Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Happy Home Anniversary in Austin!


This is the place that we love the best,
Our little brick house like a ground-birds nest.

The Pecan in the front shields and shades
As much as in Fall its fruit it sheds.

The large airy Family Room, is cozy enough for us five
But when with friends and family, there's enough room to Jive.

The Kitchen is the heart of the house and definitely an ol' soul,
Always obliging and serving its goal.

The Master is where the action happens, new stories are begun,
But just like any successful relationship, there's lot of work done! 

The Kids Bedrooms are cute, just like each of them,
Their own personality and designs, shines through the mayhem.

The Backyards' our retreat, with trees, pool and hot tub,
The kids never tire of it, but maybe the neighbors do, from our ruckus! :) 

So in my quiet office, in this house that I love the best,
I wish us good wishes and memories, and many more years well spent.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Shuttle

It has been 8 months since we moved to Austin with the clan. One of the reasons we moved from beautiful Fort Collins, CO was because we craved diversity, and the street smarts and common sense that comes with it. One of the biggest advantages of growing up in cosmopolitan Mumbai is that my tolerance, bias and compassion are not based on race, caste, religion, color or gender. I wanted my children to grow up in such an atmosphere as well.

Since we arrived in Austin we have met people from all over the world and it has been wonderful. I met non-American citizens living in Austin (of course!), American citizens who grew up outside of the USA, mixed race families and children, families practicing dual religions and non-Indians running Hindu temples. With diversity also comes competitiveness and leadership traits like public speaking, instincts about people and openness because you get trained to talk to people with different backgrounds in a way they can relate to. I have found more Indians running their own businesses than I could have imagined. This makes me proud and happy to be here.

My Honda Odyssey had 4 recalls on it over the years that I needed to get fixed (lazy much?) so I took it to First Texas Honda. They needed to keep the car for 24 hours and so I opted for the shuttle service to drop me back home and pick me up the next day when the recalls were fixed. I did not know that these two shuttle trips would be a valuable addition to my diversity encounters. On the first shuttle trip from the Honda dealer to home, there were 5 of us including the driver in the car. One of the passengers, a lady, said she would have preferred a bicycle to ride back to her house instead of the shuttle as that would have counted as her workout for the day. I am always amazed by people like this who want to make everything that they do count towards something. This is a quality I need to get. She was the first one to be dropped off since she lived the closest to the dealership. After that the rest of us in the van started to talk about what we did for a living and I learnt that the Chinese senior citizen had recently opened his own company to make car engines, after retirement. They were only 6 employees big and were always hiring. This got the other gentleman in the car talking. He was a double engineer, mechanical and electrical, and worked for a small company which was recently bought by Intel. He dreaded the 35 min commute to the Intel office that would begin soon. He was unsure how he would adjust to working for a multinational company after having worked for a small company for 20 years. That got me talking about Anant being in Intel for 15 years, and our experience with the company. We talked about creative independence, hierarchy issues, unrealistically long or short project plans and, pay and benefits packages. It was great getting an insight on familiar issues from someone at a different stage in life. He got off from the van with an intention of applying to the Chinese man’s engine company. All this while, our driver was very silent and un-contributing to the conversation. All the people in the car were dropped off, and just the driver and I were now left in the car. Since my destination was still 5 miles away and the driver did not know his way around the area, I started talking to him (yeah right, like I would not have talked to him anyway!). Turns out our driver was a prince turned pauper. He was at a senior level at AT&T and left there to start his own company. This new company faced litigation and he ended up losing all his life savings in settling. There was a point, when he had a ranch in San Diego with horses. He was also a collector of watches. He had to sell everything eventually and move out. He came to Austin about 6 months ago and is looking for work, which is hard to come by because he is over qualified for the places he applies to. He drives the shuttle for now but would love to get back into business operations where he belongs. I have a hard time believing that there can be only two options for someone, either heaven or hell, with nothing in between. I told him not to lose hope and keep trying and good things will happen. When I told him that he will get a chance to restart his watch collection, he said that he did not care about those things anymore. He has been there and done that. Now he only cares about doing what he loves with his family standing by him. It was incredible that when the rest of us in the van were talking about being able to save a million by retirement, there he was silently driving having lost 4 million in a matter of days. He had probably enjoyed more comforts than any one of us in the van and definitely more loss. He said, ‘A bank account has no humility’. He dropped me home and said goodbye with hope of finding himself again.

