I think I may have too many shoes ? 👢👡👠🥿👟🥾

To be clear from the off, by shoes I am obviously referring to the whole family of footwear. No discrimination here.

You may be wondering “what makes you think you have too many shoes Seema?And how many constitute as too many?” I think I always knew but in the spirit of New Year openness and cleansing I am willing to put it in writing. I am actually too embarrassed and lazy to count them. All I know is that I have three crates in the under-stairs cupboard, stacks in the spare bedroom wardrobe and a big bag in the boot🤦🏽‍♀️. My cardrobe was always fully equipped.

I’m a 5/5.5 in shoe size (38/38.5 in European sizing … wonder if they’ll stop putting that on after Brexit) so bloody average. Never have a problem buying shoes. But I can’t blame the easy availability of stock for them ending up in my house. I wonder if my job at Lilley & Skinner (that was a high street shoe store chain many many years ago) in my teens is responsible! I don’t buy online … need the drama of trying on. And loving the new headset worn by store staff – I would have added a clipboard too if it was in my control.

Seriously I only have

⁃ Boots : ankle, knee length, flats,heeled, black, grey and tan.And those blue suede thigh length ones that were a bargain buy from TK Maxx. There were some red knee length FM boots(if you know you know)once upon a time. And don’t forget I do have some walking boots 🥾 which migrate between the house and shed. But why is it that every year I want flat black boots? I think it’s just the ritual of saying it.

⁃ Flats: all shapes and colours because every Spring I am heard to say “really need some comfy flats for this year”.

⁃ Casual or smart: well everything to take me from morning to work to an evening out 👍🏽

⁃ Trainers : indoor and outdoor (gosh I sound super sporty). I have but 3 pairs but for years I had one whereas the hubby had crate fulls.

⁃ Wellies: hmmm when did I use them last ??

⁃ Slippers : yes they were a Christmas pressie but they are super cosy during these winter months. Wear your gift people and don’t regift these beauties.

⁃ Flip flops : who doesn’t love a flip flop. Even the trendy Havanas have made it here.

⁃ Wedges and sandals : goodness let’s skip this one otherwise we will lose the will.

⁃ Indian box- the chappals (leather or plastic flats) and shiny party sandals. I know all Indian women will have this category covered.

I do look after my things and am still wearing shoes from 8 years ago!!

I’ve been known to buy two colours if I find a comfy pair. I’ve also bought the same shoes if they are super comfy😉. I went through a phase of buying those individual clear shoe boxes – that was not only going to make the storage neater but I was going to be able to see at a glance all my options. Great in theory but I would have needed a separate room to store all that air! I gave up on it and have the boxes hiding from me behind some dresses and coats. In the original days of Polaroid I tried attaching a photo of the shoes to box – let’s just say this lasted all of 1 attempt. I should really stop reading magazine articles about storage solutions!!! The rule now is if they are expensive the box stays. Simple.

It’s always been about comfort over fashion – stupidly wide feet decide that. I am in awe of those women who can wear those pointy shoes with high heels. No.. it’s not because I’m in my 50s. I never could. They make it look so easy and classy. Heels supposedly elongate your foot/ankle and make you look sexier (that’s what I heard many years ago). I personally can’t see what’s sexy about someone walking pigeon steps or teetering most of the time. I do have a collection heels that rarely come out. But I normally carry a spare flatter pair if bag allows 😉👠🥿. And if all else fails just take them off and walk barefoot until a taxi passes by.

I did try and de-clutter recently and I got rid of one pair of orange patent sandals 🤷🏽‍♀️ – What were they for ?? Very poor cost:wear ratio I’m sure. I am certain I don’t have an addiction!! Or affliction. Let’s see if I can get through 2019 without buying any new footwear 🤔. Having no job will certainly focus my mind. So if you see me fawning over some tan sandals similar to several pairs already in my collection I give you full permission ( and so does hubby) to drag me away and make an example of me.

Actually on reflection, I MAY have too much of many things in this life. Don’t worry I’m not going to bore you – not today anyway.

Now to get ready for tonight’s dinner. What shoes to wear?Do any of them work with this dress?????? I know what will happen. I will try several pairs and then parade in front of hubby and say which one as I walk with a left and right of different styles. He’ll no doubt say “they both look great”. I’ll put them away carefully and then either the comfy black boots or flat tan ankle boots will emerge for the night.🤦🏽‍♀️

🙏🏽

Seema

What’s weight got to do with it? And how life got in the way of a perfect body.

