Saturday, January 20, 2007

Reunited with RSK

Yesterday I paid a long overdue visit to Rajinder Singh Khalsa. I was feeling pretty bad about just how many months had passed since I'd seen him. When I called him on the phone this was our conversation:

"Are you home Khalsa Ji?"
"Yes brother?"
"Can I come to visit you know?"
"Why you asking this question? You are thinking too much like an American. If you know I am hom, you just come here. If nobody is home we willl give you the key. You are our family."

I took the one hour subway trip out to Richmond Hill. When I got there the place looked more or less the same. He had replaced the electric, light-up picture of the Golden Temple with a more classy-looking photo of the same. More VIP photos of him that he had taken in recent months. He had been invited by Councilmember John Liu to speak at a Diwali celebration (for some reason it was called Deepawali on the program) and he also attended a South Asian reception at Mayor Bloomberg's office (he has a great photo of himself shaking hands with Mayor Mike, who looks as frozen as a wax statue).

The man has had his highs in the past few months. But he's having his share of challenges too. The facial fractures he suffered from his beating leaves his face very sensitive to temperature changes -- his whole face aches when it gets cold or damp. He still can't work a fulltime job because he gets tired after two hours - - even in talking with me and sharing all of his recent highlights, he became exhausted (and this is a guy who LOVES to talk about his achievements).

But he was cheered up when he watched the video of his daughter's wedding that I had finally completed over the holidays (the wedding was back in April!) I felt good too watching it - there were some really nice moments and shots that I had captured. And just sitting beside him I did feel like part of the family in some way. There are some people in the world that make you feel right at home, and Khalsa Ji is one of them.

I promised Khalsa Ji that I would see more of him. In fact I want to resume my education in Sikhims under his tutelage. I plan to stop by next Friday to ask him to help me with Ardas, and see what other conversations emerge. It's all part of a process of knowing and growing more.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Getting back on the horse

Man, 2006 was a mad busy year. So much happened. And yet here I am, Warrior Saints still a work in progress. But it's like a wise person once said, sometimes the journey counts more than the destination.

Some of the highlights that have happened since my last visit to the blog:

- Getting help from my first ever intern! Meher Kaur was a tremendous help this past summer with translation of interviews, editing and just being a good person to talk to in figuring out next steps.
- Visiting Camp Chardi Kala, the first and oldest Sikh youth camp in the United States - celebrating their 30th anniversary.
- Getting a rousing reception at the Spinning Wheel Sikh Film Festival in Toronto - my second visit to Spinning Wheel, and an even better time than last year.
- And most recently, attending the Surat Sikh Youth Conference in New York. What an inspiration to see so many young Sikhs gathering together to gain knowledge, support and inspiration to live their lives by their highest principles. Plus I finally got the distinct pleasure of meeting Professor Cynthia Mahmood, one of the most respected scholars on Sikh contemporary history and culture. I sincerely hope to see more of her in the future.

I have many new year's resolutions for 2007, as there's more to do and d experirience than ever boefore. But one thing I want to commit to is writing in this blog more frequently. This is my space and place to work through a lot of the questions I need to answer to finish my project and make it what I want it to be. God give me strength, wisdom and perseverance to see it through.