November 27, 2014

r2idreams -- Return to India, a book for and by NRIs.

After moving to the bay area, I haven't thought much about moving back to India. I think I exhausted my thoughts and churning at least for a little while by putting them in print. My mom is here for a few months. It could be her constant chatter about small details of her Indian life and adjustments to her American life that has made me forget my own ruminations about an old life in India.

But, today I read a post about what an Indian blogger who wrote about her take on Thanksgiving and how immigrants have adopted the celebration and given it their own flavor. The post made me think of how we had celebrated Thanksgiving this year: we had combined my little one's birthday and our house warming ceremony with a Thanksgiving meal. After the house warming puja and hymns, we cut her birthday cake and then, we went around the table saying thanks and gave the celebration our own unique definition.

As Indian immigrants in the US, I think our journeys follow similar paths. We are FOBs initially (fresh off the boat) and wide-eyed students staring at the strangeness and grandeur of this country. We transition to being new hires in Tech companies (usually) learning the ropes of working in the US and the mechanics of a 9-5 work-life in the US. We marry, buy a house, find a partner and settle down with kids here. And then begin the arduous task of teaching them "Indian culture", insisting on arcane bits of Indian folk takes and legends, snippets from the Ramayana and Mahabharatha that we suddenly deign necessary knowledge for our Indian-American kids. And around then, we start wondering about India, our aging parents back in India and a little voice chimes in,

"What if we returned back to India?"

r2idreams, my book, is about that voice. It is a conversation with that voice, a deep diving on the topic of the immigrant's obsession with his native land. This book is a story of three Indian immigrants in the US, our little victories and trials in this country and our paths to finding our homes and our selves, whether that is in the US or in India. We attack the subject from various angles, compare and contrast our lives here and back in India and try our best to attack this emotional subject with as much logic as we can muster. In the end it is a decision of the heart.

Join the conversation at

July 05, 2013

Living in the Bay Are -- 2 (On cliches and more)

I don't really have any earth shaking observations about life here except that the cliches we hear about the bay area are mostly true!

Buying house here is crazy! A million is not sufficient to buy a simple 3 Bedroom/2 Bath house in a good school district in Santa Clara county (Palo Alto, Los Altos, Mountain View). This translates to a house that is about 200k - 300k in Alpharetta or even lower in Lexington. A recent townhome with a bedroom and a bath on each of the 3 levels sold for 1.275 million in cash. Stop and think about that for a second. IN CASH! So yeah, the cliche about housing in the bay area is true.

The house care/nanny situation also is pretty terrible. We had a baby sitter who was great in Lexington for $7/hr -- a high school student who made Rads toe the line but while doing fun stuff with her. Here, for $14/hr, you might get a baby sitter/house keeper who will last a full two months if you are really lucky.

Everyone talks about how finding a Carnatic music teacher or a dance teacher here would be simple given the desi population here. Well, that's one cliche that's not true. I have seen 3 teachers already and each did not work out for various reasons. I also thought none of them matched the quality/price of the teacher Radhika had in Alpharetta. The search continues.

The tech scene here is really that awesome. Perks are excellent and sometimes, you really wake wondering if it is all a dream.

The weather is great but I'll wait till winter to confirm that :)

More people time. Be it family, friends that live here locally or visit the bay area, there is never a dearth of hanging out with folks. The loneliness that I experienced in Alpharetta does not exist here.

Definitely more things to do. There are so many days when I have googled and found nothing to do with kids on a given day without driving an hour out in both Lex and Alpharetta. That is definitely not the case here. Plenty of child friendly outdoor and indoor things to do and I don't have to drive to SFO to find them!

I feel like there is much less down time in the bay area but can't place my finger on whether the perception is due to a lack of sleep, 2 kids or something else. Stay tuned for life in the bay area updates!

April 27, 2013

Living in the Bay Area -- 1.

We lived for more than a decade in Lexington, KY and we lived for a little more than a year in Alpharetta, GA. Compared to the pace of living in the suburbs in these cities, living in the Bay Area is like switching gait from a leisurely stroll to a 100-metre sprint. I don't know if the change in pace is also  because we are trying to juggle everything with 2 kids instead of 1. Perhaps, a little bit but I think the reason k & I feel kind of knocked out of breath here is just a reaction to moving to Silicon Valley.

