How You made me a mother…

Dear Baby Girl Nirva,

I hope this blog post finds you sleeping peacefully with your tummy full. I hope you are not too cold and shivering or too hot and sweaty. I hope the room temperature is just right. Wishing you a good night’s sleep. Today has been tough for you, your tummy, and us. I should probably eliminate caffeine from my diet.

This letter was crafted while I was rocking you to sleep after the long rough day that you’ve had. You are already making ‘imma wake up anytime’ noises as I am typing this down. It’s a little past midnight; we have had a rough couple of nights. I wish a good night’s sleep to be upon us, for you to gain weight, and for me to reduce my pregnancy tummy. PS: I fit in my pre-pregnancy denims and am back to my pre-pregnancy weight.

I remember the night we decided on your name. We had not planned a baby yet but we had zeroed down your name and gender (as if it were in our hands) already. We always knew we wanted a daughter. A few months later we realized we couldn’t wait any longer to hold you in our arms.

I remember the day we learnt that you were on your way. It was day 1 of week 6. I had a strong intuition that I was pregnant since Week 3. It was as if my mind already knew that We had conceived. I felt your presence. We were in Illinois in week 5 and I refused to pick up my own luggage. Baba was furious but being the gentleman he is, picked up all of my luggage along with his. I did not want to risk your health by doing anything that I wasn’t supposed to. I became a mother that very moment – I wanted to protect you even when I wasn’t sure you existed. One night (while in Illinois) after a late night round of cards with the extended family, I told Baba about my pregnancy intuitions. He laughed it off. We reached home (Chandler) a few days later. I doordashed a pregnancy test at 7 AM. And Aai’s intuition was right. You were on your way. Baba was asleep when I broke the news to him. I can never forget the smile on his face. We told both Aaji-Ajobas the same evening. They guided us throughout the pregnancy.

Millions of tests followed. Fatigue had set in along with the mood swings. You dictated what you wanted to eat. We decided to navigate our relationship, life, and eating habits around it. Bed time had changed to 7:45 PM to supply you the energy you needed to flourish. I had just started working as well. You triggered a house search – a place that we could all call ‘home’. The week 8 ultrasound went great. However, delta variant was at large. Both Baba and I had covid symptoms in Week 9 (though we never tested positive). We prayed incessantly for your safety. We quarantined and worked from home for a few weeks. We wanted nothing but for you to be safe. Week 12 appointment was good. Soon we entered second trimester.

It was a lazy Sunday morning and you were only 14 weeks old. I opened my eyes at 8 AM. It was too early for a Sunday (then). Baba was sleeping peacefully. I decided to go back to sleep too. 15 minutes later, you moved and indicated that you were hungry. That was the first time we felt your presence in the tummy. I immediately woke up and fixed you breakfast. I looked forward to feeling your kicks every day for the rest of my pregnancy.

Week 15 brought an almost hit and run. I was glad you were safe. A few weeks later, we had to go to the emergency room. Thankfully, you were safe. More tests followed. Meanwhile, all the offers that we had put on houses had been rejected. Baba and I were dejected. Maybe we weren’t meant to buy a house. A few weeks weeks later, we casually went to see a house in a newer and unexplored area. It was love at first sight. We paid the deposit on the very next day. You had a place to call home now. Mama flew out from New York to help us move.

Things became heavier once we moved into the new house. It was week 20 of the pregnancy. The shopping spree started. We became regulars at every major retailer. Aai would sit on the floor of every aisle she walked in. That is how the knobs for your bathroom were selected. Walking had become difficult. Energy was hard to come by. I felt the constant need to rest and sleep.

Third trimester introduced us to Braxton & Hicks, sciatic nerve pain, acid reflux, infusions, sleepless nights, prodromal labor, and even more doctors appointments. We were sent back several times from the OB triage. I had all the symptoms of pre-labor for 3 weeks but you took your own sweet time. Finally I went into labor at the end of week 41 and you arrived.

I can never forget the first time I saw you… actually when You saw me. My epidural had almost stopped working and I was in tears. The nurse picked you up and put you on my chest as soon as You were born. You immediately turned your neck (don’t think you are supposed to be able to do that at minute 1, but you did) and looked at me. That was the first time when I saw you. Both of us were crying. Actually, all three of us were crying. A tear rolled down Baba’s cheeks when he held you for the first time.

