Monthly Archives: January 2008

It’s Over

My “Interstitial Moment” is officially over. Today we took the kids to their first day of preschool and on the way home decided to take the house off the market. We are staying.

Yesterday Venumadhava broke down in tears. He just wanted friends. That was enough to make a mata’s heart break in two…*crack*…right down the middle. He even cried real tears. Luckily, this morning was their first day of school. Since we have to drive one hour to get to the Montessori of the Nittany Mountains, we all got up at 6 am. Venumadhava saw that it was still dark out and said “This is CraZy!!!”

Even though it was far, the kids were enthusiastic. Madhumati, who likes to sleep in, took a little nap in the car. We arrived at 8:30 and the kids met their new teachers, new animal friends, some kids and the new environment. All was going well until my husband and I were getting ready to leave (of course!). We went outside while the kids waited with Ms. Lynn on the other side of a huge plate glass window. Venumadhava started wailing. We waved, as per Ms. Lynn’s instructions. Madhumati’s face lit up and she waved back. In the car we went, off to Wegman’s (ahhhhhh).

We came back at ten to 11. By this time there were about 40 kids, all busy with their “work.” Venumadhava was busy putting together a puzzle on the floor. Madhumati, who said “You can call me Madhu,” was the tiniest girl in the school. She was sitting at a teeny table with the second tiniest girl in the school (formerly tiny #1), a sweet looking Indian girl with newly grown in hair and 22k gold post earrings. They had trays with clear glass bowls with marbles inside. They were very busy scooping. I mean “working.”

When Venumadhava saw us he gave us a dirty look and went back to his puzzle. Then he came over and excitedly showed us the picture he painted of a man burning in lava. In the words of my forefathers, “I kvelled.”

The kids were supposed to just go from 8:30 to 11 all week but since they did so well Ms. Lynn invited them to stay until 11:20 tomorrow, which is a natural break point in the day. She told us that Venumadhava, who is simply Madhava (we suggested Venu, but he thinks Madhava is cooler) at school, worked with other children for most of the day. She said that it was Madhu who led the way by not crying and being brave. Madhava followed suit. She then asked us about the serpant with many heads which Madhava was telling her about. Kaliya! Ms. Lynn said she knows some things about Krsna but never heard of Kaliya. She suggested we bring in a book tomorrow. Will do, Ms. Lynn.

If you would have asked me a year ago, I would have said “No thank you” to sending my kid to school. But now I see it is a much needed life change. The classrooms are orderly yet full of creative routes for exploration. The teachers all think it is cool that we are Hare Krishnas. While some people may see us as too close minded, the school sees us as adding a new flava aka diversity. And I definitely liked that one little girl came decked out in her silk kimono and Japanese accoutremonts.

We are comfortable with our kids there. We are comfortable with the people. One parent, from Milan, wore a very Italian sweat suit and huge red and black glasses. He was very Italian and very friendly. Sure, it is the kind of crowd that expects my husband to be a doctor when they hear he works at a hospital, but they’ll get over the fact that he’s a murse.

We love our house. We love the mountains. We love that I can legally make jam right out of my beautiful kitchen (yes, I did come home and hug my sink once we decided to stay). Basically, I feel like a large heart attack has been lifted off my medical record.

Now to find some classical Indian dance and music instructions for the kids. In State College.

Oh, and now that we are staying, I think I may have to start a new blog. Or at least reconvene the old one.

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It’s Over

My “Interstitial Moment” is officially over. Today we took the kids to their first day of preschool and on the way home decided to take the house off the market. We are staying.

Yesterday Venumadhava broke down in tears. He just wanted friends. That was enough to make a mata’s heart break in two…*crack*…right down the middle. He even cried real tears. Luckily, this morning was their first day of school. Since we have to drive one hour to get to the Montessori of the Nittany Mountains, we all got up at 6 am. Venumadhava saw that it was still dark out and said “This is CraZy!!!”

