December 21, 2009

Being grateful.

L~ sent me a link a few months ago about this blog which is about three things that the blogger is grateful for everyday. So, a new post a day each of which describes why the blogger is thankful for something in her life. And I filed away the blog in my head to refer back to it sometime in the future. Of late, my head seems to be constantly reeling with to-dos and tasks, consumed by day-to-day routines and rigours and I thought I should make a conscious effort to remind myself to unwind and as wise Van put it (to letitgooooooo).

Part of this effort is to attempt a technology-free day -- no TV, no phones and gasp! No internet! Of course, the project promises to be a spectacular failure thanks to k's total disinterest and distaste for the whole idea. So, what do you guys think? Is the idea too cliched to work? Or will the very thought that we can't lean upon technology to kill our boredom and contribute to our entertainment will make us more stressed? What will we do instead, you ask? But, with a toddler in tow, I wonder if going tech-free will make any difference to my day except after r~ has slept for the night (1-2 hours me-time at the most) and then, I always have my book tower to fall back upon. What this exercise will probably buy me is my inability to access facebook and my online tadalist...hmm. Not much but everyone keeps claiming how going back to a slower paced world will fix all woes and so I thought this was worth a shot!

Meanwhile, my three thanks go to:



Me (holding back tears at Atlanta airport, August 2000 -- first day in America): "Yes..."

"Naan hari? Nyaabagama iruka? Bits senior...mechanical engineering..."

"Oh" (His face vaguely familiar was like that of a guardian angel's)

"Are you ok?"

I give him a hesitant nod and show him my boarding pass.

"You have to catch the train to go to that know that right?"

"No..." (At this point, my eyes are watering up...what train? Where?)

He points to where a few people stand with luggages and says, "You need to board this train and get down at your terminal..."

"Ok...", I say in a small voice.

He hesitates, "You know I can come with you if you want...was waiting to receive a few friends..."

"No, I'll manage..." (Please come, I say in my head. I am scared and alone and my luggage tore and the nasty lady at the counter screamed at me, "Expecting to sue the airport I suppose? With your cheap old baggage from India" and I shook my head vigorously and she dismissed me with a "Seal your bag and get it". I waited helplessly until a kindly old American gentleman sealed my suitcase in a plastic wrap and patted my shoulder when I thanked him profusely...)

"Sure? Ok, I'll walk with you..."

And he waits until I board the train. I am busy trying to balance my overstuffed hand luggage and am thrown off balance momentarily when the train starts. I manage to get off at the right terminal and the rest as they say is history.

So...thanks Hari for being there that day and saving my day. Some day maybe we will meet and I will remember to thank you properly...

Salooja, Lakshmi, Anusha:

All of them my school buddies. Their faces are just vague silhouttes for me today but I enjoyed their friendships while they lasted...for reasons I can't fully recall I lost touch with them. I remember why Lakshmi stopped talking to me like she used to...

"Lakshmi, Ramya...stand up!" My Geography teacher? Or was it Math teacher? I can't remember but I do remember she sounded extremely displeased that we were whispering to each other while she droned on about something she felt was of utmost importance.

"Stop talking in class."

We both being "good students" hung our heads in shame.

"Ramya, don't let Lakshmi spoil you also!"

And that was that. Lakshmi although a conscientious student seldom stood within the top three ranks (which I did). And after that day, Lakshmi maintained her distance. I was too immature to discuss the incident openly and here I am today.

Salooja had the sweetest round face of any girl I have ever known. She was gentle and mild-mannered and just happy to go along with my ideas. I suppose I was the bossy one then but in general she had a calming influence on me and I felt protective around her -- she was this delicate sort of girl. I don't remember why we didn't stay in touch...

Anusha was this bubbly, boyish, cute girl. I was very fond of her. I can't even remember why. Just remember that she had this cute front flick and she was fun to hang out with.

Thanks to you girls for being really great girl friends. I miss you and even more because I don't have any girl (or best) friends so to speak (just friends and family friends).


When I was still a freshie at Bits, one of the final year seniors, Radha, called me to her room (they were supposed to be the worst raggers) and I was terrified. The first thing she asked me to do was to fill her water bottle with water :p She wore glasses and looked smart with her hair high up in a pony tail. But the ragging was not quite what I expected. She asked me what I read and we discovered we liked the same books. We discussed Darcy (who else?) and quite a few other characters from novels and three hours later she said I was free to go! I came out shocked that I had talked so much to a senti-semite and that it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience!

A few days later at our mess, I heard "Freshieeee" and my heart stopped. A pretty girl dressed in a faint pink saree gestured me to her table. Several other seniors sat with her and I carried my lunch plate and stood with my head bowed in front of her, "Yes ma'am."

She stared at me for a few minutes and I didn't know what to say, "Yes ma'am aaa? Ada paavi? Don't you remember me?"

I hastily tried to place her but by then she was already waving me off. And a few minutes later it came back to me. Radha minus the pony tail and glasses. Dressed in a saree instead of western wear and wearing contacts and a bindi! I felt a sudden urge to rush back to her table and apologize but I was still a scared freshie and decided not to test my luck.

A year later when it was graduation night, Radha and Sowmya (her best friend) cried and hugged each other because they were leaving Bits and I thought it would be pretty awesome to have a best friend who would cry and hug you when you left college. That didn't happen. Of course, I didn't know it then and I really wished that would be true in my case also.

So thank you Radha for a fantastic ragging experience. If we met now, we would have so much to talk about.

Why these people? When I could thank a million others? I don't know. Just picked the first few people that came knocking at my mental door step when I dug back into black and white photos in my head...and I really do feel better now. Being thankful is an awesome feeling indeed.

December 14, 2009

About odd feelings and familiar comforts.

I am an "odd" sort of person in the sense that certain situations will without fail produce an I-feel-awkward aura around me and k will most certainly point out why my feeling is unwarranted and I really out to just grow up and deal with it. I, you can guess by now, of course disagree. Certain situations demand that you feel odd.

Take for example one situation which always always makes me swallow and gulp and look all shifty-eyed and weird -- changing my provider, a provider being anyone who supplies certain items that I regularly need or provides services that I avail of when in need and hence shares a certain degree of familiarity with me. For eg: my doctor, my florist (if I had one), my beautician (Ok fine! I go to her once in six months to do my eyebrows). The problem arises when I try to switch from one to another or ask for a discount or just do something other than pay the cash and take the service.

To dive into the details, my current source of oddity is r's pediatrician. So, there was this dude who wasn't as adept as he should have been for her well visit check-up. As a result, he laboriously prodded her and she lost it and scream her head off. As a result of which, I lost it a bit too and k had two difficult girls to handle as the drama unfolded in the doctor's office. To give the doc some credit, he was very nice about calming me down and assuring me why the prodding was necessary to ensure dear lil' r~'s ears were healthy. And so, I nodded and sniffled as k carried poor diaper-clad r around the clinic to appease her. All this is fine but then due to a few other reasons, we decided to change r's pediatrician (3 hours for a well-visit appointment!) And now comes the awkward part. The new doc said we needed to contact our old doc and get all of her records from there so they can get her into their system (Don't get me started on the "In the system" protocol -- I can write a book about it). When k told me this, I hemmed and hawed and finally told him I couldn't do it and then you know we fell into our regular pattern which went like this:

"Why can't you call them and get the records?"

"Because, I feel odd to do it."

"Why should you feel odd? You are the patient, you have a right to see some other doc. For her last appointment tomorrow, I told the clinic we don't want to see this particular doc ." (The docs in her old clinic do a rotation sort of thing, so you don't really know which of the 5 docs you are going to get and the particular doc in question was our ear prodding dude.)

"What?" (I am mortified -- what if he walks in to check on her, should we like block his way or something?)

"What? I told the nurse we don't want to see Dr. a~ and she didn't care, she was like sure, if he walks in, just tell him you want to see someone else"

"Oh noooo! I can't do that. If Dr. a~ walks in, I'll just have r~ checked by him and then anyway we go to the new clinic next time!"

"Why? Why?" (At this point, k has the expression he gets on his face when he can't begin to imagine why I behave the way I do sometimes)

"Because it is ODD!"

Yes. O.D.D. And I have a right to feel odd in situations like this. The problem is I have more than a few of these that I find hard to handle -- bargaining for a used car purchase, bargaining with an Indian auto-rikshaw driver over the fare, asking for a some point in the past, I felt odd to go back to the Indian grocery store after a break of six months when we shopped at another store. I think s~ uncle actually had a oh-look-who-is-finally-back-look on his face when he saw us but if I tell k that, he would say I am imagining things.

Ok so maybe s~ uncle who owns the Indian grocery store may not care as much if one of his customers decided to go awol. But you know what? Sometimes people do care and notice a lot more than we give them credit for and that's why I like to stick to my service providers (even had a hard time convincing myself to switch to AT&T from Sprint) -- you never know, one day they may recognize you for being faithful and give you credit for it. I bet k won't complain because the Indian restaurant that's like two minutes away from our house gave him a permanent 10% off because we ordered take-outs so often (Yeah yeah, I do cook but I was in a homesick phase after folks left back to India and couldn't drag myself into the kitchen to cook).

