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.

Mommed Out

My last meeting of the day wrapped up at 4:35 pm. I leisurely walked back to my desk and looked at my phone. As if I was waiting for a phone call from someone. I kept the phone back on the table, and started looking through my inbox for unread mails that needed attention. The list was long, and my stamina was running low. I really wanted to go to Tara’s day care and play with her for ten minutes, before taking her home, and making idlis for dinner.

Tara’s day care friends are like my extended family. I have seen these kids grow up together. They were less than six months old when I first met them. From the shine in their eyes, I can tell that they love me. I love them too. Especially Tara’s sisters, as she likes to call them – A&A. I toyed with the idea of dropping everything and just leave. I’d skip the traffic, and I’d get to be with Tara and her sisters for some time.

A ping on Hangouts led me down a different set of activities for the next ten minutes, and at 4:50 I got a call from the day care. Tara had hurt herself, spinning on the spinner. She was spinning too fast, and she toppled and hurt her nose and lips. I could not understand anything that the teacher was saying in that moment. I recollected my thoughts and asked her, “Is she really ok? Is there blood? Is she crying?”. She responded, “Yes, she is ok. She is sitting with an ice pack. There was no blood, and she did not cry.”

All the worst possibilities started fogging my mind. But I was somehow able to push through the negative thoughts, and I told the teacher, “I am on my way. Ask her to count till ten and Mum will be there.”

It was 4:55pm when I unlocked the car and started driving. The drive is a haze except for that brief moment that I felt extremely vulnerable. In that moment two thoughts flashed my mind –

  • Did I know Tara was going to be hurt? And that’s why I wanted to be at the day care?
  • What is this bond that I share with this little human? It is unlike something I have ever experienced. I am as strong as a rock, and as brittle as glass, all at the same time.

I don’t know how long it took me to get there and if she counted till ten. But when I checked the time it was 5:13 pm, and I had already been playing with Tara and her sisters for some time. She was fine. A bit shocked, but fine. Her sisters helped her spring back in action. And we talked about spinners and the concept of momentum, on our drive back home.

Tara and I share a cord that is invisible, and yet invincible. She tugs at my heart, in every giggle, and in every tumble.

Sigh! I was totally mommed out today!


Three weeks ago, on this day, our worst nightmare came true. Agam met with an accident while playing bubble soccer at Garfield Park, at his team offsite. His teammates called my cell phone and I did not pick up since I was not at my desk at the time. I will never forget the leisurely walk to my desk, and the act of picking up my phone and reading the words, “Hi Emergency. I had a leg injury.” In my mind I told myself, “Oh poor guy, let me take him home and he will be fine.” Little did I know that I will be actually taking him to the ER, and that he will not come home for the next three nights.
I read the message and then listened to the voicemails. I had still not panicked. I called back at the number that had left the voicemail and I was asked to rush to the site of the accident. Bless the day I decided to go work for Google for I was at the field in six minutes, looking at Agam, who was in tremendous pain, yet smiling, and even sharing a faint giggle with the Paramedics. One of his teammates was holding his left leg. His shoe and jeans had been slit open, to access the wound. He was sweating profusely, and he was quivering in speech.
I am not a very helpful person when it comes to dealing with such a situation. Simply because I have never dealt with it before. My parents were overly cautious and except for one injury where my thumb went purple, I have never experienced an injury of this nature. I have been on the receiving end of another such phone call when Agam had injured himself in Goa. And another one when he drank diesel thinking it was Fanta, when he was in IIT. In both those situations, Agam was with his friends, and I was the FYI. In this case, I was the primary contact and not an FYI. I was being trusted with taking action.
The paramedics told me that they are taking him to the ER. They will not turn the siren on, and that I will reach before them and hence I should not rush, and hence I should drive carefully. I walked with the guys lifting the gurney and assembled my thoughts. I needed some answers. I just did not know what were the right questions to ask. I broke my silence when the paramedics were closing the door. I asked, “It is broken. Right?” The paramedic said, “Yes. He will need surgery.”
I did not listen to their instructions and rushed to El Camino Hospital ER. On the way, I called Nitin. And asked him to see me at the ER directly. I was still not in panic. I reached the ER and waited for the van to arrive. It took them a long time. Nitin came before the van did and I broke down. I don’t have a brother, so I don’t know how it feels to hug a brother when you need him. I know now. Because I hugged a brother that day, who helped me keep myself sane for the next many days.
The van arrived, and we were let into the ER. Then the wait started. Agam’s team arrived, and we all shared light jokes while I watched the clock tick. It was soon going to be time to pick up Tara. I had not picked up Tara since last three weeks. Work had been very busy for me in Q3 and Agam was doing the pick ups every day. Tara was not expecting Mommy. I also did not have the car seat. We somehow managed to get that from Agam’s car that was parked at his office.
It was 5:30 by now, and although we knew something was broken, we did not know how many were broken. We did not know if the surgery was needed ASAP or in a few days. If you know me, I need my questions answered then and there. It was not going to be the case today. I had to let go. I had to let go of my persistence. It was time to switch modes and become the strong Mommy who was to pick up her toddler and tell her a convincing story about Daddy not coming home tonight. I knew he was not coming home for a few nights.
I left Agam in Nitin’s hands. Knowing that Tara needed me more than Agam did. I don’t know where I got that wisdom from. This is Agam we are talking about. He was in pain, and I left him at the hospital to go get my baby home. And so I did. I let the teachers know what had happened, and I picked up my lil Tara and drove her home. We got out of the car and rushed to the park outside. There was nothing waiting for us at home. While we were at the swings I let Agam’s brother know what had happened. Tara and I walked back home, and I told her that Daddy was at work and was going to be late. She bought it. We had dinner alone, for the very first time. We then got her ready for bed, and followed all the rituals just as Daddy did. By 8:00pm she was asleep.
In the meanwhile Nitin and Agam spent the time chatting away, while Agam was put on IV pain meds. It was by 10:00pm that the doctors decided to do the surgery the next day. I wanted to rush to the hospital. But I could not. I had a little baby sleeping at home. And once again, I put her first, and told Agam to be strong. I told Nitin to go home, and asked Agam to sleep. There was nothing to be done that night. It was the right thing to do. But it was not what my heart was feeling. I let my mind win. I have let it win before. It helps in such situations. I also asked my brother-in-law to come down for the weekend from San Diego. I was still shy of asking people for help. It does not come easily to most of us. But I did. I did it because I knew that Tara needed me more, and somebody had to be by Agam’s side, with the weekend approaching.
None of us slept that night. The next morning Tara and I got ready and I packed her lunch maintaining the business as usual routine, dropped her at the daycare and rushed to the hospital. Aseem and Sukanya arrived and we all wished Agam good luck and sent him off to the OT for surgery. It was reassuring to meet the surgeon before the surgery. I needed to see who was going to fix my Agam. When the doctor came out after three hours he summarized his experience in a few words. “We did a lot of surgery today. But it’s looking good now.” I needed him to say those last three words. They were enough for me to leave Agam in Aseem’s safe and caring hands, and rush to the daycare to pick up Tara. I told her Daddy was not coming home tonight either, and she did well. We finished dinner and our rituals and she was off to bed by 8:00pm.
I rushed back to the hospital to see my injured soldier and took some Ras Malai for him. As I saw him eat it, I knew he was going to be fine. And I also knew there was a long journey ahead for the two of us.
The next few days are a haze. By Sunday Agam was discharged. We brought him home, and Aseem-Sukanya left for San Diego that afternoon. It was Tara, Agam and I for a few days, and then Papa arrived.
In the haze of that weekend, I was crushed to see my lil Tara get worried every time she saw me pacing up and down, back and forth from the hospital. I knew what could fix that. It was Dadu. And Dadu left everything behind, and rushed to be with us. By now, I had become better at asking for help.
In the next few days we figured out the office leave situation for Agam and me. Thanks to PFL, I could take this time off and work towards Agam’s recovery. We are fortunate to work for an employer that understands the plight of nuclear families.
The worst is hopefully behind us.
We have experienced so much love and affection in the last three weeks that I am overwhelmed. From Tara’s teachers offering to babysit her, to our friends bringing groceries and food over, to special bone soup deliveries by the Jindal family, and setting up a bed and attending environment for Agam downstairs, to celebrating choti diwali with Musa and Masi with mithai and sparkles, and several messages, emails, phone calls and offers to help with cooking, errands and Tara and the beautiful flowers from my team and a thoughtful Munchery group gift. I just don’t know where to begin thanking our friends, family and teams. So much love lives in the hearts of the people who surround us. I am thankful to all of you. For your wishes, prayers, and help. I don’t know how to make up to you for all that you have given us in the last few weeks. But please know that we will be there for you when you need us. In whatever way we can.
When my cleaning lady found out about Agam’s injury, and that I had to use some other help during this time since she has been busy with prior commitments, she broke down. I received several encouraging messages from her, reminding me that women are very powerful. That a woman can do a thousand tasks, and that too with a smile. And soon she called me to say that she wants to come back and work for us, since she wants to help our family through this time. I was left speechless. I am not sure what we have done to deserve so much love and loyalty from her.
I know we are all shaken by the recent election mandate. And that’s why I wanted to share this with you today. To remind you that human beings are very resilient. We can overcome any hurdle. And we do it by sticking together. With love and persistence we can fight all odds.
Agam is doing better now. Tara is enjoying all the attention from her Dadu. And I am happy to see my lil familia happy. Soon life will go back to normal. But in our hearts, we will always cherish the love showered upon us by all of you.
Thank You and a Happy Thanksgiving

Chasing Stars…

I stand next to a book shelf. Eyes glancing up and down, right to left. Looking for a companion for the night. A short, light read, that transcends me from where I am to where I could be. Limitless possibilities. I can always pick something I have read before. Or may be get a little bold and pick up Allan Bloom’s Love and Friendship. Just then, from the corner of my eye, I spot The Hindus by Wendy Doniger. I still have No Full Stops in India to finish. But there’s no rush. Such books are for the days when you cannot find anything else to read. And I can also write tonight. And may be I will…

Such is the feeling tonight. No rush. No goals. No preferences. And no agendas. All I am looking for, is a connector that will take me from where I am now to a peaceful sleep. God Bless such days.

With the 2nd behind us, I am now looking forward to the rest of October. With Ashtami on Saturday (and yes I have two kanjaks lined up for chole poori halwa), followed by Durga Puja, Dussehra and then Karva Chauth on the 18th, and then Diwali on the 30th, we have our hands full. The festival season brings out my most feminine side. It’s a season for purification and reflection, and of course Fall cleaning and Goodwill trips.

Switching topic – It is so unfortunate but we realize the value of people in our lives, only after they leave. When a close friend shared that she is leaving for Seattle, I was extremely happy for her. She is choosing a better life than the rat race of Silicon Valley. But on a personal level I was extremely sad. She was a wonderful thought partner. Someone I could easily share my world view with. And sadly there aren’t so many of such people around me. I often wonder if I am too selective, or too formidable. Regardless, I will miss my good friend and her free spirit which will continue to be inspiring, along with her intellect and charm. May she have a good life! I am just glad I could make her a biryani meal before she left. I only know of one way to show that I care. By cooking.

