Tuesday, December 31, 2013

CEREMONY & TREK SURVIVAL - PART 1 (B)

After working on the fishing boat, his mama demanded that he learn the English language for the family business because there was a need and she thought that he would be a good candidate. There was also pressure on her due to the increasing number of tourists: Yanks (Americans), Canucks (Canadians), Roos (Aussies), Kiwis (New Zealanders), Springboks (South Africans), and most of all Brits (those from the United Kingdom, specifically Great Britain) that had English as their primary spoken tongue.

Thus, her impatience in this regard was understandable. Mekkar was his mama’s choice and she was determined to make him fulfill this role she set out for him even if it killed her. His mama set up home schooling with tutors along with his special foreign language studies. Sirga also felt that this was a good reflection, in one aspect, of her parenting abilities.

When Mekkar’s papa Henrik would go to the United States, Britain, or another nation with English as a mother tongue for business, Mekkar’s mama made requests of him. It was mainly for Mekkar’s benefit in her mind. Sirga would tell Henrik to purchase and bring back English speaking only sports tapes, films, and videos for Mekkar.

She knew that would the best and quickest way Mekkar could grasp the correct phraseology through his passion of sports. Sirga never failed to remind Henrik to tell his translators too. She would do this herself on the rare occasions when she met the go betweens directly that would travel with her husband on those business trips.

It was important due to the fact that Henrik never learned nor spoke English himself. He admitted being taught a few of the swear words as part of the Allied air group during the Korean conflict, but long since forgotten them. Henrik was able to converse fluently in ten other languages, with business vocabulary in German being most important for his employer at that time.

Henrik would buy in North America, at the behest of Sirga; National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), World Hockey Association (WHA), National Hockey League (NHL), & English Futbol (Soccer) items for Mekkar. Henrik would bring back whole boxes of items. This was done to encourage Mekkar to continue on and to help him develop the skills needed as soon as possible. An incentive program!

Sirga had confidence that Mekkar would succeed in the immediate and difficult task she had given him. She had a plan. Sirga held back whipping his rear end and other forms of punishment until the job was done in a satisfactory manner as a last resort. So, when Mekkar’s mama felt he was ready enough she put him into the fire by mainly pressing Mekkar into service due to need.

On one of the first days of dealing with the tourists in the family restaurant Mekkar was busing tables and took a couple of orders. One example was some tourists that had just arrived into their small 15 table specialty diner. The visitors from the United Kingdom appeared to be astonished when a boy came over to their order in fairly broken English in their opinion.

It seemed as though both parties understood each other well enough to converse. After his first order was received in the foreign language, Mekkar approached the kitchen. Now he was beaming with confidence, well as much as a little boy could muster. In his eagerness, he took a few more that day.

Later on, another kid in one of the tourist families taught Mekkar a new swear phrase. In a particular instance Mekkar was given inaccurate information as to the meaning of the quip and was told that it meant Hello or referred to it as a type of greeting instead of the phrase’s true meaning. Why Mekkar took it at face value from the slightly older visitor we will never know.

Eventually Mekkar used that greeting toward another small group of visitors and received an appalled reaction which caused them to flee out of the restaurant. When Sirga got wind of it she was angry at Mekkar and smacked him upside the head. Mekkar was confused and bewildered to say the least by his mama’s response. He thought that he was generally being friendly. Mekkar was unaware that the specific choice of words was a type of curse phrase instead of a friendly introduction.

The lessons learned when his mama explained to him of the true meaning after she was warned by one of her friends who happened to be nearby and spoke English fairly well. Of course, this was before Sirga began her own process of absorbing English for her to be relatable to a host of tourist groups supposedly coming their way in the near future.

This was the only slip up by Mekkar and overall it was considered that he did a good job. Mekkar was rewarded after closing hours with pots, pans, dishes, & cleaning duty. He felt that maybe it was due to his swearing at the tourist earlier. Another possibility might have been because his little brother needed to have an example to follow to be groomed to carry out the same tasks when he got older. It was determined there was just a lack of available bodies to fill all the jobs for now.

