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Entries in birthday (22)


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!


and these are a few of my favorite things!

Birthday draws to a close. I am close to getting AARP membership. Another year whizzed past. It has been a good year or I have started seeing good in everything. Either way it is good.

Went to work bright and early. All my colleagues sang happy birthday as part of lunch and that was very touching. 

A visit to BYSJ and giving it everything - Check

A visit to Bhavikas and giving the stomach and taste buds everything - Check

A trip to the movies watching superheroes - Check

Must have good karma to be able to go do all these things that made my day with family and friends!

Thanks to everyone for the wishes!


Birthday with a bang!

Last year I happened to be in India for my birthday and spent the day with my college buddies. It was amazing. These guys made sure I had a great time.. even gave me birthday bum(p)s! 

To top things off, I had a nice glass of Mishrambu that was topped off, and it was the rangeen (colorful) type! Translation : it had bhang.. just enough to make me sing "happy birthday to me" by myself over and over again!  (Let it be known that, by buddy in the picture had the plain version)


After that, spent two days with my parents in severe weather conditions and miraculously made it out of Chennai before the heavens opened and shut down the airport! That was last year.. 

This year, the birthday was also celebrated with a literal "bang". On the whole, the day was full of ups and downs. It was one of those work days worth forgeting. Then things took a turn for the better and the evening turned out to be nicer than the morning. One mintue we were at Bhavikas having dinner, all smiles and we came home happy. Wrote a nice post about it, and while I was hitting the Publish button, there was another bang! This time it was an injury, which thankfully ended up being something recoverable. Went from happy to mad to happy to sad every 4 hours. 

We did manage to do a mini trip to LA to meet my sisters family. It was shorter trip compared to original expectations as my long weekend was reduced as I flew out sunday morning.  Spent a day at Universal studios and visited the Malibu temple on the way back home.

Was happy to see my sister and family after almost a year and a half and spend a day and a half with them!

The trip was worth it just for that one Photograph!

It was raining very heavily and we took 8 hours to make it back instead of the usual five. We were all glad to make it back in one piece after that drive. 

Was in two minds that night on going to Asia the next morning, but the family decided that I should be done with work travel for the year and they will manage with help from friends.

That morning my rudhraksha necklace broke and the beads came flying everywhere in the room. With construction going on, my odds of finding all the beadsl were slim. Also thought it was a bad omen of sorts. Given I like to challenge bad omens (pissing off my family and going against bad omens is a habit from childhood), decided that what has to happen will happen. So travel was on.

After searching for the beads everywhere, found 108 of the 109 beads. A rudhraksh is tied to your soul once you wear it for a long time and custom is that it gets burnt with you, when you are cremated.  Also wearing 108 beads instead of the 109 can make one dizzy, or so say spiritual gurus. I had no time to find the lost bead and rushed to the airport with a heavy heart.

There is something special about this necklace. It is made of seeds from the rudhraksh tree and is completely organic material in a silk thread, but it flags in the body scanner at the airport as metal, every time! The TSA agents always look surprised when I pull it out and they ask "is it on a metal thread and I go, NO! Silk thread". Somehow it must be absorbing millimeter waves or is magnetic. Either way, the fact that it absorbs radiation says there is more to it than I know. Maybe someone else who has the time can study the radiation absorbing properties of these beads!

The first thing I did after coming home from Asia, was launch a search for the missing bead, and found it! Tomorrow will be spent in remaking the necklace. 

There were many life lessons learned in the last week.

One : Should enjoy time with family, every chance I can get. All it takes is one mistep and things can go from happy to sad. 

Two: I might think of work as another home and colleagues as an extended family, but it may not be reciprocated. At the end of the day, work remains a means to an end and I should keep that perspective.

Three:  Should trust my gut feel on people and events. Even if my track record is not that great, at least I can own the fall out a 100%

Four: Should always remember Karma! It gets me, all the time!

Could write a chapter or mini book on all four of the above, but there are consequences which I am not going to be comfortable with. So will use the third and fourth lesson and leave it with this blog post!

Two birthdays.. very different experiences. A blog post that describes mood swings should end on a happy note. So here is a photo of the little one I took the day before my birthday which is as cheerful as the world gets for me!

That smile can keep me going to the moon and back.

This year(correction.. two years) I have travelled more than enough miles to go to the moon over hundreds of hours of flying and walking around airports and being driven to airports, hotels etc.    That smile can bring me back from any distance, in an instant!


Happiness is...

One of the traditions in our house is for the entire family go go have dinner in a place that is chosen by the person on their birthday.. 

People asked me "any fancy plans? going to some big name restaurant?" etc.. 

My family knew what my choice would be and promptly took me there..

The very first place I had food when I first came to visit California, a small family owned restaurant, that is still one of my favorite hangouts!

Still go there once a week almost to eat and say hi to the uncle and aunty there. 

Eating fresh rotis there with the family digging in.. and uncles heartfelt "ashirwad" made my day! He said "stay healthy" and repeated it thrice in case I didn't get the message the first time. 

Yes, that is a big part of the plan.. staying healthy!


Fourteen years fly by

Feels like yesterday this girl made me feel different about everything!

when the nurse handed her to me, my whole world changed.. everything started looking different.. like it was being seen through a pink filter! 

She continues to make me realize how wonderful this world is on a day to day basis!

That was her, all of 10 days old, giving me that same challenging look that I was already trained to receive, thanks to her mom!  I knew right then it was going to be 3:1 in the house with San, her mom and Jr. joining in "giving me that look!"... little did I know that it would become 4:1 over time...

My darling is now 14 and two weeks ago Darling 2- the sequel turned 11 ! 

The sequel has had more air time given I started blogging just before she was born. There are a few pictures that never made it before.. thanks to the Sankara Sastri in me, thinking those pictures were not blog worthy.. so here are some photos even the kids have not seen (dug them out of old Memorex CD's in some cases)


The sum total of prettiness of the family is a constant is what I used to say.. 

After revisiting that photo from two weeks ago, I stand corrected.. 

The sum total of "prettiness" of the family is increasing.. they are all looking prettier by the day!

Here is to many more years of the kids making me go "awwww"..