Thursday, October 1, 2015


Samaira will be 4 at the end of this year and Rehan will be two and a half. Its crazy! When did this happen? My favorite thing about them is watching them grow. Watching them grow into these quirky little (actually mega) personalities. Another favorite thing of mine is to watch them interact with each other. We could sit and watch them interact all day. Literally. Until of course they start pulling each other’s hair or biting each other or hurting each other in any which way. Until then they are on their own. 

Both our kids are small enough that they have not started questioning their differences just yet. They look at each other and notice the differences - differences in behavior, attitudes, who shouts more, who says please, etc. Not quite about their physical features. They don’t question these differences just yet. We haven't heard Samaira’s classmates question her differences either. So we haven't crossed the bridge of explaining to them that Samaira has down syndrome. 

This is the down syndrome awareness month. And one of the things that I do wonder about is how will we cross that bridge when we get to it. We do put it off to “We will cross that bridge when we get to it,” but there are definitely moments of “But, how?” Honestly, the answer is I don’t know. I don't know if there is a right way or a wrong way. If it is ok to proactively discuss it with Samaira’s surroundings, or if it is better for her friends to form their own opinion about her regarding, or regardless of, her diagnosis. I am kind of divided in my own head about it. We even got some books that we could share with our friends and family. But I am not sure if that’s the route we should go.

In either case, if a kid does get curious about differences between Samaira and them, then here is how I think I will handle it. Maybe.

All of us are made of some building blocks. These building blocks are called our DNA. Our DNA decides the color of our hair, the shape of our eyes, the color of our skin, our height, our nails, and so on. We all are uniquely different people in every possible way and a big part of it is our DNA and the information that resides in it. So if you see someone talk differently, behave differently, look different, etc., know that a big part of it is because of their DNA. Down Syndrome means that there is some extra information in that person’s DNA. That extra information results in some differences, which is what you see. It results in different physical features, different learning capabilities, different speech, different pace of reading and writing. But then, we all have different features, different learning capabilities, somewhat different speech/accents, different pace of reading and writing. So it just proves that we are all different. Someone with down syndrome may seem very different, but those differences are just a small part of their personality. There is so much more to them than the differences that may jump out on face value. But you can only find out more about them if you make a friend with someone with down syndrome. You will know about things they like, the movies they like to watch, the people they like to hang out with, the food they like to eat, the story books they like to read. You will know a lot more about them once you get to know them. They will do great things in life, just like you will. They will do it at their own pace, in their own time. 

So that’s my hypothetical shpeel. I don't know if I will use it. But it is a start. It is a seed. We will take it from here when time comes.

For now, here are some very unique things about Samaira that I want the whole world to know.

This girl can mimic. It is a talent either you are born with or you are not. She mimics Rehan syllable to syllable. She has started saying meeeaaalk for milk, because that’s what Rehan says. She says yeow for yellow, because that’s what Rehan says. She mimics not only the words, but also his tone, his accent. Everything. She says it his way and then she smiles. She smiles because she knows exactly what she is doing. That sharp cookie. 

Samaira’s teacher sent her progress report a few days back. It said something like “Samaira has great leadership skills. She has the ability to convince people to do what she wants. She now needs to work on her ability to follow when other people are leading.” In other words, she can be really lazy sometimes and get other people to do the work she is doing. She is stubborn and has a very strong mind of her own. We somehow need to tell her “Sammy, the world doesn’t run according to you. Not everything works the way you want to it to…following is just as important as leading.” That’s for another day. For now, we just chuckle.

She is also a big tease. When she knows Rehan really really wants something, she snatches it from him and runs away and makes sure he is following her. She giggles because she finds it pretty darn funny. Rehan cries “Sammy took it away.” Sammy is so used to this routine now that when she snatches something from Rehan, she proactively comes and tells us “Sammy took it away.”

Samaira can tell I am not happy, or am not 100% myself without me saying a word. It may sound nuts, but she can look at my face and see I am not ok and she is the first one to ask me “Mumma, are you sad? Why are you not happy” All I can do in that moment is look at her in wonderment and think to myself “What did I do right to deserve her?” 

There are a lot of other unique things about Samaira and these are just a few. But you have to know her to find out what makes her so unique. 

We celebrate Down Syndrome Awareness Month every year now, with a little bit more information, a little bit more knowledge, a lot more joy, a few more fears. We don't know everything, just yet. We have a lifetime to figure out everything about down syndrome. But we can always share whatever little we know anyway. 

This girl rocks my world!

Sunday, September 20, 2015


I was talking to my sister recently about positive and negative events in our lives and how they impact us. We went for hours talking about the so called positive and negative events. We talked and talked and talked and realized that we are talking about the stuff that we have known for a long time anyway. There was nothing new in our conversation. There was no groundbreaking discovery. There was no eureka moment. There was a constant realization of “I know. Easier said than done. 

We talked about negative events being and feeling negative because of the perception more than the event itself. What makes a tragedy a tragedy? It is not the tragedy itself. It is our perception of that event. Tragedy is probably too severe a word to use for our everyday life instances. But you get the idea. The way we think and process the events in our life have a greater impact on us than the occurrence itself. While the reality is that we are better off without a bad event occurring in our life, there is also the reality that when you think something bad is happening to us, it is not that bad in the large scheme of things. But it is hard to see it in that moment. In fact, more often than not it is impossible to see the greater good amidst some crappy experience you may be going through. That is why it is so much easier said than done that life is all about perspective and a bad event may not be as bad as we think it is.

In fact, there is so little in our lives that we can actually control. It may seem like a very regressive statement in todays day and age of technology, innovation and breakthroughs. But a big part of me really and truly believes in this statement. The philosopher in me treats this as a holy grail of our existence. We spend out lives planning and figuring and creating and inventing and progressing. All in the hope for a better future, more advancement and an easier life. But I am sure all of us have faced realities amidst these breakthroughs that ground us. That level our thinking. That make us realize that as humans keep getting more and more powerful and omni-everything each day, there is a part of us that cannot control it all. We as humans are not supposed to control this Universe and all its events. If that were the case we would have been born with a remote control to control this Universe. But we are born with the ability to control ourselves. And therefore we are born with our minds in our body. The point is that you can control yourself, your thoughts, your actions, your reactions. And you better know your limits. Of course, easier said than done. But it really puts a lot of things into perspective. 