So yeah. Cheers to everything familiar -- there is comfort even in getting your eyebrows threaded by the same hands (although it hurts like crazy no matter who does it).

December 07, 2009

Meaning of motherhood.

I wrote this piece for parenting magazine for their meaning of motherhood contest. Not that I won anything for it but was fun to write 300 words that meant a lot to me :)

"I remember: the first wet kiss planted sloppily on my cheek; the day she leaned her tiny head on my shoulder and drifted off to sleep; the moment I watched her cradled on dad’s chest, dad and daughter fast asleep, her gentle snores punctuating the rare, magical silence in my head. I remember how heartbreakingly tiny she looked, swaddled in her pale pink baby cloth. I remember how she stared wonder-eyed at all her birthday gifts from the previous day. That image is tucked away safely in my mind – her tousled hair and sleepy eyes that day, like that of an angel awakened from sleep.

If only motherhood were just moments like these! Then, there is the day she decided she had had enough of the high chair and emptied sticky rice-cereal on to the floor, and did a repeat-performance the next day and then the next; when one day, she got it in her head that she would get all her liquid content from the saline-spray bottle; when she cried because I wouldn’t give her the camera, which I did eventually and then she proceeded to throw it down the stairs; the night she woke up every hour and would not sleep until I rocked her to sleep each time...

Motherhood is about nights like these and how we rise to the challenge and grow with each such experience -- stronger, more capable and better at being a mom. It’s about sweet cuddles, giggles, baby-talk and unbelievable love but it is also about tears and anxiety and just plain cold fear some days that this blessing that we brought into this world remain safe and happy...always. And then it’s morning again and I hear “Ummmmmaaaa”, her big kiss for momma and I know I can do it."

November 30, 2009

Good hair day!

Once in a blue moon day captured on camera! Now, there's some proof that this unruly tangle called my hair style can be tamed (for $10 + tips but worth it, me thinks)!

November 19, 2009

Abhiyum Naanum

I couldn't have watched this movie at a better time in my life. The movie hit home for a couple of reasons -- the marriage to a "North Indian" and the baby girl in their lives. RadhaMohan has directed a realistic and touching movie again after Mozhi. I liked Azhagiya Theeye also but Mozhi left behind several scenes in my head and so also Abhiyum Naanum. In this case though I had to hold back tears and watch the movie (The one time I cried for a movie in front of k -- Naayagan, he hasn't let me forget it even now. Not giving him another opportunity so easily!)

At some points in the movie, Abhi was r~ for me and then it was hard not to get involved. Scenes that were particularly touching: when Ravi says Abhi is his amma, when Prakash Raj looks shocked when Abhi tells him she knows what she is doing, Ravi's song during her wedding, when Prakash Raj holds up his hand and says "Porum already told me this when you were fifteen, you know what you are doing..." to name a few.

This may seem over the top but I am more patient with r~ after the movie, at least the past 2-3 days and am sort of overwhelmed with affection for her. The movie begins with Prakash Raj telling PrithviRaj that the very mischief that has us begging them to stop now will be the fondest of memories for posterity. And there is truth to that observation. I guess the movie sort of woke me up to the not so distant time when r~ will not need me so completely any more but I will continue to depend on, worry about and learn from, her. In some ways, my life will be determined by the decisions she make. And of course, I thought of my dad and similar events that happened in our lives...

I loved the fact that the comedy track in the movie was well-integrated into the main story. I think the first thing k and I wondered aloud after watching the movie was if r~ would show up with a Sardarji herself twenty years from now! The Balle balle music when Jogi reveals himself at the airport and Prakash Raj's "Yes Sir" salute on the phone to the PrimeMinister were hilarious! There were no unnecessary overflow of emotions, no excesses intended to extract every bit of emotion from the audience, no untimely accidents and unexpected tragedies but still this movie pulls the audience into its narration and manages to even convey a message or two without sounding preachy.

My dear li'l r~, I hope someday you see this movie with me and we can laugh and cry about it together. For now, we can always laugh with Elmo!

November 11, 2009

RS, the foodie.

A couple of weeks ago, I was in p~'s place and we were all discussing k's insatiable appetite for baked garlic breads. That led to discussions about everyone's favorite foods and p~ said, "But RS, you don't love food like we do!"

And that is true. I don't love food like k's dad for instance or even k. His eyes light up and this huge smile spreads across his face when he discovers that a favorite food awaits him on the dining table. He'll smack his fingers and inhale the rich aroma from the food and let everyone know that he is happy. The way to a man's heart is...and all that.

I, on the other hand, do not make a big deal of it. If I like it, I eat it with relish. If someone else cooked the food, I tell them I liked it and then get on with it. If I don't like it, I serve myself less of that food or avoid it (in the case of green peas). And then food is forgotten and I am thinking about the next 58 items that I need to do before calling it a day.

But, there are a few dishes (not the American "dishes" -- pots and pans, the Indian ones) that I enjoy eating. I look forward to eating them and when I do eat them, it is slowly (unlike my mom who is a very fast eater speeding up even more if she finds the food tasty), savoring every mouthful, every bite, pleasing all senses -- my tongue lazily rolling the food in my mouth, my nose taking in the inviting smells, my eyes feasting on the colors I love and my ears listening to the relaxing crunch crunch as I chew and swallow the food. I am going to list them here (You never know when "someone" decides to treat me to my perfect dinner on say, Val day or just for the heck of it -- hey! Not hinting. All am saying is, you never know):

My perfect dinner...why dinner? Because the ambience is important for me and dim lighting is an important part of the ambience for me and that means dinner. I am thinking of an Olive Garden sort of setting with pleasant but unfamiliar Italian music in the background and the indistinct murmer of side table conversations but I can adapt to familiar but low volume music in the background, dim lighting right above the dining table right at home (Thank God for dimmers). All this is assuming the dinner is home-cooked. I am not a big fan of take-outs and I don't like eating in the car (Woodlands style) or standing and eating (Saravana Bhavan style).

Let's see now, basics first -- the place has to be clean. Fengshui will tell you that. Clutter kills the moment. Nice, not necessarily fancy but clean and nice plates, bowls and cutlery. I am not a big fan of a multitude of little bowls cluttering my dinner plate. I like mixing foods and eating them, the south Indian style! Colorful table-mats are a plus but not a necessity.

Ok so, that's taken care of. Now, let's move to the main story:

Start with an appetizer. The classic tomato soup of course with home made croutons (Sorry Sandra Lee but home made it is) and a swirl of cream on top like they do it in Palimar in Chennai.

I could do with some fresh salad by the side with Italian dressing but that's something I developed a taste for in the US. Not a must really.

Main course will be a choice...hmm, make that both paav bhaji and south Indian Barota. No, not paratha, not parantha, not naan and not roti. Barota. The way they serve it in Saravana Bhavan -- crispy and fluffy at the same time with golden brown flecks and layers and layers of perfection. Kuruma by the side. Not chola, not random unrecognizable punjabi vegetables with gravy but kuruma. Raitha maybe, not too crazy about it. Maybe if it's a pineapple raitha, then yes, sure!

The paav bhaji should be like...hmm, the ones they serve in the erstwhile Woodlands drive-in in Chennai. Butter glistening on the lightly toasted bhajis with sesame seeds peeping out from them. The tomatoes adding a shocking touch of color to the potato bhaji. Decorated with coriander leaves and a sprinkle of finely cut onions on top.

And then (rubbing hands in glee) dessert! Tiramisu is my current favorite but if I were in Chennai, it would be Sathukudi juice with pulp, freshly squeezed (Saravana bhavan style). I guess if it's the juice, I would like it along with my main course. And finally, casatta icecream. I am not a big fan of fruit salad or chocolate icecream but I like the variety the casatta offers -- Cake in the bottom and multiple colored layers on top, so you are subjected to a surprising variety of flavors as you bite through it. Yum!

If a walk in the beach is possible and time permits, then kulfi! Just the sound of the tinkling bells announcing the kulfi guy is enough to make me jump in glee! It was Rs.2 or was it Rs.3, when I was in Chennai...and the top part of it would always have melted a little bit and I would have to rush and lick it up before I wasted even a precious drop of it...aaaah! Each drop was nectar itself!

So, that's it. I might not make every day's meal a reason for celebration but certain foods by association with pleasant memories and places or just by virtue of their character evoke magic and I am all for making a big deal of that!

October 27, 2009

Indulging in trivialities.

Ok head overload. Got to download before head swells to comical size with trivial crap. When in doubt, make a list and so here goes:

* I can't remember where I kept Bridget Jones diary. I probably will pay $1k in fine to my beloved library before I admit that it is indeed lost.

* Keep reading 1 yr olds are supposed to be angels that listen to parents all the time to please, unlike unbearable 2 yr olds. So wrong. They do as they please just like any other human being.

* Have 5 and a 1/2 magazines to finish and 3 novels to read (plus one book I bought off amazon -- You are here by Meenakshi Madhavan) and this includes Bridget Jones Diary which I can't finish 'coz it's AWOL :(

* Can't remember the Chinese (or was it Japanese) way of typing smilies was it * |* or something like that? I must be developing some late postpartum amnesia of some sort.

