Sunday, June 28, 2009

Marriage, Motherhood and ...skateboards?

A placid, laid back summer weekend turned into a moment of reckoning for me today, One moment we were swimming at ProClub, shopping for pink lacy dresses and then suddenly, I was confronting issues like my fidelity to gender equality, my maturity as a mother, my kids' maturity and my ability to let my kids get the winds beneath their wings...or whatever the heck that song was. And finally, there I was pondering the meaning and relevance of marriage - the institution, which brought me full circle debating the gender issue. We were, like a nice yuppie couple, shopping for overpriced kids' clothes at Nordstrom's. And then suddenly, there we were, at Zumiez, browsing skull and crossbones motif skateboards. Yes, skateboards - for my 7 and 4.5 year olds. Our neighbor, my daughter's classmate, just got one. So I knew this was coming. But as I said to the teenager helping us in the store, "This is all happening too fast for me."

Arjun has mentioned a few friends who had cool boards or were learning with the older boys, but we managed to completely block it from our radar. But now that we were in the shop and he was definitely getting one, I debated if li'l Saanya should get one too. I went back and forth between, "Why can't she have one - who says the broken bones from a skateboard are a boys' prerogative?" to "She just bought silver ballet shoes - what does she want with a skateboard?" Anyway, they both got one and, I have to say, they are pretty cool. I just decided to sit back and resisted the urge to bribe them out of the store with a trip to Build-A-Bear - something told me, they weren't going for that today. We came home and I sat on the front porch watching Arjun tentatively try out his moves. Once he fell and scraped his leg - I almost leaped up and scooped him up but he beat me to it. He rubbed his leg and got right back on the skateboard. This would NOT have happened even yesterday - yesterday, he would have come to me for comfort and consoling. Today, there he was blinking back his tears and rubbing his scraped leg, resolutely. I could see he was trying to live up to the responsibility of getting a skateboard. I squished the sorry feeling that rose in me and gave a thumbs up to him, "Way to go, Arjun. You're doing great!"

While the kids were watching their boards being prepped in the store, I did what I always do when I have a spare moment - I whipped out my phone and browsed over to and On one of the two, or between the two of them, what caught my eye was an articles talking about an article..and a book. Between the two, I spent a good deal of time pondering marriage (or the end of it) and love (or the end of it).

The byline (or whatever its called) for this article by Sandra Tsing Loh reads The author is ending her marriage. Isn’t it time you did the same? It talks about the author's decision to end her marriage, how she struggles and finally gives in to the massive and by her implication, impossible task of sustaining a household, kids and a marriage. I've been fascinated by the western openness to discussing private but still universal issues. I read this article with fascination and mulled over it at some length today - does marriage turn us into monotonous drudges?

Lamenting the same fact with a bit more wistful longing for that unadulterated passionate love of Harlequin novels or Mills & Boon romances, as I knew them, growing up, is this book "A Vindication of Love" by Cristina Nehring. I have not read the book and probably will not but I did read the review in the New York times last Sunday. It sounds exciting, if not completely practical.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The One and Only - remembering Michael from India to New York

Of course, it's all about Michael Jackson today. Like him, love him, hate him couldn't ignore him. In the remote army cantonments where my Dad was posted in India, Michael was my first connection to American pop culture. We laughed nervously at his weird appearance but still put up posters in our bedroom and couldn't stop tapping and dancing to "Beat It". Boys in school walked around with the fingers cut off from the wool gloves their moms lovingly knot for them. I know Puneet permed his hair (he's going to kill me for this) and although he might not admit it, I definitely see the Jacko influence there. MJ came to India throwing the teens and parents of India into passionate frenzies - on opposing ends of the passion spectrum, but still. You couldn't just ignore it. I of course, could not even dream of going. But Puneet did and his Dad refused and prevailed. Oneof the first songs I remember watching when MTV came to India was Black or White. I loved the montage at the end - it was the height of artistic philosophy for me at that time.

