Israel has perfect timing when it comes to helping out in the kitchen. Usually for a lunch get together I will be up very early starting things from scratch, from making a list to striking it off one by one as each item is finished.
I wouldn't have even thought of breakfast on that day. But when the crew descends downstairs they will want a breakfast. A quick fix of toast or bagel won't do that day - they want real Saturday morning breakfast. I should tell you Israel takes care of breakfast on weekdays, so weekend breakfast is my responsibility. OK, I'll switch to making some custom pancakes and what not all the while looking at the clock to make sure I am not too far behind.
My idea would be that if I feed this clan of mine some heavy breakfast then they would give me a hand with the errands. However one by one everyone will vanish into thin air, watching TV or back to bed while the poor me continues alone.
Around noon I would be done cooking, cleaning, setting, and would quickly sweep the kitchen table and floor.Oh yes, Israel would vacuum the other rooms and I would rush for a quick shower; and just when I come downstairs it would be time for the guest to arrive or one or two would have already arrived while I am gone, greeted by "poor" Israel who will be trying to finish up the vacuuming.
Just then the oven would be done and of course Israel helps with taking the trays out of the oven as I am afraid to do so. So, he puts his vacuum away, gets the mittens and pulls the trays out, spreads some coriander leaf decor already cut and kept aside and brings it to the table, which is also already set - yes, by me - who else?!
OK, we all have a good time, dessert is served, everyone is happy, all is well and suddenly a commotion breaks out among the guests. When you pay attention the husbands are feeling uncomfortable over some comments their respective wives are making. What is that? "Look at Israel, how much he helps around the kitchen!!"
For all they saw was Israel working, greeting, cleaning, taking the trays out of the oven,decorating it with final touch thus appearing as if he was cooking too and oh yes, he makes sure the kids eat. And what they saw of me was climbing down the stairs in fresh attire. I wasn't at the door to receive them, greet them, offer them anything hot or cold, didn't vacuum, didn't take the tray out of the oven and hence didn't cook or didn't even take care of the kids...
"I'm starting to find this too. I'm not the youngest of any group any more, and sometimes I look at pictures of myself and think that I look tired and as though I've lost some bloom. It's natural... and yet it's such a shame... Shakespeare said it like this, more or less:
Duke: For women are as roses, whose fair flower Being once displayed, doth fall that very hour.
Viola: And so they are; alas, that they are so! To die, even when they to perfection grow! "
"When we were children, we used to take out the outer shell of a big ripe tamarind, make small holes on the top to put a thread and hang the shell on trees filled with a liquid mixture of tamarind water and jaggery water. After a few hours or so, may be next day, we shall drink the liquid. As children we enjoyed doing this. we used to climb on our tamarind trees and help my mother to gather the fruits from the trees.
Since we went as a group with our lunch bundles etc, they were our picnics.Drying the fruits, shelling them, then removing the seeds out and again drying and preserving etc etc are routine annual jobs for my mother. May be we helped a little. Sometimes she hired some help.Those tamarind trees are gone with the land which we had to offer to the govt for some purpose. But the memories remain.The seeds are sold since it is needed to feed the milk cows.We can see people boiling the tamarind seeds for the cows they bring up in their houses.Since tamarind is an important ingredient in preparing fish curry, puli kulambu , and tamarind rice,rasam and even saambar, it is somewhat costly..."
Have you tried tamarind seeds? It used to be one of my favorites growing up. Grandma would roast it and bring when she comes visiting us. We remove the shell by hitting it with a rock or something or sometimes Grandma would de shell it in bulk in the grinding stone. We'll soak the seeds in water and after a while it will be chewable soft. Mostly I like eating it as is, soaking it in my mouth...
Sometimes I eat it raw too, it has somewhat of a bitter taste as the skin sticks to it. Favorite of all is plucking raw tamarind from Grandma's well-side tree and quickly biting in to remove the skin and other sour parts to get to the fresh seeds... I can still visualize the tree and how myself and my cousins will claim our favorite spots on the tree to sit on it with our feet dangling below, watching Grandma washing the clothes, applying neelam blue for her whites, carefully making starch for her other voile favorites, Grandma's assistants washing fish by the other side of the well, calling us to show the eggs inside and we starting to fight already for who gets it when it is fried... oh! how I long to be back there back then...
