This was an extraordinary election year and the end result has hardly surprised anyone. That it will be such a landslide victory for Obama was enthralling. Much was written about the campaign, each word spoken or unspoken was scrutinized; each expression was analyzed, the body language experts worked overtime and the newspapers and television networks scrambled to get the latest and most newsworthy item on their front page/prime time.

We, as a family, followed the elections right from the days when candidates announced their candidature till the very end, when McCain was defending the red states while Obama was fighting there, turning them gradually into toss-up states. In between, the journey was topsy-turvy, to say the least, first the battle at the primaries to the party nomination to the vice-presidential pick, it was simply captivating. So there was no way, we would miss the excitement of the big day. My 4 year old twins, Taran and Roshan, made “Vote for Barack Obama” placards which they wore to school. And with this little conversation in our minivan on the way to school they proved that they too were in the thick of things.

Roshan: Mom, are you sure you will vote for Obama?
Me: Yes, why do you ask?
Roshan: Sachin "mama" (uncle) is going to vote for McCain.
Taran: But I told you so many days ago, that will not be fair. We have to take turns. This time it is the turn of the Democrats.
Roshan: I know.
Me: Well, we can vote for the candidate of our choice and who we believe will be a better president.
Roshan: Do you know that I am also voting for Obama? I also told my friends (names omitted) to vote for Obama.
Me: What did you tell them?
Roshan: I told them that Barack Obama has great plans and good ideas for our country. He will make USA stronger.
Me: AHEM!!!

Early in the morning, I had voted for “change”. It was my first experience to vote in the US elections and I am glad I got the opportunity. But T & R were so eager to check out the polling stations, I took them along to check it out. And as many of us, they got swayed by the charm, policies and energy of Barack Obama and made their own political statement by chanting “Yes, we can”. I am glad they experienced the making of history.



video

The elections are over and Barack Obama will take oath on Jan 20th. The culmination of the $1 billion campaign has resulted in a medley of emotions for various people – most are glad it is finally over but I will miss it. Every evening after putting the kids to bed, I couldn’t wait to turn on the television and surf Huffington Post and Politico while watching Rachel Maddow and Anderson Cooper. The race had its ups and downs, gaffes aplenty, expensive wardrobes, record-breaking smear campaigns and fundraising (though not necessarily in that order) and abundant material for stand-up comedians. Each of it made my evenings simultaneously enjoyable and informative. In retrospect, both the campaigns were simply doing their job - of portraying their man as the best man. But ultimately, as President elect Barack Obama said, “We are not a collection of red states and blue states; we are the United States of America”.

The race between the two presidential candidates, Senator John McCain and Senator Barack Obama was very tight till about the middle of September. McCain, the maverick, scored highly on national security while Obama, the voice for change, was considered strong on the economy. Then the economic climate deteriorated around Sep 15th when news of the likes of Lehman Brothers and AIG hit the wires. The markets reacted and the Dow dropped more than 500 points in the first day of the economic setback.

The facts did not bode well for McCain. There are three jobseekers for every 1 job opening. As per MSNBC’s poll, 79% felt the country is headed in the wrong direction. This coupled with the fact that the current president, George Bush’s approval ratings are down to 28% hurt McCain’s chances tremendously. The parallels to the Bill Clinton’s successful campaign are so strong that one can not help but be reminded of the time when Bush Sr.’s approval ratings were down to about 30% and the economy had undergone a recession. And that’s when James Carville, Clinton’s campaign strategist coined this phrase.

But despite the bleak economic conditions, McCain seemed to be the only one who believed “the fundamentals of the economy are strong”. That was the death knell of the McCain campaign and the surge of the Obama campaign. After all, “it’s the economy, stupid.”

Today was the nth time I was asked my occupation. I answered I am a homemaker or a stay at home mom but the person on the other side of the table looked at me in disdain. He had an expression which was that of a person waiting for me to complete the sentence by adding a connecting word. I am a homemaker and …. But hello, there is no AND; on the contrary there is a FULL STOP. I am a Homemaker. PERIOD. And in American parlance that also means I am a soccer mom. Then the natural question that follows “so, when are you planning to go back to work?”

My DH (Darling Husband) has a traveling job. A few years ago, on being asked by my Hispanic help, what my husband does and telling her that he works for an IT company, she gave me that all-knowing nod, “ah ha, you mean he fixes computers in other people’s homes”. Well, unfortunately, my husband does not possess any such technical skills but, yes, he does travel a lot, and by virtue of that, I am left to run the household. Apart from the mundane stuff of cleaning, laundry, cooking etc., it also includes trying to balance both my kids on my hips (God Almighty, I now know why you BLESSED me with such wide ones) and walking down a flight of stairs because invariably one wakes up coughing, sneezing, wheezing and needs TLC but the other one feels it will be UNFAIR if he does not get the joy aka hip ride!!! It also includes fighting the milk battle every morning, brushing one child’s teeth while the other is screaming in frustration that he is done with his poop and what is taking me so long to clean him up, running after 2 brats in the school parking lot, one of whom chooses to run in exactly the opposite direction of his brother. Hey, are you sweating? Awww! Come on! I am just warming up. I have only given you a glimpse of the first 2 hours of my day. After I pick them up from school, I have got to take them for their various activities – soccer, ice-skating, swimming, play dates etc. while listening to the track “Five green and speckled fogs sat on a speckled log...” the 287th time. And all of this while giving them their snack and smoothie/juice. And God save me if I give one the “Elmo” juice and the other “Big Bird” juice. If I dare commit that crime, our poor Honda Odyssey will transform into a battleground and I will be forced to single-handedly take on the role of UN peace keeping force, all of this while I have one hand on the wheel, one eye on the road and the other focused on the rear view mirror which has been strategically angled to show my adorable angels err sparring cats. I had once read “A soccer mom delivers once obstetrically and for the rest of her life by her minivan.” I couldn’t agree more. My day also includes taking them to the supermarket where we will keep driving around the parking lot till we spot an empty car cart where they can imagine that they are Michael Schumacher and are driving their Ferraris. And only after I finish paying up at the checkout counter do I realize that apart from my list of groceries, I have bought 2 packets of M&Ms, some Oreo and chocolate chip cookies and a Diego toothpaste that will sit by the 6 other Dora, Diego and Spiderman toothpastes and adorn the vanity in the kids bathroom. After all this, my DH calls from across the ether and asks rather innocently “So, what did you do today?” I am very tempted to say, “I went to the club with my girlfriends, we had a couple of cosmos and then we hit the dance floor and gyrated our hips to Shakira’s music!!!” My moment of redemption came when on my return from a sudden trip to California, hubby darling proclaimed, “Here are the kids. They are all yours. How do you do it?”


Kelly Ripa had once said that children are like pancakes – you spoil the first one, get better at the second and are the best with your third. I got 2 at one shot (my DH and I took BOGO – Buy one get one free, the American mantra, to heart). And now, reverting to the big question asked of me on any and every social occasion, I am NOT planning to go back to work. Yes, I am a homemaker, and I am very proud to be one. Yes, I am a soccer mom and I love my pancakes even if I am spoiling them a wee bit. I have deep admiration for mothers who have a great career going for them and who are able to bring up wonderful children with great ease – hats off to them and more power to them. But I am content and happy in my role. This is one “Occupation” that gives me immense joy and a huge sense of pride. Yes, there are moments of helplessness when I feel like pulling my hair. But those are far and few and are a reminder that I am a human being before I am a mother. I remember the moment when Taran said his first word “Dada” in January 2005 to now when he entertains me with his endless stories and songs. I can still visualize the time when Roshan started walking a few weeks after turning one to now when he has turned into a daredevil trying new stunts on his bicycle and doing cartwheels. I remember vividly when they both learnt their ABCs to now when they have become voracious readers. I look back at the time when I decided to put in my papers. I had a good job, a decent paycheck and everyone at my workplace was super supportive and yet, the decision to leave was simple and easy. I am so glad I chose to stay at home lest I would have missed out on these priceless moments. So, no matter what anyone says, I am delighted and proud to be a SOCCER MOM. PERIOD!

