Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My mantra these days..

It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work.

It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.

- Anonymous

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


I've had an unbelievable day today and needed to sort some thoughts (lucky readers!)

In the morning, I was awash with "bad mom syndrome." I was frustrated that I hadn't spent time with my daughter practicing her violin.. she doesn't know her multiplication table.. needs to see an eye doctor and I haven't had time to schedule an appoint. I become "grumpy mommy" in the morning before school. This is just not right. Demands of work are consuming again and I'm losing my balancing act.

As parents, we take the blame. It's our fault they can't do something or they can. I know this is not right - she's her own person and all I can do is show her the door, and she has to walk through it on her own. Speaking of doors.. this morning I dropped her at school for early morning orchestra practice. She's carrying her violin case, her roller knapsack and needed to pull open the large school doors. I wanted to jump out of the car and help her open the two doors. She looked so little! However, she had told me she didn't want me to get out of the car. So, I sat in the car, waited as she struggled with her bags and she did it.

This evening, she pulled out her homework papers and showed us her science test. She got 10/10 on description of electrical circuits. They do this in 3rd grade? She said, "Yeah we did the experiment so I knew." Her handwriting was neat, and she knew what she was talking about. They were also making flashlights in school with paper towel rolls and batteries. Then she sat down to read a book of silly poems that I had once bought for her. I loved how she giggled while reading it. She said she was looking for "figurative language."

I felt relieved this evening. I'm looking in the wrong places. She's doing well in so many ways, but I'm just looking at the part that makes me nervous.

And, I think that's so key about our lives. We are surrounded by wonderfully delightful things all the time, yet we choose not to see them. Since yesterday, the one thing that has made me smile and laugh is a colleague's IM to me where he mistyped some words (i.e., "he knee keeps jerking"). It's silly. However, we all need to laugh a little to break up our day. I always remember years ago my colleagues and I were in an intense meeting. At the end, one of the colleagues told a story about how her two pet chihuahuas had died (one was crushed by an ironing board and the other accidently stepped on by her brother). The three of us laughed so hard we practically cried. The poor chihuahuas (I don't condone animal cruelty!), but the relief was what we needed.

And, happiness doesn't come in one size. It can be something as small as a silly IM or it can be as big as the Super Bowl. We all have some element of joy and happiness in our lives. If life is about making choices, we make a decision on what we choose to see in our world. And, how we react to these things. We can laugh or we can cry.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Driving in India

On my last trip to India in 2007, I wrote this piece about Traffic Guidelines. I need to expand those.

I think the key to driving and walking across the streets is the attitude. To cross the street in Mumbai, one must be bold. There are taxis, motorcycles, buses and cars. There are other pedestrians walking, so one car may stop. However, the guy behind him may want to loop around to pass. I tried to adopt the mantra "Maintain my stride and the driver will accomodate me." When I did that, I was pulled aside and told "You're gonna get hit! What are you doing?"

We have a friend who lived in the US for some time and now returned to India. She said she tried to drive conscientiously, but it was wasted effort. She said people honked at her and told her to shape up and drive. After that, she found her attitude and started driving like the rest of maniacs on the road. Her husband doesn't drive in India.

The problem in cities is that people walk in the street, not on the sidewalks. "Sidewalks are for the hawkers and parking motorcycles." So, in a way, you can get to your destination faster by walking and dodging traffic than on the sidewalks. Quotes by my friends who were driving:
"You're banking on your luck when you drive in Mumbai"
"[In Delhi], drive by instinct"

These are some pics from our roadtrip from Delhi to Agra
We're coming out of parking lot. Pick a lane to drive, buddy!

This is a morning car pool. This type of rickshaw can accomodate 6-8 people inside (including the driver). Note the guy holding the orange bag. Next to him is someone holding a water bottle that you can't see!

This is the business class seats!
So we're driving through a town and everyone jumped on the truck for a ride! We were right behind them and took some neat pics!

And, just when you think you're done with people, you run into goats!

Trucks in India all have decorations and statements painted on them, especially requesting honks when driving around the truck. The classic is the "Horn Ok Please", which lead us to an interesting discussion. I always thought it meant "Horn Please, OK?" We saw "Horn Do" (Do in Hindi is give, so it meant Give a Honk) . This one just said "Blow Horn." There were also statements in Hindi.
By the way, I loved this moment when we driving to a town called Gokul. It was an unpaved road with construction in spots and just generally dirty. Yet, this man was washing his truck so passionately. In one way, it seemed so futile to do it. However, there's such a sense of pride in what he was doing it. (I always wondered about this male phenomenon - they can wash a car for hours.. a sinkful of dishes, well that's just too much to ask!)
There's never a dull moment on the roads in India!