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Profile photo of Anita Ayela Today and Always!

She is innocent and naive, she is warm and affectionate, she is loving and amicable, yes she is always described by double adjectives, as a single wouldn’t suffice or rather emphasize on her true form! Her determination is as strong as she herself is. A winner of singing in her college, a short story writer, she is always with a smile and whole-hearty laughter as she binds the family together! Never a tired look on her face, never saying no to any of her kids’ demands, never differentiating between her kids and their spouses, and never caring less for anybody, even if she is not treated well enough by them, she is perfect!

Some cook to eat! Some cook as a duty! And there are some who cook with passion and love! She is of the third kind. From soft idlis to yummy aloo parathas, from bisibelahulibath to spicy pulav, she has her own recipes and finesse. When the family members and the relatives alike, praise her food, her kids sure feel proud of her. With all the ingredients, all the aromas and fragrances, she adds her love to all the food that she cooks. Her bhel puris, or her vadas, her cakes or her mysore paks, if she makes it, they taste ultimate!

Some are fighters! Some are survivors! And still some are fighters and survivors! She is of the third category for sure! One kid as young as five and the others not too old either, she waving at them out the window of the cancer hospital just before the surgery is not an easy task.  And after a week or two later, walking out the door smiling at everyone needs a lot of courage too. A person who got worried if her kids even sneezed , a person who was too shy to do things on her own, a person when in college needed to be escorted home by her brothers from her friend’s house, that person  fought with cancer with all the strength, will power and determination.

If that is not enough, a diabetics for years and since then she has not tasted sugar nor has got tempted by sweets. A will power so great that she doesn’t feel shy to say ‘no’ to any sweetmeats offered by anybody anywhere. She walks her way to health every day and keeps herself happy always!

She is a role model to one and all. Whoever knows her loves her! She is a mom and only one of her kind!

http://godrejexpert.com/single_used_pack.php

Profile photo of Anita Ayela How beautiful is ‘Beauty’?!!

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I would say, “Miss America 2014 is Ms. Nina Davuluri, “…and the Indian Idol is Anjana Padmanabh”, “The Master chef for season three is Ripudaman Handa” in the same breath. For me all these are just reality shows, which I enjoy watching.

I agree unabashedly that beauty pageant shows for me are as entertaining as the film award shows, as in both we celebrate glamour and entertainment in its full form. I have watched these shows since childhood and they have never affected me in any way as a child. Neither did I ever think of going into movies nor did I ever think of ‘how-to-be-recognized’ for beauty! For me, as a child, they were just another type of competition with an iota of entertainment.

Just as there are reality shows for singing, dancing, showing different talents, so are these beauty pageants. There is nothing great about it, but then, it is reassurance of a young girl’s beauty by the world. Young women enter the beauty pageant expecting to change their bodies, and to emerge as good human beings. Winning a beauty pageant is a recognition and confirmation of the self-assessed beauty of the participants. They follow diets, exercise rigorously and groom themselves in all ways possible to become not only more beautiful but become a ‘beauty with brains’!

Reading about Miss America, Ms. Nina Davaluri, a Telugu girl, born to a traditional Indian family settled in the US, an important thing struck me! Her parents and grandparents are highly educated and are in respectable jobs. Nina has been a good student through school and wishes to become a Doctor one day like everyone else in her family. She has learnt Indian classical dance keeping the Indian tradition intact. So for people like her, winning a beauty pageant is just another achievement giving her an opportunity to showcase her talents and brains, along with her physical beauty!

If a kid has a good voice, we tend to put her/him in singing lessons, and if the kid has interest in dance, we put her/him in a dance school to polish their talents. So also, if a young girl is beautiful, and has groomed herself well, some parents think of beauty pageants. After all, a parent always wants their kid to reach heights, earn name and fame in a rightful way. I don’t feel that that is wrong in any way. But, yes, if the parent, right from the kid’s childhood, encourages the girl’s beauty and tells her that she is born to win a beauty pageant, then that is wrong. It totally depends on us as parents to explain to the kids about every walk of life. What our kids become or want to become depends on how we bring them up and what kind of culture we instill in them.

If we put aside the beauty being personified in these pageants, the instant recognition of the individual, and of course, the grand prize money, there is another important side to it. Beauty pageants, like film stars, are always in a position to do charity work and do fund-raising for the society for different causes. Along with their brains and beauty, comes a responsibility to the society they are living in for which they are bound if not forever, at least for one year from the day they wear the crown.

