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Entries in photoblog (608)

Monday
Sep022019

A day sheet calendar and a long time tradition

It was 1989.. and my parents were helping me pack to go to Varanasi to study. In the last minute my dad decided to get me this day sheet calendar that showed the Tamil month and date information.. It was a beautiful calendar with a golden Ganesha stuck on the top of cardboard. 

We had just left Chennai the day of Vinayaka Chaturthi to go to Varanasi. It has been 30 years and almost the same date. 

That year went by and the day sheets were all used, but that golden Ganesha was separated from the calendar and kept in the room. As a teenager, I did not have to do a pooja for Ganesha by myself given by father was performing it in Chennai. I used to go to the local temples in Varanasi to celebrate. That did not mean I would not do a Ganapathi pooja by myself. Would do that every now and then, thanks to the training I got from my high school. We had a Vidhya Ganapathi at the school entrance and I got to do the daily pooja for him including abhishegams. If you want to learn deference and get a grip on faith, doing an abhishegham to an idol that the entire school will come to worship in a few hours is one way to start!

Then I ended up in the US. Again, I would call my parents and enquire how the pooja went and dream of kozhukattais and if lucky some married senior grad student or local professor would indulge us with some kozhukattais (modhaks, dumplings). 

Once I got married, things changed. It was time to perform the pooja as head of my own household. San tried her hand at making kozhukattais and her first experience had her almost in tears. Then she slowly improved and once her mom started coming to visit when the kids were born, things took an interesting turn. She turned pro..

Also over the last 10 years, my MIL has been here for many Ganesh chaturthis and made the usual kozhukkattais as well as my favorite "ammani" kozhukkattis.. which I would come home and roast with some grated coconut and eat. Some years were good and some were bad.. that we almost had no celebration

This year we are fortunate to have Ganesh Chathurthi as a national holiday in the US for Labor day. Got to do yoga early in the morning, come home and do the pooja.. to the same day sheet calendar Ganapathy! If it has been your "go to Ganesha" for 30 years, it is now the gold standard!

The photograph makes it look big.. it is only 5 inches tall.. but to me it means something. Was thinking about my dad this morning. As a teen, the one thing I wanted to be after growing up was "not him". He has a lot of good things about him as well as some lousy stuff. The lousy stuff is now long gone.. Once he crossed 55, he was a different person.. maybe because he realized the kids were grown up or he wisened up or realized that no matter what he did, society is going to do what it does. 

For all his faults, I do have him to thank for many things in my life that provide me an anchor of sorts.. be it in a good way or a what not to do in my life way. Was thinking of him in a good way today. 

Was also missing my MIL today. San was at it the entire morning and was complaining of her hands hurting while making the kozhukkattais. Having cut my finger deeply while helping with Veggie cutting, my utility in the kitchen reduced.. San is an Obi-Wan at this.. but MIL is Yoda. Getting visuals of my MIL in a yoda costume saying "kalari it, you must", "hurt, it will".. 

Now it is time to round up the tummy with some good eats... 

This year, we also managed to pack and carry a nice small decorative table during the recent India trip. We got a large Ganesha as part of Jr.'s arangetram decor and were looking for  a nice place to put the idol. This table makes a perfect stand for the Ganesha. Everyone in the house is now placing flowers on it when they get a chance. 

Ganesha is my favorite of all the Indian gods, so it is no surprise that we celebrate this festival the way we do! 

There was a time when the kids used to get involved.

These days, given high school and growing up in a different place different time, they look forward to the kozhukkattai and they come when the pooja is almost done. 

Sooner or later they will realize that unless they learn to make the Kozhukattai's themselves, they will be missing out!

Time to start a Kozhukkattai making class next Ganesh Chaturthi... 

Happy Ganesha or Pillaiyar Chathurthi to everyone who is celebrating!

Saturday
Aug312019

Yoga challenges

The summer 60 day challenge is wrapping up at Bikram Yoga San Jose. This time I did not sign up to do the challenge. There was travel involved and the family clearly declared that there will be no room for doubles to compensate. I was still hoping that maybe some things will rearrange themselves with some divine providence and maybe a chance will open up to finish.

No such luck. It should have been 48/60. Did not even make that. 42/60 was the final class count. That was thanks to the eye infection that was picked up on the last trip. Have recovered the eyes nicely, but going to travel again. Just have to be conscious and not touch my eyes after touching any of the trays or windows on dirty planes. 

