Posted in Little Moments

LMT Time

Do you recognize the place in this picture…?

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This is what Dr. Seuss calls as the waiting place in his book, Oh the Places you’ll go. This is the place where people are doing nothing but simply waiting, waiting, and waiting. Expecting things to magically fall on their laps without as much lifting their little finger.

And that’s precisely the place I found myself in this week. In a waiting place, waiting for nothing in particular. Just sitting in the slump watching the world around me zoom by. Yeah, that was me – lazy and crazy – this week.

Now that the confession is out there loud and clear, time to take stock of the little moments.

– Received an email in which the heart speaks. Very genuine and heartfelt. Made up for the miles that stood between us and the times that we don’t get to spend with each other. There are friendships that you let go. And there are friendships that you cling on to, with all your might, with your life. And she is a gem that I will cherish forever and ever.

– Just as I was drooling over the onam sadya pictures on my Facebook feed, a friend who was born and brought up from Kerala, emailed, “I can make some onam dishes for dinner on sat, I also have paper banana leaves. Would you like that?” Yes of course, we would love that, I pounced in all eagerness. We had our first Onam style feast last Sat.

– Throwing a glance at the mirror, lingering an extra second to look at the deforested eyebrows and the copperish hair strands. That feel good factor that stays with you, albeit briefly, following a visit to the parlor.

– A strict math coach at the math team. One who will make your son think of you as a cool cucumber, not the hot pepper that he thinks you are…! A strict disciplinarian, a task master, who will give a kick in your you-know-what, not just for Hari but his parents, if we don’t do what it takes. I say, let the fun begin…!

– Mercilessly threw away the chocolate butter goodness – nutella. No more slathering it on a toast for late night snacking. One temptation conquered.

– Words become unnecessary when you rest your head on the broad shoulders of the one that loves and cares for you and vice versa. For those few seconds, all of life’s quandaries and dilemmas melt away in that warmth and comfort.

– Remember the ten year old money plant I told you about? My parents weaved it along our window. It has grown and is long enough to extend around the door frame of our kitchen. “hey we can take it along the doorway, then as it grows take it along the kitchen window and then the living room”. Just like that a dream was born. A dream to adorn the house with a single money plant. A little silly if you think about it, but one that is filled with possibilities.

– Da and I were discussing something and all of a sudden we hear some snoring noises. I turn back and catch the child strapped in his care seat, wide awake but pretending to snore. It was a sight to behold, one that had us cracking up. Tell you, little Ram is such an attention seeker. Gives us a run for the money.

What little moments have you been savoring this week?

Posted in Uncategorized

Sending warm b’day wishes and happy thoughts…

… to someone who,

– instilled the love of reading – “keep reading even if you don’t understand because at some point you will,’ and introduced me to the world of PG Wodehouse.

– exposed me to bhajans, slokams and music. Mondays are for MS Pancharatnamala, Tuesdays are for Kandha Sashti by Sulamangalam sisters, Wednesdays are for Bhaja Govindam, Thursdays are for Hanuman Chalisa/Raghavendra sokamsm, Fridays’ are for Devi stotram, and Saturdays for Vishnu Sahasranamam.

– got me into the habit of sending New Year wishes, and believing in new beginnings. Thanks to you, it’s such a non tradeable and favorite part of the new year.

– is full of compassion, is a perfectionist, and a stickler for routine. If you are looking for a role model to be disciplined, he is the man!

– always made it clear that family comes first and gave us a happy, memorable, and fun filled childhood.

Appa – here’s wishing you heartful of happiness, peace of mind and the pinkest of health, now and always…! Ending this post with a show off of my dad’s lovely lovely pencil sketches, some of which have been traced while others drawn by him. I am not exaggerating when I say this is one of my prized inheritance. These drawings are older than I am, and the fact that he has preserved them over the years, despite several moves, says a lot about how organized he is.

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Posted in Introspection, Little Moments

LMT post for this week

Hello people, hope your week is going well. Mine had it’s share of ups and downs. Time to reflect on the week that went by and count the little blessings that life had to offer.

– Visited the Chinmaya Mission temple last weekend. With its pristine and serene setting, the place fills your heart like no other. One of the few occasions when the mind willingly resides in the now, and takes in all the divinity the place has to offer.

– Bought a pink orchid plant at the local Trader’s Joe on an impulse. I do not have a green thumb, but that doesn’t deter me from collecting plants. Looking forward to nurturing this beauty in our cozy little corner.

