Showing posts with label Kidding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kidding. Show all posts

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. 😆

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).

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)


Monday, July 31, 2023

travel is tiring...

...even if all you've done is gotten boarding passes, gone through security, and found your gate...

Pic: Nu and At flopped out two hours in, even before our first flight out of Detroit. 


Sunday, July 30, 2023

last day

I over watered my zillion plants hoping they'll be ok while I'm gone for the next two weeks at least, took a long two-hour walk by myself to say goodbye to all my favorite places for a while, took a long soak, finished all the pesky chores, submitted materials a week ahead of deadline for the course I got suckered into, helped At and Nu with their packing, made a hearty breakfast casserole that'll serve us tomorrow too, played with Huck and Max all day, and just said goodbye to the garden and the fireflies and Scout at his memorial...  

At is already here tonight, and it was so lovely to pop into both human kids' rooms to say goodnight.

Just a few more odds and ends to squeeze into my bags and I'm ready!

Pic: Max, Huck, and Big A. I'm going to miss these guys so much!

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.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Think pink

Barbie this evening with an intergenerational group including Nu.

It was a fun romp and definitely worth watching. Even for me (who didn't grow up with Barbies) or my kids (who didn't play with Barbie because I was worried second-wave-feminism style that it would inculcate unrealistic body expectations). 

The movie does a lot of work: the brief glimpses of what a less patriarchal world might look like made me a bit teary and there were lots of LOL moments for sure. Have to marvel at the delicate balance between its appeal to kids/adults, implications/recuperations  of Mattel, awareness/promotion of consumerism, feminism, femmephobia, and so on. 

Pic: Our group in pink.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Oh, the places I've been...

StephLove and NGS were curious about the list of places on my bio, so here goes. Actually, that list is somewhat abbreviated and I had to add a couple more places for continuity. Also, I count places where my sister and parents live as a dual home as well, even if I only visit for a couple of weeks here and there. 
  1. Madras (Tamil Nadu state), India: Birthplace. In the traditional way, Mom moved back to her parents' seven months into her pregnancy to have me. Dad visited us every weekend.
  2. Cochin (Kerala state), IndiaWhen I was around three months old, mom and I moved (back) to where Dad worked.
  3. Vizag/Vishakapatnam (Andhra Pradesh state), India:  We moved because of Dad's job. This is where my sister was born. We attended Timpany School.
  4. Madras (Tamil Nadu state), IndiaWe moved back to Madras where both sets of grandparents and our vast network of cousins and family lived. I went to Holy Angels Convent and Sacred Heart schools and graduated from Stella Maris College.
  5. Kodaikanal (Tamil Nadu state), India: I taught at Kodaikanal Christian College for a year after graduating.
  6. Columbia, S.C.: I went to the University of South Carolina on a terrific teaching assistantship, making more money than I had ever earned in my life up to that point.
  7. Jerusalem, Israel:  University of J; Grad fellowship
  8. Utrecht, The Netherlands:  University of U; Grad fellowship
  9. Princeton, NJ:  Institute for Advanced Studies; Grad fellowship
  10. Chennai (Tamil Nadu state), India: My birth city changed its name...
  11. Columbia, S.C.: Back for a bit; At's born here.
  12. Oxford, U.K.  Went to the University of Oxford for my doctorate on a scholarship that paid almost as much as my current salary. 
  13. Delhi (National Capital Territory), India: Sis and parents moved to the capital city for a couple of years for sis's job.
  14. Bangalore (Karnataka state), IndiaSis and parents moved for sis's job. They're here now.
  15. New York, NY and Springfield, NJ: Big A's residency at NYU; finally married Big A; Nu's born in NYC; started this blog.
  16. Yellow Springs, OH: Big A's hometown, we moved there after his residency for his first job as an attending. 
  17. Alma, MI: We moved for my job; adopted Scout and Huck
  18. Lansing, MI:  Moved as Big A had a fellowship at U of Michigan and Lansing is halfway between Alma and Ann Arbor; adopted Max.
I really don't want to move anymore!

