Posted in Family, Introspection, Life, Little Moments, Us, Work life balance

Work Travel (LMT post)

Lugging my laptop, the roll on suitcase, and my handbag, I closed the door and began  my countdown even before I left. The full and the bright moon outside put me in a cheery mood.   As I started my drive to the Amtrak train station, the heat kicked in and so did the memories of the  very ordinary moments from the earlier evening, wrapping me in a cocoon of love.

After a bit of a panic attack, with embarrassment written all over my face, the earlier evening I had confessed to Da that I had misplaced my driver’s license. The hands on practical person that he is, he rolled up his sleeves and used that as an opportunity to have my license renewed and have copies of my current one printed. This is how he knows to be there for me, with sensible, practical help. Doing and saying things that matter when I need them the most. 

Ram  had devoured a bagel, some pasta with cheese, and a mug of milk. I recall stealing glances at him feeling a rush of love as he ate with single minded focus. Plain flavorless food without vegetables is what this child prefers. I don’t let him get away with it at all times. But the few times that I do, the look of satiety on his face is priceless. 

In the evening, I had dropped Hari at his friend’s place. He told his friend’s mom, “Donald Trump is such a sexist.” Ayoooo… I cringed inwardly. Later that evening he and I talked – what does sexist mean? how are opinions formed? who will I vote for? who will he vote for? This child is so eager to be part of the grown up world and I remember being like that too. On top of that, he is growing in a different culture and at a different time, I want to be there for him in this phase without judgments, conditions, and expectations. 

As much as travelling makes me restless, it is a necessary evil workwise and personally. On the personal front, I cherish it for the distance, fondness and gratitude it creates. For reminding me, how everything is so temporary, so fleeting. The quantity of time is not in our hands, but the quality is. The only way to make the most out of our life is to live each moment. Deeply. Intentionally. Fully.

Posted in Little Moments, Nature


fall treePerfect fall day today. Cloudy but not chilly, with sun coming in and out, sometimes adding to the grandeur and at other times stealing the charm. The maple tree is bursting with colors. Simply stunning, fills my heart and cleanses my soul. I recall a conversation with Hari a couple of days back,  he was intrigued – why do you ooh and aah every time you spy lush green fields or different hues of yellow, orange and red. Don’t you see this every year amma? And therein lies the magic. Every single time it touches me like it did the first time. It is as if I am a witness to the different moods and personalities of Mother Nature. How could I not revel in it? Perhaps this what Keats meant when he said, a thing of beauty is joy forever!

Posted in Health and fitness


I pampered myself today. Not with a visit to the spa or the beauty salon but right at home with nice long stretches.  Truly, stretching is an act of kindness to one’s body and mind. Lifting one’s hands up, so high as though someone is pulling the fingers from above. Or stretching one’s legs and feeling that burn in calf muscles and hamstrings. Ha, that was so relaxing, the soreness melting away as I allowed myself to experience it. If only, I practiced it on a daily basis!

Posted in Hari Katha, Me, Milestones

Our First 5K

After years of wanting to and procrastinating, Hari and I ran our first 5K this morning with zilch training. I have a feeling that we will pay the price for the folly (the no training part, not the signing up for 5K) this week. But today, we are savoring the accomplishment. Hari ran in 31 mins and I in 41 mins. I had no intention of running. “I am just going to wing it,” I told Da who kept coaxing us to eat, drink and dress well in preparation of the run.  But what do you know? Another parent, a novice runner like me, urged me to not stop and to try harder. I kind of ran for her than for me.  It was really chilly but I warmed up after the first 10 mins, the uphills gave a better appreciation for the flatter terrain, and the run itself was shorter than what I had thought. 

Definitely signing up for next year when Ram goes to elementary school. May be, just may be,  Hari and I will be better prepared.

PS: Hari kept give me hi-five through out the day. This was his first time running long distance and he persevered…!

