A sudden break from the gloom….

The children are safe. A week ago a flickering video had depicted frail, wraithlike figures, some sitting cross legged, some on their haunches, little angels with everything but fear playing on their faces.

Where did they get the courage to endure, to dispassionately go about carving a nook in the cave wall so they could huddle and stay warm?

Really, what a story! What a deliriously happy ending!

Sacrifice, chivalry, teamwork – look what can be achieved when these are in abundance!

An Australian on vacation there, who just happened to be not only an expert cave diver but also a selfless doctor who was among the first to go in and join the kids and the last to exit the cave. The Australians want to award him their highest civilian award ‘Australian of the year’.

A navy seal who had retired but arrived, to help because wanting to make a difference still burned inside him. He died a horrible death, his lungs devoid of oxygen.

A coach who wouldn’t eat because he wanted his charges to have what little rations were left and refused to be evacuated until the last child had been removed from that ledge in the cave.

For a brief instant in time, it seems as if an increasingly impotent, dying God has desperately flailed his arms about, trying to convince us that there is still some goodness left in the world, that the ability to inspire still lives within us all.

His last-ditch effort does afford God some credit. After all, who else do we have to thank for holding the rains at bay while the heroes scrambled to save? Didn’t one of the pumps collapse minutes after the last kid had been brought out? Didn’t the World Cup finals wait so the kids could join in?

Lizzy of Isaleigh Grange

When you are browsing second book stores for antique hardcovers, sometimes you got ta choose between a famous but not so old (maybe 60-70 years) book and an authentic antique whose content sucks, written by some jerk.

Let me tell you about one I got yesterday that falls in the second category – it’s a racist harangue, “Germany and the Germans – from an American point of view,” by a turn of the 20th century white nationalist American bozo named Price Collier. The book was published in 1913, in Toronto. So, why Toronto? Maybe because it was a year before the start of WW1 and German U-Boat activity was already beginning ta hurt American merchant shipping in the North Atlantic, pissing off the Americans. American publishers would hesitate to publish a pro-German rant in that milieu, wouldn’t they?

It all kinda ties in neatly. Jeeze, I coulda been a forensic behavioural sciences specialist. If you need ta figure things out, give me a call. I charge $300 an hour and I’ll figure anything out for ya.

It is highly likely that this Collier dude was one of the thousands of German-Americans who wanted President Woodrow Wilson to intervene on “their side”. Woody would have joined on the German side, given the massive German-American voting bloc in those days, but when Fritz began sinking too much American merchant shipping around the North Atlantic, he couldn’t justify it.

In case you would like ta know what happens when somebody hurts American commerce, just ask the 1950s Guatemalans about the time when they told the American giant, United Fruit Co. to shove it. In case you’d like to be further enlightened about it, type “The banana conflicts” in the search box of my blog ‘spunkybong.com’. Go ahead, its free, though nothing stops you from sending me money.

Getting back to Germany and the Germans, the book rages on about how the demographics have been growing darker over the past decade, how in 1882 almost all immigrants were white Christian protestants from Europe, how there was law and order then and how today (1913) one in four newcomers is an “Asiatic or Turk, rampaging through America, unchecked, killing our innocent young white women”.

Fuck you, Prick Collier.

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The feel of an antique book is overwhelming. The binding is almost invariably sturdy, the type bold and double-spaced, the font-size large, sprawled over thick beige paper. Bring it up to your nose and sniff it and you will detect a certain innocence, even in bigotry. Hold it in your hands and you will feel the weight of history in it.

On the inside front cover of “Germany and the Germans” is a beautiful piece of handwriting, with a flat-tipped fountain pen of the type that is used in calligraphy. It says….

Elizabeth J. Greenshields

“Isaleigh Grange”

Danville, Jan 2

1916

The book wasn’t gifted. It has no ‘To’ and ‘from’ in the writing. Elizabeth Greenshields bought the book and therefore had to have been in her late 30s/early 40s at least, to want to read the crap that this Collier guy had written. If she read the book in 1916 as her handwriting suggests, I figure Lizzy was born sometime around the late 1870s and had been living in Danville, today a town of 4000, situated a two-hour drive east from Montreal. Isaleigh Grange is shown in the Statistics Canada website as a “locality” in the town.

