Sunday, January 22, 2012

Moving on


pic credit - Mine - just your friendly neighborhood rain clouds


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I had to cut short a phone call today because I couldn't hear over the roar of the wind.

The wind that sounds outside the huge windows of our twenty fifth floor apartment is loud and unobstructed. The Panama Bay and the Pacific Ocean beyond are just in front of us; sky scrapers rim the constantly shifting shoreline of Panama City. From the distance, approaching rain seems like grey mist, or like the dust from conquering armies. Dispersed moisture cloaks the scattered islands and most of the mainland. You wonder, momentarily, if you're losing sight or if the world truly is disappearing within the wind whipped rain's embrace. The waters of the bay begin to change color, turning a darker hue. You always know how  the rain is approaching, because the waters directly under the onslaught seem to turn inside out.
pic credit- Mine, not a cloud in sight


I will miss this. We're leaving Panama, and while I knew that Him could change trajectory in mid-flight, I had hoped that this time, the flight would be longer. I will miss the rain, the sweep of ocean outside my frighteningly wide windows, the moisture in the air that clings to skin making it lush, the forests abundant and very alive. No place is perfect, and of course, fool hardiness can get one into a lot of trouble anywhere. But my stay in Panama has been a gift. It was a gift of time - to recuperate, heal and allow sanity back into my life. While the waves rolled in from far away, never still, ripples that kept pace with the unending activity in the city, my mind slowed down. Slowed down enough for thoughts to settle like the proverbial 'happiness butterfly'.

I just can't take drama, you know? And now, I'm happy accepting it and won't take anyone else's imposition of it on my life lying down. Just like the little tugboats that race away toward the outer reaches of the Panama Bay early in the morning, for fishing, but race back, even just two or three hours later, trying to beat laden clouds to the shore. They anchor themselves to buoys or the pier and just wait, electric blue tarp protecting the people inside the boats. When the rain abates, off they go again, drawing in fish by the netfuls. I'm the tugboat. I will focus on the fish, being on the ocean and not on beating the storm, which, by the way, I have nothing to do with.

There is nothing to this life without the color green. In plants, that is. A canopy of trees with rippling branches offer a reassuring home. The scent in the forests here reminds me of all those words perfumeries use to describe notes...woodsy, musky, with faint notes of orange blossoms, vetiver, wet earth, caterpillar surprises and impending sunshine...umm...the last three are my personal favorites. It is an embrace unlike any other...being in these forests. Every sense is coddled. In that kaleidoscope of green, where imagination can take you to some scary places, just breathing in the scents and allowing moisture to seep in leaves one with a deep sense of peace.
pic credit - Mine, on our trip to Playa Blanca

The beaches have no warnings posted on the nearly black volcanic soil in the Pacific, or the dazzling white to beige sands of the Atlantic shores. You're really on your own if you decide to take on the mighty ocean when it's got a rip-tide party going. And of course, if you don't check tide levels before getting there, it's your own fault. But no one would actually blame you. Because, everything is just so heart-stopping gorgeous, that you'd be a fool to let a little thing like danger, and possible death interfere with your communion with nature. And of course, it is not cold. Never cold. Either humid or balmy (which they term winter here).

People who vacation in seemingly exotic places, with excellent promotion strategies might miss Panama. From the very modern Panama City to ancient Panama Viejo, the many Kuna governed islands in the Atlantic, to the coffee plantations and rapids in Chiriqui, near Costa Rica, the discoveries and adventures are constant.

There are issues...punctuality is one of them :-) But there's so much to admire...your friends probably stopped on their way from home to watch the impromptu fireworks display, get a mini bite to eat before showing up for dinner! LOL! And there's every chance you could get suckered into paying more for something. Or that flashy gold/designer jewelry you're wearing could get snatched by scamps on motorbikes. Or that you look a little too high maintenance in the wrong parts of town in the wrong times of day. Or you think that all that heated blood when you chance a glance at a good lookin' romeo is a good thing, leading to a steamy romance, that is likely dangerous. But then again, if there is a sense of discrimination in our natures, and the ability to make judgments, these are the reasons I believe we have them. Not to exasperate the heck out of each other, but to keep ourselves safe.

I feel sorry for Mini-Baby who will likely zip line in a different country, unlike Mini-Him who Tarzan-yelled over forests in Boquete. Mini-Baby will miss never catching a cold because, well, it's never cold. Mini-Baby won't know, anytime soon, what it is to want a pineapple and get it off a tree. Or have coconut water, instead of stuff from the tap, because, hey, it's there, and it's about 10c. Yes. Or Mini Baby will necessarily wait for a tropical location to eat passion fruit bought from the local markets with three pounds of tomatoes for $3 and tin roofs. And Mini-Baby will likely wait to eat fresh papaya, also from the local markets, grown in local farms.

And we'll never be here again, where people from, literally, every corner of the world, still find a home and are comfortable. And where billions and millions of dollars can buy you untold luxury, and a dollar goes pretty far, and ten dollars a day isn't that bad. Of course, it could all change; and everyone could start doing the treadmill run here too, where a million dollars are just that, and guarantee nothing. But my experience has been different.

