Sunday, February 15, 2015


Darling S,

Last month you turned two. Unbelievable, but true.

You are growing up very fast, losing the baby-ness. You look more like a little girl than a baby. You speak clearly, question and answer perfectly. You speak in complete sentences, with almost perfect grammar and use the right words. Your Marathi vocabulary is really impressive. Your English is improving too. Still, you are more comfortable with Marathi and want to know English and Marathi words for nearly everything you notice. Your Hindi is limited to the old songs like Lakdi ki kathi, ek chidiya anek chidiya, nanha munha rahi hun and of all the songs, Nakhrewaali...I know. Your baba's choice is, um, awesome. Your favorite songs now range from Pop goes the weasel to Priye paha to Shriramchandra kripalu bhajman to Sakal tirthahuni pandhari mukut mani. Nursery rhymes, marathi devotional, natyasangeet, old hindi film songs, nothing is off the table here.

You love meeting people - old and young, and dont let language barrier come in between. I feel bad that you hardly get to meet anyone because of the treacherous winter we have had so far. But, but you are not the one to complain. You love watching snow from the patio are content with the bowl of snow I give you to play with your sharkie, octopus, seal and crabbie (all bath toys).

The day before your actual birthday I baked a simple, eggless chocolate cake and frosted it with Nutella. A little decoration with colored fruit loops and paper flags and a cute cake was ready in a jiffy. Since your birthday was on Tuesday baba had to go to work. So when we came back we all dressed in our nice clothes. You wore a dusty pink lace frock and looked absolutely lovely. You wore silver trinkets and were happiest. Baba got you a minnie mouse balloon. I did a small aarti and you were amused with the fuss. Then we headed out to Barnes and Noble, your favorite store and played at the kids section. Then we made the mandatory visit to the small kiddie cars at the mall which you love. No money spent and we had a wonderful time together.

Your birthday party was on Saturday evening. Baba took care of the decorations and the living room looked beautiful with read and black giant balloons, the tables decked in red and white and a fun scene setter to complete the Minnie - Mickey Mouse theme. There was ragda pattice, tortilla chips and salsa, cupcakes, fruit yogurt, and juice. Your cake was a delicious pineapple cake with an ombre petal style in peach color. You just loved it and surprised us by actually eating a slice. Talk about setting low expectations. There were just three other families with three little kids. You all had a nice time and the whole affair was quite stress free. Though the cleaning and cooking and decorating part had me worried for a few hours. I know for your next birthday you will have opinions, ideas and I am wondering how that will be.

You videochat with your grandparents, uncles and aunts, and cousins. For a whole week people wished you and you very sweetly, to their great delight, thanked them. "Thanks, thank you for your birthday wishes", we have small audio clip recorded which you love to listen to, over and over. :)

Dear S, wish you a wonderful life ahead, may you be healthy, happy and smiling. And may your Akku Baba be gracious about your growing up. :)

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Dearest Mothe Baba

I love you so much...the fact that I won't see you or hear you say beta, amma, appi, raja for the rest of my life hurts me deeply. It feels as if my inside is empty and I am falling into a bottomless pit.
How generous you have been - along with amma... Teaching us that you don't need money to be kind or to be rich in the real sense.

It's sad that you had to suffer so much in your final few days. I only hope the end was peaceful and without pain. Amma and your beloved children were all near you. Was it that even in your final hour you waited for aai and baba to come all the way from US? Did you see them? Did you make sure that amma was with aai when you breathed last?

It will also pain K2 that you never got to hold R. He's your dearest K2's copy and you'd have remembered little K2 running around in Secunderapur.

As I look around, even in my home in this foreign land, there are so many things which connect me to you. Your picture with amma, the geet ramayan songs that you introduced us to, your favorite udid varan which is my favorite too which I won't eat again without missing you.

It will always hurt that your Sahastra Chandra Darshan didn't happen and nor did you ever visit a foreign country. How much you wanted to do that, mothe baba!?

