Posted in 2020, Covid, Experiences, Writing

A child of leisure, Covid summer

Not the one to sleep in, he wakes up before 7:00 AM on most days. He walks on his tippy toes, careful not to draw attention, sneaks into the office, grabs his Kindle, and scurries back to his room quite as a mouse. The book he had placed on hold a couple of weeks back is downloaded and he happily gets lost in it until his tummy grumbles. Ha, breakfast time! He descends downstairs imagining all the butter he is going to slather on the light fluffy croissant. The omelette his mom made before she hopped on her morning call is waiting for him at the counter. Croissant toasted, Bournvita mixed in creamy milk, and with omelette on the side, he heads out to the patio. With the morning breeze, and the chirping birds to give him company, he settles down on the bold and bright colored beach chair. He savors every bite of his breakfast, giving it his undivided attention, as if that is the only thing that mattered at that moment. 

His stomach and heart full, he takes his bike from the garage, goes up and down his street ten times like his dad has instructed him to. One check against his list of things to do for the day. He moves on to his music practice. It feels like work as he starts but soon he finds himself practicing more than he intended to. That is his second check mark on his list. Enough of check marks, this is summer, and he is not going to allow himself to be bound by checkmarks. So his footsteps take him to where his heart is. That book he was reading on Kindle in the morning. And before he knows it, his mom calls out for him for lunch. It’s spinach dhal with cabbage kai, not what he had hoped for but atleast better than the dhalai upma that he had the earlier night.

Lunch done, he heads to the home office, grabs his ipad and searches for knights and archers. He is in the mood to draw a scene in the battlefield.  Amused with his creation, he rushes to anna to narrate the story behind the scene. Big mistake, anna now wants to play basketball with him in the driveway. Not what he had in his mind.  Ayyoooo…!!! They dribble some but mostly they are chit chatting. About this and that. His anna is one of his favorite people on earth. They fight a lot but they also care for each other a whole lot. 

Reluctantly, he now revisits the list of things to do. Writing and math. He grabs his daily journal, and today he decides to write a review of the book he last read. Then he does some word problem on fractions. That’s it for today!  He has done more than his share of work. He decides to treat himself with a snack. He loves the ritual of assembling his snack. First he lays out all the crackers, eight of them. Then he takes a slice of cheddar cheese and a slice of swiss cheese, and deftly places them on the crackers. He grabs a mango yogurt. He heads to the living room, plonks himself on the couch, and enjoys the well deserved snack, one bite at a time.  The sharpness of the cheddar, and the blandness of the swiss competing to complement the salty crackers. By the time his snack is done, Appa and amma wind up for the day and they all head out for a walk in the neighborhood and soon after they will watch Baby Yoda and the Mandalorian.

A typical day in the summer of 2020. No camps, no hopping from soccer field to baseball diamond, no tension of being late to music class. Just being, no doing. A child of leisure, this has been his best summer.

Posted in Covid, Experiences, Experiments, Little Moments, Ram Leela, Writing

Haiku, Ram’s take

Haiku was one of the topics covered in Ram’s third grade remote learning. He was fascinated by the notion of counting syllables and writing something around the 5-7-5 syllables structure. 

During summer break, we have stipulated that he write something every day. Originally, he came up with the idea of writing a chapter book that involved a zombie cat, super dog and other fun characters but then quickly changed his mind. Why bother writing pages when he can spend a fraction of time and energy writing Haikus. You see, it’s all about maximizing output with minimal efforts!

I will give it to the child. Everyday after breakfast, he settles down with a notebook in front of him and a pencil in hand. And I have the unenviable task of coming up with a topic that inspires him. “What do you think I should write mama?”  Some days it doesn’t take much. “I am in the mood for writing something about nature”  he would declare, and I would rattle some ideas. On other days, we are in a slump. Like today, the topic of Haiku ended up being Ovaltine. 

I am sharing a few of the Haikus he has written. I did not have the heart to change the spelling here, the beauty is in that imperfection, in that dripping innocence. A child’s take at the world around him. 

Leafs (Leaves)

Dancing in the wind

Floating away to the ground

Crunch under my fead (feet)

Black Lives Matter

Everyone is the same

Everyone is fair and square

Hashtag B.L.M.

Sun

It comes out on days

It showers its blazing rays

It goes home at night

Mother Earth

The earth protects us

She gives us the things we need

She is a good home

4th of July

We sit in the dark

Awesome fireworks pop up

I am having fun

Snake

He slithers around

He is hidden from his prey

Then he bites his prey

Racoon

He can be sneaky

He eats from your garbage can

He is a burglar

Chocolate

It is very good

It is smooth and deliscious (delicious)

It is dark delight

Bird’s Nest

He lives over there

Inside a home made of twigs

Housing all his eggs

Posted in Covid, Perspectives, Writing

Covid Perspectives

Curveballs

She heaves a sigh. A sigh of frustration, not relief. The deep breath gives momentary relief from the burdens of her heart. She has achieved the American dream. She came here as an immigrant and made it on her own. She is proud of the long way she has come. She has had her little pockets of happiness. The pink stuffed toys lined up in her car, the occasional indulgence at the salon, why, she even managed a trip to Disney. She was not the one to shy away from hard work. 10 hours a week, six days a week for the past 15 years. She did what it took to live a life of dignity. But life has been relentless in throwing curveballs. A dysfunctional family to support back home. Car break down, dental work, and the never ending pile of bills. Just one thing after the other. And now, this insurmountable curveball called COVID 19 has knocked her down. The retail store that she worked in let her go. None of her clients want her cleaning services. How is she going to muster the strength to get up? Who is going to pay for her groceries this week? What about rent? Car insurance? The monthly transfer she does to family back home? She has something more immediate to worry about than Covid. Her next meal. She is one of the 16 million people who have filed for unemployment in the past three weeks. 

