Shared Thoughts

Kindly don't read the title as 'absent minded Clifford Martis' o.k? Clifford Martis is the author of this article. It is the computer that is absent minded because it has printed the author's name too close to the title. Absent mindedness is mostly attributed to professors and other learners men because it is assumed that by learning a great deal their minds become somewhat unable to perceive or handle routine detail. Someone has wisely said, "It is the nature of greatness to be inexact!

We have jokes about the legendary absent minded professor. The great Albert Einstein is reported to have been a grossly absent minded person. The story is familiar. Two cats were distracting him in his study, a bigger cat and a smaller kitten. He got a box made for them with two holes - a big hole for the cat and smaller hole for the kitten. With much hesitation the carpenter pointed out that the baby cat can also use the...

Absentmindedness is usually confined to ordinary mundane matters because the learned man's mind is preoccupied with theories and inventions, which are his primary concern. This is proved by the instant show of presence of mind by the same professor Einstein, who,when asked to explain the theory of relativity,  pointed out how one minute on a hot stove can vastly differ from one minute by the side of a beautiful girl.

There is the story of a professor who was losing an umbrella everyday, as he would forget to bring it back. On a particular day, however he returned home triumphantly brandishing an umbrella in his hand. The youngest member of the family pointed out that he had not taken his umbrella in the morning. Sounds familiar and silly? Then look at this one. Professor Vajra took lodgings with Mrs. Braganza as a paying guest. Within a few days he stormed into Mrs.Braganza's room and said it was impossible for him to stay there unless he was provided with a full length mirror. "Why do you need a full length mirror, sir?" asked Mrs. Braganza. "The mirror I have fixed in your room is a brand new piece. Moreover, you are a man. What will you do with a full..." Professor Vajra cut in and said, "Mrs. Braganza, you don't understand. Everyday I've been going out without wearing my pants!"

Absentmindedness and forgetfulness are not the same thing. Look at Janardhan who went to a psychiatrist and said, "Doctor, I am becoming increasingly forgetful. What shall I do?" The Doctor said, "Don't worry. I'll start a line of treatment. But you must pay me in advance."

Look at another case. "Dear Alice," wrote the young man, "I am getting so forgetful, that while I remember proposing to you last night, I forgot whether you said yes or no." "Dear Sam," Alice replied, "nice to hear from you. I do remember saying no to someone last night, but I had forgotten just who it was."

The coup-de-grace was delivered by my friend Simon, who is a very absentminded computer expert. Proceeding to Bhubaneshwar for a prestigious conference on the internet, he reached the station very late, just as the train was puffing out of the platform. Somehow he jumped in, thrust a tenner in his wife's hand and planted a smacking kiss on the mouth of the porter with the mush.

In order to be absentminded you should have some status in life. Every Tom, Dick and ...(what is the third name?) may be forgetful but in order to be branded absentminded he should be either a doctor or a professor or a general manager or at least a postman.

Nanak Chandra Agarwal of Nagpur completed his degree and went on to do his master- not in one, but in fourteen subjects! He holds PG degrees in English, Hindi, History, Economics, Sociology, Psychology, Philosophy, Linguistics, Geography, Political Science, Public Administration, Ancient History and Archeology, Gandhian Thought and Ambedkarian Thought. He has added M.Com to that list lately.

He has also completed his M.Phil in eight subjects; two in commerce and six in Arts. He has completed his law and Ll.m, engineering (AMIE) in both Textiles and Metallurgy and holds an MBA He is qualified Chartered Accountant (ICWA), Company Secretary (ACS) He holds a Bachelors of Electropathy degree and a Masters in Surgery, and a Bachelor of Mass Communication.

In addition he has secured diploma in Business Management, marketing management, finance management, Industrial Relations, travel and tourism, human rights. This does not include his foray into education with a B.Ed and a B.P.Ed.

He claims he would have had many more degrees by now (he is in his mid sixties) but for the fact that the University does not allow him to appear for more than one exam in an academic year. He reads his books just once, for he beleives that if he reads more than once, he is likely to forget!

He is pursuing Ph.D in four subjects: on the bakery industry in the faculty of Economics, on Mahadevi Verma in Hindi, on the issue of separate statehood for Virarbha in Political Science, and on internal terrorism in Law.

If that were not enough, he is full time advocate practising in all branches of judiciary and taxation, and since 1987 has not lost a single case.

Think of the last time that you felt lonely. No one to talk to, no one who would genuinely understand your feeling. Many friends, relatives, but no one you can quietly relate to that particular day.

It looked like the whole world is busy in the rat race, and somewhere along the line, you have been pushed out, and into a ditch. What did you do at that time? Tried to pray, or listen to music? May be you tried to involve yourself so deeply in work that you would not have time to feel the pain of loneliness. Maybe you even made one last desperate attempt to reach out to a friend, only to find that he or she is too busy to be with you at that moment.

There is a way out, one that we seldom try out. Instead of trying to fill up the vacuum of your loneliness, try fill up someone else's vacuum. Are you even aware at any time how many people around you are feeling isolated and left out? And more interestingly, do you know that filling their vacuum will help you feel un-lonely? It is true.

Recently I was browsing through a book shop (I am a book-oholic and can never resist that temptation), and I found a series of small books that spoke about how one can heal oneself by being good to oneself. On an impulse I picked up half a dozen different titles in the series (I can't stop with one or two pegs!) The small packet was lying around for a few days till one night when I was not very sleepy but too tired to do any "work" I looked at the phone but somehow could not think of anyone I would like to call up.

I started thumbing through one of those books. My mind went to a dear friend who is going through a lean patch, and I started adding my comments on a few pages that had touching quotes. Before I knew it I had expressed a lot of my love and affection to that friend, and I promptly sent the book across the next day. I was no longer feeling lonely that night not the subsequent nights!