Switching topics again – Last Monday I woke up with a paralyzed right hand. With the pain intensity of 8/10, I rushed to the doctor to get myself some relief. And there I see my OBGYN. She remembered me and we hugged and I showed her pics of Tara. It was such a lovely encounter. For those few minutes I felt numb in my right hand. As if the pain gave way to cheer. If I have not shared before, I absolutely love my OBGYN. She is the smartest and most tactful woman I know. I seriously just want to ask her out for a Girl Coffee date some day. And I probably will.

Back to my right hand. Basically my bad posture since last 10+years of work life finally paid out. I have had more Ibuprofen in last one week than in my entire life. And I am wearing a hand split for good 12-16 hours a day, along with applying oddly smelling Arthritis creams, and ice packs when I can. Things were so bad last week that I had to rush home early from work twice, since I needed ice to ease the pain. But the good thing that came out of it was that I am learning to be ambidextrous. I can text with left hand and do a lot of kitchen and daily chores with little help from my broken right hand.

Last Friday I was also very thankful for the company that I shared a happy hour with. I finally have some real fun girl friends around me.  I guess this is one reason I will never be able to leave Google very easily. I love the people I work with. I learn so much from them.

Lastly, we accepted an offer on Granada. I am pretty detached. I expected emotion but there is none. And I feel good about the fact that I did not tie my emotion to a non living object. Perhaps I am finally becoming wise. Granada gave us a lot of memories, happiness, support and most importantly enabled us to buy The Nook. It will forever stay etched in our memories and will always be Tara’s first home. I hope the new owners will enjoy it as much as we did, and may the house bring them all the luck that it showered on us.

And that bring us to The Nook. Our final abode. It is complete, with a nook for our books, a lovely kitchen and our lil green backyard with its limes and roses. We look forward to a long innings at The Nook. May it be a launchpad for all things fun, creative, and satisfying.


Did it rain last night?

I was running to my father asking him to help her. He stood there. Cold and lifeless. He watched me with empathy in his eyes. His hands tied, and his lips sealed. Only his eyes could tell me what he was really feeling. He was telling me to let go. He had come there to make sure I was fine. I remember running to him again and again, and each time I went to him, I’d ask him to look at her. She was still with us. I was asking him if there was something I could do to keep her longer. To save her.
Her mouth was twisted and her eyes were full of tears. She too looked at me with empathy. But of a different kind. Her eyes told me they had some hope. Her glance was not cold. It was warm. I could feel the warmth in her body. She was asking me to stay with her. But I kept running to him. Asking him for help he could not give. I knew he was long gone. Why then was I hoping that he would act? I was in despair. One that I have experienced before. It was a very familiar feeling. Just twice as strong.
I sent her a message first thing this morning. Asking her if it had rained there. No rain, she confirmed. But the rain was just an excuse. I just wanted to hear from her. To know that she is still with me. To confirm that it was just a nightmare. It must have been a nightmare. In dream his hands are not tied. His lips are not sealed. In dreams he is his vibrant self.
But even if it was indeed a nightmare, and the worst of its kind, I found a dream within it. It is the only time, after all these years, that I was accompanied by both my parents. We shared some moments together. Even if it was just in my subconscious mind. Those memories are mine to keep.
I came to work this morning and checked to see if it had rained in some part of Delhi. May be the moisture was just in my eyes. Delhi is yet to get its rainfall.

Tara’s friends

I have the pleasure of spending any free time that I have with a bunch of beautiful souls. These souls are so pure that at times when I hold them I wonder if I will taint them with my sins. Being in close proximity to so much innocence is almost inebriating. Those eyes that seek nothing, but love. Those hands that are so soft, lacking any sort of roughness that develops with time. It is just too beautiful to be real.

I am in love with the kids at Tara’s day care. A form of love that I cannot put in words. Time just flies when I am with them. I make them take walks together, holding each other’s hands forming a human chain. I observe how some are willing to hold anyone’s hands, and some are picky. How some like to drive the human chain in the direction they want to go, and some just follow the leader. Some observe along the way, and some sing, and some even dance.

If I pick up one of them, the others want the same treatment. They all raise their hands up towards me and say, “Up..up”. Since they are growing up together, they learn the same words at the same time. And so when I am with them, we all speak their language. Tara cooperates a lot. She is not possessive. She shares mommy with others. But sometimes, she gets mad and drives the others away. I can make all of them smile with my silly tricks. They all respond to my love.

They are so malleable at this age. Like wax. The more love your pour into them, the better. You cannot inundate them with too much love. Such is the world of these beautiful souls. Endless and Pure.

I am so fortunate to be able to give Tara this experience. I will encourage her to keep in touch with this circle of friends for life. These are her first set of friends. And our first set of friends are always so special.

Faith & Kids

Last night I was reading an article about raising kids in a multi-faith environment. Agam and I are not practicing Hindus. Our most favorite place of worship in the US is a Gurudwara when neither of us is a Sikh. Given our confusing religious foundation, I often wonder what Tara will think about religion and its implications as she grows up. One of the points the author emphasizes in the article is that one should give the kids enough options to explore. By having access to scriptures from all types of religions, a child can perhaps dabble and explore and find a path forward for them. I went to bed with these thoughts in my mind.

I believe that religion should not be an anchor in your life. If you need an anchor to seek strength from, there is a lot else to lean on – like the trust that exists in a society, the sheer nature of humans to help and of course other social anchors like friends and companions. And that is why I don’t want Tara to see religion as a thing she has to choose and live with. It should be exploratory – now and always.

This morning when Agam went running and Tara and I were pacing up and down getting ready for our girls morning out, Tara uttered some words as I was passing by the little temple we have in our house. It is a multi-faith temple – pretty much every type of God can be found there, in some shape or form. She said, “Ding a Dell”. First, I didn’t bother,  but when she said it for the second time and pointed to the temple, I picked her up and asked her what she was pointing at. She repeated her words and I knew what she was saying. She was pointing to the bell and was asking if she could ring the bell. I gave her the bell and she started playing with it.

