Friday, July 31, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
One sweltering summer day, mother opened the back door and told us to go out and play and that was that. We had the run of the neighborhood and we wouldn’t be expected back home unless we were hungry or in tears.
First stop, Mrs. McClannahan, who was always doing laundry because her husband didn’t believe in electric clothes driers.
Bang, bang, bang, “Hello, Mrs. McClannahan, do you have any pretzels?”She came to the door smiling with four pretzels in her hand. “Turn this way,” she said, and we shuffled around and rotated our ears toward her pointing our chins up to heaven. Mrs. McClannahan would only give us pretzels if she could pull our ears through the holes of the pretzel. The salt scraped our tender little ears and sometimes left painful welts. It was very uncomfortable, but still worth a couple of pretzels. We turned so that she could admire our pretzel earrings. “Thanks!” We took off across the street.
Bang, Bang, Bang, “Hello, Mrs. Jones, Do you have any cookies?”
“Come on in kids. I’ve just finished a batch. They are still warm. That’s the best way, they are soft and bendy when they are warm.” She dumped a chocolate chip cookie into each of our hands with her spatula. We had to toss them from hand to hand because they were so hot. She gave us glasses of milk too.
“Thanks Mrs. Jones.” The screen door slammed behind us.
My brother, John, who had chocolate smeared around his face, followed me to the sand box in our backyard. “We are going to build a tunnel,” I directed. “I’ll go get some water.” My brother was only 5 but he usually took my instructions pretty well. If he didn’t, I would put the pressure on until he saw the wisdom of my plans. I was 2 years older than he was, after all, ergo the boss of him.
Bang, Bang, Bang, “Mom, I need to get some water.” My mother who was washing dishes while watching us out of the back window filled up a plastic tub of water and handed it to me.
“I’m mopping the floor so don’t come in for a while,” She said.
“Thanks Mom.” I carried the water back to the sand box.
The tunnel was a success. We built a couple of roads and poured water into moats, drove some little cars around the tracks...
“Let’s go get some mulberries!” I suggested. The berries felt slimy and got stuck between our toes as we tried to knock more of them out of the tree over our heads with branches.
“I want to go in,” my brother said. Our feet were purple with smashed mulberries, our toe nails black. There was no way mom was going to let us into the house like that. Anyway, I didn’t want to go in. I had to think quickly to keep my brother happy.“I have some money,” I said. “Let’s go to Shoey’s.” His face lit up.
Shoey’s was a candy store about three quarters of a mile from our house. We hiked past the apartments, down one hill, and up another. The sidewalk burned our bare feet, but we could jump into the grass to cool them down. I was careful to point out the broken glass and bottle caps to my brother, but our feet were pretty tough from a summer of no shoes. We still had to run across the asphalt streets, though.
It probably took us 25 minutes to get to Shoey’s. I hadn’t bothered to mention to my mother where we were going. I thought that she might not agree with my plan, and I also thought that we would be back before she ever noticed that we had gone. She would have thought that we were at a neighbor’s house. I had 10 cents and that was at least enough to buy us some penny candy. We could even get a small chocolate bar and split it. While I was busy making the decision for us, my brother seated himself on the floor behind me where he found the Hostess display. There were Ho Hos and Ding Dongs and Cherry and Apple pies and so much more. Deep in thought about a tootsie roll versus a tootsie pop, I didn’t notice my brother opening a package behind me. He had a quarter of a pie consumed before I realized what had happened.
Mr. Shoey, looked sharply over his glasses at me. “I think that your little brother has made the decision for you,” he said.
I looked around and said, “NO!” but it was too late.
“Mr. Shoey,” I said very worried. “I only have 10 cents.”“Well, I think you are going to have to get your mother then,” he said. “OK, John,” I said to my brother. “We have to go home and get Mom now.”
“No,” said Mr. Shoey. “You need to go get your mother and your brother will stay here with me until you come back with her.”
Darn that John! He just ruined my great plan. I ran most of the way home but I made sure to work up some good tears before I pounded on our back door. Mom was always a bit softer if I looked really distressed about my sins.
Mom dashed out the door with pocket book in hand and drove me back to Shoey’s to collect my brother. When we arrived we found him surrounded by a pile of at least a dozen opened packages of partially-eaten treats.
The pain of my mother’s tongue lashing was far worse than the couple of whiffs with the paddle ball paddle.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
When I was sick in Nepal I paid $3 for the same antibiotics that cost me $70 in the US. While I lived in Japan, where I had nationalized health insurance, these same antibiotics cost me $5 and the doctor's visit $15. When I was sick in Tibet/China the visit to the hospital plus the antibiotics cost me $3, I had no health insurance while traveling.