Mothe baba, I will always cherish in my heart the last few words you said to me - you wished us happy Dassera. With your usual enthusiasm and with so much love. The pride in your voice talking to us. I will miss you so much. As I close my eyes I see you waking up at the crack of the dawn (our fail-proof alarm clock for exams), going for a walk, sprawled over newspapers (how you missed reading news or anything in Secunderapur where there were no newspapers and made up by reading every bit of print you could find), reading your favorite books, watching tv with amma, humming your favorite songs, teasing and quarreling with amma, enjoying keli shikran with a slurp, asking for a glass of water with a gesture, cupping your hand and finally going to bed all bundled up in your sweater and a rolled up monkey cap. The way you slept wrapped in a shawl, we could never squeeze into it. I remember the ruby red mole in the middle of your chest, nestled in a bush of white hair. Your pearl ring, yellow sapphire ring and ganapati pendent. Your habit of wearing a towel and seating in vajrasana. Your moped which you rode to Bidar, your Almirah in your room in Secunderapur. Pictures from your childhood- the sweet cherubic boy that you were at your munj or the handsome young man who was the darling of his friends.

I remember the trips to Bidar with you - your DCB bank, the idlis and dosas at the udupi restaurant, the light green pista icecream in the end. The gold spot drink and chips at Zaheerabad. The free rein you and amma gave us of the house and farms at Secunderapur. The cigarette that you quit when I told you just once. The shenga chutney you ate with the well of oil. The basundi we lapped up with the milk you boiled, stirring for hours at the fire. The big steel dabba you lugged back to Hyd and Aurangabad of gulab jamuns which amma cooked with the khoa you painstakingly made. The somwaar angadis at Secunderapur where we bought anything our little hearts wished for. Your love of beans-cutlets which amma made just the way you liked them.

I remember you refusing to wear glasses and reading with squinting eyes instead. You not drinking even a drop of water while eating your meal and then gulping down a big tambya of water. How can I forget the hot water we bathed with? You tended the fires, refilled our gangaal while we bathed.  And the way you bathed - for almost an hour! And how you washed your hands - lathering up to the elbows. Your obsession with stocking up on water - you worked tirelessly so that all of us would have enough water during the hot summer months. Your love of cleanliness was legendary. You continually picked real and imaginary specks of dirt and bits of rubbish pinching your toes. Your clothes were always pristine. Your whites - pure and unblemished. Your sparse possessions always neatly organized. You carefully washed your clothes by hand and then sun dried them for hours. How well you folded the crisp dried dhotis that they hardly needed to be ironed...How event appropriately you dressed, always? And how well put together you appeared? Smart in suits as well as nehru-shirt - dhoti. Your knowledge of music - you were a natural, gifted musician. Nobody taught you, but you played the tabla, harmonium, bulbultarang and basuri. How much you enjoyed good music!

You visited the ADP building with amma, aai, baba - my first workplace. I will never forget the happiness and pride on your face - you and amma were so delighted to see this world where your granddaughter worked. You woke me up for my early morning shifts. You made sure the cab driver who came to pick me up at that early hour was fully awake. Once you even took a jugful of water to him asking him to wash his face.

I was so hopeful you will recover mothe baba - I am crushed. I can't bear to think of dear amma who I spoke to this morning. She told me she spent 60 years with you and you have left her alone. How will she be herself again? How I wish I could post this to an address where you would read it? I really wished you got more time with your great grand kids alongwith amma. I wanted to talk to you some more. I wish I told you again how much I love you and how much you mean to me. As I write this I remember the Diwali we spent together, exactly 10 years ago in Konkan. What magical time it was! What will happen to the Diwali card I sent addressing you and Amma? It was made by S and I am sure you'd have loved it.

I have worn your shirts and pants and you have worn my t shirt - I even used your lemon cream shirt as my engineering college uniform. :) How I loved freeting you with a huge bear hug, rubbing your shiny bald head and then panting a huge kiss on your cheek?

With you goes the most beautiful part of my childhood - Secunderapur, amma, aai, baba, K2, K3 and I - none of us will be the same again. I dont want to know if there's heaven anywhere. You and amma have give us our share of heaven right here - our time with you in Secunderapur was nothing short of paradise. Your love for Secunderapur, the home of your forefathers was absolute and unwavering, right till the end. And so was your love of us.

Nobody knows what happens after death. I hope there is something beyond these realms of life and death where I can see you again. With the same smile and the serene content look that you wore when aai saw you for the last time.

