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A Gift of Life!

Wherever we are, whichever community we belong to, whichever country we originate from, there are certain celebrations that we adapt to. One such is Mother’s Day! If you are with your mother or not, if you love your mother who gave you the gift of life, celebrating her is a must! And what better way than a day that has been declared as a celebration for her, Mother’s day!

I know that a lot of people in India must be thinking that it is an ‘American thing’, a ‘Hallmark gimmick’! Whatever it be, there is nothing wrong in making the first woman in our life, our mother, feel special on one day, at least. I agree that she does so much for us that we should be celebrating her every day! I agree! But, do we ever do that? We don’t.

Yesterday, when I was in a store, to pick up a wedding gift for a friend’s anniversary, I was smitten by what I saw. Kids of all ages, teenagers and adults too, all were busy trying to select a gift for their mom, aunt, sister or grandmom, for the inspiring mom in their life! Even toddlers were being helped by adults to pick out a gift of choice for their mom! It got me thinking. In India, we are taught everything except for giving gifts to family members and making them feel special. The scenario has changed now for sure, but it was not like that back then. Gifts are given only to lovers or spouses, not to other family members.

I don’t remember receiving gifts on my birthday either! A new dress, food I loved and a movie or outing, that was all , till we were grown up enough to have a house party for friends, when cake cutting came into place! I don’t remember thinking of giving a gift to my parents or siblings either for their birthdays. The first time I ever got something for my parents was when I got my first salary from my first job!

It is not like we don’t love people if we don’t give gifts. But, it is a way of saying that you remembered them or you are appreciative of them. I think it is important to express our feelings. This is one thing that is lacking in a lot of families and societies in India. We take people and relationships for granted. We don’t express our feelings, our gratitude to parents, moms in particular, who do so much for us, through their life. And, this is from an era, where the mom did everything from changing soiled sheets , giving a bath to feeding a kid, irrespective of whether the mom was having a career or was a homemaker!

Kids here get pocket money every week or month, or some families give money for the chores that kids are taught to do around the house. We don’t teach kids to help in the house, either! Well, this is another topic, for another day. The kids save their pocket money for occasions like this, Mother’s day, and within their financial capability, buy something to appreciate and show their love for their mom! How nice! You should have seen to believe as to how cute it was to see the kids paying at the store with change and small notes for the gift they were buying. I could see the happiness, the pride in their eyes and behavior too!

I will always remember all the mother’s day’s cards and gifts I got through the years from my daughters. They took time to make a beautiful and creative card for all mother’s days when they were in elementary school. Later on , it was small gifts they bought and presented along with their handmade cards. Now, if they are home for mother’s day, they cook for me one time of the day, and take me out for the other meal. They show their love and appreciation in their own way by making my day special and making me feel special. I am always proud of my loving daughters for all their love, care and concern they show so openly!

I am glad that I came to this country, if not for anything, at least to learn to appreciate parents in any and every way possible. I do take time to buy a gift or card and send it across to my mom every Mother’s day and talk to her and wish her. I have learned so much from her, including being patient in bringing up kids and of course, my cooking! I have tried my best to be like her, to the extent possible. But then, mom is mom! She’s the best! Thank you, mom, for everything, and Happy Mother’s day! Thank you for giving me a gift of this life!

Happy , Happier, Happiest!

It is truly difficult to define Happiness. All one can say or describe is how they relate to it, or how they felt in certain circumstances when they hearts laughed or their eyes smiled; when they being was exalted or their soul was satiated! Well, does it look like I am taking my favourite grammar class- Adjectives class?!! Nah! I wouldn’t do that to you! It’s Synonyms class! Ha ! Ha! Synonyms of Happiness!

Before, we move further…Wish you all a Happy New Year, 2024!

Happiness is not always the beginning of a new year, or a new month or a new day! Happiness can also be a beginning of a new hobby, a new passion or a new idea of life! When I suddenly come across a new dish on TV or in a book, I try it out and when that turns out good, that is happiness for me! When I sit down reading a book or a short story and suddenly I come up with a story in mind, that is happiness for me! There are times when I just look at the moon, or feel a cold gush of air shiver my body, and I write a few lines of poetry, that gives me happiness, indeed!

I could describe happiness in so many different ways, but, that’s not the question! It is telling you, what happiness means to me, or what happiness is in my life, around me, is the point! When I see a beautiful sunrise or sunset, immense happiness engulfs me! When I see a video or reel of a cute baby, it makes my day! When I eat something new , excitement bursts in my palette. Some movies touch my soul and some leave a good feeling in my heart! The excitement in my kids’ eyes when they get something they like, the happiness in a friends’ tone for their achievement, the laughter in your mom’s voice over the phone, when you call her, all adds to happiness, on a daily basis!

