Our home has truly been our sanctuary during the pandemic. Each of us have been able to make a nook for ourselves where we can work productively and efficiently. Hari has taken over the home office, Da the basement, and yours truly the family room. Ram’s workspace is in the dining room so he is within someone’s earshot should he need help. Our living room has transformed into a dance studio, a karate center, or a guitar class based on the need of the hour. Our patio has allowed us to have a couple of socially distanced visitors over the summer break.
Immense gratitude for our home that has literally provided us space in togetherness.
Within our smaller family unit of four, even though we live under the same roof, being together for an extended period was more uncommon than you would think in the pre-pandemic days. Our individual plates were often overloaded. There was always some class to go to and some volunteering that would come at the cost of family time. When we came back home we were too exhausted to spend time with each other.
With the pandemic, all activities are happening over Zoom. There is less physical fatigue and juggling required, which means we have more opportunities to spend time with each other. We have watched loads of TV together – The Great British Bake Off, the Star Wars series, the Harry Potter series, the Mandolorian, the Meet the Robinsons, the Hunger Games, the Disney movies, and so many more. When we had briefly suspended the services of our cleaner, we divided and conquered the weekend cleaning chores and then later extended the same to gardening. The kids indulged us with their occasional baking and cooking. Da became quite the expert in making soda bread and we have our Saturday night pizzas to look forward to. We spent several evenings playing UNO and carrom board. We explored local trails, played frisbee and talked gibberish. Summer was full with long work days and longer work weeks spilling into weekends. Even then, just being physically present in the same setting made a difference and took the edge off.
Prior to the pandemic, I would call up my parents a couple of times every week. Calling them every alternative day has become the new normal with the pandemic. I have enjoyed discussing politics and current events with my dad. I have borrowed menu ideas from my mom and taken delight listening to her YouTube adventures. I have loved learning how they have reconnected with cousins and former colleagues during the pandemic via WhatsApp. I keep them posted on what precautions are recommended here. They tell me about the restrictions and how they are using local resources to work around the pandemic constraints.
Likewise similar ties with our siblings and their families were forged during the pandemic. A couple of reunions with classmates from school and college happened. Conversations went past beyond “you look the same” to discussing contemporary issues.
I am thankful for the foundation of long distance relationships with family and friends that have helped us cope up and manage these socially isolating times. I extend my heartfelt gratitude for intimate moments, conversations and togetherness with near and dear ones that have nourished us mentally and emotionally and enabled us to do our part in the pandemic.
Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.
Grateful for the little moments of joy and relief that this week brought.
- We are experimenting with lighting the house with solar powered serial lights. Da bought pretty cute ones shaped like stars and flowers that are hanging inside and outside the house. Thank you Da for the novelty and for infusing the house with some holiday cheer!
- Promised Land by Obama Barack arrived. It’s a pretty volumounus book and it’s going to take a long time to finish but I’m thrilled to get my hands on it.
- I have taken the week off this week. I had to tie some loose ends on Monday but otherwise not doing anything more than glancing at the emails trickling in. So very thankful to get away from work for these few days and have a change of pace and routine.
- Such a relief to hear the cabinet announcements by Biden. Some semblance of normalcy with qualified, accomplished, competent, and thoughtful leaders in top positions. The pandemic and its aftermath could use all the bright minds that it can receive.
Normally spring is the busiest time of the year for us. Academics and extra curricular activities tend to ramp up in school. Baseball and soccer seasons start. So do cricket practices. Our weekends in spring are spent hopping from one sports to another. We are barely able to keep our heads above water. Not this spring though. All extra activities were canceled. No grand challenge for Destination Imagination. No scouts for the rest of the year. No sports for both the kids. Things slowed down like never before. It was surreal but part of me was greatful for the gift of time and freedom from all these commitments. It gave us a chance to become homebodies. Deep gratitude!
The lockdown and travel restrictions in late spring and early summer meant we had to remain local. Even when the restrictions were relaxed over the summer, we chose not to go out for more than three hours. Using public restrooms was the last thing we wanted to do in a pandemic. This predicament forced us to to act like a tourist in our own town. We discovered local hiking paths and trails. Soon each of us had our own favorite spots. A stream, a boardwalk or a rock that we could rest on. We hiked when the weather was cold, we hiked in scorching heat, and we saw gorgeous sunsets. We saw first hand how the trails changed as the seasons progressed. The hikes gave us preicious time to catch up with one another. Much gratitude!
