From: David Axelrod <email@example.com>
To: Kannan Ayyar <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 3:16 PM
Subject: Join me in wishing President Obama a happy birthday
I’ve known President Obama for more than 20 years — and what amazes me is, aside from his job title and the color of his hair, not a lot has changed about Barack Obama.
He’s still as hard working and as passionate as the day I met him. And he’s laser-focused on the people he’s fighting for.
President Obama’s birthday is coming up on Sunday, and I know he’d love to hear from you.
Sign the card OFA is putting together — you can even leave him a personal note, if you’d like:
Thanks for what you’re doing,
A movement of millions elected President Obama. Let’s keep fighting for change. Chip in $5 or more to support Organizing for Action today.
I mean Mumbai. We met with Aunty Saroja and Uncle – Smitha’s mother and Uncle ! They came to see us at the hotel and we had tea and biscuits then they took us to see their new flat. It was great ! Modern and Clean with great construction. They fed us way too many sweets ! Later PK uncle and his wife Chaya cam by for a Satsang and impromtu Bhajan session. Kasey was the hit of the evening and let everyone know that he now likes Krishna better than Hanuman 🙂
Shirdi Baba was a great soul who never harmed one living creature. He lived as a hermit and survived by “alms” as a beggar. Yet many around him realized the power and energy force that he possessed and conveyed. Shirdi is where he lived at least 60 years of his life and is buried there in the samadhi mandir. For over a 100 years since his death they have been doing pooja, chants, and bhajans in his name, multiple times a day to a marble idol of him in the Shirdi temple.
Of all the aarti’s the Kakad aarti (first of the morning) is the most auspicious. It starts at 4:15 am. The fact that I could even consider taking a six year old to Kakad aarti for Shirdi Sai is mind boggling. The fact that I had such a mature conversation with him the whole time is unbelievable. The fact that he asked me to buy flowers on the way to offer to Shirdi Sai is mind blowing. We sat together through the ceremony – which for those who have never been –is basically dressing a doll, with love and devotion, while reciting chants and mantras. I could feel Shirdi Sai’s energy and it was peaceful, tranquil, selfless and loving. I thanked him for Cunji-One and all my kids.
We got to walk right up to the idol and get a close look and feel the vibration. We also went to the exact stone where Shirdi Baba sat nearly every day for 60 years when he was alive and offer pranams. Kasey was amazing with his understanding and assimilating of everything we saw. I mentioned that in a past life he may have sat right in front of this very stone, he took padnamascar.
Him and Gramms continue to be best of friends and fighting like cats and dogs – in a good way if that makes sense. We bought the bible for Shirdi Sai devotees — a book called Shri Sai Satcharita, and headed out of dodge. Back to Bombay !
Our trip to Shirdi was right out of a movie, –unfortunately it was a hitchcock flick. It was a dark “monsooning” night, our driver was darker still and had the reddest eyes you could imagine. His white outfit belied the uncleanliness of his whole being. It was 9pm in Bombay.
“You have to get us to Shirdi in six hours” I told him confidantly as if I knew the road and distance to Shirdi.
“Impossible Sir, eight hours maximum, monsoon is here” he spit out in broken english.
“You mean minimum right ? Any way I have to be there by 3:15 am you have six hours maximum”
“No sir 8 hours maximum maybe 9 hours.”
“Okay forget it just do your best, by the way there is a BIG tip for you if I am there before 3:30 am”
He understood that real well and off we went. OMG it was dark and rainy, the roads were just space between pot holes, some of the potholes were bigger than our car, and the highbeams—oh the highbeams coming at you nonstop. I started to feel sorry for our driver and worried for our lives. Luckily I fell asleep, and so did Cunji and Amma-Kuts. Only to be awoken 3 hours later as we stopped on the side of the road in a pitch black area.
“What happened ?” I asked
“Flat tire sir ” Oh great I thought we were doomed.
“Do you have a spare ?”
