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Shantabai Ananthula née Macherla

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I’m so heartbroken. Just when I started recovering from this terrible flu season, a grevious loss occurred in my maternal family. On Wednesday, January 24th my Aunt Shanta passed away. Shanta Peddamma was amazing and she was the light of the Macherla and Ananthula families. I remember the beautiful glow in her face, her big eyes and that addictive laughter. The second sister of seven wonderful sisters and she was such a blessed role model for everyone that knew her. I have so many memories of visits and sleepovers at Salimnagar, how Shanta Peddamma always put flowers in dad’s ear and how she helped plan so many family events. She helped match so many wonderful couples in our family together. I even remember how in 2015 when I went to India, we had Pelli Choopulu at her house in Salimnagar. It was quite interesting meeting matches and she was the mediator for me that trip.  But the best of my memories of her were during my engagement and wedding events how wonderful she was and how much she took care of everything. I remember the morning of my engagement party that all my Peddamma’s and my Mani Atha came to the hotel. They helped get all the gifts for Saikiran and his family ready. I also remember the last date that I went to with my husband when we had gotten engaged and he came to the Salimnagar house to pick me up. We spent some quality time with Shanta Peddamma and everyone that was there that day. I remember the Pasupu Kottadam function and the rest of my pre-wedding events. I remember at my wedding she had one of the best seats on the stage so she could help coordinate all the rituals. It’s hard to believe that she’s gone. We all loved her and she definitely knew that. I will definitely miss her. Now we have three angels in heaven: Prabhu Mama, Pedha Peddamma and Shanta Peddamma and they will always be in our hearts for eternity.

Here’s a poem that I just wrote today in honor and memory of her.

We lost a beautiful woman, wife, mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, great-aunt and great-grandaunt ten days ago. She will forever be in our hearts and she might be gone but will never be forgotten. Thanks for everything that you have done for everyone in our family. I will miss you dearly as well as will everyone who loved you. Love you Shanta Peddamma. May Your Beautiful Soul Rest In Peace!

Thanksgiving 2017 in Dallas, Texas

This Thanksgiving weekend was just so amazing. It was one of the coolest times that I had ever spent with my paternal side of the family. We went to Dallas, TX on November 20 to have a blast at my niece Snigdha’s wedding to her fiancé Gautam. The wedding was scheduled for November 25, 2017. One thing that made it even more amazing for us to go to Dallas was that now, two of  my maternal cousins were now living there. So when we went to Snigdha’s wedding, I got to see everyone from my dad’s side of the family and I was finally able to meet one of nephews who I haven’t had a chance to meet yet. my sister was able to see one of our nieces who she last saw when we attended her first birthday.

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Telugu weddings like all Desi weddings have many events. And I can tell you that this wedding weekend was packed with many wonderful events. The events that we had were the Pellikuthuru function, the surprise triple twenty-fifth anniversary party, Sangeet/Mehendi/Garba, Kotnam, Wedding, Reception, and an event that Gautam’s family called the Mooh Dikhai.

We had the Pellikuthuru function which is the bride-making ceremony and Snigdha’s Pellikuthuru was an amazing first for me. Since I had gotten married in 2016, Snigdha’s wedding was the first wedding I attended. I was lucky enough to be able to be one of married women who got to anoint the bride with Haldi and do all the rituals that we Telugu peeps do for a Pellikuthuru function. In this wedding ritual at the bride and grooms’ respective houses, there is a gathering of all the relatives and well wishers. They then anoint their skin with a mixture of flours, turmeric powder and oils. This is done to cleanse the skin, so that a natural glow is there. All of us married women did Aarti for Snigdha. Mom and I sang Jaya Jaya Harathi Janaki Devaki. Then it was time for lunch and a quick dance practice.

Little did three wonderful couples in our family know that we had a wonderful surprise for them on Thanksgiving Day. You see everyone in the family was in on this unique surprise party. 2017 was a year of memorable anniversaries in our family. Three of my cousins were celebrating their 25th Wedding Anniversary. Two of these couples live in Dallas and the other couple live in Irvine, California. And all three couples had no clue what we had been planning. You see we were smart and said that Gautam’s family invited us for dinner on Thanksgiving night. That gave us time to get all the preparations done and just get ready to celebrate the love of all three couples. For me,  the anniversary plan was just so memorable for me and one of the couples. When I was 4 years old, I was the thodi pellikuthuru for my cousin Sridevi’s wedding to her husband Janardhan and she was behind me the whole time when I got married in 2016.

