Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Theory of difficulty - 2

If I accept that it is a difficult task to manage you along with work, complaining alone will not help. It might get some sympathy but doesn't help me solve the problem. I need to look at available solutions as well. What are the options that we have? Having some one from India will surely help. But that doesn't work for us. One of us can chose to stay at home. That one has to be Ashwini for many reasons. But that won't help much as well as she will be loaded with all the work. She will still have to depend upon me for few things. The only sound option is to go back to India. That would work really well as there is no dearth of helping hands there. Even if I can't find any support within the family, I can still employ someone for household work. We had a maid for household work when it was just two of us staying in Bangalore. So moving back would surely solve all our problems if we think it is a problem. Then why are we not going back to India? No one has forced us to come here to lead a tough life. No one is begging us to stay here for longer.

If we go back to India, it will surely make our job easier as per as your care is concerned. However it will take away the comfort of our life style from many other aspects. The roads will not be as smooth as here. The environment will not be as clean as here. The healthcare will not be as efficient as here. It will fix one problem but will end up adding others. However, none of them would have appeared as problems if we have hadn't lived here for last 5 years. Five years of comfortable lifestyle had made us forget the life style we were used for more than 25 years! It was the same experience I had after moving to Bangalore for work! The coastal weather had suddenly turned hard to bear though my body was used to it for 22 years of my life!

My mother used to tell some interesting stories of her life. When they were kids, they even had to struggle for stomach full of food. Though poverty was very common during those days, there was no shortage of rice for living. Still the elders were too cautious about the future and used to provide as little as possible to them. They were neither allowed to go to school or enjoy the childhood like we used to do.

The conditions under which we were brought up was entirely different from the conditions in which you are growing. We are taking care of you without much help from our family due to our personal reasons. However my mother didn't have great support when she brought up four of us. There wasn't much place for us in my fathers house due to the big undivided family there. My grand mother was restricted to bed due to her illness, so she was an additional responsibility along with us. My father couldn't come home everyday due to work and other reasons. We were grown up mainly with the support from our neighbours and one of our aunt.

The village where we grew up had no roads. The nearest hospital was nearly 5 miles from home out of which around 3 miles were walk way. The availability of buses to rest of the journey was also very limited. There were no doctors in our village neither any vehicles to rent. When one of us fell ill, either my mother or grandfather used to walk those five miles carrying us on their shoulder. Without any access to the medical information, without any knowledge of basic health care issues, I can only imagine how difficult it would have been for them when we started getting different illnesses.

Apart from the normal difficulties that we are also facing, they also had to undergo some unusual issues. Our house was very close to the river. During rainy season there used to be floods surrounding our house completely with the water. Some times it used to take 3-4 days to go down and we would be completely cut off from the outside world. There were 2-3 cases where it even came till our kitchen forcing us to vacate the house. Our house was very old and it would often invite unintended guests like snakes, scorpions etc. Spiders and centipedes were more common. Surrounding our houses there were also couple of open wells and ponds. They had to watch and protect us from all these things as well in addition. Here we are even afraid of leaving you on your own in protected rooms. Imagine how difficult it would have been for them.

There are hundreds of such issues that they had to face while bringing us up. There are others, in our family itself who had to face even tougher times. If I compare what they had to go through with us, there is no way I can call anything that we are facing as tough task. Still, if we feel that it is tough, we really don't have any idea about the real problems people are facing. It isn't just our problem. People in general have very short memory. A short stint in Bangalore makes me completely forget about the humid, hot coastal weather that I had grew up with. A short stint in western country makes it really hard for me to adjust back to the Indian lifestyle that I lived for 28 years. My definition of difficulty is changing fast with the time. In other words, there isn't anything called absolute difficulty. Everything is relative.

For a person striving hard to earn his bread, people like us are living a heavenly life. Where as people like us despite having everything essential in life worry too much about things that we don't have! The more I think about the nature of difficulty, the less I feel I have understood it. When should I really call a situation as difficult? Is it always relative or is there a point at which the comparison ceases to exist? My definition of difficulty is a tough situation without an easy way out. An unfavourable situation imposed on me without my consent. A situation that makes my present miserable even after concentrating all my efforts, resources on that. Certainly your care is not one of that. This is neither imposed nor unsolvable. If it can be fixed, there is no point in calling it as difficulty. If we really think it is difficult, is just because of a failed judgement over priorities of life!

Think of people having chronic illness that disrupts all their plans of life. Think of people under dire poverty where meeting two ends of meal itself is a challenge. Think of people who have lost all their hope of having a better life. There are millions of people facing these difficulties every minute, still some of them are optimistic about their future. Whereas millions of people with all the basic necessities or even the luxuries of life still feel they are leading a miserable life. The more you look at what you don't have ignoring what you have already got, the more difficult the life becomes. Without facing difficulties, it is hard to realize what happiness really means. The more I understand it the more I enjoy these circumstances. I don't complain about my changed life because I don't have the right to complain. The change might irritate me at times, but it will surely make me delighted to look back few years down the line!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Theory of difficulty - 1

Dear Arjun and Anirudh,

Have I ever told you how difficult it is to manage you both? Probably not. I was often told by people that we are doing a great job of coping with you and our work. I just smile to them, without starting with my long story. I am sure you are willing to hear the story of our daily routine atleast once. You can decide for yourself later whether it is a tough task or not.

