Monthly Archives: November 2007

Trunk Show

Babu is finally home! and we are now feeling some relief. The kids and I left early morning to pick him up at 9:30 at BWI. Both Venumadhava and Madhumati puked during the car ride down to Baltimore. Honestly, I thought it was the perfect end to the most imperfect month. Poetic justice indeed.

After our family was reunited we headed to the Baltimore Aquarium, took in the dolphin show, started feeling depressed when looking at the puffins encased in a glass room with no where to fly, bought some overpriced juice and chips at the cafeteria (11 bucks!!!) and made for the car.

My husband had a wonderful trip. When I asked him what he would have done differently when teaching his course, he replied, “Nothing.” It went that well. He and the nurses, all of whom were away from their families as well, became very close and the pictures my husband shared with me showed that. The nurses as well as the Bombay devotees all took great care of him.

Once home, my husband was eager to unpack all the clothes he brought back for us. Venumadhava and him each have matching silk kurtas. The tailor remarked that this was some rich four year old. I know this insn’t what we are aspiring for, but I have to say my kid looks like a real lady killer in his mandarin collared long kurtas.

For all the shoppers out there, here’s the part you are interested in. (I am such a spaz. But whatever.) I got four beautiful South Indian cotton handloom saris in muted lilac, olive, burnt orange and teal. I am not a huge teal fan but the ladies who took my husband shopping insisted he get me something more colorful. It will be good for everyday wear.

Additionally he had a ton of skirts/ghagras sewn for me(some of which look remarkably similar to petticoats because they are solid colors but, again, whatever.) And to go with the skirts, kameez tops, which the tailor thought was an odd combination. There are three bandhini outfits, some chikan and eyelet, etc. I am feeling very satisfied and materially rewarded for my month as a single mom.

But, what I was most excited about were Madhumati’s dresses. I bought a pattern at Walmart, although the tailor disregarded it in lieu of going off the picture. Despite this daredevil sewing method, the dresses all look spledid. The neckline is a little low, as if modeled on a choli, but nevertheless, I love them.

So, here is a pictures of 20 of my little girl’s 21 dresses (she is wearing a pink paisley/butterfly dress today, number 21). Her closet is now officially full. I feel like we just did shopping for her dowry. Anyone looking to make a match? Our daughter is well supplied…They are slightly large on her since she is so small but considering there are so many, it will take her a couple of growth spurts to get through them all.

Oh, and the other highlight was the rickshaw toy my husband brought back. Tres Indian!

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Trunk Show

Babu is finally home! and we are now feeling some relief. The kids and I left early morning to pick him up at 9:30 at BWI. Both Venumadhava and Madhumati puked during the car ride down to Baltimore. Honestly, I thought it was the perfect end to the most imperfect month. Poetic justice indeed.

After our family was reunited we headed to the Baltimore Aquarium, took in the dolphin show, started feeling depressed when looking at the puffins encased in a glass room with no where to fly, bought some overpriced juice and chips at the cafeteria (11 bucks!!!) and made for the car.

My husband had a wonderful trip. When I asked him what he would have done differently when teaching his course, he replied, “Nothing.” It went that well. He and the nurses, all of whom were away from their families as well, became very close and the pictures my husband shared with me showed that. The nurses as well as the Bombay devotees all took great care of him.

Once home, my husband was eager to unpack all the clothes he brought back for us. Venumadhava and him each have matching silk kurtas. The tailor remarked that this was some rich four year old. I know this insn’t what we are aspiring for, but I have to say my kid looks like a real lady killer in his mandarin collared long kurtas.

For all the shoppers out there, here’s the part you are interested in. (I am such a spaz. But whatever.) I got four beautiful South Indian cotton handloom saris in muted lilac, olive, burnt orange and teal. I am not a huge teal fan but the ladies who took my husband shopping insisted he get me something more colorful. It will be good for everyday wear.