It actually works. Instead of focusing on trying to reduce your loneliness, try to fill in for someone else's. The resul is contagious. Like an epidemic it hits you back,and you get the joy of feeling loved, wanted, and cared for

-Ali

Have you ever felt angry? If you have answered "no" to this question, you may be a time-bomb ticking to go off any time, and I would certainly not like to be anywhere near you.

We all feel anger. Some of us acknowledge it, some deny it, some justify it. There are those who burst out with it there and then, there are some who simmer quietly, and then there are those who divert it and scheme to cause maximum damage. Unfortunately very few of us know how to use anger constructively.

Anger is acknowledged as the most destructive of all human emotions. With the advent of nuclear technology, one man's anger ca wipe off one third of the population of the world. While all strong emotions need outlets, anger needs it more so because it is the result of unfulfilled desire, rooted in fear and helplessness. It is a consequence of a feeling of injustice, wherein rational thinking is lost, and the desire to hit out overrules all rationality.

It is often that the shouting of men and the crying of women are different manifestations the crying of women are different manifestations of the same strong emotion of fear and helplessness. Hence men and women are ideally suited to sponge up each other's anger if they understand the gender difference in manifestation of the emotion. Expression of anger with right person is an therapeutic as crying on a close friend's shoulder.

Some people have accumulated anger that may even have built up from childhood - a sense of injustice by the whole world against "me". Suppressed anger comes out in various physical and mental ways that can be even more destructive, both to the individual himself, and to others around. Anger can be controlled at three stages - Though, Speech and Action - the earlier the better.

The first step is to conquer self-awareness. Be aware when you are angry. Then perhaps you could use any of there following techniques if they suit you:

  1. Write angry letter, keep, look at it for days tear/burn, or post to friend/counsellor.
  2. Write his name in big letters, tear/burn, repeat.
  3. Write his name on the sole of your shoe. Be aware its there.
  4. Beat pillow, scream, 10-15 minutes, meditate, walk.
  5. Vigorous exercise, then repeat "I feel better".
  6. Call him up, disconnect, then scream at him.
  7. Put empty chair in front, imagine him, shout, sit in his chair and give his argument. Give your argument.
  8. Cleaning or sorting work, give weeds his name and pull them out.
  9. Imagine him as a clown or buffoon.
  10. Just talk it over with someone who understands you well.
  11. Use a neutral person to convey your feelings, but choose correctly.

One last tip: If you lose your temper, don't try to find it.

Learn to fight, but fight fair: In close relationships, you don't fight to win, but to clear the air, find a solution, share feelings, gain greater understanding of each other and thus both of you win.

- Fensterheim and Baer in "Don't say yes when you want to say No"

Further along the road less travelled, with my friend 

Aab

Aab likes history, he loves biographies. Every time he reads about a great person, his focus is on two phases of that person's life - what was he before he acquired fame, and what was he when his life came to an end.

Aab knows the cruelty of the phrase "every dog has his day". He knows that the spotlights on the stage remain on only till the show goes on. So it was in history and so it is now. Slaves who became kings, kings who died in prison; ordinary people who attained fame and glory, famous people who died unsung and unwept.

The only thing that matters is now, the present. Aab knows this only too well, because he had his days of glory and his nights of ignominy. Today it makes no difference to him whether the dawn is breaking or the dusk is spreading its darkness. He cherishes the moment that is now when he sees the tombstones of the great and revered, he wonders how they felt when all their greatness could not keep sickness, helplessness and death at bay. How they faced the frustration of not even being able to control their bowel or bladder when they had earlier controlled armies and nations.

While Aab reads history, he is more interested in those who are alive today, and will become part of history tomorrow. At times he laments those who are chasing glory and glamour while destroying themselves from within. He feels sad for those who lose their inner peace and joy status and popularity. Aab knows that however popular one is in society, unless one can respect oneself, life is empty and devoid of meaning.

In today's fast pace world where women are competing with men to gain prominence as well as to increase their family income the IT sector is the most preferred choice. The exposure and experience women get it this field makes them more efficient.

Women do well in this sector as they pay attention to details, which helps them finish the work on time. As they are more friendly it is easy for them to tackle customers. Women being more diligent follow the work schedule strictly and are not distracted, thereby getting appreciation from all.

Family support is very essential for a woman to gain success in this career. Late working hours, travelling a lot, looking after the family can be done only with the care and concern of family members.

The IT boom is so tempting that women start their own business and reap profits ten-folds. Nowadays various websites have been opened by women to nurture their talents as well as to earn their living. For instance, if a woman is interested in cooking or tailoring or in any other hobby she can start her website. Secondly women from other professions also get lured to IT and change their carrier as the salary is much more than the previous jobs.

The main disadvantage is that due to stress and wrong posture women suffer with health problems and have the tendency of becoming old at an early age.

Young women find IT a challenging profession and are easily adjusting to this new sector with absolute ease but they should bear in mind not to undergo any type of strain as it will be harmful for health reasons.

-Reena M.Banaji

Greeshu was a wonderful friend. He always greeted me whenever I returned after my rounds, mostly in the evenings. Usually I call on one or two friends to pass messages concerning our Association meetings etc. Greeshu knew these houses. He'd read my mind, and proceeded straight to those houses ahead of me. Some of my friends did not like his presence and used to shoo him. But Greeshu used to bear the insults for my sake and wait nearby. At times, my trip was a purchase mission. But Greeshu, thinking that I was going to a friend would take a wrong route. On finding that I was not behind but on the other side of the road, he would decide to cross the road instantly. He had escaped from the wheels of running vehicles over a hundred times! At times, alert driers used to apply sudden brakes and also throw a few abuses on Greeshu. But Greeshu would position himself close to me and smile. The agony or relief from it, in the mind of the driver did not seem to bother him.