* Can't decide ending for imaginary novel in head. Should she decide which guy she will choose? Or leave it ambiguous in the belief that reader is smarter than self and will decide a neat ending?

* No ribald jokes or sensuous scenes in novel 'coz self prude. There goes half the readership! What now? I have one and a half reader left?

* In fact reading a novel that I wrote. Ok, Anita Nair wrote it but so much ego boost and inspiration to convince self that novel written by RS. Oooh. Totally loving it so far (The Mistress in case said reader and 1/2 curious.)

* I am too chicken to be SAHM. If you don't know that acronym, don't bother.

* Have always fancied wearing designer glasses and strutting about like high-power career woman or ultra-cool mom but eye doc although super nice and shared stories about high school said eye sight normal.

* I liked heroines in movies. All of them. Lately, I have disliked a few. I must be developing some weird behavioral disorder due to extended lack of sleep.

* Can't believe the only musical I went to in Lex featured a huge red monster singing "The wheels on the bus..."

* Not that bad. I watched quite a few neat plays at Danville. Waiting to take r~...

Ok enough. Head in decent shape now. Singing off to drink more water to reduce weight. Oh...

* Must remember to drink water like normal human beings so can go back to 110 lbs. Mind over matter. If mind can move spoon in that Tom Cruise movie (Amnesia prevents movie name recall) then mind and water can help shed extra 15 lbs.

* Also faith can move mountains and such inspiring thoughts.

Ok gotta go. Artificial thirst in progress.

October 21, 2009

Motherhood & Babyville -- a post for women mostly.

(...although will be refreshing if you are a guy and you still want to read the post. 100 words down if you are still reading, man, you rock!)

I recently submitted an article on motherhood for a magazine contest. And I wrote that while motherhood is about sweet gurgles, the pitter-patter of tiny feet and wet sloppy first kisses, it is much more than what the outside world sees. The whole world told me my life was going to change after a baby. There is much truth in that and li'l r~ is now a year old and I don't know if my life is back to normal yet. So, I figured I would alter what normal is so I can get over that issue and carry on with life.

The past two days, I have been dwelling over how being r's mom has transformed me, not just because of the article but also because of this book I read called Babyville. I started off criticizing the book for being superficial but as I continued to read, I could identify bits of myself (albeit very tiny bits at times) in all the three moms in the book. Yes, there was a time (I believe, 4 weeks after r~ was born) when I wondered if I had the famous baby-blues or it's nasty sibling, PPD. 6 months, post-partum when I was still a walking zombie, I wondered if I was making a big mistake by not even considering the Crying-it-out method. After all, happy, sane mom a requisite for happy baby, right? At that time, I didn't quite chalk my walking-dead-routine down to thyroid issues (which is what I would discover later on -- a drastically over-zealous or sluggish thyroid gland and just for fun, keep alternating it so the endoc could never know for sure!)

And now, I am no longer post-partum even by my extended definition (k claims it's 6 weeks, not 1 year!) So, I no longer have a valid excuse for: my 15 extra pounds (I swear, I will sign up for the gym if I cross 125 now; enough is enough!), my lack of energy in the evenings, my most favored costume of the day -- pjs...and so on. I am past the stage where moms with kindly eyes (and the rest of the world, also with kindly eyes :) who have been-there-dunnit inquire about my birth story. I can't slack off in bed saying I am recovering. And soon, when my mom leaves, it's just up to me and k to keep r~ safe, healthy, happy, intellectually-stimulated and the million other things that toddlers need. In reality, they will probably grow up to be perfectly fine, whether or not moms like me stress over which vaccines to delay, which organic baby food to trust, which toy not to buy, how much TV to watch and so on. But stress, I do. I believe it's part of the job-description.

I miss the attention-phase. The phase when a woman is pregnant and people coo and ooh and are super nice to you (That must be how celebrities feel, I guess). And then we sort of melt to the background -- and rightfully! Baby outcutes mom anyday! -- but it's also sort of anti-climactic; suddenly we are moms now who ought to know how to get their act together. The past 1/2 year, I think exactly one of my friends asked me how I felt -- a question that was put to me a million times when I was pregnant. I find it somewhat annoying when people suddenly start addressing me momma. Hello? Not your momma! Like suddenly they can't be bothered to find out your first name. "Momma! Baby will be fine, it's just a little shot!", "Momma, come and sign this paper please!" 'Course am proud am a mother but a mother to my precious, not to every odd person on earth!

And then there's the discussed-to-death family-work balance which does not exist. If you are talking about family-work-imbalance, yes, I believe that is real. When I am at work, I worry about r~ and when am with her, I worry about not making my mark at work. There are a million things I want to be doing every second -- clean the house, organize stuff, cook, write, plan, be an awesome and also very cool mom (very important, repeat "cool mom")...and I feel I don't do justice to most of it.

And being a part of mommyhood also means subtly justifying your choices maybe not all the time but it's bound to crop up sometime or the other in this journey. One child only? Stay at home mom? Day care so early? Every choice invites a comment and it's hard not to justify myself which opens the door for what else? More comments and advice. It's however hard to ignore the advice (which is what am doing currently) when it comes from your obgyn or pediatrician ("7 months and not sleeping through the night?Don't you think she might be getting a bit spoilt guys?"; "It's perfectly alright to let your baby cry when she is in the car seat, stroller, crib or anywhere else in this world. Let her cry -- is the solution to a perfect childhood" -- Ok fine. I made that last line up). One of those parenting magazines I read said, the more you blab, the more advice you are going to get, like it or not. And I am the blabbing type, unfortunately. This reminds me of two starkly contrasting statements I heard while I was pregnant: One of my friends said she felt she achieved something in her life only after her she gave birth to her first child. And another acquaintance said her life was over after her child was born.

And the book brought all this to the forefront (of my already loaded mind). And so, I am currently dwelling on all this and of course I shall dwell some here too. For what's a blog for, if not to output some of your overflowing, repetitive, inane thought processes to? And being a mom means being subjected to an overdose of that whole process.

And no, I am not going to end this post with but it's all worth it because we have a cute baby who makes it all better. It may be worth it but every motherhood article need not necessarily end with that disclaimer just because it highlighted some of the difficulties of being a mother and now it has to make up for it. I will not subject to the mommy-guilt-syndrome. At least, not this once *Sheepish grin*.

What's a mom to do when she has all this going on? Read a chick-lit and chill of course. Which is what am doing currently. Bridget Jones diary, in case you are curious or too lazy to check out my book case on the right. One day r~ will grow up and walk through this space and go, "Mom?! You lost it briefly after me?!" in a delectable American accent!

Oh and now for some fun update, The last laugh will be showcased at the Bangalore book festival! Aarg! I wish I could go. I wish I could go and do a reading or some such cool thing. Look for a stall by pothi if you are there at the exhibition! I wish I could go! If I say it enough times, the powers that be shall make it happen. Didn't you know that?

October 16, 2009

Massages and me.

I had another massage finally. And as with my previous massages, I enjoyed the conversation more than the massage itself. I met three interesting women (masseuses just sounds weird) and each time I decided to break the ice and ask them something, anything. So, I asked them what I was really curious about -- how did they get into this profession? What made them decide to be a masseuse? I met t~ a few months after Radhika was born. She was this delicate little lady, same age as me, with a soft, lilting voice (The accent I would learn is because she is from a village near the erstwhile Russia). She said she used to give her friends massages and she got good feedback from them; she believed in holistic healing and decided to take a course on massaging. We talked about what k would call hippie topics -- vaccinations and why or more importantly why not...cloth diapering, gentle sleep training, returning back to home...I felt mentally refreshed when I left the place.

The second time, I met a slightly older masseuse, Toni. She had a smart hair cut -- that's what I noticed first -- short, grayish hair, intelligent eyes (especially behind those brown rimmed glasses she wore) and when I asked her the same question, she said she had been a nurse for 15 years and wanted a change in career. She met with a career counselor and then decided to study massaging. She told me the career changes she makes keeps her young. Being young is about being adaptive to change...she said something like that.

The third time, I met e~ and she said she was a dancer and a masseuse and her interest was in specializing for massages for dancers. We talked a little bit about my baby, r~ and hers, her dog! That she was going to be a summer bride! That her bridesmaids' dresses were blue and yellow...and most interestingly we talked about a plot for my imaginary novel! We talked about names and how the people in my novel would meet, imaginary scenarios and dramatic characters...

"So, how was the massage?", k asks.

"I had fun!", I say.

He gives me a curious look and sort of shakes his head when I tell him about my latest conversation. I am not one of those people who just cannot live without her regular bi-weekly massage sessions but once in a while, an unexpected, refreshing conversation with a stranger is just the right mental pick-me-up I need!

September 24, 2009

Kids and all

I read yet another article on kids and what happens to your life after kids. And I was again startled to read a blanket statement that went something like, "People are unhappier with kids. They even admit it most times but always end with a disclaimer that states they wouldn't have it any other way; their lives are so much enriched with kids...blah". Now, this is startling for a number of reasons. Unhappy and kids? That's a very unlikely marriage. I can imagine couples being unhappy in their marriages but unhappy with kids? That's a stretch if you ask me. If kids make you unhappy, then I guess your requirements for happiness perhaps need a second draft, something more realistic and attainable?