The only good thing was that my MIL was here the last two months and she came to yoga with me. It is always great to have a yoga buddy!

Thanks to my co-sister, MIL and me got a new T-shirt. She saw this in India and it was nice of her to send us these shirts. Love the shirt!

Challenge or not, my goal for the year is >200 classes.. Have 165 for the year and given my future travel schedule, will need to go every day when in town..

It is still a great feeling to cheer my yoga buddies and see them finish. Encouraging people to take this on and see them succeed is giving me as much happiness as finishing it myself. That also is progress in a way!

 

Sunday
Aug252019

Screen time

It has been sometime since I came back to blog about anything. Life has been interesting as usual. A recent business trip that ended up with delayed flights, a missed connection, multiple subseqent delayed flights all in an effort to just  return home made me weak and tired. Also ended up with a virus which left me with a lasting eye infection for a good 10 days post all other symptoms. 

Doctors advice was to minimize staring at the screen.. so work had to be done in intense installments between eye drop sessions, driving was difficult, Yoga attendance became sporadic, social media took a break as did this blog.

The last three days have been better. I am back online with some self restraint. 

While all this was going on, the kids started school last week. The little girl who made us toil every morning just to go to kindergarten, is now a senior at high school..

The little one is also now a high schooler and that puts things in a different perspective! 

Had taken these pictures last week but never got a chance to download and edit them.. 

We are getting into the routine for this year. There is a lot less driving given Jr. drives herself. 

One theme that keeps coming back in the house is "daddy is getting old"..

We are all getting old. Also this "if you do all this yoga, how come you are sick?" discussion. Traveling in dirty airplanes can be a risky thing for anyone. 

Then there is the "if you do all this yoga, why do you get angry?". No one said you will be emotionless if you do Yoga. You get to control the anger faster, at least that is what I am striving for. 

The kids are still on daddy's side on all these arguments. Will have a tough time when they are not around as there will be no one to take my side.

Mentally preparing for it starting this year. 

Sunday
Jul072019

Photoshop magic..

During the function for my dad on mom  last week, I had to be performing a lot of things.. which meant my stint with the camera was done.. 

I usually don't trust others with pictures for events.. and definitely don't trust others with my camera.. however on recent trips, have been handing my camera to my baby cousin (who is not a baby anymore) and teaching her how to hold steady, focus and shoot with the 5D mark ii and she has a really good eye for composition.. told her to keep clicking and leave the rest to me to photoshop..

She did me proud.. We did hire professionals for the event but they are working on the photos. We should have great pictures in a week or two.

Saw this one pic where San has her cute dimply smile and I really wanted to make a portrait out of it.. (Credit to my cousin for cracking the right joke at the right time!).. 

The background.. I needed some recently shot greenery.. and the photo from Amethyst gave me an idea..

So here is 2+2=6..

The original..

the background from a group photo..

and the end result..

Have been lost in photoshop for a long time.. work calls tomorrow. My cold is almost bearable.. have been doing yoga everyday during the break and resting and working on photoshop as a good distraction.

Also my wife is back from India and that alone is a big relief.. my girls know how to press my buttons and get anything they want and sometimes I don't know if I am authorized to authorize things.. good that the big boss is back in the approval loop.

Ta ta for now..

Sunday
Jul072019

After a 10 year wait...

There used to be a large apple tree in our backyard when we moved into this house 13+ years ago. It was one of the big draws for us to get the house.. then we went through construction and the construction workers cleaned up their paint brushes under the tree, peed near it and before we know it, we lost the tree to some disease..

It took me some time to get over having to cut it to the roots so the disease wouldn't spread to other trees. Shortly after that I planted another apple tree. It never grew tall and its top branches were always breaking with the weight of squirrels and there were 5 mini stunted apples a few years ago.. we were also going through a drought.

We are having more flowers this year..

and we have apples on the tree. After almost 10 years, we are seeing apples in bunches!

This made my day..

Was searching old blog posts to find a picture of the apple tree.. we used to have a beautiful backyard.. not that the current setup is not pretty, but things change over time and it is a part of life. That old tree must have been 30+ years old at least to have that girth and height. 

At least we have planted new trees and hope they will be around for some time..