May 28, 2011

Should I or Should I not?

Should I or shouldn't I? Now, that's the question. Let me explain. As the warm weather is slowly creeping on us, I also notice few other things creeping around us, the ants, the bees and the such.

The immediate reaction on sighting one of these little critters is to smash them. It used to be never a problem for me doing that. But these days I am not able to get myself to harm them in any way, let alone kill them.

Taking a closer look at them, how actively they are running around for food and wondering about the family they will be leaving behind if I were to kill them and how it is the only life they have got and how sad if they were to die that very minute, what thoughts are going through their mind and all these "voices" come flooding through my mind stopping me on my tracks and I refrain from hurting them. The worst I might do is blow them away and that too only if I have to.

Instead I wish to help them if at all I can by leaving a puddle of water with my finger where I spot them in case they are thirsty searching for food. It is funny how when I saw a loner ant looking for something to eat on my clean kitchen table the other day, I felt so pity that I put a pinch of sugar next to it as a surprise treat! Didn't stick around longer to see what he thought of it though. Because if he didn't care for the heap of sugar on the table I will be so disappointed you see. So, I just walk away imagining he was delighted to find the treat and telling himself how come he missed it in the first place...

As a child I once helped some ants move a "big" load of food they were trying so hard to move, only to frighten them in all directions... so now I know better not to touch their load or interfere in their business other than providing them surprises here and there.

The other day as I was dropping off the kids there was this huge bear on the side of the road (trust me we live in bear country in this part of New Jersey) I wished I could go and give it a hug. What's wrong with me? Nothing! It is just that the bear looked kind of lost that I felt like finding out where he lived and if I could give him a ride or something in those lines...

It is not uncommon to hear me talk to the fish in our aquarium. I call one of them Methuselah - the tank cleaner. Methuselah doesn't move around much like the other kind. So everyday I want to see Methuselah moving at least once to make sure he is okay. I was getting late to work one day last week and I just couldn't step out without seeing Methuselah move. As the clock is sticking by I am standing next to the fish tank and calling out, "Methuselah, Methuselah, are you okay? Methuselah! say something..." As if he understood me, he sprinted so fast to the other side of the tank making my day!

Okay, my concern on Methuselah we can understand - right? After all he is a pet and so part of the family now! The bear? Hmmmm... if you think about it, it is not a very common sight even in this part of New Jersey and the only bears we are exposed to since child hood is teddy bear and I guess we can understand my momentary instinct to give him a hug.

But the ants? Now that bothers me! Initially I would spot one carpenter ant in some wall; but now it is like at least half a dozen on any given day. They are just thriving and happily living 'ever after'. I have started to reason that they could multiply so fast so soon that they will have to leave a pinch of sugar for me finishing up everything else.

But still I am unable to get myself to kill them. Israel is handy but he won't take my reasoning around smashing some ants. To him this will seem silly and may suggest I am complicating a simple problem. And that's why I thought of checking with you folks. Now tell me, Should I or Shouldn't I?

May 24, 2011

Please Be My Host

Years ago my friend Sunitha had requested a favor from me. She wanted me to entertain a guest her son would send me by mail. A guest? By mail? Exactly!

Shawn, a Kindergartner at that time was involved in a project learning about places, people, culture etc with the help of Flat Stanley - a paper cut out "guy". The idea was that he would mail me Flat Stanley in an envelope and I should treat him like a guest and show him around places and return to the sender with a little note explaining what we both did together!

It was a memorable two weeks we spent with Flat Stanley who had arrived from LA. We mostly showed him around our neighborhood and he was a great "help" setting up our outdoor play set. He was mailed back to LA in the same envelope he had arrived in.

Out of the blue, I remembered Flat Stanley and thought of checking with you guys if you are up to some fun. Let me explain the plan so that you can decide if you want to be part of it or not. It could be a fun way to get your kids involved too!

1. There are two templates of Flat Stanley posted below, one in all color and the other is blank which you could customize as you wish.
2. Click on the image you like so that it opens by itself on a separate page.
3. Print out the copy in a 8 X 10 paper
4. Stick it to a thicker card board or chart board or similar for ease of use.
5. Color it, sign it, customize it the way you like it
6. Cut out the outlines to remove white spaces around.
7. Now this is your Flat Stanley!
8. Next, you can take him to places, pose with him and have as much fun as possible and don't forget to click some pictures.
9. Email me back the pictures with a little note; at
10. I will then post your Flat Stanley with your note and a link to your blog!
11. Readers can vote on the best dressed Flat Stanley
12. The winner will receive a Flat Stanley specially made and signed by NRIGirl with a lovely handwritten note! (I know it is not very motivating; but for the little kids and for the kid in you, it is sure worth the try!)