It turns out quite a lot. I have spent most of my adult life worrying about, discussing or contemplating my weight and my body shape. And if not mine I have been involved in conversations with family and friends about their weight!! And have probably commented about others’ weights without their knowledge and read countless articles and watched numerous tv shows all connected to weight/diets.

Health Warning: for those that know me you know that I have several food rules ;

⁃ I would rather eat my calories than drink them.

⁃ There’s always room for chips, mangoes and puddings.

⁃ You can’t leave my house without eating.

⁃ I need something sweet after a meal. I blame my dad !!

oMy whole life revolves around food. I am not a health guru so please do not follow any of my advice!! And certainly feel free to roll your eyes and if you have to “tut”, please do remember we are all god’s children. But I’m not getting into the religion discussion here …

So being born into an Indian family was never going to be great start when it comes to watching your weight. It’s like starting with a really poor golf handicap!! Throw into that a mum who was one of the best cooks around. The house was never short of

⁃ aloo and mooli parathas,

⁃ aloo and puris,

⁃ pakoras,

⁃ chaat on special days,

⁃ home made kulfi ,

⁃ kheer

⁃ dosas when she had time

⁃ Mithai (Indian sweets); very partial to jalebis, gujrela and rasmalai (if you know you know).

Let alone the day to day roti and subji. We rarely ate non-Indian food. Why would you as a vegetarian? I think the first foray for us out of home was Pizza Hut, and yes the extra chillies were requested.

How cruel that as a result of my upbringing I am afflicted with a love of samosas -carbs wrapped in carbs, deep fried and served with imli (tamarind) chutney made with kilos of sugar!! I won’t even go into the world of chaat ( Street foods) that just oooze calories. Don’t please write in and tell me about the lower calorie oven baked option samosas that involve filo pastry. I promise to try these one day !!

I then learnt in recent years that mangoes are one of the highest sugar content buggers around 🤦🏽‍♀️. Someone up there surely has it in for me. So what difference has this information made to you Seema you may be wondering: none whatsoever. We’re talking about mangoes.💕💕

I always did sport at school- tennis/hockey/netball/volleyball and the obligatory country dancing!! So remaining active must have burnt all the calories I was taking in.I recall even during sixth form going through a phase of logging what I ate. I was hardly big, whatever that means, and even started running before school(for a very short time). So what was the issue at that age I wonder🤷🏽‍♀️.

I look at the photos post graduation from my 20s and realise that I often wore clothes that were too big for me. I was also totally addicted to step aerobics and spraining my ankles.

In my 30s I had Aarti and for a while lost my way . Until when she was about 2/3 a so called male friend asked whether I was pregnant. Total head fuck! (Excuse the bad language). Ok we’re now signed upto to do the moonwalk. I recall doing it with a gang of girls from Cole & Mason but Debbie Acquaye and I were the only two signed up for the full marathon. Is there something we don’t know? I was probably at my fittest during this period. I recall my knees crying with pain during the last two miles but we made it.

Aarti used to poke my tummy and announce with great pleasure “mummy your tummy is like play dough”. Do you have to like your children? 🙄. I started Tae Kwon Do with her and trained and graded for years. Art got her black belt but I fell behind because of injuries!! And never went back. Oh I miss those hours of training 😐.

In my 40s I think I was fit too. I had discovered running with Simon. I was determined to be in shape. I had my first frozen shoulder and operation. I remember crying when I was unable to run due to the excruciating pain.

In my 50s I’ve discovered yoga. I also had my second frozen shoulder but the yoga helped to give me strength back sooner than before. I just need to be a master of my time so yoga becomes part of my day. I have realised that I need more focus.

So clever dressing is a great trick but that won’t make you healthy. I wear bikinis but ensure I am thousands of miles away from anyone who knows me. And probably like most women have a selection of sizes in my wardrobe. I also know that when I’m down about my weight I avoid clothes shopping and have targeted shoes, bags and jewellery. That explains an awful lot.

All through my work life I can confidently state that weight was one of the main topics of conversations

⁃ diets of the day

⁃ Gurus of the day

⁃ Fashions that we love or not ; those that flatter not( remember leggings coming in and low waist jeans 😂

⁃ Ponchos – what to make me really look pregnant?

⁃ Crop tops – thank the Lord I have always been too old for this.

