Shared Thoughts

Do I need to be happy to make others happy?

There is a proverb "You cannot give away anything unless you have it." However true this may be for other things, it is not true about giving away happiness.

Life may have given you more than your fair share of kicks and brickbats. Don't worry if you carry scars that may never go away.; As you go around your work, home, locality, as you interact with different people, don't be anxious about what the morrow may have in store for you. When darkness comes, light cannot be far behind. If you want happiness to come to you, just do your little bit to make others happy. You don't need a reservoir of happiness to give it to others. As you keep spreading happiness and light, you will keep getting more and more in your stock. Believe me, I speak from experience.


There is not a letter in the alphabet, which cannot be used for composing a sacred mantra. There is not a verb which has no medicinal value. Similarly, there is no human being who is incompetent. Only an organizer op planner is difficult to find.

Humour: A regular drinker demonstrated to his friend by putting a worm first in water and then in alcohol. The worm survived in water, but died when immersed in alcohol. He asked his friend, "Do you understand the Moral? If we take alcohol we won't have worms in our stomach"

See Dr. Ali Khwaja's thoughts on Do I need to be happy to make others happy?

That is how every New Year is thought of. What we need to introspection is......... Do we have to wait for 365 days? Why not think of every dawn that we wake up to as a new day to celebrate and wish happiness to people around us?

Let us not have regrets in case tomorrow never comes...... let us not miss our the moment to take that extra time to give a smile, a hug, a word of love, a word of appreciation and a word of gratitude.

Moreover, let us not forget the past.... What is past was also an experience.

Good or not so good, let us treat it as a learning experience and move on with the firm belief that what is past should be left there and what is yet to come is to be welcomed with an open and positive attitude.... Each Day..Every day.

Be ready to change, like the change of the day and year.... be ready to shed the old and the stifling, and be ready to renew our faith in ourselves as well as faith in those around us.


Cigarette : A pinch of tobacco rolled in paper with fire at one and a fool at the other.

Lecture : An art of transferring information from the notes of the Lecturer to the notes of the students without passing the minds of either.

Tears : The hydraulic force by which masculine will-power is defeated by feminine water power.

Divorce : Future tense of marriage.

Dictionary : The only place where success comes work.

Conference room : A place where everybody talks, nobody listens and everybody disagrees later on.

Classic : A book which people praise, but do not read.

Office : A place where you can relax after your strenuous home life.

Yawn : The only time some married men ever get to open their mouth.

Etc : A sign to make others believe that you know more than you actually do.

Committee : Individuals who can do nothing individually and sit to decide that nothing can be done together.

Experience : The name men give to their mistakes.

Philosopher : A fool who torments himself during life, to be spoken of when dead.

Diplomat : A person who tells you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip.

Opportunist : A person who starts taking a bath if he accidentally falls into a river.

Optimist : A person who while falling from Eiffel tower says "See I am not injured yet"

Miser : A person who lives poor so that he can die rich.

Father : A banker provided by nature.

Criminal : A guy no different from the rest...except that he got caught.

Boss : Someone who is early when you are late and late when you are early.

Doctor : A person who kills your ills by pills, and kills you with his bills.

"All beings are one, everything in the universe is connected to each other. There is a meaning and purpose in everything that happens, and there is a law of nature that ensures that everything moves systematically. We are not alone and we should not consider ourselves as different from others". These were the thoughts going on in my mind when I was driving down to office, listening to a wonderful discourse on the radio cassette in the car. Peace and tranquility were pervading my very being. I felt happy, and in harmony with everything and everyone around me.

Just then an autorickshaw with more than one dozen school kids in it, some hanging precariously at the side openings, swerved crazily in my path. I had to brake hard to avoid hitting him, and for a moment I was numb with fear what would have happened if I had ti hit the kids. Then the dam burst. I let out a barrage of expletives at the auto driver, both in Kannada and Hindi, to make sure he got the meaning. I cursed him to the depths of hell, and threatened to take him to police. Of course, nothing more came out of the incident, and we both went our respective ways after a minute. My mood was broken. Gone was the calm and inner peace. I definitely did not feel connected to the auto driver. I gave no thoughts to what problems he may have in life. I was in a hurry to reach office and get down to the mundane activities of selling my products to the customers, and selling myself to my boss. I went back to being connected only to survival, not to life.

The park bench was deserted as I sat down to read beneath the long, straggly branches of an old willow tree.

Disillusion by life with good reason to frown. For the world was intent on dragging me down
And if that weren't enough to ruin my day,
A young boy out of breach approached me, all tried from play.
He stood right before me with his head titled down
And said with great excitement, "Look what I found!"
In his hand was a flower, and what a pitiful sight,
With its petals all worn- not enough rain, or too little light.

Wanting him to take his dead flower and go off to play,
I faked a small smile and then shifted away,
But instead of retreating he sat next to my side
And placed the flower to his nose and declared with overacted surprise,

"It sure smells pretty and it's beautiful, too.
"That's why I picked it; here, it's for you"
The weed before me was dying or dead.
Not vibrant pf colours, orange, yellow or red.
Bit I knew I must take it, or he might never leave.
So I reached for the flower, and replied, "Just what I nee."

Bit instead of him placing the flower in my hand,
He held it midair without reason or plan.
It was then that I noticed for the every first time,
The weed-toting boy could not see:he was blind.
I heard my voice quiver, tears shone like the sun
As I thanked him picking the very best one.
"You're welcome", he smiled, and then ran off to play,
Unaware of the impact he'd had on my day.

I sat there and wondered how he managed to see
A self-pitying woman beneath ad old willow tree.
How did he know of my self indulged plight?
Perhaps from his heart, he'd been blessed with true sight.
Through the eyes of a blind child, at last I could see
The problem was not with the world; the problem was me.

And for all of those times I myself had been blind,
I vowed to see the beauty in life, and appreciate every second that's mine,
And then I held that wilted flower up to my nose
And breathed in the fragrance of a beautiful rose
And smiled as I watched that young boy, another weed in his hand.

