Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Life. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Sunset: is sunrise turned upside down!

Perspectives & Perceptions

A bunch of grown ups in costumes being silly. Men in frilly green tutus, flowered headbands, girls with green and pink wigs & silver tutus jumping up and down, cheering and singing nonsense. Such a cacophony. So irrelevant....so irreverent.....

Surrounded by another bunch of people. Little people. In wheelchairs. With big ugly scars. Bald heads. Pinned down by tubes, catheters and IV lines. A double stroller with twin siblings - one gurgling and bright-eyed, the other listless and whimpering. A group of adults surrounding a tiny person who looks up at me and gives me a broad grin. I turn to tell the mom how cute he is; but stop when I see her stifle a sob & a chaplain come forward to comfort her. The father's eyes tell me more than what I want to know. I spot the grandma who shared that she has to lie to her grand daughter when she steps out for lunch - because that 4yr old cannot eat anything....a crowd of self-absorbed loneliness,.....

I turn away to see a bunch of green costumed adults distribute little gift bags to their audience. Eyes light up, attempts are made to smile, speak or hug. Excitement mounts- noiseless, but palpable. Eyes mist up. Realization strikes- "slime day" to this audience is not about making the gluey fun stuff that elementary schoolers are crazy about these days. It's about the gooey green stuff that is blocking the body and snuffing out breaths of a lot of this audience. 

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Tidings of 2015: and a Salute to 2016



Tampa, Florida, Dec 30th, 2015.










“You don’t need to be the tide to rise and fall, 
you don’t have to be a wave to touch the shore; 

just be a little sand-grain and feel them all” 
― Munia Khan



2015 was a giant tidal wave that left me breathless. 

I ushered it in with promises of a new career  - one that would offer me the flexibility that I needed while taking me a step closer to the path that I had always wanted to carve out for myself. The experience was still very new when I was challenged to confront the ghosts of the years past. Fears and my insecurities mocked at me, gave me no choice but to look them in the eye, surrender and embrace.

I had been looking forward to new professional path; just as fervently as I had been avoiding facing my own sorrow and despair.  Grappling with both, within the first half of the year, caught me completely off-guard and exposed my deep-rooted, carefully-hidden vulnerabilities to myself again. The first change was the one I consciously made, and was excited about; the second- even though I made the decision of my own will, was enormously heart-wrenching. But with both, I learnt that accepting the change as inevitable is the most difficult concept of all. Emotions and fear of the unexpected is just a way to come to terms with; and to cope with the change - of any kind. 

Krabi, Thailand, June 29th  2015.
The second half of the year threw more transitions my way. Not as emotionally exhausting; but equally inordinate. Looking back at 2015, I have learnt that however unforeseen or painful; life-lessons are meant to take us places we would never dare to go and transform us into people we were meant to be.

2016; will be.......2016.  An invigorating step forward in the path of life that is yet to come. As the sun sets on 2015 tonight, I promise to reflect on the years gone by; and ones yet to come; to again remind myself to face my fears, surrender and go with the flow of the inevitable, to be that grain of sand that soaks it all in and emerges stronger than the biggest tsunami.

For you, I will wish for Hope & Happiness; Goals & Successes; Love & Laughter.


I wish you a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR 2016.









Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Warm Comforts - Savory Oats Upma

About a year ago, while I was still working at the University, a new student joined our group. After a long time, Having a fellow-Indian to talk to at work place meant that lunch-time conversations often meandered towards reminiscing about food in India. A month or so later, her husband went to visit his parents in Southern India, and when he returned, she came bearing some gifts for me. One of which were packets of the very popular, "Maggi" brand instant oats breakfast. Apparently, that product had recently been launched in India, and she really liked the convenience of it for breakfast. You essentially had to pour out the ingredients into a bowl, put in some water, zap it for a couple of minutes in the microwave and you had a warm bowl of Indian breakfast.

"I never eat Maggi"; I informed her, referring to the widely popular instant noodles available in India. "I hate the smell of it."

"This one isn't the same", she said. "This is made of oats and tastes like Upma. You do like Upma, don't you?" 

That is how I ended up with 3 packs of this Maggi Oats Upma product. 