My sister recently attended a seminar and one of the things she took away from it was the realization of how we treat things and events differently based on our convenience or perception. For example we all deem smoking and drugs to be vices that we supposed to be bad for our mind, body and soul. But we don’t treat negative emotions such as jealousy, contempt, anger, and so on similarly. While the reality is that these negative emotions harm our body, quite literally and physically and not just emotionally, just as much, if not than any drugs out there. But while we build our perceptions around physical substance such as drugs and cigarettes, we forget to pay attention to emotions that fundamentally make or break us. The truth is that we should be treating anger and jealousy with an equal force. But of course easier said than done. I read somewhere long time ago: When someone else does something wrong or unacceptable, we blame it on their character. But when we do something wrong or unacceptable, we blame it on our situation. I don't know about you but this is especially true for me. Once I put this thought at the back of my mind, I realize how much I actually do this. We are so willing to give ourselves the benefit of doubt and blame our faults on the situation. We are equally unwilling to realize that someone who did something bad to us did it because of their situation and not because of who they are. We are so quick to call people mean, selfish and money minded. When in fact we demonstrate similar behavior and conveniently ignore it, or attribute to factors outside of us.

What is the point of this long, random, round about piece of writing? Well, there is no one point. Maybe there is no point. But there is a realization, yet again, that we are small tiny fractions of unit in this world that we can’t really deem ourselves more important than we really are. While we deal with all sorts of events and emotions that happen around us, we just need to know our strength and our limitations. And control is a very important part of it. Knowing what we can control and what we can’t control is at the heart of making peace with the happiness and the sadness of life. Here is a to digging one layer deeper every day in knowing more about us. Our limitations. Our strengths. Our controls. And our non-controls.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Judgement & Opinions

It has always been very easy for me to identify which side of the argument I stand on when it comes to being judgmental. Don't be. That is my side. Always. I make a conscious effort to practice that side. I am pretty sure there are times I fail. But it is one of the few things I really care about. Not being judgmental. Everyone has a different story, a different context, different circumstances, different background, different priorities, different sensitivities, different sensibilities, different likings, different disliking. You get the idea. The point is, everyone is so different. It is so unfair to to declare in your infinite wisdom that “a certain something is the only right thing to do.” In an absolute reality, that just isn't true. Be it about what people eat, or wear, or read, or see, or write, or say. That said, there are some guidelines I still tend to follow. Like, it shouldn't impact your health negatively. I can never ever in a thousand years be indecisively negative about smoking. I am absolutely, 100%, decisively against and repulsed by smoking. I don't think it is good for your or others’ health and I am quite judgmental about it. So health issues are slightly off the limits when it comes to this topic. So are issues pertaining to hurting oneself or someone else. It does get a little gray here. Some things that people do in the name of discipline or religion could be considered as things that potentially hurt you at some level. But I treat that differently from physically or emotionally hurting someone or oneself in certain other ways. If that certain something is causing someone I love to be negatively impacted in any which way, then all bets are off. None of what I have ever said may or may not be true. I may be after your blood. Not really. Only metaphorically. Lot of subjectivity going on here. I get it. But the point is that I am generally accepting of people and their choices especially when they don't impact me or my loved ones. 

The thing I am attempting to reconcile this with is opinions. Opinions are important. For your self, for your self esteem, and just because. It is important to have a point of view. I quite value it. In my mind, not being judgmental does not and should not translate to not having opinions. But how is it really possible? This is me talking out loud. But wouldn't your opinions make your judge people accordingly. I am not sure what spectrum I fall in. I want to believe I have the best of both worlds. That is, I am not judgmental and I have opinions. But something’s got to give. If you have strong opinions on a topic then how is it that you can be non-judgmental regarding the same when it comes to other people. Is it because while I have opinions, I don't care enough? That sounds little too detached to me. I don't want to sounds that detached. I am not really sure where acceptance, non-judgment attitude and having-opinions meet on a spectrum. Or if they meet ever. 

My mind is actively arguing on this issue. But I am not able to resolve it. On one hand I feel so passionately about not judging other people for who they are and the choices they make. On the other hand I value having opinions and standing up for them. Being non-judgmental means people can see two (or more) sides of the same issue. You understand why some people could like something and others could hate the same thing. But then you have your own opinion on whether or not that thing is likable. So what do you think of people who don't think like you? Does simple having the understanding of the other side release you from the ability to judge them. This logic, somewhat makes sense to me. But how true it really is. Do we just pretend to be understanding of other people’s opinions and choices while still harbor our strong opinions? Do we pretend to be non-judgmental while persisting our opinions? Or do we really, truly emphasize with people who have different opinions than ours’?

I haven’t figured this one out yet. So I don't know where to begin concluding this post. I am going to leave it open ended. Until I crack this code…

Friday, September 4, 2015

Way out of negativity

While it sounds somewhat negative, I am writing about it because I feel rather positive right now. I can’t think objectively about negativity when I am in negative state of mind. For me to think objectively about negativity, I have to be in a somewhat positive state of mind. That said, it is one of the things I wonder about quite often. Why do we feel negative? About things, circumstances, people, anything. It is a slightly tricky one for me because I get easily influenced by what is around me. We feel negative toward circumstances when they are not favorable toward us, or when they don't go as we planned, or when we feel like we are not in control. We feel negative toward people or things when we feel let down by them, or we get a sense of judgement or pessimism from them, or we feel anger toward them. I honestly don't know how to not feel negative in such situations. But I also know that the only entity that suffers through our negativity is us. It is not the circumstances, or the things, or the people who caused you to get in that negative zone to begin with. And there lies the catch. Albeit, easier said than done. It just means that even more important than feeling positive is the act of trying to stop feeling negative. While feeling positive may sound like the ultimate goal (it does to me anyway) it is not the step in life that helps us get stronger. It helps us stay happy for sure. But it is our drive and the will to stop being in a negative place and get to a positive place that determines how we fare. It also depends on our point of view. I have very often seen people draw positive and negative conclusions from the exact same situation and people. It depends on how you look at things. Some people have an always-wrong whereas some people have an always-not-wrong outlook when viewing situations. I have realized what a world of difference it makes in whether or not a situation or a person will make you negative or positive, or at least not-so-negative.

