1. Have an Interesting Snippet to Share : Click Here
    Dismiss Notice
  2. Would you like to join the IL team? See open jobs!
    Dismiss Notice
  3. What can you teach someone online? Tell us here!
    Dismiss Notice
  4. If someone taught you via skype, what would you want to learn? Tell us here!
    Dismiss Notice

81 Year Old Groom, A Window Cleaner And.... Varalotti In the US 9

Discussion in 'Saturdays with Varalotti' started by varalotti, Oct 6, 2007.

  1. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

    Messages:
    9,047
    Likes Received:
    1,236
    Trophy Points:
    340
    Gender:
    Male
    This post is my tribute to three amazing Americans whom I met, read about and came to know, this Thursday.

    I had been to a brotherhood meeting this Thursday in Downtown Seattle. All of us were formally dressed in full black suits. The meeting had a peculiar arrangement. It started with a light dinner at <st1:time minute="30" hour="18">6:30 PM</st1:time>.

    The actual meeting started at <st1:time minute="30" hour="19">7:30</st1:time>. When it was over around a <st1:time minute="45" hour="8">quarter to nine</st1:time>, we moved over to an adjoining room for a rich dessert of cakes and ice-creams. (Oh, my God! I got to watch my weight! It is going up faster than the Indian stock index)

    I took a spoonful of icecream and as my hand was nearing my mouth, my mind restlessly expecting the heavanly moment of the ice-cream hitting my taste buds, I heard a voice from behind. “Hey, Sridddhaa…” (well, that was the best pronunciation I had for my name from Americans. You cant even begin to imagine the result of other attempts. Poor me!)

    A gentleman probably in his late sixties wanted to chit-chat with me. After a minute or two of idle talk, he became serious and asked me in the tone of a journalist, “How come you have so many Gods in <st1:country-region><st1:place>India</st1:place></st1:country-region>?”

    I had vowed not to discuss religion within the Masonic community.But he persisted. I showed him the ice cream and asked him about the tastes and flavours available. He thought I was trying to change the subject. But I wasn’t. “Oh we have thousands, here in <st1:country-region><st1:place>America</st1:place></st1:country-region>.”

    “But with all the thousands, don’t we know that the basic cream is the same? While some love the strawberry one, others love the vanilla and people like me go for the chocolate, some have it with nuts, some with sauce, some on a bar, some on a cone, many on cups, a few on plates…”

    “Forget the ice-cream, this many Gods..”

    “That’s where I am coming to. In all these thousand ways of eating ice-cream, the basic cream is the same. People want it in different forms and flavours. And so is the case with our Gods. The basic truth is the same. But our religion delivers Him in many forms.”

    From the kind of look I got from him I was not sure whether he understood what I said or hated my metaphor. Now it was his turn to switch the topic. The lesson I learnt from him came only after that.
    He told me that he was a blue collar worker – you know the one who gets his hands dirty at his job. He was actually a window-cleaner. A specialist in cleaning windows of tall buildings. He was 72 years old but looked pretty strong.

    I asked him with a little hesitation whether he found it difficult to carry on with his job at this age.
    “Oh no.” He almost shouted. “I still have the two assets that are prized in my professoion. Dexterity in my hands and balance in my legs. For if I lose the former I will be doing a sloppy job. And if I lose the latter I will fall down and die.”

    I asked him when he had planned to retire. (You see I work for a retirement plan company here)
    “When I die.” He said without blinking.

    Only in a place like the <st1:country-region><st1:place>US</st1:place></st1:country-region> a window cleaner can declare his profession with dignity and carry himself with pride. Only in the <st1:country-region><st1:place>US</st1:place></st1:country-region> can a person like him wear a full-suit and mingle with lawyers, doctors and accountants. Oh, the pride he had for his job! I had no words. I took a step backward and gave a salute to him.

    The next American to amaze me was a 77 year old woman. There was a letter in an Agony Aunt column in Seattle Times. A 70 year old woman had lamented that she could not find a man to marry! I first thought of posting her query. But then one of the readers, a 77 year old woman had responded to her question like this.

    ”On <st1:date year="2006" day="31" month="12">December 31, 2006</st1:date> I met my new husband one day after his 81<sup>st</sup> birthday. He rides motorcycles, flied his own ultralight airplane and drove 1200 miles round trip twice a month to see me. He is not rich but is financially secure and loves my six kids as his own. He is healthy, a great lover and my best friend. We were married in August. I met him on the Internet.”

    The 77 year old looking for a partner on the Net. The 81 year old man driving 1200 miles twice a month to see his 77 year old lover. And the lady calling him “a great lover and my best friend.”

    ILites, I do not think you need Varalotti to explain the lessons we can learn from these people.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2007
    Rajijb likes this.
    Loading...

