Posted in Inspiration, Introspection, Learnings, Little Moments, Me, Reading, Uncategorized, Us

On reading

We were resting in the tent indulging in the leisure that a beach trip rewards you with. I looked up from my book and declared to nobody in particular, “Poor Mr. Darcy. All because he was an introvert!” My unintentional and sudden outburst elicited uncontrollable giggles from my offsprings. After the amusement settled down, the first born quizzed, “Who is Mr. Darcy”, the second born questioned, “What does an introvert mean?”  Their questions were lost on me, as I had long delved back into the world of  Lizzy, Darcy, Jane and Bingley, oblivious to my curious boys. They gave up and ran back to the waves. 

It felt so good to be lost in this world that Jane Austen had built that it was a sweet burden to pull the mind back to where the body was. What fine writing!

The reading experience was reassuring because I was beginning to wonder if my love for reading was just a figment of my imagination; something that I made up in my mind. Perhaps I liked the idea of reading more than reading itself?  I felt like an imposter when I borrowed books from the library. Finally,  I feel liberated from those self-doubts! For sure, I can say, I too love reading!

A couple of weeks back during our road trip, the conversation meandered to reading styles and habits. I told the family how I tend to take a long time to warm up to characters and story plot. That I read the first few pages very very slowly, and at some point, there is a flip of the switch and the pace picks up. Hari, who likes to read books in one sitting, said he has a different style. “I love reading the first portion of any book. It is so exciting to get introduced to all the characters and see the story unfold. It is in the middle that I slow down.” Da, who is a very fast reader, commented that for him it is the last part of any story that slows him down. And not wanting to be left out, the voracious reader of the family, our Ram, piped in, “I don’t slow down at all. I like reading the first, the second and the last part”  Atta boy! I thought to myself. Not necessarily for what he said on his reading style but that he made his opinion matter. A lot of times, may be because he is small relative to the rest of us, we overlook him on subjects that involve deeper discussion but he always stands tall,  makes his voice heard, and weighs in with his thoughts. Never ceases to surprise me. Anyway, I digress.

This discussion was a revelation to me. It made me cognizant of my reading style and helped me figure out why I have been reading less. The first few chapters requires that I stick to the book, so it can grip me.  Without understanding that piece, I have been expecting to instantly immerse myself in the story and have ended up feeling utterly disappointed.  I am not sure I got my reading mojo back but it is good to know that there is some mojo left.

What is your reading style? Do you ever suffer from a reading block? What are you reading? What is next on your list?

Posted in Experiences, Gratitude, Milestones, Ram Leela, Reading

Drum rolls please!

yRam: Mom, why are you using baby soap for me?

Me: Who said that this is baby soap?

Ram: See, it says on the bottle.

Me: I did not read that Ram. But are you able to read what’s written on the bottle? You can read now?

Ram: Yes amma. I can read three or four letters. But not difficult complicated words. I read by myself when you are not around.

Me: Can you please read to me this evening, that would make me soooo happy!

I love this age and stage when learning is curiosity and not necessity driven. When there are no have to, just want to in a child’s vocabulary. When learning happens naturally and effortless. Ram has been picture walking for the longest time and I have wondered if picture walking had become a crutch that was holding him back from reading words. Even if it were, I think it’s still a good thing because he got to experience the book the way he wanted to. He read the 10 Apples up on top from the first to the last page last night. A smile slipping through the corner of his mouth and a sense of pride glinting in his eyes. Yay Ram, yay to a lifetime of reading…! May your love for the written word last forever.

Posted in Books 2016, Inspiration, Learnings, Reading, Research, Uncategorized

MS – A Life in Music by T.J.S. George

As a child, I grew up listening to devotional songs by MS – the Hanuman Chalisa, the Ramnavali, the Suprabatham, and the Vishnu Sahasranamam. One of my proud mommy moments was when my 2-year old second born would regale us with the singing of the first few words of Bhaja Govindam by MS when he had barely begun to string words into sentences. Every once in a while, I would resolve to play her songs at home as steadfastly as my dad did, only to let it slip in the humdrum of life. 

MS, to me and to several others exposed to her mellifluous voice and divine rendition, is synonymous with devotion. A certain sense of peace pervades your being as you lose yourself to her singing. Little did I know that underlying that serenity were stormy forces and scandalous events that made MS a household name in south India.

In this biography, MS – A life in Music, author T.J.S. George has done a phenomenal job of writing the life story of MS in the context of the societal norms, the evolving performing arts, and the people in her life – notably her mom Shanmughavadivu, her husband Sadasivam, and her contemporaries.