“Do you need any help ?” I asked praying for his answer to be no. My prayers were answered. Our driver was inspiring, removing all the luggage, getting out the spare, replacing it and loading everything back up in record time in the pouring rain on the side of a scarily busy highway in the pitch black of a moonless night. We then went on our way.
He got us to Shirdi at 3:15 am. Imagine that. Mr. Sharma told us to wash up and get ready immediately for Darsan.
Kasey is learning Indian customs at a rapid clip. One such custom is always offering a gift or receiving a gift with your right hand NOT your left. Well most of you know that Kasey is left handed….So he wants to get everything with his left hand. Why can’t I ? — he wanted to know ! I told him this was part of the culture and just to do it whether he’s left handed or not . Grandma tried to help. She explained what most Indians do with their left hand (if you don’t know – you don’t want to) he got real serious and said “I don’t want to do that with my left hand”. Too much information too fast :-).
Most of you know that Bhav can be a little absent minded. I am now more convinced than ever that she has angels following her everywhere, we had two escapades (so far). The first was at Bangalore airport, we were waiting for our flight to Mumbai and were getting a smoothie, I told A-K to take her carry on and one other since I had three other carry-ons. I went ahead with Kasey and we boarded the plane, as we sat down and buckled in i asked A-K where her two bags were, she said she only had one and I was to take the others. OOPS. I had to deboard the plane and run to the coffee shop. There it was sitting on the bench with A-K’s purse peeking out. I grabbed it and made it back on the plane in time. Nothing missing.
The second time was at Shirdi where after we had beautiful darsan A-K was in the room with Kase and I and she said “Where is my purse?” I knew she brought it with her to Darsan but had no idea where she left it. I had bought her a picture of Shirdi Sai and thought she put that in her bag and that was where she must have lost it. Just when we were getting bent and thinking what to do there was a knock on the door. It was the hotel security guard she left her purse in the lobby of the hotel. WOW –saved and nothing missing. I told her to be careful and that we should be lucky that the only thing we lost was the Shirdi picture I bought her. No sooner than I said that but the same Security guard knocked on the door and said Sir we found this in the Lobby bathroom is it yours ? Such is life with Bhav.
Monday to me always means abisheikam when I am in Bangalore. Something amazing about watching a devout soul go about his business worshipping his maker. Kasey was down for the event, He sat way up front right in front of Gopal Baba and gave him padnamascar as he came in. Swami was very giving with me and spent a good deal of time with me after Abisheikam. Most importantly he set up our whole trip to Shirdi.
Shirdi is going to be a pilgrimmage– because of roads and monsoon season —it will be 5 hours from Bombay. The head priest at the temple is a devotee of Gopal Baba. He called him on my behalf. He said “My son is coming you take good care” !
Then he called the hotel owner that loves him and is right behind the temple. We will be staying there and get darsan from the inner sanctum Tuesday morning. I was planning to leave Bhav behind since Kasey and I are flying out after that but this is a once in a lifetime experience for Amma-Kuts. I am going to buy her a roundtrip ticket to Bombay and back so she can stay extra time with Satchu after the Shirdi Darsan.
Kasey continues to impress with his sweetness. We were shopping for gifts for everyone. Kasey spent 30 minutes (at least ) chosing a ring for his mother. He must have changed his mind 20 times. Not only that he insisted on bringing the ring to Abisheikam to get it blessed by Gopal Baba. Too sweet.
Shirdi should be eventful, Swami said this is an important stop for me….
We came back from Puttaprthi to Bangalore. Kasey and I took a nice long swim at the pool of the Oberoi, our favorite spot and we have always had it to ourselves. Kasey and I have started numbering Amma’s stories for ease of use.
I met with my dear friend Ravi, who has been my partner and brother for the last 10 years. He has taught me more about India, the vedas, hinduism, and Indian culture as anyone on the planet. He also has a beautiful Lakshmi temple in Jayanagar that he has built and maintained for over 20 years. He is an aviation expert and has launched a huge deal servicing and maintaining all Airbus planes, he is also a Indian political king maker I got the update on the political landscape. We went for a private puja at the temple.