The Bay Area is everything I had imagined it to be. Pleasant (weather wise; I was losing it in the East Coast -- I self-diagnosed myself with SAD years back), exciting (career wise -- oh boy!), familiar (it just feels better knowing friends and family are nearby; we might not hang out every weekend but the knowledge is sufficient to make a place feel like home) and fun (Places to eat, things to do!)...but, it is also more restless, less friendlier and kind of relentless. Let me explain.

Restless because everyone seems to be in a rush. Sort of like:

The context doesn't apply but you know what I mean :p

Friendliness: This sort of relates to everyone feeling rushed. It rubs on everyone they interact with and it feels like I live in a web of constantly buzzing busy bees that have little time to...smell the flowers and take a break. A typical family has the mom and dad working full day picking up their kids after work and then all they seem to have time for is a rushed, distracted evening and night routine. Play outside -- check, dinner -- check, bath -- check, story-time -- check, off you go to bed! Everyone is a little bit on the edge all the time, talk a little bit faster and the next->next->next loop wears you out at the end of the day. k and I have tried our best to maintain the fabled work-life balance. We shall see how long we last with our outdated philosophies here on the west coast! But, I digress. I miss the southern courtesy and the drawl and the relaxed pace of life. For the first time since I migrated to the US, I have switched back to speaking fast (the way I used to when I had just come to the US and my students -- I taught Math as a teaching assistant -- asked me to slow down!)

Relentless: k says I don't always have to try to make things more efficient and carry out process or self improvements all the time. But, am afraid that is part of who I am :/ I love my dose of books and movies but I question everything I do in my 'free time'. Typically, if it is not parenting/work/writing, I question it and see if I really need to be doing it. I take this to great extremes -- I try to delegate every other routine matter in the house to a software (preferably) or to someone who would gladly get paid to do it (House keeping, laundry, cleaning, dishes). But, I digress again (then again, what's the point of a personal blog if you can't ramble on?). Here, more than anywhere else I have lived, I get the feeling that I have to constantly improve myself and strive to be better at what I am already good at in order to succeed (at work) and keep pace with all the other smart folks around me.

But, there is no denying it. It is an exciting time to live in Silicon Valley and am afraid I wouldn't be able to leave even if I wished to at some point in the future.

December 13, 2012

Breaking out of the bubble (for moms).

So, I survived the first 6 weeks and survived a major abdominal surgery. You don't normally equate a c-section with major surgery but after reading up about it, I am convinced it is. Compared to the nightmare that was my first (non-surgery) delivery recovery, this one seems better but I guess if things had gone wrong with the surgery, it could have gone terribly wrong.

The bubble thing. The first six weeks after r~ was born, I was in a haze. I continued to be in a haze even three months after she was born. I just didn't feel quite right (which later I discovered was my thyroid levels acting up). But thyroid levels being off or not, the first six weeks after delivery, you live in a bubble. In my case, I kept hanging on tight to different mementos, places, things at different times during those six weeks. The first thing I held on to as a security object for a few days was this pair of socks -- they gave it to me at the hospital just before the surgery...

The five days in the hospital this time were mainly about little milestones, little victories for me. Last time, it was quite the bollywood drama -- I asked to go home after third degree tears, hemorrhage and the doctor said he would stamp an AMA (against medical advice) on my forms if I did that! 3 days of labor, attempt to birth at home etc etc. Long story that. This time, everything was planned and felt a bit unreal. k actually had a real hospital bag ready (last time, after my last bit of strength with home birthing and labor had drained off, I picked up a kroger bag, stuffed a few nighties in it and insisted we rush to the hospital with that). This time around, we had taken a real hospital tour, pre-registered, all that good stuff.

After a 'regular' delivery, delivering a baby by c-section was...different. I almost missed laboring (or perhaps that was my hormonal imbalance speaking to me). I missed the challenge of kicking labor in its *-- and knowing that I have the strength to push the baby out. I have read that labor pains is one of the worst forms of pain that a human being can endure. So, coming out of it alive seemed like winning something. I was thrilled to see baby m~ and wondered in a drug-induced haze if I should make another one of these wonderful little things but I hadn't pushed the baby out. I felt a little tugging and there she was! The post 'delivery' part of this pregnancy though was as miraculous as the first time :)

That's the surgery part of it. Then came the 5 day period where I had to kick a different *-- i,e surgery recovery :p I decided to stop and make a little mental note every time I crossed a milestone -- getting up to walk (12 hours after surgery), getting off the epidural, using the rest room for the first time, walking out of the hospital room for the first time, everything was a struggle and a small win. After 5 days, I almost felt scared to leave the hospital like I was leaving a safe bubble to go to the outside world. I guess the hospital room and nurses had become my second security blanket. I held on to little things like the warm water and apple juice k would give me in the hospital room -- each was a source of comfort that it was going to be ok.

