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Sunday
Apr142019

Tamil New year 2019

Another year rolls by.. and this year I had to explain to kids why Tamil New years day is as important to me as Jan 1st. They saw it as something less to celebrate.. the world turns irrespective of our celebrating and all these days are random markers in time .. birthdays, new years based on different dates.. etc.

I had to tell them about the history of New years on Jan 1st and how things have changed just in 2000 years with respect to Jan 1. The Tamil year system is more complex but the new Years is April 14th. 

We went to the temple yesterday given it was Rama Navami and decided to stay put at home today. There is 4 temples in the area and they are all super crowded. So we prayed for a good new year on "new year's eve" I guess! 

We were glad to have some friends visit us for lunch. The highlight was San's friends parents who came and blessed us with all their heart. To me, that is always what I miss about Tamil New Year here. When in India, you go to older relatvies and get their blessing.. Here I look around and realize that I AM the older relative!!! (when my MIL is not around). 

My MIL was happy today as well as she was superseeded by folks who could bless her! 

and what is a new years post without a family portrait?!

I am not exactly jet lagged but tired. It was time to turn on the sprinkler system today and I have not spent much time in the backyard in ages.. so went to check on things and ended up pulling out a lot of weeds.. some of them got to me. So I had puffy eyes for the pictures.. 

My saluations to all the elders on New Years and my blessings to all my younger family members.. Yes, I am now old enough to start blessing people as well as receive blessings.. 

This years name is Vihari, which is the 32nd of the 60 year cycle.. Wikipedia may not be the best source for this information (whenever westerners get to write or rewrite history..  a lot is lost in factual accuracy and translation)..but for what it is worth here is the link..

Given 2019 as a year did not start well for me.. counting on Vihari being a good year for me.. we can always count new years different ways, no?! 

That alone tells you that it really does not matter where the count starts. It is a good reason to celebrate, thank your stars and more importantly thank your elders and make sure you understand your responsibility as an older person to set an example for the young ones on this pretext.

The earth continues revolving and that is a good thing..

Sunday
Mar242019

A parallel track.. 

While I have been doing things with San and Jr. , the little one has been busy in her own way.. 

She had her annual violin recital with Andre Music studio, where she studies outside the school orchestra. This year they performed with two other schools at the Trinon theater in Downtown San Jose. 

She loves playing the Violin and that makes me so happy to see her play. Sometimes she gets that dreamy look in her eyes that says she is lost in the music and I feel that my job as a dad is at least half done as long as my kids have music in their lives!

Two photos that pretty much captured the event for me.. 

She got to receive the award for the group and I was happy to capture that smile. She has a beautiful smile, but it is so rare to capture it.. it is like that flower that blooms once every 12 years.. have to keep watching for it..

 

The recording of the event is very long.. here are a few snippets of the different pieces they played, some with the studio and others with all studios.. 

It is my sincere hope that she keeps playing, if not for others, at least for herself. 

She recently asked me sarcastically "like you play the guitar for yourself?" and I said "I dont have time to play the guitar these days, but if I want to, I can pick it up and start playing!" which was said in haste.. it will take me some time to get back to where I left off..  

hopefully she keeps playing without a hiatus.

Sunday
Mar242019

Even a rainbow might feel under dressed

This weekend we celebrated Holi in Union city with friends. Many years ago, we made this a local event in a park in Cupertino.. but that was just the 15-18 of our close gathering.. last three years we decided to join a much bigger crowd of a few thousand people and it is a lot more fun!

As usual I get to take pictures of the group and send to everyone. I love editing photos of the happy faces after coming home as much as jumping up and down with colors everywhere! 

and then there are the kids.. just amazing.. innocent.. putting colors on themselves and everyone.

I had put some of this on FB already, but given my FB acts up and no one knows what will happen over time, posting some of that in the blog as well. 

