SPB

My personal memory about SPB is when I was in my middle school. He sang breathless in one of the film song and I remember buying that movie song booklet, memorize those lines and practice for weeks to sing breathless. There are only some memories that stay with you forever and this is one of that.

Listen from 1:39 to 3:26

He is immortal through his voice and I am going to pay tribute to this legendary singer by listening to his playlist in loop.

A man who has touched many many people’s heart including mine and gave company to them through his voice when they feel down.

Very recently I watched the entire series of Kavithalayaa’s “Jannal – Adutha Veetu Kavidhai” in which he acted in lead role.

Its just so tough to say good bye with him!

Rest in peace SPB Sir!

Melt my heart

LHB melts my heart at random times. Here is how he did it today

LHB: Amma, I could smell and feel the dosa when I was at class. Can you make me some dosa!
Amma: Sure da. How many dosas do you need?
LHB: Did Akka eat?
Amma: Yes da!
LHB: Did everybody eat?
Amma: Yes da!
LHB: How much maavu (batter) do you have?
Amma: I have enough baby!
LHB: Okay then make me how much ever you like ma!

And he melts my heart…

Thank you

Thank you all for your lovely wishes. Some of you emailed and texted me and I can’t thank you all enough for taking the time to wish me.

One of my school friend randomly chatted with me after many months without knowing its my birthday πŸ™‚ My friend could have easily chatted a day before or a day after right?

My colleague cum friend donated on my behalf to “Stem from dance”. The best thoughtful gift I ever received.

LHB and I visited his friend’s home in neighborhood and wished the little boy as we share birthday.

Our friend’s family made a surprise visit in the evening with cake and gifts.

My birthday is also LHB’s half birthday so he demanded to cut one of the cake.

The family bought a cake and made me cut it at 2pm as they ate lunch before me and was badly in need of desserts. They made me cut the cake with a hungry tummy!! But I forgive them as they gave me a cool gift. Wireless headsets – much needed one in current work setup! My phone will now be freed from frequent drops struggling with wired headphones.

Amma arranged for special pooja in local temples.

My volunteering centre delivered 3000 cutlery bundles to a local soup kitchen. The first news I received in the morning. We have been working on this project for few weeks and yesterday just happened to be a delivery day which made me double happy πŸ™‚

Best of all, LHB adjusting my smile and dress before photo session πŸ™‚

Big number

4th Sep 2020 is the day I step into 40. There, I said it! The number 40 scares me though I self convince that age is just a number. I wanted to reach a goal weight and move to maintain mode before I turn 40. Did I reach that? No, but I found few ways that can work for me and keep me healthy. I am not satisfied with current weight but at the same time I don’t regret either as I am learning to accept that what is more important is the lifestyle. how do I work towards sustainable life style change? how do I stay true to myself? This has been almost 7 years of journey so it is not easy, it will take time but I am confident to stay healthy in coming years. I am learning to know my body better, I am learning to listen to my body so it is a big change. It is important to be conscious about food choices and I am trying…

Birthday has always been a big deal when I grew up. My mom celebrates her kids birthday nothing less than a prince/princess. Even during school days, she takes me to the city to buy birthday dress. That is the one day annual trip I get to do by bunking school. Amma and I leave home in the morning and take the express train to T.Nagar. The feeling of seeing your friends going to school and you going on a day trip in color dress is something greater than the birthday itself. We visit every other garment shop in T.Nagar. I remember giving a very hard time to Amma by just sticking on to white and blue. She prefers to buy colorful dress. She will pick few dresses, ask the shop keeper to keep it aside, visit next store and this continues till she visits all shop in her list. Finally, she will do a quick mental recollection of all dresses kept aside in all stores and decides on the one to buy. Honestly, I never used to like this drill but I tag along as I get to bunk school and also get to eat parotta/veg kurma in Saravana Bhavan for evening tiffin. I eat only parotta/kurma every single year though Amma try to persuade me to look at the menu card. In between the shop hopping, we eat special meals for lunch in Saravana Bhavan and Amma will also buy some goodies like ice cream/juice when I start whining about long walk. We take the 6:40pm express train and come back home around 8/9pm. All this for buying that one birthday dress for me! I remember one of the year, she just saved money for return train tickets and used rest of the money to buy a dress. It was a dark green georgette material salwar with colorful embroidered flowers around the neck. It costed around 2000 rupees back then. Such a crazy lady! I failed to understand the importance of this dress and trip until I lived under her wings. Some memories just become richer and richer as you grow older.

