Let's Share Emotions, Thoughts


Every language has a beauty of its own

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Every language has a beauty of its own. The other day a friend told me that he is missing me because I was not around. I spontaneously asked him how he would say the same thing in his mother tongue – and he was stumped! We often say that we are “remembering you” in our language, but it is not the same as “missing you.” Similarly, I find people struggling to say “I love you” in their mother tongue.

On the flip side I can reel out so many words and phrases that are so touching and are commonly used in Indian languages, which do not have an equivalent in English. Can we not assimilate all the good things from each language and use them in our day to day conversation?

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Good Old Bengaluru !"

Author: E.R. Ramachandran

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Bangalore in the 1950s and '60s was still a Pensioners' Paradise and very much a sleepy town. It was mostly divided into “City” and “Cantonment” with Basavanagudi and Malleshwaram the best known among its residential areas. Jayanagar and its famous mosquitoes had not made their debut yet.

The City Market was really a conglomeration of various petes—Chikkapete, Balepete, Tharugupete, Akkipete, Cottonpete—holding the business community. Dandu, or Cantonment ('Contrumentru' as the villagers would call it) was still a very far off place for most Bangaloreans. Almost as far as London itself.

One got a fair idea of the City when one used BTS, or Bangalore Transport Service to give its full name (“Bittre Tiruga Sigodilla”, was the other full form). 50 years ago, the only other modes of transport for a common man were the Jataka Gaadi (horse driven covered cart) or nataraja service— local lingo for footing it out. The word 'autorickshaw' had yet to enter the lexicon, the contraption was yet to invade our roads.

Bangalore looked almost empty during the day as most of the eligible science and engineering graduates or diploma holders were herded into buses at the unearthly hour of 6.30 in the morning and ferried to HAL, HMT, BEL, LRDE, ITI, NGEF, Kirloskar, BEML, etc. The city suddenly perked up after the factory hands returned to their favorite haunts like Yagnappana Hotlu opposite National High School grounds or Bhattra Hotlu in Gandhi bazaar for the mandatory 'Three-by-Four Masale' or 'Two-by-three coffee' in the evenings.

The Sajjan Rao temple and choultry by the same name was much sought after for society weddings. The Satyanarayana Temple came much later as politicians became more and more crooked. Kota Kamakshayya choultry was opposite to the best bakery in Bangalore and may be the whole of south India, the V.B. Bakery.

After passing Modern Hotel and New Modern hotel where the whiff of SKC —sweetu, khara, coffee hit your nostrils, was the stop opposite Minerva talkies, which in those days mostly showed Tamil pictures for three shows and wore a culturally superior hat with Bengali movies and that too only Satyajit Ray for the morning shows! A 200 meters dash from Minerva took you to Mavalli Tifn Rooms (MTR) in a dingy lane, which morphed into MTR as one of the best eateries in town.

Kannada lms were nonexistent or a rarity those days. Except for an occasional 'Bedara Kannappa', 'Sadarame', 'Rathagiri Rahasya' (the song 'Amara Madhura Prema' was a craze) or 'School Master', it was all Sivaji Ganesan and M.G. Ramachandran (MGR) who ruled the silver screen.

Kengal Hanumanthaiah was seen often here before he started planning the construction of Vidhana Soudha. Much later, those who helped God to do his work went to Vidhana Soudha; they are still partners in His unnished business.

Behind Central College was the Central College cricket grounds which hosted all the international matches as well as the Ranji matches. It was here that a ball from the fearsome Roy Gilchrist hit A . S . Krishnaswamy on his chest and ew off to the boundary. Col C.K. Nayudu played here when he was past 70 along with his brother C.S. Nayudu and so did Lala Amarnath. Central Colleges grounds was the place all the Test cricketers from Mysore/ Karnataka cut their teeth playing State 'B' Ramachandra Rao shield, Rohington Baria Cup for Universities, and nally the Ranji Trophy.



The New Year – time for celebration

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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The New Year – time for celebration and to welcome fresh joys and hope for better life. People celebrate enthusiastically, greet each other, dance, eat and go on shopping sprees.

