Aydin’s Memoir: To Belong

The house sat on a lane of peace and serenity, encased by luscious, green trees. There was no room for peace in the house; there was only joy.

My hand gripped the racquet, tensing as the white birdie flashed before the blue sky. A graceful stroke later, the birdie lay on the ground, on the other side of the net. An arm reached down, and a racquet raised. My hand tensed again…

The cold water tickled my skin as I sliced through it. My feet kicked, my arms pulled, and I surged forward, navigating a tangled crowd…

Shouts of joy and laughter filled the air.

I knew each voice. Hands lashed out at the beachball.

I knew each one.

I belonged.

 

I was starving, and life was taking great joy in giving me a tour of my very own, personal, famine. Filet mignon, juicy and tender, sat before me. Challah bread, irresistible, called to me. The green beans waited.

Finally, the last person sat down. The broken rectangle was now complete; the table was walled in by a cocoon of family.

Conversation rose and fell. Stories were exchanged; jokes told; years were forgotten and remembered alike. The sun was setting outside, but the house was a haven of light and warmth. I dug into my meal, and that, too warmed me.

I savored my steak; and the green beans made my taste buds tingle with excitement. A hearty bite of challah bread banished my last memory of hunger.

Finally, I realized. Finally, I understood.

I felt the huge, powerful, aura of love that each member of my family emitted. I heard a thousand well wishings, and I understood that they all came from the heart. I felt the hopes, and the desires of my family; and all that they gave: supporting me.

I also wished them well; let my hopes, and desires, stand by them. We, a family, were not only connected by blood: we were connected by love. As I gave a hundred gifts, and accepted a thousand more, I belonged.

Goodbyes were exchanged; figures shuffled away from the warmth and light of the house, into the darkness. Joy and sorrow mingled; and in the end joy prevailed. A gift given by each family member: a parting wave, accompanied by a smile.

I lay in bed; the covers hugged me. Fondly, I sifted through memories of the past day.

My hand gripped the racquet, tensing as…

I knew each voice.

Now the voices were gone; the conversation they made, always rising and falling: silenced.

Hands lashed out at the beachball…

I drifted into sweet sleep, promising myself that I would one day see all of my family again; knowing that I would always belong.

That was the day I realized. In the house that sat on a lane of peace and serenity, encased by luscious, green trees. Where there was no room for peace in the house; there was only joy.

That day, I truly understood. That day, when I felt the huge, powerful, aura of love that emitted from each member of my family, I was empowered. They gave me new strength; prepared me to go into the world with fresh mind and heart.

That was the day I belonged.

Edublogs challenge 4 – License to Ride … Free!

Edublogs

Activity Four

I love to bike, and I’m sure that there are many people in the world who share my passion (other than my friends). One of the biggest reasons why people don’t commute by bike: it’s not safe. One of the most efficient, not to mention most fun, modes of transportation can be ruled out just because of a few incautious drivers and the lack of a bike path. I wrote this post to try to convince more people to bike, and to try to convince everyone else to accommodate for cyclists by lobbying for bike paths.

 

Bikes are healthy, but don’t actually slow one down. If one commutes to work using a bike, he/she achieves two things at once: he/she get exercise and get to work. To burn the same number of calories burned biking, one would have to spend extra time exercising – except running around a track doesn’t get you anywhere!

 

Despite what many people may think, bikes actually can help one to use his/her time more efficiently. I ran a few calculations, using a made up situation.

 

If person A has to commute 10 miles to work, and gets to work by biking at an average speed of 12 mph, he/she spends 50 minutes commuting and burn 363 calories.

 

If A drives to work at an average speed of 35 mph, he/she will get to work after 17 minutes, but burn no calories. A will have to run at a speed of 5mph for forty minutes to burn 363 calories, spending 57 minutes total.

 

Other than being healthy, bikes can build communities. Having bike paths or sidewalks around a neighborhood can make a big difference – younger children can go out on their own, and even farther apart houses become interconnected, leading to frequent travel to and fro and more friendship between just about everyone.

 

As more people “commute” between houses, the neighborhood will accommodate more for the “commuters”. Cars will be more cautious, and the bike path will become just like another road – albeit one where you don’t need to be 18 to drive!

 

Finally, bikes help everyone – even those not riding – because they minimize traffic jams (who doesn’t hate a traffic jam?) and are good for the environment. Cars are a huge contributor to global warming, and bikes can help you avoid driving your car everywhere.

Look at Amsterdam …

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everyone is happy there!

