First snow experience

Last month, my husband and I visited family in Chicago. Three normal days and the last night of our stay there, it snowed. I was surprised my phone weather forecast was accurate. It started around 1 am- I was watching for it- it had been an exciting day, what with a visit to neighboring Wisconsin to see a professor of my husband’s just across the border from Illinois. And an outlet mall visit to buy a lot of things( which I actually didn’t need) and a few books for my onward trip.

So, it snowed and snowed and kept snowing till the morning, when we could see the whole place covered in the whitest of snow. So exciting!

Way to Wisconsin
House in Wisconsin
Last days of autumn
My first snow- the neighbourhood
Little trees covered in snow- early Christmas
View of the house from the car- last sight of snow
Goodbye, snow ! 

Day 9

May 23. I am keeping track of the days and events that lead to my last day at work. I don’t want to say, “the first day of school” though I keep hoping that will happen.

I had a doctor’s appointment today- the travel medicine doctor. My titers showed I was immune to measles, mumps, rubella, varicella and hepatitis C. That is 5 positives ( good news).  But I had no resistance to Hepatitis A:(.

As per   the document, I need to be vaccinated against diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus, then meningococcus, the flu and hepatitis A. I had to be tested for TB ( X-ray ) and the Quantiferon blood tests.

I am finally back after 3 hours in the hospital. I had 5 vaccination pricks today, 3 on the right arm and 2 on the left. They didn’t hurt too much but now I feel numb all over.

Then I went to the hospital bank to cancel my card, so I could get a bank clearance document.

After that I rushed to work as I have very little leave hours to spare. So that’s where I am on on day 9 of my preparations.


My 48th Birthday

This must be a frivolous read. June 20. I had a couple of phone calls reminding me that it was my birthday.

For me time had stood still. It was the day after my mother’s double surgery. I was in shock. That it was my birthday didn’t seem real at all. The day was rainy.

My mom was in the  ICU.  My father and I spent the night before in the hospital room where my mom had been the previous night, before the surgery.

Tomorrow( my birthday) we would need to vacate the room. The hospital rule said that if patients were in the ICU, relatives needed to vacate to a lodge or find a guest room or accommodation outside.

Early in the morning we visited my mother in the ICU as soon as the ICU was open to visitors- at around 7 am. She looked so small and emaciated in the blue hospital gown. She gave me a smile and beckoned to me. I went to her side- she asked me to get her her dentures and a comb for her hair.

That was the best birthday gift I had received. My mother was herself again. The long surgery of the previous day did not seem to have dampened her spirits. She was worried about how she looked ! I knew then that she was strong and my birthday was made.

I seemed to have gone through life in reverse. My mother would have rejoiced to see me smile or make a milestone as I was growing up but I had seen my mother smile at me and show me her spirit and it gladdened my heart. I was 48 but my mother’s request for her dentures and a comb sent a thrill through me. I could see she wanted to look her best before the doctors came on rounds. No one would have guessed that she had gone through a grueling 8 hour surgery just the previous day.

She is my mother and I am proud of her.

Birthdays seem to have lost their importance for me and even birthday gifts. To have a dear one near by is one of the best of life’s gifts, even more than one’s own life.


Settling down- with food

My 5 day trip to Singapore ended on Friday last week. Singapore is a place with a lot of immigrants- I am not sure who the natives are. But a large part of the population is English speaking Chinese- so the food essentially is Chinese.

While I was there, it was the last few days of the Chinese new year- this added more color to the streets and the faces around us. Red lanterns and red decorations marked the streets and you know , as my favorite color is red, I was totally enjoying it.

We are on a tight budget here as my husband is a student once more and will not be earning during his course. Essentially I am the only bread earner in the family for a time.

The first two days we and especially he suffered a lot for want of familiar food. We couldn’t find familiar food- and though I would try new food and was surviving on Chinese food like fried rice and orange chicken, my husband would try a spoonful and turn away. His breakfast was essentially eggs till we could find a bread stall and he indulged in cranberry buns. But we needed to find a solution to the food problem.

The rented condo provided us with a two burner induction cooker and a couple of pans and plates and spoons but that wasn’t enough for me, who has been cooking with a lot of pots and pans for about a quarter of a century now. To cook par boiled rice, we needed to use our pressure cooker as this rice only cooks in a cooker. But it looks like the induction cooker wouldn’t provide heat to the aluminum pressure cooker and so we had to abandon that effort. And without  our own brown hearty rice, we couldn’t survive. We decided to get us a n electric hot plate which is more of our age and not a modern device. So off to the shops we went with growling stomachs and a will to get our necessities come what may.

We travelled by the MRT ( public transport) and changing from red lines to purple lines to green lines, we reached the Dhobi Ghaut change station where we took another MRT to the Ferrer Road station which is the nearest to the Mustafa center, which we were informed was the place to go for everything a middle class family wanted in their lives.

It truly lived up to its reputation. We went on a shopping spree to tell the truth- a couple of pots and a few pans and some more cutlery, a ceramic knife( which is the new thing in knives, apparently), a rolling pin, some vegetables, some scrapped coconut, a blender, some containers ( to store our food in) and some prawns and fish ( for protein).