Ashwini gets up at 6:30 in the morning, prepares the breakfast and leaves to her office at 7:30AM. I get up quite late between 8:00-9:30. It is a complex algorithm depending upon too many factors which even I don't understand properly. Then I get ready for office which only takes half an hour. Since I have to drop you to child minder on my way to office, I need to get both of you ready for that. That involves a series of sub tasks like brushing, searching for dresses, changing nappies, putting two three layers of clothes etc. It also used to involve giving the breakfast which I managed to offload to your child minder. Occasionally I end up sharing my breakfast with you as it is difficult for me to get ready when you are awake. Then I drop you to child minder on my way to office. When the weather is not friendly, taking you till the car itself is a pain. The moment I drop your hand, I invite all sorts of problems.

For us office is the place for relaxing. It doesn't mean that we don't do any work at office. It is much easier compared to our struggle at home. Since we have to pay our child minder on hourly basis, I only spend around 7 hours at office. I have successfully convinced my manager that I work very hard after going home as well by sending mails late night. So leaving office early was never a problem for me. Then I pickup you both and return back to home between 6:00-6:30PM. After that I start preparing for the dinner. Since you don't allow me to do anything, I also need to make sure that there is a constant supply of snacks to keep you occupied. Ashwini will come back home at around 7:30 and then takeover the kitchen responsibility, while I take care of you. By the time your food is ready it will be 8:00PM. Then she will start feeding you which will take around 30 minutes to one hour depending on your mood. Meanwhile I take some rest locking myself to the laptop for 30 minutes. Then I take bath and prepare things ready for your bath. You will be ready for the bath by that time and I give bath to one of you. Ashwini will clean the mess you created during dinner and give bath to another when I am done. After your bath she will take bath while I play with you for 10-20 minutes. You will be ready to sleep at around 9:30 and it is my task to make you sleep. That is another nightmare task which takes around 1 hour. Meanwhile Ashwini will complete the kitchen duty for our dinner. When you are fast asleep it will be around 10:30 to 11:00. That is when we get our complete freedom back! Ashwini will get a solid 1 hour break and I get 2 before we go to bed. Ofcourse we have to do some office work as well in that time, but we are not allowed to count that as work!

Friday is a special day as we both work from home to save some money from child minder. Working from home and managing you both is nothing short of any adventure. The routine remains the same, except that Ashwini will have to take the extra responsibility of giving you both breakfast and lunch. Her office is more demanding compared to mine so she needs to take more calls while working from home. During calls, only one of us can work(or pretend to work). Luckily putting you to sleep in the afternoon is much easier, so we get a good 2 hours of time to work peacefully!

The weekends aren't any less challenging. In fact we prefer weekdays to weekends in most of the days. We don't have to do office work, but there will be loads of other work like shopping, grocery shopping, cleaning etc. Managing time for all these is definitely tougher than doing the regular office work!

All these are assuming things are going normal. But things will seldom be normal. Every week you will attract some kind of bug and disrupt our schedule completely. Most of the time one of you will catch the bug, play with it for a week and then pass it to the next one. Everything will take double the effort when you are down with those bugs. Our schedule will be updated with frequent visits to GP and hospital . We don't get free sick leave for your illness, so it is a bigger problem on week days. In addition to the work, it is also a problem for the sleep. If you don't sleep peacefully, we can't think of sleeping either. When you are sick you throw up more than what you take in. In addition to cleaning that, we will also end up changing a lot of clothes with a big pile for washing! The medicines also needs to be given in time so we end up keeping the alarm for odd hours. Most of the time we keep doing that for 10-15 days in a row!

Some people were saying earlier that having twins is a problem only at the beginning. As they grow older, they will play together paying back the time that they have taken earlier. We are waiting for that day eagerly, since a long time. I am not really sure whether that day will come any time sooner. You guys like to fight with each other more than you want to play with each other. No matter how many different toys you were given, you always want the one in others hand! More often it turns physical with one you hurting the other badly. None of the solutions in the internet works when it come to these matters. However we do see one of you playing in your own world sometimes. Unfortunately that often happens when the other one is down with fever! 

So what do you think about our daily routine? Is it really a difficult job? You don't have to tell me. Your answer doesn't matter. May be it looks difficult in the eyes of some people. May be it looks monotonous to some people. But I don't think it is a difficult job. There were definitely times when I had lost my control yelling at you. There were definitely times when we felt it was too difficult to continue with that kind of routine. There were definitely times when it all looked too monotonous. But I can assure you that all those were momentary times. I never really complained to anyone saying it is a difficult job. I couldn't complain because I didn't have the right to complain...