Sunday, October 28, 2007

An Anniversary I Never Wanted

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

Not a Jubilant Jubilee

This weekend marks the 25th yahrzeit of my father, may his memory be blessed.

This morning, I sat on the balcony of our hotel-room, facing the Taj Mahal not too far off in the distance, thinking about the ritually simple, pine box in which my father was buried compared to the bereaved Mughal emperor's monumental tomb for his favorite wife.

A herd of sheep proceeded across a hill just over the floral wall of the hotel and I recalled my dad teaching me a pop song from his era, which needed to be sung quickly for full effect: "Mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat ivy; a kid'll eat ivy, too, wouldn't you?"

My dad, who was a toy and game designer, earned his Bachelors in Industrial Design from the phenomenal Rhode Island School of Design. He taught me to honor my imagination before I lost him, which was fortunate, as I've been imagining a continuing, rich relationship with him ever since his death, when he was just 56 and I, 17.

Vision and a Calling

Many people think of imaginative people as having vision, or being visionary, and I don't relate to that version of imagination. More so, I relate to imaginative people being called to do something essential. I hear things, rather than see them, I think.

My sort of imagination has never worried me -- other than lately, when I keep thinking I'm hearing my cell phone when I'm not; I *must* download a new ring-tone. My imagination, I do feel, is more aural than visual, more so stimulated aurally than visually.

An example of my sort of imagination would be my fairly keen recall of dialogue. Also, when I believe in a future state, I'm called to promote it, I think, rather than that I can see it, and want everyone else to see it, too.

Hearing and Seeing in Agra

No doubt, the Taj Mahal is wondrous, particularly in nearly-full moonlight, as Pat and I were privileged to see it last night. The chanting, apparently coming from the adjacent mosque, is what really intrigued me during our evening view of it, though.

Waiting for our half-hour slot for the evening view, we met Christine, a German tourist whose travel agent also did not know about the full-moonlight viewing opportunity. She had to educate her travel agent, as Pat did ours. And Pat wouldn't have known if our friend Lyn hadn't given us a book called something like 25 Things to See Before You Die.

Christine was from a town 100 km from Frankfurt and close to what had been the East German border; "I've been to Africa and the United States, but I had never been to East Germany," she said.

When we began speaking with Christine, we apologized that we needed to speak English. Pat said in German that she spoke just a little German and I said that I spoke just a little Yiddish.

"You might be interested to know, since you speak some Yiddish," she said while we discussed East and West Germany while the wall was still in place, "The wall came down on November 11th, which was the same day as Kristalnacht, and so our Independence Day is celebrated on October 3rd, rather than on November 11th."

In the bus, during the short ride back to our hotels, we established that Christine had lost both her parents nearly 30 years ago while I had lost my dad 25 years ago -- all to cancer. Pat had lost her dad nearly 20 years ago, too.

Here we were, three daughters, all of whom had lost at least one parent, visiting a 300+-year-old mausoleum of someone we never knew, honoring someone else's dead, from a religious tradition that differed from ours. And the Mughal emperor and the three of us had common ground.

No comments: