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Saturday
Oct132018

Something that clicked

It has been a long time doing the Triangle pose as part of Yoga class. Every type of yoga class in the US does some variation of this triangle pose is what I am told. It is also called as Warrior pose and is a lunge and stretch at the same time. 

It is not an easy pose as you pretty much have to stretch in every direction.

Having captured myself with photographs over the years, this has definitely come a long way. 

However, .. there is always a "However", on the recent workshop with Joseph Encina, he mentioned something I have heard for the first time. 

It is not a SINGLE triangle that we are striving for! It is THREE triangles. THREE freaking triangles.

The first and second one are dependent on how flat your thighs are with respect to the ground and how perpendicular you make the bent leg to the floor. 

The third one (which is the one I focus on) is dependent on how you stretch your hands away from each other and how you stretch the crown of your head away from your foot while still keeping that same line. That part I understood, but am not close to getting the 90 degrees. (have tried this on ice/ snow!)

Have tried to graphically capture this below. 

In class I am almost 90 degrees for all three. This was a late night attempt do a blog post with a tummy full of samosas, sundal, sakkari pongal, venn pongal, just to name a few of the tasty treats being eaten at 25 minute intervals all afternoon and evening as part of the Navarathri festival. 

The fact that you even see any geometric shapes in that photo after all that eating is a medical miracle! 

Will try to get this pic either in the hot room itself or right after coming home from class (provided one of my three angels is willing to be the photographer) and update this post. 

You learn something new every day!

Saturday
Oct132018

All part of a busy life..

Jr. gets the same advice from me for pretty much everything this year. Given Jr. is in Jr. year, it is by far the most critical from a college preparation stand point. 

First she decided to have the Arangetram this year. I told her not to do it but if she did, it better be good and it better not compromise school. 

Second, she decided to go for her driving permit in summer. I told her not to do it but if she did, it better be good and it better not compromise school. 

Third, she decided to take Marching band this year in school so she can do band and marching band to get PE credits.  I told her not to do it but if she did, it better be good and it better not compromise school.

She has a tendency to try multiple things, not do well on multiple things and point fingers at other activities.

The Arangetram is done and the fallout of that w.r.t. exams is still being felt in the house. She did do a good job of it.

She has stopped driving temporarily and will resume in a month. While she did drive me around, she was a good and careful driver. Thank god she doesn't have mom's driving gene.

The marching band is still going on and it is one big time sink. There is three hours plus of practice twice a week and a game almost every week where it is another 4-5 hours. She likes it and is happy doing it, but it might be the one thing that helps Jr. point fingers at for grade misses. 

In any case, I can only watch her dress up and do marching band and enjoy her enjoying it. On top of all the games and practice there was a high school marching band expo where all high schools had their bands display the routines. I got to see this from the front row. It was great to see all the kids put in so much effort into this. 

Jr.'s high school music teacher was hesitant at first when he got the marching band back again last year after a long gap, but this is definitely a plus. The kids seem to thoroughly enjoy it and this builds a team spirit among the kids and it teaches them co-ordination within the instruments coupled with co-ordination with other members while moving around. 

Have been watching them practice since summer and they have improved significantly as a group in just 3 months!

Here is Jr. in her marching band uniform..

and a video of the Monta Vista school marching band at the expo..

At this rate we don't know were all this is going. We know she is doing a bunch of things and she is happy doing them. 

Given I never went through any of this in high school and grew up in a different place in a different time, all this just makes me happy and scared simultaneously. 

Hope she uses what she learns here to some value in real life and more than anything, hope she does go to college and have a career that makes her happy.

Wednesday
Oct102018

A false sense of security

Conversation with gay friends a few years ago:  "don't be fooled by the rainbow lighting in the white house. the world is not as pro gay rights as we are led to believe"

We all learned that the folks who went and registered themselves under DACA were naive. They were signing up to be on a round up list when the administration changed.

See the same thing with the MeToo movement. Women are being lulled into a false sense of security and are coming out and naming accusers. 

All those so called Twitter supporters might as well be bots who are echoing election messages for money. People who are sitting on their couches with their laptops, typing frantically on social media, offering their words of support and hashtags, cannot do anything when it comes to actually backing these women all the way to get justice. 

The country(ies) are run by the rich class that is actually part of the problem. The political class, is definitely part of the problem as power has corrupted folks into thinking they can get away with anything and usually it is a case of people scratching peoples back. 