I almost forgot, the last day to participate is 25-JUN-2011 25-JUL-2011!

May 23, 2011

Let's play I Spy!

May 20, 2011

What is Rapture?

The Bible teaches us about an event that is soon to happen, imminent if you will, when Christ returns to take His bride (the Church or in other words the believers) with Him. This is called 'rapture' which also means 'caught up'.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 a detailed description of what to expect during rapture. "...the dead in Christ will rise, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord." Few related verses posted below:

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 1 Thessalonians 4:16

And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. Matthew 24:31

This is the blessed hope most christians are looking forward to. A group of believers claim it is only minutes away (as they claim it is May 21st 2011), however the Bible clearly tells us no one knows the exact date or time of when rapture will happen and hence the term 'imminent' meaning 'anytime'. Many world events we see and hear around us lead us to the day which is near.

Can it be today as some claim? May be, may be not. But I do believe He is returning very soon... and my desire is to be caught up together in the clouds to meet my Lord, my King!

May 19, 2011

Who was calling?

The phone was ringing

Cooker was whistling
As the cuckoo clock was cooing
Oil in the pan was ready for some frying

Little son was crying
For his throat was sure hurting
Mom to kiss off tears that soon stopped rolling

Laundry load was calling
To shift the clothes for drying
Microwave announcing that coffee was done warming

Mom was not accepting
Little girl strongly claiming
That she sure is an expert when it came to do swimming

"Can you handle swimming
In a wild river flowing?
Only then you are expert", said Mom while explaining

Eyes welled up to rimming
As she went off  for some thinking
"Average swimmer Mommy!" said she finally smiling

With both now agreeing
Mom gladly did the signing
Permission slip for camping that was soon coming.

Another kept on calling
For some help with problem solving
Where the spinner landed when it was done with some spinning?

Halfway through the reading
About probability solving
"Did we ever learn this?" wondered Math brain hard at working

Dad was busy cleaning
Plants that needed trimming
His attention was elsewhere on the Cricket that was playing

Mom was done with serving
And the kids were done with eating
Dad took them upstairs for their much needed resting

All the while...
The phone kept ringing
Was it you calling?

May 17, 2011

Sharon turns Ten!

"Do you have a name for the baby?", asked the doctors at the OR. "Aaron for boy and Sharon for girl!" was my response. They were amused and minutes later announced, "It is Sharon!"

Hard to believe it has been ten years since that day. Feels like a dream holding my tiny newborn in my hands and worrying at her feeble cry. While the baby next door was loud and clear, baby Sharon's cry was hard to hear. It sure made me worry. Turns out Sharon was perfectly normal and was just waiting to grow up just a little to start her tantrums! :))

Sharon was the sweetest baby ever with lots of drooling and heavy kicking of her tiny feet all the time. Our main concern was keeping Akka (Rachel) away from the new born as Akka didn't hesitate to poke the eyes and say, "baby!" "eyes!" etc. Rachel was hardly 17 months old at that time and was just beginning to learn words and might have thought Sharon was a new toy of some kind.

It was fun watching the babies grow up together. They were mostly dressed alike and soon Sharon caught up to Rachel in size. Many asked if they were twins and my response was, "Almost!". As much as we worried protecting baby from Akka soon we had to protect Akka from baby. As the baby grew up she claimed everything that belonged to Akka as her own and demanded everything Akka would be playing with. Her attention was constantly on Rachel and even before Rachel finished her sentences Sharon would say, "I want that too". She would have no clue what it was. If you ask her specifically what she was asking for, she would answer boldly, "Whatever she said she wants". She was fearless, adamant & a handful at times but at the same time very sweet and irresistible.

Eventually we had to train Rachel to fight for her rights, to put her foot down and to demand like Sharon did as we noticed Sharon was kind of dominating the scene while Rachel got muted in the background. But when Rachel finally started in the same route, we regretted it immediately as it was constant rivalry between the  two. It took a while for them to keep their hands and feet to themselves and to respect individual space.

They have come a long way since then and we all have grown up together. Joshua was an answer to the little girls' prayer for a baby boy. However he was raised by Mom in India so we missed most of his baby days. With our constantly changing consulting jobs and business ideas life got quite busy, couldn't afford vacations or sick days and the like, not much time to stand and stare, pause to smell the roses or linger long to kiss the babies.

