Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Year That Was!!! 2014

2014, I could not have asked for a better year. When we started out, we were on the rocks a bit. Not really, but health wise, I carried with me a horrible cold after the flu just before 2014 started. It started in a hotel room with friends chatting and almost forgetting the onset of a New Year. In general, the health pattern carried out throughout 2014. I have never had so many colds or fevers in one year like I did in 2014. I worked through a lot of them, slept three a couple but the general immunity seems to be down. This year also coincided with my weight gain. I tried to keep it down, work out, bike, run but everything barely took off for more than a few days. I had so many exams to take, people to entertain that "I" took the back seat in my life.

January: We ended our 4500+ mile drive through the country, driving through mountains and beside the ocean, through the dessert and staying high above the ground in Vegas to eating at Batali's. It was a good month.

February: Was uneventful. We relaxed a bit, visited family in Houston. Spent time recuperating.

March: Brother moved to Dallas and spent three months with me. We had a blast. We relaxed, ate, spoke a lot, and caught up with each other's life after a long time.
We also spent the spring break weekend at a spooky BnB in Seguin, TX.

April: I went with Babs to her school Field Trip. It was super fun to spend time with her and her school mates. We also did Holi in our front yard with friends. It was also the month when Babs started to ride the bike on her own.

May: We spent the time getting ready for summer. I had exams to study for imminent in June and spent more time on that than with my brother or family. It was stressful but we sailed through.

June: Saw us planning our trip to EU. We were mentally ready for a vacation. We rarely take time off from work, which always explains the extra PTO that stack up for me as well as G. We make it to work through rain or shine, especially since I cannot work from home, I have to be physically connected to server most of the time to be able to do what I do. Therefore the trip was something all three of us looked forward to. Off we went to EU for a 15 day break. We went from Paris to Barcelone to Nice to Rome to Pisa to Annecy and spent more time in Paris meeting my BFF and enjoying relaxing.

July: We came back from Paris and did not want to be here. We loved being back on our beds in our home but we missed the break, the relaxation, the fun and family.

August: Our friends spent the month with us. It was so good to have the house full. The kids played and fought but the adults relaxed with some good drinks and food every night after the drama kid dramas went to bed. Babs started another year in school and life got back to a routine. We enjoyed seeing and hearing Mika Singh live in concert in Dallas with friends. It was amazing.

September: Our friends left and we had the house for ourselves for a bit. We had no idea what to do. We missed them a lot. Babs school and classes took over us. We went to SLAM show in Houston with friends and had the best time of our lives.

October: My parents came and spent three weeks with us. It was fun. Babs turned seven and G turned a year older. We did trick or treating and also Diwali. We could feel the year winding down.

November: We had two weeks before G's parents came. We spent time trying to get the house ready for the big family arrival. M and I ran the only 5K this year. We promised that we would run together a lot this year but that has not happened yet.

December: We started December with illness. All of us had something or the other going on but we were ready for the holidays on time for family to arrive. All of G's family is here and we officially celebrated Christmas together this year with tree, gifts, decorations and every thing set. The kids had a blast and do did the adults. We got Kinected (xbox) this year and also switched entirely to Samsung except the one Ipad that is still working. There is a lot of noise in the house with three kids running the show, there is food always to be found and drinks everywhere.

I pray and hope that everyone has a great 2015 and it is just as good as 2014 was to me.

Happy and Prosperous 2015.

PS: This is my 600th post! WooHoo!!

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Selfie Crowd!!!

That is what I called ourselves and most of others who ran the 5K this past weekend with us. My main aim was to not finish last. M and I put in a lot of effort to ensure that we were not the last two to roll to finish line and have everyone sympathetically clap for us. We made it in decent time. I wont ever say great...but we made it in at least before 400 others...so we are good.

The main motivation for the chocolate they promised if we finished the run. So we ran because we were getting food. Yes, not a great way to get back in shape. Four years ago when we ran our 5K, we were fit, we finished very fast and ran the whole darn thing. Last year, I kinda sorta ran the whole thing, this year...oh well...we ran walked it but we ran 2 miles of it. We paced ourselves because we had to and also because most of the 5K people walk and there is never enough space to run freely. Which is when I came up with the title...Selfie Crowd. All the 5K runners are typically selfie crowd. They come to pose, take photos, walk and have a good morning chat. They do this after paying close to $50 per person. Could they/we not have done it around our neighborhood? Uh, no!

If we someone would have the start and Finish air filled gateways near our house we might do it, so we could selfie first and then head out and selfie after we are done. If they had goodies everyday after our run/walk there would be more motivation. If our selfies could motivate others and make some feel J, we might do it...none of this happens...so we run 5Ks sponsored by chocolate companies or charities. We run so we can let the world know we are healthy, and make ourselves feel better that we are at least trying.

So, it was a fun weekend, as my bestie and I ran/walked the 5K, and finished with wiping off dripping melted chocolate from our faces we were proud. We were proud that even after a year of nothingness we could still do it without much fuss, we were proud that we made some use out of our Sunday morning. We were proud that we could make fresh promises of working out better and getting fit, We were proud that as we age, we were doing it in style. We were generally proud because that is who we are!!!

With love
From
Selfie ART

Friday, November 21, 2014

With Age Comes...

Maturity??? Ya right. I remember being mature at 18 when I had to choose a career path, at 22 when I had to choose my university abroad, at 25 a life partner and at 29 a name for my baby. They happened, just like that. If I remember correctly, I put minimum effort into any of those. Everything just fell into place and I just had to walk the talk.

At 36, I have done so much in my life past that I can actually look back and call out incidents by the year and sometimes even month. I always wondered how my grand relatives did that. I remember a grand uncle telling me a story about how he was just-out-of-teenage boy on a ship going to a concentration camp in Poland as a POW. He had the exact date, number of people aboard, and the weather conditions detailed out to us. I could not even remember what I had for dinner the previous night. I have surely matured now, because I can say I how sad I felt leaving India on the 4th of July 2000 to come to US or how I felt after I graduated in 2002 unsure of what lied ahead.

None of these came to my head until I got into bed last night and G asked me to massage his tennis elbow. I refused saying that my hand was hurting and so was my ankle. We both laughed, "we are falling apart, one thing at a time." This morning I walked into my closet and saw that we had collected every sort of brace that is available in the market. There were two knee braces, two ankle braces, two compression bands, one arm brace, and two back braces. They all lay there thrown together for the emergency situation, which unfortunately seemed to happen more often that we would like. It just confirmed, that we were breaking down, one joint at a time. Both G and I have used all the braces at least once in the past 3 to 4 months.

So, I guess, with age comes maturity but before that you fall apart.

From
Aged ART

Friday, October 24, 2014

Blogging!

Every time I look at the B on browser, I want to click and start typing away, like I used a few years ago. I would think about what I wanted to write, formulate it in my head and at the first chance in front of a computer I would be typing away. The last few years have been difficult to think of my blog. I try to revive it at least three times a year and then it falls asleep. I am slacking at marking milestones in my life for my child to read back.

I have tons of unfinished posts sitting in my folder. I loose interest half way through. I feel bad and I want to continue...but then I realized that most of them are rants. Rants about people in Facebook, about people in real life, situations in real life, life in general and such on. I think the minute I start typing it out, I feel better and realize that it is of no use any more. The main idea to rant publicly is to get rid of the bad negative energy.  If you are able to do it before you publish it then what more do you need? I have accomplished Zen through writing half unpublished posts in my blog.

So the Zen me has no reason to blog. There is a lot of happiness around me not just an angry me. The happiness is a feeling. I try to verbalize it writing posts about how glorious my Diwali was or my daughter's birthday was but it cannot be expressed to its full impact.What is the point then? My happiness is mine and mine only but my rant could be yours too.

For example, today my friend posted about how she dislikes Mason Jars and that she is done with them...OMG...that is exactly my same feeling. I liked her post and expressed my ire towards the bane of jars. I could agree or disagree with her rant but when someone posts about how happy their kids birthday was or their rocking life, all we can do is do a "like" and keep moving. Somewhere in the back of your head, you hear a little voice say, "bragger."

