Someone gave me an interesting food for thought. He said: “Creative ideas come in bed, bath and bus”, i.e. when you are about to sleep, when you are leisurely taking a bath, or when you are travelling. I do find it true to a great extent.
Give it a thought. On my part I ensure that I have a pen/paper or my electronic notepad handy when I am travelling or about to sleep. I don’t take them into the bath, but often I am desperate to come out and jot down the inspirational thought that occurs to be in the bathroom.
When the mind is free and is allowed to roam without restrictions that is when the best of thoughts and ideas come to us.
There was a time when children used to just run out of houses in the summer vacation, explore all the nooks and corners of the locality or village, create their own games and entertainment. Many went off to their “native place” to enjoy the hospitality of grandparents and the wide open spaces of nature.
We have come a long way from that era. Children no longer have the freedom to roam around freely and run back home only when they are hungry, or find their own friends to play with. Summer holidays have generally become regimented, and this year the Corona virus and lock-down has put severe restriction on the activities that children can take up.
Though it is sad to see the kids confined at home, this period can be used for unwinding, recharging batteries, chilling out, looking at a broader perspective life beyond academics, and automatically learning life skills. We live in nuclear families and even play areas have disappeared or reduced. Tests and exams are getting postponed resulting in stressful days expanding indefinitely and families are being forced to spend 24/7 together in four walls of small houses. Obviously relationships are under strain and there is a great need for children to be given an opportunity to bring out their mental, physical and emotional energy. Let’s see how it can be done.
It will be very nice if parents and concerned adults could explore as many of the following activities as possible, and give rewards or brownie points when they implement them:
Put them in a safe place like terrace, enclosed garden space or a spare room without any electronic gadgets and ask them to take up any and every unstructured physical or intellectual activities. Ensure they spend at least some time in sunlight as it increases their Vitamin D levels. If possible pull them out of bed at sunrise and make them do surya-namaskar.
Children, particularly boys may be asked to spend some time helping in the kitchen, and every aspect of kitchen activity should be correlated to all the subjects that they are studying.
Discuss the family tree, traditions, ‘native place’ and what life was just one generation back. Have an open discussion on both positive and negative aspects of earlier lifestyle.
Children of different ages if available may be grouped together and encouraged to play, since most of the time children stick to their own age kids. They can learn so much from the elder and younger ones. Let the elders ‘teach’ some subjects to the little ones. Also, ask the child to teach a parent some subject the parent is not very familiar with.
Encourage children to discover objects of nature around their houses e.g. types of trees or flowers, different animals (right down to the little squirrels), birds – even cloud formations! Doing gardening, even in a few pots in the balcony, teaches them delayed gratification and the wonders of nature.
Collect all possible unwanted things and scrap from the house and give them a garage or shed to play with them, create something unusual, find out how things work. Let them have the joy of taking apart some mechanical objects without the anxiety of putting them back again.
Talk to the child about the work that Dad or Mom do, what they like and dislike about their work, their stresses and challenges. Ask the child also to freely list out what he/she likes and dislikes about each parent, and discuss it frankly.
Make each child list down what he or she would do if made the Prime Minister of the country, how to handle crisis, how to improve education etc. These can be circulated to other children and a group discussion can be initiated through a webinar.
And most important …… teach children stress relieving techniques such as yoga, meditation, music, punching a bag, jogging on one spot, creative work, whatever suits the individual child.
It may not be evident immediately but the above activities also make children connect their studies to real life, hence increasing their motivation and desire to learn. For those children whose exams are postponed but not cancelled, let us work out a simple time table for them to periodically revise and review what they have studied, and spend the rest of the time as mentioned above.
- Dr. Ali Khwaja
Management of Change is the buzzword in B-schools and Corporate Boardrooms. We are told that it is not enough to adapt to change, we should also anticipate what change is likely to come. We need to apply it universally to every aspect of our life.
The lock-down in the past months should be a clear warning to us that change will not give us any prior intimation of its coming. So let us learn a lesson from it.
I have been a strong believer in learning from nature. The change of seasons can be anticipated well in advance, but we still find ourselves complaining, fretting and fuming – whether it is the heat of summer, the flooding in the monsoons or the biting cold of winter.
If we learn to enjoy adapt to and enjoy every type of weather, we can probably handle many challenges of life, the workplace and our relationships.
Does it sound too idealistic? – Dr. Ali Khwaja
The lock-down, social media reports and news from all over is making
scared, anxious, and judgmental about others. This is not a good sign. Yes, many people may be
doing things they should not do. But they are not evil or illegal. This is the time to contribute
“Sarve bhavantu sukhinah, sarve santu niramayah” i.e. “May all be prosperous and happy, May all be free from illness.”
As the late President of USA Mr. John Kennedy has said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” It is not our fault if we are suspicious. We are actually “taught” to be judgmental from our childhood. Without realizing its consequences our elders have instilled a fear and suspicion about those who are different from us, hence it becomes so easy for us to put the blame on “them.” We need to unlearn it and consciously remind ourselves to be non-judgmental. If you wish to have evidence, look out of your window and see the crows, eagles, squirrels and stray dogs happily floating around oblivious of any lock-down. They have understood what one-ness with the universe means. Only when we learn to accept and love every living being on earth we can hope to lead a relaxed and happy life, content that the world is full of nice people, and that together we can overcome any pandemic. Start the process now! - Dr. Ali Khwaja
It is obvious that children and elders locked up at home will gravitate towards their mobiles, laptops and TV, let us do some work to understand. Twenty first century child is a digital-native, born and brought up in the digital world. Added to that the child watches his parents constantly glued to mobiles, tablets, laptops etc. and even when they are small, children are given access to many electronic gadgets.
Electronic gadgets teach a lot to children, but they also take the child away from certain realities of life, relationships, life-skills, nature and emotional development. Hence it is important to create a proper balance of all activities that a child does, and ensure that wider exposure ensures proper development of life skills.
Addiction: over 40% of smartphone users suffer from nomophobia (no mobile phobia). They develop anxiety if they cannot connect instantly to friends and others. Ironically those who get addicted to technology suffer from loneliness. Loneliness in USA is reported to have gone up from 20 to 47 percent of the population from 1980’s to 2020, and is growing fast. The smartphone gives a person an illusion of power, having everything at the finger-tip, which is not true. In fact an addict loses control over his basic life skills.
Curiosity: is inherent in every child. And technology is definitely fascinating, offering extensive variety and quick changes and development. Do not suppress the curiosity of the child. Sit with him and do exploration together, answer his questions, make him look for answers.
Freedom: Never give freedom to a child to get into activities that you may have to curb later. Go very slow, even if he throws tantrums, evaluate at every stage how he is using the freedom, and keep giving him incremental facilities. Let electronic gadgets not be lying around for the child to pick up whenever he wants.
Peer pressure: Kids learn peer pressure first from their parents who are trying to compete with their relatives, friends and colleagues. If the child wants something because “all my friends have ….,” make it very clear that you will give only if you think it is good for him, not because his friends are doing it. Periodically make the child aware of positive and negative peer pressure.
Self-esteem: Build self-esteem of your child. Only children with low self-esteem resort to artificial means of boosting themselves up, making wrong friends, showing off their gadgets.
Social skills: while every child needs to develop all five parameters of Emotional Intelligence, sharpening social skills is very important to prevent a child escaping into the fantasy world of gadgetry. Children should be made to interact with people of all ages and background, tackle conflict and difficult people, and thus develop confidence.
Boredom: Digital natives get bored very easily. Their mind and body needs constant stimulation. It is the responsibility of the elders to provide them with indoor and outdoor activities that make them active, involved and enjoyable. Bored children tend to spend more time on Apps.
Loneliness: Most children appease their curiosity about technology, periodically dabble in it, enjoy using gadgets, and at the same time move on to other activities. The ones who get addicted are those who have low self-esteem, poor social skills and who feel lonely or unloved. It is not enough that their parents love them, they should also feel that their parents love them.
Policing and punishment are rarely effective in preventing a child from getting addicted to technology. More effective steps are:-
Be aware of the interests, hobbies, socializing and leisure activities of your child
Encourage child to talk on any topic, express innermost feelings & take your suggestions
Involve yourself in technology, explore together, but be firm on keeping limits
Have open discussions when issues like trolling, blue whale, pornography come up
Discuss why the child cannot make friends, play outdoor games or do other physical activities
Give alternative physical and intellectual activities that do not involve technology
Fix up in advance a ‘weekly off’ from the phone, if difficult start with 6 hour ‘fasting’.
Take the child out into nature and away from the city periodically
Be careful not to scold when you find him doing something unwanted. Talk calmly, firmly
If possible, involve a third person (teacher, uncle, counselor) to tackle addiction issues.
Smart people do not need to rely on smart phones! :)
I was invited to a school to give out awards to students on their Annual Day. One category among the prizes that really touched me was a “Silver Lining Award” given to a student in each class who has progressed most from one term to another. It may even be a student who is at the bottom of his class, but if he has gone from 20% to 40%, i.e. doubled his marks compared to others who only made marginal improvement he or she was given a citation to acknowledge and appreciate his progress.
Those who stand first in academics or extra-curricular activities inevitably keep getting awards. I sincerely hope and wish that we learn to appreciate, reward and encourage students who are struggling and progressing, rather than just those who are perpetual toppers. This will motivate all students to put in more efforts without comparing themselves with others.
Please spread the word to schools.
Every religion has strongly emphasized on the virtues of forgiveness. Here are a few examples:
Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs says: "Bure da bhala mana. Gussa man na vasa (Be grateful to the one who is bad to you since he is only an instrument. Don't allow anger to fester in your mind.)"
Jains begin their 10 pillars with "uttam kshama (forgiveness based on correct perception and correct knowledge)" and end with "kshama vani (asking of for-giveness from each other)"
The real spirit of the joyous festival of Holi is to forgive wrongs of others.
Muhammed, the Prophet of Islam used to pass by a house where the lady would throw rubbish and hurl abuses at him. It is recorded that one day he was going past and the lady did not come out. He stopped and went in to ask the lady whether she is not well on that particular day.
