Monday, January 10, 2011

New Year Resolutions

Each and every year, millions of people make New Year Resolutions. I know this because in our world of information and technology, we hear and know everything. Most resolutons revolve around getting healthier, working out, and saving more. So, I introduce you to January. January is the busiest and best month in the gym businesses. It is not just a hype, because being a disciplined gym-o-holic, I have to wait in line to get a bench as I impatiently wait for my turn. This happens only in January. As the month progresses, the gym crowd seem to thin out, slowly at first, but accelerating as the days pile on. By February, it is only the regulars at the gym, whom I might say look like they survive on Steriods. Then, at the end of February or beginning of March, there is a spike in gym attendance. I think I know why this happens. Well, if you ever lived in the United States, you would know about this common trend.  Spring Break!  Yes, there is nothing like being young and unable to take off your shirt at any given moment in Southbeach or Acapulco to show off your six pack. And for the rest of us, we just want to take our shirts off to get that even tan.

How about eating healthy? I think I can continue on with the story or use the same story as working out. This is a nation where fast food is King, and people will order fat free burgers (if there was one) with a super size soda, just before driving to gym. If people have to walk more than a block to the gym, well, just get out the car and burn some gasoline. Not the calories though. Talking of super size, the super size soda in this country can serve a family of five back home in Bhutan.  It is really sad that a Nation of plenty is nothing but a nation of obesity and waste.

Savings? This is a sensitive issue, better addressed individually. Here is to hoping 2011 is a year of savings and wealth. And yes, sharing and charity. Please give to charity of your choice if you can. There is nothing more humane than the humility of giving. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Of bananas...

A few years back when I was still in College, I had a roommate from a different culture and social status than myself. Living with another person brings forth myriad of experiences and oftern times shock. To illustrate, I was about to eat a banana in the presence of my roommate, casually chatting, as most young men often do, when I started to peel the banana starting at the top. His jaw dropped. "What are you doing?" The expression on his face told me an ultold story that this young man had never seen anyone peel a banana from the top before eating. Now, I remember, we peel bananas from the top, make a small offering, and eat the rest. Not this young man. He was there to show me how to peel a banana. So, not waiting for an answer, he takes a banana from the bunch, peels from the bottom, and starts to eat, all the while his gaze fixated upon me, as if teaching a child by action. Well, whatever he was trying to do, the lesson sticked. Now, I know how to eat a banana. Well, I know how to peel a banana before I eat it. Lesson learned. Or a new skill acquired.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Buddhism, heaven, others...

[Disclosure: I am not trying to get anywhere with anything I am about to write...]  

I grew up a Buddhist. Although not a very devout Buddhist, I believe in the core principles and teachings of Buddha. I have grown to believe in heaven, after life, and hell. If only I get to pick which one I want to go to...

 I am not critical or judgmental of any belief other people have, but the feelings are not reciprocated. People will tell me they are not preaching, as they go on about why I will never make to heaven if I am not a Christian. I mention Christian because I have had friends who follow Islam, Hindu, and other forms of Buddhism, but never been told I will never make it to heaven if I didn't follow any Islam, Hindu, or Buddhism. That is unless of course, I am talking to my dad, in which case he will say, this Christianity/Muslim/Others is not ...

I was accompanying an elderly lady at the Union Station in Washington D.C, a friend of my in-law, when we passed an art work display done by grade school students. The paintings/drawings depicted varying themes and talents by the young artists. One particular drawing intrigued me, that of Lord Buddha, sitting in meditation under a Bodhi Tree. As I stood there appreciating the young talent's work, the lady mentions a documentary she once saw on Discovery Channel, about how Buddhist monks selected a Lama, who was thought to be the reincarnation of a previous well known Lama. Her first questions was how a Lama was selected? My explanation was that the previous Lama would normally leave some clues as to where he might be reborn, and that a senior group of monks use a secret set of criteria to determine the reborn Lama, who in turn has to pass a set of tests to qualify reincarnation, which could take a few years. Her second question/comment was, "You don't believe in that crap, do you?" My response was to stare at her shortly and tell her that she didn't need to believe in any of it, but that I did. She went on to tell me that the only way to heaven was through Christ our Lord. I don't argue that or have any doubt about that, but is Christ the only way to heaven? If so, are over a billion Buddhist wrong on their way to heaven? Are close to 2 billion Islam followers wrong as well? This according to the lady.

My thought on this is that there has to be more than one way that leads us to heaven. The choice of path, however, is and should be a choice of freedom to any individual.

[If someone is judging you, that doesn't define you. It, however, definitely defines the person judging you._Dr.Wayne Dyer]

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A world without makeup

[Disclosure: I am not trying to get anywhere with anything I am about to write...] 

I always imagine what a world without make up would look like?