The rain made way for bluer skies and calmer seas here today. Chances of an apocalyptic downpour lasting all of three minutes, every few hours will be greatly diminished from now on. For another three months. Before it all starts again. And this is how I'll be saying good bye in a few weeks, to a warm, generous and slightly off kilter place, that has room and open arms for everybody.

I'll go bawl some of that abundant moisture away now. Might ease the heaviness in my heart.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Never heard of this before today

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Mini-Him is just nine years old. Aside from adventurous acrobatics and needing to spend a little too much time on the computer/TV, he's basically a sweet natured child.

Which is why, when I browsed through google's formidable links on signs of head injury, (Mini-him bumped his head some time ago, he's been okay...just being extra cautious) and stumbled across the term, parental abuse, I was a little shocked.

I've heard of elder abuse, child abuse, spousal abuse etc. But there were actual cases of parental abuse by teens/preteens/adult kids. Abuse ran the gamut from hitting, throwing things, insults, intimidation and black mail.

Most of the parents truly believed that they were doing their best and were, without exception, shocked in the first instance, and never reported it, in the hope that such instances wouldn't repeat themselves. Which of course, they did, many times over.

pic credit - photostock; freedigitalphotos.net
I searched deep within myself, trying to imagine a response should such an unthinkable event occur with Mini-Him or "on the way Mini-Baby". And while it will never be my intention to unload my problems on the rest of society, I doubt Him and I can or should deal with it alone. My first thought was that I would call the police. And let them do what they will, until the child can acknowledge an issue and agree to some sane counseling. I would definitely need distance. I would need an abusive anyone FAR AWAY from me. No matter who.

And of course, my poor child's done nothing to deserve such suspicion. But I am sitting a little stunned and very disturbed that there is a generation without thought of self-control and limits. Without thought of responsibility or even a basic connection to their roots.

There appear to be crisis hotlines for parents. But nothing as definitive as child abuse hotlines. Nothing that will take the child and have him/her in detention for enough time to make a difference(girls were right up there, with the boys, getting physical with their parents and threatening them!).

But then again, we seem to need the most protection from ourselves. How can governments contribute to sane upbringing too? How many crisis hotlines and organizations are we going to have, when basic sanity and responsibility is lacking sorely?

Most parents who wrote in to the various websites seemed like hard working people who sought to give their children a better life. How does pulling a laptop away from a child warrant a punch from the child?

Why do I stumble across this stuff? I wish I didn't. Ignorance is just total bliss, most of the time. Now I have to watch out for "just one more thing".

My wonderful Mini-Him mustn't have some raging, uncontrollable monster inside. At least, nothing that'll split us all irrevocably.

Have you all heard of these things?! What do the parents do? Do they just take it and keep being parents until the light dawns on the kids? Do they refuse to acknowledge the children? Do they fight back?

Oh man! This is so awful!

pic link - http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=2125

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Excerpt from With you in my heart

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With you in my heart is up on Smashwords - here's another excerpt from it...
Taban is a friend from Varun's time in New York. He has a great influence on Varun's life. A little scene from their particular interaction -



Sitting back one evening, Varun studied Taban thoughtfully as he microwaved yet another Cup-a-Soup and enjoyed it like a gourmet dish. As he plopped down in front of the television, he smiled at Varun. It occurred to him that Taban must have faced tremendous odds to be able to leave his country and study pathology in the US. The little things around never bothered him. Running through Central Park in the dusk, Varun asked, “Did you face opposition when you decided to leave Uganda?”
Taban laughed and asked in turn, “Who would oppose me?” His tall frame running with ease, he said, “I had no one to re-assure!” He laughed again, bright, strong teeth in a serious face, “I would not accept my fate farming chickens and sweeping refuse for my boss. Most of us would have continued until we owned our own farms and moved out. The only thing I loved about the farm was the way they composted. Take everything people don’t want and make it into something essential. So it was waste that inspired me! It appeared that I was superfluous too. But I could still do something with myself. There I was, no one would ever know whether I lived or died, no one would care if I ate or not. It seemed tragic when I was young. As I grew older, it became apparent to me that it could only be a boon. I didn’t have to give in to my fate and no one was going to stand in my way. When I won that lottery that the US embassy had, I could only think that it was not chance. I had waited all my life, preparing for the time when I could be more than I was. More than just waste!”
“Are you happy now?” Varun asked.
“No, I’m still me.” Taban guffawed.
Varun frowned. He meant to have a serious discussion. Taban always ended each of their conversations with a joke.
Chuckling, Taban said, “See, I can’t lose time wondering if I am as happy as I want to be. I know when something doesn’t feel right and I need to get out of a bad place. How do I know I am in a good place now? It doesn’t feel wrong. But I’m thinking that I still have a ways to go.”

Hope you enjoyed it...and if you've read the book and have any manner of feedback for me, I'd love to hear from you!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Our raw flawed laws...

