Thursday, December 31, 2009

I JUST WANT TO SAY...

Last evening, Girish called me up and said, "Sir, tomorrow is 31st December. I want you to post something to motivate us."

Something to motivate others? Girish thinks my posts can motivate not only him but also others. Well, it feels good when I think about it. Someone looks up to me... Someone waits for my posts on the blog... The thought does boost my confidence; does motivate me to keep up to their expectations.

I want to write about this very issue: How does our confidence go up?

This morning, I taught Jinal, a new student for an hour. She was joining my class when others have almost done with their portion. I was apprehensive and had expressed my concern to her yesterday. Still, I took a chance and had called her today for a session. She was picking things fast and I felt a lot relieved and glad. While she was leaving, I sincerely complimented her. "Jinal," I said, "You pick things fast. I am very happy."

I saw Jinal's face all lit up on my comment. She left my place feeling like a winner! And what about me?

What most of us do not realise is that the whole humanity, out there, is dying to be appreciated, complimented... stroked. It costs us nothing; still most of us are stingy... We do not compliment enough, do not express, sincerely, our appreciation. It is because, we have never realised the fact that, when we appreciate and compliment others, first and foremost, it helps us. It enhances our self-esteem, make us pro-active individuals... It helps to implement in our lives the Law of Abundance: "What we give, we receive back in many fold." There is also that famous Law of Attraction: "What we sow, we reap... What we focus on, in life, expands."

When I complimented Jinal, I did it with no strings attached. I did it straight from my heart. That's why, I could not only feel the joy on her face, I could feel it on my own, as well. This is one of the simplest ways in which we can bring about empowerment... Yes, in others and in ourselves.

I want to tell Girish and all my readers, today - on the eve of the New Year: "Do not look for 'big ways' of making difference in this world; look for 'small ways', 'simple ways'". I want to tell all of them, "Give enough appreciation, enough compliments - the genuine ones... and give it without any expectations. I am absolutely sure, it will make your lives a lot richer, a lot happier."

Finally, I wish to tell everyone, that no matter how bleak things appear now, please do not lose faith in goodness of humanity, goodness of God, goodness of even our, so-called, 'enemies." May our cynicism burn into ashes along with the traditional 'old man'... May hope reign... May love reign... May good intentions be our eternal guiding lights.

A very Happy New Year to you Girish and all my friends, my readers.


GERALD D'CUNHA

Thursday, December 3, 2009

MITESH AND ROHIT

They are in 12th standard. They have been studying under me, in the same batch, for almost a year. I will rename them, for the purpose of this post - Mitesh and Rohit.

I had taught Mitesh's dad more than twenty years ago. Those days, I had been struggling, to rise from the ashes of my just collapsed venture. I had learnt from my mistakes and I was determined to make a come back. I had come from my village, and there was no one here, in Mumbai, to support me financially. It was tough; but, the desire and resolve to rise from the ashes was so strong that I had no room in my mind to think otherwise.

Mitesh's father, was studying under me, then, for his final year. They were three brothers. Their father had set up a textile business from the scratch, and over the years bought some properties. But, their bad phase was on when I was teaching Mitesh's dad. It took just a couple of years for them to fold up their business, sell their properties, one by one. In the years that followed, the three sons did attempt to start some venture on their own, but without success. Soon, each one of them took up some jobs... and, along the years, brought up their children as responsible kids.

Mitesh is really a responsible young man: hard-working, focused and simple. He wants to do CA. I have no doubt over his capacity to succeed. At his age, Mitesh's father and uncles, had an extremely comfortable life. But, the hard days that followed had helped them to raise their children with the right set of values and right frame of mind. Mitesh, who studies in HR college, manages his cell phone bill within a shoe-string budget of Rs.100 to Rs.200. For his daily travel, he has a train and bus pass. He rarely gets into an auto. He walks the distance, instead.

Rohit comes from an affluent family of builders. Their car drops and picks him wherever he has to go. His monthly cellphone bill is close to Rs.2,000. He bunks my classes, skips my homework with a hundred excuses. However, he listens to me with respect, gives me promises, apologises regularly... and, does come about as a young man eager to make amends, get himself organised.

Rohit says he wants to get into their family business. Touch wood, they do well. Rohit has not felt the need to 'toil', walk, sweat out... manage his cellphone within a tight budget. Life is all easy - chauffeur-driven - for him. His parents, like most of us, want their son not to go through hardship and struggle in life, which we had to go through in life. They want the best of comforts for their son. They want him to grow up, all prepared, to walk into their family business. They want him to succeed.

Am I confident about Rohit's success?

Today, I was talking to them about success. I felt both were eager, receptive. I knew, that they had no choice over the kind of family situation they were born into. But, I knew, that they certainly had a choice over the kind of situation they desired to get into. I knew, Mitesh had it in him what it took to become a CA. But, I wasn't confident about Rohit. He needed to toughen himself out; he needed some challenges. In my own way, without comparing them, without making them feel guilty or embarrassed, I conveyed my feelings and apprehensions. I told both of them that they could succeed... if they, truly, desired to.

As their common teacher, I wanted both of them to succeed. I also wanted them to work for it, deserve it. And, I conveyed my feelings with all my honesty.


GERALD D'CUNHA

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

THE BULL RUN

"Have you ever seen a bullock cart taking reverse?" Vikram asked me.

Well, I had grown up in a village in Mangalore where bullock carts were a common sight... We had them everywhere in our village. While returning from school, so often, we children would get a joy ride in Thaburanna's famous bullock cart. But, never did I bother to observe whether his bullock cart ever took a reverse!

Last night, when Vikram asked me that question, I began to think about it, for the first time.

"The bull doesn't look up; it takes the load, looks down... and moves. That is called the 'Bull Run'," Vikram continued. "Your neck may bleed, back may hurt... but you move, with your head down."

But, need I be docile, submissive? Need I be a bullock carrying others' load? Why should my neck bleed? Why should my back hurt? Why should I suffer?

"Because, the need to take load comes with your decision to take charge," Vikram added. "You have to accept the load... and move... gladly."

I couldn't fully agree. Who is in charge - the bullock or Thaburanna? I remember, the times, Thaburanna handed to us, the children, the whip and we would have great fun whipping the bullock. But, never, ever did we think of the pain, the suffering the bullock had to go through... never, ever did we think about its bruised neck, and the burdened back. All that we saw was the faithful bullock moving, taking all of us - and the heavy load of goods - never looking up, never complaining. It was pure fun... Then.

Last evening, my neck was bleeding, and the back was hurting... I was feeling the pain, the burden, the frustration. That was the time, Vikram was trying to pep me up with the bullock-cart analogy. That was the time - the first time - I realised the kind of pain we children used to inflict upon the hapless animal, all for our fun. That was, also, for the first time I had thought whether a bullock cart ever took reverse.

Thaburanna, we knew, took good care of his bullock. His love for the animal was a village folklore. Yet, he whipped the animal, caused bruises and pain. We never noticed - and could never understand - the contradiction, the paradox. Some years after I had moved to Mumbai, my mother wrote a letter to me informing me about Taburanna's death. He was old, and he had spent his entire life running his bullock cart. That fateful day, he was fast asleep as the bullock, so faithfully, without looking up, carried the heavy load and its master. A speeding truck had knocked off the cart, killing, on the spot, both - the faithful servant and the caring, old master. The task master.

The bull run had ended.


GERALD D'CUNHA

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A NEW RESOLVE

Yesterday, I received, by post, a beautiful table calender. For each month of 2010, a fresh painting... and each of them was a amazing work. And, each of them was by a 'foot and mouth artist'!

My immediate impulse was to take it home and place it prominently on our table. I wanted my young son to see it. He, too, is fond of drawing, sketching and painting. He too has plans to pursue an art-related field. I wanted him to see these paintings by those physically challenged artists. Not to have hands to draw and paint, still, they have created such brilliant work using their feet and mouth! It was remarkable, inspiring... humbling.

The artists are faceless. I do not know their background. But, I am very certain, that all those gifted men or women must be financially challenged, too. I wanted my son to contemplate on these realities, and feel inspired.

We want our son to realise his talents. We want him to put efforts, and we have promised him our full support. Our son has his hands to draw, resources to draw, talent to draw. He needs only that fire in his belly to shine, to realise his dreams.

Should I tell my son about all these feelings of mine?

Well, I have just placed the calendar on the dining table. I know my son would certainly see it, like it... and, even, feel inspired. My intention is not to manipulate my son; just provide one more resource. I am hopeful, he would get the message... and start creating his own work not by foot and mouth, but by 'hands and heart'.

Just a month to go, and we have a new year. And, a new resolve, perhaps.


GERALD D'CUNHA

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A LIFE SENTENCE

Last week, we had been for the wedding reception of a cousin of my wife. It was in a swanky banquet hall and the ambiance was familiar: that of a traditional Catholic-wedding.

In a Catholic wedding, the programme, from the start to the end, is all well-set; it is predictable... You know what comes next, what the Master of Ceremony is going to tell next. And, for most of us, the one liners, the teasers and the jokes that the M.C. uses, are, often, too familiar. On this particular evening, the M.C. cracked the familiar teaser, while the bridal couple waited nervously before the lovely cake, about to hold the knife.

"Marriage is not just a 'word'," he reminded the newly-weds, "It is a 'sentence' - a 'life sentence'."

"Nice one," I softly said.

"What is nice in that?" reacted my wife.

Now, I knew that question was not asked to seek an answer, but to express a faithful wife's displeasure. It meant: "You old man, shut up."

"We, too, were warned with the same words by our M.C. about two decades ago," I muttered in my mind.

"So ?" I heard her screaming through her nasty look.

"Nothing, just watching as to who is going to grab the knife first," I meowed.

"Very funny," I was reminded.

"I know, darling," I agreed with my mouth fully shut.

"You know what?", that was the predictable question.

"That, marriage is not just a 'word'; it is a 'sentence' - a 'life sentence'," I clarified.

The D.J. went on a full blast... the confetti showered from the beautiful centre piece as the guests gave a long applause...

The bride was the one to grab the knife first!

"Did you see that?" the grin wanted to know.

"Yes, I did," I accepted the sentence.


GERALD D'CUNHA

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

THE HOUSE OF TO-MORROW

Many a times, when some parents share with me their fears and frustrations over their children, I find myself empathising with them. I am able to understand their problems because I 'stand outside' and view those problems. I, too, have a teenager son. Most of their struggle is mine, too... most of their fears and frustrations... most of their dilemmas. So, empathy comes naturally to me whenever I counsel other parents. At times, I find myself quoting my favourite author, Kahlil Gibran:

"Your children are not your children...
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself;
They come through you, but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they do not belong to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of to-morrow,
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For Life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far,
Let your bending in the Archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable."

I have never quoted for any one the entire piece. I have only taken a line or two from this only for the sake of 'effect'. Particularly, I have used the first two lines: " Your children are not your children... They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself."

Today, it struck me like a bolt of lightening: I had never read the piece fully all these years. Or, was it that: I had never understood it?

I have only one son. As a parent, I struggle while I raise him, educate him. I experience my fears, anxieties and frustrations... I get into my angry - some times, even violent - bouts... I slip into my caves, sulk, cry, repent... promise to myself, to my son, to be more caring and loving henceforth... but, then, again, I go back on my words... make the same mistakes. I struggle... I wander... I wonder.

"Your children do not 'belong' to you," I must've told this to other parents a thousand times. "You may house their bodies but not their souls, for their souls dwell in the house of to-morrow, which you can not visit, not even in your dreams." Have I understood the meaning of these lines?

Each line, today, hit me with unbelievable newness. Probably, because, I felt the pain of my current struggle unbearable. Yes, maybe, I was thirsty for the meaning. "You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you, for Life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday." How true!

I may try to be like my son! It is mind-blowing!

And, finally, this: "Your are the bows from which your children, as living arrows, are sent forth... The Archer (God) bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the Archer's hands be for gladness, for even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable."

Do I know that I am only a bow in the hands of God, the great archer? Do I know that He bends me so that His arrow - my son - goes swift and far?

Knowing is only one part of my growth. Living in tune with that knowledge is the most significant part. I am yet to grow here... My 'bending' is far from over...

After all, am I not an arrow shot by the same Archer from His another bow?


GERALD D'CUNHA

Friday, November 20, 2009

DO YOU REMEMBER?

"Do you remember this point...? I have explained it in the class many times." Sameer's face drew a blank when I asked him that question. His two friends looked towards him and began to laugh, poking fun at his ignorance. Sameer retaliated with some nasty comments... and some girls started giggling loudly... Looking at the funny girls, half-a-dozen boys got restless...

And, while all this was unfolding in my class like a fast-paced movie, I lost my head completely. Then, for the next fifteen minutes, I went on a rampage - 'the emotional atyachar'. I did it with such strong words and with such intense feelings... that the mutiny had to die down. By the time it did, it, almost, killed me. I was left with no energy... but, with a hell lot of turmoil within.

That was at 11.30 in the morning, while teaching the 12th standard students.

At 2.00 in the afternoon, I was teaching the T.Y. B.Com students. The class was packed, and I was in full flow. "Do you remember this point, Anand...? I have explained it many times, before." I did not realise, even faintly, that, the same question in the morning - in fact, just a few hours before - had let loose the demon in me to create such a gloomy hell. Anand's two friends were acid-quick to pull his legs... and the predictable sequence ensured. But, my response, surprisingly, was unpredictable.

"Gajinike aulad," I shouted unleashing a riot of laughter. Most of them had watched the funny face and dialogue of Archana Puran Singh in the trailer of the to be released Hindi comedy - 'DE DANA DAN'. In that scene, her hubby Paresh Rawal is shown lying in a hospital bed, and, on regaining his consciousness, asking his 'kadoos' wife - "Main kidar hoon?" "Tere saas ke wahan, Gajinike aulad," yells the vamp!

When Anand lost his memory for a while, I did not lose my head. I remembered Archana maami's outburst. And, that saved me from one more trip to hell. Instead, for the next ten minutes, the packed class was transported to a vibrant, fun-packed world. In this world, every one was happy... There was no preacher, no teacher, no bulldozer... there were only happy, spontaneous kids. Yes, like Amitabh Bachchan in another forthcoming release - 'PAA", I found myself trapped in the mind of a kid... and, I found myself laughing, enjoying... celebrating life!

And, yes, just a few hours after I had done exactly the opposite... ironically, under exactly the identical situation!

When I reflect on these two episodes, I can't help but laughing.

I am the interpreter of the stories. I am the translator. The stress is certainly not worth it. But, the joy is; the celebration is.

But then, I am just a human. I do slip into these occasional memory losses... and go on a rampage, creating hell... and, then, with all my innocence, I ask Archana maami: "Main kidar hoon?"

Do you remember?


GERALD D'CUNHA

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

THE TEACHER APPEARS...

I teach my students how to solve accounting problems. As a teacher, we say so many things, so mechanically... that unless someone brings to our notice, we don't even realise them. Sometimes, we come to know about them when, in a healthy spirit, some students come forward to mimic us.

Last evening, I met a professional accountant. We had invited him to handle the accounts of our housing society. "We need you to set right all the mess, here. We want you to put our house in order," we told him referring to the accounting problems we were facing in our society.

"Sir, every problem has to be solved twice," the man told us, looking smilingly at me. "Once, here (He pointed at his head), and, once again, here (He pointed at the accounts books on the table)." Before we could react, he continued, "Sir, about fifteen years ago, you told this to us in the class when you taught us how to solve problems... Do you remember me? I was one of your students."

I was pleasantly surprised. I couldn't recognise the man after all these years. But, when he recalled those days, everything came back to me... Particularly those words which so mechanically I have been using for so many years: "Every problem is solved twice: once in our minds, and once again in our books."

Someone had understood the depth of those words. Last evening, when he, respectfully, 'mimicked' me, I realised, how much, we teachers, even when we do things so mechanically, influence our students... and, how mysteriously, a student can appear to teach us. Yes, the same lessons!

GERALD D'CUNHA

Monday, November 16, 2009

SOMEONE... SOMEWHERE

"Someone is waiting for you, somewhere," this man tells me. "He needs your goodness... your helping hand... your healing touch."

Well, I know my fallible human state. I know how selfish I can be, at times. I know the kind of thoughts that dominate my mind... I know, how impatient and how harsh I act with my nearest and dearest ones, sometimes... In fact, most of the times.

And still, here is this man - a man I look up to in my life - telling me that I am good... and someone out there - somewhere - is waiting for my goodness, my helping hand, my healing touch!

Without an iota of arrogance, I did feel he was being sincere... that he was not trying to flatter me, give me a 'high'. My self-doubts did surface... I did feel for a while that I did not deserve such a fine compliment. But, within a few fleeting seconds, I was there savouring the power of this gentleman's words: "Someone is waiting for you, somewhere."

Why am I writing these blog articles? Each and every article, I seriously believe, is about my own self-development - an exploration into the nearest star... ME! I know, in each of these pieces, I share my dilemmas, my struggles and my little triumphs. I am sure, I am able to connect with many through my posts... I am sure, they may help someone, somewhere...

Yes sir, thank you for reassuring me: "Someone is waiting for me, somewhere."...

As I do for gentle souls like you, here.


GERALD D'CUNHA

THE RAT RACE

Competition. Still, Lata Mangeshkar has survived for more than sixty years in the make-believe world of glamour. In the same world, Amithab Bachchan has lasted for more than forty years. And, in an fiercely competitive world of cricket, Sachin Tendulkar is still going strong even after twenty years!

All these legends have survived in their fields, the fields notoriously known for man-eat-man kind of competition. They have seen the ups and downs; they have faced ridicule and destructive campaign against them. The critics and cynics have written them off several times... and, still, these 'heroes' have stretched their necks out... and gloriously!

On Saturday evening, I accompanied my son, along with my wife, for the induction programme of his NID preparation course. The National Institute of Designing, which my son wants to get into - we are told by the coaching institute - is extremely competitive. There are only 90 seats on all India level, for which thousands of aspirants are trying. The exams are not the stereotype ones; they demand one's creative best... one's ability to think 'out-of-the-box'. On Saturday, the speaker was trying to drill a hole into the youngsters' thick skull: "Wake up all of you - Sid's... It won't be a cakewalk."

The speaker was emphasizing on one thing more than anything else: Passion. And, I couldn't agree with him more.

I know, my son needs to have tremendous amount of desire for NID; he must make it a single-minded goal; he must be determined... He must plan in an organised manner, trade-off... give up on some easy-comforts... stop day-dreaming and approach his goals realistically... Maybe, he also needs a bit of luck, God's grace. But, when he has that 'Passion' - which the speaker was again and again emphasising on - I think, the rest will fall in place.

Lata Mangeshkar has survived; Amithab Bachchan has survived... and Sachin Tendulkar has survived. The rat race, the cut-throat competition - when were these things not there? Which field is free from them? There are only eleven seats in the Indian cricket team... and millions of young men are dying for them! There are only ninety seats in NID... and thousands of young men want to grab one of them.

My son is one of them.

Will he make it?

I do not know. I only wish and support... and try to motivate, counsel. The rest depends on his passion... the fuel that fires every rocket up into the skies. He needs to to have enough of it in his belly.

I know it very, very well.


GERALD D'CUNHA

Saturday, November 14, 2009

THE DHARMA AND THE KARMA

At 10.30, this morning, when I reached our Colony gate, there was only one auto waiting. I quickly boarded it. Just then, I heard one of our watchmen blowing his whistle. When I peeped out towards him, I realised that a young lady with bags in both her hands was approaching towards the gate. She wanted the watchman to fetch an auto for her. So, without realising that I had already boarded the only auto that was available, he had blown his whistle, so that she could board it. When I saw this lady with heavy bags in both her hands, and realising the fact that she would not be able to get another auto for quite a while, my immediate reaction was: I asked the autowala to make an about turn towards this lady.

"Ma'am, there are no auto's there out side; would you like me to drop you somewhere?" I said, in the most sincere and spontaneous manner.

"No," she brushed me aside in an equally blunt and thankless manner, continuing to walk.

My face fell for a while; my ego was hurt. I saw even the autowala laughing sarcastically. For the rest of my 15-minutes journey, this lady consumed my mind.

"Why am I doing these kind of things, only to be insulted, ignored, hurt?" I kept asking myself. "Why do I go out my way to please people?"

There was anger. First, at the lady for her impoliteness... Then, slowly, the anger was redirected at me - for my own 'stupidity'... And, finally, it was all over.

I did what I did, because that was what my deep being wanted me to do. I was in alignment with my Values. And, there ended my 'duty'... my 'Dharma'. I really had no idea as to how this lady would react... That was not in my control. So, what she did was in alignment with her Values... It was her "Karma'.

How else could I keep my sanity? How else could I stop myself from being a bitter 'fellow-being'?

The ancient stories are still there for us... to find meaning.

Once, on the bank of a river, a monk was bathing. He saw a scorpion drowning and instinctively placed his palm to save the creature from dying. The scorpion began to sting monk's palm, agitated and restless... and, finally, fell into the river only to go down again. The monk, once again, stretched his hands and lifted the little creature on his palms. The creature left more blows, more blood... and, once again, fell into the water. But, the monk wouldn't give up his efforts to save the scorpion... while the creature would not give up striking.

This went on for some time. A man who was bathing along the monk was amused and even shocked to see this drama. "Swamiji, why do you continue helping that creature, when all that you get in return are the thankless blows?"

"Well, my friend," said the monk. "Because, I am doing my 'dharma'... and that little creature is doing its 'karma'."

How else shall I console myself for the morning blow?


GERALD D'CUNHA

Friday, November 13, 2009

WHEN LOST IN THE TUNNEL

Often, I wonder: What it takes to keep faith in life, while things around us - our very life - seem crumbling?

It is tough to be hopeful, tough to be optimistic when we are faced with terrible personal crisis. Bitterness and cynicism seem to be natural... We tend to give up.

Almost a year has passed since the terror attack in Mumbai. The life in Mumbai is the classic example for the 'bounce-back spirit' needed to survive, and move on. It is the collective voice of humanity: "Let nothing bog us down; nothing!"

Mr. Kanga, the General Manager of The Taj Hotels and Towers, was 40 when the terror strike took away from him his wife and two little sons... his entire family, that was. On the one side, you see your innocent family being destroyed; on the other hand, you , as the Captain of the ship, have to save others on board... What a dilemma! ... And just thinking about it, sends chills through my spine! That is the true call of duty... That is true faith in life... That is grit. The true one.

Today's TOI carries an interview with Mr. Kanga. "Life is a roller coaster, with many ups and down," this remarkable man says. "Important thing in life is not to lose faith and hope."

My problems are nothing compared to what Mr. Kanga had to face. Still, my problems, often, intimidate me... I find myself bitter and cynical. Mr. Kanga's life is the beacon of hope for people like me... who are lost in the tunnel.

Friday, November 6, 2009

THE PANIC WISDOM

"What is going to happen, WILL happen."

But, I do not know, what is going to happen. I want only 'pleasant things' to happen... I do my best to avert the 'unpleasant things' from happening.

Well, I used the words - 'do my best' - almost mechanically!

In my case - and, I believe there are many to provide me company here - I go all the way to avert, to block the 'enemy'. And, when I find myself unable to block the invasion, I panic.

Some people are super cool... so cool, that, even if the bombs start falling before them, they won't run! They are on the extreme end of one side of the spectrum. On the extreme end of the other side, are those who panic even when they ‘imagine’ the word ‘BOMB’… leave alone ‘hear’ the word!

Where do I fit in? I really do not know. But, I do like to be there with any of these ‘extremists’. Both are equally dangerous. I have an extra level of anxiety, which I know is not good for my health, both physical and mental. I desire, and try to, reduce this level, to be less anxious… Learn to ‘let go and let God’. But, certainly, I cannot stand the ‘super cools’. They, I think, are too indifferent, too insensitive towards others.

If laughter should come to me, when I realize "It is stupid to panic" … I plead God to help me learn to laugh. Similarly, in life, at times, if fear and pain are what one should experience, I earnestly ask God to help me learn how to cry.

Panic is panic. Whether I like it or not, and no matter how much I justify about it… it plays havoc in my life. I am, mercifully, aware when I slip into a panic mode…and, when - again, mercifully - ‘some one’ pulls me out of the hole.

And, I am able to comprehend the power of the statement:

“Whatever has to happen, WILL happen.”

It is not a ‘cool’ wisdom; it is ‘hard earned’.


GERALD D'CUNHA

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

IGNORANCE?

"Pain comes from fear. Fear comes from ignorance." I heard someone saying this.

Am I 'ignorant'?

Oh, yes... in so many areas of my life. And, I believe, each and everyone has his own areas. Each and every one has problems handling those areas... the areas of anxiety and fear... and, thus, of pain.

Just this morning, a solicitor I know spent at least half-an-hour talking to me. His teenager-son is in twelfth-standard science. He has been enrolled in one of the best coaching classes, with the hope that he would pursue engineering. Now, it is November. The young man has failed in five subjects. Both, the college and the coaching class, have asked the parents to see them about the son. Another thirty thousand is paid to a new tutor just to bail the son out in maths! Still, the things are going down the hill, with no hope whatsoever... The father is worried, frustrated and angry.

"Can you please talk to him, in your own way. I hope, he would listen to you," he pleaded. "But, don't tell him I told you to."

I knew the young man, and so, I assured the father that I would certainly make an attempt.

I saw an instant relief on the Solicitor's face!

We were about to part our ways, and I asked him about a property matter. For some time, I had been worrying about the matter, without knowing how to go about it. Many people had given many opinions... and , all these seemed to add to my confusion. So, this morning, when I asked the solicitor instinctively, he was more than willing to advise me. He did it for the next fifteen minutes, all free of charge... and on the roadside!

I experienced the relief in my heart.

Pain is always a discomfort we sense whenever we find ourselves in some tight situations. To me, it was the property matter; to my solicitor-friend, it was his teenager-son's growth. Both had difficulty handling our issues, both needed each other's help.

Were we both 'ignorant'?

No so long as we 'knew' we were helpless... that we were 'humans' and we needed a helping hand.

Fear is a friend... It is okay to be afraid, sometimes, somewhere.


GERALD D'CUNHA

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

THE RAAVANA

"I am a fighter," he declared with tremendous amount of pride. I could feel the arrogance, the self-righteousness. "I like to fight with the system, and I don't give up."

The 'system'. What is that?

The Establishment, the Government, the Administration, the Family hierarchy... Our man likes to fight with all of them... and doesn't like to give up.

I said, "That's great. Some people are born to fight... You are one of them."

"The system is corrupt; there is no transparency... no accountability," he argued. "If you do not raise your voice, 'they' can and will do anything."

"True," I agreed. "Somebody has to stand up; and you do."

"I don't leave anybody... whoever it may be," he thundered. "I fight ... and I like it."

"All the best," I wished him.

Let him fight all his life; he likes it. It is his mission, his religion... He gets a 'high' form it. So, let him carry on.

What about me? Am I not a 'fighter'? Don't I hold the fort when I am challenged?

I do. I, too, am a fighter... and I like it. But, then, I know this reality: the system includes me... I cannot ignore me when I fight. I must fight the 'system within me'...

I find it funny when we remain busy destroying Raavana's ten heads... while our one head is so capable of causing such a colossal havoc.

Yes, I like to fight... I like to burn the 'Raavana within'. The system!


GERALD D'CUNHA

Monday, November 2, 2009

THE END OF THE WORLD

It seems, our world is going to end in 2012!

I thought I should bring about at least one change in me before the doom comes. Yes, at least one.

Now, which one is that?

For fifty-one long years, I have worried about all sorts of things. Nothing of those things - the things I had feared - have come to pass... I have survived! Now, they say the doom is really approaching... just three years away from our doorsteps! I thought, if every thing is going to go in tsunami, inferno or tremor - whatever that is - why should I worry at all? At least, three years are left to enjoy this life. Yes, THREE LONG YEARS! Let me bring about, at least, one change in me before I go... we all go.

Suddenly, it hits me, again, that to enjoy life, I must learn to take things a little lightly. I must learn to laugh a little more... laugh at myself... not to take things - events, situations, comments, arguments and everything else too seriously. I must learn to let go my need to control, the need to be appreciated, agreed to, even respected and adored. Yes, all these things had been destroying my ability to savour life, for all these years. Now, if I don't do something about this, I will not even get these last three years!

How shall I bring about this change?

The world did not end though some things went wrong in my life. The world did not end though some people criticised me, disagreed with me, abused me. The world did not end though some life-events came harsh on me. No, the world has not ended; I have survived.

So, I think, it is time I did something different. When others enjoyed life, I was worrying. Now, when they worry, let me enjoy...

I deserve these three years, at least.

2012 is just a metaphor for me. That unless I do something about my old,worrying habit, the doom is just a few steps from my door. Something, inside me, guides me to see this truth...

I strongly feel, as I write this, that the world WILL end. The world of my gloom and doom!

Long live the prophets and the soothsayers!


GERALD D'CUNHA

THE BEAT OF A LEGACY

Passion is contagious.

On Saturday night, I went with my wife and son to watch "This Is It." I had been a huge fan of Michael Jackson - the star, the performer and the enigmatic genius. But, I had never been fond of his songs. Except for the famous 'We are the World', I have registered nothing in my mind!

Well, this admission may reveal my ignorance. I may sound stupid, even. But, honestly, I admired the man - the larger-than-life persona -- but, not his songs, his music. And, that is it!

But, let me tell you, the two-hour-long film left me breathless. In fact, it is not a film; just a documentary - compiled from the footage of the rehearsals Michael did with his musicians, dancers, technicians and production and direction team. Mind you, it was the 'practice session', the rehearsal... not the actual show. If I was left breathless, and crying, watching this footage-show, what would have been my experience watching the real one!

The man was, in deed, a genius! He knew his every note, every sound, every beat, every step... yes, not just his own, but of every performer with him, both on and back stage. He breathed music, and infused that breath in others. Such was his passion... so contagious!

I came home - all of us - awe-struck by the genius and the passion of Michael Jackson. At 50, this skin-and-bone man - even after enduring such an amount of personal hell in his life - was capable of dreaming so big, and inspiring a cross-section of generation. I was stumped by the blazing fire in his belly, his zest and curiosity which seem untouched by the harshness of life-situations.

I felt the sorrow. I saluted the man... who died with his boots on. Even after two days, the beat of his legacy is on: Either you do it with all your passion, or you just don't do it.

Thank you Michael. That is, truly, it!

Friday, October 30, 2009

ME AND MY TAIL

The area where I have to grow most, and fast, is: my emotional maturity.

I am extremely sensitive. I have a heart which is golden. Trusting others, helping them... going the extra mile, doing things without being told... yes, all these things come naturally to me. I can live with the bare minimum... starve, if required... walk for miles, if required... and, yet, when it comes to my emotions, I often feel the discomfort... whenever they take the better of me, whenever I express my sadness, pain, anguish, anger, my fears and even my ignorance. I express my emotions with the hope that the world is good, sensitive, and empathetic.

Maybe, I am right - or, down right stupid - in thinking that the world is good, sensitive and empathetic. I, often, suffer because the world doesn't respond to my emotions the way I believe the world to. Often there is only a cold indifference, and often there is that remorseless bluntness. I feel let down, betrayed... and angry.

Some years ago, in a workshop on 'Handling Our Emotions', the facilitator demonstrated at the outset itself: "This is the dog," he showed with his hands. "And this is his tail," he showed wagging with hand. "As long as the dog wags the tail," (He showed with his hands)he said, "everything is fine." Then, he continued,"But, the moment the tail begins to wag the dog," (He showed us how funny that would look... moving his whole body!)... "our trouble would begin."

My emotions are my tail. It will take some years - and a hundred workshops - to make my tail stop what it does: wagging me!

As of now, I am able to smile looking at the funny way my tail wags me, all around!

With love,

GERALD D'CUNHA

OUT FROM MY HIDING

I just thought, today, that I should come out of my hiding. Almost six months... and not a single piece I have posted!

Many ask me - 'Why? What happened?"

I just tell them - 'Nothing. I 'consciously' chose not to write for some time... and allow myself to go through some new experiences.

They say, "A writer has to write; a singer has to sing; and teacher has to teach... and so it goes." I ask myself this question: "Am I a writer?"

I feel extremely happy, in fact, blissful and fulfilled, whenever I settle down to write. So, from that yardstick, I must say, that I am a writer... Whether I chose to write or not to write... inside my being there is this deep longing to write, express. Days, weeks, months - and even years - may go by... the soul of a writer would never dry out.

I have so much to say, so much to share... it can only become profound, and vast.

So, may the writer write... may the soul sing... may the happiness spread.

I am out of my hiding. I am here to do what I love doing: 'Express'... and yes, in all its hues... yes, everyday.

Need I go to the mountaintop to trumpet this news?

The Sun always rises in silence... and that's why it is so glorious!


With love,

GERALD D'CUNHA

Thursday, March 26, 2009

WHY DON'T WE TELL?

Raman, 40, will be celebrating the 'Silver Jubilee', this month. Twenty-five years ago, when he was 15, he had a showdown with his father. The communication between the father and son broke down that day. Staying under the same roof, they haven't spoken a word with each other, since then. So many have tried to broker peace, but in vain. The deadlock continues; the 'wall' still stands.

The best time to knock down this wall is even before its foundation is being laid. The decision to embark on an ego-trip is akin to the decision to ride on a tiger's back. Once you mount, you had better know that you are at the man-eater's mercy. Even though you don't like it, you continue to ride. To get off his back is to offer yourself for his lunch!

Ego-trip is a dangerous path. It is a path of 'no return'. No one has ever made it on this path... Never, ever. The best way to make it is never to venture into it in the first place. Leave the beast alone.

How important is peace to us? How dearly do we value the relationships in our life? What is more important to us: to be right, or to be happy and peaceful? What is more honourable: being adamant,rigid, and remain in an endless turmoil of confrontation, or being pliable, flexible, and experience simple joy and brotherhood?

The choice is always there before us. It doesn't take a great effort to make peace. It always takes a clear intention, the will of our soul. It comes from the deep, inner longing. The heart longs for it; the soul longs for it... Then, the mind simply surrenders to that longing. Ego is the play of mind. To love, to experience peace and healing, we need to heed to the voices of our hearts, our souls. It is always a childlike, innocent yearning. It is always simple and uncomplicated. All that we have to do is to say 'Yes' to this voice.

Peace eternally awaits us on the other side of the wall! When the wall comes down, we will realise, how stupid we had been all along... weaving all sorts of stories about the 'bizarre people' on the other side - hating them, condemning them, swearing to destroy them... When the wall comes down, we will realise how similar we all are - yes, the East Germans and the West Germans ... the citizens of the US and the USSR. Between the Twiddle Dee's and the Twiddle Dum's runs not only a river but also a wild human mind!

When the walls collapse, the men, women and children simply cry. Simply rejoice, celebrate.

We need to communicate our intention. We need to express our desire for peace and brotherhood. There is no other way to bring the wall down; no miracle is going to happen. The wall will come down, only when we 'will' for it. Raman will speak to his father - or the father to Raman - only when they 'will' for it, earnestly yearn for peace.

The story of the Hindi movie 'Shakti' is a moving testimony for this invisible wall called 'ego'. The ace storytellers - Salim-Javed - had scripted this story so brilliantly. How the upright father, Dilip Kumar, and the rebellious son, Amitabh Bachchan, love each other but suffer the hell-fire of a long ego trip... how, one moment, their hearts bring them so close to each other, and, then, how, the very next moment, their ego-soaked minds take them away, so far ... This is a remarkable saga of simple love being made complicated by lack of clear intention and communication. In the final scene, Amitabh, the son who had strayed away into the criminal path, is shot down by his father, Dilip Kumar, the uncompromisingly honest police officer. In this scene, the son dies in the arms of his father. Before the last breath goes out, the father keeps urging his son not to go away... but, the son keeps saying that it is not possible, that he has to. The father fervently reminds, for the last time, to his son:

"Son, I have always loved you."

The son asks: "Dad, then, why didn't you tell me that?"

One must be a rock not to melt, when the son dies with those words!

Yes, why don't we tell, that we love?

Raman, it is not too late, dear, to tell... or, even, to ask.


GERALD D'CUNHA

Monday, March 23, 2009

THE TEAM

He shines there like the pole star - dramatically distinct. He commands that place, because, no one else in the world has scored so many Test and ODI centuries ... No one else has scored that many runs. And, runs and centuries are still coming. The game is far from over. He is live and kicking... and, it seems, his best is yet to come!

This incredibly prolific run-machine, this enduring cricket legacy... Yes, he is what he is because he is an excellent 'team player'. He is Sachin - Sachin Tendulkar.

Yes, Sachin Tendulkar should not keep wickets, should not bowl too often, should not lead the Indian team. He should do what he can - and does - best: batting.

The best batsman may not necessarily be the best captain. Sachin couldn't prove himself to be a fine captain, when he had lead the Indian team. He has been, on and off, a successful bowler. But, the Team India can not count on him as the key bowler. The genius of Sachin lies in what he does exclusively his way: the batting.

This post is about being a team player... being a 'spoke in the wheel' in the real sense, and making that distinct contribution towards the movement of the wheel. Towards success.

The beauty of existence lies in the great variety that abounds around us. Each one of us is endowed with a strength and talent which is unique. That makes us special. Some of us can communicate well, and some of us can quietly work well from behind. Some of us can negotiate and strike a hard bargain, while some of us can mend the broken hearts. While some of us are designed to to be aggressive, some others are sent on this planet as peace makers. Life needs all of us. Every spoke holds the rim, helps the wheel of life to move smoothly. It is like a great recipe: every ingredient counts, the touch of every person - from the kitchen to the table - makes the difference. We all have to realise this truth. That, being a good team player means being the part of the match-winning process. No matter how good we are in our core domains, we need the complementary strengths of our team mates, our fellow-humans. Be it our offices, sports fields, homes or battle fields... The success lies in exploiting the best in each one of us. It lies in the great team spirit. Like great romance, it thrives on great chemistry.

So, let Tendulkar keep doing what he is best at - batting. Let Dhoni lead and keep wickets. Let Yuvi and Veeru go for big hits, and let Bhaji and Ishant fire from the bowler's end. The Team India needs all of them... as distinct as they are.

Let us not forget the role of the spot boys in the production team. Each spot boy is as significant as the King Khan. The spotlight and limelight, both, are related. Cricket, movies and life - all are related. That's why, the more I think about it, the more I get convinced:

That, Sachin Tendulkar and Shah Rukh Khan should do what they are blessed to do. And, I ,too. We all hold the wheel together, and we all are connected to the same centre: LIFE.

If my role on this planet is to be good to every one - so be it.



GERALD D'CUNHA

Friday, March 6, 2009

THE LOTUS

I just said, "Lotus," and, he reacted, "I know, I know."

I was surprised. I asked him, "You know, you know ... what?"

He replied, "Lotus is one of the most beautiful flowers, considered to be, even, sacred ... But, it is born and it lives in the muck, the ugliness."

He was right. I was about to say that. But, so old the analogy is, that he seemed, terribly bored and annoyed with it. "I know, I know," was his way of protesting any more 'bombardment'.

"Tell me, what you want to tell me about the Lotus," he had dropped his resistance, almost making me puzzled.

He was a wealthy young man. He had begun his pursuit of wealth when he was just a teen. "I want to become really rich, really very, very big." That was the resolve, that saw him to the other side of the sea. Now, in his mid-forties, the man has a dozen questions to ask. He asks them to people like me. Sometimes, our answers satisfy him. But, most of the times, they only leave him disturbed.

"Nothing is wrong with our wealth, our riches. Like King Janaka, we can be wealthy as well as noble. Lotus is great, because, it rises from the ugliness and stands gloriously 'above' it." ... I wanted to tell this to him. But, he had heard it so many times before, from so many 'gurus'. For a while, he was reluctant to hear the same old 'example' ... the same old muck.

But, he was there, the next moment, asking me to narrate the legendary 'Lotus Story'!

"I want my teenager son to study well; but, he doesn't want to study ... He wants to get into business, right away, he wants to do it big ... really, really big. Many years ago, I had decided to go on that route; and, now, my son wants to. Some how, I don't feel okay with this approach," the man told me.

My answers did not hold a key to his happiness and peace.

More than two-thousand years ago, a rich man had asked a similar question to Jesus:
"Master, I have obeyed all the commandments of God; tell me what else need I do to enter the kingdom of God?"

"Give up all your wealth and come with me," Jesus had answered.

Apparently, the wealthy man had expected a 'sensational answer' from the Master. When he heard this 'shocker', his heart sank, and he had walked away.

Referring to this man, Jesus had told the crowd, "It is as difficult for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God, as it is for a camel to enter the eye of a needle."

Our rich man has the same question, the same dilemma. "What else need I do?"

"Let your son enter the Kingdom he wants to ... till he comes to the 'narrow gate' you have come to," I advised. "You be the Lotus, you claimed 'I know, I know'."

In silence, the Lotus shone even more majestically!


GERALD D'CUNHA

JUST A HUG AWAY

Ashish, my friend, had posted a comment on my yesterday’s bolg – ‘I SEE NO ENEMY’. He had agreed with my views, and written: “Friendship is just a hug away …”

How true!

At the same time, how difficult!

Our egoes make it so difficult. The hug remains a complicated, a calculated ‘move’ … rather than just a spontaneous response of our hearts, a celebration. It is just like the first rain. It, almost always, pours out unannounced, spontaneously, making all of us so glad, so excited. Our response to it, too, is unannounced and spontaneous ... a simple outpouring of our hearts, a celebration. For that hear-felt moment, we all become little children, innocent. We come out and enjoy, get drenched so completely – never even for a while worrying about the consequences of doing so. We all celebrate the new rain.

Joy is as simple as this. As uncomplicated.

Spontaneity begets spontaneity. Love begets love. Hate begets hate.

Our hearts are heavy with the weight of our egoes. They are hardened. So, how can they hug?

I always think, that an ego trip is a ‘path of no- return’. No one has ever made it on this path. Never, ever. Proving something to someone can certainly give us a ‘high’ – a sadistic satisfaction of defeating someone. But, it is a ‘lost game’ … a lose-lose situation. As long as we are driven by our ego-intoxicated-minds, we are incapable of seeing this truth. We remain hell-bent in ‘winning’ by ‘defeating’ someone. Misunderstanding and enmity breed on this ground.

The only key is the ‘awareness’. The moment we realize the futility, and the danger, of this war path, we begin to lighten up, we begin to let go our rigidity. Ego is always a shadow; it cannot be there on its own. In the light of awareness, the shadow dissolves. We are, now, in a position to see the choice: TO BE RIGHT … OR, TO BE PEACEFUL!

Happiness and friendship are, always, our personal choices. And, they are, always, just a hug away.

I completely agree with Ashish, my friend.


GERALD D’CUNHA

THE GAUNTLET

Some things in life come to us naturally. One of them is blinking; blaming is another.

Today, just before leaving home, I had an intense argument with my wife. We were blaming each other, never letting the other person walk away with the great ‘blame’ trophy.

Any way, I had to walk out of the house, as I was getting late for work. By the time I reached here, the intensity had substantially come down... It had, almost, transcended into something sublime, something spiritual.

I thought, I should blink, I should laugh … and, I did.

When we were growing up, one of our favourite games was: 'Who will blink first?'. I had never won in this game. Never. Within seconds, I would blush, giggle and surrender. Henry, a neighborhood kid, was always a champion. I do not know, where he is today … Whether he is still a champion when it comes to a 'game' with his wife!

I am just curious.

Blaming is a psychological defense mechanism, which we build to protect ourselves from the ‘perceived’ attacks on our self-respect. No matter who we are – a parent or a child, a teacher or a student, a clergy or a devotee, or a police or a thief – we all have our own ‘perceived’ self-respect. The moment someone attacks us, we are ready with our counter attack, in order to defend our ‘honour’.

A husband and a wife are no exception!

They say, blinking is healthy. It is the sign that we are ‘okay’, normal …That, we are capable of laughing, crying, scaring, staring and, even, loving and deceiving. It is a protective shield. We are born with it.

And blaming?

How can that be different?

When some one throws before me something, even before my hands come out, my eyes blink. When some one throws before me the gauntlet, my mind has to jump – instinctively – to pick it up!

That is Nature’s law. I think, we should simply obey it!

When small, we did play the ‘Blinking Game’ and so thoroughly enjoyed it. It helped us to bond so very well. Today, when we have ‘grown up’, why shouldn’t we play this ‘adult’ game – ‘Blame Game’? Why shouldn’t we enjoy it thoroughly?

Yes, like in my case, now. See, how it has helped me to bond so very well!

Therefore, shall I declare: Blaming is the gate pass to spirituality?

Let me wait, till I reach home, tonight!


GERALD D’CUNHA

Thursday, March 5, 2009

'I SEE NO ENEMY"

"Hatred is its own punishment."

When I heard this statement first, many years ago - to be precise, when the Punjab terrorism was in the thick of things - I was not able to comprehend its meaning fully.

"How can hatred be its own punishment?" I still remember, asking.

The terrorists have struck, once again, in Pakistan. Yes, the victims are the innocent Sri Lankan players. And, the victor?

Why do I hate some people?

Because, some of them have hurt me, done injustice to me ... and, I do not approve that. Some of them are persistently doing that to me, and I am angry; I want to get back at them, take revenge... and this thought consumes me all the time ... makes me stressful, burdened... I am imprisoned, all the time, by my own mind, my own thinking. Before my hatred can get back at my enemy, my tormentor, before I can punish him, I am punished by my own thoughts of hatred. I am consumed by it. Tormented.

And, very often, there seems to be no genuine reason to hate any one. I hate him, because, my mind has been 'poisoned' by some cunning, manipulative men. I react, therefore, to a 'perceived' threat, to a 'perceived' enemy. And, then, let myself sucked into the hell-fire of self-destruction.

Every terrorist is a creation of this poisonous seed. And, in every man's soul, there dwells a terrorist!

Some years ago, I had a heated argument with a cousin of mine. Though I did not bear in my heart any grudge or ill will towards my cousin, we did not communicate with each other for all these years. I did not make a conscious effort to speak and sort things out, nor did she. The matter remained unresolved. Yesterday, I received the sad news of my aunt's - cousin's mother's - death. My aunt had been suffering for a long time in our hometown, and I was not in touch with them, I had not called them, enquired about her. So, yesterday, when I received the news of my aunt's demise, I, instantly, picked the phone and called my cousin to offer my condolences. Understandably, my cousin was sad and depressed. She thanked me for calling, and chose to keep the conversation very short.

I wasn't comfortable the way the conversation went. My mind did go back to the playback mode. We hadn't discussed the issue and we still had our misunderstanding simmering deep down ... at least, I had. So, my reaction, yesterday, stemmed from this position. After my phone discussion, I wasn't feeling right. I knew, I had to be more honest about my intention, my feelings, and my peace. Otherwise, this thought would consume me, keep me imprisoned.

Hatred is its own punishment. I am able to comprehend, now.

'BEN-HUR' is a powerful movie about hatred, revenge and, finally, the freedom from their vicious cycle. Judah Ben-Hur (Charlton Heston) is a wealthy Jewish merchant. Tribune Messala (Stephen Boyd), the Roman General, is Judah’s close friend. Messala has been entrusted by Caesar the task of quelling the Jewish up rise against the Roman Leadership and he seeks the help from his good friend Judah in this regard. Messala is very hopeful. However, when Judah vehemently refuses to betray his own people, the story of their friendship assumes its most crucial turn. The friends turn foes ...Soon, on a silly pretext, Messala gets Judah, his mother and sister arrested and throws them into the prison. Judah, after a while escapes, and spends rest of his life with thoughts of rage, hatred and revenge. He is informed that his mother and sister have been killed by Messala and he seethes with revengeful thoughts. It is during this period, he meets a wealthy Arab, who prepares Judah for the upcoming Chariot race against the formidable Messala. For Judah, it is the only opportunity to take his revenge and feel liberated.

The day comes. When Messala sees Judah in the arena, he is rudely surprised. The race begins, and Messala, through his villainous means, goes on to destroy one racer after another ... till, finally, he is left with the strong man Judah. The ruthless Messala goes all out to demolish his friend-turned-foe through his nefarious tactic. But, Judah turns the table on him, when the monster Messala is thrown out of the chariot and dragged along brutally through the stadium. Thousands of Judah’s supporters shout rapturously, as Governor Pontius Pilate watches the plight of the devastated Roman hero, helplessly. The race ends; Messala, disfigured and almost dead, is carried away; Judah Ben-Hur is crowned.

The very next scene can take our breath away! So powerful it is: a battery of doctors attends to the mutilated Messala, and there - they bring Judah, all tied in chains. The immediate, and instinctive, response of Messala is to get up, and get back at his enemy. But, his body - all torn apart - betrays him. Only his mind - consumed with hatred and revenge - thirsts for revenge; it wants to prove. The doctors and attendants try to calm him down, tie him to his bed.

"I see no enemy." These are Judah's words, as the final breath goes out of Messala. Before the end came, the remorseless Roman has, sadistically, revealed to Judah the wicked fact that his mother and sister are not dead ... but, are 'living dead' in the cursed lepers' valley. For Judah, this is a cruel blow; it is unbearable. But, by now, he is a changed man. He has been touched by Christ. He has been healed.

"The game goes to Judah," these are Messala's final words. He has realised: he has not been destroyed by Judah Ben-Hur. But, by his own hatred. When Judah says, "I see no enemy," - it is clear to Messala, that Judah has not only defeated him in a Chariot race, but also in a race called - 'HATRED AND REVENGE'.

To win this race, we need a different strength. GRACE!

Yes, I can comprehend now, the meaning of that statement: "Hatred is its own punishment."


GERALD D'CUNHA

Saturday, February 28, 2009

THE PASSION

The period of forty days before the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ is referred to as the Lent. To me, this is a very important time. It is the time to get inspired in life.

Christ barely lived for thirty-three years. But, what an incredible life that had been! He lived with such passion, that the end of His life is termed as 'the passion of the Christ'.

Swami Vivekananda, another hero of mine, too, died in his thirties. But, what a life that had been! What a legacy! Rarely, in history, a religious monk - a young monk - has evoked such respect, and such awe. Like Jesus Christ, Swamiji lived with passion, with completeness.

Here is my third hero - the remarkable Martin Luther King Jr. This American Civil Rights leader, too, died in his thirties. But, not before leaving behind such imprints, that wouldn't disappear for generations to come. This King was a Negro, condemned and humiliated as a 'nigger'. But, by the time his life ended, he had inspired millions, the world over, including the mighty heads of states - the Kings. Just one word is sufficient to describe this dynamic man's life ..., and, that is - once again - 'Passion'.

So, every time, the Lent comes, I remember my three mighty heroes ... their eventful lives, their purpose and passion ... and I get charged. To me, thus, the Lent is the time to get recharged, to commit myself, once again, in life. I need these icons to keep me going. I need the touch of their shadow!

I am 50. And, I know it is never the length of your life that is the yardstick, but the kind of your involvement in it!


GERALD D'CUNHA

THE GODSEND

It is widely believed - and, even proven - that, a teacher can not teach his or her own child. I have been a teacher for nearly three decades. And, with all my modesty, I believe, I have been a very efficient one in that.

Still, when it came to my own son - who is about to face his tenth standard ICSE Board exam in a few days - I found myself helpless. Nor could my wife break this resistance. It was evident, that the prophecy about a teacher's son was all set to be fulfilled!

Our son is multi-talented. He is a gifted child. We are extremely proud of him. He is good in sports; he plays guitar, and has a great taste for music; he is a genius when it comes to art; he reads a lot and loves to argue his points to the logical end; he has a remarkable hold on his language and he can express amazingly well in his writings ... His Principal and teachers praise him; his friends' parents, too.

As parents, what more could we ask for?

I think, both, my wife and I, had only one demand. We wanted him to develop an effective work culture, so that he could sail through his crucial exams with less stress. Some how, we failed to prevail upon him, in spite of all our love, persuasion, firmness, and even threats. He went by his own rhythm, at his own pace ... scoring low marks in his prelims and bringing us close to the edge.

Maths was his huge weakness. He kept avoiding it like plague, and we kept reminding him about it. Whenever we offered to help him, he would only say, "Not now."

"If not now, when?" we would voice our frustration.

We had enrolled him in one of the best coaching classes. But, all that had gone for a toss, and our son was there - standing on the ground zero. "Do you want us to arrange for some personal tutor?" we would ask. "I will tell you; relax," he would respond.

Of all the things in the world, "Relax"!

Our son is intelligent. He went by his own rhythm ... all along avoiding his nightmare subject - Maths. We remained anxious. But, I had this hunch: that something miraculous would happen and our good child would find help to dissolve his mental block. And, it happened just a week ago. All out of the blue, a retired and a very efficient teacher came on the scene. Mrs. Rukmini, was my colleague about thirty years ago. She wasn't married then, and we called her Chari miss. Today, at 68, she still has that child-like innocence and enthusiasm when it comes to teaching subjects like maths and physics. Yes, that is - after teaching for 47 years, and after her retirement! Teaching gives her immense joy and satisfaction. Her world is centered around her extended family of students, whom she teaches in few groups at her residence.

When my wife approached her for our son, she had already sent off her other students. So, our son caught his flight, when others had landed!

And, what a marvelous joyride it was destined to be! It was, in deed, a flight of fantasy.

A good teacher is one - who inspires thirst in a reluctant student. I have done that in my thirty-year teaching umpteen number of times. When parents come back to tell me about the turnaround, it leaves me with goose pimples. That joy is all worth it; it is bliss. It is the mark of a good life, lived with all zest and passion. I am moved to tears, every time that feeling runs through my being and overwhelms me.

Today, the role has changed, I can imagine the kind of satisfaction and joy a teacher like Mrs. Rukmini must be experiencing. Our gratitude for her oozes out of our being... It is her time, now, to experience those tears of joy. That lump in the throat.

As teachers, we sow good seeds. We touch lives. We transform difficult, young children. My hunch has, always, been inspired by this truth. I have, always, trusted in the universal law of 'good karma'. "What goes around, comes around," ... I have never given up on this law.

The lump in my throat and the goose pimples all over my body - as I am writing this - is a live testimony to this.

Thank you ma'am.



GERALD D'CUNHA

Friday, February 27, 2009

GOODNESS SPREADS

When we stand close to some people, we feel repelled. When they open their mouths, it sucks! So toxic they are. In every body's life, there are at least a few such people.

On the other side of the spectrum, there are some people, in whose presence, we feel extremely good. They don't even have to open their mouths. Their mere presence is enough. It wears an aura of goodness ... and, it just spreads. Needless to say, in life, all of us have at least a handful of such souls.

Today, I felt like asking myself: Where do I belong in other people's life? Am I repulsive and toxic? Or, am I gentle and good?

The feeling is a very strong one. The question haunts me.

I just felt like sharing this feeling.


GERALD D'CUNHA

THE AWARDS

A man is given an award - the Oscar, the Nobel or whatever - only by another man. Maybe, by a group of men. But, certainly, not by God!

I am a great fan of A.R. Rehman. When he received so many international awards, particularly the Oscars, for his music for the movie - "SLUM DOG MILLIONAIRE', I was hugely thrilled. The movie won, in all, eight Oscars. Yes, like every Indian, I, too, shouted in joy - "Jay Ho!"

But, then, I know it is not such a great music or a film that it is hyped up to be. The Oscar committee is, certainly, unaware of the incredible work of A.R. Rehman. It also doesn't know about the fine movies India comes out with time to time. I liked the movie 'SDM'. But, I did not come out of the theatre the way I came out after watching 'Lagaan', 'TZP' or the 'Munnabai' movies. I seriously feel these movies deserved recognition from international body.

However, an award is only an award - some people's opinion. It only reflects their judgement. Eight Oscars won't make 'SDM' a great movie for me. I will still bear in my heart the same opinion about it.

Mahatma Gandhi never won the Nobel Prize for peace. It shall eternally remain as one of the great mysteries of the 'award business'!

Gandhi never needed a Nobel to make him whatever he was. And, I don't' think A.R. Rehman needs it, either. Their work is above these 'little' awards ... no matter how much glitter surrounds these awards.

Because, I seriously feel an award is as great as a man's judgement.

I have never agreed - in fact, been angry - whenever those umpires had 'awarded' LBW to another hero of mine - Sachin Tendulkar. And, you know how often ... and, how, unfairly!

So, let all those Oscars be only that - an opinion. A judgement.

Jay Ho!


GERALD D'CUNHA

THE FLOW OF THE RIVER

"Why has the flow of the river suddenly stopped?"

I posted my last blog on 2nd Feb. It is almost a month now. My friends ask me the question: "Why has the flow of the river suddenly stopped?"

Life is like a river. Its job is to flow; no one can stop it from doing so. And, if any one attempts to do so, it finds a new way to flow, a new direction. But, the essential thing is the 'source'. A river always has a source; it flows 'out' of it. It is only when the source itself dries up, that the river stops flowing.

I am still connected to my source; I am still flowing.

During these 'dry days', I was busy producing a small book for our Housing Society. I had titled it as: 'THE CHOICE... WITH A HEALING TOUCH'. It is a book of about twenty-eight pages. I poured my soul into it. Yes, the river did flow ... only in a different direction, for a while.

The book opens with this passage:

"What applies to an individual,
Also applies to a Society;
What applies to a Society,
Also applies to a Nation,
Applies to the Universe."

'MAN IS THE CREATOR
OF HIS OWN UNIVERSE.'

Is that not true?

Some of us are very keen to bring back sanity, unity and harmony in our housing Society. The process is frustrating. People are different; they perceive and react to situations differently. They get influenced by false propaganda, they accuse baselessly, they play mind games, petty politics ... and, they go on long ego-trips ... They sit on the judgement seat and condemn others ... And, when all this happens, it is but natural to give up your efforts, become pessimistic, bitter and cynical. Highly sensitive people like me, normally stay away from such work. My skin is too thin to bear the brunt of thanklessness.

I am clear about this: I do not wish to get sucked into the never-ending cesspool of Society politics. I will try my best, with some like-minded members, to work for sanity, unity and harmony. If our efforts succeed, well and fine. If they don't, we will - at least I will - feel that I have done my best.

And that is about it.

Just towards the end of this book, I have written this passage:

"It is such a pity -
that, we do everything else on this earth,
except - the LIVING!

Life is too short for keeping all our score cards ...
Who knows, whether we will see 'tomorrow's Sun?

And, most certainly, the Sun will rise
from the East, tomorrow,
at the appointed time ...
Yes, without any of us around!"

'PLEASE, FOR GOD'S SAKE,
SAY A HEARTY 'HELLO' ...
PLEASE SAY - 'IT IS ALL RIGHT'."

I am aware of my limitations as much as I am aware of my strengths. Some people do not change, some situations frustrate us, some people always remain insecure and toxic, while some secure and graceful. I am aware of the 'imperfect' world I live in. I am aware of the conflict and disharmony within me ...

That's why, probably, I scribbled these final words:

"Please pause here and reflect ...
Harmony can spring only from silence."

I do not know, what will happen to my Society. But, I know what will happen to me:

I will not cease to flow in harmony with my source.

I will not lose my sanity trying to make a cat bark.



GERALD D'CUNHA

Monday, February 2, 2009

THE PING-PONG-BALL EXPERIMENT

You might have heard about this experiment, this story. I hadn't.

Last night, while having our dinner at a restaurant, a friend of mine narrated it to me. And, I was not only fascinated, but also felt unburdened. Inspired.

It seems, some laid-back fellow, or a restless kindergarten kid, one day, just decided to try this experiment. No one exactly knows, who it really was. Well, that's immaterial. What is worth noting, is the way this lazy, crazy idea caught on the imagination of the world ... For a whole two months, till the experiment concluded. This was how it was carried out.

This laid-back scientist, or the kid, would throw a tiny, frail Ping Pong ball into the Lake Victoria, the birthplace of river Nile - the longest river in the world. The quest is to find out whether this tiny, delicate stuff could survive the cruelest test: of making it to the other end, the capital city of Egypt, Cairo - about four-thousand miles down on the North. And, if it could, how long it would take for the little ball to conclude the expedition ... and, very importantly, to chronicle this saga of survival against all the imaginable tests and challenges. May be to learn something from all this. Just may be.

Maybe, because, lazy fellows and learning are two odd balls!

It took two months for the little Ping Pong to complete the expedition. It had to survive the hardest of the hardest rocks and boulders; it had to escape from being getting swallowed by the deadliest papyrus reeds that threatened from the sides of river; the little frail thing had to survive at least nine merciless waterfalls; then, there were the tests of the harsh weather, the lonely nights, the hunger, the fear and despondency ... The little fellow had to pass all these endurance-tests ... before emerging as a winner.

And, some one reported this experiment to a TV station ... Rest is a fascinating story of how the world sat glued to the idiot box, to check the progress of the Pygmy sailor ... The helicopters hovered over him to capture his gutsy journey, the TV stations showed the exact location he had made it to on a particular day, and at a particular time ... The elderly, young and the kids would debate on him. "Would he survive?" ... "What if?" ...

Finally, on 31st December, 1999, when the battered-but-not-beaten Ping Pong landed in Cairo, the world received him with hurrahs and hosannas. A little kindergarten kid lifted him to the delightedly tearful eyes of the world!

The small, frail Ping Pong ball had survived! He was the winner ... one who never gave up!

He had ascended up majestically with the gigantic waves, and descended down gracefully with the steep falls; he had valiantly bounced back after each cruel blow, and cleverly maneuvered out of every harsh tentacle. He had rolled on and on like a baby, and floated on and on like a butterfly ... And, in the end, he had stood out - there, under the spotlight - like a real, heavyweight champion!

This was the great Ping-Pong-Ball experiment. The story my friend narrated to me over the dinner, last night. I was as fascinated, and as glued, as the world had been when the little hero had compelled the world to sit up, and take notice of him.

"Just a small hole, a dent, would have destroyed all his chances," my friend explained to me. "Remember, just a tiny opening."

He was telling me this story - to dispel my gloom, to inspire me to survive ... against all my tests, and all my odds. "Success and dignified living is all about being pliable ... and making ourselves invulnerable to the so called harsh tests of life - the rocks and boulders, the waves and waterfalls, the reeds and loneliness ... Yes, it is about flowing down our rivers - our four-thousand-miles-long voyages - like a frail, little Ping Pong ...

And, yes, all along, not letting ourselves to be bogged down - by any thing, any one, any time ... Never!

Ever!


GERALD D'CUNHA

Saturday, January 31, 2009

WELL, WE ALL HAVE TO ...

Ramesh has many Gods ... I am one of them!

For some of his problems, he prays to me.

Last night, when I saw his name, on my cell-phone screen, I knew, he wanted my 'Divine powers' to solve his new problem.

"Yes, Ramesh, tell me - what's up?" I came to the point.

"Nothing is up sir, everything is down," he complained.

"What is that? Tell me," I encouraged him gently.

"I need to talk to you in person," he informed, with a slight hesitation.

"Al right, how about tomorrow, at six in the evening?" I asked.

"That's fine," he agreed. Then, as I was about to keep the receiver down, he couldn't wait for another day to ask this:

"Sir, I become very angry these days? What to do?"

"Simple," I told him, "Just wait till six in the evening tomorrow."

He got the message, and managed to transmit a nervous laughter.

Imagine my plight. When he had called me, I was consumed by a very disturbing rage within myself. Something was nagging me so much, that it had reached the boiling point. I was finding it difficult to to deal with it ... My confidence was low, I was feeling depressed and bitter. Though I knew, that it would pass off eventually, at that point, I was acutely feeling the helplessness, and the isolation. "What to do?" I was wondering.

And, the answer came in the form of a phone call. Of all the souls on this earth, it came from Ramesh!

Let me tell you, I just laughed, and that's the end of my own rage, last evening. The lid was off the pressure cooker!

I am going to tell this story to Ramesh, today, when he is going to come. I do not know, whether it will help him rid off his own lid. Anyway, I have asked him to 'hold on' - 'Count ten' ... a ten million times - till this evening. That may help, perhaps!

Problems. It is another name of Life. We all know this. We know, that it is impossible to live life free from the problems. We know, that growth in life - physical, financial, intellectual, emotional and spiritual - is directly related to the way we deal with our 'personal' problems, our challenges. We know, we can not by-pass this route. Still, like a dog chasing its own tail, we run round and round and round. Yes, hoping that we can 'get' the tail ... or, 'get rid' of it!

Ramesh wants to get rid of his anger. He has come to me, his God, for that!

And, the God has his own anger ... and he prays to his own Gods!

For the last two days, my friend, Giri - after watching a Steven Seagal movie - has been bugging me to fit the dialogue he hugely liked in the movie. The strong man Seagal is threatened to be killed by his enemy. Unfazed by the threat, our hero lets his enemy know this:

"We all have to go one day.
The important question is:
Whether we go standing proudly on our feet,
Or, crawling on our knees."

What you think, dear Ramesh, we - you and me - should do?


GERALD D'CUNHA

Thursday, January 29, 2009

WHEN THE BLAME-GAME ENDS

He claims: "Something is wrong with her."

She claims: "Something is wrong with him."

They both want some one to 'fix' their partner.

"Why do you want me for that?" their counselor yells at them. "A carpenter can do it for you."

Today, Suchitra spent at least an hour in my office talking about her 'problem': Her husband.

He smokes. He drinks. He spends a lot of time with his friends, and less with her. He hardly talks with her. He listens more to his mother and sisters and hardly to her. He doesn't want her to talk much to her own parents. He doesn't bring her gifts. He doesn't take her out. He gives only Rs. 500 every month as pocket money. Their first baby girl is born, and she thinks he will be irresponsible.

And, obviously, Suchitra doesn't like any of them. She has kept telling him about that, and he doesn't listen.

She has gone crazy, mad.

"I can't live with that guy, unless he changes," Suchitra announces. "He has no respect for my feelings ... It is like living with a stranger, who doesn't' care."

"So, what have you decided?"

"I want my daughter's life to be secure. I want to open an account and start depositing small amounts for her future ... and, I don't want that fellow to know about it."

"Why?"

"Because, he will blow that money, too. All that they know is 'Kao, piyo aur maja karo ... Eat, drink and make merry."

"How much do you want to save every month?"

"Maybe, two or three hundred."

"And, you think your daughter's future will be secure; don't you?"

"She is just a little baby; if I start now, money will grow substantially when she will be ready for her marriage."

"And, what if she gets a 'fellow' like her father?"

Silence!

"What if, Suchitra?"

"I don't know."

"When did you last say something nice to your husband?"

Silence!

"Tell me, when?"

"I don't remember."

"And, something nasty?"

Silence!

"Don't remember?"

"All the time."

"And, you want him to change? Will you be able to see his 'little' changes ... if your mind is so obsessed about his flaws? Do you expect a comet to appear, the Heavens to announce, the earth to tremble ... when the change comes in him?"

"But, he should change."

"And, what about you, Suchitra? You don't have to?"

Silence!

"Okay, tell me this: What kind of relationship do you want, what kind of marriage, what kind of man? You define and visualise that first. Just like what kind of money you want after twenty years from now ... You decide, what YOU can do to achieve it. Yes, from your end. Take your little baby-steps towards this goal. Like, for a starter - be more tolerant, more patient; have faith, trust. Be generous is your compliments, and stingy in your criticism ... Make things that he likes to eat, say things that he likes to hear ... and, all the time, sincerely trusting in the process of your own change ..."

"But ..."

"But what? Which way is more empowering, less stressful? Is there is guarantee that by indulging in frequent showdowns, you can achieve your objective? If not, go this way ... Even if he doesn't change, you will not ruin your own soul - that's for sure."

Silence!

"No man has ever changed just because his wife had nagged him. Never. No man - even the worst of the species - likes to be reminded, over and over again, about his 'sins' by his wife. He has changed, if at all by any thing, in times of his own tenderness, when all his guards were down. When he was least defensive."

Silence!

"Suchitra, if you are really honest about it, if you truly, truly desire it, then you will find the necessary strength to make these little changes - these little deposits ... You will reach your destination."

Tears. Silence.

"Every one knows that the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, at a time. What no one knows - rather, he fails to realise - is that with one step forward, if you take three steps backward ... it will take you to a land known as 'NOWHERE LAND'!"

More tears. More silence.

"Now, go in peace. The comet is looming large in the sky."



GERALD D'CUNHA

THE GOUND BENEATH YOUR FEET

A chill passed through my bones, early this morning. I read the terrible report on the newspaper: A man in California had shot his young wife, five little children and finally himself. The reason: He and his wife, both, had been fired by their employer!

The ground beneath their feet had, suddenly, opened ... and, he did not know how to save his family. By killing all of them, he saved themselves from the situation.

Or, that's what he thought he was doing, when fear took over his mind.

I met Mohit, a smart young man, on my way to work. Dressed in an impeccably fine attire, this fresh MBA graduate was on his way to his office. It was his first day!
We spoke about several issues in our brief encounter, including the tragic episode in the US. Mohit, too, had read it before he had left home.

"The problem with the American society is that they live on credit line ... Their lifestyle depends on it," Mohit told me. "In India, we have a conservative lifestyle, a good saving culture, a very fine family network ... We may not crumble so easily."

"True," I agreed with Mohit. "Only fear I am having is that, such lifestyle has already made roadways here. Malls, multiplexes, clubs, luxury holidays ... I don't think a conservative society can thrive along with these. If you get a complex when you drive your car within a year or so of its acquisition, if you are desperate to replace your cellphone, Laptop, TV with the 'latest' ones - even though the existing ones are good enough to take care of your needs - I think, it is a sign that the 'trouble' has pitched his tent here, already."

"The world has become a global village, today, sir," Mohit said, "We cannot isolate ourselves from the sweeping changes that take place all around us. All that we should remember is that we should not get carried away by the social glitter; we should keep our roots strong."

"You have conveyed it so beautifully, Mohit," I said, as we parted our ways. "Wish you all the best in your career," I added.

I was happy to note that a young man, just out from his college campus, was able to grasp the situation with such maturity.

Life situations shape us for the better or for the worse. They constantly throw before us the challenges, constantly test us, and make us realise - that, living with dignity calls for making our constant choices ... When we make the wrong ones, learn from our mistakes, make amends, and move on ...

It is about thirty years, since I first read Dr. Robert Schuller's inspiring book - 'Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do'. Tough times have come and gone in my own life, I have survived. Tough times still stare at me, even today, as I write this piece - and I know that like a hurricane, they will go back ... I will survive.

If needed, I will bend. If needed, I will strike. I will be 'prepared' all my life. As our former President had conveyed this lesson in such a poetic message:

"All your life, be prepared.
If you are an anvil, bear;
If you are a hammer, strike."

Is it not, then, the secret that can save us when the ground beneath our feet opens?

Perhaps, to discover and deploy this secret, we need one more thing: GRACE!



GERALD D'CUNHA

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

TO VIEW FROM A NEW WINDOW

That is difficult.

I am so used to viewing everything - viewing the world around me - from the windows I am already used to, the windows opened for me by 'others' ...

