Thursday, December 29, 2016

The books of 2016

I would pick up a book and start reading.  I would read and read and read, maybe for two or three months.  I wouldn't want to give up on it just yet.  Let me try for a few more days, I would think.  And then, finally, I would just end the misery.  A hundred pages into the book, maybe, and I would never set eyes on the rest.  The scarring would be so deep that I wouldn't take any more books for the rest of the year.  And then, the year end, and new year resolutions and the cycle would repeat again.  I was embarrassed and hurt.  I wasn't like this.  I would read a lot in my school days as well as in my Engineering days.  It's just that with the advent of the internet, and YouTube and host of other streaming sites, the amount of distraction had increased manifold that I couldn't invest my time in books with the same amount of focus that I had in the past.  In spite of the many bleak reading years, I would still complete one or two books in a year and those were mainly fiction.

Personally, I was fed up of giving the excuse, "I just can't read anymore.  I used to read a lot in my college days." I realized that that was the lamest excuse I gave to others when discussing reading habits.  I could as well have said, "I have lost interest in reading books.  I just read snippets online and watch movies and series, one after the other." I could also not bring myself to say, "I have no time." The "not reading" habit was also affecting me emotionally.  I wanted to read but couldn't get myself to read books.  The feeling of not completing a book hurt a lot.  Only a fellow reader can understand what I was going through.

And then, after many years of huffing and puffing, in 2016, I set myself a pretty ambitious goal of completing 12 books by the end of the year.  I started with a couple of parenting books, then biographies, a couple in fiction and lots of non-fiction.  A couple of books later, I had got myself into a rhythm.  My TV time reduced a lot.  As soon as we put our son to sleep, we would quickly finish our evening chores and I would get into a world of my own.  It was my time.  I didn't want to waste watching TV or browsing useless stuff on the internet.  It was magical (not a hyperbole).  I could understand what makes Elon Musk tick.  What exactly happened to Christopher McCandless in Alaska? How to treat infants and toddlers with love and respect? The most riveting and emotionally draining book I read was When breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi.  It was simply fantastic.  By the end of the book, I was literally in tears.  I read some really inspiring mountaineering experiences - climbers summiting Everest and K2.  I read about three or four novels. By the end of the year, I realized that I had totally grown out of fiction.  It didn't interest me as much as it did in the past.

Overall, I was happy to be back in the midst of books.  I also realize that there is a lot of time to do things that you really like.  After a point, reading was like an addiction.  I just wanted to keep going.  The target was 12.  But, by the end of the year, I had read 25.  Here goes my list of books that I read in 2016.

I hope 2017 can be as enriching as 2016 as far as reading is concerned. 

Friday, December 02, 2016

Pre and post 2014 travel thoughts

It was some time ago, when my blog would have a couple of posts every year dedicated to travel.  Now, unless it is absolutely mandatory for me to travel, I don't take it up and so my travel posts have dried up as well (It's ironical that my last post was on my Amsterdam business travel, but I guess you get the drift).

Earlier, my wife and I would make detailed plans before visiting a place.  Naturally, we ended up visiting a lot of beautiful places in the world.  Travel changes you as a person - so many cultures to learn, different kinds of people to meet, taste different cuisines, explore beautiful landmarks, experience the local transport and learning day to day aspects of how people go about their lives.  The whole experience is truly fascinating.

When we explored Alaska, it was just breathtaking.  We thought we'd never see something as beautiful.  I mean how nature could be so pristine and welcoming was so hard to fathom for us, having come from densely populated areas.  Then, our next big trip was New Zealand and Bora Bora.  It was as though New Zealand was taking a dig at us - Do you think Alaska is the only place to offer something surreal? Bora Bora took us to a different level.  And then you realize that each place with its unique permutation and combination of mountains, hills, water and greenery, can offer its unique surreal experience.

Now, the priorities have changed.  We have a toddler at home.  Going to the nearby Target or Safeway feels like a vacation.  We do have to plan now, but on a different level.  How many diapers to take, how to stock our bags with toddler food, how to engage him if he gets bored (which means, you pack some toys in there) and so on.  It's a different ball game.  Apart from the mandatory India trip, we don't plan a lot of travel.  Just the sheer magnitude of things to consider is daunting.