OK, getting back to the tamarind seeds, the reason I recall it is that last night while making sambar I came across a rare tamarind seed and was staring at it long and hard, flying back in time to the memories of the carefree tree climbing days, Grandma living days and wondering how far I have traveled from there since then.
Yes, I tried it; no, it didn't taste the same - the tamarind seed. I guess it only tastes good when it comes from Grandma... I am sure there will be tamarind trees in heaven too. Won't there?
As I have often said everyone is beautiful so I would call myself also beautiful! But to think of how it is all fading away is hard to imagine. It has been a fun ride so far when all co-workers were of same age as me or older. But all of a sudden I realize the wind is changing in that I am no longer the youngest of the lot and that I move way to give the limelight to people younger, brighter and more energetic than me! I have had my playing parts so that's okay I guess...
Every now and then I see a grey in my comb and can easily brush it off as a pre-mature grey. But what happens ten years from now?! It would no longer be a pre-mature grey but on and about time grey. There won't be just one or two, there will be many, many more each day.
My perfect teeth will have to give way too I guess, okay not in ten years, but twice that say. This whole idea of aging scares me. Life had just began it seems but already I am half way through! Okay, not quite but you get my point!
I understand we can't hold back the arms of the clock as it slowly tics & tocs into the unknown. Oh, now I get it, it is the fear of the unknown that keeps me wide awake! I guess I needn’t lose any more sleep over it as the clock is on a pre-determined journey - yes, journey through time - forward!
Kings and Queens, rich and poor, young and old, in good health or not, all travel the same journey - a journey through time - forward. King Solomon jots down his thoughts as below,
"Remember your Creator
in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
and the years approach when you will say,
"I find no pleasure in them"-
before the sun and the light
and the moon and the stars grow dark,
and the clouds return after the rain;
when the keepers of the house tremble,
and the strong men stoop,
when the grinders cease because they are few,
and those looking through the windows grow dim;
when the doors to the street are closed
and the sound of grinding fades;
when men rise up at the sound of birds,
but all their songs grow faint;
when men are afraid of heights
and of dangers in the streets;
when the almond tree blossoms
and the grasshopper drags himself along
and desire no longer is stirred.
Then man goes to his eternal home
and mourners go about the streets.
Remember him—before the silver cord is severed,
or the golden bowl is broken;
before the pitcher is shattered at the spring,
or the wheel broken at the well,
and the dust returns to the ground it came from,
and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
"Meaningless! Meaningless!" says the Teacher.
"Everything is meaningless!"
Here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man."
It is scary, yes! But to think of all those who are traveling with me and those who have travelled ahead of me and of course those who have finished their journeys, I guess only better times are ahead. And this fear is unnecessary. What say folks?!
Ok now coming to the subject, if you ever need to travel from the East Coast (USA) to Trivandrum (India) and ask me which airlines is the best option, I would suggest Qatar airlines.
From JFK International Airport non-stop (12 hrs) to Doha, Qatar with a connecting flight to Trivandrum (5 hrs). The transit time at Doha is less than 2 hours, just enough time to switch aircrafts. In less than 20 hours of flying time you will be landing in the beautiful seashores of Trivandrum. Can it get any better than that? I didn't think so either.
The food is good and you get a cute little travelers pouch with travel necessities - I don't think many other airlines offer it any more.
I must tell you all about my middle child. Sharon is nine years old and doesn't fully fit in Rachel's circle nor Joshua's circle. However, if Rachel gets something she has to get it and if Joshua gets something then too she fights to get it. She makes my role as a Mom lot more fun.
Occasionally I go to pick them up from school and her whereabouts are unpredictable. She will be hanging upside down in the monkey bars, or running so fast from their vending machine to play ground or digging the earth with a stick to get some live earth worm to play with. She will sometimes see me pulling into the parking lot but will ignore it to continue with her digging or hanging or climbing. It is mostly interesting, only when we are running late for something, it won't be.
She is the one to run out to receive the guests, entertain their kids, attend phone calls, help me around in the kitchen or fold the mountains of clothes for a dollar! Also, she is a mediator. She is bold and works out a deal with us on many occasions. She talks to us to let go of Rachel from her piano practice or to let Joshua play in his Nintendo a little while longer.
