Dear Harjit, Harleen, our two lovely granddaughters, Neha & Nina, their Nani, my wife, friend and companion, Masi Simran, Priyanka & Param and dear assembled Friends of Nina and the family:

Thank you Nina for asking me to talk to you all this evening, celebrating the happy occasion of you entering college and Neha having graduated from Duke getting on to the house of Barclay Capital to help their clients grow their investments.

Now I always sort of knew that Nina and Neha would do well – may be very well, too well. You would ask how and why?

For one thing, they had to take something from their parents: Harjit and Harleen both make for ideal parents. But maybe it goes deeper and further. I remember little Nina once saying in all love that Nina is Nani, the ulta pulta way. That was smart – it was wonderful the way she had grasped the distilled wisdom of her few years of astute observation – you cannot just go wrong if you did ulta pulta of what Nani does! So now you know Nina’s secret – observe carefully, draw your conclusions, do its ulta pulta and presto, it works!

And of course dear Nina of few words can leave you speechless, totally nonplussed. I remember years back when she was still in her pre-school and we were visiting with them. Harjit and Harleen were busy at work and that gave us the whole day to talk to the girls. We talked of many things – we did some, bonded and got to know one another. And then one day little Nina made us know her profound awareness of people who talk as if they only know what is right. Turning her full gaze on me she said ‘you know who I mean, Nana.’ Not quite sure, I said, yes but I never had the courage to ask her who did she mean – what if it turned to be me!

Neha is the one I have written to the most. I did so because she shared so many of her thoughts with me. Her mails, her writings were always great – feeling, touching, almost always expressing great depth of emotion and deep thought. Again this was for me a chance discovery. It was around 1999 or so. We were in CT and Harleen was visiting with us. Simran and Cherry, our third daughter, both on the East Coast also came over. So our little house turned into a den of curious sights and sounds with six kids running up and down. Newly retired, I was mostly left in the middle of them for Moms fortunately always have shopping to do. One day I raised my voice over the din and lo it became quiet with six pairs of eyes staring up at me and even the dogs curious about what happened to the old man. Now what – they seemed to be asking? I fumbled to utter clear instructions. I looked at the eldest duo, Priyanka and Neha and said you two write poems. Neha had a legit question – but Nana there is only one computer! I said fine you go first. She did. A few hours later she had written six poems and a couple of hours later Priyanka had written two when Nani and my daughters returned, much to relief of us all.

Reminiscing apart let me now try and turn to the more real and sometimes daunting experience of living the real life. When I was in my late teens, I developed a growing sense as if I had been through much of what had to be learnt. Slowly though I came to recognize that the learning that really helped me was the learning not as it was learnt but as it would be relevant to the question that I had before me. The purpose of knowing is to be able to improve our action choices. This process never ceases as long as we look for answers with an open mind.

Put simply our intellect is a storehouse of things precious – math vich rathan jwahar maanak – but it all can lie unexplored unless we can bring our mind to apply it. The sum total of good, ethical, moral living is captured beautifully in the mnemonic – naam japau, kirat karau and wand chhakau. Live a consciously prayerful life; make living by dint of honest hard work, sharing with others.

So my children as you go into life go with full confidence that the good will survive in spite of us being surrounded by what many may see as not so good getting ahead. Retain your sense of optimism/buoyancy – chardi kala, conscious that:

  • Pursuit of happiness may not be the same as pursuit of pleasure
  • Money matters a lot but so do the means used to acquire it
  • Invest in relationships – that is the biggest safety net in life
  • Remember that construction of life is in fact, a continuous reconstruction – so it is never too late to start over if you think it is not going right.

And with that dear Nina and Neha, it is no, no, na, na, wishing you well with Nani by his side. Love you evermore – may Wahiguru continue to guide you!

Nirmal Singh,

Los Altos Hill, CA 9 June, 2013

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