Tag Archives: gratitude

Turning 10: 2006–2016

26 Jan

Truesday Tales is on break this week, for the following reason:

I’m trying to remember whether there was snow on the ground that day. I know it was bitingly cold, the sky was a glorious winter blue, the sun shone like a superstar who couldn’t acknowledge his best days were behind him, and my biggest concern was fitting all my precious shoes into two suitcases as I readied to begin a new chapter in the country of my birth.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, I casually wrote a post called Shoes Blues. I even uploaded a picture, because that’s what you were supposed to do, nobody only read words. All of two people looked at the post, not counting myself. Who knew what this whole blogging thing was, anyway? It was January 26, 2006, and life was about to change big time. Only, I didn’t know back then that it was the blog that would propel the biggest changes of all and remain my steadiest constant over the next decade. A page I goofily christened Wisdom Wears Neon Pajamas, after the bright orange Eddie Bauer pjs I happened to be wearing that very minute. Yes, imagination has always been my strong suit.

It would be interesting to look back at my journey since: the amazing highs, the stressors only a twenty-something can handle without turning grey, the lessons that chiseled away at me, the teachers, nasty and kind. But I’m on a tight clock with a wakeful baby and don’t want to sound like a granny reliving her heyday. I’m a steady sort, a creature of habit. I’ve had the same bestie for 21 years. Ditto favorite authors and hairstyle. I like my coffee exactly the same each morning, and only the Boy’s surprises aren’t stressful for me. So it’s not really a whoa moment for me that this blogaroo baby has lasted a decade, because it’s been such fun! Really, such fun. It married words and community and fresh ideas from some terribly sparkling minds. And gifted me friendships. A solid, warm, sustaining sisterhood. So much gratitude to the universe for it all!

This blog isn’t going to last another decade. I have my doubts about the end of the year. But that’s okay, because everything has its time, and other platforms were bound to shunt out this early form of self-expression. So pardon me if, between the books I race to catch up on and the simmering something on the stove (hey, can’t have a birthday post without an alliteration!) and Herr Toddlemeister’s shenanigans, we don’t exactly party here anymore. But thanks for all the fish. For reading, chiming in, telling me that you exist. For seeing the heart on my sleeve and treating it gently. Funnily enough, only a clutch of folks in my offline life know that I have a blog, and that’s exactly how we’re going to keep it, you and I. 😉

To 10! It’s been a whopper of a journey. See you next week for Truesday Tales?

Bear hugs and neon confetti,

Still in Pyjamas

 

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What A Difference A Year Makes

24 Nov

A year. It’s been a whole 365 days since this happened and I played a cheesy Disney song to announce it.  Clearly, I’m not going easy on the cheese anytime soon, for here’s a letter I wrote my baby today, on his 1st birthday, as I watched him sleep and plotted how to sneak in a few kisses while he couldn’t protest. Thanks for being patient with my absence from this blog and coming along on this journey with me. Things will be more regular around here, fingers crossed, because we have a new series starting on the blog next week!

~

My precious pumpkin, Daddy’s titto tapeto, our babyjaan,
Today is a day I did not dream of. Blame it on your Mummy’s limited imagination. I couldn’t look past my pregnancy beyond the point of your birth. I knew the months that followed would be a whirl, a blur, and require all my resources, so your first birthday wasn’t something I actively thought about. Yet, here we are. And I’m short one infant and tall on a trailblazing toddler.

I have frequently wondered after having you why people (and parents in particular) focus so heavily on the hardest bits of those early months. They go on about sleep deprivation and 360 degree life changes. Nobody actively comes up to you and simply says this:
It will be more wonderful than you ever imagined.

And it has been. It is.
Except for 3 hellish days in the hospital at 9 weeks old, when you smiled at us through a haze of 103 degree fever, every day has been pure joy, every moment a blessing, every smelly diaper as fragrant as Kate Spade’s latest perfume. Okay, I kid about that last one.

From beaming megawatt smiles starting at 6 weeks to calling out to passersby in the park to charming a planeload of passengers, people are your thing. In your universe, there are no strangers, only babies and big people waiting for the immense privilege of showering Your Royal Divaness with attention. First-born much? To steal a line from Plath, you endow the sun with gold, our gleaming California raisin.

