Thursday, November 20, 2008


Over summer of 2008, my brother along with my sister-in-law and two adorable nieces visited us in New York. Of course I am biased, and like any aunt, think my nieces are the cutest things on Earth. That said, I have to say that their visit was philosophically memorable on many levels.

One day, my parents, brother and his family, and I went to Dylan’s candy bar. For those of you who don’t know, Dylan’s is a candy paradise in New York City. It’s like the Disneyland of candies. Anyways, we got inside the store and sure enough, my nieces went on a sugar high by smelling the sweetness in the air. My brother suggested to the two girls that I would allot a number and they could pick only those many numbers of candies. I was expecting a little whining, but the two of them agreed readily. After fervently exploring the store, they came and told me what they wanted—mind you, with the exact number of items, per person, we had decided upon. I was amazed. The experience is permanently etched in my memory.

Later that afternoon, my husband joined us at the candy store. Of course, he indulges them more than I do (I have a disciplinary matron inside of me, who doesn’t let the kids get away with anything and everything, which he lacks). Anyway, he asked the two of them what they wanted. Our younger niece, with the purest heart, untainted soul, and incredibly eloquent vocabulary, said,“Thank you phupha (phupha means uncle in Hindi). We are done for this time. Next time when you bring us, I’ll pick up more.” She was not even six at the time. My husband and I were both flabbergasted. Since when did kids start saying “No” to candy?

That evening, my husband said something extremely pertinent. “It’s unbelievable how content the two girls are.” He was right. I jogged down memory lane. There were times when I offered them chocolate chip cookies (every kid’s guilty pleasure), and they declined if they were full. The younger one’s savoir-vivre is incredible! Her, “No, thank you,” is affirmative yet polite. In a world bombarded with junk, these girls knew when they wanted to say no. My heart swelled with pride. The credit does go to my brother and sister-in-law for giving their daughters the best, but I want to give equal acknowledgement to the little girls for their contented hearts.

Between their visit and today, six months have passed. A lot has changed in that time frame--from America electing its first African American president to ghosts roaming the corridors of Wall Street to the market tanking in Asia and Europe, to marriages breaking over financial discord to people relocating to Neverland, finding a job, and feeding their families. The core of the problem has been human dissatisfaction with what they have—be it the mortgage giants, Wall Street icons, or people like you and I.

With people losing their jobs and families having to scale back on their lifestyle, relationships have a new dynamic and meaning today—especially the ones built only on materialism. I have heard of women whining and asking their husbands when they could move back to their Park Avenue mansions from their average “like-everyone-else’s home.” Really? My six and a half-year old niece has more compassion. She understands good and bad times. When your own spouse lacks the empathy in bad times, whom do you turn to? You await coup de grĂ¢ce. Reading about adults acting like imbeciles and making superfluous demands makes me all the more appreciative of my nieces’ gratification.

In these tough times, along with the right sense of humor, what gets you through the day is contentment. When my husband asked me the other day, “What do you want to do for the anniversary?” I said, “If we have a job until then, we’ll go to a nice restaurant for a meal; if we get laid off, we’ll order in.” Just knowing in your heart that aside from your basics, joie de vivre shouldn’t be measured based on materialism, gives you a good perspective on bad times.

More until next time.

Copyright © 11.20.2008

"I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best." - Oscar Wilde

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

very true.

nieces sound cute.