For all this abstract mumbo jumbo I have typed, here are some instances and people that make me realize the crux of point of view, frame of mind, what makes us negative, how to be positive and not-so-negative.

The other day I was at a clinic where I spent 30 minutes waiting in the reception area just to be called in by a nurse. I waited another 20 minutes to see the doctor once I was finally let in by the nurse. I was so incredibly mad that I wanted to yell at someone, or hit someone, or worst yet, cry. How on earth could something get so inefficient. There are two possible outcomes when I am feeling so negative - I could let it all out and spit out some very negative words and emotions, or, don't say anything at that point to avoid all the negative stuff from coming out. At that point I avoided saying anything. But on my way out I called Siddharth and told him what happened. I was so angry that I was literally shouting at him while narrating the experience. He responded “Sorry babe, you had to go through all that. It sucks. I hope the patient before you is ok though because if the doctor took this long to see you then he must be spending more time with the previous patient, which probably doesn't bode well for them.”  Seeing the enormous outpour of empathy for a patient we didn't know and doctor Siddharth didn't see that day hit me like a massive snowball filled with ice. I obviously wasn't thinking of anyone else but me. Most people would probably do that, because why not. But Siddharth’s first thought was the other patient who needed so much extra time from the doctor. My extreme negativity was quite a contrast to Siddharth’s extreme empathy and not-so-negative outlook. And there lies the difference. He always functions in the mode of giving people the benefit of doubt. I always function in the mode of ‘they are not right’ and ‘they need to prove otherwise’. Except nobody is really bothered about it so I am left feeling all the more negative. This difference in our outlook makes such a big difference in whether we feel negative or not so negative and how we cope with it. 

Another story I remember is that of my paternal grandfather (papa ji). He passed away when I was less than three. Weird enough, I have a distinct and real memory of talking to my papa ji in our old family home and I remember him handing me a pen or something like that. That is obviously besides the point. Anyway, the point is, all of what I know about him is through the pictures and stories my parents tell about him. He was a freedom fighter, he worked in theater, he wrote poems, he wrote songs in movies and private albums back in the day. He did a lot of stuff. But most importantly he was a free spirited person. They lived in a very humble home. Nothing extravagant. Simple. Basic. This one time there was a theft in their home. I am not sure what time of the day it was. I think it happened overnight when everyone was asleep. They discovered in the morning that somebody broke in and their house was in complete shambles. While everyone was in a major panic mode, papa ji was relieved that all the family members were safe and that no one was hurt. He was calm and asked everyone to calm down, drink a cup of tea, and then start looking at what we had lost. What!? How is that reaction humanly possible?! Obviously path breaking. But it reflects on his tendency and inclination to think of the positives before thinking of the negatives in life. I wish I could have known him. 

Every time I see my brother and his much better half, A, I am reminded of how the spirit of life trumps the circumstances in life. We all go through ups and downs in life. But every time I look at A, I am reminded that her enthusiasm toward life is like that of a five year old child. And I love that about her. No matter what is going on in life, her spirit and positivity toward life are unparalleled. It makes me jealous and make me want to have the same streak. But a part of me believes it really comes from within. We all are pre-disposed to thinking one way or the other. Not that you can’t train your mind and body to drift away from your natural tendencies. But it takes a lot of work. 

It is kind of similar to how Siddharth reacts so differently when he finds out that he is let down by someone. My knee jerk reaction “WTH !? It is unacceptable.” His reaction on the other hand is “It is not their fault. Maybe there are circumstances that caused them to say these negative things. Maybe they don't mean it. We don’t know what they were going through when they said something.” I try to think like him and give people the benefit of doubt, but that is so not my natural tendency. It takes so much of me to be the bigger person, and yet I fail more than 50% of the times. So the same person, the same conversation and the same circumstances ignite a very different reaction and feeling in the two of us.

I feel like I am all over the place on this topic. But I constantly feel the need to re-evaluate my reactions and my tendency to feel a certain way in certain circumstances or with certain someone. The easiest way for me to not feel negative is to avoid circumstances and people who bring out the negativity in me. And while avoiding is not a great strategy, it definitely helps to surround ourselves with people and things that make us happy. They do, to some extent, lend to happier circumstances. And they are the ones who help us out of our negativity. That is my easy and quick fix remedy.   

Strangely enough, there are two paradoxical things that happen simultaneously. I do strongly believe that positivity is infectious. If you surround yourself with the people who lift you up, are supportive of you in front of you and behind your back, ground you, keep it real and keep it jolly - you will surely feel more positive than not. That said, I also think that negativity is a state of mind that you have to fix from within and no outside factor can change it for you. You can have all the luxuries of the world, or be in an unprecedented crunch - you could still end up feeling quite negative. And the only person who can take you out of that rut is you, and your point of view. Sometimes I am feeling negative enough that I seek help from my dear ones, but I realize that no matter what they say or do, it is me who has the power to shift the balance from negative to positive. Same way, sometimes I see my dear ones feel negative and be in a non-ideal place in life and I want to move mountains and bring the moon to the earth just so they can feel better. But beyond a point I can’t make the shift for them. They have to do it on their own. So while there is power in surrounding yourself with positive people, there are limitations to the same. There is only one way out of a negative spot - and that is you. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

No !

