Echos of us

You walked up with a friend
I was already there
leaning up against the bar
On impulse I bought your drinks
It didn’t matter
you would have stayed anyway
The conversation was great
We talked about things that didn’t matter
like bartenders, waitresses and cheesy guys at bars
and about things that did matter
like happiness and being right there in that very moment
I wanted to say something about your smile
how it could make someone very happy
We laughed, I remember
I touched your arm and at one point you put your hand on my shoulder to adjust your outfit
I pretended I didn’t notice
Eventually you walked away
fading into the crowd only leaving a trace of that smile
I smiled back
We both knew we would meet again

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Dear Basketball (O Canada)

Dear Basketball,

From the moment
I first borrowed my friend’s basketball shorts I knew this wasn’t going to be good.

While some six year olds are destined for greatness my best athletic years literally only included running up and down the court.

Sure my heart and my mind were fully in it. I also imagined making championship winning shots in the NBA, but I just never had the right body.

As a six year old, the tunnel I went through was moving from cricket-playing India to hockey-loving Canada. I wasn’t good at cricket or hockey either.

It wasn’t until Gretzky the Magnificent left Edmonton for Los Angeles and years later when I followed suit from Calgary that my love for the Lakers emerged. It wasn’t immediate. If we’re being completely honest I only started watching to fit in with my new friends. Kind of like dating a girl just because your friends think she’s cool, and over time she just grows on you. Sorry!

We used to shoot hoops in my best friend’s driveway and I was really really “in-like” with it. I would even practice dribbling by myself when no one was around. My friends were all much better than me and thank God I had a decent enough personality that they let me keep playing. But friends can be cruel too. I got beat on the boards, badly. My shots would get swotted and many times they would just take the ball away mid-dribble. That’s not the worst. I’ve suppressed some memories but I’m sure they called me names and made fun of my hockey playing Canadian heritage.

But I endured. Taking on the physical pain and the emotional damage. I remember stubbing my fingers going after many a loose ball. Ouch! That takes weeks to recover. One time, attempting to defend in a pick up game, I ran straight into larger opponent and got knocked to the ground. I don’t think he even budged.

But it wasn’t all bad. One time I made a $100 playing against an even skinnier friend. Thankfully no one was calling fouls but I like to think it was the die hard competitor in me that brought out the champion that day. I was down by 4 points but went on a 8 to 0 run to win the first-to-21-points game that day. Pure awesomeness. The number one to my top ten basketball career highlights. Which reminds me, Gene, you owe me $100.

Like Kobe, I’m also retiring. I picked up the basketball a couple of times last year and it just wasn’t good. My body could take the pounding and my heart could use the exercise but my mind knows it is just too embarrassing to even try now. I gave it all I had when I wasn’t focusing on work, friends, family, going to beach, watching movies or watching hockey. Beyond all that, I really was devoted.

Oh Basketball, I’ll always be that awkward kid who never had the right shoes, the right shorts or the right dribble.

Kobe, I can’t tell you what an honor it’s been watching you all these years. I watched in awe as I witnessed what a human journey is capable of. It was nothing short of magical.

 

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Trifecta

Chapter 1

Reena darted out as soon as Dr. Swanson announced that class was over. Her fellow classmates sleepily gathered their belongings and swayed only slowly towards the exit doors. Reena, however, was on a mission. A few hours of Biology review awaited her in the Library. Although she always aced her exams she still panicked every time a quiz was announced. Her parents never applied any unreasonable pressure on her, and frankly were downright surprised at how she turned out. They wondered where she got it from: the drive to succeed, the despair when she did fail, and then the ambition to try harder the next time around. She made sacrifices of her own accord – giving up spending time with cousins so that she could solve some bizarre algebraic equation that no one expected her to. Her parents worried for a while, wondering if her obsession was healthy, afraid that she wouldn’t become the well-rounded female they wanted her to be, but nothing they did altered her course. She attended the family events as expected, practiced the obligatory dances for family weddings, learned just when to stop the tea from boiling, even perfected the art of pleating a sari pallu, and still kept up with her school studies. Eventually they gave up and finally just accepted her for who she was.

Her fellow classmates loitered around the building lobby catching up on the latest relationship gossip and making plans for the weekend, but for Reena, they were all only getting in the way. She maneuvered her way through the crowd, blasted open the doors of Beecher Hall and entered into the brisk open air of the courtyard. Without missing a step, she bolted towards Regenstein Library.

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Best Kirtan Service Ever

Okay, I know you aren’t supposed to have a favorite Kirtan service at a Gurudwara – they are all supposed to be special in their own ways, but still, today’s service impacted me in a unique way.

First off, it was my first time inside a Gurudwara since the August 5th shooting at Oak Creek Gurudwara in Wisconsin. (Actually, it was my first time back in a Gurudwara in over 4 months). I’m not sure why it took me so long to attend. Part of me has longed for the solace of the sangat and the sweet melody of the kirtan all week. Yet, part of me needed to come to terms with the despair that I was still feeling.

