Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Whatever it takes - to make a day better..

Day 18 Monday 3/30 and Day 19 Tuesday 3/31
The week began with a different Monday. Life as is, is getting used to the new norma or should I say may be we are adapting to the change. Monday without no rush feels so strange. Simple breakfast and simple lunch were OK and today somehow I don’t even remember what else I did. Evening was exciting as after grocery shopping our dinner was colorful. Ajey and I were happy in the kitchen. I promise it had nothing to do with the new Pinot Grigio Ashish got.
Tuesday morning wasn’t happy at all. I was up around 5, tried to sleep again but couldn’t. Then read a friend’s post and realized we all are going through similar emotions, the feeling of despair and loneliness. Sometimes accepting what we are going through becomes the remedy. I woke up sad but admit that it was a mixture of sadness, despair, frustration, anger and feeling lost. I needed that confrontation with these emotions for myself before comforting her. By 8.15 sun was shining again in my backyard with a promising day ahead. I went for a short walk and felt much better. Sun and fresh air, I think that’s all I needed.
One of my highschool classmates had a milestone Bday and I organized a group call, it was so much fun laughing with old friends. They were complaining about the 35+C weather in India, about how hot it was and here I was wearing gloves and hat, walking in 35F.

Anand’s MassBay classes are online now. Seeing him interacting with his classmates on Zoom was such a wonderful sight. My son was happy and enjoying the social interaction, that’s what he had been missing for the last 2 weeks. Finally he agreed that he will try to connect with a few of his other friends online. Let’s see if he follows up on that tomorrow.
Today 2 of my friends came and 3 of us sat in our car trunks and drank our own tea and chatted. More than 10 ft but it was so wonderful to be in the same vicinity.  Seeing each other in person was the highlight of the day.
Evening , after a quick nap, was a total waste because I did no cleaning or organizing. But today feels much better because Anand and I were good to each other. My son did pots and pans, loaded the dishwasher, did his laundry, walked and ate without fuss, loved the fish I made for dinner and told me how wonderful a cook I am. We didn’t argue over too much screen time. Let’s see if either of us can be kind and nice to each other tomorrow but tonight I am enjoying this feeling.
The morning mood needed something to change its direction - a hug, a kiss, a phone call, a text, a promise, a picture, a bribe, some laughs and hope for the next day and thereafter. I will take whatever I can get.
I hope your Wednesday will be kind to you. My wish for you is whatever it takes to change the direction of your crazy day and makes it a happier one.
I know its not the season but some memories have power to make things better for you.
Lunch on Monday - Fried rice  with Kala chana, snow peas and broccoli 
 Dinner was fancy - Stuff Pepper ( Potatoes and paneer filling),  chana dal ( Lentil) Avocado and cucumber and potatoes and mushrooms ( thank you air fryer)

A beautiful morning.
 Tea and social distancing - where there's a will there's a way
 Breakfast - Ajey - scrambled egg with paneer and broccoli.
Simple Rice with Chicken - wife busy with work call and husband decided to prep lunch.
The fish - happy anand and happier Mom
The rest of Pandey's get Gluten free roti, leftover lentil, fish and leftover pepper.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Until quarantine keeps us apart

The weekend Saga - 03/28 (Saturday Day 16) and 03/39 (Sunday Day 17)   

With a not so composed Friday evening, I decided to make it a better Saturday morning. Had a few things planned for Saturday so I knew it would be a socially (even with distance) busy day. We all know that we shouldn’t constantly talk about what is not right but it’s all over the news. Every conversation, every phone call is about that usually. Friday evening, during group call Divya had a very clear instruction that we should pay attention to what is blooming in our garden instead of talking about the pandemic. Sometime you need a Gardner friend, usually they are the first ones to notice the signs of spring. That’s what I did on Saturday, decided to let go the bitterness and anxiety and embrace the better side of it.The walk really did me good because I was looking for blooms not despair.
The usual Group FaceTime call with my high school and college friends was fun.
Some of the moms in my network baked bread together virtually. It was fun to see 7 of us on the Zoom screen, cooking and chatting. The same evening I had initiated a virtual Saree meet. 17 of us came together just to have fun. I wore a simple cotton saree for the meet. It’s amazing how the 6 yrds can change everything around you. With a cup of chai and girlfriends on the screen it was just awesome. I so wanted to continue the vibe of the day so decided to make dinner fun.  Ordered take out, that too Indian, so not like the Pandeys.
Some people, some conversations have the power to make your day. My Sunday morning was one of those. Thankful for love and laughter in my life.
Ashish decided to do the grocery shopping today so the afternoon was about sorting and cleaning the stuff. We can feed an army for some time now . If you want freshly cooked food, 1234 Pond St is your place :) ( sending you to the neighbors:)
The Hindi Manch had the Virtual Poetry meet this evening. I did what I would do in the usual program, got dressed in a saree, recited Faiz and enjoyed seeing my friends. Technology has really made social distancing less painful. Talking to family and friends in India I am realizing that being at home 24*7 with more work and less help can be difficult. Some of us are making the best of it and some are having a very difficult time. A friend joked that after this epidemic is over we will see a lot of babies and the real faces of many relationships.
What are you doing to get through the day? What is keeping you sane and what does family means to you now? 

