Friday, October 23, 2015

Autumn Journey - Part One

The journey really started the last two weeks of August, when we went to India to visit our relatives for two weeks. We stayed with our 88-year-old widowed sister-in-law, Soundara, in the section of Chennai called Virukambakkam, where we usually stay. It was a long overdue visit. My husband and I visited in 2012, and then he went again in 2013, a year after her husband's death.

I have always admired Soundara. She is truly a sister. She is tinier than I am, and while we were there insisted on cooking great meals. She cannot not be busy, and she is interested in so many things. You can see the sweetness of her personality in this picture.

Our grandnephew, Murari, picked us up at the airport, at 4:30 a.m., and we stepped outside into an amazing heat. In seconds I was glistening with moisture from the humidity. I didn't take as many pictures on this trip as I meant to, and this one, at the left, was taken when we visited Murari's  parents' home a few days later. It took us about an hour to get to the house. After we showered and unpacked, she had coffee waiting for us. There is nothing like good, strong, Indian coffee.
Vasu & his pretty wife, Srimithi.
Notice her beautiful smile.
Later, Vasu (My husband's sister's                     eldest son) and his wife, Srimathi, visited
the house (at right), and still later, Murari's father, Ravi, stopped by, as well.
Distances are very far in Chennai, and the traffic is unbelievably thick. Each time we've gone back, it seems the traffic has doubled from the time before, so it is always a breath-taking ride, and a long one, to get from one place to another.

We visited Rajan's doctor brother (Parthasarathy) and his wife, Vasantha, who live with their son and their son's family. Even though he is retired, he keeps up with current medicine, and we often turn to him for his medical opinion. On the trip this particular day, I was so enamored of the garden in his son's home, that I failed to take a lot of family pictures! Here are three family photos I remembered to take this time:
Hari, Parthasarathy's  &
Vasantha's son.

Sudha, Parthasarathy's &
Vasantha's daughter, visiting us
at her brother's home.

Anusha, Sudha's youngest daughter.
Her older daughter lives in the US.

But here are three from the 2012 visit, showing the whole family:
Parthasarathy, 2012.

Me, Soundara, & Vasantha, 2012

Hari & his wife, Vidhya, their sons
Aditya and Anirud, 2012.
Also, some pictures of the flower garden on this trip, that will show you how beautiful it is. there is a long passage way of flowers outside the ground floor, and then a roof garden with many potted flowers and plants.

This house is near the ocean and gets a nice breeze, so it is a nice oasis of coolness and beauty, so refreshing in the humid heat of Chennai.

On another day, we visited Rajan's brother, Narayanan, in two of his son's homes.

The first was in the home of Ravi and his wife, Nirmala. They are the parents of Murari, who picked us up at the airport. (Murari will be getting married this coming Monday, and we are so sorry that we are going to miss the wedding. We'll be disembarking from our plane home at about the time the wedding is beginning.)
Nirmala, our beautiful niece.

Ravi, her husband.

Murari and his grandfather,

After that, we visited the home of one of Narayanan's other grandsons, Arjun and his wife Smrithi, along with Arjun's parents, Vasanth and Nalini. I really messed up, here! I got so engrossed in the conversations, that I forgot to take pictures. Luckily, Smrithi and Arjun and Nalini came to visit when we were at another grandnephew's home, so I did get a least a picture of them when we went for an overnight at the home of Madhu and Malathi. Madhu is the youngest son of Rajan's sister, and there are pictures of her, as well. This year she had her 80th birthday, but somehow she has kept youthful and full of energy.
Smrithi, Arjun's wife.

Arjun, Vasanth & Nalini's eldest son
Madhu in foreground; Arjun in
Malathi, Madhu's wife in the middle;
Nalini, Vasanth's wife in foreground.

Pattu, Rajan's sister in foreground;
her son, Madhu at far left, his wife,
Malathi and far right; their son,
Rohid, next to her.

Maithreyi, their beautiful daughter.
The day before we left, she gave birth
to a little girl. 
Eyeshwar, Maithreyi's husband, and
proud papa. 
Our last family visit was to Bangalore, where we visited to homes. We stayed two nights with our nephew, Ashok, his wife Gayathri, and their two sons, Rohan and Tarun, and Ashok's mother (Rajan's sister-in-law) Malathi. From there, we visited another grandniece, Priya, and her husband, Balajit. Once again, I was so involved in the visits that I didn't take as many pictures as I meant to take. Priya is the sister of the pretty woman in turquoise above, Sudha. It was a great pleasure to see her and her husband, and I was really vexed with myself for not remembering to use the camera I was carrying around everywhere. At Ashok's home, too, we mostly visited, and then on the last day I remembered pictures. I did get some pictures that included Malathi and Tarun. Tarun had just gone to temple for his thread ceremony, a ceremony for Brahmins similar to a bar mitzvah for Jewish boys, in that he was crossing over into adulthood with spiritual responsibilities.

