30 Days of Gratitude

So I successfully posted one thing I was thankful for every day in November. Here is the complete list.

Day 1

I am thankful for the chance to start our life over in the U.S.A.

Day 2

I am thankful for my own beautiful space to think and be

Day 3

I am thankful for my tribe of sisters who have stood with me through thick and thin. Dedicating the upcoming posts to each one of them.

Day 4

I am thankful for my dear friend Shoms who has been around since the day I was born and continues to be there for me, pray for me and guide me (she even secretly follows me around all over the globe!) I love you and I’m eternally grateful that God put you in my life.

Day 5

I am thankful for my soul sister Namami who believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself and pushed me to be the best version of myself through her wonderful example. So so thankful that our paths crossed.

Day 6

I am thankful for my little sister Gayatri who has shown such courage, hard work, discipline and perseverance over the past several years. She is not afraid to chase her dreams and has inspired me to do the same. Love you to the moon and back and you are such a blessing in my life.

Day 7

I am thankful for my little sister Latha who reminded me to practice gratitude when I really needed to and who egged me on to finish my book. Thank you for being there for me.

Day 8

I am thankful for Hema who went out of her way to help me when I was in India struggling to keep my head above the water. She gave me hope, her husband helped my husband secure an interview and she still keeps checking on us and praying for us. Thankful for angels like her in my life.

Day 9

Today I am thankful for my children Anjali and Nitin who see humor in even the most solemn situations, who remind me to laugh and let me see that life is not about the big things but about the littlest of things – a warm hug, a snuggle, a giggle or breaking into a song or dance. Love you both to the moon and back.

Day 10

I am thankful for my parents who have always been there for me no matter what and who have shown me that being a parent doesn’t mean being perfect but trying to do your best in every situation. Love you both very much and wishing you a very happy anniversary and many more to come.

Day 11

I am thankful for our friends Raghu and Swastika who have been so helpful during this time. For being patient and taking the time to help us sort out stuff. We miss being neighbors with you and hope we meet again soon.

Day 12

I am thankful for good food on my table and for above average cooking skills.

Day 13

I am thankful for my brother Dinesh who has been around since I was 2 1/2 and has grown up to be an dashing young man. I’m thankful for the crazy times we had together making up jokes and laughing till the wee hours of the morning. I’m thankful for your unique and deep insights when I most need them. Most of all I’m thankful for your support through really tough times when I felt alone in the world. Love you and wish you have a very happy birthday and many more to come.

Day 14

I am thankful for children, not just my own, but the many I have come in contact with over the years through teaching and volunteering in schools. Their innocence, lack of guile and unconditional love always leave me speechless. If you are weary of this world, simply spend a day with a child and see your joy rising and hope returning to your cynical life. Thankful for all the little yogis and tiny Zen masters of the world. Happy Children’s Day!

Day 15

I am thankful for my brother Rohit for being my body guard in the streets of Chennai and for always being protective of me. We have laughed endlessly, shared our burdens and teased each other mercilessly. Even though he is far away, I know he cares and will do anything for me. And for that I am deeply grateful.

Day 16

I am thankful for my Valliamma who has always been around for my family. Illness, birth of a baby, trips out of the country, she is always there, a steady presence providing support, love and care. Love you Valliamma and I am very fortunate to have you in my life.

Day 17

I am thanful for my aunts, Uma chitta and Sridevi chitta, strong hardworking women who have crossed numerous hurdles to get to where they are today. Their steel grit and determination to succeed is admirable as is their poise and elegance. Love you both very much

Day 18

I am thankful for a good education from one of the finest schools in India – Good Shepherd Higher Secondary School. My love for the English language, good manners, a broad-minded and inclusive outlook and much more, I owe to this school which was truly my second home. I am thankful for the wonderful and dedicated teachers who nurtured our minds and expanded our perspective of the world. To this day they care about every student whose lives were touched by them. Thank you my sweet teachers and it is a honor to have graduated from Good Shepherd.

Day 19

I am thankful for my alma mater, Women’s Christian College, where I met an amazing group of girls and teachers and soaked in the history of the place that has been around since the pre-independence era. Lighted to lighten, a motto that many of us have taken seriously as we continue to shine on in our varied worldly roles.

Day 20

I am thankful for my 2nd alma mater, Madras University, where I turned my love of writing to a degree that would one day help me earn a living. Also met some great girls who are still my buddies. Beach combing at 2.00 in the afternoon, matinee movies with the whole class and a trip to Munnar. So much fun and learning packed into 2 short years.

