Journeys

We have been coming to *Cabo since 2006, roughly every couple/3 years. This is one place that, as my husband astutely observed, slows time down. Personally, Cabo is a sort of windshield wiper for me. It seems as if every time my vision had been clouded, coming to Cabo seems to have sorted it out. Cleared the cobwebs, so to speak. Gave me perspective. Even if it was temporary.
The first time we came here in ’06, I had been going through a change of sorts with my health, and a restlessness had crept into my soul. When we went back home, I started writing more seriously, with a couple of dear friends, on a private blog, and discovered the joy of writing.
We came again in 2010, and a few months later, I retired from professional life, (at least I thought I did, but it lasted about 3 years), and spent the senior year of my son’s high school at home, practicing SAT words with him, and delivering hot lunches. And opened up my blog to the public.
It’s 2017, and we are back. This time, I wasn’t necessarily looking for any inspiration, but was looking forward to getting away and relax. But Cabo never disappoints. For the first time, we got an ocean front, first floor apartment, which we always ask for but never get. This time, we asked almost as a routine, not really expecting to get it, but guess what! We got a first floor, walk-out-into-the-ocean apartment, and discovered that we could watch the sun rise as well as set.
But we also got a bonus gift that we didn’t even know existed—we got to watch baby turtles (hatchlings being the correct term) being released into the ocean, right in front of the apartment we were assigned to. And I learned all about turtle hatching, imprinting, nesting, and, incidentally, finding your way home.
This is how it happens: mommy turtle finds a good spot on the beach (mating happens in the ocean) to lay her eggs, does her job, and buries them in a nest in the sands. She covers the nest with sand and vegetation for good measure to camouflage it. Then she leaves them, completely untended, and sets off for the ocean without a backwards glance.
These eggs, if they survive the predators and natural disasters—birds, dogs, ghost crabs, humans (by trampling on them accidentally, or stealing prized turtle eggs), weather, hatch. It seems every resort has started an outfit to commercialize this natural phenomenon by offering “Baby Turtle Release” as a tourist attraction, but we got it watch it as it unfolded in the place we were staying. Around 9 pm one night, I watched two guys with flash lights digging in the nests. I am not sure how they know where the eggs are, and none of the words in my 10-word Spanish vocabulary of greetings, inquiring about another’s wellbeing, saying thanks and counting to ten were of much help in getting the details.
At dawn, I hurried out to see if they were still there, and was delighted to find them with a pail into which they were collecting the brand spanking new hatchlings. I ran down to where they were, phone in hand. I asked them if they had stayed there the whole night, and they responded “Si”. I don’t know for sure, but I think they understood my question. They had about 20-30 of tiny wiggling hatchlings in the pail, and with gloved hands, released them on a downward slope, in the direction of the big old body of water. They use gloves because these turtles, when they are ready to make their nests of eggs, will use what’s known as imprinting to find this exact beach to do it. The temperature of the sand, the nest, the winds, and many other factors help them retain this imprint, and touching them with your bare hands interferes with this beautiful mechanism.
As the guy poured the hatchlings like he was spreading fertilizer on the sand in a row, they all started wiggling their way towards “home”. There was one that was facing away from the ocean and miraculously turned towards the ocean before moving. The white crest of the waves is their guiding light, and for this reason, most ocean sides these days have a light ordinance, as the artificial light, especially if white, could disorient them.
It was at once the most moving, and the most painful sight I have ever witnessed—the hatchlings seemed stunned at first, and then slowly started moving, their tiny flippers going strong. Most moved towards the ocean, but some moved sideways, or not at all. Some turned over on their backs, waving their flippers ineffectually, and one of the guys would flip them on to their belly if they seemed really stuck.
There was one that seemed to have not bought into this whole deal at all, and simply wouldn’t move. I panicked, thinking maybe it had died, or worse, couldn’t move. The guy picked it up, moved it a few feet down, giving it a head start. The word privilege crossed my mind briefly, which I regretted immediately.
My heart was in my mouth as the waves came closer and swept them into the ocean. Their journey had begun.
It’s been seven years since I thought I retired. I went back to work, but now am on the cusp of another life change, at a crossroads again. As my journey continues, I have more questions than answers anymore. I don’t know if this journey is charted into a pre-determined path, or if it’s all completely random, driven by the winds of change, guided by unseen hands and distant horizons, and vague plans for the future. Where will the next 7 years, 7 months, 7 days, 7 hours, or 7 minutes take me? Wherever it is, the journey is mine, and mine alone. I think that is Cabo’s answer to me this time, obvious though it may be.
Watch my videos of these babies being released into the ocean at the links below.
* From Wikipedia:
“Cabo San Lucas. Cabo San Lucas (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈkaβo san ˈlukas], Cape Saint Luke), commonly called Cabo in American English, is a city at the southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula, in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur. Cabo San Lucas together with San José del Cabo is known as Los Cabos.”
Advertisements