What are you doing to get through the day? what is keeping you sane? and what family means to you now? 
Years ago Papa got this saree from Mehndiwada, a small weaver village near Balaghat, the town I grew up in. Love the simplicity of this saree,  matched with this bright blouse. 

Thank you Divya for forcing us to look at the better side.
 This was a lunch somewhere, I didn't take picture of my lunch, I wish i was having this for my lunch though, so love sandwiches. 
full drama - and Boys were like can we just eat, disposable plates will do too.
 Candlelight dinner :) Life gives you lemon- you better make margarita and invite me.
 Rainy Sunday, Who cares, all dressed for Poetry meet.
 शाम--फ़िराक़ अब पूछ आई और आके टल गई
दिल था के फिर बहल गया, जाँ थी के फिर सम्भल गई
जब तुझे याद कर लिया, सुबह महक महक उठी
जब तेरा ग़म जगा लिया, रात मचल मचल गई
Reciting Faiz - a friend took this screen shot :) Lesson leant- find a better spot in the house.

 आज फिर उनका सामना होगा
क्या पता उसके बाद क्या होगा
दो क़दम पर सही तेरा कूचा
ये भी सदियों का फ़ासला होगा
-सबा सीकरी

Saturday, March 28, 2020

All we need is -'Something" to keep us going. Find what is "that" for you.

Day 14 and 15 ( 03/26 Thursday and 03/27 Friday)

After Wednesday’s storm Anand and I were getting better on Thursday. Anand was getting adjusted with the idea of routine. We both promised to be kinder and nicer to each other. Restricted screen time is on for now, let’s see how many day it lasts.
Thursday and Friday were kind of letting things go days. my sink could remain full of dishes until Anand did it. The clothes are still not back in the closet and I am shamelessly spending time on computer or TV. making sure we all are showered and not staying in our pajama’s - thats more important than washed dishes.
We all are walking on our own mostly but walking with Ashish is becoming highlight of that day. Thursday was one of those days.
Thursday Morning Ashish made Poha for breakfast. a big pan. it could be our breakfast, lunch and dinner may be. I decided to make it breakfast for 3 days. Lunch was simple sandwich and dinner was fried rice by Ajey.
I have started making groups for video chat. Cousins and school friends, college friends, families from both side. It has been fun. India lockdown is helping in many ways. Everyone is home and have nothing much to do. and somehow they didn’t think of doing this so my idea was very welcome. Started with 4 people of what’s app chat to 8 of us on google hangout.
Watched  “Aftermath” and still wondering what was I thinking, I just couldn’t finish the whole movie. Time to find something better.

Friday was very tough on me. I heard about a couple in our community being hospitalized. Its been going on for last couple of weeks but not it hit home. I was keeping track of numbers too and was very depressing to see its growing. Nothing helped my mood. I think I really need to hear something good everyday to keep its going and keep me sane.
The high school friends group was fun chat. we all agreed not to talk about the bad news and focus on whatever good we have around us.
Ran the idea of sending our “bad boys list” to a friend who is a boss in Police. On the name of “144” she can take our revenge :) we all laughed and made fun of old days. and promised to meet soon in person.

Stuck at we all need chai and something stronger to survive everyday so made Chiwada to go with it. forgot to take picture of Dal I made for dinner. I think the words  are all over the place like my mind. Played Jagjit Singh for a little bit before I hit the bed and that was helpful.

Hoping for a better weekend. 

