Happenings

Can you believe – the last “Happenings” post I wrote was all the way back in January 2017! Looks like I have become this fabulous lady who only opens mouth when there is something profound to say. ūüôā

Anyway. All that is about to change.

It is spring break for the girls this week. I took the week off (in theory) but have been working at least a half day on most days. What to do? Have big meetings Monday through Thursday next week (yikes!). Better to prepare than to show up and sheepishly declare that I was on vacation last week, no?

Visited DC¬†at the start of spring break for four days. Attended an Arijit Singh concert (Man, what a voice, and¬†what super high energy – jumping constantly and singing perfectly at the same time! Cannot believe that he¬†and I are¬†of the same species). The concert was phenomenal. Little N knew most of the songs and was singing along the whole time (super cute, but I was sitting¬†right next to her so¬†couldn’t take a video of her singing along¬†without her knowing). N knew some of the songs and sang along with gusto when he could. Little A and I knew very few, sang along here and there,¬†but mostly¬†kept focusing on our sniffles and how loud it all was (sound mufflers¬†next time, for sure!).

Met with our college classmate G and her family at their home in Virginia after over 15 years. Was so fun to catch up, even though¬†our¬†visit (pop in at her place pre-Arijit)¬†was super short. She’s promised to visit us in May on her way to pick up her son from college in NY. Looking forward to catching up some more.

It’s certainly been a time of catching up with long lost friends. Met¬†up with my high school classmates (last saw two of them 29 years ago!)¬†just before spring break started.¬†Was¬†so lovely. One of them, A, has been in the UK for several years now. Was super fun listening to her British accent. ūüôā

DC just blew me away (again). We visited the Newseum, the US Capitol, and the Library of Congress. I learnt so much about so much that my brain hurt (blasted pollen allergies didn’t help, I am sure). Visited two lovely bookstores (Kramerbooks and Amazon books), and dined at the¬†super duper¬†Rasika and Bindaas (the girls got the total desi experience this trip, and interestingly, neither one complained once).

Had breakfast¬†multiple times at¬†a lovely little diner in Arlington. Left my¬†favorite fall coat at the diner (and only realized it was missing when we were half way back to NJ). I’ve always loved that coat –¬†N got it for me as a present years ago, and people have always complimented me on how chic it looks. Was a bit¬†upset at having been so careless to leave it behind and walk away, but it is¬†quite old so perhaps it was¬†time to say goodbye.

I went grocery shopping (alone) after we returned to NJ. After all, the others in my family don’t think¬†that Patel Brothers is where¬†the action is¬†at (but I certainly do). So. I returned from shopping and¬†saw that¬†N¬†had gone out somewhere.¬†Turns¬†out, he had gone shopping to¬†surprise¬†me with a¬†new coat to replace the lost one.¬†How very sweet that that was the first thing he did after driving continuously for over four hours, no? Still, I made sure to yell that I would like to go along for coat shopping¬†next time. That, I had to do. ūüôā

Have scheduled eye doctor and dentist appointment for the girls left, right and center.¬†Nothing wrong with a little productivity¬†while on break.¬†Little N was ready to choose between My Little Pony and Cinderella stickers at the eye doctor’s office, but they finally didn’t offer her any this year (I think the cut off age for stickers¬†might be¬†16). ūüėČ

Little N is deep in the throes of studying for APs and¬†participating in extracurricular competitions,¬†with some¬†outings with friends¬†thrown in between. Makes for one busy cookie!¬† Little A is churning out some masterpiece drawings (if I say so myself), baking yummy goodies, hanging out with friends, visiting N’s work (for take your child to work day) and training W (good luck with that!).¬†I love¬†seeing her creative mind at work (especially since I¬†struggled so much¬†with art during my school days).

Allergies (did I mention them before?) are going on full blast. Tried Claritin and Acupuncture (ha, useless crap!). Onto Zyrtec now. It’s worked well for me in the past, but knocks me out quite a bit as well. Anyway, have time for naps this week (remember, only working half the day this week, if that?)

Have three more days of spring break left.

Savoring. every. second.

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Sale

Amma moved to the US in April 2011, after Appa passed away. Since then, our apartment (“flat”, as it is called in India) has either been vacant or¬†has been occupied by¬†a tenant. We have not lived there since 2011. Indeed, I¬†have not been a permanent resident of our flat since September 1994. But that’s where I lived from 12 to 21 years of age.

Amma has been looking to sell¬†the flat, off and on, for¬†at least¬†three years now. People have asked me if I would miss the house when it’s sold. I have¬†replied immediately and (I now realize) quite flippantly, “No, not really. The memories are all in my head. I don’t think I will miss the physical space.”

