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NIDIA 20: Distant Dreams

He complimented me about living in a nice part of the metroplex and said I made a good choice to go to school in Denton. 

SB: “I came to the US eleven years ago. Went to school here and graduated from high school. Are you from India miss?”

I uttered a how did you recognise me to be from India while laughing my heart out [It is not hard for people. I wear a bottu always]

He smiled and asked me “Don’t we all from outside the US look a lot same like people from one country miss?” He continued talking. “I was raised as one of the many children for my parents in Liberia miss. So, what do you go to school for? Nursing? Lots of Indians are doctors and nurses. Do you know that hospital on Independence, Presbyterian something? They have a lot of doctors from India there miss”

I am in Adapted Sports…[pausing a second to say] like Paralympic sports..Do you know about it?

SB: “Oh yeah! you guys do that sports thing with peoples who have disabilities right? That is such a blessed work. So nice so nice miss!”

I paused a bit before I continued talking because I didn’t know his name and I am so used to conversing with people by using their names where ever possible. “So, have you seen any adapted games in live?” 

SB: “No, but we know. They are everywhere these days. You see ads and all and then you see so many friends sharing these videos on Facebook always. It is amazing that people who don’t have hands and legs can do so much!”

Does Super Shuttle treat you well?

SB: “Oh yeah! I work 5 day/week. They are very fair and nice people at work.

That is good! Its good to know they treat you well! So you help your family back home? You send them money?

SB: “Yeah, I send $100 and that is about 8500 money back home. Helps a lot to send even $100…So… You get scholarships? A lot of Indians I pick up every week. All of them in colleges. Every Indian takes college seriously. Always working hard in college. No fooling around. So many rich Indians in Plano and Frisco. So nice to know hard work pays someday.”

[By now I was smiling and imagining the multiple factors that contribute to the ‘high’ number of Indians in Plano and Frisco. And coming to many Indians in colleges, I can’t but wonder how many even know where they are headed.]

I break my thoughts and say, “Yeah, studying beyond high school is important and for some people it works. They have help. Turning back looking at me with a smile in his eyes, he nodded affirmative. 

SB: “Yeah, my brothers and sisters are old enough to come and work here now. I am processing the papers and they should come here soon. I want to save enough for myself also because I want to go to college too. Someday.. Now if they come and can earn too, we can all go to school. So, do you get a scholarship miss?”

I am on a student loan for tuition and an on campus job pays my bills. 

SB: “Oh, that is good! Very good!”

You can sometimes qualify for some university programs that will help you pay for college but that will put you out of work because you should go to school full time then. 

SB: “Yeah, that is nice but I can’t do that now. But once my brothers and sisters come here, I will definitely try to apply for such programs. Thank you for telling me. I never thought of such options.”

Do you know that some of my most favourite songs are by a Jamaican band called Boney M?

[I cannot believe to how many people of African heritage that I have introduced Boney M. It is like I am born many years after they stopped singing but I am still stuck in their peak years of music]

I played the song on Youtube for him on loud volume and he was all tearing up listening to that song. I quickly scribbled the song’s name for him on a piece of paper as we pulled into the airport. 

SB: “In my country, there are so many languages. Don’t know what language this is but the music reminds me of home..my country.. I haven’t gone home on 11 years. Next year I want to go home.. [He broke down and kept wiping his eyes with his collar]

So you are finally going to meet your family? 

SB: “My parents are long gone. When we were kids. I just miss my country and my home. I will go next year if I am lucky”

I got down the shuttle, gave him a ten dollar bill and told him, “this is not a lot but I want you to continue and believe that your siblings will come here. You will all be family again. I want you to go to college some day and feel proud of what ever you want to pursue as a career. I want you to help more Liberians study and do well.”

For many of us, we get to eat a meal we crave for, buy what ever we desire and watch a movie we want to. Our family ( or parents) are a call away. Or even sometimes, hardly a plane ride away. But unfortunately how often I see that these exact blessings are so invisible to us. We don’t realise how irreplaceable these people are and how invaluable their presence in our life is. We are lost in our own perceptions and pains leading everyone around us into a vicious cycle. I wonder how would the same perceptions and pains take shape if one is made to face the decision of their life with life and death on either sides of one single choice one has to make: Like leaving one’s country for almost forever to find a safe job to work in and send money home.

