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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Shoes, Tables, Art ... Corns and Bunions Too!

Men's FlorsheimsLadies ShoesHow many different shoe sizes are there? Hard to say, what with all the different systems and variances by manufacturer... but, it doesn't really matter, I say if the shoe fits, ... wear it! One thing's for sure, for every size there are a whole bunch of folks wearing 'em ... problem is, footprints, like fingerprints are rather unique and as a result, a whole bunch of folks have corns ... and bunions too. Jimmy will vouch for that! FerragamoIf the shoe fits, ... then wear it, but do try it on first. That's especially true for custom shoes ... what looks to be a perfect fit for us or someone we know, may have been designed for someone else ... HepplewhiteChippendaleTables are like shoes, methinks ... when I say table, some folks see a black mahogany, Chinese Chippendale ... others, a walnut Sheraton ... or maybe a Hepplewhite, and no doubt some, a modern three legged thing, painted white with a glass top ... we see what we want to see, and sometimes what we don't. I once wrote a piece for the paper on Chippendale Furniture ... and, in order to meet the deadline, I called it in ... it caused quite a ruckus ... for everywhere I had said Chippendale, it read "Chip 'n Dale" SheridanAbstractModern Art is like shoes too ... lots of folks are quick to tell you what it means but 'bout the only one who really knows is the artist and they're usually dead ... Hurt ToesShoes, tables, and art interpretation ... things with which one should not trifle ... unless you like corns and bunions. I know,"there he goes again" ... more recondite musings ... No, every onion has its layers but my musings are as plain as an old pair of shoes ... well, sometimes more like those custom Ferragamos, but most of the time I'm "more Chip 'n Dale" than Chippendale. While recondite may appear to be the rule rather than the exception, ... and though my name isn't Joe, I was just telling you that it ain't so! ... and in the few cases where the humor seems pointed, it may be, but I always use rubber arrows and they're usually aimed at folks other than imagined. Enjoy!

Monday, November 23, 2009

An Indian Wedding

Hello to the Barbershop … I know I have been missing out on all the fun here for about four days but I am back and back with something I did all these four days. Actually, I was out for a relative’s wedding and guess what, I will write that out for you all. I’m afraid not many of you would have witnessed an Indian wedding. But as and when I write this post, you must understand one thing. It’s India we are talking about!! The person getting married was Rajesh, my uncle. He is not young and not old, around 30. Not to forget, here in India, we believe in getting married only once with the sole intention of living a life together forever (in fact for seven lives). Also, it’s not you who decides upon who you are getting married to. There are a thousand factors that affect your life and decisions which are not being made by you. You need to be so careful in choosing from the pictures of your 'would be brides', that have already been chosen by your parents or some relative. This is arranged marriages we are talking about and not marrying someone you know or love. Doesn’t it sound weird marrying someone you never know?? But with the caste system so dominant still in India and love marriages being supported only in ‘very high social classes’, we still do not get married to people we love. (Let me mention, within three years I will become the first person in my family to marry my girl, the lady I have loved now for the past one year, SURPRISE!!!, will introduce her soon to the barbershop as an excellent writer). Yeah, coming back to the marriage, we start with the initial steps. First of all, a second person, not belonging to the girl’s family, not belonging to the groom’s family, places a phone call to both the families involved and tries to make a deal with both of them. He arranges a meeting and then tries to have everything set for all people to agree and mind it, it’s the elders of the family who will finally make the decisions and not the person who will get married. When the decision has been stamped by relatives all around the globe, the bride and the groom are allowed to meet, talk a little (and the bride is expected to be silent, if the bride talks a lot, she is criticized for being talkative), and then people say that both of them like each other because they talked a lot!!! I mean, it sounds so weird!! But I guess I mentioned it already, it is India you are talking about people. huh. Hmm, after these being done, you still have at least a month on your hands to prepare for the ceremonies lined up for marriages which start at least a week before the marriage. People from all around India who belong to the relations of your great grandfather also will fill up your house to actively participate in the marriage ceremonies. So, the house being full of so many people with everybody trying to be the center of attraction in all possible ways, sometimes the person getting married gets so fed up of the crowd, he tries running away to 'wonderland' where he finds some peace of mind and actually think of getting married. With a week full of ceremonies, you seldom get time to take some time out for yourself, get a proper meal, or a proper sleep. Things being done, the final day of marriage, the day begins with a lot of chaos with so much to be done in so less time. The groom gets ready for a “Baaraat”, I hardly know how to describe this in English, but will try. “Baaraat: can be classified as a happy procession that contains the people from the grooms family and his friends, who happily go dancing to the bride’s place where the main event of the day, the marriage, takes place. Let me describe, it takes a lot of time for Baaraats to reach from the groom’s place to the bride’s (somewhere between 1-2 hours and most of the time the distance is around 200 m). Now the main event begins with the groom and the bride putting a garland of flowers around each other’s necks. Pardon me for the use of poor English, I am finding it difficult to use correct phrases and words). After this being done, both the groom and the bride are made to sit on a stage, like one you have seen in movies similar to a king and queen sharing the throne and the people who have gathered to witness the wedding will be sitting right in front of them, like a pack of jury who find it their right to sit and criticize something or the other in the arrangements or the newly formed couple. The elders of the family keep themselves busy in the arrangements and in pleading people to eat and enjoy. Not going into the very details of all that the bride and groom undergo during the rituals that are necessary to marry them, I will write out a summary. The marriage rituals involve the use of a very important person, the “pandit alias pujari” meaning the priest. He maintains the position of the sole person responsible for conducting all nasty rituals necessary for binding two souls together. It is his responsibility to see that both the bride and groom start praying to the almighty to end the long day and let the bride go away with the groom. Some things need a change, they surely do. Being optimistic, I say that things are changing rapidly in India now. After the marriage is over, the bride and groom thank God for the ceremonies to be over than the marriage that took place, and happily drive away in a decorated car. That’s not the end of it but still some ceremonies remain at the groom’s place where a lot of people wait for the bride to come. She remains surrounded by the in laws for sometime and is not allowed to rest even after the long tiring day. The groom keeps waiting for his turn to go in and meet his wife!! It’s only at night that he gets an opportunity and then as said by Shakespeare, they live happily everafter!!!!!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fantastic Trips That We Have Stumbled Into - Jerome