Why does this irk me, you ask? For the obvious reason that I now have a kid and understand the pains and struggles that face parenthood, like an unending ocean of waves, crashing one after another. So, when someone comes along with this fancy statistic relating kids and unhappiness, it gets on my nerves. Why? Maybe because I am going through the experience right now and trying to stay on top of it and reading un-optimistic opinions like this makes my life seem that much harder. Maybe, I like reading material that helps reinforce my belief in my choices? Or maybe, equating kids and unhappiness seems just plain biased to me. Kids and stress. Kids and financial strains. Kids and lack of sleep. Agreed. Kids and unhappiness seems like there is some other root cause that is just convenient to transfer to kids and blame them for it.

On a somewhat related note, maybe there is some truth to the observation that more choices is just more stress for people. Life is really simpler when your choices are few. The problem with multiple choices is it offers you a variety of ways you can live your life and then it's all about defending your choices -- the kids you had or did not have, the career you have or do not have, the house you bought or did not buy. Through seemingly unrelated conversations, the subtle defense for your choices seeps through somehow. So, you find yourself justifying to others and yourself how your choices make a whole bunch of sense. I find this somewhat annoying especially when the choices people have made are quite different from mine and for that very reason maybe they find an urge to sneak in a statement validating their choices. Anyhow, that's how people are and possibly, I do that too inadvertently. So peace.

Aaah. So, am doing the single parent thingie for a week. Let's see how that goes. *Someone* is not going to be greeted by a pleasant face when he returns from his business trip if r~ keeps me sleep-deprived all week long :p

Stay tuned.

September 11, 2009

Amul butter anyone?

After a couple of years, I decided to tag along with k and r~ to Sagar India Market to buy Indian groceries. Nothing much had changed but I did find this extremely inviting package of Amul butter beckoning to me from behind the frosty freezer door. Today, I unwrapped the package and took a big chunk of butter which I confess I ate "apadiye" (Was it the horlicks ad that went, "Appadiye saapiduven"?), no bread, no crackers, just utterly, butterly delicious Amul butter. It was all that it promised to be!

Not that I needed an excuse or anything but then I started thinking of India. The other day, I was talking to k about my evergreen topic, India vs America, the one that my dad and I always end with, "Ok, let's agree to disagree on this". I told k that somewhere in the back of my mind, there is always this thin veil of insecurity that reminds me that am not in my home country. I love America and am grateful for the life we have here, but am certain somewhere not easily accessible is this little anxious voice that cautions me to be careful and I think that voice will not be quietened by a green card or a citizenship card. That voice is here to stay.

Maybe, it's because the life we have here is what we built from scratch. Aside from a handful of close friends and a wider circle of just friends, we don't have a solid base with close people milling around us to help us if we need help. Our foundation is still new, stable but new. Maybe r~ would feel otherwise because we would have built the base on which she will build her life. She has a backup. What do we have? There are channels here, "aid" available if needed, organized care but it is not personal, it is...indifferent and that worries me.

Life throws many curve balls at us and I guess, I am trying to handle one now that has me wondering if r2i is the only sane, only safe decision there is for us. But, I guess I have gone through pretty momentous occasions here in this country and am stronger for each experience and a bit more confident. So, maybe life here is worth a shot and is the right way to go...who knows?

There is a reason for everything and I bet there is an overwhelming reason for my choice. I just have to figure it out.

August 25, 2009

Free book offer!

My friend r~ had this neat idea to promote my book, so here goes...

Promote my book anyway you can -- blog it, tweet it, facebook it, myspace it if you into web20 or email/chat if you like slightly older technology or talk about it and write letters (if you are into ancient ;) and the person with the best results (relatively) will get a copy of The Last Laugh free (Yeah, yeah, you don't have to pay shipping or sign up for a lifetime supply of every book I output, am not conning you :p)

Also, I think I should give away a free copy in US and one in India to the person who shouts the loudest (and is heard the most :)

I suppose there ought to be a deadline for this sort of thing. Will post updates soon as I check out the response to this post (Yes, if you are the only person who responded to this post and did the needful, the book is yours to keep :p).

So there.

Please email me if you think you have shouted your throat hoarse and show me what you've got (Email threads, chat transcripts, fb pages and all that good stuff) and I promise I'll root for you to get a free copy! More points for creative advertisement of the book (like mention of particular stories, what you fancied about it (you did, didn't you? Awww...don't break my heart!) etc.

The Last Laugh facebook page (permanently on this blog on the right) has all the details about where you can buy the book (Online - Createspace, Amazon, In India @

Many thanks for the support. Much grateful.

August 20, 2009

Do you have the time to smell the flowers?

Do you have the time to...

wander in a library from aisle to aisle until you find the book that just smells right?

walk along the beach on bare feet looking for shells that carry secrets of the ocean?

talk for hours together, not on the phone, not on chat, just plain, face to face talk, watching every twitch, grin and full-mouthed smile that lights up on the other face?

sit on a park bench and

hear temple bells and indistinct chants during an early morning walk?

listen to stories narrated by aging mouths of a time when cinemas were in black and white and real life was much more colorful than now?

think of then and now, of things that were meant to be and relationships that weren't?

uni-task? To immerse yourself and be true to one task for a while?

feel someone else's pain and pleasure?

stop and watch, to slow down and smell the flowers on the way?

click add to cart and read this book? Just kidding! All of you have time for that ;)

August 13, 2009


Aaah. Another night in countless nights with less than 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep (where's my medal?) Side-effect being that I can't think coherently and therefore cannot write coherently. Result being this post.

I wonder if Radhika doesn't like the bottle just like I don't like the breast pump. In our quest for equal rights, we seem to have painted ourselves into a corner. Need to perform well at work, need to be great mom...Need to be a great mom, need to perform well at work, need in-laws to think am doing some level of work at home (have pretty much given up on this), need to have date nights (Ha haaa), need to keep up with baby-info, need to sell my book (I know, I just can't stop saying "My book" :-) many needs and one small brain (Ok fine! It has 100 billion neurons but ever tried to reach this limit?).

Uhh...wait, where was I? Oh yeah, the breast pump. Been thinking about this contraption ever since I read this cool article by Judith Warner. So now, we willingly subject ourselves to this nonsense and demand a pumping room in the workplace so we can save some magic-mommy-milk for baby. If you lived in the previous century and someone told you about breast pumps, you would have laughed and then raised your eyes incredulously when you realized it was not a joke. What have we landed ourselves into?

Why do we feel the urge to work when nature did not entrust us with that responsibility in the first place? Yeah, yeah, we have brains that function just as well as mens' brains etc. But maybe, the brain was meant to function best when the woman stayed home with the children. Then, the equations would have been clear-cut. And yes, I would probably be teary-eyed in my pretty apron (Yeah, chronologically and geographically incorrect but am sleep-deprived) if I had burnt the bajji that I fried lovingly for my husband when he came home after a day's work. But at least, I knew that was my responsibility and I knew I had to excel in that. Not in 200 other things that I impose on myself.

What can I blame for this urge to multi-task? To work and pump and nurture and be good at everything under the sun? (I know I hardly used the breast pump, so can't really rightfully complain but what the hell, just feel like complaining about...women and our decisions).

The vast majority of self help books say, "If you are unhappy, change it..." (Who moved my cheese, anyone?) why don't I just change it instead of typing furiously on my thinkpad? Sigh. Because all said and done (What now? I am using cliches? I really need to sleep!), I got it pretty good and I realize it in those rare moments of self-awareness that seem to come farther apart nowadays.

What's my point again? Dunno. What if I lived ages back...actually no thanks, I'd like to live now :) So, what if I just do one thing and be really good at that one thing? (Like google -- search and search real damn fast and well!) Let's my imaginary, ideal world, I would probably be an SAHM, owning one of those mom-owned cool businesses or writing for a living (Woohoo! -- so, read my book already!), having the energy to take care of r~ all the time and ooh, wait, I want to look sexy too and not fight with k over night wakings...!

Hey....100 billion neurons, you got that all? Good, so work towards it!

August 06, 2009

Ze book -- it iz out!


Wrote a book.


Collection of short stories. You might have read some of them @ wr.


Available @ CreateSpace & Amazon


Err...if you happen to buy it and read it, please do send feedback or better still, leave feedback on the amazon page (even if you don't plan to buy the book but have read some of my short stories).

What else?

Let your friends know!

What's in it for me?

Oh boy! Trick question. Let's see -- hopefully a couple of hours of reading entertainment and lots of good vibrations from me accompanied by "Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you..."

August 03, 2009

An ode to modern motherhood.

When I was pregnant, my friend a~ told me that the pregnancy/labor bit was easier compared to what follows. She said, at least I know that can't go on forever but lack of sleep really kills me or something to that effect. And I wondered how that could be true. Of course, since I was pregnant, I was only concerned about the pregnancy part of the whole experience and I thought once the baby is born, I can switch back to a worry-free existence -- you know the cutesy smiling mommy, gurgling toothless baby scenarios? Turns out, I was pretty off base. Pregnancy was really easy compared to sleepless nights and the newer worries that were born with the little package that I signed up for :)

Of course, I can never say my labor and birth of li'l r~ were easy. Nope, although I seem to have made a valiant effort to see the humor in the situation when I read my birth story (Radhu was 7 days old then) a few days back. k likes to call it "the much-glorified blood-loss story". Of course, I shot back with choice phrases that postpartum wives reserve for their helpful yet annoyingly hormone-balanced husbands. Suffice to say the story wasn't pretty.

