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Saturday, November 20, 2010

GOOD TO BE HOME, An enriching experience in India

The greatest lesson my mother left for me and all of my family was a legacy of tying lose ends of the  life on a regular basis, no one knows when we croak, so let's learn to ask for forgiveness and forgive those who may have hurt intentionally or unintentionally. The idea is to attain peace of mind piece by piece continuosly and regularly.

When our turn comes to go, let's go in peace…nothing ought to bothers us anymore… we should not die in misery of wanting,  of wishing or of incompleteness. I have seen my mother go in peace as if she had completed every thing, done everything and there was nothing more to do... she and my late wife were ready to go on their next journey.

In their last few days, both of them were free from anxiety and it showed up on their faces through their smiles, the smiles became permanently set on their faces as they marched on to their permanent address. I have come to value and cherish that, both of them had one thing in common.... they forgave and sought forgiveness from every one they knew. Indeed forgiveness brings freedom to the forgiver…. It is one of the most powerful acts one can do. The Jain (of Jainism) tradition has a beautiful phrase known as “Michami Dukadam” simply meaning – reviving the relationships with a clean slate. I urge you to exercise your power of forgiveness with your family, friends, colleagues and associates.

Forgiveness is the central piece of Christianity and one of the critical aspects of Islam, as Quraan states God loves the forgiver the most. Indeed, every religion emphasizes on the aspect of forgiveness and I have written about it in one of my earlier writings on Pluralism.

It was home being with my sister, brothers and their families, nieces and nephews in Bangalore, and home again being around with my kids and the wife here in Dallas. Indeed, it was my first real Eid (Bakrid / Eid ul Adha) after nearly 32 years.  It was a delight to be with Shariff and his sisters with their families. It was a pleasure to be with my uncle Aman Mamu.  I had 11 days in all and wish I had made the time to spend one on one with every member of my family and friends; and had met my uncles and aunts and cousins.  God willing I will do that on my next visit. … Connecting with the family members and catching up with them is a good therapy.

My niece Tamanna cooked every possible favorite dish of mine she can… it was a food heaven to me. By the way with all that food, I did not gain a pound, rather lost three pounds in my 11 days stay there. My sister in law Mumtaz cooked one of my Mom's favorite dishes - lamb chops and it was delicious, and Seema, my other sister in law had Romali roti and I loved that too. I wish I had more time to enjoy all that good food every one wanted to cook...
I left Bangalore 7:50 AM on Friday, and arrived at 11:50 PM CST Friday in Dallas. (10:50 AM Saturday in Bangalore) - A total of 27 Hours of time with 2 hours and 5 hours of wait in Chicago and London respectively. Going to Bangalore was in 24 hours of time with nearly 36 hours on the calendar and four hours of wait time in London.

The one on one’s with my brother in law Noorda,  sister Dilshad, brother Shan, nephew Tanveer  and niece Tamanna was soulful, I wish I had done that with brothers Kalim and Farooq and their spouses and kids, Ehsan, Tayab, Ahmed, Shaista, Meraj and the younger ones Afsana, Farah and Aamir. I see some of me in Ehsan and I really wanted to spend time with him… and I intend to do that.  God willing we will have a family reunion in March 2012 where we all go to a retreat, leave the cell phones and businesses behind and spend time together.  Farooq and his family went to Hajj, and I am very happy for him to perform the pilgrimage.

Thanks to Jeff, my son who fulfilled much of my shortcomings by staying with the family for nearly three months. I felt he fulfilled my obligations. It was so good to be with him with the family, and we were able to catch up with a few things nearly every morning. He appraised me and reminded me to come home and I did and I am happy to have done that. The first time I went home after 14 years almost like the legendary Banvas by Shri Rama, and then I went every two years and again did not go in a long while. I hope to visit every two years for the rest of my life now.