He followed my wife and daughter also whenever they went out but in a different role. He went and stood close to the girl as she was transacting the deal. He uttered a low growl if anybody tried to sneak out without bothering him but failed. He read at the gate. Perhaps he followed the talks between me and my wife. I used to wonder at his intelligence.

Greeshu always enjoyed human company. Sometimes he would be running down a street aimlessly, but if he found a few men standing and chatting, Greeshu would stand and listen to them intently. He never joined in the street fights of stray-dogs. Perhaps, he was aware that he belonged to a 'higher class'. He bypassed such scenes, as any gentleman would by-pass the untouched talks of drunkards. He was ever friendly and gentle with children.

Just as nobility and wisdom, age also filled Greeshu. As time passed, he reached his ripe, old age. His walk became sluggish. He felt difficulty in going upstairs. He had difficulty in digestion. Even vision was less efficient. He enjoyed sleeping long hours. The general opinion was that Greeshu had lived 'his life' and should be put to (eternal) sleep now! It was said that we will be saving him from the difficulties he was facing due to age and saving him from the death agonies also. But our hearts would not buy any such views. Greeshu has been one of us. He will be with us till the end. And the end is in God's hands.

We continued to take care of Greeshu. We had a bit of worry, since we were going aboard on holidays. We had done it before and left the dogs in the care of servants. But this time it was different. Greeshu's condition was a very big worry to us. While we were agonizing silently, Greeshu solved it himself, quite heroically.

One day I opened the front-door and found that Greeshu was nowhere! We searched all day. I looked for him in the night also, in places where some dogs gathered, but to no avail, later, when we discussed this matter with others and we were told that dogs went away and died in a secret place. Greeshu had also done that!

Adolescence begins in biochemistry and ends in society. It is in fact the pituitary gland that controls growth and development in the human body. This gland is the timer or our many appliances. Once set, things move like clockwork towards a destined end. No human being can abort this bio-chemical clockwork. Without it, the child stays a child forever. We want to squelch the adolescence progress because teen-agers begin the slow and inexorable movement away from home and elders' influence. This fact can greatly cut deeply into our sense of well-being and personal effectiveness.

Adolescents are very determined and have one and only overall purpose, that of separation from their "ground of being" and establishment of their own order. No adolescent wants to be a problem to anyone.

In India, adolescents constitute 20% of the total population of the country. They are a new generation with multi-faceted dimensions affected by global culture. That is the reason why adolescents are called "The E-Generation". "The Thumb Generation" and many more new expressions are used continually by Counselors, Sociologists and others.

Internet undoubtedly is an unparalleled source of information and an educational tool. At the same time there are plenty of dangers involved; just a few more clicks can lead a child into a sea of sexuality. Sexual predators roam the Internet world. Studies have shown that about 60% of all website are sexual in content, 20% of them solicit their visitors, 13% voluntarily and the rest were pictorially lured. Experts say that there has been a 15-20% increase in teenagers addicted to pornography in the last few years. A a result, youngsters lose interest in studies.

The contemporary culture has incredible effect on our kids and their values, attitudes and behaviour. They value their individuality and their diverse life style, speaks to that individuality. Many have grown up as "latch-key kids" both parents working. Their sense of self-reliance is well-developed, and most believe they have to count on themselves to make it in life.

Adolescents are skeptical about almost every thing, including age-old values and family life. This generation sees challenges where their parents might have been seen obstacles. The young people are looking for something beyond dogma, formulas rituals and do's and don'ts. Their emphasis is on interactive participation and lived experience. To-day creative, effective, joyful celebrations make more sense to them. Many youths lack role models to a large extent been in their families. The parents are too busy earning for the. When they return home they are too tired. That is why we talk about giving quality time to our children.

The media has understood our young people more than our parents. Media has become the parents and teachers. The media reproduces almost every human experience.

The electronic culture, the media and consumerism on the young people have affected their physical fitness. According to WHO backed survey results, one in six adolescents in the Indian metros is overweight, two in five in Delhi students have high cholesterol and diabetes; one in three teens have bad eye sight. The problem of obesity among the teens is due to eating junk food and lack of physical exercise. The cause of poor eyesight is due to excessive exposure to television and Internet.

Teens are enormously self-conscious. Do not make fun of them or humiliate them. They are actually quite fragile and compensate by really outrageous, hard to take behaviors that raise our ire. Stay composed, else you all decompose into a family process you will all regret.Provide as many choices as possible, but always ask their complete-as possible plans. The more choices, the more constructive anxiety and the quicker was they learn the ways of the world. Hear their voices, consider their choice, and help them see potential plus and minus consequences.

-S.R.Krishna Murthy


See Dr. Ali Khwaja's Thought on
How To Communicate With A Teenager

Related Thoughts on Teenagers
Should I tolerate unacceptable behaviour of my son?
My Son is Refusing to go to School

See Report on
Teaching Life Skills To Adolescents

See Book on
Understanding Teenagers

It is understandable that they have a strong need to belong. In a huge gathering of a service club, there is a crowd of over a thousand persons in their Sunday best. Fancy designations are being doled out, fellowship witnessed a lot of back slapping, each speaker is outdoing the other in eulogizing and "honouring" past, present and future dignities. But nobody is talking about the dead.

They have all left behind a lazy Sunday with their families or their TV sets to be part of this august gathering. Whatever else they do or do not get today, they certainly seem enveloped with a sense of "belonging". They feel the comfort of occupying a slot in a vast fellowship, thus enhancing their own prestige and self-worth. Perhaps the eldest of them are trying to hang on to life through their connected-ness to the young.

I too have a sense of belonging, to a wonderful group of people. They are all close friends, confidants, and people who love me unconditionally. The problem is that I cannot openly express my desire to go and be with them - because they have all traversed beyond this world. And talking about going away from this world is taboo. People may talk migrating to another country, they may discuss plans to move away from the city - but one is not supposed to talk about death.

