Count your blessings

The internet is abuzz with quizzes that claim to identify our personality and tell us what we are and what we will be. I go through these quizzes for fun, many a time, for amusement! The accuracy is questionable, sometimes ridiculously absurd, illogical, and irrational. But there are some that actually strike a chord or two. One such is a quiz from Buzzfeed, forwarded to me by my daughter with the sweetest message saying, “I thank you and daddy for giving me a good life!” Tell me then, what more can a mother ask for?

The quiz titled, “How privileged are you?” is a listing of questions ranging from family life, education, relationships, career, sexuality, caste (here I realize that the quiz was designed for Indian audience), money matters, travel, and even the most mundane of things. The more tick marks you get, the more privileged are you.  I got 116 out of the 127 questions and the result says, I am in the top tier of privilege!

The number of questions may seem long and endless, quite exhaustive, laborious to deal with, and something that can wear one down and eventually give up. I almost gave up at Question 34. But then, I went ahead and found that if we only take it seriously, there is an unfathomable meaning in every question that awakens our thoughts that would have gone into deep slumber not realizing how blessed we all are.

The question on schooling up to university level made me realized that I am luckier than one billion adults as per the recent study conducted by UNESCO. The question on life and living conditions gave me an insight on how fortunate am I to have roof over my head, food on my table, clothes to wear, and a bed to sleep in.

An added bonus is all the other luxuries that I enjoy like having a car to take me wherever I want to go and a limitless access to many other things that I now think as indulgences rather than need, superfluities that make me feel guilty after knowing that millions of families are living within $1 per day.

At least six questions dealt with experiences dealing with the caste system. I may not have been born and brought up in India, where caste system was a prevalent practice, but I was always aware of the dissection of economic levels in my country. Suffice it to say that I did not allow any of those to affect me while living my life the way I want to, and it has never bothered me even today. Moving to India, I never spoke of or brought up the fact that I have become part of the Brahmin community after having married an Iyengar Brahmin. There is no need, and no reason to. And in twenty long years, it has not affected me or my status in this country that I have come to love as my own.

Another set of questions focus on safety, inside and outside the house, in the workplace, or elsewhere. Knowing that I live in one of the most peaceful cities I know keeps my mind at ease all the time. And this brings me back to war-torn countries like Syria (where we lived) where its people are not sure of living their lives the following day.

Going through the list is for me … a wake-up call, it is a process that each and every one of us should go through just to be reminded that we are so privileged than countless number of people, that we are given things even before asking for it, and that we are provided with extras that we, sometime, don’t even deserve — as a person — as a human being.

The quiz transported me into a different state of mind … a state where I am happier than ever before … a state where I tell myself that I cannot ask for more. Asking for more will only lead me to greediness. And as the Great Mahatma Gandhi once said, “There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed!”

I have pasted the link (in case you haven’t been fortunate enough to stumble on it) to the quiz below. Please go through it. My wish is that, like me, you may realize that we ought to stop complaining about the life we have, and actually begin living it with gratitude in our hearts for the fact that you have a computer system, a laptop, a tablet, or a smart phone to read this blog post — you are more privileged that most.

https://www.buzzfeed.com/soniathomas/how-privileged-are-you?utm_term=.fu9M19weoz#.admy729rnE

In conclusion, I would like to share the lines of one of my favourite Christmas carols that help me get sound sleep at night:

When I’m worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep. And I fall asleep counting my blessings

When my bankroll is getting small, I think of when I had none at all. And I fall asleep counting my blessings.

I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads. And one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds. 

So if you’re worried and you can’t sleep, count your blessings instead of sheep.  And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings 

 

***All the images are borrowed from the net.

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I am STIN-GEE

When I refused to splurge on the latest model of Iphone … when I told my husband that the price of any car we buy should not exceed ten lakhs … when I decided to buy my things only when there is a “sale” … when I stood firm on not buying my daughter similar toys to what she already has … when I insisted on going to libraries instead of buying books all the time … when I stressed on giving inexpensive gifts but useful to the receiver … when I insisted on cooking and eating at home in order to avoid the risks of feeling sick from eating outside food … when I preferred to walk a certain distance instead of taking the car … I’ve been branded – STINGY (pronounced: stin-geeee)!

People who know me will agree.  People who are close to me will understand.

