Those 10 digits

There was a time when those 10 numbers flew out of my fingers without even thinking. Those where days when I dialed that number numerous times and I could recall it even in my sleep. It was a part of life. Today, 3+ years down the lane, I heard the news and I knew I need to pick up the phone and dial those 10 numbers again. I really did not have an excuse like the previous times. I could not kind behind the time zones, the work, the busy schedule anymore. It was time I put everything else behind and put friendship in the forefront. I did not have the words to say but it was something I needed to do. Just to say I care and give my support.

I took out my phone book and looked at the number, and memories flooded in. The times spent, the laughter, the tears, the joys and sorrows. Friends together laughing through life, the dinners, the library chat sessions so many...And as I write this, I hope you read it sometime RN and think back to the memories of those days and smile through your tears.

I have no words to say as always. I am bad at such situations but I know the pain you must be going through. Remember, she’s at peace now. It will be a challenge to deal with the future, but you will get through it. And I hope you realize you have a friend to lean on and anytime, any help am just a call away. Take care!

Memory Triggers-1

V writes,

I work in an office which has spotty cellphone coverage. It just gives me a regular excuse to step out and enjoy the day outside the confines of my cold office. A few minutes in the sun does marvels rejuvenating me. I enjoy stepping outside to smell the fresh cut grass, the bright sunshine and people watching! Right outside my building are two big urns filled with plants. Till yesterday those urns held a hibiscus plant and a small cluster of rather poor looking flowering plants. This morning at around 10am, I stepped out for a quick break and there I saw it. The urns filled with brightly colored bougainvillea flowers, so pretty and eye capturing. Before I can think anything else, memories flooded me... memories from childhood.

The days when I spent playing under the trellis overflowing with bougainvilleas that my grandmother lovingly nurtured. I remembered the unique smell of the bougainvillea leaves when rubbed between the fingers, a smell pungent and something I loved. I have forgotten when was the last time I crushed the leaves of the bougainvillea and enjoyed the smell so much. And it was the first thing I did today. The memories came gushing, simple things like dissecting the flowers, separating the pink bracts from the actual white flower.

Simple triggers, amazing memories to savor forever....
Has something triggered your memory recently? Tell me about it...

More memory triggers soon...

Fallen Leaves

It is the time of change. As previously mentioned there are lot of small changes and transitions going on in our lives. Change is probably the most constant thing in life but the prospect of leaving the comfort zone and a embracing a different way of life is filled with small moments of exhilaration and turmoil. Every change in life leaves me nostalgic and filled with memories. The memories bitter and sweet, pushed back to the corner of the confused brain.

The current changes in our life is accompanied by the change of seasons. 5.30pm is dark and uninviting and it really depresses the outdoorsy people in us. Yeah unknowingly seasonal affective disorder (SAD) creeps in. And I sit reliving memories, one by one, strewn all over, just like the falling fall leaves. Past their prime, they stay unnoticed till the lie strewn all over just like now. I take each memory and it brings a smile to my face, even the sad memories. As time flies and as I walk the memory lane, I remembered this forward someone sent me a long time back. It seemed very appropriate for the season.

The Last leaf.....
Was thinking of old friends today. And how many of them have slipped away, moved, got married, or stopped calling, found new friends and friends got busy, and just lost touch. It reminded me of falling leaves. Every autumn the leaves fall from the trees.Some stay longer than others, but eventually - each leaf must fall, I'm told. Leaving the tree alone to face the cold. Why is it that in the time of utmost need, the leaves would seek to leave the tree? And when we need our friends around we look and they can not be found?

I miss my friends from school and college. I miss my family back home in India. I miss those carefree days. I miss those emails and phone calls. Everything seems a blur these days except for the past. Vivid and colorful. Triggered by the simplest things.

My next few posts will be my trips down the memory lane. Jump in and post your memories of the past and their triggers.

Carbon dioxide

It has been a while since I posted anything about the environment on this blog. The usual buzz on environmental concerns continue, Al Gore and the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change win the noble price, oil spills in San Fransisco bay and in the Black Sea. These news have kind of become a part of our daily lives that we rarely pause to think about them. Pollution has become a way of life.

I came across this interesting website, CARMA which stands for carbon monitoring for action. Stop by their site for some good info and here are some interesting tit-bits from their site.

* India has around 2147 power plants and of those 377 having a red alert flag over them.