Even though it was far, the kids were enthusiastic. Madhumati, who likes to sleep in, took a little nap in the car. We arrived at 8:30 and the kids met their new teachers, new animal friends, some kids and the new environment. All was going well until my husband and I were getting ready to leave (of course!). We went outside while the kids waited with Ms. Lynn on the other side of a huge plate glass window. Venumadhava started wailing. We waved, as per Ms. Lynn’s instructions. Madhumati’s face lit up and she waved back. In the car we went, off to Wegman’s (ahhhhhh).

We came back at ten to 11. By this time there were about 40 kids, all busy with their “work.” Venumadhava was busy putting together a puzzle on the floor. Madhumati, who said “You can call me Madhu,” was the tiniest girl in the school. She was sitting at a teeny table with the second tiniest girl in the school (formerly tiny #1), a sweet looking Indian girl with newly grown in hair and 22k gold post earrings. They had trays with clear glass bowls with marbles inside. They were very busy scooping. I mean “working.”

When Venumadhava saw us he gave us a dirty look and went back to his puzzle. Then he came over and excitedly showed us the picture he painted of a man burning in lava. In the words of my forefathers, “I kvelled.”

The kids were supposed to just go from 8:30 to 11 all week but since they did so well Ms. Lynn invited them to stay until 11:20 tomorrow, which is a natural break point in the day. She told us that Venumadhava, who is simply Madhava (we suggested Venu, but he thinks Madhava is cooler) at school, worked with other children for most of the day. She said that it was Madhu who led the way by not crying and being brave. Madhava followed suit. She then asked us about the serpant with many heads which Madhava was telling her about. Kaliya! Ms. Lynn said she knows some things about Krsna but never heard of Kaliya. She suggested we bring in a book tomorrow. Will do, Ms. Lynn.

If you would have asked me a year ago, I would have said “No thank you” to sending my kid to school. But now I see it is a much needed life change. The classrooms are orderly yet full of creative routes for exploration. The teachers all think it is cool that we are Hare Krishnas. While some people may see us as too close minded, the school sees us as adding a new flava aka diversity. And I definitely liked that one little girl came decked out in her silk kimono and Japanese accoutremonts.

We are comfortable with our kids there. We are comfortable with the people. One parent, from Milan, wore a very Italian sweat suit and huge red and black glasses. He was very Italian and very friendly. Sure, it is the kind of crowd that expects my husband to be a doctor when they hear he works at a hospital, but they’ll get over the fact that he’s a murse.

We love our house. We love the mountains. We love that I can legally make jam right out of my beautiful kitchen (yes, I did come home and hug my sink once we decided to stay). Basically, I feel like a large heart attack has been lifted off my medical record.

Now to find some classical Indian dance and music instructions for the kids. In State College.

Oh, and now that we are staying, I think I may have to start a new blog. Or at least reconvene the old one.

5 Comments

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Yo.

I feel like I should rename my blog “Open Letter to Kadamba.” What can I say, she inspires me. I feel a sisterhood with her and her struggles. Mainly, I just wish had some cookies. No, really.

Today I spoke with Hari-Kirtana Prabhu about some troubles I have been having, which essentially boil down to my mind. Isn’t it always the case? He was helpful and encouraged me to engage in letter writing as a way to work out some stuff.

I thought that was a good idea but first, I thought, let me try something more amusing and far more strenuous. Let me write a rap.

Needless to say, I have very little training in rap. I did own a P.E. tape as well as Paul’s Boutique and that popular De la Soul cd. And I religiously tuned into Yo! MTV Raps every Wednesday after school. I can do a mean Ed Lover dance. But alas, I am not even cognizent of when “rap” turned into “hip hop.” Actually, I’m not even sure if it’s the same thing.

So anyway, here’s my rhymes.

Check out this rap
It’s full of crap.