  2. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

    Messages:
    9,047
    Likes Received:
    1,236
    Trophy Points:
    340
    Gender:
    Male
    But the finest lesson of the day came during the lunch interval. We had gone into a eat-out for a simple lunch of bean burritos and potato wedges.

    The owner of the place was in the counter. We were ordering our lunch and paying for it. She asked my friend, “This man looks new to me. Is he working for you?” My host said that I am his friend from <st1:country-region><st1:place>India</st1:place></st1:country-region>.

    The lady immediately folded her hands in my directions and said, “Namasthe.” I reciprocated her gesture.

    Then she said if I had been of her religion then she would have said, “assalamu alaikkum.” I said with a smile “If that’s the case, I would have told “Alaikkum Assalam.”

    “Oh, thank you very much.” She said. She was a Muslim woman from <st1:country-region><st1:place>India</st1:place></st1:country-region>. Had been in the US for many, many years.

    As we were talking about so many things she suddenly asked us, “Will you guys pray for me?”
    “Why, what happened?” I almost shouted.

    She said in a matter of fact tone, “You see, I am diagnosed with breast cancer. I am starting chemo therapy tomorrow.”

    I was stuck for words. I had a look at the lovely black hair that was adding to her charm. She was going to lose them all. She was going to go through pain. Enormous, unbearable pain. And the ever present agony, whether she will come out of it or not. Who knows she might lose her breasts even.

    She should have discerned the look of sadness on our faces.

    “Oh, no. I am going to face it. I am going to fight it. What I want is only your prayer. I am going to come back to my shop after a few months and start working even harder.”

    After that day she was going to be absent from work for two months. She had insisted to come to work that day before going to the hospital for treatment.

    We prayed for her. We wished her a speedy recovery. She was smiling. When the bill came we found that
    she had not charged for the potato wedges. My host pointed out the mistake. She said, “Oh, it was not a mistake. I gave it to you. It’s on the house. Enjoy your food.” She had started shouting at her workmen and disappeared in to the kitchen.

    I saluted the indomitable spirit in her which an ordinary breast cancer could not destroy.

    I will be carrying this memory, and this lesson to my grave and far beyond.


     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2007
    Rajijb likes this.
  3. Mythraeyi

    Mythraeyi Silver IL'ite

    Messages:
    800
    Likes Received:
    47
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Female
    Hi,

    I totally agree, we have a lot to learn from senior citizens in the US. They keep themselves active and agile and don't let their age limit them from doing anything. Of course some of them are forced to put off retirement due to financial issues or requiring health insurance. When my parents visited here they too were impressed with the attitude of the seniors here - unlike in India where most people think life is over post retirement!!

    Mythraeyi
     
  4. Vandhana

    Vandhana Silver IL'ite

    Messages:
    1,483
    Likes Received:
    38
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Female
    Dear Sridhar,

    Firstly I loved your metaphor for God and Icecream. Yes looks like you are clean bowled over by the " aam jan" here in the US. I am not at all surprised by the atitudes of all 3. I know atleast a few senior citizens who still go to work and love their jobs. Although now, it is more of a hobby for them rather than must work to earn scenario. A genteleman i know is into the construction business, and till today he is actively remodelling , and yes he drives his own sportscar!!
    All the seniors( or rather i should say young at heart!) are so active , and i do keep thinking that when i go to that age, i want to be as active, and young as them.
    Willpower and determintation has known to cure cancer . I have read lots breast cancer and other cancer survivors recount their experience and shear willpower to live is what turned the tables on the cancer!!. Am sure that this lady will come out and live a long and healthy life. I will add her to me prayers for sure.

    Have a great weekend.
    Vandhana
     
  5. sunkan

    sunkan Gold IL'ite

    Messages:
    4,124
    Likes Received:
    234
    Trophy Points:
    153
    Gender:
    Female
    dear sridhar,
    all your references were great and here in India also many are still searching for a partner, at an age of 60 and 80 so it is nothing new, the best escape is not to be alone when our nest is empty, next is the metaphor of god and ice cream got reminded of the scene from thiruvarutchelvar where padmini brings a trayfull of sweet to show the king that though the colors are different the sweet is ever present in same state every where to make him realize about the queens beauty, and show him what woman actually are...nice references, and yes there are many again in india who fight not only cancer but many human induced diseases which cannot be cured through chemo therapy....sunkan
     
  6. sudhavnarasimhan

    sudhavnarasimhan Silver IL'ite

    Messages:
    1,310
    Likes Received:
    18
    Trophy Points:
    70
    Gender:
    Female
    Dear Sridhar,
    I liked the reference to icecreams and Gods....that was a good one! I am sure the guy understood it,but will not know how no answer , since these people are so cut off from spirituality!
    True that the dignity of labour is something we need to learn from them and accept.....we in India give importance to not the labour, but dignity comes in the way of even doing a simple, normal chore of keeping one's own home or kitchen clean, when the maid servant is away for even a day!( sorry thinking about the cleaing i have to do today, so got carried away!he he)

    But i too have been telling my mom that she needs to start learning to be on her own, and more with her age group people, learning to get on with life than depending or expecting others to change their lives for her.....if she accepts this , she will definetely feel the freedom of living Life even at her age! But being in india, and acing our society day and day out, i am doubting it!