In our hurried life we haven't been at our best with our children all the time. True we are becoming better parents each day but we have our regrets that we should have spent quality time with our babies then enjoying them more when they were little. It was wrong on our part to rush them through their baby days, rushing to bed, rushing to wake, rushing thru' bath, rushing thru' meals, rushing thru' fever, cough & cold, rushing out of bottles, rushing into solids, rushing in to potty training and it seemed like we were on the world's fastest express train that never stopped!!

But the babies did fine. They thrived with the little attention they got and blessed us much with love beyond measures. They are the best kids in the whole wide world I would say. I can relax and enjoy them more now that the diaper days are long gone and our career has stabilized by God’s grace. It is such a joy seeing them tease and laugh and have a merry time among themselves. They love each other's company over anybody else and there is never a dull moment at home.

So, coming back to Sharon, she has been my darling little girl in whom I see a lot of "Me". Each and every aspect of her reminds me of "Me". I get to live the "Me" all over again thru' her. Sometimes when I can predict her, she asks, "How did you know that?" I simply say, "Mommies know all!"

Today as our little Sharon turns ten I wish her a Very Happy Birthday and Many Happy Returns! May God bless her very very much!

Sharon blogs too and loves to receive comments. Please check her out at: Sharon Shares! if you have a minute to spare. Thank you!

May 13, 2011

Back to the Basics

Lately we are kind of going back to the basics and liking it there. We now use real hand towels instead of paper napkins, well most of the time. Initially kids objected to it. But now that they are experiencing the warmth a clean towel could give, they have become fond of it too. True, it adds to the laundry load, but as it is we do loads of laundry and a few extra hand towels is not going to hurt.

I have also started to give hand towels as gifts. Everyone appreciates these little comforts as it makes them nostalgic about the simple pleasures of back to the basics.

Also, we tried the coca cola in single serve bottles and loved it much better than the regular can variety. I do remember how bottles used to be the then normal and we took to the fancy when the cans came. There is immense joy in reliving a moment from the past as we switch back to bottles. Children love to use them as glasses for milk, juice, water etc.

Hand written notes are becoming more frequent than my emails and books are enjoyed more than video games. Simple home cooked meals are preferred over restaurant kind and Sunday naps have become a regular. Cold showers are a new fancy and and the hair is let loose for air drying.

This summer at least once I wish to sun dry the clothes, walk barefoot in the beach, cook outside, sleep on a mat and play hop scotch with the kids. Somehow these simple changes allow for a relaxed life style and we are starting to love that. I am sure these will make lasting memories for our kids as they grow up...

May 10, 2011

Agreeing to disagree

I find it interesting that in any bonding the major string that holds us together is the fundamental concept of agreeing to disagree. Among friends, it is quite common to see varying levels of disagreement on any given matter. Same way among family members too no two will think alike in all matters. There will surely be differences of opinion on one thing or another. The beauty in relationship is evident when these differences can co exist.

What triggered me to write this is that these days Israel and kids have occupied the whole living room to grow their seedlings in some unsightly containers. It seems to me that is the worst thing one can do to their living room and it puzzles them why I make such a fuss for a seemingly simple issue.

After a few days of disagreements, we have now agreed to disagree. They do understand I do not approve of it and I understand they do not have a Plan B. But do we fret anymore? No, not really. I play blind to the scene but secretly counting days for the weather to improve so that these can be planted outside... They are thinking of a plan B in case the weather remains this way for long... Okay, this was easy as it is with immediate family members and if you think about it, it is really not a big deal if your living room is not up to your taste for a few days or weeks or even months.

But how about extended family members and your 'touch-me-not' kind of "friends"? How can we work it out without causing further rift? My idea is to maintain the 'hi & bye' distance. Not getting too close to these lot lest it becomes an unsightly argument and of course to drop no hints of what you really feel about certain things. Just nod 'mhmmm', 'ahang' and it keeps it going...Okay, that is doable too.

But what about immediate family but really huge issues. Like you are dead against something your spouse really wants to do or on the other hand, you really wish to do something that he/she is dead against? Hmmm... now that gets tricky.

I would say, 'Let go' in the former and 'Do it' in the latter situation. Yes, this will cause conflict but trust me it will be only temporary. Remember the idea is to agreeing to disagree! After a while when you look back you will be glad you did what you did and he/she will be glad he/she did what he/she did. You will both learn from your mistakes of course and might do it differently given another chance; but the guilt of not doing at all will be stronger than that of doing it and later realizing your spouse was right in the first place.

The bond only gets stronger with that kind of realization, and yes this is "experience" talking. Would you like to disagree?! Sure, by all means...

