Things we do…

The first photo is Z playing with the marble run… which was built by my helper, Roopa. Z had a long, mostly enjoyable time with her this afternoon as i was busy helping Raghu with his first time exploration of Magic School Bus cds on the computer. He had a great time doing insect match ups and traveling in the time-machine with Ms Frizzle.
The second is of Z, Arohee and Rushabh having a long playdough session.
The third is of Arohee and Zoya enjoying my bangles…. they mixed it all up and enjoyed piling it on.
The fourth is is of Raghu and Zoya enjoying a crazy long bath… filled with cornstarch-powder, avalakki (flattened rice), bath salts, toys etc. And Z actually was asking raghu to throw water all over her!

A tiny glimpse into our Abu dhabi trip

The photos posted here and below are from our recent trip to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Its the country closest to us here in Pune, India, that offers awesome beaches, tons of outdoor and indoor playgrounds, water activities, well-tended green spaces, etc. (things we don’t find here easily) We really wanted to manifest something along the lines of our NJ existence without having to go too far. And amazingly it all came together beautifully. I lived there from the age of 2.5 till 16 and then went back and forth for vacations. My parents just retired after living there for 33 years to Bangalore, India. I love Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Our cousins were such wonderful, generous hosts… our family and friends rock!

Zoya did tricks on the monkey-bars that she’s not had a chance to do here. She jumped right into a game with some 4-5 year old children who were sharing a game of Zingo. I watched how she managed to join in so seamlessly and sat and observed the game and took her cues from the children around her. She really surprised me that day. We were visiting friends whose home is in the midst of a most amazing community. Large green spaces, gated security, supermarkets, restaurants, school within bicycling distance, playgrounds, bbq pits, homes with gardens that face common areas, etc. just a lovely place to hang out with kids. Nice to give them the freedom to explore alone. so some of the photos are from there. Raghu loved hanging out with Neel and enjoyed playing his DS Nintendo with him. Another older friend of Neel’s seemed to really inspire Raghu to play war games around the playground. It was fun to watch.

The various kids we met, played with, stayed with were Kuhu, Shashank, Neel, Jai, Sumedh and Soumya (pre-teen actually 😉 Zoya and Raghu enjoyed the couple of times Ravi and I were both at the beach with them. The beautiful blue waters and clean beaches were an absolute delight. The weather was cool adn breezy. We got the last few days of winter weather.

Raghu enjoyed Sumedh’s company a lot and shared some wonderful firsts on the Wii, Ben10 games, Arcade games, indoor playgrounds etc. raghu loved the indoor climbing wall…. he was strapped into a harness and he went up like a cat! He enjoyed this the most he says. He scale the wall in no time and was quite adept at coming back down himself too. I hope to manifest something like this for him soon.

More on the trip as i get time…

Up late…

Z has a cold and needed lots of down time with me this evening. And R and R have gone to Bangalore for 2 nights… Big R for work and little R for some fun with Grampies and Aunt’n’uncles. So after Z finally slept around 11ish… i was wide awake.. sleep had passed me by.

I watched the final 3 episodes of Sex and the city. I remembered how much i used to enjoy this show… BC (before children) i.e. Anyway… it took me back in time… when Ravi and I would enjoy the show late into the night. We lived in Hackensack, NJ then. And i got my masters and worked in NYC. It was one heck of a glam city. My office then rented space in the very building that housed Playboy and Gucci. We basically had fashion in our face all the time.

Given that Raghu has recently started to style his hair and loves his lovely long locks (longer than his sister’s… she asked me to cut hers recently!)… i really enjoyed seeing all the different looks of Samantha, Carrie etc in SATC.
Raghu used the word ‘Style’ recently in reference to something i was wearing. He also asked several questions about why some folks grow their hair adn some dress up all the time and some pierce their ears and nose etc.. Lots of fashion, style questions. Z for the most part prefers to dress like her brother… and sometimes will ask for frocks adn high heels… mine of course. Lipstick and perfume are big for her these days. she is very keen on dupattas. Loves them… i have to cut some up in half so they don’t trail on the floor behind her. She wears them on all her outfits.. even if they are not indian outfits.