The fact that Elizabeth Greenshields spent money to buy right wing propaganda tells me something. But then, she also popped up in a Google search. Old Liz and her descendants apparently started a foundation in the early 1950s, then supposedly well into her 70s, to help underprivileged aspiring black and native American artists in Quebec. Remorse, then the search for redemption? Understandable. They say that within every bigot is a soul crying out to be proved wrong.

And within every old Bengali, is a sleuth, with the urge to express himself (and/or make an ass of himself).


It’s Archimedes’ Principle, silly

Sunday at the riverside was a near perfect day, the sun out and blazing, not a wisp in the sky, which itself was an impossible turquoise blue. Loitering girls in off-shoulders and flip-flops, their faces flushed and joyful, cuddling chihuahuas in their arms, their armpits invitingly sweaty (the girls’, not the chihuahuas).

In other words, it was a perfect day for kayaking. Now, before I tell you what transpired, here’s some tips on kayaking….. You have ta have a wetsuit on, or at least waterproof shorts, because kayaks are made from ultra-light polyethylene, with holes in the bottom to relieve the sudden momentary upward pressure from the water when your weight settles on it or if you fidget around while you are in there. Those holes let the water in and out, thus preventing the kayak from becoming unstable and capsizing. It’s plain and simple Archimedes’ Principle, really. (If you haven’t heard of Archimedes, don’t worry. You cannot be expected to be as brilliantly well-informed as me).

Capsizing…hmmmm… where have I heard that word before? Right now of course, I just said it and that’s where the next rule comes in…. always be aware of your surroundings. If a large cabin cruiser looks as if its going ta pass too close, steer clear. Otherwise the wake from the boat will toss your kayak and you around like a rag doll. And if you were oriented broadside and you weren’t paying attention – maybe you were leaning on the other side, to photograph a broad in a bikini who had just removed her top, while sunning on top of another boat or something – your kayak will surely tip over from the very first wave that hits you.

If you do capsize, forget about trying ta save your Iphone. You were holding it in your hand and taking pictures of those girls in the previous paragraph. It now rests at thirty fathoms. Meanwhile the waters are 5°C(approximately the temperature inside a refrigerator) and fookin deep. Time is of essence.

Here’s the other things you can forget about……

Forget about your Apple Watch, your Bose headphones or even your Nikon D7200 SLR that had been on sale when you had been smart enough ta purchase it for just $750. You didn’t lose them in the spill. You still have ‘em but they are all goners. You can hear water sloshing around somewhere inside the Nikon. Your headphones are only emitting a screeching noise now, a day later, even after you have dried it. And you don’t dare look at the Apple Watch. You had lost your shirt buying it.

Forget about the dangers of ingesting the river water. This is Canada. You don’t get raw sewage or dead bodies bumping into ya, like in Varanasi. A little river water may even toughen up yore immune system.

Forget about that flask of tawny 12-year old Porto Rei that you had been swigging from. It was the one single thing that had been responsible for your inattention and had led to your toss-up. By now, it must be nearing the Antichosti Island and two baby belugas are probably playing with it.

Forget about getting back onto the kayak. It is virtually impossible to right an overturned kayak and get on it by yourself, without a counterweight on the other side. If you know how ta swim, surviving a kayak spill isn’t a big deal really. Find the kayak (that has by now drifted fifty yards further from you), grab onto it and drag it to the shore. This time of the year, the water’s freezing cold – uncomfortable, but manageable and its not as if you are in the middle of the Atlantic. The shoreline is just a coupla hundred yards away.

Oh, before you go grab the kayak, don’t forget ta look for the oar, or it’ll drift away outa sight and you’ll never be able ta discern it in the swells (A new oar can be upwards of fifty of your hard-earned smackeroonies at Reno Depot).

