About shivam04

Unexplained phenomenon

happy wedding anniversary, mom

I am feeling a little homesick. May be because it is Mom and Dad’s wedding anniversary today. What does it feel to be married for 47 years? I don’t know.

I miss wishing my Mom and Dad on this day. Stuti and I used to make breakfast and tea and serve it on a tray with a little card with some scribbles. That’s pretty much all we could do. I don’t remember any big celebrations. But it was a special day. My Mom and Dad were not big into gifts. I guess no one in middle class India was into gifts back then. The definition of middle class has since then evolved.

I wonder how my Mom feels today. I choke up every time I think of it. Does she remember this day from 47 years ago? Is that how memories work? Does she remember being a young bride? How did she feel that day? How does she feel now? I want to know what goes on in her mind, on this day. But I cannot. I don’t even ask.

I was in a meeting today when suddenly I started hearing a cacophony of ambulance sirens. My eyes blurr up when that happens. It becomes very difficult for me to be in a room full of people when this happens. But I recovered. I guess the topic under discussion was intriguing enough to pull me back. I recovered physically, but emotionally I am still strained. Just like a wind-up toy, my clockmotor takes time to rewind. It is exhausting. But it is life. I have become used to this.

To celebrate their anniversary I will light up an incense stick. It’s fragrance fills me up with warm and fuzzy feelings. I feel like I am standing next to my Mom and Dad. I am not religious. But I like rituals. Simple ones.

We find our tricks and hacks. Mine is an incense stick.

let’s weave

We watched Toy Story 4 today, with Tara. It was such a special feeling. The first Toy Story was released in 1995. We had just moved to Delhi that year. I heard all about it from my friends and I was bummed about not watching it. But somehow Woody and Buzz made it to my creative corner. Back then I used to cut out my favorite cartoon characters from newspapers, magazines and greeting cards and put them up on my cupboard. Haha I am totally dating myself here. But I have been a Toy Story fan since so long that to watch it now with Tara was so special. She really enjoyed it.

I am pretty certain this was the last of the series. Woody doesn’t need the kids anymore, and he moves on. Such is the life of toys, and ahem, humans. The movie has meta themes, as always, and is definitely has a more deeper narrative than any of the previous three. So glad we watched it πŸ™‚

In the morning I was on my weekend cooking marathon, and Tara helped me peel some carrots. Assigning chores to kids is a wonderful way to build work ethic in them. Tara knows she cannot help in the kitchen until she washes her hands with soap. She knows she has to be OK with messy hands, and has to clean up the mess after her chore is done, which includes taking the scrapes and putting them in trash. Her reward – marshmallows. πŸ˜€ She is a good learner. I am so happy that she shows initiative in the kitchen.

My Mom always told us, “no matter how busy and successful you are, you should always make it your responsibility to put together a healthy meal for your family. There is nothing demeaning about cooking for those you love.” I am usually a rebel when it comes to my Mom’s sayings. But I follow this one pretty religiously. And it helps that I absolutely love cooking. It is my medium of expressing love for my family and friends. I hope Tara enjoys cooking too. And if not enjoy, at least she should not think of it as a chore.

I started my annual reflections and a few interesting themes are emerging. Balance is definitely one of them. It is like a meta theme that is appearing across the major themes. The others are learning, and community. Learning – more like proactive learning, instead of just reflecting. And community is a theme that I’ve struggled with quite a bit. I cherish the individualistic society I am part of, and yet I crave the communal society I left behind. Isn’t there a way to blend the two? Does it have to be so polar?

I am extremely influenced by David Brook’s Second Mountain, and have been reading a little more about the Aspen Institute and especially Weave. I want to be a weaver. Because if I don’t then Tara will inherit a very broken society. But for that I need to start somewhere. And I want to start, this year.

We are spending July 4th extended long weekend in Laguna Beach. A quick trip down the coast to meet family, and enjoy southern California beaches. I am hoping we can catch some of the Disney fireworks. Tara is a little jealous that on my birthday there are fireworks everywhere. I cannot wait for her to find out that I have been kidding all this while. I have never seen 4th of July fireworks (aka my bday fireworks). I am not sure why. So may be that’s going to be a thing we do this year πŸ™‚

Next week is ‘no meeting week’ at work. So I hope to get a lot of pending work done. I can’t believe it myself, but I am actually excited. Can’t wait to start tomorrow.

