I know I know I know, some of you are bored of my New York ramblings; but then there are those who say bring it on, so please bear with me...
You haven't seen New York if you haven't ridden (now,is that the right verb? I need to check!) the Subway. It has a whole lot to offer. First it feels kind of suffocating to know you are underground, but soon you tend to forget that, taking in the scenes around, of people, people and more people.
Subway entertainers always excite me. Yes, entertainers they are; they don't beg, they entertain. Be it the woman recovering from "XY&Z" or the blind man with the best singing voice ever, they would make you pause for a minute and think - about yourself, about these people, or of similar incidents elsewhere...
Then there are those who make music with just one piece of instrument which fills the whole place with such melody. Of course my favorite is the man singing worship songs every morning in the tunnel walkway between Port Authority and Time Square. There is no music, no choir, just him - singing and worshipping the Lord as New York wakes up. How beautiful! It sets you in the mood for the rest of the day.
My fondest wish these days is to get to meet these people up close and share on my blog. But how should I approach? "Hi! Can I write about you on my blog?" No; that sounds awkward, a little invading. Let them live their life in peace while we move on... Oh! if you can spare some change please do; it would make neither of you rich but would make both happy.
Okay folks, hope you are all doing well, holding up on your resolutions for 2012. Good. I am too. 28 days have passed without any shopping expeditions. Not even one! Not that I am cautiously avoiding it. It's just that I haven't had the time. Today I did; but decided to chat with you instead, which feels good, much better than shopping; trust me!
Take care friends! You are constantly in my thoughts. Anything I see around I want to share with you; anything I hear about I want to tell you; anything that goes on in my life I wish to write about. But then I believe life at your end is as cherishing, people as interesting and scenes as compelling if not better, so I spare you some details.
Let's keep our eyes and ears open to take in the beauty of life around us; and more importantly our hearts!
P.S: Check! 'Ridden' is the right verb to use. For all other possible tenses for the verb ride, check out the About.com page here. It's quite interesting how many they have thought of on that...
When in school someone sent me anonymous notes, like "You would be my goddess if my heart were a temple" or "I am your big fan" or "I admire you" etc. Being in an all girls school I considered it silly and ignored it for sometime and then I thought this was getting serious. So I asked to meet.
It turns out she was a girl from my junior class, her name was Sudha. I told her I appreciated her fondness for me and that I would love to be good friends with her. She was delighted by my acceptance of her that she fit quite well in my circle of friends and we had a great time together. True her "love notes" stopped then.
My friend's sister around that age was on hunger strike since actor Amir Khan had got married. Israel admits he and his friends were so hurt over actress Sridevi's love affair with someone, they skipped a meal or two; someone even grew a beard.
Silly as it may sound these kind of infatuations could become serious problems if neglected. These "friendships" are unhealthy in the first place and could lead to disasters if left untreated. It could even become fatal in extreme cases. How sad is that! Hard to believe such attacks coming from folks of same gender.
Shockingly a growing reason for failed marriages is friendship between same gender. It starts innocently as a friend, and soon the husband and wife spend less and less time together and this "friend" consumes more of their time (either the husband's or the wife's) which ultimately leads to destruction.
Now the question is how to overcome such 'parasites' if you will. Here are few tips we learnt in a marriage class:
1. Invest in each other. Every kind gesture is a "credit" and every unkind one is a "debit"; the idea is to keep a positive balance in your Love Bank.
2. If you don't invest in your husband or wife, someone else will and it may be harder to win her/him back.
3. Watch out for these parasites in your life and stay clear of unwanted, unhealthy friendships.
4. Play together.
Enjoying recreational activities together is a great way for couples to bond better. If he is into fishing and you are into knitting, why not knit by his fishing pond? What if you enjoy the outdoors and he is a home body? Great chance to set out a picnic in your own back yard! Where there is a will, there is a way!
Now, few tips for the "parasites" themselves:
1. Be true to yourself. No, your life is NOT dependent on this one person.
2. Develop healthy attitude in life. Exercise your body, mind and soul.
3. Read. The pages can take you places. The chances are you will meet new people out there.
4. Replace your bad habits with good.
5. Pray! Trust me it works.
We get only one chance at life. Let's stop (being) such parasites from (by) making it miserable.
Note to my friend: Hang in there! This too shall pass!
One thing that absolutely fascinates me in my New York subway ride is the passing of trains parallel to mine in any one direction. I always look for it and have encountered as much as three parallel trains at a time in a four track subway system. I try to look through the trains to the people standing on the far end of the opposite platform.
Someone yawns moving in one direction and someone fondly cuddles her child in another direction and someone is on the phone waiting at the platform for their respective trains and here I am looking at all of them from a passing train! It is quite interesting if you can imagine what I am trying to express here...
