"When I used to DJ in my younger years, my name surprised people (particularly those who are not educated on the existence of Catholicism, Christianity and Portuguese colonization in India). I often got asked "TONY!?! Is that your REAL name?" To which I would respond "Y-NOT?"
Lest We Forget - three words renowned
across most countries to show remembrance of those who have fought, and those
who have died fighting for freedom. It means that we will never forget. In Canada, the day is honoured by
wearing poppies, a flower that bloomed throughout the fields of battle grounds
in France and Belgium during World War I. The wearing of the symbol of the
poppy was made popular due to the poem, Flanders Fields, written by Canadian
physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae after witnessing his friend and
fellow soldier struck down in the midst of battle in WWI. In the poem by
John McCrae 'In Flanders Fields' poppies are referred to, but why poppies?
The answer is
simple: Poppies only flower in rooted up soil. Their seeds can lie on the
ground for years and years. They will sprout only when someone roots up the
ground. Battlefields during the war, churned up the soil while dead soldiers
laid on the ground and the poppies blossomed.
by John McCrae
fields the poppies blow
crosses, row on row,
That mark our
place; and in the sky
still bravely singing, fly
amid the guns below.
We are the
Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt
dawn, saw sunset glow,
loved and were
loved, and now we lie,
Take up our
quarrel with the foe:
To you from
failing hands we throw
The torch; be
yours to hold it high.
If ye break
faith with us who die
We shall not
sleep, though poppies grow
Lieutenant Col. John Alexander McCrae was born in McCrae House in Guelph,
Ontario to Lieutenant-Colonel David McCrae and Janet Simpson Eckford; he was
the grandson of Scottish immigrants. He attended the Guelph Collegiate
Vocational Institute and became a member of the Guelph militia regiment. The
background of his family is military. Poet, physician, author, artist and
soldier during World War I, and a surgeon during the battle of Ypres, a Municipality
in Flanders, Belgium. He is best known for writing the above war memorial poem.
For me the violin had always been one of those musical instruments that I always wanted to learn to play since childhood, but never really got down to learning it until I was into my early fifties. I remember that I often mentioned this to my children. "Someday I must learn to play the violin", I had often said.
And then so it came to pass that it was the eve of one my birthdays when I was about to go to sleep. Around midnight I hear a knock on the door. It is my eldest daughter Denise at the door. She is about to push a huge cardboard box that has a picture, and all the markings of a barbecue grill. She says "Happy Birthday Dad", and I say "... but we already have a barbecue".
My daughter then insists that I open the taped-up box which, after some reluctance and hesitation, I do open. Placed at a slant in that box is what looks like a violin case. And I am left speechless, dumb-founded and surprised. After all, for sure, I think that it is a violin that is in the box. Then I am handed a birthday card. And I am baffled as to how on earth at my age am I going to learn what is supposed to be a such a difficult musical instrument. Then I open the envelope containing the birthday card and inside there is pre-paid 12-lesson violin course from Merriam School of Music, which once again leaves me wondering and guessing what all the young violin learners at the school are going to think of me when I walk into the music class. Will they think that I am teaching the art of playing violin? Or am I a late starter in learning to play the violin? Or will they think that I am perhaps accompanying someone younger to the school?
The following week after my birthday, it was my first day, first lesson, at the renowned Merriam School of Music in Mississauga. I walked boldly through the revolving doors. As soon as I stepped in, I hesitantly and nervously looked around me holding my violin case in my right hand, and following the guidance from the receptionist and signs leading to the first floor, proceeded to my class.
I was expecting a room full of violin enthusiasts supervised by an older teacher. But I entered into a mid-size room with no one else in there. A minute later, in walked a young girl who I thought was a student, but I soon realised that she wasn't. She was, in fact, my teacher. She was as old as my daughter. She was going to be my teacher for the next 12 lessons. This was a hands-on crash-course it seemed.
After my first one-hour lesson I was quite at ease. I went around the school. As I walked and passed through the corridors of this prestigious school of musical learning, I heard different sounds of instruments apparently seeping out of the rooms. On my way down through the lobby, there were much older people than I was at the time, holding cases of what looked surely like violins, guitars, and mandolins or perhaps other instruments. And oh! my, how glad was I, that I was not alone!
The following 3 months I assigned myself the task of practising, thanks for the basement, where no one could hear the initial squeaks, but myself and the basement walls. And four months later found myself playing at a party.
An early morning drive through the serene country-side, the air is still, the trees seemingly still hanging on desperately with colourful foliage of late autumn hues, thus making up for the dull skies.
By the forlorn road in the country-side under a cloudy sky, some trees seem to be prepping themselves earlier than others, shedding their leaves, getting ready for winter, lest they should find themselves unexpectedly burdened by snow.
One tree at the cross-roads in a serene area in Caledon, Ontario, seems to have stood the test of time, bowing under the pressures of the wind, while another in its vicinity seems to have succumbed to the brutal forces of nature during the last winter.
Geese are taking off. No more loafing around. Perhaps due to a sudden change in the weather. The leaves on the trees still in myriad colourful hues, were caught unawares and unprepared, bewildered and perplexed just like I was, as snow fell in the fall this year..