One day everyone leaves…

Good things first – We celebrated the third annual picnic with our loving learning link families today. It is really a fellow mom-friend’s idea. But I tag along and do what is needed to make these lovely people come together and enjoy the shade of Rengstorff Park. The kids play free, and the parents take care of each other’s kids, while enjoying well deserved breaks in between. The teachers are taken care of, and the grand parents join in and share their love with hoards of kids. It’s a very joyful event and I particularly love watching the kids grow up over the years. Tara had a wonderful time and so did we.

It is so deeply satisfying to hear other parents tell me about Tara’s influence on their kids, and I share the same. Adam taught Tara how to eat peppers and broccoli, and Tara teaches him how to be brave and gregarious. Tara also was a mentor to the little one year old Rhea, and she still hugs Ahir’s Mom when she sees her pick him up from school. Also Noah is most social and least shy when Tara is around, and she teaches Mila and Alba how to jump from high benches, without fear. It is so endearing to hear these stories. I can’t believe they are talking about my Tara πŸ˜€

I usually shy away from dropping Tara off in the morning since I get super hooked to the lovely little humans in class. But sometimes I pick her up early and spend time with her friends in the school playground. I have not done enough of that lately 😦 So I was particularly looking forward to connecting with her gang from school. I got my full today.

Next good thing is that India won a nail biting match against Afghanistan. I had totally underestimated their capability. In fact I was not even going to watch the match. But when I checked the target India had set for Afghanistan to chase, I was tempted to jump in and dropped all my plans for the morning and was glued to the match. πŸ˜€ Once again, Agam could not care less about the match. But I kept him in the loop πŸ˜›

I met Dasha in Seattle on Monday evening. It is always so refreshing to meet her. We enjoyed a nice walk in downtown and then I walked back to my empty hotel room. Quite boring. But surprisingly relaxing. Sun sets really late in Seattle, so I was finding it very hard to sleep on time and accumulated a mega sleep deficit. Overall the trip was good. I was in SEA on Monday and KIR on Tuesday. Two very different offices, in more than one respect. The thrill on Tuesday was to race to the airport to make it for my flight. I got there 20min before take off. Phew, that has not happened in a while.

I spent a lot of time thinking about my team and my work on the flight back. My little black diary and little black pen came in handy πŸ™‚ Maido has opened in Santana Row and sells OHTO pens and Mnemosyne notebooks. I am so happy to go back to my old school ways, after trying all sorts of note taking apps. My notebook and a pen, we are inseparable, again. Now I need to remember not to start scribbling on the last pages of my notebook πŸ˜‰ On that note, Gulzar is coming to Bay Area for a poetry recital.

On to sad things – Last night we went to Palo Alto downtown, just to hangout by the fountain at Lyttton Plaza. Tara has lovely memories of getting soaked in that fountain and we love going back there and telling her all about it. She is taller now so the risk of being soaked is little. She enjoyed the fountain and Agam and I criticized the open air bhajan session held by ISKCON at the plaza. I was a little disappointed. We don’t need to bring God to humans. We need humans to seek God within, in their actions and in their words. But who am I to rage that war? I was just sad that our fun Friday evening turned into a loud and noisy one.

M is retiring. I saw it coming. We grabbed lunch on Wednesday. I didn’t want to talk to him about him leaving and nudged him to help me with my side project that I really must get going on. So I did not tell him how upset I am about not having anyone anymore to run to when I have my “wait, I have a question?” moment. I have lost two mentors at work in one month. It is sad. But I know I can reach out to them whenever I want. I just don’t have them on ping. And especially with M, I cannot just run down to the 2nd floor anymore and draw him out of whatever he is doing, and make him hear me out. I learnt so much from him. Humility is a skill I am learning, thanks to him.

One day everyone leaves. That’s just how this cycle works. I know this. Yet, I stay vulnerable to it. Some day I will give in to this truth. That day, I will learn that it is not about what I got from you in the moments that I will miss. But what we created together, and how it grew both of us in ways we did not know then, but I will know and feel, and experience, in your absence moving forward.