We have already written about our trip to the Amalfi Coast but before that we did quite a bit of impromptu traveling in the good old USA. It wasn't unusual for us just to throw some clothes in the car and start driving and then see where we wound up. In other words, we didn't research the trip before hand ... once, about this time of year, we took a day trip up to Oklahoma and wound up in Kansas. Mr. Bobby said he was looking for the "Grassy Knoll Mountains" ... never did find them but he didn't stop until we got to the Rockies. Another time, we flew to Las Vegas and spent a couple of days, rented a SUV and drove to the Grand Canyon. After that, we just kept on driving south. I don't remember the town we were in but realizing that we had to get back to Vegas, I was hard at work pouring over a not very detailed map and thought I saw an easy and quick way back ... through some small town we'd never heard of called Jerome, Arizona. Trip planning is an under-rated art form. Thinking back, I'm still not quite sure how but we survived Jerome and I really think that we deserve a T-Shirt. And why not? ... we got one when we drove to Hana on Maui! A different time, a different place ... a drive to remember! The road was just a narrow lane going up a mountain, sometimes wide enough for two cars I think. Too far to the right and you were off the mountain into the valley far, far below. Finally, finally we got to Jerome ... an old mining town precariously perched on the side of that mountain. It was old hippieville. A few shops, some restaurants, etc. Mr. Bobby had had it. He pulled into a parking lot and demanded that I drive down the mountain. I was real hungry too! We got out of the car on a perfectly flat parking lot and both had attacks of vertigo ... something neither of us is prone to do. Well, I started trying to drive but wasn't doing well. I'll let Mr. Bobby finish telling the story ... Miss Carol does have a good memory and a way with words too ... I don't remember no trip like that ... dang! I do remember something of her finding a short cut to where we wanted to go ... then driving through residential areas in this town looking for little posted signs indicating the way to this Jerome place ... almost turned around twice, thinking we had missed the signs and were lost. The danged road seemed to go straight up but it was so curvy, it almost seemed like a switchback ... had it not been for my outstanding skill and adroitness as a driver with nerves of steel, we would have never made it ... her having hysterics and beating me on the arm didn't help much neither! Like she said, we finally, finally made it to the top ... I knew she was hungry and suggested we have a nice lunch at one of the many restaurants housed in the old mining shacks but she was having none of it! Yes, I pulled into a parking lot just like she said ... but her memory is totally different from mine. She claims that parking lot was on a level but I suwannee, it was on at least a 45 degree incline probably more like 60. We could see the shacks, the shops, and the restaurants across the way ... and they were all on a slant too! Like she said, we had taken this route in an effort to save time ... and as pretty and interesting as it was, we really did need to continue on. I was real tired and my arm was still sore from the trip up so I suggested that she might consider driving down the mountain, at least part way until I was a bit more rested. Surprisingly, my charm won the day ... she agreed, and we got out of the car so we could switch seats and she could drive. A nickel fell out of my pocket ... I chased that sucker half way 'cross that "level" parking lot ... before giving up and watching it continue down the mountain, plum out of sight. I don't know what that "vertigo" stuff is ... but I was plum tuckered ... dizzy and couldn't keep my balance. It was time to go, and so we did! Now I don't want you to get the wrong idea ... Miss Carol is an excellent driver, especially on level, straight, four lane roads in the daytime with no traffic ... she keeps even that exciting so there's no chance of becoming road hypnotized. Like I said, she's good! It's all coming back to me now ... compared to the road we had traveled up the mountain to Jerome, the one going down was much easier ... wider and fewer curves too! But, boy, that baby was steep ... That really didn't bother me much for the SUV had five gears ... just put it in "low" or "double low" then sit back and enjoy the ride ... right? Wrong!!!! Our "Miss Know It All" is real smart, that's for sure ... but one thing about which she knows nothing is "gears," especially how to change them ... 40, 45, 50, 60 ... she was in a hurry, that's for sure. As the smell of burning brake pads increased, I calmly suggested she put it in a lower gear ... then shouted, demanded too ... I explained exactly what to do and how, time and time again, to no avail. She was frightened ... and I don't mind telling you that I was too ... 65, 70 and finally I prayed! She wouldn't listen but I think the good Lord did. She continued tightly gripping the steering wheel with both hands, but while she braked, I lowered the gears for her and we somehow survived ... set a new speed record to boot ... wound up on old route 66, methinks! I agree that we deserved a T-Shirt (No doubt they now have some) ... needed one too ... had to change me clothes after that ride! No doubt word of our adventure reached the authorities ... I understand the road is now safe and easy to travel ... and as a result, it's now a very, very popular place! No, we didn't file no report though I would have liked to get my nickel back, a 1937 buffalo. No, it was them hippies who saw us coming up the mountain ... seems they got all cleaned up and fixed a bunch of food ... raised such a ruckus when we didn't stay, the State had no choice but to fix things up!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bad Day at Fort Hood

