It was the night before Christmas! All was calm and all was well. Or was, it? Not really! Most cities in Israel that night were thriving with passengers and passersby. The streets were packed with travelers and their animals; the side walks overflowing with small shops and eateries. Businesses were in full bloom. Every one was spending. All hotels and motels, and everything in between were fully booked. The scene was almost festive.
Mary and Joseph had just arrived in Bethlehem. They stopped by a few places to see if they can get a room. Most had the sign out: "House Full!", "No Room!". None. Not even one. One man was kind enough to show them his manger saying, "May be you could use this?!" Joseph looked around the place with Mary and sure it wasn't their type. The walls and floors and roof, everything was wrong, but it has to do for now. It is already too late. Mary wanted off that donkey ride. She has had enough. They had traveled far and now they needed to rest!
Joseph gets her down the donkey and helps her in to the cow shed. Sits her down on some hay and quickly sets off to clean the place. The animals were just moved out and so the place was stinking. There is nothing much he can do about it and they have to adjust for the night somehow. May be tomorrow he would set off early to knock at a few more doors to find a better place. For tonight this has to do.
Mary is in no mood to look around her boarding. She is glad the ride is over. It will be a quick night she tells herself; soon it will be day. She was not worried about the baby too. After all if what the angel had told her about this child she was carrying was true, that He was the Savior of the world, then no way she was going to deliver him tonight. Not here, not tonight, not in this dirty stingy manger. The Savior has to be born in a better surrounding in more comfort where she would have maids to attend on her and atleast some warm water and clean clothes at her disposal. So she was least worried about the rest of the night.
Elsewhere in Bethlehem the shepherds had called it a day. They were locals. They had stayed put in their father's homes in their native town which made it convenient as they didn't have to travel like most others did to register their names for the ongoing census.They had gathered their flocks from the mountain sides, plains and valleys, counted them all and were satisfied with the numbers. One of them grew a fire. It was bright and warm against the dark and cold night. Few were resting their heads while the others had a conversation going. Mostly it was about the travelers they talked.
Suddenly an angel appeared before them lighting up the night sky announcing the good news that their Savior has been born! Hosts of more angels joined him singing, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." Just like how they appeared out of nowhere they disappeared suddenly leaving the shepherds in awe of wonder and the sky still illuminated with the trail of their glow.
Mary had been wrong. The Savior was indeed born! That very night! In the dirty stingy manger! She had to do with some rags she could find here and there. She was in tears looking at the child - the God child - God Himself in human form - smiling back at her! She was blaming herself for not being prepared to receive Him. Joseph was speechless. He felt bad too that inspite of the angel's advance notification about the nature of this Child, how was it that He didn't make arrangements for a better place? It was God Himself in human form, the child he was holding. He couldn't believe his eyes.
If only He had been born at his home, he wouldn't have had to deal with Him first hand. Maids would have cleaned the child up, helped Mary up and he would have made sure the needs of the Mother and Child were met. Here he is all alone with the new born. What was he to do? How was he to care? Could he quickly set out to buy something for Mary? Could she manage while he was gone? Is the Child too cold in the rags? Is the hay too prickly for His back? Is Mary okay? So many thoughts rush through his mind and he is not sure what to do and in which order.
If only he had some company... Sooner than he finished his thoughts loads of shepherds show up at the stall, to salute the King Child. They have brought with them milk, honey and curd and other eatables. They are helping around the place. They know what is best to keep warm for the night. Someone grows a fire. Someone shares his extra blanket with Joseph. Someone warms up some water and roasts some grains for Mary. The Child is lovely. He is their Savior! Sure He is!
This very Child who later gave up His life to redeem the lost world, more importantly me... My Savior whose flesh was torn, whose body was pierced, whose hands were nailed down, whose words were ridiculed, who was mocked at, yelled at, spit at, who was abandoned by all, to the point of death! However, He endured it all and conqured them all! All for me!
