Wednesday, February 03, 2016

My Little Philanthropist

Our Europe trip meant a bunch of different things to all of us. We witnessed things that we had only read in books, experienced those that were told to us by others, and felt some strong emotions about things that weren't on our agenda anywhere. I will document more about our Fun Europe Holiday in a separate post but this one is specially about my most special person, my Neel and I want to capture this as a reminder to him when he grows up, that he has big heart, a Huge heart even as kid. I hope this post will always remind him to keep a big heart for those who are not so privileged as we are.

Last April Vacation week we took the bold step to take our first family vacation outside of the US. We went to Europe - Woo-hoo... It required a lot of planning, some curb balls along the way but overall it was absolutely amazing. After Rome and Greece our final destination as the beautiful country Turkey! 
Topokapi Palace
Taksim Square - The nostalgia of tram
The Little Tourists

We had known very little about this country and what a treat for the eyes this place had. Even though quit chilly, temperature wise, this place as full of Tulips (My absolute favorite amongst all flowers after lilies). Wherever we went we could see carpets of Tulips. I had never imagined Turkey and Tulips go hand in hand, I used to imagine Holland and Switzerland when I thought of tulips!

The place had its charm, it was extremely colorful - from beautiful blue skies, to gorgeously colorful ceramic tiles, to hand painted pottery, Glass lamps, golden Turkish tea, the high Minars that seemed to be touching the clouds and the sound of evening prayers....everything was so romantic, so beautiful, so gorgeous!

Colorful Glass Luminaries
Mesmerizing Darwish
The truly grand "Grand Bazaar"

Street Cats - Neel's only favorite thing in Turkey
But my little boy wasn't quite feeling the same way as all of us were. He as often sad and somewhat lost. I thought it must be all the travel and jet lag that was getting to him. The only thing that would bring a spark in his eyes were the myriad of street cats in Istanbul.
But every time we stepped out, Neel would search into his pockets for any remaining Turkish Lira form his allowance and would make sure he had several coins. This was definitely not for him to buy something for himself but for another very special reason.

Coloful steets of Istanbul
The gorgeous Hagia Sofia
While on one hand we were seeing all these beautiful Palaces and Elaborate Mosques and Grand Bazars, the city of Istanbul had somewhat sad side to it. It had a significantly large number of homeless kids on the streets, in public transport, on the train stations etc, begging for food or money. And it was definitely breaking our heart. But for Neel - it was the reality he had NEVER been exposed to; it was something that he was not able to comprehend at all. He had always imagined that kids had grown ups that took care of them, that everyone had some place to sleep in even if it may be small, that perhaps everyone ate something for dinner even if it may not be their favorite food! But how could a little kid be wandering around all by himself sticking his hand out for money or food? Where was his Mom or Dad? And why did he not have any warm clothes on the cold winder night and who is taking care of him? Neel had a million questions in mind and a handful that he would try ask me by pulling me on the side. And every time he saw such kids, his eyes would tear up. He would reach in his pockets and gave that kid whatever he had in his pockets. He had often insisted on getting a sweet or a dessert only to give it away to a kid sitting outside the shop!

On the day of my Birthday, he told me something that made me cry and made me proud at the same time. We were going out for dinner and as we walked down the street he saw a kid trying to squeeze his head between his knees to keep him warm. I gave Neel some money to give it to the kid. As we walked a little further down we saw another kid, I gave him some money once again. Neel stood there and didn't move, I pulled him on the side and asked him what was it and he started to cry. And in his broken voice he asked - "Do you think this money can keep him warm and buy him food, this is nothing Ma." I told him Neel we can go and give them some more and he said "but how can you walk away like they don't exist. They are kids just like me, why cant you treat them like your own kids" . I did not have a single answer to any of his questions and I was feeling ashamed! ashamed that my little boy can feel and think of the pain of this harsh reality while I was able to look past it accepting it as "harsh reality". In a second, Neel had changed everything for me. The thought of celebration of my birthday, of a great vacation, all of those feelings were taken over by the raw feeling of pain and I felt so little in front of my little boy. Neel refused to eat anything for Dinner, his exact words "I've lost my appetite". He asked the server to pack his food into two separate boxes. That was strange. I asked him why and said that it was enough food to give to the two kids we had seen on the street while walking to the restaurant. My heart as pumping harder with every word that was coming out of his mouth.