Z and I enjoyed our day despite her missing R and R a lot. She is so connected to her brother and father. She told me lots of little stories about her playdates, time with Ravi, some mixed with snippets from the “Snoopy come home” video that she was watching. She has become more aware of her body…. she knows she is taller too as she can reach the Door bell standing on her toes these days. She will be 3 in a week. Amazing how far she has come. When we got her from the orphanage, aged 9 months, she held/chewed her lower lip a lot … it was her thumb-sucking equivalent. And now she barely does it and is such a go getter…not shy at all. She is our laughing, tall, busy, talkative, cheery, tapping, expressive, loving baby. I love her so much.

The acceptance

As usual Scott Noelle has expressed succinctly what i would need 4 paragraphs to….

Today, try letting go of the idea that conditions
“should” be different than they are. Simply accept

“No problem… It is what it is.”

But don’t confuse acceptance with defeat. You can be
accepting and still desire change. And change happens
*easily* when you’re at peace with What Is.

Seems like being able to truly enjoy the moment has so many shades of meaning… i’m still discovering them. All my life i’ve been trained to think in terms of altering things to make myself happy. So looking at it as ‘we are where we need to be already” means i need new neural pathways to accept it completely 🙂 (Many thanks to Josha, Dayna, Scott and others who share their journeys.)

How Raghu SOARED………

My newly returned-to-india, youngest sister, Veena, Raghu, Zoya and I went camping at Kamshet… that lovely place I’ve posted photos about before. The garden we camped in is part of a largish house that is like a bed’n’breakfast. The BnB is used mainly by pilots training in the vicinity and for para-gliding folks. They have a team that conducts training courses or gives you tandem rides on request. So this is what transpired while we were there…. Written in Veena’s words….

“It started out of the blue. I didn’t expect to really paraglide, and even if we did, we would go together and figure it out, right? All four of us, with Mother Hema taking charge, taking care of us all. Needless to say, it didn’t happen that way! Zoya fell asleep just as the guy came down to announce that a paragliding team was leaving in 45 minutes. Raghu really wanted to go. I really wanted to go – but not alone, not without mother Hema.

“How many minutes left?” was the main topic of conversation for the next 45 minutes. I was praying for the tent to cave in so that Zoya would wake up and then we could all go paragliding – but it didn’t happen. At 3 o’clock, the guy said they’re ready to leave. Zoya was in Lalaland, with mother tied to her. Raghu nearly pulled my arm off my shoulder as he led the way up the stairs towards the exit. A bunch of guys hung around the exit, some smoking (no comment), all with enormous rucksacks and fancy gear. You know how you can always spot the aplha male in a troop of gorillas? Well, I spotted him – he took one look at us (woman with backpack holding hand of six-year-old boy, more for her comfort than his), and he said, “You know, we’re not getting back until 6pm at least. All these guys are training to be paragliders, so we’ll need time.” It was 3pm – A-ha! A ray of hope for me – maybe I didn’t have to shoulder the responsibility of taking my 6-year-old nephew paragliding after all! 3 hours to go paragliding was ridiculous, right Raghu? “No, that’s okay, let’s go.” Yikes, this kid was serious.

So of course Mother Hema just added some dried apricots, raisins, Masti buttermilk, energy bars, and water to my little backpack and with a non-chalant “Have fun!”, she headed for the hammock. The things I do for this girl, I tell you. What’s the big deal, I hear you say! I’d never been paragliding. I’d never seen paragliding being done, heck I didn’t even know what it meant, what it involved – and I hate free-fall – and I didn’t want to train to be a paraglider, I just wanted a ride, and I’m taking my nephew with me….Can you imagine the dialogue in my head as we climbed the steps to leave the building?

We stood outside a van, waiting for the guys to load it with the rucksacks. I needed a source of comfort. So, I looked at Raghu. He stood there holding my hand, watching this skinny, all-muscle, guy standing on top of the van, hauling up these gigantic rucksacks with the ease of picking daisies. Raghu watched, so I watched. We took guesses at what was in the rucksacks… the parachute? i suggested… but raghu said it looks heavy – maybe food. Why not? I’ll take my cues from him. I relaxed. The van was ready. We boarded. He climbed in on his own and on the advice of the alpha male, we took our seats in the corner, by the window, facing the back (I guessed we were in for a bumpy ride). We left with the alpha male in the front with the driver, and 5 guys with us at the back. I was glad to see one older white guy with a decent-sized belly – he must be a first-timer I thought…like us (I was wrong). The other older guy seemed like one of those healthy, fit, grandfathers. The other three were all skinny, all-muscle, younguns. The ride was terribly bumpy as we drove through winding fields and little villages for a good 30 minutes. Looking around in the van, I found boots on everybody’s feet, except Raghu’s and mine. I had on slip-ons and Raghu had crocs. I tried taking more cues from Raghu during the ride but he wouldn’t give me any. He sat there, silent and serious. I finally asked if he was nervous. “Nope, I like the paragliding part. I just don’t like the ride part”. I was brimming with confidence once again. That led to an increase in curiosity so I asked the big-bellied, white guy if he had come here before. “Oh, I’ve been coming here 6 years now – I learnt to paraglide here, am an expert now – love it.” Confound curiosity.

