Friday, April 28, 2017


While practicing for one of dance program, a co-dancer mentioned about a volleyball tournament and how they are looking for players.  I was excited to hear that and told her that I had played during school and college days.  I was not very good but loved to play any sport.  Here was another opportunity after almost 20 years to play the game.  I signed up for the tournament and we came as runner up.  We have been playing most weekends when the weather is good.

My boy also accompanied me during the initial practices and enjoyed playing the game.  He was much better than me in setting and placing that he used to coach others how to do it in his style.  The ladies loved having him around.  He never liked playing on my side since it always ended up with us fighting.  He always joined the opposite team to spite me when I missed his ball or drop.  We had so much fun going to the games.  In two years, he has grown out of that phase that now he feels awkward to come play with us.  The ladies miss him in the court, but he does not want to play with us anymore.  He says he is not challenged enough when he plays with us.

We have two state players in our team who coach us.  There is so much friendly banter and we have so much fun.  There are women who have never played the game and a few who have played in school.  Our fitness level sucks and we are working on that too. 

Every weekend we look forward to playing and get sad if there is rain in forecast.  We get home made snacks to eat after our game.  We take turns and the messages that goes back and forth to plan is hilarious.  I don't participate much in those conversations but it is still a fun bunch to hang out with.  Our age group ranges from mothers with young kids to ones with kids in high school.  What I enjoy the most is how energetic I feel when I play the game I used to play when I was in school and getting an opportunity to play after all these years.

Thursday, April 27, 2017


Dancing always fascinated me when I was young.  Bharatnatyam in particular.  I wanted to join classes.  Like any middle class tambram family, my mom said 'it is an expensive art.  We cannot afford it.  Besides, you cannot dance after a certain age but you can sing at any age.'  She put me into music classes.  But dance still held its firm grip on me.  We were members at the Mylapore Fine Arts Club and there would be at least a couple of dance programs every month.  There was also the yearly dance festival that followed the music season in December.  My mom would go to music concerts while I would be interested only in the dance programs.  She wouldn't take me to many but she still was interested in watching the best performers during that time.

I would come back and mimic their steps.  I would watch those 30 mins programs that would come on DD and would want to try out the abhinayas.  In school and college, my friends would not take me for dance programs once they knew I have never performed before.  My mom would be embarrassed to know my interest in dance and not showing such inclination towards music.  I do love to sing, but I always wanted to dance.

After I got married and came to US, I would go to the local Tamil sangam programmes.  I would see people perform but never thought much about it.  Then college, work, kids happened and life moved on.  10 years later, I started volunteering at the Tamil school as an associate teacher.  The kids performed during annual day celebration and I would help my daughter with her steps and costume.  Couple of more years later, the adult volunteers decided to perform during Pongal celebration.  Couple of mothers asked me if I would be interested to perform.  I was pleasantly surprised that here is the opportunity I was waiting for my whole life.  A chance to dance.  I thought 'why not? Let me atleast try.'  So showed up for the first practice and it was ok.  The body was stiff, the grace was there in some movements but not in others.  It was pure fun.  Laughing and giggling, remembering the steps, deciding the costume, worried about wearing a saree and dancing, the whole experience made my heart lighter.

That performance was well received and I have performed every year at Tamil school after that.  The girls I performed with took me under their wings and we became a tight knit unit.  We ventured into performing at other programs too.  One of them found out about a Bollywood dance class offered for adults and showed interest to join.  I too went with her to see how it was.  It is a fusion of workout and dance.  We sweat a lot and laugh a lot too.  Good workout and great rapport.  Since the class is from 8-9pm, once a week, I am not worried about dinner or other activities.  It has been three weeks and I enjoy every minute of it.  My kids are excited to see me on stage too and have no complaints with me going for my own class.

I came to know recently that there are many adults who have started learning Bharatnatyam after coming here.  Same story as mine, parents did not send them and now they do it because they wanted to.  Some have completed arangetram.  If only I had known this earlier, maybe I would have done that too.  My daughter still tells me that if I can start now and I may complete it in 8-10 years.  I don't have that kind of patience now.

My mom still not too happy with my dance ventures.  She enquires if there are any such music classes and why I am not focusing more on singing.  Dance is what makes my heart light, dance is what keeps my confidence high, dance is what took me out of my mental agony four years back, dance is what gave me my friends that I have now who have stood by me, dancing makes me forget myself.  I may not be the best dancer, but dancing sure puts a huge smile on my face. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Toxic People

There are few people in my life who just erode my self esteem and confidence.  Every time I think of them or talk to them, they just pull me down.  I have removed a few from every day life but when such people happen to be close family, it is very difficult to cut off completely.  How to not remain unaffected is something I am still struggling to find a balance.

Even if I have not spoken or kept in touch with such a person for two years, all it takes is a phone call for them to spew venom again.  It takes days for me to get out of that episode.  My mind gets filled with garbage of the past incidents and how I could have reacted a different way or could have taken a strong stand against them.  Something I may never do but the instances and incidents play non stop in my mind.

I have regained my pride and self esteem only in the past couple of years and don't want to lose it again.  Even when I remain at a safe distance from the toxic people and have conditioned myself to not get affected, I am not there yet.  Yes, I am able to bounce back much quicker, but the few days before I bounce back is hell.  I am so filled with rage and self pity that I don't like myself much when I am in that state of mind.

When I pray, I sometimes struggle not knowing what to pray for.  My peace of mind or asking to keep such people away from my life or clearing the darkness in my mind quickly.  Whatever it is, I want to get back to normalcy soon.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Change is the only constant thing in life.  My life has been a roller coaster for the past 5 years and I yearn for some kind of normalcy at least for a certain period of time.  Things keep coming one after the other that there are times when I don't even get a breather between two events. 

Something similar is happening right now.  Last four weeks has been so emotional for me.  And unfortunately this has nothing to do with my dad's demise.  If it was because of my grief, at least I would blame my emotional ride on that.  But there are issues that I am pulled into that I cannot come out of.  I don't want to come out of it because it involves people I love.  I have a feeling appa has put me in his place and is looking at me to see how I come out of this.  I seek his guidance all the time and think how he would resolve this.  I see a lot of appa in me as I go through my way of dealing with situation.  I can see I am unable to take sides.  I can only see what is right and what is wrong and not see who is right and who is wrong. 

I keep asking questions why I am put through this.  The 'Why Me' question has been a constant.  Unless I change the situation, there is no way it is going to change by itself.

Yesterday there was a change in workplace too.  I got swapped out with another worker from another team for project reasons.  It was initially difficult for me to understand but by the end of the day I knew it was the best decision for the project.  I started with my new team today and whatever little I have seen of the product, I am thrilled.  I can see myself growing in that space.  Maybe this is the best move for me.  I may not have initiated any of this, but I am ok to embrace the change.

This was not easy before.  I would get stuck on 'why me' for too long.  Now I am able to get over the 'why me' much quicker.  I keep asking 'why not'.  That calms me down.  In front of the bigger picture, these small changes don't hold importance as before.  Does this mean I have calmed down from inside that such changes don't ruffle me for too long.  If so, so be it.

Friday, April 14, 2017


Decision making is a tricky art.  When growing up I was not aware of this integral part of life that in adult life I struggled to make decisions and be at peace with it.  I was looking for others to tell me what to do because it was easier to follow than to lead.  Growing up most of the decisions were taken by my parents and I felt it was the right thing for me.  Even in a couple of instances when I had doubts and voiced them, at the end of it, somehow I could not rebel enough to get my wish.

Even after marriage, I struggled to make decisions.  At least the major ones.  It took me a long time to understand the importance of knowing to make decisions and being ok with the results.  If the end result is favorable then you made the right decision, if it is not favorable it still teaches you a lesson of where you went wrong in the decision making process.  Taking the blame for wrong decisions is the key part.  Lot of people do not like to own the end result so shy away from decision making.  It is easier to blame others in case of failure. 

I am now comfortable making decisions.  Though I struggle if I don't understand the situation fully, but most of the time I am ok with making one.  Either you fail or you succeed.  I am ok with both.  But the comfort level I have with decision making makes me wonder if I am the same person I was not too long ago. 

I am letting my kids make decisions and learn from mistakes so that they are not afraid to make decisions in life.  I cannot be with them all the time nor do I want to make decisions for them all the time.  I want to be the guide not the authority.  Yes since they are young, we are responsible for their life but I am aware that I need to let go so that they will use their own wings to fly.

I know mothers who still want to control every decisions of their children even after marriage.  Neither the mother understands the importance of letting go nor does the children understand the need to live their life in their own terms.  The hardest part is for those people who are married into such family and struggle to make sense of such family dynamics.  I am pretty sure such politics exists in every family in different degrees.