Our day to day life is consumed with thoughts of how to go about managing our day (read son).  Like I said in one of the earlier posts, our routine is so well established that any deviation from the norm leads to all round chaos.  At this stage, we just don't want that.  I say this to my wife, "Travel can wait.  Let's give ourselves a couple of years more." I am not sure if that's the right approach.  But then, it's best to enjoy travel when you are mentally ready for it.

We just have to head out of the house, sit in the car and one of us would quip "Looks like we have to change his diaper." If that's not the case, then that would be the instant when he would want to sip his water bottle, which he would have thrown it to the ground.  And after throwing all the tantrums for a sip, he would again throw the bottle and the process would repeat, again and again and again until we reach the store.  We would reach the store and he would get on the shopping cart, get into all kinds of positions, some risky and some mind bending.  Every trip is an adventure.  When I say trip, I meant every trip to a grocery store or nearby.

Now, we just love to see all the theatrics that our son has up his sleeve.  It's fascinating to see his day to day progress, soak up his tantrums, cherish the love and affection that he displays time and again and explain the little things that arouses his curiosity.  This for us is more than what any travel can do for us.  There are different stages in life and life becomes great when you realize the expectations at each stage.  At this stage, we wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

So, coming to the point of travel, if somebody asks me about seeing new places, this is what I'd say "Oh, it's just the permutation and combination of mountains, hills, water and greenery." :-)

We'll travel the world.  Till then we'll wait.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Europe, then and now

In the year 2005, I landed in the Stuttgart Airport with my colleague and friend to a pall of chill wintry winds slapping our faces.  The snow flakes were flying thick and fast.  People back in Bangalore had advised me to take thick jackets and be wary of the snow.  "It's going to be cold at this time of the year", they said with the same expression as some of the characters in Game of Thrones say, "Winter is coming."  I was nervous.  Those days, I used to be nervous about everything.  So, I had packed long winter jackets, woolen caps, woolen socks, shoes that weighed a few tons, and thermal ware.  When I say I was packed, I mean it.  I had a check in baggage which contained all kinds of food items.  "I don't know what you'll get there.  I have also put some rice and lentils in there", she told me.

The canal running through Amsterdam
It was my first international travel experience.  I had a lot of apprehension and excitement in visiting Europe.  Somehow, Europe is a dream destination for everyone, what with the rich cultural heritage and traditions.  Europe evokes awe.  So, naturally, I was excited.  The kind of travel advice I was getting from colleagues was quite funny.  "You know a few strands of coriander costs 1€." I didn't know how important that information was, but I took it in.  I was advised about the S-Bahns and the U-Bahns, about the public transport in general, the general way of life, and so on.  Anyway, a lot of it was good advice that helped me soak in the European experience.  We traveled to a couple of different countries around Germany and overall, it was a lot of fun.  Those days, I was working in Bosch, probably the most respected company in Europe and even more so in Germany.  During travel in the trains, I would randomly be asked by the authorities to pull out my passport  for verification.  And as soon as they saw the Bosch ID card tucked in, they would feel guilty of even questioning me, "Oh, you are from Bosch.  You don't have to pull out your passport." When I narrated this experience to friends, they would say, "Yeah, it happens all the time.  We are Asians.  This won't be the last time." They were true that it wasn't the last time.  But about the Asian part, I don't know.  In the US, and in the bay area, something like this is unheard of.  The Indian and Chinese population is so well integrated with the rest of the society in the bay area that something like this happening is not even imaginable.  

Coming from India, I always found the calm and quiet way of life a bit disconcerting.  I was so used to seeing people back home.  Evenings after 6PM were generally quiet.  Not many people on streets, shops were shut at 6 PM.  On Saturdays, they closed at 4PM.  On Sundays, practically nothing was open.  This was in Stuttgart, one of the main cities of Germany.  So, I could imagine how the not so big cities would be.

After about 11 years, I am on a business visit to Europe, this time to Eindhoven, about an hour from Amsterdam in Netherlands.  Unlike last time, this time, our trip was planned just a couple of days before the actual departure date.  I did not carry most of the stuff I carried with me the first time.  What with having lived most of my last ten years outside India, I was more confident and sure of myself.  International travel was no more a black box.

