Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Watering Your Trees?

When the Houston heat kills, most of us at work scramble to find a tree to go sit under. The hour passes under its rich foliage, with mouthfuls and giggles, and then we walk away with content to our overly air-conditioned offices. The tree is left alone.

Then Ike arrives and decides she does not like the tree , kills it, brings it down, and leaves. When we return to work, we see the tree is dead, groan and grumble, and find another upright tree to sit under. The dead tree is left alone. And ultimately gotten rid of by some random stranger who never sat under it, ever.

This is what we do with some people, too. We take from them, just like we take from the tree, and leave without saying anything. Yeah...sometimes, we do say thank you, and then quickly forget about what they gave us, assuming that it was our birthright to receive what we did in the first place. We assume that the janitor gets paid for sweeping the floor and needs no acknowledgment. We assume that the auto driver is doing his job when he takes us from place to place safely and yell at him when he asks for a rupee more than what you think it should be. We assume that the maid is supposed to replenish our beauty supplies when out of them and get irritated and have a bad day when she does not.

We take a lot from others. We give them back a lot too but not necessarily what they want. Irritation is not what they asked for. Nor cold looks or admonishment. Sometimes, all that it takes for the tree to flourish is some nourishment. If you think the tree SHOULD give you shade, it is your duty to make sure that the tree remains capable of doing so.

Go and thank someone today who made your day once upon a time. Go and thank someone today who made your life easier once upon a time. Go and thank someone from who you learned a valuable life lesson.

Go water your tree today.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Movie Stills and Reviews

Ike released last Friday and still has people awed by its performance. Rated R, this movie is a sure-shot hit. Dramatic, brilliant, and a tearjerker. Guaranteed to run for at least another 6 weeks if not more!!

Here are some movie stills captured by an amateur photographer on a mobile phone.

This is what the university of Houston (and the roads of Houston) looks like these days.

This is what remains of a once beautifully landscaped restaurant.

Traffic lights are not working. Not only that, some of them are on the roads.

Some houses are damaged beyond recognition.

Broken fences.

For more information about the movie, you can visit or Here is a brief snapshot of what life was before the movie and how it is today.

As of today, 1.93 million residents in Houston still do not have power and water. Grocery stores (if open) have signs up that say "You can shop but there is no light. Only buy canned foods." Essentially, all the shelves are empty. Gas stations have long lines often forcing customers to wait for hours.

Some people at work complained about their windows breaking and causing puddles in their homes. Some talked about the roof blowing away. Some complained of car damages. The people who are not complaining are those stunned beyond words. Their relatives are missing, their homes are swept away, some even saw their family members being engulfed by the waves and swept away into the sea.

The world is becoming a dangerous place to live in. Hurt, tears, grief everywhere..either due to a bomb blast, hurricane, or floods. These movies continue being made whether we like them or not. Sometimes they are super hits. Sometimes flops. I prefer the latter.

Let's pray for those affected by all these movies today and everyday. Thank you.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

A Dramatic Movie

On early Saturday morning, she arrived. Hurricane Ike came with a majestic power that left many powerless, helpless, and some without even a real life anymore. At precisely 2 am, we decided to go to bed because a friend thought "the storm was not fun" and no point staying awake for. He wanted drama. He wanted howling winds. He wanted rainfall. He wanted excitement. Nothing happened. Not until 4 am, at least.

And then he got a blockbuster hit. We lost electricity. The winds howled like I had never heard them howl before. It was like one of those horror movies that you want to watch but do so with your eyes shut through most of it, except here, there was no obvious blood or gore (unless trees swaying from one side to the other count as gore). At least when a horror movie ends, you can turn a comedy movie on and try and forget about it. This was different. I woke up to worse horror. Trees had died, blocking roads, traffic signals had either changed direction or fallen on the street, roofs and fences were shattered, and I felt that I was walking through the sets of a disaster movie. It felt like a scene from a CNN news broadcast that I am used to watching on tv. This time it was real. And the same excitement-seeking friend said, "yaar itna nuksaan nahi hua." I guess he wanted a blockbuster hit that lasts for 365 days. Little does he realize that it may very well be one for those who are homeless today thanks to Ike.

Amidst all this, I get a message from someone asking me to come online for free counseling. Yet another someone asks me why I am not publishing his comments. And then there was a someone who called me to ask me "How is Dayton?". There was a friend grumbling that he ran out of cigarettes and that the stores were closed. Another someone was worried that his taxes would go up while the government tries to restore the 4th largest city in the United States. And then someone else who thought it was funny to say "Why are you not online? Did Ike damage your internet?" Everyone was starring in their own dramatic movies assuming that it would entertain their audience.

