Measure of success

Measure of success

A day that ends with mommy in the hammock is a successful day. Despite all the noise, the drama, the politics, the disappointments and the achievements, if I can take out time to come here and put my feet up and call it a day! I’m successful.

I am a bit distracted. The news is full of commentary on Simon Biles and the stress she is dealing with. And there is part of me that is thankful that there are women leaders who will bow and take leave owing to their mental health. I did that last year. It was hurting me to be where I was. And it felt lonely and dark in my mind. I could not find refuge in people around me. I could not trust. And I left. And although I am labeled for life for taking that decision. I knew that I am answerable to no one, but myself. And my answer was I call it quits.

In many ways Simon is making the same decision. But the difference is – when you sign up to play game for the country, you are signing up for that pressure. And that’s why the critics are disappointed. But she is right. If it hurts to take the next jump, it does. And she is answerable to no one but herself. She called it quits. And we should all be proud of her.

But in reality that’s not what happens. She will live with that label for life, and she will have to be even stronger to deal with what comes next.

I’m also distracted by this other theory I am noodling on. I am the kind of employee that is in no ones inner circle. I am valued and rewarded, but I am not anyone’s go to. I am that person who likes to bring people’s circles together. They don’t merge, but I feel happy when I can just draw them closer.

My question is – is this way of being hurting me? I don’t have anyone who will go to bat for me. Because I don’t go to bat for people. I go to bat for ideas. And I feel lonely in that space. Everyone’s always siding with someone. Am I an outsider then? And it’s ok if that is the case. I want to know if that will hurt me in my career.

Strange enough, I don’t even have someone I can ask this question to. Or at least that’s how I feel right now.

So I find my measure of progression. And that is to take the time to rock in my hammock and write this post. Amen!

Birds, roses and patios

I like listening to birds. And there are plenty of nests in our maple, and our redwoods in the backyard. I wake up to their sound, and when I get a few minutes to spare, I come out and listen to them.

I was always fascinated by them, but it never occurred to me how they help me disconnect effectively. I tune into them and tune out of everything else.

The best time to hear them is the morning. So ever since our patio project wrapped up, I drink my first cup of coffee on the deck, with my birds. And my duckling, aka Tara joins me and adds to the chirps.

We started four patio project on April 1, and it is mostly done, with the front still needing more love. We have started spending more time after work, outdoors, and that was really the purpose. I enjoy executing on such projects. Especially if they come with an opportunity of reaping the benefits of your labor!

I saw this grow from a bud to a rose 🌹

So now we get to spend more time with the birds, grow roses, and dahlias, and enjoy our little nature fest in the yard.

IRL

Today I realized how hard it was for me to be working from home. It’s blasphemy in this world where everyone is seeking their own version of freedom, to say what I am about to say. I felt the most normal I have felt in a while – I was “with the people” I work with. Because that’s what it is supposed to be.

We walked around in campus, we had hallway conversations, we ate lunch together, we screamed with joy as we met our friends after a long time. We made snarky comments on each other. We celebrated together. We heard each other’s stories. We shared our pandemic highs and lows and we resolved to keep our families on the forefront of our agendas, just like the reset has taught us.

I am so thankful to my team that came together for the first time to spend a day of sharing and bonding in the office. Today we went to the office for an offsite. I hope we go to the office more often. I love seeing the faces for reals. Their smiles and warmth of their eyes makes me feel warm.

Once upon a time…

I lived a lifetime in a day.

I woke with an urge to call Sunita Aunty and offer her my condolence. I didn’t know what to say. But I needed to call her. So I did. I could not hold my tears. But she was brave and so strong. I offered her my time and my support to her kids who will spend their life wondering what they could have done to have their father around longer. And that they will find it hard to find an answer. And finally they will also give up, like me. And Tulika, like me, will do her best to tell her kids about their Nanu.

I said a few more things. I don’t recall now. But I remember her saying, “thank you beta. You take care.”

After I spoke to her a very deep guilt overcame me. I had not called my cousin ever since he came back from the hospital. I had not even offered my condolences to him for his father’s death. I just didn’t know what to say. I was afraid.

But I had done it once this morning. And so I was up for the challenge. So I called. My sister in law who in my opinion is the bravest soul I know, helped me with my words. She understood why I had not called. She didn’t doubt my intentions. And I told her what I had not even told myself. Truth is that in life so far, I have only learnt to inspire people to move forward. I am so action driven that words fail me in moments when I am expected to simply share a state. Just yet. So forgive me when I was silent. No words came to me. And she said, in a loving and caring voice, “I understand, beta. You are still young. It’s ok.”