Later on the family business expanded into a few other areas and branched out a bit. Sirga also forced Mekkar along with his siblings and friends to expand their foreign speaking skills by hook or by crook for employment requirements. Since, Mekkar didn’t go to the formal school and instead had tutors, training aids, etc. he could spend more time working. His extra time was playing sports and just being a kid as much as he could. This was because in this culture children had to grow up more quickly and contribute to the family’s welfare. When he got older formal classroom schooling was sacrificed on the altar of sports.

Mekkar was in the process of learning not only his native tongue, but another nearby dialect of it, the national language of the country he lived in, a regional speech, a couple of continental languages, along with communication in English as his mama required. His plate was quite full at this time.

This was all determined by the force of his mama’s personality backed by statements of “do it my way or I’ll beat your butt!” There was no double standard or dual meaning to interpret regarding Sirga’s words or intentions, unlike today’s politicians. The goals were made very clear and defined. She meant what she said.

Mekkar’s mama also made his brothers, when they reached a certain age; learn other foreign tongues to fulfill various other needs according to her perceptions. Alf would eventually become fluent in easily over twenty languages including Hungarian, which is considered by many to be the hardest language on earth. Eventually Alf could converse in Cantonese Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Greek, and many of the prominent Finno-Ugric, Germanic, Slavic, & Romance languages. Mekkar, on the other hand, was considered a slacker in his family for speaking less than ten languages himself. However, he spoke English which others in his family did not speak as of yet.

Due to lack of use and practice, in time Mekkar would forget a couple of the tongues he learned when he was a kid. He still remembers odd words however. English was here to stay and would be of more use in the future unbeknownst to Mekkar when he had to flee his home.

Another time Mekkar was outside tending to some of his reindeer to keep them healthy for the tourist business. Then some other visitors were driving by slowly in a vehicle near the area where Mekkar was. The car stopped and a man and what appeared to be his wife along with two children got out. Mekkar recognized them as non locals because of their clothes and he had interacted with some of them in their own language earlier in the day. However, he kept his back turned toward them and continued on his task.

When the man approached Mekkar within speaking distance he said disparagingly, “Hey reindeer boy turn around and look at us, so we can get a picture of you with the animals.” Mekkar heard him and thought that maybe the British tourist did not recognize him from earlier. Mekkar surmised that the visitor thought he was speaking to someone else, but he was the only native there at that moment.

Mekkar was perturbed at that condescending comment and responded by turning slowly to his right and giving those arrogant bastards the native version of flipping the bird at them. In case that wasn’t enough for them to get the picture, and Mekkar believed that it might not have been, he then proceeded to drop his pants to his ankles and moon the tourists there. While at the same time pat his bare bottom in their direction.

The boy reacted with a flippant attitude in this manner. He did what he thought was an appropriate comeback to combat the snobbish attitude and comments on the part of the out of towners.

Usually Mekkar tolerated a lot due to communication challenges, but when people got rude with him his outgoing friendly demeanor changed. He might say something back that was sharp and blunt in response. “Hey, you don’t understand here”, he might blurt out. Mekkar never allowed any interaction intimidation by any individual against him. This attitude would also incur Sirga’s wrath on occasion also. She didn’t want any harm to come to the business.

Some other times Mekkar’s buddies would show up at the restaurant to give Mekkar grief and a hard time but it was all in jest. Those, whoever was running the eatery that day whether it was Mekkar’s mama, grandmamma, or another family member would proceed to kick the boys out. The aim was to keep Mekkar from being distracted by their behavior and get back to work.

