Posted in Family, Gratitude, Wishes

Amma (mother-in-law)

Drafted yesterday but could not post it due to internet issues at home

Hari and my mother-in-law share the same nakshatiram and tamizh birth month, so they share their star birthday. Today (Nov. 19th) is Hari’s star birthday and I have been thinking of amma, who is alive in our hearts and memories but not in flesh and blood. If you have followed this space for some time now, you would know that amma was very progressive for her generation, was light hearted, and had a zest for life that was contagious. She and my parents shared a relationship that was built on mutual respect and free of expectations; not bitterness or resentment, which is more common place in arranged marriages than you would think. Both her children, Da and Aaru, take after her in many aspects – street smarts, not making much ado about anything, and always assuming positive intent and seeing good in people. My deep gratitude to the universe for connecting our families together. I feel incredibly lucky to be married into this family.  Happy star b’day to amma and Hari.

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Posted in Experiences, Family, Food, Gratitude, Uncategorized

Salads

I assemble four glass containers for Da and three for myself. I chop the veggies one after the other. Da’s container gets a generous helping of argula, while mine gets the bare minimum on purpose (can’t handle the greens in my salad!). I chop the yellow and red peppers, toss in clementines, and then the cherry tomatoes. Veggies done, I move on to nuts, cranberries and feta cheese. Some days I throw in some tofu or chickpeas and olives. Then I layer the quinoa. Not quite the rainbow colors that I aspire for in our salads, but somewhat there. All in all, it has taken me 45 mins. I stack them in my fridge, and heave a sigh of gratitude.

Preparing salads for the weekday lunches has been an integral and indispensable part of my weekend routine for the past several years. The satisfaction of having packed healthy food. The peace of mind from knowing that I don’t have to think about one out three meals for three to four week days. While salads are not comfort food for me, it is a staple for Da. He thrives on it. I don’t know what got me into this routine, but I am glad and thankful that it has stuck with us for all along.

Posted in Family, Gratitude, Milestones, Wishes

Milestones

This year is a milestone year in our family. My twin, Sathya, and I turned 40 in April. Amma turned 60 in August. Appa is turning 70 today!

Happiest of birthdays to appa. He is someone who knows class, and has a keen eye for details. Whatever he does, he does it thoroughly, with discipline, giving his all. If you want to go shopping, he is the man you should go with. He would point out nuances that would not have crossed your mind in your wildest dreams.  He is an astute observer, who especially loves keeping track of directions and routes. Best of all, he has golden heart, and loves his family and friends fiercely and intensely. To a man of quality, wishing the finest quality of life that life has to offer. Wishing you happiness, good health and peace of mind.

I missed writing on amma’s b’day. Amma amazes me with her ability to adapt and reinvent herself. UNO, pretend games, lazer tag, painting, – she lapped it all this time! I am mighty proud of you amma, and I wish you with all the things that you wish for, now and always.

Posted in Family, Gratitude, Life, Little Moments, Uncategorized

Gratitude

Appa and amma have returned to India after a four-month stay in the US. I just have two words to sum up my feelings – deep gratitude! 

I am thankful that this trip happened. I am thankful to the co-passengers who helped my parents on their onward journey. I am thankful that they were here, guiding us and taking part in the poonal festivities. I am thankful that they were part of our day to day living and minutia for the past few months. I am thankful that the kids lavished love and affection on them, and were pampered in great deal in return. I am thankful that we had a nice long summer, anything less weather wise would not have been kind on appa. I am thankful that my maternal patti did reasonably ok healthwise in India, which meant amma was able to stay here with some peace of mind for as long as they stayed. I am thankful to all my friends here who socialised with them and made them feel included. I am thankful that appa and amma did all their health check up, and came here armed with medicines, and other precautions. I am thankful that the one time when we needed medical attention, we received it without too much hassle. I am thankful to technology, to skype, to whatsapp and to net banking for allowing my parents to take care of practical matters while they were here away from home. I am thankful to my chithappas for being a phone call away when they needed. I am thankful to appa and amma’s neighbors for keeping an eye on the house, for missing their presence, and for helping them ease into their routine on return.

Much gratitude to the universe and the higher power. All the stars had to align for the trip to happen. 

Posted in Experiences, Family, Food, Gratitude, Life, Little Moments

Little moments for the summer

I have been wanting to resurrect the Little Moments Thursday series. As the name implies, it attempts to celebrate the little moments in one’s life. I like the idea of dedicating a day of the week for this because as they say, anything that can be done at any time, seldom gets done. I have written a Little Moments post every now and then but not with the consistency that I used to at one point of time. 

