Friday, December 31, 2010

Life, Liveleyhood, Children leaving Home

We left India to make a better life. The pilgrims left their homeland to start fresh. Generations of people to come will leave their homes to make a livelihood. Has anyone thought about the effects they had on their parents' minds? I know I did for a few days, maybe a few months, all right ---- now -- even a few years, but you have your kids and start a family and your childhood home is as distant as it can be,even in your mind. My grandma used to quote a famous Hindi quote that meant that for a bird it is its nest that is dear, not the one it grew up in. So we were designed to grow up and leave, no matter how much our folks missed us.

South East Museum in Brewster is having a "Pre New Year Party " for children this afternoon starting at one thirty. Now that made me go back thirty some years when we used to take kids to various museums.  I am just hoping that parents of little kids plan something special that children can enjoy as well, instead of focusing just on booze. Ten years ago people used to buy drinks with the most expensive labels and today they buy something with the least expensive label. Your friends will grow up with the same pace as you, but your children will grow up to be adults and leave your home. You will not be able to blame them. They will be moving out for the sake of livelihood.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Life, Livelyhood and Greed ?

Twenty to thirty inches of accumulation of snow in most parts of New York city, the three boroughs, Long Island and five of the closest counties. That was the area of the TV weather coverage and traffic reports. The snow started sometimes around one o'clock in the afternoon the day after Christmas and lasted until dawn the next morning. Sunday and Monday after Christmas and the streets were like a ghost town. It was unbelievable. Normally, people would be rushing to return or exchange the presents or even get a good selection from the marked down merchandise. I always dreaded having to work those days in retail. We would have fun too, as we talked about our kids while putting away the merchandise that was returned.
" It is so hard cleaning the wet floor when kids bring in the snow in the garage after playing in the snow."  I was venting to one of my co workers.
"Just teach them the Garage Dance," she said laughing, "Your kids are still young, aren't they?"
"What is a Garage Dance?" I asked.
"A Garage Dance is a dance you dance before entering in the garage to shake off the snow, so it does not get on your floor and people do not slip," she said showing me how to shake off the snow.
"Oh Wow," I said, "then why do people not do that here in the store, so we do not have a wet floor, so they do not fall."
"To avoid slipping and falling? Are you kidding me, so they can loose a couple of thousand dollars from a potential lawsuit?" she had a smirk on her face. I was stunned.
"Are you serious?"
"You bet she is," said the maintenance guy. "What do you think keeps me on my toes?'

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Life, Love, Gifts and Attention ?

In 1997, we had a very young coworker who was extremely hardworking. He got the attention of all the older ladies like myself because you do not see too many people like him. Sure, all of us work hard, but we all had a soft corner in our hearts for him because he came from a broken home. He had  mixed feelings about his Dad. He did not know whether to love him or hate him. I would not blame him a bit. What does a young person do if his Dad gets drunk night after night, does not keep up with his job and gets fired? We just told him to deal with the situation and he could talk to us whenever he wanted to. He seemed to be happy working with us. "It is like I have a family right here" he would tell us. During the Holidays, one of the security guards got him not one or two but five of those ten dollar booklets that we used to get in a fast food place(this was before the reloadable cards were common). He was overwhelmed and we could see the appreciation in his eyes. The following couple of weeks he seemed extra perky and worked even harder.
"You sure are a happy camper " I said.
"Guess what Munir, I got to see my Dad, five times this week," he said with a chuckle.
"That's great," I said. It turned out that he had been buying food for himself and his Dad with the fast food booklets that the security guard had given it to him.
Yesterday on the television someone said. "Christmas is a time to do nice things."
The weather man waited for his turn and then said, "It is nice to do Christmas things any time and every time."

Friday, December 24, 2010

Life, Love, Gifts and Help?

I was waiting in the line in the electronics department with my daughter today. A women who was waiting right behind me was holding something big but soft in her hand. Soon her husband joined her. "What's that?" he asked pointing to a sack. It looked like fake shearling in the inside and velour on the outside.
"It is a blanket in a sack," she said.
"How much?" he asked.
"Twenty-four ninety-nine." she said." It is for Auntie Anne."
"What a waste," He said. "Just give her cash."
"Cash? Hmm, maybe I will," she said. Then they both left. Meanwhile I am thinking, about whether or not Auntie Anne would get something for herself with the money or pay one of her utilities bills or spend it in the supermarket. In any case, as my husband says, it does not matter because it helps her.
Shopping procrastinator? Yes, that's who I am. I promise myself I will shop ahead of time. No matter how much I plan for a holiday, birthday or any occasion I end up spending the day before the event running from store to store. I consider myself lucky because the gifts I get for my family and my friends usually do not get exchanged for cash or gift card. They mostly get used.
It made me really happy when I saw a friend of mine wearing a hat and scarf ensemble even five years after I gave it to her for the Holidays.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Life, Livelyhood, Carriers and Popularity?

My civics teacher in sixth grade told us that we all need basic skills in life even if we are alone. If we want to get married and have kids we need them even more, in the sense that we need to become faster, swifter and thorough in every thing we do. Then there is money to be made. We do have to take money making seriously. We need to figure out fair and safe means of making money. Then comes the question working hard mentally or physically. No matter how you make money, never make making of money the only purpose in life. "Making money doing what you like to do is the best way of making money". Hence, phrases like "Gardening is my life" or as a singer said "My carrier is fueled by my passion."
My brother, a retired Navy Chief, has been missing going to work. In spite of working till his back broke he is always grateful that the Navy took care of his family. Elvis Presley was called in when the draft was announced and his fans were devastated. They wrote several letters, but Elvis Presley did his two years of Service. Now there was an honest American.
My daughter said that she heard on Colbert Report "Jesus is like Yahweh's Joe Biden." I do not mean to be a blasphemer when I quote this.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Life, People, Crime And Police

Life is Life. No, this is not a typo. The word "jaan", in my language means "life". The word "jaan" is also a term of endearment, for eg. Amajaan means "mother as dear as my life." I always wondered about the sincerity of the context. Some people call their uncles, "Chacha jaan" without really meaning to. My parents allowed us to skip that phrase as it was getting old fashioned and had lost its meaning. The word jaan still means as dear as your life and people use it to say phrases like, "gardening is my life" or "fire fighting is his life" etc. Therefore when I say "Life is Life" I actually mean that life should be dear to every one. Whenever I hear any news about anyone committing suicide, I wonder if that person never had anyone telling him or her how precious life is, were they really so lonely that they did not think of the effects their death may have on others. It is time we talk to our loved ones seriously about the value of life.
It was nice to watch in the news that a policeman was saved by a good Samaritan. A woman was walking by when she saw a young policeman being tackled by an elderly man. The elderly man not only had a grip on the policeman but was also trying to smash his head. The woman goes and breaks them up by pulling the older man. She did not think of caring for her own life. She just saw someone in trouble and went to help. If she had died it would be for a worthy cause.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Life, Livelyhood and Suicide?

