Friday, December 23, 2011

The housewife

Definition: A married woman whose main occupation is caring for her family, managing household affairs, and doing housework.

So I am listening to a conversation between two men. One - is my husband ... the other is the bank manager from HDFC

Suresh : "So why cannot you insure her"

Manager : "Sir she is a housewife. Per a study blah blah and statistics blah blah ... we insure only the bread winner in the household"

Suresh: " OKKKKK" (Have any of you heard Suresh say OK when he is getting ready to make an argument! It is very long)

Suresh: "She has the capability and qualification to be a bread winner. Tomorrow if she goes out and looks for a job she will make far more than I do right now. I want to insure that capability and qualification of her's - So can you insure her Capability and qualification."

Even though I wanted to knock the manager around a little bit I forgot about it in an instant and my head grew 4 times its size.
Its the moments like these when someone else vouches for you that you feel you can conquer the world!
Its moments like this that I currently live for!
Its moments like this that make the PhD worth it :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A few Good people - The journey home Part DEUX

I think the media bring us bad news all the time. I remember a friend from our old church say 'There is more good news than the media puts out'.

So in saying the above I must say there are more GOOD people than BAD people ... A few I would like to mention who came out of the blue and helped us during the last few hours in the United States


Mitel, Koby and Ziva

First to mention our neighbor Koby. When you first meet Koby and Mitel you instantly fall in love with Mitel. She is a total jabber mouth and has an excellent sense of humor. Koby on the other hand is a quiet aloof kinda guy. So even though Mitel had said that we could ask any help during our last few days in the US, we were a little reluctant since she had left for Israel and we would be going to Koby. Koby had disappeared from the neighborhood since Mitel left for her vacation to Israel (He runs a successful perfume business and was busy with work). However four days before we left and just as our things were being packed, he knocked on the door and ' Hi Siresh you need anything bed pillow etc .. let me know'. The next day we were down to one car which we were selling to Koby anyway and he asked if he could take it for inspection. Suresh and I had been hoping to keep the car till the day we left (HA HA right) and told Koby we had a couple more errands to run. He says 'No Problem take my car' pointing at his BMW SUV... ummmm NO! Koby realizing this says 'Fine take the other Mini van'. We agreed and realized that we could sit only 4 people (we were five) in the Mini Van since the back had been dropped for luggage. Koby says 'Seriously take the BWM'. We actually rode it to Bethesda and forgot to fill gas!
Thanks to Koby we had a car till we rented our cars to Newark Airport!

Didi, Uncle, Aunty and BIRYANI
Didi and Baqir --- Baqir was Isaac's favorite buddy! He still misses him.

I have mentioned our neighbors Uncle, Aunty and Didi in a post previously.(
Didi came to us a few days before we left and said ' We would like to make moving easier for you guys and bring some food over' We said OKand decided on Friday - three days before we left the US. Didi, Uncle and aunty have had a rough year with health issues, job searches and other challenges. We really did not want to trouble them but we said OK anyway. On Friday, after all the movers had left and we were in our house with nothing but a few travel bags and some trash bags Didi came over with a big bowl of steaming hot biryani, raita and wonderful Kheer. It had been a long day for us with the packing and moving and kids crying and adults whining. We could not have asked for a better meal. Thanks Didi for a wonderful meal to remember on the last night in our house in Hanover, MD

Cleaning and Veronica
Camila and Ziva-- sharing nap time

Veronica is our cleaning lady and has been since we moved to Maryland. Every house we moved to in Maryland - we were among other things worried if Veronica would come clean it! She has been a blessing. Interestingly the day Veronica told me she was 3 months pregnant was the day the day I found out that I was pregnant. She came to clean our place till she was 7 months pregnant and the we missed her so much when she didnt come. When we told her we were moving (again - we have moved 3 houses in Maryland) she initially assumed that it was to another place in Maryland and her face fell when she realized we were moving out of the country ... not to come back! Veronica went out of her way to come on Saturday morning (she normally doesn't work the weekends) to clean the house. As she agreed to do this she also requested if she could bring her 3 month old daughter with her. We were very excited to see little Camila. After 3 hours of cleaning ... the landlord found our house spanking clean and returned our deposit back! Thank you Veronica :)

Brother Alex and a ride to an airport
Bro. Alex and Valsa chechy with Isaac and me

This one was the most unexpected of kindness and at the most unexpected and most needful time.
Brother Alex called the morning we were going to drive to Pennsylvannia. We were scrambling around the house cleaning up when he said he would like to stop by and pray with us. We were a little reluctant since we didnt even have a place for him to sit. We were also in a bit of a mess as far as picking up our rental cars from the airport were concerned. We realized that we would have to make two trips to the airport - First I would have to drop Suresh... he would have to pick up one rental car... come home and then drop me back to pick up the second rental! Right when we were debating how to make it less complicated Bro. Alex came. He had initially planned on coming in the afternoon since he would be on his way to church. However we had mentioned we would be in the midst of our final walk-through with our landlord. We didnt expect him to change his plans for us! But he did! And we are very thankful that he did! We got on quick drive to the airport and picked up both cars and were back home in a much less complex manner!

