The Perfect Place

Buying a house is a big deal - where ever you are. Unless of course, this is the twenty sixth one and you're just closing the deal on the next. It is a big deal, if it's still not your house number ten. So at least for the next ten years, it would still be a big deal to all of us. 

We're all growing up - and settling down. And an important aspect of settling down, is finding that right abode you would want to live most your life in. Now in our case, both Ady and I are nomads. We can't stay in one place for more than two years. That's why we've made so many weird investments and arbitrary decisions. But we're ok with our decisions and our weirdness.

But Sirisha and Suresh had wanted a house they could call their own, ever since they were married. With their jobs at different locations, different priorities, the dream seemed to elude them for sometime now. Until ofcourse, they found their perfect paradise just before the predicted Mayan destruction. They're optimists, the two of them and they went ahead with the purchase. Even if it was going to be the last day - they were determined they'd spend it in their own haven. 

And why not? It truly is a beautiful house and they've done a fabulous job finding the right decor too. 

To us friends, who were invited, it was a reunion of sorts. I never thought I'd ever meet so many of my under-grad friends together in one place after the farewell party. But this meeting by chance, was such a pleasant surprise! It was great meeting the buds with their better buds. Now all of them are married, with wonderful spouses. Some have kids. Looking back, going through all those ragging sessions in college, memorizing all those chemical equations, just to pass the exams, bunking classes and cramming for notes at the last minute left memorable moments. We may not have had all those moments back in discussion here, but we did have a glimmer of hope that we would be seeing a lot of each other soon and we could just pick it up from where we left it. 

Here's to great occasions, great memories, and great friends! Congrats once again guys, on finding your perfect place and making us a part of it! Loved the house.

Through the Birthdays

"Vasu, get up. We have to go to the temple. Get up, get up!" Mom would urge. She'd then come back and immediately kiss me on my forehead. "Happy birthday, darling". As a kid, my birthday started with a head bath, prostrations to God, Grandparents and Mom and Dad. Mom would wake me up extra early in the morning. "It's supposed to be a day I'm pampered not tortured", I would whine shoving the blanket on the bed and getting up. "You're pampered everyday, today's torture is worth it" Mom would smile.

It was a ritual at home - to visit the temple on the 20th of Feb or as dad put it 'English Birthday', and on my Star birthday, 'Real Birthday'. Dad wouldn't actually care for the English birthday as much as for the variable star. He always gets confused between 20-2 and 22-1, his wedding anniversary. Mom ensures he never forgets 20-2. I don't know when my real birthday is this year,  but I'm sure Mom and Dad would visit the temple and do that 'Archanai' thing for my well-being. 

I don't remember actually cutting a cake or going out with my parents. That was all only with friends. All cakes had egg or that's what mom believed and dad did not like 'outside food'. I would get a new dress to wear and my dad would hug me and hold me a little tighter than usual. He'd say he is worried that I am growing fast and he'll have to get me married soon. I'd push him aside and say "I'm never going to get married."

As the priest performed the Puja, Dad would check his watch, time for my bus. We'd rush home in a hurry, Mom would have made something sweet and she'd stuff it down my throat before I got on the bus. Everybody in class would sing 'Happy Birthday' and I would distribute the chocolates dad packed.

As I entered my teen years, I would go out with friends. Dad would sponsor the 'treat' for my friends and maybe we'd get to catch a movie. Mom would still stuff 'kesari' or 'laddu' down my throat and still wake me up early in the morning. Sometimes, friends would come in too early to wake me up and Mom would only be pleased not to be on the receiving end of my cribbing session. After the 'treat' in the evening, Mom would wait for her veggie puff and Maaza. She'd then ask me about all the friends who came, trying to sniff out any guy names. She could never succeed sending sis along as her spy.

And when I moved to Jamshedpur - to study, it was a completely different experience. Birthday was a mock marriage ceremony, and a  late into the night party. Breakfast, lunch and dinner at 'some affordable restaurant that could beat the mess food' - essentially any place that sold food- was the norm.

Since Jamshedpur, I've never actually gone to the temple on my birthday, never actually gotten up so early and never pushed Dad's embrace. But each birthday was a milestone. I was getting older, not necessarily wiser, but I got a lot closer to understanding my family and friends. My grandparents would call - no matter where they were and wish me a long life. My aunts would call me up and say how much they're missing my 'bossing over them'. Cousins would tread the path carefully - if they didn't wish - they'd know they're bringing it onto themselves.  Best buds would always  drop in - no invitation required. Sometimes with gifts, sometimes demanding gifts.