To carry all these things home, we hailed a cab. The front of the Mustafa center was cramped with cars and the road was narrow but we managed to push our things into the boot of the cab, with horns honking in our ears from a very irate cab driver, who had spotted an Arab gentleman and wanted his custom( we were in his way, he thought and he let us know this in no uncertain terms). We reached home and the friendly cab driver asked us where we wanted to go and we didn’t know where we lived. All we knew was that we stayed somewhere near the Clementi station and that it was about 6 bus stops away from the National University hospital. He asked us which Exit turned to our home and we didn’t know, so we called our house owner who talked to the cab driver. We got home safely and managed to get all our stuff into one elevator and pulled all things to our small home.

For the first time in days, our home felt like home again. Having familiar things, food and cooking our own food made us feel more at home than friendly faces and helping hands. Our house owner Joshua was kindness personified and he helped us see Singapore through the MRT and familiarized us with the various lines and buses.

But it takes food to make us feel that we can survive in an unknown city.


Once in a  while you have forgotten the benefits you reaped from a once favorite book or the advice of a good friend or the inspirations you thought of yourself when you were in a thinking mood. And you are on the verge of going back to old habits, old thoughts, old emotions and things you once gave up but are now beckoning you with all the colors of temptation. These are times when you need to go back to your roots- the books that gave you strength once or the friend whose advice was so dear to you or an  inspirational reading.

I have a chocolate craving now almost every day, when I had almost cured it by the end of November. Fortunately the love for sweets has not yet returned.

Debbie from talkingtomyweightlosscounselor-god, wrote a post yesterday, which inspired this post.

I was inspired to take down old favorite books by Norman Vincent Peale

  1. You can if you think you can 
  2. Reaching your potential

I am going to start reading them again.

According to Debbie, we need to hand over ourselves, our family, our dreams, our hopes, our aspirations, and everything that concerns us to God and watch as he unfolds his dreams for us. I am going to do this- in fact, I have already done so- after I read Debbie’s post  on Trust.


Laugh, even when you are at the receiving end

One of my New Year Resolutions was to laugh at myself or find things about myself to laugh about.

So here goes:

I had a colleague from my previous workplace who had been fired because of an unfortunate turn of events. When the economy was not doing too well last year, the corporation decided to do without a few jobs and save salaries. Instead of getting rid of some of the top salaries and bringing down stupendous salaries, the corporation decided to sacrifice some of the employees who earned less than 1000 $ per month. When the chairpersons asked supervisors for names of people who could be done away with, this particular colleague’s name cropped up because of certain disagreements she had had with the supervisor in past seasons. So my colleague found herself without a job from February 2016. Things were not going so well for her small family. Her husband had a small job in the same corporation but it was difficult to make ends meet with just one person’s salary. To top it all, she found out through HR that she had been made the scapegoat by said supervisor.

Fast forward a few months: I contacted her and found out about her situation. I tried to send various job vacancies to her but most were of a temporary nature and she didn’t qualify or apply – I am not sure which. Over the past few months, I have been sending her job vacancies in various institutions in our university and neighboring universities. In the beginning , she was truly grateful and appreciated my efforts but after a time, I noticed that she was not very responsive to my emails. She didn’t let me know that she had procured a job in an Insurance Company in September last year.

Around new year, I thought of sending her New Year wishes and wishing her luck with her job search, all in good faith. But I hesitated wondering if she would not take it in the right spirit. Today I found out that she had found a job, a permanent one at that ,in another big corporation. I was surprised that she hadn’t informed me even though I had tried my best in helping her.

Remember my New Year Resolutions ? It said – Give thanks- whatever the situation- so I did, even though my heart hurt. So I gave thanks again- felt a little better and then looking down the list, I saw the one that said- “Laugh at things, laugh at the absurdities of life, laugh at yourself.” And that is what I am doing now.

I thought I was being very magnanimous and very giving and all that and hoped that she would appreciate my efforts but instead she didn’t and taught me a lesson in humility. I am laughing now at how the Lord teaches me new lessons almost every day. I am so small, so insignificant and so trivial in the grand scheme of things and I deserve nothing more than a kick in the backside, which I have been given.


Pain letters- had to share

A couple of years ago, I was out of a job ( of my own choice). After having kept a low profile for a time, I started sending job applications to various places, hoping something would click. I must have sent at least 5 applications a day and sometimes even more. About three months into my unemployment, I got called to my first interview. I didn’t get that job.

Today I have a job. ( see old post)

While waiting for the new job, I went through some struggles.

Today I read an article in a Forbes newsletter about how to think out of the box when applying for a job. The concept of ” pain letters” is introduced here. Sometimes we need to attract attention of our prospective job employers through unconventional means. And just sometimes, those means may hit a target.

When I was applying for jobs, one day, in a sheer fit of frustration, I wrote a letter to the Research Dean of an university where I wanted to work and wrote about my aspirations and dreams. This was in June of that year. I got a reply in mid-October. Seems like that letter had touched a chord and sparked a response. From the correspondence that ensued, I was called for an interview and finally I got the job- not a perfect one but a job and one at which I was happy. In about six months, I got a promotion, was made permanent and now I am happy at my workplace with a great bunch of girlfriends and colleagues.

For those of you who are looking for jobs and may be a tad bit frustrated, don’t give up. Something nicer is just around the corner. You need to persist in order to navigate the curve and when the curve is turned, you will find yourself on newer pastures.

Please share your job search stories. Maybe we can work out a formula to help others in the position we have been in previously.