My kind of Christmas- it’s a themed party right ?!?! (Without being blasphemous)

Throughout I will use “Christmas” and not Xmas. This stems from being reprimanded many years ago and being called lazy. Take care when you speak to people – we don’t forget🙄.

Anyway, I had the best compliment ever recently.. “babe I don’t know anyone else who is into Christmas more than you“. That’s why he married me ! My Hindu parents would be proud. However, I have rules – please please don’t talk to me about Christmas before 1st December otherwise I’ll be expecting Birthday wishes in July (I’m a September baby).Diwali and Art’s birthday need to be enjoyed during November.

His contribution to all the tasks that lie ahead: babe I’ll sort out the booze! Really? Thanks 🤦🏽‍♀️. Our priorities may be a little different. As long as you don’t forget the Prosecco 🥂🥂. Oh and he will definitely get the Christmas jumper on at some point. And I will have the reindeer antlers.

Shall I share the list? It all begins with a list as you know.

Lights

Have only been asking for years for external lights!! And last year he put up some sensible little lights in a straight line along the wall and in the front garden wall ! Yeah 🙄. It’s not exactly Christmassy and I wanted to go larger !! I don’t need NASA to see my house but a a little more would be welcome. I’ll have another attempt this year.

Now indoor lights are another matter in our house at Christmas.Thank you retailers for all those battery operated varieties! Bright white, not so bright white, warm glow, small stars, big stars, copper wire and chrome wire for a more trendy look. Who hasn’t put two different types of lights on their tree and had to undo it all ?

Is there any area of the house that isn’t lit up? Note to self – emergency battery packs in kitchen drawer and start saving to pay next electricity bill!!

Trees 🌲

Xmas trees- yes we are at 2. I know this is decadent; don’t hate me. One for the lounge and one for the front room. It’s great-you can’t escape them!! And they are real. Yes they can be annoying and not quite symmetrical and needles drop. And those with pets – it’s an adventure trail for those 🐈. So off we go to Stagsden every year. This year’s visit will be the same as always but luckily this year there won’t be a pincer movement on me from hubby and daughter. They want to choose the first big one and smallish one we see. What the hell? We came to choose and that means taking time and studying the trees in detail. They’ve taken months to shine for us and the least we can do is to be polite and give some attention. We also need to have the annual tree related argument. Why aren’t we carrying a tape measure like that couple I wonder. So trees 🌲 🌲 finally chosen and time to pay. Hold your breath. Hubby is frantically trying to get me out of the Christmas Shop… soooo many sparkly shiny things to touch and buy. The annual new tree decoration purchased and I get dragged out.

And we’ve all had the dramas where

⁃ The tree needs replacing. Please it’s only the 18th and the tree is sick.

⁃ The tree that was too big : forget the fairy this year 😟.

⁃ The tree that was too fat. Babe I can’t get the baubles on – you’ll have to do it.

⁃ The tree that never looks right 😂 throughout the season – it’s on a slant . I’m sure it is.

And the annual tradition of decorating the tree with Michael Buble. Look at the tree from outside babe – is it ok? Actually I’ll do it myself. Anyone thinking I’m a control freak.🤔🤷🏽‍♀️

Decorations

Don’t be in a rush to pack them away. You’ll only regret it next time. You know my rules on storage and organisation. This is a time when it comes in very handy. If possible pack by colour. Doesn’t everyone have a reindeer that lights up, garlands galore, gold stars 🌟🌟🌟 and silver 💕hearts. No surface should be left bare. Holly and Mistletoe- I got it all covered.No tinsel here. No paper chains like the old days

Presents 🎁

I love buying presents. There’s a definite art to it. List and budget and a full day’s onslaught with breakfast , lunch and tea breaks. Those cleverer people do that online thing. And those super annoying (but ridiculously organised) that buy all year and have everything wrapped and ready by December 1st. Where’s the fun and chaos in that ? No drama … not for me! You do your best in making everyone happy and it’s so much easier if the recipient throws some clues at you. I’ve been reminded recently that “if you believe you receive “ – hmm .. does that mean if you believe you deserve a present you get one? 🤔🤷🏽‍♀️ And if I happen to give you a present just take a moment to appreciate the wrapping, the ribbon, the bow, the tag and the general loveliness I’ve invested.🙏🏽

Cards

Charity cards purchased. Let the story telling begin. I applaud those that can write to/from.

Food & Drink

By food I don’t mean the main Christmas dinner. I mean the volume of other food that appears – dips, fruit, chocolate boxes, unopened nuts, cheese, biscuits for cheese, crisps, olives, every M&S party pack, made up snacks for festive season …did I miss anything ?

General food observation: shops are only shut for a few hours, so people don’t panic. Obviously you might be doubling up on supplies because of Brexit – see got it in here too👊🏾. But brussel sprouts are not allowed after 26/12 surely? We’ll have enough booze to see us through to Summer 2019 for sure.

Xmas Eve

Our annual Xmas eve party for local friends started 13 years ago when the kids were small and everyone was keen to head home early to watch Santa’s journey. Now they are bigger than us, eat and drink more than us and more to the point they take up more space than us. The annual question from hubby (attempting not to roll his eyes) “How many have you invited this year”?. Hmmm I may have got carried away again. We need a bigger house. And will we have the quiz again this year? Always a late finish tidying so we can wake up to calm on Christmas Day.

Christmas Day

Planning and prep is key! Ensure that you have foil and chestnuts and remember to stick the oven on. This is advice from bitter experience. Lunch/dinner for 3😂: Simon’s time to shine whilst Janet and I watch Toy Story from the sofa. Eat and back on the sofa.A visit to friends to eat and drink more ensuring you are sporting your presents! Lordy don’t forget the crackers – go large .. just so you can get a decent hat and useful present. That little comb, screwdriver , bottle opener. Makes it all worth while doesn’t it. I get mine from TK Maxx – there I’ve said it and put it in public domain. I forgot the most important thing – present opening pre breakfast. Everyone happy and if you’re not just pretend !!

