Kidney stones

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I am holed up in Gurgaon because of a kidney stone scare. I will write about it once am sure it’s over and am ok. While the doctor is convinced it’s over, I want to be absolutely sure.

This post is about the first time I had kidney stones. There is 70-80 % of kidney stones recurring and hence, due care has to be taken. In fact, doctors are convinced the pain in my tummy on Monday night was stones is because of this reason even though there are no clear symptoms and nothing specific in the test results. And no, it wasn’t because of eating too many mangoes or gas and methi seeds isn’t the cure. Stop diagnosing someone’s illness.

Flashback :

I was in college and sexually active. One day, there was blood in my pee. I thought it is periods and wore a pad. But it would bleed only when I peed. And even after I finished peeing I wanted to pee more. I spent large amount of time in the loo. Though my dad was a doctor I was very scared to tell him this. For one, how do you talk about blood in your pee in a traditional family? Second, I was sexually active and worried this was a STD. Yes, we used a condom. Always. But I had zero knowledge then and limited access to the internet. The women in my hostel knew lesser. I had given sex education to females in my engineering hostel AND MBA hostel.

I turned to my boyfriend. He agreed to take me to a gynaecologist but refused to come inside the clinic. He was afraid he would be spotted by someone who knows him and tell his family. And then he would have no answer to why he accompanied me to a gynaecologist. Logical. But when it comes from someone who you claim to love and care about, it’s a dick move. The fact that even in times of someone’s illness, you are only worried about yourself is a neon board for everyone “stay away from this man. Nothing good will come out of this”.

The gynaecologist said it is probably kidney stones. I heaved a sigh of relief and decided to call my parents. My boyfriend wasn’t very happy with the decision because incase it turned out to be STD, my parents would know I have been sexually active and his source of sex would get cut off. Worse, I may tell them it was him and they would tell his parents. In best case scenario, we would have to break off. In worst case scenario, we would have to get married.

Thankfully, nothing of the sort happened. I went home and the kidney stone passed out on it’s own. I know I drink less water and the fear of a stone is always at the back of my head. I wasn’t aware that its chances of a recurrence are so high. So am going to take extra care.

I met an old acquaintance from college in A’bad and the bf’s name came up. Nonchalantly I was telling him about some incident in college which featured the boyfriend. He was shocked I was talking about him and said “you are still talking about him. You are not over him”. I wasn’t sure how to respond. Who we want to spend our life with is a complex decision and prospective people for that are judged solely on incidents like the one mentioned above. Would you want to be friends with someone like this? I wouldn’t. Forget about anything more. In fact, I parted with people and ended friendships over smaller issues than this.

I am not writing this to bitch about a college boyfriend but this is the only memory I have about a kidney stone. Until now. If it was a stone. I am still not sure.


Challenges ahoy

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I started reading The Unquiet Land by Barkha Dutt today and a chapter on feminism made me think. I have been upset and depressed for the last few weeks. This is my 9th month in Mumbai and I still don’t like the city. KC, expectedly, has not been able to move. Even if he had, I would pine for Gurgaon. It is clear I can be happy only in Gurgaon.

But I have been thinking about this from the wrong end. I put myself at the centre of the story. The story and situation is much bigger than me. For starters, why should the organisation move me to Gurgaon within a year? Especially since there is no opening. All my colleagues have made that shift.

One guy’s family (wife and kids) is in Bangalore. They can’t make the shift because his wife has a gvernment job and won’t find a suitable one in Gurgaon. Also, he hasn’t been able to find a good ICSE school. He shuttles between Gurgaon and Bangalore (6-7 hours journey one way) 1-2 times a month.

Another person’s wife is working in Mumbai. He has shifted to Bangalore but his wife can’t make the shift because she has a dental practice in Mumbai. Since he does not plan to settle in Bangalore, no point in her starting from scratch in Bangalore. He shuttles between the two cities, paying rent in both cities.

A third guy has spent most of life in Delhi. After 6 months of staying apart, his family is moving to Mumbai with him this month. It is convenient that his wife isn’t working.

And then there is me. Am I expecting special favours because am a woman? If I expect to compete on the basis of merit, I have to play my part. All the male colleagues before me have made adjustments. Sure, they didn’t have working spouses but the current lot of colleagues do have working wives. And while their career may or may not be as important, the additional money sure is.

I wish I knew ambitious women who have put their career before marriage and kids but I can’t name one person. Instead I see more and more women putting their careers on the back burner to accommodate their husbands. We seem to be regressing as a society. But more on that later.

I feel calmer and better geared to return to Mumbai and deal with a very challenging month.


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I haven’t blogged in 15 days because I have been busy and upset. The lowest points in life are when you are helpless. When your life has to change because of decisions other people are making. And even your reaction to this needs more information and time. All you can do is wait and watch. And because you are feeling low, you end up messing up other things too.

Sorry, I lost my chain of thoughts and don’t have anything to say.

