The Echos of Our Past

December, 2015

It's not about what you're called, but what you answer to - African Proverb
In our lives, shit happens.

More important than the things that happen, are the things that resonate. The quality of our lives doesn't just depend on the things that happen to us. It depends equally on how we react and deal with what happens and what part of all that resonates over time.

We all know what lies on the other side of positivity and contentment. We know because that is where we spend much of our time. That place is strewn with all the detritus of the miserable parts of our lives—failed relationships, busted business ventures, regrets and bad decisions. It echoes with laments and smells of bad eggs. In such chambers, we moan and sigh and scratch our scabs. As the song says, "it feels so good to feel so bad."

It doesn't have to be that way. The past is gone, and though we live with the consequences, both good and bad, we can cultivate the habit of accentuating the positive.

As a brown person with a bullying father and penniless pockets growing up in racist, hectic, money-grubbing Hong Kong, I faced my share of bigotry, hardship and despair, and my tales of woe are many. The things that resonate the most though are the instances of generosity, kindness and good humor:

The all-Chinese schoolmates who took me into the fold with nary a thought, the teachers who gladly sacrificed their personal break times to help me with my Chinese, the neighbor who kept their door ajar for me to go watch their new color TV any time I wanted, the family that learned to make curry potatoes and purchased spoons and forks so they could invite us over for vegetarian meals, the friend's Amah who took me for Yum Cha on her breaks many a Sunday, the grocer who gave me a free Vitasoy when my coins didn't add up to the requisite twenty cents, the neighborhood tailor who professionally sewed on my Boy Scout merit badges in exchange for teaching him a few Indian words that he had no use for, the bookstore owner who gave me a much-needed part time job and paid me a generous wage, the factory owners who gave me hundreds of thousands in credit on a mere promise to pay and helped me establish my business, and, best of all, my best friend's family, who embraced me as their own and who, after half a century are still my family and my friend, still my best friend, and brother.

That is the Hong Kong and the childhood I cherish and that resonates.

Of all the noises in our lives, let's allow the sweeter sounds more resonance.

Happy new year.

Gaurang Thakkar

copyleft asserted:

Parental Love

Love is an earthquake. It arrives unexpectedly, and shakes your world.

We knew what pregnancy meant: that there would be a baby. We loved them even before they were born. But nothing could have prepared us for the surge of love we felt when we first saw our babies in the flesh. Not even the prior experience of the birth of our first child prepared us for the emotional surge we would feel with the birth of our second. It was all new, as if our lives had just begun.

A friend I'd reconnected with after a twenty five year gap told me she had no children, and therefore, no headaches. I replied that, yes, kids are a pain in the arse, except for when they're not.

All the heartaches and heartbreaks, all the apprehension, and frustrations and anger and teeth-grinding, the sleepless nights and worries and smelly diapers and financial burdens—We would gladly go through again and again for the two earthquakes that shook our world when they arrived, and have kept it shaking ever since.

On Old Friends

On old friends

It's funny how old friends make you feel young.

I met some old friends today. Friends from forty years ago. People who shaped my life. At first, I couldn't remember some names, and I couldn't remember some faces. As the eventing wore on, and with the help of some wine, it all came flooding back. 

These wonderful people made me who I am. I was the only Indian in a Chinese school, yet, for the most part, and by most of the students, I was embraced as part of the student family.

To my shame, I had forgotten this. Tonight, with hugs and smiles and back-slapping, I was reminded that I am still part of that family. The years melted away, and I was fifteen again. We were all fifteen again. Fifteen and grand parents, some of us.

There is no scent fresher, or younger and more vivacious than the scent of old friends.