Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Akal Takht

Here are two shots that are almost exactly alike, but quite different at the same time.

This kabooter almost looks majestic in it's flight. Almost.

Unity

I was just thinking about how many people have eaten here:
Sikhs are strong, and we're committed. With our history of shaheeds we know Sikhs to have strength in all circumstances and to die before giving up their commitment. Sometimes though, we seem to believe that being strong and committed doesn't allow for the diversity that is God's creation. As committed as we are to being Sikh is how committed we should be to accepting people no matter what and helping them. That is what a committed Sikh really is. With so many people judging even other Sikhs, based on miniscule differences, it seems difficult to follow the path of acceptance of ALL. Despite, the Guru's message still lives on.
We've all eaten in this langar hall! Every kind of person eats here. The person with the exact and opposite rehit of yours and the exact and opposite beliefs as you has eaten here. There is unity in this building, in this service (langar), in this world. It's called God. Whatever you believe you have to understand the other person is you as well. Nothing can be separate from God's creation.
WaheGuru!

Monday, February 27, 2006

Still got material

For a man who has updated his blog just about everyday since he started (minus the weekends) I haven't taken any photos in a while. I guess I've already pictured a fair amount of my everyday life. This weekend I helped my brother at his house and did Ishnaan seva and went to Gurdwara and played ultimate frisbee. It was a great weekend, but I didn't take any photos. But I still have India pitures to release. I was wondering if anybody else thought that I should still have a lot of India photos. Well I still have a fair amount, including from my first plane ride from Albuquerque to Chicago. So here are a few more from the plane in the beginning of December, the first leg of my journey.
The whole plane ride had cool pictures. I already showed some cool photos from right after take-off. Then I got other cool mountain photos, including peaks that are in Colorado, then I got the following:
The circles and squares on the farms got more and more interesting as we went along. This photo is cooler when you click on it because you can see circles going on for miles.
Then for a long time we were above the clouds, with a lot of cool cloud patterns.
As we started to descend we went through the clouds, and it wasn't farm land that I saw again.
Well maybe it was farm land, but it was covered in snow. Somehow after I took this photo and we got nearer to Chicago, there was no more snow, I guess it had only snowed outside Chicago at that time.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Bana

Last year when I realized that I was going to India I began thinking about what I could get there that I can't get here. I thought that I might like to switch my turban style and I could do so in India, since I can buy turban material there and not here. It took me a while to make a style that I liked, I tried different methods of tying my turban and different lengths, but eventually I found the style. I use 9 meters cut in half. So I get two turbans from 9 meters of rubia. I didn't really like the Patiala-shahi turban any more, sometimes the point would start to hurt. I also didn't want to wear a damalla (daily anyway) because it is for battle.
Also I realized that I had a chance to get a lot of bana made for a fair price. I had been contemplating wearing bana everyday for a long time. I thought, when I had enough bana that I could wear it everyday, I would. Now was my chance. I made such a huge order, I arranged it ahead of time before getting to India. http://www.maharajasuitings.com/
When I got back from India, things were different. I went back to work wearing a different turban and dressing completely different. My normal dress for work before going to India was slacks and a button-up shirt. I had (still have, but don't wear) a lot of designer clothes. I usually looked pretty sharp, very 'professional' (I never rolled my beard though), and generally well groomed. Now I look sharper, I'm still well-groomed, and I don't look professional but more princely.
A lot of people have been staring at me at work. I work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which is very prestigious amongst scientists. The small town of Los Alamos has the highest number of PHD's per capita in the world. People from all over the US and the world are working here. I can tell immediately who is new and who's been here for a while. The people who are local (Los Alamos, Española, Santa Fe) have seen Sikhs in full bana for years. The rest stare like they've never seen anything like me (probably haven't). The Labs is the largest employer in Northern New Mexico and so it has a huge work force. Each division is like a speparate company. My brother and my Dad work at the labs but I never see them at work or know anything of the work they do. On a daily basis I only see a (relatively) small number of people who are my co-workers. They are now quite used to seeing me in a kurta/churidar or chola, with a hazoori and 9-meter turban. Only the people who know me personally have commented and they all say the same thing; I look like a king or a prince. One guy said he wanted to be a Sikh, just so he could dress like me.
Wearing bana everyday, makes you very aware of your responsibility to the Guru. You cannot behave in a manner that would bring negative attention to Sikhs. You have to be confident in your beliefs or you will feel crushed by the weight of the stares and the assumed judgements that come with many of the looks. You have to give up all your cares about what other people think and decide that you want to be who you are. For a lot of people wearing bana everyday is not who they are. For me, I've never been happier to wear clothes. The first few days were interesting and I had moments where I didn't feel very confident. In those moments I would catch myself and realize all the great reasons I should be perfectly confident.
Being yourself is very liberating. Nobody can please everybody, and it is useless to try. We all have to wear clothes, why not wear what suites us? We have a uniform that immediately identifies who we are and what we stand for. On my way to work the other day I saw my reflection in a window and I saw a GurSikh in full uniform looking back.