Giving back to the society in the guise of a beauty pageant is fair enough as long as it doesn’t affect the individual’s life in a negative way. Think of it as another form of competition, and so shall it remain! As long as they don’t harm the society by luring all youngsters into it, it is ‘beautiful’ enough!

Profile photo of Anita Ayela My ‘Booker Prize’!(Guest Blog)

A letter of Appreciation!

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I know that ‘Guest Blogs’ are a rarity in Personal blogs! But when this reader approached me and wanted to write a few words about this blog site and another, I was overwhelmed! Hope none of my friends think that I am boasting or showing off… it is just a thank you to my well wisher, the reader whose feedback has boosted my confidence in my writing ability! I feel as if I have won the ‘Booker Prize’ for my writings!

I need to say a few words about this review writer- he is doing his Bachelor’s In Civil Engineering, 3rd semester now.He is basically from Bhopal (MP),India and likes to listen to music and read good articles/blogs. And here is his encouraging review:

Hie My name is Md. Adil and I’m from India.

I read all the blogs on the website www.lifeintheusa.org and I’m quite amazed to see the work done by Ms. Anita Ayela.

With the permission of the author, I wanted to write a guest blog or rather my review of her writings instead of comments on her posts.

Even though she has been living in United States since 12 years she has not forgotten the Indian ethics, culture and the moral values which an Indian has.

Her blogs are based on factual description and daily events which is good. The blog which I loved the most was “Cyber Addiction” in which she stressed on how the kids are getting addicted to the Internet and gadgets which is true and closes the blog with words:

 “Well, come to think of it, can we blame the kids enough if we are reading this on a blog or e-magazine,on the laptop too and not in a physical book? What say guys?!”  … Which is quite ironic and true too…..

But apart from these blogs, I also read some fiction written by her in form of short stories here: 

http://aani001-mypages.blogspot.com/ 

She is a creative writer I must say, “The President’s Life” and “Goodbye” are really one of the awesome stories I have ever read.

Another side of the coin which I didn’t expect from her was poetry. “A Mother’s Concern” and “Wedding Bells” are a true piece of art.

 What to say now, she has mastered the most efficient fields of writing i.e. factual description, fiction and poetry. Even though she is a teacher by profession, she has done a great job in the field of writing.

Last but not the least I want to say that she is great writer and will definitely go a long way! 

Thank You 

Regards

Md. Adil

Thank you so much Adil! You made my day! 🙂

Profile photo of Anita Ayela Leftovers!!

You want mine, then buy it !

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Yesterday I went with a friend to drop off her old clothes and other stuff at ‘Just Between Friends’. I thought it was a donation store like Goodwill, but I was wrong. It was a place where they sell your old stuff for you, keep a percentage of the money and give the rest to you.

I was a little disturbed to see that even newborn baby clothes are being sold there. America is not a poor country, period. The Pontiacs, the BMWs and the Lexus cars outside this place was proof enough! But I wonder why they use used clothes when they can afford to buy good stuff at discounted prices as there is a sale somewhere or the other throughout the year in the US. This very concept of buying used clothes disturbs me as a mom, though it may be labeled as re-cycling by the Americans. Whenever I see garage sales for clothes, this disturbed feeling comes back to me again and again!

I can understand if toys or books are used again, but definitely not clothes. Whenever I go to the donation boxes to drop off old clothes or toys, I stand and think for a moment, “Am I doing the right thing?” I feel that I am giving a chance to those people to resell my used stuff. Back in India, when we donate something, we know that those go to the natural calamities’ victims or to the poor people and are not for sale!

It is true that branded clothes are very expensive, but who wants branded clothes for little kids?!! Even branded clothes can be got at clearance sales which all shops thrive on. I see some of the kids, in the schools I sub for, wear faded shirts and old pants and that too at the beginning of the school year. And the schools I am talking about are the private schools where the tuition is a hefty sum. When the parents can afford the fees, shouldn’t they be able to afford good clothes for their kids? And if they are not able to afford it, then public schools are no less in education, discipline or grooming of the kid. Well, of course, every parent has their priorities and decisions, so I leave it at that.

When we were kids, our clothes were not even passed down to the close cousins, in the fear that they or their parents would be offended. Passing down was only prevalent in the house among siblings. As I don’t have a sister, my clothes were limited and never lasted enough to be passed down. My brothers shared their clothes, and passed them down to each other too. I did that with my kids but only with the perfectly good clothes that could actually be passed down.

