My NRI chashma

Standard

IMG_3089

In this selfie we covered our driver too

This summer I went to India after four long years. Well! I enjoyed my trip, had loads of fun with family and friends. Did whole bunch of travelling…eating…reading….and shopping!

But while I was busy in my activities, I realized the massive and rapid change our navin Bharat is going through….new infrastructure, new spending power, new aspirations, new ambitions…wow! kudos to our government, our leaders and our people.

I am eager to share with you this striking change I experienced in people, places, attitudes, and choices overall. Of course my views are confined to the people I saw, met, spoke to and observed while travelling and living in cities…they definitely do not represent the whole nation and there are exceptions…so I request the readers to enjoy with open and unbiased mind…….Here’s what I saw through my LADIES NRI chashma:

  • Money wise – Ten rupees is the new one rupee and five hundred note is the new one hundred note
  • Everything is four times expensive…a beggar refuses to take five rupees
  • Domestically – Women are stressed over their baais (household maids)
  • On an average people have two to three domestic helpers, children miss their nannies over parents
  • Trend wise – Artistic yoga, power yoga, hot yoga, rumba, samba are the buzz words among fitness freaks
  • Bollywood dancing is hot while traditional dancing is cold
  • Drinking is the new normal coz Teetotalers are abnormal
  • Craze for branded stuff is out of hand
  • Online shopping is hot…..shopping in crowded stores is lame
  • People have moved on from yoga with Ramdev baba to herbal products with Baba’s Patanjalli
  • Hanging out in malls and bowling alleys is something while time pass on kattas like the good old days is nothing
  • Technologically – Virtual life on Facebook is more important than real life
  • Every person from bai to dabbawalla in gaav to city is on whatsapp!
  • Parties, picnics, celebrations and dev darshan all are incomplete without selfies
  • Smart phones are in and mobiles with press buttons are out
  • Texting on phone is trendy while face to face conversation is waste of time
  • Playing games on electronic devices are cool while playing on the play ground is old school
  • Fashion wise – Western outfits among women are must haves while traditional clothing is heavy…”Kon pehenta hai ab”
  • In skirt without satin and saree blouse without latkan are bore
  • Hair straightening is a big hit
  • Tunics and kurtas over jeans or leggings is everywhere while dupattas and pallus are too much to wear
  • Gold jewelry out of fashion against imitation jewelry which is most preferred
  • Among the kids – Parties are incomplete without donuts, cupcakes, burgers, pizzas and pastas while Wada pav, chaat, or other gharguti items are outdated and cheap options
  • Coaching classes start before seeking admission in school and college
  • New student routine is school, home, tuition, TV, and computer
  • Spending power – Air ports are the new railways stations and budget airline is the new Rajdhani express
  • Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand trips are more common than Rajasthan and Kerala tours among senior citizens and honeymooners
  • Any day anytime in cities wait to be seated in a restaurant is minimum thirty to forty minutes
  • With the new construction, pollution, and population explosion it looks like urban Bharat will take over…our natural Bharat…

What can I say…change is inevitable….

India is racing change…..as someone has already said that if you do not create change, change will create you!

so my bharatiya bandhu and bhaginis…..before it is too late….adapt to this change 

Advertisements

Nritya Hriday 2015

Standard

I want to dedicate this post to the classical dance form of Bharatnatyam in honor of Nritya Hriday 2015. Bay area Nritya guru Megha Shetty hosts bharatnatyam dance program Nritya Hriday every year with her students. This year the nritya group hosted Nritya Hriday 2015 at the Jain temple, Milpitas on March 21st. 

Bharatnatyam is a graceful dance form that incorporates meaningful dance and dialogue with emphasis on facial and eyes expressions embedded in sculptural poses. It is termed as natya shastra, which translates as science of theater. Bharatnatyam dance was invented in the temples of Indian southern state of Tamilnadu. Lord Shiva is regarded as the god of this dance form. The lyrics of songs, shlokas, and dialogues in the stories enacted in bharatnatyam are based in Sanskrit and Tamil language and composed predominantly in Indian classical Carnatic music.