Pic: Puppy attack! Max first and Huckie right behind.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

"it'll grow back"

I know that everyone in India will love my babies no matter what, but also... I want them to look nice on the visit. 

So I (very cautiously) broached the idea of a haircut with Nu, who hasn't been to a hair stylist in over two years. They'd cut their own hair a couple of times since then, but not recently. 

When I called the Aveda salon that Big A and Nu use to make an appointment, there was a lot of back and forth and then they asked me if Nu was "biologically male or female." Whereupon I gave them a piece of my mind and hung up. I could have handled that better. But it's fucking hair! Why should it matter?! 

Anyway, I checked in for this morning at the Supercuts nearby (it's the place I use) and off we went. 

I must say, Nu's choice of cut is a bit complicated--the laidback TikTok teen who models it in Nu's reference video has a rattail mullet and sides shaved in an undercut. When we got to the Supercuts, the stylist was an older South Asian woman in a hijab. NGL, I wondered if she'd balk at Nu's choice of cut. But she just cheerfully set to work. At the end of 30 minutes, Nu had precisely the haircut they wanted and I relievedly tipped a 150%. Haircut? More like hair cute! (Ok, I'll stop.)

Nu and I were to go to dinner with AK and AK, but the restaurant closed early (Sunday!) so we met at home to polish off the leftovers from yesterday's feast. I excused Nu from the table, but they chose to linger for hours. Do the AKs know what a huge compliment that is?!

Pic: Baker Woods with L early this morning. This deer was most interested in our chat. 

Note: Pre haircut we were joking about how it's only hair and it'll grow back... and wondering if a hair salon called "It'll Grow Back," would be popular.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

a forgotten summer list

Between the travel and deadlines, I totally forgot to make a summer list this year...

But summer things are still happening anyway. At a breakneck pace these days.

We're entertaining for the next three days (three very different things), have houseguests the weekend after, and then it's off to India... eep.

And as Nu said dolefully: when we come back from India, summer vacation will almost be over. I wanted to redirect and say we ought to enjoy the moment and that we have a whole month left, but NGL--I lowkey feel the way Nu does too.

Pic: Big A, Huck, and Max roasting veggie dogs.

Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Max-imum love

Max is a delight. As At says, he's completely unselfconscious and a "goofy-ass" puppy. Max is pure puppyness: He sits down and then unintentionally ends up rolling over; he trips over himself; he sploots; I once saw him pay attention to a deer jump over the fence and then for a while he picked up his feet and leapt like a deer himself; when I sweep up a mess, he moves his head like he's watching a scintillating tennis match.

Nu hasn't laughed quite like this... in years. Nu hasn't been adored quite like this... in years. Max wakes Huckie up to play whenever he wants to, he cuddles up to Huckie because he wants to, when it's dinner time Huckie eats at least partly out of competition. Max is so good at animating poor grieving Huckie. Scout would have loved Max.

Big A and I both tear up when we talk about Scout--that doesn't look like it will change any time soon (never). I expected that. I didn't expect that we'd have reasons to laugh quite so much despite it all. I'm surprised at how much my heart can still grow.

 Pic: Nu and Max playing 'Pat-a-cake'

Monday, July 17, 2023

pushing luck

I found FOUR four-leaved clovers while walking with Max and Huck this evening. 

(At least I think they're clover? They might well be shamrock or oxalis or some other weed.)

(Anyway, they were in a patch with other mostly three-leaved things, so I'm counting these lucky.)

I got lots of respect for this feat from At (who came to dinner today) and Nu. It reminded me of a long ago moment in 2008... 

I'm keeping one for myself; the other three are for some people I know who need a good shot of good luck too.

Pic: four-leaved clover haul on the kitchen counter.

Sunday, July 16, 2023

summer fullness

Still frozen in the same place on the writing project--convinced that I'll be satisfied if I work on it for just another 24 hours. Perhaps it's time to send it off to the editor and let them tell me what I need to fix?  Perhaps it needs to live in someone else's brain for a while.