One thing that is amazing is that playing Holi with strangers or friends and family works the same. San and jr. went into the crowd to meet our friends. As I walked into the crowd with a heavy camera bag on one shoulder and a camera on my hand ( I had to protect the lens from being powdered!!) a kid came running out of nowhere and hit hit head on my lens.. By the time I checked to make sure he was fine, he ran into the crowd. Now I was lost.. trying to stand on tippy toes to see if there was any chance of locating the tallest person in our group.. while doing that a group of strangers asked me if they could put color on me. I said yes and they promptly colored me! Then they shared their colors with me to put it back on them. 

At this point I would not have recognized myself anyway and when I finally found our group, they were all giving me the look that said "so, you have already been playing Holi with someone else all this time!" . 

Also the group is totally international and inter racial. Probably there were people from every country in the world there.. not to mention pet dogs. Even the dogs were colored and they seemed to be enjoying it! 

Some pictures from the celebration..

A picture of the kids taking a selfie.. it is my favorite shot of the entire album.. I would like to see that actual picture. They never smiled like that when posing for me.. but their smiles on the selfie must be priceless!! 

Also made a composite of all the recent Holi celebrations.. Missed the little one the last few years. She always ends up with a conflict of sorts on these days. Next year I have begged her to come celebrate with us...

Finally, a video with snippets that were recorded partly with iPhone and partly with the 5D Mark ii... that shows how grand this was!

The bay area is truly an amazing place.. We get to celebrate everything in style! 

Happy Holi to everyone! May your life be colorful and bright !!

Sunday
Mar242019

Don't you have Yoga to do?

That is a question that my wife and kids ask me these days, especially when my responses to their questions are 

- questions 

- have nothing to do with the question

- general answers in a raised voice that don't add any value

I do occasionally answer their questions when there is a lot on my mind, but most of the time my mind is simply not tuned to what is being asked.

This year has been particularly off to a bad start with us getting hit with unplanned spends almost every week.. a broken washer to start off on New Years eve, a rat/squirrel deciding to nest inside the Prius hood, India trips, locked up knees and jaw which came out of nowhere, water main leak bills that hit us months later, a change in deduction rules from IRS which makes us cut checks to them.. the list keeps going.. 

This year has also been tough on the mind with my father taking a fall and the constant worry that he might fall again and the impact this has on my mom, Jr. having to go to college shortly and me being at odds with the wife and kids on the value of a college education vs. real skill development.. 

Let's just say that I am at war with the world.. 

So it is no wonder that my wife and kids would rather see me pack off and go do Yoga, because at least for a few hours I am calm and not belligerent after coming back. The yoga literally knocks the wind out of me and in trying to get my bearings back, I tend to look forward instead of in the rear view mirror. I am able to do that at work but not at home. At work, can always tell myself and folks "let's focus on what has to be done next". There comes a point in your life where your willingness to solve some issues is simply not there because you don't see the value in solving those issues. I maybe at that point now!

This year I signed up for a 60 day challenge with the goal of getting some sanity. It was the one word I put in as the reason for signing up. Having signed up 8 times before and finishing 7/8 times, was not really going for the physical benefit this time. Just wanted to lower my rage. 

There was going to be travel during the challenge and that meant doing some doubles, but that was a known thing and by now it is nothing new for me or the family. However, I stopped drinking water during class last March 21st. Wanted to make that the new normal. So that made some of the doubles incredibly hard, but I did it. Drank a packet of vitamins 15 minutes after class and walked right back into the hot room and did everything.. gave it my 100%. Most of the times, I went on will power alone. Literally willed my body to stand up and do the asanas. 

The main goal of not drinking water was to be able to fidget less in class, what with having less distraction from the water bottle and also to be able to suck my tummy in during forward compressions.  The no water practice definitely helped with the tummy "tuckability" in a significant way.  However, in the 222 classes since no water, the number of times I have NOT fidgeted or tried to unintentionally wipe sweat off my forehead or nose, try to unwrinkle my towel, etc. is ZERO!  Have managed to stay absolutely still for the standing series most of the times but that is only two thirds of the class.

It becomes especially hard when we are lying down on the floor trying to relax. It is one thing to let the body relax.. it is another thing to let the mind wander while the body is trying to relax.. that is when you fidget and by the time you realize it, it is too late.. fidgeting already done.. mission failure! 