On almost every birthday at school, my dress would be the talk of staff room. When I go to distribute chocolates the teachers make me stand/swirl to get a closer look of my special dress and ask all sort of questions. I wear pretty skirts, intricately embroidered tops, jumpers, sequin tops, 3 layers skirts and many more modern dresses. I only get two new dress in a year but each one of them will be very unique. For my 5th grade birthday, Amma bought yellow colored actress “Nadhia” dress. Its a 3 piece set with see through overcoat. Its very popular at that time and I remember we were financially at rock bottom in that period. My cousin sisters used to reserve my dress in advance as all my dress were handed down to them.

My best birthday so far happened during 3rd year of college. I have written about it in this post (its a long post, search for keyword birthday)

After I started earning, we upgraded to pantheon road and Alsa mall centre (elite places) for birthday shopping πŸ™‚

And then, life happened and the enthusiasm to celebrate birthday slowed down. A collection of events happened on this day in last 20 years that I started dreading this day literally as much as I enjoyed this day in growing up years. I have not written about my birthday in this little, close to heart space of mine. I look for ways to get past this day quickly and pretend to hide/mock my feelings through this day. As kids grow up, they want to do something special for me in their own ways and I painfully brush it off.

2003 is the year I last celebrated birthday with new dress, new sandals and cake with my then family. This birthday is very special as my brother and SIL had come on a vacation from US and they bought the dress/sandals/cake for me as a surprise. I think this is the last birthday I celebrated with my Amma, Appa and Anna. Oh, we were together on 4th Sep 2010 at my Anna’s US home but it was not the same.

2003 birthday picture:
Amma and me at our Velachery, Chennai rented home. That’s a pistachios flavored cake from Mc.Rennette cake shop and I am wearing my birthday dress πŸ™‚

The number 40 reminds me to get more disciplined with life in all aspects. I do not regret my past and looking forward to an eventful/happening years. I see at least the next 15 years as the years to give back as much as I can, to my children, to the society, to my friends, to my parents, to my extended family and to all those who are looking for my shoulder/support. Its mutual giving as what I get in return is this immense sense of satisfaction, happiness and peacefulness which no money can buy. I feel obliged to give back for all the love I have experienced in my growing up years. Life has been kind to me in many ways and I have to appreciate it by staying humble and kind.

I feel like life has just started with me taking big steps in volunteering this year. All I pray is to stay healthy and active so I can give back my fullest to everyone. One of the friend family have started feeling comfortable to come and stay with us in recent times. I want to host many more friends & family and above all stay and spread positivity.

And I need all your blessings and wishes on this day to make it brighter. You all have been an integral part of my life journey so your wishes means a lot to me πŸ™‚

Special plate

We had friends to stay over on Sunday and as it is the new normal, I marinaded chicken, veggies and M grilled them for dinner.

M started grilling and items were disappearing in lightning speed as everyone was hungry and hot fresh grilled food always tastes better. I was busy in the kitchen preparing tomato thokku for the one day trip planned for next day.

Adi observed the whole scene for a while, then came near me and whispered that I should take a break and have some food as I will not get any if I wait till the last. I nodded my head but continued with kitchen work. Few minutes later, she handed over this plate to me and asked to save for myself to eat later.

That divine feeling of someone caring for you and thinking about you took over me instantly and I wanted to just preserve that plate of food for eternity.

I grew an inch taller that day because of abundant happiness. This is my the favorite phrase from a tamil song.

Quarantine time has brought us closer than before and I count my blessings.

Pillayar Chathurthi – 2020

Better late than never. I wanted to capture about pillayar chathurthi in this space for posterity.