Where Everybody Knows Your Name…

A link to this post on Huffpost:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/5a0b9880e4b060fb7e59d48f

Growing up in the early 70s and 80s, every household in Madras and Pondicherry (and I suspect, everywhere in India) was surrounded by a small village. Or at least that’s what it felt like.

Our grandparents’ house in Purasaiwalkam where I spent my early years in a joint family, and pretty much every summer vacation after we moved to Pondicherry, was a teeming hub of life, and part of a complete ecosystem that sustained itself.

We lived in an upstairs portion overlooking the super busy Tana Street, across the big church which was always a happening place. It had a huge bell that rang every hour (I think). Purasaiwalkam and the neighboring Vepery, being home to many Anglo Indians, there were always weddings happening there, with the brides dressed in actual “western” style gowns, sporting short bobs.

Downstairs was Dinesh Bakery – run by a Keralite guy. Even though we didn’t traditionally eat bread in our typical Tambrahm family (bread was, typically, a “fever” food), there were exceptions when a cousin from Delhi visited, and his mom, my aunt, would buy fresh bread and load it up with butter bought from a family a few houses down the street. I haven’t had bread like that, or the wholesome, thick, creamy, golden yellow butter, although Kerry Gold comes close, since my childhood. The mornings always smelled of freshly baked bread, in odd symphony with the aroma of dal, and the ghee-laden tempering of hot rasam, and incense and camphor from the puja room.

A couple of streets down, there was “Kanniyappan Provision Store”, the family grocer. Every time we visited Madras, a trip to Kanniappan store was a must. Ah, the things that made us happy! The store had the peculiar smell of gunny sacks, spices, sugar candy, “kadalai urundai” (peanut brittle), and all kinds of mysterious things. The lighting was part natural and muted. When “Aradhana”, the Hindi movie (that’s what we called them before there was Bollywood, and before “Boycott Hindi” was a big thing down south) was released and was a big hit, the story goes that Kanniappan actually named his newborn granddaughter Sharmila Tagore – last name and all.

Then there was the incense seller who visited the house, bringing his wares, and the whole family sat and chatted with him. The downstairs also housed a textile store, Maraikair Bros, and I would spend hours at his store, dreaming up dresses made of the beautiful fabrics. Mr. Maraikair (not sure what his first name was, he was always Marakair mama to us) had a handkerchief tied around his head. I am amazed at how well his face and his voice are permanently etched in my memory, even as I struggle to remember names of my coworkers from a few years ago.

In Pondicherry, I remember the lady who came around selling yogurt every morning (“thayirkaari”). And the “kudukudupandi”, the fortune teller, shaking his mini drum, and chanting “nalla kalam porakkudhu” (good times are here), in that peculiar sing song tone.

This guy was the father of the chain mail. If we gave him money, we would be blessed with a wedding in the family, good times, big lottery wins, and the next baby born will be a boy (we are a family of five girls). Heaven help us if we didn’t – our family would be cursed with very bad luck for a very long time. We were terrified of this guy.

There was also the “keerai kaari”, the lady who sold all kinds of greens. And the various vendors throughout the day who would make the trip to sell their wares – fruits, pots and pans, sarees, anything at all!

If that was all the vendors, there were entertainers on the street as well – the famous “puli aatam” in which guys painted themselves like a tiger and danced on the streets, and the guy who staged a snake-mongoose fight with an actual mongoose and a snake, and the “poikal kuthirai” in which people stood in life-size horse models tied around their waist and danced. It was all fascinating for a little kid.

There was also the beach, with its “thengai manga pattani sundal” (boiled peas seasoned with tart mango pieces, coconuts and lime juice, absolute to die for snack). I don’t remember the old lady of Marina beach at this age. She seems to have become a fixture in the late 80s, the fortune teller who tells every girl with a guy that she should have been born a boy in a scary, foreboding tone, and extracts a hefty sum. What girl wouldn’t fall for this line when she’s with her date? I didn’t realize she said the same line to every girl until much, much later, in my 30s, when I met a girl from Madras who said she was told the exact same thing by an old fortune teller at the Marina beach!

