Sunday, November 23, 2008

To Amma

She turned seventy yesterday, an important milestone carved in a garden of rocks, colorful flowers, endless memories, relentless courage and limitless pure love. There's nothing I can elaborate nor to write to relive the past seventy years of her life - a life mixed with struggle and successes. All I can do is wish her seventy more so she can outlive and put me to bed when I reach the last juncture of my journey. Happy seventy Amma! 

Friday, November 21, 2008

Shattered windows of the St. Sebastian Library

It only displayed one long book shelf, about twelve feet in length, eight high, and five stacks of books in three languages. There were two desks with six chairs each around them. Most days it stayed empty with an L shaped reception and a sole librarian, looking bored, reading a Sinhala weekly that contained cartoon serials. The windows of the library rooms were shattered from constant cricket balls that came through an impromptu field, adjoined to the building. During monsoon and rain showers the window side of the library hall would be drenched and unusable however, no one seems bothered, since the bored librarian ran up to cover the bookshelf with rubber sheets.

If you climb the stairs that's to the outer-side of the library building, you'd come across a hall where youth played carrom and table tennis; one of them went to become a world champion, in carrom that is. And there were grown men who'd be immersed in news papers scattered across many small tables. Pass these people and through another glass-broken door, thanks to impromptu cricket, move into the small balcony filled with pigeon droppings, there, you could view the St. Sebastian church and it's front yard.

And, this is where lots my childhood was spent, in the dusty garden of God, though playing, not praying. The church, built during mid twentieth century had a tall, grand architecture, large front yard in thick red sand and sparkles of grass, adjoined by an elementary school and a convent for nuns. The perimeter wall on its left was the wall of a court prison where suspects were remanded to be brought in next day. Occasionally we've seen prisoners jumping off the ten feet tall wall into the church yard, unable to run off in their white baggy pants and only to be caught by Sub Inspector Jayawickrame who'd swoosh by in his Mahindra Jeep or an Enfield motorcycle.

We grew up in a neighborhood called Hultsdrop that later changed its name to Aluthkade (New Shop). A pre-dominantly Muslim neighborhood, surrounded my mosques that would call for prayers five times a day, some Hindus and Christians also lived amicably, in row houses and tiled roofs, emitting fragrance of multi-religious dishes. While our Muslim brothers went to under-staffed neighborhood schools, non-Muslims were bussed or van-ned to branded schools situated in affluent areas of Colombo.

In the afternoons, when religion, names of children, schools, clothing and culture became non-issue, we would gather inside the St. Sebastian's church's front yard to play cricket. Teams would be formed with youth of all ages, anywhere from six to eighteen, batting sides would be selected with a coin toss and we'll play the sport with home made bats and thick rubber balls. Evenly cut broom sticks will become the wickets. When there weren't enough children to form two teams, each person will get chance to bat base on a lottery method. Usually the unlucky last batter would go home crying because by the time he got his turn, it either be too dark to play or Sister Philomena would have unleashed the convent's little pomenerian to chase after the players.

I'm yet to know why Sister Philomena, a woman of faith, chose to unleash a little poodle on us however, on these dog-chasing occasions we'll go outside the church's yard and play in front of the library building, causing the windows to break that you read about earlier. I don't think any of the kids that I played with have ever stepped into the library, except may be to collect a wayward ball. The books of the library, neatly stacked on the single shelf, came on the Public Library System's truck that did its rounds fortnightly. Most times the driver of the truck would have nothing to exchange because the books seldom moved or circulated. It is not to say people weren't educated or interested in books. At that point of time, Sri Lanka maintained a 90% plus literacy rate, one of the highest in Asia, thanks for mandatory education act and British inherited methods.

Fortunately, the semi-haunted library, found me a refuge to collect these words, to run my imagination and to record my thoughts. The library became the Mecca for my thirst. The books I demanded became readily available, without waiting lists, undrenched, with a simple click of a date stamp off the hands of bored librarian who continued to read Sinhala cartoon serials. As a bonus, the electrical brown-outs implemented by the government to save energy didn't impact the library system. It always had electricity, until the closing time, to throw me out to the dark streets across the St. Sebastian church.

