Thursday, November 24, 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

From the 99%


Thursday, November 3, 2011


 This holocaust did not happen only to the Sikh people, it happened to individual Sikhs.  Like me.

Who is he? Who is this Singh? I have spent countless hours staring at this photograph asking myself questions. Whose son is he? Whose husband, whose dad, whose brother, whose uncle, cousin, friend? Is someone waiting anxiously at home for him, waiting for a footfall that will never come?

Where is he from? Does he live in Delhi or is he just visiting? Where was he born? What is his pind? When was he born? How old is he?

What is his occupation? Is he an engineer, a doctor, a professor? Or is he a taxi driver or a trucker?

What are his politics? Is he an Akali or a member of Congress? Is he a Khalistani or a Bharata Mata lover? Or is he political at all? Is he just trying to live his life and not really concerned about the niceties of the larger world.

Why is he keshdhari? Is it just habit, following family custom? Or is it deeply meaningful to him? Does he pray each day, do naam jap, love Vaheguru? Or are those just incidentals that have fallen by the wayside of his life? Where is his turban? How does he feel as it is ripped from his head and his kesh is exposed?

How does he feel as he realises the mob is coming for him, chasing him down the street or dragging him from his home or his car or from the bus? What goes on in his brain as the petrol is poured on him and set alight? What is he thinking as his body burns? Or is he beyond thought? Is he aware of the laughing jeering mob around him, enjoying watching his final agonising moments of life on this earth?

What is his last awareness as he dies alone, surrounded by merciless thugs?

Questions without answers. Whoever he is, he deserves to be remembered. I doubt he had even a death certificate, so I have made him one.

(Click to enlarge)

There is something so very final about the certificate. And, of course, I realise that all I have written is wrong and must be rewritten to reflect the truth of 25 26 27 years later.
Who was he? Who was this Singh? I have spent countless hours staring at this photograph asking myself questions. Whose son was he? Whose husband, whose dad, whose brother, whose uncle, cousin, friend? Was someone waiting anxiously at home for him, waiting for a footfall that never came?

Where was he from? Did he live in Delhi or was he just visiting? Where was he born? What was his pind? When was he born? How old was he?

What was his occupation? Was he an engineer, a doctor, a professor? Or was he a taxi driver or a trucker?

What were his politics? Was he an Akali or a member of Congress? Was he a Khalistani or a Bharata Mata lover? Or was he political at all? Was he just trying to live his life and not really concerned about the niceties of the larger world.

Why was he keshdhari? Was it just habit, following family custom? Or was it deeply meaningful to him? Did he pray each day, do naam jap, love Vaheguru? Or were those just incidentals that had fallen by the wayside of his life? Where was his turban? How did he feel as it was ripped from his head and his kesh was exposed?

How did he feel as he realised the mob was coming for him, chasing him down the street or dragging him from his home or his car or from the bus? What went on in his brain as the petrol was poured on him and set alight? What was he thinking as his body burned? Or was he beyond thought? Was he aware of the laughing jeering mob around him, enjoying watching his final agonising moments of life on this earth?

What was his last awareness as he died alone, surrounded by merciless thugs?

He was our brother and he was one single human being, one Sikh among the thousands murdered during the madness of those days in 1984.

He is our brother and he deserves justice.

One final, unanswered question: When?

Saturday, October 8, 2011



Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Can you imagine 2,819 innocent people killed for no reason except some other people were filled with hate?  What kind of people could do such a thing?!  Surely thousands killed could never be forgotten.  And who could possibly expect the survivors and the families to ever recover?  The old life is gone and the new one difficult and sad.

Don't say that time heals all wounds.  Time heals nothing.  If the wounds are not properly treated, they can get infected and cause a slow, painful death.  Recovery is slow and difficult and uncertain, but we are a resilient species and most are able to go with their lives, live with that huge, gaping hole that never goes away.  It is good that we are surrounded by compassionate, caring people that are willing to help with the healing process, that do not advise us to "get over it and move on."    They see that that is simply impossible.  Of course, there are those who are not caring and compassionate, who retard the healing with their coldness and even hared.  They have their own problems.  We avoid them and ignore them as best we can.

What cannot be recovered we learn to live with.  We learn to laugh and enjoy ourselves again, live full, useful lives, contribute to society, move forward.  We work hard and eventually get to the point that it all becomes a constant presence in the back of the mind, not something always in front of our eyes.  It is a part of us, but not the only part.   We rediscover our humanity, in fact find a deeper humanity than we had before.

