Posted in Me, Writing

Tall Tale

My town library is celebrating its 150th b’day. At a time when the town did not even have a sewage system, its members came together to open a library. Pretty amazing, isn’t it? As part of the celebrations, the library has come up with several programs. One of which is submitting a Tall Tale around late returns to waive the overdue fine.

No prizes for guessing if I have accumulated fine or not. Here goes my Tall Tale.

Her fantasy. Wrapped in the softest of sleep robe, she would curl up with the library book in hand, eagerly thumbing through the pages as though there is no tomorrow.

He reality. Wrapped in the softest sleep robe, she curls up next to her offspring, with the library book by her bedside. The warmth of the little human wraps her in a cocoon of love, and before she rests her head on the pillow, she is sailing off to dreamland. The book by her bedside waits for tomorrow, just like the previous day. To be read, to be devoured. And the fine in her account piles, slowly but steadily, one dime at a time!

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Posted in Uncategorized

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

Reading this book was a roller coaster experience. The first 100 pages were truly difficult to read, and left me scratching my head. There was much ado about nothing. Why, oh why, has he devoted so many pages to that smelly boatman? I wanted to pull my hair out. My husband who had read the book as a college graduate gave me an empathetic nod. So ok, it’s not me then!

With that validation, I started plodding along, and somewhere along the way, the tangled web that he was weaving, and that play with words started taking a hold on me. With a boatload of characters, realism, special powers, political turmoil, twists and turns, it was hard work to keep up with the talkative Salim, the narrator and the protagonist. You are emotionally invested in the story.

In the end, you can’t help but admire Rushdie’s knack with words, and vivid imagination. How even when there are so many characters, they don’t feel unnecessary. Each of them has a role to play. And above all, just when he has made you laugh, he makes you cringe or strikes you with a tragedy. The seesaw of emotions you experience with the story sometimes makes you get angry with Rushdie.

I am not rating this book for now. I need to go back and savor it in bits and pieces to appreciate the nuances. Without being on the edge, without my reading prejudices. Defintiely give this book a shot, it will challenge you to be a patient reader.

Posted in Gratitude, Little Moments

LMT

10 days into the new year already. Day by day, our overall workload is ramping up. Pausing for a serving of little moments from this week. 

  • “Ram, why do you have that pillow on the side in your bunk bed,” I asked him annoyed at the clutter. “My hand gets tired when I am reading amma, this pillow is to rest my hand and hold the book at the right angle,” he replied leaving me amused. “And why do you have books tucked under your pillow. If you remove them, you can sleep comfortably, right?” I rested my case. “It’s ok amma. It’s not uncomfortable. When I wake up early, I am too lazy to get down and grab a book. This way I can just be lazy and read in my bed.” Gotta love this planned deliberate laziness! Gave me a chuckle and a smile a mile long.
  • Have you read about the Love Languages by Gary Chapman?  It came up in one of the workshops that the middle school conducted. Curious to know my Love Language, I took the quiz and so did Hari. It sounds cheesy but trust me, give it a shot. You will learn something about yourself. It can be done with partners or with your child. The premise being not all of us love and expect to be loved in the same manner. By understanding our love languages, we can enrich our relationships. It makes a lot of sense to me.  Now that I know Hari’s love language I will go an extra mile to express my love for him in a language he appreciates. Want to know mine? Mine is Acts of Service and Quality Time. It was somewhat of a aha moment! Now I just need to convince Da to take the quiz, who of course looks at it with disdain.
  • Set up my new iPhone XR from work. I am not a lover of gadgets, but even for me it was nice to play with a new toy.  My eyes lit up whenever I discovered a new feature.
  • A NY ritual that I picked from my dad is sending out new year wishes to near and dears. Once a year, I send lengthy emails updating folks about the happenings in my life. One or two respond generally respond, and I have felt a bit silly about writing long emails. But this year, a  few more folks responded and cared enough to provide a general update on their life. Their life changes were so inspiring and galvanized me into action.

Tudlu for now. I still have a couple of Costa Rica posts in my head that I hope to pen down here. 

Posted in Experiences, Family, Gratitude, Life, Loss, Memories

A full life

In the company of her children, Raji patti passed away yesterday. Amma said she witnessed her last breath, rising from her belly, traveling through her chest, escaping out of her mouth. The next  moment she was lifeless.

Patti had been steadily deteriorating and all signs of end of life was there. And it was getting clearer last morning that it was just a question of time. Everybody surrendered to the ultimate reality and was by patti’s bedside reciting Vishnu Sahasranamam  when I spoke to appa and amma last.. Barely clinging to her life, and with likely some suffering from within, she seemed to have acknowledged everyone and even faintly smiled.

I am grateful that she is not in pain anymore. I am grateful that she lived a full life and that my children, especially Hari, has memories of her.  I am grateful for all the love she showered and the prayers she offered for us. I am grateful that my mama provided top notch care for her. I am grateful that my parents visited her whenever they could, and were fully present for her.

I was not as close to my maternal patti as I was to my paternal patti. But there was love, affection, blessings, well wishes, food and a childhood filled with indulgences. Last time I visited, which was several years back, I remember enjoying every morsel of the meal she had cooked, and I made sure I told how much I relished her cooking, although I did not quite appreciate it as a child.  I brought with me her exquisite bead work, which will always have a place in my gollu and in my heart. Amma told me how people have been pouring in with high praise for her generosity. She had truly won many hearts. 