* 4 of them figure in the top emitters of CO2 in the world list. Neyveli (ranked 37th), Ramagundam (ranked 31st), Talcher Stps (ranked 38th) and Vidyachal (ranked 7th)

* China's Huaneng Power International releases the maximum CO2 currently

* India is currently in 6th position in carbon emissions currently and it is expected to move to the 3rd position by 2015

And yes Houston is also there on the list. The WA Parish in Fort Bend County is in the 46th position in the top emitter list. And our power suppliers, Centerpoint Energy are not the cleanest people but not so bad either....

The inner child

Growing up in India, November 14th was a day to celebrate the childhood and nation's first Prime Minister's love for children. It was a day when we had numerous fun-filled activities in school and exchanged wishes with every other person. As energetic and live-for-the-moment kids life was wonderful and a day in honor of children was like having the cake and the icing also.

Today, grown-up and hopefully more mature, the day literally has no significance. After all, we are no longer children. We are responsible adults making decisions big and small, running our own lives and some shouldering additional responsibilities as parents. Life seems so full, busy and Children's day is just another way to mark Nov 14th. A day on which, if time permitting we let ourselves think about our childhood and might be even Nehru Chacha.

But November 14th is not just for kids. It is for each and every one of us. I am not a child anymore, I am an adult but within me there still is my inner child. The person who cares nothing about tomorrow or what the world things. The inner child who lives-for-the-moment and takes thrill in the small things in life. The inner child who can stop and gasp at the rainbow and then take an impulsive trip to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Take a minute this day to listen to your inner child. What does that inner child want? Might be to fly a kite, to ride the cycle listening to the birds, to play marbles, to dance like no one is watching in the rain, to enjoy outrageously colored candies and cotton candy, to watch the fishes in the creek? Go ahead, you can always spare a 30 minutes to indulge your inner child and celebrate childhood!

And to your inner child, happy children's day!

Zipline across 7 seas

Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to announce that V and R have finally narrowed down what their part-time business is going to be. And they do hope it gives big results. After discarding the usual and araracha-mavu kind of things, they got this great inspiration when clearing their garage.

Well as a brief recap, since moving to our new den in February, the garage has not been the place were the cars are parked, it has been more a place to store all the assorted things that could not be fitted into the house. In fact, at one point of time, V and R were seriously considering ebaying all the stuff in the garage as a part-time job. But you see it is too predictable. Almost every other person sells stuff on ebay these days and there are even bumper stickers announcing, I got it on ebay.

After opening all the boxes in an attempt to clean and clear the garage, V and R have come up with this unique plan for their new business. And yes, they plan to connect all the wires in the garage, you know the ones in almost every box in the garage and run a zipline from Houston to Chennai for a much cheaper rate than the airline rates. After all people shell out big bucks to do such adventure trips in Costa Rica and Hawaii.

The ever creative V has devised some interesting taglines and promotions to sell the idea to others. Her self-proclaimed best tagline reads, "bring out your inner Tarzan". Imagine the thrills of zipping across the seas, hanging on to your dear life and looking forward to meeting your family at the other end. And special promotions include

the ever popular, B1G1:
buy one, get one free for the first month or so. People just fall for this offer. Publish a few coupons in the local Indo-American News and Voice of Asia and there will be people queing up for tickets.

kangaroo special:
The smart way where parents don't have to pay for their kids if they can suspend their kids on those swags/swings/pouches or whatever they are called in front of them and carry their kids there.

tarzan n jane/ veer zara style:
A valentines day special. Clinging to each other lovey-dovey couples can enjoy a romantic veggie meal catered by Houston's favorite, Balaji Bhavan with complimentary glass of champange, rose for the lady and chocolate dipped strawberries before zipping off to India.

Now she just needs to convince R that this will work. After all he convinced here that every piece of wire lying around the garage needs to stay for some unforeseen need. Aww! the pleasures of living with a man, who needs 4 computers and all available paraphernalia to function.

Oh btw, any takers for the zipline trial runs? After signing off any liabilities, all your zipping trials are free!

Happy Birthday lil One!

To a lovely brother, talkative, naughty and the budding chess champ.. Happy Birthday!

It is so bad that the all-time-terror Tamil exam had to fall on your birthday but I am sure you had tons of fun!

And yes I am looking for the updates about your birthday party right off your fingertips before they fall off ;)

Happy Birthday NS!

Celebrations all over...

And you can now call V a Master. After 15 months of research, classes and 2 hours of facing the firing squad she has added the second degree behind her name. And yes this was keeping us really really busy the past few months and now that the defense is done, we are breathing a sigh of relief. And it is right in time for Deepavali! It is time to light the lamps, enjoy the display of fireworks, taste the treats and savor times spent with family and friends.

As we did the previous years, we are planning a party on Friday. Time to spend with friends, make merry and enjoy. We are looking forward to catching up with old friends, make new friends and enjoy in the warmth Deepavali seems to bring.

