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Showing posts from 2010

WILL IT HELP?

Some days ago, a lady called me. She wanted to do the Personal Growth programme which THE DAWN CLUB conducted. I regretted saying that we conducted that programme only in the summer holidays. However, I could help her with our inspirational books. "Please come over... I will give you something to read," I told her encouragingly.

"But, will it help me?" the lady - who I was told, 23, and worked for a famous BPO - asked me.

I had already spent about ten minutes with her on the phone. I had asked her as to what exactly had prompted her to think about doing this programme. I, always do that with any one who enquires with me about the programme... Many a times, they think of doing the programme because of of embarrassment they encounter somewhere, or it could be due to the negative feedback from their bosses at the workplace... or it could be a nagging feeling of inferiority that consumes their mind... I, always, go into that. And, I have found that it helps them immen…

REEL LIFE AND REAL LIFE

I watched the movie, 'ROBOT', along with my wife. Normally, we take our son along when we go to watch a movie. This time, my son's 12th standard term-exams were nearing, and my wife wanted him not to 'waste' his three hours watching this movie. So, we watched it secretly... and, both of us enjoyed the movie immensely.

"Don't open you 'big' mouth, " my dear wife warned me on our way home, "He has hardly done any studies."

That night, I could control my urge to open my 'big' mouth. The next day was a Sunday. I called my son from out. "We watched 'ROBOT' yesterday... It was mind-blowing. Go and watch today. It is a must watch for a creative guy like you." Then, I added the inevitable: "Don't tell mom that I have opened my 'big' mouth."

"Relax dad,"  my son assured me. When he was home, neither could he control his mouth.

Exams? "Just chill, dad."

I hadn't seen much…

THE 'TREE'

As I opened my mails, this morning, the first thing that caught my attention was a Forward message from some of my regular friends. It was regarding the current turmoil on Common Wealth Games. There were amazing pictures of the facilities at the Games Village, which, we never, ever saw on any news papers or Television channels all these months. So stunning some of them were, that,  initially, I thought I was watching some 'foriegn' stuff! Then, my eyes fell on this famous, old caption:

"If you want to kill a tree, don't cut it; just curse it!"

Many, many years ago, I had come across this saying... and, I had, instantly, liked it. There is an island -  I do not remember which one, probably, West Indies - where the tribals surround a tree and, together, keep cursing it hysterically. And, they go back to their huts. In a few days, the tree would be gone. Dead!

"Jesus Christ," I remember muttering in my mind, after reading this story, "we all do this, …

LIVING IN FEAR

Some years ago, someone told me this: "Even our Scriptures tell us that, in Life,  Fear is our most loyal companion."

I have no doubts on that. I am 52, and, if at all, I have had - and still having - one steadfast, yes, loyal, companion in all these years, it is Fear. He (or She?) has never deserted me, even though I have tried my best to!

So, it is clear, that as the Vedas declare, this one companion, is sure to stick to me... My life-time glue.

Still, one thing I deeply desire in my Life is:  never to live in fear. Of any thing. Of any one.

Living 'with' fear, as the Holy Books say, has become inevitable. But, living 'in' fear is, certainly, not the thing the Holy Books want us to do. Living 'in' constant, nagging fear eats our souls, robs us of the charm of living... It makes us cynical, bitter, unhappy, even, dangerous humans... as the unhappy people are, often, the most dangerous ones. The Holy  Books want us to be  upbeat, zestful and happy in…

THE 'SPECIAL' DOG

I think, I had first read this story in Shiv Khera's famous book: 'You Can Win'. The story goes like this:

A man bought a 'special dog'. This dog possessed unique skill of running over the water. The man would take the dog along every time he went for hunting. When a bird was shot dead, the dog would rush to the spot, with lightening speed, to fetch the prey to his master. Undoubtedly, he was skillful even to fetch it when the bird had fallen in a lake or a river. The dog was special. He could run over the deep water! The man was very proud and happy too.


One day, this man wanted to show to one of his friends, what a special dog he possessed. So, he took this friend along for hunting. When he shot down a bird, the amazing dog sprung into action, and, in no time, was back with the bird to his beloved master.


