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Showing posts from 2008

THE CRITICS

The podium is, really, a lonely place. You may be a speaker or a lecturer, but when you stand there - you stand there, alone. Whenever I find my students insensitive to this reality, I make them aware of it. "Do you know how lonely this place is?" I ask them anguish writ large on my face. "You will know it, only if you come and stand here."

Most of the times, that works. Their faces show the transformation. But, there are times, it doesn't. Being vulnerable, only backfires. I still remember an episode.

Manish and Gaurav had been giving me a tough time, for some time. For no reason, they would comment, make the atmosphere loose and put some innocents students into trouble. And, that would continue for months, in spite of my requests, and even warnings. They would make even my warnings sound like some jokes, and extract laughter out of them.

That was the time I would become wild.

"You are going to invite trouble for you," I would caution them.

They would sti…

THE LITTLE NUTS

I had tough time with Rahul, this year. A 11th standard student that he is, he is the quintessential 'black sheep' in the flock. If a butcher comes calling, you are sure to say. "Take this one." So fed up, the shepherd is!

Kavita, a T.Y. B.Com, girl is somewhat a similar goat. Headstrong and articulate, but difficult to graze on the dotted lines. Difficult to tie down. "Here is one more," you would tell the butcher!

I had become very angry with them at several occasions; sermonised them; and, finally, when nothing worked, given up my hopes. I had this nagging inkling in my conscience that, both of them might dislike me for that. That, if the butcher, by default, asked them, in stead, they would certainly scream, "Here is he; take him!"

So 'harsh' I must have been for both Rahul and Kavita!

But, that was my 'guilty conscience' ... My unfounded fear. May be of losing my sheep, my goat.

This Christmas, both of them called me to wish. And, …

THE HUNGER IN YOUR BELLY

Anupam is barely eighteen. On Sunday, I attended a homely function of the inauguration of a training organisation - MINDFLEX. Anupam had persuaded at least a dozen brilliant people - his uncles and even teachers - to join him in creating this outfit. He became its Director.

Anupam hails from a simple South Indian family, which is anchored spiritually, like a rock. For this family - yes, right from his grand parents, parents, uncles and aunts to all his cousins - the Purpose, Commitment, Dedication, Service, and Simplicity are deeply embedded 'Values'. They run in their blood. When I came close to Anupam, about a year ago, I had immediately smelt his 'blue blood'. And, as one of his uncles in his speech put it, so dramatically, on Sunday - yes, I had sensed that 'hunger in his belly'!

"He would be the man to watch for," I had openly said. "He would go places."

Sunday was the first milestone. The 'prophecy' had just begun to unfold!

The go…

THE SMALL WISH

The only child born to them, was born deformed. The child is, now, about twenty-year old; and, ever since it was born, it has never opened its eyes, never recognised its parents, never been able to get up! They have kept this child in a wonderful - very expensive - facility in Bangalore. Though this middle-aged couple lives abroad, they make at least two trips to India, every year, to 'see' their child. And, the only wish they have harboured in their hearts, all these years, is: "We just wish our child to recognise us."

That's not destined to be. Yes, despite they spending lakhs of rupees on this 'little' wish!

Whenever one of their friends plans to visit Bangalore, this couple has a special request to make: "Please visit our child; talk to her; give our love to her ... click her fresh pictures and bring us."

Their friends do.

Kartik studied under me in his final-year of graduation. He, too, was the only child of his parents. He was a mentally chal…

MY SIMPLE GOD

On the night of this Christmas, I had a strange dream. In the dream, I saw myself in a party. There were about thirty of us. There was music, dance, drinks, food and merriment. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, except me. Because my mind was caught in the web of comparison, that night. Like a video man's camera, my mind kept shifting its focus from one person to another in that room. And, suffered.

"I can not dance like Ivan and Betty," my mind complained. "How, spontaneous, how graceful they are!"

"Novel and Nora move around in the crowd with elan," my mind noted. "They look so confident."

Brian sang and Stany played guitar. "Every one went ga ga over them; they can make even a passive crowd come to life." my mind reasoned.

Lancy was the emcee. "Wow, what a vivacious man he is! He can tickle our funny bone, make us smile,laugh and even feel young. I can never do that," I was restless.

"Look at these couples - Prem and Priya, …

ONE FOR MY SON

Sometimes, in the midst of my frantic efforts to meet my financial commitments - particularly, my mortgage payments - I get this thought:

How nice it would have been, had my dad left behind a house, some property, for me, his son, before he died! How peacefully I could have spent 'all that energy', and money, for more 'productive' purposes! How well we all - myself, my wife and my only son - could have 'enjoyed' our life today!

But, then, it is just a passing thought. My father, a simple village man, did whatever he could, for his five sons, and went. I do admit that the struggle to meet my financial deadlines, often, bogs me down. I do wish I had it all provided ready for me, so that I would have to struggle less, lead a smoother life.

When that thought - soaked with self-pity - passes, I hear a loud voice inside me:

"Thank God, he did not leave behind the 'pot of gold' for you. You would have failed to discover the gold within you!"

I seriously f…

THE GIFT OF MAGI

"One dollar and eighty-seven cents."

This is how O. Henry's short story - 'THE GIFT OF MAGI' - begins. I am yet to come across a Christmas tale, as moving as this one. It's simply an ageless classic. Simply immortal!

It is a story about the true spirit of gifting and sacrifice. It is about the silent strength of true love ... It is about trust, faith, simplicity and, above all, the true spirit of Christmas: the imitation of the Christ!

It is, a true challenge ... for any one. Yes, whether you are a Christ's follower or not!

This story can not be retold, here, the way the great author had done. Any attempt to do so - is like desecration of the Sacrament! So precious it is.

Suffice this much:

Only one day to go. Tomorrow would be Christmas. In a small apartment, Della counts her savings. It is one dollar and eighty-seven cents! All those pennies saved over the months, with small little sacrifices, with love, with the sole objective of making a Christmas present …

GETTING MARRIED

"Are you married?"

"No, I am happy."

After, ten years, I met Neeraj, last evening, with his wife and their little kid. I reminded his wife about the dialogue we had.

"Are you married," I had asked Neeraj.

"No, I am happy," he had replied.

This time, I asked both of them, "Are you happy?"

They looked at each other and laughed.

Not long back, I was with a young man called Amit. He was to get married after a week. So, just as a friend of mine, Glen, bumped in, I instinctively wanted to introduce Amit to Glen.

"Glen," I said. Then, as it happens in my case, often, I forgot Amit's name! "He is getting married next week." I tried to bail myself out.

"Hi," said Glen, stretching his hand to Amit.

"Hi," Amit responded.

But, the hands did not unclasp.

"I was wondering, whether to say 'Congrats', or 'I am sorry'," Glen pulled the would-be bridegroom's legs.

"I was wondering,&quo…

IN GLORY OF GOING GREEN

A skinny fellow is desperately trying to woo a pretty girl. In the middle of his frantic efforts, another - not so great-looking - guy comes in the picture ... The pretty babe is all floored! The next moment, you see her cosing up with this intruder ... while our 'devdas' is left kicking in the air, screaming his lungs out:

"WHAT IS THAT HE HAS ... THAT I DON'T?"

The camera zooms in on 'that' thing: 'The winner's underwear'!

I do not know how many, today, remember this TV ad of a famous underwear manufacturer. But, I still do ... because, I used to simply love it!

They say: When you fall in love, you turn pink; when angry, you turn red; when scared, you turn yellow ... and, when you are jealous, you go green.

This article is about going green ... The ecstasy and agony of being jealous of someone.

"Woman, thy name is envy," when Shakespeare said it, years ago, I wasn't born. Otherwise, he wouldn't have done that blunder of inviting…

SOMEBODY AND NOBODY

It was the lawns of a posh club on the western suburb of Mumbai. Six of us, including my wife and son, had settled around a large table and were enjoying the grand wedding reception. There were hundreds of guests, and the venue was stunning, with liquor freely flowing, and the sumptuous snacks and dinner. The December chill and the moonless sky, along with the subtle background music, had added romance to the ambiance. We were joking, laughing and sharing, completely oblivious of the time. No one bothered us, except the occasional 'hello' from some familiar faces, or 'please help yourself' from the hosts, or a passing video camera. It was the quintessential 'good time' ... and it was all ours.

