https://embed-ssl.ted.com/talks/emilie_wapnick_why_some_of_us_don_t_have_one_true_calling.html“>TED talk by Emilie Wapnick: Why some of us don’t have one true calling
Dear Mum and Dad,
When I was younger, you didn’t want me to care so much about those outside the privileged inner circle. Now I’m older, and you wish I cared more.
The thing is, I’m not going to be able to do things at the pace you did them. I might never do the things you did. I might do many things you didn’t.
I might spend my whole life “finding” myself. I might never truly know what I want. Or want what I know. Or I might want the things and people and experiences you don’t approve of or don’t fathom. Or, at some undefined point, I might want exactly the kind of life you want for me.
I need support from you. I am still an idealist, hiding under covers of cynicism, waiting to throw them off and dance in the rain while the sun promises a rainbow at an opportune moment. But my idealism is fragile. I don’t need you to be the voice of my worst fears- I have inhabitants in my mind who prepare me for the worst foreseeable outcomes always. I need you to tell me that in some places the sun does always shine, and the conditions are just right. I’m nearly at the start of my fourth decade, but I still need you to tell me things can be okay, that the world can be a wonderful place. I want to believe that it can be, and if you say so, I know I will.
I’m finally coming to terms with things I can’t change- my height, for instance. The fact that I allowed other people’s ideas of what women can and cannot do to define some of my major life choices. I know I can’t hold you responsible for issues like these- and I’m working on that. In my own way. In my own time.
Day 85: Why MOOC’s do (or don’t) work
It’s probably not so well known
That not all expats aren’t looking to go home.
In fact some would prefer
To be back where they were:
Their own little village or town.
I live in a land with no tax
But that doesn’t mean I’m relaxed
I have no pension
So there is some tension
Cos I don’t know just when I’ll be axed.
I go home ’bout once in a year
With presents for those I hold dear
For some friends and some family
And for some who can’t stand me
Just to prove that I’m better than they’re.
Day 84: explain yourself to your parents (fiction/non-fiction)
Happy birthday, little cousin Kevin. I hope your first birthday was a lovely, happy, comfortable day.
Today is Little Boy’s birthday.
Do you know what he’s going to do?
His Mama and Papa and Big Brother are going to dress him up in new clothes.
They are going to kiss him and tickle him and make him laugh.
The whole family is going to come over with presents and food, and they are all going to sing for him.
Mama and Papa, and maybe Big Brother too, will cut a cake and put a little taste of it in Little Boy’s mouth.
Big Brother is going to get cake all over his face, because that is fun. Little Boy will smile and gurgle at his funny Big Brother.
Later, after the food has been eaten, and the cake has been polished off, Mama and Papa will put both their sons to bed with a silent blessing and heartfelt prayer.
Day 83: A series of limericks about expat life
I can point out to you the places where the houses my ancestors lived in once stood. I can show you land that once belonged to them, that has been lost for better or worse.
I know the names of my grandparents’ grandparents and the villages they came from.
I can list the countries they travelled to, the places they worked in, far away from their homes, sometimes eking out a living, sometimes doing fairly well.
I might not speak the “native” language very well, but I bleed rust-red and salty, like the mud that supports fruit-bearing trees around my home, trees planted by people whose names have been lost, but whose auras still linger.
I do not currently live there, but what happens to my quasi-village still affects me.
I dream of home, and a better world, and me in it.
Day 82: Write a story for a younger cousin (0-10)
When creating a t-shirt design, the most (adjective) thing is to (verb- infinitive) the person who will (verb- infinitive) it.
(Pronoun) can (verb- infinitive) a (adjective) t-shirt with (adjective) tools ranging from a (adjective) pen and paper to a (adjective) computer programme like Paint or Photoshop.
Next, (pronoun) (verb-present) which medium of transference will suit the idea. It could be embroidery, painting, or printing. Again, (pronoun) should (verb- infinitive) what the user would prefer.
But, as with most things, (pronoun) can only know what the t-shirt will look like once (pronoun) has been (verb- past participle), and once the user has (verb- past participle) (adjective) feedback.
Mad Lib creation is like designing training- you know if it’s any good only when you have had a chance to test it.
Day 81: Life as a native (child of the soil)
“There are no adventures left to have,” said Cousin number 9. He flopped down on his bed with a melodramatic sigh, like all was lost.
Eyebrows raised, Cousins 1-6 looked up from their game of Monopoly. (Cousin 2 briefly considered if she had enough money to put a hotel on Pall Mall.)