Boxing Day

Home cooked Indian feast as you do. Let’s see if this continues.

Family & Friends

The largest and most important ingredient is “family and friends”. Hugs upon hugs and mistletoe kisses. Squeeze them all in and take rest afterwards. Pace yourself though as NYE will soon be approaching. Barocca every morning and stay hydrated.

Yes it’s all indulgent. But why not? As long as we note how lucky we are and don’t forget those in need and those not lucky enough to have loved ones to share this time.

🙏🏽

Seema

I’ll tell you how it all goes and whether there were any injuries inflicted! Start the health campaign in the new year unless you can find additional hours in your day. Enjoy being with loved ones and those others 😉. Count to the 10 or the 12 days of Christmas. Keep the peace. X

Work breeds 🙄: we’re the normal ones .. right? Which type of colleague will I be today ??

The world is made of all sorts so why do companies feel the need to fill their businesses with a “type”. This surely will result in a blob of blancmange and lead to a tasteless mess. However the enlightened companies ensure that there is a diverse melting pot of

⁃ ages :although at this rate we’ll all be working till we are 80 🤦🏽‍♀️ (stay away from religion and politics Seema!)

⁃ sex :no I’m not implying that

⁃ experience :age doesn’t mean you go to the top of the class for this but the onus is on all concerned not to let the experience stay buried. Don’t see it as a threat but something that we can all enjoy and benefit from.

⁃ education :you don’t need a degree to do every job and you don’t need a degree to prove your intellect or capabilities. But you can be proud of your achievements. So we’re all good! 😅

⁃ backgrounds: the trick is to be open. This is so vast that I’ll come back to it another day.

Let me take you through some of the personality types I’ve encountered over the years – naming no names and in no particular order.Of course if you are a teeny tiny business of one feel free to be all the below if biologically/mentally/physically possible 😂😉. Perhaps not all and not all of the time. Some are my personal favourites and showcase all the wonderful women I’ve had the pleasure to work with.

⁃ The working mum: A class act that lives by lists and juggling. She has to hear nonsensical comments from time to time about commitment, time keeping and time off.Remember they are working not just at work but with our future !

⁃ The nosey one: They have to know everything about everything. Leave some space for things that matter people !! Closely linked to the gossip.

⁃ The gossip:creating bile and doubt. Often seen hovering at desks. One to be avoided at all cost.

⁃ The know it all: they’ve done it , seen it, tried it so shall we all move on. Don’t they know that history repeats itself.

⁃ The negative numpty: Minimise engagement at all costs. Some helpful escaping strategies for you. Sorry the CEO is expecting me(go big!!); just need to visit the loo or I think I’m needed at the hospital – a family member has just been taken ill. 🤔

⁃ The lazy one: why do you even bother pretending! 🙄

⁃ The missing one: oooh weren’t you supposed to be in London. Ooooh weren’t you supposed to be in the office. I think you need to go missing from our business for good.

⁃ The loner: The ones quite frankly that should work on their own.

⁃ The tryer: god love them

⁃ The one who has your back: closely linked with a possible friend.

⁃ The smoker: The one that annoys the non-smoker with their break times. And it’s an addiction so please don’t be mad at me 🙏🏽. Us non-smokers need a vice !

⁃ The whiner : they’ll be the ones gossiping about the smoker😉. They are energy suckers.

⁃ The feeder: proud to be one but I know that it can’t be easy if we keep feeding you with samosas/left over curries/ sweets. Forget about any diet if we are around.

⁃ The tea maker: no no let me do it again although it’s called a tea round. But please don’t be offended as I’ll make my own.

⁃ The late one: so you haven’t moved, and the start time hasn’t changed. Help me understand (©️Thankyou Mr Meek). They are pushing understanding to new limits .

⁃ The “don’t you have a home to go to”: in before everyone and leave after everyone. What are you doing ? Either you should question your work load or you’re not doing it right or you need to get off social media.

⁃ The Knowledge is power: yes I knew that and that. But am not going to tell you because then you’ll know more than me and that makes me feel insecure.

⁃ The one you walk on egg shells around: I’ll do the same here than shall I. Watch every word and every possible meaning of every word. So draining.

⁃ The ‘they just get it’: help to create a productive and fun team. They know the work like balance and why we’re at work.

⁃ The future CEO: you can just see them shining can’t you. They take us all with them and make things happen which we thought weren’t possible and they know they couldn’t have done it without you. And they tell you that.

⁃ The one who thinks it’s a fashion show: ok so I have been guilty sometimes of this.

⁃ The part timer: let’s get this clear. They work part time and get part time money so why do we expect them to be available at our whim.

⁃ The home based one: give them a break.. What do you care whether we do the work at 4pm or 8pm? Are you secretly jealous.

⁃ The friend for life: it will happen for sure to us all. They become your rock at work and outside.

⁃ The loud one/ disruptive: it’s fun but not all day long! Stick your do not disturb sign up.🙄

⁃ The drama queen: No there is no crisis but they will pretend there is one because they like the sound of their voice and need the attention. So tragic.

⁃ The sharer: we know what they watched on tv last night, what they had for dinner and what their partner’s colleagues are like too ! Ok so I may also be one of these. 😂

⁃ The emailer: lets cover our backsides shall we. It’s so much easier to email than talk to the whiner, the gossip the loud one. Yes carry on emailing even if it is to place a tea order !!

⁃ The meeting guru: let’s have another meeting. And let’s all turn up on time. Time is money. What are we here for again?

