The Dollar Bill and the unknown fruit…

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After the church Service, the five miles walk to my home was always tedious. Hunger, thirst & tiredness are the main reasons. Even though we would have reached the church half to one hour late, the long Service would still take another two hours or so to end.

At an Orthodox church most of the time, you have to stand throughout the Service. Seven year olds like me standing still for a long time doing nothing is something impossible to do. I will try to stand on one foot for some time, so that the other foot will get a break… If we try to kneel on the side wall, there is an old mean lady who stands behind us will come and pinch us first and then move us to stand in a row straight in the front not touching the wall or the large Pillars. So standing on one foot was a better way to give a break to the tiredness.

Even though the Service was boring, I liked to sing the songs towards the end of the Service and once you get immersed in singing, Time will pass faster.

Another thing I liked in the church was a fifteen to twenty minutes Sermon delivered by the Priest in the middle of the Service. There will be some interesting stuff like one of his experiences or a short story he will describe to make his Sermon interesting. I still remember a part of his Sermon he delivered after his short visit to USA. That was the time very few people travelled overseas. At that time, in ‘Malayala Manorama’ News Paper, there appeared pictures of people going to UK or USA or some other foreign countries with a short description of the person and the reason of their visits.

I used to read those News, but I never felt jealous of these guys who are so lucky to travel to another continent, since I was not at all interested to see other contries. But I remember when I was in my Teenage, just like any average person in India where no foreign goods were imported legally in bulk at that time I liked Contraband stuff like Crepe & Chinese silk Saris and perfumes available in the black market.

When the Priest started that Sermon, dramatically he took out a ‘one Dollar Bill’ from his pocket and said:

“This is an American ‘one Dollar Bill’. I want all of you to see it and try to read what is printed on it.”

While the ‘one Dollar Bill’ was being circulated among the parishioners, people who knew English tried to read the print on it and the Priest continued his Sermon:

“America is the richest country in the world. Actually I don’t know how to describe what I saw there. Where ever you go, it is very neat. The public restrooms are so clean and nice smelling, you wouldn’t mind sleeping on those floors. May be you can compare it to Heaven. I have not seen Heaven, but still I can imagine the Heaven will be beautiful like America.”

He continued:

“It is the richest country in the world. It is the most developed country in the world. Do you know why America is the number one country in the world?”

He paused for few seconds waiting to hear an answer from us. But nobody said a word. We are the ignorant people who have not seen Heaven or America… How do we know the reason for America to become the number one country in the world?

The ‘one Dollar Bill’ had almost reached the last row of people in the church.

The priest asked,

“Is there anybody who could read the words printed on that ‘one Dollar Bill’?”

One person at the back row stood up and said:


Priest said,

“I don’t want to hear any more…  IN GOD WE TRUST. That’s the key to all their progress. They give importance to God. They are not ashamed to declare that IN GOD WE TRUST on their currency. This is what I want you to think about. Are you ashamed to admit in front of the whole world that you are a believer in God?”

That’s how the Sermon ended. That seven year old is now sitting here in America or Heaven as our priest said. I was not even that eager to visit America after hearing that Sermon. But I was impressed by the Trust America bragged about on that one Dollar Bill. I never wanted to leave my small town in India. I was happy and content with what I had. Also I was more than ready and patient to see the Heaven after my death. But God had different plans.

I am hungry, tired… We have reached the end of the public road to my House. The remaining roads to my home are good for pedestrians or cycles only and too narrow for any other kind of vehicles. At the end of the public road there was a Cart. It was full of some kind of fruit. The Cart was overflowing with its content. Some fruits were on the floor. The color of the fruit was dark green. It was big and round like pumpkins. I have never seen that fruit. One of them was split opened and left near the Cart to lure the passersby. I have never seen such a beautiful color.

Dark Maroon color… Inside, it had black seeds like pearls shattered around its center.

It was very inviting…

I asked my mother,

“What is that fruit? I want one…”

I don’t care what it is, I wanted one. I am very hungry too.

That color has already mesmerized me to think it should be sweet.

She said,

“It is Watermelon. You wouldn’t like the taste.”

I don’t want to hear a ‘No’.

I started nagging her.

“I want one.”

There is no point in creating a tantrum. It will not work with my mother.

I started crying…

I was hungry and tired after the long walk from the church. So it was very easy for me to cry…

At last she gave in, but on one condition…

If we buy, I have to carry it all the way to my house which was almost two miles away from where we stood.

