Posted in Dance, Family, Gratitude, Inspiration, Intentions, Introspection, Life, Little Moments, Wishes

The journey

Unbeknownst to me, tears were streaming down my face as the recital came to a conclusion. They were not tears of joy or sorrow; they were the culmination of an experience that was so profound that it brought the vastness and depth within me to the forefront.  The guru, holding the hands of his sishaya, bowing to the audience in reverence, in humility. The audience, drenched in the experience, elevated and humbled by it.  Perhaps, this is what they mean by the soul in me bows to the soul in you?  

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The recital was also tinged by a pang. One that comes from the knowledge that I can only be a rasika. The one that is dazzled but not the one to dazzle. The one that tried but the one that did not go much further. 

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Hari, Ram and I headed to the attic, our weekend sleeping arrangment. We exchanged notes on the day’s happenings. It was a milestone day for Hari. He played in adult cricket league with a red ball (that’s a milestone for wannabe cricketers).  He got two wickets, gave more runs than he would like, which was partly attributable to the size of the field, and he ended up umpiring as well.  Ram naarated his deed for the day – how he helped appa with yard work and shopping for pavers for the patio. Then, I told him about the evening, how I wished that all the people that I loved could experience what I did – something that was bigger than the self.  

I drifted off to sleep reliving the dance. The concept of yathi that I learnt in the workshop last week so beautifully articulated in the dance. The geometric patterns of the yathi shown gracefully in the mridangam, damuru, nandi’s tail, and the waves of ganga. Bharathiyar’s poem gnyayiru – are you the sun that gives light to darkness or are you the one to kill it? – narrated through dance. One form of art blending with the other. Then came the story of the Ganges – her origin, her role as sustainer of life (birth, maturity, and death all found in the river), and her current plight. A dance item that made me reflect on the sanctity of life forms and natural resources. Then came Rama’s virakthi at losing Sita. Shringara is pervasive in Bharatanatyam but more often than not, it is the heroine pining for the hero. This one was unique portrayal of a heartbroken hero. A sweet reminder that shringara is not exclusive to women. The finale was fitting with Krishna mukunda murari – we are born alone, we die alone, but we live together. Why criticise, why blame, why not treat each other well? 

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I woke up this morning earlier than I wanted to. Ram drifting to me, his arms instinctively reaching out to my body for the warmth. The recital from last evening still fresh in my mind. The brilliance of portraying the cow’s tail for gopucha yathi. The way the night that was described as a kadhali, shown elegantly. The eyes darting left and right in all speeds for mrignayani. The swaying and dancing of Krishna.

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Downstairs, I can hear Da. The man, who loves his glory sleep, is up bright and early, making tea and breakfast. He has a full day of chauffeuring the boys to towns far away for sports practice. He takes it in stride, without complaints, without expecting me to ease the load for him. Ram is mildly upset that we did not wake him early. You still have plenty of time, don’t stuff scrambled eggs in your mouth, drink some water, I remind him while I am sipping my morning tea without a hurry in the world. Hari comes down with a super stuffy nose, “I had the worst night with my allergies amma.” He was sleeping right next to me, and I had no clue. Why can’t I be that kind of mom that turns the world upside down to make her child’s life easier? I don’t say that to him but chide myself in my head. I just tell him I wish I was awake with him so I could have done something to make him feel better. “Don’t worry amma, if it was unmanageable I would have woken you up.”  

Seeing the morning play out in front of me hits me that I am not needed, I am wanted. That I am loved for who I am, with my imperfections, without any conditions. How lucky am I? 

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Being loved by my family unconditionally reminds me to be gentle on myself. Self compassion trickles in.

It’s true. Life is not a level playing field. We are born with our uniques abilities, strenghts, weaknesses and circumstances. There are some things that are not within our control. There are some things that are within our control that we do little about. It’s ok. It’s ok to be the one that tried. It’s ok to be human. And I remind myself again – it’s not a means to an end, it’s an end by itself. It’s the practice. It’s all about the journey. 

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Posted in Experiences, Gratitude, Life, Little Moments, Memories, Wishes

Whats on my mind

The impulse to write ebbs and flows but my practice of writing seems to only ebb. When the impulse strikes, the mundaness of life takes over. And when the mundaness of life takes a break, the impulse also takes a break. 