Decision making is not hard.  You just need to be brave to face the consequences that comes out of it.  Be happy if the decision worked out right and know how to fix the issues if decision did not work out as expected. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Blame game

There are a few people in my life who blame other things/people/situations for their problems.  These people never focus on their issues but would rather go around talking/gossiping about other's problems.  Sometimes I feel such people focus on other's issues just to escape introspecting the issue on hand.  It is easy to talk or point fingers about other people issues.  When forced to confront with their own issues, these people try to blame others for their issues.  That becomes even more easier than to figure out the cause of issue. 

Unless a person changes because they want to bring about change, no one else can fix issues in one's life.  You may provide perspectives, but unless the person realizes and wants to bring about the change, it is very difficult to fix the problem.  It is almost like how counselors guide you through the process but will never make the decision for you.  You have to make the decision since you have to be convinced with the decision you made as you are the one who is going to live with it.

I am not sure if it is immaturity or ego that stops people from introspecting their lives.  What is causing stress?  What is the cause of their misery?  How to get out of that terrible mental state?  They never realize that blame game never gets them anywhere.  It is like the dog trying to catch its own tail.  You go running around in circles but with no solution.  Such people do not listen to others too easily.  They think the others are trying to put the blame on them and become very defensive when help is offered.  They make not only their own life miserable but also the people around them.  No one is happy at the end of the day.

My dad always used to say 'look at the dirt on your butt before looking at others.'  He was crass that way while making a point.  It took me a while to understand that each of us are responsible for our own misery or happiness.  Situations and people may present different hues in our lives, but what we choose to do with them is only under our control.  Cutting out toxic people or situations is sometimes necessary for our mental peace.  It becomes a difficult choice but needs to be done.  Handling situations to help others see the issues requires tact which may sometimes backfire. 

If people can work through their issues without their ego interfering then a lot of good can come out the situation.  Arguments will become less noisy and more meaningful as issues are sorted out. 

Too many thoughts going across the mind hence this terrible post.  No coherence at all but this has to come out of my system for my own sanity.

Friday, April 7, 2017

I can do it

When we were young, my dad used to cut our nails every Sunday.  It was like a ritual for him to gather us kids around to trim our nails.  I used to bite my nails till I was about 8 or 9 and used to get reprimanded by my dad every week since he would not find any nails on my fingers.  I used to get a speech about how biting nails with teeth is not allowed in our house and that it is such a bad and yucky habit.

One night when I was 10, after I got into bed, which was a pai and thalagani because it was super hot in summer and minimum was always preferred, I felt something making its way up my ankle and leg.  I shook my leg once and still felt something crawling up.  I screamed and jumped out of my position and switched on the light to find out what was crawling up my leg.  I was thinking more in the lines of cockroach or ant.  What I found instead was a long big yellow and black centipede wriggling away from my pai.  My mom quickly got a broom to sweep it away and threw it out of the house.  I was trembling the whole time thinking of its size.  My  mom came back and told me that it was because of my nail biting habit (echai pannarathu) that we are getting all these critters in the house.  After that day, I never bit my nails nor do I echai pannify.  I will wash my hands immediately even if I have to do so.  I still have a vivid memory of that black and yellow centipede. End of digression.

When I went to meet appa in January, I saw that his nails were little longer than he usually allows them to grow.  I offered to cut his nails.  I have done it for my grandpa and my father-in-law.  So I thought he would also let me do it for him.  He looked at his nails and said 'I can do it myself.  I don't need you to do it for me'.  Saying so, he got up and went to his office room where he usually kept his nail cutter and cut his nails.  He came back to show me his nails and said 'I am capable of doing my own things. I will ask you when I am unable to do it myself.'

He wanted to do everything by himself and probably asked only my mom for certain things.  What was under his control, he wanted to keep it in control and not give it up easily.

Thursday, April 6, 2017


My dad read law books and law journals all the time.  The only other books he read were Reader's Digest or an occasional Illustrated Weekly.  He took care of his books well and expected the same from the people around him.  He never liked us folding the corners of pages or inverting the book while taking a break.  He said that the book spine gets weak if you invert an open book.  He made book marks at home and used them for all his books.  He cut wedding invitation card's decorative edges and made them into book marks.  He encouraged us to use book marks and distributed them to others too. 

My mom was mentioning this yesterday when she found a bunch of book marks while clearing out his desk.  She was telling me how such small things make her remember him for the perfectionist that he was.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Who will cry when you die

I have read this book.  I have always wondered the kind of impact people leave in others life.  Are people happy that you are dead or do they mourn for your death.

My dad was a lawyer who practiced till he was 79 and had to quit because of his knee pain and not because of he was ready to quit.  The last two years he regretted not being able to work because of his knees and how he would rather be at court.  How many people are fortunate to have a career like that.  He completed 50 years of legal practice and had scores of clients.  We never knew his life outside our house.  He has never discussed  with us his cases or whether he won a case or how his day at court went.

