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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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Where: Shenoy Nursing Home,Secunderabad
When: 1986, October 29th
Who: This is me. Yes, Jussri. Since I’ve always posted pics of others here I thought, this article would be the best only if I put in my pic.

I post a lot of pictures of random people and scenes on my website. I like to spread goodness around me. These days I meet a lot of people who often ask me if I am a photographer. Well my answer would be a yes-no. I have forever used photography as a medium to attract people to read my scribbles. Alongside in life I developed a love to capture other people smiling. That is how I ended up taking assignments. But if you ask me who am I?

I am a qualified Physical Therapist working towards contributing back to the field in my little way. Photography and writing help me spread the good things that I was brought up with.In two days from now, my parents celebrate their birthdays which are on May 9th and 10th :)[Yeah yeah, both are Taurus(eans) 🙂 ]. This post would be the only best gift I can give to them. Having talked about the ‘ Why’ part of this write up, I will now move to the ‘what’ part of it.

Every time we rushed home to complain that the teacher caned us bad,my mother’s standard question round was the first wall to hit. I swear to God I have never hated anyone more than my mother all those years. At times I felt she enjoyed making us feel bad.She would start her conversation like this.

“Nuvvem chesaavo cheppu” ( First tell me what did you do)
Well, it was difficult to hide facts from her.
“Memedho arusthonte kopam lo kottindhi sister( Yeah, yeah we were yelling and sister caned us[I studied in a catholic convent and we called our teachers Sisters(nuns)]

Then she would start her reverse engineered explanation for the entire situation. You are three kids for me at home to take care. I still find it difficult to manage you. How can sister make 60 students quite in 45 minutes?
I think it is justified she caned you guys!
Justification for the caning done!
No more arguments your honour.
And we disperse. This was the order of our life all through out our schooling.
Everytime there was a complaint from us, my mom went back to the root of the issue. Looking for the cause.

Fast forward many many years and I am in my General Medicine lecture. Day 1. Dr Joshi. A veteran general medicine specialist from our hospital was taking our first class.
Two things he spoke that day have remained in my mind forever.

1. Developing an inquisitive mind.
2. Believing that every problem/obstacle had a cause for it at a grass root level.

20 years of listening to those two lines and a professor telling you the same point in a medical school!
I really needed a break from listening to the same stuff every where i went. Looks like every one has same mothers like mine. But having been through medical school, surfacing out of a hell hole with minimal scarring, fighting my way through tough situations in life, I can never thank my mother enough for teaching me my basics right.

In these days of arm chair activists and anti-arm chair activists, I want to send out a plea.
Look with in yourself. Are you doing absolutely the best thing right now?
Are you able to show the strength of your character in testing times?(by not giving into temptations and short cut ways to success and wealth)
Can you say a No to yourself and strike a balance in the temper times?

Well, when I was tested, I asked myself these questions.More precisely,I was taught to ask myself these questions.I have always been this, ‘ drops of water make an ocean’ kind of activist for social causes. For all of you who are bugged by the over motivational videos and shows that keep cropping up around you every once in a while:
Stop watching television
Pick a hobby
Make a to-do list
Appreciate little things
Spend time with the elders in your family , let them tell you stories from their life
Count numbers when you are angry.

I never liked growing up under the iron hand rule of my parents. Today I absolutely cherish those moments. Today I am glad I grew under their parenting.

For all the challenges I faced,I surfaced unscathed because I was taught one best thing right.

Problems are mere situations and the solutions are right within them if you look at the roots, routes and causes.
Here’s thanking my parents for giving me an excellent up bringing. I thank God for letting me be your daughter folks 🙂 Have an awesome year ahead.

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of Roots, Routes and Causes

I am a qualified Physical Therapist working towards contributing back to the field in my little way. Photography and writing help me spread the good things that I was brought up with.In two days from now, my parents celebrate their birthdays which are on May 9th and 10th :)[Yeah yeah, both are Taurus(eans) 🙂 ]. This post would be the only best thing gift I can give to them. Having talked about the ‘ Why’ part of this write up, I will now move to the ‘what’ part of it.