We reached a flattish ground, parked the van, and filed out. We were surrounded by farmland bordered by hills. Raghu held on to my hand tightly now – “We’re going to paraglide together, right abucha?” Right Raghu. A group of teenagers from the local village helped to carry the enormous rucksacks in return for some money. I explained this to Raghu when he asked what they were doing with “our” stuff. Mohit then came and introduced himself – the fit grandfather guy – and revealed that this was his second time and he was training to be a paraglider, etc… I thought Raghu was a little suspicious of him – just my guess cause he kept holding my hand tighter, pulling me slitghly away. Mohit was the kind soul who informed us of our next step – a 2km hike across the fields to those hills there, where you can see the parachutes. Indeed, you could see them – beautiful spots of orange and yellow against the distant brownish green hill. But my attention soon turned to the fields inbetween – typical adult reaction. Raghu of course simply focused on the colors and marched on ahead, pulling me behind him. That’s my cue! Mohit kept a kind eye on us as we trudged on, avoiding the sharp wheat stalks in holey crocs and slip-ons. Alpha-male and his troop of course were out of sight in no time. Raghu has great timing. Just as I felt my adult-ness take over, he exclaimed, “Look! It’s wheat, this is where my cereal comes from. Can you believe it? They just crush and make flour and cornflakes – like what I have at home!!” Even Mohit was hooked – “He’s six? He makes such connections? He’s amazing” “He’s my nephew” I replied. We spent the next 30 minutes focusing on the colorful spots and letting our legs do the work, distracted only occasionally by wheat, mud, snake holes, binoculars and windy paths. It was a hike – not easy in crocs – and Raghu was amazing. He just held my hand and took step after step, every few minutes reassuring me, “Look, we’re getting closer, we’re nearly there, just a little more to go, then we can paraglide together, look at the colors abucha, look!” I remembered the time when he didn’t like the feel of lawn grass on his feet! The best part was when he turned and said, “You know what? I’m not feeling tired, even if it’s sunny and hot. I’m not feeling exhausted. Can you believe it?”

“We did it abucha!” We plopped down in a shady spot under a tree, sitting on dried, cracked, mud, sticks, leaves, at the foot of a large hill… I asked if he wanted to eat anything (he hadn’t had much of a lunch), but this wise child just drank water and Masti – I bet he knew that paragliding should be done on an empty stomach. We relaxed and watched our surroundings – people strapped on to these enormous wing-like parachutes, running, taking off a few meters into the air and gliding over the ground. It looked interesting, fun, but hardly doable for us – those things are huge. Then Raghu spotted a tiny flying dot in the sky – high above the hill was a guy paragliding alone. “I don’t want to go up that high abucha. I want to paraglide with you, but not that high.” “No Raghu, neither do I.” Was anyone going to tell me what we were going to do? “Raghu, I’m going to find out what we’re doing next.” So I asked our bellied, white friend. “Well… it depends… are you training?” Training, he asked!! Perhaps it was the look on my face, for just then, one of the lean, muscle-fellows came over and said “You see that guy with the orange rucksack on that hill? see him climbing? You just have to follow that path about 400 meters uphill until that plateau there. You’re going to take off from there.” He left with those words. And so did my temper. I didn’t want to express too much emotion in front of raghu, lest it was unnecessary emotion, so I got up, found the guy and told him “Can you please tell me exactly what we’re going to do because I have a six-year-old kid with me and we need to know what’s happening. He can’t just climb mountains on demand.” So I learnt that the gliders on ground level were trainers, just practising parachute control. And that we were going to take a ride with a professional pilot, who would have to take off from that plateau. So, if we wanted to paraglide, we had to climb up 400 meters. Well, cues from Raghu, I thought. So I carried the information to him and he said, “OK, let’s climb”. Ah – what do I know – I guess 6-year-olds do climb mountains on demand…

So, we climbed in crocs and slip-ons, on a windy, slippery path of hay, up the hill, behind a skinny-muscle-guy, followed by our white friend. I climbed ahead, and Raghu held on to my hand with both of his, pulling himself up every step of the way. It was tiring. But what did I care – we just kept telling each other, “watch out for that rock – it’s loose. wow, look how far up we are. amazing abucha, look everything looks tiny, it’s pretty cool, watch out, wow, keep going, then we can paraglide together, not too far left, look look at the view, wow….”

