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The Future

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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

The future

We spend less than Rs. 80,000 crore annually on education in our country, which works out to about Rs. 640/- per Indian. On the other hand much bigger amounts are spent on other areas of development. For example we pour in Rs. 3,60,000 crore annually for defence alone. A recent announcement was made that we are going to spend Rs. 1,10,000 crore for the Japan-collaboration bullet train from Mumbai to Ahmedabad.

It is said that a nation or society that progresses most is the one that takes deepest interest in the welfare and development of the next generation. If we could ensure that we are putting in more effort towards the well-being and proper growth of our children, we can look forward to a peaceful and happy old age.

The future

Mrs. Sunanda Ali, who heads the unique Peepal Grove School in rural Andhra Pradesh has well said:

“Children do not need to be prepared for the future. They are the future.”

What are we doing about it?

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Creative ideas come in bed, bath and bus

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/creative-ideas-come-in-bed-bath-and-bus-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Creative ideas

Someone gave me an interesting food for thought. He said: “Creative ideas come in bed, bath and bus”, i.e. when you are about to sleep, when you are leisurely taking a bath, or when you are travelling. I do find it true to a great extent.

Give it a thought. On my part I ensure that I have a pen/paper or my electronic notepad handy when I am travelling or about to sleep. I don’t take them into the bath, but often I am desperate to come out and jot down the inspirational thought that occurs to be in the bathroom.

When the mind is free and is allowed to roam without restriction, that is when the best of thoughts and ideas come to us. Not if we are perpetually stuck to our mobile phones.

Creativity

Footnote: A long- struggling Bollywood lyrics writer, Mr. Anjum Jaipuri, who subsequently become fairly successful, had told me long ago: “beta, geet (songs) air-conditioned rooms mein nahin likhe jaate hain, they are written on the back of bus tickets.”

 

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Jannat-E- Kashmir

Author: Sheetal Suryavanshi

Perma-link for article: https://www.banjaraacademy.org/jannat-e-kashmir-by-sheetal-suryavanshi

Asalam walekum chacha – These three magical words did wonders in Kashmir! Yet another adventures solo trip to Jannat-E- Kashmir. At the drop off the hat I decided to go on a hiking trip to explore/discover the valleys of Kashmir and re- discover myself too. The idea of exploring Kashmir got into my mind when I recently was going through an old album of my paternal grandma. She had visited Kashmir in 1950’s and the black & white pics are stunning. I called my friend Kamy (Kameshwari) as she had been to Kashmir few years ago. She was very encouraging and said just go and also gave me the family contact in Phalgham. Her encouraging words gave me confidence to explore the place all by myself. Thank you, Kamy.

I jotted a plan and decided to hike in Yusmarg, Sonmarg and Phalgham, and figured out home stays as well. The day I arrived in Srinagar I got a warm welcome from Anita aunty, the owner of Mahatta homestay. I wanted to visit the places which my grandma had visited in Srinagar. The first place was the Shankracharya hill which is at a hill top (Gopadari hill) and had to climb a flight of 250 steps. I guess when my grandma visited she had to trek to reach the hill top as back then there were no steps.

I wanted to take a picture but photography is strictly prohibited now. I did show the old picture of the Shankracharya temple to the security guards and they were all stunned. They were like, ‘your grandma had a camera in 1950’s’. I said, ‘yes, yes, she was rich and from a royal family .’ One of them said “Appaki Daddi kush hugi ke aap yahan aaye.” I smiled and said, “yes,yes,wherever she is now, she will be glad that her granddaughter has visited a temple :-p.” I bid adieu to them and left to visit other historical places such as Pari Mahal, Hazratbal Darga & Jama Masjid.

Every place had a story to tell! I was wandering in Old Sringar and witnessed pathar bazzi (stone-pelting).From nowhere few kids landed all in masks and started pelting stones on the compounds of the military office and disappeared in few minutes. Well this was indeed an experience. When I checked with the locals why did this happen? Their response was the kids are taking out their anger on the army and old Srinagar is volatile. After this I headed towards Shalimar bhag. I was keen on visiting this place as there were few pictures of this place in my grandma’s album. I headed back to the homestay where I befriended the cook/caretaker who were from Nepal and listened to their stories . It is rightly said that every person you meet has a story you can learn from.