Hunger Hurts!
Unfortunately the two kids we had seen of the street were gone by the time we walked back. Neel was very disappointed; we went to many side streets looking for them but we couldn't find them. But Daddy promised Neel that once he gets us back to the Hotel he will walk around looking for those kids, that he will give the food to them tonight. In the Hotel Room Neel told me "Ma I have a present for you but I am sorry I wont be able to give it to you" I told him it was OK not bothering to ask "why" but he continued "I would rather save that money and give to poor kids!" heart was sinking, the head was hurting, I was suddenly aware of how cold by body was feeling at that moment - I was frozen. I was frozen by the words that came out of Neel's mouth, the pain that he was feeling, how big his heart was, and that at 6 years of age he has realized the pain of others - bigger than any of his! I was Proud of the BIG heart my Little Boy had.
Always be the giver my little boy!
On our flight back Neel and I sat side by side holding each others hands, talking about things I didn't think he'd understand but he actually did. He realized its not just Turkey but there are unfortunate kids around the world. We talked about Africa, and countries in war zone and homelessness in India and even America. I was not afraid of telling him the truth anymore, I knew that he had some sort of extraordinary capability to understand pain and suffering of others. As we watched the in flight movie on Steve Jobs we got on the topic of Bill Gates and Malinda Gates Foundation and how impressed Neel is with Bill Gates - that is beyond words. He said "I want to be like Bill Gates" "I want to make a LOT of money and give it to the poor people. I know I can do it"

He even said "I'll ask Mama to give the money I've been saving to Bill Gates when mama goes to Seattle next time" (his mama/ uncle works for Microsoft :) ) Such is my Big Hearted Little Boy.
I know someday he will do something good for the world, and I am very fortunate to be his mother.

Street cats of Istanbul sure must miss Neel


Monday, March 16, 2015

Emotional – Who? Kids or Adults?

Last week, on one of our regular crazy mornings, when dropping off kids to schools I was somewhat upset with Gauri for making us late because of her last minute notice that it was Dr. Seuss Birthday and she needed a hat to wear to school. I told her “too late” we can’t whip-up something at this last minute because Neel’s schools starts early and he would get late. But she insisted and tried to bring out craft material and try to do something but it was getting out of control! paper, scissors, hot glue, fabric paint...of Gosh...mess all over!! So - I gave-in and created a red and white striped cat-in-the-hat hat for her with cardsheet. Of course this got us very late for Neel’s drop off and the traffic was even crazier that morning which made me even more anxious. I told Gauri that we can’t do this anymore. If she can’t remember what she needs for the next morning and prepares it the night before - then we can’t work on it in the morning. Then the kids started fighting in the car and that aggravated my anxiety further. After somehow dropping off Neel (late of course) when driving to Gauri’s school she insisted on doing something that would have made it very hard for her to walk all the way to her class on those black ice packed side walk. And even after me insisting on letting me help her - she wouldn’t listen. I got frustrated and told her that I am so disappointed in her and that she makes “everything” (my over-exaggeration) very hard !! This I believe made her very sad and just like that she says to me – ”stop it ma, you are hurting my feelings . You are making me SAD. I don’t like to start my school day when you are not happy with me. My whole day is ruined when you or baba are mad at me” and she got teary. And right away I realized what I was doing and the power of our words and how much weight they carry for our children. I immediately apologized to her and told her that I loved her and “it’s not a big deal” and that mommy should have more patience. We kissed and smiled at each other and before I knew she disappeared in front of my eyes in that crowd of other kids....
I was left wondering for hours - who I more emotional - our kids or us? Who is more vocal about their feelings - them or us? Who is more apt at using their words to express their feelings - little ones or us?

