The Neophyte

Eight years have passed since I moved to the United States of America. I was a neophyte, a novice here. The pie chart of my life had three parts. I was a daughter, a daughter-in-law and a wife. Two of which were put on hold when I flew out of India. So, I was just a new wife when I was introduced to American lifestyle. A new resident of this country; about which I knew nothing. A lot of things seemed to be an illusion.

It was quiet an experience when my zip code changed from 226002 to 94086. The process of adjusting to this new environment involved lots of downs and downs. And in this process of learning and also unlearning, I met many people who made my life easier. For example, the airport security guard who guided me towards a “restroom” when I desperately asked her for the directions to the “toilet”. My fatigue from 30 hrs of flying and the pressure that was building within me prevented me from blurting out, “I am not looking for a place to sleep but a place to relieve.” With slight frustration and a short thanks I went in the pointed direction. Soon, I realized that kind lady had sent me to the right place and just in time.

The rolling conveyor belt, at the FoodMaxx was carrying the two Coke bottles. Tomatoes, cauliflower and the potatoes followed the sodas. More and more stuff kept piling up, while I admired the moving conveyor belt with my eyes wide open. Only a couple of days back, I saw those huge conveyor belts in the baggage area at the airport. And now the same principle was being used for bringing in little stuff too. I was valuing the efficiency of the whole system here when I noticed that Ashu was looking intently at me. I blushed but steadily held to the ground and stood there. Finally, he said, “Winky, pick up the items and put them in the bags.” Then I realized that I was blushing at the wrong time and definitely at the wrong place. Those were not the amorous looks of a husband for his new wife, but they were just signalling, “Move lady, there is no Ramu here to carry your load for you. This is America, you need to learn to do your own work.” I quickly followed the directions and started bagging the groceries.

Next event came when we were washing our car by ourselves. My responsibility was to hold the key ring, containing both car and our small one bedroom apartment keys. Ashu was diligently rubbing the soap on his ox, oh sorry on his car. He was working as sincerely as the milkmen in India used to massage their oxen to give their coat a sheen while bathing them in a muddy pond. I felt a strong urge to be a part of it. I am not sure if it was out of concern for him or that I was envious of his affection towards his Honda Accord. I just could not stand there and be a mere onlooker. I securely put the keys in the car and locked the door behind me. With the bang the door closed. Yes, with the keys inside. What followed next you may very well anticipate that. A young couple stranded outside their home with no help or acquaintance around.

The incident that informed me about my residential status in this country involved the beauty of the my life’s first Passport. It was such a prized possession for me and therefore I cannot bear it looking ugly because of some little piece of paper jutting out. So, I neatly removed the staples to take out that paper and restored my passport’s good looks. That 3 x 4 size paper was not impressive enough to capture my attention even for five minutes. I took it out and forgot about it.

At that time I had no idea that ‘that’ paper was as important as the passport. It was the document that proved that I am a legal resident of USA. It was an I-94. I was reminded of it when I went to the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) to get my temporary driving license. The moment the clerk and Ashu looked at me and enquired about the I-94, I realized that I had lost many things including my mind, my voice and of course that I-94. That was the longest time ever in my life that I remained so quiet. I had nothing to say. I didn’t have the strength to accept that I threw it away because it was sacrificing the looks of my passport.

We came back home, quietly. Ashu started doing something on the Internet while I looked for it, quietly. Then, I checked in my bags quietly. Right after that I quietly searched the closets. Finally, I got my voice back. “Eureka……..” it was quietly lying in my big suitcase. The piece of luggage that carried my past life to US was holding my future as well. It was ugly but not that ugly that I would have instantly thrown it in the garbage. For me the quote “looks can be deceiving” came to life.

It’s never easy to start a life at a new place irrespective of one’s origin. People face more difficulties than I did. I feel that it’s fun to reacquaint with those episodes once they have culminated and have a hearty laugh. Now, I am debating, if I should share more stories of the time when I started driving while DMV is still in picture or leave it for another time. I think second option is better so bye for now and I will be back soon with more stuff later. Ciao!

Jack Of All Trades

Busy Boy

A hairdresser with no comb or scissors.
A handyman with no hammer or screws.
A cleaner with no vinegar or bleach.
An athlete with no Nike or Adidas.
A mountaineer with no axe or ropes.
A player with no bat or gloves.
A businessman with no customer or commodities.
A collector with no stamps or coin.
A builder with no tower or skyscrapers.
A writer with no paper or pens.
A musician with no guitar or drums.
A magician with no rabbit or doves.
A teacher with no board or books.
A doctor with no needle or pills.
A lover with no card or chocolates.
A two year old,  jack of all trades but master of none.

Shall We Meet?

She was there; I felt the warmth of her existence. And I wanted it to be permanent. My spirits uplifted.

I was floating; I heard the music in her voice. And I wanted it to be perpetual. My heart longed.

She was hiding; I sensed the truth of her entity. And I wanted it to be real. My search deepened.

I was anxious; I dialed the number of her cell. And I wanted it to be correct. My call dropped.

She was reachable; I tried the connection again. And I wanted it to be good. My line connected.

I was happy; I asked the question, “Shall we meet?” And I wanted it to be “Yes”.  My plea granted.

She was coming; I recited the prayers from my heart. And I wanted it to be honest. My wait ended.

I was calm; I checked the sanctum of my body. And I wanted it to be special. My environ lighted.

She was here; I watched the grace of her presence. And I wanted it to enwrap me. My gaze fixed.