We now have a potentially serious buyer. Amma has been talking to them for a couple of weeks. Since it looks like the talks are progressing well, I started a WhatsApp group this evening for the buyers, me and V so that we can all join in the conversation.

Suddenly have¬†the distinct feeling of “s&*t just got real”.

They seem to be good people. But it hits me that, at the end of the day, we will be saying goodbye to the home that my parents bought with so much effort and so much anticipation. The home where¬†I (ahem!) became a “big girl”, shed tears of joy upon hearing that I got a state rank in the 10th grade, helped carry many kodams of water in from the¬†tank outside, and eagerly welcomed Thatha and Paati whenever they visited. The home with the lovely mottai madi from where we could see other rooftops for (what seemed like) miles. Where V and I spent hours watching movies on weekend nights with the neighbors, chased away crows and watched over vadams,¬†studied¬†all hours,¬†and¬†sometimes complained to each other about our parents. ūüôā

Too many memories to even start telling you.

It is true that¬†my memories¬†are all fabulously safe¬†in my head. But boy, did they come flooding out tonight, at the first appearance of a potential buyer.¬†I don’t know if this sale will indeed go through. It is still too early to tell. And I am happy that we are on this path. Amma has taken a lot of effort to find¬†a suitable buyer.¬†We don’t any of us live in India anymore. This is the most desirable (and sensible) outcome – for us to sell the house now and move on.

I know. I know.

Nowhere near the same context, but I am suddenly reminded of these words from Kabhi Kabhi:

Main janta hoon meri hum-nafas, magar yoon hi, kabhi kabhi mere dil me khayaal aata hai

ūüôā

Beautiful

First of all, hello. I have been gone from here, man, for almost seven weeks! The longest ever hiatus for me, I think. Not busier than usual or anything like that. Just that nothing happened that I absolutely needed to share with you. Is it because the cuddlebugs are now 16 and 13, and awwww moments are getting fewer and far between? Maybe, maybe. But something came up yesterday and I immediately thought of you.

Little N and I usually listen to the radio on our way to school. She chooses the station while I drive, so most everything we hear is new to me. I always ask if it’s Beyonc√© or Drake that’s crooning away (gotta show my knowledge, no?). But of course, mostly it is not. And I get that special roll of the eyes from my little N. So. Yesterday, we were listening to “Beautiful” by (the internet tells me) Bazzi. While I couldn’t understand most of the words, I latched onto¬†this catchy line “Beautiful, beautiful life right now”.

Totally appealed to the psychoanalyst in me.

Do you¬†know, in real time,¬†that life is beautiful right now? I mean, it is very easy to know when¬†life is¬†sucking. That I have no¬†trouble with. I have looked back on beautiful moments in my life – getting married, the birth of my kids, getting promoted at work, etc. But¬†realizing that I am having a beautiful life right now, hmmmm… is that a thing? Do I need to be more aware and in the present to appreciate the beautiful life¬†as it’s happening?

I wondered all this aloud to little N (I know, my kids put up with a LOT). She (who is having a particularly busy week and had been wondering if her class should approach a scary teacher about postponing a submittal) was nowhere close to a beautiful moment or anything like that. She gave me the look. Plus, we had reached her school by then. So I let her be.

But you, you are right here. What do you think? Don’t tell me that I should just go back to not writing. I am having¬†none of that.¬†ūüôā

Perspective

The jerk store called. They ran out of you.” ~ George Costanza in Seinfeld

Little N used to take the bus to school. But I give her a ride on most days now. It gives her an extra 20 minutes of much-needed sleep. I love driving with little N,¬†and chatting about anything and nothing. This morning,¬†the conversation¬†steered towards violin performances. Little N smiled. “Mommy, remember¬†the time in 5th grade when I¬†messed up my¬†solo¬†a couple of times in Miss L’s class?”.

Oh, did I remember.

I have thought about that particular performance of little N’s several times¬†over the intervening years.¬†After a group performance,¬†Miss L¬†gave her students the chance to play solo the¬†piece that they were¬†currently learning. Some kids¬†couldn’t wait to show off, while others hung back. I, seeing that little N was not raising her hand, called out “Oh, Miss L, Neha would¬†like to play her solo”. That moment features¬†amongst my most cringe-worthy moments as a parent (unfortunately, there are quite a few of those). Really do not understand¬†why I was so clueless and pushy. But there I was.