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Are we at war?

Back when wars used to mean something
People fought for causes
We were governed by our morals
We took up arms to protect others
Gave up our lives so that others could be free
So that others could worship in any way they saw fit
So that others could be our equals
Walk the earth with their heads held high, with respect

When did it come to this?
Now we fight for ourselves
We are governed by our hatred
We fight for revenge
To punish others
Because they worship differently than us
Something about the color of their skin
Or the way they tie their hair
Something as little as that
And we start a war with the world

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The song

Hello my dear friend
I know it’s not the same
Sometimes life takes something away
Is there anything I can do
To lighten the load
Can I offer you a word
Play you a song
Something that will make you smile
And help you forget even for a moment

A promise was made
A long time ago
I see it in your eyes
Defeat
Like the truth of something has awaken you from your dreams
Is there anything I can do
Offer you a word
Or play you a song
Help you remember
If even for a moment
That we are all living the same life
We all pass through the same gates
We all come to terms with our own illusions

Can I offer you a word
Even though I don’t have the answers
Help you forget for a moment
That everything eventually goes away
What we’ve built. What we’ve broken. What we’ve fixed.
That we’re all just passing time. Experiencing.
Those that have it figured out, don’t
The only voice that matters is your own

We were all sent here
Same as every star in the sky
If the leaves on the trees belong
Then so does this song
Despite how alone we feel
We’re all here together
Passing
Experiencing
You don’t have to have a purpose in your life in order for your life to have purpose
You are already magnificent

Again

My life, it begins with an apology
I’m sorry

I left scars on an open soul

Oneness once experienced
now closed up
scared
bitter

Friends turned the other way
when the pain became too much to bear

I see it now
not so differently than I saw it then

That I created all of this
It happened all of a sudden
But I controlled it for a while
Until it burst through me
and I couldn’t slow it any longer

The tentacles reached out further than I could imagine
those close and far, all affected
it was indiscriminate
I watched it all happen
Too tired
Only observing

I knew that one day I would need to get up off my knees
Pull those ropes back inside
Tie the knots tighter again
Start again

I knew that again I would do it alone
That the strength would come from inside somewhere
from out there somewhere

Those close would reach the shore
but some would be too far out to reach
I would have to watch them sail by
to a different place
out too far for me

I knew this then
and I still know this now

That it’s my fault
I watched it happen
I created all of this
The oceans between us

But there’s hope
Wrongs can be righted
The ship hasn’t capsized
It can be steadied
If I am still alive
there’s still time

Memories fade
we’ll let go
of both the good
and that other part of me

We’ll meet again
wonder if we’ve met before
Drawn to the search for life that exists in all of us
to the search for happiness that exists in each others’ eyes

I’ll place my hand on your shoulder
and it won’t remind you of how I make you feel

We’ll come together
and start again

Blades of a fan

I’ve done some shit in my life. Some good, some bad.  Some people I may have helped, some people I’ve definitely hurt. Made some friends, some enemies. I’ve improved, deteriorated, loved, feared, laughed, danced, fought.  Gave everything up for a while, took it all in later.  Some people disappeared, others hung around. Some things I’m proud of, like that day when we all came together to rest under a blue canopy while rain fell all around us. I didn’t make it rain, but I did help put up the canopy, and we all came together as one.

Some things could have happened differently, maybe those that I cared about wouldn’t be so wounded now, but really, it couldn’t have happened any differently.  I guess I was supposed to be exactly where I was every-time I was there, that means that if you participated you were supposed to be there too. I’ve been happy about it all, grateful for the opportunity to live a life that no-one else gets to live, and yet also grateful to look upon the same earth that everyone else gets to. I’ve been angry, but I’ve let it go. Found forgiveness in the realization that you were doing the only thing you could in that moment. I’ve been stuck, but moved on, let go. I’ve looked up at the stars and wondered what it all means, the stars they only shined back, giggling at my childish curiosity.  I’ve been a child, and only acted grown-up on a few occasions.

Sometimes I sit watching the blades of the fan spin by wondering who will come into my life next and how they will change me.

Layers

I peer through layers of glass
not believing what I see
wondering if the glass is distorting the real

but it’s real
and it’s right

I go back to what I whispered in your ear that night
Seeing you happy makes me happy
The sting wears off, I check to see if there are any wounds, and I am happy

The sun shining down on your face
A smile filled with love
All captured in a lens, etches a new memory of you now
The shadow of a photographer falling over your body but it isn’t an intrusion

I catch it all in an on-line photo

It was about the same time that you stopped appearing in my dreams
As if a part of me knew that what we had was finally gone
I can no longer be the man, nor the shadow
Just a man, behind layers of glass, watching a distant sun shine on a reverent smile