I wish you and amma had paid attention to your health. That remains my only complain to you. I hope those of us around amma take care of her.

I can go on and on. I hope I will. Holding on to little bits of memory and trying to make up the whole you.There are so many memories of us together. They will now haunt us, tug at our hearts, make us smile and bring tears. They will always remind us of the sweet, doting grandfather you have been. But they will merely capture the whiff of you mothe baba, won't they?

You will always be in my heart, in my memories and S's wide smile.

Your loving granddaughter,

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

In the moment

So I promised myself to write more. The standards have fallen so low that even writing a shopping list these days gets counted towards my promise. I feel I know what being sucked into a black hole is like. Out of "work", a SAHM I seem to have no time at all! How do these women do it all? I have no shame admitting that I no longer have daily baths. Remember the low standards? Then there is my mind which pulls me in several different directions all at once. It wants me to bake a mango cake, try roasted chickpeas from a cookbook, write a story about a dream I had, write some more, do intense yoga, cut, paste, draw, color, play, and so much more. The spying on FB makes it all worse. I end up wondering where my life is going. My FB friends have these perfect pictures. Which make me notice my hair - rough, dry and ever frizzy. Fortunately, these snatches of self doubt and deep introspections last just a few moments - when I am trying to catch breath keeping up with the little typhoon in the house. I alternate between the "God, I have no time to even brush my hair" to "why am I wasting time doing nothing." Then there is vacillation between, "I am lucky to be with S" and "but I am not a productive earning member of society." Hah! The heart knows no peace.

When I turned the calendar page to October, it hit me that this is the last quarter. The countdown already begins for a new year. I am so not ready. I wonder what resolutions I had when I began this year - fresh, hopeful. I remember vaguely.

"Be in the moment" - what an irony. "Driving license" - The license is thankfully done. The driving is still tentative and still around the familiar parts of our small town. "Learn to swim" - Done! Albeit just enough to save myself in a pool. But do you that I taught myself how to swim using YouTube videos? Oh yes - just like Sheldon Cooper but I did practice in a real swimming pool. Now allow me to gloat just a little bit. With this resolution I overcame my fear of water and unknowingly my inhibitions. The first was difficult but still much easier than the second. I didn't show but I was infact extremely worried about others' comments and looks. "A grown up woman can't swim?" "She is so awkward!" Quite silly in hindsight. Who gives a damn if I can swim or not? Right? But there I was sweating over it. It was a major lesson for me. It was facing my major personality flaw. Brutal. Very slowly I was able to rise above it, at least in the swimming pool. Focusing only on my breathing, kicking. And it was liberating. This doesn't mean I have gotten over my inhibitions and no longer worry about what people think/say - but yeah I try extra hard to do a thing when I am in reality quite hesitant about it. I got into the swimming pool every day for a month and half and kept going even when on some days all I managed to do was stand in there. Gloating over, huh.

I realize my first resolution is an eternal work in progress. This mind I tell you. Just when it is in the middle of a big joyous moment, it either races ahead to see if a dark cloud hover nearby or begins anticipating its next happy kick. To this creature no happiness is absolute, complete or perfect. It's an exercise to rein it in. Thankfully S is a pro in this game. I am fortunate to see her at work, I am willing to learn. May be she would teach? One moment at a time.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Make hay while the sun shines

I cant believe that the much awaited summer will be over in a matter of days. The nights have cooled down already and there's a nip in the air during the day as well. This year taking inspiration from several blogs I made a simple list of things to do during summer. A really simple fun list that intended to make the most of the blue skies, the warm sunshine, the bounty of summer fruit and vegetables and really long days. A, like a good husband agrees with me on most of the things, however thought that such a list kills spontaneity. It soon dawned upon him that with a toddler who is more than a handful, unless we plan things, things never happen. And a list was made.

Let me see how we fared.

Picnic lunch - Done
I LOVE picnics! My idea of a perfect summer day is to pack a picnic basket, find a spot in shade, under a big tree, preferably along a river or a lake and share food, laugh and have fun with friends and family. Lemon rice, tamarind rice, parathas, green chutney sandwiches, mom's special dry onion sabzi, salad, curds and fresh fruit are our picnic staples.
So we did several picnics and ate some delicious stuff. Pasta salad, grilled burgers and garlic bread, corn on the cob were memorable. We ate along the river Charles, on the monument grounds in DC, in the neighborhood parks and even in our apartment garden.

