Holidays, Introspection, Life, Me

Intangible connection

I open the calculator on my computer and type in 2018 minus 2001 and the answer pops out as 17. Of course, I knew the answer and didn’t need a calculator to do the math that my second grader can do in his sleep. But one feels the need for validation when the brain tells one thing but the heart feels something else. It simply cannot be 17 years, says my good old heart. But of course, it is, refutes my sassy brain. God, 17 years is a long long time, it does not feel that long ago. It absolutely does not! So goes my heart, utterly in denial, that I have been away from my home country for 17 years.

In the initial years, I remember meeting an Indian who was away from the country for a long time and  did not know about Sachin Tendulkar when I spoke of him. I fell off my chair. How could you not? He is practically a God for a nation of over billion?

Fast forward 17 years…

I am very much that person today. I know very little about what is happening in India. Having lived most of my adult life outside of India, I feel disconnected to the dynamics of day to day living in India. The excitement of visiting India is overshadowed by the anxiety over logistics and practical difficulties. The India of today feels so alien to me. 

And yet…

I go an extra mile to go to sunday school to be on time for special assembly to sing the Indian national anthem. I tear up every time I sing Jana Gana Mana. Yes, Every. Single. Time. No rhyme or reason, no exaggeration. I hang out with the desi moms from Hari’s cricket group, and can’t help but notice that the conversation feels intuitive and effortless. I swell with pride when Hari quizzes me on Indian states and capitals and knows more than what I do or when Ram sings, oodi vilayadu papa. I go out of the way to stay involved in the local Indian American organization so we can bring exposure to all things Indian to the broader community. When conversations on Whatsapp revolve around how NRIs, and non-citizens, do not have the eligibility to complain or comment about  the Indian state of affairs, it stings. All I I want to say is, I still care. Is that not reason enough?

Being an Indian has become that intangible feeling that does not scream out loud but a subtle and comforting presence that I carry with me at all times. 

Happy Independence Day India. 

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Experiences, Family, Gratitude, Uncategorized

Another Sunday evening

Writing a blog post. A visit to the temple. Going on bike path. Doing stretches. Sitting down for meditation.  What do all these have in common? Once I indulge in these pursuits, I end up wanting to do more of them. But that first step takes monumental effort.

Summer is coming to an end shortly in this part of the world. The days are already getting shorter, we are thinking about back to school routine, and before we know it we will have to pull our sweaters and Fall jackets out. 

Hari has had a pretty laid back summer. He has been in camp just for one week of camp for the entire vacation. We figured the school year tends to get intensive, so why not let the child chill out when he has the chance. That was his preference too. He has enjoyed the freedom of going to the bike path on his own, and camping at the library. He hasn’t hung out much with his friends but has had social time during cricket and baseball practices. He enjoyed setting up his room, he calls it his “man cave,” decorating it with flags of different football teams, built his own basketball hoop, converted the long forgotten Ikea table into a ping pong table, and has made an arcade game on his reading desk. This summer has been a summer without the FOMO for him. 

Ram has been in camp every week. He tried his hands on wood carving and Scratch. His dad has set up a wood shop for him in the basement. My heart skipped several beats when I saw first graders hitting nail with a hammer at the camp. This should not have surprised me but it was too real! Scratch is a mix of programming and gaming. I am not thrilled about this experience but foray into video games is inevitable. For a while, it will be out of control but if I don’t feed the obsession now, it will lead to deprivation. In other news, he has been biking a lot this summer. And for a child that refuses to put his head under water, he has recently taken interest in swimming.  This summer has been a summer of exploring for this child of mine. 

Regarding myself,  I did not take any extra commitments as I wanted to keep it free for appa, amma and kids. Last summer was extremely crazy and I did not want to miss out on another summer with the kids. This summer has been a summer of “US” for me because the days are long but the years are short! 

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Gratitude, Intentions, Introspection, Life, Little Moments, Now

Reflections on a Sunday morning

I can hear the vibration of the washing machine, the tumbling of the clothes in the drier, the white noise from the refrigerator, the sound of my tapping on the keyboard, and Hari sneezing as he is waking up. Sans that, the house is quiet. Ha, solitude, sweet solitude!

  • My mind is wandering to the past and the future even as I train it to stay in the present. To be HERE and NOW, the simplest, the most logical, and perhaps the hardest thing to do. It is worth striving, I tell myself. Make room for what you feel, don’t get lost in the stories in your head, I remind myself.  
  • Last week, I drove irresponsibly and got reprimanded by a complete stranger. As much as I felt ashamed and embarrassed, and wanted the earth to split open and swallow me, I felt a certain calmness in realizing that sometimes it takes a knock on our heads from a stranger to get us grounded in HERE and NOW.
  • A friend posted a video of her sweet family on the second death anniversary of her husband. My heart sank. Why does it always take tragedies and hardships that are bigger than what we face to remind us to make the most of HERE and NOW?
  • Have you ever noticed that when the big picture of our lives get shaky, we don’t sweat the small stuff. The everyday annoyances and frustrations are dwarfed and we are more tolerant and accepting of them. On the other hand, when the big picture is gleaming, the small stuff takes monumental proportions, they are so hard in the moment, and we are intolerant. The HERE and NOW is a tricky place to be in although that is the only place we all should be in.

Gotta go, my HERE and NOW beckons!

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Intentions, Introspection, Uncategorized

I care a whole awful lot!

Presidents come and go. What one president does, the other undoes. It’s only natural and common knowledge. Nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is when the undoing is lacking in ideologies, ethics, and is driven by personal agenda, is myopic, thoughtless and destructive in nature. Innocent lives get affected with irreparable loss just by virtue of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. 

