. Now that I am back in India, people here think that because I have an Irish husband, I don’t know any other language other than English. The irony of it all heh. 😀 I can never win. I end up explaining to people no matter where I go…Is it because my face is so generic in nature that I can be categorized as Indian in the UK, European in India, and alien on Mars? Who knows, heh! At least Mr M’s presence in the community is getting normalized day by day and fewer people are staring at him unless they are new to the place or passing by. Now, this doesn’t mean that people here can understand him. That is a story for another time.

It’s been a year already…

Ever since I moved to Swansea, I guess I have fallen off the blogging bandwagon and have been posting here only once a year (approx), which is sad really. Because so much has happened since we moved here and I could have kept the record of all the stories behind it if only I took some time to post about it. Here is hoping to do more in the new year.

2021 hasn’t been any different to 2020 to most and I am not going to add to the doom and gloom of it because we have had enough of that. I have kept myself busy with my post-graduate certificate course in higher education, started training in yoga (online), prepared two new courses when I had a break for a term, visited a few places (safely and within the permitted guidelines) etc. etc.

Now coming to the end of this year, I have successfully completed my PGCE and am now a qualified yoga teacher. I have already started teaching yoga to a couple of my friends and have been doing so for the past few months (online, of course). I recently finished writing all about my travels on my other blog. I have thoroughly enjoyed travelling in and around Swansea and making sure we take breaks whenever we can and as safely as we can. Neither of us is getting any younger but the year-long training of yoga has kept us in good shape. I should say that I have never been better, health-wise, than now and may long it continue. I have also never written so many essays in my life. This year has seen me write so many essays (both for my PGCE and for my yoga training). I think that is why I didn’t feel the need to write anymore in any blog. People are surprised when I tell them about the essays in yoga teacher training. Those essays have enabled me to read various classical texts on yoga and have given me a lot of things to think about and reflect on. It also reiterates the fact that yoga is an all-encompassing thing, a way of life, not just a physical exercise.

I have also witnessed a few heartbreaks, a few disappointments, a few sad events, but who doesn’t. It is part of life and growing up, I think. Just recently my nephew had a breakdown because he wasn’t happy with his Christmas present 😀 and he thought that Santa could have done better. I had to tell him that his message to Santa about his gift was very ambiguous and in future, he would do well to remember that ambiguity would lead to heartbreaks and he better make it super clear as to what he wants.

At work, after being together for almost three years, slowly things started to change as and when folks moved on to better prospects and I ended up finally identifying who my friends are and who are just acquaintances and I am glad for my friend’s circle, which is very small but very good. I also had a good term recently where a very difficult module was totally redesigned and there were no tears. That is a huge success in my book. Even though I wasn’t super happy about going back to face to face teaching this autumn term, we did it and touch wood, no one got ill during the term. We maintained social distancing, face masks, letting people learn from home when they had any slight symptoms etc. What the next term is gonna be is anyone’s guess at the moment. All I know is I am ready for both online and in-person teaching and I have managed to keep the learning experiences similar-ish either way.

Another year without any choir to attend (not even an online one like last year) which is sad, but at least we were able to visit a few churches and see their nativity displays and enjoy a couple of Christmas markets. This is the first holiday where I haven’t been working or even thinking of work. All I have been doing is relaxing, doing odds bits and pieces that needed to be done at home, doing my regular yoga, and finishing some last-minute books for this year (according to GoodReads, I have read 130 books this year, which is quite good) etc. Just chilling out really.

To top it all, I have finally been offered a teaching job back in India in my hometown which I would be started during the next academic year (Indian academic year). That means that we will be relocating to India next year, which is going to be very exciting more for Mr M than me, as it would be like going home after a very long break I guess. The move might not be as smooth as it was when I moved to the UK as it was just me then and this time we are moving as a family. There will be so many things to sort out and on top of it I would have to start my work without much break, but I guess I deal better when I have things to do and Mr M is more than capable of dealing with the admin stuff anyway. My nieces and nephew are quite excited about my move back and are looking forward to it very eagerly.