It is a jungle. One wrong move, and death (or a worse fate) could leap out of the shadows. Predators of all hues lurk in camouflage and it is difficult to say when and from where they will strike. Some of the slippery characters are poisonous and some are not-but one cannot risk exposing oneself. It is a survival of the fittest. One can easily be struck a crippling blow without warning. Cunning creatures are waiting to grab one another's hard earned food. There are parasites sucking the blood of innocent and ignorant beings.

And yet one has to live here, because this is where there is food, variety, sex and entertainment. The thicker the jungle, the greater the opportunities for finding wide varieties of delicacies. In many case, the survival instinct turns into the predator's prowl. Learning the art of competing, clawing, trampling over the weak, every living being is trying one-upmanship.

The interesting aspect of this jungle is that creatures who are safely away from this dangerous zone keep getting attracted here by the hundreds, like moths to the flame. They migrate from their safe hideouts and natural pastures, and enter into the rat race. And once they are ensnared in the complex jungle, there is no escape. Some enjoy the thrill of the dangerous life, some just survive, some succumb and get trampled in the periodic stampedes. But the population keeps, growing, and the density of living beings gets denser and denser. Welcome to the mother of all jungles- the concrete jungle of the modern metropolitan city!

I was sitting on a beach one summer day, watching two children, a boy and a girl, playing in the sand. They were hard at work building an elaborate sandcastle by the water's edge, with gates and towers and moats and internal passages. Just when they had nearly finished their project, a big wave came along and knocked it down, reducing it to a heap of wet sand. I expected the children to burst into tears, devastated by what had happened to all their hard work. But they surprised me. Instead, they ran up to shore away from the water, laughing and holding hands, and sat down to build another castle. I realized that they had taught me a important lesson. All the things in out lives, all the complicated structures we spend so much time and energy creating, are built on sand. Only our relationships with other people endure. Sooner or later, the wave will come along and knock down what we have worked so hard to build up. When that happens, only the person who has somebody's hand hold will be able to laugh.

More thoughts on Holding Hands
A Little Story...

I am a very pessimistic person and look at things in a very negative way. I am always anxious about the future. There is nothing happening to make me feel sad, but I never seem to be able to pull myself up. How can I build a Positive Mental Attitude?

First make sure that there really is no cause for your pessimism. It could be something buried deep in your memory that is still unresolved. If you feel that there is no cause, then start working on the behaviour modification. Some suggestions:

  • Keep the company of positive and optimistic friends (not fool hardly ones)
  • List out all the positive things that happen to you every day.
  • Set yourself some small, easy goals, and mark your progress on them.
  • Develop a mantra of positive affirmations, and keep repeating it
  • List out your strengths and weaknesses. Reward yourself for your good work, and introspect how you could have overcome failures.
  • Help out others who are feeling low- this itself is a great therapy for you.

Pain : Some responses to the article with the same title, published in the last issue:

The article on pain, pained me a lot. Pain is not a friend, it is a shadow. It remains a shadow as long as one has to work to do- wok seeming to be the only light that hides the shadow of pain- and when there is no light, the pain merges with the person. It is ironical that when one falls down, one merges so well and disappears in the shadow of others who are standing up that they can hardly see the fallen person.

Perhaps pain at times becomes an intoxication to the mind, ad very much like other intoxicants like alcohol or drugs,, abuses the body and mind very slowly but surely- creating a situation where one does not have the motivation to try to come out of it and heal oneself. Perhaps the mind says, " any way I have suffered this much, why protest, let me take more."

At times it may become more painful to heal one's pain and one may think it is easier to take the pain when it is piled up- thus attracting more pain, numbing the mind. Cementing itself deep inside the person, the pain may create a depression that no medication can perhaps help to pull out of, for there is no motivation left.

- V.C.

The person who has written sounds more like a male so, I shall use the pronoun, 'he' in this response to the article.

He speaks at first of physical pain and says his threshold for bearing it has increased, as happens to all people, as they grow older. Later, he speaks of emotional pain, and it appears to me that he dwells on this more till the end of the article.

Physical pain is something we cannot treat expect with pain killers, placebos etc., and after a certain limit, even the doctor puts his hands up and leaves the victim and his family to their own devices to fight the terrible pain. In fact, the family can suffer more seeing the suffering of the person from physical pain. In the case of emotional pain, of course, no one else can feel the depth of the pain and suffering and feel the level of empathy as in the case of physical pain.

The wonderful thing about your writer is that he HAS found a solution to the problem, in that he has seen that "always doing something" keeps the pain away from him. But, the Ultimate Solution that Dr.Ali Khwaja has been practising and teaching us: that always doing something for OTHERS, FOR OTHERS WHO ARE SUFFERING EVEN MORE THAN WE AND WHO ARE IN DIRE NEED OF HELP is what can assuage our pains!It is this forgetting oneself totally in service to others that also helps forget one's own suffering whether it is physical or emotional pain.

- R.Krishnan

Emotional Pain has been made a very integral part of human life, not because EP in itself wants to be so, but because the human wants it be so. A s we all know human is a bundle of emotions, but some want to gloriously end up as a bundle of pains. Well, with due respect to the author's "bundle-some attitude", I have only one point to make, like physical pain has pain killers (interesting name!!) for elimination, the author does not have to wait for any speeding lorry to be ripped apart, he/she can most willingly go under the wheels and lo! Behold! the lorry shall become the "pain killer". Regardless of your options for pain killers for EP, you will keep bumping into this anti-human element called pain in this glorious path of life's journey. Take it along or leave it behind. Choice is yours. What say dear author?

- Neena Vashisth

Getting married is very much like going to a restaurant with friends. You order what you want, then you see the other fellow has, you wish you had ordered that.

At the cocktail party, one woman said to another "Aren't you wearing your wedding ring on the wrong finger?" The other replies, "Yes, I am. I married the wrong man".

Man is incomplete until he is married. Then he is really finished.