I lie down and quietly think. I don’t make resolutions for the New Year. I introspect on the old year. I have always been concerned about how we discard anything old, particularly in today’s world of Use and Throw. I rarely throw away old stuff. Similarly I don’t throw away the old year. I introspect what I have achieved, the mistakes I have made, the time I have frittered away, and the time when I have ignored or hurt someone. It automatically helps me to prepare and change for the next year.

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Ancient Aviator Anecdote

Republic Day Flypasts

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

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This piece brings to mind the Republic Day ypasts in which I had actively participated in the rst two decades after we became a republic. The spectators, thronging both sides of Rajpath in New Delhi, saw only the impeccable position-keeping of up to 64 aircraft (ac) ying in 16 boxes of 4 ac each. We iers heard no applause nor saw anything other than the ac we were formatting on and remained almost 'frozen' in position till far out of sight past India Gate.

The preparations for the R-Day ypast commences immediately in the new year and involves a great deal of planning / co- ordination / rehearsals. The composition of the ypast grew rapidly into a mix of rotary / xed-wing, piston / jet, single / twin-engined and transport / ghter blocks of ac from a number of squadrons operating from several bases. These blocks were required to join up at the RV point and, orbiting like an airborne snake, uncoil itself into a mile-long straight line by the run-in point marked by smoke candles to align the ypast with the dome of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

My very rst R-Day ypast was in a Vampire in 1954 followed by one in a Toofani. In the early 1960s a certain Group Captain commanding an air force station (who shall remain nameless), decided to lead the block himself in a Hunter 66 Trainer ac with the other seat occupied by a navigator. On the rst rehearsal the visibility west of Delhi was poor and he missed both the smoke candle(s) and Rajpath! The embarrassing debrief that followed was not in any way helped by some humorist who claimed that the station commander concerned had received a message from the station master Sonepat railway station thanking him for the ypast!

The presence of birds was a continuing ight safety hazard. It took its toll the next year when a Mg-21 ac, ying just behind us in the supersonic block, ingested a bird into its engine which amed out. The pilot, a young Flying Ofcer, very smartly pulled clear and ejected safely a bare minute before Rashtrapati Bhavan. The ypast went through as planned and we only learned about the ejection after we landed back at base.

In the mid - 1970s I was instructed to join ve other gallantry awardees from the other two services as the MoD had decided to 'showcase' some of the Indian war heroes as part of the R- Day parade. It was my rst opportunity to actually observe the function, seated 'to attention' in an open jeep. On one rehearsal, just after passing the saluting base, our jeep broke down. Fortunately the media personnel present were slow to spot / report on three middle-aged, senior ofcers pushing the vehicle to one side and then hot-footing it across the lawns to CV Mess in search of (liquid) refreshment! For the next rehearsal we found that a standby jeep was now added to our tiny convoy of two!

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



The Fork and Spoon

Author: Clifford Martis

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Most of us eat our food with our hands. But many others use the fork and the spoon. Many animals also eat their food with their hands. For example, the monkeys, squirrel and so on. But a majority of the animals eat directly with their mouths without using fork and spoon or other implements. In spite of being blessed with hands many people use various kinds of instruments like the fork and spoon, chopsticks etc

On one occasion an Indian family invited a British gentleman for lunch. As the food was ready the host said, “Would you like to wash your hands please” “Why should I wash my hands? I think it is only dirty people who need to wash their hands” said the guest. It is then that the host realized that he should provide fork and spoon to the guest.

The way the fork and spoon are held and kept near the plate before the meals and after the meals are interesting. When a person has eaten something and wishes to eat more he keeps the fork and spoon looking downwards. When he has nished his meal or does not wish to eat more then he keeps the fork and spoon looking upwards. This is a bit funny because fork and spoon kept looking upwards may indicate a desire to eat more.

