Ambal’s Work Life

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A time to be born, and a time to die

As always, I was doing my nightly reading late yesterday night and came across this beauty from the Book of Ecclesiastes:

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
A time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
A time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
A time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.

Read VANITY OF HUMAN TOIL from the Book of Ecclesiastes here and read my thoughts on time here.

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On Giving your Word

“theerththak karaiyinilae therku moolaiyil shenbagath thoattaththilae
paarththirundhaal varuvaen vennilaavilae paanigiyoadenru sonnaay
vaarththai thavarivittaay adi kannammaa maarbu thudikkudhadi
paarththa idaththilellaam unnaip poalavae paavai theriyudhadi”
– Poet Bharathiyar

Grandpa TVS told me that my word is my bond.

Not a bond paper.
Not a signature.
Not a legal document.

My word.
That is my bond.

When I say I will try my best, I do try my best.
When I say I’ll show up at your door step, I do show up.

If I have no intention of doing it, then I never make that promise in the first place. On the rare occasion, when I have to find myself in a situation where I have to go back on a promise because of a conflicting situation, I call the party involved and apologize.

But, in this day and age, a word in not a bond.
Alas….words are often said….to just be said…not with the intention of keeping it.

So, your word…is that your bond?

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On walking away from my Chariot

I don’t attach any value to material things.
So, I was completely shocked at myself today evening.

Despite our crazy evening schedule today, he didn’t rush me.

I lingered in the front and back.
I walked around.
I got in.
I ran my cold hand through the steering wheel.
I was shocked as the tears started dripping down my cheeks.

Kumar, the gentleman he always is, waited, patiently, a few hundred feet away.

How do you walk away from a decade?

How do you?

We had picked up the 8 year old minivan almost a decade ago when we were expecting Arya.

Since that moment…

Pickups.
Drop offs.
Trips.
Adventures.
Carpools.
Camping.

The list is endless.

During one of our mountain climbing trips to Yosemite, Kumar and I had parked the minivan in Tulume Meadows and slept the night in the back row… so, we could get a headstart on the long trail that lay ahead of us.

I forget the count of family members and friends who have ridden in the minivan over the years.

We have used the minivan to help friends move so many times.

My mom and Kumar’s mom have ridden in the minivan and felt proud with how their 5 foot daughter navigated the beast of a machine tactfully and speedily through traffic.

After long awaited dinner dates, many friends have sat in the passenger seat beside me after dinner… chatting away in the wee hours of the night in a well lit parking lot… catching up…. crying on my shoulder or letting me cry on their shoulder…not saying a word but just holding each other to cope with a lose…or laughing non stop about old times. All that drama in the minivan.

So much eating… laughter..singing… and partying in the minivan.

This is the minivan into which I packed bare essentials, the boys and the dog and drove 1800 miles with Kumar from CA to TX to start our life over.

So many accidents in the front, side or rear. And, I have survived those accidents and lived to tell the story.

How do you walk away from a decade?

That is why I felt compelled to linger and say goodbye…. as if the goodbye was to a very dear friend that I’ll never meet again.

Later in the night, as we were driving back home, I questioned myself. Was I cheating myself with some fake detachment mentality? If I was truly detached from material things as I think I am… why did I have such a difficult time walking away from a giant piece of metal with great horsepower.

I kept mulling.

And, finally, the answer came to me.

I am not attached to the mechanical marvel that was my chariot and served the family so well in the last decade.

I am attached to the memories of a lifetime that were made in and through the minivan.

And, I am ok with that. I should be. Should I not?

I am not a saint to detach from memories. Wouldn’t that make me inhuman? For better or worse, I have to live through this human avatar during this lifetime… so, might as well hold on and cherish the memories.

Hence, the fond goodbye to a fond friend.

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Post Thanksgiving Thanks

Thanksgiving break week started off very rough.

