Friday, April 29, 2011


Could this really be my last post? Where to begin and what to say. As tempted as I am to use this post to talk more about Mike's (my other half) sleeping positions at night, where any person on the outside looking in would think they're watching an intense game of Twister involving him, his bed, and his lawn chair, I'll refrain from the temptation of doing that.

With that said, I'm back to the same question of where to begin this thing and what to say. I guess no better place then with the first thing that pops into my head and believe it or not, that thought is appropriate and it is this...was it better that I stayed in Kolkata for 4 months or would it have been better if I was only here for about week? Some of you may find this kind of question as a little weird, but when your me, and you had an experience a couple days ago where one moment you're lifting a dead man out of the street so he doesn't get ran over and the very next moment you're smiling again, then you'll get a better idea as to why I have to ask myself this question. In a way, you could say poverty and I have been playing hide and seek ever since I've been up in Kolkata and initially, I'd have to say that poverty was quite easy to find as it hid right in the open. Now, after nearly 4 months time, poverty is still hiding in places that my 6 year old niece could seek out in a matter of seconds, but for whatever reason, it's taking me minutes to find it and that's a disturbing thing for me to acknowledge.

Tyson...maybe you didn't feel anything when you moved that dead guy off the street, but at least you made the effort to do it, which is more than what most would do around here. Yes. That's true.'s one thing to feel less when exposed to a situation and another thing to care or do less when exposed to the same situation and your experience with the dead man shows you that clearly didn't care less or do less. True.

I may have a scar on my stomach to remind me about my stay in India, but unless I walk away with a scar on my heart, it would defeat the purpose of coming up here and so I can only hope that as arrive at the airport later this afternoon, I'll have a heavy heart to check in as luggage in addition to my backpack.

In starting this post, I began with "where to begin," and I now I find myself asking, "where to end" and just as I started with the first thought that crossed my mind, I'll end in a similar fashion and that thought is this...the book titled, "Bulls*** my Dad says" is probably the funniest book I've ever read. Maybe this hurts my "Christian" points according to some people by me saying this, but let's save that debate for when we're both in Heaven.

With that said, thank you for all the words of encouragement that people have sent me while I've been in India and I hope you enjoyed my CARE MORE adventure. What happens next for me in my future is about as hard to predict as how many free throws Demetri Goodson will hit for the Zags when at the line but one thing's for sure, it's CARE MORE or bust for me and I can always use some company if anyone would like to join me.

Go Zags!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I came to find out on Easter Sunday what exactly a "hot cross bun" is and I must say, even though I'm still confused as to where the "hot" and the "cross" have anything to do with the bun, it's definitely much more enjoyable to eat in the morning than it is to play in music class like I had to when I was younger.

As of yesterday, I've begun my regular volunteer duties again and that should be enough to tell you where I'm at in my recovery process from my surgery a couple weeks ago. I'd say I'm at about 80% right now. Only now, do I wish the 110% my baseball coaches claimed we could give them on the field was a reality, since if it were, I'd be able get my health to 100% much faster by finding a couple people on the street giving that extra 10% and taking it from them. Besides the fact that a person giving 100% is more than sufficient to get the job the done, taking this extra 10% from a person giving 110% would be no different than taking 1 million from Bill Gate's savings account in my opinion, as they'd have no idea I even took it and they don't really need it do they?

With all of this said, plan to see from me one more post before I head out on Saturday, the content of which will hopefully be just as pleasant for you to read as the "hot cross bun" is for me to eat. Until then, take care and Go Zags!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


With me not posting anything on here for a while, some of you may have thought I, just like Jesus back in the day, got closed up in a tomb somewhere, but rest assured, that didn't happen and I too, AM ALIVE! The fact that I no longer have my laptop has made it a little more difficult for me to make as many posts on here as I've been accustomed to in the past and since I don't see this trend changing for the last week I'm here, I'd recommend that you cherish each post just like you should cherish each day you wake up.

As for what I've been up to since my last post, I guess it all depends on the day as there was one day, I made an effort to change my flight and go home early, a few other days I've been the doorman at the Mother House for the Sisters, and a few other days where I've been completely devoted to creating for myself a daily checklist of sorts that I'm titling "a CARE MORE kind of day." The thought of taking the time to do this last activity has entered and exited my mind in the past just as fast as the new names of people I've been introduced to from time to time, but now, I'm finally forcing myself to put something down on paper.