On the last night of my stay, we were all able to pray together for the wellbeing of our family, friends and the world and I asked each one of them to forgive me, and forgave each one. Walking out with a clean slate is incredibly peaceful. My younger brother Shan was about to say that there was nothing to forgive or worry, but he accepted my counter when I said, he would get even with me with a sarcastic comment if I were in an vulnerable moment and that cleaned our slates. Justice and fairness guarantees peace of mind, and we all blow it at some point in our lives and the restoration comes from forgiveness.


Dr. Shariff initiated a purposeful meeting in Bangalore, organized by Aga Sultan and Zameer Pasha, and attended by nearly 120 key intellectuals of Bangalore Muslims and Hindus – the topic was building cohesive societies and the work needed to be done towards it. Plans are being reviewed to organize two events similar to the Unity day (www.Unitydayusa.com  ) and the Quraan Conference (www.Quraanconference.com  ). The effort is to contribute towards building a cohesive India. I admire the desire and efforts of Mr. Zameer Pasha and Mr. Aga Sultan and other Citizens … and I was thrilled to see the desire among Muslims to do so much good to their nation – them in India and many of us here in America.  I could not contain my joy to see that cohesiveness in-action while driving and being pointed out by Shariff and observing people of different traditions working together in harmony. Much of my joy outside of my family came from these observations… India is blessed with the ethos of pluralism and co-existence, it is an Indian tradition as well as a Muslim tradition that I am pleased to import and flourish in America with all my energy. I hope to go back to Bangalore to attend those conferences and be a part of the catalytic team in enhancing and enriching India’s traditions of co-existence and perhaps a few talks on the social cohesion in governance and public undertakings.

While in Bangalore, I interveiwed with My Bangalore web portal and went on  Sean Hannity's Radio show. Interestinly Sean was thrilled that I agreed with him about airport security and the need to put every one through it indiscriminately. He thought I chased Obama out of India.
My friend Shariff and I grew out from nothingness in 1968 to becoming activists of Pluralism today, a friendship of nearly 42 years.  He has a national stature and is well respected through out India for his expertise on demographics, food security, communal (social) harmony, poverty and fiscal policies of the nation. He was rated among the top 50 Economists in India.

My cousin Syed Shafiulla and I always carry on conversations on the society and I am very proud of him to have made it all on his own, and he has done it very well. He is a prime candidate for an MLA or an MP (congressman), he is the VP for the State’s Janata Dal Party and he is in the community (all communities) promoting social harmony and co-existence. We both are doing similar work in different places.

I am blessed to have the national presence in America in the spheres of Pluralism, Interfaith and Islam, and have missed appointment to diplomatic missions representing America. I am pleased to have a representative voice for the moderates in America and thanks to the TV networks and Radios for giving me the opportunity to find pluralistic solutions on issues of the day. I hope to form the “Moderate Majority” for building a cohesive America.
Visited my brother Shan’s house under construction, it was amazing to see a spacious 4 bedroom house on a 30x15 lot with one car Garage and space for parking two two-wheelers. The ground floor has a living room and the 2nd floor has a kitchen and the master with the stairs dividing the rooms, one above had two bedrooms for the kids and on the fourth floor – he called it a ‘pent house for me’ with a balcony. This would be for us; Yasmeen, Jeff, Fern and Mina when we visit there.  I was really floored with that thoughtfulness.

Later on we drove through several streets, literally every street has a home designed by him – I am pleased to see the symmetry and the fine lines, and the details he applies to each home, no home was alike. He has done something remarkable for Bangalore in the middle income range, no one, yes no one ever uses an architect, they just call the contractor and tell him to copy a house they have seen. He has created that niche for himself and people feel the need to use an Architect to design the house.

I hope someday, he can visit Rome to see the best in Architecture and symmetry and I want to be with him… we have a similar eye for what a beautiful house ought to look. I have taken pictures of one of the houses and will post it in a few days.  He has designed the offices with fire, electrical and other codes for IBM, Microsoft and all the big international names – all over India.

