Blogging despite Opposition.

There are many who haven’t heard of my blog; there are some who are aware of its existence but are too exhausted by the prospect of reading it and then there are a few, mostly family members, who are pestered by me to follow it. Guess who just blatantly hates it and can’t stand the sight of my working on it? My dear daughter of course!

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I hate blogging!

Most of the time I’m in a rush trying to finish cooking, eating my lunch, cleaning up, taking a shower, writing in my journal and then posting on my blog in the short time that Medha is napping. But there are days when she wakes up right at the moment I log into our laptop. Then I simply shut it and forget all about blogging until about 8 in the evening. At that hour anxiety creeps up and gets hold of me, reminding me of my poor, under-nourished blog. Leaving Medha under her dad’s supervision I get down to business.

With Medha busy watching an Elephant on Animal Planet channel or some other animal on another channel, I start working on my post for the day. A paragraph into my post she notices that I’m occupied with something other than animal-watching with her, so she comes  to me trying to strike a conversation. I politely refuse and turn her attention towards her dad.

Minutes into my writing she tries a new strategy. “Look at my aayi!”, she says, pointing at a wound. I respond by kissing it Goodbye.  Next, she points at a piece of dirt sticking to her feet saying, once again, “Look at my aayi!”. I play along. If I just ignore her I know she’ll bug me until I react.

As I read my blog aloud to check if it’s flowing right, a board book plops into my lap. Her look says I should read her book if I so want to read something. At such times even if dad’s ready to read or entertain it doesn’t matter. She wants mommy, she’ll do anything to get her attention. Between me and the laptop she sits trying to obstruct my vision.

Just when I’m coming up with a suitable ending for my post she resorts to her final trick: She slams the laptop shut. Oh… there she comes. I’ll take off before I’m attacked once again by my teeny tiny cutesy monster!!!

Durango (part 3)

The famous Iron Horse Biking Championship was happening that weekend. So we had to share the roads with a horde of cyclists and spectators. Along winding hills towards the town of Telluride we drove at a snail’s pace which was a boon in a way.Had we breezed past we wouldn’t have been able to appreciate the emerald green lakes nestling in the midst of vast expanses of meadows. Beautiful horses in their shiny coats gathered by the fences to check what the bikers were upto.

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Halfway through our ascent we realized we couldn’t drive any further. The narrow road ahead was closed until noon to make room for the bikers. So we turned back to Durango Downtown for a brunch at the Carver’s Brewing company where I had an Avocado Burrito that had spicy Salsa Verde drizzled all over it doubling its yummy factor.

Since we couldn’t get to Telluride by the US 550 called the “Million Dollar Highway”, we took the US-160 instead. Green hills and flat grasslands were dotted with cows and yellow Dandelions; the small towns of Mancos and Dolores en route looked inviting enough to make us stop for pictures. The drive was as good as any “million dollar highway” could be!

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“Mountainfilm”, a film festival was happening in Telluride that weekend. Music, freebies and beautiful people hogged its streets. Since we weren’t going to hang around until 9pm to catch a free outdoor movie, we decided to do the next best thing- a gondola ride between Telluride and Mountain Village. For free! The 15 minute ride took us high through the canopy formed by Quaking Aspens and Engelmann Spruces and gave us stunning views of the town below.

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The resort town of Mountain Village had a cobble-stoned square with European-style buildings housing restaurants and eclectic stores.

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Our next stop was the town of Ouray, called “the gem of the Rockies”. We braved the pushy winds to walk around a town with stores whose names read like poetry: Skol studio Gallery, Goldbelt Bar and Grill, Timberline Deli and Sandwich factory, the Cutting Edge Family Hair care, Olde Tyme Portraits, Duckett’s market and Biergarten:Brews, Views and Food. I so wish the wind had let us spend more time there.It felt as if we were shoved down the steep road strewn with pebbles and loose sand as we headed to our car. By the end of our foray into Ouray I was getting paranoid, I could feel our car swaying with the heavy winds.

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Our final stop that day was the colorful Silverton, a mining town. Mmmmm… That trip brings back memories of sipping large cups of coffee and just soaking in all the new sensations as the world hurried by.

