Shared Thoughts

Having someone's trust is like having money in the bank. Just like a bank account, you must make deposits if you expect to make withdrawals.

When you keep your word, it's like making a deposit into your trust fund. The more often you perform the way you promised, the larger your balance is. Whenever you break your word, you have made a withdrawal from your account.

You have a separate trust fund with each person that you have a relationship with. If you have been making regular deposits into your account with the individual, when the time comes that you are unable to keep your word (let's face it,nobody's perfect!) you will still have a large enough balance of trust to draw from. That person will realize that your account is still good. You are trustworthy!

I've learnt....
To be concerned and caring.
To be able to say,
"Sorry, I was wrong"
To be unashamed to ask for help. or admit that I don't know
To not allow myself to be prejudiced against a person because of a wrongful act.
To keep in touch with people, respecting individual differences
To shed my inhibitions and share my personal experiences.
To show  the required amount of anger and yet help them see my human side.
To leave anger behind and start smiling
To take pleasure in simple things
To laugh heartily
To live in the present.

The impulse for service is a hallmark of Culture. It does not emanate in the biological makeup of man, but is essentially a facet of his spiritual longing. The infinite love, for example, that a mother bears her infant and which prompts her to sacrifice everything for its well-being, springs from an instinct which Nature has bestowed on all living beings' not on mankind alone. This service, birth in its intensity and magnitude, arises from the biological need to protect and perpetuate her race. It acquires ethical significance only when it influences her attitude and action even after the child had grown up to be an adult. Even more importantly, when this maternal love id reciprocal by the recipient, it acquires a moral stature. To the poet and philosopher alike this maternal love had furnished a rich store of sublime emotion from which they have drawn freely. Then parents make sacrifices for their children it is largely an instinctive urge for the preservation of their race and it functions as a potential insurance against infirmity and old age. Therefore it implies a tacit belief that even as they have cared for their children when they were growing up, they would in turn be cared for in their declining years.

When we examine the concept of service divesting it of this instinct for self preservation, it acquires a wholly ethical complexion and stands qualitatively apart. Real service is a moral act. By intention as well as its consequences it benefits someone who is in need of it. To the giver the act of giving who is in need of it. To the giver the act of giving becomes an end in itself. It is uplifting. How often have we heard that the ideal giver is one whose left hand does not know what his right gives?

There is both a secular and religious dimension to service. Moral act has always sought in religion a ready and natural ally, because of man's incurable egoism. This is how it works. He is prepared to give and seek no return; but then what of the benefits in the hereafter? He does not  want to be cheated of its fruits both in this life and the life to come. In Christian ethics unselfish service is always linked to the Day of Judgement. This has propelled, through centuries of history, a strong tradition for institutional service. A want or suffering, wherever  it exists, is seen as an opportunity for the pious to give and give generously of his best. The spiritual element in such an act of giving consists in his not expecting any reward. Nevertheless his religion assures him a rich return on the Day of Judgement.

There is nothing wrong in supporting a moral act with the strength of religion. In fact the cultural history of man would have been sadly denuded of much than we consider noble and sublime had ethics not been allied to religion. But one can well ask; how about an agnostic who gives without expecting a reward either here or in the hereafter? What is the quality of his goodness?

Apparently, the ethical content of a good act by an agnostic is even richer by comparison when the reward for it is either denied or uncertain. A person is good only because he wants to be good. He gives because he can afford to give and wants to give, He can also give until it hurts him because it makes him happy. This is where the impersonal elements take over, permitting the ego only a one time act namely, the act of giving. The reward in such a case is an abiding sense of fulfillment which is not only immediate but lasting. What greater joy can there be for a physician or a surgeon, a teacher or a builder a poet or a painter than the feeling that he gave what he could best give? By this act of giving he has only enriched himself. We never become poor when we part with knowledge or impart a skill to one who seeks it.

With our imposing heritage we should be able to weave the concept of service into fabric of daily life. A good act carries no religion label. It can be personal, social as well as universal. When it is sustained by voluntary agencies wedded to service it carries a single resounding message. There is no one who does not need help and no one who cannot afford it.

Written by Octogenarian Mr.N.V.Srinivasachar of Mysore an eminent writer and thinker, and a very respected friend of Banjara

I am a proud member of BANJARA sponsored HH volunteer organisation. I understand that BANJARA stands for:

B- Believe in yourself
A- Aspire to reach your maximum potential
N- Nurture the environment
J- Joyfully live everyday
R- Rational thinking
A- Always help others.

- S.K.Pradhan

  • The humble pencil, perhaps heading for extinction to give way to the keyboard and mouse, can teach many lessons of life;
  • Unless you are held by someone, you will not be useful.
  • Periodically you have to go through the pain of the sharpener, but enduring the pain makes us sharper and more useful.
  • Our external appearance has hardly any significance compared to what is our core, the lead.
  • We may often make mistakes in writing our script of life, but we can always rub it out and re-write.
  • Wherever we go, we have the opportunity to leave our mark for those coming after us.

So while adapting to modern technology, keep a simple pencil around to teach you how to live.