On birthdays, holidays or anniversaries, when we go out, to a restaurant, a movie or go to do some activity , it brings happiness to all of us, in my family. We also go out shopping together, most of the times. That’s also one way of spending time with each other, taking each other’s opinion of what we buy, displaying what we bought after reaching home, is all fun, too!

The way my family spends hours sitting together at the lunch table or dinner table every day, and we talk till our throat is parched or the hands are dried up, it gives immense satisfaction of family time. It has never happened since childhood, neither in my parents’ house and does it ever happens in my house now, that we eat separately. However hungry we are , we wait for each other and always eat together. It’s not just a habit or a rule of the house, it is one of the ways of spending moments of happiness in my house! Since I have mentioned eating and food, I should also proudly mention the happiness I feel as a mom when my friends and family praise my daughters for being the best example of kids who never say no to any food served to them or presented in front of them (of course, it has to be vegetarian, though! ). They have never been picky eaters, and they also have a nice knack of praising the food they like too! This pride adds to my happiness, too!

Sometimes some of my friends and acquaintances ask me as to how I brought up such well mannered kids, who speak their mother tongue fluently and have never thrown a fit or tantrum( when they were kids, of course!). I just smile, but do feel elated inside, that I have been lucky to have kids who bring me so much happiness, always! They know how to make the right decisions, and they are capable of managing everything on their own! I not only feel proud of them, but also feel immensely satiated that they have grown up into gracious, brave, lovely and loving girls who respect , not just elders, but human beings in general!

They say that a woman feels happy when she gets all she wants and more! I am sure, it true, not just for woman , for all human beings in general! I feel happy when my husband gets a pat on the back from his parents, when his boss praises him in front of his colleagues, when his friends tell me how much they value him and his friendship! Every moment with him , even when we fight, is a stepping stone to happiness; it gives me a chance to know him better, it helps him to understand me better! Though I don’t tell him often, I do boast about it proudly to my friends and family, that he is a great help around the house. I would happily give him the credit for keeping the house neat and clean, always! He has always been there for me and for our daughters , whenever we needed him or his help, and that is the greatest happiness for any family! Last but not the least, his silly jokes are a part of the smiles and laughs that bounce around the walls of the house, so often!

It is not fair, if I don’t mention my parents and my childhood, when I am talking about happiness . My parents have inculcated happiness in me since childhood! I have not seen my parents fight or shout at each other! I saw them sit and talk , my dad share his office gossip with my mom, my mom talk about her day, it was always cute to see them sit and talk and laugh with each other, on a daily basis.They have always been an ideal couple for me !

My happiness knew no bounds when my dad always brought back comic books for me from his official trips. Also, once a month we would go to a market far from home where there was a book store. My dad would take me to that store and ask me to choose any book I want. It would start with one book but I would always end up buying 4-5 books. That was a father’s way of showering happiness into his little girl’s hand. That’s how my reading habit grew, and that’s how my story telling also sprouted! He took pride in my marks, my grades, my choice of subjects, my studies and all of my other decisions!

If not for my mom’s delicious cooking, I would have never found a love for cooking! She smilingly made all our favourite dishes for every occasion. She not just made them, but made them so yummy, always, with love! Even today, I tell everyone and their mom, that my mom is a great cook! I watched her, admired her, awed at her, for coming up with different varieties of dishes, from different parts of India. And, all this, in an era when there was no TV, no Youtube videos and not many cooking books!

A lot of us do not know that some things we do or don’t do gives us a kind of satisfaction, which is nothing but pleasure to the being! All the achievements of your kids, your spouse, yourself, would always give you a breathe of fresh air, a satisfaction beyond compare. When you stand by your loved ones, in all their good and bad moments, fight for them, along with them, that is a source of big happiness.

I could go on and on about happiness in my life! Happiness around me! I know, I still haven’t talked about my work, my work place , my friends, my friendships, my silly adventures, my garrulous banters, my clichéd poems, my not-so-boring short stories, my hobbies, my pastimes. I haven’t mentioned the teachers who inspired me, brought happiness to my studies; my favourite aunt who inspired me in more ways than one and my grandma, my lifetime inspiration! Well, all that, for another day! Describing one’s happy moments of life, is so emotional and also time taking. So, for now, don’t worry, be happy! Always!

Are We There Yet?!!

The Best time for new beginnings is NOW !”

Welcome, 2023!

Who starts their first post of the year one month and a week later? Well, some do. Right? And, they have an excuse too! So do I! 😊

Well, I do have a genuine reason that I was travelling! I was busy between a wedding of a niece and the 1st birthday of a nephew! And all this was in India! The beautiful India! By the way, I will talk about these two events, later, perhaps in another post… After coming back from India, my one month leave from work cost me my time, and I was on a rollercoaster of loads of work.

