May 26, 2012

How I met your mother

Dear Shreya,

Happy 5th Birthday! You are a big girl now. On this occasion, I would like to tell you a story about two friends.

I first saw her in the summer of 1993. She passed me in the school corridor. She had long hair which was neatly tugged into two braids. I wondered who the new girl was. Few days later, I came to know that the new girl had shifted into our school from Delhi.

I and her becoming friends was out of question. You see, we both belonged to different divisions. There was some kind of politics between our class teachers which led to a cold war between the two divisions. They were good in sports and we were good in academics.

Over time, our paths crossed on a number of occasions: recital competitions, different exams, exhibitions. I secretly thought that she was quite clever and smart. She also excelled into sports, something in which I was a big zero. I don’t know what she thought of me. But never once did we talk to each other. The cold war only worsened over years as we beat their class by scoring over them and them defeating us in every sport.

Two years later, we appeared for the SSC board exams. On the day of the result, I was overjoyed. You see, I had scored good marks and stood fifth in the entire school. My marks guaranteed me admission in a good college. I was completely unaware that I had beaten her by merely one mark. Had she secured that extra mark her name would have been displayed on the school board.

I still clearly remember the first day of college. I went well in time for the first lecture. In the college corridor, I saw a big group of girls. They were busy introducing themselves and making small talk. I gingerly walked over. Imagine my surprise when I saw her in that group! A thousand questions raced my mind. How did she land up in the same college? What should I do? I wanted to back away, but before I could do so, a really chirpy girl asked me to introduce myself. I told my name and told which school I was coming from. The chirpy girl pointed to my school mate and said “This girl is from the same school. Do you know each other?” We both nodded our heads. The chirpy girl was very happy on hearing this and exclaimed that in a new college we at least knew someone familiar. Little did she know that our familiarity was the cause of our awkwardness.

Over the next few months, we did everything we could to avoid each other. We sat on different benches; we tried to make different friends. We soon became part of the same group. Still, we tried not to gel with each other. I purposely attended the lectures that she bunked and she did the same. However, destiny had something else in store for us. Slowly, we got to know each other. We discovered that we shared the same beliefs and had the same values. I started liking her laughter, her jokes, and her nature. I think she liked my simplicity. We started travelling together, talking on the phone after college, and hanging out more with each other. The rest, as they say, is history. We became the best of friends.

We were inseparable. We would spend hours visiting each other. Our parents knew what we meant to each other. When college was over, we found new ways and reasons to meet each other.

We are both die hard junkies and always found new places to satisfy our taste buds. All these years, she has dragged me to all the pathetic Salman Khan movies. I remember how I had tried my best not to laugh out loud on Salman’s over acting in Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. How could I laugh when I saw tears streaming down my best friend’s face when Salman didn’t win the love of his life?:-)

Our friendship also had a twinge of possessiveness. When I thought that her new friend might take my place, I would express my concern to her. She did the same. I can surely say that she’s one friend who totally understood me.

Over years, our talks have changed from who’s the cutest boy in college, choosing the right career, what to look in a life partner, and now on how to discipline our kids. We both found good life partners and were blessed with beautiful daughters. Our daughters now video chat and talk to each other in their British and American accents.

She is one friend who has literally supported me through thick and thin. She has firmly told me when I did something wrong. Today, we both live in different countries and fall in different time zones. It’s not that we speak daily; it’s not that we share each and every secret. But we remain very close friends. My voice always cracks up when I tell her that I miss her; her eyes always fill up when she sends me an e-greeting telling me that she misses me. Sometime back, I told her that I wished we lived near each other. I told her that I wished I could see her doing her every day chores. And she said that somehow she pictures me in my house, talking to my family and doing my chores. I believed her and told her I knew what she meant.

My best friend, Bhagyashri, is none other than your mother. This is the story of how I met your mother and how we became the best of friends. So much so that one would never believe that we started out on the wrong foot. As Bhagoos rightly says, our story is how prejudices can keep you away from the best things in life.

