Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Au revoir, Isaac....

Today's Kaleva, the local newspaper in Oulu, had a wonderful report about Isaac Sundarajan, retiring CEO of Codenomicon Oy, who is going to devote the next year of his life to help his wife, Nalla, to get one of her life's ambitions, to help the depressed and abused women in India, to find a footing and become self-reliant.

Isaac's immense management and financial expertise will help Nalla to establish something lasting in that part of India that both Isaac and Nalla originally hail from, Tamilnadu. But their work will not end there.....

We older CHAFF Participants had the good fortune to hear about it directly from Isaac on Sunday evening as he joined us directly from the airport to share a few moments with us and he hosted a small dinner for those who have come to love him here in Oulu.

My special thanks to Hasim and Kasim of Goreme Pizzeria in Ranta-Kastelli for the great food they served us on this occasion!

Codenomicon Oy, under his stewardship, grew from a small Oulu centered company into an international entity winning several awards along the way. The centre of excellence for "network security" has become Oulu, thanks to the efforts of Isaac, supported by a wonderful bunch of researchers and experts in this small city.

The work culture that Isaac fostered was easy and relaxing, motivating his colleagues to give off their very best while yet enjoying their environment.

This was especially portrayed in the wonderful compilation which was given to him by the colleagues yesterday, a small booklet highlighting the personal relationship he had established with his team members.

Isaac is the embodiment of CHAFF even at this moment. His last act in Oulu yesterday was to ring me as he was walking back to his hotel to tell me that he had some wonderful warm coats to give to anyone who may need them. When I joined him at the hotel at around 10 pm, he was waiting with a bag of things which was his parting gift to the needy in Oulu!

Thank you, Isaac, for being part of CHAFF and O-India. You will remain in our hearts and minds as wonderful example of a human being with a heart.

Many of us will be there in spirit, prayer and person, to help you during this year of transition. Rest assured of that.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I Wish You a Sandpiper

Posted on all my major blogs.

I received this in an email from Joan & Kevin Dean.

Thank you for sending this to me as I am blogging it exactly for the reasons outlined in this story.

I Wish You a Sandpiper

The . Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.

The Sandpiper by Robert Peterson

She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live. I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me. She was building a sand castle or something and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea. "Hello," she said.

I answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child. "I'm building," she said. "I see that. What is it?" I asked, not really caring. "Oh, I don't know, I just like the feel of sand." That sounds good, I thought, and slipped off my shoes. A sandpiper glided by. "That's a joy," the child said. "It's a what?" "It's a joy. My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy." The bird went gliding down the beach. Good-bye joy, I muttered to myself, hello pain, and turned to walk on. I was depressed, my life seemed completely out of balance. "What's your name?" She wouldn't give up.

"Robert," I answered. "I'm Robert Peterson." "Mine's Wendy... I'm six." "Hi, Wendy." She giggled. "You're funny," she said. In spite of my gloom, I laughed too and walked on. Her musical giggle followed me. "Come again, Mr. P," she called. "We'll have another happy day." The next few days consisted of a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, and an ailing mother. The sun was shining one morning as I took my hands out of the dishwater. I need a sandpiper, I said to myself, gathering up my coat.

The ever-changing balm of the seashore awaited me. The breeze was chilly but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed. "Hello, Mr. P," she said. "Do you want to play?" "What did you have in mind?" I asked, with a twinge of annoyance. "I don't know. You say." "How about charades?" I asked sarcastically. The tinkling laughter burst forth again. "I don't know what that is." "Then let's just walk." Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face. "Where do you live?" I asked. "Over there." She pointed toward a row of summer cottages. Strange, I thought, in winter. "Where do you go to school?" "I don't go to school. Mommy says we're on vacation."

She chattered little girl talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things. When I left for home, Wendy said it had been a happy day. Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed. Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of near panic. I was in no mood to even greet Wendy. I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding she keep her child at home. "Look, if you don't mind," I said crossly when Wendy caught up with me, "I'd rather be alone today." She seemed unusually pale and out of breath. "Why?" she asked. I turned to her and shouted, "Because my mother died!" and thought, My God, why was I saying this to a little child? "Oh," she said quietly, "then this is a bad day." "Yes," I said, "and yesterday and the day before and -- oh, go away!" "Did it hurt?" she inquired. "Did what hurt?" I was exasperated with her, with myself. "When she died?" "Of course it hurt!" I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself. I strode off.

A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn't there. Feeling guilty, ashamed, and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door. A drawn looking young woman with honey-colored hair opened the door. "Hello," I said, "I'm Robert Peterson. I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was." "Oh yes, Mr. Peterson, please come in. Wendy spoke of you so much. I'm afraid I allowed her to bother you. If she was a nuisance, please, accept my apologies." "Not at all -- she's a delightful child." I said, suddenly realizing that I meant what I had just said. "Wendy died last week, Mr. Peterson. She had leukemia. Maybe she didn't tell you." Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. I had to catch my breath.

"She loved this beach, so when she asked to come, we couldn't say no. She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called happy days. But! the last few weeks, she declined rapidly..." Her voice faltered, "She left something for you, if only I can find it. Could you wait a moment while I look?" I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for some thing to say to this lovely young woman. She handed me a smeared envelope with "MR. P" printed in bold childish letters. Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues -- a yellow beach, a blue sea, and a brown bird. Underneath was carefully printed: !A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY.

Tears welled up in my eyes, and a heart that had almost forgotten to love opened wide. I took Wendy's mother in my arms. "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry," I uttered over and over, and we wept together. The precious little picture is framed now and hangs in my study. Six words -- one for each year of her life -- that speak to me of harmony, courage, and undemanding love. A gift from a child with sea blue eyes and hair the color of sand -- who taught me the gift of love.


NOTE: This is a true story sent out by Robert Peterson. It happened over 20 years ago and the incident changed his life forever. It serves as a reminder to all of us that we need to take time to enjoy living and life and each other. The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less. Life is so complicated, the hustle and bustle of everyday traumas can make us lose focus about what is truly important or what is only a momentary setback or crisis. This week, be sure to give your loved ones an extra hug, and by all means, take a moment... even if it is only ten seconds, to stop and smell the roses. This comes from someone's heart, an d is read with many and now I share it with you... May God Bless everyone who receives this! There are NO coincidences! Everything that happens to us happens for a reason. Never brush aside anyone as insignificant. Who knows what they can teach us?


SANDPIPERS Scolopacidae

Sandpipers are a highly diverse family which include the ground-dwelling snipes and woodcocks to the highly pelagic Red Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius. Biochemically they seem to have arisen from a single ancestor but underwent an explosive evolution in the early Tertiary after a great wave of extinctions in the late Cretaceous period (Piersma 1996). Today, the wide variety of sandpipers, and the close relationships of many, present numerous identification challenges. The identification literature alone is impressive. Further, the beautiful patterns and colors on juvenal-plumaged birds are among the most striking in the world, while the striking breeding plumage feathers serve to camouflage adults on their breeding grounds on the arctic tundra. Many of these arctic breeders spend the non-breeding period well south of the Equator, brightening the lives of birders in the austral summer (our winter).

Friday, April 04, 2008

Knowing how it feels to be LOVED!

Yesterday was a strange day. Joanna rang me early morning to tell me that I should take Samu to school as he was going downhill skiing and would I look after Daniel at our home as she had to go to town?

She was over before noon to leave Daniel.

Daniel, Annikki an I did several things including taking Daniel to the City dump to get rid an old TV and to the Tropical Spa to make sure the arrangements for one of our Indian Groups in Oulu were OK for the company party. When I came out of the Spa I found I had a flat tyre. As usual, my good friend, Kamu, in the spirit of CHAFF rushed to help me as I was not carrying my silicone foam repair kit.

Joanna rang me to tell me that she was very tired and would I keep Daniel till we picked up Samuel from the school and then came over so that we could go out for dinner to celebrate my birthday.

I passed by her house at about half past five and I was surprised to see Ildikó and Ilari's car parked in the driveway, but thinking that they were off for a holiday, they may have dropped in to say goodbye, it did not register. When I dropped in at the International Centre (Ville Victor) I was puzzled when Shahnaz said she would see me in the evening! Again, that did not register!

Well, the email I sent out today below explains it all and the composite picture made out of photographs taken by grandson Samu show some of the the people who made it such a great day for me.

Dear Findians, O-Indians, Chaff Participants, 59er Cathedralites, Other Cathedralites, Stephanians and many other friends all around the world,

Yesterday, I was given a great lesson - knowing how it feels to be LOVED.

As I reached the turning point to my senior years, the outpouring of love from all corners of this globe gave me a lesson which made me feel that a new era of my life is opening.

Thank you to all of you, some on the groups, others directly, others by text message, who took the trouble to communicate with me on my 65th birthday.

Ashok, as I took early retirement to help her look after Annikki's mother, I have been enjoying all the benefits and now move from half to full pension. So, I was already enjoying all the free benefits of a social security system I was taxed into the earth for when I was working!

From our daughter's family in England, Susanna, Chris and Asha, Hasnain and Willie in Toronto, Bill Patel in ???, Barbara from Italy, Ellis in New York, Ashok, Percy, Ooky and Rivca, etc., etc, etc., in Mumbai, friends from Helsinki, Tampere, Turku, Chennai, Bangalore, Tokyo, London, New York, and of course Oulu, I received personal greetings. (Sorry I am not mentioning all of you as I still have not had the time to go through all the messages.)

It will take me some time to respond personally to all of you, but respond I will.

But the height of my birthday was a surprise party organised by my daughter and her husband in her home in Oulu. Neither Annikki nor I had a clue till we arrived at her home and found a string of cars parked outside. As I walked in, there was a steady stream of friends, a veritable United Nations, Australia, China, Finland, Hungary, India, Iran, Italy, Peru (in spirit), Turkey, Venezuela, trooping out to greet me.

Ilari gave a profoundly moving speech which had me in tears and Ildikó gave me the gift on behalf all the persons from so many organisations that I felt overwhelmed. I was in shock and was hit even harder by giving me a birthday present that I really love and need - a Canon Digital camera - so that the photographs on my blog and groups will improve! Burcu, Bala and Sameer gave me their own presents. Thank you all.

It was a bring your stuff party so we had some really great grub and the spread was enormous, so much so that Joanna forgot to take out the delicious chicken salad from the fridge!

Top Row: Joanna, Samu, Daniel;
Second Row: Ilari & Tony, Kiran & me, Andy;
Third Row: Shahnaz & Yrjö, Benjamin, Sreekanth, Ani with Maria;
Bottom Row: Elina & Ildiko; Burcu, Bill.
Missing: Annikki, Bala, Pooja, Mani and Anusha, Mathias, Sameer,
Vishu, Esa, Manuel, Osku

My sincere thanks to Joanna and Tony, Ildikó and Ilari, Pooja, Mani and Anusha (who drove down all the way from Raahe (80 km away), Shahnaz and Yrjo, Andy, Ani, Bala, Benjamin, Bill, Burcu, Elina, Esa, Kiran, Manuel, Osku, Sameer, Sreekanth, Vishu, nephew Mathias who just happened to be in Oulu, grandchildren Samuel, Daniel, Maria and above all my dearest of dearest, Annikki for making it such a wonderful birthday.