If someone asked me what I did during the pandemic lockdown, I would say I survived (well so far!). These past months have been quite challenging for so many people. Initial time sounded fun with WFH option but Covid started impacting in many different ways.
Ims beloved grandma passed away suddenly, he had spent much of childhood with his grandparents and was distraught as one generation got lost with her. Then my close friend’s dad passed away here so close to home, it was unexpected and a huge blow.
Health issues, Job losses, families staying apart, everyone seems to be battling hard to sustain. I’m trying my best to help friends and family in whatever way I can but sometimes I feel so helpless and pray God to ease our struggles or give strength to deal with this.
I’m also thankful my family/friends are safe, and hope for better tomorrow for everyone. Spending time with family and gardening has been great respite. Urging all to stay safe and stay connected, we are all in this together.
The first camping trip we did was when Ani was 1yr old. It was great but she was little and needed more care back then. I was looking forward to the next camping trip eagerly and we finally were able to join the group this year. We were 15 adults and 10 kids of different age groups.
It was a welcome getaway and very relaxing. We had so much fun playing with water, barbecue-ing, living in the wild. We saw some deers and turkeys in the late night. I had an exhausting week and wanted to sleep till late. But the lovely sounds of birds woke me up by 5! We had the customary campfire, and took turns watching the kids, cooking and playing games.
One particular moment that stayed with me and I wanted to pen down is I felt a little emotional watching Ani playing and baby-talking with a 3 month old kid. I could not believe when my little baby grew up so much to do baby-talking!
It has been a year since we bought our home. It was scary initially to live in an independent home but we slowly got used to it. We have a beautiful park nearby and I also like the lovely Indian community formed here. We bought lot of furniture and have somewhat filled the house. We have a huge backyard and Ims loves gardening. He planted some veggies and fruits, they come out really well in Summer. There are strawberry, almond, apple, orange plants all in growing stages. Below are few pictures.
I hate it when this happens. We had an Iftar party to attend and as usual we slept late in the night. I had to push Ani to wake up in the morning for school. Kept my patience and cajoled her to brush, use loo, dress up. And she was ready in 15 mins, thats my girl!
We travel together and mostly have breakfast in the car and read books. All good. We reach her school and thats it, she doesn’t want to go. I was getting late for work and screamed at her to hurry. Ims hugged her and brought her out. I said sorry and carried her inside. She was talking to me fine.
And just when we were leaving she started wiping her tears but also said bye. We felt so guilty and ran back to console her. She calmed down in sometime and hugged us tight. Teacher distracted her and then we left.
I feel so bad for screaming at her, she is so adorable. 😦
After completing my training in Mysore, it was time to receive all our posting locations. Out of a class of 100, only 3 of us friends were posted to Chennai. VD exchanged with another guy for Mangalore. That left me and G. She desperately tried for her hometown but failed. While my dad suggested me to go ahead and work in Chennai. People empathized with us, I heard some girl in another class was inconsolable as she was posted to Chennai. That was my first brush with Chennai. I had no knowledge about the city but was glad I had some company atleast.
I went on to live there for 4+ years and had a good time experiencing life on my own, exploring the city, and working for the first time. I slowly made friends and lot of them. I met Ims here too and we wandered around the city a lot then. I totally enjoyed my stay in Chennai, the city gradually grew on me. I have beautiful memories of the city, one of my roommate S was from Kerala and knew great local hangouts.
My SIL lives in Chennai now and we have the chance of visiting it again during our India visits. This particular trip we had some days at our disposal as we had to be there for my visa interview. We took the opportunity to roam around the Kovalam beach during sunrise, drive around Mahabalipuram, eat at Absolute BBQ, shop at the new malls.
Chennai is now close to my heart for many reasons. I was once thinking which city I would choose to live in if we moved back to India and I think Chennai is good choice. It has the regular buzz of the metro and also the option of calmness.
One of the best part of marrying Ims who is from a different region is I get to try different kinds of foods. I’m from Odisha and Ims is from Andhra. He has a sweet tooth and loves the sweets we get in Odisha, mainly the Roshogolla and Chennagaja. Actually not just him, his entire family is crazy about them. They make sure to take back a big batch of fresh sweets whenever they visit. And they are surprised with the low prices. Ims also likes the mixed vegetable stir fries (bhaja) my Mom makes and my sister in law’s favorite are the aloo/anda chops. I somehow did not learn much of Odia recipes else would love to cook the traditional mustard Fish curry for them.
While me and Mom simply love spicy Andhra food. There are some local food I had not heard of earlier, like Dalcha, combination of Vada-Chicken curry, Cauliflower pickle, Fish pulusu, Dosakaya mutton etc. I stayed with my In-laws in the initial years of marriage while Ims was in US and I was working in Chennai. I was curious and learnt some of the recipes from my mother in law, some of them are quick like their seafood dishes when compared to our preparation. I like the dash of coconut in all the curries. She makes sure to send us her homemade pickles, podis, chilli powder, garam masala etc. I haven’t bought them in years.
Food is also a good binding factor or ice breaker. I like asking for recipes from Mom and MIL, they love to give out the recipe with such excitement.
After moving on, I kind of missed my previous workplace. I missed the liveliness but I had my reasons to leave too. I recently came to know couple of people I worked with closely, left too. That affected me and got me thinking. I suddenly did not miss the place as much. I miss the people but the place is not same as before for me, I no longer felt the longing. We meet lot of people in life and fondly remember few of them. It is very unlikely we cross paths again but we wish to. Have you had any instances of such unexpected encounters?
Anyway, we recently went to India for my sister’s wedding. It went great and we had lot of fun. All of us siblings were together after a long time and had a blast spending time with each other. I loved all the shopping this time, there are lot of new fashion trends and I got handful of dresses this time. I really liked the collections at Manyavar and bought some beautiful ethnic wear from there. I had some visa hiccups but all went smooth by God’s grace. The vacation went by very soon and we are back to our daily routine. Ani enjoyed too, she is starting to register our family relations now. We sometimes give her a hindi word and ask her to guess the meaning and she surprises us with her answers.
I can’t believe it has been more than 2 years I have posted anything.
My previous job took most of my time, I did learn and enjoy it but there was less of personal and family time, so I switched jobs again last month.
Now where do I begin. Life is going great as usual with amazing friends and family.
We bought a home in the bay area recently and it has been one hell of an experience, the open house visits to putting down offers to finally getting our offer accepted and making some improvements and moving in. Phew! It was overwhelming and very nervous or scary time. But now we are all settled and absolutely love our home.
Ani is 3 years old now and is doing great at her pre-school. It is very fascinating to see her grow-up, be curious, understand. Some times she feels like a mini-me and is adorable. She makes us so happy. I’ll try and be regular at posting my thoughts here.