In 2001, we finally got to attend a MJ concert at Madison Square Garden in New York. Puneet's cousin called and left us a mysterious message "I have good news. Call Me!" We speculated he had gotten engaged - but the news was better, much better. We had tickets to the sold out Michael Jackson concert. We had the worst seats in the hall - right BEHIND the stage where Michael was performing Eventually, we did make our way to the better areas and ended up having an AMAZING, UNFORGETTABLE night.
The next day, we planned to go to work and gloat in the fact that we were there - at Madison Square Garden in front of all colleagues, friends - anyone who would listen. our plans were thwarted - the next day was Sept 11, 2001.

Whatever else may have happened, Michael created some great music and for those of us that grew up on that music, this is a sad day.

Tributes and pictures are everywhere - I thought this slide show detailing Michael's life in People covers is interesting,,20213399_20356285,00.html essay - When Michael was cool

Also on Salon is the catalog of celeb tweets in response to the news of Michael's passing.

Rest in Peace..Michael.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Backstory on Mir Hossein Mousavi and a cheeky take on Parenthood.

So much going on in Iran, if you're like me and want to peel the onion a bit, here is a good piece by Laura Secor on the Washington Note about the history between Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Ali Khamenei. There is also a link here to a more expanded piece.

Because I can't make myself read through any more depressing news about Iran or the Health Care Plan or about the train crash in DC, I will not subject you to it either. There's always or if you must, for that kind of stuff. Instead - let's panic about babies. Yes, you read that right. One of my biggest peeves with being a parent in America is the general hyper-anxiety that is supposed to come with it. Overall, I do not stress about my kids - I get mad, but I do not stress. It actually drives me a little crazy to see that the more a kid has, the more the parents worry about the kid. Look at us, look at our kids - I honestly have never believed that any kid in my social circle will starve or go without an education or be brain damaged due to sleep deprivation. I truly do not worry about kids skipping a meal or scratching the wood floors or staying up till (gasp) 10PM. So, needless to say, I'm a little annoyed in the company of supermoms who get worked up over nap schedules or will spend hours talking about meal planning for toddlers. I do, sometimes, feel pressurd to worry - as in, "Is something wrong with me? Am I not a good mother? Why do I not worry about my kids? So what if they are good kids in a generally healthy home going to great schools? I should find something wrong!!!"
So with all the above said, I want to introduce everyone to ...drumroll, new favorite site "Let's Panic About Babies" Its hilarious, witty, more than tongue-in-cheek and the best part is, it makes me feel vindicated! Hurray for that.

And to finish off in the catty vein, here's a nice little ditty for you to enjoy

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day

We've had a good start to Father's Day..I end up projecting my perfect day onto birthdays and Father's Day for Puneet. He got coffee in bed with some fresh fruit and the newspaper..the actual NY Times in paper. That thing is $, I had no idea. Anyway, he's reading in bed now while we prep for breakfast. We have a few more things planned ..hope he enjoys. He deserves it.

I read this great essay on about Father's Day. Its called feminism meets Father's Day & it is a great read.

And finally for today, if you find yourself in an emergency, run for your life and DO NOT STOP TO TWITTER FIRST - check this out on

Friday, June 19, 2009


Short post for today..I'm exhausted from the week. It's annual review time at work - time for high intrigue and drama! My manager stopped by after a meeting where he discussed me and my performance and he looked very tired...encouraging or not, There is so much advice out there about managing your career and some of it is downright conflicting, cancelling out. ending up in zero - you get the point. For instance, people have told me "You are responsible for your own career, no one else will manage it for you. Everyday, you need to be thinking about your career." And then others who say."Dont focus too much on your career, it will distract from your work." I was incredulous when I heard that last piece of advice, but slowly I'm coming to see the wisdom of it. Here is my takeaway - You need to be thinking and planning your career, aware of the direction you're taking, the skills you're adding and where you're headed in a year, 2 years or 5. But on a day to day basis, do the best you can and dont stress over things you cant control. Things like how well others are doing and what they are getting credit for.

