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April 18, 2014

Two Temples

We visited two major temples near Bangalore — a Hindu temple near the Nandi Hills that dates back to the 9th century and Shravanabelagola, a 10th century Jainist temple dominated by what’s said to be the world’s largest monolith (sculpture made from a single piece of stone).

What struck me about the temple at Nandi Hills was the tranquility — we were truly among worshipers (we were lucky to be there on an otherwise quiet Monday) who seemed to have decked themselves in their brightest and most exuberant saris for the occasion. I could stare at them all day long.

Another thing that struck me is that this is very much M.’s heritage as a Brahmin with a bloodline that can be traced back some 2,000 years (and then he marries little ol’ European peasant mutt ME and we ruin the whole damn thing ;).

Hinduism is similar to Judaism in that you simply are Hindu, whether you practice or not (M. won’t even call it a religion). It was surprising to see him walk up to an idol, touch his forehead to the floor, walk backwards to retreat — but it shouldn’t have been. It’s no different than spraying 10 drops of wine at the home of his Jewish "familia putativa" every Passover.

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Everything is an undertaking in India and the trip to Shravanabelagola — which should have taken 2 hours but took twice that due to engine trouble — was certainly no different. (Could we really say we’ve been to India if we hadn’t been stranded by the side of the road at least once?)

The journey is the destination. The journey is the destination. I repeated to myself as we waited to find out if we’d ever get back on the road, and then, in socks or bare feet, as we climbed the 647 steps that lead to the statue. Perhaps because it was a Saturday there were far more (Indian) tourists, as well as worshipers — teens posing for pictures bowing their heads around a statue and then asking, again and again, to pose with us (not to brag but we’re kind of a big deal in India). Which I suppose is a reminder that we’re all the same everywhere. Or at least teens are.

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April 16, 2014

On the road in India. 

At first I was too overwhelmed by the emotional intensity of the experience, the sensory memories still hot on my tongue, and the rather epic jet lag to even look at my India photos.

And then I was too overwhelmed by the thought of distilling those two weeks into (god help us all) blog posts that the mere thought of trying to write about it left me exhausted. So once again, I went to bed at 8.

And then I realized there is nothing to do but present it, as best I can, knowing I will never be able to explain what really happened there: 21 friends and family gathered in a country most of us hardly knew to celebrate, explore, and, at the risk of sounding all Eat, Pray, Love, learn a little something about ourselves.

And in the middle of that, something deep and permanent happened between M. and me. We became a family.

So yeah.

It was intense.

It was gorgeous.

It was infuriating.

It was India.

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January 28, 2014

A time for peace (I swear it’s not too late).

When she was 15, my aunt Mary drowned at a Sweet 16 party. Her sisters and brothers sang this song at her funeral. I’m imagining them now, as I have always imagined them, every time I heard this song: the cast, so new to their roles. The cast, so terribly young.

My dad said today that whenever he hears this song it gives him chills.

Me too.

I wasn’t there but — me too.

(Source: roselerner)

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January 26, 2014

My (adopted) mom’s grandfather was from Baroda, India. As a young man he traveled to Berkeley, met and married an American pianist of Swedish descent, and moved to Long Island, where he had three daughters, Sulochana, Mira, and Kamala.

In 1972, Shelley traveled to India to meet her family, study for a few months, and generally look gorgeous in to-die-for saris.

This March will be the first time she’s been back since then. Safe to say we’re all counting down the days….

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December 20, 2013

ruhnay:

My dad’s retirement party - 30 years as a nurse in the emergency room and the pediatric ward! (at University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center)

Incredible! Congrats, Uncle Leo.
(Now I hate to see what Mr. Fix-It is going to do with all that free time…. ;)

ruhnay:

My dad’s retirement party - 30 years as a nurse in the emergency room and the pediatric ward! (at University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center)

Incredible! Congrats, Uncle Leo.

(Now I hate to see what Mr. Fix-It is going to do with all that free time…. ;)

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December 6, 2013

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Oh man oh man, London was fun.

Thanks to my parents, we stayed in a great little flat on Soho Square — that adorable cottage we’re posing in front of greeted us when we looked out the window every morning. We did just enough touristy things to say we did and spent many happy hours just walking around, taking it all in.

But most importantly, we ate well…

a fresh, fish-focused dinner at Rasa, which features the cuisine of Kerala (the seaside region of southern India where we’ll all be visiting in March, after M.’s 40th birthday extravaganza in Bangalore!)…

Thanksgiving supper at Oscar’s private club, The George (as you do)…

all the grouse, ox liver, marrow, hare, and sprats (sprats!) we could eat at Fergus Henderson’s legendary-for-a-reason St. John (plus lemon sorbet and vodka shots for dessert ‘cause yolo)…

really-effing good tapas at Barrafina and Donostia (with M.’s really effing awesome cousin Tulsi, who blogs!)…

…and lots of stinky English cheese and tasty meat pies at home.

