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The bright look of surprise

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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The bright look of surprise

The bright look of surprise, the glow of recognition, the thrill of the encounter – when you meet someone you are fond of, either alone or in a party after a long time, there is so much excitement. We give a warm handshake, a hug, or a friendly pat. We inevitably ask, “Where were you?” and are ready to start off catching up with what happened to us during this time.

Earlier such an encounter would lead to exited conversations, expressions of joy or concern, inquiring about so many things, and maybe sitting down over a cup of tea to talk nostalgically. But nowadays I have noticed, the moment we meet the person, out come the mobiles, and a series of selfies or photographs begins. Someone wants the whole group, another wants an exclusive pic with one of them, someone else wants to stand between two close friends. Check mobiles, not very happy, and someone is called in to take few more photographs while we strike poses.

The bright look of surprise

There is an immediate exchange of Whatsapp numbers and a forceful request that the photos should be forwarded at the earliest. What happens after that I don’t get to see, because I do not have a smartphone, but I can guess that a lot of time is then spent ‘uploading’, ‘forwarding’, ‘commenting’ and ‘like-ing’. Some curious people who were not present there probably log in and check out what we were doing with whom and when.

I’m looking for people who are just willing to show genuine affection, concern and joy, to spend those valuable few minutes talking, looking into each others’ eyes, and exchanging the warmth of a touch.

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The other side of Loneliness

Author: Raju Thomas

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/the-other-side-of-loneliness-by-author-raju-thomas

Loneliness is considered as something unpleasant or an undesirable state of existence, associated with being alone. But it is possible for a person to be alone, but not lonely. The reverse can also be true. He may be having so many people around him and interacting with them, but at the same time he may still harbor a sense of loneliness within himself. Is loneliness just a symptom of a lack of physical companionship and social interactions, or something else? Loneliness, in its essence, is just an emotion, a feeling of being isolated and left out from the mainstream in the flow of life. It is such a feeling which is harmful to one’s well being.

What is the real cause of this mental sickness -if I can put it that way-of loneliness? Every person can be thought of as living in two parallel worlds at the same time, an inner world and an outer world, and there is often a gap between what happens in these two worlds. He tries to tune his behavior to satisfy the dictates of the outer world, disregarding what he really would like doing. It is the existence of such a gap which makes him feel that nobody understands him and creates a sense of loneliness. This is just a negative feeling and it is a consequence of the mismatch between his projected outer life and his inner self. More the gap, more is this feeling of loneliness. While reaching out to a person who is feeling lonely could help reduce his sense of loneliness, the real antidote to loneliness, I think, would be leading a life with more authenticity. This means living a life more in tune with one’s innermost feelings. This, in turn, would bring a sense of peace and mental satisfaction. So long as this is achieved, whether one is alone or surrounded by any number of people, he can never feel lonely. This is perhaps the real meaning of the word ‘solitude‘. It is in this type of solitude that hermits live, spending their life in isolation in faraway places. They may be alone, but do not feel lonely.

As mentioned above, loneliness is a negative emotion of feeling isolated, and unable to communicate such a feeling to others. A person who feels lonely cannot easily appreciate such feelings in another individual. In other words, loneliness is something which cannot be shared. But this is not true of solitude, the feeling of which can be shared. One doesn’t have to be in a remote place, away from everybody to enjoy the bliss of solitude. It is also easier for a person who understands the difference between loneliness and solitude to reach out to help the really lonely people.

Solitude also helps to bring more focus on the creative potential of an individual. Imagination and new ideas blossom in the mind of a person living with a sense of solitude. I am sure some of the greatest masterpieces in the field of art and literature must have been the work of individuals with a deep and placid mind, which comes out of a feeling of solitude. It is through such works that they have been able to share their solitude with others. Another positive aspect of solitude is that it can also act as reminders of who and what is important in one’s life.