High Tech Campus, Eindhoven
We spent a day exploring the city.   The air was wet thanks to the incessant drizzle.  For me, the weather is never important when exploring a new place.  I feel that whatever may be the conditions, one has to enjoy the setting.  Amsterdam is really beautiful.  The canals pass through the city at different places with streets along the canals decked with restaurants and houses.  It was fun walking around aimlessly.  Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe and I could see why. We were hunting for lunch on Sunday and found that most of the restaurants opened only at 5 PM and the rest opened at around noon.  We had a good meal in an Indonesian Restaurant. Even though Germany and Netherlands are two different countries, there is a general commonality that cannot be missed - the calmness, history and heritage.

Then, we moved to Eindhoven, where the population is pretty sparse compared to Amsterdam.  When we reached Eindhoven, it was about 615 PM on a Sunday.  The city was practically empty.  We went to the High Tech Campus Area the next day.  My colleague who was travelling with me told me that the tech area had not changed at all in the last ten years.  Previously, it was occupied by Philips, but now, it was a bunch of companies grouped in the area.  It was ironic because the landscape of Asia and the US has changed considerably in ten years.  It is like time freeze, my friend said.  One of the local guys told us that even though the landscape was the same, the jobs number was good now.  We noticed that the cost of food was very high.  A decent dinner cost a person about 25€.

Fake Tulips on flower street
My stay in the Netherlands is only for a week, but the last time I was in Europe, I was here for about a couple of months.  I found the general calmness in the air a bit unnerving.  After staying in the bay area, with people always loitering around late in the evenings, there is always a buzz in the air.  I kind of miss that here even now.  In the bay area, I have never looked up Google to see if a restaurant would be open at 6 on Sunday evenings.  Even at 9PM on a Sunday evening, I can go to a Safeway or a Target to buy a gallon of milk.  Something like that is unthinkable here.

Things have changed considerably in the last 11 years.  I was single, ready to put in long days in Germany for work purpose.  A work extension did not worry me too much.  It was fun exploring different parts of Europe.  Now, that's changed, what with having to leave behind my wife and toddler.  My mind was constantly pegged to how my wife was handling my son, whether he was missing me and a million other things as a parent.  We had to put in long hours so that we could take the earliest flight back home, even if that meant coding and debugging for 24 hours straight.

The most popular mode of transport
My wife and I always dream of exploring different places in the world.  It's a fascinating experience.  We even think that we should have a stint in Europe for a couple of years.  I don't know if that would be possible, but I would love to explore Europe with my family and experience the laid back lifestyle that is just not imaginable in the bay area.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The reason

Nadeem looked into her eyes.

"Are you sure?", he asked with a glint in his eye.  "Or are you trying to trick me?"

"No, I am not kidding.  Look at this strip." Banu offered the smudged test strip to her husband.

Nadeem did not even have to strain his eyes to look at the two lines on the strip.  The two dark blue lines were clearly visible.  More than shock, he was utterly confused.

"How can it happen?", he asked her.  "We were super careful, isn't it?"

"I don't know", her voice quivered.

Five years ago, when Nadeem and Banu were getting married in a rather unconventional way at the marriage registration bureau, he had clearly told her that he did not want to have kids.  He had warned her.  Repeatedly.  In no uncertain terms.  He had explained his position as clearly as he could.
And during every single intimate moment, they never forgot.

"It was lucky you found me", Banu would say.  "Even I am not particular about kids.  Else you would never have found a woman for life."

Nadeem would break into a grin.  "I don't care."

Nadeem had seen the unwavering selfless commitment required by parents to raise kids.  He knew it was no easy task.  He felt there was no way that he could do any justice as a parent.  He had always thought of himself as a selfish person.  To show selfless, unconditional love towards anyone was not his way of life.  He had seen how his mother had raised him, his three brothers and two sisters.  He didn't even want to relive how much she had to endure to put her family in a comfortable situation.

In fact, Nadeem and Banu were asked the question many a time at family gatherings.

"Are you guys still not planning to have a child?", Nadeem's mother would ask.

"No, mom.  You can ask me repeatedly.  But, the answer is still no.  Nothing's changed."

"Why are you so adamant?", his uncle would pop the question.

The questioning from friends and family was relentless.

Fast forward to today, Nadeem couldn't still believe what he was hearing.

"What do you want to do? I want to have this child", Banu said.  She feared the worst.

"Don't worry.  We are going to have this child", said Nadeem.

Banu looked surprised.  But, she didn't ask any further questions lest her husband changes his mind.  She left it at that.

At the next family gathering, Nadeem and Banu conveyed the news to the family members.  All of them were pleasantly surprised, and of course, totally confused.  Nadeem's mother was truly baffled.  She knew her son very well.  Once he decided on something, nothing in the world would bring him to change his decision.  It was a quality he had imbibed from her.

"So, what made you change your mind?", she asked her son.

"It's true that we never wanted to have kids.  We were careful at every step.  But, in spite of all our efforts, if this child had the will to beat all the odds, then I think we should respect the strength and the will of the child to stay alive.  So, he or she deserves to live.  I can't fight destiny."

Everyone remained silent for a few seconds after Nadeem provided the explanation.  His mother was lost for words.  Tears were rolling down her cheek.

"Mom, why are you getting so emotional?", Nadeem asked.

"You have not changed at all.  Even as a kid you were like this", she said.

"Back in those days, in Iran, the ants used to hunt down the honey and help themselves to oodles of it.  The honey bottles would be filled with ants.  In order to beat the ants, we used to store the honey in bottles suspended in water in a large tank.  That way the ants wouldn't be able to walk across the water to get to the honey.  One morning, when we removed the bottle from the tank and opened it, we found a solitary ant inside the bottle.  One solitary ant.  I was about to take the ant out and crush it.  But then, you stopped me and said.  "Mom, if this ant could risk its life, cross the water and get into an air-tight bottle to get to the honey, it means it really needs the honey.  Let it go.  Let it have the honey." I still remember the day.  I don't know if you do."

"You used the same logic today with your child."

[Based on a lunch conversation with a colleague]

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The idea of it

I've wanted to do many things in life and at different stages.  Since education was enforced upon me at an early age, I really thought that my parents were doing a big disservice to me.  I would rebel.  Why should I study? Why can't I play all day? were questions I would pose to my parents.  In India, at least when I was growing up, I didn't have too many options.  First, you had to become an engineer and then figure out what you wanted to do in life. 

Over a period of time, you realize that you had to do something with total dedication to pursue your interests.  I used to envy the cricketers.  Wow, they are doing something that they really like.  I wish I could be like them.  Then, one fine day, my friends and I decided that we will play everyday in the early mornings.  We followed rigorously for a day or two before one after the other started dropping out on some pretext or the other.  And then after some days, nobody even spoke about early morning cricket routines.  My mother was very keen that my brother learn Carnatic music.  My brother has a gift for music.  But then, everything requires dedication and practice.  After some days, I don't have to say, but I think you get the point.  

Like I said in one of my earlier posts, the fact that everything turns into a routine at some stage does not help.  Being a cricketer feels easy, but hardly so.  Otherwise, everyone would have turned into a Tendulkar or Kohli.  It's just that the idea of doing something different feels good than the prospect of actually doing it.

 Often, I get into one of these introspective moods.  It doesn't do any good to me, and when I reveal what I think, it certainly doesn't please my wife.  There are many who think before they speak.  I certainly don't belong in this category.  

It was a couple of years ago.  I was telling my wife, "I am thinking.." Even before I could complete the sentence, she cut me off.  "This time, what?"

Wait till you listen to me, I said as though I was an epitome of thought and patience.

"Violin is such an awesome musical instrument, isn't it?", I said.

Knowing me, she asked in a puzzled voice.  "Okay, what are you thinking?"

"I want to enroll in a class.  I want to channel my inner musical voice to do something meaningful.  I don't have the ability to sing.  But, I feel, I will be able to do justice in learning to play a musical instrument", I said in a manner of "yes, I have made my decision" kind of confidence.  

"Do you know that the violin is probably the toughest musical instrument to learn?", she said as a matter of fact.

When a statement like that comes up, it becomes a personal challenge to prove her wrong.  

"Oh, I have always dreamed of playing the violin since childhood.  Don't discourage me now.  You have no idea how dedicated I will be.  In a couple of days, I will find the best violin teacher.  Wait and watch", I challenged her.

She let out a sigh.  "Praveen, you like the idea of playing a violin.  You don't actually want to play one.  Trust me."

So, I scaled the internet to find a violin teacher about ten miles from our residence.  I made an appointment.  My wife and I went to her place the next day in the evening.  

"Please watch me teach my students for half an hour.  And then, you can go home, think and then decide if you really want to learn the violin" was what she told me."

I wanted to blurt out, "No madam.  I am definitely interested."

My wife preempted my thoughts.  "Okay madam.  We will do as you say." We exchanged glances.

She had two students with her.  She was helping them with the posture.  "You should know how to hold the violin", she said.