The daily checklist, also popularly known as a "to do" list, isn't something that should be that foreign to anyone reading this I would imagine and they help us remember the kiwis at the supermarket, the meeting with the boss at 2pm, and picking up the clean pants at the dry cleaners. This kind of "to do" list is important no doubt, especially the picking up the kiwis at the supermarket activity, but even after picking up those kiwis on the list, spending way too much time skinning it once you get home, and finally eating all of its vitamin glory, I still find that my "to do" list is missing something. It might leave my fridge happy with a 6 pack of "Blue Moon" in it and my closet happy with clean pressed pants, but even with these things checked off my list, I find that my heart is asking me the same question a small child might ask their parents after coming home from a big trip abroad--"what did you get me?" Uhhhh....want a kiwi?

So what makes the heart happy? I don't intend to tackle that topic on this post as I think that's a question each person needs to ask themselves. All I know, is that my heart likes to SMILE, LAUGH, LOVE, BE A KID, CARE MORE, GROW, EXERCISE, MEDITATE, and APPRECIATE LIFE among other things and I'm gonna try my best to check these off my "to do" list every day from here on out.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Someone once said, a fool learns from his own mistakes and I wise man learns from the mistakes of others. Although I'd have to say the label of "fool" should be reserved more for the person that doesn't even learn from their mistakes than the person that does, I can see some truth to what this person says. Why it takes personal suffering for a person to change their behavior, instead of by the suffering of others engaged in the same behavior in the past is really a sad reality of life and I've been guilty of learning this way myself, just recently as a matter of fact. And since it's too late for me to learn from the carelessness of others with respect to their personal property, I have no choice but to learn from my own and the lesson is this...

Don't let whatever utopian world you'd like to live in remove you from the real world that you are a part of. In the context of my recent theft, this means that regardless of my desire to live in a "you don't have to lock your door" kind of world, the reality of things is that we live in a world where people steal if given the opportunity and in acknowledging this, I should have bought a lock for the outside of my room like everyone else had done at the Salvation Army. Prior to this experience, I would have said anyone with a lock on the outside of their room was just excessively paranoid, just like I always told this to my parents when they always had, and I'm sure at this very moment, have their door locked while inside the house, but only now, do I realize that this kind of a precaution is in fact wisdom.

After all it's not the 97% of the people out there that we have to protect ourselves from, it's the other 3% and although I still won't say a person that learns from their mistakes is a fool, the person that acts as if the 3% don't live in this world, is the fool.

Lesson learned.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Maybe taking a pain pill a day won't keep the doctor away like it does for apples, but you'd think it would at least keep pain away, but I can't say I've had that experience recently, even when taking 3 pills a day as instructed. In all actuality, I've had quite the opposite experience in that not taking my pain pills, has the mysterious result of me having almost less pain. I can't explain this phenomenon any better than I can the truth of how focusing on making others happy has the effect of making you happier, but all I know is that this is just how it is. (For my parent's peace of mind, the pain I'm referring to above is not anything to worry about as it is becoming less and less day by day)

For the 1st time, I had the opportunity yesterday to catch a glance of my incision from my operation and I'd say it will leave me with a scar that's big enough to give me some good "man" points and small enough to not scare any kids away. With the doctor advising me to see him a week after my operation last Friday and it being Thursday today, it looks like tonight will be my last night at St. Mary's. With how much time Mary and I have spent cuddling and watching movie after movie this last week, The Bucket List, Dr. Doolittle 2, Ants, Invincible, Law Abiding Citizen, The Truman Show, Kickboxer, Big Trouble in Little China, and Gone in 60 Seconds to name a few, I'd think I'd at least get a friend invite from her on Facebook, but we'll see.

Although Mary and I made some good memories no doubt, one of the more profound memories I'll walk away with here was a conversation I had with a brother that just transfered to this location about 14 days ago from an aboriginal village. In discussing some of the differences he's noticed so far from village to city life outside of the obvious, he said the strong sense of community that you'd find in the village he was in is what he'll miss the most. In talking with him about this more, I'll admit it might take me some time to get used to letting a complete stranger like they would at the village, stay at my place and while they do, to greet them with a smile after I found out they took the liberty of going through my closet and throwing on my favorite pair of Zag sweats, but there's still something about that kind of a community that I find very intriguing. A community where the principle of "what's mine is yours" is the doormat of every hut and where each person is essentially a walking and breathing Good Samaritan.