The rose tinted glasses with which I viewed the country that I have to come love has shattered to pieces over the past couple of years.  What have we gotten ourselves into? How do we get out of it? What can I do? My head is reeling and I am not able to keep up with what’s going on. I am not able to separate the noise from the issue. I don’t know where to start. I am afraid I am getting desensitized.

This 4th of July, I remind myself of what the Lorax said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” 

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Gratitude, Hari Katha, Introspection, Learnings, Life, Little Moments, Ram Leela

End of school year

I am lying down on my belly, my legs swinging up in the air and hitting down on the ground  playfully, as I thumb through Ram’s workbook from school. Akhil is lying down on me, his belly on my back, peeking at the book that I am thumbing through and explaining the details on the page every once in a while. It’s a rare moment. One I keep intending to have but never end up having. Finally, I have the time and he has the inclination to go over what he has been upto at school.

I take delight in knowing the nitty gritties – oh he knows to do 2 digit and 1 digit addition, he has been taught to identify coins based on which US President is on the coin, he has been tracking the pumpkin growth from the seed to sapling, and there has been a lot of learning about guppies and pillbug just like Hari did, he has been learning about maps, and he has been introduced to poetry.

“Hari, do you think you can take a moment to reflect on your seventh grade, and write a little something for me? I want to know what you thought of your seventh grade?” Dead silence is what I hear in reply. I can hear the talking going on in his head. Writing is boring and reflecting is even more boring. Who does that anyway? Still, it’s mom, she is asking, what choice do I have? So he obliges and whips up something for me. The crux being, “form my own opinion and not to piggyback on someone else’s” He went into seventh grade thinking that he was going to hate it because of all the things he had heard about the team he was assigned to but came out of seventh grade feeling like much fun was had!  

I have been very hands off with both the children this school year. Fall and early winter went by with renovation work, early spring and rest of the school year was full with upanayanam preparations. I have been feeling very out of touch, very uninvolved and incomplete this school year. As I closed the last of the pile of materials that were sent at the end of the year by Ram’s teacher and read Hari’s year round up write up, I heaved a sigh of satisfaction. I finally felt like a mom who knew what her children have been doing at school, albeit in hindsight. Hopefully more real time next school year. 

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Uncategorized

Share Your World

Taking up Cee’s questions after a long break.

If aliens landed on earth tomorrow and offered to take you home with them, would you go? (remember this is SYW, they are friendly aliens) Thanks, no thanks. I am happy where I am and with who I am. I might think twice if my family is willing to come with me.

How tall are you? Are you satisfied with your height? I am about five feet. I have always been the shortest in whatever group I belonged to but that has never bothered me. I am always amused by folks who want to look tall by wearing heels. So the answer is, I am satisfied with my height.

Do you think you could live without your smartphone (or other technology item) for 24 hours?  I might itch for it out of habit but I am not addicted to my smartphone. I can get used to life without smart phone (definitely) or technology (reluctantly). 

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. I had candid conversation with Hari’s former baseball coach, who is his well wisher. She explained to me what Hari is good at in baseball and where he needs to improve. She also told me how players get picked and the odds that Hari needs to beat to make it at higher levels. I truly appreciated the honesty and guidance. 

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Family, Gratitude, Intentions, Life, Little Moments, Milestones, Wishes

Old friends, new neighbors

I wrote the below post (modified some parts here) about my childhood friend, V,  in my old blog in 2009. V is the kind of friend you can text and ask, can you get me thoor dhal? And then two minutes later, add, can you also get me some cooked thoor dhal ? She is the kind of friend whose door you can knock on at 4 am to drop off your first child while in labor with your second child and head to the hospital knowing that she would take care of your child better than you would.  You can ask for all these favors without feeling like you are imposing on her. We don’t label our friendship or talk for hours together but it’s a quite, reassuring bond where no explanations are needed or the intent ever questioned.

Last week, V and family moved into their newly bought house, which is two houses next to ours.  Sweet lucky coincidence!.Here’s wishing her and her family sweet moments, big and small, and happy memories as they settle in their new abode.

My association with her was through my brother. She and he were in the same class through secondary and first two years of high school. Then our paths crossed in 11th std. That was when we ended up in the same class as we opted to pursue commerce, economics and accountancy for higher education. I remember sitting next to her on the first day of class. Or am I making this up in my head?  I am not sure and that minutia doesn’t seem to matter after all these years. We hung out with each other. A lot. At intervals, during lunch hour, outside school, at the temple, in our houses, during tuition classes. Chitchatting about school, friends, family, this, and that. There was never a shortage of topics. I was fond of the BHEL quarters that she lived in, enjoyed some of aunty’s delicacies, deemed it a privilege being in the company of uncle, and took inspiration from her brother. I knew her extended family and friends by names.

After those much cherished couple of years, it was time to bid adieu as my dad’s job took my family to different places. We kept in touch. Wrote to each other regularly. I looked forward to sleep overs at her place whenever I visited Trichy and she came to spend a couple of days with me in Coimbatore. A few years rolled by in this manner. Then she got married, four days after I got engaged. Want to know the best part? Both of us were heading to the same destination after tying the knot- Boston. Who would have thought and how special is that! Her being here made a big difference to my transition. You see there were a plethora of things to discuss  – married life, America, India, setting up new home, groceries, cooking, cleaning, school days, deals, vacations. And who better to discuss it with than a good old friend?

After all these years, I think of her as family. Someone who knows my history and someone with whom I have grown up. Someone who will remind me of the person. We have seen each other undergo a number of life changing events. I have seen her in labor, hours before she gave birth to her son. I have seen her grieve the loss of a loved one two months later. I have seen the warmth she exudes on her mom, and the pillar of support that she is to her family and friends, Acceptance and Faith are words that come to mind when I think of her.

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