I miss those days when we go back to visit – these days, everything is delivered with a phone call. While the convenience cannot be beaten, I am nostalgic for the charm the old way of life held, a pace that was relaxed, and immersed us in each experience. How many of us know the grocer’s granddaughter’s name anymore?

hqdefault

Puli Aatam (Tiger Dance)

poikal kuthirai

Poikal Kudhirai (Horse with Fake Legs)

 

 

Let’s Take Sides: An Immigrant American’s Perspective

We came to this land with two suitcases each, a head full of dreams, with memories of another life, and blank pages of a life to be written. We didn’t have any specific reason to leave other than to have an adventure in our (still) youngish lives, travel some, and make some money. Benign, almost touristy, shallow reasons.

But once we had lived here for a few years, slowly, slowly, the reasons unveiled themselves in layers, and became apparent.

Firstly, the creature comforts. The conveniences. The things that were a given here, some of which were a daily struggle back where we came from – such as fine roads, free public libraries, the medical system – yes, even as broken as it is here, it’s still a hundred times better than where we come from.

As I traveled with a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old back to my homeland for the first time, I fretted about being able to find milk for my babies in the middle of the night!

The kids started going to school. I watched Sesame Street and Barney with them, and immersed myself in the American culture. A cookie is a biscuit. What is Maths back home is Math here. The kids were in grades, not “standard” – as in 1st grade vs. 1st standard. Mr. Rogers was an angelic, friendly, inclusive “neighbor” who asked me every day if I would be his lovely neighbor. What was not to love! I read Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House On The Prairie series with my daughter, and absolutely loved it. It gave me a sense of the early settlers and their lives that no history book could have.

Of course, it wasn’t all roses. There were a few thorns – the moms in my daughter’s ballet class who didn’t want my daughter playing with their girls. One mom in particular comes to mind – she didn’t want my daughter hanging out with hers, apparently, because we lived in an apartment. I came to know of this through a mutual friend, who happened to be American, married to a Brit, and who loved our family and my food. Another mom commented, “It smells funny, like curry,” when I walked in to the moms’ waiting area in gymnastics class. It wasn’t me, because I smelled it too, and I made sure my clothes never smelled of cooking – it was another lady. But it was clearly directed at me simply because I looked the part.

I also found great friendships in a Math Bowl club at my daughter’s elementary school that one of the moms and I started, coached, and got 2nd place for the school. There were white kids, Asian kids, and black kids who were all my children’s friends. My kids played tennis. They played after school in the neighborhood. My son joined T-ball, and later, baseball.

I learned baseball with him, and found that it was not one bit like cricket, despite the popular misconception. I had been hearing the phrase for years, but finally understood what “heads up” meant, and its origin. I tried explaining the differences between baseball and cricket to my American coworkers, after I got the hang of it. My coworkers (not ‘colleagues,’ as one of them snickered in a friendly manner) were incredulous, and the discussions didn’t lead anywhere near an agreement or understanding of cricket, but were seriously hilarious, awesome bridge-building sessions, complete with white boarding.

“You score hundreds of runs? That’s crazy!” (“Yes.  You are out after 3 strikes? What fun is that?”).

“You play for 5 days? Who works?” (“Not anymore, sadly – it’s all one day matches. And we manage work/school and 5 days of cricket very well, thank you.”)

The teachers at the elementary school my children went to treated me with respect.  And a little bit of friendly and appropriate cultural curiosity led to several “Show and Tell” presentations for the 3rd graders. My daughter recently discovered an “Honorary Member” certificate of Mrs. Eden’s 3rd grade class, awarded to me, one of my treasured possessions from my children’s elementary school years. One of the teachers, Mrs. Brown, loved the chutney sandwiches I packed for my kids and some days, I would pack extra sandwiches for her. I like to think the curiosity at the lunch table didn’t embarrass my kids, though they always said no to rice because it was a bit tedious to eat. Fair enough; they wanted to talk more, and spend less time on eating.

My children enjoyed school, and flourished. This was the definitive signal that we had made the right decision by staying and becoming residents of this wonderful experiment called America.

