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."
© Ramya Sethuraman, All Rights Reserved.