But, after a while, it was not to be 'ours'. It became 'theirs'.

The celebrities started dropping in. And, there was great buzz around. "Look Subhash Ghai," some shouted. Mr. Ghai was with his friends. Unlike we six - who were all suited and booted…

THE PROBLEM

One unhappy man can not make another happy.

When Ramesh calls me up, I know, he is unhappy, stuck in something, down in spirits ... and, he needs my help. He wants to talk to me.

Ramesh is 35, now. I had taught him in his final year of graduation, about fifteen years ago. Ever since then, he has been in touch with me. Just a phone call from him, and he is in my office, with his fresh problem.

Most of Ramesh's problems are work-related. He is a software programmer in a small-size company. Being a shy and nervous guy, he, often, goofs up at his work place. Yesterday, he told me this:

"My senior is good to me. He tells me that I need to 'listen and understand' my client's problem well. Because, I don't, I mess up on the solution."

"Right," I said. "then, why can't you 'listen and understand' ... Why can't you solve your problem?"

"I know, I should. But, every time a client tries to explain me his problem on the phone, my mi…

SECURITY CHECK

In a hospitality business, the customers are called 'guests'. They are treated not just as kings, but as Gods! That's why, the other day, Mr. Oberoi, the owner of The Oberoi chain of hotels commented : "(Heavy) Security and hospitality business, normally, don't go together."

Mr. Oberoi was speaking to the media when the rescue operations were underway at the Oberoi Trident. His concern was understandable. The Five-star guests are so used to the royal treatment, that the hotel staff takes extra-ordinary precaution not to offend them, even to the slightest extent. A heavy security check is blasphemous, in such a delicate business.

Now, things are going to change. They are forced to. The guests be better prepared for a thorough security check. The questions will be asked, sternly, and they better get used to it.

It is easy - almost fashionable - to scream over the security lapses. Yes, at the airports and railway stations, at the malls and multiplexes, at the Hotel…

THE BEST SCHOOL

Sumanna looked worried. Her six-year-old son, Parth, is a vibrant kid. But, of late, he has been facing some coping difficulties in the school. The teachers have been complaining, and the pressure is taking its slow and steady toll on the mind of the toddler. And, on Sumanna's as well.

Yesterday, Sumanna came to talk to me after meeting her child's counselor. "The tests show that Parth's Emotional Quotient, too, is very low," she said.

First, it was the blow of the low 'Intelligence Quotient'. Now, this one. First, Sumanna had to do two rounds a week to her child's counselor; now, she will have to do four!

I remember, how desperate Sumanna was, a few years ago. She wanted the best schooling for her child. And so, she went about making frantic enquiries, all around, to short-list a school for the little one. She had come to me, too, to seek my advice. And, I still remember what I had told her: "Sumanna, don't be obsessed with the 'best' …

SO, LIFE GOES ON ...

"So, Life goes on ... "

While I was having dinner at a wedding reception, last night, one of the members of our housing society made this statement.

Some months ago, a few members had disturbed the peace in our Society by mud-slinging and gross accusations - remorselessly, and relentlessly - until others stepped in to challenge them (This was after having failed to convince them.). The things came to a heady dead-end, and then, the administrator stepped in to take charge. Months have passed by. There is silence. All the participants of this 'great show' are going about their life, as they always did before. The issue is not solved; only, it is no more an issue!

So, last night, this gentleman reminded me about this truth: "So, Life goes on ... Doesn't it?"

Yes, Life goes on even after two decades since the Bofors scandal played havoc in our country. Governments fell and governments rose, but, Life in India goes on ... Yes, as it did before.

The Bofors issue …

RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS

Many years ago, I was travelling in a business man's car. When we reached near a particular temple, his driver stopped the car. The business man excused himself and went inside the temple to pay respect to the deity, and returned quickly.

"I do this every day on my way to the office," he said, "With out His grace, nothing is possible."

"In deed," I agreed.

