Archive | April, 2014

City Sights

29 Apr

One of the things I love about NYC is the ample opportunity for people watching. I am usually preoccupied with Bandar and maneuvering her stroller through mounds of dirt and other things but the solo trips I make twice a day between home and her school allow me a lot of time for taking in the scenes and some reflection.
To some extent, people watching as I walk the busy streets takes me back to India. After living the last 7 years in other cities in the US where driving is pretty much the only way to get around , this is such a welcome change.
My favorite breed of people to watch are senior citizens. Here in NYC they have to be in pretty good physical condition to walk around so much and I really feel happy when I see active old people. They don’t walk fast but at a comfortable pace and are usually holding groceries or library books. I sometimes see couples – the man sometimes  holding the woman’s elbow and steering her gently or just holding hands as they wait for the traffic signal. It fills me with a certain warmth and I imagine the husbadoo and I together at that age – picking up a few light groceries to make a simple meal. I really hope and pray I can grow old with this man.
I assume the older people I see here are reasonably well off and own the apartments they live in. I hope they are not renting and paying several 1000 dollars in rent at that age or are at least in some sort of long term inflation protected lease scheme. I dream and wonder how they made their millions , was it in investments, family money?
I do some quick math and realize we will never be able to afford to retire in this city and I for one am totally okay living somewhere else in my old age. This is fine for us now but I think I would like to be somewhere slow paced compared to here.
I think your 70s is really the perfect old age to be. The few people I see who seem older sadly seem to be in bad shape health wise. Our own grandmothers are really suffering in their late 80s and 90s in India and seeing older women who vaguely resemble them makes me sigh. I still see these people trying to take a few steps with a walker and a young, health care worker or caregiver by their side. I have seen the really irritated looking caregivers and also ones who also seem gentle and kind and encouraging.
Apart from the older generation, I also love  observing nannies with the young ones under their care as they go about their day in the city.  We live in a highly residential area and child care for children under two costs apart from costing the earth is hard to find. For parents with over one child, nannies end up being the cheaper option. Also I can see why most parents would prefer to keep their newborn at home with a nanny rather than at a childcare facility. We did the same till Bandar was 15 months and honestly it would have been my first option if we could afford it in NYC.
Nannies make a reasonable amount of money here in the city apart from paid vacation time, holiday bonuses and health insurance inclusive packages. For starters , most of the nannies are really well educated. A mom in my book club was telling me how she had Yale graduates apply for a full time nanny position she advertised!
Most of the nannies I see on the streets seem to being very professional and capable.  They are talking intently to the older ones and teaching them about traffic signals. They efficiently handle a screaming toddler tantrum on one hand and skillfully push a stroller with an infant using their other!
So incidents like the one I mention below I am sure are few and far between.I was walking back after dropping Bandar off at school, I noticed 2 nannies, each pushing a double stroller on the streets. They were hurling abuses at each other in jest but really words you would not want to hear used around kids. They did not follow any traffic signs and crossed busy streets carelessly. One was constantly on her cell phone  while the other kept interjecting with bad language. I watched them for a few streets and finally turned a corner to go home. I am part of a moms group with over 2000 moms in the area. Within 2 hours another mom had emailed the group with exact descriptions of both nannies and their charges asking the group if the nannies were in their employment. I added my two cents on what I had seen. Within the next 4 hours, another mom replied saying one of the nannies was employed by her and she reached out to both of us on details of what we had seen. The other nanny apparently worked at her neighbor’s. I do not what the final outcome was – did the nannies get fired or did they just get a warning. But either way,it made me glad to think that mothers here watch out for each other and had a way to report any wrong doing. If nothing at least the two nannies and others realize that they their behavior doesn’t go unnoticed .