The media will move on to the next best thing, be it toilet paper intentionally left on DJT's shoes as he boards the next plane or Melania's faux pas in Africa. 

Meanwhile the poor women will go through being shamed all over again, be forgotten with the next news cycle and the same guys who were accused will come back to their day jobs using their money, power, influence to haunt their accusers and make them disappear. 

The ones that set the example are always the creeps. Very rarely do we see justice (which again seems disproportionate) for a Cosby or a Weinstein. 

The most powerful man in the world today thinks it is okay to grab women by their body parts and he is still out there. 

So many folks were named as part of the metoo movement. The standard Modus Operandi for the perps seems to be :

1. Why did you not come forward earlier?

2. How come you cannot remember details clearly?

3. If 1 and 2 are answered, they plant a fake accuser whose credibiilty can be questioned and then use that to say "all accusers are not credible" 

4. shaming using multiple methods

Have seen this over and over and over again. 

My kid came and told me "who will believe us if something like that happened to us? no wonder no one comes forward and accuses anyone because no one will believe the woman!" and my answer was "I will definitely believe you. I am your dad". 

It is a sad day if your daughter has doubts on the world when it comes to people believing a woman's word against a man. 

Sincerely want women to band together on this. Women need to believe other women. 

Ladies, if you know a woman who believes "boys will be boys".. "locker room talk" etc. please convince that person that it is not acceptable and it is wrong. Maybe a woman can change the mind of another woman?

Nothing is worse than a mother endorsing such behavior for a son or a wife endorsing such behavior from a husband. 

I grew up in a very male chauvinistic society. Then I ended up in a country where women think they are in much better shape than any place in the world, only to see again and again that it is not much different. 

To all those brave women who are coming forward and naming accusers, the world is not ready for you. My kid is right. One man believing her is not enough. The world will come back and get you. So think twice before you come forward. All those retweets won't save you as they pale against money, power and influence in the real world.  It is not a million candles burning for you. It is one candle and a lot of mirrors. That one flickers and dies and it is total darkness. 

The most powerful country in the world saw a circus to nominate a SC judge who will decide many cases that determine the fate of women and we saw what happened.  There is no chance for ordinary people to get any justice. 

Wait a few years, till something big happens. Something real. Not Twitter rage. Some new laws and regulations when it comes to meaningful investigations and consequences for folks found guilty. A time when a woman goes in front of a panel of people where the percentage of women on the panel is same as the percentage women out there.. even then you should think twice.

A sincere request to all those who are encouraging the women who have come forward for more details on their revelations, or asking more folks to come forward.. please stay behind them to the end. Retweeing might make you feel you have done the right thing, but you are actually doing more damage to people because at the end of the day they face all the conquences while you will still be on your couch with your laptop doing the same thing. 

This post is doing the same on the other side of things, and that is not lost on me.  I am on a couch writing this, but someone needs to caution these women that they are not being backed up as they might think.

The world is not ready for Metoo

Wish it was!

Tuesday
Oct022018

Being a parent has its perks

It has been a great weekend! Months of preparation went into Jr.'s Arangetram. First time she is doing a solo dance performance, in front of a large audience with a live orchestra. It is a new beginning for her to take her Bharathanatyam (form of south Indian classical dance) to the next level. 

Jr. has always loved dancing. Like most kids, she first performed THE CHICKEN DANCE! She would spontaneously dance to movie songs.. She then wanted to learn Bharathanatyam and tried out a local teacher, but she dropped it after a few months. Mostly ten year olds were substitute teaching her, as the teacher had to go to India for a family affair. Kumon took precedence and she stopped dancing. The next year she bugged us again and we decided to take her to Meena teacher in Sunnyvale. She loved Meena teacher. She has been learning from Meena teacher ever since.

Have been pretty much dropping her at the dance teachers house, once a week or twice a week, over the last eight or nine years, go do groceries, or have an occasional chai samosa at Bhavikas and go pick her up at the end of class and drive back home. It is a 20-25 minute drive, which was done with monotonous ease over the years.

There was a time, when I would go in and sit down to watch the lesson. That was when she was around 7 to 8 years old. Soon she declared that she doesn't want me sitting there and watch as she will "thappu panni" (make mistakes). So daddy was banned from coming to watch. She would practice at home, mostly with her sister competing for the mirror in her own cute way!

The only time I have seen her dance, is once a year during the Pushpanjali dance academie's annual day function or the occasional dance performance as a group in some temple or other. The costumes went from various paavadais to a borrowed dress , another borrowed dress, finally to her own dance dress three years ago!