Vasu and airport chaos.
Vasu and Isaac

In our brilliance to avoid asking for help we were going to drive to Newark airport with two kids, two dogs, 11 pieces of luggage and two rental cars. Since we had two kids, two dogs and two cars we would first drop my mom off with two dogs and one kid (Ziva) and 11 pieces of luggage. We would then go drop off the cars at the rental and take the train into the airport. The we had to check in 11 pieces of luggage and two dogs. Mind you the two kids would be with us ad one of them probably running around creating havoc!. Mind you the distance between the airport and the car rental drop off at the Newark airport is about as far as driving to your closest Grocery store! 3 Stops by the airport train ride! Which means my mom was supposed to wait at the airport alone with two dogs and Ziva and a bottle of milk for about 1/2 hr (does not seem that long does it!)
The plan was brilliant and ironed out. I bet they will make Mission Impossible 6 based on this plan of ours!
One stop over at Suresh's Uncle's place saved us a lot of unnecessary stress. Suresh's cousin and I must say wise cousin Vasu. Vasu is Suresh's oldest cousin on his mother's side. There is something about Vasu that makes her seem very modest and nice and yet very sophisticated. She is simple and very lady like - but the thing that makes her very affectionate is that she always calls my mother-in-law -- her second mother. Vasu insisted on coming to the airport with us which was about an hour from her house. She helped us unload (something we had not taken into account). She waited with my mom and Ziva and made an emergency call to us when my mom could not find Ziva's milk bottle. She is a big dog lover and stood by the dog crate petting them and calming two very nervous dogs! I do not think we would have completed the entire check-in process in sanity without her help. Thanks Vasu!

So a few good people ... sent in perfect time to help us.

Hebrews 4:16

16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A bubble

I live in a little bubble called Ardendale close to Whitefield Bengaluru. Hats off to Suresh for finding this place. Its lovely!

What make Ardendale lovely is not the house really but the surrounding greenery. There are little shurbs and trees along the road and along each house. There is a little park where Isaac loves to swing and jump and sit in the sand. Ziva watches him closely as he goes busily from one activity to the next. His favorite though is definitely his sand toys and the sand.

But outside this bubble of mine is a different world. There is a small village right outside the gates of Ardendale. If you walk out in Capris you get teased by ... not boys ... but college girls. I got the comment of ' SUPERRR' when I walked out with Ziva in her Baby Bjorn and Isaac on his stroller. I asked for it since I had my sunglasses on and was wearing Capris! Not the best way to fit in. The village has a little bakery with sweet bread. It has a small cauliflower farm and a ton of other vegetables. Every morning a lady walks by our house selling fresh veggies, coriander and mint which seems like she just harvested!

Last Saturday as I walked to the tiny bakery I saw little boys dressed up in white for school... Little boys with no shoes happily walking in the slushy road. I wish I had a camera but I dont think I want to walk around with Suresh's big fat SLR ... so you may have to wait a bit before I get some pictures.

Isaac's favorite thing outside the gates of Ardendale are the goats and cows tied up for their meals :)

I love it so far!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Ziva and Bunny ---------- Yuvali's bunny!

Dear Ziva .... one day I will tell you of a little girl called Yuvali.
Dear Ziva ... one day when we play with bunny .... I will remind you of 3 year old Yuvali
Dear Ziva ... one day when you refuse to share ... We will reflect on Yuvali.
Dear Ziva ... one day you will learn to give as Yuvali did. Oh yes and give she did!

She gave to you her favorite bunny! Her bunny that comforted her and slept with her. Her bunny that she loved so much she gave to you because you were a baby and she wasnt anymore.
Dear Ziva one day we will learn to give like Yuvali!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

We made it ... The journey home

It has now been a month since we arrived in India and I have been thinking about what to put up in the blog. Life seems very simple right now. The simple pleasures are filling everyday and I am not sure whether everyone on the www wants to read about my simple life. Still I will write. Hoping that one day my little boy and girl will read this blog or at least the draft versions that I store in my email.

This blog can be said as part 1 of THE JOURNEY HOME. Recollecting the days September 15, 16, 17 and 18

I think that is one of our beds being carried away

The packers arrived a little past 9 am and we ... though have been waiting for this day for months felt completely unprepared.
How do you close up your life in one place and move ~9000 miles (as the crow flies)?. We had packed our basic necessities diapers (for Isaac and Ziva incase some of you were wondering), clothes, socks, shoes for a few days in suitcases. And still we forgot things. There at least 4/5 instances where we had to ask them to open up boxes. Like
1. Suresh forgot to keep aside the dogs leashes,
2. My mom forgot to keep her sandals out and had to use just sneakers till she reached India,
3. I left my laptop cord in the bedroom upstairs and the movers promptly packed it up. Luckily I remembered to before they had loaded the truck and ran upstairs and opened it up.
Cheerful movers

Thankful prayer 1: Dear lord we are so thankful for the movers who were so pleasant and did not whine while we made them repack.
Lesson 1: Dear Lord help us be more prepared ... even for your coming!

I had asked a few of you for the gianganto favor a couple days before the 15th ... Bhageera. Bhageera is our cat. We had loved him for 5 years. A very wild cat. He would not have survived India. We had started looking for a home for Bhageera and some how were very relaxed about it. I had tried every arena. Any guest/ visitor who walked in had been asked if they would like a pet cat. Some how deep down I knew God would find the perfect home for Bhageera. So we waited and the clock ticked!!! We finally reached the date September 15 and now were getting pretty desperate. Suresh had reluctantly started calling humane societies. We were not happy with this option. They say right ... God is never late right ... He is always on time. And like and answer to prayers on the Friday morning we called Bro. Dan Beachy. Bro Dan lives on a huge farm and does not want a house cat. Bhageera loves being outside and loves chasing squirels. Bro Dan has a mice problem. It was like match made in heaven. Suresh drove Bhageera to Bro Dan's place on Saturday afternoon some 24 hours before we left for India.