One day, as I was getting out of Banjara Academy, Arun told me that a cat had abandoned her one week old kittens and they were in his room. My first impulse was to take them home. My family  loves pets and my daughter is a morbid animal lover. Since she had her summer holidays. I thought she could have fun taking care of them. By the time her vacation gets over, the kittens would be old enough to take care of themselves and we can let them free. But on second thought, I changed my mind.... I live in a flat and that has certain limitations to keep two kittens. They still needed their mother for survival and what if they die after I take them home? But those soft, tiny, warm balls were too cute to resist and I took them in the 'Pallu' of my sari and brought them home. My daughter's joy knew no bounds.

We ended up having them for 5 months. We named them spotty and Patchy because of their brown spots and patches on the white bodies. Patchy had a bad health. Several trips to the vet, sleepless nights, constant care and medication helped her to recover. She had continuous discharge from her eyes and nose due to infection which needed repeated cleaning. She would  pounce on us and search our hands while my daughter and I were cleaning her. My daughter's lover for them was amazing. As they grew older, maintaining cleanliness and hygiene within the limited space became a problem. They were very playful and needed more place, open space to grow naturally. But with so many stray dogs and cats around, I had no heart to abandon them. After a lot of enquiry, one gentleman agreed to take them, as his little daughter was fond of kittens. He lived in an independent house and so he willingly took them home.

Though on the very first day I had told my daughter that we could not keep them long, and she too had agreed to it, it broke her heart when they left us. She holds me responsible for that and carries a lot of anger and bitterness in her. Her blind love cannot see reasons. She believes that I didn't love those kittens enough to keep them with us. She asked me if I would take the same stand when she grows older. I said that it would be painful to stay away from her but she should be given the freedom to choose her life--and so I would accept it. She felt more hurt.

In her tender, immature heart she believes that more love, there should be more control, more possessing. I understand her, but still, mothering is sometimes painful when they pounce on and scratch you, albeit in ignorance!

- Dr.K.T.Sumathi

You may not have
noticed me in that
hall full of people

You may not have heard
that one small clap
from some corner
In that great applause,
all ears to catch
each of your words,
eyes full of admiration

Soon all will disperse...
But the sound of applause
I will always carry
in my heart
with tears of joy.

- Sandhya

...that 'Jari' is actually made of copper wire?

Indian culture is rich with tradition, be it in the arts, literature or the opulent fabrics that adorned the maharajas and maharanis. Since time immemorial. traditional Indian clothes have been the epitome of style  and grandeur. The elegant 6 meter sari and the classy 4 meter dhoti form an indispensable part of the Indian legacy.

What embellishes the sari and the dhoti is the ornamental 'jari' that decorates the borders of the fabric. What is fascinating however is that rich 'golden threads' are in fact fine copper wires plated with gold and at times, with silver. These coated copper wires are intricately woven into silk to produce exotic textiles such as the famous 'Patola', 'Paithani' and 'Kanjeevaram' saris, which would be incomplete without 'jari'.

The 'jari' is made from copper fine wire of 48-50 SWG and is currently manufactured from copper in various cottage industries across India. More than 200 tons of copper is consumed by the 'jari' industries. And that's not all. In the small town of Surat, Gujarat alone, the 'jari' industry provides employment to around 60,000 people.

A simple and impressive looking middle-aged man walked quietly into the restaurant and sat down. Before he ordered, he could'nt help notice a group of younger men at the table next to him. It was obvious they were making fun of something about him, and it wasn't until he remembered he was wearing a small pink ribbon on the lapel of his suit that he became aware of what the joke was all about.

The man brushed off the reaction as ignorance, but the smirks began to get him. He looked one of the rude men square in the eye, placed his hand beneath the ribbon and asked, quizzically, "This?" With that the men all began to laugh out loud. The man he addressed said, as he fought back laughter, "Hey, sorry man, but we were just commenting on how pretty your little ribbon looks against your blue jacket!

The middle-aged man calmly motioned for the joker to come over to his table, and invited him to sit down. As uncomfortable as he was, the guy obliged, not really sure why. In a soft voice, the middle aged man said, "I wear this ribbon to bring awareness about breast cancer. I wear it in my mother's honour"

"Oh, sorry boss. She died of breast cancer?"

"No she didn't. She's still alive and well. But her breasts nourished me as an infant, and were a soft resting place for my head when I was scared or lonely as a little boy. I'm very grateful for my mother's breasts and her health.    

"Umm", the stranger replied, "Yeah"

"And I wear this ribbon to honour my wife" the middle aged man went on. "And she's okay too?" the other guy asked.

"Oh yes, she's fine. Her breasts have been a great source for our loving pleasure for both of us, and with them she nurtured and nourished our beautiful daughter 23 years ago. I am grateful for my wife's breasts and for her health.

"Uh huh, and I guess you wear it to honour your daughter also?"

"No,it's too late to hour my daughter by wearing it now. My daughter died of breast cancer one month ago. She thought she was too young to have breast cancer, so when she accidentally noticed a small lump, she ignored it. She thought that since it was'nt painful, it must not be anything to worry about." Shaken and ashamed, the now sober stranger said,"Oh, I'm so sorry , sir"

"SO in my daughter's memory, too, I proudly wear this ribbon, which allows me the opportunity to enlighten others. Noe, go home and talk to your wife and daughters, your mother and your friends". And here the middle-aged man reached in his pocket and handed the other man a little pink ribbon. The young man looked at it, slowly raised his head and asked, "Can you help me put it on?"

