Showing posts with label The Old Country. Show all posts
Showing posts with label The Old Country. Show all posts

Sunday, June 19, 2022

tiny celebrations

Loved this Louise Erdrich quote; I needed a reminder of sweetness and hope today. Life can be sweet even if it isn't so every minute. My reminders for today, yesterday, and tomorrow:

At UU today I learned that Opal Lee "the grandmother of Juneteenth" was 89 years old when she started the campaign to make Juneteenth (today!) a national holiday.

Last night when I called my dad to wish him for father's day, we talked for longer than usual, because he could hear me better than he has lately. That felt so lovely.

Big A will be back tomorrow, and we'll celebrate his Father's Day the day after that.

Monday, June 13, 2022

"it ain't over till it's over"


The end of the night came in the early hours of this morning. We were so tired and sweaty from so much time on the dance floor in the LA heat. The playlist was both Indian and Mexican (like my cousin the bride) and very... energetic.

Memories of our silliness and shenanigans are making me smile on this very long flight back to Michigan where I will resume my very responsible parental persona on arrival.

Pic: Photo booth with my baby cousins


 

Sunday, June 12, 2022

fuzzy

So much talking: a mix of nostalgia, memories, and future plans. 

(This included an all family summit on how do we solve a problem like the Nu. In my book, there is no problem, but I know this came from a place of love, so I listened and made the right noises.)

My memory of this day is as fuzzy as this pic, but I remember feeling so loved.

#LaterPost

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Sari: this is special

An early pic from the Henna and Sangeet part of the wedding before we got our henna done and before the rehearsed and unrehearsed singing and dancing got underway. 

I managed my sari ok. Nicole, you asked--and it really is six yards of fabric wrapped, pleated, tucked into a petticoat, and held together by safety pins. I did make the rookie mistake of not putting my shoes on first, so my sari (I'm in the center by the pillar) is not 'floor level' unlike the other saris in the picture. 

My favoritest part of this is how my favoritest aunt is just holding my hand so close because we've missed each other so much these last couple of years and it felt so good to be reunited.

#LaterPost

Friday, May 06, 2022

here and there

 

Look! It's my baby sibling and my ole parents looking extra cute in matching baby pink outfits to celebrate their first visit to a mall since the pandemic started. #TwoYears #Bangalore

It's Mothers' Day AND my mom's actual birthday on Sunday, and I wish I could be there for that!

Over here, I spent most of the day on camera and yet felt like I accomplished very little. Having to be ON so much meant I couldn't read/write/run/snack/clean and that's usually what keeps me feeling balanced/happy/healthy/content/okay-ish.

Anyway... onward!


Saturday, April 16, 2022

lunar halo

 I'm taking this hazy lunar halo to bed with me. A long day: long hike, long hours in the garden prepping, long international phone calls with my mom and a friend. 

But it's nearly 3:00 am, so I'm not surprised I don't have a lot of thoughts to string together.

Sad about Covid-related drama nixing our Passover Seder with J and M this evening; but "next year"--as they say.

Friday, April 15, 2022

mixed up


A form rejection and also a publication in a special place (Madras Courier); a dear colleague's retirement gauntlet and also a dear friend's new baby's babbles; my sister's envy-producing trip to Chennai and also her unenviable task of taking my dad to visit his brothers (plural!) who are very sick; a lovely day with Nu at work (a run, lunch, long commutes) and also a silly fall (as far as I can tell from collecting my things for a meeting) that gave me a bruise spanning the entire inside of my arm.

This week brought me so many mixed feelings.

Pic: The amaryllis kit that AK gave me for Christmas bloomed spectacularly--three giant blooms and one waiting in the wings.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

the bitterness of mustard seeds


"Men!" she says, rolling her eyes
sputters: "Think--even the Buddha causes suffering."

I heed her assembly of outrage
the mustard seeds going off like grenades in the pot

it is true, yes, no one is to blame
Where do you keep scars? Can he see or imagine hers?

See her desire colliding with his wisdom
see her as the collateral damage of this one's own theology 

He might say it's nothing personal--it's true 
perhaps exactly what's missing, in his insistence on moving on  

on nights there is thunder, there is rain
I feel this whole world as an angry woman I do not blame

Thursday, March 24, 2022

puppy snuggles and cricket memories

It was national puppy day, I think? I'm late as usual. I love this one with Huck's arm draped around Scout's shoulder... they're both lying on my feet (of course!),  which is why I couldn't get a fuller shot.

I've picked up the contradictory habit of watching movies in episode-length segments (it goes nicely with my other weird habit of watching multiple episodes of a show at one go). 

Anyway, finished watching "83" (in about four segments) and enjoyed how much old cricket lore came back to me as I watched it. It's a typical underdog sports story, and bit overdone in some parts, but I enjoyed it and yelped in surprise and delight when the real Kapil Dev made a cameo appearance.