The reason I told you this story is that if you ever meet someone in your life and you think that the person can never be your friend, keep your mind and heart open. You never know when you might meet your best friend: a true gem.

I am looking forward to tell this story to Sayali when she turns five.


Swapna aunty.

May 11, 2012

An extra ordinary day

It was never going to be an ordinary day. It would either be a day of extreme happiness, or that of despair and disappointment.

20th June, 2003. I still remember the day’s events as if they happened just yesterday. My kid brother had appeared for the IIT entrance exam and his results were expected that day. This was his second attempt at the entrance. He was also a first-year engineering student. His second semester exams were due to start the same day.

My brother had slogged very hard for the IIT entrance.  I would often see him perched with a thick Physics book and a sheaf of papers, working on some complex equation. I would ask him if he ever got bored of those scary equations. His answer would always be negative. A week before the exam, he went completely nuts. He shut all his books, switched on the radio, and danced throughout the house. I guess this is what happens when you spend days and nights with complex Physics equations:)

On the day of the result, all of us were pretty tensed since morning. Dad wished him luck and left for work. The internet at our home was not working, so I and my brother left in search of an internet café. We settled down into one and began the ardent task of entering his number on the website to check the results. Unfortunately, a million other students were doing the same thing causing the server to return an error. We tried in vain for a long time. It was also getting late for him to go to his exam center for his engineering paper.  If he couldn’t get into IIT that year, then he would have to continue with his engineering college.

I told my brother to proceed to his exam center and assured him that I would keep checking the results.  He left with uncertainty. Almost 20 minutes after he left, I was lucky. I entered his number and the website displayed the result. I had to blink my eyes several times to get rid of my tears and absorb the result. He was AIR 1249. My joy knew no bounds as I called my mother on our residence number and told her the good news. Our voices broke several times with the tumult of emotions. With his AIR, he would definitely get admission into one of the seven IIT’s. I told my mother that I would go to the exam center and tell my brother the news before his exam began.

In those days, my brother and I did not have cell phones. My brother had told me that his exam center was Watumal Engineering College in Worli. So I headed in search for that college. As I left the internet café, it started raining. I had a tough time reaching the college after taking a bus and a taxi. As I reached the college, I realized that a difficult task lay ahead. I did not know his roll number or the room he would be in. I knew it was foolhardy to search for my brother. But I could not bear the idea of him not knowing the wonderful news for another four hours. The college’s seven floors loomed high above me. I started my search with the top floor.

There were hundreds of students reading through last minute notes. I peeked in each and every room; I ran from floor to floor. The exam was scheduled to start at 11am and I had a good half hour to search for him. I even spoke to couple of students and asked them their last names hoping to figure out some way to know his room.  As the students began to take their seats for the paper, I still hadn’t found my brother. Finally, the exam started and I realized that my brother would be in one of the rooms, sitting unaware that he need not write that paper.

I decided to call my mother and inform her that I couldn’t locate my brother and would be heading home. We did not have any other option than to wait for him to return home or call my mother. Imagine my utter shock when my mother told me that my brother already knew his result. It seems he had called home. He told my mom that he went to the center and realized his roll number was not on the list. He found out that he had noted the incorrect center. His exam center was not in Worli, but in Dadar. While he made his departure from the Worli College, I was already en route to that college. He left the Worli College and tried to reach the Dadar center. But due to the rain, the road was flooded with traffic. He realized he would never make it to the paper on time. He got down from the bus, called mom on the landline, and heard the good news. He was sure that he would get admission in IIT. He headed home.

When I heard that my brother had taken down the wrong exam center and made me go through the hopeless task of finding him in a college where he would never be found, I just lost it. I told my mother that my brother was somehow intelligent enough to crack the IIT exams but forgot his intelligence when it came to simple things like noting down the exam center. Had he not got a good AIR, he would have got an absentee on the engineering paper. I was furious with my brother. I was also tired, hungry, and dehydrated. I swore that I would give my brother a piece of my mind on reaching home.

