Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Of dinner table conversations…of courage and compassion…of the hare and the tortoise…

Today’s dinner table conversation comprised of the importance of standing up for oneself and for others around us…and for the need to show compassion to people around us...as ‘D’ and I put one hypothetical situation after another in front of  Raya, we were amazed to realize that the little Kindergartener was able to articulate quite clearly how she would stand up for herself and her friends and family, when needed…the only question she raised was, ‘Mama/Baba, what do I do if someone is being mean to a stranger?’…That quite stumped D and I…we tried our best to explain the need to be able to differentiate one situation from another, when dealing with strangers…trying to drive home the point of the need to be compassionate while looking out for oneself, when dealing with a stranger, who seems to need help...I am not quite sure we did the greatest of jobs explaining this point…but we gave the best explanation we could…parenting is after all an evolving art, ain't it?!…I am sure we will do better next time...

As we spoke to Raya about the need to show compassion to everyone around her, about being able to stand up for herself and others around her, I have to admit I said a little prayer in my heart…a prayer hoping that some other parent at some other dinner table was doing the same…so that as our children learn to stand up for themselves, and for their near and dear ones and strangers, alike…hopefully  there will be someone, someday who will be willing to stand up for them, if ever the need arises…well, we can only hope and pray…

On a lighter note, Raya always seems to take forever to finish dinner…
So today I told Raya: "Raya, Baba and I are almost done with dinner and you are not even half way through. You are so slow"
Raya, after a moment’s pause: "Mamaaaa(tcchh tchh tone), I am the tortoise…I am slow, steady and focussed! You are the hare because you are teasing me about being slow. That's not nice."

Oh well , I was obviously too stunned to respond…an embarrassed, flushed face and a tame,’That’s true! I am sorry’ was all I could manage...now who could argue the 'hare and the tortoise’  point after all…it was a classic case of Aesop’s fable staring right back at Raya’s mama :)…

That's that...

I however want to end this post on a much more sombre note, sharing  a belief and thought that I hope will let all of us sleep  at night whenever we get bogged down by the chaos, the pessimism, the shades of grey and black in the world around us…and that belief is that 'Side by side, with the worst of humanity, more often than not,  you will find the absolute best!’ 

Nothing drives this point across more eloquently than a most unfortunate series of events  on a train in Portland last weekend. Prayers for the families of the beautiful souls who stood up for strangers, at the cost of their  own lives. May their souls rest in peace! In death, they have spread love and reaffirmed the belief of many of us that indeed, 'Side by side, with the worst of humanity, more often than not, you will find the absolute best!’ So, Thank you!






Thursday, March 9, 2017

Woman...

Woman...Let's just say it's a loaded word...the origin of a child...the origin of mankind...yet more often than not, as history shows, sidestepped and pushed into a corner in the name of patriarchy.


The boldness, spunk and confidence little girls are born with is often eroded as they grow up, primarily due to environmental factors. I saw this video yesterday, and it is quite disturbing...



and then there was this report , http://services.google.com/fh/files/misc/computer-science-learning-closing-the-gap-girls-brief.pdf that a friend shared on Facebook that validated everything in the video with more statistics. We are in the 21st century and there are twice as many boys as girls in STEM professions...that's a sad, sad state of affairs...

That aside, I have spent a lot of time thinking about this and then realized we don't have to look too much outside our own inner circles to discover a few traits which prevent women from being the strong and impactful influence on society, that they can potentially be.