Bhageera on the top of our Mini

Thankful Prayer : Thank you God for never being late!
Lesson : Trust in the lord and lean not on your own understanding

Wonderful hosts
On September 17th we cleaned our house. Bade good bye to our cleaning lady Veronica and our wonderful neighbors and drove up to Harleysville PA to 'pile on' at my cousin's place. To introduce Saji Achayan ... He is my father cousin's son... i.e. we are second cousins. An important thing to note about him is he and my sister are born in the same batch.. a little more details about that bit ... Well in 1974/75 on my dad's side of the family among the first cousins there were some 5 kids born . Like a sudden baby boom. As a result this batch became quite famous!
When I reached the US I did know that Saji Achayan was around but I never bothered to get in touch with him. My loss.... not just because he is such a nice guy (;) ;) ) but because he is married to an absolutely amazing wonderwoman ... who has so much energy - it is unbelievable. Sheeja Saji as she is officially known I think has the ability to absorb energy from the air around (Like Frozone from Incredibles!). We really got to know the couple and kids only about a year ago and we have enjoyed the brief fellowship. (Secretly I hope they move to Bangalore!). We arrived at their place to a house full of smiles and wonderful Biryani. Saji achayan and family love dogs and so we were able to pile dogs as well. Their kids Hannah and Joel must have walked Danny and Baloo 6 times in the brief 12 hrs we were there.

Saji, Sheeja, Hannah and Joel with our dogs

Thankful Prayer: Thank God for such wonderful hosts.
Lesson learnt: A few days before we arrive at their place Sheeja Chechy had as her facebook status the verse Hebrews 13:2(Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.) Now I am not saying we are angels but she definitely showed us how to entertain and do it cheerfully

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Z-I-V-A ...

Time to talk about a name... that I love so much!

When we decided on the name ZIVA ESTHER JOEL ... I thought it sounded very pseudo ... very unlike Suresh and me. I thought I would take one look at 'her' and revert back to some other name we had talked about. I was reluctant to even tell people when they asked me what we were planning to name the baby. Finally Suresh took it upon himself to reveal the name. Now time to talk about how we came to this name.

Starting with the easy part. JOEL. Well we wanted to keep the last names similar for the siblings and share it with dad. So ... JOEL

ESTHER. This is Suresh's mom's name when she took baptism. Esther always makes me associate with a very brave woman. A very strong name. Very old one too.

ZIVA. Now coming to the first name. I wanted the first name to be of Hebrew origin because Isaac (laughter) was of Hebrew origin. Something I felt that brother and sister can have in common. I also wanted 'anna' in the name somewhere since it is my mother's church name. We spent a few months bouncing off names such as Petra ... Hosanna ... Joanna and other similar ones. Nothing seemed to click! Both me and Suresh never seemed to agree on a name.

Now for the crazy part. For those of you who do not know Suresh and I are big fans of criminal and detective shows. We love Law and order...House ... Cold case and other such shows. I normally watch them till I get nightmares and then quit watching them cold turkey. One show that was a favorite was NCIS. In the show is a Israeli mossad agent called 'Ziva David' (pronounced Daaveed). I absolutely love her character. She has a way of mis-saying American idioms ... that makes her character a little funny too
(Ziva: I would hate to be misunderstood.
Fornell: Does that happen often?
Ziva: Once in a blue lagoon.)

One evening the TV was switched on and NCIS was going on and I looked over to Suresh and said ... how about Ziva. He paused. I was waiting for him to make fun of the name and all he said was 'hmmmm'.
Couple of weeks later we were driving somewhere and I said ' We need a name you know'. And Suresh goes ' I thought Ziva was pretty good'. Me ... a little surprised.

A few weeks later Suresh and I are chatting over gmail about an article about TV viewing for kids and revisiting some of our rules for Isaac ( some of which have gone out off the window) ... when he says 'Well with Ziva we can try ...'  It seemed like he had set his heart on the name.

When we told our Israeli neighbors Mitel the name, she said 'Ziva .. that is such an old name' ... I thought perfect matches with Esther.

One of the episodes in NCIS has another mossad agent teasing Ziva that only grandmothers in Israel are named Ziva. I guess none of the Indians who call her that are going to know!

ZIVA means brilliance or splendor of God.
I remember once a long time ago Suresh saying ... 'We cannot even imagine what heaven is going to be like. We will be so amazed at His splendor'. When I looked at my tiny little 6 lb 14 oz Ziva - I was filled with amazement... That God would trust me with this precious thing. Big responsibility.

Isaiah 62:3

New International Version (NIV)

3 You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

PS: Looks like I won the battle again and got my way with naming my second child!

Thursday, August 25, 2011


No - not the kind that you attach to an email.... but the kind that you develop or just have with a person ... like a bond .. a connection...

My dad was very big on being 'attached' ... forming relationships and keeping them. He was especially fond of his siblings. They fought like cats and dogs when they got together... but it never deterred the 'attachment'.

As we head home to India one of the emotional reasons is our family and the connections that we (Suresh and I) have with our siblings and cousins and uncles and aunts. However if we ever want Isaac or Ziva to feel that attachment they need to see and hang out with their cousins ... they need to play and fight with them ... they need to cry when holidays are over and its time to go home.