Again, I battled through the rain and traffic and spent a good hour to reach home. I rang the doorbell and mom opened the door. I was about to open my mouth and unleash my anger when I looked at my brother. My anger vanished into thin air. I had never seen my brother cry after he became a teenager. But his eyes were filled with tears of happiness as he embraced me in a tight hug. I have never known my brother to be emotional, but it was not an ordinary day.

It was a day when a mother’s sacrifices came to fruition. It was a day when a father’s chest swelled with pride. It was a day when a sister became utterly proud of her little brother. It was a day when a young boy’s efforts, determination, and dedication guaranteed him a seat in India’s top technical colleges.

Indeed, it was not an ordinary day.

This post is part of the contest It was never going to be an ordinary day.. on

May 1, 2012

Just another day

(As part of the group blogging activity, Seema gave us a chance to travel down memory lane and write a letter to ourself when we were 20 years old.)

Dear self at sweet 20,
You are going to hate me for this. I have put on 30 pounds since I was youL Well, it wasn’t all those lovely samosas I gorged on in college, nor the yummy masala pav I ate in Shubhalaxmi. I met this really cute guy seven years back. We dated for a year and he took me to all those lovely cafes. I had nice chubby cheeks when I got married. If that wasn’t enough, I befriended all the foodies in the world.  And now my post pregnancy weight refuses to vanish.

However, you will be proud to hear my accomplishments.  I selected a good career for myself and became a Technical Writer. I earn a decent income. That must be a relief to hear. I mean, when I was you, I would ask for pocket money every single day. I was quite shameless.

I got married in 2006 and was blessed with a princess in 2008. We named her Sayali. She’s a cute monster. I and my husband often worry how she will turn out when she’s a teenager. If she becomes anything like me, I am in for trouble. Do you remember that cute dress I had that reached just till my knees? One day it had suddenly vanished and I had strongly suspected mom. Well, I might have to resort to similar tactics when Sayali grows up.

Thanks to Sayali and my marriage, I am more attached to my mother. I still dote on my father, but it’s mom’s voice I want to hear first on the phone, it’s mom to whom I want to tell all my complaints of my daughter. And I know she understands just as I understand her much better. A rebellious 20-year old always got angry when mom told her to do something; but the mom in me now empathizes with my mother.

Do you remember how I never, ever set foot in my mom’s kitchen? I was determined that I would earn well enough to hire a cooking maid. God, I still shiver remembering my mom’s fits when she would proclaim that I would never find a good groom or kill my family due to hunger. Well, I was headed along that path but something changed in me. I guess I wanted to cook for the man I loved. But you would be shocked to hear that I started a food blog sometime back. Though it’s dormant now, it still has a good number of visitors.

I am now in the US for the second time with my family. I have a set routine and responsibilities. My problems are very much different from the ones I had when I was you. Back then I would worry about completing assignments at the nth hour, KT’s, getting caught by putting someone’s proxy, convincing parents for staying out late at night. Now, my problems include what to cook for dinner, planning my daughter’s studies, nagging my husband to complete his chores. You would think that my life is quite boring. But I like it the way it is. I am happy and content.

When I was you, I wanted life to continue the way it was for the rest of my life. I didn’t have a care or worry in the world. Life, as I knew it, meant college, friends, bunking lectures, using four letter words, throwing rockets on professors, watching movies in really cheap theatres, teasing each other silly with some cute guy, calling friends the minute after reaching home to “discuss something important we learnt that day”, going to Chembur station for xeroxing entire books a month before the exams, studying till late hours preparing for exams, wearing the same dress for all papers because it proved lucky, and then biting our nails while waiting for the results.

If I could turn back time, I would love to relive just another day, any day from my 20 year life. I would love to wake up one day and discover that I am 20 and be able to do all the things I did in college. 

So adios, my friend. It was good being you. I don’t have a single regret.

The spirit of you, but a teeny bit mature

P.S: Don’t be so jubilant after your Math exam and think that’s the end of it. You will have nightmares about that paper for years.

