Marco Polo in his 13th-century travelogue, “Il Milione“, commented about Arrack, the wonderful spirit, documenting it as a legendary beverage forever, and the predecessor to nearly every new world spirit.
Variations abound, but the purest, single-ingredient spirit remains exclusively handcrafted in the island nation of Sri Lanka, where the country’s oldest and most prestigious distilleries distill Premium, Old and Very Special Old Arrack (VSOA).
700 years of knowledge handed down from generations of master artisans, makes VSOA a spirit unique to the island. Premiere blends of handcrafted refined single and double-distilled spirits stored in Halmilla wood barrels are allowed to mellow for 2 years.
Have you tried DCSL VSOA, WHITE LION VSOA, Mendis Special, or IDL OLD ARRACK? If not, I would say you do not have any knowledge or respect for old age!
Every year, the married Hindu women in the southern states of India undertake the Varalakshmi Vratam. It is a pooja (a prayer ritual) to honour and worship goddess Varalakshmi, the granter of boons (Varam). Varalakshmi Vratam falls on the Second Friday or the Friday before Poornima (full moon day) in the month of Śravaṇā, also called Śawan in Hindi and Aadi in Tamil, corresponding to the Gregorian months of July–August.
Last Friday, my wife on invitation attended the Varalakshmi Vratam celebration at three houses of our Hindu neighbours.
This brings to my mind an apocryphal yarn about Chanakya and his advice to Chitragupta, the Hindu god who keeps complete records of actions of all human beings on earth and decides whether to send them to heaven or to hell after their mortal death.
Chanakya, traditionally identified as Kauṭilya or Vishnu Gupta was a teacher, philosopher, economist, jurist and royal advisor to Chandragupta, the first Mauryan emperor. He authored the Arthashastra, the ancient Indian political treatise.
In Hinduism, the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction cum transformation are personified as a triad of deities, namely Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva respectively.
Chitragupta and goddess Varalakshmi noticed that every woman in the course of the Vratam prayed to the goddess to grant her the boon of getting married to her present husband in the next seven incarnations.
Chitragupta also heard the men pray for a new wife in each and every future incarnation!
Chitragupta and goddess Varalakshmi were perturbed.
So, they approached the four-faced Brahma, the creator deity, for advice.
Brahma: “The wish of these women are laudable! So, what is the problem? “
Chitragupta: “Lord, every woman wants her present husband to be reborn and marry only her in her next seven incarnations, but all men want a new wife in each and every future incarnation!”
Brahma: “Yes. It is a real dilemma indeed!”
Chitragupta: “Lord, what are we to do?”
Brahma thought for a while and said: “Go to Earth and seek the advice of Chanakya, the wise man.”
Chitragupta and goddess Varalakshmi appeared before Chanakya. After relating the problem they asked the scholar for a solution.
Chanakya smiled at them and said: “This is not a problem at all. Tell those silly women that if they want their present husband to be theirs for the next seven incarnations then they will have to accept their current mother-in-law too to be theirs for the next seven incarnations!”
“As his mother, it was very meaningful to me that people who didn’t know us stepped forward to be in Bopsy’s life.” – Octaviana Trujillo, Mother of Frank “Bopsy” Salazar
Note: This story is in circulation through emails since February 2001. In most of the versions the boy is fictitiously named “Billy” instead of using his real name – Frank “Bopsy” Salazar. This story is relatively true.
Octaviana Trujillo, 26, sadly stared down at her 7-year-old dying son. Like all mothers, Octaviana too wanted her son to grow up and fulfil all his dreams. But leukaemia would not allow him to live long enough.
In 1981, in Phoenix, Arizona, doctors diagnosed Frank “Bopsy” Salazar as having terminal leukaemia.
Octaviana clasped her son’s hand and asked, “Bopsy, did you ever think about what you wanted to be once you grew up? Did you ever dream and wish what you would do with your life?”
Bopsy replied, “Mommy, I want to be a firefighter; I want to go up in a balloon; I want to go to Disneyland. “
She smiled back and said, “Let’s see if we can make your wish come true.”
Later that day, she went to her local fire Department in Phoenix. She explained her son’s last wish and asked if it might be possible to give her little son a ride around the block on a fire engine.
The Chief said, “Madam, we can do better than that. We’ll make him an honorary Fireman for the day. He can come down to the fire station, eat with us, go out on all the fire calls, the whole nine yards!”
The Chief’s reply enthralled Octaviana.
The Fire Chief decided that the Phoenix Fire Department should make sure the dying boy had an experience truly befitting a fireman.
“And if you’ll give us his sizes, we’ll get a real fire uniform for him,” the Chief added.
The first wish-granting team started with the Phoenix Fire Department.
A full uniform, complete with a yellow coat and a helmet, was custom-made for him.
A few days later the Fire Chief picked up Bopsy, dressed him in his uniform, and escorted him from the hospital to the waiting hook and ladder truck.
The 7-year-old got into the truck. He was in heaven. Bopsy scrambled around the back of Engine 9’s ladder truck, turned on the horn.
The boy went out with the firefighters. He rode in different fire engines, the Paramedic’s van, and even the fire chief’s car; and he doused a few cars with water from a 75-pound hose.
At the end of the day, the Phoenix Fire Department made Bopsy the first honorary fireman in Phoenix history and pinned him an official firefighter’s badge.
There was more to come. Media coverage of Bopsy’s first wish made others want to help, and more offers came in from people eager to lift the little boy’s spirits.
Hot-air balloon pilots and owners Chris and Bob Pearce took Bopsy on an unforgettable ride in their balloon that gave him a bird’s-eye view of Phoenix.
Next, the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim created a special day complete with private tours, meals, gifts and more just for Bopsy. In Anaheim, they treated him with every courtesy a visiting fireman could wish for from his Southern California colleagues. They chauffeured him to and from the Los Angeles airport in a fire truck, and two of his fellow firefighters from the Anaheim Fire Department escorted him around the park.
Having his dream come true, with all the love and attention that was lavished upon him, Bopsy lived three months longer than the doctors thought possible.
One night, after Bopsy returned to the hospital after his trip to Disneyland, he became critically ill. The head nurse, who believed in the hospice concept – that no one should die alone, began to call the family members to the hospital.
Remembering the day Bopsy had spent as a Fireman, she called the Fire Chief and asked if it would be possible to send a fireman in uniform to the hospital to be with Bopsy as he made his transition.
The Chief replied, “We can do better than that. We’ll be there in five minutes. Will you please do us a favor?”
The nurse said, “Sure. What do you want me to do?”
The Chief said, “Please keep the window to his room open.”
Five minutes later a hook and ladder truck arrived at the hospital and extended its ladder up to Bopsy’s third-floor open window. Five of his fellow Phoenix firefighters climbed through using the ladder. Bopsy shared a few laughs with his friends.
Before going back to sleep Bopsy looked up at the Fire Chief and asked, “Chief, am I really a fireman now?”
“Yes. You are,” the Chief said.
Later that evening, Bopsy passed away peacefully with his fondest wishes come true.