Hari Katha, Humor, Kids, Little Moments, Ram Leela

Little entrepreneur

Ram is smitten by the idea of making money. He has been planning one thing after the other. First, he said he would make things out of origami and go around the block to sell them. Then, he was curious to know how much a glass of lemonade costs. Could he make some? Later, he started sorting his toys into different piles so he could have a yard sale.

The problem was all these plans will have to wait for the weather to turn around. “I want to earn money now amma,” the child sounded desperate. Wanting to give him a break, I told him “If you make a book that I enjoy reading, I will consider buying it from you.”  His face lit up and his mental wheels started spinning. What is your favorite fruit? Mango, I said. What vegetable do you not like? “I don’t know what it is called in english, but is noolkol in tamil”

An hour later, the child came to me with a book titled “The Viellen –  Dr. Noolkol robs a bank” with illustrations. Super Mango is the detective and Dr. Noolkol is the robber. There is action and drama, and the story ends with Dr. Noolkol getting arrested by Super Mango and taking him to a place where he rightfully belongs but dreads going to – the grocery store!

The child was deliriously proud of the 10 cents that I paid him. His anna, on the other hand, was standing there glaring at me. Really amma? He spent an hour working on that book and you are not even paying him minimum wages? Shhhhhhhhhhh! I had forgotten to account for the older child’s activism when I priced the book.

Experiences, Gratitude, Hari Katha, Intentions, Kids

Growing pains

Hari was eating his paruppu sadam with beans with delight as I was about to move out of the dining room. “Amma, can you just sit with me for few minutes,” he asked. “Of course, love” I told him and silently watched him for few seconds as my head was reeling from a tsunami of thoughts.

I needed him as much as he needed me in that moment. Earlier this morning there was a post by a local mom on FaceBook about how she had encountered her child using JUULS. Last week, the school principal had sent a note about Vaping and E-cigarettes. That was my first time hearing about it. Google will give you plenty of information about these addictions. In short, these are the latest in the drug world and is directly marketed to young adults as alternatives to cigarettes. Worse still, they look like USB drives, and smell like cheap perfumes. They wreak the same havoc that drugs do. Apparently, it is more pervasive than we would imagine in middle school and high school. The post was disturbing and made me really sad. Peer pressure is so real. One day you hear about suicide, another day you hear about depression, and yet another day drugs. The list only seems to be growing.

Hari and I were generally chatting and catching up when he mentioned, as if reading my mind, “Mom, today they pulled us out of our classroom to question us about drugs. They do it to all kids. They ask us a few questions. Do you use drugs? Why do you not use drugs?” He then proceeded to explain that “I don’t do drugs because the determinants far outweigh the benefits. I also told them that I have a younger brother who looks up to me and I want to be a good role model to him.”

I tried very hard to suppress the lump in my throat. He told me how they explained that their brains are still developing and the part of the brain that makes decisions is the last to develop. “So we have to make safe choices,” he concluded. Then I asked him what would he do if he saw his friends doing drugs. “First, I will protect myself and then I will stay away from their influence.” I told him how important it is to report to an adult, you are not getting your friend in trouble, you are helping him, ok? On that note, we wrapped up our heavy but reassuring conversation.

As I was clearing the kitchen counter, I sent a prayer upwards. I reminded myself to be more engaged, and more cognizant of what’s going on in my children’s lives. It’s so easy to get lost in the everyday busyness and competing priorities. To sweat the small stuff and lose sight of the big picture. Let me not take them for granted. Let me be fully present. Let me verify even when I trust them.

Hari Katha, Humor, Learnings, Little Moments, Memories, Writing

With Hari’s permission, I am posting the personal narrative that he has been working on. I love how writing is taught here, right from elementary grade. In this narrative, he is required to check for transition words, sensory language, zooming in, zooming out, grammar and spelling.


Bad Kitty!

When I encountered a lion, things weren’t pretty. It did not bite me. It did not scratch me. Instead, it peed on me. That’s right, I was a john for a lion, a once in a lifetime experience.