For the past two weeks while prepping for my daughter’s dance performance I realized, just how much it takes to put up with this dance on stage. Her dance group was busy practicing for the big day, while I was busy arranging for her costume, accessories, jewelry, etc. Here, I want to specially thank Seema for letting us borrow the costume and jewelry because the mallari dance group would have been incomplete without her help.

DSC00885

The Mallari group with guru Megha and Meena

 

With my gorgeous friend Meena

With my gorgeous friend Meena

This dance form requires custom made dress that accentuates bharatnatyam dance poses. The dancers need to have a specific hairstyle with make up and the temple jewelry to go with the whole ensemble. I think, I was stressing out more than my daughter in this process because this was her first year of bharatnatyam. I spent hours in watching YouTube videos on bharatnatyam tutorials for hairstyles and makeup. Of all, I found the hairstyle most challenging because my daughter has really short hair.

DSC00878

In the wing before the dance performance

After two dress rehearsals with hairstyle and makeup trials, it took me two and a half hours to get her completely ready for the final performance. Of course, it would not have been possible without the assistance of Shivani. I really admire the way all the girls in the program carried themselves and danced on the stage gracefully with the heavy getup.

DSC00873

The Mallari Group

DSC00857

The Allaripu group

 

The program got a traditional head start with an authentic Nataraja and ghungroo puja. Next up were the dances on various invocatory items of bharatnatyam like alarippu, mallari, pushpanjali, varnam, and thillana. The program concluded with some semi classical and contemporary form of dances. All the dancers looked fabulous, and performed flawlessly to make Nritya Hriday 2015 a huge success. With audiences in their ethnic clothes the aura of the auditorium was culturally rich and nostalgic because it reminded of India at its core. The whole program was covered by INDTV and felicited by Cupertino city council member Mrs. Savita Vaidyanathan. In the end, all the dancers were rewarded with a trophy and a certificate. Not only the performances on the stage, but also after watching and experiencing the backstage closely, I salute Nritya guru Megha Shetty who strives to continue the legacy of bharatnatyam miles and miles away from our home country. She inspires our girls to follow their passion by dedicating her life to dance. 

DSC00891

The Nritya Hriday dance troupe

DSC00882

With guru Megha Shetty

 

Mommy Will Clean The Mess

Standard

I found a really apt board at the deli place we went as a family for lunch after hiking on Saturday. After reading it, my family was smiling at each other and swearing on how true it is.

 IMG_2842

I want to dedicate this post to all the mommies in the world who clean the mess created by their children. Lets just consider the morning chaos in every household having children while getting them ready for the day. Parents fight the battle to get their children out of the bed, at the breakfast table, and drop them in the school every morning. I always thought our morning trivia would get better as the children grow up, but new challenges keep popping in every growing phase. Not to mention the mess of clothes, toys, books, papers and everything in and around the bedroom to kitchen to bathroom to hall and to the car that accompanies them. Therefore, some times  the morning situation in my house is enough to get my heart rate up without burning it on the treadmill.

I think women are genetically engineered with the crisis management skill because they do whatever it takes to uproot the cause of the mess, and flawlessly clean it to make the house spik and span for yet another messy attack. My to do list of the day always tops with clear the mess and clean the house in the morning. Sometimes it is so bad that I wonder where do I start?

Most often, I lighten up my mood by treating the cleaning process as a mission to lost and found because you will be surprised with the places where I discover lost household items. With my kind of expertise I know that  in, under and around the sofa area is rich in pencils, eraesers, markers and pens. Glasses, their cases, TV remotes, hand phones, head balms are sure to be found under the throws, pillows, or blankets. Lost home work assignments, report cards can be found under mommy’s dresser, or pillow, coz that is where they are the safest.  Daddy’s iPhone, business magazines and books are sure to be found in the bathroom coz that is his favorite place of reading while relaxing. Lost laptops are sure to be found with the DVDs and headphones, but finding lost DVDs can scare the creativity of you. Like you have to be able to digest the relation between the lost thing and its place on this mission. For example,  we were almost about to buy a new phone last month after giving up all the hopes to find it at home until  one day I found it in the freezer section of our refrigerator. It is a different thing that we had to buy a new phone anyways coz the frozen phone won’t respond, but at least my mission was successful.  