Some of the nicest days in my childhood were when "pavillion" tickets to a match (passed on by cricketeer uncles/dad's work/well-connected family) showed up and we'd be allowed to skip school to spend all day at the stadium. Being stuck at school when a big match was on was the worst: kids these days don't know the painful suspense of finding out the score from the tuck shop radio or having to depend on friendly teachers who could bring us the latest from the teachers' lounge TV.

Friday, March 18, 2022

running, running

Having grad school feels today, I guess. It's application decision time everywhere, and students, friends, wards are waiting to hear where they've matched at grad schools and residencies and internships. I did my part by trying to get the admin stuff for MacCurdy (the women's house I advise) done. In fact, formatting it all for the board took so much time that I forgot to run before my massage. 

My (teensy) puritanical streak dictates that I do something physically strenuous before a massage. I have to "deserve" it. Well, I showed up in my undeserving state, and it was still a great massage. And I guess my muscles hadn't turned to slush overnight, as R, the masseuse, asked if I wanted to run a 5K with them. Yes! I like R a lot--they remind me of my Nu--and I'm happy we have plans to run together. 

Lots of cozy chats with people in different timezones (JG, mom, sis, cousins, BS) and finally finished Badhai Do, the gay Indian film streaming on Netflix that everyone loved so much. I went in wanting to like it, but it didn't grab me right away (maybe because of the small town affect and aesthetics?) but by the time the obligatory pride parade rolled around, I was (predictably) in tears. 

Dinner and cuddles with Nu, Scout, and Huckie and then off to read in bed. Big A is at work still (sigh/sob).

Pic: Another 2008 picture of Nu, which brought joy/guffaws to people who needed it today. One of my favorites.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

the wearing (and eating) of the green


At came to dinner after ages, and although we don't "celebrate" St. Pat's day, I appreciate the Irish so much for their anti-colonial struggle, especially as they shared that liberally with the Indian freedom movement--there's a reason our flags are nearly identical, right? 

Anyway, I had a dinner of mostly green veg, Irish Champ, and green cupcakes ready, but Big A and At missed each other by seconds. Nu and At found an episode of Derry Girls to rewatch, and they picked the one with the Ukrainian exchange student because...


Photo: Our entryway Ganesha has been decked out in some gaudy green this month.




Sadly, the family photo isn't here 

Sadly, the family photo isn't here 
the child mounted the front steps
as his dad stepped into the garage 
in timing orchestrated sitcom style
time pleats like a fin on a paper boat

as today's yellowing sun is ripening 
they are learning in a city of twilight
how to travel on paper boats that trail
hellos and loves in their soggy wake, 
the ridges now closing over; just water


Saturday, March 12, 2022

and another one

Ok! 

I did it and it seemed to go well and it was very gratifying. Extra thanks to Nu, who helped me position and photograph slides and thanks to the two fellow panelists who said they'd already put in orders for the text I'd worked on. 

Also, I surprised myself by finding enough time to run 4 miles (a lot for me), pre-prep a stir-fry for dinner, check in with LB and KB and wash my hair. Sometimes a big event day has me shoving everything else aside, so this felt like a moment of growth. 

I rewarded myself by finishing the novel I'd been reading, and am unwinding in the bliss of not having to show up anywhere--in person or virtually--tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Twos-day!

For some reason, I've been so excited for today. I like palindromes and liked learning "ambigram" and was plain delighted that today existed.

I guess all the coincidences of the day had something to do with today's mid-soak epiphany that the Tamil endearments "thane-y" and "maane-y" translate handily to "honey" and... "deer" (not "dear"). 

____________________________________________________________________


A Sonnet on Coming Halfway Across the World

For we are everywhere a palimpsest of us
and the karma and the kismet of meeting 
is multiplied by the distance of continents
fussy with farness, a dance of catastrophe. 
What if we should fail at loving each other;
what if language cleaves us with difference?

 It was in childhood I first heard of love--
on the radio, songs speaking endearments
in Tamizh, singing O thaneY, O maaneY...
these cupped invitations that connect us:
thaneY is... honey; maaneY is... deer, but
still homonym enough to arc from error
to hope--like words I carry as souvenirs--
we two/too are alike, steadfast, and dear. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

(before my parents' arranged marriage)

When my mom was trying hard to be my best friend
(so I too would share, so I wouldn't decide to die)
she once told me how in the late sixties
she'd take the 21 bus from her college
to go "flirt" at the university library

Heading home meant rules and four younger siblings 
(and college was only to make her marriage worthy)
so she'd stay back to read trashy novels 
knowing dudes were watching her 
from neighboring desks

I feel a flicker for mom in her carefully pressed saris
(pressed under her mattress if she missed the dhobi)  
knowing she'd never be allowed to work
using the few years she had
for freedom, for fun

she told me she never looked directly at any of them
(I mean, that would be to risk a bad reputation) 
but there was one bespectacled dude
who seemed a very serious type
she didn't know his name

graduation results went up, and he asked how she did 
(she was too taken by surprise to counterfeit, so)
she told him she got a third class--i.e. a "C"
he turned on his heel--and she laughs-- 
she never saw him again

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

anniversary!

