Shared Thoughts

"Aye! ladkee, paani mein haath mat lagao", screamed Mannu, the boatman, to a little girl seated at the far end of the boat. I was one of the passengers enjoying a ride on the placid waters of the Narmada on a crisp and cool day many years ago, admiring the famed Marble Rocks of Jabalpur and noticed that the girl could just about skim the surface of water with her tiny hand, so little was she.

Some passengers felt the boatman was playing spoiltsport and asked him "Why are you denying the little kid some fun? After all her mother is sitting by her side." However, the boatman would have none of it and sternly admonished the mother that she should have a greater sense of responsibility for the child. He threatened to bring the boat to a dead stop unless the child was taken out of reach of the water and, after some exchange of words, the matter was resolved, with the mother complying, albeit reluctantly.

The ride continued for about an hour or so and I was enthralled by the hues of the rocks, which have brought such glory to Marble Rocks. Now green, now blue, now yellow, now red, now brown, the layered colours were reflected in the water, creating the illusion of a deeper ravine than the Narmada had curved out of the rocks over a hundred of years. The greenery around and the azure sky lent the languid river and unreal, deep, blue- green colour. I was fascinated too, by the gutsiness of 'sadhus' who stoop atop the tall cliffs and periodically took a dive into the deep waters, with the grace of diving kingfishers and emerged out of the water, some distance away, unscathed, with a triumphant look at us through the their dripping wet locks of hair.

At the end of the ride, I spoke to Munna. "Munna, that was a nice ride, but why were you so worked up over that little child dipping her hand in the water?" "Saab", Munna began at the dhaba to which we retired. "A friend of mine, Bhola, brought his grandchild, Pyari, for a boat ride some 15 or maybe 20 years ago on a fine day like today. Pyari had been orphaned in a fire that had claimed both her parents when she was two years old and so Bhola was everything to her and she was everything to Bhola. During that particular ride, Pyari stuck out her hand in the water playfully every now and then and occasionally splashed her grandpa's face with water scooped out of Narmada-mayi.

"Everything was fine until Pyari suddenly shrieked 'Dadajee, mujhe bachao...' When Bhola turned he saw the child has been partly pulled into the water by a crocodile. Instinctively he held the child by her leg and tried to pull her in. Everyone else too now looked at Pyari and, unthinkingly, moved over in the boat towards Pyari with the intention of pulling the child out of the animal's jaws. Some tried to grab Pyari's leg as Bhola had done and some tried to hold her waist and some her Kameez. In the melee, the boat began to rock dangerously and Bhola shouted to the passengers to get back to their seats.

"Some went back, but some wouldn't listen to him. The crocodile violently tried to drag its prey into the water and was lashing the little body about, sending up huge sprays of water. The situation was hopeless and it was then that Bhol's voice boomed 'Arrey, bhailog, is bachhi ko chhod do, yeh aadha maree hai, bachegi nahi, lekin aap sab is nao ko palta denge (Folks let this girl go, she is already half-dead, she won't survive, but you will all cause the boat to capsize). Thereupon the good samaritans let go of the child, who was quickly taken away by the Yamdhoot. A major disaster was averted, but Bhola sacrificed his dearest grandchild in the process. Since then that spot is referred to as 'Qurbani Sthal' (place of sacrifice) by the local people.

Munna paused for a while and then said "Bhola is now dead. He lived with his sorrow for 2 or 3 years after that incident, but what actually killed him, apart from the trauma of the loss of his dearest grandchild, was the insinuation people made about him as a selfish old man. You see Bhola did not know how to swim and many people thought he sacrificed the child to save his own life; but he did what he did because he thought many of his co-passengers in the boat, who might not have known how to swim to safety, would have perished, if Payri's life was not sacrificed. His concern for others was misunderstood as concern for his own life and disregard for the little girl's life. Constantly sniggered at and ridiculed by others, including those who survived because of him, he went into a shell. He started to entertain self-doubt and would ramble incoherently about his action. He began to avoid people. The final denouement came when the villagers started to call him 'pagla' and eventually he started to behave like one. He surely did not deserve such a fate."

"When I born, I black
When I grown up, I black,
When I go in sun, I black
When I'm scared, I black
When I'm sick, I black
And when I die, I still black.

And you, White Fella,
When you born, you pink
When you grow up, you white
When you go in sun, you red
When you cold, you blue
When you scared, you yellow,
When you sick, you green
And When you die, you grey........
And you calling me Coloured?

Anonymus (assumed to be written by an African Kid and this poem won best poem award in 2005)

Loneliness -'The biggest epidemic'

Loneliness

I see it everywhere and know how to overcome it

I know what loneliness is. I have not only experienced it, I have seen it written in bold capital letters on people's faces - people who laugh, dress up well, mix freely, and communicate with ease. Because when I look at faces, I do not stop at the surface. My eyes go deeper into the mind, and there I see a completely different picture. I feel that people are like the theatre stage. Under the bright spotlights, with full make-up and rehearsed lines, there is glamour, attraction, thrills and laughter. Look just a little behind the edge of the stage and there is the ugly side of unkempt faces and irregular material, coupled with minds that show anxiety and maybe even frustration. Yet, it is these minds that make the show entertaining for others.

So are the lonely people. They are the ones who make life better for others to enjoy the show called life. But then, I am disturbed that anyone in this world should actually be lonely. There are people suffering from living Together Loneliness, having relatives, family and friends all around them, but mentally cut-off. There are those who are more lonely in crowds than when they are alone.

