A perfect day off..


My driver’s license almost feels like a waste these days. Since Ryan started driving, I have relegated the wheels to my two kids so they can go to their jobs, practices and occasionally social engagements. Unless the husband has meetings in far away places, he also works from home. Most days when I am off from work, I am pretty much home bound due to lack of a vehicle. I can always go for walks which I generally do but I did not go anywhere today.

Today I woke up determined to vacuum the house, weed the flower patch, cook dal and sabji, launder the towels and mop the kitchen floor. As I sipped my coffee this morning, I questioned why I put all that on my to-do list on my one day off. That list, on this beautiful morning, seemed ridiculous so I scrapped it. One should be flexible, right?

Instead, I cooked dal and sabji, warned Ryan to hand me back my tablet once I finished cooking. He was finishing a math packet and watching Seinfeld simultaneously – I worry about accuracy of those math problems. He handed my device back without a fight so I could read Emma Donoghue’s The Pull of the Stars (in e-book format). I finished the book, wrote a review on Goodreads and pondered upon the story of Nurse Powers trying to help pregnant women afflicted with Spanish flu in the maternity ward of a hospital in Dublin, Ireland in 1918. The book is relentless, honest and a stark narrative on the condition of women and the expectations that society placed on them.

Anyway, after finishing that heart rending book I needed something light and entertaining. I am also queuing up books for the book club that I hope to start – Light but not Fluffy. And Julie Murphy’s If the Shoe Fits seems to be a worthy candidate…..so far.

Between those two books I thought a lot about Sage, once I found out today was National Dog Day. I also thought about our back to back losses. Sage died in 2020 and ma, baba died in 2021. As a Hindu, albeit a non practicing one, my thought goes directly to bad karma. What did I do in this life or my past life so bad to deserve such sorrow? Death is natural and a part of life I know, but this absolute truth is still hard to swallow.

I mindfully set those thoughts aside as I tried to lose myself in Julie Murphy’s story of modern day Cinderella, If the Shoe Fits. The heat is not oppressive today. There is a light breeze. The sky is bright blue and the clouds are snowy white and fluffy. The sun is sweet and golden rays are reflecting the rich, shiny green of the trees and bushes in our backyard. The majestic oak tree at the fringe of our property is lopsided now. Part of its limbs fell on the ground after some severe storms in the past but it still stretches its remaining limbs up to the sky. It is undaunted despite its loss. I think there is a lesson to be learnt there.

I see it. I am still new at it.

No matter, this moment is good. I will take this moment and consider it a blessing.

Peeking in


I was away for a few days looking at colleges for my son. When I travel I don’t look at the blog. However, when I opened the app over the weekend, I saw that many people have read several blogs (or one person has been reading them, I don’t know). I also have several new subscribers. Thank you and welcome to my blog, new people! I appreciate you stopping by and pressing the subscribe button.

Whenever I see new subscribers, I get this feeling of responsibility that I should write something for them to read. However, on this humid Monday morning, my mind is blank. I even went for a walk where I get most of my ideas for a blog post. Today, I was simply cutting through the humidity, huffing and puffing as I crested a small hill in our neighborhood. I thought I would write about a few observations and realizations about our travel.

First, I still feel slightly taken aback when I look at Ryan walking beside me on a tour of college campus. When did he get so big?

After a few tumultuous teen years, say from 14 to 16, when I loved him but did not quite like him, he is turning a corner. He is funny, engaging and loving. My kid is coming back to me!

I realized after staying in New York for a couple of days that I do NOT like a city anymore. This came as a complete surprise since I grew up in Kolkata and always considered myself a city girl.

Due to my work and Sean’s constant travel all summer, I felt we were leading parallel lives. Ten days of traveling together with him made me feel reconnected.

Sahana cooked this amazing steak last night. And despite the fact that I have really limited my meat intake, I ate it and loved it.

And I finished Horse by Geraldine Brooks. Friends, if you pick up one book to read this year, I suggest this one. I finished it last night and I am sad and fulfilled at the same time.

