Six Word Spins During Covid-19

Cooking and eating all the time

WFH uniforms: old kurtis and leggings

Thank God – no work video calls

Conference calls trigger W’s wild barks

Lots of work but slow progress

Grocery delivery equals winning the lottery

Bloody pollen allergies won’t let up

No break even during effing pandemic

Don’t want to write any checks

(Just being lazy, don’t you worry)

Celebrated two quarantine birthdays so far

One turned 47, the other 2

Takeout for dinner feels super naughty

Social distancing means no eye contact?

Some walkers seem to think so!

Rediscovering long-forgotten fun board games

And special times with our teens

Debating every issue under the sun

Games more fun when you win

Dad and daughters baked opera cake

Which took hours (and more hours)

(Moi took a well-earned nap)

Online schools are quite the hoot

One chattering away, another half-awake

Girls roughhousing alarmed our gentle dog

(Who’s actually not gentle at all)

Taking candid photos by the dozen

Quarantine as special as beach vacation ūüôā

I’m Back, Baby!

Hello stranger! Cannot believe that this is my first post for 2020. On some level, I really thought that I was done writing here. Well. Here I am again. Don’t go thinking that I am here to rant about life during Covid-19 (although it is some crazy, seriously unbelievable sh*t that is going on right now).

We’ll talk about all that another time, ok?

I am here to share a teeny, tiny slice of my life. We were watching Gully Boy this evening with the girls (and W). Felt quite energized by all the creative rapping in the movie. And (you knew there was an “and”, didn’t you?) remembered my own days of writing funny little ditties about my friends in college.

So. Right after the movie, tore a couple of sheets of paper from little N’s (former) math notebook and started to write. About my favorite little guy. Rhyming and everything.

You ready?


Our pup is little Winston

He likes to walk around Princeton

He is accident prone

Oh his tummy got so torn

He is a leash biter

He is a mean fighter

Yes, his bark could be quieter

But his paws couldn’t be whiter

He showers us with love

And thinks Jimmy is a cow

He adores Snowy and Sunny

And eats like such a panni

He loves to snuggle and cuddle

And drinks from many a puddle

Next week he turns two

But he doesn’t have a clue

He can trot for many a mile

May he live a long, long while ūüôā



Happiness is…

  • curling up under a blanket on our recliner with little A and watching the Harry Potter movies¬†(for the¬†umpteenth time)
  • early Sunday morning grocery run with N (so early sometimes that they don’t have the veggies back on the shelves yet, grrr…)
  • the sound of little N (and her lovely car) arriving home (her driving solo is doing quite a number on me, I say)
  • making a huge bucket of idli mavu
  • half a¬†dozen books borrowed from our lovely library and a¬†luxuriously free Sunday afternoonBooks


Andhi mazhai pozhigiradhu…

We had a tornado warning for our area this evening. N and I, hailing from the water-starved Chennai, have a hard enough time understanding rain. Tornadoes are just out of the question. Tornadoes feel like something that happen way-over-there in Oklahoma or Kansas, or some other boonies, not in the middle of our scenic NJ. Plus, N and I loved watching Twister and all the adventures of the Tornado chasers during our grad school days. So really thought nothing about tornado watches, thunderstorms, or flashflood warnings.

The girls, especially little N, were quite freaked out, though. Little N and I were driving back from school around 4:00 pm when the heavy rains started. She had already heard about the Tornado warning from her health teacher (thank you very much!), and was keeping an apprehensive eye out at the darkened skies. As we were driving, she decided to call little A and ask her to take W and go immediately to the basement (supposed to be one of the safest places during a tornado, apparently). How very endearing, I thought, chuckling out loud. Little N was not impressed. She felt that I was being needlessly casual and frivolous.

Reached home in the midst of pouring rain. The girls and W camped out in the basement but I decided to hang out in the kitchen and first make some hot semiya upma for N and myself (where will dinner come from if everyone lounges in the basement, huh?). Again, the girls were very unimpressed. I overheard them talking. Little N was telling little A that she was going to have to take care of little A and W with parents that behaved so recklessly (priceless, I say!).

N and I finally made it to the basement with our (super yum) upma bowls. It really was quite cozy to hang out there all together (which we rarely do) with the fireplace going and W running around crazily in the (relatively) open floor space. The tornado warning was eventually lifted and downgraded to mere flashfloods and thunderstorms. So we made our way back upstairs and moved on with our lives.

Our cook, R, is scheduled to come over tomorrow (thank God!). I peeked into the pantry and saw that we were out of onions (dang!). N and I decided to do a quick trip out to fill gas in the car and to buy onions. By this time, though, little N was so done with our BS. She put her foot down. She was not going to let us drive out in pouring rain for gas and onions (sounds pretty bad, actually, as I am writing this). N and I meekly decided to cooperate and dropped our shopping plans. After all, I can come up with an onion-free menu for R. And the car is not going to know if we fill gas now or in the morning.

Most importantly, think we have aggravated the chickis quite enough for one evening! ūüôā


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.


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

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. ūüôā


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? ūüôā


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! ūüôā