Great spiritual leaders talk about overcoming loneliness. They show the path to merge with the Creator, thus surrendering your very being and becoming one with the Universe. I am a very small, ordinary and un-enlightened person. I can feel one with a stray dog, with a row of ants, with a paper boat flowing in rain water - but not beyond that. The funny thing is that these very beings, I firmly believe, can take away loneliness. But some of us doggedly hang on to our individuality, isolating ourselves from so many wonderful things around us. I want to help them. Some listen to me, some don't. Some listen and forget; some do change and enjoy their new found warmth.

Q: We are a nice nuclear family, and by God's Grace, do not have any problem of finance, health, etc. Each family member is happy individually, but I find more and more that we are drifting away from each other. We do family activities routinely, but the warmth is just not there. It has come to a stage where, other than mundane matters, no one even talks to each other. Is this normal?

A: It is definitely not normal. In today's age, the strongest factor that can hold the family together is emotional sharing. The family is the ultimate refuge where one returns to after facing an increasingly insensitive world. Whether any other facilities are available or not, a home should offer the welcome of smiling faces, and genuine concern about each other. You can make  a beginning by improving communication. Start not only talking about your feelings, ask each member individually about theirs.  If necessary, use alternative methods of communication, like chits on the fridge, post-it notes in drawers or cupboards, sending e-mail or greeting cards by post. Teach each member to share the joys and sorrows of the others. Emotional sharing should eventually become a habit in the family.

Child's developmental needs

In the growth and development of a child, emotional intelligence is more important than physical milestone. The role of parents, teachers and concerned adults is to mold every child to grow up feeling secure, loved, and with a sense of self worth.

Self-esteem is built or destroyed in the early years of life. Once a child grows up with a lack of self esteem, it is very difficult to build it back in adult years, and the individual may go through life feeling lonely, worthless, and inadequate. Hence a person with very good qualities may not be able to live life to its fullest because he will keep pulling himself back.

One can broadly classify a child's emotional needs into two categories:

  1. need to be loved
  2. need to feel secure

Most parents understand the first need very well, and express it in diverse ways, sometimes even over indulging a child. It is the second need, which is often not understood fully. A child needs to feel that his parents are omnipotent and omnipresent. At the same time he needs to be given the reassurance that whether he does good deeds or bad, he will still be accepted by his parents unconditionally. Often in disciplining, parents inadvertently use phrases such as "Why were you born?" or "I wish you were dead", or even "If you don't behave , I will go away". They do not realize the impact such statements may have on the child's mind, giving him a feeling of low self worth and the fear of rejection. This could leave permanent marks on the child's psyche, bringing down his self-esteem.

A few tips to understand how self-esteem of a child can be bolstered:

  1. Give positive strokes whenever a child does something good, genuinely identifying the nice things.
  2. Do not put pressure on the child to perform, and definitely do not give him the impression that he will be loved and accepted more if he does better.
  3. Never compare a child to a sibling, friend or stranger. Tell him that he can and should put in more efforts, and you are there to support him.
  4. Do not pass on adult worries like household, finances, setbacks in carrier, etc to a child.
  5. Periodically recollect his good qualities and tell him how proud you are of him.
  6. When scolding, talk about the acts done by the child (and how they effect you), and do not denigrate him as a person.
  7. The number of times you scold your child should be balanced with at least an equal number of times that you praise or compliment him.

A final point: Remember that whenever in doubt, do not lecture the child; rather let him talk. If the child feels free to talk about anything and everything to his parents, most problems can be identified and nipped in the bud.

See the book on Emotional Intelligence

Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand;
Make the mighty ocean,
And the pleasant land.

Little words of kindness,
How they cheer the heart;
What a world of gladness,
Will a smile impart!

Little acts of kindness,
Nothing do they cost;
Yet, when they are wanting,
Life's est charm is lost.

Little acts of kindness,
Richest gems of earth,
Thoughts they seem but trifles,
Priceless is their worth.

Little deeds of kindness,
Little words of love,
Make our earth an Eden,
Like the Heaven above.

Julia Carney, 1845 (contributed by Aruna)

Did you know that you are the thinker of your own thoughts? No one knows exactly where thoughts come from but they come from being alive. 'Thinking' about something can occur over several days or even within a passing second. Feelings follow, which is the direct result of thought. Feelings respond to a thought, how much ever time the thought takes.

'Thoughts' do not happen to us, but it is something that we do. How many of us would have really sensed that our 'thinker' of our own 'thoughts' would have been the cause of our own sufferings?

'Thoughts' are  innocently interpreted as if they were 'reality' but thoughts are merely an 'ability' that we posses. We produce our very own thoughts. Thoughts can be misunderstood, in this respect of 'reality' and 'ability' and this lack of understanding affects whom ... - 'The thinker' himself.

Now your 'thought' about a situation or a circumstance makes you frustrated. The way we think about something, and most important - the way we relate to our thinking will determine the effect of the circumstance. Only thoughts bring meaning to the circumstances. Circumstances cause the stimulation, which is itself neutral and our 'thoughts' are the 'response'. They can and will mean entirely different to different people. Isn't it true?

Our thoughts are filled with memories of our past, our upbringing, the information (stimulation) that we have accumulated throughout our lifetime. They empower us to continue to see things negatively or positively to the same situation or circumstance over and over again, relating it to our present experiences. Our beliefs (social or religious) are exactly the thoughts of past conditioning and experiences.