But we miss Deepavali’s in India, the mad rush for shopping the latest fashions, the smell of ghee in the air, the smog caused by the cracker fumes, the smell of chemicals as the fireworks go off, the times spent with family and visiting friends. Back home in India, we really followed no special rituals for Deepavali other than a simple prayer and good food. And still Deepavali was so special because of the anticipation of the day off, the thrill of new clothes, the yummy foods, the times spent laughing with family and visiting friends. The week before Deepavali coming home every evening was a treat in itself. You never know what goodies will be there to welcome us. Gulub jamuns one day, murkku the other, mixture, bholi, chocolate… all things loved and yummy! It was time for feasting and enjoying.

We try hard to recreate the magic of Deepavali here in Houston but somehow it just gets lost inspite of homemade gulub jamuns and color kolams. And every year we promise we will try to go to India during Deepavali and this year will be no different. And now coming to the yummy Deepavali sweets, V plans to make gulub jamuns and time permitting some murruku. Yummy treats with recipes handed down from grandmother. As close as we can get to an Indian Deepavali.

And to everyone dropping in to Pooh’s Den, we hope you have a wonderful Deepavali filled with family, fun, memories and happiness!

Happy Birthday !

To R's dad!

Happy Birthday Appa! We hope you have many more years of loving, sharing and giving!

Fall Musings

It is that time of the year again! 7am and it is still dark and I hate it. I am the early morning kind of person and dark cold mornings just are not my cuppa. There is nothing more you want to do than bury into that thick warm blanket and head to dream land yet again at 7am! It is the time when cold fronts start coming in, when there is a crispness in the air, when there is an excitement as people look forward for their favorite holidays. It is fall! The slow change into winter, slowly before I know it would be below zero temperatures, bare trees and freeze warnings! But for now it is fall, the amazing autumn.

Yes it is cold after all I prefer the 80+ degree temperatures but still I love fall. The colors associated with fall, the food associated with fall, the festivities associated with fall everything is so merry, fun and so much of a change from the beach going summer days.

The leaves supposedly turn color, into yellow, orange, red and brown and then fall down covering the earth with blanket and leaving behind the smell of drying leaves. Unfortunately in H-town, the leaves don't have the patience, from green to brown in a day and they are on the ground, no shades of yellow or orange here! Leaves of all shapes slowly fall down leaving behind bare branches to last through the winter. A sign winter bare and cold is definitely on its way. And to enjoy the cooling weather, the freshest harvests bring an abundance of colorful apples, pumpkins and cranberries. A riot of colors and a tasty one too! And with all this food and colors can celebrations be far off?

Starting off with the fancy dress Halloween moving over to the family style Thanksgiving and then time for holly and mistletoe during Christmas and before you knows the bells ring to welcome the New Year! And strewn between these American holidays are holidays close to my heart, navrati, the puja days, deepvali and karthikai! Between bites of cakes and pastries, are gulub jamuns and bombay mixture, and in the warmth of the home we spend the time with friends and family. Holiday Season is here and it is time for family, fun and memories!

And here's wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season. Hope you enjoy times spent with family and friends creating memories!

Sunny Memories

It was the picture perfect way to end the day. Blue skies, white fluffy clouds floating across, the bright sun playing hide and seek, chirping birds, a slight breeze one of those few warm days before winter came in. The thought of the weekend being right around the corner, bringing an extra wide smile to my face. Thursday is over, just another day before we jump head first into the laziness weekends bring with them.

And then there was this sound! Something so familiar, yet so strange. The sound setting off memory alarms. I knew it so well but I couldn’t just place the sound. Has that ever happened to you? You know it, you rake your mind but you just cannot place it. It was one of those scenarios. And then I could control no longer, forgetting all manners, I turn around to spot the source of the sound.

And as I turned around, I saw it zip past me. And the smile on my face widening, I thought it was quite similar to my dear old Bajaj Sunny! A two-wheeler - a rare sight in the US, and the sound that was music to my ears was the sound of the gearless scooter accelerating. It is a unique sound and something I have associated so much with my growing years and it was such a pleasure to hear it.

For years, my black Sunny was my very own Ferrari. I zipped across to school, to library, to the market in it. It was like the 1980s Onida ad, “owner’s pride, neighbor’s envy”. It gave me mobility and the freedom which every teenager dreams of. I remember zipping along as the first drops of rain drizzled, as the wind blew my hair around! And it was just the sound that brought back the memories!

And that put a big smile and a spring to my step: reviving memories, I continued walking towards the parking lot much refreshed! As they say, memories are forever!