April 10, 2012

A girlfriends weekend getaway

We hatched the plan over a long phone call. The need to meet was insatiable. After all, we hadn’t met in a good seven years. I took over the challenge of finding a good resort. Luckily, one met my expectations the very next day. A deluge of emails later, we finalized the dates. It was decided. The three of us based in three different US states planned to meet from 30th March to 1st April.
It was ironic that the three of us hadn’t met in India. We were good friends since Engineering college. We had hopes, dreams, and ambitions just like any teenager. After we graduated in 2002 with a teary farewell, we had vowed to keep in touch. Little did we know that time, career, marriage, and other commitments wouldn’t let us meet for so long. We did not attend each other’s weddings. Of the three of us, only Deepa saw to it that she kept in touch with a lot of college buddies. I had met her in September 2010 when she had come down to India for a short vacation. But I hadn’t met Meeta after 2005.
Anyway, fast forward to ten years after graduation. We were so excited about our forthcoming trip that we announced it to anyone who cared to listen. We jinxed it big time. A week before the trip, Deepa suddenly got very ill. Luckily, she recovered two days later. Then it was my turn to fall sick. I had fever, cold, throat infection – the works. By the third day of my sickness, I seriously doubted if I would have any energy to haul myself to Virginia – yes, that’s where we had decided to meet. As fate would have it, my husband fell ill the same day that I recovered. I was still hovering between my decision about making the trip, when my husband, the good soul that he is, sternly told me to go ahead with the trip. Meanwhile, Deepa had already started her adventurous journey. I bet she’s going to blog about it.
During my flight to Virginia, I had a lot of questions on my mind. How would it be to meet after so long? Would the three of us connect or would there be awkwardness between us? I had a pretty uneventful journey. As I waited outside Roanoke airport for my two girlfriends, I couldn’t contain my excitement.
Then finally, I saw them. I was astonished to see Meeta. She looked like a model in her lovely dress, glares, and heels. Deepa seemed the same, chirpy self. We enjoyed a lovely lunch in an Indian restaurant and proceeded to our destination – The Inn at Riverbend.
                                                         (View from our room)
We reached there in less than two hours. As soon as we checked in, the owners, Jim and Janet, gave us a lovely tour of the resort. The view was breathtakingly beautiful with the river forging right in front of us. The mountains and the lush greenery added to its beauty. If you happen to be near Virginia and are looking out for a relaxed weekend with your spouse, this is the place to be.
The next two days went in a blur of non-stop chatting, watching some chick flicks, taking loads of pictures, pulling each other’s leg, and enjoying some good food. Seconds ticked to minutes and minutes to hours as we spoke, and spoke some more. The first evening we just took some lovely pictures outside the resort. The second day we half-visited a waterfall. We couldn’t go the whole way as my shoes hurt like crazy and the walk seemed never ending. But the highlight of the trip was the second evening. Meeta, at her usual filmy self had big plans. She donned an Indian salwar kameez and ran across the lush fields with her duppatta swaying behind her. She wanted to enact the scene from Mohabbatein. I and Deepa doubled over in laughter seeing her running across the grass. She looked so funny and cute at the same time.
We girls had definitely changed with a few extra pounds, some grey hairs, a slightly improved sense of dressing, and become a bit wiser. Still, we had the same core values that bonded us together in college. We missed the other friends from our group and recalled all the lovely times we had spent in college.
The three days with my girlfriends were mesmerizing. They got over too soon. In those three days, we momentarily forgot that we were students, wives, and mothers. We forgot our hectic schedules, our daily chores, our responsibilities. We were just three best friends, thankful to God for giving us the opportunity to reconnect after a long time.
The week following the trip was one of the most refreshing ones that I remember. I only wish that we get to meet at least once every year. If you are a wife, mother, career woman, student, think about taking a break with your girlfriends. It rejuvenates you like nothing else. Believe me; I still have a glow on my face!