It has been an absolute pleasure to see you grow in the last 7 weeks. You love stories, badbad geete, and talking in general. You already say ‘Hi’, ‘Hello’, ‘Oh wow’ (or at least that is what we hear when you blabber). You have disliked all of the formulas that the pediatrician recommended. You always know where the camera is. You’ve visited Grand Canyon and Bearizona already. You hate being covered. You dislike being swaddled and napping in general. You are gassy at times. Your smile lights up the room.

You have signs for everything You need. We are still trying to learn them. You have taught me more in the last two months than I’ve learnt in the last 30 years of my life. Being your Aai has been the most fulfilling role of my life. You make me a better human being, daughter, wife, and mother every day. Thank you for being born. Thank you for choosing me to be your mother. Thank you for being our bundle of joy.

Love you forever and always. Aai.

#wontEatWillTravel – Rocky Mountain National Park

Venue: Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Duration: 1 or 2 days
Best time to visit: Pretty much all around the year.
Accommodation: Estes Park or cabins around the national park. Denver or cities nearby could be a good option as well.

It was a last-minute trip. We did not have a list of things to do for the long weekend and had decided to go with the flow. The itinerary is as below. You have to make reservations to enter the national park and can only enter during those hours. The link to make reservations is here -> https://www.recreation.gov/timed-entry/10086910.

Day 1:
A few must-visit places –
Estes Park: This place is slightly outside the national park. It is a busier area with beautiful lakes, breathtaking views, and loads of restaurants and shopping areas.
Moraine Park: This spot is on your way to the Bear lake corridor. Moraine Park offers abundant wildlife and breathtaking views of the snow-clad mountains.
Bear Lake: This one is a short 0.8 miles walk in the park. The lakes were still frozen and added to the beauty.
Dream Lake & Emerald Lake: The trail starts from the Bear Lake trail. It can get trickier due to the snow.
Trail Ridge Road: This drive offers gorgeous views of the mountains. The views from the overlook spots are stunning. The Forest Canyon overlook has panoramic views of Hayden Gorge, Gorge lakes, Longs Peak, and Stones Peak.
Alpine visitor center: It is the highest visitor center in the US. The alpine ridge trail is an easy, 0.6-mile hike that takes us to the panoramic views of the entire national park.
Alberta Falls: This is one of the popular waterfalls in the park. This 1.7 miles trip takes around 1-1.5 hours. It could take longer due to snow.

Day 2:
The second day was reserved for the Royal Gorge Route Railway trip, Garden of Gods, and Pike’s Peak. You can book the rides here –> https://www.royalgorgeroute.com/. This spectacular 2-hour train ride takes through the Colorado Rockies and tracks the river along the way. The open coaches guarantee you a ‘Chhaiyya Chhaiyya’ feel. We could not do Garden of the Gods and Pike’s peak due to hailstorms but they are must-visit spots. We ended up celebrating our friends’ engagement instead.

More things to do in Colorado:
Colorado has varied landscapes. You could ski, snow-shoe in Aspen, hike in the Rockies, do kayaking and river-rafting in Canon city, or enjoy a hot-air balloon flight in Lafayette. If you feel adventurous you could do ziplining, via Ferrata, take an aerial gondola, or ride the world’s scariest sky coaster. Visit this website for more –> https://www.colorado.com/. A few pictures from the trip –





#lessonsOfLife Be kind. Work hard.

Date: 11/17/2020, Tuesday
Place: Chandler, AZ

I have moved places, people, mind, heart, and life quite a bit over the last couple of years. Life has been nothing less than a movie with all the drama. I could get a second Master’s in making lemonade from the lemons life has thrown at me.
After switching countries (again), I am back at the job market. This job hunt is like no other – we are in the middle of a recession, the pandemic is growing worse, none favors visa sponsorship, millions have lost their jobs, very few are hiring, and there is always a gap between what a role requires and what you got. My inbox is overflowing with reject emails. Motivation is hard to come by. But the following call changed things.

Monday evening: It was Padwa day. N and I decided to make Cosmos to celebrate Padwa and the new year. N is a quick learner and has mastered the art of making Cosmos.