I agreed. Mother paid the money.

I took the biggest Watermelon and started walking. It weighed more than 6 lbs at least. It was heavy for a seven year old who was not that healthy. But I had to keep my word. So I carried it.

First I had to climb the huge bridge with about 20 steps up and then 20 steps down.

There were few more narrow bridges on my way. The huge Bridge we passed.

Watermelon is not in a bag. I am holding it with my two hands. My hands are getting tired. My mother could see it. She would have laughed in her mind.

My enthusiasm was diminishing every second…

I looked at my Mother, pleading through my eyes. She just ignored it.

Pride is something I do not know of at that age, especially to show my Mother.

At last I gave in. I sat on the side of the path. Put the Watermelon down.

“I can’t carry it.”

A simple statement…

Mother looked at me. She started mumbling to herself,

“Will not listen to what I say. Now I have to carry it all the way. I knew it is coming… That’s why I said not to buy… No way! She won’t listen”

Then she took the Watermelon. She carried it all the way home.

I know she was hungry and tired too. But still she carried it for me.

When I reached home I was in a hurry to cut it. She opened it for me.

The first bite I took, I knew my Mother was right. I didn’t like the taste.

That’s the first time I was convinced myself that my Mother is always right.

She knows me better than myself.

I stopped questioning her judgments about my Taste buds.

She knew what I liked, better than me.







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The way of life a group of people follows.

What exactly is it?

It is not something you can describe in few words. It is the way people are or the customs followed by people from generation to generation. You can not teach Culture as we teach Mathematics or Science.

You have to grow up in a culture to know what actually it is and still you will not know the whole lot of that culture, if you move away from that place. Culture changes from place to place … like village to village, Town to Town, City to City or Country to Country… Even this is a Ball Park assessment. There are always exceptions

Now I am not sure whether I know the Kerala Culture that well in which I grew up, since I left Kerala at the age of 25.

I was born and brought up in an Orthodox family. So the customs I followed were the one in an Orthodox family. I came to know a little bit of Muslim and Hindu Cultures from our neighbors & friends with whom I studied.

Respect for the religions other than their own is an inborn thing among common people in Kerala. Religious Fanatics are exceptions, just like Terrorists or Traitors in any country.

In an Orthodox Christian family the Man is the Head (forget about the exceptions here…LOL) and the position of the wife is that of a Chief Minister, supporting the decisions of the Head.

Till I met Parvathi Kavu, I saw any woman in any household as a second class citizen. Later, I met some Nair girls and it changed my outlook. But I couldn’t make any changes accordingly with respect to my life…

I lived with a Muslim friend who conducted the 5 times’ prayer everyday and my other Muslim friend was a firm believer, but didn’t do the 5 times’ everyday prayer. They both were nice and I didn’t see them differently.

There are many wonderful and interesting customs in some cultures we come across, but some of the customs may be difficult for us to digest. Then we ignore it saying, “Oh that’s their culture, why should we bother!”

I had heard about Old people’s homes (Manors and assisted living homes) in the US even before I came to the US.

Labor is expensive in the US. Baby sitting costs… There is a price-tag for any service.

To maintain a some what good standard of life, here both husband & wife need to work.

Living all their life as a single/nuclear family and being leading an independent life, it is difficult for these old generation to move to their children’s home to have a different life pace with the new generation, so mostly they try to live alone in their old cocoon as much as they can. When they become less healthy and need assistance for everyday routines, they move to Retirement Homes or Manors (Skilled Nursing Homes) or assisted-living homes. There, they wait for their final destination of Heaven or Hell. There are cheap subsidized Manors as well as private ones. There are also expensive private Retirement Homes/ Skilled Nursing Homes. There are good as well as bad Old people’s Homes. You will never know which one is better unless you live there few days.

This is something we can’t digest. Why can’t children take care of their parents in their old age?

Then as I said before:

We should ignore it saying, “Oh that’s their culture, why should we bother!”

As parents, they don’t want their children to be bothered with their aches and pains.


So I was under the impression, in US, when people get old, they move to some kind of old people’s Home. But in this fast paced culture in the US, I found an exception.

Her name is Pat. She is my grandkids’ Piano Teacher. She is in her 40’s. Pat came to my house once a week.