Marriage is an institution in which a nab losses his bachelor's degree and the woman gets her master's.

A little boy asked his father, "Daddy, how much does it cost to get married?" The father replies, " I don't know son, I'm still paying for it."

Young son: Is it true, Dad. I heard that in some parts of Africa, a man doesn't know his wife until he marries her?" Dad: "That happens in all counties son."

The there was a man who said, "I never knew what real happiness was until I got married, and then it was too late."

A happy marriage is a matter of give and take; the husband give and the wives take.

After a quarrel, a wife said to her husband. "You know, I was a fool when I married you." And the husband replied, "Yes, dear, but I was in love and didn't notice it."

When a man opens the door of his car for his wife, you can be sure of one thing; either the car is new or his wife.

When You feel Burnt out

When the fire burns itself out, when the fuel has turned into ashes, when even the warmth has gone from the scorching heat- there is nothing left.

The ashes are there, no doubt, but they do not give light or heat. Most people consider it an effort even to get rid of them. Only the lowliest person knows the value of ashes- to sparkle and cleanse utensils.

Never underestimate yourself. Even if you feel burnt out, you could be useful to someone, somewhere, sometime. And perhaps when you make others sparkle, the brightness will reflect back on you.

- A


  • The European eel can smell alcohol in concentrations as low as one part in one billion billion.
  • Sharks can follow the exact route of an injured prey long after it has passed by
  • Identical twins have the same body odour. This is not-true for fraternal twins.
  • Bloodhounds can pick up a24 hour trial and succeed in identifying the person.
  • In the Andamans the Ongee people consider smell a sense of personal identity. They believe that the spirit resides i the nose.
  • Smokers generally demonstrate a lower ability to detect odour quality.
  • Our two nostrils smell the world from two different angles, like 'stereo' smell.
  • Life is like a journey on a train, with two fellow travelers at each window. I may sit beside you all through the journey, or I may sit elsewhere, never knowing you. But should fate make me sit by your side. let us be pleasant travelers. It is so short a ride.
  • The highest result of education is tolerance. It is the first principle of community' it is a spirit that conserves the best that all men think.
  • In teaching you cannot see the fruits of a day's work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years.
  • The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards.
  • Essentially, learning means a change in your thinking, a change in your feeling, a change in your behaviour. Learning means that change takes place in the mind, in the emotions, and in the will.
  • Education is not to reform students or amuse them or to make them expert technicians. It is to unsettle their minds, widen the horizons, inflame their intellect, teach them to think straight, if possible.
  • A well trained and controlled mind stands a man in good stead, better than armies.


- Contributed by S.Kusuma

Volunteer, Helping Hand

I am privileged to be doing some honorary work for 'Provision Asia' an organisation dealing with handicapped particularly polio victims.

Recently I was invited to accompany them on an excursion to Sangam, a well known picnic spot. I was at first reluctant to go as I felt I would be out of place. But later decided to go. The whole journey was an eye opener to me. Men and Woman came in wheel chairs, which were folded and kept in the bus. They even sat on the ground. They sang cheerfully all the way and even danced. They never let their impediment come in their way. On alighting each one got into his or her wheelchair and was wheeled by friends to the river bed. One man even carried his friend on his back.

Then to my astonishment each person got out of the wheel chair and. helped by friends, jumped into the river and swam. It was wonderful to see their cheer and enthusiasm. The youngsters served lunch and we elders were very well treated. Several photos were taken. At about 3.45 p.m. we piled into the bus and the handicapped were seated and wheel chairs brought in. We were off. Snacks were shared and singing started. Before we knew it was dark and we had reached Bangalore tired but happy.

I've been on several trips but not so enjoyable as this one. I was humble to see that less fortunate than me were so happy, irrespective of their handicap. This has etched a picture in my memory forever.

- Lalitha Leene (Helping Hand Volunteer)

(A real letter written by a employee after being fired from his job)

At the outset let me begin by thanking you for giving me an opportunity to serve you. I have done a lot of introspection lately and have the following to confess:

I feel guilty. When I went home after our last discussion, I tried to analyze all the circumstances, which led to that eventful morning. I personally feel that your decision was correct. Given the circumstances, I would have taken the same decision much earlier than you have.

This letter is not a request for my reinstatement in your firm not is it directed to achieve that end. I is only a confessional. I had patiently listened to all you had to say on that fateful day and agree with whatever your position is on the matter.

I do not have anything to say in self-defence. I do not have anything good to say about myself. My mental agony gets compounded even at the thought of it. Presently, my position is that of a sailor who has been shipwrecked in the midst of Pacific ocean. In such a situation, he has only two choices, either to gather his resources and push for survival, or otherwise drown.

As you have rightly said, I am the best judge for myself. I hereby my unconditional apologies for whatever agony and mental strain was caused to you due to my negligence, irresponsibility and callousness.

At present my mind is engaged in the midst of a voyage to self-realization. I have never realized my full potential. For the first few days, I was in a very disturbed state and was not able to sleep peacefully. I wish to re-iterate that I still hold you in high esteem and am aware of the act that you have always wished me well.

There are many weaknesses inherent in every individual, but in my case I feel that it has exceeded in all limits. My biggest weakness is perhaps that I make them apparent. Moreover, at this juncture in life, I admit that I am directionless and have no short term or long-term goals to achieve whatsoever.

I shall henceforth endeavor to overcome my shortcomings and strive to become a better person. Perhaps when we meet again at any point of time, you should be proud to declare that I was associated with your firm for some period. But this is not going to be achieved overnight.It will take a lot of self determination and motivation from persons like you.

With this confession, I feel that my mental burden has become lighter. I know you will appreciate this letter and take it the right sense and spirit.

The neighbours were aghast. Rohit was shouting out profanities. "You bitch" he screamed as he pushed Sarita out of the door, "go and sleep with some men and earn money. I will not put up with you any mire." Equally pathetic was the sight of Sarita squirming and pleading, and ting to let back in. Non of the neighbours could believe that this midnight drama was taking place not in some slum, but in their posh upper-class locality, and with a young couple who are both software professionals and supposedly deeply in love with each other.