    Good work.....:clap
     
  7. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

    Messages:
    9,047
    Likes Received:
    1,236
    Trophy Points:
    340
    Gender:
    Male
    Hi,
    Their fierce independence and their great love for life is something that we have to learn. Our senior citizens are conditioned to be dependent on their children/spouses or others. Whereas their US counterparts want to be on their own, whatever may be their condition.
    This applies with greater force to handicapped persons. I saw a person in his 50s in his wheelchair. He had come to the Museum of Flights in Seattle. He had come all alone. When it was time to go, he drove his motorized wheelchair to his car. Parked it by the side of the door. Opened the car's door by his remote control. Then pressed a button and a metal board slided from the car. Then he skilfully drove his wheelchair over that board into the driver seat. In five minutes he was set in his seat with his seat-belt. With a confident smile he drove his car gracefully out of the park to merge with the busy city traffic outside.

    In India people think that once you are over 60, you start living not for yourself but for your children. This attitude distorts the life and complicates the lives of their children too.

    Thanks Maithreyi for your post.
    regards,
    sridhar
     
  8. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

    Messages:
    9,047
    Likes Received:
    1,236
    Trophy Points:
    340
    Gender:
    Male
    Dear Vandhana,

    Thanks. Being a writer I am always bowled by the aam jan and ordinary places like homes and schools, than grand palaces, museums and all. The latter is dead and the former are the places where real life is happening.

    The great difference between India and the US as far as old people are concerned is this. In India it is considered a taboo if a senior citizen wants anything for himself. He is supposed to always think of the family's welfare and the interests of his grandchildren. So if he loves to do anything he has to do it discreetly. There is no hypocrisy here in the US. A 75 year old man goes to a night club. (I am told he gets a far better treatment there than his younger fellow-visitors)

    Thanks for including the lady in your prayers. She should be in her early fifties. She was beautiful in her own way with jet black hair and a beautiful face. I shudder to think what will chemo do to her beauty. But the confidence, the self-esteem she carries with her is amazing. We have a lot to learn from that.

    You too have a great week-end.
    regards,
     
  9. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

    Messages:
    9,047
    Likes Received:
    1,236
    Trophy Points:
    340
    Gender:
    Male
    Dear Sundari,
    Yes, it is true, that in India too there are similar cases. But in India a 60 year old in search of a husband is ridiculed even by her own children, to put it mildly. She is insulted, laughed at and dissuaded from doing so.
    Here the children help their old parent to find a partner for themselves. And the society respects their personal wishes. That's the difference.
    In thiruvarutchelvar the sweet metaphor is used to say that the same substance is there in every woman. What is there is the queen is also in the dancer, nothing more, less or different. The cream metaphor is for God's multivarious forms and his singular presence, as our scriptures declare, "Ekam sath; vipra bahudha vadanthi"
    The truth is one. It is spoken in different ways by the wise.

    Sundari, I loved the punchline in your post that there are many human-induced diseases, against which chemotherapy is no cure. You are right. They are the worst kind of disease and if we are not strong or fully aware, such diseases could bring us down.

    Thanks for the good post,
    regards,
    sridhar
     
  10. varalotti

    varalotti IL Hall of Fame

    Messages:
    9,047
    Likes Received:
    1,236
    Trophy Points:
    340
    Gender:
    Male
    Dear Sudha,
    Thanks, sudha. But I could not better the explanation given by some one from your own profession, dancing. I mean Dr.Padma Subramanian. When an American asked him about so many Gods in India, she replied elegantly.
    "You say, "There is only One God." But gentleman, we have gone much farther than that. The essence of our scriptures is "There is only God." "
    The very essence of Advaita spoken in such simple terms.

    The dignity of labour here comes from the high price it commands. A 10 year old mowing somebody's lawn gets paid at some $5 per hour. So he respects his work and is inclined to give his best.

    It would take a while for your mom to reconcile to the present situation and start living. The problem there in India is that it is considered a taboo to live for oneself. The person has to always think of others' welfare and others needs. If she breaks it and thinks what she needs to make her happy, she will be out of woods soon. The best way is to mingle with women of her age and preferably doing some activities together with them. That can put her on the path of recovery soon. Wishing her all the best,
    regards,
     

Share This Page