I thank you all for sending your positives vibes to Ari (who was sick and in the ER last week) and the family.I do believe those positive vibes work. Because, thanks to all the positive vibes, our week did progress well and we spent the last few days surrounded by the warmth and cheer of friends and family.

Despite my ever present restraint in indulging with food, I ate more than I should have….but, that is only because the food was served with so much heartfelt love and so much care. My SIL Rema’s mango-fruit based dessert, my new friend Uma’s elaborate spread of vegetable curries, and aloo paratha, my girlfriend Sukanya’s bhel and vadai (which reminded my so much of Mommy’s vadai) and filter coffee, my enthu friend CK’s pulav, my buddy Vijaya’s sweet potato casserole (which is queen-of-all-cooks Jyotsna’s and her daughter Ashlesha tried and tested recipe; thanks to Kaushik for baking the casserole in Rohit’s oven), my neighbor Rohit’s besan laddoos and more.

Now, as if all that was not a big enough list to be grateful for…just as I was getting ready to call his weekend a wrap, our next door neighbor’s 10 year old nephew (visiting from New Jersey) who became buddies with the boys….brought over some fresh guacamole that he had made. (side note: He had left the huge avacado seed in the guacamole and when I asked him why….he quipped that it was to prevent the guacamole from browning too quickly. I am just so impressed with kids…they know so much….stuff that I don’t know!)

If you think I ate so much that my stomach hurt…that is quite not right. Because, my stomach hurt more from the non-stop laughter.

I am so grateful for this break and all the folks who made it the most memorable Thanksgiving ever (I know….I know…I say that ever year. But, truly, it was memorable).

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving too.

Now, the race to the end of 2017. Just few more weeks….and than we can all take a break during the holidays. Hang in there.

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Somebody’s Fruit

When I was in middle school, I had the most fun and passionate English Teachers who taught poetry and prose. One of those poems was this: Somebody’s Mother

Speaking of mothers, Mommy told me a lot of stories of her childhood. One of them was about the fruit trees in her father’s (Grandpa TVS) fields. She described the low hanging mangoes and how she would lie down under the shaded trees and eat them. She also described the giant grapefruits that were too sour for her to eat.

Because of her stories, although I grew up in the outskirts of the city (concrete jungle) with dwindling vegetation, I grew up with growing love for fields, villages, shaded and fruit bearing trees. I found the whole concept of lying beneath a low hanging mangoe tree very exotic.

As I grew up, over the last two decades, wherever I went, I left a trail of plants and trees. That is not to say I have a green thumb. Far from it. I am a plant killer. But, I kept trying my best. I learnt from the best and kept getting better. Given that frugual is part of my DNA, I never (over-)spent on plants. I borrowed a cutting or got a sapling from fellow plant lovers and planted fruit trees and roses. Plant lovers were more than happy to drop by and show me the ropes and in many cases, handle my SOS “Hey…..run over….plant is drying out, yellowing out, tilting over” calls. One of those friends was an elderly gentlemen named Al who helped me plant peaches, pears etc during my Fremont (CA) days. Al even helped Kumar put in a sprinler system and drip irrigation, so I didn’t have to water the plants every day during summer. During my CA days, when the fruit harvest came in during Spring and Summer, I shared the labor of love with friends and colleagues.

But, as my life course changed, I moved around, and many a times, I didn’t get to enjoy my labor of love. I didn’t get to see the plants that I set in the ground mature…and bear fruit.

Such is life…is it not?

That brings me to today’s story.

For the last few weeks, I have been plucking persimmons and distributing them. I didn’t plant the persimmon trees in the backyard. My friend Thane tells me that persimmon trees are like the Indian version of tulasi (holy basil)…considered very auspicious for a family. The Chinese family who lived in our place must have planted them in the ground with much love and nurtured them. But, before they could enjoy the labor of their love, they moved away.

Leaving me to pluck these persimmons and distribute them with much love.

These persimmons. Somebody’s fruit.

End Note:

I bet Mommy is proud that she left her legacy of love for plants with me.

Leave a legacy. Plant something.

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