Saturday, June 1, 2024

Who wants to be a pillionaire?

FULL-FAITH HELMETS: Karma is fearless, which would be a great name
 for a self-help book.
First: A spoiler alert sorta thing: The title is not a typo. I hope that if you read this blog to the second-last paragraph, you will say, "Great pun, Pete!" And you know how much that means to me. So thanks.

Now on to our story.

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Here was my colleague--to me--on Thursday at about 3:35 p.m., in the parking lot at my office, as he strapped on a full-face motorcycle helmet: "I'm not going to die on the highway, am I?" 

Me: "I can't make any promises." 

Him: "Okay. Let's go."  

And thus got underway the great 26-kilometre motorcycle ride from north Toronto to the neighbourhood where both I and he--Karma--live.

Yup. Karma. He's Tibetan. 

And what other name could there be for a guy, who--when you tell him his fate is in your hands but you can't make any promises--shrugs it off with, "Okay. Let's go."? 

I love saying Karma is my friend. And that Karma lives down the street.

Yesterday, when I mentioned to another friend and author (and former Harrowsmith Country Life staff editor) Heather Grace Stewart that I would be giving Karma a ride home, she said, and I quote: "I love it! Karma's riding with you! You have to blog about this."

The thing is, I'd have blogged about Karma, even if he didn't have such a marvelous handle. 

He was born in a yurt in northern India to nomadic yak herders and I figure he wasn't the least bit apprehensive about climbing onto the back of my Harley because when he was a kid, Karma rode bareback horses to round up yaks in the Himalayas.

Karma does some computery job with our company that I don't understand, but he's also got a ton of side gigs, including book writing. A week ago, Karma asked me to edit this little "author's note" for his  next project. 

Karma T. Youngdue was born in Jangthang Nyoma, India and received his primary education at the Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV) in Ladakh. His journey to the USA began in 1992 when he represented TCV Ladakh in a rigorous competition against 14 finalists from different TCV schools. The competition involved oral and written exams, interviews and participation in a debate and Karma emerged as one of the top four students, earning a coveted full scholarship to a prestigious private school in Vermont, USA. After graduating from The Putney School, he secured another scholarship to Yale University, where he pursued English and Computer Science.

 After completing his studies at Yale, Karma earned numerous scholarships and pursued a bachelor of arts degree with majors in Mathematics and Computer Science at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. He furthered his education by obtaining a master’s degree in information technology and systems from Regis University in the USA. Throughout his career, he has made significant contributions across various sectors, including software development for the aviation industry, healthcare, and eCommerce businesses.


I first met Karma after he and some other members of the Canadian Tibetan community had just returned from visiting the Dalai Lama in India.

They presented their national and spiritual leader with a  3-D hand-built scale model of visitors to the Potala Palace, which is the Dalai Lama's traditional home, back in Tibet. (Click on "visitors." It's such a cool project. One of the kids is actually a model based on Karma's daughter.)

And Karma built the thing himself. The model, I mean, not the palace.

MODEL CITIZENS: One of the pilgrims in the diorama
is Karma's daughter, which would be a 
fantastic title for a ballad.

And that was the guy hanging for dear life on to me as we roared down the Don Valley Expressway Thursday afternoon.

When I say roared, I don't mean raced. My bike is loud and makes a roary sound even when I go slowly, which is most of the time.

After I dropped him off and we took a few selfies, I asked Karma if I could write about our trip, and he was like, "please do." So I did. (Karma made me write this blog! Hahaha.)

And here's the thing about the title. 

I've met more than one Englishman--yes, they were from England and they were men--who referred to the back seat of a motorcycle as "pillion." It rhymes with "million." It means "little rug" or something like that.  

So when somebody is riding on the back of a motorbike, the expression is, they're riding pillion. 

Pete's Blog&Grille: Delivering good Karma and excellent puns since 2016.