In the very literate and educated circles, we move around in, I notice a few very distinct traits among a lot of woman that make it more and more difficult for them to reach out to and accomplish what they are capable of achieving:
- Their sense of worth(financial and otherwise ) is very tightly coupled with those of their partners. I rarely see a situation where a husband's worth is tied to the wife's...often enough wives take pride in their worth being tied to the husband's ...not that I have a problem with that kind of love and the coupling part of it LOL...but if that sentiment was reciprocal, wouldn't that be such a great example for our little kids...
- A lot of women believe and spend their time wanting to be liked by everyone they know. It doesn't take too much to realize that this really is an impossible feat to accomplish. In an effort to be liked by the majority, these women never learn to make their voice heard, to stand up for their beliefs and  for those who they know in their heart of hearts, are right...they just follow the masses...sadly enough, in such situations, without realizing it, they are surrounded by a lot of people, yet alone since their voice is never reflected in the thoughts and voices of the people surrounding them...that doesn't bode too well on their level of confidence and security, for sure...
- A lot of women speak of equality, but are not ready to do their bit to support their partners. While they readily play victims at the drop of a hat, when the husband wants to take a break from work and the woman has to support the family, that becomes an absolute "no,no". If the situation were the other way around, that's of course the way it is supposed to be LOL
-Women don't realize the kind of power and influence they can wield by just having each other's back. That sense of camaraderie often starts and ends with hanging out with the girls and never extends to a meaningful social cause. I am not saying this doesn't apply to men. But I am talking about women here.

We all aim to be strong women...we all want to be around strong women... and we all want to raise strong women...but let us all remember that the lessons and traits of strong men and women and of gender equality start with the interactions at home...

I am a daughter, sister, wife, friend and mother...I am loving, caring, attached to my family and close friends...I am also bold, confident, fiesty, secure and very comfortable in my own skin...I speak my mind...I work at home and have a professional career outside...I am not a great cook...I am clumsy...I sleep in while 'D' makes breakfast...I make lunch instead...I chaffeur the kids around and give 'D' the space he needs to do the things he likes, when he needs it...I don't ever play victim...I don't need a man or another woman to validate my place in the world...and all that doesn't make me any less feminine...all that doesn't make any of the people who matter to me love me any less...

'D' is a son, brother, husband, friend and father...He is bold, confident, secure and very comfortable in his own skin...He works at home and has a professional career outside...he is a great cook...he is not clumsy...he makes breakfast...he speaks his mind...he doesn't ever play victim...he doesn't need a woman or another man to validate his his place in the world...he is loving, caring, attached to his family and close friends...and all that doesn't make him any less masculine...all that doesn't make any of the people who matter to him love him any less...

'D' and my worth(financially and otherwise) are not coupled to each other, but that doesn't make us any less in love :)

It's not an easy task maintaining this equilibrium...it requires a lot of work...flexibility and adaptability at both ends ...Life is not always easy...it has and always will have it's share of ups and downs...but this partnership of equals, I would like to believe, makes both us strong, secure, confident and ready to take on challenges...all that I can hope for is that all of us with partners are successful in seeking out ways to reach this equilibrium...we are able to be role models for our children...so that we can be examples of strong women and men, we can be around strong women and men and we can raise strong women and men....because a society needs rational and strong men and women to flourish and prosper...

So yes let's #BeBoldForChange!!!


Thursday, November 17, 2016

It's still a man's world out there...but it takes a woman to give hope...




Flawed she may be...tell me, who isn't?...change is what the rust belt working class voters may have wanted...even if it was based on a divisive rhetoric and undefined economic policies...but I still cannot wrap my head around the fact that millions of college educated women, went into polling booths on November 8th and probably prior to that, to cast a ballot against Hillary Clinton...to vote for a misogynist...or maybe for a third party...either way, against her ...their votes just could have made the difference...whether we want to accept it or not, sexism exists...and let us not fool ourselves by trying to make ourselves believe that sexism originates and ends with the men of the world...the fact that it is still a man's world today and something like what happened on November 8, is still possible has as much to do with  women's perception of their place in the world as it has to do with the inability of some(or maybe most) men to accept women as equals.

A lot was at stake in this election...all of us know that...and no amount of reiterating what those stakes were matters now...but the statistic associated with college educated women is pretty startling...I would have expected a statistic more in the lines of 75%-25% or even better in favor of Hillary Clinton among college educated women, but as shocking as it is , the support she got in this demographic was significantly lower...essentially a significant number  of the college educated women chose to vote for a misogynist, someone who has demeaned women in all possible ways throughout the campaign, or they  voted for a third party candidate (which almost made their vote meaningless in the big picture)...

