Ambal’s Blog – Start Here

Grandpa’s (also referred to as Thatha) stories and teachings:

On Unchaining Yourself and Breaking Free

On Giving your Word

Somebody’s Fruit

The Mindset to Enjoy the Little Things in Life

Seat of Speculation

Remembering Chandra Patti

How would You React to the Wrong Order Delivered?

Culture. Traditions. Immersion. New Beginnings.

On Finding Peace and Strength

On Death & Survival

The VibHuti – The story behind the white streak on my forehead

Live Near a Place of Worship

My Most Memorable Childhood Experiences are with Thatha

The Starfish Story

Writing:

When I Write

Why do you Write? Part 1 – Paying it Forward

Why do you Write? Part 2 – Finding Meaning

Writing is very Lonely Work

Writing to Heal and Open Up

To risk making a fool of yourself

What can you learn from some of the best writers in history?

Rainbow Stories:

Rainbow Days – On Waiting

Rainbow Days – Meeting the Vet

Rainbow Days – The Dog Ate My Homework

Rainbow Days – Who is walking Who?

Rainbow Days – The Dog Whisperer

Rainbow Days – Smile All Day

Rainbow Days –Unconditional Love

Rainbow Days – A Man is a Dog’s Best Friend?

Rainbow Days – Falling off the Morning Routine Bandwagon

Wonder:

On Flying

Today, I let Wonder Win

Symmetry in Nature – What a Wonder?

Life through a 8 year old’s eyes

The UnReality of Reality – Fascinating Digital Images

Wildy Chasing Wildflowers in Texas Hill Country

Keep Looking for What doesn’t Meet the Eye

Poems:

5 LIFE Changing Poems YOU Should Read

Let me Lead a Purposeful Life

Remember to Forget

Desiderata – Desired Things

Your children are Not Your Children

Dear Human: You’ve got it all Wrong

Yours is the Earth and Everything That’s in It

A time to be born, and a time to die

On Vanity of Human Toil

Time & Moments:

On Time

On Waiting

Embrace‬ ‪the‬ ‪Metaphysical‬

Look at the Sun Rays

All Kind of Miracles Happen. Don’t they?

Experience Moments, One by One

Warm water of the Atlantic Ocean. Met my feet.

The Mindset to Enjoy the Little Things in Life

I would have bet Bolt hands down!

On What you are seeking and How it is seeking you

Thoughts of a Weary Traveler

On Moments that become Meaningless

Right place at the Right time with the Right person

Nostalgia Reminds us that some Beautiful Moments are Past Us

Moments eventually come to an End

Mad Rush through the Grocery Store Aisles

Life:

On Life

When all of Life seems Ablaze

Thoughts of a Weary Traveler

Life through a 8 year old’s eyes

Let me Lead a Purposeful Life

Summer Camp – How to Handle LIFE as it Happens

We are all creatures of our Life Experiences

First Anniversary Celebration of Life

Every Day Life is very Interesting

True Freedom in Life

On Running for the Hills

The Simple Pleasures of Life – Hot Chai

Friends make our Life’s one way Journey Extra Sweet

The Simple Pleasures of Life – Warm Sand

In reality, to live a happy life we need to know and practice very few skills

Isn’t Life about Second Chances?

On walking away from my Chariot

I would have bet Bolt hands down!

Right place at the Right time with the Right person

Happy Karthikai Deepam

Happy Karthigai Deepam!

Every Karthigai Deepam the person I miss the most is my mother-in-law Girija. She made the world’s best Adai and paniyaram to celebrate Karthigai Deepam.

The boy and I lit lamps around the house and made adai with lots of coconut pieces. It is my way of paying homage to my mother-in-law Girija.

karthigai-deepam-ambal-balakrishnan

 

Happy Krishna Jayanthi

Krishna Janmashtami, also known as Krishnashtami, Gokulashtami, Ashtami Rohini, Srikrishna Jayanti, Sree Jayanti or sometimes simply as Janmashtami, is an annual celebration of the birth of the Hindu deity Krishna.

In Tamil Nadu, women draw the footprints of Lord Krishna from the threshold of the house till the pooja room, which depicts the arrival of Lord Krishna into the house.

Given the maverik I am, I realized I don’t need to draw the footprints of Lord Krishna. I have two Lord Krishnas at home. I just need them to put their footprints on the threshold.

Aren’t traditions what we make out it?

M.S.’s beautiful rendering of Kurai Ondrum Illai is one of my favorite songs about Lord Krishna.

Happy Pongal

Thai Pongal is a Tamil harvest festival. Thai Pongal is a four day festival which according to the Gregorian calendar is normally celebrated from January 13 to January 16. The day marks the start of the sun’s six-month-long journey northwards (the Uttarayanam). This also corresponds to the Indic solstice when the sun purportedly enters the 10th house of the Indian zodiac Makara or Capricorn. Thai Pongal is mainly celebrated to convey appreciation to the Sun God for providing the energy for agriculture.

Thai Pongal - Ambal Balakrishnan - 1

Karthikai Deepam – Keeping Traditions Alive

Karthikai Deepam or Karthikai vilakkidu is a Hindu specially Tamils Festival of Lights. The festival is observed in most Hindu homes and every temple, and falls in the month of Kārttikai (mid-November to mid-December) as per Tamil calendar.

Today is Karthigi Deepam. It brings back many childhood memories.

My sister and I would eagerly wait for the sun to set. Then, we would wait for the lamp to be lit in one of those distant hill temples. As soon as we see the lamp lit, we would race with each other to light up the inside and outside of our house with little lamps (called agal vilaku in Tamil).

We had to keep the lamps filled with oil through out the evening. We also had to move the wick up every few hours.

Amma soaked rice the previous right. Appa and I would hand (dry) grind the rice. Amma didn’t like it to be too mushy or too coarse. Appa and I would take turns grinding it to perfection. Then we would add sugar and cardamom. Appa made mava vilaku and Amma would put ghee and a wick to light the lamp.

This was one of my favorite festivals.

I didn’t realize until much later in life that as I was lightning the lamps in my house in Chennai, there was a little boy named Kumar who was doing the same in Trichy, about 300 kilometers away. He was eagerly waiting for his to mom to make his favorite karthigi adai filled with coconut pieces. He couldn’t get enough of the sweet appams and salt appams that she made.

Fast forward a couple of decades.

I find myself doing the same for Adi and Ari. We are going to be lighting the lamps later today. I am making them sweet appams. I am getting ready to grind adai and throw in a lot of coconut pieces. I know the boys will gobble it all up.

Despite my lousy cooking skills, I know they’ll look back fondly at the sweet appams that their Amma made. I know they’ll light the lamps. I know they’ll try their best to keep traditions alive.

Holiday season is upon us. Keep those traditions alive. Whether it is the egg nog drinking or the pie eating contest. Whether it is the gathering around the piano to sing a few holiday songs or getting out in the cold and making a few snow angels. Light up that holiday tree and marvel at it like a little child.

Keep those traditions alive. Because, we live on for eternity through those traditions.