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Showing posts from January, 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 m…

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 an…

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 cult…

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 'Slum…

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,…

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 …

I NEED THE WORLD

The world doesn't need me; I need the world.

I was talking to Rekha yesterday. She teaches in a reputed Management college, and she has been a very popular faculty among the students. She has made a conscious effort to go beyond the text books, organise special sessions and camps for their self-development as well, she has kept in touch with several of her ex-students through e-mails and her blog. They look up to her, seek her advice. And, for Rekha, helping her students like that comes naturally. That's her second skin.

"Many call me to be a training faculty, particularly for the corporate training," Rekha told me yesterday. "They try to lure me with good money; but, I tell them that I am not interested. It hurts them, and they even think I am crazy."

Rekha, like most of us, began with the same 'search' -"How to make it 'there'?" And, like most of us, when she made it there, she found it was all a mirage. She would always 'miss&#…

HIGH NET-WORTH INDIVIDUALS

Mrs. Singh has two sons. The elder one does engineering, and the younger, first-year BMS. The two sons are as different as the two poles of our globe.

Being a simple and a typical hard-working woman, Mrs. Singh had been trying desperately to inculcate in her two sons the value of hard work and money. With her 'hard-working', first son, she has succeeded. With her 'easy-going', second son, she has failed. The first one saves, the second one spends. The mother wonders ...

Yesterday, she narrated to me this story - the 'Ghar Ghar Ki Kahani'.

All these years, they did not have a credit card. Surprisingly, none. Now, for certain reasons, Mrs. Singh wanted to apply for one, and the sales representative from a very reputed credit card company had come. He asked for her latest mobile bill. When he saw it, his face wore the familiar look of smelling some disgusting stuff. But, he did not mention what it was.

"Can you show me any other family member's mobile bill?&…

MISSED CALL

"Hello, this is Gerry here. I saw this missed call. May I know, whose number is this?" I asked the lady on the other end.

"I have not made any call, sorry."

"But, ma'am. This number ... Is it yours?"

"I told you, I haven't called you."

"Can you check, if any one around you had tried?"

Dhud!

After ten minutes:

"I am very sorry. It was my dad's phone; he had tried your number," the 'young lady' was on the other end, once again. But, this time around, she was extremely polite and apologetic. "He wanted to enquire about my admission ... I did not know I was talking to you," she really sounded apologetic.

"It's alright beti; just be careful, next time," I advised.

"Okay sir," she promised.

This was yesterday.

About four years ago, one morning, I wanted to talk to Prashant, my student. So, I called his residence number. "Hold on," a rough and cold voice told me. A minute later, …

MY NEEDS, AND MY WANTS

My needs keep me going, free; my wants keep me enchained, imprisoned.

I woke up, this morning at 5.00. A light, hot cup of tea took care of my well-being till 9.30. I had a bowl of salad, made of boiled peas, tomatoes and onion. I am really done.

For the lunch, I have packed for me two chapatis and a cauliflower dish. That would sustain my appetite till 5.00 in the evening. I will have a hot cup of coffee, and some toasts. I need not worry till 9.00 in the night. Some rice, daal and a vegetable dish ... the supper is over.

A good sleep of six to seven hours, till it is another morning.

What else is required to keep my zest for life on?

I read a lot.

I write a lot.

I talk to my friends, well-wishers and family members a lot.

I go out with my family to watch good movies, occasionally.

I walk some distance, every day.

I do some light exercises, including the breathing ones, every morning.

I like to enter the kitchen to cook, sometimes ... to clean up the mess that piles up.

I go to church, when my h…

WHERE THE SHOE HURTS THE MOST

We don't do it with outsiders. We do it - and do it again and again - with our own spouses. In our relationships ... the most significant area of our life.

We know, where the shoe hurts our partners the most. Because, we have come so close to each other. No one else knows the place, no one else knows what would make us break down - cry, depressed, go crazy, even angry and violent ... except our partners. And, when we shouldn't do it - we do it. We say something, do something - which we know our partners cannot handle, towards which they are vulnerable - and hurt them. We know where it hurts the most for him, or her, and cause that hurt.

Today, this simple thought came to me:

Do I know these areas where my wife gets hurt the most?

Do I hurt her, consciously, again and again ... by those words and actions?

Do I sincerely apologise when I hurt her?

Do I make my promise - to be more careful and caring next time?

How important is our relationship to me, its quality?

Which are those areas I…

CROSSING YOUR RUBICON

Some time back, a friend of mine was driven to the wall. He had used all his strength to fight his battles ... Financially, the times were tough for him; it seemed, that all the taps, suddenly, had dried up. Then, like an oasis in the desert, came a substantially big assignment, all from the blue. And, he saw the proverbial silver lining.

