I have been driving to downtown Toronto from Mississauga a lot lately and occasionally the radio would remind me of Bangladesh where they have 'live traffic updates' on the radio in Dhaka too! Yes, even this Fifth world country has introduced it. The 'live updates' on the radio in Dhaka are more useful too, since there are far more side streets to cut through once the main roads are clogged. I always wondered about being stuck on HWY 401(an eternal parking lot for many) from say Mississauga to Markham during rush hour and what good it would do listening to a radio station telling me the exact same thing!
But nevertheless they are informative and it got me thinking that its about time that 'Live updates' are introduced to improve other 'critical' situations of our lives when we are driving.
I can just imagine it now...
Tim Horton's at 8am: "I am standing at intersection of Mavis st and Central Parkway in Mississauga and drive through line-up for this the Tim Horton's stretches...about 2 km. One gentleman I spoke to earlier has informed me that he has been waiting to order one 'extra large double triple' coffee for 7 entire minutes. At this rate he might have to give up on his daily 'sesame seed bagel with light cream cheese' today as it might increase the wait time to an 4 extra minutes. So folks, if you are thinking of getting coffee at this Tim Horton's location, the officials have advised everyone to park and walk in where the lineup is only 1 km but be warned that they have run out of 'chocolate dip donuts' and anyone interested in one will have to wait for 20 minutes for the next batch or opt for another kind. Over to you Melanie who is at the next Tim Horton's in the area just 7km from this location "
Emergency waiting rooms in hospitals: " Folks, it is 15 minutes past 7pm on a Friday afternoon and I am here at the emergency room of North York General Hospital where the wait-time has been confirmed at two hours for any and every symptom. I have behind me, a family with three small children, all of whom have been suffering from the seasonal cold and their mother has been waiting for three hours for someone to check if it is infact the 'Flu'. "I just don't understand what kind of doctors work here who have no concern for children. I have been asking the nurses every fifteen minutes and all they are telling me is that there was some accident on the 401. I am, like, there are Always accidents on the 401! That doesn't mean my babies have to suffer like this." Yes, indeed this unfair situation was confirmed by the nurses and other patients, some of whom have been waiting between four to five hours, with one person loudly complaining of pain in his kidneys all this time. ...This just in! I have just been informed by one of the residents that there are in fact only three doctors working at ER tonight at North York General Hospital So if you live in the area and have a broken arm or tooth, we would advice you to visit your family physician instead to avoid waiting two hours. If you do not have a family physician, please give yourself ample time and bring pillows and reading material if you are coming to this location. I just checked and their issue of Canadian Living® is about 3 years old! Stay tuned to YAWN radio FM 0.3 for live updates on your options at the vending machines at this waiting room "
Toronto City Hall radio while being put on hold: "Thank you Jean-Paul! We are reporting live from the information desk at the city hall where forty one people are on hold since 1pm but don't worry you are next. The administrative help is in the ladies washroom retouching her post-lunch make up. She is going to be out any minute now. We have cornered Jake, a member of the cleaning staff, who tells us that a number of city officials have been working hard at the golf course today where the finer points of the next urban development project is being discussed. It is to be a one of a kind, luxurious, modern , 70 floored condominium overlooking the Gardener Expressway! Talk to one of our, I mean, their representatives now to see a model suite. Jake also says that one city official has been dozing off at his desk in this very city hall and could fall asleep any moment now. Stay tuned for more. Now back our next Shania Twain song 'From this Moment on' "
Movie theatre on a Friday night: "Thank you Red Hickey! I am standing at Famous Players Paramount Theatre Festival Hall on Richmond Street where the premier screening of 'I Now Pronounce you Chuck and Larry' is about to start in an hour. It stars the forever man-child with the hygiene habits of a 6 year old- Adam Sandler and that other man-child with the hygiene habits of a 6 year old who stars in 'King of Queens'. If you are driving to this theatre, there are still 50 tickets available for the first show of this movie and none for 'Harry Potter: Order of Phoenix' which has been sold out for the past weekends. So if you wanted to see Harry Potter, watch this one instead. The stars of 'I Now Pronounce you Chuck and Larry' if you'd remember are comedy geniuses of portraying 40 year old ugly looking slobs whom no average woman in their right mind would think about dating and definitely not someone who looks like Jessica Biel. This time they are playing straight guys who lie to the government and act as a married gay couple (that can not be in US, it must be Canada) to get tax break. How will they ever pull it off? Will the Adam ever get hot Jessica Biel to fall for him even if she thinks he is gay? You will have to find out along with these folks standing in line behind me and those suspicious looking 15 year olds who are hanging around at the food court trying to sneak in. We will return after these messeges about the health benefits of Nachos and Cheese"