Sarita and Rohit (names changed) belonged to the same caste and region. They came from equally affluent families. Sarita was an ambitious girl and wanted to become a doctor, but her parents had forced her into taking up software course because they wanted her to marry early. The marriage seemed ideal- the handsome ambitious IT engineer, and the vivaciously, beautiful, well-mannered software programmer.

The honeymoon actually had lasted just a few weeks. Within no time Rohit started showing an ugly face. He began with sarcasm, graduated to ridicule, and then went on to physical abuse. Anything that Sarita did would anger Rohit. If she talked to his friends, he would accuse her of trying to seduce the, if she kept to herself, he would call her an "uncultured snob". Sarita just did not know what to do. Her parents had brought her up with the best values and culture, and had told her to love and respect her husband. The shock of Rohit's behaviour was so much that she just crumbled and gave in. She would beg and plead, accept all humiliation and accusations, and would hope that her attitude would make Rohit change and start loving her.

But that was not to be. Matters only became worse, until Rohit started pushing her out of the door, and the matter was exposed to the neighbours. Most neighbours characteristically kept away, but one decided that she should do something about it. She took Sarita to a counsellor.

The counsellor spent four sessions over three weeks just listening to Sarita. The young girl had so much to say, deeply chocked with distress and frustration, and with a sense of hopelessness. With each session Sarita started regaining her lost confidence and self-worth. The counsellor than made her list out her real qualities, both positive and negative (and kept correcting her whenever she said "...but Rohit says I am good at...) The counsellor encouraged Sarita to develop a few friends with whom she could confide and share on a day to day basis, and who would give her moral support. And finally the counsellor went on to give her training in Assertiveness. Sarita was taught neither to fight not to become submissive, but to stand up for her rights, look Rohit in the eye and show that she is not scared of him. She learnt how to give all her love to him when he was nice, and to insulate herself and be aloof when he was bad.

Rohit initially responded badly. He felt he was losing control, but found his tantrums were no longer having any effect on his wife. Slowly there was a perceptible change in him, and he in fact started accepting and respecting Sarita more for her firm stand. At this juncture Sarita encouraged him to meet the counsellor. Initially a little reticent, Rohit took some time to open up with the counsellor and relate about his childhood. It was found that Rohit had been brought up by a very strict and abusive father, and had imbibed some of those qualities. Over a period of time, he realized that he was not being fair to Sarita, and in the process, he was making life uncomfortable for both.

Today Rohit and Sarita are the proud parents of a lovely daughter, and a very loving couple. Recently they accosted the counsellor in a shopping mall, and were thoroughly embarrassed to face him.The counsellor could not help noticing that as they silently moved away, they had a blush on their cheeks, and were holding each other's hands tightly.

Thrills with frills - a personal experience

Hi people,

I have the most amazing experience to share with you all. Last night, I bungee jumped... from 120 feet, that is 10 storeys high. IT WAS OUT OF THIS WORLD!!!! Here is my story.

Two years ago when Bungee jumping came to Bangalore, I was so, so tempted but could not muster the courage. This time again I was in the same position. But when I read in the papers that they are allowing tandem jumping (two at a time) this time around, I knew this was my answer. I asked my Pathi Parameshwar. He looked at me like I've gone insane. I will never forget that look in his eyes. When I assured it was safe, he shrugged, begged he didn't want to do it." so then I tried pulling at his heart strings..."please, for my sake come naa... I got that "are you mad?" look again. Then I tried my 16-year-old niece. She freaked out at the very idea and said all she could give me was moral support from down below. Finally, I thought of asking my counsellor colleague, Tasneem. She said she'd been waiting to do this a long time.

The day of the jump I was a bag of nerves. I was scared, nervous and could not even bring myself to make breakfast. Then I started to psyche myself. I badly wanted to do this, as this is the most adventurous thing I have ever done in my life. I told myself I just have to overcome that one moment of fear at the edge and after that I will cherish the experience for the rest of my life. And now my health permits me to do it. I may not get a chance again I told myself this and I felt unbelievably better.

I woke up all excited. Two hours before leaving home I was having an uneasy feeling and begged the kids to leave me alone. Left home with Tasneem and reached the venue, signed up, finished medical check. Seeing people jumping made me feel even more excited with fear.

Climbed up the tower. Pulling myself up 10 flights of vertical 90 degrees steps was quite tiring. My ankles were aching by the 3rs storey. Started to rest every flight of steps. Finally huffed and puffed my way up ever so slightly when someone jumped off. Reached up and discovered there were still 5 people waiting ahead of us. We have quite a party there, cheering the others, sharing our experience, feeling. I'll never meet those people again but those were indeed magical moments. We even sang happy birthday for one of the jumpers. I remember looking down from the platform AND NOT FEELING ANY FEAR. I just wanted somebody to hold on to while jumping.

Finally it was our turn. Those guys were great. The jump-master was a Frenchman called Jean Pascal. As soon as the bands were wrapped around our legs, we were asked to let out a scream, to release fear. The two harnesses coming from our bands were then tied to a common bungee chord. One more scream, yelp, laugh, whatever made you feel better. They insisted on it. They showed us how to fall, and made us practice on the railing. The instructions were simple and effective. Yes. it is scary, but it is also safe and thrilling. A ll they asked of us was commitment. Do not look down, on the count of 3,2,1 go. just fall forward face down, arms outstretched. Do not bend knees. Just do not hesitate.

AND WE DID IT! It was beautiful. We wrapped one arm around each other's waist, the other arm outward. We were perched 10 floors high. Standing at the edge of the platform and he says, "put your toes out of the platform". Tasneem and I had promised we would not hesitate when it was time. We asked him to say, "3,2,1, scream" and on the cue we both leaned forward screaming out guts out. It was hell. The fear rose from the pit of the stomach. Head down. Blood rushing. Eyes blood shot. It lasted for no more than 2 secs. We saw the landing pad come rushing towards us. We came down to about 15 feet above the landing pad, before the cord began retracting and we were flying up again to 8th floor height. Second time it was less scary and more enjoyable. Since we go head down, we come up head up and therefore go head down a second time. Like all the rest of the people we'd seen, we too swung wildly bit it was absolutely thrilling. We were screaming, hooting... I can't describe it.