Every time we rushed home to complain that the teacher caned us bad,my mother’s standard question round was the first wall to hit. I swear to God I have never hated anyone more than my mother all those years. At times I felt she enjoyed making us feel bad.She would start her conversation like this.

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Why am I in love again….

I must accept I am very indisciplined when it comes to blogging. Never mind coz I haven’t signed up any contracts 😀   Last few weeks in my life have been so normal and peaceful that I sometimes ask my siblings to pinch me to feel it is all so real. From the day I have landed in this country I have been coming across so many new things that the list goes endless.

I just love the almost zero pollution environment here.

The traffic discipline!!!! amazingly depressing…sometimes i feel like walking out of the car running away. I know i know the safety first thing …so good about it but ya i miss the hyderabadi autowallah’s torture turns . You can be sure to end up on a hospital bed even if you are following traffic rules 🙂 . Here your saved from that .

The houses how perfectly planned and lined up they are!! I feel the best part about them being like that is how much ever junk you dump around , the houses still look great!So ideal for someone like me.

The way some stranger on the side walk looks into your face and wishes you a hi how are you doing today with a sunshine smile..

The way people binge on tempting calorie filled foods and the way they just rush to the gym to burn it all out. Balancing acts huh!!! 🙂  Just the way they sit back and enjoy life unlike so many of us who are always on a run to achieve things than accomplish them.

The way you can take up any hobby that appeals to you just by walking into a store. The way they stack up their stores meticulously. Ah!! how I dream of a day when I can wake up and become a carpenter when I want to make frames for my photo works. (the outcome doesnt matter you get to try your hand at it atleast buddy)

I hate to compare it all with anything back home just for some reasons like how much we lag behind when compared with them.

WE have a very small piece of land with too many humans eating out of it.

So with no comparisons I can say I just am in love with this nation for many more reasons. The list will never end.

I shall scribble again!!! See ya…

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Classic Carnatics to Mesmerising Mass Beats.

Every day I settle down to write the daily post, I begin to wonder what I will be writing about. Had a sumptuous Sunday meal just now J.Well the menu’s a typical telugu  one (keeping in view the number of overseas friends and relatives who read my entries daily i keep away from writing it’s details 😉 )Last night was tough with power cut, but see it is technology again that has saved me .I had my laptop fully charged and the saved playlists saved me.

How time stands still when music takes over....

How time stands still when music takes over....

Music has always been an integral part of my life. And the genre spans over a huge range. Nothing in particular like a favourite artist or band. Most of the times, language is no barrier- Latin beats to carnatic classical, everything entices me.  But ya M S amma’s rendering of the timeless carnatic music  always is a divine solace for me. While I have continued to train myself always in rendering vocal music  I always selected the versions to be either carnatic or telugu light music.

But when it came to something that kept my mood upbeat or lifted my spirits, the choice has always been too shocking for people who know me. To all the readers who are familiar with telugu music my choice of songs always revolves around mass and folk beats.36-24-36 , aakalesthe annam pedtha, and nuv whistle esthe Andhra soda.. J)

It startles me when I hear my peer group speak of Akon , Linking Park and whatever.They never attracted my ears as much as these local “mana” beats attracted my attention. And ya I do listen to foreign bands too 😀 But they are a bit oldies. ABBA and Boney M . Ya! My choice of things has always been different from my counterparts.My friends and relatives always make fun of my choice of music. But I feel music transcends barriers of language,genre and importantly TIME  for me.It is something that makes me forget my worries, soothes my tense nerves and importantly permits me to learn it so that I can sing it to myself whenever I feel like. One reason as to why the typical popular bands and music don’t  appeal to me is, the lack of clarity in music and lyrics.Though all the bands don’t  give music like head banging stuff, I don’t feel relaxed singing a slang filled English number that has more of words that vent out the frustration in the singer than give some solace to the singer. May be the music  can transport me away from my low spirits or something for sometime, but it doesn’t give me any peace of mind.

 How singers put in their heart and soul into the song to make it such a great masterpiece itself wonders me. I always feel How time stands still for me when musicz plugged in  !!!

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