She plays drums and gives such a hard time to practice. She will call third always, meaning only after Rachel and Joshua are done with their piano practice she will go. By then we will forget about her practice. When we remember she will make a scene saying there is no one downstairs. When you go with her, she will show you everything about drums she knows like, "Mommy you know this is the snare drum, and do you know this is the thrown", or quickly she will turn some pages and talk about some random notes showing you some skills and then before you know it she will call it quits - saying that's all for the day. You will be too tiered to argue with her by then.
She is very good in her studies, and a born leader, has good teaching skills too. Loves checking out my closet going through my collections, claiming it as hers and moving it to her room - unannounced! She collects rocks, makes book marks, and anything else Rachel starts. She'll ask, "When this saree becomes small can I keep it?" If I get a journal she will beg and plead and take it for her, it is quite interesting.
No, she doesn't annoy me, only when she doesn't do any of this I will start to worry.
P.S: Posted with her permission. She was quite happy reading about herself.
Just thought I will do things a little differently today. Instead of a regular "it's all about me" post, I wanted to make it an "all about you" post.
I wish to give credit to my friends and fellow bloggers who encourage me with their comments, phone calls, emails and visits.
Let's start with @A Simple Blogger - lovingly called as @A in the blogosphere... He was the first blogger I met - whose blog I commented on - who in turn commented on my post and it went on from there. I can always trust him for honest feedback and have become great friends and exchange friendly emails on things happening, ideas for improvements, comment on the comments etc.
@SG surprises me with his posts each time as it is hard to predict what is next. He too gladly shares his feedback on posts and we have become good friends. I am glad he speaks the same language as me - Tamil - which allows me to comment in "Tanglish" from time to time...
@Bikramjit - When I first met him (of course in the blogosphere) he was already pretty well established. He had won tons of awards, received tons of comments etc. and I wasn't even sure if he will care to visit me back. I left him a comment and within days he caught up. I was very surprised receiving a comment from him. I love his posts though at times I don't feel the same zeal on political issues. He is a great person to know who loves his friends, which includes his blog friends. His posts repeatedly talk about friends and what they mean to him. Only one thing that used to bother me was, his Punjabi posts - but now he painstakingly writes the translation for us folks who are nil in Punjabi and I truly appreciate his time and efforts.
@Black Walnut Pearl - Trust me she is the one who got me started on blogging. Not only that, she is the first to create my first ever email address too. Over the years I have come to truly appreciate her friendship. Hers is one place where we (the whole parivar) can descend unannounced and know for sure she loves it! Though she doesn't comment often I know for sure she will tell me if something annoys her. All my stories on friends - like dancing in the rain, cloud watching, star gazing, it all includes her.
@Stranger - I respect his/her anonymity, so better not write much. I must add I truly enjoy the posts by her/him.
@Emily, Ruby slipper traveller - You all must visit her. She is such fun and tracing her path is unpredictable. She will be in Mexico one month, in London the next and elsewhere the third... She likes to call herself a 'nomad' but I am sure she makes it a home wherever she is. She shares a lot of pictures about her surroundings which takes you there. I truly love her fashion sense and the frankness by which she writes. Any given day I know for sure she will enlighten me with a cool post.
@... Petty Witter - It took me a while to get her name right, it's Witter and not Writer. Petty shares reviews of books she reads, some make you want to get that book right away, some make you think, 'good I read her review first, I am not going to touch that book'. I love her weekend posts which gives a summary round up of all local news that we would never come across unless you live in her UK surroundings. She is fun and honest and loves encouraging fellow bloggers with her comments and visits. Listen folks, if I ever write a book, I will get it reviewed by Petty first :)
@Dr. Antony - I call him @Doc and glad to have come across him in the blogosphere. He shares a lot from his personal experience which gives a 3D touch to his posts. He writes on random matters and brings our attention to some serious issues going on around us. My only complaint is, he doesn't blog as often as we would like to read; but then who else is?!
@Sanand surprises me every now and then with his comments. He loves his son and most posts are around their time together. I must add him to my blogger list so that I don't miss out on his rare posts.
@Haddock - His story about a bird nest in his backyard drew my attention to his blog. I truly enjoyed the picture updates he shared of this bird family - from birth to the moment the last one flew away. Can't wait to see what he is coming up with next - in a series like that.