So. Little N stepped up, entirely unprepared (and likely rattled by sudden pushiness from mom),¬†and played the piece that she¬†was then learning. Perfect it was not. She missed¬†hitting the right notes a couple of times but performed bravely and with poise.¬†But¬†I didn’t¬†stop there. I ranted all the way back in the car about how she didn’t take the initiative when Miss L asked the kids to perform the solo, and then, how she did so badly. I lectured on and on (and on) about¬†practicing more and performing well. N told me a couple of times¬†that I¬†was way out of line¬†and should shut the he!! up (I always do so much better when I listen to him, really).¬† But I was too far gone that day to listen to any voice of reason.¬†I continued to¬†holler¬†away heartlessly at my munchkin for¬†not delivering excellence¬†under pressure.

And now, here we were, 6 years later. Driving along to school on a mild winter morning,¬†with little N asking me if I remembered that performance. “Mommy, I remember¬†you roasted me so hard on the¬†car ride back from that performance in Miss¬†L’s class.” I waited.¬†Little N continued, “I totally deserved it. I remember I did so badly.” I told her how I have thought back to that day¬†many times with a lot of regret and how¬†insane¬†it was¬†to have¬†pushed a 5th grader that hard. “That’s ok, Mommy.¬†Sometimes, you need to do that. It’s not like I am traumatized or anything.”, she smiled reassuringly at me.

The fact of the matter is, I behaved like an ass that day. No two ways about it in my mind (sadly, I know that you agree too).

All things considered, though, little N’s gracious take on¬†the incident¬†makes me so happy. ūüôā

13

My little A turns 13 tomorrow.¬† Cannot believe that we will now have two teenagers in the house!!¬†¬†We¬†will celebrate tonight¬†with a houseful of¬†her friends¬†(and one crazy puppy). We are planning a visit with little A to a local art store (thanks to my friend B for the suggestion)¬†so she can¬†pick out¬†some special art supplies as her birthday present.¬† Little A can wander around an art store for hours, inspecting their wares with a discerning eye and choosing her goodies carefully. She is super excited about our outing, and that makes me so excited too. Hmmmm…. maybe¬†I¬†should also try my hand¬†at creating some art (especially since I don’t seem to be blogging much these days).

Wishing you¬†a wonderful 13th birthday, my babycakes!! May all your dreams come true and may you have the bestest year ever! Lots of love, Mommy ūüôā

My 19 for 2019

I came up with my 19 for 2019 – a list of 19 things that I would like to do in 2019. I also came up with an 18 for 2018 (check out https://momto2cuddlebugs.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/my-18-for-2018/). Looking back, my 18 for 2018¬†was¬†quite a bit¬†pie-in-the-sky. I mean –¬†“Try 300 new recipes”, “Walk a 1000 miles” – really?!!¬†Yaarudi ivo?!

My 19 for 2019 is much more attainable, as you can see.

  • Try 12 new recipes
  • Meditate for five minutes every morning before starting on work
  • Paint powder room and at least one other room
  • Keep a gratitude journal and record at least three entries daily
  • Learn to sing one Pancharatna Krithi perfectly
  • Donate or discard clothes, coats, and books that we never use
  • Create our living will
  • Eat at least one fruit or one vegetable at each meal
  • Create at least one photo gallery at home
  • Do something every day for one person other than family
  • Get fresh flowers for the kitchen at least once per week
  • Eat out once a week or less
  • Get a haircut at least once every six months
  • Eat dinner together as a family at least twice a week
  • Clear out and de-clutter at least one closet or one room every month
  • Make an album of family and vacation pictures
  • Have friends over at least once every quarter
  • Lunch date with N and one-on-one activities with the munchkins once every month
  • Clear out or set aside for donating at least one thing in the house every day

Feel poised for success in 2019 with my manageable list, I say!

May 2019 bring much happiness, good health,¬†well-being, success¬†and peace to us all! ūüôā

My Word for 2019

 

2019_Generosity

Generosity. Not something that comes easily to me. The most striking thing about both my MIL and chittappa is that they were both wildly generous people. They truly believed in treating their neighbor like themselves. Indeed, their generosity is what most people spoke about over and over again when reminiscing about them. It struck me as something awesome Рto be consistently remembered by so many for your generosity after you are gone.

For the record, this level is not what I am aspiring to reach.

My situation is this. I¬†am super tight with¬†my purse strings and¬†mostly¬†resist spending of any kind. It also doesn’t help that I totally¬†detest shopping. My word will remind¬†me that it’s ok to spend out a little – give the hairdresser or the waiter a larger than usual tip, donate more to charity, buy that lovely pearl necklace and those matching earrings, spruce up that wardrobe (for crying out loud!), give time to someone that¬†can use help¬†–¬†you know, fun stuff like that.

My words in previous years have been “relish”, “lighten up”, and “energy”, to name a few. “Generosity” feels different – somehow more outward facing and transcendent. I like that.

Looking forward to more generosity (from self) in 2019!¬†ūüôā