Saturday, December 23, 2023

Journey to Independence - one sickness at a time :)

 This was my second trip to India with Mr. Husband, without the kids. Last year, I had a big to-do list and a backup plan for Anand. A lot of women from my town helped with Anand’s drop-off and pick-up to and from work, so at least two people were checking on him every day. He has been using public transport now, so there wasn’t any friendly check-in.

A week later, Anand started feeling sick with a cough and cold. He had to miss work for two days and survive on his own, as Ajey could only come on Friday night. I suggested he could call our friends for help. He was cooking pasta and ordering food, but nothing helped more than hot lentil soup (dal) and rice. I also did what a mom could do from that far—texted some of my friends. Apparently, he was quick to ask for help too.

He missed work for two days; Ajey was home for the weekend. Anand was back to work on Monday with a lingering cold and cough. He survived that with grace and without panic. We would check on him; he would go to work, cook some, order some, and someone would drop off some food.

This was the first time he managed sickness on his own. I was in a much better state of mind, knowing he is handling it better. Time to teach him how to make dal now :) I don’t have many details of those days other than what I heard from my friends.

Another milestone I couldn’t imagine before. Another step towards independence.

A silk saree for The World Saree Day meet. A gift from Mr. Husband’s friend’s wife. We rarely meet, but she remembered me when she was shopping in Bangalore. It’s the thought that counts. 

Welcome home hug was wonderful. Looks like someone missed his mom :) I wish I could capture that :) 

A group of Saree lover women from Boston, Met on a chili, windy cold night to celebrate and saree and sisterhood.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

"Your Circle of Friends - Does Age Matter?

 My mom was a working woman for as long as I can remember. Then she chose grandmotherhood and moved to Bangalore. Throughout her life, she has always had a small circle of close-knit friends at every stage. Last year, my sister moved to a new place, and my mom's social life took on a totally different dimension.

In her new building, there is a large circle of retiree women (around 25) who play a crucial role in raising their grandkids and living with their children. They gather in the evening near the park to socialize.

I've been hearing these stories for the past few months, and during this trip, I had the chance to meet them in person. I was excited as my mother had never experienced such a large circle with so much diversity.

Meeting them in person was amazing. I enjoyed joking, laughing, and talking with them. Many of those stories will be featured on my blog soon.

That night, I bid farewell to two of the household helpers as well. They make my sister’s and parents' lives so comfortable, taking care of my needs too. They cooked whatever my heart desired, cleaned my rooms and clothes with a smile. I missed taking a picture with the morning cook. These two had tears in their eyes while bidding goodbye. They stayed longer than their usual time to do more work, making sure Mr. Husband and I were comfortable and well-fed.

A simple silk saree to celebrate the people who are enriching many lives in their own way." 

Wednesday, December 20, 2023

The lessons we learn and direction we take - Workplace Saga

 I used to teach high school before I left everything for love and moved to Pune. A new life, a new city, new people—I enjoyed everything as a newlywed. The TELCO colony will forever remain my favorite place.

After a few months, Mr. Husband took a new job, and we moved to a new place. He would leave at 8 and come home at 5. All of a sudden, I had a full day of doing nothing. I was bored and didn't know what to do with my life. During my walks, I found a hospital in the neighborhood, and one day I just walked in, asking for a job.

The managing doctor didn't have any job for my master's in Chemistry degree, nor did he have money. But I wasn't taking no for an answer; I just needed to get out of the house, with no money or title needed. He offered me a job at the reception. To think of it now, I could have done so much better with my time, but that was the best job at that time. I would get dressed and walk to the hospital and work for 6 hours.

I loved interacting with people, and the staff and patients loved me equally. For them, a North Indian woman with beautiful mix of Hindi and Marathi was a welcoming change. More than anything, I learned that I am a people's person—communicating and connecting are my strengths. I didn't make money or use my time to gain a new degree or start my career, but in those 8 months, I grew as a person, built long-lasting relationships, and learned life skills.

Growing up, my ability to 'speak up' wasn't always valued, but here, I discovered that it is my greatest strength.

Kotbagi Hospital, you will forever be a reminder that "talking" is a skill.

A beautiful mul cotton Saree for a quick visit. 

The place is not what it was, heard it's taken over by Ruby Hall. But for me just a sign of "Kotbagi" was enough.

Monday, December 18, 2023

*Memories and people of your past life* Kulkarni Aai-Baba in Pune

28 years ago, I moved to Pune as a new bride, stepping into a new city and a life that held nothing familiar. In the TELCO colony, I began my married life. There was a tiny cooperative society for getting groceries and daily needs, where I learned Marathi from the staff. Kulkarni Aai was one of the managing persons, and through her, I met Baba and their daughter.

Soon, they became my Puneri parents, showering me with love and imparting wisdom. They even organized a Mangala Gaur for me with their daughter, a ritual performed for newly married Marathi brides.

Over the years, many people expressed how fortunate I was to have Mr. Husband in my life, but Baba was the first person to tell Mr. Husband how fortunate he was to have me by his side.

We moved from the TELCO colony to Pune, then from Pune to Singapore and eventually to Boston. I had the chance to meet them again when I visited Pune in 2012 with my kids.

 During this trip with Mr Husband, I made sure to reconnect with them. Baba remained the same witty man, defying the passage of time.

Some relationships never change, and some continue to make you feel loved at any stage of your life.

 With Aai-Baba's son and daughter

A cotton paithani I got for my MIL couple of years ago. 