The rule is simply to do what you can and if you want something you have to push yourself..right? And how you feel is your right whatever size and shape you happen to be. No amount of lecturing will make you do what you are not ready to tackle.

I’ve been on very few diets – one was during the run up-to my wedding with Mr G. I did two months of no carbs. And the week before the wedding I ate a whole bag of samosas. I also did the Carol Vorderman detox once. It was quite easy as I was already a non smoking, non coffee drinking, vegetarian who rarely drank alcohol. Blimey I sound great fun 😂. Both these plans worked for me. The only other food related thing I have done is controlling my portions occasionally, which again is difficult with Indian food – dishes just fill the table and are never ending. I feel that I may be sounding just pure greedy now.

My exercise regime has been a total rollercoaster over the years. From nothing to total addict…and somewhere sensible in between. But I have noticed that age has been the greatest enemy to me. My two frozen shoulders and subsequent operations made me realise how important exercise was to me.

Enjoy those samosas, chips, mangoes and puddings but in moderation. God I sound like one of those gurus 🤦🏽‍♀️. I, who have no self restraint when it comes to food wish you well.

Whatever you decide … stay healthy! The more you exercise the more samosas you can eat or doesn’t it work like that? For years I thought my good eats would counteract my bad eats. 👍🏽 … wishful thinking 🤔

🙏🏽

Seema

Christmas Tree Tales 🎄

So I left you last time saying I’d report back on how it all went.

Getting the house decked out was top priority; well in my head it was.So off we went on Saturday 8th December 2018 to get the trees. We got to the Stagsden Christmas Shop at 9am for tree selection duty only to notice that there was little stock about – what’s going on? Apparently people have been super keen and had started buying in November. Come on people! This is crazy, surely! Let’s agree not to talk Christmas until December 1st . We all need to know the rules of engagement. Anyway, I digress. Two trees are chosen within a few minutes- I can see more cars coming into the car park!! It pays to be early. And the kind people would deliver on Monday. Done ✅ Ofcourse we got some holly and mistletoe too.

Remember I become a magpie and have to have anything that is sparkly, shiny and glistens. So we then move onto Fleurette to buy a wreath. FFS they only have 2 left and they have to make one up for me and would be ready for Monday. Perfect planning: trees and wreath arriving together. What’s going on I ask? People have been super keen this year and we started selling Christmas things early. “Can I have a gold bow on the wreath please”? I ask. The young lady apologises and says calmly “we’ve run out of gold ribbon!!” I think, don’t be ridiculous .. it’s Christmas. Gold is one of the foundation materials – how can you possibly run out before Christmas Eve! Trauma is averted with use of silver bronze rosy gold number . Judge for yourself – it would have been better in gold.

Move swiftly onto Monday 10th December and two kind gentlemen not only deliver both trees but also place them in their respective holders. What a result for the hubby! Another job ticked off the list. The gentlemen refuse my generous offer of tea and mince pies – they have other customers that they need to make happy! 🎄🎄

So Miss Planning and Prep has the decorations all ready to do the smaller tree but the bigger tree would have to stay naked for the week!😂. But I decide that I can move it slightly as they have left it too close to the window. 10ft +tree falling on me alert. I dance and wonder what will break as it falls on me. I somehow manage to keep it from falling and as I move without any real idea of what I’m doing I hear a crack. Dread fills me and think how will I explain this … luckily the crack I’ve heard is the holder locking and the tree is stuck at an angle. It has neither fallen towards the piano or the sideboard.Whoever said I was clumsy can add this to the list. So I let go gingerly and step back and view the scene. I report the incident to hubbyquarters and visualise him rolling his eyes. I leave the the sad tree and go and spend time with the normal one in the lounge. I decorate it – silver and purple. All good. Take a photo and send to the fam. I then leave the house for a few days.

Both hubby and I return late on 15/12. Both are resolved to deal with the felled tree first thing on Saturday morning. After numerous attempts we know that this tree needs to be chopped at the bottom … they’ve sharpened it like a pencil and the poor holder can’t grab it however hard it tries 😂.

Can we find a saw? Ofcourse not !! Off he goes to buy another one. I think he is feeling quite macho as he saws away and shouts when he catches me filming him “is nothing sacred”! The Tree is finally in and looking fabulous.