I wish we all had tails. It would be so nice to see a loved one spontaneously showing his joy and affection when we accost him after a gap- by just a wag of the tail.

Eye contact gives us warmth, a smile makes us feel wanted, a compliment swells our chest with pride. But they can all be faked, they can be exaggerated. Many a time a formal handshake or hug can also leave us cold. Part of the reason is our hesitation in expressing love and suspicion and disbelief of others' love and affection towards us.

And now of course even the smile, eye contact and handshake are giving way e-mail, SMS and "mobile" conversation. The vacuum in our life makes us reach out across the globe for "cyber" friends and unorthodox relationships with virtual strangers.

All this world not have happened if we had had tails. Let me tell you how, There is an array of stray dogs who have made our front verandah their home. Often they give me a very enthusiastic welcome when I get home. One of them had fallen sick and was most of the time lying listlessly in a corner, hardly eating or responding to any stimulus. On one unusually stressful day I returned home to find this fellow sprawled out at the entrance. I was in no mood to pamper him, and I presumed he too is too lost in his world of sickness.

As I approached he cautiously opened one eye. For a long moment we just looked deep into each other's eyes. And then I saw a twitch of his tail. I leaned forward, and the tail was perceptibly wagging now. I touched him on the head, and the tail began lashing left and right. In those few seconds I could experience the unadulterated joy of receiving unconditional love!

When I need to express my affection and appreciation to someone, I flounder for words. I am not sure if I am saying the right thing,at the right time, and in the right tone and to the right person (don't forget, I am a male!) I wish I had a tail.

- Ali

Maybe you've wondered if you'd make it today, you're here! Select short-term goals as your ongoing link to life. Meditate on the "Family Circus" cartoon that says"Yesterday's the past, tomorrow's the future, but today is a gift. That's why it's called the present. "Sink your heart into that one.

Queries :

Is it Okay to be alone?

Q: I genuinely feel that I enjoy being alone. I am not lonely, I have no depression, I like people in general, But given a choice I would spend all my free time alone not roaming around or seeing movies, but perhaps reading or listening to music, or maybe even observing nature.

Many of my friends are deeply concerned about me. They think I need help and have been suggesting counselling. Is there something wrong with me?

A: No, there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. It is said that if you cannot love yourself, how can you expect others to love you? It is good that you love yourself enough to enjoy your own company. Many people cannot do that, perhaps because of low self esteem, or a feeling of insecurity and incompleteness. They are the ones who need help.

Being alone and being lonely are two different things. One can be lonely in a crowd, and one can be absolutely fulfilled alone. As long as you enjoy your space and your solitude, no one has a tight to say there is something wrong with you. (Perhaps they are jealous...?) Just be yourself, and enjoy dong what you like.

(and also the Bible, Quran, Guru Grantha Sahib, Torah, Ahura Mazda......)

Why do you worry without any reason? Whom are you afraid of? Whatever has happened has happened for the good. What is happening id happening for the good. What ever will happen, will be for the good; do not repent over the past. Do not worry for the future. Present is going on.

What have you lost for which you cry? You did not bring anything when you were born. Whatever you have got, you had it from God.You came empty-handed and will go the same way.Whatever is yours today, was somebody else's yesterday and will be somebody else's tomorrow. You are unnecessarily attached to your possessions. Alas! This attachment is the root cause of all your sufferings. Treat all your possessions as TRUST PROPERTY given to you by God.

Let the thoughts about 'mine', 'yours', 'my own', 'someone's else's' be wiped off from your mind, then every thing is yours and you belong to everyone.

Change is the law of nature. Neither this body is yours, nor you belong to the body. The body is composed of fire, water, air ,earth and ethereal fluid and it will dissolve into these. But the soul in you is immortal. It neither takes birth not it dies.

Surrender yourself to God. That is the best "support". One who knows about this "support" becomes free from all fears, anxieties and sorrows.

What ever you do, dedicate it to God. BY doing self-less work, you will experience bliss, and will attain salvation.

There were five of us and 73 of them. A very formidable challenge. We were all adults trying to show the wisdom of our ages, and they were a motley crowd ranging from four to 16 years in age.

The Sister Superior had called us to counsel them. Five trained and experienced counsellors had come to tackle a group of 73 girls, some orphans, others from poor or broken homes. The Superior was very concerned. These girls attended classes along with the other students, rich kids who came in chauffeur-driven cars wearing new and well-ironed uniforms.

There had been cases of girls running away. A number to them would obviously be depressed, we were told. There was no one to hug them, make them feel belonged, or to share their childhood worries. The Superior was very caring, but old and tired. The hectic routine of the day would take its toll on her, and she felt helpless in her ability to spend time with each little bundle of humanity craving for a caress and a kind word.

As responsible adults, we felt it imperative that we should chalk out a strategy of dealing with our "counselees". Our brains were working overtime trying to match techniques to the targets. After all, we were there to pull out the poor little things from their distress and depression, weren't we?

When we were introduced to the disparate group, we were wondering how to start off. We hummed and hawed and were trying to break the ice, when I felt tiny fingers trying to hold both my hands from different sides. The little ones had come from behind and latched on to me. Others followed. Before we knew it, they were swarming all over us, bombarding us with questions, wanting to know everything about us, feeling out the texture of our clothes.