May 8, 2011

Happy Mothers Day

Influential Elders turned out to be so refreshing for me as I could share a lot about people who have played very important roles in my life. All this was only possible because of my Mom.

Because whatever love we kids felt and experience(d) from people, those are(were) reciprocated love. Mom is(was) very loving and kind and generous to many that we are blessed much by love in return. I am grateful to Mom for making our childhood so special and memorable and for loving each one of us the best.

Wishing my Mom a Happy Mothers Day today. Also Mothers Day Greetings to all of us Moms who are so blessed to have children. Let's go and enjoy the day and of course enjoy the rest of the life time being a MOM!

With this I wrap up the series on Influential Elders. Thank you for staying with me while I shared...

May 7, 2011

Influential Elders - My Papa

My Papa next to me in white during my wedding - Dec 1998
 Of all the people who have influenced me, Papa was my favorite! He was just the best. A unique make and model - My Papa! As I have said many times before, I have not seen anybody as nice as my Papa. True, we have had differences of opinions, but ultimately he has been always right.

Papa wore only white. Papa was very honest, never cheating anybody for anything. Very simple and straight forward. Loved to learn many languages. Loved to read and meditate Bible in his spare time. Mom always treated him very special. We too obliged. We gave him plenty of rest, not much work around the house, we just sat for hours together to listen to Papa discuss something from his life's experience or from his faith experience. He was our spiritual role model. He insisted we live a life based on what we learn from the Scriptures; if the Scripture says anger is sin, then shun from it, if the Scripture says Joy is a command, then live it out, etc.

Papa would invite beggars in to eat with him. Papa would also invite lepers in to the house and call us kids to introduce to them. Can you imagine that? When we shun from them, Papa would later insist why we shouldn't and that they too are honorable people and the disease won't spread to us, etc. There was no ups and downs in his scale as per people are concerned. Whether someone had great wealth or someone had nothing they were all the same for Papa. No differentials in terms of how he would treat them.

Papa had a simple life. No big aspirations to acquire much wealth, however God had blessed his hands to buy many properties around town. He was happy and contended with what he had. Papa had the finest job in Central Government of India. He was a Scientist in Marine Fisheries Department. Because of Amma's job we settled down in Tirunelveli while Papa traveled to places around. We would sometimes go and spend our summer break at Papa's quarters in Mandapam Camp. I truly enjoyed those days. Mandapam Camp was way different from Tirunelveli with sand everywhere and very hard water - which was desalinated water from the sea! Hardly any trees, only thorn like bushes. But we got plenty of fish and seafood from local vendors. We would often visit the local sea shore, walk for miles from one end to other. I remember we kids used to refuse to walk, but Papa would push us to. Now, I think I should have behaved better and enjoyed those walks with Papa.

Papa visited home only during weekends and holidays, but took most of his leave, including earned leave. I am so glad he did that otherwise we kids wouldn't have seen Papa around that much. Papa always bought us plenty of fruits. He would take me to the wholesale market with him and buy oranges, bananas, apples and the like in bulk. I used to love to paint all the time. Mostly I had water colors as that was what was available locally. But once Papa took me to the town and bought me plenty of painting supplies like so many colors, oil paints, brushes of different types, pencils with different shades, etc. It lasted a whole life time!

Whenever Papa came, he insisted in our family time together and we would sit out in the terrace or veranda and talk for hours, eating roasted peanuts or sugar cane or palm root or whatever was available at the given season. This too I truly enjoyed. When Mom's colleagues or someone passing by see us all out together they too would come and join. We kids would disperse to our own play while the adults enjoy the conversation, catching up on stories and events from both ends.

I was kind of a rebel when it came to certain discussions at home, though I can't recall much of what it was about. While Akka and Delight remained silent absorbing everything Papa said, I would argue back, cry and yell and what not?! May be I was possessed - or what else could explain that behavior?! Papa didn't mind it! He just prayed over me saying my pride should be rid of. For that also I would scream more and say I didn't have any pride - these were plain words with no apparent meaning or reasoning and all nonsense... I was just dumb or a BIG attention seeker. Both Mom & Papa handled my short comings very well. I am sure they prayed for me much because eventually I became normal. (I often wonder what I would do if one of my kids behave the same way.)

This was during school time. But once I went to college I got more polished and came to appreciate each moment spent with Papa. I guess Papa's prayers helped me calm down and helped me rid of my pride. I became so complacent, always accepting Papa's views and supporting his cause.