Samaira had learned to say yes before she learned to say no. All the kids around me were learning to say no first. And it is so darn cute. Where is the fun in yes? And what is cuter than a baby uttering in their ever sweet voice the word “no”. Very few things, I can promise you that. But here is the catch, it is cute so long it is happening in other families. Samaira did learn to say no, eventually. Now she prefers it to yes. In a lot of ways I am thankful. Thinking that she will say no when she does not want something and it is a very important skill to have. Many of us don't have it. We don't know how to say no. We don't know when to say no. So saying no is important. I really really value no. 

Until it becomes a statement that my toddler chooses to use in response to pretty much everything and anything. Here is what our conversations look like these days.

Me: Samaira
Samaira: No
Me: Samaira, are you hungry? 
Samaira: No
Me: Do you want to play?
Samaira: No
Me: How about we sing a song?
Samaira: No
Me: So what do you want to do?
Samaira: No
Me: Sammy, really wh…
Samaira: Noooooooooooooo
Me: You want no?
Samaira: No
Me: Samaira no
Samaira: giggles

She thinks this is funny. Most of the times it is. But it isn't always funny. Sometimes it is exactly the kind of conversation that will push you over the edge. But those edge moments aside I am proud of kids and people, pretty much all humans, who can say no. 

Like when I tickle Rehan and he isn't feeling up to it, he immediately responds with “No mumma. I don't like it.” It makes me so proud. 

Or like when I am trying to put cream on Sammy after shower and she responds with “No. I don't want to be touched.” While it makes me proud, sometimes the timing could be tricky. In my head I could be saying “Girl, you need this cream on your body. You skin is dry. It is scratchy! Put some firkkiin cream on it.” But she doesn't want to be touched so I follow that. Mostly because she doesn't like the smell or the idea of cream at that point in time. So I talk to her until she feels like putting cream is the right thing to do. 

The point is, Sammy and Rehan love to say no. They make it ample clear. While their timing annoys me sometimes, I am mostly jealous of their ability and alacrity to say no. 

Siddharth is the kind of person who does not hesitate to say no. The reason is because he does not really process yes or no as a yes or no. He processes it as what he wants and what is in his head. What is in his head will invariably be on his lips. Without going through the pre-processing of what it could be interpreted as, the repercussions, the intent, the impact. A no comes out as a no. The reasons of saying no are plain and simple with no extra coating. A yes comes out as a yes. Same logic. 

I on the other hand spend a lifetime pre-processing and two lifetimes post-processing a simple yes or no. Should I say yes or no? Can it be interpreted the wrong way? Will it hurt someone? Will it hurt me? Should I say one way or the other? Is it fair? I don't like to lie. That is a whole another topic I could write about because I have a lot to say about it. But do I feel the need to defend myself when I say no? Yes, I do. And that is the problem. Sometimes I feel like I shouldn't have to defend myself. An unqualified no should be just fine. In reality, I don't think it is. But that's the point. To look away from what is expected and say what you really want to.

It is so much better to be a child (or Siddharth) when it comes to complicated matters in life. A yes means a yes and a no means a no. What is in your heart is on your lips. There is very little to no pre-processing. There is honesty and rawness. It obviously comes with a bunch of side effects. But a part of me prefers these side effects to the fakeness of a yes. A no may be hurtful. But it definitely deserves a lot more respect. 

Not sure if that made any sense. But feel free to say no if it didn't :).

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Daily escapes

When your toddler tests your patience every single day, every hour of the day, maybe every 30 min of the day, or maybe every 15 minutes of the day - you need an escape. The good thing is that these same testy toddlers are the ones who have an innate ability to provide you with the much needed escape. Sometimes I feel like I have a live cartoon network channel in my house when kids are around. 

I remember my brother, sister and I loved to watch Tom and Jerry as kids. I finally know now that the makers of the show probably got their inspiration from real life kids. The way they fight, the way they love, the way the annoy each other, the way they bump their heads in the wall trying to run in the opposite direction, the way they think - the whole shabang. I can see how Sammy & Rehan are quite well experienced to play a part in the Tom & Jerry series. I won’t be able to tell who is who though.

Samaira and Rehan are turning into extremely mischievous and naughty kids and I know we are in so much trouble in the upcoming years. In a very weird way, I am looking forward to it. There are times when our kids do something and all we can do is stare at each other with slightly confused and astonished faces and a thought of “what did just happen!” These are the moments that provide us an escape from this (somewhat) evil thing called the routine. 

Well here are some of these escapes that make my heart smile. Yes. My heart smile. Because it is totally legitimately possible to make your heart smile.

Our sleep training is going quite poorly. I know that doesn't sound like an escape, but wait till you hear it all. Firstly, the bright parents that we are, we decided to sleep train our kids at the age of 2 and 3.5. We spend anywhere from 30-90 minutes with the kids in their room playing with them, jumping around, reading books, telling stories, singing songs, chatting, you name it. And then we finally tell the kids it is time to say night-night and mumma and daddy will leave the room. The myriad of reactions at this point include wailing, “no”, “mumma sleep next to me”, no reaction, and a sad face. It is not easy. Ever. I think of giving up every day. There are days I do give up. There are days we don't give up. They cry the minute we leave the room. Sometimes they cry for 5 seconds and sometimes for 5 minutes. More often than not they revert to getting back to un-crying. That’s when their fun begins. They start chatting. It is almost like they need to catch up on the entire day’s events. They pretend to read books (in the dark), they do their own thing, they open and close their wardrobe, they take out the lens of the baby monitor (we keep it on the window sill), they unplug the baby monitor, they sing songs and rhymes, they tell stories. It is kind of fun to hear their conversations. Miraculously, it is probably the only time in the day they don't fight with each other. Leaving aside the exceptions, of course. Because how can they not fight. Rehan is my little happy-go-lucky-rowdy and Sammy is my little-mischief-ball. Rehan triggers a shouting competition. You are probably wondering how? Well, he will shout out loud and then start giggling. Of course Sammy will do that same. So she will shout and giggle. Then he will shout and giggle even louder. That is how he is the instigator of a shouting competition between them. Sammy on the other hand will coax Rehan in other ways. She was ask Rehan “Rehan, do you want to watch TV?” Rehan typically responds with a “Yes.” Sammy tells him what to do next “Call Daddy, and say I want to watch TV?” Clearly Rehan follows the instructions. He shouts “Daddy, I want to watch TV.” When we don’t respond, Sammy shouts “Daddy, Rehan wants to watch TV.” We know what you just did there, missy! Then there are times when Sammy will convince Rehan that he needs to use the potty seat and call for Daddy’s help. He is not even potty trained. He hates sitting on the potty seat. But like an obedient younger brother, he calls for help “Daddy I need to go potty on the potty seat.” Yeah, right! While we are the prime examples of what not to do for sleep training the kids, we find this whole sequence quite entertaining. It can sometimes, only sometimes, compete with our Netflix obsession. So we quit the show we are watching and start watching the baby monitor. It is just as fun, I swear. 