“What?” asked Cousin 9. “There are no islands that have not been discovered; Space is not exactly a frontier anymore; time travel doesn’t exist-” a sharp intake of breath from some cousins, and a roll of the eyes from 9 “- and there are no battles to fight.”
Cousin 1 regarded the disillusioned youngest one very seriously. She raised herself up on her elbow, and said “Then make your own adventures. You could learn a skill that only few know, and use it to travel the world.”
Cousin 2, understanding what her elder sister was trying to do, added “You could dive into your own imagination and fish for pearls of adventure there.”
Cousin 3 put a skinny arm behind his head. “You could see what the state has to offer that you haven’t seen before.”
Cousin 4, holding her Monopoly piece-the iron- aloft, said, “You could read about the world’s religions and see which one works for you.”
Cousin 5, the eldest brother of cousin 9, rubbed the scar under his eye. “You could float with the current and see where it takes you”
Cousin 6, cousin 9’s only sister, put a hotel on one of her properties. “You could build something for yourself.”
Cousins 7 and 8 had come in from helping their father wash one of his buses.
Cousin 7 shrugged at everyone, but mainly in the direction of his little brother. “You could be like Dexter- the scientist, not the murderer.”
Cousin 8 pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “You could put yourself in someone else’s shoes.”
Cousin 9 moved over to the bed where the bigger ones were, picked up the dice, rattled them in his fist, threw them and waited to see what they would turn up.
Day 80: write the text of a Mad Lib, leaving out adjectives, pronouns and half the verbs
If there is just one word that can be added to every single dictionary in every language in the world during my lifetime, let it be a neutral personal pronoun, preferably one that isn’t awkward to use.
I think humanity has reached the point at which it should neither be forced to use the patriarchal, all-encompassing he nor should it feel compelled to ‘advance’ to the apologetic-like behaviour of using she everywhere to compensate for the millennia of suppression and oppression of the feminine voice.
Neither gender owns the narrative. They both form it and shape it and guide it and grow it.
This is where Hindi has one up on English- the word वह can be he or she or even it.
Day 79: write a story for a younger cousin, in the age group of 11-15 years
I have this mustard t-shirt in a size 22
I know it’s big for me, but I like the way it looks.
It’s made of cott’n and polyester and it is far from new
Though I’ve looked after it so well, you can’t tell if that’s the truth.
I never bleach it or dry clean it, cos that’s against the rules
And if and when I iron, the heat’s a dot away from cool.
When it is time to wash it, the water’s 40 degrees max
With the tee inside out to protect the design printed in black.
If my drying option’s the machine, it must be normal and low heat,
Or I dry it in the shade to save electricity.
Day 78: Write a pitch for a word you think should be included in the dictionary
Written especially for my little cousin Josiah, who turns 16 today. He didn’t get much time with my maternal grandfolks, aka Mummy and Papa, because they passed away when he was quite small. Here’s a small snippet of who they were, Jos. Happy birthday!
Mummy was fifteen years younger than Papa. He was the younger son and second youngest child of a big family- big both in terms of the number of family members, and status in his village. She was the youngest daughter and antepenultimate child of an equally large and well-known family from a village farther north.
She said she wasn’t sure about marrying a man so much older than herself, but since their families had known one another for a long time, and were neighbours in Bombay, she decided to go ahead and accept his proposal of marriage.
I’m glad she did.
They were wed in a Bombay that had recently lost the sparkle of being a jewel in the crown of the British Empire. Their wedding pictures – those that I’ve seen- are black and white, with a wonderful clarity that I sometimes have trouble achieving with my smart phone. Mummy has a slightly peaked headdress, and a veil that fans out just a little behind her. Papa looks dashing in his tails and top hat.
Together they had four children- two boys and two girls, of whom my mum is the second child-, lived in three countries- India, Pakistan, and Kenya-, were expats and then foreign-returns, Portuguese and then Indian, spoke several languages including English, Konkani, Swahili, and what my grandmother referred to as Hindustani, had many trades, held and loved eight grandchildren (the ninth came after Mummy passed away), and built a home that welcomed family and friends from all parts of the world.
Mummy passed away about fifteen years ago. A year before that, she and Papa celebrated 50 years of being married. Papa stuck around for a few more years, and was four years short of becoming a centenarian when he passed away.
They were awesome. They made us feel loved. They fed us. They told us stories. They looked after my sister, me, and all our little cousins whenever it was necessary. I know they were fallible human beings, but they did their best to make up for it.
P.S. Mummy- I know you preferred Grandma as your honorific, but some habits die hard even 15 years later.
Day 77: Pick a garment and elaborate the care instructions in verse