I didn't keep my promise to Dad and did get married after all. And with marriage came cakes, flowers and surprises. The guy in the toughest of all jobs - of being my husband always does something special to make the day splendid. I did want the Mayan prediction to come true  sooner, when I was still in my twenties, but then I guess it's all worth it!

Today, as I am still asleep, deep in my dreams, she comes running plonking between Ady and me. "Happy Birthday Mamma. Get up! Get up!" "Thanks Driti. But it's only 6!" 
"It's your birthday! Get up Mamma, Get up!" And the phone rings. That's my mother alright! 

It's going to be a very long day and thanks to all the good wishes from friends and family, it's going to be a wonderful one too!

The Little Things that Matter

It all started off as just another eventful day in our lives. Ady made breakfast, I called some customer service guy and spent a good half hour spelling and re-spelling my email id, repeating my questions at different paces, and then finally giving up - I wanted to preserve the last calorie of energy in my body.

Ady dropped D at a birthday party and came back home, because, well, she may have as well asked him to. 

And then, when she finally did decide to come back home, she plonked on the bed, and was sound asleep.  The party must have been exhausting. Aahh... the precious moments before a storm. We had to leave for a friend's house, so when D got up, she noticed she was no longer on her bed. She brushed her hair behind her ears and walked right out of the couch and surveyed the entire place before actually going to the toys that my friend's kid was playing with. 

He's just over a year old, so D was the 'grown up' between the two of them. The two were playing pretty well, when all of a sudden the little boy pulled D's hair with all his might. I expected D to scream and shout and maybe push the child. But... D did not utter a sound. Not a sound. She was quiet the whole time - as if nothing was bothering her. I was shocked. Ady was speechless. Our friends were worried for D and reprimanded their kid, but our darling -she just stayed put. This was unusual - even by D's standards.Now, I know D stopped hitting a long time ago, but anybody in her place would have retaliated. I know I would (so be careful, before you pull my hair). 

On the way home, I had to ask her. "D, why did you not shout or scream when the little boy pulled your hair?"
"Because Mamma", she started "he's small. And I am a good girl". 
That was all- plain and simple. I had tears in my eyes. It was a parenting moment for me. How could this wonderful and patient kid be from my gene pool? I was amazed. Ady, who was listening to our whole discussion, preempted my thought. "My genes" he smiled proudly. 

We reached home, and I was still a proud mother. I should have had some contribution in bringing her up?  And as soon as she washed her hands, she came rushing to me. "You know Mamma, Cream is the baby of the Soap", she said, spilling the liquid soap all over the place.  "There", Ady said, "that's all your genes"

But I did not react. I learnt from my kid. She is small. And I am a good girl

The Independent Child

I’ve lost count of the number of people who've told us that we are very lucky parents - we have an independent child, who does not need us constantly. And I think, Hmm.. maybe we are lucky for a change. Maybe there is a silver lining to the daily marathon routine of running behind ‘the independent child’, mending all the broken toys, screaming to get her attention, asking her not to scream to get our attention, and then longing to have one telephonic conversation, without  her tugging at my shirt and screaming “Mamma, Mamma”. Yes, ours is an extroverted independent child.

Our almost four-year-old will never come anywhere close to us, if there is another being in the vicinity. Any other child or adult, a cat, a dog, a baby, a cartoon on TV, a squirrel will all supersede us. We would slip away to the last on her priority list if there’s anything around that displays life. Driti only needs us when there is nobody else.

After yesterday’s party and hearing everybody rave about the social butterfly we had nurtured unwittingly, (he’s an introvert and I am an ambivert. No idea how she came along) I could not get off cloud number nine, until of course, D decided I had had enough.

I had to run some errands today and had to travel downtown. Driti’s play date had to cancel as the little girl had caught a virus. I still had to run those errands and I thought it was ok to get Driti along.  I took her to a couple of stores and she started crying as we entered the third. “I don’t want to shop anymore. I want to play”. I could have as well brought Ady along. The exact same words - just, from a shorter person. A child of the fairer sex does not want to shop. Ladies and Gentlemen, I think we have the eighth wonder of the world.
Anyway, I coaxed and bribed her into visiting the last store. I promised I’d take her to the Children’s Museum, she loves so much. And the world was peaceful again.  As we reached Armory, and I saw Starbucks, I had to have mocha and Driti had to have something sweet in pink.  So we had a never before moment of only the two of us savoring something we really liked – together.

