Another Post On Raj

Everyone who knows me well knows I like lists. So here goes a list of my favorite things about the most important person in my life, on his birthday. The list kept growing, and I had to cut it short to make sure someone’s head doesn’t 😉 just kidding, darling!

Top Reasons Why I Love Raj

  • I love that you have a sense of humor and can take the constant ragging by me and the kids.
  • Also love that you don’t give up on making corny jokes despite all the groaning. And the bad singing. Although have to say, the jokes are starting to grow on us!
  • Love that you are there for me through all my drama ventures like a rock and I can always count on your unwavering, loving, kind support, guidance, and your willingness to roll up your sleeves and help me with whatever I need, no questions asked, no judgment passed, just pure unconditional love
  • Love that you get me flowers when you know I’m upset – no words needed
  • For being the best father for our children, for providing them with the best opportunities
  • For being a nerd, and for making a lot of our vacations partly museum forays which the kids appreciate now, for nurturing open discussions on any topic at the dinner table
  • For taking a genuine personal interest in pretty much everyone you meet and not in a calculating, “what can I get from this relationship” way; especially people who worked for/with you, and caring deeply about their families, and their troubles
  • For being such a kid magnet, and the way you just adore and play with little kids and babies; at your age, it must be exhausting 🙂
  • For being an inspiration and a role model to me and the kids to be better human beings
  • I feel incredibly fortunate that in all our disagreements over 27 years, you have never once made me feel small or humiliated, and have always made it safe for us to have open discussions on anything and everything
  • I love that after 26 years, you still say thank you when I make a really good meal! Or just a good cup of ginger tea.
    • Corollary: In the early days of our marriage, when I was a newly-let-loose-in-the-kitchen-bride, and didn’t know how to make that most basic food of south Indians namely rice, or couldn’t tell the difference between toor dhal and channa dhal, you never complained and ate anything I made (not that you had a choice) – be it the rasam which was basically tamarind water with chili powder, or the burnt offerings I put on the table fairly regularly. In fact, you started to prefer the burnt toast, curries, dosai, and anything else I could burn.

Your tolerance allowed me to grow into the decent cook I am now!

  • Also: Did I mention you are mature, drama-free, have absolutely no ego issues, non-reactionary, read manuals and follow instructions, make coffee in the mornings, take my car for oil changes and maintenance when that orange light comes on (I still don’t know what that means), didn’t yell at me when I flooded the car’s engine driving in the rain with the window down (it was raining heavily, and come on, I couldn’t see), or dropped the brand new ipod you got me for my birthday in the tub the very first day, secure enough to sometimes watch the Real housewives with me and actually get involved in the stories, planted a whole row of lavenders because you know I love lavender (and I may have demanded it), and…you do so much more that I cannot list everything!
  • In general, you treat me like a queen, even when I don’t feel like one or deserve to be treated as one

Finally, I love that you are you –  kind, funny, and intelligent. Core values that we share.

I pray that our children are as fortunate as me; and they find/have someone just like you in their lives.

May all your dreams come true – every book read, every project finished, and every place you want to travel to, traveled.

Happy birthday, my Rasa!






Of the 3 pm Coffee And Other Family Bonding Rituals

I recently had the pleasure of reading a piece written by a friend on drinking coffee and why one should never drink it alone.  This must have been in my subconscious when today, after a long time, I wanted a cup of coffee with my afternoon snack.  My husband didn’t want as he had trouble sleeping if he so much as looked at coffee after 3 pm.  My son doesn’t drink coffee/tea.  So it was just me.  So I made myself some, ate my snack with sips of coffee and felt…how do I put it, …blah!

This led to some serious soul searching on the joys of the ritual that is the afternoon coffee.  My coffee was good.  Full-bodied, bold  and robust, its essence captured by Starbucks, refrigerated for flavor, with a dash of half and half and some agave nectar sweetening it.  But it left me unsatisfied.  Why? As I pondered this most important question, I flashed back to afternoons of “coffee time” back home in good old Chennai.  While the British influenced the northern parts of India with their tea-drinking habit, the southern states, especially TamilNadu stuck with coffee as their poison of choice.

Every day at home,  after lunch, there’s that wonderful lull when folks rest a while.  The shades were drawn, fans run at full speed.  Some read, some napped, some listened to “vividha bharathi” and such.  Mind you, this was when I was growing up.  I have no idea what the current scene is.

Around 2:30 pm, there would be small stirrings, of the house slowly coming to life.  Someone would go get the “Aavin” milk packets or have it delivered.  Amma would get up and start the ritual of boiling the milk, boiling water for the fresh decoction (decahtion), you would hear the gentle tap-tapping on the filter, a stainless steel manual coffee-brewing contraption.  And the aroma of the Plantation A + Peaberry with a dash of chicory would fill the house.  There would be muted conversations in the kitchen between amma and patti of what to make for “tiffin” – another lovely ritual of the 3 o’ clock kind.  Members of the family would start to gather near the kitchen – dining hall or whatever common area.  One might even have visitors – relatives and friends who drop in unannounced, but welcome.  I remember when we were little kids, a certain friend of my mother would show up promptly at coffee time – every single day.  My mom never minded it, happily sharing what little we had with her everyday.  (I say that because we were quite poor growing up).

And then, when the tiffin and the coffee was ready, my mother would serve.  It was usually a simple affair – a light snack like upma and a small stainless steel tumbler of coffee.  It was barely 4 oz. if that.  But it was so satisfying.  And I suspect what made it so comforting was the ritual around it – no matter what, all the family members at home would assemble for it.  We would make plans for the evening.  The sounds, the smells, the air of expectation that everyone would be up soon, and there would be something good to eat and drink.  And go on with the rest of the day.  When I recently visited my family in India, I rediscovered the joys of the afternoon coffee.  Some days my sister would visit with her kids, and we would all sit around the kitchen table or on the floor in the drawing room.  Some days it wasn’t even coffee as my parents prefer tea these days in the afternoons.  And some days it was a store bought samosa or some such delicacy as my mother is older now and tires easily.  But the magic of the ritual was still there.

I long for that comfort here, drinking my Starbucks in a supersized cup, alone.  I make a traditional “tiffin” some days, trying to recreate the magic of those afternoons.  Sadly, all that has done is help me pack on some excess pounds around my waist.

I have decided that it was my favorite time of the day back then – there was an air of expectation, of gathering with your family after a brief break,  of starting over in the middle of the day.  Making plans with my cousins for the evening.  Getting ready to maybe go to a movie.  Or the beach.  Somehow, in my perspective, it brought a family together everyday like no other ritual did.