Over time, things changed. The cricket team and the carom youth and the news papers readers grew old. Sister Philomena became Mother Philomena and the poodle passed away peacefully at the feet of St. Sebastian. Another great library with historical collections was burned to ashes due to the civil war. Most of my Muslim friends didn't take up higher education and went into business as store owners, gem merchants and eventual millionaires. At least one of them got killed by a local mafia hit-man. Many left the country to build up their skills and talents offshore - including captaining the Canadian cricket team, build up families, children, and the Diaspora as we call it now.

The last time I returned to Aluthkade, four years ago, I walked pass the St. Sebastian library with shattered windows. The books have dissapeared. There was no bored librarian or the rubber sheet covered shelf. The building had been turned into a wedding hall.

I also noticed a padlock at the gates of St. Sebastian, I presume to keep young cricketers away and to give solace to escaping prisoners, inside the dusty garden of God.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Servants of nature and unseen bosses

After few days of unlimited flow, like a large keg of Efes - a Turkish beer that is in abundance in Kazakhstan, I'm hitting a slow moving writer's block. There's a half-full bottle of water on my desk staring at my half-emptiness. Surrounded by a TV, bed, couch and a dreary view through the windows of my hotel, the atmosphere refuses to bring color that is required to put letters on paper, or in this case, the keyboard.

People think travel is glamor and it brings curiosity like a child, adventure like a Dundee, freshness like a pretty girl and wisdom like an old man. All of them may be true, but if you travel for living, and live in a suitcase, the curiosity goes to sleep like an overplayed child, brushing teeth becomes an adventure, freshness is what I put on my lip to ward of the cold breeze off the streets of Atyrau, wisdom is silence that we keep at dinner tables, when subjects run out, like the BBC on a very dull day.

Mind is a funny thing, you may have noticed. It prepares itself before departing on a long trip. It ceases to miss your loved ones during the plane rides, because there's TV, rest or due to an annoying co-passenger. Then, as if it got pinched on the funny bone, it begins to miss the loved ones as soon as you checked into the hotel, by looking at the dreary view, worn couch, overslept bed and the TV that shows repeats of hard-talk. Then days pass by where you continue to miss and make attempts to reach-out and then all of a sudden that desire too cease to exist. You take up alternate methods to amuse yourself or entertain, Efes inclusive. You divide your mind between what happens at present with what could happen when you go back home, yearnings of physical kind inclusive. These divisions don't collide. They'll live in individual silos to ensure that your prestine-ness is kept for that return home, to greet your wife, husband, daughter, son, girl-friend, neighbor, dog and restart your regular life, for couple of weeks however, knowing that the bags have to be packed again.

This kind of mind-set builds only in a hard core travel man or woman. People I see at the airports with heavy hearts and tears seems very alien. They are from a different world and should depart from a different terminal, the one built specially with lots of Kleenex boxes. For us, please give us Wi-fi, Starbucks tall-cap and a place to sit and read a book. The delayed departure, missed connections, unruly babies don't really bother seasoned travelers. It's part of life of traveling, like dealing with traffic on a January winter on highway 401 (Toronto, that is). They become servants of nature with an unseen boss.

Talk about servants and bosses, I recently read two books - during plane rides, of course. One is "White Tigers" by debutant novelist Aravind Adiga, a Man-Booker Prize short listed candidate. The other is "Six Suspects" by Vikas Swarup, author of Q&A which has been translated into thirty five languages and made into a bolly-hollywood movie "Slum dog Millionaire".

Co-incidentally, both books addresses the servant class of India. The mentality, bound-ness, unquestionable loyalty, unable to break free and as such resulting cunning-ness and treason. Although both books may have been written at different times by authors who live in different part of India, or the World, their approach is identical and very authentic. If read back-to-back you'd think you're reading a book of the same author; yet the plots are different. While the "White Tiger" completely immerse in the servants' quarters, Six Suspects goes in-and-out to find the true killer amongst six unconnected people.

When I was growing up, I recall having two little girls as servants in our house however, both at various times. The girls, aged anywhere between ten and thirteen, were from the upcountry of Sri Lanka whose parents worked in the tea or rubber plantations. My parents weren't bossy type so these little girls were well taken care of and performed only menial things, like sweeping the floor, running to the nearby shop to buy sugar, milk, etc. I don't ever recall them cooking or serve us as normal servants are expected to do those days.