We are not so different from each other. Every person is born and gets sick and will eventually need health care. The differences between us have to do with the circumstances into which we are born. We all need to contribute to health care and we should all have equal access. Anything less is immoral.
Health Care Tragedies I have experienced in the United States:
One of my friends gave up everything including her home and her profession so that she could receive medicaid for Myasthenia Gravis.
My 52 year young neighbor died of Breast Cancer because she didn't seek help quickly enough. Leaving her teenage children without their mother. Uninsured, she waited too long to seek help.
I ended up with no health insurance during my first pregnancy because my husband's employer let the insurance lapse during a financial downturn for his company. We didn't know that we were uninsured.
Our baby sitter had a catheter left in her for over a half year because she couldn't afford to have it removed. She had to spend all of the money she had saved for her son to go to college to take care of her kidney stone. The hospital put in the catheter in an emergency situation, but would not remove it until there was another emergency. She was told she was poor but not poor enough.
I don't know anyone who doesn't have a similar or much worse story to tell about the American Health care system. It is not that people can't get good health care, but they may have to lose everything, fight in court, and suffer a great deal of unnecessary pain to get treated. In the end, the public already pays for the uninsured, but they pay too much for this care and too late.
Let's do the right thing and get everyone the help they need now without the stress, fear, and the total destruction of their wealth and family well being.
Here is a link to Bonnie, a Canadian's first hand experience of universal health care. Also, you can visit Wikipedia's comparisons of different countries' health care systems.
(My brief moment on the soap box.)
Monday, July 13, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Dear Aunt, Uncle, and our brothers.
How are you all? We all are doing well over here and we wish that you are doing well over there.
Finally! Monsoon is here... Farmers have already planted rice in their fields. Some years back, maybe about 6-7 yrs, we had a different Kathmandu... Big stretches of paddy fields gave life to this once beautiful shrine. But now there are only patches of those just giving those memories some fuel. We had a very dry spell this year and farmers are worried that they will not be able to yield anything at all.
My brother has left for Dhunche today to make his passport. He is currently taking classes on IELTS and working in one of our uncle’s travel and tours offices. He plays football in the morning with his friends and spends his whole day working and learning. I am also spending my days learning and working... I wake up at 4 in the morning go for a nice morning walk and come back to spend one hour on yoga. In the day, I go to the shop and help father in his work and sometimes I manage to go to our uncle’s office as well.
Yesterday, I managed to watch Barack Obama giving his speech and I was delighted to hear his message for the younger generation. We all are an active part of our society and each and everyone can be a part of the story of change. Every time we watch him giving his speech he makes us realize our dreams.
Aunt, after a long thinking and working I have decided to pursue my further education in Bangalore, India. I am choosing Biochemistry as my major and I hope I will be able to pursue my Masters in the United States. My brother is now working for his application to US, he is looking for colleges and I am here to help him with his application. I have already started working on my application in India and I hope I will be there after a month or two. My brother is really good in mathematics and I hope that he will be going for Business as his major subject. When I joined my high school I already knew that I would pursue further education in biochemistry so I am really excited.
We don’t have any words to describe how thankful we are to you. Our cricket team is not active at the moment... some members are in the US and some are busy with their own life but they still have those rings you made for us and I don’t know how many have passed the rings on to other young people. We all love you a lot and there are no words to describe how much we are thankful to you. We all love you all.
Love from Nepal
Thursday, July 2, 2009
When I was 11, in an attempt to discover the meaning of life, I picked up a the Bible and read it cover to cover. In the beginning, I wondered if my destiny was to be the next Virgin Jeri (My real name). Could I be good enough and devout enough to give birth to Christ's second coming? But, by the time that I reached the end of the book, I had decided that there were a few bits that I would have written differently. I won't go into details, but simply refer you to Elaine Pagels.
Throughout my life this search for purpose and meaning has been a recurring theme and has led me to some interesting adventures and explorations into different religions, but I am a real Jesus fan, and so I have always returned to his teachings as my foundation.
Recently, I was walking on the farm and looking at the sky and wondering about what my purpose in life was when a sign appeard in the heavens above me. It was a goose, and I had to laugh at myself. What a silly goose I am. I am so wrapped up in my own ego. The geese come and go with the cycles of the seasons. They don't spend time trying to be more important than other geese, they simply try to survive and care for their families and their communities. No time is wasted on wondering about God's divine plan made especially for them.
There have been times in my life when I have been stuck. I thought that if I didn't know my purpose I would not be able to fulfill it. Instead, I have discovered that all I really need is to decide what I want to do and what I am capable of and then go for it. My purpose is my choice and if I choose poorly, I can always try again.
Just my thoughts. I know some of you may think quite differently. Peace.