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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Just another day in a working mom's life

Hi readers,
This is a guest post from my friend Sejuti. She wrote something and shared with me, which I loved. She doesn't blog so I thought it'd fun to post it here (with her permission). Love such spontaneous notes.

We met this really nice couple while sleigh riding with our 16-months old in Mt. Washington Resort. We had taken a luxury one-day trip, and since our brand new walker could not ski that year, we just enjoyed the associated perks without the physical activity. We got talking with the couple wowing over how well behaved our baby was, who blissfully went to sleep in his dad's arms. It was just magical, so pretty, with the sleeping baby, riding a mammoth horse driven carriage in the snow. Talking about the snow, it came up how our co-passengers were not used to snow in Indiana and it made life so much harder in New Hampshire. Like a stereotypical East Coaster, I think the only place west of us is California, but we learned that it can get pretty cold in Indiana too. I think I actually said aloud that if it's cold it might as well snow. The romantic in me will never die.

Anyway, so I admired the couple for moving across the country with a middle schooler and a high schooler. And here WE are, going on and on about can we really live outside of Boston? We both had moved our lives from a totally different country at 22 years with two suitcases, only to meet each other and have two off-shoots, a 4-years old Springer Spaniel, and a toddler after 10 years in Boston now. I also loved how the middle-aged couple kept their romance alive and decided to take a day trip, just the two of them. It so happened that their kids had school on President's day, but he had the day off and decided to make an impromptu trip out of it. So, there he quipped isn't it such an odd holiday, and I gushed how wonderful it was to get the day off! He then totally shifted his attention to my husband, the quieter of the two of us, and asked if his workplace gave the day off. It was such a harmless way his mind was programmed to function but just turned on the reality of the everyday world and the subtle bias that we face every day. It doesn't need to be an outrageous act, just little thoughts that need to change, little ways I can make a difference raising my son, little ways I remind myself I should not feel guilty for spending time away at work.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Where is home?

While watching Lion, I couldn't help but wonder that life might have turned out very different for Saroo if he were found sooner. He had an opportunity to change his life. But many other children are not as fortunate.

We can romanticize about what we called 'home' from a distance. However, those who stay back might be living through Hell.

Home is not about a place in the past. It is not where you sleep at the end of the day. It is where you keep all your dreams stashed and pick one each day and work on achieving them. Home is a voice that says, 'It is okay to fail. Let's try again tomorrow.'

My home is here, right now. And it is not a person, building, or room. It is where I can be myself without fear.

Love where you live

I am the kind of person who usually skims through a document before signing it. So when we were signing a lease renewal for our apartment, I read through the guidelines again to see if they had added new terms. I discovered a federal law called Megan Law, created in response to the murder of Megan Kanka, requiring law enforcement authorities to make information available to the public regarding registered sex offender. I went to their site and made a search of any known offenders and violation.

My apartment community is spotless because the population comprises mostly immigrant employees and aging couples. The trouble makers are usually college kids whose only crime is the occasional partaking of the stinkweed that leaves the elevator stuffy. I just attribute it to their lack of knowing better. Mundu gele khaabe ta ki? It is important to take care of your head and not puff things that can mess with your spatial memory and cause you to forget where home is.

Anyhow, I go to this website and I get paranoiac just by looking at the mugshots. The San Jose Downtown, like any other I guess, lights up like Christmas with blue(offenders) and red(recent violations of parole) markers. Some of the police records make my skin crawl. 'Lewd or lascivious act with a child under 14 years of age' is especially infuriating because that is just the upper age limit. The scum of the earth walk around and breathe the same air we do after 5 years of jail time.

You may visit the website here

You have to sign a disclaimer to not use the information to blackmail a person, then you can put in your address and search within .1 to 10 miles radius. There are other search criteria too, but I think this is the more relevant one. Also, take note of the sidebar which includes Education and Prevention. It is especially important to teach children about saying no to any unwelcome touch or action.


The purpose of this post is not to spread fear, but to stay informed about your community and your surroundings.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Before we met

I often wonder...
Who we were before we met.
Every dream I had until now,
Everyone I loved, cherished, desired-
Seems in the distant past
Blurry, unreal.

The forms of black smoke
Gliding over me
Vanished in the light of the day.
But their screams remained
Resonating in my emptiness.
I held onto it because that is all I had.

On nights like this
I walked through the empty halls
Running my fingers on the peeling walls.
In desperation, I wrote ‘I believe!'
A thousand times over
On my body with a black marker.

I wanted to believe
That a different life was waiting for me.
I deserved to be happy.
I deserved to be loved.
I deserved to dream a little
Of you by my side.
.....

Though it is by no means a poem, a friend picked a few lines from my composition and posted this. Thanks Chitra!


Friday, February 03, 2017

Customer Service Experience: CharityHowTo

One of my supervisors, Bob Bergstrom, recommended me the CharityHowTo website to attend webinars about non-profits. I purchased a gold membership for $89 per month which includes access to recorded webinars.


So ideally, if I select a recorded webinar it should be included in my membership. But due to some glitch, they were charging me again for the webinar and for the gold membership (which I am already getting charged for every month).

Obviously, it was very confusing. I tried to contact their customer service with a 617- (Boston) number. The first two times I tried, it went to voicemail. Then, someone named Amy called back on my number. She promised they wouldn't charge me twice and I should be able to access my library free of charge.

Not only that, the owner, Kurt Steiner,  talked to me after that.