The essence of life of Jesus and his teachings is practice of forgiveness. “Forgive them O Lord for they know not what they say”, “Turn the other cheek” to the person who slaps you, are two of his universally known preaching.
What we do not realize is that forgiveness is for our benefit, and not a charitable act done to the persecutor. When we forgive another for anything that he or she may have done to us, we are really saying "I no longer give you the power to control who I am, how I think, and how I’ll behave in the future. I take responsibility for all of that now."
Forgiveness is an act of self-love rather than some altruistic saintly behavior. It gives us control over our inner life and thoughts. Mark Twain said it so beautifully when he wrote “For¬giveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it." Similarly a Chinese proverb says: "one who pursues revenge should dig two graves".
Just fortify yourself, take a deep breath, and forgive the person who hurt you. And then …… enjoy the fresh air! – Dr. Ali Khwaja
Many children do not perform well in their studies, and even become rebellious when forced to study. Among those who do not study properly, the most common issues (presuming there is no developmental disability) are:
Environmental factors: too many distractions, TV, social media, peer pressure, addictions, does not like the school atmosphere, feels subject is of no use, bullying
Inability to comprehend: Slow learners, dyslexia, fundamentals are weak since previous year, does not like teacher, sitting too far back in class, language difficulties
Home: Strict or too lenient parenting, parental expectations, comparison, competition, boredom and loss of motivation since he feels he already knows enough
Emotional/physical issues: Anxiety or stress, exam fear, mood swings and anger, past failures, bad relationships, sense of isolation and loneliness, self-esteem, poor eyesight, fatigue.
If the correct cause is not identified there is no point in pushing him or scolding him. He may not only not study, but also disturb others and create problems in class, become rebellious with parents, and get into bad company. Once the cause(s) is identified we can work out who can resolve each to what extent: parents, teachers, friends, counselors, special educators, doctors. With team effort most children can be encouraged to study well and achieve success.
When john F. Kennedy fell prey to an assassin’s bullet, the United States of America did not come to a halt. Neither did India, when Indira Gandhi was shot by her own bodyguards. History has recorded many great men who accomplished tremendous tasks for mankind and became immortalized by history. Neither the death of one great man, nor national tragedies like thousands being wiped out by earthquakes of floods, has brought life to a standstill.
Yet every achiever has grandiose illusions about his immortality. Every parent also believes that only he can give a proper upbringing to his child, and without him the child would not be able to face life. Yet some of the greatest people on earth have been orphans,
Nature often teaches us lessons which we ignore. Lush green fields are harvested, the summer sun parches the soil into brown cakes. But come monsoon, and fresh greenery sprouts as though from nowhere. The old order gives way to the new. So it is with humans. Every generation is but a medium of the next. On the passing away of the old, there may be a momentary pause, but the show goes on as before, with newer and sometimes better actors taking centre stage. Like all good actors, each human has to bow out when the curtain drops.
Watching the evening rush of the city. I sit back and wonder at the single-minded determination on each face that flashes by. Every person seems to know exactly where he or she is headed. The businessman in his air conditioned car awaits the green signal with impatience writ large on his face, while the sandal footed clerk gathers his umbrella and Tiffin box as he looks for a break in the traffic so that he can dash across.
Some are rushing home while others have appointments with friends in the melee, an old man stumbles and falls. The brisk walker and motorists skirt around him and rush off, with a cursory glance. A handicapped youngster hesitates as his crutches dodder over the high pavement. People give him space, so that he may not fall on them, and move on briskly. These people are the non-conformists. They disturb the efficient routine of the rush hour traffic and are irritants in the clockwork precision of corporate life.
And yet, I can feel the radiation of an uncanny glow, something supernatural which is not definable. Am I the only one who can see the aura around these humans? Is it my imagination, or do I feel that God is sitting right there with the sick, the old and the handicapped, and watching the zealous rush past him to their respective temples, churches and mosques?
KATHERINE C Kersey says in the book of Art of Sensitive Parenting, “Children are given to us-on loan-for a very short period of time. They come to us like a packet of flower seeds, with no pictures on the cover, and no guarantees. We don’t know what they will look like, be like, act like, or have the potential to become. Our job, like the gardener’s, is to meet their needs as best we can, to give proper nourishment, love, attention and caring and to hope for the best.”
Since a small baby comes into this world totally helpless and vulnerable, the parent has to take care of all his needs. But we do not carry the baby around when it is time for him to start walking, we do not feed him when he is old enough to eat by himself- the same way we need to understand that as a child grows, we need to let go of him emotionally, too. As parents, we need to understand that true love is in nurturing and allowing our child to grow wings and fly out.
Why parents do not allow growth>
Parents who do not willingly grow with their children and allow them to be mentally and emotionally independent, need to ask themselves if they are facing any of these situations:
Unresolved past about their own childhood, including resentment against their own parents.
Strong indoctrination that was instilled into them by their parents, and they are not willing to let go of it [particularly in matters that are not in conflict with ethics or morals].
A sense of insecurity that they may lose control over their children. This can happen if one parent is not happy with the other or is going through a bad career stage, making him or her try to redeem self-esteem by controlling the child.
Desire to prove to others that one is a good parent. It may be to impress in-laws, society, relatives or colleagues.
An inherent suspicious nature that makes the parent think that freedom will inevitably be misused by the child, assumptions that if the child is doing small wrong things he will go on to do bigger ones.
Taking out one’s frustrations and unfulfilled dreams on the child, and wanting to see one’s own glorification through the child achievement or behaviour.
The worst case is when one parent wants to cling on to a child only to get even with the other parent, to gain support in marital conflict or use the child as a pawn to get something from other adults in the family. If none of the above factors are present, a parent should actually take pride in seeing the child become more independent and able, not just physically, but mentally, too. But some parents do have genuine fears whether they are letting go too early and whether the child may stumble and fall. Firstly, such parents should remember that when their child first learnt how to walk, he did stumble and fall many times-yet, he was encouraged to walk. Secondly, a parent can use the following guidelines to ensure a smooth transition of the child towards adulthood:
There should be congruence between both parents about how much independence to allow at every stage. If grandparents or other adults are part of the family, their consensus should also be taken, or they should be requested not to give contradictory messages to the child.
Anticipate the needs and desires of the child before he begins to demand, for instance, when would he like to select his own clothes, when to start giving him money, when to buy him bike, when to allow him to stay overnight with friends etc. Many parents get taken aback when the child start making these demands because they were still in their own world thinking that the child is ‘too young’ for all that. *Be consistent in laying down rules. Never keep fluctuating on basic issues such as curfew hours, time on television, how much money to spend, selection of friends, use of telephone, etc. A privilege once given should not be taken away, unless he has purposely misused it [accidental or one-time misuse should be let off with a warning].
Let the child test the waters. Give him money once to do his own shopping, allow him to go out alone one day, and ask him to come back and narrate how things went. If he is not open about his movement or activities, warn him that he may not get that facility.
Communication is perhaps the most vital tool. Encourage and motivate your child to speak on any subject under the Sun. Tell him to share all his good and bad experiences. Assure him that you will not punish him if he comes and shares-and live up to that promise.
Punish immediately when he misuses any facility. The punishment should be crisp, impersonal, without hurting the self-esteem of the child and with prior warning. Similarly, reward him amply when he does not misuse any facility given to him.
Periodically, the whole family should sit down and discuss these issues openly, planning for the future, anticipating obstacles and if necessary, agreeing to disagree. Parents who allow their children to become independent progressively are doing them a great favour, because in tomorrow’s challenging environment, this will be the greatest factor in determining success and achievement.
Listening is an art which needs to be carefully cultivated. It is amazing that, despite the progress made in management education, no management school lays emphasis on listening as a tool for effective management.
In fact, if its significance is truly understood, Management by Listening [MBL] could become the next buzzword after MBO, Kaizen, TQM etc. How would you react if you were to be told that listening is a very difficult art?
Obviously, unless you were hard of hearing, you would ridicule the suggestion. Yet it is a fact that listening is a skill very few of us have inculcated, or even understood the significance of.
Let us take an example. Think of a situation when you are absorbed in your work, and a dear colleague comes over to you requesting your time for an important disclosure he has to make.
He starts off with his tragic tale of how his boss[or wife, or father] insulted him that day due to no fault of his, and that has made your friend so depressed that he is thinking of taking some drastic and fool hardly action.
More often than not, you would cut him short before he has finished, with either of these two responses:  “That reminds me of the horrible time I had when my boss [or wife, or father] had ridiculed me and I was so mad...” or  “Don’t worry, young chap, such things do happen, and you must learn to take it easy.” It is not the end of the world after all..” Will you reflect why you had responded as above ? Would you believe if you were told that it was because you were feeling thoroughly uncomfortable listening to your friend, and you felt that you must say something appropriate to ease the embarrassing conversation ?
You may not agree, but it is true. Most of us cannot wait to start talking when someone else is having his say.
Our mind starts wandering off to the right response, reaction, or even how to steer the conversation to something more suitable to us.
When someone is recounting something which is important to him, we are listening to his story, but the central character in our minds is neither the talker nor the subject he is talking about; it is WE ourselves.
With the talker’s voice droning somewhere below our conscious level, we are recounting similar incidents or similar emotions which we have been through.
Thus there is a dearth of people to listen when we really wish to speak. This is precisely the reason for the universal success of consulting psychologists, loving grannies, docile quiet housewives, and even practicing god men.
Yes, there are people who listen when our urge to talk is over-whelming. They do not but in with their own similar experiences; they do not underplay the importance and intensity of our emotions of the moment. They may understand nothing of the problem we are facing, but they do understand our feelings.
They have the time and inclination to listen without prejudice, not interrupting unnecessarily, offering no solutions, and extending their unconditional empathy. That is what listening is all about.