She was obviously curious since the temple has a lot of colorful things. Next, she picked up a string of rosary beads. Funny anecdote – these beads were bought in a small town of Wardha, outside a Sai Temple. I have kept it with me since those days since it reminds me of that phase of my life where I needed something to keep me going. Those beads did come in handy a couple of times when self-doubt refused to let go of me.

Next, Tara picked up a small plastic image of Guru Nanak Dev. She didn’t seem much interested in it and kept it back. And finally, she picked up the incense sticks. They smelled wonderful. She smelled them and played with them for some time. When we came down, I lit those incense sticks and Tara and I enjoyed the fragrance.

With deep intent, she observed the fumes from the incense sticks leave the kitchen window, and then at some point, she said, “gone”, and went back to her blocks.

With those fumes, I also let go of my thoughts from the night before. My child will pick the best path forward for herself. She is curious and she will explore. Even if she considers lighting incense sticks as her religion,  I will have lived my purpose.


My guiding ‘Tara’

I know you are growing big and tall these days. You can reach the counter top in the kitchen on your toes. And can even turn the gas knobs off and on. You can also pick up my scarf from the top of the bookshelf. But here’s what you still cannot do; wriggle out of Mommy’s arms when she holds you tight and demands a big and long hug. I know soon you will get there too. But I won’t stop asking for my big and long hugs up until I die. So you better get used to them.
Last Tuesday, as my plane took off from Irvine, I looked at the ocean below me and got scared. My first flight was only little over ten years ago, but ever since then I have traveled enough. I have never felt the fear that struck me unexpected on Tuesday afternoon. What if this plane does not reach San Jose? What if Mommy doesn’t come back? What will Tara feel? How will she sleep that night? Will she miss me? Such grey thoughts clouded my mind. I dealt with those thoughts by watching your videos and photos on my phone for the rest of the flight. But I realized how my life is worth more than the credit I usually give it. And the reason for that is you.
You are the youngest, yet the most naughty kid in your classroom. You run with the two-year-olds as if you are as big and strong as them. You love french toast, dosa, pancakes, dal and rice, soups, hummus and muffins. You also love smoothies. You climb anything and everything. You even climb me. You are strong. You are fierce. You are loud and you talk a lot. It doesn’t make sense yet. But soon it will. You like recognizing things. You picked a bird, mouse, giraffe and minion from a pile of toys. You also love to pick a book (call it boo) and come sit in our lap and ask us to read to you.
You love my water bottle. I got you one for yourself. You still love mine. We both drink a lot of water together. It’s our thing. Sometimes Daddy joins us too. 
You love my hair. You want to play with them when you are drinking milk, when we are eating, reading, and even when we are going to sleep. You put yourself to sleep holding my hair and then I take your hand and put it in your hair. 
You love it when I act as if I am eating your fingers. Your giggle is the best I have heard and your smile is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Your eyes express, they ask me questions, they tell me when you are manipulating me and when you need me. 
You run, not walk. You play with dogs and sometimes get scared of them. You enjoy Krishna Auntie’s home made cookies on weekend mornings. You even sit on your chair and table to munch on them (coz Mama made a rule – no cookie if no sitting). 
You sleep through most long drives. You are mostly good when it comes to eating outside. You love people watching and attracting them to you. You initiate games with older kids. 
You are loved by your teachers. You are moody, like me. You are sensitive to other’s feelings and their moods. 
You love to climb on the daybed and watch outside your room’s window. The sycamore does not have any leaves yet. But we check it out every day and share notes. You spot airplanes from the window and yell (aipane). You also spot crows and point at them and say (co). You laugh easily. You fake cry and then check if we are watching. 
You can name all your classmates and the official turtle – Bubbles. You can climb the stool to wash your hands and throw trash in the bin when asked to. You love playing with the colanders in the kitchen and exploring the pantry. You love it outside in our patio. You also give cute owie reports to the official Owlie in the patio. Owlie protects us all from evil, is my storyline.
I cannot stop talking about you to whoever I meet. My colleagues think I am obsessed with you. I laugh a lot ever since you have arrived in my life. And I feel you are filling an abyss that had developed a few years ago. 
When I was walking from my parking spot to my desk, a beautiful breeze swept by me. I had experienced that breeze before. Long ago in another life. And for some reason, the breeze filled me with a lot of hope and happiness. I stopped and experienced the breeze for some more time. At that moment, I felt wonderful about where I am in my life. The last time I felt like that was when I walking to my office in Denver, the first day of my first job.
Tara, you are the breeze.
You are my guiding star. And I cannot thank you enough for showing me the way.
love, Mum

Fun with numbers

Talking about some numbers, here are a few to think about

I was born on July 4 and my Dad on July 26
I was married on June 4, and my Dad on June 26
I, born on the 4, have a daughter born on the 26th
My Dad, born on 26th, had a daughter born on 4th.
Stuti Masi and I were both married on a 4th
Sum of Mommy’s (4) and Daddy’s (1+3) bday dates is 4.

Tara, I am very happy to report that I accomplished 30% of my writing quote achieved in 2015, in just the month January.  More recipes, more anecdotes and more writing in general. I feel good.


She was a bright and energetic woman in her late twenties . He was a tall and lean man with a stoop. He was very interested in what she was saying. His body was leaning over to hear her words. Her eyes were fixated at something far ahead. And he was content just watching her gaze from the side. She had the demenaor of someone about to save the world. And his was that of a proud father.

I ran into them for mere two minutes when I was waiting for the traffic signal to turn green. They were far away. Yet, I know their story. I know their relationship. I know that interest that only a father shows in his daughter’s ramblings.