At times throughout the campaign I had heard sound bites from some women(fortunately just a handful in the part of the world where I live)...'oh she needs to demonstrate her vulnerability', 'she should start by dressing like a woman', 'all I care about is lower taxes', 'everyone votes along party lines', 'she is too ambitious'(a women's place is in the kitchen kinds)...I cringed at all these moments...but fortunately for me, there were  many more women around me who cared about what matters to me...'decency','graciousness', 'experience', 'advocate for children','advocate for women', 'advocate for minorities',
'advocate of hope', 'advocate of the belief in the greatness and the goodness of the  United States of America and all it's people', 'advocate of a woman's right over her own body', 'advocate of education', 'advocate for LGBT rights', 'advocate for the disabled'...never in my wildest dreams had I imagined that the former category of women existed in big numbers or that they would vote in such huge numbers against her...sad, but true...there may have been many factors in play in the election ...but given the stakes for humanity and women, I really do feel let down by this first category of women...these are educated women, many of whom are probably raising little women of their own...most of them are eons away from any economic calamity...most of these educated women have been blessed with the intelligence to understand the stakes...to differentiate fake news from real news...to differentiate manipulation from reality...to differentiate truth from lies...yet they chose to use their vote to endorse fear over hope...to take a chance with change, knowing very well that it could potentially be very dangerous change...it's beyond what I can wrap my head around...

The day after the election, I woke up with a sinking feeling...I couldn't make myself watch the concession speech...knew I would tear up...so I read the transcript instead...I wept nevertheless...for those who haven't seen or read it...it's a must...and then yesterday, I listened to Hillary's first speech since her concession speech last Wednesday, where she spoke at a dinner for the Children's Defense Fund ...http://time.com/4575126/hillary-clinton-childrens-defense-fund-transcript/...

Whether you like her or you don't, whether you voted for her or you did not...listen to this and the part where she speaks about her mother...and I will quote here..."And then finally, as some of you heard me say during the campaign, I draw hope and sustenance from another person who influenced my life and still does every day, my mother. I have talked about her difficult childhood. She was abandoned by her parents when she was just 8 years old. They put her on a train to California all by herself in charge of her little sister, who was three years younger. She ended up in California, where she was mistreated by her grandparents, ended up on her own, working as a housemaid. She beat the odds. She found a way to offer me the boundless love and support she never received herself. I think about her every day and sometimes I think about her on that train. I wish I could walk down the aisle and find the little wooden seat where she sat, holding tight to her younger sister, all alone and terrified. She doesn’t yet know how much more she will have to face and even suffer. She doesn’t yet know she will find the strength to escape that suffering. That’s still years off. Her whole future is unknown, as it is for all of us, as she stares out at the vast country moving past her. And I dream of going up to her and sitting next to her and taking her in my arms and saying, “Look, look at me and listen. You will survive, you will have a family of your own, three children, and as hard as it might be to imagine, your daughter will grow up to be a United States Senator, represent our country as Secretary of State and win more than 62 million votes for President of the United States""...

I wish this gives you hope and the resilience to get back up  whenever you feel down and out...

Yes in her own words, "We haven't still shattered the highest/hardest glass ceiling. But someday, someone will. And hopefully it will be sooner than we may have imagined"...

To me, the mother of a 5 year old little girl, Hillary Clinton embodies resilience, graciousness and hope...and irrespective of what your political views may be, as flawed women of the 21st century, let's give her the respect she deserves for reaching as far as she did...for being the trailblazer for our little girls...

I am fortunate to have a husband who is a passionate advocate for women's rights...and as uncertainty prevails, basic human rights stay threatened, women's rights remain at stake...'H' inspires us to
choose hope over fear, love over hate...to never give up...to continue to fight for what seems right ...