After that suspenseful moment, we never had any doubt left. Every Saturday, all we had to do was to physically transport ourselves to the hostel compound - and the children would take over the programme.

I don't know how much we counselled them in the year that went past like a week. But I do know that we learnt a lot about life and relationships from those children. And I also learnt a very valuable lesson - even those who have never received love in their life, can give out a lot of it!

See the book on Dynamics of Counselling

See Ali Khwaja's Thought on How Counselling Helps

Related Thoughts on Counselling
What is Counselling?
A Difficult Counselling Situation

It was a fine morning. I was sipping my cup of tea breathing fresh air, and I was looking aback and asking myself what I have contributed to society. If some one would not have invented a needle and thread, had I invented them? The answer I got was "certainly not". Whatever we enjoy the fruits of scientific invention today, certainly would not have been able to be invented by me. Can I live without electricity and telephone for a single day? No, I cannot and I suppose most of us cannot.

Then what is my contribution to the society? A healthy child? A garden patch? I shall be happy at least with this when I think of my daughter who is compassionate, friendly, valuing social norms etc. I'm proud of her. Still I feel that it is not my individual contributions! So what shall I do? Shall I plant some trees in front of our house so that the passers by shall breathe fresh air? Yes, I did so and I am happy in observing their growth.

- By Ms. V.Sharadha

Let us go! Let Us Go! LET US GO!

"Let us go" is a command I get when we are going somewhere. For me, the action plan is pretty clear. Get in the car, adjust the seat and proceed to carry out pre-driving checks. Ignition on, fuel gauge full, battery indicator OK, wipers working, horn horning, wind screen clear, oil temperature within limits, headlights functioning, music system working. Beethoven's piano concerto CD loaded, left door open and kept ready for her.

And I wait and wait and wait. It is time to blow the horn and draw her attention. And in response I hear a sound, "commmmming". It seems to be coming from the far away outer space.

It is back to the room to make a few telephone calls and return to the half read newspapers. Another "Let's go". Going by the decibel level and general direction of the sound. I fix her position at the far Northeast end of the lawn. It must be mail then, being briefer on the day's doing and all about weeds, the size and shape of the hedges. Another lets go, slightly louder this time, points her presence in the general area of the courtyard. She is in the middle of a workshop on sweeping and swabbing with the maid, who I bet, using an Indian English expression, is taking it all in one 'year' and out of the other. Time enough to write to my daughter in the meantime.

This "let's go" comes from the kitchen quarters, going by the hissing of the pressure cooker in the background. This time the briefing is the other way around, from the cooker to the memsahib, for her culinary education stopped early in its tracks. Must remember to have some pav bhaki packed on the way back, my survival instinct tells me. This "let's go" is really loud and clear. I must round off letter, but there is no great hurry, my experience tells me that there will be many more announcements before the last and the final call.

And then the most unreliable of the unreliable domestic help arrives in from the dhoby. A clear margin of 15 minutes is available. The choice is mine, whether I want to hear the most ingenious excuses ever invented or read the book 'Quality is Free'. I choose the former. Quality can wait as it has waited for the last forty years in our country. The dhoby boy needs to invent some new excuse, otherwise his credibility will come under severe strain.

This"let's go" appears final going by the proximity of its origin and the resolute inflection in her voice. It is time to tie the laces and get ready, when I hear, "oh, I have dropped it again". It must be the ear ring holder the usually does its duty by slipping out of her hand. I may as well lie down. It is clear ten minutes now, depending on how it wants to be recovered, through the means of a broom or would it settle fro a vacuum cleaner. The army of domestics arrives to conduct the 'search and seize' operation.

I must have dozen off when I hear a blood curdling, Oh heck she is already there. I still have to comb my hair and apply some after-shave lotion. You have to look smart, like a soldier in the presence of a sergeant major even if you are about to face the music.

"What kept you so long? I mean how many times do I have to shout, let's go. Is it fair to keep me waiting?" She frets while adjusting the volume of the music. We are hardly at the gate when the old girl realizes that the boiler needs to be switched off and dashes to perform the operation. "Let us go". Go, we do, but generally in silence.

Today's trend- My dilemma, or should I say "DAILY MA!!" Am I real mom of today's times? Am I sorry for my kids. Yes! A mom I am indeed; motherly instincts I have in abundance, giving my children lots of warm impulsive kisses and bear hugs, teaching my children to believe in leprechauns, creating a magic world of fantasy. But are these instincts vividly present in today's mom?

I am not aggressive, not pushy enough, not sorry that my children are not geniuses, not am I going to pretend that they are!!

Nowadays, I see that many parents want their children to be toppers in class, excel in all activities in and out of school. The children are dragged from school to tuitions, dance classes, skating, computers etc., all the hi-fi techy worldly life, irrespective of their ages and knowledge.

Today's world is competitive, but surely that does not justify the pressure, the stress under which the children are shackled. Are the children of today's trend happy? I really wonder. It seems as if the affection is more inclined towards the pressure- push, not to guide or protect them.

Maybe I am right, or maybe I am wrong, not the right kind of mom in today's world, but yet, I do believe, 'Live and Let Live'. And so, I'm comforted in seeing my kids become what they want to be, what they meant to be, and not what I made them to be.

