Some live by “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”
Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national.
Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp — praise song for walking forward in that light.

[excerpt from the Inaugural Poem by Elizabeth Alexander]

Getting pronunciation correct, especially when it comes to names of countries, religions and personal names is a basic sign of respect for a nation and it’s culture, and not an ‘exotic’ endeavour. I’m glad this is being discussed here. As for our politicians – anyone who claims to remotely have anything to do with foreign policy should stop critiquing Obama. Sometimes, just the pronouncing of a country’s name correctly, can evoke a gush of goodwill from that nations’ citizenry. A basic step in good ambassadorship.

Most folks in the US wouldn’t be aware of this, but it’s nearly time for us Canadians to elect our new PM – Oct. 14th actually. In June, CTV and the Globe & Mail did a survey which stated that Canadians preferred Obama over their own leaders. In an article out yesterday, the Vancouver Sun reports that it is a case of Obama-envy with 42% (a huge increase in margin!) of them choosing Obama, well ahead of the 29% that current Conservative PM Stephen Harper garnered. Ouch. Inspired by this solid enthusiam of Canadians for the US candidate, there’s a “Barack Obama For PM” website with spiffy T-shirts, complete with igloo and maple leaf logos.

Well, I wouldn’t wish it to happen, but after the results of the last US election there’s always a nagging fear of history repeating itself. So if McCain wins, at least we know that Obama can always head over to Parliament Hill in Ottawa 🙂 So to those among my friends who I know are thinking of re-locating to Barcelona, Amsterdam or Auckland if the Republicans win, perhaps you may not have to move that far after all!

Obama For Prime Minister

It’s 2008 and New Year’s greetings and best wishes to all! Heard a brief interview on NPR this morning with Eric Weiner whose book is on my reading list, called “The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World“. Besides referring to the World Database of Happiness, he mentioned a trip to Bhutan where a man’s suggestion for being happy was to set aside a few minutes a day to think about death.

In the East, the cycle of birth and death can be table talk, linked figuratively to the waxing and waning of the moon, and change of seasons. Dealing with adversity differs among people and nations. Growing up in India, it was not uncommon to hear people when speaking of their problems, end their speech with a ‘What to do?’. (Kya karega?). The phrase adorns the end of every monologue that has to do with recounting a problem or ‘situation’ and is accompanied by a shrug of the shoulder. If pressed for time, a Jaguar will not get you to your destination faster than the lowly auto rickshaw in Bombay’s crawling, leaden traffic. What to do? The telephone has been dead for over two days. What to do? Resignation, an apology that one can’t have control over all things in life. Just saying it insulates one from obsessive worrying – sort of a tension exhale. Apparently the phrase is infectious too. I had to do a quick double take and rewind when I heard it casually uttered by John McLaughlin while I watched the DVD Remember Shakti – The Way Of Beauty. There was an upcoming tour, and he was trying to locate L. Shankar the violinist who had strangely disappeared for several months, to no avail. Finally he engaged the talents of the mandolin prodigy U. Srinivas. And then he said “What to do?” With a shoulder shrug. It was strange to hear an Englishman say that – but then John in many ways is even more a desi than I am. He’s spent several years of his life in India, immersing himself in the classical music, spirituality and culture of the country. Speaking of him, I need to revisit more of his amazing works from the 70’s. Also check out his latest DVD: The Gateway To Rhythm, which explains the system of ‘konakkol’ (the art of vocal drumming and rhythms from South India).