So what thoughts are swirling in my head on this Saturday morning? 

  • All my social media feeds were filled with Women’s day wishes. I will confess that I felt like an impostor, suffered from survivor’s guilt, and thought of myself as undeserving of these wishes. I mean people are celebrating certain kind of women – the ones that have shattered glass ceilings, that have succeeded against all odds, and that have shown immense strength, courage and resilience. All of which are excellent reasons to celebrate. But instead of naming days like Woman’s Day or Mother’s Day, in my not so humble opinion, I think we should have days like the Day of Resilience, Day of Nurturers, Day of Courage etc. I mean why should just being a woman be a cause for celebration? Why are men of courage and strength left out? Let ordinary women have the honor of wishing the extraordinary, women or men, in their lives.
  • After a long long hiatus, Ram and I are reading together again. We are currently reading Swami and Friends by R.K. Narayan. This has been a pleasure at so many levels. Ram’s class is “collecting words” so we were collecting some “un” words in the chapter – unnoticed, unobserved, unfortunate, undoing… and few more that tickled us in the moment but that I have long forgotten. Other than Calvin and Garfield, Ram now has found a new hero in Swami. Ha, the world through the eyes of Swami is so delightful and relatable.  And for me, the writing reminded me so much of how my thatha used to write. You know the kind that starts with “Seeking the blessing of Lord Rama” , with fine lanugage, immpecable grammar, no strikeouts, just the words seamlessly flowing on paper. 
  • Hari has registered for his High School courses. Yes, yes, this baby of ours that we dropped in preschool yesterday is going to high school tomorrow. I went through all emotions. On curriculum day, I justed wanted to turn around and go home. Then I agonized over whether he was taking up too much workload. Then I started doubting if he was taking courses that matched his potential. Then all that back and forth discussion between the three of us, and then with the counselors. It’s not as much about the process being hard as it is about being new to us. After going through all that, I feel a sense of calm, readiness, and even excitement for this child of ours…!!
  • My workplace went through a significant milestone and I am in the midst of humungus changes. It is not fun but one that is needed for me to shake my inertia and pay attention to my career path. Between work related changes, and my other passions taking a back seat, I do get restless and feel like I am in a slump on some days. Thankfully, the sense that I should take ownership for making things happen propels me from that state.

That’s some unsolicited peek into my life this morning. Have a good weekend folks!

Posted in Gratitude, Hari Katha, Holidays, Wishes

The Best Thanksgiving Present

Today, we are celebrating not only Thanksgiving but also our first born’s 14th birthday. I have to pinch myself nice and hard on this day every year to make sure I am not dreaming. It feels fresh, like he was born just yesterday.

I believe that each age and stage has a certain beauty, something special and unique to that phase. Teenage years are no exceptions. The drama, the rolling of the eyes, the stomping of the feet, the dismissal of whatever is being told to him… it’s cute in its own way especially when you understand that it does not come from a place of malice but from a healthy dose of rebellion and an illusion of knowing it all. A teenager is a grown up and a child at the same time. He is an extra pair of eyes and an extra set of helping hands that you can count on. He thinks on his feet, problem solves for you, comforts you, and sometimes even nudges you. Beneath all that rebellion, he is still a child who seeks for your approval and validation. “Amma do you want to watch me play trumpet,” “Do you think you can come to see me pitch.” While sleep overs are thing of the past, there is still that need to catch up at the end of the day. “So what’s up amma? Want to catch up?” There is so much you can do with your teenager – watching Sherlock Holmes, discuss politics, share life’s conundrums, be each other’s accountability partners, to name a few.

To my loving, kind, hardworking, smart, sports crazy child, a very happy b’day. Be you, stand up for yourself and for others, practice kindness at all times, work on your daily habits, always give your personal best, enjoy the journey, follow your interests, and pour your heart and soul into them. Seeing you grow up and blossom into the person you are has been a blessing that we hold very close to our hearts. Love you immensely, our precious!