Our language is certainly a mystery to me ... so many abuse it ... incorrect grammar, inadequate vocabularies and poor word choices are commonplace, increasingly so, methinks ... seemingly with most folks either not knowing or not caring. I do abhor such abuse!! The Shop's reminder that this is not a political place wasn't meant to suggest that its barbers didn't have their own beliefs or that they were expected to refrain from expressing them ... far from it! Your beliefs define who you are ... they'll usually serve you well, even when you're wrong! That's an awfully important notion ... beliefs ... that for which you're willing to kill and/or die! I've always thought that them what make the loudest noise usually make the least sense. For me it's a catch 23, that is, something a little more than a catch 22. I do admire the passion of the zealot ... while deploring the oft accompanying closed-mindedness! Without passion, very little would ever get accomplished and apathy would no doubt reign supreme. I've always had trouble with Tom Jefferson's posit that we're all created equal ... I knew better'n that when I was three and got a baby sister. Of course he did say men, I'll give him that! I guess all men do start out as little boys ... but God made them all different, not equal ... even identical twins are different! Mrs. Freeman, my kindergarten teacher, told me that Jefferson just wanted King George to know that we didn't believe in folks having special rank and privileges as a birthright ... folks have to prove themselves. That's what she said ... of course, I wasn't in kindergarten then. I agree that everyone should be able to proffer their opinion, if they have one ... that is, if they accept the inherent responsibilities that go along with so doing. The Bard had this to say about about the profferings of them what don't ... "tis a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury ... signifying nothing"! Against that backdrop, let me say that I truly think that most of us share similar concerns ... while our priorities may be different, we want good things for ourselves, our children, and theirs ... we want our country to be safe and secure and to be both financially and morally solvent. Every day it seems that we're confronted with one crisis or another ... and feelings are as strong as they are varied. The tragedy at Fort Hood has certainly been in the news ... while other things may have occupied my attention here in the Shop, I've seen and heard enough to know it's causing quite a stir! We can't help but know that there is a large contingent opposing our continued presence in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and other places, since we began the "war against terrorism" following the events of 9/11/2001. I sense that feelings among Jews and Christians currently run rather high against the Muslims ... though that could be a misconception. I've had some friends who are Muslim but know little of their faith ... my understanding being that it was laid down by Muhammad, their messenger of God, and that they recognize Adam, Abraham, Moses and Jesus as Prophets. My assumption and understanding has always been that its tenets serve its followers well ... certainly the three religions share the same God. If my understanding is correct, then I feel it is incumbent on the leaders within Islam to denounce terrorism and rid itself of those within its ranks who embrace it! I don't believe that the Creator of all that we know did it without purpose ... it was done a long time ago, that's for sure! I don't know the purpose but it was certainly was not for the rewarding folks for killing or invoking harm to others in his name ... for any reason, but especially not because of differences in belief. That applies to all religions, not just those three ... From what we read and saw as the drama at Fort Hood unfolded, an Army Major ... 39 year old psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hassan, killed 13 people, injured 30 more; considered the worst ever such incident on a U.S. military base. He himself was shot four times and for sometime in a coma. It's bound to be complex and as always, we're on the outside looking in ... and certainly it begs lots of questions as well stirring up many emotions, including fear, disgust, anger and hate. As expected, reaction was swift ... posits that it was a planned attack, long in the making, by some terrorist cell that had infiltrated the system were quickly followed by assertions that terrorism was not involved ... all well before anyone really knew ... or knows, methinks. One thing I know for sure, it was terrifying ... the killing of 13 and injuring of 30 more ... no, as horrible as that is, far worse things happen most every day. What was terrifying to me was the thought that such a thing could happen inside a, thought to be safe, military sanctuary ... in Texas, of all places. Interestingly but not surprisingly, there were conflicting reports concerning the Major ... reports from colleagues and personal acquaintances indicate that he argued with soldiers who supported U.S. war policy and from what we saw in an interview, with a former classmate methinks, he viewed the war on terrorism as a "war against Islam". That would seem to suggest, and does to me, that perhaps the Major was somewhat of a religious zealot who didn't try to hide the fact. Other reports would seem to suggest that the Major's primary motivation