Last summer I spent a day in CapeCod, I was at the beach early in the morning, just to feel and see the view from life guard chair. I still remember the calm. JS playing on my phone, no-one around and sitting that high I felt how beautiful the world is. Today I so want to hold on to that feeling.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Be there for people who need you, you are their "togo person" for a reason

This series started as a journal for my mom and sisters. everyday FaceTime and call were not enough for her I guess. My parents were concerned and distance and 24 hours news channel were not helping either So I decided to write. Lot of moms from my group reached out to me that i should keep writing for them as it was keeping them connected. 

Day 12 (03/24)  and 13 (03/25)
We hear so much about social isolation and its impact on us. I have learnt and experienced so much in the last two weeks and believe that many things are not true. No one knows or can predict about it’s impact unless you experience it.
I thought I would be the one going crazy, won’t be able to get anything done, waste my time doing nothing, will watch too much useless TV or listen to lot of music.
Well a few things happened and a few didn’t . 
I didn’t go crazy, actually I did enjoy the quiet, didn’t watch too much TV but sure wasted too much time on Facebook and WhatsApp . I am NOT listening to music as before. With 3 more individuals at home I cannot blast music as I did in the past. I am not meeting friends, missing them for sure, but finding ways to stay connected. I am much better knowing they are just a phone call away.
But yesterday was tough. Anand and I were on two different sides of the world. We both were not listening to each other, were angry and demanding. Nothing was making sense and I was very helpless and frustrated and needed some comfort talk and guess what - felt very lonely and helpless. But we survived the outburst and today was another day. I think the situation, no routine and structure and social isolation is creeping up on him now. He is the one who is feeling it most. 

So yesterday was a tough day but we got through it. I decided to make some changes so the evening was much better today. Had cooked a lot on Monday so we survived yesterday and today on leftovers. Cleaned the bathroom cabinets in these two days. The best part was delivering books to two friends. We maintained social distancing, sat far apart and talked for 10 mins, dropped the books for kids. Happy that  books went to a place they are needed. Somehow I could convince Anand to get out of the house with me. We were out for almost two hours driving so it did us both some good.

It was Gudi Padwa, Hindu New Year. I am not a religious person but a couple of friends posted pictures of saree and food. I think I just needed a reason to wear a saree and uplift my mood. I didn’t even wash my hair today, neither put on any lipstick or kajal but a simple cotton saree was just enough to make me happy.

I wore the saree I got from Vimor a couple of years ago. I had taken ma papa with me, so it has papa’s stamp of approval. Love my dad’s choice. Thick cotton with rudraksh border,it is from Vimor’s  Indira Collection.
We heard today schools are out till May 4th. I have a feeling our kids are staying home longer than that. We really need something more than online classes for them. 

Hoping for a better Thursday. Stay healthy, Stay safe and please reach out to people who may need you. 

These are my togo people when I am all over the place. 
 The breakfast - multitasking 
and my clothes are on the floor, the best way to "punish" mom, tomorrow's todo list
 Did I need a friend to hold me together or a saree, a million dollar question.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Pay it forward - more than ever..

Sunday and Monday 3/22 and 3/23-  day 10 and 11
Sometimes some comments, conversations force you to look closely at yourself. Sunday was one of those days when I was so not in my element, everything was foggy and messy. 
I was up by 3.30 am and just couldn’t sleep afterwards. After browsing the news, WhatsApp and facebook I just didn’t know what to do. Decided to go grocery shopping and I was in Market Basket by 6.35 am. Imagine me on a Sunday morning, shopping in MB in my PJ’s. Everything was so not me. But that’s what this situation has made us. A friend simply commented about sleepless nights, that it’s a very difficult time for outgoing people and it’s important for them to have people around or meet them because it pleases them and if they are not able to do that, it feels awful and they are actually miserable in this situation. 
I was surprised because I didn’t think I was miserable for that reason. I still think we define people in a way we are used to, like stereotyping them. Extroverts feel this way, introverts feel that way.So it forced me to analyze how I was doing.
I did pretty well the last two weeks, I was among the early Work From Home people, I did enjoy my days at home when Anand was in school. Less arguments with him about screen time and no structure. I knew it could be bad for me and I am one of those people who cannot afford to feel down otherwise I will make everyone around me miserable.
So early on I knew I have to take care of myself. I maintained the routine, walked, connected with family and friends and forced myself to do something everyday - cleaning and watching something on TV were added to the schedule.
BUT I was miserable that one Sunday. Sleep deprivation  messes up everything. I just couldn’t do much, was groggy ,finally took a nap, a long one and that messed up my night, but it taught me a lesson to maintain the routine and above all be happy.
Sunday lunch was chef Ashish’s noodles and dinner was everything leftover. Before that I needed something strong to make my evening better so a beer and freshly made Mathari made the evening a lot better than the rest of the day. I watched a movie “A good guy” and two episodes of Little Fires Everywhere. The Romcom didn’t do any good and neither this social drama. I thought I used to enjoy these two genres but apparently I am becoming a TV snob. They really have to be good for my time.
I went to bed promising I will wake up to a better Monday. So I did. Work was busy but manageable. Had a talk with a colleague. It was interesting to hear her side. I suggested we should check on everyone from time to time.
I have been doing that with family, close friends and Moms from the Moms Network. Today I am expanding that to my Saree group. I think we all need to do our share - breaking the stereotype and doing what we are expected to do and some of what we are not expected to do. Just be a little happier, more accommodating and just a little bit out of our comfort zone to help someone.

