The last time my mother-in-law (Amma) visited, I gave her a bottle of melatonin pills to take back to India with her. The pills helped her recover from her jet lag, and, now that she has settled back into her daily rhythm, help her deal with her chronic insomnia. For the first time in years, Amma can sleep through the night.
Always a selfless woman, Amma has decided to share her melatonin supply with the other women in her apartment complex. Now, late at night, Amma will sometimes hear a soft knock. When she opens the door, she finds one of the neighborhood ladies standing there, asking for one of Amma’s “magic pills”. She then hands out a couple pills, wrapped up in a twist of wax paper, saying “Here. This will help you sleep better.”
My husband and I are under strict orders to bring a large supply of melatonin with us the next time we go to India. After all, there are a lot of sleepless women in India depending on Amma’s magic pills.
Friday, December 21, 2012
Thursday, June 14, 2012
I was raised to believe that drinking coffee was a sin. No one in my family touched the black liquid; to bring coffee into my home would have been sufficient to spark a small war. Having never been exposed to coffee, the very smell was enough to make me feel queasy. Even after leaving the church, I stayed away from drinking coffee. Sometimes, when I was cramming for exams and needed the caffeine, I would drink large cups of badly brewed coffee, which was sufficient to convince me that coffee wasn’t anything to get excited about. If I needed the caffeine, I stuck with my standard Diet Coke.
And then I met a boy. I was at a party when I struck up a conversation with a grad student in engineering. He was funny and smart and we talked for hours as the party slowly died down around us. He gave me his number and I resolved to call him again. Which I did. I called him, we talked, and we decided to meet for a coffee. He picked me up after work and took me to his favorite coffee-shop.
This was not just any coffee shop. This was a special coffee shop, with some of the highest standards in the industry. The beans are ethically sourced and roasted locally by a master with years of experience. The coffee is then prepared by baristas that have gone through months of rigorous training in order to pull a single shot. The result is an espresso that is rich and earthy, with a beautiful caramel crema.
We talked for hours as I savored my coffee. My horizons opened up, both by this new realization of the art of coffee as well as my conversation with a man who was raised by a single mother in India. He told me about the trials of growing up in a highly orthodox Brahmin family while I told him about the trials of growing up in a highly conservative Mormon family. We discovered a commonality in our experience that transcended cultural barriers. Here was another person who had challenged his up-bringing and in so doing, had become more open-minded, more tolerant, more aware of humanity in all its glorious diversity. I sensed I was on the verge of something spectacular.
Six years later and I find myself married to the same man that introduced me to good coffee. There have been challenges of the sort that are inherent when two stubborn, strong-willed people from two very different cultures choose to get married. But in-between these struggles have been a lot of good times. We have shared a lot of laughter and had a lot of conversations that have challenged my view of the world around me. I have a partner that makes me laugh, that reminds me to stop taking life so seriously, whose smile lights up the room. More than that, I have a partner who understands the trials of walking a different path in life.