I was on my way to a vacation last Thanksgiving and this conversation happened. I got on the flight with a lump in my throat and cried out (while writing this in my journal) till I could almost forget the look I saw in Sangray Bangalee’s eyes. It is a curse sometimes when you can be sensitive to other person’s suffering. Everyday when I pray, I wonder if his siblings are here and if they are all one happy family living together. Sangray’s case is not alone. We cannot solve all the world’s problems. But we can at least regard what blessings we have. We can share our blessings with others. That is all that we can do as mere humans. Otherwise, we will, as a human race continue to grow in numbers but be of the worst possible quality.

 

 

 

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NIDIA 12 – Why being kind matters today..

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One random act of kindness,

A God sent bundle of brightness,

I will always remember, and  vow to pay it forward with splendor. 

 

When: Last week

Where: Dallas North Tollway & Hyderabad, India

Rarely do I enjoy reading blogs that are anonymous. Obviously I avoid writing anonymous ones on my website. But last week, a person that I never met in my life went out of their way to help me. I would like to dedicate this post to them. The joy of receiving help when you least expect it is unexplainable. What makes people go out their way to help others? I always asked myself this question. Fast forward from last week’s random act of kindness, I was talking to my dad yesterday. Well, I talk to him almost everyday you see! 😉 . I was complaining to my father how I was unhappy to interact with one particular person on my school campus on a regular basis. My dad let me complain once and right at the time when I was beginning to rant, he cut me short. My father worked in a public sector company for over 35 years. He excelled in his job. He was the ‘go-to’ guy for anyone in need of help for banking or financial advice. He did not have a fancy degree. He never got educated abroad. What helped him work his way up in the organization? What made him the best among his peers? When my dad cut me short before I began ranting, he was quite annoyed. He was annoyed because we talked about this always. By writing about it, I am trying to teach myself to never forget it. My dad said to me,

“Padmini!! Just stop speaking right now!!!  How many times have I told you that complaining doesn’t help! You have to put up a brave front and keenly record how this person is behaving with you. You record so that you never do it anyone else. You record it so that you never want the same thing to happen to someone else under your watch. That is what I did exactly from day one of my job. I never hurt anyone who worked under my watch with the same things that hurt me. That is the reason so many people love me!”  

The last line he spoke and the pride with which he stated it made me clear my mind in one second. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world, being randomly kind to people makes them happy. It makes life easy for someone who could use a helping hand just that day. That gentle push, that firm pat on their back. Much needed hope in tough times. That is all that people need. I teach a bunch of freshman kids in school. A lot of people, much higher in authority to me tried ‘brainwashing’ me that freshman kids are tough to handle. They are rude. They will make your life as a teaching assistant hell. They have bad attitudes!! The list is endless. I will disagree with them all. These kids are the best ones in the world. They or anyone around us need just a little bit of kindness. A gentle dose of random kindness that will make them smile. You will be amazed at the miracles they can deliver. My dad went out of his way whenever he could perform a random act of kindness. Today when I am surrounded by people who are randomly kind to me, I know it the same kindness that my dad sent out into this world that is coming back to me in a different form. Thank you daddy. I will never forget this one. Will always put it into practice.

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Pieces of Peace

Where & When?
Cubbon Park, Bengaluru,2009.

It’s been a day since I posted a picture with two lines on peace. But for almost 24 hours I have been looking for a right opening line for this article.Now I am at this place where I am surrounded by people from all walks of life and I hear a multitude of conversations.

One conversation in particular has motivated me to start and finish this article I was planning to post.
There are so many people in the world today who are so distressed about life/career/relationships/financial crises. I often wish there is a magic wand to help them find peace. Well! I know it is foolish to want a magic wand for peace.

Life has taught me this about peace:

Comparison is the worst enemy for any human’s mental peace
Success is relative
And discussing and debating about ‘people’ is the lowest part of a person’s intellectual life.

(Intellectual life in my dictionary means the part of your life when you engage your intellect to work )

As a trained health care professional, I am particularly surprised when people ‘pay’ to start looking for peace.
Yeah! I know you are starting to get a list of organisations and companies that make money on selling common sense to people. 🙂 I won’t list them.Like always, the same rule of anonymity I follow.No names please.

It is human to err and it is absolutely human to keep making errors till you correct yourself one fine day.
What results in loss of peace at any stage of adult human life is when you begin the analysis of those errors.According to me,a majority of people who never care to analyse the errors in their life are the ones who are living mediocre. It is because I see that they affect other people’s lives with their errors.It is not wrong to analyse an error. But what variables you choose to include in that analysis will be the ultimate guide for your peace.

The worst picks for analysis of an error would be :

Comparison
Discussion of people involved in the error
The failure that surrounds the error
(Errors will not always end in failures!)

Rather the right variables to pick would be:

What were your investments?
Was the process well planned?
Were you able to learn from the results that you are currently holding in your hand?

