Newsletter October 2023

Greetings, and welcome to the October edition of the COMA newsletter. Autumn is personally my favorite time of the year – pumpkin spiced treats, apple picking, spooky Halloween parties, trick or treat adventures, and vibrant fall colors – what’s not to like!

This edition features an interesting mix of articles on a variety of topics ranging from how to help our children stay closer to their cultural roots, to a mother’s joy and pride at her daughter’s determination to serve the country, to tips on improving your cell phone photography, and to mixing up a unique and elegant cocktail.

Do share with us pictures of your pumpkin carving masterpieces and colorful Halloween costumes – we would love to feature them in the next edition of the newsletter. Hope you all have a wickedly good time this Halloween season.

It’s all about love – Manju Nair

(Manju is an avid reader who is also an art, movie, and music enthusiast. With an enduring commitment to COMA, she presently serves as a trustee and, notably held the position of the organization’s first female President. Raised in Trivandrum, Kerala, Manju lives in Powell, Ohio with her frequently visiting boys Adithya (Nandu) and Arvind (Kannan). She loves to travel and experience the world. In addition to her cultural pursuits, Manju is an active and influential presence within the central Ohio Malayalee community.)

Parenting, I mean. Here’s the disclaimer before you read this. I am no expert by any means and these are only my findings and the conclusions I have reached based on my unique life experiences and my peripheral settings. Having said that, I do believe there are some fundamentals that we could think about as adults before and as we become parents. I hope some of these might resonate with some of you, and some of you might be curious to apply a few of them and see the results. My minimum expectation is that this triggers some thoughts and meaningful conversations.

Like I said, it is all about love. Parenting takes a lot of kindness and acceptance. You would think that is such an obvious fact, but I have been surprised to see how much of our own selfish agenda gets projected onto our children, to make them into what we think they should be. It is the hardest thing to understand what they want to be and accepting and supporting it even when it could be the last thing we want them to be. And we also should accept the fact that we don’t know everything.

It is about being brutally honest about who we are. Are we setting the right example? Are we showing that honesty and integrity are important principles to live by? Are we teaching them to identify right from wrong? Are we accepting and non judgmental of people who are not from our race and culture? Are we kind? Are we afraid to show and express love unabashedly? Are we socially awkward? Are we superficial? A very common thing I see is how immigrant parents have this ‘holier than thou’ attitude towards western society. The quickest way for our children to lose respect for us is when we talk down about anything non-Indian. The children might not be vocal about their opinions, but believe me, they do have opinions of us. Our children grew up here in this country and when they see us put down anything that we are not familiar with, it does not present us in a very good light . Remember, children follow by example and they learn by watching us. And they are watching even when we think they aren’t.

It is about teaching them gratitude and how to practice it consistently and consciously. It is about not being entitled and expecting anything to be delivered on a platter. Teach them to be grateful and tolerant.

It is about putting in some work into the relationship. We should be aware of the generational shift and how quickly it is happening. What used to make sense for our generation does not apply to the next. So if we are not willing to move and meet our children midway, we might end up in a complete miscommunication mishap. It takes effort and patience to communicate in the same language as our children. And once we put in the effort, let me assure you that it is immensely rewarding.

This is a great segue into the subtopic as to how we make our children embrace our Indian roots. There is no magic formula for that. But, it goes back to how much effort are we putting in to expose our children to their roots. How often do they see their family back in India? And a lot of factors go into familiarization – cuisine, festivals, and language to name a few. Question for us is how much do we embrace and celebrate our roots?

Relationships with their grandparents is another interesting aspect. This might be an unpopular opinion, but I am going to say it anyway. It is a two way street, like any other relationship. Effort needs to come from both sides. I have seen some beautiful relationships and I have also seen some not so great ones. The common theme in a good relationship with grandparents is how willing the grandparents are to learn about this generation and to get involved without being preachy. Children respond beautifully to love and when it comes with no conditions, it builds a strong bond. As parents, all we can do is provide them the opportunity to connect to their roots. The rest is in the hands of both parties involved.

So, like I said in the beginning, it is all about love.

My daughter, my pride – Yogalakshmi Venugopal

(Yogalakshmi Venugopal known as Yoga to her friends, grew up in Chennai, and has made central Ohio her home in recent years. She lives in Powell, Ohio with her daughter Chetana. Yoga has a deep passion for music, dance, cinema, and culinary arts, and she is an enthusiast of outdoor recreational pursuits. Furthermore, she is an engaged member of the COMA community, actively participating and dedicating her time as a frequent volunteer for the COMA Meals on Wheels program.)

Chetana came to the United States at the age of 13 and had to navigate through a lot of cultural and personal changes. Despite facing challenges like any other immigrant, she managed to complete her schooling with flying colors.

