I am just surprised with you, Oh Life!

Hindi Lyrics:
Tujhse Naaraaz Nahiin Zindagi
Hairaan Hoon Main O Hairaan Huun Main

English Translation:
I am not unhappy (or angry or upset) with you, Oh Life.
I am just surprised (or astonished) with you, Oh Life.

Poet Gulzar’s “Tujhse Naraz Nahi Zindagi” lyrics are philosophical, delicately capture the complexity of life and tug at your heart.
As I find myself at crossroads and at bridges that need to crossed, I find solace and strength in Gulzar’s words.

I hope you hear it too and find solace and strength to work through the current phase of your life.

 

On a Dog’s Life

Cambridge Dictionary: a dog’s life: a very unhappy and unpleasant life

No meetings. No deadlines.
No cooking. No carpool duty.
No worries about the past.
No plans for the future.
Not a care in the world.
Just NOW.
In the moment.

When Rainbow feels like it, she basks in the warm sun.

We got it all wrong. Perhaps is time to update the dictionary.
A well cared for dog’s life: a very happy and pleasant life

On the Spice of Life – The Story of Paruppu Podi Present

{Paruppu podi, paruppu means dhal and podi means powder in Tamil. It is also called Spiced Dhal Powder.}

I would drive home from work after a long day and start cooking. Since I didn’t want the boys to feel the void, I would go the extra mile. I would lay out an elaborate spread on the dining table.

They would show up at the table day after day and asked one question – “Where is the paruppu podi?

I seethed inside….but, would just smile, walk over to the pantry and bring out the paruppu podi box.

How could I blame the boys for looking past my elaborate spread?

They had grown up with both sets of grandparents pampering them in every away possible… including food.Before the grandparents returned to India after their frequent trips to the US, they would have made tons of paruppu podi and store them in the pantry. It was what you call “risk management” or “contingency plan” or “Plan B”. You get that, right? To save the boys from my “cooking” and ensure they are fed well….at least with paruppu podi.

So, that is what happened for over a decade.
Grandparents arrive.
Grandparents pamper.
Grandparents feed.
Grandparents make tons of paruppu podi and store them in the pantry.
Grandparents return.

I go to work.
Come back.
Cook.
Serve.
And the boys didn’t give a rat’s a** about my serving.
They wanted the freakin’ paruppu podi that their grandparents had made.

I was narrating this story to my neighbor Gita.

Guess what happened a week later?

When Gita’s mom came to visit Austin, she brought over a box of yummy paruppu podi for the boys.

I am so thankful for the bonds that bind us together…..because, such is the spice of life.

On the Spice of Life – The Story of Paruppu Podi Past

{Paruppu podi, paruppu means dhal and podi means powder in Tamil. It is also called Spiced Dhal Powder.}

Amma grew up near border of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. So, she spoke both Tamil and Telugu fluently. We celebrated festivals of both states. Her cooking also had influences of both states. I grow up hearing about gongura pacchadi and pulusu that Amma had grown up with.

From my childhood, I ate paruppu podi. Thatha, Appa and Amma would make it together. It used to be Appa’s job to buy the different ingredients (red chilli, black pepper, different types of lentils etc) . Thatha cleaned and sun dried the ingredients. Amma fried the ingredients to perfection. Appa helped Amma run each of the ingredients through the dry mixer/grinder. He would keep asking “Pothumadi?” (Which literally meant “Is this enough?”) Amma would inspect inside the dry mixer/grinder and based on how coarse or fine that mixture had been ground too…. she would ask Appa to either continue or stop.

When I was very young, it was Thatha’s duty to run the powder through the sieve and place the sieved paruppu podi in a dry container.

As years passed, and I grew up, I noticed that Amma would sneer at Thatha for sneezing when he did the sieving. Appa wouldn’t sneer at Thatha…but his body language told me that he didn’t approve of Thatha’s spilling even a bit of the precious paruppu podi when the transfer happened to the dry container.

To prevent Thatha from sneezing and getting sneered at, I volunteered to do the sieving and storing job. This wasn’t an easy job. As I sieved the powder, I would feel the urge to sneeze. But, Thatha (when Amma’s back was behind him), would shake his head vigorously. All that vigorous head shake meant was “Don’t sneeze. You are going to get in trouble with her.” I mastered the skill, over the years, to hold the sieve further away from my body (and nose) and complete the sieving without a single sneeze. When I was nearly done sieving without a single sneeze, Thatha would look at me very approvingly and give me a thumbs up.

Then, I had to carefully, transfer the paruppu podi to a dry container without dropping even a bit. I realised very early on that this was an impossible task. So, I decided to learn from the best. I followed Appa’s example. I first did the sieveing and ensured that the sieved powder feel on a large sheet of paper. Then, after the sieving was done, I held up the paper and dropped the paruppu podi carefully into a dry container as Appa looked on approvingly.

I grew up during rather simple times. Nobody praised me openly. Nobody said “Great job!”

Appa and Thatha’s approving looks and thumbs up was all I got. Well, that, and lack of Amma’s sneers. That was a high enough bar to live up to.

For many months the family would enjoy the paruppu podi mixed with hot rice and ghee (clarified butter) or sesame oil.

On Work Life Blend

We all seek to find balance amongst our various responsibilities.
It is easier said than done.

My colleague Anne and I caught up after work hours on Monday. Anne thanked me for always being available to her. I told her this – “Anne, Yep! I am always available to you. Because, you are one of my favorite girls. Moreover, over the years, I have learnt there is no such thing as work life balance for me. There is ONLY work life blend.” Anne agreed with me and appreciated my observation.

I have all kinds of asks of myself and my life. For example, I don’t believe in not showing up to one the boys concert during work hours. I also don’t believe in not working after I get back home because there should be supposedly be clear boundaries between work and life.

Given the contradictory asks that I have of myself and my life, I do what works for me.
I huddle with my colleagues both during and after work hours to make progress on projects.
I start meetings early or leave late during weekdays…whatever works on that day.
I gain permission (by building trust) to reach colleagues when I have to.
I give colleagues permission to call me when they have to.
I routinely pour over work stuff during the weekends.
I want my boss and colleagues to know that I will always rock heaven, deep earth and everything in between to keep moving the ball forward on all my projects…no matter what the odds.

I also show up to most of the boys events….even if it means showing up a few minutes late.
The boys are elated to see me when I rush in to a performance hall or tournament and wave my hand crazily at them.
I want them to know that they are very important to me…and I will always show up to cheer and support them…no matter what the odds.

In my current state of life, given my varying responsibilities, there can’t be clear boundaries between work and life. If I want to be able to be a parent and an employee, I can’t balance…I need to blend.

Think about it. What works for you?

Whether it is work life balance or work life blend…you do what is right for YOU.
It will all work (pun intended) out eventually!