Anyway, I digress. I was talking about how this whole motherhood thing is a pretty sneakily tricky business. At every stage, it gets you thinking, "Oh! If only I pass this stage, then all's going to be rosy and peaceful" and then you reach that stage and you are already peeking into the next stage and wondering when said stage will jump ahead. And like all mom stories you might have heard, I will add that each stage has a charm that you will miss when you near its end. See, that's why it's sneaky. You want your baby to be done having teeth and then you look at her full-teethed smile and wonder where the toothless grin of yesterday vanished to. You watch her bob her head to music and wonder why the little person who needed your smell every moment of her awake-time doesn't need you quite so much anymore. You are waiting for her to take those little baby steps but know already that you will miss the time when all she could do was roll from her tummy to her back. Sigh. You can't beat the system. You gotta ride the ups and downs and savor the experience. That's the tricky bit -- the knowledge that it's challenging and fun, tiresome and enriching. Can't have one without the other.

So, while you are dealing with all these inconsistencies, you realize you also have a work-life in the outside world that needs your attention. And, I don't know how the super moms do it but I find it really really hard to do justice to the outside world and the baby world. And this is when I haven't really cooked in almost 2 years, save the sudden urge to make a sweet or two on an auspicious day! But, I try anyway with the end result that I am tired and sometimes short fused ("Sometimes?!" -- that would be k screaming from down the hall :p) and yet not satisfied with what I have achieved at the end of the day. There is still a list of 12 tasks and personal goals (including sleep) yet to be achieved and it's already midnight.

Whenever I get into this mode of thinking, well-meaning folks have the tendency to get that faraway wise look as they say, "Think of the moms of yester years who did it all on their own", "Think of the moms who..." blah. blah. Yes, yes. Those moms rock. And I suppose I am selfish in assuming I have a tough life but hey, part of living a fulfilling life is to really live in the moment. So, I am doing that, aren't I? Really soaking up motherhood moments and still trying to have fun. Don't see the need to compare muhself with moms of yesteryears who did it all and still smiled at their husbands with bright-eyed devotion in the mornings as opposed to bleary-eyed, mumbling-to-self lady in pjs who snarls at dear husband in the morning (Uh. That would be me). So, what am I saying? Modern moms have the right to crib too. It's fun to crib (crib = complain as we Indians like to call it). I bet it's healthful (or some such fancy word) to the soul too. To modern motherhood!

July 20, 2009

Dearest friend of mine...(Ennamma thozhi)

Oh! What shall I do, dearest friend of mine?
I am missing my little doll...

Sweet memories
of braiding her hair,
of adorning it with flowers,
of dressing her in satin frocks...

I found you, my dear doll,
the month of Ippasi, fresh from a dip in the Cauvery...

Won't you close your eyes, my dear doll,
when I sing sweet lullabies?
Forever in mind, even when you are gone...
I hear gentle music when you talk to your precious flowers...

Oh! How I wish for a life with no end;
If I had another life to live, how different it would be!
Her face, the enchanting moon; her body, a shimmering river;
Little fingers like soft blades of grass...

Waiting till the day fades,
along with the charm on her face
as her yearning eyes keep searching for those of her beloved's...

This song was hard to translate. L~ sent this song and I liked it the first time I heard it -- simple and melodious. I struggled to understand what the original lyrics meant though (even with mom's help) -- especially the part about another lifetime and a wish to never face death (Why the sudden wish? So she won't lose her doll the next lifetime? But, won't she have to die to face another life?). I sort of left the similes and metaphors intentionally vague so it might refer to the doll or to the little girl herself...

Here is the original (Song - Ennamma Thozhi, Singer - RJ Sulabha, Movie - Kalaipani):

Ennamma thozhi bommaya kaanom
Naa enna seiya poren

Thala vari pinni, pookkal vaithu
Pudhu chattai pottu vittu..

Ippasi masam kaveri snanam…
Bommaya vaangi vandhen

Thaalattu naan pada kanmooda mattayo
Maraindha podhum… manadhil ennum …
Malarodu pesum mazhalai geetham ..

Maranam ella varam kettu…
Maru jenman ondrirundhal maari vidum…
Mugam madhiyo udal nadhiyo…
Melliya kai viralgal pulveliyo….

Kaalai pozhudhellam kaathirukkum
Ival vizhi kaanamal kalai izhakkum…
Ennamma thozhi…

July 15, 2009

IT, mystique and relationships.

I took this really interesting class, Advanced Operating Systems under Dr.Griff @ UK and in one of the classes he talked about pervasive computing. Quite fascinating -- images of intelligent lighting systems, homes, even clothes that warm up or cool down according to a person's body temperature by using nanocomputers! What I want to write today is not exactly pervasive computing as the definition goes but in a way, this seems like pervasive computing to me. Think of the number of social networking technologies there are -- facebook, myspace, twitter, blogs and information engines -- google, yahoo search, wikis. It seems to me that people are finally finding outlets to express themselves; outlets they could not even have dreamed to adopt a decade back. That's great, mostly. From the disgruntled house wife (Home maker? -- Think "Mitr") to the adolescent gamer, everyone is online and "connected" all the time!

I wonder if this whole wave of constant-connectedness will change the dynamics of human relationships. Let's take blogs for instance. I hear SRK and Amir Khan blog too. It was big news when the big B started blogging. Now, my very first serious crush, SRK, blogs too. I assumed I would be thrilled but when I googled for his blog, I almost wished I wouldn't find it. Somehow the charm and mystique he (and bollywood) stands for would be lost if I read it and realized that he is just like you and me. But then, he is human too, just elevated to dizzying heights, I guess. So, why wouldn't he want to blog and express what goes through his head? Thoughts and observations too trivial or too complex to express face-to-face but perfectly safe as bits on a screen?

The same goes for facebook. Almost everyone at work is on facebook -- we know each other's trivial and not-so-trivial thoughts that we feel we need to type as status messages on facebook, we know our big days and celebrations, our not-so-great moments and setbacks. Everything bare for everyone (or perhaps a smaller network of people) to digest.

I sometimes think if I were a teenager in this current era, I would find it very hard to fall in love! The mystery or hidden faces of people no longer have a chance of existing in the shadows. So, I don't really get a chance to wonder if he is thinking of me, if he secretly reads classic romances or if he actually cries at sad movies, if his friends are wild and unpredictable or if he has a hidden talent. Thanks to social networking sites, they are all out there for me to see. I know most of what there is to know about him. Hmm...interesting. Wonder what li'l r~ would think of this comment when she becomes a teenager :)

On the other hand, I have reconnected with faces from my past. We are sort of in-touch. We thumbs-up each other when we see photos we like, we comment on random posts now and then. Not what you can call a heart-to-heart talk, laughing and giggling over college days, but still not strangers who need to be reintroduced after several decades either.

So, what does this all come down to? Absence no longer makes the heart grow fonder because there is no real absence in the real sense of the word, unless of course you are like my brother and are phone/internet-free because you are in some quaint little town somewhere in Kashmir hiking towards the Himalayas? But then you are back to being connected and the magic is there for everyone to see -- which sorts of disperses it and makes it not so magical...right?

I mean, my brother texts me, my gynecologist texts me about appointment details and my boss does when he is in meetings and cannot actually call. Seems like we are all there for each other. No mystery, no wonders.

"Hmm, the last I saw her was when I graduated...she always wanted to settle down in America...wonder if she is still with so-and-so..."


"Hmm, the last I saw her was when I graduated. She is now in Africa, a travel guide who has written several books on the topic. Nope, she is still single."

There is a difference...isn't there? It all seems fabulous if you think about it -- I can see my blog comments on my iphone when am waiting at the dentist's office. Don't have to worry about delayed gratification. It's all instant. But then, the kindle can never replace the authenticity of a worn-out novel in a library. I guess, that makes me old-fashioned. But, you already know that -- you saw my facebook update.

July 02, 2009

Conversation with thatha.

Of late, I have been thinking about my grandfather and grandmother -- how my life perhaps would have been different, richer if I had had the opportunity to interact with them. Whenever mom tells me a story about thatha, my mind conjures up images of a well-built, handsome, somewhat daunting man with a volatile temper and a demure, intelligent (not the bookish sense which I fear is the only kind that I possess) wife.

Colorful scenes from his past flow like cool satin (don't ask me why I thought of satin, that's just what came to my mind -- satin and silk waving kisses in a cool breeze) when I think of my thatha -- his life as a teacher in Colombo, his love for his mother, yet another colorful character...a rather portly lady who had great sense of humor, tremendous spiritual powers and a unique (in that time) fondness for her daughter-in-law, his photographic memory for books and details, his powerful, cursive all a lofty image of a lofty man (in the good sense) that I unfortunately never met.