Me: So, are you in Boston?
Kurt: We had an office in Boston, but we are in Panama in Central America now. I see you have a 617 number too.
Me: I went to school there.
Kurt: I apologize again for this. I have sent an email and left a voicemail for you. Our engineers are taking care of it as we speak. Is there anything else I can do?
Me: No, Amy took care of me. Thanks !
Kurt: Great! You have a great weekend!
Me: You have a good one too!

Nice, human conversation when I was expecting pre-recorded messages.

I know it becomes difficult for larger corporations to stay in touch with their customers. Hence, what we call 'the moments of truth' in customer service becomes increasingly negative.  Before the interaction, I was considering canceling my membership. Now, I know that someone feels responsible for the glitch and are trying to fix it.  Sometimes, that is enough. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Our story so far

Sometimes, I remember our initial days together as PIGS: Poor Indian Graduate Students. We hardly had the time to meet even once a week, and dating meant listening to music on his iPod while sitting on the rocks by the bay at Harbor Point in the evening or catching an occasional movie together in Downtown Loews. There were times when I was not even sure if this was serious. I had a different set of expectations from a 'boyfriend.'

However, every time we met, I felt a strange sense of peace sweep over me. I felt that I could live with him even if he had to bask with his keyboard at Park Street Station and we had only spam sandwiches every meal. He could make me laugh like no one else could. He would say the most absurd thing in a conversation and bubbles of laughter would spill on my lips. It is not an easy feat because my humor is very selective.

Some very close people (now nowhere in my life) advised me that 'You can do better than him! You are pursuing an MBA; you will earn a lot soon. You might want someone who earns more than you.'

Thank God I knew what I wanted and what I didn't.  My Dad always said that marry someone for the person they are, not for their bank balance. When I married him, he had a debt from relocating from Boston to San Jose for his new job. I was a little worried, but I felt that together we could work off that debt. And we did. In fact, he did it on his own.

I saw him working crazy hours. Trying this, trying that. Keeping hope alive in our life. I saw that sincerity and goodwill can help you earn a place in the world where strangers respect you for the work you do. Our struggles are not over yet, but we have a come to a comfortable position where we can experience life in a certain way.

Most young couples struggle to stay afloat. If you listen to your parents, they will tell you how they survived on a meager salary of 500 INR every month and even managed to shoulder responsibilities of their big families with it. Maybe the thing that kept them together was their shared history of less resourceful days.

Maybe we respect the person who stood by us even at our worst and we believe that they deserve to be beside us when things look up. Maybe love isn't just a storm of passion sweeping us off our feet, but gradual understanding and respect that develop over the years. And though things can't always be sunny, we can take comfort in the memories in the rainy days and dream of a more beautiful future together.

Monday, December 05, 2016

The Other Radha

Krishna was reigning supreme in Dwarka with Rukmini. The divine engineer Vishwakarma had built a golden city on the right bank of River Gomti. Dwarka, meaning 'the gateway to Heaven' was fit to be the abode of the Gods. The outer gates of the fort opened to the sea. In the rays of the setting sun, it looked like the flames of Agni Dev (The God of Fire) had risen from the sea to create a magical realm. The citizens prospered, and so did the city. Mansions made of the finest marble had doors and windows embellished with gold, silver, and precious gemstones.  Peacocks danced to their delight next to ponds filled with fragrant lotuses.

But Krishna was not happy. There was a hounding feeling that he had forgotten something. Something important. He had forgotten his promises to Radha.
*
Radha sat on the banks of River Yamuna in Vrindavan, lost in the thoughts of her beloved cowherd. It had been years since she had last seen him, but the sound of his flute still filled her mind and her heart. Occasionally, she danced to music only she could hear and embraced tamal trees thinking it was her dark-skinned beau.

The Gopis could not bear her plight anymore. Latika, Vishaka, Chitra and the others loved Krishna with great devotion, but they also knew that Radha was special. She would wither and die if she didn’t see her Lord soon. They convinced her to go to Dwarka to meet him.

Radha: But will he remember me?

*
In the sabha (courtroom), Krishna barely recognized her. The lusciousness of her youth drained in years of solitude. No shringar (grooming). She looked like a flower the gardener had taken great care to bloom but had then forgotten all about her.

Radha appealed to Krishna, ’Lord, I am an unfortunate woman from Vrindavan. My Lord has forgotten me and I have no means to live. Let me be your dasi (servant) and live the rest of my days in peace. I promise to ask for nothing more than Your Lordship’s happiness.’

Krishna smiled benignly at the strange request of the strange woman. Radha commenced serving Krishna and Rukmini in the palace. Sometimes, she stole a glance of the Lord and smiled. Content just to be near him. How enthralling his smile was! It made her feel that there was no pain in the world. No sadness, no grief, no illness. He is Manohar after all. He steals hearts with his smile.

But with years of intense hard work and a broken heart, Radha fell severely ill. When she realized that she had very little time to live, she embarked upon a journey to the banks of Yamuna of Vrindavan.

Krishna, missing his favorite dasi, got to know that she had left the palace for her home.
He remembered something from the days he was a young cowherd. The sounds of the anklets of a fair maiden. The companion of his Raasleela.

He commandeered a chariot and started in the general direction of Vrindavan, his childhood home. He found her lying under a tree, breathing wearily. He ran down to her side, took her head in his lap while tears rolled down his eyes.

Krishna: Why didn’t you tell me Sakhi?

Radha smiled faintly as her vision blurred with tears.

***

This is a take on one of the most revered lovers of Hindu mythology- Radha and Krishna. It is said that Radha spent her last days waiting for Krishna by the River Yamuna. What if she had gone to Dwarka to see him. Would it have been any better?

I had fun imagining it. Hope you liked reading it.