Rest in Peace patti. Love you and miss you.

With none of my grandparents surviving anymore, I  feel like a layer of my safety net has been pulled from under my feet. And I tell myself, I will carry each of them with me in my own way.  Lord Rama and bakshanam will always remind me of Nana thatha.  I will work on green corner, and our yard thinking of Babu thatha’s love for plants.  I will put in a little more effort to be in touch with my extended family just like Andu patti did. Raji patti always expressed love through the food she served, and she inspires me to put in more love in my cooking. 

I feel so lucky to have had a rich childhood filled with memories and indulgences from my grandparents.

Posted in Experiences, Family, Introspection, Learnings, Little Moments, Memories, People, Research, Travel, Trying, Us

Goldstars

Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth in Happier with Gretchen podcast have a segment called Goldstar and Demerit. Think of Goldstar as a pat on the shoulder or a smiley face 🙂 and a Demerit as a kick on the bottom or a frowning face 🙁. In a fit of silliness, I started doling out Goldstars and Demerits to the kids during the trip and somehow it has caught on. Every now and then, the boys now come up to me and ask , “Do I get a Goldstar for cleaning up?” “Do I get a Goldstar for doing my homework on time?” I think it is beginning to mean something to them, I can see their eyes shining at the mention of Goldstar. Funny, what started of as a joke is evolving into something more meaningful. 

Why not some travel related Goldstars to all of us?

  • Goldstar to Da, for taking the plunge, and booking the tickets. I kept dilly dallying, procrastinating and feeling utterly overwhelmed. Not knowing where to begin, I conveniently resorted to inaction. Also, Goldstar to Da for constantly making conversations with the Ticos to get local knowledge on places to visit. Thanks to him, we visited the botanical garden and learnt about the artisans shops, which we would not have uncovered otherwise.
  • Goldstar to Hari, for carrying us through this trip with his spanish. He has had only two years of training at school, so is not an expert by any stretch of imagination. Yet, he conversed with the driver, the shopkeepers, and the restaurant folks. Thanks to him, we did not feel the pinch of visiting a country that spoke an unfamiliar language. Mighty proud of him!
  • Goldstar to Ram, for being a trooper. The child had ear infection, bronchitis, and was coughing throughout the trip. But he held on, did not complain, and was eager to take in the travel.  
  • Goldstar to yours truly, for ensuring the house was in order before we left and that our routine would be seamless following our return. I also read up a lot and familiarised myself with the Costa Rican culture prior to the trip.
  • Goldstar to my friends, P and V. We went to Costa Rica from New Jersey. P’s place in NJ is like a second home for us. We go there without even packing our toiletries. Not only did we have a good time there, P helped us with all things that we would need before and after travel. My childhood friend V, did the housekeeping for us here, and welcomed us with home cooked meals and groceries for this week. Truly, I have the best of friends!
Posted in Experiences, Gratitude, Holidays, Little Moments, Travel

Ola Amigos (LMT post)

Hope all of you have had a good start to the new year. We are rolling up our sleeves after a rested, relaxed, and rejuvenating vacation. We sneaked in an extra week of summer by visiting Costa Rica over the holidays. There is a lot that I want to jot down here and I hope to do so over the course of this week. Today being Thursday and all that,  how about I get started with some little moments from the trip?

  • The novely of visiting a new country, culture, and lanugage. So much to see, observe, and soak in.
  • That feeling of namba ooru right from the get go. Costa Rica is a cross between US and India. As we were driving from the airport to our hotel, Da and I kept pointing out how the roads  reminded us of 100 feet road (in Chennai), and Attapur (in Hyderabad). There were two wheelers, soda shops (roadside tea shops like back home), banana trees, and christmas decorations. That feeling of being in US and India at the same time!
  • And oh the weather, with the right amount of sunshine and breeze, it was just what I was craving for. The mountains were slightly colder and the beaches hotter, but all in all, pleasant, mild, and enjoyable.  
  • Ripe juicy delicious papayas as part of the breakfast at the hotel. I could not have enough of it! And not to mention the gallo pinto (Costa Rican dish made of rice and beans – really yum). This, I could have enough of, for there is only so much beans the stomach is capable of handling!
  • Meeting the super friendly Ticos (as the Costa Ricans call themselves). Our travel agent at the the hotel, the tour guides, the vendors at the shops. Laughters and hugs were exchanged over the course of the week!
  • Being so close to nature, be it the rainforest that was brimming with life or the sandy beaches that mesmerised us with its vastness. I just kept wishing I was a botanist, naturalist, I would have appreciated the place at a different level. But even for a novice like me, the beauty of Costa Rica was not lost.
  • Shopping, shopping, and more shopping. Costa Rica is known for coffee, wood, and folk art. The municipal artisan shopping center would have had about 100 vendors, all selling similar stuff (like Pondy Bazaar in Chennai). Some retail therapy enhanced the experience, I must confess.

Truly, travel expands our understanding of the world and helps us see it through a fresh set of eyes.  Costa Rica, muchas gracias (thank you very much) for the good times! Pura Vida!