Category Archive Personal

ByJayanthi

Mysuru, Karnataka, India

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ByJayanthi

Realities of life in the USA

After writing about ‘Myths about US’ I thought I should write about realities of life in the USA before all my memories of my once “home” ebb out…after all it has been 8 years since we returned and my stories still continue! 🙂

  • Layoffs are real

         Oh, yes – they are absolutely and totally real… India also might be feeling layoffs but not as pronounced as the ones in the US. I have seen my neighbours in the US being laid off and waiting for their next job… which is why, in the US – one is always advised to have 6 months of living expenses on reserve (mortgage expenses, bills etc) White collar jobs, blue collar jobs, best education – anything can be axed at any point of time!

  •         Indo-Pak grocery stores are real too 

              This is always nice to see in a foreign land…

  • Many people get stuck in the USA for prolonged period of time too(like 5 years or more)

            They would like to come home and visit India – but there is always something coming in their way like visas, parents visiting, in-laws visiting, immigration issues and other reasons. Many cannot return back to India even for a small visit for more than 5 years or more!! 🙁

  • Many couples have their baby alone

          Maybe I was very old-fashioned but I found this very odd – I have seen plenty of couples have their baby with no parents and in-laws to support them. Either the parents/in-laws are too sick to visit them in a distant land or their visit is deemed to be too expensive – either way, many couples welcome the next generation with limited pampering and love and no family at all… (Of course, they take the baby to India when the baby is 4-5 months old)

  • You become independent

          Once we move outside India – we become more independent with our needs and wants. We learn to cook our own meals, clean our own house inclusive of the bathrooms, mow the lawn, shovel the snow, even do our own woodwork and construction! All in all we reduce our dependence on manpower as manpower is expensive or it is not there at all!  

  • We learn the names of our distant cousins and families in a foreign land! 🙂

       The saying “Distance makes the heart grow fonder” is absolutely true in a foreign land. We might hardly know our distant cousins and families in India – but once in a distant land, the very same distant families and cousins will be a good connect! 🙂

  • Politeness is a beautiful feeling 🙂

         “Please”, “Thank you”, “Have a good day”, “You are welcome” , “How are you” and politeness of every possible way is visible all over the US and you are always greeted with a smile, whether we know each other or not.. 

  • ‘Where do I belong?’ is an all too consuming feeling that overpowers you after you stay there for a prolonged period of time…

     After you achieve all of life’s goals in the USA and you have stayed for more than 10 years, it is the next question that comes automatically. When we visit India – we feel India “has” changed in a lot of ways and “hasn’t” changed in a lot of ways too. We feel we cannot fit in with families and the ways there.

When we stay in the US,  we cannot merge fully into American culture either. We become a new generation of “Indian Americans” who preserve a lot of Indianess and adapt to our new country too!

  • And yes, many do return to India after staying close to 19-20 years too! 🙂

These a few of things that I could remember… have I missed anything?

ByJayanthi

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!!

The title of this post either makes you smile or feel puzzled – either way, welcome to the musings of one of the sweetest times of my life… reading children’s books! 🙂 Once I had moved away from worrying about whether variables were static, private, public or private and whether methods were overloaded or overridden – there was a special time when we used to visit our local library to find children’s books and read them with great happiness! 🙂 Now, join me as I go to the kingdom of pure and gentle thoughts! 🙂

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom!!

As you may have guessed by now, ‘Chicka Chicka Boom Boom’ is the name of a children’s book to be read to very young children. It used to be a classic for children as young as 2 and it was quite a rage then. My then, 2 year old son used to adore it and I did too, as I read it with him(now he is 17 and he might find it blasphemous that I still remember it!! :))

Children’s books have to be written in a special way to keep the little readers glued to it. The book should not have too much of content and have pretty and enticing  illustrations. The content should be engaging such that little readers don’t lose their little attention span(this of course, goes for all writings!) and move onto the next activity….

This book does that excellently by teaching the alphabets of the English language in a special and fun way.  It goes like this: “A told B and B told C, I will beat you to the top of the coconut tree…” (anybody, care to finish it? :))There are videos on Youtube illustrating this beautiful book too.

