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Which normal person uses the word ‘pensive’ these days? Isn’t that a word only for the poets to use? Are we expected to awaken that poet within us?  Hmm… let me don my poet’s cap and give it a try:

 

When in a sudden ditch I fall,
Gravity pulls and makes me tumble;
‘God Oh My’ I hear me call,
Words all pouring out in a jumble.
Thinking quickly on my feet,
My best I try, to grab a chair;
Mind you, that is no mean feat,
When both my feet are in the air!

Pensive
The chair performs a somersault,
Landing near me upside down;
Now if you think that’s all my fault,
Stop thinking, ‘cause it makes you frown.
Wanting not to end in a thump,
I turn right and left to twist my fate;
Suddenly hitting a dead tree stump,
Sitting in seemingly a pensive state!

Flourish means to bloom or to blossom, metaphorically alluding to a situation where a person is said to thrive. When I hear the word ‘flourish’ I imagine a businessman who is successful and making a lot of money; but I also know that a man could be flourishing without owning any business and without making anywhere near the kind of millions that a successful businessman makes.

May you be washed in milk and may you have plenty of offspring

In India there is an oft heard blessing (in Hindi language) that goes “Dhoodho nahao, pooto phalo” which literally translates to “May you be washed in milk and may you have plenty of offspring”. This timeless blessing that has been passed down from the ancient times tells us that people have always desired to be prosperous. A person with limited resources would find it difficult to afford enough milk to have a bath in.

Milk Bath

The 57-feet high statue of Bahubali carved from stone in year 983 AD being washed in milk.

He would also need to have enough food to feed his expanding progeny; but that was a two-way street: the more children he had, the better equipped he was with all those extra hands working to produce more food. A person with many children was also thought of as flourishing in the business of life!

In the twenty first century it is very common to hear of millionaire businessmen who are flourishing; but to find the other kind of person flourishing in life is not so common. I was fortunate to witness one such life in Saudi Arabia. My Saudi sponsor, who had sponsored my stay in Saudi Arabia for nearly thirty years before breathing his last in December 2014, was survived at the time of his death by his four current wives and thirty seven living children. Eighteen girls and nineteen boys.

Love expands in direct proportion to the number of wives!

My sponsor was a Bedouin, a simpleton and a kind man at heart. He constantly chided me for having only one wife and just two children. His advise to me was to get myself another woman, if my wife was unwilling to bear any more children.

Saudi Bedouin with children

A Saudi Bedouin with his children

He just could not understand what was stopping me. I tried telling him that I loved my wife and that it would not be possible for me to love another woman the same way. He used to present me with counter arguments that was his own version of the Parkinson’s Law (that work expands to fill the time allocated for it) by telling me that my love would expand proportionately to the number of wives I had!

There was not question about it: my sponsor did flourish, and his family continues to Flourish.

Who I am, or what makes me who I appear to be, will depend somewhat on your perspective. Like the story of the blind men and the elephant, I may appear as a different person from different angles. There are many facets to explore. What indeed does define me? Is it my name? gender? age? where I was born? where I was raised? Or may be all of the above put together?

I was born in 1958 to Indian parents who had migrated from Kerala to Bombay. My father worked as a clerk at the Western Railways HQ at Churchgate, an my mother worked as a primary school teacher. I was raised in a suburb called Andheri (east), and did my schooling at Holy Family High School near Chakala.

Holy Family High School 1970s

Holy Family Church. Part of the school can be seen to the left. 1970s.

After a couple of years at Parle College, I moved to IIT Madras, where I did one year of Civil Engineering before shifting over to Bomaby IIT for Mechanical Engineering.

Since 1984 I have been working in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. My wife joined me here in 1988. We have had two sons, one born in 1993 and the second one born in 1998. Both of them have left home and joined universities, one in USA and the other in UK, leaving my wife and me to watch over our empty nest.

I have a day job working as the general manager of a tire retreading and radiator repairing factory in Riyadh. My wife is a high school teacher and coordinator.

I have wanted to write ‘slice of life’ stories for my two children, so that they know what life was like when I was their age. I will try to make a small beginning through these blogs, trying to dig deep into my memory and to paint a word picture as best as I could of those bygone days.