The next ceremony we had was the Sangeet Party/Mehendi Party where we presented an amazing dance program and whoever that wanted to get Mehendi got it. That night was memorable because the wedding planner ended up getting a nickname of guard dog because of how she was acting. Gautam’s side and our side ended up getting on the dance floor to do some Garba. Everyone that attended loved the bracelet and bindi table. It was fun getting new bindi packets and the bracelets were so beautiful. They were the kind that could double down as both a maang tikka and a bracelet. To tell you, I got one bracelet each for all three of us. Later that night Snigdha’s future mother-in-law came to us and told everyone to take more bindis and bracelets.

After the Sangeet Party we went upstairs to the Presidential Suite and did the Kotnam ceremony. That was another first for me because only married ladies got to do this ritual. It was fun seeing all my nieces watch the Kotnam ceremony. It brought back so many memories of my own wedding events. My poor back hurt when my Vadina’s started pounding me on the back when I was putting pasupu and oil on Snigdha. We sang the Aarti songs.

The next morning was the Pelli and we started off the rituals with the Gauri Pooja. And then it was baraat time. We were patiently waiting to see what Gautam’s side had in mind for the shoe stealing game. The highlight of the wedding was when Snigdha and Gautam were throwing rice at each other. You see Snigdha just picked up the rice bowl and threw the rest of the rice on Gautam’s head. Then after the wedding, everyone had lunch and then we all practiced our dances after changing into comfortable clothes. The reception was amazing and everyone was amazed at our dancing abilities. Our countless hours of dance practice paid off. We all spent the night on the dance floor.

The Mooh Dikhai was a treat to watch because it was the first time that we had ever seen one. This ritual helps to introduce the newlywed bride to members of her husband’s family! Each member of the groom’s family comes in turn to make an acquaintance with the new bride and shower her with gifts. The mother-in-law showers her with jewellery, clothes and money. The other close relatives of the family also offer her gifts and money. She had to hold onto their foot when they were giving her the gifts. Each of her husband’s brothers or cousin brothers picked her up and carried her.

Evading the Shadows by Rajesh Iyer

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This is definitely one of the coolest books that I have read in a long time. Everyone that writes stories that take place in the Mahabharata usually writes about the same subject. This book was so intriguing because it was written about the years of exile in the forest that the Pandavas and Draupadi spent. I loved the parts when all the Pandavas were trying to figure out which kingdom to stay in for their year in disguise. Very funny how poor Sahadeva was the one that the Kaurava spies almost caught but I enjoyed reading about how he was able to  outwit them. Poor Bhima and his anger almost got him caught out a few times. One of the spies even recognized Arjuna as Arjuna because of his scars from learning how to become the great archer that he was.  It talked about the spies that worked for the Pandavas. This story mentions the story about the people who worked as spies for the Kauravas. It was a wonderful and new take on the Mahabharat. This book even talked about a new character who was the brother of Purochan. I loved the part when all the Pandavas saw each other for the first time in their incognito disguises. It was very funny when nobody recognized Arjuna as Brihannala. I loved everything about this story and the spies on the Pandava side rocked. It was so funny when the young Pandava spy got drunk and told the new Kaurava spy exactly which kingdom the Pandavas were going to spend their thirteenth year in disguise. Ironically the head spy for the Kauravas didn’t believe the story and told the new spy to go to another kingdom. Thanks for such an awesome and wonderful story. This is definitely an author to watch. I can’t wait to read another book written by Rajesh M Iyer. Mr Iyer, please keep up the great work and good luck on all your future endeavors!

Christmas Eve 2016 The Double Dhamaka 😉😉😘😘😍😍🇮🇳🇺🇸

Well I’m sure that whoever reads my new blog post will be intrigued by the title. People that have followed my blog for the past two years would remember that I was born on Christmas Eve 1987. So why then in the title do I say the double dhamaka? Well, in 2016 one day I was home alone and I was chatting with my fiancé he surprised me with a shocker. The shocking news was that his parents and him had talked to the priests to match our horoscopes and drumroll please our perfect wedding muhurtum was December 24, 2016. Imagine my shock of finding out that I would be getting married on the same day as my 29th Birthday.

From the first moment that both sides of my family, my relatives, my family friends and my Hindu Temple of Atlanta family found out that I was getting married everyone was so excited. It was hard for me to find out that so many people that I loved my whole life couldn’t make it to my wedding. But since we chose to do a live webcast online everyone felt like they were there.

