Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Do you feel “Prabasi” in your own skin?

Prabasi -An emigrant is a person who has left their own country to live in another country.

A random phone call from a friend led to a tea invite and I added another friend to that invitation thinking they should meet. 

They both live in neighboring town and are very involved in local school system. The Tea invite with the first friend was in making for   so long but this time in a jiffy we picked a date like it was meant to be. I think universe for waiting for a trio meet.

3 of us met , a hot and humid day but Tea and conversation make it a breeze. we got settled and started with simple introduction. These two ladies were raised in different places than their parent’s home state.

The recent events were the opening of a whole new conversation. we talked about being immigrant, new beginning and how naive we were. The conversation turned into subtle racism and challenges we faced and witnessed. We could recount memories how unconscious biases always existed in the society. 

Before we knew the Tea turned into dinner and more. we talk for almost 6 hours. school, local and town politics, history, families, siblings, parents, grandparents, education, kids, husbands, friends, passion and work we ventured in so many topics but still felt we could talk more. the week night, a dog waiting at home, tired body everything kind of forced up to wrap up our conversation around 11 PM.

I drove back home thinking of meaning of “prabasi” How relatable this term is in every sense to all of us. You don’t have to go out of your country to feel “prabasi” sometime you feel very much at home in strangest place and sometime you don’t belong even in your family, home, friends. 

 Do you look back and wonder about the inbuilt injustice in our family, society and system? Do you talk about it loud? Do you feel the “prabasi” sometimes? what do you do to make you feel home? 

The dinner. It was supposed to be a chai meet :) 

We loved this fan, a very hot day and this fan was very fascinating. The house was cool due to central AC but both of us guests loved this Woozoo :)  in my shopping list. The host had a beautiful garden and we sat outside for a little bit. 

Monday, June 28, 2021

A full day, full heart and happy soul - A day can be like this

There are days when all of sudden things fall into place. Oanh and I have been thinking of meeting for really really long time but we just couldn’t. Last week she asked if Sunday would work and I agreed. I had Moms Network picnic but didn’t want to miss the chance so we found a middle ground - Brunch fit perfectly in our crazy schedule. I needed to leave for picnic by 3.30.


The mom and daughter duo were the perfect guest for food. couple of curries and paratha and we were good.The real fun began after that - the saree adventure. I won’t write and let the pic do the talking. 

Oanh is from Vietnam and moved to USA for her daughter. She did her Masters in Master in Health Administration and Master in International Sustainable Development and works with Dept of Public health now. Her daughter drives her passion for work.

I met her few years ago when she was working with Federation for Children with Special Needs.

She founded support group for Vietnamese families and inspired me in a way to do the same for Indian community.


We have been planning our lunch date for some time, things just worked out today and the lunch date turned into a saree date.

You see two badass women who are driven by passion and think out of the box. 

Two of us changing the special need dynamics in our state in our own way. She works in the field and I have made it my calling. She is calm and compose and I am loud and noisy. She can blend in and I stand out in my sarees. She is motherly and I am bossy and get things done. 

But we both admire and adore each other and have tremendous respect for one another.

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Time to break so many ceilings

 I joined a board of another nonprofit. My term starts in September. They had the last meeting of this year/term and they invited me to meet the whole board. It was terrifying and exciting at the same time. I know the moms in my network make me look good. It’s their strength and trust in me. They believe in my vision and follow my suggestions.

Well, finally everyone is noticing that the Indian community exists not only in the high tech world but in the special needs world too.

A friend I met almost 8 years ago recommended me to the board and the process began in October of last year and here I was today listening to the amazing work the nonprofit does. When I was asked for my introduction I talked about how “ you need a village to raise a child” had changed my thought process. I explained to them how this phrase doesn’t exist in India because we all have our village already,  no one has to build it. How every child is raised by family, relatives, neighbors, family friends and household help. 

My introduction was all about an immigrant woman’s struggle and finding her footing and then building a village for others so no one has to go  through difficulties she did,  the loneliness she felt or the helplessness she faced.

Today that drives me to connect more moms to other moms, resources, services and helping them  to build their village.

Today in an Orissa Ikat I felt strong, powerful and valued.

