Friday, October 28, 2016

Diwali or Halloween!

I took a day off today, hoping to make some Mithai for Diwali. Started the morning early with the usual school run routine in the AM ( it never gets old or less chaotic!) and after that went to the post office and posted my ballot (yes! I am with her) and then attended a Zumba class. Something happened in the gym, that had my brain cells work overtime. I go into the class and get to my designated spot in the front (I am very territorial, or I have learnt to be territorial with all the cats in our gym class - OMG they are ferocious about protecting their spots and I have learnt a thing or two from them!!!). I refrain from making eye contact, don't really want to get social here...I want to dance, sweat, get my steps and get out of Crunch....I hear a soft hello and when I turn I see an older woman - with the brightest blue eyes and golden hair smile at's how the conversation went :

Her : I just love your country
Me (thinking in my head) : Huh!
Me (in reality) : That's wonderful
Her : Could you spend some time with me and tell me more about India. I love Tikka Masala and Bhangra
Me (thinking in my head) : Wow! That's stereotyping
Me ( in reality) : Sure! Happy to...

Thankfully the class started and I avoided progressing that conversation and I left before the cool-down song, so no awkward stilted conversations afterward.  I came home and was sipping my adrak wala chai and thinking about this weird exchange and  here is why it felt weird...I have lived equal number of years in India and the US...I gave up my Indian Citizenship over half a dozen years back and pledged allegiance to this country. I am proud of my heritage and yes! I am Indian first but in India I really didn't have the 21 years that I lived in India, my father got transferred 11 times and no this is not me complaining - I lived a wonderful life...met a lot of people, visited a lot of new places and learnt to adapt to change...but in the process didn't lay down roots. I think the longest I have lived in any place is the 15 years that I have been in the Bay when one asks about country...the reality is  US feels more like home than India. Every time I go back to India,  the only constant seems to be my parents ( with my dad gone, that familiarity is slowly disappearing). About a decade back the reality is that the phrase "Dhobi ka kutta na ghar ka na ghaat ka" applied very aptly to me...but in this past decade what I have realized is that "the home is where the heart is" and the heart is in US.

This year Diwali and Halloween happen side by side at our place  - we will have the floating ghost right above the Diyas and will make both Gajar Ka Halwa and some Ghoul jello for the young one...because I don't want to pick between Gajar Halwa and Jello and I don't want to label myself Indian or American. I also don't want questions like - so, when are you going back ( yes! had that happen to me 6 weeks back!). My worry is that with someone like Trump being the nominee of the GOP -  racism which was something that always remained in the background in the past is now  coming out with full vengeance front and center of most discussions.

Last question to you my friends - have you voted or planning to vote on Nov 8th? Your opinion matters and your vote can change the course of such discussions in this country.

Note to my friends N and B - Guys! I am making my political affiliations known. So there you have it :)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tentative Parenting : The Grass is Greener on the Other Side...

"The grass isn't greener on the other side. It's greener where YOU water "
I am very impressed with K2 - I had blogged his first brush with failure in the 3rd grade in a blog post (Read Here) He had a similar event happen in 4th grade and then in 5th grade he wanted to stand for the Student's council activity director and I had tonnes of unexpressed misgivings - I helped him with his posters (he had most of the ideas) and his speech (mostly word corrections and a couple suggestions from me). He gave his speech on his birthday and was pretty sure he would win - he lost spectacularly !!! I gave him the right lip service - you gave it your best shot dude! You focus on the right actions, don't worry about the results  (courtesy : Bhagvad Gita) . What else can you do as a parent but  be supportive and not molly coddle. However, there was a part of me that was tired of watching him try so hard and lose.
The next day he comes up to me and says : Ma, I am standing for the class rep on Friday! I  made sure none of my dismay showed on my face and I was suitably encouraging ( I laid it out thick on the husband in the night...seriously he lost 3 times and he wants to try again !!!).  K2 worked on his poster and speech and guess what! he WON Class Rep. He taught me a lesson - this child of mine - never ever give up - tenacity, the right intent and right actions always pay off in the end.

Do you remember a blog that I had posted about 4 weeks back - albeit one where I was recovering from a pretty bad viral flu (so some of the things I said don't  make sense even to me ;-) ). But the grass now "grows" green in my beautiful front lawn. I taught my son something with that incident - he now believes that if you stand up strong for what you believe in is right - things will work out in your favor eventually.

I wanted to thank the folks who participated in the heartwalk on Oct 20th. Our team beat our target  for walkers by  8  and our fund-raising goals by $500 - all thanks to you !!!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Simple Living : The Big 5

"The US of A is probably the only country that has more food than it can possibly consume & possibly the only one with diet plans that keep us from eating that food."

I slink make my way into the extended day care after a long day at work - I see two dear friends (beautiful well put together working moms) discussing an evening bootcamp and a Ketosis diet. I look at my idiot device and pretend to be answering emails and walk away suitably intimidated. As I am picking K2 up, the extended care director is talking about the Paleo Diet with another parent...I roll my eyes up ( eating like the cave man...yeah! right!) - Isn't it interesting how we surround ourselves with these multitude diets whereas the only thing that we need to do is be mindful about what we eat - not just eat quinoa, chia seeds and kale because it's oh!so! cool and the flavor of the month but because it makes sense for our health. I eat full eggs, my milk is 2% not fat-free, I use ghee and coconut oil in my cooking, we eat healthy whole grains ( quinoa, amaranth, barley and sometimes brown rice), we add a lot of beans and lentils to our meals and our fruits and vegetables are seasonal. I am a no-nonsense, no-frills and one of those people who doesn't have the attitude or the aptitude to spend more than 30 minutes a day in the kitchen and to some one like me this book by Dr. Sanjiv Chopra : The Big 5 - Five Simple Things you can do to live a longer, healthier life appealed on so many levels.
It was simple and gave facts on the Why's for the suggestions and definitely gave me something new for my daily routine. Just an FYI, the author is a Harvard MD who also happens to be Deepak Chopra's brother. Read the book if you get a chance and if you don't  get a chance to read the book, then read the 5 tips in the book here, hopefully one or two might resonate with you too and might be things you add to your (or your child's routine).
  1. Coffee - A cup of health : this  to a tea drinker like me was an AHA! moment. Yes, there is some research on why coffee is good for you but I have stayed away from coffee till about 3 months back. Three months back a friend made me a cup of latte on her office floor and since then I have been hooked on it. His research shows that coffee drinkers have lower risks than tea drinkers for cirrhosis, alzheimers, dementia and type 2 diabetes (dang! I still want my cup of cardamom chai in the AM and green tea mid afternoon) BUT sign me up for at least one cup of coffee a day.
  2. The Mysterious Case of Vitamin D : Did you know when you are low on Vitamin D, your immunity is low, your bones can fracture easily, you can have dental issues and like in my case get inexplicably depressed (click here to read the post on that). Most Indians are deficient in Vitamin D - so make sure to get your levels checked regularly ( my doc checks my levels every 6 months) and supplement! supplement! supplement! I am out in the sun a lot but it doesn't seem to help me much and the fortified D I get from Cereal, Milk and yogurt just isn't enough.
  3. Go Nuts : Eat. Nuts. Every.Single.Day. I keep blanched almonds and walnuts that I put on the table in portions ( 5 almonds and 4 full walnuts)  for me, my husband and son). This is  the first thing I eat after my warm glass of water with ACV (apple cider vinegar). Nuts reduce LDL (the bad cholestrol) and protect against heart diseases. I didn't know this but Nuts also reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes and pancreatic cancer.
  4. Meditate : Transcendental Meditation was something I learnt as a young child (it was a mandatory 1/2 hour that we spent at school every day meditating - it felt like evil torture !!!). However, at some point it clicked and anytime I felt anxious or overwhelmed I tried to use meditation and breathing as my "out" - I will be the first to admit that this is still not a strict part of my daily routine and this was one of the things I want to make a fixture in my life. Meditating changes your brain structurally and functionally ( he had some amazing research to support it)
  5. Run (or Walk) for your life : If you know me, you know one thing I swear by is exercising and moving. With our laptop lifestyles we are textbook candidates for hypertension, heart diseases and diabetes - however, if we mindfully try and make exercise a priority, we will be giving ourselves a tremendous gift. I had a working mom ask me in a panel - but don't you feel guilty about spending that time away from your child - I said yes, I do feel guilty every single day because I choose to exercise every single day...but I am ok with that guilt -with that guilt I also feel good that by keeping myself healthy and happy - I have a lot more energy and am  able to do a lot more for my child and am setting myself up as a good role model. 
 I am digressing I know but are you signed up for the American Heart Walk - it happens on Oct 20th, 2016 at Oracle HQ. Not signed up yet - join our team - Oracle HeartFit. Don't want to commit to the walk, no problem - donate for heart health, your heart will thank you and I will of course thank you !!!