Beginning the first week of December, news channels and the general populace speculate whether we will see a white Christmas but who could have imagined that we will see a white Diwali?! Yes, it snowed for the most part of the day. And if that does not prove that climate change is at work to Sarah Palin, then I do not know what will (and I know that I digress but I can not help it). And now getting back on track....
We started the day with droping the kids to school and returning home to shine the silver for the “Lakshmi puja”, make rangoli on the porch while wearing an overcoat (brrrr) and contribute to our telephone provider by making the innumerable calls to wish Happy Diwali (that is what happens when your laptop dies on you for 2 weeks and you have no way to send Diwali wishes online but miraculaously it started working this afternoon. YIPPEE! Now, now, if only I get blessed with "dhan" and "lakshmi" too).
The afternoon was super exciting as I went to Taran and Roshan’s school to make a presentation to the kids on Diwali. The school kids and the teachers were very enthusiastic about the little show where I showed the presentation on my laptop, treated the kids and teachers with some home made “pedas”, showed them some “diyas” and “rangoli” powder. At the end of the presentation I asked my kids and their best buddy to sing a song (I had asked them to sing “Jai Ganesh” but they chose to sing “Bachna ae haseeno….” ‘coz they felt that was “cool”. Of course, the teachers did not understand the words and congratulated me on teaching my kids such wonderful religious hymns!!! And that truly made it a cool Diwali, literally and figuratively! Happy Diwali!

Last weekend my friend, Shruti and I walked 39.3 miles in New York for the Avon Breast Cancer Walk. We kept our promise to you of walking every step for every penny that you donated and for every wish that you sent our way. The event and the journey towards our goal are memories we will cherish forever.

Along the journey and before embarking on it, I learnt from friends and family who had been there before. My cousins and friends who have run the marathon, climbed mountains, walked 60 miles were not only an inspiration, they also gave valuable inputs.

The journey was beautiful, interesting and challenging. What seemed to be “just walking”, was actually a little more complicated in reality. Managing the kids calendar (school, activities, summer camp etc.) and my “training calendar” was not always easy. There were days when I walked in the neighborhood of their school while they were in their class so as to maximize my training time and not lose on the commute home and back. Yet again, there were days when I walked for 5 hours excluding breaks, picked up the kids from school, gave them a snack, hit the walking trail for 2 more miles, took them to their swimming lessons, and walked a mile on returning from there, rushed to their school for the “Back to school night”, returned home to put the kids to bed and went back to wrap up my 20 mile walk for the day. Apart from the calendar challenge, the physical aspect occasionally bothered me as well especially when my hamstrings would ache. But these and other challenges only kept me going forward as with each step I figured I am a step closer to my objective … of chipping in to eradicate this dreadful disease. Also, the faith that so many of you had put in me by supporting me, either with good wishes, donations or both, was the most important factor in keeping my spirits high. So, thank you so much for your support. It means a lot to me.

The actual event was surreal (for the lack of a better word). We were 4,500 walkers in the NY event who had collectively raised $11.5 million, a record in the history of Avon walks for breast cancer. Shruti and I collectively raised $4094. Since Avon started this walk, they have raised a whopping $525 million.

The opening ceremony was exhilarating. Dr. Susan Love (from The Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation) took center stage and urged us to join the Love/Avon Army of Women, an initiative launched on Oct 1st, 2008. The key goal of this revolutionary initiative is to recruit one million healthy women of every age and ethnicity, including breast cancer survivors and women at high-risk for the disease, to partner with breast cancer researchers and directly participate in the research that will eradicate breast cancer once and for all. You can find more details at http://www.armyofwomen.org/The survivor stories were very moving as was the commitment of one particular walker who had participated in 96 walks and had single-handedly raised $1.2 million over the years. The icing on the cake was having my friends who had come to cheer Shruti and me on the event eve and on the opening ceremony. Sighting Tabu (a well-known Indian film personality) at Times Square on the event eve and having a picture taken with her added to the fun. Check out our pictures at:http://picasaweb.google.com/nidhiidnani/AvonWalkForBreastCancer


Our walking path was very well organized with cheering stations and rest stops every few miles. They were well stocked with snacks, water, medical supplies etc. The Volunteers, crew, staff and NY locals were there for every single walker with a constant smile on their face. We were in complete awe of the commitment of the thousands of people--walkers and crew alike--to make a difference. Personally, I was also in awe of Shruti who flew all the way from Atlanta to walk with me.

Walking in NY was charming and exciting. While I have lived in the suburbs for 9 years, I observed things that I had never noticed before. It was exciting to walk through trendy SOHO where one could shop in the hip boutiques, chain stores and even sidewalks all in the backdrop of an outstanding cast iron architecture. Walking across the iconic Brooklyn bridge was thrilling. I couldn’t help wondering what a giant leap of faith it must have been when 125 years ago, this bridge, the largest suspension bridge of its time was built. On a separate note, I must admit that I was half expecting Karan Johar and Shah Rukh Khan to peek from behind the stone towers singing "Har Ghadi Badal Rahi Hai ….Kal Ho Na Ho" (Just proves, you can’t take Bollywood out of me!).

Crossing the finish line was extremely gratifying. I noticed many walkers wearing Avon T-shirts which aptly said “Ready, Set, Hope.” I wanted to cry, look up at the sky and said a silent prayer thanking God for helping me in this journey. My parents, husband and kids were there to cheer me, as they have been doing always. What a blessing! My friend who came all the way from San Francisco pampered us with gorgeous lilies, roses and her infectious exuberance.


What was once a dream is now a part of my life. With your support I made it and I am proud of it. I have made a promise. Since I have discovered a strength that I did not even know existed, a determination that keeps my confidence soaring, a cause that keeps me going, I will try to use it again and again. Who knows I might just discover a walking trail and embark on a new adventure.

Had the presidential debate been in Bollywood, it may well have turned out this way…..Read on…
(Background score: “Aaa dekhe zara, kismein kitna hai dum…..”)

Introduction:
Obama: Barack…. Barack naam hai mera, Barack Obama
McCain: Saree country mujhe maverick ke name se jaanti hai.
Obama: Main is Geeta per haath rakhkar yeh saugandh leta hoon ki jo bhi kahoonga sach kahoonga, aur sach ke siva kuch nahin kahoonga."
McCain (thinking and chuckling): “Tu geeta par haath rakh kar kasam kha, main sarah palin par haath rakh kar kasam khaunga”.
Obama: Mere paas style hai, substance hai, Harvard education hai, tumhaare pass kya hai?
McCain (with a twinkle in his eyes): Mere paas Sarah Palin hai. HAHAHA! (Also does a Dharmendra style victory dance here)

On ECONOMY:
Obama: “Ab hum kisi ko muh dikhaane ke layak nahin rahe". Kya issi din ke liye 8 saal tak Bush ko White House mein rakha tha?"
McCain: Bhagwaan errr Paulson and Bernanke pe bharosa rakho. Sab theek ho jayega. Aur agar nahin hua to main apni campaign suspend kar doonga.

