Parent of the Month (May 2015): MRS. PUJA RAMCHANDANI
Today on May 13th, I am fortunate to celebrate the most memorable birthday of a Parent who has faced numerous challenges in life with the best of courage and smiles. Even though she lost her mom at a crucial age of 17 years, she turned that difficult phase of life into a powerful journey. She has taught many of us to LOVE unconditionally, and to pass through the fogs with might. She epitomizes the word ‘Mother’ esp. for me as I call her ‘Mom’. Welcome our Parent for May 2015 – MRS. PUJA RAMCHANDANI.
Dedicated to You Mom, from all of us!
As a child, she was reserved, shy, and could not speak openly with her parents. After losing her mom, her elder sisters were there with her only for a few years. (In India, girls got married very early in those times). Her dad was strict and disciplinary. She learnt important values from him but it also created fear within her. Losing a mom at teenage feels like losing one’s spine. Not having guidance, and support, she turned out to be an innocent person. When she got married, she was scared to travel by the local trains. She would want to visit her sisters who lived in town, far from her home. Her husband helped her a few times but eventually she gathered the courage to go by herself.
She steered through the challenges of her newly married life and built great relations with everyone within the immediate and extended family. After finishing house work, in the afternoon, she would find time to experiment with new recipes and soon her recipes were the ‘talk of the town’. She was always identified as a person who took great care of everyone in the family, her in laws, her children, and many others.
Mrs. Ramchandani’s life called for sudden and heavy adjustments. Often the dynamics altered between joint and nuclear family. Both of the family systems have their grave challenges and imagine having to make arrangements in the home according to how the family structure changes. Over and again, she took care of extended family members who lived with her for several months and being a mother, I can understand how that impacts one’s daily family life. The beauty is that she embraced each situation and ‘change’ with grace! Each time it was a different type of adjustment required and she stayed up to it powerfully.
Personally speaking, I have seen the small house they lived in. Having two young children, the way in which she adjusted in that short space and yet made it into a beautiful home is admirable! Even though she had a lot of family responsibilities, she ensured her children grew up with fun. She encouraged them to participate in activities, competitions, sports, and academics while also caring for all the other family members. She has always been very involved in her children at all stages and given them all that she has missed in life. I have also witnessed the dedication with which she cared for her ailing, bed-ridden father-in-law for more than 8 years. I am in awe of her!
In her mid-life, her husband and son relocated to a new country in their need to support the family and take the upcoming opportunity. It was a massive change. The responsibility of finances, caring for the home, in-laws, and getting her daughter through with her education, all fell on her shoulders. At this juncture Mrs. Ramchandani came out even stronger than before. Like the saying goes – The difference between ordinary and extra-ordinary is the ‘extra’.
We have a lot to write about Mrs. Puja, but we have more to hear: heart-warming words from all of her children. Her son recently got married and now her family feels complete!
Son: NILESH (NEEL)
“Mom, you know I do not express much with words but you mean the world to me. You are the most amazing person I know. The things you do, not just for our family, but for everyone are greatly appreciated… You have given me strength, values, and love. You are the best chef of the world. Your food has healing powers! You are the Angel of our family Mom, Thank You for everything you do!”
Daughter: SARITA (HANISHA)
Mom has given me so many gifts by just being the person she is. She has given me ‘LIFE’ and an opportunity to be a part of GOD’S Manifestation and a bond which is going to last forever. I cannot thank her enough for all the lessons and values she has given me as a priceless treasure.
“Mom you lift me up and never let me fall. You see me through and you see the best in me. You inspire me to be a better mom. Most of all, I cherish your hugs. Even when you scold me, when we argue, I am learning something from you. I am grateful for all your teachings. You are the Miracle of my World. You have Shaped me to the best of me and You are the reason, I am me. I am blessed that God chose me to be your child, my love for you is infinite!”.
Memories with You MOM:
Story time with you as a child; esp. the bedtime spiritual Gurbani was just so relaxing and every night you gracefully taught me to face life with courage and moral values.
