Sunday, July 18, 2010

Happy Birthday, My Mother

Dear Mom,

Happy Birthday! For the past 4 years I've been in India during your birthday, and haven't done much more than give you a call and send best wishes. But this year, I really felt moved to do something more, to give you a special gift. Luckily I have some wonderful friends here that helped make it happen.

When thinking about a gift for you, I thought about what you value most in life. I came up with three things: family, education, and children. With that in mind I thought of doing some sort of activity with kids here in your honor. Maybe playing with some kids, or teaching them something, or feeding them food, or just connecting and adding some value.

With that basic idea in mind I set out with Madhu, Meghna, Jigar, Jumana, Adi, and Anjali to the slum area behind our apartment to meet with some kids. We brought some bananas, peaches, and pears from the local fruitseller, and also some Parle-g's from the local shop. Once we got to the slum, finding the group of kids was really easy. Many of them were just hanging around in front of their homes.

Anjali immediately organized the children and started playing games. She is such a natural, they immediately responded to her. She had them stand in a line, in order of size, and play some simple Simon-says type games. Then all the kids stood in a line and introduced themselves and said what their favorite animal was. After that we had the kids sing for us, and they ended with a special song for you:

Finally we handed out the fruit and biscuits and they gobbled them up like goblins. Anjali made it a teachable moment by letting them know the health benefits of eating fruit and also how they should dispose of the peels so that cows can eat. We left after sharing smiles and gratitude.

Another thing you like is plants and gardening, so in your name we planted a tree at ESI (next to Gandhi Ashram). It was a coconut tree, which Jumana explained was special because every component of the coconut tree from the bark to the leaves to the husk, shell, and of course fruit, can be utilized. I thought that it was fitting to plant this type of tree for you, since you are such a giving person. After planting all of us wished you happy birthday.

I hope you like your gift, it was the least I could do to show how much I appreciate the person you are. You are an inspiration in my life, I have learned and will continue to learn so much from you. You are the best Mom I could have ever asked for, and I hope on your birthday this year you are able to feel the love from me and the many others who have been touched by you. It is the least we can do for all the love you have shown us.

Also special shout-out to my friends for celebrating Mom's birthday with me. You really made the day special.


  1. Children are the most innocent people in the world, and to see this reminds us of how much love one can spread. Thank you for putting this together, it was absolutely brilliant!

  2. I am deeply touched by precious gift. i will cherish it as long as i live. You are very kind, gentle & thoughtful person. I am a proud mother.

  3. Neil, what a fantastic, beautiful way to honor your mother. I was truly touched by the love of this gift.

  4. Once again, Jay get's shafted. Neil, seriously, your kindness is some sort of veiled attempt to make Jay look bad. Don't worry Jay, we still have your super eyes. If Urmila auntie is ever in need of x-ray vision, she need only turn to you!

    in all seriousness - Neil, this post, and all others are absolutely touching. keep up the good work, and I will continue to check in on how "we" are doing.

  5. This puts a lot of pressure on.... my mom's b-day is in Jan and I'm already thinking bout what I can do...