Growing up, we didn’t have much. As a child, I held on to my one and only plastic doll gifted by my Ninang Petz one Christmas. In school, I was happy with one Hello Kitty pencil when my friends had the entire gamut of Sanrio items. In high school – I used to walk to the main road where I took the jeepney for the 30-minute ride to school where I got by with only three sets of uniform and some “civilian” clothes bought from the palengke (local market). I sailed through college with jeans from Divisoria when my friends were strutting in their “Levis” and “Girbaud.”

I gave myself a break when I started working, thereby earning. I treated myself to branded items, an occasional “Benetton” shirt or “Our Tribe” sandals. I also went splurging on “Guess” jeans and some “Paperdoll” blouses. There was even a time when I would wear only “Naturalizer”. When I got married, my husband indulged me by buying only the most expensive, the latest, and the grandest.

But then, was I happy? Maybe for a couple of days displaying the brand and getting the “ahhhs” and “ohhhs” from friends and people around. But, then I realized early on that I was not one of those  clueless, shallow female (and some males) whose goal is to spend and show-off!

I have always been the practical one. For me, any brand of smart phone (yes, even those Chinese-made ones) can do anything that an Iphone does, any car can take us from point A to point B, clothes or shoes need not be expensive to look good on anyone. My daughter enjoyed the toys she had and still has vivid memories about each of them. Books from libraries help me instil the love of reading in my little one. And gifting, some may not agree with me, does not depend on the price of the gift but the thought poured in while choosing one.

To the people who did and still call me stingy, I am done with you. To me, you belong to the group of people who would rather drown in credit card bills and live from pay-check to pay-check just to impress other people. Those who do not look at the future for as long as their present is instagrammable or worth posting on Facebook! Those whose life is dictated by society’s artificial approach and whose every action is based on trying to fit in on circles where they are obviously an outcast. For if they truly belong to that circle, they need not exert any effort. Superficial and pa-sosyal ,.. these words aptly describe this group that am definitely not part of,  and will never be.

I may be stingy but I am a happy soul. I have a good phone that serves my purpose, a car that takes me wherever I want to go, and clothes that flatter me. I have a child who is beautiful and smart, but most importantly, someone whose feet is firmly grounded.  A husband who now thinks the same way I do and supports me in any decision I make. A circle of friends who do not look at what I have or what I am capable of  giving. And, a bank balance that allows me to splurge whenever I want to … all because I decided to be — stin-gee!

 

***All images are borrowed from the net.

 

Working from Home (WFH)

A life with no worries, ok — less worries … a life where I can wake up any time and be in my PJs all day for all I care… a life where I can spend as much time with my family as I want… a life where I can have coffee dates with my girlfriends any time I wish to and plan for a quick holiday, head to somewhere cool … a life with no targets, no deadlines… a life with no bosses but myself — and myself alone… a life where I can be free! This is what I envisioned when I quit my previous job thinking I will just take up a few work-from-home assignments and ease up on life. The first couple of weeks were fine, I enjoyed the bliss. The following weeks made me restless. After a quick holiday, and a few more days, I was already attending interviews. Barely three months later… I joined another company!

I guess I am not that type who can be confined at home. Or even, the type who can actually work from home. I remember asking my husband to install a new air-conditioning system, buy me a fancy swivel chair (the one CEOs use), upgrade our desktop, change our screen to a 21-inches, and convert our study room into a nice office set-up because I am tired of going to office and that I intend to “work from home — permanently!” The result –a swanky office arrangement at home that my husband uses more than myself!

Working from home (WFH) may be the “in” thing these days … but nothing beats the experience of driving (despite the horrendous traffic) to work, hoping Mondays never come, negotiating deadlines, reasoning with bosses, juggling projects, managing a team of enthusiastic youngsters, exchanging banter with colleagues, sharing that much awaited coffee during break, and longing for the weekends to come.

Suffice it to say that I enjoy company. I love being surrounded by people. I love being able to voice my opinions, listen to what others have to say, exchange ideas, share commonalities, and decipher dissimilarities. I love knowing that people are different, and those differences add fun to life. I love being exposed to eccentricities and peculiarities that make me love my own self simply for who I am.

On the peculiar side, working from home would never give me the opportunity to know people as they really are. Working from home would prevent me from knowing that the man who talks like he is the busiest person on earth is actually doing nothing but dumps all his work to his already-burdened assistant … the woman who is always glued to her laptop is actually attending to personal business and not her office work … the guy who is working quietly in the corner is freelancing for other companies… and the lady who we thought are making call to clients is actually talking to her friends, making plans for the evening.

