Monday, August 16, 2010
No, I did not fall of the edge of the globe last week. I took a vacation.... Rare! I decided to make it a real one, and unplug (mostly. Sort of). Details on that forthcoming.
The main event last week, however, was the wedding of my good friends, Seetha and Ananth. Seetha and I first met at age 8, when we were in the South Shore Children's Chorus together (embarrassing close-up above; yes, that is a giant bow on my head). We hardly knew one another then, but we were two of the choir's youngest members. Two moves later (for both of us: her to India and back, and myself to Otterburn Park and then Bedford) we went to high school together for four years. She, Manasi, Manasi (known as Manu) and I (acronym: SAM²) were inseparable for the most of these years. We later went on to Marianopolis together (3x Health Sciences, 1x Liberal Arts... guess who that was?).
Seetha and her family mean a great deal to me. Seetha and her parents, particularly, have been tremendous influences on my life. She and her father both told me tales from Hindu mythology (Seetha telling them as bedtime stories during sleepovers), and her father taught me much about religion and philosophy that stays with me to this day. He is one of the most humble and kind men I know, and a true teacher. The evidence is here, although "he does not think of himself as a personification of Gandhi (as the article alludes to) but a devout follower of his teaching." He maintains that "sometimes we get a bigger honor before we deserve the whole of it; then for that we have to work hard to deserve it. At other times we work hard but it goes unrecognized. My case belongs to the first."
Her mother cooked for me: her unbelievably delicious meals were my first introduction to exotic cuisine (I know, it's not exotic anymore, really!). She patiently taught me what was what, how to eat with my hands, and oversaw my initiation into the realm of spicy food (I can handle a lot more than people think ... appearances are deceptive!). Under her tutelage, I sampled biryanis and mutton and butter chicken, and I scarfed up more samosas and naan than I care to admit. Knowing that butter chicken was my favourite (but only made her way, more South Indian than North, which is what you commonly get more of in restaurants here), she always made extra and sent a spare Tupperware full to school with Seetha for me, which I scarfed in ecstasy on the bus ride home on more than a few occasions. I watched her teach Seetha bharata natyam in preparation for her arangetram with a patience and determination I admired as a dancer myself. Both Seetha's parents accepted me into their home and their lives for many years (well, once they figured out this "Alex" person Seetha kept referring to at age 14 wasn't a boy... and Uncle did insist on calling me Alexis!) unquestioningly, and with a warmth and caring that I cherish to this day.
As for Seetha... well, there are not enough words to express how I feel about her, and about our friendship, which has been a wonderful blessing for many years. She takes after both her parents in her generous and warm nature. She is one of the most loyal people I know, and she is utterly BS-free; ask her opinion, and you will get it. She is straightforward, and she never once stooped to the petty machinations of high school. I am eternally indebted to her for being the person referred to in paragraph 7 of this post. Over our 16+ years of friendship, I have been honoured to watch a self-conscious tomboy flourish and grow into a graceful, talented woman who is comfortable in her own skin. Her wedding was a testament to the fact that she has touched many lives, and made many of us better people simply by knowing her. Ananth has much to be grateful for.
Reuniting with SAM², and spending time with her family this weekend again has been a joy. The title of this post is my wish for you newlyweds, Seetha.