This virus is not going to go away any time soon. It is in their nature to mutate and spread and then mutate some more and spread again. It is their cycle of life, just like we have ours. Having seen the worse of it in 2020 and then some in 2021, all we can ever try and do is be safe ourselves and ensure that we protect our near and dear ones as much as we can within capacity. Some things are beyond our capacity and control especially, how the governments behave during such a crisis (I am trying hard to not get political here), but we should do what is within our control and capacity and get through this together. I am getting my booster jab today and Mr M has already had his a couple of weeks ago. Here’s to hoping that these boosters help along with some common sense.

Looking back, this year has been jam-packed with loads of learning and travelling and the new year is starting with new opportunities and new experiences. Let’s hope and pray that it is all for the best.

May this New Year bring with it hope, health, and happiness to all of you. Keep smiling and keep spreading joy wherever and whenever you can. Blwyddyn Newydd Dda! Happy New Year! 

Wordless (?) Wednesday

Let there be some breeze

After two weeks in Coimbatore and Pondicherry, I seriously don’t have to come back to this heat. It is so annoying, I tell you. Over there in Coimbatore and Pondy, especially in Pondy, the heat wave was so bad that it literally drained me out every single day. Mr M thinks that I have got a good sheen of tan, even though I am already wheatish. Imagine that! What I think he meant was that I look roasted. I don’t care about my tan or my colour, but I definitely care for some good breeze. As long as there is some breeze I can withstand the heat. I always get grumpy when it is hot.

I am sitting in my home, with the fan switched on for almost the whole day. Right from 9 am to almost 5 pm I don’t move anywhere and even if I do I drag the fan with me. Who says climate change is a hoax. If this kind of weather is gonna be a norm in this country, there are a few things that need changing.

All the houses (and apartments) need to be fitted with ceiling fans, just like India. It should be a mandatory thing that the owners should provide the tenants. That definitely helps during the heat. Trust me, we have survived worse temperatures without an A/c but couldn’t have done that without the fan.

I know a glass of cold beer would be very good during the heat, but for people who don’t drink or can’t for that matter, options are very limited. Lemon juice with mint and ginger would be very good for the heat. I have seen people sell fresh orange juices, but this one is much cheaper, cools you down very soon and it is very healthy too.  No ice, please. That isn’t gonna help with the heat.

People might have to start thinking of conserving water or at least how to use it effectively, store the excess after rains so that the same can be used during summer. Let’s hope that we don’t get into any drought scenarios as it happened in California, USA. It is very easy to lose track of these changes that are happening slowly and steadily and then when it hits the peak, we start to panic. There was this scene in Cork, Republic of Ireland, where we were hearing about the water shortage only within two weeks of summer. Historically there hadn’t been any need for these countries to save and store water as they have excess rains and such. But when these kinds of drastic climate changes happen, then everything becomes a chaos. Let us hope that we plan well ahead.

I seriously hope there is some respite in the near future to this heat and dry weather.

 

 

OK to walk

It has been a year since I was in India. In Bangalore, I have always had a two-wheeler (scooter) and a car. So I am used to driving everywhere. So when I came for the summer break to Bangalore, it was odd not to have the transport readily available (I sold one and left the other in my hometown). One thing that I have developed over the year of using public transport and walking as much as I can in London is that this time in Bangalore I have walked at least a km or two every day based on what work I have and where I have to be. For the past three days, I haven’t thought twice about walking around and I know that earlier I have had my reservations about it. It is still dusty, still very polluted, no proper footpath for pedestrians, still honking vehicles, but in spite of all that I am OK to walk around. It felt good. Since I had much work to do and it usually takes a whole day, I end up not relaxing or exercising. So I am using the walking as a form of exercise. It is not doing my sinus or allergies any good, but then my allergies have been there for a long time now and this isn’t causing any additional damage. If it is not the high pollen of London then it is the dusty roads of Bangalore. One way or the other it is going to affect me so I have decided to just take some precautions and leave the rest for my body to try and heal itself.

The one other main difference was the price of the autorickshaws. They have almost doubled over the year or so I thought. I nearly had a heart attack the first day when I hired one. I forgot how much internal damage these vehicles could do to your organs. I haven’t travelled in one for that long because of owning modes of transport. Thank God I had some light breakfast.

Hopefully after this week, after getting all the essential legal and financial work completed, I will relax and enjoy the vacation.

If I get good WiFi I will also try and post some photographs 🙂 Stay safe and Keep smiling.