Oh well...this does not mean that I will stop ranting or bragging...they will continue, but a Zen pace now. I could be calling my laziness Zen, either way it is good.

Happy Blogging Y'all

Love
ART

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Shut the Front Door - School Already???

Sunday night I furiously worked on painting a sign for my little first grader. I had to have it ready for her to strike a pose with on Monday morning while she steps onto another milestone. Yup...first grader already and our life is zipping past us in comet speed. We did the "meet the teacher" and B who shows less emotions when I am searching for one did not disappoint me and acted cool while she waved hello to her teacher. After the meeting she also told me that, she has to wait and see before she says anything about the teacher. That is how the school year began and we are looking at 150 plus days of happiness, sadness, excitement, and not so much ahead of us.

Bubs has never known what it is to stay at home and not be in school on weekdays. Yes, the choice we made for her was to be in day care so that her parents could work. Not the ideal one but it is one we have all made peace with. There is an occasional "why me?" but that is expected from us going through mundane frustrations. B to most part has never fussed about school, one day here and one evening there she would complain but she has always reticently walked out of the car and into the various day cares. I have never heard complaints and she was always a happy well adjusted kid.

In the daycare world care professionals rarely complained because there is not much expected in terms of results. The kid can play, study or do nothing and yet everything they do will be counted as a milestone. To give an example, a child who decided to hold pen after five days or persuasion will be called a genius and the parents are also made to feel excited. School, on the other hand is not the same. This is the ground zero for child personality development. The coy kid becomes brash, the loud one is the quietest and the smart one forgets that it can have a voice. Things change here and drastically so on a daily basis. Every day as I drop her off, my heart wrenches for the hours she will be spent where there will be fewer kind words and more stress on following orders. This will be the place where she will be pitted against other kids and parents will fight for attention from teacher so that their child can shine. A kind of place where you really do not enjoy much until you are old enough to get away with small silly things you share with your friends on the sly.

For me, it was high school when I started to enjoy school. We would hide in the cafeteria to avoid classesor would sneak out to eat "chocobar" at the canteen during a boring hour. We enjoyed Physics lab the most because most of us could take a nap as the teacher was too lazy to move. Chem lab was another story, we would finish the experiment in ten minutes and have two hours to sit and chat. Exams were serious but school life was enjoyable. I hope for B that she enjoys at least a little of her Elementary life unlike me. She has a spirit, an enthu to enjoy, a need for fun and laughter, which I hope does not get drowned in the monotony of school and homework. I do not want to see her come home sad or disappointed.

Today, as I dropped her off at school I told her, "B remember, everyday tell yourself that school is Awesome and it will be so." B replied, "Yes amma, school is Awesomely Boring." Just like her dad!

Love you B
Amma!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Grind

Work 10-12 hours a day
Home 8-12 hours a day
ETC - the remaining time

This is life on a weekday.

Classes 4 hours a day (drive time included)
Random Party 4 hours
Home improvement 4 hours
Sleep 8 hours
Random things - the remaining time

This is life on a weekend.

My life seems to be on a schedule. On Friday evenings I am excited to go home but before I get home I am tired from the past week. I make plans with G to drink, watch a movie, and veg out and the only thing I accomplish is vegging out on the sofa watching a TV program that was recorded two weeks ago. Of course we never get to finish the program because the two of us are stretching it out on our respective sofas. At approximately 2am I realize that I have a strained neck and wake up feeling that I am in a strange place and slowly migrate to the bed. And the weekend begins.

God forbid I make plans to hang out with friends, I am out of the zone. I am constantly thinking of how to juggle Sanjana's weekend classes with the various other commitments and how to do something at home and something for work. Nothing goes per plan and I am running helter skelter like a moron who lost his hat while it is still on her head.

The vacation was a good break. It removed me from the routine and put me onto a different grind. One that I definitely think has better prospects than my life. I sit down with a cup of coffee and remember our Romanian friends coffee in Paris. I wear a pair of pants and I think about walking in it through the streets of Barcelona. Pair of slippers remind me of what a pain they were in Pisa and my sun glasses remind me of how they were both glasses as well as hair band through the trip. We made memories and I believe that is how you measure the success of your vacation. You have a longing to go back, you are back in the present but the past is still keeping you engaged.

Do not mistake me as I am not complaining. I like the routine, I like things to go per plan. I make plans and I try real hard to stick by them. For a person like me, the Grind is security. Once in a while a bump in that grind is what makes my life interesting!

Love
Tired ART

Monday, July 07, 2014

To leave and to be back...

The moment you drive up the house you were so eager to leave on a vacation a mixed feeling of excitement as well as dread sets in. In the two weeks we were gone, the grass in the lawn was now a field with swaying blades of grass welcoming you. Weed has overtaken one of your favorite knockout rose bush. "I am not doing lawn work today," I declare as I step out, "just too tired to handle this." Husband agrees but looks at the work in front of us. We go to the backyard to inspect our pool and things are still looking good but there is weed everywhere. The okra plant is now a rogue plant looking to compete with trees overpowering the basil  next to it. I walk back in closing the door saying, "Nope, not going back out till everything is clean." Husband comes back and tells me, "something is surely dead in the weed." Yuck!!!

That is what you get for leaving home and going to far away fantasy lands for two plus weeks. The walks, the sights, the relaxation, and the multiple coffees that you enjoyed while neglecting your house...well the house wants it revenge back. I have been walking around slowly into every room to make sure that the solitary roach has not invaded it yet. So far so good but I am always stuck with one rogue roach that manages to make my home its home in my absence.

The first few days away from home was filled with me moaning for sleep. I missed my bed, my shower, my home and my potty. We were driving through the roads of France and Spain, peeing in seatless toilets and eating food that could have easily spent a few more minutes in the oven. I was craning my neck to get a shut eye while also ensuring my husband or his brother did not take a nap on the steering wheel. I was cranky when we reached Barcelona.

From there on, every road we took was an adventure. Of course after a full night of sleep everything smells good and a smile is plastered on your face. Yes, the roads that took us through our vacation was filled with filthy toilets and basic food (sorry EU, you need to up your game on travel amenities along the road), but the views were one of a kind, the people were great and if all else sucked, the coffee still rocked. I am more of a tea person but the espresso and the style of serving it made me an instant convert. You cannot do that style with making tea.

This was one of the few vacations where I relaxed without worrying about coming back to work and mundane life. I relaxed at a coffee shop sipping on my new found love, noisette, and chatting up with our favorite Romanian barista who served coffee with such elan that I thanked my stars for being in that place at that time. Yes, this trip got me obsessed with coffee that my sister-in-law and I would sneak out in the pretense of shopping to get a sip of coffee. We would giggle like little girls while adding the 4th pack of sugar that most coffee shops thought was weird. We tried every coffees shop on the street and always landed at our favorite place.

All that high from coffee to looking at my lawn made me groan. This is it, the reality of life. You cannot go away thinking that everything will be at a standstill waiting for you to come back. Life growed on in our yard while time stood still in our vacation. I did not care if it was a Monday or a Friday. Every night when we settled in the various hotel rooms, we slept dreamless sleep, toes curled from all the walking and snored away to peace as the tired of the day behind slowly slipped away.

In a few days time, our lives will return to the grid but the memories we made will remain forever fresh like the Italian Coffee in the small shop across from Garbatella station in Rome.

Missing you already Europa. May you stand stuck in time from past with everything modern assimilating beautifully in to your lifestyle. May the coffee never go down with the recession. And hopefully we will meet again for a nice chat over a cuppa.

Love
Travelling ART

Friday, June 13, 2014

Travel Time - Page 8

The drive to Santa Fe was fun. We had music in full blast, listening to songs from all world languages we drove on lonely roads towards New Mexico. We also stopped en route at an Indian Reservation store and did a lot of shopping.We bought everything Touristy and spent a bit of a time there hanging out and stretching our legs.