Posted in Covid, Perspectives, Writing

Covid Perspetives

Covid is all we have been talking and reading about for the past few weeks. My brain is now a mish mash of voices from all that talking and reading.  I feel the itch to give life to these voices, to examine the pandemic from different points of views. I am taking a stab at it in the form of short anecdotes I am writing in second person. There is some reality (not necessarily my own) and a lot of imagination in exploring these perspectives. 

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Survival Instincts

She has poor survival instincts. She is the kind that would rush to help her neighbors when her own house is on fire. She has the compulsive need to give back, to be part of something bigger, to make a difference in the world.  The pandemic has brought humanity to its knees. She is acutely aware that living a healthy life is a privilege. Being able to maintain social distance is a privilege. The hardest part about the lockdown has not been the lack of social life or the scrambling around for groceries. It has been about  not being able to do anything with this privilege. Not being able to get out, lighten the load, and give back to the community. She feels incomplete, useless, and trapped. As she wallows in self-pity, her eyes rest on her family. They are beaming. They have flourished in the glorious family time in the past several weeks. They are safe. They are healthy. They are complete. And she knows it is partly because she prioritized them over her need to make a difference. And in doing so, she realizes she has made a difference of a different kind. Maybe this was life’s way of building her survival instincts?

Posted in Me, Writing

Tall Tale

My town library is celebrating its 150th b’day. At a time when the town did not even have a sewage system, its members came together to open a library. Pretty amazing, isn’t it? As part of the celebrations, the library has come up with several programs. One of which is submitting a Tall Tale around late returns to waive the overdue fine.

No prizes for guessing if I have accumulated fine or not. Here goes my Tall Tale.

Her fantasy. Wrapped in the softest of sleep robe, she would curl up with the library book in hand, eagerly thumbing through the pages as though there is no tomorrow.

He reality. Wrapped in the softest sleep robe, she curls up next to her offspring, with the library book by her bedside. The warmth of the little human wraps her in a cocoon of love, and before she rests her head on the pillow, she is sailing off to dreamland. The book by her bedside waits for tomorrow, just like the previous day. To be read, to be devoured. And the fine in her account piles, slowly but steadily, one dime at a time!

Posted in 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.

_____________________

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!

 

Posted in Gratitude, Me, SYW, Writing

Share Your World

Enjoyed answering your questions Cee.

What household chore do you absolutely hate doing? Cleaning anything that spills or breaks. Specifically when glass container shatters all over the floor. No matter how thoroughly you clean, there is always a piece staring right back at you.

At what time in your recent past have you felt most passionate and alive? Over the weekend as I arranged our closets listening to Oliver Sacks speak.

How many times have you moved in the last ten years? Zero. We moved to our current home 10 years back and have planted ourselves here since them.

What inspired you or what did you appreciate this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. RadioLab podcast had an episode where they have captured Oliver Sacks think aloud, brought goosebumps as I got a get a peek into how great thinkers think. To hear his assistant talk about his passion for writing made me want to write passionately and from my heart. I felt so grateful to live at a time and age where access to such gems is just a finger swipe away.

Posted in Experiences, Gratitude, Writing

The blogging medium

I open “Thoughts Unlimited 4” google doc and scroll down to the 90th page, the page that I am typing on now.  I tend to type my posts on google document before posting it here on my online journal. This is my fourth file, and I have written more than 350 pages over a span of 11 years.

Within my circle of friends, I know of many people who have felt compelled to write all their life. I am not one of them. Growing up, I never felt the itch to write in a diary or a journal. The closest I can say I started writing was after I left high school. I felt the urge to put pen to paper out of wanting to be in touch with my high school friends. I used to write long descriptive letters to my friends and for a while had the pleasure of receiving equally long descriptive replies. But once the business of adulting took over, the practice dwindled. I adapted. I wrote less. I shared less.

Thankfully, a friend introduced me to blogging and very soon it became a platform that allowed me to write, articulate, and share without any dependencies. A place where I could explore my writing side and discover my voice. I am not exaggerating when I say that without blogging, there would have been no writing for me. So I am utterly grateful for this medium for igniting that dormant spark of writing in me. It has truly been a pleasure!

Posted in Learnings, Life, Writing

Quotations – Day 3

The Sunday school is held at the local high school. Before going to my class, I generally stop by the “Collage of Voices” board where comments from high schoolers (from regular school) are posted anonymously. The theme seems to vary periodically and captures the voices of the kids on matters that matter to them. Eg. what stresses them and how do they destress.

Every weekend, I linger in that area to read and reread the collage by way of grounding myself in reality. Hari will be in high school before we know it. He will have enough stress of his own. The last thing that we want to do is weigh him down with our expectations and judgments. Easier said than done, which is why I go here often so I can internalise the messages that these kids are brave enough to voice out.

Today, the board had the following comments under the topic “Words of Wisdom”

voices1voices2

Posted in Uncategorized, Writing

Blogging

WordPress had a little trophy for me at the upper right corner this morning. Apparently, it’s my eighth anniversary at wordpress. That makes it 11 years of blogging…!  I am grateful for this space where I get to write what my heart pleases, the way it pleases, and when it pleases. I am thankful for the handful of readers I have. And I am thankful for the friendships that this blog has given me. 

Note: With this post, I am concluding 31-days of gratitude journal. Thanks for walking with me on this journey. I hope to continue writing on a different theme, perhaps after a little break.