Posted in Uncategorized

Sharing wisdom from Paulo Coelho

There is so much wisdom in this writing. There will be parts that will resonate with you, give it a read.


One always has to know when a stage comes to an end. If we insist on staying longer than the necessary time, we lose the happiness and the meaning of the other stages we have to go through.
Closing cycles, shutting doors, ending chapters – whatever name we give it, what matters is to leave in the past the moments of life that have finished.

Did you lose your job? Has a loving relationship come to an end? Did you leave your parents’ house? Gone to live abroad? Has a long-lasting friendship ended all of a sudden?
You can spend a long time wondering why this has happened.

You can tell yourself you won’t take another step until you find out why certain things that were so important and so solid in your life have turned into dust, just like that.
But such an attitude will be awfully stressing for everyone involved: your parents, your husband or wife, your friends, your children, your sister.
Everyone is finishing chapters, turning over new leaves, getting on with life, and they will all feel bad seeing you at a standstill.

Things pass, and the best we can do is to let them really go away.

That is why it is so important (however painful it may be!) to destroy souvenirs, move, give lots of things away to orphanages, sell or donate the books you have at home.

Everything in this visible world is a manifestation of the invisible world, of what is going on in our hearts – and getting rid of certain memories also means making some room for other memories to take their place.
Let things go. Release them. Detach yourself from them.

Nobody plays this life with marked cards, so sometimes we win and sometimes we lose.
Do not expect anything in return, do not expect your efforts to be appreciated, your genius to be discovered, your love to be understood.

Stop turning on your emotional television to watch the same program over and over again, the one that shows how much you suffered from a certain loss: that is only poisoning you, nothing else.

Nothing is more dangerous than not accepting love relationships that are broken off, work that is promised but there is no starting date, decisions that are always put off waiting for the “ideal moment.”

Before a new chapter is begun, the old one has to be finished: tell yourself that what has passed will never come back.
Remember that there was a time when you could live without that thing or that person – nothing is irreplaceable, a habit is not a need.
This may sound so obvious, it may even be difficult, but it is very important.

Closing cycles. Not because of pride, incapacity or arrogance, but simply because that no longer fits your life.

Shut the door, change the record, clean the house, shake off the dust.

Stop being who you were, and change into who you are.”

Paulo Coelho

Posted in Experiments, Introspection, Learnings, Me, Uncategorized, Wishes

My word for 2016

Last year, I chose “Discipline” to be my word of the year. I had grand plans when I chose it. I thought the word would propel me to greater heights and shed my weaknesses in all spheres of my life. I did well for the first month or so, from there it was a slippery slope. But there is learning in that failing too. I realized that I strive to be disciplined but I am an inherently indisciplined person. This means I need to work really hard, give it my all to cultivate that elusive trait.

This year, I am picking a word that is corollary to last year’s. And that would be “Detox”. I resolve to stay away from toxic thoughts, behavior, attitudes and habits. To take control of my eating habits. Get myself in better physical, mental and emotional health. To not stray in the land of social media. And to give it my all!


Posted in Us, Wishes

2015 Reflections and Happy 2016

Time just seems to roll by with unwavering commitment, untouched by all the drama that surrounds it. 2015 is over even before it sunk in.

We started the year with friends visiting us. Then for the first three months, it seemed like all we did was talk about and cope with the harsh winter weather. This meant that the first few weeks of spring were savored, every blade of grass, every ray of sunshine, filled us with inexhaustible love for nature. April to August was special reconnecting with friends. My very close friend visited us with her family, what a rare treat to spend all that time with her and hers!  I didn’t realize how excited I was to show her my town, my neighborhood, and our way of life here. In parallel, we squeezed a trip to picturesque California and historical Pennsylvania. The kind of vacation that combines people and place. Catching up with family and friends complimented by sightseeing and travel. We returned richer with experiences and perspectives. June and July were dedicated to my dance production. I have never worked that hard in my life, shedding sweat and tears, building my character and redefining my relationship with the art form. August was spent working on a fundraising event for the local library. I learnt that next to money, your skills are the next valuable asset if you want to contribute towards a cause or make a difference. Sept – Oct., school, work travel and holidays took turns to keep us on our toes. India trip was the highlight of Nov. Going back home after three years and seeing my parents, patti, and in-laws was emotional. That we got to spend time with my sil, nephew and niece was a nice bonus. We returned resolving to go back home often. I realized how much I love being in India. It’s truly an incredible place – so vibrant and rich in character. The first half of Dec. was about Chennai floods and the restlessness that it brought. We closed this year visiting the same friends that visited us in the beginning of the year.

It is with heartfelt gratitude that I ring out the old year. Immensely thankful for all the opportunities, the learnings and the fullness of life.

My wishes to you for the New Year – wisdom to let go things that you cannot control. Determination to work on things that you can control. Freedom from things that hold you back. Courage to pursue things that are close to your heart. Little moments that fill your heart and small victories that lift your spirits. Faith in your efforts and belief in your dreams. Meaningful relationships and dependable friendships. Peace and quiet. An open mind, a loving heart and a healthy body.

Posted in Books 2016, Inspiration, Learnings, Reading, Research, Uncategorized

MS – A Life in Music by T.J.S. George

As a child, I grew up listening to devotional songs by MS – the Hanuman Chalisa, the Ramnavali, the Suprabatham, and the Vishnu Sahasranamam. One of my proud mommy moments was when my 2-year old second born would regale us with the singing of the first few words of Bhaja Govindam by MS when he had barely begun to string words into sentences. Every once in a while, I would resolve to play her songs at home as steadfastly as my dad did, only to let it slip in the humdrum of life. 

MS, to me and to several others exposed to her mellifluous voice and divine rendition, is synonymous with devotion. A certain sense of peace pervades your being as you lose yourself to her singing. Little did I know that underlying that serenity were stormy forces and scandalous events that made MS a household name in south India.

In this biography, MS – A life in Music, author T.J.S. George has done a phenomenal job of writing the life story of MS in the context of the societal norms, the evolving performing arts, and the people in her life – notably her mom Shanmughavadivu, her husband Sadasivam, and her contemporaries.

I confess that half way through the book, a part of me wished that I had not started this book because I was worried that I would feel let down – I would form impressions of MS that I didn’t want to. But I am glad that I persisted because the rest of the book so beautifully reinforced how that her enablers (her mom and her husband) may have made calculated moves to make MS popular but that did not in anyway adulterate her dedication to her art . From the beginning to end, MS did what she knew best – being true to her music. With passion. With discipline. And devotion. Nothing else mattered to her. 

If you heart MS or are a music lover, this is the book for you. You will not only end up learning more about the legend but become more knowledgeable about the dynamics that shaped the carnatic music through generations. 

I leave you with few lines from the book that tugged at my heartstrings.

“Her involved non-involvement, her detached attachment somehow enhanced her beatific profile. She was Sadasivam’s wife, Rajaji’s disciplie, Kalki Krishnamurthi’s friend, but she was always MS. In the end, she herself was her music and her bhakthi. In the end she attained what the people around her seemed to miss – a sense of fulfillment. Sadasivam was successful and devout, but did he find ultimate fulfilment? Rajaji stayed for long at the top of political and social pyramids, but did he find the satisfaction of the true achiever?

A look at MS was enough to convince anyone that she had found herself. When she sang the Rajaji hymn “Kurai ondrum illai” it was like she was telling the world about herself and thanking her god for his blessings. One word occurred frequently in the language of those who met MS in her later years: Glow. Everyone talked about how she glowed from within. In the midst of frenetic life, she had found serenity. An aura of grace surrounded her.

Posted in Uncategorized

10 years and counting

This August marked my tenth work anniversary. Ten years of working in the same company and of juggling work and life. How has the journey been? what were some of the challenges we faced as a family? what have been my learnings?

Disclaimer: this is a long winding post, written mainly as a way of reflecting on the years that have gone by for my personal benefit.

To work or not to work? To each his own, right? There is no right or wrong answer to this question; just one that is based on your personal values, family values and circumstance, and the trade offs you are willing to make as a unit. Having a career, a 9 to 5 job, is important to me. I am an inherently lazy person, I need deadlines and external accountability to keep me going. Secondly, at least in my eyes, financial responsibility is a huge burden for one person to shoulder.  I have an acute need to contribute to the family coffers.  As a family, Da and I were/are willing to make the trade offs that having both the partners work entails without feeling like we are giving less to our children.  

Working versus stay-at-home mom. Over the years, I have wizened up to know that these are labels that society thrusts on us; unnecessary adjectives and discussions that only serve the purpose of sending moms on a guilt trip no matter what the choice. I am a mom. Period. I don’t want any adjectives associated with that role – super, good, bad, working,or stay-at-home. The decision to work or to stay at home is a hard one and comes with its pros and cons. You cannot have it all; you just have to accept responsibility for whatever choice you have made, trust yourself to do the best you can and be open to making changes as values evolve and circumstances change. Working or not, I am good in some spheres of parenting while I am a work-in-progress in others.

