Experiences, Experiments, Family, Little Moments, Memories, Milestones, Us

Solar Eclipse 2017

The total solar eclipse of 2017 was an underwhelming experience in our part of the country. From what I saw on the live streaming of the eclipse, for folks who experienced it first hand, it was spectacular and profound – the temporary darkness smack in the middle of the day, the sudden chilling of the air, and the realization that we are all connected by this cosmic energy. I can only imagine!

We too had our share of fun. Yesterday, Da had made a contraption out of a carton for our viewing. It was super fun parading in and out of the house to catch a glimpse of the sun and the moon playing tango.

I hear we will be in the path for the next total solar eclipse in 2024, so better luck to us then.

See that crescent shaped sun? 

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Experiences, Family, Gratitude, Holidays, Kids, Little Moments, Memories, Now

Kids and summer break

The kids are on the last week of summer vacation. The past 6 weeks have gone by in the blink of an eye. Another milepost in the passage of time. Barring a couple of weeks, the boys  have been attending summer camps. Between my dance productions and all the construction work, that seemed to be the fair thing to do. 

It gladdens my heart to see Hari rested and relaxed. He has had his fill of cricket, baseball and books for the summer. The poor child has been suffering from allergies this month, must be a combination of pollen and all the dust floating around with the construction work. It must be frustrating to have fragmented sleep but the child has been taking it in stride – “I sneeze and have runny nose, but I end up slowly drifting  off to sleep. So don’t worry about it amma”  

Ram has been fervently working on Perler beads, teaching himself from google images and youtube videos. As I write this post, he is trying his hands on 3D designs. When he is not working on fuse beads, he is lost to the written word. The child sure knows to enjoy his own company. We have read so little together this summer. Our reading during breakfast is currently non-existent. Partly because I have not made the time and partly because there is very little eating going on at breakfast when reading is involved. We just need to find a way to sneak in some reading time together. I am not ready to let go of that yet.

We still have not figured out the extra activities for the school year. For Hari, we have a rough sense. For Ram, some homework is still in order. 

I am not ready for back to school yet. I have neither spent quality nor quantity time with my rambunctious bundles of joy.  No matter what else I may have accomplished, the summer still feels incomplete.

“It’s okay, it’s okay,” I console myself in an act of self-compassion.  I cannot have it all. But the bigger truth is, even when I may have been clueless about their days, I have been quietly soaking in the finer things that parenting entails. Enjoying the glint of naughtiness in their eyes, swelling with pride when they save treats for each other, loving them all over as they peacefully drift to dreamland, taking in the sight of them deeply engrossed in their books, and watching them devour cookie dough ice cream with anticipation although they have had it a million times. 

This summer has not been a summer of going away, beach trips, bike rides or even play dates. It has been a time of quiet presence, simple living, and glorious nothingness in our household. 

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Experiences, Family, Food, Gratitude, Hari Katha, Humor, Kids, Life, Little Moments, seasons

Baseball Tales

Hari began the baseball season with lofty statements. “I live for baseball”, “Baseball is my life.” I looked at the better half, who takes his role as nurturer of sports passion of his offsprings a tad seriously, and saw stars dancing in his dreamy eyes. And what do you know? Before I could say baseball, the father-son duo had signed up for three teams – school baseball team, town baseball team and the club baseball team that Hari has been part of since Fall. And did I forget to mention that the second child was already signed up in Fall?

For my part, I did what any sensible mom, who has the unenviable task of planning two mini dinners atleast three days during the week and once during the weekend (and let’s not even get into calendar management please), would do. Closed my eyes shut, sent a prayer to Varuna bhagawan – let it rain, let it rain..!

The regular season is drawing to a close and I am happy to report that the household has managed to survive and I might even add that the reluctant baseball mom has become an eager cheerleader.

I am happy for Hari. The season bestowed him with a variety of experiences, from being benched to being glorified as the MVP.  He was flying high one day and heartbroken the other day. He felt like he was treated unfairly one day but was able to take a step back the next day and see the decision in perspective. He worked hard and took responsibility for improving his game. He climbed the batting order and learnt new ways to pitch.

Ram is having a great time swinging his bat and playing ball. As a parent from Hari’s batch put it, at that age you can ask how the game went knowing that you will always receive a confident and happy answer. Besides at this age, there is more excitement over snacks during break time than playing ball during game time. Da coached Ram’s team for the second year in a row. 

