Friday, July 31, 2015

Babix

Dear Danny-x (as Seren-ex would say!)

Today was special. I truly enjoyed our long walks through the gardens of Chatsworth House just outside of Sheffield and our talks. I can't get enough of the English countryside, with the rolling hills, meadows with cows (Moo Moos in Serenese) and sheep (Baas), and the shades of green. It's almost as though Enid Blyton's going to jump out from behind a bush and start reading a Famous Five book to me - Five Rolling Down a Hill or something. Though if Enid Blyton would jump out from behind a bush, I think I would scream very loudly.

Enid, where are you?

Spending time with dear Seren, Gayti didi, and Phuphaji was very special. We got to talk, go down more memory lanes, giggle, and come up with more exciting antics (tickle tickle)! I will always cherish these memories.

The beautiful Gayti with the phenomenal Seren!


The chapel in the house - a private chapel in a residence!!
And a bench made of quartz and tar - naturally lit.
Made me think of all the Rocks and Minerals
units my kids have studied over the years!
As we walked the exquisite living chambers and halls of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, we talked about the future. We talk often about the future, and I appreciate all those conversations - even when they get soggy with fear of the unknown.

Today, I especially enjoyed our conversation about the future, in particular - babies (or babix in Serenese). After having been around a very very adorable and phenomenal one (Seren - in Serenese) and seeing how amazing her parents are (Mummy and Daddy in Serenese ; ), we then saw the two moms with their respective children inside the Chatsworth House today who were very close to being asked to leave because their kids were very close to breaking something. I was getting nervous for them! We are lucky to know a lot of wonderful parents and children. Through my time teaching, I have grown because of my interactions with children. I think children are the most phenomenal presentation of our species - unfiltered, happy, and just plain terrific. I have also met some amazing parents and we both know some amazing ones - parents I look up to and wish I could be. Today, as we walked down the steps of the house, it was nice to hear you say, we could be those parents, and we could have those children. That would be one heck of an achievement as humans - to bring a life and give it life. One day...we will have our own babix (you know...in Serenese).

One wing of the house

You're way more sculpture-worthy!

The majestic cascade waterfall in their private garden! (Well not so privately used!)


Finding surprises in the garden!

A bench with some cool art!

I thought it was so funny to see all these chair exhibits!



For now though, I thank you for spending a lovely week with my...our family in Sheffield. It's been so so special to me to share such a special place of my past and childhood with you.

Tomorrow we take our last inter-city train ride on this Epic Europe Trip! I will see you in London, baby! (Or babix!)

All my love,
-Suparna

P.S. - to all our readers who are not Dan and Suparna - we are not pregnant. : )


Kiddos!

Dearest Suparna,

It had to happen at some point, a post about the little ones. Being on this trip has made me think a lot about what it will be like when we have our own kids, and what type of parents we will be. In our lives we been so fortunate to have so many great examples of parenting, and on this trip, a number of counterexamples for good parenting: the tourists we saw today in Chatsworth house, the mother who was neglecting her child as we toured through Ludwigsburg palace, or the woman yesterday who claimed that her child was causing problems because of her "learning differences," but took no responsibility herself. I'm not trying to criticize these parents as being bad people, but I think it's important to have kids when you want to and when you are ready. Otherwise it's not fair for the kids or the parents.

In our lives we've had so many wonderful examples of parenting: the way Mom and Dad always gave us support and encouragement; the way your parents showed you so many things and taught you so much; the way Gayti, Paul, Bua, and Phuphaji shower Seren with love; the way Kevin and Chie help their kids experience so many new things with excitement; the way Brian and Sarah are so intentional with Adam and Mara and how they provide them with so much structure; the way David and Stephanie provide so much calm and stability to Maddy and Sophie; the way Mikole and Ryan help Arwyn and Soleil experience all of the magic of the world. This only scratches the surface of the great parents (and grandparents, aunts, and uncles).

On this trip we've experienced so many new things, seeing the world through wide eyes, just like children. I can't wait to show our kids all of those new experiences, help them learn new things, and just make the best of what we have. You, me, and two rucksacks is all we've needed to be so happy and have such an experience. Seeing all of this magnificent and extravagant palaces and castles makes me think of just how little we actually need to be happy in this world. That's something I hope we can pass on to our kids; a true sense of appreciation for just how lucky we all are, and a sense of wonder to never stop exploring and asking why. I can't imagine raising kids with anyone else my dear.