"Did you see?" the man asked with pride.


"Yes," the friend replied.


"Can you tell me, why is my dog so 'different'?" the man wa…

REUNION

Two years ago, I had taken an initiative to organise a reunion of all those students and well-wishers who had helped me found, and then run, The Dawn Club. It was taking place after twenty-long years. I had tried to contact almost every one whose helping hand had brought me till here... but, it was not possible to get in touch with all of them. Still, I managed to get in touch with as many as I could.

 I wanted to thank them, re-live all those golden memories... I brought out two books to mark the occasion... captured the beautiful moments, our fond interactions, on live video beamed on a mega screen in the auditorium... and, finally, the event culminated with a sumptuous dinner. I felt a lot relieved, content and even proud. It was around 11 in the night, and I and my wife were about to get into the waiting car to leave the wonderful auditorium and the just-lived memories behind. My mobile phone rang. It was one of my students who had attended the function. I thought he was calling m…

WHAT IS THAT?

The more I think about it, the more I get convinced. That, in life, we really do not need much to keep us happy. Yes, I say this, in spite of the fact that, time and again, I feel the pressing need for money; time and again, my spouse and son keep cribbing about some comforts...

I am convinced, that at all levels of material comforts, one does not cease to be 'hungry for more'. If that is so, then, my happiness in life has nothing to do with the size of my bank balance or the type of gadgets that I try to flash. The more I link it to my possessions, the more and more insecurity I would experience. The more I de-link, the more secure I would feel.

Fear lies, always, in attachments... So do sorrow and my unhappiness.

Many years back, when I just began to go around talking about 'Success', I came across a very affluent, very successful businessman. He was a very generous soul, and helped a lot of needy people around. "Sir," I remember asking him with stars in my…

DAHI HANDI

Yesterday morning, my friend, Ashish, gave me a lift. In the car, Aryan, his 12-years-old son, was sitting next to Ashish. "Dad, is today Krishnaji's b'day?", the little one asked, with all his innocence. "Yes beta," Ashish replied, "that's why we call this day - 'Janmashtami', or 'Krsishnashtami'."

I was touched by the pure innocence. Just the previous evening, a local young man, a small-time businessman, had sent me an invitation. It was for the 'Dahi Handi' he was organising yesterday. "Rs. 1,11,111," his invitation had announced proudly. It had mentioned the names of some local political leaders, from a certain political party, who had agreed to be the guests of honour. The young man had flashed his king-size posters, with self portraits and those of some politicians, all over the nearby vicinity. It was clear to all of us that this man had political ambitions. And, he was investing heavily to prepare his…

PAUL'S PREDICTIONS

So, Paul’s prediction, once again, have come true! Spain won the football World Cup as predicted by him.

He is an Octopus, and I think, he lives in someone’s home aquarium. Wise fellow, this Paul.

“Do you believe in such predictions?” a friend of mine asked me last evening. The Finals were a few hours away. Paul had predicted the German doom; before that, of Argentina. Naturally, some fans are so angry with this Nostradamus that they have sworn to deep-fry him for their dinner.


I watched the match last night. Spain won. Paul, too

What difference does it make if I do not believe in such predictions? Normally, I don’t. But, I don’t tell this to any one with all my convictions,  whether any one – least of all an octopus or a parrot – can predict some one’s future. I have not laid any importance to such predictions… It is better to be anxious about our future and remain humble, slog it out… rather than ‘knowing the out come’ and going off to sleep.


The hare lost the race, because he had…

YOU WIN SOME; YOU LOSE SOME

When Brazil lost in the quarterfinals, yesterday. I am sure, millions of fans, worldwide, must have sunk into a depression. Netherlands are a good side. But, certainly, no one had thought they could trounce Brazil the way they did. Brazil were the favorites… and for the millions of fans, they were the Supreme, the unbeatable… They deserved the Cup… the great glory of the shining gold!

But, the great Goliath of Soccer crashed… and, along with him, the hopes of several million fans, world over.