LMT is a concept a dear friend came up with. The idea being we all get carried away with the day to day living or the curve balls that life throws at us that we forget to make note of the little moments that get sprinkled along the way.  To me, it’s one more reminder to be grateful for life’s blessings. It is not an attempt to see life through rose tinted glasses as much as it is about not allowing our lives to be defined by its challenges alone. Apart from taking my happiness quotient several notches higher, I like that in the process of writing about my little moments, I tend to journal the details of my life that otherwise tend to fade into the oblivion. 

Today, I am counting the little moments I have had this summer.

  • Seeing my parents as grandparents. It’s true that they have been grandparents for 13 years but given that our India visits tend to be very brief, that side of them tends to get overshadowed. I have enjoyed seeing my kids hugging and kissing them, Ram playing UNO with amma, Hari calling amma the goddess of dosai, and appa teaching Ram how to apply butter on his bread.  I have enjoyed the videos that my sis-in-law Wini sent, of my parents reading and playing with my niece and nephew,  during their stay with them. 
  • After searching far and wide for sari blouses that fit me, turns out my mom’s fit me well. My mom is leaving her kalamkari blouses for me…!! I love love kalamkari, have always loved it, even when it used to be designs on bedsheets and diwan sets.
  • Sharing kitchen duties with amma. Most of the time, amma takes over the kitchen making simple delicious food for us to devour. I enjoy cooking for them too. So we split our duties, taking turns so one person is not getting burnt out. Who does not like a break from kitchen duties?
  • Taking my dad for shopping. I not only like his choices but admire his keen eye for details. The rest of the boys in the household run a mile a minute should I mention the word shopping or will roll up their sleeves to buy what we call as Ramarajan t-shirts (the polyester ones that sports folks around the world wear – this is a term we coined at home after the tamizh movie actor who tends to wear colorful attire on screen) in our household.
  • Watching Da lavish affection on my dad – it’s genuine, spontaneous, and very child like. Pure as white. 
  • Watching my mom take delight in gardening and our garden getting a facelift.
  • Oh speaking of garden, love the three little rose bushes we have planted in the front yard. The yard has graduated from being despicable to being tolerable to the eye, thanks to amma and Da’s toiling.
  • Watching Sherlock Holmes with Hari. The first time I watched, it was with Da, and turns out I ended up sleeping for most episodes as we would watch it on ipads in the comfort of our bed. Hari is not hooked (the child does not like mystery) but doesn’t mind because it would mean he gets TV time which he would not otherwise get. And just like that I have started watching R rated shows with my offspring!
  • Exchanging food with my dear friend V. When I cook something on insta pot, I share it with her so she gets a kitchen break. When she cooks something delicious (which is often), she spares some for me. 
  • The kids hopping and skipping to V’s house for milkshake every Wednesday. V’s son S coming to our house to bake cake. I love being part of his growing up. 
  • Reading Hari’s journal entries during vacation. The child is not a big fan of writing but writing is a fundamental skill, can’t afford to be sloppy in it. So the deal is to write a little paragraph every day. The child always had a ending that had a nugget of wisdom like “If you have hit rock bottom after all, the only way to go is up”, or “My biggest learning for seventh grade is to not judge a book by its cover.” I enjoyed getting a glimpse into his teen brain.
  • Sleepovers with Ram. I love love sleeping next to him, squished in the twin mattress, his legs resting on my body and his head laid on my arm.  Love cannot get any more primal than this. 
  • Watching Ram read, read, and read like there is no tomorrow. My greatest fear is the child will run out of books of his liking at the library. 
  • Speaking of reading, I have been reading quite a bit this summer, and loving every minute of it. I learnt a little trick from my sis-in-law Aaru. She has this amazing ability to stop whatever she is doing, and grab a book to read. She can read when there is a crowd surrounding her, she can read when she has had a tiff with someone, she can ready just about anywhere at anytime. Reading is her sanctuary. Watching her read that compulsively did tickle my instincts to read. The trick that I learnt from her is to not wait for the perfect moment to grab a book because in this phase and stage of life, that is not going to happen.  It also makes reading a way of life. So gold star to her…!!! 

There were some challenges too this summer but I am deeply grateful for the little moments that made it a memorable one.