This surprises me even more because of the simple fact that whether I talk about death or not, it is going to come and take me away one day. So why not look forward to it, welcome it, and use it as a passport to go and meet so many of my dear friends?

A work done well by itself is like a relaxation / luxurious vacation

Remember your school or college days when you mulled over a Math problem and finally actually understood why you have to take those particular steps to solve it? Or you understood the causes and significance of a history event so thoroughly that you could never forget it? If you were into sports you might have practised hard to win a tournament. If you do recollect such instances, I am, sure you will also remember the sense of great satisfaction you felt at such times.

We come across many such instances in our life when we take pains to achieve something and then there is the sweet pleasure, a sense of victory. In fact these are two intrinsic sides of a coin.

The other day a group of young people were discussing how one could try not doing anything so that one could make the best of one's vacation. The closest they came to was sleeping. But sleep for how long? How does one feel after having slept several hours during the day? It certainly does not leave one with a sense of achievement. On the other hand one feels lethargic and dull. What a way to spend precious vacation!

The conversation turned to ways of relaxation. I discovered that young as they were, each one had felt the need to consciously try and relax; something that never occurred to me when I was their age. A range of methods were mentioned and elaborated upon. This included Reiki, meditation, Sudarshan Kriya (breathing technique), listening to music, watching TV, watching nature and gardening, to name a few.

One truly enjoys a holiday only when one has been working at something. A homemaker would be happy to visit another town for a week, away from the usual kitchen routine. A teenager may like to experiment in cooking. An athlete may enjoy browsing on the internet whereas for a software person any activity away from the computer would be preferable. "One man's meat is another man's poison." Also I might add that too much of a certain thing is by itself like poison.

Is it pessimistic to take life seriously? While one should have a pleasant expression, a sense of humour and open mindedness. there should be a feeling of reverence and sincerity when one takes up something, say a certain course of study, activity or a social issue to be addressed. Should there be an accident to the road, it is expected that the spectator is sufficiently alarmed and empathizes with the victim so that quick and correct measures may be taken. How good one will feel later when he learns that an untimely death was averted due to the "trouble" he took at that time! The home maker spends her time and energy cleaning up the house and later feels a sense of pride and fulfillment when she enjoys the spruced up look of her house. One does not regret the hard work that was put in. So it is with each and every act of ours. In fact we feel a sense of pride and contentment that work is well done. So let's get down to the serious business of enjoying life to its fullest!

- Shobha Rani

The need for human touch - the importance of giving and receiving it

At times when we feel the need, do we really want people to reach out to us? Don't we feel shy and reticent that we have to show our vulnerability to others, that we are lowering ourselves down to the level where others have to help us out? Many of us do. And yet deep down inside we are looking for that special one person who would hold our hands and steady us from falling, or pull us up when we actually do fall.

At times we are lucky and the desired person is available, is willing, and has the means to reach out to us. At other times, we do not get that person. We crave for that special hand to reach out, to touch us, but the fingers fall short. We focus so much on receiving that touch that we do not look around for some other hand that may be outstretched. And thus lose out on valuable relationships. Look around, "feel" the touch, savor the warmth, and hold tight. Touching is an essential part of communicating with others.

Related Thoughts on Human Touch
The Touch
A Human Touch

Time waits for no one, neither do the hands of the clock stop for us.

The old is replaced by the new. That is what nature has ordained. The butterfly emerges from the cacoon. The withering crops drops its seeds to germinate new plants. The plant does not grieve the passing away of its parent. It neither seek the company of loved one, nor feels jealous of another's good fortune. It does not even curse the one who cuts its file short.

Let us also think of ourselves as plants. Let us begin to appreciate that only when we are harvested, ploughed down and mingled with the earth, will new life emerge.

Before being harvested, let us enjoy the breeze, sway with it and dance with the raindrops. Let us accept that the scorching sun is only preparing us for ripening. In human form all our friends and relatives are our sun, breeze and raindrops. They are only fulfilling the purpose they have been created for. Let us fulfill ours.

Tips to handle the bullying of your child

Q : My son is often bullied by his friends in the school bus and on the playground. I don't want to teach him violence by asking him to hit out, and he says that no amount of verbal talk convinces the bullies. I don't want him to make a big issue out of it in school. Is there a better alternative?

A : I'm glad you are empowering your son to deal with bullying, rather than personally interceding at the school level. This is good test for him to develop interpersonal skills. Firstly bolster his self-esteem by repeatedly reassuring that he is a good boy and is very lovable. Secondly, make him understand that most bullies are themselves cowards who feel unloved, and as such indulge in bullying only to seek attention. Thirdly, teach him assertiveness - he can turn around and give a steady stare to the bully, he can tell him in calm but firm words, "I don't like that, please don't do it." When the bullying is minor, ask your son to just ignore it. Also ask him to reach out to the bully when the latter is not bullying, thus making him a friend. Only if all that fails, let him personally go and speak to the concerned teacher and seek help.

Wise Men and Wise Thoughts

Once in a while Aab comes out with some wise thoughts. Not many are willing to listen to him, and fewer still consider his thoughts as wise. For Aab is not yet dead, and only dead men's quotes are quoted as wise.

His wise sayings do not come from any enlightenment or Guru. Not from books or scriptures. Not even from meditation or travels. He speaks based on what he observed in humans in ordinary people like you and me. Since his interest in living beings is so deep and passionate he sees a lot when he looks. And he has so much time to look since he is not only unemployed but also unemployable. He has never earned some amount of affection and admiration - some amount but not enough to be categorized as a wise man.

Aab knows that wise men come with labels. One has to be a guru, a priest, a professor and Aab is none of these. He cannot be, for he does not know how to don the mantles these titles require. He is a square peg in the round hole of society, a wanderer in a world where everyone is a seeker.