This was part of Mekkar’s makeup or maybe just a character flaw. Mekkar had a situation where people came into the diner and tried to get any employee’s attention to wait on them. Mekkar came up to their table and was fully confident in his task. He already knew what he was doing and by this time had a lot of experience despite his outward youthful appearance. However, this particular group of tourists did not see it the same way. They tried to chase him off as he was about to take their food order. One of the persons in their party shot out a comment, “Hey, get out of here little kid as we are getting ready to make our selections from the menu.”

Mekkar at first thought maybe this was joke on him. Since he was the only one on the small staff who could communicate with these English speakers he felt the need to approach them again. Mekkar perceived the grumpy old man who made the earlier response as another arrogant visitor who thought that they were better than the locals. You know what they say about obnoxious travelers, it fit in this case.

The native youngster once again thought that maybe the man was not too old, but his face made him look older than he probably was. He tried to quickly analyze the visitor by his outward appearance. This way of thinking, was the first instance that Mekkar could recall, where he believed he was being contrary to his own native cultural upbringing.

Unlike, in many other places, observations of people here are usually not based on the first impression or introduction with an individual. The reason is that it is considered a poor indicator and not an accurate measure of a person’s character. Mekkar knew that these first interactions should not be relied upon as a true gauge of a person’s real personality. Family members and elders in the village had mentioned this in quite a few discussions with Mekkar.  

The trouble was Mekkar was beginning to have another standard of which to judge tourists as opposed to other people. An increasing number of visitors seemed to arrive with more superior complexes and this began jade Mekkar’s opinion of them a bit.

The customer at the table had a few wrinkles around the eyes and a squint to his facial features. Mekkar, well he tried to copy that as he was taught to carry himself in a mirroring effect with new arrivals when he spoke to them. The issue was that Mekkar, being a boy, did not have a deep voice like the man.

But Mekkar didn’t want to show that he might be overwhelmed by anyone. So, Mekkar felt the only way he could be forceful enough to garner any respect was with his bluntness with all people. That was the way Mekkar was and he inherited this trait from his mama’s side of the family. His own native language tended toward that straightforwardness also.

Another person in the group spoke up, “Get out here little kid and get someone who will take our order!” Mekkar responded, “I am ready to take your order now.” Mekkar guessed that these people still thought this was some kind of prank or something else.

Mekkar suspected that these tourists were from the United Kingdom or thereabouts. He figured that he was the only one able to communicate with them and he was improving his skills and fluency on a daily basis. There was some difficulty comprehending some of the British speech, but this exchange was completely unnecessary in Mekkar’s opinion.

There was inferred tone now in his response to the rude travelers, “I know what I am doing. If you want something that is fine, but if you don’t there is another long distance up the road, where you can order somewhere else.” Mekkar had quite enough of the negative vibe directed at him.

He also perceived that those people in that party looked hungry and tired. They appeared to him to have needed a break. That is one of the reasons why Mekkar took this tact approach. He expected a retreat from confrontation on their part. Plus, Mekkar also knew that he had stretched the truth in his blunt retort. There were other eating places and competition right there in his village and nearby. But, he was not about to give in to anyone’s attack against him.

Mekkar had a method to his madness, there was a strategy. He wasn’t going to put up with rude attitude nonsense for just doing his job. At the same time hoping that word of his sharp tone, response, and behavior with the guests wouldn’t get back to his mama. Sirga is the one who would meter out any punishment or discipline as necessary. Mekkar was determined that no one was going to defeat him with this confrontational strategy of his when he had to rely on it.

The arctic lad noticed the sweat running from their brows and those visitors looked physically exhausted, needing a rest. So, Mekkar reacted with that stance and the gamble paid off and the tourists stayed. They ordered their food and drinks. Unfortunately, for Mekkar they did complain to management, Mekkar’s mama, and he did get into trouble for this.

Anyway, it was worth the risk to Mekkar in that he knew if you are stern and stand up for yourself against any type of attack, you will eventually be victorious. This is the way Mekkar thought and he was born a fighter. Even fighting for his own survival at birth. Mekkar is of the opinion that he will always be a fighter throughout his life in some capacity and this would probably never change.

