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Disappearance of sparrows from our life

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/disappearance-of-sparrows-from-our-life-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Further to what I wrote about nature, I wonder how many of us are aware of the disappearance of sparrows from our life. They were all over the place in every city and town that I lived in my early life. They balance the ecology. But now I not only don't see sparrows in Bangalore, I hardly see them in even the small towns that I visit now and then.

Rotary had started a movement of making small holed wooden nests for people to keep in their balconies (because bigger holes means the bigger birds come and kill or eat up their eggs). I tried out two such nests, but no sparrow came.

There is a different bird of much smaller sparrows that I thankfully see in our Manthan retreat. Whenever I stay there, I spend my morning cup of tea observing their lively flitting and their socializing.

Amazingly, I do see a few sparrows quite fearlessly hanging around the food courts of Bengaluru International Airport. Small mercies.

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The harmony of all living beings ensures a smooth flow

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/the-harmony-of-all-living-beings-ensures-a-smooth-flow-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Sitting amidst nature and watching how the harmony of all living beings ensures a smooth flow, I was wondering about the way we argue whether the world was created by an omnipotent God or whether it evolved (Darwin's theory).

I hope and wish we can spend a fraction of that time on doing our little bit and ensuring that we preserve whatever is there that nature has given us free of cost. It is only we humans who keep destroying ecology shamelessly. Go into nature and see the vast expanses of hills and valleys, rivers and oceans, flora and fauna, how they co-exist and renew themselves -- as long as humans do not come and pollute and destroy.

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Being child-like

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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

There is a great deal of difference between being "childish" and being "child-like", and often we do not understand one from the other. I always appreciate people who are child-like, who have retained some amount of innocence and straight-forwardness through ups and downs, and who have allowed their 'inner'child' to remain alive and kicking.

For example, if you still enjoy listening to little stories with some morals in them. if you can giggle at silly jokes, if you are willing to go out and purposely get wet in the rain -- then you are child-like, and your life will always be as simple, joyful and enjoyable as that of a child.

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How to clear misunderstandings

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Often someone comes and starts complaining about how a third person has hurt him or let him down. I ask only one question, "Did you put the fact before him and sought his clarification?" Quite often, the answer is No. I personally practice that as much as I can. The moment I dislike someone's words or actions, or if I hear from another source about something the person has done, I seek out the earliest opportunity to be frank and tell, "This is what I heard from X. I felt concerned/hurt/disturbed (whatever). I want to hear from you what the truth is."

You'll be amazed how often it clears up matters which would otherwise have become major misunderstandings, fights or break-ups. Hope you follow this too.

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I really wonder whether we truly appreciate what Independence means

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/i-really-wonder-whether-we-truly-appreciate-what-independence-means-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

I really wonder whether we truly appreciate what Independence means. Most of us were born after India gained independence so we have not seen the times when hotels or clubs used to put up signboards "Dogs and Indians not allowed" right here in our own country. We can earn, live and express whatever we want. We can aspire for any achievements. We are surrounded by people of different castes and communities all caring for each other and loving each other.

Independence Day comes once in a year, but we need to acknowledge, cherish and nurture our freedom year long -- maybe by being better role models to the younger generation

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I want to wear my Nationality on my person

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/i-want-to-wear-my-nationality-on-my-person-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Four years back, just before Independence Day, I was driving down and saw an old man selling pins with small metallic National tri-colour flags for five rupees. I bought four of them, more out of pity for the elderly man braving the sun and heat in urban traffic, and started wearing them in rotation every day. For the first few days nothing happened. No one seemed to take any notice of this new appendage on my shirt. Then I started seeing curious looks. “Hey, Independence Day is long over” they said, “why the flag?” Some people even passed sarcastic remarks, “you don’t have to wear your patriotism on your chest every day”, they said. I waited for days and weeks, but I hardly ever received any positive comment or appreciative remark.

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. It is well established and accepted that you would like to announce your identity to all and sundry, and no one gives it a second thought.

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 my friends treat it either as a joke or something to be ridiculed. We can flaunt our religious beliefs, wear our caste on our forehead, but we are not comfortable with someone wearing his nationalism on his sleeve. It is not that I am a diehard or extreme patriot – but I am a proud citizen of this great country, 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.

I have now become immune to the quizzical and funny looks. As long as possible I will continue with this little crusade of mine, even if I am the only one around doing so. I know the worth of being an Indian in this free, democratic and progressive country. I need India more than India needs me. And I am looking for like-minded people to join the caravan.

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A relook at the meanings of some words

Author: Raju Thomas

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/a-relook-at-the-meanings-of-some-words-by-author-raju-thomas

There are some words which can be thought of as having slightly different interpretations than the usual dictionary meanings. I have come across a few of them, for which I would like to give the definitions as given below.