Well, whenever I go to India, I am amazed by the people, the crowds, the traffic, the vehicles, the shops, the different clothes, the different cultures and the variety of food. I go to India often, but I still feel amazed seeing India, every single time!  

I know, it might sound weird when I say that I am amazed by the crowds and traffic too. Let me explain. It is easy to drive on the wide roads, the half empty roads of a country like America. But, driving with so much of traffic, with so many vehicles, cars, buses, two wheelers, bikes, is surely an amazing feat. Whenever I was in a car, and we were in the traffic, I applauded the way everyone drove safe in spite of all the traffic around. No breaking rules either. I felt that Indians do have the patience to drive or commute from one place to another, more than any other country people.

The vast population has also not been a problem for any Indian staying in India. We don’t stop and think negative that there are so many people around and we don’t have space to breathe. No, we never do that. It has always been ok to stand in near proximity in lines, breathe into each other’s neck or face and no one judges you or thinks bad about you. We always know how to survive in India.

When I first came to the US, the first thing I noticed was the distance between people in a line, everywhere. In the stores, the malls, the amusement parks, the movie theatres, everywhere. A smile played on my lips when I saw that because I imagined all these people in the US transported to India. How would they survive? They wouldn’t be able to, for sure. It is possible in the US because the land is large, and the population is miniscule.

Any non-Indian, often wonders, how do so many people live harmoniously in India. They might not say it out loud, but sometimes, it is evident in their talk. Well, I don’t blame that they wonder!  India not only has a lot of languages, a lot of religions, but it also has a lot of cultures within each state. And the beauty of it that all of us live together, not only meeting and greeting each other but residing and living next to each other and that too, harmoniously! We celebrate each other’s festivals, we try to learn each other’s languages and above all, we try to imbibe each other’s culture into the other. Sounds dramatic! Yes, I know! But, it is not drama, it is life! Any Indian’s life! Well, strange but true, that Americans have different slangs and accents, in different states and surprisingly enough, they make fun of each other’s accent too.

When I say cultures, in the plural, I should also mention the different cuisines we have in India. People from other countries call it Indian cuisine. Agreed! But Indian cuisine consists of cuisines from so many states, so many districts, so many cities, so many towns, so many villages and so many different homes of people of India. The food of India is as vast as the population of India. We share food, we share recipes, we taste different varieties of food from each part of each state. Just like some people like to taste different cuisines from different countries, in the US, they should also understand and taste different cuisines that reign in different parts of India. They anyways do not have a set cuisine of the country and try to ‘Americanize’, for the lack of a better word, every cuisine from every country. Try us, too!

People say that we have so many religions in India and so we have differences. No, we don’t. It is the media and fanatics of religions who propaganda that. We all have friends of different religions back in India, in schools, in colleges or at workplaces. We never look down or scorn any person of other religion when we are with them. In fact, we share food, we take part in each other’s festivals, we learn each other’s cultures, and we attend marriages of each other, too. So, where is the feud the world is talking about? Where is the daily vengeance or hatred that the media sees?

I know that my blog is ‘Life in the USA’, but today, the Indian in me wants to tell people of the USA, the greatness of India, through my eyes, an Indian American’s eyes. And hence, this post, for people who are non-Indians, or third and fourth generation Indians who might not know about India’s greatness. Also, this is for those new generation young Indians, who are curious about India, in general.

I am sure we Indians, can teach the Europeans how to learn languages. I am sure we can teach America how to co-exist with different culture people, without segregating them in the name of color. I am sure, we can teach a lot of countries how to live in harmony, despite the differences. I am sure, we can teach the Britishers that English is spoken in India, in different dialects, I must say, not just as a language but as a skillset to outreach the world. And are we there yet? Almost there!!

Hope you have a great year ahead!

All is well!

I know it was a long absence from writing. A full 12 months!

Life became too busy with a new job that my days got drained of my energy and my evenings made me equally busy with household chores.

A lot happened this year…

The year with covid…. did some good and some bad. Lost some dear ones , family members…. sadness filled life, a feeling that visiting India has become a rarity now also creeped in….

The arrival of vaccines brought a fresh breath of hope and a sigh of relief. Before we knew, received both doses and the booster too. Are we safe now? Only the doctors can tell. All we can do is believe them and have faith in our luck.

Work became hectic… from 5 day week, it turned into a 6 day week with increased hours . But the achievements, the encouragements at work, the appreciations galore soothed the aching eyes and the tired bones , day by day. Learnt a lot of life lessons working with faceless work friends, working for the unknown voices across the country, with a feeling of giving back to the society through the disaster loan sanctions. It also fulfilled my linguistic thirst of listening to different dialects and accents across US. It allowed me to realize the different accents of different country people ‘s English.