Like most kids, Chetana had a lot of career aspirations growing up, but her interest in serving the people and her fascination towards the uniform caught me off guard. I assumed it would be a passing phase, but she was firm on it and did all the necessary research to pursue her dream of joining the US Air Force.

The reserve option allowed her to join the US Air Force as a part-timer while continuing her studies. Chetana aspires to become a commissioned officer after her graduation and pursue her career with the US Air Force. To achieve her aspirations, Chetana had to go through a strenuous four-month training program which included boot camp training in Texas and tech training in Virginia.

Her determination towards her goal pushes her to sacrifice her holidays in order to catch up with academic requirements while pursuing her military services. She was motivated and supported by her college counselor and ROTC instructors which helped her to come up with aggressive plans enabling her to achieve her goals. She has proven herself as an epitome of determination. I am proud of her not just for her accomplishment but for the kind hearted person that she has always been.

I was high on emotions during her graduation ceremony as I watched her parade in her Air Force uniform and receive honors from higher officials. I stood there as a proud mom with rolling tears and I knew that my little girl had now turned into a strong, beautiful, intelligent, and courageous woman.

#PhotographyTips #CaptureTheMoment – Rahul RP

(Rahul RP is an IT engineer with a deep passion for photography and travel. He possesses a keen eye for capturing the beauty of the world through the lens of his camera, turning everyday moments into extraordinary memories. Whether it’s exploring new destinations or delving into the intricacies of technology, he is a true enthusiast with a thirst for knowledge and adventure. Rahul lives in New Albany with his wife Gayathri and son Dhyan. He hails from Trivandrum.)

Today, most of us carry a powerful camera right in our pockets. The tips below will help you to take your mobile photos to the next level.

  1. Clean Your Lens: Before you begin, take a moment to clean your phone’s camera lens. A smudged or dirty lens can significantly impact the quality of your photos.
  2. Understand Your Camera App: Familiarize yourself with the features of your camera app. Learn how to adjust exposure, focus, and other settings for more control over your shots.
  3. Good Lighting is Key: Lighting is the foundation of photography. Natural light, especially during the golden hours (early morning and late afternoon), provides a warm, soft quality that can make your photos shine. Avoid harsh, direct sunlight, which can lead to overexposed or shadowy images.
  4. Composition Matters: Apply the rule of thirds ( don’t get scared – I have explained it below 😀 ), leading lines, and framing to create well-balanced and visually appealing photos. Experiment with different angles and perspectives to add interest.
  5. Use the Rule of Thirds: Divide your frame into a 3×3 grid and position your subject along the gridlines or at their intersections. This classic technique can lead to beautifully balanced compositions.
  6. Edit with Care: Editing can enhance your photos but avoid overdoing it. Adjust brightness, contrast, color, and sharpness to maintain a natural look. There are many photo editing apps available for this purpose. (Snapseed, Lightroom, etc.)
  7. Burst Mode: For fast-moving subjects or action shots, use burst mode to take multiple photos in quick succession. This increases your chances of capturing the perfect moment.
  8. Stabilize Your Phone: Shaky hands can result in blurry photos. Use a tripod or steady your phone against a stable surface and enable image stabilization if your phone supports it.
  9. Tell a Story: Use your mobile photography to tell a story. Capturing candid moments and documenting your life can create a compelling narrative through your photos.

Espresso Martini recipe – Nish Nishant

(Nish is a passionate cocktail enthusiast and hobbyist mixologist, with a penchant for exploring an array of ingredients and experimenting with various spirits. Originally from Trivandrum, Kerala, he presently resides in Worthington, Ohio, with his wife Smitha and their son Rohan. He occasionally shares some of his concoctions on his Instagram profile @nishtravelfooddrink)

If you’re a fan of both coffee and cocktails, the Espresso Martini is a must-try. While there are numerous variations of this delightful concoction, at its core, it’s a cocktail crafted with vodka, espresso, and coffee liqueur. This classic cocktail is said to have its roots in 1980s London. Below, I’ll share the recipe I personally prefer.


  • 1.5 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz espresso (fresh)
  • 1 oz Kahlua
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup
  • Coffee beans

Add the vodka, Kahlua, espresso, and simple syrup to a shaker with ice, and shake vigorously for 10 seconds. Strain into a martini glass and garnish by floating the coffee beans. I often add a splash of crème de cacao (to give it a Mocha flavor), but only if the recipient likes that chocolate taste. I’ve also used chocolate coated coffee beans instead of regular ones, but those are a little harder to float as they are heavier.

One of the key aspects to making a good Espresso Martini is to use freshly made espresso. If you can make it at home, cool it down to room temperature before using it, as you don’t want to melt too much of the ice. If any of you make this drink, I’d love to hear what you thought about it.


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