Hello there!

It's our favorite time of the year when we get to get to share all the humdrum, self congratulations, and trivia from our life in 2016 and get ready to beckon 2017. So here goes....
Williamsburg, VA, August 2016 - At the Guillotine
Taran and Roshan are 8th graders at Newark Academy. They continue to play chess and tennis but their new undertaking is to make Nidhi a better parent. Hence, they give her plenty of opportunities to practice what she preaches i.e. acknowledgement of the situation in which they have landed themselves and compassion (breathe in..... breathe out....). Now, Nidhi has a new solution for all their misdemeanors. Each time they break a rule, they are supposed to learn and cook a new dish. As a result, the boys have a decent repertoire of items ranging from freshly grated ginger tea to pasta to vegan orange cake. Lesson 1: Every cloud has a silver lining! The boys, however, prefer teamwork, and are trying to bring their dad under the jurisdiction of this new rule of the Idnani household hoping that given the frequency of Ritesh's offenses, very soon he will be cooking a seven course meal. Amen!

Oh! Lest we forget the self praise....Taran tied for third place in the North American Youth Chess Championship held in Canada while Roshan tied for the fifth place in the US Chess Nationals held in Tennessee. They also made it to the "A" team of Middle School Tennis at their school and remain undefeated. They also lead the Middle School Chess Club.

2016 has been wonderful for Nidhi. Apart from all the private Reiki and meditation sessions she has been doing for years, she launched group meditation classes for adults and children. She also leads meditation sessions at various forums/ schools/ events and spreads awareness of Reiki. She continued to attend several spiritual retreats this year, and built on her knowledge of energy healing by completing many courses. Check her website and her business page on Facebook (Here's the call to action button http://www.ireikinow.com and https://www.facebook.com/ireikinow/
...Once an MBA, forever an MBA....so what if you are on a spiritual  journey now :) This is your chance to do good karma by liking and following the page. Lesson 2 - What goes around, comes around so go like that FB page, now or else..... :)

Rutgers Half Marathon - April 2016
This year brought interesting career options for Ritesh. His new employer, Tech Mahindra has bequeathed him with plenty of opportunities to travel. We miss him terribly when he is away (trust me, driving the kids back and forth from school/ activities is a back breaking job). Fortunately, FaceTime and Skype ensures that the boys continue to roll their eye at him when he tries to help them with math. We are so glad the boys ensure consistency lest he would have withdrawal symptoms. Lesson 3 - to be in your children's memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today.....so what if that means teaching them geometry while they whine.
Hiking on the Old Appalachian Trail, VA- July 2016

Through the year, we loved hosting and visiting friends and family across the globe. We also travelled a bit. Spring Break was spent in a cottage in the Poconos, where we spent time with cousins playing foosball, air hockey, hiking, and enjoying at the Kalahari water park. We attended our first "family spiritual retreat" in the Catskills, NY, in the spring. The boys also visited Boston as a trip from school. Summer was wonderful ! The boys enjoyed their first chess sleep away camp in Connecticut. We created beautiful memories in Virginia Beach (Nidhi had to be rescued by life guards at a water park out there - the water was 3 feet deep !!!!) and Maryland with our extended family and friends. We soaked in the natural wonder of Luray Caverns in Shenandoah Valley, hiked the Appalachian Trail, zip lined on the Blue Ridge mountains, and went back in time touring the house, garden and grounds of Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. We hiked the trails and battlefields of Harpers Ferry, a town in West Virginia, that exchanged hands 8 times between the Union and Confederate forces during the American Civil War. We continued to experience the history of America by visiting Jamestown and Williamsburg. We made a quick stop at Detroit en route to Windsor, Canada. Windsor has a pretty waterfront that culminates in the 1929 American suspension bridge across the Detroit River between USA and Canada. In the winter break, we toured Nashville, Tennessee and then found ourselves back in Canada to spend the holidays with family. We also made several visits to NYC -  we watched "Wicked", visited museums in the City, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge (and attempted to pose as Shahrukh Khan of Kal Ho Na Ho) and played hero (Roshan saved a little baby's life on the streets of downtown) !

