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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Experiences, Gratitude, Introspection, Kids, Learnings, Little Moments, Milestones

Sunday school this year

Last sunday was my last day of Sunday school for the year. Like the past few years that familiar feeling of pang returned with gusto at dismissal. You know that feeling of missing out on the rest of the learning journey of a bunch of goofy, mischievous, argumentative, lovable, and affectionate bunch of little humans who have delighted and exasperated you.

This was my first year teaching fourth grade and how different the dynamics are from teaching second graders!  I loved the syllabus – dasavatharam, ramayanam and mahabhratha. In fourth grade, students are more engaged, contributing as much as learning, having strong opinions, likes and dislikes, and don’t miss a chance to challenge you with their accumulated knowledge. On the flip side, if you have reluctant learners, it takes a lot of effort and creativity to find something that resonate with them. Classroom management was tougher on some days because children are more brave about questioning authority. So there has to be clarity in expectations and boundaries.  I was fortunate to have had a mentor who is one of the creative teachers that has inspired me to get better at what I do. I learnt that kids learn best when they are actively involved in the learning process (opportunities to participate in class, hands-on activities, project based learning) than when they are in passive mode (listening to lectures). I had underestimated how little I knew of the mythologies but I would like to think that we learnt and grew together as a class. 

We ended last class with a class selfie and as we were wrapping up, one kid popped the question – “What is the most ridiculous thing we have done in culture class?” A few ideas were thrown in and the popular vote was for – talking about vegetable korma when we were discussing Kurma avatar… !  which had all of us break into peals of laughter. I could not have asked for a better way to end the school year. 

I am not sure how much of this year’s learning will stay with the children but if they have had few laughs and have associated learning with fun, I think the class has served its purpose.

 

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Gratitude, Introspection, Kids, Wishes

Celebrating unconditional love

I am immensely grateful for the unconditional love that my amma and my children shower on me. Day in and day out.  Amma, I accept you and love you for who you are, without any strings attached. Happy Mother’s Day to you. Hari and Ram, I hope you will continue to tolerate me and love me for who I am because quite frankly that’s the only way I know to be.  Being your mom has been a privilege. 

To those of you that celebrate the hallmark holiday, Happy Mother’s Day.  To those of you that care less about it, Happy Sunday.  I wish you TLC in whatever form and shape you like to receive it. 

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Experiences, Food, Gratitude, Hari Katha, Little Moments, Ram Leela, Uncategorized

LMT

Sharing the little moments from my week. 
cherry blossom

  • This week was THAT week in spring – gloomy skies, foggy, misty mornings with cherry blossoms, daffodils, and greenery all around.  Beautiful, just beautiful! I have been sneaking in walks, 5 mins here, 5 mins there, to take in all the sights and sounds, and soak in this breathtaking beauty. 
  • Hari and four other kids worked on a group project for Culture Day in Sunday school. It was a delight to watch the kids plan, prepare, collaborate and present their work. They did such a fine job!
  • Spring=Baseball in our household. Hari is part of three teams this spring and he is so pumped up about it. It’s a scheduling nightmare for us but honestly when you see the light shine in his eyes as he speaks about baseball, you just want to do the best you can to give him as much game time as possible. Who knows how long the passion will last but as long as it lasts, it must be nurtured.
  • Kerala style plum cake, have you had them? Oh I so love it and I relish every bite of it..! Better still, Hari has become part of the plum cake fan club. Nothing to beat the shared joy of looking forward to something. 
  • Now that Ram is reading on his own, he has developed a reading routine. I read a book to him and in return he reads a book to me.  Being part of this child’s reading journey has been a sheer joy!
  • Taking Ram to Take Your Child to Work Day and spending the day with him at my workplace doing arts and crafts. 

Alright tudlu for now, the weekend is just around the corner. What little moments are you celebrating this week?

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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, Gratitude, Learnings, Me

Sharing My World

Thank you Cee for your questions this week.