If you read the posts in the links you will see three themes:

1. I keep missing my sister everytime I see Jr. dress up in a dance costume.

2. We are very critical parents, grand parents, relatives when it comes to her dancing

3. In spite of everything, Jr. loves to dance and she does it for herself more than anyone else

The dancing has also improved over the years. Last year at the annual day, I finally got to see her dance very differently from the previous years.

She wanted to do her Arangetram (solo stage debut) last year, but we sent her to India for an entire summer so she could spend time with my parents and brothers family. The event was pushed out to this year. 

Meena teacher and Jr. put in a lot of effort in taking her dancing to a higher level so she could do the arangetram. Given Jr. is a bold girl and I have no stage fright, was confident that somehow she will manage the stage part. I had never seen her dance a single song from her Arangetram at any practice. So I had no idea what was in store.

There were only two things, that kept me up at night the last few months. 

1. Her ability to hold one legged poses (my mom would eventually watch the video and she is a stickler for kids holding the Nataraja pose in an arangetram)

2. Her eyes getting irritated with the eyeliner.

Jr. has ended up in a hospital thrice with her eyes getting so irritated after an annual day performance because of an allergic reaction to the eyeliner. Was praying that it will not happen durng the event. She never wears it during regular class, practice or even the full practice she did the entire week before the event. Fortunately, she got no reaction this time. Her eyes were red, but not to the point where they had to be shut for hours. 

The first time I saw her dance the numbers was last Friday at a rehersal with her uncles. Yes.. there is a flashback in this post, that tops all other flashbacks.

Many years ago, when Jr. was a year and a half old, we visited Melbourne for the first time. San's cousins who were little kids then, went to perform on the Mridangam and Violin at a local music school function. We were in the audience and at the end of the event they said "if Jr. ever does her arangetram, we will come and accompany her!".

We have talked about it many times and Meena teacher agreed to have them accompany her, after we showed her videos of them performing at events in Melbourne area. Practice tapes were sent and things co-ordinated and I was oblivious of all the effort that San and an army of people supporting this were doing. Continued to play chauffer..

Last Friday, at the practice, was blown away by the improvement in her dancing. Had no words.. just sat silently in the car on the way back home with a realization that :

1. my daughter was no longer a kid

2. if she could switch her face from anger to scared to happy to sad, I should be very careful with her going forward.. this is a girl who would put a puppy face and bat her eyelids, to get anything she wanted from me at 4 years old, but that was her only method.. now she has some acting talent, my brain went on high alert!

3. I don't have to worry about the event

On Saturday evening, she got on stage and danced. She did it for herself more than anyone else. She made us very proud that evening. Then she told us "we should tell Meena aunty that I want to come back to the regular class schedule". 

Dancing on stage for the first time alone is all well and good, but it takes a lifetime of practice to improve at anything. Was very happy to hear her say that. As long as she keeps it up, we are happy for her. 

The first step in her dance journey was finding Meena teacher and Pushpanjali dance academy. The second step was this Arangetram. The next step is scheduling the first class after the arangetram. The step after that, is to keep going...

Do not have photographs from the official photographer / videographer yet. It will come in a week. Did walk around with a camera, during the performance, through a side door that goes to backstage and took some shots.. 

A big thanks to her uncles Venkat and Narayanan (aka Varun) for coming all the way up from Melbourne to accompany her,

Smt. Jayanthi Umesh and Sri. Ashwin Krishnakumar for supporting her with the Vocal and Flute

and Meena teacher who is nothing short of a miracle worker.

Sometimes I wish Meena teacher would teach Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics etc. also.. 

Jr.'s aunt Aditi was the MC for the event. 

Was too tongue tied at the end of the performance and opted not to speak. So I get to thank everyone in this blog for posterity.. the voluteers from the dance academy, friends and family who came from near and far, the folks we hired and the folks who volunteered for every aspect of the event, makeup, stage set up, decorations, sound, lighting, compering, taking care of the dancer, the artists, the attenees, video, photos, a very long list of things that I did not know, that have to work perfectly for an event of this magnitude to happen, our entire list of guests who came to the event or sent messages that encouraged Jr. on this event. 

After my wedding, this was the first time we had my brother, sister , San's brother and sister all be here in one location. Some of them made it with their families. We had 20-21 folks stay in a house where normally 4-5 of us are there. Now we have an empty house effect after everyone has gone. The silence is deafening. 