 

– Nachman

Edublogs Challenge 1 – About me Page – Nachman

Week #1 Challenge

How quickly would the oceans drain if a circular portal 10 meters in radius leading into space were created at the bottom of the deepest point in the ocean? How would the Earth change as the water was being drained from it? (From Randall Munroe’s, What if?)

My name is Nachman, and aside from thinking about absurd, crazy, questions, like the one above, I do have plenty of hobbies (and a life), which I think is pretty busy. Of course some people disagree. I play soccer and piano, and even go to school. I’ve got to admit that that isn’t much compared to some of my friends who do at least two sports, and an instrument, and religious instruction, and school!

I’m still trying to figure myself out. Since I’m only eleven, I still have plenty to learn. But I do know a few things that I like, and if I had to describe a perfect day for myself, it would like this:

I’d wake up pretty early, and for once, not feel tired. After a sumptuous breakfast of brisket, eggs, bacon, hash browns, salsa, guacamole, and a decaffeinated espresso I’d start programming. I would complete my new video game code, and then put it on the market!

You will be able to buy it for $1.99 in a few months!

Thereafter, I’d go outside and juggle my soccer ball. If my day was really perfect, I’d get a new record of a couple of hundred juggles – or is that too much to ask for?

Later into my perfect day, I would have some free time to dive into one of my favorite activities – reading. Though I hated books in kindergarten, I’ve come to love them over time. Science – fiction, mystery, and XKCD are some of my favorite genres. After a scrumptious lunch, a little piano, and a bit of painting, I’d go on a short bike ride. Since my day is “perfect”, I won’t get tired, and will therefore be able to play both squash and soccer with my friends. At the end of my perfect day, I’d have a delicious dinner of aloo chips ka sabzi (french fries over rice with red chili powder and lemon), a dessert of tiramisu, and gelato, and sleep like a log.

Though I didn’t include traveling in my “perfect day”, I can definitely imagine a perfect day in a foreign country. I’ve actually had some near perfect days abroad – all have fallen short only because of hunger and tiredness – in both Japan and Portugal, I got back to my apartment at 12 o’ clock at night. There are two main reasons I love to travel.

My first reason – the experience. I simply love to find a new culture, a new society, and learn about it. While one can learn plenty from a classroom, it’s a completely different experience in the “real world”.

My second reason sounds a little whimsical – I love to try new food. For almost my entire life, I’ve gotten a kick out of having my first (and sometimes last) bite out of a new dish. I’ve always wanted a bit of every food I set eyes on, or even hear about, from frog’s legs to snails. And for every new country I go to, I just about always try something new.

So, in a nutshell, that’s me: hungry for adventure, knowledge, and food, thirsty for new experiences, and countries, and (hopefully) ready for class tomorrow!

 

– Nachman

Edublogs Challenge 2 – Hopeful yet Weary – By Nachman

Week#2

My family’s car stops at a traffic light in the bustling city of New Delhi, India. I hear a knocking on my car window, and turn my head. A small, tired, dirty face greets my eye, and gestures asking for money for food. In the distance, a sharp, greedy eyed older man watches carefully. Countless children weave through the treacherous traffic, under the dark, polluted night sky. I know that the moment we leave, the child’s money will be the man’s. I turn to my mother, torn.

Should I give a homeless, starving, bedraggled child money? I know that money won’t help her. My logical mind says no, but my instinct screams yes. I look out the window again, past the gesturing hand. I don’t see an alien. I see a child. I see a child who should be lying in a warm, safe bed. Dark matted hair, dirty, sweaty skin, tiny hands, and weary yet hopeful eyes all gaze up at me.

What should I do?

If I give her money, will it actually help her? The money would definitely go to the man watching. On the other hand, if she failed to get any money for the man, she would be beaten – and possibly mutilated to “enhance” begging. I looked towards the man, and wondered: how could he do this? As the greedy eyed man watched, decimating a young, hopeful life, I felt like crying. Perhaps he was just another alcoholic or drug addict, beyond the sway of reason or caring or empathy.

Had the sharp, greedy eyed man once been a child too? Had his eyes been soft, and ready to give? Or did he never have a chance? Maybe, he was born on the street. Maybe, a greedy eyed man watched him, decimating a young, hopeful life. Maybe he never had a choice. And maybe, the same hopeful child that begged at my window today would become the greedy, sharp eyed monster that today is the man.

Yet maybe the the hopeful eyed child who begged at my window might have a chance. Perhaps, the small, hopeful, weary eyes might triumph over life and destiny, and blaze a new trail into a new life. I wished for a new life for the child, but the chances were only one in more that 50,923 weary, hopeful street children.