Additionally he had a ton of skirts/ghagras sewn for me(some of which look remarkably similar to petticoats because they are solid colors but, again, whatever.) And to go with the skirts, kameez tops, which the tailor thought was an odd combination. There are three bandhini outfits, some chikan and eyelet, etc. I am feeling very satisfied and materially rewarded for my month as a single mom.

But, what I was most excited about were Madhumati’s dresses. I bought a pattern at Walmart, although the tailor disregarded it in lieu of going off the picture. Despite this daredevil sewing method, the dresses all look spledid. The neckline is a little low, as if modeled on a choli, but nevertheless, I love them.

So, here is a pictures of 20 of my little girl’s 21 dresses (she is wearing a pink paisley/butterfly dress today, number 21). Her closet is now officially full. I feel like we just did shopping for her dowry. Anyone looking to make a match? Our daughter is well supplied…They are slightly large on her since she is so small but considering there are so many, it will take her a couple of growth spurts to get through them all.

Oh, and the other highlight was the rickshaw toy my husband brought back. Tres Indian!

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

My Boy is Four!!! That’s BIG!!!!!

Happy 4th Birthday to my dear son, Venumadhava Das!Thank you for giving me such a crazy extreme natural child birth. Thank you for being such a clingy needy boy. You teach me so much and give me so much in return. You are the best cuddler, the best hot water bottle on those cold winter nites. You are always the perfect size to fit in my arms. Always be my mama’s boy! Well, until you’re like seven. Then that would just be kind of weird.


Happy Birthday brand new baby boy!!!


Looking cute while mata cooks breakfast for Candramauli Swami


Always in the backpack…at Sayreville’s first Ratha Yatra down Washington Road…mata just pregnant with Madhumati…


Better late than never! Walking at 14 months in North Carolina



There were some rough patches…


With some head injuries along the way…


But so far life’s been pretty tolerable.


Now if only my babu would come home from Bombay…

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

My Boy is Four!!! That’s BIG!!!!!

Happy 4th Birthday to my dear son, Venumadhava Das!Thank you for giving me such a crazy extreme natural child birth. Thank you for being such a clingy needy boy. You teach me so much and give me so much in return. You are the best cuddler, the best hot water bottle on those cold winter nites. You are always the perfect size to fit in my arms. Always be my mama’s boy! Well, until you’re like seven. Then that would just be kind of weird.


Happy Birthday brand new baby boy!!!


Looking cute while mata cooks breakfast for Candramauli Swami


Always in the backpack…at Sayreville’s first Ratha Yatra down Washington Road…mata just pregnant with Madhumati…


Better late than never! Walking at 14 months in North Carolina



There were some rough patches…


With some head injuries along the way…


But so far life’s been pretty tolerable.


Now if only my babu would come home from Bombay…

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Don’t ask me how my Thanksgiving was…

Because if you do, I’d have to answer, “Great.”

I didn’t want it to be great. I didn’t want to have a good time. I wanted to go to M. Acuyta’s and be like, see, this stinks. I don’t fit here. I don’t even like it here! We are moving to Alachua and that’s that.

But as the devotees started to arrive, and I saw faces I haven’t seen in the weeks since my husband went to Bombay and I decided to bloop, well, my heart began to ache. I couldn’t think about moving.

Venumadhava, Akincana, Madhumati and I were downstairs watching a video of the Manipuri dancers while waiting for things to get going. We headed upstairs when the kirtan began. A slow start, but it was wonderful chanting with Lila Katha, Mother Kaulini, Jagannatha Prabhu and the other devotees. Venumadhava was getting antsy; thankfully Kirtan Rasa arrived just in time to keep Venumadhava in the temple room. Mother Loka gave me a big hug and a smile and I just felt so relieved to see Sahadeva Prabhu.

When it was time for Gita Nagari’s famous “sharing” moment, Gandiva started by saying he was thankful for the 9 years he had with his wife, Mother Lalitamrta . I didn’t get a chance to speak with him much but was moved to tears just seeing him. His head-felt obeisances, chapatis and toothless grin are as much a part of Gita Nagari, in my mind at least, as Radha Damodara and the cows.

After sharing, M. Cintamani asked for 6 volunteers. I quickly turned myself over to her while Tamal demonstrated his intelligence asking what people were volunteering for. It was then that I realized that was the problem of my life. Well, okay, only one of them, but still a problem. I should ask questions first, surrender later. Just when I was starting to get nervous I was informed that I had volunteered to be part of the first in line for prasadam. Works for me. Of course, the prasadam was heavy on the starches (gluten kabobs, 2 types of stuffing, mashed potatos, bread, gravy, etc.) and gave me an instant belly ache. I think my tummy is not used to “American Fare,” so even though I did not pig out, I got done in and am still hurting.

And then, the real fun began. A bunch of us assembled in the temple room for “the game,” which turned out to be charades. These types of games always make me anxious since I know even fewer pastimes than I do philosphy. But thankfully, Tamal and Lila did not get esoteric (Krishna dresses as Lalita and swings with Radharani!!!) and pretty much stuck to the basics.

The teams were fairly even, with Madhava, Jagannatha Pandit and Sri Vrindavan heading up one side and Sahadeva, Yasoda-Mayi and myself serving up the opposition. Our team was behind the first seven rounds and then it was neck and neck until the end. There has never been and will never be (well, not until next year) a more wild game of Krishna charades. This was more like 1980’s Chinatown street fighting than 1960’s hippies dancing in Tompkins Square Park. We lost by a single point. A few of us took Jagannatha Pandit out back and roughed him up a bit. Let’s see if he’ll be so quick to shout out “Krishna dancing on the hoods of Kaliya serpant!!!” next year. Not if he knows what’s good for him.

Mother Sri Vrindavan said that she hasn’t been this uninhibited in years. I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing since her kids deserted the room and her husband hid downstairs until the charades were over. In the end, everyone was a winner and Akincana rewarded us all with a piece of candy from his personal stash.

After charades the majority of folks headed home. As the crowd dispersed I saw the shining moonlike face of Balaramacandra Prabhu. I was so happy to see him since he was one of only a few people I actually knew who attended my wedding. We sat together while he honored the feast and I listened to him talk of his preaching efforts at Ohio University in Athens.

Amazingly warm, charasmatic yet mellow, Balaramacandra’s loving personality is the key to the successful program he runs at the university. His Vegan Cooking Club has 300 members, 130 of which regularly attend the weekly cooking class. They all cook a meal together while Balaramacandra gives himself 100% to the students. He is is sort of like a celebrity guru, in my opinion.

Additionally, he runs a morning program at the preaching center, a rented house near campus. Some students even accept “The Challenge,” where they vow for one week to go to bed by 11 pm, wake up before sunrise, shower, chant a round of japa and then read for fifteen minutes. Additionally,they endeavor to abstain from intoxication (or at least for the ones addicted to cigarettes, regulate it), not lie, eat vegetarian (no eggs) and be celebate (including no pornography or mastrubation). While not everyone is able to satisfy the vow, they usually finish up the week with a ton of respect for a clean and pure lifestyle. Balaramacandra said that the students just feel so much better from getting 7 hours of sleep that it doesn’t take much else to convince them.

But what was most interesting to me was what Balaramacandra said in answer to my question about girls. Surely in his position many college girls must develop huge crushes on him. What does he do?

He began by saying that sometimes he has to have a talk with them and say…

And this is where I interjected. “What, that you’re a monk?”

“No, I never say that. Everything is kept really on a personal level.”

He explains to the girls the priniciples of the life he has chosen. That he has to remain true to himself. I really respected his answer and it reminded me of our conversation during the summer with HG Pusta Krishna Prabhu. Prabhuji, when speaking to my husband and I about raising kids, strongly stated that you have to know yourself and be true to yourself.