 

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Ancient Aviator Anecdote

From ‘Royal’ To ‘Indian’ Air Force

Author: Air Vice Marshal (AVM) Cecil Parker, MVC

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/from-royal-to-indian-air-force-by-author-cecil-parker

On 16 December, 2017, the 200th PC (Pilots Course) graduated from the Air Force Academy (AFA) in Hyderabad. I share a year of birth with the IAF (1932) and, with the passage of time, find myself today as the oldest living ex-commandant of the AFA. My own association with the AFA is threefold; as a flight cadet in 1951-52, as a Flight Instructor in 1955-57 and as the Commandant in 1983-85.

The genesis of pilot training in our air force can be traced back to World War II (1939-45). It must be recalled that, for the first 15 years (1932-47), the IAF was a limb of the Royal Air Force and served British needs. It was the advent of the war that necessitated a rapid expansion of pilot training, commissions were offered to Indians in the RIAF for the first time. 50 regular / ad oc pilot training courses were conducted in UK / SA and at FTEs (Flying –Training establishments) set up at tome of the 200 emergency airfields constructed in undivided India. Our pioneering Indian pilots benefitted greatly from the skills and knowledge gained in air operations both in India and overseas. This experience was vital in building up the IAF post Indepedence.

The process of indigenization of Indian military air power can be said to have commenced with ground training at ITW (Initial Training Wing) Coimbatore in October 1947 and thereafter at EFTS (Elementary Flying Training School) at Jodhpur. I joined No. 58 PC in early 1951 for our (ten) 18 – month flying training on Tiger Moth (Basic) and Harvard (Advanced) aircraft (ac). In 1970-71 the present and permanent AFA Hyderabad was set up and all officer-branch training (other than technical trg) was centralized under one roof.

When I took over as Commandant in 1983, our air force faced major training problems. It is now 31 years since I left the IAF but, being co-located with the AFA in retirement, I never fail to receive an invitation to the bi-annual GP (Graduation Parade) from the Academy which now conducts basic pilot training on Swiss Pilatus PC 7 ac. In my 86th year it is not always convenient to attend but when I do, I am happy to meet Commandants who were pupil pilots / new flying instructors during my tenure and whose efforts collectively contribute to the double century at / by the AFA.

The author is a retired air vice marshal of the IAF and a freelance writer who can be contacted at: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


 

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Choice

Author: Dr. Dharaneesh Prasad

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/choice-by-author-dr-dharaneesh-prasad

Harsha returned back home from his office at 9.45 pm though usually he would reach home by 8.15 pm. It was because of the excess work that he had to do as the month was just about to end and he had to submit his reports in the office. Tired he was, when he reached home, he felt happy and relieved when his little daughter, Smruthi came running and offered him some water to drink. He in a hustle mishandled the glass and the glass fell off her hands on the ground. He got angry. He could not control his thoughts and emotions.

Harsha had choices to choose from:

  1. He could just pause a moment to understand that it wasn’t the child’s mistake but his, and move on.
  2. He could shout at the child and his wife to express out his repressed anger and make a mess out of it.

He choose the send one but couldn’t foresee the problems that it would pose in the future. He shouted at he child for not giving the glass properly. He called his wife Amrutha to the living room. Amrutha rushed to the living room to see him raging with anger. He shouted and scolded her also. Without realizing what he was doing, he started to scold her parents too asking whether this was the way, her parents had brought her up.

Warm tears trickled down the cheeks of Amrutha. Few moments back, Shruthi a preschool child had shown Amrutha all her new skills of scribbling alphabets, telling rhymes and doing a “roll around” which she condiered dance. The proud mother, mesmerized by these, had kissed her little daughter. In return the little child kissed her mother’s cheeks.

Amrutha’s cheeks forgot the sweetness of all those warm kisses as tears rolled down. Feeling too embarrassed and unable to manage the situation, Amrutha held her little daughter close to her chest and went to the room, continuing to cry. Amrutha felt too difficult to tolerate the pain her body felt due to her day long chore of work and her excessive bleeding, that had to stop two days back but was still continuing.