I was wondering a few weeks back whether I was overplaying this whole attachment thing. Couldnt we just have really good friends here in the US and our children would be friends with those good friends children. Right as these thoughts were passing my mind on and off my cousin Kartik (better know as Bullshee to his friends) came and spent a couple days with us. Kartik is going to Business school at Darden - Charlottesville, Virginia and BWI was his stop over on the way to first day of Business School.

Isaac has met Kartik Chappa (Uncle) two times before. However he showed no interest in Bullshee. This time however .... well let the photo below be a description of the bond that is unnamed!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Falling in love --- AGAIN

Everyone says you fall in love only once....

I disagree... I am on my third round right now. Yes third.

The first of course is my dear husband whom I met 11 years ago around this time of year in a most wonderful city called Richmond on the banks of the James river. No I did not fall in love with him on the banks of the James river. Falling in love with Suresh was very easy -- as easy as getting annoyed with him. Staying in love with him has been very easy as well. It's like dancing... you need to get the right beat and then you can dance all day and all night!

Dancing at Namith's place - New year 2004

My second love is my little dude ... Isaac. The day he was conceived I was sure it would be love at first sight when I saw the little munchkin. And it was! He was this ugly scrawny thing when I first saw him ... but one cry and I knew this was my new love! He has turned from a sweet little boy to a brat to a tantrum thrower. But through all that I still love him .... Like dancing!

Isaac George Joel - October 16 2009

My third love arrived less than a week ago! She is precious. When I found out I was pregnant with my second child ... after the initial excitement I was overcome with fear. How could I love another person ? colleague at work worded it so perfectly. She said 'You feel like you cannot love another child like you love your little boy - Its not true you know!' I didn't listen to the second part of her sentence. But she was oh so right. When Ziva came into the world I actually said .. 'Cry baby cry'. The sound of their cry reaches your ears and you know it ... I'm in love again!

Ziva Esther Joel - August 16 2011

Now to learn to keep it equal between all three of them so everyone gets an equal share.

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~Elizabeth Stone

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Things I love about US

This country has been good to us... We have been here since August 2000 and now 11 years later I can still say ... this country has been good to us. There are countless people who struggle here. Getting PhD's ... Getting scholarships ... Getting jobs ... Getting visas ... Getting green cards... But God has been good and so we have gone through these 11 years seamlessly.

I am going to miss the United States and here are some of the specific things I am going to miss.

The public library: I used to go to one in Richmond ... but did not read many books there ... what with trying to get a PhD and complete my residency. But when I walked in to the Children's Board Book section at the Anne Arundel Public library ... I fell in love with the place. I would love to open my own 'public' library with only Children's books ... and Story time by yours truly!

Roads: This is more Suresh's thing to miss. But I like to think that this blog 'Dayenu' is shared by the both of us. We love the roads. We love the order on the roads and we love how long our tires last... till of course a few rough patches in Baltimore. But we still love the roads in the United States.

Public display of affection! (PDA): I am not talking about hugging and kissing on the roadside! But here is a specific situation ... Your hubby arrives home after a week long conference and you drive to the airport to meet him. It is so nice that in this country I can open my car door and before worrying about putting in the luggage ... I can give him a big hug (totally taboo in India) and get a peck on my forehead (Suresh and I are far too coy to go further than that)

Work flexibility: I love my job ... I cannot believe that after 11 years I will be sitting at home. I am looking forward to a break. I love the work involved. I love that I can go and come at odd times.. I love that I can call in sick or just take a personal day and not have to make up tall tales. I love the people I have worked with and I love the machines I have worked with. I will miss you medical physics and radiation oncology ... sorry ... I have a calling for motherhood right now!

Sushi: I have eaten sushi in Korea ... but I have learnt to love it here in the US. My buddy Ron Broman (from VCU) and I used to keep Friday afternoon lunches especially to take walk to Hana Sushi on Cary street in downtown Richmond. I forced him to try the sushi and he got me hooked on to Sashimi. YUMMMM

Compassion: This is based on our experience last July. I always am aware of the fact that Medicine and Medical Care is a business. I have seen and heard a lot about 'running' a department. However in the midst of running this business I have seen and felt compassion in the many doctors I have interacted with here in the US. I have also felt the lack of 'heart' in dealing with 'Indian' doctors. In August 2009 - when my mother -in - law was diagnosed with cancer and set up for emergency surgery here - the amount of attention we got was unbelievable. You would think that you were the only patient in the whole hospital. As surgeons, GI specialist and other house doctors visited our room you could feel the compassion. No one ever told Amma that she was feeling too much pain or that she was fussing or that she asked too many questions or that she was taking too much of their time! No one thought her questions were unwarranted or that her fears were uncalled. No one made fun of her pain or ridiculed our (Suresh and my) concerns. I know with all the insurance issues the US has its own set of problems. But I would gladly given in to that for a few seconds of compassion from an Indian doctor. I think US physicians should set up a 101 course on how to feel your patients pain! The Indian medical industry is definitely my biggest fear!

More things I will miss coming up...
Cabins - blue ridge mountain inn

Shenandoah valley

James river

Meeting people from all over the world!

Monday, August 1, 2011


Suresh and I are relatively quiet people. We are not really social and in the past 11 years have rarely gotten to know our neighbors. There was the usual hello ... and hi... when we saw them in close quarters. But that was it. However this time on Pangbourne street we have had a wonderful experience. I think we can thank Isaac for it. He is such a smarty pants that even when he didnt speak he attracted enough attention that people spoke to us. Now that he speaks ... there is no stopping who he talks to .. People on the road.. animals .. plants etc.