I have this secret (hah!) wish to write a book about my maternal grandparents. Nope, it will never be a best seller but it will possibly be the most satisfying piece of writing that my pen has ever produced. Because it will let me put myself in their lives and be a part of it...

Most of the stories I found interesting occurred in a place I have never seen -- Colombo. They were stories of a life I have never been exposed to...when you lived under a hostile government that had declared that "Non-nationalists must quit!". My thatha earned well as a professor but only a part of the money reached his large family of a wife and 8 children. Mom says he was a master of the English language. Poems, quotations, words were a part of his regular conversations...I have never met a person in my life who could do that -- recall an appropriate text from a classic literary piece or a poem to quote at the right time! Mom says thatha did not leave behind money for his children but something a lot more precious -- the blessings and power of his prayers.

My paatti was as different from him as could be. She was an intelligent student who stopped studying past the fifth grade to get married. Thatha decided to marry her soon as he met! A lively, handsome young man who died young :( This brings to my mind the image of the first child that my grandparents lost -- Samanthaka mani. She was to be their most intelligent child if she hadn't passed away at the age of three. How weird that I feel sad for an aunt that I never aunt I wish I had met, will maybe meet if not in this lifetime, in some other one?

So many stories, so many memories I try to make my own...where are you now, thatha? Are you reading this now? My silly little words struggling to convey what they set out to convey?

I set out to write down a make-believe conversation between you and me but it turned out to be something else. The make-believe world is powerful, isn't it? No wonder children amuse themselves endlessly in their make-believe worlds -- where dreams come true, where it's possible to experience what real-life fails to deliver...and this is my make-believe world, thatha. Not entirely. But, at times like this, when real life fades, this world is what keeps me going.

Here is what I read last from your letters to my mom,

"...In other words, I am preparing for my "Last journey",

"Our little systems have their day
They have their day and cease to be
They are but broken lights of thee
But thou my lord, are more than they"

In memoriam (Tennyson)

Reply soon..."

Yes...reply soon, thatha...

June 18, 2009

k-yum cable-um (k and the cable)!

Pulled off some neat stuff for k's birthday! Here's a sneak preview of a skit we arranged with clues pointing to a few of k's gifts! More posts with more details. For now, enjoy the show! Actors: - s~, s~ & b~ :) Looks like acting runs in the family! Oh...and can you guess the gifts -- each video has a clue pointing to a gift and all four gifts belong to the same family ;)

Please double-click the video links below. I have withheld embedding permissions.

June 07, 2009

Why husband-wife debug sessions don't work!

"Hey k, do you know why this doesn't work?"

k stares at my screen for a few seconds and then assumes a smug expression, "The url looks wrong".

"But, I verified that it works..."

"Has a space. Wrong."


"Try this..." and he proceeds to tell me what I should do to fix the problem.

"But, I would argue that..."

"Just try it."


June 01, 2009

Rab ne bana di jodi.

I am disappointed. All good things must come to an end, I guess. And so it is with SRK movies and me. Rab ne...irritated me several times in the 2 and a 1/2 hours that I spent with it. It tries to be Dil To Pagal He but fails. It tries to be DDLJ (Mujhe le chalo, Raj!) and fails. It tries to be many things but falls flat on its face instead.

What irritated me most is the voice of the director speaking through Anushka with a self-complacent air about what a woman wants. Nope. You got it wrong this time, director (although, you have gotten it right several times before), you do not know what a woman wants. Not every woman wants to be loved more than anyone else has ever been loved. And certainly, that's not the only thing a woman ever wants.

I guess, what finally tilted the scales for me (It was pretty hard for a I-love-movies girl like me to admit that I did not like an SRK movie) was this we-figured-out-what-women-want attitude. And the thing is they got it all wrong. If I were Anushka, I would certainly not accept the oily-haired-bespectacled SRK in the end -- "You know how to be, so be cool, dude!" I mean, which girl is going to go for that SRK avatar after she has fallen for the other hasta-hua etc. SRK? Come on!

And I am as devout as anyone else and even if mujhe Rab dikh gaya, I would still try to update Rab's look and style so I can live with Rab; know what I mean? There was too much Rab-Rab talk for me in the movie anyway.

And I would be MAD if my husband played a trick on me by trying to be an imposter. Some of the decisions that the oily-headed-SRK makes in the movie made me mad too. If you are an imposter, come to fool your vulnerable wife to fall in love with your boring self, then don't blame her for infidelity. That is really not acceptable. And you can do an upside down tap dance for me on stilts and I still won't accept you!

So there. I said it. I did not like Rab ne...I still think SRK rocks though. I live in the DDLJ world too much to not think that.

May 18, 2009

Moms stuff.

Got this from l~ on mother's day -- it's hilarious and... cute!

Best mom of the year -- me!

This other link is about Priscilla Dunstan and her baby-talk language. I tried to apply it to r~ when she was around 4 months old but she was probably past the new born baby-talk at that point. Highly amusing (for moms) to say the least.


And this is my very first mother's day gift; it's engraved and plays a melody -- r~ loves it as much as I do!

And this email is something every mom will appreciate -- k sent me this email a day before r~ was born:

"I am so proud of the way you are coping with labor." something does go on in that head of his while he does all his staring-at-vacant-spots-stuff; poor dude has hardly got a chance to relax and stare since he sent this email :p

May 12, 2009

About a mom.

IBH's tag -- top 5 reasons why I love being a mom.

1. When I come home from work and call out to r~, she dumps everything she is doing midway, ignores everyone else around her and heads straight to me with a big smile on her face...almost breathless! Gotta love that feeling :)

2. Am surprised at how the dad role fits k perfectly. He is great at being a dad -- touch wood. Not that I expected him to find it a challenge...well, ok, I'll admit it. I think he is even more patient a parent than I am (See how nicely I worded that? ;). He always does the one little extra thooli-aatardu, rocking etc when I have given up and almost drifted off to sleep! And while I was teetering between being conscious and barely-so the first few weeks, he mastered diaper-changing and that is quite something!

3. Ok, I don't really have a well-formed idea for this point. So, I am just going to use whatever phrases come to mind...

An exciting, satisfying, project; scary because there is this little life dependent on you but that somehow makes your life worth so much more; an adventure every day; never realized I hadn't "played" in ages; emotionally tied to someone like I never have before; moms have got to be better people in general -- how can you be self-centered with a little one in your life?; Focused; No one knows her better than I do -- lovely feeling; love the possessiveness that's a part of being a mom; love reading, researching doing all I can to do the best for her; love the smiles, the shrieks of delight, the babbling...the milestones, the everything...

4. Woman power takes on a whole different meaning after child birth. I feel empowered. Moms rock.

5. We are mom and daughter. We are a unit. We have a little world of our own. For now, that's all that matters.

April 27, 2009


Apparently, 25 is the indisputable king of lists. Facebook has a list of 25 random facts about you; you read about top 25 changes you can make to your wardrobe to not look like a maid everyday (Ok fine, that's just one of the lists I plan to make soon), 25 ways to become a new get the point.

And so, I wish to nominate 23 as the new 25. Just for kicks. Also because my birthday falls on 23rd. And I hereby present 23 thoughts and all that that you were dying to read about all this time! Why here? Where else? Nobody asked me for my 25 thoughts on face-book or orkut or myspace...wait, I don't have an account on myspace. But, yeah. Nobody in any sort of online community went, "Gosh! RS, you have to tell me 25 trivial thoughts that ran in your head today! Can't wait to hear!" So anyway...


1. I keep reading it's good to be grateful. I am grateful to Stephenie Meyers (Of the Twilight fame) for making the last few days' wait for little r~ more bearable -- almost a blur in my head.

2. I recently started sleeping on the other side of the bed. It was weird at first.

3. It's so weird when people say hi and smile but don't even carry the smile on their faces until you walk past them. Kind of like auto-pilot. So they looks really comical in that second when they suddenly switch from smiling to expression-less.

4. k says am in awe of someone or the other all the time. Is that a good thing or not?

5. I always thought I would fall for someone who didn't obey all the rules.

6. I typically try to follow all the rules.

7. Home birthing is a whole new story.

8. Stay at home moms are rock stars

9. Temporary obsessions are fun -- like Harry Potter, Twilight, Shopaholic series...

10. I don't think I am meant to have a best girl-friend. k has been with me to more girly events than I can recall.

11. Oh my God! I just realized I don't have a best boy-friend either.

12. Overall, you are not very different from how I am.

13. Is there such a thing as online-ADD? Pick the laptop to do something online; do something else; also do yet another thing online; become totally distracted.

14. How many useless memories can you recall now? I can think of one -- I remember this girl (my senior at UK) had her hands on the bottom of the steering wheel while driving. She had grey woolen gloves on. I remember being fascinated that 1) She could drive 2) She could drive with her hands resting like that on the steering wheel. I wondered when I would ever own a car and drive on my own. I always wanted to be her friend.

15. I don't do maps.

16. Dhanush was super funny in Padikaadhavan.

17. Twilight plays in my car too -- Bella's lullaby rocks.

19. I admire women who are always well-dressed -- to work, to drop their kids to school, to walk in the park; how do they do it?