We can only hope that in our lifetime, we will be able to see many more instances of people choosing love over hate, hope over fear, togetherness over divisiveness, facts over rhetoric...and choices like the one made on November 8 are anomalies rather than the norm...


Thursday, September 29, 2016

The pangs of growing up...

I started writing this as a comment to a blog post by a very dear friend of mine, and then realized, it may be worth pondering upon in this blog, so that I can come back to it at some point of time later in life, and validate/repudiate parenting decisions, as the children grow up...Am I not glad that the kids are years away from adolescence now!:)

What triggered this note is this article on ‘Girls and their frenemies'...I couldn't agree more that as kids grow up, both boys and girls, it is absolutely essential to educate them on how to protect themselves and help protect others in the context of all the things/scenarios the article mentions. Though the article focusses on the need to educate girls, I am sure most of us agree that it is equally important to educate our boys...we need to talk to them about being comfortable in their own skin... about respecting others and their beliefs, while learning to stand up for one's own ...about dignity of labor...help them develop empathy...help them develop honest communication mechanisms...teach them to be assertive when needed, help them develop self-compassion, a positive relationship with their body, talk to them about the importance of standing up to bullying and not  resorting to bullying...teach them the importance of being able to say no, the importance of not ending up being just people pleasers...talk to them about sex, paedophiles, good touch, bad touch, on-line grooming, sexting, the harm caused by drug use, alcohol use, pornography...and who knows what other demons may be added to this already long list of things to protect oneself from in the adolescent years of our children.

What got me thinking though is what the article mentions as the  more likely destructive influence on an adolescent girl’s day to day life(boys are really fortunate if they don't have to deal with this...I am not completely sure that's indeed the case, though ..but oh well)...Coming back to the article, it mentions that the  more likely destructive influence on an adolescent girl’s day to day life is the damage girls do to one another in their friendship/peer groups...the article calls it 'relational aggression'. I believe it requires a lot of caution when talking to adolescent children about this...for
there is a very thin line between teaching our children to protect themselves from relational aggression vs teaching  them  to learn to assert themselves, compromise and set boundaries in relationships/friendships...or are both these really the same thing...I, for one, am not sure..

As far as relational aggression, as defined by the article is concerned, I wonder what was really different when WE were growing up…looking back and when I think about it now, I am sure I have had a fair share of interactions with frenemies, upstanders, supporters and distractors(as defined in the article)...I have memories of myself standing up for friends, who I believed, were not being treated fairly...I have memories of not standing up for folks, whose ideals did not conform with my own ...funnily enough those ideals themselves have evolved over time...I also have memories of friends standing up for me...and those that didn't...I continue to learn in relationships and friendships in this 35+ years of life...

So here's the thing, even without being proactively talked to by teachers or parents about "relational aggression", I did eventually end up developing mechanisms to deal with different people, as I grew up, learning to minimize the hurt that one is capable of feeling in so many instances and maximizing the bliss that friendships can potentially bring in…you know what I mean ... I have to admit most of the lessons were learnt the tough way and the learning never really stops...sometimes there is just no easy way of learning these life lessons...but the point I am trying to make here is, by not being proactively made aware of concepts like "relational aggression"(as defined in the article),
when I was still an adolescent, cynicism stayed out from my life for the longest possible time...I feel I had a fair chance at building and developing  friendships, that go on to become parts of a lifelong support system...

Now coming to the generation, that has the privilege of growing up to become adolescents in this technology 'infested', fast moving, incredibly fast growing , competitive and increasingly complicated  21st century...I wonder, how important it  is for adolescents to learn these lessons(like "relational aggression") proactively...wouldn’t it make them cynical in relationships and friendships, that for all you know have the potential to become a part of a lifelong support system...or is it that the potential bruises of learning lessons the hard way and the repercussions thereafter, in this context, is a much, much bigger risk than potentially losing out on building a lifelong friendship/relationship?

I, for one, don't have an answer and  I am glad that our kids are years away from adolescence ...and that gives us the time to hopefully figure this out in time... to make a right decision for them. But...do you?