Now if you will excuse me, I have a pre-game dinner to pack. My life is going to be dull and empty once the baseball season is over… Not really!

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Family, Gratitude, Life, Loss, People, Uncategorized

End of an era

My paternal patti, Andu patti as we called her, passed away yesterday afternoon. This week she would have turned 88 years old.

Some memories are more vivid than others. The early part of my childhood is rich with memories of my thatha and patti. As an infant, I grew up under their care in Bombay, which I don’t have a recollection of. My earliest memories of them are from when we were in Madras during my childhood years. I remember tagging along with patti wherever she went – visiting extended families, going on hospital visits, sleeping overnight in kalyana chathram, going to Bombay to visit my chithappa, and staying in my athai’s house. I remember the identical pedal pushers (I think that’s what it was called, a cross between capris and jumpsuit) she stitched for my cousin and me. I remember building parks and zoos while setting up golus. I remember her fascination for gymnastics and dance.

My grandparents went to the US for sometime to stay with my chithappa and family. I remember looking forward to letters from thatha and patti. I also remember the stories patti would narrate after her trip – the clean roads and the speed limits. She would write stories from I Love Lucy show in a notebook so she could narrate it to us. She learnt to make French braids from the shows she watched in the US and would practice it on me.

The year before I got married, Sathya and I stayed in my chithappa’s house with my grandparents, chithappa, chithi and cousins. My patti’s sari for my wedding matched with mine. I remember how deftly she would wash and dry her 9 yards sari. I remember the joy she would take in making and distributing bakshanam. She sewed her own blouse for the longest time. Making herself useful to others was very important to her. She was the eldest daughter in her family and the eldest daughter-in-law in the family she married into. She was the matriarch in our very patriarchal family. She has touched so many lives, in small ways and big.

The last few years of her life was very rough on her. She was resilient, bouncing back from hip surgery and several falls. If physically taking care of her was hard, seeing her deteriorate physically and mentally was several times more painful. She did her best to stretch her time here.

A shout out to my parents for taking care of my patti with dignity and to the best of their abilities. Their lives have revolved around patti for the past few years and for the past several months they cared for her like an infant, anticipating her needs and tending to her. Her life came to a full circle, right in front of our eyes.

Patti, we miss you. I feel fortunate to have had all that time with you and thatha. For all the love you showered on us. We love you in loads and will keep you in our hearts forever. Rest in peace.

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Experiences, Family, Gratitude, Holidays, Introspection, Learnings, Life, Loss, Wishes

Reflections and Wishes

“Breathe in. Breathe out,” I tell myself.  I feel heavy hearted as I recall the events from this year. I scroll back to the entries since the beginning of the year by way of reassuring myself that this year too has had its share of joyful events. And I am not disappointed. There is plenty to rejoice about. Life is kind that way, it tosses bouquets even when it throws brickbats.

My mil’s health setbacks and her subsequent passing away this year has undoubtedly dented our lives. And just like that this year marked the end of an era for the family. We miss amma at random times for random reasons. Sometimes we talk about it and at other times, we just sit tight, keeping a low profile, waiting for the feeling to pass.

“Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande is the book that has had an immense influence on me this year. Human body is a complex and sophisticated machine and like any other machine, it is bound to wear and tear with time.  The book made me think a lot about aging and mortality and humbled me.  We can’t live life fearing the worst. Nor should we live life as though we have unlimited time on earth. We should strive to live our fullest in the moments given to us, with the people around us.  

This year has been a milestone year in so many ways. Da and I celebrated our 15 years of togetherness. Hari started middle school and Ram began kindergarten.  We became US citizens and voted for the first time.

I took up a lot of volunteering projects this year – at school, at the local library, and in Sunday school, and realized that there is always so much to do. The more activities I engage in outside home, the more motivated I feel to come back to my home, to my people. I experimented with cooking quite a bit this year, and loved practicing eating right and eating clean. I jogged consistently for the first half of the year, shed some pounds and felt like I took responsibility for my health, I tried my hands on meditation and was awed by the power that mind has over the body. 

My heartfelt wishes to you and your family in the brand new year.  I wish you clarity amidst chaos, faith and hope in the face of panic, strength and belief to fight setbacks, focus when distractions rule, interests and passions that fill you, family and friends to love and cherish, a healthy body, a peaceful mind and a sound intellect. Lightness, cheer and merriment. Happy 2017.

