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Who’s the Singh that’s part of Warren Buffet’s entourage?

(Source: cnn.money.com)

Identify yourself! 🙂

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Props to Sikhswim for bringing attention to Sukhvir Singh’s uplifting story published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer on April 21. Props to the Editorial Staff at the PI for publishing the following Letter to the Editor three days later:

Thank you for Robert L. Jamieson Jr.’s aptly titled Tuesday column, “Meet the opposite of a ‘terrorist'” and describing the shared experience of Sikhs through the story of Sukhvir Singh. Singh’s principles are a reflection of his faith and the values of his adopted nation; his belief in compassion, humility and forgiveness is a defining attribute of both the Sikh and American identity.

As a Sikh born, raised, educated and working in the United States I carry the pride of my country in my heart by remembering that my success and comforts are a result of each and every immigrant’s trials and tribulations. I, like all Americans, am hopeful that the hate and intolerance plaguing our national and worldwide community can be reversed with education, reflection, shared discussion and articles such as Jamieson’s.

You can find it temporarily here.

Props to media outlets that don’t push for spin or outrageously unbalanced headlines but rather honest and fair stories that resonate with the larger community.

My Image Description

Taken and adapted from David Ladinsky’s I Heard God Laughing and The Subject Tonight Is Love.

Hafiz (1320-1389) is considered to be one of the greatest lyrical poets of all time. Similar to the way the Gurus sung their message, Hafiz wrote about the stages of spiritual growth in the rhythm of the ghazal making it easy for all– farmers, craftsman, scholars and princes– to learn. Much of his writing reflects themes found in Sikhi: he did not see God as separate from the world (rather wherever there is love, there is the Beloved); he described the path to love as one that began with an awakening, led to pursuit and longing, and unfolded into a new phase of learning and inner growth; and he envisioned God as an all-loving companion, guide, friend and lover.

In My Brilliant Image, Hafiz describes some of the preparations required for the inner Journey of Love. He urges us to let go of habitual negative attitudes and unnecessary attachments which only weigh us down. To make this Journey, we must be light, happy and free to go Dancing:

My Brilliant Image
One day the sun admitted,

I am just a shadow.
I wish I could show you
The Infinite Incandescence (Tej)

That has cast my brilliant image!

I wish I could show you,
When you are lonely or in darkness,

The Astonishing Light

Of your own Being!

Hafiz seeks to broaden and deepen our understanding of “real love,” both in human relationships and in our growing obsession with the Divine. He prods us to explore Love’s possibilities and test its apparent boundaries. He says our progress in this Journey can only be measured by the intensity of our love, the living flame that illuminates all life. Begin to love now, he says, don’t wait– let there be no regrets.

I Saw You Dancing
I saw you dancing last night on the roof
Of your house all alone.

I felt your heart longing for the
Friend.

I saw you whirling
Beneath the soft bright rose
That hung from an invisible stem in
The sky,

So I began to change into my best clothes
In hopes of joining you

Even though
I live a thousand miles away

And if
You had spun like an immaculate sphere
Just two more times,

Then bowed again so sweetly to
The East,

You would have found God and me
Standing so near
And lifting you into our
Arms.

I saw you dancing last night near the roof
Of this world.

Hafiz feels your soul in mine
Calling for our
Beloved.

His ability to access the healing and loving dimensions of the divine earned Hafiz the name “The Tongue of the Invisible” by the Persians. How true that is. Like Gurbani, it’s even more beautiful and meaningful when read or sung aloud. I hope these two poems have reminded you of Waheguru and inspired us to read more: both Hafiz and the Guru Granth Sahib.

It was my first day off as a newbie intern on the wards, and I was in a daze. I decided to walk it off by becoming more familiar with the new town I had moved into. As I strolled along the street among the crowds and enjoyed the warmth of the sun on my face I stumbled into a bunch of young folk my age with clipboards in hand huddled in front of an Indian restaurant.

Although my activist spirit usually burns bright, the daze was in full effect and apathy had crept in for the day. I had hoped to not get stopped and questioned, but one of the volunteers locked her eyes with mine.

Darn it.

“Have you joined the bone marrow donor registry?” she asked.

Selfish thoughts ran through my head: Are you serious? It’s my first day off after an arduous 10 days. Please. I don’t want to think or hear about anything related to medicine. The blood bank already calls me every other week.

Thankfully, I didn’t allow my foggy head to do the talking.

“I’ve donated blood, but no, I’m not on the registry to donate stem cells. What’s going on?”

The friendly volunteer explained she was part of a larger force trying to find a match for their dear friend. Their South Asian friend, Vinay Chakravarthy. Their South Asian friend, Vinay Chakravarthy, who’s 28 years old. Their South Asian friend, Vinay Chakravarthy, who’s 28 years old and a resident in Orthopedic Surgery at Boston Medical Center. Their South Asian friend, Vinay Chakravarthy, just 28 years old, an Ortho resident at BMC, and recently diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia.