The hiking in the mountains was indeed an awe experience to cherish. The first trek was at Yusmarg,a 14 km trek in the valley. I reached Yusmarg and wanted to hike alone but then I greeted an uncle saying “Asalam walekum chacha” at the starting point. He immediately responded saying, “salaam walekum beeti and said please don’t hike alone. I will accompany you.” Intially I was hesitant as I was not sure but then I agreed. I don’t regret this decision as he was the best company. We hiked talking about the history of Kashmir, his family,about Yusmarg and his view on the braid cutting incident. As we were hiking, there was bright sunlight and started raining too.Chacha said -beti ethu pyar ka musum hai bhaut dineo ke baad aaya hai! I smiled and said hann ethu meri magic hai :-). And as I was hiking, I fell in love with the alluring beauty of the valley and my adrenaline rush too.

After the hiking I enjoyed a cup of khawa chai with the locals/shepherds. I realised that how humble mankind is. Despite living in extreme conditions people greet you with a smile and treat you like a family member.

The second day trek was in Sonmarg! I befriended a chacha who insisted I take a pony ride as it was a long trek. I refused and told him, “no,no,I don’t like to torture animals. I would rather exercise my legs.” He was surprised and asked me, “are you scared of horses! LOL!” I told him, “yes,yes, there is a history. When I was in 7 th grade I had been to Ooty with my parents on a holiday and took a horse ride, which was a horrible experience.” Listening to this he laughed and said, “kya beti  .” I told him I dread to take rides on any animal. I didn’t even go on an elephant/camel ride when I travelled with my friends. We burst out laughing together! And I continued to explore the place on my feet. Viewing the snow-capped mountains was an instant magic. The hike was soul stirring and powerful.

The last leg was at Phalgam. Phew, I have no words to describe! Magical, serene valley, gushing water of Lidder River and freshness overloaded. Enroute (Srinagar to Phalgham) I stopped at Awantipora ruins. As I listened to the history of this beauty it took me to another world and there was a sudden rush of emotions and I had goosebumps. I have always felt that history in institutions have to be taught by visiting the places as it’s an amazing learning experience when one sees and feels the place.

My second pit stop was at Aishmuqam Shrine, which lays on a hill top. The steps were quite steep. I had to climb around 250 plus steps. The shrine is nested in a deep narrow cave. As I entered the cave, I saw a girl crying in pain, as she was finding it difficult to walk. I don’t know what happened to me but seeing her in such excoriating pain I was all teary eyed. As I walked passed her, I could feel her pain and the only one thought that was going on in my mind was “Oh God, please heal this child soon!”. I entered the sanctum and there a baba who was seated made me recite some sacred words in Arabic. In the end, he asked me to make a wish and the only wish I had in my mind that minute was – “Please let the girl get well soon and walk with no difficultly”. Until today I still carry this memory with me and hope that she has recovered and is all smiling.

I left there to continue my journey to Phalgham. Here I was with a joint family, they were eight adults and 12 children. This family reminded me of my childhood days as until 5 th grade I was part of a joint family. I really miss the joint family culture. I was welcomed with the utmost warmth. Here again the family din’t want me to go on a hike alone. So, I was accompanied by Kashmiri bhaiya and four children. I did some hiking in Aru and hanging around in Betab valley.

The highlight was Chandanwari, a stunning place to unwind in the lap of nature and breath-taking views. I felt like there isn’t anything that can truly take your breath away. I wanted to take a stroll in the morning before leaving to Srinagar. While I was walking near the Lidder river stream a chacha who was on his morning walk greeted me by saying walkeum salam beti. my response of aslam walkeum chacha triggered off another interesting conversation. After the walk I was all set to depart to Srinagar. The family gave me a rousing send-off . I was touched by their hospitality.