So, enjoy yourself with your children before they grow up.

- Lalitha.V

Mr.Srihari (name changed on request to protect him from his neighbours) was looking forward to his retirement. He was financially secure, since his needs were very limited. He was in reasonably good health, and had no other liabilities. He was determined to give back to society after earning for almost four decades.

He decide that charity begins from home. He looked around in his neighbourhood and saw that many things were not okay. He decided that instead of complaining he will become proactive. He listed out all that he could do for the locality,and began - planting saplings, clearing up obstructions in the lanes, and also trying to develop some recreation facilities.

He started asking all his neighbours young and old to join hands with him. He was willing to put in his whole day, and he wanted others to give an hour or two of theirs. To his dismay, he found that not only they were not willing, they even started ridiculing him. They attributed wrong intentions, they said he is trying to become a leader or politician, they hinted that he may be wanting to make money on the side. These insinuations hurt him so deeply that he went into a shell. He gave up all outdoor activities and confined himself to his home, a lonely and rejected man.

The only time he would come out was for his evening walk. Even then he found himself walking alone, with hardly a greeting or a smile. This continued for a few days until- in one of his lonely walks he found a stray dog following him! He turned to the dog and addressed him directly. "Why do you follow me when everyone else has forsaken me?" he asked the mongrel, who promptly wagged his tail. The wall continued. He started talking to the street dog, and the four legged friend would meet his gaze as if in deep understanding.

One day the stray dog brought his girl-friend along. Mr.Srihari had started feeding him with left-overs, and he did not mind another four legged friend. The team grew: two, three then five. He had a horde of friends waiting for him at his evening walk, wagging tails, gently nudging each other, nuzzling their nose at his legs--and happily following him wherever he went.

Mr.Srihari is no longer a lonely man. He has friends who desire nothing from him but his attention and affection. And he has lots of it to give-getting back much more than in return.

It was a coincidence that soon after attending your seminar on Child Abuse I went to the school (where I go as a counsellor). A boy was sobbing bitterly, and he painfully shared with me that he gets extremely frightened when his parents fight. Like you emphasized in the seminar, this boy is not from a lower strata of society that we usually presume. He sees his parents beating each other and his mother at times beats herself. This is apart from the fact that his mother has beaten him with a hanger and sticks. I was thinking that the most damaging aspect of the physical abuse is the emotional trauma of the physical abuse is the emotional trauma it causes. Emotional abuse is underlying all the other kinds of abuse, be it physical, mental or sexual. How I wish the parents could be educated about it. Well! If wishes were horses....

After a lot of thinking, I have come to understand that "we can't change people. They will change only when they want to change. All we can do is make them feel the need for change."

- Meera Ravi

Learning to deal with loneliness is one of the biggest challenges of life. Here's how you can cope with it:
Face it: Don't be afraid to acknowledge that you are lonely. The fact is that you can't do anything to alleviate the problem until you have first recognised what it is that's troubling you.

Accept it: It's important to know and realize that there are times and situations in everyone's life that produce feelings of loneliness, whether others are willing to admit or not. A certain amount of loneliness is an inevitable part of life. Learn to deal with it rather than running away from it.

Manage it: Much of the distress and fear of loneliness will be diminished when you can identify what causes the problem and then attempt to modify the conditions that produce your lonely feelings.

Use it: Turn your loneliness into an advantage by learning to handle it, thus enhancing your self-reliance-your most important asset as a person alone. Use it as an opportunity to know yourself better, to gauge your thoughts, feelings and perceptions. Look upon lonely times as opportunities for personal rather than as dreadful periods to be suffered through.

Indulge in meaningful activities: In solitude, some people rattle around nervously, needing someone upon whom to focus their attention. Instead use this period as an opportunity to indulge in your hobbies and special activities.

Take action: Take initiative and make the first move, rather than waiting for someone to rescue you. Start making the first step in greeting people. Smile and say 'Hello' Besides this, you need to work on your interpersonal and social skills and learn to be more assertive.

Do some volunteer work: Helping others will boost your self-esteem and create new opportunities to meet people with similar interests.

Get involved: Take some adult education courses that are based on personal growth. For example, you can study self-esteem development, forgiveness, how to be more assertive, how to interact and how to become a positive person.

Enjoy developing yourself: Think of yourself as a total person. Don't neglect the needs of others just because your companionship or friendship needs are not being met.

Follow good habits: Eat a well-balanced diet, do regular exercise, and sleep adequately. Rather than sitting around doing nothing, deal with your situation actively.

Get creative: Loneliness needn't be equated with unhappiness. Use this time to be creative and use your time productively. Read a book, solve a puzzle or a crossword, go for a movie or listen to music.

Follow these tips to combat your loneliness and use it constructively. This stage is temporary and will lessen or disappear once you focus your attention and energy on something positive. Remember that it is all in your hands and you can do it.

She married my father's younger brother when I was eleven years old. At that age, she was to me a grown up woman and an aunt. What I did not even realize till years later was that she was just six years older than me, Memories of her marriage only included enjoying good food, running around,and even teasing the blushing bride.