Tuesday morning:

10 AM: I woke up with a bad headache/hangover. N was working.

That was my first hangover in a long time. To all the millennials out there – hangovers worsen with age.
10:05 AM: The phone rang. I picked it up.
A: Hello. *Husky voice* (That’s the best I could do)
Interviewer: Hello. Am I speaking with Apurva?
A: Yes, this is she.
Interviewer: Hello. You’d applied for the ABC role in XYZ company. I was wondering if this was a good time to talk. Sorry that I called without intimation.

I couldn’t place the company. At this point, I had realized that the connection between my ears and brain was partially impaired and I could not listen. I had no laptop in front of me so all of his questions would have to be answered impromptu. I said Yes.

Interviewer: Before I begin, we don’t have the set up to be able to sponsor folks. Will that be a problem? If yes, I wouldn’t want to waste your time.
A: Yes, I do need sponsorship to be able to work in the United States.

And then something beautiful happened. He said he believes that I will be successful in life. That woke me up. Here was a guy, who I had spoken to for 2 minutes. He said my resume was solid and he knew only hard-work could have gotten me here. He asked me to continue working hard if I knew only hard-work could help me achieve my goal. He thought successful people can be spotted early on and he had spotted me. He said I shouldn’t depend on a financial clutch; that I should be on my own. He went on to tell me a story about his childhood. That experience had instilled the importance of hard work, pride, and dignity in him. According to him, all I needed was a bridge and a chance. He said I’ve done amazing things in the past and would continue to do so in the future. He wished me well and hung up. I wondered if he did magic crystal or was a fortune-teller on the side!

At the back of my mind, I wondered if he knew how rough the last year or so had been for me. I wondered if he knew how tired I was of the job hunt (already); that motivation has been rare. Rejections were/are the new norm. I wondered if he knew of all that I’ve lost and given up to arrive at the new normal. I imagined the interviewer to be around 50 years old, could easily be passed off as a Grandfather. He was the VP of that particular organization. He would have had better things to do. But he chose to talk to me and motivate me when he could have been able to talk to a more suitable candidate instead. He went that extra mile that recruiters don’t need to/do not. That phone call made my day. I took those few sentences from the stranger to be a message from beyond. Life wants me to strive hard. I took that as an indication that I will reach the light at the end of the tunnel if I continued running.

He was kind. That’s all he needed to be. Some of us could take a page from his book and be kind during these tough times. We need to motivate ourselves and those around us. Sometimes all we need is a little push and a few kind words to soar high.

A few motivational quotes I found at https://motivationping.com/quotes/ and Pinterest. The last quote is my favorite and has been my wallpaper for the past 5 years.


Movie Review: Laxmii and more…

Runtime: 2 hours 21 minutes
Cast: Akshay Kumar, Kiara Advani, Sharad Kelkar, Rajesh Sharma, Ayesha Raza Mirza, Manu Rishi Chadha, Ashwini Kalsekar, and Tarun Arora
Rating: 2/5
Featured image credit: onenewspage.com

I don’t watch horror movies. They leave an impression. N loves horror movies. This one was for him.

Look at the cast again. They’re all good actors. I had great expectations when I started watching the movie. But something was amiss.

It started fine. A few scenes scared the s#!t out of me (PS: I scare easy). That tempo did not stay for long. With the introduction of more characters, the acting failed to feel organic. This is not to say ‘bad acting’, just that the characters did not fit well. Laxmii, in terms of acting, could have been stronger. The supporting actors’ acting skills could have been utilized more. The VFX effects could have been sharper. The storyline is probably the replica of the original movie ‘Kanchana’; a few twists and turns would have helped to pep up the rating. However, Sharad Kelkar’s strong performance eats them up all – combined. He is excellent as Laxmii in the flashback. Overall, they could have done a much better job. On another note, the movie reminds you of ‘Bhool Bhulaiyya’ in a few ways.

