Friday, 9 August 2013

Two Sides

Over the last ten years I have seen a change in me; for good may be. Sitting around the table at our local Sikh Gurduwara Sahib, Dal Phaji said to me 'you have got a very relaxed and easy going personality, don't ever loose that'. Dal Phaji, whose real name is Dalvinder Singh is from London and have just started to commit himself to Sikhi. We were sitting there feeling a sense of relief as the Shaheedi Smaagam arranged by Jatha Shaheedan with the help of Sangat was a success.

Anyway coming back on to the conversation between me and Dal Phaji. I wasn't surprised at the compliment Phaji paid. In fact I am quite used to people asking me the secret behind a stress-free life. This is how I come across to people I believe. In the past, I took these compliments and felt pompous. However, recently I have been engaging people and explaining to them that I too stress about things; in fact I also feel insecure about so many things. I personally belive that we have two sides to ourselves, and I feel it is how we humans are (or at least majority of us). 

We have two faces, one we put on for a show, the other which depicts our true self is very much hidden. So, I explained to Dal Phaji, that I too follow the usual crowd, however I am just good at hiding those emotions. I found it extremely difficult to control my emotions when I was in my early 20s, I remember punching a wall once in university dorms. I was angry about something, or frustrated, I wish I can remember what it was. Anyway, I used to have these episodes of sudden emotion erupting, possibly because I used to supress my true feelings most of the time. 

However, this all changed with two transformations in my life. The first one happened at the age of 24, when I met my wife-to-be (now my wife). She is such a genuine person, an individual who is honest about everything around her including emotions. It was difficult adjustment, however, I learnt so much from her and she was the first person probably to see my true nature. I worried about minute issues for instance car insurance, scratch on the car, house maintenance, and other such silly things just used to wind me up. I learnt a lot from my other half, most importantly how to be true to yourself and the world. 

The biggest change that catalysed the alteration of my mindset was getting close to Sikhi and finally taking Amrit. This modification in my life not only helped me to see what was important but also changed me from within. There is still that side of me which is the worrier however, it is not hidden anymore. If people don't see it I make them aware of it. We are all just the same, it takes a lot of guts and willpower to be a saint, and even more to be a saint-soldier. With right dose of naam simran, gurbani and shastr vidhiya one can achieve the highest state of spirituality as per Sikhi. Ja Kao Har Rang Lago, Is Jag Mein So Khiat Hai Sura.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Flying off to America

It was 9:00 pm and I was really struggling to concentrate sitting in front of my PC, trying to online-check-in for my family. The plan was to put the children to bed at 7:00 pm. So that they could get enough sleep when they wake up 5:00 am the next morning to catch the 10:00 am flight to Charlotte, America.  However, like every Punjabi family,  we were late!

I sat in the study room staring at the computer thinking, how do we manage to be in this situation every time. I believe the modern term is 'last minute dot com'. The suitcases weren't even packed properly let alone anything else; focus, I told myself. However, I did not go very further when I called out my wife's name, who at that point was giving my six month old a bath. 'I need your brother's address in America, do you have it handy'!? Well, she didn't but we managed. Like a good husband (wife would definitely beg to differ) I completed all my tasks for the night and went to bed, completely oblivious to the stressful time on the other side of the night. 

As I stood in the kitchen with a cup of tea in my hand, I had it all figured out. I knew exactly what time to leave to reach the airport on time. Also, checked all the paper work and as I had the day off, I even planned my chores for the rest of the day (after dropping my family).  Both me and my wife looked at each other and knew it was time to go, both children were ready and it was only 6:00 am. I wanted to make sure it was terminal one. So, while I excused myself to the washroom, wife looked up the flight status. Few moments later I came out of the restroom to a long face. 'What happened'!? I asked. Oh boy, the flight was cancelled! It was not rescheduled and the US airways have sent us a string of e-mails over night to let us know about the cancellation.The maintenance went wrong apparently; it took me a while to digest the news. I cannot recall if I was more upset because my family could not go or I had to go to work. 