Today as I write thist post, I am seated at a friend's place who is among the 1% of Houston's population who has power and water. I am amongst the 99% who does not have power and has no chance of having it restored for another 4 weeks at least. We are surviving on frozen foods and hoping that we don't run out of it. And yet, life has to resume on Tuesday. I don't know when this dramatic/horror movie will end for me. I move to my own apartment tomorrow night. I wonder how it will be go to work without showering and wearing unironed clothes and eating candlelight dinners by myself. But that's not all.

Someone else at this moment is probably thinking how it will be for them to live in their own home once again. They are starring in a horror movie that someone else is watching seated in their very own home theater.

Monday, September 8, 2008


Yesterday, the weather was perfect. The skies were blue, the waters green, the sun shone bright, and a cool breeze blew. Yes, it did seem picture-perfect as I enjoyed every minute of my lazy afternoon watching little children jump joyously, splashing water at each other in the lake. Nearby, their parents watched them lovingly, enjoying a beer or two, and basking in the sun, wearing the bare minimums. Couples held hands and kissed in the water while I sat there on the grass with a smile on my lips, thanking God for a wonderful day.

And then it happened. On my way back home, I began to dread Monday. Monday blues are something that we all commonly experience at some point in our lives, whether or not we love our jobs or whatever else we do for a living. I began to groan in my head at the thought of waking up to a shrill alarm clock at 7:20 am, dressing up to go to work, juggling my way through horrible traffic, and going through boring training seminars for half the day. For dinner, I stopped by at my favorite cafe to eat a healthy sandwich and enjoyed it thoroughly as I bit into the greens smothered with feta cheese and a mediterranean dressing. The moment I set foot into my car, my Monday blues returned.

I came back home and turned on the TV, a luxury that I have now begun to afford after my school days. And yet, I could not focus. I kept glancing at the clock, wishing bedtime never came. However, as hard as I tried, I was unable to change my destiny. The clock did strike midnight. My eyes did get droopy. I did fall asleep. And I did get up on time to go to work today.

As I write this post, another Monday has passed by. I now await the weekend and am counting my days till Friday. But then I wonder, what is the point? In waiting for the Friday, I am losing out on all the experiences of joy that I could have encountered today or might tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that too.

In waiting for the future, am I spoiling my present? Did I miss out on experiencing the full joy of hearing from someone I had not in ten years today? Did I miss out smiling genuinely when the cashier at the gas station told me that I looked beautiful today? Did I miss out on the great sunset while driving back home on Sunday evening?

Some of us are truly living in the future with the hope of making it better without realizing that in doing so, we are losing out the opportunity of enjoying an already good present. We have to live in the NOW. Not in the THEN. They don't say "tomorrow never comes" without a reason.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Are You Multi-Faceted?

Last week, when I wrote up an intake interview of one of my clients, the first sentence read as...

"Client is a 22-year-old heterosexual White female, majoring in Biology, currently in her senior year, seeking counseling for issues related to depression."

Essentially, I captured her age, gender, sexual orientation, major, educational qualifications, and emotional problems in one sentence. But was that all there was to her? Was she only a young white female majoring in biology, about to graduate, and all that jazz? NO. She was much more than that.

She played the guitar. She had grown up poor. She had been sexually abused as a child. Her boyfriend is in prison. She has a cute dimple. She likes pizza. She has a heart. She loves her boyfriend. She is all that and much more.

Sometimes we focus too much on what we see and less on what we do not see. They say "seeing is believing". But then they also do not see God and yet believe in Him. So maybe not seeing can also be believing. And maybe, sometimes it would do us good to see the entire picture and not just the small dot on a big white poster board.

This post has been inspired by Neeku who beat herself up and called herself a bad person who failed in multitasking. Frankly, I think a lot of us do that...a lot of us are harsh on ourselves (and others) when we do not meet with our own expectations and standards. We forget that that one mistake or failure is not the only thing that makes us.

So what if you failed a test? So what if you lost your driving license? So what if you burned the vegetables while daydreaming? So what if you did not understand the joke? So what if you cannot drive? So what if you put on weight? So what? That does not make you a BAD PERSON. Maybe a bad test-taker, maybe a clumsy person, maybe inattentive, maybe a bit slow, maybe challenged in your motor skills, maybe impulsive....but not a BAD PERSON. Likewise, so what if the person next door wears mini skirts too short for your taste? So what if your classmate got her belly button pierced? So what if your best friend only eats out and does not cook? So what if your blogger friend forgot to give you an award? Maybe it is a flaw that they have, maybe not. But it definitely does not make them a BAD PERSON.

Remember friends. You are all multi-faceted. You all have wonderful qualities. You all have some weaknesses but are also blessed with some strengths. Do not let your weaknesses define you. Do not hate yourself (or anyone else) for slipping and committing an error. We were not all born perfect and learn through our mistakes. So go forth and appreciate all that you do. Be nice!