I am proud of you Gauri ...that you are so well equipped to express yourself in a much nicer way than mommy...that you know exactly how you feel and what hurts, and you are not afraid to express it. I can see that you are going to be one strong girl with a "clear" head! Hugs from your mum who is learning from you! XO

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Will do anything for Scented Highlighters

Well its been way too long since I stopped writing but its not that I had forgotten about my blog. On contrary there has been no week that I have not thought about staring it again or capturing the cute, often funny details about my two growing-up-too-quickly munchkins but as the kids are growing up – so is the amount of my involvement in their daily activities. I have no idea what so ever if I will ever get time to write something again. But then there are times just like today when I feel almost an irresistible need to capture the precious moments of their childhood in words so they become wonderful lasting memories for my kids to learn about themselves if I am not there to tell them each and every detail of their sweet childhood. I think that is one gift I should give to my kids – the gift of memories, memories which will make them laugh, sometimes cry and most of them remind them how much they were loved and how crazy in love their mother was with them. I hope that someday when they are growing up and we are not talking the “same language” anymore and they think I don’t understand (which I believe every teenager thinks about their parents) or when I think to myself “who are these people and how can they talk to me like this…” in times like that, these memories will bring a smile to both my kids and me and keep the love flowing.
So here is the reason for this blog J
Ok now I have to start with Neel – very little has been captured so far about this little boy who just simply is the cutest thing you’d come across. Everyone and anyone who comes close to this fellow, fells for his charm. HE IS A CHARMER ….

Neel although would play almost with anyone (age no bar), talk to literally every person on the street but the boy does not make friends very easily! He has always had just one friend and that too he has lost many friends because of transitioning from one school/ day care to another. So basically he doesn’t really have many close friends boy or girl. But the other night when he and I were cuddles in bed reading Magic tree house he suddenly interrupts me (which he never never does when it’s a Magic Tree House book in my hand) and tries to whisper something in my ear that I thought I did not hear correctly. Our conversation goes like this:
Me: What, what are you saying Neel?
Neel: Maaa…I can’t say it so loud. I don’t want anyone to hear except you.
Me: Ok Tell me what were you saying
Neel: You know ma I don’t like to “K-I-S-S” anyone outside our family?
Me: Yes Neel. So?
Neel: I think I’ll just do a very quick “K-I-S-S” just one time.
Me(now VERY curious to know what is going on): why? What made you change your mind, who would you kiss? Why?...
Neel: Ma I know you have to kiss the bride when the priest asks to…. To get married. So I’ll do a quick kiss and get married.
Me: Oh so you mean some day you’ll marry someone , that you change your mind on not marrying ever? Is that what you mean?
Neel: No ma I want to get married now to “Olivia” I have decided that.
Me: Really? Why – do you like her? Is she your good friend?
Neel: No ma, I don’t like her, I just like her scented highlighter. And if I marry her she will have to share her markers with me…heheheh (and he giggles at his brilliant idea)
And me, I was left speechless and wanted to burst into laughter at his ideas about marriage ….hahahaha…
This is why I love motherhood, where else can you hear the funniest conversations that can make your from exhausted to super charged J

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Yes I am back!!

So, I have not abandoned this blog of mine, but yea, I have to admit – its been way TOO long since I posted anything in here. I miss not having the time to capture my “little darlings’” cute little things in here to share with you all my friends and family but it just has been crazy 6 months. Too much going on.

My brother, his wife, my sis, dad, and us
We had an amazing fall with my dad visiting us; kids had much fun with papa who totally and completely spoiled them with everything. Gauri still seems to be her nanu’s ABSOLUTE favorite and even one "crocodile-tear" from her and nanu’s (Grandpa/ Papa) goes melting like “soft-serve-left-in-sun” – well what I really mean is Papa just cant bear to see her cry even if her demand is not right. But Neel has had it share of fun with Nanu, with him being so super cute and super naughty, nanu has not been able to resist his charms. Papa would swing him on his legs for hours even though his back would hurt; when Neel would ask to be picked up not wanting to walk, guess who does he turn to? Nanu of course and although Nanu’s back hurts like hell, he would still pick him up every time. So I can easily put the blame of spoiling my kids on – dear Nanu.

Neel being Neel, His eyes tell it all
Gauri's true spirit is captured in this - My Fav.

From my absolute favorite photographer - my brother

We all took our first ever family vacation this winter to Vegas and Grand Canyon. It was absolutely fun and relaxing. Kids had a complete blast too. The Grand Canyons were breath-taking and although it snowed there all the time that we were at the Canyons, but still Amazing.