for being in the military may well have been for the purposes of education and personal advancement ... commonplace today perhaps, but somewhat different, methinks, from those who spent a winter at Valley Forge or a day on the beaches of Normandy. I well remember the interview of the mother of a young soldier that had been killed in Iraq ... bitterly deriding and debasing the President for placing her son in harm's way ... "It's totally unfair ... he only joined so that he could get an education!" While I can perhaps see some supporting logic, it seems risky as well as ironic that a follower of Islam would be assigned to counsel servicemen returning from a battlezone where the enemy had been identified with that faith ... especially a major holding the views attributed to him. Ironic too if it turns out that the one what shot him was indeed a woman. What happened at Fort Hood may or may not have been an act of a terrorist cell like those with which we've become familiar, but it's terroristic all the same ... most terrifying is the realization that the system allowed the incident to happen. In a town with but two barbers, always select the one with worst haircut ... a psychiatrist is only as good as his last haircut ... old Polish Proverb! I support our military and its presence wherever required to protect our long term best interests and those of our friends within the international community ... that's not meant to be political, evil knows no nationality and belongs to no religion. The world has become a small place, getting smaller all the time ... I believe we all share the same long term best interests; whether we realize it or not is another story. Hopefully the incident at Fort Hood won't become another political football game ... current mentality seems to be that all games must have a winner but it simply isn't true ... some of the very best were ties. I'm not a blogger, not in the usual sense ... but having missed much of the drama as it unfolded, I wanted to see what folks were thinking and saying ... Like I said, assurances came quickly that it wasn't a terrorist attack but from what I saw, the political activists saw it differently ... from both sides of the aisle. Yes, it seemed they saw it same way ... well intending, good folks all, methinks ... we do seem to come together in such times, but certainly their quills were filled with different ink. I was surprised to find some openly endorsing what amounted to an defensive isolationist policy ... I don't consider it political to suggest that totally unthinkable; for the world in which we live has become a very small place indeed and continues to shrink. What affects folks half way around the world affects us too and so we all have a vested interest in just about everything that goes on, whether we like it or not! Others sincerely suggested that the "War on Terrorism" was one that could not be won ... that we were attempting to impose our values and will on cultures steeped in traditions that doom all such attempts. That's a tough nut to crack and I won't even try ... we should respect all cultures, methinks, even those we find in petri dishes. However, cultures that endorse or tolerate terrorism must be changed ... no ifs, no ands, no buts! It's true that the declaration of the "War on Terrorism" was the resultant of the events of 11 September, 2001 ... not totally unlike that which followed 1941's day of infamy ... it was a straw that placed a heavy burden upon the camel's back. Regardless of how that "war" got birthed, it must be fought ... by mankind ... and hopefully won. The problem is, as it's always been, that most everybody shares an "end justifies means" mentality ... there are individuals, groups and governments with perceived vested interests that cause them to sit down when they should be standing up. If we are to long survive, we must all join together and demand of the entire international community that terrorism is neither tolerated nor endorsed ... by anyone, for any reason! As some know, I work off mind triggers ... it's easier of thinking up stuff all by yourself and I was prompted by some comments I saw regarding the spin being put on the incident to proffer the following ... it may seem off topic, taken out of context ... maybe even were it to be in context, but it was my reaction to what I had been reading, the comments there and perhaps elsewhere ... I too am tired of all the spin ... but that's how it's always been, and how it will always be ... for we're on the outside looking in! I don't know who it was what first expressed the notion "it's all about getting elected" ... for unless you do, you'll be on the outside looking in too ... and growing tired of all the spin. I think maybe folks long ago realized that they stood a better chance of getting elected if they told you what you wanted to hear ... rather than that which you did not ... spin! Daddy told me ... "Son, you can't tell a lot about a man by listening to his well rehearsed spiel" ... that was long ago, back when farmers hand milked their cows and got their water from wells! Of course, food cooked on a wood stove was hard to beat! When I was growing up, the differences between a democracy and a democratic republic was taught, indeed emphasized and stressed in school! I could be wrong but somehow I sense that is no longer the case; that somewhere along the way it got lost between the cracks. We like to call ours a democracy ... sounds good and makes us feel important, but thank goodness we're still not quite there ... democracies are doomed to failure, except in local settings ... for even were we all smart enough to understand all the complexities, we simply don't have the time to become and stay well enough informed to make the many decisions demanded of that form of government, at least not good ones, methinks. Maybe it was somebody else, but I think it was old John Locke who first plagiarized Polonius ... when he said in effect that the first responsibility of the legislator was to vote his conscience. If folks did that, there would be less need for party strategy, methinks. If we just vote for and elect them folks we know and trust ... and entrust them to vote their conscience for what's best for us and our country, there would be no need for spin ... straight talk would be just fine. It always bothered me ... when it came time for a big vote ... most all voted along party lines ... bah humbug! Regardless of our politics, I think a majority of us recognize the need for government to be conservative and based on the needs of the people rather than their wants, at least if it is to endure ... what's popular today, ain't tomorrow. Whether it's Sarah Palin or Practically Perfect Mary Poppins ... it matters not to me ... just elect folks you know ... forget about labels, and demand they vote their conscience for what's best for us and our country ... Just make sure they have a conscience! Dale Carnegie would have turned over in his grave had he read that ... it wasn't and isn't apt to win friends or influence people, that's for sure! The Right Honorable Edmund Burke too, for it was he to whom I meant to refer, and not John Locke! Guess I got lost or something ... I had and have no agenda relative to the issue ... twas just my reaction to what I had been reading, comments and such. However, for purposes of writing this piece and apologizing for my John Lock faux pas, I wanted to refresh my memory regarding the mind triggering comments and searched for my comment on sites I had recently visited ... I've yet to find it ... don't guess it matters much, I knew what I said ... and now you do too! It's easy to endorse the freedom of speech and religion ... the right to express opinions and beliefs ... and have those rights respected. Indeed, it's what we call being politically correct. Yes, it's easy ... real easy, but make no mistake, practicing that sermon ain't! Not really. No, I'm not talking about the preacher, I'm talking about his flock ... and no, I ain't talking about no religion neither ... The head zealot, the one with all the passion ... I'm sure that he thought everything well through ... wrote out his doctrine more than once, making sure it was danged near perfect, as best he could determine. Tom Jefferson and them boys sure did ... the "he" being replaced with "they," since they all signed up to hang together! The head zealot, whether singular or plural, understood it ... practiced what he preached ... was a leader and an inspiration ... that's why he was the preacher and they the flock! I visited some other sites too and their comments prompted my proffering ... You fellows are far more knowledgeable about such things than am I but I don't think we yet know enough about the man to pass judgment. No, not the fanatic who shot the folks at Fort Hood ... but rather, our president! I'm reserving judgment ... it's just my way, and my privilege to so do ... to me, everything's a privilege with accompanying responsibilities ... don't believe in entitlements. Forget labels ... how can we, as a people, elect folks about whom we know so little? ... don't blame Obama, at least not yet!! I was taught to respect the Office of the President ... Daddy said "be quiet, the President is speaking on the radio" ... I didn't know his name but I knew to be quiet! Then, when he went and died, we got a new one ... didn't need to know his name neither ... goodness, there's only one President! Truth is, not many knew him ... but he gave 'em Hell and was a good President too! We're the ones to blame ... not the President! I truly hope this young man does well and suggest it's in our best interests that we all pray for that! And when we're finished praying ... we must figure out how to rid ourselves of media controlled popularity contests that determine who the candidates will be. Until we do that, we'll continue to have folks in office about whom we know too little ... but we'll have two, four, six or eight years to find out for ourselves! After the fact just ain't the time to do it!! We're a republic, or supposed be ... but it smells like a democracy ... my guess is that most now think that's what it is! Our President had this to say ... "it may be hard to comprehend the twisted logic that led to this tragedy but this much we do know - no faith justifies these murderous and craven acts; no just and loving God looks upon them with favor. And for what he has done, we know that the killer will be met with justice - in this world, and the next" ... I think most of us will buy into that. Who is this Bob, really? Not quite the same as usual, huh?" bob, journalist is genuine. picks bob journalist's friends, and is true to the friendship." ... another one of them mind triggered things ... don't even ask, cause I have no idea from whence it came. Perhaps Jimmy Smith's perception isn't universal, but I sorta wish it was ...