10 years later…

26 Apr

I should ideally title this post a #100HappyDays post but it is really so much more than just that.
It was Thursday and I started off the day by dropping Bandar at school. I came back home and finished tons of office work. At 1 pm I decided to meet the husbadoo for a lunch date. I showered and left the house , walking towards his campus. The weather was heavenly and I was quite warm at my brisk pace. The university campus is a mile from our place and it was only my second time there. I have seen bigger campuses in the US but somehow the grandeur this particular  school imposes as it stands majestically in the buzz of the city simply takes your breathe away. I waited for him and saw my hot husband come up to the gate. Maybe it was just that being in a campus brought back our college memories – hanging out by our big engineering campus gates in Bombay , also bang in the middle of the city buzz. Just that the stalls selling honeyed nuts and hot dogs had replaced our dirty but delicious sev puri wallah of days yore. Anyway, seeing him walking towards me with a broad grin just had my pulse racing and brought up tons of memories:)
We were indecisive about where to go for lunch and ended up going to the Farmers Market by the campus and bought some mini pizzas and cookies. We decided to eat them on campus in the large quad. We sat down on a sunny step with hundreds of students around us and started tucking into our pizzas, stopping to exchange and sample the other person’s .
We spoke about plans for the weekend and for life in general. About where we would end up next. About how depressing it is sometimes that parents are aging and cannot come as often as we would like to visit us and Bandar. About Bandar and her school and some recent tantrums she’s thrown. About research papers on the way.  About looming job changes.  At one point , he sighed and rested his head on my shoulders and I patted his mop of hair. My boy, my nerdy,silly, idealistic boy. So grown and mature in some ways, a fabulous father. And in other ways,  still just the dreamy , charming boy I fell in love with some 10 years ago.
We reminisced about sitting in our largish quad during college munching vada pavs and that such head resting antics would not have been allowed in our rather conservative, government college. Heck, ours was the college with a rope between boys and girls during socials. But we did have our fun in other ways back then. ;p
We discussed if life had really gotten any better in the last 10 years since we sat in a quad and decided unanimously that it had. Back then life was complex – we had exams to pass, further studies to figure out, one of wanted to go the US while the other wanted to stay in India, parents on both sides to convince.
Life now was still uncertain – we honestly don’t know where we will end up once his research grant ends here and we have a little Bandar to support and nurture. I have a career to grow and it is being much neglected right now with working remote. We are by no means as settled as our folks would like to see and we are a few years older than we imagined we would be at this career point. But the most important and only sure thing we know now is that we are going to be together through it all. And that is all that finally matters.

#100Happydays – Happiness in randomness

23 Apr

So Bandar is currently off from school for Spring Break. I was surprised that kids this young actually have a spring break. Guess it is intended to give the teachers a break.
So she has been home since Friday.
As we both have regular office work though, it has been quite hard managing her.

Some random stuff from the last 4.5 days-

– Friday was relatively a breeze as my work is really light on Fridays. The husbadoo was at work almost the entire day on Friday while Bandar and I had a cosy day at home.
– We took Bandar to the park on 3 consecutive days – Fri, Sat and Sun and she had a blast. I especially liked the fact that she is so brave now. Loves the large slide that even freaks me out a little, loves climbing some other weird structures and has overcome her fear of walking on sand. We were very surprised when her teacher told us that she was hesitant to walk on sand a few weeks ago but a few weekends at the park have really toughened her.
– Bandar walks to the park and we just carry the carrier in case she gets tired. Saves us some trouble of taking the bulky stroller out.
– She hates leaving the park and we have to pretend we are leaving her behind and walk to the gate. She merrily waves good bye to us and is happy to stay and play. On Sunday, I had to resort to trashing her sunglasses unless she came with me and it worked. Other suggestions to get my kid out of the park are appreciated and welcome.
– I made pretty delicious Pad Thai to get our Thai fix at home on Saturday! I make this at least once a month and use this recipe with minor changes like whole wheat linguine, well marinated pan fried tofu, sauce with tamarind,soya sauce, jaggery and chilli powder.
– We had a nice long walk by the river on Saturday and though it was a tad cold ,we all came back so rejuvenated. The Cherry blossoms are out and it all looks so beautiful at sunset.
– We had yummy sandwiches for dinner on Saturday and Sunday. The husbadoo is the sandwich whiz in our household but I learn t some neat tricks from him which I implemented on our Sunday sandwiches. We used a mixture of hummus and ketchup on the bread, a salad of spinach , red chilly flakes and raspberry vinaigrette dressing was added to the sandwiches after they came out of the oven, a few pieces of avacado were baked in the oven over the bread and get nice and melty and other fresh pieces were used as a finishing touch. Overall result was super yummy.
– I took Bandar on an Easter egg hunt on Sunday while the husbadoo went off for his cricket game. She and I both had fun looking for eggs and meeting some other kids and parents.Though it is a lot of work managing her alone, i love that she and I are getting some mother- daughter time.
– Monday was really hard. The husbadoo came home at 2 pm and all my meetings were shifted to the afternoon to ensure I could watch her in the morning. I had her down for a nap just before he came home and sat down to work. I was exhausted though from the morning and couldn’t snooze with her as it was a working day. Think that made me feel crappy all evening and even quite sick and overwhelmed. I
literally collapsed after work at 6:30 pm and the husbadoo gave me a decent neck massage for 5 minutes that actually helped me feel better. On other occasions the massage would have been longer and it would have led to more interestingactivities but a certain little monkey had to be attended to and fed. Oh well, ample opportunity for other activities.
– Bandar got up literally in 1 hour after she lay down to nap on Monday afternoon. Usually she is a little cranky after her afternoon nap, especially when she is not fully rested but the first time the little monkey woke up with a broad smile asking for her dad and tottered up in her post sleep unsteady haze in search of him in the other room. Such a daddy’s girl!
– I made only day and brown rice for dinner on Monday and added a green bell pepper dry subji hastily to accompany it for Tuesday lunch. I know they were both average as I made them in a hurry but the husbadoo relished it. Thankful for atleast one non fussy eater in my life!
– After I got Bandar to sleep at 9 pm on Monday night , I had exactly one hour before I started a global conference call with my Asia team. I used the time wisely to go on a grocery run. Was so nice to get out of the house by myself and enjoy the crisp spring evening .
– Bandar is getting so good at imaginative play and amazes me with the stuff she says and does. I have to do a separate post on her but some of the stuff we have been doing include throwing a birthday party with a pretend cake baked for her stuffed toys, rowing pretend boats,crawling around as newborn babies!
– I was exhausted by the time the husbadoo came home today (Tuesday) to start his childcare duties as well but he surprised me with some bubble tea that instantly cheered me up.