Maybe it's unrealistic to expect this kind of community blueprint to fit the big city life, just as it is to expect in a city for everyone to give you the "small town" hello as you drive by them, but I can't help but think we are more to blame for some of this than the city itself. I mean, it's not the city's fault we don't know our neighbors' names anymore is it? Or why we don't offer a friendly smile and "hello" to a person you pass by on the sidewalk at night? A sad state of things really and although, stopping by my other 7 neighbors' rooms at my complex and saying "how have things been" once I get back home won't change the city into the village, it's one step closer to the community I'd like to have at my place and so I'm gonna take that step.

By the way, my Zag sweats are still off limits so don't even think about it :)

Monday, April 11, 2011


This morning, has really been no different than the other mornings since I've been staying at the St. Mary's school, which means yet again, my face ended up against my door at about 7:00 a.m. in an attempt to get a hint as to whether or not morning mass was finished so I could step out of my room and avoid the scenario of a premature exit that might make some of the people in prayer mistake a guy with bedhead, Gonzaga mesh shorts and a Chang Beer T-Shirt as some sort of messenger of God. As to why this could even be a scenario for me if you haven't already guessed it is because my room is located in the heart of the chapel.

If it wasn't for what seemed like all the kids from K to 6th grade having recess right outside my window while I was engaged in this activity, I probably would have been able to make both my stomach and the ceiling above my bed happier since the one would have had breakfast earlier and the other could relax a bit and become less self-conscious, as I wouldn't be staring at it as much as I did. While on the topic of recess, how great was this, back in the day at school? Let me rephrase that, how great was recess, as long as you weren't the kid who instead of getting to play on the monkey bars and the swinging tire, got to have other people play out the theory of elasticity with their underwear? As to why recess is more suitable and of greater benefit for kids in elementary school and not for adults in the workplace is not something I can make a strong argument for as I think a 45 year old financial advisor has the same desire for fun and need for a break (lunch doesn't count) from work as a 4th grader does. Sure, maybe the workplace can't provide the jungle gym like the school does for it's students, but I see no reason why like at my last place of employment, you can't have a good ol' fashioned crab walk race every now and then down the hallway. Whether you crab walk at work or you don't isn't as important to me though as it is that you CARE MORE about preserving the kid that's inside you. Time, might change what we look like on the outside, but it should never change who we've always been on the inside.

Once I got out of my room, I had the normal vegetable omelette and a bowl of porridge waiting for my attention at the table and although, I can't say the porridge left me saying like Goldilocks did, "this porridge is just right" since for that to happen there would of had to of been some cinammon, honey, and maybe even some raisens mixed in there, I'd still say it was "just fine" and of course, greatly appreciated.

By the way, day by day, I'm beginning to feel less pain from the surgery and what were once firecrackers in my side earlier when I coughed, have now just become nothing more than a little pinch in the side and even though I can't stand it when people pinch me, especially on St. Patrick's Day, I'll take that feeling in this particular instance.

Go Zags!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Oliver Oliver!

Beginning yesterday afternoon, I accepted an invitation to go stay at a guest room at St. Mary's Orphanage School where I can have a little more solitude for the next 4 or 5 days as I recover from my surgery. How I even received an invitation to this place came out of the relationship I've formed with one of the teachers there by the name of Jim, who also volunteers with our team on the weekends.

Just to put everyone's mind at ease, the St. Mary's orphanage isn't like the "Oliver Twist" kind, where when you ask "please sir...may I have some more" you risk a good flogging; rather, it's quite the opposite experience where the closest thing I could compare it to would be when your a dinner guest at someone's house and the host piles your plate up with seconds and throws out the customary "oh, don't be shy" remark.

As for my recovery status, I'm still doing fine, but I'm anxious for the day to come when a cough or a sneeze on my behalf, won't feel like someone lit a firecracker in my stomach. Until that day comes, I'm just taking it easy, still reading the books I probably shouldn't, and enjoying listening to the birds outside my window that are of the kind that makes you think your an extra on the set of some fairy tale...or maybe that's just the pain pills making me feel that.

Go Zags!