One of the biggest hopes for my wedding was that I truly wanted all of my maternal aunts/uncles to attend and bless me and my husband. It was truly a miracle and now looking back I am very grateful that all eight siblings of my mom were able to be there. Everyone later told me that they felt like the two siblings who passed away before I got married were there in spirit watching over us from heaven. It was a wonderful and blessed day!

I remember waking up on that day and listening to one of my favorite songs Wohi Din Aa Gaya. I took my shower with rose water and rose petals. Then, I waited for my Lakme wedding makeup artist to come over and get me ready for my wedding. An hour later, I was dressed like a beautiful traditional Telugu Pellikuthuru (bride for those of my readers who don’t understand or speak Telugu). Then, I was told to relax while everyone finished getting ready. I chose to get on my phone and catch up reading my WhatsApp messages and boy there were loads of Birthday, Wedding congratulations from friends, family, and family friends. A little while later, two of my maternal uncles came over with their wives to give my mom and dad some gifts. Since I wasn’t really busy with anything, we decided to take some pictures together.

Before I knew it, we were in the car driving to the hall where my wedding was going to be held. We got to the hall and I got to sit in the Pallaki and was carried into the wedding hall. Then it was time to meet my wonderful family wedding photographer. For the next hour, I had a photo shoot of various poses and I got to have many wonderful pics with close family members. I felt like a princess when I walked down the aisle carried in a Pallaki. While my niece’s threw flower petals and my cousin’s and sister held beautiful rose bouquets. Some of my family members were even dancing in front of me.

One of my fondest wedding memories is the Jeerakalla Bellamu you know when the curtain that separated the bride and groom from each other is removed after they each put a mixture of cumin seed and jaggery on each other’s head. Well when I first saw my husband on the day of our wedding, he looked at me and smiled said happy birthday beautiful. I thought he was so sweet when he did that.

One of the funniest moments was when we went home to change our clothes and cut my birthday cake. You see without talking to me my young nieces and nephews had a plan for the shoes and how much money they wanted my husband to give them before he was able to  take me to his house. You see the highlight of the Desi Wedding is the Joota Chupai or the shoe stealing game. The bride’s side steals the groom’s shoes and then the groom has to pay the bride’s side so he can take her away. The object of the game is to have fun. The game of the Joota Chupai is meant to show the acceptance and open hearts of both sides of the family and how willing and ready they are to share lifetime of laughter and fun together. I’m blessed to have these wonderful kids in my life. I even forgave them when they all finished every chocolate bar that my husband gave me for my birthday with a beautiful rose bouquet.

It was sad leaving my family and going to my in-law’s house. I was very emotional for various reasons you see just in May 2016 we lost my first maternal aunt Lalithabai Kosgi. She was an amazing person and I’m blessed to have known her my whole life. She was extra special to me because her first trip to America was right around the time that I was born. You see my mom and dad had kids later in life. They had almost given up hope that they would have kids and then they found out that their prayers were answered. I was born and everyone was so happy.

I have patiently waited a year for my husband to come to America and I’m so happy to say that now my long wait is almost over. In a little less than two weeks, my husband and I will reunite after a year of me being in America and him being in India. I can’t wait until we can finally start our new life together!

Sita’s Sister by Kavita Kane

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From the bestselling author of Karnas wife, comes this book about Urmila, Sitas sister and the neglected wife of Lakshman and one of the most overlooked characters in the Ramayana.

As Sita prepares to go into exile, her younger sisters stay back at the doomed palace of Ayodhya, their smiles, hope and joy wiped away in a single stroke. And through the tears and the tragedy one woman of immense strength and conviction stands apart – Urmila, whose husband, Lakshman, has chosen to accompany his brother Ram to the forest rather than stay with his bride. She could have insisted on joining Lakshman, as did Sita with Ram. But she did not. Why did she agree to be left behind in the palace, waiting for her husband for fourteen painfully long years?