Nevertheless, the substance of the movie is good. They’re hitting the right spots. Our country needs to warm up to the third gender and be more accepting. This reminded me of a few instances from my past life –

  1. A decade ago – It was my last year of undergrad. I used to take the train to school and traveled first class. I took the train back home at approximately 5 PM. You see familiar faces when you take the trains around the same time every day. When the train stopped at Nerul, I saw a few ladies sitting on the floor of the first-class compartment (not uncommon). I had to jump over them to board the train. I didn’t get a chance to look at the faces – only their neatly pedicured toenails. As soon as I entered, I saw my mother’s friend from work and found a seat next to her. Lucky me. My seat did not allow me a good view of the ladies sitting on the floor though. The compartment was comparatively silent that day. My mother’s friend and I started chatting. She almost whispered and I wondered why. Out of curiosity, I tried to sneak a peek at the floor. She stopped me and whispered, “Avert your eyes. They’re transgenders.”
    TBH, I was amazed. Looking at their outfits, appearance, and voice I wouldn’t have been able to guess their gender. I don’t know where they were going, what they did to survive but I hope they tried to make an honest living.
  2. Less than a year ago, Women’s day celebration @ Visa – We had the pleasure to hear women leaders speak. One of them was Gauri Sawant. That woman is such a captivating speaker. I always knew transgenders in India survived in sub-optimal living conditions; she gave us a clearer picture. She told us about the journey of her life and her experience of being a transgender mother. She adopted her daughter, Gayatri, in 2008 after Gayatri’s biological mother (a sex worker) died of AIDS. Gauri saved Gayatri from being sold in the sex-trafficking industry. My heart sank.
    Then she moved on to tell us about how she started ‘Aajicha Ghar’. It started when a sex worker asked her if she wanted her 3-month-old son whom she could not take care of (doing what she did). Gauri took the baby as her own and started the organization. ‘Aajicha Ghar’ takes care of abandoned children of sex workers and transgender children. Noble. You can learn more about the organization here –> https://aajichaghar.com/
    I am awestruck by her dedication, zeal, and drive to make this world a better place. You need to be very special, brave, and courageous to be able to do this. Grand Salute to her!

The point is, the transgender community has been deprived of their fundamental rights. Have you ever wondered why you never saw a transgender kid at school or college? Why you haven’t met transgenders at work? Why it took us 100 years to put the 3rd checkbox for transgenders to identify themselves? They’ve been sidelined and discriminated against for years. We have been oblivious of their challenges. This needs to change. And we need to be the ones inspiring and implementing the change. Maybe start sponsoring education, make reservations at schools, colleges, and work. I, for one, have decided to be more cognizant of their challenges and extend monetary help to non-profits.

Hope this inspires you to make a difference. Looking forward to reading your experiences and ideas in the comment section. Love.

#wontEatWillTravel Crystal Mountain, WA

08/18/2018: Day trip to Crystal Mountain.

Crystal mountain, Pierce County, is a ski area. Nevertheless, it is a good place for a short day-trip during summers as well. It is a beautiful 2-hour drive from Seattle. The view is ecstatic.

The view!!

The most amazing time-lapse I’ve ever captured. I swear my head spun after watching this the first time.

Someone was actually getting married there. I thought it was brilliant!! Pretty #Sherpa I must say.

IMG_8541

Plandids/Candids – 

#lessonsOfLife

I grew a year older and wiser this month. Here’s a list of things I’ve learned in the last year –

  1. I am fully capable of living on my own… in the heart of downtown… alone… \m/
  2. One can sleep after watching a horror movie because… (see the next point)
  3. Sleep is the most important thing ever.
  4. Earplugs work just fine for the early morning trash trucks.
  5. Some things are just not meant to work out.
  6. People change.
  7. People leave.
  8. Some people leave for a reason. The reason stays even after they’ve left.
  9. Work is life but life is not work – however you want to put it.
  10. Mental illness is real.
  11. Medical bills are huge. Be fit. Stay fit.
  12. ‘Me’ time is a real thing. You need ‘Me’ time.
  13. French fries are an acceptable lunch option.
  14. It is absolutely fine to fall asleep while at movies.
  15. It is okay not to party on a Friday. You can be a homebody if you want to.
  16. It is not okay to be indecisive. Decisions are important.
  17. Let go and move on.
  18. Forgive and forget. Don’t get back in touch though.
  19. If you think you have “problems” in life may be read a newspaper or watch the news for 5 mins. Follow the theory of relativity. Your problems are the uber first world problems most people would die to have. There would be at least a million people on the face of this earth who would be more than happy to live your life.
  20. Family is the real deal.
  21. Travel makes you wiser. Travel as much as possible. #wontEatWillTravel
  22. Milky way is beautiful. Try star-gazing as much as possible.
  23. Netflix is chocolate cake and amazon prime video is the icing on it.
  24. Live life with no regrets.
  25. Past is in the past for a reason. Never turn back. You are not going there.
  26. Some people do not understand the concept of ‘olive branch’ and it is not your responsibility to you to teach them.
  27. Your mood should never be dependent on the people around you. Stay calm. Stay foolish.