Sometimes a third item joins the fork and the spoon. That is the knife. The knife is required to cut pieces of meat and other food items. One uses the fork to hold the piece of meat in position and cuts it with the help of the knife. On one occasion I tried to cut the piece of meat. It was a tough piece. As I struggled the piece of meat ew into the plate of a lady guest seated opposite.

The Fork and Spoon

Sometimes people are served special dishes known as masala dosa etc and the restaurant provides fork and spoon along with the dish. But to eat a dish like masala dosa with the help of fork and spoon would be a herculean task. So many people keep the fork and spoon aside and relish the dish with the help of their naked hands.

There is a story of a missionary who was caught by a cannibal in a deep forest. As the cannibal prepared to eat the missionary he asked whether he had any last wish. He asked the question in Queen's English. When the missionary was surprised the cannibal said, “I studied at Oxford” “And you are still a cannibal?” The cannibal replied “Yes. But now I use a fork and spoon”.



Living with Nature and Trees"

Author: C S Vincent

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Hello friends! Shall we resume our discussion on nature and trees? As we concluded in our last session, let us take up some particular trees, in this and future sessions. What shall we take today.... The Mango tree? I am sure it will make a good beginning. This species has a Hindu religious background also. That is why mango leaves are tied above the door during poojas /ceremonies. While all of us have seen and eaten mangoes raw, fruit cooked or pickled) some may not have seen a mango. No matter. Can any one of you tell me how many varieties of mango exist? Very many? Yes, a good guess. If I give the answer it may be a shock. There are almost a thousand varieties, but in different countries as per the recording of Mr. Pippa Mukherjee in his book 'Trees of India.' In our country we see only about a dozen varieties like the alphonso, malgoa neelam, bangalura, apoos, rumani etc.

Coming to the nutrition side we may come across some people saying/ believing that mango is unhealthy or 'heaty'. This is very untrue. Actually mangoes give us vitamins. Raw mangoes contain Vit C and the ripe fruit is rich in caratin. Mango pickles are in no way lagging behind since they help us eat our food with relish. One more thing can be said in favor of the mango i.e. every part of the tree has medicinal value. A popular home remedy for stomach disorders is a stew made with dry mango seeds. The vitamins contained in the product of the tree give us good health. Even the gum that comes out of the bark is used in some medicines. It is said that the mere chewing of the mango leaf will strength the teeth/gums. Even the bark of the root of the tree is used in the processing of some medicines.

The timber of the mango tree has also its own importance. It is used in making furniture. The seed is used in shipbuilding also.

Mango fruit is also an Export item. Phillipines produces mangoes in abundance and exports about 6000 tonnes/annually to countries like Living with Nature and Trees Canada, Japan, Hong-Kong etc. and earns foreign exchange. Even though India produces 62% of the world production our exports are not appreciable. This export avenue should be taken advantage since our production of mango exceeds tea which is only 50% and we export it.

Mango trees are huge and so don't t in homes. To remedy the above drawback our scientists have developed some strains by grafting. Such trees are small and can be grown in the backyards. A research institute in Paiyur in Dharmapuri district is constantly working on this project. It was reported in the media that a farmer in U.P. is harvesting about 30 varieties of mangoes from a single tree by grafting. Perhaps he has entered the Guiness book of records!



Mobile Phones - The Attachments of Human Beings

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Mobile phones have literally become attachments of most human beings. From teenagers to the elderly, I yearn to see people who are not on mobile, either talking or texting or watching something. The amount of time spent with the mobile is mind-boggling.

I am one of the very people left over who does not have a mobile. But that does not mean I am not reachable. I have a pager where anyone can send me a text message, and if it urgent, I call them back immediately from the nearest available phone. If it is just a message, I read it at my convenience and implement anything that is needed. I have a tip to you Mobilers – when you wish to convey something to someone, try using text messages instead of making a phone call. See how much time it saves.

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Who are we?

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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

Who are we?

People often ask us whether we are an NGO or a commercial organization. They bluntly question whether we have a vested interest in doing free counselling. They want to know if we are propagating a religion or a cult, or if we are clandestinely funded by some rich foreigners with shady motives. The answer to all of the above is a vehement No.