There were more positive affirmations along the way. There was the coffee shop guy at the Chicago airport. We were in line, and right behind us, a white guy came along – he looked like a business traveler. The coffee shop guy tried to serve him ahead of us. The white guy gently, but firmly told him, “I think these guys were here before me.” In that instant, with that small act of fairness, in the fairly inconsequential life event of getting coffee at an airport, he became a hero to me. (Ironically, the coffee shop guy wasn’t white – I couldn’t place his region of origin, but he was definitely not white.)

And then 9/11 happened. For the first time, we felt people staring at us, as if unsure of what to think of us. Someone threw a bag of feces at our garage door. We felt shook up, and scared, in addition to the unbelievable sense of shock and sadness that 9/11 could and did happen here. My daughter mentioned the incident at school. And the next day, a Volvo came and parked in our driveway, and out walked Mrs. Patrick, with a plate of cookies. She was the mother of a classmate of my daughter’s. She said this to me: “Lata, I wanted people in this street to see that a white person is parked in your driveway, and has come to share some chocolate chip cookies with your family.” Or something to that effect. I was overwhelmed. The sheriff who lived down our street patrolled the streets to make sure whoever did it got the message that it wasn’t right, and that law enforcement was onto them. Protecting anyone who has been a victim to a crime, even if they’re immigrants, even if the perpetrator is an American.

It is this sense of fairness, of doing the right thing, of being there for the underdog that I loved love about this country, and the people of this country.

We chose to become citizens of this wonderful country and proudly vote in every election. Because we care about this country. The country of immigrants. Of opportunity.

And along the way, as I learned more of the history of this country, I happened to watch “Mississippi Burning” one weekend on cable. I had been through a number of Black History months, and several MLK days and kind of thought I understood racism and segregation as it had happened here. But this movie made it real. Maybe the visual impact? The water fountains marked “colored” and “white” sent a shiver down my spine. The unease lasted for a few days. It was like discovering someone you love and idealize has an ugly side that you never imagined in a million years they were capable of having. It rocks your core and shakes your foundation and makes you question everything. I made sure my children watched the movie with me.

I got over the shock eventually, but understood the pain of racism, the hardcore hatred, and the black perspective to some extent. I breathed a sigh of relief that this was in the past, and said a small prayer of gratitude that my beloved America is not like that anymore.

Ha! But of late, the other shadowy face of this country is making itself known more and more. The joy we felt at the inauguration of the first black president dulled a bit with the sorrow that was Trayvon Martin–the plain, puerile, vitriolic hatred based on skin color. Race. Religion. I have seen it making not just the first-generation immigrants like us, but ones who have been in this country for several generations, uncomfortable, sad, and outraged. I saw shades of “Mississippi Burning” during the election campaign in 2016 and realized that those feelings had not disappeared post segregation. They had simply gone underground and were breaking through again in a climate that promised nourishment and revival.

But, I still believe in this country, and believe that the America we have come to love, cherish, be a part of, and fight for is not lost, and will emerge successfully out of this brief eclipse.

But for that to happen, there needs to be moral outrage on the part of everyone. This is not the time to be uninvolved or stay neutral.

In the words of Eli Weisel, “We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.”

Let’s take sides. It’s really that simple.

IMG_0518

Read this on Huffington Post

 

 

Strings That Tug At Your Heart

Once upon a time, there was a little boy who was the most active, mischievous, and funny little boy in all the world. He loved to play, have fun, and laugh all the time.

The little boy’s mom was crazy about music. She hoped her kids, a little girl, and the boy, would grow to love music just as she did, growing up with music as she herself had. “Vividha Bharathi” in the mornings for Hindi and Tamil songs from movies, Ceylon Radio while doing homework, and haunting Carnatic instrumental at night that her parents/grandparents liked to play right before bedtime. She imbibed most of the classical songs she knows not from lessons, but through listening without even knowing she was listening. Music was, is, the constant in her life through the good times, and the bad, especially the bad. Music gave voice to her emotions when she couldn’t.

Therefore, she had this (annoying to the kids) habit of always playing music – Indian film, Indian classical, western popular, jazz, … – in the car, at home, and everywhere.

The boy, who didn’t look like he was paying any attention to the different kinds of music, would surprise her every once in a while by singing a Tamil movie song, pitch perfect. He was not yet 5. The girl, who was learning to play the piano, composed a little endearing piece that she named “Contrary Motions” on the piano when she was 7 years old. Mom was thrilled to bits.