The temple is beautiful. We had the priest do a private puja and homa for us. When the priest is doing a homa for you he needs to know three things : Your name, Your nakshatra (moon constellation), and your Gothram (family lineage).
You should all know all three of those things if you plan on going to temples in India. If you don’t I have it for you since I ran astrological charts on all of you. All of our lineage is that of our illustrious father – V-money – Sri Vatsa.
Amma-kuts tried to cheat and Ravi caught her. Amma wants everyone to think she is Bharadwaj Gothram because her father was, and so was Adi Shankara by the way….On that fateful day when AK married V-money she became Sri Vatsa like all of us. You have to give the Gods the right address to deliver the blessings :-).
We went to Ravi’s house and met his kids – twin girls who are 16 (Aneeha and Aneela) and his son who is 20 (Anurud). They are all doing great in school, Kailee met the twin girls 10 years ago ! They have a thriving jewelry business, I bought some beautiful earrings from them that they designed and made ! Kasey got on great with them.
We did some shopping – man Bangalore has become a metropolis ! More later…
My day began (very early) by a piercing query….”Dad who do you love more, me or God ? you can’t say same.” How does a six year old child break things down to the bare root of all matters…After a thirty minute discussion of souls, and God inside, and God power – I finally decided I love my kids more because they make me realize how great God is. By the way who do you love more Kasey ? Ohhh good answer 🙂
The ayyar trio has darsan down to a science — we have great seats and can get there late but Baba is hard to track down ! They need some Plasma screens in Sai Kalwant Hall ! Kasey and I got an extra treat as after He went into the Bhajan room He came out the back door and was on the far right of the veranda right in front of us chatting away with a teacher. Kasey was upset he couldn’t give his picture to him – but we are going to mail it to him.
India has a weird way of bringing out the negotiator in you no matter how small the amount. Kasey and I had lunch at the Sai towers, he ordered a veggie burger with mustard and wanted mayonnaise, they gave him a dollop of salad dressing and charged me 20 rupees extra. I had to let them know how wrong this was. After 10 minutes and explaining to the manager what the issues were and how to run his business i paid the extra 20 rupees (.50 cents). Way to go Uncle Kanna. Kasey didn’t eat the sandwich anyway.
Kasey got to meet Kannaih’s two lovely daughters 4 and 6, Sai Poojita and Sai Rajeshwari. (Beautiful pictures !!) Oh how fun was this watching an American kid interact with two sweet telegu shy girls. Kasey wrote their names with them spelling it, Sai Rajeswari is 3 months younger than Kasey and basically doing 2nd grade work, writing whole sentences in english and doing addition, subtraction, multiplication….how behind is the American K-12 education system ? Kasey left them and said whew Dad she is smart and younger than me.
I caught up with my sister Jaishree Menon, who is still doing real estate in Parthi which is going up, up, up. I hope she gets it all back as she has been struggling for many years.
I gave Amma-kuts a mission to get Kasey’s addition table up thru 10 completely done and memorized, they have been working on it hours a day – Kasey has gotten so good – working on speed now, when they get in a fight it is sooo funny.
8-8-08. Eight is an auspicious number in Numerology. To the chinese it is very auspicious that is why they started the Olympics today. When it comes on a Friday it is even more so. Being in Parthi is always amazing and introspective because of the energy from Baba, seeing that energy through the eyes of an amazingly spiritual six year old, and a selfless and pure 71 year old (albeit dizzy – more on that later) is unbelievable !!
Baba is so busy with his amazing projects he has very little time for Darsan and interviews unless you are part of his great projects – doctors and the hospitals, educators and the schools, business men supporting his water projects and other endeavors, luckily through sreenivas we have a little access. He gave us VIP chits. I told him specifically that Amma -even though she gave his note last time (August 2006)- did not get first row and I really wanted her to. It worked – Amma-kuts had the best Darsan of her life Friday morning with her getting front row and Swami making direct eye contact and smiling. Amazing, I got her on video after the Darsan she was floating.