The house becomes more Christmas like as the days go on. And then we have the second tree drama —2018 what is going on?? The smaller tree obviously feeling neglected decides to throw a tantrum and starts shedding its needles. At this rate there will be no second tree. What to do ?? “Hello, I’m really sorry to call you and I know it’s a strange thing to say. And for the 2nd year running….”. The lovely gentlemen came and replaced the sick tree. It happens occasionally.🤷🏽‍♀️

The house was used and abused.

Lots of comings and goings and that is what it is for afterall. We had a busy but bountiful and loving festive period. We won’t mention the silly cough cold flu thing that’s become my close friend.

There may be some glitter about but I will embrace it.

The day to pack up arrives and as I lie in bed I can hear him downstairs wrestling with the trees. If I dawdle a little more than normal the job will be done. He does have 3 trees to tackle. I find the packing away tiresome this year and have not been organised. I am sure that will cause angst in December.

But to more important things , Easter is April 19th! And I know from social media that Easter Trees are now a thing …. 😉

🙏🏽

Seema

NYE Party by BANDHAN BEDFORD

Planning done (that’s for another blog I’m working on 😂).I thought i’d share my observations of the event that we organised. Too many names to mention all but it was great to see everyone and meet new friends! No really it was 😉. And by now you know how obsessed I am with lists so I’ve done it chronologically -why wouldn’t you ?

11.30 Hair in curlers.

15:00 Henna on right hand – why not. It will make me sit still for an hour. And it’s a novelty for my American friend.

16:00What to wear yaar?

Lengha, sari or a cocktail dress.

Let’s go sari- Black net with lots of gold and red embellishments on palla -worn Gujarathi style to hide the belly!👍🏽. Poor things are either left hanging in the cupboard or stuffed in a suitcase for months. Let’s have a sari amnesty during 2019??It’s on, just about and in the rush I forget my bindi but not my spare comfy sandals (planning and prep ladies).Looking like a poodle with the curls now the pins are out. Oh well !!

17:15 Arrive to find there’s a party to be had. Mindi and his NRI crew are blasting the music and the catering team are in full swing of setting up. The Park Inn have done us proud.

17:30 The event planning team are all looking glam – Suman in electric blue sari, Sati in her silk pattered number, Deepali was the lady in red,Manasi in shimmery black, Parvati in her sharara and Preethi looking classy with her hair up in 60s stylie. Don’t worry we did have the obligatory visit to the ladies’ toilets with pins to adjust various saris – Suman’s and mine!!Ive said it before no Indian function is complete without it.

18:20 Welcome everybody – no we don’t have a red carpet !! How much can we give for £35!! Jeez what the hell has happened- all these guests are turning up early (Tejal!!) or on time. Don’t they know it’s an Indian function Luckily we are ready for them with the welcome drink of bubbles and for the teetotallers there is Shloer. Hmm there would be if I hadn’t left it in the boot of my 🚙. Emergency phone call to base – “bring Shloer now, over and out”.Holding measures agreed with caterer- orange juice quick ! And relax. Think we should have had clipboards? Cash was exchanged for last minute guests (they owe you Aparna 😉).

Hello .. welcome … please do help yourself to a drink, check your table plan (I insist you look at it and admire it – all those hours of-cutting and pasting need to be acknowledged 😂. I now recall how crap Prit Stick is- bring in the heavy duty glue ladies !) and move through. Thankyou.

Hello … no I don’t have you on our list. I understand there are other parties within the hotel tonight🤦🏽‍♀️

Hello .. no sorry sir I don’t have you on our list. In understand there are other parties within the hotel tonight. 🤦🏽‍♀️🤦🏽‍♀️

Hello.. no sorry think you’re at the wrong party. This is an Indian event. 5 minutes pass and Mrs Ramona Rodenas returns and I let her in as she is in fact at the right party 🙏🏽🤷🏽‍♀️ because she’s booked “one with Indian food”. Apologies accepted and I remember they booked through me 😂. The cutest granddad checking when dinner would be served as he has to leave early.

And Devinder Gabri arrives looking fabulous with her hubby … yes he has a camera. Our saviour for the evening. All the auntijis arrive in style. The unclejis have scrubbed up pretty well too. Must give a special shout out to Mayaji and Shabana who are always supportive.

Everyone is looking fabulous darling – saris, suits, dresses, jumpsuits and the men looked ok too. The volume of hairspray is tangible so watch those naked flames. Thank goodness for the no smoking policy.

