Togetherness in the Face of Adversity – Break due to the Brake

We made the mandatory annual summer trip to Yosemite.

Togetherness in the Face of Adversity - Break due to the Brake - 2 - Ambal Balakrishnan

 

It was extra special because the boys’ aunt Rema  (Kumar’s cousin) joined us. It was also the very first Yosemite trip for Rainbow and the very first time Ari hiked up to Vernal. The day was gorgeous. We had loads of fun.

Togetherness in the Face of Adversity - Break due to the Brake - 1 - Ambal Balakrishnan

On the way back from Yosemite, we drove back through a two lane highway that brings us down rapidly from 5000 feet to 0 feet. A car had fallen off one of the cliffs and the highway patrol started redirecting traffic to a lesser used and much  steeper detour path. We started taking the detour path and came down to a T-intersection.

Many people started waving at us. I yelled to Kumar to stop the van. We got out of the van and realized that our break pads were burning and letting out smoke (smelled yuck!). Same thing had happened to many other cars. We stopped and waited for the break pads to cool down.

Meanwhile, I went around and chatted with folks from El Salvador, Chicago, New York, Sacramento, Korea, China and of course the Bay Area.

And, guess what?! Everybody even humored me with some fun group pictures. Can you hear us yelling “brakes” in the pictures?

After 45 minutes or so, we tested our brakes and it worked. Unfortunately, some of my new found buddies brakes failed and they had to call a towing company. The family and I waved good bye, said a few of our favorite prayers and started driving again.

Can you spot the guy in the glasses and the orange color t-shirt? I thanked him and his family. He is the reason that I am alive to tell this story.

Please use low gear when driving on steep roads.

What is your behind the Wheel Story?

I am Adi’s personalized chauffeur.

What is your behind the Wheel Story - Ambal Balakrishnan

Dropping.
Waiting.
Pickup.
Conversing in the car.
Playing his favorite songs on the car stereo.
Taking him to the park.
Taking him to play dates.
Taking him to parties.
Taking him to classes.
Briefing him.
Debriefing with him.
All in the car.

If my Toyota Sienna had to tell its story, I am sure it will be an interesting and fun one….and a very long story.

What is your behind the wheel story?

Adi’s Birth Story

4 days had passed since he was born.

Kumar, Grandpa and I rushed to the hospital for the first week doctor check up.
We were running late….with a wailing baby in the car seat. Kumar pulled through to the clinic’s driveway to drop me off. I jumped off the car and rushed to the front desk.

The receptionist asked me “Who is the appointment for?”.

I responded “I have an 8.30am appointment for my son. His last name is spelt – K – U – M – A – R”.

As I said it, I realized it was the very first time I had said “MY SON”. Suddenly there was a new relationship with a new person. That new person…that was my son. MY SON. As, I said it, my heart became stronger and weaker all at once.

The last few years have been a wild ride with the boy who holds my heart strings in his hands.

Today, he is 11.

10 years ago he was 1. And, we were “one”.

He has a mind of his “own” now.
He and I don’t see eye-2-eye anymore.
He and I blow smoke off our shotguns every day.

Despite the “differences” his adolescence brings, we are still tied together at the hip. And, I hope that togetherness will last a lifetime.

Whether you are near or far, thank you for being in Adi’s life. Thank you for coaching him, sharing a laugh with him and wishing him well. Thank you for guiding me with your parenting tips.

Thank you for saying “Ambal, it is such a short time. Come on, hold it together, will you?”

2 Jasmine Flowers from My Backyard

I had some of the best middle school English teachers. They didn’t just teach me. They imparted love for the language and poetry. I also grew up with a great love for Tamil poetry.

I plucked these 2 fragrant jasmine flowers from the backyard. These flowers remind me of a beautiful poem from Poet Valli.

Here is part of the poem transliterated in English:

Kadavul thandha iru malargal kanmalarndha pon malargal
Onru paavai koondhalilae onru paadhai oaraththilae

Alaiyil midhandha malar kandu adhanmael karunai manam kondu
Thalaiyil iraivan soodikkondaan thaanae adhanai saerththukkondaan
Kuzhalil soodiya oru malarum koayil saerndha oru malarum
Irandum vaazhvil perumai perum idhayam engum amaidhi perum

Here is part of the poem in Tamil with English translation:

கடவுள் தந்த இரு மலர்கள் கண் மலர்ந்த பொண் மலர்கள்
ஒன்று பாவை கூந்தலிலே ஒன்று பாதை ஓரத்திலே
Two precious flowers given by God;
One fortunate enough to adorn a charming girl while other floated by placid water.
அலையில் மிதந்த மலர் கண்டு அதன்மேல் கருனை மனம் கொண்டு
தலையில் இறைவன் சூடிக்கொண்டான் தானே அதனை சேர்த்துக்கொண்டான்
Seeing the plight of the floating flower, the Creator with grace adorned Himself with that.
குழலில் சூடிய ஒரு மலரும் கோயில் சேர்ந்த ஒரு மலரும்
இரண்டும் வாழ்வில் பெருமை பெறும் இதயம் எங்கும் அமைதி பெறும்
Both the flowers get their glory by adorning;
So will the heart get filled with peace (for everyone)

English Translation was provided by my friend Daisy whose love for Tamil exceeds mine by many fold.

Desiderata – Desired Things

Perhaps it was because of the cold weather.
Perhaps it was because of too many “issues” plaguing my mind.
Perhaps because it is almost end of the year and I am reflecting on life with all it beautiful and sad moments.

Dylan (Adi’s piano teacher and a good friend of mine) and I were having a chat yesterday evening and somewhere along way the I said “Dylan, You know me. I am a die hard optimist. I believe the glass is always half full. I believe in goodness. I hate to say this. But, somehow I am beginning to think the good times are behind us. The goodness we saw as we were growing up is all past us. The simple times are gone…..”

Dylan couldn’t wait to cut me off. He probably couldn’t bear to see his optimistic friend in melancholia.

He read Desiderata out to me. “Desiderata” (Latin: “desired things”) is a 1927 prose poem by American writer Max Ehrmann.

Desiderata - Desired Things - Ambal Balakrishnan

As he started reading the poem, I felt this huge lump in my throat. As he continued reading the poem, my spirit soared.

I hope this poem lifts your spirit as much as it did mine.

Read this poem to yourself. Aloud. With passion and energy.
Read the poem to your near and dear ones.

Feel good about yourself and everything that surrounds you.
There is goodness. All around us.
We live in the best of times.
We are meant to be.
We are where we are needed the most.
Life is beautiful. In all its glory.

Thank you Dylan.