⁃ The “carry on colleague”: Keep your hands to yourself and no thanks to the smutty jokes and pathetic innuendos. We don’t need another Finbar Saunders. Please don’t misunderstand me – I and others are more than capable of standing our ground. Just accept us for the people we are – female colleagues who per chance may be better than you ? Goodness that could be possible in 2018. #metoo where were you for all those years.

⁃ The yes man: there could be an opinion in there somewhere 🤷🏽‍♀️

The Venn diagram will be rather complicated and messy but I’m sure some smart young thing will develop an app to work out which bits you are. And the beauty of us humans is that we have the capacity to change – if you don’t like something about yourself you have the gift to “explore and develop”. How many times have I felt the urge to be someone smarter, faster or not to be there 🙄.

Learn to adapt and be open. In each scenario you don’t have to behave to type! Surprise yourself and the other buggers. That’ll confuse them.

I know who I’d have in my boat … do you?

Work should be fun and fulfilling. Everyone has a part to play to make the bottom line.

🙏🏽

Seema

Seema’s Sunday three ways: a country walk ;yoga;Hindi Karaoke (as you do- bet some of you didn’t even know that existed).

This is what you can look forward to when your child is 21 and independent (to a point – as long as you keep the bank of mum/dad /step-dad/grandparents open at all times). No extra curricular activities, no school uniform to prepare, no homework to supervise and no party drop offs. How did I manage all that and work. Now I will have neither for a while so need to find a new hobby. Perhaps one of the following could be the answer.

PART 1: The Walk: Cost = free

Get those walking boots on. About 10 minutes before you leave. Such a bore – flip flops are so much easier. These boots hardly get used so need to get them out and work on the cost:use ratio. I’m in training now you know; HE has signed us up for a challenge. Lake District ; 24miles, 10 hills, 5am start. Easy 🙄. Only saving grace is that it’s next June .Dear god he can’t sit still and always need to do something but feels the need to drag me along occasionally. Not many things I can do but walking is one. This walk did happen around Biddenham where there seems to be an explosion of homes. Hmmm perhaps the boots were an overkill and the mini rucksack and snack and water ! Oh well you know me – always prepared for an emergency. But we finally escaped buildings to the river and enjoyed the sun and the fresh cool wind. The obligatory chat of kids and life dramas was had and shared – the talking stick was passed and on a Sunday morning all was sorted. Refreshments (because apple had come back uneaten 😂) at friend’s house and then they made the fatal mistake of showing us their Aldi purchase. A soft toy – a 🥕!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes a carrot. That’s what middle England people are doing now and apparently fighting in stores to get said carrot. The demise of the high street become clearer. I also note that Aldi are donating £15k ONLY to charity. Please correct me if I’m wrong but that’s the most ungenerous thing ever. They’ve probably paid many times more just to make the you tube clips! But people feel free to buy the carrots – it’s your hard earned money. Sorry I did actually walk and the fitbit says I’ve done over 18,000 steps. That means I can sit still tomorrow for most of the day. How could I let a carrot get to me ?🤷🏽‍♀️.

PART 2 :The Yoga: Cost = free (today only)

Yoga and meditation 🧘🏽‍♀️.Moon salutations and yogic breathing . Looking inward and being good. Dragged Simon with me but he was behind me so not sure how his downward dog fared. He’s not flexible but bless him he tries. Sit cross-legged hold your right toe with right hand and left toe with left hand and extend. See what happens🙏🏽😉. My payback ! Namaste. Nitasha makes everything look so effortless and whilst she’s away doing some more amazing things around the world I’ll be sure to practice those poses.

PART 3: The Dosa Party:Cost=£15

You should know something. The new subway in Delhi (not so new now) has warnings stating “no spitting” and another telling “no singing”. Get a group of Indians together and just give them a slight nod on music and dance and watch the evening and them come alive.And add food to that heady mix it becomes a winning combo ( event planners take note- Kurry Karaoke – you heard it here first). Pooja’s Kareoke night at Cochin, Bedford’s best South Indian Restaurant was destined to be a huge success. Then it dawns on me, what does one wear to this type of do? Sari – not for me , not tonight, the tummy is not ready to be exposed yet. Play it safe, black kurta suit, minimal jewellery(it’s Sunday after all) and a sober bindi. Done!

Needs must – Pooja has set up by the bar with her system and was in fine tune. She managed to ignore the sound man, the waiter, us talking and trying to drown her when we actually sang. Gracious to all who were wannabe Rafis and Latas.

Damn the food – and you know I never say no to food. Starters , mains and pudding. I was going to skip the details but have come to my senses (chilli paneer, vada, bonda, masala dosa, Gulab Jamun or semia). Don’t they know I have a song to murder. Swarupa did remind me that I’d said ‘not singing, don’t let me sing, I’m not allowed to by Art and Simon’. Perfect they’re not here !! We will just sing with our mouths full or eat cold dosas 🙄.

Our wonderful table of Praveena, Monika, Deepali and Swarupa were of course the best table made even better by visits from Rekha and Suman. We would have welcomed you too Shabana, Fatima, Ritu and Asmita (who have I forgotten this time!!😬) Mr Google helped with lots of lyrics. Supplementary information our fave male actors are Amitabh Bachan and Siddharth Malhotra (not for his acting 😉- sorry guys I became un pc just for a few seconds).

So many songs sung by lots of people . I think Chris/John and Aparna need to take a bow!! Awesome 👏🏾🙌🏾Let’s not forget Sudesh and Gigi with their punjabi beat and bhangra moves . And Dr Patil sings as well as saving lives 💕. Did I mention yet again a room full of doctors.

