Monday 11th October 2010

Hello everyone,
I’m so sorry I haven’t written for AGES – completely unforgivable I know, and I’m sure most of you are DYING to know what I’ve been up to for the last two months or so, so prepare for a very long update!

Well, I came home from India in early August, and was almost immediately swept up in all of the excitement of my sister’s wedding, which was on the 4th September. There was a lot of logistics planning, and military-style organisation involved, including figuring out who was driving over to pick up the bouquet and bring it to the correct venue at what time/day etc. All terribly efficient, and it gave me a glimpse of just how much insane planning actually goes into a wedding!

Suffice to say the wedding itself was perfect, with a lovely registry office ceremony in Cambridge on Friday, and then a blessing ceremony and reception at my aunt’s house in Essex on Saturday. Two of my friends from Uni had also gotten married on the bank holiday Monday beforehand, so by Saturday it was technically my 3rd wedding in a week!
It was all fabulous however, and great to have a chance to catch up with so many friends and family – including my dad and stepmother, and my brother and his family, who had all come over from Australia for the occasion!

After all the wedding excitement died down, I spent a fantastic month with my brother and his family, who I have not seen for three years! We all had an amazing time, and mum and I got to babysit my gorgeous nephews while my brother and his wife had a couple of well-deserved mini-breaks – 3 days in Berlin and then 3 days in Barcelona. My nephews are perfect in every way – I still maintain that they are the best-behaved children in the world, and I know I’m not biased, because the rest of my extended family think so too!

O, the oldest, is now 6 and a half, devastatingly cute, and terrifyingly bright. He is very artistic, and is already reading the 5th Harry Potter book and can spell Lord Voldermort (I’m so proud!). He has of course also mastered the art of sulking, which is HILARIOUS to watch – I’ve never seen it done with such panache!

J is in the middle, and about to turn 5. He’s gorgeous as well of course, and LOVES all things Star Wars – so old school! He is extremely perceptive and also very funny, and has such a sunny disposition that he can’t stay in a huff for more than 5 minutes! He is very cheeky and loves wrestling and sword-fighting, and comes out with the best quotes.

Then there is N, who is the youngest, and just turned 2. He is an utterly adorable toddler, as his brothers were before him, and has a brilliant smile. He LOVES cars and driving cars and making brrrrummm, bruummm noises, and likes to pretend to drill things a lot. He is very cuddly and also sings little random tunes all the time, and frequently got us all joining in with “Do DO Do dooo Do Duh Duh Duh DOOOOO…YAY!” – A classic song for all the ages!

Basically they are all wonderful, and spending a month with them left my ovaries screaming! (I seem to have become even more broody than I was before!).

Anyhoo, it was of course also wonderful to see my bro, who is awesome, and my sister-in-law, who I get on with incredibly well too, so we spent LOADS of time gossiping and generally catching up. And so, with all of this hustle and bustle of activity going on I have barely had time to do any of the other things I was meant to be doing, like once again looking for a job!

However, since the family have swept off back to Oz, and mum and her partner are off on their holidays, I’ve now got the house to myself and some time to focus on it a bit more. I have now sent off around 35 job applications since leaving the University (which incidentally was recently shut down due to tax fraud, so a lucky escape there!), and have been attempting to take a few more pro-active measures about job-hunting.

I have not yet had any interviews as such, although I did get invited up to Leicester for a kind-of pre-interview interview with XXXX (more of an informal meeting to discuss my suitability for the post or any others they might have for me etc). All very good, and I spent £50 on a return train ticket to Leicester, but then got a very apologetic phone call the day before telling me that DFID (the UK Department for International Development) had just cut most of their funding and they have to immediately halt all recruitment, including for the position I was going for, as they can no longer afford to hire someone for that position! So sadly I never got to have that particular interview, although they very kindly offered to refund my train fare.

