Let's Share Emotions, Thoughts


Are we suckers for punishment?

Author: Sreedhar MA (with comments by some of his friends on Facebook)

When you get a SMS/Email/FB message or any other form of written communication from someone which is critical of you, what do you do? Recently a 28 year old guy showed me a message his wife had sent to him about four days back. It was a pretty long message that was critical of his behaviour. She had sent it from her mom's place where she had gone for a short stay. “How can she write like this? After all that I have done, she blames me for everything. Ever since I got this message, I have not been peaceful. I have read it forty times and I get pissed off every time”

Image Credit: Roberto Verzo, cc-by-2, flickr.com

That set me thinking. Why do we go again and again to read the negative message? Why not delete it after reading it maybe two/three times? I can understand going again and again to read something pleasant but why the negative information? Perhaps we feel we will be getting deeper insight into others and ourselves by reading it again and again. Not really true. If you have read it two times you have it in your head. Every time you read it you will be 'imagining' nuances in it that you missed the first time almost like seeing a movie classic. You will start “reading between the lines” and the mind recollects all the old behaviour on the partners part reinforcing your current image of that person.

The brain cannot distinguish between what is real and what is imaginary and supplies us with the same feelings in both the cases.



Is moving away from a problem not a solution? Is it a sign of cowardice?

By Sreedhar MA (with comments by some of his friends on Facebook)

The on going tug-of-war between two sisters

There was constant strain between the two sisters. They could not see eye to eye on anything at all and the differences were as deep-rooted as they were long-lasting. In spite of numerous attempts by themselves as well as well-meaning parents, the differences could never be resolved. Every time they met they had bitter arguments, traumatizing each other.

Should she rather stay in than bail out of the situation?

Images Credit: (L) R'eyes, cc-by-2; (R) Ed Yourdon, cc-by-sa-2, flickr.com

When one of them met me, I asked her if she could give a break to the relationship for sometime instead of endlessly endeavoring to patch up with her sister. I asked if she could put a physical distance between them, meeting each other less frequently and making each meeting also last for a lesser time. She thought over it and tried putting what we discussed into practice. When she told a couple of others about what she was doing, they told her, “You are running away from the problem. You have to confront the problem and overcome it, not run away from it”. She came to me perplexed and that set me thinking.

Do we need to work and find a solution for every relationship that is in trouble? Can't we accept it as is and move on?



Should I let my child choose a course other than BE/B.Tech, BBM, BCA, CA, MBBS?

Author: Sreedhar MA (with comments by some of his friends on Facebook)

Story of an 8 year old Gillian fidgeting and staring out of the window in her classroom

An eight year old Gillian sat in the psychologist's office as her mother talked to the psychologist. They had been referred as the school thought that Gillian was sick, because she was having trouble sitting still in the class. She was fidgeting, disrupting the class and at times staring out of the window.

The psychiatrist told Gillian that he was leaving her in the room as he needed to talk to the mother separately. Just before leaving the room he turned on the radio and went out.

Left alone she danced which came naturally to her

Image Credit: JenelleBoyce, cc-by-2, flickr.com

The psychologist and the mother watched from outside. Left alone in the room with the music flowing, Gillian was all grace and poise as she began to dance to the music totally immersed in it, her face radiating absolute pleasure. Dance came to her naturally as reading from books might have come to other students.

At last, the psychologist turned to Gillian’s mother and said, “You know, Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn’t sick. She’s a dancer. Take her to a dance school.”

Some people have to move to think

Gillian was taken to the dance school and her reaction was, “I walked into this room, and it was full of people like me. People who couldn’t sit still. PEOPLE WHO HAD TO MOVE TO THINK." Gillian Lynne went on to become one of the world's renowned choreographer with productions like CATS and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA to her credit.

Image Credit: photoloni, cc-by-2, flickr.com

Like, Ken Robinson says in his book THE ELEMENT, "Thank God, the ADHD had not been invented at that time! Else she would have been put on medication and moulded to join the “mainstream” school."

