Mid-Week Laughter :-)

“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.”

Bill Cosby


From https://betterdoctor.wordpress.com

Have a good laugh and enjoy the rest of the week

🙂

THE END

 

What is love?

WhatFrom What is Love?

Probably, I’m the most unromantic purpose on Earth, as neither roses, nor romantic dinners with the candlelight, sweet words and kisses appeal to my heart. Too good to be true and often too fake, like the online dating TV show The Bachelor with all its fake romance. I do not trust romantic sweetness – like sugar, it quickly dissolves and vanishes in the turbulent waters of life.

As life shows, the true measures of love are often bitter, such as poverty, hunger, sickness, pain, separation and death. True measures that apply across all times, cultures and generations…

For this Valentine’s Day I would like to share a story and a song. They came from different cultures and times, but have one thing in common – they do reflect the meaning of true love.

* * *

A Wedding

Qingdao, 1946

Bride
A bride wears a basket in lieu of a veil to obscure her face before her wedding.

On the day of her marriage, eighteen-year-old Reiqing sits alone in her village home… She hears happy music approaching her house, but she is nervous. The wedding has been arranged by marriage introducers, as is the custom. Today the bride will meet her groom for the first time. She worries that her future husband will not be kind-hearted and will not like her….

The groom is twenty-one. He leaves home before sunrise. Strong men a hired to carry two sedan chairs from his village to the bride’s. There are trumpets, cymbals, gongs and bamboo flutes…

The bride is almost in panic by the time her groom arrives… The bride cannot stop shaking. Tears stream from her eyes. Soon she will become a wife and another family’s daughter-in-law.

‘You silly girl,’ her mother says to her. ‘Don’t cry! You’re going to a family with enough food. Do you want to be poor for the rest of your life?’ She gently wipes her daughter’s tears and hugs her…

All day the bride has longed to remove her veil. Now she is afraid. Her husband may not like her appearance. Nervously she lifts her veil. For the first time in their lives they look at each other. The bride sees that her husband is handsome. There is something honest and humble about him too; he immediately captures her heart.

The groom, who is called Li Tingfan, is stunned by the bride’s beauty. They sit there until their ‘widen your heart’ noodles arrive, that symbolise acceptance of each other’s fortunes and faults… Reiqing knows her mother is right… Her name and place are changed for ever. Her destiny lies ahead…

So it was for this bride and groom, my mother and father, in Qingdao in 1946…

My mother and father lived with my father’s six brothers, their wives, his two sisters and their children – over twenty people crammed into a six-room house. As the youngest daughter-in-law, my mother’s status in the Li family was the lowest. She worked hard to prove her worth.

Often she would not see my father until late in the evenings, because he worked at two jobs, either away in the fields or carting building materials, all day long…

Their first son was born about a year after their marriage, their second just over two years later… My mother eventually came to be known as ‘that lucky woman with seven sons.’…

Mealtimes in my family were always sad for my niang [mother]. There was often nothing for her to cook. We would look at what little food there was on the wooden tray and out of respect for our elders, always wait for our dia [father] to start. One day, when my niang served dinner, it was clear there was not enough food for everyone.

‘I don’t feel hungry,’ our dia said. ‘I had a good lunch’…

Our niang gave our dia an annoyed look and made ‘zhi, zhi, zhi’ sounds with her tongue. ‘Don’t you dare not eat! Your health is our entire family’s security. We will all only drink water if you starve yourself to death!’

‘I’m not hungry,’ our dia protested.

Our niang picked up some food with her chopsticks and put it in our dia’s bowl. We started to eat only after he took the first bite. Our parents always ate slowly to allow us more food. On many occasions our niang told us to leave the best food for our dia because he was our breadwinner. But our dia told us we should give the best food to our niang: if it were not for her we would all have only ‘north-west wind’ for dinner…”

(From Li Cunxin autobiography ‘Mao’s Last Dancer’ )

Mao's Last Dancer - Joan Chen and Wang Shuangbao
Niang (Joan Chen) and Dia (Shuangbao Wang)

From the movie “Mao’s Last Dancer”

* * * 

Old Russian Folk Song

“Steppe, endless steppe”

( Drawing by B. Dexterev )

Steppe, endless steppe,
the way lies far before us,
and in that dense steppe
a coachman lay dying.

He summoned up all his strength,
as he felt death approaching,
and he gave an order
to his comrade:

“My dear friend,
do not think of the bad times,
but bury me here
in this dense steppe.

Give to my wife
a word of farewell;
and give back to her
this wedding ring.

And tell her as well
Not to be too sad,
To find another soulmate
And to get wed.

And tell her that I died here,
in the freezing steppe,
and that I have taken her love
away with me.”

