To Babati, my brother

It is my brother’s Birthday today – July 29th . He would have been 34 now if he were alive. He passed away when he was 18, and I was 16.

I called up my parents today – of course we  did not talk about my brother’s Bday at all. No, we stopped talking about it a long time back in the family – maybe because it is too painful.

It is astonishing how painful it still is to think about him.

Today, I was listing to this podcast on my iphone. It was a TEDtalk on classical music – the composer played Chopin, and as he did he asked the audience to remember somebody in their lives who had been lost. I remembered my brother. As the music played, I remembered our childhood together.

The brother who had, at the age of 6, saved me. Once when my dress had caught fire, and he beat it with his hands till the fire died out. Once when I was caught in the middle of a road in between traffic, and did not know what to do. The brother who I had fought with endlessly.  Who, when I cried because I did not top my class in my 10th exams, carried me in his arms, and scolded me for being silly! Who introduced me to Bertrand Russell – which he was reading at the age of 13 – God only knows why.

This is to the prankster – who once sent me a postcard from Ghy to Nagaon with these cryptic words – Bhanti, Bald is Beautiful! I wasnt quite sure what he meant – when he landed up in Nagaon with his head shaven off.

To the guy who was just beginning to fall for girls – and have girls fall for him. He was 6 ft tall, after all! I suspect he was seeing somebody, though he wouldnt tell me.

This is for the guy who let me, his pesky sister, come up to his study room, and sleep for the entire evening. And take a photo and show it to the whole family to show what the studious girl did!

And for the guy who would get me into the cricket games with his buddies. 10 guys, and a little girl learning to bat.

This is to that brother, who I loved more than anybody or anything. And who I miss more than anything else!

Wildflower and meadows hike in Rainier

Appapappa woke me up at the ungodly hour of 5 – to go to Mt. Rainier. Okay, so I am supposed to be the psycho one here – the one who people run away from because I am always suggesting hikes and walks  and such things – ask any of my friends who have had to suffer through this. It was a surprise when Appapappa decided he was going to jump onto the nature lover train, and terrorize fellow human beings into early morning hikes.

So we get up at 5, pack up N, and take off. We’re on the mountain top at 8 – I sleep through some of it, N sleeps through most of it. When we reach there, there are 2 cars parked at the parking lot, and the cafe is closed. There was fog all around and even hint of a rain. Having come this far, we decided to take a chance, so bundled N into more warm gear, packed her on the backpack and started walking on the trail. A short one – 1.5 hours. 

I am so glad we decided to do the hike. The sun peeped out through the clouds, and the fog swirled around us. We walked through alpine meadows with pretty wildflowers, and streams melting from the snow. We had to walk across some snow-fields, but that added to the fun. I got mad at appapappa coz he kept slipping and laughing( remember, he had N on his back)! Anyway, all in all, it was really a very nice hike. Oh forgot to mention – our original intention was to see the sunrise on Rainier – do you have any idea what that means? You have to get up at 3:30 in the morning and drive there to see the sunrise – mad about nature I may be, but this is probably even beyond me. Besides, it was too foggy today to see Rainier anyway.

So anyway, a nice hike all in all. And we’ve decided to come again whenever the weather promises to be sunny.

Its not always a bed of roses

So here it is.. bringing up a baby is difficult. That is the plain, bare truth. It is even frustrating at times. Appapappa, the most gentlest and patient human being I’ve seen, gets frustrated too!!

Today N cried for an hour before finally falling asleep. Appa tried to soothe her, nothing worked. She just bawled and bawled and bawled.. for no apparent reason. And finally fell asleep at 9:30. I lay next to her in bed for 2 hours trying to get her to sleep, with thoughts of all the work that is pending that I have to do as soon as she falls asleep.

It does get difficult at times. And N is an easy kid to bring up most times. So guys & gals who are on the road to parenthood – it is not always a bed of roses.

Best Indian Food in Seattle

I am not exaggerating in this post. People who know me and Appapappa well will also know that he is the one who exaggerates – not me. I am the one who has a level head on her shoulders.. ahem.