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Durango (part 2)

…… (Continued from Durango (part 1))

After an evening of strolling beside the Animas river we made our way towards Steamworks Brewing Company, a gastropub, a pub serving food. It wasn’t time yet for dinner but the restaurant was already packed. With no place to spare on the long wooden benches in the waiting area, customers crowded outside, drinking house-brewed beers or snacking on peanuts or simply catching up with friends and families.

A half hour into our wait we were led inside to our table. Once inside we were absolutely thrilled. The place was pure chaos, an absolute mess! Just the right place for a family with a toddler. I simply let Medha be herself instead of trying to civilize the monkey within her.  With a box of chalks given by our waitress she unleashed her artistic self right on the floor. While she was busy rendering the next “Monalisa” Prasad and I settled in our seats and worked on our basket of peanuts and a pint of Steam Engine Lager. A beer had never tasted good before and munching roasted peanuts had never been fun. The floor was strewn with peanut shells that were simply tossed after cracking open a nut.

Eating out had never been fun before….

The main course wasn’t disappointing either. Prasad ordered a crunchy Gourmet Quinoa Burger with beer-battered French fries and I got myself a cold Greek Wrap and Salad. I tried stuffing most of my food into my busy daughter’s mouth as I had my eyes on the enticing burger. I did manage to snatch a few scraps when Prasad wasn’t looking.

Greek Wrap and Salad
Quinoa Burger…. Best of all the Bests.

We went to the same place the next day. This time we ordered a Greek pizza while Medha played with a little girl her own age.There was chaos and mess as the day before. The thin-crust pizza topped with Portabella mushrooms, artichoke hearts and lots of Feta cheese was tasty and satisfying. But what we’ll always cherish about the experience is the novelty of a quiet dinner even in the midst of all the hullabaloo.

(to be continued….)

Durango (part 1)

This post is about our family trip to Durango and other mountain towns of Colorado last Memorial Day Weekend. I’ll divide our time in parts so as to make this easier and less-boring to read.

In order to make a 10 hr. drive manageable with a toddler, Prasad and I decided to stop at Pinetop, Arizona, for the night, before embarking on a 6hr journey to Durango the next day. Mammoth mountains surrounded us as we made our way towards Pinetop. Behind a veil of Cottonwoods and Quaking Aspens we caught glimpses of a stream gushing by. Prickly hot and arid Tucson wasn’t far behind but we had entered an oasis.

 After a night in Pinetop we took the Az-77 state highway for the rest of our drive to Durango. Various shades of green on either side greeted us that misty morning. At Gallup’s “Cracker and Barrel” we had a breakfast of eggs, hash brown casserole and homemade biscuit with a generous spread of butter before getting onto the US-491 N. As we drove on, the land looked parched: grass by the highway looked dry and clumps of bushes attempted to soften the harsh landscape of New Mexico. I was beginning to look forward to the greener pastures of Colorado.

Entering Colorado felt like entering a world of postcards, each scene as or even more picturesque than the one we passed before. Barns with their aging fencing, beautiful lakes reflecting the greens of Pine trees and animals lazing around instead of being confined; We knew we had finally arrived!

A breath of fresh air

 

Medha savoring every moment in a new place.

In Durango we chose to spend the evening beside the Animas River, whose water looked nothing like the dry Santa Cruz River of Tucson. It was swift, had more volume, soothed the ear with its whooshing sound and  seemed to hold cosmetic powers. The locals looked absolutely gorgeous as they sped by on their bikes and sailed the clear waters on rafts and canoes.

To wind down a warm windy evening of leisurely stroll alongside a river we headed to the Steamworks Brewing Company, a bustling bar and eatery known as the “town’s meeting place”. Our Steamworks experience deserves its own post. I’m sure Prasad will take the trouble of a trip to Durango just to relive the time we spent there.

(to be continued…. )

 

Risk

While digging through my journal I found this verse written by Charles Osgood of Sunday Morning Show. I hope you find it as comforting and inspiring  as I did.

