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

Friday, November 19, 2021

Karthika Deepam In Michigan

So I got my own lights festival after all 😁. KB drove down from Alma and took me to see the tree lighting downtown. Huge crowds everywhere, a lovely full moon, a lit up capitol building, a sparkly nondenominational tree, and holographic fireworks.

I'd been panicking on what to do about dinner since I would get home after five, but Big A stepped up and made his amazing Brazilian seafood soup and his famous tapioca pao and then Kate brought homemade chocolate macarons (with cardamom! because I'm Indian!) and we feasted.

I know some very good people. And they make delicious things.
 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

pooja-fun

I'm heartsore I cannot be in Pondycherry ("is it full of ponds and cherries?" baby cousin A asked once) tomorrow. 

The pooja is tomorrow, but I bet everyone's already assembling now--finding empty bedrooms, screeching helloes, making plans, and having so much fun for Kartika. As Big A reminded me so helpfully yesterday, it is unlikely that I will ever be able to be at Kartika pooja because it's such a busy time in the academic year. 

We usually did the big festivals like Diwali and Pongal at home or with the other side of the family, but the November full moon festival was always the big event for all the cousins on my mom's side. For many years after I came to the U.S., my favorite aunt would sweetly save the turmeric-soaked wristlets for me to pick up on my next trip home, but I haven't been back in years at this point. The nostalgia is hitting hard this year.

Baby cousin B has been sending pictures on cousin chat to keep me in the loop. This picture has so many of my favorite things--the sea, the little Ganesha temple, the tulsi maadam, the new swimming pool, the effortless green everywhere... Gah. I just wish I could be there for at least 24 hours.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

the soft dark


Darkness feels deafening tonight. A student at Nu's school has been missing since last week. I do not know this young person or their family, but many of my local friends do. When I asked Nu if they'd seen the missing child recently, they said that they hadn't "in years." That was such a stark reminder that disappearance comes in many forms. 

I caught a picture of this close to full moon through our skylights just before bed--darkness, shadows, dead leaves, and all... it was nevertheless a kind reminder that in an another part of the world, huge numbers of my family are gathering to celebrate the Karthika full moon soon.

Monday, November 08, 2021

Shanti Bhavan

This is near Bangalore where my sister is... An amazing story of students overcoming--honestly--unimaginable odds. Here's one:

     "The mango juice tasted funny.

That's how Kusuma started her personal essay when applying to U.S. colleges this year.

Kusuma was then 3 years old. She had 2 older sisters. They lived with their mother, who was raising her 3 daughters on her own.

The family traveled from village to village in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, hiding from money lenders who often threatened them with violence. "For years, I had struggled alone, desperate to feed my kids," says Kusuma's mother, Yashodha.

After a long and tiring day, her mother offered all three girls the juice. Then she drank some herself.

"My sisters and I happily gulped it down, ignoring the tingling sensation on our tongues," Kusuma wrote. "I remember my mother was crying, and after we finished our juice, she gave each of us a kiss and told us to go to bed. I woke up in a hospital bed with a tube in my throat. Later, I learned my mother had laced the mango juice with pesticide in an attempt to take our lives and her own."

Saturday, September 18, 2021

people-ing

A long walk-talk with KB yesterday; I begin to feel I can handle the world again.

Early morning chat with my sister; figuring out all the things on our list for this year--many of them impossible without a passport (which I don't yet have as everything's so backed up). But she makes plans seem possible anyway.

Midday yoga in the forest with Nu and L on either side of me; a sort of peace washes over me.

Garden party at our place this evening; the comfort of sharing food with CF, SB, SD, and AH and others. 

Talking to strangers on an FB Golden Doodle page about Scout's difficulty walking; lots of new things to obsess over and bring up with doc/E.R. visit in 48 hours.

Baby cousin K and her partner J arrive tomorrow; I get to spoil them. 

Monday, September 13, 2021

instant classic


I smile every time I look at this picture of mom and her siblings weak with laughter (I bet it was something my uncle said) at my aunt's 60th birthday weekend.

And I love that this picture was taken by my baby sis who dutifully took tons of pics because I couldn't be there.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

birthdays and first days


It's my grandmother's birthday today, so this picture of her just before she got married at 16 has been doing the rounds on cousins' chat. As has something I wrote long ago.