I confess that half way through the book, a part of me wished that I had not started this book because I was worried that I would feel let down – I would form impressions of MS that I didn’t want to. But I am glad that I persisted because the rest of the book so beautifully reinforced how that her enablers (her mom and her husband) may have made calculated moves to make MS popular but that did not in anyway adulterate her dedication to her art . From the beginning to end, MS did what she knew best – being true to her music. With passion. With discipline. And devotion. Nothing else mattered to her. 

If you heart MS or are a music lover, this is the book for you. You will not only end up learning more about the legend but become more knowledgeable about the dynamics that shaped the carnatic music through generations. 

I leave you with few lines from the book that tugged at my heartstrings.

“Her involved non-involvement, her detached attachment somehow enhanced her beatific profile. She was Sadasivam’s wife, Rajaji’s disciplie, Kalki Krishnamurthi’s friend, but she was always MS. In the end, she herself was her music and her bhakthi. In the end she attained what the people around her seemed to miss – a sense of fulfillment. Sadasivam was successful and devout, but did he find ultimate fulfilment? Rajaji stayed for long at the top of political and social pyramids, but did he find the satisfaction of the true achiever?

A look at MS was enough to convince anyone that she had found herself. When she sang the Rajaji hymn “Kurai ondrum illai” it was like she was telling the world about herself and thanking her god for his blessings. One word occurred frequently in the language of those who met MS in her later years: Glow. Everyone talked about how she glowed from within. In the midst of frenetic life, she had found serenity. An aura of grace surrounded her.

Posted in Experiences, Kids, Learnings, Little Moments, Me, Reading

Love affair with the library

One of the things that wowed me when I first came to the US was the public library in my town. The sheer size of the building, the breadth and depth of of books, CDs, videos and DVDs, the ability to borrow a boatload of them for free, the concept of library passes for museums and aquariums, the general peace and quiet in the building. Suffice to say my respect for my new home country climbed several notches higher after every library visit, which was a daily affair during the first few months.

Fast forward a decade, my admiration has not diminished an iota. If at all, the minions of the house have taken it to the next level. Our week is amiss without a visit to the library. Once in the library, we stick to a certain routine that we have developed over the numerous visits. Hari heads to the comics section, and then to the fiction. I tag along with Ram to the DVD section, then to the lego display, and then to his books. We pry the collection to see what catches our fancy for the evening. Once his needs are met, book in hand, Ram follows me to the adults section. He lies down comfortably on his belly on the bench, swinging his legs, as he hungrily studies the details on his borrowed book – he doesn’t know to read yet but I have not seen a more voracious reader.  I browse through the “Read Now” section and recently returned books with the secret conviction that there is a book waiting to come home with me. Then, the three of us settle ourselves in the comfy couches and lose ourselves to the written word. For those few minutes, life sure is at its best!


Given how much we cherish our library visits, little wonder that we have a vested interest in making it a better place. So when an opportunity to give back to the library knocked at my doors, I grabbed it with my hands, legs and what not.  With seed of an idea, a small group of like-minded folks got together to plan a fundraising event over the past few months. Our work came to fruitation last weekend. While we cannot claim to have had runaway success, my heart feels full knowing that we made a difference. As a side benefit,  I also got an opportunity to hone my mediocre sari tying skills and be a cultural ambassador for the Indo American community in my own small ways.

Posted in Experiences, Inspiration, Introspection, Reading

Word play

A friend’s friend mooted the idea of six-word ollarals (gibberish) that can loosely be interpreted as stories. I had a blast spinning these 20 tales.

  1. To let go, she held on.
  2. Happy 10th, surprised child, mixed emotions.
  3. Head rules, heart weeps, soul ponders.
  4. A moment of weakness. Lifelong sadness.
  5. Volumes spoken in the loud silence.
  6. Some carry in womb. Others in heart.
  7. Why? he asked. Why not? she replied.
  8. Mind spinning. Thoughts tumbling. Words humbling.
  9. Rich in intentions. Poor in translation.
  10. She is wise. He is otherwise.
  11. Labor of love yields sweet fruits.
  12. Unexpressed emotions locked in heartfelt words.
  13. She gave up. He let go.
  14. The game of life – ace it!
  15. Imagination soars, brevity holds, creativity unfolds!
  16. You and I make wonderful Wes.
  17. Time stands, life sprints, death stops.
  18. Peppy tune, happy feet, soaring spirits.
  19. Timeless moments, priceless values, meaningful memories
  20. Stomach rumbling, mouth grumbling, senses plummeting.

Have a good week.