Eating Out

22 Apr

One of the major reasons I was excited about moving to NYC was the food. Specifically, the multitude of options in existence for vegetarians. So it wasn’t like i was starved of options when eating out in Austin,TX – on the one hand going out for BBQ was my work team’s idea of a perfect outing and I have spent far too many work lunches eating peach cobbler and ice cream at these places through the years. On the other hand though, the husbadoo and I have taken some of our carnivore friends to some of the best brunch spots in the city by all lists , which coincidentally is all vegetarian. Thank God for the Austin hippies !Essentially , we knew where to go. We had our spots and stuck to them. What’s hard in NYC is the fact that there are a plethora of options to choose from but when you eliminate those you don’t want to traverse 1 hour in 2 subways trains to get to , then eliminate the ones that meet our price range for a casual meal out you are left with a very small selection.
We have had a few bad experiences recently that make me think we are either unlucky when it comes to picking a place to eat or just plain stupid as we tried a few spots without scoring the reviews online.
Let’s take Friday evening. For a few years now, we have this thing of eating out or ordering in on Friday nights. I can be ‘good’ and watch the calories, cook healthy all week but I absolutely look forward to a binge night on Fridays that involves food not cooked by me.
We were in Central Park with Bandar for a good hour and decided to leave around 7:30 pm  and hunt down some Thai food. Our only good find so far is a good 20 minute walk and Bandar wasn’t in the best of moods. Plus we knew there would be a wait.
So we hopped into an Asian Fusion place that seemed to list the usual Thai fare with tofu options for vegetarians. We had an extremely rude waitress who shrugged and said she did not know whether the dishes we wanted to order would have oyster sauce, said the chefs did not speak English and she couldn’t couldn’t communicate with them and her final exact words were – “If you are so picky, you probably shouldn’t eat here!” Something about what she said hit a nerve. Maybe it was the fact that we were ravenous that day. We picked up an irritable Bandar and left. We decided to try another Thai place we had seen close by but were scared to enter when we saw a big notice saying the sanitary grade was pending! There was no way we were eating there. So we decided walk to our standard tried and tested Thai place but ended up seeing this lively Mexican restaurant on the way.
So in we went. Again bad choice as after eating some of the best Tex Mex in Austin , our expectations were extremely high.
The husbadoo asked me to share a Watermelon Basil margerita with him and as he very rarely orders alcohol , I agreed to share an overpriced but delicious drink.
My veggie quesadilla had beef it it so we sent it back and waited over 20 minutes for it to be replaced. Instead we all shared the husbadoo’s fajitas which were sub par. When the quesadillas did arrive, this time they had tons of broccoli and squash.I had clearly specified the spinach and mushroom mix, I was too exhausted to send it back the second time and told them to box it up to take home. You would think they wouldn’t charge for it after the beef fiasco but they did!
So we ended up paying over $ 45 for an average meal. A quarter of the broccoli filled quesadillas were eaten by Bandar the next day and I trashed the rest. What a waste! The only bright moment was Bandar loving the mariachi band at the restaurant and them playing the “chicken dance” for her. She wanted to get out of her high chair and dance and she did!
I spent the rest of the weekend deciding I was done with impromptu eating out in our neighborhood and would instead cook more at home. Alas, this resolve will wear thin next Friday!