You stayed up with us for studies and exams like it was your test. I still remember how you stayed up praying and studying with us in our crucial years. You made us coffee / milk to keep us awake. You were so involved with Neel and I that we felt our classes and projects were as much yours and our competitions were incomplete without you.
After Neel and Dad relocated, I saw a stronger, different person in you. Those days are memorial to me as we shared our tough times together adjusting and making sacrifices.
You spend an awesome time with Nishika; you make a wonderful grandmother!
5 Special qualities of Mom:
Very helpful: You go out of her way to help others
Active and energetic
Quick and spontaneous on any task
Forgiving – even when people do bad things to you, you move on without grudges
You create happy surroundings wherever you go
I appreciate your chirpy, jolly, and hard-working nature
Daughter-in-law: PRIYANKA (SIMRAN)
“Mom, I am lucky to be your daughter-in-law. You give me the strength and power to adjust in a new place and you also make me feel comfortable. Even though I am away from home, I feel at home 🙂 You are a special person because of the priceless heart you have. You are so loving and affectionate!”
My special memory with you is our welcome dinner dance on the song – “Tera mujhse hai pehle ka naata koi”.
Son-in-law: AMITH MELVANI
When I came to India before marriage, mom made me feel extremely comfortable and because of that I enjoyed my wedding shopping with them.
“Mom, this is the perfect platform to share that when Sarita and me needed you the most during my challenging times, you were super supportive; you helped us immensely even with relocating our store. I was very moved by that. Mom I have known you as someone with a heart filled with so much love for everyone. You go out of your way to be of help without bias, even if that person hasn’t been nice to you. I am fortunate to have your daughter as my wife because she has imbibed your forgiving and caring nature. By law you may be called my Mother-in-law but I relate to You as my Mother!”.
Notes from me: RIMA
Writing my heart out to ‘Mom’ can be the toughest thing for me because there is so much for me to express that a sea of emotions explode. I am grateful, I have received this opportunity from the Universe to write about Mom. After God sent her down to earth, he listed – “No more in production”. Sounds hilarious but she is the Only one of her kind. ‘Grateful’ is a very small gesture I can say to her.
When I lost my mom at 6 years of age, I grew up feeling ‘greatly deprived’. I had a lot of internal pain from hearing other children use the word MOM. I had no one whom I could call Mom and as simple as that sounds, it is extremely painful for a child. Many people would SYMPATHIZE with me but mom was the the only one who went a step further. I was a complete stranger to her. She didn’t know my family, had never come to my home, and knew nothing else about me besides that I was her son’s classmate in school. Our religions were very different too. In those times, not many would openly embrace a person from a totally different religion.
Unlike all others, Mom made me her ‘Daughter’ and allowed me, in fact, declared that I refer to her as ‘MOM’. There is no other gift I can receive that can be more PRECIOUS. After so many years of lull, it was hard for me to even speak out the word ‘MOM’.
For several years, I had nobody to talk to, nobody who loved me unconditionally, no one who cooked food of my liking. I craved all of this deeply and often cried several hours at night. From all the friends and family – tons of cousins I knew, I was the ONLY one who belonged to a Single Parent family. This feeling slowly got healed as Mrs. Puja (Mom) made for me a place of great love in her heart and home.
Mom would invite me at her home and hear all that I had to say. She would go out of her way to cook food of my liking, food that she hadn’t cooked before. Being a Jain by religion, I wouldn’t eat onions, potatoes, carrots, and garlic at all. Cooking food without these ingredients was a challenge because it was totally new and unknown to her. But she LEARNT to make my favorite vegetables EXACTLY the way I liked them. She made the most delicious BHINDI (OKRA) veggies – the taste of which from the year 1999 is still in my mouth! Who would do all this for a stranger?
The way she has brought up her two kids speaks volumes of her character, her courage, her strength and her love. I will fall short on words and space to write for her.
“Mom you are way too special to me and I there is no way I can repay You for all the love you have given me. In cold, screeching blizzards of my life, you covered me with a warm blanket that kept me going safe and strong! You came specially to my engagement ceremony, that meant a lot to me. Thank You Mom.