ON IRAQ:
McCain: Main wahi karoonga jo Bush Sr ne kiya hai aur Bush Jr ne kiya hai - WAR, WAR and WAR
Moderator: Yeh WAR kya hota hai?
McCain: Jab humein economic downturn nazar aane lagta hai to hum public ko distract karne ke liye, WAR par jaate hain.
Obama: Maine Iraq mein war continue karne ka idea drop kar diya hai. Ab humein immediately apni economy aur Afghanistan par focus karna hai.
McCain: Abey oye, tu kaun hota hai bolne waala. Hum bhi to oil company mein shareholder hain.

On AFGHANISTAN and Al Qaeda:
McCain: “Osama, Agar Maa ka doodh piya hai to saamne aa.” “Chun Chun ke maaroonga, ek-ek ko chun chun ke maroonga”
Obama: “USA ne tumhe charon taraf se gher liya hain - apne aap ko kannon ke haawale kar do”

On IRAN:
McCain: “Goli se udaa do usse”
Obama: “Shaant gadardari Beem errr McCain, shaant” We have to engage in dialogue. I will say - ”Jurm ki duniya ka betaaj badshah ... Ahmadijenad ", " Apne hathiyaar phenk do "
Moderator (in a Tikku Talsaniya pose/tone): " Ouff! Yeh kya ho raha hai "

On PAKISTAN:
McCain: Obama ne bola ki woh Pakistan mein military strikes launch karega. President Gaddari errr Zardari “hairaan pareshaan ho jaayenge”.
Obama: Zabaan ko lagaam do .."Maine aisa nahin kaha tha”. “Kash tum mera yakin kar sakte.”

On RUSSIA:
Obama: Yeh sauda (Georgia) unhe bahut mehnga padega". Agar tumhe maine yeh karne diya, to mera naam Obama nahin"
McCain: Obama, “abhi tum doodh peete bachche ho”. “Maine Putin ki aankh mein jhaank kar dekha hai. Usmein likha tha KGB” Usi tarah maine Sarah Palin ki aankhon mein jhaank kar dekha tha, usme likha tha “Bridge to nowhere”. HAHAHA! (Another victory dance here – this time Dilip Kumar style)

RESULT:
Moderator: Tamaam gawaahon aur sabooton ko maddhe nazar rakhte hue is adaalat ka faisla hai ki Obama ko haraana mushkil hi nahin, namumkin hai.

Debate ends with the camera focussing on a beaming Obama and the background score, “Arre deewanoon, mujhe pehchanoon, kahan se aaya, main hoon kaun….”

Dear Senator McCain,

Please accept my humble request to assist you in your resolve to lead this great nation. I cite the following credentials for my application to be the Vice President of the United States of America.

Family Values:

  • I am a soccer, swimming and an ice-skating mom. The latter activity could well lead to ice-hockey and then that will ALSO make me a hockey mom. That is 4 credentials against one.
  • I am also involved with my children’s school’s PTA.

Foreign Policy/ World Affairs Record:

  • I got my passport loooooooong before 2007 (the year in which your current veep nominee got hers). In fact, I have held passports from 2 different countries!!!
  • I travelled to 5 European countries, 3 Caribbean nations, 3 Asian countries and Canada.
  • I am married to a “traveler” (Yes, that is what my kids call their dad – someone who travels domestically and internationally 15 days in a month). And, the “dude” has travelled to innumerable countries.
  • This summer, I took my kids to the observatory at the Empire State Building and while pointing at the UN Headquearters, told them that that was the meeting ground for the "good guys" and the "bad guys" where the "good guys" ask the "bad guys" to not be "bad" anymore and turn into "good guys" while the "bad guys" tell the "good guys" that they got it wrong all this while; the "bad guys" were actually the "good guys" and the "good guys" were actually the "bad guys"!!! I admit I will be unable to match the standards of the current veep nominee when it comes to piercing stares while talking about the "good" and the "bad guys" but I can say with certitude that I shall give her a run for her money.
  • I have done photo ops with foreign leaders way back in 2001! I visited Madame Tussauds museum in New York and spent a good 2 hours with them (Yes, I did say 2 HOURS, and not 2 minutes).
  • My children have Diego telescopes which can be used to track Putin if he “rears his head and comes into the airspace of USA” (refer to Sarah Palin’s recent interview with Katie Couric http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/09/25/eveningnews/main4479062.shtml)

Domestic/Economic Policy experience:

  • I can NOT see Wall Street from my house.

Sundry:

  • I never hunt moose or any other animals but I do use a water gun.
  • I talk about “Good guys, Bad guys” (refer to the above mentioned interview) with my 4 year old twins if we happen to see a picture of a bombing/war while showing them the New York Times.
  • I also offer enough entertainment material by virtue of being a mother of 4 year old comics.
  • Even my children are conversant about issues such as global warming and alternative sources of energy. Check out my blog for the same.
  • Lastly, even my children know that Russia and Canada are not IN Alaska (refer to the above mentioned interview). The video below (taken in June 2008) demonstrates their knowledge of geography.

Since your current veep nominee is taking us on a "road to nowhere", it is imperative that you seriously consider my candidature and if you don't, then I shall vow to "suspend" blogging (of course, I will continue to update my blog periodically, just like you have suspended your campaign). While I understand that you have never heard of me or from me, I have full faith in your rather strict vetting process. I am certain, Senator, that this video will clinch the deal for me as this is far longer and thorough than your current vetting process. And, when you call me, Senator, even if it is at 3 AM, I will state without any hesitation, that I am honored and prepared to lead this great nation into a new era.

Thank you and God Bless America,
Nidhi idnani

video

Me: Taran, I called you 5 times and papa called you 3 times for your nebulizer but you did not listen. That means we called you 8 times. Will you like it if you and Roshan call me 8 times and I do not listen to you?

Taran: Ok, mummy, if we call you 5 and 3 times, it is ok if you do not listen. Maa, but if I call you 4 times and "bhaiya" calls you 4 times, then will you please listen? You know mummy, 4 and 4 also makes 8!!!

“Contrary to popular belief,” historian Daniel J. Boorstin once wrote, “Barnum’s great discovery was not how easy it was to deceive the public, but rather how much the public enjoyed being deceived. Especially if they could see how it was being done. They were flattered that anyone would use such ingenuity to entertain them.”

I read the above somewhere and I agree that when it comes to presidential debates, the candidates are certainly ingenious when it comes to entertaining us. They understand that debates are about theatrics and not necessarily content. No wonder Bush, under the baton of Karl Rove, sneaked into the White House. Sure, we can not discount Al Gore’s “I will bash you up” look and gait at the debate. But I shall not digress; I shall stick to the present – the 2008 Presidential debates. I am looking forward to the 1st presidential debate on Friday, September 26th at the University of Mississippi. I wonder which candidate shall hone his act to perfection, or will any? I am looking forward to each question asked and the response, which of course, would have been rehearsed several times, thanks to the anticipated list of questions and answers created by their campaign staff. But the showmanship will be revealed in each pregnant pause and each pondering look the candidate will project to reflect spontaneity and sincerity.