My uncle took up a job more than a thousand miles away. He was a recluse, a rebel, and nursed a grouse against most of his family. He would rarely visit home, and would not allow his wife and children to do so. Being a workaholic he would perform well, but being short tempered, he would get into trouble repeatedly, and never made it big in life. My aunt suffered with financial constrains, constant uprooting of herself and her three children, and the unpredictable moods of a perpetually irritable husband.

After almost twenty years, he had exhausted all his options in India and sought the next refuge - a job in a Gulf country. He went alone,and his family came back to live with his in-laws. That was when I really came to know my aunt. Ans she transformed from an elder relative to a very caring, loving and compassionate friend.

Within weeks we got very close to each other. Her children adored me, and got along very well with my wife. There were family outings, picnics and overnight stays, While all of us enjoyed each others' company, she and I shared a special relationship. Living in an orthodox environment, I called her by title "chachi" in public, but privately I called her by her name. We could even read each others' thoughts many a times, we could understand each others' feelings and could share anything under the sun.

She may not be considered beautiful in the conventional sense of the word.She had also become quite obese in later years. But into her forties she retained a child-like innocence and a charm that multiplied manifold when she smiled (which she did as often as she cried in my presence) We would not meet very frequently because her home was quite far from mine, but whenever we met, it was like two long lost friends craving for each other. Just sitting and enjoying a song on the radio, sharing a cup of tea, watching a sunset- we shared some every beautiful moments together. With me she could let her hair down, and regain her adolescence that was cruelly cut short by her marriage and childbearing. She would blush like a child, laugh with abandon, and cry uncontrollably with me. She would admonish me, admire me, and even attack me depending on her moods. Every interaction left us feeling so fulfilled, so complete, and as refreshed as a bright new dawn.

Such relationships are not meant to last. Though it is not important why she went, it was ironically due to lung cancer. The lungs that had sung songs of joy, breathed fresh air of the hill stations we frequented,gulped the treas of anguish that never stopped flowing- finally gave her an unending cough that wouldn't even allow her to talk. Months of agony, and then the pain came to an end. So did she.

My aunt is dead. My friend lives on

Read on.....
To see a change in our world, we must change our inner world,
To hate, doubt, and blame will only make our inner feelings worse,
To love, trust and forgive will make our inner feelings flourish,
What we see in others reveals our true inner self,
The good we see in others is the good within our inner world,
The faults we find in others are our faults hidden within our inner world as well,
By seeing the best in others we shall be our best,
By giving and forgiving others we give to ourselves the most,
By admiring creativity we shall be blessed by the creator,
By loving all unconditionally we shall be showered with divine love,
BY seeking to understand we shall be understood,
By sharing our knowledge with all, we shall gain wisdom, from within,
The world around us is a reflection, a mirror showing us the person we are,
To see a change in our outer world we must change our inner world.

- Sudha Lakshmi

  • A strong woman works out everyday to keep her body in shape... but a woman of strength kneels in prayer to keep her soul in shape...
  • A strong woman isn't afraid of anything...but a woman of strength shows courage in the midst of her fear....
  • A strong woman won't let anyone get the best of her... bur a woman of strength gives the best of her to everyone...
  • A strong woman makes mistakes and avoids the same in the future..... but a woman of strength realizes her mistakes can also be God's blessings and capitalizes on them.
  • A strong woman walks sure footed .... but a woman of strength knows God will catch her when she falls....
  • A strong woman wears the look of confidence on her face... but a woman of strength wears grace....
  • A strong woman has faith that she is strong enough for the journey .... But a woman of strength has faith that it is the journey that will make her strong.

-Lalitha

Wasn't I too a child once, like my kids now, delighting in the 'little' things of life?

  • When I look at a patch of dandelions, I see a bunch of weeds that are going to take over my garden.
    My kids see flowers for mom and blowing white fluff you can wish on.
  • My kids see flowers for mom and blowing white fluff they can wish on.
    Kids blowing dandelions
    Image Credits (L): Zhetta; cc-by-nd-2.0; (R): omninate, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com
  • When I look at an old drunk and he smiles at me, I see a smelly, dirty person who probably wants money and I look away.
    My kids see someone smiling at them and they smile right back.
  • My kid sees someone (not [as] a beggar) smiling at him and smiles right back.
    Kid smiling back at the beggar
    Image Credits (L): Sukanto Debnath; (R): Olgierd Pstrykotwórca, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com
  • When I hear music I love, I know I can't carry a tune and don't have much rhythm, so I sit consciously and listen.
    My kids feel the beat and move to it. They sing out the words. If they don't know them, they make up their own.Smile
  • My kid feels the beat and moves to it and sings out loud.
    Child singing
    Image Credit: Tammy McGary, cc-by-2.0, flickr.com
  • When I feel wind on my face, I brace myself against it. I feel it messed up my hair and is pulling me back when I walk.
    My kids close their eyes, spread their arms and fly with it, until they fall to the ground, laughing.
  • When I pray, I say thee and thou and grant me this, give me that.
    My kids say, "Hi, God! Thanks for toys and friends. Please keep the bad dreams away tonight. Sorry! I don't want to go to heaven yet. I would miss my mommy and daddy."
  • My kid prays thanking god for what he has been given - toys and friends.
    Child's innocent prayer
    Image Credit: avlxyz, cc-by-sa-2.0, flickr.com
  • When I see a mud puddle, I step around it. I see muddy shoes and dirty carpets.
    My kids sit in it. They see dams to build, rivers to cross and worms to play with.
  • AND when I was a child, I did what all my kids do now (as my Mom always tells my kids).Smile
  • Shouldn't I as an adult remind myself to be like the child I too was once and join my children in enjoying the little things in life?
    What's the point in looking back one day and realizing that the so-called little things in life are the big things?