More Children’s books:

The other children’s books that I(or rather my kids!! :)) fondly remember reading are:

  1. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle
  2. “Brown bear, brown bear what do you see?” by Eric Carle
  3. “A House for Hermit crab” by Eric Carle
  4. “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr.Seuss
  5. “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr.Seuss
  6. “Jamberry” by Bruce Degen
  7. “If you give a mouse a cookie” by Laura Numeroff
  8. “Goodnight moon” by Margaret Wise Brown
  9. “Is your Mama a Llama” by Deborah Guarino

The Eric Carle series and the Dr. Seuss series of books for children were always winners. I couldn’t even imagine that such beautiful lines could be created by the move of a pen!! “Chicka Chicka Boom”, “The Very Hungry Caterpillar”, “A House for Hermit Crab” and “If you give a mouse a cookie” are my all time favorite books. Even though it has been a very,very long time that I read them last – their sweetness and innocence is etched in my memory forever!

As my kids have grown and gravitated away from children’s books into teen series like Roald Dahl and more(for the daughter) and technical books like Java and Information security(for the son), I miss the innocence of the young age…I have also moved away from the blissful, innocent days into the serious horizons of Information security and beyond… 

Were/Are your young readers reading these titles too? 

ByJayanthi

Do the Zodiac signs define you?

Astrology, horoscopes all play multiple roles in the Indian scene. Like it or not, we mostly abide by them. But the Zodiac signs are something that are prevalent all over the world. I have observed, listened and read about the various Zodiac signs from my younger days and safe to say most of us must have done it at some time or other too.

The 12 Zodiac signs – Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces are supposed to define each of us in some way. There are water signs, earth signs and fire signs and air signs. They are also supposed to  define compatibility between spouses and other relationships too!

Aries:

Aries is the first of the Zodiac signs and Arians are those who are born between March 21st – April 19th. They are characterized as fearless, energetic, fun and free spirited and wanting to be independent. They are represented by the ‘Ram’.

Taurus:

Taurus is shown by  the “bull” and those born under this Zodiac, have their birthdays between 20th April and 20th May. They are known to be stubborn, stable and persistent.

Gemini:

Geminis or the ‘Twins’ love people of all kinds. They can talk non-stop with almost anybody. They are characterized as sociable, communicative and ready for fun. Their birthdays fall between 21st May – 21st June.

Cancer:

Cancer or the ‘crab’ have their birthdays between June 22nd and July 22nd. They are characterized as being moody, compassionate and devoted. 

Leo:

Leos are represented by the ‘Lion’ and are supposedly  strong willed, assertive, egoistical and love to be in the center of attention. Leos have their birthdays between July 23rd – August 22nd.

Virgo:

Virgo the Virgin are those whose birthdays fall between August 23rd  and September 22nd. The personality of Virgo is supposed to be a mix of intelligence, giving attention to detail and common sense.

Libra:

Librans are those who are born between September 23rd – October 23rd. The symbol for a Libra is the scale and Librans are supposed to be charming, loving, indecisive and lazy. 

Scorpio:

Scorpios have their birthdays between October 24 and November 21st. Their symbol is the Scorpion and they are supposedly strong willed, passionate, charismatic and secretive. 

Sagittarius:

A Sagittarius is supposedly curious, vibrant and exciting and their birthdays fall between November 22nd and December 21st. The Sagittarian symbol is that of the archer.

Capricorn:

Capricorn is the goat and most goats are loyal, rigid and very hard working. Their birthdays fall between December 22nd  and January 19th. 

Aquarius:

Aquarians have their birthdays between January 20th and February 18th and are supposedly humanitarian and philanthropic . Their symbol is the water bearer.

Pisces:

The last of the Zodiac sign is the Pisces or the fish. Pisceans are those whose birthdays fall between February 19th and March 20th. Pisceans are characterized by vivid imagination, being selfless and at times being carried away by a string of emotions.