The children are here. No, I don’t think you can have the bubbles how about some orange juice? Phew -a near incident with licensing laws. 🤫

19:30 We have a schedule… yes we do!

Suman and I get the party started. We welcome our guests, Mr Yasin, our MP and the BABA boys with their more important halves.We have a room full of elders,adults, teenagers, young kids, under 5s, Indians, non-Indians. dancers. Wannabe dancers , vegetarians, gluten free, vegans, don’t do spice 😂, drinkers, teetotallers and so many more.

Infact people had come from all over England (Leicester, Birmingham, Cheshire, Oxford..)and some as far off as San Francisco because they’d heard there was a party in town. The government has even sent the local MP to keep a close eye on the shenanigans.

19:45 Mindi – the crooner. Sing whilst we eat our starters we’d said, something gentle whilst we eat we’d agreed. Well that didn’t go to plan! Who could resist dancing to the lovely Hindi songs. My partners on the dance floor- Parvati, Manasi,Nicky,Monica and Arun. My hubby commented … “does everyone know the words to every Hindu Bollywood song “? Obviously 🙄.

20:15 Performances to entertain the crowd

⁃ Shreya first with her Bollywood numbers, jhatkas and matkas deserved a waah waah.She’s no Leila! She more … (if you know you know)

⁃ The dance group from Milton Keynes were just awesome. We thought the lead man would dislocate something with all frenetic moves.Their kaale chashme (Black glasses)were cool 😎!! Rashmi Diwadkar you guys were great.

⁃ And the ever classic Jitendra was doing fine . Then some woman insisted on joining him and not only singing but playing a giant rattle?!?

The flash mob just turned into a dance off between the guys and girls! Proper wedding style behaviour.

21:30 to midnight

Just a period of eating and dancing. What DJ wouldn’t want a crowd like this. Jumping from Hindi Bollywood numbers to Bhangra to a bit of pop. I have videos people – just remember this!I think I even saw Abhay,Deepali,Vinita and Sanjeev keeping up with the youngsters.

Think we needed a bigger dance floor so Gigi and her sister don’t have to dance on the carpet and Simon Grantham & Phil Naylor can really show their grooves – and not just the lightbulb and door knob moves! All the help from Sujatha on the dance floor was welcome. I looked around the room at one point to see family photos being taken by Sati’s clan – nearly half the room!😂. Others used the photo booth area set up which looked like a Princess’s throne – pretty and pink (in this new PC world – I would like to say it could be a throne for anyone).

22:30 Raffle

Manasi and Deepali carried this off with aplomb after Deepali and crew had sold tickets all evening. Happy winners were caught on camera.

Food glorious food

The catering staff led by Dal; small in stature but big in impact . A chair here , a chair there, a place setting somewhere else, more rice , more naans, more this, more that …. smiles all round and nothing was too much trouble. But Suman has briefed them well. If only I had a wedding party to book. There’s not even a special birthday in sight. 🤷🏽‍♀️

And let’s not forget the sweet table organised by Sati – enjoyed by both the kids and the adults. Am sure her dentist daughter did not approve.

Childminder Raksha

Where did the children go?? Oh yes that rooom we asked for – far as possible 🤫😉. So all the mums and dads could party.

Time to say goodbye

The security guard strolls in at 1am. Time to stop the revelry.The catering team are doing selfies, not without me they don’t !😉The DJs seem to be starting a private party…

I leave with my feet intact and a car full of dress-up materials, booze not drunk, stationery, boards, disposable cups and other random bits. I note that other members of the team and their families have quietly cleared up everything else.

See you next time (Parvati you may have been first on the dance BUT I was the last, did someone say I was competitive?)

🙏🏽

Seema

BULLSHIT BINGO

As I approach my last day of being employed I think of all the things I could share. As it’s the holiday season let’s have some fun and let’s play bullshit bingo – sorry some of you may be living through this 😂😂 still – poor you. And those of you who have never partaken, what have you been doing during those long presentations!!The serious stuff can wait for a bit.

Many years ago I suddenly felt that my vocabulary needed some bolstering. I can’t quite remember what led me to this point (English is my second language don’t you know) but I recall being quite vocal on the subject … out came more books, The Times was purchased more frequently and beloved gave me a Thesaurus. I was all set to be a mini intellectual.

Imagine my surprise then at the randomness of some other words and phrases that started appearing at work. If you are responsible for any of these, shame on you (but Thankyou too, as you’ve given us all hours of fun).

