So long, Qatar..

I’d be lying if I said that I never thought I’d say goodbye to you. Because, I understand that if you’re in the Gulf, you’re never really here to stay forever, right? From the day you leave your home country, you step out with the firm resolve to come back one day. And yet you learn to embrace each domain you set up with the same kind of vigour and excitement as you would your new home. And when it’s time to say goodbye, you wonder where did all the time go? So while I did know that I’d be saying goodbye, I never knew it would be so soon!

We have had the most memorable 6 years here! A roller coaster ride with its fair share of ups and downs but every bit cherishable that will always be etched in our mind.

You know how much I hated you when I set foot on your soil first. I didnt have very many friends. I was an emotional wreck after having plucked myself from the comfort zone of my previous base which was Muscat. But today where I stand, I know I have made the best of friends, the fondest of memories here for which I can never thank you enough.

It was here that I learned to be more accepting of whatever situations and circumstances that I was faced with. You gave me lot many moments to introspect as a resident, as a parent, as a fellow being. Oh and it was here that I got my license! It was here that I learned to drive sane despite the insane driving that you have been (not so) famous for! 😀

You will always be special because it was here that R & I created our most precious gift from God. Namnam. For her, you have been her home. After every vacation to her grandparents’ and cousins’ , no matter how happy and thrilling her moments were with them, the one line that she never missed saying as soon as she got back in here was,’ Ah! It’s good to be home!’ 🙂

She learned to sleep on her own here, you know! It was here that she ushered in a new chapter, her first foray into school life. It was here that she lost her first tooth too! You have given her so many wonderful moments to learn, to experience, to grasp and enjoy!

And now it’s time to move on..again.

I have no idea what’s in store for us in the next sphere that awaits us. I can only hope and pray that it as exciting, as memorable and as special for the three of us as it has been here.

We will miss you!

********

On another note, as part of a blogging feat followed by some ego-boost, let me note that Perceptions has been listed in the Directory of Best Indian Blogs.

 

And also here’s a link to an interview that I gave to Indian Moms Connect more than an year back. Its a short interview, but my very first. Hence very special :). It was a tough year for me on a personal level because of which I was mainly off blogging. So I couldn’t journal this special occasion here on this platform then. But as they say it’s never too late 🙂

 

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A day I have to keep a record of..

Sometimes all you need is a little jolt to make you realize how blessed you are to be sitting here in the safe confines of your home with your daughter right beside you watching her favorite show as you type these words on your mobile, when these very moments could have turned out something entirely, drastically tragically different.

My hands and feet are still shaking as I recollect the moments Namnam and I spent in one of the home furnishing stores a while ago.

We were excitedly strolling along the lanes with our trolley, picking up stuff needed to do up the room for my father-in-law who is expected next week. We reached the cash counter all set to check out when all of a sudden the fire-alarm went off! For a good few seconds nobody reacted, since most of us thought it to be normal fire drill. When it still didn’t stop the anxiety started creeping in. Namnam covered her ears wondering loud, quite loud at the deafening jarring sound. The cashiers stopped tapping on their keyboards. And then I saw a lot of people running helter skelter towards the elevator. Right then one of the customer care officials announced that it was a false alarm. I heaved a sigh. Barely for a fraction of a second but. For right after, he announced us all to evacuate the building. So the alarm wasn’t false,but very much real!

I had a stream of thoughts running in my mind as I held Namnam’s hand to get out of the building. I had to get to the basement of the building to take the car out. But would we reach there in time? What if we got trampled in a stampede? Would I be able to get my Namnam home safe? The thoughts kept gnawing at me as I held Namnam’s hand, walked down the stairs and out of the building. We were still away from the basement and way away from the spot I had parked the car in. Right then on our way out I met a friend and her husband who were trying to figure out a way to get to the basement too. I felt a strange sense of relief to have spotted a known face in the midst of an utterly chaotic and panic-ridden situation.

We, then, found a way to the parking lot from the side of the building. Fortunately my friend and her husband spotted their car close but Namnam and I had to walk a bit to get to ours.

The parking lot had turned into one hell of a deafening room filled with panicking car-horns. I wasn’t sure whether I would succeed in taking the car out. Namnam wondered the same. And when she said, “Amma, if you kept saying it was a fire alarm, why is it that you’re driving so slow? Why cant we get out fast?”, I realized that my child was scared too! Although I tried to reason to her about the number of cars ahead of us trying to get out, I wonder if she even heard me. She had her eyes firmly focused looking out for the exit, like me. I messaged R who was in Delhi, about the situation we were in. Not that he would have been able to help, but then it gave me some kind of strength to be able to just reach out to him.

And right after I messaged my three closest friends on our common chat thread just so they could reach me if needed.

In another 10 min or so we were out of the parking on to the road well on our way home! Were we glad to be safe!

Well not fully safe yet, as I was to find out soon as I drove a few meters further, still reeling under the shock of what we had just gotten out of. I banged into a car right in front of me while waiting at the traffic signal! Luckily, it was a minor bump so no dents on either of the cars and even more fortunatelt the driver was a very patient and polite person, a fellow parent but certainly not a hassled one like me! I could get away with a sorry and drive home.

As we reached home it all began to sink in.

Now at the end of it all it may not seem such a big deal. But its when you think back at those moments that you realize how much worse it could have got.

Fate has strange ways to kick you out of your complacency! I have been so laid back and engrossed in this life that I have forgotten when was it last that I stepped back to look at the beautiful way my life was shaped by so many wonderful people around me and be thankful about it…

I have my Namnam whose unconditional and growing love for me makes every single day of my life worth the while. I have R whose rock solid support just keeps me going always. I have my parents( achan, amma, appaji), who seem to just magically know when I need them to give me strength and will to pull through difficult tides. And I have my friends whose just being there is the best assurance that I can get. The confidence, the trust I can place in them at any point in time is more than I could ever ask for.