The signal turned green and I had to drive on. And so I did. But they came soon. My fluid friends that love to roll and pour and trickle, just in time before the next traffic signal. And I sighed. At the opportunity lost. At the life we could have had. The joys we could have shared. The sorrows we could have divided. And the words that we could have exchanged. I will never be heard in the same way. I miss that stooping lean man who was interested in everthing I had to say. I miss my father.


Tara Rum Pum….

Oh my what a whirlwind these last two weeks have been.. And of course you know that as well as I do. Since you too, can now perceive and to some extent comprehend all the changes around you.  Technically at 20 weeks you are five months old. And that is quite a milestone. So lets see where things are at with you –

You love smiling at people.. be it your Nani during Facetime or your soon going to be class teacher at the day care.

You have turned from back to tummy. For me that is a HUGE milestone since I was expecting the reverse to come first. But at three months you did turn a few times from tummy to back and so I know you are aware of that possibility. And it is a matter of time that you will be rolling in all directions.

You are very anxious about food. A few more weeks to solids … yay!!

You are so eager to sit and get off your back. I am not surprised and would LOVE to take some credit for that. Get on your feet, get moving, break things, see the world. keep moving.. keep exploring 😀

Now that the report card section of this post is complete… lets us move on to other things.

So I wrapped up my second week at work and it has been FABULOUS! I feel I have arrived. At a company that always had a place for me – it’s just that it took me almost ten years to get there. And oh boy was the ride amazing or what! I would not have it any other way. And here I am enjoying sheer happiness to work somewhere you can truly contribute without being questioned about your “real” intentions.

Now that brings me to a mommy virtue. Enjoy the journey… it is more rewarding than the final destination. But you will only know that once you have arrived. So enjoy each step along the way. That is also how I want to enjoy you.

Parenthood is not to be feared. It is to be enjoyed. And if I fear what will happen when you start crawling or what will happen when you start solids.. then I am missing out on what you are doing today. I am happy to be prepared but not fearful of what is to come. We will dabble along this together and find our way.. As of now we don’t looks so lost 😀

You are going to start day care next week and I am confident you will do just fine. And if you don’t we will always have plan B. So not to worry on that front. 
You also attended your first hawan. I hope I did not exhaust you that day. You seemed fine. But I always worry a little on such days. I need to share with you why we do hawans and how much I love the fragrance of a hawan .. But we will leave that for another day.
It was great to have friends and family bless you on your first hawan 🙂 C&C flew down from San Diego and of course D&D were also here 🙂 
Your mommy missed her mommy and daddy a lot on that day. Like she always does on such events. The fact that just like me you will never meet your Nanu is disheartening. But hopefully every one else will fill in for him. I cannot tell you what you are missing on since he is not around. Coz I did not have a Nanu to enjoy either. 
On to happier things .. I am loving how much time daddy spends with you. You wil share a lovely bond with him . Just like I did with my dad.  
In two weeks Daddy and Mommy will both be back at work and our lil Tara will be on her own. That’s a tough thing to say. But then begins your journey. Of finding yourself. Standing up for what you want and how you want it. And most important developing relations outside your immediate family.
Tara, there is a lot of love to be enjoyed in this world. You just need to know which door to knock on. And remember to forgive. No one is under any obligations to make it all perfect for you. So thank those who try and forgive those who fail. 
Loads of love and hugs

Shifting bases..

I wrap up yet another fulfilling tenure with a very very exciting company this week. For the past many weeks I am trying to swim upstream from a sea of reflective moments, learnings, nostalgic happenstances and warmth of the people who summed up my close to three years at this company.

 After almost seven years in technology consulting, when I moved to Salesforce to pursue what I thought was going to be a normal desk job, I had several fears. I was afraid of the monotony associated with such jobs. I wondered if I was cut out for sitting in one place for years at a stretch. I wondered if having one boss for longer than six months was something I will get used to. Or if working with the same set of people over and over again will bore me out. And I wondered if the job will be challenging enough to tingle my curiosities.

My role at Salesforce addressed all my fears without doubt. The thrill I experienced in my role surpassed that I derived from my consulting gigs. The joy of working with some very competent and the complexities of dealing with some not so competent people (very few) pushed me out of my comfort zone every single day. May be people find such comfort in their first job. But I only found it in my third. I felt in my skin. I was not being someone my manager wanted me to be. I was myself. Giving myself, my energy and applying my skills every single day and sharpening them with each strike. I did not have to dress right to make an impact or hide the truth from any one and put a mask on each day I went to work. I was not someone who was tagged in some resource management tool with a list of skills that she might/might not/could have. I was not to be presented to some client as an expert. I was given the time to become an expert and my expertise did not have to be a technology.

Salesforce gave me wings to fly and I used the opportunity to my best. I carved out my role over time to suit what I wanted to become. And my leadership supported me in every step. My thoughts were heard, my questions answered and my hopes ignited. I was loved and rewarded every single day. I was inspired and looked after even though I was a newbie to a team of veterans. I was encouraged and trusted with tasks of different complexities. I never felt like I was being tried. I was being nurtured.

Salesforce is a fabulous company. I regret not having the opportunity to spend more time building my career amongst such inspiring and respectable leaders. But I have a higher calling to respond to at this point in my life. My lovely daughter, one who needs me more than I need my career aspirations. I want to steal as much time as I can from my life to share with her. And the 52 miles of commute to the beautiful, vibrant and charming city of San Francisco will keep me away from her for far too long. And so as luck might have it, I found something close by. Something I am equally excited about.

To help Google build up its customer service support tools and enable the part of the company that is the face to the end user, is a great opportunity that I hope to enjoy in the coming years. Salesforce was a big company but I never felt lost in the crowd. I fear that might happen to me at Google. It is a much larger company. But at this point I am ok with getting lost in the crowd and being less significant, as long as I can be a good mom to my daughter. The gravity of her love is resulting in some realignments and I am happy with where things are finally taking base.