Now... we with out 'thought - conditioned' system do not try to sense the value in others' believes or their points of view. This stubborn 'thought makes us muddle into unprofitable arguments, feeling resentful, confused or angry at others, who don't 'see' things 'our way'. Each 'thought' is unique to itself. It is impossible for two human beings to see things precisely alike. There are no exceptions to this rule. Understanding this fact, you can virtually eliminate quarrels. When we expect to see things differently, when accept that others will do things differently, and when we understand that others will react differently, then we do to the same 'stimulus', the 'compassion' we have for ourselves and others 'rises'. When we expect otherwise, the potential for 'conflict' exist. This is the 'REAL TRUTH'

With our 'beautiful thoughts' of expectations, we are free to experience the unique essence of every person, a nice feeling and maximizing our divinity in our relationship with others.

Dreams of the man I love

I have a dream
That one day
I see only smiles
In eyes of my loved one

One day all my worries
And tensions will be eased
In his very presence
One day I will share all my dreams with him
And one day he will walk with me
In all the ups and downs of life
One day he will lend his shoulder
To cry my heart out

I have a dream -
One day he will make my
Life worth living.

I miss my friend from the streets

Jimmy is dead. He quietly went to the backyard and lay down in a corner in the afternoon, and passed away. Jimmy had strolled in as a young dog eleven years ago when we built the current  house. He stuck around till his last day. Many other stray dogs became part of our family, some more or less permanently, others for short durations before they moved on. Jimmy did not go anywhere.

There were days when other dogs would try to push Jimmy out of his favourite place in the verandah. At times he would be forceful, growling and moving forward menacingly, while on other occasions he would be very docile and find himself a less important corner of the compound.

Jimmy's tail was a constant bond between me and him. Even when he is in deep sleep, a whispered "Jimmee" from me, and his tail would twitch, pat the floor a couple of times and he would go back into slumber. He would come bounding to the gate to receive me when I returned home, and his vigorously wagging tail would express his love and happiness as no words ever could. Whether any dog was at home to receive me or not, Jimmy inevitably was. For eleven long years. And yesterday, his tail stopped wagging.

I don't know who to share this grief with. I know that I am crying for myself, not for Jimmy. He lived the life of a stray dog. No diet food, no high calorie mutton for him. He lived his entire life on left overs. No baths, not even an entry into the warmth of the house when it was pouring cats and dogs outside. I don't know how much he enjoyed life. I don't know where he is now, if he is. I do know that I am crying. Not for Jimmy, but for myself, for having lost a good friend who gave me much more than I ever could give him.

Carve your day

  1. Look forward to a productive day ahead. Watch the sunrise at least once a week to be with nature. Starting the day off  well is a powerful strategy for self- renewal and personal effectiveness.
  2. Do not allow those things that matter the most in your life be at the mercy of activities that matter the least. Every day take the time to ask yourself the question "Is this the best use of my time and energy?" Time management is life management so guard your time with great care.
  3. Always answer the phone with enthusiasm in your voice and show your appreciation for the caller. Good phone manners are essential. To convey authority on the line, stand up. This will instill further confidence in your voice.
  4. Through out the day we all get inspiration and excellent ides. Capture them. Keep a set of cards (the size of business cards; available at most stationery stores) in your wallet along with a pencil to jot down these insights. When you get home, put these ideas in a central place such as coil notepad and review them from time to time. As noted by Oliver Wendell Holmes, " Man's mind once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions."
  5. Set aside every Sunday evening for yourself and be strongly disciplined with this habit. Use this period to plan your week visualize your encounters and what you want to achieve, to read new materials and inspirational books, to listen to soft soothing music and to simply relax. This habit will serve as your anchor throughout the coming week.
  6. Always remember the key principle that the quality of your life is the quality of your communication. This means the way you communicate with others and, more importantly, the way you communicate with yourself. What you focus on is what you get. If you look for the positive this is what you get. This is a fundamental law of Nature.
  7. Stay on purpose, not on outcome. In other words, do the task because it is what you love to do or because it will help someone or is a valuable exercise. Don't do it for the money or the recognition. Those will come naturally. This is the way of the world.
  8. Laugh for five minutes in front of the mirror each morning. Laughter activities many beneficial chemicals within the body that place us into a very joyous state. Laughter also returns the body to a state of balance. Laughter therapy has been regularly used to heal persons with varied ailments and is a wonderful tonic for life's ills. While the average 4-year-old laughs 500 times a day, the average adult is lucky to laugh 15 times a day. Revitalize the habit of laughter, it will put far more living into your life.

- Contributed by Kripa

Court ordeals of judges and lawyers

We feel too as we are human beings

If you think against hopelessness, grieving faces is generally a common sight in hospitals. Let me tell you that I witnessed it in a Court of Law as well, a Family Court to be more precise. Making way inside the jam-packed court halls with hardly any place to even stand, you actually enter into the lives of traumatized people, tortured parties, their shattered parents, helpless siblings, concerned friends, victimized children, you can see them all waiting, waiting to serve a tie, a bond of marriage.

Every case has its own sob story and it is truly heartrending to sit there and watch people narrate their ordeal. It is sad that one is forced to share something so personal before complete strangers. I can't stop thinking what did those innocent little kids do to deserve this. At an age when they should be reading fairy tales and given lessons on family bondings, they have to be attending courts totally unaware of what is happening between their parents. They have absolutely no clue why they meet  a parent once a month, why they get lovely gifts and their chocolates only on that 'special day'. Shuttling their lives between father and mother will they ever get the love of a family someday? I am nobody to comment if those naive minds are really tutored, brainwashed or instigated but one thing I am sure of is that they don't want to go through this trauma. I am sure none of us want any child to go through that agonizing phase. Then why is all this happening? Isn't it our duty to be more responsible towards ourselves, our commitments and leave a conducive environment, a healthier society, inter alia for the younger generation?