I am more than grateful and I sincerely hope God will give me a chance to SERVE YOU, to CARE FOR YOU in return. Your love, comes out in your food and in your talks. You are so much fun, so loving, spiritual, courageous, and such a sweetheart. I know it is not only me, you have opened your heart to many children, many people, and helped many more than we all even know. I am far from you since several years but yet, I haven’t felt that distance. Even if we talk once in several months, you are there, just the same.
I was happily surprised to know how much Simran knew about me even before I spoke to her. Thank You for introducing me to her, even in my absence… what more should I say?… My eyes are full with emotion. I am sure there is a great reason why my Mom’s bday and your bday are next to each other and why I met you in this life-time! Over the years, you have allowed me to be myself and loved me unconditionally. I remember how I used to save money and call you from phone booths to talk to you. I LOVE YOU MOM”.
Husband: VIDU RAMCHANDANI
Puja is a very cordial, loving, and caring wife. I credit her for raising mature, wonderful kids and adjusting gracefully when both of us had to be away. She is very affectionate and very well organized in caring for the home and entire family. I am lucky to have such a loving and caring spouse who has blessed my family with her presence.
“Puja, you are the perfect wife and the perfect mother. I admire you for who you are!”
Although we may see fault in the ways of people and clearly mark out ‘souls’ that bring love and light vs. those that create painful surroundings, I intend to appreciate the greatness shown by each person in some way. Many film stars display heroic qualities but there are many more real-life unspoken ‘stars’ that have left behind examples of inspiration. I began the ‘Parent-of-the-month’ series with an intention to celebrate these ‘Parent-Heroes’, acknowledge their greatness, (leave aside any of their shortcomings), and inspire the ones on the road.
THE BIOGRAPHY OF A LADY WITH GREAT VALOR
Today I am introducing an Iron Lady who proved her buoyancy over the consistently frosty waters of life during her 91 years of courage and commitment.
Read her short story to know how she waded through the troubles of poverty coupled with many mouths to feed.
Kasturben (Ba in short) was overall a cheerful, outgoing person. In India, 80 years ago, girls got married as early as in their teens and the cultural tradition demanded a troupe of children. It sounds funny to hear but I can only imagine the burden that comes with it.
Kasturben lost her husband at the age of 35, leaving 9 young mouths and a 10th one (my mom) on the way. The tragedy of life was emphasized by severe scarcity of finances. She had some experience in running the provision store with her husband but after his death, it was a tough balance to create between her work and so many children. At that juncture, she did receive remarkable help from her brothers; yet, the path ahead was for her to carve.
Without a doubt, she worked day and night to ensure enough food and shelter for her little ones but there were severe challenges with her business. Most of her clients were construction workers on the airport building. Often, customers crowded at the same time after their work was over in the evening and this demanded bone-breaking work from her. The fact that women were considered as the domestic, weaker section of society, and many of her customers as well as workers would be males, demanded that she step up with exceptional bravery to assert her power.
Running a provision store requires work not only when there are customers but also before and after: bring in products, arrange them, clean up, manage the accounts, ensure that groceries are free of insects, and much more. Even after her workers left, work demanded her presence and it left her requesting help from her elder son and daughter. Her children showed similar qualities of courage and hard work and they all stepped up to drive through the dark times of life.
Ba’s sense of responsibility was very high. She looked after her parents until the end, while being dedicated to her 10 off springs, on a limited income.
WORDS FROM HER FAMILY:
Narration from one of her daughters: “She would ask us to recite poems and tables before going to sleep. As a result, our studies were not neglected. In fact, she taught us the importance of education and sent my elder brother to USA in those times when there weren’t even proper flights from India and only 1% of the population ever left the country. It encouraged me to do my Masters and eventually I became a successful college teacher, because of my mom’s dedication and support. Had it not been for Mom’s hard work, we would not have had a shop at Church gate and a home in Juhu scheme. (Both are one of the best suburbs in Mumbai). We younger siblings were lucky to study in the prestigious -Mithibai College. Everything that she did helped us in our lives tremendously”.
