Author: Anita Ayela

How Well Do You Know Your Tables?

People say that when you learn something in childhood you don’t forget it ever. How true that is, is debatable. How many of us remember the scientific names of all the flowers or the names of different clouds in the sky? Learning or rather ’mugging’ before the exams is what I remember doing. Isn’t that what all of us who studied in India did way back then?

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When my daughter came home from school one day and recited the names of all the bones in her body, explaining their use or function in the body, I was awed. She was in her 6th grade. After 6  years she still remembers them,”mom, my patella (knee bone) is hurting” or “she hit my scapula(shoulder bone)”, she shouts at the top of her voice when she has a fight with her sis. I fall in a dilemma then, whether to check the dictionary or run to her and physically see where it hurts.

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It is impressive how things are taught to kids here in the US schools, unlike how we have learned in India. Pictorial teaching is very effective especially when it is science. They remember things for a long time. After every lesson, they are asked to present some project to the class on that chapter. It could be a diorama, a chart presentation or powerpoint, anything that is part of the chapter and is interesting to the student as well as the class.


All the kids here know their Periodic table completely as they are taught systematically. All of them know their multiplications too though they don’t learn the tables by heart. All subjects are taught in a way that they are retained for ages, and hence, kids remember how to solve a probability problem as well as how to write a chemical formula. At least, I can say this confidently about my kids, though there could be exceptions too.

I remember, as a kid, I liked only two subjects, Grammar , and Math, as they came easily to me, and I didn’t have to learn them by rote. All it needed was practice and I was good at that. Dry subjects like Physics or Geography , History or Economics, didn’t interest me as they were taught in a monotonous way, from the textbook.But kids in the US like those subjects too, as they are taught in an easy-to-understand-and-retain-in-your-memory way. They are asked to research on the topics taught, make charts of them, have class quizzes and do a penultimate project. Since all of these are graded too, kids pay attention to what they are doing and hence, remember what they are learning.

My younger daughter, in her third grade, made her year-end book report on France in the form of a diorama. For that, she looked up on the internet, information about France, in addition to the book she was reading. Facts like how the statue of liberty was presented to the USA by France fascinated me, enriching my knowledge too.Crafting the Eiffel tower along with my kid and the color chart paper engaged me for two best days of my life! And now I also know the difference between a baguette and a beret too, know them enough to eat one and wear the other!

Another very surprising thing for me is book reading projects in every grade. The kids read a book in the class, and then,either make a model of one scene from the book or make a chart about the book, including the characters, scenes and some pictures. And in high school, when they have to study Shakespeare’s dramas, they enact each scene once a week, so that that scene is taken care of. The kids in the US do not sit up in the night and study for exams or tests. Their lessons in the class every day makes them remember their chapters and lessons well enough, enabling them to face their tests well.

Learning-by-rote, cramming, mugging, whatever you may call it, sure gets you grades but doesn’t retain knowledge; practical learning does. A lot of young parents, first-timers to the education system in the US, fear that there is not much competition in this way of studies in the US. But, believe me, I have taught students here as well as in India, and competition is there here in the US too. Getting ‘A’ grade is as important for students here as getting 95% and above is for students in India!!


Truely, how hard is it?!

Last month, when I was on a vacation, walking in the corridor of the Hilton, I noticed something that triggered my stream of thoughts. I saw that outside a lot of rooms, there were trays of food half eaten; French fries, bagels, burgers, most of them hardly eaten. What I saw is a common thing that I see everywhere, throughout America. Wastage of food!




It pains me when I see food wasted in any plate anywhere. I feel that you should take only so much that you can eat. I feel that only so much should be ordered as much as is required. But, as food is not so expensive in the fast food joints, people tend to order more than is required and thus, we see a lot of uneaten food in the compost of the restaurant. The serving size is also way more than is required too, which obviously none of the restaurateurs take notice of.