Every time I attend a Matrimonial Case I self interrogate asking am I doing something wrong? Invariably, I walk out of the Court Hall feeling guilty because for me a relationship like marriage is sacred and is unbreakable. It is quiet hard to accept that things may go wrong and such be severed. I still can't digest the fact that getting away from such a huge responsibility is so easy. If people think advocates are heartless, insensitive, indifferent - let me remind you that we are human beings too. It is not a matter of winning or losing for us, it is only getting someone the relief that they are seeking for.

It is indeed hard to see people suffer silently, to be a part of someone's fight, to weigh the responsibility of a man towards his wife and children in terms of money, to be a negotiator to see that the child's life being divided between parents and finally to accept the reality that all this is happening around us devastating many lives. If being a counsel this is my plight then I always wonder how does the decision maker, day in and day out witness such despair and still doesn't get carried away, and gives a Judgement as fair as he possibly can. Hats off to you, your Honour.

My unique fill-in-the-blanks newspaper

I intend to bring out a unique newspaper that will have a present format like the one given below. Every morning only the blanks will be filled in with latest information. This will save time, money and energy.

  • In a fresh outbreak of violence in ________, _________ civilians and _______ _________ soldiers were killed.
  • Police Commissioner of ___________ city arrested for links with the underworld, while the Don is still hiding in _________-     country.
  • Term of inquiry commission probing into the communal riots of the year 1964 extended by another _________- year.
  • State government has sought _____________ ,000 crores as drought / flood (tick appropriate one) relief from the centre.
  • Traffic will be curbed on the following roads due to VIP movement and morchas :______________ for the next two days.
  • One more Minister/MP of _____________ State has been charged - sheeted in sex and corruption case.
  • Famous Actor _________ appeared in ____________ court on criminal charges.
  • Cricket player _____ suspended for malpractice and match fixing.
  • Senior citizen murdered in __________ locality.
  • State Government Ministry to be expanded soon.
  • Talks with Pakistan are progressing  smoothly.
  • Sex scandal unearthed in ____________ city involving top VIPs.
  • Government will soon give final clearance for Bangalore International Airport.
  • Hike in petrol price likely.
  • CM lays foundation stone for Rs. ___, 000 crore projects to come up in near future.

See Dr. Ali Khwaja's thoughts on Media

Be not so busy making a living that you have no time to live

Everyone around me is busy. They are all rushing off somewhere, or held up else where. I have all the time in the world. I have been making very serious efforts, but I just do not seem to get as occupied as people around me.

Perhaps I should take some training of the "How to become Busy in Thirty Days" type. Or at least someone should teach me how to appear busy. As the lawyers say, "It is not enough that justice is done, it should also appear that justice is done." Yes, the world chases only those who seem to have no time for others. It is certainly good to be gainfully occupied. But occupied 24/7? With no time for anyone else, no time for your own self?

People take appointments with me. I make a meticulous note in my diary, make sure that I keep myself free, refuse to take up any other activity at that time, and ... keep waiting for the person who does not turn up! All I can do is to point out to them the proverb I have kept in my cabin: "Be not so busy making a living that you have no time to live."

Quotable quotes

JUST FOR TODAY

Just for today I will try to live through this day not to tackle my whole life problems at the once. Just for today, I will be agreeable, I will look as well as I can, dress as becomingly as possible, talk low, act courtesously, be liberal with praise, critise not at all not find fault with anything and not try to regulate nor improvr anyone."
Dale Carnegine

BUTTERFLIES

Don't chase butterflies
because they will either fly away,
or be destroyed by you.
Grow Flowers for the them.
And they will come to you in love.

LONELINESS

Loneliness may be the next disease of the century, as we live alone, work alone, and play alone, modulated by our modems, our Walkmans or our television.
Charles Handy

Nonconformists often have greater success!

Don't be afraid to think in your own way and act accordingly. If everyone is thinking alike, then someone isn't thinking, George S PattonSriram asks his friend Mahendra, "Where have you been? I've been waiting here for you for 15 minutes. They are ready to give our lunch reservations away."

Mahendra nervously replies, "Sorry Sir, I was waiting in line at the ATM. Everyone thought one of the ATM machines was broken, so we waited in the line at the single machine that we believed was working. Luckily there was a young man in a rush who tried the other machine. It was working all along. We just assumed that it was broken. We would have been waiting for another 15 minutes if it weren't for that young man who couldn't wait."

Sriram thinks, "No wonder this guy can't succeed in his job. He just follows the crowd."

Sriram challenges Mahendra, "Why didn't you see if the other ATM machine was working yourself? Why did you wait?"

Mahendra replies, "I didn't want to make a scene. It would be embarrassing if it turned out that I was wrong. It was better to wait." Mahendra is a conformist, and extreme conformity is everyone's worst enemy.

Mahendra typifies conformity at its worst. He cares too much about what other people think. He is afraid to take a reasonable risk that has only minor potentially negative consequences. He doesn't take initiative. This act of conformity illustrates how the masses blindly react to the ups and downs of their lives.

Why does the typical 'common man' conform?


Looking good: Am I making the right impression?

