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Nov. 29 – Normally, we have company for Thanksgiving. So I was mildly disappointed when that was not going to happen this year. But sometimes, life has a way of giving you what you need rather than what you want.  In our case, it was family time, rest and relaxation, and catching up with long standing household projects. Immensely thankful…! 

Nov. 30 – I breathe in and breathe out. The act of slowing down my breath, relaxes the muscles on my face. I focus on my breath, it takes me away from my wandering thoughts. I say a prayer of gratitude to the powers above. For everything under the sun and nothing in particular. 

Om Sarveśām Svastir Bhavatu

Sarveśām Shāntir Bhavatu

Sarveśām Pūrnam Bhavatu

Sarveśām Maṇgalam Bhavatu

Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

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Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. So much to be grateful for, most of all to be drenched in love and kindness. Today, everyday, and always! 

How did you spend your day today? I slowed down, read, cleaned, talked, and relaxed. 

  • Read Daddykins, a poignant memoir set in Chennai. Heartwarming!
  • Whatsapp with appa and amma. Reassuring!
  • Catching up with my niece and nephew. Endearing!
  • Deep cleaning Ram’s room while catching up on podcasts. Productive!
  • Nice long conversation with a good friend. Authentic!
  • Temple visit with the family. Bliss!
  • Veggie podi dosai, vadai for dinner at the temple. Happiness!
  • Watching Percy Jackson with the family. Togetherness!

Hope you all had a day that was as special as mine.

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Continuing with gratitude prompts

Nov. 23 – What do you like about the current season? That it gives us more opportunities to be under the same roof without the temptations to stay outdoors for extended periods. No chauffeuring around for different sports related activities. There is spring and summer to look forward to. 

Nov. 24 – What happened today that you are grateful for? I shook my inertia and pushed myself to catch up on my weekend chores – chopping veggies, which seemed like a never ending task, getting chapati dough ready, and making salad boxes. My future self would be very thankful for sweating it out during the weekend so the weekday routine can flow seamlessly. It was not easy but I am thankful I picked up my slackness. 

Nov. 25 – What about your home are you grateful for? The people who live in it, without them the home would be a house, all stuff and no spirit. 

Nov. 26 – What do you love about your parents? When it was time, they let go of me with grace, and with full faith in my abilities. They gave me the space and freedom to become the person I am today. Eternally grateful for that.

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I am a mom of a 15 year old. I have a high school freshman at home. They all mean the same thing, don’t they? That I am his mom and he is my cherished one. In that sense even when time is fleeting at lightning speed, being a parent is timeless, isn’t it? Whether they are 1,10, 20, or 70 years old, you love them with all your heart, with every fiber in your being, and you want nothing but the best for them. And as the years roll by, you get to see how the seed you have planted is growing nice and strong in ways that you would not have imagined. 

Last weekend, I was having a full blown meltdown. I was inadequately prepared for judging a debate tournament and I was taking it way too seriously. Hari gave me some tricks of the trade, and asked to hold my hands, like how I hold his hands when he is getting ready for a big day, to set intentions. It is a practice in our house. It’s a moment we take to collect ourselves, take stock of the big picture, set intentions, and calm our nerves. “You will enjoy the experience. You will do well, and even if you don’t, it’s ok. It will be a learning experience,” he said closing his eyes, holding my hands firmly.  I should have been the one holding his hands, calming him down, preparing him for his tournament. HE was the ONE debating. But there we were, our roles clearly reversed. I felt embarrassed at my own immaturity but I also felt a wave of gratitude wash over me. This child of mine knows how to be there for someone in their time of need. 

As I was getting ready for my India trip last month, he came up to me and said, “Amma, I feel like I am setting you out in the world all by yourself. I feel so protective of you,” I hugged him tight and reassured him that all will be well and he should not be worrying about me. Remember, I am the mom? But inwardly, I was soaking in the unadulterated tender, love and care showered on me.

Every Friday evening, Da and Hari are off for cricket practice. The practice starts late and ends late. By the time they return, I have drifted away to dreamland. And every single time, he would come pounding up to me to the attic and would narrate stories from his practice. He could rest, have something to eat or just go to bed. Instead, he would come up to me eager to catch up. I am deeply grateful that he is eager to share his life with me without me asking for it. Reassuring and comforting, when the thought of him leaving for college in a few years strike me. 

As he grows up, the dynamics of our relationship is changing. He is becoming a close friend, my well wisher. Someone with whom I can be me. We have our insider jokes, we laugh at our imperfections, and we binge watch and discuss Dwight and Jim (from Office). We roll our eyes and we gang up. He gets me. I get him. 

Hari works hard. He has a good heart. He knows to be there for you. He is easy going. He is perceptive. He is ours. And we are lucky to be his parents. 

Happy b’day Hari. Thank you for being YOU. So proud of the person you are becoming. Love you to the moon and back. 

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More gratitude

I am taking UL’s prompts for this set of gratitude posts. Thank you UL for creating and sharing. 

Nov. 18 – What is your favorite family activity that you did recently? Drooling over cakes and confectionery! For the past few weekends, as a family we have been hooked to the reality baking show, Sugar Rush, on Netflix. The creativity that goes into the making of the cakes is simply mind blowing. Come Saturday evening, the four of us are glued to the show with dinner plates in our hands, teaming up to root for our favorite teams, and making grand baking plans which seldom materialize.  Gratitude for the moments of togetherness with my favorite people. 

Nov. 19 – What book are you grateful for reading? All the board books and chapter books that my children and I have read together.. The Good Night Gorilla, The Belly Button, Green Eggs and Ham, and so many of them.  We read at all times (at breakfast, at bedtime, after school, before school bus) and everywhere (home, school, airports, doctor office, why even movie halls..!) Gratitude to a lifetime of bonding that was built over the foundation of these books.

Nov 20 – What modern convenience are YOU most grateful for? So many things to choose from. My thank you for today goes to online shopping. No need to sit in traffic, drive around to find a parking spot, and interact with other grumpy shoppers. I am happy to shop at the click of a button from the convenience of my warm and toasty house. That too gets delegated to the better half a lot of times. Doesn’t get any easier than this, does it? 

Nov 21 – What spiritual gifts are you grateful for? Anything that connects you to you is spirituality, right? The spiritual gifts that I am grateful for is the freedom that come from paying attention to the breath, the stillness of nature, the opportunity to know myself through my dance,  and teachers who resonate  and influence (Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra). Deep gratitude to these spiritual gifts that add the most important dimension to my life that I would not have known otherwise. 

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Regular programming resumes

Between jet lag, and transitioning to routine here, I couldn’t prioritize the writing of my daily gratitude posts although the sentiment was very much alive and kicking within me. 

Nov. 14 – Thankful that I reached safe and sound, with relatively small hiccups, to my ultimate sanctuary, my home, my family. Those tight hugs, loud kisses, the craving to be together, that feeling of being loved, cared for, and wanted. Deep deep gratitude for my Jing Bang gang. 

Nov. 15 – While it is full steam ahead with new challenges, grateful that the first day back to work was just about catching up with hundreds of emails that had come in. 

Nov. 16 – Thankful for the intellectual and spiritual high I experienced today. The intellectual high was from judging three rounds of debating tournament. It was my first time, I was a bundle of nerves. I knew I would like the experience but I didn’t quite expect how very intellectually stimulating it would be. Love that parenting gives me learning experiences and opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. The spiritual high was from watching a bharatanatyam recital by none other than Rama Vaidyanathan. It was soul nourishing! A class of her own, and I saw her at such proximity – how very lucky I am! 

Nov. 17 –   Grateful for : 

  • Two hours of much needed nap in the afternoon for my jet lagged body that is still very much operating at India time zone leaving me with fragmented sleep and an aching body. 
  • A quality evening with the family. After all the hugging and rejoicing the day I landed, we had to move on – school, work, cricket practice, birthday party, scouts, debating, Sunday school. It was therapeutic to finally sit down together in the same room and have a shared experience even if it was just watching T.V..
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Little moments

As I am wrapping up my last day here, I send a heartfelt thank you to the powers above. So many things had to fall in place for me to have the experience I had and not for a minute do I take it for granted.

Recounting the little moments that made my trip.

– Exclusive time with appa and amma in their turfs like my undergrad years

– Glimpse of Da and the kids on WhatsApp and exchanging updates

– Reconnecting with friends and cousins and understanding their life here.

– Bhelpuri and Chat papdi. Rava dosai and Irani chai. Paneer soda and nanaro shatbath. Kathrika kai and more katharikai. Guava and Sita pazham

– Window shopping at spencers, real shopping at Sundari silks.

– Tirupathi Devasthanam and Sharadambal kovil

– Conversation with auto and taxi drivers – two way exchange of information

– helping amma discover the world of smart phones

Wrappung up for now.

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Taste of India

If you take 18 as a cut off for being an adult, I have spent 5 years of my adult life in India. The rest of the 18 years have been in the US. The several times I have visited, I have stayed as a tourist, insulated from the everyday business of living here.

This time around, I got a real taste of India. I won’t blame you if you find my post snobbish but I do want to clarify upfront that it comes from a place of observing the contrasting experiences rather than from a place of judgment.

I tag teamed with Aaru to take care of outstanding paper work at a national bank. Suffice to say, customer is NOT the king but on the contrary is at the mercy of the bankers. What had to be a two hour job, to be done by one person, took two days and four people. I am told the experience tends to be positive in a private bank. Thank God for that choice then!

The first time that I heard that children aspiring for IIT and other highly esteemed engineering institutes take 12 to 13 hours of classes per day, seven days a week, I fell off my chair. What an overwhelming burden is being placed on these young shoulders? And it costs an arm and leg. How about folks who cannot afford? Perhaps the specific institute was an extreme example. As I listened more, it started making sense. Not whether it is right or wrong, but about why it is the way it is – a simple demand and supply equation. Too many students, too few seats. It is true that on the other side of the ocean, getting into Ivy league is no cake walk and kids work super hard and get very stressed out in the last two years of high school but somehow there it feels like every person has a space that they can thrive in. I hope that my inference about the dynamics in India comes from not knowing the full story and that there is silver lining that I am missing.

There is traffic and more traffic. My friend spends an hour and half, hops on several modes of transportation, just to cover one way of her commute. Imagine doing the same after working all day when traffic only gets worse and your energy level has plummeted.

For people who can afford, everyday living has gotten easier. Food and groceries delivered at your doorstep. Manpower is plenty, almost any work can be done with hired help. Amazon is so the way of shopping.

Whatever homes that I went to in Chennai did not have plastic covers. It’s all banned. Banning is one thing but common people adhering to it is another thing.

Living in India is nuanced. It takes smartness. It takes niceness. It takes grit. It takes patience. It takes being zen. It takes fighting spirit. Like my cousin who works full time, commutes an hour and a half a day, manages her family of four with little help, and did I forget to mention that after wrapping up her day time job and household committments, she settles down to work on her PhD? Deep deep respect.

Gratitude from the bottom of my heart for all the perspective I have gained during my stay here. Remind me to never treat a gift as burden.

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Leaning in

Heartfelt gratitude to Da for holding down the fort for the past 11 days. Thank you to Ram and Hari for supporting each other and stepping up their game in my absence. Greatful to my friend V for looking out for my family. Thank you to my colleagues for backing me at work.