Showing posts with label Family Tree. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Family Tree. Show all posts

Thursday, April 18, 2024

what we are built for

in the days when the kids were smaller
and my parents younger
and they lived here 
six months of the year
                                the only time I'd get mad at my dad
                               (my mom and I squabbled
                               every other week
                               or so)
                                                was when he'd look at my husband getting
                                                 ready for a training run
                                                 and declare he wasn't
                                                 "built for running."
                                                                                 my dad... my corporate bigwig dad
                                                                                 had two secretaries once, but now 
                                                                                 dutifully transcribed stories 
                                                                                 the grandkids dictated 
                                                                                                                       my dad who titled himself the president
                                                                                                                        of the fan club our sweetly narcissistic
                                                                                                                        toddler so desired...
                                                                                                                        that dad
was telling me my husband--who 
was spending hours running
every day--was unsuited
to running
                                But dad. I'd say--he's run marathons
                                what do you mean he isn't
                                built for running? And on 
                                and on we'd go.
                                                            my dad had had polio when he was five
                                                            his withered left leg still hurts, his
                                                            uneven legs (like these lines)
                                                            limp every step
                                                                                    but that dad didn't care how his body was built, he 
                                                                                    had "persevered" to become the captain 
                                                                                    of his school's soccer team and cricket
                                                                                    team and wrestled in college     
                                                                                                                        so it didn't make sense then, but now I think
                                                                                                                        he was saying my husband wasn't built
                                                                                                                        for running hours every day when
                                                                                                                        I needed help with our kids

Friday, March 22, 2024

the hellebores of yore

I took a picture of our hellebores coming up yesterday, and a good thing too... today they're blanketed in about five inches of snow.

The snow wasn't going to stop us from heading to Yellow Springs for a long overdue visit to Grandma S tomorrow...

Except Big A seems to have gotten the flu from patients (lots of Flu B out there, people)... so I guess we're not going after all.

My poor MIL! this is our much delayed and postponed CHRISTMAS visit! The post title sounds like an old-timey lament, and that's exactly how I feel.

Pic: Hellebores/Lenten Roses in the backyard before the snow.

Thursday, March 21, 2024

small planet, big feelings

Usually on teaching days, all I do--all it seems I can do--is teach and then head home to veg. But today, despite some kid-care challenges, I managed to have tea with BOL and then walk over to the Wharton to see Small Island Big Song with EM. 

When EM first asked if I wanted to go to "Small Island," I thought it was a dramatization of the Andrea Levy novel we both love--it isn't. It turns out to be a beautiful cross-cultural collaboration between musical artists from about 16 islands dotting the Pacific and Indian oceans. I didn't understand a single word... and I didn't need to... the music was so joyous and transportive. I loved the artists' camaraderie and synergism. And their final song about the danger to the Great Barrier Reef sounded sorrowful and (rightfully) angry and nearly brought me to tears.

Things I thought about during the concert: 

1) How my last set of season tickets at the Wharton was pre-pandemic and I need to see about getting tickets again. They have Six playing this weekend, and I would have liked to go. 

2) Because I couldn't understand the lyrics at the concert, I thought about how much my mom likes Nelly songs (esp. "Hot in Here" and "Ride Wit Me") although she probably only gets about 50-70% of the lyrics (because of slang and accent). The kids find this HILARIOUS. (I mean I do too... my mom has never smoked anything in her life let alone an "L.")

3) I hadn't yet finished The Bee Sting at that point in the evening, but its climate grief really connected with the music in Small Island Big Song. One of the characters in The Bee Sting rages about how strange it is that poets keep writing about birds and flowers and so on as though whole species aren't disappearing every day. That is SO true! (10/10 for The Bee Sting, BTW.)

Pic: Small Island Big Song in concert. I'm off to see if I can find their songs on the internet. 

Sunday, February 18, 2024

some backstory... and a Boss Day

Some backstory to yesterday's poem.