Gathering enough courage from this exchange, I spoke to my cousin as well. He sounded well. It made my heart full of love and warmth. He also ended the call with, “God bless you, beta.”

Beta means “son” in Hindi. But colloquially it is more like, “a child”.

I’m the youngest amongst my cousins from all sides of the family. My cousins are 10-15 years older than me. After a very long time I felt like that youngest cousin yet again. The one who was protected by the love and care of all around me.

Life as an immigrant can be challenging. We carry so much weight on our shoulders from a young age. So when someone reminds you of how much younger you really are, it feels like a load lifted off your chest. Like a steam let off. It also feels very warm from the inside.

Day started with some tears, but rolled on to some chatter with Dadu and Dadi. They are also still shaken. I know. I don’t know what to say to them. Perhaps over time I will. I worry about how many friends they have lost… and I worry what fears they are fighting in their mind, that they don’t share with us. Since we are so far away.

And then…. The dishwasher broke down. And I washed the entire load from the night before, and more from the sink, and practically everything that I used in prep for the tea get together in the evening. It was a lot of utensils. Phew! But I closed all my activity rings and Apple Watch thinks I had a great workout. Agam magically found a mechanic and peace was restored.

In the evening a few of my work friends came over for tea. We had a real get together after a long time. And it was so nice to see everyone. Some we had been meeting off and on, and some we were meeting after a long time. A lot happened in this “long time”. For one I am not even on the same team as the rest of them, anymore. But I don’t feel that way. It felt like I went through some revolving doors and I am in this middle space. I am bad at transitions. And I am also bad about seeing lines and drawing boundaries.

And here I was, after a tumultuous day, back to what I do best, being with people. Deriving my energy from them, and giving what I know to give – a lot of warmth.

It is a strange coincidence that I was the youngest one in this group too.

I got a lot of warmth from my interactions in the morning, and extended it out to my friend in the evening. It is this exchange of warmth that makes up our lifetime.

I felt like I lived a lifetime, in one day.

Sweet afternoon

Make the paneer, hang the paneer, cool the paneer, knead the paneer, roll the dough, and boil in a mildly sweetened syrup. Rasgullas. For the joy of cooking is sweeter than the juice in these Rasgullas.

This entire process takes 4 hours end to end. It’s a great arms workout and a test of patience and skill.

The three phases

A life born.. Tara brought home some cocoons last week, from her camp. Yesterday, one of then hatched to become a butterfly. We saw it and helped it takes it first flight and it was gone out in the world in no time.

A life in progress .. Agam turns 38 today. May he always get the best in life. And may his heart of gold stay as is.

A life lost.. Puneet uncle, our neighbor in Gurgaon. A lovely, healthy, and delightful man, passed away to a silent heart attack this morning. My in-laws lost a good friend. A very special friend. And for Sunita Aunty, life is going to be quite different moving on. I still cannot believe. It is taking me long to process this news.

Life has been too real this morning.

Joy

I’m loving the series Ray on Netflix. It’s a short series of four stories from Satyajit Ray made into hour long movies. Now the depiction of the stories and the actors is not that great. But the power of the stories is awesome. And the layered plots are so engaging.

So much talent in one person. He was like the Da Vinci of some sort. Hats off to The Ray.

What a busy day! Starting with more patio work, and then more cleaning work, and then a short break followed by a trip to Legoland. Followed by a short break, cold coffee, and then preps for tomorrow’s dinner with a Krishna Dadi. Menu is exotic – Moroccan carrots, purple cabbage slaw with mango, salmon Jhol, spinach shak, Jeera rice, coconut lentils, freshly squeezed lemonade, and home made roasted coconut ice cream. Yummmmm

So glad we are back to hosting friends again.

With the patio project coming to a close in a few weeks, I’m now planning a garage makeover. We have to make room for the foosball after all 😉

For a change we are having a very late dinner, outdoors, and the breeze is so so refreshing after a gruesome hot day.

Cheers to more outdoor dinners, more breezy evenings, more meals with friends, and more joy!

Vive Sol

Vive Sol

Phew! The evenings that start with farmers market, end with a trip to Vive Sol, which basically ends the evening in a level of oblivion that is very very unhealthy for the body, but very very healthy for the soul.