We have two neighbors that we have gotten really close to and are enjoying their company.

The first is a family three doors on our left. This is a family from Israel with two very cute girls ages 4 and 2.5. Roni and Yuvali have become the delight of our day. When we see them .. its not just Isaac's face that brightens up but ours too. The very first question that comes from their mouth is "Isaac's mommy - Can Isaac come to my house?" Note: They always ask for permission. Whether is it coming to our house or going to theirs. Parents Coby (Short for Yacoub) and Meital have done an excellent job of making the girls listen to them .. pay attention and obey. Disobedience is met with a series of sentences in Hebrew with no change in tone (i.e. no yelling) which we do not understand but can realize that the girls know the consequence of their actions will not go unnoticed. In the midst of several trips to their house and our house, we have learnt a lot about their culture and traditions. We have learnt a lot about raising children (especially potty training) without it being given as advise ... rather general conversation.

A few birthday parties ... dinners... snacks ... park visits and pool time later and now we are close enough that Meital tells me that she once didnt like Indians because they haggled too much :). (Coby and Meital own a few perfume stores at the mall). I told her it was trade mark Indian behavior. She has changed our mind since she met us though (it seems like it!). I on the other hand have learnt a few words in Hebrew. Yareh-ach (moon). Hatoul (cat). As most kids do, Roni and Yuvali eat very well when they come to our place and Isaac simply loves the food that Meital cooks. We are seriously considering an exchange scheme!

The second family is right next door on the right. This is an Indian family consisting of an older uncle (~70) with his wife and daughter. Uncle, Aunty and Didi (older sister) as we have fondly named them. The first time in the day you see Uncle is early in the morning when he comes out to feed the birds. If Isaac catches the time correct and is standing at the window, he will carefully watch Uncle sift through the food and feed the outside birds before taking a share in for his parakeets. Isaac's favorite thing to do is to go watch the Parakeets in their cage and call out their pretty colors. Uncle's current mission in life is to make Isaac a pakka (typical) boy. The last time we went there he was telling Isaac about breaking street light bulbs with stones. Luckily Isaac does not totally understand him. The only thing that aunty desires to do is hug and kiss Isaac and the brat that he is ... he wriggles out of her hands to run to the birds. Didi manages to catch him and shower him with a lot of affection. I enjoy seeing this ... because I miss Isaac not having an aunt around in close quarters and having Didi sometimes fills that void.

Its nice to have friendly people who you can laugh and talk to --- who you can pray for with a genuine heart and who you can thank god for bringing into your life!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


There are a millions of reasons that Suresh and I can think of for why we want to go back to India ... A few of them realistic... a few practical .. a few emotional and then a few just simply crazy ... I have listed out a few of the crazy ones below

Reason 99: Bai (maid)

Reason 109: The ironing person (Dhobi)

Reason 219: Snacks ...Samosas ... wada pav ... bhel puri ... pav bhaji... each for a $1 maybe less?

Reason 322: Train travel ... cheap train travel.

Reason 416: Chauffeur

Reason 555: Food (wonderful food .. glorious food - credit from Ice Age)

Reason 628: NO snow ... it is absolutely crazy since I love snow. But after Isaac had 4 ear infections back to back this year and I blame it on the winter, I am looking forward to NO snow.

Reason 656:Cotton clothes!

Reason 675: Family tours ...This is both emotional and crazy... emotional because its family.... Crazy ... because in my experience all our family tours end up with exhausted members .. and a few fights/disagreements! Still fun!

Coming next.... Things I am going to miss in the US.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Suresh's New Toy

So Suresh got himself a new toy. Normally I would be a little mad about the price of the toy. But this time I am very proud of hubby dear. Not because the price was good or the product was good. Rather because of the time he waited and the reason he waited.

Suresh and I went through a Dave Ramsey course on Financial Peace ( about 2 years ago through our church. I really liked it. I would not say I am an avid follower or Dave Ramsey is 'the' man but there were things we learnt that if followed definitely will help giving Financial peace. He also has a biblical spin on things starting with generous giving and even talking about not being in debt! (Pslam 37:21)

While we were not in any serious debt... following some tips from the class we paid off our cars ... a mortgage in India and were to a certain extent debt free. But I have seen a lot of people go for classes/ counseling (marriage... financial... and others) and then conveniently forget about it or not follow rules. I thought the same would happen to us. Come two years we would be back where we started. Especially in some of the smaller stuff like controlled buying or buying new cars because we had no car payments.

This toy purchase of Suresh's is an indication that we have not yet forgotten! Suresh bought a D7000 Nikon after much thought and waiting. We have a Fuji (8 years old) that works perfectly well .. click pictures, takes videos and performs normal camera functions. Suresh has desired to have a SLR camera since Isaac got into motion. However he patiently waited. Once or or twice he mentioned that the videos we took were not of great quality and that an SLR would be nicer. Then he would correct himself saying we had a video camera (a Panasonic miniDV) that we never used and sat back on the idea of an SLR. About a month ago, during basement clean up I discovered the Panasonic sitting sad in a little bag and asked Suresh if I could sell it.(another Dave Ramsey tip ..not exactly but inferred by us). Suresh gave me the Ok and we got a buyer on Craigslist. It wasn't a whole lot but when the buyer left I passed the money over to Suresh and said " Here put this towards the Nikon buy" A month goes by and no Nikon in sight.. I finally say "Get the camera please"

He has spent the past 5 hours clicking pictures of Isaac (in motion) and blinding the rest of us!

