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.