This year chathurthi was awesome as

  • I made the world’s most softest kozhukattai and M praised the sesame seeds filling kozhukattai so much that Adi noticed it and said she has never seen him praising my food so much!!
  • I made 3 versions – sweet sesame seeds/jaggery filling, sweet channa dal/jaggery filling and savory version.
  • The best part is I made everything from scratch like soaking rice and grinding it to make outer layer. It just took about 7 hours to wrap it up end to end as I made it with 4 cups of rice. Shared it with neighbors and friend’s family. Totally worth the effort.
  • Visited friend’s home for Ganesh Visarjan. They did it in big scale with their entire dining room decorated. We sang bhajans and had good food.
  • Neighbor kids, Adi and LHB made their own Ganesha’s so I had 4 Ganesha idols decorating my pooja space thiis year.
  • We dissolved our eco Ganesh today (Day 7) in the sink. I don’t know if there is a better way to do it. We usually dissolve it in sink as they are made of salt dough (wheat flour+salt).

Hope all of you are staying safe and good.

Kids making Ganesha
Do you see all 4 Ganesha and my 3 version of Kozhukattai?
Melt in mouth savory Uppu urundai
Bidding adieu to Ganesha until next year

Happy 15th

Dear Daaru,

15 it is my dear. Darling + Daughter makes it Daaru, a pet name Amma came up with to call you during this quarantine time. This birthday will be unique and remembered for a longer time for the nature of life we are living now.

You are someone who can just stay put at home all through the year. Your needs are very simple. FOOD and TV. That’s it. Oh, and Amma’s phone. Mind you not your phone. You check my phone more than yours as you like to catch up on all my messages!! It seems you can follow me in Instagram, but I cannot follow you!! Isn’t it supposed to be the other way around my dear?

You are self-managed except for few habits like remind to wash your hair, remind to not use my towel if your towel is misplaced, remind to not hunt my closet for fancy shirts when you have a presentation (learn to move on and build your closet lady)

We haven’t succeeded in making you do chores for money or free pass as you have no clue what to do with either money or free pass.

Money is not needed as your needs are very simple. You can live with 2 free t-shirts and 2 pants. You don’t need any makeup items. You are not a gadgets person. You don’t go out with friends or you don’t shop on your own. Are you for real? What else can I use to bribe my Daaru?

I am still wondering what will you do if I give you a free pass? Is it because we respect your choices and fulfill them, or you act responsible on your own?

You have the power to make Appa do a store run in middle of his work just because there is no snack aka junk at home whereas I have to wait till the weekend to make him buy essential groceries.

You are everything for your little brother. I mean everything. He wants to marry you and get settled so you will stay with him forever! Every single sentence he utters ends with a “right Akka?” and you validate dutifully. It is a sight to watch your sibling love and random conversations. You help him with homework and correct/teach him if you find out your little brother is lagging on something. You call him “Avi”. You are very concerned about his quarantine bedtime routine and the amount of sleep he gets. A first grader is not supposed to be awake past 10:30pm, So you request Appa to allow him to sleep more in the morning.

Your often-spoken words in this year are “Amma, you look quite delicious today, I am going to eat you”, “I am going to eat somebody today”, the word “butt” has somehow caught your fancy attention lately. You do not understand what grounded means, so we make you do some physical activity like jumping jacks, squats, burpees whenever you use “b” word.

Appa and you have come up with a form of “Chicken dance”. The deal is one who seeks help has to watch the chicken dance before getting the help! You make coffee for him and he has to watch your chicken dance before he takes that first sip!

You are taking online music theory class for kids as a service during this unprecedented time. I am super proud of the way you engage and teach little kids in that weekly call. You sound like a born teacher and I brim with pride hearing you handling the class! One of my friends texted me later that her 5th grade daughter has so much to talk about “Akka” even after the class. Take a bow dear!

We have moved to a new adobe this year. I know its contradicting, but you are the most impacted and most happy about this move. You LOVE this new home, backyard the most and I am happy to see you happy. It puts my mind to peace about the decision to move.

We have got a lot better with communication, bonding and having many more lighter moments in this new home. I am very busy creating tiny pocket of memory of each of those moments and save them in my brain to cherish later.

I often plead you to take me along with you when you go out for college, I offer to cook/clean for you as I am not positive about handling two extreme boys on my own!

You have randomly started using more “tamil words and tamil sentences” in recent times and let me tell you, it’s an instant mood lifter for me to hear you speak Tamil.