Our grandmothers were first cousins, so Sunil was a distant cousin--although that doesn't matter much in the  Indian context (something that's unclear in the poem, and I should work on it). Our grandmothers were as close as sisters--closer, as they had no sisters and lived in a big joint-family mansion where they had private tutors--so they were together all the time. They were really close--they always talked about how they breastfed each other's babies so their babies would feel like siblings and think of them (their aunts) as mothers too.  

It didn't work out exactly like that. My mother would go to her aunt when she fought with her mom, but later there was some family drama (our grandmothers fell out in their sixties) and mystery (things people won't talk about). Stuff that came out as what Nicole rightly called "mixed things." Nance found the ending surprising--something else I'm working on. I was trying to express how it felt to have someone in my peer group die... like the beginning of the end. As I mentioned in a comment to StephLove, Sunil died of a heart attack, so that feels as though our bodies are going. 

Pic: It's the puppies' Boss Day! Huck and Max got new lick pads and love them. 

(It's not their actual Boss Day, but it was too bewildering for Scout and Huck when we celebrated them individually, so we picked the 18th of the month to celebrate a puppy Boss Day. Max's "smile" cracks me up.)

Monday, January 22, 2024

"go not to the temple"

I'm feeling frustrated about the huge celebrations in India and worldwide for the temple Hindu fundamentalists have built over the mosque they destroyed (and the blood of the people they've killed). 

My Twitter and FB feeds are mostly progressive articles and quips, but my WhatsApp (elementary school pals) is chockful of people sharing pictures and claiming they're just celebrating and that it's not at all political. How could anything that caused the deaths of over 2000 innocent people and has led to the current wave of intense and ignorant Hindu fundamentalism be unpolitical? All these (high-caste) Hindu women posting random and adulatory details of the temple! I wonder if our non-Hindu classmates--the Sikh, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Parsi, Periyarist Dalit kids--have already left or are just staying silent. 

On the cousins' chat, my cousin very helpfully posted a picture of themselves drinking out of a mug labeled "liberal tears." I was going to say something cutting, but this is a troll move and I'm not responding--anything else would be a reward for them. 

Pic: Tagore and "Go Not To the Temple." Friends have been posting a lot of Tagore, and while this is not his best work, I've been resharing it. It would be easy to ignore me, but it's a bit harder to ignore the Nobel-winning author of the Indian national anthem. 

Tuesday, January 02, 2024

"I believe that children are the future"

My mother once told me that even when she was mad at me, something (sweet/funny/adorable) I did as a baby or toddler would flash in her memory and it would help her get over it. I can safely say this is how it works for me too. 

I mean there's no way my kids are going to meet every arbitrary milestone and make only perfect decisions. Things could get "bumpy" any minute/soon and the one thing that centers me is thinking about how much must be going on in their lives right now, because all they ever did was always only sweet/funny/adorable once. (And in the meantime, I bite my tongue until someone asks for my advice.)

Actually, I think it works for everyone i.e., people who aren't kids in my life too. I think it was in a Jennifer Weiner novel, where the protagonist finally finds a way to get along with her unhelpful MIL by thinking back to her being a neglected baby. I've frequently used that trick to find compassion and understanding for people when they're being jerks.

Pic: My loves--Max, Huck, Nu, and At--hanging out for a moment before we headed to the temple for New Year's Day blessings yesterday. I hope they'll always find warm, cozy places to rest... and that I can make those places for them if they need me to.

Monday, January 01, 2024

leap

How tired the world
how long the way
how we have been 
survivors for over
365 days

may the new year 
be kind, enormous,
hold us in peace
may it gently--
24/7--teach us

to resist, to vary 
history's encore--
the hum of hope
its own language
in 2024
__________________________
Other New Year's Day poems:

Pic: Our holiday card!

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Resurfacing

I'm back; it was bad. At least I don't have to do it for another year. I have little recollection of the past 36 hours. I woke up so weak, wobbly, and very sad from my fever dreams.

I would have liked to start the new year with all my household chores completed, but I think I'm going to be easy on myself.