People who can afford to stay in a hotel like Hilton, or are on a business trip, tend to get room service and don’t feel the need to store away the leftover food and hence, the scene that I saw outside the doors. Instead, couldn’t they just pack the leftover and give it a hungry person at some traffic signal? Or couldn’t they call the staff of the hotel and ask them if they could take the responsibility of donating the food? Most hotels do have a facility to do that, which most of us don’t even care to know. There are food banks which come and pick up food after meetings or events in hotels and restaurants too.


In India, it is so easy to not waste food. In all houses, we have maids or servants and they are ready to take the leftover food. And then, there are poor people who beg for food, and so any food leftover is given away to them. In most small towns and villages, there are street dogs and stray cats, so leaving leftover food for them outside, fills their stomach too.

I came across this article from India and was so happy about it!

It is not that America doesn’t have poor people or there are no people here begging for food; but here people are afraid of the laws and feel that they would be sued if they give leftover food to any poor person. Some people in America don’t know that according to Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996, donors of food are protected “from civil and criminal liability should the product donated in good faith later cause harm to the recipient.”


We Indians do not like to waste money and hence when we are eating out, we know how much we want to spend and hence do not ever order more than we can eat. And if at all, there is any leftover food, we don’t think twice to pack it and bring it home. I have noticed that some Americans (or maybe, they are immigrants too) do pack the leftover food. They either take it home for the next day’s lunch or give it to some homeless person the street or at the traffic signal. Well, I know this because some of my friends and colleagues talk about it. But, I’m sure the percentage of these people is way less than it should be.

This is something that we should start from home: We need to teach the next gen kids to not waste food. They, in turn, will teach their children tomorrow and thus, we would be setting an example to the future generations to come. My parents were always strict about this; we were never allowed to leave anything once it was served on the plate. Come what may, we had to finish it. In my husband’s family too, this rule applied and hence, when we had kids, my husband and I taught this to my kids.

My kids are not allowed to waste food neither in the house nor in restaurants. When we go to a restaurant to a buffet lunch too, they take only so much as they can eat. We rather make more trips to the buffet bar, than load our plates with food and not be able to eat. When we order Ala-carte, we know how much would be sufficient for the four of us and order accordingly. And any leftovers always come back home with us for the next day’s breakfast or lunch.

In my day to day cooking too, I don’t cook more than necessary. Well, exceptions are those days when I call some families for dinner and only a few turn-up, then food obviously is left over for the next day. Otherwise, I cook twice a day and each time, it is just enough for my family of four. And, if at all a small bowl of rice or pasta is left, I refrigerate it and eat it the very next day. I definitely don’t throw it down the drain because ‘there is hardly any left for all of us’.

In studies, it is known that America wastes half of its food on a daily basis and that amounts to around 160 billion dollars a year. Buying food or snacks from a wholesale retailer, is a very common thing in America. We get everything in bulk, and so, people who buy from these stores, buy huge quantities of food, fruits and snack because they are inexpensive. I too buy from the same retail store, but in my house, wastage is almost nil. I buy only what we can eat and I see to it that my kids finish them no matter what, especially snacks and protein bars. Storing extra, and it going waste or date expiring, and we throwing it out, is very very minimal, if not nil, in my house. It beats me why all families in America don’t follow the simple rule of ‘buy only how much you can eat’?!! Is it that hard to try and not waste food?!!


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A New Girl on the Block!

Originally published here (Huffington Post) !


After spending almost three cool decades of your life in India, moving gear to a totally new country like the USA is sure a change of a lifetime! In addition, if you are struck in the face with a cultural shock, it is all the more difficult to cope up with the transition.

Believe me; my cultural shock didn’t come in the form of Californians wearing bikini tops and shorts to the supermarket. I knew the culture of America, and thanks to my avid reading habit, I knew what to expect. But, the immigrant Indians trying to copy Americans was a shock to me. The beautiful bhindis (a dot on the forehead) didn’t adorn their faces anymore, the Indian clothes gave way to shorts and their black hair welcomed shocking colors.