When writing by hand do you prefer to use a pencil or pen? As a child, I have aspired for a better handwriting. I even used to have a notebook in which I practiced writing. Somehow, I never got better at it. I also write very slowly and can’t write well with some writing instruments (eg. ink pens or mechanical pencils).  For better or worse, the only time I write is when I am writing a check or a checklist. My instrument of preference is Reynolds Bold black ballpoint pen.

Would you rather be an amazing dancer or an amazing singer? I would love to be an amazing dancer with profound understanding and appreciation for music.

If you were on a debate team, what subject would you relish debating? The idea of debating does not hold my interest anymore. When it comes to debating, people come with the mindset to win, to prove their point; it is seldom about learning and seeing things from another’s perspective. On the other hand, I love to be part of discussions where things are analysed from different perspectives, where there is an opportunity to grow and learn. The kind of discussion that NPR hosts – Onpoint, Hidden Brain and Ted Radio. I would relish any discussion related to the human nature and the enigma that the human mind is.

What are you a “natural” at doing? Empathising comes naturally to me. It’s both the boon and bane of my existence.

Optional Bonus question:  What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up? Last week was an emotionally draining week with a lot of things going on. I am very thankful from the bottom of my heart for Da’s calm, solid, unbiased, predictable presence in my life. This week, I am looking forward to coming back home after my business trip.

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Experiences, Gratitude, Little Moments, Ram Leela

Important Person

akhil-imp

After days of yearning and preparing for it, it was finally here! Ram was thrilled to bits. It was his special day, the day he gets to be “the important person” in his class. In this project, every child from the class gets a turn being the star on a certain week and shares a “suitcase” containing selected things that are important to him. The goal is to learn more about the child, his family, and his culture.

Ram has been counting down to this day ever since the announcement came in January. He worked diligently on it, the hardest part being goading his mom to roll up her sleeves and help him out. So what did he take to school?

  • Four of his important objects were – his jumbo pokemon card that he has been dreaming of taking to his class and showing off to his friends,  his baseball trophy that was special not only because it was his first trophy but also because his dad was the coach for his team, his collection of ironing beads that he had spent hours making with his brother and dad, and a foam peacock that he had built out of a kit that his athai bought for him. “We can tell it’s India’s national bird amma”
  • 10 Apples Up on Top, which he read by himself to his friends in class.
  • A collage of pictures from his last India trip along with photographs of him doing his favorite things – dressed as a superman at the park, plonking himself on the bench in the library, “I love my mom and dad” henna on his hands, pretending to ride an auto with his cousin on the back, rolling chappathi, slicing tofu, playing with snow and so on. To my surprise, he explained, “There are cars in India but there are more scooters. They can be bumpy”
  • A questionnaire that had details around where we live, his b’day, what are some ways in which he is like others, what are ways in which he is not like others, what does he like doing inside the house, and what does he like doing outside the house.
  • A form asking him to say how to say Hello in our native language. After explaining how to say vanakkam, we practiced it with folded hands, bowing to each other. The kids followed our demo, hands folded and saying vanakkam as they giggled endearingly.

Ram was reluctant to take anything or talk about anything that was related to Indian culture when we were brainstorming about this project at home. It made him feel like he was not like everyone else. But in class he surprised us by sharing stories of Ganesha, mooshika, and Krishna. I was pleasantly surprised and mildly shocked and worried that they may be taken out of context. But that was just my adult mind overthinking, the children just listened, with their open and curious mind.

Ram generally doesn’t like being in the spotlight. He doesn’t like it when attention is lavished on him. He prefers intrinsic fulfillment over extrinsic recognition. Today, I saw that side of him that reveled in being in the limelight. Glowing like a bright star, with confidence and enthusiasm.

The icing on the cake today was that his special day coincided with Dr. Seuss’ b’day. Happy B’day Dr. Seuss. Thank you for showing us how much fun can be had playing with words, for stretching our imagination and daring us to think all the things we can think and for nudging us to go conquer mountains.  Why worry, we have shoes in our feet and brain in our heads..!

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