Smruthi did not know what was happening around. Her tender age did not let her make sense of those happenings. She did not want to cry but could not stop tears rolling down her cheeks. She wanted to tell father all that had happened in her school and about her preparation for the sports day too. All these were documented in her subconscious mind and nobody knew what consequences they would cause in her future life.

Time passed by. After some time, Harsha paused for a moment to reflect back on his choice. If Harsha had chosen right, that dark night would have not seen two suffering souls amidst the terrible darkness it hid within.


 

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I do not know

Author: Serene George

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/i-do-not-know-by-author-serene-george

I hate the way I do not know myself. Am I right or wrong? What’s gone wrong? At 18, there was a lot more conviction. Here I am at 28 with an overdose of confusion.

Wish I didn’t know so well then, would’ve explored a bit more;
It doesn’t really matter, because I still don’t know.
I miss that girl who loved the stage, she was never in doubt.
Ambiguity has become her way of life – how as she come to this?

 

I like blacks and whites, grey was never my favorite;
Only if an eraser could make it all clear and lucid.
But neither do I trust my artistic skills enough - To let me paint by myself , all over again.

 

Regrets, wanting to go back in time is not my thing.
Not to my credit – why would it be when you are still unsure?
Quest mark was a punctuation made for me, a big one indeed.
Who will answer them all is sadly just another question!

 

Google and god, no one seems to have a one to discern, but I hate that I do not yet know.
I like to end on a ray of hope, a solution in the making.
But all I feel is irresolute, what can I do when I just don’t know?

 


 

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Every Closure Marks A New Beginning

Author: Asma Ansari

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“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one, which has opened for us.” – Helen Keller.

It’s a harsh truth that letting go is almost always painful and one of the toughest life lessons. Life is a constant battle where we fight, sometimes to hold on and sometimes to let go. We all have known sorrow and happiness, failure and success, disappointment and hope. We’ve seen closures and then new beginnings too. Good or bad, everything passes and eventually comes to an end. And it’s essential to note that when a stage comes to an end we need to identify and accept it gracefully and then move on. The more we try to linger, the harder it gets to close the door to the past. Not just it wastes precious energy and time; it does not let us appreciate the welcoming streak of light coming through those newly opened doors inviting us to step in.

Let Go of Whatever Holds You Back

Letting go of past is not just crucial at times, it is necessary. Leaving behind what’s already over in the past is essential and healthy. Search within yourself; are you holding on to anything which you need to let go? Anger, grief, regret, let down, rejection, frustration, guilt, disappointments, lost love or friendship? The longer you hold on to these thoughts and feed them with your attention, the longer they will stay with you. And it is just you who will be hurt. Anything or anyone that causes you terrible pain, makes you feel miserable, or diffuses toxicity in your life, needs to go. And you do not have to feel guilty about it. Let go of whatever weighs you down or holds you back. You, only you, hold the power to close the door to the past and move on.

Know When It’s Time to Close the Doors

Most of us are so attached to our past that we refuse to look beyond the pain, struggle and comfort associated with it. We replay the memories from past over and again in our mind and mull over it. Setbacks, whether professional or personal, are a part of life. Not every plan works, not every venture succeeds, and not every relationship survives. Moreover, brooding over bygones is pretty much wasted energy. When things are damaged beyond repair, and there is no fixing back, it is wise to close that chapter and never look back. And it is a life altering decision when we decide to move on. Closing a door never implies that you are inadequate, incapable, arrogant or disinterested. It means that this thing just doesn’t fit in your life anymore.

Never Open the Closed Doors

You might hear frequent knocking on the door, but temptation should never be an option. It is unhealthy and stops you from truly moving on. Revisiting those doors and dwelling in past keeps you chained and sabotages your capability. Remember that once your life was fulfilling without that thing or person or situation. Moreover, by letting go of past, you are creating space for wonderful new things to happen in life.

As hard as it may seem, but believe me, once you are determined to move on, closures are peaceful, absolving and detoxifying. Every closure marks a new beginning. So bit goodbye to the closed doors, turn around, take a deep breath, and then open your eyes to the vast opportunities lying beyond those new doors lined up along the hallway of life.