Pic: MIL's sister posted this picture that was taken in 1922 (so over a hundred years old!) of their dad--he's the toddler bottom left. The young boy beside him looks so much like Big A! I think this is the most number of people I've seen in a single photo... I wonder what the occasion was.

#LaterPost

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

it's beginning to look

a lot like a bit like Christmas. CF, my dear friend who moved to South Carolina sent us a beautiful Christmas centerpiece, JG sent us treats from Sunnyland Farms, AK sent a blooming amaryllis, SV made a donation in memory of Scout. It seems my girlfriends are into sending things that are more like experiences, and I love it.

Counterbalance: My uncle told me that there had been a fire in my sister's office building in Bangalore. My sis then sent me a video of the 20-story fire. Scary. A student whose poetry I love received a rejection. Sad. One thinks we'd be able to protect the people we care about from harm or disappointment, but we're so limited.

Pic: CF's centerpiece--I lit the candles to send her a thank you photo. Bonus peek of Nu snacking in the kitchen.

Sunday, December 10, 2023

DND

After krampus-ing hard yesterday, JN declared this a DND (do nothing day). I guess it works as a "Do Not Disturb day" as well. I love it. I'm going to use it. Someday.

Final grades are due soon, so it wasn't really an option to do absolutely nothing. But I built lots of nice stuff into the day--I got a massage, I went on a ramble with L, a long walk with Big A, then family dinner with At.

It was DND lite.

Pic: Goodbye from the puppet theater. My parents gave the kids this puppet theater when they were little--I think Nu was less than two years old. It showed up to lots of birthday celebrations and we accumulated quite a collection of hand puppets and finger puppets all put to great use by the "narrOator" (At's version of "narrator" 🙂💗). It lived in the rumpus room for a long time and then in Nu's Room for years. But for a year now, it's been hanging out in the upstairs hallway because no one wants it. I've known it should go to another house where some other kids can love it, but it was a bit difficult letting go as it bears so many memories of the younger versions of my kids, my parents, me... 

Anyway, when At came to dinner this evening, I got a few last pictures of them together at the puppet theater. I'm lucky my kids are so indulgent.

Friday, December 08, 2023

"praying for peace/living with love"

The world is so beautiful and the world is so terrifying. Over 17,000 people have been killed by bombs and gunfire in the past eight weeks... It's so strange how I still go about as if everything is ok... Although my country vetoed a humanitarian ceasefire yet again. 

I think of the children holding a press conference in English--a language foreign to them--to beg the world not to bomb them. And yet, over 7000 Gazan children have been killed in just these two months; many thousands more are maimed and injured for life. I think in particular about the mother holding her lifeless baby saying she took 580 IVF injections to have him; the tender searchers in the rubble after every airstrike. I think of how many hospitals, schools, and homes have been bombed, the patients, medical staff, students, teachers, and families in them evanesced. No poem can contain my grief. Nothing can calm my disbelief that this is happening so publicly... so blatantly.

Sunny Singh, who has always been so kind to me and my students lost a friend today--he was a fellow teacher of English and a poet. His name was Refaat al-Aareer. In a better world I might have met him some day at a reading or a conference or in someone's home. And he is just one of thousands who is gone suddenly and too soon with their hopes and dreams still pending. This is a poem he wrote last week:

If I must die

you must live to tell my story
to sell my things
to buy a piece of cloth
and some strings,
(make it white with a long tail)
so that a child,
somewhere in Gaza
while looking heaven
in the eye awaiting his
dad who left in a blaze-
and bid no one farewell
not even to his flesh not even to himself-
sees the kite,
my kite you made,
flying up above
and thinks for a moment an angel is there bringing back love
If I must die
let it bring hope
let it be a tale
_______________

Pic: Baker Woods with RS yesterday. She asked me if it would look bad if she celebrated Hanukkah with all that is going on. I told her we'd be lighting lamps with Nu (Big A's great grandparents were Jewish and there is a family menorah/hanukkiah). I'm glad we have celebrations. I want us to put away our bombs and celebrate life. (I saw the words I used for the title of this post on a church's marquee this morning on my way to work.)