The second match, last night, was between Uruguay and Ghana. It was a late-night match, and I went off to sleep half way. In the morning, both, my son and wife, who had sat back to watch this contest, echoed, “You missed something.” It seems, this game had all the thrill, suspense and drama. Finally, in the penalty shootouts, Uruguay got in, and Ghana, who had stolen millions of hearts with their fine skills, got out. My son kept telling me that, it was one of the finest Soccer games he had ever …

THE GRACE UNDER PRESSURE

Some days ago, I watched the latest Mani Ratnam movie – ‘Raavan’. I did not like it at all. However, there is a line in the movie, which I liked immensely.

 Abhishek Bachchan is Beera, a Robin Hood-like hero who has kidnapped the police officer’s beautiful wife ( Aishwarya Rai) to take revenge on him. The police officer mounts an offensive and pursues this Raavan. Beera is a dreaded criminal for the Establishment, but a cult hero for his tribal folks. He is brute, merciless and highly volatile. Yet, he has failed to intimidate his delicate captive. For fourteen days, in spite of all the hardships he has caused, Beera has not been able to intimidate her. That makes him mad… His head spins… ‘Chaka, chaka, chaka, chaka….’. He admires this beautiful, frail woman … her grace under pressure … and vents out his frustration to his brother, “How can you kill some one who is not afraid to die?”

Perhaps, that was the reason why Raavan honored Sita’s modesty. In the movie, Beera has done exactly …

IS THERE SCOPE?

Sweta comes about as a very confident young girl. Recently her 12th standard results were out and she scored 90%. She got 99 in Biology, her highest and 84 in English, her lowest... Her dream has always been to pursue literature. She is very fond of English language. She reads varieties of books, speaks very fluently, writes creatively. All these things Sweta does without being told…, and she does it for long hours. She is happiest when she is involved in these things. There is no strain, no fatigue and no complaints.

Sweta’s fascination for English language began when she was in fifth standard. Miss. Lynette, a young and pretty English teacher had come to teach the little Sweta’s class. This young teacher had ignited in Sweta the thirst for language… and, from there on, it was only English for Sweta. She would talk about it to her friends… She would dream about writing books, teaching in a reputed college and inspiring her students as her idol, Miss. Lynette did. “Prof. Sweta,” this…

BUT, NOT NOW...

"Sir, I want my daughter to become a fine public speaker. Will your course help her?

"Sir, my son lacks self-confidence. Can you help him to be confident?"

“Sir, I want to improve my English... I want to learn how to speak fluently. Can you help me?"

The sir has this ready answer: "Of course, yes. I can certainly help. But… "

"But, what?"

"But, this." I tell them this little story.

Once, a Parish priest of one of the churches began to receive frequent complaints that many of his parishioners spent a lot of their time and money in the local liquor bar. Disturbed by this development, the priest decided to end this nuisance, once and for all. So, one night, dressed in his civil clothes, the Father stormed the bar. He was shocked to see, that at least twenty of his church members were having a good time there, all drunk.

"Your shameless sinners," the Priest did not waste his time to blast, "Get out of this hell." He th…

WHEN ONE DOOR SLAMS...

In the Sanjay Bansali movie, ‘Black’, there is this scene. Michelle (Rani Mukerjee), the blind, deaf and dumb student of Debhraj Sahai (Amitabh Bachchan) has just shown some arrogance and disrespect. She has thrown away her books and is stubbornly refusing to repent. Her eccentric teacher doesn’t wait even for a second to beat her blue. She is dragged to the typewriter, and there she is, rage personified. Then, she starts typing the brail… Till then, Michelle couldn’t go beyond even twenty words per minute. Now, angry, mad, hell-bent, she goes about hammering the keyboard and when the watch stops, the teacher is astonished. “Fifty words per minute,” he exclaims as his student has vented out all her anger and sorrow on the keys of her typewriter. She is calmed down; she is ready to listen, repent for her actions. The teacher holds his student and begins to go out, telling her beholding mother, “It is time for celebration; time for an ice cream.” The mother asks with a pleasant confusio…

THE CATTLE CLASS

Today, the SSC results are out in Maharashtra. I have received so many messages from either the students or their parents telling me proudly about the results. None of them has scored below 85%. Today, when some one says he or she has scored 89% 0r 93%, not many eyebrows go up. It is great news… but that news is so common, today.