At some wonderful point, we may realise that our beloved dead want us to be happy, not to spend our lives in gloomy mourning, but to again enjoy the simple beauty of life, a child being amazed at the glow of a lightening bug, delighted at the purr of a kitten, swooning at the deliciousness of chocolate, laughing uncontrollably at old Three Stooges movies, again sleeping the sleep of the innocent.  

We may reach that point.  It is not impossible.  It is possible.

Not forgetting.  Overcoming.  This we hope for.  This we pray for.  This is my wish for all survivors of whatever tragedy life has brought them.   Please stop a moment and sing along with Pete Seeger and his many friends.

(Note:  Pete Seeger is a great overcomer, but that's a story for a different time.)


Number of families who got no remains: 1,717
( this is heart breaking  )

I cannot imagine how it would be to have no physical remains.  Of course, I lost mine, but I saw the bodies and that is very important.  Their ashes would have been scattered anyway.  I vaguely remember some sort of memorial in Montreal, but everything at the point is foggy-blurry.  

We are a strange species.  This is so important, to have a body, a funeral.  We pretend it's for the dead, but in fact, they are gone, beyond our remembrances;  they're really for the living.

This brings to mind a song I haven't thought of in at least 40 years:

I cannot buy you happiness, I cannot by you years;
I cannot buy you happiness, in place of all the tears.
But I can buy for you a gravestone, to lay behind your head.
Gravestones cheer the living, dear, they’re no use to the dead.

Here is a 1967 music video of the song, I would guess it would qualify as one of the first music videos. 


I seen to be overflowing with meaning and depth today, eh?  I have been given (and developed) a gift of expressing myself and have a compulsion to use it now and then.  I started out thinking about how USAers make such a big deal of 911 and no compassion toward those in other places who suffered needlessly at the hands of others.  Somehow, it changed, my thoughts and attitude changed as I wrote.  I saw how much I had learned and how much I have to share with these who suffered personal losses in 911.

After 911, several people got very angry at me that I didn't show the proper horror of the events of that day.   I bought us breakfast at McDonald's and we bought a pizza to bake for dinner.  There was no way at that time I could express what was in me. I couldn't even allow myself to feel much of anything.  Not only the obvious, but also the fact that Simon's son had been killed in a car wreck in Kenya (drunk driving) on June 10 and I was trying to care for a basketcase husband.  I was not yet ready, even in 2001, to look at my own feelings, but Simon's grief and then airplanes flying into buildings was just too much.  I went numb, which appeared as coldness to others.  

Note:  Should anyone want to see the Three Stooges Pie Fight (which I highly recommend), it is on YouTube at  Best Pie Fight Ever!

Credits:  All pictures are adapted from the public domain except the chocolates which were photographed by AndrĂ© Karwath 

I do think I owe a special thanks to Erik Colbourne whose cousin's leg was broken from people running on him at the World Trade Center.  Eric ji, whoever you are, you have my love and I hope that leg healed up - and your spirit, as well.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Source:  US Department of Defence
So, it's 11 September 2011, ten years later.

CBC has been obsessing about this, even outdoing the USA networks.

These have been a very difficult time for us Sikhs in North America.  We have been snubbed, bullied,beaten and murdered in a case of mnistaken identity.  I admit that I often think that this is a willing mistake on the part of those who have chosen to hate us.   We look different - even worse, we CHOOSE to look different.  We choose not to blend in, we choose to stand out.

Still, I, at least, feel a bit guilty when I explain that I am not a Muslim, a chunni is not a hijab.  Am I implying there is something wrong about being a Muslim?  No, I am not!  But sometimes, it is taken that way, especially by Muslims.  I can usually get them to see what I mean by asking, "Would you like to be taken for a Sikh?"

I heard of a group of Christian girls and women in Kansas City, who, with much publicity, donned hijabs after the attacks with the state motive to make it impossible to look at a woman and know iof she is a Muslim.  Look at the picture below.  Can you be sure of her religion?

I have no idea how the Muslim community reacted to this, but it raised an interesting question:  How would we react as a community if a group of non-Sikhs grew kesh and tied turbans to protect us?  I'm really not certain, but it's interesting to think about.

It has been ten years, ten difficult years for Sikhs in the USA.  I will not compare the North American experience with what the Sikhs of India suffered in the last 15-20 years of the Twentieth Century.  That is a different situation, and I hope my fellow Diasporan Sikhs draw courage and commitment from those Sikhs. 