It was summer of 1991. We were in India. Our kids would wander off with their cousins to look around.  One day, it was really hot. Grown ups were complaining about the heat while kids were exploring. I would follow them around sometimes. What they did would be more interesting any way compared to what the grown ups did. There was a little garbage dump site and I always get a fit when kids go near garbage as you don't know what kind of germs will effect them. My kids and their cousins were looking intensely and were very seriously concerned about what they were looking at. I went closer and what I saw also made me get involved. Some one had left a barrel of tar at that garbage dump and it had accidentally spilled. There was a very frail dog stuck in that spill of tar and it was helpless. You could actually see the helplessness in its eyes. The kids were thinking about the ways they could possibly get that dog out. Someone suggested that kerosene can actually help remove the tar off of the dog's legs and then once the dog is able to move out they could some how wash the dog. So after struggling along with the poor dog, the kids and a couple of grown ups were able to save the dog. I then realized that life is precious. No matter how much a life struggles it is better than dying.
Not even a week has passed since the son of the billion dollar scam artist killed himself and there is another suicide in the headlines. This is very sad. A school personnel gets fired and her husband holds the entire school board hostage? Luckily he did not kill anyone. He could have just surrendered instead of killing himself and maybe then he could have had his voice heard. I am sure the economic jam he was in could not have been too bad compared to that poor little dog in the tar spill.
Snoopy (yes Charles Schulz's Snoopy) once said "Civilization is overrated" Do the worries of making a living have more value than life itself?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Children Having to Carry Parent's Shame

My siblings and I tried our best to make our parents happy and proud of us. Now that we lost both our parents we feel sorry for the smallest mischief. The desire of making our loved ones happy and proud is in almost all of us. Changing from sleeping gown into day time clothes even on a weekend morning so your son's friend does not think you are sloppy is one way of saving your son from getting embarrassed. One of my co- workers used to say that he hated his dad, for getting drunk and wasted while other parents would work hard to send their kids to college. We are all human beings. However when we become parents it becomes our duty to be good human beings. We should try and give our kids a good life. It does not have to be a life of luxury.

The two year anniversary of the arrest of the person responsible for the Scam of the Century is marked by the suicide of his own son. When does a human being forget that money is only a means to be happy? It is not the end for which we should either kill ourselves or cheat innocent people.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Families, Health, TLC or Hurt?

"We are all humans," said my husband when scandals about a Vice-Presidential candidate started coming in the headlines. "We all make mistakes."
I would not argue with him because I know it is true.
"Why do hidden mistakes have to come out of the woodwork, right when someone is in the limelight?" asked one of my co-workers.
"Well, I guess that is one way the media gets to sell it's time on TV or space in the publications." I did have a point.

Cancer claims a lot of lives. So many men and women die an untimely death. Again, it sounds strange to call death untimely because most of us believe that we die when we are meant to. For some reason, it seems more tragic when someone is sick and got more than their share of emotional pain as well. People make mistakes and they apologize and all is well. However, the decency of being next to your spouse all the way in sickness and in health is so much  sweeter than following your desire to be with the young, pretty and healthy. Ryan O'Neal and Farrah Fawcett may have had their differences but some how you feel sorry for him for losing someone he loved. The example that Dana Reeve has set is also that every couple should aspire to follow although she herself did not think of it as unusual.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Life, Soul, People and Genetics

The origin of the word "AMAR" is Hindi. Hindi is a beautiful language having some words and phrases that you would not be able to find in other languages. So when I said that John Lennon is "AMAR" (someone who lives in people's mind for ever) my husband looked at me as if I had spots on my face. "What?" I asked, "is it because he was not from India?" He just nodded to mean that I am was out of my mind. Seriously now, why do we have to limit certain aspects to only certain cultures? I think that one's personality clearly commands the association of some doctrines whether or not the person is from the culture to which the concept is attached. After all the word "Karma" must have been foreign to the west at some point. Some souls are meant to be "AMAR". Again my grown ups would be angry if they heard me say that. So, what is a soul after all?
My daughter always wonders where she would be if my husband and I never married each other. "Is our soul related to the genetic material that is contained within our zygote?" I don't know the answer, but I do know that the Beatles were touched by the music and hospitality of people of India and learned a lot from Shanker/Jaikishan. They also left some beautiful notes that were later used by the musicians even after the Beatles went back to England after their visit.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dream, Life, Reality and Death?

People who go to school for science say that Quantum Theory is very hard to explain. If you think that you can explain it you have not really understood it. What we see is not hundred percent as it really is. Our vision and perception alters its image. The difference could be as tiny as a spec of dust or the position could be  a millionth of a millimeter away than you see it. Please correct me if I am wrong. Well then, why do they say that seeing is believing? I rather go by the quote someone used from the Beatles "Nothing is real." How I wish that that day was not real thirty years ago today. I had just gotten over the frustration of the red tape you have to go through to get a visa to India. I was planning to make sure that there were not safety issues as we were going to travel with kids. My husband was relaxed as usual, watching TV when he heard in a News Flash that John Lennon was shot. I cannot describe how shocked I was. First politicians and country leaders, but musicians? When I was leaving for England in 1972, my friends in India were so envious. "Now you can get a chance to meet the Beatles," they told me. I was not as lucky as that, but I was glad that at least I could listen to them on the radio. In India we could listen to BBC News, but hardly any English music. Only the rich had tape recorders. Here in the western countries, they have so much that they take everything for granted.  Instead of being thankful some can actually kill a singer who touches your soul?
The killer will never know that John Lennon is not dead. He is "AMAR" (someone who lives in people's mind for ever.)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Life, Heaven, Religion And Holidays

It is amazing how talking about something as grim as death can lead us into talking about the heavens. The dishwashing lady in my parents' home used to say "It is like giving "Mithai" (sweets) to a kid when he falls and hurts himself". In other words we talk about heaven when we subconsciously want to avoid talking about death. Talking about heaven is fine with me. Hey, it is a beautiful place with luxuries beyond your imagination. It just bugs me that people say that the only way to get to heaven is to follow their faith. They feel sorry for me. I tell them not to worry. On the other hand my grown ups told me that only our creator knows about the destiny of every one. There are guidelines to follow to make sure that we are doing the right thing. Other religions have similar guidelines.
Working in retail opened up my eyes. People try to return or exchange goods without a reciept (stores give them that much courtesy) and a lot of times they are used or even stolen, (there is a big amount of money that goes in pilferage). So around the holidays are we supposed to forget or ignore the guidelines?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sky Miles To Heaven

My grandmother was a cool lady. My father's mother that is. My mom's mother was a nice lady too. Well they were both nice. I knew my father's mother a little more closely since she lived with us. The thing is she always looked at my view point instead of dismissing it. So, if all my elders were alive today and I expressed (in front of them) my view points about who goes to heaven, a lot of them would have considered me to be a blasphemist. Not my grandma, she would always try and make some sense out of my reasoning. So, I think that I would recommend all kinds of cool people from all walks of life to get a ticket to heaven. Seriously, now if we had an account where we kept all our good deeds as credit and bad deed as debits, would we have an ATM card to work it? Every time we did a good deed would one of our bad deeds be cancelled? What about how much we used the card? Would we have some kind of reward system to encourage us to use it? So there I gave my husband one more reason to think that I am going out of my mind. All this business of religious stuff is too much for me. How about we don't hurt anyone, not take anyone's stuff, not work people against people, not spoil this earth (where there are heavenly spots) and finally be true to ourselves.
My daughter just told me that she heard in the news that they misprinted billions of one hundred dollar bills. Now the government has a huge task of fixing the problem (at our expense). Meanwhile let us see how many of us will play innocent and try to use other kinds of fake bills.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Living on Earth, Hoping for Heaven

Postponing or even evading a talk about death was not good enough for me. Even at an earlier age, I was always inquisitive about what happens to us after we die. I would discuss life and death outside the family if I had to. Some of my friends who were not of the same faith as me would be hesitant to discuss our fate, because they were told that people of faith that was not their own would not go to heaven. Some of my friends believed in reincarnation. A door keeper in our neighbourhood said that death was a quite place and time, where it is quieter than ever. His dream was to find a place where the land meets the water as he said that it would be heavenly. He used to say that that place is very rich in the sense that there is natural beauty and cool breeze keeps you healthy.I found that place in Cornwall, England (UK). The beach by our flat (an apartment) was beautiful. It did look like land and water were meeting. So, what is heaven like? How is it decided that who goes to heaven? In my faith it is not up to us who goes to heaven. One of my coworkers felt sorry for me because as she said in spite of being a good person, most honest and helpful etc, etc, I was not of her faith. As far as I think anyone who comes from a place where there is love for humanity deserves to go to heaven.
So many of my favourite celebrities have passed away. I cannot imagine a heaven without Charles Schultz, Jim Henson, Dr. Seuss, Mahatma Gandhi and all those people who made great discoveries from which the whole world benefits. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Grown Up People, Innocent