@Raji - She has a dedicated post for pictures, and one for her thoughts. I think her first post I visited was a picture of a cat by the window sill with a caption, "Living on the edge" It made me laugh out loud. I appreciate her stopping by and leaving a trace with her comments from time to time.
@Bhawna - I appreciate the comments she leaves behind every now and then. I am looking forward to get to know her more via her blog posts.
@Y L - My Mom who is full of love - not only on us her children, but she loves all. She is full of life and laughter; loves her friends, my friends, all relatives, neighbors... Amma has recently started blogging, but I guess only one post she did. Hopefully she will share more in the coming days...
My cousin Jacinth is my all time favorite when it comes to discussing my posts. She encourages me for each post and I truly appreciate her taking the time to read and then calling me up to discuss it. She loves much and is much loved.
Reena, Rehana, Princess, Sunita, Lovet, Harikrishna my MCA classmate and friend, Yesudas, Mary Sunish, all take their time to get to know me more by reading what I have to say. I am so grateful for them all.
I know there are many more readers who I might not know in person or in the blogosphere but I truly would love to know them more. If you are one of them please leave a link to your blogs in the comments section; I will surely visit.
Thank you one and all for making my life little bit more interesting by your connections. God bless you all!
Recently Rachel has started using the phrase "I love you too" often, and not always as a response to "I love you"; that is what is making it more interesting.
When I remind her (not always in a gentle tone) to put away her back pack in the closet or the clothes in the laundry, or when Sharon says something nasty, or Joshua calls her names, or Daddy calls her for breakfast, Rachel's response would be, "I love you too" as though we just told her we loved her. It never fails to lighten the moment & lessen the tension, bringing instant smiles to parties involved.
One of my friends shared, while driving if someone does a nasty gesture she sends a flying kiss his/her way. I am sure it makes the person cringe & learn to behave the rest of the day.
One of my co-workers, a good friend in an earlier job swore a lot. He used foul language so much to a point that it made me wonder how to handle it, without offending him. Nobody else seemed to care. An idea struck me, I took a white paper, stuck it to the wall and said for each swearing word he uses, I will mark a dot on it and when there are 25 dots he needs to take us out for lunch (a team of 4 including him). Trust me, he didn't go past 3 dots and turned around almost instantly, I hope for good.
What these have taught me is that love conquers all! So, love you too!!
OK, here's something to assess our own personality. I took the test and the results were quiet appealing and thought you might like it too. Let's begin!
Instructions: Grab a pen and paper and note down the answers for the following questions along with the weights next to it. We'll need this to assess the results at the end.
1. When do you feel your best?
a. In the morning (2)
b. During the afternoon and early evening (4)
c. Late at night (6)
2. You usually walk...
a. Fairly fast, with long steps (6)
b. Fairly fast, with small steps (4)
c. Less fast, head up, looking the world in the face (7)
d. Less fast, head down (2)
e. Very slowly (1)
3. When talking to people, you...
a. Stand with your arms folded (4)
b. Have your hands clasped (2)
c. Have one or both of your hands on your hips (5)
d. Touch or push the person to whom you are talking (7)
e. Play with your ear or hair, touch your chin, or smooth your hair (6)
4. When relaxing, you sit with...
a. Your knees bent, with your legs neatly side by side (4)
b. Your legs crossed (6)
c. Your legs stretched out or straight (2)
d. One leg curled under you (1)
5. When something really amuses you, you react with...
a. A big, appreciative laugh (6)
b. A laugh, but not a loud one (4)
c. A quiet chuckle (3)
d. A sheepish smile (5)
6. When you go to a party or social gathering, you...
a. Make a loud entrance, so that everyone notices you (6)
b. Make a quiet entrance, looking around for someone you know (4)
c. Make the quietest entrance, trying to stay unnoticed (2)
7. You're working very hard, concentrating hard, and you're interrupted. You...
a. Welcome the break (6)
b. Feel extremely irritated (2)
c. Vary between these two extremes (4)
8. Which of the following colors do you like the most?
a. Red/orange (6)
b. Black (7)
c. Yellow/light blue (5)
d. Green (4)
e. Dark blue/purple (3)
f. White (2)
h. Brown/gray (1)