Special cheers to the children and parents not in the 'mainstream'

Every time the crazy season of Entrance Tests ('A-Z'ET!) and admissions to colleges ends, I want to congratulate especially those parents who allowed their children complete freedom to choose their careers even if the career 'did not have prospects' was not the 'mainstream' or was not what their sisters' and brothers' children had chosen. It requires courage on the part of the child to pursue HER path even if others around do not understand it now. And it requires courage on the part of the parents to stand by their children's choices.

A few comments of Sreedhar MA's friends on his Facebook timeline are presented here for the reader's take.

Vasantha Sanath: I completely agree with you, Sreedhar. Speaking from the point of view of someone who has been there and done that, I have not done a day's work which had anything to do with what I slogged for 4 years in my life. My interest lies in writing, reading , music, talking to people...yet I was driven more by peer pressure to give up studying literature ("who wants to read about dead writers and poets anyway?") which is what I wanted to do in the first place. It's all water under the bridge now, but I agree that everyone, children and adults alike, must be given the chance to pursue their dreams, their calling in life.

Chandra Janakiraman: Ken Robinson also mentions her in his TED Talk. Thanks for sharing. We all need to be reminded of this story, now and then.

Padmashree Rao: It took 35 years and a tragedy in my life to realise what my passion is and my life is all about... And it took another 1 year to get the courage to take that step to jump into what I am happily being now... Do we as parents need to do the same thing to our children? Wait for their life to be over before they realise their passion?



Do I have the right to say whatever I want about whomsoever, wherever I like?

Author: Sreedhar MA (with comments by some of his friends on Facebook)

Recently saw some nauseating posts in my feed commenting on the weight issues of Mukesh Ambani's son. Without knowing the facts or even bothering to find them out, people go left, right and centre commenting on his weight, shape, etc. How the heck is that anyone's problem? To think that people or even children become obese only due to eating junk food is ignorance at its worst. Genetics plays such a huge part in people's weight issues and for older people hormonal changes also plays a part in the weight.

Image Credit: Global X, cc-by-2, flickr.com

Whenever someone sees a obese kid, they also conclude that the parents are doing nothing about it. How dumb is that? If it is a medical problem, it is the parents who would be deeply concerned about it. As it is, the child and the parent have to wrestle with the issues everyday; they don't need smug people on social media adding insult to injury.

Commenting on people's weight, looks, skin color, etc. in a negative light in public forums is very obnoxious.

A few comments of Sreedhar MA's friends on his Facebook timeline are presented here for the reader's take.

Kalyani Giridhara: It only proves their mental (im)maturity and low taste...wonder how someone can even 'like' those posts.

Nila Madhavan: ...lack of sensitivity and empathy?!

Suman Gurumurthy: I suppose they don't update their GK, so they don't know what Nita Ambani had to go thru' to deal with her son's weight issues. She finally won the battle of the bulge, as she worked out with her son to help him fight it. Not that it's anybody else's business.

Vasantha Sanath: Unfortunately common sense is not all that common. Why else would people make such baseless remarks and get away with it? Sensible people would know that there's more to obesity than eating junk food! But logon ka kya? Logon ka kaam hai kehna, right? Nobody gives a thought to what that boy/man must be feeling. For all the money his family has, he must be going through his own personal hell. And when people in general comment on others' looks/physical attributes, it just goes to showcase their own insecurities and inferiority complex!

Shakoo Pandit: I totally agree with Nila Madhvan - it shows absolute lack of sensitivity and empathy.

Poornima Sadananda: That's the media and public for you, revelling in the misery of others, sensationalising things and creating fodder for gossip. No one cares about feelings...in the end its all about giving an opinion.

Vasantha Sanath: and raising their TRP's!

Vasumathi Bhaskar: Yes it's obnoxious, not only in public even otherwise also! It shows that their inferiority complex or insecurity makes them create this kind of comments..!!

Ramana Murthy: Unfortunately in the name of social media and in the name of freedom today, comments are being passed on everyone without any exception. This is straightaway targeting an individual. I think one should use his or her commonsense before writing the comments.

Nagasusheela Anumolu: Open ur mind before u open ur mouth.

