Thursday, November 24, 2011

Noooo, not Big Bird!

Haha... Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

I'm in the midst of preparing our family's grand Thanksgivng feast. Pictures of the delicious spread to be posted later.

Friday, November 18, 2011

In memory...

In memory of my grandmother, Jayalaxmi Karsandas Thakkar who passed away Monday(11/14/11) morning at 9:15am PST. While by English language she is my grandmother, I called her my Nani my entire life, literally meaning "my mother's mother".
You were amazing. I miss you and I will always love you. I am proud to have been yours.

This photo was taken during my last visit to India during March/April 2010, when cancer had already begun taking a significant toll on her. We had just received news that she was suffering from Stage 3B ovarian cancer. Doctors operated on her left ovary and had removed a tumor that was the size of a papaya. Yep. A friggin' PAPAYA. In case you're not familiar with the size of papayas, here is a reference:
I wish I was kidding. She complained for years that she was experiencing issues with serious frequent urination, stomach pressure and bloating. Every time she visited the doctor for literally two years, she would be sent off without a single urine culture, ultrasound or having any other relevant diagnostic method used on her. The doctor would write her a prescription for an even stronger dose of antibiotic and would send her on her way. Of course this did nothing to alleviate her symptoms, until finally, after TWO years of complaining, doctors performed an ultrasound and they found out the very obvious reason for my grandmother's supposed two-year urinary tract infection. 
That's Indian medicine for you.

I would say that I have been close with my Nani ever since I was a child. My mother's parents both visited us in California, them living in Bombay, India their whole lives, when I was three years old. My Nani and I were two peas in a pod from that time on. During that visit, I remember we would snuggle on the couch, watch TV and she would give my chubby little legs massages. Although I was quite young, I actually remember that time, and I remember feeling an extreme sense of elation not common to most young children. Nani reminded me for many years after this that I would often march up to my mother during this visit and declare "Nani and I are friends!". And indeed we were. As I grew older, her and I would exchange many postal mail letters, as e-mail was not yet common at that time, and I would enjoy many visits to India where I would be greeted with one of her famous breathtaking, gripping bear hugs the second I walked through the door of her home. During these visits we would make fun of my mother endlessly (yet lovingly), and stay up late into the night as she told me stories of years past and how grand life was when my grandfather, her husband, was still healthy. My grasp on our family's dialect was weak at that time, so communication was quite difficult, but that seemed to matter not and we improvised when necessary.

Ever since I was a child, everybody would watch me walk and they would exclaim "you walk just like your Nani!", nobody seemed to look into why or how something as individual as a manner of walking could be passed down two generations. As I entered my late teens, I had several sports coached insist that I look into having my legs measured as it seemed that my right leg was longer than my left. I visited the doctor, and indeed this was true. It turns out that my grandmother and I were the only ones in the family that had one leg longer than the other. Early into college, I finally finished growing (a bit late considering I'm a female), and I realized that my Nani and I had yet another thing in common: I am 5'6" and she was 5'7". While this may not seem particularly remarkable, if you know that my mom is adorably stout in size at 5', and my father is 5'5", you will understand why I was excited to have yet another thing in common with my Nani. I loved that about her and me, we were both the taller, gimpy oddballs of the family.

During my last visit to India, for the first time she was too weak to greet me with one of her famous bear hugs. I remember feeling emotional when I realized this, as it was a clear indication of her digressing condition. But, never to allow an opportunity to show affection escape, she promptly grabbed my face when she saw me, shook my head around and gave me many wet, slobbery kisses. When we parted ways as I left to come back to the United States at the end of that visit, she held me tightly, gave me many kisses and asked me when she would be seeing me next. I immediately ran out of the house and turned away, as I was struggling to face the reality that I would never be seeing her again.

I cried many tears while saying goodbye to her then, and I am crying many tears now. My heart breaks knowing that never again will I be the recipient of her marvelous slobbery kisses. I miss you Nani.

Monday, November 14, 2011

To my childhood best friend...Happy Birthday!

Okay, no, I did not post this just to put up embarrassing pictures. I do want to say, however: HAPPY 25th BIRTHDAY! I know we barely even talk a few times a year at this point, but I still adore you and miss you quite a bit. Let me know how 25 feels, my time is coming in a month!

I hope your day was a beautiful one.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Beautiful People

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
― Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

I believe this with all my heart. The next time you find yourself in a situation that you feel is reminiscent of the bane of humanity, remind yourself that the way this situation is shaping you is ultimately for the best. We learn from not only the good in our lives, but also the bad.

I am going through a very difficult time right now, perhaps reminding myself of this will help me get through it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Thursday, November 3, 2011

I'm alive.

You may (or may not) have noticed that it has been a bit over a month since my last post. A few days after I made my last post I was in a horrific car accident. My description of these events may not be well written or very coherent, but I am just going to write as I remember.Allow me to post a few pictures before I explain more:

As you can see, the car was a total loss, or as we say "totaled" in the accident. I would normally black out the license plate number of the car, but it is no longer under the legal possession of me or anyone in my family...

Back to the story...this car accident was the closest I've been to losing my life thus far. I was on a major freeway down here in Southern California on a Friday morning--where two freeways merge and there is one exit, actually.A big rig to my right was changing lanes and was about to hit me, and out of fright I swerved to miss him (after checking to make sure the lane to the left of me was open first), but apparently I swerved so much that I lost control of my vehicle. My car jerked uncontrollably from the left to the right and then I began to spin across all seven lanes of the freeway.

At one point, my vehicle was completely perpendicular to the direction of traffic and I saw a big rig and a few cars approaching me as I watched from my position in the driver's seat. A strong sentiment washed over me: this was it, I felt. My time on this earth was over, and that I would surely die. Within an instant, I saw the faces of everybody that was most important to me, from the past and present, and I felt a deep sadness when I thought I would never see these individuals again. I immediately realized that I would miss my mother the most, and I knew she would miss me the most.  I looked down at my cellphone to see if I could manage to call her before I was hit by the cars approaching me, and then before I knew it my car spun out of the way and slammed into the side concrete barrier wall. I knew the airbags would deploy and looked down immediately after the impact to see it happen, first the driver's airbag, then the passenger's airbag. I was annoyed that they didn't inflate. It is truly bizarre how lucid my thoughts were in such a traumatic situation that happened so quickly.

And then...I looked up and realized what had just happened and my conscious being reconnected with my physical being. A sense of shock and fright washed over me.

Two good samaritans, one driving a pickup truck and one driving a large vehicle transport carrier, pulled over to pull me out of my car. I sobbed uncontrollably as I attempted to speak to the 911 operator, and these incredibly kind-hearted individuals began to take care of me. They sat me down, checked my wounds and bumps, gave me ice packs, and tried to keep me calm. They both waited with me, until California Highway Patrol showed up, so I wouldn't be alone. I didn't catch the name of one of the gentlemen, but the gentleman driving the vehicle transport carrier was Todd Brown. Thank you, Todd Brown. I will never be able to properly express my gratitude to you for the kindness you showed that day. Good people still do exist. Never give up on the implicit spirit of humanity.

As for me, I had a hematoma (under the skin, but not the skull) on the left side of my head, lots of bruises and a sprained wrist. Considering the events of the accident, and the fact that it occurred during peak traffic time, it is astonishing that the damage to my vehicle wasn't worse. But most of all, I am very lucky to be alive.

If you see me in the near future, or have seen me in the last month, and I look extra emotional and happy to see you, now you know why.