A gift from a mom from the group and two saree friends when I met them last week. Nothing could make me feel like the queen of the village more than this :)

One of those diverse household in my town, This fire pit has taught me opening your heart and door to anyone regardless of color and race. Story about it some other day.

A congratulatory note from a mom, keeps me going, we will get there one day. 
Just because !!!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

***When fear plays game with the mind***

Everyday I talk to my parents, mostly mom and some time dad. The topics are different with both of them and mostly unplanned. Specially with Papa, we have ventured into so many topics from politics, religion, books, people, relationships, friends and world. But with mom it starts simple.

I ask the usual questions about their breakfast, lunch and dinner , the calls they made to friends and families, conversation with my sisters and about their routine. What did you do? what did you eat, whom did you talk to and what did you read. If you have read my blogs you know my sister’s Amazon account is being used to the fullest for books. They have always been avid reader but Pandemic and lockdown has brought back reading more so in their life.

I show Amma my sarees, talk about my life and whatever is going on. There are days things don’t go as planned and we have been through awkward and unpleasant conversation too but thats the beauty of love and respect. You forget and forgive. We all are strong and very opinionated people. i think my mom is the mildest in a way, she will listen to everyone and sometime get hurt too but again she knows how much we love her so she bounces back with same affection and love. My dad could be hard to please sometime, but one thing for sure he adores his daughters. 

But today’s conversation I realized how difficult this situation is for them. not being able to go to Balaghat (our home town) whoever they feel like, feeling of being stuck. Slowly they both are giving up on “fear of Covid” being restless. “How long” has been in everyone’s mind but today I felt that the anxiety and fear is turning into something else. I hope we all find footing and survive this day and tomorrow brings some sunshine. This father’s day is not an exception by any means. I wish some love, happiness, calm and hope.

A bengal cotton for a simple BBQ dinner at old friend's home, it is refreshing to be able to do it. Just 4 of us adults, a peaceful backyard and simple meal with some refreshing Sangria. 

 Found this Mr. Frog resting on my walk this morning. 
I must have walked through this 100s times. one day I decided to not talking on phone and noticing 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

You inspire me, you motivate me - Story of Long Island Tea - The Story session on HCAMTV

I wrote about a recording session in my previous post (read here) This is the story I talked about-

Year ago when I was a young mom I thought I had everything. A wonderful husband, in USA living our dream, comfortable life and two adorable kids. We bought our first home and moved to a new town. Life was just perfect. I decided to go to school and was looking for working full time. My younger son’s pre school teacher noticed speech delay and lack of social interaction and soon our long journey to special need had begun. Few year down the road he was diagnosed with Autism.  So much for my perfect world. It took me couple of year to really get a handle on the situation or so what I thought. In fact, even today sometimes l feel I don’t know what I am doing. Anyway, that complex journey for some other time.

In 2013 I got an email from a local Autism Resource Center about Mother’s retreat. Not knowing what it was, I asked for details. Got to know that one weekend in June the Moms with special needs children get together for 20 hours and live their life with moms just like them.

I have not spent a single night without my boys but the idea was very intriguing. Oh, there are other like me?? Nice -I decided to give it a try. 

I reached the venue on the day and then just couldn’t go in. What if I don’t enjoy it, I don’t know anyone, Will I fit in? I didnt know many Indian families with special needs child so was very sure that I will be only brown woman. I usually am adventurous  but that day I realized what anxiety really is. Made my SOS call to my husband and he really knew what to say to keep me going and encouraged to meet them. I walked in not knowing a single soul. They were checking-in all the moms; I got my deposit back with a smile and an instruction that the money doesn’t go home, it goes to the bartender. I didn’t drink much then but that comment with a smile made me comfortable. Rest of the evening, we all did our introductions and I didn’t feel alone.


By the night, we all were chatting  and dancing together like old friends. My first ever Long Island Iced Tea was sure very influential. After all I was just following the instruction - money to the bartender :) I very clearly remember telling the  same women that I feel like running away from all the responsibility of being a mom. She held my hand and said to call her when I want to do, she will gladly drive me to any place I wanted to go :) 

That one moment I realized I am NOT alone, I have friends who wont judge me. Strangely I didn’t even know them few hours ago. When I left the hotel next morning, again that feeling “I was NOT alone” stayed with me. I made some amazing friends who taught me what it is to have a non judgmental friendship.