I remember one of my friends always explained the everyday morning disaster in her house by saying “My house looks like it is hit by a tornado.” Most of my friends welcome others in their house by saying “Sorry yaar! but please ignore the mess in my house.” I totally empathize with them because I am sailing in the same boat.

Although real, I imagine myself on this selfless mission of relentless work towards success as a virtual reality because my mission to lost and found is only for me to execute and you to read. Forget about acknowledging, the best part after  flipping the house to almost clean and finding things to place them in their right place is that, nobody even notices it at the end of the day.  Because, children are sure at the back of their mind that mommy will clean the mess.

 

Benefits of Drawing and Art Activities in Children’s brain development

Standard

IMG_2790

As a mother when I introduced drawing and art activities to my children I did not know the technicality of drawing and its connection with brain development. I knew that such activities make children smart and create more awareness about colors, sequences and understanding shapes and sizes. In fact, when my children learned to color inside the boundary of a drawing it was like a big milestone in their overall development by itself. Today, my job as a social media manager at webewanda.com requires me to tweet and blog about benefits of drawing and art activities in the brain development of children. Therefore, It is only now while doing my research about how children benefit from drawing, I came across some amazing facts of how the little brains explore and get to know about the world through simple scrawling and doodling.

Children start drawing and art lessons as toddlers with scribbling and drawing. Once they enjoy the activity we find children doodling not only on the papers but everywhere around the house. This little activity is helping their brain develop fine motor skills, expand their image vocabulary, and increase focus and concentration while developing attention to details. Holding the pencil or crayon trains their hands and fingers to use a writing medium on the paper in a specific way. Coloring the sun yellow, or a flower red teaches them to identify objects with their colors and thereby add on to their existing list of image vocabulary. It takes focus and concentration to finish coloring an object like completing a project or an assignment. Thus, children become aware of time management and responsibility to finish the work at hand. Finally, such an activity boosts their confidence especially with the appreciation that comes with it from their parents and teachers.

Most of all, art activity instills a way of expression among children and therefore often time children draw things, which they can feel but cannot explain verbally.

When children are given a topic to draw, no two drawings are same because every child thinks differently. Therefore, art activities enhance creativity, imagination and courage for experimentation. Art helps to develop cognitive skills among children that increases their curiosity to learn more about something.

So make art supplies like papers, drawing books, markers, crayons and pencils readily available to your children. Let them splash their hands with paint and color the walls if they enjoy it because this is when you are helping your children build their basic blocks of brain development and with it formulate their understanding of the world.

The H4 EAD Immigration Bill

Standard

IMG_2777

The news of H4 EAD comes like a ray of hope at the end of the horizon; only in my case reaching that end of horizon took eight long years. As a Indian wife, the cultural values of supporting our husbands, raising our children well, and running the household efficiently kept me going in spite of the setback on professional front. My decision of staying in the US was only a matter of time because the wait for H4 EAD was getting on the frustrating track. People had given up hopes on any development on H4 EAD front. As a result, I met so many women at the University who converted their status from H4 to F1 in order to be able to work after completion of their degree. Their families were ready to take the brunt of exorbitant international fees coming with F1 status as the cost of accessibility to work. 

Therefore, the H4 EAD rule brings monumental success of permitting H1 spouses to work for the first time in the history of US immigration. Kudos to all the people who strived to make the H4 EAD bill a reality coz it opens new doors of opportunities for women like me. The news of H4 EAD will give a newfangled confidence to all the aspiring women  waiting for permission to work with a higher degree and experience in hand.

My story in the US illustrates one such example. When I came to the US eight years back, my kids were small and they really needed me at home so living with or without EAD did not make any difference to me then. I was busy enjoying American way of bringing up kids by taking them to the parks, reading books and attending story sessions in the local library. However, I felt the pinch when both of them started going to full time school and getting independent. I suddenly felt the hollow in my life and felt the scare of loosing my self somewhere in the process. Nonetheless, my decision to go back to school was also an output of the restlessness and guilt of not being able to do anything professionally in that situation.