The packs languished in my pantry for a few months. Then one night, I found myself alone, hungry and craving something warm without having to go through the pain of cooking or cleaning after. Rummaging through, I found these packs again. With no other alternative in sight, I decided to go for it. 5 minutes later, with a warm bowl in hand and a Hallmark movie on demand for company; I decided that I actually liked what I was eating. It was a tad too spicy for my taste, and still had that artificial flavor after-taste; but it was comforting and hearty.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Praying for Peshawar


I was sitting in a public office, waiting my turn this morning when I saw the news on TV. Hundreds of lives lost in a school shooting in Peshawar, Pakistan. The images ran into each other as my brain numbed. Children in school uniforms. Caskets stacked against a hospital wall. Parents, searching, hoping. And then a random thought- isn’t this about the same time as that school shooting in Newport, CT? Two short years- almost to the day. Who would do this? Why? What of those left behind? How does someone cope with a loss as great as that of a young child? To me, as a mother, the ache I feel in the pit of my stomach while writing this is a real, physical pain. All I hope is, that my prayers somehow reach the grieving families….All I wish for is, this kind of a thing doesn’t happen again. Ever.  

Thursday, July 24, 2014

On Parenting and Immigration….and my First Byline!

I was recently asked what the challenges the immigrant parents faced in raising children here in USA.

…A few years ago; I’d have answered “none”. After all, rather than the archetypical “immigrant”, I considered myself as a select, educated, metropolitan person who didn’t really have any deep-rooted desire to come to America.  I came; because US beckoned; and gave me a fellowship as well….

…I stayed, because I got too caught up in the life here. Raising a young family while studying didn’t leave much time to dwell or plan….so we drifted along with the tide. And by the time I figured out that I’d like to return to my country; I had adapted enough to feel more at home here in USA, than back “home” in India.

Did I face challenges as an immigrant parent? Yes, of course. But most of those were personal limitations, rather than parenting issues. Not having friends and family around for emotional support; loneliness, especially during the traditional Holidays and an overwhelming sense of individual guilt of not being ….”adequate” as a parent. Everyone goes through that.



Friday, May 9, 2014

Momspeak: A Mother's Day Post

A lifetime ago, deep inside my stomach, I felt the stirrings of a longing to be a mom. I blame it all on the fact that it was Christmastime and we were in the Toys R Us, in New York. There was no escaping dressed up little babies in strollers or adorable toddlers hanging onto their mammas for dear life. I didn't really "think" my "want" then.

Nine months later, I brought home my first little one. 

She was beautiful. Perfect. A headful of black hair, milky white smooth skin, all fingers and toes intact. For the first year, I loved dressing her up and cooing over her every milestone. I fed her every hour; stayed up with her  most nights. I couldn't put my camera down. In her two's, she made me grit my teeth and curb an urge to hand her over to another mom.  Right after she turned three, I started to have serious doubts on my mental stability when I decided to have a baby. By the time she'd turned four, I'd totally decided that my being a mom was all a big, scary dream. I was sure I'd wake up soon….

A week after her fifth birthday, we brought home our second one. 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Another Year Gone By.....


...and what have I done?
Plenty; but not enough......
As a part of self-improvement plan, I aspired to, and got into a fellowship program. Whether the goal came of  a need for a mid-life career change, or a sense of underachievement, is irrelevant. Just the odds of competing against kids almost half my age, and succeeding, was fulfilling. It hasn't been easy going back to the life of assignments and grades, but I've survived half a year...and I look forward to actually getting back in a classroom at the receiving end this Spring.
I've kept up with this space here...sporadically, but surely. Writing this blog and hearing back from all of you has been uplifting in my darkest moments. Lets just suffice it to say that through you, I've managed to fill in a niche as close to my loved ones as possible.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Simple and Sweet- Cheeni-Ka-Paratha.


The earliest memories I have of my grandma are of feeding my toddler brother a smushed up roti with ghee-boora (powdered sugar with clarified butter).  She, on a low woven seat we called peedha; and he, toddling about around her with a ball in his hand. All through the summer holidays that's what he and I ate. Naani was the best when it came to indulging picky eaters like us. She didn't insist we eat our veggies, was always ready to make a meal especially for us, and if both options failed; handed us a huge bowl of ghee-boora

Back in Delhi, my mom opted for a no-mess route incorporating the boora, ghee and roti together to make us a Cheeni ka Paratha. When we were very little, she'd roll it up, and hand it to us so we could  eat while we played. My dad occasionally threw a fit, threatening us with cavities and toothless grins, but mommy always found a way to ignore his rants.  As I grew older, my ma and I were often at loggerheads. With daddy gone for work or at school most of my growing up years, this Paratha was what resolved most of our (my) skirmishes....

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Holi Greetings, and some chit chat...

I tried explaining Holi to my colleagues at work today- and all that came to mind was it is a Spring festival. But trust people to come up with interesting "observations"! I pulled up some pictures on the net, and a student asked- why is everyone wearing white? And why do you put on colors? The explanation I concocted on the spur of the moment- because white is the color of winter, and we're covering it with colors of Spring- sounded so right, even to my ears.....that I let them assume that this was age-old wisdom, rather than a fabric of my imagination :-)

This year, I've been pretty lazy. Haven't done anything to mark the day. But then, I was never a Holi person. It takes a special kind to love all the rowdiness and noise that accompanies Holi celebrations in India :-) The images that do crop to mind are ancient....