I ran into someone at work this morning, a female, smelling like a can of perfume. Her short presence in the room made its mark, leaving behind a trail of scent anyone can easily trace it back to a certain someone. I don't have nose for perfume, unless used minimally. But surprisingly, there was no trace of make up on her, not even any noticeable lipstick.  So why an unholy amount of perfume on her?  

Now, I have come to accept that if I ever take public transportation, I know for a fact that soaps and deodorant are a necessity. It is not flattering to be packed like sardines inside a subway car and for a distinct b.o. to come wafting through the air in such a compact space. My, can that be unpleasant affair. However, I was surprised that there was someone who did a humane thing to conserve water and save the ozone layers, having intentionally chosen neither to shower, nor use deodorant. But to the rest of us, God saving, it was a headache inducing aroma. Fortunately, like everything else, it came to a much anticipated end, my stop.     

I hear men are wearing make up these days. So, how different would our world really be without make up? Just a thought... Compose

[ be continued]

Friday, November 12, 2010

A reason for celebration

I share a birthday  with His Majesty the 4th King of Bhutan, at least on paper, because like many of my peers, parents of our generation who were mostly uneducated, didn't write down the exact date of birth. We share a private joke that our parents scratched on the date of birth on pots and pans, but ultimately erased on the next wash (not the clean pots now in household with available gas range or electric stoves, but the pots from wood fed stoves). So there, a birthday bestowed upon me by my wise teacher, a reasoning that I would always remember it every November 11th, our King's birthday. Happy birthday Your Majesty, and thank you for the day. 

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Of fatherhood, adolescence, youth, this, that

[Disclosure: I am not trying to get anywhere with anything I am about to write...]

The prospect of fatherhood scares me, yet at the same time, makes me long for something undeniably precious. I wonder how teenage parents learn to become a parent, how at such a young age, they juggle the responsibilities and the irrationalities of being a parent and a teenager at the same time. Where is the line drawn?

Youth is like a flower that blooms
But a season
Its beauty once plenty
Ultimately withers away

I look at life positively, but certain facets of youth cannot be traded.  Hence my rants about teenage parents, because I could never have made a good father as a teenager. I was too selfish and plain naive. My respect and love for all the responsible young adults, especially in our days when responsibility and discipline is hard to come by for most young people. But it's not to say young responsible teenagers doen't exist. 

The beauty of life is the experiences of life's events, either through choice or lack thereof. As a young boy, I spent countless hours lost in the world of Dickens, understandably relating to some of the young characters, fondly reminding myself of the future to come, when I would rise above all vice and what it held for me. To my young mind, there was nothing I couldn't think of achieving.

I was a rebel at heart, though mistaken for a simpleton, and often branded as harmless.  Only if they knew what was going through in my devilish mind. Thinking of youth, something really conspicuous comes to mind. My grandmother (father's side) would often mention that it was a good thing I was nice, because I was not a looker. She was really concerned that I wouldn't get any girl. Was she right? Whatever the outcome, I am happy to report that I found someone who is not after my looks, but someone who enjoys being with me. Grandma 1, Me 0. Oh wait, Me 1, Grandma 0. (Imagine a big smile on my face...)

This brings to why I thought of fatherhood. My relationship with my father was memorable and at times tense. I try to imagine being in my father's shoes trying to raise six hooligans. That's a not a pretty picture, but I think the six of us did alright. Then it strikes me that fatherhood has no plateau, no sense of self, and no life.  It is a never ending chain of responsibilities. Some wise guy said that life is what happens when you are busy planning your life, or something like that. Yes, life happens as we try and figure out how to live today and tomorrow.

If fatherhood was hard for my father, I didn't make it any easier for him. Not that I am sorry for any of the chaos I brought forth to his life, but I firmly believe that it just comes with the title. When I enter fatherhood and have a son of my own, I expect him to raise hell for me. After all, what good is all that hair on the head if we don't get to lose it all due to fatherhood?

One crisp and chilly winter morning, having enraged my father, he awoke from his drunken stupor and started chasing me. Details of the event evade me, but not what followed next. I saw that look on his face, and I knew what was going to come next. I ran as fast as I could from one room to the next, then finally out the front door, stark naked as the day I was born, taking comfort in the fact that I was enveloped in total darkness. I could hear approaching footsteps right behind me, whiff of panting and grunts to announce someone vicious was behind my trail. Not a soul was in the streets. Good, I thought. I was confident in my abilities to run faster than him, but how long was he gonna come after me? I passed the 1 kilometer mark, sneaked a quick look behind me and could clearly make out a running silhouette behind me. I have gained some distance, but nothing to take comfort in. 2 kilometers later, naked and barefoot, I was feeling a stringing pain shoot from the sole of my foot creeping up through my head. I kept running. I wasn't going to turn back because I figured since I started it, I wasn't going to give up, and so told myself I might as well keep going, much like Forest Gump, minus the funnies and Nike sneakers.