  • Intuition : The revelation one experiences from an “ Inner Tuition “ , i.e. by talking to oneself and drawing on the wisdom residing within oneself.
  • Insight : Looking inwards with an “ Inner Sight “, and getting the true answers to any problem, similar to intuition.
  • Realize : To see with “ Real Eyes “ and perceive through inner vision the true realities one faces in life.
  • Responsibility : The “ Ability to Respond “ in a positive manner, considering all (conflicting?) aspects in any situation.
  • Forgiving : A reminder that life is “ For Giving “, and not only for getting (from others).
  • Attention : A frame of mind, with an open, receptive and listening attitude, without “ A tension “ ; attention comes when tension goes.
  • Gratitude : Being thankful for everything in life, a “ Great Attitude “.
  • Independent : “ Inner dependence “ or being self dependent and confident.
  • Encourage : To instill or “ Enable Courage “ to others to do what they love to do, and not what you want them to do.
  • Impossible : Nothing is impossible, it’s just “I’m possible “ ; I can do anything that I truly believe in.
  • Team Spirit : A change from “ I “ to “ We “ , which can even change “Illness” to “Wellness”, and apathy to empathy ; a healing power of team spirit.
  • Individuality : Not just an indivisible entity of self, but an “ Indivi(sible) duality” of oneself ; an inner world and an outer world, a finite being connected to an infinite power source ( with faith acting as the power cord).

 


 

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Sorting Misunderstandings

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Today I was giving a talk on "sorting Misunderstandings" and I decided to tell something about 'preventing' misunderstandings. If we can tell periodically and regularly to those who are important in our lives, the following four words (as applicable): Love, Like, Respect, Appreciate. Tell your near and dear when and why you love them, like them, etc. Builds very strong bonds and overcomes even if there is a communication gap or misunderstanding

 

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Vividh Bharathi - Desh ki sureeli dhadkan

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/vividh-bharathi-desh-ki-sureeli-dhadkan-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

I am an old timer who is still loyal to the 70 year old Vividh Bharathi radio station 102.9 FM (they call themselves cutely “Desh ki sureeli dhadkan”). There is an unexplained joy when you check the watch and wait for the start of a favorite program. I genuinely enjoy the concept of “delayed gratification” which most of us seem to have lost in today’s era of “instant gratification.” Nowadays every song is available at the touch of a button in a moment – but what is the fun when it is so easy? On the first of every month, the first song in the morning program Bhoole Bisre Geet at 7 a.m. is “Khush hai zamana aaj pehli tareeq hai.” I don’t get a salary on the first of the month, but I relish listening to the song.

There is a charm in waiting for something, looking forward to it, and then getting it!

 

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Being more sensitive to needs of loved ones

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/being-more-sensitive-to-needs-of-loved-ones-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

In my childhood elders used to exhort us to ask for what we want, otherwise no one will know our needs. In Hindi they used to say, “Even a mother does not give milk to a child unless he starts crying.” I feel sad that we need to ask (and ask, and ask) when we want something, even from a loved one. The assertive, demanding and overbearing people always seem to get their way, while others who gently remind someone of their needs are often ignored. When we love or care for someone, why can’t we be more sensitive to their needs and wants, and give them before they ask?

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Simplicity and innocence of the people of Varanasi

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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I had been to Varanasi to conduct a series of programs, and was quite touched with the simplicity and innocence of the people of that city. They live very contented lives in their cocoons and they hold no malice against anyone. People from all over the country and of different faiths live in such harmony. There are dozens of religious sects performing their own rituals and practices, but never treading on each others’ toes. I came to know something amazing. The ghats on the banks of the great river Ganga are much cleaner now than ever before – and I learnt that the major credit goes, not to the government, but to a group of young volunteers led by a Manipuri girl Temsutula Imsong (Google her and you will know what I am talking about). I wish there are more Temsutulas in every city, and I also wish we learn to acknowledge and admire their selfless services.

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You will never forget
how they made you feel

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/you-will-never-forget-how-they-made-you-feel-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

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 as I did yesterday when an old (long forgotten) student of mine sent me such 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. It may appear to be a small gesture, but I really, really made me feel wonderful.

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Nothing remains permanent

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/nothing-remains-permanent-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Whenever someone becomes pessimistic or loses hope, starts thinking negatively, I usually ask them to look at nature. When the temperature starts rising and it looks like the days will get hotter and hotter, we suddenly get rain and it cools down (as it happened in the last two days in Bangalore). Nothing remains permanent. There is a wonderful and very simple proverb that reminds people who are going through a bad time: "This too shall pass...."

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The selfless and humble ones

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/the-selfless-and-humble-ones-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Every now and then I come across a person who seems to be very ordinary and average. Slowly I come to know that he or she has immense talents, even great achievements, and has been highly successful in some field. I have immense admiration and regard for people who are humble even when they have reason to be proud. They don’t try to impress you and gain attention. They “do what they do” (famous words of former Reserve Bank Governor Raghuram Rajan, another humble soul who willingly went back to a teaching position in USA) because they WANT to do, whether someone acknowledges them or not.

In a world full of people who spare no opportunity to blow their own trumpet, it such a pleasure to meet the selfless and humble ones, and get mesmerized as I learn more and more about their wisdom, qualities and achievements. I always look around for such people.

 

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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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