I am just so immensely proud of myself for having overcome my fear completely. My heart did not even beat fast when I was standing at the edge with my toes out. 10 storeys high!! If Tassy and I were carrying more money we would have paid another 500 and gone right back.

I am proud of myself. And I think my kids were too, watching their mama jump.

My suggestion to you all... try it once.

Thanks for reading.
- Mamtha Rajesh

The immortal words of Pastor Niemller of the Anti-Nazi Resistance Movement in 1939 are a lesson for us even today:

"First they came for the Jews,
But I did not speak out,
Because I was not A Jew,
Then they came for the trade- unionists.
And I did not speak out,
Because I was not a trade-unionist
Then they came for the Catholics,
And I did not speak out,
Because I was not a Catholic,
Then they came for me,
And there was not one left t speak out for me."

In today's strife ridden world, we need to speak out.

For those of us who have grown up so much that we have forgotten this childhood story, let me remind you once again:

There was a king who was very proud and arrogant. A thief took advantage of his ego and told him that he could make coat of gold that would be the most beautiful one on earth. The catch, he said, was that only intelligent people would be able to see the coat, and fools would not be able to. The thief took a lot of gold from the king and pretended to spin, cut and stitch it. On the appointed day the king was "fitted" with the non -existent coat, and went out in a grand procession through his city. No one wanted to be labeled as fool, so they all pretended to see the coat, and kept praising it. Until ... a small boy looked at the king and announced loudly that the king was not wearing anything! Only then did it dawn on the egoistic king and his entire populace that they were indeed made fools by the thief.

Do we succumb to such thieves? Before you vehemently deny it, give a thought to the following: we believe our politicians and repeatedly keep voting them to power even though they only serve their own interests at our costs. We get taken in by "get rich quick" schemes, or by "upto 80% discount"sales. We are willing partners in spreading gossip, even when there is no truth in it. We believe people who blatantly praise themselves, provided they do it in a subtle way. We succumb to the manipulations of those who appease our ego.

It is said that if a lie is repeated a sufficient number of times by a sufficient number of people, it becomes a truth. In the fields of religion, politics, social life, commerce, family, education, sports, there are innumerable people willing to spread untruths- because they know that there are always takers.

If we wish to make our life a journey that we will be able to look back upon proudly, we need to start using our judgement and wisdom (and I can assure you that the Creator has doled out enough of it to each and every one of us) Let us learn to differentiate between fact, fiction and perception. Perception is what "appears" to be the truth, sometimes for a simple a reason as- someone has said so.

Being assertive is using your judgement may not make you very successful or a great leader in today's world. But, it will help you to go to bed every night with a complete sense of fulfillment and satisfaction

Happy dreams!

A first person account from a youth who loves life and makes friends with death:

I found the most suitable place to set up my first business when I was fresh out of college. I went to the municipal office for a license to run a commercial establishment. The officer seemed polite, but he cautioned me "if the neighbours object I will not be able to issue a certificate to you." He wondered if I had gone mad, because I had burst out laughing. Keeping him in suspense, I convinced him to get on my motorbike and see the place. One look, and he knew what the joke was. The shop I had selected had a barren road in front, and a graveyard on the other three sides!

Many people wondered at my choices of location. They were even more scandalized when they learnt that I intended to live in that place too. Some thought that I have gone off my rocker, others wondered whether I am into voodoo. But I look back upon those years with tremendous nostalgia. My "neighbours" did not complain even once of my activities.

As the shadows lengthened and the cool summer breeze came dancing from the South-West, I would start winding up my work. Before the nearby mobile tea stall person closed shop, he would always remember to send me the last cup of tea. Pulling down the rolling shutter, I would stroll around, walk up to the small restaurant to have a light dinner, and return after darkness has set in.

The deserted road became even more deserted. People avoided it and preferred longer routes. Those who were forced to reveal on it after dark them. The only person who would stroll down leisurely was yours truly.

Returning "home", I would walk into the middle of the graveyard. The tombstone had long become familiar to me. Some of them had names inscribed on them, and I would greet them as one greets neighbours on one's evening walk. Finding a nicely polished and comfortable tomb, I would sit down to contemplate on life. Ironic though it may sound, I could think so much about life, surrounded entirely by death.

Sometimes there would be a small procession quietly bringing in a not-too-popular dead body in the unearthly hours. Every living being in the group would be in a hurry yo get over the ritual and escape. If they saw me sitting quietly in the eerie darkness, they would keep an eye to make sure I was not a vampire or a Dracula. After they left, I would walk across to the freshly filled earth mould, and share a quiet moment with the newly interred inmate, welcoming him in my own way.

There were beautiful moonlit nights when I would spend longer hours outdoors. People walking on the road far away would see me strolling criss-cross among the graves, and would double their pace to get out from there. But only I know the serene beauty, the harmony with nature, and the blanket of peace that descended on the area, when the entire stretch of flatland would shimmer in the silver of the moonlight. Many a time even a drizzle would not make me move, for the earth would entice me with a magnificent smell of dry mud hungrily absorbing the first rain drops.

My working life began amidst death. I did well in life and moved on, physically and figuratively. But my heart remains there. And before leaving I have left all my friends with a parting promise- that I shall return one day to depart no more.

Some interesting origins

GOON: is derived from the Hindi goonda (hoodlum), and is now popularly accepted in English to denote a ruffian or thug.

GOSPEL: means "god spell". Since God once meant "good" and spell meant "news", gospel referred to the good tidings that the Christ child had been born.