This made me relate our lives to these trains running in parallel. We have all taken up on this journey, bound to 'somewhere', some to the North, some to the West, some wherever... Some we travel with, some we only glance at briefly, some we meet at the stations, some we get acquainted by, some we travel along with and some we would never meet. All sharing in the same scene, breath, space and even time and yet many oblivious to the existence of the other; isn't that something?
So many things happen around you that you can't possibly observe every little detail. From the woman who cries out "Good morning New York! Here's your copy of AM New York!" to the guy in front of you who swipes his Metro card for the nth time trying to get access to the station, to the vendors, the homeless, the posh, the not so, the police, the florist, I can go on and on and on and on listing the kind of people I see around. Every one lives a life, has found love, has a story to tell, is on a journey, destination who knows, or even cares...
Now where am I headed? Good question! Actually I have to think about it... I am kind of lost in my surroundings for now. Please excuse me if this post doesn't make much sense to you, I am just thinking out loud, that's all!
NY Penn Station was so packed this evening. There was live Gospel music going on in the background by a man on His guitar. All seats were taken except a single one which was kind of ignored by all. I took it as I had about 12 minutes wait and didn't feel like standing that long. Also I wanted to sit down and enjoy the music.
When I got comfortable I noticed this frail figure sitting next to me - almost curled up to the lap, like a big ball of laundry or something. From the scarf around the head I could make out it was a lady. "Old. very old. 83? no, older. 93? hmm.. may be a little older. 103? mmm... 203? most like it!" judges my quick mind. No movements in the next few minutes I observed. Absolutely still!
"Is she - ahem - alive?", I begin to worry. No, I can't poke or shake her. I just have to wait and hope she moves before my train comes, lest I will be worried rest of my life.
I start to take some side ward glances. She has a torn handbag on her lap and a water bottle; wearing only a open toe sandal - no proper shoes for the freezing weather outside. My heart skips a beat. Just moments ago I had cursed my shoes as I couldn't feel my toes in my short walk to the station. I feel terrible about her shoes now. Why would she come out in these in this weather? May be this is all she has?! Where is she headed? Does she have anyone? Any one at all?.... Still!
I begin to panic a little. What if??? Oh! Thank God! She just moved. Lifted her head up, with her left hand removed her dentures and curls up again.
I want to do something for her; give her something. But, would she take it or scream at me for "degrading" her or something, alerts my mind. Ignoring that I start to dig through my purse. Right off I find two $20 bills folded away in a side zipper. $20? That's a lot. I should have $5 bills and even some singles I am sure. But then $1 is too little. $5 seems okay. Will it really help her? May be a meal at the most; nothing else. So I settle for the $20.
Now I look around to see if any one is looking - not that I wanted someone to see me give, rather I did not want any one to see me in case she yells back at me. My train is next to be announced and I can't let the minute slip by.
Before long I say "Excuse me" which is not even audible to me. On my next attempt she lifts up her head again with much effort, her dentures still in her hand. I thrush the $20 bill on her hand and say, "A little something". She accepts it and thanks me. A moment later she straightens up hard to look at my face properly and thanks again with the most beautiful toothless smile I have ever seen.
My train has been announced! I rush to get on it with the best feeling money could ever give! Priceless!
What I most like about India is that it is home - no matter what. From the moment we land in India to the moment we leave, there is no thoughts of America or of what we have left behind. When we return however, not a single day passes by without thoughts of India. This alone makes it clear where we belong.
From the tiny over crowded churches where people gather joyfully to commence their new year to the noisy streets and dusty cattle crossing roads, India has a lot to offer. It molds one's heart to do better, to pay back, to love and cherish the people you call family. There is a strong bond that connects all.
Some say it is short lived and that we don't see the negative side because we visit just for a few days. But to be honest, it is what I feel about the people and their relationship rather than how they treat me, that makes the difference. Genuine is the word. People are genuine about their feelings and their emotions, good or bad. My love for them (or the lack of it) is also genuine.
For those who think they lack something by not leaving India, I can assure they have got it all. For those like me who think we have made it all, I insist we lack a lot. We will be selfish to assume we are better off when our own kind can't afford any of it.
The uncle who is dying, the family that is struggling, the old lady who doesn't have a single pair of sandals, the sick in the dirty government hospital, they need me.
Rest of my years in America, my focus will be how better I can pay back my India. Hopefully someday I can return for good and make it my home again! But until then, I will refocus my priorities and reflect the needs of the "least of these". I am sure whatever I do for them will be considered done unto Him. (Matthew 25:31-46)