20. Anyone else out there that watched DDLJ 7 times and cried the first 3 times?

21. Many times, I find I am unconsciously spelling words with my right hand index finger -- weird.

22. Wonder how things would have turned out if my parents had stuck with my original name, Narmada?

23. Be frank, ok? If I write a collection of short stories, will it sell?

April 13, 2009


Today is one of those days that I feel stuck. Stuck in life. It's one of those days where nothing goes wrong in particular, no one says anything to set me off but I just don't feel right. I don't even know why.

Ever have one of those days? A day full of minor routines, maybe one or two pieces that won't fall in place -- a server that won't work, a plan that doesn't seem to be materializing, a dream that is half-way implemented -- and it feels like I just want to curl up and go back to bed and not go about any routine or talk to anyone.

So, I stopped debugging the server, stopped worrying about the incomplete dream, and just looked at the photos I took yesterday of r~.

That didn't fix my vague blue mood or fill me with a surge of adrenalin to get going but at least it reminded me that soon, I will be home playing with her and then everything will take a back-seat. It made me smile.

Thank God for that.

Oh! And Happy Tamil New Year's Day!

April 03, 2009

Work family balance -- hah!

As you can tell, am back to work part-time. They even have a PT community at work which is strange considering PT is not a very promising career path nowadays, they tell me. There is always one high-visibility meeting that you will miss irrespective of which half of the day you choose to work. Oh well. At least I have a something called a career (outside home, that is), for now (touch wood).

So, an interesting incident happened today when I was @ work from home. r~ was sleeping upstairs and I had this brilliant idea that I should attend the meeting using our home phone downstairs since the baby was upstairs. Which is all well and good except that the baby eats downstairs not in the bedroom. Now, how did I miss this piece of logic in my logical brain is beyond me. So, I logged into my telephone conference call while testing the client on my laptop and suddenly k's mom gets r~ down. r~ having just woken up is fussing. The poor thing has a bad viral infection and that doesn't add any joy either.

I am just a dummy in the meeting because I am just getting back to work after a loongish siesta for 6 months. Heh. So, I do what comes automatically to me. I fill a bowl quickly with whatever the baby has to eat and hand it to k's mom, chitchatting along the way. The brilliant idea here is that once that this little detail taken care of, k's mom will feed whatever r~ will accept (given her runny nose and cough) and I can meanwhile carry on with my meeting (almost) uninterrupted.

But, of course, we always forget the little things. I did not mute my phone. And s~ pings me and says, " might want to mute your phone :)"

Ah! The mute feature. How convenient. How also very not smart of me to not use it.

k tells me, you know you can always use the room upstairs. Hmm...yup, I could have done that but then the six people who were busy sitting at their desks and diligently testing the code wouldn't have been introduced to my sweet daughter's melodious calls.

I get back on the phone and say, "Aah...(nice pause)...sorry if you hear r~ in the background...heh."

One soul patiently responds, "No problem!"

Yup. No problem as long as the mute feature works. I realized I am one of those people on the call that provides comic relief with a funny sound in their background that they didn't realize was getting through the call and then they go, "Oh...just a minute. Down Peter, down boy, down." And the dog whimpers and stops barking into the conference call :p

And that is the beginning of my series titled "Work-life-balance -- a collection of faux pas"

April 01, 2009


So, I thought the hardest thing was going through labor and having a baby. Am pretty sure I even read that labor is one of the most difficult of human pains to endure. Turns out that's true but it's just the beginning of the really unpredictable journey of motherhood.

I often tell k that when people tell me it's all in my head, it makes me mad because most times, I am not imagining things. What I am feeling is real. As my nurse practitioner put it, "Well honey, isn't everything in the head? Even pain is an emotion that is controlled by your head!" True. Lately, I have heard a bunch of truisms :p if I can call it that.

Like my yoga instructor, Toni, said, "Now take a enjoy the choice you have made." That struck a chord with me. The other thing she said was, "Ok so, what's the worst thing that can happen if I do this pose?" And then she goes on, "So, I end up looking like an idiot. Which is fine. It's ok to do that sometimes." Yup. It is ok. Life does not give you a chance to be perfect at all times. So, if I looked like an idiot now and then, why not go with the flow and enjoy the chance to don a different character on? Enjoy the they say.

When people tell me they finally managed to..."achieve this", "do that", "complete this" -- action verbs that hide a lot of sweat and effort behind them -- my question to them is, "So, how do you feel?", "You must be happy now!" and the reason I do that is also to remind myself that where I am in life -- my achievements, my experiences -- are a result of conscious choice and lot of hard work and I have earned the right to be happy when I can be instead of planning for the next milestone to overcome. I have a feeling I often miss the larger picture in life and then look back wistfully at a past experience while having missed the opportunity to enjoy it at its fullest when it actually transpired. I guess I inherited my dad's gene in this case -- to plan ahead. I remember all my childhood, my dad told me, "P l a n n i n g", "Pros and cons"...and the other day he tells me, "RS, I think you are just planning way too ahead of everything...just take it as it comes" -- this from the planner himself.

Sometimes Mostly, life is unpredictable and while some looking into the future is essential, I think just being and enjoying the experience is equally important. Maybe I should keep notes in my diary, "Wish I could...", "Waiting to..." and then look at it in the future and make a conscious effort to thrill in the small (and big) achievements of life. As Monica in friends would say, "Check!" Toni says, "Enjoy the choice you have made."

Like now. Not when r~ turns thirty! Oh! That reminds me. I was at b~ & p~'s place and we played with r~ and soon it was time to leave. p~ tells me we hardly got a chance to catch up, we can do that when they drop by our place. I tell her to drop by after 8 in the night so we stand a good chance that r~ is asleep so we can talk easily. p~ hesitates and tells me, "Umm...I want to play with r~, so I don't think I'll come after 8!"

I forget the main attraction nowadays is the little one. Duh.

March 31, 2009


I was chatting with k on office chat and he says "blah blah...cook...unda..."

I wonder what "unda" could be. Then it strikes me -- "unda" = "anda" in Tamil (urn, big pot).


March 19, 2009

Food, growth spurts, and help -- not necessarily in that order

I am sleep-deprived. k is sleep-deprived. Li'l r~ is sleep deprived.

The good news?

Help is on its way! Yay! k's parents get here...anytime now which means while they cuddle, hold, play and smother li'l r~ with kisses, I shall fold my legs, make myself an enormous cup of coffee in the morning (which will begin after 9) and...just sit.

Today, I saw a desi couple walking on the road as k, r~ and I were watching from our mini-van and the first thought that crossed my mind was: Hey! We should be doing that now; the weather is so good. But, of course, the whole reason we were cruising along aimlessly in the van was that poor baby r is going through a pretty rough growth spurt.

Huh? Growth spurt? You ask me. As in baby milestones -- rolling over, sitting up, popping a tooth -- aww, how cute!

And I shall tell you a truth that has been hidden from you for so long. Growth spurts are fun. Especially when you think about them 14 years from now and share the event with your teenage daughter who yawns because she has heard that story so many times before. That's when it is fun. Now, it is just plain frustrating. Frustrating for baby who has to experience sore gums and loose motions and be out of sorts to pop out her first tooth, frustrating to mom because baby is suffering and frustrating for dad because mom and baby are frustrated. Every growth spurt is accompanied by fussing, sleepless nights and cruising in a van. That last bit was precisely what we were doing today evening.

r~ missed her evening nap, got herself overly tired and frustrated, forgot how to sleep in mom's hands, dad's hands, at home! And so we tried the time-tested car-seat sleep trick which every baby expert will tell you is the #1 golden rule of things to avoid while putting baby to sleep.


Tell my daughter that.

So, the nice strolling in nice weather with a nice baby stroller was kind of out of question given our current situation. Anyway, in the near future, when we are in between the dreaded growth spurts, I hope to do that. r~ really does love the outside from the little she has seen of it so far. I can't wait to take her for her first stroller ride. I keep hearing stories about strollers ranging from super-sexy mom figure because of daily strolls with baby to super happy baby that sleeps blissfully during stroller walks. Like everything else in babydom, I guess I will have to actually put r~ in the stroller and go for a walk to see if I end up with a great figure or if I have to come rushing back into the house because r~ got upset with a friendly neighbourhood dog that decided to welcome her with a hearty bark!

I really can write a book, several actually with titles like: "You are expecting but you really have no idea what to expect!", "Tips to get through the first six weeks after which you will get used to it", "Baby sleep solution -- there is none", "Remember me? The mom?", "Parenting styles -- the generation gap" :p

Oh! Almost forgot; I actually cooked. There is evidence for the same.

March 10, 2009

Nothing in particular

Love the curtain and the shadow dancing in the breeze today

Today has got to be the most amazing day since well, since the last amazing day there was. The weather is perfect. There is a nice breeze airing out the house. I am home. Lil' r~ is sleeping. k is working. Life is as it should be. Nice.