I know in India, this is rarely taught. Most of the times, ‘success’ is equated to ‘victory'( again defined as superiority over your competitors). That is where all the progressive downward spiral in being peaceful starts.

Most of them who know me know that

I am not super wealthy(read money wealthy!)
I don’t wear brands for clothing and accessories
I don’t hang out and eat in expensive restaurants
They still know that
I am courageous in making my decisions
I rarely regret my life
I do often complain but very soon figure out a solution around my problems

I persist in the face of failure despite being teary and burnt out.

According to what life has taught me, if you can be all the above three lines, then you know how to find peace among chaos everyday.

What would it be if you answer all the choices in MCQs of an examination and expect to score full marks?
Anyone would call you a fool. Paying for Peace is very similar to that.

Trying to find peace is all about

Identifying and Isolating the things that disrupt your everyday life. When these two steps become regular variables in your equation to balance life, you will stop trying to find peace 🙂 for you are already in peace with yourself.

That’s when you will tell someone,

Peace cannot be b’o’ught,
It can only be b’r’ought!

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Love and Luck

Yeah I know! Long time no see 🙂
This is no Valentines Day special, nor am I eating chocolates and counting rose petals 🙂

Clicked this at the Boston Harbour, Summer , 2011. When I shot this, I was amazed at how much they were in Love. I have been looking at this photograph for almost 8 months now trying to frame a few words.Always fell short of words. Today brought these words to my head 🙂

When you spend your time in the company of wonderful humans who can,

Laugh without rules,
And give without blues,
Life becomes a ride worth driving,
And Love happens to be a boon worth sharing.

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My own foolishness of choice!!!

 

There were days when I sat and thought if I’d ever receive any help!!!! Ya I learnt it hard way that life is full of mazes and puzzles while I was here, stuck in a maze at a dead end .I always did what most of us do. I kept asking myself Why me!!!!

I always did fail to ask myself another question !!! Why not me !!! I know it puzzles some of you to why I should have thought so. Here I was facing one of the biggest challenges of my education phase, stuck in a situation that was affecting me badly.The world is filled up to the brim with more serious problems like poverty and hunger , I do not wish to put my tiny complaint high above them all and so  I  shall not discuss my situation here in detail…

I was here fighting against one organisation and the situation was getting more and more like Me Vs Them

During the initial stages of my fight I always asked myself the wrong question,

“why me?”

I wasn’t looking at how many ways the problem was helping me.I was fighting against the organisation everyday but everyday was another war for me against my flaws.

I was trying to better myself every minute I spent there. Why ????
I dint want to give them even a single chance against me .

I started taking my hobbies more seriously. I started improving at a pace where  my family even thought I might end up shifting my career to being a photographer than a therapist. 

One day I stop and look back at all those sleepless nights I cried out on the pillows to why I was the only one who is suffering.I am surprised at the progress I’ve made. I am surprised at how best the problem has chiselled my talents.

How “the problem” nurtured me carefully like a mother from an immature rebel kid to a mature independent young lady.

The problem for me at a time was everything that associated me with that place. Everything that sent me back to that place.

The situation, the people who were responsible for it, the people who had the power but refused to help me!!!

But when I started looking for a solution with more desperate measures, I realised the solution was within me!

I was not noticing what the problem was helping me become!

There were days I got kicked at in my study place! There were days my things went missing at the right time I needed them. All these caused me a lot of pain though not physically the trauma was badly cutting through my heart.

It all hurt me because I wasn’t in a situation to question them back.

There came a day when someone told me it was the rule of life… the rule of karma!

I was supposedly doing my share of karma that i chose for before god put me onto this earth.I was to do my share of suffering to enjoy my share of happiness.I will not categorise it under any name, religious , spiritual or superstitious belief.. I will only call it a belief!!!! For all the reasons and explanations that I received from countless people when I approached them for help this one made a lot of sense to me!

But everytime I started analysing and linking up one good incident and one bad challenge I was facing, I was enjoying the analogy more and smiling at my own foolishness of choice rather than feel bad!

I chose to get kicked in exchange of a DSLR????? (That is one of the best gifts I ever received!!) OMG!!! What was I doing when God gave me that MCQ sheets to choose the Good and Bad incidents of life!!

The problem hasn’t vanished even today … No miracles took place! No saviour angel appeared!!!

Every time I face a blow at that place! I wait a second and recollect one best thing that is right now happening in my life and I end up laughing at my own foolishness of choice!!! 

The power of laughter and happiness gives me double the strength to stand up against them yet another time.I wonder it still pisses them off to how I am still Happy 😀

 

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