Wednesday, 30 December 2015

My Own Personal Guardian Angel

Do you believe in Guardian Angels (G.A.)? 
Trust me, if you had one your entire life you would!

Hello my 9-yrs old self!
Take a look at this kid with pig tails. It is1978 and bell bottoms and pointy collars is so much the raging fashion that my mom thought that only a flower-hat pin was needed in order to make me look picture perfect! We were vacationing in Greece, the Island of Thassos (where my father taught me how to swim!) It might have been my birthday; I'm a summer baby.

It took me a good thirty years to look this girl in the eyes and see what my life's guardian angel always saw: PERFECTION.

My only uncle, the favourite person of my childhood, peacefully fell asleep on December 6th. He had a great family and a great life and although I would have bargained with the heavens to keep him with us just a tad longer, I am grateful he didn't suffer. And I'm thankful we're 'departing in birth order' as my wise ancestors described lucky families. And I am richer for every minute I got to have him. This story is about him.

Imagine a giant teddy bear. Then imagine that he is real, he is funny, he is handy (a mechanical engineer who knew how to fix everything!) Imagine that he has a body-guard streak. And that he possesses the sensitivity rarely found even in mothers of daughters, let alone a father of two boys. And then imagine my luck - that the daughter he never had but always wished for happened to be me!

My Teddy Bear's name was Zoran - a common Serbian name - but for me he was Koka. His lap was my safe zone! As a fairly mouthy child - alas, not much has changed - I used it very often. It was "Geneva" - offering full protection from being disciplined no matter the offence.

Remember that school chewing gum incident? I never told how that ended, did I? I went home and told my parents. They empathized as my mom cut a chunk of my hair while hoping I 'learned a lesson'. Chewing gum was no good for my teeth anyway. 

Then I called Koka. A minute later he was already sitting in our living room sipping coffee.  
"What did you say the teacher's name was?" - he whispered in my ear as I found my shelter right away, retelling the school drama. 
"And this week you go to school in the afternoon? A-hmmm" - his acknowledgment sounded more like he was engineering a project. The eyes behind the thick-rimmed glasses suddenly looked as if they had a powerful calculator at work. 
      "Is she doing this to other kids?" 
      "You have math tomorrow?"

I was running down the stairs with friends after the class, eager to get the best spot under the tree for our magical recess games, when I saw two men in trench coats in the school lobby, looking serious. The somewhat surreal recognition turned into wonder as his barely-visible wink signalled me to keep going to the yard. From under the shade my eyes were glued to the glass door. Like in a silent movie, I saw our fierce math teacher pause as someone introduced her to the two gentlemen. Her blank stare was replaced by a red face, her head vigorously shaking as if she was a child being scolded. Our game started, I got distracted and by the time the bell rang and we rushed back in, the trench coats were already gone. 

My body-guard, my G.A., my Koka was a man of both justice and action. It took him 24h to show up at my school with his much fiercer colleague Miško, the two of them looking all FBI-like demanding the teacher to never, ever punish another child again if she didn't want them to return. Not only did it work, this big mouth here managed to never tell a soul about it - up until right now! 

My entire life Koka has been my safe harbour, my mischief buddy and my confidant. When he caught me crying - mean girls at school were calling me names for my protruding ears (you are welcome to scroll back to the photo above) despite my parents' finding that I actually looked charming, he took me to his plastic surgeon friend who agreed to perform the first aesthetic surgery in Belgrade's Children's Hospital in exchange for a before and after photo for her office. Dr.Gordana Janjić - I have never forgotten your gift! I was 10 years old and coming back to school with my ears beautifully fixed gave me a quantitative confidence boost that ensured the survival of my late starting puberty.  

Still, the real treasure was enjoying Koka as my G.A. long into my adulthood. He was my back-up parent of the best kind. He was the one who taught me how to let go of failed man and marriage. He was the well-needed second grandpa to my son; the kid felt like a little king in his care! He was the favourite teddy bear I never grew too old to hug. And he was my only bank - the one that loaned me the money needed for immigration, even though those years were tough on everyone and that was rainy-day fund. 