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Indian in The Old Barbershop

Lazy, Techie, Gadget lover, Procrastinator, well behaved, Emotional, Environment friendly, animal lover, Internet freak, Formula-1 fanatic, Cricket lover, a Manchester United fan, and above all, an INDIAN. Well, that kind of sums me up as a new writer in Bob’s blog. I had never thought I would be writing out such posts when I started blogging back in November 2008. I had always thought I would be into something technical, something that would always involve my interest for Computers and gadgets. My acquaintance with Bob can be categorized under “strange”. We do not know each other in person, no family terms, no business requirements. We met on a community site and I left out a message for Bob to visit my blog, TekBlogger. Bob visited me and asked me to “Pardon the Old man’s ignorance, but what is a full time Engineering course”. At once, I had known that Bob would be a good friend to be with. And so I am here, only ten sentences exchanged between Bob and me, and I am writing out a post for Bob. Bob, you are a wonderful man and I am loving this post more than my regular posts at my blog. When I first visited the Old Barbershop, the first glance told me there was but not much for me in it. It was more about friends coming together and talking about something they did in the past or something they were doing in the present. But as and when I read some of the posts written by Bob and Carol (Pardon me, these are the two people I have read on Barbershop up top now), I realized that if I did not follow what I read there, I would be missing out on something I should know. It lets you feel so very confident when you read out what Bob has to offer by sharing his experiences. Skipping the formalities, let me first introduce myself to the Barbershop. People around me call me Ashutosh Tiwari, (you can always call me Ashu), I am a native from India, and I love the Internet and Blogging. Though only a year since I have been into this beautiful pastime, I am loving it already. I am an engineering graduate (I know as I write out this post that I have already bored you people a lot and am still going on doing it, but you will excuse an engineer for being more boring, won’t you). My story about myself is kinda the same as is for most Indians, I was born in a Hindu family way back in November 1986. I was an excellent student all through my school (I guess up to class XII, after which I had my attention diverted to various other things but studies). As soon as I completed School, I went to an engineering college to get my four years degree in Computer Science. (In India, when you are born, the path is laid down for you. When I was born, people already had started hoping that I would be a bright engineer and my parents will be proud of their son. Not only your parents, everybody else expects you to become something they want, I know it sounds embarrassing but still remains a fact). So, I completed my degree in 2009, i.e., this year June, and am back to my place with my dear Mom and dearest Dad. (I have a job with me but I think I will be joining the company only later this year or early the next year). Completing all short and long introductions about myself with all words and phrases describing me as a person and telling very little about what I do or have done all my life (the long 23 years), I guess it would be harsh not to mention something about India and what I feel about it. When you talk about India, you are talking about a nation that accommodates almost all cultures that can exist on this earth. (Rule 377 of Indian Constitution was challenged by a decision by the judiciary in favor of Gays), so that presumably tells you we are now ready to change and accommodate almost everything on this planet. I have not been abroad (yet) and have no plans whatsoever, because I find the environment in India so complete. According to me, (though me still being very young to make such a call), I feel a person can live his life in two of the following ways: fast or slow. So if you are a person who wishes to slow down a bit while doing a lot of work, India has place for you. If you wish to rough yourself and push yourself to the limits in your area of expertise, India still has a place for you. We still follow all our relationships with so much of understanding that many will find difficult to digest. For instance, I still know the great grand children of the cousin of my great grand father and anything that happens in their family affects the people of my family. When you sit down to think of it, it may seem a bit odd and a bit useless, but in the end, its India you are talking about, we maintain what we have maintained!! When you start visiting temples, you will find people offering more to the idols than they would have offered to a person who was in desperate need. It’s not because we don’t care, but because we have so much of faith in those stone idols. We somehow still fear that if we don’t cater to the needs of those that are watching us (The Gods), no good can ever come to us. Pilgrims gathering in thousands and millions everyday on the banks of the holy Ganges; when you see them, you know, nobody can ever make them understand, their taking bath in the Ganges does not help them get better, but pollutes the river. But as I said, its India frenz!! You won’t believe me when I tell you this; my grandfather won’t shave on Thursdays, why, because his father did not, and his father did not, and his father did not and so on….You can’t blame it on them, they have done it for so many years that they won’t understand. But yes, we follow it, not because it is right but because it pleases our elders and we respect and love them so much… And yes, we care for each other a lot, even a beggar who seems quite fit in health is given proper food to eat and is given few bucks to buy his next meal. Does it not impress you that even begging can be a profession for about a million people in India? (According to stats, there are more than a million beggars in India who make their living sitting outside temples and mosques or going door to door). There can be no doubt whatsoever in the natural beauty that we have within our boundaries. The extreme north contains Kashmir which has no comparison I am told in terms of natural peace and beauty. I have been to every part of Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh and believe me, once you find a silent corner in the Himalayas, a perfect venture for snow and peace together, close your eyes and sit still, thinking nothing but about yourself, you will know why poets call Kashmir, the paradise on earth. It seems I will never end up writing when I talk about India, so let me keep something for the next post. I will be visiting soon and will definitely have something for all the readers of Bob’s barbershop!!. It was fun writing out something for you Bob, and at such short notice, I could not think of something better. Cheers!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Banana Murray's Special Treats