Something to ponder about...
Happy Thursday folks!


Monday, August 29, 2016

Our rising kindergartener and her 'village' of 4+ years...



This seems like a really significant week for me...Raya starts kindergarten early next week...and yes, it's time for some introspection...exactly 4 years and 4 months back to date, 'D' and I made and followed through one of the toughest decisions of our lives...it was to drop off our then only child, our little 7.5 month old munchkin, at the AOL child development center, while each of us headed out to work...to pursue professions that we are passionate about...work that keeps us sane and grounded...The month preceding that day and the month following that day were a couple of the toughest months of my life....the month preceding that day was full of deliberations...ifs...whats...whys...hows...about me going back to work and what would be the best caretaking option for Raya, with me being back at work...it didn't help when some friends and family questioned my choice to go back to work and what it would mean for Raya... the month following that day, was filled with monitoring our little one in the classroom, through video cameras(day in day out) and rationalizing our decision to send her in...and yes, today it's exactly 4 years and 4 months, since that day in April,2012...and let's just say we haven't looked back...

So we just got back from a trip to Miami...On our way in, on the flight, Raya was seated in the middle seat of a row...I was in the aisle seat of the same row with little Rayan in tow......a girl in  her late twenties had the window seat...she was apparently headed, on a work trip, to Miami and had to get into a meeting straight from the airport...she didn't seem very interested in small talk and I don't think she was looking forward to having an active 4+ year old sitting right next to her on a three hour flight...oh well...I tried to give Raya enough heads up about not going into the chit chat mode...but I guess that was too much to ask of her...5 minutes into the flight and she was actively engaged in trying to start a conversation with the lady next to her..."Are you going to the beach?"..."Do you live in Virginia?"...The lady answered in monosyllables and tried turning her head away...but nothing could stop the little munchkin..."Are you going straight to office?" LOL...Monosyllable responses followed...I was gettting fidgety and wanted Raya to stop trying to chit chat...and then..."Did you watch the Olympics?"...that got the lady's attention and she  suddenly turned her head to fully face Raya, "Yes, I did! Did you?"...That was enough to make Raya continue, "I watched gymnastics and swimming. I looove Simone and Gabby"...her tone almost made it seem Simone Biles and Gabby Williams were her childhood buddies...now the lady was completely engaged in an animated converstaion with Raya....Raya continued and among other things, told the lady how much she disliked onions and declared, " You know I want to swim like Michael Phelps and Lodecky"...I am guessing 'Lodecky' was supposed to refer to Katie Ledecky...In the very same breath, she continued, "When I grow up, I want to be a singer and soccer player"..."I want to sing like Adele"...The lady gave Raya a quick peck on the cheek...looked at me ...and both of us chuckled, as Raya steered the conversation back to the lady and asked, "Are you dressed for office?"...Before the conversation proceeded any further or got uncomfortable or even worse
got into the "Are you voting for Hillary? Donald Trump will build walls" zone, I gave Raya  the tablet and told her to watch a movie...The "Hillary/ Donald Trump " question was what she had asked her granddad a couple of weeks back...She reluctantly(for a change) took the tablet, with an "OK mamma". While I would have loved to see where the converstaion was headed and keep her away from screen time...I wanted to make sure we did not end up making our co-passenger uncomfortable...the rest of the flight was uneventful ...As I watched little Raya get immersed in the movie, I couldn't help but wonder...how these past 4+ years have whizzed past...how the baby babbles have transformed into full fledged conversations...and all I could do is cross my fingers and heart, be grateful and say a  little prayer...by God's grace, 'D' and I have 'managed' to manage this first phase of Raya's life reasonably well, without letting go of our own...who knows what life has in store for her...who knows what the future holds for Raya...like everything else in life, I am sure it will be full of ifs, buts, whys and whats...choices that will be made and shape her life...

But I believe, every once in a while, as life whizzes past, we should try to pause and celebrate what 'is', rather than what 'was' or 'will be'...