In writing this post I thought I might express some of what I've experienced with this change of appearance in my life. Also I thought I might issue a challenge to others who are considering making a change. If you are considering wearing a turban (man or woman) or bana everyday, and the only thing holding you back is your mind, I would like to challenge you to join me in this change. I know many people have dress codes at work, but many people are worried what their family or community might say when they change. If this is the only set back, it is unfortunate. I had detractors and a lot of people who didn't understand as well, but I still went for it. My challenge is not any different than anybody else's. It's not easier for me than for somebody else. We each have to face challenges representing this sacred path. Without the challenges one might not face themselves and develop conviction in their beliefs.
This path is not cheap, it is not a part-time religion. The value of this great dharma has to be earned, daily.

This was my last day at the Hari Mandir Sahib in December.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

How I spent my weekend

The class with ustaad Surjit Singh.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Next installment from Parvinder Singh!

What Parvinder wrote about this picture:
Here is a picture of the front gate of “Akali Baag” in Amritsar (near to Akaal Thakat Sahib). This Baag (garden) is the property of sgpc and if you look at the picture it’s going to fall in any rainy
season. It’s made in old time and nobody is doing any care. As you can see the Nihang Singh are standing (statues) at the both sides of gate meaning they are Gardener of this beautiful Baag (world) to protect all the flowers belonging to this earth.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Saturday's Sunset

We get spectacular sunsets in the summer, but they're usually pretty mild in the winter time. I've caught a few good ones in the last couple weeks.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Friday, February 17, 2006

After work

On Wednesday when I left work I saw this view from the parking garage.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

What else I've been working on

Imagine having a wonderful trip to the Hari Mandir Sahib and spending some quality time in Anandpur Sahib. Imagine going to India to see one of your best friends get married. Imagine 4 weeks without work and just spending time on the sacred land where the Guru's walked. Then imagine you come home to this:
This is (was) my brother's laundry room. While in India we both had pipes freeze and burst at our homes. I had about 6 leaks which had to be repaired, but none were inside. My brother had several leaks as well, but his were inside and his leaks flooded two of his rooms. One room (pictured here) grew a lot of mold. Since we've been back Hari (my brother) and I have worked (in the cold) on his house at night after work and on weekends. After this weekend, the rennovations still won't be done, but at least we'll have finally made Hari and Sita's house livable again.
The best part of this whole ordeal is that Hari and Sita have been living with me. My place feels like a home now!
The back door. There are some pipes that go from the hot water heater (pictured here) up through the attic and to other faucets in the house. The main leak came from a pipe in the attic.
This is a door to a closet inside the laundry room that doesn't exist any more.
Half way through the destruction of some built-in cabinets. Since these pictures were taken, all the walls have been taken out, the ceiling has been taken out, all of the insulation in the attic has been removed, the floor was taken up, the place was cleaned, we've installed a new ceiling, fixed the plumbing, done some rewiring and put in new fixtures.
A picture from the bathroom where the walls have been removed.
This was once a shower stall.

My brother has done the majority of the work on his house, but myself and my Dad and Sita have helped a lot as well. Our friend Akal Singh did the plumbing for my brother. It' s convenient having a plumber as one of your best friends!
The hard part about working on this house is that it has been extremely cold in there. We've worked so many nights late into the night at around 32 degrees or below (0 or below in Celsius).
My brother was planning to do new insulation in his home when he got back from India, but we couldn't do this until we put new ceilings in, which we couldn't do until we did rewiring and prep work of the attic, including installing vents and baffles, and cleaning the attic and installing new light and fan (ventilation) fixtures. This weekend we will probably finally finish the last new ceiling (in the kitchen) and then spray in the new insulation which will mean Hari can turn his heat back on and move back into his house. I'm excited that my brother and Sita will get to move back into their house, but I can't say I won't miss living with my family.
Also this process has given me an appreciation for my job and education. When I was a teenager doing construction was fun (which it still is in many ways), but I'm glad it's not my job now. Working in the attic was painful! You could never stand up and you always had to balance yourself on 2 inch wide joists that were 12-16 inches apart. You had to wear goggles which would get fogged up and masks to deal with nasty fiberglass insulation (so old it still had asbestos) and if you slipped because you were tired or cold or just lost your balance you could fall through the ceiling. I fell twice but landed on the joists. I have a 6 inch scar on my right leg, from a fall where I was prevented from going the roof by scraping my shins against a diagonal joist. Only once did somebody's foot go through the ceiling. That's why were re-doing the kitchen ceiling, which uncovered some bad wiring. Part of the house was probably built in the 60's and then it was expanded later. This weekend we'll start by finishing the new wiring and getting the last new ceiling in. Then we'll probably get the insulation in. Hari and Sita will be able to move back in, but they will still have two rooms to rebuild. There were built in cabinets and drawers in the bathroom, which had to be removed along with all the fixtures, the shower, sink, and toilet. Also the walls, ceiling and floor were removed. Maybe later on the blog I'll put updated photos. I should have got photos before were started doing the work. I could get photos of our current status, for an update.