Mekkar once heard from someone close to him that his mama made a dramatic comment regarding him not long after his birth at the hospital. Sirga said, “That boy, if he survives, is going to be feisty because that is what will keep him alive, especially now.” Thus, the reason why Mekkar thinks his mama is some kind of prophet or has special powers.

Well, this went on for a couple of years, in between entering into the realm of semi-organized ice hockey and other activities. The hockey was not organized as compared to leagues and teams in the larger town scope some distance away. He just considered it semi structured for the immediate scarcely populated area Mekkar grew up in.

You know, being a kid and even going on special adventures that most children and other people do not normally enjoy. Including going on the reindeer trek. It is well to note once again that Mekkar was brought into this world while a small percentage of his family was fairly nomadic in some respects. That is they used to follow the reindeer in their migratory patterns just as some of his ancestors did.

Some scientists and anthropologists say even as long as more than ten thousand years ago. Carrying out all these various activities in the harsh environment of the Arctic. His native people also existed far below the tundra areas to more southern latitudes. Over time they were pushed northward by other more numerous peoples.

Well, Mekkar and some others in his tribe and village were about to embark on a long round trip trek this time around. Their direction would take them northward to the plateau, swing to the east travelling through some small towns along the way. They were going to go so far east as to almost reach the sea.

However, they didn’t want to get so close as to alert the military installations in that region because that would bring a host of other problems the trekkers were looking to avoid. It would be a hard journey through deep snow and the group doesn’t want to use up all the food and other resources where they are now and deplete it for future use.

Thus, the reason for the migration and movement for the sake of the animals because they are the lifeblood and identity of the tribe. Some of the members rely on the animals for their main livelihood. If the reindeer can’t eat and feel safe from various predators, they will starve and not be strong enough for the journey and won’t survive through the season. The result is that the people with the animals will be negatively affected and could starve also.

The reindeer are also valuable commodities as well as, in some cases, good companions like a family pet. They usually listen and don’t interrupt you when you speak. Mekkar has this idea that they might have the ability to show some concern and know that you are all in it together. Of course, he hasn’t confirmed this theory of his.

However, Mekkar is convinced that these animals are smarter than they are given credit for. On the other hand, some of the beasts can be extremely stubborn and aggressive at times. This is especially true when the antlers are reforming and growing back as well as during round up, rutting time, along with competing for food and treats.

A reindeer is not stupid and can ingenious at times for a pack animal. They have the ability to find food under deep snow because of a keen sense of smell. Mekkar calls it their radar. The animal is very suited and adapted for arctic climates.

The first time Mekkar saw the reindeer stop in its tracks he was amazed as he watched quietly as it located its food source. Mekkar is still amazed regarding that capability even to this day far into the future. Sometimes, he will say to himself, “How did they do that?” Even when Mekkar knows the scientific explanation and answer to his question.

Many people make statements regarding the fact that the human is smarter than an animal because they have the ability to reason. But, Mekkar disagrees with this analysis because he is convinced that in some cases the opposite is true.

As he has gotten older, Mekkar doesn’t believe that is the case at all. Through seeing with his own eyes, Mekkar concludes that in a few aspects the animal is much more superior to the human. One reason is that just because humans have common sense doesn’t mean many in their species actually use it. Also, human beings have used part of their extraordinary talents to destroy the whole planet instead of nourish it.

Over many years the animals haven’t been the ones in command of earth and thus they have not tried everything in their power to destroy it either. Unlike people, the animals have embraced their surroundings, adapted, and furthered the growth of Mother Nature along with native tribes for their own survival.

Whether the non-human species realize it or not, a limited number of people such as native tribes have followed suit in forms of adaptation. Furthermore, they have displayed a caring for the immediate environment around them.

Not forcing or attempting to compel and exploit nature to adapt to people like the modern societies do. This while at the same time the advanced and developed cultures giving lip service regarding the betterment of the planet and their own natural surroundings.