While the above list is not exhaustive and having put just a small piece of information about each Zodiac, do you think it characterizes you? As I was researching this article, I felt some of the traits for some of the signs were getting repetitive. I have also observed that though two people may have their birthdays close together, and belong to the same Zodiac sign – they hardly exhibit any similarities! Which leads me to the conclusion that you may belong to a particular Zodiac – but your life experiences, family situations, financial situations shape who you are and how you change with life…

As I ponder whether my Zodiac sign is right for me… let me run now –  I think I have to find the next person to talk too… 🙂

 

 

ByJayanthi

What makes me smile! :)

What makes me smile and what makes me happy? This was the theme for this ‘Write Over weekend’ by Blogadda and I decided to write away even though I am in the midst of so many other writing assignments. Come join me as I discover the things that make me smile and happy… 🙂

smiley face

  1. My kids and my daughter’s quips (Read my  cooking incident quips) Those don’t just make me smile,  they make everybody roar with laughter! 🙂
  2. Definitely talking 🙂
  3. Shopping(every girl’s dream! :))  I am no means a shopaholic – but shopping is therapeutic..no doubt there… 🙂
  4. Family and friends
  5. Visiting new places and more particularly historic places like Belur Hampi and places that are more in tune with Mother nature like Yercaud in India and Mackinac Island in US
  6. Writing both personal and technical posts. Writing is definitely therapeutic like shopping and looking at the end result of a write up is totally gratifying!

Would you like to write about the things that make you smile and happy? Do check this link.

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’ 

ByJayanthi

After Xth grade, what’s next(India)?

Having asked this question many times over from fellow moms, what better way to answer the questions rather than a blog post! 🙂 After doing extensive research and interviewing a lot of parents to see what would work, these are my findings 🙂 With rules and regulations changing quickly and new facilities appearing, it is good to keep researching continuously.

There are quite a few options to move forward if you are from one of the two popular boards ICSE or CBSE.

  1. ISC for 11th and 12th grade
  2. CBSE for 11th and 12th grade
  3. PU system if you are in a state that offers the same
  4. International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP)
  5. Integrated programs(Allen, FIITJEE, BASE, Akaash and more)

Let us see each of them in a bit of detail:

ISC for 11th and 12th grade 

This is probably the simplest to understand. It is just a continuation of the ICSE syllabus and if you are already in the ICSE board till Xth grade, you might know how ISC for 11th and 12th will be!

If you are opting for ISC for 11th and 12th grade, it will also be better to pair it with other coaching such as FIITJEE, Allen, BASE etc to get professional help for competitive exams.

CBSE board for 11th and 12th grade:

CBSE board for 11th and 12th is also probably the easiest to understand – it is just a continuation of CBSE system. Students might initially feel a jump in 11th grade if you are moving from 10th grade CBSE, but it will all even out eventually. 

If you are opting for CBSE too, for 11th and 12th grade, it will also be better to pair it with other coaching such as FIITJEE, Allen, BASE etc 
to get professional help for competitive exams.

PU college for 11th and 12th grade:

PU(Pre-university exam) college is followed in Karnataka and I am sure in many other states. I do not have much experience with PU colleges and have not done much homework either 🙂 so, I would suggest you to look up appropriate PU colleges in your area and see if they offer integrated PU programs or independant PU programs and what will be best for you.

future

International Baccalaureate® (IB) Diploma Programme (DP)

The IB program is offered in many schools in Bangalore and is much more expensive than other programs. The study method might also be vastly different from the Indian education system. The IB program is mostly for children who want to pursue their undergraduate education abroad. (Note: It is not that kids who have not studied in the IB program cannot do well in undergraduate program abroad – the IB program just gives a head start) On the other hand, kids who do join the IB program “might” find it difficult to get admission through the normal college streams for India.

So, in this regard, if the child is planning to go abroad for undergraduate admission and if you do not need to dig deep into your pockets for funding – go for the IB program – otherwise, if your child is planning to study in India – my idea is to stick with the Indian boards.

Integrated programs:

Engineering and medical entrance exams and coaching were a rage when we studied and it is rage even today. 

Integrated programs offer both 11th and 12th grade classes and coaching for IIT/NEET etc. This is done by institutions such as ALLEN, FIITJEE, various PU colleges. This is expected to lessen the time for kids to shuttle between regular school/PU college and IIT/NEET coaching classes. 

These are some of the options for students to consider after completing Xth grade in India. Most of us parents have to do a lot of homework to see what works for best for us. Sometimes, we are attached to the school and sometimes to our friends circle -so,  as parents I would suggest to:

  1. Ask the child what he/she would like to do(like Physics, Chemistry, Math, Bio or any other subject) and that they are happy doing it
  2. Choose the corresponding school/college liked by both parents and the child
  3. Check whether the child want to study in India/abroad
  4. See if it fits our budget! 🙂
  5. And lastly make sure it is legal

Hope these tips help you make the decision for you and your child!