Jay Ho y’all
I gotta rap y’all

Thoughts and feelings coming at me
They’re feeling monumental
Coming fast fast faster out my pen
Like a Swami flying Continental

I lived in a House of God
A life of pain
My bhakti is hurting
Now hear my refrain

REFRAIN
Joy, pain, sunshine, rain

I’m sampling other people’s samples
Learning by example
Knowledge coming down
Move out of the way before you get trampled

Mad Elephant sit down
Go to the back of the bus
Cause I got matters rolling
I got to discuss

I’m scratching my head
Fingering my beads
Denying myself
Some psycho/social needs

Now that I’m a parent
I see life in a whole new lite
Got my husband, got my kids
My art is my might

Check your head in 97 thru Y2K
Those days are gone but feelings stay
I should have called a time out
And gotten out of that game
Cause too much meeting cheating and bleating
Has left me frayed

I got amateur rhymes
And amateur troubles
Living my life in a Hare Krishna bubble

REFRAIN

The time of our lives
Begins at birth
Deaths the real test
Get your bhakti’s worth

REFRAIN

Okay. So I am not really considering a life as a hip-hop artist, although anyone opening a tea room who is interested in some live music, do hit me up. After I wrote my rhymes (I left out some verses which were full of content but, unfortunately, not full of rhyme) I followed Hari Kirtan Prabhu’s advice and wrote a letter. That I will not be posting here other than the following simile on the mind:

“… 2 biggies that stand out in my mind like the singular maple in our yard, which despite the advance in season is still clinging to its dead, dried leaves, even though they serve no nourishing purpose.”

The conclusion of my letter basically solved all my problems for now:

“This letter attests to some internal flaw of mine that I think all of this matters. That I think I matter.”

My self inflicted rap writing excercise was great for me. As might be evident, I have a tendency to take myself a little too seriously. Rapping was a good ice breaker. And the letter writing excercise at least let me get some heavy stuff off my heart and let me breath for the rest of the day.

***Update: Thank you to all of you who have spontaneously emailed me your raps and rhymes. Please feel free to post them in the comments section.

3 Comments

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Yo.

I feel like I should rename my blog “Open Letter to Kadamba.” What can I say, she inspires me. I feel a sisterhood with her and her struggles. Mainly, I just wish had some cookies. No, really.

Today I spoke with Hari-Kirtana Prabhu about some troubles I have been having, which essentially boil down to my mind. Isn’t it always the case? He was helpful and encouraged me to engage in letter writing as a way to work out some stuff.

I thought that was a good idea but first, I thought, let me try something more amusing and far more strenuous. Let me write a rap.

Needless to say, I have very little training in rap. I did own a P.E. tape as well as Paul’s Boutique and that popular De la Soul cd. And I religiously tuned into Yo! MTV Raps every Wednesday after school. I can do a mean Ed Lover dance. But alas, I am not even cognizent of when “rap” turned into “hip hop.” Actually, I’m not even sure if it’s the same thing.

So anyway, here’s my rhymes.

Check out this rap
It’s full of crap.

Jay Ho y’all
I gotta rap y’all

Thoughts and feelings coming at me
They’re feeling monumental
Coming fast fast faster out my pen
Like a Swami flying Continental

I lived in a House of God
A life of pain
My bhakti is hurting
Now hear my refrain

REFRAIN
Joy, pain, sunshine, rain

I’m sampling other people’s samples
Learning by example
Knowledge coming down
Move out of the way before you get trampled

Mad Elephant sit down
Go to the back of the bus
Cause I got matters rolling
I got to discuss

I’m scratching my head
Fingering my beads
Denying myself
Some psycho/social needs

Now that I’m a parent
I see life in a whole new lite
Got my husband, got my kids
My art is my might

Check your head in 97 thru Y2K
Those days are gone but feelings stay
I should have called a time out
And gotten out of that game
Cause too much meeting cheating and bleating
Has left me frayed

I got amateur rhymes
And amateur troubles
Living my life in a Hare Krishna bubble

REFRAIN

The time of our lives
Begins at birth
Deaths the real test
Get your bhakti’s worth

REFRAIN

Okay. So I am not really considering a life as a hip-hop artist, although anyone opening a tea room who is interested in some live music, do hit me up. After I wrote my rhymes (I left out some verses which were full of content but, unfortunately, not full of rhyme) I followed Hari Kirtan Prabhu’s advice and wrote a letter. That I will not be posting here other than the following simile on the mind:

“… 2 biggies that stand out in my mind like the singular maple in our yard, which despite the advance in season is still clinging to its dead, dried leaves, even though they serve no nourishing purpose.”

The conclusion of my letter basically solved all my problems for now:

“This letter attests to some internal flaw of mine that I think all of this matters. That I think I matter.”

