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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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, Holidays, Wishes

The Best Thanksgiving Present

Today, we are celebrating not only Thanksgiving but also our first born’s 14th birthday. I have to pinch myself nice and hard on this day every year to make sure I am not dreaming. It feels fresh, like he was born just yesterday.

I believe that each age and stage has a certain beauty, something special and unique to that phase. Teenage years are no exceptions. The drama, the rolling of the eyes, the stomping of the feet, the dismissal of whatever is being told to him… it’s cute in its own way especially when you understand that it does not come from a place of malice but from a healthy dose of rebellion and an illusion of knowing it all. A teenager is a grown up and a child at the same time. He is an extra pair of eyes and an extra set of helping hands that you can count on. He thinks on his feet, problem solves for you, comforts you, and sometimes even nudges you. Beneath all that rebellion, he is still a child who seeks for your approval and validation. “Amma do you want to watch me play trumpet,” “Do you think you can come to see me pitch.” While sleep overs are thing of the past, there is still that need to catch up at the end of the day. “So what’s up amma? Want to catch up?” There is so much you can do with your teenager – watching Sherlock Holmes, discuss politics, share life’s conundrums, be each other’s accountability partners, to name a few.

To my loving, kind, hardworking, smart, sports crazy child, a very happy b’day. Be you, stand up for yourself and for others, practice kindness at all times, work on your daily habits, always give your personal best, enjoy the journey, follow your interests, and pour your heart and soul into them. Seeing you grow up and blossom into the person you are has been a blessing that we hold very close to our hearts. Love you immensely, our precious!

 

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Holidays, Little Moments, Uncategorized

Little moments

How has your week been? Here, we had a our first week of school and extracurricular activities. That we coped with it without too much grumbling and whining is a major accomplishment. Little moments for the week would be…

  • New batch of fourth graders at Sunday school. And they are a sassy bunch! One child took me by surprise by declaring, “I am going to predict what intel processor you have on your laptop,” then there was another who challenged none other than Newton, “I disagree with Newton’s theories.” Then there was one who said, “I love animals. When I grow up, I want to become animals’ advocate.” Love the colorful personalities and can’t wait to get to know them better.
  • My cousin and his family visiting. When I think of my cousin, I think of the little boy who was adamant about watching Rajini movies. I think of the times we went “jogging” during summer break. I think of how he was the favorite grandchild for my maternal grandparents. It was very nice to get a glimpse of him as a caring husband and a loving dad.
  • Ram got his very own music instrument – a guitar! The child is enrolled in guitar lessons. It was uber cute seeing the child with guitar strapped on his back.  The guitar lessons take place in the same school that Hari learnt piano, which was a parent-child class. Week after week, I get to relive those fond memories with Hari as I take Ram for his classes.
  • Happy Vinayaka Chaturthi, one of my favorite gods. Have always loved pillayar and a have special affection for him. It is a tradition in our household to make pillayar for Vinayaka Chathurthi. We have made pillayars out of fuse beads, legos, and assorted materials. This time the kids played around with dough and made these pot bellied rider of mouse. Hari took the minimalistic approach, Ram did the more detailed oriented.
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Holidays, Introspection, Life, Me

Intangible connection

I open the calculator on my computer and type in 2018 minus 2001 and the answer pops out as 17. Of course, I knew the answer and didn’t need a calculator to do the math that my second grader can do in his sleep. But one feels the need for validation when the brain tells one thing but the heart feels something else. It simply cannot be 17 years, says my good old heart. But of course, it is, refutes my sassy brain. God, 17 years is a long long time, it does not feel that long ago. It absolutely does not! So goes my heart, utterly in denial, that I have been away from my home country for 17 years.

In the initial years, I remember meeting an Indian who was away from the country for a long time and  did not know about Sachin Tendulkar when I spoke of him. I fell off my chair. How could you not? He is practically a God for a nation of over billion?

Fast forward 17 years…

I am very much that person today. I know very little about what is happening in India. Having lived most of my adult life outside of India, I feel disconnected to the dynamics of day to day living in India. The excitement of visiting India is overshadowed by the anxiety over logistics and practical difficulties. The India of today feels so alien to me. 

And yet…

I go an extra mile to go to sunday school to be on time for special assembly to sing the Indian national anthem. I tear up every time I sing Jana Gana Mana. Yes, Every. Single. Time. No rhyme or reason, no exaggeration. I hang out with the desi moms from Hari’s cricket group, and can’t help but notice that the conversation feels intuitive and effortless. I swell with pride when Hari quizzes me on Indian states and capitals and knows more than what I do or when Ram sings, oodi vilayadu papa. I go out of the way to stay involved in the local Indian American organization so we can bring exposure to all things Indian to the broader community. When conversations on Whatsapp revolve around how NRIs, and non-citizens, do not have the eligibility to complain or comment about  the Indian state of affairs, it stings. All I I want to say is, I still care. Is that not reason enough?