 

( Photo by Vapi )

I was asked a few times why the dying coachman in this song asks his wife to find another soulmate to get wed. Very good question. For generations, that have never experienced hunger and starvation, it is hard to understand the hardships experienced by people in poor countries or  in the past in the currently prosperous parts of the world.

A few months ago I visited the historic 1880’s Denniston coal mine in New Zealand. It was a truly fascinating experience to go deep underground emerging yourself in the tough life of coal miners. Their work was very dangerous and a number were injured or died as a result of accidents in the mine or riding the infamous Denniston incline.

‘Do you know how long could a coalminer’s family survive after his death in those days?,’ asked a lady, who was visiting that mine with me. ‘I’ve heard that in those days the coalminer’s widow needed to re-marry in 1-2 weeks after her husbands death to ensure the survival of their children,’ she said.

I can easily believe that, especially as families in those days used to have a lot of children to feed…

coalminersFrom the Denniston Mine History

THE END

Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side…

“Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody.”

Mark Twain

From Freaking News

* * *

“In a war you see people as they really are, and the truth may be the opposite to what you would expect… When fear and hunger set in, people forgot the ties of friendship and looked out for their own families, but as fear grew, and the likelihood of dying increased, even family members could be forgotten; people then thought only of keeping themselves alive…

The parachute drops began… The only way you could know where they’d landed was the loud cracking sound of the pallet hitting the ground. And when you heard that sound, you knew that if you were ever underneath it, you’d be squashed into pate.

When you reached the pallet, there was more danger. People were desperate; they would be searching in groups, carrying knives for opening the pallets, and may be guns – and people would steal those weapons from others if they got the chance. I usually went with another girl, my friend Nermina, and we would look out for each other. Sometimes knives would slash at your fingers when you reached for the food. Two girls were shot by a man spraying bullets to keep people back; one of them never regained the use of her legs. And these people were all on the same side!…

My worst experience of the parachute drops was when a pallet landed in a large, deep, pit-like hole. I was with a group of friends and when we got to that hole and looked down, we saw a mass of people, about two hundred of them, fighting and shouting over the food… One of my friends gave me a pistol to look after while he was in the hole grabbing for food… I was on the edge of the hole…, when a man who had been running around muttering and cursing to himself suddenly produced a grenade and began waving it around. He was crazy with rage because he had missed out on the food packs.

‘I’ll kill you. I’ll kill you all you bastards,’ he shouted above the clamour of fighting. Everyone fell silent. He was just a few metres from me. I knew that man; I went to school with his daughter; and their family were distant cousins of ours. He was holding the pin of the grenade. ‘I’ll pull this. I will.’

I raised the pistol that was in my hand. ‘Move your finger and I’ll shoot you.’

‘You’ll be dead,” he said. “This grenade will kill you.’

‘I don’t care. You can kill us all but you’ll die first.’… My finger was on the trigger….

Then he turned and walked away….”

(from ‘Escape from Bosnia’ as told to Sue McCauley)

A hungry man is more interested…

“A hungry man is more interested in four sandwiches than four freedoms.”

Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

A human need is something that is essential to survive and to survive in a decent, happy and fulfilling manner. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is often represented as a pyramid, with the lowest or most fundamental needs at the bottom. He distinguished 5 types of needs:

  1. Physiological needs such as food, water and sleep
  2. Safety needs such as security of the body, health and property
  3. Social needs such as friendship, family, belonging and identity
  4. Esteem needs such as recognition, self-esteem, confidence, justice and respect
  5. Growth or self-actualization needs such as creativity, problem solving, art, beauty, personal fulfilment and freedom.

The assumption of the hierarchy is that the lower needs have to be met first, and are preconditions for the realization of the higher needs, although a temporary insufficiency in the lower levels will not undo the aspirations of the higher levels. For example, a surgeon who normally has no problem satisfying his or her physiological or safety needs, and instead focuses on recognition, may be forced to concentrate temporally on his or her health without sacrificing the overriding importance of recognition.

Conversely, someone who normally has problems satisfying lower level needs, will not find the resources necessary to focus on higher level needs.

A Coachman

(from the Russian Folk Song “Steppe, endless steppe”. )

( Drawing by B. Dexterev )

Steppe, endless steppe,
the way lies far before us,
and in that dense steppe
a coachman lay dying.

He summoned up all his strength,
as he felt death approaching,
and he gave an order
to his comrade:

“My dear friend,
do not think of the bad times,
but bury me here
in this dense steppe.

Give to my wife
a word of farewell;
and give back to her
this wedding ring.

And tell her as well
Not to be too sad,
To find another soulmate
And to get wed.

And tell her that I died here,
in the freezing steppe,
and that I have taken her love
away with me.”

 

( Photo by Vapi )

 * * *