Sushma Hegde: I totally agree...had to deal with the 'color' issue as a child...why can't people mind their own business!

Shubha Harish: I am going to share this Sreedhar:). Dedicating this to all those superficial, fake, insensitive people who r gud at thoughtless commenting.



Does the place matter?

Author: Sreedhar MA (with comments by some of his friends on Facebook)

When we look at a picturesque setting, we begin to think that it would be great to live life in such a place. So much peace and serenity would be a part of our life. Some people have this notion that settling in such a place will give them eternal tranquility.

But how much does the place, (our locality, the city, the country) really play a part in our happiness? Very little, says the research, except in extreme conditions like prison or utter squalor. We think of places with better weather than where we are, and IMAGINE life would be better if we moved over there. People in hotter cities (Hyderabad) or sultry cities (Chennai or any coastal one) would think that moving to a cooler city like Bangalore will enhance their happiness. This is far from the truth. Because we get ADJUSTED to the new place very soon.

Image Credit: arkhip, cc-by-sa-2, flickr.com

What makes us happy is a mystery to ourselves!

I know of no person in Bangalore who gets up everyday and thanks that he is in Bangalore for the weather. Yeah, we all do it once in a while but people in every place have the same complaints and what cause unhappiness are more or less the same factors. Research by psychologists shows that we are very poor at predicting what will give us happiness. We THINK what we don't have will give us happiness and when we get it, the happiness lasts for a very short time and we are back at focusing on the next thing that might give us that elusive happiness - the eternal running on the hedonistic treadmill. One of the best indicators to see whether something will give us happiness or not is to check those who have it and see how happy they are BECAUSE of that thing we are pursuing or dreaming about. If we are thinking that owning a flat/car is what will give us unending happiness, check/observe those who have it. Are they happy because of that?

A beautiful place or a fulfilling relationship irrespective of the place or both?

Image Credit: kretyen, cc-by-2, flickr.com

Imagine yourself being in the place in the photo but not having loving and meaningful relationships. Would you be happy? What gives us true happiness is not the place but our deep connections to important people in our lives. If those connections are there, we can stay anywhere and still be happy.

H'mm...to have all those important loving meaningful connections and also to stay in a place like in the picture? Who said we can't TRY eating and having the cake?

A few comments of Sreedhar MA's friends on his Facebook timeline are presented here for the reader's take.

Poornima Sadananda: Sreedhar, don't you think its important that we make peace with ourselves first. Any kind of external gratification is otherwise temporary...a great vacation, visiting a friend or even a shopping spree. You're back to facing reality ...ALONE.

Poornima Sadananda: So if we love ourselves it becomes easy to love everything around...even the errant maid who never shows up om time.

Padmashree Rao: Well said, Poornima...and rightly said... the moment we are connected to ourselves, we are connected to our real emotion which is joy and happiness...

Mamta Shah: Of course, hapiness depends on how comfortable we are with ourselves but definitely our sorroundings and relatives make some difference in our moods. Some people and places are there in our life that make us to connect to our inner self.

Vandana Jain: You must be the master of your emotions if you wish to live in peace, for he who can control himself, becomes free. - Leon Brown

Vasantha Sanath: “Happiness”, “peace of mind”- nice to hear these words, but to be able to experience them is something else. Everything begins with self-understanding. With that comes self-acceptance and then comes making peace with our accepted selves and with those who matter to us. A place, no matter how picturesque, a house no matter how spacious and comfortable cannot calm a chaotic mind. These may at best be soothing to our souls for a short span of time. The feeling of calm has to come from within. The day one can live life without actually thinking about it and at the end of the day, get an uninterrupted 8 hours of sleep; one can consider oneself fairly happy!

Of course, breath-takingly beautiful and picturesque places such as the one in this picture can serve as temporary getaway from the humdrum of daily routine and work. We all need measured doses of appreciating nature and just being surrounded by its abundance from time to time. It can be a cathartic experience.

Nila Madhavan: I think that the eternal pursuit of happiness we all yearn for is a combination of various factors ... there are people who find it in the most adverse situations and conditions...think it is all in the individual states of mind...

