Gratitude is the Attitude

Gratitude is what gives me the most joy. For, when I am grateful for something or somebody, I know I was bestowed with some blessing. A gift, a phone call, a thank you for my cooking a favorite dish, or my counsel—any of these coming my way—I am grateful for I am deeply grateful for a hug from my Travis. I am grateful for ”I love you, mom,” from any of my three daughters.

In a Summer Camp my grandson attended a few years ago, “Gratitude is the Attitude,” was the theme for the week. Citing well lived lives of characters in Epic stories and also of persons in our lifetime e.g. Mother Teresa, the children were taught how to be grateful for blessings in our lives.

If only we can ask ourselves every day, “what are you grateful for today?” and we have an answer, I know that would put a smile on our faces.

And today, I am grateful for my Barrington Writers Workshop group. The Tuesday morning meeting that brings us together to read, share, and get our writings reviewed and critiqued. I have always said this is a kind group. We criticize, but don’t attack anyone’s words. Constructive ideas are rendered kindly. Maybe a soft reprimand if any of the writing seems offensive.

I feel a wave of gratitude flow through me this morning. The best part is when I didn’t feel like writing, the group’s activity, hearing the written words of the members prompted and pushed me to write what I was feeling. And for that I am grateful.

Shakuntala Rajagopal

Inspired Blog: Hopefully Will Lead to My Next “Memoir”

I published a Memoir, Transplanted 110 degrees from the shade to 10 degrees below zero in the sun, in March 2019.

Around the same time, Corona virus hit us. The pandemic that followed put sudden brakes on my publishing, marketing, selling of that book as well as my previous ones.
The lack of momentum affected my writing skills. Other than messages to family and friends I penned very few words (or rather typed very few words).

The saving grace in the last few years has been the baby boy who Nimmi brought home. Helping to raise the infant, Keshav, kept me physically and mentally active. My writing did not feel was a priority anymore. He is now three years old. I did make progress in my cooking. My older grandson Travis and I cook great meals together. He learned to make chicken curry and chicken biriyani, and many vegetarian dishes. Interestingly I have ventured to make Greek potatoes with him and we make pancakes from scratch, not from a store-bought mix.
Yet, my writing career has not progressed.

Last week I happened to go on Goodreads page and found my books posted on the site by my good friend April. There were two great reviews on the books. It warmed my heart, inspired my mind, and encouraged my brain to go forward with my next memoir. My working title for my book is “Thriving.”

I did thrive in this soil and grown to be strong like an oak tree, yet flexible like a mature bamboo tree and spreading the uplifting perfume of life like a Southern Magnolia. When I speak thus, I think I should be a poet. Thus inspired, I dared to go out and participate in an award ceremony when The Chicago Malayalee Association honored women doctors in our community in connection with Women’s day 2022. My youngest daughter Nimmi, a Family Medicine physician at Cook County Health Systems in Chicago, and myself as a retired Pathologist and Director of Laboratories at a suburban hospital were both honored. The Malayalees come from Kerala, the South Indian State where Malayalam is the main language.

This was a celebration that has now pushed me to seat myself in front of my computer and ‘pen’ the story of what happened to Raj and me after 1970.
I promise to entertain you, please you, make you shed a few tears, and maybe even surprise you with what I will share of my life. Looking forward to facing a few surprises myself, as I recount my story.

Shakuntala Rajagopal.

Nimmi Rajagopal Award
Shakuntala Rajagopal Award

My Spring Garden

It is a welcome relief to see my bare garden soil all filled by green growth from the plants awakening from a Winter’s sleep.

The season of stagnation due to the Corona virus attack on our Nation, Towns and Villages, and the necessary draw back on our activities have done a mandatory slowdown of our lives. As hard as we tried and as positive an attitude we touted, it was not at all easy to face the long days of inactivity that we, the retired community faced.

And then came Spring. In Chicagoland, the warm days brought many days of rain. Though the few thunderstorms were disturbing our peace, in general the spring came in without any catastrophic tornadoes. What a blessing.

My garden, and the chores that go with it called me out every day, starting with the new sprouts of growth in the ground, and seedlings that I started from scratch to tend to. And then, when I thought it had rained enough, the ground was drying because of the hot 90® sunny days. Unpredictable!!!

That really helped. Since I had to be up to water and tend to the sensitive seedlings before the hot noon sun hit them, I found more hours in the day to read and write. Hence a new book is being born, from my head via the computer keys to a Word document. I know there will be a completed work worth reading by the end of the year.

