Posted in Uncategorized

Happy 2019

Detached attachment to see things as they are without getting lost in the stories.  Second chances to learn, grow and evolve. A fresh start that frees you from the shackles of the past.  A place of strength and calm from within to lift your spirits. Small consistent daily habits that multiply over time. Fine health, robust mind, and a sharp intellect. Friends, family and faith. Love, care, and tenderness.

Wishing you all these and more in 2019 and beyond!

Posted in Inspiration, Intentions, Introspection, Us

Word of the Year

My word of the year for 2018 is US. The goal was to be more engaged with Da, Hari, and Ram and to prioritize the family over other pursuits. If you ask them, they probably can’t tell the difference nor do I have anything tangible to report. Mostly, I have been working on my mindset, observing myself, making mental notes when I lapse, and learning from folks who do it so naturally. In that sense, I do feel like I have grown. I pay more attention, I consciously prioritize and set intentions.  I still can be very clueless about what’s happening at school, but we are constantly talking about dreams, challenges, little discoveries, and other silly banter. I have checked relatively more things in our household projects and have learnt that it’s a bottomless pit. As far not taking out on Da, that has been the toughest to work on. When you are married to someone for years, there is so much wear and tear to the relationship, so many things taken for granted, so much sense of entitlement. And  even when you think there is space, mutual respect, and love,  it is crowded with preconceived notions, and unconscious expectations. I am trying to do better and be nicer. There is always room for improvement, and it will happen over time. Today, I am celebrating the learnings, the journey and the practice.

For 2019, I am picking HABITS as the word of the year. I will work on my own  habits, and help the kids build their daily habits. What we do every day matters, it compounds over time (thanks to James Clear for drilling this in my head). Sticking to everyday routine with discipline is important because it frees up time and mindspace to do the finer things in life. Eating right, getting enough sleep, staying physically active, every single day, whether you like it or not, whether you are in the mood for it or not, is worth striving for. Then of course, there is habit of dance, practicing trumpet, reading, so on and so forth. We will work on them. One habit at a time.

Do you have a word of the year?

 

Posted in Experiences, Family, Gratitude, Intentions, Introspection, Learnings, Little Moments, Milestones, Us

2018 Year end report

Time for year end review post. What were the mile markers in this year’s journey? How did we do as a family?

The year started with all of us settling down in our renovated house. It was a humongous relief getting the house to ourselves after living with the construction noise, clutter, dust, uncertainty, and intrusion for close to six months. We hosted our immediate and extended family for Hari’s poonal function, our neighbors for thanksgiving, and are hosting the weekly Destination Imagination meetings. Many evenings, we are huddled together in the home office to finish up on commitments related to school, work and others. Weekends are spent watching movies as a family cosying up in the media portion of the attic.  The day is not complete without Da and Hari chilling out in the attic tossing a few balls and hitting a few shots in the attic. Ram has made use of every inch of his room, and has been royally kicking us out should we not honor the rules that he has set. All in all, incredibly thankful for the big and little moments that the renovation had made it possible for us.

Soon after that we got knee deep in poonal preparations. It was a ton of work, money and planning. It was an enjoyable and learning experience. It was a very humbling one too because you realize it takes many hands and all stars to align to make it happen. Lucky for us, our friends and family were such troopers! Loved loved having all the little humans gathered under our roof. Every once in a while, we, meaning I, guilt Hari into doing his sandhi or atleast the Gayathri mantram. Other than that, post poonal life has been business as usual for the chap.

We had Aaru and family stay with us for an additional month, and my parents for the next few months. T.H.A.N.K.F.U.L for the joy, for the bonding, and for the opportunity. And oh, our yard saw some pruning, trimming and planting, all credit goes to amma and Da. They made my dream of having rose bushes in the front yard happen. We did local stuff and celebrated festivals with appa and amma. Hari and Da went to San Francisco and Washington DC for cricket tournaments.

Fall went by in a blur with back to school, navratri, diwali, halloween and thanksgiving. A ton of stuff packed in these months, there was hardly any time to breathe.

