All posts by Shaku Raj Author

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.

Shakuntala

 June 2020

Namaste

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
11-24-2019

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
09-11-2010

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
11-11-2019

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
www://shakuraj.com


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!!!

Gratitude is the Attitude

02-13-2019

“Gratitude is the Attitude.”

This was the theme we taught at a summer camp to our grandchildren a few years ago.

Every day, I feel this is true in my life. Right now I am grateful for a visit I made to my sister Shanthi. I had not seen her in two years. From the time in December 2018 I told her over the phone that I had tickets to go visit her in India and the time I got there last month, her voice was stronger, her resistance to doctor visits and updating her meds had decreased and there was a big smile on her face. She had not cooperated with her daughter about checkups with her doctors in the past several months.

My youngest daughter who accompanied me on this visit boosted the efforts of her cousin to take Shanthi to all the specialists she needed to see, and to update her meds. I know between the two cousins they pushed Shanthi to get the care she needed.

Shanthi was almost herself, making home-made banana chips and raw-jackfruit chips and breadfruit chips. Not just for us to taste but also bring a few bags back for her nieces and nephews here in the U.S.A.

I am very grateful I was able to be there, although the visit was a short three weeks, and that all of us benefited from her energy.

On this trip halfway around the world, covering 10,000 miles one way which takes 23 hours, and the flight hours of 17 to 18 hours; I am grateful to the Gods for keeping us safe and all the Airlines and staff for their knowledge, commitment and efficiency.

I am also grateful for my sisters, cousins, sisters-in-law, and their families including nephews, nieces, and even grandchildren who shower unconditional love to me as I drop in once a year or once in two years, and then disappear into the skies.

 Swamee Rakshikkane.  (Oh God, Take care of us.)

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

12-30-2018
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions!

The process of getting your book in print is not a very smooth one. Many things I thought were clear got obscured in the final process. Just for example, the font, size and color of the caption for the front of the book had to be looked at, and the photos rescanned and their dpi quality had to be changed, when possible. But I am in the end-stretch of the road and soon I will have a release date for my memoir.

Transplanted, Front cover, 11-21-2018


TRANSPLANTED
FROM 110 DEGREES IN THE SHADE TO
10 DEGREES BELOW ZERO IN THE SUN

Christmas this year was special with celebrating my newly-wed grandson and his wife, two high school graduates in the family, a four-month old little princess among us, (my nephew and his wife gave us that one), and the announcement of a new baby coming in the family in June, from my niece.

While all these new memories are being made, we cherished our memories from the past, and the people who have left us after leaving indelible imprints in our hearts and minds. Just talking to each other about those dear ones give us a special strength to carry on what we need to do today and in the days to come.

Happy New year and tons of love to all.
Swamee Rakshikkané “God, keep us safe”
(This is a blessing and a prayer of surrender into God’s hands for safekeeping.)