And on that piece of advice, here is a nice post from the Brazen Careerist - it talks about perceptions and how you create them to your advantage. You've probably read that good looking people do better in interviews (now you know!). Read on for some good advice on creating impressions of tallness (they say it helps)

Have a great weekend. Happy Father's Day!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Summer Vacation...Foxy times & Jimmy Choo shoes

Last day of school today...summer vacation started. Hard to believe first grade is over. Arjun brought home a great report card- so proud of him! The only area he needs to practice is on time management...the kid's a dreamer and a perfectionist. Not a good combination when you need to get stuff done on a timeline. I'm going to be investing in a loud egg timer this summer - hope that helps.

Had our usual diner time argument with Saanya who refused to eat the stir fry I made, which was quite good, if I do say so myself.
The conversation went something like this
Me - "Saanya, you like baby corn. Eat the baby corn."
Saanya - "No mommy, I used to like it. I don't anymore."
Me - "OK, well, you still have to eat it."
Saanya - "Mommy, you're not the boss of me."
Me - "Yes, I am."
Arjun pitches in - "Yes, Saanya, she is. She really is."
Saanya - "Mommy, and you're being mean."
Me - "Bosses are supposed to be mean."
Saanya - "No, Mommy. No one is supposed to be mean. It makes other people sad."
As usual, I ran out of stuff to say after that.

On to bigger stories, check out the DailyKos site for coverage of Fox News crying foul at the fact that ABC will be inside the White House broadcasting a special prime time report on the health care reform plan. They are upset because it is one channel getting this access...and its not them. DailyKos has this amusing clip about Fox being caught with its pants down - guess what, they had the same access and more, to the Bush White House. Watch them crying foul below - and then being exposed. Not that it matters to Fox or it's watchers. Read the article on too.

Jimmy Choo and budget..words not typically belonging in the same sentence. But its a brave new world we live in. None other than the WSJ report that Jimmy Choo will design a special line for H&M. Check out the story here and then get in line.

Sorry to end on a depressing note but I found this great blog called the The Big Picture - its part of the Boston Globe now and has an amazing series of photojournalsm stories. The latest one is on West Bank and the Jewish settlements there. You have to check it out.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Coat Hooks

It all started with this post from Cool Mom Picks talking about this cool little Robot Coat Hook. My curiosity was piqued and I decided to do some research into other cool, interesting coat hooks. Seems like a lot of people had the same question.

Check out this post from - responding to a user question about.."cool coat hooks."

If your taste is a little bit more wacky and out there, I loved some of these in this post on

Although I couldn't find a picture on the site, my local favorite is Kasala and I remember seeing some nice coat hooks there.
Finally, I need to confess that on my last trip to Vancouver, BC, we stumbled upon this shop - NOOD (it stands for New Objects of Desire) and I ended up buying a few of their Hangmen coat hooks, mostly because I thought the name was cute. The hooks themselves are pretty cute but they are sitting in the cabinet, waiting to be put up and actually be of use in the house. So browse, enjoy and if you end up getting some stuff, hang it up right away!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Growing Up

Mom and Dad left for India after 3 months with us in Seattle - time to grow up and take charge of my life again. Magical, how responsibility has a way of spurring action. When I knew Mom would take care of breakfast and lunches for the kids, I struggled to wake at 7:30 AM, today I was up at 5:30 AM - we'll see how long this lasts.
Before they left, we snuck in a trip to Mt Rainier - awesome, in the literal sense of the word. Every time I venture out to explore, I am awed at the beauty of the Pacific Northwest and wonder why I don't get out more. Check out some pics of the trip.

