You are looking very handsome these days….


I have been giving Sean compliments for the last 4 days. Maybe I am noticing more, maybe the 10 day long break he took did wonders, maybe the sun hits him the right way illuminating the green in his eyes and highlighting his gorgeous smile, I don’t know why but he looks exceptionally handsome. So I told him that. There may have been some surprise in my voice when I told him, “You look very handsome.” He looked a little abashed and happy 😊.

Last night Sahana noticed it too. She exclaimed, “Dad, you look so fit. You look very handsome.” I found an ally!

“Doesn’t he? I have been telling him that. He looks very handsome these days.”

I gave both of them an arsenal.

“These days? He looks handsome these days? You did not think he was handsome before? Dad did you hear your wife?”

Sean jumped in, acting all aggrieved.

I tried to defend myself saying he was always handsome but he had started looking haggard with his intermittent fasting routine and too much exercise. Now he has just the right amount of weight and sleep. He looks fresh.

But I was not allowed to finish my sentence. They jumped on the word “haggard”.

“Wow, mom, you are digging yourself into a deeper hole. Haggard? You are calling your husband haggard? Dad how does that make you feel?”

Sean acted all hurt and said he did not want to talk about it. The more I wanted to defend myself, the more my words were twisted.

There is a mischief making demi God in Hindu mythology called Narad. He causes mischief and initiates quarrel among people. Sahana was Narad incarnate. The three of us laughed. I am documenting simple, every day joyful moments whenever I can.

A joy


Yesterday, while out on an errand, I watched a little girl going ahead of her family. She could not have been more than 7 or 8. Her head was down and it seemed she was focused on the sidewalk below her feet. Her family walked leisurely behind her. But she was not walking though. She was skipping. She wore a white dress with rainbow colors at the bottom of it. Her shoes were white too. Her hair seemed wild, unruly and as happy as her motion was – bouncy. With each skip her hair bounced. And it all made a perfect picture of joy.

I watched her skip for as long as I could till I could see her no more. And on the first day of a new year, I thought of the joy she exuded – being with her family, somewhat ahead of them on a spring like December day, the last day of the year in fact, skipping instead of walking.

The “goods” in the week of September 20th.


Not just good, the amazing event this week was how my coworkers surprised me by engraving two paving stones in memory of my parents in the garden of our library. My baba loved nature and ma loved books. There can not be a more perfect place for the two of them – a garden in a library. Now I have a clear destination to go to during my breaks and lunch.

I cried when I saw what they had done. My family was there too. I cried because I feel the love that envelopes me in my universe. I don’t realize it every day but when I think about it, I know. Ma and baba, if they are watching over me, must be smiling.

I continue to read The Book of Delights by Ross Gay and continue to be amazed by the poet’s depth of perception and his ability to acknowledge delights.

I made it to one of Ryan’s water polo games. They won and Ryan played so well. I blew him a kiss from the stands and he acknowledged it with a shy smile before their game started.

Sahana is finishing up one of her jobs this week. She will become my colleague from today. She is joining my library system. I hope she has a great experience. The job of a public librarian is one of the best.

I am savoring the book Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. That is my book suggestion for this week if you enjoy historical fiction as well as literary fiction.

I wrote not one but two book reviews for our library blog after many, many months. It was not easy putting thoughts into words after such a long interval but I did it. Fortunately we have great editors.

After a year and a half, my co facilitator and I started our historical fiction book club at work. Both of us were slightly apprehensive about face to face interaction with participants but it turned out to be wonderful. The book club members even clapped for us for doing this. It felt meaningful.

The four of us went for dinner last night as a family. That certainly goes into my list of “goods” because what used to be a norm even a few years ago, has become an exception due to the different schedules of my family members. Dinner time was always special for me. It makes me sad that we do not eat dinner together anymore.

Before dropping Ry off at the dorm, we sat next to each other as he worked on his English paper. These short moments of sitting together before going our own ways to tackle the work/school week are precious.

And lastly, a word about my “obstinate ma plant.” As my summer plants are winding down and I am considering putting the garden to bed, obstinate ma plant sprouted some new buds. She is holding on to life. I just wish her namesake did the same.

Hope your list of “goods” is long. Have a great week.

The “goods” in the week of September 13th.


I have to dig deep for the “goods” this week because mentally, this week was pretty bad.