This debate will be about foreign policy which apparently is McCain’s sweet spot. This automatically makes Obama an underdog who needs to hold his own and not necessarily serve a blow at each response McCain gives. He has to win by not losing. But I am disappointed that this debate on foreign policy will not include the vice presidential nominees ‘coz I am so keen to hear Sarah Palin’s foreign policy record and her response to each question with a smile that Tina Fey so appropriately donned on the SNL sketch when she uttered the golden words “I can see Russia from my house”. On the same note, she might state that she has great economic policy record because she can NOT see Wall Street from her house.

I am also eager to track the various channels that will analyze the debates. I can already visualize Bill O’Reilly of Fox News praising McCain and badgering Obama for any response he gives. He will differ with the latter for the sake of differing. And MSNBC’s Keith Olberman contributing several hundred dollars to each lie uttered by grandpa McCain (yeah, I know he actually donates a 100 for each lie mouthed by Palin but then they are the same i.e. Bush, Palin, and McSame … err …. a Freudian slip … I mean McCain). Just a word of caution, and I do not underestimate your net worth but Mr. Olberman, at the rate at which Sarah Palin is going, I hope she does not empty your coffers by the time this historic race gets over.

But then this is politics and stretching the facts is a part of the game. Sure, raising millions for campaign finance, a big chunk of which is going towards advertising aimed at making people scared of a certain candidate, his credentials and policies/plans makes this election different from the previous ones in the scale of “nastiness” but for the undecided there are non-partisan organizations such as factcheck.org which, as the name suggests, only provide the facts as they are. Yet again, logic is a poor weapon against fear. So all I hope for is “May the best man win” and my definition of a best man - Barack Obama. Go Obama GO!

video

Taran and Roshan welcome their dad back from Europe!

Once again, I am back with an update about my progress in my training for the Avon walk for breast cancer. I will be walking on October 4th and 5th. I have a choice of covering the distance of a marathon i.e. 26.2 miles or a marathon and a half i.e. 39.3 miles. This has been the biggest physical undertaking I have attempted and there has been no doubt in mind as to how challenging it has been for me. The constantly screaming muscles (especially my hamstrings – OUCH!) are a testimony to that :>) But this is for a cause I believe in and a constant reminder that with every step I take, we come closer to eradicating this devastating disease.

Many of you have supported me in several ways along this beautiful journey. A few of my friends, Aditi, Pooja and Priya, have walked with me while I trained. I always look forward to walking with them as that makes my training so much fun. My family – parents, Ritesh and my children have been very supportive of my walk. My parents particularly, have been a tremendous pillar of strength. They have patiently taken care of Taran and Roshan while I have been training, giving them a horseback ride or playing scrabble with them.

I started training towards the end of April. I started off with a 4 mile walk and have gradually built up to an 18 mile walk in a single day which I managed recently. I have also completed a training walk of 26.2 miles over a period of 2 days. A constant companion on my walks has been my iPod. And a huge thanks to my friend, Priya, for downloading songs on my iPod and giving me the much needed boost. Whether it is my all time favorite, Israel Kamakawiwo Ole's “Somewhere over the rainbow” or Atif Aslam’s mind-blowing “Pehli Nazar Mein”, music has definitely added a beautiful dimension to my walk.

I have also been very happy with the amount I have been able to raise so far. A big thanks to those of you who contributed. While in the vast scheme of things, it may look miniscule, but I am certain it will help others who remain hopeful for a cure. I have crossed my goal of $1800 but those of you who still wish to contribute, please donate towards the fundraising goal of my friend, Shruti who is flying all the way from Atlanta to walk with me. She and I are walking as a team and we both need to reach our individual goals of $1800. Please click on the link below to support the cause. Remember that anything you give will make a difference in fighting this dreadful disease because everyone deserves a lifetime.

Support my friend, Shruti in our Avon walk for breast cancer. Visit her homepage at:
http://info.avonfoundation.org/site/TR/Walk2008/NewYork?px=3922434&pg=personal&fr_id=1660

Back in the spring, I was looking forward to spending the summer with my kids, Taran and Roshan. I had this glorious notion that since they have turned four and are growing up to be “big boys”, we will have a lot of fun together including the moments that I will spend with them and the moments they will play by themselves. I was obviously hopeful that the latter would constitute most of the day. So when it actually happened, I was super-joyed to observe how Taran and Roshan play so well together, whether it is their make believe trips to India/ Africa/ California where they travel with their backpacks, take out their passports at the immigration counter etc or the construction trucks they are driving while they build their city with Lego blocks. How angelic they looked when they hugged each other while “traveling” or “building” their city.
But boy! Was I wrong?! I soon realized what a profound error of judgment this was! What was I thinking? Was I out of my mind? Sure, they played together but I never imagined that these journeys to various esoteric parts of the world (their latest destination of choice include Egypt and Algeria) would involve moving their entire suite of toys and books from their toy bins and book shelves to our living room sofa, coffee table and the rest of the living room because one piece of furniture was supposed to be the x-ray machine where the checked in luggage was being screened and the other was the overhead bin to keep their hand baggage. On occasions such as this, as hard it may be, I remind myself to take a deep breath before I utter a single word ‘coz if I do not, the mild protests from my side would turn into a yelling race where I am trying to beat my own record of decibel level but since I know that the after-effects would probably be a massive headache for me and zero effect on the boys, a no-win situation, I try to calm myself down before discussing the luggage overload.
Me: But sweetheart, you are only allowed 2 pieces of checked in baggage so you may want to keep all of these things back in their spot.
Taran: It’s okay, mommy. We will pretend that the coffee table is our cargo ship and that we are shipping our luggage.
Roshan: Since we are shipping, can we also pack our clothes? Maybe we can get the big suitcases from the basement!
Me: Uffff!
Now I got to admit that my boys aren’t really devils (at least for most part); they are just normal 4 year olds who like to jump around, run about the house, giggle, scream, shout and play. Now, isn’t that what most 4 year olds do? Yet, there are moments when I find myself get flustered with the day to day happenings. For example when while playing “airport, airport” (a term they have coined), often times each suddenly develops a fancy for a particular backpack or a “piece of luggage”. From beaming smiles to pushing/pulling/screaming battles, the situation deteriorates faster than you can say “STOP”. Their choice of vocabulary at such instances hovers around:
He started it.
He hit me first.
He pushed me.
It was my turn.
He did not share it with me.
He is not my brother.
I do not love him anymore.
I will NEVER play with him. NEVER! NEVER!
Just writing this makes me sigh (and at this moment they are fast asleep, hopefully not fighting with each other in their dream), imagine my plight at the moment when my house turns into a battle zone and no amount of refereeing by grandparents will help; it has to be me - a single UN peacekeeping task force! I try the “Work it out for yourself” formula but that does not always help either. After all this, imagine my plight when I receive a letter from their school stating that the first 2 days of their school when they were supposed to be gone for “full day” aka 6.5 hrs, they will only be going for 1 hr 15 minutes ‘coz it is a “phase-in” period. ARRRGH! My countdown to freedom just got elongated :<( Now, if that makes me sound like a terrible mom, so be it. I admit I was wrong in imagining that everything will be hunky-dory, picture perfect and we will be living in utopia. As much as I love my kids, I have to periodically remind myself that moms need their occasional breaks, chatting with their girlfriends once, twice ….ok, I will admit, maybe 10 times a day, without interruptions every 30 seconds. We deserve to enjoy sipping our cup of coffee and end our day without a headache. So here it is to all those moms who beat themselves up wondering if they have been perfect role models – remember, “Moms are humans too.”
5 more days to regular school hours! Phew! I am at the home stretch! Fortunately, T & R are as eager to go to school as I am to send them so no guilt trips here :>)

Warning: Please be advised that the nature of this post is rather descriptive. Anyone whose sensibilities get affected quickly should avoid this post.