#100HappyDays – Some recent happy moments

18 Apr

So the husbadoo is thrilled to have found a cricket club here. When we lived in Texas, he was part of a pretty serious cricket league and later a captain. So one day of the weekend was dedicated to the sport but that hardly bothered me. He would wake up really early, pack his own snack, kiss me good bye and drive off to play his game.I would wake up late and maybe go for a grocery run, shop with my girl friends, go out somewhere with visiting family members and Bandar and he would be back by for a late lunch usually in an exceedingly good mood even if they lost as at least he had a chance to play .He has really been missing the sport for the last few months since we have moved here. I was a little less thrilled about him starting his NYC cricket career as firstly our weekends here have been just the three of us in the cold, secondly Bandar is fun and all but a real handful sometimes for one person and lastly the game timings here are 11 am – 7 pm which sucks as it means we lose the morning, afternoon and evening.
Anyway this Saturday , Bandar and I had a lovely nap and woke up to eat her favorite- popcorn.I pop it in coconut oil and it is so damn good. We then set off to the library and spent a fun hour choosing books and reading several there. She didn’t want to leave. We then went to the park for a full 2 hours! I was exhausted running behind her. The last half hour, I started feeding her dinner. We then finally came home! Such fun! I had a surreal moment when I caught a glimpse of myself on a shiny shop window. Just me and and my little girl out in the big city. I am looking forward to Saturdays now. It also means the husbadoo comes back in a happy mood which is a win – win all around.

Sunday we took my visiting aunt and uncle to Whole Foods. Bandar loves this store. She walks around picking random fruit to add to basket and often drags the basket with wheels around. She is riot to watch. We laugh tons as she goes around pulling a fruit from here and another from there and pushing anyone who tries to stop her. I usually remove the fruit she picks before we check out but this time we came home with her picks – one random green apple, one juicy pear and a navel orange.I will probably make custard and fruit salad with them this weekend!

Eating lovely hot onion sambhar and rice. My mom doesn’t enjoy cooking much and though she does prepare a decent meal, my aunt is the one who got the cooking gene from my granny. I make Tamilian food about 2 times a month and though the husbadoo loves my sambhar it just doesn’t taste like a typical one. I got my full year’s quota of Tam food this week and loved every bit of it!

A clean house. My monthly house cleaning appointment is a gift in give myself and this time the lady over performed! She even washed Bandar’s bottles. I noticed this only when I started on the task later in the evening and was just really touched. It wasn’t part of her job description. There are some super sweet people in the world.