Next task, both wife and I knew was going to be difficult, however we had to do it. we approached our eldest and broke the news to him. He stopped jumping around and concentrated on what we had to say. To our surprise there was no drama, he nodded and asked if the tire had come off. I quickly nodded and said that could be one of the possibilities. I then explained further that we may not be able to go today but may be tomorrow. At that point, he wasn't interested anymore in the conversation and he continued playing with his toys (I do not blame him, after all he could not go and see his cousins - for now). I looked at the time it was 6:30 am, I had half an hour before I could reach the airlines on the only available premium number. I tried to search for a toll free or a land line but I gave up after a couple of minutes.

I do not know about my other half, however, I felt so weird about the whole situation. It is because wife and I had a heated discussion about going to America when we had just come back from Hong Kong a month before. However this trip is completely justifed as my wife's mother is quite ill and the daughter reallys needs to see her. I remember the day when she booked the tickets, a lot of things went wrong, such as it took few days to resolve the payment. I received hunderds of calls at work about the issues she was encountering while booking the flight. Yet when we had packed everything and were on time, the flight was cancelled all together. It could be a sign I thought, but suddenly another voice said, you're dealing with American airlines and their agents, this was expected!

I really just wanted to stay home as I only had two to three hours sleep and mentally wasn't prepared for this 'change of course'. Well, I had no option as I would have wasted my leave, so I started getting ready while my wife got busy with the phone. As expected, they were putting us on hold and all we could think of was the money being charged for the premium line. The first time it was for half an hour, my wife decided to call back later. It was a mistake, she could not get hold of them at all afterwards. Well, in the mean time I thought it would be wise to turn up at work and cancel the leave so that I could re-book it for when ever the flight gets rescheduled.

It was now 9:00 am, and I had reached work where all my colleagues gathered around me to ask what was I doing at work! I narrated the whole situation to them, and they suggested to just to turn up at the airport for rescheduling the flight. Why didn't I think about that!? All sort of thoughts started bombarding me, for instance, what if that was what we were suppose to do. What if now they say, 'sorry chaps, you guys missed your flight which was rescheduled for 11:00 am on a different airlines. Well, to my relief nothing of that sort happened; my wife was finally able to get hold of them after two hours and rescheduled the flight. Unfortunately, there were no direct flights until the 22nd or the 30th. Typical of Punjabi couple, it took us an hour and words such as 'aukha thuada', 'paelan keya see', 'mainu emotional blackmail na karo' to re-book on the 30th. I actually thought that was the end of it all and how incorrect was I. I received yet another call from my wife informing  me that the flight had been changed to 22nd by her brother in America!

There was silence for couple of minutes, as if I had forgotten how to react in anger. I was quite upset but I know her brother, so saved all the ego-husband speech. However, I could not get a day off on the 22nd to drop wife and the kids at the airport, not even for couple of hours. My friends tried to help, but we decided (after another 'heated discussion') 30th would be best and her brother just need to live with it. Final hurdle was to persuade the airlines to change back the dates, which they did after we promised that it was the last time we were making the change. I called my wife then added another call so we could have a conference and I did all that while driving home from work; of course I was on hands-free!

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Free of Facebook

Strange as it may sound but I feel great! I have finally deleted my Facebook account.  To be honest it was a great experience, 10 years ago I would have never gone on to a social networking site. However, in 2010 I decided to give it ago. To my surprise, it was brilliant, I reconnected with so many old friends from Hong Kong. I also met new ones, however I made a 'rule' for myself. When accepting a friend request, I told myself that I would not add anyone who I do not interact (or have interacted in the past) with.

Did I hold on to that? Well, there were one or two from America whom I didn't know but still added. However I only had 115 friends, out of which 40 were my colleagues. The rest were either family or friends. 

So why did I got rid of it!? There are many reasons, and the one I am willing to share is that I spent more time on Facebook than with my family. May be I wasn't a 'posting-person' but I definitely read everyone's post. 

People share all kind of stuff on the site, emotional, romantic, funny, political, religious and you name it ! Recently however, people started sharing something that I wish they never had. Videos of people being decapitated, mostly happening in Islamic countries or may be suppressed states. This really bothered me and I accidentally watched one. I could not take my mind of it. It took me a whole week to recover and my wife could see something was bothering me. Every time people posted or shared something that demoralised other communities or races, I was reminded of how cruel the Human race is. The amount of racist comments or pictures that are shared on Facebook, in reality the same could result in a prison sentence. Anyway it is deactivated now,  I can focus more on my real life and maybe more time for my nitnem? ;)