Saturday, February 23, 2008

Adventures in India - Packing for Trip

Before I left for my trip, I was asking everyone what should I take with me. I checked online and I couldn't find a decent list. I got extreme answers - "Take everything" to "Don't worry, they have everything there!" It turns out both answers are correct. You can get what you need in India, but isn't it better if you already have it with you?

When I went to India when I was young, we were so happy my mom brought Tang. The food items are really there to make the kids feel more at home. We were surprised to see the variety in India now. There's definitely no shortage of pizza places. My inlaws brought chicken nuggets for my daughter and her eyes lit up! (This was the first time they cooked meat in their Brahmin kitchen!). My sister-in-law brought chocolate and berry muffins and soft buns from a local bakery for breakfast! However, I know this is mostly in large cities like Mumbai

Here are some tips:

  • Flushable wipes - I took a big bag of these with smaller Zip loc bags. Always kept these in my purse or knapsacks. If they dry out, dampen with water. I can't tell you how handy these were in public restrooms, restaurants, and car rides.
  • Wrapped hand wipes - I found individually wrapped packs at CVS in the drug section at the last minute, even though I was looking all over.Again, good to keep in purses.
  • Sanitizing gels - I bought travel size ones, but never had it handy when I needed it. The wipes were better.
  • Kleenex & Q-Tips - I felt I didn't bring enough of these. Again, available in India, but you need them when you need them.


  • Chewable Pepto Bismol for Children (I ended up popping a few of these to ease my stomatch too!)
  • Chewable Dramamine tablets for Children for the plane ride
  • Children's Benedryl, Advil and cough syrup
  • Immodium AD (adults only)
  • Hydrocortisone cream (for bug bites)
  • Insect repellent - though I found a great gel in India, better than my spray
  • Neosporine & Band-Aids for cuts
  • Airborne - some people swear by it, I'm not sure
  • Sunscreen
  • Chapstick, moisturizers, hair conditioners and frizz control gels for the humid climate.


  • pasta and parmesan cheese
  • Jello pudding mix - easy snack to make
  • snack packs of pretzels and cookies (the 100 calorie packs are a great size!)
  • pancake mix - the kids had this for dinner one night
  • granola/cereal bars
  • cereals - I didn't take any, but wished I had
  • sandwich crackers with cream cheese
  • Halloween candy - we had so much left over, we brought it along with us to share. What kid doesn't love a gummy eyeball?

Kids Stuff

Obviously you bring your child's favorite toys. I went to a used book store and picked up 10 soft covered books for 50 cents. These were "new" to my daughter, easy to carry and I could leave them behind for someone else to enjoy.

The carryon for her was a roller knapsack. These are good for travelling with kids because an adult can strap it on their back as well. While the airlines have individual TV screens and everyone watches movies and shows, it's good to have other things to do. Her entertainment included crayons, books, Barbies and a handheld video game. I bought extra batteries as well.

We had ordered child's meal plan for her, which was nice. However, since she's a picky eater, I kept additional snacks in the backpack.

One thing I wanted to get for her and didn't was a personal digital camera. They have smaller ones now,which I know she would have enjoyed using.

If you have other suggestions for the list, please let me know.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Valentine Letter

I wrote this letter 5 years ago when Annika was two. I received an email this morning about Valentine's Day and I was inspired to look for this. Reading this after 5 years, I was moved. (Hope you will be too!)


A Valentine Letter

Dear Annika,

You’ve changed the meaning of Valentine’s Day for us. I always hated Valentine’s Day. In college, I wore black to protest the ridiculous “holiday.” When I was single, the pretensions annoyed me. When I got married, I was still annoyed. We love each other and we express it throughout the year. Thanks, but no thanks, Hallmark. We’ll celebrate at our own time and when we know we can get dinner reservations. However, when the doctor said labor needed to be induced and the nurse asked me if I wanted to come Tuesday or Wednesday, I thought about it and said “Wednesday, Valentine’s Day.”

Now, every heart I see reminds me of you. I want to shower you with red roses and red poofy skirts like you love. I see you pounce into the room, and I see a fiercely independent little girl with wild curls. However, when you cry in your sleep or in those famous tantrums of a two-year-old, I see my little bird that I brought home. You were so tiny and delicate, and your mouth was constantly in an open wail, ready to be fed.

Who are you, little one? I wanted to ask you when the nurse brought you in the next morning. Are you really mine? I started crying because I couldn’t believe you were here. I embraced you and could not keep from staring. My little bird stared back at me with equal intensity. Normally, your black eyes darted around the room. When I held you, our gazes locked, each of us trying to memorize the new face. “So you were the one!” our eyes said.

Every story I read in my parenting magazines said the mother “knew” right away how perfect it was. I felt empty. I wasn’t sure if this was right. You had your father’s nose, but rosy cheeks and puffy eyes. I don’t have rosy cheeks or puffy eyes. You did not look like the baby I thought I would have. Your grandfather said he was nonchalant until he saw you and he fell in love. I felt confused.

When we went home on Friday, we played “The Carpenters Greatest Hits” for lullabies, and it was like magic. You fell asleep immediately. I felt Karen Carpenter was singing to us: “Look at the two of us, strangers in many ways. We have a lifetime to much to say, and as we go from day to day, I feel you close to me, but time alone will tell.”