I was touched by the simplicity and openness these words express!
Ladies and gentlemen please welcome Kate. Hope in the coming days we will get to know a little bit more about Kate. For all we know she may never return but in case she does, let this be a huge welcome for her!
On another note, yes, I got that job; no, I have not decided - at least not yet!
On yet another note, we are traveling to India for Christmas! Actually Christmas for us will begin in London airport and rest in the Emirates Flight and some in Dubai. Not our kind of Christmas but still we are looking forward to it.
In case I don't get to post again before we leave, wishing you all a very blessed time of the year and of course a greater, funner, more prosperous brand new New Year 2012!
Now, please; please freeze that smile! It looks so good on you!
Here I am in New York wishing I could capture all the scenes around me for you all. Looking around NY Penn Station I notice that almost every one of them is connected - either to their blackberries or iPhone or ipods or plain old newspapers or books or magazines - something!
Since my train is arriving only at 2:35 PM and the time now is 1:59 PM I decided to people watch. Let me first set the stage: The ceiling is fairly tall with huge beams for support. To my left is entrance to tracks 5 & 6 and to my right to 7 & 8. Suspended LED monitors announce train schedules. It is interesting that only when the train pulls into the station you would know which track it is on. As far as I can see there are 21 tracks!
Imagine the rush when they announce which track your train is on. Waves of people would rush to the track without any pushing or pulling. You are always at an elbow's distance from your next person from all sides. OK, elbow's length may be a little exaggeration, I would say touchable distance but not touching.
Now that I have given you a rough overview, let us get back to people watching. People of all sizes and colors and races and styles yet one common thread that connects them all, which is that they are all hard working. Sure you can tell that just from looking at them. No idling or loitering which we might see in a typical city station in India. The voices are kept to a minimum except for the occasional loud speaker announcements to keep watch of our surroundings and report any suspicious activities around.
I see a gentleman with his wife both with golden hair and red coats and gold rimmed glasses. I recall our Carl & Ellie though these look much taller. Opposite to me I see a man resembling Charlie Sheen with a bigger attitude of exasperated animations and hand gestures over his phone conversation. I smile at that as the person on the other end is missing out on the rest of the conversation that is going on.
I see a little girl - probably around 7 years of age - with her parents, or are they grand parents, crying for something in suppressed voices and her guardians bending down to her level and explaining things to her.
Lots of red I see. Coats, sweaters, shawls, scarfs, pullovers, a whole lot of red things. The reason of course is the season. We Americans love to wear colors coordinated around the season. In the fall you will see a lot of different shades of brown and orange and in the winter leading up to Christmas a lot of red and after Christmas navy and green and purple and camel and the like. In Spring of course pastel shades and in the summer barely anything - mostly shorts and tanks with flip flops and pedicured toes.
The beautiful girl (African American) sitting next to me just puts away her navy blue Bible she was reading for quite sometime. I try to recall what I read this morning. My mind skips to connect and then it dawns that it was Song of Songs Chapter 7.
There are a couple of sweepers dressed in crisp uniforms with keen interest on keeping the area clean. Few are lined up in the 'How can we help you?' booth. Someone just opened his water bottle and emptied all it's content - wow he sure was thirsty! Couple of uniformed police officers are on rounds constantly talking in their walkie talkies.
Loads of other people around but none quite interesting as the few I have mentioned here. These 'uninteresting people' I notice are wearing black and connected to an electronic device. Does it say something? May be; but let's move on. The time is 2:16 pm and my train is the next in row only next to the 2:31 train bound to Jersey Ave, North East Corridor.
I haven't been feeling well since morning. Woke up with a sore throat but forced myself to come in. Now I have a mild headache and feel a little feverish too. I am sorry I forgot to tell you why I am here in the first place. I came in for an interview. Traveling to NYC is not something I look forward to on a daily basis but my friends tell me I will sure enjoy the ride if I wind up in NYC. Let's see.