17 Apr

Honey, we did it!The last few days posed a unique challenge and we came out victorious. I am so proud of us.
My aunt ( mom’s older sister) and her husband were staying with us for 4 days. This aunt was the main opposition that we faced over 8 years ago when we first broke the news of our ‘illicit’ affair. This aunt was the one who berated my poor parents when stories of me dating a ‘north Indian’ boy leaked out through the cousin grapevine. This aunt reduced my mom , her adoring younger sister to a sobbing mess and told her she had ‘not raised her daughter well’. I do not blame her for completely wrecking my relationship with my parents for a good 2 years but she had a large part to play. This aunt riled my aging grandmom against my mom and dad and my poor dad had to work years on end to get back into his mother in law’s good graces.
I was exceptionally nervous to face this aunt a few days leading to the wedding and spent the majority of my time trying to avoid one on one time with her.
Since then though, I do think I have matured and have realized that it is better to face my fears head on. She might say something hurtful, but I am trying to forgive and forget and move on . So since our wedding, we have met her a few times and  you have been your charming best on all these occasions.
I was so nervous about their visit to NYC and our home and dragged you into an argument before they arrived this weekend.  I was worried what they would say about our house, our lifestyle and even adorable Bandar whose vocabulary is mostly English. I spent a furious 48 hours trying to teach Bandar a smattering of Tamil, shouted at you to shave and  numerous other small things. For a short time there I was ashamed – ashamed that we were not ‘settled’ in the traditional seonse, lived in a 5th floor walk up instead of a conventional house in the suburbs and had a child who refused to learn her mother’s mother tongue. How ridiculous was I ? What was I trying to prove and to whom? And why?
I need not have worried at all. They loved the sunny, well lit apartment, the ringing of church bells from across the street and only cribbed about the walk up a handful of times , that is totally reasonable given their age and physical condition . Bandar of course , amused them in her usual endearing way like only an innocent child can and you my dear, took the cake with your charm. No one would call you an introvert as you drew them into conversation and picked out topics of interest to them for light discussions  ,and I honestly think they are so comfortable with you now, way more than their own standoffish son-in-law. You graciously ate the food that was cooked, even though it might not have been particularly what you would have liked. And last night on your birthday instead of getting to choose the Italian restaurant you were dying to try , you gave in and we went to a South Indian restaurant instead. You were such a sport about this and I know I would have sulked and cribbed if I had to give in to accomodate your extended family. At the end of it, they were not particularly pleased with the meal but I still see the evening and their overall visit as highly successful. 

Honey, I know you endure everything and do whatever you can for my happiness since the day you asked me out almost 10 years ago. The ‘parental approval’ saga is behind us by a good 5 years now but I do not think I had mentally and emotionally patched all the broken relationships till this weekend. Somehow in a strange way, these 4 days were the end of some longer forgiveness journey I had to undergo. You have stood by my side every step of the way and for this I am thankful.

Though you are but 15 months older than me, you are definitely the mature, understanding and accommodating one. Your 30 th birthday came and went by yesterday and though you didn’t particularly care for many of the small and big gifts I gave you , I am adding one more to the list – I promise to bring in my compassion and maturity to future issues pertaining to your immediate and extended family. This itself will reduce our arguments by over 50%. Oh,  but I am still going to bug you about shaving! Even when you are a lazy 90 year old!

#100HappyDays – Happy moments from my trip

14 Apr

Silly me! I thought I would have more time on my hands to blog when I traveled for work. Phew! It was an exhausting 4 days and I glad to be home.
It’s still weird to call NYC home but it was oddly comforting to arrive at JFK and take the subway home, immersed in the throngs of people. I actually missed the sirens, the crowds, the dirt and everything in the short time that i was away.
Of course,  the people make the place home and I was just glad to return and hug my lovely husbadoo and Bandar.
I was a little wary as to how Bandar would behave when she saw me. The last time I traveled about 6 weeks ago, she sulked a good 30 minutes before letting me hold her. This time though she came straight to me and wanted me to pick her up even before I had washed my hands. The husbadoo surpassed all expectations in holding down the fort here. I must have married well and am truly blessed.

Some happy moments from Austin that pale in comparison to the return above-
Having a good heart to heart discussion with my manager about my career. It is not necessarily progressing at the rate that I want but it was good to know that the path to get to my goal is definitely interesting and will keep me stimulated and challenged. A few alternate paths also were discussed last week that make me feel hopeful and positive about the future.

Walking down the aisles at work and bumping into all the friendly faces. Innumerable people came by to hug me and ask how we were doing in NYC. I miss these small things now that I work remote.

Meeting my buddies. It was so much fun catching up with some true friends and the dinners at their homes , outside, playing board games till midnight on a working day all filled my heart with so much warmth and joy and  I can go a few more months leading this solitary life in NYC.

Planning a on the spur trip with the above mentioned friends, the husbadoo and Bandar. A spontaneous discussion on travel plans led us to book tickets for a Caribbean getaway with our best friends in a  month’s time. Now for planning the itinerary and details.

Going out for meals without the husbadoo in Austin to our frequented places was a tad sad. Nevertheless, I got my fill my Tex Mex and returned stuffed.

Driving my car. I am usually not  fan of driving at all, it tires me and I am not a confident driver at all.But I have missed being behind the wheel and it was fun to drive my car to work like I have done for the 6 years before we moved.

