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Birthday happiness

Last year was 45. Folks reminded me that once you cross 45, you become less employable, etc. etc.

This year had the same birthday ingredients and that is a good thing. Last year's birthday was on the day before Thanksgiving and ended up at the company party.

This year, the birthday ended up being on Thanksgiving. The company picnic was interesting.. we had caricature artists which was a lot of fun. 

This is a collage of two different caricature artists interpretation, a selfie at the party and a picture of me the next morning.

guess the profile of how you sit down in front of the artist makes him draw you with a long face or a round face.. 

The actual birthday started with Yoga bright and early.

By the time I got back home, showered and made and drank tea, no one had woken up. That was still teh state for another hour and finally the family woke up one by one.. we were in Vacation mode, and it was a good thing!

Then came Lunch at my favorite place.. Bhavika aunty made me "mini" pooran poli's. I call them Personal-Pan-Poli's. They were absolutely yummy.  The entire Bhavika's family was surprised by my Swamiji look. Told them it is just a temporary experiment. 

Then there was a post lunch get together with friends, where again folks who had not seen me in some time were pop quizzing me on the new look. There was the group photo where the rudraksham was put outside the sweater.. so they could lay claim to having known Swamiji before he became an internet sensation.... the jokes were all good. Looks like all one has to do is:

1. Stop shaving

2. Declare an intent to add "ananda" or "saraswathi" to one name

3. be able to come up with some wise ass remarks

4. give an all knowing sarcastic smile

5. insult the intelligence of anyone who is willing to listen to you 

and a moment creates itself around you! Next thing you know, Sri Sundarananda Saraswathi is the water cooler topic.. 

There was a special banana bread for me to cut.. which was yummy.. by this time I was ready to be the acting double for the burmese python in the Harry Potter movies...

This year I also got my other wish.. an afternoon nap on my birthday! 

Then came the India women playing the England women at the World T20 Cricket semi finals and they lost big time. This was an undefeated team till the Semi finals.. and they just lost it. It was a good reminder for me that I was a lucky guy to have a lot of things go my way so far.. 

Was also thinking about my grandpa a lot be it at the company party or on my birthday. It has been 9 years since he passed away. Listented to him reciting slokas for a good 30 minutes and recited along with him. Thanks to technology this is possible!

Then we went to spend the evening with friends, have Italian food for dinner, music, games and finally called it a night. It was past midnight when we got home. 

It was a fun evening spent with smiles all around!

My friend also gave me her one word review of the beard "sahikkalai"! (unberable) which created some instant solidarity moments between the rest of my family members and her. There is a new Swami Army in town and it is hell bent on "making Swamiji Sundar again"

The only thing which we could not cram on the birthday wishlist was to go for a movie. Usually I go to a Bond movie, Harry Potter Movie or Marvel movie on my birthday with San, MIL, kids or whoever from that combination will come to the movie with me (also depends on the movie). Last year San and me went for Justice League. 

This year I wanted to see Venom first as it was already going out of a lot of theaters. It was going to be like a "Stan Lee homage visit". There were no favorable show times.. so we went to see Venom today. 

While driving there San started pop quzzing me "who is the hero? who is the heroine? etc." and I got worried. There were some expectations to set.

Me : We are going to a movie titled "venom". he is not even a good superhero. He is more like a supervillain type.. this is not a chick flick ! There are no songs, duets etc. etc.. I don't know the full story but heard there is a twist at the end of the movie. 

San was betting that no matter what, there had to be a hero, heroine, love angle, villain for any Marvel movie to work and I was shaking my head..

We came out of the movie with the realization that she was right! Both of us liked this movie. 

The birthday has now come and gone but we will use this excuse to watch another movie or two over what is left of the long weekend. Then it will be pedal to the metal again till Christmas. 

My birthday events are getting predictable and to me that is a good thing.

It has been a good week so far! Hope this year finishes off on a good note!


A violin recital

We interrupt the Deepavali / Diwali programming to bring you a violin recital.. the Little One (now she is a teen-y little one) did her recital as part of her music school. 

She knows this by heart, but was a little timid while playing. Getting used to a Piano that is not in your control can be an interesting experince, or so I thought.. 

Here is a video.. 

this was at the Valley Christian school. I had no idea that there is such a beautiful "school" overlooking the valley. This place was like brand new.. still amazed by the view from the school.. 

The little one is doing better every year.. the name of the game is to stay in the game. I keep telling her that! 

Here's to her keeping at it..


Possibilities - a conversation

We were talking about the election results while driving back from school, when Jr. is suddenly all moping.. 

Me : What happened now?

Jr. : Everyone in my class will get to vote in the next election except me! I am the only one who will not be 18 by Voting day in 2020. Do you know how bad that makes me feel?

Me : you will get to vote in 2022. Big deal

Jr. : Who wants their first vote to be in a midterm election? 

Me : If I were you, I would be happy to vote in any election. Reminded her of the story I had already told her about my voting experience...

Back story: The only time I got to vote in India being an Indian citizen was when I happened to come home to Chennai from Varanasi and it was election time. I went to the booth and the guy there told me "you have already voted. now disappear before something bad happens to you!". My grandpa scolded me for going to the booth alone, instead of showing some rightful indignation. That was when I was 18 (Chandrasekar was Prime Minister..it was a short lived tenure). I came to the US when I was 20 and the next time I actually voted was in 2006 as a US citizen in a midterm election and voted for Arnold Schwarzenegger! Have not missed voting since then. No one has told me that I have already voted or turned me back. I drop my mail in ballot at the Cupertino City hall a few weeks ahead of the election and can even track my vote. However I do hear that people go through things like what I went through in India, even today in the US elections in many places. 

Back to our conversation..

Jr. : Could you not have conceived me two weeks earlier? This is all your and amma's fault that I don't get to vote. 

I was suddenly silent and upset. There are people these days who schedule C-sections so their kids are born on an auspicious birth star, a certain Chinese zodiac year, before Dec 31st so they can claim a dependent on their tax return, etc. etc. ( know of all above cases).. but trying to beat the voting cutoff?! That is new!

Then I thought,  she was not a planned C-section. Her poor mom pushed and pushed all day and finally after she almost came out, she got stuck and it ended up an emergency C-section. 

Me : You were two weeks late and past your due date. Your origial due date was Deepavali, but you showed no signs of coming out. We were in the hosptal instead where your mom had to go through a baby stress test. You were under no stress. So they sent us back home. If this is anyones fault, it is your own. You should have been on time! 

I knew that was mean, but there comes a time in a mans life when he is just plain tired of being the fall guy. 

Later I tried to make up for the outburst... with some luck.

Midterms are important.. sometimes even more important than the Presidential elections.. please keep saying that people. I have other reasons to support that statement now.

As long as Jr. takes her vote seriously, I am a very happy and proud father! 


Happy Deepavali

Deepavali 2018 is almost here.. it is a bummer that it falls on a weekday but it will be celebrated, rain or shine!

San made some besan laddoo's and has a commitment to make some Gulab Jamun's.

Today I made some Omapodi.. 

San made a lot of laddoos.. but I already finished most of it in the last 24 hours.. by Deepavali night she might not have any left. 

This is not something I make every year. Was in a rush and did not grind the Chilli and Omam (Ajwain seeds) too fine. So some of them got caught in the nazhi (extruder) and I had to keep cleaning the holes to continue. Won't make that mistake again.

The end result is good. We still have two days to make more Deepavali bakshanams.

The little one comes out and tells me "we don't like oily stuff. it is mostly you and amma who are going to eat this!"

Sometimes you realize you have failed as a parent if your kids take this health stuff overboard! Deepavali comes once a year.. it is not every day that your dad labors in the kitchen to make this stuff..was going to launch myself into a lecture and decided to take the "fine.. just taste a little bit".. in hopes that the Savory Gene that has been passed on will do the trick..

Kids these days! bah! 

want to wish one and all a wonderful Deepavali! Deepavali is literally a celebration where the light of learning dispells the darkness of ignorance. 

Here's to light! 


Navarathri 2018

This year Navarathri came and went. . . and it took me a good 10 days to come up with this post.

It was another hectic 9 nights with only one weekend in the middle and that meant going and visiting friends across the bay area between Friday night and Sunday night.

At least I am here for this was the thought and don't have to travel. Then came Jr.'s marching band competitions and the picking up and dropping off for that meant I got to visit even less folks than usual.

Did not do the saraswathi pooja and Vijayadasami prayer this year. San's chinna paati passed away. The golu we usually attend at MIL's cousins place was always one of the grandest. Almost every large scale display of dolls reminded me of her and conversations with her. Just did not feel like doing any pooja this year. 

Did go see some Golu(Kolu's) with San, and took pictures. This year, wanted to take photos of unique dolls in the displays that were not seen in other displays. It was a larger list and eventually a lot of the redundants were taken off the list. 

Some of these are tiny dolls that are only a few inches tall but have some amazing detail.. 

Here are a few of my favorites..

The full displays and the other unique pics are in the slideshows below..


Also learned of the new and improved Snapseed App (thanks to Raja Ramki) and played with some of the pictures with that app. It was how I spent time while waiting at airport gates last week. Given all the photos were taken on the iPhone X, made it easy.. 

Another year has come and gone. The kids showed a lot less interest in visiting folks this year than previous years. 

Next year I hope the festival falls over two weekends and there are less conflicts!