When my great grandmother died, I was quite young, but old enough to understand the natural factors behind death. My grown ups, as I used to call them, were over protective about my emotions. Grown ups were all the elders (my grandmother, her friends or any uncles or aunties.) We had the advantage of going to any of them to ask about anything. Most of the time the answer would be the same. So when my great grandmother passed away, instead of giving me an answer about death they ended up talking to me about life. Their outlook and advice were priceless. It went on like this:"Remember your creator, combat bad and destructive emotions, cultivate and grow good feelings, don't touch alcohol and protect your inner self." It was cute how my parents (an accountant and a teacher) would quietly listen along with me and nod "gee Amajaan" (yes mother) as if they were inexperienced youth. Thus we were able to keep ourselves from the misery of finding answers about death and the one we lost.
Leslie Neilsen passed away, leaving a lot of funny memories. We were watching "Naked Gun" with our extended family. There was a scene where a driving instructor actually told the student to extend her hand out, fold her hand except he middle finger, then show it to the impatient fellow drivers on the road. My sister-in-law was so embarrassed that she cupped her hands and buried her face. I then remembered that she came from the time when innocence was not uncommon.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Grown Up Kids Playing With Food

It is funny how our minds linger around food even two days after Thanksgiving. I remember the famous saying "too many cooks spoil the broth" wondering if it could be any farther from the truth. Both of our sons always playaround with the leftover turkey. I let them because they are being resourceful and also because that gives me a break. Their creations are usually hearty and healthy sandwiches or stir fry cubed turkey that we could eat with rice. Even to this day when our son comes home from Hawaii, he shops for ingredients and makes dishes from scratch. We discover new methods and enjoy the food even more. Last week he emailed me saying that he made "Palak Munir". He was being funny, but we do have a dish called"Palak Panir" that is made from spinach (Palak) and Ricotta cheese (Panir). I have always substituted Ricotta cheese with American cheese. He was not satisfied with the idea. He not only used Ricotta cheese, but made the Ricotta cheese at home, using cheese cloth and lemon to break milk. It was amazing how making Ricotta from scratch can make the dish taste even more delicate. So let them try new things. They may seem like a handful at five or six years of age but that is the only way they will be innovative and creative. After all Toll House Cookies were a result of an experiment.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day After Thanksgiving Lip Smacking

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving has become synonymous with slumber parties by the door fronts of stores and by craziness of early shoppers. Why not? A lot of good deals and a lot of presents taken care of. A lot of people forget that Friday is a working day for a lot of people. One such group of people is traffic and parking regulation officers. So a lot of big city shoppers end up paying in traffic tickets because they think that this is a weekend day or a holiday and parking regulations do not apply. Those of us who are careful in parking may end up getting a ticket because inspection date had passed. I personally do not care for Black Friday shopping. I rather spend the whole weekend catching up talking with my family. Our children would spend the weekend reminiscing with their school friends. Some people like to go for walks and some like to play games to burn the extra calories. Playing basketball at Fort McNair in Washington DC and ended up getting twelve stitches on his lip, the President reminded me of the time when our son got stitches by his eyebrow playing tennis on the fourth of July. We were suppose to join him at  family picnic that the college had arranged for summer scholars.

On The House

Looking back at the years when we had our all our children at home, I remember that goodies we made on Thanksgiving were delicious and delectable. Now that our boys are away, they may or may not come home, our menus have been trimmed to fewer items. It is not that I have cut my budget or time, but that we have been eating healthier. Yesterday I made my apple, pineapple, and raisin pie without the brand name graham cracker pie crust. The filling was exactly the one I have been making for years but without the special crust. It was not appealing to my husband. Although recently he has been throwing away the crust of any store bought pies. He says that he likes to see the firm crust (with hydrogenated or saturated fat mixed in the dough.) My argument is that why buy fattening food when you know that you will be throwing away parts of it? I think that it is a bad practice. We do not want to promote sales of unhealthy food and also it is a waste of money. So, I have decided that all healthy food is on the house. Any unhealthy food is not coming from our food budget.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Coming Home

Kids grow up. They move out to be independent. They need to prove to themselves and others that they are self sufficient and self reliant. They may or may not come home very often but Thanksgiving is one time everyone wants to go home. They want to go home to their rooms they had when they were growing up. Go in the attic and look at old toys. Be a kid again. What if they cannot come home? There could be a number of reasons. One reason could be working abroad. Today one of the radio station announcer accidentally mentioned Windsor England as she was reporting weather and temperature of our local towns in New York. She then promptly apologized and then they played the next song. Right after the song she announced the temperature of Windsor England. It so happened that one of our old time New York residents listens to this radio station in England on the internet and she called right away and gave the temperature. Now I think that is as cute as coming home for Thanksgiving. They then decided or suggested that they can have her as a correspondent for the Royal Wedding. I am not so sure if they were serious.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Giving Thanks

Yesterday our living room was full of chuckles and baby talk. I was chasing our eighteen months old grandson around the  kitchen wall and he would laugh teasing me when I said "You got me" or "Got you!" Meanwhile my five year old grandson was playing super mario bothers on his DS with our daughter and being poised and serious and having fun at the same time. I would not know who was winning but I know that that time was priceless. Watching my daughter come down to her nephew's level being a friend and an aunt at the same time. Cuter than the kids were their parents when they made sure that their kids would eat before they did. Driving three hours with two kids after a long week to see their parents tells me that the world is in good hands. I am not worried about what kind of adults today's kids will turn out to be, because my five year old grandson was holding the door for his grandfather for about ten minutes while he was taking his time to come. Yesterday was no less than a Holiday.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

America the beautiful, smoke free someday?

Tomorrow is my sisterin-law's birthday. I suggested that my brother give her a gift of a promise, a promise to quit smoking. A long time ago he started smoking. I regret not being there in my parents' house when he got this nasty habit. A good looking young man, got a job as a model and a distributor of handing cigarette samples to young people. What a horrible job. Yet he took it and nobody stopped him? I was already in England at that time. I came to know about his smoking when he was well into the habit for about four or  five years. Still he could have quit, but he did not. This made me realize what a bad addiction it has been. Today he is retired. His kids are devastated because they know that smoking has claimed so many lives.
Today is the Great Smoke Out of 2010. Let us make it a point not only to help people stop smoking but also to deter people from starting. May be it will take another century or even over a century, before there will be no smokers at around, because the tobacco industry is a business and businesses do not give in. It may seem like an uphill climb, a losing battle but if there is enough education and willpower and less peer pressure we can achieve our goal of helping everyone quit. This is a beautiful world and people should not have to die if they can help.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Turning in their graves ?