As long as I remember, I have been drilling into Taran and Roshan’s minds the importance of waste minimization and management, energy conservation, pollution prevention, climate change etc. I have a vivid recollection of holding them in my arms when they were infants and while turning off the lights talking to them about conserving electricity. Each time they bobbed their heads as any infant would, I would assure myself that this was an indication that they comprehended my monologue. I am pretty relentless in my quest to educating my kids so I grabbed every opportunity that came my way to instill these values in them, whether it was taking them to an “Earth Day” event (check link http://www.mycentraljersey.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080428/NEWS/804280337) to discuss recycling or taking them to the library for a “Save the Earth” event where they learnt the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle too” song. Hence, it was gratifying to observe, when inside a restroom at Borders, Taran was most concerned about the toilet paper that was strewn on the floor and such was the concern he felt about the environment, he proceeded to report the same to a store executive, “There is so much toilet paper wasted in the restroom. Now someone will have to cut more trees to get paper. So, please can you tell everyone not to waste paper?” Likewise, two years ago (when Taran and Roshan were 2), I distinctly remember making “pretend” phone calls to the LIE (Long Island Expressway) authorities as the boys observed some streetlights turned on even though it was bright and sunny. (Incidentally, these “pretend” phone calls continue till date.) On the very next day, they observed a streetlight turned on right outside their school. On realizing that their class teachers could not have it turned off despite their repeated appeals, they decided to take the matter in their hand and dictated a letter to their teacher to mail it to the Bridgewater municipal authorities. When I went to pick them up that afternoon, I was handed a copy of that letter by their unusually jaded teacher. And yet again, lately they have been insistent that I use their artwork as bookmarks so that it can be “reused”. These incidents had assured me that my efforts to raise environmentally aware kids had borne fruit but never could I have imagined that their passion for “saving the Earth” was so strong that they could “discover” an alternate source of energy!!!
Today, we enjoyed a sumptuous lunch of “rajma” (red kidney beans), “chana” salad (chick pea salad) and beans. While my mom is a terrific cook, the triple combo of beans, beans and beans created a teeny weenie havoc in our stomachs, as a result of which, we all seemed to be engaged in a farting competition :<( One of these farts was a rather long-winding and audible one which caused Roshan and Taran’s eyes to pop and jaws to drop.
Roshan: What was that?
Me: Someone passed gas.
Roshan: OH! Can we fill it up in the Honda?!?!

Now, now, if only this would come true, we would all be standing with our butts facing the gas tank and in the process saving a mini fortune that we have been spending on gas lately. Gosh! I never knew I gave birth to a scientist!

Ritesh: Taran, Roshan, please do not touch my new laptop.
Roshan: But I want to go to Starfall.com
Ritesh: This is my new laptop (which, in reality, is not new). Please do not touch it.
Taran: Ok. We will not touch it today but please can you tell me which day will your new laptop turn old?!?!

Taran and Roshan love being outdoors especially on their scooters and bicycles. But I am not a huge proponent of them cycling on the driveway 'coz it is rather steep and have been a cause of multiple "boo-boos". After spending a mini fortune on Band-Aids and refusing to contribute any further to the top line of J&J, I told them they can not cycle on the driveway. Of course, Ritesh chooses to ignore the "rules" and not only does he let them cycle on the driveway, he himself cycles there and flouts another rule i.e. does it without his helmet!!! Taran and Roshan are mamma's boys and immediately point it out to him that he is flouting the rule. Now fast forward to today:
Today, while we were having a picnic dinner a.k.a dinner on our porch where the kids have a picnic bench, the boys noticed our neighbor taking his daughter and her friend cycling. When he let the kids all the way to the garage through the rather steep drive-way, Taran chuckled "All dads are the same. They just don't know!"

Last summer Infosys had a conference for the Client Facing Group in a resort in Puerto Rico and so the kids and I decided to tag along with Ritesh.

Our first impression as soon as we landed there was that it looked a lot like Goa with palm trees, rolling hills, pleasant breeze, concrete colorful houses (as opposed to the wooden ones we see in the US) but resembled US when it came down to the big signs on the roads, the stores, the cars and the dollar bills :<(. The view from the hotel room was spectacular with the golf course and lush foliage in the foreground and the misty mountains of the rainforest towering in the distance. The resort was a mix of comfort and excitement. Simply put, it can not get better when you have a beach and swimming pool in the backyard. While it was difficult to tear ourselves from the sand and the water, we managed to explore some parts of the island. Puerto Rico offers nothing if not diversity. On one small island, 100 miles long and 35 miles wide, we truly experienced thousands of years of history and four distinct cultures. It is aptly called the island of Enchantment. Narrow cobblestone streets, colorful colonial buildings, centuries-old fortresses (we saw El Morro) overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, fascinating museums and art galleries, the oldest church in the Western hemisphere (San Jose Church), quaint shops selling local handcrafts, restaurants offering not only traditional Puerto Rican fare (I tried the famous Mofongo in Café Puerto Rico) but all kinds of international cuisine- and everything bathed by a tropical breeze and light drizzle is the magic that we experienced in legendary Old San Juan. We were lucky to have Ishmail, a very friendly native, as our cab driver who also doubled up as a tour guide. We were happy to hike through El Yunque which is the only rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System. Comprised of some 240 different species of trees, it is actually a series of forests, each one determined by its altitude. More than 100 billion gallons of precipitation fall each year, creating the jungle-like ambience of lush foliage, sparkling leaves, shining wet rocks, and shadowy paths occasionally pierced by sunlight. Spectacular waterfalls rush alongside its well-maintained (but slippery) trails. Taran and Roshan were delighted to take a dip in the refreshing waterfall and were so surprised to note the enormous size of the leaves in the rainforest they decided to bring a couple of them as souvenirs to show their "dadi"," masi", friends and teachers. We saw lizards, various kinds of bugs and butterflies but could only hear the birds and the ubiquitous tree frog, el coquí. The highlight of the trip was our visit to Viequez, an island of postcard beaches. It is so pretty, I wonder why Bollywood has not explored it yet. Viequez is a one hour ferryboat ride from the port of Fajardo on the eastern coast of Puerto Rico. Apart from being known for its pristine beaches (we visited the Sun Bay Beach which has received attention recently as one of the world's best hideaways) it is famous for its Mosquito Bay or Bioluminescent Bay. While during the day the bay may seem an ordinary lagoon surrounded by mangroves, at night it seemed magical to us. We went on a boat ride into the bay and in the middle of the bay, the sailor provided us life jackets to swim in the water where there were millions of microorganisms or dinoflagelletes which are tiny one-celled creatures that light up as fireflies when disturbed. Roshan and I were lucky to get into the water and enjoy this psychedelic experience. Ritesh, who could not get into the water as Taran was asleep in his arms, felt it was all a figment of my imagination but I bet it was more a case of sour grapes ;>). Apparently Bioluminescent Bays are very rare and the one in Viequez is the world’s most spectacular (as per a test they had conducted, there were 418,000 dinoflagelletes per gallon of water!!!). I must add here that while there were almost 20 people who swam in the bay, I was the only non-swimmer! But a big thanks to Ashu, who provided more support than a life jacket did, a nocturnal swim in these luminous tropical waters was the most unforgettable moment during my visit to Puerto Rico.
Of course, several glasses and concoctions of Mojito contributed significantly in making the vacation super fun. After all, we did not want to be deprived especially when we were visiting the Rum capital of the world. The effect of the Mojito was enhanced by the salsa music that was played at the Tiki bar.