Once in Santa Fe we changed and decided to live it up on New Years Eve. We put sickness out of our heads and headed to a local Mexican cuisine. We really loved the food and the ambiance. We ate our tummy's fill and drove to the city's town square.

There was a stage set up in the middle of the square and S, Babs and I got on it, played "Ainvi, Ainvi..." on our cell and started dancing much to the amusement of everyone around. We could not stop giggling. We urged the boys to join us but they laughed and refused to be acknowledged as a part of our group. Later we did convince them to do one step. We could not stop laughing at our dancing escapades.

It was so cold that night that we could not hang out a lot in the open. We rushed back to the warmth of our car and headed back to our hotel. M was going to join us to celebrate the eve with us.

M came with her daughter. Babs and the daughter started  bonding over Netflix while the adults bonded over wine and alcohol. We chatted our hearts out and yelled Happy New Year as the clock struck 12!! It was a fun trip indeed.

Our vacation was over. The next morning we headed back to Dallas feeling bad that the fun times were over and we were back to reality. Despite having flu we enjoyed the trip very much. We go to see so much that we would have missed had we flown to  these places.

America is vast. Unimaginably vast. I cannot still comprehend the vastness, ok you get it. We drove through so much wilderness with not a single human to be seen for hundreds of miles. It freaked me out a couple of times when it was just the three of us driving through the blackness of the night. America has awesome roads even where only ten cars drives through in a day. We saw beauty that nature has made and that which is man made, both of them have their own charm and deserve admiration.

If I had to do it again, sick or not sick, I will do it all over again but I would want to go to Yellow Stone! Maybe end of this year :)

Love
Exhausted ART

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Travel Time - Page 7

The La Reve show we saw at Wynn was something special. I have never been to any of them ever before and just the set was spectacular for starters. Later as the show began we had our mouths open for most of the time. People going in and out of the pool that seemed to be going in and out too. People jumping from 30' with no protection into water and starting to dance. Amazing! We thoroughly enjoyed it as we headed back to spend our last day in luxury before we drove off from Vegas the following morning.

By this time, typically people with flu would have recovered but since G and I both drugged ourselves to heal, we were still sick. On and off fatigue and weakness and fever with cough and cold. We did not want to give up. Our from S was also falling sick but he braved on too. There were two healthy people in the car as we headed to Sedona.

The drive was spectacular. I bugged G into driving us to Hoover Dam. He sulked as we had already seen it but I persisted. Babs and I quickly walked up to the dam, took photos and got back into the car. By the time we reached our hotel in Sedona it was dark. The drive down through the mountains was scary but S drove really well and took us to our rooms safely.

The hotel itself is another story. It was adobe, red floor, quaint and picturesque. From outside our rooms we could see the red hills. There was a courtyard and a cute little restaurant. We ate dinner and heard a local musician sing. He got fascinated by the little monkey Babs and dedicated songs for her. We danced with our spouses and Babs. It was romantic and cozy.

The following day we woke up late, relaxed, ate breakfast in a cute little restaurant and headed out to see FL Wright's church Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona. It was a hike and we did it enjoying the view all the way up and down. G and I declared that we would consider Sedona in our list of top 10 places to settle. So far Goa is the only other place on the list.

We followed our church walk with a visit to the Amitabha Stupa. It was peaceful. We sat down there in silence for quite a bit as Babs played with the glass stones, collecting them and dispersing them. She was in her element being a kid while the adults sat down and thought about life as it stood till that day. There is something peaceful about anything Buddhist.

We ate some local ice cream in the cold and Babs and I got to play some wind instruments in the Sedona main road. It was super fun. Later that night, we headed back to our rooms, changed and enjoyed dinner at the hotel restaurant again. There was a jazz musician there that night. Before we headed to our rooms my girlfriend S and I danced Bangra to Jazz and ran out of the restaurant giggling like little girls. We could not believe that we had started off dancing nicely and then suddenly decided it was time to add the Indian flavor into Sedona! ha!

Last night in Sedona before we headed to New Mexico. The vacation was winding down but none of us felt better health wise. The spirits were up but the spirits we bought from Dallas was still in the sacks as none of us were in the mood to get drunk while loaded up on fever meds and antibiotics...

Love
Sickly ART

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Summer!!!

I still cannot believe that a whole academic year has gone by us. Our daughter finished her first year in school. It feels like yesterday when I wrote the post on her starting school and now I am writing one about her finishing it.

As always, a lot of confusion, not that I had to do anything for it but the whole end of school year came so fast that I was not prepared to handle the suddenness. I did not know what to expect and there was nothing out of the box but just the feeling that it is all over and now daughter will move from summer camp to summer camp came upon me very fast. I am lucky that my brother is spending a few days with me, so Babs is staying the first week off school at home. After that the scout for summer camps will start.

Babs had a good school year. I would say Great actually. At first, she did not care for it much but after a few months she settled down well. Now, I have few apprehensions about first grade. She will be a grade schooler next year! No more little kid. Well, she never was one. Her attitude and spunk always made me feel that she was wise and old beyond her age.

I miss my child not having the summer vacations that I had. I know it is random but my summers were filled with staying in bed late, eating late breakfast, moping around the house, playing with neighborhood kids, fighting, napping, eating mangoes, roaming around like vagabonds, just chilling in the house. Unfortunately for her, this is not the case, she has always spent 80% of the year in some form of day care. Does this make me feel guilty? Hell to the yeah (trying to sound cool and hip)! What can I do about it? It is not like I chose to give her this. All haters be damned.

I still think it is relaxing for her. Previously she was in a montessori and it was not a big deal but now when real school is off, she feels the fun of summer vacation. I am planning to make sure that she has fun at least a few days.

Other than that. Life goes on. Some disappointments, some sadness, general ok-ness but not feeling high in life. Waiting for that strong wind to lift me up and give me a few happy moments!!!

Love
Summer Amma!

Travel Time - Page 6

Vegas, as always was welcoming. We loved the hotel room, the view, and the relaxing pace we woke up with. We went down to the hotel restaurant to eat breakfast, which was deliciously lip smacking. Lolled around a bit more before we showered, straightened hair, and dressed up to emerge out of our rooms. We met up with more friends at the mall across the street, ate banana crepes bringing back memories from Paris and aimlessly wandered about doing nothing.

We got back to the room, slept some more and then awoke to get ready for Stratosphere. Not that I do any rides but Babs was excited and so were three other adults. I was happy for them and we left. It was good fun for everyone but Babs did not like the gravity ride much. She explained that it was a big mistake for her to go on it. She did throw a hissy fit when the boys went on two other rides without her as she was too small to ride them.

Babs and I got dropped at the Circus Circus casino where we spent a couple of hours seeing a show and doing some games. I really wonder how they let that establishment exist. The dinginess, the mustiness and the lack of visible exits freaked me out. The architect in me constantly kept spotting the exits just to be sure that I could escape should something started to fall apart. While we were there. the guys picked up McD's for Babs and came back to pick us up. We headed back to the hotel, relaxed, chatted a bit and hit the bed.

That night G coughed and it freaked me out, it was long bouts of cough when I thought he was spilling his guts out. The cough would go on for so long that it freaked both of us out. I did not want to be left behind and took part in the synchronizing coughing contest. We had breathing issues, fast depleting our drug reserves and we were tired a lot. The following morning decided to head to CVS minute clinic while Babs went with her favorite aunt and uncle to see the White tigers at the Mirage. She picked up a stuffed pet and named him Skylar Baby. Skylar Baby goes everywhere with her even today.

G and I came back equipped with the right drugs to push through the rest of the trip and remaining drive back home. We ate lunch and took another nap to get ready to see the night lights of the sin city. Babs and I saw the fountains at Bellagio, walked fast to see the fire show at the Mirage, and then got picked up by G to take us back to our hotel.