 


Watchlist

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Stuff I have been watching these days

  • Haraamkhor

I wanted to watch this movie when it released by KC refused to accompany me. It is available on Netflix for viewing. Starring Nawazuddin and Shweta Tripathi, this flick is about the affair between a teacher and his 14 year old student in a small town. The affair should make you go ugh but the subject is treated very well. Not that it isn’t creepy. Nawazuddin is married and only wants to sleep with Shweta. While Shweta does not have a mother and her father is barely home and this affair is the only joyful thing in her life. I know many girls who had affairs with older men when I was in a hostel. It is quite common. I loved the movie. Do catch it online. The fact that a Bollywood movie on this subject has been made and released in India is a big deal.

  • Lion

I watched this movie yesterday and loved it. It may have left me cold if it wasn’t based on a true story. A kid from the slums gets separated from his brother and family. He does not even remember his mother’s full name or the name of his village. He is adopted by Australian parents (Nicole Kidman) from the orphanage and grows up as a privileged kid. 20 years later the memories come flooding back and he tries to find his name. Dev Patel is awesome. Worth a watch.

  • Riverdale

This is the modern day version of the Archie’s comics. Throw away all your innocence out of the window. Archie is sleeping with his teacher, Betty’s dark side is waiting to break through her perfection, Veronica’s parents have lost all their money and there is a murderer on the loose and Jughead is so sensible. If I ignore the inspiration from the comics, the series has nothing new to offer. But keeping the comic in mind, I like the dark take. It is too early to judge basis 1 season and am waiting for season 2 to make up my mind. Check it out on Netflix.

  • House of Cards

I know. I know. The entire world has already watched it. I tried watching it a year back but could not understand all the politics. Now am watching with subtitles on Netflix. I download episodes on the iPad and watch them in the cab or auto during the commute. Traffic makes me happy. Reading has gone for a toss because am spending every spare minute on Netflix.

What are you watching right now? Anything interesting?


We lean in too much 

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“I think he is more risk taking than we give him credit for”

“Really?”

“He did promote you. I wasn’t expecting it”

“Neither was I”

“Maybe he saw a certain potential”

I wondered why I didn’t expect to get promoted. Why didn’t I go and ask for it? I know men; juniors, at the same level and seniors; who ask  demand a promotion every few months, whether they deserve it or not. Why didn’t I? Is it low esteem in general or is it because am a woman. Why did I keep hoping for a lateral movement instead of a movement vertically. In all the profiles I worked in, it has been difficult to fill my shoes. Except for the first 2 years because am not THAT awesome. Sure, maybe the company didn’t find the right candidate or maybe they did. But all my ex bosses have come back and told me how I had done a great job and the new person does not match up. Even my team mates have told me they miss me even though I sucked as a boss. They weren’t flattering me, they missed someone who was pushing them to be better everyday. 

I am doing a good job today. Everyone has been telling me so. More importantly, I come back home at night satisfied with my day. I wonder if the standards are so low or I am that good. Possibly the former. Anyone with common sense can do this job. So why didn’t I lobby for it? Why am I still surprised am here? This job has nothing to do with the gender. I can choose how much I want to travel and where. I can choose not to travel. 

What Sheryl Sandberg mentioned in Lean In and what so many other articles talk about is true. Women in the corporate don’t demand and negotiate as much as men do. Not even half as much. This is a scary thought. 

The fight to the top gets steeper from here and the roles are fewer. Good work alone isn’t going to cut it. It will require immense confidence in my abilities and a clear idea about my weaknesses. 

Sigh. 


Alive 

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I haven’t posted in a while because between work, cooking my meals and gym, there has been no time. I had to prioritise and blogging took a backseat.

Coming to Gurgaon is tough. I want to laugh. I want to cry. I feel alive. This is my 8th month in Mumbai and I have gotten used to the life. I don’t cry anymore, am sleeping better, I don’t hate the city as much, the traffic does not frustrate me. Basically, am dead inside and don’t feel a thing. I rarely make plans and prefer to hang out alone. Cancelled plans relieve me. Friendships are suffering but I have no inclination of explaining the complexities of life and my mind. Especially to people who have always led a simple life and don’t have half the drive and ambition for their career. 

There is a lot I have lost in the last 7 months. The hope is that this will lead to something better in the long term. Like, I wouldn’t have been promoted if I hadn’t worked in Rajkot at the beginning of my career. I hope someday I look back and am glad I did this. 

So much of communication is spending time together. And phone calls don’t make up for the absence. Is the relationship suffering? Yes. More than what it has done previously. Hopefully, it is a few months more. 

I have to be patient, strong and take one day at a time. 


Pakistani soaps

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I watched 2 soaps on Netflix because… Fawad Khan. He is soooooo adorable. The fact that I like him even though he does not have Kit Harington type hair should tell you something.