Raya is today 2 weeks short of her 5th birthday...she is one week away from starting kindergarten...she will be one of the youngest in her class...but we do believe that she is ready for the challenges of public school...she has grown up to be one of those who needs constant challenges to keep her going...She loves 'mac and cheese' and 'hot dogs'...she also loves 'butter rice'('makhon bhaat')...yes she is Indian American indeed :)...she wants to be a soccer player, when she grows up...she wants to be able to sing like Adele...she loves Bollywood...she wants to swim like Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky... she loves reading...she wants everyone to vote for Hillary Clinton...she is scared of three headed monsters...she still makes her way into our bedroom in the wee hours of the morning, cuddles with her mamma and baba and then in her sleep pushes us to the edges of the bed while she takes over the entire king sized bed...and like all 4+ year olds, she throws her own share of tantrums...sometimes for reasons unknown...

Today I want to pause just for a moment to celebrate my little baby, before she starts a new phase of life in elementary school...a part of what Raya has grown up to become as a 4+ year old, is her inherent personality...a part of it is the effort 'D' and I put in as parents...iterating through a process of good and 'not so good' parenting choices, as we are constantly learning, ourselves...but a gynormous and very important part of Raya's development these 4+ years has to be attributed to the 'village' that has helped us through this process...our extended families...and the absolutely wonderful, loving, caring group of caregivers and teachers at the AOL child development center...I can't agree more with the fact that "it takes a village" to bring up a child...Today I want to pause to thank them all...today I want to celebrate the 'village' that has nurtured Raya and helped her  blossom these past 4+ years...for I would not have been able to stay sane, 'hungry' and 'foolish'(in a profession that requires me to stay 'hungry' and 'foolish') without this support system ...

Who knows what the future holds for Raya...like everything else in life, it will probably be full of ifs, buts, whys and whats...good and 'not so good' choices that will be made and will shape her life and destiny ...but today, I want to  celebrate what 'is'...a.k.a Raya and her little "village" of  4+ years...without thinking of what 'could have been' or 'will be'...

So, thank you!


Friday, May 6, 2016

Baby 'RAYAN' and ramblings from these last few months...

I wrote this blogpost a little more than 4 years back when little Ms Raya was almost 5 months old. She is ready to start Kindergarten this September...but apparently, in her own words, she instead wants to be a 'teenager' soon...LOL...it's a different thing that she assumes any kid a couple of years older than her is a 'teenager'(wonder where she learnt that word from and what she assumes, becoming a teenager will entail)...I, on the other hand, am looking for a magic potion to make the years with the little ones stall or at least go by a wee bit more slower...Oh well!

Our second little munchkin, Rayan, turned 5 months old last week...yes you heard right, the names are 'Raya' and 'Rayan', indeed...I was given ample warning by 'D' that the names are too similar...but, oh well... I really liked the sound and vibe of it...'Rayan'...short, simple yet eloquent. In Persian, 'Rayan means 'the wise', in Sanskrit it means 'noble'/'little prince', in old British English, it means 'brilliant' and in Jewish, it means 'graceful'. It, of course, remains to be seen,
whether the various interpretations of his name will bear any relevance to the individual he grows up to become...that, only time will tell...we will just have to wait and watch...

As for us, for now, we are busy 'many fold', if I may call it that...but more relaxed, as parents...
I feel that's the 'second child syndrome'...you are just not as paranoid about each little runny nose , poop or sneeze as you were the first time around with your first born...life, for now, is filled with the smiles, babbles, coos, rolls, twists and not to forget drool and wet diapers of a 5 month old together with the laughter, chatter, somersaults, words of wisdom and tantrums of a 4.5 year old...yes, life is super busy...but life is blessed...