A smile escaped my lips when I saw a seemingly newly-wed couple in the Wal-Mart. The girl obviously had never worn anything short, not even her hair. And here she was trying to adjust her short skirt now and then, looking around to make sure that nobody noticed her long legs. The husband was trying to teach her to overcome her fears and “act” normal. Her hair was short to her ears, what I presumed could have touched her waist for all I know, when she was in India.

A lot of people have always asked me then, and still do sometimes even today — what is the little dot that I have on my forehead, which surprisingly looks like a tattoo to them! I simply say, “This is my culture,” they smile, admire it and walk away. Some of them, especially the ‘Iskon temple followers,’ do know about India’s culture so much that they put a lot of us to shame more often. They come forward and say, “Isn’t that dot on your forehead a symbol of you being married? “Or “How did the colorful ‘bindis’ replace the traditional red dot? ” “Why do South Indians have a dot on their forehead whereas the North Indians have it in their hair-parting?” I explain as much as I can, knowing very well that as much as our knowledge of our basic traditions is losing out in India, it is gaining popularity outside the country.

Now, this brings me to say that Indians who come to the U.S., immediately remove their bhindis, their ‘magulsutram’ (the wedlock necklace-a marriage symbol) and their toe-rings in order to become Americans. Knowing very well that our Indianness is written on our face, no matter how we dress up, every lady starts to feel that a bindi would give away her country of origin! Now, I would never understand what is wrong in being an Indian!! Jeans don’t go with bindi, toe rings don’t go with stilettos and ‘mangalsutram’ shows in a tee. Nice excuses, indeed!

Even today, Americans look up to India for its rich culture, and our immense traditional living. Indian girls who look and behave Indian are given more “looks” than girls trying to eat burgers with forks and mouthing “you-know-what-I-mean” for no reason. I know this because, when I wear a sari and walk to my car, all the Americans around my house give me admiring looks. I have gone shopping in my most expensive sarees, as much as I have gone in a tee and jeans, and both the times, I didn’t get any weird “looks.”

The totally unknown culture or a little knowledge of any culture always arouses curiosity in people. Cultural differences will always be there, but culture and traditions shouldn’t change for anyone for the sake of changing. After 14 years of living in this country, I don’t think I have changed much except for a little accent now. My tee shirts have matching color ‘bhindis’, my toe-rings cozily hug my toes, and my “mangalsutram” plays lovingly on my bosom. And I have the most American friends ever possible, partying at my house, eating ‘samosas’ and ‘Naans’; dancing to Bollywood tunes and admiring my Indian clothes!!

This is culture for me. This is how I want to be known as, an “Indian”! You know what I mean, don’t you?!!

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Thank you, “Thanksgiving’ !

It is overwhelming at times when I think of ‘Thanksgiving’ and why it is celebrated in the US. The origin of Thanksgiving is generally seen as a celebration by the Pilgrims of their survival due to a good harvest mostly because of knowledge provided by the Native Americans who knew the lay of the land. But for me, it has always been something different, it was as if everyone was ‘thanking’ for being alive, or rather, for having a life! And, of course, when we talk about ‘Thanksgiving’, reminiscence is not left behind either!

Every Thanksgiving, everyone has to ‘Thank’ themselves for all the memories they have created down the road. In my opinion, memories are the only wealth that makes our lives rich! When we talk to the elderly people they tell you more about their childhood and youth than their life at present. They might lose their teeth, their eye sight, and might forget what they ate that morning, but their memories of days gone by them ages ago are always intact in their mind. Am I growing old too that I am talking of childhood memories?! Maybe I am! Maybe not! Maybe I’m just nostalgic and so I write…

It is not exaggerating to say that I remember the first time I experienced physical pain as if it was yesterday. Clichéd but true! I don’t remember the pain, but the source and the situation are clear… my foot got into the front wheel of a bicycle as my dad’s man Friday drove me home from school. I was sitting on the ‘baby’ seat on the front of the bicycle and he was riding it pretty fast. I was carried home after we fell and my mom was in tears when she saw me bleeding! I was in kindergarten then! And I can never ‘Thank’ my mom enough for always ‘picking me up’ since then, whenever I fell…