– On the way back from back-to school- nights this week, and during my early morning visits to the gym, an unexpected visitor accompanied me. So close yet so far, he kept taunting me with his sheer simplicity. I stopped and lingered whenever I could to get an extra glimpse of him. Who is this mystery visitor you ask? Why, who could it be other than the grand full moon leaning against the night sky in all its grandeur.

– Heard in passing – “My mom is a good catcher, she is very good at catching with one hand”. Ahem ahem, that was a comment on yours truly. Whoever knew that an appreciation from a little child could make his mama walk a little taller. And I wonder why they say children derive their self worth from adults? shouldn’t it be the other way around?

– He is needy, hungry, sleepy and cranky. And the only way he knows to deal with it is to take it out on me. It’s tough hanging in there and being the bigger and more matured person. My own frustration is building up, threatening to explode any moment. A spark of awareness sets in and I just let go. What a relief, as if a huge weight is lifted off my chest, making space for some tenderness to set in. I pick Ram, he rests on my shoulder and falls asleep in a jiffy. Breathing heavily, his heart beating against mine, his cheeks on my shoulder, a little drool just about to drip. I do not know anything more tender than this!

– Good news from a good friend that warmed my heart. We hear stories. Of dreams, hopes and faith. Of disappointments, failures and struggles. Of resilience, character and attitude. Life comes in all shapes, colors, and size. Who knows what is in store? Who knows what is meant for us? Life is anything but a level playing field. We all go places, find our own paths, and eventually it balances out.

Care to share your little moments for this week? I am all ears!

Posted in Ram Leela

Toddler talk

And some toddler talk from Ram. Conversations over past few months that are struck in my head waiting to be recorded in my journals.

– Noticing that I am wearing a new kurti, Ram says, “Mommy I love your new kurta. You look so handsome in this!”

– After a diaper change, he follows me around and says, “come mommy, now it’s your turn. Lie down and I will change your diaper.”

– At the dinner table, he farts and proudly proclaims, “I am a burrro monster” and giggles uncontrollably.

– “Anna, this is mines mommy. Daddy is yours. Mommy is mice.”

– “Amma can you move and give me a pots” – that is, can you give me a spot?

– “Are we going to restroom to eat?” – what he meant to ask was, are we going to a restaurant to eat?

– The child is so polite that he says, ‘appa thank you for buying me milk, thank you for buying me banana, thank you for buying me cheerios….’, as he unpacks all the goodies from grocery shopping.

Posted in Hari Katha, Little Moments

In lighter vein

Conversations with Hari over the past few months that I wanted to jot down in my diaries.
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With the noble intention to be a good cheerleader for my sonny boy and his team, I asked Hari, “I want to get better at knowing soccer rules, can you teach me.” Mighty thrilled at my unexpected enthusiasm for sports, he shot back. “Sure mom, I would love to.” He started out and then held back and asked me in all seriousness, “You do know that in soccer you cannot touch the ball with your hands, right?”

Really child? You thought I am THAT ignorant. Sigh!
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Ram, Hari and I were driving to Hari’s tennis class. Ram was eating croissant and I asked him how it was. Hari interjected and corrected me, “Mom, you should say croissant with a sharp R and a sharp T like this”, and went on to pronounce it for me. And I repeated after him closely mimicking his pronunciation. “It’s ok mom if you don’t get it. People will just understand what you are saying when they see what you are holding.”

As my friends from college would say, ellam yen neram!
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Hari had proclaimed that the pizza I had made the earlier night was the world’s best pizza ever. Recollecting the compliment the next day, I suggested to him that maybe we should stop buying pizzas and just make them at home. Feeling a little threatened that I was going to take away his pizza day at school, he said “Mom, I don’t mean this as an insult to you. But the guys that make pizzas are more experienced than you and know how much salt to add and how long to cook. So I think we should continue to buy pizzas.’

Ha ha, quite the smooth talker that he is!
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Collecting materials for his art project, Hari came up to me and asked, ‘Hey mom, do you think you could give me some of your hair so I could use it for making the girls in my art work.” My eyes certainly popped out and as I narrated it to the husband, he advises Hari, ‘Just look in the floor kanna, you will find plenty.”