Tumhaaraa hamesha,
-Daniel



A stork in York

My Dear Knightly Daniel,

What a fun day it's been! We're sitting at the Duke of York, a pub in the York train station waiting for our train back to Sheffield and they're playing some funky 80s pop. The very pregnant Indian lady in front of me is smiling sympathetically at me. She's mistaking my very lactose-induced aching and bloated belly as a 5 month old baby brewing in me! (It didn't help that you noticed this too and lay your head on my belly and asked, "How's your tummy feeling?") Oh, clotted cream, I fear this is the end of our relationship.






It was hard to walk down the beautiful cobble-stoned streets of York and resist all the little precious tea shops inviting us to have a cuppa cream tea. My heart said yes, but my belly rumbled no. I am so sorry that my tummy and I were so groany today, Dan. Thanks for your sweet loving kindness and love the whole time.

As soon as I walked out of the railway station, I knew I had been there before. Like a distant dream of first feelings, I recalled looking left as soon as exiting the railway station and seeing the York Minster.  And so, prompted by some deja vu, I did, and there it was - majestic and serene as ever - the York Minster.




We walked through monuments and city walls. Each place I go to, I love walking with you - we've walked SO much during this trip and I hope we can keep up that tradition back home in Boulder. Especially, since we're so lucky to have so many places we can walk to in Boulder. As we walked the cit
y walls, you asked me to imagine being there hundreds of years ago and entering this grand province. I love that you take my imagination to these regal medieval lands, because that is usually not where my imagination leads me. Given my personal and professional background, the first place my imagination takes me is - "I wonder how badly one would get hurt if they fell from this height." So thank you, Dan, for brightening this girl's morbidity up once in a while!







Ok, back to York Minster - as we learned more about the massive cathedral - I was taken aback by two things:




1. Like you, the imperfections of the cathed
ral were hard to miss. I wondered often how could something so vast be made without a plan, and then we saw the arches and spires that were the epitome of asymmetry. Maybe that is apropos - a place with imperfections has room for others.

I was shocked at the asymmetry of the cathedral
2. The different versions of the cathedral. Though completed in the 1400s, it has seen so many fires, reconstructions, kings, cruelty, and more. Through it all - it has undergone so many rounds of change - it reminded me of history and how it gets rewritten so often and we only see parts of it, unless we dig deeper. Even then, I wonder what history will we leave behind for others to read. Not just you and I, but our generation too.

The Five Sisters are dedicated to women who died in WW1. The blue panel on the bottom of he middle one was put there accidentally during the last reconstruction. In 75 years when they do the next reconstruction, they will debate which one put in - the original grey glass one or this blue one.


I will always remember falling asleep in the warm sunshine in the beautiful museum gardens with you and having so many yummy treats in the most magical of places!



Thanks for finding the most sweetest vegetarian restaurants for a nice light meal for my tired belly! Goji was indeed a happy place!








Thanks for caring for me, being calm, smiling lots, and bringing your imperfections and mingling them with mine.

Yours,
Suparna

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Imperfection

Dearest Suparna,

Today we had the most lovely day in York. I really had no expectations and didn't know what to expect. But it definitely exceeded all of them. Our walk along the outer wall made me think of patrolling the city in the old days, like in the times of Merlin. But the beauty of old had a modern twist - each of the toll gates at the bridges had all been converted into cafes. As they say here - brilliant! I think Uttara will really enjoy her time here. 

I know you weren't feeling well today, and that made things hard. But there's no reason to keep apologizing. It wasn't your fault for not feeling well. Now you know you just need to stay away from the cream and stick with the lemon curd. Besides, it gave us special opportunities to do things like take a nap in the museum gardens. Yay!

Now imperfection. The York Minster is the main attraction of the city. And it was marvelous. Of all things that struck me was how much imperfection was built into to foundations of the cathedral. For one, the main tower is built over an old foundation that was never meant to support a tower. And so it has required a lot of work to be repaired and reinforced. Or how about when the stained glass windows were hidden not to be destroyed by bombs, and some were put in the wrong places. But these were only small things.

There are dragons and chimeras carved into the walls. One of the main arches has 6 kings on one side, and 7 on the other. The cathedral was built without much proper planning, so there are areas where the alignment of the ceilings is off by at least 3 feet.

Despite all of this, this is one of the most significant cathedrals in all of England. And it is truly majestic. I think it is a fitting analogy for religion. I feel that too often humans seek some sort of infallibility, but we are fallible in so many ways. Rather than acting as though we can achieve perfection, or even try to seek it, I'd rather relish the imperfections. All of those imperfections made the Minster marvelous. They also make life marvelous. 

So let's make the most of every day, celebrating all the things that are imperfect! 

Tumhaaraa hamesha
-Daniel





Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A tree is a tree. A cave is a cave. A village is a village.