And as these pictures show, my Spring Garden is already a kaleidoscopic mass of color.

Just goes to show that no Virus threats, no restrictions and no personal attacks need to shut down our spirit and strength and we will get to enjoy the fruits of our labor, for sure.


 June 2020


Our little guy, my youngest Grandson, at fourteen months of age, has learned to say Namasté with ease. He puts his chubby little hands together, palm touching palm and says with pride in his baby voice, “té.”   ??????

This Indian greeting is accompanied by a slight bow of the head, in a sign of respect.

In the truest sense, Namasté means Nam = name (representing one’s name,) sté = stuthi or praise. The essence is I praise your name. What could be a more cordial and respectful greeting when you meet someone?

In a different interpretation, the Divinity, “Nam” within me recognizes and respects the Divinity within “té” or thou.

Whichever meaning you choose to accept; this greeting is the most uplifting one I can think of. Also, the whole posture of a humble greeting elevates the mood of any person greeted in such a way. Who can deny or ignore that feeling when someone honors you as an equal or greater one?

In this time of social distancing, when the whole world is trying to stay safe and avoid the COVID-19 from spreading, this age-old Indian custom of greeting each other saying Namasté, and bowing one’s head as a physical expression to accompany this greeting, appears to be a good habit to adopt.

Let us all greet each other with a “Namasté,” and help a few more smiles to erupt when so many are frowning due to their hardships.  

Namasté   ??????

Shakuntala Rajagopal

TRANSPLANTED From 110 Degrees in the Shade to 10 Degrees Below Zero in the Sun Book Review

For my blog this week I have a GUEST BLOG. It is a book review by Dr. Roy Thomas.

‘TRANSPLANTED From 110 Degrees in the Shade to 10 Degrees Below Zero in the Sun’ is a moving, well-crafted and poignant memoir by Dr. Shakuntala Rajagopal, who as a 26 years old immigrant physician from the tropical South Indian state of Kerala, came to the cold freezing wintery city of Chicago in 1964. In this book she recounts the important events in her life in America, and show us how by hard work and perseverance, she has become what she is today.

Author Shakuntala Rajagopal
Author Shakuntala Rajagopal

Shakuntala is a multifaceted personality, and besides being a distinguished physician in her field of pathology, she is a gifted writer, a good oil painting Artist, and an organizer of several community organizations. She is also a past president of the Association of Kerala medical graduates in America. In this exquisitely inspiring memoir, she describes how she got adjusted to the new country, the strange foods, new clothes, and the new American English which was different from the English of the English she learned in India. Still she is excelled in many fields, while being a dedicated wife, a loving mother, a grandmother, and the beloved matriarch of her family of 52 members in the Chicagoland. Her beloved husband, Dr. Rajagopal, a gastroenterologist, left for his eternal abode after 47 years of their marriage. Dr. Shakuntala still continues to pursue her passion in writing, painting, gardening and many other community activities. She is affectionately called ‘Shaku’ by her friends and it has been my great privilege to be a close family friend of Dr. Shakuntala Rajagopal over several years.

In this book, Dr. Shakuntala, who is affectionately called ‘Shaku’ by her friends, weaves an unforgettable account of her life as an immigrant Indian physician in America, and it is very encouraging and inspiring reading for the new generations of immigrants, especially physicians from the subcontinent of India.

Book available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and online bookstores
Dr. Roy P Thomas

Being Afraid

Tasks loom ahead
Seemingly unsurmountable
Beads of sweat on your forehead
Throat dry and tongue tied
A tight knot in your gut
Legs ready to collapse

Feelings of fear
Sometimes even panic
Amounts to fight or flight
But would you, should you
fight or flee

One fleeting moment to decide
No time to assess
No time for regrets
Nor time to find your arms
Victory or defeat
All up to you

Wipe your brows, I say
Swallow hard
Tighten your belt
Fight the fear
take on the challenge
Get on with your task

Your weapons your experience
Your armor your inner strength
Your motive,
your action plan
And end game,
your victory

running a race
cooking an apple pie
beating your challenger in tennis
or beating the demons in your dreams
all amount to
timely action

So, on you go soldier
Forward march
Only your goal in sight
It is all right to be afraid
But don’t let fear stop you, ever
Victory, I say

Shakuntala Rajagopal

Shaku Rajagopal

Lace in Your Underwear

Do not give up lace in your underwear

Especially when you are over sixty
Do not give up lace in your underwear
Don the best close to your skin

Who’s to say you can’t feel your best?