So wherever Aab has something wise to say he thinks many a time, hesitates and just says it to a selected few. Even these selected few do not give much importance to what he shares now and then. Perhaps they will do so when Aab is dead. Then they will make a mausoleum in his name, probably publish his quotes and marvel at the wisdom of the "enlightened" soul. Aab laughs when he thinks of this quirk of human nature and continues to look.

(The author does not write from previous experience)

As word got round that I had finally and definitely decided to quit work after putting in 23 years of work in a High School, I noticed colleagues giving me extra bright, extra wide smiles. (No, I don't think they were happy see me go). It was as if they now realised that they would not be seeing me around and so decided not to lose an opportunity to be pleasant. In case we met in the corridor, my fellow staff members took time to talk to me. Under normal circumstances, we would have exchanged a cursory "HI, see you later" kind of message. All of a sudden it was as if we had so much to tell one another! (Will I tend to need more human contact as I get closer to death?)

In the next few days small gifts exchanged ceremonies and little luncheons happened. People around seemed much more courteous and kind. They would go out of the way to make life at my work place much easier. On my part too I found myself willing to do things that I would otherwise have refused, saying, "It's not my job". I could sense a relaxed feeling spreading all over me once I was sure I had taken the right decision. My normally hurried pace became more leisurely. I would linger on after the school to interact with students and friends, (will I feel this when it's time to die? Will I feel lingering on, on earth?) My colleagues plagued me with questions, making me doubt my decision repeatedly. "Won't you feel bored? What will you do the whole day? You'll miss our camaraderie!" I could not tell them that I had the same doubts myself, and many more. "Would my husband stop cooking those wonderful dishes?" "Will we be quarrelling over the remote control?" Will I get lazy? (There is so much uncertainty about the process of dying and what happens after)

I breezed my way through inspite of having to swallow a lump in my throat while bidding farewell to the kids. It was worse when some of them broke down or just stood in front of me, not knowing what to say. The dreaded moment came when the Principal asked those of us who were leaving to say a few words. As I had watched my predecessors in a similar position, I had vowed that when my time came, I'd quietly slip away. But my one wish did come true - I gave no speech, I spoke no words, for none would come out of my mouth.

Only tears rolled, speaking volumes. I sobbed like a child. As my friends bid me goodbye, I could see the dismay in their eyes. The men kept respectful distance, not being sure as to how to react to this tearful female colleague who has all the while been so confident. The person who was most shocked at my emotional state was me! Was I so attached to my workplace, colleagues, work, kids? (Will impending death shock me? Will I be able to bid goodbye to this world easily?)

I realized I am closer to death as each day goes by. I hope to engage myself in those activities that will make my life richer and more meaningful.

-Aruna
A teacher who has resigned, but not a resigned teacher!

Being an avid reader, I have browsed upon the best selling books on human psychology and behavior patterns.

Wayne Dyer in his fascinating inspiring book 'Your Erroneous Zones' has written about 'Approval Seeking' and how this affects the child. The feeling of 'being valuable' is the cornerstone of the child's self esteem. This knowledge of truly being loved, being valued is much more than gold. But sincerely, the 'Self Esteem' is bolstered by the very near and dear adults.

In this context, I would like to put forth this incident, which has perturbed my so called erroneous zones....!

A teacher to a child of the 7th standard mockingly starts her dialogues "You stupid, careless fellow! How dare you, you mad head!" Why?? Just because he had playfully forgotten to attend his physics oral test rating for 5 marks!! The child innocently, already ashamed (all this is happening in the Open House Auditorium with at least 25 adults and children present) pleads forgiveness, vows that he will not repeat this, with a dull sullen face: (as if has committed a sin) Does the teacher change her facial expression? No! Not at all. She is not LISTENING. She heats up more; with burning dialogues. The child for 'Approval Seeking' tries to speak in the softest tone possible, that he had later come and searched for her in the staff room!

Wait! It's not yet over and done. Now the Home front. Imagining! The scene at home More of the bolstering of the child's feelings! The child is merely a throw ball between the School and the Home Fronts ! Yes! Of course Life continues. Now... my pause is what can we as counsellors, as humans with an understanding attitude, do? Who needs counselling? WHEN do they need? And from WHERE CAN YOU START? To help them become AWARE of the basics of LIVING LIFE...!

In today's world, teenagers often face the dilemma of wanting some money to spend on thier own and how to get that money. The easy way out is of course asking for pocket money.

Though this might be effective in getting a decent sum to enter my wallet, I feel that it would not be the most honest way of making some money. The true value of money is learnt by a person only after he works hard for it. Thus I asked my mother to let me be employed by her. The thought seems very close to the fantastical but one can actually earn money through effort while being able to study.

When I confided this idea to my close friends, they were also surprised. But it turned out that they liked the idea. The process begins with finding something productive that you are good at. Once you have that cleared, you need to be able to covert the idea into action. Let me cite an example: A close friend of mine was and still is brilliant in drawing. So I told her that she might like to use her finesse and create some drawings in return for some money. She illustrated her grandmother's stories, earning quite a decent bit.

While you are free you can practise your strength and also use to gain employment. Remember your strengths. There will always be a place where that strength would help you even financially.

Here I will quote my own example. I am not much of an artist in any respect. But I found my strength in a practically unknowns sector to anyone below the age of twenty i.e. playing in the stock market. I help my Mom pick Stocks and she gives me a part of the profit. Also while I have money to spare, I put it myself in the market.

So your strength can be anything, use it well.

Aditya Ganesh, an enlightened teenager

The octogenarian takes to counseling in the twilight of his life, receives training in counseling skills and techniques from a reputed young trainer - attends classes, consisting of students in the age group of twenties a to fifties, not to single person beyond sixty. Is the octogenarian an odd man out in the class? No, young students of the class, in respectable voice and tone, ask the octogenarian, "Sir, you have rich experience in life, you can be a super counsellor, you can train us in counseling. Please tell us why you have taken to counseling this age?