🤷🏽‍♀️Deep dive: Does it look like I’ve got a diving suit on? I’m not confident under water !!! Am I not on dry land? Am I going hunting for treasure in the ocean?What do you actually mean … oh you mean study the subject in more “depth”. Yes of course I will before submitting my recommendation. Why didn’t you just say ??

🤷🏽‍♀️Dial up: Who are we calling? What are we calling them about ?Are you using an old school phone analogy! Have you forgotten we are all about the touch screen and swiping.

🤷🏽‍♀️Team dynamics: Are you asking as a HR official? What do you mean that we really shouldn’t be shouting at each other – that’s not normal then ? Yes they are like my second dysfunctional family – the dynamics are just perfect. We do make tea for each other – hang on I don’t let anyone make my tea. And we are doing Secret Santa -all good.

🤷🏽‍♀️Circle back : No it’s not some new dance step. Are you asking me to recheck something ?

🤷🏽‍♀️Regroup: We are not going into war! Let’s work together to get that business-it’s good to check. Perhaps we can regroup and circle back ? Don’t get dizzy and stay focused.

🤷🏽‍♀️New newness: Show me your “new newness” not old newness you see just new newness. I had this asked of me by a buyer. I should have evaluated my options then !🤔

🤷🏽‍♀️Soft launch:Hmmm …is this soft because there’s no budget I wonder or we haven’t ordered enough stock. Just selling stuff subtly…

🤷🏽‍♀️Outside the box : I’m not in a box. How can I think outside it when I’m not in it. Do you mean outside the room ? Or outside my normal head. Grrrrrr…. stop pigeon holing me into a box.

🤷🏽‍♀️Same page: Ok.. I’m ready for this one. Same page as what, which book, which paper? Again we’re all digital guys. Same screen? Perhaps I’m not on the same page because I’m still trying to get outside the box. Join you shortly.

🤷🏽‍♀️Traction: One of my favourites. No we are not in a hospital. We are just going to get some momentum on this thing we’re working on ! Right ? Hopefully not on the soft launch otherwise it wouldn’t be soft anymore.

🤷🏽‍♀️blue sky thinking: not grey sky because that might be dull and non creative ? Blue – bright blue with some fluffy clouds! This is where you get once you’ve left the 📦!

🤷🏽‍♀️Light bulb moment : hope it’s not one of those new tangled energy saving type. Your moment could be slightly delayed.

🤷🏽‍♀️Curated range: a range by definition would have had to be selected and therefore curated. If shops weren’t curated they’d need elastic shelves ( no dear buyer I know there is no such thing).

🤷🏽‍♀️Locked and loaded : Just too aggressive for my liking ! Think this lot are ready for action.

🤷🏽‍♀️At the end of the day. At the end of the day it will be dark, time to go home, it’s not life or death?

🤷🏽‍♀️Reaching out:Thank you to our American friends and one particular online retailer for reaching out to us !!! Don’t reach out all the time – feels like a constant failing attempt. I’m reaching out for you but never touching you ( sorry pc friends- getting through).

🤷🏽‍♀️Tone of voice. So you mean I need to write as I speak. Doesn’t bode well for me. Ok you mean I need to be serious on grave matters and not frivolous. Got it matey !

🤷🏽‍♀️Due diligence: Some of you may have spotted the fact that this is a legalise term. So let it stay there. If you’ve deep dived and circled back and double checked and triple checked, diligence can stay in the bloody box. Did I get the right tone there ?

I am quite sure that you all have many more gems hidden away. Feel free to share.

I wish you and your loved ones an awesome holiday season and hope that you all reach out to each other and deep dive into each emotion. Ensure there is traction to your generosity.

At the end of the day it’s Christmas so you don’t have to think outside the box to get aligned for this festive season.

I’m sure we’ll meet again before the year is out.

🙏🏽

Seema 🎄😉🤷🏽‍♀️

THE ACCIDENTAL CARERS💕

⚠️Warning: I may get emotional but will cover it up with my silliness. I want to tell you about my parents and also just catalogue the events of the last eighteen months briefly. I’ve been warned about length of my blogs .. I write as I talk..too much. Papa and Mummy are in India (you’ll recall that 4 day trip to India 😂). I may just be missing them a little 😟.