#wontEatWillTravel New Orleans 2017

I have been a big fan of ‘The Originals’. #Netflix rocks. This trip to New Orleans was totally dedicated to The Originals. I secretly hoped to spot Niklaus somewhere. A few pictures from the attempt.

I had conveniently forgotten my phone charger. So I googled the nearest retailer to buy a new one. The street signs looked really pretty so I decided to click pictures on my way around New Orleans. Fortunately, my shoes matched the street signs.

‘The Originals’ has quite a few shots from the cemeteries. We decided to take a tour of St. Louise’s cemetery. Didn’t know cemeteries could be so crowded and cool.

‘The Bayou’ is where all werewolves reside according to the ‘The Originals’. So we decided to take a tour of the bayou. It was raining heavily and we were all wet by the time the tour started. The bayou was beautiful. Also, the alligators ate marshmallows. IKR! And…we got to hold them! It was a scary experience and took a couple takes to get a good shot.

Random things and places in New Orleans. This city does have a weird and wonderful vibe and the most delicious beignets!

A few selfies and pictures of all of us!

Date: August 2017

#wontEatWillTravel San Francisco

A few pictures from my first trip to the bay area. Many more to come –

IMG_0401
Always wanted a picture of my reflection
IMG_0417
Happyness
IMG_0424
One for the yellow kurta
IMG_0426
Palace of Fine Arts Theatre
IMG_0427
Hazy…
IMG_0428
The world-famous golden gate bridge
IMG_0429
A click from the front-seat of the car while waiting at the red light.
IMG_0430
Another picture from the front seat.
IMG_0431
The restaurant we had lunch at.
IMG_0433
The beautiful ceiling of palace of fine arts …
IMG_0434
STANFORD baby!
IMG_0435
How i wish i was smart enough to study here!
IMG_0437
Little lake by Mountain View, maybe?
IMG_0439
Selfie with my fav people – The Kulkarnis

Date: January 2017

Of Choices and More…

8:00 AM: I left for Trader Joe’s to buy cucumber as instructed. Fire sounded very serious about picnic plans and I wanted to prove my support. We left for the hike soon after the successful purchase of every item from the list. P.S: None wants to play with Fire.

11:30 AM: The Baby (read: Fire’s niece), Fire and I reached the trailhead after having fought with traffic and found a parking spot (#theStruggleIsAlwaysReal). We started the ascent.

11:45 AM: The name of the trail had rung a bell before but I decided not to jog my memory.  20 minutes into the hike and we reached a bridge. Everything came rushing back to me. I had already 2 of my facebook display pictures clicked here in two different outfits with two different group of people. This was going to be a hattrick for me – 3 consecutive years to the same place with 3 different groups of people. Not cool. Should take this as a signal and try different hikes.

1:00 PM: Fire led the troupe as usual. Baby followed her and I was at the tail-end. The hike got busier as the day and hike progressed. Dogs of all sizes made a point to annoy me. I tried to distract myself by eavesdropping.

Two friends/colleagues, both probably in their late twenties, walked a few feet behind us. The conversation was about the risks they had taken in their lives and relationships. And then something one of them said caught my attention –

Friend 1: But then, I can’t even imagine how my life would have been had I stayed back and continued my job…you know…

Friend 2: Yeah, me too. And I think it is wrong to think like that. When you doubt your life choices and decisions you are in a way disrespecting yourself.

4:00 PM: We reached the trailhead, drank hot coffee and drove back to Seattle.

That sentence about doubting life choices ran in infinite loops in my brain. I had been doubting my decisions for a while now. Every time I saw the numbers on my credit card bills, salary account and student loan account I doubted my decision of coming to the US to pursue my dreams. Dreams are expensive. I could have avoided the debts and the hassles and tension. Every time my grandparents were sick and hospitalized I questioned my choice of leaving India. I wasn’t around when my grandfather passed away. I shall be forever guilty about that. Guaranteed, I would not have been in the position I am at had I not taken the risks. There is no way I could have achieved what I have had I not taken the risks. But still, I do try and imagine how my life would have been had I not taken the steps I did. Maybe life would have been better… or maybe not.