"It is what we do that makes us what we are." I heard this line a lot of times as I was growing up. In one of her lectures, our political science professor copied the same tone of voice as of our elders and said, "It is who we elect that make our government."  I love the concept of Democracy and it's promises. Before India became a Democracy there were small and big kingdoms. Most of the times princes and princesses who succeeded kings and queens were qualified in every way for the positions they inherited. A few times (as history recalls) certain princes were not qualified because of their indulgences. At such situations it was said that the king must be turning with discomfort in his grave.
Young people dance all the time. They find solace specially after being in trouble and getting hurt. I wonder why people do not give people a break. I think that there is no need for violence even if the target is a television. However seeing political candidates on television reality shows make me wonder about where this country is going.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Too Much Food Food or Too Little Water

"It is not as simple as that " said my husband when I asked him why people's kidneys give up.My daughter informed me that yesterday was the sixtieth (60th) anniversary of the kidney foundation. It is not a surprise that people donate money to do research on a disease when they lose their loved ones to that disease. The research helps to discover cures and treatments and helps improve on them. In India whenever we heard of some one dying from a kidney problem they would be often some one from labour sectors like rickshaw drivers or construction crew. They would just pass out and if lucky they will have time to go to the hospital and they would get saved. Sometimes rich people suffer from kidney problems and it is said that they eat too much protein and don't drink enough water. In America people are lucky in the sense that they have a system to work out match's information and people just wait for a donor. Then there is dialysis.
Natalie Cole who looks fabulous at sixty is lucky enough to get her match in kidney transplant. I hope that she is generous to the family of her donor, a mother who died in childbirth.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Space Stations and Helping Hands

Thanks to the television, we hear a lot of news about our skies, as well as the rest of the world. Last night, as we were watching the weather report, we came to know that the International Space Station was visible in New Windsor, NY, as well as some other parts of New York. The time for New Windsor was 6:29 PM. My daughter and I went outside quickly to look at the sky from the parking lot. Sure, it was visible. A semi-circular bright aircraft moving towards the moon, just like the weather man had said. It reminded me of the citrus candy that was divided in three sections. My husband laughed, because the Space Station usually looks silver and is not semi-circular. My daughter just saw a big bright flashing light.
As I was feeling low because of my aging and deteriorating eyes, I was wondering if Geoff Tabin would be noticed from the Space Station above. Whether he made to the seventh summit or not the Himalayan Cataract Project curing the blind he has worked with is no less than any Space Station or its projects both literally and/or metaphorically.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Celebrities, Money, and Helping Hands

It would be fair to say that Operation Smile brings out the best in people including celebrities. It would be an understatement to say that Operation Smile gives plastic surgeons an opportunity to work in precision with the art and science they have practised. Plastic surgeons who help kids through Operation Smile must be very generous. Why else would they work so hard to change lives at such a small cost when they could be minting money?
This is America. People have a right to be happy. As long as they are not doing anything illegal or hurting anyone, they can pay for whatever makes them happy. Born with natural beauty but unsatisfied with their own image some celebrities go for plastic surgery and pay an exuberant amount. When do they stop? Five six or even up to ten plastic surgeries? Sometimes the before picture is so much better than the after picture that you wonder if they have a low self-esteem or are they narcissist. Money can be spent on ones self in the pursuit of happiness but overlooking parents who are broke?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kids, Celebrities and Smiles

In high school, as well as in college, we were told that there is always a balancing force in this world. Disasters happen so construction and maintenance sector gets jobs, accidents happen so auto body repair shops get work and some people even go on to say that sickness happens so medical and nursing professions can make a living. We were told that there is always a competition between good and bad. However my father always said that if we keep on doing good deeds, bad people will not have a chance. "Well, we will need a lot of super humans now won't we?" I used to ask.
"No, it is us humans who have to take the responsibilities of doing good. Those of us who are fortunate enough to spare money, time and energy should do our best and offer to share the bounties we have been given," he would say without a blink.
This past weekend, in Los Angeles, some young people, a few older people and the members of the cast of the TV show "Chuck" proved to be no less than super human,by having a fundraiser for Operation Smile,which helps change the lives of kids born with cleft palates. In exchange for donations for Operation Smile fans got to hang out with the cast. Everyone there was a perfect example of those who will keep trying to make others happy.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tomorrow's Leaders, Today's Kids - - - - - - -Stereo typed ?

It has been over a week, my husband and I are still talking about the little goblins and ghosts that came to our door for candy. My husband thinks that it will take another thirty to forty years before today's kindergartners get to be tomorrow's leaders. I think that he is right. Meanwhile it would be a good idea to cultivate their creativity, their people's skills and their tolerance of everyone. Let them live their lives to their fullest, the lives they love,try and stretch their mind, step by step build their confidence,give feed backs promptly and if they fail in something tell them it is OK.
 So you are doing your best, what if some one else happens to be, umm -- prejudiced and smart face and hurts your kid's feelings ? The fact that some grown-up people make fun of a little boy for dressing up as a female cartoon character makes my fears very real.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Our Richest Citizens - - - - - - -in Costumes

One after another, groups of kids dressed up as different characters, baby animals, and even skeletons, ghosts, and goblins ringing our doorbell. Do they even realize at this stage in their lives how rich and powerful they are? As far as I am concerned, they are the richest people on this Earth. If they have a sense of courage that they can do anything and everything they want to, do not discourage them. Just tell them that as long as they are not hurting anyone or themselves, they are free to try almost everything and any line of work. I would think that these kids will make great leaders if we tell them that the most important requirement is honesty and not popularity.
Election day has come and gone. Hopefully in twenty years from now, it will not be so lifeless.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Grand Kids, Halloween, Candy and Sharing - - - - - - - - - -

It was like going back twenty some years, yesterday . One after an other, groups of kids coming and ringing our door bell. My daughter would not get a chance to even sit down for a minute. Every time she would call me to look at some of the kids my mind would start searching for familiar faces behind the masks. Then I would simply smile and tell the parents how cute their kids looked. I felt like telling them to enjoy their kids to the fullest, but who had the time. Everyone just wanted to go to as many doors as possible. As much as I find kids to be darlings, I cannot help thinking that their parents are just as cute. They thank you for giving their kids candy. Also when I give my grandkids toys, I notice that the parents are equally happy. They sit down and play with them like classmates. I almost feel guilty for not buying the same things for my kid. To that my grandson says that he will share his things with his Daddy!!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

America the Beautiful, Hope for Happy sky - - - - - - - - -

It was really comforting to hear the news that people will be sent to jail for vandalizing a place of worship even from the outside. Hurray for our legal system. I hope the rest of the world learns from this.I hope that there will be no more news of places of worship or shrines of saints being bombed. I can only hope because it does take a good judge to be able to prosecute any criminal. Every country needs good lawyers and good judges who have expertise and knowledge of law and can apply to the fullest to prosecute people who bomb other people's sacred places. All of us have a right to believe in what we want to believe. If America would send people to teach law in other countries, it might be more of a help than sending troops because I am sure people in every part of the world will love to have this law being implemented to protect their places of worship.
It was sad to hear that this week the Octopus who was predicting the winning team passed away. I hope that people who believed in him are going to be OK.

Monday, October 25, 2010

America the Beautiful , Sunkist Leaves, Disturbed sky elsewhere - - - - - - - -

The ups and downs of Route 9W by Storm King mountain looked like they were ablaze, but as you keep driving you would notice that the trees on the sides and on the mountain were orange, yellow and red. My daughter said that it seemed like we were inside a painting. I was glad that people were actually slowing down to enjoy the fall foliage.
Yes every thing seemed fine up until half an hour ago, when we heard in the News from India that a Sufi Shrine was bombed in Pakistan. Now this is horrible and not at all understandable. Why don't people leave people alone. Sufis are the most peace loving people I know, most down to Earth and least materialistic. My husband is right about us feeling disturbed when things happen close to home. My father believed in Sufi doctrines. He would be devastated to hear about this bombing. I am just glad that the shrine of the Sufi Saint that he believed in is in India.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

America the Beautiful, Sunkist Leaves and Hopeful Sky - - - - - - -

On Friday I was so sad about the purple sky. Even though there was President Obama's video to reassure kids that they are not alone if they are different, I was still thinking about the kids whose parents must be so lonesome without them. 
"Life goes on, no matter how many sad things people have to go through. We feel sad but sooner or later we put things in the back of our minds, unless we are directly involved," my husband said. I guess we all have to move on. My father always said that we should always think of changing seasons when we feel sad because a season does not stay in one place and neither do sad days. Just like there is dawn after a dark night there will be good days after bad. I only hope that kids out there who feel lonely are listening to us.
The mountains on route 9W are now covered with beautiful fall colors. The sky is not purple.