It’s one thing to be careful to avoid a nasty fall, 

But apart from that, I must say, I’m not risk averse at all.

Taking risk is a part of life, or so it seems to me.

And nothing that’s worth doing is entirely risk free.

 

We cannot read the future. It’s behind a heavy curtain.

So how things will turn out is never absolutely certain.

And yet we must make choices and through our lives proceed

To either change direction or go where our choices lead.

 

To fall in love with someone is always to take a chance,

But to be afraid to do so would deprive life of romance.

To pick a field of study or set out on a career

is to gamble, yet we do it, moved by passion and not fear.

 

We do not know what will happen or what lies around the bend,

What tomorrow has in store, much less how it will end,

Every time we choose a place to live or work or play,

Or meet someone who may become a good old friend some day.

 

When we take a job or hire someone, invest or make a plan,

We can’t be sure it won’t go wrong because we know it can.

There is the possibility our choices may be wrong,

But we’re all creating our own futures as we go along.

 

Risk does carry danger, and that cannot be ignored,

Yet risk will often carry a commensurate reward.

Though there’s wisdom in restraint and trying not to be

too frisk, if you want to really live, remember life itself is risky.

 

Some say better safe than sorry, but it still can be maintained

that it’s just as true to argue nothing ventured, nothing gained.

 

Attending a Writing Workshop

I was up last night excited about attending a writing workshop in the morning. For a program that was to start at 9 I was at the door a good half hour before. No problem! I had a cup of Tully’s coffee and an e-book for company until the other participants joined me.

I wasn’t prepared for the kind of participants that began arriving moments later. Most of them were senior citizens as I expected. All were elegantly dressed, smart, confident and chatted about with a sense of purpose unlike me who stood with a nervous smile plastered on my face. The moment I spotted the ladies I decided to grab my stuff, myself and my much-needed-coffee and shoot towards my car. But thanks to a few regular attendees who convinced me about the class and the coach being good and fun, I decided to give it a try. Remember, I wrote about living my life in such a way that I didn’t have much to regret? I reminded myself that and seized the golden opportunity.

Once seated my fear got worse. It was time to introduce myself and let everybody know what I expected from the class. My voice, when it did dare come out, sounded unlike mine. It was of a squeaky unsure mouse blurting out that it was open for anything that came its way. I couldn’t believe I’d said that. There was so much I wished to convey: How happy I feel when I write; How excited I was to be there; How much I’d like to see my work published. Just as in other intimidating situations I sat stammering, shivering and idiotically-smiling.

Once everybody began reading out what they’d written since their last session- a devotional prayer, an outline for a novel, an extract of a memoir and a letter written to the coach, Alexis- I felt exposed even as I lost myself in their worlds. I wasn’t half as good as they were! For my writing to stand in their league I’d need many more years of reading, understanding the craft and writing. Hmmmm…. But worrying about my inferior standards wasn’t going to take me anywhere. I shook my dirt off and started absorbing Alexis’s suggestions and ideas on writing a novel (Not that I dream of writing one someday!). I also began paying more attention to what the other participants had written. 

Some stories not only inspired me but moved me to tears. I made up my mind to attend the next workshop just to gain the feeling of inspiration. It keeps me fueled the rest of my day as it did, today. 

My Yoga Journal

Medha was at school; I rushed through chopping up my summer favorites like zucchini and celery, a sprig of mint leaves along with the usual onion, tomato and carrots, throwing them into a large pot that simmered with vegetable stock. It was time for my Yoga class.

Leaving the vegetables to cook thoroughly at a low flame I headed out to my gym. The instructor, Stephanie, hadn’t started the class yet. Her microphone wasn’t working. “I’ll just have to be loud in the Gentle Yoga class”, she remarked.

All of us inhaled deep breaths and began warming up for a grueling routine. I’m still not sure why the class is called “gentle”.

