77. Now We Are Five

Our youngest was not yet one year when he started holding on to things and toddling about.  The other two children were coming into their individual personalities.

And guess what?  It was time for us to move once again.  So from 4th Street we moved to Euclid Street, right between Broadway and Colorado.  

Also I would change my job.  Briefly to explain, a new manager hired from outside our current staff came into the Banquet Room changing things entirely and re-staffing with people he brought in.  I wasn’t exactly excited about the changes and so I went from the Hotel Miramar to the Santa Ynez Inn.

This new work location was a bit further away from home.  It was up Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) a bit, on Sunset Boulevard just below the SRF Lake Shrine Temple which by the way was and still is, a very beautiful and peaceful spot for contemplation, slowing down and catching one’s breath –if you’re into that sort of thing.  

I’m thinking Diana and I should’ve spent more time there.  Many movie stars frequented the Lake Shrine, getting away from the hectic flow of their daily lives and writers too.

Anyhow I got along so well with everyone at the Santa Ynez Inn; they really liked me, it was plain to see.  A Jewish family -the owners- were very kind and generous and occasionally allowed me to occupy one of the rooms when the working night had become too late.  I’d of course call Diana and let her know.

At the end of our shifts we were all given a meal if we wanted it.  For me I was allowed anything from the bar if it was the overnight stay.  I gratefully would enjoy only one ice cold beer with my dinner.

You know if it wasn’t a full moon, the drive was dark down the lonely coast and after such a busy shift, this journey just felt that much longer than it did going to work.  

Breakfast came along with the offer; I was encouraged to ask for anything.  Although it wasn’t often, I quickly got used to a thick, juicy steak!

Another thing they trusted to me was playing chauffeur to some of their special weekend guests.  They provided me the additional opportunity to earn even more, that was real nice.  Yes I wore a cap and the uniform.

One day Diana and I were discussing getting Alok baptized.  She said it would be nice to find godparents for him if we could.  My first two children (with Diana) were already baptized but they didn’t get godparents in the deal.  

When I went to work I mentioned in casual conversation to my manager George, that my wife and I had been discussing Alok’s baptism.  I said we had no idea how or who to appoint this important position to.

He and I had easily become pretty good friends.  George listened keenly and then much to my surprise, he offered to take the position, saying, “…well, I’d be extremely honored to be your son’s godfather.”

Since I was with Diana I had become accustomed to more Catholic ideals though I remained true to my Hindu religion in my heart.  Being entirely honest with you my followers, since I’d been away from home in Fiji for so long and away from my family, I wasn’t as devout in my worship.  

I didn’t forget my roots to be sure.  And being a part of my wife’s explorations of life made my Diana happy: well why not get educated in as many things as possible?

I told Diana of George’s offer and she was pleased with this news.  She thought it was a real wonderful thing he did to volunteer and she happily agreed.  

We baptized Alok shortly after George’s acceptance in the local Catholic church which we’d begun attending.  George had come with his wife and daughter and it was clear, they took this very seriously.  It was all very touching for Diana and myself and Alok was now blessed with a caring godfather.

The five of us frequented the beach whenever possible, no surprise, a love of ocean.  I remember there were hotdog trucks (and the like being beach finger foods) and we both enjoyed the fun of that.

We shared these treats with our kids as part of the whole experience.  My eldest boy ate his with no fuss and enjoyed drinking from his carton of milk.  The baby was neutral with baby snacks, a bottle and maybe a bite or two here and there.

mommy, Arvind & me-2Then there is our daughter.  She’s a finicky one (still is).  If there was something she didn’t like she’d watch and wait.  Then she’d hide it somewhere. We didn’t realize this at first; I was amazed to see she’d eaten her hotdog and was smiling while sipping her milk.

I’d say to Diana, ‘Look she’s finished it completely!’  We were both pleased, knowing how she could be. When it was time to move on, we’d gather up everything of course and then, discover the unconsumed hotdog she had hidden.

We were five; my family I made here in America, with the help of Diana of course, felt real good.