Monday, December 04, 2023

Five-year-old me

What would my childhood self think about grownup me? 

I've been thinking about it since Nance mentioned that she keeps her kindergarten picture on her dresser to remind her "of the little girl who wanted to be a teacher and a mom. I look at her often and think about how so many of her dreams came true and then some. It helps me stay grateful."

I'm five in this picture, and my favorite thing was to line up my sister, our ayah, and the dolls in my playroom to play school--with me as the teacher. So I think five-year-old me would be thrilled that I grew up to be a teacher and tickled to know I have kids and puppies of my own--I think they'd find that part really hilarious. Back then, the expectation to be "good" was intense--I wonder what five-year-old me would think of my daily quest to be a better person, to keep learning... When I was little, I was always afraid of being orphaned (I read too much even back then), so I wish I'd known my parents would know their grandkids...

Like Nance, I too am grateful that so many of my dreams have come true--even dreams I did not yet know to have for myself. I can see myself at ten or eleven lying on the terrace looking up at planes and wondering (not even wishing, really) *if* I would have a job, if I would fly on a plane (only my parents had flown at this point), and if anyone would fall in love with me. 

Pic: An old B&W portrait of my family (dad, sis, mom, me). I remember so clearly that my dress was a very pale pink and white with a soft collar and square white buttons with a pink inlay; my sister's dress was a hand-me-down from me, it had been a favorite until I grew out of it--I called it the "peacock frock" because it cascaded in overlapping "feathers" and had a deep blue embroidered motif on each. I'm pretty sure my mom's organza sari is orange with white polka dots. When the square belt buckle (buttons and buckle were all purely decorative) on my dress fell off, I used it as a tool at my art table to scrape excess crayon off the paper and even out the colors. I wore a school uniform to school, and "play" clothes at home; I had a very small collection of "fancy" clothes to wear to parties, the club, and so on and I remember most of them quite fondly. My sister was wearing a corrective leg brace at that point, which is why my parents are holding her hands on either side. No one is holding my hand... I wonder what I seem so pleased about... Wow. I did not expect to remember so much. And look at my HAIRY forehead!! lol

Sunday, December 03, 2023

outtake/best take

We got the tree up (and by "we," I mean At and Nu) and tried to take a picture for the holiday card.
We usually take a video and then pick a frame or two, but it proved impossible yesterday. You can't even tell that Big A and I are wearing pajamas that match the kids!

I hope you can tell we're all wearing Christmas-tree hats. Although it took me a minute or two to understand why everyone was shying away from the "white, pointy hat." :D 

Pic: Not the best frame, but I think it represents everyone trying to hold it together the best.

Sunday, October 15, 2023

it is what it is

I was relieved life conspired to give me a day of silence to gather myself yesterday. And as it turns out, today was the opposite with extra people-ing: the beginning of Navaratri, Sunday family dinner, people at home, walks and talks I had scheduled with friends earlier in the week... 

And although I started out by merely going through the motions, each interaction refueled me in big and tiny ways. When I called my mom this morning, I could hear the hubbub of the hundred+ guests at the family celebration of Navaratri in Pondycherry  and then I got passed from mom to aunts and uncles and cousins--each a little rush of love. My dinner--a colorful chopped salad and a fluffy frittata inspired by Seamus Mullen's Real Food Heals was beautiful and filling. (Fun fact: Big A went to college with Seamus, and our friend CC dated him.) My garden walk with HK was lovely, and I also got to go on a long ramble--geographically and conversationally--with L. Lots of mutual check-ins and chats with JG, EM, JL, and BL... Nu's very serious demeanor during our impromptu dermatological consult made me (still makes me) smile and they gave me products from their own stash of K-skin care to help with my recent acne outbreak. 

These are all blessings I am so, so lucky to have in this imperfect and difficult world.

Pic: Water Lilies at MSU Horticultural Gardens with HK. I thought about cropping out the clump of weeds and gathered gunk, but it is what it is... 