The task was performed by my friend, to the best of his abilities. And then, came the 'invisible' enemy, again ... as if to frustrate my friend to death. They held up his fees, and started harassing him. My friend, first tried all the gentle ways - the noble paths. Then, he attacked them bluntly, ruthlessly. He spoke to them with the 'most straight forward' language he he could ever do ... and, after that, told them - "Now, do what you like ... To hell with my fees."

Within two days, the phone rang. The guy on the other end informed my friend politely, "We will courier your cheque in two days."

No 'ifs' and no…

THE RAIN CLOUD

When I was in my ninth standard, we - my parents and we five brothers - had to leave our joint family, and settle somewhere else. I was the second child; the elder brother was still studying, and the younger ones, were too young to comprehend the impact. My mother had borrowed Rs. 500 from a kind neighbour, and rebuilt our home, from the scratch. Living with honour, with her head high, was more important for her than living in a constant hell of family discord. Those were tough times. The Bangla war was raging on the two frontiers of our nation. Millions of refugees had flooded into the Indian land, and there was a killing scarcity of food, oil and other necessities.

Here, in our village, ours was a different kind of migration. We were refugees of another kind. "Will India pass this test?" ... "Will the homeless millions be able to get back on their feet?" ... "Will our family get back?" ... These were the questions that ceaselessly haunted the nation, an…

THE SHOCK

Every one started running out.

In less than two minutes, the narrow lane leading to that spot was flooded with hordes of people - men, women and children. The shop-keepers left their cash boxes open and ran out, the house-wives left their doors open and rushed there, the barbers left their half-shaven customers on the chairs, the school-going children stopped there, the maid servants made their own group, a lame man, on his crutches, barely managed to park himself, there.

The crowd was still swelling ... and, every one was looking high up in in the air ... to 'him' who hung there precariously - from the leaves of that tall palm tree.

It seems, some kind and alert soul had called up the Fire men, and the Fire tender had just come. The frantic sounds of the bell and the siren had pressed the panic button - or is it the familiar curiosity button? - in all and sundry. Yes, the shop-keepers, house-wives, barbers, maid servants, school children and the crippled. Every one wanted to k…

THE BALANCE SHEET

I earn my daily bread by teaching my commerce students how to prepare a Balance Sheet, and - most importantly - how to tally it. You should see the the kind of excitement, joy and pride those students experience when their Balance Sheets tally in the class. The feeling is so mighty, that one who doesn't know what a Balance Sheet is all about - would think these students have just killed a man-eater. A lion!

Any commerce teacher, like me, will vouch for it!

It is only after they step out of their college, that they realise - that, it is not a big deal, not a rocket secience. That, your Balance Sheet can be designed - customised - the way you want it, and it suits you. Fatter, leaner or medium. Right, wrong or bogus. A hundred items you leave out, it will still tally. A hundred items you add, it will still tally. All that you should make sure is that" "For every debit, there should be an equal and corresponding credit."

Otherwise, it won't tally.

That's the 'g…

THE MEETING

"I am in a meeting; can I get back to you later?"

"Oh! I am sorry; don't bother, I will get back to you."

"Thanks."

"I can understand how hectic it must be!"

"It is not just hectic; it is crazy."

"I can understand. It must be very stressful, isn't it?"

"I leave home at 7.00 in the morning, and never reach home before 11.00 in the night!"

"Oh God! So late?"

"Sometimes, 12.00, and sometimes even 1.00 or 2.00."

"That's too much."

"That's killing."

"And the next morning, you have to leave again at 7.00?"

"Obviously. Who understands?"

"How do you manage all this?"

"I have to; there is no way out."

"Don't worry; things will be better, soon."

"I don't know if they ever will be, and when."

"I am sure, they will be - and soon."

"Hope so."

"Don't worry; I just wanted to inform you that I would …

THE MONK WHO BOUGHT ONE MORE FERRARI

All of us sell our 'Ferrari's' to become monks. The idea of becoming a monk is very sexy.

But, the irony is that, when we become monks, we want more of 'Ferrari's'!

Every monk wants to expand his kingdom. All that has happened is: from the kingly robe, he has, now, garbed himself in a ochre. The fleets of chariots and horses have, now, been replaced by the fleets of fine cars of all his affluent devotees.

But, a king will always be a king, even in the prison. At least, that's what he thinks ... while in prison.

As Saddam Husein kept shouting even from the gallows, "I am still the President of Iraq."