But then again, things can turn out quite differently if you don’t know how ta swim. Imagine this is all going down near Pointe Claire, where the St Lawrence is half a mile wide and to make matters worse dusk has settled. Your tired muscles are unable to break through the strong current and you cannot even distinguish the shoreline beyond the wave crests. You should just let go and ride the waves. You’ll floated down to the Atlantic in a week – bloated, your eyeballs picked off by brown-necked gulls.

All’s not lost though. You’ll find yourself perched on the edge of a cloud, strumming on a harp, clad in a flowing milk-white chiffon toga with no underwear, while ravishing women with wings on their shoulder blades float by, with breasts that you cannot actually feel bobbing up and down as a reaction to the flapping of the wings.

I am not absolutely certain about the bobbing though. I am just assuming Newton’s Third Law works in heaven too.

—————————————————-

PS: A day later….

My Iphone and Apple Watch still work!!! Ah, those beautiful bastards at Apple!!!

PPS:

What? Did I tell you my Iphone sank to the bottom? You know I lie. All the fookin time.

Ale, Malamud and the Hadzas

Bigotry and the search for morality …… and decadence. That’s Malamud’s ‘The fixer’ and the pint of Rickard’s Red.

Red ale is decadent, specially when a plump, pink-cheeked Quebecois girl – with a cleavage you could ski down – serves it to you with a twinkle.

And Malamud’s Yakov Bok is actually me. Jeez, how did Malamud know I would grow into a Yakov Bok?

But wait, that’s a kinda first impression. I have just started on the book. I am on page 45 of 271 pages. Maybe by the time I reach page 271, Bok will be a stranger. The reviews say he redeems himself in the end.

I don’t see me redeeming myself ever.

I bought the book at Nova, the 2nd hand book store by the riverside, because it had that old Penguin paperback smell that reminded me of once being young.

I really need a refill and have ta walk up to the bar since Miss Chubby TwinkleEyes isn’t looking in this direction. And why would she? There’s a hunk in a soiled paint-spattered construction worker outfit chatting her up.

I wish I was sweaty and hunky. Dear female readers, are women turned on by sweaty, smelly men? The Hadza women are. Hadza men don’t bathe for weeks in order ta smell desirable. Read this if you don’t want ta believe me……

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2009/12/hadza/

But hey, wait a second. I might have got it the other way round. Maybe its the Hadza men who insist that their women go without a wash for two weeks before they can consider having sex with them.

Heck, what’s the difference? If men are able ta get a hard-on only with stinky women, obviously women like their men to be stinky too. The two cannot be mutually exclusive.

Dear readers, do answer this poll, though. I’ll decide ta stop bathing on it’s basis.

There, see what you did to me? I was talking about this amazing book by Bernard Malamud and you waylaid my thoughts. So, toodle-oo!

A.O.G

It seems like a hundred years have passed since that night.

The kid’s room, 9pm, I’m done reading to him. He’s tucked in, barely awake, breathing settling down. I switch off the bed lamp and start to rise, when I feel his little paw on my arm.

“ChooChoo.” (don’t know how he started calling me that).

“Yes?”

“I want you to take me to your work. I wanna see what you do.”

“Geezers, that’s exactly what I had in mind. I need yore help.”

“Really?”

“We have an ‘AOG’ situation and I sure could use your expertise.” My voice has dropped to an urgent whisper.

“What’s an ‘AOG sichwashun?” wide awake, on his elbows now, big eyelashes fluttering and making it a bit windy in there.

“Aircraft On Ground.”

“No kidding!” mouth agape now. I gently shut his lips lest a fly should do a low level sortie.

“We have a rotor, taken off a crashed F-117 turbine. We did a PPDP on it at 250 cycles. Found a .30 positive indication with some sticky pink FOD at the bottom.”

“What’s an effohdee?”

Foreign Object Damage. Jet engines sometimes stop workin’ because stuff get’s inside the rotor blades, y’know. Highly dangerous, life-and-death sichwashun….”

“How’d the effohdee get there?”

“Oh, it was a Tomcat, coming in to land on the Abraham Lincoln. The pilot was a rookie – he had the FOD in his mouth, against regoolashuns. He opened his canopy to spit it out and it went in through the intake.”