Watch the start of Vinay’s journey in the PBS documentary “The Truth About Cancer.”

Whoa. The similarities hit me hard. His family members were definitely screened for a potential match, I thought, but they must have been found to be inappropriate as donors. Which means he’s relying on those who are genetically similar to him for a cure. Only problem is that South Asians account for nearly nothing (only 1% compared to 69% for Caucasians) in the bone marrow registry.

Gurmukho! Wake up!

As I swabbed the sides of my cheeks I wondered if the cells collecting onto the 4 different cotton tips might have all the antigens that made up Vinay’s cells. I wondered how many South Asians afflicted with cancer were waiting for a phone call from the registry with words of hope and renewal: that a match has been found, that the potential for a cure exists.

Vinay received a transplant last summer.

Unfortunately, Vinay relapsed a few weeks ago. He just finished a new chemotherapy treatment, however, and appears to be doing well.

Whether South Asian, Sikh, African-American, or Christian, you may be the hope someone is looking for. You may be able to infuse the spirit and energy you have been blessed with into someone else. The South Asian Marrow Association of Recruiters, led by Vikramjit Chhabra and Roopjyot Kaur in Boston, has done a wonderful job educating minorities to enter the registry. I’m looking at my donor ID card right now; are you? Become a part of the National Marrow Donor Registry, stay committed if you get a phone call, and save a life.

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Who’s going to join me in running the Boston Marathon as an unregistered bandit and covering those 26.2 miles without ending in last place? Fine, I’ll make it even less challenging: how about just imagining to do so?

Perhaps the legendary “Flying Sikh” Milkha Singh will… or maybe not. For one, he would easily be a time-qualifier. And after what he did today, well, lets just say that the Boston Marathon is a bit beneath him.

Milkha Singh, a three-time Olympian in the 1956, 1960 and 1964 games, carried the Olympic torch through New Delhi in a ceremonial closed route. He had the distinct honor of leading the relay even before the torch changed hands.

“When you are in the Olympic Games, you are a part of the Olympic family,” said Singh, retracing his old days in the Olympics. “Everybody is coming the Olympic Games for competing of course, but more importantly is to make friends, to learn things of different cultures and extending understandings with smile and greetings. Today, it’s another great day for me to be part of the Olympic Games, it’s a day looking back and looking forward for a better world.” (Chinaview.cn)

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But get this: he wasn’t the only Sikh representative in the torch relay. As the second torchbearer, he handed the Olympic flame to Gurbachan Singh Randhawa, the Chinese ambassador in New Delhi (second person from left in the picture).

You must be thinking I forgot all about the Beijing and human rights abuse controversy. I promise, I haven’t. I won’t comment on the number (17,000) of security personnel India provided for the torch to pass through a 2.3 kilometer stretch over 40 minutes without protest and interruption. I won’t comment on China’s arbitrary detention, threats and harassment against peaceful Tibetan protesters and its general disregard for human rights either. For now, I’ll leave this with happy thoughts– thoughts similar to those of spokesman Qu Yingpu: that the Olympic flame represents friendship, peace, and progress.

Can’t run the marathon this year or need some inspiration to get you ready for next year? Read this or live vicariously through this account instead.

Sikhswim helped spread the word about the Khalsa Health Fair held in Richmond Hill, New York last weekend. Volunteers with the Khalsa Health Foundation, in collaboration with Queens Hospital, provided primary health care screenings and services to the local community.

Hmm, that person in the orange looks strangely familiar, but I digress.

A broad spectrum of people were seen: from young mothers and fathers to undocumented and uninsured sevadars. I was afraid that we would be walking into a pool of rampant uncontrolled hypertension and diabetes, but fortunately, pre-hypertension seemed to be the diagnosis of the day. It was difficult to provide education on improving cardiovascular health in 60 seconds (especially when super salty langar with jalebis and mithai were being freely served downstairs), but attempts were made to connect folks to the surrounding health care system.

It was awesome to see so many young Sikhs spending their weekend helping out as well– definitely a powerful reminder that the Sikh youth are not apathetic but leaders in the making. All in all, the rhythm and pulse of compassionate Sikhs were in sync making for a wonderful day of seva and spirited efforts. Hooray for health fairs!

If you can tell me who are the sevadars behind Sikhi To The Max, then you may win a virtual hug.

Sikhi To The Max (or STTM for the geeks out there) Version 2.0 was released on March 28 with fancy new features, presentation methods and an updated interface that looks and functions eerily similar to Office 2007. You can now search using full English phrases, save your searches, and create PDF files and Powerpoint slides as well. Much of the bani (Amrit Kirtan, Dasam Granth, Nitnem) has been added or updated. And the updates keep coming: some recent ones were made on April 12.

