Reflections from the Babysitter

I first got to know the Sankrithi family through Siva, who taught me geometry my freshman year of high school. That also happened to be the year Sarang was born, and I remember meeting him when he was just a few weeks old and Siva took a break from his paternity leave to bring him to campus. A few years later, during the summer after my freshman year of college, I spent most of my afternoons babysitting Sarang, while Vivaan napped and Siva ran errands. That summer, I became close with not only Sarang, but every member of the family, as Aarti and Siva were generous enough to let me hang around as long as I wanted even after they got home, and often even let me stay for dinner. Today, I’m living in Italy as a digital nomad, but pretty much every day I take a moment to recognize how fortunate I feel to have spent so much time with the Sankrithis that summer, and to still consider them close friends, whom I make sure to see whenever I’m back in the Pacific Northwest. All four of them are such radiant, thoughtful, and warm people that it’s simply impossible to spend time with them and leave without feeling a little more optimistic about the world. That feeling carries over to this book, which I have been fortunate enough to get a preview of while helping the Sankrithis edit it. Even if you don’t have kids and/or aren’t planning on having them–personally, I’m still undecided there–the philosophies spelled out in this book aren’t just applicable to parenting, but to decision-making in the context of any sort of relationship, including the one you have with yourself. The thoughts, experiences, and reflections shared by the Sankrithis do just what Siva used to do for me in geometry class, all those years ago: provide some order and direction, in a world that can feel overwhelming more often than not.

Adrian Russian

A gift for genuine connection

All these years after I met him, I cannot refer to Mr. Sankrithi by his first name. Maybe that’s because of my age and cultural background (I was born in Puerto Rico in 1962). Maybe it’s because of the respect I have for him. Maybe it’s for all those reasons. Mr. Sankrithi taught my daughter math in high school. At his back-to-school-night presentation the first year she was in class with him, I was immediately struck by his genuine passion and obvious gift for teaching young people. At a one-on-one meeting with him later that fall, during a challenging time for our family, I understood firsthand that he truly “walked the talk” of supporting and encouraging his students. Throughout the semester and the rest of the school year, it became apparent to me why he was a legendary teacher at the school. He truly had a gift for connecting with his students, for helping them stay in touch with how rewarding–and yes, fun–math was as they got better at asking the questions that would best help them navigate their way themselves out of difficulties. I am grateful to this day that my daughter’s path crossed Mr. Sankrithi’s when it did. To this day, he remains a mentor and friend to her, now with the added richness of his wife and their two sons. This is a family that truly and authentically approaches life with delight, enthusiasm, and curiosity for all the wondrous opportunities we are all afforded every day to learn and grow and discover. I look forward to learning and growing and discovering alongside the Sankrithi family.

Maria-Teresa Vicens


I first met Siva at a scholastic chess event in January 2020. I was wading through a sea of children, trying to help my 4-year old get to his playing room for his first round game. Siva was doing the same with his son and there was an immediate, unspoken, mutual kinship in that moment. What I didn’t know at the time was that I had just kicked off a deep adult friendship which is a rare thing, and is even more rare when you realize that the friendship became the seed for an even deeper family-to-family friendship. Over the coming months, our boys met at multiple chess tournaments, became part of a 3-person chess team called the ‘Bandar Bhais’ (literally, ‘Monkey Brothers’ in Hindi), and became brotherly buddies through it all.

The Sankrithi’s truly are the first family of education in Seattle. Siva’s love and natural proclivity for connecting with people is evident from the moment you meet him. He is a born educator, who thrives in deep thought, articulation, and the back-and-forth that is the bedrock of teaching. Chess, music, tennis, table tennis, football (both American and global), politics, education, mathematics, travel, and even general pop culture – these are just some of the topics that bring a smile to his face and can lead to a wild conversation where you lose track of time and walk away feeling upbeat about the world and wiser at the same time.

Siva is a prolific writer. I joke that he manages to get his crisp thoughts up on social media (and somehow energizes himself while doing it) before I am even able to get a first draft of my thoughts into my head while also getting exhausted. I was thrilled to hear that Siva, Aarti, Sarang, and Vivaan are putting their thoughts on paper to share them with the world. It is a fun, breezy, and educational read that promises to make you think just enough, while also reminding you not to take things too seriously. This book – just like our interactions with the Sankrithi’s – reminds us that no matter where life takes you, it’s all about the journey and the little joys along the way.

Ravi Kakkad

An inspiring read

There’s no doubt you’ll be smiling throughout this book! Siva, Aarti, Sarang, and Vivaan are some of the happiest people I have the pleasure of knowing. Their passion for learning and trying new things is infectious and effervescent. Every time I see the Sankrithi family, there’s always a warm and insightful conversation to be had and something new to be learned, whether it’s a fun fact about transcontinental airlines or a new chess variant. This book will provide you a unique perspective towards growth and the opportunity for introspection towards your own passions.

Megan Lee

A unique family that I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for many years

The Sankrithis – Aarti, Siva, Sarang, and Vivaan – are like a second family to me. From the moment that I set foot in their home each week for chess lessons with their two wonderful boys, Sarang and Vivaan, I’m always greeted by smiling family members and welcomed with a hot cup of chai. I’m lucky if I manage to make it through the chess game unscathed, as both Sarang and Vivaan are two of my most dedicated and fast-improving students. Win or lose, the boys always take a moment to chat and reflect with their opponent after the game and are truly compassionate competitors, something quite unique this day in age. Sarang and Vivaan exhibit a genuine love for learning that is quite uncommon for kids their age. Their parents Aarti and Siva no doubt have played a key role in this, but the boys are also self-directed and motivated from within to pursue their hobbies and passions.
In talking with the Sankrithis, you can tell that they have a wide variety of interests not just limited to chess, music, math, and puzzles. Each of them is working collaboratively to make the world a better place, but in their own way. The Sankrithis spread joy and happiness wherever they go and effortlessly raise the mood of everyone with whom they cross paths. After a visit to the Sankrithi household, you’ll leave feeling inspired and energized after spending time with these amazing human beings.

Josh Sinanan
Washington Chess Federation

Dispatch from the Drum Teacher

Siva has been a very good friend for about 20 years and I now have the honor of being Sarang and Vivaan’s music teacher. We frequently have very high levels of discussions during their lessons, stemming from their love of music and of learning. Siva and Aarti are both outstanding parents and educators. I can think of no better people to have written this book. The input of all four cannot help but result in an outstanding work on an important facet of education.

Conan McLemore
Phantom Lake Conservatory of Music
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