It’s a snowy Monday, Governor Baker  has declared the “stay-at-home" advisory and looks like we are in it for a longer haul. Please be kind, be patient, reach out to people you love and also reach out to whom you didn’t. They also need your kindness. Take care of yourself and at the same time pay it forward. Pick up the phone and let someone know you love them, you need them in your life and they matter.

Ajey enjoying walk in snow. I need that determination
My Sunday morning in Market Basket. Employees were calm and polite. I did thank the manager for keeping things in order.
 Ashish Special - meatballs, Noodles and salad Lunch
 A scene from my afternoon walk
 Crabby Sunday needed to end on a better note. Freshly made Mathari (मठरी) with a beer.
 then everything leftover dinner
The sight in the morning, Anand the dishwasher. He is getting better everyday.
 Broccoli Chicken fried rice - Chef Ajey
And the dinner was Shrimp Curry with Asparagus and Gluten free roti.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Sometimes all you need is a connection - whatever kind it is.

Day 8 and 9 03/20 and 03/21
My Bday story was all about celebration. What I skipped was the ending of the day. I was on a community call at 9 for more than an hour and a half. The educators, moms, special education professionals, activists, leaders and change makers - everyone was trying to get the best solutions for our kids. Listening to everyone was an experience. I realized I live in a tiny bubble. I was not able to comprehend whatever is going on around us as I couldn’t see the magnitude of issues related to every child’s education. My world is so limited to Ajey and Anand but when you are a part of something bigger than your day to day life, you realize you are just a tiny cog in the bigger scheme of things. 

This social distancing has brought our world closer, many of us have time to do things we always wanted to but couldn’t and connecting with family members is one of them.I am still reading, responding to messages from my Bday. That has become a reason to call and connect with everyone all over again. Of course we all talk about whatever is going on in the world but soon memories and love takes over. So grateful for the technology.

Friday was a working day so not much happened during the day. After a walk Ashish and I decided to watch something. Movie Contagion had been on my list for sometime but was just not ready I guess. Finally I decided it was time to  watch. The day ended with a weird feeling. They made a movie in 2011 about the crisis we are going through today. Watch it when you can.

Saturday started very lazy but now I feel it was a busy day. Made Sambhar and bati for lunch. I could go for a walk on a this beautiful sunny Saturday, met a police man, heard his side of the story, talked to a few moms. Tried to wrap up my cleaning session of books, CDs and DVDs. Today I realized how much I am attached to my stuff. All of my ghazal CDs and poetry books went back on the shelves. All I could get rid of was kids books and gladly :)  My cook books are also on the fence. They might also find their place back I am afraid. With Jagjit Singh and a cup of tea my afternoon was well spent. Lots of bags full of books are ready to find a new home.

The evening was all about Hindi Manch’s virtual poetry session. It was so much fun, seeing everyone and reciting, listening to poetry and having some conversations , listening to some music. During those few hours we forgot about the chaos in the world and enjoyed the virtual company of our friends. I was busy listening and cooking. Boys had an elaborate dinner for that reason I think.

One of our close friends’ daughter came from CA this morning. She works there. I have seen her mom’s agony for a whole week. Such a relief for them. The joke was that everyone was showered at 5 in the morning after they picked her up from the airport. Coronavirus made them “brahman”, (because of the shower before dawn or ब्रह्म मुहूर्त स्नान  as it’s called in Hindi )

Today I wish everyone could hold their kids a little longer, hug them tighter and spend more time without worrying about the times .

