Sh*t Just Got Real

November 12. In 2010, this was the day that N got a big promotion at work. It was also the same day that Appa first told me that he felt his illness was something major. I woke up this morning and remembered the date. “Something important is going to happen today”, I told myself out of the blue (I do these things, really don’t know why).

I went to my first meeting at work. It was with my colleague J, who I have worked closely with for the past couple of years. She has been an incredible mentor to me, and my cheerleader. She has been instrumental in helping me advance so much within my company in a very short time. As I sat down, she smiled at me. “I have some news. I am retiring in February.” I have always been amazed at her high energy levels and her no-nonsense, don’t-mess-with-me demeanor. I knew that she was turning 60 in December, but it never occurred to me that she would retire anytime soon.

So. I sat there gaping at her as she told me her news. And finally collected myself enough to convey my congratulations and wish her a happy retired life with her husband. But here’s where  the sh*t gets real. We just got a huge contract with a major client. I was always going to play a significant role in driving this new contract in the years ahead. But I saw J being a big part of this for at least the next five years. Guiding me, (sometimes) chiding me, being that safety net to catch me, if needed, while I learned the ropes. And suddenly, that’s not how it’s going to be anymore.

I just started reading Book 7 of the Harry Potter series. After hearing J’s news, I feel like Harry Potter, who must find and destroy the Horcruxes after Dumbledore has just died. The enormity of it is slowly hitting me. There is something scary about the buck stopping with you. But I think I will do ok. I love a challenge, especially when it’s work-related (which comes easier to me than, say, making murukkus or laddoos).

J’s around for the next three months. Man, I listened to her in today’s meeting like I have never listened to her before. So much to learn. So little time. Wish me luck.


The Boy Who Lived

#4 on my “18 for 2018” was to read the Harry Potter series. Just finished Book 4.

Man, what a writer, this J. K. Rowling. I am just blown away (me and everyone else, huh?). A little late to the party, I know. But also, wondering if she is konjam crazy. I mean, how could this woman create all these dozens (hundreds?) of new words (bobotubers, skrewts, hippogriffs – you know what I mean) and then just carry on casually as though it’s the most natural thing in the world? Maddening and mind-blowing at the same time.

Also, fascinating how the books are just getting darker and more disturbing as they move up in years. Just like Indian movies, I said to N earlier. Miss the (relative) innocence of Book 1, sigh!

So. Onto Book 5 now. Little N informed me that we own all the Harry Potter books (yay!) so I walked around the house looking in all the various bookshelves for Book 5. Finally found it in little N’s room.  It was as she said. Half the book is missing. But I still feel lucky (see how fabulously positive I am). The first half of the book – around 300 pages – is intact. Let’s face it, I am not going to wade through more than 300 pages in one night (those days are long gone, machi). Dinner is done and so are the dishes (although, truth be told, it’s take out night, so really no dishes to be done).

Ready to dive into whatever is there of Book 5, and just leave the missing pages for another day. 🙂


Report Card Feeling

I have always loved receiving report cards (you knew I was a geek, didn’t you?). When the teacher would (perversely) start handing out report cards in reverse rank order (rank 39, then 38, then 37, and so on), I would be standing there almost smacking my lips when the count down would get to 4, 3, 2… Satisfactorily landing on 1 sometimes, but not always. Which made it all the more exciting – the uncertainty, the anticipation, oooh la la!!

So. That’s my “report card” feeling. And I have not had that report card feeling in a long time. Until now.

Why now, you ask?

Well. All these years, when I (used to) open my munchkins’s lunch boxes at the end of the school day, one or both would have at least some leftovers. And sometimes, the whole lunchbox would come back home intact. Quite discontented, I would empty out their boxes and load them into the dishwasher wondering what in the world I could do better.

Finally, after all these years, when little N has reached 11th grade, I had an aha moment (verrrry slow on the uptake – seriously). Bought lovely looking thermos lunch boxes for my chickis. And started sending warm (if not steaming hot) lunches to school. Suddenly, looks like lunch from home is a lot more palatable (my poor babies!). I am getting empty lunch boxes from not one but both munchkins on most days.

On most, but not all days. So here it is again – that uncertainty, that anticipation. My report card feeling. It took me a while to realize, but that’s what it is.

Do you have a distinct, recognizable “report card feeling”? And, more importantly, when do you feel it? 🙂

Wisdom from Winston

Our blackboard currently reads – “What can we learn from Winston today?” (yes, I am having a prettttty idle Sunday). The family has not come up with any responses yet (after all, they are just starting on breakfast) but I (surprise!) have come up with a few gems.

You ready?