Then there are these weird quirky things that our kids say. If I were to do a count of the things that Sammy and Rehan say the most, the word “fartu” might surface to the top. It has gone from being this socially awkward and unacceptable thing to being a normal, perfectly routine, humorous, borderline pride worthy thing in our family. So when Rehan and Sammy fart, they get really excited. They know to follow it with an “excuse me.” But that is besides the point. They proudly come and announce when they fart. Like we are expected to respond with “good job”. We don't go that far though. You know, keeping things somewhat civil so we don't shock the normal humans who visit us. The new obsession they have, thanks to my sister, is the concept of a fartu kiss. Ladies and Gentlemen, we do not take this lightly in our house. It is a very earnest way to show affection and love. The way it works is I make a fart sound with my mouth when I am kissing my two monkeys. It is a gesture that indicates all is forgiven and we are all in a happy unicorn wonderland with our fartu kisses. There are only giggles and laughters for the 30 seconds after we give a fartu kiss. Of course, what happens beyond that 30 seconds is up for grabs. But at least we get 30 seconds of pure unadulterated laughter and giggles.

I remember when Rehan was less than a year old Sammy would watch me nurse him and she would pretend to nurse her doll, Piku. She would say “Are you hungry, Piku? Let me feed you.” Now Rehan plays with Piku and pretends like she is his baby. Sammy and Rehan care for her like they would take care of a real baby. They pretend to feed her, put her to sleep, change her diaper. They fight for her, which is scary. They throw her away when they are done pretend playing, which is scarier. But if I conveniently leave out the aspect that involves them pulling her apart and throwing her away, there is something extremely zen about watching Sammy and Rehan baby a doll. My little people caring for other little people. Feels like a fairy tale. It doesn't last forever. But I cherish however long it lasts.

I have turned into the mom who keeps telling other people “Oh, you are going to love spending time with our kids. They are so fun.” I have to remind myself that I find them fun because they are my kids. Others could find them annoying or maybe don't care. I don't look at the age or the stage of people when I make this comment either, which speaks to my ignorance in this aspect. In my completely unbiased opinion, my kids are quite entertaining. But hey, they are the ones who have a sense of humor and provide us with the escape. My unbiased love emerges from these escapes. Who can blame me?

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


We talk about stars and the sun and the moon and the planets and the universe and the solar system often enough. Yet it takes me actual sitting down and letting it sink in to internalize it all. Every single time. I haven’t internalized it the way I have my home, the streets around us, our city. Every time I focus explicitly on the Universe and everything that is a part of it, and everything that we don't know is a part of it, I get goose bumps. I shudder with awe and fear. I try to comprehend the actual vastness of this system. Not as I see in movies or read in books and articles. But in reality. Like I know my streets. I fail. I try to comprehend the life that is possibly out there. It is naive to think that we are the only ones to inhabit this Universe. It makes me wonder even more. What kind of life is out there? What kind of atmosphere do they thrive in? What stage of evolution are they in? What do they look like? What do they eat? What do they think? Do they have hands and legs? Do they have faces? You know. Normal everyday thoughts and questions. 

The more I think about the life that we don’t know about, the more I realize the magnitude of the life that we do know about. Life on our planet. It starts with me, my family, my dogs, people I grew up with, surroundings I grew up in, country I grew up in, food I ate growing up, the country I live in now, the people I know now, the religions I am exposed to now, the culture I am exposed to now, the food I eat now, the house I live in now, my friends, this city, this state, this continent, places I have traveled, people I have met there. It has no end. 

I have a mom, a dad, a brother, a sister, a husband, two kids. My family is not that big. With respect to this Universe, I mean. But each one of us is SO different. It is hard to fathom how we belong to the same gene pool. Our thoughts, our attitudes, our taste buds, our likings, our disliking, everything. We are very different people. Add to it my friends, we are different in every aspect imaginable. There are similarities too. Clearly. But differences are uncountable. Add to it our neighbors. Other acquaintances. People we run into. People we see on the streets. In the mall. On National Geographic. The bugs. The dogs. The snakes. The life. In general. 

It also makes me wonder about the time we spend mulling over our differences. Difference between plants and animals. Difference between black and white. Difference between tall and short. Difference between big eyes and small eyes. Difference between long hair and short hair. Difference between low income and high income. Difference between the IQ and the EQ. Difference between job and no job. Difference between a Honda and a Tesla. Difference between a homosexual and a heterosexual. Difference between a vegetarian and a non-vegetarian. Difference between a Hindu and a Muslim. Difference between Art and Engineering. Difference among our eating habits. Difference among our accents. Difference among our parenting styles. These differences seem so big to us that we choose who we want to spend time with, who we want to call friends, who we want to not hang out with based on these differences. 

But when I pause to reflect on the Universe and forget all about the human and life differences, I feel so petty. So small. Our differences seem so insignificant. I then tend to see only the similarities. I can’t help but wonder at the amount of time I waste thinking about differences on this planet, when we are teeny tiny part of an extremely ginormous and incomprehensible Universe. 