I was still. I joined the hands in worship. And I wanted it to be everlasting. My breath stabilized.

She was hugging. I quivered at the touch of Divinity. And then there was nothing. The self liberated.

Finding My Perfect Teacher

During one of our numerous conversation, my aunt casually mentioned the importance of being a life long learner. She stressed that learning is the essence of life and it should continue and grow with age. And then very smoothly she seeded quiet a novel idea in my brain, she said, “Who could be a better teacher than our own kids?” Although it sounded profound, I didn’t quite agree with her. I kept wondering  “What can a kid teach me?” Later on, after a closer review and some minute observations the truth revealed. I have to confess that kids do model some practical wisdom that are broadly described in our scriptures. Most of the times we tend to overlook them because our ‘ego’ stops us from accepting our kids as our perfect teacher; and that we can learn a lot from them even if they are just two years old.

“While we try to teach our children all about life,
Our children teach us what is life all about.”

~Angela Schwindt

“He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever”
~Chinese Proverb

We wake up with Saavi asking his favorite question, “What is it??? And we sleep hearing the same voice asking What is it???” It doesn’t matter if the question is for a person or a thing; the question remains the same. Quiet frequently, our friends have been welcomed into our home by Saavi, pointing a finger at them and inquiring in his sweet voice “Yeh Kya hai?” [What is it?] Usually, we oblige him with a right answer patiently accompanied by a smile but at times situations are embarrassing and therefore it is mixed with a hint of frustration. Our rudeness doesn’t hurt him and it does not stop him from asking. He diligently continues doing it. He doesn’t care what others’ think about him or about his parents. He just keeps moving towards learning a few new things daily.

“The height of cleverness is being able to conceal it.”
~François de La Rochefoucauld

What was the result of those never-ending “What is its’?” The other day, I found out that it was not mindless questioning. He was actually learning by asking. I wanted to break the monotony of perpetual answering, so I decided to do a role reversal. This time I asked him his favorite question.

I pointed  towards the Pressure cooker and  asked, “What is it?” What happened next came as a surprise to me. He made some faces and then answered,  “Presssssse Cuckcoo.” That was amazing, I was not able to control my laughter to see the way he contorted his lips to pronounce the word pressure cooker. It was hard for him but he was able to give me an appropriate answer and it was surely commendable.

Then I realized that if I hadn’t asked him the question, he would not have come to me and told me, “the stuff you use on the stove to cook lentils is called a Pressure Cooker.”  He would have kept his knowledge to himself and wouldn’t have used it to impress others. Since then, I have been discovering that he knows a lot of things but he doesn’t tell me until asked.

“A little more persistence, a little more effort, and what seemed hopeless failure may turn to glorious success.”

~Elbert Hubbard

Saavi loves to drink milk. He keeps asking for it all the time, “Duuduuuuuuuu, duuduuuuuuu, duuduuuuuuuuuuuu ….” and he tries harder and harder until he has his bottle in his hands. At times his repetition becomes difficult for the adult in-charge. He is so persistent about having his bottle of milk with him all the time that his Spanish-speaking teacher also knows what “Duuduu” stands for. He would convey his desires so many times that one succumbs to it. The good thing is that he happily keeps trying, without getting frustrated or cranky, till the point he is successful in achieving his goal. His tenacity  and determination showed me way to handle my life well. He has also taught me to be consistent in my own efforts.

There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.”

~ Bryant H. McGill

Last weekend, I was enjoying fish and wine with my husband when Sid, Saavi’s elder brother came and asked if he can watch another movie. Two movies at a stretch was not acceptable to me. My sudden reaction was to yell a “NOOOO” at Sid. It was a loud outburst that scared everyone, even I was shocked by the pitch of my voice. I glared at Sid and tears flowed out of his wet eyes. He left the room, I got sad. I got sadder when I turned and looked at Saavi. This two-year old, who loves me so much was appalled by my actions. He stopped eating his snack and turned his head in the other direction and looked away from me. I tried to hug him to bring him back to normal, but he just hushed me away. Without even saying a word he expressed his annoyance, “Mom, that was not fair.”

I realized my mistake and was ashamed of myself.

Instantaneously, I went to Sid’s room to talk to him, explain him and to ask him to pardon his mother. He hugged me tightly and sobbed in my arms. I quietly lay down beside him. After about two minutes, Saavi came to us and he was smiling. He happily climbed on us and once again we all were in a playful mood. At that moment, I understood the real meaning of the famous quote by Gandhiji; “Hate the sin, love the sinner.”

“The love we give away is the only love we keep.”

~ Elbert Hubbard

Our kids can teach us many thing but best of them all is that they teach us to LOVE without boundaries.

It was turning dark, Saavi heard the garage door open. He knew that his Dad is home. He happily runs to him shouting, “Papaaaaaaaaaaaa …” He welcomes him with smiles and hugs to his trousers or jeans, or whatever he is wearing at that time. For him, it doesn’t matter how long he had been waiting for him or how late his Dad had been today; it’s more important that his Dad is with him now. He doesn’t complain about what had already happened. He lives in the present and is just happy to see him and have him by his side. Although, he doesn’t utter a word, he takes all the measures to make sure that his Dad knows that Saavi loves him; he stands by him, climbs on him, holds his hand, help him change and then shares his snack with him. When they look in each others eyes and smile then Saavi knows that his Dad is also happy to be with him.

Little probing will show us the things that we can learn from our own kids.


It is the tool that will help us in our deep search.