In my previous blog, see below, "Remembering Our Brothers and Sisters," I speak about my love for New York City. But what truly captures this city's ethos for me is the Statue of Liberty, for she personifies American freedom, law, justice, and peace.
India became a free nation and obtained independence some twenty-plus years before I was born. Yet I grew up chanting our freedom fighters' names from the age I could speak. My love for India was deeply instilled in me by my late father and his brothers, my parental uncles.
My dad had an interesting background. He grew up in colonial India and did almost all of his schooling from a very tender age away from his caring parents in boarding schools, for back then, decent education in his native village was nonexistent.
After completing his undergraduate studies in mathematics, he moved to the United Kingdom to study electrical engineering, following which he settled into working for Philips, the electronics company in Belgium.
It was during this time he happened to attend a conference that hosted speakers like Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (India's 1st Prime Minister), who spoke with great passion and urged young Indians to return to India and serve the newly freed and independent nation that needed their talent and workforce. My father was so moved by this plea that he relocated back to India for good.
In subsequent years, despite opportunities to immigrate to other parts of the world, dad made India his sole home and was devoted to his commitment to India's emerging infrastructure.
Growing up as a child, for that matter, even as a teenager, I never thought I would leave India in a million years. But then I fell in love and followed the love of my life across the globe to make a home here in the United States of America.
After thirty-four years, I can say with all my heart that my love for America parallels that of India. And I am truly grateful for this as in the beginning; I was homesick for India every month; I would pester Russill about wanting to go back to mother India.
Now, I would be remiss if I were not to pay homage to our late friend and brother, Wayne Teasdale, for he was the one who helped us understand the American soul and value all that is good and decent here. Decades later, I can still hear him speak of his love for America with reverence and awe.
Wayne was a phenomenal person. He was a lay Catholic monk, a brilliant teacher, and an active social justice champion, among his many other remarkable accomplishments.
Br. Wayne (many people referred to him as such) was the kind of person who could be friends with the Dalai Lama, as well as a homeless soul. And indeed, he was a friend to both. His sense of humor was huge, and most of all, he had a heart of gold.
If you are unfamiliar with his work, here are a couple of books that might inspire you:
The Mystic Heart
A Monk In The World
In the short vlog below, Russill and I share our recent visit to the Statue of Liberty. Though we both have been to New York several times in the past, we had yet to make the time to visit Liberty Island.
Oh, by the way, those of you who have never been to New York City and have refrained from doing so due to rumors of New Yorkers being rude, I am here to vouch they are not so! We were deeply touched from the moment we arrived at Penn Station to when we flew out of the airport New Yorkers were kind and helpful. This was true even in the Subways. But then, I am a city girl, or at least I like to think so. :)
NYC is also a food lover's paradise, delightfully packed with restaurants, food stalls, and trucks representing almost all the nations in the world.
Our experience at Liberty Island was multi-faceted, meaning we were elated to be in the presence of this colossal statue, almost giddy as school kids. When we visited the museum, we had to choke back our tears viewing the displays, images, and other artifacts that weaved the story of immigrants who braved perilous conditions to finally see the Lady of Liberty and the shores of America.
We hope this blog and the video evokes in you a sense of oneness and joy regardless of what part of the world you may make your home.
From a personal point of view, I have and will continue to celebrate the diversity of our human race, and at the same time, I know in my soul that we are all children of the same Divinity.
May your heart be filled with peace and love.
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