Day 21

I am thankful for good books and public libraries that take you out of the mundane and into other realms, make you forget your worries while you dwell on their pages and shelves. So much so that I forgot to post this yesterday…had my nose buried in a book about a cat named “Cleo” by Helen Brown.

Day 22

I am thankful for Senthil who landed me a job in India and continues to mentor me and send opportunities my way. He would do anything for a friend and I’m glad our paths crossed 15 years ago.

Day 23

I am thankful for the joys of baking and an oven. Sorely missed it when I was in Chennai. Have a key-lime pie baking in my oven and will be dusting off my lasagna pan tomorrow. Nothing like the smell of melted cheese and tomato sauce wafting through the house.

Day 24

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Today I am thankful for food, family and the holidays. At the same time I want to take a moment to pray for those who don’t have food on their table, are not with their family for various reasons and also for those who don’t have holidays. I hope and pray one day everyone would have more than enough to eat and lots of things to be thankful for, like I do today. God Bless everyone.

Day 25

I am thankful for my blog, it has taken me places I never dreamed I could go and connected me with so many wonderful readers. Blogging is like sharing a part of yourself and it is mostly fun but sometimes excruciatingly painful to bare your feelings. But it also extremely rewarding and satisfying. One of the best things I did was create www.punctuatelife.com

Day 26

I am thankful for Reema Moudgil who has been a constant source of support and encouragement since I started blogging. She is a gifted writer and beautiful soul and I have been a recipient of her generosity many times. Glad that our paths crossed.

Day 27

I am thankful today for nature, her boundless beauty, her colorful seasons, her thirst quenching rain storms and her nurturing harvest. She reminds me that we worry too much and that we will be taken care of like the flowers and the weeds.

Day 28

I am thankful for gods, goddesses, angels and saints who guide us with unseen hands and embrace us when things go terribly wrong. If it were not for love, faith and hope we’d be dead inside.

Day 29

I am thankful for good health without which it is impossible to enjoy or even be grateful for any of the other blessings. I am usually thankful for it only when I fall sick, which is quite infrequently. Today as I nurse a cold, I was reminded to be thankful for health and well-being.

Day 30

Today I am thankful for blessings that are yet to come. I am thankful for a meaningful way to offer my talents and services to the world and be rewarded for it. I am thankful for beautiful relationships that honor and bring out the best in me and others. I am thankful for unity, peace, stability and abundance for all citizens of the world.

What I have learnt from this exercise is that you can never run out of things to be thankful for. Every day is a gift and every breath a blessing. Say thank you quietly in your mind for everything in your life from the time you wake up. Running water to brush my teeth – thank you. The beautiful sunrise – thank you. A nutritious breakfast – thank you. Nice clothes to wear – thank you. A car to take me to work – thank you. And the list goes on.

 

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15 Days of Gratitude

I have tried over the past several years to do this 30 days of gratitude thing in the month of November but never before have I gotten this far. I thought I’d run out of things to be grateful for but I was wrong. The more grateful you are, the more you will have to be grateful for. Does that makes sense? Read on and maybe you can start your own gratitude list. It’s never too late and it doesn’t have to be November!

Day 1

I am thankful for the chance to start our life over in the U.S.A.

Day 2

I am thankful for my own beautiful space to think and be

Day 3

I am thankful for my tribe of sisters who have stood with me through thick and thin. Dedicating the upcoming posts to each one of them.

Day 4

I am thankful for my dear friend Shoms who has been around since the day I was born and continues to be there for me, pray for me and guide me (she even secretly follows me around all over the globe!) I love you and I’m eternally grateful that God put you in my life.

Day 5

I am thankful for my soul sister Namami who believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself and pushed me to be the best version of myself through her wonderful example. So so thankful that our paths crossed.

Day 6

I am thankful for my little sister Gayatri who has shown such courage, hardwork, discipline and perseverance over the past several years. She is not afraid to chase her dreams and has inspired me to do the same. Love you to the moon and back and you are such a blessing in my life.

Day 7

I am thankful for my little sister Latha who reminded me to practise gratitude when I really needed to and who egged me on to finish my book. Thank you for being there for me.

Day 8

I am thankful for Hema who went out of her way to help me when I was in India struggling to keep my head above the water. She gave me hope, her husband helped my husband secure an interview and she still keeps checking on us and praying for us. Thankful for angels like her in my life.