GYMKHANA: surprisingly has nothing to do with gymnastic activities. Every major city in British India had its gymkhana club where the sporting types would gather on evenings and weekends. It is a modification from the Hindi word gendkhana meaning "a place for ball games"

GYMNASIUM: In ancient Greece all physical exercise were done in the nude. The sheltered areas where a number of people exercised in the nude was called a gymnasium, from the Greek word gymos, meaning "naked"

Many parents get exasperated when they find their children telling lies. Sometimes the child is caught right away, sometimes the truth comes to light much later. Either way it is a source of dismay to parents who wonder where they have gone wrong, and how they can set right this shameful and disgusting habit.

Often it is found that children who are otherwise upholding the highest of values and following principles, suddenly seem to resort to telling lies without any ostensible reason.

Firstly let us understand that elders should not take children are still being moulded and they are not very clear about their rights and wrongs. Only those children who tell lies persistently, and that too causing damage to others, should cases it just requires a little in-depth understanding and the solutions will surface by themselves.

Children may tell lies because of any of the following reasons:

  1. Covering up guilt or deficiencies: Children with a low self esteem or those who feel inadequate, develop a tremendous sense of guilt, and wan t to cover up what they consider are their faults. They resort to telling lies as a means of saving their dignity.
  2. Wanting to avoid punishment: When faced with very strict or rigid adults who scare him, the child looks for any conceivable way to avoid the punishment.
  3. Imitating adults: Many children learn bad habits from their parents or other significant adults. Adults behave irresponsibly without realizing that they are being a bad role model that the children may copy them blindly.
  4. Hoping for praise and affection: There are children who receive love but not a sense of security. Such lonely/insecure children may like to exaggerate and bend the truth with the hope that it will get them some recognition and appreciation.
  5. Not sure between fact and fiction: Some children cannot differentiate between the truth and their own fantasy. They tend to live in a make believe world and they tell lies without realizing that they are doing so.
  6. To boost to others: Every child has a sense of pride that makes him want to be one above the others. Sometimes when the adults project the wrong picture and install false values in a child, he may tend to exaggerate or speak about non-existent achievements or assets.
  7. Believing it is true: When a child feels a sense of injustice, he psyche himself into believing that he is right and the other person is wrong. A typical example would be: "He started the fight"

It is important that a parent should find out the cause of why the child is telling lies, and not punish blindly. If the cause is tackled, the lying will subside by itself. Please remember that children can be moulded with the right handling. Punishment is not the solution to various problems, tackling the cause is.

Pain hurts. Sometimes a numb, uneasy feeling, sometimes piercing, sometimes so shattering that one can take it no more. I have experienced some amount of physical pain. It has come in the form of toothaches, stone sin the kidney, and migraine. It is difficult to say which was the most intense. I do remember that there were fleeting moments of physical pain when I wanted to jump out of the balcony.But those were just fleeting thoughts, more of a fantasy to escape from the immediate. Over a period of time my threshold level of bearing physical pain has increased considerably.

Then came emotional pain. First some bouts of dull sorrow, anguish, frustration. All bearable. A few episodes were serious enough for me to think of calling it a day. I remember long walks in the night fantasizing how nice it would be if I could just get myself ripped apart by a lorry speeding on the highway. A sense of hopelessness. Loss of motivation. Not much of a desire to improve matters. As long as I keep busy the pain recedes into the background. Perhaps into the background. Perhaps a very dull reminder here and there, just to say, "I am with you, don't forget me", but nothing to disturb work. When I have nothing to do, it becomes a constant companion. Maybe that way is why I always want to have something to do-makes me feel worthwhile, and protects me from this dear friend of mine who has become much a constant companion.

I have heard of many people saying "why me?" when they get pain. I actually think "why not me?" I keep wondering whether my pain is serving any purpose in the entire network of humanity or the universe. I hope it does, otherwise it is such a waste, It would be easier to just pack up and get out of this life instead of going o suffering- particularly when I am not looking forward to anything even if the pain reduces or goes off completely.

Sometimes the pain becomes a friend. A very troublesome friend no doubt. I start wishing that the pain should persist, keep increasing till it reaches the point of becoming unbearable, and then there has to be an end to it. If the pain cannot end by reducing, it can perhaps end by increasing beyond limits.

I need to talk about it. The chances of meeting her are remote but if I do, I have some questions to ask her. Elizabeth's laughter was contagious. She would make our class of 30 laugh at the drop of a hat. I loved her, and as a young teenager I would wonder what made her so merry. Elsy (that's what we would call her) lost her father when she was an infant. She had an elder sister and two younger brothers. A family of four was quite a responsibility for her mother Mrs. Chatterjee who was also our Math teacher. Mrs. Chatterjee did not keep good health and often she was ill. The family was given accommodation in the staff quarters of the school and I think the school had waived off her children's fees. Yet it was a struggle because in those days (mid late 60s) teachers would get a salary of Rs.50, at the lost Rs.400.

Elsy's sister Dorothy was a star student; good at everything, but Elsy was "below average". Often dressed in torn uniform and laddered socks, she would sit at the corner chair, next to the window. I would sit at the chair in front of her and we were punished for distracting the class. Nothing seemed to affect the young girl. She had that immense capacity to laugh it off. There were days she would come and tell me of their hardships and how she had to grow up soon to fend for her mother and younger brother. Her sister, after finishing Senior Cambridge (Class XIII), did her teacher's training and started teaching. Mrs. Chatterji had to give up her job because of her health, and soon she passed away.

We did our ICSE and broke for the summer vacation. After two months when I returned to school I was told that the Chatterjee family had moved out of campus and Elsy had joined some order to become a nun. It's 28 years now since the incident. I am still battling with the truth. What happened to Elsy? I had tried hard to find out about he but I couldn't.

Today, another friend has given me a reason to write something as personal as this. I desist talking when I beg forgiveness because every life is precious and I feel very incompetent for not doing anything to alleviate suffering. Amita (name changed) is another person who loved life. An extremely caring and emotional person, she never got anyone to take care of her emotions. I saw her philandering love. She would smile at everyone at work and laugh her troubles off. She would share with me most of her things. She had a bad marriage. She broke free of it to get into something worse. I knew this would not lead her anywhere but she had hopes. The relationship crashed, very painfully for her. Amita wanted a life, partner who would love her, take care of her and her child, somebody who would understand her. Her search proved futile.