As for the 'Raya-Rayan' dynamics, let's just say the 'love' is beginning to finally flow after a tumultuous, initial few months of insecurity that 'big' sister Raya seemed to be going
through, despite the fact that more of our attention was focussed on making her feel comfortable and happy, since Rayan came along. Oh well, you will never know what goes through a 4 year old's mind when she  has to share all the people, love, affection and things she has ever known with another little creature... and this time not just for a 'playdate' :)... All well now,though...big sister Raya has her own ways of showing affection to her little brother, 'Rayan' (I will not claim to approve of all her ways of demonstrating affection, though, lol), but the affection is there, growing and flowing...so that's something to be elated about :)

On the work front, I am back at work and working on a really  exciting project...so that makes staying away from my little baby just a little bit more easier...

On another note , the last month and a half has been a wake up call for me...three weeks of undiagnosed, high fevers that would come back every evening and just didn't seem to want
to go away...it was scary, to say the least...but for now, the fever is gone and hasn't come back for a couple of weeks...touch wood...the wake up call was needed though to put things in perspective...to count the blessings...to re-focus on things that should matter and things that shouldn't...

On yet another note, my folks left last week after spending 5 months with us...We were lucky to have them be a part of some important life events, including Rayan's birth and a move to a new home. Miss them a lot.... the kiddos miss them even more... but then we do have to learn to live life, being just the four of us!! That's how it just is and will be... just feel happy and blessed to have them be a part of these precious life milestones.

So that's that...now...I was writing thank you notes to Raya and Rayan's teachers yesterday, the week being teacher appreciation week and for a change, I was not using key strokes to write that up...was putting a pen to paper...trying to write something warm and nice to some affectionate and lovely caretakers  in what I wanted to be a 'beautiful' handwriting...I was aghast, when I was struggling to keep the handwriting even legible and decent...it was eons away from 'beautiful'...and like it often does on such occasions, I was struck with a stab of pain...what a loss...I am sure, it's not me alone, who feels the loss of the 'art of calligraphy' with this stab of pain...an art that had and in fact, still has the power to make or mar my day...let's just say I am one of those 'mushies' who can be made to feel warm and fuzzy by a hand written note...ok ok...of course, I am not talking about the handwritten post-it notes, which are written and re-written with a never ending compilation of to-do tasks...neither am I talking about all those tid-bits of hand written wrotes lying around at my work desk...stuff that I tend to jot down involuntarily, as I think through an analysis or design, at work...I am talking about that little handwritten 'thank you' note, 'birthday wish' or a simple 'thinking of you' note that can convey more than the million words we may type out in emails, text messages and IMs...primarily driven by the overabundance of technological gadgets and  the overall 'taking over of life' by technology...that's that...

But then early this morning, before leaving for day care, when I saw the eyes of my kids light up, as they interacted with their grandparents on Skype, when I saw just a little bit of the 'pain of parting' being taken away by that instantaneous connection that technology provided...when I saw the eyes of the grandparents brighten, as they interacted with their grandchildren, with the realization that life will not pass them by, as the kids grow up...with the realization that they can still be a part and parcel of every little moment of their grandchildrens' life, even though physically thousands of miles away...again primarily being driven by technology and the overall 'taking over of life' by technology...it all fell into place, like it always does:)...I had written a blogpost on similar lines, almost 7 years back (wow I have managed to keep this blog alive huh for that long,  lol)...Jokes apart, the last line of that post sums it up really well...'After all, it’s just that in the circle of life, whether we like it or not, we lose something to find something else'…

On that note and feeling less guilty now, of course :),  about maintaining a web journal, rather than a paper journal, I am back to blogosphere.

Happy Friday folks!
 


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The lure of the road...