Fast forward few years I founded Desi Moms Network  for Indian moms with special need children, inspired by those friends. They taught me - life is wonderful even with some difficulties if you have amazing friends. How it is to feel you are not alone, How important it is to pay it forward. How wonderful a smile can be for someone else, Smile because you never know you make someone’s day, extend your hand because they might have only you at that time. and dont forget to enjoy Long Island Iced Tea because sometime you meet the best people under its influence :)

An Irkal Saree with a khun blouse. I went to a musical meet after the live show. We had a turbulent evening at home. Anand's defiance at its peak. so needed to cool my head down. What works best than a beautiful summer musical evening, In person after 15 crazy months. We all were so happy seeing everyone in person. 

The Story tellers of the night 

Here is the link - please join me in celebrating friendship. Mine was third story and was at          29 Mins timer



Wednesday, June 16, 2021

"I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends."

A Local town TV channel runs a program. Story telling with a topic.A friend introduced me to the organizer and soon I was in the list. The topic was very intriguing so I decided to participate. This will be a season finale episode and I know I am everything but patient, so agreed to do it even at the last minute :) I wore a nice saree and recorded the session. It will be live on Friday. You can watch it later as it will be available on tube channel later too. 

 Yesterday was a very special day. Made a promise to the man 26 yrs ago around the fire to be his partner. We both decided to take half day off from work for lunch outing. Something came up at his work, he chose to decline but I chickened out for lunch as there was a tiny possibility Anand could come for dinner. I didn’t want to miss the chance to go out as the family. So asked miyan to resume work and I went to have lunch with two Saree friends :) funny the husband ate left over for Anniversary lunch and I ate a fabulous meal thanks to my wonderful friends. I came back home with full heart and stomach. 

 A little rest and got dressed again to go out with the boys. In a long long time we all had happy and fun dinner out . The food was awesome and first born decided to pay for the celebration. Our outings are very tricky but I think the whole universe conspired to make me a happy woman. A simple cotton for the lunch. 

 This month's story theme "I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends." 
 You are invited to join our last Live program of the season This Friday, June 18th, 7:00-9:00 p.m. with host Cheryl Perreault 
Live Program on Youtube hosted by HCAM-TV Viewers are invited to join as listening audience and also welcome to share story-related comments on Chat. 
 Guest storytellers will be in attendance Live in the Zoom Gallery to listen and cheer one another on. Each guest will be introduced briefly before their pre-recorded story is shown on Livestream.
 Hoping you can join Friday night for one more round of Virtual/Live Common Ground Storytelling ! Preview YouTube video Common Grounds: June 18, 2021
My lunch was everything one can ask for in life - fun, laughter, love, respect

Find your tribe and trust them, let them contribute to make it better

The first born is trying to find his place in this world and our conversations and arguments are intense, intriguing and interesting.

He is trying to find a balance between a practical and an  impulsive approach. His mom and dad have similar values but different attitudes . Poor kid is a perfect example of the conflicting philosophy in many areas of life.

It is interesting how as parents we don’t have answers to everything our offsprings need. I don’t have any experiences from my 20s that might help in guiding him.  Whatever I suggest I have either read, observed or borrowed from someone else’s experience. But I do have people who have been through these scenarios . All I can do is connect him to those real life experiences.

He is looking for a place to live and I took him to see a friend who is in real estate business. The conversation flew seamlessly and he could explain  to Ajey so many things. More importantly my son took it in the right direction. I wonder if I had said the same thing, would it have been as effective?

One thing I am so happy about is my village. I am very fortunate to have such a diverse set of friends in my life. They continue to enrich not only my life but my offspring benefits too. If you are one of them please know your are much appreciated, more than I can express in words. I am grateful and so glad our paths crossed.

The drive was fun both ways. I hope my son learnt something from me too. Build you village and pay it forward - this never gets old.

May your day be brighter and kinder. 

On the way back home we stopped at Trader Joe's - I sure can teach him few things about grocery shopping :) 
He is so mini me in so many ways.