First day of classes today... I panicked hard yesterday, despite having taught in person all of last year. But the usual combination of over prepping and the endorphin-adrenalin rush of being in front of a class kicked in and all was well. Finished up work with a small reception at the president's house for being on a search committee that met all summer long.

When I got home, Big A was napping ahead of a work-night, At was off canvassing, Nu was in the basement knuckle-deep in a paint project for a class. So I grabbed my Culver's dinner from L's fundraiser for Peacequest, queued up some Felicity on ye olde laptop, and ate with Scout and Huck for company. 

A bit of an anticlimactic end to the day, TBH. 


Monday, August 30, 2021

check-in

I video chatted dad for his birthday last night (by myself, it was already morning in Bangalore) and this morning (with the rest of the fam). Video calls are better than audio-only calls, because it's easier for dad to understand what we're saying when there's visual context. I wish I could have been there. I miss my parents.

<<<Amma sent me this picture of a long ago beach day--I guess the beach has always been a happy place for me. When I showed this picture to At and Nu, they chortled at tiny me. One of them claimed: "It's like you took your face and put it on a child's body." I mean, I was a child once.

It's EM's birthday too (just goes to show how astrology doesn't work as she's nothing like my dad!) and BS's first day as a prof. so I took them cake to sweeten their special days.

The rest of the day has been little fires and email fire-fighting and finishing up final edits and diagnostics... classes start tomorrow! I'm my usual mixture of yikes+yippee.

Saturday, August 28, 2021

I find myself falling




I have tried falling down
the way you used to 
whole flights at a time
it's impractical

how it now reminds me 
of my grandfather
atoning what he'd done
--it's typical

what you did for laughs
he did because 
he'd left mother crying
made invisible

all the mislaid expiations
in search of love
where we are, the border
of admissible 





Pic: I turned in some stuff in on... Submittable. Ha.

Friday, July 30, 2021

today in vignettes

An early morning walk with L after SO MANY days. Between her travels and mine, it's been way too long. The Radiology Gardens (where I snapped this pic) had a fundraiser, and we bought a giant planter of coleus each and lugged it around with us.

At took me to the car dealership earlier in the morning to drop Bluey off for a two-year service. When the check-in person asked if I needed a loaner or a ride back home, I felt so proud telling them that I "brought my son." The son in question was amused that when he stopped to get gas, I hopped out to help him, but was so lost around all the slots and buttons after two years of plugging in Bluey.

A boozy cousin B called as we were getting dinner on the table. A bunch of cousins are getting together at his new beachhouse in Pondicherry and he MISSED me. I've been seeing pics on cousin chat since, and everyone is talking about a big reunion in December. Today I'm pretending (even to myself) that this might actually happen.

And today is officially the day Nu picked their new name. We had tried a name that started with "N' for a while. But then one day as I was getting dressed, I saw Big A's money clip with his initials, and the thought that At would be able to use it one day slipped into my mind...  I wanted that for Nu too. Nu's new name begins with "A" too, so they'll still be the "Baby A" who debuted here in 2007. And even better, it kind of starts the same way as their old name, so I can course correct before I reach the end and avoid slip-ups. 

Thursday, July 29, 2021

our mother would hate this poem

I dreamed I was listening to my
parents' fight from decades ago 
when they were fighting always
and always passive-aggressively

my father sounding patient
my mother sounding smart

neither of them listening to each other...
from our room: my sister and I listened,
grading them--not on how right or wrong 
they were, but how not mean they were.

our mother lost our ratings
for our father lost the fights

afterwards, he wouldn't talk to her for days...
every time she happened to be in the room,
he'd be whistling or humming something 
to show how he didn't care and didn't hurt--

like at all--not even a little bit
even we kids didn't buy it



Monday, July 12, 2021

island times


Off to San Juan Islands --> 
Friday Harbor --> 

Day tripping to Cattlepoint, the lighthouse, lawn games, barbecue, dancing, laughing and snarking on cousins' old Chennai stories about 27D (bus # not Apt. #), cousins learning to play the parai, slideshows, baby cousins, laser-point astronomy demos, and chatting until I fell asleep on someone's couch... 

I have this seascape with the seagull on "loop" mode on my phone and know that I'll come back to this when I need a mental/emotional breather.


Saturday, July 10, 2021

Loveliness


It has been magical. This gathering of happy faces and hugs... congratulations, commiserations, reminiscences, and sweet sillinesses. Turned out, seeing A+M getting married was the cure to my pandemic year.