Friday, October 22, 2010

America the Beautiful and purple sky - - - - - - - - - - -

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Wednesday was wear purple day and for the last couple of days the sky (around Storm King mountain)  was purple. Beautiful purple and silver. If this was India they would have said that the sky is joining us in the observance of this day. It was devastating to think that we as adults cannot do much about kids being teased. However today President Obama's speech made me realize that there is hope for kids who feel different.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Down Memory Lane Along with Happy Days - - - - - - - -

Yesterday, I was feeling sorry for myself, thinking about Marion Cunningham and comparing myself to her. Well, today when I look back at those days I am actually amused by them. The memories are overwhelming. The television show "Happy Days" (1974 to 1984 ) was the prime of my motherhood time period as well. My oldest being less than a year old, crawling around our coffee table while we would watch the show in 1974. Then, in 1977 our second one on my shoulder and my oldest next to me going "hey" like the Fonz. Then in 1982 my baby in my arms on our rust color recliner and the other two stretched out on the living room sofa, with my husband between them. Wow, those days were out of this world. I am sure there are dozens of parents who are reminiscing right now and if they are not they should.
It is sad that we lost Tom Bosley. His image will always be that of Howard Cunningham. I am sure he will be missed by the rest of the crew just like a real family member.  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Whiner or Winner - - - - - - - - - Still Care for People.

I am pretty pathetic because I have started talking to myself.
"I have become a whiner, about bad drivers haven't I?" I was thinking loudly.
"No you are not, you are a winner," my daughter humored me.
"I don't know about that," I said. I really don't know. I don't even know why I try to save people from getting hurt. Is it really my business? I should get a pet or something. But then that would be selfish on my part to get a pet because I need to get busy. It would be different if I got a pet because it did not have a home or something like that. Maybe I will  do some volunteer work. Then I would not be on people's back. There is only so much you can do around the house. It seems like a good change if you do something else and then do the house work. I was looking forward to the retirement age. I guess you never retire from being a human being. A few humanitarian good deeds, a few smiles back where they belong, a few young people enjoying their carriers instead of just surviving and a little less waste of resources then may be I can feel like a winner.
The news about Tom Bosley reminded me of that episode of Happy Days where Marion wanted to do a little more than being a home maker. I guess I am not the only woman who wants to do more than keeping a home together.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Better Them than Me - - - - - - How Safe Are We?

I hear at least two accident reports on the radio every morning. Am I the only one who worries so much ? Maybe there are a few more senior citizens who do not take their lives for granted. It is not that I am worried about my own life alone. I get devastated when I see young people drive recklessly. They have so much to see, so much to look forward to and so much to go home to. It is a good thing that seat belt laws are tough and they actually save our lives. Still an accident is such a waste of resources and waste of time.
"I used to throw high beam at a car in the on coming lane if I saw it zoom, so they get  heads up about the cop that is sitting in his car, maybe half a mile down the road." A co-worker told me one day.
"I still do that, actually I alert even the ones who are in front of me so they slow down," I said.
"I do no such thing anymore." Said my co-worker.
"Really?" I asked.
"Na, -- I don't, today cops give tickets because they have to, so, let those high speeding show offs get the ticket, why should I alert them?" So no more mutual understanding between drivers!!
I would feel really guilty if I did not warn the driver ahead of me and then see him rear end somebody.
"If only everybody followed driving regulations we would not have to worry about warning them." My coworker sounded like he has given up. Seems like I might too.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Volunteers, Helping Hands, Shut - ins and Reckless Drivers - - - - -

"Seva" service for human beings in Hindi and "Karma" the concept of what goes around comes around are my two favourite "Vichars" (ideologies, belief system, words to live by). Sharing food is the highest form of Karma (Hindu Text.)  Prophet Mohammad said "The perfect Muslim is not who eats till he is full and leaves his neighbours hungry." My daughter has this wish that one day she could help "Meals on Wheels." She wants to help out people who do not like to go out as they are afraid for different reasons. Drivers in today's traffic make you think twice before you go on those highways. You start thinking about limiting your driving to basic errands.
Thursday I saw a four car crash on route 9W. Friday we heard about a six car accident on route 9D. I hope that everyone is fine. Meanwhile what do we do to make people understand that some of us who are driving recklessly could be hampering somebody's desire to do good deeds.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Clouds on the Ground, Beautiful Earth and Reckless Drivers - - - - - - - - ?

"You do your best with what you have and you will make it, no matter where you go, or come from, or what religion you follow." This is one of the tips that I brought back from India in the mental envelope of tips( Vichar in Hindi)  given by my grandma. I notice though, that a lot of people do not do their best with the things they are  given or even their time. That makes me feel that I have been cheated. I stay a little upset for some time and then something happens that makes me think that the Vichars were right.
9W is a beautiful road, now more than ever, the foliage is stunning.The sky over Storm King mountain and the look over spot seems like velvet, with clouds spread out. Five minutes before the Storm King mountain is
 flat  land with maple trees. This afternoon that maple plantation was covered with clouds and that looked beautiful , like the tree tops were peeking through the clouds. I was travelling ten miles below the speed limit as visibility was bad. I tried to enjoy the clouds and stay safe. However a lot of cars were weaving, I felt bad that people have become so busy that they cannot give extra five minutes for safe driving especially in fog. I was also thinking about the way people don't make the best of what they are given, their time, their automobiles and even their lives. That made me sad.
Five minutes later,  I heard screeching sirens and what do I see? Four cars that ran into the ones in front of them. I am hoping that everyone is all right.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Helpful Adults, Happy Kids and Neigbours - - - - - - -

So you work hard and you are living the American Dream. This is great. Your kids get to shop in the name brand stores, have the best decor a kid can have in his room and toys ----wow, does Santa mint money or does he get huge discounts? Well, if you are asking me if there is a hint of jealousy in my tone, you are wrong. The fact of life is that things do not remain the same, ( for most of us any way). One jolt of economic gear going reverse or even  a sudden halt, we loose a lot. Then what happens next? Are we preparing our children for hard times at all or are they in for a big surprise? I am not saying that you should not try to get the best for your kids, just let them understand that there are less fortunate kids in this country (or the world) and that they should be thankful. There just might be a kid down the street who has the simplest things but who has learned to appreciate the real meaning of a family.
I finished reading CRASH by Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli. Very touching indeed. Rich kids can be spoiled? Parents can be totally unaware? Then a turn in the family can change a kid entirely on his own?
I did not realize that a lot can go on in a kid's life and parents don't even get to find out. Wow!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Helpful Adults, Happy Kids, Life is Great

"You should call your blog "Beautiful Earth"." My daughter remarked yesterday. I guess what I was trying to tell is that because this earth is so beautiful, we should enjoy our lives to the fullest. I do not mean go party and get wasted. What I mean is that live our lives the healthiest way possible, try and save each other from getting hurt and do our best to keep this earth in a good shape. Now that is not too much to ask, is it? I think some times my earth friendliness gets some people irritated. When we had to have the catalytic converter replaced, it was kind of expensive. I asked one of my co -workers what a catalytic converter was, she snapped, "It is something you earth friendly people want us to have." I was sad, because I not only did not get a proper answer, I was resented for being earth friendly. Then a friend actually explained to me what a catalytic converter was, and I did not mind spending that money. Hey if I can have the luxury of using a car  (it was a luxury where I come from), I should handle the responsibility of keeping the air clean.
I have taken upon myself to explain to every kid and every young adult with any thing they want to know and listen to every thing they have to say.
My nieces need my help in convincing my bother to stop smoking, and I am going to bug him until he stops. I have to help those kids from worrying about their father. It is up to me as an adult to make sure kids are happy.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Beautiful Earth, Happy Kids, Beautiful Life