Passing down is one thing, buying used clothes is another. Now, how much hygiene is there in that, is a debatable question and so is best avoided. Of course, the clothes that I saw put up for sale in Just between friends place were cleaned and were in good condition. But the fact remains that they were used by some kid in some other family and now if you buy it, your kid would be using somebody else’s ‘left over’.

In India, leftover food and used clothes are given only to the poor people and that too as a donation. The concept of buying used clothes is a taboo or rather, is not heard of. Leave alone clothes, even furniture is not bought second hand by even middle class family. We buy it only if they can afford it. We believe in ‘Save money, live better’ the Wal-Mart way, rather than ‘Casual Luxury’ the Abercrombie way!

Every country has a different way of operating, I suppose. Every country’s people think differently, I believe. Being an Indian is being pampered I think, as we live life king size, a big king or a small king, is immaterial- dignity is what matters! This holds good for Indians in the US too!

 

Profile photo of Anita Ayela Finding Our Feet…

beach-feet-shutterstock_80497978-300x200 ‘Miss America is an Indian!!’

An unusual joy filled my mind when I learnt that Miss America 2014 is an Indian. When I heard her last name, I felt immense joy that she is from Andhra Pradesh. How does it make a difference to me? Why do I feel so happy about a total stranger just when I know that she is from my community? Isn’t this wrong? Is this what is called racism? I don’t know.

The feeling of alienation, the feeling that we are not getting our due recognition in a country which feeds us but is not our own, is always engraved into our souls. And when one person from our country achieves something in this alien country, the sisterhood feeling springs out. Nothing wrong, I would say. After all who doesn’t like recognition? And who doesn’t like to show off that we (read Indians) too can achieve something?

My childhood was spent in Odisha though I’m a Telugu speaking girl. I couldn’t say with confidence that I’m from Andhra when I was growing up. But since I did my higher studies in Andhra Pradesh and started working there, I have been able to face myself when I said that I’m from Andhra. I have never felt a part of odisha simply because I was not part of it, I just grew up there! If not for my dad’s State Gov job, I’m sure he too wouldn’t have liked to stay there for so many years, away from Andhra. In a bigger spectrum, now living in the US makes me feel that I don’t belong here and crave to be a part of India.

What is it that keeps us ticking in a place that is not our own? It is this very feeling of alienation and the craving to go back to your roots! The constant longing for our state, our country and our community is what keeps us hanging in there. It is natural human psychology that we crave for and long for something only until we get it. Once it becomes ours, we tend to forget its importance. We tend to forget the journey towards the destination, all we feel is relaxed that now we are where we want to be.

When in a new country, we focus more on the culture of our country. We teach our kids the tastes and customs of India and we tend to teach them our language and culture too. What is it that makes us do this? Is it just because we are scared that we will forget our culture or is it because we want to pass on our culture to the next generation? Maybe neither, it is because we love our country and miss being there that we try to create that world here.

It is 12 years now since we moved to the US, but we are still ‘moved’ by everything that is Indian. I have seen so many Indians in the US who are happily settled here, their kids settled here and they are leading a satisfying life as citizens. But then, when something happens in India, they feel for it, they cry their hearts out to be amongst theirour kith and kin in India.

Some may say that they don’t visit India anymore because there is nobody there for them, no parents or siblings, and no extended family. For some of us, once-in-two-years regime of going to India may be for our own pleasure and purpose. But for all of us, our hearts miss a beat when we watch the news of India and the disasters that are happening there. Isn’t this what is called ‘patriotism’ in the true sense of the word? When your heart beats for something, for someone, unconditionally, that is called love, and that is where love is and always will be! In our hearts, for our country, no matter where we are! Jai hind!

Profile photo of Anita Ayela Cyber Addiction

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(Published in www.bkhush.com as Bow your head and numb your fingers!   )

Recently I heard someone saying that though we have progressed so much, we bow our head even today like slaves-slaves to electronics. And that person was talking about ‘texting’ forever, heads down, eyes staring into the screen as fingers dance in tune!!

All kinds of screens have become the ‘in’ thing now, or as Gen Y kids would say ‘fad’!  All Apple products, all kinds of Tablets, smart phones, Kindle, all have the same effect on kids all over the world. I know that as the generation is growing and the technology is progressing, people from our generation need to understand and support the new generation. But easier said than done!

It becomes quite irritating at times, when kids are forever stuck to these screens. Especially when these screens join us at the dining table too, making weird noises of the arrival of SMS! I’m surprised how the fingers of kids have not gone numb by now by the frequency with which they are used typing messages back and forth!