I left to Srinagar to catch the flight next day to Bangalore. I stayed that night with Anita anuty ji again. We had a lovely conversation, and when she got to know that I run a sports NGO for children from vulnerable background she immediately responded that the children of Kashmir need such training. They lack such life skills. She enquired if I would come back and do some training programs. She said she will have a word with the government. My eyes gleamed with joy and had a big smile on my face and I instantly said yes.

These six days (Oct 6 th to 11 th ) travelling all by myself was an enriching experience like none other. It allowed me to experience the place on my terms and gave me some “ME” time and introspection of my thoughts. Exploring the valleys on feet, staying with the locals, befriending strangers and listening to their stories. Sounds exciting right! Believe me Kashmir is a perfect place for solo travel. It’s a land of hidden jewels and beautiful hearts!

To sum it up, this trip was all about interacting with humans. I felt a deep connect with mankind, and it is an experience I will cherish forever.

I must quote this poem by Amir Khusrow – Kashmir Paradise on Earth!

Agar firdaus bar roo-e zameen ast,
Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o hameen ast!

English Translation:

If there is a paradise on earth,
 

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How not to take decisions

Author: Raju Thomas

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/how-not-to-take-decisions--by-author-raju-thomas

Decision making skill is considered to be one of main hallmarks of a great leader. While this is quite true, sometimes, how to avoid or postpone taking decisions can also be skill to be learnt. Whenever an organization is faced with making an important or difficult decision , it adopts what can be called as a ‘ Committee ‘ approach, which is to set up a committee to look into the issue and reach a decision by consensus. Since it will be a collective decision of all the members of the committee, no one person need take the blame for any adverse fallout arising from the decision. It can also be sought to be justified as a ‘committee decision’ taken in the best interest of the organization. Also, they avoid arriving at a final decision for as long as possible, with lots of discussion among the members, arguments and counter arguments for any proposed course of action. This kind of ‘Committee’ method is often used by the head of an organization when he has to make any unpleasant decision.

The role and importance of committees has been satirized in the form of a prayer ( source unknown ), which I would like to share. This piece has been lying with me for over 30 years or so, given to me by somebody during the time I was working in a public sector company.

“ Gayatri Mantra “ of Committees

Our Committee which art in quorum,
Procrastination be thy name
Thy agenda come, thy NIL be done
On Earth as it is in Eternity
Give us this day our daily delay,
And forgive us our progresses
As we forgive those who progress despite you
And lead us not into completion
But deliver us from decisions
For thine is the vacillation
The red tape and the veto
For ever and ever.
Adjournment.
************

 

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The Nature Flows

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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

I sit on the balcony and look out. Some fields below, cows grazing, and birds flitting about. A dog wags her tail when I call out to her, a cat ignores my greeting and walks away majestically. The gaze goes beyond, and the land rises up to lush green-covered hills. Not very tall, but majestic by themselves. Serenity all round, everything moves slow and is measured paces – even the sun casting longer and longer shadows on the hills.

Though green dominates, other colours merge smoothly, even the bright yellow of the sunlight as it turns golden and then a dull orange. A spattering of red, purple and blue complete the panorama.

Whether we humans go there or not, nature flows. The dog chases the cat, the bull eats up the grass, and wild animals eat their prey. The lush green landscape turns a barren brown – until the torrential monsoon rains bring back the green from nowhere.

The trees voluntarily shed their fruit, the crop is razed to the ground. The old tree faces the brunt of thunder and collapses. Yet the fact is that nothing changes – unless man goes on a merciless mission of wiping out the bounties of nature.

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Reviving Yourself With A Simple Exercise

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/reviving-yourself-with-a-simple-exercise-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Reviving Yourself With A Simple Exercise

Long, long ago I was taught by a yoga guru to just lie down in shav-aasan position, let your breath go in and out at its own pace, clear your mind of mundane thoughts, and focus on your breath. It took me many years to realize the significance of this simple exercise -- it not only gives your peace and rejuvenates you mentally and physically, it also brings your focus on the most important and most neglected aspect of your life i.e. your breath. As great thinkers have said, life is from the first to the last breath, and every breath is reviving you as a living being. Now I do it at least once a day.