Don’t believe me. I am not in all my senses 😉

Our farmers market loot was quite something – Corn, Blueberries, Honey Kist Nectarines, cherries, early girl tomatoes, toy box squash, green beans, green pepper, onions, coriander, gf and regular pita bread with fresh hummus from Oren’s, Napa cabbage, melons, and spinach. Brings me so much joy! I swear Tory Burch doesn’t have that power that a simple Mountain View Farmer’s Marker does.

Me and my whims and fancies! It’s July after all 🙂

Hammock 💕

While summer has just started and the whimsies are just getting warmed up … the mommy goes back to work tomorrow.

Here’s a comfy spot for the mommy to dream and plan more vacations 🙂

A rainbow hammock for the girls of the house 🏡

A bit more…

What are the odds of listening to Vonda Shepherd after like a decade, in the Coupa Cafe patio at the Stanford Golf Course. I used to listen to hear in my hostel. A tape that was recorded by Agam, as a gift. Sigh! We did that stuff back then 😛 Now we just text the song to each other. Hasn’t life been simpler lately?

Talking about odds – we had quite a home run with the birthday weekend. I spent the weekend in the warmth of friends, from all phases of life. The parties started Saturday night with surprise visitors from Seattle, a simple home cooked meal enjoyed in our new and comfy patio, followed with breakfast next day at Village Bakery, and then chai and Gurudwara with friends. Followed by a movie in the theater with another set of friends. Haven’t spent a warm and loving birthday like this in a while. We are usually out of town and miss out on the local fun.

I came out to the cafe today since Tara is at camp and Agam is at work. And I wanted to catch up on work emails and some moments of solitude. A green expanse, some random thoughts. It’s when you let your mind loose, that your mind finds its best inspirations.

So what are we planing to be this year?

A bit more patient. A bit more wise. A bit more anchored, A bit more adventurous. A bit more selfish. A bit more healthy. A bit more open to surprises. Now don’t ask me to stack rank this. This is life, not work. I have 2 more years to play until I put my foot down. 😛

And no I don’t have any goals against each of these either. Hence “a bit more” is enough of a measure.

And for the rest of this calendar year, we are planning to be a bit more – resolute.

Sonoma Coast Day #6

On the last day of our trip we left Gualala by 11am, after several rounds of Kona Coffee and delicious Lisa’s Jam on toast. It was a breezy windy drive through fog, and we made it to Monte Rio beach by 1pm. Rio Cafe serves delectable ice creams more like frozen custards and some basic meals. A hearty lunch and we were off the Russian River.

The river was quite shallow and the drought was clearly visible. The algae made it appear greener than I recall. We spend some time by the river before hitting the road again towards San Rafael.

Nothing special about San Rafael, except for the fact that it is the decision point before taking 101 or 580… we took 101. We wanted to go for coffee to Fox and Kit, but as expected we were distracted by the Copperfield’s Books. A warehouse of books awaited us. I am lagging behind and hence decided against buying Whereabouts, Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest. It’s about urban solitude. Hmm… as I read the short snippet on the covers, I wondered how similar the story seemed to the life I live. Sigh!

We had a quick stop at Lotus to buy Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade, and some sundry items. We were the tourists in San Rafael, figuring out the area and the downtown. It was fun.

We drove the final stretch and were home by 6:30. And after a night dinner and Sapporo we retired for the night. I slept the best sleep since last six nights. And woke up to the comfort of our home that we missed so much.

Tomorrow I turn 38! 2 years to 40! How do I feel? Strangely I wonder if I am mature enough to be 38. And at the same time I wonder if there other 38 year olds who have lived a life as colorful and varied as mine. At 38, I feel cautious of the years ahead, and fondly cherish the years behind me.

38?! Who me?!? Yes you, can’t be true 🙂

Sonoma Coast Day #5

Our day started with this

I was craving a good ghar wala omlette 🙂 and we opened up the cherry preserves from Lisa’a kitchen

And then we ended up here

The Chapel at Sea Ranch. Not affiliated with any diocese. Just a little place of art for meditation. Pretty unique architecture.
The Bluff trail runs from the Trinks Cafe on the North to the Vue Coast Kitchen on the south. A mile of lovely views and a serene love making of the wild ocean and a small river

And then we drove to the Walk On beach in Sea Ranch. A short mile of walking along the bluffs with some leading to stairs that go down to the beach. We were literally the only family hiking this stretch! A private beach experience – voila!
At the Walk On beach, we made our little something for Tara… it’s a beach ritual for the Daddy

And all of that ocean time adds to the flow and the glow! The day ended with a pint each of scrimshaw and Bonita Pizza at the Upper Crust Pizzeria in Gualala!

Growing older by the year, in my stride I feel no fear