I think that this would be a good time to renew our commitment to stand for good for all humanity.  Let us live the truth of the words we say at least once every day:

Photo:  Courtesy NASA

To that end, I suggest we join with Pete Seeger, a great USAer and a great humanitarian, singing the great USA song of hope, optimism and commitment, WE SHALL OVERCOME.    I'll make it easy for you.  This video has on-screen lyrics.

CREDIT: GIRL IN HIJAB by Mohammed Ibrahim

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


My comment on what the US government is doing to the people of the USA RE:  the budget debt ceiling.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Thoughts of the Bluestar Massacre (2011)

I have a vision of the sort of life I want to live.  This song has been a part of my life since it first came out.  Here is my interpretation.  Very simple.  There are so many pictures I could have posted, fighting unbeatable foes, bearing with unbearable sorrows and all that.  I decided just to let the song speak for itself with a minimum of interference by me.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Monsters And Brothers - Thoughts on the Death of Osama bin Laden

Osama bin Laden is dead.

A simple statement.  The new reality. 

Osama bin Laden is dead.  The boogie man is no more. 

Who was Osama bin Laden and how can I react?  Was he a monster as so many believe?

There are several sorts of monsters.  Some live in the dark.  You know the type.  They hide in the closet or under your bed – or in the deepest recesses of your mind – until the lights are turned off.  Then you must protect yourself by pulling the covers up over your head and lying very, very still.  These monsters disappear you pull the covers away and confront them directly and you find they were nothing more than creations of your own mind.

Not all monsters are imaginary, though.  They are there, obvious, unavoidable, all too visible.  They have names like Aurangzeb, Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot.   They do their deeds openly, for all to see, apparently without conscience or caring.  These are the ones who run roughshod over the values that we as humans treasure, lacking compassion, seemingly finding pleasure tormenting those with whom they share they earth.  On a smaller scale, we call them bullies.  They torment those who are weaker than they, unable to defend themseves. Their deeds are malicious, finding joy in the suffering of others.  They are murderers of the spirits of others and sometimes murderers of the body, as well.    

Then there are the monsters who are invisible, living among us, unseen.  Child molesters and rapists not yet caught, undiscovered  serial murderers, corrupt and dangerous politicians and cops, more that you can add to the list.  These monsters, unlike the first type are real and they know who they are.  I do not know whether they choose to be monsters or are forced by some inner compulsion  to do their evil deeds.

There is another type of monster, the kind that has no idea that s/he is a monster at all.  The next door neighbour who hates Hindus or Christians or Muslims or Sikhs or Jews is a very naive sort of monster. Perhaps the hatred is directed at black people or  brown people or yellow people or pink (white) people.  (Those called “red” are really brown.)  Maybe the prejudice is aimed at girl children and women, or at men.  Then, of course, there are the xenophobes, those who hate foreigners or indeed strangers of any sort.    For my readers specifically of Indian background, I would include caste prejudice in this unsavoury list.  I suspect that more of us are this sort of monster than would care to admit it.  Perhaps, even I sometimes am a naive monster. 

It is possible for the naive monster to act on her/his prejudices and become a full-blown bigot and a genuine, visible monster.

Then there is the monster who so deeply believes in a cause that s/he will do whatever is necessary to realise that cause.  No matter if civilians are killed by accidents (collateral damage) or on purpose (terrorism).   No matter the damage done because the cause is all.  The end justifies the means.  Was Osama bin Laden this sort of monster?

Or was he the worst sort, the most evil who cynically leads others in a cause – perhaps for power and glory – that he himself had ceased to believe in or had never believed in?

I have no way of knowing which of these monsters he was.

Or perhaps he wasn’t a monster at all.  Perhaps he was a soul who got lost in the swirling changing mass of stuff around us that we call the World or Maya. 

Whatever he was I am not sorry he is dead.  He was a scumbag and I think the world is better off without him.  My entire being, however, is repelled at public celebrations of his death.  I understand them.  I myself felt like celebrating when Indira Gandhi was killed.  I did not celebrate, but that might have been simply because circumstances prevented it.   I was wrong then, as people celebrating now are wrong now. 