By the way, have you chosen the next door yet? Go on and enter into the world beyond that new door to see what it has in store for you. Cheers to a new beginning.


 

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Cricket and Me

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/cricket-and-me

I have never been a sportsperson. The only time I played cricket was when a team had absolutely no choice but to make me the eleventh man, and I batted last in a match we miraculously won. But my associated with cricket was quite strong due to my eldest cousin who was a role model to me.

A left arm spinner, handsome, charming and brilliant in his studies, captained our school team and started playing for the Ranji Trophy team when he was barely 17. I would follow him to the grounds and watch mesmerized when the likes of Pataudi, Jaisimha and Abid Ali spoke endearingly and encouragingly to him. He was the “chhotu” of the team, but to me he was ten feet tall.

Along with him I watched in admiration the players who excelled, played to their full capacity, and made us proud of them. We applauded our school team, our Club team, our state team, the South Zone team, and of course the Indian team – which played the rare test matches which were occasions looked forward to months in advance. The newspapers were out only source of information, and during the matches, the commentators, and the “experts” commentators kept us glued to our radio sets. We celebrated when our state or national team won, we felt sad when they lost, but we never equated match victory to the capability of the players – they continued to remain our heroes.

Our cricketers did not get any national awards or cash prizes. They mostly commuted on two-wheelers, sometimes borrowed ones. Between matches they worked in banks or government departments. They were thrilled giving autographs, and celebrations meant go9int to the nearby darshini for dosa or indulge in a biryani in an ordinary restaurant.

Days went by, and cricket changed. Today players are ‘bought’, they are ‘auctioned’ and they play for whichever ‘owner’ pays them most. They earn in crores in the normal course, and more than that if they are into match-fixing, huge amounts are gambled in every match. Many people watch cricket on TV more to ogle at the attractive cheer-leaders than to admire the players. Politicians get deeply involved in cricket bodies, courts are made to spend valuable judicial time adjudicating scandals. Top cricketers get more honors and adulation than the most courageous military men or the ceaselessly toiling social workers.

Though cricket has a unique charm which is so different from other sports, and there are such thrilling and unpredictable moments in the game, what is happening outside the field has saddened me. It was called a ‘gentlemen’s game’, which sounds like a joke when I see the behavior of today’s players. However much I cherish and am nostalgic about the game, I somehow cannot bring myself to overlook its degeneration, so I change the channel and watch comedy serials.


 

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Loneliness is… something you cannot share

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/loneliness-is-something-you-cannot-share-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Loneliness is… something you cannot share

It is said that at any given time, one out of four people suffer from loneliness. And the number is growing significantly. Behavioral scientist have warned us that loneliness is likely to be the next greatest epidemic that will hit mankind. UK has appointed a Minister in its Government specifically to deal with loneliness last month.

No one is immune to it – rich or poor, your or old, active or retired, living alone or in a huge giant family. The good news is that there is a vaccine available for it…..by reaching out and reducing someone else’s loneliness!

You may have heard of the story where the King told all his citizens to come in the night and fill his huge tank with a tumbler of mild from each household. One person thought that in thousands of litres of milk, no one will be able to notice, so in the cover of darkness he brought a tumbler of water and poured it in. When the next day dawned, the city found that the entire tank was full of pure water! Everyone only poured water in the tank.

Something similar is happening in our urban lifestyle. We all want friends, we want to be pampered, we are looking for people who understand and care for us – but we are not reaching out to people who need our love!

Learn to identify those who are lonely. It requires some amount of sensitivity and practice, but you can do it. Once you learn this skill, reach out to such a person whenever you find him or her …. and you will never be lonely.

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Feel Nice

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/feel-nice-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Feel nice

I am a firm believer in the proverb: “You will forget what people said, you will forget what people did, but you will never forget how they made you feel.”