Work-life balance. My work place is generous with providing flexibility and has a leadership style that trusts its employees to do get things done. I have been working from home for the most part for the past two to three years. I can have all the flexibility I want but the bottom line is, it is commitment that I need to deliver no matter what else is happening in my life. There are days when work consumes me and there are times when family and non-work aspects of life take precedence. Seldom do the two sides balance but in the end it all balances out.  

Challenges. Working when the children were infants was by far the most challenging of times. Understandably so. Taking care of little humans who are dependent on you – physically and emotionally – consumes you wholly. There is no bandwidth to take on anything else. I just wish the system in US would allow for longer maternity breaks like some of the other countries so families can adjust to this life changing event. That being said, it was a choice, a hard choice, a well thought out choice, that we made and chose to live with – with guilt, apprehension, tears, sleep debt, stress and battling pesky germs. Sick days and school vacation days are other times when I wish I was hanging out with kids instead of delivering on work related commitments.  

Learnings. My work has made me a better person. It has taught me so many things. To go above and beyond and to work with integrity. To have people that I can look up to. To see first hand how bold dreams are built and executed. That change is constant. It has also infused a healthy dose of skepticism to my naivety.  It has taught me more about myself – that I am capable of stepping beyond my comfort zone, I am more tactical than strategic, and I work best when I have a mentor.

So after 10 years, what next? Honestly, I don’t have the slightest clue. For now, I am thankful for all the support I have received, and all the learnings that has happened.

Posted in Experiences, Hari Katha, Holidays, Learnings, Life, Little Moments, Uncategorized

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

christmas tree

We love Christmas. It’s like the Deepavali of our house. Last afternoon, I was mentally checking off my Christmas To-do list.

  • Serial lights – done.
  • Christmas tree with ornaments – done
  • Kids wish list – done
  • Da office party – done
  • Packing gifts – done
  • Cookies for Santa and carrot for Rudolph – done
  • Playing Christmas songs – done
  • Movies and Board games – work-in-progress
  • Voice message from Santa – done
  • Santa tracking – work-in-progress

I was feeling a little proud of ourselves for doing our part. Creating happy memories for the kids to fall back on in their adult life.

As if he read my mind, Hari came up to me and asked, “Amma, do you remember last Christmas?” Just the question I wanted to be asked. I was feeling a little smug and as I was about to give the scripted answer in my head, he continued, “You thittied me (scolded me) for not doing my Tamizh homework.”  What? When did that happen? Really? seriously? I did that? That’s what you remember from last Christmas?

Ouch!. Did you hear that huge thud? It was my soaring ego crash landing.

Memories is a strange thing – it chooses you, you don’t get to choose it. As a giver, I remember only the good, I have no memory of the bad and the ugly. But as a receiver, the bad and the ugly are imprinted in his memory. No amount of the good can erase it. The hope is the good ones are coexisting counter balancing the bad and the ugly.

Much needed reality check and a lesson in humility for the afternoon. Tell you, parenting is a very humbling experience.

On that note, a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2016. The kids will be up any minute here and I can’t wait to see the smile on their faces and the excitement in their voices. Tudlu, take care!

Posted in Hari Katha, Uncategorized, Wishes

Celebrating Hari


Hari turned 11 on Nov. 22nd. The child and his paternal patti share the same birthday per the lunar calendar. This year was her milestone b’day so we got together in India to mark the occasion.

I scanned through last year’s post and much of what I said about Hari last year continues to be true. His wit, sarcasm and buffoonery lighten my day like no other. He is a very perceptive child, especially when it comes to gauging his mom’s moods and temperament. He has an acute sense of fairness and ability to empathize. For instance, he got very upset in the airport during our recent India trip when the manager at Sri Krishna sweets yelled at his employee – “I felt like I had to speak up for him but didn’t know how to amma. He should not have talked to him like that. It’s not right.” Being the first born, he bears the brunt of birth order. He has to adjust but not expect adjustments in return. He has to use restraint although he is physically more capable. He is expected to do chores and be a good role model. For the most part, he is kind and compassionate, not only to his little brother but to kids much younger in age, never treating them with apathy.