I have not laughed this hard in a long time.
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As I was driving Hari from summer camp, Hari asked, “Mom, we will have pizza party in camp on Friday. Do you think I can drink soda.” And I said, “Illa ma, I can get you sparkling water at home if you like but let’s not drink sugary beverages. I know it’s very tempting when everyone is having it, but really kanna it feels good only as long as your taste buds can taste it, but beyond that it does so much harm to your body” Fairly convinced that I had convinced him, I look in the rear view mirror and caught mischief in Hari’s eyes. ‘How about this idea then – I take a sip, taste it, and then spit it out instead of swallowing it”

Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…! didn’t see that one coming.
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Again on the topic of junk food, I was telling Hari, “You know Hari, our friends who will be visiting this weekend? Their children do not eat any junk food. they only eat nuts and yoghurt for snacksI I don’t want us to be a bad influence, ok?”. Without a moment’s hesitation, the child replies, ‘Oh boy, looks like then I need to be junked out before that!’

I am stumped!

Posted in Experiences, Inspiration

YMCA Groupon

Like dentist appointments, exercising is something I dodge in all ways I possibly can. It’s so much hard work. The kind of hard work that I am not used to.

This summer, on a friend’s recommendation, I signed up for a $25 Groupon that would let me visit the local Y 25 times. I thought of it as universe’s way of pleading me to get my act together and shed a few pounds. I have completed nearly 20 visits and have had a great time getting exposed to different workout regimens. It’s another thing that I have not lost an ounce, but the thought that I have not piled on additional lbs despite all the gluttony over the summer is some justification for an hour of sweating it out at the crack of the dawn. That being said, what workouts have I been exposed to?

Zumba and Zumba Toning – this is not my first introduction to Zumba, so I was a tad disappointed with the instructor. Adding weights to Zumba makes it Zumba toning. Gotta say that I have grown to like the music immensely and would love to try my hands on this workout with a different teacher some other time.

Group Cycling – this is also called Spinning. Suffice to say that this workout is simply B.R.U.T.A.L. It’s playing with different combination of gears and speeds on a stationary bike to add some resistance and increase your heart beat. This is my least favorite workout, and I confess that I cheat quite a bit with the gears to keep up with intensity of the class.

Hi/Low Aerobics – lots of jumping, kicking and moving around, with some weights thrown in. This class is fun, and gets you pumped for the day.

Pilates – my first time ever doing pilates. I LOVE it. I am not sure if I got the basics right but from what I understand it is a mind-body workout involving a certain breathing technique and is about stretching your body in opposite directions (foot extending on one side, while the head stretching on the other), and making space for our organs instead of crunching them up. This is probably one thing I will miss once the coupon expires.

All these work out sessions are typically an hour long. For the first 20 mins, my mind is moaning and groaning – “I wish I had better control over my eating then I don’t have to slog here”,“My God this is so hard, I do not want to do it”, “I wish I was as fit as the person next to me. Why is she even working out?”, so on and so forth. The next 20 mins, I hit a slump in terms of energy levels. So I just focus, breathing in and breathing out, giving it my all. And along the way there is a shift in my mindset, “come on, 50% of the class is over, only 50% is left, give it your all”. It gets slightly easier as the mind realizes that I am on the home stretch and works with my body. Needles to say, my favorite part of the workout is the last five minutes of cooling and stretching. That feeling of “yay, I did it” makes rest of the 55 mins so worth it.

There is a wide range of folks that come for these workout sessions. Believe it or not, last week a 7-month pregnant lady was up on the stationary bike biking her way while I was huffing and puffing on mine. I am also fortunate to have a workout buddy who like me is not into intense workout but tries her bit to be in shape. Her commitment and willingness to try new things certainly pushes me along as well.

Posted in Experiences, Kids, Life, Memories

Summer 2013

Here I am giving updates on summer happenings when fall is marching its way in all its glory in our part of the world. Ah, well, better late than never,isn’t it? We did not scratch the surface in terms of what we wanted to do over the summer, but we got other things accomplished. Here’s a quick summary.

– Hari went to a regular camp in July. In August, he immersed himself in tennis, which is his latest love! Apart from camp, he made a 500 piece glow in the dark jigsaw puzzle, mostly by himself. Such fun in putting together different pieces to make a big picture…! No wonder Hari was hooked.

– Offering balanced meals for the family, especially Hari. If providing nutritious home cooked meals comes naturally to you, lucky you and your family! My impulse is to make it quick and easy often times compromising on the “balance” portion of the meal. Over the summer, I put in a little more thought into planning meals for the family ensuring that the kids had servings from different food groups over the course of the day. Nothing fancy, just sneaking a fruit here, a handful of nuts there, and some veggies thrown in the mix.

– Family meals. Without any extra classes to attend, summer afforded the luxury to eat dinner together as a family. Made a big difference to Ram, who often likes to read while eating, and helped cultivate the habit of “eat while you eat, read while you read.”