I went to a private school, not because I was picked on, but because my parents valued good education. The medium of instruction in public state schools in India is the language of the state you reside in. Therefore if you want your child to be fluent in English, you send them to a private school even if you have to cut back on other expenses. Junior was pulled out of a public school for a different reason, a reason that does not have to exist.
"Pain does not have to exist but it does," said one of my brothers, who smokes, in spite of me yelling at him.
"When pain exists, where we do not have any control over it, we might be able to put up with it." I told him."If you can help it, pain does not have to be there."
"If you can help it, but I cannot help it when I need to smoke." He would laugh.
I am not trying to connect the two, smoking and picking on people, (my brother would never pick on people.) I get these flash backs of things going wrong, when they do not have to.
I am pretty sure, Junior out there finds life to be beautiful, His both parents are smart people and they keep telling him that life is beautiful and that he does not have to worry about people who tease him instead if his focus is on nice things he will do great.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Beautiful Earth, hurting kids, overlooked - - - - -

"So how did the conference go?" I asked about the conference regarding Junior.
"It was more like a lecture." Sarcasm was over flowing.
"You were talking?" I was pretty sure.
"No, they were."  Now bitterness was added to that sarcasm.
"Really" It was unbelievable.
"I talk to only intelligent people you know." I saw a faint smile.
"Now, come on." I tried to humor the hurt.
"When the authority figures try to blame a victim, I sense a hint of ignorance, rather lack of common sense."  There was helplessness and a reality check in the tone.
"I am sorry." I had no clue how to make that parent feel better.
"In olden days, they had those vigilante."  Those eyes were lost somewhere very far.
"You are not - - -" Now I was scared.
"Don't worry, I am just going to pull Junior out of the school. I guess the cost of private school is worth it after all."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Beautiful Earth, Six Billion People and Constant Agitation - - - - - -

So, Junior's upbringing is going fine. What do we have to worry about? A lot of Juniors out there, with only mom or dad at home, but not both of them.  Packing for weekends to go and have a good time with the one who does not spend time with them during the weekdays.
"Well, it is not as simple as that."  The same hurt in the voice again. A parent in pain.
"What now? What do you mean?" I should not be blamed for my concern, that tone always gets me, the tone of the hurting parent.
"I have to go and attend a conference, one to one you know!" I had an idea of what that could be.
"Why?" I needed details.
"Junior said the 'F' Word."  The gaze was on the floor this time.
I had to stay silent.
"I am not sorry, kind of proud actually." Now this was not expected.
"What?" I did not mean to be angry.
"You know Junior is a little overweight. Husky size is comfortable for him, you know the elastic band pants. So, during lunch break a bunch of boys pulled down his pants. His brief was showing. He said the "F" word. They deserve it."  Part of me was disturbed but who could blame a hurting parent.
I don't think that swearing is the answer, but standing up for one's self even at an early age has worked for some kids, only fear is that they might turn out to be bullies themselves.
Ellen De Generes' video is heart breaking. She is right we have a crisis at our hand.

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Monday, October 4, 2010

Beautiful Earth, Wonderful People finding Solace - - - - -

"It has been five years, aren't you going to start meeting people now?" I asked a friend who was divorced.
"No, I don't want to hurt Junior any more." I could see the pain of a parent in those cloudy eyes.
"What do you mean?" I am always nosy, when it comes to welfare of my friends.
"It is hard enough for him to deal with three parents." Now that was a logical answer.
"What about yourself?" My question was sincere.
"Well, I have to make a living, that keeps me quite busy, then I want to focus on Junior as much as possible.
Whatever time I have left, I entertain my self with self reflection. My hobby is to learn to improve my disposition." The smile was sarcastic. The calm in that voice was bitter, but somehow I got a feeling that Junior will grow up to be a good person. He will be fine.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Beautiful Earth, Lonely People and Regrets?

"I took care of my little part of this beautiful earth, you know," said someone who used to work with me.
"Yeah, " I smiled.
"Yes I did, in winter beautiful Holiday scenes, in Spring, my yard was full of Tulips, Daffodils and Hyacinths, in summer, you name the annuals and in fall my home was horrifically beautiful. "
"Oh, that sounds like a story book," was all I could come up with.
"Yes, my three quarters of an acre of this earth was kept like a story book, then I lost it all,"  I cannot say that I know the pain of divorce but I got an idea from the tone used.
"I am so sorry,"  I wish I could express how really sorry I was.
"Don't be, it was kind of my fault mostly, anyway,"  Now that took a lot of courage was what I was thinking.
"Don't be so harsh on yourself."  I had to calm down the outburst.
"The thing is, I hate a mess, it is such a turn off you know but I did not realize that nagging is a bigger turn off. When there is no peace in the house, I guess people turn to outsiders."  I could feel the bitterness behind that cough.
"You guys couldn't talk things out?"  I don't know how to shut up.
"Not, when things go too far, I mean when someone else was able to provide the peace and calm I could never give."

Friday, October 1, 2010

Beautiful Earth, Great People, Lonely -----?

"Just remember this, if you know me you have someone to talk to. I mean really, you could be my grandparents' age, my parents' age, my age, my siblings' age, my childrens' age , my grandchildrens' age or any age in between, you have my numbers, you can talk to me. I am not trained in any capacity what so ever but I am a human being just like you, so do not hesitate. Pour your heart out, if you have to. I probably will not have any solutions to your problems but getting them off of your chest may make you feel some what better."
I want to post the above message. A conversation I had a long time ago with a co - worker always haunts me.
"I don't smoke because I want to. I smoke because I have no one to talk to."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Beautiful Earth, lack of foresight and unhealthy kids -----

The other day, while being careful about spelling mistakes, I ended up sending some one the same message twice. What is happening to me? I used to multi task all the time. Will I put twice the sugar in a recipe? Now this is getting frightening. But wait -- I think I can pin this forgetfulness on the fact that I was worried about my neighbour's smoking and her kids. Then why don't I do something about her? I know my neighbours in my old neighbourhood for over thirty years. Did I make their business mine? No.
Imagine a six year old, going to ER four times and missing eight days of school and it is only January. This was eight years ago. I was not surprised then and I won't be surprised now. Four adults (two parents and two grandparents) all chain smokers living under the same roof with a six year old. This kid must be fourteen now. Junior High, peer pressure, awkward age and readily available cigarettes?
My husband thinks that I worry too much.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Mistakes, lack of foresight or bad habits --------?

I promised in a message I sent some one that I will be very careful with spellings and then I go and make spelling mistakes in the same message. Man ---- what is happening to me, am I developing a bad habit that I never had before? I am a Grandma, I got to be extra careful. Talk about careful, I remember a neighbour of ours asked me if I knew any one who can take their family cat.
"Aw," I said, "You are giving it away, is it a kitten?"
"No, " she said. "It is two years old, we have to give it away because my daughter has asthma." She was genuinely concerned.
"I have asthma too, so I am sorry we will not be able to take it," I said and I was really sorry."I will pass the word around ," I promised her. Then what do you think I noticed? she had a lit cigarette in her hand. She was leaning out of her window though, so there --- she was not being a bad Mom. What should I make out from this incident. Some one willing to give their pet away but not give up smoking? Or do they not realize what they could be doing to their kids?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Vulnerable Seniors, careless drivers, ruining our earth --------

I get very much discouraged about saving the natural beauty of our woods when I see people litter on the side of our highways and parkways. I was explaining to my kids a long time ago who the yellow-clothed people were on the side of Thruway 87 North going upstate towards Montreal, when my son expressed his disappointment in people who littered. "We throw our garbage in garbage cans at home don't we, why can't they?" 
"Well -- maybe they should have more garbage cans," should have been my answer or " maybe they should wait until they go home?" In any case, it is very convenient isn't it? Just role down the window and chuck. So, this has become an every day, every time habit? Your car is clean, never mind the road side. Oops, someone did not realize that there cigarette was still lit, and ----?
WHUD traffic report had announced that there was a long back up, maybe up to thirty five minutes, between Exit 15 and Exit 16.  My heart was in my throat.  What now? A fender bender? A rear ender?
What it turned out to be was a brush fire. Something that could have been prevented if people just took a few seconds to think about what could have happened.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Beautiful Earth, Grown up kids vulnerable parents ------

