Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mind the mirror

It is true that you need a mirror to see how you look. When you don’t see one around you, you could become innovative to take a selfie to check! Just like the simple routine of checking our looks in the mirror, subconsciously our mind keeps thinking, comparing and drawing parallels. I do not have research data on how and why or whether the results facilitate or hamper. I started feeling this strongly during the last couple of weeks. We were just the second Indian family to move in to Katowice to start living in the city. When our flight departed India, we had 3 contact details: the hotel where we would stay for the next 4 days, my husband’s office address and my son’s prospective International English school. The best part was, the over-confident Hema (myself) had done some homework about renting flats with real estate agents over phone and had booked the hotel only for 4 days. We did not have one single contact number with an individual’s name (hope you understand that I do not want to count the Real estate agents here). My husband’s company was setting up its new unit in the city and had clearly mentioned that they will not be able to offer any assistance.
We landed here on the 5th of October 2013, Saturday evening @ 5:30 pm. As soon as we checked in at the hotel and dumped our huge luggage we set out for a quick dinner before calling it a day.  It was my first trip to Europe and before this I had only seen images and heard holiday stories from my friends about all the beautiful things that one would miss after a trip to Europe. Right on this first evening, I could feel love in the air. The sweet smiles, warm hugs and pecks on the cheeks were happening all around as we walked through this busy lane over ambitiously looking for a vegetarian restaurant. I am an Indian middle class woman who got to see hardly any movies as a child, who has been through the situation of TV being switched off when there was a kissing scene in the movie (lack of channels to change & as a school going girl I had wondered, why do they have so many buttons on this remote when there were only 2 channels to watch). Next on the offer was a live kissing scene on the pavement of the busy shopping street. The father of a 4-year-old girl who was watching his daughter playing around the light pole turned and hugged his wife, gently bent her back, leaned on her and they shared a lovely romantic kiss when business was just as usual for everyone around. We had to walk past this couple to get to our restaurant. As we approached them from about 50 mtrs when all this started, they were still busy and everything around was just so perfect: the colourful autumn leaves, the chillness in the air and ‘mind your own business’ attitude of people. Thanks to Google, we found “Zloty Osho” (Golden Donkey) the vegetarian restaurant that we were looking for. It would take 7 months for me to know that there were only 2 vegetarian restaurants in Katowice. We stayed in a hotel close to Zolty Osho and had our first meal there was sheer luck.
Just like all the previous projects is my personal and professional life, a XL book was created on day one when I heard from my husband that we may be moving out of Bangalore. I named it “Project P”, P for pack off as we were looking at options from Hyderabad, Noida, somewhere in Europe and somewhere in America. Saving 20 seconds on renaming the file, it was confirmed that we were moving to Poland so I mentally mapped, P for Poland. My file had tasks to do, dependencies, relocation financials, enquiries and follow ups and much more. After I had done 80% homework on everything, we were told that we were moving into Katowice not Wroclaw as mentioned earlier as there would be a new office in this town and they would want my husband to work out of this office. Wow. Thank you. I feel elevated just by the fact that things simply get complex when I lay my hands on them. So I spent the 20 seconds that I had saved earlier to rename the file as Version 2.0.
Every time when I hear that I am overambitious I fail to see a reason to change or downgrade. I put in enough work before so that 8 out of 10 times my plan A works else I always have a plan B which gives enough time to set Plan A right. And thanks to all those wonderful people whom I met during my professional life I count more on myself and the work I do. The only surprise is nature which I thank and try to coexist peacefully with. On Day 3, my son was at school and on Day 6 we had finalised an apartment to move in. on day 7, we were all set in the rented apartment and were having our first Indian home meal. In the next six months I would start learning Polish, make some Polish friends and get myself a visa status change so that I could start working. What would eventually happen is more Indians would move into this city.
With every new Indian family came more queries. Before moving out of India they wanted to know everything right from what vegetables are available to what masalas that are not, what is the rent to what is the temperature.  I thanked their stars that they had a first-hand source to ask whereas I trusted those who took their time to write and post on the internet. Myself being the “H” for “Help” person I was more than glad to tell all of them every single piece of information that I knew, all the improvements in my relocation process sheet and even the smallest of the mistakes that I had learnt from. Seven months and eight families, I realised that my mind is subconsciously benchmarking. As I stopped to make a conscious stock taking, I realised all that I had done with least help, in the given time and just marginally overboard on the budget.
As the calendar reminded me that I am getting older by another year, I sat down to reflect on my learning for the year. My routine self-evaluation which I trust has contributed immensely to what I decided to stand for as I would often have disagreements on what I feel like doing and what I ought to be doing. My mind told me that I am being too hard on myself. This is nothing to do with my over ambitiousness but about giving myself due credits for my achievements. May be they are not as big as the ninth Roland Garros of Nadal but not negligible either.
I live everyday either by living that day or planning for the next. Being kind and nice to others was more by habit than by learning. But I wish I had understood the importance of being nice to myself earlier. I feel I am happy and more in peace with myself as I started to respect myself for all that I do.

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