Wednesday, May 31, 2023

A dinner out with someone who would that be for you?

 Years ago when I joined the support group for mothers with a child with special needs, I was emotionally drained. After 3 tries

I learnt that the traditional support group is not for me.

Later I started the Desi Moms Network keeping that in mind. Build your village for you first then your child. But how will you build the friendship at this stage in life. We come with so many baggages and are skeptical and its not easy to let someone be part of your world.

Keeping this in mind I started our Desi Moms Network with “let’s open our world to others”. psychologist Arthur Aron’s “36 questions to fall in love” became my baseline. We all got to know each other better because of these intimate questions.

Soon I started using this tool for all the saree meets I organized and it was very well received. 

When I met some saree sakhies in Bangalore, we started with introduction and the I picked a question from my list.

Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest? ( dead or alive)

We heard very interesting answers from family members to celebrities and many things in between, I will write about those answers some other time. But for now let me ask you? 

And if you are curious. Mine remained the same for years - My uncle ( whom I lost when I was 15, my hero) and Jagjit Singh.


A cotton silk from sister’s closet for a saree meet.

Monday, May 29, 2023

What your household help means to you..

This trip I am spending time with my sisters differently, staying home with ma papa most of the time. They all have their set of entourage for household chores. While growing up we didn’t have frequent turnover of household help as my parents  treated them well. They still follow the same practice whenever they visit our home town.

I have seen my sisters following the same pattern. They have built the relationships with their staff. Eventually they become part of your family. And I get to reap the benefits when I visit.

In April Papa fell sick and was in the hospital for 10 days. They were in Raipur with my third sister at that time. Rest of us were far and couldn’t be of any help but her neighbors and her house help were there to take care of things. She and her husband could focus on Papa but Amma and household were taken care by these wonderful people. They stayed home with Amma, kept an eye on her while my sister and brother in law were in the hospital with Papa. I came only after he was released from the hospital and recovering.

I have been visiting my sisters often but haven’t stayed this long at one place. This time I am witnessing their life more closely.

It’s not only Ma papa, I am also enjoying the hospitality.

The cook, the cleaning staff, the building attendant all of them make sure I am well taken care of. The cook makes sure I get to eat a variety of seasonal dishes of my choice, have cut and ready to eat fruits.

I have heard horror stories of the household help from various people too.
I wonder what it is? Luck, chance, money or how you see them as human beings? What is your experience ?

A linen saree from my sister's closet -

 My bua ( aunt) came to meet my dad so did my cousin. She is a month younger to me, we have been friends since we were very young. It was such a delight. 

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Loss, Grief and the responsibilities it comes with

My sister in law lost her mother in law a few months ago and while I was listening to her ordeal of getting things done during those 13 days of grief I wondered how it is different for everyone.

After they were done with the rituals, the process of cleaning the room and letting go off the stuff was daunting she said. Listening to her stories reminded me our life over the years . This time I helped her clean one closet and got rid of a lot of stuff. 

I have been living in the same home for over 20 years and stuff has accumulated without even noticing. COVID changed the way we look at things, more people at home and less space. What is enough and how much is needed.

Our parents lived a simple life, we had just enough space and means and over the years they let go of many unnecessary things. 

But my life has been different than theirs. After 20 years our household has way too much of everything.

Sometimes it’s greed, sometime it is necessity, sometimes  it is emotional attachment and some time it’s just simple laziness or “we will see when we get there” attitude.

I was wondering what happens in most households , how do you get the courage to clean up in general, specially parents belongings after they are gone, what to let go, whom to give to and do you feel the emotional setback? How do you deal with it?

A linen from my sister in law's closet. I did get one saree from her MIL's treasure. 

Pandey women - Mr. Husband's mom and sister

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

From Friendship to Family: A Journey Across Continents

 August 1999, Norwood, MA - That's when I first met him. He asked me why I called his dad by his name instead of "Sir." I explained that he was my friend, not my boss. (His dad was in Air Force for years ) In response, he decided to call me "Auntie." At the age of 28, I became the coolest aunt to this handsome 15-year-old, who still refers to my husband as Ashish.

His dad was the first friend we made when we arrived in Boston. Mr. Husband and him joined the same company on the same day, and our evenings were spent together every day. Eventually, his family joined him, and the couple became my confidants, advisors, and mentors. Their support helped me grow and raise my children, and their boys became a source of inspiration in raising my own sons.

Years later, they made the decision to move back to India. The older son found work in the Middle East, while the younger one stayed in the United States. Despite the distance, we remained friends and kept in touch. I missed the older son's wedding, but I made sure to attend the younger son's wedding in India. It was there that I met the older daughter-in-law and her parents. My husband and I also attended the reception in Atlanta. Ajey, who was only 2 years old when we first met the Mendirattas, grew up and decided to visit them in Delhi on his own a few years ago.