Monday, December 31, 2012

A New Year (Almost) Wish.


Many years ago I resolved never to bother with New Year's resolutions, and I've stuck with it ever since. - Dave Beard

Now that we’ve survived Doomsday 2012 and the holidays are winding down to a close, it’s time to come to terms with the impending change on the horizon: 2013. The end of the year brings in time to reflect over the last 12 months, and what lies ahead. We look forward to new beginnings and possibilities, leaving the past behind. Now that we’re at the brink of saying goodbye and welcome all at the same time, 2012 strikes me as one of those very eventful years that went by faster than most…

Despite my optimism for the coming year, it is hard to neglect the adverse events that bring this year to an end. In the last month or so, as an American of Indian origins, I felt an immense heartache for all the innocent victims of senseless actions; be they the innocent children in school shootings of Connecticut, or the young, unnamed girl in Delhi, India who lost her battle for life yesterday. My prayers go out to them and their families. There is no greater loss than of those loved, and no greater sorrow than an untimely farewell.

In retrospect, I'm thankful for all good things that happened, sorry to have made some mistakes, happy to have moved on and grateful for all opportunities. The New Year, as it dawns, brings forth promises of a better tomorrow. So lets embrace the unknown…….it is now time to let go, and start afresh. The New Year, will be a New Me; as some one said- a blank book of 365 pages to write in. And I wish to be able to fill it in with cheer and smiles. I’ve made no resolutions, set no goals. For to me, each day brings forth its own challenges that I must overcome. And I shall prevail.

So that is it….

A Happy New Year to You. Put on your hats, bring out your party shoes.  And thanks for sticking by me all these years. I look forward to seeing you around.







Tuesday, August 21, 2012

An open Letter from a grandfather....

Dearest Betu
    Your mom is going to throw a fit when she hears me call you Betu- but that is what you are to me.  Betu and Ghughu.  I gave you those names- the first, because it came to my lips the second I saw you. And the second, because those were the first sounds you made in my arms. All of 5 weeks old; and you were already connecting with me. It's been a while since you and I had a talk. Maybe now is a good time.....A part of me wants to give you advice; but today, I'll just let you know me.
   I'd wished for you even before I had my own children - your mom, and your maamu. You are so much extra special because you're my first grandchild. Your naani and I were so excited the day we heard that you'd be coming into our family.  The day you were born; we called up the entire family with the news. I couldn't wait to meet you.  But I had to. We finally met when you were about a month old. You probably don't remember. Your naani and I stayed with you for 6 weeks that year.  All that time, I never left you alone. I even held you while you slept. And after we left, your mom complained that we spoiled you because you'd no longer sleep on the bed!  :-)) I brought back pictures of you with me; and I had them all over the house. Even back in Delhi, I used to talk to your pictures and hope that my thoughts would reach you somehow.  When your mom called to speak with us, I'd ask her to make you cry or laugh; just so I could hear your voice.  I missed you so much, that soon after meeting you, I decided to quit my job. So we could come and stay with you for longer.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Drool-worthy Gol Gappe.....

Nothing exemplifies Indian street food as well as "Gol-Gappe"....the bite sized crispy balls of flour or semolina, filled with seasoned potato-chickpea mixture and dipped in a spicy green mint sauce as well as a sweet and savory tamarind chutney - the quintessential fun food at all the street side "melas" back home. Just thinking about them is making me drool....

My mom and I went out without fail, once every month for our Gol-Gappe trip. The day my dad brought in his salary and gave us all our "pocket money",  mommy managed to wheedle out a little extra from daddy.  With that money, my brother got an ice cream, and my mom and I got our monthly fix of the spicy goodness.  All my dad's warnings about the Chaat wala's dirty hands  and his unsanitary matki didn't deter us.  We ate out of this fellow's grimy hands every month, and never fell sick.  And yet one time, the only time that we could drag our dad to this fellow; we all ended up with severe diarrhea :-))

Friday, July 6, 2012

Things that matter....summer picnic with long time friends.