I strongly believe employing under-age children as wrong and punishable though in impoverished countries these are accepted practice because it brings food to their families whom otherwise would half-starve. The people who work in the plantations are the under-class of Sri Lanka. They are under-paid, thrown in poorly built shelters and exploited by companies and politicians. Yet, they work hard to generate most of Sri Lanka's GDP.

So, next time when you drink Lipton's tea with lemon and double sugar, just think for a second those hands that plucked the leaves from a cold plant on a cold morning at high-hills, shoeless. Next time when you wear a Bata shoe with rubber under sole, just think about a man who scrapes hundred rubber trees for mere two dollars a day. And also think about their children who should have been at school but potentially be serving tea to a parent-unseen boss. Then, after those few seconds, think about your children.

Aren't they fortunate?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Rahm at the helm: would "reaching-out" become one-sided?

When I was young, my father used to take me to our neighborhood Hindu temple for Friday evening poojas and bhajans. During these occasions I also have been sourced, unknowingly, to be a lead of these bhajans. Although the position gave me opportunity to score points with adolescent crushes, things changed over the years and fortunately my voice became horsy around thirteen, that the temple trustees got fed up and went to find a female lead singer.

Hindu temples, as many of you know, have an abundance of Gods, who's been tasked to, by us, to perform various duties at various stages of our lives. Their jobs are in essence to produce, bless, guard, educate, shower us with wealth and occasionally destroy the evils within and around us. Hinduism is also an 'affirmative action compliant' and 'equal opportunity' religion, that we have men and women Gods and even cross-sexed (Arthanareeswarar), physically challenged 'little people' (Bhairavar) and also with animal faces or bodily features.

The catch is, by design of the temples and also based on mythology, that to get to the altar of the God, a dimly lighted room where the main statue is affixed, you have to have several qualifications, not all at once, but few at least. The default settings or the privilege to enter an altar, is that you have to be born into the Brahmin caste however, not necessarily as a priest. The Brahmins can enter the temple's altar provided they are clean and pure based on certain 'Vedic' conditions. While the Hindu Gods are equal-opportunity beneficiaries, the women of Brahmins aren't allowed to enter the altar and that 'that' subject will be discussed on another day since today's subject is not about women's rights.

If you're not a Brahmin, then you have to seek virtual permission from the 'Vahanam' - an animal versioned guard that either sits in front of the God, beside or under him. Seeking of virtual permissions are similar to the long prayers and bhajans that I have been, involuntarily, asked to lead. We sing hymns with our hearts-out so that these 'Vahanams' - whom are considered guardians of God's activities - will hear us and render schedule to meet the almighty in good terms so we can negotiate for blessings, benefits and eternal, warless life. All virtually of course!

In other words, this 'Vahanam' can be compared to a chief-of-staff, who guards, grants or keep unwanted people at bay from interfering with the almighty's grand objectives.

But, what if the 'Vahanam' him/her or itself has it's own opinions and little biased background that even if the God wants to 'change the world' that he can't implement his 'yes we can' attitude as straight as once he promised?

Dear readers, welcome to the new White House, where the next president, who generally considered to have God's powers (hint: the "football"), of at least for next four years, going to reside and guarded by a 'Vahanam' who could potentially limit the 'reaching out' policies propagated during the campaign.

Mr. Rahm Emmanuel, congressman of the Illinois' 5th congressional district, and the chief-of-staff of the new white house, is a known commodity to have biased and tempered attitude. A trained ballet dancer, Rahm was born to Israeli parents - his father served in the secret militant group Irgun during Israel/ Palestine partition - and grew up with strong Jewish cultural and political views and also served in the Israeli army as a volunteer techie. He was a key advisor to the president during the Clinton era and had been known to say "don't fxxk it up" to then British prime minister Tony Blair, during the Monika Lewinsky crisis, before a speech to the press at the White house.

Although Rahm is a Chicago pal of the Obamas, he wasn't necessarily part of Obama's policy-maker team during the presidential campaign. And there's no proof that Rahm had or would act against Obama's promised policies as his C.O.S.

So what's the issue?