“What do you want me ta do?”

“Thought we could bring you in, deputize you and you could run a sample thru’ your extensive bubble gum database.”

“ChooChoo!” exasperation, realizes I’m kidding. Giggles anyway. I tuck him in again.

A shadow suddenly looms across the doorway. It feels like one of those huge alien ships gradually blanketing the earth in ‘Independence Day’. The room is suddenly cold and I distinctly hear a wolf’s baleful howl… oooouuuuuh! I shiver. Seems like Halloween is a bit early.

The shadow belongs to the Persian woman who lives in my house. She looks cross at my keeping the kid past his bedtime.

I beat it quick. Phew!

A love story

Summer, you bastard, you’re here and no thanks for it. If you had a butt I I would be kickin’ it right about now. For bein’ so so so late.

And it’s just 10 fookin degrees C.

I never wanted ta be rude to you, summer, but fook you, I decided I’m going ta have a beer anyway.

I’m having an ale actually. Ales and beers are the same, except ales make it seem like you’re Robin Hood. And Robin Hood could fuck anybody.

But relax, summer, I love ya. You have no idea how much I like ta see you comin’ around. Right now, if I had ta choose between Scarlett Johanssen and you, I’d choose you. And that’s saying a lot, trust me. I am one horny bastard.

Imagine, I seen you come around like this for 63 fookin years, but it’s only in the last 16 (after I came to Canada) that I’ve grown ta appreciate you. The broads here have better legs and they wear less clothes during you.

So a big “hi” at last, you son of a bitch.

My first smoocherooney

I have written of just about anything in this blog, except my first kiss which happened with a girl named Rashmi Bhagwat.

It was 1967, in a small town called Durgapur, in the Indian province of West Bengal. I was 12 then and I am 63 now, but listen, you’ll never ever forget your first smoocherooney, trust me.

I still remember that day vividly. The rest of the school was out at the stadium race-track for the annual parade march-past dress rehearsal.

The morning had gone by playing the fool, leaving corny notes on each other’s desks, hiding our compass boxes from each other and generally poking good-natured fun at one another.

This thing between Rashmi and me had been going on for a while and we were beginning ta feel like it  was all sort of building up to something but we didn’t realize what that was.

In fact my lips had brushed against her ear on an occasion that week and I had managed to say, “Surprise attack!” and grinned. She had expressed mock shock and given me a playful slap and run off to the other girls.

That day, the bell rang for the parade rehearsal and everyone began trooping down to the stadium – except Rashmi, who had been loitering behind. Instead of following the crowd, she gave me a glance to ensure she had my attention and she slipped away and disappeared inside the chemistry lab.

I followed her in. The Spanish conquistador, Hernán Cortés, would have been proud of me.

I found her at the far corner, behind a cupboard filled with the burettes and pipettes. She wasn’t doing any chemistry experiments or anything – she just stood there. The moment I swung into her field of vision, her hands flew to her face and covered her eyes, her middle and forefingers parting a crack to see if i was making any progress toward her.

In a few strides I was on her and as I held her tight, she kept trying to wriggle free, though not with any genuine conviction. She kept real quiet though and that should have told me something but it didn’t. In fact I kinda lost my balance holding her and she thought I was stepping back. Her hands snaked up my back and yanked me back to her tight.

Now that should definitely have told me something, no? This time it did. It emboldened me. I stared at her beautiful lips and said,“What would you do if I kissed you right now?” Her beautiful face took on a devilish twist. She seemed like she wanted nothing else.

“I would kiss you right back,” she whispered and before her palms could fly right back up to her face, I had them in mine.

Rashmi was a head shorter and had her face buried in my chest so I wouldn’t be able to reach her lips with mine. Still, I tried. I crouched low, not letting go of my grip on her shoulders for even a moment, as I tried to reach down with my lips, but they barely came till her pretty nose.