Papa was very proud of my accomplishments. He often told his friends he has never seen any child like me, because I always helped around the house, though we had maids. When I visited from college if the house was a mess, I would not rest until I put away everything in its place, in order. I would make the beds, arrange the book shelves, refold the cloths in the closets, sweep the rooms, clean the furniture and do many many more things before going to shower and change and then to rest. Papa admired that! They wouldn't have seen the house as I saw it. They are casual people you see, so if a tumbler is out of place on the TV stand instead of the kitchen sink, they were not bothered; but I was! For me, everything has it's place and it only belongs there. Only then I can relax. Papa loved that about me!

My aspirations were big, bigger than Papa's and Amma's. I had to get out of India, travel places, see people of different culture, etc. It was not even my dream; it was a must for me. Once when Papa was asking me why I wished to get out of India and why not be happy in India, I shared with him all that. I also told him what Mom & Papa could achieve with much hard work (like house, car etc) are all basic necessities for me and I couldn't think of a life where I started blank and only achieve my dreams closer to retirement. (I wouldn't have started blank because Papa gave me everything for my marriage: car, land, money etc.) Papa was surprised about my clear ideas and how strong I felt about certain things. Papa was then convinced! Papa understood my heart was not in these materials but that these are just my basic needs.  Since then Papa started supporting my aspirations.

Papa was such an influence in every single one who came in contact with him. He encouraged children to study. He would go and talk to parents if they didn't wish to send their girls up for higher education. Many got convinced and are better off with better education and remain thankful to Papa for his encouragement. Also, many children came to love Christ because of Papa's love for them and through his Sunday school ministries.

I could go on and on writing about my Papa as there are so many fond memories of my Papa and he was my only male role model! But I decide to stop here. I am richly blessed to have had my Papa as my Papa.

May 6, 2011

Influential Elders - Karinkal Pautima

My Other Grandma - Papa's Mom was originally from Kuthuthani village in Kanyakumari District and got married to Thatha from Karinkal, and lived there all her life. I have not seen Thatha as he passed away even before I was born; but Pautima lived a long healthy life till age 87 and was a huge influence in my life.

What mostly influenced me about Karinkal Pautima was her simplicity. If she was proud of one thing, that was her children. Both Mami (my Aunt) and Papa are simply the best according to her. Pautima would go on and on and on telling stories about Papa and Mami's childhood, how Pautima and Thatha gave so much importance to education and how they were able to raise them to get their Masters in respective fields and how they paid for their tuition etc.

Thatha had a government job in the court, all his earnings were spent on education only and nothing else. They didn't need anything else. They had a house, they had food coming in from their land. Fish was a daily dish. Chickens were home raised and on special occassions like when we are visiting, Pautima would cook one. Pautima wore simple cotton sarees and looked beautiful in them. She didn't go out much except to go visit her lands around where yuca and green beans would grow. She would step out to a relative's place to request them to buy fish for us when they went to market. Very rarely she traveled. Pautima's life was mostly spent within the confines of Papa's family village - Kannan vilai. It is a settlement if you will of children of one family. Thatha's father's brothers, their children, their children and now we are the 4th generation of children I am familiar with. A very small world.

When we visit during holidays, from where the bus stops we have to walk about two kilometers to where Pautima lived. We did that with hopping and running on the narrow paths winding down and climbing up through different family properties. People loved their land so much and so nobody came forward to share some of their property to make a common road. But now there is a road, I hear Pautima was a pioneer offering her land for road to come through and also for electricity poles. Sadly only after Pautima's time we have seen roads and electricity in that part of the country.

As we get closer and closer to Pautima's house, lot of kids who are our 2nd and 3rd generation cousins would accumulate around us and we will land in Pautima's house as one BIG battalion. When we got very close to Pautima's house we will be calling out for her 'PAAUTIMAAA...! PAUTIMAAAA...!' to announce our arrival as she would have no clue we are even coming that day. Pautima didn't hug or kiss like my other Pautima. She would greet you 'Pille!' meaning 'my child!'. Mom would share generous eatables she brought from home to all those kids who accompanied us on the way from different homes in the neighborhood. They would be so happy to receive the sweets and ask for more and more sometimes. Adults would also be there. Amma would be so kind and would have packed a lot of stuff just to give away.

It would be a while before they disperse to their home which is usually when the sun sets.I would be so shy shy to get mingled at first. It normally took me a day or two to assimilate with the country cousins as they admired my each movement. They would say my clothes were pretty and my shoes looked like the movie stars' and my hair was nice and long or something of that sort. All the while, I will be admiring their simple styles, care free living, and natural beauty!