This train of thought is in direct conflict with Mekkar’s upbringing and concepts that help shape Mekkar’s native people. As stated beforehand, in that cycle of life we are just a small piece in a much larger human puzzle. The people who live in harmony with the land and environment all know that they are all here together.

The whole key is understanding these concepts and the goal of the natives there is to survive and even thrive. If one becomes well off that is even better because it shows that not bleeding the environment dry can be done successfully.

That is successful in whatever endeavor one chooses if they are smart and conduct themselves in an appropriate manner. Of course, there are other factors at play here that many fail to mention that are related to a person being accomplished significantly in life.

One is you have to be lucky; however one defines it, and be at the right place at the right time. Another aspect is that Mekkar like anyone else needs a lot of help from others along the way. Mekkar knows that no individual in existence became super great at anything without some input, guidance, or help. The person who says they did it all by themselves is not telling the truth. Only arrogance and greed proclaim otherwise.

So, connections are extremely important. You know the common saying; It’s not what you know but who you know. This is more crucial than ever in today’s world. Mekkar likes to add to that well known statement. It maybe more accurate in some cases to say it’s who you sleep with takes priority over your brain power and intelligence.

He believes that this rings more true in modern societies if one is wise. This is just some of the thought processes that run through Mekkar’s mind. Those ideas have definitely been imparted into his being and influenced him from sources around him especially family members.

Mekkar was still impressed to see these creatures in action even though he had been around them all of his young life so far. The reindeer is not that large or as tall when compared with cattle or a moose. They are shorter but also have a wide body and have lower stature, much smaller than a horse. Very similar to how Mekkar would later turn out to be with a low center of gravity. Others were restricted in their view of him by noticing only his smaller overall stature, but discounted any possible advantages.

Reindeer have hooves that are split and help them to keep from slipping on winter surfaces. They have better traction than people do in regular shoes and boots especially on ice and hard snow. These animals are exceptionally strong for their size, very powerful, and they can sense when something is after them. They can swim too!

Remember, they are still a herd creature by nature and can be, like Mekkar, stubborn to a fault. On an individual basis they make their grunt type, snorting din which can change when being attacked. Mekkar realizes their antlers need to stay strong and sharp. So, they can protect themselves against predators and win tussles to impress others within the herd.

At times, they will use their antlers, along with their feet, for digging into snow to find food sources. Mekkar refers to it as using their radar system, heightened sense of smell, to locate edible nutrition. They are smart enough to rub up against trees and bushes to remove the velvet blood, skin, and fur layer that promote antler growth because they drop them each year. Similar to a snake shedding its skin. Adaptive and creative unlike a sheep but also part of a collective for protection.

Now, the curious thing about starting the trek is not finding the leader of the reindeer. There are a few who will vie for that esteemed function. The key is to recognize the next few animals that follow right up there with or close behind the leader of the pack. The ideal is that the rest of the herd soon begins to follow the clicks of their feet to move the whole group in the same direction.

There are a few reindeer who will do battle for the alpha male leadership role. The baddest, toughest male gets more of the females. Just like it works in the human realm also despite the social engineering that abounds. If Mekkar decided to see things from a reindeer’s perspective, he would think why would I want to be the runner up instead of the top “dog”.

Reindeer are the only deer species where the females also grow a set of antlers like the male. However, they drop them at different times of the year. Furthermore, the female is required by biology to divert at least some of that calcium to other uses. Purposes such as offspring, production of milk for growing calves, and extraction for dairy products consumed by humans. All this is done without being affected by bone and skeletal cancer like people. Scientists are still trying to gain answers to those questions.

Mekkar still thinks they are amazing animals. While most individuals mistakenly fancy the notion that all they do is fly through the air pulling Father Christmas’ sleigh around to help him deliver Christmas presents. Mekkar says hogwash to that impression.