  • Give unconditional love to those around you
  • Keep trying until you get what you want
  • Long afternoon naps are the BEST
  • Love, food, shelter, exercise, play, and rest – what more do you need in life?
  • It is awesome when others clean up after you
  • You don’t always need to follow someone else’s agenda (aka pee pads are just a suggestion)
  • It is pointless to cry when no one is around to baby you and make you feel better
  • Try new things at least once
  • If someone is barking at you unprovoked, be sure to show them what you think too

And last but not least,

  • Never underestimate the importance of being cute 🙂

Simple Pleasures

Sondham oar aanandham, bandham peyr aanandham…”

I am in the middle of whipping up dinner for three (N has a dinner meeting tonight, and W has already eaten). Dinner tonight (as on most nights around here) is quite simple – paruppu, tomato rasam, vendakkai roast (yum!), and rice. As I chop and sautee furiously with one eye on the clock (after all, little A has her flute lesson to get to this evening), I am suddenly struck by something.

All three of my munchkins are gathered close around the kitchen island where I am bustling about. They are each busy with their own thing, peacefully coexisting. Little N is working on a chemistry lab report, little A is practicing flute, and W is circling the island expectantly (but quietly), waiting for me to accidentally drop some food (not happening, buddy!).

It’s nothing special and so super special at the same time. This moment of closeness. You know what I mean. Makes me so happy. 🙂


I asked the family what they would like to focus on to set the intention for the upcoming school year (yes, I do these sorts of quirky things).

What N, little N, Amma and I came up with.

Little A wants to focus on this guy during the school year.


But I think he gets a ton of attention already, thank you very much! 🙂

Summer’s End

It’s here again – the end of summer. The girls go back to school in three days (thank God for those last few remaining days of sanity!). It has been an absolutely wonderful summer. Do I say this every year? I think do. Still. It’s the truth. We did so many different things, some of which were quite a stretch for me.

  • Left on a two week vacation the day school closed (one of our better ideas)
  • Visited London, Lisbon and the Algarve
  • Finally watched The Lion King in London after pining to watch it since 2001 (tickets somehow seemed cheaper – perhaps because I couldn’t convert in my head from pounds to dollars)
  • Got back home from vacation on the 4th of July, and brought our puppy, Winston, home 10 days thereafter (this still blows my mind)
  • Woke up around 4 am everyday ever since (this is still ongoing, give or take a few miraculous days here and there of sleeping in late till 5 am)
  • Little N turned 16 in August. She didn’t want a sweet sixteen bash, so I came up with a different way to celebrate this special milestone (so clever and creative, if I say so myself). We did a 16 day countdown to her birthday – the idea was to do something special every day for 16 days leading up to her birthday. They were little things. On day 1, I drew a kolam outside our house and made her favorite badam payasam. N and I took her out to lunch one day, and then I took her shopping to her favorite store. I signed her up for driving lessons. Little A and I came up with a short list of 16 specialty cakes for her to choose one from. I bought her birthday balloons. We surprised her with a special birthday card and a credit card (oh, did she like the credit card!). We celebrated with dinner at her favorite pizza place. I drove her to an EPA meeting (“What, this is my birthday thing for today?”, little N asked in disbelief. Well. On some days, I ran out of ideas). But it was so much fun on the whole.
  • My birthday came four days after little N’s. Told N that he should have planned a 45 day countdown for me. Maybe he will do it next year. He will need to start soon, though. 😉
  • Little N is driving and everything. I find it super cute how she drives so carefully – checking the speed limit on every road, and saying things like “oh, go away, municipal waste truck!” (in a vulnerable baby voice that I haven’t heard in years).
  • N and I watched AR Rahman live in NY earlier this week. ARR was phenomenal (as expected). Mind-blowing performance by all the singers. This is pretty far out for N and myself on a regular day. I mean, the drive was around 2 hours each way. Throw in some serious sleep deprivation (thanks to our W), I am amazed we actually made it to the show. But N is a huge fan of ARR, so we had strong motivation. And ARR did not disappoint.
  • Little A didn’t go to summer camp for the first time in, like, ever. She played with (and took fabulous care of) W, and had several friends over on play dates every week. In seventh heaven with all that vettiness!
  • I worked from home a LOT. And pampered the girls when I could. On some days, I bought them take out lunch from their favorite place (which was, of course, not the same place for both).
  • A few friends and I started a book club together. It’s been great fun reading books that are not usually on my radar, and then hearing other perspectives. Our next book club meeting is in a couple of weeks. Find myself eagerly looking forward to it!
  • Finally started reading the Harry Potter series. Because it’s on my “18 for 2018” list. And I have a compulsive need to check off things on any list. So. I have finished the first book, and am onto the second. Cannot believe that I only waited 21 years to start reading the series. Still. Better late than never. And I now have six more Harry Potter books to get my hands on – jealous, aren’t you?

One of the best summers ever. Hope yours was fabulous too! 🙂