Day 9

Today I am thankful for my children Anjali and Nitin who see humor in even the most solemn situations, who remind me to laugh and let me see that life is not about the big things but about the littlest of things – a warm hug, a snuggle, a giggle or breaking into a song or dance. Love you both to the moon and back.

Day 10

I am thankful for my parents who have always been there for me no matter what and who have shown me that being a parent doesn’t mean being perfect but trying to do your best in every situation. Love you both very much and wishing you a very happy anniversary and many more to come.

Day 11

I am thankful for our friends Raghu and Swastika who have been so helpful during this time. For being patient and taking the time to help us sort out stuff. We miss being neighbors with you and hope we meet again soon.

Day 12

I am thankful for good food on my table and for above average cooking skills.

Day 13

I am thankful for my brother Dinesh who has been around since I was 2 1/2 and has grown up to be an dashing young man. I’m thankful for the crazy times we had together making up jokes and laughing till the wee hours of the morning. I’m thankful for your unique and deep insights when I most need them. Most of all I’m thankful for your support through really tough times when I felt alone in the world. Love you and wish you have a very happy birthday and many more to come.

Day 14

I am thankful for children, not just my own, but the many I have come in contact with over the years through teaching and volunteering in schools. Their innocence, lack of guile and unconditional love always leave me speechless. If you are weary of this world, simply spend a day with a child and see your joy rising and hope returning to your cynical life. Thankful for all the little yogis and tiny Zen masters of the world. Happy Children’s Day!

Day 15

I am thankful for my brother Rohit for being my body gaurd in the streets of Chennai and for always being protective of me. We have laughed endlessly, shared our burdens and teased each other mercilessly. Even though he is far away, I know he cares and will do anything for me. And for that I am deeply grateful.

A Poltergeist who Loves the Toilet

It has been my secret fantasy to encounter a ghost. Not the scary ones that haunt, possess and kill their victims, but the cute and cuddly Casper the friendly ghost types. My grandma met her fair share of ghosts in her lifetime and I thought it only fair that I should too.

We moved into our apartment in North Carolina last month. One morning I woke up and my husband announced that the toilet had flushed by itself. I laughed when I saw his expression, intent on giving me a scare. He insisted that he wasn’t making it up. But I didn’t believe him for a second. He tried the same thing with my daughter and I shook my head and continued pottering around the kitchen. He tried the same ploy with my son as well. But we all openly dismissed the idea of a ghost that flushes.

A few days later I woke up in the wee hours of the morning, owing to jet lag. I used the bathroom and sat down quietly on the spiral stairs that went up to the loft. I didn’t want to wake anyone. After a few minutes, I heard the toilet flush. I dismissed it thinking that it was probably the tank filling. But I did mention it to my husband. Over the next couple of days all of us heard the toilet flushing. One time however no one had used the toilet and I actually went in to check and there was water flowing into the toilet! Yup we had ourselves a poltergeist.

We alerted the property manager and she sent a maintenance guy to fix it. Well, he did a bad job fixing it because then the toilet didn’t flush with enough force. So my husband who is handy around the house, fixed the flush. The anonymous flushing started all over again. And as if to confirm that I was right about the poltergeist, this happened.

So I was in the kitchen cutting veggies for lunch. The rice cooker was sitting on the counter right next to me. It was on and the water was barely bubbling when it switched to warm with a loud click. I turned around to see that the rice was not cooked and the water wasn’t even boiling. So I pushed the switch back to cook. It switched back to warm again! I switched it back to cook and it stayed. The same thing happened a couple of weeks later.

Now we’ve made peace with our harmless poltergeist. The kids have even given him a name. He seems to like the toilet and I’m ok with that. He sometimes likes to make the bathroom door creak open slowly. Just as long as he knows that my kitchen is off-limits I’m fine! On several occasions I did ask him to leave in the name of God. But he has ignored my pleas. I was a little concerned about the water bills though and he seems to have read my mind. The number of flushings per day has gone down considerably. And I am thankful for that. Happy Halloween everyone.

 

The Rise of Heart

Had enough of the negativity and the ugliness that is popping up everywhere? Do you believe that the world is on the brink of an apocalypse? Do you really think that all the good is gone and only dark days lie ahead of us? Then this one is for you.

In the midst of death, despair and devastating loss, I’ve seen ordinary people do extraordinary things. Now it’s easy to open your heart and show kindness to less fortunate folks when everything is going plum good in your life. However, it takes a different kind of heart to shift your focus from your suffering to the plight of another.

