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!






Married To An Iyengar

My top ten list of things only someone who is married to an Iyengar will get…

10. The iyengar puliyodarai (tamarind rice) is hands down the best. No competition.

  1. Be prepared to do namaskarams* multiple times (4 to be exact – this was something I found out the hard way during our wedding ceremony. Boy was that a workout!)
  1. All iyengars are related to Hemamalini in some way, shape or form. Just kidding. They do take an unusual pride in their celebs though! My own kids have figured out they’re related to R Madhavan (the Tamil actor) through my brother-in-law’s wife who, I think, is a 2nd cousin to him.
  1. Madisar – Iyengar madisar is easier to drape, but I personally am partial to the Iyer madisar, which I think is more graceful.
  1. Chithiya does not mean what you think it does. After 26 years, I’m still a bit unclear on exactly what it means.
  1. Everything is Perumal!
  1. “Kai thirutharathu” means to cut vegetables. What exactly are we correcting?
  1. Iyers never serve rice first – it’s considered sacrilege to serve rice on an empty plate. Iyengars have no such rule. Although I’m used to it after 26 years, I still feel a twinge of guilt every now and then when I serve rice first with no other vegetables on the plate
  1. Of course, saathamuthu (rasam), karamudhu (evolved from kariamudhu,kari meaning vegetable), thirukkanamudhu (payasam/kheer), dhaddhiyonnam (thayir saadam/yogurt rice) all took a while to get used to. Especially dhaddhi which also means a dullhead!
  1. And the top thing I realized married to an iyengar is, they’re really not that different from the rest of us. I am very lucky to be married into this family of Iyengars – equally nerdy as ours if not more, funny to boot, and most of them accepted me readily.

My parents in law and my brother-in-law went on a road trip with us during one of our India trips to the Brihadeswarar temple in Thanjavur/Tanjore, because it had been my dream, completely debunking the myth that Iyengars cross the street when they see a Shiva temple. Even if we had to stop at Srirangam and pay our respects to Ranganatha Swamy first. Raj and his brother recently went around the Thiruvannamalai hill, all 14 kms of it, barefoot, to fulfill my mother in law’s wish/prarthanai on her 80th birthday.

To quote Scout Finch (To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee) “There’s just one kind of folks. Folks!”



* The Indian custom of prostrating to the elders/gods to get their blessings, especially during our weddings, a ton of times




Why I love David Sedaris

It was the year 2007. We were in Banff, Canada. I was reading this book called “Me talk pretty one day” that I had been wanting to read, and finally picked up. Cackling like a crazy old witch to myself. Which got my kids curious.

That was the beginning of my and my kids’ love affair with David Sedaris, one of the funniest people I have ever read. By the way, there is a running argument over who really got the book first. My daughter says she picked it up, but I bullied her into letting me read it first. I can see that happening, but I don’t think it did, in this case at least. I think I picked it up first.

Anyway, this week, David Sedaris was in Jacksonville, and Raj and I went to see him. The show ended around 9 pm. And we stood in line for about an hour and a half on a weeknight to get this book signed by him. It was amazing to watch this man eat his steak, chat with his fans, write something personal on each book, and sometimes even pull something out of a bag he had with him to gift – maybe a cookie? Not sure what he was giving away. All with a smile, and a niceness that was genuine.

When it was finally our turn, I turned to the chapter that made me laugh hardest: “Jesus Shaves.” And told him my version of the story of how we got hooked as a family to his writing. He listened, and said “that looks really soft. Can I feel it?” about my old, soft cashmere sweater.

What could I say? “Sure?”

He made some conversation, signed the page I opened, we said thanks, and I invited him to a home cooked Indian meal next time he was in town. And realized I hadn’t given him my name (other than Sri), my number or my address until the next day, when I was recounting it to my son. Neither had he asked.  Hmm.. wonder what to make of that.

But, the best thing, that special thing that makes this man a humble genius is what he wrote in my book:

“To Sri

I so enjoyed stroking your arm”.

I get a big old smile everytime I look at it! What a genius!