This is a thought provoking question to the octogenarian and many others of this age. This question promotes me to introspection. He finds answer in his subconscious mind. Counselling skills and techniques are treasures of golden norms of philosophy and psychology. Philosophy here centers round the purpose of life - Is there any purpose of life?

An analysis reveals that even in twentieth century, evolution of man is not complete. Darwin's analysis is half way on the path. Today's marvelous achievements in the fields of science, technology and medicine have not contributed to the emotional evolution. We find man is more aggressive, and there is more loss of life and property now than during Second World War, or any war price to that.

COUNSELLING coupled  with Yoga can bring about TRANSFORMATION

At this point one school of thought may point out that royal path for emotional evolution and interpersonal relationship is provided in gems of all the religious scriptures of the world, ultimately realize AHAM BRAHMASMI. But the sad story in practise is, we have religions to hate each other but not to love each other. It is not the fault of religions but of religionists. The goal of religion is to reach the truth. Unfortunately, it is not there. In counselling, the quaint essence of all the religions of the world are codified in the presentable form, like vitamin capsules, acceptable to all classes of people, all ages and both the genders.

To cite an example, in stages of counselling first we are to greet the counsellee, This corresponds to NASTE. Secondly, counsellor is to reach out with empathy - at the emotional level - healthy interpersonal relationship corresponds to 'SARVE JANO SUKHINO BHAVANTHU'. Listening - our Upanishad's throughout lay emphasis on this. We find the essences of philosophical TRUTH are codified in presentable form in COUNSELLING.

Now the Study of psychology is still in infant stage. The science of psychology is only a century old. Counselling is mainly done with psychological experiences. Here again, we find that our ancestors, RISHIS practise Meditation to reach the truth. This again explain, the correlation between counselling and scriptural codes.   

In present day complex society, since religions have failed to realize SARVOJANO SUKHINO BHAVANTHU, counselling can impart this to the masses and march forward to reach TRUTH, the purpose of life. The octogenarian strongly believes that (in optimism) - COUNSELLING coupled  with Yoga can bring about TRANSFORMATION which religionists have failed to do.

I believe I have answered satisfactorily to the questions posed to the octogenarian by young classmates.

My Father

As the years passed, he would reach out further and further in order to keep in touch with the family and friends. Travelling was his hobby. Without it, he would not be able to meet those out of easy reach, would he? Loneliness was setting in as he was losing his friends one after the other, either through distance or death.

"He" was my father, who passed away recently of cardiac failure at the age of 78. It happened very suddenly and he died instantly, doing what he loved best- travelling. Coincidentally, and fortunately, he was not alone. His son was with him when it happened.

Dad used to travel so much that there were times when we, his family would, get paranoid, thinking of what could happen to him while he was alone on any one of his trips. But he would just brush our fears aside. He was a heart patient and a diabetic, but he was quite regular with his medical checks. Yet the question still remained: where did he get his stamina from?

Dad used to talk about how he dreaded the idea of being bed-ridden. Fortunately he escaped that fate.

Caring for others and Self-care

For an active person - no matter what age - to hang around doing nothing constructive is unthinkable. So Dad would go for regular walks, do yoga, get the bus into town, do some window shopping, visit various exhibitions and attend talks and lectures that were open to the public. He was a member of the Senior Citizens Club and he was the most respected senior member of the Toastmaster Club, with his extensive knowledge of the English language. This was in Bangalore where we live. He read and wrote a lot on his thoughts and feelings on various topics. Dad was involved in social work at the church and even sponsored a very poor girl with her study fees. She is now a qualified nurse.

Dad used to bring us first-hand news about everyone, from whom we might have been otherwise alienated. Incidentally, when we are younger, we may not have the time. As we get older, we may not have the energy/inclination. But nothing deterred our father. Sadly, it has taken his passing away to make us all realize what an amazing quality this 'reaching out' is.

Recently I met an old friend of our father. It was heartening to hear him commend Dad's habit of having made the effort to go to the interiors of Kerala to catch up with his old buddy, ignoring the discomforts and inconveniences of travelling to such  places. In fact, my family has started following in his steps in this respect, not so much the travelling bit, as in keeping in touch with relatives and old friends via mails or telephone. After all, what is the use of making new friends and ignoring the old. As they say 'Old is Gold'. So, keep 'REACHING OUT'!

Cheers to you Dad, May your tribe increase!

- Mary Vinayak

A Picture Coveys a Thousand Words

You need not be an artist. If you just take a pencil and let it flow with your thoughts, you can express so much. Children do it all the time, and they don't bother whether the drawing is good or not. Next time when you are sitting with nothing to do, just draw. And give it to someone you love.

You Drink First

When you lead a horse to water and it refuses to drink. pet the thirsty horse compassionately while you enjoy the water yourself. At the same time, be aware that you too refuse to drink from, even as those around you cannot understand why you hesitate. You'll often find that once you begin to drink from your own neglected source, the horse you'v been trying so desperately to help, begins to drink as well.

Books Are Our Best Friends

  • They are undemanding, they never talk, they are silent companions.
  • They never pass judgement, they only present facts.
  • They never intrude into out time or make demands.
  • They are not interfaced with commercial advertisements.
  • They are available 24/7.
  • They are light and easy to carry.
  • They follow us meekly wherever we take them, and can be read anywhere, from any page and any line.
  • They are still cheaper than TV, i-pods, computers, laptops, movies.
  • They don't mind even if we leave them unattended and fall off to sleep while reading them.

And also
A book gives us a wise look if we carry it around.

Good Old Days

As we grow older, we love to talk about the "good old days". I remember the days of my youth when we would roll our eyes and smirk at elderly people when they started off their stories. Now that I have come into the latter category, I have to make conscious efforts to refrain from talking the same way. Hence I shall not write about what used to happen in the Good Old Days, but let me tell you what I see in the Good New Days.