Shubha Harish: Awesome writeup, Sreedhar. :) With my loved ones around, I wouldn't mind living in any part of the world. With meaningful relationships around, we actually end up falling in love with any place over a period of time. :)

Iffat Agboatwala: A place is just the setting/backdrop; lights-camera-action is possibly the scenario where happiness is the variable which again depends on a variety of factors including deep connections to important people in our lives~imho.

Rajeswari Nag: Yes, having a cake and eating it too! Why not ?!? Dreaming is our birth right?!

Chandra Janakiraman: Weekend getaways, retail therapy - so many words that have crept into our vocabulary that seemingly help us relax. I often wonder whether relaxation is overrated. I seem to have the most fun working alongside loved ones than I would probably have on a hammock in the Caribbean. Beauty of nature does feel good though. How about we work hard and create that beauty around us and better still, within us. We are part of that beautiful nature too, aren't we? ...thoughts inspired by your post. that's all. Thanks, Sreedhar!

Nazneen Shah: Hmm, Sreedhar, can't really agree with you on the being somewhere else part...but, yes, relationships make our lives beautiful and make the journey worthwhile.



Chitthee Aayi Hai (चिट्ठी आई है !) - the almost 'lost' art of letter-writing!

Author: Vasantha Sanath (with comments by some of her friends on Facebook)

We are happy to bring to you, with the permission of Vasanth Sanath, this interesting post of hers on her Facebook timeline and the ensuing comments of some of her friends.

“Chitthee aayi hai”, how sweet and full of promise and hope these words sound to the ear than “You have 3 unread mails”!! Came across this treasure trove (there’s lots and lots more in my memory box) and took a wonderful, nostalgic walk down memory lane!

The almost lost art of letter writing - Some shared thoughts, feelings

Oh, to wait for the postman to deliver the day’s mails and then scan through them all in happy anticipation of finding one with my name on it! What joy! I, for one, still cherish every letter, every little note and every card I ever received from friends and family when I was growing up. These are very special because I know that those who sent the letters and cards didn’t need to look on the right hand corner of their FB pages to know it was my birthday. They knew, they planned and went out and actually bought a card, took time to write in it (with no “undo” or “autocorrect” features to fall back on) and put it in an envelope, sealed, stamped and addressed it and walked all the way to a post box to drop it in.

Having said that, I do appreciate the need for speed in today’s world and I have resigned myself to the fact that getting an email/e-wish is better than being totally disconnected.

Still, I can hope for that special hand-written note, right? Smile Someday, someone will find the time to do so, I am sure. Until then, I shall remain eternally hopeful!

Image Credit: torbakhopper, cc-by-2, flickr.com

PS: I have to admit that I was one of those lazy ones that loved to receive letters, but never wrote replies regularly. Asha, as you said, I used to write long letters and then never got around to posting them. My friends would relentlessly write, urge me to write, plead with me to write...and then give up. But bless their hearts, they never stopped writing to me.

Comments of Vasantha Sanath's friends on her Facebook timeline

Suchitra Srinivasan: Lovely days and lovely feelings. You are so right - the best part was the anticipation. That really made my day.

Shuba Mahesh: Absolutely true! I still have the collection of greeting cards for bdays and special occasions and feel so happy to read them whenever I clean my drawers. They are always special than the reminder wishes from FB. Though I agree with the fact that this email communication only keeps us all connected in this busy world!

Asha Muralidhar: The use of inland letters, we used to write in every square inch of space. But given how I lost touch with so many of my friends pre-Orkut/FB and how easy it is to keep in touch now that some of them are back on FB, I really don't miss it. I think I was one of those who bought the stationary and wrote the letters, but never got to post them... but then, the charm of having something handwritten/hand delivered is something else...

Beena Dinesh: it is always difficult to put down your feelings...when done feels awesome too...gone are the days...

Sonia Bhatia: I also love handwritten letters with a personal touch. I actually enjoyed that letter writing activity in Banjara. I have all those letters as memories.