The round trip ticket was $28, the cab was $15 and now the rice bowl from the Mexican place I picked up for lunch was $10.42. Sharon has been asking for chocolate cup cakes and bought some from Bread and Basket which was $17 so you can do the Math as to the cost of my visit. I don't mind spending as long as it is something we enjoy. But to be honest the rice bowl was yucky and the cakes I can only hope it won't go wasted.
Oops! I just looked up at the screen and my train has come on Track 2! I get up and rush with the wave that is moving towards Track 2 entrance. I have made it on time to settle down nice and square in a three seater. I force myself to eat my lunch, couple of scoops later I call it quits. If you can do me a favor please remind me never to pick up rice bowl from a Mexican place next time around. Please...
The train driver just announced the route of the train and lists a whole lot of stations where it will stop - which only means I am in for a longer ride than I'd hoped for and that only means I am going to write more.
I am writing on the reverse side of my resume and notice that it is already three pages long. How am I going to type it all in - worries my mind. We'll see. Yesterday I was helping Sharon typing her History fair project on Adolf Hitler. Why of all the people did she pick him?? It was quite informative though the typing was a little tedious.
It is exactly 2:35 PM and the train is pulling off the station. I too decide to wind down here to rest my eyes. However, few things make it impossible to do that. First thing, this morning I yelled at Sharon for getting late and she didn't answer me back, which was strange for Sharon. This bothers me. Next, as I was walking to the train station there was this lady preaching the Gospel at the street corners, giving out tracts.
Only after I passed a few blocks I got the urge to go and give her something. But I didn't feel like walking all the way back and so continued to walk towards the station. This bothers me. Next I am thinking of the interview and see how I could have given better answers for a few questions. This bothers me. But then that doesn't mean I can go on writing taking advantage of your listening ears. So, I put the papers away and close down the pen...
Thanks to cousin Jacinth for the picture, which was taken last Friday when I was in the City for the first round of interview.
But the plural of ox becomes oxen, not oxes.
One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese,
Yet the plural of moose should never be meese.
You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice,
Yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.
If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?
Then one may be that, and there would be those,
Yet hat in the plural would never be hose,
And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.
We speak of a brother and also of brethren,
But though we say mother, we never say methren.
Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him,
But imagine the feminine: she, shis and shim!
Let's face it - English is a crazy language.
There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
Neither apple nor pine in pineapple.
English muffins weren't invented in England.
We take English for granted, but if we explore its paradoxes,
We find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square,
And a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.
And why is it that writers write, but fingers don't fing,
Grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?
Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend?
If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them,
What do you call it?
If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?
If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?
Sometimes I think all the folks who grew up speaking English
Should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane.
In what other language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?
We ship by truck but send cargo by ship...
We have noses that run and feet that smell.
We park in a driveway and drive in a parkway.
And how can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same,
While a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?
You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language
In which your house can burn up as it burns down,
In which you fill in a form by filling it out,
And in which an alarm goes off by going on.
And in closing..........
Was it yesterday? Or the day before? Or the day before that? Doesn't really matter. What matters is that my memory is failing. Now, don't get alarmed; not to that extent to have you all worried. But it still concerns me.
Yesterday I was at Joshua's Basketball practice an hour early - all because I had forgotten his team name. Okay, one can argue having three kids in different age group with repeated team names could confuse anybody, but still...
Why no spoon in the lunch bag? Because Mommy forgot! The Thank you letter due to Mrs. Glass for the handy little pool she gave us this past summer, still pending... Where did I scribble down Delightson's new phone number? Who knows! Is Chithapa's birthday on Dec 10th or was it October 10th or could it be April 10th? My mind goes all blank...
These days I am not into any specific details when it comes to any specific things. Ask me what we paid for the new appliances we just bought last week, I wouldn't know the answer. Did Sharon get a B or was it a B+ in History? Don't know. Breakdown of my investment portfolio? Don't know, but who cares? Where did I keep my white dial watch? Don't know! What was the other thing I wanted to add here? Oh! No!
