Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Poem for Aarnav on his 10th Birthday


Your name means ocean,
you mean the world to me...
My love for you is deeper
Than the deepest abyss at sea.

You're funny, smart and equally silly
And most times the life of the party
You're always game for fun,
and a supersized meal that is hearty!!

I know sometimes I seem harsh and demanding,
and even hard-to-please or unfair...
But that's because You are my first born,
and its only because I care.

You're turning 10, big number, Oh my!
you're growing up so fast,
where's my little boy!!

It feels like just yesterday
just the two of us in our yellow house
You chewing on everything within your reach,
and me singing countless lullaby's.

You are my best-est boy,
my friend, my joy and my pride...
you will always be a winner in my eyes,
be it Holocom or Got Fries!

The next years will quickly fly,
bringing with them big changes.
You will face decisions big and small
Some may seem upon which your life hinges.

I want you to know, I'll always be there
to help you and guide you in any way
I'll be your rock and you can trust me...
Because you've got a friend in me.

Embrace your life with open arms,
Live it the best you can.
Do to others what you would have them do to you,
Being true to yourself, will make you a better man.

As I rest my pen, and get ready
to email this poem to you
I see you coming back from school,
and rush to the door to hug you.

Sailee and Saloni at age 8 - 2nd Grade Spicewood Elementary, Austin TX.


Sailee is great at making lists. Whether its playdates, groceries, vacations, packing , anything...Once she knows about it, out comes her notepad and pencil and she gets busy with making a list and planning for it. She is good at breaking down a problem into smaller chunks and then re-iterating over those chunks until it makes sense (atleast to her :)) There are many such examples - but the most recent ones are from UIL story telling practice sessions. After the UIL story is told to them, they are given a sheet of paper and 10 mins to write down something that will help them retell the story. The first things Sailee wrote were the name of the story and character names, since those are the most important and very easily forgotten while telling the story. Writing those down made those get imprinted in her memory and then she proceeded to use the remaining time to write the story events. Another example is from Destination Imagination. When they were given the task of coming up with 2 different world cultures for the team, She made a list first about what kind of differences she would think about - such as clothing and food. Then she listed out countries that she thought has interesting clothing and food. Then listing out by each country what clothing and food she knew about it or found by asking Siri (iPAD). I like to see her mind working like that to break a topic into smaller chunks and addressing the chunks, rather than attacking it as a whole.

Sailee loves stage performances. She is animated and has excellent memory about the things she reads. She can retell a story or conversation she heard or read with great detail. She can also make stories and songs on the fly. She and her sister Saloni have a video collection of many of their songs and performances that they put up every night. They frequently run out of memory on their tablets simply because of the sheer volume of such "shows".

Sailee is friendly, kind and understanding. Being the older twin, she typically is the one to compromise in sticky situations and let her twin sister Saloni get the better hand. She is mature and can be reasoned with. Even though she is a twin, she often feels like the middle child (being the older twin) and that leads to confusion in her mind about her placement and decisions that she has to make. But she is amazing at resolving such situations by finding an agreeable middle ground.

Sailee is a very expressive girl. If she is put in a group that calls for a leader, she does not shy away from such an opportunity. She's always full of ideas and very inquisitive, always asking for explanations for things/places/words that she hears/reads for the first time. She's not shy and loves stage performances of any kind. She's friendly and approachable to both peers and children younger than her. She's afraid of "monsters", but can become the brave one if her twin Saloni is afraid too.


Saloni has very good creative thinking. It can sometimes be very abstract and hard to understand, but its perfectly clear to her. She is very descriptive. One example from UIL story telling practice session - After the UIL story is told to them, they are given a sheet of paper and 10 mins to write down something that will help them retell the story. Saloni can write most of story (which was read to them for 20 mins) in that 10 min time on her paper. Sometimes she runs out of paper. Its amazing that at her age she can focus for that long on writing what she heard without stopping. The UIL guide has to ask her to stop writing after the 10 mins, when most kids her age or older have finished already or did not know what to write. She likes to finish a task that she started (and likes). She is always on top of any homework from school and is paranoid about missing something. That even include artwork. Once she spent 2 hours on filling up an entire 8X11 sheet of paper with tie-die design and did not want to stop until she had filled up the whole page. She practices drawing Anime girl sketches from her friend, until she get its the way she wants it to look. She inspires her twin Sailee to draw. She has volunteered to make costumes and props for their Destination Imagination team and is already running various ideas for it by the team leader and the team members.

Saloni loves stage performances as much as her twin Sailee. She is the content contributor to their home productions, with costumes, drawings, cards and songs. Sailee directs, they both write, Saloni provides props and they both perform. They form a very good team. Saloni has a good memory and creativity to use bits about what they read or learned in their productions. She has a rock collection, bead collection, "fairy items" collection, and just shiny interesting stuff collection.

Saloni is very social. She is always planning playdates every chance she gets. She loves to host her friends at our house and is ready with her friends' parents phone numbers and permissions, even before I get a chance to ask them myself. She can be the boss of everyone or everyone's baby. She may have a hard time controlling her emotions at times, that leads to out bursts - but they can be fixed with a long hug and lots of loving words. She loves to give hand drawn cards to friends.

Saloni always brings a smile to peoples faces. She is friendly, emotional and considerate. She loves to hug. She is clear most of the times about what she wants or feels, and I rarely get a "I don't know" from her. She is creative and is always drawing something when she is not making "shows" with her twin Sailee. She doesn't hide her feelings and it's not hard to guess whats going on with her just by looking at her. She feels safe with her twin Sailee. She loves purple, sparkles, princesses.

Poem for Aarnav on the occasion of his Munj - PROMISE

I hear footsteps coming down the stairs,
And most times I can tell whose sound they bear.
It’s the start to my everyday, asking the routine questions -
Did you brush your teeth? What do you want for breakfast?
It’s the promise that our family morning is in session.

As the day lingers on, with work and responsibilities,
I get calendar updates of your daily activities.
I wonder how you manage so much, and usually very well!
Your promise to remain committed makes me marvel.

At your tender age of 11,
you can be goofy, cute and annoying
But when you've had enough, out comes your famous saying –
It’s burnt in my memory and I promise to never forget it -
“My life sucks, with kid privileges and adult responsibilities.”

As the day calms down with the promise,
of seeing you walk back home from school,
It brings wonder to find out once again,
everything that happened, however minuscule.
“How was your day Sweety?” as usual I ask,
“Hi Mamma!... Good” is your quick response, as you move on to your tasks.

My day is filled with promises,
seemingly routine and mundane,
That’s what keeps it normal and simple,
for which you are to blame.

So promise me that - as you step into your youth,
you will always tell yourself nothing but the truth.
You’ll be nice to people and appreciate simple pleasures,
Because in the end you’ll realize that’s the only thing that matters.

Promise to stay enthusiastic or silly when need be,
And accept life’s challenges as part of its journey.
And in turn I promise that I’ll always be there for you,
When you need me - to help your feelings,
however boring or blue.

--Love, Mom

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


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.



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.