We all know the U.S.A. is extremely pro-Israeli, for the purposes of it's own interests and to maintain power in the Middle-eastern region. There's nothing wrong with guarding a nation's interest, in any which way one can. Therefore, the Unites States' such policy is not going to change in the foreseeable future. However, Mr. Obama, during the campaign, promised(?) that he would reach-out to Iran, an ardent enemy of Israel, the axis of evils and the likes to sit down, talk and mend differences to bring peace to the world that presently dislikes America as an arrogant, unfriendly power. Mr. Obama's statements also putting welcoming thoughts in many freedom fighting movements (ex: LTTE) that are presently considered terrorists due to situational policies of the world. Please mind that even Nelson Mandela and PLO leader late Yasser Arafat were declared terrorist at one point of history then were garlanded happily at the White House as nation builders.

I'm not sure appointing a pro-Israeli 'Vahanam' at the gates of the Oval offices could achieve positives in potential dialogue with unfriendly countries or entities. The C.O.S. could technically block or dissuade any attempts of traffic either way and influence his own opinion on issues, just as we know, based on historical 'alpha male' behavior of Mr. Emmanuel. Although this is highly speculative and my own opinion, he could become the main hindrance of this 'reaching out' policy.

Would you say; time will tell? It may, but if I'm Mr. Obama, I wouldn't take such a risk that could railroad my promises. Or, may be he has knowingly taken this decision so that to keep people at bay and continue past eight years' unilateral policies..?!

On a historical note, the biggest Bull-shaped 'vahanam' ever built, can be found at the Thanjavur Brihatheeswarar Temple in Tamil Nadu, India. A U.N. heritage site, the temple was built by King Raja Raja Cholan of the Chola regime, some 2000 plus years ago.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Philippine Normal University

For those who never been to Philippines, the land of eighty plus million people, of which a good ten percent works overseas and remit money on a regular basis that keeps the governments cash flow at surplus, and for those who have been or had traveled to Manila but chose to stay close to more touristic or business spots such as Greenbelt, Makati, Edsa and Forbes areas, strolling the high-end malls, smoking cigars at the Havana, sipping semi-authentic Mojitos and talking to locals as if they’ve seen and enjoyed all of Philippines; would not have known the Philippine Normal University, situated amongst the historic Walls of Intramuros, a vibrant, academically stimulant neighborhood, energized by young Filipinos who wants to build the next wave of skill supply overseas, who’s on the verge of re-taking the great Indian outsourcing market and threatening China with it’s power of English as the first language; if you’d consider Tagalog as just a living dialogue.

Although the name Philippine Normal University raises genuine concerns about the normalcy of the person who named this university, it certainly is not abnormal by the shape and form of it’s historic buildings, surroundings and the presence of companionship around it: the Letran, a college started in 1620, the Institutes of Technology that produces best engineers of the country, The Lyceum that showcases the hotel industry’s top notch customer oriented personnel and much more.

The pedi (short for paddle) cabs, a tricycle with an attached sidecar that could sit three people at twenty pesos each and bruised ribs, ferries students from the LRT to this abundance of academia, across the wide, unruly road of Roxas Boulevard, splashing muddy water from a morning’s rain. The SM Manila, a sprawling shopping center attracts everyone for lunch, little shopping and movie theatres that charge one fee for a whole day’s sitting, if you’d suffer repeats of a bad movie, in plastic covered red seats and lovers in embracing positions not wanting the lights to come on.

Even a stormy rainy evening bring sudden entrepreneurial ability to the crowded, flood filled path. Within the throng of people looking for cover emerge a hoard of little street children, carrying over sized umbrellas to help out the stranded, assist to hail a taxicab or to become an impromptu porter. The sudden storms and unannounced typhoons are a lifestyle here. There are no unhappy faces against the splash of Mother Nature. They smoke; chat, text and wait out the nature that they know will pass in an hour and to visit unannounced another day.

That is when I met Grace and Tom (names are changed to protect the innocence or in their word, ‘the guilt’) at a coffee shop where I seeded asylum, with an office colleague, to ward off the rains. The shop was packed with steamy lattes and cappuccinos, with opened laptops, books and an even a bible studier sipping vente mocha frap, no whip cream added. Tom took the effort to ask if they could share the table with me. I looked up and met Grace’s eyes, a shy smile running across a pretty half opened mouth, water dripping from her dark hair. Tom’s red shirt was all wet that he crossed his arms to warm up, I presumed.

“We are lovers”, they declared, after few minutes of keeping silence, focusing on coffees followed by semi-introductions, filmy handshakes and talks about weather. I couldn't think otherwise, so I nodded in agreement. Then it hit me: They both are female. Tom’s crossed arms didn’t actually used up to warm up the body. It in fact blocked her bodily features; nothing to write elaborately about because ‘he’ didn’t look like a ‘she’.