Before you arrived, I was convinced you would be your own person, with independent attributes and characteristics. So it came as a surprise (and a burgeoning sense of alarm) to see you were so like me. Not just the shape of my eyes and my poker straight hair and large flat feet, you have a giant dose of your mother’s rather… umm, wilful, voluble personality, and poor Daddy doesn’t know what hit him. Two fire signs in the house are a shade too much roaring for your patient, gentle father, the love of your life and clearly your preferred parent.

I am your dal chawal, your constant, your everyday. You can’t miss someone who won’t go away. But Daddy, he’s your tandoori chicken, the cherry atop the icing atop the butter sponge cake, and my gladdest, most contented moments this past year have been watching the two of you together, mock-wrestling, giggling, grabbing hair and collars and using Daddy’s ears as handles while perched on his shoulders.

You complete us in ways we never thought possible. Physically, Daddy and I are ready to retire and nap for 7 years. As late 30s parents, the relentless exhaustion of it all has taken a toll, to be honest. But we wouldn’t have had you at any other time. Because it is now that we are mature enough to enjoy you without sweating the small stuff, stable enough to be a team and provide well for you, and old enough to know what matters to us without getting into skirmishes with other parents on their opinions and preferences.

With the exception of your refusal to sleep through the night consistently, you’ve been an easy baby, doling out radiant smiles to everything in your path, staying on a schedule like a clockwork mouse, adjusting your own meal and nap times as you grew, and amusing yourself while I tended to chores. You are secure in the knowledge that you can roam free, Mummy is a mere grunt away at any given time, and I love how you look back to check for approval for just half a tick before you hurl yourself into new discoveries or at an unsuspecting person not used to your friendliness.

And this is what I wish for you today, my solitary-candled babe: Fly into this world that so fascinates you, fling your arms around it, I will ardently wish for it to love you back. And when you need the comfort of home, my sweet child, your dal chawal will always be waiting.

Happy birthday, mein Liebling. Mummy’s got the whole world in her hands. ❤

Lovelocked

11 Mar

January 31, 2013. 5.30 am. Silicon Valley.

The peal of my ringtone pierced the dark, as I groped in my sleep for the ‘phone. “They’re taking him in,” said a familiar voice at the other end. “I’m on my way,” I responded before the line went dead and adrenalin kicked in. Three hours later, I was buckling my seat belt as the aircraft taxied on the runway, ready to begin its transatlantic journey.

January 30, 2013. Time unknown. The Mumbai-Pune Expressway.

He was all of 28 and engaged to be married at the end of the year. His fiance was an ICU nurse at a prominent South Bombay hospital. That is all we know of him, other than the fact that the crash killed him instantly. And in his death, he gave a new lease of life through his organs to no less than five people, my loved one among them.

Present day. Silicon Valley.

It’s been more than two years since the incidents above. I’ve moved homes, switched jobs, acquired another car, waddled through a pregnancy, and now have an infant (yes, we graduated from Senior Newborn last month!) Yet, there has not been a day since January 31, 2013 that I have not blessed and thanked this young man’s soul for his generosity, foresight, and incredible humanity. There has not been a day since January 31, 2013 that I have not pondered on how to pay it forward. Finally, last November, two days before our Liebling made his appearance, I took the plunge.

Ever since I can remember, my hair has been a topic of discussion. Friends and strangers would admire it at social events, Daddy would be upset every time I cut it, guys in college wrote shayaris and poems about it, and you folks were so generous in your compliments even when it wasn’t the point of the post. I suppose I took it for granted, because I’ve always been somewhat indifferent to it, maintaining that it is my mum’s genes and father’s regular oiling–and nothing I did–that are to be credited. I’ve worn it long, short, and every length in-between. It’s been occasionally highlighted, been its natural color and texture for most of its life cycle, and kept generally clean but otherwise not particularly obsessed over. Even now, with a few strands of white in it, I feel no dismay, for it is but the natural progression of things and vanity is not among my many faults. And yet, I can imagine what it must feel like to lose it. To have to go out in public and have people stare because you don’t conform to the norm. To have the choice of whether to grow it long or chop it off taken away from you. And because I can give no other organ while I am alive, and really wanted someone to benefit from it, I decided to give away my hair to Locks of Love.