#100HappyDays – Another post with some happy Tid bits

8 Apr

A lot of my happy moments are around Thursdays. Why you ask? That’s because on alternate Thursdays,  the husbadoo typically goes in a little late to work and we try to have lunch together apart from other fun morning activities together. (Ahem!)
Last Thursday we choose to go to a tiny little shack for Desi Kati Rolls. I am actually not a huge fan of them at all and this one was just average with a paneer filling I could have made at home but the thick cut potato chips with the lovely , extra red,  fiery,  desi masala were worth the $5. They were  finger lickingly awesome and we washed it down with tapioca tea from our newly discovered tea place. We then parted for him to go to work and I returned home , also to work.

Fridays also feature heavily on my happy list as I pick up Bandar just after lunch. She usually comes home and naps for two hours. Off late , she has been getting up in a crabby mood. I remember being  5 or 6 years old and being in an extremely bad mood after a weekend afternoon nap. This Friday I was prepared. I made her some yummy popcorn in coconut oil( so damn good!) and opened up a new toy – a small musical, ferris wheel with little dolls that can sit in it.
She was thrilled and had great fun playing with it all evening. The cutest part as she has 5 little dolls and only 4 fit at a time, she makes one wait its turn. She talks to the little doll and says – ” Wait ,baby. See, baby. Your turn.” This is all because of learning to share and waiting her turn at school. Everyday I am amazed at all the crazy stuff she says and does. Seriously a fun age. Wish I could freeze time.

Saturday was pretty awesome. The husbadoo recently joined a cricket club and was looking forward to a game that day but it got canceled because of a wet pitch from rains the day before. Anyway,  we headed to Central Park and spent a pleasant one hour at a playground there. After Bandar ate her picnic lunch and dozed in her stroller, we picked up an ice cream cone to share and walked to burger place for lunch. Yummy burgers, fries and a cosy chat with one’s spouse – pretty perfect. On days like this when Bandar sleeps in her stroller when we are out, we can either go home and sleep beside her or make use of our time and get a lunch date like this. That means we sacrifice our nap though as Bandar is fresh as a daisy when we eventually head home. Still we had a relaxing evening with her at home and ended the day watching a few episodes of ‘House of Cards’ after she went to bed.

Sunday started with slightly dampened spirits as I was leaving on my business trip that afternoon. I spent the morning cooking some food for the husbadoo and Bandar and doing simple but random things like laying out 4 outfits for Bandar for the days I will be away. A friend at work was so surprised I did all this and asked if the husbadoo cannot manage even these things on his own. The answer is he is fully capable of cooking for himself and the Bandar and is probably more adept that me in picking a color coordinated outfit. But I do want to make his life easier when he is dealing with a cranky baby who is missing her mommy and not have him sort through piles of laundry or deal with menu planning and execution. What is marriage if you don’t help each other a little, right? He does simple tasks like refilling the soap dispenser, changing the liner on our diaper dispenser, taking the trash out (funny how all those are bathroom and trash related tasks!) just to make my life a little easier every day.
I also baked some yummy banana bread using whole wheat flour, bananas, apple sauce, choc chips, flax seeds, chia seeds and a tiny bit of  maple syrup. So good! Bandar loved it and we spent a glorious one hour before I left home watching her gobble the bread and amuse us with her silly antics.

I was sad to leave of course , but I know it is for a short while and am actually a little glad to get a break too. It really is nice to relax on a flight with a good book and play 2048 on repeat . It is nice to spend a few days with my team and friends. I enjoyed dressing up for work today and driving my old car in. I drove past our old place and was a little sad, but I know one day we will be better settled and be in our own place in a city like this. I love coming to Austin, it is where I started my career, lived alone, blossomed from a silly grad student to a young professional, made my first best friends, introduced my boyfriend to my parents, brought home my new groom, delivered my first baby. Even Bombay for me is sadly only home till my parents choose to live there. But Austin on the other hand, will always be that first home I built for myself.
Anyway it is late now and I need to sleep before I go in for early morning meetings. Unlike in NYC , I cannot roll out of bed and start a call in my pajamas.
I miss the Bandar but funnily enough miss the husbadoo more. He is best friend , my soulmate and really the one I want to talk to at the end of the day. When I am here, I vaguely feel guilty eating at some of our favorite haunts around this city.
Phew, this last part is a jumble of words and emotions and I am dog tired so am going to hit publish and turn it for the night!

The Wedding

3 Apr

My best friend got married recently to her boyfriend and she was busy planning every single detail for her outfits, accessories, the ceremonies from the US . The wedding took place in India but she was extremely in tune with all the preparation and ensured her vision for the wedding came through and was executed to perfection. They had their wedding website, their engagement pictures and their own invite (different from  the one their parents designed).
When I look back on our wedding that took place almost 5 years ago , it was different in every aspect. I almost feel we were guests at our own wedding and just did exactly what were told, wore what we were told and just let our parents direct and produce the grand event.

We got married really young by most standards. I was 23 ( 2 months from my 24th birthday) and the husbadoo had just turned 25. It was life changing month for him overall – finishing his Ph.D , turning 25 and of course, marrying me.
A majority of our friends commented that we were too young and joked that it was like a child marriage. Looking at our wedding pics, we do appear really young and innocent. Neither of us cared much about these comments though. We were in love and our parents were finally coming around . Nothing else mattered.

As far as wedding preparation went, we both were in our respective cities in the US while our folks back home planned the wedding in true Indian fashion – the location, the ceremony, the catering etc .
Of course, our families had their own preferences and though everyone was nicey nice to each other on the surface, each set of parents complained to their kids about the other family’s choices and why they were so wrong.
Now neither the husbadoo nor I had any preference on any of this but we did want to support our own families and argued with each other and saw the issue only from the eyes of our own parents. If we did have our own preferences on anything, I think it was buried so deep inside that we never let it surface at all. It was all about what our respective parents wanted. I had further issues that i was putting my parents through the trauma of an inter community marriage and as they had finally accepted even that, I now wanted every little thing related to the marriage to be done in the way they wanted and made this abunduntly clear to the hubadoo. Those months leading up to the wedding were extremely hard on our relationship.

My mom picked my sarees for the ceremony, and though extremely. beautiful as they were , I was not asked for my choice of colors or anything. It was just one of the many tasks she did. No pictures were shared of the final picks either. They were just shown to me when I landed in Bombay a week before the wedding.
My in laws wanted to pick my reception lehenga with me so we all traipsed to the shops – the husbadoo, I , our parents and some aunts. I was happy to atleast be asked.
Each of our families wanted to see the ceremony done in their own community’s style – so we had a complete Tam Brahm wedding first, a Gujarati wedding immediately after that, and  a reception by the seaside that very evening. A day that started at 4 am and ended past midnight for the bride and groom.

For the Tamilian ceremony, I was dressed exactly how my mom had visualized me –  down to the million flowers in my fake hair and the several sovereigns of gold she had painstakingly collected since my birth.We had a Tamilian beautician work on me and when it was done, I could barely recognize myself. My only saving grace was that I had lost a good 15 lbs for the wedding and was at my skinniest best . This helped me not look humongous in the 9 yards sari that was draped later. To start with I was in the 6 yards one.
I hated everything about my look and could have pulled a long face but then I stepped out onto the mandap to catch a glimpse of my handsome boyfriend,  topless but for his angavastram (cloth wrapped around him) and his traditional veshti , smiling at me, dimples and all. He looked the very picture of a good Iyer boy and put many a true one to shame. I still think it was this look that even swept my mom of her feet that day. His natural charm and personality had even my most crusty and judgmental great aunts warm up and smile for a change.

From that minute onwards, my mood was uplifted and I sat through every ceremony ,almost in a dreamlike stupor, just so happy that I was marrying this man, who would go to the ends of the earth to make my family and in turn, me very happy.

He too says that the first glimpse of me in my blue six yard sari was enough to keep him happy all through the day. We had the Tamilian traditions play out – the Kashi yatra, the jhula , the ceremonies, the changing into the nine yards sari for me, the kanyadhan on my father’s lap. I remember holding my dad’s hand tightly as I sat on his lap and him squeezing it in turn and then I looked into the husbadoo’s eyes as he got set to tie my mangalsutra. The non-verbal communication I shared with these two men in those five minutes will stay with me for life.