– Flipkart

This book is about Urmila. A lesser known character in Indian mythology, who is mentioned mostly…

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The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere

Everyone that knows me knows that I am a bibliophile and I love to read. I was ecstatic to hear about a website where you can get free books that you are paid to review. So here is my first review. What made me choose to review The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere is the fact that it was a historical novel. Historical novels have always been one of my favorite books to read. From the first page of this book I was hooked, I surprised myself by reading it in a couple of hours and finished it before I left to go to work. This book is amazing and I loved how it’s about three sisters named Rosalyn, Julia, and Cara. The two main characters are Nate Moran and Rosalyn Bernay. A young woman named Rosalyn finds herself homeless and stranded in London.Rosalyn is an orphan who had to leave her last job because the man she worked for was trying to take advantage of her.  Her employer’s husband, Mr Huffman, accused her of theft when ironically he was the one that stole from his wife. Nate Moran is a young army sergeant who is recovering from a hand injury and filling in as a stagehand while his brother Patrick recuperates from a broken leg. When Rosalyn gets off a train in London two guys named Mick and Nate try to help her find a place she can stay. She doesn’t take their help but almost falls into a trap planned by Mick. Unfortunately, she naively believes that a elderly woman wants to help her by giving her a place to stay. The old lady actually is a madam of a brothel. She overhears Mick and the old lady talking about having Rosalyn become one of the girls in the brothel. She runs away only to have the old lady calling her a thief. She ends up finding herself in the Gilbert and Sullivan’s theater. She ends up getting a job at the theater first as a cleaner, then a dresser, and last as one of the singers. It was quite interesting when we met Rosalyn’s younger sister Julia who is about to move to London to go to medical school. Rosalyn’s youngest sister finally finds a job as a nanny. Julia ends up going  to visit  Rosalyn’s former employer, Mrs Huffman, and tells her the truth about why Rosalyn had to leave her job. Mrs Huffman, ends up having a police detective investigate her husband and gets back the jewelry that he pawned for his gambling debts. The book ends with a happy ending and Nate proposing marriage to Rosalyn.

An Apple Pie for a Duke- A very Romantic comedy (Delicious Regency Book 1)

An Apple Pie for a Duke- A very Romantic comedy (Delicious Regency Book 1) By Ruby Royce and Runnah von Spielfeldt

An Apple Pie for a Duke was written by Ruby Royce and Runnah von Spielfeldt and it is definitely an interesting romantic comedy. I loved the story and everything about it. I loved the Duke he was so amazing and it was so funny when Gigi fed the Duke’s horse some apple pie. The way that the two main characters fell in love was amazing. Every minute of this book was hilarious and had me captivated from page one. It was so funny when Dominic met Gigi’s father and how they first talked to each other. I loved how they decided to have a duel but when the father found out that he was Dominic he was like no my wife would kill me if I dueled you and your future wife would kill you if you dueled me. Also, it was very funny that Dominic believed the dog was a real person and that he was competition for him. I was so happy that I bought this book for my kindle. Amazing author. Good job on writing this story, Ruby! Keep up the great work in writing your stories! Good luck on all your future endeavors in story writing! You are an amazing author that writes amazing books. I will definitely buy the next free kindle books that you have written. Gigi was an intriguing kind of heroine. Dominic was such an amazing brooding hero.

No Escape from Love (The Penwood Legacy Book 2)

No Escape from Love (The Penwood Legacy Book 2) By B.L. Bierley

No Escape from Love is the second book in the Penwood Legacy series by B.L. Bierley. It was such an interesting book to read. I could not put this book down. I loved Russ and Admiral’s story. This wonderful new book reminds me of two of my favorite Shakespearean classics: Much Ado About Nothing and The Taming of the Shrew . It was hilarious how Russ and Admiral were caught. Bliss was wonderful. I loved how they went into the ship and the captain who was also Admiral’s father locked them up in the cabin room. It was funny when he said that he would not let them out until their marriage was real. I loved the plan they made to get rid of the French pirate and the ghost part was impressive. Thanks B.L. for another wonderful and well-written novel. Keep up the great work! Good luck on all of your future endeavors! I can’t wait to read the rest of the Penwood Legacy series.

Finding Bliss (Penwood Legacy Book 1)

Finding Bliss (Penwood Legacy Book 1) By B.L. Bierley

Finding Bliss is the first book in the Penwood Legacy series and it was written by B.L. Bierley. I really enjoyed reading this intriguing story. I loved the story line, the amazing characters, the cute romance between Eric and Bliss, and I enjoyed reading a story about a heroine who was born with the ability to have visions. I loved that even though Bliss was scared of the water she still saved her elder brother from drowning. I really could not put this eBook down until I finished it. I laughed so much while reading this especially during all the I told you so moments. I cried when they talked about the death of Eric’s father. The funniest moment was how Eric and everyone found out that Eric and Bliss were going to marry each other. Interesting that Bliss knew they were going to marry since she was 10. I would like to thank the author for writing this amazing story and wish the best on all their future endeavors. I hope this author will continue to write and I know that I will read more novels written by this author.