 

Posted in Family, Gratitude, Wishes

Amma (mother-in-law)

Drafted yesterday but could not post it due to internet issues at home

Hari and my mother-in-law share the same nakshatiram and tamizh birth month, so they share their star birthday. Today (Nov. 19th) is Hari’s star birthday and I have been thinking of amma, who is alive in our hearts and memories but not in flesh and blood. If you have followed this space for some time now, you would know that amma was very progressive for her generation, was light hearted, and had a zest for life that was contagious. She and my parents shared a relationship that was built on mutual respect and free of expectations; not bitterness or resentment, which is more common place in arranged marriages than you would think. Both her children, Da and Aaru, take after her in many aspects – street smarts, not making much ado about anything, and always assuming positive intent and seeing good in people. My deep gratitude to the universe for connecting our families together. I feel incredibly lucky to be married into this family.  Happy star b’day to amma and Hari.

Posted in Family, Gratitude, Milestones, Wishes

Milestones

This year is a milestone year in our family. My twin, Sathya, and I turned 40 in April. Amma turned 60 in August. Appa is turning 70 today!

Happiest of birthdays to appa. He is someone who knows class, and has a keen eye for details. Whatever he does, he does it thoroughly, with discipline, giving his all. If you want to go shopping, he is the man you should go with. He would point out nuances that would not have crossed your mind in your wildest dreams.  He is an astute observer, who especially loves keeping track of directions and routes. Best of all, he has golden heart, and loves his family and friends fiercely and intensely. To a man of quality, wishing the finest quality of life that life has to offer. Wishing you happiness, good health and peace of mind.

I missed writing on amma’s b’day. Amma amazes me with her ability to adapt and reinvent herself. UNO, pretend games, lazer tag, painting, – she lapped it all this time! I am mighty proud of you amma, and I wish you with all the things that you wish for, now and always.

Posted in Family, Gratitude, Intentions, Life, Little Moments, Milestones, Wishes

Old friends, new neighbors

I wrote the below post (modified some parts here) about my childhood friend, V,  in my old blog in 2009. V is the kind of friend you can text and ask, can you get me thoor dhal? And then two minutes later, add, can you also get me some cooked thoor dhal ? She is the kind of friend whose door you can knock on at 4 am to drop off your first child while in labor with your second child and head to the hospital knowing that she would take care of your child better than you would.  You can ask for all these favors without feeling like you are imposing on her. We don’t label our friendship or talk for hours together but it’s a quite, reassuring bond where no explanations are needed or the intent ever questioned.

Last week, V and family moved into their newly bought house, which is two houses next to ours.  Sweet lucky coincidence!.Here’s wishing her and her family sweet moments, big and small, and happy memories as they settle in their new abode.

My association with her was through my brother. She and he were in the same class through secondary and first two years of high school. Then our paths crossed in 11th std. That was when we ended up in the same class as we opted to pursue commerce, economics and accountancy for higher education. I remember sitting next to her on the first day of class. Or am I making this up in my head?  I am not sure and that minutia doesn’t seem to matter after all these years. We hung out with each other. A lot. At intervals, during lunch hour, outside school, at the temple, in our houses, during tuition classes. Chitchatting about school, friends, family, this, and that. There was never a shortage of topics. I was fond of the BHEL quarters that she lived in, enjoyed some of aunty’s delicacies, deemed it a privilege being in the company of uncle, and took inspiration from her brother. I knew her extended family and friends by names.

After those much cherished couple of years, it was time to bid adieu as my dad’s job took my family to different places. We kept in touch. Wrote to each other regularly. I looked forward to sleep overs at her place whenever I visited Trichy and she came to spend a couple of days with me in Coimbatore. A few years rolled by in this manner. Then she got married, four days after I got engaged. Want to know the best part? Both of us were heading to the same destination after tying the knot- Boston. Who would have thought and how special is that! Her being here made a big difference to my transition. You see there were a plethora of things to discuss  – married life, America, India, setting up new home, groceries, cooking, cleaning, school days, deals, vacations. And who better to discuss it with than a good old friend?

After all these years, I think of her as family. Someone who knows my history and someone with whom I have grown up. Someone who will remind me of the person. We have seen each other undergo a number of life changing events. I have seen her in labor, hours before she gave birth to her son. I have seen her grieve the loss of a loved one two months later. I have seen the warmth she exudes on her mom, and the pillar of support that she is to her family and friends, Acceptance and Faith are words that come to mind when I think of her.

Posted in 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!