As per the Indian tradition, a widow must wear only white saree (Indian dress) and Ba willingly followed that tradition too. Even though times were horrendous, she had the determination to keep moving forward with faith and courage. While fulfilling duties of the family she also became very religious. She did every possible fast from her religion and attended several religious ceremonies. Highly inspired from her, her elder daughters continued the religious tradition of fasts, known as ‘Tap’ in Gujarati and until today, they remember her for that.
LACK OF A FATHER:
While Ba was swimming against the odds of her life, all of her children had their own trials. They did have a powerful mother to show them care and strong will, yet they missed the roof of a father that would shade them from the heat of life. They deeply missed having a father figure to give them the confidence to bring themselves out in the world and guide them through. Her children showed their own kind of courage which cannot be worded in any way. Later in life, her son who flew abroad gave her continuous and immense financial support.
As if life had not offered her enough trouble, Ba had her biggest blow with the untimely death of her last born (my mom) at a very young age. This was an irreparable loss for her that left her completely shattered. She also steered through the pain of losing her sister, eldest son, and her grandson! Ba showed her high morals and helpful nature by caring for her mentally retarded cousin brother and for her sister’s children like her own.
BA with her GRANDCHILDREN:
Ba had a lot of affection for her grandchildren and enjoyed cooking for them. I remember how she would insist we eat (more than we could) to show her care. Most of us enjoyed her white dhoklas and rice flake treats (mumra ladus). Her cooking clearly reflected her motherly love for us. One of her daughter-in-law says that Ba’s cooking skills sparked interest in cooking for her.
One of her grandchild says – “She did not have just will power, she had horse power, she was such a strong person”.
My memories with my maternal grandmother are surrounded by the moral stories she narrated. I saw very little of her until my early 20s but the time I spent after my 20s was highly memorable. The fact that her face would light up just when we entered, told me a lot about her affection for my sister and me. Last, I saw her in 2007 when I had visited my home country. She had severe health problems, yet she would daily give food to the birds on her window roof.
Ba was extremely strong-willed and I applaud her for the way she waded through getting her children to study, the girls to get married, sending her son abroad, and being at the funeral of her own children. Wherever you are Grandma, know that it is my honor to write about you and be inspired with courage and determination like yours! We all Miss You and Love You!!
————-Original article and copyright by Rima Desai May 3, 2015—————–
“Kong sim-eun-dae kong-na-go, pat sim-eun-dae pat nanda”
This popular Korean proverb translates as – Beans come out from where beans are planted, and red beans (팥) come out from where red beans are planted. In short, this means: ‘how good the outcome is, depends on how good the input was’.
Today I am introducing a mother whose parenting screams this proverb aloud and clear. She had a strong vision for her children and her persistence brought success to her endeavors. At a budding age, the boys excelled in Taekwondo, received awards, and even became thriving, yet humble entrepreneurs in the field.
Parenting Booth wishes Ms. Kyeong many more years of good health and happiness
Mrs. Nguyen has two boys only at a year’s distance. It was tough to care for them while working full time. Daily at lunch break, she drove 30minutes one way for their care and then returned to work.
Later she found full time work from home.
As easy as it sounds, if you are a work-from-home mom, you know how challenging it can get. Let us read how Mrs. Nguyen journeyed through this for 17.5years with the intention to keep her children as priority no. 1.
How tough was it to be a work-from-home mom?
It definitely needed a lot of commitment. I had no time to look after myself or make friends besides the ones I met at church, just 1 hour a week. My workday started at 6am until 7.15pm daily and mainly involved phone calls. I would have to be on the phone while I dropped and picked them from school, often in my pajamas.
After school they both had the same class but at different times. I could not stay there because of constant phone calls. First I would drop Anthony, come home with Johnny and 20 minutes later take Johnny there. I helped them with H.W. until elementary school, but later they took care of it themselves. They were responsible and bright.
