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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!


Halloween 2018

This year Halloween was interesting.. a busy day. There was a potluck planned at work. I forgot to tell San about the potluck and she packed my lunch. Once I got to work and realized the Potluck was on, called the local Indian store and got some of my favorite samosas. The guy says minimum tray order is 50 samosas and I go "okay". 

Now we still have 15 or so left at home. 

We had the kids dress up as a scarecrow and a devil but the little one does not want her photo on the blog. So this year there will be only one picture.. 

She made that stuff up herself with no help from anyone. 

They went trick or treating with different friend groups. But one thing they have been doing for years?

Grab a lot of dads favorite candy (or the ones he can eat safely with no peanuts).. Twix and Milky ways.. 

This was waiting for me on the table !!!

Daddy is happy that he has his candy.. then again, all Twix are not created equal. Some of the Twix are old and some are new.. 

Have a bag of candy at work always.. Eat one for a post lunch snack every day. . . one of lives little pleasures. 

This will add to that post lunch bag and it was collected with a lot of love from my darlings!


A toothbrush, napkin wrapper and an evening of shopping

Could have titled this post "three conversations" but that would be bland..

On recent Asia trips, I have started a new habit. Take the toiletries I use in the hotel room and put them in by backpack every day.. then bring them home, use them a few more times before throwing them. My little contribution to the "green earth" campaign? Actually not! 

A colleage told me that he saw a youtube video where the folks who come clean the rooms in star hotels in Asia, were caught on hidden camera, using the guest's toothbrushes in the toilet just out of spite. "Why take chances?" was my logic.

Came back from the trip and was about to throw the comb and brush (which had squished itself in my backpack and was not usable anymore) into the bathroom bin, and saw teh green glow of the sanitary napkin wrapper under the bin lid. Given my jet lag and my inclination to randomly burst out at my wife and kids for 24 hours after the trip, either when woken up or when asked to do pick up drop offs where I see myself unfit for driving, this wrapper put me on high alert. So the next day I was doing everything, as my usual being extra nice to my wife routine. Did not talk back, accepted last minute schedule changes, etc. I was tired and pissed off in general, but was okay with it.

Then we have a conversation where my wife asks me do take the kids somewhere, at the last minute and I said "fine!". My kids were genuinely suprised by this. After she left the house, they asked "what is going on?". She has asked you to do things quite at the last mintue since yesterday and you have been accepting this. This is the third time just today... Did you do something wrong? 

Me: Look, your mom has also been tired as I have been gone for a week. She is going through a busy time at work, has been doing all the driving by herself and also she is "aathula illai"!

"aathula illai" literally translates to "she is not in the house" and figuratively means "she is on her periods". The kids were rolling and laughing out loud. When I asked them why, they tell me that the only remaining box of pads was in our bathroom, and when they go to our bathroom to grab pads, they unwrap and put the cover and stickers in our bin.  The joke was apparently on me and I was being extra nice for no reason... I was going to ask "wait, how long has this being going on?" and was about to lecture them on the importance of using their own bin for their own trash as it is sending me wrong signals, and decided.. yeah, the joke was on me. It was okay to be nice to San even if for all the wrong reasons.

So I throttled back on the nice a little bit. I still had jet lag. An attempt to do yoga to fight jet lag ended up with me running out of the hot room to get rid of stomach acid and I really was unable to fight the afternoon nap, which ended up being more than a nap. 

I walk around after this "nap" in zombieland and overhear the wife and kids having a conversation about what to do on our 20th wedding anniversary. Instead of walking on by, made the mistake of blurting out,  "lets go somewhere local so we can have a day out and come back home by evening and celebrate dinner at home with family and friends"... the looks.. oh the looks I got in response! They were planning something else.. then the kids look at me and ask "wait ! isn't this YOUR anniversary as in both of you? so why is Amma planning something on her own. She said it is HER anniversary" . My response was "she is giving herself an award for putting up with me for 20 years! I might not even be invited to the celebration and won't be surpised if that happens!" 