Just when I thought the old man was going to bury me that day, as the darkness gave into the approaching sunrise, my father yelled out for me to stop. Panting heavily, he assured me that it was okay, and that he wouldn't punish me. To prove his intent, he stopped, and started to turn back. By then, I had realized that I was no running Gump and so decided to accept the olive branch. I was ready to take my punishment like a man if the situation arose, so, I turned around and started limping back towards home, 3 kilometers away. My father walked to the edge of the road to allow me free passage, and caught a glimpse of his face as I sneaked past him. Was that a smirk on his face? I already knew I looked comical, and as all men know, the cold didn't help my shrinking ego, but walking past my father naked was a little embarrassing.

My father kept to his promise and didn't come after me. There was no punishment or threat for one. I breathed a sigh of relief. The return home was slower than expected. When I rounded the corner of the road before the first number of houses I had to go past, the sun was already up and seemingly and deliberately much too early for a winter morning. An army of  the neighborhood kids filled the quiet streets. I walked past my neighbors children, my hands covering as much of myself as I possibly could, not daring to turn back and make sure no one was looking or laughing at me. Did I hear whispers?

That made for the longest morning in my life...

A page in my life, then, now, somewhere....

[Disclosure: I am not trying to get anywhere with anything I am about to write...]

Memories of my childhood flickers dimly at the back of my head like a candle in a dark room, as everything in my past comes to a slow focus, sometimes more often than usual. Growing up wasn't easy for me; like most youngsters in the neighborhod, childhood wansn't to be for the most of us. To share that childhoold with five siblings made it both horrific and eventful. What devilish little brats! After all what is said and done, I couldn't for the love of anything live without any one of my crazy brothers. As hard as childhood proved to be, it made us that much stronger and wanting far more than what was feasible to acquire in that small little town known as Wamrong.  The dream had to expand beyond the boundaries of the town and perhaps even beyond the country itself.

Wamrong. What a characteristic little town! Even after all these years and 10, 000 miles away here in the United States, I still think of myself  as a Wamrongpa. That old feeling comes rushing back. The colorful neighbors, the hordes of stray dogs we loved and hated at the same time, and the old dilapidated ghostly school which appeared to be in ruins. The reason for everything in my life came out of that school and my father's strong belief that an ounce of knowledge far outweighs a pound of gold. As I grow older, I get to appreciate that principle more and more. To think of it, I am becoming more and more like what I used to hate about my father. Well, I guess I am my father's son after all.

Characters, I hear are shaped and developed by the environment a person grows in. For me, it was a combination  and culmination of family values, poverty, sicknesses only poor people seem to get, and education. I realize that I have very far to go in life, but I fear time is fleeting by. However, I feel deeply rooted in the virtues that a man is never too late to start on something and that dreams can be had if one puts their passion into it.

For as long as I can remember, my father was a well known drunk. What drove a grown man to drink that stupid was beyond any of my young reasoning and logic. Then there was mother, from a whole another side of the spectrum, who could easily have been a mother to Buddha himself. I wondered how two people of polar opposites found and stayed together for so long as a family. Then I heard rumors that father had cheated on mother and borne a child with another woman, later proven to be a fact.  I was far too young to understand the severity of the act and the consequences that undeniably came along with it. But the deed was done and the seed planted and as we all know, there is no turning back time...

Mother wouldn't have anything to do with father's woe-begotten child, and rightfully so, and there, six of us instead of ten. Ten? Yes, ten. Three of the oldest were lost at a very young age, including the still talked about and only daughter they ever had who passed away at a tender age of eleven. Hence began my parents determination to bring forth a daughter to this world, to replace the one they dearly loved, but now lost, leaving them broken. What treachery! What lame life! However, not everything was in vain. After six sons, lessons were finally learned, and hope forever lost of ever having a daughter, and denying me a sister I always wanted, they decided to settle in for six crazy sons. A sister would have been nice, but my five brothers? I wouldn't trade that for anything! I still have all the scars and bruises to remind me of them everyday....

Sometimes, I do wonder how different things would have turned out if father fought for his other son and introduced him to the rest of us and to the rest of the world. I could only speculate, but I would love to know the man, my half brother, whom I know exist, yet remain nameless. Did he become one of those young men who becomes a grandfather at only 30 and driven to a life of poverty? Did he end up fathering ten children? Twelve? Is he a monk? What kind of monk? Did he die young? I have many things to know about this man, my other brother.

Well, that's me. I get easily distracted, sometimes, and go on a tangent. So, what did I want to write about?