It is funny how I taught my kids to ride a bicycle in a couple of hours while I had taken two weeks to learn it. I was very particular that I learn it myself and my dad encouraged me. Even at an age where I was in the fifth grade, my thoughts were way different than others. I would sit on the carriage seat of the little red bicycle I had and try to balance. It was easier that way as my foot would reach the ground and the chances of my falling down were less. I ultimately learnt to balance, and ‘Thanks’ to my dad, he helped me on to the actual seat and gave me a push! Wee… I rode and rode and rode to school, and back, till my twelfth grade! Need I say that since then, my Dad has always given me that little ‘push’ to achieve anything!

Small things create big memories. What seems important for one would be a trivial thing for another. But, when you are a teenager, every look thrown in your direction makes you blush, everyone who praises you becomes your friend and every pat on the back enthralls you. And when all the three come from the same person, it turns into admiration. It was difficult to think then, whether it was the love for ‘English’ or for the one who taught it, that made me concentrate more in that particular class. Whatever it may have been, ‘Thanks’ to my English teacher in Middle School, I am what I am today, an English teacher!

Living life is one thing and enjoying life is another… ‘Bunking’ classes, ‘giggling’ for nothing, ‘teasing’ boys, ‘naming ‘the lecturers, skipping lunch to have ‘chat’…. I would have deprived myself of these if I hadn’t stayed in a hostel for higher studies. Fun is a small word when the beaches are part of the landscape from your room, the sound of the waves is your alarm clock, and the smiles of your friends first thing in the morning are your meditation. I should ‘thank’ myself for getting to study in that University, where the hostel rooms faced the beach and the changing colors of the sky and sea were my constant companions.

A little flashback before getting into this University would be appropriate when I ‘thank’ my stars. It was for the entrance exam of this course and University that made me travel all by myself in the train. And lo and behold! I met my future there! Looking back, I strongly feel that fate and coincidences are not story-book fantasies, they happen in real life too. My future in-laws along with my future husband were my co-passengers and since then, they have been so. ‘Thanks’ to my husband who took pains to woo me with his incessant sweet banter, and for walking with me since then through thick and thin. A train led to a train of encounters, ‘colliding’ into love and traversing in the direction of wedlock.

When I look at a lot of couples who crave every day and are desperately waiting to get a ‘boon’ from Above to get to be known as parents, I feel so blessed and ‘thank’ God for it. Going to the edge of ‘no return’ and then, bouncing back and that too, with a baby in hand is amazing. Today, I feel all the pain, every critical situation was worth it when I look at my beautifully growing teenage daughters.

Somewhere along the way, everybody has an ‘influence’ of a ‘Hero’, whom you emulate and follow with admiring looks. For me, she was the sole inspiration and the ‘perfect heroine’ to learn from. For her age and generation, my Granny was very forward in thinking. ‘Thanks’ to her, I learnt a lot about life and also, believe it or not, Fashion! Even today, when I think that my being in the US has cost me by not being able to have a last glimpse of her before she walked away into the other world, my heart becomes heavy.

‘Thanking’ people and their role in your life is the true respect we ‘give’ to them. But there would be some moments too, which are to be appreciated in life. I’m sure everyone would have a moment in their life which makes them say, “This is it! “, a moment when you think, if life is taken away from you right then, you are fine! When I stepped onto the deck of the building from the elevator to see the Niagara Falls for the first time, I was awestruck! Staring at the grandeur, all I could think was “Thank God, I’m alive!”


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Hug me, Grandma!

Grandma Hug

Reading one article on Mashable today set me thinking. It was about kids hugging adults, in this case, a great grandma. The author was ok with her kid not hugging the 90-year-old great grandma because “she looks like a witch”. Aren’t all grandmas and great grand moms an epitome of love and affection, and also delicacies-cooking experts?! But, this article left me pondering on relationships in general and future human relationships in particular.