Sushma Hegde: So true...miss those days of writing long letters and receiving them, used to be glad when the postman uncle used to come and hand over those letters...what a pleasure to open each and every one of them...used to feel proud to see my name on the envelope...miss those days.

Krishna Ramachandran: Such a wonderful trip down memory lane!



Heard from the Heart

By Priya Muthukumar

Priya Muthu, authorAs a little girl, lying beside my grandma, under the breeze of our noisy fan, I slept listening to her stories, only to be awakened by my dreams - dreams in which crows and foxes loved vadas, vetaal and Vikram outwitted each other, Lord Karthikeya and Lord Ganesha fought over the divine mango, the crow-the jug-the stones and his thirst...the list is endless.

The stories told by a grandma are the greatest gifts she can shower on her grandchild.

Sometimes, my grandma's stories were like our TV serials - next episode, the following night!

My grandma, a strong woman herself, always made it a point to narrate a story or two about the Tamil poetess, Avvaiyar. It was mandatory for me, to repeat a few lines of Avvaiyar's verses to eventually reach the fun part of the bed-time story session which consisted of stories like The Monkey's Drum (kathi poii vaal vandhadhu dum, dum, dum... my favourite, even now!!).



The Fuss About The Mess

Priya Muthu, author‘What India really needs?’ is a question every Indian, wherever he or she is, should try to answer. Do we need another superstar? Or anti-corruption laws? Or a different set of reforms in the education sector? Well, the answers can vary from person to person. According to me, what India needs right now, is ownership! Her citizens owning her up completely, not just by saying Jai Hind or only by distributing laddoos during our Independence Day. All of us, at least sometime in our lives have complained about our bad roads, about the auto-rickshaw drivers demanding more, about the public buses not stopping at the assigned stops? If our home is in India, in other words, India is our home, can we be such silent spectators?

Irony around us
Bangalore park
Image Credit: romana klee, cc-by-sa-2.0, flickr.com

Bangalore woke up to the garbage menace recently, after things really went beyond control in Mavallipura. There were innumerable reports about how the landfills were affecting the health of the villagers living nearby, about groundwater getting polluted, etc. The State Government passed stringent laws on Solid Waste Management … or, in simple words, segregation of wastes at the source has become a must. Is ‘compulsion’ the only way to get started when it comes to certain things? - something each one of us needs to ponder upon. I was asked to take up ‘Waste Management’ as my project, by our ‘apartment association’. I attended a workshop on the same; I realised that there are like-minded people around, who are willing to give a helping hand when you ask for it. ‘Find a purpose, the means will follow’, those were Gandhiji’s words, very true and real!

For the next ten days, all my senses were awake with respect to our Waste Management sector. I gathered information on what other apartments were doing. I kept pinning up charts with pictures and questions to send a message strongly that it was not just a ‘one person’s initiative’. ‘Is Bangalore becoming a garbage city?’ was one of my favourite questions that I had put up on our notice-board.

Just a few days before implementation, the different categories of wastes were finalised. We (along with another resident in our building) worked on a chart showing the different categories of wastes. We worked on the FAQS. These were printed and distributed as leaflets to the 17 houses in our building. The following day, a Sunday, we called for an association meeting. After a couple of reminders, people started trickling in, finally we started the ‘awareness programme’ with 10-12 people. The lukewarm response did demotivate me.. but my passion drove me. I was falling in love with garbage!

Garbage Cans
Image Credit: epSos.de, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

I started with sufficient context, building about why we needed to do the segregation. I believe when one is convinced that he is doing it for himself and not because somebody has imposed it or it has been enforced ... the tempo remains the same, the momentum remains unaltered (I learnt this from children!). I spoke about how consumeristic we have become, we use a ‘use-n-throw’ pen every now and then rather than buying a refill. Has affordability made us numb and insensitive? With abundance in play, what exactly is then valuable to us?

Our discussion left many with a jolt and made many others go back to their sleep (I’m just being honest here!). The different bins were purchased, names were written … things have started rolling. Slowly, people especially women are appreciating the move and expressing their interest and involvement in similar issues. This, I believe is what India needs … many of her citizens, her children owning her up!