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Just had a thought. A few thoughts related to expectations/judgements and guilt.

I do believe that it's important to be able to judge right from wrong. Like the father in Khaled Hosseini's Kites said, there is no greater sinner than one who takes what does not belong to him. I'd add to that list - taking over some one else's person/purpose and molding it to fit your own view of life can have disastrous consequences.

I think it's important to be able to judge for our safety.

It's important to be able to tell a creep/axe-murderer from a non-creep/lumberjack.

Beyond that, I have wonder why we all expect such a whole lot. Especially since, we're so short sighted (literally too, in my case) and ignorant about why we're each here on this planet.

How do we know, for instance, that someone who appears isolated/uninvolved isn't really trying to maintain and inner balance, and for functioning normally, there can't be anything more important to this person.

How do we know, an incessant chatterbox isn't merely being narcissistic, but has found an outlet for clogged  sentiment?

Or, that a workaholic is working her way toward finding the moment when she can finally stop and smell the roses? That to truly stop, she needs some sort of validation through work/a healthy bank account/some sort of cushion for tough times?

Or that the people who seem so terribly involved with a child are terrified of losing him/her and feel over involvement beats being lax?

Of course balance in all things is important. And friends and family do their part in identifying when someone goes overboard. That would be healthy.

Still, I've seen people dismiss others for reasons that seem mighty superficial (to me).

Perhaps the traits people exhibit are necessary for their survival, and for their particular life lessons/journey. We can't know exactly what they need; most of us are still trying to figure out why we're here and what we're required to achieve.

Yet, it's easy to dismiss actions and believe that we have the right of it.

Why extend our shortsightedness and expect others to see as little as we do?!

Flaws are pieces of the puzzle too, I think. It wouldn't do to have missing parts of our individual selves just because someone else can't stand it! That's not to say that we can't improve. I guess I'm just trying to say that perfection must be the final goal. Perfection for what each of our journeys entail.

pic credit - federico stevanin, freedigitalphotos.net
And as long as we contribute to maintaining civilization's framework, I can't think how it becomes anyone's business that we live a shade of burgundy as opposed to beige...

or that a cat chooses to execute a "Downward Dog" with perfection.

pic link - http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=149

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

More bullying, another death

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http://news.yahoo.com/staten-island-teen-bullied-taking-her-life-161151417.html

Do visit the Yahoo! link above for the whole story.

Here's another link - http://www.silive.com/eastshore/index.ssf/2012/01/relatives_of_amanda_cummings_s.html

I wrote about bullying some time last year. It's another girl this time and by the looks of it, felt desperate enough to end her very worthy life. No joys of growing up, rites of passage, family unions or anything. The potential for all those moments faded before the fact that she could not deal with cruelty in the here and now. A boy-friend who formed her world and the insults from other girls that filled her world. A teenager's natural angst amplified by careless words and actions.

pic credit - Salvatore Vuono; freedigitalphotos.net
I read that Amanda Cummings' mother knew and wanted to help. But she was afraid of being picked on even more. Those bullies must feel awfully empowered. Now that they've pushed one over the edge, and the fun's gone (except for, I believe, constantly posting terrible messages to her FB profile), they're going to be looking for another one. Another slightly unsure, hopeful and trusting peer.

There's evidently no remorse. Or perhaps, they're covering up their guilt with a ton of bluster. And I'm pretty sure the adults in their miserable lives tell them that the poor girl who took her life was at fault. For not fighting back/being too weak...what have you.

What gives them such power over another human being? This child took a final step. And irreversible step. I cannot imagine what her family must feel. And ofcourse, in hindsight, any number of options would seem like appropriate solutions - going to the authorities in school/law enforcement/even getting Amanda out of there. Anything but this. They knew about it, but respected the child's boundaries.

It's always been there, the urge to put down weak/different people . The cruel extremes are new and more potent than ever. I could go on talking about societal ills that contribute to the mindset of these children. It can't be anything you haven't heard before.

But they're a bulk of the issue. The issue of leaving tender lives at the mercy of others' dark leanings.

There has to be a system in place...a way to change this. A way to make children focus on what matters without needing to conform within an inch of their lives. Look at the girl's picture, the guarded smile, and the wary eyes.

Why does she need to conform or else?!

What was it, within her, that craved for acceptance? That too, with such a miserable group of girls?

I wish there could be some legislation regarding this. Take away the chance for a future from the bullies.

While this child's actions were her own, and extreme, anyone that pushed her to this extent needs to be brought to book.

Let it go on their records. Just like any other offense. Only, make it severe. Let any institution that they attend be aware of their part in the end of a young life, and make their choices accordingly. Let every work place that they ever attend know about it.

The bullies and their stupidly supportive families need to feel it where it'll hurt. Where they will never forget it and never repeat their actions. It needs to be a part of their future. 


The child who took her life, lost her future too, after all. So did her family. Everyone's futures changed in that drastic moment.




pic link - http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=659