I get reassured on this fact very often. If I make it a point to focus on the positive people instead of the negative ones, I find that there are so many who make me feel so warm and loved, by very simple gestures. It happened recently when an old (almost forgotten) student of mine sent me a touching and appreciative email saying that I have been instrumental in changing her life, and that she is doing very well in the past few years. And what made me appreciate her reaching out to me even more was the fact that the mail had no other agenda. She just thought of me and sent the message.

Feel nice

It may appear to be a small gesture, but it really, really made me feel wonderful. And believe me, if we keep track of such moments, cherish them and keep them fresh in our memory, life becomes so beautiful.

And most important – don’t forget to
make the other person ‘feel’ nice in return.

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Let us accept that we are a minuscule part of creation

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/let-us-accept-that-we-are-a-minuscule-part-of-creation-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Carl Sagan, famous science producer said: “Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.” And yet we have so much pride and self-importance. We think that we are so great because of our petty achievements or wealth. Let us accept that we are a minuscule part of creation, and do our little bit.

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When facing any opposition

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/when-facing-any-opposition-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

When facing any opposition or when there is a need to prove that we are right, I wonder why we focus only on pointing out the negative aspects of the opponent, instead of highlighting where we are right or what we have achieved. It is done by politicians, religious gurus, business competitors and even in family disputes. Actually a neutral person listening to such put-downers is not interested in the unpleasantness and wants to keep away from both parties. I feel that if I am confident about myself I should stop accusing the other person and emphasize on what I have done or why I deserve better treatment. Try it out, and make it a habit.

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I have a friend called Aab

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/i-have-a-friend-called-aab-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

I have a friend called Aab (it means 'water' in Arabic). Like water, Aab has been around for centuries, and he is not generally visible to people. But I have learnt so much about life from him, and keep learning even now. He is like a mongrel or even like a piece of scrap paper that flies in the wind here and there. These are around us but we never notice them. Hence Aab gets a chance to notice everybody silently. And how much he learns about human behavior! Particularly since he has no likes and dislikes, no ambitions, no attitudes, and he follows the theory of the old Bollywood song, "bazaar se zamaane ke, kuchh bhi na hum khareedengey, haan baich kar khushi apni, logon ke ghum khareedengey."

I'll introduce you to him some time......

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What happened to people who used to read books

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/what-happened-to-people-who-used-to-read-books-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

I am slowly starting to wonder what happened to people who used to read books. In my 'good old' days books were rare but we would somehow borrow and read. Today books are plentiful but hardly anyone seems to read them.

A book does not need to be 'booted', no recharge is necessary, it stays quietly in the corner till you pick it up. You can read even one page at a time and put it away. You can read at your own pace unlike TV programs, you can lie down, relax and go deep into your thoughts when reading.

When our library had 500 books years ago, we had a hundred people borrowing from it. Now we have more than 4,000 books and not even thirty people read its books.

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Bangalore Community College - Including the Excluded

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/bangalore-community-college-including-the-excluded-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

I was invited to preside over the Convocation of a small institute known as Bangalore Community College. They provide vocational training to children who cannot go through mainstream education, and empower them to become employable. I was very touched with their motto: "Including the Excluded" because they take in those who have failed or those who are not accepted by any other college.

I wish all of us can make that as a slogan in our life -- including those who are excluded (for any reason). What a wonderful world we will be creating !

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Just mail your counsellor now, sharing your problems, your worries, your anxieties, your fears. Your counsellor will reply to you, and be there for you until you need her to help you cope and get going.

Leading Banjara Academy's online email counselling team of volunteer-counsellors, I realize it is not an easy task reaching out to a person one has never met, never seen, without the added advantage of gestures, eye contact, a gentle reassuring touch, tone of voice and yet providing empathy, positive strokes, making the person feel heard and understood.

With the aid of only written words, it is quite a task building trust, making people open up and share and helping them cope and feel better. So when in many instances they write back saying thank you and that they feel so much better, the feeling one gets is priceless and incomparable - knowing one has done something right, something good!

Hats off to all the volunteeer-counsellors of Banjara Academy who have been carrying on this work silently, anonymously for the last couple of years. Truly commendable! - Ali Khwaja

 

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