A friend’s friend, who is recovering from a serious illness with prolonged complications, is constantly in pain and sometimes unable to perform day-to-day activities. In the midst of her health crisis, she managed to rescue two injured cats and even opened her home to a dog recovering from surgery. Mind you, she already takes care of five cats and an ailing relative. She truly has a big heart and is a blessing to all the animals she cares for.

When my parents returned from Sweden after visiting my brother, their house help quit due to ill-health. Luckily, my mom encountered this lady who used to work for my grandma and later for her before relocating to another state. She couldn’t afford the rent in Chennai and her step-son asked her to vacate under the pretext of renovation. Being a widow, she is entitled to the widows pension granted by the state government and visits Chennai every month to collect it. Now when word got out that she was not residing in Chennai anymore, the authorities refused to pay her. To make ends meet she decided to work for my mom. She found a temporary place to stay and was provided two meals a day. My mom packed breakfast for her in the morning and also gave her a cup of tea and snacks in the evening.

All was well until the landlady started acting up after a couple of months. She made it abundantly clear that she wanted our house help to leave. Poor lady had no where to go. My parents decided to let her stay with them. In her retirement years instead of living a quiet life with a roof over her head and enough dough to sustain her, here she was homeless and forced to earn her living.

Recently another lady who worked for us and is now unemployed showed up and my mom took her  in as well. She now cooks for my parents. They really don’t need two people to help out around the house but they couldn’t turn her away because she has to support her family.

I think everywhere everyone’s heart has opened just a little more. I was surprised when my mother-in-law offered to feed our kitten – the one we had to leave behind. We raised it as an outdoor cat although we fed it a few times a day. She knew how to hunt for lizards and mice so we resigned ourselves to the fact that she could survive without us. But the fact that we may never see her again after we left for the U.S. broke our hearts. Seeing how distraught the kids were, their grandma decided to do the least she could do to make the kitten stay.

Then there are some brave souls who are in a vortex of adversity and still look out for others. A friend of mine suffered a loss, was sick and had to fend for herself. She had endless paperwork that had to be followed up and submitted and had to deal with uncooperative staff. She still found time to call and check on me and give me hope during what was a very dark year for me. Her dad’s friend’s sister was in the hospital and she offered to cook and provide meals for them to the extent of neglecting her very own health.

So is there still hope for this world? I’d say YES! It may not be obvious and it may not be breaking news but in small ways, small people with big hearts are showing us that love and kindness are alive and well in the world.

My Big Secret – Part 2

I think I left you hanging long enough. So here is my second big secret. If you have been following my blog for the past year, you know of my big move to India and all the trials and travails that followed. It wasn’t as easy move after spending 13 years of my married life in the U.S. And my husband being unemployed did not help matters either. Add to that the education system which came as a complete shock to my kids and me. The fact that I did not have my own space or freedom made matters worse. So after much deliberation (mostly on my part) we decided to move back to the U.S.

In a week I will be moving with my family. You could say I am escaping, running away because I am too weak to face the challenges life has thrown at me. But I am just returning. Returning to a familiar place that I have come to call home. Where I have the freedom to be the person I want to be and not feel guilty about it or be ostracized for it. For those who think I am weak, let me tell you that I faced these challenges for a year using all my strength, faith and all the support I could garner. But at some point I had to admit to myself that things are not working out as planned and that I would never be truly happy here. And that somewhere along the way I ceased to belong to this place. Since this is my big reveal, I won’t go into the challenges I faced in Chennai in detail. That is material for a whole new post.

We have been moving every year since 2014 and this time I intend to put down roots, put my foot down and cement myself in North Carolina. For the next several years my kids need the stability of attending one school and growing up with friends they care about. As for me, I am tired of packing and giving away stuff and moving like a freaking nomad.

For the record, I lived in the same city for 23 years of my life, attended the same school from kindergarten to 12th grade. I attended college and university in the same city and had friends I knew from the cradle! I think my kids deserve a little bit of that too.

If you are reading this, please know that it isn’t as easy as it looks – hauling your family half way across the globe and then back in a year. We don’t have jobs waiting for us. We have to buy everything from furniture to vehicles and insurance. It is scary, but less scary than having to live in Chennai for another year without jobs. America isn’t called the land of opportunity for nothing! So I beseech you to keep us in your prayers as we make this move and settle down. Thank you and wishing you a lot of success if you are making big changes in your life. I will leave you with this quote I saw on Facebook yesterday that really resonated with me – If you don’t like where you are, move. You are not a tree. (Jim Rohn)