We just got back last Friday evening from a week long road trip...this time we started from home in Northern Virginia and the destination was Canada, more specifically the cities of Montreal and Quebec in the Quebec province of Canada. The trip started with the re-discovery of a 'much lost' music CD that 'magically' worked...one that 'D' and I had literally listened to in repeat mode on our first road trip together 12 years back (a trip that had taken us from the glam and glitter of New York City to the calm and placidity of the Florida keys)...The trip ended with this gorgeous view of the sun setting over the horizon as the road met the sky in the last leg of our week long road trip...what better way to end a road trip and to ensure the 'lure of the road' continues to persist!
On our way to Montreal, the pit stops in the first leg of our journey were Hershey's chocolate world in Pennsylvania, Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada and Cobourg, Canada. For someone who was introduced to American chocolates with the Hershey's miniatures and almond kisses, the chocolate world was quite a treat. We went on a tour of the chocolate factory and got a sense of the chocolate making process, something that Raya seemed to keenly enjoy as well. As far as Niagara Falls is concerned, we had already seen the falls from the US side. This was our first time, viewing it from the Canadian side. While the beauty of the falls itself is unparalleled and the 'Maid of the mist'/'Hornblower' cruises give you an amazing feel of the aura and majesty associated with the falls, I am not a big fan of all the 'touristyness' and commercialization in the town of Niagara on both the US and the Canadian sides. Raya, however, had an absolute blast at the 'Maid of the mist'/'Hornblower' cruise that took us to the base of the falls and  she definitely didn't want to come back. Coubourg is a small,quaint, cute little Canadian town we stopped at for lunch...quaint, road side tea rooms and mom and pop cafes abound here, lining the narrow streets...a very strong British influence is apparent in the ways of the people there, like much of the province of Ontario.

'Jazzy' Montreal, on the other hand, is steeped in French culture. The official language of the city is French...all road signs are in French...Creperies abound...meals are relaxed and unhurried...the city is steeped in a culture of music and art...most other things are just like the French like to do it......the old town, with cobbled walkways, boutique shops and some really great restaurants, is beautiful and again oozes that quaint European feel. We stayed in a row home  in the Plateau neighborhood of Montreal...cobbled streets, beautiful row homes with multi colored facades, each with a 'Juliet' balcony, lined with maple trees on either side of the road...interspersed with small tea rooms, quaint bars and cozy restaurants...charming, cozy and romantic...Absolutely loved the city and we were lucky to be blessed with great weather for the 3 days we spent there.
  
 
We spent a day in Quebec City. This is the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec. Located on the bank of the St. Lawrence river, this city was one of the oldest European settlements in North America. It has the feel of the quintessential small French town...hilly terrain, on the bank of the river, cobbled streets, boutique shops, creperies, folks sitting around and chatting unhurriedly, under the shade of the abundance of maple trees that line the streets...it's one of those places that fills you with that absolute sense of calm and serenity.


Needless to say, while in Quebec, we hogged on 'Poutine' :). Poutine  is a Canadian dish, originating in the province of Quebec, made with french fries and cheese curds topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce.

On our way back from Canada, we made a pit stop at Princeton. We caught up with some of 'D''s relatives and spent a few hours, strolling around the Princeton University campus. We went on a walking tour of the campus and our student guide, Jake (an undergrad at the Univ), gave us a great feel of the history of the college and the approach to academics that the university pursues. I have to admit, I am one of those people who dread the thought of ever getting back to academics, as much as I used to love it at one point of time and had almost made it a career. But I won't hesitate to say that the charm and aura associated with the students
and campus of Princeton University, made me, if only for a wee bit, fall back in love with the thought of getting back to academics...
Oh well...I am afraid it's too late for that now :)

So that's that...we got back home to Northern Virginia just in time to celebrate munchkin turning 4...time flies and it brings a lump to my throat, each time I think of how quickly time is whizzing past...but yes, it has been 4 years already indeed :(

On a slightly different note...it has been 4 years...4 continents ...4 road trips for little Raya:) . In the process of all this travelling around, either 'D' and I have succeeded in sowing the seed of the love for travel in her, or for all you know, all the traveling  may have had a completely contradictory effect on her psyche LOL...what the effect has been on Raya of all the travel these last four years, only time will tell...but as the lure of the road persists for us, we nurture dreams and hopes of many, many more road trips and travel, in general, with our teenie, weenie
companion...who will hopefully grow up to nurture this 'love' for travel and the desire to explore new places, cuisines and cultures, as much as 'D' and I do.

Leaving you with a few pictures of snippets of memories from this road trip...