This year we end with a few awards for the family. In no order of priority, here are the awards:

Zip lining - Blue Ridge Mountains, VA, July 2016
- "The Most Rested Person award" to Ritesh for remaining horizontal on the couch while awake and then effortlessly falling off to sleep at any and all times.

- "The Dedication award" goes to Roshan for repeatedly watching the same chess interviews on YouTube and binge watching "Fuller House" and "Friends". He has now memorized the entire script.

- "The Agility award" goes to Taran for deftly switching the screen from video games to "Canvas" (Newark Academy's scheduling application) when Mom is around.

- "The New Lexicon award" to Nidhi for formulating her own own wordlist. "A" for acceptance (of the three men in her life), "B" for blessings (God, grant me the serenity to accept the the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference).

Feel free to send us your congratulatory messages on these awards. We thrive on applause!

Wishing you and your loved ones good health, good luck, and lots of happiness in 2017. May you always take time to enjoy the simple pleasures in life !

The Idnani Family

Hello there,

It’s that time of the year again when I pen down the sojourns of the Idnani family in the year that is passing by. This year, I take a break from self-inflicted tradition, wear my parental hat and share my observations and hope for parenting 11 year olds.

                                 The latest inmates ;)
@ Olympic Museum, Lake Placid, NY June 2015

As we wrap up 2015, I observe the growth in my sons, in all spheres – intellectual, physical and emotional. Often, anything we say is responded to (No, I did not say “answered back”) in clear, concise language loaded with examples from our own lives such as, “How can you ask us to not use our phone during meals when dad reads CNN on his phone during meal time?” and the latest one, “Holidays are for down time. The very meaning of the term “holiday” means that you are exempt from work; as opposed to a working day, hence logically, we will spend our time playing, watching movies and hanging out with friends and family this holiday season.” Take that, mom and dad!!!!! What was I thinking when I enrolled my boys for chess in the first place - that they will use their analytical and logical abilities only for the board game and the rest of time they will function like mini robots, suspending their cognitive abilities and other brain functions and operating in an automated mode????

Well, over the years I have come to the conclusion that as much as I, or for that matter, many parents, expose their children to the ways of the world, sports, arts, culture, travels etc. and hope that our child blossoms into this exceptional child possessing a brilliant mind replete with irenic qualities, promoting peace, love and joy around the world, we want that brilliance to be subdued in the area of responding to their parents commands and instructions. Hence, when I say, “Taran, please eat your veggies before you eat the bread”, he will not only obey my command, he will oblige me with a beatific smile and with a response that goes like, “Of course, mom!” Of course, it is understood that my commands are ALWAYS well intentioned, based on research and on my life experiences. With this in mind, I am documenting the 10 things that I wish my children follow in 2016 and for the years to come. Taran and Roshan, this is for you….