It is a much sounder position to place oneself in in terms of raising children. To fallback on “We don’t do this because we are devotees” or “Prabhupada said” or “That is not what devotees do/That is not pleasing to Prabhupada” is kind of weak. These are thoughtless arguments based on institutional ideas which are not very compelling. They are simple, not nuanced. While I don’t fault the mindset, especially if someone has deeply thought about the reasoning behind them (ie Srila Prabhupada is a pure devotee who has my best interest at heart), the glibness of the soundbite does not convey the complexity of internalizing and understanding the what and the why of what one is doing.

We should do the right thing. We should have values. We should teach our children morality based on logic, not random decontextualized quotes. We should function as a family unit and have something personal to give our children. We should speak from our level of realization. In this way, we can be relevant. Not just to our children but to whomever we share our life with.

Later that evening the kids and I went to the temple, took darsan of Sri Sri Radha Damodara and chanted Damodarastakam with Jagannatha Prabhu and BCd. It was the 8 o’clock aroti and my kids were all over the place. Before the chanting was finished, they were writhing about, crying. Not in ectasy but exhaustion. We got our shoes, emerged into the brisk moonlit nite and rushed towards the car. None of us had our coats and our bodies contracted in the cold air. Venumadhava was the most uncomfortable, calling for me to put the hot air on inside the car. As I turned the wheel towards the farm rode I thought back to my wedding day. Balaramacandra assisted Jambavan. He added wood to the yajna fire and drew seven circles on the floor for me to step into. The circles represented different vows of the marriage, including working together for happiness in family life.

Later that evening, after I put the childrent to bed, I called my husband in Bombay and told him about our happy Thanksgiving. We began to discuss how we could stay at Gita Nagari, ways to survive 4 hours of commuting to bring the kids to Montessori in State College and talking about what is really important for successful family life. We ended the conversation meditating on the words of Balaramacandra and Pusta Krishna. It was a peaceful and hopeful goodnite.

And then the next morning, Venumadhava woke up and I asked him if he would like to stay in Gita Nagari and go to school with non-devotee kids who were very nice or would he like to move to Alachua and go to school with devotee kids. With a scowl on his face he said, “Uh-uh. I want to move to Alachula.” I told him that we wouldn’t get to see the Gita Nagari devotees very much if he did. “I like the Deities in Alachula!”

About an hour later he was asking for his friends to come over and play. All the boys here are older than him by at least three years. It was then that I called my husband and we both came to the same conclusion.

We’ll go and check it out.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Don’t ask me how my Thanksgiving was…

Because if you do, I’d have to answer, “Great.”

I didn’t want it to be great. I didn’t want to have a good time. I wanted to go to M. Acuyta’s and be like, see, this stinks. I don’t fit here. I don’t even like it here! We are moving to Alachua and that’s that.

But as the devotees started to arrive, and I saw faces I haven’t seen in the weeks since my husband went to Bombay and I decided to bloop, well, my heart began to ache. I couldn’t think about moving.

Venumadhava, Akincana, Madhumati and I were downstairs watching a video of the Manipuri dancers while waiting for things to get going. We headed upstairs when the kirtan began. A slow start, but it was wonderful chanting with Lila Katha, Mother Kaulini, Jagannatha Prabhu and the other devotees. Venumadhava was getting antsy; thankfully Kirtan Rasa arrived just in time to keep Venumadhava in the temple room. Mother Loka gave me a big hug and a smile and I just felt so relieved to see Sahadeva Prabhu.

When it was time for Gita Nagari’s famous “sharing” moment, Gandiva started by saying he was thankful for the 9 years he had with his wife, Mother Lalitamrta . I didn’t get a chance to speak with him much but was moved to tears just seeing him. His head-felt obeisances, chapatis and toothless grin are as much a part of Gita Nagari, in my mind at least, as Radha Damodara and the cows.