We had barely moved some distance, and this business man began to ask his driver about something. As the discussion proceeded, the businessman flared up and started hurling abuses on the driver. Obviously, the driver did not like to be insulted in front of a stranger, and showed some resistance from his end. This further infuriated the boss. I had to get down just a distance ahead. I have no idea what happened after that.

After reaching my destination, I shared this episode with one of my colleagues. "How mechanically we pray! He had just come out of the temple, and the next moment, he was reveali…

OYE LUCKY

Normally, I do not decide to watch a movie, by the ratings of the critics. Because, I have been mislead by them too many times in the past. On the other hand, whenever I have sneaked into a cinema hall, without anyone having washed my brain, or just by default, I have thoroughly enjoyed that movie.

After the depressing one week, last evening, I really wanted to watch a light movie. Of all the Bollywood movies currently being screened around, I chose 'OYE LUCKY ... LUCKY OYE' to ease out my pressure and bring a smile back on my face. After all, the critics had given 3 1/2 stars for it, while all other movies had never made it beyond two. So, once again, I fell prey to the critic's verdict, and, along with my wife, settled down to watch this movie.

Till the interval break, neither of us could make where lay the head and where the tail of this 'Oye Lucky'. Instead of easing out my pressure and depression, it added an additional load to it. So, the moment the lights came…

THE LIBERATION

My auto stopped right at the spot. A particular opposition party had organised, on the roadside, the candle-light vigil for the victims of the latest terror attack in Mumbai. A lady leader was breathing fire and brim stones. For fifteen minutes, I got stuck there. But then, I got this 'opportunity' to listen to one of our 'netas'.

Hundreds of candles were lit ... half-a-dozen leaders spoke fervently ... and the crowd was directed to shout loudly -"Bharat Maata Ki Jai." ... "Shaheed log amar rahe."

It was supposed to be a dignified prayer meet. The prayer for the unfortunate victims, for the liberation of their souls. The 'netas' turned it into their election campaign; and, they did it so shamelessly, on the roadside. They promised the crowd, the 'gullible', the liberation of a different kind: the liberation from the 'corrupt' and 'incompetent' government. They promised them safety and security.

The candles were lit for t…

THE HERD

"Nice belt," he complimented looking at my belt.

"Thank you," I acknowledged his compliment.

"Where did you buy it from?" he enquired, feeling the leather with his hand.

"The roadside," I informed.

"Be serious," he checked the buckle.

"I am. I bought it ten years ago, and I use it daily," I added.

"And, how much did you pay for it?" he was still not ready to believe me.

"Sixty bucks."

Nodding his head in disbelief, he pulled his belt out. "Look at this. I bought it from a famous store for four hundred. It is supposed to be a 'fine Italian leather'! ... And, look at its state ... Not even a year; and, I don't use it every day ..." he said.

"I have experienced it countless times," I sympathised holding his Italian stuff which was in tatters. "I have three 'branded' belts at home, not even two year-old. I am afraid to use them even once a week, leave alone daily."

The r…

DO YOU KNOW THE VEDAS?

The arrogant Brahmin had asked this question to the poor, illiterate boatman, who was peacefully rowing the scholar to the other side of the river.

"No sir, I don't," the innocent boatman had replied.

"What? You've wasted your life," the arrogant Brahmim had shouted.

"What about reading and writing; at least you must be able to do them?"

"Sir, I am a poor soul of this village; I have never entered the doors of a school."

"Ayyo Rama, what a waste of life!"

"Can you not speak Sanskrit, at least?

"No sir; I can not."

"It is a criminal waste of life, in deed!"

By now, the boat had reached the deep-middle of the river. A ferocious wind blew, causing a violent storm, and the boat began to go down. The highly learned man was all panic personified, and began to tremble. "Please help me; please save me," he cried for help before the calm and composed boatman.

"Have you learnt swimming, sir?" the illite…

TWENTY-FOUR BY SEVEN

For the last two days, I have been having a very bad cold. My head was heavy and eyes were sleepy. So, after taking a strong doze of medicines, last night, I went into a deep sleep. My son stayed late to study for his board exams; my wife had to leave early this morning, and hence, went off to sleep early, too.