  1. Mom is always right – this is rule no. 1. You have to hardcode it into your system. No matter what/when/where/how/why, mom is always right! When mom feels indulgent, she will change this rule to “Mom and dad are always right”. She has the vetoing power. ALWAYS! 
    August 2015
  2. Courage – This is the force that makes our life brilliant. Be fearless! Tread forward courageously. Should you fail or lose, pick yourself up, applaud yourself for trying and move on. Remember that fortune favors the bold and the brave. Set goals and challenge yourself.
  3. Enjoy learning – Grades are a byproduct of knowledge. Enjoy learning for the sake of learning and knowledge/opening up your eyes and mind; not for the sake of grades. Keep trying new activities and exploring different subjects. May you be a lifelong student, always learning something new every single day. May you be the “Rancho” of the movie “3 idiots”!
  4. Time management – The most precious resource we have is time. Don’t procrastinate. Don’t wait for the last day of a two week project to make your science model. Be a man of action – State the problem, find a solution, and solve the problem/ task at hand. 
  5. Be in the moment - Multitasking is what your dad and I were taught at business school. However, we are spending time and money in our 40s trying to unlearn what we learned in our 20s ;) When you think you are multitasking, you are rapidly moving from one task to another, as a result, not paying 100% attention to either of the two tasks in hand. It kind of reminds me of the time you switch screens between your homework assignment and Marble Blast or V0.2.0 the moment you see either of your parents arrive into the room. There is no way you will get “Gold time” if you keep switching screens. So, pay 100% attention to what you are doing and be mindful. Squeeze the present for all it’s worth. When studying, gather all the knowledge you can. When singing or playing the violin, perform as if no one is watching you. When playing chess/ tennis, play as if there is no tomorrow. When playing Madden Mobile, play as if you are playing to get an elite player J
  6. Get Bored – I wish you times where you feel you have nothing to do. This is the time for you to reflect, to introspect, to think and to just be. Only once you know who you are, can you improve yourself. Have a relationship with yourself. You cannot forge a bond with anyone, if you cannot connect and bond with yourself. 
  7. Technology – Don’t let it distract and enslave you; instead master it. Use it to connect with others, to inform yourself and to widen your horizon but keep it away during homework/ work time. Wonder aloud! And don’t ever replace wonder with Google. Before you Google anything, spend time thinking through the answer. Further, you really don’t need a phone at a party. Socialize with others - not with the phone. If possible, one day a week or a weekend every season, go on a technology free diet. You will be pleasantly surprised how uplifting and relaxing it feels.
  8. Recharge your battery – No, not your phone. I meant YOUR battery. Read a book, go for a run, breathe deeply, be present in the moment. Do whatever it takes to clear your head and calm yourself. Live your life from the inside out. Don’t let Darth Vader get the better of you. Instead, be the Jedi that uses the force for constructive purposes.  
  9. Give space for dissent – Well, I already know that you enjoy a good argumentJ But what I am really referring to here is treating feedback as a gift. Wouldn’t it be lovely to accept it in the “low lunge” yoga pose (chest open, shoulders relaxed and hands joined to heart) especially when mom is giving you feedback? And before you express your dissent here, remember Rule no. 1 - mom is always right! 
  10. October 2015
  11. Family and friends are precious – I thoroughly enjoy all the attention and affection you shower on me and everyone else. I hope you continue to laugh aloud with friends and family, live precious moments, be with them in good and bad times. Don’t let life get so busy that you let its beauty and mystery pass you by. 

I end this note with the hope that you will practice these in action and in interaction as you journey through life. The more attention you pay to these qualities/ points, the more it becomes an integral part of you. And I also hope that I can practice what I preach :)

Love always,

Happy holidays and a happy 2016 to all our friends and family. May the force be with you!

Ritesh, Nidhi, Taran and Roshan

A TOAST - adieu 2014, welcome 2015!

To friends and family, for always being there.

To my parents for being your usual effervescent selves, your “normal” is a constant source of inspiration.

To my father, for pampering me every single day with your “adrak wali chai” (ginger tea).

To my mother, for piping hot and delicious food! Lucky me! ;-)

To Lake George, our spring destination, for the incredible time we spent there. We shall be back.

To river rafting and para-sailing, new experiences for us. Oh! what fun!

To The Albrook School, for giving an all round education to Taran and Roshan, and more importantly, for giving them values which we hope they will forever imbibe. We shall always be grateful!

To Newark Academy, for accepting the boys as 6th graders. We are grateful to you for taking on our troubles ;-)

Getting ready for the hike - Sulphur Mountain, Banff, Canada

To the Canadian Rockies for opening up vistas that we never knew existed. Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper, you have forever made a place in our hearts and memories. On our return flight, while I was reminiscing about our trip, I remarked to the boys, "I felt we left a little bit of ourselves there." Instantly, Taran responded, "Yes, I dropped my baseball cap on our last hiking trail in Jasper!"

To Sulphur Mountain in Banff. We hiked 5.5 km to the summit and enjoyed every bit of our journey as well as the awesome panoramic views from the peak. 

To the wildlife we spotted in the Canadian Rockies - 10 bears, a dozen elks, bald eagles, a wolf, mountain deer, and the list goes on. 