I always wonder what is it that has pulled the kids away from the playgrounds, from the theatres or the books. I wonder when the playgrounds gave way to the laptops, the theatres to the tablets and the books to the Kindles! I believed that getting the reason out of the horse’s mouth would be the best thing and so I talked to some kids of friends and family.

Apeksha, 14 yrs old girl says “We prefer screen time because I think that a lot of the things that we do outside or at a friend’s house, we can now do on iPads, and cell phones, and main source of entertainment is now TV. The TV shows that are on TV now, are so much more real and relatable that, I think, that we kids feel that we don’t need to go outside and experience it we just want to watch it on the screen.”

I’m sure a lot of parents would have encountered this problem in the summer that passed us by-TV! Yes, TV becomes an integral part of vacation, wherever they are, be it home or holidaying in a hotel! They watch and watch and watch; repeats after repeat, making the parents scream in their heads but admonish the teenagers gently! I remember those days when India had just got TVs and the timings of telecast were fixed and so we had time to do other things too. All we had is one channel unlike the numerous ones that are available to our kids now, which obviously allows them to watch more. I don’t actually want to think what we would have done as kids if we had so many channels too. Maybe we too would have…

When I talked to another kid, Ria, 12 years old, she said

I think that kids/teens of today prefer screen time over playing outside because social networking sites such as Facebook, Google+. Twitter, Gmail.. (the list goes on and on.) allows us to talk to friends at any time, on the other hand, if someone was to play outside, your choice of playmates/friends would be limited. Also, social networking makes it easier to communicate and share thoughts and ideas. Websites like these allow kids/teens to say what’s on their mind without over thinking about what others will think of you (it gives them a form of confidence) because you are “talking” to a screen not a person.”

Well, well, kids do surprise me a lot these days. It might seem like a joke but, I have seen kids’ texting to each other in the same house too with just a wall to separate their bedrooms. I, as a parent, fail to understand how communication skills are used these days on these social networking sites and why kids need screens to boost their confidence levels. Human contact and human voices has become a rarity, at least for the majority of kids, or so say a lot of parents.

My daughter said, “Most of our teachers ask us to do our homework online and so we need laptops. No homework done means no grades. We are to type out our assignments and make PowerPoint for projects, how else do we do that if not on the computers? So, laptops and computers are a must for us.”

Now, there goes another teenager at my house, telling me that the laptop screen is a must to get grades. Now, do I have a say in that, if grades are important for us too. My memory of note books for homework, and pens and pencils for writing are slowly slipping out of my system, giving way to my kid’s way of writing and communicating! However much we as parents think of taking away all these ‘screens’ from the kids, it is not possible. It is like sending the kids into the stone-age when it is the requirement of the society to adapt to the changing technology.

We all know from experience how kids want the very thing that we don’t want them to have.Instead of trying to scream at them , snatch their iPhones or pull our own hair with helplessness, it is essential that we learn the importance of these electronics and then explain it to the kids the limitation of their usage.Maybe we need to have an eye on them while they use these electronics usefully, and set a schedule to use these ‘texting’ devices and ‘gaming’ equipment.And last but not the least, tell them the importance of meeting friends in person, taking part in sports or other extra curricular activities outside their bedrooms!!

Well, come to think of it,can we blame the kids enough if we are reading this on a blog or e-magazine, on the laptop too and not in a physical book? What say guys?! 🙂

Profile photo of Anita Ayela Back-to-School

 

After Summer What?!!

(Published in www.bkhush.com)

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“Oh no, summer is done, I need to go ‘back to school’ “Sofia says.

“Good, now I can go ‘back to school’” Shan says.

 

Some kids like school and some don’t and so the reactions may vary.But, being a mom, I know what a parent would say after a long two and half months of summer vacation!

“At last, the kids will go ‘back to school’! “A sigh and a big smile would cross their lips.

It might sound like the parents are cruel and don’t want the kids at home, but that is not the case. However much the parents love their kids, the ability and strength to control the kids 24/7 in the house, giving in to their tantrums, heeding to their suggestions and delivering their choices, is sure not an easy thing.

Out of their daily school routine makes the kids demand more time for sleep, play and eat. This disturbs the schedule of the parents and the kids too. Every day starts out late as the kids tend to sleep in, which is usually due to their staying up late along with their parents or siblings. Watching movie with the family or playing family games with the cousins, hypes up the energy level of the kids and they get used to staying up late.