I can count the number of friends we have met since March of this year. Hari and Ram hung out with their respective friends probably a couple of times over the summer. Outside of that I met with my dance friends twice and visited a friend’s golu (from her patio). The only people who have visited us indoors are my childhood friend V and her family, who live two doors away, our cousin, and our cleaner. Thankfully, the limited people that we have socialized with follow even stricter protocols than we do. We wear masks at all times and follow rules of social distancing to a T. Gratitude for the friendship of like-minded folks.
He towers over me. He wraps me in a warm hug. He stirs my heart deeply with love, joy, pride, and contentment. This child of ours turned 16 today.
Happy B’day dearest Hari. Watching you grow and blossom into a fine person has been the privilege of our lives. Love you with all our hearts and more. May you go in the direction of your dreams, may you find fulfillment in all that you do, be bold, be kind, be you. Gratitude to the powers above for bringing you into our lives. Raising you has been the most rewarding experience of our lives. Thank you for being my jing chack.
A small piece of Hari’s writing I am reproducing with his permission by way of capturing this child’s personality in this moment of time.
In the fifth grade, I, like everyone else, was swept up by the rubix cube craze. I still do not know what was so special about this three by three by three plastic cube, but something about solving a daunting puzzle with over 43 quintillion combinations appealed to my 11-year old brain. Yes, solving the rubix cube is as hard as it sounds. The intricacies of the cube and the strategy that goes behind solving it was mind blowing and seemed unachievable to my younger self. However,I was still determined to give it my best shot after witnessing the pride in my peers’ eyes after piecing the cube together. I scoured the internet for a suitable YouTube video that would help unlock the secrets of this perplexing puzzle. Although I was unable to find an appropriate video, I slowly but surely became more proficient and experienced. Yet, I still couldn’t complete the cube. They don’t say “the final steps are the hardest” for no reason. The sheer complexity of the last few twists and turns got me every time. I grew increasingly frustrated, feeling like all my dedication had gone to waste after months of trial. However, the defiant and persevering part of me decided not to put the cube down so soon. Although the continual failure that came with attempting to solve the rubix cube brought me discontent, I was hungry to reach my goal. One day on my way home from school, I happened to be fiddling with the rubix cube. I looked down at my hands and there it was; a completed rubix cube. You can imagine my surprise. That was nearly six years ago. Although this little anecdote may be unimportant to the average person, this experience set me up to be the person who I am today. If it wasn’t for my perseverance, I would have allowed myself to pull out and give in completely in the face of adversity. These are the moments that passively and actively influence us on a day to day basis. Although they may seem insignificant in the larger scheme of things, we can take important lessons away from such experiences.
Those of us who know UL, know how passionate, sincere and present she is. The year that Ram was born was a turning point in her yoga journey as well. In that we share a special connection. Ever since UL started teaching yoga, I have wanted to learn under her guidance. The pandemic and the reimagination required as a result of that, lifted the distance barrier and gave an opportunity to learn. That hour and 15 mins was my restful place on Sunday mornings during the summer. My mind kept calm. My thanks from the bottom of my heart to UL for the experience.
Our second dance session for thsi term completed this week. Every session is a blessing to be cherished, one not to be taken for granted. This session, we learnt an item that brought out the playful and dancing side of our chubby elephant-faced darling Ganapathi.
Deep gratitude to our teacher for giving us considerable leeway in terms of designing the classes, for a choreography that inspires, and for being gracious with our imperfections.
Deep gratitude for the opportunity to be part of a dance group that is committed and nurturing. We are all in different life stages and circumstances. We come together for the love of art. We know our strengths and weaknesses. The goal is always to do our personal best. I am lucky to be part of this group and proud of our collective journey.
Gratitude to my Jjing Bang Gang for being my cheer leaders and allowing me to take over the living room filling it with my stomping sounds. Thankful for all the tools and technology (zoom, dual monitor, stable internet connection, a nice hard wood floor, the physical space) that have made dancing not just possible but fulfilling during the pandemic.
Gratitude for the little moments this week brought
- I too can make Kaju Katli! Indian sweets teach you life lessons like no other – do not wing it, trust the process, enjoy the sights and smells, be patient, practice, practice and practice! The Katli was kids-certified – “it tastes just like store bought ma”
- Swapping of Deepavali bakshanam with friends. After years of execution failures, this year the stars aligned.
- Nalangu, yennai and new clothes. What if the nalangu was diluted, and the yennai was thawed Parachute coconut oil. It was the moment that counted!
- Homemade naan. The things you can make with maida and yeast!
- Ram’s excitement about starting his guitar lesson on Stars and Stripes. The child has been waiting to learn this forever.
- Ram got his very first karate uniform with yellow belt. Yay Ram!
What little moments did the week bring for you?