Firstly, the conformist is overly concerned with issues of self-presentation. He or she is interested in looking good. This concern with making the "right" impression has been programmed into his or her psyche from childhood. It is so pervasive that the person is always worrying about making a good impression even when it is not necessary. He or she may hold on to an argument, for example, to save face. Or, he or she may unconsciously think, "I don't want to do anything too innovative and feel like I need to explain it to my friends. I might come off as a fool."

In the end, who cares what anyone thinks? If you have trouble, think. If you have trouble with conformity, it's vital to look inward for what you want to do. Don't let other people determine what you want to do.

Fear of failure: Wouldn't it be shameful if I took a risk and failed?

Secondly, the typical 'common man' is afraid of taking a risk. Again, there's fear of shame that lies behind conformity. The person who ensures conformity needs to be right. The worst thing he or she can do is to take risk, fail, and face the consequences.

So what if you fail? Everyone fails. Ask successful persons and you'll hear from them that they have had more failures than successes.

Sachin Tendulkar will tell you on how many crucial occasions he has wished he hadn't got out though he has so many world records. Anil Kumble has been hit several times for a six, and Roger Federer doesn't always break through the defence. The Bee Gees have a host of records that no one even bothers listening to, and for every successful invention such as the light bulb, Thomas Edison had a string of failed inventions. Failure is inevitable if you are seeking success.

You can go your own way and emerge a winner!

The successful person isn't afraid of looking bad, afraid of taking a risk, or afraid of failure.

There's a difference between breaking the rules just to be a rebel, and not being concerned with rules. The successful architect or novelist isn't afraid to break the rules. He/she is a rugged individualist.

So if you want to be a winner, don't be afraid to take risks. Protect yourself with proper risk management, but don't hold back. Move beyond your comfort zone little by little. It may take a little time, but eventually, you'll learn to break the rules when you need to go your own way, and you will emerge a winner.

You might appear like a nonconformist but set your own treand by doing what you believe in. Be common in nothing. Especially not in taste. It is great and wise to be ill at ease when your deeds please the mob. Baltasar Gracian, Art of Worldly Wisdom.

How to make long lasting friends?

Q: For a long time I have been losing friends one after another. Whenever I like someone, he drifts away from me, and some who do keep in touch at times hurt me so badly that I don't feel like talking to them. I am an adult and I feel there is something wrong with me. What do you think?

A: No, I don't think there is anything wrong with you. It is just that you need to probably change your approach. People drift away not because you are not a nice person, but because their interest is not being fulfilled, and they are not getting any stimulation in their interactions with you. Start taking interest in whatever is important to your friend, inquire about it, discuss, and support his feelings even if you cannot support his actions. Genuinely get involved mentally in issues that are important to him. At times even ask him frankly how your interactions with him are.

It is probable that since you do not have good friends, you are at times tolerating and going closer to those who are actually not very compatible with you. Such people will inevitably hurt you in some way or the other. When you find that there is a chance that a friend may not trust you nicely, try to minimize your interactions with him, and keep him at a distance. Focus more on slowly and steadily strengthening your relationship with those who You Really like and care for.

Not our cat, but we still love!

Cats are very common. They are introduced to us even in our 'play-school' days through some popular, nursery rhymes. As we know, cats are peace loving and beautiful creatures, yet they are cited to describe indecision or opportunistic tendencies, as in the oft-quoted phrase "cat on the fence". A cat's inborn right to sit on a fence or a wall, is very badly maligned. But cats are not bothered over it!

WE have become friendly with a cat lately (we means self and my better half). She just walked in one day (or evening) stared at us, gave a friendly mew and walked inside to locate the kitchen - just to seek food and not for any 'vaastu' investigation. My wife has not one but several soft corners in her heart - for cats, dogs, squirrels and birds that reciprocate love. She offered some milk (human hospitality) and the cat lapped it up instantly. "Somebody's cat, and has strayed off", she remarked. "It will go back home", she said in conviction. But her prophecy had no effect on the cat, who continued to live in our street. She dropped in quite often for refreshment and to snatch a nap on the divan. My wife kept telling the cat, "See, you are not our cat. Go back to your people".

But the cat stayed, we had to accept the event. Yet, later developments proved that stayed is an understatement. She lived happily, loved, conceived, littered and prospered. And the littering is continuing as an ongoing process - as frequently as the law of biology of the species permit. We have had trouble finding homes for the kittens. Over a dozen kittens of 'not our cat' are now in as many homes. May their tribe increase!

Nearly a month back, my wife sensed that the cat was searching for a 'Maternity ward' and started cautioning the animal that she was not to 'do it there'. But, as I have recorded earlier, this cat is not open to any sort of briefing or counseling. My wife had to leave station on a mission and I was left alone with the cat. I did not repeat instructions, but I took all other precautions. I kept all doors closed and firmly believed that the cat will have to look for a new place now with the sagging-belly and I knew that she was 'still on the job'. I felt relieved. One day, self and a neighbour observed that the cat had 'done it'. Feeling sure that it was not in our house this time I asked the neighbours to see if it was in their houses. They all gave a negative reply next day. Then, where? A thought flashed in my mind. I ran upstairs and gave a look in the small room, where some old blankets were stored. I was right - the cat was there with four tiny kittens. I bolted the door alright, but the ventilator was open. This proves our belief. Even if all doors are barred, God opens a window or ventilator.

Do we really 'belong' to some place?

"Where do you belong to?" People often ask this question to new persons they meet.  Whenever someone asks this to Aab, he is puzzled.  He would perhaps be able to answer the "where" if he knew the meaning of "belong". On the one side, he firmly believes that everyone and everything in this universe is connected.  On the other, he wonders who belongs to who.  When we cannot even own the air we breathe, how can places own us?

