May or May not please
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
Knew that we could be summoned any time but how the time lapsed and were soon to leave. It could not even wait for the marriage in the family since our presence was more needed here in the USA. Fortunately, bride would be Sneha and her brother Barun had arrived by then from Bangalore and we could be with Bhai Bijoy and family to bless in advance wishing a very memorable wedding ceremony both here at Gangtok and at the place both siblings studied well, got satisfying job to make their career for happy living Sneha to come across and meet the Prince Charming of her dreams to tie the nuptial knot. Story very similar with most parents to have by now accepted the realities of modern era and come to terms with the compulsions of life when most of us have to send their children off to educational institutions away from home to some big cities wishing them a bright future. We never realized, once sent our children would be off our hands too pursuing their own career taking wings to meet the challenges of life in the best manner they could to reach higher and higher. For, it is their life and own battle to win coming out with flying colours!
I well remember years ago when we had admitted after much efforts getting a seat our daughter Rachna for studies in Pune, we could not leave her in the hostel of Maharshi Karve Cummin's College of Engineering for Women even after staying a whole month there and visiting her every evening to see that she was well-acclimatized and adapted with the new environment there. She was late in the first semester and had to sit in the examination immediately after getting admitted there. She had fared well with two back papers to tag for the next semester. When we enquired about the result in the College office, one of the staff said that previously too there was a similar instance when a student arrived late and had papers backlog but never mind, Rachna would also fare well in studies the way she did and come out successful by the next semester. Exactly, the same happened later and we thank even this day the kind heart who gave us such an assurance much needed to parents to hear of and console. Finally, we decided to move on with our life and full of tears and hugging our daughter together as we bade her good bye in the last evening. No, the next morning it was not easy for either of us to leave the place without meeting our daughter once again. We reached the hostel early morning before the classes started to have one more meeting with welled up eyes. Vice-principal Thade was in utter surprise to find us still around there over a month. He just asked us if it was difficult to leave your daughter here, what would we do later when she was married off - would we too go along with her. She had been with us right throughout her childhood and loved much - so much so when we were with TNA principal Chandran for admission, she just climbed up to my lap and with ease she started sucking her thumb that made him ask if it was age for her to school!
Soon she completed her studies to get employed after a campus placement interview and in due course was sent to the US to work with assignment for three months for the company based on performance. This was at a time when going abroad was not that easy and that too with a job in hand as common as it is today. Back home she was soon a role model for many when worked for the UN Peace Keeping Force at New York. How this little thumb sucking shy girl reached that far was just a matter to make all of our family proud of. We were in Pune/Mumbai to see her off with heavy heart but somewhere happy inside as she was flying off the shore to the land of dreams to wish every success in all her endeavours once again.We well remember the date she was off the shore that year 2003, May 16. How quickly time flies away, we are together this time around to celebrate 15th year of stay here and to celebrate the occasion our choice was fantastic #World of Beer that boasts of 600 kinds with 530 brands plus 30 in draught!
She visited home quite often in between and also most of the places here. In one of her visits, she confided with us that she has decided to tie marital knot with her friend for long time. I had seen the boy at Pune a year or so ago to hand over the packet she sent. The only question I asked her was did they really loved each other so much as to decide entrusting life to making the future in foreign soil together. A meeting of both the families followed to cut the ice if any - fortunately, no such matter to come in between as we simply accepted the fate and agreed to make our children happy! Nairs are believed to have many commonalities to attribute them to be the origins of the Newars in Nepal as we also found on web search with some instances to put across and establish the point. Not much needed too as it matters hearts that brought together thus far. Her next visit home was to get married and she was already five years away in the US. Today, it is nine years she was married off and we were here one more time with the door opened as they settled down!
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It was indeed a pleasure to have a welcome note from friends known and unknown here every time before we land. When we first came it was little cumbersome to collect the baggage at the transit points with domestic and international terminals located apart. This time at final destination JFK we paid a dollar more for carts earlier at $ 5 each. For past few years there has been tremendous improvement back home in the way we travel. While it was en route Delhi last time, with direct flight to Mumbai introduced since May 6, we had this route with baggage deposited with the airlines while checking in at Bagdogra. Like last time, boarding passes were issued to us for all three places Bagdogra, Mumbai and Abu Dhabi and we were to collect our baggage on arrival at the final destination JFK/New York. Incidentally, Mumbai airport is reported to be the world's busiest single runway airport with one flight in every 65 seconds. Like last time, we had US Pre-Clearance at Abu Dhabi to save us from immigration formalities landing here. No jet lag as such though the long journey was somewhat tiresome. Could be excitement to meet all here taking over our age coming in between!
Vimal Jwainsaheb was there at JFK to pick us up while Rachna waited at home for health reasons this time avoiding the long journey to and fro. We stopped awhile at service plaza for some coffee to reach home refreshing our memory with the place seeing ever developing process en route. Environment was refreshing green with trees bearing new leaves with flowers abundant wherever our eyes reached!
May or May not please you all but May is one of the most rewarding months for us rather me personally. For, this month we could repay rich tributes along with several of his students and well-wishers coming together to celebrate "Sahasrachandra Darshanam/Maharatharohan or Jankwa" of Buba Jai Shanker Lall Shresta better remembered as Head Sir with Muma Indira Devi at Rhenock. This ritual is in honour of life to celebrate the age - from May 27 to June 02 in the year the millenium turned new. It was keeping with the rich Newar tradition of celebrating the age attaining different stages of life first being at 77 years 7 months. Everyone does not reach that far while some reach even farther to celebrate yet another and again another milestones of the journey called life. Ours was the second one Buba attaining 83 years 4 months accomplishing sighting of a thousand moons to be exact. It was also in May 2010 we landed here first time to be with our daughter and Jwainsaheb that soon saw us meeting many friends, well-wishers and relatives that made us feel homely making our long stay pleasant and memory ever cherishing.
May has many such momentous moments of life pleasant added by one more joyous to be blessed with this USA Sojourn 2017 - an episode best ever!
Disclaimer: This is author’s personal account of memories updated to cherish and treasure often on a detour here and there en route to share the joy of the journey called life. Some names (*asterisk for those no more), quotes, places and events mentioned are just to connect with and no malice whatsoever intended. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. "The Newars World~Wide Connecting the Dots : Sikkim" by him is available at www.facebook.com/rachnabooks