Two photographs that never saw the light of day.. they were taken during the still shoot for the invitation..

San doesn't get enough thanks from me, for making me see what could be, because she knows what our kids are capable of, has a wider imagination, and she is not soft on them like me.. THANK YOU SANGEETHA! 

You were right, again! The girl can dance!

Here is to Jr. and her continued dancing journey...

Sunday
Sep162018

What's comin' will come, an' we'll meet it when it does... 

This is the last post on the Europe trip. The previous post on the series is here..
The last day (day 13) of the Europe trip was spent on two things. Most of the day was an Evans and Evans trip to Hogwarts.. let's just call it that. It was actually the Warner Brothers studios shooting location for all the Harry Potter movies over 10 years that is now a Studio tour. 
As usual we had to go from Kings cross station to Victoria, then board the bus which took us to the studio in a little over an hour and we were handed tickets and told that we had a little over 4 hours to come back to the bus. We will be back in Victoria Station area at 5:15-5:30 PM. 
We also had tickets for the London Eye that evening. We wanted to see the views of London as the sun set so I could get some pictures with the daylight and some with the buildings lighting up.
First it was almost our last day and this would be almost the last time leaving the Kings Cross station. The kids were eyeing Lola's hand crafted cup cakes two days straight.. so today was their day! 
Then we were off.. 
Full disclosure. I had not read a single Harry Potter book to date. Have only watched the movies as they came out in theaters. Missed the Order of the Phoenix in theaters and caught bits and pieces of it at a later date in someones house but that was it. Was and still am a big fan of the whole series of movies. Who can resist magic?
Don't think there is a picture of me and San being happier in this trip! 
We had four hours to spend at the place and we walked through every room, exhibit and hallway and when we came out of the place it was exactly 4 hours. This included a 20 minute break to have lunch before going into the studio. 
The kids were given little Hogwart's passports and they had to find the 7 secret Horcruxes in the place.. so they were busy searching for those in the various rooms.. 
Then there was the butterbeer, which can give kids a brain freeze, has unknown health effects on muggles and gives dads wallets a cold.. 
The whole experience was amazing.. our 4 hours is condensed into the video below.. 
The skies were brilliant and my hopes for great pictures from the London eye were already high..
We reached the Victoria station, walked towards the London Eye and realized that the entire area was a circus. Apparently there was a large protest for DJT's visit to London and the wife and kids had heard about it through social media and our tour guide from the previous day's trip.
The whole place was crawling with people who had signs in their hands. 
It had become hot and a little on the "about to rain" side and I removed my jacket to avoid going into one of those dangerous "avalanche sweats" as I call it. Was also proudly wearing my 60 day Challenge Bikram Yoga San Jose T-shirt to announce to the folks on the street that I was American. 
Given the generic anti-American sentiment on the streets that day, was thinking if I should buy one of those London T-shirts.. then we realized no one cared.. The London protesters were an interesting bunch.
We got some great views of the city from the London Eye after we saw a 4D show at the basement that was part of the ticket.
A video of the London Eye experience ..
Got two pano shots from the London eye..
One from either side as our little carriage made it up and down over 40 minutes.
Slide shows of pictures from Hogwart's and the London Eye 
When we came out it was about to rain, the streets were extremely crowded with protesters and we wanted to find dinner.
San's classmate had recommended a Chat place which had 8 branches in London and was very popular, but based on the 1 hour 20 minute wait time (there were 100+ folks standing in line knowing the wait time) we decided to take his second recommendation. A place called Shapur's in Strand area.
We went to Shapur's and had a nice dinner.. 
We walked to the train station from there past the Royal Opera house which was beautiful..
Then it started raining and we realized (were actually told by someone) that this is the "typical" London weather and we were really fortunate to miss it over our three day trip. 
Apparently that is what London looks on an average day.. "like Seattle" is what we all said at the same time and walked down the steps to the train station.
The next morning we were going to take one last train ride on the Europe trip to Gatwick airport and it was going to be back in the US.. 
We thoroughly enjoyed this 14 day trip. It took a lot of planning from San and the kids and San pretty much arranged every little thing. I was happy to be on package tours so I could also play tourist and enjoy the sights with the lens or my eyes.  
It was also a blessing to be able to meet San's Sister and her family during this trip, not to mention two of her classmates and one of our family friends.
We would definitely recommend the tours we took and the Air B&B's we used in various locations. 
I also loved writing about this trip.. even though it has taken two full months to finish writing about a two week trip.
This blog is my pensieve!