I started my life in USA as any other new immigrant - lonely and homesick.  With no one around me, not even distant relatives, and at a time when calling home was relatively expensive, life was as hard as it could get. A followed about 6 months later; and a year later, I had my first baby. Life got busier, but not less lonely. A lived and worked 3h away from us during the week, then lived and went to school in the same city, but away from us, on weekends.  I made friends with other moms on the playground, or in the library -  but they didn't feel like the friends that I was craving for - they didn't share my language, for one.  Festivals were the worst....and loneliness grew to a new level at this time. About the 4th year of our life in Philadelphia, A took me to a 'Diwali Party'. I remember not wanting to go mingle into a crowd of strangers. But we went, and I've never regretted that decision ever. I've made some very lasting friendships within this group.  Plus my holidays are cheerier with them around!!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Soda-cream: Perfect Summer Chiller

This post has been sitting there, ready to be posted for 10 days now....just a sign of how crazy things have been this summer till now. Finally, today I get to upload it. We are 2 and half weeks ion summer vacation at this point....and the girls are thoroughly enjoying themselves....


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Our first week of summer vacation went by lazily. The girls were excited to stay home; and be with their grandmother all day. They woke up late, ate all the Indian junk food that came out of their daadi's bags, and watched TV all day.  Despite that, it didn't feel like summer to me. The weather's been cool, cloudy and somewhat wet. So this past week, when the TV forecasts rang out a heat wave warning; I got excited for my girls. My summer vacation list includes: lazy afternoons, grandparents AND heat!  

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Weekend Chronicles- with Bread Pakora


Quite an eventful week it turned out to be. 

First came the earth-shaking excitement of a 5.9 magnitude earthquake in the middle of the work week. Nobody could figure out what was responsible for our jiggling PowerPoint, shaking building and electricity blink during our weekly meeting. Of the various explanations put forth, the first one was that a plane had crashed into our building; afraid of a WTC repeat, most people prepared to jump out the windows (thank goodness everyone in the group is scared of heights- even if it is just the 4th floor).  Then we moved on to an equally outrageous subway explosion (the lines do run under our building) and a relatively sensible truck-crash with our building's loading dock (that happens to sit right below the conference room). The truck story also assumed explosive proportions by speculating that it might be a gas-tank truck: the one which brings huge cylinders of oxygen, nitogen and other medical gases to us. It was a breathless-with-fear South American colleague that mentioned an earthquake. The excitement that followed was astronomical!  The rest of the meeting, we brainstormed whether we sat on  dynamic earth plates, if End of the World Prediction included August 2011 and   whether to evacuate or not!!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Echoes of Silence

I skipped along, marching step for step.                                    
My tiny hand curled around your finger tight.                            
Innocent and bright-eyed, happy and free,                                            
Every time I looked up at you,                                                 
I saw you smile down at me.                                                                

A vision flashed across my eye, I didn’t care,             

Saturday, July 2, 2011

One Step Forward, Two Back.....

Life has such a tendency to throw you out on a spin when you least expect it, to leave you breathless and open-mouthed and wanting to ask SOMEONE "now what the h*** did YOU do that for?"  I really wish there was a way to rewind life periodically and take a peek at what went wrong where. I don't even want an 'Edit' control ....just a plain 'Review', and then the "Aa Haa!' moment.  Then maybe I wouldn't begrudge all the punches that seemingly come out of the blue and shatter my mirrored wall of Existence. If I had my answers, SOME answers, I'd probably take all that came my way with a grin and a pinch of salt. As of now; I'm left pretty much feeling like a beached fish after a flash flood. There is absolutely no sensible explanation to my last week...any way I look at it.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Awards and Tags....


I am walking on cloud nine, to say the very least. Fajeeda, of Faji's Hot Pot, has passed down a plethora of awards to me. Now I've drooled over these awards displayed on your blogs, and wistfully pined to get them myself. But never in my dreams did I imagine that I'd actually get them. So thank you, Dear Faji, for visiting my blog and liking it enough to send these awards my way. I can't tell you how this gesture has inspired me. I will always cherish this first award moment and this will definitely go a long way in keeping the motivation to blog alive in me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Khau na...Jhaal Murri


It all began one fine day in September of 2002. I called A and informed him of my decision. He raised all the due concerns a new dad-to-be should, and I rah-rahed him down with my new-found confidence of a soon-to-be first-time mom. I had found the perfect solution to our fast-approaching childcare needs. This woman I'd found was a grandma missing her grand-kids back home in Bangladesh, she did not want to care for more than one infant and she knew how to change diapers. My child would have her undivided attention and love during the day, unlike in a daycare. And she could show me how to change diapers. Perfect.

"But she hardly speaks Hindi, and not a word of English", A said.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

With a heavy heart.....

I really don't know where to begin writing this...for this piece of writing, the end is the beginning .

Sometime on Tuesday night before the Mother's Day last year....Wednesday, May 5th in the Middle East,  my brother was desperately trying to reach me. I missed all those calls from him because both A and I'd left our phones downstairs in the kitchen that night. As soon as I went downstairs at 6am, Wednesday morning for us in USA, I saw the call log. And I knew....I knew, because my brother and I had a pact. He was not to call me on my cell phone unless.......