August

(Written on August 30, 2017)

I am writing this while lazing around on the super cozy sofa in the balcony of our room in Nusa Dua, Bali. Lying on my tummy, feet up in the air behind me, taking in the sights, sounds, and distinctively sweet smell of the tropical ocean air.

Pretty close to sheer bliss.

Why only “pretty close”, you ask?

Well. We are almost at the end of a loooong vacation in South East Asia. Our travels took us to Bali, Java, Singapore, and we will catch a bit of Taipei (especially, Din Tai Fung) before we head back to JFK. Suddenly wonder if the “F” in JFK stands for the word that I am now thinking, as I briefly consider all the work that awaits us at the other end of a different ocean.

But first things first. Vacation was absolutely glorious. We did so many different things, some of which were quite a stretch for me.

• Rode electric bikes through the streets and through rice terraces in Ubud
• Made batik art work and silver jewelry (both of which didn’t come easy to me)
• Played with monkeys at the Monkey Forest in Ubud
• Watched four live performances and learnt a ton about the local culture
• Ate insanely delicious food at almost every meal
• Pined and searched for Indian restaurants everywhere (ok, that was just me)
• Visited our friend A and his family in Singapore (thanks to A’s wife N for the yummy thayir saadam that hit the spot!)
• Braved the AWD ride, and intense dust and sulfur smells to visit the awe-inspiring Merapi volcano
• Oohed and aahed at the achievements of Singapore after talking to people there and visiting the National History Museum
• Rode the cable car, the zipline and the Segway at Sentosa (no more Segway for me, my friend, ugh!)
• Bought several over-priced books at the amazing Kinokuniya
• Bargained like a pro at the little markets in Bali (and got majorly tsked-at by two disapproving munchkins)
• Squeezed through the crushing crowds in Little India, Singapore to visit Murugan Idli Kadai (super yum!)
• Visited numerous temples, including the stunning Borobudur and Prambanan temples in Java
• Celebrated two birthdays (little N turned 15 and I turned 29 years older than her)
• Enjoyed lingering over late dinners and animated discussions with the munchkins
• Lounged by the pool soaking in the sun (Vitamin D!) while little A swam (and little N worked in the hotel room – after all, she is a rising high school sophomore, and not an idle snidle like the rest of us)
• Fought and bickered a few times, especially in Singapore (jam-packed days and hot, humid conditions don’t do wonders for your good-humor, I have discovered)
• Cuddled and quickly made up too

I know that I am leaving out many other things. Like I said, it’s been a glorious vacation. Hard to capture everything in words.

We are now spending the (almost) last leg of our trip at a fabulous beach resort. Our days here are lightly packed. Mostly relaxing and taking in the room service and ocean air, yes, but also, unmistakably, getting ready for what’s coming. If August has been awesome, September promises to be super busy. Little N is already revving up, little A starts middle school (serious OMG!), and our busiest (and most fun) festival, Navarathri, falls in September this year.

I feel refreshed and ready to get back to our “real life” after this vacation, which has been one of our longest ever. But am also super thankful for the next few days that will give us that much needed pause between vacation and work, as we prepare to hit the ground running one more time.

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Grace

I am working from home today. Somehow, these WFH days end up being way busier than you think they would be (they should really be called WTF days, I say!). Spent most of the morning hidden upstairs working away and yammering on the phone. Did pause to congratulate self that our cook, R, was coming over today, so didn’t have to ponder the one question that I find absolutely nerve-wracking – “Mommy, what’s for lunch?”.

Dropped R home at 2:00 pm after she made some delicious lunch (aloo parathas, paneer capsicum sabji, and sabudana kichdi – super yum!!). As I drove her home, we were commiserating with each other on our busy mornings. R mentioned that she had been out cooking since 6:30 am, and that as soon as I dropped her at home she was going to make dinner for her family, since she still had another cooking job this evening which would go on from 4 pm till at least 7 pm.

Man, felt like a total a$$hole for whining to her about my busy morning. And told her that I hoped that the rest of her week is easier, and that I felt like sitting down and having a cup of tea after just hearing about her busy day. Which, come to think of it, was also a dumb thing to say. I mean, if someone is overwhelmed, I don’t know if it’s reassuring to hear “oh no, you are so overwhelmed”. Anyway, that’s what I said.

I was blown away by her response.

“Do you want to come in to my house? I can quickly make you a cup of masala chai”, she offered – 8 hours into a 12 hour, entirely on-her-feet, work day.

That, my friend, is what they call Grace.

Blackboard Wisdom

This is a tough week at work for both N and me, and little N is super busy with her summer course as well. The atmosphere at home is pretty intense already, and it’s only Monday. Decided to spew some pep talk on my kitchen blackboard – some pearls of wisdom to give hope and sanity to the busy bees (mostly self).

Nice, no?

Flash Back

After a nice dinner out to kick-off the weekend, found myself with absolutely nothing to do this evening. Rummaged through the bookshelf in our bedroom looking for some old forgotten book (love the comfort of re-reading). And stumbled on my diary from my pre-teen years (yes, that fossil!).

Found this letter in there, preserved carefully for soooo many years (ok, might as well make that decades).

I must have been 11 then, in 7th standard. Pen-pals were all the rage, I recall. I was beyond thrilled to receive this (unsolicited) letter from (what I imagined) was some dashing 14 year old in the UK.

After reading and re-reading the letter a few times, I giddily ran to Appa. I distinctly remember standing in the kollai of Thatha and Patti’s house (why? perhaps washing up after a meal, who knows?). Anyway. I breathlessly informed Appa that I had a letter from a kid named Nick Waspe and asked if I could please write back to him. “Is that a boy? No, no writing back to this boy.” was all Appa said as he walked back into the house. I remember standing there in the kollai looking at his departing back, soooo disappointed, but yet not saying a word. That was the end of the discussion (take note, little N and little A – such parental obedience displayed by your fabulous mother). I didn’t even think to suggest to Appa that perhaps I could write to Nick’s friend Andrea (a girl, as he puts it). I really pined for a pen-pal for a while after that, I remember (at least till non-stop studying took over in 10th grade and thereafter).

I know that I have a strong memory and all, but looking at this letter today, I could viscerally recall the twinge of disappointment that my 11-year old self felt. Looking back, I wish I had rocked the boat a little and asked Appa for a reason as to why I couldn’t write back. Perhaps he didn’t actually feel that strongly about my writing or not writing. Perhaps I could have worn him down if I had asked a couple of times.

Was it Lewis Carroll that said “In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take”? Satya vachan! 🙂

Friday Morning Walk

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Exhilarating
Solitary morning walk
Glorious sunshine

(Now that I am firmly in haiku-land, you didn’t think I would actually go back to writing full posts, did you? Also, you may have noticed that I am not rhyming all my hailkus. Do you know how hard it is? I rhyme when I can. Ok, then.)

Walking down bike path
As morning commute snarls by
Lovely job I hath.
—-
Pausing during walk
Writing haikus as I go
What a load of crock! 😉

Kaiku’s Haikus

I am in so much trouble.
I woke up an hour later than usual today. Still, I am standing in my kitchen ignoring lunches that need to be packed (quickly), and am trying to finish up a haiku that just popped in my mind about Memorial Day.
Hmmm…. obsession is a sweet (but typically unproductive) thing.
Plus, I feel that I am cluttering up my blog with one three-liner after another.
Worry not, I am not retiring my haiku-ing within 24 hours.
I am merely organizing my pearls of wisdom elsewhere.
Check out https://momto2cuddlebugs.wordpress.com/kaikus-haikus/ for my daily updates.
Can’t wait to churn out more today! 🙂