It kind of puts things in perspective a little bit. I don’t mean to undermine the differences. I acknowledge the differences. But to what effect? It is what we do with those differences that changes for me. Knowing that I am a small part of a vast entity makes my heart and mind open more. It makes me more accepting of the differences around me. It does not make me ignore those differences. It does not make me blind. It just makes me realize that there is so much more, so much different, so much unknown out there. It makes me realize that the differences I see around me are exactly that, different. Nothing more. Nothing less. It doesn’t change how I view the vessel that carries those differences. It makes the importance of differences diminish in my eyes. There is a not-so-fine line between acknowledging and accepting. It is in fact a very wide line. It is very easy to walk that line. And it is mostly in our minds. Acceptance is a mind game. It is about our perception. It talks more about us than it does about the person or entity that is different. 

And just that easily I slip into the unknown of this eternity. Trying to soak it in. Trying with all my might to make it more tangible. Yet I fail. But I don’t stop admiring it. I am forever in awe. Of this thing so large, so incomprehensible. No dictionary contains a word I could use to describe how I truly feel about it. So I will stop this rant by accepting that I don’t know most of what is out there, I know the differences around me seem larger than life when I see them in isolation, but they are utterly insignificant in this macro concept of life, and, I accept it with wide open arms and a grateful heart.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Chase

She looked at me with her innocent eyes
And asked me what I kept searching for
I looked around yet again searching for what lies
Behind a huge closed door

I tell myself happiness is right behind
I may have to follow it just a few more miles
I can’t help but notice what is always on my mind
It is to follow the happiness till it is mine

Sometimes it is getting an object or two 
Other times it is achieving a goal I may have set
But if I look inside to see if it is true
I find that it has nothing to do with what I will get

What if I got everything I had ever wished for
What if I had achieved every milestone and every target
What if I don't find happiness in spite of all the downpour
Of things and objects and materials I could ever get

What does it mean to have everything yet nothing
What does it mean to feel abundant yet empty
Does it amount all my desires to something
Or does it leave me with more wants and envy

It feels more natural to search outside in this endless sky
Than to take a peek within
This eternal chase to find happiness makes the time fly by
And I lose the sight that it is not about the win

It is about finding the spark inside of me
And not looking for the next big thing to achieve
It is about finding the small things that set me free
A tiny smile that makes me want to believe
A little gaze that is wider than the sea
It is about giving up the chase and time to receive 
The world of happiness that is inside me

I know now I am the key.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

The balance

At first when Samaira was born, I went into a full blown over-protective mode. I wanted to save her from the world. Make this world better so I could remove obstacles from her course. But I learned rather quickly, or not so quickly, that she does not need that level of protection from me. Rehan does not need that level of protection from me. 

In fact, sometimes I feel like I need to protect others from them. We all know that the world knows no fury like the fury of a toddler whose wishes are not granted.

They may, and most likely will, face bullying in their lives. I want to be there to support them. To face it. To combat it. To be strong. To emerge winners out of a hopeless situation. In fact I have had the conversation in my head several times. People who bully are unhappy and insecure people. They try to find happiness in other people’s misery. They try to find easy targets to find their own happiness. When someone bullies you, they want you to be sad so that they can be happy. If someone bullies you, look them in their eyes and tell them “I feel sorry for you. I hope you will find a way to happy by not hurting someone one day.”  Definitely don't stand and watch if someone hurts you physically. Fight back. Protect yourself. But people who fight with words are deeply insecure people and don't let their words hurt you. Words hurt in that moment. But when you look someone in their eye, you will see beyond their words. And don’t ever let someone like that hurt you too much. Just a little bit, maybe. Nothing that cakes or good music or good company can’t fix. Obviously, easier said than done. But I have had this conversation so many times in my head. 

But a part of me is also worried about my kids hurting other people. I know it is all about parenting, but what if it is not. I will try my best to raise Samaira and Rehan as humble and empathetic individuals. But it is possible that they will not always be the victims. At some point in life I will have to stand by a victim and tell my kids that they made a mistake and that they need to fix it. I know I am willing to do that. But I am not quite sure what that conversation would look like. I don’t have to know it already. I am perfectly fine being spontaneous. But for an over thinker like me, I surprise myself that I am not able to concoct a conversation I have pictured a scenario for. 

But in the meantime I continue my journey to resolve Samaira and Rehan’s innumerable struggles for blocks, dolls, blankets, forks, plates, and so on. And dote on their evident display of affection, love and care. They balance their own actions and they balance each other out. I do believe that all kids are like that. They are all sweet angels, feisty monkeys, innocent charmers, naive thinkers, straight forward go-getters. They are capable of deeper thoughts than we expect of them, fighting over the most inconsequential things so much so that we have to pinch ourselves if it is for real, displaying the most loving gestures, and the most helpless temper-tantrums than this universe can comprehend. 

In all honesty I wish this world was a bed of roses. No one, including my kids, would ever be the victims or the bullies. We will just have a happy bouncy earth. In which everyone is good. Happy. Content. But that’s not life. I think and rethink. And as much as I love happy and bliss, what makes it so precious is the opposite of happy and bliss. I am not sure if I will appreciate the good in the same way in the absence of bad. For example, I appreciate good toddler behavior because I have seen really really bad toddler behavior. The very synonyms of life include love, hurt, heal, health, disaster, happy, sad, differences, kind, sad, lousy, hope, and, phoenix-like-something - unstoppable and eternal. It is that balance. We don’t always achieve it. 

But it keeps everything in perspective. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Rehan has found a new obsession. One among his many obsessions. Shadows. He looks at his shadow. He gets excited when he sees shadows. He chases his shadow in an effort to catch it. I remember when Sammy was obsessed with shadows. There is something very fascinating about seeing your own shadow. Even now I find my shadow fascinating. The tall and the short of it. The dark and the light of it. It looks nothing like me. Sometimes I find it hard to believe it is my shadow. But that is the very function of shadow. Shadow is my reflection, yet very different.

The thing about shadow is that it lets you see your reflection as another person. You see it for what it is. You don’t see it is as yourself. You see it as a slightly different entity. So it is easier to be objective about it. 

