Culture. Traditions. Immersion. New Beginnings.

In early August 2014, as we drove past the familiar roads in the Bay Area and headed towards I-10E for our 1800 miles journey to Austin, I knew I was leaving so much greatness.

I was worried whether I was going to be denying my boys the rich Tamil tradition (along with the entrepreurial and free-spirited Californian vibes) that they could grow up with in the Bay Area.

Culture. Traditions. Immersion. Would I deny them all that?
Those thoughts and more had plagued my analytical mind.

I had tried to sort the pros and cons into neatly organized excel sheets, lists and mind maps. But, how can these tools capture the sheer beauty of our lives and the big choices we have to make?

Anyways, fast forward. It has been over a year and half since we moved to Austin. I have fallen in love with Austin and everything it has to offer.

Yesterday evening, I walked into Austin Tamizh Sangam’s Pongal Program. My mind was envisioning all the Bay Area Friends. All the friendly hellos that would great me as I walked into any Bay Area event. All the bear hugs. All the pats on the back. The “where have you been?” questions.

I tried to quiet my brain down and center myself by sayind “Now. Be in the NOW!”

I stepped into the auditorium murmuring to myself “new beginnings”.

The program was filled with many Tamil songs and dances. The auditorium was filled with the same enthusiasm and same fun that I have seen in the Bay Area.

After a few hours, the show was wrapping up and I was starting to pack up my camera gear.

That is when pure magic unfolded.

A dance troupe from San Antonio performed pulli attam, poi kal kuthiri, karakatam, mayil attam etc.

Side note: Although I grow up in a city like Chennai for the first 18 years of my life, thanks to my mom’s and grandpa’s ties with their hometown village, I grow to admire and hold with great awe the performers of these dying art forms.

As the dance troupe started performing, I hurriedly unpacked my gear and started shooting a video of the magic that the San Antonio dance troupe created on stage.

My doubts about how the boys being exposed to rich Indian culture as they explore the free spirited American culture have been wiped out as of yesterday evening.

My heart brimmed as I saw Ari stay glued to the edge of the stage and watch the final show with big wide eyes. I put my hand on my heart and said what Amir Khan trained us to do in the 3 Idiots movie.

All is well. All is well.

The boys and I have a place to thrive in Austin. I’ll continue to miss Bay Area friends. That said, we have found a new home. A place where the boys and I will thrive.

Simple Kolam to grace the Household that I grew up in

Adi is having way too much during his India trip. He has been immersing himself in the rich Indian culture that I grew up in.

Kolam is a form of drawing that is drawn by using rice flour/chalk/chalk in South India. powder/white rock powder often using naturally/synthetically colored powders. Kolams are thought to bring prosperity to homes. Decoration is not the main purpose of a Kolam. In olden days, kolams were drawn in coarse rice flour, so the ants would not have to walk too far or too long for a meal. The rice powder also invited birds and other small creatures to eat it, thus welcoming other beings into one’s home and everyday life: a daily tribute to harmonious co-existence. It is a sign of invitation to welcome all into the home, not the least of whom is Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity and wealth. The patterns range between geometric and mathematical line drawings around a matrix of dots to free form art work and closed shapes. Folklore has evolved to mandate that the lines must be completed so as to symbolically prevent evil spirits from entering the inside of the shapes, and thus are they prevented from entering the inside of the home.  Source: Kolam

The day has finally come for Adi’s simple kolam to grace the household that I grew up in.  The kola dabba(box) is several decades years old and has been touched and used by several generations of people within the family.

Typically, the women in the family draw the kolam in the early mornings. However, Adi is an explorer. To him, the kolam is a piece of art. It didn’t matter who the artist was.

This generation is defying every boundary that we grow up with – racial and gender walls are being broken down. Are they not?