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

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


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


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


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.

Friday, August 11, 2023


Somehow I didn't sleep a wink last night. I guess my sleep schedule is officially fucked in every time zone. 

Anyway, I was up because At dowloaded the new Salman Rushdie--Victory City--on my phone and it mentions people and places I'm connected to (my dad's family claim to be descendants of Krishna Deva Raya's palaiyakars/poligars). I'm finding Rushdie's alternative retelling and the female protagonist spellbinding.

I did sleep for a few hours this morning after packing. When I woke up, I walked in on my mom and Nu watching Taylor Swift videos in the living room--it was adorable. Then it was a quick trip to the temple, delivering a small present for the flower-seller friend's toddler, calling everyone to say goodbye, and the beginning of saying goodbyes at home. Mom and dad rode with us to the airport although non passengers aren't allowed to enter the airport, and it was SO tough saying goodbye. I always thought Scout looked a bit like my dad, and my confused mind is really making a mess of things.

We're now through airport security (which was long, slow, and overly thorough) and at our gate at last. I pulled out my credit card for the first time on this trip when I tried to buy the kids a snack at Starbucks, but they wouldn't accept foreign credit cards (this is an international airport, so I'm mystified). 

Pic: At and Nu: the hungry and passed out edition.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

doing better

Everyone's feeling better... 


And just in time to travel back...

My kids and parents are quick (and so sweet) to reassure me that although things didn't go according to plan, they're really happy to have had so much time together. We've spent a lot of time watching movies, swapping playlists, and telling old stories these past few days. Not as raucous as when we first arrived, but nice in its own way. 

I wish we were being safer--as a better Maya said, when we know better we should do better--but we haven't been doing that.

Pic: A pic of Nu, mom, and At from my sis. Sis and I finally got some one-on-one time together and she encouraged me to come back without the kids next time. 😆

Monday, August 07, 2023

how could I live so far away?

how could I live so
far away?
I guess I didn't know 
I could
life is such a hard thing 
to chance
you can leave a place
and then find
it always stays on you 
like fine sand

And Ten Notes From Today: 
  1. Mom, aunt, sis, and brother-in-law are sick; At and Nu appear to be recovering. I feel so conscience-stricken about my germy kids and worried about everyone else with a side of I told you guys to mask up when we were in the car together!
  2. I may be developing misophonia... and also the bands of howling street dogs were... interesting the first couple of nights, but not anymore.
  3. Big A has already neglected my flowering plants to death. But Huckie and Max are well loved, so I'll keep him.
  4. Had to say goodbye to family who came up from Coimbatore and Chennai to hang out with us... I miss them already. 
  5. Esp. VM and AA--seeing them wrap At and Nu in the same kind of unconditional love that saved me when I was a teen has been such a joy.
  6. It's Monday, so we've had to stop partying all night. I haven't left the house all day.
  7. I got so much cash on Amazon India gift cards, which I cannot use from the US, so I've ordered a ton of stuff and it remains to be seen if we'll receive it before our departure date.
  8. A realization that I have a very special position in the family as the oldest grandchild/nibling--it's nothing about me, any ol' baby landing into this family just waiting to love on their big sister's baby would have done. I just happened to luck out big time.
  9. The class I picked up as an overload due to a colleague's sudden departure was cancelled. Alleluia. I did it mostly out of a sense of duty--the extra cash would have been nice, but the extra time will be sweeter.
  10. I had a Zoom meeting with my editor in NZ this morning. It was a fairly routine meeting, except when they sweetly said "you get to weave the web," I was taken aback because I heard it as "you get to wave the whip." Umm, no.
Pic: At's picture of me by the sea last week. (Pondycherry)

Sunday, August 06, 2023

"my so-called vacation"

The title for today's post comes from At, who knows Nu and I have been watching My So-Called LifeTBH, for reasons I haven't yet unpacked, I never actually thought of this trip as a vacation at all. 

At is still sick and now (as of this evening) Nu is sick too with similar symptoms. My sis was able to order the antivirals for Nu online and it was delivered to our door in less than an hour. That part was impressive.

Two sick kids and two vulnerable grandparents in the same house = not so impressive. 

There was a get together for us at another aunt's house earlier today. At was unable to get out of bed, but Nu still seemed well at that point and I didn't want my aunt to feel totally disappointed, so Nu and I showed up with the rest of the family. But then we made our excuses to return home early so we could be with At. 

Nu really wanted to ride in an  auto-rickshaw, so we took one home by ourselves. And despite all the dire warnings, nothing terrible happened to us. TBH, one uncle, two aunts, two cousins, and my sister came to see us into the auto though. I love them all so, so much, but it's also a bit much.*

Pic: Nu and me in the auto-rickshaw being bratty and hamming it up. When I look back on this pic, I can kind of tell Nu is about to get sick too. (Bangalore)

 *I'd kind of forgotten how over-protective my family can be. I'm still getting frequent earfuls about how--on Friday--I took an auto-rickshaw someplace instead of calling home to let them know to send a car and driver for me. Like what? I'm so old and I've been out on my own in the world for so long! And I take public transport or drive myself. Anyway, I'm a fan of auto-rickshaws, especially because they're smaller than cars and can weave their way through Bangalore traffic better. 