It may sound simple, but it takes a great deal of conscious effort to practice effectively. To be able to put aside our own problems, our anxieties of being late for the next appointment, to forget our very being for the time being, and to merge with the personality of the talker, is true listening.The increase in pace of jet-set lifestyles, the breakdown of the joint family system, the pressure of work, matrimony, commuting, inflation and competition, all lead to pent up emotions whose ideal outlet is ........ talking it over. And to be able to talk it over, there should be a listener. And for the very reasons cited above, there are very few listeners available around us. The listener has to do so without forming opinions and prejudices about either the talker, or the people he is referring to. He must show the talker that he is interested and ask open ended questions which help when the talker pauses uncomfortably.
Management gurus are increasingly making us aware that the most valuable investment of any organization is its manpower. A satisfied and motivated work force can achieve results which the best technology or most sophisticated equipment cannot. And for men to be motivated, one precondition is that they should have the feeling that someone listens to and understands their problems. There are many managers who complain that their subordinates do not communicate properly, or understand work given to them. It will be worthwhile if instead of reeling off orders, managers allow subordinates to first talk freely. The same is case when explanations are sought.
A typical scenario is that of the boss shouting out his dissatisfaction, asking the subordinate why he performed badly, and continuing the tirade after the subordinate has, at best, uttered “but sir......” People concerned with marketing or negotiating important deals are trained in the art of communication. They are expected to be very effective when they talk, and are evaluated on their convincing power. Not many realize that any customer can be convinced, or bargained with, only up to a limit which he has set for himself. The skill of the negotiator lies, not in repeatedly badgering the customer, but in understanding where this limit lies. This can be done only by listening to the customer more than talking to him.
Listening in important deals, should be done more with the eyes than with the ears. This is because 55% of the intake in communication is visual – the body language, postures, gestures etc. In fact, another 37% of communication is by the tone [“how he said it”] and the circumstances. Thus only 8% of communication is based on the text of what has been said.
Let us take an example: If a customer were to tell a persistent sales person “I will consider your offer,” the hopes which the latter will have of striking a deal will depend on when, how, in what tone, after which sentence, with what posture, and in what mood, the customer said the words.
Listening is an art which needs to be carefully cultivated.
When Japanese delegations go for important business deals, they are said to have one member who does not speak at all – his only job is to listen [with his eyes as well as ears] and to report at the end of the day to the other team members those subtle points which they may have missed in their enthusiasm to talk and convince.
We have traditionally had a culture of meditation, silence and patience. If we inculcate these into our working life, we will find ourselves becoming much more effective managers.
The next time someone comes over to you to pour out his or her problems, take a deep breath, purge your mind of all other thoughts, and sincerely turn to the talker and listen. Listen hard and with unbiased empathy. Listen without interrupting except where absolutely necessary, and listen until the talker is exhausted with the outpouring.
You will not only have helped a person tide over a deep depression or a seemingly insurmountable problem, you would have also won a grateful friend for yourself, increased your own knowledge, and learnt how to tackle people better, resulting in better work efficiency.
Love is blind, they say. Tell that to unmarried people, they will retort, “Rubbish”. On the contrary, tell that to married people, they will exclaim, “How true”.
What makes a marriage tick? Banjara academy set out to find answers to this age-old question, and came up with wide range of findings. For young men and women, falling in love was most important. Educational qualifications, similar upbringing, hobbies and interest, looks, caste and financial status all came later. Horoscope was no priority.
The results of the survey were released at a workshop “Selecting a Spouse”. Participants narrated their experiences and the refrain was that it is the relationship and not the person that matters the most.
Asif, a young doctor, who is engaged, says everything starts and ends with love. “Love marriage” which is arranged is ideal as we should always have the family backing. I believe it is always marriage between two families rather than two individuals.
Karan, an architecture student, feels arranged or love, marriage is a gamble. “Marriage, for me is an empty room. You put two people together and see how they build it up. Some may build a harmonious marriage, while in some case one of the spouses may walk out or sometimes both the spouses may walk out.”
But Malavika, a student, disagrees. “Marriage is not a gamble. You can’t pick up a man by throwing a dice. For me the ideal spouse should be down to earth, respect each other and sharing and caring”.
“Falling in love should not be kept as priority because then it will have to do more with looks, the way one presents and often we tend to look at only the positive side. It’s only after marriage that we see the negative trait in the person, says chairman of Banjara academyDr. Ali Khwaja.
“This shows that youngsters are giving importance to the concept of ‘love first and marriage later’ with the presumption that this would ensure a smooth and happy wedded life,” says a counselor.
Says Dr. Ali Khwaja, “For married people, the most important factors that make a good marriage are intellectual compatibility, similarity of upbringing, education, caste, financial status, similarity in careers and then comes falling in love and horoscope matching”.
Vasu and Saraswati, who have been married for 43 years, agree, “We can’t demand respect, it has to be earned. Two individuals should have emotional maturity and should understand each other’s weakness and help each other overcome it.”
TIE THAT BINDS
The four pillars of happy marriage are good communication, respect, trust and commitment.
While unmarried youth stress the importance of love, married people emphasize the need for compatibility.
Married couples say nuclear family is more conducive to happy married life.
Learn to love and not look for the right person to love.
Kumar, the watchman of the building next to Banjara since almost twenty years, sits on his broken down chair looking blankly into empty space, sometimes listening to music on his old battered mobile, at times reading a tattered newspaper. At lunchtime he pulls out his tiffin and has a leisurely meal by himself, gets up to wash and drink water – and he is back to his musings.
His routine has not changed a bit due to the shut-down. The only change is that periodically he used to get up to open the gate for a vehicle to go in and out, and now he doesn’t have to do that. The tea-man who used to stop by during his rounds is not to be seen, most domestic servants who would chat with him when they went in and out are missing. One thing is that he seems relaxed, contented, and quite at peace with himself. There are such unsung heroes also around us.
This Ugadi must have been a unique festival to us. The rush for last minute shopping, buying new clothes, visiting temples, entertaining guests, going out to the Malls or cinema were all missing. I wonder if that gave us an opportunity to introspect instead of just celebrating.
Ugadi is New Year to most of us, and it is supposed to teach us that life doesn't mean only happiness (sweetness) but that every facet (taste of life’s experiences) is important including bitterness of the unhappy moments of life and the sweetness of the happy moments. What are we experiencing now with the threat of Corona hanging over our heads, the anxiety of financial losses, the uneasiness of having to sit at home doing nothing? But these are nature’s ways of telling human beings not to become so proud of their achievements and forget that there is something much more powerful than them that controls them.
I hear so many of my friends who lament that though they love books and used to be prolific readers earlier, now they “just do not get the time to read.” Well, Corona has offered you three uninterrupted weeks to read, read, read. If you have only stocked up provisions and not books in your house, then you are very short-sighted. If you are only reading short forwards and watching one-minute videos on your mobile, then you are missing out the deeper aspects of life – on this one occasion when you can just delve into the world of literature, adventure, human behavior, biographies, poetry or just plain humor.
Similarly, if you have not had time recently to connect at leisure with your family members, neighbors or long lost friends, do not give up this opportunity to pick up the phone and have a long chat, find out what they have been doing and what they intend to do. These interactions will build long term bonds and will leave you with wonderful memories.
Memories are so precious. They cannot be stolen or taxed, and they are our treasures forever. While some of us lament that we are getting older, in reality we are getting richer – with so many events and experiences to recall. The happy ones that we use to boost our todays, the sad ones that make us cherish better times, the painful ones that become lessons of life. In these days of forced confinement, try to pull out one each from these three categories and go back into the world of nostalgia and see how much they have enriched you…..if you are willing to learn from each of them.
Also try to recollect some memorable events of your days in Banjara with your team mates. Beyond the lectures or the notes, there would have definitely been some experiences, learning and enlightenment that you carry with you. Pull it out from the recess of your mind, dust it, and perhaps share it with someone you love.
It will enrich you during these days of Corona anxiety.
While most of us do understand the significance and importance of communication, let us also reflect on “Purpose of Communication”. Whenever you start a communication, whether with an individual or with a group, be clear on what you wish to achieve.
I am a strong believer that communication and the way you relate to people, is the most important single factor that determines your success as a life skills trainer. Be clear about the purpose of your communication at that moment with that particular audience. Are you communicating:
To inspire and provoke thinking
To defend yourself
To build better relationship
To pass time fruitfully
Often you will need to switch from one context to the other. Keep your awareness clear and you will be very effective. Similarly be aware of your ‘Para-language’ i.e. volume, rate of speaking, tone, pitch and inflection. See how emphasis on one word can change the meaning of your communication - You want me to go?
You want me to go?
You want me to go?
You want me to go?
You want me to go?
Some of the basic reasons why a child throws tantrums (becoming adamant, crying loudly, refusing to be logical, known in Kannada as “hatta”) are:
Seeking attention (particularly from parents, teacher, or adults)
Feeling tired and restless or uncomfortable
Physical factors like hunger, sleepiness
It is the child’s way of expressing anger and frustration. Kids don't have inhibitions or control like adults, and they do not know the right words to explain what they want, hence they resort to tantrums. If the behavior is dealt incorrectly, the child may learn to use tantrums to manipulate people and to gain attention. In dealing with tantrums, the ultimate goal is to teach the child acceptable ways of expressing anger (or emotions).
Children want a sense of independence and control over the environment — more than they may be capable of handling. This creates the perfect condition for power struggles as a child thinks "I can do it myself" or "I want it, give it to me." When kids discover that they can't do it and can't have everything they want, they resort to a tantrum. If the tantrum succeeds in eventually getting the child what he wants, then it becomes a habit.
When a child is throwing a tantrum:
Don't punish, shout at, or hit the child at that time.
Don't reward the child or give in to his demands till he calms down.
Stay calm and ignore the behavior to the extent possible. Do not get agitated.
Keep the child safe from physical harm, but otherwise leave him free.
Isolate the child if possible. Walk away and ignore him.
Don't worry that others are seeing and may look down upon you.
Try not to discipline your child in public. Be firm and consistent. Plan in advance how you will deal when the next tantrum comes.
At Home: When the child throws a tantrum at home, calmly carry or gently push the child to a place where the child can be left safely by himself/herself (within your vicinity) then leave the room, and don't go back until he/she calms down. When the child is calm, have a talk with him/her about his/her behavior. If you don't feel safe leaving the child alone, stay with her, but don't respond to the tantrum in any way. Don't even make eye contact.