At home, I looked forward to the huge scoops of nei that I know my mom would have had ready for me. I remembered the taste from my last time and somehow even that helped me recover -- the familiar tastes and smells of home, and settle down to a more normal routine at home. I shed a few tears for not being able to spend enough time with dear big sister r~. Our lives used to revolve around her constantly and now I wasn't able to shower her with the amount of attention I was accustomed to giving her. And the fact that she was so excited about her lil' sister and had not a jealous bone in her body only made me feel sadder somehow. I am back to doing activities and crafts with her (and sitting on the floor!) and am glad for's always the small things that catch you unprepared.

What's the big deal, you ask? Everyone has or knows someone who has gone through a c-section (or a regular delivery for that matter). True, that. But, I thought I'd write a little about what it feels like to actually go through it and emerge out into the sunlight. I am still seeing through tinted glasses, still standing with one leg somewhat inside the bubble but I know I will step out eventually like I did last time.

Here's to all the moms who make the journey! It's not an easy one :)

November 27, 2012

Status update

Currently reading: Secrets of the baby whisperer by Tracy Hogg

Currently doing: Art projects with r~, finally settled on Follow Me on Pinterest as my display case instead of twitter.

Currently watching: Parenthood, How I met your mother and Big Bang Theory.

Currently experiencing: Fatigue, joy...

Currently: drowning in social media: what do I update? Facebook/linkedIn/multiple twitter accounts, personal blog/professional blog/pinterest???

November 13, 2012

A new life.

I guess giving birth is like being reborn. I am trying to recall what I used to write about here. Whoever said having two kids is not too different from having one either has only one kid or is delusional with lack of sleep. Say hi everyone to baby m~!


As it was with r~, measuring time with little milestones -- first time I could walk after surgery, first time she smiled (gas or no gas), first time I wore something nice after the delivery, first time k and I watched a TV show after delivery...every little thing is a milestone, a small celebration that we survived and are bravely marching along :)


Weird what thoughts float through our heads those first few moments, minutes, days after the baby is born -- when I heard her cry the first time and saw her for the first time, I thought, 'Gosh! I could do this again. Maybe we should have another kid!'


Didn't realize I would spend so much time worrying if I am giving r~ enough attention. I assumed most of my energy would be spent taking care of baby m~. Boy! Was I wrong! Half the time, I am screaming at r~ (who is a big girl now, all of 4 years old) to not touch m~'s hands because she hasn't sanitized her hands yet and has a runny nose and is just back from school (which we all know is there to spread germs and education). The other half of the time, I am tiring myself physically doing crafts with her to make up for all the time am not spending with her and to make up for my guilt for the earlier screaming session. The first few days after I was home, my baby blues (tears) were mostly about r~...didn't expect that.


Thank God for supportive husbands.


And supportive moms.


I am so happy I sent chocolate covered berries and a sweet card to the hospital staff. I love thank you cards and birthday cards and miss you get the picture. No wonder I love thanksgiving speaking of which, this card r~ made at school was touching:


After all the drama of home birthing, 3 day labor, ER visit and blood loss last time with my delivery, this time was almost a non-event. Felt unreal to not go through labor and give birth. I missed laboring -- something empowering about beating it and coming out of it alive (and now I have officially lost it, I guess).


Addicted to Parenthood.


1 year of no TV and still counting.


r~ is mischievous to a point where we get complaints from her school teachers about her naughtiness. Always embarrassing to get lectured about your kid; thought we were done with being lectured when I graduated from college.


Is anyone still reading this blog? Hellooo?


August 23, 2012

Bay area pics

r~ and I loved the mountain range that gave us company as we all drove around in the bay area. r~, my little artist replicated it here: she added an airplane and our house sort of on top of the mountains :-)

Mountains in the bay area

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