Sunday, April 29, 2012

In Memoriam: Vellaichamy Ganapathy

On Friday, April 20, 2012, we received the shocking news that our friend Ganapathy (whom I called "Annan," meaning "elder brother") was in a coma in Madurai, India. That was definitely a bolt from the blue, because we had spoken to him just the previous month and had no clue at all that he was dying. Well, we learned that he had liver cancer, and chose not to disclose it to anyone, lest they pity him or feel sorry for him. By the time they had diagnosed the deadly disease, it was Stage IV already, with virtually no scope for treatment whatsoever, and Ganapathy Annan chose not to distress others by revealing to them that his death was imminent. He had eventually told his wife, our dear friend Padma, that his days on the planet were numbered, and then only a few close family members were kept informed.

What was shocking to me, in particular, was that Ganapathy Annan had been a teetotaler and a non-smoker. During our 25 year association with him, we had never seen him even touch a beer for that matter. The cause then, had been his having contracted a Hepatitis B infection several years ago, when he had been in his twenties. With the agonizing knowledge of his impending death,  just two months ago, he had arranged for the marriage of his son, Karthik. Even Karthik had been informed of his Dad's cancer only after the wedding was over. All these revelations on that fateful Friday threw us for a loop, and we learned of his passing away the very next day, on Saturday, April 21, 2012. Ganapathy Annan had been my husband's colleague at Madura Coats, Madurai, and we had forged a bond with him and his family, and his extended family as well, down the years. Now it was time for us to reminisce about all the good old times, and pray that God be merciful on him and not let him suffer, that God give the strength to his family to bear their great, unspeakable loss.

My husband I were newly-weds 25 years ago, and Ganapathy Annan and Padma had two young children at the time. Our friendship was beautiful - visiting each other's homes, chatting into the long hours of the night, eating "kari dosai" (mutton dosai) at Konar  Kadai in Madurai, drive-in style, driving out of town on road trips, constructing our houses, watching our children grow, etc., etc., Then when we moved to the US, Ganapathy Annan came to visit us in California. We have very fond memories of all those good old times, and devastated as we are now at his loss, we pray that his soul rest in peace and that all his loved ones find comfort in the sweet memories they have of him.

RIP, Ganapathy Annan!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Rich Parents

With its influx of millionaires from all over the world, China, in particular, Vancouver has been seeing a never-before-seen display of ostentation and wealth these past few years. From multi-million dollar homes to flashy cars to pricey yachts to admission into the elite moneyed clubs to endless rounds of golf and what not, there has been a spectacular hike in the extent to which flamboyance could possibly go. As can be concluded then, rich parents beget rich offspring, who in turn display their parents' wealth to unbelievable extremes. I have had students from all over the world who have no regard for money whatsoever, whose spending money each month could support a huge family in dire financial straits, just like that. 

No surprise then that one of my 19-year-old students bought himself a brand new Porsche, a few years ago, and proudly showed it off to all his friends, including the Instructor. Interestingly, I happened to notice that the teachers were all driving beat up old jalopies, as could be seen from the cars in the Faculty parking lot, but the student parking lot was full of high end cars - Lamborghinis, Porsches, BMWs, Maseratis, Benzes, and what not! And then there was this young girl who invited her classmates to her place on a Friday evening, and boy, what stories they had to tell, come Monday morning! Her house happened to be a huge estate with extensive landscaped gardens, and dinner was a lavish affair with a free-flowing wet bar and gourmet food served by uniformed waiters! Need I say more?!?

The police in Vancouver impounded nearly a dozen high end cars last summer for illegal racing on the highways, endangering others' lives, and it was discovered that all these cars were driven by the sons of new immigrants to Canada, some of them not even having a full driver's licence. The police decided to auction off the cars, but the boys were back again on the roads, their parents having bought them yet another new, flashier car! Money happens to grow on those proverbial trees for these families, What values are such parents imparting to their kids, and where will it all go, I shudder to think!?! The ostentatious display of money is sometimes depressing to lesser mortals who have to work hard for a living and struggle to make both ends meet, but the sad truth is that rich parents rule!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Time To Smell The Coffee

Happy Easter! I sincerely pray that this Day of Resurrection also be a day of revival of all our hopes, dreams, and aspirations. I am enjoying a four-day Easter break, a mellowed-down version from last year's, when we went on a family road trip in the Pacific Cascades this time around. This year we couldn't do anything fancy since the husband had to work, but the kid and I just chilled out at home in each other's company, cooking our favorite foods, relaxing with a book, and sleeping in every day. We lead very mechanical lives day in and day out, and hardly have time to smell the roses, but this break, I'm having ample time to smell the coffee at home, so to speak! LOL!