When the boy was 5, mom decided he was ready to start music lessons and chose violin.  And thus started 5 years of fighting before every class. The boy would come home from school, having finished what little homework he had at school, drop the backpack, have a snack and run out to play with his neighborhood friends until it was dark. Mom dragged him to his violin lessons once a week, kicking and screaming, away from his playmates. But once he got there, he was okay. His teacher could tell he was good, but didn’t really enjoy the lessons especially in the warmer months when he longed to be outside, and the winter months when he loved to play in the snow.

His first violin recital was plucking just 3 notes, (G-D-G) with a little foot stomping after the 3rd note. He looked adorable in his white shirt, hair all combed back, and a pint sized violin – the smallest there was. His little heart was stressed before the performance, but ace it he did, especially with the foot stomping after the 3rd note, bringing the house down. Afterwards, he came running to mom, and fell asleep on her shoulder immediately, not even touching the cookies his teacher had made.

His violin lessons continued until he was ten, when he entered middle school and he could choose an instrument of his choice, offered through the school band. He chose the trumpet, mostly as an act of rebellion, but excelled at it too.  He was first chair in the high school band, and was a member of the city’s youth symphony orchestra. Mom was just happy he was still playing music.

Dad especially loved it when, some nights, he sat at the top of the stairs, after lights out, and played soulful music on his trumpet.

Over the years, even though the music lessons stopped, mom and son continued to bond over music– the Beatles, the theme music from the West Wing, Godfather, to name a few. They once sang to an entire album of The Beatles on a late night drive home from Indy to Muncie.

Fast forward 13 years. The boy is now working, after his undergrad, and living away from home. One day, he calls mom and dad and says he has a surprise for them. Mom holds her breath. The surprise was this: he was starting music lessons again. And the instrument was…not violin, as mom had guessed but close. He chose mandolin.

He loves it. And facetimes mom and dad so they can hear him practice. The first piece he’s learning is the Wedding Tarantella. Mom requests he also learn “Speak softly” from The Godfather – both their favorite. And some Beatles songs. Michelle. He looks up sheet music online and tries them out while on the phone, and promises he would call for more practice sessions on facetime.

This mom is thrilled and is looking forward to, as the boy puts it, “wow mom we can now bond over the Beatles in a different way”.

 

On Fear Of Fears

Conquering your demons. Fears. Phobia. Whatever you call it, I am talking about that thing that nags you at 4 am in the morning. It could be something small  (why can’t I make a decent biryani), or it can be climbing Mt Everest. I have them, and assume (read: hope) you do. In all sizes, shapes, and forms.

And as I get older – if only I get a nickel for every time I say that! – I have been making an effort to knock these out one at a time. See how many of these I can get rid of in this lifetime.

When I was not quite ten, I used to be afraid of the dark. My mom’s best friends lived in the house across the street and after dinner most nights, she would go to their house and chat with them while my dad was at work (he used to work in shifts). Sometimes I would need to come back home to get something. This meant crossing the small residential street to go across to our house (which was the top portion of the house that we rented from folks who owned the house), climb the stairs, and walk across an open terrace to reach our portion. The second floor (or the first floor as they call in India, and the first floor is called the ground floor) contained just the bedrooms of the owners, so there would normally be nobody at that time, and therefore no lights. The terrace would be usually lit by the light of the moon. I used to be terrified to go alone but over time, I reasoned to myself that there really was nothing to be afraid of, of course ghosts weren’t real, and would make the trip and back to mom.

One of my cousins also told me recently that she thought I was very cool because I used to wade in the farthest when we went to the Marina beach in Madras.

I was jolted into being aware of my many fears when a friend casually, and not at all in a mean way, commented that I had a lot of fears when I froze in fear at her 5 lb dog. Fear of the dark, fear of water, fear of heights, dogs, rollercoasters (yep, I’m not so much fun, but I’m great for watching your stuff while you have fun), and for a very brief, but scary time, fear of highways that I talked myself out of—fears that somehow crept up in my adult life, fears that didn’t exist in my childhood, or my adolescent days.

I have finally completely gotten rid of the fear of dogs (at least the domesticated, pet kind) when my daughter brought this little guy into our lives. Now I have gone to the other extreme, and scare away friends with photos of Kashew, and have become that person who seeks out dog owners to pet their dogs on walks, and is constantly sharing dog videos to my family.