About to give up, I sighed and gently gave the tip of her nose a peck and started to move away, when she stopped struggling and went slack in my arms. She brought her face up to mine, her bright beautiful eyes an inch away from mine, so close that I had only her eyes in my vision. Suddenly their texture changed, the pupils widened and the corners crinkled. Though I couldn’t see her full face from up that close, I knew she was smiling.

Taking this as a cue, I plunged my lips down but instead, I felt her knee come up and connect with my adolescent testicles with a crunch and I let go with a yelp. She sprang free and ran, coming to a stop a few yards away.

Then she did a funny thing. She stopped and turned. It wasn’t over yet, I rejoiced silently. Pretending to be really seriously hurt, I fell on the floor and gasped, my face screwed up in mock agony. Taking hesitant steps, she inched back toward me, the devilishly naughty look replaced by one that was puckered in genuine concern – the look that had bowled me over in the first place.

I lay curled up in a ball, gasping for breath and I let her come within reach until she stooped to take a closer look. That is when she noticed the look in my eyes but it was too late by then. I uncoiled in a speedy blurr, reached out and grabbed her as she let out a high-pitched squeal, more in excitement mixed with delight, than fright.

“They’ll look for us!” said Rashmi and shivered,” Hurry!”

Now, dear readers, please – take it easy. Between the 1967 ‘hurry’, and the 2018 ‘hurry’, there have been genuine advances. Bras and panties became passé, folks have streaked naked over open ground and the word ‘f–k’ entered the lexicons of the world. The 1967 ‘hurry’ meant just a kiss, not even a French kiss.

I took her soft hands in mine and my lips skimmed over her forehead, her eyes, her ears and her nose just grazing against each while her breath clouded my specs. Finally I found her lips and remained there a while. It was the first time my lips had been on a girl’s and I explored the tiny ridges that run vertically along lips that are maiden and form when the weather is dry. I didn’t know it was dry out there, Jeeze, I was sweating like crazy. For a brief instant, I felt those ridges with my tongue but she recoiled in horror, so I hurriedly put my tongue back in. I have always been quite an explorer. If Capt. James Cook was hiring, he would have offered me a signing bonus.

We remained that way, giving each other tiny pecks and kisses, for what seemed like an eternity. Nothing was said, the words pouring out through our lips, google-translated into kisses. The Almighty created lips for communication  but I am sure even He didn’t figure how well kisses can articulate.

In the middle of our kiss, her lips stretched, her teeth made contact with mine and her eyes crinkled and  a sweet baby breath with an Amul butter tinge in it, lingered out and engaged my nostrils and I knew she was smiling again. If she had demanded that I walk off a cliff then, I woulda.

That’s when we heard the kids coming back in. She pushed me back against the burette/pipette shelf, making it jangle and almost tipping over some the pipettes that were near the edge.

And then she ran away, blowing a kiss at me as she turned the corner and disappeared.

After that first time, the back of the chemistry lab served us well on our canoodling, being empty most of the time. Our chemistry teacher sucked and no one liked chemistry. There we would crouch – not speaking, just kissing interminably long kisses. 1967 kisses were just kisses and didn’t come with any feeling up or squeezing you-know-whats.

About a year later, Rashmi moved away with her family, to Asansol, another small town like Durgapur where nothing really went on. Rashmi had lovely feet and wore nupurs that jingled just a wee bit and drove me nuts. The day before she left we had one last marathon canoodle behind a rack of bunsen burners. She cried a little and knowing how much her nupurs turned me on, she left me a pair of faux silver ones.

Actually I am not sure how much of this anecdote really happened – all those years and all, y’know – things get a bit hazy. Did I find her behind the cupboard in the chemistry lab or was it in the library? Did we have a chemistry lab at all, or was the lab from my memories of my next school, La Martiniere, where a few years later, I ….. oh, forget it, you won’t believe what happened in La Marts anyway.