Posted in Experiences, Family, Gratitude, Uncategorized

Another Sunday evening

Writing a blog post. A visit to the temple. Going on bike path. Doing stretches. Sitting down for meditation.  What do all these have in common? Once I indulge in these pursuits, I end up wanting to do more of them. But that first step takes monumental effort.

Summer is coming to an end shortly in this part of the world. The days are already getting shorter, we are thinking about back to school routine, and before we know it we will have to pull our sweaters and Fall jackets out. 

Hari has had a pretty laid back summer. He has been in camp just for one week of camp for the entire vacation. We figured the school year tends to get intensive, so why not let the child chill out when he has the chance. That was his preference too. He has enjoyed the freedom of going to the bike path on his own, and camping at the library. He hasn’t hung out much with his friends but has had social time during cricket and baseball practices. He enjoyed setting up his room, he calls it his “man cave,” decorating it with flags of different football teams, built his own basketball hoop, converted the long forgotten Ikea table into a ping pong table, and has made an arcade game on his reading desk. This summer has been a summer without the FOMO for him. 

Ram has been in camp every week. He tried his hands on wood carving and Scratch. His dad has set up a wood shop for him in the basement. My heart skipped several beats when I saw first graders hitting nail with a hammer at the camp. This should not have surprised me but it was too real! Scratch is a mix of programming and gaming. I am not thrilled about this experience but foray into video games is inevitable. For a while, it will be out of control but if I don’t feed the obsession now, it will lead to deprivation. In other news, he has been biking a lot this summer. And for a child that refuses to put his head under water, he has recently taken interest in swimming.  This summer has been a summer of exploring for this child of mine. 

Regarding myself,  I did not take any extra commitments as I wanted to keep it free for appa, amma and kids. Last summer was extremely crazy and I did not want to miss out on another summer with the kids. This summer has been a summer of “US” for me because the days are long but the years are short! 

Posted in Family, Gratitude, Intentions, Life, Little Moments, Milestones, Wishes

Old friends, new neighbors

I wrote the below post (modified some parts here) about my childhood friend, V,  in my old blog in 2009. V is the kind of friend you can text and ask, can you get me thoor dhal? And then two minutes later, add, can you also get me some cooked thoor dhal ? She is the kind of friend whose door you can knock on at 4 am to drop off your first child while in labor with your second child and head to the hospital knowing that she would take care of your child better than you would.  You can ask for all these favors without feeling like you are imposing on her. We don’t label our friendship or talk for hours together but it’s a quite, reassuring bond where no explanations are needed or the intent ever questioned.

Last week, V and family moved into their newly bought house, which is two houses next to ours.  Sweet lucky coincidence!.Here’s wishing her and her family sweet moments, big and small, and happy memories as they settle in their new abode.

My association with her was through my brother. She and he were in the same class through secondary and first two years of high school. Then our paths crossed in 11th std. That was when we ended up in the same class as we opted to pursue commerce, economics and accountancy for higher education. I remember sitting next to her on the first day of class. Or am I making this up in my head?  I am not sure and that minutia doesn’t seem to matter after all these years. We hung out with each other. A lot. At intervals, during lunch hour, outside school, at the temple, in our houses, during tuition classes. Chitchatting about school, friends, family, this, and that. There was never a shortage of topics. I was fond of the BHEL quarters that she lived in, enjoyed some of aunty’s delicacies, deemed it a privilege being in the company of uncle, and took inspiration from her brother. I knew her extended family and friends by names.

After those much cherished couple of years, it was time to bid adieu as my dad’s job took my family to different places. We kept in touch. Wrote to each other regularly. I looked forward to sleep overs at her place whenever I visited Trichy and she came to spend a couple of days with me in Coimbatore. A few years rolled by in this manner. Then she got married, four days after I got engaged. Want to know the best part? Both of us were heading to the same destination after tying the knot- Boston. Who would have thought and how special is that! Her being here made a big difference to my transition. You see there were a plethora of things to discuss  – married life, America, India, setting up new home, groceries, cooking, cleaning, school days, deals, vacations. And who better to discuss it with than a good old friend?

After all these years, I think of her as family. Someone who knows my history and someone with whom I have grown up. Someone who will remind me of the person. We have seen each other undergo a number of life changing events. I have seen her in labor, hours before she gave birth to her son. I have seen her grieve the loss of a loved one two months later. I have seen the warmth she exudes on her mom, and the pillar of support that she is to her family and friends, Acceptance and Faith are words that come to mind when I think of her.