My self inflicted rap writing excercise was great for me. As might be evident, I have a tendency to take myself a little too seriously. Rapping was a good ice breaker. And the letter writing excercise at least let me get some heavy stuff off my heart and let me breath for the rest of the day.

***Update: Thank you to all of you who have spontaneously emailed me your raps and rhymes. Please feel free to post them in the comments section.

3 Comments

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Krsna Grrrl?


Kadamba commented on my last posting that we should get together some kind of Krsna Grrrl nite. My initial response was a big fat “YES!” But then she half-heartedly propsed that it might be kind of a silly idea.

My early onset midlife crisis has a lot to do with the duality of lives I have lived, divided sharply along the lines of before and after joining Krishna consciousness. Before becoming an official card carrying Hare Krishna (hey, wait a minute…no one ever gave me a card!) I was a pretty far out there person. Not as far out as some, mind you. No odd piercings, no month long hunger strikes spent in jail as a protest to any cause and no documented nudity that would haunt me later in life (thankfully). But internally, in my heart of hearts, I was a wide open freak.

While freakishness isn’t in itself something to aspire for, I do cherish the lack of inhibition and freedom of expression I had in my old life. As a devotee, I often feel hedged in by expectations and norms. I think that is why I enjoy wearing a sari, bindi, sindhur and tilak so much. Although it seems like standard issue Hare Krishna dress, the reality is it is totally punk rock– even more so in the context of wearing it amongst devotees than non-devotees.

Huh?

Let’s face it, the sari is a Hare Krishna throwback to the 1970’s or 1980’s. Unless you are doing pujari service, there is very little reason to wear a sari. Gopi skirts, salwaars, even overalls and wide leg pants have all taken a fashion foothold in the Hare Krishna woman’s closet. Sure, I wear a sari becasue it reminds me of Krishna, but I also wear it because to me it seems subversive. Subversive to the post-hippie meta-yuppie new-and-improved got-an-education got-a-job devotee of the millenium.

Recently I was looking at a book my cousin sent me. She is head of the Jewish Studied department at Temple University and her courses are cross listed with the Religion and Women’s Studies department. During my days as a school girl, she was a great influence on me and continues to be my supporter, well-wisher, and probably the only person in my family who kind of gets me. Anyway, she sent me this book last Chanukah called The Modern Jewish Girl’s Guide to Guilt. There are some interesting essays in there, some just plain hysterical and some downright touching. And what I appreciated most about these women’s writings was the honesty.

Each essay approached “Jewish guilt” from a different angle and the book, as a collection, effectively portrays the variegatedness of “the Jewish experience.” Now, even though there are many former Jews in the Hare Krishna movement, I personally don’t see guilt as being a major psychological phenomena experienced across the chanting masses.

Respectability, on the other hand, is a biggie. While a devotee is not supposed to be hankering after respect, it seems to be a force which drives and guides the movement today. We hear all the time that we want to attract respectable people. We like it when outside people respect the efforts of the devotees. We ourselves have been instructed to act respectably, dress respectabley and speak respectably, all of which usually means give up any nuance of individuality and fit yourself like a pre-fab part into some pre-fab definition of respectable.

I have been receptive to this message. Now, I didn’t say I have been good at integrating it into my being, but I have tried. And for me it has been a struggle because I have so much going on inside me and I really need to get it out, one way or another. The least destructive method for doing this, I have found, is writing.

Not that I am a great writer. Or even a good writer. I know that I don’t have much “craft” in me. But what I feel supercedes craft is honesty. While the turn of a phrase is a major component of writing, it is only a vehicle of self-expression. Without honesty, there is only craft. With honesty, the reader can feel the touch of someone else’s words.

I am not so sure how complimentary honesty and respectability are within the scope of self expression and Krishna consciousness. Maybe that is why I have thrown out everything from my writing classes. Does the bare truth have a place in a devotional life? In a devotional community?

I hope so.

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Krsna Grrrl?


Kadamba commented on my last posting that we should get together some kind of Krsna Grrrl nite. My initial response was a big fat “YES!” But then she half-heartedly propsed that it might be kind of a silly idea.