Being an Indian has become that intangible feeling that does not scream out loud but a subtle and comforting presence that I carry with me at all times. 

Happy Independence Day India. 

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Family, Gratitude, Holidays, Introspection, Uncategorized

Musings

  • I have been off from work over the past two weeks. I have been checking social media but not as frequently. I have not watched anything on Netflix. I expected not to miss work but not missing social media or watching T.V. is a nice surprise.
  • All four of us have been hanging out together for the past week or so doing nothing in particular. I am going to miss the lazy mornings, deadline-free, commitment-free, chauffeuring-free days. Not to mention the brats.
  • I am only exaggerating a little when I say, if you were to stand outside our house for some time right now, you will be a human popsicle. It is minus four degree Fahrenheit tonight. The low temperatures have been hovering at that range for the past one week and is expected to remain so for the next one week. On the plus side, it’s going to feel warm and toasty when we hit freezing point. It’s all relative!
  • New year does give a nice opportunity to reconnect with folks that I normally don’t keep in touch with under the guise of being busy. Spending the last day of the previous year and the first year of the new year catching up with friends and family is something I so look forward to.
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Experiences, Family, Gratitude, Holidays, Introspection, Learnings, Memories, Us, Wishes

2017 – the year that was

There is pin drop silence in the house. Strike that, I can hear Da snoring his heart away. I can also hear some footsteps headed towards the bathroom, a sign that one child is up for the day. My tummy weighs like a ton of bricks from all the food indulgence last night. It was a cosy gathering. We met, we ate, we laughed and we dispersed with a full stomach and a light heart.

I have a couple of hours before the intensity of the day sets in. A time that I am carving out to reflect on the year that is coming to a close. As I look back on the year that has gone by, these are things that are at the top of my mind.

My paternal grandma, Andu patti, passed away in April. She had a really difficult end of life, with dementia wreaking havoc on her and the ones caring for her. Longevity means very little when it is not paired with quality of life. How our life comes to an end and when it comes to an end are not in our control; we can do all the right things and yet have an undesirable end. So taking proper care of our physical and mental health when it is in our hands seems not only responsible but also sensible.

I pushed myself to give back to the local community. I provided tactical support to a friend who stood for school committee, and played a small role in making our voices heard on a school related issue. I helped organize workshops in the local library and continue to edit the school newsletters. It was gratifying but I also realized, that they are very transactional in nature. Meaning, once it’s done, it’s done. This is an epiphany because it will help me choose where I want to spend my time and energy going forward.

I poured my heart and soul on my dance productions this year. I pushed the limits of what I can do and it was another humbling experience. There was wonder in knowing that I am capable of doing things that was challenging at the outset and there was also acceptance in knowing I come with my own limitations. Talent is something that we are born with, and we have no say in how talented we are. But striving towards our full potential is within our control; it’s not an easy path but one worth trudging on.

We renovated our house this year. We moved into this house a decade back and have worked our lifestyle around what was given to us, which worked well. The renovation gave us a chance to think about our needs and wants and how we want to customize the house to our personal preferences. For the most part, the project was enjoyable and I am proud of us for having taken the discomfort and inconveniences in stride. This project also gave me a newfound appreciation for all the details that go into the making of a house.

It feels like the outside world is filled with pain, suffering and destruction. My very liberal neighborhood was in the news for hate crime, there have been several break ins, and a life was gone too soon. This is within the short circumference of my neighborhood. Beyond that, if at all anything, the magnitude of the events happening are confusing, nerve wracking, and overwhelming. Yet, I am trying hard to not get hopeless. If we give up hope and faith, what else can we hold on to? We need to stay informed, be aware and push ourselves to do what little we can. If not anything else, be kind. I like to believe that kindness goes a long way in counter balancing the negativity around us even if we are not able to directly impact the events.  

I wish you a very happy 2018.  I wish you the freedom and courage to be who you want to be, relationships and friendships that matter, deliberation in thought and action, unshakable faith in your effort and values, compassion towards the self and others, grace and wisdom to handle the unknowns, bountiful little moments and happy surprises, unconditional love and acceptance, uncluttered mind, full presence and focused work, and a strong body and sound intellect. I wish you the best that life has to offer. In 2018 and always!

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