She finished hers fast, and my mistake, I loved the mocha a little too much. I just about took the second last sip when I lost the trail of the blue and white dress. Where on earth did she go? I ran down frantically to the museum. She knows her way around this place, so I assumed she took off without me. I asked the receptionist if she’d seen an Indian kid, then the cashier, and the manager. Nobody had seen a child that could appear to belong to me. I climbed up again, screaming for her. And I could hear her scream for me too. The screaming practice did help after all. 

When I found her, she was surrounded by five adults all trying to trace the careless mother who had abandoned an innocent child in a busy food court. Driti had run to a play area with all the toy cars! I had completely missed this on the way down. I still couldn't see them, till she actually pointed it out. And in her process of searching for me, the social butterfly had spoken to three ‘aunties’ and two ‘uncles’. She had also told them that I had had mocha and she, a pink cake pop. They also had useful information that we lived in Seattle, were born in India, although we’re actually born from monkeys. They knew that Flora was sick and had to cancel her play date. She also told them that she made pasta yesterday and her sisters and brothers love her.

When I got hold of the kid, the adults started chatting with me. “Your daughter is very interactive. She told us about all your kids”. I smiled. “Yeah. I just have the one. The rest are her cousins in India”. By the time we went back down to the museum, the receptionist had informed security and the blue and white dress girl was being tracked. She heaved a sigh of relief as soon as she saw us.

And it got me thinking, no matter how independent your child is, you can never be independent of her. You’re wired in to panic for her, make a relentless effort to search for her, although you know that she would be safe and screaming for you. Although all the people in the food court may end up knowing your family history, your little one will still be searching for you, and she may as well have all of them searching for you too. I am glad she can find her way. But I am blessed that she still needs me and reassured that the 2.5 feet explosive will always get me to worry for her. Yeah, reassured! :)

Very Inspiring Blogger!

Judith Van Praag made my day! It was a casual Meetup that led me to this incredible woman, who's so full of ideas, so well connected, and oh so beyond helpful! So being recognized by this multi-talented Dutchess Abroad, is truly amazing. Her blog, Hope Filled Jars, is an awesome place to hang out and I truly recommend it. Now, it's my turn to pass the baton.

I've never met Denise McGee. But, I have only the nicest things to say about her. She's recently published her book, One Small Touch which is available on Amazon. This lady is a repository of information in herself! I had casually reached out to her without expecting a reply and boy, did she floor me! She is a super woman, who loves sharing all her knowledge! Thank you Denise!

Kalpana Behara, from back home is a great blogger, super mom and a fun lady to hang out with. I like reading about her Little World and admire how she handles all those responsibilities and 'chores' with super ease and excitement. 

Krishnamurthi, aka JK is a quiz stud, a wizard with words, and has an amazing wit to boot. His blog, Mango Indian (the literal translation of Aam Aadmi) is a 'straight from the gut' take on the world as he sees it. You have to stop by to see what I'm talking about!

Honoree, here are the steps for joining the Very Inspiring Blogger Award/Very Inspiring Blog rolls:
1) Thank and link the blogger who has nominated you.
2) Then post the award logo to your blog.
3) Write a post on the nomination and nominate other very inspiring bloggers.
4) Notify them and then tell seven things about yourself.

So here are 7 things about me:

1. I'm learning to be patient, thanks to my daughter - who was named Driti (patience) to aid the process.
2. The portion in the brain that helps in understanding topography is missing in mine.
3. I hate driving, am a horrible navigator because of 2 above. If you read my earlier posts you'll know why I wanted a license that bad.
4. The only 'sport' I am into is running. Every other sport to me is a waste of time.
5. I am an idli and curd(yogurt) rice devotee. Even if we go to a fancy restaurant or an Italian joint, I need to have my night's curd to sleep well.
6. Although a Tamilian by birth, I love watching Telugu movies.
7. I am a vegetarian who hates butter, paneer, peas and potato and am married into a North Indian family who's grocery list is incomplete without these items and then some chicken.

Yay! I got my License. I don't have to drive anymore!

Ok, those who know me know how much I hate driving and how much I dread these American roads and the speeds here. I am so used to driving at 40 KMPH (my Schumacher speed) in India that 40MPH here scares the freakin' life outta me. And the cars... there is no Maruti 800 here! The smallest car that we could use with Driti is a Civic or a Corolla. I can't see the bonnet!

But I had to get the license. Why? In case of emergencies, and in case I really need to drive Driti to her classes. I had postponed the test appointment a number of times and I had to get the license before my Indian license lost its validity here soon. 

