Last day in New Orleans and a broken promise

On Sunday, Sean went to church while I took my time with coffee and shower. After his return we took the street car to the World War II museum. It was a sobering experience to say the least. After seeing photographs of young soldiers, making the ultimate sacrifice to stop evil from destroying our world, after reading narratives, witnessing the devastation that war caused, we wanted to pack up the museum and send it to Washington DC so law makers can do all in their power to prevent another large scale destruction of life and property. As we walked back slowly, both of us were quiet and contemplative. The sights and sounds of war, something that happened years and years ago were still hard to absorb.
Lunch that day was surprisingly easy and delicious. We found Auction House, a conglomeration of restaurants, within a building. I had an amazing Louisiana crab cake and Sean had some concoction that included avocados. We shared a chocolate hazelnut banana empanada from Empa Nola. Instead of getting back to the hotel, we decided to go see the Lafayette cemetery. We waited for eternity, or so it seemed, for a street car to come so I put my time to good use. I watched Ryan’s baseball game on Game changer. You can take a baseball parent out of town for a vacation, you cannot take baseball out of a baseball parent.

But here is the most important information in this blog that you need to know. We broke our promise. We did not take a nap on our final afternoon in New Orleans. We just rested for a while once we got back to our hotel. After church, Sean went scouting for nice restaurants away from the touristy French Quarter, which, in retrospect, we should have done earlier. And he found an Italian restaurant in the downtown area, which, to him, looked promising. Domencina was fancy and delicious. We ended our stay with a truly sumptuous meal and we each ordered a dessert, which we never do. He ordered Cannoli, I ordered Crema cotta that had honey, blueberries and basil. Heavenly.

We walked back to the hotel and rested. No naps. As I said, broken promise and all. In the evening we slowly walked around French quarter absorbing the ambiance and the joie de vivre  that we felt on the first day and which, in my mind, is truly the characteristic of this city. After looking around several sauce shops, we bought hot sauce for Ryan, mask magnet for Sahana,  chocolate covered pecans for both and headed back.
We packed to go back home and watched Cavaliers  beat Celtics. Sean was grumpy and berated King James .

A blog about this trip would be incomplete if I did not mention what we found when we got home. The house was immaculate, my kitchen was organized, counter tops spotless, the lawn was mowed. Ryan did not miss a singe baseball game. Sahana kept everything in order.

The trip was much needed. A little break from routine. But the realization that our daughter was grown up, responsible was priceless.

I love it now!

Two American men took their newly wed brides to a baseball game for the first time. The brides belonged to two different countries, one came from India and the other from Peru. The game was a hotly contested one between two rivals. Both the American men were fans of a team from Boston. The women went to experience the all-American game of baseball, and perhaps to get an inkling of why this game appeals to so many in their newly adopted country. They failed to understand though. But not due to the lack of efforts of their very attentive spouses. The husbands bought yummy ball-park food, put their arms around their respective wives and whispered sweet nothings in their ears when they were not screaming at their team’s success, explained the rules and the reasons whenever they got the chance, yet the women found it hard to keep their focus on the game. They looked everywhere, sighed, stretched, looked at their watches and asked how long the game will last. The Indian one, a big fan of cricket, found this game terribly slow, which surprised her husband. Once the game was over and the ball-park spewed out thousands and thousands of excited fans onto the streets of the city, the Peruvian woman said to her husband in her endearing accent:

‘You like this game? But this is SO BORING!’

She spoke loudly enough to attract some looks. Her husband grinned, looked around and said, ‘Shhhhh…..!’

The Indian woman promised never to see another baseball game ever again. What a waste of time, she said. She could have read books in that time, she scoffed at her husband. And then her sly husband did something to make sure that she would start taking interest in the game. After 6 weeks of giving birth to their first child, when she was desperate to lose the baby weight, her husband urged her to join a women’s softball team. As I said, she was desperate to get rid of the extra pounds so she agreed. Being somewhat athletic, she caught on quickly and played in a local team. She had fun. But still she did not watch baseball. Once was enough.

Then she gave birth to a boy who lived, dreamed, breathed baseball. She made an effort then, to learn the game. She started watching it with the husband and the son. She learnt what tagging meant, she caught on to infield fly rule, she learnt about curve balls, sliders, knuckle ball, stealing home, double play, grand slam.

Now she loves it! She is almost as big a fan of the local team as her son. Almost, not quite. She discusses baseball with friends, neighbors, coworkers. She wears the jersey of her favorite player when she goes to watch a game and wonders how did she ever think the game was boring. Each wind up of her team’s pitcher is full of anticipation, each strike by the favored pitcher promising, each ball disappointing.

She went to a ball game recently with the husband and the son (the daughter refused to sit through it). And she thought back to her first baseball game at the ball park as a young bride, as she jumped up and high-fived the man next to her as a player hit a home run. She screamed with thirty thousand other spectators CHARGE, she clapped with them, she danced with her arms high and did the Mexican wave.