We loved every bit of the trip – the seafood, the smile that was plastered on the kids faces while petting the iguanas, the pool, the hospitality of the locals (especially Penny, the owner of our bed and breakfast in Viequez). But what truly made this trip a lot of fun was meeting a lot of new faces (Priya, Sonali and Samiksha were a joy to hang out with) and spending time with our good friends, Ashu (who has a whacky sense of humour), Aditi, their absolutely adorable daughters, Roshni and Ria and our adventurous friends, Aniket, Shruti and their fun-loving kids, Arth and Kabir. It was as if the kids had a playdate 24x7 while the parents had their share of fun, especially in the pool, playing pool volleyball, going down the water slide, dancing to salsa music and lounging at the bar. No wonder for very long I had a Puerto Rican hangover (in more ways than one)!


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Aah! The joy of grandparents especially when you get a horseback ride on demand.

I was reading "Little Red Riding Hood" to Taran and Roshan when I noticed that Taran had a smirk on his face. I asked him about it and this is how the conversation progressed:

Me: Taran, is everything ok?
Taran: Mummy, this is a silly story.
Me: Why?
Taran: In the story the wolf meets Little Red Riding Hood in the woods and asks her where she was going. Then the wolf went to her grandmother's house to wait for Litle Red Riding Hood so that the wolf could eat her up. If the wolf wanted to eat her up then why did he not eat her up when he met her in the woods?!?! He wasted so much time by running to the grandmother's house and waiting for Little Red Riding Hood to come!!!

Just around Taran and Roshan's 4th birthday, Taran had the following conversation with one of his teachers:

Taran: Miss Judy, I am bigger than you.

Miss Judy(with a smile): Is that right? I think I am bigger than you.

Taran: No, Miss Judy, I am bigger than you.

Miss Judy: Really? How are you bigger than me?

Taran: Adults have 206 bones in their body. But I am a child - babies and children have 270 bones in their body. So I have bigger number of bones so I am bigger than you.

from "Three Chines Poets" by Vikram Seth.


A fisherman sailed up-river; he loved the hills
in Spring.
On either bank of the old ford stood peach
trees blossoming.
He stared at the red trees. The miles passed;
unaware,
He reached the green creek’s end but saw no
human anywhere.
A gap-a hidden path twisted and turned
about-
Then suddenly among the hills a vast plain
opened out.
From far, a host of clouds and trees – but as he
neared
Among bamboos and scattered flowers a
thousand homes appeared.
Woodcutters with Han names and surnames
passed them on.
The villagers still wore clothes of Qin times,
long since gone.
Together all of them now lived at Wuling Spring,
Tilling their gardens and their fields away from
everything.
Moon bright below the pines – their houses all
lay quiet
When the sun rose among the clouds, roosters
and dogs ran riot.
A visitor from the world! They gathered round
and vied
To ask him home and question him on how
things were outside.
From village lanes at dawn they swept the
flowers away.
Woodsmen and fishermen rowed home
towards the close of day.
At first they’d come to flee the world and, some
maintain,
Had then become immortals and decided to
remain.
From these ravines who’d guess human affairs
exist? –
And from the world you’d only see blank
mountains cloaked in mist.
He did not think such realms were hard to hear
or see;
His heart, still dusty with the world, longed
for his own country.
He went out through the cave, no heeding
stream or hill,
To take his leave from home and then return
here at this will.
Certain he could not lose what he had just
passed through,
How could he know when he returned the
landscape would look new?
He’d gone into deep hills – but nothing else
was clear.
How often into cloudy woods do green creeks
disappear?
All over every stream in Spring peach blossom
lies.
Who can discern where he should seek the
spring of paradise?

The kids, Ritesh and I were having such a rocking time in the first couple of days on the cruise. Thankfully, the cruise provided such a variety of activities that we all had lots to engage in, apart from lazing around with our books and dipping into the pool. Of course, the food was a huge temptation. We are never ones to miss such delicacies – it is such an insult to the chef and the kitchen staff and we are all very sensitive to other’s feelings so we indulged a little, then a little more, and then some more. The biggest attraction though, was to have Ritesh all to ourselves. We had never experienced this feeling before ‘coz he is always armed with his weapons of mass destruction errr mass communication – yes, I am referring to the blackberry and the iPhone. But cruise is like a time machine; it takes you back, as difficult as it is to imagine, to those days of yore when there were no cell phones and no internet.
But things started changing on the third day. I noticed that Ritesh was a trifle fretful, pacing the decks with the restlessness of a hungry tiger and periodically emanating low growls like that of a lion waiting for its prey. I am perpetually worried about his health and hence choose to be a traveling pharmacy. By virtue of his travel he tends to eat the “Yum” food aka high cholesterol food and hence, when he is in NJ, I try to dish out healthy alternatives to the kind of food he likes. I scooped out my thermometer and the plethora of meds but figured the only thing that may work was some calming medication and of course, Murphy’s Law was at it’s best – I did not have it. We continued with the day’s events though these were interrupted with a few hissing like sounds ….thankfully the tongue did not stick out though the body kept sliding in and out of the cabin with a disquiet that started bothering me.
The fourth day was when all hell broke loose. In an otherwise calm and placid Caribbean waters, things were not so tranquil on the decks where I noticed someone all ruffled up demanding that Comcast or Verizon Wireless be urgently summoned lest the cruise company should drop the claim of being “a complete package” and “the perfect vacation”. The cruise staff urged calm but the gentleman was in no mood to reason it out. On sensing that the cruise staff were not “empowered” to fulfill his wishes, (and also had no way of reaching these wireless companies precisely for the same reason for which this whole drama had been staged – i.e. the lack of wireless communication) he preached about the power of empowerment. He never claimed to be a grandee but such was his passion about these topics that he felt that the whole crew and guests were bereft of such an exhilarating experience. And saying so, he jumped onto a lifeboat and sailed on the gentle blue of the Caribbean.
Of course, noticing the events on and off board, my heart became tremulous and I had the direct sense of mortality I have ever experienced, but when I saw the delight on his face and heard him sing “Row row row the boat …” with a never before experienced zest, I realized that this was a win-win situation for all. The crew was most delighted, the kids missed him momentarily but were so habituated that they knew how to deal with it. As regards Ritesh, the moment he hit the Miami coast, he hip hip hurrayed (if there is a word), Columbus style, Yeah! It finally works!!!! And such was the delight and thrill in his pitch that I finally woke up only to realize that there he was lying next to me with a beatific expression on his face, fast asleep but with his arm around his blackberry.

My dear friend, Pooja’s travelogues always has this effect on me. (Check out her blog : http://travelure.blogspot.com/) She gives such vivid descriptions, I feel I am present at the said location enjoying the vistas and admiring the sunsets. Such was the effect on reading her travelogue of the cruise to the Caribbean (which goes by the same title); I fell to sleep thinking about it and immediately transported myself into dreamland. The result was the above. This “dream” was also possible only after a frank and fearless discussion with my good friend Samiksha who shared her thoughts about the “auto mode” that men go into as soon as their Blackberries buzz. It was rather refreshing to note that I was not alone in cursing the “other one” in our life – the third angle in our triangle.

Disclaimer: And before I am bashed up for bashing Ritesh, let me assure you that this has been posted with his approval and not under any duress.