Monday, October 09, 2023

heart-to-heart

It would probably take me many tries to get all the loops and turns of how exactly Cousin P is my cousin. But I just know that she is. Growing up, she was a constant fixture of family get togethers and although she was just two years older, I absolutely idolized her (still do). 

Our straightforward heart connection bypasses the complicated family tree. When we lived in New Jersey, we saw each other every day and I always feel very, very loved by her. When morning sickness laid me low, she hand-fed me. And I don't mean spoon-fed--she scooped up the rice and rasam into little balls and fed me with her fingers like a proper South Indian mama would. 

I'm so glad P came for a visit despite all the stresses of her high-powered job, and illnesses in the family. And of course we plunged into chattering the day away. At my request, RR came by to give her a massage and then At came over to say hello and we all sat down to dinner together, FaceTiming various other cousins. 

There's a family reunion planned... for 2025... I can't wait. 

Pic: Cousin P, Nu, At, and Cousin K2 (on the phone from the U of Maine).

Saturday, September 09, 2023

game on

Saturday is chore day around here, so after I watered and tended to the zillion (rough estimate) indoor plants, vacuumed, put away laundry, and cleaned, Big A and I set off for what we thought would be a long, chatty walk. 

If we'd been the least bit interested in American football, we'd have known that MSU had a home game today. After a summer of basically having all of campus to ourselves, we were startled to see a football stadium's worth of people pouring out of every street and building. I mean, it's their campus, not ours--but it didn't stop us from feeling somewhat affronted. Ha. 

And then I decamped to go do things with friends. As Nu hugged me goodbye as I was leaving, they dolefully asked if they were having dinner without me again (I got home late after student activities yesterday too). I felt momentarily guilty, but Nu and Big A take any evening I'm gone as a mandate to order junk food they love, so I know they actually have a great time. 

I had a great time with two sets of girlfriends too. 

Pic: We're pretending to be mannequins because we were all dressed up and there was this empty storefront. It's too bad the glare ruined the concept a bit, but I still love how fabulous the voluminous salwar suit my aunt gave me when I was in India looks. 

Wednesday, September 06, 2023

"but Murugesha, Murugesha; do you have a trunk?"

This is officially a crazy story. I hope to do it justice.

A month ago, my old advisor at Oxford posted a sweet photo of herself at the door of her office on the socials. It reminded me of all the times I'd shown up at that office excited about an idea or terrified about exams and seeing her open that same door with that same welcoming gesture. I "loved" it obviously. She mentioned that a visiting cousin had taken that photo and I asked her privately if that cousin was from my part of the world (the name didn't sound like it was from hers). The cousin was indeed from my part of the world, and my advisor mentioned that her husband's aunt had married a South Indian cricketeer named Murugesh. 

Now Murugesh is a fairly common name, but the first time I heard it was because the person succeeding my dad at this one position in Vizag four decades ago was named Murugesh. And the only reason I've remembered that was this: Murugesh and his family would soon be occupying the beautiful company house with a full house staff and fancy furniture after we left. There was one table though that had turned a bit rickety, and we had shoved a trunk under it to stabilize it... but of course we'd be taking that trunk with us when we moved away. My dad made up this song about all the stuff the new family would enjoy in the company house, the final line of the song was "but, Murugesha, Murugesha; do you have a trunk?" (For the rickety table, LOL.) It had a catchy tune and we thought it was hilarious and over the decades, we'd sing a snatch of that song and laugh when it came to "but Murugesha, Murugesha; do you have a trunk?"

Back to the present: I asked my dad if Murugesh had been a cricketeer; he had. I asked my advisor if her cousin's dad had worked in Vizag; he had. It was the same Murugesh! (My dad had added an extra syllable to M's name for some old-timey flavor.) And then a spate of emails via my advisor about memories of that house, neighbors, romances that had transpired between the new family and our old neighbors, and then sharing the famous (in our family) song. (And yes, it was summer, but my advisor is a very busy academic with talks to give and books being published and whatnot... she was so kind to facilitate this discussion.) And because I happened to be visiting my parents when my advisor was emailing back and forth about this, it gave us so many nostalgic things to recall and enjoy. 