WFH has its per ks. No rushing to swipe in, no need to dress up, no bosses hovering around, no endless meetings (except for the occasional con-call), no internal (or external) politics, no need to worry about gossipy colleagues, or those whose insecurity hangs on the office walls, no filters on which website to visit, no guidelines on how long the lunch break is … endless NO’s.

A big YES to work!

Working from home does not mean doing less, forgetting about deadlines, and easing up on quality. Working from home actually entails a lot of responsibility. And…hear this, the fact that the person is allowed to work from home is because he/she is trusted enough to work without supervision. This reminds me of a former colleague who would always berate people like me who was given the WFH option (two companies ago). She was upset that the same privilege was not accorded to her forgetting the time when she asked for a couple of days of WFH only to completely expose and embarrass herself by not doing the work expected from her. She proved to be so untrustworthy that she was denied her WFH requests thereafter. Expectations from people who are working from home are more. And the fact is, they do work more…in most cases, even after office hours, and during holidays!

There, just as in any argument, I have laid the pros and cons of WFH. And I have also mentioned that fact that I am not cut out for it. But yes, since I have that cozy setup at home, I take WFH once in a while. Or who knows …. Ohhh I’ve been there before…

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***All graphics are borrowed from the net

 

A Happy Goodbye

There are different types of goodbyes. Most of them are hurtful. People tend to think of the word goodbye as an end, but I would rather think of it as a new beginning. Saying goodbye need not be upsetting. Saying goodbye can be uplifting.

As I leave another phase of my professional life, I look back at the happy memories I had with MPS. I recall the countless beautiful reminiscences that I will forever cherish. I remember the numerous bonds I formed with many of my friends in the company. And I recollect how these people helped me cope with the challenges I faced in this organization.

My previous post reminds me of how I started here with a big bang, literally! A bang that led to friendships that I will treasure – always! Chendur, Srinivas, and Joel … the names that will always be remembered for picking me up when I am down…again, literally!

 

I never felt like a newbie in MPS. On my very first week, I found a clique! I found three beautiful ladies who took me in as the fourth corner to complete a quadrilateral. What began as a regular trip to coffee kadais and bajji stalls became lunches and dinners, even cook-outs and shopping trips! Meenakshi, the queen of copyediting, is the group’s fashionista. You won’t catch her coming to office if she hasn’t shopped for a new kameez! A stockholder of Hidesign, she also owns W. She holds the longest notice period in the history of MPS! Ramya, MPS’ dancing queen, is the group’s selfie expert. With her long slender arms, she is the designated photographer using her latest model of Iphone. I had the wildest ride with her chasing projects in the O2Es. Chitra is the group’s Mother Goose. We go to her for everything – from food to fashion to fixing everything in between. She has the biggest heart and a hand that creates magic in the kitchen. She is the person I call when I needed a listening ear and an understanding heart! Thank you ladies, my stay in MPS has been a lot more fun because of you and your friendship.

Having these ladies in my first circle, I quickly developed a larger circle spanning three manager’s cabin and the production floor. Cabin One where Meenakshi and Ramya sit is where some of the kindest souls work. Rajendran, the boss, is my person to go to when I have problems with work (pricing, billing, oursourcing) or otherwise. Armed with the smartest advice, he treats everyone courteously.  Garrish is the charming lady who can be found in Emerald more often than in her seat! If not, she is often seen with her laptop on the production floor. A fine friend who I will definitely miss chatting with. Manoj is the quiet gentleman and a very nice person to talk to. I enjoyed his inquisitive questions about my work.

Just like me, Chitra sits in Cabin Two in the company of men who have become good friends of mine. Thanks to the constant invite for food and sweets! They are the people who would call Meenakshi and me for lunch-out even if they had just planned it for their team! Banshi, my “best friend” is someone who I worked with during my early days here. An unassuming gentleman from Odisha, we fought on projects and became friends later on. Raj is the Pondicherry lad who rushes to the French quarters every Friday evening. Bala is our fish-eating buddy and one who engineers his own water sprinklers at home. I will always remember the soft-spoken Sivaranjan for giving us chocolates for Women’s Day, and for the delicious treats he brought on his birthday. Ratheesan is my team’s go-to man for XML ingestion.