Taran’s story

(As dictated to Ritesh on June 27th, 2008)

The Niagara Falls is so beautiful. Everybody will love it because it’s so beautiful. I had a very good drive from New Jersey to Canada yesterday. We reached Canada in the evening and we met Nanaji, Nani, Amit mama, Richa mami, Gauranshi and Kanav bhaiya. There were firecrackers in the night. The waterfalls were also lit up colorfully. After seeing the fireworks, I ate a chocolate and vanilla icecream and Roshan ate a vanilla icecream. I shared with Nanaji my icecream. Then, we walked a little more to get into a taxi and then the taxi drove us to our hotel. We ate dinner and I ate idli and Roshan ate paratha and Gauranshi ate paratha and jam. Then I changed into my nightsuit and then, I went off to sleep. I woke up fresh in the morning after a nice long night’s sleep.


Roshan’s story

(As dictated to Ritesh on June 28th, 2008)

We went to the Niagara Falls today and then we went on a boat. The boat went all the way to the base of the Niagara Falls. There was so much spray from the falls that we all. got wet. We had worn blue raincoats and on the other side, they were wearing yellow raincoats. Then we had some icecream. We went to Boston Pizza to eat some lunch. I ate French fries and chicken fingers and I drank some apple juice. Then, Taran, Papa and I went into the sky wheel. The sky wheel turned 4 times and it went so high and I was not scared. I was holding Papa’s hand. When we went up, I was almost touching the sky. We went to Gauranshi and Kanav bhaiya’s new house. I am having lots of fun there.

The woman with the basketball
Story by Taran Idnani (as dictated to his papa on June 14th, 2008)

The woman was playing basketball in the basketball court in Bridgewater, NJ. She was practicing her game because she was just learning to play the game and she wanted to play with others when she learnt to play a little better. She slipped while she was playing the game on the court. She got hurt and then blood came out from her right knee. She went to her house and put an alcohol swab on her knee. She drove in her Honda Civic back to the basketball court. Then she started playing again and then she didn’t get hurt. She learnt how to play basketball.

Tiger Woods – the golf player
Story by Roshan Idnani
(as dictated to his papa on June 14th, 2008)
Tiger Woods was playing golf at the park in New York City. He was there in the park with his kid. Then, his wife also came to the park. Then they went bicycling in the park and they went home after that. At home, they ate some chicken nuggets. They then switched on the television and they watched a movie “Finding Nemo”.

Earlier this year, I was driving with Taran and Roshan when I pointed to a snowman someone had made in front of their house. The sun was shining bright and as a result the snowman looked a caricature version of it’s former self. I asked my kids what made the snowman different from the day before and the result was a rather interesting conversation and if I may say, an intellectual one too, considering we are talking about 3.5 year old twins.
Taran piped up: The sun is shining so bright and so the snowman is melting.
Me: Excellent. What will happen if the sun keeps shining bright every day?
Both: All the snow will melt.
Me: Good job, boys. Now tell me do you remember that there is a lot of snow and glaciers near the north and the south pole?
Both: Yes, there is a lot of snow where Santa lives and in Antarctica.
Me: So what will happen if it keeps getting hot?
Both: All the snow will melt.
Me: Super. Then what will happen?
Taran: There will be a lot of water in the Arctic ocean near the North pole and in the Atlantic ocean near the south pole.
Me: Wow! Do you remember that all the oceans are interconnected?
Roshan: Yes, so there will be a lot of water in all the oceans.
Me: Excellent! Then, what will happen?
Roshan: Maybe, there will be tsunamis in the ocean.
Taran: If there is a lot of water, then all the islands will disappear. That will be so sad. :<(
Needless to say, my heart swelled with pride to observe the thought process of these little kids and the resulting emotion they felt. But if they can get it, then for God’s sake will someone explain why President Bush doesn’t get it?















Taran: Happy Fathers Day, papa. I made a blue handprint for you beacuse you like blue color.
Ritesh: Thank you so much.
Roshan: Happy Fathers Day, papa. I made a purple handprint for you because my friend Morgan likes purple!!!


3 months ago, when I picked up my kids from school, their teacher, Ms Cathy said that during circle time when children get a chance to talk about whatever they wish, Taran raised his hand rather eagerly and this was the conversation that followed:

Ms. Cathy: Yes, Taran, what would you like to talk about?
Taran: "Three people want to become the president - Hillary Clinton, "Barrat Obama" and "John MTain". But only one can become the president."
Ms. Cathy, wide-eyed and wide-smiled: How do you know that?
Taran: I read it in the New York Times.

Fast forward to yesterday, when the following conversation took place between the two brothers:

Taran: My brother, do you know that Hillary Clinton does not want to become the president now?
(Clearly, we have not yet had a dinner table conversation to discuss the concept and process of nomination - so it is not the "want"; it is the "can't")
Roshan: I already know that.
Taran: Now there are only 2 people who want to become the president - "Barrat Obama" and "John MTain".
Roshan: I already know that.
Taran: Who do you wish should be the president?
Roshan: I want "Barrat Obama" to become the president because papa likes him and I like him. Who do you want as your president?
Taran: George Bush is a "Republitan" and John "MTain" is also a "Republitan". So that does not be fair if all the time "Republitans" be the president. But Barrat Obama is a “Demotrat” so I want him to become the president.

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Hey there, as promised, I am back with an update. I am 6 weeks into my training. I have pretty much kept with the recommended training schedule. Also, I am thrilled that I have reached 53% of my fundraising goal. Many thanks to those who have donated towards my goal. And also to those who have sent me “stamina vibes”. And a big thanks to my good friend, Priya, for writing about my walk on her blog. Check out the post “All for a good cause” dated May 9, 2008 at http://reachpriya.tumblr.com/
Aah! Publicity - the frill benefits!!!
And for those who feel guilty of refusing to walk with me when I tried to rope in all of my friends in search of a walking partner, sweetie, here is your BIG chance to shed all your guilt. Just click on the link below and DONATE! :>)
http://info.avonfoundation.org/site/TR/Walk2008/NewYork?px=3864907&pg=personal&fr_id=1660&et=pLyyEexIUoHiqyFurenZ6Q..&s_tafId=323782
The fun part of this whole experience was when I attended one of the webinars made by my “Walker buddy” (a person from Avon who assists you in your preparation for the walk). She urged us to buy “wicking” material fitness apparel and 2-3 pairs of sturdy shoes. Right from that day, I was on a mission. It was not because I love to shop and each time there is a “sale” which, of course, happens every week, I am back rushing from the parking lot with the fervor of a child who is about to get his favorite toy; it is because I am a good citizen – I wish to contribute to the top line of the stores! It is also because you have got to wear fitness gear … after all you do not want to be covered with rash and blisters. And, let’s look at the positive side; I am “walking” in the malls too. And now that I have justified my visits, I have to admit DH has been very encouraging – his wallet is turning lighter by the week but the sweetheart that he is, he always says, “Go for it!” So, in true Academy awards style, this one is for you, honey. I am glad I have you in my life.