In Public: If the child throws a tantrum in public, carry or lead him out of the public area if possible, and take him to a place where you can have some privacy, be with the child, and wait calmly without reacting to the tantrum. When the tantrum subsides, talk to the child about his behavior, and then return to your activities. Remember that you may be embarrassed but be assured that if you ignore the tantrum will not last very long.
Sometimes it won't be possible for you to escape from the public place easily. Under such circumstances, just grit your teeth and hang on. Ignore the screaming child. Ignore the glares and snide remarks of the people around you. Keep your cool. (Anyway, a screaming child in a check-out line speeds it up, so your child is actually doing everyone a favor.) Once you are able to make your escape, talk to the child about his behavior firmly but gently.
Distract your child. Take advantage of your little one's short attention span by offering a choice or a replacement for the coveted object or beginning a new activity to replace the frustrating or forbidden one. Or simply change the environment. Take your child outside or inside or move to a different room. This will give you temporary relief.
Know your child's limits. If you know your child is tired, it's not the best time to go grocery shopping or try to squeeze in one more errand. Avoid giving him instructions that may lead to his throwing a tantrum.
Give him personal attention, spend more time with him, whenever he is doing something nice and peaceful. Give him simple activities where he can succeed and feel proud, and you can praise him for it.
Make sure your child isn't acting up simply because he or she isn't getting enough attention from you. To a child, negative attention (a parent's response to a tantrum) is better than no attention at all. Try to establish a habit of catching your child being good ("time in"), which means rewarding your little one with attention for positive behavior. Whenever the child does NOT throw tantrums, reward him particularly with non-material things like a hug, praise in front of others, taking him out for a drive or park, playing games with him etc. This will reinforce positive behavior in him.
Try to give your child some control over little things. This may fulfill the need for independence and ward off tantrums. Offer minor choices such as "Do you want orange juice or apple juice?" or "Do you want to brush your teeth before or after taking a bath?" Teach him to express his wants and needs calmly and to verbalize his emotions, e.g. “Are you feeling very angry?” The aim of the parent should be to channel the emotions and desires of the child to more constructive outlets.
It is so important for us to get exclusive attention, affection and love which is not being shared with anyone else. Obviously our loved ones feel the same way. I am a strong believer that it is more joyful to love than to be loved. And love has to be expressed in a way that the receiver appreciates and cherishes.
While we definitely love our near and dear, do we make them feel special? Do we connect individually and exclusively with them, instead of sending them ‘Forwards’ and interacting with them through WhatsApp groups? I may sound old fashioned, but an unexpected phone call just to say “I was thinking of you”, a handwritten note expressing affection, a small gift handed over without occasion, a genuine admiration or appreciation of the person’s qualities or even looks – these build long term close relationships.
Let’s ensure we do it, regularly.
On a full moon night if you go away from the city to a place where nature is in abundance, and wait patiently after sunset, you will see an orange glow in the east, which slowly expands into a bright silver-blue moon rising majestically above the horizon. If there aren’t too many lights around, you can get dazzled by the way the moonlight brightens up every object as far as the eye can see.
No artificial lighting can give you the illumination that moonlight does, and it is all pervading across the landscape. If you walk around in this enchanting ambience, you can observe so many objects around you very minutely – and see things that were not noticeable in the harsh daylight.
This pleasurable experience can be yours if you shake out of deadlines and remember when the moonlit nights come around – and if you take the time off from your ‘busy’ schedules to walk into the shimmering silver environment.
Unfortunately most discipline techniques are based on what NOT to do, and not on training the child WHAT to do.
If you find that your child is spending too much, or does not seem to know the value of money, try out all or some of the following tips:
The above exercises have to be done continuously over a period of time, and only then the affect starts showing. If parents relent mid-way or break the firm norms to make exceptions, the exercise becomes a failure. The child may at times throw tantrums, but it is imperative to understand that what is being done is for his own good.
Week after week the sun was beating down on us. Breeze was at a standstill, clouds playing truant. And the weekend passed off, hot and stuffy, with most of us preferring to remain indoors.
Monday dawned bright as ever. The day took on its harshness of the summer heat. But …. by afternoon it did not seem as hot as the other days. Before evening, those who ventured out could feel a pleasant breeze caressing their bodies. Looking up at the sky one could see stray cloud formations, and the sky acquiring a dull grey colour from the earlier bright blue.
There was even a slight promise of rain. A stray raindrop touched the skin now and then, the breeze was picking up rustling leaves and taking away the sweat. Those who had the sensitivity and will power to stop work and step out could experience a cool evening after many days. Those who had the time and inclination to lean back and admire the sky could see beautiful shades of grey and white intermingling with the golden hue of the setting sun. But most other city folks continued with their work, oblivious of what nature was offering them free of cost. Maybe some turned off their air-conditioners or reduced the fan speed – but kept busy with “important” work.
It almost rained, but it actually did not. Nature perhaps was teasing us, tempting us, and telling us that the best things in life are free – if you have the ability to enjoy them. The beautiful evening melted into a calm and cool night. The next day dawned on a softer hue, the sky was still in a naughty mood, playing with colours, dancing with the clouds. But when nature saw that humans are too busy to even step out, the heat started picking up. And it became another typical hot summer day. – Ali
Every day, a small ant arrives at work very early and starts work immediately. She produces a lot and is happy. The new Boss, a lion, is surprised to see that the ant is working without supervision. He thought if the ant can produce so much without supervision, wouldn’t she produce even more if she had a supervisor!
So he recruited a cockroach who had extensive experience as supervisor and who was famous for writing excellent reports.
The cockroach’s first decision was to set up a clocking in attendance system. He also needed a secretary to help him write and type his reports and … ... he recruited a spider, who managed the archives and monitored all phone calls. The lion was delighted with the cockroach's reports and asked him to produce graphs to describe production rates and to analyse trends, so that he could use them for presentations at Board meetings. So the cockroach had to buy a new computer and a laser printer and ... recruited a fly to manage the IT department.
The ant, who had once been so productive and relaxed, hated this new plethora of paperwork and meetings which used up most of her time…! The lion came to the conclusion that it was high time to nominate a person in charge of the department where the ant worked. The position was given to the lizard, whose first decision was to buy a carpet and an ergonomic chair for his office.
The new person in charge, the lizard, also needed a computer and a personal assistant, who he brought from his previous department, to help him prepare a Work and Budget Control Strategic Optimisation Plan … It was at that time that the lizard convinced the boss , the lion, of the absolute necessity to start a climatic study of the environment . Having reviewed the charges for running the ant’s department, the lion found out that the production was much less than before.
So he recruited the owl, a prestigious and renowned consultant to carry out an audit and suggest
The owl spent three months in the department and came up with an enormous report , in several
“The department is overstaffed ...”
Guess who the lion fires first?
The ant , of course, because she “showed lack of motivation and her efficiency was continuously
Please Note: The characters in this fable are fictitious; any resemblance to real people or facts within your office is pure coincidence…
On a cold January morning, step out of your house as soon as the sun is up, or maybe a little earlier if possible. Walk into the open and watch the sky brighten up slowly and lazily, watch the sun barely peeping out through the winter haze, experience the slanting rays of the sun as they hit your body, caress you through your clothes, and slowly warm up your whole being. As the sunlight battles and defeats the chill that was making you uncomfortable, savour the warm hug it gives you.
And remember …. remember the months you spent cursing the sun. The days you would have to go out on a summer afternoon, and would protest loudly about the heat. Recollect how you would want the sun to just disappear over the horizon and give you relief. And not having patience to wait for that to happen, how you ran back to the shelter of a concrete roof and sat under a fan or in an air-conditioned room.
Ask yourself … is the sun your enemy or your friend? Does it scorch you with its heat, or does it caress you with a warm hug? Does it intend to harm you or heal you? If you understand this aspect of nature, you will realize that the same is true of all your friends, in fact all human beings. They give you bouquets and brickbats. At times they may appear to be like the harsh summer sun, but if you accept them in those hot days, you will find them very useful when you need their warmth in your coldest days. They may make you very happy, they may hurt you badly. Learn to accept both, as we learn to accept the day with the night, the summer with the winter, and life with death. -- Ali
Often you will be deeply impressed by someone’s words or comments. If others around you are also equally impressed, then you will succumb to agreeing, just because you do not want to be the odd-man-out. We often feel that there is safety in numbers. A “consensus” or collective decision usually means that everyone has agreed to say collectively what no one believes individually – since a Committee is defined as “a group that keeps minutes and loses hours”.
Are you an independent thinker, or do you take shelter under numbers, saying things like “everyone agreed to it”, or “so many others are saying the same thing”? There is a tremendous shortage of independent thinkers. George Bernard Shaw said something like “a few people are very unreasonable …. I wish there were more of them.”
I’m not asking you to become a revolutionary, or to rebel against the whole world. Remember that your thoughts are the only aspect of your life that not even the most powerful dictator can control. If you give up this control to others, just because they are larger in numbers, or because you feel safer in belonging to a group, then you are insulting your intelligence – and maybe heading towards deep disappointment and regret some time in life.
However busy you are in life, try to develop the habit of being Proactive. Rub the blackboard of your mind clean, and start writing what you actually believe in. Have your own mind, listen, evaluate, analyze, but do not go with the “herd mentality” of getting swayed by something just because many people are saying it. In this age of media bombardment, protect yourself from the tsunami trying to control your mind …. your last refuge. – Ali
For the a few years or so, the word “recession” has become one of the most commonly heard ones. I am surrounded by people who lost their jobs, people who are scared that they may lose them, people who have run up debts, and people who are confused what direction to take in the future. But I really wonder, is there anything to really worry about? How many wise people have told us that we only learn in adversity, that failures are stepping stones to success, that hardships sharpen us, and – “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough get Going.”
But we seem to have become so used to luxury and the easy life that we cannot face setbacks any more. When youngsters with three years were earning double of their seniors with thirty years experience, they did not introspect. When people jumped jobs twice a year to reach dizzying heights, they did not look down. When greed overtook wants, they forgot what their actual needs were.
I think there is poetic justice in the global recession, which has at least made us more aware of reality, of poverty, of failure, and of broken dreams. Those who live through this phase will emerge very strong. The younger generation will re-learn the value of delayed gratification, the difference between needs and wants, and the satisfaction of working slowly and steadily towards their goals. The elders will regain their dignity, “experience” will no longer be a dirty word, and people will have time to slow down the merry-go-round of their lives and actually admire the beauty of nature around them – without the background music playing! -Ali
Family stories are tales about people, places, and events related to the members of our immediate
family or their
ancestors. Family stories casually chatted about at the dinner table, or regaled again and again at
gatherings can parallel great epics or notable short stories. The memorable stories of our lives and
of others in
our family take on special importance because they are true, even if everyone tells different
versions of the same
event. These tales are family heirlooms held in the heart not the hand. They are a gift to each
preserves them by remembering them and passing them on.
The first step to collecting family stories is to become a good listener. Good listeners encourage great storytelling. When a speaker feels that the listener is interested, he or she is more inspired to communicate generously. A good listener gives full attention to the teller, does not interrupt or contradict the facts of a story as it is being told, and offers the teller encouragement with an interested facial expression and body stance. When a teller feels encouraged by an interested listener, there is joy in the telling.
An effective way to hear family stories is to ask questions. Family stories can be collected by interviewing a family elder. Make a mental or written list of topics that might generate some questions to ask the elder.
People, places, events, objects, important transitions, work, or travel can be story starters. Although short-term memory may sometimes be limited in the oldest of relatives, long-term memory may be very much intact. We need to help the teller journey back in time to retrieve these treasures. When families are disintegrating, and when the joys of storytelling are fading away from children, this is a good way of reviving both. Do try and practice them.
Often we are reminded that we cannot be successful in business unless we go out of the way to please the customer. We need to put in extra efforts, be very polite, tolerate his idiosyncrasies, pamper his ego, and acknowledge any nonsense that he says – because the customer is always right.
Sometimes I feel we have taken this too seriously, not only in business, but also in our lives and our relationships. We have begun to define “customer” as any person from whom we need money, favours, licence, any material benefit. And this does not stop with our commercial dealings. We practice this very sincerely, a little too sincerely I feel, in many of our personal relationships.
When we know that he can provide us with some benefits, when we can extract monetary benefit from him, he is always right. We are willing to bow down, crawl when we are asked to bend, and fawn all over him – till we get what we want. Maybe then the roles may be reversed, but who cares?
In our mad race of the “competition”, whether it is for a job, a contract, a promotion, a sale, or even getting a spouse, we are on the chase like salesmen. And exactly like salesmen, we pursue only till the deal is done. And when we ourselves put the “customer” on a pedestal, it is but natural that he takes advantage of us.
If we can stop selling – our products, our services, our own selves – we will be able to deal with people much more rationally. We will be able to build better and longer lasting relationships. But it takes a lot of courage to stop selling – for we are afraid of competition. Only those who can step out of the rat race and watch the world go by, can have the courage to achieve this bliss. – Ali
People sniggered as he walked past – those who cared to take notice. Others did not even feel his presence. Nondescript, clumsily attired, disheveled hair, torn sandals flapping at every step.
No one knew much about him – no one cared to. Somewhere in the blurred and distant past he was part of society. Some vaguely remembered that he came from some noble stock. But that was very long ago, and none cared for the bygones. Today there was only one word to describe him – failure.
He did not have a job (was he capable of doing one?), he lived in a shed in the compound of a long-closed factory, he didn’t seem to possess any clothes other than those on his back. He had no friends, at least not among the respectable citizens. The lunatic hanging around the City Market square seemed to like him very much. So did the stray dogs that the elite wanted terminated. There was also the old beggar woman, crawling on hands and stubs of legs, who seemed to be fond of him. Wasn’t the company he kept itself enough evidence of the fact that he was a failure?
One day a highly respected scholar was passing by City Market. He was an acknowledged authority of wisdom in many fields, and a very prosperous and respected man. The scholar saw this man sitting on the pavement and noticed that he was scribbling something with a pencil stub on a dirty bunch of papers. With disdain he went near him and inquired what he was writing. The tone of the question clearly conveyed his contempt that the person could write at all. Silently, and with glazed eyes, the man held up a bunch of ragged papers to the scholar.
“Reality of Life” read the scribbled title. The scholar started reading and his jaw dropped in disbelief. The wisdom of the words pierced as an arrow. The depth of the thoughts could only have come from profound intellect far beyond the average. The scholar kept shaking his head in disbelief as he read page after page of unbelievable excellence, an insight into life that no human had unraveled before. “Where did you get these notes from?” asked the scholar sternly, as a policeman interrogating a criminal. The man sitting on the footpath raised his eyes, and in the depth of those eyes appeared the mysteries of time immemorial. “I wrote it” he replied simply.
The scholar berated him for lying. He laughed derisively. A rainbow of emotions passed through the scholar’s mind – incredulity to greed. His heart was racing with the idea that was forming in his mind – an opportunity of a lifetime. He looked down again at the miserable figure on the pavement, and loudly started scolding him for being useless and an imbecile, a burden on this earth already overloaded with other vermin like him.
Continuing with his loud tirade, he slowly and purposefully thrust the bunch of papers in his bag, and walked off without a second look. The man on the pavement seemed to be giving a blank stare – but none knew what was going on in his mind’s endless depths. He was quick to grasp what had happened, and he accepted it with the same cynical grace as he had accepted every turn of his miserable life.
Days passed by. Life on the pavement was no different from one day to another. The rich, the beautiful and the intelligent would turn their nose up and walk past our miserable wretch, while those who thought they were more miserable than him reached out for his support. He often wondered what he had to give them. On the other hand, they knew what they were getting from him. No one said it in words, but deep down these wretches knew how much more wretched they would be without him.
One day he was shuffling along the main road that led to the Town Hall. Suddenly he was stopped by a lathi wielding policeman. He looked up in surprise to see that a fabulous function was being readied. There were buntings and banners. The crowds were waiting to receive the honourable Governor. The occasion, as announced by the banners was – the release of a book by the very same rich scholar who had snatched the papers from him. The book to be released was entitled “Reality of Life.”
The man pushed behind by the policeman looked towards the floodlit Town Hall. The book was yet to be released … but he knew every word of what was written in it.
Have you had occasion when you did a good deed to someone, and found that he has no gratitude? At times you may have even felt that the person is being a little cold or negative towards you, and may not only be hurt by his behavior, but also perplexed. It is not as though you are expecting much in return, but the least the person can do is to acknowledge the good that you have done for him. Right? Wrong! It is a sad but true facet of human behavior that a person does not act out of gratitude, but for future expectations. Perhaps that is why the Bhagavad Geeta gave the immortal advice “Karmany eva ‘dhikaras te, Ma phalesu kadachana” I remember in my childhood my Granny used to say in Hindi “Neiki kar, Ganga mein daal” i.e. do well, and put your good deeds into river Ganges to flow away with the water. The logic behind this inexplicable behavior is very simple. You do something good to me, and do not expect anything in return. I am initially grateful, but slowly the gnawing thought hits me – you are superior, you are in a capacity to help, you will get everyone’s admiration. I am inferior, at the receiving end, I cannot give back to you, and everyone will look down upon me. This leads to resentment, jealousy, and in my efforts to protect myself, even gossip or badmouthing you. I am not doing it consciously or with bad intention, but I do end up hurting you. And you not only feel very bad, but also perplexed at my behavior. You cannot change mankind. You cannot change even one person’s thinking or behavior. But you can change yourself to understand human behavior, and accept its little idiosyncrasies. “Karmany eva ‘dhikaras te ……..”
India has launched its first spaceship to the moon. Many countries have made nuclear bombs. Man has learnt to harness the great power of nature, whether it be the sun’s heat, the waves of the ocean, or the vast skies. But most of us have still not learnt how to control our emotions. They say that the last frontier of science is the human brain – when we understand it thoroughly, we will have made the greatest breakthrough. And the mind is from where our emotions emanate. So many of us struggle with our emotions, unable to control them, letting them control us instead. Has it not happened to you that someone said or did something, and you reacted instantly – only to regret later? It is because you could not take the responsibility of your “response-ability”. We all need to work on it. Make a resolution that you will gain more control over your emotions, and thus over your words and actions. Feel, experience the power that you will gain.
Among the various species going extinct at a fast pace is a lifeless thing that adds life to every home – the Verandah. Once upon a time there was no house without a verandah, and the bigger varieties had a number of them, including many houses that had verandahs running all round. Tiny houses had verandahs at least big enough for a weary traveler or vendor to rest his aching bones, or for the family grandfather to catch up with the world going past when he could no longer walk out due to arthritis. The Verandah was also a lovely place for the young mother to distract the attention of the baby and feed him while he watched traffic with fascination. Large bungalows had giant verandahs, replete with swings, potted plants, and the khas thattis that cooled the breeze entering the house on hot summer days. The verandah cut out the sun and let in the air, it provided a buffer between the harsh outdoors and the cool interiors. It was a place for family tete-a-tete, gossip, escape from stuffy interiors, and a cozy den to sit and watch the rain with a hot cup of tea. Today we enter houses that greet us with formidable doors, steel shutters, and a “magic eye” from where the wary housewife peeps out whether to allow the visitor in or not. The latch-key has assured that the door can be shut every time someone enters or exits, and the home is cut off from the outside world, the nature around, and the cool breeze that warms the spirit. Apartments do have balconies, but many residents, unless prevented by law, prefer to close them up with windows and grills and make them additional tiny rooms in space-starved flats. The joy of a verandah can never be equaled by any other space in a house. I never give up an opportunity to sit, stand, relax, or swing in one. Next time you see one, try it out, if you don’t have the luxury of having one at home.
