In this article, Happy Oasis shares her life story and explains just how she got the name Happy Heavenly Oasis. Happy Oasis is a raw food inspiration, an author and the "Chief Visionary Officer" of the Raw Spirit Festival.
Kevin: Well, Happy I want to welcome you to this program. I'm excited to have you here.
Happy: I'm so guided to be here. Thank You! [Laughter]
Kevin: Let's start off with telling people a little bit about just who you are. Tell me who you are so we can get an idea of what your whole story is.
Happy: Well, my name is Happy Heavenly Oasis. That started many, many years ago. When I was living with tribal people in third world countries and as these tribal families who had adopted me were having different challenges with the societies that were living under, I decided that I would like to find out who is my real tribe. Because these tribes were being victims of genocide. So I decided to return to America. I thought who would be the people who would not be victims of war? Who would be not victims of the Coca Cola and Marlboro campaigns, who knows what television is about the pros and cons? I thought those would be the people who would be very clean inside so that they would have clarity of the mind.
Kevin: Happy Heavenly Oasis, you've got to tell me where that came from. I mean was it a given name. I want to know. [Laughs]
Happy: Well there's two parts of the name. The second part of the name is kind of funny. About 15 years ago, I was in the little town of Prescott, Arizona and I decided to have my name changed. I went in and the judge said to me, "Happy Oasis?" It was just the judge, his scribe, and myself in this little white room. He said, "Happy Oasis? Are you some kind of hippy kid on drugs?" I was surprised. I said "No, your honor, I do not even drink alcohol. And he blushed and he kind of mumbled and said, "Oops." And so then he returned the papers to me after the comment and he said, "I will not change your name. You need a middle name." I said, "Your honor, Cher does not even have a last name." He said, "This is not Hollywood, California this is Prescott, Arizona and I happened to be the presiding judge and I say you need a middle name." So he handed the paperwork back to me, but I did not take it. I stand there breathing, looking for some assistance. I looked up and along the white wall there was a little box and through that box at the top of the wall is the blue Arizona sky. And seeing that I said, "Heavenly your honor." Heavenly is my middle name. " He kind of grumbles and then he filled out the paperwork and that's my legal name.
Then I directly went down to the DMV, the Department of Motor Vehicles, with my new name to get a new driving license and I gave my new signature, which was a smiley face, and a ruckus broke out because they said, "We can 't have a smiley face as a legal signature. " But then the other half of the management said, "Yes we can have." So they contacted other states. They contacted Washington. This smiley face became hours of waiting for the final exit and they decided that we were the only state, Arizona, and I am the only American, that has a smiley face as my legal signature. No circle, just a smiley.
So the name Happy Oasis was started in a little bit less privileged arena and that was I was a teenager and I was in Bangladesh and I had been traveling through Asia for some time, by myself and I was self-funded. I was almost 19 or something like that, and I had just arrived in Bangladesh and it was in the height of monsoon season and there were dozens of Bengalis, Muslim men, on the bus with me. I was the only foreigner and the only blonde woman, of course. And because of that I decided to definitely wear a Burkha, or a head covering, over my head in a traditional Muslim fashion. As we proceeded into the countryside it was pouring down rain and apparently it had been for a very long time and a dam broke. It spilled water over our road so the bus stopped and where we were made an island by default. So thousands of villagers, at least hundreds, but potentially thousands, I could not quite see the end of this island, gathered together on this low remnant of an island filled with puddles in the pouring rain. And through the silver rain I could see these people coming and I could also see that on ground there were people already resting in the mud puddles. Then I realized that the people who were resting in the mud puddles were actually dead. So I thought, what can be done? So immediately I thought, I'll cash some of my Traveler's Checks, I did have a couple of thousand of dollars of Traveler's Checks, back in late 80s, and then I looked through the rain and I realized that there was no bank. Then I realized that it really was not much more than a hamlet. It was a very small village and so I thought, I'll buy everyone a meal, as much as I can with the 200 dollars or so of cash that I had in their currency, until I realized there was no food in any shop.
So at that point a leper came up on the bus, a very skinny man, an elder, he was probably the ripe old age of 35, and he came hobbling up on the bus. He was starving to death, very skinny. His femur was about as thick as my wrist. And he hobbled to the back of the bus were I was and he reached out to touch my hair, I had a long blonde hair and a strand of that hair had somehow wiggled through the burkha, and so he touched my hair and I realized that he did not have any fingers. There are two kind of leprosy, one of the nose and one of the fingers, and he had the kind of fingers. Then he turned around, but before he did looked into my eyes and I have never seen anything like it before. He already had … his soul had passed over. The look on the eyes was of like death or eternal life, however you would say. Well he turned around and he hobbled off the bus and he laid down in the puddle and he died, right next to the bus. So short thereafter I was getting the feeling that the Red Cross is not going to come, it's too cloudy, nobody could land, Amnesty International … I've always been an activist, since I was a kid. They are probably not going to be there, and so I was wondering what to do. I was feeling so sad that I was feeling angry. Have you ever had the feeling like congealed sorrow equals anger?
I was just like fuming when this other man started walking towards me, from near the bus, he was also really skinny, he was obviously an elder, he was also starving to death. But he had a big smile on his face. He was also dressed in a dodi, which is a little loin cloth or a little rag, for clothing, and pouring rain, and he is beaming with this big smile. I thought, this is so inappropriate. So I said to him, "How can you smile in this circumstance?" I said it in English, forgetting where I was. And he said back in Queens, Bengali English, "Madam," the first time somebody had ever called me madam, because I was pretty young, he said, "Smiling is all have to give. Come with me." So I went with him and he taught me how to sing to people. So we sang to all these people, a lot of them children and teenagers, as they were dying. So in a place where money could not do any good because they did not have any, there was not any food to go buy even if we had some, instead of these children going into the next life, transferring this life with a grimace on their face and with lots of fear, a lot of them had a little smile on their face when they died. We soothed them with singing and with smiling and kind of caressing their forehead, touching their knee, that kind of thing, which was a little bit of a taboo in Bangladesh, but we went ahead and did it anyway in the pouring rain. It seemed to make a real difference, a big difference. And so in the middle of this I was thinking every once in a while while it occurred to me what was happening and I thought, I do not know whether I'm going to survive the situation. I had no idea how long I was going to be there. So I made this vow that if I can survive this dangerous situation, and there were compounded dangers because I was a young, blonde woman alone in this county, I will be like this man. I would love to be like this man who became my instant hero. He was singing songs to Allah and I was singing summer camp songs …
Happy: … because I had just been a summer camp counselor in Michigan just months before that. So So we were singing, it did not really matter what the words were, it was the tone, the cheerfulness in our voice, that was matching each other. We were actually singing very harmonic together. And so he became my hero and I decided that if I survive this situation, I vow, and I would love to be a happy oasis to the world.
Kevin: Wow. That is an incredible story.
Happy: It was just the beginning.