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, Family, Introspection, Learnings, Little Moments, Memories, People, Research, Travel, Trying, Us

Goldstars

Gretchen Rubin and her sister Elizabeth in Happier with Gretchen podcast have a segment called Goldstar and Demerit. Think of Goldstar as a pat on the shoulder or a smiley face 🙂 and a Demerit as a kick on the bottom or a frowning face 🙁. In a fit of silliness, I started doling out Goldstars and Demerits to the kids during the trip and somehow it has caught on. Every now and then, the boys now come up to me and ask , “Do I get a Goldstar for cleaning up?” “Do I get a Goldstar for doing my homework on time?” I think it is beginning to mean something to them, I can see their eyes shining at the mention of Goldstar. Funny, what started of as a joke is evolving into something more meaningful. 

Why not some travel related Goldstars to all of us?

  • Goldstar to Da, for taking the plunge, and booking the tickets. I kept dilly dallying, procrastinating and feeling utterly overwhelmed. Not knowing where to begin, I conveniently resorted to inaction. Also, Goldstar to Da for constantly making conversations with the Ticos to get local knowledge on places to visit. Thanks to him, we visited the botanical garden and learnt about the artisans shops, which we would not have uncovered otherwise.
  • Goldstar to Hari, for carrying us through this trip with his spanish. He has had only two years of training at school, so is not an expert by any stretch of imagination. Yet, he conversed with the driver, the shopkeepers, and the restaurant folks. Thanks to him, we did not feel the pinch of visiting a country that spoke an unfamiliar language. Mighty proud of him!
  • Goldstar to Ram, for being a trooper. The child had ear infection, bronchitis, and was coughing throughout the trip. But he held on, did not complain, and was eager to take in the travel.  
  • Goldstar to yours truly, for ensuring the house was in order before we left and that our routine would be seamless following our return. I also read up a lot and familiarised myself with the Costa Rican culture prior to the trip.
  • Goldstar to my friends, P and V. We went to Costa Rica from New Jersey. P’s place in NJ is like a second home for us. We go there without even packing our toiletries. Not only did we have a good time there, P helped us with all things that we would need before and after travel. My childhood friend V, did the housekeeping for us here, and welcomed us with home cooked meals and groceries for this week. Truly, I have the best of friends!
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Experiences, Family, Gratitude, Health and fitness, Intentions, Introspection, Life, Memories

Hiya!

Anybody missed me? Please fake a yes, will you? I missed being here immensely. 

I have a lot to share. A lot to write. A lot to be recorded in this journal of mine. And I intend to do that in due course. 

May reflections – May, as I had alluded to in April, was anything but normal. I didn’t even attempt to eat healthy or exercise. Some phases in life are like that, it just consumes you and that’s ok.  I just wish come June, I had atleast made an attempt to get into the mindset of eating healthy and working out. But mindset hardly changes like the the flip of a switch. The mind needs time – to resist, to turnaround, and then finally embrace the intentions. Atleast, that’s how mine works. So I am sitting tight, entertained by the drama within.  

Work update – The person who hired me was let go in work related reorganization. While  I expected to feel incredibly sad, I was surprised by the sense of loss I felt. She was passionate, detail-oriented, pushed back and had a way with pushing people out of comfort zone. She was a mentor to me, one who has shaped my work ethics through her working style. I miss her a lot and wish that she had left with the recognition that she deserved. The project that we are working on is not the same without her touch.

Family visit – My parents will be staying for sometime, while my sister-in-law and family will leave soon. A few weeks back we had even more house guests. It feels like the house renovation has served it’s purpose, allowing us to have our near and dear ones under one roof. The kids are soaking it up and we are grateful that everyone left their lives behind to spend time with us.

Dance – I have missed classes and I am missing this summer’s production. Once I pick up my routine, I resolve to make more time for dance and make up for it.

Sunday school – We had our last day of Sunday school last week. I will miss my fourth graders, much fun was had learning and growing.  This year’s cherry on cake was being able to volunteer in Hari’s class. Loved getting to know Hari in a classroom setting. Loved seeing the first set of kids I taught all grown up. Loved working with other teachers and getting to know them. I also did multiple dance workshops, it felt special to bring one part of my life to another part of my life and seeing the dots connect. Greatful for the opportunity. 

More to come! Hope all of you are keeping well in your neck of the woods.

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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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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.

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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!

 

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Experiences, Experiments, Family, Little Moments, Memories, Milestones, Us

Solar Eclipse 2017

The total solar eclipse of 2017 was an underwhelming experience in our part of the country. From what I saw on the live streaming of the eclipse, for folks who experienced it first hand, it was spectacular and profound – the temporary darkness smack in the middle of the day, the sudden chilling of the air, and the realization that we are all connected by this cosmic energy. I can only imagine!

We too had our share of fun. Yesterday, Da had made a contraption out of a carton for our viewing. It was super fun parading in and out of the house to catch a glimpse of the sun and the moon playing tango.

I hear we will be in the path for the next total solar eclipse in 2024, so better luck to us then.

See that crescent shaped sun? 

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Experiences, Family, Gratitude, Holidays, Kids, Little Moments, Memories, Now

Kids and summer break

The kids are on the last week of summer vacation. The past 6 weeks have gone by in the blink of an eye. Another milepost in the passage of time. Barring a couple of weeks, the boys  have been attending summer camps. Between my dance productions and all the construction work, that seemed to be the fair thing to do. 

It gladdens my heart to see Hari rested and relaxed. He has had his fill of cricket, baseball and books for the summer. The poor child has been suffering from allergies this month, must be a combination of pollen and all the dust floating around with the construction work. It must be frustrating to have fragmented sleep but the child has been taking it in stride – “I sneeze and have runny nose, but I end up slowly drifting  off to sleep. So don’t worry about it amma”  

Ram has been fervently working on Perler beads, teaching himself from google images and youtube videos. As I write this post, he is trying his hands on 3D designs. When he is not working on fuse beads, he is lost to the written word. The child sure knows to enjoy his own company. We have read so little together this summer. Our reading during breakfast is currently non-existent. Partly because I have not made the time and partly because there is very little eating going on at breakfast when reading is involved. We just need to find a way to sneak in some reading time together. I am not ready to let go of that yet.

We still have not figured out the extra activities for the school year. For Hari, we have a rough sense. For Ram, some homework is still in order. 

I am not ready for back to school yet. I have neither spent quality nor quantity time with my rambunctious bundles of joy.  No matter what else I may have accomplished, the summer still feels incomplete.

“It’s okay, it’s okay,” I console myself in an act of self-compassion.  I cannot have it all. But the bigger truth is, even when I may have been clueless about their days, I have been quietly soaking in the finer things that parenting entails. Enjoying the glint of naughtiness in their eyes, swelling with pride when they save treats for each other, loving them all over as they peacefully drift to dreamland, taking in the sight of them deeply engrossed in their books, and watching them devour cookie dough ice cream with anticipation although they have had it a million times. 

This summer has not been a summer of going away, beach trips, bike rides or even play dates. It has been a time of quiet presence, simple living, and glorious nothingness in our household. 

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