After sharing, M. Cintamani asked for 6 volunteers. I quickly turned myself over to her while Tamal demonstrated his intelligence asking what people were volunteering for. It was then that I realized that was the problem of my life. Well, okay, only one of them, but still a problem. I should ask questions first, surrender later. Just when I was starting to get nervous I was informed that I had volunteered to be part of the first in line for prasadam. Works for me. Of course, the prasadam was heavy on the starches (gluten kabobs, 2 types of stuffing, mashed potatos, bread, gravy, etc.) and gave me an instant belly ache. I think my tummy is not used to “American Fare,” so even though I did not pig out, I got done in and am still hurting.

And then, the real fun began. A bunch of us assembled in the temple room for “the game,” which turned out to be charades. These types of games always make me anxious since I know even fewer pastimes than I do philosphy. But thankfully, Tamal and Lila did not get esoteric (Krishna dresses as Lalita and swings with Radharani!!!) and pretty much stuck to the basics.

The teams were fairly even, with Madhava, Jagannatha Pandit and Sri Vrindavan heading up one side and Sahadeva, Yasoda-Mayi and myself serving up the opposition. Our team was behind the first seven rounds and then it was neck and neck until the end. There has never been and will never be (well, not until next year) a more wild game of Krishna charades. This was more like 1980’s Chinatown street fighting than 1960’s hippies dancing in Tompkins Square Park. We lost by a single point. A few of us took Jagannatha Pandit out back and roughed him up a bit. Let’s see if he’ll be so quick to shout out “Krishna dancing on the hoods of Kaliya serpant!!!” next year. Not if he knows what’s good for him.

Mother Sri Vrindavan said that she hasn’t been this uninhibited in years. I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing since her kids deserted the room and her husband hid downstairs until the charades were over. In the end, everyone was a winner and Akincana rewarded us all with a piece of candy from his personal stash.

After charades the majority of folks headed home. As the crowd dispersed I saw the shining moonlike face of Balaramacandra Prabhu. I was so happy to see him since he was one of only a few people I actually knew who attended my wedding. We sat together while he honored the feast and I listened to him talk of his preaching efforts at Ohio University in Athens.

Amazingly warm, charasmatic yet mellow, Balaramacandra’s loving personality is the key to the successful program he runs at the university. His Vegan Cooking Club has 300 members, 130 of which regularly attend the weekly cooking class. They all cook a meal together while Balaramacandra gives himself 100% to the students. He is is sort of like a celebrity guru, in my opinion.

Additionally, he runs a morning program at the preaching center, a rented house near campus. Some students even accept “The Challenge,” where they vow for one week to go to bed by 11 pm, wake up before sunrise, shower, chant a round of japa and then read for fifteen minutes. Additionally,they endeavor to abstain from intoxication (or at least for the ones addicted to cigarettes, regulate it), not lie, eat vegetarian (no eggs) and be celebate (including no pornography or mastrubation). While not everyone is able to satisfy the vow, they usually finish up the week with a ton of respect for a clean and pure lifestyle. Balaramacandra said that the students just feel so much better from getting 7 hours of sleep that it doesn’t take much else to convince them.

But what was most interesting to me was what Balaramacandra said in answer to my question about girls. Surely in his position many college girls must develop huge crushes on him. What does he do?

He began by saying that sometimes he has to have a talk with them and say…

And this is where I interjected. “What, that you’re a monk?”

“No, I never say that. Everything is kept really on a personal level.”

He explains to the girls the priniciples of the life he has chosen. That he has to remain true to himself. I really respected his answer and it reminded me of our conversation during the summer with HG Pusta Krishna Prabhu. Prabhuji, when speaking to my husband and I about raising kids, strongly stated that you have to know yourself and be true to yourself.

