30 November 2015

No thank you! I am not going to post that.

This Thanksgiving, I have been somewhat overwhelmed by a lot of of FB friends posting a standard body of text that basically reminds all of us about the less fortunate among us. And as a measure of support, the posts want me to copy and paste the same post on my FB page for an hour.

I absolutely respect everybody’s right to express their opinions and emotions in their own way, provided it is not meant to harm anybody. And if cutting and pasting a standard body of text for an hour gives anybody a sense of standing in solidarity with the less fortunate, I say “Go for it”. Any thought counts.

However, if you could spare a second to think for a moment more, maybe there is a more effective way of turning your compassion into something that is a little more meaningful? Does seeing your cut and paste text really make any difference to the less fortunate ones? Assuming they are trolling your FB pages to catch the text within the hour that it is posted? Is that even the way they want to be recognized by others?

Again, if that is what gives anybody the sense  of accomplishment or compassion or expression of the same, then do it. Drop that “I will understand if I do not see your name” part, though. That is too patronizing.

It appears to me that there are more meaningful ways to show the same compassion. I am sure you know somebody less fortunate. Somebody whose parents passed away recently. Somebody who lost a child. Somebody who is having difficulty making ends meet. Somebody who is struggling with health issues…. Why not log off that FB and call one of them up? Talk to them for ten minutes. Visit them if you can. Find out how are they doing. Everybody has a story. Bring it out.

And then, if you wish, write on FB about the call and the story. Now that is a post I am going share and put on my FB page. Forget one hour. I am not ever bringing that post down.

29 November 2015

“The great difference between voyages rests not with the ships, but with the people you meet on them.”

Thus spaketh Amelia Barr – the British novelist from the 1800s. In my own personal voyage, fashionably called “life”, I met a fascinating person this evening that reminded me so much about Amelia.

Sharmila, the kids and myself were a little early at the Dallas airport for our flight back home to Atlanta. We checked into the Skyclub. The kids settled down – predictably near power outlets and after securing the Wifi password from the lady at the front. Sharmila and I settled down at a random table and I went to the bar to grab a drink for us. At the bar, a familiar scenario played out. The lady asked me what she could get me. I said, as is my wont :-), “a million dollars”. Once she picked herself up after laughing her heart out, we started getting to know each other a little more.

For the next half an hour so (fortunately the bar on a late Saturday evening was not particularly crowded) I got to know Nancy Towne’s life journey a little more. Nancy is about five years older than my mom in India. And somewhere she mentioned “… when I came to this country….” A myriad of questions later, I figured out that Nancy was born in Copenhagen (we exchanged notes from the only trip I made to Denmark) and then moved to the USA. She has lived in many countries – thanks to her husband’s job in the Oil and Gas sector.

She had retired some time back. But then she lost her husband five years back. To keep herself productive and occupied, she joined as a volunteer at the DFW airport. Eventually, she took up a job and is now at the Delta Skyclub. What I was struck by was her zest for life and cheerfulness. She said she picked up this job so as to meet more people. She said that she has met some of the best people in her life in the airport and at the Skyclub.

After chatting with her for about half an hour, I called Sharmila and asked her to take a picture of us. If any of you are traveling Delta to or thru DFW, don’t forget to drop by the Skyclub and say Hi to this gem of a human being. Regardless of your disposition, you will come out very cheerful!

As an epilogue: Nancy lost her daughter this year to cancer. Coincidentally enough, Amelia had lost her husband and most of her kids to untimely deaths…


29 November 2015

Sometimes Thanksgiving means this…

For years, Thanksgiving has meant taking the only real family I have within ten thousand miles – Sharmila and two daughters to a different country. Being in a foreign land, it has often brought the family closer together – thru as simple things as Tasha having a tummy upset in Peru  and the three of us trying with our best Spanish how to find a medication… to the four of us taking a collective breath as we saw the beauty of Arenal  volcano together in Costa Rica.  This year though, we did not plan any travel abroad to give Tasha flexibility of time to apply to colleges. As we got closer to Thanksgiving though, she realized she is ahead of the game – so we took them to Dallas. This is where they were born. Many years from now, they will owe whatever little success they will make of themselves to all those uncles and aunts that held their tender fingers as they figured out how to balance on their toes to walk.. and those friends that they crawled, walked, fought and made up together.

That being done, I am now catching up with Sharmila on our flight back home – with whom I have tried to get the kids (and ourselves) understand what true Thankfulness really means. Sometimes, it just comes down telling the air hostess to give us only one glass of red wine so that we can share… to keep with the sharing of the two ear buds of the one earphones enjoying the lilting song “Man Ahmade Am” by Gul Panrrah from Iran playing on my iPad. (In Farsi, that song means – “I have come to you”)


28 November 2015

John McGehee!

Ever since I finished my first marathon, I had been waiting to find an excuse to meet this guy. John was the person who got me started running as I was approaching the age of 40. I was somewhat assured by the fact that he himself started running at the age of 35 and was able to build himself out to be one of the elite runners in the country. (He was a front runner candidate for the Senior Olympics a few years back when he got hit by an injury, if my memory serves me right). At the age of 66 now, he is amazingly fit.

Over the years, I have made many phone calls and personally visited him in Dallas to discuss a lot of running topics – shoes, injuries, tactics to increase length of runs and pace and the like. We had both tried minimalist shoes for some time and gave up after getting injured. He has now built a family of runners – his son is a runner and now his 9 year old granddaughter is a runner! On my side, seemingly, everybody in my family is now putting in considerable miles every week. The daughters are still sticking to the treadmill though. I need to pull them out in the open.

Anyways, John was the guy I thought of multiple times during my first marathon run a few weeks back. Visiting Dallas for Thanksgiving this week with family gave me the chance to say “Thank You” to him for getting me on a fantastic journey. On Wednesday, after all my office work was done, I did catch up with John at a bar in the evening for some time!! It was great reminiscing my journey thru the years of trying to become a legitimate runner.

This time, we talked a lot about how to bend the curve for my 50s. Apparently, this includes many other exercise than running and also specific things to do to keep my brain alert and functioning. The obvious fallacy of the assumption of me actually having a brain apart, it will be very difficult for me to make a change that makes me exercise but takes me out of nature. I am not a gym guy at all.

But who knows? When he met me first, I told him I am not a running kind of guy either!!

Above all though, this is was my perfect Thanksgiving where I could actually say Thanks to somebody who, more than meaningfully, has changed my life!!