Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Sister I Never Had (Happy Raksha Bandhan!)

O.K. Maybe I am just an old softie...but the sweetest thing happened to me yesterday, and I don't mind telling you that I got all teary-eyed over it.  For my American friends who have probably never heard of this:  yesterday was the festival of Raksha Bandhan, where Indian sisters give their brothers a Rakhi (small thread bracelet that they tie on his wrist) and ask for their blessing.  Brothers, in turn, give their sisters gifts and sweets and promise to protect them for all time.  Anybody that knows me knows that I am an "only child" - - and my father and his father and even my great-grandfather were "only children" as well. There's not a whole lot of knowledge about the love for a sibling in our family.

Well, yesterday afternoon, Krishna's wife Jyoti "adopted" me as her brother.  Krishna told me that Jyoti wanted to see me.  On the upstairs landing, she had set up a chair and had some things set out on a desk that we have up there.  She then tied a beautiful red Rakhi on my right wrist, put a small red tilak on my forehead.  She then did something that I was not prepared for.  She knelt down at my feet and did a prostration and asked me to bless her.  She touched my feet as a sign of deep respect (this is where I got a lump in my throat!).  I gave her the same Priestly blessing I have done hundreds of times, and then we shared some sweets.  This was frankly one of the sweetest things that has happened to me in a long, long time.

It's a little uncomfortable, coming from the West, to have this kind of respect so openly shown.  I remember well the first time a little Orthodox Armenian lady kissed my hands at St. Mary of the Angels.  I remember wanting to stop her and say "Hey - - don't do that! I'm just a man!"  - but I realized, after time, that it was not *my* hands that she was touching and kissing, but through the Priestly office that I have only through the grace of Jesus Christ, this kind woman was kissing the hands of a Priest - - and - in turn, Jesus' Own Hands as well.  Jyoti's action was the same kind of thing.  She was honoring me as her "older brother"!

Now I have the sister I never had.  That's pretty special!


*                    *                    *

Amy Suzanne Brubaker is not only my wife of 12-years... and my best friend...but she's my favorite equestrian as well!  I've been watching her ride since we first started dating (on our very first date, Amy got a page (remember "pagers"??  How "last century" is that??") that said come to the barn right away, "C.J." ("Make A Wish" - her horse at the time we met) was colicking and was in a bad way.  We left the restaurant (it was Buca di Beppo on Green and DeLacey in Pasadena) and drove straight to San Pascual Stables (in a neighborhood that I coined: "Where the Arroyo meets the Ghetto!" in Pasadena).  I was both scared and fascinated by the scene.  C.J. was in a bad way.  The vet was there and they had him standing, but the poor guy wanted to lay down so badly!  We kept him moving as best we could.

For those who have never seen it, the treatment for a colicking horse is a messy procedure.  The doctor gives the horse a mild sedative - - and then sticks a large, flexible clear-plastic tube down the poor horse's nose (Ewwwwww!) and pours in about a full gallon of mineral oil!!  You have to understand that the digestive system of a horse is a complicated series of interactions among many different organs. The small intestine alone is 60 feet long in your average size horse. Equine Colic can originate from the stomach, the small intestine or the large intestine. The entire digestive network is suspended and nourished by a thin membrane called the mesentery. Any malfunction, displacement, twisting, swelling, infection, or lesion of any part of this complex body system is what horse-people recognize as colic.

There are many things that can cause colic.  In this case, we think it was simply that C.J. ate his dinner and didn't drink enough of his water...and things got sort of "plugged-up" in his innards.  The mineral oil helps to "get things moving again".  And move they did!!  I'll spare you the visuals - - but let's just say that C.J.'s colic that night came to an explosive end!!

I'm sure that I looked horrified...but - Amy told me later that - because I was willing to spend our first date like that - - I was probably "the guy" for her!

Anyway...I tell you all of this to say that Amy's love of horses knows no bounds.  She has had a super-successful amateur career in the hunter rings around Southern California (and Arizona and Maryland and....) - - On the "totem pole" that is our life together, Beloved is on top in the Number One spot - - her horses are Number Two (that takes up a whole lot of "totem pole", too!!)  I'm down at the Number Three spot...and - since I knew this fact "going in" (our old dog, Gismow, held the Number One spot for almost 14 years!) - I have no complaints.

Not to brag on my wife, but over the years since we've been married, Amy has won the Foxfield Medal Finals, the L.A. and So. Cal HSA Medal Finals, the WCHR (World Champion Hunter Rider) Adult Amateur title two years in a row at the Capital Challenge Horse Show... she won the overall points total for 2010 as well - see: WCHR standings for Adult Amateur - and innumerable other show championships at Indio, Thermal, Del Mar and Blenheim.  Just about every weekend was filled with trips all over to ride and enjoy the competition and the camaraderie  of the Southern California horse-show circuit.  Needless to say, leaving this world behind and coming to the other side of the planet was a hard thing for her to do...but - she's done her best to try and ride here at least two times a week.

Last Saturday, she decided that, in order to ride the best horses in Hyderabad...she would begin to take polo lessons from Mir Hafeezuddin Ahmed at the Nasr Boys School in Gachibowli.  There are uncountable disciplines in the world of the equestrian arts - - hunters, jumpers, dressage, "three-day eventing", Grand Prix jumping...even fox-hunting in some parts of the world.  And that's just English saddle stuff.  In the Western riding camp are barrel racing, rodeo, cutting horse competitions - - but - I am beginning to believe that polo may be one of the toughest of these disciplines!

Golfers...imagine hitting a three-wood off of hard-pan - - with accuracy - - from the back of a galloping horse!!  That's polo!!

For your enjoyment, I present these five short videos from our YouTube channel - - Amy's First Polo Lesson!!

Amy's First Polo Lesson #1

Amy's First Polo Lesson #2

Amy's First Polo Lesson #3

Amy's First Polo Lesson #4

Amy's First Polo Lesson #5

31 comments:

  1. That's such a sweet story about Jyoti! Brought a lump to my throat too Fr K :-)

    The description of Amy's riding history and 1st date? I could see in my mind's eye, but luckily not there to actually SEE it all. Yes, I'm sure that clinched the deal... on the very 1st date! I'll have to watch the polo videos at another time over the weekend.

    Keep up the great blog posts from your very own "A PASSAGE TO INDIA" adventures!

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