Posted in Experiences, Family, Holidays, Introspection, Kids, Little Moments, Memories

Golu 2015

Happy Navaratri to you all. How is the house-hopping and sundal-binging coming along? We are in the thick of the celebrations. We had the first round of visitors yesterday, more will trickle in today and tomorrow. This year we shook things a bit and gave a new look to our golu, thanks to the toys organizer purchase from Ikea early this year. Hari labored and built a Ganesha temple. Ram has a super hero themed corner. The kids’ art and craft over the course of this year is also on display.

What I like about golu…

  • Family bonding time and memories being made. Da and I huddled in a corner to problem solve for golu padis – what to use? how to build? where to set up? how to make it different? Hari and Ram brainstormed on their little projects for golu – what to create? how to create? with what to create?
  • Discussions about ommachis at home. How did Vishnu turn into a fish (Matsya)? who is the guy that Krishna fought with? Do bad guys also have avatars?
  • Friends who will make the effort to learn new songs and grace our house with soulful music. Something so profound and divine about closing our eyes and getting lost in the recitation of the slokam as a group. One of those rare times when we are able to let go and just be.
  • Listening to Srichakra Raja – one of my favorite songs, particularly during golu which brings out the femininity in you. Gives immense strength, makes you surrender, and leaves you teary eyed. You realize your own insignificance in the grand scheme of things?! Feel very blessed to have learnt to dance for this song.
  • The iterative nature of the tradition. There are always lessons learnt – things that worked and things that didn’t. With that comes the opportunity to tweak and make it more meaningful with every passing year.
  • Visiting friends’ golus, and enjoying the dolls on display. What with Indian arts and crafts exploding with creativity and brilliance! Brings the dormant little girl in me to life. Ram and I eagerly take the sights in with glee.

What I do not like about golu…

  • Unanswered and May Be RSVPs. How is the host supposed to plan and prepare for the event? This is one of life’s quandaries that can do without shades of grey!
  • Rushed visits. Not desirable but understandable given that other things do not remain constant because of the golu season. So we juggle and do the best we can with what time we have.
  • Getting stressed about food shortage, wastage and variety. What to make? how much to make? There is only so much left over sundal one can eat!

With that enjoy rest of the Navratri in your own way. I leave you with a few pictures of our golu this year.

Full Golu

Hari’s Pillayar Kovil. The picture does not do justice to the details – the mooshika, the curtain, the ladoo.

Ram’s super hero themed corner

Posted in Experiences, Hari Katha

Student Council

One of the exciting things about being in Fifth Grade is the opportunity to be part of the Student Council. The council is led by teachers and is made up of student volunteers from fifth grade who work on initiatives such as recycling, spirit wears and others that teach social responsibility. To be part of the council, Hari had to write an essay expressing why he was interested and how he would be a value addition. It sounds sophisticated but it was fairly low key with most kids that expressed interest given an opportunity to serve.

I love that Hari is participating. It teaches him to reflect. It involves decision making – what class does he want to mentor? What days will he pick? He has to forgo recess time for weekly meetings and duties. He has to stand in front of kindergartners, explain things at their level, and be their role model. More than anything else, it is sowing the seeds for giving back to the community.

It has only been a month or so, but the council comes up quite a bit in our conversations and is building awareness. In a recent conversation, he told me, “Amma, did you know that every plastic we have disposed is somewhere out there in the world”, “Did you know that plastic can be recycled 50,000 times?” Amen to that!

Posted in Hari Katha, Little Moments, Milestones, Ram Leela

Big Boy Moment

To an onlooker, he is a little kid who crossed the road to deliver something to his neighbors. What’s the big deal, huh?  

To his parents, he is a five year old, who took responsibility for carrying a plateful of birthday cake, deftly balancing it in his tiny hands, to his favorite neighbors. “Hari, you don’t come with me, I want to go by myself,” he declared to his anna who was blissfully inhabiting an altogether different world that moment. Once out of the house, he quickly turned right, left and right to check for cars, crossed the road, and rang the doorbell. He waited for a minute, calmly and patiently, and then when the uncle opened the door, he narrated the reason for his coming and delivered the breaking news that he is a 5 years old now! He came back home with pride glinting in his eyes and his lips curving into a smile from having done something that only his anna was allowed to do. So yeah, it is a pretty big deal! To him. To his parents.