The Middle East has dominated the news for the weekend. Of course the elections in Iran are top of mind. I saw a small group of people gathered near the Bellevue Square Mall, protesting the elections. I honked in support but would like to do more. As the protests get louder, the crackdown gets harsher. What's more fascinating is watching the events play out in the social media. Check out the photos on Flickr. There are also Twitter updates and Facebook pages devoted to the issue. Go to for a first hand, on the ground account of the post election reality in Iran. Here is a protest video on Youtube

In case you were heralding the speech of Israeli President Netanyahu recognizing the two state solution, here is an analysis of why the statements leave a lot to be desired before we can recognize a maturity in the Israel-Palestine relations.

Happy Monday everyone!!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Tingle Stools and Sno-Cone Cocktails

It is HOT in Seattle these days and no, I am NOT going to complain. Even though there is no air conditioning at most homes and my car is usually burning up after I return to it from shopping or work or anything, I will still not complain about the glorious, wondrous heat. With the hot weather come (hopefully) outdoor BBQs, deck parties and summery cocktails. So here is the daily round up for summery days ahead.

Head over to Design*Sponge today to check out these tingle stools by luxxbox. She provides a full rundown of why she likes them - all valid reasons. I love the colors - very cute and modern. I went to the luxxbox site and found other interesting stuff too.

Stay on design*sponge and check out the Before and After Makeover of this bedroom. I couldn't do this if Puneet took a yearlong business trip, forget 2 weeks. But if you are artistically inclined, get inspired and get going.

Check out the Gourmet magazine site to find the recipe for Madras cocktail. It looks like a snocone & you can tell me how it tastes.

Next stop - Apartment Therapy. I loved this article on summer drinks and lovely dispensers for them.

Hope you have fun enjoying these summer finds. I'm off to a training today and then helping out at Arjun's school for "Taste of Japan" They have octopus on the menu - hopefully my kids will be more adventurous eaters than me. Have a sunny, warm weekend.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Charity & Empathy

My parents are visiting from India and in the true fashion of grandparents everywhere, they have done all they can to spoil the kids in the 3 months they have spent with us. Not too long ago, Dad gave Arjun, my year old (6 and 3 quarters, actually) $20, ostensibly so he could buy more toys to add to his overflowing closet or more candy for his plaque-ridden teeth. Anyway, Arjun came back from school a week later and informed everyone that he had donated the entire amount, plus a few dollars from his 4 year old sister's savings (with her permission, of course) to "Pennies for Peace", a charity his school is running to support schools and education in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mom, seeing her $20 or close to Rs 1000, go down the drain, threw a fit and told Arjun that money was for him. She further advised him that you donate minimal amounts to charity - a dollar or two. Arjun promptly, and indignantly, responded, "Nani, is it more important for me to have stuff or for the kids in Afghanistan to get an education? If I donated a dollar, only kid would get an education, now 20 kids can."
So, understandably, Mom had nothing to say and is now bragging to one and all about her grandson's benevolence. I have to admit, my first reaction when I heard of his magnanimity, was also to say, "What, the entire $20?" But I came to see the wisdom of his ways and had to pat his back and admire his clarity and prioritization.

Saanya, last night, told me she watched a movie in school about a magic school bus. She said some kid went to space and rather, misguidedly, removed his helmet in space and his head froze "like a popsicle". She went on to say,"It was very sad, Mommy."
"Really, Saanya? What did you do when you felt sad?" She looked at me puzzled and then said,"Nothing. It was a movie, Mom."
Lesson #2 - Do not get involved in a movie. The sad scene is, just

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Thembi Ngubane Yesterday on NPR, I heard this story of a brave young woman who succumbed to AIDS. But before that, she kept a radio diary for NPR. I heard a few excerpts and choked up. Listen to it on the NPR website - helps put things in perspective.