Hari and Ram have lapped up all the affection they got from the family during their stay and have lavished them in return. They have been working hard on school and other activities. Private baseball did not work out for Hari this year but he has channeled all that energy towards cricket. School is keeping him on his toes. He has taken advanced math course and that’s been the training ground for him and us as a family for high school. Ram’s academics has ramped up too. His sole mission is to do all things required of him, so he can just relax and get bored. And I can tell you, there is no better motivator than that! Da has done well, and the highlight for him is taking up managing the Destination Imagination for a small group of kids. It is not easy work and I proud of him for doing it with enthusiasm, without an iota of resentment. As far me, the year was a mixed bag. Worked on a really interesting project at work during the first six months. I could not take up dance class due to schedule conflicts. I helped organize the diwali event for the town this year. I embraced a little bit more of technology in Sunday school. I have languished on my eating and workout habits. Going easy on myself is not an approach that works for me. Lesson learnt!

How did your 2018 go? What are you proud of? What are some lessons your learnt? 

Posted in Gratitude, Holidays, Kids, Uncategorized

Early Christmas

“I guess so,” came the reluctant response from Ram when I asked him if he was excited about Santa. “Is it ok if I don’t write a letter to Santa this year? I just don’t feel like it,” said the child. My heart cracked a little. “Of course, you don’t have to if you don’t want to, but how about cookies? Do you want to do the cookies and carrot thing,” I asked him tentatively. “Let’s bake them amma. I want us to bake cookies for Santa,” chimed in Hari who was listening to our conversation. The much needed glue for my cracked heart. “Alright, let’s do that then.”  

And so we baked this evening. Ram and I. The child gobbled several and placed one under the tree. No insisting on milk or carrot though. Well, what can I say, much fun was had as long as the magic lasted. Time to let go what we have outgrown and embrace new traditions.

We are celebrating Christmas early this year as we are traveling. There are presents from family and friends waiting to be opened. The kids have gone to bed in anticipation and I know they will be up at the crack of dawn.

Have a jolly time you all!

Posted in Hari Katha, Uncategorized

The World Stops (Embracing Change – part 5)

In early September,

Mona and I were enjoying some brunch

Just like friends in the USA do

 

Suddenly I felt like something was wrong

I felt like that the whole had stopped

I knew that something disastrous had occurred

I could feel it

 

Suddenly, my new Nokia rang

It was Ard

Did you hear what happened?

 

My head was spinning, I did not know what was happening

Looking across,

I saw the same look on Mona’s face

Some terrorist took down the Twin Towers

It was Ard

My face immediately became as large as dinner plates

I could not believe it!

The tallest building in the world

Destroyed?

 

What would people think

When they see an immigrant like me

Who in their opinion

May look like a terrorist?

 

I gave myself a reassuring smile

I should know not to digress like that

I have been through so much

And an attack

Will not prevent me

From being a successful person

 

I know that whenever I am faced with change

I should not panic

I should embrace it!

Some context: What do you remember the most about the year you came to the US? Can’t beat 9/11, can I? I was lunching with my friend and Da had called. 

Posted in Uncategorized

A New Hope (Embracing Change – Part 4)

Since I am an immigrant

I am not allowed to

Have a legal job yet

So I volunteer at a homeless shelter

 

On my first day, I feel like a mouse surrounded by cats

What will people make of an Indian woman?

Will they judge?

I nervously walk into the entrance of the shelter

Not knowing what to expect

 

In the shelter, there were names posted

Of people who would volunteer

 

I optimistically scoured the list of names

Hoping to see an

Arjun, Arun, Aarav, Rama or a Parvathi

 

But instead I was met with names like

Chris, Dave, Matt, Suzy, Joe and Bob

So different

 

As I got to the last name on the list

I almost did a happy dance

I read the name out loud

Mona Mehta

Finally!

A name that resonated with me!

 

As I looked at the volunteers trickling in,

My eyes fell on one

Her skin was like chocolate

Her hair the color of a crow

Just like me

As her eyes laid on me,

She gave me a wink

 

I knew from that moment

That we would be good friends

My roller coaster ride in the US

Was about to go up

Some context: came here on a dependent visa. Not being able to work was the most difficult thing to get used to. But I volunteered, and in the process made a life long friend. 