Having doctors and educators and home makers and engineers among my blog world friends thought I would run it by you first before taking it to Israel. He would dismiss it as lack of sleep or something similar and would blame it all on me, unlike you folks; you are very kind. No, I won't take 'aging' for an answer because I know I am NOT! Nice try though...
"I" was probably one alphabet we couldn't relate to in our kindergarten class as it often stood for Ice or Igloo or Ink in our times which was all foreign at that age; Ice cream or even India would have been a better choice but not sure why it wasn't widely popular in our early education curriculum.
Interesting how the alphabet "I" took a whole new meaning following i-mac! There is a wide range of market these days for "I" ranging from i-mac, i-pod, i-phone, i-pad, i-touch, i-home, i-bone all the way to i-dog and beyond! I rather not talk much about these but move on...
Here in the US we identify highways with an 'I' in the front such as I-78, I-287 where 'I' stands for Interstate - a highway that connects two or more states. There is a general rule of thumb that the odd number interstates normally run North to South while the even numbers run East to West. Of course there are exceptions to this rule.
In Math too whenever you do a loop you count it from i=0 to 'n' where i stands for the iteration count and 'n' is the total number of iterations; if there are two or more loops you would use 'j' or 'k' reluctantly for the second or further loop; but note the first loop is almost always controlled by 'i'.
Of course you can't deny the importance of "I" in a wedding ceremony. After all, "I do" is what commits a man and woman to their wedding vows thus pronouncing them husband and wife.
Then there is the plain and simple I that stands for none other than the first person singular. This is the I causing much commotion everywhere we turn. All the fuss to keep this I happy and contented and yet one can only hope the magic would work. This I can be defined as a touch-me-not as it can easily be offended and would always defend itself.
Looking at the "I" up close I find it funny how I truly enjoy myself; laughing out loud over some of my own jokes, amusing over some of my own conversations, patting my back over some of my own writings and even loving the way the hair looks when I first roll off the bed! It is like the "I" is the second person the "Me" admires and applauds. Is this pride? I guess not; as the other symptoms include a lighter heart as opposed to a heavier head.
But then there are times this I is in total conflict with the Me like right now and goes ahead and hits the 'Publish' button even when Me thinks it is not worth it... A close up shot now would reveal the "I" grinning from ear to ear while the "Me" is all embarassed with the rosiest cheeks ever; poor thing!
Merry Christmas everyone! Okay, okay it is not Christmas yet; but feels like it already! Everywhere we turn there are lights and trees and bells and wreaths and what not! Our tree is up too; the lights are all on! (I promise to take a picture tonight to share with you!)
The weather is surprisingly beautiful - with plenty of sunshine and temps still in two digits. No one complains about it as everyone needs some day light to put on the lights and stuff. But then if it doesn't start snowing few days before Christmas some faces will be gloomy as everyone - including me - loves a white Christmas. Let's see, how this turns out...
Our town (Jefferson, NJ) spreads more Christmas cheer by sponsoring various activities such as Gingerbread house contest and Christmas in the village. Then there is live nativity at the church and Israel has volunteered to be a shepherd. It is nice to see the community coming together to share in the joy.
Children are a little nervous as they don't see any gifts under the tree. The problem is in the last couple of months anything they asked for and we said wait till Christmas, they would respond, "we want it now and we will not ask for it later". Okay we got it for them. And here we are at Christmas and they are still hoping for something. So the bare tree doesn't seem to induce any cheer in them. What to do? Quick solution is to get something of course but...
In a way it is okay not to give and receive gifts for Christmas as it puts too much pressure on the giver and a whole lot of disappointment at the receiving end. However we try to justify it, giving always brings us joy! Double portion - is it not?!
Gifts or no gifts Christmas is Christmas! Merry Christmas y'all!