By now, Grace is looking down and frowning at Tom for declaring their secret to an unknown.

Now on a side note, please mind that I don’t have such charming personality for strangers to come and drop their sorrow and sometime happiness on me. But it has happened in the past, during my previous job, when I was the only man in a department of several mature women. So, I wasn’t entirely surprised at this rainy day confession.

Philippines is a very Catholic and conservative country where abortion and divorce is illegal except for in life threatening situations. Abusive relationships are annulled in court however, not declared ‘unmarried’ in the church. Even living-together situations are frowned at although it is non-factual common knowledge that it happens, again for the same reason and restrictions placed on legal marriages.

So, two women to become tangled in a romantic relationship can’t be publicly announced nor celebrated lavishly. As we all know by now, even the ultra liberal Californian population recently voted against gay marriages. The Canadians are still up for it however, the world normally don’t bother with social attitudes of ‘people up north’.

Grace and Tom appeared very friendly, normal couple with full blossomed love. I even noticed they were holding hands discreetly under the table. While Tom talked about discrimination against their relationship within their families and circle of friends, Grace avoided eye contact and probably felt embarrassed in front of the whole of ‘straight’ world.

Tom runs a cafeteria in a university - not the ‘Normal’ one that is the subject of this blog – which Grace attends and that’s how they met. To work against world’s - or the Filipino kind, according to them - perspective of their relationship, they have decided to live together over the past two years. While this decision also is very discreet, without the knowledge of their families, it according to them works well however, without a definite knowledge of the future.

And, that’s where my Canadian citizenry came into place. Having gathered that I am an adopted Canadian (how it happened is another story, another day) they were very curious about Canadian laws on gay marriage and whether the country would legally allows immigration of an unmarried gay couple. While I am neither lawyer nor a legal consultant to shed information on this subject, it did bring ethical questions about Canada’s immigration policies.

Presently Canada only allows married, straight couple to apply for residency as skilled or independent immigrants. There’s no clause that I know of for exceptions, unless the couple shows that they are persecuted for their beliefs in their own country, which we all know it’s tough to prove when you really can’t declare yourselves openly as gays, even to invite persecution.

So, Grace and Tom are in a dilemma.

For the record: I do not personally endorse nor against homo-sexism. It’s beyond my imagination to be one; no pun intended.

On another of my visit to this friendly city of Manila, I was privileged to be invited to Grace and Tom’s residence for dinner. They served lovely Puchero - a traditional meal-in-a-bowl soup that contains vegetable, sea food or meat and sometime rice or noodles -, grilled Lapu Lapu and an obvious supply of San-Miguel light. It was delightful company of two women of conflict, against the nature, against the normal sexuality, against the odds of building an acceptable family.

The abnormality in life is a judged opinion. Normalcy lives within and by your beliefs.

I made some factual errors in the initial post and now corrected. Thanks to my pal and Manila native Bles to observe & notify. Here's an interesting article on History of Manila and the author apparently runs alternative tours of the city:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Walk on the wild side

The week of November 10 has been declared Road Safety week at my client's sites across the world. My client is one of the largest public companies in the world (hint: oil & gas) and have operations in over 180 countries. As one the concerned and caring organizations (believe me, it's true), they enforce and empower safety awareness amongst employees and hundreds of thousands of contractors whom are socially, culturally and linguistically as diverse as a ride on an A train on the New York subway.

I have been fortunate to travel with or to my client's locations in over twenty countries over the past many years and have been subject to diverse road and pedestrian habits at the cities visited. Some of these experiences are fascinating and some would just make you cringe:

Perth, Australia: One of the best I would say. Neat side walks. Brail surface at intersections for blind people and also for people getting out of the pubs at late night. And, a novice concept of diagonal crossing at major intersections. This is the first I've seen where all traffic stop in all directions in order to give pedestrians to cross the road anyway they want. Now I hear that this method has been adopted in few other cities as well, including Toronto at the Dundas Square.