In May 2014. I was in my first trimester.

In May 2014. I was in my first trimester.

Two days before our son was born, the Boy, somewhat sad but supportive as always, drove me to the salon and my trusted stylist Stefanie took care of things.

In November 2014. Two days before our baby was born. I loved how wavy pregnancy made my otherwise straight hair!

In November 2014. Two days before our baby was born. I loved how wavy pregnancy made my otherwise straight hair!

It was quick, painless, and joyful. Some little one somewhere (or two, since Stefanie said it was a lot of hair) would have a wig of natural hair to make their cancer journey easier. A weight, both literal and metaphorical, had been lifted off my head. And the smile on my Boy’s face as I walked out assured me he approved as well.

Chop chop!

Chop chop!

That was more than 3 months ago. Since then, I’ve enjoyed my shorter, more manageable locks that gently graze my shoulders and keep out of my busy way. I’m grateful for the shorter length, since my baby has taken to grabbing strands with gusto. I may very well be as bald as him soon if this continues. And because childbirth has given me a newfound and immense respect for the human body, I will know better than to take it for granted when it grows back.

The purpose of this post is to share what’s been in my heart and on my mind, and to humbly request you to think about it as well. It is such a miniscule act in the face of that nameless young man’s charity that I would be embarrassed if you praised it. (So don’t!) Do think about being an organ donor. Each of us has the power to bestow life. And in the meantime, if all you have to give is your hair, you can now do it in India as well. Someday, it will age, grey, and fall off anyway. But as long as it’s healthy and on your head, you’ve got a lot more than a child who could do with some.

Have you ever committed to donating an organ? Please share in the comments section and inspire the rest of us.

And pssst! You guys are the first to know: I’m planning to grow it so I can do this again. 🙂

For Unto Us A Child Is Born

25 Dec

…Unto us a Son is given

~Isaiah 9:6-7

Nope, not referring to Jesus.

Tunneling through me in record time in a determined bid to flag off the holiday season, our wee Liebling made his entrance into the world last month. Specifically, into a room full of cheering nurses, an ecstatic daddy, a relieved doula,  and our darling gynecologist, who I am convinced is the planet’s most amazing doctor.

it's a boy

Was I in the room too? I suppose so. But somewhere halfway through that first wail, as he was lifted out of my body and I lay back relieved and thankful for not pooping after all, I suspect I ceased to exist in the way I had for 36 years. Without moving a muscle, my sense of self took a quiet step back, and I watched my heart float outside of me and lodge itself firmly into that tiny, wriggling body. This feeling, it isn’t love. It’s unadulterated biology. And us, we’re the mere puppets of a flipped switch.

I’d have burst into song, had I the energy and wherewithal after an intense labor sans pain medication, but this played in my head instead, and since I’m doing such a botched-up job of this birth announcement, I’m going to rely on good old Disney to convey my emotions:

Over the past month, I’ve been high on happy-making hormones. (Clearly, birthing a human does nothing to change pre-existing alliteration allergies.) Except for the day he turned a week old and I wept that he’d head off to college soon and leave us. Apparently, there are parents who stand outside their kids’ dorm windows and secretly follow them on their honeymoon and I don’t know why you’re looking at me that way, I’m only educating you about the world, really. I’d just watch over him from a safe distance. Of 3 inches.

In other news, these lines will never mean the same thing again:

  • Our father in heaven (He’s been turning cartwheels between burping sessions.)
  • Blood on the dance floor (Before the poop came the goop. Bleedin’ bucketloads of it.)
  • Ice ice baby (The nicest present the Boy has ever given me is a handmade icepack on our wedding anniversary, three days later. Heaven, heaven!!)

 

So there we have it. Seven years since the day we met and knew this was to be, we’ve been married four, moved continents, made a home and a life together in a gorgeous corner of the world, and created a person we hope will share our love of bacon and potty jokes. (What? Everybody has their dreams!)

Now excuse me while I take off to get my fix of milk-and-skin-and-mewling-and-spit-up. We hope you’ll wish us well and pardon erratic blogging behavior. There’s a little babe-on-a-nose that needs all our besottedness.

Merry Christmas! Joy to the world! Earth today rejoices!