So it took my mum nearly dying for us to show each other how much we love each other.We had never been a huggy family and love was demonstrated through actions and food and rarely through words. This has followed me through life too… feeding people anytime anyplace.Known as a Feeder. I will do anything to help if I can and that’s always been a constant but I may not tell you that I love you.

So , just before Easter 2017 mum (Shashi Bala Sharma – born 1946)had a fall. My dad (Rameshwar Prasad Sharma- born 1936) was unable to lift her. I mention their birth years to highlight their 10 year age gap. If you have ever seen them you’ll understand why papa couldn’t lift mum.So he summoned the ambulance and off she went to Ealing Hospital. Just to give you a little more context here – mum has had three minor strokes and a double heart bypass. Yours truly was holidaying in Oman at the time – that’s what Easter had become for us.Papa in his normal way didn’t actually tell me – he didn’t want to spoil our holiday. And then when we did find out he convinced me that she was in the best place or so we thought.

Note to self:don’t end up in hospital over holiday season. Mum was left to deteriorate and finally after Easter a scan showed that she had a gallbladder infection – sepsis (which had caused the initial fall). We walked into a ‘Casualty’ style scene as they were rushing to drain the infection. This led to her being admitted to ICU where she remained for 67 days. Each day bought its own level of hell. For papa , me and other family members. I came to know some amazing nurses and consultants and some who should frankly rethink career choice. 🙄. Each week bought an added complication and my memory of that period is

⁃ Being obsessed (but not as much as papa) by all the monitors and data and commenting as if we knew what it meant. A little like me being an expert at all sports during the olympics 👊🏾

⁃ playing religious songs on my phone: all help is needed in such situations

⁃ doing shifts with papa.

⁃ moisturising mum’s feet

⁃ combing her hair

⁃ forever washing my hands

⁃ being amazed at the 24/7 care by nurses who were in the same room as mum.

⁃ her being fed through a drip – man that can’t have been tasty? Sure she would have had something to say about that.

⁃ All those parking payments 🤦🏽‍♀️! Which could have been avoided by getting a permit. Well kept secret !!

⁃ being happy when she moved her fingers finally

⁃ hearing her make a sound when they did the tracheotomy

⁃ bemused at the thought of a physio spending time with mum.

⁃ Being taken to a room with Aarti and being told to prepare for the worst.

⁃ spending more time with my dad than ever before

⁃ astounded by my dad’s strength and energy and commitment to mum

⁃ being reprimanded for crying by my dad. So never did it again in his presence.

⁃ Repeating repeating repeating the whole thing to every new doctor/nurse that entered our story

⁃ our kind generous neighbours in Southall feeding us for 6 months. How was that even possible?

⁃ The most wonderful consultants who did not give up on her.

⁃ The number of personnel it takes to run a ward

⁃ The amount that is outsourced by the NHS

I can’t really talk about the next few weeks . But in summary she was finally discharged to the wards. If I talk about it I will be negative and I don’t want to be that person. We thought she was suffering from delirium and that was a source of huge entertainment (not at the time). She thought at one point she was a prisoner. Another day she was so cross with me because she wanted new shoes and why wasn’t I getting them. The shop is just there!! Calling out to strangers, shouting, being rude and it goes on. I had gone past the stage of being embarrassed unlike my father. And the consultant who was honest and set us up for this being the new world. We celebrated her 71st birthday on the wards and she insisted every nurse had cake – the feeder never goes away!💕And for once we got a chance to feed her during those days. Another note to self – don’t end up in hospital unless you have loved ones to feed you and have your back. So quick to take your bed.😟

We managed to get her to a rehabilitation (I covered days in a few words here) unit in Southall (room numbers 8 & 10). God love the team here. They taught mum to take steps again with a frame. Not an easy task when you are difficult and un cooperative – simply because she didn’t actually know they were trying to help. They even had Indian food for her. But she didn’t like these people that she was visiting, “they’re not friendly”. And then she was going to report me and my dad to the police for keeping her prisoner. They finally chucked her out after another little hospital visit in between. A&E visits during early hours of the morning – not an experience I wish to repeat.

The days at the rehab unit became the new normal and visits could be happy or challenging . It was just pot luck. Some thought I was hairdresser as it was my go to task for mum. She loved her feet being massaged too. Not your normal spa break sort of place though. The carers are a different breed aren’t they; ooze patience and love and take people who are not their parents/children to the loo! I know that may seem petty but let me tell you it’s a big deal for all concerned.

