Experiences, Gratitude, Life, Work life balance

Unplugged

The internet was down, which meant working from home was going to be a stretch. For the first half an hour, I was wrought with frustration. Some construction worker somewhere knocked the internet lines, and I was paying the price for it. I was getting back to work mode after three days of PTO and an unproductive day was the last thing I wanted.

Luckily, after the initial frustration, some sanity prevailed. I took stock of the big picture. Was it a nuisance? Yes, yes and yes! Was it going to hinder my productivity? Somewhat. Did I have alternatives? Yes, I could go two doors down the road to my friend’s place where connectivity was not an issue. Can I still avoid the drive to work? Yup. What was I complaining about then? So many things were actually going in my favor.

The lack of internet turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I was efficient on the work front. I caught up on personal emails. And best of all, I was not tempted to check emails, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Hulu. I felt less scattered, and more present.

I am thankful that for the past two days Hari and I could get our work done by hopping over to my friend’s place. I am thankful that I have the flexibility to work at my pace on the work front. If internet hiccup was the worst thing that happened to me, then I am blessed to have had a good couple of days. There are people fighting tougher battles day in and day out.

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Learnings, Life, People, Uncategorized

Transgender Awareness Week

I read on FB that this week is Transgender Awareness Week. So thought I would share something that has been brewing in my head for sometime now. 

A colleague of mine is a transwoman. I have known her long before she transitioned (from male to female). When she disclosed her transition, it was a shock. I did not have an inkling! She has been generous about sharing her journey, educating the rest of the world about what it is to be trapped in a body that one does not belong to, about the high suicide rate amongst transgender people due to family pressure and societal stigma. It is not a life choice, she says. You don’t transition because you want to, you transition because you have to.

Can you imagine what a person with that condition must be going through? It must be an unbearable, excruciating, and lonely journey. Kudos to them for going through enormous physical, emotional and mental pain to be true to themselves. As a society, we have a lesson or two to learn. To not judge what we do not understand. To not dismiss what we do not relate to. 

I am proud of Massachusetts that voted YES on ballot question 3, which is s a referendum on the state’s 2016 transgender rights law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity in places of public accommodation, in the midterm.

On a side note, I thought Arundathi Roy did a fabulous job of articulating the inner turmoil of transgender people through her protagonist, Anjum, a hijra, in her novel the Ministry of Utmost Happiness. It’s worth a read.

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Experiences, Gratitude, Life

Second Chances

A friend of a friend went on his usual jog, the usual route;  just a little later than his usual time. He was struck by a car and he died on the spot. He is survived by his wife, who is about my age, and by his kids, nearly as old as my older and younger ones. A family’s life changed overnight. Just like that, for no rhyme or reason, for no fault of theirs.

They were the mom and daughter duo that everyone talked about. Their affection for each other stood out at all times. The mom was diagnosed with cancer and she lost her battle within the next three or four months. She was all flesh and blood, a proud mom, not so long ago.  Today, she lives in her daughters’ heart.  Who would have thought? 

Such is life! As random as randomness can be, isn’t it? As you go through life, you hear such stories. Things that hit closer to home, events that give a knock on your head and leave you shell shocked. And when life does that to you, you learn to be thankful for who you are and what you are blessed with. You learn to be humble. You learn not to sweat the small stuff. You learn to take note of the second chances. 

I am kick starting this years’ month long thanksgiving posts by offering thanks to the universe and the powers above for the second, third, fourth, fifth and the gazillion chances that I have been given in life. For the luxury of a clean slate, a fresh start, and new beginnings.  Time and again. 

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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. 

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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.

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Inspiration, Intentions, Introspection, Kids, Life, Uncategorized

Of goals and intentions for the school year

They are growing up fast and furious right under our noses. Ram is in 2nd grade, and Hari is in 8th grade. The highlight of this summer for them was spending time with my parents. The kids have basked in the love of their grandparents for the past few months.

Before the first day of school, we set intentions for the school year. For Ram, the only goal is to build daily habits. The more and more I read about habit forming, the more and more I am convinced that what we do on a daily basis matters. So much more than what we think. That’s the mantra I have been chanting all this summer, especially to the older one. With Ram, setting expectations and getting him on board with the expectations, is the crucial step. Once that is done, with some enforcement from our end, the child is generally good. He is a true Upholder at heart. The big caveat is the“some enforcement” part, which falls on yours truly lap, who is quite the slacker.

For Hari, the child has a lot going on. So the goal is to commit to those things that he is truly interested in. We will also work on basic life survival skills – daily habits, keeping a good attitude, building support system, making choices etc. The child will be in college in five years, and taking responsibility, practicing grit and becoming resilient do not happen one fine day. It has to built, cultivated and nurtured over the years with some tender, love and care.

I too have a goal for the school year. I am not by any stretch of imagination a Helicopter mom, let alone a Tiger mom. Mainly because it’s a lot of hard work and requires you to put your child’s need ahead of yours . For many many moms or all the moms that I know, this comes naturally. Unfortunately, that is not my instinct. I put my own pursuits and needs ahead of my kids. The good news is it works for us. The bad news is I am missing out. So I am setting a goal of being involved and engaged with my children’s learning experience this year. 

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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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