Amita recently joined a spiritual order. She smiles as frequently as she did three years back. People think she has found her peace.

- BY Bala Chauhan

For obvious reasons I cannot disclose his name. But the lessons of life that he has taught me will remain embedded forever, and will be my guiding lights to tackle any situation. Let us call him Babu Anna.

He was barely out of his teens when he took up a government job. He continued his studies and worked his way up the hard path. He had become known for his efficiency, his presence of mind, and his ability to handle people. And that is when a politician eyed him. This politician ( whose name, alas, I must again keep confidential), was an illiterate man of the masses, a champion of the workers, and a sincere person who had the well being of everyone at heart. His problem was his lack of education, and he needed someone to supplement it. Initially in an informal capacity, and then subsequently as his official assistant, Babu Anna became his crutch and his right hand man.

The politician rose up to become a minister,and Babu Anna became the Private Secretary to the Minister. Any lesser mortal would have become drunk with power. It is open secret that Private Secretaries are more powerful than the Ministers themselves, and this case was no exception. Even more so since the minister was completely dependent on Babu Anna for all matters concerning the written word. The gentle minister trusted his worthy assistant and would promptly put his scrawling indecipherable signature whenever the latter would thrust a file under his nose. In many ways the secretary was more a minister than the minister himself.

There were occasions when the minister, being a man of the masses, would like to dole out largesse to the masses. There would be a throng of applicants, each wanting some favour of the other. The minister, having seen poverty and deprivation himself, was more than keen to oblige them. The only hitch was that the minister would promise more than what he could deliver. For after all the minister was a cog in the giant government machinery whose wheels do not move to the whims of one person, however high a position he may hold. And that is where, day after day, Babu Anna had to step in to save the situation.

In almost two decades of loyal service, Babu Anna probably never uttered the words "No, Minister". And yet every time he deftly managed to save the situation, and keep up the image of the honourable Minister.

His technique, when I look back at it, was quite simple, and yet ingenuous. He would immediately show his agreement, however unreasonable or impractical the minister's order was.And he would go on agreeing with the order, praising the applicant, lauding the minister's concern, and in fact suggesting that the person deserved even more. The "even more" in fact would turn out to be something completely different from what the minister had so generously "granted", and much within the framework of bureaucratic rules and regulations. And before anyone could realize the drastic change that has been brought about by the secretary's suggestion, the applicant would be whisked away into the other room to complete the paperwork!

Babu Anna has retired. The minister is no more. Today a new breed of politicians and bureaucrats have taken over the government. The innocence, the simplicity, and the sincerity does not exist any more. The loser is the common man.

The people in this building office can be roughly divided into two categories- those with the lost, bewildered or scared look on their faces; and those going around purposefully, nonchalantly. The former are the victims of the system. It does not matter if they are the complainants or the accused. The system ensures that they both suffer. The only winners in this game are the latter category of people- those who extract from the accuser and the accused alike. They are the cogs in the wheels of the machinery, but the wheels can be made to spin faster or slower, forward or backward. The wheels can be derailed from time to time, and can even be made to stop. There are wheels within wheels.

One has to understand the intricacies of these wheels, and their movement. Once the skill of manipulating them has been mastered, there is a great deal to be gained. It is no matter that the gain is at the cost of many innocent. When they have been foolish enough to get caught in the web, they have to pay the price.

The labels of the winners differ. They are called advocates, clerks, constables, touts and peons. They may have different rankings in the hierarchy but the common aims bind them together. Justice is blind. Hence it turns a blind eye to what is going on under its nose. This issue often being debated is not who is right or wrong, but who can get the best of expertise to fill in the loopholes, to interpret the intricate play of words, and push a few files- up, down, left or right.

Entire mankind is surviving on the faith that there is a supreme justice awaiting each one of us, overruling the action and inaction of mere mortals. But if man is the vice-regent of God i this earth, does he really reflect His glory?

We are four sisters. The eldest has lost her husband and I have very high regard and love for her. I got out of the way to be nice to her, and help her in whatever way I can. Despite not being very well off myself, I have given her support and assistance. Neither of the other two sisters have done so. Yet I find that my eldest sister talks badly about me, ridicules me, and neglects me whenever I need her, and she is nice to the other two. I have just not been able to understand why.

It is sad but true that very often we feel jealous of the very same people who help us. It creates a feeling of inferiority or inadequacy or inferiority in the receiver of help, particularly if she happens to be elder or otherwise better placed. Possibly she does not know how or face you, neglects you, and that in turn leads to guilt. Caught in this vicious mental trap, she perhaps hits out at you in a form of self defence so that her vulnerability does not come out in the open. If you can understand the agony she is going through, perhaps you will be able to forgive her.

  • One should start off with tidying the desk, putting everything up in clutter. This will also give enough space for the right positioning of the computer, so that the keyboard is at the most comfortable position, and the monitor is correctly adjusted to eye level.
  • Micro-pauses or tiny breaks can periodically provided much needed rest and recuperation for tired muscles and eyes. After a stint at the computer, one could look at papers, walk across to a colleague's desk, or just stretch out to relax the body muscles.
  • The equipment one uses also plays an important role. The height and posture of the chair, the positioning of the table, the lighting conditions, and the angle at which the monitor or keyboard faces the user all contribute towards lessening of stress.
  • One should also periodically get a health check up done, and be aware of any unexplained aches and pains. Recurring pains in the fingers, wrists or arms and shoulders should not be ignored. One can start doing exercise to ease the stress in these parts of the body. Massaging has also been found to be a good stimulant. Similarly one could consult a doctor and do eye exercises to reduce the strain on the eyes.
  • It is important that executives take computer related stress seriously, because prevention is better than cure. If these symptoms are allowed to grow unchecked, they may eventually lead to making a person dysfunctional and may require expensive and time consuming treatment.