Leela (Hungarian carer who actually left because of Brexit – sorry I’ve managed to avoid the B word till now)and mum became friends. She genuinely loved mum and could calm her down and knew what she meant even when I didn’t get it. I watched others being visited and each family having their little routines. But I also was saddened by some who had no visitors ; thank goodness most of them didn’t realise. My abiding memory is of Mary, who sat near the TV in the common room with a red ball of wool. She would knit and knit 🧶 and then at some point undo it all and then start again. She reminded me of Penelope ( wife of Odysseus) in Homer’s Odyssey. I digress. Let’s just summarise those days as another challenge but we saw them as being a step closer to mum coming home. Mum would always sit facing the entrance and would announce us to all as she saw us approaching. She would be irritated by me continually trying to test her – what’s the time mum, how many children does X have, what did you have for lunch, shall we play cards, let’s do some maths…. It took me a long time to accept that she was never coming back. But I recall on 15th August (India Independence Day) as we watched BBC news she reeled off dates and names!! 🤷🏽‍♀️

She finally came home Diwali 2017 and I think that has to be another story. It is largely my father’s story of becoming a carer and the trials of finding support. I stayed in Southall for part of the week. In early January we got the diagnosis of early dementia for mum. This was no surprise to us and I truly believe that she had been on the path for a long time – long before the hospital drama. In March we took her to India and they stayed there till mid June. It was post this that we even considered care homes which only bought tears and we came to the conclusion that she was not ready and neither were we. It would be consigning her to the last chance saloon and we had other plans.

We got through the glorious summer with support. Papa went back to do his early morning power walks and yoga. I continued to spend some of the week in Southall. Simon and I spent most Sundays there and became expert wheelchair pushers. I mastered the art of manoeuvring in disabled loos – I want a badge please! I also accepted my new mum.

My mother was and still can be the life and soul and commands centre stage not just because of her physical presence. She is simply loud and full of fun and a little cheeky sometimes. In my younger years I used to find this embarrassing but now I see those traits in me (sorry Art) and my daughter (sorry Simon). God help our friends and family.

She was an incredible cook and would be like a magician in the kitchen rustling up large amounts of yummy food at any time for random visitors from next to nothing . I on the other hand open a tub of olives,delve into the freezer for M&S snacks or run to Bala (those who know just know).Over recent years due to mobility issues , lack of taste buds and early dementia mum has not been able to cook.But I’ve seen her and experienced her giving instructions as she sits and watches food being prepared. And still being brutally honest if she doesn’t like something.

My father is an ex Indian Airforce man- formal and regimental in his routines. Never late , always early. Mr Planning and prep . Living within your means. Why do it later when you can do it now? We had many years apart because of his job so I never experienced his humour and gentleness much. The last 18months have shown me what a great man he is. Proud, respectful and generous to those he loves. It took him many years to accept Simon (not only is he my second husband but also English). To be clear that was probably more to do with me than Simon. What wasted years – they now drink beer together !!

Am sure this is long enough for now. I could probably bore the pants off anyone who would care to listen about each hospital or care-home visit. But to close this off I wanted to share the following. I wrote it in the middle of a difficult night earlier this year and put it on FB- which had become my outlet.

That dirty word dementia…

Behind closed doors mum is not there…appears fleetingly only to vanish in an instant. Raised voices , gentle strokes, pleading again and then anything that comes.

Sucking all life out of those around her without meaning to. Leaving us in tears and confused as she is as to how to live life guilt free. How to find the strength , both mental and physical to help her and ourselves.

No one warned us… especially you mum that this would happen. You’re supposed to be there for us always. You’re supposed to have all the answers.

I’m praying that there will be some salvation for us all. Just need to find that strength to carry you all into the light.

It’s already tomorrow but my eyes are still open.

————///————-

I have discovered I have the capacity to cope. I have discovered I have a truly wonderful network that just keeps giving. I have also discovered (I always knew I had a charmed life and thought I did not take people for granted) that life keeps going and it’s up to us to enjoy that journey and help others along the way. It gives our life purpose.

So Papa is in-charge of Mum for a while with help from extended family members all the way in India. This affords me the time to be self indulgent (all those parties 🎉)and write these blogs whilst I wait to go out there next year. I have finally been able to give her an answer when she says, “when are you coming Guddi?”

🙏🏽

Seema

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