Graduation


I did not feel an emptiness in my heart when the black and yellow school bus swallowed my 5 year old Sahana to take her to her first day of kindergarten. I must admit I felt a sense of relief instead of sadness at the separation. I was relieved because little Sahana could not wait to get to kindergarten and start a new life in a new country. We had just moved to United States right before she started kindergarten. She was trying to understand and get acclimated to her new environment and she was looking forward to making friends in school. After kindergarten, there were other transitions – finishing elementary, moving on to middle school and then high school. High school years passed in the blink of an eye and a beautiful morning dawned for her high school graduation. She got admission to the college she wanted to attend.

Right before she went off to college, I had pangs of separation, of course. However, seeing her eagerness to experience college made me happy. She could not wait to leave home. And I was simply in awe of this young woman who was ready to move on and embrace a bigger universe.

We drove her to her college, got her settled in her dorm room and then it was time to say goodbye. We all went down the stairs of her dorm together. She stood on the pavement as we got in our car and started to drive away. I looked back to see her lone self standing on that pavement waving us good bye. I felt this immeasurable emptiness in my heart then as she got smaller and smaller in our rear view mirror till we turned a corner and we couldn’t see her anymore.

Four years have passed since then. In her junior year she waved us goodbye at the airport and boarded a flight for Madrid, Spain to spend her junior year abroad. While I was sad to see her go I was, however, more excited for all the adventures that awaited her out there. And adventures she had, the first being losing her luggage after she landed in Madrid. She arrived but her luggage did not. That unpleasant experience, thankfully, was followed by mostly fantastic experiences, knowledge, travel and friendships.

Covid 19 struck when she was in her 7th month in Madrid. She had to pack within 2 days to board a flight home. Her senior year in college was spent at home, in her room, taking classes via Zoom. She handled everything with mostly good spirits, hoping she would be able to graduate in person. That did not turn out the way she had hoped.

But today is the culmination of all her hard work and her resilience after being robbed of a senior year experience. Today she graduates with a college degree, magna cum laude in both her majors, with big dreams to give back to the world that has given her so much. My heart explodes with pride, love and joy as this young woman emerges in the world with so much potential.

Congratulations Sahana!

An ode to the queen.


This story begins when Sahana was about 12 years old. She had taken up the challenge of making chocolate chip cookies for the first time, that too for a friend’s birthday. Her pesky little 7 year old brother was flitting around the kitchen, attempting to help. The recipe was carefully followed, the cookies looked perfect when I walked into the kitchen. Little brother was already chomping on one as a taster.

“How is it?” the baker asked, hopeful.

“Mmmmm….it is soooo good Sahana! I love it.” the taster commented, smacking his lips.

“Mom, do you want to taste one?” I was offered.

How could I not try a chocolate chip cookie, baked for the first time by my daughter? I picked up one from the cooling rack and bit into it.

It was SALTY!

I looked at the expectant face, expecting positive reinforcement and I hesitantly commented, “Ummm….. the cookies seem a little salty to me. Try one and see for yourself.”

She did. And her face changed. She had done what many of us have done at some point or another in our cooking career. She used salt instead of sugar.

“SAHANA!!! YOU POISONED ME!!!!!!” screamed 7 year old Ryan, all of a sudden, after finishing one and a half SALTY cookies without batting an eyelid and pronouncing them to be ‘so good’ when asked how they were.

“But why did you say the cookies were good when you tasted salt instead of sugar and why did you eat one and a half cookies? You must have realized the cookies are salty when you took the first bite?” I asked him while Sahana tried not to shed tears.

After a moment’s pause, Ryan replied, “I was trying not to hurt her feelings.”

I think he tasted chocolate and that is all he cared about.

From making salty cookies in her first attempt at baking, Ms. Sahana has grown to be a self taught gourmet chef. I use the word ‘gourmet’ in jest, of course, but the girl has really taken a flair to cooking and we, her family, have benefited from it.

Cooking relaxes her so she does not think twice about making cheese filled tortellini at home from scratch, or finicky chocolate croissants which take hours of folding and rising before going in the oven, or she whips up a spaghetti carbonara: the spaghetti, of course, made from scratch. Store bought spaghetti?? We now frown upon those. (Not really, but she does!) As an Indian mother, I felt she had arrived when she carefully filled a perfect samosa, fried it and made it stand. You need to understand the importance of a samosa standing. That, my friends, is ultimate success. If the dough is not kneaded to the right texture, they fall. They do not stay up. Also, I have never made samosas from scratch. I have only watched and wondered when others did it. Now my daughter does it.

Since Covid brought her back home from Spain, cutting her junior year abroad short, Sahana has calmed her anxiety by kneading dough, grating cheese, stirring sauce or rolling sushi.

Below are some photos of food made by her during the time of Corona. While Corona virus brought a lot of unhappiness and anxiety in our lives, our daughter transformed our mood by providing us with gastronomical delights.

Chocolate croissants
Spicy salmon rolls, sashimi AND homemade dumplings
Focaccia bread with olives
Baked gnocchi (Homemade gnocchi, of course)
Homemade samosas

And finally, from salty chocolate chip cookies she has transitioned to delectable chocolate chip, walnut cookie cake that she makes every year for my birthday. All these years, after the first time, she has used sugar instead of salt 🙂 !

The reigning kitchen queen is stepping down, folks. A new queen is picking up the crown and spatula….err, I meant scepter. Bow to her, heap praise upon her. Who knows? You may receive an invitation to her kitchen. Live in hope.