Thursday, February 14, 2008

For What Inspires Us?

(Jameel returns to blogging)

As many of you are aware I was in India the past few days. The sounds, sights, and smells of the Indian Subcontinent, the multifaceted cultures and religions were more than I expected, even having worked with Indians for a few years. I studied their culture and environment to better understand them so I could effectively communicate with them for work. Hoping to get some free time to post on my blog after neglecting if for so long, I looked forward to some free time in the evenings to blog.

And yet, I wasn't expecting a "special" blog story, just a routine trip to India for work. I should have  expected the "unexpected."

No, this won't about the little quirky stories that always happen, but I'll quickly mention two.

I arrived at my office in India and the logistics floor manager came over to me to say hi, and she introduced herself.; "Hi, I'm charge of all logistics for this floor - if there's anything I can help with at all; food, logistics, taxis, questions, just feel free to ask me...Ask Shipra.

I almost burst out laughing in her face...her name is "Shipra"...maybe she has a blog in India? (I found out later that Shipra is an old Indian name not connected to the Biblical name, Shifra.)

Or here's another example, I'm sitting on a British Airways flight now on my way to London, and my kosher meal was "opened" prior to me receiving it. I'm sure there might be halachik authorities that could be lenient on this issue, but the meal was stripped of all Kosher markings whatsoever. All the wrapping of the hot meal were removed, and all signs that the meal was Kosher were removed...and I have had 4 bottles of water to drink. The cabin crew director personally apologized and ensured that the meal was opened by Bangalore, and that British Airways is well aware of the requirement not to open the meal. I thanked her for her concern, but added that although it clearly stated on my kosher meal, "TO ONLY BE OPENED BY THE PASSENGER", and it was opened "anyway" in Bangalore, perhaps we should all be concerned from an aircraft engineering perspective. She asked what I meant, and I replied, "It says clearly in English on the wing of the aircraft,  'DO NOT WALK ON THE WING'; maybe the Bangalore airport staff walked on it anyway, just as they ignored the clearly stated message on my Kosher meal?" She thought about that for a minute, apologized again and promised to relay my message on.

But the above anecdote has nothing to do with this post. Or maybe...

Let me explain. The story I wanted to write about revolves around this blog in general. (Ooops, real time interruption here) Another senior member of the flight crew just emerged from the cockpit and came over to me, and said that although there is clearly a message on the wing of the aircraft not to be walked in, what I saw was probably someone fueling the aircraft which is why they were walking on the wing. Huh? "I didn't see anyone on the wing," I replied, "it was just a comparison, a warning that there are probably hundreds of warning signs all over the plane that could be potentially ignored....just like the notice on my meal..." The woman smiled, now having understood. I told her to reassure the pilot that I had not witnessed anyone walking on the wing ... and now back to this posting.

It has bothered me alot that I've been "ignoring my blog" lately. It's not due to laziness, but lack of time. Baruch Hashem, we had a simcha in the family which occupied much of my time the past few weeks (even though I only wrote my Dvar Torah  a few hours prior to speaking). The routine of my life between home and family, work, and my extra curricular activities took priority over blogging, and for that I was painfully resigned to blog less and less.

And then, out of the blue, the unexpected happened.

One of the readers of this blog who I have been in touch with over the past year or 2, who knows Jameel's "real name," called me up in India on my Indian mobile phone. At first I was shocked. I'd been in India 48 hours, received only a handful of phone calls, and I get a phone call. I haven't ever me this person in reality, only via email, and yet, here he was calling me up on the phone...and how did he get my phone number? How odd!

My mind raced through many possibilities and then I figured it out. It was rather simple I guess -- my "out of the office" message auto-reply on my work email address (which this reader knows), sent him back an auto reply message saying that I could be reached this week on an Indian cellphone number. But why was he calling me? He's from the United States...what could be so urgent that a blog reader would call me on my India?