Dearest Dan,

We're going to have our first early night here! It's almost 11pm, and I can't believe we're getting ready for bed before midnight! Woohoo!

Today was, as you put it, marvelous. We got to enjoy a lazy morning and sprung into action to make puri aloo at Bua's suggestion! I can see that I get my spontaneity from my family. We got to go through hills, reservoirs, and lakes to get to the beautiful village of Castleton. I don't remember coming to this area called the Peaks District with all these hills, lakes, caves, and hiking trails when we were younger. The English countryside is just like I imagined and remembered it. Rustic pubs around corners, sheep and horses polka-dotted on hillsides (or in Serenese - baas and horsies), little tea shops and ice cream parlors in little cobblestoned allies. Today, I really felt like we were in someone's fairy tale. Stone-laid paths leading to castles and caverns. Little secret gardens, streams with ducks waddling about, and tea (a drink with jam and bread, or in our case, scones).






Our companions were great! Bua and Phuphaji are fun to spend time with, and Seren just lights up the day with her smiles! I love spending time with young humans - the whole world looks different through their eyes. My favorite moment from the day was you reading our favorite Winnie the Pooh story to Seren. Her smiles and giggles were to die for!








My ride in the cave with you in the Speedwell Cavern was fascinating! First, I was having a hard time processing the sing-song Irish accent of our tour guide and the constant ricocheting of his voice in the eerie acoustics of being 220 meters under the ground on a cave lake wasn't helping. I totally felt like I was in the boat with Dumbledore headed towards the cave lake to find a horcrux. Except, it was only better - we got to ride for about an hour deep under ground in a cave in a boat! I wonder a lot about that little girl in front of us who laughed and talked loudly and disruptively the whole journey into the cave and when we told her mother we couldn't hear anything, her mum said she had learning differences and put a phone in the girl's hands. I can imagine that's a touch position to be in, but I also wonder what I would do if I were in her position. Maybe something different. Maybe the same exact thing.

Our Cave today

The Cave Lake - HP 6 - Credit: Harry Potter wiki - http://harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/The_Cave

220 meters below the earth! First discovered in 1770!

The amazing entrance to the Devil's Arse. Who knew it would be so pretty?

Then, wandering through an English village and devouring English tea and scones with clotted cream and jam was heavenly. I think I consumed enough dairy to last me a lifetime on Pluto. It was so so good though! And having high tea in England is a whole different experience!

Fresh and hot scones with hot tea and rich rich rich rich rich clotted cream and jam!

At night, we made it to an English pub (Porter Brook) and though it was marinated in smells of fish and chips, we enjoyed our yummy veggie burgers - so much so that a stranger asked us how they were - and I'm convinced he based his question on our constant oohing and aahing and mmming while we are our burgers. Then we walked home and talked about life, the past, the future, and breathed in every step and every moment.



Today, I learned that my grandfather used to say, "A tree is a tree is a tree". No matter what and where, a tree is a tree. But I'm not too sure about that. A tree in Castleton, England, UK has seen and lived things that a tree in Boulder, Colorado, USA has not. And vice versa. I am glad I got to take in things, experiences, and life unique to where we were today.

Thanks for that.

And now...

time to cuddle and snore.

I love you,
-Suparna

Familiarity

Dearest Suparna,

Every day I've tried to theme my letters to you around some sort of new feeling or realization that I had that day. Today I thought a lot about this, but nothing came to mind. We certainly had many lovely new experiences, but not so many new feelings. I think everything I've written about family, the luxury of time, and just enjoying being in these amazing places still rings true. As we were walking home together, you pointed out to me that maybe the new feeling I had today was of familiarity. In some way now that we've been traveling for a long time together, I'm getting use to what I feels like to be traveling and on the road. I think that's a nice feeling.

Today we drove through the English countryside with Phuphaji, Bua, and Seren. It was marvelous! This is just what I would picture when you talk about all the stories you read growing up. It also makes me think of all of the wonderful little towns in Merlin and other fantasy stories. I loved it.

Then we submerged ourselves far underground in the speedwell caverns, which were old lead mines. We traveled through them by boat! I had no idea we were going to be going so deep, or that we would be in such a tight space. For someone who always suffered from being claustrophobic growing up, I thought it would be more difficult for me, but it really wasn't so bad after all. Actually, the experience was quite amazing.

And then we had a lovely walk through the Castleton village and had cream tea. The combination of scones, jam, and clotted cream was pure decadence! It made me think of all of our times eating scones and lemon curd in the US with our good friends. Now we have yet one more variation to try. :-)

Thanks for another lovely day.

Tumhaaraa hamesha,
-Daniel