April 5, 2012

If wishes were horses…

This time it was Bhagyashri’s turn to choose a topic for the group blogging activity and she asked us to let our imagination loose and disclose what power/sixth sense we would like to possess.
Hmm, it sounds like a really compelling idea at first. I mean, wouldn’t it be cool to possess a sixth sense about anything? Imagine what one could do by knowing when the bank’s security system would fail, or when the gold prices would hit an all time lowJ
But the more I think about it, I realize I would have to be extremely careful in what I wish for. I mean, I don’t want my head to be a tangled mass of thoughts by possessing the power to read someone’s mind like Mel Gibson did in What Women Want? Nor would I like to carry the burden of knowing how and whom death would follow as shown in the Final Destination series.
There are certain human characteristics that confuse me a lot. And there are some that I just cannot deal with. So my sixth sense would really be broken down into things that bother me most when interacting with others. Given a chance, there are two powers that I would like to possess.
The first would be the power to know the real intention of someone’s derogatory remarks at me. When someone makes a comment at me that hurts me, the first thing that I would like to know is did they make the comment to purposely hurt me? Or did they just pass a casual remark and I got offended by it? Were they upset because of their personal stuff and that caused the sudden outburst of sarcasm?
A comment like “Oh, you have taught your husband to feed your child so you can sit peacefully and enjoy your lunch” makes me wonder if I have done a good or bad thing.  Or a comment like “Is your dress tight or have you put on weight?” makes me wonder if people have nothing better to do than pass comments on others.
Some people are very calm about handling such things. I, on the other hand, carry the burden for several days. It goes on and on in my head. It changes my view of people and causes awkwardness the next time I have to interact with them.
The second power that would be really good to possess would be to know is if someone does pass a derogatory remark at me, how do I give it back to them without being extremely rude and sarcastic? How do I smirk and give off the impression that your remark was so stupid and nonsensical, I will never ever think about it? Hey, be careful about what you say to me. I might not like it. If you want to be friends with me, watch your tongue and say only nice things to meJ
I suffer from a classic problem of not being able to give it back to someone on their face and then wishing I would have said something to let them know their place. I play a mind game wishing I would have said this or that. So, I would really like to know what is the best thing to say without damaging the relation. You said something that hurt me, here’s what I have for you. Bang! The matter is over then and there, unless, the person carries the revenge against me and insults me the next time. I realize that we may get into a loop. But nonetheless, I would have some peace of mind knowing that I learnt how to deal with such a situation.
A few years back, we had hosted a party for my husband’s birthday. While the guys were having some fun by passing around a champagne bottle, someone commented that my husband should get the last sip so that he would get a good wife in his next birth. I was stunned with insult. How I wish I would have said something and either made a joke out of it, or subtly told the person that he didn’t have a funny sense of humor.
My wish for sixth sense may sound really stupid to someone else. But to me, it would make a huge difference if I learn to handle people and those awkward situations.
Life would be so much easier if you get what you ask for. The trick lies in knowing what to ask for and then using it to your benefit.

February 20, 2012


As I stood kneading dough near my kitchen counter, I thought about Preeti’s latest prompt for Tea for Tuesday: Can a relationship be like a tea-stain?
Within no time, I realized that tea and relationships have so many things in common.
Some relations are like sweet tea. You always feel good about them. That tea never goes wrong; there’s a perfect balance and blend of water, sugar, tea, and milk.
Some relations are like shallow tea. You always think something’s amiss, but you can’t figure out why.
Some relations are like tea which no matter how long or how strong you brew, it never tastes good or right.
Some relations are like hot tea which falls on you and scalds you in the process. If you get hurt once, it’s acceptable to continue the relation. But if you get hurt again, there’s no point in brewing the tea.
Some relations are like tea addictions. You know too much is wrong; but you can’t break away.
Coming back to Preeti’s prompt, my answer is: Yes and No. Some relations can be like mild tea stains. If something in the relation hurts you, you judge how hurt you were. You also ponder on how important the relation is to you. You try to let go. You use the strongest detergent to get rid of the tea stain. No matter how hard you wash, the stain takes its own time in going away. Some relations and the memories we associate with them are like mild tea stains: the bad ones fade away with time, love, and nurturing from both sides.
Yet, some relations are like tough tea stains. No matter how hard you wash, the stain never goes away. And if you are badly hurt, the stain may go away one day, but to you, the stain is always there.
In the end, life’s all about enjoying a good cup of tea and forgetting the stainsJ