However evil and vile his deeds, are we just mouthing platitudes when we say all people are children of the same Parent, whatever name you personally use for the Creator?   I have lost a brother.  A brother who did evil deeds, a brother I am glad to be rid of, a brother I did not love, but a brother nevertheless.   It is at times like this that I find it necessary to deeply examine my own beliefs and I find myself not without hypocrisy.  I know that Indira Gandhi is my sister, but I am not yet ready to feel it. 

John Donne’s immortal lines, which I have heard no one quote at this time, come to my mind.

No man is an island entire of itself; every man 
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; 
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe 
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as 
well as a manor of thy friends or of thine 
own were; any man's death diminishes me, 
because I am involved in mankind. 
And therefore never send to know for whom 
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

I must ask myself how does the death of this man, Osama bin Laden, diminish me.  I am not yet able to answer this.


Repoublished from The Road To Khalistan

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


------------ --------- --------- --------- -
Scenario 1
Two guys are fighting and a third guy comes along, sees them and walks on.
------------ --------- --------- --------- -
Scenario 2
Two guys are fighting. Both of them take time out and call their friends on their mobiles.
Now 50 guys are fighting.
You are definitely in PUNJAB !!!
------------ --------- --------- --------- -
Scenario 3

Two guys are fighting and a third guy comes along and tries to make peace. The first two get together and beat him up.
That's DELHI
--------- --------- --------- -
Scenario 4
Two guys are fighting.
A crowd gathers to watch. A guy comes along and quietly opens a Chai-stall (like lemonade stand)
------------ --------- --------- --------- -
Scenario 5
Two guys are fighting and a third guy comes.
He writes a software program to stop the fight. But the fight doesn't stop because of a virus in the program.
--------- --------- --------- -
Scenario 6
Two guys are fighting. A crowd gathers to watch.
A guy comes along and quietly says that "AMMA" doesn't like all this nonsense. Peace settles in...

------------ --------- --------- --------- -
Scenario 7
Two guys are fighting and a third guy comes along, then a fourth and they start arguing about who's right.
You are in KOLKATA
------------ --------- --------- --------- -
Scenario 8
Two guys are fighting. Third guy comes from nearby house and says, "don't fight in front of my place, go zumwhere yelse and kyeep fighting".  
That's KERALA !
------------ --------- --------- --------- -
It two guys are courteous to each other and each one wants the other to step into the train first as respect and in that first you, first you, pahlay aap, pahlay aap, the train takes off
You are in Lucknow !!!
------------ --------- --------- --------- -
and the best one is ....
Scenario 9
Two guys are fighting. Third guy comes along with a carton of beer. All sit together drinking beer and abusing each other and all go home as friends.
You are in GOA !!!

Scenario 10
Two guys are trying to get worked up enough to fight.
A third comes along and suggests that, please, can they they all go get something to drink.
They all jog to Starbucks after agreeing to drink only Fair Trade Coffee.
Most definitely that is SEATTLE, my current city.
(A few years back, Seattle was given the title of the USA's most polite city.)
Scenario 11
Two guys are fighting.  One gives the other a bloody nose.
The first apologises and offers to drive him to the emergency room.
Then they both drink a Molson's with a third guy who just happens along.
You are anywhere in CANADA (except Quebec).
Scenario 12
Two guys are fighting.  They take a cigarette break while cursing at each other.
A third guy walks by and says, "Good morning."
They beat him up because he spoke English.
Now that's MONTREAL (where I was born.)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Tribute to the People of Japan

This is my recognition of the spirit, courage and civility of the Japanese people and their response to the recent trisaster.

This is a reminder that the Sun is always shining. Sometimes we just can't see her.

Below is the the devastation of the earthquake and tsunami, while Fujiyama soars above the tragedy. Above all, the benevolent presence of Amaterasu-no-Kami, the Sun Goddess and chief deity of the Shinto religion, gives her blessing and strength to her people, the people of Japan.

(Note: I am neither Shinto nor Japanese. If I have hurt anybody's religious sensibilities, please let me know and I will correct the matter.)

With much thanks to Derek Visser. Three of his photos were used to make the Fukushima plant here:

To the United States Air Force
the US Pacific Fleet(Navy)

I believe all other images used are in the Public Domain.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

A Conversation Between Twins

Going out of the Womb

"In the belly of a pregnant woman, two babies have a conversation. One of them is a believer and the other is an atheist. (*)

The atheist: Do you believe in life after birth?

The believer: Sure. Everyone knows that there is life after birth. We are here to grow and be strong enough and prepared for what awaits us after.