ByJayanthi

What is it that America cannot give and India can?

I saw this question on Quora and as usual couldn’t resist writing about it… 🙂  This question is obviously aimed only at Indians wishing to move abroad or for the Indian population that is already abroad for a considerable time…So,what is it? what is it? 🙂 Read on… 

Most of us move to the US when we are young in our 20s to pursue higher education or career aspirations. Once all that has been accomplished and we have our dream education, dream lifestyle, dream house, dream car and finally understand what “America” is – we suddenly feel something is missing…what is that you may wonder? Those are family and relationships…

For most of the Indians in the USA, they might be the only member of their family who are there(with occasional extended families on the other coast)  After living in the US for 14 years and now living in India for the past 8 years – I can confidently say that not having your family close by is quite an interesting experience. 

family

Most Indian families in US, talk about their life’s ups and downs only on phone or Skype or Whatsapp or other technological advancements to their parents and occasionally their siblings. Most visit India only once in 2-3 years time to see their parents and families (though if you are in your 30s and beyond – you may visit every year)

Personal experiences:

From my personal experience, I realized we had missed a dozen family engagements, weddings and the next generation was here! Initially, it was alright to miss a wedding, but if we continuously have to miss all the weddings for 14 consecutive years – you definitely know we are living in another planet! We had missed the family outings and the fun conversations and the current family relationships! 🙂  Many people had passed away too and it was a pity to know about it just on the phone…. 

We missed our nieces/nephews/all our cousins and safe to say all of them knew only one thing – “That Uncle/Aunty is in America” is how we were remembered! 🙂

Maybe the most important thing that we miss is the change that time brings about in all of us… which cannot be expressed and which can only be seen and understood…What do you say?

ByJayanthi

Proud InfoSec mom!

I am sure you have heard of InfoSec professional, InfoSec geeks and InfoSec ninjas – but InfoSec mom? yeah – that is me 🙂 As I keep typing my Information security posts on my blog, there are two regular guests who read them and rate them diligently! 🙂 (there are many other diligent readers and I appreciate all your loyalty) – can you guess who the sincere readers are? – they are as you might have guessed – my kids! 🙂 

I am not sure how much they understand about the technical parts of my posts(my son can definitely understand but my daughter might still not be able to) but they do understand some ground rules of Information security.  She for example, always knows that I will not be sharing her pics on social media(except, very very rarely) and keeping the settings to the right level.  It is nice to see them understanding the fine rules of sharing on social media in this oversharing world!

Cyber security

While the son is old enough to have his own social media presence but has refrained from having one(either because of my InfoSec thoughts or it is his own online personality) He is on only one social media platform and is least interested in even having a profile pic for the same! He keeps all his online communication to a low level currently(so proud of him! :))

The daughter steps in diligently and comments “What anti-virus software do you use”  and “I know you will not be sharing pictures of me on social media”. These comments  just keep me smiling and happy! With the husband having this personality, the son staying aloof from social media for now and the daughter understanding the ground rules of Information security, it seems that I am the weakest link in the family perimeter with my constant blogging! 🙂 (but unfortunately, that seems to be my job! )

But still, there is a feeling of a “job well done”, when the house follows and echoes your thoughts…

ByJayanthi

Halloween in India?

When I first got married and moved to the US(several years ago! :)) I hardly knew what ‘Halloween’ was. All I knew was kids were dressed up as ghosts and goblins and asked for treats(and that is all I know today, too! ;)) Fast forward, to today – Oct 31st, 2018 and we are celebrating Halloween in Bangalore, India too! I thought I was done celebrating Halloween for my kids once we moved out of US! But no – we celebrated it from the very first year we moved to Bangalore, India and no one was unhappy! 🙂

And so, to answer my title question, yes, Halloween is celebrated in India! – with the usual tricks and treats! 🙂 But of course, not all of India celebrates it  – only the bigger cities of India which are the melting point of different customs and cultures celebrate it.

How do we celebrate it here?