In the end we are all just nomads shifting bases from time to time to incorporate the new and ever changing world.

Your first Ashtami

Dear Tara,

You are four months old already. And yet you are just a tiny little munchkin. You are becoming more and more active and alert by the day. And I am loving this new phase where I understand you much better and can serve your needs and desires better.

We celebrated your first Ashtami yesterday. And the day was made even special with your Dadu and Dadi’s arrival.

 Now you will ask me what is Ashtami. So let us go ahead and simplify that for you. Twice a year, Hindus who are devotees of a certain goddess fast for a week or so and the fast ends in Ashtami (meaning 8th). Somehow Ashtami became this special day to treat all girls who have yet to reach their puberty, with royal goodies (aka food and gifts) 🙂

 I did not fast, or do any special prayers. But I love the significance of this special day. And it is a day that I always looked forward to as a child. And I hope I can make it special for you too 🙂 Let’s not talk about the religious aspect of it. Think of it as your own quinceanera that happens twice a year.

 Dadu Dadi brought soooooooooooo many goodies for you from India and your Mom did a little bit to make some yummy goodies (I hope you enjoyed them).

I won’t promise you the yummy food and goodies for all your life. But I will promise you my intent to make this day (or the weekend following it) special for you.

 It was fun making the poori, halwa and chole while I reminisced the many Ashtami mornings when my Dad would wash our feet and feed us halwa poori and bless us 🙂

God bless you my lil kanjak (lil girl)


Nani is leaving for India

Dear Tara,

Mom is really sad because Nani is leaving.
 😦 All I want to say is that I hope you are as sad when I leave you some day. What a meaningless wish. But you get the point. 

May I be half as good a Mom to you as my Mom is to me. 
We love Nani and we will miss her, her love for you, her cooking, her stubbornness wrt not eating non veg, her anal cleaning habits, her initiative, her self reliance and her selflessness. I have been a decent Mum these three and a half months since she did everything else. I just hope I can keep the trend. Or else she will be so mad at me. 
Lov Mum

sleep it out…!

Oh Dear Tara,

 I wish you did not fight sleep so much. And the sad part is that you won’t know the value of sleep up until you are in high school or may be even college. Sleep is the single most precious thing that most adults cannot have enough of. You are so lucky you can sleep any time all day and that the day wraps up for you by 7:30-8. I wish I could sleep that much. Oh Tara! How do I make you understand that.

Today Mommy again gave up. After nursing you for so long, Mom gets tired by the end of the day. And when you refuse to sleep, Mom has no choice but to leave you in your crib, while she takes a time out. Well today the time out was long enough for me to have dinner too. But you were doing so well in the crib all the time that I was eating. I felt so happy seeing you soothe yourself away to sleep. But just when I got up to put the dishes in the sink, you woke up from your cat nap and starting crying 😦

Now there is this really ugly but effective method called CIO (Cry It Out) and I want to try and avoid that as much as I can. But if your night time tantrums don’t stop and you give Mom more and more trouble at bed time. Then we will have to go that route. Dad has already signaled his approval for the method. Mum is weak. And so when you started crying today I could not resist but pick you up and sway you to sleep.

Sleep is when you grow up sweetie. So if you fight sleep how will you grow up? And if you don’t grow up fast then how will we have alllll the fun that Mum has been planning for you? Now I wish there was some way I could wrap all this gyan in a pill and give it to you. But I know that’s not possible. So I am giving you another week to get your sleep habits sorted out. I will help you along the way. But we need to work on this missy. And when Mom decides to work on something, you should know that she means serious business and she won’t stop until its done.

You looked so cute wrapped up in your pink sleep sack like a lama. And when you made that troubled face my heart just melted. I seriously know how that feels now.. pure wax like gui gui substance, just like lava, oozing out of my heart..creepy! well may be not creepy – but definitely new. And then when you smiled at me when I tried to get closer to the door to see if you had slept on or not – I was so humorously mad at you. Cutie pie..you are one naughty brat and I will not let you get spoilt. Not at all.

Some times I feel like this whole motherhood thing is so cool. I feel like I am meant for this. And then there are days when I feel like a child myself, suddenly responsible for this even smaller child. And I wonder if I am just wingin’g it or is there any method to this cute madness.

more kissies for you


Let’s start eating

 Dear Tara,

I think I have admitted to you about my future planning habits. Well let’s just say I get easily stimulated by what lies ahead and I like to gain as much knowledge as I can about it so that when the time is ripe, so is your mom 🙂
Now the next thing on your mom’s agenda.. apart from a brand new job … is your solids phase. I know we are a month away (or may be even more) but I am all thrilled about it. I am looking forward to mashing avocados and steaming peas for you. We will also eat sweet potatoes and lentil soups and mashed bazookas. Yeah that’s how excited I am. I even invented a new dish for you. But I can only try all these dishes once you are a wee bit older. So grow up missy. Fun is about to start.
Imagine how much fun it will be to play with all sorts of food. Peaches, apples, bananas, mangoes and water melon and what not. Il even grind some rice and dal and try that. Wow yum yum yum 🙂
Just so you know I have already bought some food gear. You know stuff I will need to make your food and store it and serve it in. I know you will make a mess when you start eating and so this weekend I am going to make your dad mad by suggesting yet another modification to the living room set up.. Glee glee glee!
Ok darling … Truth is Mum is a lil stuck in the past. She did not want to leave the job she has finally decided to leave. And she is so bummed about it. 
She is excited about the future. And she is happy to have landed a job really close to home and with an employer that really fits her work style. But that’s a few weeks away. So in the meanwhile to distract myself from what I have let go of, I am spending my time reading about your solids phase. Don’t be surprised if I start reading recipes of baby food to you some time soon.
Ok honey bunny small and sunny time to go to bed :)). 
P.S. I love blogging while you are feeding. It makes me feel so close to you. I hope that my feelings are reaching you live and fresh  🙂
Good night