As for my cabin mates, I have already mentioned them in my last post (https://gemmarievenkataramani.wordpress.com/2017/03/15/thorny-rose-in-the-bush/) and I am sure they know who they are when I say, I am every grateful to them for being Snow White’s dwarves and for being the gummy bears of my stay here.

Bosses, I had the best bosses! Nigel who brought me in through “LinkedIn” was someone I admire for his wit, quick thinking, and smart ideas. He was a boss when he needed to be a boss and a friend when he feels it’s time to be a friend. Harrish is another person I look up to for his good leadership and friendly demeanor. He never fails to come say hi to me and my cabin mates when he is on this side of the RR Tower 4. I will never forget how he allowed me to take over his parking space while he searched for a new place!

And of course, my team!! I am fortunate to have the best people I can ever think of, in my team. Dedicated and hardworking, these guys are what I call, my dream team! I will always look back to the happy memories we had. Teena, Sangamitra, Prasanna, Crisbin, and Maha … I am sure we will meet again, sometime…somewhere.

On the production floor, I found really good friends who come to our cabin to bring me their home-made murukkus and other special items for Diwali, share the gulab jamuns made by their wives, and give me anecdotes that made me laugh.

The IT team lead by Anton has been very helpful. One call and they come running to assist my technologically-challenged self! Be it a faulty mouse, a request for software, or a file that I couldn’t download, they are ever ready to help.

The cleaning ladies, the office assistants, and most especially, Saran, our coffee guy … life in MPS would not have been a great experience without your support.

Knowing these people makes it a happy goodbye for me. Months well spent doing my work and earning good friends in the process. I will certainly miss you guys. Please remember me once in a while, the happy days we shared, the memories we made.

And yes, call me for lunch…or dinner…or fish outing! I will be there!

 

Thorny Rose in the Bush

Three shocked expressions, three pairs of wondering eyes, three confused countenance, three men who I hardly knew … these are what I got on my second day (technically my first day, since day one was spent on orientation procedures and HR formalities) at work. Was it a baptism by fire? Nope, it was more like a baptism by a slippery floor and a sliding chair. Rescued from embarrassment as these three pulled me up from the floor, a replacement chair was arranged and I was somewhat made comfortable, though of course, the feeling of awkwardness remain for a day or two.

This was how I began my journey working with a company where I have to sit amidst men in the manager’s cabin. Some may call me a rose among thorns, but I would like to put it as a thorny rose among the bush. I have never been in this situation before, and the person that I am was not convinced that I can ever be myself again while surrounded by these serious looking faces glued to their laptops keying in codes and what-nots. My initial question was obviously, “What have I got myself into?”

Days passed and work started piling-up. I got myself busy with meetings in between projects, trainings in between building my team. The awkward situation became more at ease. I saw myself blending into the system. The serious faces started lightening up. Conversation started happening, laughter fills the room every now and then (when the workload is at its ebb.) Then, it dawned on me that these men are actually just like women. A lot less complicated, but as complex!

These guys may be of the same species, but they are definitely of a very diverse breed. Sitting in the equator, I have the pleasure of tilting on either the north- or south- pole. The north was a lot easier to explore, the south was a bit of a challenge. We at midline serve as go-between. The northerners may be on the same flank yet they are still as assorted as Snow White’s seven dwarfs. OK now … don’t let me get started on who is Grumpy and who is Dopey! The guys in the cabin already know who is who, and they are very much aware as to whom to be carefree with and most importantly, who to be careful of….yes, there’s a mole in the house! The southerners, as I have mentioned, were not as easy. It took me a while to decipher and get to know each and every one of them. But just like the other set, they are as dissimilar as the flavors of gummy bears all in one jar. And of course, I did not want to get started describing who is the orange, mango, or blue raspberry. But then again, everybody knows who the sour grape is! However different they are, however intricate their characters may be, however convoluted their personalities exist, and however complicated their minds function … they made my stay in this company a lot more amusing, interesting, and worth looking back to.

After almost a year, I have established good friendship with them. Over my baked goodies, and murukkus and halwas from their kitchen or native villages, we bonded.  A few came and visited us at home, one invited me to his house warming, another made me a unique present for my daughter, the person next to me helped me with my gadget purchases, one called me for his church activity, and others told stories of how we may have been at the same place and time, without actually knowing each other yet. With the passing days, I have almost forgotten that I am the only female in the room … I just know I belong to that cabin and they are my fellow managers and cabin mates.