But, listen, if you haven’t yet kissed anyone and want ta, prepare yourself for a very surreal roller-coaster ride. As your lips meet, every nerve ending shall twang, every hair stand on it’s end. Your eyes shall swim, finding it nigh impossible ta focus. It isn’t a sexual thing. Guys, you won’t even get a hard-on even if you are old enough to have one, but the excitement shall be so intense as to make you feel faint. At that moment you’ll be ready ta do anything for this girl. If her lips are slightly parted and she uses a breath freshener, the sensation of slipping your lower lip in will simply blow your mind.

Those days, Indian girls were very passive and demure. They made no moves, but just sat back and loved being kissed all over. I would say Rashmi was a bit more precocious than most other girls of that era. Rashmi’s face would take on a flushed glow when we kissed, I swear to ya.

And me – I was flushed too but suffice it to say that those days I was innocent. I believed that a stiff dick was just another term for an obstinate 12th century English King with a backache and a lion heart and baobabs were really African fruits that just enjoyed existing in pairs.

I know I shall never be able to go back and stand there in that school in that tiny town in India, without feeling the taste of Amul butter in my lips.

 

Comeuppance

The old woman with the walking stick had a weathered look. She and I had been the only two passengers on the 354, all the way from St. Anne. At 4:30am an empty bus is not unusual. That’s when I leave for work. I am a regular but I hadn’t seen her before.

I wondered what compelled her to make the trip so early in the morning. “Must be a nanny, catching an early shift,” I surmised. She’s a Phillipino. QED – stereotyped with the flick of an eyelid. For all I knew she might have been a McGill Professor, early because she was going to chair a seminar on space medicine that afternoon.

At the Atwater Terminus, she waited for the bus to come to a complete stop, before she clutched the stick with both hands for leverage and rose unsteadily. At the doorway, the gap between the edge of the running board and the sidewalk was wide, filled with a dirty grunge of slush and melting snow. She hesitated. I glanced at the driver who recognized the problem and activated the hydraulic platform that extended and slid onto the sidewalk. The hydraulic platform is used for folks on wheel chairs.

The woman turned to the driver and smiled a wan smile, forming the word “Mèrci” on her lips, before she stepped off.

This early in the morning, downtown Montreal bears the haunted look of a weary drunk. The ground zero of bustle – Atwater – is totally deserted, the bars having closed at 3:30, the homeless having found their bus stops and their shopping mall awnings to find some space where the chill -6C wind can’t get at them.

When I stepped off the bus, I peered into the darkness. She had disappeared. There’s a neighbourhood for rich folks nearby – Westmount. Her nanny job probably takes her there, I thought.

I made my way to the massive Alexis Nihon Mall, which stays open because it has a McDonalds inside and McDonalds are 24-hour joints. I usually park my ass on a bench there because the mall has a direct access to the Atwater Metro Station and I can sit there with a cappuccino and wait for the Metro Station doors to open.

The 5:42 to Berri Uqam was on time. I got on. Usually I don’t sit down. I always prefer to stand because I have my back pack on – it has my lunch, my Bose headphone case, my Nikon, my pills, kleenex and paperback. I usually get on the train, hook my arm round one of those vertical shiny stainless steel rods, stand facing the door inches away and tune into morning NYT “The Daily” podcast.

Metro doors have a fail safe system that ensures a passenger doesn’t get stuck between closing doors. It allows someone inside to step up and bar the doors from closing. The doors say “Oops” and spring back open. And as long as the doors are open, the failsafe system prevents the train from moving. This ensures that you don’t get accidentally stuck half in and half out and the train starts rolling.

The clinging chimes signal sounds 10 seconds before the doors start closing and it had already gone off when there she was – the nanny with the stick. She had stepped off the escalator and was desperately trying to bridge that gap before the doors closed, infirmity preventing her from running the few yards in.

She didn’t make it. The doors closed with a hydraulic sigh and the high-torque Siemens electric motors propelled the carriage forward with a swoosh.

My last glimpse of her as she flashed by remains till this day – the same wan resigned smile, accepting what life has dealt her, unquestioningly. I could have stepped up and prevented the doors from closing so she could get on. The next train was 45 minutes away and a Metro station so early isn’t the safest place for an old woman.