In a world, where everyone is hugging everyone in public, and kissing as a gesture of warmth, it doesn’t make sense to me when I read something like this. When you can hug an acquaintance or a friend, why can’t you hug your relative? It is very wrong on the part of the parents to say that even a kid has to have a say in hugging someone. ‘Someone’ sure! But your kith and kin shouldn’t count into a ‘someone’ list.

Back in India too, until some years back, we didn’t have any hugging or ‘fake kissing’ in the southern part of the country. Touch was not a common thing in our community. Yes, grandparents were always exceptional. Grandkids would sit on their lap and listen to stories or talk to them about their school. But then, now a days, since the awareness of child abuse, that has stopped too, in most houses.

In Northern India, hugging is a very common thing, and everybody hugs everybody as a welcome gesture. It is possible that this culture came from the Muslim rulers in that part of the country. In Islam, hugging is a warm way of showing love. But, for me, a girl from south India, hugging and touching seems very artificial between friends and acquaintances.

But, I have never had a problem if I’m blood-related to that person. In fact, I loved to hug and plant a kiss on my grandma’s cheek even when I was a teenager. I loved her smell, and loved the love and affection I felt when I hugged her. Her soft but wrinkled skin was very dear to me, as I knew that this is what would happen when one ages. I should give the credit to my parents for inculcating this sense of ‘belonging’ that we have in our house. And hence, my brothers and I have always been able to connect to relatives and show our care and concern for them.

This care and concern is seen very rarely here in the US. I sometimes see the grandparents come to their grandkids’ music concerts in school, but it seems like an obligation to me. They come separately, sit together and watch and leave separately. They usually shake hands and rarely hug, and both the gestures seem artificial to me. Maybe, it’s just me, but I feel that there is not much bonding between them. I know it is a culture thing, but then, relationships should be natural not culture bound, right?!

Initially, I was scared when I came into this country, that my kids would lose their ‘Indianness’, but no. My kids mingle well with my parents and my husband’s parents, as I did in my childhood with my grandparents. They have a lot of love and affection toward them and show it physically too. Especially, in my house, when my mom hugs them affectionately and my dad pats them on the back, my kids respond very positively.

When I was a kid, we would go to my Grandparent’s house every summer as we lived in a different state, due to my dad’s job. In the summer, from a cool place, we would go to a hot and humid place, and stay for a month or two, just so we enjoyed the company of my grandparents. We never ever felt the pain as it was so much fun living with them and getting pampered and loved unconditionally.

Now, my kids are going through the same separation pangs as we did. My parents and my husband’s parents live in India, and my kids miss them a lot. Every time we go to India , the kids enjoy their grandparents’ company a lot. Occasionally when the grandparents come over to the USA to visit us for six months, my kids love to show them off to their friends. The love that the grandparents bestow on them is forever priceless.

I think it all boils down to the way the kids are brought up by their parents. Every day, I hug and kiss my kids goodnight, and I feel so nice about it. I feel that if we teach them and show them love, they in turn will do the same in their future. Be aloof or just do a thing for them as a duty, then that is what they would learn too. I would sure love to be hugged and loved by my future grandkids as my kids do to their grandparents and as I did to mine!



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Live Life, Love Life!

My Loving Daughter,

Look at the world around you. It is as beautiful as you are, and that’s why I brought you into this world. But then, life here is beautiful as long as we allow it to be beautiful. Today, I entrust this responsibility on you to make the world more beautiful by just being you.

I will not tell you, “be careful about the boys you choose”, no, that is something personal. You need to go through the ‘relationship roller coaster’ by yourself. I would not be able to get into your brain but will share your fears, applaud your experiences and hear your screams! It is your life, and you need to know what is good for you and who is a good partner for you. I trust you, and if you ever need any support or help, I’m always with you, supporting you. But if you ever come across any friend who needs your moral support, or your heart to share secrets, listen! Support them in any and every way possible.