Good New Days - Consumerism

There has been a sudden and sharp rise of consumerism. We are bombarded with media advertisements that no longer request us to buy - they tell us we are fools and will repent if we DON'T buy right now. And of course lack of money is no reason not to buy. There is instant credit, given without your asking for it. In the war between mobile phones where they were offering mobiles for less and less down payments, I once saw a hoarding that read something like "Don't pay us, take a mobile and we will give you Rs.100/-!"

The next thing that happens after you buy is the pressure to throw away something that is still usable, just because a new model has come up. If you are still using the old model, however reliable and comfortable it is, you are a subject of ridicule. In this era of use and throw culture, I am wondering only about one thing, "What happens to long term relationships?"

Defined Relationships

We interact with dozens of people, even hundreds. We have defined relationships with labels like son, wife, cousin, boss, etc. We have many others under a generalized of definition of "friend" or acquaintance."

A few relationships give us a sense of warmth and a feeling of belonging. Others are more for convenience. Certain relationships last through a great deal of turbulence and the test of time, others just fizzle off the first road block. Some of us are very sensitive to our relationship and wish to please everyone around us. Many of us do not bother so deeply even if we lose out on a few relationships now and then. The more, sensitive we are the more we care for others' feelings; and the more value we attach to having companions in the journey of life.

At times we are lucky to find good friends among relatives, colleagues or neighbours. The most fortunate of human beings are those who have at least one or two people whom they can call their own, without an iota of doubt. To many of us such a privilege is denied. We go through life meetings, interacting, talking, discussing, but hardly sharing.

Search in Desire of Someone Special

Each one of us have a desire to share our innermost feelings with the special person - one who understands, cares, and accepts. In a world with six billion people we are looking for that one unique individual who can march to the same beat as us. Some call such a person a "soul mate". It is not important what name we give - we just KNOW that this person is for us, with us.

For many of us the search continues, lurking desire, an unmet need. Some of us have been frustrated so often that we have given up hope that we will ever find such a person. But experience tells me that such a person exists for each one of us. It is up to us to continue the search, deep the doors of the heart open, and recognise opportunity when it knocks. Your soul mate may be just round the corner. The question is, will you recognise him when you accost him?

Train the way you feel about yourself

All of us have feelings in a variety of moods and in myriad circumstances. We can train these feelings towards our own selves too.

Be your own pet. Be kind to yourself. Love yourself with all the compassion you are able to muster. Do not be your judge and juror. Shower yourself with everything you would want to get and give to your beloved pet. Perhaps if you do this and truly be a pet unto yourself - you may surprisingly feel no need to have another !!

Seven Secrets of Success

  1. Fan said : Be cool
  2. Roof said : Aim high
  3. Window said : See the World
  4. Clock said : Every minute is Precious
  5. Mirror said : reflect before you Act
  6. Calender said : Be up to date
  7. Door said: Push hard for your goals

What do you see?

An economist was asked to talk to a group of business people. She tackled up a big sheet of white paper. Then she drew a black spot on the paper and asked a man in the front row what he saw.

The man answered promptly, "A black spot"

The speaker asked every person in the room the same question and each replied, "A black spot"

With calm and deliberate emphasis, the speaker then said, "Yes, there is a black spot, but none of you mentioned the big sheet of white paper. And that's my speech."

Forgive but don't forget

Q: Once long back a close relative had hurt me very badly and the emotional scars still remain. While life has moved on, and we do not have much to do with each other, I just cannot forgive him. Normally I am very forgiving person, but in this particular case, my anger, hatred and desire for revenge are still very strong after so many years.

Is it better for me to confront him, hurt him the same way he hurt me, or tell everyone in the family what a nasty charter he is?

A: The real test of forgiveness comes only when someone has hurt you badly. The incident occurred many years ago. That time perhaps you were vulnerable and could not protect yourself, so he managed to hurt you so deeply. Buy as you yourself say, life has moved on, and he no longer is in a position to hurt you. But not forgiving him and keeping his thoughts in your mind, you are actually giving him a chance to keep hurting you emotionally even today.

Forgiveness has to be done within your own mind. You need not even tell him that you have forgiven him. Just tell him mentally "I no longer give you the right to keep intruding into my thoughts and hurting me. I have forgiven you and thus have removed you from my life. I will not "forget" but I have forgiven and will never allow you, or anyone like you to come into my life again. See the peace and tranquility such action brings.

Religion called Life

Because of his unusual name, and since he does not have a surname, people often ask Aab what religion he belongs to. And as usual, Aab is stumped. He would himself like to know, what faith he belongs to, if any. Everyone seems to have a religion, a community, a caste and a series of rituals. The only ritual Aab indulges in is - wandering on the roads and watching people closely. He wonders whether there can be a religion called "Life".

What a fool Aab is. He does not know that a religion needs to have a guru, a scripture, a long hierarchy of sub-gurus, and an elaborate system of do's and don'ts. Every one seems to know that except Aab. He hears learned and pious men thundering from high platforms about God's warmth. They sound so convincing as though they have just come from a personal conference with the Almighty in His sanctum sanctorum. Aab even hears the common man quoting the pious ones, dead and alive, seen or unseen, with such conviction. At times Aab wonders if he is the only one who is illiterate in maters of religion, while others seem to be graduates and post-graduates.

No, Aab is not an Atheist. He has enough intelligence to know that this Universe cannot be spinning away in abandon without certain forces controlling, directing and moderating it. He knows enough to understand that the tiniest and most helpless creatures would not have survived on this earth for thousands of year side by side with predators, unless there was a law of balance of nature. But he is not intelligent enough to give a name to this cosmic source of energy that binds us all together. What he sees and has to acknowledge very sadly is that religion divides humanity and any division goes against the laws of the Universe which all stand for Unity.

A Humble Request to God

Dear Mr God,

With all due respect, I do understand that you are holding the highest seat of authority and have the unilateral powers to give orders, pass laws, and distribute assets. I also appreciate the fact that you would be quite busy writing the intricate Destiny/Fate/Karma of billions of people, and I do hate bothering you with such petty things.