The next day a different shuttle came to pick me up from home. This time I was the only passenger going to the dealership. The driver greeted me and started towards the highway. After a couple of minutes he asked me if I was Indian and if I was born in India. When I answered yes, he started to talk in Hindi and asked if I would like to hear Hindi songs. It was a beautiful 80’s classics collection. He told me that he was from Afghanistan and had moved to Austin just 6 months ago from there. He used to be a translator in the US Army in Afghanistan. He received his green card in 6 days (yes that’s right) after application. He grew up watching Hindi movies and that’s how he learned Hindi (shocker!). He also spoke Farsi, Pashto, Urdu and a little Arabic. He sounded exactly like the Afghani actors from Kabul Express when he spoke Hindi – adorable. We spoke about Hindi movies and places to watch them in Austin, while ‘Do lafzon ki hai, dil ki kahani’ played in the background. He told me all about his family and 2 little kids that he left back in Afghanistan while he got himself settled in USA. He said he was self-conscious about his English and needed to improve it in order to get a good job. He longed to bring his family here so they could be together. Such pure and simple wants, a longing for a regular life. I thanked him for playing such wonderful songs in the van and that it was great to speak in Hindi with him, before I exited the van at the dealership. When I picked up my car, I made it a point to mention to the dealership serviceman, what a good job both the shuttle drivers were doing.

The last two days gave me not only an experience of cultural diversity, but also economic and social diversity.
Diverse people (Chatty Cathy’s) + on a shuttle + 20 minutes = Great Time!

Friday, February 14, 2014

To Dear Manu
Feb 14, 2014
Happy Birthday!

Dear Aarnav,
Wish you a very Happy Birthday my baby. I cannot believe you are already 8 and almost 5 feet tall! The years are surely flying by. You are my favorite boy in the whole world and I wanted to tell you that today. You are kind, obedient and dedicated. You are also sensitive and caring towards Sai and Salo.

I wish that you enjoy your day to the fullest by playing with your friends and having a fun Valentine ’s Day party in school. I hope you liked that gifts that Baba and I got you. I bet you are excited for your birthday party tomorrow at Miramont as well. I hope you like the football stadium cake I made for you.

Always be honest to yourself. It does not matter what your friends or others say or think about you. What is important is that you give your best shot to everything that you want to do. Give all of your energy, time and thought to the things at hand and you will always be a winner. I wish you best of luck to win a trophy this year as that has been your dream for some time now. I am sure if you work your hardest Ram Bappa will make sure that you get a trophy.

Whether you get a trophy or win in something or not, Baba and I will always love you no matter what.
Lots of Hugs and Big Kisses to you.

Love

Aai.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Happy 10th Wedding Anniversary

I sit here and think of you today
trying to find the right words to say

You gave me happiness, you gave me freedom
each day with you has been exciting, not a single day of boredom

We have helped each other grow, with each life experience
Strengthing our relationship, perception and patience

We have had our ups and downs, rosy times and sad
but our life together has always been eventful, and for that i am glad

You are the most faithful and trustworthy person i know
I am yours and you are mine, nothing or no one else in tow

You are a man of simple needs, you always say
I am happy, at ease and in love with you, because you are that way

Last but surely not the least, you gave me the best gift that i could ever ask for
My 3 little babies, a perfect family i adore

Its been only 10 years and this is just the start
of our life together till death do us part.

Happy 10th Wedding Anniversary Anant. I Love You.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A picture is worth a thousand words

In addition to the above cliched phrase, a picture can also generate a thousand words/smiles/laughs as well as a 1000 V shock. It is the number one media used in business and education and of course the lifeline of social networks. The amount of frenzy that a picture can generate in this day is evidence enough of what it must have been when the first ever picture was taken back in the 1800’s.