Preaching about sex, talking about taboos in the society, or telling you about ‘what the society thinks’ is not my cup of tea. You should love your life and live happily in all situations possible. Nothing is ever right or wrong, it is just our perspective. Live life for yourself, definitely  not for the society. But remember one thing, whatever you do, whichever path you choose, if you are able to talk about it with anybody, then you are doing it right. If you feel that it is something you cannot share with anyone, then think again. Is it worth it to live such a secretive life, suffering all alone and not being able to share it with people who love you? Certainly not! Share your feelings with people you love, build camaraderie wherever you go and smile all the way along.

I will not tell you to become ‘this’ or become ‘that’. I will not ask you to take up this major or that. The freedom to choose your future is all yours. It is your capability and interest which you would know better. All I would say is to study hard, and excel in whatever you do. Whatever be the profession you choose, you should love it and enjoy the job you take up. The best colleges are waiting for you, as I always believe that you deserve the best, for you are the best. Having said that, maybe not everyone would be as intelligent as you, and so might need your help.If someone asks for your help with their studies, go out of your way to teach or tutor them. Skip your favorite serial for a difficult math problem, or give up your ice cream treat to buy a book for someone.

It is very cliché to say that dream big and fulfill your dreams. Everyone is born to dream and make them come true, as much as possible. Ambition means different things to different people, but for sure everybody has aims and ambitions and most of us strive to achieve them. I’m sure you will too, as you are capable of achieving anything if your heart is set on it. And whenever possible, try and help others around you realize their dreams too, and lend a helping hand to the needy to achieve their goals.

As I write this letter to you, I would like to share something very important with you today. We pass this way only once, we may not travel this road again, so scatter humanity as you walk. Help people whenever you can, in whatever way you can. Not everybody is as privileged as you are who grew up in a secure and happy environment. Support at least a handful of the underprivileged and show them a new light. Make friends, not enemies wherever you go. Love is not rare, your heart is filled with a lot of love; spread it as you go forward in life. Every time you step forward, you should leave a path for others to follow. Whenever anybody ever thinks of you, they should have a smile on their face. Be that smile to everyone you meet in your journey of life.

I am proud of you, and will always be. Be good, do good and love Life!

With love and only love,

Your mom for life!

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Miles to Go Before I Sleep!

“Age is not measured by the number of candles on a cake but by the good moments you have spent so far ”- a saying I read long ago, but it seems so true when one is growing old or rather growing young! Yes, I suddenly felt very young today! I felt on my birthday today that I’m not old, and there are a lot of years ahead of me to dream, to pursue my dreams and make them come true too! As the clock struck 12, and my birthday began, a new trail of thoughts began, young and fresh thoughts, indeed!

I remember when I was a kid, until a certain age, I always thought that I would be a doctor one day. Though I didn’t share my dream with anyone, I knew that this would only be a dream, as I grew up. And for all this, I would blame the Biology textbooks, the difficult terminology they had, and the grouse frog-cutting experiments we did in the lab. No offence to any doctor in the world, I respect doctors a lot! But, becoming a doctor was not for me, and good that I was smart enough to realize that pretty early in life.

Teaching was the last profession that I ever thought of, and ironically, I am a teacher now! I thought that it was boring and stressful job on the face of the Earth. Well, if students felt so bored of the teachers, wouldn’t the teachers be bored of the students too?!! Or so I thought back then! All of a sudden when I was in college, one day when my teacher was explaining a Shakespeare’s sonnet, I fell in love! No, not with the teacher, but with Shakespeare! And that love made me concentrate more in English classes and I was hooked for a lifetime.

After that, all I wanted to study was Literature and all I wanted to do was teach. Now, when I look at children, I feel that I was so wrong when I was in school. It gives me so much pleasure when I’m teaching; sharing knowledge is so gratifying that it reaches the point of addiction.