Twenty first of September, my little girl's birthday and I am borrowing her sweater to go to Applebees. God, how I wish we could shrink a dink our kids. (I know my grammar is wrong,but I like that expression --- long story). They grow up taller than you, smarter than you and yet are humble enough to giggle and hug when given gifts. Sending them to Universities, giving them sound education and guiding them through financial responsibilities made me vulnerable to my own insecurities. Will my husband and I be ever needed again? Birthdays and Holidays make me realize that I don't have to shrink a dink my kids, they make me feel needed by asking for our blessings and accepting with joy, the simplest things we give them. It is their birthday and they are enriching us !!!!
My generation has a lot of senior citizens. Among other insecurities, it is a nice feeling when you don't have to be worries about being needed.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Beautiful Earth, Great People------ very compassionate

Dana Reeve, Christopher Reeve's vibrant and sunny wife, was always praised by everyone who heard about her love for her husband (and rightfully so). She was really very gracious because she said "My job here is to be the voice of the many, many spouses who are care givers who do not have the advantage of the world patting them on their back." I say ditto to that. Standing by their hurting family members may seem hard, but if there is enough love, things may seem little less harsh. So, hang in there. Remember you have the graciousness of some one as cool as Dana Reeve.
Christopher Reeve did go through the thoughts of possibilities of having the plug pulled. Shattered C1 and C2 (May 95 accident) can do that to ones morale (when left quadriplegic).  Dana Reeves response was "You are still you and I love you."
Dana Reeve herself died of Lung Cancer at the age of forty four.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Beautiful Earth, Great People, Flexible ------ not wasteful.

"What a waste " was the first thought that came to my mind when a young girl, off loading a truck of merchandise told me that she was a graduate of RIT. I was a graduate too! So what, what was so different? I stayed quiet, thank God. Staying quite sometimes is so much better as you give others a chance to say further. Actually, self reflection was what I was going through when she kind of shook me.
"You have heard of RIT haven't you?"
"I know, we used to live in Rochester," was my automatic response. I was still involved in self pity. Being a stay-at-home mom does not prepare a woman for the working world but college? That too in America? Because for the longest time I thought of myself as insufficient because I had a degree from India and not here.
"It was kind of my fault," she said. "For choosing Photography as my major," she seemed upset. "No one wants to hire me, just unpaid internships you know. I have educational loans. So, they had an opening here."
"No, this is good, this is Gap you know," I said, I don't know if I was comforting her or myself.
"So, you don't think I wasted my parents money?" she asked.
"You have Student Loans too, don't you?"
"Yes, some," she said.
"You would not have taken loans, if you did not want to go now, would you?"
"No, " she said.
"Then it is not a waste," I said. "A degree is more than just a job voucher." I said.
College is not a waste as long as you learned something there. Your education is worth more than just a degree.
PS. There is actually a thing called Job Voucher that is given to people in India, so they can go work in England.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Beautiful Earth, Great People Unemployed -------

"I see trees of green, red roses too ---" way back when I was in college I did not even know about Louis Armstrong, but I always imagined the world to be a beautiful place. Green grass, green trees and all kinds of flowers, all colours. My favourite subject was Botany. Then the word came along that people with economics major were in great demand when it came to getting a job.
"Waiting for a call after an interview is no less than an ache in the belly that you get when scrambling for a scholarship," said one of our University alumni. There you go, no more fun learning, no more passion for the subject. Oh well, at least we were in the University bunch, versus people who did not finish high school. Here in the US, my husband and I decided that I will be a stay home Mom. I neither worked in a flower shop nor a bank. Classes that inspired me and ideas that I thought would work for me economically may have betrayed me but without meaning to. I still look back, still miss my friends, my professors and the University grounds. They enriched my life much more than my degree could ever do.
Today, I see a lot of University graduates being unemployed, putting off their loan payments and wondering if they will send their kids to college at such high cost when a degree makes promises it may not keep.
"Debt catches up with you very fast, it is best to live within your means," said a young Dad who worked with me.
But how? I wondered. Does living have to exclude "the planning for your kids college part?" or can we start a life style that will exclude spending on competition gifts?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Gen X" "Gen Y", Great Parents ------ Beautiful Offsprings, Beautiful Earth

When a bunch of high school girls pulled up a scheme to get pregnant at the same time, I was scared speechless. Coming from India, where mothers' ages range from early teens to mid thirties (on average), I believed that people should have kids only when they are ready. I mean really ready, financially, emotionally, timewise and energy wise.
I would not like to label my grandkids as "Gen Z" as I don't know what kind of characteristics will be attributed to them. All I know is that people born in the seventies and eighties are well rounded and they will raise awesome kids. From being individualistic, tech savvy, ambitious, and flexible, to being team players and religious "Gen X" and "Gen Y" are good in balancing money and time, not neglecting values.  The millennials make take their time and may seem cold but any responsibility they take, they do their best to fulfill. They could never be apathetic.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Beautiful Earth, Beutiful Minds, Great People, Gen "X" Gen "Y"

Sure all parents are expected to have some influence on their children.
"I had great parents, especially my Father and my Mother," I told my daughter one day. My daughter started laughing.
"What are you saying!!!" she said. I blinked for a moment. She had a reason to laugh. Who else would be my parents? She seemed puzzled. I had to explain something to her that she took time understanding. The fact is, in India, where we had a joint family, everyone was like a parent when it came to watching out for us, our Grandmas (both sides) our uncles, aunties and even our help and sometimes our neighbours. School was an other source of information about good and bad. Today we are lucky in a whole new way. My kids are influenced by some very good people --- people who went to school with them --- a few close friends who in spite of the harshness of Junior High and parts of High School years would not let their friendship weaver. So hurray for Gen "X" and Gen "Y".

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Beautiful Earth, healthy bodies ------- --and minds?

"My Mom is dying inside" said one of my co- workers.
"About your ----?" I was hesitating to bring up her son's problems.
"Yes" she said looking away.
"Awe--" I was looking for words.
"You know Munir --" she said almost choking. "It would be much easier for Grandma to talk about her grandson if he had  --- may be cancer?"
"Don't say that." I gasped, my words were not clear and she was not listening. She was just venting, venting about the fact that we cannot talk about certain issues in our society and this is twenty-first century.
I just finished reading a book A Corner of the Universe  by Ann M. Martin. It is very enlightening. It is a story from the sixties (part of it being true.) I won't ruin the ending but it has some pretty powerful messages.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Beautiful Earth, people and problems ----- what can we do?

On one hand fighting hunger and on the other trying to make people understand the value of eating right --- I mean not over eating and not over eating bad food. The whole world looks up to America as a guide when it comes to  fashion,  music, scientific discoveries ( and rightfully so), movie themes, industrialization and capitalism. However I would not like America  to have the most number of people who do not eat right. Not eating right has so many disadvantages starting from unnecessary weight gain to taking risks of getting life threatening diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes and certain types of cancers. Tonight the SU2C special  was so touching specially when Steve Wonder and party sang the unforgettable song  from the movie Ghost and Neil Diamond sang "Yesterday". I know that the celebrities who put this program together are awesome, but my prayers are also for people who are doing their research quietly behind their cubicles and documenting their data. As we donate and or walk or take a stand against cancer and or other diseases, let us try to do our part at home and we all know what that is.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Do as I do, beautiful Earth ------- and People?