The driving classes showed steep prices and anybody who saw me drive suggested a minimum of 12 classes. Now 12 classes at $60 an hour.. yeah.. steep!, and that's still the minimum. So I thought to myself, I really can't be that bad! So I did my own research and called a desi guy from the advertisement at a Bellevue mall. Now this guy, was supposed to travel all the way from Redmond, to teach me for two hours (his minimum requirement was 2 hours at $50 an hour) and he also promised to pick and drop me from my apartment. Dream coach! That's what I thought too, until, he came, he saw and didn't come back. 

First, he didn't let me touch the steering wheel. He gave me a theory class (I had already passed the knowledge test and aced it.. yeah baby..was out in 20 questions, did not have to sit through the rest) for an hour and the other hour, he held the steering wheel for me! C'mon it's a driving class, not a thrill ride, where I just sit and hold the steering wheel and gape at the view ahead, while somebody else is spinning the wheel! I didn't need an instructor for that! I could have asked Ady instead. But the thing is, the husband always freaks and freaks you out! So Ady was not an option - atleast not at the time. 

After the first class, the wierdo called me from Redmond and said it takes too much time for him to come to Seattle and he cannot do it going forward. Really? It's very far and you did not know it? I told you the day I called you! Anyway so $100 down the drain. 

I then enrolled into another school which had some really great reviews. I joined the school and ok, the guy had patience, but I could not understand his accent at all! Somehow, I stuck around for fear that Ady may think I'm just trying to dodge the driving bullet as much as I can, and I completed the 8 classes. He said I needed some more practice and suggested 8 more. 

Ady wanted me to get the license so the load on him to drive all the time would be off. He also wanted to find a quick solution for my excuse of not being confident enough to drive because I didn't have a license. To him the solution was - getting the license.

I told him that the instructor said I needed more time and Ady rubbished it saying that's what instructors said! He booked the following Wednesday for my test and decided to do a sample test of me himself on Sunday. And was he shocked! Well shocked is an under statement. He was speechless and he made me stop the car within 500 feet of where we started. I clearly was not prepared. But he did not want to discourage me, so he said, "Let's give it our best"

My best was given at the driving test in Greenwood. The tester asked me to parallel park and for all the  manoeuvres I had mastered, this was definitely not the one. He screamed "Stop!", when I was about to pull the car front. (I had surprisingly parallel parked well, only I did not know I had successfully parked it) He said any closer and I would bang into the car in front. You know, I think his seat was pulled too much in front, so he could just not relax. I wouldn't have hit the car! Although, coming to think of it, my gear was in drive and not in reverse. But I still think it would have been ok!

So I flunked. And Ady made it a point to call my dad and discuss with pride that I had finally failed a test in my life. My Dad didn't take it lying down either "Well, Son" said the proud father, "She never failed till the time she was with me" That did it! Ady took it on himself to teach me. He said the driver did not know how to deal with me and that, as a person who knew me inside out, he was the only dedicated resource for the task. Every night, after coming back from office, he religiously coaxed Driti and me for a drive. "Why should Mamma get a license?" Driti would crib "I like the bus" and I would join "Yeah, we like the bus." But Ady was insistent. He made it his duty to teach me to drive. 

And today, as we went to North Bend for the driving test, he asked me to go on a test run before the actual test. He still had no confidence I would clear the test. But he tried not to show it and kept pumping me that I could in fact clear the test. 

The last time I remember being so tensed was when I was waiting for my MBA entrance results. The lady asked me to stop the car in the middle of the test and take a deep breath. She said, "It's only 15 minutes, we'll survive" And she was amazing! She made me relax through out and was completely patient with me. I did make a few mistakes but nothing 'dangerous' as in my first test. I passed the test and she gave me some more tips on driving like a pro! 

I saw Ady go back into the driving office when he saw the tester talk to me at length. He decided I did not make it. I played along and went in with a sullen face "Doesn't matter. Next time!" he tried. And I said "I made it, and thanks for your trust in me" He was like the proud dad, ok proud husband. He hugged me then and there and exhaled in vilom. That yoga breath, from his anulom-vilom practice was real strong and I had to hold him tight to avoid falling. 

"I got my license" I smiled "Now I don't have to drive anymore" 
"Yay!" Driti jumped. She was the silent spectator after all for our nightly drives. And 'silence' is the biggest punishment she could get. 
"You're the only person in this world who would use both those sentences together" he hugged me some more.