Experiences, Introspection, People, Uncategorized

Random updates

  • My cousin, the kid in our family, is getting married today. There is live streaming of his wedding.  While I may not be able to catch up due to time difference, it was a delight to catch glimpses of his nichiyadhartham video from yesterday.
  • A purposeful intentional hug says a whole lot where words fail. I am here for you. Thank you for being there for me. No words exchanged but volumes spoken.
  • The idea that has planted its roots in my head these days – kindness. Be kind, practice kindness, teach kindness. In all shapes, forms, and sizes. There is so much suffering and pain in this world. Kindness will not obliterate the suffering, but may be, just may be, it will give the strength to manage the suffering. Worth a shot, wouldn’t you agree? 
  • I read The Mothers by Brit Bennett. It was good enough to push its way through my reader’s block but not good enough to have me raving about it. What I liked about it is it humanizes motherhood – as glorified as motherhood is, mothers too come with their share of imperfections.
  • We are already in June, can you believe it?
  • I helped out with a memorial service today.  I am not able to take the family out of my mind. Please send a quiet prayer and healing vibes their way.
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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, People

Democracy

I have been very fortunate to have seen democracy work at close quarters.

Last year, my part of the town was at risk of being redistricted from elementary school perspective (that is instead of going to our home school, part of the incoming kindergartners were assigned to a different school). The neighborhood came together, brainstormed strategies to oppose the proposal and showed up at town meetings to voice our dissent. While I can’t claim to have played an active role, just being their passively was an eye opening experience. I learnt some valuable lessons that night as we high fived each other for making our voices heard – every single person counts in a democracy, never underestimate the power of your voice, and there is magic in numbers.

Tomorrow, it is election day in my town. We will be electing our Selectman, and School Committee members, amongst other positions. My next door neighbor and a good friend is contesting for school committee position because she believes that true change begins at grassroot levels. I second that, I second her, and it has been a privilege to support her in small ways. After seeing my neighbor work for the contest, I have a newfound respect for these elected officials, who  take these positions for the love of the town and to influence policies and decision making. These are voluntary positions that involve significant time commitment. So next time you meet these elected officials, remember to say a Thank You. They are working hard to make our voices heard, that’s the least we can do. 

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Experiences, Gratitude, Inspiration, Introspection, Life, People, seasons, Us

Free spirited

New Year’s day was sunnier and warmer than one would expect at this time of the year in this part of the world. So we picked our lethargic selves, and did something that we always wish we did more of – go to the city!  

Chillier than we had expected, the place was teeming with life and the new year spirit. We walked briskly as the kids played tag, sighted some ice sculptures that were slowly melting away, and then caught this street performer in action.  one-man-band

When I first say him, the term free spirited came to mind. There was something about him that said that he was doing this act for more than sustenance. He had random contraptions and knick knacks on his head, tied to his legs, and his hands. He was a one man band with a website! He sang the Beatles and even invited volunteers from the audience to join him.

Intrigued, I came home and googled him. This avid traveler was making music, and believed that the energy from the music created peace waves that free trouble spots in the world. The cynic in me rolled my eyes and thought it was bit of a stretch. Peace waves? trouble spots? really? But then it dawned on me – there is so much panic, cynicism, hatred and terror out there. Here is someone, who knows what his heart is after, has the courage to pursue it and in the process believes that he is making a difference in the world.

Selfishly I say,  more power and success to this one man band. We all could use some peace waves and free spirit in our lives, don’t you think?

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People, Wishes

Celebrating one-of-a-kind person

Today is Da’s sister’s birthday. Aaru (I am calling her Aaru in this space) is one of a kind. She is smart, compassionate, fun loving and people oriented. Aaru and Da share a very special sibling relationship, one that is devoid of expectations and is defined by utter trust in each other. She accepts and embraces her reality but never lets them define her. The past decade and a half I have known her, not once has she made a rude remark about anyone. With her smile and people loving nature, she puts everyone around her at ease. She is an everyday Santa who indulges her kids and nephews.

Happy B’day Aaru, may you be filled with the finest things in life, now and always! You are a blessing that I truly am thankful for.

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Introspection, People

Lightness

The message on whatsapp followed by the prayer hands emoji cracked me up. There is a certain lightness to the friendship with this person because it is still  in its early stages, unadulterated by expectations, judgments and a sense of entitlement.  As a result, there is enough space for each of us to just be.

How nice would it be if I extended the same lightness to relationships that are close to my heart?! Isn’t that the ultimate gift that one can give to a person that is close to one’s heart – the freedom to be who they are, no strings attached!

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Humor, People

A painting

My dad had sent this picture as a forward more than a year back. While I am not a big fan of forwards, this one stood out. This picture came with the following text, “Shri Shilpi A Child Being forcefully Made To Drink Castor Oil.” I cast a wide net in google, but did not uncover any additional information or pictures by this artist.

I fell in love with the myriad expressions in this drawing. There are 11 family members spanning three generations. Having seen and done this several times in their life span, the thatha and patti are very laid back. No need to get all worked up, they seem to have tricks up their sleeves. The appa and amma are tired of all this drama, bursting with impatience, this is another chore that needs to be ticked off in their list. Now gulp that spoon of castor oil, will you? While the anna seems to be empathetic, the akka sure is apathetic – what’s the big deal, if I drank it when I was your age, why can’t you? The kutti pattalam is dreading it all, knowing really well that they are next in line – ayoo! not us, not today, please, pretty please! Check out the tiniest tot of all, hiding behind her grandpa quiet as a mouse – I have a feeling that this child will get away from the ordeal…!

castor oil

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