Getting up late in the morning spoils their routine and the schedule of breakfast, and lunch too. The time that they play outside on a summer evening increases due to the long days and hence, the dinner time gets pushed back. Everything changes, the time for their bath, the time in the bath, the picking out of outfits, the fights between siblings, the pillow fights, the endless hair combing to the forever lying in the swimming pools, everything is timeless and endless.

The flip side of the coin is the enthusiasm the kids and the parents have regarding the new class and/or the new school that they would be going into once the school reopens in fall. The new books, the new backpacks, the new lunch boxes, are all an excitement in itself. And shopping for these keeps them on their toes and makes them happy. The advertisements and the back-to-school sales attract the kids and parents alike and hopping from shop to shop for the best deals keeps their time engaged for a while.

When I was a kid, most of my summers were spent in my grandparents’ house that we used to go visiting. All the cousins together used to fight for attention from our grandparents and wished to be their favorite grandkid forever. But when it was play time, we would just forget that it was scorching hot south Indian summer and play outside much to the anxiety of the elders that we would get a heat stroke. Most of our evenings would be spent sitting around our grandfather with snacks in hand, listening to his stories of cases he had dealt with as a judge in court. Or on other days, we would go with our grand mom, mom and our aunts to watch a movie.

But thinking of school again toward the end of the vacation was exciting too. I remember how excited I would get in my childhood, awaiting the re-opening of school. The back-to-school regime consisted of getting to wear new uniforms too back then. In new uniforms, with new backpacks, loaded with new stationery, going back to school was always fun for me. I also waited going back to school to see all my friends again after a long vacation.

Spending time with family is great in summer time, but going ‘back to school’ to a new grade with new things in tow is an achievement in itself. It always makes the kids feel more grown up and responsible, and this shows in their glowing faces and growing statures too!

Profile photo of Anita Ayela Festivities all around!

8149144784_c28eee8649_zDusserra’ was just round the corner, Halloween tricked us by, ‘Diwali’ is at a stone’s throw away and then, ‘Thanksgiving’ would march by. It is always overwhelming to celebrate so many festivals in the US. My kids enjoy all the festivals as much as I did when I was a kid.  Enjoying Thanksgiving and Christmas with friends is a very common sight in the US. Dressing up for Green hog day or for Halloween is part of life now. But, I feel that it is very important for our kids to know the significance of each of our Indian festivals too.
With the overwhelming festive season all around me, I thought that going with the flow would be exciting and so thought of sharing my thoughts about it. Festivals of any country reflect the culture and traditions of the people of that country. Every country has its own share of festivals and festivities. Come to think of it, we celebrate Halloween and we celebrate Diwali for two different reasons, but they are a little similar, the jack-o-lanterns replace the diyas. Isn’t it interesting to know that Halloween is celebrated to wade of the evil spirits in harvest season and we celebrate Diwali because we were rid of Narakasur, an evil demon?!!
Bringing up kids in a non- religious country like the USA is a difficult job, especially when we Indians are from a religious way of life. There is a certainty and clarity about birthdays everywhere. But, when it comes to festivals of India, most of the kids born and brought up in the USA don’t know much about them.  There are families who are religious and perform pujas religiously, but they fail to involve their kids. And there are yet some who don’t believe in rituals and so don’t celebrate any festivals. All they do is go to the temple once in a while and that too when the kids are at their dance class or at play dates.
Actually, there is always a feeling that people become more religious and follow rituals when they are out of their country or rather, in a foreign land. But it is not always true;this holds good only for a certain percentage of people, the ones that you see regularly in the temples. I strongly believe that wherever you are, kids need to know and follow the rituals of the house to some extent. My point is that if there is any festival celebration in the house, the kids should be involved. Let them know that Krishna was born on Janmastami, that Durga killed mahishasura on Durgastami, or why rakhi is celebrated and why Diwali is celebrated.
When we were kids, being brought up in the Orissa instead of Andhra Pradesh didn’t in any way hamper our celebrations of our festivals. Not only our Telugu festivals, but also we knew and celebrated the festivals of Orissa. ‘Sankranthi’, the harvest festival of Andhra was a big celebration for us in my house, as much as Jaganath Ratha Yatra was in the community. A festival called ‘rajjo’ which is celebrated for the girls of the house in Orissa was celebrated by my mom for me. It is said that Lakshmi , or Mother Earth, ‘comes to age’ on this day and so is celebrated by women  for 3 days. Obviously, being a curious girl, I always asked my mom specifically why any particular festival is celebrated. That very curiosity is missing in our kids today and as parents I believe that it is in my hands to arouse that curiosity or keep the knowledge of festivals intact in the kids’ minds.
The eating of sweets for festivals shouldn’t be the only thing in my kids’ minds, they need to know why modak is made on Ganesh puja, why neem and mango chutney is made on ‘Ugadhi’ which is Telugu New Year’s day. For me it is as important for them to know that I make nine varieties of sweetmeats on Sravan month’s Fridays , as they know that Turkey is cooked for Thanksgiving on a Thursday! And you bet, they do!
I remember when my older daughter was in Pre-school, I was volunteering for Easter there. I was surprised when a white lady, one of the kids’ parents asked me why ‘easter’ was celebrated. Thanking all my ‘Moral Science’ classes in school in India, I told her about it and she was as surprised to know about it from me as I was to know that she didn’t know!! I sure don’t want my kids to go back to India and ask people there why ‘Sankranthi’ is celebrated or why we play with colors on ‘Holi’.
My daughters don’t have a brother, but they know the importance of Rakhi and tie one to their cousins. My kids search the moon for me from amongst the Seattle clouds for my ‘Karvachauth’ as much as they search for Halloween costumes in the stores. They love going to the temple for Diwali to play with ‘sparklers’ as much as they love to watch the July 4thfireworks. Isn’t that what it is all about, mould ourselves to the country we are in, though keeping our country’s culture intact?!!