Just recollecting a few of the songs ;

⁃ Tere mast mast do nain: your fit two eye

⁃ Kya Khub Lagthi ho: you look great (oh Thankyou)

⁃ Monika oh my darling :Monika oh my darling …(especially for Monika Kohli)

⁃ Chalte Chalte : walking walking

⁃ Yeh Dosti : this friendship

⁃ Bhaharo phool Barsao : winds scatter flowers

⁃ Mere sapno ki Rani kabh aayegi tu: the queen of my dreams when will you arrive

Not quite the same in English. Completely lost in translation ☹️. I’m sad about this.

Where I normally eat chilli paneer became the dance floor. Carpet and heels not good dance partners. And perhaps this is why someone thought I was actually drunk. How rude (Sudesh!!) just high on Diet Coke(other brands of teeth rotting drinks are available).

So what if I missed Indian idol; so what if there were no Latas, Ashas, Ushas or Alkas here I don’t care. I got to sing

“yeh dosti” with the Bandhan girls – long may it continue . First time ever I’ve selfied a video – more shouting than singing.😂

This Brit Asian loves surprising and did it again .. yes I can read Hindi lyrics . Singing them is another matter. Suman, however, the seasoned singer – even had the lyrics in English! Planning and prep even for Kareoke 👍🏽.

See you all at the next event – the dance floor at our NYE party to finish that song and dance challenge. Simon you’re coming with me – he loves to dance you know ! The singing 🎤- give me a few years more.

🙏🏽

Seema

The weekend bag

I know you may think what she’s on about now? A bag is a bag surely. Not when I’m travelling and it’s going on a girly weekend.

Flights booked; super early to maximise the opportunity for fun time, talk time and to annoy the hell out of our neighbours.😂And then without fail collectively say “why did we do that” only to repeat it all over again the following year.

Accommodation booked: that place that looks awesome and too good to be true on Air B&B ( poor hotels). Sweaty palms and slightly nervous giggles about the reality if you’ve drawn the short straw for booking. But the stand off between host and guest and mutual reviews means that reality is normally spot on.

I’ve digressed already🙄. Back to packing the bag.Pay close attention and you’ll never have any problems again. I will be accepting Thankyou cards and gifts in return. Yes, I am that shallow.

Weather conditions

It’s hot Seema – so pack for that.But I’ve learnt from bitter experience that freak weather will catch you out. And it waits for you to be in shorts and sandals. Nearly drowned in torrential rain in Barcelona one year. It’s not great having a whole meal with wet pants. The only solution is alcohol. And then there was the freak hailstones in Florence. Worst weather for 50years – persecution complex ahoy! That umbrella and waterproof is going in!!Hmmm it’s going to be in the 30s. Better to be safe than sorry. They’re definitely coming with me.

Clothes

3 nights and technically 4 days . So that’s 7 outfits without any options,emergency replacements or duplicating(god forbid).

⁃ Do pack jeans 👖. Although you may find them too hot.

⁃ Do pack the clothes that you would never wear at home.

⁃ Do pack that low cut top – all strangers here 😉.

⁃ Do pack numerous pairs of white trousers- linen, crops, jeans etc. A girl can never have enough white trousers.

⁃ Do pack that maxi dress. Floral print.

⁃ Do pack the hat or will you buy yet another sun hat on holiday.

Footwear (note separate section)

Shoes to any normal person but a girl needs options and plan for emergencies (different to clothes emergency). Ofcourse I’m taking heels – I always do and never wear them . But you never know I may just decide on it this time. Ensure you have flats, wedges, flip flops, trainers , spare flats in a different colour and gold or silver sandals to zhuzh up anything. Don’t you just love that word – makes one feel like a film start darling. Is that enough?

Sportswear

Slightly controversial entry so you may omit it this time but do try again. No harm in trying. Gym gear needs to get out and about and see new countries as well even if it’s from the inside of a room.

Accessories

My magic bag of accessories for every occasion. Friends who have travelled with me know that I am never without this. A tangled mess of necklaces, bracelets and earrings. Have never been able to work out a grown up way of managing them. I do envy those women who wear the same accessories all the time and just ooze elegance and glamour. It only weighs a few kilograms but at least I’m always coordinated. It’s important to be prepared. And don’t forget your shades.

Evening Bag

Just take one otherwise you’ll be grumpy 😡. Make sure it’s neutral or all out – one or the other. You don’t want to be the only one carrying your day bag. The shame of it – especially on a chic city break.

Seema’s snacks

Oh and my secret stash of snacks which consists of dried mango , pistachio nuts and satsumas. You may mock but you’ll be grateful when you’ve not eaten for at least 1/2 hour and need something quick. I once had an apple that went on hols with me and came back with me . Well travelled 🍎.

Toiletries/Makeup

Now people there are travel size options for a reason! They are for travelling folks. Do you risk it for airport purchase . No. that’s not the right path. We need to be prepared and airport time really should not be wasted.Any time at the airport has to be used for eating, drinking and shopping. It’s not real money on that side of passport control. No really.. I promise you that’s absolutely true.

Electrical Equipment

Hairdryer, straightener, travel iron, portable speaker , iPad…. or you could go cold turkey on technology. And live with the bohemian hair. Be free my friend.

Entertainment

Prepare for all eventualities. Alone time and group time.

⁃ Books/ the obligatory Hello magazine. See how the other half live and their beautiful houses and clothes. Do people really dress like that at home 🤔.

⁃ Pack of playing cards. Watch the surprise look on other’s faces as you roll out your repertoire of card games.

Damn it the bag is so full there will be no space for shopping.🤔

Off I go to hunt in cupboards and in the eaves to find the next size bag. Shall we open a luggage pop up babe ? The 😉

differential between the sizes could be measured in shirts I reckon. But they’re never quite the right size. One day I’ll be the stylish woman who has matching luggage and accessories but for now TK Maxx bargains will have to do.