Malathi, our sister-in-law on
left, Tarun on right. You can
see how happy he was. 
My husband, Rajan on left
with Tarun. This kid has so
much personality!
We took the night train to return from Bangalore to Chennai, and then there were just two days left before we departed for Spain. Earlier Rajan developed a really serious reaction to the anti-malarial medicine we took for the trip, so he had to discontinue it after 10 days. Then we had to wait (in Spain) 21 days from the last unprotected mosquito bite in India, which was a bit stressful--all the more so as his doctor brother says he is allergic to all malarial medicine -- including the one that's used to treat the illness. I was quite worried, as there were malarial cases in both Chennai and Bangalore, and he'd been bit by mosquitoes in both places. But all was well that ended well. He made it through the incubation period, and no illness.

I mentioned that Maithreyi gave birth to a little girl the day before we left. Her father, Madhu, kindly sent us pictures of the naming ceremony. Here are two:
Such a little doll!

Such happy parents. 
The last two days we rested and spent time with Soundara and packed.  Several relatives came to visit, and we also walked over to visit some in-laws through my Pittsburgh brother-in-law's wife, Kalyani. Raghavan and Kalyani are the parents of the nephew who got married last June. Her brother, Raju,  and his wife, Renukkah, live three short streets away from Soundara. Renukkah is an artist, and her work is really dazzling.
Raju & Renukkah
Renukkah's mother
Art. The flash doesn't do
the picture justice.

Another sample.

Each of these are different
styles, and she achieves
a great deal of mastery
in each one. 
And then the time drew to a close. But seeing everyone again is something I will treasure through the years, all the more so because, due to my husband's reaction to malarial protection, we don't want to risk his health in the future. At times like these, you appreciate the Internet and all the avenues of keeping in touch with family. We are thinking of them with love and prayers and are thankful that we got this visit in.

Next week I'll be moving on to the time spent in Galicia. Until then, I'll be visiting your blogs and catching up on your news.


PlanetKimberly said...

You are so fortunate to be able to travel and visit interesting places like this. It sounds like you had a great trip except for the malaria scare. And here we were complaining about the one mosquito lurking in our house for a week.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad your husband was okay and I'm sorry to hear he has to avoid risking malaria in the future. That must be hard on him knowing it will be a while before he sees his family again. Speaking of that, what a wonderful visit. Love the pictures and hearing about where you went. Bless that baby! Such a sweet little thing.

Rosi said...

It looks like a fabulous visit with Rajan's lovely family. I know about getting too caught up in things to remember to take pictures. I'm very bad about remembering the pictures. Glad you are heading home soon.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Thanks for sharing all the wonderful pictures, it was nice to see your family. Tell Rajan that he looks good in a lungi :)

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

How wonderful to visit with family. Those are precious moments to remember for always. Great photographs of a lovely family.

Natalie Aguirre said...

So glad you had such a great trip and got to see so much family. I have a sweet spot in my heart for India--I met my husband there.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Kimberly, yes, the malaria med was the spoiler; well, that and the intense heat this time. But we were so glad to see all the relatives again. This is a wonderful family.

Catherine, I was sorry I didn't get to see the baby before we left. Yes, isn't she sweet? Her parents and grandparents are, too. That baby is going to be such a treasure to them all.

Rosi, I'm glad you got a sampling in the photos I did remember to take. I could kick myself for not taking more. Meanwhile, looking forward to seeing you very soon!

Rachna, I'll definitely pass that news on to Rajan, :-) Although his family calls it a doti, but it's the same thing.

Beverly, thank you for the kind comments about the family. You are right. These are moments to treasure, and I'm glad that we have the gift of photography to capture them. How sad it must have been for families separated by distance before camera's were invented or got affordable.

Natalie, what amazing news! You met your husband in India? Where in India? I'd love to know more about that story.

Tanya Reimer said...

Lovely meeting everyone! And the pics you did take are very good. I am so bad for remembering to take pictures.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Tanya, thanks for stopping by. Glad you liked the photos. Have a great day.

Kate Larkindale said...

Sounds like a wonderful visit and how nice to see so much family.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Kate, yes, that was the bonus: good visits with family.

Sandra Cox said...

What a wonderful visit. And that little baby is darling.

Crystal Collier said...

I love the pictures! What a wonderful adventure. My husband and I would like to move to India for a bit after the kids are out of the house--to really experience the culture and land.

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Hi, Sandra, yes she is so adorable. And so tiny!

Chrystal, do you and your husband have a particular part of India in mind? There's quite a range of cultures within the overall culture, and the south is quite distinct from the north. The north is probably what you see most in movies. Taj Mahal, etc.

Rebecca Emin said...

What a lovely post, and you have such a beautiful extended family, the photos are gorgeous and so many huge smiles! I really enjoyed reading this.

Carol Riggs said...

Wow, India! You sure get around, visiting different parts of the world. Oh dear, sorry to hear Rajan was/is allergic to the malarial medicine! I'm glad all turned out well. I enjoyed the photos!

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Rebecca, thanks for the visit. Yes, this is a wonderful extended family, and they are all very dear to me.

Carol, yes, that was the sad part. I'm so sorry Rajan is allergic to the medicine he would have to take if he were to contract Malaria. Malawi is nothing to take lightly, and the mosquitos are very active in that part of India. The bad mosquitos. The good part was seeing everyone again. They are really wonderful people.

Mark said...

Sounds like a fun and enlightening journey:)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

That sums it up well, Mark. Thanks for stopping by.