I am starting to make myself comfortable with the idea that I may need grief counseling. Perhaps that is what “stay strong” means – seek help.

Sahana and I had some good conversations about her future. It gives me immense pleasure to hear, and sometimes counsel about what she wants to do in life. She is seeing more people her age after a hiatus of close to 2 years. That makes me happy.

Ryan was sick at the beginning of the week. He got a Covid test. The result was negative and he is on the mend.

I have started reading The Book of Delights by Ross Gay. These are a compilation of short essays by the poet to mark all that which brings him delight. This is the exercise I am doing as well but I do not possess the poet’s eye for detail or his lyrical prose. The essays do inspire me to “look” more actively. They are wonderful.

After a year and a half, one of my book clubs at work will be meeting in person. Strangely, I am looking forward to it and also not. It will be odd to have an hour long discussion in person but it will be lovely to see everyone.

At work, we ordered Indian food for lunch on Friday.

We went out as a family for dinner on Saturday after many weeks. And also on Sunday before we dropped off Ryan at his dorm. We do not go out as a family any more due to schedules and commitments. It was especially nice to be together and laugh.

Sean and I went for a hike on Sunday morning. The day was perfect and being in nature brought me peace of mind.

I have been consciously meeting my step goals each day.

After many, many months I attempted to write a book review for my work blog.

Hope your list of “goods” is long. Have a great week.

The “goods” in the week of June 21st


Every morning my day starts by sitting in front of the photos of my parents. And then walking out to see the flowers that I planted in their memory. The photos were taken during our “happy” times, on our back deck during one of their visits to USA. With each passing year, they got frail but we captured happiness and youth and energy and froze it in a frame. Looking at those photos each day is one of my “goods” as I savor those joyful memories before I start my day.

On a mundane but important note, we are successfully maintaining our daily schedule with 2 cars. Each week we sit down and do some permutation and combination of who needs to be where at which time and figure out how we can work out the car situation. We have 3 working adults and one teen who is taking Summer Biology and swimming 6 days a week. On top of going to work we need to figure out his drop off and pick up. And so we have a family meeting every Sunday evening. We laugh.

I finished a graphic novel and am now reading The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah. That takes place in my blog of “goods” because my friends had betrayed me for a long time. Since the beginning of this horrendous ordeal I have not been able to focus on a single page of a book. I have written plenty, read none.

Last evening was special when our first born treated us to a lovely dinner with her first ‘real’ paycheck. I get emotional easy these days but as she pulled the check close to her to pay, I choked up. Her grandparents would have been so proud. I also had a pang since I shared all the milestones of my 2 children with their grand parents and this I can not.

Sean and I drove out to water front to have a morning together on Sunday.

Soon we will be going back full time to the branch. I am ready and it will be good for me. It helps if I move all the time. And work is a place where I feel my life is unchanged.

Ryan successfully finished his first week of Summer Biology and is urging a few of his friends not to quit summer classes even though the teachers are teaching an academic year long course within six weeks and the load of work is intense. He got accepted to be a Peer Educator for younger students in his school and I think he is very well suited for this job.

I have started listening to music again. It was bitter sweet since I listened to all the songs that baba loved and sang along. I was cooking as I listened to Hemanta’s golden voice. I cried with every song as I remembered baba’s voice yet it brought some respite.

I get happy speaking to Gouri, Breshpati, Khushi and mashi who are holding the fort for me back in Kolkata. I don’t really want to talk to many people right now. I do love talking to those women. I feel the essence and love of my home through them.

It is a joy to see Khushi’s smiling face peering through the camera.

This morning I got the news the man I entrusted to get ma’s death certificate has been able to collect it. It is strange that it is a part of “goods”. It is though since acquiring it was quite a process.

Obstinate ma plant is blooming a vibrant red.

Sometimes I struggle to write this post as often nothing seems good but when I end up writing it, the list of ‘goods’ surprise me. I hope your list of ‘goods’ is also long. Have a great week, all.

The ‘goods’ this week, April 19, 2021


Since I started this exercise, I am making a mental note of what is good and writing it down as soon as I get a chance. I am not allowing a good moment to pass by without acknowledging it. That is good in itself. However, India is blowing up in Covid cases, many flights going to India have suspended their service, CDC has rated India at the highest level of danger zone. So it has been hard to focus on the good lately but I tried and that has to be enough.