And my travel companions in the past have concerned me. The friend who takes what looks like a pill box – so teeny weeny that my handbag feels bigger ! But she manages always to look stunning , no creases and as many outfit choices as me. Can someone please explain this magic to me. Then we have the friend with the same size bag as me but manages to have even more options than me – she needs help! Does she have no self control. Then we have the friend who hasn’t packed at all well and is squeezing as many combos out of 2 outfits. It takes all sorts doesn’t it? And when I deign to go with the hubby I know I can hijack his bag space for those extra shoes, trousers,tops …😂. And play the who’s got the heaviest bag 😉.

Just need to sort out my travel clothes now! Do I want to look cool and stylish or be comfortable or attain both by the obligatory white linen trousers and a funky top. Remember those FB photo opportunities Seema , better try and look presentable. And being the oldest in the group does comes with its challenges- the biggest travel bag is just the start . And it certainly isn’t going to be carry on.

Hope that’s helped. You’re holiday ready for next year or even a winter break. The latter is part 2 of the tutorial (£6.35 for friends) 😉. Packing jumpers is just another ball game 😂.

🙏🏽

Seema

My Alternative CV

A casual look back on a great career so far. Being made redundant will surely suck but I will ensure it makes me stronger and more open to new opportunities. 💪🏽🧘🏽‍♀️. Treat it as a gift 🎁 .

( all companies mentioned exist and are real and I only skim for a millisecond on my time there.And for context those who don’t know me I’m a 53year British Asian woman).

I wasn’t bright enough to be a doctor. Or was it that I never wanted to be one. Oh the disappointment. Having met many of late, infact I can’t escape them (Bandhan Bedford you have lot to answer).I have realised they are normal lovely people and don’t want to be put on a pedestal. They even have fun. Sometimes even more than me 🤔.

So I became an engineer, only by qualification you understand 🤦🏽‍♀️! Why would you do that. The great ratio of men:women on the degree course ? Possibly ?The need to be practical- definitely. Thankfully and to everyone’s relief I never got to the stage of designing anything that could blow up🙈.BTW university gave me my first husband so I didn’t spend all my time in the library 😉.

However what the Chemical Engineering with Management Economics degree gave me was the most in depth interview question, judge for yourself.

⁃ Question Are your parents ok with you living away from home for this job?

⁃ Answer Hmm I just spent 4 years in Bradford studying. It wasn’t a punishment you know!! Oh did you not realise that Southall and Bradford are just not dropping in distance apart.

But then it also got me almost all interviews in those days – a female Chem Enger;but wait an Indian female engineer.Better still a vegetarian Indian female engineer. Not quite a vegan yet!

Standard Soap(part of Croda International)- Ashby de la Zouch

Even after the random questions I got the job. Amazing Graduate Training Programme that allowed me to make Redken Shampoo, Johnson’s Shout Sticks, Clinique Soap, Tuscany Soap and to top it off M&S toiletries.M&S at that point was in the glory days and had the wonderful maze that was Baker Street! I just couldn’t cope with the slowness of the progression- so left for the big smoke (London for those who are behind the times). Standard Soap taught me that opportunities can come at you at anytime and in any form- grab it. It also introduced me to the world of trade shows through Spring Fair.

Babychoice – London

Marylebone High Street was the place to be. No money left ever because of expensive lunches and the pull of Oxford Street! I learnt to write faxes to the Far East factories here ( yes some of us were around pre email). The routine of sending them on your way out and collecting the replies on your way in. Keep comms simple always !! And who doesn’t want to work for A workaholic that turns you into one too. I learnt how to build a business from nothing ; just need a great idea and here it was licensing and baby products combined 🍼. Who doesn’t like Beatrix Potter on a bib?

Tommee Tippee (Cramlington, Northumberland)

Hours spent on the M1/A1🙄. Learning to love story cassettes (starting to feel really old now) on those long drives. First foray into “proper” sales with a proper car. Silver Cavalier SRI which was such a mean machine .. so much so that it was always being broken into in Newcastle (not judging). Matured into a racing green Rover – old before my time.The travel cups and travel potty! And the lovely Sangenic … the nappy sausage making machine. I’m all about providing a service for all areas of your life. How apt to have a baby whilst working for the number one baby brand – it’s like I planned it. Yes it was a MAJOR LIFE EVENT: I had a daughter – ffs she’s 21 this week. I’m really not that old. We look like sisters – yes we really do. I learnt the value of hard work and the value of a great brand here. I also got my first mobile which my boss said I could use as a baton!📞( for self defence).🤷🏽‍♀️

Cole & Mason(Farnborough)

Yes we were right by the dump- especially yummy on hot summer days. Only the planes from the air show made it worthwhile. I met my sister from another life here. It’s not a salt and pepper pot I learnt- it’s a mill. Not any old mill but a Cole & Mason mill. We hustled and beavered away to make it a success. Long awaited Rounders tournament every summer that created heated competition and memories. This is where I learnt the art of detail, process and knowing your numbers. This is also where I entered the world of Ambiente, Exclusive Housewares and The Progressive Housewares Dinner. They all definitely deserve their own entries another time. Hard work but what fun! All that air kissing …

Tefal to Groupe SEB (Langley)

This is the brand that gave me my second husband. Not sure if it’s part of their ongoing ranges. I also picked up some other WOTEs (women on the edge) along the way. Those that transition from being colleagues , to work friends to friends for life. Working for the French was a pleasure and as you know gave me exposure to non veg veg food!

Nearly 10 years of my life. Surely deserves its own private hearing. The non stick years with a few plugs thrown in. It gave me confidence and taught me the phrase “soft launch” and “more champagne “, fell in love with Jamie Oliver and had Conference overload. Too many shenanigans to publish. I learnt the art of air kissing, juggling and showing how it’s done with an all female team and learning to work with Marketing muppets as a sales tosser or box shifter!🤦🏽‍♀️. And they were the best Marketing Muppets around.

DKB (Cole & Mason all grown up)

I continued my love of Jamie Oliver here but may have shifted my loyalties to a certain guy called Ken Hom. I accumulated a kitchen full of tools and gadget that could chop/peel/prep any fruit or veg you care to throw at me. I learnt the value of TK Maxx -“It’s not just clearance”, whilst being a John Lewis junkie and a Lakeland luvvie. And I perfected my art for schmoozing and building the wonderful Housewares network of colleagues,friends and acquaintances. I learnt a new word “cardrobe” that depicts my mobile life.

GreenPan(Woking)

The Belgian chocolate makers. No no – not unhealthy chocolate but healthy ceramic non stick. Ready to conquer the world . Just need to get their army and plan ready. I am just not part of that mission any more. This business gave me my first Directorship and allowed me to spread my wings. It also allowed me to travel to China and HK, alas on economy. Not a good look when your buyers are ahead of you in business 😂. I learnt how to be independent, build a great team and be even more determined.

Now I am working out redundancy protocol.Wondering whether I can be a stay at home lady that lunches – unlikely. Have a daughter to get through uni and give her more amazing experiences. And myself.

So will invest (thankyou to a friend for that word) some time on the Seema brand rather than other brands for a short while and recharge the grey matter. Did the History Degree a while ago with the Open University but those brain cells need reawakening. My mum’s take on it was “is it going to help you get a new job?” – no . “Is it going to get you more money “- no. Poor mum just didn’t get my need to just learn. The options are bombarding my brain 🧠

Seema 1 wants to be a gym bunny

Seema 2 wants to sleep

Seema 3 wants to hop on a plane and be with her sick mum.

Seema 4 wants to finally sort out her storage issues (😉 if you know you know).

Seema 5 is expected to be a dutiful wife 😘 (hmmmm) and provide home cooked meals.

Seems 6 wants to do more yoga. Flexible be more flexible.

Seema 7 wants to study some more

Seema 8 wants to work for a great company and fit in all the above.

Seema’s friends want her to relax for a while.

But if anyone does want to employ a woman who gets results and brings a bit of Indian spice with her please call my agent 😉. Just be clear that I will have to check with mummy and papa first. Don’t all Indians? And please don’t worry I’m not looking for husband number three 🙄

🙏🏽

Seema

Diwali Dhamaka (Bang)

Diwali is the don(well I think so) of the Hindu festival calendar, but also important for Sikhs and Jains. In the UK we know it as the Festival of Lights.

It celebrates the victory of good over evil , light over dark (hence the name) and knowledge over ignorance. It also commemorates the return of the banished Lord God Rama (bit of a hero) and his wife Sita ( traumatised and a patient lady) to Ayodhya after 14years. I’ll fill you in on their story another time (Ramayana) – trust me we don’t have enough time now.

Having grown up in Southall from the age of about 12 I can confidently say that I have had many happy Diwalis here. I would like to share bits of the past and tell you about this one. Southall Diwalis are special!! Not saying yours’ aren’t … but Southall ones are the best.😜

There are some key ingredients that make a great Diwali. Like any good dish everyone has their own spin and favourite element. Adjust accordingly to your taste.

1. Getting the house ready: mum always said to make sure it was clean. I can confidently say that my house is clean, thanks to Rosa. And tidy .. well it’s better than last week and that’s enough of an achievement for me. No Rangolis (a decorative pattern outside the house – both for good luck and decoration)for me. Of course rse I would have done one but the rain stopped me. 😉. Next year for sure .

2. Diwali cards: interestingly I seem to have got worse. Having gone from being the queen of cards. If you sneezed you’d get a card from me. I’ve lost my patience with Diwali cards. If you buy them from Clintons it’s like a furtive operation. Excuse me do you have anything at the back or behind the counter? And they had better be printed on gold parchment for that price. And why is it that India can create silk sarees with a multitude of sparkly,shiny,colourful embellishments and patterns, make gold jewellery in a wonderful array of intricate designs (if you’re that way inclined, me I’m more for the silver). But we/they can’t make decent cards, unless of course they are the wedding variety. Are we just not meant to send them – will a text do? Or how about something radical like a phone call? Hang on one more , a personal visit (don’t please be rolling your eyes. I know that many family and friends are living away- I’m just illustrating a point by exaggerating).

3. Lights : not particularly green you may say and you’d be right. Lights on . Then as darkness descends we’re all out putting candles on the windowsills and walls. And those that are more retro have the beautiful clay divas . Poor simple candles – long forgotten. Who has, like me spent ridiculous amount of time lighting and relighting divas/candles in Oct/Nov in England? What are the chances of them staying alight for more than a few minutes 🤔.

4. Puja (prayers):My way today was to go to the gurdwara (Sikh temple) early and experience some peace and do some seva (service). Then my attempt at doing the aarti both at my Bedford house and my parent’s house in Southall. It’s ok I have everything on my phone 🙏🏽. If this isn’t your thing just be at peace and be kind.

5. Buying of mithai & Giving of Mithai (Indian sweets): this is another interactive tradition that will involve queues at Ambala or Royal in Southall .Or Bala in Bedford. I mixed it up this year – Bedford sweets for Londoners and Southall sweets for Bedfordians. Always helping to broaden the experiences 😂. Unless you know what they like always go for the mixed box- but make sure there’s is some Badam Barfi and Gulab Jamun and Gajrela and laddoos (besan and boondi) .. see what I mean, mixed is best and now you know what I like too. The closer the people the bigger the box (not really !🙄).

6. Wearing something new: that’s like the simplest instruction !

7. Family and Friends: to give you juppis and puppis (hugs and kisses). To be able to share this special time. And don’t forget those that may not have anyone.

