Tag Archives: family

22 Days of Gratitude and Counting

Like promised, I kept a memo pad at my work desk and every day I jotted down what I was thankful for in the time it took my laptop to switch on. On weekends, I stuck my gratitude notes on the refrigerator. The notes were not as thoughtful and deep as the ones I did last year, when I had all day to think about what I was grateful for. Also, this year a little prayer for those who are living in pain or poverty accompanied most of my gratitude notes because memories of not being in a place of abundance are still fresh in my memory.

At the end of October we moved to our own home and I am really enjoying the space and the views of the autumn-kissed trees from nearly every window. We have been living in apartments ever since we moved from Boston and I have longed to give the kids their own rooms and a backyard. My son used to kick a ball around inside our apartment in Florida, knocking down knick knacks in the process. The people who lived below us used to bang their ceiling with a broom every time we made some noise. And I’m talking about me rolling some dough for dinner! I’m guessing they did night shifts and were trying to get some sleep when we were up and about.

We moved into an even smaller apartment when we relocated to Redmond. Thankfully it was on the ground floor and close to the playground.The pictures the leasing office sent us were misleading and made everything look bigger than it actually was. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make a trip just to look for apartments because of the distance.  Only when our furniture arrived did we realize that the place was way too small. The dining table almost pushed against the patio door, the couches filled pretty much the entire living room. The kids room had no space for their desk and so it ended up in the already cramped living room.  So much so that it was impossible for my son to play ball inside the house.

And now we have all this space and no furniture! But I’m grateful that we are slowly building back our lives. It’s like we got a fresh start.

Another friend who went through some great upheaval in her life also had a major breakthrough. She quit her job (which wasn’t paying her much) because she had to deal with a chronic illness. Her dream to find a job where she is appreciated and well-paid started off as a summer internship. The culture, the people, and the work were all a perfect fit, but the internship was going to end. Impressed by her work and can-do attitude, her manager created a position in the company so they could hire her full-time. I repeat, CREATED a position. How cool is that? I am so grateful for miracles like these that show up around me. It gives me hope when things aren’t looking up or when fear grips my heart.

Just today I read an article on how gratitude changes the energy around us and raises our vibration. It also acts as a magnet for more good to come forth into our lives. So this Thanksgiving remember its not about the food, the football game or shopping deals. Remember to give thanks for all you have and also pray for those who are not as fortunate as you are. Happy Thanksgiving everyone and do share what you are grateful for in the comments below.

My Views About Moving to India

Disclaimer: These are MY views about moving to India after living in the U.S. for over a decade. Many before me have done it successfully and many will continue to do so long after this post has been published. Many like me have struggled to find their footing and gone back to the life they once knew. Which category you will be in is totally up to you and depends on your unique circumstances and personality.

Three things top the list of priorities when you move:

  1. Job
  2. Place to stay
  3. School/ Education (if you have kids)

And some other priorities:

  1. Family
  2. Weather
  3. Time

Job/Career

We already had a place to stay and the kids had gotten admission in a school in Chennai that had a considerable NRI population. So all we had to do was get a job. I thought Indian companies would be vying to hire my husband who has over 15 years of experience in IT and has worked with some big name clients in the U.S. But that was not the case. He barely got any interviews and the ones he got happened only through referrals.

In my opinion it is better to obtain a transfer through your company to India or work remotely for your U.S. employer, if that is an option. Many NRIs who come back to India to settle down also start their own business ventures or consulting companies.

Before you move, secure a job (offer letter and the whole shebang). If you have only a few years of experience or are looking for entry level positions, you can easily find jobs. But if you are mid-senior level, it isn’t so easy. Referrals, recommendations, or having a former colleague as the CEO of the company you are interviewing for doesn’t help. Even approaching a company you worked for before leaving the country may not help. So here is the bottom line – No Job, Don’t Move!

Education

If your kids have only studied in the U.S., then schools in India can be a rude shock. The sheer workload and the amount of writing, testing and homework they have to do is mind numbing. Also the whole rote learning thing got my kids ticked off. They were used to learning concepts and applying it to different situations or contexts, not reproducing word to word the answers that the teacher writes on the board.

Make no mistake. The fees to attend some of the top schools has doubled or tripled since I last attended school but the quality of education has deteriorated. Fees may go up to a couple of lakhs per year per student, something you can’t keep up with if you are not earning. My kids also spent a lot of time commuting to school because the good schools seem to be clustered around certain parts of the city.

I also realized that doing high school in India meant many sleepless nights and unabated pressure to score the top marks in every subject to secure admission in top colleges. The competition is just too much and the stress levels are off the chart. There was little time to pursue art, music or sports except during summer vacation. And that was not something I wanted for my kids.

