Monday, March 31, 2014


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     It was raining, and I kept thinking that I have been crazy to do this and drag Roberta with me as well! My foot hurt, but that didn't stop me from getting hooked on the idea of helping a friend and getting a free lunch!
     We were invited to a seminar in celebration of the African-American Women. It was to happen in a building in Oakland. 
     I packed Roberta, and we went there. The rain got stronger as we drove. I found the building easily enough, but there was no sign, where to enter. All the doors were locked. 
     My friend, Evelyn, also drove up, and we began to look for the entrance together. I made Roberta put on my rain jacket, because she was walking with her walker and couldn't hold an umbrella. I was carrying the said umbrella, but the wind whipped rain at me from all sides.
     It took a little while, but, finally, someone came down and led us to an elevator. It didn't look like anything that I imagined. The room where people have gathered was chilly, and the ceiling was leaking by the windows, leaving ever widening water stains on the floor. I think, besides Evelyn, Roberta and myself, only one other person was a guest. All others were presenters. All that was OK: I arranged and participated in putting up many events to know that, it was hard to bring people; many times there were many more members of my organization that guests!
MaMa Asale on her way to give roses to Grandmothers
in an old folks' home for Mother's Day
     It was an event sponsored by Primerica, a financial planning and investment company. Fortunately, the expected pitch for ordering their services never came. Instead, people talked about building a community and a culture of heart and mutual help. My good friend, MaMa Asale, of the Grandmothers Who Help, talked about her work in bringing Black History exhibits to where people could learn from them. Another lady spoke very well of the necessity for determination in pursuing one's goals. She befriended Roberta before the start of the seminar by listening to her tales. Roberta has this whole Danielle Steel-like life story that she invented for herself. I don't know for
Roberta fibs a lot, but is a very lovable lady otherwise!
sure, how much of it is true, but I suspect that - not so much. She (Roberta) told it so many times, that she believes it herself  now, and I don't think that it's my place to dismantle her story!

     Anyway, the lady believed Roberta and was even  inspired by what she heard. She brought up my charge's name many times in her talk. Roberta was in heaven! 
     We were promised that two Bay Area chefs will make lunch for our program. To tell the truth, I wondered about it, as time passed and our stomachs began to make hungry noises. You see, it was an office building with no kitchen necessary for two famous (as we were told) chefs to work their magic! 
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Mr. Minnik, the Nutritionist
     Finally, the chefs were introduced. One of them turned out to be a nutrition expert, Mr. Minnik. He was not a chef, but we were interested to hear, what he had to say of the effects of sugar (which is present in most products or processed food that we buy) on our bodies. According to him and the sources that he cited, we consume ten times more sugar in one day that is recommended by the FDA! I quit drinking soda a long time ago, but recognized many things in Mr. Minnik's list of sugar-filled foods as something that I and my family use. In other words, I didn't regret having to listen to him instead of getting my expected lunch box!
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Mr. Rozenzweig
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Mr. Rozenzweig's salad looked different,
but was delicious!
     Another man was a chef. His name was Mr. Rozenzweig. He brought out a few huge metal bowls and a lot of smaller plastic containers. He talked about eating well to promote healthy and active living. He filled metal bowls with green spinach, dumped broken down sardines and avocados, pumpkin seeds, black beans and pieces of seaweed out of the plastic boxes into it and tossed everything right in front of our eyes. Even though it was not what we all anticipated, we soon began to salivate and couldn't wait for him to stop talking and hand out the salad already! One of the ladies made her own red beans and corn bread (not at all like the healthy chef recommended it, but delicious nevertheless!).
     I, who never looked at salads twice before, ate two helpings! That didn't help my concentration, as the program continued. Drowsiness seemed to affect not just me, but, fortunately, the next item on the program was a dancing group. They were three very vital young ladies, who did a number on liberating women from a veil of false modesty (I think). I had to do a lot of energetic blinking, to avoid falling asleep, but fast pace of the dance and sincerity of the dancers kept me interested!
     By that time, I began to worry that Roberta was getting tired. It's been a few hours that we were there, and she sat on a hard chair. She seemed to take it all in stride, though, and looked alert.
     Before we came, I promised Asale that I will bring a couple more people with me. It didn't happen. I was embarrassed by it, but as we hugged good bye, Asale whispered her thanks to me in my ear: "Dina, you got me out of trouble again" - she said. I was very moved. We never know, what kind of influence we have on others, and how we can be of great help to them.
     At home, Roberta began to sneeze and cough. I gave her a few things to prevent cold. She and I both are glad that we braved the rain and spent time in the atmosphere of learning and camaraderie. Thanks to you, MaMa Asale, we are richer today than we were yesterday!

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful tale! Beautifully told and inspiring us all.