8. Fireworks (at all times follow the health and safety rules). – Don’t let off fireworks within residential areas – – Don’t let off fireworks by parked cars.- -Don’t allow industrial grade rockets to be let off by a teenagers. Forgot all of that. And note to self don’t park your car near the house. It was a “firework” fight between the roads. It was the longest display ever. Craning our necks and praying that there were no incidents! One wonders if they should actually be sold to joe public. My nephew found great joy in just playing with Snapits . What happened to the Catherine Wheel and The Fountain: just not big and brash enough for 2018! No need to contact Ealing Council just yet – we are good citizens that clear up our fireworks debris.

9. Food: The most important item is The Food… well I’m sure we won’t need to eat again till Christmas after today. My day started off with breakfast at the gurdwara which consisted of puris / kaale chane/ yoghurt/ laddoo/halwa . I admit I had to take the laddoo away . For lunch I had a samosa and the laddoo wrapped in my handbag! Dinner one in my mum’s house and Dinner two at our family friend’s house , across the road. Of course the gaps were filled with anything fried and sweet – anything else is just rejected.More food is left over than was eaten. All those storage dubbas (boxes) have come in handy.I think we’ll be eating this for days… Nom Nom. Thank goodness for work colleagues.

This is how the community built … in and out of each other’s houses , sharing food, good & bad times. Watching us kids grow and escape only wishing to be back in the homes full of memory treasures.

Southall Broadway was showing off in its full glory of noise , colour and light. The hustle bustle of locals and outsiders who come to get a fix of “India”. Stalls filled with all you need to make your Diwali tip top. Queues in the sweet shops. Jalebis being fried and being eaten – “garam garam” (hot and fresh). Lights from the decorations and the fireworks going off in all directions.Music blasting from cars, stalls, restaurants and we were adding to this on our road by having our normal street party. Come early otherwise you’ll get sucked into Southall traffic chaos and the inner Diwali peace and love may not last.

This year was unusual as no mummy and papa as they are in India. But in their place Simon experienced his first Southall Diwali. “You’re all the same… feeders”! And copes admirably with the “just one more small gulab jamun” routine 🙄. He’s also still not got the obligatory present 🤷🏽‍♀️.

Before I end …my most traumatic event over last 24 hours remains being called called aunty in Bala!!! 😂 it happened at roughly 2.00pm and the offender should have know better. He was bald and built like a brick house. I said did you just call me aunty!!!😡 He was taken aback and apologised. Said he was going to say sister and just wanted to be respectful 🤦🏽‍♀️. I said Happy Diwali and moved on with my life.

Saal Mubarak (Happy New Year) to you all . Whatever you have hoped for this coming year I hope you get it and more.

I delight in the drama of life …..that’s what my affirmation card said today. How well they know me …

🙏🏽

Seema

( don’t worry it will be Christmas shortly)

Fun Friday and Super Saturday 💃

What a weekend and it’s only Sunday morning (I may just be getting too old for these shenanigans or masti🤷🏽‍♀️. But my FOMO won’t let it stop). And anyway I still need to use up all these Indian outfits and not forgetting the wardrobe full of long black dresses and some short ones .

Bedford is such a happening town these days !! We are so lucky to live here. There are diverse communities who just get on with their lives. There are further sub groups within these groups – how are you meant to keep up. The trick is to remember we are all just human beings. Simples.💕The borough has a great Mayor (David Hodgson) and Bedford has a hard working MP (Mohammad Yasin). The latter is bit like the Scarlet Pimpernel- but in his case we do actually find him everywhere.

We have good health and roofs over our heads. And most of us lead a reasonably charmed life and we know that. I’ve seen some of you at Waitrose 👀 (local gossip – Lidl are opening next to Waitrose- how pissed off must they be?!?! )And our wonderful FB posts from all corners of the world. However there are many who are not so lucky and need our help. It’s what makes us human .. the ability to help others and following through with action. That ACTION can be a 10p contribution in a rattling collection tin, a monthly donation, your time , a donor card and the list goes on… Here ends the sermon on this Sunday morning. Have another ☕️ but I’m hoping you’re smiling and not rolling your eyes.

So this blog is about two events. One on Friday evening and the other on Saturday and my silly Saturday day !😂Let me tell you what went down and how yours truly survived.

The SMART Prebend Jazz Ball

Our lovely friend Chantal Thomas (Book Club Chantal ) is one of the trustees for the Prebend Day Centre in Bedford. They help the homeless (365 days of the year)with food , clothes , support and basics such as facilities to shower. To feel normal. We can’t judge anybody- we haven’t lived their lives. We have to just accept their “now” and help. The centre held a Jazz Ball at Sharnbrook Hotel on Friday night. Love the naming of these events – if we call it a dinner and dance, we can add £5 to ticket and £10 if we call it a ball. Fantastic marketing 👍🏽.

What to wear – not Indian (that’s for Saturday).Black dress. One that fits. One that has easy underwear options – you all know what I mean. Those VPL issues, do you dare go commando 😱, clear bra straps , strapless bras – it’s just pants!! Heels that you can dance in and work with the dress 🙄. Accessories that convey the look you are trying for – elegant I think today!!