... something so special that you could only get it at Nana's house. Only good grandchildren could have it.. I must have been 10 or 11 before I finally "got it".

I called my grandmother Murray - "Nana". That was a modification from what I originally called her - "Banana". Well that is what I thought the really big people were telling me to call her.

My grandmother Worthington, I called - "Yes, Mamam!"

Nana Murray never gave me an official Christmas or birthday present but I got the "special treats" when I had been good.

Pulling TaffyShe and I pulled salt water taffy in her old kitchen ...

she let my Uncle Jimmy ruin a cooking pot to melt lead to cast lead soldiers for my new Lincoln log set ...

she would let me use her special marbles collection to play Chinese checkers ... Nana's MarblesCarol's Birthday Cake

she made me special birthday cakes from scratch, white cake with candied filling and boiled icing tinted pink!

She made me the best Easter eggs anyone ever saw. ... Egg Faceshe blew the contents out of the egg, painted faces on them and made them costumes.

Nana Murray lived off survivor benefits from Railroad retirement. She didn't have the money to stock up on "goodies" for the grandchildren so she did other things that made her my favorite.


SPECIAL TREATS

Take 2 slices of white "store bread", carefully cut off crusts. Take one half pat of margarine, spread on slices of bread. Sprinkle a teaspoon of light brown sugar on each slice of bread, place together like a sandwich Store Bread Treat

Carefully cut into 4 squares

MODIFICATION FOR NOT SO GOOD GRANDCHILDREN

Substitute refined white sugar for brown sugar

What is "store bread"?

Store bread is a loaf of sliced bread that you buy at the grocery store. Bread (on the Worthington side) is white hot water corn bread and on the Murray side is corn bread made in an old cast iron skillet.

Since it's now soup season, I'll be making a lot of the Murray corn bread.