Yes, this Earth is beautiful, including the Oceans (including pictures people draw.) Now, let's assume that we are taking the best possible care of our Mother Earth  (recycling and saving it from trash that is not biodegradable.) But are we overlooking something ---- something that is as important as the Earth itself and, even if I say so, maybe more important?
"What?" asked my husband." Air, water?" 
"Try population," I said.
"Really?" he asked.
"I would think so." I said. I believe it too. Why do we save this Earth and the atmosphere from getting polluted? Isn't it to leave them good enough for future generations?  This thought came to my mind when my daughter came and shared with me what she learned in a meeting at work. Eight million people are hungry on this earth and I don't mean "I am getting late for dinner" hungry but they did not eat for a few days. Also get this, over a billion people are overweight. Somewhere here is a message that may be if we try we can help the hungry and without offending anyone (myself included) we can help people to get into healthier habit.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Rainbow colours, do as I do ------ beautiful Earth !!!

I think of Canada as a docile and harmless little sister of the USA. My family trip to Toronto last December was a bitter sweet one.  Among the hassles of being in a wedding party, were the chilblains from wearing dresses from delicate and light materials and shoes that were not at all meant for Toronto in December. A December wedding in Toronto? Wow, every one who heard that was as amazed as a circus audience. Every day we would be in and out a dozen times, running last minute errands etc. However, I could not help but admire my sister in law's practice of  handling the unwanted material (trash) in her kitchen. She had a separate bin each for paper, metal, glass and plastic on the floor and a cute little bin for biodegradable refuge (as she calls it) in a corner on top of the counter by the sink. Wow, such pains, I thought and I let her know how she is doing such a favour to our mother Earth. She said that she is glad that now she can do this because as many places as she had moved, this was just about the only one neighbourhood (or town) where she has to do this by law !!  She in return gets a bag full of compost every spring from the refuge collectors. What a good practice. I only dream of the day when every town and every country would make people do this. Then we would be able to keep our Earth beautiful. Explain the concept of recycling to kids and try as much as you can to do what you are teaching them to do ------- then see that the colours of our Earth will be as beautiful as a Rainbow.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Rainbow colours -----"Do as I do"

Yes, welcome to reality. Even with rainbow colours do as I do will work better than do as I say. "If you get a double cheese burger, a large pack of french fries and a large soda (32 oz) and sit down next to your five year old offering him baby carrots and mac and cheese or an egg salad sandwich, you think that he is not going to want your food, you must be in an other world," I told a young mother (one of my co-workers.) "That means I have to eat his food," she said, sounding disappointed. A few weeks later, she complained,  "I cannot survive like this." 
"You mean eating healthy." I was having fun with her willingness to change for her kid.
"It is boring," she pouted.
"It will not be, if you imagine saving yourself from having to go through an angioplasty and scaring the daylights out of your son ten years from now."

Friday, September 3, 2010

Kids, Rainbows and vegetables?

Yesterday's blog made me wonder as to how we can use the love of rainbow for our kids' advantage. That got me thinking. How about we let our kids write down the colours of a rainbow, then ask them what colour of the rainbow they would like their vegetables/ or fruit to be served in. Simple: Red, (tomatoes apples or even red raspberries)  Orange(oranges or carrots)  Yellow (corn on the cob, banana yellow squash)  Green(spinach, kale, lettuce,pears)  Blue (blue berries,)  Indigo,(purple or graffiti eggplant is the closest you can get)  Violet (purple grapes).  Let them come up with any new vegetable or fruit they might look up. Holland peppers come in beautiful yellow and orange and capsicum come  in green or red in the USA. Exotic fruits like Mangoes and Pomegranate come in red. You can teach about Kiwi that comes in green, but an allergic reaction is not uncommon. Have fun with healthy food and you may not have to worry about getting them to eat their vegetable.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Kids, Kaleidscope and Rainbows

"Thank God, rainbows are in the sky, no one can spoil them," said a first grader when I was shadowing my Hindi teacher. "That's right, you are very smart," I said, and my Hindi teacher gave me a thumbs up.
"Wow," I said as I sat down with my Hindi teacher for my review as a peer teacher. "That was so profound." "Yes" my teacher said. "About the rainbow? You know Munir, all babies are born with pure colours, I mean qualities, as good as or may be better than a rainbows. When we start to grow up however they get sorted out and separated. Then it seems like our colours are locked up in a Kaleidoscope, we see them in different designs but they are still limited and not as pure as a rainbow's."

That was a very heavy statement. I was then a teenager and of different faith than hers, so I remained silent. For a long time I could not get the bubbly feeling that every one gets from a Kaleidoscope. Years later, I realized what she meant. Now I am open minded about different concepts  ------ even those that are not main stream.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Confidence : Part of "PROJECT SEPT---ember"

I was discussing my project "SEPT--ember" with my daughter. She had a lot of thoughts on the subject. Here is an example:

School can be rough specially for a kid who does not have self confidence. Lets make sure all the kids in our lives know how awesome they truly are regardless of what any one might think.

One of her friends mentioned that kids get confidence from trying different activities.

Hey, we can never have too many ideas ----- when it comes to our awesome little ones who will grow up to be just as awesome grown ups.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"PROJECT SEPT---ember"

"Self Esteem Protection Team"
To Join :
No money needed -----> Not a cent.
One can be of any gender, race, religion, nationality or marital status. You can take part in this project as long as you come from a place "where there is care for humanity."  Educational requirements: zero credits to PHD. Skills needed:- Capacity to tell a kid five years or younger that he or she is very special and he or she is not less than any one in this whole world.  Also you need the capacity to tell a five year old or older kid that he or she is not less than any one in the world and no one in the world is less than him or her. If we have enough people it will not be long before this project will be able to lift off. Best Wishes for the new school year!!! Mom And Dads too!!


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sneakers on Clearance !!!

So your attitude is as positive as it can get and you have the most comfortable pair of sneakers you can find, what is stopping you from working out? hmm--- mm-- may be you did not get enough sleep. Sleep good at night and the next morning be on your guard and set a goal. In the beginning you might feel that you are your own teacher, but setting up a goal might actually help you with adhering to it. Yes, make sure that your work out time suits your schedule. Five or ten minutes warm up and light stretching before you start a work out is very important and so is stretching after any heavy exercise to cool off. Keeping your self hydrated by drinking eight of 8oz glasses of water a day and may be Gatorade or other electrolyte replacement drinks should keep you from getting dehydrated. Check with your doctor before starting a really heavy exercise routine and if you are a recovering patient it is always good to have a friend at your side. You have to talk to yourself about your goals and then figure out what needs to be done and then do it. You set a goal for yourself, achieve it and then may be go beyond it. You will not be the first one to do that.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Job hurdles and or Stop signs for advancement in career ---- or compassion?

When a young mother leaves a good position at work and postpones an advncement towards her career or a wife leaves a job so she can take care of her husband, they have other important things in mind than making the money. Agree or not, happiness and well being of one's family are on the top of the priority list for most of us today. the closest runner up ---- almost a tie, is our health. These two factors make our life worth living. Ofcourse personal and career goals are always there. As we work towards advancing within our career, we may notice that family and health will always be ahead.
What about ethics? Do we let our ambition dictate us about ethics? Then we have to watch out for the workoholics in us. Also is the workoholic in us paying attention to vacation and leisure?  So, getting ahead in our career, gaining knowledge and acheiving experise in manufacturing and or service is somewhere in the middle of our priority list --- at least I hope.  Having a good heart, taking care of our families taking care of our health may actually leave us mentally fit to become expert in our fields. Money and economics are going to complete the circle. Do not make living a chore. Making an occupation of your life will leave very little energy for the job that pays you. The aims in life, specially when it comes to aquiring material goods or even a big bank account will eventually make you tired of having to make money.----