Friday, November 25, 2022

***What Thanksgiving means to you ***

 We Indians are all about food and festivals. We may not adopt other things but will follow the food and festival tradition with Indian twist.

Thanksgiving is one of those festivals - Why do you celebrate or let me ask - What do you celebrate ..

Gratitude ? Cooking and eating? Shopping? Spending time with family and friends?  how it it different than any other weekend?

For many Indian household the traditional TG meal is a big No No. I never cooked Turkey. But ate everything  when we were invited. Few time when I hosted I cooked Indian meal.

But the question remains - What this means to you ?

Let’s define gratitude - How would you express and whom would you pay respect to?

  • Family members, friends, kid’s teachers, Support staff, Nanny, Day care providers, the mailman, the amazon delivery guy, the local takeout staff, the landscaper, the snow plow guy, the plumber, electrician. 
  • What are you promising to do better - be kind, resources and support to who needs them, Taking better care of environment and being the better version of yourself this year?

I have been writing for all the reason I am grateful for, don’t have to repeat but tonight I reflect and celebrate everyone in my life. I wish you all health and happiness and hope you have multiple reasons and people to be thankful for.

Years ago my parents bought a banarasi saree for me from Banaras, someone who was visiting us declared that that particular color wont suit me at all because I was dark. I never wore that saree and gave away. After almost 30 yrs later I found a similar shade and got that saree to remind me that I am much loved. This saree is testimonial of abundance of love, respect and care I am thankful for, Today, tomorrow and always. 

Our dinner that night, The host family has Oreo cookies and Pie and chocolate handy for Anand and he decided to eat just that. #Grateful 

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

From Balaghat to Boston - a very small world in a beautiful way

 There are some nights when I cannot sleep, I waste my time over social media and do mindless browsing on net. There are times when I browse through various Boston Autism Facebook groups and read, look for Desi parents and reach out to them.

One of those night ( Covid times March 2021)I found a young mom and sent her a msg. Her profile showed her current town here in MA - same as mine :)

I went to bed and woke up with her msg. She was in India and had time to look into my profile too. Her msg said her mother was from Balaghat (In India) too that is my hometown. Imagine - Mom and daughter shared the towns with me. 

We both jumped on the phone call right away only to discover so many common threads. The call was supposed to be with her, a young mom with 3 yrs old on spectrum but I ended up talking to grandmother about our hometown and connections.

Soon we realized her uncle taught me in college and she was my sister in law’s classmate( Mr. Husband’s sister). I added my SIL to the call too, she was pleasantly surprised. Those two friends saw each other (on video call)  may be after 35 years. another fun fact - I share the birthday with the kid. 

It was an amazing morning. I made another call next day to talk about her son, IEP, town and services.

Soon in couple of months she came back from India. I loved meeting her and she lives so close to my home that we meet frequently. After that first call I became mami ( Uncle’s wife) instead of Jaya(ji). People wonder how is she related to me and we both enjoy narrating this story. When she was coming from India her mom sent me this beautiful saree. 

Our story is so much fun and this saree is a reminder of my that one sleepless night and its beautiful ending.

What is your insomnia story? 

She is a darling, helped organize Desi Moms Network's first Diwali party. 
As I said I am very fortunate to share the Bday with her son. She invited many children from the group and I got to cut the cake too. 
She opened her son's bday celebration to anyone in the group. many of the moms met for the first time

Monday, November 21, 2022

My village is yours and it is there for everyone else

 Mr. Husband agreed to go to India with me, which was fun but there was a problem.

All these years I traveled to India on my own, with kids or everyone. This time for the first time Anand stayed on his own at home, Ajey in his apartment in the city. Anand has stayed home for couple of days before but not for 17 days. And we were going to India not somewhere local. On top of that he is working at BJ’s so transportation was an issue.

Thats where the village supported us. Instead of asking my closest friends to help I reached out to the bigger circle of friends. I built an Indian women community here in Franklin too, 94 members as of today. 

“I am looking for rides for my son Anand for 10 days , any help is much appreciated.  M to F he works at BJ's 12 to 4. we are looking for ride from our home at 11.40AM Pickup and from BJ's at 4 PM to our home.”

People reached out to me with various options, if not for ride, for Anand’s meal, his grocery store run, or shopping or any issue he gets into while we were away. It was heartwarming to see people offering whatever they could.

The list and schedule were made and a whats-app group was formed. A tiny tea meet up at my home took places so Anand can see everyone and vice versa.

I left for India without a solid plan, I had an idea about people’s availability of days, on my plane ride I work on that. Mr. Husband came after two weeks and our transportation plan worked very smoothly. Anand was part of the group. The list was already posted in the group with Name, time and phone number. Every morning I posted that day’s and next day’s ride. Many of them sent me a text after they dropped him off at work or at home. Some sent couple more lines telling me about him. I didn’t hear from him about drives though. I came back home tired, sad, happy and more. The trip was a mix of various emotions. But when I look back gratitude takes over everything. 

When I started building this group in Franklin almost 19 yrs ago I didnt know it will give back to me in such a way. My son could live on his own, with the help of my village. I am utterly proud of him but at the same time I know he and we couldn’t have done without the help of my village.

My village is my strength and now my son’s too - I hope you have the same.

A sambalpuri Ikat to meet my village a gift from a friend in Mumbai 


Sunday, November 20, 2022

Moms meet - what it means for them and me

Every Moms meet is special in a way. I started with one mom at a time and after almost 6 years, thousands of miles later and 260 moms in the group,  it warms my heart the same way. But at the same time every meet is special for me and for those moms who join for the first time or who find comfort and connection and then there are some regulars who really made some meaningful connection and long lasting friendships because of these meets.