 

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6. 🤷🏽‍♂️ Tailoring My Way Off the Island – part 2

June 1953.  I am now 18 years … and 2 months to the good.

Oh, the ol’ friend of a friend routine, eh?

From days gone by I had a friend who knew a man working as an agent under W.R. Carpenters Group (SS freighter ship owners among many other prosperous business ventures) which regularly came into the Port of Suva.

In turn he had a friend who worked on the SS Lakemba as a waiter who was most often in personal service of the captain by order of the chief steward and having been aboard for quite sometime, earned his trustworthy status.  My friend’s friend, called upon his friend.

It was easily decided between us; just as soon as an opening came up on the SS Lakemba, it could be mine.  That wasn’t so hard right?  There were a few other Indian nationals on the kitchen and dining room staff and so, in this new life’s adventure I could find a comfort in the workspace accompanied by sheer bliss of the open sea!

The freighter ships would enter the port about every 3 months and I was all but on board.  It was to the customs office where I would go to sign-up for employment on this ship.  And so with the confidence of a well-learned trade, an excellent letter of reference and the respected recommendation of a senior captain’s boy, I was ready for my life’s next chapter.

One afternoon while still at work in the tailoring shop, I heard from the Carpenters Group agent who called to inform me that my current future’s balloon had been popped!  Sadly, another chap unexpectedly took the position.

Even the agent was baffled at the thought of how someone else could’ve taken this spot as we were all but certain it would be mine for the taking.  I went home that afternoon with a splitting headache, restless, cranky and fevered.  I took some aspirin and fell asleep.  Little did I know my stars were lying in wait just over the horizon with some pretty serious plans for me.

The accepted candidate who should have come in to sign his paperwork and be officially entered on the payroll, never showed.  The slightly distraught Skipper then said to the senior waiter, “So where’s this guy you told me about before, is he still available?”

Right away Sir!  This young man -the agent’s friend- immediately caught a cab and came directly to my house.  He frantically pounded at my door and when my mother opened the door, she was greeted with, “Where is he?!”

She told him I was asleep and asked for the reason of his hurried inquiry.  He very quickly relayed there was an opening on his ship and I was to be brought immediately to the ship’s office for processing!  “Please wake him now!”

She left him at the porch, more than a bit suspicious of what her dear young son may have going on and she woke me.  She carefully asked me if I knew why there was an anxious man at our doorstep, asking for me and babbling on about taking me to a ship.

I popped up right away with a few thoughts of my own which were soon confirmed as I walked towards the door.  When he saw me his words were immediate and to the effect, something like, ‘We have to go right now, they’re waiting for you!  The job is yours!’

You can imagine my surprise … I knew also then -and in my excitement, left it alone for the time being- that my mother’s heart was being torn right out of her body.  “I have the taxi outside.  We must go to the office straight away!”

I quickly straightened my locks and locks of soft, wavy hair just a bit as I dashed past my mother with a smile, stopping only for a brief moment outside to splash my face with cool water and then climbing into the taxi.

We had arrived at the customs office in moments flat.  I was officially accepted for employment on the SS Lakemba that evening.  I couldn’t believe it!  I went home to begin packing, have my dinner and say my goodbyes.

I had to report back to the ship very early the next morning to begin my new position, my new life.  My mother cried … a lot.  I didn’t want her to hurt but I also knew that I had to go the way my heart was guiding me.  The next night would be my last night at home, this time.

⚓️ Once on board, my uniforms were assigned to me, the how-to of things to do were laid out and practiced and I received my cabin assignment, there were four to a cabin.  I found I needed no time to adjust, I knew I was already at home on the ship.  🏝 On the 3rd day, we sailed and I left my Suva behind for the first time in my life … my little tropical paradise was disappearing into the horizon.  Yes, that horizon.

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AND by the way, that bit about the locks & locks of soft, wavy hair is actually true, also … as everything else in these chronicles.  It’s just that today, Little Blue Masala still goes on about all the hair he used to have and well, I couldn’t resist the entry!