Regardless of their professions, almost all executives today need to work on computers. With more and more communications taking place through the Internet, the use of computers is likely to increase. Eve middle aged and elderly professionals, who had managed quiet well over the years manually, are being forced to switch over to computers to keep up with the times.

Most people consider the computer as a tool, the way they would consider their vehicle, their pen or their calculator. Very few seriously consider the impact it may be having on their lifestyles, and particularly about how sitting continuously on the computer could be causing strain. Behavioral scientists have only now begun the process of analyzing and evaluating the effect that prolonged computer usage could be having on the user.

The computer may reduce physical activity of many executives, and has increased certain repetitive motions that could be harmful to health. An officer who would have to get up from his chair to pull out a file from a cupboard in this cabin, now has to press a button to get the same information. A manager who would go and sit in the meeting room and discuss annual targets, now gets the information on his monitor and gives out instructions through the keyboard. Even the activity of shuffling papers, filing, or sorting out documents, has given way to pressing buttons on the computer.

This extensive use of computers involves repetitive motions of the fingers, hand and eyes. There is a narrow range of focus and all the activity is restricted to that range. For example, many senior people have not learnt touch typewriting,and they work on the keyboard with just two or three fingers. The focus of the eyes is persistently in a narrow rage of either the monitor or the keyboard. Hence those who are relying more and more on the computer for their day to day work, have the tendency to succumb to what is known as Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI). RSI is a syndrome, i.e. a collection of symptoms characterized by numbness or tingling in the fingers, pain in the wrist, forearm or shoulder when typing, discomfort when moving the mouse; general aches and pains in the neck, shoulder, arms, elbows and hands.

The human body is designed to move. Nerves deep within the muscles provide constant information about the muscles provide constant information about the stretch and movement within each muscle, and a complex network of tendons and ligaments controls our gross body movements as well as the fine control. Movement maintains the flow of blood and lymph around the circulatory system and provides the muscles with exercise, which in turn maintains muscle and general health. This natural system gets affected due to the unnatural, repetitive and constrained body movements of computer user, leading to RSI and other possible health problems.

Computers have also let to continuous sitting in the same posture. A static, same posture in not natural for the human body, and it forces many muscles out of their normal resting state into one of static posture maintenance. Although nerve fibers alert the mind when muscles are held tense in an unnatural attitude for too long, it is possible that high levels of stimulation from the computer might override or ignore these signals.

In advanced countries like USA, RSI is one of the most widespread occupational disorders, and it is likely to grow to disturbing proportions in India very soon. Indians are being used more and more in computer related jobs. In the mad rush of IT boom, very few people are taking these health problems seriously. Quiet often aches and pains are not realised to be connected to computer usage, and many people suffer in ignorance. If problems like RSI are anticipated and dealt with, they would avoid a great deal of suffering and misery.

E-mail has opened so many avenues of communication in our world. One can now interact instantly with people from any corner of the globe.

My mail today consisted of more than a dozen messages. Someone was trying to sell me a loan (money was never so easy to get as far back as I can remember) Another friend wanted to enlighten me about his spiritual Guru. A few messages told me (and a thousand others) what my colleagues from IIT are doing nowadays. At least four or five friends and relatives sent me forwarded mails stories that are supposed to touch my heart. Unfortunately none of them did. For the simple reason that they were mass mails, and not meant for me (I have low self-esteem, but still I value myself a little better than the recipient of "Dear Subscriber" type of messages) Also because I have read them many times before and the so-called "touching" stories narrated in long from have become cliche's.

One mail spoke pathetically about a little baby afflicted with cancer. It said if I am not a heartless brute, I will forward the mail to at least five friends, and this multinational drug company will contribute 10 cents to the little baby's treatment fund for every mail forwarded by me. I was thinking of the hundreds of babies lying in the general ward of Kidwai Hospital for Cancer, and was wondering if any of these message-senders would visit them and bring a smile on their face.

Can we not send two line e-mails, but with those two lines written personally from A and B? Better still, can we not take the pen and write a note of love or concern in our own handwriting? And finally can we not look at each other, smile, see the glow in our eyes (even if the eye has a reddish black colour), hear each other's voice,and spend a few minutes sharing the cool evening breeze?

Our beloved president APJ Abdul Kalam is a man with unique endowments. He is a rare combination of extraordinary intelligence, integrity and empathy. His concern for human suffering was very evident in the speech he delivered at Spastic Society of Karnataka on 5th November at the inaugural of the Polytechnic unit.

Disability is one of the toughest challenges of life. To accept and live with physical handicap requires lot of courage. However, in an understanding and supportive environment, these physically challenged children can grow to their full potential. Our president has deeply understood their special needs. He shared with us this small incident, which indeed had a great impact.

One day Kalamji received a letter from a boy in Belgaum that read, "Sir, I don't have both my legs. I want to walk. Please help me". Our president was touched by this letter and immediately made arrangement for prostheses (artificial limbs) through some doctor friends. After a few weeks he received another letter from the same boy that read "Uncle! Now I can walk. I am very happy. I want to see you" Overwhelmed with joy, our President made Prostheses available for nearly 500 children and young adults and invited them for his birthday in October, which he decided to celebrate at Belgaum.

Amidst their laughter and smiles, Kalamji celebrated his birthday. He had empowered them physically and emotionally. He had made their dreams come true. Is there a better way to celebrate one's birthday?

As he spoke that day to us at Spastics Society, his kindness and compassion flooded the hall and drowned the audience. His speech, so simple yet so strong, touched our hearts. My brother who is affected by cerebral palsy, was fortunate enough to shake hands with our president. He whispered to me, "Akka, Kalamji's hand is so soft and warm" "So is his heart!" I said, as tears welled in my eyes. These words quoted by Kalamji still linger in my ears: "When God is with us, Who can be against us" And indeed! God is with us in all our honest endeavours.

- Dr.Veda.P

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Authors Of Shared Thoughts

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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