But I didn’t. I stood there rooted, inches away from that door, oblivious to everything as I listened to BBC Analysis blaring through my headphones, on the Syrian refugee crisis, only a fraction of my consciousness noting that the woman couldn’t get in.

I believe in comeuppance. I hope that I get mine while I am still alive.

Spring arriveth

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That’s as close ta spring as I can get.

See how the ice has broken up into little bobbing floes. And the trees, still gaspin’ ta get back into shape. Yonder, a few ring-billed gulls are sun bathin’.

This foto is from last spring. I figured you won’t know the difference, so overwhelmed you’ll be, at my fotografic brilliance.

I mean, if you take a second look at the janam patri (horoscope) that your mom had prepared upon your birth, there’s a tiny section there that says you’d meet this amazing guy on social media by the name of Spunkybong and he’d sweep you off yore feet.

It’s there, find that paper with all those weird circles and the Sanskrit mumbo jumbo and I’ll be there in the cawnah that’s reserved for miracles.

To my non-Indian friends who are reading this, a ‘janam patri’ is a stiff sheet of what is made to look and feel like ancient parchment. It is prepared in the immediate aftermath of your birth by your friendly neighborhood Hindu sage, once your mom feeds him with the date and exact time of your birth and pays him a hundred smackeroos.

41697DE0-7E10-40B4-9B60-58A2DE327CC1

An example of a simpler janam patri. Janam patris are usually way more complicated than this one. You should see mine. It screams at you. Looks like this one was prepared for a hill billy who would have very little to look forward to, in life.

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You and I wouldn’t be able to read the janam patri, since it is all in the ancient Indian language, Sanskrit. It is very colorful, with tightly packed circles, arrows, criss-crossing lines and script, the characters written in ochre, laying out in minute detail the course your life will take, whether you’ll turn out to be a shit-face jerk or you’ll be a world famous movie star.

If you’re a follower of one of the abrahamic faiths, I was the 11th Commandment, on the bottom right hand corner of the stone tablet. It said, “Thou shall let Spunky covet anything he wants ta covet.” Unfortunately old Moe tried ta grab it right after the good Lord had carved it out with his bolts of lightning, when it was still smouldering and sizzling hot. Add to that his arthritis and all and Moe dropped the tablet and that corner got chipped off, so nobody got ta read it.

Listen, you’ll just have ta trust me on this. Have I ever lied to ya?

Stop the Drama

Have you ever watched those YouTube video compilations of American soldiers coming home and surprising their family?

I accidentally clicked on a compilation video. At one level, it was heartwarming. The bride at a wedding and her brother walks in from Iraq. The daughter at her high school graduation and her fighter pilot father steps out from behind all those robes and turns out to be the one handing her the diploma. The middle-aged primary school teacher mom, helping the kids prepare cards to give their moms since its Mother’s Day and in walks her Navy Seal son, back from Afghanistan, holding a bunch of flowers in his hand. The German shepherd moping around the backyard, bored and suddenly he goes berserk when he hears his army medic ‘daddy’ say, “Hey, Brutus, cumere you!” And he leaps into his arms with a series of loud whining barks and yelps of ecstasy.

I haven’t seen one from other countries or groups. Maybe there just aren’t that many going off to fight wars in distant lands, trying to “make the world a safer place”.

Or maybe there aren’t that many coming out alive. Perhaps the concept of family is a different one in places other than America. Or maybe serving in the military just isn’t such a big deal in other nations. I know for a fact it isn’t, in my country of birth, India. And yet, Indian soldiers are among the fiercest and most dedicated. Have you seen any similar videos of Israeli soldiers? I haven’t.

Do only American soldiers have family or does the American military actually stage these as “surprise homecomings” and then flood YouTube with the videos, as a PR exercise? Don’t believe me? Just enter “American soldier surprises family…” on the search box and you’ll have hours and hours of those tear-jerkers, non-stop, every last one of them an American soldier.

Of all of them only the German shepherd would freak out with exactly the same intensity, even if it was only the corner store that you were coming home from. He won’t give a flying eff if you were a soldier or you were not.

Stop the drama, America.