As Chetan Bhagat says, “We love our India, but shouldn’t some things be different?’’ Coming together and being a part… not just in the progress and growth of our country, but also in the muck and in the mess.

Looks like we (my apartment friends) are all on the same page ... my heart desires to keep this alive. My daughter has been asked to do a presentation on SWM for the kids here. Oh, the kids are super excited to see the huge blue bins lined up here! Every time somebody dumps their garbage, the kids come running to see with excitement-laden eyes! Probably young India is waiting for this!!

It’s time we ceased to Fuss about any Mess, it’s time we sorted out the mess!

Priya Muthukumar

Read Reach - A Tibetan's Story by the same author.



I am a proud Tibetan.

Why am I in India and what am I doing here?

Priya Muthu, authorDominic Pou. Well, that’s my name. I am a proud Tibetan. I love the mountains, the trees, the wonderful breeze … everything that spells Tibet to me. Then you may ask why I am doing what I’m doing now … which is stealthily crossing the border. We are (yes, there are so many with me) on our way to India. For many of us, it is the place to stay which the Indian Government has offered, for some, it’s the peace of mind ... for some, it’s life! For me, the young and the handsome one, it is my Bollywood dreams!

I am a proud Tibetan.
Image Credit: SFTHQ, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

Small inconveniences for an upcoming star!

It’s 3.00 a.m and the bus comes to a screeching halt. We are ushered from the bus to a tiny shack. The smell of the place is nauseating, the sight of the place is repelling - ’small inconveniences for an upcoming star’, I tell myself. My mind yells in desperation, as I stand there waiting for my brother to come. Angry that he had kept me waiting, I decide to leave, trusting the small piece of paper which had Bhaiyya’s address. Insensitive to the child crying for food, not bothered by the man trying to get a signal on his mobile phone, I leave the dirty, chaotic place! I have Rs. 2000/- in my pocket, my mother’s savings which I had managed to acquire (‘grab’ is also another word).

Finally, I reach Bhaiyya’s house. He will take me to Mumbai, the place where superstars are made!

Taste of disappointment for the first time!

Disappointment, I taste it for the first time. Bhaiyya had left for work. What work? It was a tiny hut, cleaned and well-kept with not many things – a rope-woven cot, a pillow, a suitcase with few clothes. What work? Where does he go to work? Tired, in a way helpless, I doze off.

The mosquito bites and the ‘tring, tring’ from the cycle woke me up. Oh, it was not a cycle, it was a tricycle. It was Bhaiyya on a tricycle loaded with garbage in a huge plastic bag. I was shocked, I know that we are struggling to make ends meet, but my brother cannot be collecting garbage - technically speaking, he is a ‘rag-picker’!

Dirty? Who cares, I focus on my Bollywood dreams.

He disembarked from his vehicle, I hope he does not hug me, he must be dirty. I’m sure he must be smelling of rotten food. Bhaiyya understood this, he stood away from me as we exchanged pleasantaries. How I detest those moments even now!

He bought me a plate of dosa from a nearby hotel. I made sure he did not sit very close to me. Bhaiyya told me how he felt choiceless when he had come here to Bengaluru … the reason behind him going around to collect people’s garbage! Anyway, who cares, let me focus on my Bollywood dreams.

Carefree days and dreams

I kept roaming around, enjoying the place, befriending the Panipuri fellow and trying to charm the neighbourhood girls; after all, I was star material, you know!

The malls, the parks, the supermarkets of Bengaluru were no match for the enigmatic mountains and whispering breeze of my hometown! Strange but true, the love for my hometown overwhelms me, despite my ambitious Bollywood dreams.

Love for my dirty brother

Just the day before we were to leave for Mumbai, Bhaiyya fell sick. My Romeo act came to a standstill. Bhaiyya pleaded with me - I had to do his work for that day, just one day. I said ‘yes’. I hated it ... again my love for my dirty bhaiyya, took me by surprise!