Today, when I see the kids in the US, I feel that they are as confused as I was when I was their age. But, they have more reason to be confused than I had. They have so many more options here, in this country that it is really a task to decide what to do. I find it amazing that a Commerce student can go on to do his Engineering; an engineering student can become a doctor too. English major can take up Psychology, and a Psychology student can finish his degree in Math. The way the education system is designed in the US, you get to do at least one subject from all fields in your college.

Kids in the US who are really interested go on to fulfill their dreams by following the right educational avenue at any point of their life. It is so amazing for me, how I wish we had such facility back then, back in India. Then, I would have done Math and English together and majored in both. Because, I love Math, but English is my passion! Someday maybe I will make this dream come true too, that is, of doing another Masters in Math!

Well, all said and done, I have still not stopped dreaming! My dream is yet to be realized …my dream of becoming an author of short stories! Another dream of owning a unique school with a different curriculum! Or, another dream of inventing my own recipes and publishing a cookbook for my children and theirs too! A dream of travelling to all the beautiful places in the world with my family, and blogging about them! Dreams! Dreams and more dreams!

As age advances, new enthusiasm dawns, and new wishes erupt out of the mind, and a trail of dreams follow! I feel young today; I want to feel young tomorrow and in all the years to come. All people who know me dearly, my close friends too, know that it is so true of me to be saying this. For, only young at heart can dream and wait for a day for them to be fulfilled.

“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. “

Love is in the Air!

10458098_979112588789197_4611540665700539203_nValentine's Day-17

“Everybody, and everything has a time and place, ours is here and now!” someone special to me had given me that card while we were relishing an ice cream.He had confessed his love there and then! Love has been in the air since then,for sure!

Valentine’s Day was not known to us in my growing years; at least not in the place where I grew up, neither in Orissa nor in Andhra Pradesh. It was only when I was in the University that it started to dawn on everyone about this day, and that too when we looked at the greeting cards in the shops.

When I was in school and in my undergrad years, I never had any kind of ‘interest’ in boys whatsoever. For me they were just friends, some very close and some just acquaintances. I had a lot of friends, both boys and girls, but that’s all they were, friends!! While doing Masters,I knew the looks of the boys, I realized the feelings some developed, but I always had the ‘ignore’ button!! Not until he came along that I realized ‘Love’!

Valentine’s day would have been just another day for me, had it not been for my beau back then, now my husband. I received beautiful cards from him and I sent out equally beautiful ones, thus celebrating our togetherness, though far away from each other. That day and today, things haven’t changed much, but our relationship has! So glad that I’m after all married to ‘My Valentine’ that I had met 23 years back.

One Valentine’s Day that I’ll always remember is the one that happened to be two days before my wedding day! All of us, my family, my relatives, his family, and relatives, all of us were in the same wedding venue place , though put up in different rooms. I had long been wishing to celebrate that last one as a ‘valentine’ valentine, before forever becoming a ‘wifey’ valentine. Definitely not the same for sure! I thought that since we all were in the same place, I would get to have a quiet moment with him, but it never happened! So, I thought of sending him a card at least, which I had bought lovingly to hand it to him personally.

One of my cousins’ was the ‘cat with the bell’ and she went to give it to him. She came back to give me a shock! She delivered the Valentine card to my would-be mom-in-law as she couldn’t get to him! I just kept my fingers crossed that since the red envelope said in my handwriting ‘To Prasad, from Anita’, she would give it to him, after all !! It was a day after my marriage that my husband and I found the open envelope and the card in it, obvious that someone had opened it. And guess what, we found it in my mom-in-law’s handbag!! Rest is left to one’s imagination!

After coming to the US, I was so smitten by the big deal Valentine’s Day is for everyone. Pink and red flowers, pink and red dresses, beautiful Valentine cards, yummy heart shaped cakes, everything so very romantic! You feel the ‘love in the air’ everywhere, at least a week from Valentine’s Day, and it feels amazing! Even in schools, kids share valentine cards and candy shaped like a heart. Kids wear either red or pink to school and give out the cards to their friends and teachers. The meaning of this day has taken a new meaning in the hands of these little kids, as ‘love for anyone and everyone’ day! Sweet, indeed!