9. When you are in bed at night, in those last few moments before going to sleep, you are...
a. Stretched out on your back (7)
b. Stretched out face down on your stomach (6)
c. On your side, slightly curled (4)
d. With your head on one arm (2)
e. With your head under the covers (1)
10. You often dream that you are...
a. Falling (4)
b. Fighting or struggling (2)
c. Searching for something or somebody (3)
d. Flying or floating (5)
e. You usually have dreamless sleep (6)
f. Your dreams are always pleasant (1)
Tallying: Now add up all the weights and read through the analysis below depending on where you fall:
Over 60 Points: Others see you as some one they should "handle with care". You're seen as vain, self-centered and one as extremely domineering. Others could admire you, wishing they could be more like you, but they don't always trust you, hesitating to become too deeply involved with you.
51 to 60 Points: Others see you as exciting, highly volatile, rather impulsive personality; a natural leader, one who is quick to make decisions, though not always the right ones. They see you as bold as adventuresome, someone who will try anything once; someone who takes chances and enjoys an adventure. They enjoy being in your company because of the excitement you radiate.
41 to 50 Points: Others see you as a fresh, lively, charming, amusing, practical and always interesting; someone who is always in the center of attraction, but sufficiently well balanced not to let it go to their head. They also see you as kind, considerate and understanding; someone who'll always cheer them up and help them out.
31 to 40 Points: Others see you as sensible, cautious, careful and practical. They see you as clever, gifted or talented but modest. Not a person who makes friends too quickly or easily, but someone who is extremely loyal to friends you do make and who expects the same loyalty in return. Those who really get to know you realize it that it takes a lot to shake your trust in your friends, but equally that it takes you longer to get over it if ever that trust is broken.
21 to 30 Points: Your friends see you as painstaking and fussy. They see you as very cautious, extremely careful, a slow and steady plodder. It would really surprise them if you ever did something impulsively or on the spur of the moment, expecting you to examine everything carefully, from every angle and usually decide against it. They think this reaction is caused partly by your careful nature.
Under 21 Points: People think you are shy, nervous and indecisive, someone who needs looking after, who always wants someone else to make the decisions and who doesn't want to get involved with anyone or anything! They see you as a worrier who always sees problems that don't exist. Some people think you are boring. Only those who know you well know that you aren't.
Thank you! So, what do you think, was your assessment right? Care to share?!
This is what my Mom wrote to console and comfort my children on the loss of their other Grandma. Thought of publishing it here as these are words of wisdom we all can benefit from...
My dear Rachel, Sharon and Joshua, I know that you are all sad because of losing your other grandma. Death is very natural and no one can escape death. We will have no regrets if we love them in their life time and show them our love by our words and deeds. You are wonderful grand children and you loved her and showed your love to her.
God gave you a wonderful opportunity to visit her during last summer. You should be thankful for that. You stayed with her for a few days and you also visited her in the hospital. I remember how Rachel felt sad over her illness and her condition in the hospital. As small children you could not have done more than that. During her life time she was a prayer warrior and I am sure you were all in her prayers and those prayers are a source of blessing for each one of you.
She was admitted in a very good hospital during her last days and was given very good care. She had problems in her heart, lungs and kidneys and the doctors could not do anything to make her get well. her death was a relief for her from her pains.
Dear darling children, please love your dear ones when they are living and show your love by your words and deeds so that you will have no regrets when they die. Our Lord Jesus has said 'give and it shall be given to you'. You give your love to your family and you will get plenty of love from your family.
I remember reading an incident where the children were so very sad and they were crying and mourning and weeping very much over the death of their mother. People were saying, 'look, how much these children had loved their mother!'. Then some one said their loss is very great since they made their mother unhappy by their words and deeds when she was living and because of that they could not be consoled. I hope you understand this story.
Your Dad, uncles and aunts are very sad to loose their mother; but they have the consolation that they loved their mother when she was alive and showed their love to her. Do not be sad my dear children; we have the blessed hope of meeting her in heaven because Jesus gave His life for us on the cross and He rose from the dead.
I know that it is too long a mail to write to small children. but since I have written it , I am sending it. May God bless you.