My early onset midlife crisis has a lot to do with the duality of lives I have lived, divided sharply along the lines of before and after joining Krishna consciousness. Before becoming an official card carrying Hare Krishna (hey, wait a minute…no one ever gave me a card!) I was a pretty far out there person. Not as far out as some, mind you. No odd piercings, no month long hunger strikes spent in jail as a protest to any cause and no documented nudity that would haunt me later in life (thankfully). But internally, in my heart of hearts, I was a wide open freak.

While freakishness isn’t in itself something to aspire for, I do cherish the lack of inhibition and freedom of expression I had in my old life. As a devotee, I often feel hedged in by expectations and norms. I think that is why I enjoy wearing a sari, bindi, sindhur and tilak so much. Although it seems like standard issue Hare Krishna dress, the reality is it is totally punk rock– even more so in the context of wearing it amongst devotees than non-devotees.

Huh?

Let’s face it, the sari is a Hare Krishna throwback to the 1970’s or 1980’s. Unless you are doing pujari service, there is very little reason to wear a sari. Gopi skirts, salwaars, even overalls and wide leg pants have all taken a fashion foothold in the Hare Krishna woman’s closet. Sure, I wear a sari becasue it reminds me of Krishna, but I also wear it because to me it seems subversive. Subversive to the post-hippie meta-yuppie new-and-improved got-an-education got-a-job devotee of the millenium.

Recently I was looking at a book my cousin sent me. She is head of the Jewish Studied department at Temple University and her courses are cross listed with the Religion and Women’s Studies department. During my days as a school girl, she was a great influence on me and continues to be my supporter, well-wisher, and probably the only person in my family who kind of gets me. Anyway, she sent me this book last Chanukah called The Modern Jewish Girl’s Guide to Guilt. There are some interesting essays in there, some just plain hysterical and some downright touching. And what I appreciated most about these women’s writings was the honesty.

Each essay approached “Jewish guilt” from a different angle and the book, as a collection, effectively portrays the variegatedness of “the Jewish experience.” Now, even though there are many former Jews in the Hare Krishna movement, I personally don’t see guilt as being a major psychological phenomena experienced across the chanting masses.

Respectability, on the other hand, is a biggie. While a devotee is not supposed to be hankering after respect, it seems to be a force which drives and guides the movement today. We hear all the time that we want to attract respectable people. We like it when outside people respect the efforts of the devotees. We ourselves have been instructed to act respectably, dress respectabley and speak respectably, all of which usually means give up any nuance of individuality and fit yourself like a pre-fab part into some pre-fab definition of respectable.

I have been receptive to this message. Now, I didn’t say I have been good at integrating it into my being, but I have tried. And for me it has been a struggle because I have so much going on inside me and I really need to get it out, one way or another. The least destructive method for doing this, I have found, is writing.

Not that I am a great writer. Or even a good writer. I know that I don’t have much “craft” in me. But what I feel supercedes craft is honesty. While the turn of a phrase is a major component of writing, it is only a vehicle of self-expression. Without honesty, there is only craft. With honesty, the reader can feel the touch of someone else’s words.

I am not so sure how complimentary honesty and respectability are within the scope of self expression and Krishna consciousness. Maybe that is why I have thrown out everything from my writing classes. Does the bare truth have a place in a devotional life? In a devotional community?

I hope so.

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Once in a Lifetime

So as a remedy to my early onset midlife crisis, I vowed to pursue my goals and ambitions in life. While this will not produce the most Krishna conscious result to my days, I really don’t want to be on my death bed lamenting what could have or should have been.

At the start of the New Year I made a mental list of what I wanted to achieve. Thankfully, it was a short list. Or maybe it was longer but I’ve already forgotten a good part of it. No matter. The point is, I am in the process of working on it.

And guess what? A blog is not on the list! So, blog will take a back seat to other more fruitful endeavors. I am not abandoning the blog, just deprioritizing it as my writing outlet.

Although as I am typing this I am hearing my son downstairs asking my mom “Do you know about Krishna?” and “Do you eat meat?” It is all so tempting, but I must use my time more wisely…like, for sleep.

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