After the Tamilian wedding was over, it was now his mother’s moment and she quickly took over directing Act 2. We were grabbed a minute too soon to my mother’s liking ( of course, you can never keep your families completely happy , can you?) and a group of my mother in law’s make up women transformed me into a Gujarati bride in the traditional red and white sarees. The husbadoo looked prince like in his Sherwani and everyone on both sides commented that we looked the part perfectly in each ceremony. We came on stage for the Gujarati pandit to start his role. The interesting part was that both communities had their own version of almost the exact same ceremonies.
After that we were the last ones to lunch. It was maybe 3 pm by then, not sure. The lunch following the wedding was a beautiful mix of traditional Tamilian and Gujarati dishes.Here I am talking Tam wedding potato curry and Thayirsadham coupled with Dhokla and Undhiyo!
It was quite late when we were done, but my mom was not going to be done out of the important Tamilian ceremony of taking the groom to the bride’s house. So we drove all the way to South Bombay to my house and then after the said ceremony was done, the husbadoo drove all the way back to Central Bombay. I meanwhile was whisked away to the beauty parlour . Here they noticed I actually had a slight cut on my cheek. There is no saying who caused it – the Tamilian beautician or the Gujju one. Anyway, they covered it up and I was ready for our reception.
The reception was really our favorite part of the wedding, it was by the sea in South Bombay and there was a nice breeze that balmy May evening. We stood on stage for what seemed like hours and  there were some fun controversies about which side the bride was supposed to stand as this differs in south and north India. Thankfully in the confusion of welcoming 1000 plus people, a lot of compromises were made all around . We probably had 10 friends through our college gang/s show up,less than 1% of the crowd. Anyway, we shared a few candid happy moments that evening and were fairly relaxed.
We sat down for dinner with our immediate families around 11 pm and as I looked around the table, I felt a sense of accomplishment of having merged these two different clans and actually having survived the day.Our only regret is not being able to enjoy the food as we were so tired from all the standing and posing.
So that is how we got married. It was probably our parents’ day and not really ours but at the end of it we were married and all was okay in our world.

Playdate anyone?

1 Apr

In Austin , we had several different groups of friends and were pretty close to two specific couples and a lot of weekends were spent with them. After Bandar made her appearance in 2012 and our mobility was a little limited , our closest friends were totally cool with coming over on a Friday/ Saturday night after dinner and waiting till we got Bandar to sleep and playing board games till 2 am.
I sometimes had a dessert ready, sometimes chips, sometimes drinks..didn’t really matter.There were absolutely no formalities involved. They have seen our house at its messiest best and never really judged (at least commented). Often I would have to go and pat,rock, feed Bandar to sleep if we saw her sitting up on the baby monitor and everyone was fine with pausing the game for me.
Apart from these close friends, we had other friends for casual dinners, friends who we had nothing in common with but kids and they served to be good resources on all things baby, the husbadoo’s cricket buddies whose mysterious wives never as much as gave us a glance when we bumped into them somewhere but the men acted like they were the best of buds with each other.
We had packed weekends and I remember being pissed off for a period after our wedding when we hardly got time to just hang out alone.
Anyway, now we hardly have any friends here in NYC. Bandar goes to school with a bunch of kids whose moms all seem nice and cordial and to be fair, play dates in the park have been discussed for Spring. But in the last 2 months, it has just been our little family unit, which for the most part is fun but yes it would be nice to have some friends.

We took Bandar to the park last weekend and she started playing with a girl about 2 months older. The parents seemed genuinely friendly and we struck up a conversation on daycares, weird child behavior, places to eat etc etc. I really thought there was a genuine connection there. As we got ready to leave I said to the mom , ” So should we exchange numbers and maybe arrange a play date for the kids?”
She said , ” Definitely, they are so close in age and appear to really like playing together.”
She took out her phone to text me, so that I would have her number. My cell phone as usual wasn’t charged but I told her I would respond once I charged it.
We left and the husbadoo and I discussed the conversation and were glad we had met a nice family.  I of course, started visualizing fun play dates at our house or theirs with the girls playing and the adults sipping wine.
I got home and charged my phone to find no message at all! So I did not have her number. Did she fake texting me?
Was it weird / creepy/ desperate/ all of the above of me to suggest exchanging numbers?
I gave her the benefit of doubt for  24 hours and when no message came even then, I assumed she never did text me.
I am now super embarrassed to go back to the same park in case, we bump into them again. They live really close to it, so there is a good chance we will see them sooner or later. I do not know if I should even mention the text that I never received or just act normal and not talk about it at all.
Ughhh! This whole thing is just so embarrassing overall. I am now too nervous to even suggest a phone number exchange with any other parent, especially one I just met. I have over analyzed this situation so much and the husbadoo is teasing me about it as well!
What would you do if you were in my place and saw them again?