'My area will be not be very dirty, so there won’t be much to collect', I told myself. Bhaiyya told me to collect only paper, plastic, metal - I mean sukka (dry) wastes, so it would be easy! I went to the first apartment and emptied their bin. Nonchalantly when I was whistling my way back, I heard an authoritative voice, ‘Ay, come and clear our wastes too! Useless fellow!‘ Why are they so rude, are they like this to Bhaiyya too?

Sorting trash
trash clean
Image Credit: Wei Tchou, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

My next stop. I couldn’t find paper or plastic, they were all mixed. The security guard of the apartment refused to help me. My hands, my clean hands, I put them into the bin – yuck, I had to touch a soiled sanitary napkin, a smelly diaper stuck with rotting fruits and vegetables!! 'Only today, I‘ll never do it again', I told myself.

With a huge sigh of relief, I left that apartment. I had come from my mystic hometown to do this here? My respect for my brother grew, my disgust for all those who throw their garbage and forget about it, grew even more.

From the land of untouched nature

My tiring day came to an end. The image of the mountains kept appearing in my mind. Coming from the land of untouched nature, I realized the love for nature, still remained in me. This love, in a way validated what I had done today, what my brother has been doing everyday! I sat there, in silence, next to him.

Priya Muthukumar

Read The fuss about the mess by the same author.



Learning to face DEATH

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/facing-death-is-a-vital-life-skill-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Learning to face death

In today’s world of instant communication we can reach out to anyone anywhere with the touch of a button. We get impatient if a phone is unreachable or if we don’t get a reply to our sms instantly. We want to update our ‘status’ on Facebook regularly so that our ‘friends’ know what we are doing every moment. We expect immediate and continuous communication from those we love or care for.

One breakdown of communication, death, is what it was even a thousand years ago – irreversible. What happens when your phone or Internet just cannot reach your beloved, who has passed on beyond this world?

We have all heard the proverb “nothing is certain except death.” Even this proverb we don’t remind ourselves too often – because death is one topic that we would rather not talk about. There are people who almost believe that talking about death hastens its arrival! Knowing that it is 100% guaranteed, is it not better to prepare oneself both mentally and physically for our own death and for the death of a loved one?

Having seen innumerable people breaking down miserably on bereavement, having observed families being broken apart on the death of a patriarch who did not leave a Will, I am a strong believer that Facing Death should be taken up as a vital life skill which should be taught to children, adults and the elderly. If it cannot be done in an organized way, we can certainly do it individually over a period of time.

About the author



Younger Generation Today in Retrospect

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/younger-generation-today-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Younger Generation Today in Retrospect

It has been a habit of every elder generation to accuse the younger one of low morals, frivolous behavior and bad habits. Even 2,500 years ago a famous Greek philosopher had lamented that children of TODAY have lost their morals … (etc.)

I have immense faith in the young generation of today. I feel they are far better than what we were at their age. It is just that since they have much wider opportunities to live life the way they want to, and there is so much media exposure, hence they appear to be very visibly different – and even “immoral” as some elders would love to label them.

Since a year or so I have been asking a question to every student who comes for career guidance: “If you had 2 crore rupees, what would you do with it?” It is amazing (and very heartening) to note that more than 90% of the youngsters mention that they will give away at least a part of it in charity. Some even want to give away the whole amount. How many adults do you think will do so?

I feel there is so much we can learn from young people of today – from new fangled gadgets, to being pro-active, out-of-the box thinking, and even some lessons in human behavior. It is just that we need to be ready to open our minds, interact, and start relearning.