Nature walk - Done
S who started walking around her first birthday is a steady and confident walker these days. She loves to explore on her own and finds "treasures" such as pine cones, dried leaves, plastic wrappers and so on. If we arent looking, these treasures are promptly eaten. I know, eeks! So despite us needing to be super vigilant, we took S for a walk whenever we could. There's a lovely wooded area with a pond and a beach close to our place. We made several trips to the pond and had a great time as a family. S looks out for little bugs, leaves, flowers, birds and correctly tells when she spots or hears one. Then says "Hi! How are you?"A budding nature lover here!

Visit a zoo/animal petting farm - Done
We visited two zoos and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. S doesn't notice the big Zebra standing in front of her and notices a chewing gum wrapper lying in the dirt. It was frustrating then and hilarious now. :) But yeah, she warmed up later and loved looking at the different animals. Her favorites were the gorillas, lemurs, butterflies, goats and deers. She had a whale of time petting goats and feeding the deer. After a while she had fed those deers so much that one big fellow started running away. The sight of a toddler chasing a big deer trying to feed him was straight out of America's funniest videos. S also rode several kiddie rides for the first time and that too solo. We were proud of our little girl and also a bit sad. Of course at the growing up too soon part.

Visit an aquarium - Pending
Counting on summer's only remaining weekend to go visit the fishies! It'll be fun to see if S recognizes the different fish she knows, the octopus and her beloved seal.

Blow bubbles - Done
With a simple straw, a manual as well as a battery operated bubble gun. Such a fun activity for everyone. At one point S got bored of the bubbles, but all us grown up people just didnt want to stop. :)

Flying kites - Pending
Not sure if we can get this done. Dont know where we can buy cheap kites. :( Lame excuse I know. But we shall try!

Take pictures with the famous ducklings - Done
Dont know why I had this intense desire to get our pics with the bronze ducklings at Boston Commons. They are incredibly cute and there's a bit of history too. So while we are in Boston, like all good Bostonians, we will go and click pictures with the famous duck family. We happened to visit the Boston Commons park on Mother's Day which happened to be the Ducklings' Day (not making this up) and there were little babies and toddlers in duck's costumes waiting in long lines to get their pictures atop one of the ducks.

Visit the arboretum - A major FAIL
I couldnt convince A as to why this is different from visiting any other park. If you didnt know this already, I am obsessed with trees, flowers, fruits, seeds, mushrooms, plants, shrubs, and all that falls in the plant kingdom. I know we missed the bus on this to-do because the ideal time to visit would have been spring when the arboretum would be a riot of color with spring blooms. Aah! what a sight that would be...

Bake cake(s) - Done
Done and how!? With no experience in baking whatsoever and very little experience in actually eating cakes, I managed to bake a bunch of cakes. May I modestly add that each cake turned out better than the previous one? So now I have a good eggless sponge cake recipe which I can tweak based on what we want that day. Orange - carrot - dates - walnuts, banana - bluberries - walnuts, whatever fruit - nut you can think of, the possibilities are endless. With brown sugar and whole wheat flour and just a pinch of baking soda, they are good for kids too. On a good day our picky eater finishes off a medium slice of cake for breakfast and I tear up. No, really.

Aside from the list, there was travel, by car, by flights, different time zones, countless hours splashing in the pools, and getting a nice, chocolate brown tan. Now that I look back, it does seem like we made the most of the sunshine.
 S stops to observe a dried leaf.

 A koi fish pond

Banana blueberry walnut cake - eggless :) 

 Picture perfect!

 Nail paint after a long while


S is such a water baby - soaked and thrilled

Will miss you Mister Sun!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Happy challenge - day 1

Happy Day 1:

So, I have taken the plunge. To look for happy moments and blog about it. It's to practice being in the moment, being happy and grateful and of course, to blog regularly. Also, I will try hard to not make this into things about S and S alone. Because let me admit, ever since she's here it has been a different kind of happy everyday. Even off days are happy because of her. Aha, there I go again.