Speaking of big boy moments, two big milestones for Hari. He is now allowed to jog in the neighborhood and go to his friend’s house in the neighborhood without being accompanied by an adult. He is ready. We are ready, albeit reluctantly and cautiously. In other news, we learnt this weekend that Hari’s shoes size borders between Kids and Mens. I stared at the sales guy vacantly. What do you mean Mens? There is no Boys? No Young Adults? Shoes stores worldwide should adopt kinder practices and introduce an intermediate size to soften the blow for unsuspecting  parents like me who are helplessly watching time fleet and their kids growing by leaps and bounds right under their nose.


Posted in Experiences, Nature

Vern, the Traffic Calming Turkey


Vern, the turkey in this picture,  has been the subject of conversation in our neighborhood for the past several weeks. This big bird has been parading our streets up and down, halting traffic, pecking at cars, and terrifying passersby with his fearless and determined strides for the past few months. 

To strangers, he is a menace. To folks in the neighborhood, he is a pet that they don’t own. He is considered a blessing in disguise (slowing down traffic and making the neighborhood safe), his safety is on the top of the residents’ minds (a turkey crossing traffic sign has been posted on a busy street), and why, his picture is featured as the cover photo of the neighborhood Facebook page! All fingers are crossed on what his fate might be given that Thanksgiving is just around the corner. 

As for me, but for the pictures I take of him, I follow the principle of – you stay away from me and I stay away from you. But even I wonder – what it must be like to be the lone turkey? to be surrounded by creatures from a different species? to be in a habitat that is different from his natural home? is he lonesome? is he adapting? is he seeing a mate in his own reflection on the cars that he is pecking? Vern, the traffic zen master,  alone knows!

Posted in Hari Katha, Humor, Introspection, Little Moments

Writing and goals

We write about things that we strongly feel about. For some, it is people. For others, it is life experiences. Yet for others, it is places, books, movies or food. Want to know what evokes strong emotions for my 10-year old?! Check out the blurb he wrote in his school writing journal.

“I glared at my plate of brussel sprouts, my eyes narrowing into slits, my nose twitching at the putrid odor of the lime green nightmare. I couldn’t bear to imagine how it tasted and I could swear there was steam coming from my ears. “WHY DOES THE WORLD HAVE TO BE SO CRUEL!” I screamed.”

I laughed my heart out. And just for the record, I have made brussel sprouts a grand total of one time in all the ten years of this child’s life. It’s not the cook, it’s the vegetable!

On a related note, at the start of every school year, kids are encouraged to think about their hopes and dreams for the school year and are required to set one academic goal and one social goal. Hari’s academic goal for this year is to enjoy writing. He told me that the voice in his head moans and groans when he is asked to write something and that he wants to work on that attitude this year. It made me happy on several counts – that he is aware of his attitude, that he is willing to work on it, and that it has to do with writing. His social goal, in his words, is to hang out with kids that he has not hung out with before. Here’s to achieving those goals.

Posted in Experiences, Experiments, Introspection, Kids, Research

National Pledge

I was going over the Indian National Pledge in preparation of my culture class. This is how it goes.

India is my country.
All Indians, are my brothers and sisters.
I love my country and, I am proud of its rich and varied heritage.
I shall always strive to be worthy of it.
I shall give respect to my parents, teachers and elders and treat everyone with courtesy.
To my country and my people, I pledge my devotion.
In their well being and prosperity alone; lies my happiness

A part of me felt very sad that the pledge left the most important piece – self-respect. Respecting parents, teachers and elders are important and I stand by those values but isn’t respect for self equally important? Why does our culture not teach us to nurture the self? After all, aren’t we our worst critics? Isn’t self-compassion the hardest practice? shouldn’t we all be taught to listen to our inner voice? Isn’t being true to oneself the noblest of all virtues?

Well, I am not going to start a petition for changing the pledge. But I am a mom and I am a teacher. I can kindle minds, and that’s precisely what I intend to do!