Well, the trip to Bangladesh was exactly what I had expected it to be:
-I never got the chance the leave Dhaka (a city I dislike) and see the rest of the beautiful country,
-but on the plus side, I am in love with my extended family. They are inquisitive without malice and my well wishers without expectations. They treat you like royalty, get your every wish fulfilled and all you have done is shown up to live in their rooms for a month. Granted, some relatives were a disappointment, seen through a more mature eye. The rest might not understand how much I have changed in the last decade but they are proud of me nonetheless. I am reminded once again of the feeling that only relatives incite- that they are ‘your people’ who love you and are always concerned about your well being as if you had been living near them all along. I was also able to handle the inevitable 'when are you getting married' questions since they were not asked in mean spirit.
The unexpected parts were
- the discovery that the parlours in Bangladesh offer the most phenomenal 'facials'. Honestly, they are to die for and all for a measly $10.
- and a lesson in humility.
Yes yes everyone goes soul searching in the East- but I, in all honesty, figured it to be unlikely with there being no mountain tops with loinclothed gurus sitting cross legged offering you advice in Bangladesh.
This vacation was just me ticking off something I had planned to do for a while.
I didn't expect life lessons....much less spiritual peace.
Lesson 1: I understand now why people generally seem happier in Bangladesh compared to here.
Living in Canada, being a part of the post-baby boomer generation, we are given the opportunity to do anything and be anything. We have not personally experience the horror of a war or the evils of an oppressive government. A lot of us have not even had a health scare. Therefore we expect every aspect of our lives to be just right all at the same time- good job, great mate, healthy happy family, enviable body, a great car, a pension plan etc. If we don’t achieve even just one of them (face it, most of us don’t), we are unhappy.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, with its widespread diseases harsher than the common cold, gives a person very small window of opportunity to get a good job, live well and even then there is a constant fear for personal security (abeit lessened with the current interim government). What it means for its people I found is that, they expect some things to go badly and to not achieve every thing. As a result, they appear more content.
A lesson in humility came from a world traveling widow. She is blessed with financial security as well as a loving network of family and friends (the woman probably knows 2/3 of the population of the district of Khulna) whom she loves to bits, who adore her back and considers her the ultimate source for sound advice. However, she experiences continuous passive aggressive mistreatment from her only son and a daughter-in-law who pointedly waits for this 75+ old to die and vacate a portion of a room in their house. This grandmother accepts it as the only imperfection in her otherwise fulfilling life. It broke my heart every time to see her switch from being the worldly, active, friendly matron of the family while visiting members of the extended family; to a meek, quiet, old, invalid when she returns to her son and daughter-in-law’s place. She, however, is none too broken up about it and accepts the mistreatment since she doesn’t want to lose contact with any portion of her family no matter how horribly they behave.
Since they are the most important part of my extended family and I too can't afford to lose contact with them; I was forced to accept my inability to say or do anything to improve her situation no matter how much I love her. I could only lead them by the example of my own behaviour towards her. I was frustated intially as it felt like 'giving up' to me but she taught me that it was all about keeping peace at the least possible cost.
‘Keeping peace’ is what I want to strive for: peace with myself and with those around me.
It might seem like settling but I want to accept that some things are always going to be out of our control and irresponsive to a ‘got get it’ attitude. The price for getting some good things in life would be the sacrifice of something else. We just have to be sure that its nothing too costly.
It is definitely not a novel lesson, but for me, it has been an epiphany after being spoon fed on the bullshit that is the belief - “you can achieve anything and everything if you just put your mind to it or want it really badly”.