And these were students who have been practicing with her for a couple of months.

And then, they followed the teacher's notes.  There were many jarring notes, obviously.   They played with excruciating difficulty.  It looked really hard.  I immediately felt that it required tons and tons of dedication and hard work.  It's not something I felt I could master easily.  

We stayed for about half an hour.  Then, we thanked the teacher and left.

"What do you think?", my wife asked me.  "Will you be able to handle that?"

"I think I can", I said with confidence evaporating faster than a drop of water in the Sahara.  

My wife smiled.  "You like the idea of playing a violin."

She left me at that.  

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Kindled Spirit

It's been a while since I graduated to e-books.  There is a massive amount of convenience associated with reading on a Kindle.  I don't have to toss and turn and adjust my position a thousand times when I turn the page.  And then, I don't have to listen to my wife who would tell me in no uncertain terms, albeit in a sleepy voice, "Praveen, please switch off the light" even if there was no more than a few lumens emitting out of the poor lamp.  I would sigh, sulk, and be tempted to get into an argument.  But then, I would still do the same things with just a little bit of difference.  I would sulk, sigh and switch off the light, and get to sleep and start browsing on my mobile phone.  There are other disadvantages associated with a physical book.  When I fall asleep, I would have no clue as to which page I was on when my eyes drooped.  So, I would have to rely on my memory to figure out the context and land myself in the vicinity of where I intended to be.  That was truly painful.  Of course I can wax eloquent about how beautiful it is to hold a book in your hands and feel the texture of the pages and smell the pages of a freshly minted book in a bookstore.  That can never be experienced in a Kindle but the other advantages far outweigh the hard copy.  And if the hard copy is really a big, fat, hard copy, then the light weighted Kindle is definitely a no brainer.

Anyway, I did not mean to write about the advantages of a Kindle over a hard copy when I started the post.  It's a different matter altogether that if I had written a post on the same topic a few years ago, I would have fought tooth and nail on the advantages of a hard copy. As always, I digress. I don't have to say how much my reading has dwindled over the years.  I always feel that the student days are the best days in your life.  There is so much time to read all and sundry.  During those days I used to think, "How I wish I am past the student life.  I'd have so much time to read books." Somehow, I would always (I should have put the "always" in caps actually) find an interesting book to read a day before a test or an exam.  I would put it off for a later date.  Magically, after the exams got over, I wouldn't find the book as interesting.  There was something magical about exams and distraction. All the great things happened during the exam season.  India's greatest ever test win happened a day before my Signals and Systems exam.  My brain was convoluted with thoughts of the test match and here I was trying to figure out the concept of Convolution in the exam.

Anyway, this was well before the internet era.  And then as other distractions caught up with my life, my reading was limited to what I'd find on the internet.  In the pre-internet era, I would read every tiny piece of every news article, including the editorials and op-eds of the Deccan Herald and the Times of India.  I would learn some new words, look into the dictionary and figure out the meaning.  It was a fascinating experience.  In the process, I also cultivated a bad habit.  I would sit on the floor during meal times and I would always have a newspaper by my side while eating.  My mother would yell at me but to no avail.  Even today, I have the urge to keep my laptop or Kindle by my side during meal times.  It's a very bad habit.

I am not sure how many read a long form article on the internet though (like in a New Yorker).  Recently, my friend was talking about active and passive watching  Active watching, he said is watching informative documentaries, while passive watching he said is useless stuff.  I think the same thing applies to reading as well.  Reading a gossip column on the internet would hardly qualify as reading.

One of the things I love being here in the US is the public library system.  The public libraries are truly phenomenal. I have a membership in at least three of them.  Actually, a membership in one is more than sufficient.  But, there is something exquisite about visiting libraries.  It's just an awesome feeling to step into a library, see a lot of kids running around with as many books as their hands can hold, and people standing in lines at the information desk asking questions about why their hold copies cannot be found or something as trivial as "Where do I find this book?" when you have at least five computers to help you search and find a copy of a book at a particular location.  For me, visiting a library is like visiting a shrine at the temple.  It's a devotional experience.  It just puts you in a different state of mind.  Anyway, I would go to a terminal, see the recommended books at the library, find one of interest and then find my way to the appropriate shelf to pick the hard copy of the intended book.  Like I said, for all the convenience of the Kindle, the feeling of holding a book in your hand is absolutely priceless.  I would browse around, pick about three or four books for the next three weeks.  My wife would do the same.  And then, we would pick a few more books for the little fellow.  My wife and I would grin at each other.  There is no way in the world that we are finishing so many books in three months, let alone in three weeks.  But then, it's good to have as many books as you can at home.  Even if you end up reading just a few pages in one of the books, I think it's still worth it to get the many books home.  You never know what you find until you start reading a book.  At any given point, I'd always have books on the hold list for e-books as well as hard copies.