I had one of my longtime wish list items taken care of – to watch Phantom of the Opera , and boy it was absolutely mind-blowing, stunning, amazing. I am so glad we did it, it was so nice of Papa and my brother and his wife to take care of the kids while we went out just the two of us to watch this Broadway show.
Kids had so much fun in the huge Jacuzzi we had in our suite at MGM – its funny what simple things give them such immense pleasure.

Gauri and Neel had fun Birthdays. Gauri had a party with her special friends at the Bowling alley this time. All the kids had a blast especially with the Kiddie bowling lanes, Neon lights and laser show. On the actual day of her Birthday, daddy took a day-off from work specially for her and we spent the whole day with both kids. We spent the day at the Mystic Aquarium and while Neel loved the Begula Whale Gauri just wanted to take the Penguins home (and I just wanted to be locked with the Jelly fishes ). Oh and Gauri also got two of her top list items from Mama (uncle), Mami, Mimi and Nanu – her first Bicycle and a Scooter – She was toooo happy.

For Neel’s birthday we had a nice relaxing time as a family, giving our 100% attention and time to our little monkey because we figured he doesn’t really like big crowds of people yet. Lots of presents and one yummy cake that Neel put his entire face in because he just couldn’t wait to eat the frosting off of it.

Overall we had a fun and very busy Fall and Winter. The New Year stared with lots of new goals (not resolutions) one of which was for me to go back to work. And I have to say that I was fortunate enough to land on a really wonderful opportunity in about 10 days of looking for work. More about job and changes we have had since in next post.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Memoirs of a beautiful summer

Oh what a beautiful, eventful summer we had this year - filled with Tons of activities, amazing time together, new things discovered, old traditions re-lived, cooking, playing, meeting friends/ family and just about everything to call it a memorable summer.
Both Kids, attended a summer reading program at out local library in Groton. While Gauri loves books and making new friends during the story time, Neel just likes to do puzzles or just knock some books down the shelves.
Gauri and Neel listening to a story with arms around each other
Not too bad at puzzles
Gauri love of reading finds her reading even at a Gap store :)
We were so lucky to meet a Kid's celebrity - Steve from Steve Songs on PBS. Gauri Absolutely loves his silly songs in the morning and you can catch her humming those throughout the day. She was sumer excited to meet Steve in person and to dance to his singing.

This year was the performance year at Gauri’s Ballet school, at at only 3.5 half years Gauri had her first stage performance. Oh Boy did she ever look cuter? It was an amazing experience for both Gauri and me, while on one hand it was very hectic for both of us attending the innumerable practice sessions (specially along with Neel in the waiting area or Audience) and Gauri did get a stage fright or what she called “afraid of the backstage Dark”,she screamed and cried and refused to go on stage during the Dress rehearsal, but Thanks to God she did finally went on the stage on the final day of performance. I was crying the whole time when was dancing and Neel was yelling “geggey” clapping and jumping with excitement.

Both Kids started swimming this summer and had great fun. Gauri decided to continue learning this fall and is doing so well. Finally, our little mermaid is showing the same passion for water as her dad. She is always on step ahead of her instructor and swims like a fish.

This year we also did some fruit picking, from strawberries, to blueberries to Peaches, Apples and now pumpkins. We picked them all and enjoyed eating them too. This was such fun and kids absolutely loved it.

Gauri attended the Sunshine Camp - a summer camp program from Groton and she had a blast there. She made two very wonderful friends there Alyssa and Sydney who continues to be her really close friends now specially after her losing her dear friend Shealyn to her dad’s work transfer. Summer camp was such a hit - the kids were hugging each other and crying on the last day.

We also visited the Seaport museum and Kids museum in mystic several times this year. The three of us love the Horse-carriage ride there and to dress up like sailor and pirates :) 

Neel not only stacks blocks, but just about anything.

Neel is turning out to be so funny, absolute goof ball, sneaky and mischievous and somewhat destructive too. He walks with his both arms spread out so he can grab something and throw it as he walks. Climbing up, all the way to the top of the fridge by stacking things, and making tall “block” towers is his favorite hobby. He also "loves" to help mum in the kitchen - now that's another story how much help I need cleaning up after he has helped me in the kitchen.

Making big messes with colors and latest with flour (at his uncle’s house) yet other favorites of Neel.

Over all we had an amazing summer and with festivals staring, and naanu (My dad) visiting us, we are happily moving on to a colorful fall.