While visiting my uncle’s family in Bentonville, Arkansas, we decided to visit a famous zoo located 25 miles south of where we were staying.  Although the drive only took 30 minutes, it felt like eternity as my eight year old brain processed the fact that I would see animals which were uncommon in New England.

“Bang!” slammed the passenger door, arousing me.  Not missing a beat, I hopped out of the car and headed towards the zoo, thrilled about what experience awaited me. When we entered the zoo, I gasped. I was astonished at the chimpanzee swinging in its cage like a trapeze artist, a bear expertly balancing on a tiny red ball, and an iguana blending with its surroundings. The warm delicious scent of popcorn from a nearby food cart welcomed me with its lovely aroma.

“Come on Hari,” my mom instructed. “You should take a look at these majestic lions. If you need me, I’ll be in the reptile section.”

“Sounds fine mom,” I replied. I trotted towards the lions, and halted when I spotted them, their orange manes flowing in the cool wind. Standing a mere inch away from the smooth, black cage was a kid about my age, staring at the lion. Turning around, he beckoned me to come sit next to him. Immediately, I started sweating. I felt that standing that close to the cage would likely come back to bite me. However, my undying curiosity to see the lion prompted me to crouch next to the kid and face the lion. I looked in awe at the humongous lion which peered back at me as if saying, who are you, and why are you in my territory?

“This lion is awesome!” I whooped, expecting the kid to respond. Instead, the kid, whose gaze was getting more alarmed by the second screamed “Look out!” and quickly dove to the side. I however, did not have quick enough reflexes. A yellow spray of liquid washed over me, sizzling all over my arm. Embarrassed I scampered away, avoiding as many people as I could, only to bump into my mom.

“What happened to you?” My mom cried, her face turning pale as milk seeing me wet.

“Ummmmmmmmm,” I mumbled, feverishly debating in my mind on whether or not to tell my mom.

“Spit it out, what happened?” She insisted, pushing me to the brink of telling the truth.

“Oh fine!” I sputtered, “A lion leaked on me.” Instantly, my mom put a hand to her mouth.

“Come on, we’ll get you cleaned up,” she replied, extracting a bag of tissues from her purse.

As you can see, I have survived that traumatic experience, but am still trying to live down the fact that I was a urinal for a lion. Now, I always stand far away from the cages of animals knowing well not to repeat the same mistake twice. Nevertheless, I still have nightmares, imagining that yellow substance submerging over me. Most of all, I have learned to accept the facts, and laugh along with my family when they make a joke about that incident – I’m Hari, I was a potty for the king of the jungle, and I am proud of it!


Family, Gratitude, Hari Katha, Milestones, Wishes

The newly minted teenager

“Can you believe it amma, I am a teenager!” the child posed a rhetorical question as he chomped his cheese filled crispy dosai on his special morning. We exchanged a knowing glance, as if acknowledging the enormity of it all,  but mostly to check how many dosais were left on the plate. A little voice in my head whispered, “No and Yes”

No, I can’t believe you are a teenager!  I can’t believe it because, it just feels like yesterday that I held your tiny body in my arms for the very first time. I can’t because even when you are strong enough to lift me, you will always be small enough for me to coddle you. I can’t because all I said was skip, hop and jump, and here you are nearly as tall as me. I can’t because I fight my impulse to protect you before I can let you learn from your mistakes. I can’t because I think of you as my darling darling baby in my head and can’t hold myself from smothering you with my loud noisy kisses.

Yes, yes and yes, you are so a teenager! I can believe it because of the way your eyes twinkle and your lips smack as we talk about chocolate pancakes, cheesy ravioli, bean burritos and masala pooris. I can believe it because I have seen you grow inch by inch right under our noses. I can because we are shoe shopping in adult aisles for you. I can because no topic is taboo or off limits for us.  I can because when you make a mistake you are mature enough to come up to us and confess. I can because you take ownership and responsibility to get your tasks done. I can because we have thoughtful conversations around how we can support each other, be it fitness or staying organized.  I can because even when it’s hard to accept, you understand our values and who we are as a family.  I can because when I hug and kiss you, I hold you a second longer knowing that it’s only a question of time before your smooth buttery cheeks give way to tiny buds of facial hair.  I can because I can count on my fingers the number of years that are left before you spread your wings and fly from our cosy little nest.