February 13, 2012

India Shining

(It was Deepa’s turn to select a topic for the group blogging activity and she selected “India Shining: two things you love and two things you would like to change”)
When Deepa announced the topic, I instantly found it analogous to someone asking you to mention two things you love in your husband and two things you would like to change. For all I know, most people (me included) would mention exactly two things that they like, but come up with a long list of things to change. I mean, he’s very kind and helps me, but only if he could do his chores without a lot of nagging, if only he would throw the trash on time, get me more gifts, help me more in the kitchen, gets up on time, and on and onJ
So this topic really got me thinking about what it is that I really like in my homeland and what would I like to change. There are literally dozens of things I like: the food, the people, the culture, the values. There are also dozens of things I would like to change: the dirt, the pollution, the corruption, the noise. So, do you want the good news or the bad news first? Always makes it better when you hear something good before hearing the bad, doesn’t it?
Two Things I Love
I absolutely love all the festivals in India. Of course, the noise levels and the amount of money that is spent is not justifiable. But what I love in the festivals is the enthusiasm and the sense of unity among people. In today’s hectic life, festivals give us a good reason to meet each other and spend some quality time. I have so many fond memories associated with each and every festival. It’s difficult to choose a favorite: Holi with its vibrant colors, Navratri with the dandiya/garba, Diwali with the celebration of lights, and Ganpati with the dhol, tashas, and aartis.
 I really believe that festivals also teach us a lot. For example, if you actively participate in a festival, you are bound to meet lot of people; share knowledge, ideas, and network. You can develop leadership qualities; learn how to handle different egos, resolve conflicts, manage time: in short, you learn good management skills. I would definitely say that part of what I am today is thanks to these festivals; I have learnt a lot and will continue to learn through participation. I would also urge my readers to actively participate and let their kids participate in the festivals. No matter how busy or tired you are, there’s a lot to gain by giving some time, energy, and presence in our festivals.
Knowing the good from the bad
There are always two paths to take: the good or the bad. India’s rich culture, its history, the diverse population, the different rituals have so much to teach us. I feel that the values our parents instill in us help in choosing the right vs. wrong. I don’t remember my mom or teachers teaching a subject “Values and culture”, but they are still passed on from generations after generations.
From a very early age, we expose and teach kids a plethora of shlokas and devotional songs, which build the foundation for learning good lessons. They also help us in learning recitation and improving our memory. I still remember my mother asking us to chant “Vadani kaval gheta” before eating the food on our plate.
Do you remember the story of the monkey and the crocodile? I am sure you do. It taught us a valuable lesson that presence of mind is always important. At a very early age, our parents introduced us to moral stories such as panchatantra which teach us good valuable lessons through short stories and anecdotes.
Lastly, we learn to observe and implement. Always help those around you, respect your elders, do not raise your voice, do not support evil even if you are alone are just some of the wonderful things we learn by observing our elders. I always give up my seat in a crowded bus to an elderly person or a pregnant lady. I never throw litter or spit on the road. I hope my daughter observes and learns these things.
No matter how old we grow, we can never forget these lessons. They help in shaping us in what we become and aid us in making the right choices in life.
Two Things I Would Like to Change
Customer Service or Customer Satisfaction
Does anyone in India ever care about customer service? I think not. In India, the focus seems to be more on selling a product or getting the job done, but not on quality. In US, we can return a product for up to 90 days after purchasing it. If you have a bad product experience, return the product and replace it. For me, it’s a sure sign that the customer might return for another product.
In India, if your product is broken, you have to call umpteen times to reach the repairmen. Banks, retail stores are always flooded with people with a long line at checkout. At the boarding desk in India, the lady made an error in our boarding passes which resulted in us to wait for over 2 hrs at the same place. Did she apologize? No. Did anyone attend to us at the earliest? No. It was only after we had completely lost it, that someone saw our passes, checked all of our 9 check-in bags, verified that we were not terrorists, and let us proceed to immigration. Why wasn’t this done in the first 15 minutes?
The customer is GOD and if you treat him well and give him a good experience, your business will flourish.
Safe place for women
It shocks and makes me extremely sad to realize that India is still not very safe for women. Open any newspaper and there would be at least 2-3 news of rapes within any part of India. I was under the illusion that at least Mumbai is comparatively safe. But this news shattered my illusion. While travelling in public transport in Mumbai is not so risky, friends have told me horror stories of public transport in Delhi. I dare not think what happens in the rural villages. It breaks my heart to think that the very woman, who gives birth, nurses her kids, and sacrifices so much to bring them up, is sometimes looked upon as an object of pleasure and is forced to give pleasure. If I were to have the power to change something, I would make extremely strict punishment for rapists.
At the end of this blog post, I cannot help but remember the movie “Nayak”, where a civilian is made a minister for a day. He goes about getting rid of the corruption and tackling the corrupt politicians. While some of the things depicted in the movie were very farfetched, if we have a minister who takes every good idea and turns it into a good deed, our country will be a much safer and better place to live. Jai Hind!