I also attended a conference last week on job-hunting and careers in the International Development sector, hosted by a charity recruitment company. It was…. interesting. The first half was a bit lame – all the speakers kept telling us to focus on volunteering abroad (yup, done that), and getting a masters degree (check) – all very useful for the 200-odd students and fresh graduates there, but not so helpful for me. The other thing that every single speaker kept harping on about was the importance of networking. “Network, Network, Network” was the general consensus, and there was a 40-minute “networking break” built into the conference timings.

I found it all a bit terrifying – 200 people vying to speak to 5 speakers in 40 minutes. Queuing disintegrated very quickly and it ended up being a case of shove your way to the front and say something interesting really really fast. Luckily I was one of the few people who had brought copies of my CV with me, so I was able to shove it at several people before getting trampled under the crowd of desperate graduates hungry for jobs. It was truly quite a scary experience, and I’m still not sure it was worth the £25 ticket price, but then again I suppose it can’t hurt. I did manage to get some useful CV advice from a major recruiter for charity/NGO jobs, so that part was good, and one of the speakers was from an organisation I had just applied for a job with, so I squeezed my way in to shake her hand and introduce myself (but in fact did not subsequently get selected for an interview for that position).

To be honest, I’m still very sceptical about networking. Even though I know it does seem to be the only way to get anywhere in the world these days, I think my bleeding-heart liberal mind still feels that it’s uncomfortably close to nepotism, which I fundamentally and very strongly disapprove of, and I wish that I could get a job based only on my merits, but apparently that’s not really possible these days. Also in fairness, I only got my most recent job in India because I have a friend who was related to someone there, so I can’t really be too judgemental! But anyhoo, job-hunting continues at a steady pace, and my attempts at networking continue….

So, in other news, I am finally attempting to get vaguely fit, so have taken some proactive measures in that general direction. Firstly I bought a cheap second hand bicycle back in August when I first came home and managed to cycle into Sudbury from the village several times (a 9-mile round trip I discovered!). However during the madness of the wedding and hanging out with my family, I didn’t really do much, and the filthy wet, soggy, cold British weather has dampened my enthusiasm for cycling in general, although I’m slowly building up the guts to get out and carry on in the rain!

I have also decided that I need a slightly bigger incentive to exercise, so I have signed up for a charity fun-run in December. It’s only 5k, which is apparently very easy, and I’m running it to raise money for EJF – Environmental Justice Foundation, an NGO my friend works for. I will of course be looking for sponsors for my epic jogging debut, and to make things more interesting, I’ll be running the whole thing in a Santa suit – I KNOW there are many of you who would pay to see me do that!

Please feel free to check out my fundraising page and sponsor me.
Also any of you who would like to come down in person and watch me run 5k in a Santa suit (or just come to point and laugh), please feel free to come to Greenwich Park, London, on Sunday 5th December, where the merriment will commence at 11am.

Now, I feel I should warn any of you planning to sponsor me that I may not necessarily manage to run the whole thing – I may end up walking some of it, but I am attempting to train in order to do my best. I started my “training” today – and was shocked to discover that Step One actually involves leaving the couch and going outside! I found a website online that suggested starting out with interval training (alternating 60 seconds of jogging and 60 seconds of walking for 20 minutes), so I went over to the village playing field to have a go. Of course there was a bloke over there in a tractor mowing the field, so I had an extremely amused audience for my very first attempt at learning to jog! I made it about 4 times round the field doing the intervals before getting a stitch and running out of breath! Fairly pathetic given that it’s such a small field, but hopefully it’ll be easier tomorrow!

So, that’s just about all of my news for now (Phew! Sighs of relief can be heard across the globe!). I hope you are all well and will send me some of your updates soon so I know what everyone has been up to!

For those of you wanting to catch up and hang out, I should be around for a while and my mobile number is the same as it was before, so feel free to give me a call! My immediate future plans involve continued job-hunting and reluctant networking, learning to jog, learning French (including a possible trip to France to practice sometime before xmas), and all sorts of other odds and ends like attempting to finish the patchwork quilt I’ve been working on for 10 years, and learning to knit something other than a scarf.

Best wishes to all of you – and well done for making it to the end of my email!
tons of love
wheezing, jogging Maya

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