Another New Year!

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Another year passed me by. Another year came into my life today.

Every year on January 1st I feel nostalgic.I don’t know if it is because another year has passed by or because I’m older by another year! Jokes apart, I always have this strange feeling on new year…. I feel as if I have just opened a new dairy and all the pages in it are blank. Scary thought, right? But, it is so true!

When I was young as in when I was in school, or rather when I was a teenager in school, I would start writing in a dairy on the 1st of Jan. A dairy that my dad always bought me or gave me one of those that he would get as gifts from his friends, or colleagues.I did not have much to write, but write I did! I simply filled it with things that happened with friends or about my favorite teachers.

As I grew older, all I would write in my dairy were poems, and short romantic stories. I used to write quite a lot of them back then, more than what I do now. And then, when my special friend , now my hubby, entered my life, all dairies were filled with things about him, and about us.

One day, some years back when I saw my daughter writing in a dairy, I was surprised. I was surprised, not because she was writing one, but because I had long forgotten about dairy writing. I had stopped writing in a dairy when after marriage, I promised my husband that whenever I felt like writing something in a dairy, I would instead tell him or talk to him about my feelings. Sounded very romantic then, but later on, I realized that it is not possible to share anything and everything with anyone! And so I took to expressing everything through poems.

I think in every country, every girl has the same feelings..when there are things she wouldn’t want to share with everyone , she takes the help of a journal or a dairy. It also gives you that smug feeling that you have some secrets to yourself. I have never tried reading my daughters’ dairy nor would I ever want any parent to do that to their kids. Trust is important and so it should be!


To Do, or Not To Do!

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I have been thinking to write something right from the beginning of the year, but somehow, it got delayed and time just passed by… How could I have done this? Procrastination and me?!!! ‘Hamlet’ was never a part of me for sure! I have never procrastinated this way ever before and that’s what makes me think back today!

When I was in school, doing everything on time was the ‘in-thing’. All the teachers in the school were very strict too. If no homework was done, then one couldn’t sit in the class. And believe me, standing outside the class in the hallway, was the most embarrassing thing. Even though I was never in that situation, a lot of kids did go through that, but did come out alive to tell their tale!

It is good that kids here in the US are serious about their studies too. No procrastination, whatsoever! No late submissions, no skipping homework either, as all work is graded which shows up on the final report card. The teachers don’t accept late submission of assignments, projects or homework, unless the student is on a sick leave. Every student, well, almost every student, (there are always exceptions everywhere, right?) takes his or her studies and assignments seriously and does them regularly on time.

I have seen my older daughter, now in 11th grade; sit up till the wee hours of the night last year, to finish her homework, no matter how sleepy she is. No matter how early she has to wake up in the morning, (she wakes up at 5:30 AM), she never goes to sleep unless all the homework, all preparations for the class next day are done and all her books are tucked away into her backpack. Though, as parent, out of concern for her health, I do scold her for sitting up late, but deep down, the teacher in me admires her for not skipping her work just to have a good night’s sleep!

My younger daughter, when in elementary last year, would get a project to submit the next day, the tension she would go through to complete it would cost her and me to sit up late. She would only sigh with relief when her work was done, and was done perfectly!

As a teacher, I have seen this kind of enthusiasm in all students in all schools. From the brightest kids to ‘Oh-its-okay-to-get-F-grades’ kind of kids, all of them care for and respect time and deadlines for all their school work. I wouldn’t vouch for their chores at home, which they might not procrastinate but ignore altogether, but I would definitely vouch for their work at school, and sincerely appreciate them for it.

I don’t know how it works in schools in India now, but I am glad that my kids are studying in USA and have learnt punctuality and value of time!