Kemon achish? How are you?


How are you? This is such a loaded question, isn’t it? How easily I answered this question before May 10th of 2021. Despite all anxiety, despite occasional sadness, sickness, anger, despair, I was well. I was doing fine. People I love the most, people who were my center, were alive. Covid 19 took that away. I have climbed up a steep hill of hopelessness and grief but when someone asks me “How are you?” I stumble. Do they really want to know? Do I really know?

A dear friend from Kolkata asked me today, “Tui kemon achish?” I gave her the rote response, “Bhalo achi.” (I am well). And that is the truth. I am well. I am just not as well as I used to be. How can I?

Mary Oliver’s poem Heavy has taught me to carry my grief well, reposition it, balance it, bear it. Yet there are times, so many times, the resilient muscle that I am trying to grow goes limp. I have to start strengthening it all over again. A friend who lost her dad to Covid told me about ‘resilient muscle’. We are both trying to make it stronger. But a certain memory, a certain slice of my past life, certain song, certain smell is enough to break down resiliency. I have accepted that though. I know this is my new state of being and I will try to remake this new me and despite all, I will be well. I am well.

But this is such a beautiful question one person can ask another. How are you? Tell me. I really want to know. I want to sit by you and hear how you truly are. I don’t want to give you advice, or sympathy or pity. I just want to be with you and listen, truly listen to how you are. Tell me. I care. I am here for you.

You got to laugh


I wasn’t laughing at 7:30 am this morning. After complaining to literally everyone whole week about how tired I was, I finally made it to the weekend. Friday night (after my sink got fixed) was glorious. I came back from work, made a quick dinner, grunted hello to Ryan (and he grunted a ‘what’s up back), settled down to watch Gilded Age on HBO. I woke up on Saturday morning with a to-do list. But first and foremost on the list was a refreshing long walk. I laced up my sneakers, did some stretches, debated whether I wanted to listen to music or just get lost in my thoughts (always a dangerous proposition) and then went downstairs to go out through the basement. I landed in water. Yes, my whole basement was flooded. My first thought, interestingly enough, was an irrational anger towards my partner, the poor guy. Things always happen when he travels. I just had the plumber fix the blockage in my kitchen sink the day before and now my basement is flooded!! Not just water but entire gunk from the blockage was on my basement floor. The rugs in front of the tv was sopping wet. At that point I did not know where the water came from, there was no leak in any of the pipes. I came upstairs, woke Sahana and Ryan up, took the heavy wet rugs outside to dry in the sun with their help. Sent a thank you to the universe for blessing us today with a scorcher – yup, you read that right. I am so thankful today was 100 degree F so my rugs, thousand towels and two mops that I used to mop water from my basement actually dried.

The same plumber who thought of his friend’s mother when he saw me, came back. He discovered there was a bigger blockage in the main pipe which he snaked out. I ran the kitchen sink and the disposal to make sure there was no water or goop rushing out in the basement. I also heard how much money the guy makes in this profession and all about his personal life. I will encourage Ryan to consider the plumbing profession if he wants to make it big in life in terms of money. He is a very friendly guy but I was outwardly friendly, silently seething because I had a ton of water to mop in the basement. He said he won’t charge me as if he is doing me a favor. I said he shouldn’t charge me because this was a recall. Anyway, I did not have to pay but I did have to listen to various stories of his life.

Sahana had work today but she brought me coffee from Dunkin Donuts before leaving for work. Ryan followed the plumber around with me and nodded his head seriously at all the technical talks of blockage and snaking. He took his role as the man of the house very seriously. Anyway, after the plumber left, my real work began. By the time the water and awful gunk from basement was cleaned up, I was done for. I wrote to my husband a long message about how everything was awful, how hard I had to work and so on and so forth. He responded with a sad emoji to my long, woeful story and promptly followed that with his Wordle completion score. He is definitely sleeping on the couch when he returns.