Jakarta, Indonesia: The nightmarish traffic and pollution in this city would test your patience to the extreme that you'll be happy negotiating with a three year old toddler at the Wal-Mart toy section. However, for pedestrians, the Jakartans have implemented an "invisible force field" in which, if you ever wants to cross the road, just put your wavy hand in front of an incoming vehicle - and hundreds of motor cycles that surrounds that vehicle - and just walk across. Most likely they'll come to a stop and will give you the right of way. Now, please note, this hasn't been scientifically proven or sanctioned by the Jakarta traffic authority but I've seen hundreds of time that it worked. And, we also took the precaution of putting Rama - the biggest guy of our team, on the left or right depends on which way you crossing - to protect our bones and loved ones back home, just in case!

Bangkok, Thailand: Good that they have lots of over pass bridges built for pedestrians. Although it helps to reduce the driver - pedestrian conflict, the format of these bridges aren't entirely user friendly. If you're, like me, not in very good shape, climbing these bridges can be a breath taking task (mini-aspirin helps at night). Beside, they aren't disable-friendly and very few over passes have elevators or escalators to support the physically challenged population.

Atyrau, Kazakhstan: Well built sidewalks - designed from the Soviet era, I presume, when most of the population didn't own vehicles - are found in most places within the city. Once you emerge into residential areas, the roads are dusty or muddy and there won't be any sidewalk for pedestrians and you are at the mercy of passing vehicles however, the traffic isn't bad to enough to worry. The only worrying observations is that at intersections, a 'walk' signal doesn't always mean that you can close your eyes and cross the road. The right turning vehicles or drivers who are intentionally color blind are to be cautioned of. I've had near 'wipe-out' scenarios at least three times so far. Now, the winter is yet to blossom. So more care is needed for we, the poor pedestrians.

India, Sri Lanka, Angola and many other countries: You are either at the mercy of the driver or you better be good at slalom maneuvers. No rules are followed by all parties however, somehow you'll make it to the work place or home. It's called 'common sense' and not relying on other person or drivers to obey any rules. Just like that!

Toronto, Canada: We are the best. $100 spot fine if you're caught not yielding to a pedestrian. If you hit a pedestrian by any chance, either on a crosswalk or otherwise, better be prepared to forgo your life savings and sign-up for slavery.

Walking on the wild side can be adventurous however, make sure you and your loved ones are safe!

Man on the subway

I don't exactly remember the date, time or the subway station we met. But I neatly remember the event, the impromptu nature of it and how it would become a life changer for both of us.

It was RRSP season at the Canadian banks and a time when they'd normally hire temps to process over flow work. As a recent Canadian immigrant, during the late eighties, when foreign qualifications were ignored and foreign sounding names were snored at, I was fortunate to find a temporary job at one of these banks. The open ended job lasted few months, at $7.00/ hr, enough to share the rent with few others, pay for donuts & coffee, subway tickets and occasional beer and phone calls back home to say that I live quite comfortably in Toronto.

It was a cold morning, mid to late November I think and the setting was a subway station platform. As I waited for arrival of the next train, a man approached and stood next to me. He was short haired, looked very young, thin and tall. His aim of life or on that particular day looked as if to get into the subway car to block the brisk cold draught and get warm. There was no smile or introductory nod of any kind. However, without thinking, I reached out and asked whether he is a Tamil. And the answer was 'yes' and that's how our friendship started, 22 years and still counting.

We had lots of common interests, nothing of life ruining kind that normal youngsters take a habit of these days. He also became part of a group of five regular hang-around friends and families. Our bond lasted through good and bad times and he was there to lift and cheer me up when I was wounded or needed a shoulder. I'm not sure I did the same for him but his gracefulness wouldn't claim otherwise. The times moved on. He went on to university, jobs, marriage and kids and I also did similar upwardly mobile steps of life. The usual touch and closeness we had drifted away to other important priorities in life.

However, the one thing that lasted till today, after four presidents of the U.S., many prime ministers of Canada - one that lasted just a month -, two Gulf wars, unfounded WMDs, scores of lives and deaths in unwanted civil, racial and ethnic tensions, bull & bear markets, crashes, lost pensions and such, was that we never forgot to wish each other on our birthdays, no matter where we were and what has been going through in our lives. There was always an email that waited in my inbox on my birthday. Without expectations, without any show-biz kind of courteousness. It was always there; few simple words to say that I still think of you.

And, my friend, I do too. The blog I used to write had gone missing in the virtual clouds, so I'm starting this new blurb; The Daily Sprinkle. And, the first dedication is to you.

Today is November 13th. Happy Birthday!