Myself when young did eagerly frequent Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument About it and about that: but evermore Came out by the same door wherein I went. -- Omar Khayyam
Why does it appear at times that we are going in and coming out of the same door all the time? Even though material wealth has increased considerably, and we now have the best of living conditions, there is an emptiness that many complain about, a feeling of always being “rushed”, a greater feeling that something is missing. Is it because we are going to the Doctor and Saint of Wealth and Power, the ever-elusive and yet always attractive magnets that draw us to them like moths to the flame? Lately I have been reading about watches that cost a crore of rupees, hotel rooms at 18,000 dollars a night, Kalyan-Mantaps that charge five lakhs and have to be booked one year in advance, cars that are being bought hungrily even with price tags running into crores. On the other end of the spectrum I see every little hut has a colour TV, every coolie has a mobile phone and a bright T-shirt, and every restaurant is overflowing with people. In this scenario what more could a person want? Success is coming at an earlier and earlier age, health care has taken giant leaps, home delivery of food is guaranteed in 15 minutes (“If we delay you don’t have to pay anything”), most children are earning much more money than their parents ever saw in their lives. Then why is it that we have no time to see the sunrise or sunset? Why are we entering doors all the time, when we need to be out in the fresh air? I have asked the questions, but I don’t have the answers. Do you? -- Ali
Another “Teachers Day” has come and gone. A few of us did greet our teachers, but most of us forgot – or just did not have the time. Some of us do not even know who our real teachers are, who made us what we are today. To some extent we do revere, respect and love our parents for what they have taught us. But we often forget those who are not bound by any blood relationship, who did not HAVE to, but yet taught us so much about life that today we go about with our heads held high. Some have taught us from text books, others by lecturing or sharing experiences. Some others have taught by inspiring us or by being role models. We have also learnt through bitter experiences with some individuals. In some cases we have woken up to the learning years after the wisdom was handed down to us, like the young man who said, “As a teenager I was dismayed at how little my Dad knew, now ten years later it is amazing how much he has learnt.” It was not his Dad who learnt, but the young man who learnt that Dad indeed knew quite a bit. Even the illiterate have taught us – by leading lives that the richest could not afford to. The beggar sharing his stale roti with a stray dog, the coolie who gives away a part of his meager earning to charity, the young man who refuses to use influence or give a bribe to get a job – they are all our teachers. In a very subtle way, almost imperceptibly, we have learnt many lessons of life from them. This year on Teachers Day, along with a Seminar to felicitate senior Special Educators, we brought out a little booklet titled “I am a book, I teach” in order to remind us that books have also been immaculate teachers. Let us never forget those who have taught us. – Ali
I have lived in a village with no electricity. In fact the entire village was just three houses and a mosque perched on a hillock at a junction of the busy Kashmir-Kanyakumari National Highway with a dust ridden track leading into some nondescript remote villages. The only thing of significance in this village was a “Request” bus stop where occasionally one or two villagers from the interior would alight or board. And for the facility of these villagers, some good Samaritan had, decades ago, built a small platform around a massive shade-giving tree. One could sit, recline or lie down on this platform at any time of the day. I recollect the special days when I would make it a point to be present in the village – an elderly Mullah would dutifully call out the faithful for dusk prayers, and often finding no one responding, chant his prayer all alone. Once in a while I would diligently don my prayer cap and stand behind him, lost in thoughts of the unseen and sublime Almighty. Immediately after the dusk prayer I would stroll down to the platform under the tree and sit gazing East. As the dusk gathered the darkness all around, and as the blue of the sky turned darker and darker shades of grey, in front of me there would suddenly appear a piercing and steadily growing brightness as though the thick foliage and trees have caught fire. The light would spread through the jungle like a bush fire, brightening the whole horizon. I would sit there staring, spellbound. A few minutes later, like a warrior rising up to proclaim his victory, would rise the source of this unusual brightness – a shining full moon! I don’t know how many months I have watched the full moon rising from the horizon of the tiny hamlet of Asifnagar. But its impact is forever etched in my memory. For, the moonlight would brighten up the countryside as no city floodlights ever can. For miles around I could see the brightened fields, the huts, the highway. Only those who have lived in a village without electricity can truly appreciate the true beauty, charm and brightness of the full moon.
We all love to have permanent things in our lives. The moment our basic needs are met, we move on to our safety and security needs. If you live in a rented house, you want one of your own, if you have a temporary job, you aspire for a permanent one. If you are engaged you want to get married. Yet why is it that we are moving more and more towards seeking temporary and instantaneous gratification? We cherish our oldest friendships with nostalgia, but we look for anonymous contacts on Internet. We love to work with old friends in a familiar environment, but we keep changing jobs. We want long-term and steady customers, but we neglect those who have already purchased, and chase new ones. Not being in the rat-race of this society, I do not identify with competition. But those who are out to beat competition seem to be making things difficult for themselves. I see people who have happy marriages getting sucked into extra-marital affairs. I watch mobile service providers trying to lure new customers and giving horrible service to their existing ones. Builders had taken the prices of apartments to dizzying heights till the recession hit them, and only now they are falling over each other offering “economical” housing. As consumers we keep changing our gadgets and accessories even when they are working perfectly well, just to keep up with the neighbours. Next time you find yourself talking about the “good old days”, try to go back to living those wonderful times. Cherish permanency in every aspect of your life, whether it is your dining chair or your spouse. Learn to value what you have (and “who” you have), rather than getting carried away by advertising blitz and seeking new things. Then you will be able to lead a life that is recession-proof and depression-proof. -- Ali
Every person I meet, casually or with specific
behind an impression on me.
Inevitably I tend to gain, by learning something from the other, by correcting my perceptions, or by getting stimulated into a line of thinking I had neglected earlier. This, I have realized, is only possible if I keep a completely open mind. The moment I look at you and start evaluating you, I am creating a barrier. If I form opinions (inevitably negative ones), I am shutting myself out from learning from you. Judgmental people can become very lonely, and I am working hard to inoculate myself against this major epidemic of the 21st century. As the old proverb says, “When there is so little time to love, where the time to hate is?” Let us use every moment of our interactions to increase the love, which increases the warmth in our heart, and which leads to a sense of fulfillment that no material things can give.
So when I meet you next, in case I forget to tell you, let me thank you in advance for enriching my life.
Every close relationship is defined by expectations – and there needs to be a sensitive balance. But when someone you have loved, trusted and done favours to, decides to willfully hurt you, it becomes extremely difficult to accept. If you are looking for a reason why the person you thought is very close to you let you down so badly, read the book “Games People Play” by Eric Burne. It describes the functional and dysfunctional aspects of close relationships. If you are focusing on the person who hurt you then you are intentionally keeping him or her in your mind, allowing the hurt to fester like a septic wound. If you are craving to get an answer to “WHY did (s)he do this to me?” then you are increasing your pain and anguish. The opposite of love is not hatred, it is indifference. If you want to get the person out of your life, you cannot do it by hating or by being angry. You can only do it by developing a sense of indifference. Anyone you are indifferent to cannot hurt you. By continuing to be angry, you may be spoiling other loving relationships, you may lose the ability to rationalize other relations, and you will definitely be a very, very sad person. If someone near and dear has hurt you intentionally, you are assisting him or her in increasing your hurt and fulfilling the other person’s desire. Also keep in mind that stress is cumulative. The stress of agonizing over the past will get added to any new stress you have to face in life.
Forgiveness is not about giving up anything – except bad feelings. You can forgive and not even tell anyone that you have done so. There are many things you don’t have to do when you forgive. Here is a list of most of them. You can probably add more.
It’s not necessary to understand why someone acted as they did in order to forgive them. They may not even know why they said or did something hurtful. Understanding their motives, opinions, and concerns may help us widen our own perspective, but “why” information about them is not a prerequisite for forgiving.
Alcohol passes through stomach lining (then through small intestine) into bloodstream, then to brain. It depresses the central nervous system within a few minutes, depending on speed of drinking, the dilution, whether food has been eaten etc.
People react differently to alcohol: Feel High, sad or depressed, they develop error of judgment, slow reactions. Some become violent, other forgetful, and some have hangovers.Everyone has a different "limit" in drinking.
Then……Why do people drink?
“Makes me feel good, relaxed” “I am at ease with people”, “To get away from problems”, “Everyone else does”. “Makes me feel attractive, smarter, and stronger.” These are all temporary boosts that extract a great price. Withdrawal symptoms can make a person dysfunctional. The whole family suffers when one person becomes addicted. If your parents drink..... You are more prone towards addiction. The dividing line between social drinking vs. problem drinking is very thin.
Harmful effects of Alcohol: Liver, stomach, brain, heart,
40% of all serious accidents in USA every day, have an alcohol connection. In India also the number is very high.
How to Avoid
Ask yourself why do your friends force you to drink? What is their motive? Say: “No thanks, it makes me sick” “My mother is waiting for me”, “I have a sports match tomorrow”, and be firm. If forced on you, take only one sip, and quietly throw it away Get more involved in sports, yoga, talking it out, spirituality, whatever suits you
Counselling Potential Addicts
Forced treatment does not work. Motivation on the part of the client is important. Motivation varies from time to time. Understand this and accept it.
Counsel family to support client during the withdrawal phase, and to avoid criticism. Give unconditional support and listening to family FAMILY MEMBERS should understand Three C’s which are not in their control: Cause Cure Control
We have a social Self (the image we present ourselves in society), a personal Self (how we are to ourselves and our closest confidantes) and a secret Self – some very personal experiences or attitudes which we just cannot share with anyone else. This is common to all of us to greater or lesser extent and generally should not cause any serious issues.
However, if there is a wide gap between these three, then we need to introspect whether we are living an artificial or hypocritical life. There will be some discomfort trying to balance the three aspects and shuttling from one to other. Without our realizing, it can take a toll on us in the long run.
I have been noticing that with the advent of technology and social media, many of us now have an e-Selfwhich is what we project to others through Facebook, Linked-in, Instagram, Tinder etc. Hiding behind the protection of the smart-phone we build an image that is just not real.The consequences of such adventurism can eventually be very emotionally traumatic……
In a slum area nearby there is a small bakery. Among other things they used to stock small packets containing six Parle-G biscuits, costing two rupees per packet. I would see tiny children raising their hands to the counter with 50 paise coins (I didn’t know these coins still existed)asking for one biscuit!