Aab sits on a patch of ground and wonders whether he can belong to it.  He walks on a road and muses whether he belongs to it.  He walks on a road and muses whether he belongs to the path.  He looks up at the sky and clouds and refuses to believe that he can belong even to a tiny patch in it.  And as if to prove his point, the clouds move away, change shape, disintegrate and disappear.

He listens with amusement when people talk proudly about their ancestry, their roots, their "native" place, and their possessiveness over it.  There is such a strong need to belong as though by ourselves we are incomplete. We need to reassure our fickle minds and appease our insecurity by the reassurance that we are not alone and we need not fend for ourselves.  But Aab finds a strange relief in not belonging.  He has no home town, no mother tongue, no family tree.  Every moment that he is with any friend or stranger, he feels belonged to that person.  When someone reaches out to him, he holds the hand, when someone moves back, he moves on.

For a better maid-mistress relationsip

Maid-Mistress relationship!! Huhh.... BP really goes high. A very important relationship at least in India, more than husband-wife relationship. All the mental health of the family typically depends on how really this maid-mistress relationship is working!!!!

If one carefully reads out "MAID" it has AID in its spelling. If thought carefully dosen't maid really serve as a mental-aid for her Mistress by taking care of small but important day-today activities like sweeping, dusting, mopping, washing, etc.? Since these activities are carried out daily by the maid, her mistress finds their importance only when the maid is absent.

Now comes the word "MISTRESS". The small word that dominates the overall word is STRESS. Mistress a stressful human being who really loses her mental balance in absence of maid or when maid refuses to work accordingly.

So, how really one should work for bettering maid-mistress relationship?

I think, both maid and mistress should behave tactfully with each other making sure nobody takes advantage. Relationship should be appropriate - not too friendly not too distance. Right at the beginning, both should make things very clear to each other like - timing, kind of work, salary, holidays, etc. Thus both should clearly point out expectations from each other. Both should give time to adjust with each other.

Also, in my opinion mistress should take a little more effort for bettering the relationship. Instead of looking at the relationship as servant-master relationship, it should be seen as maid-mistress relationship. Try and appreciate the good work done at regular intervals genuinely as these are the people who get the least appreciation.

Last but not the least, a final caution to the mistress - make yourself mentally tough to start learning how to recover from shocks - as it really helps when the maid finally leaves after all your efforts.


See Dr. Ali Khwaja's thoughts on Nurture Your Relationships

Related Thoughts on Relationships
Nurture Your Close Relationships
Keeping A Relationship
Giving Up On A Relatonship
Building Relationship

See Report on
Understanding and Building Relationships

The Best Lesson I Ever Learnt: Overcoming hurdles with positive spirit!

Hello Sir,
Today I was going through the paper (Vijay Times) and I came across an article by you. Suddenly I remembered Hema, the most wonderful lady I have ever met. I was writing about her sometime ago and just decided to share it with you.

Sometimes I wonder whether miracles do take place in our everyday life or is it just our imagination wanting to please us. Miracle is a word used in regard to me very often. It is the word which made a lot of difference to me. I was born feet first in an era when women would not go to the hospitals to deliver kids and they say it is a miracle that I did not slurp off my mother's life. Thank God for that. Then it is a miracle that I could walk with my disability. Then the long wait by my parents for a miracle to cure me. They even shifted to Whitefield so that the miracle would be close at hand to them. They always told me to have faith and that it will happen. "In seconds you will see that the disability has just disappeared. Pray intently. God is kind to small children. Have faith. Or else you will be the loser".

But then I did not believe them. I don't know what was wrong with me. I just thought that it can't be like that. I was born with a disabled foot where it is twisted and suddenly it is going to be like a normal foot was not easily digested by me. I forced myself to have faith, pray intently but inside me the doubt always lingered. So I gave up. I grew up with my disability. But it did not control me, I had it under my control. I walked, ran, jumped and did everything I felt like doing and my disability just watched me helplessly unable to stop me. But it was there watching me always and its presence made me uncomfortable at times.

One day I found it was not there anymore. It had just disappeared like my parents told me. The miracle had taken place. And who worked the Miracle? It was just a simple person, a friend, by name Hema. She was the lady who made a lot of difference to my life. I met her when I was going through a very rough time. I had so much of burden on me that I felt sure that God wouldn't let me down because if he did, then the burden would be on his shoulders and he would not wan it . I was almost on verge of blaming God for not being fair to me, but then she stopped me. The lady who had mobility in just one hand, yet so calm, smiling and that too in such a genuine way that it deeply entered my heart, asking me to be comfortable she just did it.

It was her calm approach that impressed me. Not blaming anyone, she was so grateful to everyone for the wonderful way they had treated her. Whereas I was complaining that my parents took me to a holy man and waited for the miracle. She mentioned proudly that  her parents had carried her to every temple in the hope of getting her cured. She saw the love of their behaviour whereas I could only see their silliness. She had the wonderful sight to see only the better side of every situation whereas I did not possess that sight. I saw her paintings, embroidery, handicrafts, and also got to taste the food prepared by her. Nothing stopped her from living her life to the full. Still disability to move three of her limbs should be disadvantage for anybody no matter what they are made of. I never missed any opportunity I got to meet her. We developed some strong bond between us. We exchanged our ideas and at times we argued a lot. But we never tried to change each other. She always was so calm and accepting and I was a rebel. Still we became good friends and remained that way until my mother called me and announced that she was no more. But in the short time we shared together she just made sure that I was cured of my disability. Where everyone has failed she had succeeded. She worked the miracle for me. It had just gone away. I never felt that I belonged to the category of the disabled anymore and I realized this when I was coming back from her house in a crowded bus. A stout lady got in. I was seated on a seat reserved for the disabled and when she looked at me with hope I just stood up and offered her the seat. Earlier I always thought I deserved to be seated no matter who was standing, because even I had difficulty standing for long. Standing there I realized I had been cured of the handicap. I really salute the wonderful person who in her short time taught so much that I am a changed person today.