Saturday, April 9, 2011


My appendix has officially been liberated from a life of insignificance and with the exception of some slight pain that normally develops after someone puts a knife in your stomach, I'm doing fine.

Not sure if it's the effect of the pain pills I'm on, the lingering thought of the Hindi nurse violating my backside earlier in the day that made me feel like I was in an X-rated movie, or if it's the experience I had of walking into my room at the Salvation Army only to find out that my locker was broken into and all my electronics (laptop, camera, video recorder) and cash were stolen that is giving me a small case of writer's block; but regardless, I don't have much of an appetite to write at the moment and so I'll just reserve this post to thank everyone for their prayers and support while I was in the hospital and let all of you know I'm doing fine.

Even if Kolkata has given me as much love in the last couple days as a Catholic teacher would have given a student trying to write with their left hand back in the old days, I can still stay without hesitation that life is still good.

Go Zags

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Word of advice, make sure to give the lower right side of your abdomen a friendly pat on the belly every now and then to show your appendix a little appreciation, even if you don’t know what purpose it serves in your body, because if you don’t, the lil’ guy just might retaliate on you like it has on me and you’ll find yourself with an appointment the next morning to get it removed.

With my appendix having 6 yrs of experience listening in on all the grievances I had to deal with in HR in my prior employment, I would have thought it would have known my door was always open and that I would have been happy to discuss any frustrations it might have had with me, or my body, but as the Indians like to say around here, “what to do”—can’t do anything about it now. The Dalai Lama mentioned in one of the books I read, that before someone can have compassion, they must have empathy, and in light of this, I do feel sorry for the appendix as it lives a life of complete insignificance. Here you have the heart, lungs, liver, pancreas, kidneys, brain, gallbladder, and intestines, even the small one, that can walk away at the end of a work day and say they contributed to life, but the appendix doesn’t have that privilege as it really serves no purpose in the body as reinforced by me getting mine taken out tomorrow and being totally ok by that. Give me a life too, where all I do is exist, without the ability to live my life with a purpose, and I’m probably reacting no differently than my appendix has—get me out of here! If there’s such a thing as organ karma and it’s anything similar to Hindu or Buddhism karma, I can’t imagine what an organ had to of done in its prior lifetime to be reincarnated into the appendix, but it had to have been real bad.

As to how I feel about 9 hours before my operation if it’s of any interest to you, I’m quite at peace with the situation and the pain I’m experiencing right now is similar to what my reaction has been to the spice up here—it could have been spicier, which means the pain could be much worse. In talking with some people here the last couple days, all of whom oddly enough don’t have appendix’s, it doesn’t seem like I have a lot to worry about since the doctors here perform appendectomies just as much as people back home frequent Taco Treat and that’s a volume of operations I’m comfortable with. Since the Dr. told me I’d have to get my appendix taken out here or at home regardless, another positive I can find in this is that it will cost me about $400 to get it done here where back home it would have cost at least triple that price. CARE MORE about the positives in a situation is also a nice Dalai Lama tip if you're looking to achieve happiness in life.

Looks like I’ll be staying overnight at the hospital Thursday, but I’ll give everyone an update of good health on Friday.

Go Zags!

Monday, April 4, 2011


I’m not quite sure who brings in the patients to Kalighat and Prem Dan, but whoever it is, I don’t think I’d like to be them right about now, when considering both of the centers are filled to their capacity and the Sisters are now beginning to turn away people, who a few weeks ago, would have been admitted no problem. With the situation as it is right now at the centers, you just have to hope that the people on the streets dying, can put a pause on dying, or better yet, push the rewind button on dying, so they can buy some time for some beds to open up again at the centers.

As for India life outside of volunteering right now, I’m still trying to adapt to the custom of waiting in lines around here. By using the term “line,” this can be misleading for the reader though, since a line would imply that the “first come first serve” concept is something that’s a part of it, but it’s really the exact opposite here as the India concept of a line is more like “first person to get to the front and step on your shoes while doing it, is the 1st person to get served.” Back home, you might very well tell the person attempting to cut in, “nice try,” but here, after seeing some of the maneuvers that the Indians perform to get to the front of the line, a “nice move” is almost more appropriate. If there’s any positive to the line experiences I’ve had here, it would be that it’s presented me with a great opportunity to improve my patience and that’s never a bad thing.