Posted in Hari Katha, Uncategorized

A Unique Milestone (Embracing Change – Part 3)

Today is April 28

Which is also my birthday

I find it integral

To take the time

To reflect on my peregrination

From my childhood days

 

I lived in an exquisite town by the name of Trichy

Situated near Madras

 

I lived in a tall brick house

On a 100 feet road

 

I owned a twenty-inch TV

Where I would watch movies

During the weekend

I really looked forward to that

 

But now

All movies

Have actors as pale as milk

And speak with a weird accent

It is so different

 

I always put pressure on myself

When it comes to academics

For I know

What I am capable for me

Sometimes it is a challenge

Other times it is rewarding

 

As a treat

My parents

Would take me to the movies

And we would go to a restaurant

As a treat

I really looked forward to that

 

But now

My parents

Are on the other side of the world

And I am too old for school

I miss the good old days

Things are so different

Some context: What were some of your favorite memories? Watching oliyum oliyum, chitrahaar, hindi movies on Saturdays, tamil movies on Sundays, going out for movies after exams.

Posted in Uncategorized

Standing Out (Embracing Change – Part 2)

A month after settling in America

Ard brings home a guest

 

With a face as white as a ghost

Leather jacket

Peach beard

Eyes the color of the sky

 

Ard introduces me to him

His name is Tim

 

Glad that my husband made friends

I tried to show as much graciousness as possible

I tried to create conversation

 

Where are you put up?

 

It was a simple question

One we Indians ask frequently

 

However, his reaction was a nonconformity to me

His lips turned into questioning frown

I could sense Ard stiffen

I knew that I had made a mistake

Speaking out like that

 

Yet I did not know what had happened

 

Later, Ard informed me

And spoke to me

English in India is different from the English in the USA

People do not use that phrase

It is confusing to Americans when you say that

 

Ask “Where do you live” instead

 

Taking what he told me in

I felt a new sense of loneliness

I felt the world was so much different

Although we humans are all so similar

 

From then on

I felt

Settling in the US is easier said than done

Some context: What were some things that took you by surprise? Although people understood my english they did not understand how phrased the questions. I knew my accent was different but was surprised that how I phrased the question was different. 

Posted in Hari Katha, Uncategorized

Mixed Feelings (Embracing Change – Part 1)

Today is my last day living in India

No longer will I be

Under the influence of my parents

No longer will I be

The same little girl

That roamed the streets of India

That would hold her parents’ hands

That was afraid of being lost in a crowd

 

I am now a strong independent woman

Who no longer needs her parents to protect her

 

All my childhood memories

All of my encounters with people

Will vanish like a pot of curry during dinner

I will have to start from square one

 

My feelings represent the taste of a grapefruit

It tastes sweet as sugar, just like sweetness of the opportunities I will soon get

But bitter at the same time, just like the bitterness of leaving everything in India

And starting a new life

 

I look at my husband Ard

Who gives me a reassuring smile

I give farewells to my teary eyed family

 

Going to America is now a reality

Some context: I remember Hari had asked what were you most scared of as a child, and I had mentioned fear of getting lost in the crowd, in a bus. How did you feel leaving India? Excited and terrified at the same time. It is not easy leaving your life behind, I had told him.

Posted in Gratitude, Hari Katha, Little Moments, Uncategorized

A gem

As I was sorting through a mountain of papers in our home office, a handmade book stood out, taunting me to pick it up. It was titled “Embracing Change – a story based on the life of Maha by Hari (her son)” The cover had a picture of me as a 6 year old, with an arrow pointing to a picture of me from two years back. Ha, it slowly jogged the memory of what went into the making of that book. It was a book of poem with yours truly as a subject in the context of immigration. Hari had written it for his World Geo assignment last year (seventh grade). I remember Hari interviewing me, asking me to share the nitty gritties of my life story prior to and soon after coming to the US, asking me very specific questions. He spent a ton of time getting to know my story and internalizing it. The output was a five page, close to 950 words poem.

“A treasure… a lovely gift/tribute for your mother,” commented the teacher. I don’t think I appreciated it as much last year when he actually wrote it.  I mean I was touched but I was nitpicking on the grammar and the facts rather than appreciating the underlying intent. Today, in hindsight, I realize, being the subject of this poem has been the greatest honor of my life!

I will share this poem in five different posts here. Not to flaunt him but because this blog has sort of become the book of my life where I jot down all things close to my heart. The poem is poignant, in parts funny. Although it is in my voice, the child has taken some poetic license.