I got slightly dehydrated once. I’ve been a little hungry. And I know that what the weary, dirty child looking up at me has experienced and does experience is a thousand, thousand times worse. I know that if I don’t give anything to the child, I won’t sleep tonight. And if I were to sleep soundly, it would be a crime. I would be giving a small nugget of hope, soon to be consumed and useless, to a child who needs a world’s worth of hope. From a high horse, gloating that I had brought a sliver of joy into the life of a child who I would most probably never see again.

Finally, I gave in to myself. I reached into my mother’s purse, and pulled out a crinkled 10 rupees note (16 cents). The child’s grin is the biggest I’ve ever seen. She makes a hasty “thumbs-up” gesture before returning triumphantly to the side of the road. The car whisks me away from the hopeful child and the greedy man.

The very child I met could die the next day, crushed by the wheel of an impatient driver, or beaten to death for a morsel of bread. I would never know. I would sleep well – knowing that I’d given the child a fleeting moment of euphoria. But did I do the right thing? Was I not just perpetuating the cycle? How, if ever, will the horrible cycle that takes place on the streets of India, sucking helpless, hopeful children into its vortex be broken?

– Nachman

 

The Price of Sleep

Have you ever been so uncomfortable that despite your fatigue, you couldn’t sleep? Have you ever tried your very hardest to slip into peaceful oblivion, but have been unable to because you’re being forced to sit up? And, have you ever thought to yourself: how much would I pay for something as simple as a bed?

I know that I have, sitting cramped like a sardine in my economy class seat, with 12 more hours of the flight to survive, and the happy prospect of jet lag when I land. I also know that when I can’t sleep, I always remember what the business seats that I walked past looked like, and how well I would have slept had I been able to just lie flat. Airlines are catching on – accommodations for sleep…and much more are being prepared. From armchairs and beds made by yacht designers to butlers and private chefs, airlines are out to eliminate any discomfort. But the improvements are limited to the very richest and wealthiest.

But how much are you, or anyone, willing to pay for a good night’s sleep? Even if you could afford a trip in Singapore Airline’s Suite class or Etihad’s The Residence, would it be worth it? Would one flight in the lap of luxury be worth a minimum of $23,000?

 

The median income for an American household is $51,000. A round trip ticket in The Residence costs $42,940.67. So, the average American household could spend 84.196078431373% of their yearly income, choose two family members, and go on a round trip flight in The Residence.

 

For $42,940.67, you could have approximately 28 hours with your very own butler, gourmet meals on demand, and even a bed – in the sky. And did I mention the bathroom (with shower) and living room?

 

I can’t explain dining with Etihad, only the picture can…

 

 

 

I can’t explain the bed either…

 

Or the bathroom…

 

Bedrooms, butlers, and bathrooms are great, but…

 

Instead of using your money for 28 hours of luxury, you could use $43,000 to feed 119.399691757741348 people, three meals a day for one whole year.

 

So, if every time you wish for a bed, and think about how much you’d pay, think twice. Hunger and hunger related deaths kill millions each year. So, the choice is yours:

 

Luxury for 28 hours, or 119 lives for a year.

– Nachman

 

Scary Story – Alone By Nachman

Alone  

 I slouched back in bed, turned up the television, and tried not to think about dying. My name’s Leroy, and I have three weeks left to live. As I rattled out another breath, I made an effort and managed to pull my head up, feeling the warm covers gliding across my legs. On TV, a reporter was talking about some recent disappearances – big news, since nothing much happens in Poughkeepsie. I reached for my glass of water – forgetting that my illness had robbed me of the strength to lift it. And my hand inched slowly, bit by bit towards it! I picked it up. For the first time in over a year, I had gripped something.

 As the days went by, my miraculous feats continued. I stood, and even managed to walk slowly! When my tutor gave me math problems, I was faster than ever. But each new achievement was overshadowed by something else.

 There were people disappearing all over the U.S.

 But for me, everything was amazing.

I had been a caged bird on death row, and now I was free! Now I could do anything.

 People were disappearing by the hundreds.

Scientists had no clue what was happening.

 I went to school, and made friends. One of them was crazily strong. He disappeared. The next day,  I played dodgeball, and hit someone. He staggered across the playground from the impact.

And the classes – I might as well have been teaching the teachers! I wasn’t average anymore – I was a prodigy.

 My world fell apart – just about the same time that America did. My mother disappeared, five minutes before the President. The disappearances were an all encompassing maelstrom. In a matter of hours, I was left there, almost perfect.

 Alone.

 – Nachman