I kept checking my basement all day. Either I went down or sent Ryan down to check. It has remained dry. Nervously, I did a load of laundry but stood downstairs just in case the water started spouting from the pipes. The water remained where it is supposed to remain – inside the pipes. We ordered Afghani food after Sahana came back from work and the three of us laughed as we ate. Ryan is big into investment, now that he is earning money and his voice rose in excitement as he educated his mother on his research about index funds and S&P 500 charts. His mother is clueless about investments and should really take a class. At one point, when his voice started bellowing as he got very invested (see what I did there?) in his topic of investment, the stereotypical librarian in me shushed him (most public librarians don’t shush anymore, it is truly a stereotype 🙂 ). After dinner, Sahana and I went for a walk which was lovely.

It was a good end to a bad day. There was laughter and that is, sometimes, just enough.

Bad day


I have written before that my love language is feeding. Now that my family does not care for the food I cook, I cook for my coworkers. On Wednesday night after work, I chopped onions, pureed tomatoes, made ginger garlic paste and soaked vatana (dried green peas) to make ghugni, a popular street food of Bengal, for my coworkers.

On Thursday morning I woke up energized. I was ready to cook all morning before work. I had also picked up a beautiful eggplant from the farmer’s market. I planned to make baingan bharta as well. I had my morning coffee, rinsed the dried peas and transferred them to an instant pot to boil. I set the timer at 10 minutes. While the peas boiled, I peeled the roasted eggplant and then picked up the vacuum to clean. When I opened the instant pot lid, I discovered the peas were overboiled and completely useless for the dish I had planned to make. Fortunately, I had cans of garbanzo beans in the pantry and I substituted.

As I was doing the dishes and drying them, I knocked down a glass jar which broke in pieces scattering glass everywhere on my kitchen floor. That involved picking up glass, sweeping the floor and then mopping it too so that no stray glass could sneakily cut our feet.

Work day went as usual without any angry customers. My friends enjoyed the food. My coworker and I brainstormed for class ideas. The conversation went like this “And we could do….”. “YES!! And then we could do….!” It was quite funny.

I came home after 9 pm thinking, “alright the morning was bad but the rest of the day turned out fine.” And then Sahana exclaimed, “What is this?” She was pointing to the kitchen sink. It was filled with dirty water. The water would not drain. There was clearly some blockage. I spent the next half hour emptying dirty water from the sink and pouring it in a bucket to throw outside. Then I called the plumber. Sahana canceled her plans to stay home for the plumber so I could go to work on time. Ryan was not helpful at all. He went to bed because of his practice at an ungodly hour in the morning.

It is Friday morning, I am waiting for the plumber. And of course, Sean is traveling. Things happen when he travels. On top of all that, I did not hear from Sean the whole day!

But here is a picture of the ghugni and baingan bharta. I will have you know, I cracked a real coconut for the first time in my life after watching You Tube video on “how to crack a coconut” and used fresh coconut meat for this dish. I felt very “from the scratch”.

Stat line is flat


Well, hello world! I peeked in to my oft neglected blog after a long time and saw to no one’s surprise that the statistics line of my blog site is flat. For all these days, no one has peeked in to see if mama is thinking. Mama has been thinking but she has been too lazy to put those thoughts down on her blog site.

It is summer in the library baby!! After spending just 2 hours in the children’s section, helping young readers find books (but lets face it, none of the books I suggest are on the shelves), toys, handing them and their parents reading lists, giving them hints as to where the scavenger hunt clues are, giving out tickets for children’s classes, listening to little ones scream because it is their naptime and their care giver refuses to take them home, I fall flat on my face and do not feel like writing. After a day at the library, I come home and surf Instagram to watch food vlogs and animal videos.

I have had some fun times with both my kids. Sahana took me out to celebrate my 10 year work anniversary. I still have to wrap my head around the fact that I have an adult child. I had made it clear to her when she was an angry teen and I had to lay down ground rules that I am not here to be her friend, I am and always will be her parent. But I feel the line is getting a bit blurry from time to time. She asked me what I would have changed, if I could, in these 10 years of working at the library. I did not have an answer right then. But after giving it some hard thought, I realized, there were times I put my responsibility towards work over my children’s activities. It is too late now but I wish I had done things differently.