All conversations these days have an undercurrent of wanting to be a grown up – “Mom, I think parents in India are not as overprotective as parents living in America”, “Amma do you think I could go to mama’s (uncle’s) place all by myself during the summer break?”, “Amma, I think I will weigh enough to sit in the front seat of the car next year, will you let me?” As much as he wants to grow up, not a night goes by when he doesn’t come up to me and asks me to cuddle up with him at bedtime. Or how much he needs his parents to be proud of his work – be it academics, sports or a project he has worked on.

Hari is who I think of when I get overwhelmed with things to do. Be it raking leaves, shoveling snow or micro cleaning the clutter at home, he rolls up his sleeves, and jumps right in. He doesn’t get some of the privileges that his friends get, namely, lavish screen time, generous treats and such. As much as he feels deprived, he understands and complies. Sometimes rebels.

That the days of being a young adult is not far off is becoming increasingly clear with every passing day. He is forming opinions, making judgments, and questioning boundaries. I am incredibly thankful for all the disagreements, the honest and candid conversations and how much we are learning from each other’s imperfections – his and ours, as I believe that this will be the foundation upon which his teenage and adult years will be built.

Hari – it has been another joyful year of raising you. We love you to bits and are proud of the person you are becoming. God bless you child. Always remember to be true to yourself!

Posted in Family, Uncategorized, Wishes

B’day Wishes

Celebrating one of the coolest and sassiest persons that I have ever known in my life – my mom-in-law. She turned 75 years young today. Arthritis has taken a toll on her knees but it hasn’t diminished her zest for life. A foodie by nature and a kid at heart, she is wise, sensible and progressive. She has an amazing ability to take things in stride and always chooses to be happy. Caring yet non-interfering. Loving but not imposing. If I am half as cool as she is, that would be something. Happy B’day amma. May you always be happy, healthy and young!

Posted in Uncategorized

Sigh of relief!

Sitting here, continents apart, it was surreal to watch the events in Chennai unfold last week. Intellectually, I knew the monsoon was happening in Chennai, yet a part of me was surprised every time I stepped out of the house here in the US – what happened to all the rain I read about? why am I not carrying an umbrella? Why are people around me not talking about what’s going on in Chennai? People are in distress, the city is drowning, how can we go about carrying on with our lives? Suffice to say that I was living more in the virtual world than the real one.

We were getting scraps of information about my family. We knew they were safe but we didn’t know if they had basic amenities. Were they able to manage with all the dependents in the household? Even as I was preoccupied with the well being of my family, it was inspiring to see citizenry in action. My friends, my cousin, they were all out there, providing what relief they could. I was beaming with pride as I saw Chennaites embrace the principle of Nammake Naamme. In so many ways, the calamity strengthened the spirit and character of the city.

After a week of not being able to get in touch with them, I was relieved to speak to my family last night and this morning. They said their neighborhood wasn’t as badly affected as some of the others and that they were able to manage with what they had. I am immensely thankful for the little mercies that touched them this past week and saved them from further hardships.

As the city is reeling back to life, I send my prayers for my family and the city so they can overcome the tides of the aftermath – the water contamination, the mosquitoes, the corruption, the scarcity and other unexpected challenges. Take care Chennai.

Posted in Experiences, Family, Gratitude, Life, Uncategorized

Chennai updates

We have not been able to reach our folks yet. But a small ray of sunshine cracked through the grey clouds. My classmate’s family who lives in the same neighborhood as my parents gave some real time updates. No serious flooding or waterlogging issues as of now. Few local stores are open. The only big issue is loss of power.

Yesterday was my nephew Amrit’s b’ day. Poor thing, my brother could not get in touch with his family to wish him for his b’day. I have been mentally going over the logistics. They had ordered a crate of mineral water when I left on Sunday. That’s pretty much what they have for cooking and drinking for 4 adults and 2 kids. Now that I know a few stores are open, perhaps they were able to get more supplies. I know they are good with other supplies – rice, dhals etc. Amrit is on formula so that’s good. Shraddha will need milk. The adults are probably eating less to minimize use of toilet. Wonder how they are dealing with patti – if she has her laxative she will have high toilet use, not having is not sustainable for her health. And the mosquitos, the kids had big bites with the fan and a/c on. Perhaps, they have gained immunity by now?

There was a rumour about crocodiles escaping from the crocodile bank. Fake news. Hard to know what is reliable information and what is not. If you are not sure of the news source, please err on the side of not passing it along. Something is NOT better than nothing in this case.

It’s going to be ok. We are one day closer for this phase to pass. They will be strong. We will be strong for them.