I am not even sure whether you are the correct person to send this application to, but then I do not know anyone else who has the powers to take action on this issue. Please don't get angry (actually I wonder if you DO get angry, because you are the one who is supposed to be doling out emotions to others)

My query is very simple. If you choose to distribute a lot of wealth to one person and make another one very poor, its okay by me. If you wish to give good health to one and make another one chronically sick, we can still tolerate it. If you even wish to give fame and glory to one, and let the other wallow in failure and monotony, I will not protest. What I do not understand is, why do you give deep depressions and sadness to one person and allow another person to feel happy from within? Why do you take away the ability of some people to form good relationships, to feel at peace with oneself, and to cope with the ups and downs of life? That's unfair.

I don't know if you are open to bribes, but if you are, please let me know your rate. I want you to please give back to people their ability to cope with all the misfortunes and sadness that you send their way. That's all I ask of you. Can you tell me the proper channel through which I can send in my application?

- A Human

Implement what you have learnt

Massilon French bishop and gifted orator, used to say, 'I don't want people leaving my church saying, "What a wonderful sermon, what a wonderful preacher", I want them to go out saying, "I will do something".'

It is said that the best gift you can give to a Guru is to carry out what he has taught you. I wonder how many of us do so. Very often we listen, praise and talk a lot about what we have heard. The only thing we do not do is  implement what we have learnt. Can I ask all those who are reading this, to try and practise this simple formula?

Peace within and Harmony with others

If you can give up a want
To feed a starving need
If you stop the urge to flaunt
And curb your hungry greed

If you can shed a heartfelt tear
When you see a crying face
If you can spread joy and cheer
With courage and grace

If you give of what you possess
And also of what you desire
Give it to he who has less
And kindle in him the fire.

To rise above his station
To make a useful life
If you could feel the elation
Of wiping of his strife

If your mission statement reads
PEACE within, HARMONY with others
Then you have sown the seeds
For your sisters and your brothers

- Sarita Talwani



See Dr. Ali Khwaja's Thought on
Start With These Steps - For Peace And Harmony

Child Sexual Abuse

Penny stood by the gate The night was dark and scary. The trees looked so alive. She could see the lights of her home through the treas streaming down her face. Why was she crying? Peering through the trees the moon cast funny shadows on the path. She was petrified!

She thought of "red eyes". Mum always scared her saying "red eyes" would take her away if she wasn't good. Hadn't she seen him peering through the curtains? Looking awfully angry at little girls! She cried harder, feeling sorry for herself. She looked down at the chocolate she had squashed. Dogs howled, startling her. She wanted to run back.

She thought of the two uncles who had taken her to their room. They were students staying in the boarding house near by. They had waylaid her on the way from Nicky's, luring her with chocolates. They lead her down , one stood watch, the other forced himself on her.

She felt she was lifted out of her body watching him hurt her there, a hand covering her mouth; she wanted to scream, she tried to make a noise. She felt suffocated!

Gasping for air; she was at the gate, she saw "red eyes" standing there looking at her. His red eyes filled with tears. She wanted to bolt but was rooted! She could hear mum calling out her name. Red eyes held his hand towards her, she felt comforted by the look in his eyes.

Sniffing, she walked towards his outstretched hand.

What is being good?

"My Mom's good"; "Hey! You're good"; " "Thank God! My daughter-in-law is quite good". We keep hearing such responses with this word "good" quite often, isn't it? What actually does "good" reveal about the person's attribute, who possesses it? An inherited quality - adopted submissiveness, a power of zero! In their interpersonal relationships, an ignorant feeling towards situation(s), though the reactions due to the situation(s) have hurt their feelings, they are not able to react, respond! OR is it the real feeling of ACCEPTANCE OF PEOPLE BEING DIFFERENT (A RESPECT for this RIGHT of the people being different)? OR IS IT THE MYTH OF LOVE?? !!

Resentment

Now considering this person with this lovely tag of "goodness" - Has this attributed tag help him/her to lead a satisfied, comfortable feeling with life's situations? I would really love to record a survey with these "goody goody" people and their sincere arousal and resentment of FEELINGS.

Perhaps all "this" has erupted in my own little cozy mind because I'm in this category of "goody" people. Yes!! Over the years, my interactions with people, dealing with situations had been a burnt, a deep hurt playing in my emotions. I was stumbling with confusions. But Now! Now! Into the depth of this lovely knowledge about human "MIND AND BEHAVIOUR", I have learnt a lot, and am still learning; through interactions with people with different attitudes, morals, values, etc., Dealing with situations has created an entirely different ME!

Awareness of SELF, learning to live with others, to lead a life with the spell of contentment and happiness has to be created in all of us and naturally nurtured also.

People are all kind, all are loving, but constantly need security and love. LOVE - to give back much more than the GOOD you are getting.

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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?
  • Is your marriage in trouble?
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  • Do you feel overwhelmed by anxiety and fear?

Just mail your counsellor now, sharing your problems, your worries, your anxieties, your fears. Your counsellor will reply to you, and be there for you until you need her to help you cope and get going.

Leading Banjara Academy's online email counselling team of volunteer-counsellors, I realize it is not an easy task reaching out to a person one has never met, never seen, without the added advantage of gestures, eye contact, a gentle reassuring touch, tone of voice and yet providing empathy, positive strokes, making the person feel heard and understood.

With the aid of only written words, it is quite a task building trust, making people open up and share and helping them cope and feel better. So when in many instances they write back saying thank you and that they feel so much better, the feeling one gets is priceless and incomparable - knowing one has done something right, something good!

Hats off to all the volunteeer-counsellors of Banjara Academy who have been carrying on this work silently, anonymously for the last couple of years. Truly commendable! - Ali Khwaja

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