It is not physical solitude that actually separates one from other men, not physical isolation, but spiritual isolation. It is not the desert island not the stormy wilderness that cuts you from the people you love. It is the wilderness in the mind, the desert wastes in the heart through which one wanders lost and a stranger. When one is stranger to oneself then one is estranged from one other too. If one of out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others. Hoe often in a large city, shaking hands with my friends, I have felt the wilderness stretching between us. Both of us were wandering in arid wastes, having lost the springs that nourish us0 or having found them dry. Only when one is connected to one's own core is one connected to others, I am beginning to discover. And , for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be re-found through solitude.

- Anne Lindberge

In is amazing how much power there is in the meeting of four eyes. Total strangers who know nothing of each other, who have no relationship, and are generally wary of strangers, suddenly find a locking of eyes, a gaze that refuses to end- as though held tight by an invisible thread.

Sometimes even a photograph of a person with deep eyes can be so fascinating. A huge poster of Aishwarya Rai giving deep meaningful gaze can mesmerize and swoon lakhs of young hearts all over the country.

Of course, each of us would like to identify a personal pair of eyes that have eyes only on us. It is very flattering to know that someone is giving us a special gaze. In a crowded hall you may have observed someone whose attention is riveted on you. If the gaze id repulsive, then of course one can be quite disturbed. But if it is intriguing or magnetic, or if there is a twinkle in the eye, you may find your own eyes sparkling in return.

It is said that in many relationships we allow the power of the gaze to lose its luster over a period of time. When monotony sets into a relationship, we let go of an electrifying bond- the magnetic attraction of looking deep into each others' eyes. No phone, no e-mail, no SMS can convey what the eyes can. And if two pairs of eyes meet in harmony and love, they can give the warmth of belonging or the electrifying current of connectivity.

It takes the least effort, it requires no preparation, and has no adverse side effects. One meaningful look and a stranger is no longer a stranger. The smile of the eyes is more captivating than the smile of the lips. Let us all learn to smile with our eyes.

- Ali

I was shocked to learn that one of my friend's neighbour (a man aged 27 years) committed suicide by lying down on the railway tracks. What a ghastly way to die!!! Just a couple of weeks prior to that I had come to now my eighteen-year-old niece's classmate (only child of her parents) committed suicide by hanging herself.

Although I did not know either of them personally, I was disturbed. Reason being this reminded me of painful memories of my friend's daughter who too ended her life in a tragic way. My friend used to often share the problems her daughter was having (more often than not because of her own terrible temperament) As an outsider I felt the girl was not able to cope with the situation. I happened to meet her at different times and felt she really needed help. A s a genuine friend I tried telling my friend to seek professional help for her daughter, but the instantaneous response was, 'She doesn't have a big problem. Its just that she is a 'little' adamant. One critical day she committed suicide.

Somehow knowing her problems I was not shocked, but of course I felt helpless. I realizes the futility of all the people who are in the helping profession. What do you do if someone doesn't approach you? How will you help if someone just denies that any problem existed at all?

Although there is a small number of people who take such a step impulsively, the majority of suicides are not impulsive. Suicide is a consequence of a long drawn anger, frustration, agony and utter hopelessness. All this takes a long time to build up, then why is it that not even once the person thinks of taking help?

Asking for help doesn't come easily for many of us. We somehow deny our need to ask for help and delay our need to ask help and delay it as much as possible. Why is it? Is it worth it? Isn't it better to seek help and lead a better quality of life than to suffer alone, take this extreme step and leave your loved ones bewildered? Well I suppose it is a matter of individuals opinion.

- Meera Ravi

They are all around us, the silent majority. Simple unassuming folks who have not yet learnt how to cheat, how to grab, and how to deceive. They are introverts, never overconfident, and definitely not aggressive.

We generally encounter them only at our times of need. If we stumble and fall on the road, if one of our family falls sick and is to be rushed to the hospital, if we are stuck in an embarrassing situation without money, or if we are feeling low and cannot think of a single person to be with. At such times they appear, like the proverbial Aladdin's genie.

They step forward, without any expectations, rise to the occasion in giving just the right support, and then fade away from our life as softly as they had entered it. There may be so many others who could have filled those roles much more conveniently, but chose not to do so. But the good Samaritans never ask the question 'why should I do it? they just do it.

In a world full of selfishness and vested interests, we are always obsessed with the evil around us. We find so much time and inclination to recount the injustice done to us, the callousness of others when one is undergoing a crisis, and how angry and frustrated such acts make us. How about doing an enumeration of the silent majority that has helped us silently on various occasions, and moved away before we could thank them?

The sun kisses a mountain top
And glistens on its face of snow,
And slowly climbs into the sky above
And lights the valley below.

For each of us that this day awakes
A miracle takes place.
For once again we walk our earth
And own all upon its surface.