And I am ever so grateful to you sir for introducing her to me. Thank you.

Love and regards,
Farida

A Day By The Sea

Its so incredibly wonderful,
To be sitting on the beach,
It makes me feel so joyful.
Many things to me it does teach,

I love the clear blue sea,
Stretched out under the sun,
I was as busy as a bee,
In the city robbed of my fun.

The beautiful golden sand,
Warm beneath my feet,
At last I felt freedom in my hand,
Which felt freedom as a ships fleet,
The pretty little sea shells,
Which I yearned to collect,
Under the sandy shelf,
This I didn't do before I regret.

The healing balmy wind,
Blew strong against my face,
It was a happy stint,
My tension effaced,
I felt as light as a feather,
Under the spell of the surf,
Such a fine weather,
Making me think, once again of greener turf.

The idyllic surroundings of nature,
The simple minded, sans pretenses,
Gave me the cure,
To the sense,
Makes the urban feel so false,
Life is lived in the present,
See how the wave falls,
Once again making me feel so pleasant.

Finally the Gods gave me peace,
By spending, a day by the sea.

The eternal process of give and take

The word renunciation generally has a negative tone, an other worldy connotation. Most people associate renunciation with a lack of interest and enthusiasm in life. Some even call it as an escape door from the realities of everyday life. Renunciation could also frighten many, on account of its close relationship with formal monastic life. As monastic vocation is not possible for burgeoning millions - they would rather enjoy than give up. Renunciation is rarely understood or seriously reflected upon in its true sense.

The question is this: Is renunciation necessary? Swami Vivekananda considered renunciation as one of India's national ideals, the other being Service. Can renunciation be considered India's national ideal? This requires a clearer understanding of the word.

The word Renunciation is a noun; its verb being 'to renounce', which means to give up. 'Give and Take' is the very nature of life. We are all part of a mighty process of 'Give and Take'. Sun takes up water from the oceans, rivers and ponds, only to give it back as rain. Earth takes up rain, only to return it by growing food grains, and greening the forests. Within the society, when this cycle of 'Give and Take' is distributed, social unrest and anguish are born. When a person hoards more than what he needs, he begins on a journey of frustration and increasing insecurity. Without this' Give and Take' principle, no life is possible. In order to become a youth, for instance, one has to let go his immature aberrations if he has to grow into a mature, stable personality. 'Give and Take' in life is so commonplace that hardly anyone pays attention to it. One cannot have one's say in everything one gets in life; we have to give in something. When we do not understand this, we become miserable.

People are afraid of renunciation because they think that what they should renounce is more valuable than what they will gain in its place. Their present possessions are more real to them; renunciation only promises something imaginary. The story is told of a King who once visited a Saint. The King profusely praised and admired the Saint for his renunciation. The King expressed that the Saint was indeed great, for having given up all claims to possessions, power and pelf. The Saint, bemused at the King's unwarranted praise, responded by saying, "O King! Your renunciation is greater than mine. I have renounced the 'World' which is after all impermanent and changing, whereas you have given up God himself, the One Source of eternal well being and bliss in life!" How true!

Fear turned fame

Entered the gate: "College........Coll.........Coll"
Humming like a great singer
I walked holding my Dad's little finger
First day of college with fear
I entered almost with a tear.

My life in college is a dream,
But not as sweet as ice cream!
Ragging was my biggest fear
But it was all a drama.
Subjects were many
And many sounded funny.

Months passed, time flew by
Dances, songs, and a fete
followed too.
No more was I a fresher
For I was called a refresher.
My dance captured all hearts.
Today I'm the most sought.

When I look back holding
My Dad's finger and entering,
I'm proud for today it's he
Who holds my little finger
To say, come home to be with me.

I just hope the rest of my college life
Is full of fun and no tear.

Change is inevitable, let's enjoy it

These days dawn with a lovely glow of bright but soft light, belying the fact that April is round the corner and the mornings are supposed to be harsh and uncomfortably hot. It just goes to show that even the weather wants to be different and unique at times. Maybe the days have life in them like human beings. Each of us wants to be different and wants to establish our identity. The morning seems to have the same feelings as most humans do. It probably wants to remind us that it should not be taken for granted. We expect a hot morning, and we are surprised with a cool pleasant one. Even the breeze seems to have been woken up early from its slumber, and is swaying the tree leaves gently, a task it would normally reserve for the summer evening.

The unpredictable variations of weather are wonderful reminders to us that the only thing that is permanent in life is change. Let us also learn to change with the times, and to adapt ourselves the way nature accepts each season and changes itself accordingly. If you have observed the past twelve months, they have brought you heat, rain, cold and again heat. Life is telling you that each season has its advantages, and monotony can only be broken by each one giving way to the other. Let us learn to enjoy each change, welcome each season as we welcome each phase in our life.

Reaction is in your control

We spend so much time and energy trying to seek power over others. We want to control, we want others to behave the way we wold have done in their place. W want them to be nice to us, regardless of whether we deserve it or not.