My sister and her family have done an amazing job in building their home, the house stands out on the street in Jakkur, clean lines and nice looking. Tanveer my nephew has done a remarkable job in furnishing the house and choosing the color scheme. I am grateful to them for building a room replete with western amenities for us. Jeff stayed there, then I did, and now when Yasmeen and I visit it is for us. I guess it is good to be an older brother to be showered by so much affection.

Ehsan, my nephew will be rebuilding my website – www.mikeghouse.net to be interactive. He showed me a few sites he has built and I hope it will be done by the end of this year.  He and I have things in common, I see myself in him when I was his age and I foresee a great future for him. He is doing very well with the Real Estate Services in my brothers firm Bangalore City Homes – doing full real estate services.

Ah, Shan and I were having a one on one time at Cafe Coffee day - sort of starbucks in India, the waitress dropped Chutney on his pants - I watched the episode in awe! He was calm, there was no anger on his face, instead he 'asked' her to bring napkins to clean it up. It was the same guy who would have thrashed her a decade ago. She was apologetic and he said something beautiful.. he said he looked at her as if she were his daughter and treated her as if it were her. Shan, I am proud of you my brother, that is the mature behavior and that is what maturity should bring in all of us - to mitigate conflicts.

My nephew Tanveer displayed remarkable confidence in his approach to life, he is only 27, but confident. Tamanna and my Sister are an incredible daughter and mother team, their relationship is so beautiful and nurtuting and caring... and they were so calm and collected in their discussions. Tamanna has unbelievable innnocence about her, good lord has programmed her to be a genuinely caring person. I wish I had more time to write about them all; beautiful people.  My gratitude goes to my Son for insisting me to come home.
There was so much more I wanted to do in Bangalore... oh well, that is a lot in 9 days, as two days went in getting my stomach set right.  I know Yasmeen would have enjoyed being the family and shopping for all the Sarees she wanted and eating all the Masala Dosas Tamanna would have cooked.

I was 191 pounds when I reached Bangalore and 188 when I left, I will be probably 187 tomorrow morning.. and hope to get down to 175 by March 2011. Thanks to Yasmeen for encouraging me to lose weight. The formula is simple - eat about 10% less, cut down on the potato, red meat, wheat and rice. I am about to write a poem about resisting food, dancing infront of the desserts, making faces at them and not eating them, while the dessert is crying out loud " eat me, eat me" and I will say, no thanks, I will take your picture.. and sing the song "Mera man tera pyaasa".. I will post it on face book... I have done that many a times and I have a few pictures from the trip, which I will post with the poem.

My favorite foods were all indigenous foods, some of them are my family dishes and Kofta/P...aratha, Biryani, Curries from Veggies, Masala Dosa... and I completely resisted eating desserts... although I tasted a tiny part of them.

Went to pray in Yelahanka Mosque for the Eid prayers, as it was raining outside... and got to meet people I have not seen  in over 40 years, I thank God for popping their names as we approached and cited each other. There was Verappa Moilly, the Federal Minister for Law addressing the congregation accompanied by Markandiah - I wanted to say hello to them but they were crowded in. Did not get to see some my old friends like Murthy, Chidanand and others.

God bless us with positive attitudes and peace making instincts. The Peace and security of individuals and nations hinges on how peaceful and safe others around us are, it is in our interest to create peace for others first, then security comes to all of us. I cannot be secure when others around me are not.

Mike Ghouse runs the Foundation for Pluralism championing the idea of co-existence through respecting and accepting the otherness of other and has dedicated his life to nurturing the pluralistic ideals embedded in Islam through the World Muslim Congress. He is a regular commentator on the TV, Radio and Print media offering pluralistic solutions to the issues of the day. He is a speaker, thinker, writer and a peace activist. Mike's work is reflected at three websites & twenty two Blogs listed at http://www.mikeghouse.net/  

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