You leave the palace, wander in the wilderness, and then, sitting under the Bodhi tree, you become a Buddha, the enlightened one. Then, you go around preaching, spreading your enlightenment. Then, they come, raise monasteries for you, build the finest temples, place you on a golden throne, and raise one more kingdom.

And, they call it 'the kingdom of Go…

LIFE BEGINS AT SEVENTY-ONE

For her. And, for him, at seventy-two.

At seventy-two, I would be gone, perhaps. Even Gandhi looked so old at that age.

That is the age, when so many spend their time singing lullabies for their great grand children. That is the age, when some hurry up with their Wills, and some end up in old-age homes. But, this couple has great plans for their future. Their life begins, now.

She has just delivered a baby girl ... and, she yearns to have a son, too. Maybe, in two years from now.

He is ecstatic; just on cloud nine. To have this gift of life, he had to spend a fortune. A farmer from a remote village that he is, he had to mortgage his fields to fund their dream: of bearing their own child. They are not only proud of their feat, they are confident of paying off their debt, and bringing up their children.

Their life begins, now.

I am, almost, fifty-one. I have one son who is, soon, going to be seventeen. "One is more than enough ... too much!" I am liar, if I don't share how I fee…

TWENTY-FOUR HOURS

"Even Bill Gates has only twenty-four hours in his day. Not a neno-second more."

This is how I remind myself, time and again, when I tend to hide my inefficiencies with that universal excuse: "I have no time." I drill a big hole in my head, and fill this: "Buddy, even the richest man on earth made his billions, only with twenty-four hours."

"Did you read the book I gave you?" I ask some one.

"Not yet. I didn't find time," is his reply.

Now, he did not read that book, not because he didn't find time; but, because, I had given that book 'free' to him. Had he bought it, on his own, I am sure, he would have found the time to read it.

Because, we make time for all those things, that we 'choose' to do; the things we love.

Did I call my mom on her wedding anniversary?

No, I didn't. I don't even know the date.

Does it mean, I love her less.

She would be definitely emphatic: "No".

I do not remember the date, beca…

THE ANT AND THE ELEPHANT

"170 cores within the first ten days!"

No other movie, in Indian-film history had made this much. And, the money is still counting. Maybe, it may cross 500 crores. The biggest, greatest and mightiest box-office hit of all times. May be.

The greatest movie? If only that was true!

The most hyped-up, cleverly marketed? Yes, that's true.

It is not even two weeks since I saw 'Ghajini'. And, except for the 'possessed' Aamir Khan's eyes and face - and, of course, his cute head - I remember nothing. So short is my memory!

I do not know about yours.

And, it is nearly a decade, now, since I watched 'Lagaan'. It was a three-and-half-hour movie. But, you ask me about it, I can recall it frame by frame. Ask me about 'TZP', I can replay it for you, all live. Still, these 'great' movies did not spin so much cash. Nor did 'Sholay' - hailed to be the greatest Hindi movie, ever made.

Sometime back - we saw a similar hype, similar hysteria - whe…

THE CLOSEST STAR

"Why do you write your blog? To preach others?" my wife asked me angrily. "You talk about self-esteem and sell-control ... you talk about anger management, all for the world ... all hogwash."

It was 8.00 in the morning. We both had dressed up to go for the Sunday mass. I had got up at 5.00 in the morning in order to help my son get up to study for his forth coming exams. As is always the case with him - and with any teenager of his age - he kept saying, "Only five minutes," "Only five minutes" till it became six, and then, seven. All along testing my patience, challenging me whether I could 'practice what I preached."

Often, I blow off. And, yesterday, I did, again. It was quite a deadly explosion.

He had hardly flipped through the books; and off he went under his blanket, once again. He was to reach his classes at 8.00 for the tests. And, he was still at home! And, that was - even after repeated reminders, even after exhausting all the pa…

A FREE TRIP

I had heard about a 'Free Lunch'. But, never about a 'Free Trip'.

This July, I will complete 51. And, with that, I will also complete an equal number of trips around the sun ... and, all free!

And, I did not know about this!

Macklin, my nephew, today gave this 'good news' to me. Yes, in his comment on my yesterday's post - 'It Isn't That Bad'. He had written: "Life isn't that bad, in deed. In includes a free trip around the sun, every year ... Doesn't it?"

It does, Macklin. And, what a dumb man I have been. Blind, to be precise.

Every thing is taken for granted. My breathing, for example. It happens on its own, without any efforts from my end, without any charges to be made. Franky uncle was there in Bombay Hospital for nearly three months; almost for this entire period, in ICU. His children had to cough up over fifteen lakhs ... just to keep uncle breathing!

