We are the RUSH Generation

We are the RUSH Generation.

Are we not?

The art of calling friends and family over festivals and happy occasions is lost.

We message. And, then we rush.

Check out this voicemail that I got from Suhasini Mami (Mami is a Tamil word that refers to an elderly woman) for Tamil New Year’s yesterday.

Even if you don’t understand a word of Tamil, you’ll understand and appreciate the good wishes that flow through in her voice.

Sadly, that generation is leaving us.

And, we are all in a rush.

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 spiritied American culuture 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.

Why do I like this Fatalistic song that spells Despair?

Since the family has been together most of the holidays, I have been playing all my favorite playlists for the boys to hear.

I have also been subjected to more than my fair share of “Dynamite” and “What does the Fox Say?”

Here is one of my favorite songs that the boys have been listening to – “Ennakavi Padinalum”.

Given my die-hard optimist heart, upbeat persona and “the glass is always full” (half water + half air, right!) nature you might be very surprised that I like a fatalistic song like “Ennakavi Padinalum” that spells despair.

But, what is not to like about this masterpiece (said to be originally written by Annaiyampatti Adisesha Iyer a century ago).

Here are the reasons that is song is on my favorite list:

  1. I grew up with Daddy singing Murugan songs at all times. So, the song fits right into the “Murugan” portfolio that my brain might be hard wired to like. 
  1. The creative and innovative renderings by different artists over the years leave me spellbound every time that I listen to these songs.    
    Aditya Rao’s rendering
    Aruna Sairam’s rendering
    Madurai Somu’s rendering
  1. In Fall 2012, a young looking 70 year old walked into my living room for Golu and captured my heart and soul with his rendering of the song. Tears rolled down my eyes as I video-taped his calling out to Murugan. My friend Sarvanan’s dad Murugiah’s rendering. (please bear with the kids noise in the background)
  1. Another name for Murugan is Kumar. Like the Kumar that I have at home. “enna kavi padinalum undan ullam irangavillai” means (in the in-house Kumar context…not the Lord Murugan context) “Whatever I ask or tell you Kumar, you don’t seem to get it. Do you?!” 

In case you are wondering what the picture has to do with “Ennakavi padinalum”, here is the back story.

This summer, during our India trip, I took the boys to many temples. One of them is featured in the picture. You can see Ari, Adi and Daddy walking into the temple. The temple is Kumaran Kundram at Chromepet (where I grew up for the first 18 years of my life) in Chennai, India. Kumaran Kundram happens to be a Murugan temple that played non-stop Murugan songs over the temple loud speakers.

Life comes a full circle. Does it not?

Now, onto turning over the speakers to the boys to be subjected to  “Dynamite” and “What does the Fox Say?”

Those two songs have have grown on me thanks to the boys.

Remember to Forget

“To be able to forget means sanity.”
Jack London, The Star Rover

Have you ever found yourself at a point where you have to remind yourself to forget and let go?

I have had a rough month.  I have to know how to find the calm in the storm. I typically turn to books and poetry to find sanity.

Poet Kannadasan is one of my favorites

The speciality of Kannadasan lies in his simplicity for the choice of words. His words capture the insights and the understanding he had about life. Many a times, it seems to me, that he wrote the poem because he knows me. He knows my exact challenges.

That is exactly how all his fans feel. Isn’t that a great wonder? To connect with somebody through one’s words.

Here is part of the poem transliterated in English:

Irandu Manam Vaendum, Iraivanidam Ketten
Ninaithu Vaada Ondru, Marandu Vaazha Ondru.

Iravum Pagalum Irandanaal, Inbam Thunbam Irandanaal
Uravum Pirivum Irandanaal, Ulam Ondru Pothathey

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

இரண்டு மனம் வேண்டும் இறைவனிடம் கேட்பேன்
நினைத்து வாட ஒன்று மறந்து வாழ ஒன்று
இரண்டு மனம் வேண்டும் இறைவனிடம் கேட்பேன்
நினைத்து வாட ஒன்று மறந்து வாழ ஒன்று

I need 2 hearts
I have asked God
One heart to remember and be sad
Another heart to forget and live on
இரவும் பகலும் இரண்டானால்
இன்பம் துன்பம் இரண்டானால்

உறவும் பிரிவும் இரண்டானால்
உள்ளம் ஒன்று போதாதே
If day and night are 2 different things,
If happiness and sadness are 2 different things,
If togetherness and separation are 2 different things,
Then, 1 heart is not enough

Love and Peace.

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.