We reached the top and sat down for a well-deserved break. We shared a Masti in silence, savoring the view. A few minutes later, my adult mind was back in top gear (we never learn do we?) and I started watching for clues. I spotted the alpha male, who said “Ah, good, you reached” No comment, just what now? “Well, you see that man there – Ravi – he’s the pilot, he’ll take you on the ride one at a time. Just a few more minutes while these other guys take off.” One at a time?? I confirmed it with Ravi – no double harness sorry – one at a time. But how? Ravi explained, showed me the harness and said he’d do one trip with me and one trip with Raghu. Notice the number of the times Raghu kept saying “paraglide together” – now what? Once again I thought, cue from Raghu. So I carried the information to him once more. I still hadn’t learnt! “Raghu, see the pilot over there. His name’s Ravi. He says we can only go one at a time. That means I have to wear this harness and helmet and can go for a ride with him for like 15 minutes, while you’ll have to stay down here. Then, after my turn, you’ll get a turn to do the same thing. But we can’t go together.” “OK” “So, I go alone and you go alone, you understand?” “yep, OK” “So, I’ll go up and ride in the sky with Ravi and then land back here at the same spot and you’ll wait for me here and then you get a turn.” “Uh-huh, OK” “Are you sure?” Raghu must have thought me insane “Yep, I’m sure, go, I’ll wiat here”. Of course I asked him a few more times and then resigned myself to leaving him sitting on the hill, surrounded by people he didn’t know, with a bag, as I put my harness on. He watched, with a look on his face that can only be described as contented acceptance – he wasn’t ecstatic – he was content with accepting the turn of events. At least that’s what it seemd like to me. My face probably just showed incredulity.

So I took off and enjoyed my ride – floating in the air, waving to Raghu (a little red spot on the hill) and flying higher and higher. Ravi was a very good pilot – I had to test him of course – I was going to send Raghu with him. He listened to me, made sure I was comfortable, answered my questions, helped me relax and enjoy the ride, etc… I told him that I didn’t think Raghu would want to go this high and he assured me that he would listen to him. We landed and Raghu watched carefully. He seemed happy to see me again. But he was very clear, “I don’t want to go that high” Alpha Male joined us too. Raghu explained his idea to both of us. “I want to take off from this hill and go straight down, okay? Not high up there” I spoke to Ravi about it and he said that he would listen to Raghu and I felt more confident that he would make sure Raghu felt comfortable. I suggested to Raghu that he talk with Ravi and Raghu readily agreed. As they got his harness and helmet on, he looked so tiny but not vulnerable. He turned and said, “Listen” and Ravi listened. “I want to take off from here and go straight down to the ground, okay? Not high up there.” Ravi said, “We’ll see. We’ll do what you want when you take off”. I told Raghu that I would climb down hill and wait for him at the bottom, where we were sitting in the shade. He said ok, and then took off…

I watched them glide off into the air for barely a few seconds. I rushed to go down hill to meet him there – I figured it would be a short flight. I kept turning and looking for his bright orange parachute in the sky, but instead of coming down, it seemed to be going up. I reached the bottom of the hill and waited and waited and waited for a full 15 minutes. They were just paragliding all over the place, as high up as I’d been. Somehow I wasn’t worried though. Raghu flew for 15 minutes at a height over 700 feet!!! When he finally landed, I asked the obvious question. “Good. I can do that again”.

That summed up my attitude to the hike across the field back to the van. Before that, we settled back down to relax under the shady tree. This time we were both hungry. He ate both energy bars and I ate all the dried apricots and we shared the Masti. We watched the others still paragliding. We took guess at which ones we thought would land first. We admired the distance we had climbed uphill, watched the others climb down, and were finally ready to head back. We waited until the last paraglider landed as every began packing their parachutes into the rucksacks again. An ancient, white-haired, dhoti-clad man offered us chai, which Raghu declined. The man asked where we had come from, told us about his farm and left after announcing his prediction that Raghu would become a pilot when he grew up. Raghu pulled my hand “Let’s go”. We trudged on ahead towards the van while the alpha male and gang finished packing their rucksacks. My head foggy with confidence and happiness, I decided that I knew the way back and Raghu wisely would periodically ask me to wait and keep a look out for the others. We did and eventually, reached the van at dusk. “I can’t wait to tell Amma and Zoya”.”