Last week I read a news report about a Japanese man finding a woman in his closet. Apparently, the woman had been staying there for almost one year. The woman told the police that she had nowhere to live. The report ended by saying that the Police suspect she might have been closet-hopping, moving from house to house. Hours after I finished reading the article, I kept ruminating over it especially the last sentence. She had proved Maslow's hierarchy of needs correct by trying to meet her basic human needs. But I also kept thinking about the woman and her complete isolation. For one whole year, no one had noticed that she had simply vanished without trace, while she endured loneliness and suffering. I was provoked by her suffering and her unique response to it. She could keep living to fulfill her physiological and safety needs but all these months must have damaged her spirits more than her body. It made me realize that worse than hunger, pain, discomfort and defeat is the feeling that no one, absolutely no one, cares about us. I hope no one experiences such emotions. I prayed for the woman and thanked the news article for reaffirming the value of friendship and my faith in family. I said a silent prayer thanking God for blessing me with both, a loving family and wonderful friends.
Click on the link below for the news article mentioned above:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080530/wl_asia_afp/japancrimeoffbeat_080530084124

YOU COULD SAVE A LIFE

STROKE: Remember The 1st Three Letters... S.T.R .

My friend sent this to me and encouraged me to post it and spread the word. I agree. If everyone can remember something this simple, we could save some folks.

During a party, a friend stumbled and took a little fall - she assured everyone that she was fine and just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. (they offered to call ambulance) . They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food - while she appeared a bit shaken up, Ingrid went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Ingrid's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00pm , Ingrid passed away.) . She had suffered a stroke at the party. Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Ingrid would be with us today. Some don't die. They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead.
STROKE IDENTIFICATION:
A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough.
RECOGNIZING A STROKE:
Remember the '3' steps, STR . Read and Learn!
Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster.
The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.
Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions :
S * = Ask the individual to SMILE .
T * = TALK. Ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (Coherently) (eg 'It is sunny out today').
R * = Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS .
If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call the ambulance and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

NOTE : Another 'sign' of a stroke is
1. Ask the person to 'stick' out their tongue.
2. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other that is also an indication of a stroke.
So please spread the word. You may end up saving a life….and it could be your own.

Me: Roshan, can you count by 10?
Roshan: Yes, I can, It is 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100.
Me: Wow! Taran, can you count by 3?
Taran: No, mummy, please ask me some tricky ones.
Me: Ok, can you count by 6?
Taran: It is 6, 12, 18, 24, 30 and 36.
Me: Excellent! Now, Rosh can you please count by 5?
Roshan: Ok. It is 5, 10, 12 ...
Taran, interjecting immediately and itching to give the answer: No, it is not 12. Please let me tell you what it is.
Roshan, vehemently sticking to his stand: No, it is 12.
Taran: No, it is not. Ok, please let me whisper the answer in your ears. It is 15.
Roshan: It is 12.
Me: Are you sure Rosh?
Roshan, aware that he made a mistake but not wanting to be outdone: Actually, they changed the skip counting from today. Till yesterday it was 5, 10 and 15 but from today it is 5, 10 and then 12.

Of Trials, Tribulations and Training
(Posted on my Avon walk for breast cancer web page on Thu, May 01, 2008 @ 11:10 PM )

Training begins in earnest! If you are thinking "WALK?!?! 39.3 miles!!! this girl ????" then, I am definitely with you.(If you are not thinking that, look at the photo and you will) It is definitely a Herculean task. And trust me, for someone who has not walked a total of 39 miles in her life, it required a lot of physical/mental strength and motivation just to sign up for this. But if there is one thing I do not lack, it is determination especially when it comes to helping out in this dreaded disease - CANCER. As many of you know, I have seen this closely. My father is a cancer survivor, two uncles fought bravely but could not make it, a good friend's mother is a breast cancer survivor and now, a very close friend's husband is trying to fight it off (and I sure hope he wins this battle).
So, when an opportunity came in the guise of walking for breast cancer, I sure took it up. I also derive inspiration from some friends who have run the marathon and some who swim 10 miles at a stretch and cycle 20 miles at a stretch (I bow my head in reverence to them). If they can do it (and return to run the following year), I can, at least walk. I am certain it will be an experience that will test my endurance but I am positive that my faith will help me through this journey.
I started training earlier this week (April 28th 2008) and I have reached the recommended goal of 14 miles for this week. Sure enough, my muscles are screaming, after all I had not stepped into the gym for the last 3 months. But, with every step I took, I felt there was a hope that someone somewhere in the world may not need to experience this horrific disease the way the less fortunate have. With every step I took, I felt there was a hope that at least there will be one less person who gets to know (the way I did 4 years ago) that their parent is suffering from cancer.
I am so glad I took the opportunity to dramatically impact the lives of millions affected by breast cancer worldwide. And I sincerely hope that you will support me in my endeavor. Just remember, your support can make a difference to the lives of not only those men and women who are affected by this disease, but their loved ones too.
So long!

Support me in my Avon walk for breast cancer by visiting my homepage and donating towards the cause:
http://info.avonfoundation.org/site/TR/Walk2008/NewYork?px=3864907&pg=personal&fr_id=1660&et=pLyyEexIUoHiqyFurenZ6Q..&s_tafId=323782

On Sunday, May 18th, my friend’s husband, Atul passed away at a young age of 38. He was diagnosed with brain cancer merely 6 weeks ago. He is survived by his mother, wife, a 4.5 year old son and a 1 year old daughter. The last few weeks have been grueling for him and his family. They had to go through what no one should ever experience.

We all have been programmed to believe that one should let fate intervene in our lives and decide what is best. As much as I try, I fail to fathom what is good in this particular situation. On the contrary, I find it very harsh and cruel for both, Atul and his family. I was fortunate to stand by my friend while she dealt with this crisis. To all out there at the hospital, she was the epitome of strength. But the anguish in her eyes was evident while she stood there helpless, seeing her husband slip away gradually. His mother stood there holding his hand trying to make sense of a situation which was completely nonsensical to begin with. Each day his children waited with anticipation for their dad to return home. Now the only memories they will have of him will be through some video footage and photographs clicked over the years which were meant to capture happy moments and not serve as the only means to know their dad.

Thing will never be the same again for Atul’s family because they have felt the pain of seeing the most important thing in their life disappear from one moment to another. They have experienced their souls getting a blow as if some force snatched their joy away. Yet, they need to go back to the world of dropping the kids to school, washing the dishes, paying the bills, cooking and eating to keep their bodies alive while their souls have a permanent hollow. But at night, they may remain wandering in space, cherishing the moments they spent with Atul as they toss and turn in vain to accept the fact that he is not lying down next to them. However, they have to keep going on, perhaps, with the faith that he has gone to a better place, or else, risk going mad.

As for me, I suffer a huge sense of loss with Atul’s passing. I have always enjoyed interacting with him but what endeared him the most to me was to see how happy my friend was with Atul. The phrase “made for each other” was probably coined with them in mind. I sit here today, reminiscing about the time when Atul made bubbles with his son and my kids in the backyard of his beautiful house, when he drove us to Monterey to see the aquarium and Carmel to experience a stunning sunset and enjoy walking across the cobbled street of this quaint town. I also remember the time when he insisted he would take me to the Golden Gate Bridge on my first trip to California. Years later, it was the same bridge where Atul ran the half marathon with an injured leg. Atul was never the kinds who would fret and fume about anything; on the contrary, his “never say no” attitude and positive frame of mind won him many friends. Perhaps, deep down, he knew that our time on this Earth is short but sacred and we should celebrate each moment. I sincerely hope that he will remain as happy, if not happier, in the place where he has gone. I hope and pray that God gives his family and loved ones the strength and fortitude to deal with this unimaginable loss.

Me: Taran, Roshan, what gift would you like for your 4th birthday?
Taran: Maybe a soccer ball.
Me: Sure. How about you, Roshan?
Roshan: Maybe a car.
Me: Hmm! Ok! Would you like to come with me to Toysrus to choose one?
Roshan: Actually, I meant a car from the dealership.

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