We dressed up once again and headed to eat our most fondest dinner ever. We were at Carnevino, Batali's restaurant. From the time we entered Wynn to the time we left with a full stomach we were enchanted. Had no idea that poached egg mixed into mashed potatoes would be so heavenly, or that gnocchi Batali style would change my idea of pasta. Everything we tasted, drank, ate was divine. We left that place so happy and we still cannot stop about that dinner. Babs was beautiful throughout the evening and crashed a few minutes into the dinner.

The following night we had tickets to see Le Reve by Cirque Du Soleil. Could not wait!!!

Love
Happy ART

Friday, May 16, 2014

Travel Time - Page 5

The following couple of days we chilled at home. All of us trying to get over whatever we were suffering. We saw a few movies at home, ate out quite a bit and the kids played and fought enough too. We had the gifts wrapped and on the 25th morning the kids woke up to see that Santa had indeed delivered. There were all sorts of goodies and the entire day passed on playing with them. That night, I did laundry and packed for yet another road adventure. We were still coughing, sniffling and feverish but the trip had to go on.

The following morning we ate a heavy breakfast and set out on the road once again. This time going south and east towards Vegas! The drive was uneventful, thankfully. The last time we did the same drive we were stuck in traffic for four hours en route. We stopped at a gas station to get Babs lunch and it took me 20 minutes to get out with McD's kids meal for her. I was exhausted. There are far a few exits on this route and each one was filled to the brim with hungry and weary travelers.

We drove through the dust bowl and then through the Nevadan dessert onto Death Valley. Everything looked beautiful to me. The barren mountains to the windmills dotting them along the way, the cacti and the thorny bushes, the brown soil that changed over to red and the hills that were now dotted with dark green shrubs everywhere. There were miles of nothingness that we drove through, at certain times, we were the lone travelers on the road. We kept an eye on the gas tank and our water resources.

G and I had our first fight on the trip, he would not let me drive. He wanted to control the driving. Every time he would let me drive, it was closer to dusk and I was not comfortable to do so. It was also about the time Babs started asking me to sit back with her so she could lie down to fall asleep. This time I would have none of it and threw a hissy fit. We yelled at each other and then calmed down, laughed at ourselves and exchanged seats. This was also the only time that we almost died, thanks to my skills.

Finally, the lights of the never sleeping city came up in the horizon. We were happy. We were going to get a break and also meet our BFF's there who had already checked in and also seen a David Copperfield show and were now waiting for us to have dinner with us.

We got there, excited, happy, screaming in joy. We had booked in out favorite hotel yet again, Trump. It has a kitchenette and we love the idea of cooking breakfast and heating up milk for Babs at our own will. The one time we stayed at Venetian, I had to go to the Starbucks on the casino floor to get the milk warmed, and I hated that.

Once we checked in, we realized that we were all too tired to step out. So we ordered in some slight refreshments and hit the bed early. Looked like either we had infected SC or he was already on the verge of falling sick.

We shut the blinds to turn away the brightness of the city from coming into our room on the 22nd floor. The view was spectacular but we had to get some rest.

Vegas Baby! Not that we are big gamblers but we like going there!

Love
A Not-S0-Gambling ART

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Travel Time - Page 4

We woke up for a good breakfast in San Francisco and then took a nap. All of us. Apparently everyone in CA were also going through a bout of flu. It was a flu-filled family. Once awake and fresh we headed to a local coffee shop to have some scones and tea and listen to some good live music. The day came to a quick end as everyone wanted to rest before the trip.

We packed up, loaded tons of food again and warm clothes and headed towards the beach. We reached the place where we did the Seal Walk. It was a 3 mile walk on a sandy beach seeing the seals come in and do their thing. The timing was perfect, we saw elephant seals up close about 3 feet away from us. They were tired after their long journey and were resting. Some were violent but most were just tired. Some photos and we headed back to the car. It was a beautiful day. Perfect to do the outdoorsy stuff.

From the seals we headed to the Piece De Resistance. A youth hostel besides a light house. It was beautiful, picturesque. Often time we have wondered why we never bothered, but this time we were the lucky ones. We shared a three bedroom house with 10 other guests. Our room had three bunk beds for the six of us. We settled in, more photo ops by the setting sun, the light house, the ocean, more seals. It was perfect. After dinner at a local fare, which was uber gourmet, we headed back to the lighthouse to see the stars. There were billions of them in the sky that night. We could keep staring at them for hours on end. The cold got to us, so we got back in and relaxed in the bunk bed. Babs, me and G, shared one bed so the sleep was tight but we slept nevertheless.

We had to leave the wonderful hostel and go back to the city the following day. We were definitely not excited. We re-packed and took more photos by the succulent cliffs and stopped at a beach as the kids begged us. The water was cold but not cold enough to stop the kids from getting in. The waves played tricks and even a few adults got wet by accident. I stood above and took photos with my zoom lens. I was not about to get my shoes or clothes sandy and nasty.

It was sad saying bye to the water but the kids all shivering got cozy in the back of the car again and started playing games as we headed into San Fran. We had to do the view point at the Bath house and the Golden Gate Bridge that we never missed. So far, the past four times we had had perfect sighting and we did not want to jinx that. The Sutro bath house was glistening in the sun as we took more pictures, sorted some fights between the kids and headed towards the Golden Gate.

We walked the bridge, and then drove up the mountains. Perfect. We were all beat and tired. The kids wanted food and we wanted rest. The windows were down because two of us wanted to throw up, one of us was pregnant (not me). So back at home, we rested while the men went and picked up dinner. I remember vaguely seeing some movie before sleeping on the couch itself.

All of us were beat!

Love
A Tired ART

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Travel Time - Page 3

Early in the morning, I was up. I got ready, packed up and sat down to write down all the happenings thus far while Babs and G were still snoring. As soon as they were up, we ate the last bits of the food we had packed for the trip and left to see the Arches. We were the first ones to arrive at the Park, the guard informed us. In Utah, we have been pleasantly surprised at how nice the Guards at the National Park were. They were very friendly and super nice to us and explained all the million questions we had.

Going up the mountains, there was snow everywhere. It was like being atop Mount Kailasa, I thought. So beautiful. We stopped by a lot of the arches and took photos but could not hike. We were lazy and we did not have much time in our hands. We did the roundabout drive, marveled at the beauty and the dangers we had to drive through to see some of these natural wonders. There was ice on the road, snow on the steep cliff like sides but we made it back to the road in one piece. As we were heading out hoards of tourists were climbing up the path we had seen. I was happy that we had finished seeing the beauty in privacy.

From there on, we knew we had to be in San Francisco by the following morning. We started our drive coming down the Rockies. The beauty of these roads cannot be explained in words, they need to be experienced. We drove besides brooks, tracks, cliffs and nothingness. There was thick dense fog and all of a sudden bright sun light. We were up in the mountains and then in flat ground. There was snow everywhere and not a drop of precipitation anywhere. We could not get enough of it.

At lunch time Babs suggested Desi food. G obliged and we hunted down one in Salt Lake City. It was good to eat fresh, hot Desi food. After hogging down the buffet, Babs and I relaxed in the back seat while G drove. The road was a straight black line with miles and miles of white pure snow on either side. It was difficult to stay awake. I got up and sat next to G talking to him and keeping him company. As we got closer to Nevada the snow seemed to disappear giving way to the open barrenness of the Nevadas. Every time we climbed up the hills, there would be snow and on the descent we would drive through normalcy. Prius was rocking it.

After all, the Prius was on a pilgrimage. That is what G and I called it at least. Prius was going to see other awesome Prius'es at San Fran - the home or Prius and tree huggers. Eventually about two hours to midnight we were in the Sierra Nevada mountains. It was big, scary and shone white in the moonlight glistening with snow everywhere. I had been warned of her and I prayed to let us pass through peacefully. And so we did. Not a single stop or scare, we were into the Valley. An hour past mid night we were drinking wine and sitting with family who mentioned to us more than once, "You guys did it! But you are nuts!"