When I was six years old, I did not know that I would connect with the protagonist of my dad's song over 40 years in the future...

Pic: I couldn't find a pic of Woodroffe House in Waltair Uplands. But this is a picture of Waltair Club home to many childhood shenanigans and whose verandah kinda looks like Woodroffe. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

celebrations

It's EM's birthday! It's my dad's birthday! AD is in remission! It's a blue moon! It's a blue moon and a super moon! It's raksha bandhan! 

After work, I was in and out of the house all evening taking soup to AD and pastries and presents to EM (whom we celebrated over dinner last week). Many folks do all this commuting everyday with their kids' activities and sports and... wow. It's a lot.

Our rakhi days are different from everyone else's. This year, only Nu is wearing their rakhi on their wrist; At is wearing theirs on their ankle (work doesn't allow bracelets), and Huck and Max are wearing theirs on their collars. The kids--human and canine--have been tying on rakhis and promising to protect each other for as long as I can remember. But the years are distinct. This is Max's first; we missed Scout. I looked back at last year's celebration, and it feels like a different pandemic world!

After dinner, we called my dad to serenade him with birthday songs and then went outside to look for the blue super moon. My city kids (pointing at a distant streetlight) "Is that it?" (Face palm.)

We finally found it later and higher in the sky--so, so lovely!

Thursday, August 17, 2023

un-doing

Baby steps today: Just one meeting, a tiny handful of emails, a short walk, an easy meal. I keep reminding myself of my spectacular relapse after I overdid things earlier this week. 

Easy does it. 

Unrelated: I can't stop thinking about the food situation with my parents, sis, and BIL. I knew they had let some household help, including their cook, go during the early stages of the pandemic. What I didn't realize is that now everyone just orders food online and then they eat separately and at different times. So all they're eating--sometimes even at breakfast, and almost always at lunch and dinner--is restaurant food. Each one according to their own schedule and by themselves. 

The worst part is that the food is frequently limp, unappetizing, and unsatisfying by the time it arrives, so it seems people eat more than they would otherwise. My BIL won't even enter the kitchen, my sis is too busy with her job, and my parents are too old, so this isn't a problem with an obvious solution. I made soups and stir-frys while there (for the kids mainly, but there was enough for everyone) and everyone acted like it was the most amazing food in the world (although it really wasn't!). My sister takes such good care of my parents and I didn't want to be a dick; so I didn't say anything. But mealtimes were such a time of togetherness growing up and I feel so, so sad that it's not the case anymore over there. 

Pic: Look! A medieval-looking turret on our way to get Big A some coffee at Biggby! 

Saturday, August 12, 2023

poyi-ostha

Back home, it's inauspicious to say you're leaving--you're supposed to say, "I'll go and come" (meaning I'm leaving now, but I'm coming back later). "Poyi-Ostha in Telugu; "poyitu-vaaren" in Tamil. Guess I've left and come back to one of my homes.

It felt so good to see Big A's dear face when he picked us up at the airport, such a shriek I did shriek. Max is huge and can now bark, Huck is her crazy-dainty self, everyone was just so excited to see each other. 

I've since watered the zillion plants; cleaned the things other people don't care/know to clean; unpacked our suitcases; refilled the hot tub; cleaned the tiled floors (the big vacuum is tomorrow); cleaned the space around Scout's memorial, etc. etc. I'm not sleepy in the least. Might read and/or do some laundry next. 

Pic: I brought some of the old vinyl records from my mom's collection back with me. She loves music and used to have shelves and shelves of records--now only a couple of suitcases since my parents moved in with my sister some years ago.  Some of the albums have numbers pasted on the corner: This is from when my mom organized them into genres and had my sister and me help by cutting numbers out of an old calendar (this was before home printers) to catalog them.

puppy condo rules

Although I don't spend much time in there, our puppy "condo" is one of my favorite spaces. Max and Huckie dislike being in the...