What we are cannot be defined in a conventional sense. Yes, we do provide free counselling. We never turn anyone away. We get perhaps 10-30 people walking in every day, half as many phone calls, and more than 50-80 emails per week. We attend to all of them to the best of our ability.

We organize two free lectures on all aspects of human behaviour every month. We encourage our students to take up independently any business offers that come to us. We give guidance and hand- holding to anyone who wishes to work in the field of improving or enriching quality of life.

We invite, nurture & encourage hundreds of volunteers to serve in different ways as per their convenience & area of interest. We offer our retreat Manthan at cost price to anyone working for a cause. We lend our training hall to anyone wanting to have a meaningful gathering/lecture or workshop.

More than anything else, we welcome anyone who walks in, if possible offer a cup of tea, definitely offer our emotional support or friendship... and we allow them to walk away into their own world to seek their own path. A few of them do send us their thanks.

Can someone tell us what or who we are?

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We grow human beings

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/we-grow-human-beings-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

We grow human beings

If you see a plant nursery, you will only see tiny saplings. As soon as the little plant starts growing, it is transplanted in someone else’s pot or garden, and it continues its growth there, with the new owners getting the flowers, fruits or shade.

Banjara is a human nursery. We plant the seeds of self-awareness, wider and more meaningful thinking, identifying talent and goals. We nurture the thoughts and ideas in people’s minds. Then, as the eagle does in pushing out its eaglets from its nest, we give a gentle nudge, and allow people to soar in the wide blue skies – choosing which direction to fly towards, and at the speed each individual decides.

We counsel people pro bono for emotional and developmental issues. We guide students for careers by professional aptitude testing. We also play with the little ones and assess them for psycho-academic needs. We train people from all walks of life and all ages to become effective counsellors. We spread out in 10 different hospitals and help and support patients and care-givers.

We take joy in seeing each unique individual flying out of our little nest, and we provide warmth for the next egg to hatch.

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Learning from Penguins

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/learning-from-penguins

I took my seven year old son to a marine life educational and entertainment park for the day. We went to the killer whale show, the dolphin show, and nally the penguin show. The penguin's name was Fat Freddie. He did amazing things. He jumped off a twenty -foot diving board; he bowled with his nose; he counted with his ippers; he even jumped through a hoop of re. I had my arm around my son, enjoying the show, when the trainer asked Freddie to get something. Freddie went and got it, and brought it right back. I thought, "Hey, I ask my son to get something for me, and he wants to have a discussion with me for twenty minutes, and then he doesn't want to do it!" I knew my son was smarter than this penguin.

I went up to the trainer afterward and asked, "How did you get Freddie to do all these really neat things?" The trainer looked at my son and then she looked at me and said, "Unlike parents, whenever Freddie does anything like what I want him to do, I notice him! I give him a hug, and I give him a sh." The light went on in my head. Whenever my son DID what I wanted him to do, I paid little attention to him, because I was a busy person. However when he DIDN' T do what I wanted him to do, I gave him a lot of attention because I didn't want to raise a bad kid! I was inadvertently teaching him to be a little monster in order to get my attention. Since that day, I have tried hard to notice my son's good acts and fair attempts (although I don't toss him a sh, since he doesn't care for them) and to downplay the mistakes. We're both better people for it.



Jungle Book with a Difference

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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Jungle Book with a Difference

Aditya Ganesh grew up in a very liberal environment. Though his father is into international finance and his mother worked in the corporate sector for a while, they always allowed him to explore and learn on his own. Shifting at an early age from Mumbai to the ‘green’ city of Bangalore gave him ample opportunities to get closer to nature.

Animals always fascinated him since childhood, and he inevitably looked for activities concerned with the outdoors and with animals. He become a member of ‘Friends of Elephants’, he volunteered with ‘People for Animals’ and kept looking around for opportunities to be with wildlife. In his 11th and 12th these activities took a back seat since, like innumerable others, he was asked to prepare for engineering or medicine, and his grades actually went down for the first time since he could not connect with those careers. After 12th he got back to his first love, and took up B.Sc. with Zoology in a reputed University. Even when others were questioning why he did not take up engineering or medicine when he had good grades, he himself did not have any doubts or regrets. Luckily his parents supported him fully. Studying Zoology brought many things in better perspective for him, and he actually become one of the toppers in his university. He kept attending many camps and involved himself in activities concerned with the outdoors and nature.