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Go Out Into Nature

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/go-out-into-nature-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Yielding To The New Crop

Have you noticed how life tends to slow down when the summer comes? Children have holidays (except the unfortunate ones preparing for innumerable exams), business people are through with their financial year-end, attendance in offices becomes thin as people go away for vacations -- and of course the heat takes away our energy, appetite and zest.

Yet summer is the best time to get active, be outdoors, meet new people, explore the open spaces, savour the shade of huge trees and the unbelievable satisfaction of a cool drink! Stop reading this and go out into nature........

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Yielding To The New Crop

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/yielding-to-the-new-crop-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Yielding To The New Crop

As I grow older, the best thing I like is to see younger and younger people achieving so much. I strongly believe that a teacher's ability is not in his knowledge but in the curiosity and learning that the students acquire because of him. As the old crop has to be cut down and remixed into the soil for the new crop to grow, so it should be with us humans. I am happy yielding to the new crop and am sure they will do a much better job than me. Remember the Bollywood movie in which a song goes something like this: "Kal aur ayenge naghmon ki khilti kaliyan chun-ne waale, mujh se behtar kehne waale, tum se behtar sun-ne waale....."?

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Keeping in Touch

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/keeping-in-touch-by-counsellor-author-life-coach-dr-ali-khwaja

Keeping in Touch

I don't know if I am over-reacting, but I am coming across more and more people who do not keep up their commitments, conveniently 'forget' to inform you, do not respond to your messages, and yet are so busy on social media sending forwards and sharing jokes.

When communication has become so easy, why do we neglect people who are genuinely trying to communicate with us, and who have no vested interest and are not trying to 'sell' us anything?

Ironically the same people will not hesitate to call you a dozen times when THEY need something from you.

Of course I should not generalize, since I have very many friends who are always sensitive to respond or keep in touch. They enrich my life

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Overcoming Loneliness

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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

Overcoming Loneliness

Have you had occasion when you were suddenly feeling very lonely and just wanted to reach out to a friend? Did you have occasion when none of your "close" friends seem to be available, no one was taking your call or calling you back?

If yes, then let me share with you a simple mantra to overcome this possible hurdle. Nurture a couple of good friends. They may not be people you meet or talk to regularly, but you know they are compassionate, caring and that they genuinely love you. Tell them in advance that if you feel down and out you will probably reach out to them, and you just want them to spend a few minutes listening to you.

If they agree, don't forget to tell them that YOU too will be available if they want to reach out to you. That is a true relationship.

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Handling Criticism

It’s not all that difficult !

Author: Dr. Ali Khwaja

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

Criticism is certain – we should expect/anticipate that we will be subject to it time and again. There is no point trying to run away from it. Rather, it is better to gain the skills to be able to handle it.

It starts with our perception of others. We “believe” that some people are of a certain type, we have expectations from them. If we are disappointed, it shows in the form of criticism of the other person. Also, we select what we wish to perceive, what is important to us. Our opinion of others depends on our..…

  • emotional state
  • our programming
  • beliefs/values
  • physiological state of how we are feeling
  • our needs/wants and expectations at that time

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The Myth

Author: Lalita Jakathe

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/the-myth-by-lalita-jakathe

The myth of romantic love is an illusion. A myth may or may not be true. But the experience will last forever. This myth is a cultural invention, a common tradition dating back to Middle Ages.

Emotions of romance and love would have been created by our own set of beliefs, or even infused by friends and related elders around us.

Reading the age old “Chandamama” story books, “Amar chitra katha” fairy tales where a handsome strong Prince and a poor damsel in distress, a Mermaid and the wood cutter (the list can go on) will fall in love and after a long tale of love will marry and live happily ever after,we as kids either by reading or hearing these tales would have been mesmerized with the quote “happily ever after” without having any doubt of what actually happens after this “ever after.”