I hope one day to teach Isaac some of these valuable lessons about being moderate and thrifty.

I am not sure how long Financial peace will last or how long we can follow biblical principles to stay debt free ... but for right now I am enjoying it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

What's in a name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."

I actually disagree with the above statement.... I think there is everything in a name... Because when I just hear the word 'rose' ... I can smell its sweetness

We (Suresh and I) have reached a season in our lives where we are yet again at a point of name squabbling. Suresh has graciously and like a true gentleman put down his sword and said ..'Its pointless ... Rohini's choice is going to prevail!' ... Either he has given up on me or he totally loves how Isaac's name matches his personality. And how the sound of the name Isaac makes us both 'laugh'. {Isaac - Hebrew for Laughter}

Time for a flash back. Also a good note for Isaac to read years down the line on how we came up with 'Isaac George Joel'.
Isaac was born to us after 6.5 years of marriage. I had given up. I thought I would never bear a child. I was ok with the thought of it. When lo and behold we are blessed. We were blessed not just to conceive a child ... but an awesome pregnancy.

I remember the days of squabbling with Suresh. In his mind he had the name 'Jacob' and of course the first thought that goes across my mind is 'deceiver'? Of course Jacob redeems himself as you keep reading the old testament. But still. I had two names in my mind 'Samuel' and 'Isaac'. Both were born to parents after a long wait. Both were born to mothers who had spent a great deal of time crying for them. Samuel was thrown out of the window, I cannot remember why now. And so we were left with Isaac and Jacob. Father and son :)

We came home one day after church and I remember someone at church had mentioned that my son would be exactly like my father-in-law. We had recently lost my dad-in-law and though we do not believe in reincarnation... someone had been silly enough to say something like that. Now do not get me wrong, I love my dad-in-law... but I had also lost my father recently and girls are always daddy's little girls and so I was thinking... well why not have some of my dad's characteristics ... after all gene-wise ... it comes from both sides. I came home and was probably so hormonal that I started crying... In the midst of tears I told Suresh I wanted my dad's name as part of my son's name and I wanted his dads name too. And then in the midst of this unseasonal shower of tears .. I asked him what was wrong with the name Isaac. The poor dude was caught so off guard that he didn't see it all coming!

And so it came to be Isaac George (After my dad) Joel (after Suresh's dad). Isaac is true to his name. He is currently going through his shy phase where he take a while to warm up to a stranger. But on the whole, he brings laughter to us. He never wakes up crying. In fact there are days that through the baby monitor we hear him whispering to himself when he wakes up... but no cries. I remember when we went to India at age 4 months for Isaac, my sister picked him up once and said 'Look at this boy ... true to his name' and he had the cutest grin on his face. He is now showing some amount of stubborn behavior which could be one of three things
1. Age
2. Grandpa Joel and George or
3. Mom and dad

We are thankful to God for blessing us with laughter and now blessing us again.

Time to put on the armor to fight Suresh for the name!

Its all in the name!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Flurry of Words

A - B - C - D - E - F - G
H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P
Q - R - S - T - U and V,
W - X - Y and Z
Now I know my A - B - C's
Next time won't you sing with me?

My boy is now 16 months. And he shows off all his 16 months.
At 12 months the only word he said was ‘balla’ – which meant Ball. His favorite thing in the world! Anything round was meant to be thrown in hopes it would bounce back or kicked in hopes it won't hurt his leg!

And then suddenly one day – it all just came out --- so many words … so much talking.
He now recognizes a lot of animals and can say the name of most common wild and domestic animals. Titer= tiger … hipp=Hippo .. hoose=horse … quack=duck … birth=bird. But the best one is Golla=gorilla. He loves his golla, that now takes a bath with him.

If you ask him ‘Whats your name?’ he has a broad grin and taps his chest with a proud ‘Ittach’.

He recognizes and names body parts and they sound so cute. Nsss= Nose … iys=Eyes …tteeh =teeth …toss=toes. If I ask him ‘Isaac where are your cheeks?’ he uses it as an opportunity to pinch mine with a chickss. He chooses the moment we are rocking him to sleep to identify our iys and nsss! If I say ‘Isaac where’s your bumboos’ He taps his tushy with both hands and says bumboo.

He loves his vegetables and has learnt to ask for them by name brocco =broccoli, mussshoom=mushroom, toyoto=tomato. Anything on the stovetop is patta=pasta which he loves eating. It could be rice or noodles or pasta. He calls all of them pasta and is happy to gobble them down. He has a new found love called dosa and much like his dad loves eating dosa with podi (spicy dal mixed with gingely oil).

He is learning that repeating what we say makes us laugh and he loves to make us laugh. We have been telling him to ‘go back’ from the TV and he now repeats gobak… gobak. He loves going to the basement to play on his Appa’s keyboard and will let you know his interest godumm = go down. I called him a drama king the other day and he instantly said dama.

The first thing he asks for in the morning is chocco=chocolate milk. In 5 seconds he gets distracted by the cereal box (seerea in his vocabulary) in the pantry and the next thing you know he is picking up cranberry (canbeee) and gobbling them down moving away the cereal.