There is the convenience of the Kindle but at any given point, our place always has e-books as well as physical copies.  At the end of the day, I'd always want to have books that I haven't read.  Even at the tiniest minuscule of time, if I feel like reading, I feel I shouldn't be in a situation wherein my lack of choice puts a hold on my reading, even if my reading lasts only for a few minutes.  Because, it's a great way to fall asleep holding an unfinished book instead of a mobile phone.

Friday, January 29, 2016


Days go by.  Months sail past.  Years fly by.  The one thing that remains constant is the daily routine.  You can change your routine once in a while, but when you try to stick to the change, that becomes yet another routine.  Oh, I should go to the gym thrice a week.  I should be reading daily.  I should be learning some new stuff.  I should write blog posts regularly.  All this is fine, but eventually, you've contributed to a routine.  So, I've realized that there is no escaping routine.

There are other things that keep me and my wife busy.  Rather, there is just one person who keeps us on our toes.  He is our, little older than a year, infant.  It's amazing how life changing a close to three feet tall fellow can be.  A few years ago, when I was getting married, one of my ex-colleagues told me, "Praveen, marriage is a life changing event, no doubt.  But then, you are two adults.  You will find a way to work things out together.  Wait till you have a baby.  That's what is truly a life changing event."  We didn't realize how true the statement was until we had our child.

Now, with the little fellow, we still have a routine.  With both of us working, having a routine is probably the best thing in life.  Anything out of the ordinary, anything that kills our routine kills our peace of mind.  The days are jam packed, starting at 5 AM and ending at 9 PM.  And then, we indulge in 40 minutes to one hour of Netflix or Amazon.  One hour.  That's it.  I am not kidding.  Sometimes, we don't even wait to watch the full episode.  We stop watching at some point.  By the time we finish, on most days, I would see my wife close her eyelids and say, "Praveen, let's continue tomorrow." Late nights for us end at 11 PM.  There is no luxury of late night binge watching.  One, we don't have the energy.  Two, we have to get up early in the morning, come what may.  In spite of that, I try to eke out some time for some things I just cannot miss, like watching the Federer Djokovic semi-final game a couple of nights ago.  Those days are rare though.

Yes, there is a routine.  But there are so many moments in the day that make the whole thing so worthwhile.  Taking care of a baby is stressful - mentally as well as physically.  The fact that we are responsible for shaping an individual's life can be overwhelming.  How do we make him eat better, how do we get him to sleep on time, what are the kind of activities we should engage with him, what are the books to read to him, what are the parenting books to read, how do we combat his cold and a million other things stick as a part of the daily schedule.  There are times he would throw the food away for no reason.  It's easy to lose your cool.  "Why are you doing this?" I would say in a loud voice.  And again, he would throw.  Kids do some(most) things for no apparent reason.  And then, I'd realize, "At this point, there is only one person who can control his behavior."

But then, now and then, he would find something really funny.  He'd pick a toy from his toy cupboard, find an instant connect with a car or a plush toy, look at us and flash the most beautiful smile, a smile that can only come to an innocent child, rendering everything else around us absolutely insignificant.  You have several such moments during the day and these moments make the whole experience absolutely worthwhile.

I read a passage several months ago.  I keep going back to the passage because every word is etched out to create magical sentences.  The last sentence, I would have read a few hundred times.  Now, we can really feel the meaning of that sentence to the last letter.
"Forty weeks come down to a mother's first moment, and everything changes.  Crying keeps her awake, but silence is deafening.  She'll teach him to walk only to chase him out of the street, out of a tree, and out of harm's way.  Then suddenly time stands still; long days and endless nights morph into years and as other mothers are chasing their babies, her baby is driving away.  The mathematics of motherhood: Days that last forever add up to years that pass in the blink of an eye."
In the midst of the routine, we find moments filled with boundless happiness and small joys sweeping aside the monotony that creeps into our everyday lives.