January 5, 2012

Felt like a dream

(I know I have to write a different post for my group blogging activity. But I am feeling so nostalgic about home and our recent trip, that I couldn’t help but write this post.)

It seems just like yesterday that we were busy shopping, buying gifts, and packing for our India trip. It seems just like yesterday that one day before our departure we got the sweet news that we were blessed with a niece. It seems very recently that we boarded a flight to India, counting the hours left before we could see our parents.

We landed in India on 5th Dec, exactly a month back. We thought three weeks would be enough to visit home. But we were terribly wrong. The first 2-3 days went in fighting the jet lag and getting accustomed to the weather. Meanwhile, we also started our shopping for my brother’s wedding. We visited our flat that first weekend and managed to meet a few friends.

The next week was wedding preparations week. I don't even recall how that went by what with last minute shopping, buying tons of things, welcoming relatives, organizing things, packing bags, etc. My kid brother got married on 18th and somehow that is still sinking in. It takes time to believe that the baby you held in your arms, the one you watched grow up, had innumerable fights with, shared dozens of things with finally grew up into a responsible man and tied the knot. Anyway, the wedding was a grand hit and we had a fun time doing fancy dress by changing into different gorgeous sarees and enjoying good Indian food. The day before and after the wedding we had poojas and they went exactly the way I like them: calmly, quietly, with the mantras spreading a positive vibe in our house. The newly weds left for their honeymoon two days after the wedding. And that was our last week in India.

We had just four days left spare after the wedding. They went by in the blink of an eye. We managed to eat whatever was on our list whenever we could. I am sure people couldn't understand the joy on our faces as we relishied the road-side pani puri after 8 months:)

Yes, some things back home are still the same. We were hot and miserable the first few days. We were shocked by the inflated prices every time we ate/drank something. An itty-bitty glass of lime juice costs us 20 bucks. The traffic and the pollution is still bad. I spent 10 minutes trying to cross the road those first few days. I thanked God every time I safely survived an autorickshaw ride. But nothing can beat the love of parents, relatives, and friends. We felt so pampered and loved during our small stay. Our kid had a grand time with her grandparents. Before we knew, it was time to repack and head to US.

There was a big scene at the airport where my kid cried out for her grandparents and wanted to stay back. My heart broke into a million pieces as I saw my kid crying in my arms, reaching out to her grandparents, who cried on the other side of the airport entrance. Meanwhile, I tried to put on a brave face and stop my tears, but failed miserably. We came back on 24th Dec.

It was such a short trip that I can't even believe I had actually gone there. I mean, how could it get over so soon? I keep cursing myself that I should have checked the holiday calendar and stayed there the whole of December. I was unaware that we had holiday on 26th and 30th. And now, I keep regretting that I could have taken additional three days off, or worked from there, or done something, just something, but stayed for a while more. Till the very last minute before leaving India, I felt that I should extend our tickets and stay some more. But what's the point of repenting now?

It really feels like a sweet dream of us visiting home, spending time with our loved ones, and eating home-made food. I only wish the dream would never get over!