12247989_10201149656499982_6236265671876902859_o

I also learned to finally completely ride a bicycle a couple of years back, with my son’s help – read all about it here. What can we call this fear—fear of balancing? (“what do you mean, completely ride a bicycle?” Well, before that, I never was actually sure I rode it myself – someone may have been holding on and I sometimes wonder if I did really ride at all.)

So last weekend, when lunch plans came up, an opportunity presented itself to face one of those fears head on. This is not so much a fear, but a social awkwardness. Raj had some appointment, and I didn’t feel like cooking or eating left overs. And I was really really in the mood for a pancake. So, I told Raj I would pick up a pancake from a local pancake place.

Raj: Pick it up and eat in the car? Why don’t you eat it there?

Me: Eat it there? By myself? All alone? In a public place?

Raj: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

Well, I don’t like eating by myself if I can help it. Eating is a social thing for me. I can do breakfast by myself, at home, but that’s about it. When Raj travels, I try not to cook and make do with something I eat over the sink for the same reason. I grew up in a family where at each meal there was a guaranteed minimum six people. For 26 years. And I never really got used to eating alone.

As for lunches, I can do a smoothie on the run by myself if I’m running errands. But for lunches I need at least one more person, unless I’m working through lunch and eating at my desk which is not very often.

But to eat by myself in public? Doesn’t that mean I’m friendless and uncool? But the said opportunity got in my face, looked at me square in the eye and dared me.

So I went, armed with my phone and my ipad as a backup in case the phone died. As luck would have it, at the restaurant they said it would be a 40 minute wait and I almost sighed in relief. See, I’d tell Raj, it wasn’t my fault, I was ready to do it, but it was a 40-minute wait and I was too hungry.

But then, they said wait! There is a community table (I shuddered). If we can find you a place, you’re in.

At first it seemed like the worst idea. But on second thought, this was actually a great “dip a toe in” kind of situation. I would sit with total strangers, and if anyone looked funny at me, I would pretend I had come with one of them.

The community table was a high table that had 8 seats and six were occupied. One vacant seat across another lady, and one with a set of 3 frat-looking boys. I chose the one across from a lady who looked like she had come alone, and hoped she wouldn’t leave while I was still eating (which she did).

After I placed the order (one humongous multigrain pancake, and a kale tonic), I got busy with my phone. A few minutes in, I looked up to see what all the people who had come with friends/family were doing. Cool, everyone was on their phone. Hey! This ain’t so bad, after all. I didn’t feel out of place at all.

When the food came, I actually put the phone down, and ate, people watching. And found that it wasn’t as awkward or uncomfortable as I had imagined—even after my imaginary friend across left while I was still eating. Nobody looked at me funny, or with pity.

That’s one more down. With about 97 to go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Birthday Letter To My Daughter

Hi baby,

There was a time, long long ago,  when I was your world and you were mine.

When you would sleep in the crook of my arm, my warmth like a protective blanket around your tiny body.

When you were obsessed with Barney the dinosaur, and we lived it – I was Lucy and you were Tina, and we played the big sis-little sis characters all day long.

When you were fascinated by the book “Are You My Mother” by Dr Seuss, the first book I ever read to you. At nine months. You didn’t understand it then, of course, but would sit still in my lap for hours, making me read it over and over again. It became your favorite book.

When you came home from Montessori, crying “amma, Mica called me a watermelon”. And we learned Sandia meant watermelon in Spanish.

When you asked me “Who’s coming home, amma?” seeing my frenzied cleaning of the house. In my defense, I was pregnant with Ad, and living with a wise cracking 18 month old who spoke in complete sentences since she was a year old.

When you were fascinated with numbers, and I was partly shocked/partly amazed that someone who had come out of me had (and still has) a favorite number. 8!

(On that note, this year, your and my age are inverse of each other – ha!)

When I knew of and could control every outside influence in your life, and keep you safe and warm.

Do I wish for those days back? Some days, yes.

But if I am honest with myself, I think I am done missing your childhood. Because, as an adult, you’re even more fun!

Top Reasons Why I Love Having A Grownup Daughter

I love that you and I can grab a drink now and then, and just be cool! Go to a bar if we want to, although I’m no fun after 10.

We can have mature, adult conversations where I come to you now with all my problems, and you analyze it like the psych student that you are, and tell me to get my act together.

I love that we laugh about people and things – Appa, also other things and people, and ourselves. But mostly appa.