Changes happen every day, and our cabin is no different. People come and go, the same is true in this space we call our own.  Some go for a few days on official visits. Some go for a lot longer period as they may have been shifted, in most cases, unwillingly. Some go for better opportunities (there always is!) Some go, because it’s time to. The men in my cabin … as oblivious as they always seem … blasé I would describe them … go about their daily routine, unmindful of the change happening.  People who left are easily forgotten.

In a few days, I will be one of those whose face will be erased, seat will be taken over, and name will be forgotten. Allow me to indulge as I would like to hope that a few of them would look back at the memories we shared as friends, as cabin mates … that there once was a thorny rose among the bush they belong to. As for me, these men will always be part of who I am … and I will ever be grateful to these guys who treated me well and respected me not just for being a woman but more, for being a professional who is on par with them.

 

Chennai is HOME

Packing our bags for a holiday brings in the excitement of seeing new places, meeting old friends and making new ones, experiencing a different culture, sampling new (and exotic) dishes, and shopping for souvenirs. For our trip early this month, the packing experience was a hurried one since I had to work late to keep things in the office running well when I am on leave for the next few days. But that did not dampen the excitement. The trip, though semi-official, was an exciting opportunity for us to see the country’s capital and finally visit the ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river.

The grogginess of the early morning flight was immediately 1substituted with elation upon seeing the swanky new look of the Chennai International Airport. The green-white-saffron decoration, remnants of last month’s Republic Day celebration, added glow to the chic look brought in by the recent renovations. The breakfast of idly/sambar, dosa, and filter kaapi gave us the much needed boost of energy.

Red, hot, spicy … the slogan of the airline we were flying brought us giggles as it sounds like a Thai curry we used to have at our favorite resto, Kaidi Kitchen! Boarding announcement came and we embarked on a trip to New Delhi. The flight was uneventful though one thing struck me — this airline’s flight attendants fall below the usual standard for flight crews. Ok, fine … this may be a budget airline, but does that mean they can wear their hair any way they want to the extent of strands falling on the coffee they serve? Or they can be in saggy-fitting jeans topped with unflattering blouses under an apron that makes them look like a server in a local tea shop? Most of them are under 5.3 feet tall (or short!) and with make-up that gives an Indian bride a run for her money, they all looked like school girls trying to crash a party at a local club. Browsing through the inflight magazine, that seems to have seen better days, my husband showed me the airline’ ad for crew members…the only requirement is a plus-2 certificate! I rest my case.

Landing at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, we were welcomed with a pleasant 14-degrees cool breeze. The airport is nothing spectacular, nothing to complain as people dash to the taxi stand in a rush to reach their destination.  Outside is a different story.  The high level of air pollution is evident as soon atraffics we hit the road. Grease can be felt on the skin. The noise made it difficult to carry out a conversation in open spaces. Thousands of vehicles were vying for their slots on the already congested highway.  An hour later, we reached our hotel. Again, nothing spectacular! For the price we paid, we expected better. But then, it’s just a place to crash after long days of sightseeing and meeting friends, so fine.

The first order of the trip was to get our passports renewed. We headed to the embassy where I learned that its is better not to set any expectations from your own people.  Disappointment is an understatement! We did what we went passthere for, and left. To lift my fallen spirit, hubby decided to take me to the mall where of course I got my bubbly self back as my daughter and I combed every outlet, and did our bit of shopping. The day was capped with a sumptuous dinner at Jamie Oliver’s Italian Restaurant, a bit costly but worth every penny.

For our second day at the capital, a friend helped us book a cab to take us on a city tour. After a hearty breakfast of Poha and baked goodies, we headed off to see the sights. First stop was Qutub Minar, a soaring 73 m-high tower of victory, built in 1193 by Qutab-ud-din Aibak immediately after the defeat of Delhi’s last Hindu kingdom. We had fun frolicking around the beautiful structures and edifice that reminded us of those we saw when we were in Aleppo. Next on the itinerary was Humayun’s Tomb. Built in 1565 A.D. nine years after the death of Humayun. Insi3de the walled enclosure are garden squares (chaharbagh) with water channels surrounding the well proportional mausoleum topped by double dome.  Awesome was not even enough to describe this place. We didn’t feel like leaving as there were just thousands of “Instagram” opportunities, according to my daughter.But of course, we had to leave as we had to pay tribute to Gandhiji at Rajghat, and visit the temple built in the shape of a lotus flower and is the last of seven Major Bahai’s temples in the world. The experience was jus4t like visiting Matri Mandir in Auroville but a lot more relaxing. For the next two hours we drove around the city stopping to admire the India Gate, the Parliament house, Rashtrapati Bhavan, and the famous Red Fort. Tiring yet satisfying. We headed back to the hotel before being transported again to the city’s biggest mall, DLF Saket Mall for Japanese Ramen and Takoyaki, and more shopping!