The atheist: Nonsense! There cannot be any life after birth! Can you imagine how this life would be?

The believer: I do not know all the details, but I think there is more light, and maybe we'll walk around and we’ll eat there.

The atheist: Nonsense! It is impossible to walk and eat! Ridiculous! We have the umbilical cord that feeds us. I just want to point out to you that life after birth cannot exist because our life, the cord, is too short.

The believer: I'm sure it's possible. It will just be a bit different. I can imagine how it will be.

The atheist: But nobody ever came back from there! Life simply ends due to birth. And frankly, life is a great suffering in the darkness.

The believer: No, no! I do not know exactly how our life will be after birth, but in any case, we will meet our mother and she will take care of us!

The atheist: A mother? Do you really think we have a mother? So where is she then? "

Courtesy Marina Griva & Otilia Torres Brizuela, by way of Harry Rakhraj on Facebook. 

Friday, January 21, 2011


A Slideshow of my FishWorld Tanks.  Not as elaborate as some; still they're mine!

And I have never been either to Australia or to Fiji, but they insisted on a location.

Breathing Water Slideshow: Mai’s trip from Seattle, Washington, United States to 2 cities Fiji (near Matangi Island, Fiji) and Aquarium Passage (near Ascot, Western Australia, Australia) was created by TripAdvisor. See another Australia slideshow. Take your travel photos and make a slideshow for free.

Squirrel Appreciation Day

I did not make this up. Don't get me wrong, I like squirrels. I am not one of those Nazi-types that considers them rats with pretty tails. Where we used to live they actually came into our apartment, climbed up my lrgs and ate peanuts from my hand. Fortunately, none ever bit me because then I would have had to get rabies shots. Anyway, here's the article.

I suggest you NOT celebrate by eating Brunswick stew,  although I suppose that is a somewhat perverted way of appreciating these delightful rodents. 

Go Nuts for Squirrel Appreciation Day

posted by: alicia graef
Go Nuts for Squirrel Appreciation Day

Squirrels are adventurous and bold, smart, adorable in their antics, adapt to wide ranges of fragmented habitat, drive bird feeders crazy with their raids, play a crucial role in balancing insect populations, spread seeds in forests and fields and now, with the changes of global climate, they are helping scientists understand how nature is adapting.
For all this and more, January 21 has been designated Squirrel Appreciation Day, an idea created by wildlife rehabilitator Christy Hargrove in Asheville, North Carolina.
Hargrove points out that you probably won't find any events to attend, but you can celebrate by putting food out, or learning something new about squirrels.
There are more than 300 species of squirrel. In the boreal forests of Canada’s Yukon Territory the red squirrel females are giving their secrets to scientists who are studying females endowing their offspring with genetic changes that may help their species adapt to global warming.
In 2003, a 10-year study found that female red squirrels were giving birth 18 days earlier than their great-grandmothers did, an average of six days earlier in each generation as temperatures in the region have risen about 4 degrees F during the past three decades. The increase has also lead to an abundance of pine cones that prefer drier climate.
Researchers monitored 664 females, including 325 followed throughout their lifetimes and found that natural selection is at work. Babies born earlier, some in the dead of winter as February ends in the Yukon, will be stronger and there will be less competition for territory adults left vacant the previous winter.
The discovery marked the first documentation of genetic changes in a mammal to climate change.
Red squirrels, about half the size of their plump gray squirrel relatives in the east, living in a vast empire from the northern tree line of Alaska and Canada south through the Rocky Mountains and into mountain peaks of Arizona and Midwest and Appalachian forests, squirrels have been given different names such as piney, barking squirrel, mountain boomer and chickaree for their scolding alarm.
When they’re not busy doing their job in nature, they seem to have a mischievous streak when it comes to human beings. Twice, in 1987 and in 1994, squirrels brought down the NASDAQ stock market, a nationwide network of telephones and computers where some 300 million shares are traded each day. In 1987 a playful squirrel in Trumbull, Conn, shut down the national Association of Securities dealers’ automatic quotation service for 82 minutes, keeping about 20 million shares from being traded. Seven years later, in 1994, a squirrel interrupted trading for 34 minutes by chewing through an electric company’s power line and the stock exchange’s backup power system in Trumbull.
Visit the National Wildlife Federation for a list of ways you can celebrate squirrels or become a citizen scientist by participating in Project Squirrel. You can also visit for a handful of information from building squirrel friendly feeders and rescue to humane squirrel control.