Abstract Chatter


This winter
January 22, 2016, 1:24 pm
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Chennai, India this winter:

Where the scent of jasmine, incense, and cow dung are equally ubiquitous.

Where women let their hair down in todays 89F January weather.

Where the ever-so-common jasmine gets substituted with marigold.

Where wearing shoes are optional.

Where teaching a toddler animals and the noises they make becomes an easy task because dogs, cats, birds, monkeys, 12615630_10107115021656440_4351940634171016184_oand cows grace our sidewalks and streets.

Where parcel, takeaway, box, and “to-go” can either be understood, or not understood depending upon the tone and accent in which they are said.

Where the smiles are grandeur.

Where pomegranates are rich in hue.

Where samosas are piping hot and lassis are just. right.

Where love is in the air.



Through the glass window
November 25, 2015, 12:50 pm
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Cyclones. Monsoons. Rain. Or as the Google weather app simply states: Thunderstorms. Whatever the terminology, it’s no joke. We somehow missed the season’s torrential downpours, the flooded basements, and the internet and power outages with our back-to-back travels to Ooty and Hyderabad. But today, through our tinted car windows– I saw it all. Warnings were issued to stay indoors. To not commute as a majority of the roads were flooded, but we were on our way back from the airport, so I clearly did not take heed.

Here I am with a screaming toddler going on hour number 2 1/2 headed home, as I saw people pulled over trying to wait out the rain under delicate awnings drinking their steaming cups of tea. I saw folks jumping off buses to walk home. I saw people waiting at 9pm for any form of public transportation, but by the looks of it, no bus was going to make it. Cabs asking for quadruple the regular fair. You saw waves of water being pushed over the sidewalks by the car’s movements. You couldn’t tell where the street ended or where the sidewalk began.

But the men on the motorcycles smiled back at Edris as he waved ‘hi’ to every. single. bike. that drove by. They entertained his innocent gestures.  They held their umbrellas tight, tied a plastic bag on their head, rolled up their pants, and powered through the knee deep water. Monsoons couldn’t stop the smiles. It didn’t stop life from moving on.

And with my shelter, heat, electricity, and sense of safety, I saw it all.



Collaborate and Listen
October 27, 2015, 11:58 am
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No idea why this is the tile of my entry– I just can’t seem to get this song out of my head. $1 says you know exactly which song I’m talking about without saying another word.

The support after posting my last blog has been touching. And it’s made me think about all the things to be thankful for. Despite being shafted, I can say that most of my experiences in Chennai have been refreshing. In what other community would people call you over to dinner (twice), while your husband is out of town so you can eat while they watch your baby, or provide you interviewing advice at the drop of a dime, or give you expensive eczema cream to try out, or let you borrow their car while they’re out of the country, or offer to babysit in case our housekeeper doesn’t show up so you can go to an interview, or follow-up to make sure baby E is feeling ok, or invite you out on play dates? The list can truly go on, and it’s only been three months.

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Bollywood pole kinda morning

Sure, I needed a moment to vent. Needed a space to validate my emotions. To acknowledge that it’s all part of a natural cycle. Not having a support system or your family around brings about it’s challenges, but I’m forever grateful to have these folks around — making this transition just a little bit easier on us all.

I hope to pay it forward in any way that I know how. Now that I have my bearings (kinda) straight.

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.” –Buddha



Feeling feelings
October 16, 2015, 12:33 pm
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It’s just one of those days. But maybe, I just needed one of these days. Tried on suits for an interview and still haven’t been able to fit into my pre pregnancy clothes. I’m so very far from that goal. Damn you, carrot cake.

Tried to find a new dinner spot, and went the address that was listed online but alas, it was nowhere to be found. Wandering the streets in “full and full” traffic as we breathed in exhaust fuming from the cars and tuk-tuks. With no lunch, all I wanted was a nice dinner. And to find the place easily. It’s days like these I wish I could communicate with people. To ask for directions, to ask for the nearest known addres12140085_10106764575997350_4217371576734353640_os so we could make our way to the restaurant. None of this happened so we wandered into one of our usual spots. I had a crappy salad with (bone-in) chicken. It was my first salad here, and all I could think about was who this chef was that decided to make a salad with bone-in chicken… I miss a good, fresh salad.