– Potty Training. Ram made steady progress on the potty training front. So many memories made – “Amma look Ram has made a sea horse with his pee pee”, “Amma, I did mommy poo poo, daddy poo poo and baby poo poo”, and one fine evening Ram had his epiphany at the dinner table “Amma, poop comes from butt, pee comes from wee wee.”

– We went to a local minor league game. A free ticket that Hari earned from being enrolled in the library reading program. The child was overjoyed with the experience of watching a live match. It’s another thing that his mom was bored out of her mind, getting all fidgety.

– We went to more than a couple of out of state zoos. and learnt a thing or two about how all of us are interconnected in the circle of life. Did you know that vultures are the ultimate recyclers? they feed on sick and diseased prey without harming themselves while saving the rest of the animal world and humankind from the decay and potential diseases. Also, did you know that due to their heights, other animals count on the giraffes to alert them should there be a predator close by? Very humbling, makes you realize that you are a tiny speck in the grand scheme of things.

As I write this, I am in the basement with the heating system turned on. It’s time to pull out those rugs, bring in the plants, take out the gloves and transition to chillier temperatures. I am not ready for summer to be over yet. Or rather for winter to begin….! Fall is stunning, but so very short lived.

Posted in Little Moments

LMT this week

Sniffles, tantrums, meltdowns, mood swings, and dentist appointment, pretty much sum up this week for me. Or at least those rough spots are the ones that come to my mind when I reflect on this week. But if I dig a little deeper, and care to look beyond them, I see a treasure trove of simple joys and little moments buried underneath that I am going to retrieve in this post.

– Three blog posts this week. Yay…! See, I told you, I intend to write often, just that the intention seldom translates into action. So the rare times it does, it’s worth making a big deal out of it.

– After a gap of three weeks, I worked out three days this week. Inertia and momentum are the bane of my existence. It’s hard to get me started and once I get started, I often struggle with the discipline to keep it up. That I made a start this week deserves some cheering up.

– If Hari is giving me chances to revisit my childhood, Ram is giving me opportunities to relive Hari’s childhood. When I drop Ram off at preschool, which is the same one that Hari went to, I unintentionally go back to Hari’s preschool days and the conversations we had from then. Never fails to bring a smile on my face.

– The lightness of being that comes following a confession. “I am not sorry that I was upset with you, but I regret expressing it the way I did. I am sorry for taking it out on you.” Phew! a huge weight off my chest. Doesn’t undo my wrongdoing, but in my humble opinion, an accepted apology is a second (third/fourth/fifth…) chance to get something right.

– No cooking for two nights in a row. Less cooking means less time spent on the accompanying chores and more time spent on things that I want to do than the things that I have to do.

– Indian school resumed last week. Missed Hari and my kids from last year, but equally looking forward to teaching and learning from the new kids this year.

– Residual summer weather. One day I was wrapped in sweater, staying away from smoothie and salads, and the next day, it was hot and humid. That’s New England weather for you. No complaints given that the days of living in winter wonderland is just around the corner. I will take any summer weather I get.

What’s have you been collecting in your treasure trove of little moments?

Posted in Experiences, Kids, Little Moments, Milestones, Ram Leela

Preschool begins

We had prepared Ram for the transition well in advance. “Ram, you will be going to preschool starting in September. There will be lots of books, new toys, and many friends. Amma will go to office but your teacher will be there. You will play outside. You will go downstairs for nap time, and play some more.Then, amma will pick you up in the evening ok?” He had visited the classroom during orientation the earlier week, so he knew what to expect in the new school.. His teacher had written a letter to him over the summer, and had paid a home visit subsequently, so he was introduced to her as well.

Knowing something intellectually is one thing but practically facing it is a different ball game, isn’t it? Ram, like many toddlers or even grown ups for that matter, thrives on familiarity. Familiar surroundings, familiar routines, and familiar people. He takes time to warm up to change. So I had my fingers crossed for the big day.

Bright and early, he was one of the first kids to arrive on the first day of preschool. Holding on to my little finger, he skipped and hopped while my stomach was in knots. Normally, I can be the grown up in the situation and put it in perspective for the child. But a travel commitment the following day had my anxiety level a notch higher and my maturity level a tad lower. In hindsight, may be I was projecting my emotions on him. As soon as we entered his new classroom, he sprung to the table and started playing with his play doh matter-of-fact. I lingered a little longer to give an extra hug in case the enormity of the situation sunk in later than expected and he had a meltdown.