It was in the wee hours of the morning that I felt our true bonding experience occur. I was nursing in bed and caressing your sleek, dark hair. The house was quiet. I felt like the whole world was asleep, but the two of us. Since you looked like your father, I felt a wave recognition and love. You did belong to us. And, that was it.

That song seems foreign to me now. We are no longer strangers, but a family connected. You’ve wrapped yourself around your father’s heart and of course, he and I are both different people now. We know a new meaning of love on Valentine’s Day.

My heart, you are always in my thoughts,

P.S. Please hold onto this letter. I know in ten years, I will be an embarrassment to you because you will already know everything. Humor me and hang onto to it for twenty when it may mean more.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Personal Notes on Global Climate Change

I've been told that Mahabaleshwar in Maharashtra, India has received snow, a normally pleasant vacation spot. There's been unbelievable amount of snow in China. The southern US states were rampaged by deadly tornados. The Northeast is experiencing a mild winter with 60 degree days in February. I blogged about this last year around this time.

My heart and hopes go to all those who are suffering due to this climate change. The daily lives of people are compromised by this change.

I'd like to have a selfish rant if I may.

The extended pleasant weather in the northeast has robbed me of my snow days. I do love them for what they bring - family under one roof. It slows us down. No one has to go anywhere or do anything or see anyone. Malls and restaurants are closed. There are travel advisories to stay off the roads unless it's an emergency.

I always take advantage of the time to organize my closets or do some projects that have been put off for various reasons. I remember one snow day when my mom, sister and I made pani puris at home. We had the time to roll and fry all those little puris. We had a great time together. With my family now, I would always save one of Annika's birthday gifts to pull out on snow days to entertain her. It'll be a toy that we can set up or play together.

Instead, we have great weather and a hundred excuses to run around. My husband and his friends are avid golfers. Back in Oct and Nov, they pleaded "This is the last golf day of the season. We have to go!" All of us were understanding and supportive of their interest, so we said, "Of course! Enjoy!" thinking we'll have them to ourselves during the winter.

Well, there is no such thing as "last golf day of the season" when they can still golf on the morning of the Super Bowl (Feb 3rd). They layered themselves with sweatshirts and windbreakers, grabbed their water bottles and went off to enjoy a beautiful, crisp day.

Living in the northeast, we're used to seasons. Every season has its purpose to us. You enjoy the long days of summer, honeysuckles and fireflies. Winter brings you mugs of hot chocolate and quiet snow flakes. You kick dried leaves and inhale the smell of autumn as you go for walks in the parks. In spring, you relish the sunshine and green grass as if you've never seen such vibrant beauty.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Women on Top

The media is absolutely going nuts with Hillary Clinton and campaign to be the first female president of the US.

Woman, Female, Gender, Oh my...
Woman, Female, Gender, Oh my!

Woman, Female, Gender, Oh my!

I wish they would leave the gender and race out of the political discussions because to me, it is irrelevant to a person's capabilities. I heard a woman on the radio say she wasn't going to support Clinton because she didn't whether other countries would respect her as President. Americans need to look beyond what the media tells them.

Let's backtrack here.

Currently there are 19 women in national leadership position. Of the monarchies, 3 Queens in Denmark, Netherlands and UK. There are 6 female Presidents in Argentina, Chile, Finland, India, Ireland, Liberia and The Phillipines. There are 6 Prime Ministers in Germany, New Ze
aland, Mozambique, The Netherlands Antilles, Ukrain and the Aland Islands. There are 3 Governor-Generals, who serve as heads of state for Antigua and Barbuda, Canada and Saint Lucia.

Of course, this is not to say all is balanced in the world. Here's a list of countries that do not have enough women in leadership. Even though India has a female President, there are less than 10% in the cabinet.

Here are the stats for women in the US Cabinet positions:
George W. Bush: 15%
Bill Clinton: 37%
George Bush: 24%
Ronald Reagan: 10%
Jimmy Carter: 15%
Gerald Ford: 6%
Richard Nixon: 4%

While there may not have been a woman running the West Wing, it is important to note women like Madeline Albright as the first Secretary of State (and Condoleeza Rice is the current one), which is the 4th in the hierarchy for Presidency. Now Nancy Pelosi is the Speaker of the House, which is behind Dick Cheney in succession.

While Ms. Clinton's campaign and fervor is definitely historic, we have to see that women in politics has come a long way globally.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Dear God,

Please protect my family and all my loved ones near and far.

And, I have a special prayer for two girls. One is named Miley Ray Cyrus and the other is Raven Simone.

Please let Miley stay a good Christian family-oriented girl. Let her father guide her through the ups and downs of show business as only the man behind Achy Breaky Heart can.

Please let the blessings of Bill Cosby keep Raven on her path to success. (She really has the talent to become this generation's Lucille Ball).

Please do not let them get pregnant, caught drunk driving, or become anorexic or have a drug related "incident". Keep them out of jail!

Make sure they have undies on every time they wear a designer dress on the red carpet.

Please keep video cameras out of their bedrooms. (Yes, I've seen Miley's sleepover pics and they're nothing.. whew!).

Please do not let them have a reality TV show after they get married, so their marriages have the potential to endure.

Please let them become spokes models for products, not celebrity rehab centers.

I wish for them all the strength and success as the eyes of America's girls are on them and we moms do not want to explain any of the above to them.