It is a similar celebration as in the US. There are stores that start selling Halloween costumes and masks well in advance of the Halloween day. The entire Halloween preparation is exciting for the kids. While we don’t have explicit pumpkin patch visits and pumpkin carvings – we  still do the other fun things! 🙂

Kids deciding the costumes, picking them up, buying candy  are all the same fun things as in the US. The marked difference is the weather in Bangalore, India is not that chilly as in Detroit for this time of year.

Halloween

The kids go trick or treating in their respective communities and some communities like ours have close to 400+ flats and one can imagine the amount of treats from all the houses! 

The city of Bangalore boasts of Halloween parties for adults too. There are ‘Spooky Halloween Hip Hop night’ and ‘Halloween Vibes’ as you can eat and dance the night away! 

Did I ever feel I left the US?! 🙂

ByShanthini Rajkumar

Golu

The first memory I have about the story of Goddess Durga was from reading the Amar Chithra Katha comics.They really were a great substitute for when grandmothers were too busy to tell us stories.The vibrant images further enhanced the text.

Even as a child ,the idea of all the goddesses coming together in the creation of an omnipotent Shakti was incredibly appealing.It cemented the thought process that good will always triumph over evil.The picture of Goddess Durga in her full glory with her foot on Mahishasuran thereby putting an end to his tyranny is quite unforgettable.

While the nine days of Navarathri are celebrated with much gaiety in different styles across the country, the festivities commonly signify the power of divine light banishing away darkness and negativity.

The day preceding Navarathri ,a ritual is offered to welcome the Goddess by the arranging of the kalasham. At our uncle’s home, this is usually done by my eldest aunt. The  Goddess is welcomed into the home for nine days of puja and prayer.The blessings derived from these nine days of chanting are shared with visiting friends and family who partake of not just the prasadham (blessed food offering) but all the positive vibes that the home and the hosts have invoked through the rituals.

As we know ,in ancient times, festivals were also a way for families to socialise with one another.So, during the nine days of prayer and song,the women folk ,dressed in finery would display a set of steps ,of any odd number,using wooden planks, line it with cloth and set up their collection of dolls.Now these dolls were traditionally made of wood by talented artisans and were known as marapatchi bommai.These were specially made for the ‘golu’ also referred to as ‘bommai kolu’.

Most families today own dolls that go back several generations.Each year they add a few to their exquisite doll collection.I’ve lost track of the number of stories that I’ve heard over the years while my gaze was either transfixed on a beautiful set of dolls or on a fascinating story that was laid out ,complete with street lights and all.

The top most layer of the step was always for the figurines of gods and goddesses depicting stories from mythology.Time would pass by effortlessly as we sat cross legged and looked at the mighty River Ganga cascading from Lord Shiva’s locks or the story of Gajendra Moksha depicted beautifully…along with countless other stories.

The bottom few steps are just as arresting because they depict scenes from the lives of the common man.From the expressions on the faces of errant children to that of soldiers keeping vigil at our nation’s borders,each detail is the work of master craftsmen.A lot of families also like to stage a different theme each year.All of these makes for delightful kolu visits.

One rarely sits idle in front of a kolu display, children are encouraged to sing familiar devotional songs along with the ladies and it adds a lovely charm to the festivities.The neivediyam (offering of food) is also given a lot of importance.Rice and lentils figure prominently on the menu as do the many traditional desserts like payasam , pongal,laddu etc. Each day rice is flavoured differently using either lemon, coriander,tamarind,curd,coconut etc.No onion or garlic is used during this period as it is believed that the properties brought on by those foods are not beneficial to the body and mind during this period .That’s also a reason why the high protein pulses are cooked daily in the form of delicious sundal.

When children are taught the importance of such festivals and their significance, that’s what paves the way for them to follow suit and also teaches them to embrace their culture rather than to shy away from it as something that is unfamiliar to their thought process.

Even the thamboolam that is gifted to each departing guest  contains items that signify harmony , prosperity and positivity.Betel leaves and areca nut are offered because when the guest leaves with a red stained mouth,it is testimony to being well looked after.Also the betel leaf is synonymous with the Goddess of wealth.Bangles, coconuts ,vermilion ,a new coin all denote that which is revered in our culture. How blessed are we to be a part of such a glorious celebration cloaked in radiance and happiness.

Shanthini Rajkumar

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