Yesterday was one of those day when I had to sit back and enjoy the feeling - “How far we have come”.

Last year in January a mom started a conversation about being fit and healthy, couple more jumped in and soon enough 30 of them committed to support each other and try for a month. 30 days - thats all they thought. Those 30 days were enough to make them realize what it means to have a village with a purpose. That one month turned into another. One of the first one called out for a celebration and graciously offered to host and finally the date was set. Yesterday was the day after almost 10 months and 37 members strong community met in person. 20 of them ate and laughed together celebrating their wellness village.

The BIG deal was a mom flew from Virginia just to be part of it. She is one of couple non local moms and she met everyone for the first time. That was heartwarming to see her being part of this get together as she belonged to us forever. She is here for the weekend staying with the familes she never met. 

Last night I went to bed with a smile on my face knowing so many of them doing the same, reliving the day and in a better place than the day before knowing their village is right there to support them.

Are you building your village?

 and yes some did wear the saree :)

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Festival and holidays - what do you want to celebrate this year?

With my brother in law’s sudden passing everything changed for our family this year, long awaited India trip was not at all what we had planned, but again life goes on. All of us were together and it helped us heal in a way. 

I had to change some of my travel plans and that was a big step. Things I wanted to do but couldn’t and it didn’t bother me much. I could move on to the next option.

Covid and may be my age has changed me, I don’t go by the “to do list” anymore, don’t rush into things and don’t have “must do” kind of attitude. Same thing happened with meeting people. I met whoever I could and didn’t mind if I couldn’t catch up with a few others.  I think that’s a big change and I am trying to accept it with grace.

Diwali and Mr Husband’s birthday were on the same day this year and that was something we were looking forward to. That one evening was about celebrating what we are blessed with, what we have and are living for today. The loss and pain is not going anywhere so we learn to live with it.

This Diwali was a celebration for the new addition in the family - an adorable grandkid (Our niece's 10 months old son)  celebration of family and the connection we have, that we all could be together. We celebrated my BIL’s life, his big loud laugh, his goofy sense of humor, his ability to connect with people. 

What do festivals mean to you? What are you changing in you,  within you or being happy with who you are? 

This one kid was capable of holding us hostage with his smile. 
The great grandma , When I got married our niece was 14 months old , This kid just looks like her mom 
This pic speaks volume My MIL with all her pain and loss -wishing a long life to her younger son 
The nephews got a cake without the "Y" I loved the "ji" 
and then we flipped the number 

Sunday, November 13, 2022

How vulnerable we all are - our parents and technology

 After watching an Indian TV Serial “Jamtara” ( based on cyber scamming and phishing)  I was talking to a friend and the first reaction was how is that possible, how can someone give the account number on phone to someone.  I would have thought the same but I know better how vulnerable our parents are and how difficult the technology is for them.

I won’t go too far,  take my parents as an example. While in India I saw the Google pay, pay ™ and bank transfer taking over day to day financial transactions but my parents still prefer the manual process.

I saw how from the vegetable vendors to big shops everyone was using these and at the same time I went to bank with my dad to update his passbook.

It reminded me the conversation my 12 year old nephew had with my mom. My parents were leaving for our home town and that morning he repeated the usual instructions to my mom about her WhatsApp call, Youtube , how to send pictures and forward messages, how to disconnect the call and make sure it was disconnected, what to do when wifi doesn’t work. 

This is a very fond memory I have of that morning. My parents are really fortunate that their grandkids are their technology teachers but how many of old people live on their own and struggle with these day to day issues. 

Everyone has a smart phone but how many of them understand the situation they are in. Anyone can call them and ask for their OTP and pin and hack their bank account. More so when they are living on their own and don’t have anyone explaining things in these situations .

Has it happened to you? A spam call? A fraud letter ( we received one - saying we have an outstanding loan, I ended up calling them and the person was trying to trick me into giving my SSN)? Have you ever had a conversation with your parents about this?

A pic with Chandana and her mom. The village sure had many smart phones and I will not be surprised if people can be fooled easily. 
All these shops I could use the PayTM and Google Pay 
My parents with their inhouse Tech teachers 
People from around town helped me get through this-47 comments on my post

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Festival Celebration by Desi moms Network - a dream turned into reality

 It is said that if you say it out loud, the universe will make it happen. 

While I was in India, she texted me - “Jaya di our desi mom group is actually a family. So once you come can we please celebrate either late diwali meet or Thanksgiving meet..?” This was right after Diwali. I was too busy wrapping up my trip, she reached out to some of the moms here and when I came back they had a dream. Hosting a festival meetup for our group.

The Special needs families were going to have a festival meet with families just like theirs, where no one would judge the spinning, flapping, running around or meltdowns or picky eaters.  Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But it is not that easy to plan and execute. 3 of them started the planning, 2 more joined and before they knew it, it picked up momentum. They were thinking 30-40 total and already 25 families were ready to join. These 5 ladies did the planning, looking for free/rental spaces, games, food, caterer. I gave them my experience and guidance but they did the work.

All of them brought something to the table and it was wonderful. Simple food was ordered, simple decorations were decided on along with very green and economical planning, so perfect for families like ours.

I loved the venue because for the first time I wasn’t driving miles, it was half a mile from my home.

On that very perfect, sunny and warm fall  day, the party went very well. 23 families met, many of them for the first time, the kids got to enjoy, eat and be themselves, dads got to meet other dads. Moms connected in real world and all of them asked for more of these events.

We did see some meltdowns but they were nothing compared to the joy that we noticed before.  We decided to let go of those memories and hold on to the happy ones where familes got to dress up and eat with their village where there was no one to be judged or to judge.

Pictures cannot show the joy but they can tell you some stories. 

These women made it possible  

after party - Moms musical chair