Many years into our marriage, our conversation around parents always went like this, "Your Mom said this and that" or "Your Dad did this not that" It was not very helpful in building relationships. Though I am good with people I couldn't take some of the conversations very well which only made matters worse. But few years ago, I consciously made an effort to build the bridge. Baggage claim and Garbage collections are results of that realization.
I credit my own sisters-in-law (girls who have married my brothers) for my change of heart. Both Vijaya and Viniba are such darlings. They are very cheerful, fun-loving with all of us and love our parents. They stay with us when we visit, cook for us, feed us, take us places, buy us things, talk to us, write to us, love our children, you name it.
I started with letters first.It sure helped. Though there would be no response I would write - not very frequently but every now and then with all the news of kids, school stuff, friends, their new babies etc. To tell you the truth in the last few years I have come from being neutral to slowly like and lately love my in-laws.
I would be the first to wish on festival times, instead of saying, "Yeah, it is Christmas for them too, let them call", Would call randomly to talk regular stuff. Above all I learnt to 'be still' meaning not rushing in to say something. It was not easy being still at first; it seemed like I'd lost or I was without words or that I was failing an argument by keeping quiet. What I didn't realize was that I was actually winning hearts. It all worked for the best and softened all hearts - including mine.
I had wonderful moment visiting them all this summer and I felt for the first time I'd missed out on a whole lot of fun over the years. I had made up my mind to make a difference by being who I really am, instead of sitting in a corner aloof and indifferent, licking my past wounds. I honestly wanted to bring fun and cheer back in the family just like my childhood family instead of complaining, "It's such a bore at your place, no one even smiles".
Right now as we "speak" my mother-in-law is in her death bed and I am truly hurt. I am at loss for words or actions. Nothing I can do now to bring her back to life hale and healthy as she used to be. Anything that once offended me all seem like it was not an issue anymore. I am truly sorry for all the missed opportunities to have spent quality time with her. She loved my letters it seems. May be I should have written more often, may be I should have visited often, stayed with her couple of more days... I am sorry I never told her I love her, did I at least show her I love her? Not too sure.
Too many things going on in my mind right now, mostly regrets. But then you know what? Years ago I wrote to her a big sorry letter and that is my only consolation. I hope and pray that her last moment be quick, that she doesn't suffer longer than she has.
I am truly blessed to have her as my Mother-in-love! She has given me the most wonderful gift - her own son! Nothing really matters in life folks, only life matters. Everything else we care for stays behind, only the life returns to eternity.
As Papa dropped us in Israel's house the night of our wedding, he handed me the car keys and made a single request to Israel. To buy me Pears soap always! Not sure what response Israel gave but I always remember Papa's request and realize how much he cared for even my simplest need - pears soap.
Growing up Pears was my favorite and still is. When we ran out of pears once Papa insisted we all use Lifebouy and I was in tears. Papa then gave me a lecture on why Lifebouy was better than Pears.
To think of how Papa remembered that incident and insisted Israel to always buy me Pears made me feel very special and much loved. My eyes welled up then and even now (no, I didn't say right now... )
I am happy folks, for my Papa, for Israel and of course for all those Pears Israel buys me. I often wonder, "...would it have been my dreaded Lifebuoy if Papa hadn't made that request..." and very grateful Papa did.
OK, I am the kind who argues if you really love someone you will at least wish him/her on his/her birthday. But then lately I am the one who forgets.
Out of a blue I will call Sunita who is in Los Angeles wishing her Happy Birthday only to be told it was last month. Or I will call to wish Sarah in Chennai and she will say it is next month. My quick response would be: "You changed it this year?!" The worst is I would have called Sunita in the wee hours of her morning and Sarah in the middle of her night not realizing these poor people are actually in different time zones!! (If they are still friends with me, that is truly by grace)
I know it sounds funny but to me it is not at all funny. I really truly sincerely feel bad about missing birthdays.
Now for sure I know it was Rammiya's and Sangeeta's birthday on Sep 5th and Sunita's and Lovet's I guess are both Sep 16th. I really want to wish them. But I don't want to call today and be told it was last month or next month - or worst yet - not really the 5th or the 16th but a totally new number that I don't recall...
Oh! that reminds me today is Rachel's birthday. Good thing I remembered in the last minute to pack some hurried gifts. She is happy! So am I! Phew...