Ryan at age 17 is a much nicer young man than he was a couple of years ago. He is really fun to talk to and as he grows up, I find his wicked sense of humor very similar to my father’s. He resembles his grandfather as well and sometimes, when he talks I lose my focus as I see baba peeking through his eyes, his smile. He will assume some leadership roles in his senior year at his high school and I think he will lead with maturity, empathy and grace. Very surprisingly, he does not fight me like he used to when I ask to do chores for me. If I ask him to do something, he says ‘sure’ and does it (except for making his bed or keeping his room clean, and that drives me crazy). I am a very involved parent and like to know everything that is going on in my children’s lives but I am learning to stay silent but present so they come to me with questions/thoughts/ideas. I fail often, but I try again.

Sean and I have not had much time to relax together. We both have been working hard. I miss him and often feel lonely. I guess such is middle age. I realized that now that my parents are gone and children are growing up to have their own lives, the person whose companionship I crave and when he is not around, miss is my husband’s. We vex each other often and I realize we squabble more as we get older and crankier but we laugh too, despite and still.

This blog is really not substantial. I am just showing some love to this online journal of mine. Not sure why you would be interested in reading about my children, but some of you do read so thank you. I have some ideas to write more substantial (may be not, but it is my blog so I can write whatever feels substantial to moi) in upcoming weeks.

I want the stat line not to stay flat – it is an ego boost to see the line go up, so please click 🙂 !

Tea cups


The reason why I am writing this blog is simply to delay the inevitable. I am all dressed and ready to go to the supermarket to buy groceries for the week. It is my day off and I do all the essential chores and errands on this day and before I know it, the day is done. It is almost funny how I procrastinate on chores. I did my morning Wordle (have you fallen into the wordle trap yet?), then I did the New York Times mini crossword, then I watched videos of Ariana DeBose because she is so gorgeous and so talented. Then I felt guilty for being on my phone for half the morning without ticking off any item on my to-do list. So I got my bottom off the couch, showered, dressed and almost put on my sneakers to head out. However, I discovered my Fitbit is out of charge. Why should I move a muscle if I don’t get any credit for it, so I am charging my Fitbit. Sean asked me to write an email to one of Ryan’s teachers. I fired up the computer to write that mail and now I am scribbling/typing on my blog post. Once my Fitbit is charged up I will go buy food, I promise!

I want to write down what I realized this morning while grabbing my coffee mug for my morning cuppa. Every morning I wake up, press the button on my coffee maker even before my eyes are fully open and browse my WhatsApp (when the cobwebs of sleep have not cleared from my brain, I still instinctively think there will be the usual message from ma waiting for me in the morning). The coffee maker makes my coffee, I reach to the cabinet where we keep our mugs, I don’t even look which one I grab as long it contains substantial amount and pour the coffee. Only when I have had a few sips do I glance at the mug and never give it a second thought. Now, I am not a tea drinker. People often assume that since I am from India, I enjoy tea. I don’t. I drank tea – milky, sugary tea as a young person. But I never enjoyed it. It was almost a cultural thing to do, a ritual almost. When I moved to USA, I tried coffee, I liked it and stuck with it. However, I have discovered herbal tea now, thanks to some of my friends. Especially Bigelow orange spice black tea. On very cold days, either at work or at home the idea of holding a hot cup of tea in my hand seems very cozy. So I do that. I heat some water, reach for a mug. But here is the difference. When I am about to pour hot water in a mug to make a cup of tea for myself, I choose the prettiest mug that I have. I actually pay close attention to aesthetics of my mug, I love to see the gradual transformation of the color of water as the tea steeps in it and changes the flavor of the hot water. The transformation of color in a pretty mug gives me a simple joy. The taste of the tea almost becomes secondary. It becomes, again, the ritual of making tea – an act of self care.

Do any of you do this? Take more care to choose your tea cup than your coffee mug?