Everyday of our stay they would arrive, as soon as the sun comes. They will ask me to come and play with them and would take me around places and show the different pieces of land and say they are ours, would pluck me mangoes, and make me eat it raw, same thing with baby tamarinds and cashew nut fruits. They would even take me to swim in the canal down the lanes. Both boys and girls would be there and there will be lot of jumping and splashing in the water. We would play under the huge tamarind tree that was common to all households or that's what it seemed like then. This was a really huge tree with no low lying branches. So no tree climbing invloved. A long while later we will retrieve to our homes to eat while they all disperse to feed their cows or clean their tamarinds or something like that.

It was a sight to see Pautima making jaggery. Her mud stove was on the floor, above which she had the shelf like thing where her 'akkani' vessels were kept. Akkani means 'payini' or 'palm juice'. Pautima made jaggery from scratch out of the palm juice from our own palm trees. Some people who climp the trees would collect the juice in a container and bring it to Pautima who then cooks the juice to certain consistency and makes jaggery out of it by pouring it in coconut shells like metal bowls. These bowls has a whole in it which she would cover with a leaf from the jack fruit tree. Then she sets the bowls to harden the jaggery. The funnest part is when she gives us all a spoonful of the liquid jaggery on a jack fruit leaf or palm leaf to taste. She would use the shell of mussles as her spoon. For fueling her mud stove, she would use dry leaves and twigs from palm, coconut, mango and jack fruit trees around. For us kids who grew up in the town, her simple ways was such fun to watch.

Pautima's regular cooking was also fun to watch. Pautima kept her salt in a coconut shell. She would use another coconut shell to beat an egg, for beater she would use a twig or her knife itself. First she cooks the rice in a mud pot, sets the water to drain, next she will get up and go to the big 'ammi' grinding stone and grind coconut, red chillie, a piece of turmeric and some tamarind and jeera - she will add each one by one and make a big ball of masala. She would wash the grinding stone very carefully and collect that water in a coconut shell for later use. Then she walks back to the kitchen 'kusini' as she calls it and sits on her usual place in front of the stove, puts another pot on the stove, pours little bit oil from a vintage looking glass bottle, seasons one or two pearl onions, and adds her masala, adds some fish which is already washed and kept aside, and before you know it the beautiful mouth watering fish curry will be ready. To treat us extra special she would make 'marakkari' meaning vegetable dish, like avial and then often made us a nice omlette. That's when the beating of the eggs in a coconut shell comes in. It would be a freshly emptied shell so scrapes of coconut also got mixed with the egg and her slow hands will soon produce the best tasting omlette in the whole wide world!

As we sit around her on the floor and door steps and back yard watching her cook, Papa and Amma would also be around. Suddenly the conversation topic would get focused on Papa. We would start listing complaints about Papa. Pautima was the only person Papa was still afraid of. So, whatever we would think as complaints such as, 'Papa wakes us up so early in the morning for prayer' or something in those lines, we would start telling her. It was very interesting to hear Pautima saying something to Papa to support us, she would mostly bring in old stories of similar incident as Papa was growing up.

As I got bigger I would travel alone to Grandma's house. I would stop by at the best bakery in Tirunelveli - Arasan - and buy plenty of butter biscuits and mint candies and the like for Grandma and take it with me. For distribution among friends and cousins Mom would send murukkus through me. Those times I would sit and talk to Grandma for hours and hours and mostly I will leave the same day. Many times Pautima has requested me to stay back but I would have to rush back to catch my bus or train to Bangalore, Trichy or Chennai wherever I was studying at that time. Though one day visits seems too short now, I would have spent every single minute with Grandma, talking to her, listening to her repeated stories or discussing something from Bible. Those were moments well spent.

When I returned Pautima will walk with me all those 2 kilo meters to the bus stop and usually will find someone to carry a jack fruit and a bag of mangoes or a bunch of red banana or plantains for me to take home. As the bus moves I will be so sad to think if I will see Grandma again, if she will reach home safely, and so many if's. I used to be afraid of snakes and other insects that could be hiding under the leaves she used for cooking fuel. I have never seen a snake but I would worry like that. Then I would beg and plead with God that He should allow me one more chance to go see Grandma again. BIG SIGH....

Pautima was there for my engagement and wedding. When she saw Israel she said, 'He is dark but handsome'. Pautima soon moved to live with my Aunt in Kuzhithurai not far away from her village. She did not like Tirunelveli much as she would call it 'Pondy' and would find it hotter climate wise. She used to write to me letters through my cousins asking me to return to India and why I should remain in some far off land.