So get to event having picked up Susan and Nitasha . My driver (Simon) was somewhat delayed by our not so close or good friend the M25. The dress code memo was obviously lost in translation.I’m in a long sexy black dress (let me believe it), Susan is in evening trousers and blouse. Nitasha is in her antique flapper dress and has a feather headband in her hair! She looks every inch a 20’s star. Poonam has also seen the same memo as me and was sporting a sexy long black shimmery dress. Chantal having only just got back from South Africa was in a short purple number but with ankle boots – it worked! This is know as comfort. It was a wonderful fun evening where all the men and ladies tried on the feather headdresses – we have photos. Roz packed up the extra meat for the dogs and then went onto to win a personal training session in the raffle. As with all charity events the auction then started. I bid for a salon appointment and got it – it’s for charity but I need all the help I can get. But us girls had our beady eyes on a villa in Paxos. Quick negotiation as to what would be the limit so we didn’t get too excited .. can you imagine trying to explain that to organisers “no we didn’t mean to bid £5000. We got the 000 wrong”. We got it. Another holiday for 2019? Poor Roz she’s going to have to spend time with a Vegetarian and Vegan!! The rest of the book club will be in an adjoining villa we hope 📚.

The evening was supported by the Mayor and Chief Sheriff . The Prebend Team were a high energy bunch and had pulled off their first ball with great success.

———————————————————

My Saturday of grrrrrrs

I am very proud to announce that I made it to the gym for a 9am Body Combat class. I am too discreet (😉) to say who I was kicking and punching. And Ofcourse I had smashed avo on toast for breakfast. I may even have had cracked black pepper. And there ends the smooth Saturday

1. Take shoes for resoling to Timpsons . Machine out of order.

2. We go to currency’s booth to get some Yen for Simon. None available. Looks like only he’s the only one going to Japan from Bedford. I didn’t roll my eyes at my husband!!

3. Go to Bubbly’s to pick up my outfits for the evening. Not ready. Need to come back . 🤦🏽‍♀️

4. Go to Waitrose to collect some makeup. Love the click and collect service. Order not recognised. Madam could you recheck your email. Ground swallow me up now ! Yours truly has sent it to John Lewis at St Pancras. Apologies all round – from me only and I retreat.

5. I go back to Bubbly’s and finally collect my outfit. Thanks Vinita for the authentic Baroda ghagra.

Simon comments what a lovely drive around Bedford we’ve had.😡

——————————————————

BIC (Bedford Indian Community)DIWALI EVENT @ BUNYAN SPORTS CENTRE

Bedford Indian Community = everyone from North to South ; East to West (of Bedford – what did you think I meant?)

The first part of the evening was being the

DKMS pouncer – official role now! Poonam and Bali had been the proverbial Germans (stereotyping) and got the DKMS tables by the entrance. My job is to get anyone between 17-55years of age to come and join the stem cell register. This as you can image can be a bit tricky sometimes. One doesn’t want to offend.The huge number of volunteers do the hard work of form filling and swabbing and explaining the whole process. Yesterday we had Sharon, Nicky, Dips, Vrinda, Swarupa, Manasi and Arundithi and not forgetting our youngest volunteer Ira.

So yesterday’s guests were great and smiled once they knew I wasn’t selling anything and on the whole were very generous. I did have a few that looked horrified when I mentioned ‘blood’. No seriously I am not going to turn vampire and suck it out of you now. I had to push away the auntijis -no you’re too old. I was happy to try and recruit the firemen😜. Swarupa the things I do for you !! One lady had actually looked after Anthony Nolan and was so happy to see us there. This was my highlight. We were delighted with the response from the youngsters who wanted to register -parents be proud.

The next part of the evening was to become a guest, a Bandhan Babe pushing our NYE party, a Ghoomar girl with my fellow dancers. And enjoy some of the entertainment and food that has been laid on by the BIC team.

So changed from normal clothes (not so normal really – black Indian suit) dance outfit in one of the studios upstairs with Poonam and Swarupa with Ripal’s help. Will we never escape from safety pins and hairpins!!!! No one would recognise us now for sure. We look so Indian.It was so sweet to be called “pretty”. We will take that!

Noreen Khan did a great job hosting – it takes great skill to keep fresh when announcing sooooooo many raffle prizes consisting of Celebrations chocolate tubs. 😂Dancers of differing genres and ages, similarly singers did a great job in keeping the large crowd entertained all evening. Stand outs have to be Parvati’s girls, Ladies in red with Satyam Shivam Sunderam (could hear you Apana from the back – just beautiful) and young Saloni. Not only beautiful and sassy but a fabulous singer.

But of course the main events were the Bandhan Dance Groups. I know where my loyalty lies So many husbands appeared to support us ; in charge of cameras in the front row. We are spoilt for videos!

⁃ The Giddha Girls: strutting your stuff and getting the crowd going. The expressions from you all were perfect.

⁃ The Bengali Babes- effortlessly elegant. I want to be one. You pulled it off with great aplomb.

⁃ The Ghoomar Girls: twirling and swirling and managing to smile all the way through. A special mention to Mayaji; although the oldest member of the group she rocks the accessories far better then the rest of us. Always committed.

You’re never too old for anything or learning something new and the above demonstrates that perfectly.

It was wonderful to see so many new friends again and meet children, husbands and other family members of Bandhan ladies. We are not a cult honestly but beware we are a bit funny and addictive. The BABA boys were in town too and it was good to see them. Family and friends meeting and greeting each other in the run upto Diwali. Just perfect.

The food stalls were yummy! I came away with takeout of both South (Idli, Vadha and Sambhar and North Indian (chole bhaturas) food . No I don’t discriminate. I love all Indian food. What better way to spend Saturday night – takeout and Indian Idol. So it’s out there I watch Indian Idol. 😉

Thanks to Ramprasad, Sudesh and the rest of the team for a well organised free community event. Thankyou again to the Mayor, Chief Sheriff and our MP for supporting it. Thanks BIC for giving both DKMS and Bandhan space and time.

🙏🏽

Seema

Bye for now !

Onto the next events .Whatever type of diary you use please book these dates out .

💕NYE at Park Inn hosted by Bandhan Bedford

💕March 1st Empire Bedford hosted by DKMS Bedford Hub