The bakery man would open the packet and give out one biscuit each thus earning 3 rupees for the 6 biscuits! While he made 50% extra profit, I used to wonder about the kids and their families, who could not or would not spend 2 rupees for a full packet of 6 biscuits.
This is how the poorest of the poor keep losing out, paying more than what we do for the same commodities (including exorbitant interest on loans they are forced to take). No wonder they continue to be in debt traps and poverty from generation to generation….
When we give good inputs and guidance to young people, we are not doing them a favor, we are doing something for ourselves – when we grow old and become incapable of looking after ourselves, it is these youngsters who will be ruling the world and the society around us. We will either be able to enjoy our sunset years, or spend every day lamenting, “Whaaaat has happened to the world/country/ locality/ society/ family – it is not like our good old days.”
Your good old days were good old days because YOUR elders had created a good environment for you, but if you have not done the same, then you deserve to be miserable.
Do give a thought – you invest so much in your home, savings, insurance, health etc. but the greatest and most profitable investment is the one you make in the new generation.
Suddenly you may feel that everyone in the world is happy and enjoying life, while you are left behind in your own misery. At times you may also feel that friends and relatives let you down exactly when you need them.
If you have experienced the above even once in your lifetime, there is a way to vaccinate yourself from facing it in future: Whenever you even suspect that someone known to you (need not even be a close friend) is going through a setback and is feeling isolated because of his or her misery, just reach out to that person. All you need to do is to convey verbally or non-verbally, “Main hoon na” i.e. I am there for you. You don’t need words and you need not help materially or physically.
Helping others is a great way to inoculate yourself against future hurdles or challenges. You can give unlimited emotional support, and you will still have a reservoir to give more. Unlike charity, giving emotionally does not take away your wealth, it increases it.
You look up at a clear sky, put away your umbrella and go out – and within minutes you are caught in a downpour! You see heavy rain and call off your plan to go out, and in the next two minutes the rain stops. Even as we look at the clouds and their formations, there is something lively about the way they keep changing shape, sometimes breezing past briskly and at other times remaining stagnant in the same place in the sky. They can get jealous of a beautiful full moon and cover it up completely, and they can overcast the whole sky and prevent you from getting nourishing sunlight.
Most important, they can withhold the rain for weeks on end causing drought at places and water shortage in the cities, or they can create thunderstorms that flood the countryside creating havoc and destruction. Perhaps we need to take more interest in them and study their behavior the way we study humans, animals and plants.
Who knows what wonderful things we will learn?
When we feel that someone belongs to us, we are willing to go to any length to protect, promote and possess that person. I really wonder if that is love, as we believe. Am I doing all that only to satisfy my ego or my sense of ownership? I often wonder how we can totally ignore others in need and go out of the way to do anything and everything to someone we believe is “mine.”
Is there really anyone that I own in this world? The harsh reality is seen when someone claims to deeply love another person, and when the other rebuts or lets him down, he goes all out to hate and hurt this person he claimed to ‘love.’ Remember the proverb:
“If you love someone, let him go. If he comes back, he is yours, if not, he never was.”
Muniamma and Kumar squat on the opposite sides of the road and spread out their wares on plastic sheets. Kumar specializes in eatables – one-rupee sweets and indigenous chocolates to fancier packaged junk food. Muniamma sells trinkets, toys, knick-knacks. Most children entering the school arch stop and look on with awe to see if there is something new or enticing to buy. They laugh, giggle, and chat leisurely, as they have reached school way ahead of the time for the first bell.
Nestled between undulating hills and valleys, nature holds sway for miles around. Even the clouds spread and roll in abandon in the unlimited skyline. Walk down the steeply sloping road beyond the arch and you are in a school campus with low-rise buildings, playgrounds, staff quarters and a breathless view of the hills in all four directions. This is the Tibetan school in the Dhondenling Tibetan Settlement, a few kilometers from the one-road little town of Odeyarpalya, a five hour drive from Bangalore.
The charming Tibetan refugees live in 22 ‘villages’ named simply by the alphabets ‘A’,’B’, ‘C’ and so on. Their children walk, cycle or ride to the school. The amazing part is that they love to come to school even an hour or two before assembly – for school is second home to them. From Muniamma to the ever-smiling Principal, teachers and support staff (not to mention a battery of tail-wagging street dogs) everyone welcomes the kids, tiny tots to hulking teenagers.
Time stands still in Dhondenling. No one seems to be in a hurry or under stress. Thousands of miles away from their mountain country the third generation refugees live in contentment and peace – and yet with the undying hope that they will return home one day. Children scamper all over the school campus and beyond. A monastery perched on the highest hill looks down benignly on the lone scooters on the winding roads below, the isolated buildings of the administration office, a traditional hospital, the agriculture cooperative society and a tiny bank.
This is a place where nature rules. And it rules with compassion and care, allowing myriad varieties of birds to flit around, for occasional wild elephants to meander through, for trees to grow to unbelievable heights, and for humans who love nature to learn that life should be allowed to progress at its own pace….
I read something very touching the other day:
Imagine that you had the means to give every person in your life an expensive gift. How happy and appreciative they would be! And how much satisfaction you yourself would get. Actually, you can give others a special gift, something they really need.
What is it? Your attention! Most people want attention and respond appreciatively when they receive it. To give quality attention, however, you must be an empathetic listener. Most of us forget to listen to our near and dear. We are very polite in listening to even boring strangers, but we take our most loved ones for granted.
Every now and then I make a resolution that I must give more attention, show greater sensitivity and express more affection to those selected few who are very integral part of my life. But slowly I slip, and soon I realize that I am taking them for granted.
Many a time we work hard to take care of the needs of our near and dear. We deprive ourselves of our needs and wants, spend more money to take care of their needs and wants – but we do it more in material things, and very less in fulfilling their emotional needs and wants. Yet in today’s fast paced and competitive world, what our loved ones need from us is some TLC (I hope you know what it is), small loving gestures and the feeling of warmth that comes from knowing that they belong to someone. Let us please give it to them.
We are all the time encompassed with numbers. The year that has begun is 2019, the date of every day is important to keep planning ahead, we constantly look at the time to keep up our pace, all our near and dear have become trapped in their mobile phone numbers. We are governed by PAN numbers, PIN codes, Adhar number, our vehicle numbers, and our alpha-numeric passwords, our blood pressure readings.
I remember the good old Bollywood movies where the poor man pushed into jail would lament that he has become “Qaidi (prisoner) No. XXX” and has lost his identity. I hope we are not becoming Qaidis entrapping ourselves in our own jails.
The years come and go, leaving good and bad memories – but I want to think that life is more than just numbers. It is emotions, relationships & people. It is names, greetings, pet-names, endearments, descriptions. It is Us !
4 years ago just before Republic Day, I saw an old man selling pins with small metallic National tri-colour flags for five rupees. I bought four of them, and started wearing them in rotation every day. Initially no one seemed to take any notice of this new appendage on my shirt. Then comments started: “Hey, Republic Day is long over, why the flag?” Some people even passed sarcastic remarks, “you don’t have to wear your patriotism on your chest every day”. It set me thinking. People wear their religion, caste, political affiliations on their sleeve, and it is accepted. Everywhere I turn around I see people flaunting their faith or their community – on their foreheads, in their dress, through ornaments, and even on the dashboards or windscreens of their cars. I want to wear my Nationality on my person wherever I go, because I genuinely love my country and am proud to be an Indian, and I hardly have any other regional or parochial affiliations. My language, religion, caste, region or political affiliation are very minor in comparison to my identity as an Indian – and I would like others to know this fact, through a tiny metallic tricolor flag proudly worn on my chest.
When someone falls sick, a loved one is dying, there is an accident or disability, or when someone is struck down with mental illness – Ramaswamy is the first name that comes to mind.
One phone call, and Ramaswamy does not give you advice what to do, he just informs you how many minutes it will take for him to reach you. Like the pizza delivery man, Ramaswamy is with you in minutes. He takes charge, quietly runs around doing everything possible to relieve the situation, provides solace and reassurance, and manages to get results at lightning speed. Be it a case of brain trauma or mental illness at NIMHANS, a serious case of cancer in Kidwai hospital, a destitute who needs admission in a government hospital, or a person from a far off village lost and desolate looking for a cure in the giant city of Bangalore – he’s there.
Ramaswamy has the uncanny knack of making friends with the right people – never for himself, but to ensure that the contacts he builds up will be useful when the next emergency strikes to a stranger who calls out to him. Travelling from one corner of the city to another, be it by car, scooter or BMTC bus, he does not hesitate to take every suffering soul to the right destination for the most appropriate and affordable cure. And he does not stop with that. He knows where financial relief is available, which authorities to wake up from their slumber to release most deserved concessions or grants to the poorest of poor. He completes his work and moves on …. To meet the next person in need.
The mist cleared up early. It is nearing 7 a.m. and the sun is peeping over the tallest trees in the East.
The day is becoming quite bright, and the little residents of the salubrious Manthan (Churning of minds) retreat, are up and about. A squirrel comes running and jumping at amazing speed, climbs briskly up the tall wooden pole, and perches himself (herself?) comfortably on top. Enjoying the view and surveying the surroundings, he smoothly glides on to a thin tree branch. For a moment I gasp, is he going to lose his grip and fall? Not at all, he knows how and what he is capable of. Before I can catch my breath, he has effortlessly moved on to another tree and then another, and is out of sight.
There are tiny birds, smaller than the usual sparrows we see in the city. They move in and out of my vision so fast, I cannot keep track of where they are going. In the meanwhile my favorite Vividh Bharathi radio station is broadcasting another session of “Bhoole Bisre Geet (forgotten and scattered retro Hindi songs)”. The slow and lilting music goes well with the slow and measured movements of nature around me. A hot cup of tea appears by my side, and before I can say thanks to the eternally loyal Thirumalamma, she has glided away noiselessly and is sweeping the far end of the campus.