In the Downward Dog pose (Adho Mukha Shvanasana, the original Sanskrit name for the pose, sounds much more elegant than its English counterpart!) with blood rushing into my brain I was struck by a thought: “What am I doing here in a class full of Whites, except brown me of course, learning an ancient Indian practice from an American teacher when I have a few Yoga experts in my own family?”

from tamaradalton.net

As I tried balancing myself in the Vrikshasana (blandly called the “Tree pose”!) the images of my Nana (my maternal grandfather) performing Pranayama, my mom doing the Soorya Namaskara early in the morning and my uncle who claims to have seen Jyothi (light, yeah right!) as he meditated flashed in front of my eyes. Why wasn’t I ready to learn when I had so many teachers to choose from? Was it pure stubbornness or just ignorance of not realizing the value of the resources I had?

In the stance of Veerabhadra II I didn’t feel like a Warrior. Instead, my shoulders sagged and my core felt squishy. All the things I hadn’t done and all the words unsaid came hurtling towards me. I had entered the Zone of Regret.

“Don’t forget to breathe!”, Stephanie reminded us. With a deep breath I was gently brought back to the present. I forgave my younger self. With motherhood I needed Yoga now more than ever. I had to strengthen my tired back and calm my edgy nerves. I was ready to learn and a teacher had shown up.

I lied there in Shavasana resolving to live like I’d have no regrets tomorrow. Someone rightly said, “You’ll seldom experience regret for anything that you’ve done. It is what you haven’t done that will torment you”.

I went back to a home smelling of gently boiling Minestrone soup. Into it I tossed a handful of Fusilli pasta shells and let them cook al dente. After sprinkling some everyday seasoning I ladled some soup into a bowl and sat reading a novel until it was time to pick my daughter from school.

Medha learns to strike a “pose”!

A weekend hike

One Saturday morning Prasad and I, our little girl strapped to his back, went to the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. The temperature was to soar up to a 100F that afternoon, which gave us a couple of hours to hike before the sun was at its fiercest.

When we began at 8, most visitors to the canyon were returning, sweaty and sunburnt. That didn’t scare us regular hikers. The majestic Saguaros, some still spouting spring blossoms on their thorny heads, beckoned us. A mother was spraying sunblock over the bare parts of her family of 4 as each looked away, trying not to be seen. We thanked our cutaneous melanin and walked on.

There was Bear Canyon, Seven Falls and the Sabino Canyon Dam trails; all sounding inviting but requiring more time and courage to walk beneath the roaring sun. Our intention was to wander, to spend some time in the sun-kissed surroundings till one of us decided it was time to head back.

As we walked on the paved road, it looked like we were heading straight into the lap of the Santa Catalina Mountains. Slopes facing the sun looked unforgiving without a speck of sand or a sign of water. The Saguaros and other cacti seemed to have been thrust out of large boulders. Brittlebush and Palo Verdes added a touch of softness and color to the harsh scrublands.

Whenever we hushed ourselves we could hear the gentle, melodic sound of the Sabino creek cascading underneath the thick swamp of mesquite and cottonwood trees. The promise of a break by this oasis on our return kept us motivated to hike on.

We crossed small bridges beneath which water trickled and took several sensory breaks to soak in the beauty and the survival instinct of the desert inhabitants. After a 2.5 mile hike we found a cool spot beside the creek where we could eat our sandwiches. We sat back and enjoyed the music of the birds chirping and cooing and the water rippling.

A bit energized after the meal we decided to get off the beaten path and walk in the well-shaded mesquite Bosque. It wasn’t easy; we hopped carefully over slippery boulders, ducked under the branches of cottonwood trees and tread lightly on the soft, sinking sand. Only after we’d walked a mile or so did we realize that a few hops had taken us to the other side of the creek. To get back on the right track we had to wade through knee-deep water. But there was no right track. The other side had turned hilly. There was nothing to do but forge ahead. We scrambled past thick bushes, careful not to disturb the rattlesnakes, if there were any. Soon, we approached a clearing and to our relief found a trail post.

After crossing a puddle of water we met another hiker who warned us of mountain lion sightings in that area. He asked us to make a lot of noise when we walked. So we began singing, Prasad excited at the prospect of spotting the lion and I, with dread.