So again, I am not exaggerating when I say I had the best Indian food in North America. At a little known, unadvertised ( is that a word) place in Seattle, Capitol Hill. Called Travellers. Its run by this German guy who did a PhD from Lucknow, on, hold your breath – Indian Politics. I had a little chat with him, in which I skilfully avoided the topic of Indian politics ( you know why, its not a topic on which I can hold my own in a conversation), and steered the topic towards – what else – two things I know well – food and travel. This guy has apparently travelled everywhere in India except the North East – and he cooks the food in the restaurant.

It is a testimony to his cooking skills that Appa licked the plate till it shone. I took a photo for proof – here it is.

I know where I will be going every Sunday afternoon for lunch.

Shadow of a sword

I have been reading this book “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. I know nothing about the author, and have never heard of the book, but when I started reading it, I was intrigued. It is about the author’s discovery of herself, through her travels in Italy, India and Indonesia, where she learns about “Eating, Praying and Loving”.

The author quotes Virginia Woolf in her book. Here’s what she says: ” Across the broad continent of a woman’s life falls the shadow of a sword”. On one side of the sword is tradition, order – on the other side, it is an uncharted path. All is confusion – nothing is known.. Nothing follows a regular course.

I know what she is saying. I am am flirting along the edge of that sword – wanting to cross over, but afraid of the uncharted territory on the other side.

The feeling of flirting with danger is familiar – I have experienced it before – when I went rafting on the Ganges river in India. I jumped from the raft to float along the river, to experience the excitement – but I would not let go of the rope that held me to the raft.  I wanted to feel the excitement and sense of freedom from floating all by myself down the river, but I coudl not bring myself to let go of the raft – until some friends grabbed me and I did not have a choice.

Today is not all that different. I am hanging onto to the raft of corporate life – refusing to let go, and hence unable to experience the thrill, excitement and joy of choosing my own path. Scared to leave the raft.

One day soon, I will let go of the rope. And float freely down the river.

Summer time in Seattle

Seattle has to be the most gorgeous place in summer. Picture this – blue skies ( or should I say Azure), reflected in the waters of the lake, beautiful houses on the hillside, roses blooming and the warm smell of grass mingling with the  heady smell of the roses. And to be cycling along the lake on a day like this – thats my idea of the best time!

The whole of last week has been great weather – and I have been playing truant from office 🙂 Went for a 10 mile bike ride one of the days last week, on the Lake Sammamish Trail – which joins Burke Gilman trail ( from Woodinville to Kenmore). It was a 2 hour ride, and my behind is feeling it even now, but was worth it. The trail first follows Lake Sammamish, right upto Bothell –  passing by nice parks, and open farmland. It then joins Burke Gilman trail somewhere near Bothell and the scenery changes – suddenly you see lots of houses with boats moored on their piers. There’s also a great public golf course along the way. Then a few factories belching sulphuric vapor – and finally the Kenmore seaplanes hangar. That was where I turned back.

Looking forward to getting to Seattle on the Burke Gilman like we did the summer before last!

TeachIndia initiative

TeachIndia is a laudable initiative from the Times of India group to get together volunteer who want to teach  and NGOs who need teachers. I for one am a believer that education can make a difference – at least it can given under privileged children a shot at achieving something.

There;s an interesting article there about Dr. Narendra Jadhav, Chief Economist of the RBI – a story of how education made a difference in his life. From growing up a Dalit child with limited access to education, to being the Chief Economist of RBI. Read the full story here 

Putting in the volunteer sign-up page here so anybody who is interested in finding out more can get to it.

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Carrying your Baby

I love carrying N around whereever I go. Small walks our house in the nice warm summer months, long hikes up the Cascade mountains near Seattle, shopping in the mall.

Recently N outgrew her Baby Bjorn – we now carry her around in a baby back-pack. I miss her warm comfort and nuzzling – its not really the same carrying her in the back-pack. N does not seem to mind though – she looks around with as much curiosity and snoozes as happily as she used to in the Bjorn.

Here are some interesting pictures of how women around the world carry their babies. The black and white one is an American Indian woman carrying her baby in a Papoose. Then the one with the Llama – you guessed it – from Peru. And the colorful one from China. And then there is me and N in her backpack, and Ma with a much smaller N in her Baby Bjorn.

Heck, if these women can climb up and down hills and go about daily chores with their babies on their backs, surely, I can lug N around!