Looking at the little kids playing in the park today I felt a sudden calm. And I scribbled something in my notebook –

I cannot hold your stare long enough; you look so deep and even beyond

Unnerved, calm, giving, and with my consent, you shake up my world

I sit there helpless, and a little restless, hoping those tranquil eyes will drift me ashore

And then I look within, deep within, and I find the anchor that you had left there, last time we talked.

luz y sombra (light & shadow)

Today I figured out why I love listening to songs in different languages, without really understanding their meaning. Because I am really after the music and the rhythm, and I am pretty good at – (1) fitting my own lyrics to the music and (2) just imaging what the song might be about. I had this realization when I was listening to Luz y Sombra. I somehow knew that the song was about some sort of a contrast. And I swear I made it up without knowing the translation. I only looked up the lyrics now, six hours later. πŸ˜€

You, carry fresh roses in your soul

I, eternal and overwhelming disappointment

you, the calm of a summer sky

I, the ill-fated sadness of winterΒ 

Frustrated by spending so much time writing something I didn’t enjoy, I challenged myself to come write for myself πŸ™‚ At least something good came out of the three hour torture. I am particularly allergic to writing about myself in that way. I wish I could write in third person… I do that with OOO messages sometimes. Whatever!

Oh for the nth time in my short life, convictions and convenience went to war yesterday. Convictions won the short term, but the verdict is pending on the long term. I kicked myself in the foot for being so stubborn. But in the end I felt better. When I told Agam, he thought I was being difficult. Really?! I had to fight the battle in my mind, and I was being difficult? Ok so be it. But it reminded me of this phrase I read once.


Wrapped up in a thin white cotton sheet, she is looking at her sun, feeling the warmth of his eyes. They have kept her warm this winter. In that moment she is not silly, not stupid, not ugly and neither is she a mess. She is herself. There is nothing in between them. Just a passage of unsaid words and deeply satisfying glances hangs in thin air.

Sometimes she catches herself out of line and corrects herself, only to see him smiling back at her. She looks deep into his eyes for a moment, he acknowledges her presence there, even welcomes her in, but then she withdraws. She is afraid his eyes will break the code of silence.

She does not know what she has done to deserve this warmth. Her sun must also burn deep inside. Can she help? Perhaps she can share her winter with him…

murshid and hafiz

I learnt two new Arabic words this weekend. Murshid (a guide) and Hafiz (a guardian). I played with these words in my mind for a few minutes and decided that if I had to pick between a guide and a guardian, I’d pick a guide who can teach me to guard myself. I fell in love with the subtle differences in the two and realized how well they describe a father – he is a guide and a guardian. So to all the Dads who are the murshid and hafiz of their offsprings, happy father’s day!

Usually Father’s day comes with a certain degree of gloom for me. But today we converted gloom to full bloom, all thanks to the game of cricket.

Last night while we were catching up with Dadu Dadi we found out that there was an India Pakistan match today. I realized how disconnected I am with the world these days. Sigh! Cricket is the one thing that unites India, and Indians across the globe. How could I let this opportunity go by. What followed was a quick Sling TV subscription, and almost real time – Whatsapp and Facebook commentary. Agam could not care less about all the excitement I created, but Tara surely caught on to the mood, and we enjoyed, what she later called – the “episode” of blues and greens where blues always have to win. And the further the ball goes from the pitch, the more points you get. This was my definition of cricket for Tara. When I told her that Dadu, Dadi, Nani, Massi, Musa, Cousins, everyone is watching the same “episode” she also felt the connection and started sharing my enthusiasm. πŸ˜€

I plan to keep this excitement going until July 14th, or before if India gets kicked out of the tournament early. They played so well today. I absolutely loved Kohli and Dhoni’s chemistry on the ground. One can tell who is the murshid and who is the murid among the two.

I am in Seattle until Tuesday. And there is a part of me that wants to take a stroll to Storyville an grab breakfast there tomorrow morning. It will be such a grand start to the day. May be I will. It opens up at 7am πŸ˜€

birthdays are coming…

Tomorrow we go back to work and school after a 10 day break. Although we arrived back in Bay area late Friday night, the vacayness of our schedule continued. So tomorrow is really our first day back from our summer vacation.

This break was likely one of the more refreshing trips we have taken in a while. Sometimes you need a vacations after a vacation. But not this time. Our batteries are charged.

It’s birthday time in a few weeks. And unlike other people my age, I still care a lot about birthdays. Simply because I use them as a milestone when I measure myself against who I was a year ago. Have I become more patient or less? Did I learn something new? Did I meet interesting people and did I keep up my relationships or did they wither? Did I help someone grow? Did I pick a good habit in the last year? Did I get better at time management? Did I write more or less? Did I spend time doing things I love, with people I love? Did I make new resolves? Did I learn new cuisines? Did I come up with a cooking hack that saves 3min in making quinoa πŸ™‚ And most importantly did I share insights from my success and my failures with the world at large? Was I consuming or creating? Was I giving or taking?

I will be answering a lot of these questions, and asking some more over the next few weeks. FUN!