Family

Most of us move back to India because we miss our family or want to stay close to them and take care of them. Similar sentiments drove my husband to make this decision. We ended up staying with my husband’s parents. It was ok for the most part but after a while I found it hard. I missed the freedom to do things my way.

Vacations in India are always a preview to what things will look like if you stayed with your family. If you have a great time with them always, then you probably won’t have any trouble moving back. If you have niggling issues that crop up every time you are with them, be sure that they will morph into something bigger when you live in such close proximity. Sometimes so big that it could actually sabotage your relationship.

When it started affecting my relationship with my husband, I knew it was time to move. Let’s not forget that I did have the option to move back to the U.S. because we didn’t burn all the bridges. We decided to move only after procuring the coveted permanent resident status.

Weather

Hot and humid with barely any reprieve for most of the year. Add to that cyclones and flooding and an infrastructure that is so fragile that it collapses with every storm. Chennai is not an easy place to adjust to.  Yes, we had air conditioning but only in the bedrooms and sometimes even that didn’t help if you had a power outage. I don’t know how I lived there for 23 years of my life but I absolutely hated the weather when I lived there from 2015 to 2016.

Time

The traffic situation is pretty grim and people spend a remarkable amount of time commuting to work, school or to do errands. Most tasks that can be accomplished using a computer or smartphone, for instance paying your bills are just beginning to get computerized in India. Internet speed is slow, ATMs run out of cash pretty fast and now with demonetization things aren’t getting any easier or faster.

To live a satisfying life it is important to have some control over how you spend your time. For me it felt like most of my time was spent doing chores or commuting from one place to another. Social activities took a back seat and I simply felt like a hamster on a wheel – doing so much but not getting anywhere at the end of the day.

It’s not important where you stay, what’s important is that you are happy, your family is happy, you have a job to support yourself and time to spend on activities that enrich your life. That was not the case for us and we were lucky to have the choice to move back to the U.S.

 

 

A Day in the Life of the Unemployed

The novelty of moving to a new place has quickly worn off and I realize we are still unemployed albeit in a different part of the world. The days seem to bleed into one another. It doesn’t matter if it is a Monday or a Friday. Only weekends seem different, with the kids around. The rest of week sees us following pretty much the same routine. For me, my day starts with the alarm at 6.00. I rush into the kitchen to pack lunch for the kids. I set the cereal and milk on the table for breakfast. Then I keep screaming the time out, to make the kids hurry. Followed by banging on the bathroom door to get them out or screaming up the stairs to get them down.  I see them off at the door and then the house becomes incredibly quiet.

After all that excitement I settle down in front of my computer and compulsively check my e-mail, junk mail and spam for mails from prospective employers. Disappointment washes over me when I find nothing and then I go to social media to take my mind off it. After breakfast, a renewed vigor comes over me and I start sending out resumes to half a dozen companies. On some days there are no new jobs posted and I slip into despair wondering if I will ever work again. By noon I am spent and resign myself to the fact that I probably won’t hear from half of the companies I applied to. I cook lunch and eat it quietly. A weariness comes over me as I think of the whole evening spread before me. I curl into bed with a book to again escape from my cruel mind and the horrible stories it tries to feed me.

The kids return from school and suddenly the sleepy house wakes up. Battle over the computer and who gets first dibs. Piles of homework to be done. After school activities have to wait and I’m clouded with guilt when I see kids marching off to karate in their stiff uniforms or carrying violin cases down the stairs. If it is a Friday and the weather is good we end up playing tennis together.

Weekends are hard because I know I won’t hear from any employer till Monday. It’s also hard to stay hopeful and cheerful in front of the kids when despair is eating at your heart. Sometimes I snap at them in frustration and they wonder what they did to get on my bad side. But on most days I play the part well. Every grocery trip, every trip to the gas station, I know we are dipping into our savings. As our bank account shrinks, the number of days spent unemployed grows and grows and there is this huge chasm in my resume that I could slip in to any day.

Social live is nil. Who wants to admit to perfect strangers that one is not working? How can you admit your brokenness and then expect to make friends? Like water finds its own level when poured into containers, people also reach for others at their level or above. Everyone has their own problems, who wants to take on another’s!

Hope is my only reprieve and also this responsibility I have to my children. If I give up too easily, how can I lecture them about trying hard and not giving up when they fail? So here I am, back at the computer, applying for jobs and trying to stay upbeat even though every part of me is exhausted by this constant search for something in the distance. Something seemingly unattainable and yet so close I can touch it.

I know in spite of it all I am lucky. There are unemployed people out there who are hurting, there are people who woke up and saw their life’s earnings disappear in the face of demonetization. People on food stamps and people living meager existences in different parts of the world.

So this holiday season as you go on vacations, shopping sprees and holiday parties remember there are some amongst you who will be staying home just wishing they had the means to provide for their families. Pray for them, send them your good vibes and if possible give them something in kind.

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.

 

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.