On graduating he wanted to get into a prestigious all-India organization for his Masters but just missed getting selected. Since he did not want to get into a mediocre course just for the sake of getting a Masters degree, he considered the rejection as a blessing in disguise, because he could look wider with freedom. He took a gap year, which was not the ‘done’ thing, but he was not scared what his future will be – and once again he was supported by his parents. He dived into various activities. He went to Kochi as part of a team that was studying dolphins. He made a breakthrough with a couple of reputed professors of the National Institute of Advanced Studies (NIAS), who encouraged him to help out in research work. For 8 months he meticulously studied the behavior of fresh water fish in lab conditions, feeding them and observing them closely. Subsequently he was selected by the well-known Prof. Anindya Sinha to go to Chennai and study the natural behavior of street dogs in their own habitat, without disturbing them. He was oblivious of the summer heat as he spent hours taking notes about behavior patterns of the street dogs, each of whom he gave a nick-name.

He has now moved on to Netherlands having obtained admission in a prestigious European university for a Masters in Ecology and Evolution, which he feels is tailor made for him. He wants to secure his academic status by studying animals in depth and eventually get into sustainable sciences. He is not particular what and how he will achieve, how much he will earn, but he is sure his life is on the right track.

He recollects some fascinating incidents from his unusual life path: He was selected for an Elephant census which was conducted unofficially and was to be completed over 3 days. The first 2 days there was no sighting of any animals at all, and his team kept trudging to exhaustion in the jungles. In the last half an hour of his last day he saw not only 30 wild elephants but also a leopard. This “unpredictability of the forest” is what fascinates him.

He has had occasion to rescue distressed animals in the most unexpected of places: he found an owlet on the tin roof of a shed, too young to fly properly, and exposed to predators. Aditya recalls how he had to walk gingerly on the roof of the shed and quickly pullout the little fellow. On another day he found that a snake had gone down the pipe of a public urinal and was stuck. Needless to say, with Aditya’s rescue the reptile is happily roaming around somewhere in the jungle right now. He also found a rare Golden Oriole bird in the campus of Christ University. It was incapacitated due to resin from flowering trees which had stuck its wings shut. Aditya had to heat up water to apply to the wings and melt the resin, so that the little bird could fly free again.

Working without stress, enjoying every day and every experience of his life, Aditya is happy being on his own, befriending four legged creatures who get fascinated with him (some are seen to fall in love and drool when he is around), and is happily walking literally on an un-trodden path, merging into nature and giving back to it in some way or the other the innumerable blessings that nature gives us but many of us take for granted.

He is also very clear that wherever he may go for learning, he wants to definitely come back to India, because he believes that this is the country that worships nature and its creatures will welcome him back with open arms.

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And I Fell in Love Again...

Author: Asma Ansari

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/and-i-fell-in-love-again-by-asma-ansari

Dear Asma,

I don't need owers or chocolates to tell you how much I adore you. Nor do I need any emoticons to express how I feel or fancy quotes to let you know what I want to say.

I want you to know that I love the gleam in your eyes when you talk about things you love, the way you fumble and stammer when overwhelmed, and the way you awkwardly burst into laughter while attempting your best to stay upset. I admire your courage to be yourself and to refuse trading your authenticity for validation, your willingness to forgive and love even after being hurt, and the grace with which you move on when estranged. I absolutely cherish the ery little rebel within you that surfaces from time to time. And I love the feeling when I believe I've nally gured you out, and you surprise me with something entirely new.