Nowadays, the couple resides in Delhi, the older son in Dubai, and the younger one recently relocated from Atlanta to Portugal. During my recent trip to India, I made a conscious decision to change my routine. Instead of minimizing layovers, I stopped in Dubai for an overnight stay with the older son and his wife. Seeing him at the airport flooded my mind with memories. He even broke his rule and took me shopping for gold. Both of them ensured that every detail was taken care of during my stay, from a late-night drive around town to a delightful dinner and drinks for old times' sake, followed by a fabulous breakfast and a drive back to the airport. The warmth of their hospitality will forever stay with me. I promised them that my next trip to India with Mr. Husband will surely include a longer layover.

From a chance encounter in Norwood to a bond that transcends continents, this journey has enriched our lives with friendship and family. 

welcome to Dubai  Jaya Auntie 

The home and I got to meet the Junior
The breakfast next morning - From his first meal in USA at my home, him taking me out for breakfast - the journey of 24 years. @ The Jones the Grocers 
I forgot to take the pics of lavish Lebanese dinner :(
He Drives the truck, so him 
He doesn't take anyone gold shopping, broke the rule for Jaya Auntie, Many pics were sent to his mom and Mr Husband, Turned into a gentleman I am so proud of.
GoodBye at the airport until we meet again 

Woman Empowering Women - How Do You Make It Happen?

 What would you expect when there are over 150 women in one room? Jokes, laughter, fun, gossip, songs, and dance, glamour, and glitter. That's what happened when a group of women from the India Society of Worcester hosted an event called "Let's Celebrate Her" with the theme of Yash Raj Films. I was graciously invited to be the chief guest for the event, and I am so grateful for everyone who attended.

When I accepted the invitation, I had no idea what to expect. I don't often go to that side of the state and didn't know many people in these towns. The week was busy for me due to personal reasons, so couldn’t keep track of what was happening on that front and the day before the event, I heard it was sold out.

As a storyteller, I didn't have a prepared speech; instead, I wanted to share my story. I decided to recite a poem by a dear friend who is a brilliant poet, especially fitting for Mother's Day weekend.

When I walked into the room, it was quiet, but soon it was buzzing with excitement. After some initial formalities, I was invited to speak. Following the poetry recitation, I talked about my journey as a mother and my ideas about what a village should be and why everyone should have a village. The guest of honor also spoke about the power of motherhood and what we can do for each other.

The room was packed, and I heard they had to deny many registrations. Many people were disappointed that they didn't register on time. The energy, the chatter, the laughter, and the excitement were heartwarming, and I am grateful for the love I received from everyone.

Monday, May 15, 2023

Friends, food, fun, sun and sand- a San Francisco saga

When I landed in Singapore with a 2 months old baby Ajey, I had no idea how I would raise a kid in a foreign country without any support and help. Mr. Husband was there for less than 10 months and had many bachelor colleagues. It was a group of around 13-14 people working together. When I look back I just marvel at the fact how difficult it could have been but we all made the best of it. 5 days of working together and then on weekends we had  outings as a group. Ajey as a baby had so many people to take care of him.

We cherished our time and then everybody moved on eventually.

Some of those friendship have stayed with us for over 25 years or so now.  One of those family is moving back to India. Hence the San Francisco visit.

I could write about the details of the trip but the friendship part is more prominent in my mind. The love and care we received tops everything I could ask for. The details and attention, the food list and prep and planning everything exuded their love for us.

Those few days were just full of warmth. And yes my love affair with sunrise and sunset continued even in SFO. Their bay facing apartment was a perfect place to begin the day and they made sure I got to see many sunsets too.

What do you cherish in your friendship? What is most important for you?

A saree I got as a gift from them last time I saw them. She really caught me in my element. Grateful and happy.

 The view from my window 
Walk on the day one - Met M K Gandhi Ferry Terminal Farmers Market  SFO
 Rodeo Beach Sunset day 1

Farmers Market The long lines for sandwiches 

SFO Trolly 
The view was spectacular even on a cloudy day 
 If you in SFO you must visit this place
SFO Mysterious Golden Gate 
Mr. Husband flew couple of days later  
Sales force park 
The bus must be passing through - Fountain follows the trail
How can you not go to Napa - When in Rome :)
Winery No-1 

Finally we found our place 

Downtown St Helena
They made sure we got to see the best the city has to offer #Grateful
Redwood park

Not only she got me this saree, she made sure there are plenty of pics to show how happy I was. Photoshoot on the SFO streets :)