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. 

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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.

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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!

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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? 

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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!

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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. 

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Family, Gratitude

Slow Saturday, Remembering FIL, and Dinner Hack

Hello all the nice readers of the blog. How has your Saturday been? Busy? Relaxed? Meh?

I had a relatively slow Saturday with not much chauffeuring around. The time saved in not shuttling the offspring for classes was spent on inefficiently doing the weekend chores. The saving grace is, I made a dent in de-cluttering our home office, and did my bit with raking of the leaves.

It is around this time of the year that my father-in-law passed away twelve years back. We don’t do the devasam ritual that our tradition calls for but visit the temple instead. As I saw Da praying at the temple tonight, my heart went out for him. It must be tough and lonely to have lost both his parents. I reminded myself to be more kind to him; it is not going to compensate for his parents’ love but kindness always amounts to something even if we are not able to put our finger on it. We were reminiscing about appa tonight and Da recalled that he was a kind person and always did what he could to help people. He acted with integrity in all circumstances. He was lavish about buying books for Da and Aaru. Da is a voracious reader, and all credit goes to appa for kindling the love for reading. Appa also took immense pride that his son had earned a ph.d. He truly considered that accomplishment as the brightest feather in his cap.

After looking at all our options for eating out tonight, we chose to come home for dinner. As I rummaged through my freezer, the leftover dhal makhani from thanksgiving get together came to our rescue. This is so totally a life hack that I am following going forward. To freeze some leftovers for evenings like tonight wherein neither cooking nor eating out is appealing, and you want something to magically appear on your dinner plate without being inflicted by decision fatigue.

Ending the post with a gratitude to my neighbor, who texted me reminding us to park the car in our driveway as the overnight street parking restrictions kick in on the 1st of December. Thankful for neighbors who look for you!

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