The ‘goods’ this week are as follows:

Ryan got his first Pfizer shot. Now both the kids have at least one shot in them.

Sahana had ordered a cap and gown for her upcoming virtual graduation from college. They came and she tried them on. The special day is not going to be what we hoped for but we will make the best of it.

I got to see 2 of Ryan’s high school water polo games. He is a mean defender and he scored 2 goals yesterday. Most importantly, he is so animated and happy on game days.

Our work will transition to one full day a week and I will get to work with my dear friend who I hardly see any more as our schedules are completely different these days.

I read Brother by David Chariandy for the second time for my book club and felt the author’s luminous prose at the core of my heart. Sometimes sheer beauty of words brings tears to one’s eyes.

I am rehearsing for a play that will be sent to North Atlantic Bengali Association in July. It is a short skit but I do enjoy acting and it takes my mind off from what is going on in real life.

I have quite a few good books waiting for me to read. They are adorning my book shelf. It makes me happy to look at them as they hold unknown stories within their pages.

I did some weeding this week. Although only half of the flower bed is done. I will tackle that.

Warmer weather is on its way.

We tentatively went out to eat in a restaurant. The restaurant was empty so we felt comfortable.

Sean and I went for a walk. As we talked I realized, yet again, how much I love him.

As I ground coffee beans for tomorrow’s first cup of coffee, I looked out of the kitchen window and witnessed a glorious sun set.

I am surprised that this list went on for as long as it did. I am glad I am writing this every week. I am thankful for all the ‘goods’ and the fact I am mindful of them.

Happy Monday and have a great week.

What’s good in my town?


My friend and fellow blogger whose blog site I encourage you to check out at http://theycallmetater.com writes about What’s Good in Tater Town. While I read his posts diligently and like what he writes, I love his posts about What’s Good in Tater Town the most. As I sat outside today and looked at the most beautiful blue sky, the hopeful green of early spring, fat bunnies in my back yard and the familiar ping of ball hitting a baseball bat in the baseball fields behind my house, I realized THIS was good in MY town. Yet my inside was clenched over anxiety about rising Covid cases in India, when can I go home, health and well being of my parents, my distance from them and thousand other thoughts. The constant anxiety is probably taking away years from my life. And then I thought about my friend’s post about what ‘his’ good is in his town. He enlists having dinner with his son and daughter as something good that happened, reading out in the deck is something good that happened, getting a free coffee from Dunkin is something good that happened. These are indeed good things that happened. He notices these, acknowledges these and writes them down. I too have these moments but I am so busy worrying that I gloss over them. And lose them in the process.

So I mindfully looked around me to honor the beautiful day. I looked at the new green and appreciated the life it promised. I had dinner with my family and I focused on what they said. Ryan had a weekend of fantastic swim meet, dropping time in all his events. That was good. Sahana got her first vaccine. That was amazing.

I think I will follow my friend’s example and write down what is good in my town. Who knows, perhaps I will inspire someone to look within their life to find the ‘goods’ like I was inspired?

Funny in Farsi and me


First, a few lines about this funny and beautiful memoir by Firoozeh Dumas, Funny in Farsi: A memoir of growing up Iranian in America.

Firoozeh’s father Kazem, an engineer with the National Iranian Oil Company, got assigned to consult for an American firm for about two years and moved to Whittier, California with his wife Nazireh, 7-year-old daughter Firoozeh and 14-year-old son Farsheed in 1972. Farid, their oldest son was already in US completing his high school education. Firoozeh Dumas begins her memoir, by documenting her experience at Leffingwell Elementary school where she sat in the classroom with her non-English-speaking mother as her elementary school teacher tried to make them feel welcome by talking about Iran and inviting her mother to point out Iran on a world map in front of the class. Firoozeh’s mother had no idea. With brilliant humor and wit, Dumas writes her experiences in this memoir of growing up as an Iranian immigrant in America, pre and post Iranian revolution. At the beginning of her memoir, Dumas is touched by the kindness that Americans show towards her immigrant family. She feels people are truly interested in knowing their culture and making them feel welcome. She is also perplexed in equal measure at the ignorance of folks about cultural life in Iran, asking her if she went to school in a camel and if so, where they kept their camel. And how many Persian cats she had. She went to school in her father’s Cadillac, but she resorted to answering the camel question by saying they kept the camel in their garage.  She also writes about her experiences as an Iranian in America after the American hostage crisis in Iran and how American perspective about her family changes overnight. However, she does not harp on the cruelty she faced as an Iranian immigrant. Instead she focuses on her crazy yet fun extended family, their love and support for each other, their ambition to see their children succeed and their unmistakable love for their adopted country. In this memoir Dumas introduces us to her sweet and endearing dad, who fully immerses himself into the new culture that America offers which involves fast food, seeking to be rich via Bowling for Dollars, and every opportunity to save money, her elegant mother who never really learned English, her several aunts and uncles whose eccentricities and kindness make the readers smile.  Just when her family thought they finally got over the culture shock of being in America, Dumas falls in love with a French man and subjects her family to yet another novelty that they must experience and learn. At the end though, love wins.