The most exciting part of his day is watching the kids get on the school bus. There are three buses that come close by where we live. Each time we say ‘Isaac, school bus’ … he runs to the window (he now knows which one gives him the best view of the blinking lights) while repeating koobus.

He hates us brushing his teeth. But give it into his hand and he knows exactly what to do with it and enjoys it. Toobush=toothbrush

Suresh mentions a poem in Tamil (by an ancient poet) his dad liked a lot that goes something like this
Kuzhal inidhu {The flute is sweet}
Yaazh inidhu {The veena is Sweet}
Enbar .. { So they say}
Tham makkal {Their children’s}
Mazhalaichchol {Sweet talk … broken talk}
Kelaa thavar {Who have not heard}

Speaking of the sound of flute and the harp as sweet tones are people who have not heard their little children’s prattle or lisping.

Proverbs 22:6 (King James Version)
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The odd couple

I’m a believer - Monkees

I thought love was only true in fairy tales
Meant for someone else but not for me.
Love was out to get me
That's the way it seemed.
Disappointment haunted all my dreams.

Then I saw his face, now I'm a believer
Not a trace of doubt in my mind.
I'm in love, I'm a believer!
I couldn't leave him if I tried.

That’s what I call Suresh and me. We are definitely the odd couple. Why do I say that because we are poles apart.

He is calm and composed. I am irrational.

His idea of a vacation is museum hopping in London. Mine is a book … a beach and nothing to do!

He loves traveling. I wouldn’t care going more than a few miles away from home.

He likes short stories. I like big fat multiple chapter books. (I haven’t read one in ages!)

He loves animals. I would rather have a stuffed toy!

We recently celebrated 8 years of marriage. Seems like a long time – 8. But then you meet people who have been married 18 and 50 years and you think – Wow – we’re young!

It seems like a good time to think back on how we met … what made us think we would be able to live together … and how we survived the past 8 years.

Suresh and I met on August 16 2000 (We argue about the date – but I am pretty sure I am correct – ok Maybe it was the August 17 2000).

First impression: I thought he was a geek. Reason he was dropped off by his uncle and he just had the look of GEEK stamped on his face.

He thought I was his soon to be roommate’s girlfriend. Reason: his roommate had picked me up from the airport and I was hanging out at their place.

Second impression: He thought I was a snob because I refused to smile at him at the International student orientation.

I thought: what a typical desi – since he was very late for the orientation. (Suresh ... Late ... Yikes!)

Third impression: I thought: The geek is sitting across me at the Graduate Student Orientation … when I hear ‘Yuck’ and a burger flung back on his plate. ‘This thing is tasteless!’ Little did I know that I would have to endure the next 10 years walking around with Sirachi sauce in my purse!

He says: ‘Are you Christian? Where are you going to Church tomorrow?’ (I call that his pick up line!)

We met the next day and walked all up and down Franklin Street because there were a gazillion churches in that small little neighborhood. We became the best of pals for the next 6 months. We attended Physiology and Signal processing class together. Imitated our professors. Studied together. Spent hours over frustrating homework.

And then sometime after that … We knew! It is good to be married to my best pal. It is also annoying sometimes since he still smacks me on my head in public – lovingly of course – but still!

So why do I bring this up now. We have recently started a couples/young families gathering at our fellowship. It is a good time of fellowship and fun. But for me personally it is a time to visit my relationship with my husband. I have seen many troubled martial relationships in close view. And just because ours in a ‘Love Marriage’ (as Indian aunties and uncles will ostracize) it is not free from issues. The devil creeps into a marriage without you even realizing. But for that reason it is good that the person I go to – to shed my tears about my husband is my best friend – i.e. my husband.

The last couple’s meeting we had on January 22nd was very important to me. Not because of what was said at the meeting. But because of the conversation after the meeting in the car that Suresh and I had. The meeting was about the husband’s responsibility to love his wife unconditionally and the wife’s responsibility to submit to her husband. There was something said at the meeting that made me uncomfortable. I did not pick it up to discuss there. But as we got into the car and were driving away I spoke to Suresh and he immediately said ‘I knew you would be thinking about this!’ It is annoying to have a husband who can practically read your mind (annoying in a good way). So I asked him ‘Am I not submitting to you by making these choices?’

Suresh’s answer blew me away ‘Submission for a wife is difficult when the husband does not love her unconditionally. When he does love her unconditionally submission is not longer an issue!’ It is so true – My personality shows very strong traits of stubbornness and adamancy. Like most people I like to have my way! But listening to Suresh and doing as he says has never been hard for me. I guess unconditional love and submission are like a vicious circle. i.e a husband who feels his wife is not submissive does not love her unconditionally. Similarly a wife who feels like her husband does not love her is not being submissive.

As I was writing this note I was thinking of moments in my life where I have been submissive and where Suresh has shown unconditional love. One example each --

Suresh showed unconditional love when he left his perfectly wonderful (and I must say well paying) job at Richmond picked up and followed me to Maryland because he thought the move was good for my career.

My submission. His name is Danny and he is our 5 and half year old dog who I am still learning to love! I am not a big animal person. But I am learning they aren’t so bad! (Deep breath – For Suresh!)

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens;

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens;
Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens;
Brown paper packages tied up with strings;
These are a few of my favorite things.