I agree, "we are nuts" to have driven so far with the most happy little girl ever. We fought for the camera usage and that is all. She ate snacks from the snack pack on her own, and napped on her own. She was allowed one hour of TV time every day after dark and before sleep and she used it wisely. She drew sketches and wrote her diary sitting in the back. She did not throw any tantrums and reinforced to us that she was the awesomest little traveler ever!

Love
ART

Friday, May 02, 2014

Travel Time - Page 2

We were on the road sniffling, sneezing, coughing and doing the "ayoo," "amma." all the way out of Texas seeing the tumbleweeds cross our path often times. Babs took a nice long nap and was ready to see the Texas country side disappearing into the early winter darkness. We stopped for dinner and Babs got her hour long movie time which had the car illuminated as we drove through pitch darkness otherwise into New Mexico (State #2).

On our way family from CA called and suggested that the weather going north seemed fine and that we should take a break at Farmington, NM for the night. It was another 500 miles away and we drove through the night to Albuquerque to Santa Fe and then through some real wilderness into Farmington. En route we saw snow and ice accumulation but nothing else. We were not sure if we were on plains or on mountains.

We took a break at Farmington around 3.30am local time which was 4.30am Dallas time. We had been driving for some 15 plus hours. Sanjana was in deep sleep when we checked into a hotel and hit the sack hard.

The next morning we were up early, by 7.00am and we were out after breakfast and cleaning up at 9.00am. On the road the family suggested we do Monument Valley which was not a long drive and then settle for the night at Moab. We thought it was a fine decision, from having no plans, we actually had one now. So we drove through some of the most beautiful landscape ever seen. It was red, brown, little trees, actually no tress just shrubs and bare and yet beautiful. I told myself that this is probably how moon or mars would look. the rock formations were amazing, Babs and I played the "what does this rock look like to you" game. It was fun and thrilling.

We realized that on the small state route we were driving, if you saw a Cop car drive up on your side of the road, it meant pull over out of the road as a vehicle carrying a big pipe wider than one lane was coming up and it will not stop for you. We learnt it after the first cop gave us the glaring for a life time.

We stopped to have lunch at a small town. We still had the home packed lunch, so G and I ate that while Babs enjoyed some fast food and then we headed into Utah (State #3).

We got to the entrance of Monument Valley and took the wrong turn and drove through some more wilderness. We realized that we were not on track when the road abruptly came to an end. So we lugged ourselves back to the right place and words cannot describe the beauty that only nature can create. We decided to brave the drive on the untamed terrain in our cute little Prius who was awesome. She can do everything a normal car can do. After some photo shoot we headed back out and started our journey towards Moab.

Family in CA booked our stay for the night there and we settled into the hotel room before heading out for dinner. We wanted to eat some fresh dinner, and what more to remind us of home than a Mexican restaurant. Of course Mexican in Utah tasted different and we missed the Tex-Mex. Babs and G shared a bed because Amma dead was too tired and slept by 8.30pm while daddy-daughter saw some TV before calling it a night.

We were scheduled to see The Arches National Park the next morning.

Love
A Weary Amma!

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Travel Time - Page 1

This post is written in the hopes of retaining some memories from all the fun things we did in December. I will post in several chapters or episodes depending on time and life.

We had a plan. A Plan to take a vacation but we were not sure what to do. We had 15 days in hand and all the tickets to fly out of the country were out of our budget. We still wanted to hang out as a family and do something fun that was not at home. We decided that we will put our Prius V to test and take her on a long drive. Where to? We had no idea. We wondered if we should go to Yellowstone, "nah, too cold and parts of it might be shut." Then where? We wondered for about 15 more minutes. "California, of course," G and I suggested at the same time.

So we sat and stared at the map of United States for a few days, spoke with a few colleagues and friends. Many of them warned us against it, "the weather, the cold, the longness of the drive," they all said. G and I said, "We have drive from NJ to Wisconsin, from NJ to Dallas many times, and most of them in horrible weather. We are ready for it." Actually, we just hoped we were. I read through trip advisor, posted questions, got responses that also warned us against it. One of them suggested, take blankets and food for at least 3 days. We did all that, at least I did, G just smirked, "we will be fine," he reassured me. I questioned him, "how do we know? We have never been that-a-ways. Plus we have a little girl with us. If not for us, at least for her," I suggested as I dragged him to one Wal-Mart trip after another.

We thought we were all ready as we got closer to our trip, I was trying to wrap up work before the trip and so was G. Babs was counting the number of days she would be off while her classmates attended school before the December Holidays. We still had not decided the route to take and hence had no hotel bookings sorted out. We were going to wing it. The plan was to get to California, "how?" We had no idea. But that was the great idea and we were going to go through with it.

While doing the planning, a couple friend of ours decided to join us on our way back. So we sorted out the tentative dates, which eventually became final dates as we had others involved in the trip. Now the upward journey to California involved only the three of us but on our way back we were picking our friends up at Vegas. Now we had concrete dates, hotel bookings, and other fun things planned for that leg of the journey. In CA, G's cousin also made some bookings at a youth hostel next to a light house. The whole thing sounded romantic and we were getting excited by the minute.

The days neared and it was the Sunday before the Wednesday we were to leave on our vacation. Girish is coughing and complaining of mild body ache. On Monday he is bedridden with a high fever and I am starting signs of sore throat. On Tuesday he is on Tami Flu and I also get one prescribed because I can also feel the onset of a fever. That night the three of us went to bed at 7pm and woke up on Wednesday at 9.30am. The Tami-flu, the need and want of a vacation, and the Advil, cough syrups and other concoctions got us out of the bed. We were still thinking if it was a wise decision to drive with full blown flu for the two of us. And if you knew us you would know we are nuts, and so we decided to pack and leave. Since we were sick the last three days, not a thing had been thrown into the suitcase.

The next few hours, we answered work emails, tied up the few things that needed to be taken care, and started to pack. Once packed we ate some leftovers and just as we loaded the car fully G suggested that we pack some home made food for dinner. In swift South Indian movements I quickly made Curd rice and Puliyogare while G made potatoes. We were ready for the show...er...road.

To the Journey that took us through 8 American states where many a memories were made.

Love
Traveling ART

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Just Because!

Babs: Mom can you spell "Aphrodite" for me?
Me: Why?
Babs: So that I can listen to that song on YouTube.
Me: Babs I have told you, you cannot go and use YouTube without me next to you.
Babs: Yes, Amma, I am only going to hear the song not see the video.
Me: Still...
Babs: But how do you spell the word?
Me: Nope, not saying it. Not going to let you watch a Ri Ri song without me.
Babs: Amma, it is Katy Perry, not Ri Ri.

Me: *Face Palm*

Ever since she learnt to spell I am worried about her YouTube use. Previously she would make me type the searches but now she can do it on her own. And most song she wants to hear, have videos that are not "Amma" approved. My old phone that is now her phone does not have a lock for kids on the apps. I am always afraid that she will see something that is not age appropriate but she is a good kid.

So she has learnt to bike, of course. Which is followed with intense practice every day. She is so aggressively trying to master it that it was difficult to say "Pack up" to her yesterday even when the wind was turning cold and the sun was setting.

I surprised Babs this week in school by dropping in for lunch with her. The look on her face was priceless. I was a little worried that she might be sad that I had not taken her favorite lunch (Chick-Fil-A) and instead made her eat her father packed lunch box. But she disappointed me by telling me, "I am happy you are here. I don't care about Chick-Fil-A." That was a proud Amma moment for me.

Babs has also promised me that she will live with me when she goes to college. Let's see if that holds up!!!

Love
Amma

Monday, April 28, 2014

Milestone!

I have kept small notes on when Babs rolled over, stood, or walked, or talked and other such milestones written down in a small book. Most of those were seen by her baby sitter before me but I refused to acknowledge those dates. For me, it was important when I saw her do something first. That is the only way a working mom can relate to those firsts. Babs has always been a super independent child. She was on her own from three months and to this date she rarely throws me into a guilt trip for being a working mom. Most of the trips I have are on my own accord. She always seems to understand when I say, "I am sorry, I cannot make it."