The answer came quickly; he was ALSO in India -- he saw my "Holy Cow" posting the other day, and thought maybe on this huge subcontinent of India, perhaps we weren't that far apart. Since nothing in my life is a coincidence, it was obvious that were were in the same neighborhood, in the same city, only minutes apart from each other. I gladly accepted his offer to meet -- throughout my travels, I've met all sorts of people through the Muqata blog, from Ezzie to Jack, and I've rarely been disappointed. That night was no exception -- this individual is clever and witty, and we both got along as if we had known each other for years. And yet, this was no ordinary individual. Where he walks, few can stand. From a life of non-observance of Judaism, he recently started putting on tefillin daily and davens. From a background of leftist ideology, this person wrote to me last year, saying I was the first "settler" he had ever met. He used to despise us, call us the root of all of Israel's evil, the blood suckers of Israeli society...settlers with their long beards and payot, weird kippot, Uzi submachine guns slung over shoulders who forced Israel to "occupy" the "territories".

No longer.

This person now counts himself among those, for whom Eretz Yisrael is an inspiration. Those who settle and build the land are no longer pariahs in his eyes, but pioneers for the Jewish people.

When writing to me before we met, he wrote:
I'd love to meet, finally to put a face to a name. You have been a very important factor in my eyes opening both politically and religiously in the last 2 years. I'd would be my honor and my pleasure.

While the purpose of my blog is to inspire people about Israel rarely do I get such actualized feedback.

And the truth is; this person inspired me. He re-opened my eyes about the potential for good in blogs. And there are so many great blogs out there that promote good, positive Jewish values. So many blogs by so many talented people; from the musings of the Rabbi without a cause, Juggling Frogs, Orthonomics, Mom in Israel, to the Shrapnel blogger overcoming her personal difficulties (she matter of factly announced that even having gone through a G-d awful terror attack, she doesn't think for a second that her aliya was a mistake.)

That's an inspiration!

Meeting the Psychotoddler and his family last summer, and showing them around Chevron was inspirational for me, when PT told me it was one of the high points of their trip.

For what inspires us?

The awakening of passion for Eretz Yisrael, dedication to the Jewish community, dedication to family, rededication to Jewish religious life...all those inspire me.

Have I rambled? Probably. Yet it's irrelevant, as I type this post, flying over Iran on my way to London, on my way home.

I'm inspired.

And my friend's parting words were; "If G-d forbid the government decided to destroy your settlement, I'm going to fly there to be with you to help on the barricades."

If I could have recorded his words, gone back in a time machine, and played them for him a few years ago, he would not believe it was him.

Readers: Go out and inspire the world.

Shabbat Shalom,


Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד


Holy Hyrax said...

Oh Jameel.

You, and your blog......complete me :P

Jack Steiner said...


But have you eaten his waffles.

Gila said...

I inspire? *sniff!*

I see I have to work a bit more on the whole snarky angle.... You know, to offset this irritating hero of zion thing. :)

Anonymous said...

Glad you're back. We're tired of reading JoeSettler on your blog.

YMedad said...

And the meeting you promised me? Still awaiting. Watch out for the cows.

edel67 said...

What can I tell you folx. Jameel is not just into waffles. He likes 'em rice cakes too. I have seen and I have witnessed.

This time around, besides the cows and the dogs ( usual fare in Bangalore ) there were lots of rats ( the 4 legged kind with the whiskers ). Something must have spooked them out of the sewer. I have never seen so many rats on the street in all my years of visiting India.

p.s. Mr. Medad, what an honor! Both your and your wife's blogs are some of the best stuff out there ( after our friend Mr. Jameel here ofcourse...)

rabbi without a cause said...

I haven't been blogging much at all, and to be brutally honest I haven't read anyone else's blog in ages. Felt a little guilty about not keeping up.

Came to your site now for a quick pre-Shabbos scan, found your 'I'm Back' article, and even your link to me... making me feel even more guilty about not blogging...


mother in israel said...

What a nice story. How about asking him for a guest post?
Thank you for including me--I'm honored.

the sabra said...

"Where he walks, few can stand."

Good good line.

Rafi G. said...

I never make these lists...

Sarah Likes Green said...

welcome back.
need inspiration but that might come with the waffles (as well as the blog).

Search the Muqata


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