We heard other voices and followed them to a manmade structure shaded by mesquite trees. It was the Sabino Canyon dam, at the foot of which people sat and played by a pool of water.

After pausing to steady myself, we headed back, now on a marked trail. That took us along the slopes of the mountains amid thorny Saguaros, exposing us to the blazing sun. By the time we reached the visitor center we were drenched in sweat, crimson-red and had worked up a big appetite.

Genius- born or made?

When browsing for something interesting and insightful to read in my precious few spare minutes I came across this blog whose author helps people understand how we learn and how we can do it better. So, naturally, I was hooked. One of the articles “Do you have a rage to learn?” appeared to jump out and question me; I decided to probe into it.

Scott Barry Kaufman, its writer, claims at the opening of the article that our traits don’t come pre-packaged at birth. I was shocked. I’d always assumed we weren’t born with a clean slate. Apparently we are. According to Mr. Kaufman, a psychologist at NYU, the rate at which our abilities develop differs us from one another. So, a prodigy becomes one due to her “rage to learn”.

He also adds this- “Genius involves figuring out who you are, and owning yourself. It’s about amplifying your best traits and compensating for the rest. Geniuses grab life by the horns, and persevere amidst setbacks. They take control of their lives, instead of waiting for others to open up doors. In this very important sense, greatness is completely, utterly, made.”– about Geniuses which I had to quote instead of para-phrasing as I found it very inspiring.

If a Genius is made and a Genius one becomes by owning oneself and being the best one can be, it means there is hope for my little girl. Medha can be made a Genius too, that is, if I let her be what she really wants to be and accept the path which she chooses to tread on. Now will I be able to refrain from pushing my own unfulfilled dreams upon her tiny head? About that I can’t be absolutely certain.

I HATE the heat!

This is an assignment I submitted last summer for a creative writing workshop.. Read and Enjoy and please do come visit us. Tucson isn’t as bad as I have described it to be. Or maybe it IS bad but only in the peak of summer. Enjoy….

“It’s  going  to  be  warm  and sunny  today.”, the  weather  reporter  announced. Now what’s new about that, I wondered. We live in Tucson; of course it’s going to be warm and sunny.

October is fast approaching, yet I see no respite from this heat. When the temperature goes a whopping 110F or more it feels like I’m engulfed by flames the moment I walk out the door. And the insides of my poor, rusty car reaches a comfortable cool just as I’m about to reach my destination.

Wet clothes dry in minutes when hung out. My patio is sizzling hot I wonder if I can crack eggs and make omelets right outside or probably on my neighbor’s bald head.

 Enter Tucson on a dreadful summer day and you feel like you have walked into an oven. Once the temperature setting is turned up, there’s no reducing it. You emerge toasted and scarlet and in my case, foul-mouthed. When the temperature soars, I find myself flaring like the ball of fire that blazes outside. Then, I do nothing but scream at my poor husband if something is out of place and sometimes I admit, even at my baby. I begin cursing the weather, this city and eventually, my life.

I hate being cooped up at home . My daughter hates it even more than I do. She’s 15months old and loves the outdoors. Our Dora the Explorer’s index finger always points at the door commanding me to let her out. When I yield to her demand and do go outside we come home with our complexion turned dark-chocolatey from the usual cinnamony. Not to mention the dehydration we both end up suffering with. I’m always anxious about the construction workers toiling under the sun. I can’t fathom why they aren’t summoned to work early in the morning or late in the evening giving them a break when the temperatures hit their peak.

The relentless heat doesn’t let my potted plants survive either. If they start incarcerating plant-killers I am sure to be prosecuted first. I have lost count of the exotic flowering plants and  herbs I left to shrivel and die outside. I am barely capable of raising my girl, forget something that’s a different species altogether. Now our yard is full of hardy, low maintenance cacti and succulents that require less water, thank god, but bear no fruit or flower!

My daughter and I frequent the parks in the evenings where we both let out our pent-up frustration. We roll on the grass, race each other and enjoy the swing and slide. And dream about Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.Winters are pleasant and magical here. I hope to make the most of that short, beautiful time before the monstrous summer descends upon us once again.