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Sibling Relationships - Do Your Childhood Memories Still Drive Them?

 Last year, for the first time, Mr. Husband and I traveled out of the country, leaving Anand alone at home for over two weeks. Ajey lived in the city and came home for the weekends. That trip was emotionally challenging for many reasons. We were leaving Ajey and Anand alone for this long time and thousands of miles for the first time. Also Mr. Husband's older brother passed away suddenly in India right before our trip.

This year, the brothers were on their own for over three weeks, with the same situation of Ajey coming home for the weekends. We mostly left them to their own devices, with occasional calls and texts. I felt more at ease this time.

During this trip, we traveled across Maharashtra with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and nephew to meet my mother-in-law’s siblings and their families. Countless conversations and memories were revisited, and new connections were made. This was also the first time I couldn't meet one of my sisters during my trip.

I witnessed sibling relationships spanning three generations, observing the joy and complications associated with them. I noticed how situations, ego, socio-economic status, money, children, spouses, and childhood memories continue to shape these relationships. As we evolve as individuals over the years, so do our relationships.

What is your take on it? How have your relationships evolved with your siblings over the years? Do your spouse or children influence these dynamics for you? I often find myself contemplating the future relationship between my boys.

A beautiful cotton from Sister in law’s closet, borrowed for the trip. Wore it for a family reunion.

 My mother in law with two of her sisters, My most favorite pic of that day.

Mr Husband with one of his cousin in Dubai, met after 28 years. 
A day out in Bangalore with my sister.
 Mr. Husband with his cousin and sister. 
My MIL with one of his cousin. Mr Husband met his uncle after ages.
 MIL with her youngest brother. 
Mr Husband with another cousin. She shares the nickname with him. They met may be after 30 plus years. 

Pune: A Family Reunion

 Pune marked a significant family gathering – a big deal. Many cousins reunited after years, nieces and nephews met for the first time, sisters reconnected after a long hiatus, and several new additions met the in-laws for the first time. The countless phone calls leading up to this moment were truly worth every second. Finding a place in the middle of the city where we could spend a few hours without any rush proved to be a challenge. The staff at Green Signal restaurant had no idea how instrumental they were in this family reunion.The tears, joy, laughter, and new connections formed the most significant takeaways for me. Witnessing sisters laugh together after years and seeing my mother-in-law with two of her sisters was the highlight of the day. 

Missing one of my own - 3 of us in Nandi Hills.

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Nostalgia - A Road Trip of Its Own Kind

 A road trip is an interesting mode of travel. Seeing Mr Husband with his sister and mother searching, discussing the Marathi music on you tube they listened to 4 decades ago was a treat. 

The first leg of our journey-two stops and 250 KMs we were in Nagpur after 6 hours on the road.

We who live away from home and family have an idea and image of our family members but not exactly their choices about many things. Spending time at home is totally different than traveling together. My nephew’s chilled attitude was the biggest take away from that first leg of our journey, how he kept cool while packing those 100s of bags, drive and then when when Madam Google took us everywhere but home how he navigated the road. He took care of his grand mother’s needs, Mom’s stuff, Mami’s (aunt) attitude, he is a brave man.

My MIL is in her early 80s and I have been worried about her ability to travel this far on the road but her enthusiasm is contagious. She may be getting old but the willingness to travel to meet her siblings and their families is unparalleled.

Listening to those stories from her lifetime during this travel is an experience.

What is your road travel story?

A Simple cotton Ikat for the trip borrowed from MIL’s closet for the travel.

I didnt pack sarees this time, just carried my blouse and shopping in everyone’s closet :)

A short trip to visit Ellora Caves. 

 A tea stall on the road, feel like real India. No Dunkin, Starbucks or cafe can replace the joy of "Thele wali chai" 
Ellora statue on the back of 20 Rs note ( INR)

Wednesday, December 6, 2023

A welcome of its own kind - Road trip Saga

The last stop on my 1100 KMs road trip was at Mr. Husband’s Aunt’s home in Pune. Four days and 1100KMs later, I could witness what love and excitement looked like. She is one of a kind—creative, enthusiastic, eager, and very high energy. She approaches everything with passion. She has been one of his favorites while growing up, and vice versa. She hadn’t met Mr. Husband since our firstborn’s naming ceremony in '97; I did meet her once after. Facebook and WhatsApp kept her connected with us. When Mr. Husband expressed interest in meeting all his side of the family, I am sure she was on his mind the most.

Last night, we reached after 7 hours on the road from Aurangabad. Texts and calls were made about Mr. Husband’s food choices. The traffic in Pune was brutal, and finally, we reached home. I was very surprised not to see her downstairs, as she had called multiple times to know about our whereabouts. When we reached upstairs, I saw a teary-eyed, smiling mausi holding the lamps and flowers. The stairs were decorated with flowers, the rangoli was made, a welcome sign was displayed, and flowers were hung on the door. She was beaming with happiness and hugged him, saying, "Lord Ram’s exile was for 14 years, yours lasted 26 long years."

After a cup of tea and rounds of laughter, it was time for dinner. No table setting, no fancy silverware or servingware, but it sure was full of love and care. The women in his family are awesome cooks, so every meal has been amazing, but this was something different altogether. The way she served and fed him could only be experienced in person, not in words. Her son was joking that he was already full because he was forced to taste everything to make sure it tasted the best.

Mr. Husband sure is a lucky guy. I wish I had taken more pictures.

A simple bengal cotton from sister in law’s closet, borrowed for the trip.