Wednesday, February 25, 2009


This will be hard to believe, but.... I have a friend. His name is Jaime, but I (for the past 15 years) call him Mowgli. (Yaknow - the dude from Jungle Book?) We worked as a team on a few really cool projects. A mall renovation, the first "green" building in southeastern Pennsylvania & a few others. He's a terrific Project Manager. I'm a year or two older & several inches taller, but he has more gray hair (probably from working with a risk-taking stubborn mule like me so often). Sometimes I call him Desi 'cause of his slight accent (assent) & his tendency to screw up American slang with things like "you're trying to pull the sheep over my eyes". My kids are grown. He has one adult daughter that now teaches disadvantaged kids in Philly (she graduated from the University of Miami with lots of honors) & three littluns at home. He moved to South Carolina a few years ago & transferred to North Carolina last spring. So what's the big deal?

We both started (late bloomers) doing something creative in our semi-old age. I began writing a coupla years ago, just before he took on painting. The wave picture is the third painting that he's shown me & frankly, I'm impressed. I'd better get another book done just to keep pace, but his story is still better....

Here's the cool part. Jaime was raised in Peru, which is why I figure he wore banana leaves as a kid & therefore named him Mowgli as a vertically challenged adult. His family was ridiculously wealthy, owned a huge 'estancia' & employed several locals. A military government took control of the country when he was a teenager & confiscated everything. Jaime & his parents had to flee the country with virtually nothing. They ended up in New York living with relatives, where his dad died of a heart attack (at a very young age). Now Mowgli, I mean Jaime, didn't speak any English, just Spanish & German. He taught himself the language (except for proper slang & expressions apparently) by watching the news on TV. After finishing high school he worked his way through college..... & the rest is too long to write about here.

So he emailed me yesterday (& recounted some of his real life story) & I'm gonna paste most of it below, picking up with his reply to my question "how long's this artsy stuff's been goin' on Mogli?". You will note HIS reference to banana leaves.

Since before last year Holidays I decided to try painting to see what I could do. I am truly just an amateur having fun...I am honored that some people seem to like what I do.

All I know is that it is a lot harder "to move forward if you have one eye looking back..."(kinda funny mental picture, eh?) I also, know that your health and spirit are the most important things on this family once had a very "high standard of living" and it got taken away by the military government,so we had to start over with just a "banana leaf for cover" and learn a new language and a new culture here in the US. If I can do it anyone grandpa used to say "adelante y rabo tieso" literal translation: "forward with a stiff butt"(i.e. more appropriate "grin and bear it").

Life is Good, my brother.


The guy just has a great outlook on life. By the way, after transferring to NC .... his projects were all put on hold - so he's been job hunting since November. Hopefully things will turn around soon & maybe we can team up again.