That made me realize… when I doubt my own decisions I am disrespecting myself. Whatever path you chose to walk on was your choice. Just because you had hiccups does not mean you made the wrong one. You gotta walk till you reach the destination. In the end… whatever the deal is… you gotta face the consequences and own up to it. Period.

 

 

#firstWorldProblems

7:50 AM: I turned the hot water knob. I turned the cold water knob. Could not get the water temperature as desired.

7:55 AM: The above steps had been repeated around 100 times by now. I was frustrated. I had a meeting at 9 AM and the shower wasn’t doing its job. I was going to be fashionably late to this one (as usual).

8:40 AM: I ran toward the train station. I was going to be late for the meeting but the only emotion I had was of ‘disappointment’ toward my ‘shower’. If only shower could feel.

7:00 PM: It was a regular IMO with my parents. 10 minutes into the call I found myself cribbing about my shower! 😐 My parents laughed out loud. I wondered why! It was a legit problem for me. It took me complete 5 minutes to adjust my shower every morning and that mattered to me. The equation goes like this —>

5 minutes in the morning > 50 minutes in the evening

But my parents LOLing at my “problem” (the world should be read with quotations) made me realize the intensity of my problem… which was none. It was as if I had made something up to crib about. Getting late for work because of not being able to adjust the shower… in the bathroom of my 1 bedroom apartment… at the heart Seattle downtown sounds like a problem people would love to have.

After a close assessment of all my “problems”, I realized that all of them were #firstWorldProblems. I started taking mental notes and came up with a list.

  1. Shower temperature adjustment – In the bathroom of my 1 bedroom apartment that is located in the heart of Seattle downtown. 1 – You cannot get any more downtown than this. 2- I should be glad that I have running hot water/water all the time.
    The more I think about this problem the more the picture of barren lands and people dying of drought comes to my mind. I come from a place in India where running water is a myth and all lands are barren; irrigation doesn’t exist and the only way farmers can be debt free is by committing suicide. When I think about that I think this might be the most first world problem I can ever have.
  2. “I have no clothes to wear” – At least 4 piece of clothing falls on the ground when I open my wardrobe. I have an insane number of clothes and my wardrobe is always going to overflow unless I get rid of like half of it. I still cannot find clothes to wear.
    This is one of the three essentials of life – Roti, Kapda aur Makaan. The problem of my life is that I have a too much of ‘kapda’ while people in other parts of the world cannot make their ends meet. I think I am probably blind to have been saying this.
  3. Books – I like books. Books on the lines of clothes are overflowing too. My bookshelf is full and I need to find an overflowing section to keep my books. This is something I figured today.
    All this while adult literacy rate in India is only 72.1% (Adult literacy rate for China: 96.4%. Please don’t blame India’s population here). Even Myanmar surpasses us by 21% (Myanmar at 93.1%) and the world average is 86.3%. The no. 1 reason they say is poverty. Too many books to read… probably a good problem to have.
  4. Cannot get my makeup right – My makeup can be shiny/too shiny/perfect/bland/WTF is that? depending on the proportions of foundations and moisturizers I use. I cannot have the same look any two days.
    So… I have enough money to buy multiple foundations and multiple moisturizers and cannot get the proportion of all of them perfect. And I crib about my makeup not being perfect… Yea… this is certainly as stupid as it can get.
  5. My bathroom does not have a plug – So I cannot use all the hair curling/straightening/drying gadgets in my bathroom.
    I crib about this while 2.5 billion people do not have access to a loo.
  6. ‘Alexa’ doesn’t listen – And Fire has come across this problem as well. Our little robot (maybe?!) does not listen to our orders if and when she is playing loud music for us. Our voices don’t cut through the music probably. This is too fancy to even be considered as a first world problem.

After reading the list of my first world problems I thank God/whoever made me so privileged/my parents for granting me everything I ever wanted/did not want/never thought I would have. I have no wish list anymore. Do you? I think it is time we stop thinking about our fictitious problems and do good to eliminate the real world problems from this world. Use your resources well. Do your bit.