Pat is a quiet lady; her smile is kind of apologetic as if announcing ‘I do not like disturbing anybody even with this smile ’

Her mother Pauline was always with her. Pauline sat on a chair near the Piano patiently, waiting for her daughter to finish the lessons.

Pauline’s age I am not sure, may be in late 60’s. Pauline & I went to the same Church. So I have known her even before she started to come with Pat.

Pauline always has a pleasant smile and a big hug to share with anybody she comes across.

One day when they came, Pauline was in a very pretty blouse. I did compliment her and she said:

“Now-a-days it is Pat who selects my clothes”.

I asked Pat,

“So do you live with your Mom?”

Usually grown up kids do not come back to live with their parents here in the US, unless they are broke or recuperating from some other kind of falls in their life.

Pauline said,

“She left her family & came to live with me once my husband passed away last year.”

Pat added,

“She refused to come to my house and I felt she needed company, so I resigned my job and came to live with her.”

I was kind of shocked to hear these facts.

“What about your husband and the kids? How do they manage without you at home?”

“My husband comes home during the weekend.”

“I felt Mom is very lonely, but she is too stubborn to leave her house, so I thought if so I would move with her. My husband will retire soon, and then he is sure to join us.”


I thought I am hearing a fairy tale. I am the one who proudly say that I belong to a Culture where old generation is well taken care of fully in the old age as an extended family. This is new to me. Here is somebody who resigned her job and came from a far away place just to keep company for her own mother. Pat takes her Mom where ever she goes.

Her Mom is her best friend.

Not a dull moment among them…

I can’t believe it. I thought, I loved my Mom so much. But would I ever think of something like this to do for my Mom. I felt like a Mustard seed. I am nothing… just a zero comparing to these great guys I meet in my life once in a while.

Then I saw this passage in face book:


I was shocked, confused, bewildered

As I entered Heaven’s door,

Not by the beauty of it all,

 Nor the lights or its decor.


But it was the folks in Heaven

Who made me sputter and gasp–

The thieves, the liars, the sinners,

The alcoholics and the trash.


There stood the kid from seventh grade

Who swiped my lunch money twice.

Next to him was my old neighbor

 Who never said anything nice.


Bob, who I always thought

Was rotting away in hell,

Was sitting pretty on cloud nine,

Looking incredibly well.


I nudged Jesus, ‘What’s the deal?

I would love to hear Your take.

How’d all these sinners get up here?

God must’ve made a mistake.


 ‘And why is everyone so quiet,

So somber – give me a clue.

’ ‘Hush, child,’ He said,

 ‘they’re all in shock.

No one thought they’d be seeing you.’



 JUDGE NOT!! Remember…Just going to church doesn’t make you a

Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.

Every saint has a PAST…

Every sinner has a FUTURE!



Think about it… Are we better than our enemies or anybody else we know?




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How my iPhone proved this: “Do not assume”….

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I started using the wireless Phone probably in 1995, when I had to travel about sixty five miles to reach the work place. It was bulky and it was placed in a big handbag of its own. The other details of it, like its make, range etc. I don’t remember. But it was a necessity at that time, since I left home early in the morning around 5:45 am and during the winter time that was the only way to let my husband know that I reached safely at my office. Years passed by and the shape, size and style of the wireless Phone changed so fast. I still like the simplest form of Cell Phone. When Cell Phone started to provide camera with it, I was very surprised. Where I worked, Cameras were prohibited. So I didn’t buy the one with Camera.

My kids are crazy about the latest models of Cell Phones and they always competed to buy the latest makes in the market. Later I owned a somewhat modern Cell Phone which had the camera, but most of the other options provided in it, I seldom used. Then the iPhone came in the market. Kids bought them almost immediately. Then after about one year since the iPhone appeared in the market, one day my husband bought iPhones for both of us.

The first day, I took my iPhone to my office, I hid it from others. My intention of hiding it from others was only because I didn’t want the other two girls in the Office to feel bad, since they couldn’t afford to buy one yet. But after two days, one of them happened to see my new iPhone and picked it up and asked me when I bought it.

“Only two days ago.” I said.

She took my Phone to the other girl to show her.

I felt embarrassed feeling guiltier for owning something they couldn’t afford.

Then something happened. Both of them took out their own Phones and compared with mine. Their iPhones had beautiful case while mine was kind of naked, without a case…

That’s when I knew that these two girls had iPhones for the last one year or so…

What do I know about people? Nothing…

As my eldest son advises,

“Do not assume.”


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