And just feeling defeated as you see everyone else around you adjusting well. With their permeant cars, drivers, cooks, and nannies. I hope someone comes along to help me take good care of my sweet baby E. Whoever it is, will feel so loved. Because that baby can love.

Three months into our life here in Chennai, and I feel like such a downer. But, maybe three months in, this is where I am meant to be. Looking forward to the higher parts of this roller coaster.



Sitting here with nothing but my thoughts
October 1, 2015, 10:34 am
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Roads of Chennai

Roads of Chennai

Our long weekend is here. It’s Gandhi’s birthday on October 2nd. A champion of nonviolent civil disobedience.

It was interesting to read the following excerpt from Gandhi, A Spiritual Journey: 

There is no such thing as “Gandhism”, and I do not want to leave any sect after me. I do not claim to have originated any new principle or doctrine. I have simply tried in my own way to apply the eternal truths to our daily life and problems…The opinions I have formed and the conclusions I have arrived at are not final. I may change them tomorrow. I have nothing new to teach the world. Truth and nonviolence are as old as the hills.

I would typically be more excited but husband is away gallivanting through the streets of India. So here I am with Edris for a few days. I’ve fed him, gave him his milk, played “Goodnight Moon” and put him down to bed. That was an hour an half ago. So here I am just sitting down with my thoughts, scrolling through Facebook, reading random titles of random articles on twitter acting like by reading a title, I’ve become an expert on the subject.

The "pushing rickshaw with your foot" is a thing!

The “pushing rickshaw with your foot” is a thing!

Today, I saw a rickshaw driving pushing another rickshaw driver with his foot. Let me see if I can help to visualize this. Imagine two rickshaws – one almost in front of the other. I say almost because there are no lanes, so you tend to be more perpendicular than straight due to all the traffic. The rickshaw driver in the back was using his leg, that’s right– his leg, to push the rickshaw in front. I imagine this went on for a while. It was kind of brilliant. There’s so much more force in this method than trying to push it with your hands by foot.

How privileged am I to be feeling hopeless as I read the stories of refugees in Europe and elsewhere. …sharing pages on Facebook, praying for them from a distance, reading their stories and tearing… With any privilege comes obligation, and I don’t think I’ve met mine.



Wanderings
September 22, 2015, 9:23 am
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I totally get when I hear people who travel often say they feel as if they’re a wanderer. It feels as if you’re just floating along– slowly loosing connection with the past, but somehow trying to plant your roots in the present.

I feel grateful to have been able to participate in a local photowalk in which we spent about 2 1/2 hours wandering the streets of a neighborhood in Chennai. We started at a temple, took smaller streets and alleyways toward the fish market and ended up close to the Zion church. The walk was geared toward photographers– of which I am not. I simply wanted to wander. Without a 16 month old attached to my chest. It was magnificent to see. What better way to view the city. It’s as if India was purposefully trying to set up it’s country for you to be able to take pictures at every corner. Everything is picturesque. But not in a way that one might typically imagine something being picturesque– there weren’t stunning views, or snapshots filled with crisp autumn colors, or with snow capped mountains. You just saw life. You saw the struggle, the smiles, the markets, the rituals.

And as a wanderer, I saw what photographers saw. I saw what captured their attention. How they framed their pictures. Their techniques. Changing the aperture to adjust to the lighting.

An art that I’m beginning to appreciate so much more.

“It is through living that we discover ourselves, at the same time as we discover the world around us.”
― Henri Cartier-Bresson

Let the discovery begin.

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A continuation of random thoughts
September 15, 2015, 12:37 pm
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Every time I step outside and see women driving their mopeds or motorcycles, I get scared that their long dupattas flapping in the wind or their flowing silk saris will get stuck in the wheels or gears. I see this scene playing out so vividly in my head, but alhumdulliah it doesn’t seem to happen. Somehow, everyone manages.

I’m grateful for social media as it’s made this transition that much easier. I feel as if I’m right there with family and friends whether it’s through a few quick pictures on snapchat or longer conversations on viber.

As many people as there are in this country, I hardly see pregnant women. I wouldn’t be out in this heat either.

The colors here are so vibrant. The buildings, the flowers, the clothes, the chutneys, the temples. When I first arrived, I knew there was color but it all blended together. Now I actually see the color — and it’s in everything.