Sadly I did not return to see her off at least once after marriage. Life kept me busy in these United States, with children, jobs, green card etc.Now I have everything I had dreamt about as a child. But don't have my Pautima and Papa to enjoy it with. But guess what, they are in a better place, resting. Looking forward to the blessed hope of my truest wish to come true - to meet them again. The Scripture promises:

"For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words." 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

I am forever grateful to my Karinkal Pautima who taught me so much of life's valuable lessons. Whose life was a testimony to others. At her funeral one of the family members (Papa's cousin) shared how she came to understand the love of Christ through my Pautima. Her slow paced life feels like a dream. Hard to believe life moves on with or without her; but never the same as with her. I am sure Eternity has much more fun in store for us together and guess what there will be no separation after that!

May 4, 2011

Influential Elders - My Grandparents

My Pautima (Grandma) and Thatha (Grandpa) were very influential in many lives including mine. Thatha passed away at age 60. I was only in third grade and Delight wasn't even born, so my memories of Thatha are from distant past. Pautima lived till age 81 but we were not ready to let her go!

Pautima and Thatha were both very influential people. Partly because Thatha was a well known Pastor (Pastor. Paul Perinbam) and had lot of connections in India and abroad. Pautima was a prayer warrior and had a great heart to help many. Prior to getting into ministries Thatha was working in Ceylon. When my Mom was about 5 years old Thatha decided to wind up everything in Ceylon and came back to India to settle down with his family.

They started the Children’s Home Ministry in Kudankulam through which they educated many children who were less fortunate. They helped a lot of children from the family too like their nieces and nephews. Many of them are now well off and settled in all corners of India and abroad and always remain grateful to my Grandparents next to God Almighty. Thatha also established the Indian Pentecostal Church of God in Kudankulam and ministered there till the end. Thatha and Pautima had huge influence in many lives by living a good example too.

My memories of Thatha are limited but here is a few that is still fresh in my mind:
* Whenever Pautima/Thatha visited us Thatha would bring 'paul kova' (milk sweet) for us.
* When we visited them as we get ready to leave, Thatha/Pautima would walk up to the bus stop and then Thatha would slowly take a big Cadbury Chocolate from his pocket and give us all one piece from it.
* Next he would open his wallet and take out brand new notes and give us all one each.(the denomination I don't recall now)
* Pautima took good care of Thatha by keeping his diet requirements. I would help peal the roasted garlic for Thatha. When I take it to him he would say, "Thank you! God bless you very much my child". I loved to get his blessings, so I would not fail to take the garlic to him every single day of our stay with them.
* Pautima would maintain absolute silence when Thatha took his nap. We children would talk hush hush when Thatha was sleeping.
* Thatha mostly remained in his room or in his easy chair in the hall. Mom would be sitting wherever Thatha was and talking to him for hours and hours.
* Thatha would dictate letters to my Mom which she would promptly write down.
* Once when Thatha was taking a shower near the well, I was sitting on the tamarind tree by the side and seeing Thatha all covered in soap foam I commented he looked like a monkey. This became a huge issue and Pautima kept telling me I shouldn't have said that. But thatha kidded her saying, "leave the little one alone..." ("ada po pa, chinna pillaya pottu, cha... cha...")
* Thatha always bought me the wooden toy cutlery set that came in a box made of palm tree leaf. (not sure if we can get those now...)

Pautima was very affectionate. I would write letters to Pautima every week; she would prompty respond. Sometimes she would hand me a bunch of post cards in advance so that I will not run out of the supply to write to her. When she visits us, we would beg and plead to make her stay longer. We kids would hide her handbag or sandals somewhere so that she would still be home when we returned from school. This annoyed Pautima sometimes but mostly she would give in and stay a few more days. Sometimes it was my Mom who would give her a hard time not to leave. Mom would start crying and then Pautima would stay for that day. Pautima insisted on family prayer every morning and night. Her prayers would be very long as she starts praying for every single one in her memory list and we kids would doze off before the prayer actually ended.

Once when Pautima became ill we couldn't find a driver to take us to Kudankulam. So with all my cousins loaded into the car, I drove 80 kilometers to see Pautima. When Pautima saw us all she immediately felt better and sat up. When Mom told her it was me who drove, Pautima kissed my hands and said, "God has blessed my child with so much wisdom".

I often helped my Aunt with the dishes whenever we visited them during holidays. Once there were loads and loads of dishes and I cleaned them all. As I was wrapping up, Pautima kissed me on the forehead and said, "God bless you very much Makkale (child). He sees your humble heart". I took her words to heart (no, not to head) and was so pleased that God sees my heart.