Saturday, August 05, 2023

living loud

When Big A texted at 10 past midnight to see if I was still up, I texted this picture of family waving back at him--it's only ten past midnight, everyone's still here! 

You won't find Nu in this picture because it's late and they'd had their fill of social interaction. 

And you won't find At in this picture because their fever had spiked and they're in bed after we went to the hospital earlier in the evening for a consult, tests, and antivirals. (There's a chance it could be dengue, although we haven't been bitten by a single mosquito, and of course it could be Covid--either of which could complicate things by a whole lot.)

I've had some lovely conversations with my dad on this trip thanks to his amazing new hearing aid. This morning he was telling me about a sib who died in infancy and their family dog who died from grief soon after (that's the family story, anyway), and I started to cry about Scout. My dad was upset about making me cry, but actually, it was such a relief to be able to do any of this--talk to my dad, talk about Scout, hear a story I've heard 10,000 times before, etc. 

Pic: Part of my loud and lovely family. The sheet of paper in VM's hand is a blueprint for the big family reunion being planned for next year. (Bangalore)

Friday, August 04, 2023

here we are...

We always talk late into the night and wake up at dawn; there's always jokes, and teasing, and stories we've all heard a ton of times and laughing a lot for no good reason. 

And it's about being so looked after that people will do things that might seem silly. My aunt was worried that the cooks would absent-mindedly use mustard (At is allergic) that she took all the mustard out of the kitchen and put it all in her bedroom! Of course, we kept teasing her about it all day.

Pic: Dad, At, me, AA, VM, Nu, mom, and sis. 
I'm in a formal saree because I'm headed off to give a talk at Stella Maris, my undergraduate college in Chennai!  At is a bit under the weather today (hence the mask).

Thursday, August 03, 2023

a happy place...

Reunited with #1 favorite uncle! 

These three people I love so much, the sunset over the sea, and the family's little Ganesha temple make this a picture I will keep coming back to...

Pic: Nu, VM, and At at VM's place in Pondycherry. It always looks the same...


Wednesday, August 02, 2023

Home is where...

Home is where they take candid pics of you after you've been traveling for two days and are unwashed and puffy and texting your husband while your human kids loll on you.

Pic: At, me and Nu in a huddle. I actually love this pic of us. (Bangalore)


Tuesday, August 01, 2023

the people we came to see...

The people we came to see, namely my mom and dad, look lovely and exactly the same...

Except they move so much more slowly now and take way more pills than they used to.

Pic: Amma and Dad at sunrise. (Pondycherry)


Saturday, July 29, 2023


In some poses, Max looks so much like Scout that I wonder if I'll have trouble telling them apart in photos when my memory dims. 

But this pic won't be confusing. 

Scout hated to be picked up and Max loves being Nu's little baby, because of course he's ok with whatever Nu does with him--Nu is like a god in Max's world. 

Max got his second set of shots earlier this week and is all ready for the real world. He seems to love visitors already. He probably needs to be around other dogs, because he can't... bark! It's cute and funny how he makes all sorts of sounds from whale whistles to mousey squeaks... and his bark sounds so silly. Huck barks very rarely and isn't much help here. It'll be something to work on when we get back from India.

Speaking of which... our houseguests couldn't come this weekend. They caught something (non Covid at last check, but still contagious) and we're going to see my elderly parents... so we're replanning for next year. With all that suddenly free time because of their absence, I packed.

And our three check-in suitcases are ready; I managed to fit all the stuff my sis had delivered here and my own gifts for everyone (I went overboard with the niblings as usual) all sorted, listed, and packed away. It's just a matter of throwing some clothes, books, and my ziplock of products into my carryon at this point. 

Less than 48 hours to go. 

Pic: Nu, Max, and Big A hanging out while I make dinner.

Thursday, July 06, 2023

going back

I have secretly sewn smiles 
into  the  hems  of clothes
that get wet wading nearer 
to you... so they will float
on down these hallways 
... of dreams, of memory 
rippling and in stillness,  
their history of undoing 
the heaviness of things
of even--yes--sweetness
its stickiness... catching
at skin and hair... circling
and scabbing selfishly, carrying
cells...  cities... of light into me
my face resting in your palms--
cupped like a nest...  like home

Pic: I have a vision in my head for this little patch of garden--I love working in it, and I love spending time in it--especially reading on the bench under the (volunteer, sapling) tree. But it looks simultaneously scanty and overgrown. I should probably consult a proper landscaper. 

Monday, July 03, 2023

aunts, talk, and tacos

Cousin N, the kids' aunt and godmother, brought my aunt (mom's sister) and uncle to visit. We're all in touch via text and phone nearly every day, and Cousin N and I have hung out at academic conferences. But it's still magical when you get together in person after years. Years. And nothing seems to have changed. 