In the afternoon, I took myself off to HS's annual garden party, which, as always, was a treat. An unexpected treat was the live jazz band that set up in the dining room and was absolutely fantastic. 

The last time H.S. had their garden party was in the year before the pandemic... it was impossible not to reflect on how much has changed since the last time and simultaneously feel that familiar sense of return about so much else.   

I feel so replete with flowers, friends, music... and food. So full of food: The whole afternoon repast at HS's, then dumplings and stir-fry at home, and then a second dinner as Nu wanted a pizza snack but only if I would share it with them.

Pic: A partial view of HS's beautiful garden. Someday I will have a beautiful garden too and deer won't eat it.

Saturday, July 15, 2023

the ones we live with

Big A gave me a big Buddha statue for Christmas in 2015. When I sat the Bodhisattva outside the front door of our old house, Scout and Huck lost their minds and barked at him all day. He's weathered now from being outside in all kinds of weather... and when we moved to this house, he sustained an injury. A quarter-sized hole opened up in his thigh and we realized he was hollow inside. 

(I'm realizing this is a strange story--Buddha at Christmas, the puppies losing their calm around him,  him being hollow rather than fully filled [fulfilled] etc.)

Anyway, I love coming around the bend and seeing him every time I get home. And I love that a chipmunk family has been living inside him for years now (the hole in his thigh is their front door).

Today I managed to get a picture of one of the naughty chipmunks (they always dig up the planters on the front porch!) playing with Buddha's topknot. 

Pic: Front yard friends--a chipmunk on the Buddha. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

first draft

what is even in my head today
                       how ever did I find my way 
to blessing the sweet, the weird
                        to reversing to pressing
through these unmarked doors
                       looking for I know not what
becoming... I know not who
                        there's something here maybe
suffering but gently... gently 
                       showing me cracks in the floor
and letting me pretend I can 
                       read them like lines on a map

Pic: Bone Appetit! Huck and Max stole some dinner napkins and then played with them... together!

Monday, July 10, 2023

summer sanctuary

I met just one writing deadline (of three) on Sunday and I have a CASA report due tomorrow. Like Lawrence Kasdan says, "being a writer is like having homework for the rest of your life." I have to keep reminding myself that I'm doing the best I can. 

In the meantime, Big A keeps reminding me that it's summer. 

And Nu sweetly offered to go on a walk with me so I could talk through the knot in a writing project. We haven't gone yet... But I was so touched by their offer, which is exactly what I myself might have offered up to Nu or a student in a similar predicament.

Pic: Max insisting we take a break outside. I'm just so grateful for my patch of green, blue skies, a silly puppy, and time and health to enjoy them all.

Wednesday, July 05, 2023

Wild: fires, fireflies, and fireworks

We started the day with an air quality advisory about smoky air from the wildfires. But... it seemed (by smell and sight) like any other summer day to me. 

Nu and I picked At up from work and went to FedEx to get pics for their Indian visas. I was so happy to have them both with me, I was being silly behind the photographer--making funny faces and tap dancing. At promptly got a fit of the giggles, but Nu who had to take their glasses off for the picture, couldn't see me at all, and managed to keep a straight face in the picture. 

When At, Nu, and I took Max and Huck for a walk around the back... fireflies! Their appearance is so magical every year. And this year, because I've been taking baby pee-pee pants Max out so much, I haven't missed a single day of their joy-inducing luminosity.

When I dropped At off around eleven, there were fireworks in the sky as we drove through old town in Lansing--I'm glad I got to see them even if a day late--I guess I had missed their fiery simulation of all my favorite things (like flowers, like stars) yesterday after all.

Pic: A fuzzy picture of the surprise fireworks through the windshield.

strange new world

Weird how a day can begin like every other and then end up as something unknown. A is sick and in the hospital. It feels like being in a par...