Yesterday, we'd been to Queen Elizabeth Park to spend a delightful afternoon there. Nine years in Vancouver, and we'd never been to this awesome place before, the highest point in Vancouver at 510 ft. above sea level. My students used to laugh at me when they found out I'd never been there, so this time I was determined to make amends and make a visit to the place everyone keeps raving about. The park is a horticultural jewel, truly speaking, and its 130 acres of lush greenery with its ornamental trees and shrubs is a sight to behold. The Bloedel Floral Conservatory and its collection of exotic flora, fauna, birds and fish was well worth the entry tickets we paid for. The Quarry Gardens, the Rose Gardens, the pond with its brood of ducks, the picnic greenscapes for families, the sunshine and perfect weather, and the endless rows of cherry trees in full bloom made for a perfect outing. On our way back home, we stopped at Starbucks for some multigrain bagels, banana loaves and coffee, and picked up some Chinese takeout for dinner. All that, and all the time in the world this break to smell the coffee made this a memorable long weekend indeed! :)

Friday, April 6, 2012

Life's Lemons

Sometimes life is really unfair. All the tall talk about good karma and "what goes around comes around" is crap. If one were to do good all the time, then why doesn't it come around to bless them and keep them happy? Time and time again, I have seen very good people being assailed by all kinds of misfortunes in life, while the evil and the wicked just thrive and prosper in life. There's a proverb in my native language that pretty much translates to a king (killing) punishing a wayward subject right away, but God waiting to (kill) punish the bad person. Now how long that wait is, is the tactical question that no one has ever found the answer to. Anyways, this post is not about my anger about those whom I consider to be wicked, rather it's just about the unfairness of life, period.

"When life hands you lemons, make lemonade," the saying goes, but when life hands you one too many lemons, then what do you do? There's only so much one can take, and when there's a surfeit of problems, all coping mechanisms fail. It then becomes increasingly difficult not to succumb to the paralysis of the negative. Hope and activity are two survival issues or coping mechanisms that help us cling on to sanity, and were it not for those key aspects, all of us would be basket cases for sure. Hope for a better tomorrow, and immersing oneself in activity are sure ways of countering the negatives in life, and the better one understands this, the better one's chances of eventual happiness in life!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Mega Million Frenzy!!!

The US has been in the grip of a mega million frenzy since January, when week after week no one seemed to pick out the winning numbers. Consequently, the jackpot increased to a dizzying, record-breaking sum of 640 million dollars or so last Friday, and people were allowed to buy tickets until 15 minutes before the drawing time of 11 PM that day. The ticket buying had reached such a fever pitch that the frenzy had crossed the borders into Canada as well. Watching TV one evening, I was quite surprised to find commercials on Canadian channels advertising the huge windfall and declaring that Canadians could play the lottery too. I could very well imagine the huge line ups at the border this might cause, with Canadians too wanting in on the action and dreaming of this huge windfall!

It was interesting to note that the lottery advertisements came with the constant reminder that the probability of winning those millions was 1 in 176 million - quite an impossibility to ponder about! To be brutally honest, the chances of one's dying on the way to buying a lottery ticket was more than one's chances of winning the lottery itself, but this didn't seem to faze the gazillions of buyers one bit! And to add to the excitement and frenzy of it all, TV news reporters were interviewing random people on the streets to share with the viewers what they would do if they won all that money. Most people wanted to quit their jobs, buy expensive houses and flashy cars, and go away on endless vacations to every part of the world. Some seemed to have belated flashes of altruism and added that they would help out extended family. No one said they would help out friends though, and very few said they would give to charity.

While individuals went out and bought tickets for themselves, offices had lottery pools galore. On a sobering note though, one has to remember that while it is easy for people to buy tickets in a pool and share their lottery dreams with their coworkers, the very same people find it difficult to share the money with their colleagues and lie about having bought the winning ticket individually, once they actually win all that money. Avarice blinds right thinking and deadens the conscience, and ugly feuding and lawsuits follow. Well, the results are out now, and this time round, three winning tickets have been bought in three different states- Kansas, Illinois, and Maryland. It remains to be seen if lawsuits will be filed in the coming days, as buyers gear up for the next mega million lottery up for grabs.

My take on all this hullabaloo is that the media is solely responsible for building up this kind of wishful thinking in people. With the country in recession and the global economy in shambles at large, and unemployment at a staggering rate, one should divert one's attention to rebuilding the economy and working out the unemployment problem. Sitting comfortably on one's sweet bottom and dreaming about that elusive pot of gold is not going to cut it ... so people, get off your lazy behinds and get to work, or at least go in search of some kind of work for a better tomorrow!!! :)