He worked in a leading law firm for 30 years before he started his own practice at home.  The typist from that law firm came home to meet us.  She was crying so much that we had to console her.  The things she shared us made us realize the impact my dad had on her life and career.  She was from a poor family of five girls.  She had studied in tamil medium school and joined as a typist in this law firm.  She had confided in my dad that she does not know English well and may make mistakes while typing.  My dad, in his own signature way, had told her 'why are you worried.  I will train you and take care of you.'  She told us that he taught her how to type legal writ petitions, counter petitions, stay orders, and rambled off other numbers that we had no clue of. How he never dictated stuff but always wrote what needed to be typed.  There was no need for rough draft.  Everything was fair copy.  That was how good he was with these documents.  She said 'what I am today is only because of sir.  Avar illana naan inniki onnume illa.'  Even if he gave me 10Rs on Jan 1st, I got money for the rest of the year.  He had asked her if she wanted sewing machine or table fan since Usha was one of his clients and he could get it for a cheaper rate for her.

She said how he was always punctual, coming to office, going to the court, or meeting clients.  She said he had the most clients in the office.  How he wished her every morning as soon as he entered the office.  When her dad passed away, my dad had requested the law firm to pitch in to perform the last rites.  He also gave money and she said that her dad's last rites would not have happened if not for my dad.  We had no clue about this till she shared this with us.  He lived by his motto 'what the right hand gives even the left hand should not know.'

He had recommended her to other lawyers in his firm and at the court so that she got more work.  She recollected how well she was treated during sadhbhishekam and how my dad enquired personally on that day whether she had lunch.  'Antha mathiri oru manushana parkave mudiyathu.  Sir than enakku deivam mathiri.  Oru photo kudungo, I will keep it in my pooja room.'

Another typist from the court also had similar things to say about appa.  How appa gave money when her son joined college and when his marriage got fixed.  All these folks were invited for his sadhabhishekam and were given sarees. 

It was so heartrending to hear all these anecdotes about appa.  It is not enough to treat your clients well.  It is important to treat your staff with respect and affection.  We could see where these people held my dad in their heart.  My brother and I had tears when she was recalling all these instances but at the same time felt so much pride too.

We knew our dad was generous to the fault.  He raised us that way too.  He would say 'the more you give, the more you get.'  Never hold things for yourself if it can be of help to others.  His teachings on generosity deserves a separate post.

Who will cry when I die...

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

To write again about appa

I went home thinking I will experience the full extent of the grief of losing my dad.  It was rather strange going home without my dad in his room.  The ceremonies were kind of brutal.  I broke down quite a bit when the priest explained the proceedings.  My dad never liked anyone eating their rice rolled into balls.  Even on a rare occasion when we did that, he would chide us not to eat like that.  The 12 day ceremonies involved rolling rice into balls and I did not like to give my dad those rice balls.

My dad liked to eat good food but was a stickler to the quantity he ate.  He always preached eating half stomach.  During the 10th day ceremony, there were multiple items cooked and served on the same banana leaf and the belief is that that the soul will be fed up of eating so much food that it will depart.  What was going through my mind was that my dad would hate seeing so much food served for him.  On a rare occasion, if my mom offered to serve him one more serving than his usual quantity, he would say to my mom 'I cannot eat for your satisfaction.  I can only eat for my satisfaction.'  I was thinking, my dad would just get up and leave than to even attempt to eat all this food.  He was very particular about the way he led his life.  No one dare mess with him.

The helper who was with my dad the last 17 days visited and told me few instances of his conversation with my dad during those 17 days.  He told me that dad cooperated with him the initial few days when he still had strength in his body.  As he got weaker and weaker, my dad had told him once, 'you should never be dependent on others'.  The helper said that dad had a quick temper.  I told him, may be he was helpless so it came out as anger.  Another instance my dad had told the helper 'unkitta vanthu ippadi mattinduttene.'  The helper was a professional who has seen such people.  My mom had only good words about the helper, how patient he was with appa.  My dad maybe knew that he may not gain back the energy to get back to doing stuff by himself.  He had always been independent in his life that he never wanted to be dependent on anyone for anything.  Appa always got what he wanted.  Maybe his end too the way he wanted and when he wanted.

So many memories, so many daily instances when we recall what appa would have said or done.  He is in our conversations like always. Like he is in the bedroom sleeping.  Like he is in his office room reading the newspaper. 

I can write so many posts on him and I want to write all those in the coming days.