Elegance has no age barriers
Even if your long skirt has tattered a hem
The lace beneath elevates your mood

And of course you add a lace of
Bourbon in your drink too
And ease the pain within your heart

When you were six and your mom
Dressed you in Sunday best
There was lace in your petticoat

and her warm hug that made you smile
was it your mothers kisses or was it
the lace that made you feel special?

To avoid what you need to do
will help no one
will do harm to your psyche
will ruin your smile

would you rather have a sad, smooth
face, or a wrinkly smiling one?

Put the smile back on your face
Widen your arms to embrace
Life, love, and whatever comes your way

There is a divine plan for you my love
You may not say no to it
You will not be given a choice about it

Just sit back and enjoy your ride
When the rollercoaster stops
Get off and breathe in the blessings

Shakuntala Rajagopal

I found this poem I wrote nine years ago. I realized that nineteen years later I still hold these sentiments.

I could change the word sixty to eighty, and it would still be true.
So, to all who read this, age does not matter.
I just sit back and breathe in my blessings

My Memoir Transplanted Published

My memoir “Transplanted” Has been published by Outskirts press. My memoir named “TRANSPLANTED, From 110 degrees in the Shade To 10 degrees below zero in the Sun”, recounts my experiences as a young doctor of 23 years old who left the South Indian tropical town, Thiruananthapuram, and got dropped into a ten degrees frigid Chicago winter forty-eight hours later, and despite the strange foods I had to adjust to, the strange clothes that I needed to survive the cold, and even the strangeness of the English language, (which I had hitherto believed I was well versed in,) I was able to mold my life and likes, and establish myself as a successful pathologist, a dedicated wife, strong yet kind and loving mother and grandmother, and now a Matriarch to an extended family of fifty two in Chicagoland alone.

Transplanted, Front cover, 11-21-2018
Transplanted, Front cover, 11-21-2018

I had to grow up twice. The first time, in the bosom of a warm extended family growing up was a pleasure. As a young bride I followed my husband Raj to Berwyn, a suburb of Chicago, and had to grow up all over again. In our early years here without any family, life was hard, and sometimes lonely. Our love and devotion to each other enabled us to make life here an adventure and a gratifying experience.

Any one displaced from a place of comfort (whether it is one hundred miles away or ten thousand miles away as I was,) and looking for guidance to overcome difficulties and to survive and flourish will find my “Immigrant story” helpful. While accepting and assimilating the American Heritage for my own, I detail the tradition and the legacy that I brought to the melting pot that this land truly represents.
Shakuntala Rajagopal

It can be purchased on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and on Kindle and Nook.

You can come visit with me and discuss the book at the 35TH ANNUAL Printers’row Lit Fest on June 9th, Sunday between 10 a.m. and 5p.m.

The 2019 Printers Row Lit Fest, presented by founding organization the Near South Planning Board, returns to its roots to bring you the 35th annual book fair, with a bigger footprint along South Dearborn Street from Polk Street to the newly named Ida B. Wells Drive (Congress Parkway). This year’s fair includes more book dealers, all-free programs, a kids favorite book character costume parade, and much more.

Come celebrate Chicago’s booming literary community over the course of this historic weekend.

No Excuses

April 20,2019
I am not one who makes excuses for not doing things on “my to do list.” But, I do have a very good excuse for interrupting my efforts at weekly blog posts. My youngest daughter has brought home a newborn baby boy.

She is staying with me for her three months of vacation time with this small baby boy. I am over the moon with the closeness I am building with this person, who, as small as he seems, is quite a big man in the effects he has on me and the rest of our family.
First of all he makes my whole being happy. Just being himself effortlessly makes every member of our family happy. In the two months of his life, each of his achievements amazes us. This baby brings back those emotions from years ago. It was the same feeling when I held my little ones many years ago, and, later when I held my two older grandsons when they were babies. So it doubles my feelings of happiness when I hold this two month old.

The happiness quotient expands my heart and when it can’t get any larger, I just let it overflow on to the rest of my loved ones, each time. How such a small being can give such expansive thoughts in me: I don’t understand. So intense, I stop breathing for a few minutes. But it is a breathlessness that does not deplete any oxygen. It only adds more energy. Inexplicable!!!