I digressed and now coming back to track. Yesterday, I witnessed a milestone. One that I can proudly say, "I was there when it happened, and this one, for sure, happened in front of me first!" My brother and I took Babs out yesterday for a bike ride. I had done this twice in the past few months. I am too lazy to bend down and hold her. So I had told her to scoot herself around and figure balance out. She is an ice skater after all and balance should come naturally now for her. While she balanced, she went through a lot of frustration especially if we were on an up slope.

Last evening was different, my brother was there. The 6'-2" brother of mine did not hesitate to bend down to Babs level to help her out. After three or four times of holding her bike, she put two and two together and biked. All on her own. We could not stop our excitement. She went around the big parking island in her school four times. She was ecstatic. She would fall off or abruptly stop and drop the bike at the end but she rode on her own. No one holding, self starting and pedaling with all the excitement in the world. Finally, another milestone has been ticked off and this was witnessed by me yesterday.

Love
Proud Amma ART

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It is not Boo-Da!

You go through the pains of getting a tattoo. You are proud of it and flaunt it off saying, "I got a Boo-da on my left arm and a lotus on my right." And I cringe hearing it. I want to get up slap you awake and tell you, "Dumb ass, it is Buddha! not Buda, or Booda or Budda, it is Buddha." Looks like most of the people who want to show their "International" style or their love for everything pseduo exotic learn to say "Namaaaastey," with an annoying "yoga class" accent. Neither of them know what they are saying or if they are trying to say it right. If they only have to learn two words in a foreign language can't they learn to say it correctly?

I am tired of fighting the "Tumeric" battle and explaining that yoga is Indian but does not mean all Indians know how to do it or care for it as much as the yoga-mat-carrying-yoga-pant-wearing westerner. But, this is what 1 billion people can do, they can say Namastey correctly and know how to say Buddha without desecrating his name!

Love
ART

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Buzz, the Look, and the Swipe

Scenario: You are in the middle of a decent conversation. The one that you got a chance for after a long wait. It was the conversation that you were waiting to have. You are about to deliver the punchline, when you hear it and the other person feels it. In his pant pocket or her purse. They pick it up to see, while you wait hoping, please let it be a text. Your chances dwindle as they think a second to pick it up or not, in other words, are you important enough to ignore the call or not. Then they swipe to answer it and you are left to politely walk away giving the person their privacy to take a call.

That is how most conversations go. Thanks to cell phones, it is easier to avoid conversations. The smart phones allow us to stare into a screen while riding an elevator avoiding eye contact or politeness with other riders. It gives us a chance to be pull our anti-social self out. We let everyone know their place and our own. In a public space, staring into the screen gives you a feeling of  importance. In a conversation you let the other person know if they are important or not depending on your choice to answer or ignore the incoming call. If nothing else, you can pick up the phone, place it on your ear and act as if you are on a call to avoid someone.

Is this helping us? or not? I am not sure. Though I have done all of the above a gazillion times and I am sure I will continue to do over and over. Do I love it? Yes, when I do it and hate it when I got trumped by a phone. In spite of all the cribbing, this is here to stay, our future where we can have fun with our smart phone and people beyond the screen ignoring the ones standing right in front of us.

Love
Ignoring ART

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Spring!

So glad that it is finally spring. Time to drop the jackets and resort to simple spring cheaters. There is some rain here and there and always a cool breeze. I brace up to it before it all vanishes away into the heat of Dallas. The mornings are still crisp but the evenings pleasant. It is not yet time for us to open a bottle of wine and sip it in the backyard by the pool but it is getting there. Babs cannot wait to jump into the pool and G cannot wait to grill. I on the other hand am praying that all the pollen allergies should disappear from the world.

As much as spring brings happiness it also bring sniffling, that leads to some infection, therefore fever and a headache (literal and metaphorical). The entire house is under the curse of the sniffles, sneezes and the cough. I am tired of replenishing the tissue box and the allergy medicines. I have spent two days at home sleeping it off and so did Babs. G on the other hand is braving it and making it to work.

I am so torn between being happy that winter is over and we have longer days now and sad that spring is the advent of nosies!

Oh well! Welcome Spring. We cannot wait to get in shorts and tees!

Love
Sniffling ART

Friday, April 04, 2014

Lunchbox and other such pretension!

I invest my time to watch a movie. The director and the wine glass holding-art show going-Tchaikovsky talking people call it art. I, on the other hand am the front bencher. The one that whistles as soon as Rajni comes into frame or screams in glee to see Sallu's shirt rip away from him. I never try to cross the border. There is a strong line and I do not see myself standing across the room. I like simple things, easy to understand things. My brain likes to see a problem, solve it, and move on to the next. I cannot linger at one point trying to figure out what all a single blob on a canvas represents. Maybe that is why I am an architect and not an artist.

Once in a while, we all tend to slip. It is important to understand that these slips can be fatal. Like the time I slipped and saw Dobhi Ghat. If I have to come up with the ending myself then I will write my own story, thank you. Or if you do not know how to end a movie, leaving it open ended makes it sound arty...

The most recent transgression was "Lunch Box." Critically acclaimed and all the deal, it had Irffan Khan, Nawazuddin. What could go wrong? Well what could? The story. Yes, that is what went wrong. This was "You've Got Mail" in a friggin' lunch dabba. That's what it was. "Kadhal Kottai," in Hindi in a tiffin box or the irreplaceable Beladingala Baale which will always remain as my favorite Kannada Movie.

All these great legendary movies, yes, that is what they are because they had an ending, were done so richly. There was never a claim to great acting prowess or tones of age on the coloring of the movie to prove genius, they all had a story that was being told or retold in a simple way. No one wanted to claim rights to the wine glass holding-art show going-Tchaikovsky talking people. They just wanted to be a movie, a story, an expression of love. The movie was bigger than the stars. There was no pretension. That is the point. The lack of pretension made these other movies more watchable than "Lunch Box."

So, if you have time to spare, I will watch some no-brain-needed-to-enjoy movie like a Sallu starrer than this one. Waste of time, and in the end you are left hungry and missing the childhood where amma packed your yummy dabbas to school.

Love
An irate ART

PS: It is not a terrible movie but it just made me super disappointed. I did not like the way it ended because I am a romantic at heart (oops spoiler alert). These are my opinion only and nope, they cannot be changed.

Kalyana Samayal Sadham (Tamil Movie)

There is a time in life when you are a teenager and all you remember is dressing up and rushing with your parents from one wedding to another. There are times you wish you had not been invited. The endless smiling and acknowledging headnods to people you do not remember and mixing up names from the wedding you were at last night. The politics, the egos, the dresses, the jewelry and the comparisons, I could have done without. What I would have missed out on and still miss is the food. Each wedding competes at adding better food to their menu, the service, and just the smell of Kalayana Samayal...hmmm....there is a memory and a tune associated with this experience. The tune?? of course, the nadaswaram music. Aha! Besh Besh!

When I heard the title of this Tamil movie, I thought it would be all about the South Indian wedding, the dresses, the drama, and damsel in distress. How wrong was I? Like totally. 

This was the freshest of the fresh movies I have seen in a while. A movie dealing with a sensitive topic but handled so beautifully and in a mature way. Fussy girl gets engaged to a straight forward boy. Both fall in love in their pre-wedding phase and decide to do"it." While they are at it, they realize that the boy has a problem, yes, erectile dysfunction. This topic could have not been handled in a better way than this movie has. It is funny, silly, serious, and sensitive. There is a message and it is conveyed with maturity. The boy is vulnerable, the girl is sensible, and together they mature with their love. 

even if you cannot understand Tamil, you should see this movie with subtitles, or come over, and I can be your subtitles :)

And this is how good entertainment should be.