Profile photo of Anita Ayela "Electronically Yours"

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I sat down one day with all work done and totally bored! I thought of catching up with friends and/or cousins, whoever is good enough to pick up my call! After half an hour of talking to every lady on the ‘voice mail’ of every phone I tried, I gave up! Looks like no human voices are available anymore to talk to, it is all electronics dear!
I see my teenager always playing with her fingers on her touch screen mobile and wonder what is it that she texts away. When the curiosity has killed the cat to a total pulp, I jump at her and ask her one day, “what’s it that you text every minute?” “Well mom, whatever we want to talk, we text.” “And why so?” I ask, not understanding the concept at all. “Oh, it is easier to text than talk and anyways, phones are so outdated mom!” She surprises me a lot these days!
It is very surprising for me to even think that people don’t want to talk with each other anymore. I see even spouses’ text each other sitting in the same room. Oh well, they are in a party and maybe want to share some ‘sweet nothings’, I console myself. But, this might not be the case always. Someday, when you peep into the mobile of the lady next to you in a party texting to her husband, you might be knocked out. “Did you put your clothes in the dryer before coming here?” or “where did you leave the salt container last night after your drink party, I didn’t find it in the morning when cooking?” could throw all your ‘lovable’ assumptions to the wind.
I know of people close to me too who love to write emails rather than talk. They would rather chat with you electronically than speak with you over the phone. Now-a-days, a lot of families, where husband and wife both work, they don’t even have a phone connection at home. They manage with their cell phones or tablets or iPads as all they want is to text with one hand and drive with the other. Or sit in the meeting and text under the table, even if they have to do it with one hand.
I vividly remember when I was a kid, and having telephone in the house was a rarity but we had one at home, and it was so special. I used to call up my friends for some doubts in homework and end up talking about all things irrelevant to our studies. It was fun sharing incidents, joking about school in general and boys in particular. Do kids today share this joy anymore? Wish they did!
It wouldn’t be exaggerating if I said that I have a lot of cousins and friends in this country and I haven’t heard their voice in ages now. I see their pictures on social networks, I get to know about their well being in emails, we wish each other on birthdays and anniversaries electronically. Now, they exist only electronically for me, no more any ‘human’ touch to them.
For me, spoken words are special. . I love to meet people and I love to talk; I love to listen to people talk too. How I wish we would go back to those days when talking over the phone long-distance was an achievement by itself. Now all I hear people saying is that “Phone is a bad way to reach us, try email or texting!” The phone is exclusively for the ‘telemarketers’ now, isn’t that so?
In spite of all this, I still call up my parents, my brothers and my close friends and talk for hours! And of course my husband is always a ‘phone call away’. We still sit and talk to each other and laugh our hearts out when we are together every day! I would love it to be this way for ages to come, so that ‘Electronics’ is some distance away from my family and ‘voices’ are heard always!

Profile photo of Anita Ayela Thanksgiving!

thank-you

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’ her 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 your 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 kids.

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 real ‘giving’ respect 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!”