Meanwhile me and Kasey have our Darsan experience down. In the morning Swami comes out at about 9. We get to VIP line at 7:30 get our seats – they gave us first row (Kasey right behind me) and we put our pillows down and then go get tiffin (tiffin is an indian word meaning “vallina” milk shake :-).
Unfortunately Swami did not come on the Men’s side so we heard glorious bhajans. After morning Darsan we could not find Amma-Kuts. She strolled in 30 minutes later – she had lost her shoes !? Worse yet she had a token – number 9 where she “checked” her shoes. I told her “Amma I have been to Parthi 50 times – they will never check in shoes, only bags, cellphones, scarves etc that someone brought by mistake…” – she promised me she checked them in then could not find the check in counter … Don’t worry Amma i have more shoes …
Afternoon darsan – I told Amma to get her chit ready – Kasey yelled at me don’t say the S word to Grandma. No Kasey Chit not Shit. Too funny !
Afternoon Darsan – again Amma got First row (those of you that know the womens side know this is incredible) right on Swami’s main path from his residence ! Again after Darsan she could not find her shoes !!
I cannot make this stuff up ! I have two precious kids with me and its my job to take care of them both and make sure they have nothing to worry about- Don’t worry Amma I have more shoes.
At night we had a SPECIAL treat – My good friend Kannaih works at the hospital and is a local boy so he knows everyone. He took us to see Swami’s new baby elephant Sathya-Gita, after everything was closed, not just to see but to play with and tickle and feed and kiss. AMAZING VIDEO I have of Amma-kuts and Kasey playing with this divine creature.
It is incomprehesible the maturity and understanding of Indian culture that Kasey has picked up. Whether it comes to Darsan manners, meeting and greeting a holy person, or just interacting on the street. He took coconut prasadam from the Ganesha temple, took it to my friend Sheriff at Sai towers, asked him to cut it up and is feeding it to the poor !! OMG. I mean OMFG !!
Kasey and Amma have redefined my Satsang. Kasey who knows the Hanuman story verbatim after watching a movie about it 100 times asked an interesting question which spawned a 45 minute discussion (some I caught on video) which was priceless.
“Who is stronger Hanuman or Krishna ?” and you can’t say same. WOW what a lively discsussion. It ended up with Hanuman being stronger but Krishna being “smarter”. Remember it all has to make sense to a six year old 🙂
Kasey drew a great picture of Baba with a heart on it ands was upset he could not give it to Swami in the person… May have to cut Parthi short as I have a business meeting in Bangalore Saturday nite, we will see.
I told Kasey he was going to meet and get to know the three Baba’s on his trip to India – Gopal Baba, Sai Baba , and Shirdi Baba. He has been wearing the necklace that Priya gave him with Sai Baba on one side and Shirdi Baba on the other … Smiles and Love
Today we spent in Bangalore and Shankar took baby Kasey bowling ! Kasey and grandmother are honestly like two peas in a pond. Kasey loves her so dearly but gets so annoyed and almost treats her like a rival – especially when it comes to sweets. Today we had an all out war on whether Grandma ate 2 or 3 orange cream cookies. And when Grammy tells Kasey the same story more than once – he blows a top. Too funny…
I spent 3 hours with C. Sreenivas today. He is on Swami’s trust and so dear to Swami it is amazing. He told me about the big projects going on and also gave me a glimpse of the issues that Swami has with maintaining the quality and funding comittment for his projects. Hope fully we can work out a role for Kanna bond.
We went to dinner with at Shankars house and Kasey got to meet all his cousins – Aditya and Aparna. Shankars kids (14 and 16). Both are really tall and athletic – such sweet kids ! We also saw Lalli and her youngest son Karthic 18 years – 2nd year at college. Kasey was having an amazing time.
We will go to Parthi tonite for Darsan with Swami.