You respond with “enna di” when I call out for you and utter “ennadhuu” when you are in confused state. When I seek help you walk away with your signature style of “po di”. Appa also gets his fair share of “po da” so no complaints!

You have friends but not best friends. You are part of few gang of girlfriends and keep them all the same. At least that is what I know!

You don’t get upset easily except when LHB eats your share of junk or Appa tries to wake you up early on weekends. 10am is early for you and too late for Appa! I give up!

I appreciate you trying to make conversation with Ammachi on video calls. It means the world to her ma!

You have started with eyebrow threading this year. This is the only beauty thing you do other than face wash at the age of 15!!

Your Carnatic vocal music teacher has a soft corner for you and your piano teacher is a gift for you. They both will be your music gurus and you keep in touch with them for rest of your life. Oh, and your former piano teacher from old neighborhood. Make it 3 gurus.

You like baking, cooking Italian dishes and is capable of fixing quick meal for you and LHB.

You want to visit London and Paris.Β  Our next international trip is only after you secure college admission. You are working hard for your future and I pray for you to get deserving results.

You are a god sent angel to me and sometimes I just pour out my heart expecting you to respond like an adult. I must admit that you are a very good listener and acknowledge my rant! I validate myself with you the same way I do with a friend. You have been very nice and gentle to me in past year and I can’t thank you enough for this!

You are a cry baby when it comes to losing in board games and when LHB gets one extra bite of any junk. Like if you give a share to Appa then he is forced to give a share to me to even out. Sometimes he even gives away his share to you and walks away shrugging his shoulder “It’s okay ma! If I don’t give she will become a cry baby”. Sometimes, I wonder if I am raising a 15-year-old running 7 and a 7-year-old running 15!!

You have been given a generous 10 years to take over the family my dear. The agreement we have or rather I propose is ten years from now, you will take over the home mortgage, get married, stay in this same home, be kind to give 1 room to LHB, give guest room to your parents. I will help you with cooking and babysitting your kids and Appa will help with house/lawn maintenance so you and your partner will have the elder support to raise a family. I know this mommy brain is crazy. On other days I talk about going back to India for my retirement life. Basically, I don’t know how to control my wild thoughts and be loud about this craziness. I hope you don’t get confused with all this craziness of your Amma!! No pressure Daaru!

If there is one word that I want to share with you when you turn 15, it will be “empathy“. Hold on to this word tight as it will help you to grow as a good human and help people around you as well.

You are too good for your age and I wish you good health and happiness all through your life.

Love,
Amma

 

Mother’s day 2020

Started with this post yesterday but dozed off before I could publish. So please adjust and read it like its published yesterday πŸ™‚

I woke up before the kids, walked around the home, had my coffee in peace, made few phone calls and then it happened!

LHB woke up and freaked out as last night he ordered me to stay in bed all day today. He made me go back to bed and stay there for next two hours until breakfast was ready. While Akka was busy in the kitchen, LHB was busy walking between bedroom and kitchen to make sure I am not stepping out of the bed. I was bed locked. Thankfully, I was allowed to speak over the phone so had a looong chat with my friend. He said I can even watch TV if I am bored BUT I was not allowed to step out of the bed.

After two hours, I was blindfolded, taken to the table and presented with an elaborate spread.

Dosas
Scrambled eggs
Buttered bread
Leftover capsicum chutney
All sorts of sauces/jams/pickles
Masala chai in a travel mug
Hot water in flask

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Adi made all of them with no help and the little boy helped to set the table. I was surprised and proud. We relished the brunch and then I was allowed to carry on with weekend kitchen chores.

Next 4 hours was spent in kitchen with songs in the background. It has been a while I listened to songs and the songs lifted up my mood. I decided to make mango kara kuzhambu. Just the thought made my mouth watery and I could literally taste the kuzhambu even before it was ready.

In the next 4 hours, with songs playing in the background thik thai kitchen* dished out

Idli batter
Onion tomato chutney
Mango drumstick kara kuzhambu
Brinjal fry
White rice
Appalam/Fryms
Ground and refilled all spice powder – pepper powder, jira powder and saunf powder

We had dinner in formal dining room and I dressed up for dinner πŸ™‚ Looking at me, LHB also dressed up and surprised us by eating dinner all by himself like he made a plate for himself and ate with hands.