This post is not inspired by these ‘achievers’, but by a ‘loser’. Just a stone throw away from my classes, this family lives. The young man has scored a Glorious 45%! And, understandably, the young man’s father, a simple office assistant, has gone crazy. “He has shattered my hopes,” the distressed father goes about telling. Their neighbour’s son has scored 92%... and our young man is not even half way this ladder!


“It’s okay; he will surely do well in life,” I consoled the father. “Do well? With 45%?” the look almost scared me to death.

Did I simply do a lip service to this heart-broken man, or did I really mean what I said?

About thirty-five years ago, one …

THE FLAG OF THE UNDERDOG

The Football fever has gripped the world. And, I am not spared.

Some days ago, I watched on our Lap Top, the movie of the eighties – ‘Escape To Victory’. I watched it with my son, and both of us really enjoyed it. It has a story set during the Second World War, which is simple yet powerful.

The Germans have never won a single football match against the British, and that is difficult to swallow for them. So, the Army chief wants to humiliate the Allies by trouncing them in a Soccer match. But, that would be a match of un equals as the best of the German players would be pitted against a squad from the Allies POW. And, that makes this movie so inspiring, like our own ‘Lagaan’.


Another reason why I liked this movie is that it has my Soccer hero, Pele… and his famous ‘bicycle-kick goal’. In the movie, the coach who selects Pele is highly impressed by the raw, inborn talent of this ‘Black Pearl’. “Where did you learn all this, young man?” the coach asks Pele. “Back home on the streets of…

THE PUPPIES

My friend Giri conducted a Workshop for our young students this morning. He had called it ‘Success Mantras – 2’. Two weeks ago, he had held his first Workshop and called it: ‘Success Mantras -1’.

Giri conveys his message through simple games, which the young participants thoroughly enjoy. A very complex principle can be conveyed through a very simple game, and Giri is a genius in it. Two weeks ago, during his first Workshop, he gave the kids a simple activity of raising a tower with blocks. How simple! But, when the kids actually began to do it, they realized how hard it was. Most of them could not even go beyond five blocks! In the end, Giri revealed his first Success Mantra: Start on a sound foundation. “To achieve success, you need to first focus on the basic principles – the foundation,” he declared, “Else, my little friends, your tower would soon lean, collapse.”

In today’s Workshop, he dealt with another four Success Mantras. The last of the four hit them hard. It was a game of…

HEY, THEY COULD NOT TAKE ANYTHING...

A week ago, it was the plane crash in Mangalore. Today, it is the massacre of the innocent passengers by the Naxals. The TV channels show us the gruesome pictures, round the clock…; the newspapers bring us the same gory news just as we wake up.

But, then, all this will be forgotten in a matter of a few days. Then, that doesn’t interest us, any more. It is stale news. Something else comes… something more gruesome… interesting!

That is life, they say. And, life goes on! Public memory is too short… No one remembers for too long about any one, any thing. Hiroshima is history; Holocaust is history; Partition of India is history; the Vietnam War is history; Delhi Massacre of Sikhs is history; the Twin Towers is history; the pounding of Iraq and Afghanistan is history; the dirty spat between Shashi Taroor and Lalit Modi is history…

And, history is dead meat. No one likes to beat it. For, they know the dead meat doesn’t come back to life! Yes, howmuchever you beat it.

What about our ‘private…

BUT, NOT NOW

"Sir, I want my daughter to become a fine public speaker. Will your course help her?

"Sir, my son lacks self-confidence. Can you help him to be confident?"

“Sir, I want to improve my English... I want to learn how to speak fluently. Can you help me?"

The sir has this ready answer: "Of course, yes. I can certainly help. But… "

"But, what?"

"But, this." I tell them this little story.

Once, a Parish priest of one of the churches began to receive frequent complaints that many of his parishioners spent a lot of their time and money in the local liquor bar. Disturbed by this development, the priest decided to end this nuisance, once and for all. So, one night, dressed in his civil clothes, the father stormed the bar. He was shocked to see, that at least twenty of his church members were having a good time there, all drunk.