As she entered the ball park with thousands of other people wearing the same colored jersey as her, she felt a certain sense of belonging to the city which brought a smile to her face. She took off her sunhat and touched her chest as the national anthem was sung, and sang along.  She noticed a dad with two little girls watching the game with their grandfather. The littlest one, maybe 3 years old, took care of the granddaddy by offering him drinks and putting her little head on his shoulder. She saw on the big screen,  little babies whose parents held them in one hand and held a poster in the other, saying ‘Baby’s first ball game’. She noticed a son and probably daughter in law holding the hands of a very elderly lady as she navigated the steps to reach her seat with a wide smile on her face. She noticed the play of clouds up above and urged the husband to take a picture with his phone. She got teased for that, but the husband took the picture, anyway.

She smiled as she thought of her first game in the same ballpark all those years ago. She has adapted, adopted and grown indeed. She has come a long way.

My day in 2013.

Trust me, I feel lucky to be alive every day, but then there are days when I take a deep breath, look at the brilliant blue sky and the bright sunshine, I see the fresh green of the leaves and feel the gentle breeze on my face and say in my head, “Man, I am happy to be alive!” Mother’s Day was one such. After gloomy, rainy Friday and Saturday, when I kept my spirits up by constantly chanting, “Self, remember, all this rain is good for the plants. NOW REPEAT’ Sunday dawned bright and gorgeous. Nature smiled and hopefully so did most mothers and mother figures as they woke up to hand made cards, hugs and wishes of Happy Mother’s Day.

I was requested previous night and then threatened that I should stay in my room till at least 7.00 am. I tried to remind the children it was a Sunday and there was absolutely no need for anybody to get up that early. But 7:00 am it was, they had it planned and they were not flexible.

I heard the alarm ring at Sahana’s room at 6:30 am and groaned. I was awake and a captive in my bed. I heard the little brother being woken up. I heard the clash and clang in the kitchen. I flinched at the thought of the mess being made, even though I promised not to sweat the small things at least for a day. I tossed and turned and watched the minute hand drag. Finally, the door creaked open. The boy poked his head to see if I was asleep. He tiptoed over to say a quiet good morning and then seeing my eyes open climbed on to bed to snuggle.

I was invited to the kitchen table and saw this


Sahana and Ryan stood next to it with brilliant smiles. I have to say my eyes glanced over at the kitchen, smile didn’t waver though. Seeing no imminent disaster, I inwardly sighed a sigh of relief. Cards were opened and read, kisses were exchanged, hugs were given. When I discovered my gift, the first realization dawned. The gifts were four packets of seeds. Two of them basil, which I love, one parsley and one sunflower. They explained the symbolism to me.

“We see you as the gardener, Mom, helping us grow. Nurturing us with your love. So we thought seeds would be a good gift. Also, it is spring, we should start planting!”

I smiled at the thoughtfulness of the gift. The morning was getting better and better. Breakfast was eaten. From my previous experiences of mother’s day breakfasts, I was ready for some crunchy egg shells in my fried eggs. I was also ready to take it in my stride and keep the expression unchanged and chew on bravely. The egg shells were absent. I, then, realized I have an almost fourteen year old in my house who is slowly becoming a competent chef. That was the second realization. Both of my children were growing up. The hand made cards are not mere scribbles but actual thoughts. The hand made gift didn’t quite carry the mark of an amateur any more.

But then things didn’t go as planned. The teenager who has to get up at the crack of dawn every day to catch the bus was irritable due to lack of sleep. Arguments began, and they were sent to their rooms. I went to the kitchen to clean up, only to discover that the dishwasher had been unloaded and the kitchen already cleaned up. The stony heart melted a bit and I went back to find them. Sahana was back in bed, fast asleep. Ryan was lying on the couch with a book. I called MY mother to tell her how much I love her and how much I miss her in my day to day life.

While Sahana slept most of the morning, Ryan and I took a long, leisurely walk with Sage. We held hands and tried solving all kinds of problems so the world would become a more wonderful place than it already is. We talked, also, about fantastic things like eating healthy and exercising. Ryan’s reason for doing so is somewhat different than mine. He wants a prospective wife to check him out at some point. I said eating healthy should be about keeping your health good. To that, he dismissively said, “Oh yeah! That too!”

We planted the seeds and tangled with Sage in the yard while Sahana slept on. I tried to figure out her logic of making me breakfast at 7:00 am and then sleeping the entire day. But who said teenagers were logical? She finally woke up around lunch time. I ended up making their favorite lunch, I ended up taking Sahana to the library to work on her project, I ended up taking Ryan to his baseball game, and then finally, I ended up making dinner for all.

In every way, the day was business as usual, except the morning celebration. But then again, it wasn’t. The unexpected hugs by both the kids made it different, the beautiful note that my husband sent me from a far away land made it different, the runner duo who we met on our walk wishing me ‘happy mother’s day’ as they ran by us made it different, the gorgeous sky, bright sunshine, birds chirping on the trees made it different. As I high fived Ryan on his brilliant catch and double play in his baseball game, he nodded shyly and said, “That was for you mom. Happy Mother’s Day!” That made it very different. I came home with a heart full of happy songs.