It is a much sounder position to place oneself in in terms of raising children. To fallback on “We don’t do this because we are devotees” or “Prabhupada said” or “That is not what devotees do/That is not pleasing to Prabhupada” is kind of weak. These are thoughtless arguments based on institutional ideas which are not very compelling. They are simple, not nuanced. While I don’t fault the mindset, especially if someone has deeply thought about the reasoning behind them (ie Srila Prabhupada is a pure devotee who has my best interest at heart), the glibness of the soundbite does not convey the complexity of internalizing and understanding the what and the why of what one is doing.

We should do the right thing. We should have values. We should teach our children morality based on logic, not random decontextualized quotes. We should function as a family unit and have something personal to give our children. We should speak from our level of realization. In this way, we can be relevant. Not just to our children but to whomever we share our life with.

Later that evening the kids and I went to the temple, took darsan of Sri Sri Radha Damodara and chanted Damodarastakam with Jagannatha Prabhu and BCd. It was the 8 o’clock aroti and my kids were all over the place. Before the chanting was finished, they were writhing about, crying. Not in ectasy but exhaustion. We got our shoes, emerged into the brisk moonlit nite and rushed towards the car. None of us had our coats and our bodies contracted in the cold air. Venumadhava was the most uncomfortable, calling for me to put the hot air on inside the car. As I turned the wheel towards the farm rode I thought back to my wedding day. Balaramacandra assisted Jambavan. He added wood to the yajna fire and drew seven circles on the floor for me to step into. The circles represented different vows of the marriage, including working together for happiness in family life.

Later that evening, after I put the childrent to bed, I called my husband in Bombay and told him about our happy Thanksgiving. We began to discuss how we could stay at Gita Nagari, ways to survive 4 hours of commuting to bring the kids to Montessori in State College and talking about what is really important for successful family life. We ended the conversation meditating on the words of Balaramacandra and Pusta Krishna. It was a peaceful and hopeful goodnite.

And then the next morning, Venumadhava woke up and I asked him if he would like to stay in Gita Nagari and go to school with non-devotee kids who were very nice or would he like to move to Alachua and go to school with devotee kids. With a scowl on his face he said, “Uh-uh. I want to move to Alachula.” I told him that we wouldn’t get to see the Gita Nagari devotees very much if he did. “I like the Deities in Alachula!”

About an hour later he was asking for his friends to come over and play. All the boys here are older than him by at least three years. It was then that I called my husband and we both came to the same conclusion.

We’ll go and check it out.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Personal History Unwoven (but never unveiled)

I have no doubt that this month was meant to be a month of self-reflection for me. Not the most overtly Krishna conscious way to spend Kartik; reflecting on the Supreme Lord would have been the ideal sadhana. But a lot of emotional work has gone into–and come out of–the past month and I am grateful for every thought which, from where anyone stands outside my self, may have appeared like complete absorption in the mental. The excavation of the liminal has at times been painful. But the process of reclaiming my self from the ruin of memories has been like a true second birth.

Within the last few weeks I have come into contact with so many people from my youth, high school relations, big and small. Relationships carried over from high school into my young adulthood, be it in actaulity, hope and heart or simply emotional gashes.

In our youth, we revealed ourselves to one another in increments of shame. Before we knew ourselves or what consequence our lives would bear. As the cliche goes, when you are young you think you are immortal. But I don’t even know if we realized we were young. Or if we realized the longevity of consequence.

The laboratory of youth is the testing ground for personas and possibilities but also for pain. How much can we endure? How much can we inflict? Where does it hurt? It is only years later that we begin to understand the damage. To ourselves. To others. What wounds can heal. What wounds are chronic.

We hardly knew one another. Hardly knew ourselves. The tears and the screams and the embraces and the laughter ony distorted the truth. Life was too short to have known there would be more to it. Looking (feeling) back I can understand enough to forgive the crimes of youth and disfunction.

And the process has made me even more appreciative of the Krishna conscious philosophy, especially now that I’ve viewed how it has shaped my path by looking back and seeing how far I’ve come.

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized