An ode to a cup of chai

Is it blasphemous to want the next three weeks to just fly by, and land me directly in the lap of my family’s warm cocoon? Regardless of the judgement, it’s my wish for the next three weeks. I want to skip the chapters that lie ahead.

To accelerate this process emotionally, I have started making a cup of masala chai every morning in my all-glass kettle that hides nothing. The excitement of the water as it boils, the loose tea leaves swirl in it for some time like a dervish in a mosque. Slow and unrelenting at first, and then consummating the union with so much passion, energy and color. Then comes the milk – it’s color and calming effect. Its pious and subtle presence.

Now, the revolution unfolds. You can’t tell one ingredient from the other. They swirl and boil together in the agony of heat. Giving my chai the color and taste I want.

Amidst all this is a fist full of grounded black pepper corns, organic ginger and a pinch of cardamom seeds. They don’t know where they belong, and who they are akin to, but they are bonded in a purpose so strong that they make it through the revolution. The tickle on my tongue, the aroma of the masala chai, and the comfort of ginger juices warming up my throat. None of this is possible without these three musketeers.

I let the revolution rest on the stove top for the tea to reflect on its journey, and for the ingredients to adapt to their new form. It helps the flavors settle.

And then I pour my morning cup of masala chai

Here I am, 13 minutes away from my first meeting of the day, looking at the winter sun from my windows sil, and sipping this perfect cup of chai.

This chai is magical. It accelerates my day and takes me closer to the day I will go home. it helps me skip the chapters that lie ahead.

Mom, I am coming home. 🎈🎈

And that’s a wrap

A very happy thanksgiving break comes to an end. One where I got to do a lot of my favorites – #murakami book, Hawaii travels, Thanksgiving meal, family, friends, Tara’a birthday parties, sun, beach, sand, divinity and all things love 💕

So grateful for our lives, our health, our family and our friends. Thank You for a good life.

The pictures summarize my last 10 days 🙂

Chronicles from Kauai

Tomorrow we go back home. An extraordinarily challenging, and yet satisfying trip. An urgent care visit, a car malfunction en route to Waimea, in the middle of nowhere, and yet a pure cleanse of routine, an thoughts. And lastly, a gastronomical bonanza. Kauai you are magical. Puff !!

Paul

We met Paul on the island. The one who knew precisely how to string the chords of his electric guitar, so as to tug the chords of our hearts, in unison. He magically appeared on the night we arrived in Kauai, at the Princeville Center Food Court. After the song finished, I had the urge to go see how who was playing it. But we were in the middle of our meal and I let the moment pass. By the time we left Tiki Iniki, it was late and the musician had long left.

Today at the Kilauea Market, we were in the middle of a tense moment. Tara has picked a bug and we spent the morning at the urgent care. The morning, though beautiful, was a bit tight strung on emotions.

As we walked out, there was a local fair across the street. We headed there to check out the stalls, and it was then that Agam and I both recognized the music, at the same time. And that’s how we connected with Paul. We made our way to the fair, waited for him to finish his music, and then shared with him about the coincidence. He appreciated it. He shared his station on mu-sic.bandcamp.com. And we went our ways.

We were meant to cross paths with Paul. We were meant to be in Kilauea at the same time as him. Now we can disregard it as coincidence. Or we can try to answer why is it that Paul, his music, and his tune brought us so much joy and comfort. Or we can simply be thankful to share the space under the Milk Way with people like Paul, who bring us joy!

Talking about MilkWay. Yes, we saw it. Right above us, bejeweled sky, spawning across the Hanalei Valley. Blessing us from above.

Kauai and I share something special. I call it home.

November

It’s surprising how fast good times roll and how slow the painful days stroll. Take for example the horrendous month of October. It’s already mid November, and time for our annual pilgrimage to the islands. I feel like we go to Hawaii every November to thank them for our lil lady Tara 🙂

She is turning 8! Such a big number. Gosh!

A three day week ahead and then a 10 day break. It’s been extremely exhausting last few weeks. Unrelenting schedules, and pressure of deadlines and what not. Phew! Can’t believe we haven’t traveled since August! Much needed break in my favorite island – Kauai. Back after three years. 🎈

The year has decided to sprint for the next 6 weeks. And I will be sprinting with it. Just taking a short break in November, before going home in December for a nice winter holiday break.

A lot on the mind. Many storms are brewing. Shockingly, my mind has seasons. Or rather it follows the seasons. Winter is for reflection, reset, renewals or revivals. Let the wind blow, let’s see which direction it takes me.

Furrrrrrrrrrr

Prayers

For someone who is yet to figure out her relationship with God, everyday since last so many months, I have stood before my temple at home, lit a candle and prayed for this war to be over. Often amused at how childish of me to ask for God to solve a problem we humans create. But when I felt helpless about it, I realized there is nothing I can do to help, but to pray, so I did.

It’s turning around. The world needs a break from this madness. It’s impact that have crippled Europe, and accelerated the inflation and recession fell all sides.

May this be the blessing I was praying for.

May this be the end of war

रसगुल्ले

मन तो था एक कप चाये पीने का। दूध फटा, चाये फेंकी और जादू से बन गए रसगुल्ले । ३ घंटों की मेहनत। ढेर सारा प्यार। और बीच बीच में तारा की पुकार।

अब लग रहा है की दिवाली आ रही है

Diwali Prayer 2022 🪔

May we illuminate the darkest corners of the world with peace, patience, and courage. 

May we count our blessings, speak the truth, and truly help each other. 

May we seek clarity, purpose, and justice through our words and actions.

May we bring our inner light to the forefront,  and seek warmth in its presence. 

Happy Diwali 🪔

Winter sun

Something so comforting about the winter sun, embracing your body. The warmth it creates is so subtle. It’s like how a hot cup of ginger tea touches a soar throat.

I have some jasmine blooming in my patio. Some bougainvillea too. Along with the seasonal roses that grace the occasion from time to time. The dahlias are about to retire for the season. But the hibiscus and lavender don’t show any signs of retreat.

Each of these flower are like my kids. I watch them grow, bloom, shed, and come back to life, season after season. They give me so much hope.

This wasn’t my life ten years ago. I was still on the road. Barely taking care of a single house plant, and figuring out what I called home.

Have come a long way. A charming dinner with family last night. All of us at an interesting point in our lives, no matter how old or young. Sipping away my drink I took comfort in knowing that while I don’t know who I will be ten years hence. I do know that this life we have built together will always keep me anchored.

and just while I was writing this, the winter sun hugged my bare feet like a pair of hand knitted woolen socks from back home.

Hum dekhenge

Spent the evening reading Faiz Ahmad Faiz and listening to Iqbal Bano singing Hum Dekhenge. Papa would have absolutely loved it. https://youtu.be/dxtgsq5oVy4

So it is here – my inqalab comes to rest. I take oath on the 21st of this month. Papa would have loved to celebrate this milestone. And I would have too, with a hope that I might have convinced them to come be a part of my life now, here. But that hope died 12 years ago.

I am not so ready to give up an identity I am so proud of. It makes me who I am. I’d not be the person I am, if I was born on another soil. I inhaled the dust of Delhi, and have been baked in the heat of northern India.

And to give up so much to adorn an identity I am not so sure about.

Everyone says, it hardly matters. But it does matter to me. I was born there. And back then I didn’t know that I will have a life across two continents. That I will be born as an Indian and I will die as an American. Did I make that choice? Do I even have a choice? Or rather, if given a choice will I choose otherwise?

Regardless, this story is 17 years in the making. But my relationship with my past is forever mine. May be it doesn’t matter. As long as US and India don’t go to war in my lifetime. 🫤 You can change my passport, but I shall always be a desi at heart ❤️

The Spirit of Dussehra

It’s becoming a month of revelations and learnings. Of eyes wide open , mouths sealed shut. A month of understanding and reconciling. Of accepting and cleansing. Letting go, and holding on. Just another month, one might think.

What makes it special is that many years in a row now, October has held that place in my annual rituals. It’s shaky to begin with, a bit stumbling in the middle, and then a new horizon awaits.

Lately I’ve started feeling that sense of “it’s never going to be like the old times ever again”. Like, life will never be as simple as it was a dozen or so Diwalis ago. In that state of overwhelm I start to look for ways to simplify my own life, for I cannot change the world around me. And I keep coming back to the question – how did I get here? And how much further do I need to go? It only goes downstream from where I am. It is only going to get more complex.

Going back to David Brook’s Second Mountain, where I stand today, is clearly my first peak. I can do two things – descend and find my next worthy ascent; or keep climbing from this peak to some next.

To keep climbing I need to change myself. Become who I have not been. I might not like who I become. I might not ever be able to simplify my life if I keep going.

But if I descend, it will come at a cost. I don’t know the price I will pay. I don’t know what that experience will make me. May be I won’t like that person either.

The fork in the road is clear. Choices not so much.

So, I have decided to start to walk, and go just far enough to know if I want this path for myself. I don’t have a more worthy ascent ahead of me. Those choices take time to create. They need preparations, that I have not made.

So I pick the route up, I pick my pace, and I pick my values. Some I won’t compromise and some that aren’t for the outside world. I can be authentic to myself, by being quiet to the outside world. That way I won’t be deceiving myself. I will be deceiving the world. That world which is not ready to accept me as I am. For my family and friends, I am me. For others, I am who they expect me to be where I stand today.

The diabolical and the divine thoughts play each other, in the corners of my mind, getting tangled in the cobwebs. They say, it’s the spirit of Dussehra!

Last sunset

Watching the sunset /
with your hand on my shoulder /
It was our last

Rudderless amidst a storm. In the scene, but out of focus. Mind is numb. No words come to the lips. Just your absence surrounds me. It’s hurting more than usual this year.

I took out the bag of things yesterday. Things that belonged to you, that I associated with you. Tragedy is that my wedding bangles, the pink dupatta that was used to tie my kurta to Agam’a kurta for our pheras was also in the same bag. Your lacquer black glasses, your favorite box of meaningless treasures, your linen shirt that I absolutely loved to see you in, all wrapped together in a red satin bag.

I hugged your shirt, wore your glasses and cried to my heart’s delight. Then I took out the bangles and showed them to Tara. She can have them now. It was my attempt to lighten the load. Let go of some heaviness in my heart.

I can see your face around these even today.

12 years since you took flight. 12 years since I changed forever.

Yesterday at the gurudwara, a little kid came running towards Tara and me. He looked at me and smiled as if he knew me. Then he looked at Tara and his smile widened. He looked at the two of us for sometime, didn’t say a word, and ran back to his father. And I wondered if it was you, visiting us, in another form of life.

Those who have lost someone, look for the their lost one, in everyone. That is who I have become. I’m not waiting for you to show up. But I will assume there is part of you in everyone who has ever been kind to me, or cared for me, just like you did. There are a few I can count on. But it’s quite lonely without you, Papa.

Ssshhhh!!

Sometimes we know things and yet we turn a blind eye to them. And sometimes we get hoodwinked. Been in the industry long enough to know when I can and when I cannot trust someone. Yet I sometimes turn a blind eye.

I was shushed today. I don’t even know why. It was brutal. I felt attacked. But I let it go in the moment. Only to come back to it later in the day.

When you shush someone you lose their trust to ever share again. It is your loss. You might not realize that in the moment. But you basically break the social contract of dialogues and debate.

I did not expect much from this individual. But I felt bad for all the people who took notice of the shushing. They were led to believe that their voices can be shushed as well.

I hate to come to this place and write when I am a tad bit disappointed with the world. But I was reminded today that I have not been myself lately – I haven’t been here enough. I have not let it out enough.

I answered six questions and earned my US citizenship today. It’s a milestone. This journey started 17 years ago. But I couldn’t help but hang my day on the way I felt when I was shushed. I wondered if my daughter, who is fortunate to be born in this country, will also be shushed someday by someone. And if yes, then how futile it is to be here and have spent those 17 years in vain. For I could be back home, amongst a billion others who are all being shushed all the time.

Anyways ! It’s not going to get any better here. October is upon us.

Of Octobers past

Leaves have changed color /
I slip back into my past /
when October starts

This year Diwali and Dussehra are both in October. Making it harder for me to swim upstream from the abyss that October brings. 12 years since, I still fear October as if it is here to take something very dear, away from me.