I wish every morning can be so beautiful and bountiful. But I have to get back to the concrete jungle. For every day is not Sunday, and I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep……
I read something very touching the other day:
Imagine that you had the means to give every person in your life an expensive gift. How happy and apprecia¬tive they would be! And how much satisfaction you yourself would get. Actually, you can give others a special gift, something they really need. It won't cost you anything.
What is it? Your attention! Most people want atten¬tion and respond appreciatively when they receive it. To give quality attention, however, you must be an empathetic listener. Most of us forget to listen to our near and dear. We are very polite in listening to even boring strangers, but we take our most loved ones for granted.
Every now and then I make a resolution that I must give more attention, show greater sensitivity and express more affection to those selected few who are very integral part of my life. But slowly I slip, and soon I realize that I am taking them for granted. Many a time we work hard to take care of the needs of our near and dear. We deprive ourselves of our needs and wants, spend more money to take care of their needs and wants – but we do it more in material things, and very less in fulfilling their emotional needs and wants. Yet in today’s fast paced and competitive world, what our loved ones need from us is some TLC (I hope you know what it is), small loving gestures and the feeling of warmth that comes from knowing that they belong to someone. Let us please give it to them.
The VIP Guest House of IIT Roorkee, calm ambience of the formal dining hall at dinner time. I saw a young gentleman looking a little lost as he entered, so I invited him over to my table. He turned out to be a very successful Corporate Executive heading operations of a large MNC. He had just finished giving a talk to the students on developments post demonetization.
As we spoke his phone rang 3 times in 10 minutes, and he kept on telling the person at the other end that he will be with him in a short while. He explained apologetically that his associate was calling him back to the guest room because he needed advice on a presentation that they were preparing. Apparently his boss had called up from Delhi to tell him that an important customer wants a proposal on Monday morning.
I then understood that despite it being a Saturday night, he and his associate will sit late in the night, prepare the proposal, drive to Delhi early morning, and go his boss’ house to show him what he had prepared. He said it is quite likely that boss will make major changes, so he will sit on Sunday night and finalize the presentation.
The person I was talking to was in his thirties, good looking and smart, he said he has two small children, and he will not be able to spend the weekend with his family – which is a regular affair. Of course he earns a salary which has so many zeroes in it that I cannot even count!
Ratan Tata appointed Cyrus Mistry as the head of the Tata empire after extensive professional search. Narayan Murthy and his team appointed Vishal Sikka as the Head of Infosys bypassing senior executives. Mulayam Singh Yadav appointed his son Akhilesh Yadav the Chief Minister of UP when he himself could have enjoyed that position. And subsequently each of these stalwarts got into a public spat with their appointees, accusing them in the media and elsewhere of mismanagement, and tried to take back control.
I have often seen this desire among successful leaders to want to become Remote-controllers and to rule by proxy, without having the responsibility or answerability that a designation brings. And even after having gone through a rigorous and time consuming selection process, they are so unhappy eventually with their appointees that they want to take back their positions, undo whatever the successor had done, and start from square one. In many cases this process can be unpleasant, acrimonious, bitter.
I often wonder why such people cannot let go and retire gracefully, even if their successors are not doing things exactly the way they would want them to. What makes them hand over authority, keep monitoring from a distance, and again step in to make changes? In most cases age is catching up with them and the task of rebuilding is not an easy one.
I suppose we do not learn from nature how the old order gives way gracefully to the new and the cycle of fresh harvests and new blooms continue to make the world a better place.
There is a famous proverb: “Man travels all over the world looking for happiness, only to find it at home.” The mystic poet Kabir Das had also said something similar about searching everywhere for God and then finding out that He resides in your own home.
I have always been a critical admirer of proverbs and quotes of famous men. But I do not blindly follow and applaud them. There are times when I find some very popular proverbs either irrelevant, senseless, or even exactly opposite of what I believe in. When I identify such a quote, I just ignore it and move on. But I find so many people who blindly read, repeat, forward and quote to others, without giving a deep thought to their relevance – more so if it is a quote by a “foreigner” with an impressive sounding Western name.
With due respect to many great people (who may often say great pearls of wisdom, but not always so), I think we should introspect and evaluate the relevance or usefulness of a quote. Going again to the proverb at the top, is it necessary that we come back after our explorations and find happiness at home? What if we have grouchy family members, or if we are going through stress at home for various reasons? We can perhaps find happiness when we explore beyond and see how others are dealing with their life situations.
Travel is a great education in itself and even a source of joy.
I don’t know if I am over-reacting, but I find more and more people who do not stick to their commitments, punctuality, or minor responsibilities. In this era of very easy communication, I find people who do not take calls or messages, do not call back, and do not show any remorse when questioned on it.
At times it becomes a question of how important or useful you are to them. If you are a person in authority or are useful to them in some way, then they do not wait for you to contact them, they are calling you up constantly, sending mails, sending “gentle” reminders of what you have to do for them. And once the work is over, they go back to the same attitude of indifference.
I do agree that we live in a competitive world, and everyone wants to keep climbing up the ladder of success. But what I fail to understand is that having people to support you when you stumble, cheer you on when you are struggling, or guide you if you are straying from your path – are as important as those who can actually give you a lift.
Even Newton, when praised for his great achievements, is reported to have said, “I could see far ahead because I was standing on the shoulders of tall men.” There are emotionally tall men and women all around us. They are not celebrities or billionaires or persons in authority. But they can lend their shoulders, not only to climb and see far ahead, but sometimes to lean on and have a good cry. Are you nurturing such shoulders?
“Please tell me which is the best career?”
“In which career will I make the most money?”
“Which career has the best ‘scope’?”
These are the questions I am faced with on a regular basis not only from students, but also from their parents. I wish I could answer them ….. but I am only a counselor, not an astrologer or a palm reader. I can assess a person, find out all the abilities, traits, aptitude and intelligences, and I can match them to the most suitable careers. But can I predict how much money the person is going to make? If I could do that I would not be sitting here as a counselor and would probably be minting money myself elsewhere.
In today’s era of innumerable challenging and rewarding careers it is so sad to see people following the herd mentality and losing out on very promising opportunities. There are very nice, simple and proven methods to select the right career most suited to an individual, match it to his or her interest/ passion if any, and thus select a course and vocation that will be most successful, profitable, and enjoyable.
If you wish to take that path, I can assure you that you will never regret your decision, and you will be able to make your vocation into a vacation.
Are we all selfish people?
Enrollments for the new DCS batch are going on, and I am amazed at the number of students who are coming into this simple, experiential and unorthodox course with such high qualifications and credentials. Some have given up high-paid and high-status jobs, others have put aside prestigious achievements, comforts, their status, and have agreed to become students – to learn about life, about themselves, about others, and how to reach out to people.
When intellectuals say that humans are basically selfish and greedy, that they only look for their own benefit, I want to tell them about our students – and also those who have been giving selfless voluntary service for years after they qualify in our counseling course. These are the people who keep reinforcing my faith in humanity, and I feel so privileged that I am able to have such amazing people around me. That is what keeps motivating me to continue with my humble mission.
I am sure you too will find some selfless people around you – it is up to you to spend time with them, nurture your relationship with them, and find an oasis in the self-centered world.
As I grow older, I realize that I have so much to learn from younger and younger people. It is nice to be old, with all your happy and sad memories, the nostalgia and particularly the beautiful relationships you have built and you cherish – even if sometimes the people are no more. But if we get stuck in the past, and keep talking about “In my good old days….” we are denying ourselves the opportunity to participate in the most exciting and challenging things that are happening now, which we couldn’t even have dreamt of some decades ago.
I will not forget the hundred year old man who, when people asked what the advantages of being a centurion are, he replied: “No peer pressure.” I agree with him. If I spend time with people of my age or older, I find very few of them willing to adapt and adjust to the new world and enjoy what it has to offer. Living in the past is not going to bring back the past, but will deprive you of living in the present, and planning for the future.
That is another topic of interest. Many elderly people do not want to plan for the future (except bolstering their investments or health insurance) just because their age has crossed certain numbers. But there is more to life than just physical security. Here I would like to quote the story of another centurion who was very positive and enthusiastic, and when asked the secret of his motivation, he replied: “every morning I drag myself out of bed with all my bones aching, go outside and fetch the newspaper. I open the Obituary Column to see whether my photo is there. If it is not there then I know I have one more day on this earth and I might as well enjoy it!”
Guru Purnima came and went this month. Even the full moon was a little dull due to cloudy weather. I received many messages of gratitude and appreciation that warmed my heart – though personally I don’t believe that I have really been a Guru as such.
Which made me think –what really is a Guru? Is it just the teachers who taught us through text books, is it the religious wise men who give sermons, is it the person who coaches you when you have exams and sees that you pass? Surprisingly my best and most effective gurus have been none of these – they have been people who encouraged me to think for myself, motivated me to progress without them being my crutches, cheered me on when I was doing something nice, and stood by me when I faltered.
Some of my gurus have also been my worst critics who made all efforts to pull me down, and in the process lit a spark of determination in me that I should prove them wrong!
Many a time we do not realize how much we are learning from different people, leave alone acknowledging and appreciating them for what they have given us! Shall we start doing it now at least?
When I write, I do so for myself.
Sometimes people appreciate what I write, at times they say they do not understand, and some just ignore because they are too busy to read trivia. Of course in this age of Instagram and Twitter, perhaps reading a few paragraphs, and that too on paper and not on the mobile, must be quite a task to many people. But that does not discourage me, because I write for myself…..
I have always held the view that it is better to love than to be loved. Not many agree with me, at least not in practice. But I believe that when I love I am in control of myself, I am choosing to do what makes me happy. I am not dependent on anyone, not even on the person I love. Hence life is so much smoother and fulfilling.
Similarly, when I write I am bringing out my thoughts. Why should it be important to me whether others choose to read, agree, criticize, condemn, or as in most cases ……ignore? If you are reading this, don’t evaluate my expression. Use it to create thoughts and ideas of your own – and share it with others. You may have much more and better things to say than me, and there may be people who appreciate your inputs.