Quite a few of her experiences as an immigrant reflect mine. Like her, I have been asked if I went to school on an elephant (not camel) and if I were an Indian princess. I have experienced what I now label as microaggression and have learnt to respond with humor and hopefully, without malice or anger. There were two aspects in this book, however, that really spoke to me. The first one is food!! Oh, how I want the Iranian food that she writes about! And the second was family. Dumas writes about her close knit extended family who emigrated from Iran and chose to live near each other in USA. They congregated, feasted, celebrated, loved and supported. That is every immigrant’s dream. I must say this made me envious. I remember little Sahana desperately wishing that her family from both sides lived in our neighborhood next to each other. “Wouldn’t it be so fun mama if didiya, dadai, mashimoni, mashun, moni, mamai, shi dadai, shi didiya (her Indian family) lived on one side of the road and Grammy, uncles and aunts (her American family) lived on the other side?”  Many immigrant children as well as children whose parents move to different states feel the absence of their grand parents, aunts and uncles in their lives as they grow. No one present on Grandparent’s day at school, no one to cheer from the sidelines in sports events or school events, graduation ceremonies or festivals. This is a big void. Immigrants form close relationships with other immigrants in a new land and they, over time, become family. But I can say from personal experience, that the faces that loom large when there is a major life event to share are those of the ones we left behind back home.

I was thrilled that Firoozeh Dumas grew up surrounded not only by her mom, dad and brothers but also by her loving aunts, uncles and cousins. I was also jealous. But ignore my base instinct, pay heed to my suggestion instead. If you want to read something heartwarming during these difficult times, pick up Funny in Farsi. I guarantee you will have a smile on your face.

Leftover Queen


All of you hail the Leftover Queen a.k.a me. I claim the title, the crown and the throne. I claim all of it.

I wrote about my nonstop cooking on the Diwali weekend. If you have not read it yet, you can read it here.

Since I go overboard when I cook, I ended up with a lot of leftovers. Generally, Sean eats leftovers for weeks and he is very happy to do so. As we pack away the food in the fridge on the day I cook, I can see his mind planning his meals for the week ahead. He threatens us not to finish the dal or the paneer because he plans to eat them for another meal. The threat is not serious, only semi serious. But this time, I must have poisoned him somehow because his stomach did not feel great for a couple of days after Diwali and he did not want to exacerbate the situation by eating spicy dal makhni and creamy malai kofta. So I, who is not fond of dal makhni or malai kofta too much, had to eat the leftovers. The children, in general, rarely eat left over Indian food. They are high maintenance but thankfully I am done maintaining them. They maintain themselves quite well when it comes to meals.

After 3 days of eating leftovers to empty the fridge, I had a plan. A beautiful, bold, exquisite, earth shattering, tradition breaking plan. I thought outside the box.

This is what I did. I took out the container of malai kofta from the fridge. I follow Sanjeev Kapoor’s fool proof recipe of malai kofta. It is easy and delicious. You can look at the recipe here.

I poured the malai koftas with the gravy in my food processor and made a puree of the whole thing. Then I added 2 and a 1/2 cups of whole wheat to the puree and hit the dough button of the food processor. The liquid in the puree was not enough for a sticky dough so I added 1/3 cup of plain yogurt to the mix. I took the dough out of the food processor and kneaded by hand for about 5 to 7 minutes. When the dough formed a smooth ball, I covered it with damp cloth and went for my walk.

After the walk, I kneaded for another 3 to 4 minutes and made little balls to roll out.

The next part was easy. I rolled the dough out into rotis and cooked them on the skillet with oil spray.

The malai kofta parathas were ready.