I'm the oldest grandchild and my mom's three sisters apparently doted on me when I was a baby. But it's still so sweet/funny/comforting to hear my aunt describe, as she does every time, how besotted they were and how I was such-a-very-special-beautiful baby with all that hair and deep dimples. My kids and her kid are extremely indulgent and patient when this happens.

And too, it was so touching and comforting to notice my aunt use Nu's new formal name a few times and (as they told me after the visit) so did Nu.We are lucky. We know too many kids whose extended family will not validate them. Isn't it lovely when people can make love look so easy?

I made a taco bar and it turned out delicious (and it was good practice run for the upcoming party on Saturday). I think the trick was making/gussying up the accompaniments with fresh ingredients. And putting out pomegranate arils and slivers of pineapple along with the sliced serranos and limes made the lineup look fancy and interesting.

Pic: Our 'ussie'! At, Cousin N, Nu, Aunt, Uncle, and me. (I don't know why I decided I needed to put my hands in the air like I just don't care, but here we are.)

Thursday, June 29, 2023

bring me a higher... ed

I did not expect to see an article about ex-BIL, who teaches at the U of Toronto, in The Chronicle of Higher Ed. The story suggests he lost a job offer because graduate students at UCLA did not like that he expressed skepticism about DEI statements. It actually seems quite clear from the students' letter that the problem was not about his skepticism about DEI statements, but rather the implication that the way forward is to get rid of DEI statements instead of holding admin responsible for fulfilling them.* I think students were absolutely right to insist that since he specializes in morality and social values, “considerations of identity cannot accurately be disentangled from the study of prejudice and moral behavior”, and that his indifference to DEI initiatives therefore constituted fair grounds for not hiring him."  There are people who would absolutely lose their shit if you so much as thought they were racist or sexist, but at the same time strongly believe that racism and sexism happened in the long-ago past or only happen in other countries. If you're someone who aims for progress, they can be an incredible source of distraction and frustration. It makes sense not to invite people who are likely to take you back to a previous status quo when you mean to move forward. Thinking about all of this is particularly devastating today--on a day when the Supreme Court has just struck down affirmative action.

And in more bad news: "Three people were stabbed in a gender studies class at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, on Wednesday afternoon, including the class professor, whose identity the attacker confirmed before stabbing him." Of course, if this were the US, it would have been guns and not knives. And of course it is eerily reminiscent the Montreal Polytechnique massacre. And of course family and friends and colleagues have been expressing concern to/for me as I teach gender studies too. 

*Because admin sometimes does use the crafting or existence of institutional diversity statements as a virtue-signal. But statements are progress when compared to previous erasure and silence, and they can be used to hold college communities accountable.  

Pic: Apropos of nothing in this post, our clematis has been glorious for weeks this year.


Tuesday, June 27, 2023

notes on meetings and missives

*At our meeting today, one of my CASA kids said something that was heart-wrenching. It's a shame a crime how children have such little agency in their own lives.

* My sister sent me a list of the contents of sixteen boxes she's had shipped to me instead of herself (shipping costs to India are higher). I get to unbox everything this weekend and go shopping for big suitcases afterwards. I've been 'carryon only' these past few years, and don't have check-in size luggage anymore.

*I was at JG's for some long overdue hugs, presents, and catching up after her three months in Europe and then SD called while I was there to catch up after my Jamaica trip.  I'd always wanted JG and SD (friends from different times and places in my life) to meet, so I was able to do that over FaceTime today. (i.e. Once I figured out SD was on FaceTime and I removed my phone from my ear so she could see more than a nice closeup of my hair. Ha.) 

*Our UU pastor wrote to say that some youth from a rightwing organization have been showing up at meetings and services and targeting and "berating" members of the congregation. I've been too swamped to go to UU lately, but I'm sad this is happening and will try to be there in support this Sunday. (In similar news, JG's synagogue was informed by the FBI that they were the targets of a "credible bomb threat." What the heck is happening in Michigan?!)

*A punchy card from KB in the mail--I felt like she'd affectionately punched my shoulder and told me that I "got this." I felt very loved and also entertained because she memorably ended with "Fuck the assholes (but not really)." It's kind of funny and mysterious and my internal slogan since.

 Pic: Max post vaccinations at the vet yesterday, stolen from a post on the clinic's FB page.

Sunday, June 25, 2023


genes cling like ghosts
as they sketch the tides
of tomorrow and today

time flies, hours flower,
smiles wake then to sing
in the tune of our bodies

of how we are built bone
by bone, and so sensitive 
of seasons not yet come 

in the rustle of the years
see flashes of possibility
all the strange certainties 

of dust and of distance
in the middle of things
coiling through our kin

Pic: Nu, Big A, and Grandma S.

an unfolding

I have been dreaming of people invisible mountains I exhaled  into existing twisting, quickening and though  short-lived as grass, are seeds...