I love that you let me borrow your clothes, sometimes! Some people will no doubt think this is atrocious. Who cares!

I have always enjoyed shopping for you, but now I love shopping with you. (Remember the purple French beret that you refused to wear? I still have it, saved for your child, whether it’s a boy or a girl)

It’s so much fun to dissect the dynamics/interactions after a party, and find that we mostly saw the same things!

I love that you’re venturing out of your basic food groups of more kozhambu, fried potato, and Taco Bell 🙂 Onward and upward to the likes of coconut rice, and korma! Maybe one day you will like pulav?

I love the dedication and the caring that you show for your chosen path in life. And I love that you know that it is what you want. I still don’t know what I want to do with my life! Kudos to you, kiddo!

I love that you are such a good mommy to Kashew. You’ll make an amazing mom to a two-legged, human baby when you have one!

But mostly, I love that you have come back to me – for a while there in your late teens, it felt like you were far away!

You are an amazing human being, and I wish for you to achieve everything that you deserve – and do it with grace, kindness and humor, with good health, and the love of friends and family.

Happy Happy Birthday, Kannamma!

Lots of love,

Amma

 

 

Stupid Stuff I Have Done

Read this In Huffington Post

Young, naïve, and stupid:

Getting my head stuck between two bars, at a friend’s friend’s place, where I had wandered off by myself to their terrace, and looking down to see what they were all up to. I must have been 8. I did eventually wiggle my head out of the bars…yep, no cell phones back then and I didn’t even know the person whose house I was in. Ah! To be young and not afraid of embarrassment.

Throwing coins at a hungry dog who was chasing me, for the bread in my other hand, and running…

Leading a group of girls in performing Ganesh puja after school, at school, and getting caught. I will never forget the disappointed look on the principal’s face. I was in 6th grade, I think. Not a clue why I did this (maybe rebellion?) – it wasn’t out of love for Ganesha, or pujas, heck I was barely 12 years old…but I have to laugh that my illegal activity was leading a few girls in a spiritual activity. Not smoking, or other such normal stuff.

Doing homework for a mean girl at school because she said she wouldn’t talk to me otherwise…(elementary school!!) Although, this habit of doing anything for a perceived friendship continues in a milder intensity even now, but I’m getting somewhat better at recognizing it and applying the brakes…

(Thank you to the friends who encourage me to not give a damn with those kinds of friends. You know who you are!)

Not applying to a really good school for the +2 years of my schooling (11 & 12th grades) which my grandfather had asked me to, because the school’s uniform was a mustard color sari.

(Irony: ended up in a school, whose uniform was green skirt, mustard blouse and green half saree. Don’t even ask about the sports uniform! Hideous. I could not buy anything green for a very long time… also, grandfather yelled at me for a good one hour)

I should know better. Right? In my twenties, thirties and beyond…

Calling a taxi to go to the airport in New Delhi, at 4 am, and going alone because I didn’t want to wake up/ ask any of my 5 male coworkers that early. Got a good “what kind of an idiot are you” lecture from said coworkers. This is probably one of the most dangerous stupid things I’ve done in my life, considering the reputation of Delhi as the rape capital of India.

Driving in blinding rain with my driver’s side window down, because dammit, I couldn’t see a thing! Engine got flooded, family laughed for years.

(I like to think Raj looked at this as endearing, and I-love-Lucy-esque. Like the episode where she’s sewing something on a carpet, and sews it on to the carpet.)

Dropping my brand new ipod in the tub. It was attached to the headphones, which were attached to my head. And I moved…

Ordering to a trash can at a Taco Bell drive through while my daughter sat there dying in the passenger seat, laughing.

Forgetting to order in the drive through line at Starbucks, and going all the way to the payment window, while my daughter is cringing in the passenger seat and begging me to just skip it.

Was so busy yelling at my daughter for something, while getting out of a parking garage, and hitting the yellow parking cones. The expression on her face and the laughter that followed was priceless!

Watering a silk orchid. For weeks. Until my son watched me once, and asked “ma, you know that’s a fake, right?” SMH.

Those are all the memorable ones. I’m sure there are countless others I’ve blocked out. My daughter is reminding about the stupid conversation on Pinocchio that my husband and I had recently. Not a clue what she’s talking about.

Oh and I almost forgot.

Writing it all down for the whole world to read… and hopefully get a good laugh. I did.

 

 

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-10-20-54-pm

Even the dog is rolling his eyes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Previous Older Entries