The anniversary of our first date! Who knew on that epic first date like... decades ago when we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and hung out all day eating in three-four different places that we'd still be celebrating all these years later. We usually do a long walk, but we're both on deadline and the day threw us some surprises, so we went for a "Downton" before dinner in the backyard instead. (Nu grabbed a couple of pictures of us!) 

I think I used to write about those early days long, long ago. In other news, I miss NYC.  

In very serious news, which I've shoved to the back of my consciousness in order to function, my sister texted to say my mom has just tested positive for Covid (but not my dad... yet). Dreading the next few days.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Pongal-O-Pongal

We're a couple of days late, but today was the day I could gather the kids for a Pongal celebration. It was a brilliant day to honor the sun... our second snow Pongal. And at least we got to celebrate it this year...

I've always loved Pongal, amongst many other reasons, for giving me a second chance at beginning afresh. And I definitely need it this year. 

My mom calls the sun "pratyakshadeva"--the god who makes himself visible to us every day (not necessarily in Michigan, but you know...) and I love that. 

I have to say, Hinduism comes back to me in unpredictable ways...  Klara's literal sun worship in Ishiguro's Klara and the Sun didn't strike me as odd at all because I've been there. Ha.

Friday, January 07, 2022

"Powerful beyond stage and screen"

My parents were such huge fans of Sir Sidney Poitier, they had us kids watch all their favorites on VHS. 

I must have thought of them as documentary, so imagine my horror and surprise when I got to the USA and realized that racism hadn't been neatly resolved decades ago.

But in these past decades, I've come to appreciate what an amazing trailblazer he was even "beyond stage and screen" as Bernice King notes. 

Rest in Power, Sir.

__________________

Vaguely related: I gave At this this Desmond Tutu apron for Christmas and the Rev. died the very next week; At gave me this edition of In the Heat of the Night and now Sir Sidney is no more. How jinx-y are we?

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

an international call

 


If you called my extreme condition: you might 
diagnose sister love--but do you know  
about the side effects

when my phone tells me it's her calling
--nausea, dry mouth, anxiety, 
shortness of breath

she knows this and inserts a subject line 
even as I--"hello?" "All's well, Akka,
I just called..."

 international calls are ordinary yet hide
like a virus inside information 
 finding a way to threaten

despite the softness of my sister's voice--
noisy futures sometimes dance 
alongside the old world 

international calls will make me watch--
make me guess who'll partner next 
parents, cousins, other loves

"I just called..." she says "one million cases..."
she says "I wanted to tell you all
 to be safe and careful."

Of course there's no way to be careful enough
(home is: a high school student,
a fast food worker, an ER doc)

I'm in the literal woods now (the metaphorical 
end of the sea), until the sun unhooks itself 
from a cloud shaped like a headache

and sails into the sky without even a cough
just this high, bright, and bored god
bearing messages--but not for me

-----------------------------------------------
Pic: Sunrise at Baker Woods. The phone rang as I was taking this picture, and I panicked when I saw it was my sister as it was kind of an unusual time for her to call me. She was calling because we--the U.S.--topped over a million NEW Covid infections yesterday. She wanted to ask the family to be safe and careful. But how? 

Sunday, December 19, 2021

trance


it's like breezes open my mouth
to pour in 
salted happiness

but how well do I know myself?
sleep (do not) want to sleep

so tonight becomes a cartwheel 
of love on sliding sands

the glow of my amma, dad, uncle, 
aunt, and sister at a bonfire

the rap of waves half a world away
in harmony with my heartbeat

and here's me waiting for something 
wild    to wish me goodnight

------------------------------------------
Pic: Picture of sunrise on the beach (Bay of Bengal) from a trip mom, dad, and Chelli took to visit VM and AA. 

Saturday, November 27, 2021

for you too may have / questions about this story


                                                                             
                                                                      the tongue a knife probing                                          
our mom didn't tell this story 
till she was safe home again
how traveling to Chennai 
in the rains--she said--they 

                            the cleft palate of memory 
couldn't tell which was river 
which was road... and then 
went skidding into a ditch...
thanks to the gods--she said--

                           the smile tucked up in secret
thanks to all the gods some
villagers were passing and
they were kind and pushed
our car back onto the road  

                            the lips nudged into detail
then softly: but... they said
some mean things in Tamil 
like uncle is a terrible driver 
who shouldn't have a big car 

                             the gummy words murderous
even more softly: aunty and I 
were in the car, so they said
look at those fatty gundechis
just sitting on their bottoms

                             the mouthful of arguments
But I still told uncle we should 
reward them, give some... thing?
But he said no, that wasn't fine 
they might ask for more next time

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I know the generosity of Tamil people well. When I was pregnant with At, people would keep offering me food even if all they themselves were eating was a paper cone of sundal or peanuts. I am beyond horrified-ashamed-saddened that my family didn't offer anything--payment/a ride/money for coffee-tiffin to the people who may have saved their lives in the middle of a cyclone. (The cheeky, irreverent humor checks out too.)

starting over

Once in a while, I'll come across a piece of art--even something Nu has decided to throw away like this piece... And I'll be overcom...