My Teddy Bear - Belgrade 2013
The unexpected gift of immigration, after we all survived the initial grief of being separated, is that our forever began right there. As in true life-long friendships, dimensions of distance and time mean nothing. We stayed close and grew closer even though a decade and a half passed before we would see each other again. And when that day arrived and I saw my G.A. waiting for me at the Nikola Tesla International Airport, my heart exploded and rejoiced as I threw myself into the best embrace on Earth. That week in Belgrade my life got prolonged. Endless hours of talking, laughing, drinking coffee, reminiscing our fun times, analyzing tough moments - that week will forever stay preciously stored in my heart. Yes - for the unbelievable abundant love and optimism and energy I'm still kindling inside of me. It will never expire. But more so for regressing into being their 'baby', the youngest of all kids in the family, the one with special privileges and my own personal guardian angel.

The night my Koka fell asleep I woke with an answer to a pressing question I've had for a while. The answer was so crystal clear it brought instant relief that helped me fall sound asleep right away. A few hours later tears streamed down my face as I read the message from my cousin - my loss will always be immense. But somehow I know Koka hung around as long as he could to have this one last real lesson sink in and see the tide change. 

What I feel is true is that there is no departure - we were already pros at long distance! The absence of the physical only means that Koka is so much closer to me now - riding along with me. I'm safe, comfortably nestled in for what's to come, his lap wide as heaven itself.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Rats! or The Best Love Story Ever Told?

The receiver of our beige rotary dial phone seemed unusually heavy in my hand. The porcelain felt cold on my ear. My heart was beating hard with fear and excitement. What if I don't understand him?

As if she heard my thoughts, my sister said from across the ocean - "Listen, you don't have this in Serbia. It's three-way calling.” She went on describing this ‘advanced’ technology. “So worry not, if you don't understand something I will translate it for you. OK?"

Once prestigious red passport
What ensued was a clear and concise conversation that changed the course of our lives. The third person calling in was a famed immigration lawyer whose fees I would only be able to afford to pay many years later. But my payment was never necessary. The bill for the consult was paid in full by my sister's employer. 

The information learned on that call led to a day that resembled a spy movie. At the wee morning hours I was to line up in front of the Canadian Embassy in Belgrade which was rumoured to have already started packing for evacuation. It was imperative that I was amongst the first in line - they accepted only a select few ‘consults'. The trouble was, the embassy was located directly across from the home where I had lived with my in-laws and first husband  - the one who had left me for his mistress 10 days before our baby was born. The one who refused to sign the document allowing my son to immigrate without going through... Well, you can read that in the memoir when it comes out! 

When the doors opened, my task was to recite my immigration file number and change the profession registered on my file from  'retail pharmacist' to 'industrial pharmacist'. Both of these were listed on the degree I had earned with honours 5 years previously, however the allocated space on the visa application form only allowed for a single entry. Bureaucracy the Beautiful!

This is Inflation
This power-house lawyer in Ontario's Immigration Law office taught me on this most important three-way call of my life that the vocation of retail pharmacist that I had listed two years earlier at the time I started the process now carried zero (0) points in contrast to the previous ten (10). The designation of industrial pharmacist however now carried ten points as opposed to zero previously. The math was simple: 0 points for previously-listed vocation x 10 points for fluent in English x 10 points for fluent in French x 10 points for having a close relative in Canada x10 points for having a child under the age of 3 still equals = ZERO. In that way my visa application had been suspended indefinitely due to insufficient points. After two years of waiting, I no longer qualified to be granted landed immigrant status. 

And just as in a good spy movie, the time was ticking. I was cold, a bit hungry, dead tired, and very apprehensive that the ex's parents - he himself having been long gone to the Lone Star state - would perhaps be standing on the balcony smoking and drinking the world's worst coffee and would see me line up for immigration thereby jeopardizing my whole chance of getting out. Damp with adrenaline, I was still able to remember my file number and the vocation code when a woman named Jacynthe asked me for it in French. Soon after I emerged back onto the street, my step swift, gaze focused on the ground, clutching a little yellow slip as proof my file was again deemed active.  

A chapter of my memoir-in-the-making "Marina Has Son" has the precise account of our heart-stopping exit from a war-torn Serbia whose borders were becoming tighter in the months and weeks that led to the 78 days of NATO bombing. My son and I and my parents narrowly managed to escape, courtesy of a North American corporate employer that had met me only twice before during interviews.

Passport photo - Attempt #9 
The day my visa arrived was a Friday and I worked the afternoon shift at the pharmacy. I hugged my colleagues Daca and Sneža tightly at the end of the work day, feeling I would never see them again. My three closest friends Tanja, Vladimir and another Vladimir were the only people other than my family who knew of my plan to leave. "Defectors" were not viewed with sympathy even if the reason was survival. On Saturday while Tanja played with Filip, the two boys helped me pack, duct taping shut all of my worldly possessions. Our flight left the following day and not counting the brief stop-over in Paris, the journey was 17 hours.
We arrived in Canada on a crisp and cold grey Monday morning. My not-yet three-year-old son was cranky, disoriented and confused - where were we? Where was grandma and grandpa? Why was it so cold? Where were his toys? Who was this woman? 
My visibly-shaken sister, who was in disbelief that we were really standing in front of her having actually made it out of the war zone, was a total stranger to him. After all, she had only seen him once at 6 months old when she had visited. He cried inconsolably as I left him with his aunt and went - jaw tensed and white-knuckled - to my first day of work. With 6h jet-lag and a new pair of glasses that somehow made the ground look farther away.

1st day of work: Fresh off the boat 
This was the day I signed my first contract with the employer that had invested in me through care and that hefty celebrity immigration lawyer's fee before I had even earned enough to buy a bottle of water. The date was December 7. It was a Monday. Alongside my children's birthdays, it has been the most significant date of my existence. Because it meant existence. 

North American corporations are often viewed as greedy, ruthless and impersonal. The career ladder is expected to be treacherous, infested with master-liars, manipulators and backstabbers. Commonly it's referred to as a rat race

Well, not for me and mine. Because this particular rat is genetically predisposed to outlast. It is fully infused with inspiration. Roaring with resilience. Leaping into learnings. Wired for wonder. And bound to blog about it.

Today is Monday, December 7 and we are celebrating a crystal anniversary together. I wonder why is it called crystal?  Perhaps because by now one's vision is crystal clear? Or because it is so fragile it can break into smithereens with the slightest blow?

Looking back, it's been just like a real relationship - fulfilling and rewarding for the most part, yet sometimes turbulent. One brief break-up followed by a sweet make-up! Nothing that a few sessions of couple's counselling can't fix - which actually comes as part of the offering under the heading of  'resilience training'. I'm in, so sign me up! 

Malcolm X said: "The future belongs to those who prepare for it today" - and I couldn't have been more prepared. 

But for today, it is still the best (career)love-story ever told.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Trust Me, I'd Rather Be Knitting!

There was this kid in my elementary school who was a total, well, loser. 

Before any anti-bullying crew jumps with all its might to crucify me, let me tell you that I too, today - the mother, the volunteer and myself a member of a ferocious anti-bullying crew - wouldn't have called him that. But in the cruel world of growing up in Serbia in the early 80’s, when my math teacher caught me chewing gum in grade 5 and for punishment made me spit it into her hand (!?) only for her to solidly embed the pink wad into my long hair so close to my skull that a big chunk needed to be cut off, yeah, that kid was a sorry loser. He was mean and feisty, deliberately insulting the other kids yet with nothing to show for it.  He was by far the shortest in our class, tragically non-athletic and also a really poor student. Where is he now? Just wait!

I don't recall the exact chain events that led to it, but one day my favourite teacher Madame C - who had taught us French for the three previous years - the only young and really cool teacher I ever had (she took my BFF and me to a Classics Nouveau concert when their tour went through Belgrade in 1982!!!) mocked the boy. In front of the entire class. To the hilarious roar and approval of all the 7th graders. I remembered that he actually 'deserved' it, but my stomach churned and my mind screamed at the injustice of it. 

Without thinking, I shot up. I asked the teacher why she had taunted him. I told her it was unfair: she was the adult; he was a child. She was the teacher; he was the student. 

If she was surprised at all by the outburst of a red-faced student activist, this teacher didn't show it. She nonchalantly shrugged and forced a short laugh: "Ha! All right - seems like we have a volunteer!" with menacingly careful enunciation.  "As of today, you will share a desk with him!"  N o b o d y  wanted to share a desk with him. I mean - nobody! My BFF looked at me in disbelief as my shaky hands picked up my belongings to prepare for the dreaded move away from our fun table. 

The aftermath? My mom came home after a subsequent parent-teacher meeting and told me in chosen words: "Kid - you're screwed! You will have to study for this class like no other - your only chance of survival is if your French mark is 100%!" And it was. As for the boy - I wish I could say that my unexpected kindness changed his ways and made him a more social and pleasant being, but that didn't happen. He continued to be a total jerk to everyone around him - especially me - just to make sure I didn't think he was now obligated to treat me any better than the others. Today he is a judge at the highest court in Belgrade. Dial 1-800-SIGMUND!

Throughout my life, despite throwing myself into the study of botanics and chemistry and other noble things, I frequently ended up being that voice. 

If someone's pushing people and cutting the line, you'll hear me. A mother is oblivious to her child being aggressive in the playground, I speak up. A hit and run of a homeless person? I am the one who manages to snap a photo of the license plate, noting the time, day, make and model. My testifying got the poor woman a year of physiotherapy and massage treatments and a luxurious doggy day care for her only companion. If I witness the injustice, no matter how tough or tricky the circumstances are, I will say something. After all, my mother's entire career has been as a successful lawyer who often represented women pro bono. If not by proximity, I would have had to get some of her justice-league gene through breast milk! 

Please don't get me wrong. I do not plan, plot nor enjoy being the designated Joan of Arc. I am fully aware that in centuries past women like me have been burned at the stake. Even today, elsewhere in the world women’s voices are silenced in the worst ways possible. Trust me, I'd rather be knitting! But for some reason, I have often found myself in situations where saying nothing would have made me an accessory and an accomplice. That simply can not happen. Not to me. 

And that's not all. Somehow, it seems that the whole world conspires to nudge me into this braver version of myself. The non-fiction addict that I am, the right books and articles drop into my lap. And then the right people to discuss those ideas with. 

From Malala Yousafzai  to Cheryl Sandberg and numerous life and business coaches, trailblazers and she-heroes in between, the message has been sinking in at every turn and every milestone. It certainly shows up at every obstacle. The Universe has made sure I hear it. It also made sure I will lose sleep should I attempt to neglect it.

The more popular choice, the safer choice, the boring choice, the keep-your-gaze-down choice, the "this-too-shall-pass" choice, the "It's a Man's World" choice - these have simply never been an option for me. When nagging starts, I am put into places and situations that make it all but impossible to retreat. I am compelled to make sure my voice is heard. Could I simply be born this way?

What follows also has a pattern. At the exit of the whirlwind I feel elated and glorious yet utterly exhausted. I get thanked and revered and celebrated. I also get silently hated and scoffed at and plotted against - not everybody will be a fan of each outcome. Before the courage is mustered to go deep and face the truth it is convenient to find someone to blame. How about the one with the loudest mouth? Somehow since my grade 7 incident, that loudest mouth has often been, well, mine. 

Do you believe in the infinite wisdom of the Internet? As it happens - I now do! In the past little while, I've randomly seen/received all of the quotes with which I have adorned this blog post. I call them Quotes Internet Wants Me To See #QIWMTS

Just as I was getting ready to press this 'publish' button, the one displayed at the end showed up. All right Universe - challenge accepted! Let's learn how to do this! 


Monday, 5 October 2015

In Defence of a Selfie

I dread seeing headlines that accuse smart phones of robbing us of our present moment. 

Article upon article accusing parents of neglecting their children. Working people losing productivity at the office. Fingers pointed at teenagers for taking selfies, calling them egotistic and self-obsessed. And never mind all those clinical studies showing decline in cognitive function and disruption of the circadian rhythm due to the radio frequency and glare of the screen!

I dread it mostly because I am compelled to read it all, fearful that one of these days I might be found guilty of some or even all of the above. But I dread it more because I waste time reading the stuff that does not really interest me - I am a kick ass parent. I read it solely because of the potential guilt of which I'm afraid I might be currently oblivious. Note to self: please don’t give a damn who says what! 

So it's been on my mind for a while now - life coach that I am - to look for what is good in having my mighty iPhone be my constant companion for the last several years. And although I can often point to a text message or a quick call that made me come alive, feel loved and appreciated in that very present moment we are accused of wasting away while staring at the phone, I still somehow fail to find a strong case in defence of my sleek Disney "Cars" stickers-adorned phone being near me so often.

Just this past week I dared post a selfie on Facebook taken right upon checking into the Trump Tower hotel. It was that moment when I closed the door of the suite on the 22nd floor behind me and leaped to explore the bathroom (don't ask - the bathroom is absolutely the very first place I check out every single time) only then glancing at my king-sized bed. A flirty pink orchid on the desk. A full selection pillow menu. I mean pillow menu! Automatic blinds. A single standing bathtub overlooking Toronto's downtown. Heated floors. Sunflower shower. A built-in TV in the bathroom mirror (I turned on only once just to experience the insanity of that innovation in hotel offerings and question the sanity of the market that bought into it!).
This is home for the next five days? - Hell YES! 

The only thing I had to do was drop my bags and throw myself - with all the might of a yoga aficionado - backwards on the silky white bedding. Snap a selfie and - voilà! This shot garnered a lot of praise and 'Facebook love' but also some comments that made me think:

- "I am not good at taking selfies"
- "I feel awkward taking pictures of myself"
- "Am I becoming some self-obsessed lunatic?" 

As of this writing I am not aware of any articles defending a selfie. All I have ever come across has been negative. So please search for the science of it someplace else - I am no scientist. Instead, I am a storyteller. Here is the story: 

Take as many goddamn selfies as you please, please! No justifying and no apologies. 

Why wouldn't you? Especially if you are a woman

Are we not always the ones who are hidden behind the camera and later missing on all major life event photos?! You make the cake, decorate it and then stand as far as you can from your child blowing the birthday candles? 
Last time someone took photographs of you was at your wedding. An attempt to have a say how you wanted to be captured risked putting you in the bridezilla category. So you pursed your lips. 
Then came pregnancy and although glowing, you felt too big to take too many photos other than the growing belly ones - they are justified. Your face with those dark splotchy spots and the double-chin - not so much. 
For the following several years you used all the kids you have delivered to hide your body at the beach. So - conveniently - you became a family photographer of your own family. 
Then kids entered the phase when they just make silly faces followed by a phase where they want nothing to do with you, let alone take a photo. 
The next time you look - if you did life right - you will have a few deep wrinkles and a myriad of those only visible to you, making you conscious of how to choose the angle, the light, the hair toss... 

You know where I am going with this? 
When you glance at your watch next time, kids will be gone and you will finally have the time to arrange those photo albums - one of life's most taunting mega projects I am intimidated to even think about. And guess what? You will notice, with sadness, that your vibrant and younger self, missed out on too many of those hug and squeeze and "cheese" moments. 

I have met many refugees over the past decade and a half of living as an immigrant in Canada - some have lost everything prior to safely landing here. The very lucky ones have only lost material possessions. When I ask them - what one thing do they miss the most - the answer is always the same. The photographs. The account they were younger once. More innocent. Still dreaming. 
I will happily be labeled egotistic and self-obsessed. But to me, selfie is 'dope'. It is my proof Marina was here, in my beautiful, busy and complicated life, rightiously taking my space under the sun. 
You are welcome to take a look!

That time I was a double divorcee with a child
That time I got my plane ticket for Belgrade
That time I discovered the joys of hot yoga
That time I discovered the sadness of an empty nester
That time I remembered I have two more kids to go ;-)
That time I finally summoned my crew
That time we attempted a family photo
That time we had three generations together
That time I felt the call of the wild
That time the call of the domesticated came a bit too close
That time I witnessed beginning of Shabbat in Jerusalem
That time I witnessed sunrise at Taj Mahal
That time car-crazy replaced car-sick
That time I walked to help End Women's Cancer
That time I drank to celebrate amazing woman's birthday
That time I got photobombed
That time I almost went deaf
That time I surrendered and played along
That time I really loved my outfit
That time I really loved myself

It is all well worth it. You are well worth it. Now - you go do it!
Take as many selfies as you please. Take them even if you don't please. Give it a try. Just like the mirror work it will help you get to know and love the beautiful you inside of you.

Your ten-years-older self will love you for it!

Thursday, 17 September 2015

So You Think You Can Volunteer...

It’s been two weeks since we returned from Haryana, India and the most common request I hear these days: "You have to tell me all about it"  leaves me overwhelmed - 2 weeks, 3000 photos and countless connected hearts later I struggle with where to begin, knowing it will never end: the story of how we first met - India and I.

Here is my photo attempt to describe this larger-than-life volunteering experience in 10 Hinglish terms. 

I owe the gratitude for teaching me - all of the following words as well as the ones from Hinglish for Beginners (Part 1 and Part 2) - to this man, we fondly got to call Vicky. Vicky - a devoted Sikh - sat with me many evenings, painstakingly answering my questions, patiently finding matches to numerous expressions I was curious about. He is my teacher-ji aka linguistic specialist.
But to the 10 world-wide-spoiled-brats that came to volunteer and stayed in his care for 15 days -- he was like a mother - counting us (yup, he counted us!), making sure we eat, sleep, have crisp clean clothes to wear and get to places on time. A devoted husband, a man of knowledge and unshakeable faith he makes India proud. Oh how much I miss you, (mom) Vicky!

Vicky and two of my favourite road-trip sidekicks
Let's begin! 

DIL: HEART - A must have on the volunteer's TO BRING list. Not just the beating heart, but the heart wide open.    

It is an asset way more important than a business card, let alone the little letters following your name suggesting your awesome qualifications. Please don't apply to volunteer should you not have a heart at all. And if you got randomly selected and still showed up, forget growing the heart and just bring patience, humility and basic decency. For 😖🔨⚡️🚽‼️'s sake. Bitte!

Be ready for your heart to be ripped out and shredded into pieces right upon arrival - witnessing extreme poverty is not for everyone. Miraculously, that same heart will be all stitched up and glued back together over the next few weeks. It will become bigger and fuller. Mine most certainly did! 

The reality of how 40% of people live - under the poverty line

Homeless sleep at the highway median. And dry their laundry.

Devastating sight of women and children living in poverty

          MUSKURANA: SMILE - Other than at the airport this was my real passport. Despite the immense August heat, I wore it every day, deliberately forgetting my sunglasses. It is a language everyone understands. What a volunteer MUST leave at home: judgement, sarcasm, idea of entitlement and a watch! Life in India always happens on time!
The universal language: smiling eyes & smiling lips 

          SAATH KAM KARNA: COOPERATION - Best described through witnessing the selfless effort of a motorist who for miles helped an overloaded bicycle move through Delhi’s overwhelming traffic. It is a part of the everyday human experience in India. "Paying it forward" at its essence. 

JHAN PEHCHAN: CONNECTION - the tightly-knit community is the main reason for low depression and minuscule suicide rates. One’s wealth is measured in friendships rather than in rupees. 

This is what retirement looks like in India: chai and chat

In two weeks some of us became good friends with our team India - we shared work experiences, enthusiasm for what we do and plenty of laughs.

❤️my PSI team!

         ASHIRWAD: BLESSING - Deeply spiritual, Indian people offer blessings even to strangers. I didn’t understand most things said to me, but a hand placed on my head or a fragrant guava offering meant I was welcome and appreciated. 

RANG: COLOUR - The backdrop of India is often bleak - chipped paint, mould stains, piles of broken bricks - but the life within it as vibrant and beautiful and alive and optimistic as it gets.

A girl's heaven: saree shopping!

Women wore the most beautiful fabrics - my fellow volunteer - KFC (a nickname earned on the first day given he is from Louisville - Kentucky!) noticed we have never seen the same pattern, much unlike the GAP! Even the men were not too far behind! 

JAWAN: YOUNG - India is the youngest of nations, its median age being 28. This will be a major asset for growth and the economy. These people are young, eager and have a fantastic work ethic that begins at a very young age.

SHAKTI: LIFE FORCE - Because how else does one explain the resilience despite all obstacles?

Agra mattress delivery service

Loading dry grass on a truck...
... that is tall as the Monkey Temple gate - singlehandedly @ humid 48C

ANAND: JOY - A habitual joyful demeanour overrides the everyday struggle and poverty. People look for ways to be happy and they keep finding them more often then anywhere I have ever seen. 

          Saying that - seeing a blonde woman wave at schoolboys is apparently hilarious! OK, I admit - these guys were so curious they gathered closely around my car . The only thing I had to do was blow a kiss - resulting in the explosion of laughter and teasing about who was the kiss for! Priceless! 

My favourite memory
          ASTHA:  "A deeply-rooted belief in something for which you are ready to do anything". I feel shivers. Everybody should have this clear in their mind and heart. Indian people draw their spiritual strength from their family and their many religions. This is the answer to my most pressing question - how come everybody is so happy? Every breath they take they serve something greater than themselves. 
Her privilege is to clean and prepare flowers for the Hindu temple

FIR MILENGE:  SEE YOU AGAIN - Because of course this can not be the end for me. I have to come back. Soon. 
Hey India, can't wait to see you again!