Posted in Uncategorized

Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie

Reading this book was a roller coaster experience. The first 100 pages were truly difficult to read, and left me scratching my head. There was much ado about nothing. Why, oh why, has he devoted so many pages to that smelly boatman? I wanted to pull my hair out. My husband who had read the book as a college graduate gave me an empathetic nod. So ok, it’s not me then!

With that validation, I started plodding along, and somewhere along the way, the tangled web that he was weaving, and that play with words started taking a hold on me. With a boatload of characters, realism, special powers, political turmoil, twists and turns, it was hard work to keep up with the talkative Salim, the narrator and the protagonist. You are emotionally invested in the story.

In the end, you can’t help but admire Rushdie’s knack with words, and vivid imagination. How even when there are so many characters, they don’t feel unnecessary. Each of them has a role to play. And above all, just when he has made you laugh, he makes you cringe or strikes you with a tragedy. The seesaw of emotions you experience with the story sometimes makes you get angry with Rushdie.

I am not rating this book for now. I need to go back and savor it in bits and pieces to appreciate the nuances. Without being on the edge, without my reading prejudices. Defintiely give this book a shot, it will challenge you to be a patient reader.

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Happy 2019

Detached attachment to see things as they are without getting lost in the stories.  Second chances to learn, grow and evolve. A fresh start that frees you from the shackles of the past.  A place of strength and calm from within to lift your spirits. Small consistent daily habits that multiply over time. Fine health, robust mind, and a sharp intellect. Friends, family and faith. Love, care, and tenderness.

Wishing you all these and more in 2019 and beyond!

Posted in 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!

Posted in Hari Katha, Uncategorized

The World Stops (Embracing Change – part 5)

In early September,

Mona and I were enjoying some brunch

Just like friends in the USA do

 

Suddenly I felt like something was wrong

I felt like that the whole had stopped

I knew that something disastrous had occurred

I could feel it

 

Suddenly, my new Nokia rang

It was Ard

Did you hear what happened?

 

My head was spinning, I did not know what was happening

Looking across,

I saw the same look on Mona’s face

Some terrorist took down the Twin Towers

It was Ard

My face immediately became as large as dinner plates

I could not believe it!

The tallest building in the world

Destroyed?

 

What would people think

When they see an immigrant like me

Who in their opinion

May look like a terrorist?

 

I gave myself a reassuring smile

I should know not to digress like that

I have been through so much

And an attack

Will not prevent me

From being a successful person

 

I know that whenever I am faced with change

I should not panic

I should embrace it!

Some context: What do you remember the most about the year you came to the US? Can’t beat 9/11, can I? I was lunching with my friend and Da had called. 

Posted in Uncategorized

A New Hope (Embracing Change – Part 4)

Since I am an immigrant

I am not allowed to

Have a legal job yet

So I volunteer at a homeless shelter

 

On my first day, I feel like a mouse surrounded by cats

What will people make of an Indian woman?

Will they judge?

I nervously walk into the entrance of the shelter

Not knowing what to expect

 

In the shelter, there were names posted

Of people who would volunteer

 

I optimistically scoured the list of names

Hoping to see an

Arjun, Arun, Aarav, Rama or a Parvathi

 

But instead I was met with names like

Chris, Dave, Matt, Suzy, Joe and Bob

So different

 

As I got to the last name on the list

I almost did a happy dance

I read the name out loud

Mona Mehta

Finally!

A name that resonated with me!

 

As I looked at the volunteers trickling in,

My eyes fell on one

Her skin was like chocolate

Her hair the color of a crow

Just like me

As her eyes laid on me,

She gave me a wink

 

I knew from that moment

That we would be good friends

My roller coaster ride in the US

Was about to go up

Some context: came here on a dependent visa. Not being able to work was the most difficult thing to get used to. But I volunteered, and in the process made a life long friend. 

Posted in Hari Katha, Uncategorized

A Unique Milestone (Embracing Change – Part 3)

Today is April 28

Which is also my birthday

I find it integral

To take the time

To reflect on my peregrination

From my childhood days

 

I lived in an exquisite town by the name of Trichy

Situated near Madras

 

I lived in a tall brick house

On a 100 feet road

 

I owned a twenty-inch TV

Where I would watch movies

During the weekend

I really looked forward to that

 

But now

All movies

Have actors as pale as milk

And speak with a weird accent

It is so different

 

I always put pressure on myself

When it comes to academics

For I know

What I am capable for me

Sometimes it is a challenge

Other times it is rewarding

 

As a treat

My parents

Would take me to the movies

And we would go to a restaurant

As a treat

I really looked forward to that

 

But now

My parents

Are on the other side of the world

And I am too old for school

I miss the good old days

Things are so different

Some context: What were some of your favorite memories? Watching oliyum oliyum, chitrahaar, hindi movies on Saturdays, tamil movies on Sundays, going out for movies after exams.

Posted in Uncategorized

Standing Out (Embracing Change – Part 2)

A month after settling in America

Ard brings home a guest

 

With a face as white as a ghost

Leather jacket

Peach beard

Eyes the color of the sky

 

Ard introduces me to him

His name is Tim

 

Glad that my husband made friends

I tried to show as much graciousness as possible

I tried to create conversation

 

Where are you put up?

 

It was a simple question

One we Indians ask frequently

 

However, his reaction was a nonconformity to me

His lips turned into questioning frown

I could sense Ard stiffen

I knew that I had made a mistake

Speaking out like that

 

Yet I did not know what had happened

 

Later, Ard informed me

And spoke to me

English in India is different from the English in the USA

People do not use that phrase

It is confusing to Americans when you say that

 

Ask “Where do you live” instead

 

Taking what he told me in

I felt a new sense of loneliness

I felt the world was so much different

Although we humans are all so similar

 

From then on

I felt

Settling in the US is easier said than done

Some context: What were some things that took you by surprise? Although people understood my english they did not understand how phrased the questions. I knew my accent was different but was surprised that how I phrased the question was different.