At first it used to depress me that I had no control over my own body parts. How could my hand go to my forehead the second I take my mind off of the "no fidget no fidget" mantra? We call it "sub-conscious" for a reason! The trick is to be conscious of every thing for 90 minutes. It is NOT easy. In that challenge I failed miserably.  

One has to take the positives when you get them. From that perspective, I did manage to do Yoga 60 times in 60 days, thanks to all the encouragement from family, friends and most importantly my teachers. That is the big positive. For all the seething internal negativity and rage, there are people out there who care about me, realize that most of my screw ups are well intentioned and calm me down. We have a healthy support group and a great community at BYSJ. We don't talk about our individual problems, work etc.. we do talk about attitudes, approach to things.. be it in the hot room or how to translate that to the outside world and that helps. We talk to each other and get inspired. 

Folks with fused spines, amputees, folks who see their patients die on a regular basis, folks who have to inject themselves every day to just be able to function, folks with PTSD... a long list of people who come and do the yoga to keep them moving and functioning..

Compared to them, my flying across the pacific every three weeks and going over jetlag or fighting joint locking up issues seems lame. 

The usual graphs and charts that I post to remind myself that every year is different but I can still go after finishing 10 challenges..

My average weight has gone from 149 to 152 this year.. but it ahs been going up from 139 steadily over last 6 years at 2 lbs/ year. Guess that is on the trend line. This is the weight graph ever since I started tracking it.  

 

Made new friends this year. Most of the times I went for the last class of the day. We managed to encourage and push each other to finish!

The best part was the party where we got to share our stories and have family and friends present to get our T-shirts. It is a shirt that I wear with pride everywhere, not just because of the soft fabric, but because it was earned with a lot of hard work!

There is a warmth in that hot room (no pun intended) that makes me feel like I am inside my mothers womb (guess at least that is what it would feel like). It is a place of safety where I am at peace. The teachers voices are always a calming influence, even when they are imploring us to push ourselves in their loudest voices! My mind reacts "that is so soothing",  kind of like how after almost 20 years my wife looks cute even when she is yelling at me. Thank you BYSJ for keeping me healthy inspite of my repeated attempts to screw up my body and more importantly for keeping me sane!

The challenge is done but San and the kids keep encouraging me to do Yoga. All credit for anything I do, goes to them... but the T-shirt goes to me! 

Monday
Feb182019

Best of both worlds.. but...

Recently I felt like eating Rava dosai after coming home late at night after a yoga class.. given time constraint, decided to make upma and smear the upma around the Chatti to get a dense rava dosai roast on the vessel..

that came out pretty good.

Today I did a double at BYSJ. My MIL who is visiting joined me for the first class. When she came out, she asked me "do you want me to make you some upma or something ? I will be able to make it for you by the time you come home!"

I told her "no, it is okay.. I feel like eating Maggi noodles after class".. Nothing beats some carbs and spices after back to back yoga class for me!

Somehow in the middle of the second class, I started remembering all types of Upmas.. every upma I had ever remembered over the years etc.. it was like my brain had issued a grep command inside the memory for "upma" and presented the massive result base scroll through my wide open eyes and nose.. 

Came home and saw that MIL had kept a small cup (to tell me she would also like some Maggi)! Told her that she should not have reminded me of upma between two yoga classes.. so Plan change! Upma for dinner.

Instead of making the usual Rava Upma, decided to do this dosa-upma thing again and show her.. 

there are two issues with this.

1. I put jeera (cumin) in the upma to make the dosa come out good.

2. it does not scale very well.. Remember surface area and volume do not scale the same.. so the upma per MIL became the consistancy of Karudaththu maavu.. Felt bad.. we still ate the upma.. It was okay for my standard but did not get any thumbs up from her..

the roast on the other hand was really really good!

Lifting the roast from the chatti was... priceless! 

I have to improve on scaling the proportions and use less or no Jeeragam on the next try...