At 11 in the night, the SMSes stared flashing. "There has been firing at several places in Mumbai by the terrorists," our son knocked on our bed-room door to break the news. But, my sleep wasn't broken. After he left, my wife hit the bed again. But then, she struggled to catch sleep after that. At 1.30 am, my mobile phone rang; she picked up. My younger brother from Navi Mumbai spent the next half-an-hour giving her the 'live coverage' of the going-ons. This time, she tried to wake me up. "Listen. It seems, they are showing on TV the live coverage of the terror attack on Mumbai," she somewhat succeeded in breaking her husband's unusual snooze.…

DON'T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF

On another day, I would have worried about using the title I have chosen for this article. For, it is the title of one of my favourite inspirational-books. This little book - a true classic, in my view - contains dozens of small articles which help us calm down whenever we get worked up on our daily, small stuff; yes, whenever we 'sweat our small stuff'. The ideal place to park this book is: the pillow side. So soothing it is!

Richard Carlson, the author of this book, tells us, in the introduction, the story behind the title. He tells, that he had gotten the famous author, Dr. Wayne Dyer, to endorse one of Carlson's earlier books. He had written to Dr. Dyer for a similar endorsement for the next one as well. But, there was no response from the famous author. Meanwhile, the publishers of Mr. Carlson's new book decided to carry Dr. Dyer's previous endorsement on the new cover, too. When Carlson saw the cover of his new book, he immediately slipped into a panic mode! …

MY POT-BELLY

Yes, I don't like my pot-belly.

And, that's the first step to send it in.

No, it is not.

Then, what is?

Loving a lean, flat and healthy belly is.

Yes, the more I remain an anti-pot-belly crusader, the more it bloats. All my resolutions go for a toss as soon as I make them; my efforts remain half-hearted ... and, lo! there it grows: my majestic pot-belly!

So, I decide, instead, to be a pro-flat-belly activist. I fall in love with it; day in and day out, I visualise it. I feel the smoothness, the well-being. My resolutions are motivated by my love for health, and not the hatred for my bloated tummy. My efforts are constantly prompted by my positive life-energy of love ... love for something beautiful - my lean body, my health, my longevity.

Habits get formed, over a long period of time, through our repeated actions and non-actions. What begins as a result of an impulse, when persisted upon, come to stay with us permanently. It becomes a compulsion, a mechanical response, a habitual beh…

THE TOXIC ELEMENTS

The old man had seven children - three sons, and four daughters. And, he died with his boots on. At 80.

This man came from a very humble back round, worked very hard to give a decent education to his seven children. When he died, he left for them a large house that had five bathrooms. The daughters had been married, and they stayed separately. Two of the three sons were married and stayed under the same roof. The youngest of the siblings, the unmarried son, was a spoilt brat. For him, everything had come on a platter. His two elder brothers worked hard to keep up their father's legacy. But, the last one, was born to ruin it.

Troubles began to brew up soon after the old man's demise. The youngest one, who was a college-dropout, would come home, late in the nights, fully drunk. His mornings began only at ten. Then, a towel tied around his waist, he would wile away his time, just because 'his' bath room was occupied by some one else. He would never, ever enter another! Yes,…

THE GLOOMY SKY

The world is not perfect; its principles are.

When you go about your life expecting the world to be perfect, you only end up being cynical. On the other hand, when you keep faith in its rock-steady principles, you become buoyant, zestful.

This morning, I felt a strong urge with in me to pray for this wonderful 'boon': of being zestful, hopeful and buoyant.

I realise that, often, many small irritations, small misunderstandings in my life, make me edgy, pessimistic and give up soon. I tend to lose trust in people, their goodness, their sincerity easily. I see myself making gloomy predictions; and, I remain immobile, unenthusiastic and skeptical about other people's ideas and plans.

A couple of my students remain absent for my class, least bothered to inform me - it is enough to make me conclude: "The times have changed; there is no respect for teachers."

The fact that ninety-eight percent of the students attended the class, bothered to take me into confidence - yes, t…
THE WILD, WAYSIDE FLOWERS
There is, always, something extra-ordinary in the wild, wayside flowers...