I needn’t have worried, the kid knew what he was getting himself into. He turned out to be quite the trooper ordering me around – “Go to your office mommy. Bye bye, and have a good day”. Giving him a tight hug and a loud kiss, it was my turn to walk with a spring in my step, as I sent a silent thank you to the powers above. .

.After 8 years of parenting and two kids, if there is one thing I have learnt, it is this – you never know how it’s going to turn out!

Posted in Experiences, Inspiration, Introspection, Learnings, Life, Little Moments, Memories, People

One of a kind experience

The second week of August this year goes down in the book of my life as a week of awesomeness! One that had me feeling incredibly blessed and in a state of bliss. Read on if you are interested in knowing why.

If you are a Bharatanatyam dancer, Dr.Chandrashekar needs no introduction. He is a legend who is known for his precision in executing nrittas. That he is second to none in the abhinaya aspect of the dance is something I witnessed firsthand.

My dance teacher organized a six-day workshop led by Chandrashekhar anna, as she affectionately and respectfully addresses him, during the summer. While I signed up for the workshop in the blink of an eye, come the day of workshop, I was a bundle of nerves – to be dancing for three hours every evening for the next five days? Really, what was I thinking? Not to mention how much of a strain the work life balance is going to be for Da this week. So on and so forth went the stories in my head.

For better or worse, a commitment is a commitment. So I had no choice, but to muster up the courage and show up the first evening. Believe it or not, that was all that was needed. The energy and the spirit of the class melted my apprehensions and nervousness into oblivion. It didn’t matter, whether you were good, better, or best. What counted was you participated, and gave it your personal best.

The classes began with a warm up. Anna took a adavu set, showed variations to it, played with the different permutation and combinations of the beats, and explained the nuances of executing the jathis. Following the warm up, he taught us two pieces over the course of the workshop – pushpanjali that extended to misra alarippu, and a small thillana dedicated to Dwaraka Krishna, which was also set to misram.

Apart from these dance items, he also shared with us bits of his choreographies and gave us a glimpse of what goes into the making of a dance item, which in my mind was the ultimate cherry on the cake! For instance, he showed how he used the four speeds of the first thattu adavu to portray the marching of an army. As the speed increased, it gave the sense that the army was marching closer. Then, he described how he would play with the shadows to come up with different ,mudras –the peacock transformed into a turkey with small change in the mudras. He also showed how he used the different kudhithu adavus and sarrikal advaus to depict street games of India. A fun item to watch as a rasika, but one that involved a lot of rigor and incorporating intricacies while choreographing. He showed us how he narrated Ramayana in passive voice, through the eyes of Sita. He also taught us how the adavu – thath thai thaa haa – is versatile. It is used in all dance forms – Bharthanatyam, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Kathakali, Mohinattam and others – with variations in stance and postures. He also explained how one can choreograph creatively for non-traditional topics such as the theory of evolution within the framework of the traditional dance form.

It was very challenging to keep up with the workshop given that my commitments at work left me with practically no time to practice at home. I drenched in the experience as much as I could, grabbing on to every word that fell out of anna’s mouth. Learning not only dance, but some of life’s valuable lessons as well. There is something to be said about the value of hard work and discipline. While talent and flair for dance helps, it is amazing how much one can achieve from sheer hard work, discipline, and mindful practice. Some pearls of wisdom from anna – keep your mind open to new styles without compromising yours, practice, practice and practice, increase your dance vocabulary, and constantly evaluate yourself as a dancer.

I will confess that there was part of me that wished that I was younger, and could grasp all the new pieces like a sponge. I was processing the items intellectually, that’s how my grown up mind absorbed it, instead of going with the flow with great elan. Thankfully, there was another part of me that wisely infused the much needed perspective – there was no reason why dancing should have continued to be part of my life. There was every reason to let this opportunity pass – too much going on at work, the kids need me, or for that matter I will not have the stamina to keep up. Da could have easily said that this is too ambitious for us as a family and that the day to day rhythm of our lives would go off beat. Instead, like always, and like everything else in life, he asked me to do it if that’s something I truly want to do.

As I write this post, I feel gratitude from the depths of my heart. For this opportunity. For being part of something extraordinary. And to have been in the company of greatness. To know what it takes. For all of life’s enablers – parents who nurtured the spark, fantastic gurus who took the spark to the next level, a supportive spouse and well adjusted kids, and finally the financial wherewithal that allowed and continues to allow me to pursue the art form.

I feel blessed that dancing has been such an integral part of my life, at different stages, with different intensities. And because of that I am a better person today!