I felt cheated when Pautima passed away. She was 81 but why would I care? I wanted her to stay alive forever. Mom didn't tell the news to me while she requested my friend to travel with me from hostel. When I got home I was inconsolable. I was so angry with Pautima for not telling me good bye. But to tell you the truth, I was just in denial. Over many years Pautima was prepared and had prepared us too. She had her clothes ready, her scarf ready and was all set to go any moment. But I couldn't take it that she really meant it. I had expected she would say 'bye' before leaving. I didn't know death came so suddenly and unexpected and that people don't normally say 'bye'. I was doing my Masters then but didn't know many things like that.

When everything was over and it was time to build Pautima's headstone, Mom was worried as to how and where we could find a similar one like that of Thatha's. Then I told Mom there was one in the back room under the bed that Pautima had shown me once. It was exactly like Thatha's. Turns out Pautima had only entrusted me with that info; no one else in the family knew of that.

If my Pautima and Thatha had had a chance to actually say 'good bye' this would have been the Scripture verse they would have likely shared:
"I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." 2 Timothy 4:7,8
I am truly blessed to have had them both as my Grandparents! Many have told me I take after my Pautima. I would like it to be true because my Pautima was a woman of noble character. Her genuine love and wisdom is hard to come by. I wish to be at least a trace of what she was to many. In life eternal as we are reunited with our loved ones in the Lord, I am sure my Pautima's crown will be the most beautiful as she excelled in her race!

May 3, 2011

Influential Elders - Friends from Sarah Tucker College

Sarah Tucker College plays a remarkable role in my childhood memories. Though it is not my alma matter I have special affinity towards it. Mom was a professor & Head of the Department of Mathematics for over 30 years there!

STC is a beautiful campus, okay to be honest not as beautiful as some other colleges I am familiar with. But the people are beautiful. They are so loving and caring and God fearing that you feel safe within the confines of the campus.

I would often visit the college as a child and also as a young adult whenever I was on break from school / college. Mostly I would go there to meet all of Mom's friends who are all my favorites too. Mom was(is) much loved by her colleague which has created a unique bonding between us (the children) and them too. We consider them as part of our  family. No family function is complete without their presence. No vacation is a real vacation without visiting them.

The canteen is my favorite place in the campus (of course :) ) When Mom and friends walked slowly with their umbrellas to shade them from the scorchy sun, we children would run to the canteen to pick up our choice favorites. Mine was the coconut bun they had, the egg puffs and Mazza. Even before Amma and friends reached there we would have finished a round or two...

Next favorite place in the college campus is the library. As a child I was amazed at the walls and wall of books kept intact. Mom would take me there and suggest plenty of reading material, both in English and Tamil. I loved it! Summer vacations without those reading material would have been such a bore.

Subulakshmi Aunty (Mrs. Subulakshmi Rajan), Vasantha Aunty (Mrs. Vasantha Sreenikumar), Cynthia Aunty (Mrs. Cynthia Paul), Vijaya Aunty (Mrs. Vijaya Israel), Hephzibah Aunty (Mrs. Hephzibah Jeyakumar), Joysornabai Aunty, Joybell Aunty, Hanna Aunty (Mrs. Hannah Stephen), Rosalee Aunty (Mrs. Rosalee Paul), Lionel Aunty (Mrs. Esther Rajam Lionel), Jasmin Aunty (Mrs. Jasmin Madhialagan) are all my favorites!

When I got married Esther Rajam Aunty made my hair, Hanna Aunty was a constant support to Mom, everyone of them were there. Subulakshmi Aunty commented to Israel that I am their first daughter to be married off, which shows how much she and others loved me. Rosalee Aunty cheers us all with her presence, Cynthia Aunty's special bonding with us is remarkable. Vijaya Aunty is the one who gave us Ashy - our first dog.

When Papa passed away so suddenly, all these wonderful people came together with their spouses immediately and took care of many matters big and small. My Aunt was surprised and said even in villages people don't come together like this for days at a stretch and definitely not for nights. My heartfelt thank you to everyone who was there to wave final good bye to my Papa and lend us your shoulders in time of our great sorrow. Your love for us is definitely irreplaceable and very much appreciated.

Mom is retired now and so are some of her colleagues. But their love remains constant through thick and thin. The affection continues even beyond the boundaries of the college campus. I miss Sarah Tucker College as it has been a while since I last visited. It kind of feels empty when so many familiar faces I am so used to are all retired now. But for those who remain, I promise to visit with my children on our next trip to India. I will show them the swing sets, the canteen, the library and all you beautiful people who made my childhood so special & memorable. Thank you!
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