Little Life, Giant Joys

5 Jun

Early last year, I began volunteering for a local nonprofit that supports literacy for visually impaired children in developing countries. This is where I was introduced to Sudha. Whip-smart, thoughtful, and uncannily perceptive, Sudha had arrived in the United States from India in 1998. She worked as an engineer in Silicon Valley (surprise, surprise!) until an event occurred that changed her life. Sudha began to lose her sight. The decline was steady and unstoppable, and soon, she could only perceive light and shade, and hazy shapes. Her condition compelled her to quit her profession and I can only imagine how challenging things must have been for the young family.

She took refuge in her immense faith in Sai Baba and spent her days supported and loved by her spouse, daughter, and giant circle of Baba devotees who popped in and out of her home all day to check on her, sing bhajans of praise, and volunteer for worthy causes. A magnet who was never short of goodwill or company, Sudha attracted well-wishers to her by the force of her optimism, faith, and incredible ability to deeply listen to words and the sentiments behind them.

In the course of our work together, we brainstormed, strategized, chatted, laughed and swapped unique cultural nuggets in the manner of people from very different backgrounds. I’d drive her to events, subjecting her to ‘80s American music that must be anathema to someone with a Carnatic vocal background. She’d laugh at my ardent meat-eating ways. I would rant about how most Indians simply don’t consider non-religious charity a part of citizenship. We would talk long and deep about karma, life purpose, and what drove us to believe in an underserved cause. A beautiful singer, she frequently lent her voice and heart to fundraisers for our nonprofit, singing devotional songs that made the audience choke with emotion. I, who didn’t know what a Hari Katha was before we met, was stunned at the energy she generated across the auditorium—not just through her vocal chords, but from a deeper, divine place.

In the later months of last year, I saw much less of her, engaged as I was with family weddings, visits, and travel. This past February, Sudha went to India for eye surgery and treatment, in the hope of improving her condition. The last few months have been a whirl of the everyday, and we weren’t in frequent touch. Until she called 2 days ago. Patiently, she heard all my news, getting excited over the small measure of positive updates I had to share. Finally, when asked how she was, she stated without fanfare–in typical Sudha style—that her surgery had been successful, and she could see her own hand!

Between my exclamations of delight and tears of gratitude and her quiet joy at this restored gift, she asked to see me—for the very first time.
“I want to see you, your face,” she said.
“There’s a lot to see!” I laughingly warned her.
And I haven’t stopped smiling since. We plan to meet next week, along with the wonderful colleague through whom we were lucky to be acquainted, and I can’t wait to celebrate this thrilling blessing that has me sniffling in gratitude and wonder and overall bleeding heart foolishness.

So each time you read about one more horrific rape, or yet another mass shooting, whether the California drought alarms you or the murder of innocents by right wing organizations makes your flesh crawl–or you’ve just had a decidedly crappy day and are perched high on your pity pot–think about Sudha and her miracle, and know that there is joy and justice on god’s good earth.

If you have a message for my friend and colleague, feel free to leave it in the comments space and I’m happy to relay it to her. Now hand me a tissue, will you? Unfortunately, through boon and bane, the consistency of snot remains exactly the same.

*deafening trumpet*

Aah. Much better.

Together

24 Jul

At the beginning of this month, I announced an unusual ‘giveaway’, where we were jointly involved in contributing and none of you knew who the recipient(s) would be. To my base pledge of $50, I would add $1 for every comment received on this post.

67 unique visitors to that post left their comment (one squeaking past the midnight deadline by 5 minutes 😉 ) and together, we raised $117. Sadly, 80% (yes, you read that right) of the unique visitors to that page chose not to share our enthusiasm, and I can only hope it was a logistical issue vs. one of attitude.

Why did I open this up to everyone when I could have quietly slipped my check in the mail, you ask? Why did I invite people from the blogosphere to share, knowing there would be some cynics, naysayers and indifferent folk? Put it down to a case of chronic optimism. Of knowing that it may be my money, but I need it to be OUR attitude. As much as I dislike being preachy and usually save my rather strong views on citizenship for other spaces, I know that alone, I am merely one person contributing to another’s life. Together, that effect multiplies manifold. You may not dash out with your checkbook or sign up to build stacks of sandwiches for the homeless just because of this small effort. You may already be doing things far greater than I will ever dream of. The money you may have raised for worthwhile causes will very likely have exceeded this humble amount we have gathered. But if I got you to think–for even a minute–about sharing yourself with the world, planted a seed about doing something similar or paying it forward in other ways, I’m going to bring out my giant feathered boa and do the chicken dance in circles. (No, I’m not ridiculous in the least, why do you ask?)

Our $117 will be pledged to Ummeed Child Development Center in Bombay, India. The stellar multidisciplinary team at Ummeed (consisting of physicians, occupational therapists, speech therapists, physical therapists, mental health counselors, special educators, caseworkers, etc.) works to serve the needs of children with disabilities across all economic strata. Not only do they work with existing disabilities, they work toward early identification and remedial measures, since disability is a gradient. Nobody is turned away for their inability to pay, and a sliding scale based on income helps families give what they’re comfortable paying. Autism, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, mental retardation, emotional/behavioral concerns, attention deficit disorder, and occupational and speech disorders are among a wide range of disabilities they assess and assist. Inclusion is a goal, as they aim to integrate children of all abilities into the social mainstream. Ummeed serves the needs of thousands of families in my home city that have nowhere else to turn. Try this statistic for size: One therapist can comfortably manage a caseload of 35 clients. In the city of Bombay, a megapolis where levels of healthcare far exceed the rest of the country, there are 500 children with disabilities per available therapist. The need exists acutely, yet funding is hard to come by.

I have worked for Ummeed in the past. Some of my closest friends continue to serve there. Which is why I have an insider’s view of a truly wonderful organization that has, for the past 12 years, been the ‘ummeed’ (hope) of so many families.

Thank you for visiting my blog, for joining in, for inspiring me with your comments, and for being the vocal 20% that acted to make a difference.

Together is better. Together, we’re better. Give yourselves a round of applause. And now jump in for a group hug! 😀

Turning Five + A Birthday Giveaway

1 Jul

Five eventful years ago, Little Blogette (a moniker so creative and original, it blew rings of neon smoke from the ears of all who heard it) made her debut with this post. As is wont to with a newborn, plenty of well-wishers came to oooh and awww and tinkle silver-and-pink rattles by her cribside. As is also wont to, by the time you’re done attending the 5th birthday party of a child whose cutest years are past her, you stagger out, topped up with delicious but predictable cake and a lame return present that looks suspiciously recycled.

So you’re off the hook with all the cutesy things fond parents expect to hear about their snot-faced little wide-eyed monster. But wait! I’m not quite done. If I have reaped the joys of connecting with so many of you over the years, if only through the limited interaction of a comment, a friendly email, or “Hi, I’m a lurker, okay bye!” kind of message, it’s time for me to pay it forward.

As a small gesture of gratitude for the sustenance of this blog and to show my appreciation to those of you who come back, year after year, I will be donating $50 to a non-profit organization of my choice, one whose work and cause I believe in and support. But HERE’S WHERE YOU COME IN:

For every comment received on this post, from the time it is published until midnight on July 15th, I will add $1 to the base amount on your behalf. So feel free to say hello, tell me you’re a lurker in your tiniest font and then vanish forever, share your favorite birthday memory, or….only if you want now, no pressure….wish this blog a happy, meaningful birthday. Multiple comments from the same IP address will not be approved, and yes, I’m so magical, I can tell. 😛 Comments are moderated, so don’t be concerned if you don’t see yours right away.

What do you get out of it other than warm fuzzies? I’m hoping it’s a chance to band together to offer the world a little humble something. And something is more than nothing, even if only in the number of letters it carries.

So tell your friends and family, sign in as Rumpelstiltskin-does-the-Hula for all I care, but don’t be shy, send some dollars this way! There are some fab organizations out there who could do with a leg up. And I’ll be sure to share details of the donation with you.

Oh, and before you leave, have a slice of lime tart, specially baked to celebrate the occasion.  You know what this means, don’t you? The Happy Hausfrau will be along to share the recipe soon. 🙂 Bon appetit, my friends, thank you for reading Wisdom Wears Neon Pyjamas and get clicking on that comment button!

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