... actually none of these are my favorite things ... But my mom just returned from India. In her bag were tons of goodies ... clothes, snacks, sweets etc. In the night we tried on Isaac one particular hoodie that his 'Velliamma' (my older sister) sent for him. It was nice and comfy. As I picked him up to rock him to sleep - I took one deep breath of this new hoodie he was wearing.
It smelt like my parents 'cupboard' (Thats what we call closets in India). Probably the smell of the wood that was used to make the cupboard. It smelt like ... old days ... it smelt like my dad's shirts and my mom's sarees ... it smelt familiar ... it smelt like I had to go back to India right now.

So in no particular order - my brain started thinking of my 'favorite' things.

The smell of clothes kept in the 'cupboard' in India
Overnight train journeys .. Love sleeping on those 'births'
Lime rice and crispy fried chicken .. which only tastes its best on the overnight train journeys
The sound of keys jiggling outside the door as my dad got ready to open the door
Cotton mattresses on wooden beds!
The cool breeze after the first rain after a hot summer
The sound of the 'ALWAYE' bridge as the train crossed it.. It meant we were close to home!
The sight of the familiar house as you turned the corner of the bumpy road to grandparents home.
Walking on marble floors without socks
Wet jeans from the knee down during the monsoons
Stitched clothes - I do not like ready-made too much since they never fit me right and my sister manages to find the best tailors in town
Bhel puri wrapped in old newspaper
Mallu weddings -- they are the best .. the noise.. the chaos .. the driver with the lack of direction taking the wedding party to the wrong church .. o yea it happened!
Colorful clothes
Indian pizza with the tandoori chicken
Swimming in the pond in Kerala
October 16 2009 :)
Power cuts! Even though I curse them when they happen - You just realize how much time you spend with each other talking when there are not numerous other things to distract you
Tours (thats what we called vacations in Kerala when a family rents out a 20 passengers and sets out from Munnar to Kanya Kumari!)
Riding the Kinetic Honda
Gorai Beach
Grad School

I do not think it will ever stop!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

But I'm sad to say, I'm on my way Won't be back for many a day

But I'm sad to say, I'm on my way

Won't be back for many a day

My heart is down, my head is turning around

I had to leave a little girl in Kingston town

Sounds of laughter everywhere

And the dancing girls swaying to and fro

I must declare that my heart is there

Though I've been from Maine to Mexico

That's the song Suresh and I sang as we boarded the flight from Tampa, Florida to come back to Baltimore, Maryland.

Reasons for being sad

1. 70 F in Tampa , 28 F when we landed in Baltimore

2. Vacation .. Vacation ... Vacation

3. Leaving behind a little girl called Anna and her Amma and Appa

Camping - Loft Mountain 2006

Its fun to go on vacations. Its more fun when you go to meet cousins. Its even more fun when the cousin is like a sibling! Suresh and I spent a week (Suresh will correct me at this point and say - 8 days) in Tampa, Fl with my cousin Reshma, her hubby Aby and bubbly little Anna all of two years.

Reshma and I have practically grown up together. We spent every single summer together since I was 13 and she was 11. Before that she and her family visited every year from Dubai. It was the most fun time. I still remember sincerely praying to God to let it rain hard so that the schools would close so I could spend the day at home with my cuuzzzin. She is what I call my best friend/cousin.

Reshma, Suresh and I - James River 2006

It’s also nice that the co-brothers get along well and have similar interests.. e.g. Getting their wives off the couch :). Before the kidlings were not born and we hung out - it was hard to calm Aby and Suresh to sit at home. Hiking, Camping, Sking, Canoeing, Kayaking, Theme parks etc. Anything in the vicinity that would take Reshma and me away from our Malayalam movie were schemed by the co-brothers. They both also loved looking at the map to the 'point of interest' in much detail. We now lovingly call it the 'birds eye view' that both of them must have before we set out on a trip even though we have the most wonderful thing called GPS.

Aby and Suresh.. Camping at Twin Lakes 2005)

For me the vacation to Tampa was a much needed change and truly a vacation. The best thing about going to Reshma's place is that she kicks you out of her kitchen -- which I appreciate :). While she makes yummy stuff that we then pig on. This time it was the most awesome Masala Dosa (Sorry no pictures! - we were too busy eating)

As we got the two kidlings together it was so much fun to see them laugh, play and occasionally poke each other in the eye. Anna is 2 years and 4 months and Isaac is about 15 months. So it is the right age difference that they play with each other and keep each other busy.

Tired after Lowry Zoo

Anna is a late riser and a late to bed goer. Isaac on the other hand is an early riser and an early bed goer. It was interesting to see how they changed their sleep patterns. Anna would wake up earlier than her usual time and Isaac would go 1-2 hrs past his bedtime. It seemed like they knew that the vacation would soon be over.

In 8 days - we visited the park several times, went for walks, stood on the deck and stared at people walking their dogs, visited Lowry park zoo, the Children's Museum, Clearwater beach and the Manatee viewing center.

By Friday - I was feeling like I had done nothing - which was a really good feeling. Relaxation!

Now that we are back in Baltimore- I couldn’t feel bluer. Looking forward to visiting the cuzzins soon or having them come over!

Psalm 133

The Excellency of Brotherly Unity.

A Song of Ascents, of David.

1Behold, how good and how pleasant it is

For brothers (or sisters?) to dwell together in unity!

2It is like the precious oil upon the head,

Coming down upon the beard,

Even Aaron's beard,

Coming down upon the edge of his robes.

3It is like the dew of Hermon

Coming down upon the mountains of Zion;

For there the LORD commanded the blessing--life forever.