How much time and effort do we put in gaining power over our own self? Can I be calm when someone criticizes me? Can I accept someone's rejection? Can I be my own friend? Do I have enough powers to make myself happy when others are making me unhappy?

Often we feel that others are responsible for our condition. Ask yourself, do you do it every now and then? If you say "No", think again. If you do, just remind yourself that your happiness is from within you.

People can trouble you, Yes. But they cannot make you unhappy. You may think you are not responsible for what is happening to you. Could you change "responsibility" to "response-ability"? You have the ability to respond, don't you? You can respond in a way that your life becomes better - slowly, but surely.

Making a virtue of neccessity

Gone are those days when people used to discuss beauty pageants, fashion trends and remix videos in social gatherings. Now, the talk of the town is the latest traffic jam one experienced and the ever confusing one-ways that make you go round and round the city.

Needless to say, maddening traffic jams and slow moving traffic has become an everyday affair in Bangalore. Blame it on anything or anybody; the fact is that there is definitely no escape from it. So my dear Bangaloreans let us look at the brighter side. While struck in a traffic jam, I've realized that there are many useful chores that one can do. Call it time management or ways to kill frustration, I have tried them all!

To start with, check for those unread messages and missed calls on that electronic gadget of yours, and this is the right time to reply and call back your acquaintances. Forgetful souls like me can make reminder notes on the E-calender, setting alarm for those special occasions and important dates. If you belong to the category who religiously follow a 'thing to do' list, then there is no time like this to plan your schedule for the day, week, weekend, etc, depending on the time in hand.

If you are done with all that, give that mobile phone a break and take a vigilant look around. You can update yourself with the latest gadgets, trends, unending models of bikes and cars that hit the roads and most importantly the shop and buildings which go un-noticed otherwise.

If you get tired of doing all and still have not moved a mile, sit straight, take a deep breath and relax! Nothing like it, if 'enigma' is playing in the background. Now start with some breathing exercise. Not only does it help keep your cool but will also make good for the day's quota of exercise. Turn around and you can see many curious faces wanting to know 'what happened?' I mean why the jam? A smile and then an enquiry, which may conclude with a conversation. Who knows you may even end up making a friend. The list of chores is inexhaustible. You can add on, keeping in view your requirement and conveniences.

I envy those who are chauffer driven. After having a quick bite, perusing every bit of news in the Newspaper, getting ready with their presentations on the laptop, and checking the inbox, they can even afford to take a nap at the cost of the driver's annoyance. I consider the commuters in bus more fortunate as they have an option to alight and walk down, provided the bikers spare the footpath for pedestrians.

Honestly, the idea of writing this Article hit me while I was a victim of one such jam the other day at J.C. Road when I took 120 minutes to cover a distance of 9 kilometers! Now, don't you really see the brighter side?

Relatives or Relationships?

Aab has no relatives. In fact to him "relatives" is a very relative term. He prefers to relate rather than to have relatives. He watches people who seek the comfort and security of their clans, and wonder whether they would be better off without them. He sees brother fighting over pieces of land, and finally watches when both are eventually lowered into six feet pits for their graves. He sees relatives who are close to each other, sometimes so close that it can become suffocating.

Aab very much lives in the present, but at times reflects over the further. He wonders how relatively different life would be if humans are cloned. Since cloning is still far away, he knows that everyone has to make do with relatives — blood relatives, in-laws, distant cousins, etc. Everyone has relatives — except Aab.

When Aab sees relatives relating relatively well, he is happy. But when he sees so many families where the relationships with relatives strained, and at times, hypocritical - he wonders whether communities, relatives, and even families, are on their way out. He would certainly be happy with it — but only if the entire population of the world converts itself into one big family — Vasudaiva Kutumba. He knows that is only wishful thinking. Right now people do not know how to relate to themselves, and are living as lonely islands emotionally separated by a vast ocean of turmoil, selfishness, misunderstanding, "Will we make up before it is too late?" he wonders.

Journey of Life

I traveled a long way
In this journey of life.
I always met strange people,
And strange events happened.

When I walked with confidence
Holding my head high
I always tumbled and fell on my face
Whenever I was unsure of my steps
I always reached my destination without any hassle.

People I loved and cared for-
Always did hurt me
And brought tears to my eyes
And those whom I hardly met
Always helped me come up.

Strange are the ways of life.
Where things most unexpected
Happen as expected.

Enjoying relationships and things while they last

I grew up with practical parents. A mother, God loves her, who washed polythene bags in which she brought her shopping. Then reuse them. She was the original recycle queen, before they had a name for it. A father who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones.

Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away. I can see them now, Dad in his long white shirt, striped lungi and his Kolhapuri chappals, and Mom in her two-decade old sari, kitchen knife in one hand and dish-towel in the other.

It was an era when we were perpetually fixing and repairing things. A torn curtain, the old radio, a broken chair, the children's tricycle and dolls were all things that were kept for years, even generations. It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy - all that re-fixing, repairing, renewing. I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away implied there'd always be more.

But then my father died, and on that clear summer's night, in the warm and sterile hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't any more.

Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away, never to return. So, while we have it, its best we love it and care for it and fix it when it's broken and heal it when it's sick.

This is true of marriage, old cars, children with bad report cards, dogs with broken legs, aging parents and grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it. Some things we keep like a best friend that moved away or a classmate we grew up with.

There are just some things that make life important, like people we know who are special and so we keep them close!

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  • 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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