The day is nice enough to actually make my mind think thoughts in singles and they are gently floating instead of racing past as they usually do. I am reading this tome about the thyroid hormone and it suggests zen stuff like yoga, tai-chi, meditation and the like to calm the thyroid-stressed mind. Hmm...tai-chi -- now, there' s something I never thought I would be trying. Any of you know of good tai chi centers or have any preferences about these zen-style classes? Tell me, tell me. I am all ears and ready to de-stress. Apparently, stress is the cause of all diseases in this universe. Now they tell me, when I am thirty years old! So, I infer that some life-style changes are in order. Everything originates in this boggling, indecipherable, capricious mind of ours and so I believe I should give it a full spa-style treatment to see if I can get it to behave and hence all the aah-smell-the-flowers kind of talk.

By the way, are you many of you out there or just one that visits my blog but doesn't leave a comment? I am always thrilled by all(one?) of you. I think people are being nice to me most of the time. They say things like, "Oh! I read your blog all the time. I just haven't left a comment." I wonder why. I think it's because I write about nothing in particular most of the time. In any case, this little note is for all those people or you. Thanks for passing by and nodding a silent hi.

Coming back to my zen life, I can finally say I had this cool postnatal massage. It wasn't am-aaa-zing as some women would coo. It was good. My muscles got a work out and the delicate masseuse (who happens to be the same age as me) and I had a pretty interesting chat including all the hippie topics that am passionate about - vaccines, elimination communication, going back for good and related baby talk. k was like, "Jeez! I sent you there to relax, not chit chat some more!" Whatever. I would highly recommend the massage at baby moon, including the conversation!

Meanwhile, here is a silly ditty inspired by li'l r~

We rock, we walk, we talk
And yet you balk,
at the prospect of going to sleep;
For now, the secret to your sleep
is all yours to keep!

We try in vain,
for insights to gain
about babies and sleep;

you cry, you sigh,
you resist, you protest,
you play, but to sleep, you say, "Nay!";

And we rock, we walk, we talk...
Perhaps, one sweet day,
you will snore away
and dream sweet baby-dreams,
while maybe, just maybe,
mom sleeps like a baby!

March 02, 2009


So, a little bird told me that my writing here is being copied elsewhere. My my! How flattering! I am sooo touched, I tell you.

Here is the copied version:

And here is my original post: Karadayan Nombu

Of course, if the plagiarist (is that a word?) is smart enough, (s)he? would have removed the post by now.

Oh! Wait a's one more of my posts:

Here's another:

And another:

This one boils my blood a lil' bit because it is one of my short stories:

This is one of the reasons I have removed most of my short stories from my other blog...

Anyhoo, just thought it was (so not) amusing!

Wonder how you report a word press blog...thoughts?

February 22, 2009

People, people, people

I had this sudden fear that my ever-dwindling social circle is going to become non-existent unless I do something proactive about it. So, met a bunch of new people this weekend. New topics of conversation are always fun! Plus as k puts it, am constantly "in awe" of newness in general. A few years back, I met this lady who was working with nano-technology and I found her work fascinating, especially the bits that she said were sort of confidential! Some months back, I had this long conversation with a doctor friend of mine and death. I just listened and wondered about how amazing her job is - life, is in her hands! Yesterday, I had a blast with another doctor friend of mine and she is usually so mean to me (all intentional, of course) and so goofy, I become goofy too! And after ages, I talked a lot of nonsense with her, while the men in the room shook their heads as if to say, "We give up", and cracked up!

I guess, I like being in awe of people. The fact that I am in awe makes them that much more interesting. Like all things amazing, the intensity of how interesting I find people goes down as I get to know them more. That, I think is just human nature. Doing the same grind gets to you no matter how interested you are in it at first. My brother and I used to wonder how great it would be if we had to just read comic books at school and then we thought some more and concluded that, that would become a chore too. The fun is only that the contact is not continuous and pre-determined, it's on the spur of the moment, exciting and unpredictable. Sort of like relationships we form with new people.

And for that, I am thankful to my daughter who is as new as anyone can be and who has taught me that there is more to life than to-do-lists, plans and materials. Every day is new, unpredictable and fulfiling with her. I keep wondering what I ever did with all the free time I had before her. But that part of my life is a blur now...

I am sure there is something to be said about everything old too. Like an old married couple or an old house with a thinnai or old friends. But, this post is not about them. This is a celebration of newness and the hope that turning 30 continues to bring new and enriching experiences along the way.

In fact, I wanted turning 30 to be so new that I asked k not to arrange a party for me. And then I thought hmm...turning 30 is something so eventful, I should spend it in the company of friends, plus little r~ would have a blast with n number of humans in one place (she loves people) and it so happened none of them could make it (save one), "remnants" of too many social gatherings, as one of my friends put it, prevented them from dropping by. Oh well, that is something new too. Not wanting any sort of party, getting a surprise birthday party 2 days before my birthday (which was fun, what does a date matter anyway? 21st, 23rd...potAtoes...poTAHtoes, right? no?), wanting to meet people all of a sudden, finally, spending some nice quiet(hah!) time with k, lil' r~, sole friend and, I tell you, is quite new and unpredictable for me.

I am back to dancing now, which gives me a chance to meet a wonderful class full of "young" girls and giggle with them. Almost makes me feel like I am a teenager. One can always imagine...

My dear lil' r, I tell you, your mom is crazy!

February 16, 2009

Valentines Day

After many years, for a change, there was no pressure on me for Valentines day. I did not have to show to the world that I did something cool on Valentines day. You know what I mean? Sitting at home on V-day = the romance dwindling already kind of thing. So k and I always used to book a nice booth in a restaurant, wait faithfully for the 45 minutes or 3 hours time it took to push our way inside and then we would watch a chick-flick (Yes, those are the only kinds I enjoy), eat ice-cream and call it a day, satisfied that the fire of romance was still very much ablaze in our lives.

A couple of years back, I remember sitting huddled at a small table with k at an Indian restaurant. Now, "huddled" would probably have you painting images of a cozy restaurant booth, dim lighting, sweet whispers that floated about in the air as we stared into each others eyes...hah! It was more like a rickety wooden table in the middle of the restaurant with two equally aging chairs, waiters and customers shouting above the din in the restaurant and me trying to sit as comfortably as I could without jutting my elbow into the guy sitting about three quarters of an inch away from me! Yup, we did meaningfully stare into each other's eyes, k and I, "Made it! One more year. A meaningful V-day! Do we really have to do this next year?"

And then little r~ arrived and now we got to spend blissful little moments with her staying home on V-day! No guilt. We were however too lazy to cook and ordered to-go from a restaurant nearby and ended up waiting 45 minutes for our order.

Oh and k was so excited about the card that he got me, he forgot to fill it up. He came racing into the house waving the last-minute-bought colorful little card saying, "Happy Valentines Day!" and I gleefully opened the card, read it and then thought it was missing some things, like "Dear RS, Love k..." you know? The basics!

I start work in a month's time which means I can finally be a part of the super cool moms who can say things like, "Oh! I juggle baby and career...yes, I's tough, I manage somehow." Woohoo!

Also, let's not forget, I turn ...shh...silence.... THIRTY in a few days! And so, I plan to get drunk and pass out on my birthday. Just like Monica. Whee! What fun!

Oh wait.

I don't drink. Oh well. I guess I will just turn thirty quietly mulling about my many achievements and glories.

Wait a minute.

There aren't that many. In fact I can't think of any except little r~.



Yup, thought of one more.

This blog!

Love you blog and love you readers.

RS exits waving happy kisses at one and all, peacefully ready to step into the big three-O.

February 06, 2009

2007 Dec - 2009 Feb

I haven't written anything substantial here or on pen and paper for a long time. I shamelessly blame it on the baby :)

For now, I want to write because I feel homesick and hopefully writing would help alleviate some of it. k's sis, p~ left today to India for good and that makes me homesick for 2 reasons - that she left and that she left to India for good, something that I have started thinking about the past few months.

I remember when p~ came to the US in Dec of 2007. She was so homesick, she cried most of the time she spent with us. k and I spent a week or so in Kansas and while we had a blast, she was not her usual enthusiastic self. I remember an incident at Buca-di-beppo at Kansas city. The waiter there entertained us with some jokes. I laughed and turned to look at p~, who was on the phone with people back home, crying! That image stuck in my mind.

And now, p~ has made so many friends at KU that she cried once again, this time because she was leaving her new friends in the US behind. And much to k's amusement, they are all Tam friends! She has seen more recent Tam movies than I have!

Seeing her leave made me realize that 2 years flew by in a jiffy. She is a different person for her experience; And me? I am not sure if I have changed much. I am still in Lex doing pretty much the same things I did back then. But for my chakarakatti and 15 extra pounds, I am pretty much the same. I felt bad that she had to leave her friends behind and go back to India but I also envied her that. That she had managed to make so many friends in so short a time - she has this air about her that makes you want to confide everything to her, and then wait for her response. Unselfish and un-selfcentered - not many people I know are like that.

I wonder if I would be able to leave everything behind and start a new life in India. What would I miss most about Lex? Hard to say now. k says we are some how bound to UK. I met him at the university, we settled down near it and by a strange twist of events, I even had my baby at UK, something that was not planned at all. Maybe he is right, maybe this is our destiny and we will remain bound to this place for life.

Who knows what the future can bring...
© Ramya Sethuraman, All Rights Reserved.