And the past regrets and foolish fears
Of yesterday's cloud mind,
Are washed away by the light of day
And seem so far behind.

For each of us is reborn each day,
Our life renews again,
And with the help of God we will find a cause
That makes us want to win.

For a man without a goal in life
Is a man already dead.
His mind wanders from place to place
And he walks with feet of lead

He had no reason to stretch his mind,
No spirit to stir his soul
His name is not even in the book,
When destiny calls the roll

Better to take the wine of life
And drink both deep and long-
Greet each day 'cause you're here to stay,
And sing your worrior's song.

For the battle of life is joined, and
You might fight long and true
For this strife, it's the game of your life
And the only loser is you

Grid up your loins with courage
And answer the trumpets call,
And lose or win, you can say at the end,
This was the greatest of all!

- By William.E.Bailey

A boy asked his mother, 'Why are you crying? 'Because I'm a woman, 'she told him. 'I don't understand, he said. His mom just hugged him and said, 'And you never will'. Later the little boy asked his father, 'Why does mother seem to cry fro no reason?' 'All women cry for no reason', was all his dad could say.

The little boy grew up became a man, still wondering why women cry. Finally he put in a call to God. When God got to the phone, he asked, 'God, why do women cry so easily? God said: 'When I made the woman she had to be special. I made her shoulders strong enough to carry the weight of the world. Yet gentle enough to give comfort. I gave her an inner strength to endure childbirth and the rejection that many times comes from her children. I gave her a hardness that allows her to keep going when everyone else gives up, and takes care of her family through sickness and fatigue without complaining. I gave her the sensitivity to love her children under any and all circumstances, even when her child has hurt her very badly.

I gave her strength to carry her husband through his faults and fashioned her from his rib to protect his heart. I gave her wisdom to know that a good husband never hurts his wife but sometimes tests her strength and her resolve to stand beside him unfalteringly. And finally I gave her a tear to shed. This is hers exclusively to use whenever it is needed.

You see my son, said God, the beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart the place where love resides.

- from Jemima Edwin

Can you believe? I have completed 75 years of my life on this planet, without my realising it. Sometimes I suffer from remorse about the futility of my life. Yet at times I have feeling of fulfilment and satisfaction for having been not a bad wife, not a bad mother, not a bad grandmother not a bad teacher. Charity begins at home and little things in a family can amount to a lot.

Certain incidents in my life have a lasting impression on my mind. I was barely two years old, when my grandfather died but I remember, even today so vividly the flames of his funeral pyre, sitting on my mother's lap.

Our grandmother lived with us. She was extremely orthodox and would not permit my mother to visit my father's British bosses. She insisted that my mother should not touch or fondle us children (I have 5 siblings) till she had bathed and cooked for my grandmother! She would insist on my mother favouring her with a hand fan saying, 'I do not like an electric fan, which is the legacy of the Ferangi'.

Those days' boys and girls did not mix freely. That's why perhaps I fell in love with the first man I met- my first cousin!

According to the great humorist Mark Twain 'Age is a matter of the mind. If you don't mind, it does not matter.' Normally people dread the onset of old age. But I have so much to be thankful for. I have had 52 years of marital bliss, content and happy with two lovely children. From early childhood I lived on the beautiful campus of the Forest Research Institute, Dehradun, first 22 years with my parents and then with my husband. It was situated on the foothills of the mighty Himalayas. On winter mornings, we would wake up to see the snow-capped mountains from our bedroom window, glistering in the sunlight.

From my experience, I can tell you some simple and wonderful ways of keeping young and healthy:
Lead an active life- I had led a very active life as a schoolteacher for 25 years. I was forced to retire in 1984, as my husband got a teaching job in Dandeli (North Karnataka) after his retirement from Dehra Dun. I was sad to stop teaching in Dehra Dun, but in Dandeli I taught English. I also taught English to the members of the Ladies Club and was involved in social work. In 1994, we moved to Bangalore, where both of us taught in St.John's School of Hotel Management.

In January 2003 I joined Helping Hand at Banjara Academy and I am enjoying my weekly volunteering at St.John's Hospital. In April 2003, I completed a week's course in counselling skills, I liked it so much that thanks to my supportive husband, I enrolled myself for the Diploma in Counselling Skills. At the moment I am very busy and happy attending classes on a variety of topics. We have an excellent faculty headed by the well known Dr. Ali Khwaja and Ing. Raja Reddy and Nalini. Life couldn't be happier at the moment!

Efficacy in prayer:
'Much can be wrought by prayer. Prayer and faith in God is a strong tool in times of crises. I have had these major crises in my life; in 1986, my daughter suffered from severe depression. In 1994, my grandson had hurt his back when his parents were in the US. In 2000, my husband had a spinal injury in Seattle In USA and was paralysed and I was here in India. On each occasion I drew immense strength from my prayers. I stormed the heavens and God helped me through the hard times and put them all back on their feet.

A s parents we cared and looked after our children and later our grandchildren. Now it is time for us to sit back and be pampered. Friends, I shall call these last years of my life. 'The Sunlit Years' for we have so much to look forward to our children and grandchildren excelling in their respective fields making us proud. Let us therefore, revel and rejoice and bask in the warmth and glory of our loved ones.

- Vishalakshi Guha

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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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