I want you to know that I'm grateful, grateful for everything you've ever done for me. It was your faith and optimism that helped me breathe through all the difculties and survive the darkest days. It was your belief in me that kept me going. Thank you for being there, for being honest, for wiping my tears, for making me endless cups of tea and for reading books to me that soothed my nerves. Every time life seemed like a puzzle, thank you for helping me put back the pieces of that puzzle to create something meaningful.

I want you to know that you matter, a lot more than you think. And on one of those days when you feel invisible I see you. Yes I see you, and when I hear you say, “Nobody cares!” I want you to know I'm that 'nobody', who always loves and cares, no matter what, and will always do.

When you stand in front of the mirror studying your reection, you merely see those deep brown eyes, a close match to the hues of rich soil in those locks of wavy hair and a mole on the cheek, but you're much more than a reection. You're the love you have given, 2 challenges you've overcome, lives you've touched, joy you've brought and much more. Please believe this!

I want you to know that when you look at me from the other side of the mirror and smile, it seems to radiate a warm glow that lls the pit within my heart I never knew existed. And I just know that I'm falling in love yet again, and this time truly, unfeignedly, wholeheartedly. Love, Your 'self'



Christmas - A Spirit of Love and Sharing

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/christmas-a-spirit-of-love-and-sharing-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Christmas brings a spirit of love and sharing to many of us irrespective of our faith. Today I was introspecting why many people prefer to be loved rather than to love. Fine, that is their choice. I have seen over the years and decades that it is not easy to receive love from the right person at the right time and in the right form, but I also see some people quite determined to make all efforts to receive, cherish and treasure that love. Some others do not get what they want, and spend days and years craving for that elusive warmth of knowing that they are lovable.

Taking it one more step forward, I see people who are receiving warm, caring and genuine love from someone they love too. But among these are there some who are still not happy. They want EXCLUSIVE love. It is not sufficient that the person is showering affection in different ways and consistently. They start comparing whether the person is giving love to someone else too…. and if yes, they become unhappy. They lose the value of the love they are receiving, and make themselves miserable trying to ensure that they are the ONLY recipient of that person’s love. I often wonder if it is a sign of deep inner insecurity and incompleteness in oneself.

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Children Deserve Better

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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

Children Deserve Better

Children are born with an innate curiosity, their life is an endless stream of exploration, adventure , variety, activity and movement. But unlike most other animals, humans suppress and restrict their children. Their lives are made a daily routine of rules, study, regulations, study, discipline, study, scolding, study. It is said that we spend the rst eighteen months of a child teaching him how to talk, and the next eighteen years telling him to Shut Up!

In formative years the worst posture of a human is sitting on a chair – but that is what children are made to do the whole day. Curiosity is brutally suppressed, any form of physical or intellectual activity is constantly restricted. Running around, working with hands, creating something new, exploring the world around them is constantly frowned upon.

More so the children growing up in metropolitan cities. Their lives are worse than that of zoo animals who live in cages (at least with an open view). The 2-BHK 'home' if lucky, has a couple of windows with safety bars, curtains pulled tight, and maybe even air conditioners keeping the natural breeze out. Running in the house results in breaking delicate showpieces and invites punishment. Questioning adults gets strong reprimand of 'give respect.’

Games and sports are 'extra-curricular' subjects for the lucky children whose schools have open grounds – and they are few and far between. A child happily coming back with a shield or cup in sports is immediately reminded that his unit test is coming up. Side roads that used to be improvised playgrounds now have buzzing trafc all day long.

There is no doubt that a sound mind and sound body are interconnected and they complement each other. Yet in the name of intellectual growth (read “by-heart” mugging up) all other activities are put on the back burner. Children are deprived of learning life skills through team work, decision making, conict handling, leadership, managing emotions and stress, creative thinking that arise from sports, athletics and games. What a generation of children we are producing.....

We must remain as close to the owers, the grass, and the butteries as the child is who is not yet so much taller than they are. We adults, on the other hand, have outgrown them and have to lower ourselves to stoop down to them. It seems to me that the grass hates us when we confess our love for it. Whoever would partake of all good things must understand how to be small at times.- Friedrich Nietzsche

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Page 6 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


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