Recovering your self

Almost three weeks after Tara was born, I finally summed up enough courage to share with Agam that I think I am having hot flushes at night. I was ignoring the topic hoping that it will soon resolve itself. Just like the severe pain in my ankles finally disappeared after the first week. And these two were not the only two changes that I experienced as a first time mom after delivery. For example, did you know mammary glands are all over your body, so when the milk comes don’t be surprised if you feel some interesting bulges. There were many more. Some more painful and prominent than others. But I self diagnosed and self cured them or simply ignored them. All this happened while I was taking care of this new born child who was completely dependent on me at the time.

To my comment regarding hot flushes, Agam responded, “Yes Dr Shin said that they are common.” Did she? I didn’t remember. I wonder what else she might have said that I did not hear because Tara was crying or because I was busy figuring out how to sit up in bed without hurting myself. I remember thinking at the time, if only I could keep standing I’ll be in much less pain. And so I did, from time to time. But you cannot feed a baby while you are standing. Definitely not eight hours after labor. Regardless, the truth is that it was only after three weeks of suffering and fear that I finally voiced my inconvenience. And this is me, who can speak her mind out without any fear at all times.

This left me wondering about all those who don’t voice their inconveniences. And how unjust the world is to the mother, immediately after the child is born. I admit that the misery is self imposed to a certain extent. But I am sure there is something that can be done about this. And if I keep silent about it, I will also join the unjust world.

Before Tara was born I gathered knowledge on a variety of topics. But I did not ever look into postpartum recovery. May be the child birth classes were an opportunity, but we decided not to take those classes and go with the flow. And hence I was quite clueless of what my body was experiencing and all that it was going to experience postpartum.

Our society is also unjust, we do baby showers and gift registries. But we don’t list the items that the mother will need for her recovery and feeding in those registries. All the games people play are all about the baby. How about some advisory sessions with the experienced moms in the circle instead?

All the friends and family have tons of advice for the child, but none for the mother. We all simply forget that for a first time mom it can all be a very intimidating and more than that a very lonely experience. After the child is born, almost all conversations that a mother participates in revolve around the child. How is the child doing? Is she sleeping well? Is she fed on time? Is she cheerful or despondent? But we never ask how the Mom is feeling? How is she coping with this new change in her life? How is her body healing? Does she have some fears or pains she is not sharing? Is she feeling depressed about how suddenly her world has changed? I had a few, namely three conversations where people actually asked me how I was doing. 3 amongst 100 or so. (May be I am just not a lovable person :P) And I will never forget the people who asked me how I was doing. In those days of vulnerability, I felt like I found some anchors. It felt beautiful to hear the words.. “are you feeling yourself?” from a colleague. Yes, I was feeling myself and I am so glad you cared. Because truth is that I was here even before the child was. And my relation with you is older than the one you will share with my child.

One of my super mommy friend warned me about how it can be quite challenging and I loved the fact that she confided in me with the details of postpartum hormonal imbalances. She was one of the very few who did so. Almost everyone else glorified parenthood and made it sound way more simpler than it really is. And the fact is that anyone who has gone down the path of becoming a parent knows that it will be challenging. But it is important that new parents share their true experiences with their friends and family. Not the glorified versions of “oh it was a breeze”. And Been There Done That Moms – come on, grow up and face it – you have to help your fellow first time moms. They need your empathy. And they need someone to tell them – “if you feel like just talking to someone, I am here for you.”

I resolved in the first week after I delivered Tara to never ever feel shy of sharing any details about my pregnancy and delivery experience with anyone. Especially the first time moms. They need to know that it will be difficult and lonely. And that they will have to step up and take care of themselves, because no one else will. You have to take care of yourself since your newborn’s well being depends on your well being. And that is not the only reason you have to take care of yourself. You have to get back to the world and face it in a few months. And the preparation for that starts from Day1. Don’t postpone it.

In the first week I started reading voraciously while Tara would feed. Since I did not have to hold a bottle for her, she was on her own and my two hands were free. So I read a lot and also very actively socialized with friends on Facebook. It was a good way to kill time while Tara latched and unlatched and slept in between feeds. For someone like me it was perfect way to feel my normal self – do what you love and talk to people 🙂 May be that does not work for you. But find something that you can enjoy while your baby feeds or sleeps. And prep for long durations of time when you cannot get up from one place. 

Of course the unjust world was even more unjust to me. I was told that I am the first mom to have posted on Facebook a few hours after delivery and that I am catching up on all reading I could not while I was working and that I make it seem like I have plenty of time on hand (indirectly saying what kind of a mom are you) to read articles on FB and LinkedIn and G+. Well all I can say to those people is this – ” try sitting for an hour in one place with someone gnawing at you constantly, and you will also become a social reader ;)”
So dear first time moms – here is what I want you to do –
  1. Read about postpartum recovery
  2. Have your mom or someone who cares for you limitlessly by your side when you deliver
  3. Share with your spouse or friends or family how you are feeling or if you have some concerns with your recovery.
  4. Get used to the fact that no one else cares about your health and well being as much as you do. And don’t forget that one for life.
  5. Find a hobby that you can pursue while your lil one takes her time to grow up through the first month.
  6. Don’t be afraid to take breaks when you need them. I was lucky to have a husband who asked me to take a break from time to time while he took care of the baby. 
  7. Enjoy your baby. They won’t be tiny for long. And for your to enjoy them you have to feel good about yourself. So once again focus on your recovery. You don’t want to remember those first week weeks as the uncomfortable ones.
  8. Pamper yourself. For me pampering was to drive to the nearby bakery and get my favorite desserts for the family. For you it could be something else. But plan for it before you have the baby.
  9. And don’t care about the world expects a FTM to do. You are not here to please them. Just because you had a baby three days ago does not mean that you don’t like to catch up on the latest David Brooks article. Sometimes it is the habits that we loved pre delivery that drive us towards sanity. 
  10. And lastly don’t expect anyone to follow up with you about your health. You are nothing but an instrument that delivered happiness. It’s ok. You are blessed to be that instrument. And your second blessing is now in front of you (or will soon be in front of you) thriving :))
Happy Motherhood. Yes it is beautiful. No it is not easy.