So what was today's happy? I found a willing and affordable swim coach. He's a Serbian student and speaks English quite well. I'm guessing I won't have major problems understanding his instructions. Hopefully, I should be able to get over my fear of water and at least learn basic swimming. People, wish me luck!

Missing aai baba

I have returned home to Boston and my parents have stayed back at my sister's. Though I made the most of my time with them during their stay here, two months are just not enough, are they? The farewell at the airport was difficult - the parents and I start tearing up and sniff and sob secretly a few days before the departure - I usually bawl at the actual see off making it infinitely difficult for the parents to keep up a brave face. But this time with little S around, I wanted to stay strong for my parents' sake. Seeing them see off their beloved little grandchild, who young as she is had no idea that she won't see her Aau and Aaba for several months, was heartbreaking. It just killed me to look at them waving at her, with quivering smiles and wet eyes.

It's been a few days now, with every phone call and hangout session, the heartache gets a bit bearable. S asks in her sweet baby voice, "Aaba, kuthe?", and then answers herself, "bathoom!!" :)

Anyways. Till your next visit Aai, Baba - stay happy, healthy and don't fight!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Zindagi jab bhi teri bazm mein...

lati hai hume...
Yeh zameen, chand se behtar...nazar aati hai hume...

The person I am singing this to is my husband A, just to get the suspense out of the way. And the reason I am having these uncharacteristic romantic thoughts about him is because I am sitting thousands of miles from him and have just postponed (quite gleefully) my trip back home to him, by a week. Gulp. He was sweet about it. His reaction was just the opposite of what mine would have been had I been in his shoes. That's precisely why he's my guy. 

So this guy and I celebrated, hold your breath, NINE years of our wedding and a DECADE of being best (most of the time) friends. 

I often worry why we don't do surprise anniversary or birthday parties or why he never whisks me off to a cruise holiday or such (yeah, these are my worries) and sweat over the total lack of filmy romance in our marriage. Yeah, even an absolute PDA-abhoring unromantic like me desires some romantic gestures. Just when I start losing my hair over these worries, I catch A smiling at me. In a room full of people. Giving me his, "You look great!" look. I blush crimson. I get super conscious. Or when I am mad at something he has done or not done, as I walk into the bedroom I see little S fast asleep in his arms, her head buried in his shoulders and A pacing around, singing completely out of tune. I feel warm and my heart bursts with love. 

So people, this is what my husband of nine years is capable of. Setting my heart aflutter, making me fall in love with him all over again, besides giving me countless reasons to feel blessed and knowing my heart inside out. This more than makes up for his weird logic and long drawn arguments and our collective post argument sulking.

Dear A, wishing us a belated wedding anniversary and remember, the best is yet to be!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Darling S,

I don't know where to begin. Rusty, rusty and rusty is what my writing is. And even rustier is my typing on the ipad. But I know I will write, for one day I would want to look back at this wonderful point in time and relive it again. Last year around this time I was absolutely terrified. The countdown had begun and I was getting sick thinking about all the blood and gore and pain and labor that child birth entails. I know all this is normal and almost every woman does it - but that doesn't make it any less daunting, does it? I have always known myself to be terrified of pain - someone who feared the prospect of removing a tiny splinter. Yeah, that weird patient who howled at the dentist for a routine check up is me. So anyways, here I was biting my chewed-down fingers wondering why I even got myself into this situation. The fear of physical pain was really overwhelming.
And then like countless women who have given birth before me, I went ahead and had you, my baby. And like all the cliches I had read, for that microsecond when I first held you, nestled in my arms, pain was a distant memory.
So the last year has sped by just like that. You continue to amaze us with your new found skills, your sweet babbling, your smiles, gurgles and just your whole self. As you take your first steps, we celebrate your growing independence and sigh - our little baby is almost a toddler.
Well, well, well. Before I get carried away and need to be rescued with a box of tissues, here's our wish for you - stay healthy and happy sweetheart. And always, ALWAYS know that you are deeply loved for what you are and what you choose to be.
Aai & Baba
PS - you are proving to be a daddy's girl, and how! You constantly chant Baba, Baba like a mantra. So far, you haven't been able to say Aai. Ouch! It hurts.