Funny how everything seems to fall into place once the LOA (Law of Attraction) ball got rolling for me/us as a family. My stress levels have fallen away. I wonder if that means i’m ignoring problems… but nah… mostly i look at problems in a new light. And i find i’m more open to playfullness, going with the flow even if it means smiling at overflowing water as kids play etc.

Today was a day of stops. I tended to loose my temper and get short with the kids. I could not find my groove or my center as i was caught up in a couple of extra house-chores, some house-maintenance, lack of water in the building (being worked out by the building crew), and perhaps a growing unease about some stuff that i need to work on while the kids are not around.

Now this last one was the main botheration because i know Ravi’s week is rough and i may not get that time i need. Anyway my solution was to read Calvin and Hobbes to the kids as they settled in for a afternoon nap… Z definitely sleepy and Raghu lying down only for a read. Then i explained to Raghu that if he wanted the playdate (2 kids from our building are coming over for a playdate this evening) then he needed to nap as he had been up in the morning at 7am. I pointed out how hard it was for him to stay cheerful and not get grumpy when he was functioning on less sleep. So he agreed to nap provided i finished a few more pages of hte C&H. So we laughed and interpreted a few more C&H escapades and R feel asleep. So here I am having a blissful hour to tap away and get my center back.

And as i focus on myself… i can isolate the problem areas and sit with them and give them directions. ok “food issues for hte evening… here you go… this is what shall happen… chunky soup for Z, bhendi for R and methi-daal-rice- for dh and me.” then “mess issues… make a list and put it up for us to consider some boxing up this w’end” and “art-class reassessment… shall tell ravi to take care of kids in the morning tomororw while i plug away from 6am till 8am on the course work i need to create” Lovely! Now i feel like loose ends have been tied that as an art teacher adn home manager have to be addressed and i cna go back to being loose and carefree and follow my kids around the rest of the evening.

Then i read this in my inbox from Scott Noelle.. and it zinged for me 🙂

:: Red Light, Green Light ::

Virtually all of us “lose it” with our kids at some
point. Then later we say, “I didn’t want to yell at my
child, but I couldn’t stop myself.”

If you want to avoid these parent-child “collisions,”
you have to pay more attention to your “inner
stoplight”: stress.

Suppose you’re worried about getting your child to an
appointment on time. Worrying is stressful, so it’s a
red light telling you to stop and get centered before
moving on. But long ago you were trained to tolerate
stress, so you don’t notice the red light. You’re on a
collision course!

Which parent is more likely to end up yelling, the one
who’s centered or the one who’s stressed?

Today, pay close attention to your subtle feelings.
Decide that even “mild” tension or irritation is a red
light. Stop, breathe, reach for better-feeling
thoughts, and wait for the green-light feeling of
*relief* before you take action.


Learning seems to be all “I” do these days. My kids are my teachers. Raghu told me how to solve a problem that i was struggling over with Z. Z told me to ‘not worry’ when i was. Etc. the list is endless. I almost wish for hidden cameras… to record our days together. The numerous times i’ve had to stop and think will make it feel like i’m in slow motion 🙂

Some Raghu-days are so full of activity, play, impromptu games, playdates, media, food, etc.. that i barely get to sit down at a stretch and write about it. And other days he relaxes and contemplates things a bit more. However Z is a run thru life kind of kid every day unless she is sick. For most of the day she is searching for things to make/break/work with/play with/toss/keep back etc… and she loves for me to be with her almost non-stop.

So i barely get to breathe, focus on thoughts, string them into paragraphs and write them down etc. Or perhaps i need to speed up and be able to do the writing in the 10-15 min pockets of time i get during the day.

Sushil and Purbi gifted Raghu a DS Nintendo this past . He is in love with it. As we are not into gaming at all …. for Raghu the exposure has been minimum. But he took to it like a fish to water. He was a bit frustrated the first few days but did not ask nor accept help. By the 4th day he had figured out how to get past the first level adn then there was no stopping him. He is playing the Ben 10 cartridge mostly.