A night's electricity costs me quite a lot. Some pay it to keep themsel…

IT ISN'T THAT BAD

Yes, it isn't that bad.

Life isn't that bad ... I have come, this far.

All the life-situations which I dreaded about, over which I had spent sleepless nights, have come and gone ... without taking away my life, or spirit, or hope.

Life isn't that bad.

All those difficult people, who I thought made my life miserable, over whom I had spent such a colossal amount of energy, are all, today, going about their lives, here and there. But, certainly, they are off my back; certainly, they no longer hold the keys to my happiness.

Life isn't that bad.

All those demons of my soul - fear, insecurity, lack, jealousy, anger, violence, greed, lust, unfaithfulness, arrogance, indifference and, above all, ungratefulness ... yes, all these demons have never, ever succeeded to take over my soul. Not completely; not yet.

Life isn't that bad.

All those worries over money - How will I sail through this month? How will I protect my tomorrow? What if I can not work from tomorrow? Will my savings t…

WHERE IS MY DAD, TODAY?

My dad died on 2nd Jan. Twenty-six years ago. We remembered him, a lot, yesterday.

My dad was a simple village man. Though his education was barely sufficient for him to read and write, he was a keen political observer. He admired Mrs. Indira Gandhi and America like anything. In fact, shamelessly!

Like any other children, we had given him a great deal of stress. His means were limited. He and my mom always juggled with finances to keep us going. Children, generally, do not understand how difficult it is for their parents to run a house, to raise their children. My parents had five children to raise. I have only one. If it is so difficult for me and my wife to deal with our situation, now, how tough it must have been for our parents!

That insight, that empathy, seldom comes when we are young.

It comes, when the time comes. When the coin changes its side!

I remembered my dad, a lot, yesterday. How nice it would have been for him, for them both, had we five sons hassled them less, had we unde…

THE WOUND WITHIN

It seems, we, as a nation, have pinned all our hopes on Kasab. Our hope is: If and when Kasab is hanged, all our problems would end. The terrorism included!

"Why do you take so much time to hang him?" a young man asked. "Do we need any more evidence to prove the magnitude of his crime?"

"We can not do that in a democracy like ours," replied the other man. "A court has to sentence him after a fair trial."

"Fair trial?" the young man shouted. "You mean, fair trial for a monster like him?"

"Well, that's the greatness - or weakness - of a democracy." the other man said. "Every human being is entitled to defend himself."

"But, he is not a 'human being'; he is a heartless monster," protested the young man. "He needs to be treated the way they treat such savages in those Islamic countries: Gun down publicly; finish them ... Put an end to the story."

"Yes, that would finish a menace …

BE THE BLESSING

Sr. Dorothy is a live wire. You rarely escape from her without being 'charged'. I bumped into her, last evening, on her way to one of her regular house visits.

"Hello Sister," I greeted. "A very happy new year to you."

Sister stretched her hand forward to charge me. "To you, too."

"Give me your blessings," I folded my hands.

"My sister tells me, we should take blessing, give blessing ... and, above all, we should 'be the blessing'," Sister brought my hands down.

"Wow," I exclaimed, "What a thought: 'Be the Blessing'!"

Sister went on to share with me her interpretation of this phrase.

On my way home, I reflected on it. I remembered two similar statements I had heard or read before.

The first one. It was some years ago, when Fr. Rupak had dropped in while one of our Workshops was in progress. At the end, I had requested Father to share with the youngsters some of his insights. He drew on the board two …

HAPPY NEW YEAR

"Happy New Year." It was our maid. She was the first one to wish me, in person, this morning.

2009 had begun.

"Happy New year," I fumbled ... Humbled by her 'initiative'.

I realised, the 'new year' had nothing to do with - who you are. It was 'new' for every one.

Just before she was to leave, I opened the the Christmas-sweets box. There were quite a few sweets still left, and still fresh. My wife can not have them; she is a diabetic. My son doesn't have them; he dislikes sweets. That leaves me. I have a weakness for them. Which means, I won't mind hogging them for another week, till there is some trouble in my stomach and chest!

I packed all of them in a container and said, "Bhai, yeh aap ke liye."

We had already given her on the Christmas day. So, she took it with a great deal of surprise.

As she was having her tea, I placed two cookies before her in a small plate. She quickly packed them. I replaced them with two more, so that …
THE WILD, WAYSIDE FLOWERS
There is, always, something extra-ordinary in the wild, wayside flowers...