By Ali Khwaja



Only a dream

The month of June it was,
The cold night air filled with the scent of rain,
You took my hand in yours as we walked down Carlton lane.
The pitter patter of the rain drops,
The flash of lightning in the sky,
You handed me a flower,
While I gazed into those eyes…
The eyes that showed kindness, filled with emotion and love.
The hand that gave warmth with the silent message, "I will always be there…"
The smile that portrayed the contentment of the heart.
You were the answer to my prayer.
You walked me home and at the gate you said, "You’re more than I ever dreamed of…"
"I love you ", said I, "Always have and always will…"
And we parted knowing the love we share would help us weather the storms,
And all our dreams fulfill.
With a light head and a happy heart - there was I dancing in the rain,
Smiling, laughing and embracing the moment -

On a rainy day - The hand that gave warmth with the silent message "I will always be there..."
Image Credit: eflon, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

Till a loud shrill rattled my brain…
I open my eyes and look at the window
Where the gentle rays of sunlight come gushing in,
Those feelings of a happy heart,
That dance in the rain,
The safety of my hand in yours,
Are all replaced by pain.
The assurance and your promise to be there seemed so far away…
All that’s left are happy memories.
Memories that bring my life to a pause.
Maybe what hurts is that I’m no longer enough…
But at one point I was.

It was only a Dream.
But if I could dream, I’d like to everyday,
'cause even if I’ve let go,
I’d like to carry a part of us in my heart,
Always. In some way.

Nidhiya D. Mutunayagam

(You can share this poem as a beautiful poster from Facebook by clicking on the link here: http://j.mp/fb-only-a-dream.)

It was only a dream ... but I'd like to carry a part of us in my heart...
Image Credit: Www.CourtneyCarmody.com, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com


Managing Anger

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/do-not-suppress-anger-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Managing Anger
Image Credit: SFBayMedia, flickr.com, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

Faced with an anger situation

  • Become aware you are getting angry
  • Leave the place
  • Count to ten (or more)
  • Ask a clarifying question
  • Repeat your favourite mantra
  • Do deep breathing or wash your face
  • Involve third person in conversation
  • Try writing the number ‘8’ or the letter ‘s’ very lightly and repeatedly. See if you can write without pressing the nib hard

To bring down your anger levels in general

  • Yoga (shavasana etc.)
  • Abdominal breathing
  • Meditation
  • Vigorous activity (which you enjoy) involving both mind and body
  • Introspection (after each episode)
  • Tratak (focus on stationary object)
  • Diet
  • Forgiveness

This is only a representative list. It is necessary for you to try out, experiment, and take up on regular basis those activities that truly suit you and you are comfortable with. Never force yourself to do something just because others recommend it.


About the author



Diversity of Human Nature

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/diversity-of-human-nature-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

A very dear friend of mine lost her husband after decades of togetherness and years of looking after him through old age and sickness. In her sunset years she had reconciled to a life of spirituality and social work, living comfortably in her own house. She had allowed some relatives to live free of cost in another house that she and her husband owned. She was vaguely thinking of gifting the house away to them when she received a shock that they are making efforts to grab the property clandestinely.

nice person
Image Credit: Ramana Murthy MV, RM on Facebook

Being a very compassionate person and very peace loving, she did not want to fight a legal battle, but many of her friends convinced her that she should not allow such greedy people to get away with their crime. Reluctantly she filed a court case, followed it up for years, and won her property and its possession back.

She was not happy with her victory. She was left with sadness that people who could have just asked her and perhaps she would have given it to them, had such cruel minds to try and usurp something that was not theirs at all. Imagine her large-heartedness - one day thinking aloud she said, You know, I still feel like giving it away to them, they are not very rich!

Such is the diversity of human nature. When we see extremes of human behavior, the good and the bad, we marvel at the variety and surprises that life offers us. The redeeming factor is that most of the greedy people are balanced by the utterly selfless and generous ones. It is up to us to identify, acknowledge and appreciate them.

About the author

human characters
Image Credit b/w: Nelson Felix Giga, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com

Page 44 of 48


FREE Online Psychological Counselling by Banjara Academy for anyone, anywhere in the world FREE online counselling for the depressed

  • Are you stressed about your child?
  • Is your marriage in trouble?
  • Are you stressed about your education?
  • Do you feel overwhelmed by anxiety and fear?

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


This website was initially conceived and designed by the late Sitaram N
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Except where otherwise noted, the Content of the Website of Banjara Academy - the text, the audios, the videos, the images - contributed by Dr Ali Khwaja and his team of volunteers at Banjara Academy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.