Happiest of birthdays to the newly minted teenager in our home. You are such a fun, kind, wise, and witty dude. We love you from the depths of our hearts and are profoundly grateful for your presence in our lives. Be kind. Be brave. Work hard. Make a difference. Be YOU. XOXO. 

Gratitude, Hari Katha, Little Moments


Going to Hari’s and Ram’s schools is akin to visiting a temple. It’s a sacred place for me. I always leave the schools feeling grateful and inspired. Grateful that my children are growing and thriving in a nurturing environment, where they are allowed to be who they are while being encouraged to give their personal best. Inspired because when I am there I feel like I am surrounded by great thinkers.

Today, we had been to parents-teachers’ conference at Hari’s school. We were pleased to get updates on Hari. The teachers told us he is a model student with the right balance between work and play. Following the conference, Hari took me to his classroom and as expected I was clicking away all the quotes and nuggets of wisdom in the classrooms. Here, I am sharing with you one of my favorite finds of the day.


If there were ever a time to dare,

to make a difference,

to embark on something worth doing, it is now.

Not for any grand cause, necessarily —

but for something that tugs at your heart

something that’s your dream.

You owe it to yourself

to make your days here count.

Have fun.

Dig deep.


Dream big.

Know, though, that things worth doing

seldom come easy.

There will be good days.

And there will be bad days.

There will be days when you want to turn around,

pack it up,

and call it quits.

Those times tell you

that you are pushing yourself,

that you are not afraid to learn by trying.


Because with an idea,


and the right tools,

you can do great things.

Let your instincts,

your intellect,

and your heart

guide you.


Believe in the incredible power of the human mind.

Of doing something that makes a difference.

Of wroking hard.

Of laughing and hoping.

Of lazy afternoons.

Of lasting friends.

Of all the things that will cross your path this year.

The start of something new

brings the hope of something great.

Anything is possible.

There is only you.

And you will only pass this way once.

Do it right.


Experiences, Hari Katha, Little Moments, Milestones, Uncategorized

The adult in the child

It’s hard to pinpoint whether it’s the age, the gender, the birth order or his personality, Hari has a protective streak in him. You can see it loud and clear when he is with his little brother, but it is beginning to shine through when he is around me as well. It’s sweet, endearing, and heartwarming.

It was one of those evenings when we had flash flood warning with thunder and lightening. As predicted, the evening was rather messy. I was returning from dance class and as soon as I came home, Hari heaved a sigh of relief, a smile spreading on his face. “Are you ok amma? I was so worried for you with all the thunder and lightening outside. I am happy you reached home safe and we are all under the same roof.”  We gave each other the tightest of hugs that night, he out of relief from seeing me safe and sound and I from getting a glimpse of the adult in my sweet lovable child.

The construction workers were working on the kitchen window, which was a few feet away from the restroom window. I was articulating my reluctance aloud “Oh boy, looks like I just have to hold it in today till the workers leave. I don’t feel comfortable using the restroom with them working right next to the window.” A few minutes later, Hari came up to me. “Amma, the shutters are already down. There was a little see through, I stuffed our hand towel there so nobody will be able to see you from outside. You don’t have to worry now amma.”  I was pleasantly taken aback by this unexpected gesture over something that I said lightly without actually meaning it. If it had come from anyone else including Da, I would have gotten all righteous and unaccepting. I am very capable of protecting myself and problem solving, you know?  I don’t need anyone to save or protect me. But with this son of mine, I see the act for what it is; a basic instinct to protect someone you love and care. And I lapped it all up.

He is growing up, inside and out. And what a privilege it is to be such an integral part of it, seeing it unravel right in front of our eyes.

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!