And we drank well, too (duh)…

sister-time Jensen Gin martinis at Claridge’s gorgeous Art Deco bar (word to your mother, M. imports the gin to the states)…

totally modern, totally thrilling cocktails at 69 Colbrooke Row (I asked M., “If we go to one cocktail bar in London which should it be?” This was his answer, and as usual, he was right)…

and three (four, five?) too many mezcals at La Bodega Negra, super-hoppin underground bar (hint: that’s not a sex shop)….

And then of course M.’s wardrobe got a refresh at Oscar’s store, which I have been dying to visit for years, and it didn’t disappoint. I mean, Vivienne Westwood is next door. So chic. So cool.

It all went way too fast, but ain’t that the way?

'Til next time, Londontown.

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December 6, 2013

Nobody needs my thoughts on Mandela’s passing but the political is personal and in this case, very much so.
I remember my dad sitting me in front of the TV to watch the news coverage of a smiling old African man being freed from prison amid a throng of a million more smiling people.
I didn’t connect him to the summer two years before, when I was seven and my dad went to Africa.
I didn’t connect him to Mavis Beacon, the fictional character who taught me typing.
I didn’t quite cotton to the fact that Mandela was a leader of the ANC, though I did know daddy was working for the ANC when he was in Africa (for some reason, for years and years, I thought he went to Zimbabwe, not South Africa Zambia. I think I just liked the word. EDIT: Shelley just reminded me it was Zambia, because they were in exile from South Africa. My legendary memory strikes again).
What I knew was that the men that daddy taught computer skills in Africa (somewhere in Africa) for the ANC liked Mavis Beacon because she was beautiful and black. I kind of hated her because I was terrible at typing and my windshield was immediately covered with bug-splats (please tell me you know what I’m talking about), but that really wasn’t Mavis Beacon’s fault.
And moreover, I just typed this in less than three minutes, probably 15 errors total (I’m fast with the backspace), and my colleagues constantly comment on how fast my little fingers fly over the keys. So thanks, Miss Mavis.
And moreover, I can listen to the coverage of his death and think about what it meant that my dad devoted a couple months of his life to the organization that was keeping Mandela’s flame alive all those terrible years.
Let us not forget. America considered the ANC a terrorist organization at the time. America — Saint Ronald in particular — was on the wrong side of history.
But thank god, most Americans weren’t. Thanks god, the arc of justice is as strong as it is. Thank god for people like those men, those women, my daddy, and, of course, Mandela.

Nobody needs my thoughts on Mandela’s passing but the political is personal and in this case, very much so.

I remember my dad sitting me in front of the TV to watch the news coverage of a smiling old African man being freed from prison amid a throng of a million more smiling people.

I didn’t connect him to the summer two years before, when I was seven and my dad went to Africa.

I didn’t connect him to Mavis Beacon, the fictional character who taught me typing.

I didn’t quite cotton to the fact that Mandela was a leader of the ANC, though I did know daddy was working for the ANC when he was in Africa (for some reason, for years and years, I thought he went to Zimbabwe, not South Africa Zambia. I think I just liked the word. EDIT: Shelley just reminded me it was Zambia, because they were in exile from South Africa. My legendary memory strikes again).

What I knew was that the men that daddy taught computer skills in Africa (somewhere in Africa) for the ANC liked Mavis Beacon because she was beautiful and black. I kind of hated her because I was terrible at typing and my windshield was immediately covered with bug-splats (please tell me you know what I’m talking about), but that really wasn’t Mavis Beacon’s fault.

And moreover, I just typed this in less than three minutes, probably 15 errors total (I’m fast with the backspace), and my colleagues constantly comment on how fast my little fingers fly over the keys. So thanks, Miss Mavis.

And moreover, I can listen to the coverage of his death and think about what it meant that my dad devoted a couple months of his life to the organization that was keeping Mandela’s flame alive all those terrible years.

Let us not forget. America considered the ANC a terrorist organization at the time. America — Saint Ronald in particular — was on the wrong side of history.

But thank god, most Americans weren’t. Thanks god, the arc of justice is as strong as it is. Thank god for people like those men, those women, my daddy, and, of course, Mandela.

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November 7, 2013

It’s part of my parenting philosophy that children should get the opportunity to reinvent themselves at a few points in their childhood to see where their strengths and weaknesses lie and to experience living in different cultures… It’s an experiment. We’ll see.

Gwyneth Paltrow

It’s a great philosophy. I grew up that way and I’m the better for it, though of course it wasn’t my dad deciding with all the privilege of a Hollywood star, ‘I think I’ll move to California for a couple years….’

Nope, it was just good old fashioned true love.

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October 18, 2013

diegogetsakidney:

Atlanta-bound Monday.  Yes, we are excited!

Holy smokes!! This is so cool. Have a blast!

diegogetsakidney:

Atlanta-bound Monday.  Yes, we are excited!

Holy smokes!! This is so cool. Have a blast!

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October 1, 2013

Photo by my cousin Wilson. 
Puppies on da beach = da best.
Puppies beautifully captured on da beach by the cousin that I held when he was mere hours old = da actual best.

Photo by my cousin Wilson

Puppies on da beach = da best.

Puppies beautifully captured on da beach by the cousin that I held when he was mere hours old = da actual best.

(Source: spectrumned)

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