Book #6 – Call Me Russell

Russell Peters is one of the funniest comedians in the world today. I loved his work from the first time I saw him on “Just For Laughs” which I watch rarely. Similar to him, I am an “AI” – Anglo-Indian, even though the story might be different. Much of the story is the same as my father. My father came over as a bachelor in 1967 from India with a degree and landed in Montreal, Canada with a one-way ticket and $200 in his pocket. Russell’s parents had $100 between them and came directly to Toronto.

Call Me Russell by Russell Peters

Call Me Russell by Russell Peters

Growing up in Toronto as a half Indian, half British girl was never very very cool… Until Russel Peters came along. All of a sudden being Indian was awesome! As soon as I saw Russell’s first appearance, I killed myself laughing, not only because it was funny, but because it was true. My Indian father agrees whole-heartedly. I then started to wonder how alike he and I really were. So when I got a chance to read his biography, how could I resist?

I wasn’t born to Anglo-Indian parents, but to Indian and English parents (one of each). Pretty close, but unlike Russell, I got the Indian names. No one questions my heritage once I tell them, but they rarely get it right if they just guess, unless they are Indian. My parents met over here and I was born here too.  Russell was the second child and was supposed to be a girl. I was the first born and was supposed to be a boy. But we both have just one brother that we cannot live without.

Like Russell, I’ve experienced the “P-Word”. He’s dedicated a whole chapter to it, while I’ve dedicated two blog posts to it, one this year and one last year. They are both pretty similar, though the catalyst for writing them was different. Funny thing though, they were written one day and one year apart. Weird.

Russell took a trip to Mumbai and visited the Oberoi and Taj Palace Hotels, as did I for my cousin’s wedding in 2006 not far apart, but both not long before they were bombed.

The stories he tells about Burhanpur remind me of mine in Matheran while visiting our friends. He had tigers, I had monkeys. If I find the picture, I promise to share it.

He and I are more alike than I realized. I know that Russell lost his father a few years back. I’m fortunate enough to still have mine, so if he ever wants to make fun of him you can borrow him anytime, but I want him back. Thanks Russell, and nobody got hurt. 😉

The Biggest Risk I’ve Ever Taken

This is a post related to the PostADay2011 Challenge: Describe the biggest risk you’ve ever taken

The biggest risk that I ever took in my life was the most difficult choice I’ve ever made, possibly the most painful. It’s when I decided that I didn’t want to do real estate after six years and tell my father that I would not be the one to carry on the legacy and take over the company someday.

When I was in high school and someone asked me what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, I said that I didn’t know, but I would NOT work for my father. At the age of 20, within 2 weeks of finishing high school I moved out. Two months later, I took a full time position at a women’s clothing store. Talk about painful! My father said that his assistant needed a back up and asked if I wanted to join his real estate consulting firm. I asked until Sunday dinner to make up my mind. The next day, I had a run-in with my manager and thought during her 30 minute long speech that neither she, I or my assistant manager had to endure, “I don’t have to put up with this.” After she had finished raking me over the coals unnecessarily, I informed her that she should consider this my two week notice as I was joining my father’s firm. I saw her jaw drop and the smile creep across the assistant manager’s face. I’d won.

I started with my father’s firm two weeks later and stayed there for six years. I started realizing that instead of filling out the tenant reports for the Boards of Director’s I was fixing the internet connection that had recently been installed in the office. I enrolled in a private college and began my career in IT. The rest is history…

Just A Gold Box

My father was kind enough to send this to me and I wanted to share it with you all.

A young man learns what’s most important in life from the neighbour next door.

It had been some time since Jack had seen the old man. College, girls, career, and life itself got in the way. In fact, Jack moved clear across the country in pursuit of his dreams.

There, in the rush of his busy life, Jack had little time to think about the past and often no time to spend with his wife and son. He was working on his future, and nothing could stop him.

Over the phone, his mother told him, “Mr. Belser died last night. The funeral is Wednesday.” Memories flashed through his mind like an old newsreel as he sat quietly remembering his childhood days.

“Jack, did you hear me?”

“Oh, sorry, Mom. Yes, I heard you. It’s been so long since I thought of him. I’m sorry, but I honestly thought he died years ago,” Jack said.

“Well, he didn’t forget you. Every time I saw him he’d ask how you were doing. He’d reminisce about the many days you spent over ‘his side of the fence’ as he put it,” Mom told him.

“I loved that old house he lived in,” Jack said.

“You know, Jack, after your father died, Mr. Belser stepped in to make sure you had a man’s influence in your life,” she said

“He’s the one who taught me carpentry,” he said. “I wouldn’t be in this business if it weren’t for him. He spent a lot of time teaching me things he thought were important…Mom, I’ll be there for the funeral,” Jack said.

As busy as he was, he kept his word. Jack caught the next flight to his hometown. Mr. Belser’s funeral was small and uneventful. He had no children of his own, and most of his relatives had passed away.

The night before he had to return home, Jack and his Mom stopped by to see the old house next door one more time.

Standing in the doorway, Jack paused for a moment. It was like crossing over into another dimension, a leap through space and time. The house was exactly as he remembered. Every step held memories. Every picture, every piece of furniture….Jack stopped suddenly.

“What’s wrong, Jack?” his Mom asked.

“The box is gone,” he said

“What box?” Mom asked.

“There was a small gold box that he kept locked on top of his desk I must have asked him a thousand times what was inside. All he’d ever tell me was ‘the thing I value most,'” Jack said.

It was gone. Everything about the house was exactly how Jack remembered it, except for the box.. He figured someone from the Belser family had taken it.

“Now I’ll never know what was so valuable to him,” Jack said. “I better get some sleep. I have an early flight home, Mom.”

It had been about two weeks since Mr. Belser died. Returning home from work one day, Jack discovered a note in his mailbox. “Signature required on a package. No one at home. Please stop by the main post office within the next three days,” the note read. Early the next day Jack retrieved the package. The small box was old and looked like it had been mailed a hundred years ago. The handwriting was difficult to read, but the return address caught his attention. “Mr. Harold Belser” it read. Jack took the box out to his car and ripped open the package. There inside was the gold box and an envelope. Jack’s hands shook as he read the note inside.

“Upon my death, please forward this box and its contents to Jack Bennett. It’s the thing I valued most in my life.” A small key was taped to the letter. His heart racing, as tears filling his eyes, Jack carefully unlocked the box. There inside he found a beautiful gold pocket watch. Running his fingers slowly over the finely etched casing, he unlatched the cover. Inside he found these words engraved:

“Jack, Thanks for your time! – Harold Belser.”

“The thing he valued most was…my time”

Jack held the watch for a few minutes, then called his office and cleared his appointments for the next two days. “Why?” Janet, his assistant asked.

“I need some time to spend with my son,” he said.

“Oh, by the way, Janet, thanks for your time!”

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the moments that take our breath away.”