Happy faces..1000s of miles away but so close..

My darling bua (aunt) with my cousin.
 My ghazal collection - dusted and back again. How many years I have been using MP3s but cannot let them go.
 Egg fried rice - Ajey's 

 and then Uttapam with Shrimp curry, no-one could wait for pic.Ashish made the uttapam and I made the shrimp curry, time to make again for the pictures
The police - All they want from us is to stay home and not mess it up. 
I was so busy with Hindi Manch program, .
Made roti for boys, missi roti for us , Anand got fish curry, rest of us had Chicken Curry and left over Karela ( Ashish)

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Bday celebration - lasts a day or continues ? 03/19 Happy Bday to me..

Day -07 
This series started as a journal for my mom and sisters. everyday FaceTime and call were not enough for her I guess. My parents were concerned and distance and 24 hours news channel were not helping either So I decided to write. Lot of moms from my group reached out to me that i should keep writing for them as it was keeping them connected. 

I am a woman who celebrates goodness in life so how could I let go of my Bday celebration. Pandey boys are low maintenance and no big deal people, Ashish could care less for his own Bday. So If I don’t make a deal ( Big or small) all 365 days will be the same in this house. With all that is going on around us I needed to do this more than ever. 
So here we go - a Bday celebration saga in the Pandey Household.
Usually the wishes start pouring from midnight. Everyone has access to international calling thanks to WhatsApp. We have been staying up late watching TV hence phone was on silence mode so I could sleep longer. The first “in person” wish came from the man, that in itself was a beginning of a beautiful and promising day. I saw many missed calls from ma,papa, sisters and a few others. I cancelled my day off so it was a working day for me. Decided to make the best of the situation we are in. I dressed up in a saree gifted by a friend, a simple cotton pochampalli Ikat, in a very soothing combination. My FaceTime with my mom and dad, sister and mother in law and sister in law were full of love and fun. The morning video calls, long or short- served the purpose, telling me how lucky I was for all the love I have in life. 
Continuing the amazingness of the day  I was served breakfast. Tea and eggs for breakfast from Ajey has become such a norm these days.
I had planned a Moms video call during my work break and that was another high of the day. Many of them got dressed just to celebrate my day and I am grateful for those countless blessings. I haven’t responded to all the msgs and calls. But please know each one of you made me feel loved and valued. I am grateful to have everyone of you in my life.
The lunch was simple, the man decided to make fried rice, beautiful and tasty. I have trained him well :).. For years I have a rule of not eating/cooking at home for my Bday and this year we celebrated with some modifications.
It was a rainy day so we couldn’t do much outdoor. Earlier the plan was to have my closest friends come for Tea, bring your own tea/drinks, stay 10 ft apart in my parking lot and just enjoy the fire in the pit. The rain changed everything, so we all did FaceTime chai. But one of them couldn’t resist, she made pakodas and dropped off. That itself is a big deal as I was the pakoda maker for her for years. Thank you Farida! It will remain with me forever.

The man asked me the dinner menu, I wanted something other than regular meal so Ashish Pandey surprised me with his cooking skills. Aloo Tikki, meat balls and Farida’s pakoda was our celebration meal.
The fire place was lit, I put on another saree, chardonnay was the drink of the night. The hugs and kisses and happy faces were my gift. Anand agreed to be in the picture and that was something  to celebrate in itself. I still expect flowers and gifts when this chaos is over but for now I embrace what life has to offer, accept your love with gratitude, thank you for all the wishes and promise to be a better person as I step into my last year of 40s.

Thank you everyone for being a part of my world. I have an amazing life because you all are in it.

The highlight of the day, a family picture
The morning begins with dress up picture. The days when most of us are working in our PJ's this was so much fun.
The working breakfast, These are the times when 16 hours of labor was worth..Mamma gets some love - from Ajey
and then the Bday FaceTime. seeing everyone in the same frame warms my heart every time. Ma with my youngest sister Bulbul, papa with Seema , Varsha and Pawan.. Steve Job I am so grateful to you.

The fried rice- made by chef Ashish. I was busy with work and calls. He so knew that was my need for the day. During one of my calls the food was served to the Queen.
 The Google hangout with few Mom's from my network.

and some of the celebration pictures.