A few other prevalent sayings by our own people like “God has destined and we all elders approve you both husband and wife” “Horoscopes are matching with maximum compatibility, so both of you can tie the knot of marriage” and so on, creates emotions of illusions of romantic love. And we believe or are made to believe that this is real.

These myths may actually be getting in the way of truly nding the “happily ever after” in our lives. Then what is true love?

Now after the marriage and the honeymoon phase, the real life begins. We begin to sense the beginning of problems. We feel the consequences of the unmet needs. We start to see the other person, more like they truly are, not what we needed or thought them to be. Then starts the fault nding with each other, a period of indifferent behaviors, ego clashes and thus remain together in misery or separate with a baggage of hurt, anger and being cynical of relationship.

True happiness of love is not a theory, a Solar Eclipse Men and Women Price of LOVE 7 writer's imagination or a ction, it must be created and experienced by the “self.”

Being aware of one's self is the 1st truth. Recognizing, managing my own thoughts, feelings in a compassionate way even if they are scary or inconvenient. Once I am committed to my own truth, then I can work to create a long lasting relationship.

Now, with the partner. He/she is a different individual with different pattern of thoughts, behaviors, cultural and t raditional upbringing. To recognize and understand this individual from his/her point of view is the next priority.

Both the individuals should rst accept their own feel. The Truth, the same level of accepting each other.

And now learning to adopt the four basic Truths. Respect for each other's individuality, the Trust on each other (the understanding attribute) the Commitment which is being with each other in unusual situations too and enveloping the magnicent communication mantra “Speaking and listening skills should rst be learnt and sharpened often”

These 4 basic Truths will surely create a strong spectrum of love for ever, as each other's individuality is the only foundation upon which a mature marriage can be based and real love can grow.


 

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Solar Eclipse

Author: S.R.Mahesh Raju

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/solar-eclipse-by-s-r-mahesh-raju

As the sun rises from the mountain cradle, and reaches the top of the world, a ball as dark as the depths of an Abyss rushes to the arena.

Like a black knight galloping ahead to seek revenge, he engulfs the sun and his light, forcing all ora and fauna to bow to his indisputable supremacy.

But regarding the heart rendering cries of life, he agrees to bear upon his defeated enemy; and releases his prisoner – with grace and majesty.

As that warrior of great power departs, he leaves behind a ring of gold studded with a sparkling diamond, as a souvenir of his heroic exploit to be remembered for a long time.

As his chariot of darkness leaves the battle eld the sun is shining bright and all is ne.


 

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“Cover Up,Your Shape is Showing.” Why should I?

Author: The Fuan Writer

Perma-link for article: http://www.banjaraacademy.org/cover-upyour-shape-is-showing-by-the-fuan-writer

Why should I?
Why must I?
Why do I have to hide myself under sheets,
When I go outside to be free to breathe?

 

“Cover Up, Your Shape Is Showing.”
From your restraining grasps,
I struggle to keep quiet.
I bite my tongue,
Because I'm tired of being disobedient.

 

“Cover Up, Your Shape Is Showing.”
The enveloping sense of protection,
Made inherently a fear of the outside,
Feeding the paranoia of the eyes watching you,
Watching your every move,
Your every breath with the rise of your chest,
The boys in your class, the men on the streets,
All you should hide from, hide your unprotected self,
Your backside, your legs, your shoulders, your breast.

 

“Cover Up, Your Shape Is Showing.”
Sexualizing every curve, skin curling,
Flesh burning, to freeze in place,
For movement causes the fabric to stick
And display your wares for shameless gazes.

 

“Cover Up, Your Shape Is Showing.”
“Your gure is a woman's,
You can't forever hide yourself,
Under those shirts you wear.”
Shame on you, for making me conform,
To your ideals of dressage, your perfect uniform.
I always look pretty to you then, don't I?
Innocent and Feminine. Modest as they come.

 

“Cover Up, Your Shape Is Showing.”
I mumble to myself,
As I zip up my over sized jacket to cover up,
The shape of me.

 

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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?
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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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