Love
Happy ART

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Field Trip, Holi and the Drinks!

Finally the Field Trip day came, maybe not soon enough for the kids. I was freaking out because I never claimed that I was awesome with kids. I can take care of mine just fine but other's kids? With a lot of fear in my heart I got dropped at school. Got past orientation and was handed my wards. My daughter, and her two classmates. At first I was afraid but after the first few minutes I realized that my daughter was the brattiest of the lot. More so because I was there. She jumped, hopped, skipped, took advantage of me and barely heard a word I said. While the other two kids heard everything I said and stopped when I requested them to stop and moved when I asked them to. I was surprised at how independent kids in this generation generally are. They know what they want and do precisely that.

I had taught in Grad School but that was to teenagers. Here, I was dealing with Kindergartners. Still not sure who is much scarier. The teenagers are always quiet and up to something while the kindergartners get you with their energy. The noise level in the bus on our way up was at unhealthy levels. This coupled with the noise of parents trying to make new-parent-friend screaming on top of the kids did not help. I kept looking at my three kids and they were behaving just fine. One boy and two girls, super cute. This felt like a sneak peek into a day of my child's life at school, not really, but still...

The three scheduled hours felt like a little less time while we were going through the schedule but once we were on the bus, it flew past us very fast. We looked at animals, ate lunch, saw more animals, resolved some compatibility issues, ate snack, restroom breaks, and the kids did not want to make another move and neither did we, the chaperoning adults. We were done and kept looking at our watch for 12.55 recon time.

The journey back was quieter, tireder children who now whispered. Babs refused to sit with her friends and snuggled up next to me, playing with me. I felt so loved with all the attention I got from her. On our way home we played for a bit in the park and then I logged on to work for a couple of hours.

The snacks were set up on the table, the drinks were lined up and pizza ordered and picked up when our friends came in. We ate, chatted, and the kids played for a bit then the colors came out. We emptied 20 packets of colors on 5 adults and 5 kids. We were all a happy but messy bunch. After about an hour of coloring each other, we cleaned up and laid down for the weekend to start.

I never thought I'd say this but it was an awesome time, going to the field trip and then playing holi. We enjoyed every bit of it, especially the kids. Sometimes I am the mom that is happy if her kid is happy and I feel ok with that. I do not need to put my personality through and push aside her happiness. The girl who spends more time at the day care, who understands when her mother cannot pay attention to her because of work, the girl who smiles through it all...I am happy to be your mom :)

Love
ART

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Picnic!!!

All of us in our school uniforms lined up at the pick up location for our school bus. We were going on a picnic. Which meant two things, one, you have no regular classes, two, a day with friends gallivanting through some park, dam, or some random place the school has chosen. Most importantly, no school.

There was always a nice lunch and snacks packed. We carried water bottle which always seemed to run out before lunch time and we were ready to head out and see Mukamboo dam for the fourth time. It did not matter as long as we were going somewhere. I am sure we went to other places but for some reason all I can remember is the dam. Kallanai was another dam we went to. It was always fun. The parks, the picnic lunch and the bus drive singing songs.

Thirty some years later, life has come a full circle. In a few weeks time, I will be escorting my daughter and her classmates to their Field Trip. This will be her first official school picnic and I am more excited than her.

Last night, when I went to bed, I started to see the images of me holding hands with a teacher-chosen partner walking through the gardens in Mukamboo or Kallanai. I don't know why the teachers taught that having a girl and boy hold hands would make them talk less, the logic was flawed and it never worked.

One image led to another and I remembered the picnics I went with my parents and their various clubs to different parts of Trichy. I am sure if I go back now, it will not be the same, but in my minds eye, all I can see is Green. That was the color of the Cauvery Delta. It was either green with paddy, banana plantation, mango orchards or just trees through which a green river would wind its way around. Every year, a little bit of the green was lost to houses, commercial or institutional. They could never win the fights...farmers never won.

Then, the mind wandered over to Plano, ranches that are now houses. You can still drive by and see a small ranch surviving putting a smile in your heart but at the end of the road you will see the unmistakable "For Sale/Lease" sign. It makes me sad, though I am one of those who bought a house in the once-ranch area. I pray that my daughter would see a lot of what I have instead of reading about them on wikipedia or text books. Oh Well...

Then of course, I fell fast asleep. It was too much thinking...deep and circuitous. Started somewhere and ended in a totally different situation.

Love
ART

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Second Baby??

Which one of us has not committed the faux pas of asking a friend, "So, any news?"

Well, I have. Only to close friends though. Sorry, and I am honestly trying not to do that often now. I understand that we live in the world of letting Facebook know everything about our life while keeping it a "secret" or "personal" from our friends. I understand, and once more...guilty of the same, therefore sorry again.

Here are my problems:

1. You are welcome to ask me if I am expecting/planning a second child. Please do not ask it in front of my first child. There you are touching a raw nerve and I am not sure how I will react. Politeness not guaranteed, no matter how close you are to me for being a moron.

2.You are welcome to ask me if I plan to have a second child, but do not ask for an explanation for my choice, that is personal. I do not advertise of share that even with Facebook.

3. You can ask me my reason, and if I land up being stupid enough to believe that you are being a concerned friend and explain, do not go ahead and give me advice on the pros and cons. You really think that we would not have spent time going through the pros and cons first before making a decision?

4. As a friend, support my choice or hold your peace, neither of which is going to make a difference to me. But stop talking about this at every given chance. If you really thought your consistent persuasion will make me change my mind, think twice.

If it happens, it happens. Else please STFU because it is none of your beeswax.


Love
Annoyed ART

Vacations!

You know how vacations are? They give you a target, a stopping point, a period in your hectic life. The day my dates are booked for a vacation I start working on everything as if life stops beyond the date of departure. As if mess in the house wont matter because I will be lounging in a tub in some far away place. As if work ceases to be, the day you say bye to everyone. As if everything comes to stop when you go bask in the merriment of the once-a-year vacation. A vacation that is always too short that you need a vacation to recover from (and never get). A vacation that is so much fun that you forget to sleep or take the two hour nap that you always wanted to take when at work, actually, your sleep becomes more of a two hour nap. A vacation at the end of which you realize that the world did not stop for you to take a break, instead you let things pile up and now it is a huge mountain waiting to crush you. The dirty laundry still needs washing and putting away, the house needing some TLC and workload doubled, and what is worse? Everyone at work is blaming you for everything gone wrong, yes, that is how scary things are. Of course you do realize close to the end of the break that things are going to get sucky for you when reality hits. But you delude yourself into believing that you have to enjoy the last few hours and hold on to time hoping that it would pull back, slow down. Oh well, that doesn't happen now, does it?

The truth is, a vacation helps us unwind, relax, and look forward to something, so if I have to go through the whole thing all over again, I would still do it with a spring in my step.

Love
A

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spooked!

Boo!

That is what we kept repeating the entire week before we left for our spring break weekend to Seguin, TX. Our original idea was to go and spend the weekend at Greune, TX but since we spent more time talking about it and not actually booking a place to stay, the only place affordable we found was about 20 minutes away from Greune.

The place, Mosheim Mansion, offered us an awesome deal, it was a bread and breakfast, that assured us that kids were not an issue. The price for two rooms included breakfast. We also noticed that it had 5 star ratings on all the websites where ratings counted but during that research we also realized that the Mansion was famous for being haunted. I asked the lady, Carol, with whom I spoke during the booking about it and she assured that there is nothing to be worried about, and even if there are ghosts they are harmless. With bravado, we booked. We screamed after we booked, because we had booked a haunted mansion for our spring break getaway. The four adults with the haunted knowledge could not stop talking about it. The two oblivious kids looked forward to spending the weekend together.