I am happy to have dedicated my life for their care. It helped them be successful at an early age and they loved it. I thoroughly enjoyed it too. I could not have done all this without the support of my husband. He has been an excellent father. He has encouraged me to give children time and spend money where it was needed.
Did you prioritize your children over you?
Yes I wanted to do that. For me, my family comes first. I chose my job over further studies so that I could add to the household income and give our kids even more opportunities to learn and grow.
What were your prioritizes for the boys?
We lived in a very rainy state and so I could not keep them outdoors for long. At age 5, I signed up Anthony for Taekwondo close to home. Anthony willingly joined. Johnny observed Anthony well and later he joined too. They both did wonderful. They supported me in correcting their postures and practicing at home daily, didn’t go against me. This told me that they had great liking for Taekwondo.
One year we attended 9 tournaments – some in-state but most out-of-state. It needed adjustments in our daily routine but we kept up to it together as a family. The boys got selected for wrestling, basketball, and baseball. This is when I realized that they are born with sports’ skills within them. As our practices increased, my husband would take one son and me another. We both felt proud and delighted to watch our boys succeed.
2. Love for music:
I feel music adds joy to life. My husband and I both play guitar. Hence, I enrolled them in guitar classes and they loved it. Later they created their own band too! Anthony also played guitar at Church.
3. Love for God:
Every week we went to church. They made many friends there. We invited their friends and had fun times at home. Slowly even their parents came as we all bonded well. This helped the boys be social, friendly, and hospitable while also having fun.
4. Moral Values:
From a young age I taught them:
• Always stay united as brothers.
• Be polite to everyone esp. elders. As per our culture, also bow. Hence, they were and still are very good at greeting others.
• Respect others and that way gain respect back.
• Dad works hard for us; keep up dad’s respect.
• Stay united as a family. We set this example for the boys. My husband and I attended all their tournaments to encourage them and even if they lost in matches, we praised them for their effort.
• During matches, when they lost I said, “Don’t be discouraged, learn from it. To lose means someone is better than you are and so now, it is time for you to work harder to be better than them.
• I valued discipline but wasn’t overly strict. I cooked their favorite food, played games, and taught them in a fun manner like 3 of us ran like a train around the home while singing Math Tables.
Your message for your boys
“There were times when I got depressed but when I woke up and looked at both your faces, I felt brighter, happier and inspired to have another great day with both of you. I was extremely feminine in dressing and thinking but then my personality jelled in with yours. I have thoroughly enjoyed bringing you’ll up. I have NEVER felt the need to have a girl because both of You were so supportive, obedient, and mature. I’ve always heard good things from your teachers and other parents with no complains. I am very proud of you’ll. Extremely proud!”
A message from Anthony Nguyen – son
Some Special memories:
With Dad’s busy work at Intel, you found a job at home to take care of us. You allowed us to grow and gave us a chance to try hobbies that sparked our interest – that is how we found our life’s path in ‘Taekwondo’. Attending our graduations and being proud of us.
Special qualities of Mom:
1. She’s the best cook I know – Korean, Vietnamese, American, Italian, you name it!
2. A great listener and advisor
3. A very caring mother and grandmother too
4. She’s strong-willed and continues to be strong everyday
5. She’s beautiful!!! 🙂
6. She’s a gifted singer
Childhood memories with Mom:
-Watching me at tournaments and various championships
-Teaching me Korean language through studies and music
-Going to beaches in California
-Going camping and fishing
Mom you taught me to:
-To play the guitar
-To be a good sport in winning and losing both
For you my mom:
“Although we may not say it every day, both Johnny and I are grateful to have such a caring and loving mother. We love you a lot and know we wouldn’t have been able to accomplish all this without you. You are the bond that keeps our family together. You are the music, the glue, and the love that runs through our whole together. Thank you for being You.”
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. Our parent today is an exemplary hero who adds breath to this proverb. Wading through the worst tides of life at an early phase of parenting, he was convinced that nothing took precedence over the well-being of his children.