Baba Bakala

I did not have the fortune of visting the Bakala Gurdwara. I didn't even think about it when I was in India. Parvinder Singh sent me these photos. In the future I may get more photos of historical Sikh sites and stories about them from Parvinder.
The Gurudwara built where Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib meditated for almost 20 years.
"Bhora Sahib" Parvinder tells me Bhora means a small underground place. This is where Guru Tegh Bahadur did his meditation. Also Parvinder says its really small and only maybe two people could sit there.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Cute kids

Last week at the kirtan program for Arjan and Gurumustuk there were a lot of the kids there. I get a lot of blurry photos of kids, but occasionally I get some good ones.
This is Ravijit Singh and his mother Guruprakash Kaur, who I've known my whole life.
Ravijit Singh again, I only managed to get his dad's (GuruDarbar Singh) beard and shoulder in this photo.
Narayan is so active he always manages to get his patka to come off. All he had to do was wait long enough until his Dad took his turban off and then...
I asked Narayan if I could take his photo, otherwise there was no way I was going to get a photo that wasn't blurry.

The desert in full glory

Picture taken from the car after passing Hoover Dam.
The life of the desert.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Hoover Dam

A great feat of engineering!


I couldn't help myself I had to roll a penny down the dam. It was pretty cool, it started to roll then it hit something and went flying in the air. I think it fell the rest of the way (as opposed to rolling) but I'm not sure, because I couldn't see it after a while. Thanks to Joginder for providing the penny :-) Also I didn't get caught or kicked out hehe :-)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Next Weekend


USTAD SURJEET SINGH

Master of Sārangi and Indian String Instruments

Surjeet Singh's technical mastery, along with the richness of his musical ideas and his traditional approach has won him admiration throughout the world. He has a large repertoire of Khayal and Thumris, and plays with an artistry that makes a deep impact on the adept and uninitiated listener alike.

Born in Delhi in 1961, Surjeet Singh was initiated into music by Jagjit Singh Ji, at a very early age. He later received training in classical music but his passion for the Sārangi eventually led him to become the disciple of Pundit Ram Narayan in 1977. Surjeet Singh has performed extensively in India, Europe, Africa, Malaysia, and in the US and Canada at various important festivals giving solo recitals.

Surjeet Singh is on the faculty of Raj Academy of Asian Music and Gurmat Sangeet in London, UK, www.rajacademy.com, and Thames Valley UniversityLondon.

SOLO PERFORMANCE

Come and enjoy an evening of exotic and uplifting Hindustani (North Indian) classical string music – Solo Sārangi – played by Master Surjeet Singh, with Tabla and Taanpuraa accompaniment. (Refreshments will be served)

When: February 18th, 7:00 to 8:00 PM

Where: the home of Tyaga Singh and Shanti Kaur Khalsa
Española, New Mexico

Price: $20, or $15 in advance (RSVP Kudrat Kaur at 505/747-8673)

more of the sangat

Jagjit Kaur and Jagpal Singh, super nice people who are always interacting with the youth, an inspiring couple.
Gursharan Singh and another guy.
There's only one word to describe this picture...CUTE. Baljot Kaur and Navjot Singh.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Amrit Sanchar

The Panj pyaray as they entered the Gurdwara with the new Khalsa following behind.
The amrit sanchar was in a seperate place than the main Gurdwara where the samagam continued.
After the Amrit Sanchar the Panj and the new Khalsa joined the sangat.
Anupreet Singh. I had never seen him with his beard flowing and in full bana. He looked great!

Bhupinder Singh sang some great kirtan while the Khalsa ji's came in. Shabads by and about Guru Gobind Singh.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

More of LV Samagam

Photos from around the Gurdwara.
Relaxing in the langar area.
Jaspal Singh and his daughter in the entry way to the Gurdwara
More of the langar area and the kitchen in the background.
Manjot Singh, a nice young man who is very into Sikhi. He gave me permission to post the cheesy photo.
The smile of a child is so bright.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Pictures from Las Vegas Samagam

The Sangat.
Amrik Singh from Montreal (I don't know if I'm spelling his name correctly).
Family affair.
This picture came out a little blurry, but it's still nice. Jagpal Singh doing kirtan.