I have always enjoyed browsing through various categories of pictures and photos. Since the advent of photo sharing websites there has been an explosion in the amount of pictures that a person takes on an average. Almost every electronic device with a little bit of brain can take pictures. The other day I was amazed when my TV also took a picture of me watching it. That was creepy at first but then everyone in the house forgot watching the TV channels and just started taking pictures of themselves infront of it or watching themselves on the camera. Most fotos shared on the internet have the people that took them in it. Personal pictures are shared more than any other category of pictures. I can speak for girls/women when I say that most women love to get their pictures taken. Thats the way they can really “see” themselves in a way that others see them. That may sound shallow, but if it boosts your confidence and helps you with building your image then why not! After all if you are happy with the way you look you will be even more kind and gentle to others. :) I loved Ellen Degeneres’ sarcastic phrase in the Covergirl Ad, "Inner beauty is important but not nearly as important as outer beauty".. ha ha..

Pictures can take you back in time, remind you about the present and make your dreams more clearer. They can motivate, instigate, discourage or destroy. They are powerful any way you choose to use or view them. So be thoughtful about who you share them with. They may be moments from your life or images of what you want to make of your life. But both ways they will always be a big part of your life. A picture is worth a thousand words but a cherished picture is priceless.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A new Beginning

The last time I posted something here was way back in 2009. Can’t believe I haven’t had the time, enthu or need to pen down something in the past 3 years! The fact that I had my twins in the same year has a lot to do with it, but still it should not be my only excuse! FB timeline reminded me that I joined FB in Aug 2008. Only six months into it I was taken over by pregnancy and FB mania enough to not have time for writing. I am not an avid blogger but I do like the concept and I believe it’s a good way of introspection. My new years’ resolution is a little more introspection and a little less FB. I will try to view my Facebook account only as a friends’ news channel and not as my duty. This sounds more like an oath than a resolution, but so be it. Anant told me once that he read that too much FB can make you egocentric. I had never thought about it that way before. But I can see how that would be possible. One has to decide for themselves where to draw the line. I will do that by writing what’s on my mind here than on FB. Cheers to more meaningful blog posts and thumbs down less meaningful “likes”. May this year be happier than the previous ones to all.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Friends

You choose your friends, not your family. I have come across this saying many times. At first glance this sounds derogatory to the family side. There seems to be a presumption here that family is boring since you are born into it and you have no control over who you want and dont want to be your family, and friends are more fun since you can choose them.

Is it really all true that you can choose your friends? Lets say I want to choose 2 people to be my friends from a set of people who I know well. Now let me be clear here, the set of people who I know well are my aquaintances and the 2 people from that set are the ones I want to be “friends” with. What is the guarantee here that those 2 people will like me equally as I like them and want to be my friends?

So should'nt the saying be something like, “You choose your friends from the lot which shares your mutual feelings”? I mean you are not really free to xchoose whoever you want, you have to choose from the lot that is available to you. When this happens, there are compromises.
Again lets say I find my BFF finally, I would not think twice before saying to him/her, hey you are like family to me, you are my “real” family. Or vice versa, if you have a family member who makes you wish you did not share the same lastname, you'd wish he/she was not your family. So now such behavior makes anybody you consider as “family” much more valuable than someone who you dont. So should'nt the saying should be ammended to, “you eventually find good friends and include them in your family”?.

A long time ago one of my friends then, told me the difference between aquaintances and friends. Most people have a large number of aquaintances and a decent social life with them. But even in a crowd, its those few people whose presence matters most. They are the party drivers for me, the ones without whom i cannot enjoy a gathering completely. They are the ones whose company i enjoy most because they think, talk, laugh, get excited and want to do similar things like me. They are there when i need a hand, a shoulder or a high-five. There are very few such people one can find for themselves in the world. The ones that stick with you for life, irrespective of time or geographic distance. The ones with whom even after a long silent gap, you can start where you left off without hesitation or awkwardness. The ones that come with no strings attached. They are my friends whom I have made my family, and my family whom I have made my BFF. They are the ones who make the journey to the destination, so much more fun. :-)