With my days becoming less at the Salvation Army, my daily chai intake has become much more, and in large part because of Mike, my “second half,” as I think he’s trying to maximize this last month we have with each other and the best way he knows how is over a cup of chai. In one of Mike’s prior sermons, he’s quoted me the scripture of “thou shalt not have any idols before God,” and if a person didn’t know any better, they just might think Mike has violated this commandment--with chai as his idol. In Heaven, if God were to confront Mike on this subject, I can already see Mike saying something like, “IDOL! No way God! You're the King of Kings! By the way, I heard the chai is amazing up here, can you point me in the direction of where the closest shop is?”

Saturday, April 2, 2011


As I write this, it happens to be shortly after India just won the World Cup against Sri Lanka, ending a 28 year drought of winning the cup. You’d think I’d be celebrating and joining hands with the horns, firecrackers, drums, Indian flags, “haaaaaaaaayyyyys”and people that I can hear and see outside my window right now, but I’m not. Maybe the age of 29 is the crossing point where a person becomes “too old for this kind of stuff” and that would explain my lack of enthusiasm to celebrate India’s wins, but I think it has more to do with team India not being my team and cricket not being my sport. I also wouldn’t even feel comfortable trying to match the emotion of the Indian people right now as trying to do that would be like me trying to match the enthusiasm of a person that just found out they won the lottery for $300 million dollars. Sure, I’m happy for them, but I’m not the one that won the lottery. All I know is that if the spirit of celebration seen in the Indian people after the World Cup win is anything close to what I’d feel if Gonzaga won the national championship in basketball, I can only hope this is something I can experience in my lifetime.

With the weather here starting to get hotter and it only taking about an hour outside now to leave the backside of my shirt as wet as a bed sheet of a 2 year old, I’ve started to become quite the frequent customer at the movie cinema since it’s a great venue to escape the heat and get some air conditioning for a couple hours. When I say frequent customer too, let’s just say I went to “The Fighter” on back to back days and that by the way is another 1st for me, and not because I went to the same movie on back to back days, but because I went to a Mark Walberg movie on back to back days. Come to think of it, me going to a Mark Walberg movie on back to back days at the theater just might be a 1st for anyone and that might be something that could get me in the World’s Book of Guineas Records. If you can deal with the F word being said about 30 times in a movie, I’d highly recommend “The Fighter” since the story is quite inspiring and to give Mark Walberg credit, he’s didn’t do a bad job in this one.

On my second trip to “The Fighter” I also took with me Mike, Johnny, and “Tubby” from the senior citizen center and they enjoyed the show as much as any person would that hasn’t gone to the movies in 20 yrs, as was the case for them. In asking them why they didn’t go to the movies more often, the response I got was “because it’s too expensive” and as reminder to all of you, the cost of a movie ticket here equates to $1 U.S. Back home we have kids complaining because they can’t get both a bag of popcorn and a box of candy when they go to the movies, and here, you have some people that will never even have the opportunity to see a movie in a theater. Just makes you think a bit.


Friday, April 1, 2011


With me landing in India early January, me now being 1 year older since my arrival, and it now being the afternoon of April 1st as I write this update, it just reminds me how much “time” flies. Not sure if “time” is on a frequent flyer program like I am, but it would be quite foolish if it wasn’t since it seems to be flying nearly every minute of the day, and without even offering a goodbye or farewell hug no less upon leaving, which isn’t very nice of it when considering how close of friends time and I have become over the years.

Not sure if “time” is the type of passenger that prefers 1st class or coach, window seat or aisle, but whether it's 5A or 25D that “time” takes a seat in for its next flight, I know it doesn’t have to worry about who’s sitting in 5B or 25E right next to it, since that seat is always reserved for its favorite flight companion in “life.” I’ll admit, knowing this makes me a bit jealous about “time,” since “life” is as beautiful of a passenger a person can have sitting next to them, the type that would leave a guy boasting to his buddy after the flight saying, “you’ll never guess who I got to sit next to on my flight.”

With so many places to see and things to do in the world and so little opportunity to do it, I don’t blame “time” and “life” for flying so much because I would too, if I could afford it. All I hope is that with all this flying around that “time” and “life” are doing, that they’ll occasionally look out their window of the plane and enjoy the scenery, unlike other passengers I’ve seen, that tend to be content with just sleeping their way through the entire flight only to find out afterward that they missed the opportunity to see such things as the Himalayas.