This is shortly followed by me being asked to come along on a shopping trip. Went very very reluctantly because I was guilted into coming. Was answering phone calls outside a shop and was busy taking pictures of a crow inside the mall when we decided that one kid should go with each parent to shorten the shopping time.

Walked around with Jr. and found out through some Matlock / Colombo style detective work that she was going to go on a banquet with her Marching band and was planning to buy a "dress" for it. She tried some stuff and was not happy. Then I told her "it is cold out. you are doing straight to a dinner and coming back. just wear a nice shirt and a good sweater on top, which you have plenty of, no?" and she says "you are right. I will do that. it is a good idea!"  I was really surprised. Would I in this lifetime see my daughter become a value shopper like me? would she ever bargain with multiple vendors to find the base price and do a deal where they still make money and she would get a good deal? My head was racing with the possibilities!

Then we are having dinner and the little one says "I am Appa!".. I was a little confused. Is this some "We are with Paris" type thing she is starting, to make me feel better?! Turns out, she just realized that she eats just like me.. Her friends were telling her that she eats like a camel by moving her lower jaw out and she was watching me eat and realized she does the same thing. So, it wasn't some kind of solidarity movement. Just a bitter realization, but she was smiling and was giving me a "Guess there is no escaping the genes!" look. 

Later,  San shows me a few sarees online to see which ones I liked. Picked three on the a vs. b choices she gave and she said ...all those are old lady sarees. they are not "chinna ponnu" sarees... (Chinna Ponnu is little girl quite literally). On the one hand we have the bearded me trying to tell the world he is done with looks and has accepted his age while we have a chinna ponnu with two chinna ponnu's under the same roof. I did not even respond to that comment and just nodded, thinking "The generation gap between us is increasing rapidly!" 

Have realized over the last few months that it doesn't take much to make myself happy. I can be alone and reset myself. Can stare at myself in the mirror and come out with a "don't care" attitude. Feels more and more like I am forcing myself through the daily routines, as part of a responsibilty and commitment but take no joy in certain things like chauffering or even shaving anymore. San hates the chauffering equally as she does my beard. 

The life cycle was explained to us in middle school as a four stage process.. first stage, bachelor hood, 15 years of studying and being a good boy, then 15 years of married life and having kids, then 15 years of living in the forest and the last 15 of being an ascetic renouncing stuff. Now that retirement age keeps rising, even the Wikipedia entries for the four ashramas are being pushed to 24 freaking years each!!! I don't think I will live past 70 anyways, so the whole thing is messed up.

Maybe I have reached that stage in life where one is supposed to say bye to everyone and walk into the forest alongwith my wife, to live out our last years? Don't think "chinna ponnu" is likely to follow me into any forest anytime soon, or even a national park for that matter. It was my dream to rent an RV and just visit every national park in the continental US, go on long hikes and take time to photograph sunsets, with no time limit to come back to the parking lot. San used to share that dream, given we both liked long road trips before we had kids. I used to haul my camera bag and she used to carry my tripod and walk with me to watch / capture the sunset. Now I don't think all the time in the world is going to be enough for me to get to those same locations we visited before, from even the closest parking lots carrying that camera bag! 

My family tells me that my battery is low. I am not excited for anything anymore. I don't know why! Maybe I need a career change. Maybe all this travel has turned me into an emotionless lump. Maybe I am just too tired to fight the good fight on a daily basis. Maybe yoga has turned me into a very inward person who has become extremely selfish subconsciously (not my theory). Maybe I need some Glucon-D or Cinkara ?! (see, there is still a funny guy somewhere in there).

Still writing down these odd little conversations,  because this is what life is about in my eyes.. things kids say and do, how we evolve as children, as parents, how a mundane or not so mundane routine impacts us in ways that are deep, lifes little victories and defeats, perceptions right and wrong,  all over a span of few days, sometimes a few hours! 

A lot less grumpy today and the routine continues. Have to make an effort to find my interest in everyday things back to that stage where every little thing that my wife or kids did filled me with amazment and wonder. It is not their issue, it is clearly a waning of my ability to see the magic that is happening in front of my eyes. Need those special glasses back...

It will happen!


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!


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.