So, to open a new window, means I am 'aware' ... That, to genuinely appreciate anything in life, or any one for that matter, I need to view them with my new eyes, I need to open a new window ... Re write the whole programme on a fresh, blank CD.

Last night, I watched 'Slumdog Millionaire' with my family, and loved it immensely.

For almost a fortnight, we heard the heated debate so much, that it was very difficult to see the movie with new eyes. The mind had been influenced by the critics, film makers, actors respected journalists - yes, from a tycoon to a slum dog, every body had tried to 'comment' about the movie.

"Just forget about the debate - 'us' Vs. 'them', and simply enjoy the pure cinematic experience ..." a critic had written. "Don't watch 'Slumdog ...'. It sucks." This was the big mouth of Arindam Chaudhary shooting. "Awesome," this was Lorraine, my student. "Bloody Indian s..t! Now the world can see it on a big screen ... You know, all those 'Oscars' are for this s..t!" My friend Reddy was disgusted by the 's..t' scene in the movie. "Ratings make no sense for this movie ... You will anyway watch it ..." another critic had concluded with his two-and-a-half-or-so rating.

So, by the time, we had landed up in the multiplex, a hundred screens were already operating. It was hugely difficult to watch this movie from a fresh perspective, without being influenced by what others - both whom you respect or detest - had been saying.

And, surprisingly, all three of us left the theatre with the same feeling: It was a good movie. A simple story, brilliantly told on the big screen. For us, there wasn't a single dull moment. For us, it was a simple story set in our city's slums ... wrapped in all the hues that envelop the human dream.

I, a sentimental fool, could connect to this simple dream. My hardcore, pragmatic wife, too, could. My discretely choosy son, too. We all experienced the same tears and smile, same anxiety and jubilation. Nothing 'sucked' us; 'Oscars', did not matter for us ... There was a simple story - a Cinderella story - and it kept us glued.

Such moments are rare.

If we enter the cinema hall, already hoping to watch a dud show, what will we end up watching?

It can't be any thing other than what we had 'hoped' and 'wanted' to watch.

Some times, a fresh window just opens for us. I said, 'some times'. Most of the times, we watch the 'show' from the same old windows, with the very same eyes ... that we hardly find any thing worthwhile to appreciate ...

It happened just this morning.

We had returned late at 1.30 a.m. from the 'Slumdog ...' show. I used to wake up at five everyday for the past one or two months. I lacked good sleep. So, this morning I had decided to wake up late, and leave late for my work. At 9.30, when I reached our colony gate, there was only one auto waiting, and I got into it. Just a little distance behind me a lady and her young son were pacing up towards the gate. Normally, I call out to even a stranger and offer a lift. This time, I simply ignored them, leaving them behind to wait!

Why did I do that? It is very unusual - and unlikely - to happen in my case. Yes, but it happened. I simply 'ignored' them, almost cold-bloodedly, and proceeded.

Why?

Because, she had done the same thing to me, a couple of times, before!

I reacted from that level. I viewed it from that 'window' ...

And, I think, that was the 'Question' ... and that was the 'Answer'!



GERALD D'CUNHA

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

THE WET HENS

When they were sitting here before me, I thought I was watching the latest SRK movie - 'Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi'.

They were parents, and they had come to my office with their 17-year-old daughter for her admission. He seemed to have hailed from Mars - was desperately shy and avoided eye contact as he spoke. In fact, he hardly spoke. She seemed to be a direct descendant of Venus - out going and out spoken. That tells as to why she did all the talking.

The daughter was cast in her papa's mould. She sat there just like a wet hen.

After the admission formalities got over, we started talking about other things. The mother seemed very concerned about her young daughter's shy and withdrawn nature. "She should talk; should mix up," the mother told me looking at her quiet daughter.

It was our first meeting, and I did not know them well. "She is fine ... a bright girl," I responded looking warmly towards our young girl.

"She is smart in every respect, sir; but, I want her to be bold as well ... She should not be shy; she should express," the mother clarified.

"I am sure, she will learn to 'express' her self effectively, soon," I expressed my hope, "She will bloom into a beautiful flower in her own garden." I gave a pat on the blushing young one.

"Hope so," the mother said, as she lead her husband and daughter back home.

Strange people meet in life. They become couples. Their children, too, turn out to be strange - some like their fathers, some like their mothers. Some shy and withdrawn, some expressive and bold.

My father was a born extrovert. Though he hadn't schooled much, he possessed with him a raw talent for singing. He loved to sing where ever there was a social gathering, and he did it with all his gusto. My mother was shy and an introvert.
On the other hand, my grand father - father's father - was a chronic loner. He was so shy, that he would disappear, all of a sudden, whenever a priest or a nun was scheduled to pay a house visit. He was a pious man; still, he would never go to the local priest for his confessions; he would pilgrimage, all the way, to some remote church, where the priest wouldn't recognise him! And, his wife - my grand mother? Oh, boy! She was a true-blue, gregarious woman. She loved to sing, dance, talk, argue and she had lots and lots of friends.

I have inherited the genes from my grand father. I am a shy person ... a desperate one in that!

"You are shy?" They, often, ask the live-wire SRK, in disbelief.

"Yes, I am," the Super Star confirms. "More than 80% of whatever I do or perform on stage, screen or in public - comes straight from my shyness ... I dread to walk alone to a shopping mall; I take my son along to make me feel okay," he said in a recent interview.

The formidable Amitabh Bachchan has announced this from every imaginable platform. Minus his nervousness and shyness, he is a dead actor, he believes.

And, I vouch for it.

Minus my nervousness and shyness, I wouldn't have started something wonderful like 'The Dawn Club'. I wouldn't have become that voracious reader, that passionate speaker and writer - even teacher.

I wouldn't have been writing this piece, these daily blog articles.

Like SRK, I, too, strongly believe, that whatever worthwhile work I am doing - that which gives me tremendous amount of fulfilment - stems from my shyness. I am grateful to God for making me shy like my mom, my grand father ...

But, wait. I am even more grateful to Him - for giving me the wisdom to 'understand' - and 'channelise' this 'energy' of mine. Yes, for something fruitful.

My mother never dreamt that I 'should' sing like my father. For, she herself couldn't. But, my younger brother, Rony, became a very popular singer. And, no ... my father never dreamt about him, either.

We all blossomed in our own 'private' gardens. And, we know, one day, our children, too, would.

And, I hope, the mother of my student, too, one day, will have in their garden a flower - as fragrant and distinct as the one God had, specially, planted in His Eden Garden.

This is my pat for the mother.


GERALD D'CUNHA

Monday, January 19, 2009

THE DEAF AND DUMB

It is the fifth day today. And, she has still not turned up to her shop.

Five days ago, at nine in the night, I heard a huge commotion just out side my office. At the heart of the commotion stood two ladies, in their early thirties. They were yelling and accusing each other. A dozen small children watched the battle from the ringside.

The cause of the war:

The more sophisticated lady, a mother of two preteens, had accused - and whacked - the teenager son of the less-sophisticated other lady, the lady who ran a shop with her brother. Now, the second lady and her brother were up-in-arm against the other lady. "How dare you accuse my son?" this lady shouted. "It is the third time you have man-handled my son."

"Yes, I have. Because, he is a liar, a bully. He did his mischief for the third time, today," yelled back the other lady, the sophisticated one.

By now, a couple of her friends had come down to join the sophisticated lady.

"Did you see my son doing the mischief?" screamed the shop lady. "YOU are the liars; YOU are the bullies," attacked the brother.

"You idiot, mind your language. You have no right to talk to me like that," warned the cultured lady, pointing her finger like a sharp knife.

"And, what right you got to beat our child, insult him in front of other children?" asked both the sister and the brother who ran the shop.

"Insult? If he dares to do it, again, I will break his head, mind you," the unrelenting lady served the ultimatum.

I went to broker peace.

"Madam, can you solve the problem like this?" I asked the shop lady. "Please go inside," I told her agitated brother.

"First tell her to apologise to my son, then we will go inside," I was told.

"You fools, apologise? Where is he, I will do that with a thrashing?" the studied lady mocked.

"Now, ma'am, if you don't end it here, you are going to invite trouble for both of you. Please don't drag this matter far; don't further provoke," I advised.

"They are slum people; they don't know how to talk," the cultured lady threw down her gauntlet before her enemies.

Both brother and sister picked it up, right away, and went charging to the lady who had called them 'slum dogs' ...

I sensed trouble; and did not want to be a part of it. Quickly, I retreated to my office, and closed the door. Before the door closed, a resident told me, "Why should we involve, if they do not want a solution?"

That really made sense.

I did not bother to know what happened after that.

About half-an-hour later, I heard a bigger commotion, and peeped out. A police van had come, and the cops were shouting at the two parties, "Chalo baito; jo bolna hai, police station mein bolo."

By now, the shop people were joined by their one more brother and sister, while the sophisticated lady, besides her many lady friends, was joined by her husband. All had to rush to the spot, either from their offices or from their shops ... leaving behind their work.

I quietly closed my office, and went home.

The problem was not mine. And, no one wanted my solution, either.

The next day, some one told me, that after I had failed to broker peace between the two ladies, the cultured one had slapped hard the shop lady. And, before the men could exchange the blows, the blue van had come to take them all!

Now, the police cases have been slapped against each other. None of the sides is repenting. If at all there is any change, it is: they have become more hardened ... "to show each other".

Just yesterday, I bumped into the shop lady and her brother on my way. The lady's face still stood swollen, and she still looked agitated. "See sir, what that b...h has done to me," she showed me her face. "I am a divorcee; I am suffering from depression ... they very well know it. I had under gone an operation, they know it ... My son is helpless, they know it ... " she was going on and on.

"But, ma'am, what was basic problem, that started it all?" I asked, innocently.

And, I really did not know about it. The 'mischief'.

"She was lying, that my son had punctured her son's cycle ... and for the third time," she informed.

"Oh! I see." I sympathised.

All that we remember about the Great Second World War is: 'The Atom Bomb'! ...
and, that funny, little fellow called 'Hitler'!

Any body remembers any thing else?

Today, the 'mischief monger' was happily playing with all the other children, his friends. Suddenly, like a bolt from the blue sky, came this missile:

"Preetam, did I tell you not to play with that idiot? Come home, right now."

The war was far from over!



GERALD D'CUNHA