Life took a turn all of a sudden, on the personal front….

My younger daughter left home to her college leaving the walls of the house gapping at the emptiness. From prom to dorm, the journey continued as my heart came to a standstill once again. It happened once when my older one had gone to college in 2016. I try to keep my sanity intact and not get bogged with the empty nest syndrome. But, once in a while, I just walk into my daughters’ rooms and my eyes search around for know not what!

Our drives to and from Austin to drop or pick up my daughter, worked in a different dimension. My husband and I talked a lot and shared memories. The 3 and half hrs made us chirping away like long lost friends. It reminded us of our courting days.

It changed things at home too. Now , I worked full time from home , and my husband did too. He took up on himself to make the tea as a routine every evening. His experiments with his teas, adding a new flavor every day, made it interesting. I looked forward to the chai after my work every evening. Our lunch time, tea time and dinner times were special. We joked, talked ,and shared memories about kids.We ate anything and everything, had TV diners too.

Life is so predictable but yet so unexpected and different, year by year. Looking forward to another year of hectic work , another year of missing kids, missing going to India, hanging in the emptiness, yet finding me-time and a togetherness moving us into our mid age.

Leaving another year behind, bundling up the gathered memories, waking up into another year of hope, happiness and health.

All is well that ends well! Enjoyed the fireworks at Dallas downtown with family and welcomed the new year!

Good bye 2021! Welcome 2022!

Life begins again!

Welcome to the new year 2021, a year of hope and happiness-the starting year of another decade! Before the end of this first month of this wonderful year to come, I had to post this!

Two things that 2020 taught us was that some quotes on the wall or in books are so true. Like, ‘Family is where life begins and love never ends’ and ‘Life is unpredictable’.

Well, if we are here in 2021, it just means that we have survived a bad year of the millennium- the virus year, I would say.  But however good or bad the year was for each of us, one thing everyone will agree throughout the world is that it was a totally different year!! Unanticipated, unprecedented, unusual, unexpected, too many ‘un’common things happened.

So was my life! Milestone birthdays, graduations, new beginnings, the family at home in front of my eyes, an awakening of my passion for cooking, And, above all, getting a different and new job- a federal one, was not something that I had fathomed… at least not in the pandemic.

Sometimes, when you sit idle for a long time, or remain in the four walls of your house for a long time, life becomes monotonous, a frustration creeps in. Surprisingly, the ‘sitting at home’ (of course, I mean quarantine, silly!) was a fresh breath of air for me! Driving to work, dashing out of the house to reach in time, coming home exhausted more from the traffic than the work, was a monotonous boredom that was slowly building up in me! I was slowly losing interest in my job because of the hectic life I was passing through. Of course, I tried my best to cheer myself up by listening to the radio while driving, trying different routes to get home to make it adventurous. But.

A new spark was lit in me when I sat back at leisure in the house! Spending time with my family, having ample time to experiment with cooking, watching, oh sorry, the right word is binging on TV series and movies, one after the other, day by day, was exhilarating. And, then when I landed a fed govt job, new enthusiasm flowed out.

And, in the pandemic quarantine, I was reminded of two instance that happened in my life. One was when I had Jaundice in my sophomore of undergrad and couldn’t go to college for almost a month and a half. I lived in my grandparents’ house back then and I was stuck in my room till I recovered. It was the most frustrated time for me…. my weakness, my sickness and boredom, all were interlinked. I missed classes, (back then, we didn’t have any online mode of communication with the teachers or friends.), missed friends, missed the ability to go outside.

The second incident I remembered was from my University days. It so happened that for a week, we had heavy rains and storms that year and for 4 days, we were stuck in our dorm rooms forever, or so it seemed. It was even difficult to go to the dining hall, wading in the ankle-deep water, trying to hold on to the umbrella…. The most difficult part was when the 3rd day there was a power outage. But believe me, we enjoyed the darkness the most. We would gather in one of my friend’s room and in the candlelight play silly games, sing songs and listen to stories of each other’s childhood.

I am sure, everyone in the world will have stories to tell about the ‘disaster’ year,2020. Some interesting, some depressing, some rejuvenating and some sad. But a story for sure! Those stories might have an ending this year or may have a twist or turn to it this year! But, rest assured, it is going to be a year of hope!

A hope that the vaccine will eradicate the virus! A hope that people will value their lives. A hope that family will always come first! And a hope that the world will return to normal very soon! After all, life is a bouquet of hopes and wishes bundled with love!

The heroes in my life!

“Behind every great daughter is a truly amazing father.”