I made it to the gym yesterday after a few weeks and noticed a change. In between the lockers there used to be long benches . Those have now been replaced by stand along stools - two between each row of lockers. Apparently, sharing a common bench where anyone could place their gym stuff got too much for the patrons of the elite gym. For the emphasis placed on teaching kids to "share", the adults in America are pretty lousy at it. Personal Space and the ultimate importance of it in American life is a concept I first noticed this when I rode the Metro North or the Long Island Rail Road in New York. Throughout the crowded trains, all the 3 seat seats would hold two people, sitting on far ends and hiding behind their newspapers, magazines, iPods - anything to avoid random conversation. People would stand for upwards of an hour but not sit on the middle seats. I did that once - just for fun and made the two men around me so uncomfortable. They wanted to leave so bad but the seat rightfully belonged to them - I was the interloper. They stuck it out that day but I'm sure they took long showers after they got home - touching another human being - the horror!!

In the Air France story, 2 bodies have been recovered from Atlantic Ocean. Also emerging is some noise about Airbus having issued an advisory about some equipment on the plane. There is the usual denying of wrongdoing and CYA (cover your a**). Of course, nothing's going to bring back the people lost. The entire story gives me the chills when I think about how dependent we are on corporations doing the right thing. BBC reports that the plane actually sent 24 error messages in the minutes before it disappeared. Here's the full story.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

assalam alaikum

President Obama gives his historic speech in Cairo..I heard someone on Fox say that she thought she was at an MTV concert, as if that was a bad thing!! Well, actually, I take that back. I dont know how anyone over..lets say 25 could feel at home at an MTV concert, let along someone that wold be invited to Fox. Anyway, I loved his greeting. Call me provincial, call me petty but I'm willing to give a chance to anyone who say Sat Sri Akal to me.

On a personal note, I met with some old colleagues today. We got talking about how I like my new job - still at Microsoft but different group. Here's the great epiphany for today - I don't have to LOVE my job (not saying that I don't) but anyway, as long as the job can keep me engaged, give me interesting stuff to do and have smart people around me who can teach me a thing or two, it's all good. That seems like a lot to ask from a job but believe it or not I at least have always wanted more. So here's the gist of the discussion today from a few old timers ( read older and wiser)
1. Learn to Settle - You do not need to LOVE your job - you just need to like it enough
2. Look for the right things - As long as you can get things done and keep moving forward, its all good. End of the day, you need something to hang your hat on. Busy work is no good. Free office supplies cannot make up for job content.
3. Get some hobbies - Having other things going in life is a good thing - it'll keep you from obsessing about your job
4. It's all about YOU - Worry about what you need to get done, stop obsessing about what's fair- if you're thinking about what others are doing, chances are you're not going to be in job bliss
5. Get efficient about your work - that means planning your calendar, planning your communications and limiting the time you're available to your team. 24/7 access is NOT a good thing.
6. Stick Around - All the superstars/rising stars I've observed around me are folks who are smart but have also been around the company or the industry for some time. So do not throw up your hands and walk out the minute it gets boring or stupid or hard. Of course, when you've given it your all and things are not working, time to start looking.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Weisure Anyone?

So, CNN has an article today about "Weisure Time" - leisure and work. Check it out here - but tell me this, is this news to you? Sadly (or not), its the way our life has been for some time now. I've tried and failed repeatedly to create a computer free zone or time in my house and it doesn't happen. I have a permanent crick in my shoulder from keyboard and trackpad use, Puneet would start hyperventilating if I took his iPhone away from him and my kids will clean their room from top to bottom if I promise them 30 min on the computer. On our last vacation, Puneet conducted an interview en route and we were both working nonstop in Cancun, Mexico. Doesn't look like it, huh? Well, that's the trick.

Along with sunnier climes outside, things at Microsoft are also looking good. I am loving the new Search Engine - Bing. If you have not already, check it out- GO NOW! It's getting great reviews and the pictures on the home page with the little mouseover nuggets are pretty awesome. I love it - tell me what you think.
Also head on over to to check out this article on Microsoft's new controller for XBox. And if you want to know more, just Bing it! Join the Facebook Bing fan club. Here's a video