*thik thai kitchen – LHB named our kitchen as thik thai kitchen as apparently he believes that his mom loves Bharathanatyam form of dance.

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He forgot to give me the cards and made up during bedtime.

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Quarantine life

Life has changed for everyone across the world and I hope all of you are finding ways to keep yourself sane, safe and healthy. There is still so much happening in our life and I am learning to live by every moment. I want to jot down my list as categories

Blessings list:

  • Family is safe and healthy.
  • M returned from India just few days before the lockdown started. I just couldn’t get my head around the what-ifs of “if he got stuck in India”.
  • All of us are able to move forward with our work/school with minuscule impact.
  • All the quality time and random lighter moments with family.
  • Impromptu family quick lunch time on kitchen table on days we all could take a 30 minute break from work.
  • LHB’s random melting talks like “Will you be a dear and get me a glass of water?” or “Mother dearest, another Dosa please”. I am sure we have missed living through these moments in the old normal busy life.
  • Access to food, coffee and of course desserts.
  • Family Indian regional movie nights on Friday and Saturday. We explore Hindi, Malayalam, Telugu and all other regional movies.
  • Extra sleep time in the morning (this should be on top of my list).
  • No rush bedtime routine (I have started story telling session about Tenali Raman/Akbar-Birbal and we play one board game on most nights).
  • LHB workout routine by dancing mindlessly for Tamil peppy songs and the rest of us sitting around him and laughing hysterically.
  • Kids doing workout as a punishment whenever they use improper words. 20 squats if they say “you are a butt”, 20 jumping jacks or burpees are other workouts.
  • Being able to carryout with most of the work that we used to do in old normal life.
  • More bonding time with family.
  • Not holding on to grudges/skirmishes for a prolonged time. Trying to take one day at a time and look at every day as a new day of opportunity.
  • Weekends mostly start with a family conversation on brunch table with hot just off the stove fresh food.

Whine list:

  • Forcibly becoming a first grade teacher. I dread the study sessions with LHB. He brings the worst out of me and I feel like a terrible parent at the end of every session.
  • Not being able to listen to music (the only time I listen to music is during my commute. No commute, No music).
  • Using Milk like gold.
  • No break from cooking/ever day cooking (it is physically tiring but I enjoy the after moment when family enjoys the meal as meals are mostly prepared based on family members suggestion)

Things I am doing during quarantine time that would have been distant dream otherwise:

  • I start my day with Meditation and Surya namaskar at least 5 times a week.
  • Take workout seriously. Burn the calories either in elliptical or by following a random HIIT workout video at least 3 times a week.
  • Be mindful about the choices made with handling kids (getting better at Respond vs React).
  • Read a book (finally!!!)
  • Active in Instagram (Only food pictures. It will come in handy when the family accuses me of not cooking. You can find me as “anikrish”).
  • Volunteering opportunities. Being part of Mask making project and making a difference in the community.
  • Weekend video call with parents where kids bond with them. I always want to do this but could never get to it due to lack of time and running around hectic weekend schedules.
  • Drink two full bottle of hot lemon infused water throughout the day.

As you see, my whine list looks meagre compared to blessings list so I make it a point to stay positive and count my blessings every single day. That could be one of the reason why I am working on the art of “let go” more than before. It gives me jitters when I think of all families who are impacted first hand during this unprecedented time.

My typical quarantine work day:

7:30am – Wake up
7:30-9am – Morning home duties (Meditation, Surya namaskar, cooking)
9am-5pm – Work, work, work with little breaks. These days I am mostly on video calls all day so have to be presentable too (that means a decent shirt with PJ pants) !! I found a way to setup a budget standing desk with package boxes to alleviate the back pain.
5-7pm – Dinner/cooking/cleaning time.
7pm-10pm – LHB’s study time (If my stars align then he will manage to finish them by 9:30pm so we can play a bedtime board game)
10-11pm – Bedtime routine (story time, game time and then eventually crash time)

My weekdays are passing by like a flash and weekends get over before I could blink my eyes.

Ani’s nest is kind of getting very comfortable with this setup that its going to be a very hard transition for us to get back to old normal life.

Looking forward to hear from all of you my readers. Just tell me all is well on your end and send some love.