Let us welcome Mr. Pradip Unadkat on our platform today as we celebrate his 59th Birthday on Feb. 27
Mr. Unadkat was born in Geita city of Tanzania country, East Africa. He grew up in Katunguru but the lack of finances refrained his education. With a stone on his heart, he began traveling to Mwanza daily to fetch money through work. Later he moved there permanently. At the age where other teens were talking fun and style, Mr. Unadkat had started full time work and with his blood and sweat, he built his business.
Wishing you many more years of great health and happiness from Parenting Booth
A message from his son: Vineet Unadkat
My mother fell ill when we were very young. I was 8 years and my sister was 4 when she passed away. It was the darkest phase of our lives. Only someone who has lost a life-partner and a mother that early can understand the pain we all went through. Now that I am a parent, I can understand with more depth how dad must have endured the situation. I still remember the things he would do to make us happy. He did everything to ensure we don’t miss mom.
In fact, dad wanted to remain single but he realized that we both needed the love and care of a mother. Hence, for us, he remarried. This was very helpful to us because mom helped us learn moral values, be well mannered and she gave us the strength to fight against all odds. I can’t imagine growing up without her! Both Chandni and me are here today with mom’s unconditional love and support for all of us. Thank You dad for taking that step for us!
Dad also had to go through considerable financial hardships. Several nights he stayed up late to complete his work so that he could get his share of money to send us to school. It was only through his dedicated hard work that we completed our studies.
To fetch me a brighter future, he had to send me to another city for school and college studies. I was 15. This was the toughest decision on dad. Having lost his first wife, and then sending me away for studies was like another hollow at home but dad was tough as a rock. He knew he had to do whatever was needed for my progress. I lived with my uncle. It was only later that I realized dad and my mom had a play in large part to keeping up with my studies. For years, dad and mom sent several items to Uncle, including Pickles they made and Papad (thin, crispy lentil tortillas), in a way to repay what they owe.
If you know the Indian culture, pickles and papad are a very important part of our daily meals and hence considered a good trade. Making either of them is a tedious task.
Special Qualities of Dad:
Dad is the most helpful and generous person I know. He has dedicated his life to helping and serving others. He has helped several people in small and big ways. Mwanza is a closely-knit Indian community. Dad is one of the strongest pillars for others during their personal and during community’s cultural events. He attends to the guests, helps in serving food, and is also there to volunteer during medical trips or emergencies. Several times dad has left behind his work to help and serve others.
Even though dad’s position was not financially strong to get my sister and me through our studies, he worked a lot more and ensured we complete our education. No words can express my gratitude for it.
Dad is extremely forgiving by nature. Even if someone was mean, rude or did something very wrong, yet he would forget, forgive, and be helpful to that person.
“Dad from you I have learnt to be Patient. You have taught me that we will always get what we deserve and that everyone has to pay the price of his or her Karmas. Hence, I learnt from you to do good to others no matter what they do to me and as a result, ‘goodness’ will come back to me. I have applied this principle in my life and seen it work. You are amazing dad. I love you and I am proud to be your son! I am thankful to You and Mom for everything that you’ll have done for us.”
A message from his daughter: Chandni Unadkat
When I was done with my school, I wanted to work but during those times, in my family girls weren’t allowed to work. Unlike other dads, my dad stood up for me, against the social norm and allowed me to work. He gave me the strength and became the biggest support of my life. In fact, due to dad’s support, I was able to contribute to the family in times of need, esp. when my brother was still struggling and trying to settle in USA. Every step of the way, my Dad has supported me, whether in my job or with the choice of my life partner. I was 4 when my mum passed away of cancer. These were the darkest days of dad’s life. Dad’s decision to remarry was tough for him but he did it selflessly, just for us. Being a girl and so young, he did not want me to be without a mother and because of that I feel my dad is a Hero. “I love you Dad. You are my Hero, my best friend and God’s gift to me! I am blessed to have such wonderful parents in my life. Mom and You make our lives complete.”