I don’t know if I have been a great daughter or not, but I do have a truly amazing father!

Whenever I reminisce my childhood, I remember my dad in a lot of ways than one! His affectionate smile , his silly jokes, his anger when teaching me Math, (when I didn’t understand the fundamentals of the Math problems),our arguments ( we always had different views on a lot of topics in life), his love for the family, his confidence in me, and of course, through the journey, till this date, his encouragement in whatever I do.

I remember how he taught me to ride a bicycle, in the summer after my fourth grade. He would take me out with the cycle and hold it while I tried to balance. He not only taught me how to balance the bike, but he also taught me to have a balance in life. Like he did! Yes, he always knew how to balance between work and family, between my mom and his kids, between relatives and friends.

He wouldn’t think twice to give me permission to go biking to my friends’ house, even if I was all alone or even if their house was a little far away. He always knew that I could take care of myself and knew that he didn’t have to hover around to protect me. That confidence he had in me, made me a confident and brave person I am today.

He never differentiated between my brothers and me. He loves us equally and he has always provided everything equally for us. I never ever heard him say, “You are a girl, you can’t do this!”. Instead, he always encouraged me by saying, ” Why do you think that girls can do it?! I have faith in you, you can do it!”

At an age, when you don’t know what you want to become, he told me his dreams of making me an engineer. He wanted me to be the first girl engineer in my family! But I didn’t meet his expectations, couldn’t fulfill his dreams as I didn’t get through the engineering entrance. But he didn’t lose hope or discourage me ever. He just moved on without a hue and cry.

At one point of time, when I had finished my bachelor’s in science and was not happy with it, he asked me about my dreams, my aim in life. When I said my heart lay in English literature, he encouraged me to follow the path. After my Masters’ he was the one who made me realize that maybe Ph.D. in Literature would be a good idea. I always knew that I could blindly count on his ideas, as he knew me better than I did, perhaps!

Whenever he reads something I write, he says ” You should be utilizing your talent more!” Since the day he read some of the short stories I wrote, he has been after me to write novels and publish them. He thinks I am just a few steps away from the “The Booker Prize”. Booker prize or not, yes, someday, very soon, I am sure I will fulfill his dream of seeing me published!

He believed in me, he encourages me, and he made me grow up into a brave girl. I was not taught all these things; I saw him and followed his footsteps. I learnt how to be honest and brave like him. I learnt how to be nice to people around me and gain their respect and support. Be it in school, college or any place of work, I tried my best to be nice to everyone around me and earn their love and respect!

My dad was also the first person to believe in my decision, when I chose my life partner. Without any presumptions or prejudice, he was ready to meet the boy and talk to him. More than that person, he was confident on my choice! He knew that he could count on me, as he knew very well that I do take time to trust and like a person. I have always been grateful to my dad for believing in me and getting me married to the person I love!

Well, that brings me to the second father in my life that I love and adore-the father of my kids, my husband!! They say that all women end up with a version of their fathers. There could be some truth in this if not all!

He is a great father to my kids, and whenever I see him interacting with my daughters, I am reminded of how I interacted with my dad. The way he jokes, the way he gangs up with them to tease me…. his invariably pampering them with gifts and money, silently fearing what kind of man with sweep their feet off….. one word for everything-nostalgia! Just as my dad was a pillar of strength for me, my husband is that strength for our daughters!

There is a saying- “The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”-Theodore Hesburgh

My husband does that and more. He loves me, inspires me, encourages me and entertains me with his stupid jokes too! He has always been supportive of my decisions and encouraging of my endeavors! He is not only a great father to my kids, but a great husband to the mom of his kids!!

Father’s Day celebrations may be over, but the love for my dad, and the love for the dad of my kids, will go on and on! I leave you all with these beautiful words I read somewhere-

“A father’s tears and fears are unseen, his love is unexpressed, but his care and protection remain as a pillar of strength throughout our lives.”

What Quarantine has done for me!!

I know how it is outside in the world. The sadness in the news, the gloomy faces that you encounter in the grocery stores, all that on one side! But, on the other hand, the fun at home is immense and so satisfying for me at least.

It started with my birthday celebrations. I don’t remember when was the last time that I celebrated my birthday totally at home. My kids and husband surprised me by serving me three-course meals, cooked by them. I had yummy food to my heart’s content and was totally free the whole day. Since the cooking and cleaning too was taken care of, I just whiled away my time reading poems, and writing a short story. And to top it all, I got gifts too!

On Mothers’ day too I got a great day off. My husband made lunch for the mother of his kids. My kids made dinner and gave me a handmade painting as a gift too. I watched TV for as long as I could and then came over to write this. I even could leisurely talk to my mom in India for a long time.

It is indeed a time for me to linger in my passion a little longer… my passion for cooking! One day, during this quarantine, I just came up with the idea of cooking famous dishes from the states of India. And so, have been doing that since March. I know that it should have been done in 29 days, but then, I had to take breaks. I sometimes didn’t have ingredients and sometimes didn’t have the right recipes. So, taking breaks on and off, I have been traveling steadily, though slowly, through the states of India. It is fascinating to know the dishes, know why certain ingredients are used in certain states, and what makes that state famous for. It is very satisfying for me that I am learning new and complicated dishes from India. I confess that though I am from that country and have lived there for almost three decades of my life before coming to the US, I didn’t know half the cuisine of the country. But, it is better late than never….

With a lot of time on hand, I sometimes walk into my backyard garden and look at the plants. I joined a WhatsApp group of gardening tips and have been learning a lot about plants, bugs, and the maintenance of the plants. Though I don’t have a way to go out and buy more plants, at least, I feel nice to see the ones that are there, blooming. I have been trying to plant any and every seed to test my green thumb if not anything else.

The chatter, the banter, the loud voices, the arguments of the kids, the movies, the music, the songs…. It is getting additive. Now that the house is full of us, life seems so perfect. My older one was in the dorm for 4 years of her college and so we couldn’t see her that often. My younger one though with living us was busy with school, classes, orchestra classes, socials, her work. And of course, I went out to work and so I just had enough time to cook, clean, eat, repeat kind of scenario. I am sure, my husband, who has been working from home alone for years, finds it a change of scene with all of us at home along with him!

Perhaps, we have never watched so many movies together as a family to date. Unless, we go out to the theatre , of course. Now, most of the days, after dinner, all four of us land up in the media room and take turns in choosing movies and watching. We compete too as to who showed the best movie so far! It is fun to be like kids with the kids, isn’t it?

Quarantine has helped my family to bond well.. Since all are working or studying from home, we get to have lunches and dinners together. After their scheduled work, we get to play in their backyard or play board games in the house. We take turns and arrange picnics in the backyard over the weekends. I’m sure, despite all the inconvenience that the quarantine is causing, the bonding between families everywhere is surely improving.

What did you do last summer?!!

Writing about summer after six months has past is surprising! I agree! But I can’t let go of 2019 without blogging about my trip to India in the summer.

After eight long years when I went to India this summer, I was very nostalgic. I felt that the kind of hustle bustle that is present in India is not really noisy; it is a real relaxation of life. You feel alive when you see so many people speaking the Indian languages and dressed up the same or similar way that you are. You tend to forget that people are strangers… they never look or behave like strangers, and so it is easy to start a conversation with anyone, anywhere. I am sure, the whites or the blacks in the US feel the same way when the birds of the same feather flock together.

A long-cherished dream was fulfilled in the summer- a visit to the Taj Mahal. It is sometimes very surprising to know that people of a country don’t get to see the monuments in their own country but see monuments and places of interest outside their motherland. Yes, this was my first visit to the Taj Mahal, one of the wonders of the world, though I was born and brought up in India. Somehow, never got a chance to go on a vacation to Delhi and Agra when we were growing up. Well, better late than never… Saw both the places now!

It was so overwhelming to see the Taj in its gigantic size and beautiful shape. It was beyond my imagination that it would be such a huge monument. Though I had read a lot about the Taj and saw a lot of pictures of it, it somehow was a totally new and profound experience seeing it live. And that too, when the first rays of sunlight fell on the white marble, it shone like the blushing of a bride. After all the photo sessions with the family and taking a tour of it…. Before we came out of that place…. I stood for a moment, took the Taj in my mind and memory, and with admiration reflected on how it might have been built and felt a sense of pride that I belonged to this country where this was built. It sure was a romantic experience in itself, walking with my husband thinking of ourselves as Shah Jahan and Mumtaz!! I sure would love to see it again in the future. Maybe, next time, I would get a chance to see its beauty on a full moon night… they say that it looks like heaven on earth!

This was almost the same kind of feeling I had when I first visited the Niagara Falls. I still sometimes feel that I can hear the sound of the falls. Yes, it sounds silly! But the kind of impact it had on me the first time I saw it, was unique. Or so I thought! But then, every time I visited Niagara after that with family, cousins or friends, I always was awed by its splendor. It’s like first love… always special! 😊

Delhi. The capital city of India. This city gave some good memories too as we walked the streets of old Delhi, or crossed the roads near the India Gate, a royal feeling prevailed. The roads that the Prime ministers move around on are the ones that we were on… Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial was tranquil as it was the quietest place in the fast-paced city. Each fort in Delhi had a different architecture, some reflecting the Mughals and some the Hindu kings. I never saw secularism in any place as I did in Delhi. I could say that about fashion and dressing too. You could see the burkha clad ladies, as well as short-skirted girls. Girls dressed in the latest salwar suits as well as ladies dressed in the old-fashioned Punjabi suits. Well, in the week that I spent there my perception was this… I felt that the people here were very lively and lived life to the fullest.

The hot scorching sun in Rajasthan burnt our skin but not our spirits. In fact, it brought out the color and grandeur in our dressing as we moved from one palace to the other. As we took in the majestic walls of the palaces, a sense of belongingness to the history of India made me sigh with relief that I made it, to see these historic places. Though we were not able to see all the places in Rajasthan, just Jaipur and Udaipur itself made us come back happy and satiated. And of course, the authentic Rajasthani food and the shopping for Indian clothes, added to our happiness, for sure.

Well, though not the same, but, when I first came to the US and went to Disneyland in California, I felt mesmerized to see the grandness and happiness that was spread everywhere. I know, we haven’t seen much of the historic monuments of the US, except for Statue of Liberty. Of course, since there were no kings or kingdoms in the US, and so, the grand Palaces are missing here. That reminds me of my visit to the UK some years back. That was another place that has majestic palaces in the middle of beautiful greenery, both in England and Scotland. A write-up for another day, in the next decade!

But, before I leave this writing, this year and this decade, well, I would love to know what you did last summer! Please do tell me in the comments below!

Miles to go before I sleep!!

It has been a habit with me that I do something different or something new every year on my birthday. But, somehow, this year I was pretty excited and didn’t write anything despite my husband imploring me to write my experiences of life so far! Maybe not writing anything was a new thing in itself!!

Ten days back, I woke up to the surprising wishes from all over the world! Even people who never wished me before did this year…. my school mates, my cousins, my college friends, my old colleagues, my teachers and of course, my family members too, the later a regular every year! It truly made my day to know that I was remembered by so many on an April-Fool’s Day! Actually, when you are on the wrong side of forty, the approaching footsteps of your birthday are not very welcoming! Well, all you can say in defense is that you are a more experienced person and your maturity levels are more! Not memory power and intelligence, mind you!

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Growing up in a small town which was a valley was dull but peaceful. Life was so limited to school, friends and home. Though it was a planned city with great infrastructure, there were no extracurricular activities, no art classes and no going-out-with-friends-to-eat restaurants. The only form of entertainment was the movies. So, obviously, I grew up with Amitabh Bachchan, Kamal Hasan and Chiranjeevi to say the least, and also with the only dream of parents of seeing me become an engineer…. the first girl to become an engineer in the entire family, back then! But, little did they know that my dreams were totally different!!

Experiences developed, and life progressed when I stepped out into the world and did my Bachelors and Masters in a big city atmosphere. But, frankly, I learnt about life more, when I was in a shared apartment with two other scholars while I was pursuing my PhD. Managing finances, cooking, studying, wading off the emotional developments of friends, having a gala time with girlfriends, part-time tutoring to get some pocket money, and dealing with a kleptomaniac as a roommate, taught me lessons galore. Some good memories and some bad, but the memories are intact even today!

Dreams are better as dreams, and so did my parents realize too, as I moved away from the sciences to pursue my dream of being an English professor in a non-English country! Irony of life, now I teach English to American kids! Believe me, it is the most satisfying and ego-boosting experience ever! And that too when the kids are able to accept me and my acquired American accent, it satiates the soul! Yes, I do miss teaching Shakespeare to college students like I did in India, but then, that was 18 years back….Now, when I am travelling in India, and I tell people that I teach English in America, they are awed, and that makes me smile too!

Looks like I have been writing and writing, and don’t know if anything makes sense at all! After all, who cares about someone else’s begone life these days! Life is what is today, in this moment! And the moments now are as blissful for me as they were yesterday or the day before that or years before that! Touchwood! Maybe, it is because I am a person who lives in the moment and knows how to be happy! After all, you cannot join dots of life in the future, so why fret about it! (Though, it does sound good when you read the quote in Disney world: “Here you leave today and enter the world of yesterday, tomorrow, and fantasy.” !!)

Patience with people and lines, endurance of the culture along with the alienation, and discipline of the law, all come as a package here in the US. Coming to the US has taught me a lot, made me a better person I would say! I learnt driving and experience a high when I drive at a speed on the Freeways! The cops, the speeding tickets, the accidents, the totaling of my car, all have made me more alive and kicking! I have experimented and perfected my cooking abilities so much so that now it makes me say, “I love cooking!” With love, care and discipline, I have seen the growth of my kids, glide through into the American world but keeping the culture and tastes of India as intact as possible! And, above all, the quality time spent with hubby dear and the kids here in the US is definitely more than it would have been if we were in India.