Want an overview of the new additions and a quick primer? Take a peek at the 7-minute long tutorial: http://www.sikhnet.com/downloads/sttm2.wmv

And I just recently learned of the PDA version. Nice!

Virtual hug, anyone?

Back in March, The Pluralism Project, Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, and the Harvard Migration and Immigrant Incorporation Workshop cosponsored the screening of A Dream in Doubt, a documentary chronicling Rana Singh Sodhi’s (brother of Balbir Singh Sodhi, the first post-9/11 hate crime murder victim) journey to bring attention to his own tragedy and the ordeals faced by Sikhs in America after 9/11 through education, self-courage, and leadership.

Oops. You didn’t make it to the event. No worries! The film is being screened again, not once but twice! in the Boston area:

Friday, April 18, 2008 at 7:00 PM
First Church Jamaica Plain, Unitarian Universalist
6 Eliot St., Jamaica Plain

Saturday, April 19, 2008 at 2:00 PM
Rabb Lecture Hall, Boston Public Library
700 Boylston St., Copley Square

But, wait! There’s more!

Take action by supporting more comprehensive hate crimes legislation. The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act (LLEHCPA) is a bill that has been passed by the House but not by the Senate. And you know what that means: we need to speak up, raise our collective voice, and tell our representatives to approve it already! E-mail your senator urging him/her to support this bill.

Special thanks to punjaban for always keeping the sangat in the loop.

Vaisakhi is celebrated through:

1. harvest festivals

2. parades and nagar kirtans commemorating the establishment of the Akal Khalsa and, least importantly,

3. site redesigns!

Like it? Don’t like it so much? Send your thumbs up or down anonymously in the response section above or at sikhpulse@gmail.com.

A group of athletic and like-minded Sikhs in Texas make up the roster of Team Khalsa. Each player signs a contract promising to abide by the teachings of the Guru Granth: to not smoke, drink, do drugs, or cut one’s hair.

Check out the orange jerseys and all those awesome layups and passes. (Fast forward to 3:45 and you’ll see what I mean.) Now how heavy is that?!

Forget your NCAA bracket predictions. Bet on these guys to make a scene and join the Facebook group instead.

“Having been born and raised as a non-Sikh and imbued since early girlhood with society’s expectations of how a well-groomed woman should look, this acceptance requires frequent rejection of my previously-inculcated notions of femininity, in order to fully embrace a concept of inner and outer beauty that is in alignment with the Divine Will.

As I learn and grow as a Sikh, and find meaningful ways of being part of and serving the Panth, I try my best to keep in the forefront of my mind that my talents and accomplishments come through me, not from me: they are all manifestations of His Grace. I need to be ever-vigilant that my feelings of personal gratification never insidiously morph into smug and preachy self-righteousness…. And, speaking of gratification, although I know that becoming Amritdhari is a significant milestone along the Path but not its end or pinnacle…”

…I’m hoping the thoughts above will replace the ones in Questioning Myself.

My job could be accurately interpreted as an interviewer in some regards. And I’m very comfortable with my role. I gather details about your life — much of which you have shared with no one else — and I promise to keep it to myself and use it only to solve the puzzle(s) troubling you.

Occasionally, an interviewee decides to stir trouble by reversing roles. Sometimes it’s meant to establish a human connection, and other times it’s completely inappropriate. The ones that are memorable, however, are the ones that remind me I represent.

I had just finished speaking with and documenting the story of an Ethiopian woman when she pulled a role-reversal by asking me where my family was from. I was initially taken aback by the expression of interest. “My family originates from India,” I answered. “And which part of India? Which state?” she eagerly asked. Whoa, I thought. She didn’t even give me a second to let me get the interview back on my terms but she seemed genuine. I smiled as I replied “Punjab.” She glanced at my wrist and squinted at my ID tag. “Punjab? What religion do you follow?” The smile remained on my face. “I’m Sikh. I practice Sikhism. Have you heard of it?” Her eyes widened as she nodded her head. “Oh, the honorable Sikhs of Punjab. How could I forget them? I remember how they helped protect our people and train our armies alongside the Brits. The Sikhs made up almost the entire army and thank goodness they did! How wonderful it is for me to be speaking with you.”

The smile that was on my face washed over my heart.

Sikh men represent through the bold twists and turns of their turbans and their flowing beards. Some men and women repreSENT! with kirpans and a permeating spirit. I represent in softer ways: through my pinned up uncut hair, the steel kara on my wrist, and my name. But although it may be soft it doesn’t mean people don’t take notice. Whether bold or soft representing is representing.

Sikhs continue to conjure up steadfast images in the minds of many. Let us continue to represent in memorable and positive ways. How do you represent?