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Family, Food, Gratitude, Holidays, Kids, Little Moments, Memories

Good old Family Time

Once you lose momentum, getting your rhythm back is a challenge of gigantic proportion. I have been drafting this post for the past couple of nights. The tardiness is not due to lack of intent;  it was because yours truly literally fell asleep midway typing this post. With that disclosure out of the way, I hit the resume button on my gratitude journal.

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I clean the house, one room after the other, in an attempt to make up for the lower decibel levels and to help us get back to routine after a precious week spent with family. As I put the things away in their place, random memories from the past week flit by.

I stumble on my niece’s small heart shaped lego piece and a smile plays on my lips. This was one of her precious possessions, one she kept a very close tab on, not letting it out of her sight for a minute.  This little doll, by that I mean my sweet niece Shraddha, is a charmer. Atleast she knows the way to her athai’s heart.  With a twinkle in her eyes, the four year old picked her potato fry and commented, “Athai, potato is my favorite kai, thank you for making it so crispy.”  The look of delight and wonder on her face as she hung the barbie ornament in the christmas tree is a sight tucked in my treasure trove of memories. The way she strung letters or stretched her spelling to read and spell were moments of athai pride.  The home depot apron and the rolling pin tickle memories of our cooking adventures this week – the mutter panner, the aloo paratha, and the banana bread. The crayons, markers, the inflatable toys, all carry stories of cousins bonding and the delightful unending conversations amongst them, especially the pretend game lovers Ram and Shraddha.

I call Da “ukil” just like how my little nephew Amrit calls Da (ukil=uncle, athimber is too hard and too new for a soon-to-be-two year old, so ukil it is!). This past week Alexa has been part and parcel of our family fun. We would have listened to  Baa Baa blacksheep a hundred times. My nephew listening to the words as his body swayed  to the music. The squeals of delight as he saw the train chugging under the christmas tree or the way he screamed in excitement when Da returned from work or led Hari and Ram by his tiny finger to where his whim took him.  

I also enjoyed making childhood comfort foods, the combinations that amma used to prepare. Jeera sathumdhu, paruppu thogayal, kathrikia kai, arachuvitta khozhambu, mysore sathumdhu, vendakai kai, so on and so forth. There is something warm and fussy about sharing these simple childhood favorites that you grew up eating with the one you grew up with. I enjoyed seeing the dad in my brother Sathya. The tenderness with which he talks to his daughter,  the rolling up his sleeves to feed his children, and the sermonising the difference between rights and the wrongs of life to his kids. Also, how he pitched in to clean up after dinner, just the way we were taught to do as children.

My sil Wini is everything that I am not. Very paandam in all her endeavors. Be it carrying herself well or tending to her children, she does it with elan. Also seeing first hand how to eat in moderation, such self discipline this girl has! Most of all I loved seeing what a mindful parent she is, knowing her children inside out, paying attention to their rhythms.

All in all,  I am deeply grateful for the moments – small, big, rich, delightful, and everything in between that this week brought. I am thankful for the opportunity to have them in my turf for some good old family time!  

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Family, Gratitude, Uncategorized

Rediscover This Day

Last year this day we were in India, more specifically in Hyderabad. It was Hari’s date of birth and star birthday. Since my mother-in-law (referred to as amma going forward in this post) and Hari shared the same nakshatranam, they had a joint birthday celebration. My sister-in-law had purchased a beautiful and humongous birthday cake in the shape of cricket bat to make Hari’s special day extra special. Amma was excited about turning 70. She wore an onion color sari with brown border. She was happy that we were there with her on her milestone birthday.

Some random amma related memories from that stay. Amma making cheppankizhangu roast for lunch. We ordered breakfast from a local hotel one morning and chomped away the varieties of dosais. Amma excited to attend her nephew’s wedding, spending time wih her siblings and catching up with her relatives. She was happy that it coincided with her b’day, she distributed some mementos to her kith and kin. She asked me to take pictures of her. 

I am grateful that all the stars aligned and we made that trip last year. It was her last birthday and our last time seeing her healthy and happy.  I am thankful for the happy memories that we have from that trip. I am thankful that google kept throwing back pictures from the tip. I am very thankful that she had a relatively peaceful end with less suffering. Much gratitude amma for all the love, role modeling, and acceptance of everyone for who he or she is. 

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