I have to acknowledge that although H4 visa allows to study as a local student it also imposes some constraints with respect to registration in certain programs. I could not participate in the wonderful graduate training associate (GTA) program even after qualifying for it because the GTAs get a stipend and  reimbursement  of tuition which is not allowed on H4. I also had to do all my internships on pure volunteer basis coz H4 visa holders are not allowed to earn. Thus based on my sweet and sour experiences, I think H1 spouses who kept themselves constructively busy in spite of all the set backs, will definitely benefit the most out of this rule because these individuals enriched their experiences with active volunteering, studying or community involvement during the long wait for H4 EAD rule. Therefore, now is the time when they will reap the benefits of their overall achievement with open access to work in their respective fields.

I hereby wish all the very best to the H1 spouses who will be legally allowed to work as per the new H4 EAD rule. I would also like to extend my good wishes to the H1 spouses who are waiting to fall under the H4 EAD category.

Don’t lose hopes, we are almost there!

 

The Viral Outbreak

Standard

 

I had  plans to make my childrens’ winter break memorable with a skiing vaca, so as to catch the last snow of the season but in vain, coz as a family there was something else in store for us. They say as a parent your immune system strengthens in first five years of your child’s birth because children catch all sorts of infections that their bodies are unaware off mostly from their day care centers and schools. While helping the children build resistance to these infections, parent bodies also get exposed to these bugs and as a result the first five years prove crucial for the children and their parents to build antibodies that fight such viral and bacterial infections.

Even after surpassing the five-year immunity term children often come home with highly contagious bacterial or viral infections. I was down for the past two weeks with one such gift of love from my kid. First, I helped my kids fight it out and then they switched the roles to help me combat this viral infection. This was almost like a super bug viral that we were infected with because I noticed that after almost all the other symptoms vanished the bug attacked our lungs with cough, and phlegm. My doctor told me that we were affected with the viral in air that starts with sore throat, fever, cold and ends up with whooping kind of cough and vomiting or diarrhea in some cases. So the best way to protect yourself from getting such an infection from your near and dear ones is keep your hands clean. Use soap or antibacterial to wash your hands frequently.

Apparently every other person I am speaking to living in my area is complaining about being affected by this viral in some form. Last week schools in Cupertino school district were closed on account of winter break, but most kids spent their vacation at home because of the viral outbreak. With only three and half months left to finish this school year, I hope it was the last major flu or viral outbreak for us.

Walk of Life

Standard


IMG_2819So this is my new routine…I am doing exactly what I had only been planning to do regularly for the past six years. Yes, you got it! I am exercising everyday. I religiously get up early in the morning and after dropping the kids to the school, I get ready and hit the gym. I have had my break after the semester got over, and I have no more classes to attend or study for, so do I have any excuse?

Tell you what, after following the strict regime of almost everyday gymming for the past three weeks, I am actually feeling great. I wont say it works or not as yet, but at least I feel refreshed and rejuvenated. And now as a regular gym member I have made some interesting hardcore exerciser friends who are into running marathons, hiking, and biking apart from their everyday workout routines. I got so inspired by them and their stories that I thought about giving it a try too.

Guess what? I decided to go for a hike at Rancho San Antonio with my girls on last Sunday. One cannot help but  feel the sun, the fresh air, the lush green mountains, the happy kids running around, the mommies and daddies brisk walking with their babies in the prams, and of course the veteran hikers, bikers and runners who lighten up the place with an organic and healthy aura overall. It is appalling to have missed  on such a beautiful place and the walking opportunity for so long. It felt like the whole of Cupertino was there at the ranch with their kids except me.

I could see me my girls excited and enthralled while running, jumping, and talking all at once. They acted like park rangers guiding me through the trails and showing me different techniques to walk without getting out of breath. However, once when we were climbing uphill, I was so much out of breath that it was like my heart was trying to come out of my mouth….looking at my state my girls kept on asking mommy are you ok? Although I pretended I was all but normal, I realized in the fast race of life to achieve my objective I totally neglected my body.

So as of today I decide to continue my exercising regime as much as possible and take such self-realization hikes every now and then.