I can’t thank God enough for blessing me with so many wonderful people in life. Life cannot get better than this. Touchwood!

Green Blazer, Blue Blazer..

Oh no, this is not some tongue-twister game that I’m starting with you! You can breath easy! 🙂

This, in fact, is the base of a flow of thoughts that was set in motion after a discussion with a friend whose children studied in one of the schools here.

The exam season is going on in most of the schools here, or at least the Indian schools here and most of the children, I know have their noses buried deep in their course books. And parents, or at least some of them, have their eyes, noses, heads, expectations firmly fixed on their kids to ensure that they prepare their subjects well enough to score high passing marks.

Now there are plenty of parents I come across here who go through their own hyper-ventilating sessions every time the examination-fever is in the air. They bring about all kinds of embargo into their lives. ‘No watching television’. ‘No socializing’. ‘No phone calls’. ‘No internet’. ‘No Facebook’ ‘No playing, dancing, singing, nothing!’ Only stress and mounting pressure to perform.

And the embargo is not just restricted to the kids but the parents too, mind you!

Anyway this post is not about those parents and their parenting styles. They are a fodder for another day another post.

This post is rather aimed at this particular approach that one of the schools here has adopted, apparently, to encourage the students to perform better.

I learnt from a friend recently that the students of the school, who otherwise have green blazers as their uniform, are rewarded blue blazers if they manage to score top grades for three consecutive years. Furthermore they get to wear a blue-tie as well if the top grades are scored for the fourth straight time.

And this friend of mine was distressing about how her daughter was so worried about scoring the top grades this time around for that would entail her the blue blazer!
Ok Now I am happy to see her so driven and studying hard to get the required marks( and the blazer) because I know she is a very bright girl who is confident that she is capable of score high marks.

This incentive may be helpful for those smart promising students who have their confidence and morale intact and for whom this may be motivating enough to work harder and be one of the chosen ones to own the blue blazer.

But what about those weaker students who need that extra push and attention to score passing marks or those average ones who may not be scoring as many marks as their top ranking class-mates and who may just have to make do with the ‘ordinary’ green blazers? Does it mean that they are not good enough? Just because they dont have enough numbers on their mark sheets, does it mean that they are not smart enough?

Every child is different and smart in his/her own way. And every child needs encouragement and motivation just as much as any other, if not more.

Which is why I am not sure how motivating such techniques that schools have in place are. Such segregation based on grades and intellect can demoralize a less scoring child, in my opinion. Imagine a group of students wearing green blazers entering a classroom where there are some students in blue blazers. How likely is for the green blazer wearing students to be ignored or looked down upon by their mates in blue blazers or how likely is for the blue blazer wearing students to be grudged of their status by their mates in green blazers?

I have seen and heard of instances where teachers have favoured the high scoring students by investing time and energy on them, over the weaker students.

Why, its approaches like this that make those overbearing parents sit on their children’s head like a hawk and push them to perform beyond their capacity.

I find such methods so utterly discriminating and unfair. And I have my doubts how encouraging and helpful these are for our children. Hope I am wrong.

Dont fall sick on a Friday

At least not in the middle east.

For there’s every chance that you may end up not getting treated at all.

Why? Because, Friday being a weekend while you may still find coffee-shops and grocery stores open at the weest of hours here, and even petrol stations that are open 24/7 but NOT a clinic or a pharmacy. No way.

I realized that only today, when Namnam suddenly developed an ear pain and started bawling uncontrollably. The pain was so unbearable that no hot-pack treatment or ear-drops were soothing enough for her. So the next obvious step was to take her to a clinic. I tried to call the clinic to check if the doctor was in but there was no response. Thinking the phones may be out of order we decided to head straight to the clinic anyway, only to reach there and find it closed!

It was annoying to say the least to find a fairly reputed and recently upgraded clinic closed on a weekend. I mean arent health care providers supposed to serve the people through the day? What if there had been an emergency? With the phone lines off, how do they expect to be of any help to those in need of health care? Of what use is the state of the art facilities and stylishly updated websites when the patients cant access the clinic for their basic health care at any point of time?

Anyway we found out that the clinic was to open at 4PM. It was 330 already. But since Namnam’s pain wasnt subsiding we decided to go to another clinic a couple of minutes drive away. This time too I tried to call the clinic hoping against hope to get my call answered and an appointment fixed. But to no avail. Here at least the clinic was wee bit better off than the previous one…this one at least had a voice-mail activated informing its callers that it was closed during the day and was to open at 4PM! WOW, what a service!

As a last resort we were left with either going to a pharmacy and buy an over the counter medicine to relieve the pain or go to the government-run emergency ward and get her admitted.

Now since Namnam’s condition was not so serious that it called for an emergency admission yet not so slight that it could be neglected we thought of going to a pharmacy.

But.

As expected the pharmacy that we came across first while on our way had its shutter down! Thankfully a few blocks further down the road there was one store which was open and we got Namnam the required medicine. She gulped it down while in the car, without a whimper.

The pharmacist adviced us to wait for 2 hours within which time the pain would subside. If it didnt then we were to go to the emergency.

The pain subsided after one hour and Namnam was back to her active self.

However this whole experience left a very disturbing mark in my mind with respect to the health care system here. I am still wondering about the purpose of such healthcare facilities in the first place when they cant ensure the basic service to people!