These are the things I noticed in these soaps:

  • They have strong female characters which I LOVE. This is the case even in India because the TG is housewives. But I don’t watch Hindi soaps so this struck me even more.
  • The main female lead is not exceptionally pretty. The lead in Zindagi is not pretty at all. And the female in Humsafar is not in-your-face pretty.
  • The female leads are independent minded, have an ego and are not doormats. Infact, the lead in Zindagi cribs and whines ALL the time. I loved that about her.
  • The female lead is from a family which isn’t well off and she is conservative. She covers her head, is dressed in traditional wear, does not mean guys alone, does not go to parties etc.
  • The male lead (Fawad Khan in both serials) is a gray character. He is from an upper caste family but has conservative views. Even though the women in his family are outgoing and open minded, he is not.
  • Zindagi even implied that women who put their career over their family are bad. The kids kept blaming their mother for not being around for them. Even the husband is unhappy about it. The daughter blames the mother for standing by her during the divorce instead of asking her to compromise.
  • The main lead (Fawad) has a best friend who is a female. Sometimes he is also dating the best friend but you can’t be sure because there are no lovey dovey talks or premarital sex or… well, anything.
  • There is no sex, no “inappropriate” touching, no hugging either… even between the husband and wife. No wonder Bollywood movies are so popular in Pakistan.
  • The women don’t wear dresses and are either in traditional wear or pants. They don’t show their legs at all. Weird as hell.
  • Fawad’s character is a sexist and complex as hell. But then he smiles and it is all ok. I guess, this is why some men get away with domestic violence.
  • The drama isn’t over the top like Indian soaps or like Bollywood movies. Instead, the emotions seem real. The acting is top notch.

I would highly recommend these soaps.

 

 


Blood stained panties 

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I have been very busy and had no time to blog. There are so many posts in my head that I need to type out.

I am laid up in bed instead of hitting the most awaited body pump class. It is my first day of periods and normally they don’t bother me but today has been horrible. I have been uncomfortable all day and running to the loo. A colleague came to the cabin to ask for advice on which part time MBA course he should join and all I could focus on were my blood stained panties. I had to visit the loo thrice in a row during lunch break because the 1st time I realised my panties are stained and I need to change the tampon, I rushed to the loo for the 2nd time and then I wondered if there are any stains on my outer clothes and went to the loo again to check. All this, while am rushing to finish work and meet appraisal deadlines. 

While this is a one off incident for me and my periods are mostly mild, for a lot of women this happens 1-3 days every month. And no, they can’t take leave for 1-3 days every month no matter how painful the periods are. Imagine the jokes on Twitter by non feminist men if women started getting leave because of their menstrual cycle. Bleeding for 3-5 24/7 is not a big deal, really. 

Ciao. I need to rest and hope things are less intense tomorrow. If this post grosses you out, you are probably a man. 


Ill and overworked 

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I just arrived home after a hectic day. KC could not believe it when I was in office at 10.30 pm since that is past my bedtime.

The plan for this week was to travel to A’bad, fly to Gurgaon, then to Indore and finally back to Mumbai. I had to postpone trip to A’bad because of a presentation to the top management next week. I, my colleague and a junior have to give the presentation. Since my manager wants us to give our own views, his involvement has been minimal. Last week we were at our wit’s end since we had no idea what needed to be done. But over the last few days we got clarity and work started. 

The best skill I have picked up in the last 3 years have been presentation skills. My ex manager has worked in advertising and is superb at PPTs. For me, a PPT started and ended with data. I would dig out as much data as I could, figure out what it was saying and then build a presentation. M taught me to do the reverse. He would ask me what story I want to tell. And then make me dig out data to back up the story. This required a huge change in mindset. 

The current PPT is the first I have made in my current role. Generally, all PPTs are made by the MIS executives but I decided not to use their help. I sat down and culled out all the data even though a person could have sent it by email. I wanted to spend so much time with the data so I have it on my fingertips. I also spent time in adding humour to the PPT and make it non boring. 

My manager is like a human computer. He does not use excel or a calculator unlike the rest of us. Every data point is on his fingertips. And he loves asking 10 questions at every slide or excel sheet. The biggest compliment was when he didn’t ask more than 5 questions because we had anticipated all the questions and answered them in advance. 

He asked me “Are you going to keep the slide this stark? Is this the only data you will show?” My reply was “Sir, I will only show data I want to talk about. The only story they are going to hear will be mine. I won’t give them more ammunition to ask questions. And I don’t want them to read the slides instead of listening to me”. These are the exact words M had said to me once.

Whether I get to present or not, whether the management is impressed or not, I am impressed with myself and the work I have put in. And am happy to have gained a useful skill. 

I have worked through a bad cough, first day of periods and a bad case of loose motions today and won’t have time to rest before next weekend. Good night. 


Things to do when you are ill

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  • Go to work where you are as productive as you can be
  • Travel to Surat because a distributor appointment and market work is more important than your health 
  • When you have to skip gym to go to the doc, finally take the next day off
  • Wake up late after a sleepless night of coughing 
  • Run errands 
  • Wash clothes
  • Draw the line at folding them and putting them away
  • Binge watch How to get away with murder
  • Eat leftovers for lunch
  • Buy groceries
  • Eat junk
  • Take panga with a professional troller on Twitter and spend hours giving it back to her army 
  • Read
  • Have soup
  • Turn down friend’s offer of hot chocolate and company 
  • Take a shower 
  • Blog

I suck at being ill, resting and doing nothing. Someone should tie me up and blindfold me. For once, it isn’t dirty talk.