I wouldn’t be lying nor exaggerating if I said that life has been kind to me! I have a wonderful and loving husband who helps me in the house, supports my endeavors and loves me in spite of me being me. I have beautiful and sensible kids who always bring a smile to my face, and overflowing love to my heart, no matter what! And, my family back in India, who are my pillars of strength!! Everything and everyone else fall in place too! What more can I ask for!

But yes, I do want more from life! I want to become an entrepreneur or publish my book or do both! I want to enhance my credentials in a lot of different areas and maybe combine them somehow and start a business post retirement! I know, there is a saying… “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride”. But then there is another saying too… “Sometimes things become possible when you want them bad enough.”

Yes, it could be possible, maybe, in the near future… and Oh boy! What could I ever do without Frost’s inspiration!

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep

And miles to go before I sleep!

Bucket List!!

Welcome to another new year ,2019!

Until I watched an Indian movie “Bucket List“, I didn’t know about the ‘bucket list’! Nor did I ever think of one! Now, when I come to think of it, I feel that everyone in this world should have one! And, maybe, most of them do. Well, for some of you out there, who may or may not know what a bucket list is… it is a kind of list like, “Things to do before I die” or “Places to see before I get a job”, or better still… ” The books to read before I sleep forever”!


It may not be something very serious or rebellious; it could be something fun, something to make your life more exciting. Today’s generation kids sure relate to this and I am sure everyone has a lengthy bucket list. The good part is that most of them find the ways and means to fulfill them. Not just the American kids, but I have seen a lot of Indian kids in America fulfilling their bucket lists with the encouragement of your parents and/or friends.


I always think that this is just one life that we have, and hence we should make it a point to live life to the fullest! Fulfill career dreams, be useful to people around you in all ways possible, but do not leave behind any fun that can be had now and here! If all the people in the world thought like this, I am sure, the world would have been simpler to live!


But, that shouldn’t deter you from having fun in life, irrespective of all tensions and troubles shadowing you wherever you go. Take a little time out, jot down some of the fun things that you always felt like doing or haven’t had the time to do, or maybe didn’t have the courage to do. Make a list, revise it, eliminate things or add things… do this for a month! Ultimately, you will end up with a list of perhaps a dozen things that are close to your heart or things that is a must for your life to feel enhanced. And, find a way and time to do them! Viola! Your life is well lived now!


Sometimes, I ponder upon our prior generation people… our great-grandparents, our grandparents or even our parents. Did they have a bucket list? Did they ever feel like doing something or acquiring something, achieving something but didn’t have the financial support or the societal encouragement to fulfill them? They were so engrossed in their day-to-day life that they might not have given so much of a thought to even think of such things. They were extravagancies for them!

I am sure, in India, this concept was not known for sure. From what I observed in my grandparents’ house or in my own house as we were growing up, the concept of saving money for the future was of top priority. Going on holidays was an unattainable dream, perhaps! All they ever wanted was funds for their kids’ education, for their marriage and for themselves when they retire. So, the bucket list was not a thing at all! All they ever wanted was to live in dignity and not be burdened by loans or debts ever! Fair enough!


But, what about some desires and some unfulfilled dreams? Did they fulfill them ever? Or did they just disappear into oblivion? Or worst still, maybe they waited and waited so someday they could fulfill them but never got to them and sooner than later their life ended! That is sad to think of. Maybe not! It could also be that I am reacting unnecessarily!

As I have seen my grandparents or my parents, I have always seen them happy and contented! For all we know, their generation didn’t think about extracurricular things that we think of today. And hence, if they had a good job, a loving family living together, sumptuous food to eat, decent clothes to wear, good health, and respect in the society, they were more than happy. Well, doesn’t that look like a bucket list too? Yes, it does. And, it is also seen that what they couldn’t attain, they always wanted to be fulfilled by their kids. A person who wanted to play sports would send their kids into sports. Another who wanted to learn dance would encourage their kid to learn dance. And thus, they felt satisfied that their wishes are fulfilled by their kids.


Come to think of it, what is easily attainable today, was perhaps a bucket list for them then! And, for today’s generation, nothing is unattainable as long as it is affordable, and so, the shape, size, and form of bucket list has changed.

I have been thinking as I am writing… since I am in between these two generations… do I have a bucket list? Maybe I do. Maybe I don’t. Or maybe for me, it is not called a bucket list but just wishes which may or may not be fulfilled… Yes, I do want to publish a poems’ book or my short stories one day. I would love to learn painting or start some business some day…..


One thing I could say is that my generation had more ambitions than the previous generation and has more determination than the next and new generation to fulfill them! Isn’t that what matters, after all?!!