We had to get up early on our third day as we have to beat the traffic coming out of the city to join the highway that would take us to Agra. At 11 degrees centigrade, the visibility was almost zero. We had to inch our way till about 8:30 in the morning when the sun finally decided to show up. After three hours, we found ourselves in awe of the Taj Mahal. Nothing could prepare anybody at the grandeur of this jewel of Mughal art in India and one o5f the universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage. Commissioned by Shah Jahan in 1631, to be built in the memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, a Persian princess who died giving birth to their 14th child, the edifice is simply breathtaking. A check on my bucket list and we headed back home, yes…after some shopping at Agra!

The last day was relaxed. We just had an early lunch with my husband’s old colleagues and friends at India International Center before heading to the crowded Delhi (IGIA) airport where we could not even get a place to sit and wait. And then we finally boarded the flight and I found myself looking forward to landing in Chennai. My home, wherein despite the recent political drama that seems to unfold every second day … this place is still the best for me!

Faith and Hope

aleppo1I AM STILL IN ALEPPO… AND WILL REMAIN … these words from a friend and former colleague at the International Center for Agriculture Research for the Dry Areas (ICARDA) linger in my thoughts. His name is Manaf and it was his birthday recently. His wife posted his photo along with her birthday greetings on his Facebook wall. I did not recognize him at once because he looked a lot thinner…a lot more mature than when we used to work together. Then I realized…yes, it was him, Manaf Haman, one of the many good nature friendly people who were among those who welcomed me warmly when I joined the Communication and Information Department at ICARDA. I was half expecting, that just like many of our Syrian friends, Manaf must be somewhere else now. Many of them have long migrated to countries in Europe, Canada, or the bordering Turkey, Egypt, and Lebanon. But Manaf and his family are still in Aleppo…and will remain!

For almost six years now, Syria has been facing aleppo3major destruction because of opposing forces staking claim on this beautiful land. The President’s army is fighting against the People’s army, and other forces from outside and within.

Aleppo was home to us for two years. And those two years gave us some of our most treasured memories. Our little one attended most of her primary schooling at the American International School located at the heart of Aleppo next to the President’s residence, my husband worked with the most renowned agriculture scientists at ICARDA sixty kilometers from the city, and I made numerous friends from all over the world with my association with the expat group and my colleagues at work.

aleppo2Our days in Aleppo were among my happiest. I felt privileged to be given the opportunity to live in such a beautiful country. The history written on every slab of its solid walls made me look back and appreciate the glorious times gone by. The kindness of its people made me felt safe to walk on its streets even at midnight. Recalling our blissful days and notable experiences in this part of the world made me realize that those will have to remain just memories … Aleppo will never be the same again.

We left Aleppo months before the war broke. Our expat friends and colleagues were relocated to places like Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon where they continued to function as international staff of ICARDA. A few of our local friends moved to countries in the northwest. But some of them, like Manaf, stayed … armed with faith and hope.

I sincerely admire people like him who stayed to stand and fight for their country, for the land that is their own, the society they belong to, the culture they grew up with, the religion handed down from generations. unhcr_syriaI am sure it was not easy living with bombs being hurled at the city any time of the day, soldiers firing their rifles any direction they decide to, uncertainties as to where to get the next meal (as most of the big supermarkets would have closed down) or how to educate their children (as most schools would have been destroyed!)  My prayers go to Manaf and his league, that they may see the light at the end of the tunnel soon. I pray for peace to reign in my beloved Aleppo, and that war no longer becomes an option for the Syrians and every other person on earth. I pray for a new tomorrow for all Syrians, and a new lease of life for Syria as the country rises from the devastation and rebuilds the magnificent country it once was, restoring the glorious success of its people whose faith and hope did not fail them.

All photos are borrowed from the internet, specifically the one from UNHCR-Syria.

In this fast paced world of uncertainty … let's hang on to the virtuous learning of yesteryear!