I told myself I just transformed a leftover into a healthy meal. Whole wheat, paneer, potatoes, ok fine, a little cream in the gravy made it a tad unhealthy but it tasted good. Everything tastes good with cream and butter, sigh! As I finished cooking the last paratha, my family casually gathered around, “Whatcha making?”

Ryan was stressed about a math test so he walked around to calm his nerves and ate at least 3 parathas in the process if not more, Sahana and Sean ate a few with left over dal makhni. I ate 3 of them. They were soft and oh-so-flavorful. I decided right then that I will claim the title of Leftover Queen in my blog post. And I just did!

Office space


As we stood side by side preparing our quick lunch in the kitchen on a work-from-home day, I casually mentioned to Sean that I will be needing the office space that night from 6:45 till 8:00 pm as I was co producing a virtual class for the library.

“Oh no!! I have a virtual cocktail meet with big donors where I am presenting and answering questions!” he exclaimed. And looked at me with I-am-so-sorry eyes.

We really don’t have an office space in our house. There is a little office room which we transferred into nursery when we moved in as I was pregnant with Ryan. After spending all his infancy, babyhood, boyhood years in that little room Ryan finally took over Sahana’s room after she went to college. Sahana beautifully rearranged Ryan’s former (tiny) room and settled in it when she came back home due to the pandemic. It has a cozy dorm room feeling to it, complete with color changing lights.

Over the years, all our ‘office’ work and school work were done on the kitchen table. We did not feel the need for an office since I work for the library system and Sean travels all around the world for his job. The little time we had after our respective jobs was spent on carting children to soccer, basketball, music, swim practices and meets. Once the pandemic hit and we pivoted to online work we realized we were in trouble and we also realized as a family that Sean is a very loud office mate.

During pandemic, I took many trainings while we waited for the library system to resume service, facilitated book club and had to meet with co workers virtually. I often found myself glaring at Sean, who also met with his colleagues virtually and rather loudly. As he gained steam and got excited about whatever they were discussing, the decibel level increased. I often glared at him and huffed off with my computer on mute to the bedroom and shut the door. More than once I was either asked by colleagues if I was on my bed and if planned on falling asleep 😃 ! After both our meetings, Sean asked, “Was I too loud? I am sorry!” The next time our meetings conflicted, he would start off with normal voice and then predictably grew louder and louder as his meeting progressed.

As months went by, Sean started bringing his office into our home. It started innocently enough! A big ring light came for his zoom meetings, then huge banners of his organization were delivered to set up as back drop. The last straw was all the photos that he had on the walls of his office came home with him one day along with the bowls he used at work and silverware. He then took a very handy desk from our main floor which held all my electronics, laptop and devices, and took it downstairs to the basement and set up a nice office space with the ring light for zoom meetings. My stuff were relegated to a small white table.

When I saw the neatly set up office space, I rubbed my hands in glee, immediately planning to usurp it whenever I had classes to teach or facilitate. My classes are generally in the evening so I figured they will not coincide with Sean’s meetings since those are primarily during day time. Win, win! Or so I thought. The first day I decided to stake my claim on his hard work, he had a cocktail meeting. Who has cocktail meeting during virtual work? What is the point of that? Sean does not even drink!

Sahana happened to be in the kitchen when we were having the conversation of our meeting conflict. She decided to be helpful and made a comment. Big mistake! I jumped on her right away.

“Can I use your room then?” I turned to her with bright eyes. She had a lovely set up for her online classes.

Although she was taken aback, she agreed and I found her room nicely cleaned, all ready for me once I got back from work. The class worked out beautifully. I did make Sean feel bad about the conflict, admittedly unfairly and he relinquished the office to me for my next class while he took phone calls from all over the world upstairs, next to the children’s bedrooms where they were trying to attend virtual classes. And he was, as usual, loud.

This morning was beautiful and Sean was talking to his colleagues over phone on our back deck. I saw that he finally met his match. A blue jay flew close by, settled on a branch near him and proceeded to tell Sean, in no uncertain terms, that s/he can beat him hands down in volume any day. Its on! Sean became louder by the minute and the blue jay kept pace. As I heard the competition between bird and human, I smiled. Situation is less than perfect in so many homes. We need to find whatever humor there is, we need to laugh, we need to give, we need to share, sometimes office space even. We need humor to get by.

Show grace, let us all show grace.