To canoeing in the Banff river where we took a group canoeing trip! While we canoed upstream, our guide/coach happily pulled Ritesh’s legs as Ritesh was tiring out the fastest. He even exclaimed. “Sir, the one with the red cap, can you please watch your wife and follow her as she is doing an excellent job!!!” Why is it so difficult for Ritesh to realize what even strangers can gauge in a few minutes?! ;-)

To touring a glacier (Columbia Icefield), a first ever for the Idnani family. Touring the Triple Continental Divide (one of only 2 places in the world) was surreal. Here the glacial water flows to 3 different oceans – Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic oceans from this area via the Columbia, North Saskatchewan and Athabasca rivers.

To a summer that was filled with family, friends, play dates, lunches, dinners, swimming, tennis, watching a baseball game in the local stadium, movies and lots of fun trips.

To amusement parks (Hurricane Harbor and Hershey's Park), for bringing the child out in each one of us! 

To New York City - from the cruise on the Hudson & East river, to Central Park zoo, to Statue of Liberty/ Ellis Island, to becoming engulfed in a giant bubble in Washington Square Park, to playing baseball in the Upper East side with our friends - the city entertained us like never before.

To the Met, a treasure we only partly explored this summer. The artifacts made us feel as if we had witnessed history if only for a few hours.

To movies/ musical nights/ stage shows, for providing an avenue to the arts that we lack genetically!

To improv, chorus, dance, orchestra & digital art - activities that stretched Taran and Roshan's mind and imagination for the first time ever.
In Florida - Chess Nationals!

To chess, for all the fun, travel, tournaments, friends, coaches and for embracing our family. We enjoy every bit of it and a nice way to round off the year was a top 5 finish for both boys in the Nationals in Florida. Thank you coaches!

To chess again, for the patience it taught Ritesh & me when we played along with our boys in a team tournament. This time, it was the boys who taught us the basics and reminded us to focus on our boards. Phew!!! It was tough!

To our running/ walking buddies for their willingness to motivate us and to slow down their pace while training with us.

To half marathons that Ritesh and I participated in and Team Idnani's first 10K as a family. An easy one for the boys while I huffed and puffed to the finish line.

To my uncle, Narendra chacha, for the daily phone calls, regular meetings and above all the unconditional love! 

To my nieces and nephews for the unlimited delight and excitement you bring to our lives.

To Reiki and SGI members, for personifying absolute happiness. 

To a winter break that was filled with friends, family (a special shout-out to my brother and his family), skiing (another "first" for the boys), holiday parties, movies and good, fattening, junk, delicious food.

To time spent with my girlfriends, connecting with folks over WhatsApp and Facebook, and celebrating birthdays (some milestone and otherwise), anniversaries, festivals and holidays with friends/family. May we continue to create special moments this year and always.
Relaxing in Jasper, Canada!

To smiles & tears, laughter & sorrow, success & failures, aches & pains, for keeping us grounded, modest & humble.

To Taran and Roshan, for the non-stop entertainment that they provide us, their wit and logical arguments (While I agree that "Jr. Idnanis Vs Sr. Idnanis - the case of the iPhone" - was nicely done, the jury (grandparents) was biased).

To Taran and Roshan again, may you always carry your childhood with you!

To 2015 .... may the new year bring 365 days of opportunities for you.

Yesterday Taran and Roshan played at the first annual Steve Ferrero memorial tournament held at Dean of Chess club in Branchburg, NJ. Steve’s long time companion, Mary McCallion, graced the occasion with her family. 45 players of different age and rating group came to play in honor of Steve – a testament to how much he continues to be loved by the chess community. 
Taran, Dean, Mary, Roshan and Noreen at the 1st annual Steve Ferrero memorial tournament

There was a touching eulogy by Steve’s friend and owner of the academy, IM Dean Ippolito and by tournament director and office manager, Noreen Davisson. It left Mary and many others emotional. Taran and Roshan were invited to hand Mary checks totaling $2020, the amount they had raised as a fundraiser in honor of Steve. All the proceeds go to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. The link below gives the details of the fundraiser:

Steve had touched so many lives. One of the things that drew us to him was that he seemed genuinely happy and he laughed a lot. It feels good to think that he continues to do so from heaven. Steve’s death hit hard. Those days were a blur of emotions, so much sadness and so much grief. Everything else seemed trivial as compared to the hard-hitting reality that he was no more. But life has to go on. What was important was how to keep Steve’s memory alive and create something positive out of this tragic and sudden event. This was the genesis of the “Steve Ferrero Rainbow Loom fundraiser”. Death, the great teacher, had presented an opportunity for a wide range of penetrating and life changing lessons. And although Taran and Roshan are just 9 year olds who had been brought face to face with death, hopefully the dollar amount that they were able to raise will make a difference, as little as it might be. And hopefully, it has contributed to Taran and Roshan’s emotional and existential growth and made their heart richer. So, Steve Ferrero, wherever you are, take a bow as you continue to make the world a better place!

Hello there,

Roshan and Taran - growing up fast!

Here we are again - at the cusp of bidding goodbye to 2013 & welcoming 2014. We had a beautiful year, full of adventure and fun and we hope you had a blissful time too. So here's a recap of how we fared in 2013.
Taran and Roshan turned 9. They have continued to enjoy school (thankfully!) and are making steady progress in chess & tennis. Both the boys had violin recitals this year and played the recorder at school. Apart from their love for sports, school and fascination with books, what truly stood out this year, was their initiative to make rainbow loom bracelets and sell it door to door thereby raising over $2,000 for charity. The boys did this to honor the memory of their chess friend, Mr. Steve Ferrero. We are proud of Taran, Roshan and all their friends who helped in this poignant effort. They also planned a prayer service in honor of their grandfather's younger brother, who passed away suddenly. It's a joy to see their growth from little kids to young adults.

Ritesh had a big career change this year as he, along with some investors, started Seamless Health, a healthcare startup. A new job meant that he had a lot of running to do. He took the name and work literally and ran his second half marathon!  Nidhi was very supportive of Ritesh joining the healthcare industry and so tore a few ligaments in her foot so as to contribute to the sector.

Nidhi and Ritesh in Atlanta during Thanksgiving

Nidhi continued volunteering at Taran and Roshan's school and has also been actively pursuing her Reiki practice. She also became a member of SGI this year. It's an important step in her journey to spirituality. She now has weekly chanting and discussion meetings in her house. Its the boys, however, who have been enjoying her spiritual journey the most. They now bash each other up as and when they want and blame it on "it was my brother's karma from a previous lifetime!" 

An important aspect of this year has been that Nidhi turned 40 this year and it was widely celebrated by everyone who knew her. Ritesh threw a big bash for her, thereby earning brownie points for the next several years (or till her 41st). Yet again, he demonstrates that he knows the art of investing - we refer to the emotional investing here. Everyone was happy that she turned 40 – now she will, hopefully, act more mature.
Taran and Roshan at Qutab complex in New Delhi
Travel has always been a priority for the Idnani family and no year is complete till the time they hit the roads. The Idnanis spent the spring break with family and friends in Canada, Thanksgiving with friends in Atlanta and found themselves back in Canada for Christmas. They also continued to travel for chess tournaments to New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. 
Taran and Roshan at Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur
However, the highlight of this year was their travel to India this summer. From the historical forts and opulent palaces in Jodhpur and Jaipur, to the pious destinations of Pushkar (the only temple of Lord Brahma in the world) and Ajmer (the famous shrine of the venerated Sufi saint, Khwaja Muin-ud-din Chisti), the psychedelic colors of traditional outfits, arts and craft in the desert state  and the affectionate hospitality of their family - the trip to Rajasthan is one that has been etched in their memory forever. Mumbai and Delhi, as always, were vibrant and intoxicating. Goa captivated them with its swaying palm trees, lush greenery, white sand and the Arabian Sea. The drive to Dehradun was picturesque and the city was charming. But the biggest draw was the outpouring of love, affection and food by friends and family. We felt truly blessed & fat! 

As we wrap up this year, we wish you an exciting journey in 2014 filled with love, peace, good health, happiness and wish that you truly live in the moment as opposed to for the moment.
To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a Heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.
                               - William Blake

Stay in touch!
Ritesh, Nidhi, Taran and Roshan

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