The thing about reflection is that when we reflect on our past, our actions, our words, our thoughts, it is not always possible to be objective. Not for me, anyway. I am biased for me. Even when I am trying to be objective. I am able to see my shadow as another object. But when I am reflecting on me, I can’t separate it from me. I have shades of gray. Not sure how many. Wink. No pun intended. The point is that I have positives and negatives. There are some people who have seen my good side and believe in my good side. There are some who have seen my bad side and believe in my bad side. Same is true for how I view other people. More often than not, I categorize people and things in “I like them” and “I don't like them” as opposed to “good” and “bad.” I understand that there might be huge overlap in all these quadrants if a venn diagram were to be made. But that makes the whole reflection and being-objective thing so tricky. Reflection is a recursive exercise with the self that never ends.

It is so much easier to see someone else yell or shout and think “Oh, what a jerk. I will never be that person. I will never behave that way with anyone.”  But the reality is that the actions we condone of others are the ones we do ourselves. Several times a day. We don’t judge ourselves the way we judge others. That is because we reflect poorly. It is difficult. I can’t truly reflect on my actions as long as I am seeing myself as me. I need some distance from myself if I want to reflect. This is the reason why I find it difficult to reflect objectively on my actions as they are happening. It is so difficult to distance us from the current. It takes us days, weeks, sometimes years to really understand what happened. What we did wrong.

That said, it is important to reflect. Reflecting is important to grow. As a person. As a human. It allows us to hope for a better tomorrow than today. It empowers us to not repeat our mistakes, or repeat them knowingly. It tries to fight ignorance of the self. There are different levels of ignorance and I think the ignorance of self is the most dangerous. Lack of reflection does not change the reality. And knowing the real you is important. You may or may not want to do anything once you have the knowledge of the real you. You may just want to embrace your positives and negatives in all their glory. But that awareness gives us the perspective to know that each one of us has various facets to our personality. There is no single good or bad. Your good could be my bad, and vice versa. It allows us to accept us for who we are. It gives us the chance to be a better version of us. If we want to be, of course. Or just skip to the next step if we don’t want to change.

The point of this super abstract thought process is, that reflection allows us to acknowledge and accept ourselves in the present. It allows us the opportunity to potentially be better. It allows people around us to learn and grow with us. It is one of the most important things I do in my subconscious mind. Obviously non-scientifically speaking.

I just wish I could view it like a shadow. Mine. But not quite me.

Kids reflect differently, I think.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


10 sounds like a lot. But it doesn't feel like a lot. In fact, it is shocking how big a number it sounds to how short the actual time period feels. Yesterday we celebrated 10 years of being together as a husband and wife. June 30th. One of the most important days of our lives. Siddharth and I are far from perfect. As far away as you can possibly imagine. As individuals. As a couple. As parents. As a lot of different things. Siddharth actually makes an effort to be a better person everyday. It is typically a non-goal for me. He talks a lot in terms of “that is the right thing to do” and “that is wrong on our part, we shouldn't do this.” I entertain my greed and selfish side plenty. The point is, we are not perfect. But we love each other that way. We prefer each other that way. In fact, we really like each other. I don't have a lot more to say or add to it. We are a team. A solid team. And I can’t imagine, not for one day, my life without him. 

We did celebrate our anniversary in Vegas this past weekend....sans kids...thanks to our super amazing friends!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

My Men

My brother, my sister or I could have done the absolute worst thing on this planet, but we know if we were to go to our Dad and tell him that, his very first reaction will be to give us a hug and say “I love you.” And then he will get to the point and tell us whatever it is that we need to be told. It is unreal how much patience he has when it comes to us. The comfort in knowing that you can go to your Dad with any problem and in any situation is a cushion that is unparalleled. My Dad is my absolute first love and the most special man in my life. Dads are special beings that way. 

Siddharth is the next special man in my life. I could count endless reasons for why he is so special. He is my best friend. He has stood by me through all the good and the bad times. He has always made me a priority. He knows me way too well. I love who he is with Sammy and Rehan. He is as integral part of their routine and life, just as I am. I am so so proud of Siddharth for being the way he is. 

I have never complained to Siddharth about the stereotypical stuff. Like pick up your socks. Pick up your towel. Help with the laundry or the dishes. Help with the kids. Help with cleaning the house. Etc. On the contrary, he does most of these things before I can get to it. So I never ever complain to Siddharth about any of it. Most of the times I end up saying “Thanks, Siddhu. For everything.” Even the kids are quite aware of this phenomena in our house. Anytime they see Siddharth walking in the pantry, they know out will come a broom or a vacuum. So when Siddharth enters the pantry, Rehan says “Daddy, are you cleaning?” Yes. That’s our dynamic. I am not saying this to prove that I am the lazy one. Oh, God no ;). The point is that if I am busy doing something else, Siddharth will be finishing some or the other task without even mentioning it. Without making any deal about it at all. It is a whole different story that Siddharth is way more particular about household stuff than I am. I remember in our initial years together, I used to fold the laundry and Siddharth would re-fold it. Most of it anyway. My reaction was often “Whaaat? Why?” And he would go on to show the right way to fold shirts, pants, towels and even underwears. No joke. He has a method to it all. Anyway, the point is, he is a true partner for me. In every possible way. I don’t know where Siddharth gets all his energy from. At the end of the day, he rarely complains about being tired. He knows that Sammy and Rehan will come to him for all the mad fun. They just know who to go to. 