Happy 3 months..

Dear Tara,

I can very confidently say that the the last three months have been the happiest months of my life thus far. And it is all because of the joy that you have brought in my life. It is so much fun being amazed by you every single day. Every day you share a new glimpse of your personality and soul with me and I take your cues to make your activities revolve around things you enjoy (or rather coo at..)

From what I can tell parenting is a continually evolving process. The advice or learning from month one don’t necessarily work for month three. And with each day you are becoming more and more human. You express yourself clearly. I can tell that you like Vivaldi’s Four Seasons more than songs from PK. May be PK songs are too noisy for you. I can tell that you are a shy kid. You adopt a very different persona in front of others (which is very unlike me.. and very much like your dad so lucky you I know how to handle that). I can also tell that you are more interested in action than simple observation. You don’t hold things and look at them for minutes.. you do things with them. I can also tell that you will be a foodie. God I hope I am not wrong about this one. You always watch so carefully when I am eating. I cannot wait for the solids phase to start. You love pictures.. I think all the kids do..but you already have your favorites.

You like being around people. You will be a talker (who doubted that?!).  You are also a very patient child. You enjoy your baths and massage. I cannot believe that you are perfectly fine with water on your face. You just brush it off like we adults do. You are becoming a better sleeper than you were. I am very happy about that. Also you don’t like it when Dad or Mom read from the book. You want us to look at you and tell the story. Fast action excites you. You are not at all intimidated by fast moving objects.

Oh well there is so much I can write.. Finally here is what all we have done together 😀 All of these seemed impossible the day that we brought you home. So kudos to Dad, Nani and moi – we have all come a long way together.

Shoreline Lake Walks and lunch at the Cafe
Walk to downtown and coffee at Neto
Long walks in the neighborhood
Lunch at Badal
Breakfast at Hobees
Had your milk outside at the pie place
Hakone Gardens walk
Met a lot of people

From Dad and my perspective we have covered all our “must loves” with you. But of course there is more to be done.. like a day trip to SF ..

Here’s to more that we will achieve together in the coming months and years. Happy 3 month bday munchkin 😀

love and blessings

let their eyes speak

Dear Tara,

Some times in life you really are not sure about why you are doing something. There are several reasons, but none convincing enough. You put a stake in the ground and make a call. Everyone around you claps. Well done they say. You are still not convinced. But the call is made. The decision has been taken. And yet in your mind you hear known voices..”but only if..”, “what if..”, “may be we could have…”. At that time, you will doubt yourself. Did I do the right thing?

In such times, look into the eyes of the people you love. And if their eyes gleam with joy for your new prospects, just trust them, and go with the flow. You don’t see what they are seeing. But the truth is that you are not trying to see what they are seeing. Your thoughts are still clouded. You are wrapped in memories, hopes, promises that they don’t know of. These thoughts don’t let you look ahead.

The problem is that you feel you are at the growing incline of that bell curve. You are just there.. right there.. you can touch your goal by stretching just a bit. You are in fact almost there!  You feel warm there. You want to just stay there. You have grown old there. And you want to just finish what you had started. But the decision you just took will require you to start all over again. You will have to start from scratch and work your way up. You are not afraid of the work. You, for once, want to make it to the peak of that curve. And you had hoped that this was your chance!

But instead of looking at this as yet another incline to climb, think of your life as an arc.. and each of your steps are incrementally taking you closer to the other end of the arc. Don’t think about the mini curve you are about to hop off and the new curve you are about to start walking on. Think of how this hop on and hop off will add value to the bigger arc of your life. And most likely it will take you a few centuries to get it all right. And thus in the mean time.. look into the eyes of those you love. And the gleam will guide you to newer horizons.

Enough rumbling from your Mum..


Big night!

Oh Dear Tara,

Tonight is a big night for all three of us. I just put you to sleep in your own room, in your own crib. Wow.. Do you know your Mom never had a room to her self up until 2006? My first solo sleep time was when I was in Chicago for my internship. I shared an apartment with Kelly. Even when I was in Boulder doing my MS, I could not afford a room to myself and shared it with a very nice friend. 

(Btw Kelly taught me how to make grilled cheese sandwiches and mashed potatoes. I will make those for you some day.)

Back to your solo sleep time. Well you are technically 10 weeks and 3 days old today. So Daddy and I thought we would like to give you your own room and hope that you will love it and sleep peacefully in it for many years to come. We will watch you over dropcam and check on you from time to time. It’s tough on me, but I am brave and you will be too.

Tara, ever since you were in the womb, when there were times that I felt like I haven’t heard from you in a long time, you have always made some movement or noise be it a kick or a grunting or a heavy sigh. I hope you will do it tonight too. It will make your Mom more comfortable.
Tonight you will be furthest from me ever since you were conceived. And I know someday you will go even further, but right now just these ten steps seem really far to Mum. You are doing pretty well so far. I am typing as I see you over the cam. Noting every movement of yours. I pray that you sleep well and have beautiful dreams tonight.

 I will dream too, but with my eyes wide open 🙂