May 30, 2016
Ann and Kanwal, Xmas of 1971
Ann and Kanwal, Xmas of 1971
Ann in 1972
Ann in 1972
Ann and Kanwal in 1973
Ann and Kanwal in 1972
Prepared for India trip in 1973
Prepared for India trip in 1973
In Kanpur 1973
With Family in Kanpur 1973

I arrived in California in early December of 1971. I finally settled down in my job at Singer-Link in Sunnyvale, California. Sunnyvale was at the heart of emerging Semiconductor industry in Northern California’s Santa Clara Valley. Later, much later, Santa Clara valley came to be known as Silicon Valley.

Having been laid off 3 times, I had become very leery of longevity of any job. I became convinced that a job is an economic arrangement; Companies will keep you as long as you are  productive and the Company is doing well and not a day longer. One should not feel loyal or attached to the job a day longer than it is still fun and satisfying. I felt that I had not paid attention to the business side of the companies. All the companies I worked for were losing out in the market place and sooner or later would not need and could not afford to pay engineers. 1971 was also a bad year overall. Vietnam War and Space program were both winding down. Between the defense industry and the Space industry, a very large number of engineers were being laid off. Singer-Link was a defense contractor and I was not sure my job would last. Though, there were no signs of any imminent danger. I had promised myself and Ann that I will not be caught with my pants down ever again. I kept my resume up-to-date and kept applying for jobs and kept going for interviews all over US for next three years. I also signed up at Santa Clara University’s early bird program for working professionals. I broadened my educational base by taking courses in software and eventually in business also for next 5 years.

My job at Singer-Link was extremely interesting. We were designing Flight Simulators for Air Force and Navy. These simulators were essentially very large, specialized computers where we implemented complex algorithms in hardware to process data in real-time to produce images that a pilot would see  on his radar screen and out of the windows. I came to be the expert in radar simulation. My knowledge of both hardware and software gave me a special edge. I applied for several patents and was granted two of them. I moved up the ranks rapidly and came to be known as real hotshot in the company. I eventually stopped worrying about losing the job as the company and to some extent Air Force came to see me as a real asset.

By early 1973, it had been 5 years since I left home and two years since I got married. My family had not met Ann. We started planning a trip to India and finally traveled to Kanpur in the November of 1973. I had changed as a person. It had been 10 years since I lived in Kanpur. Kanpur had no facilities; no hotels, no restaurants, no airport. Our house did not have a proper toilet before I left for IIT but my parents had hustled to have one done before I and Ann showed up. It was great visiting family but the trip was very hard on both me and Ann. We did take special trips to Kashmir, Agra, Delhi and Khajuraho. A six weeks trip felt like eternity. I had not taken even a week off my work let alone six weeks until then.

My bosses at Link were worried that I may not return. They sent me a telegram saying that the company will pick up the expenses for the trip and I will get a 20% raise when I came back. It was first time I saw a tangible proof that companies take care of their star performers! That was a big help as plane fares in early seventies were about same as  they arenow but salaries were one tenth in dollar terms.

Return we did! I and Ann bought our first house in San Jose on her VA benefits. Under those benefits we did not have to pay any thing down and interest was also subsidized to the tune of 1%.

Life was settling back to normal in our new house in early 1974 when a telegram came from India that my dad had passed away in a motorcycle accident. I had promised him a trip to America before I left. That was his lifelong dream. Having made the trip the year before and having bought the house I was in no position to travel back. I was glad that he had met Ann. They both had taken an instant liking to each other. I was only 28 at the time and this was a big blow but one lives by the choices one makes in life.

Old Money

May 11, 2016

King George VI Anna 1 King George VI Anna 2 King George VI Athhani (Half Rupee) 1 King George VI Athhani (Half Rupee) 2 Moriwala Paisa (Paisa with a hole) 1 Moriwala Paisa (Paisa with a hole) 2 Queen Victoria Paisa 1 Queen Victoria Paisa 2 East India Company Half Anna 1 East India Company Half Anna 2 King Edward VIII Paisa 1 King Edward VIII Paisa 2 King George V Paisa 1 King George V Paisa 2After Almost 70 years after Independence, the British in India in an abstraction for most people. I was born in 1945. British money was still in circulation in 1950. New Indian money using decimal system  did not come in to being till 1957. Old Rupee had 16 Annas. Each Anna had four Paisa. All of these coins are from my childhood.

Also listen to a song from 1957: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3oFsT5i4B8



My Mom

May 9, 2016
With Baji in 1989
Kanwal with Baji (mom) in 1989
Baji with Kids
Baji with Ruby ( my sister) and kids



My mom Raj Kaur Rekhi (nee’ Oberoi) would have 96 this year. We called her Baji. She was born in Lahore and passed away in the Bay Area in 1998 . She outlived my dad by almost 24 years. She was was the middle sibling in a pack of 9 and did not get much education. She was  her mid-twenties at the time of the partition. She was the bedrock of our family.  I felt I was a favorite of her, though she did not favor any body.

My mom had as hard a life as you can imagine. She had eight kids of her own, had three sister in laws, two brother in laws and her father in law and mother in law to worry about. My memory of her is one of constant working; cooking breakfast to get dad out to work & kids out to school, lunch for remaining people, do daily laundry for the whole tribe, start cooking dinner. Did I mention doing dishes and house cleaning? We could not afford much hired help. My aunts did help out but I still remember constant work. All this before we had any machines. No washer or dryer, no fridge or stove. We used coal for cooking. There was no TV or time to watch TV. We did have an old radio that we all listened to.

When Dad started to go out for postings on his own, mom had to take over as the head of household too. That meant all shopping to run the household was on her shoulder too. I very early on stepped in to take over that part of the household. I was doing all the shopping; buying wheat and taking to the mill (Chukky) to be ground in to flour, going to Mandi (farmer’s market) to get vegetables, going to milkman to get milk. I became the man about house managing the monthly allowance that dad gave us. I would make sure that money will last the whole month. All this at the age of twelve!

After I left for IIT in 1963, one of the younger brother stepped in my shoes. Mom did all this without complaining. She made sure none of us felt neglected.

I left for US in 1967. I started to help financially as soon as I got my first job. Mom kept reminding me that brothers and sisters needed a helping hand. I sponsored them all to come to US, one by one they all came. She was not sure she wanted to come to US or not. After the death of Indira Gandhi in 1984. Congress Goondas (Goons) rioted against Sikhs, especially in Delhi and Kanpur.  Our house was attacked and almost fire bombed. Did not matter that we were a military family; besides my dad, two of my brothers served in the army. Mom did not feel safe in her house any more and she also finally emigrated.

She lived to see me achieve the great success that I eventually did. She loved America and all its conveniences. She loved soaps and was especially fond of Pakistani Soaps. She was very proud of her family till the end and was rueful that dad did not live to see family prosper.