So much group dancing practice, group dancing, dancing with Big A. Turns out I still remember all the words to the Spice Girls, and when the DJ slipped into Bohemian Rhapsody for a minute, Big A and I promptly decided... it was a slow dance. Ha. 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

weather or not

Rain again today; lots of it! But we snuck some other stuff in there as well. 

Met up with DD and TD who are visiting Lansing after 15 months for a walk outside and a catch up. 

Pride Parade was rained out, but the kids and I went to Salus Center's open house and my gay babies got some merch to supplement the stuff they got at our in-home pre-Pride party yesterday. 

I made "leftover rice" for dinner (rice from Indian takeout; bean and corn salsa + tomato, cilantro, and onion salsa from our pre-Pride-party's "rainbow nachos;" veggie sausage, seasoned potatoes, frozen veggies, a pinch of garam masala, and a couple of teaspoons of ghee... voila).

Then the weather alert system started going off on the radio and our phones, and tornado sirens started up too, so we all trooped into the basement (Scout and Huck anxious, Big A needing to sleep before work) for an hour and half of weather-mandated family time 😅😂.

[Pic: We found this highly apropos duo of national flags outside Salus! My parents were so delighted by this photo 😇.]

 

Monday, June 21, 2021

old school laughter


to sit down with strangers talking talking
talking, the sun stunning in its brilliance 
like our laughter, sounding like we never 
heard of hurt, happy as an escaped key
I start, you finish, then we restart again  

the sisters say: "quiet now, settle down"
they turn their backs, snort their grace
and then we're off on one more round... 
odd how though it's made only of sound
laughter never loses its meaning--or place

[Pic: Waterlilies at MSU Radiology Gardens]

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Fathers' Day*

The kids and I called my dad last night (already Fathers' Day in India) while my sister was making him a "full English breakfast." Everyone was super excited and happy and talking over each other and couldn't hear very well. My dad legit couldn't hear us, I suspect 😞.

At and Nu took Big A brunch in bed and got him a couple of cans of the beer he likes and a very VSCO beer cozy. They said all they knew walking into the store was that the kind Big A likes had fish on the logo... they nailed it.

Pic: My one fancy nursery planter splurge didn't make it too long before it was colonized by a family of house sparrows in the most beautiful, mossy nest I've ever seen. But now the baby birds have flown and I am going to see if I can rejuvenate the planter.

* I'm going to punctuate it this way and not this.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

third wave


A lovely start to the day, going up the riverwalk with L... Then a chat with my sister who said that a third wave is expected in India by the end of the year... After that, everything felt very off for the rest of the day. 

I made a summer soup for dinner in the InstantPot (stove's still not working), but left everyone to their own devices and put myself to bed with a bar of chocolate.

Sunday, June 06, 2021

a two-hike kinda day

I needed TWO hikes today.  

First was the usual one with L, getting to the MSU gardens just as the sun was beginning to skim the tops of the waterlilies and set off the frogs like blobby, plopping fireworks. 

Later, I managed to somehow ruin the stove when some lentils boiled over. Now I wouldn't be able to make the raw mango dal, a summer staple from my childhood. I made do by microwaving the chunks of mango and adding it to some canned cannellini beans. A heaping spoonful of turmeric, the tadka I'd made earlier, and a good potato masher... and I could imagine it came from a kitchen long, long ago untouched by canned beans, a potato masher, or a microwave. L showed up like a lifesaver bearing an electric skillet she had in her basement, and I used it to make aloo parathas later. 

I'm glad I made it to Ted Black Woods with BS after all that. The woods were lovely and deep--as was talking to B. I needed that.

(L doesn't mask outdoors, B does; I am ok taking my cues from whatever my companions are comfortable with now.)

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

minding the gap




I think about this a lot; and I feel a lot of guilt and sadness. The panic some of my school friends in India are feeling about their kids being ineligible for vaccinations (because too young and thus unprioritized in the face of vaccine shortages) hurts even though I can access vaccines for my own kids.

I'm also dismayed--In an interconnected world, none of us is safe until all of us are safe.


Saturday, May 29, 2021

At's graduation redux!


At is in graduation robes again, the sibs are wearing ties, we got grandparents and family on FaceTime/WhatsApp...

It was a bit chaotic and didn't go completely as planned, but this international photoshoot is the closest we're getting to a graduation party this year.

🙂

s/unlit

In the midst of mounting excitement about the start of the new school year, it was a shock to hear two people who'd been at the college ...