Rented, a car, picked up the other adults and hit the surprisingly traffic free road towards Seguin, TX, of course it was half past midnight when we were about 30 minutes away from Seguin driving on lonely, dark, Texas road when we spotted a guy, with a stick standing in the middle of the road. My friend S and I saw him but our better halves did not. We realized that the mood was being set. Each of us had a different image of the house we would be spending time in. I, having read the welcome email top to bottom, knew what to expect, while the rest thought it was in wilderness. In spite of knowing that it was in Seguin downtown, which I thought would be cute like Greune, I was in for a surprise when we drove through a broken down, dilapidated city. Each building stood testifying better times that they had seen. The rest of the adults sighed with relief when they realized that this was not an out-in-the-boondocks B&B.

We unloaded and headed up creaky stairs into creaky room, filled with portraits of random men and women dressed in period clothes. The rooms, stairs, halls were filled with antique furniture, lights, lamps, headless mannequins in corsets, and mirrors, mirrors every which way you turned. The kids were asleep but the adults were awake. G and S, had no fear, they explored the house, brought glasses and wine bottles from the welcome area, roamed around freely looking for ghosts. R and I on the other hand, screamed at the guys for leaving us alone for even a minute. Everything looked spooky for us. The surprising thing was that all of us slept peacefully that night.

The following morning, we strolled down via the stairway supposedly haunted by "John", to the dining room, the breakfast served was delicious. There was a lot of love and yumminess added to it. Hot coffee, eggs, bacon, french toast and German Pancake was served in elegant Victorian dining tables in chairs. The customer service was very good. Carol Hirschi, the landlady told us about the history of the house, the hauntedness of the property and also informed us casually that the room we slept in is supposed to have the ghost of a small girl. Thanks but no thanks...but we still continued to spend two more nights there.

The kids, on the other hand, went up and down the stairs, enjoyed spending time on their own while the parents sat down and tried to talk about life, future, haunted house, trip, etc. We spent the day at an indoor amusement park called ZDT's, thanks to the rains and the cold weather, our plans to go to Sea World was thwarted. We then drove to Greune, could not walk around much and landed up at Cooper's BBQ restaurant for dinner before heading back to Spookville. We played cards till we could no longer keep eyes open, cursed the loss of an hour to day light savings and hit the sack.

More good breakfast gave a head start to spending a day at San Antonio. The Alamo was visited, which the kids declared was boring, too many guns that only boys would be interested in, and too much walking without anything fun to do. The riverwalk was useless with the mild drizzle and the cold air, so we rushed into a restaurant to have a late lunch. The girls decided to sit on their own in a table for two and have their lunch. They had lemonades while we had our margaritas and enjoyed our burgers (mine was yummy portabellas). We drove back to the Spookapalooza before dark for the first time during our stay there.

Back at the room G and R took a nap while S and I kept an eye on the girls who saw TV, played games, made gazillion rainbow loom fish tail bracelets. Wanting to go easy on the food, we ordered pizza and wings from Seguin's best Pizza place, Rosie's, which was rightfully not famous for their wings, which was horrible. Ate the pizza, kids were story told into sleep and the adults sat down for another game of cards and yet nothing remotely spooky or ghostly had happened.

Final day, we packed up, headed down for some more the yummy breakfast and convinced Carol to show us the basement which is supposed to be the most spooked out place in the hotel. Nothing. No one felt a thing. None of those chills running down the spine, or cold air. We walked up, a couple of us relieved, and a couple sad, but the kids were happy to just walk up and down spiral stairs. We thanked Carol and loaded up and headed home.

S played piano for us each morning. We sang and danced to it in the main hall. It was blissful. We sang our lungs out in the car, and sang generally the whole time we were together. The kids joined us and taught us a few funny songs too. The house felt spooky because of the paint colors, dark and musty interiors, the furniture, etc, If we had not known about the haunted stories we probably would have not felt scared at all and enjoyed it a bit more.

We realized on this trip that our girls were old enough where they wanted to spend time on their own. They begged to have their own space and enjoyed in each others company. We saw dispute resolution at its best when the two parties involved were focussed on having fun and not wanting to waste time fighting. They showed beauty in their relationship when one stepped in to defend the other. They were always sad when we came into their space and begged us to leave them alone, which we obliged only too quickly to spend time adult time with adult friends. It turned out to be theirs as well as our spring break where we relaxed and did not do much else.

Will I do it again? Hells to the yeahs!!! At the same place, and enjoy it a bit more than the last time because I now believe that there are no ghosts there.

Love
ART

Friday, January 31, 2014

Funny...or Maybe Not!

What is a blog without penning down a few gripes here and there, now and then, and so on and so forth? So it is Gripe Time!!! 

My baby has beautiful golden brown reddish hair. Seriously out in the sun her hair shines red and indoors it is a demure dirty blonde. It is beautiful. It has always been like that. As people started noticing it they asked me a lot of questions, some of them that everyone thought it was funny but plain insensitive. And these questions were always asked in front of my baby!

Is G her real dad? Anu, tell me who is the real father...
 No you moron, I had an affair with a Caucasian and I am going to disclose it in front of everyone! Let us also let my parents or his parents who are around when you ask this question thinking how hillarious you are into my secret affair story.
Did you color her hair?
Yes, I fancy dyeing the hair of my toddler. I find it hard to get my hair get colored on time before it turns salt and pepper, as if I would sit and pollute my daughters head.

Your daughter has blonde hair!!!
Oh my God! Thanks, I have had her for 6 year and never noticed it!! Ever! You opened my eyes today!

Did she get switched at birth?
Yes, just like how you head is going to get switched with your arse!

Was she adopted?
Seriously Bitch! You want to ask that in front of my daughter? Were you adopted? Because I have met your parents and they seem smarter than you!

And for those who simply said, "she has beautiful hair," I thank you.

Thanks
Love
ART

Friday, January 03, 2014

A Wrap Up!

I don't think that 2013 was the best blogging year for me. That does not mean that nothing happened, instead it just means that I was so busy that I could not spend enough time on the blog. But all said and done, it is time to recap through the year that was...Generally speaking, 2013 was not a memorable year, most of it was blah, some scary parts, and then a few bits of fun here and there...

January - I really do not remember much of this month at all.  It is like I did nothing at all. There are no blogs to document anything and I am at a loss.
February - Accident.
March - I turned a year older, and wiser. 35! Whoo Hoo!
April - We started looking for a house aggressively.
May - We sealed the deal on the house. In one month we would move in! Start shopping for home essentials!
June - End of June, we finally moved into our very own nest. We had ten days to unpack and set up the house for our in laws to come and visit.
July - Father fell sick when my brothers were in India. I had to rush to parents side and spent a hectic week with them. I can never take the image of my father lying with tubes coming out of everywhere out of my head! Scary.
July also was the month when in-laws came. We had a great time chilling in the house.
August - Babs started big school. We finally made the move.
September - We did the Oktoberfest Run. My friends and I did the run in the morning and the fun in the evening at the world's second largest Oktoberfest! it was awesome!
October - Babs turned 6 and my parents spent a month with us. It was awesome!
November - Do not remember much other than waiting for Thanksgiving and the Holidays to start!
December - The big Trip around America.

On December 18, flu laden, Girish and I along with the awesome traveler Babs, set out on a drive around the south west. We started at our home and headed to Farmington, NM where we spent the night. The next day we saw the Monument Valley and spent the night at Moab, UT. On the 20th, we drove to the Arches National Park and headed to California. We spent 5 days in San Francisco during which we also spent a night in a youth hostel besides a light house. On the 26th we set out to head towards Las Vegas where we spent 4 days. We ate at Batali's, saw Le Reve (Cirque du Soleil), and tried new things. A two day stint at Sedona, and a one day stop at Santa Fe before heading home as tired and weary travelers. We had completed approximately of 4300 miles (6900 kms) in 14.5 days, driving through 6 states, 4 state capitals and visiting 2 national parks. It was the drive of a lifetime. And we are ready to do it all over again...maybe Yellowstone next time!

And with that we wrapped the Old year, packaged it behind us. Trying to forget the sadness it brought to my friends and to ourselves and hoping that things will get better in the future.

Happy 2014

ART!