So I had planned to start packing my bags and prepare to head home this time of the year. Then again, like my life has been for the past several years, it hardly ever goes as planned. Each time I plan something, small or big, short term or long term, it gets screwed up, and I end up doing things ad-hoc. And this applies evenly across the board. The nice part of it is that it all ends well. Like they say, it all happens for the good. Well, it mostly is good. Sometimes I have to tell myself that it’s for the good, and make my peace. Although this format of life keeps things interesting and challenging, and I usually take things in a positive stride, this time around, it’s getting to my nerves.

After weeks of preparation for the flight test, when I thought I was almost ready for it, the weather went bad prematurely, and I managed to squeeze 2 flights in 2 weeks. Times like these remind me of Murphy’s Law – if anything can go wrong, it will.

Things started to look better, the weather returned to normal, and I got in another 4 flights. But something had to go wrong. Welcome the king of the season, Mr. Viral, bringing along with him, sore throat, headaches, and an overall crummy feeling. He decides to keep me grounded for a week. I battled Mr. Viral with everything in my arsenal – multi-vitamins, additional doses of Vitamin C and Zinc, orange juice, hot water, gargling, Listerine (not sure if that helps, none the less), and rest. This is all keeping in mind my personal conviction to avoid medication unless it’s an emergency. My fight paid off. I got up after a week, squeezed in another 3 flights, and this time I felt ready for a flight test.

Now guess what. Something else had to go wrong. Mr. Viral was obviously very unhappy with the way he was dethroned. So he decided to regain his throne, and this time, invite Mr. Weakness to stay with him. Now I have a sore throat, headache, and weakness. Not like a persistent weakness, but let’s just say that I had only enough stamina to be up and around for 2 hours, by when I was exhausted.

To make things worse, I get a blasting from mom. I have not been taking care of myself, the stress is the major reason I’m sick, and the tension is giving me those headaches. And all that is according to her. I am made to understand that macaroni and cheese, noodles, pasta and pizza are not a suitable diet for me. No matter how hard I try not to, I have to cook, even if it’s only for me. So I bought some vegetables after who knows how long, and started to make mixed vegetable khichdi (Khichdi for the unversed) on a regular basis. I drank more milk and juice and soup. I really fed myself. And all this is probably getting me back on track. Well, back on the health track, and nowhere near my schedule track.

It’s that time of the year. Decisions have to be made. And decisions have been made. I am 3 months behind schedule. If I break away now, go home for the winter, I will have to come back next year for another 3 months. Coming back is something I am not at all willing to do. I want to finish this once and for all. Additionally, at this time, I cannot write the Indian license exams either, because without first having a valid foreign license in my hand, I cannot write the license conversion exams in India. Making the trip to India is an overhead expense in itself, something I need to avoid now. People who understand business will know that when you are behind schedule, you also face cost overruns. I can do better this year.

I don’t want to make a trip to India without a very good reason. And the best reason I could give at this time is that I am terribly homesick. Well, I have another good reason, but as of now, it is still ambiguous. It’s funny when I think about it (or, the irony of it is that), I stumbled upon this new reason during my trip to India last year.

Summarily, I am staying put in Vancouver, till I am done with this training. Yes, the days are getting shorter, and weather is coming down, and it’s getting cold and wet on a regular basis. But that’s what Canadian winter is all about. I had the privilege of experiencing Canadian winter when I was in Ottawa some 6 years ago. The memories of my frozen nose and an extreme burning sensation in my fingers and toes when I got into the warmth of a bus, after waiting an hour for it, in a foot of snow and the wind howling in my face, at a super cool minus 20C (felt like minus 40), will stay fresh in my mind all my life. Vancouver winter is, according to the locals, mild, compared to Ottawa. It’s just going to very gloomy and wet all the time. It doesn’t sound very comforting with my state of sickness, and I just have to be strong.

That’s enough of me and my sickness. I was watching TV the other day, and heard Have you noticed how childhood is becoming shorter and shorter. And who is to blame for that? Wow! So much was said in this one statement and blunt question. Nobody can deny that childhood has become shorter. And I have thought about this matter, without ever having summarized it so beautifully. Of course, I assume that childhood includes all of your life up to legal adult age. Among family and friends, I have discussed babies talking and walking much sooner, kindergartens already knowing their ABCs, preschoolers being acutely aware of gender differences and having girl-friends and boy-friends, primary school kids using the choicest of abusive language, and so on and so forth. To top the list, I can now say for a substantial percentage of teenagers, that society, morality and age have little or no relevance whatsoever to sex. And I can say all this by just keeping my eyes open to look at the world around me. And of course, the endless spate of sex surveys in our magazines last winter will endorse my statement on teenagers. So what happened here? Then again, is this really an issue? And must somebody be blamed for it? I don’t know. I care about the future, much in the interest of my own kids (when I do have any). For India, I could apply one generic term to this situation: westernization.

As long as a change is for the better, everybody would accept it. But how often do we know for sure that a change that looks positive today won’t turn out to be a nightmare tomorrow. Few people have the powerful insights to distinguish truly positive changes from shiny fakes. Hopefully all of us will grow to make these recognitions and be able to help in guiding humanity towards everlasting peace and harmony. Isn’t that what we really really need?

Speaking of change. Over the last several weeks, I have moved my personal website to a free service called Blogger. I decided to do this for 2 reasons, first being the time+money involved in maintaining my paid website, and second is it's severely degraded performance. The one thing I couldn't setup properly is the subscription to the new website. It looked like it was setup, then it disappeared, then I setup again, it's just a big mess now. So till the time I can setup another subscription mechanism, I will be manually emailing the articles to those of you who were on the original websites subscription list.

The thought of my own kids gets my heart racing. I get this rush when I watch the ads on TV, featuring those cute kids doing their cute things. I’ll get my chance someday.

Mayur Poddar