These are the two most special men in my life. There are obviously more men in my life - but these two are my first and long lasting loves. So on this non-Father’s day, because Father’s day has come and gone, I want to acknowledge how lucky I am to have these two men in my life. My Dad, and the Dad of my children. I do not take them for granted even for a single day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The thing about being a parent

A friend asked me a long time ago “Why should I have kids? I have a perfect life. I can travel when I want, where I want. I can lay under the stars in the middle of the night and enjoy it with my husband, in peace. I don’t have to tend to any crying babies and poopie diapers. My time is at my disposal. Why would I give that up to have a child and lose my freedom?” I gave her a text book answer of “They change your life. It is a mind-blowing experience in spite of the middle-of-the-night feedings and poopie diapers. Trust me.” But over the years I have realized that I don’t really have a good answer for her question. If someone is really hesitant to give up their freedom to have a child, there is no convincing required to how awesome a child can be. At the end of the day it is a personal choice and there is no right or wrong. These are just different experiences and people choose the experience they want to live. I can only talk about my experience. Only somewhat. I am limited by my vocabulary and what words can convey.

What a child brings to your life can only and only be felt after the child is born. Maybe you were born with a maternal instinct and always knew you would make a great mom. But if you weren’t, which I wasn’t, then there is no outside force, discussion, argument, reasoning or logic that would have convinced me to have a child. I had a child because I wanted to, for no specific reason except I felt more ready than ever at that point in time. That’s it. There wasn’t more thought into it. There wasn’t any less thought. It was that exact amount of “I’m ready, I think.” 

The moment when Sammy was put on my bare chest within 5 seconds of being born is really when my maternal instinct hit me for the very first time. That’s when she went from being a sort of an unreal-reality, who was mostly real via the ultrasound pictures and in-tummy-hiccups, to being a real flesh and blood person lying on me, 5 inches away from my eyes. Seeing is believing, they say. And that’s what made it real for me. I felt tears rolling down my cheeks and I couldn’t frikkin’ stop it. It was uncontrollable. It must be love, I thought. I was relieved to know I could love a child. Little did I know how much. It is nuts. Everything around me was suddenly brighter, happier, clearer. I clearly remember when Rehan was born, I had this sudden rush of joy and love. It was a slightly familiar territory for me. I held Rehan and I had the instant and uncontrollable urge to be a better person. In that moment of intimacy with him, I felt like I could be standing in front of anyone and I would shower love on them. I could forgive anyone. I felt like he made me a better person in an instant. It is extremely strange and I have no idea how to explain it. But holding him for the first time made me want to be a better person. That thought of being a better person stayed with me for a bit before I went back to being myself. Oh, well. 

I must also point out that unlike the popular notion, new borns aren’t the cutest thing in the world. They are often times quite the opposite. Their skin in wrinkled, their nose is somewhat squished from being born, they look nothing like what they would look like in just a few months. To top it, labor and birthing are hard. Really really incredibly hard. If it is possible to fall in love with a new born in a state of extreme frenzy, then it is a kind of feeling that can only be felt and cannot be explained. It is mere impossible. Up until having Sammy I thought I knew love inside out. I have always been crazy in love with my family, my dogs and thought I could get an honorary doctorate in love if there was one. But I was so wrong. The birth of my children showed me I didn't know a thing about love. I didn’t even know the “U” of unconditional. I get it now. I get it more every day.

The point is, having a child is life changing. It is unsurmountable joy and love that weirds you out because of the sheer intensity of it. It is a rush. It is a change in priorities. It brings back the innocence you lost, a little bit at least. So to say that anyone could have told me what a child would do to my life, before I had a child, is a fallacy. No words, no person, no song, no empathy could have really told me how I would feel after being a mom. I could only feel it one way. The only way. It required no convincing. That’s the thing about being a parent - you have to want to get there on your own, without any convincing. 

So I don’t really have any words for someone who wouldn’t want to give up their freedom by having a child. If you ever go through it, you will see it for yourself. Or else, you will continue to enjoy your freedom. No words of wisdom there.

At this point, I can’t imagine what I did with my time before Sammy and Rehan were born. I love myself more now that they are in my life. I love who they are. They are fascinating little creatures and small things they do can turn my rotten day into a feeling that can only be compared to being high. Not that I know what being high feels like. But I have heard and I can relate. 

Don’t get me wrong. Kids are a full time job. They are exhausting. They are tiring. They are testy. They can make you testy. They throw tantrums at the most critical times and places. They embarrass you, although the concept of embarrassment does not exist for them. They don’t want to eat when its time to eat. But they might wake up in the middle of the night hungry and starving. Everyone has a different take on parenting. Not a right or a wrong take. Just a different take. Siddharth and I are relatively easy going - with kids’ learning, their eating, their almost everything. We don’t fill our days trying to teach our kids new things. We spend most times playing with them and singing to them. We eat together. There are days when they don’t want to eat and I am ok with that. I don’t fret about it, I don’t feel bad about, and I don’t feel guilty about it either. I got that from my mom and sister, I think. My nieces are picky eaters but I never saw my sister or mom running behind them trying to feed them. I do mimic my sister and mom a lot when it comes to being a parent. I don’t wait for my kids to finish eating to eat my own food. I take care of myself plenty. I make myself a priority. I do love my kids to the moon and back. They are my world and my universe. But there are more things in my world and the universe. I love that Sammy and Rehan are as obsessed with Siddharth as they are with me. I love that they need him as much as they need me. The only thing we build into our agenda for sure is running around the house for 20-30 min. Everything else is up in the air. It happens to be Sammy and Rehan’s favorite game. “Daddy, I want to catch you.” “Daddy, run.” They say. This is our parenting style. It sounds really adorable sometimes, selfish some other times, and borderline careless some of the times when I read it out loud. But that’s me. That’s us. 

Being a parent is hard. Most of the times you are second guessing yourself. “Did I break my child?” “Did I do something wrong?” The other half of the times other people judge you. It is a tricky territory to be in. I do admire mom’s and dad’s with all different parenting styles. It is quite amazing to see the uniqueness that is there in every parent-child relationship. Sometimes we learn from them. Sometimes we choose not to learn. In either case, it is admirable. There is nothing more precious than seeing a mom or dad hug their child with all the love in the world irrespective of their parenting style. That’s the thing about parenting. There are so many ways to bring up a child. I think any and all approaches are fine as long as there is love. The rest falls into the bucket of individual family dynamic, which is, like it sounds - individual. 

These why I know love better!