Obstinate Ma plant keeps on giving…


I planted this geranium on May 11th, 2021. It was the day after ma died. Sahana had given me this plant on Mother’s Day, which was the same day as my mother exited this world. So instead of pacing the house, trying to collect my grief, bewilderment, confusion, helplessness, I put all my feelings in digging a hole in the ground and planting a life. Perhaps to compensate for the life that just left me. Since that day I have spent many hours by this plant’s side. I called this my Ma plant or refer to her as Didiya plant to my children jokingly, but if I am completely honest, a part of me believes this plant carries my mother’s energy.

Sahana was somewhat concerned about my attachment to Ma plant and warned me that it too will die. I know that. However, I will always remember this particular plant as my refuge during one of the saddest periods in my life.

It is mid October now. Slowly I am saying goodbye to my summer blooms. One by one they are falling asleep as cold weather sweeps in our area. Not Ma plant though. It had stopped giving flowers for a while during the peak of summer so I asked it why it was being obstinate. Since then we refer to it as Obstinate Ma Plant. Obstinate Ma Plant did not grow in height much but it made up for its stunted growth in beautiful blooms. Even now it is budding new flowers and opening new blooms in its full glory. It seems like it wants to live its life to the fullest before it goes. It seems like it wants to radiate all of its beauty before death claims it. I like to think it mirrors my mother’s life. She was a vibrant woman who lived her life in her own terms. She nurtured me my whole life but when the day to day taking care of me was done, she turned to see how she can nurture others. So she opened an NGO to serve the underprivileged in her area.

Although some health issues had curbed her will to live in the last few years of her life, she lit up when she talked about the NGO. (And talking about her grandchildren lit up the inner light as well). She was waiting for the pandemic to pass so she could start the work again. It was not meant to be.

Anyway, what I want to say is ma’s alter ego, the Obstinate Ma Plant keeps giving just like ma did till she could give no more.

Lastly, I have been trying to write blogs that is not full of my grief but I can not at this time of festivities.

The “goods” in the week of September 27th.


Ross Gay, the author of The Book of Delights: Essays has inspired me to find delights in little things around me and since I am trying to emulate him in looking deeper and feeling deeper, I discovered I find delight in hearing the tak- tak suction sound that my vacuum cleaner makes when it sucks in the little particles of debris into the vacuum cleaner. That sound is truly very satisfying. A audible result of me trying to clean the house. I discovered this delight yesterday as I vacuumed my oft neglected basement. The vacuum cleaning was good of the week, sure, but that discovery of delight was the real good.

Most days last week were sunshiny with blue sky. Durga puja is around the corner and the sky of America resembles my sky of Kolkata around this time. I find no joy in Durga puja but I love the sky. On my walks, either in the fields behind my house or on my breaks at work when I take walks around the grounds of the library, I soak in the sun and the sky. This weather will not last and I will revisit this sunlight in my mind during the dark days of winter.

The plants in my flower garden are still giving me some flowers. Obstinate ma plant is threatening to bloom. I touch her leaves sometimes and smile.

Sahana absolutely loves her new job and everyone at her new work place have been extremely kind to her. It makes my soul happy to hear her talk enthusiastically about helping people get their print job, or find the book that they are looking for. Working at a public library is extremely rewarding and people are mostly good. It reaffirms my faith in humanity.

Ryan was quite sick over the weekend, but seems to be on the mend today.

We had my friend’s dog for overnight. She was good for our souls.

Sean fixed all the light fixtures in our house that needed fixing. That man is a true giver in every sense of the word. He spent his entire weekend trying to make our lives easier and more comfortable.

I am currently reading Sooley by John Grisham. I can not say I am loving his style of writing. However, I did write a blog for our library blog post and I see they published it today. If you want, you can read my review of the book If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha here.

Not simply the ‘goods’ but the best thing this weekend is my friend’s love to me in the form of an exquisite shawl that she knitted for me. She gave it to me in the garden at work while we were having lunch in front of the paver stones dedicated to my parents. Her love and kindness – “bests” this week.

Hope your list of ‘goods’ is long. Have a great week.

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.