"Your shameless sinners," the Priest did not waste his time to blast, "Get out of this hell." He th…

I KNOW ALL THOSE THINGS...

Last evening, I bumped into Mrs. Arora. I could read the discomfort which was writ large on her face. I knew the reason.

Kritika, Mrs. Arora’s teenaged daughter, had stopped attending our PD sessions. “Mom, I have done all those things… I know all that,” Kritika had told her mother. “I don’t want to continue.”

Mrs. Arora was not ready to agree with her young daughter’s argument. “Beti, you might have done some of those things… But, please remember, you have so much more to learn,” the mother had tried to prevail upon.

“No, mom. Please understand me. I don’t want to continue,” Kritika had made it very clear.

What could Mrs. Arora, the mother, do? “Well my dear, it is okay if you wish to drop,” she had told her daughter, “But, at least, meet your sir and inform him about your decision. Remember, he had specially come to our house to invite you for the course… He had reduced the fee for you by two-third of the amount… just because he is close to us… and, he seriously cares for you…and, m…

THE BUTTERFLY AND THE PAIR OF SCISSORS

Image
Pic.: Aparna Khanolkar Sheth


Years ago, when I had decided to do something about my poor English, one of the things I did – and found it very useful – was telling a nice story in two tenses… Past and Present. Over the years, I have helped hundreds of people who were earnest to improve their English with the same method… Yes, write a nice story down in both the tenses… and tell it to someone.
Many years ago, my friend, Manjeet, had shown this slide story to me on his P.C. when I had gone to him to unload some of my life-burden… I came back a lot lighter and wiser, that morning…


THE BUTTERFLY AND THE PAIR OF SCISSORS


PAST:
One day, a man was watching a butterfly emerging out of the cocoon. The butterfly was emerging very, very slowly. The man could feel the struggle and the pain the butterfly was going through co come out. He was moved to see the painful and slow process of birth… and, he really wanted to help the butterfly to come out painlessly, and fast. He wanted to rescue it from its pai…

BUTTERFLY

Sometimes, I wonder: What if the loving God – the all-merciful Father- had ‘rescued’ His only Son, Jesus Christ, on that night in the Gethsemane Garden?

That night, Jesus was in great trouble. He had foreseen the trauma that was to come upon Him. He was frightened, lost all His courage… There was that battle within him: to face the problems or to run away from them. He was confused; He was in terrible pain… and, He was lonely in His entire struggle. Even His loyal disciples had gone off to sleep, leaving Him alone in His hour of need.

“Father, do away this test from me; but, if it is Thy wish, Thy will be done.” The Bible says, that after pleading His Father this way, Christ had sweat blood! And, with that, He had risen up with all the courage in the world - freed from fear, pain and confusion - and come out from his hiding to face the bloodthirsty mob. The Father had not come forward to rescue his only son. He wanted his son to face His problems head on… and, grow from the experienc…

YOU HOLD ME THE MIRROR

Presently, THE DAWN CLUB Personality Development course is in progress. I spend my summer vacation with these teenagers, and find a great deal of joy by helping them, grooming them. During the sessions, we have blast of a time… Jokes, stories, skits apart from Workshops, Speeches, Debates and Group Discussions.

I tell all these teenagers to be alert and watchful… remain always thirsty and open-minded. “It is your readiness, your openness that will decide whether you will gain anything from this course or not,” I keep reminding them, almost in every session. “Each one of you holds a mirror for others,” I tell hem, “Be awake… A teacher appears when the student is ready.”

In the last session, the 16-year-old Janvi failed to understand the meaning of my lines. “Sir, what do you mean by ‘holding a mirror?” she asked me, with all her innocence. I told Janvi, that if we are eager to learn, we can learn from any one, any time and anywhere. “I may be your teacher, but I can learn so much from…

THE DOG IN THE MANGER

This world is not flat, it is round. It has people of all types... not just one type, flat.

One of these types is known as 'Dog-in-the-manger types'. They will neither do any good work, nor will allow anyone else to do it. Aesop, in one of his fables, made these fellows very popular, very familiar. This was that fable:

Long time ago, in one of the villages, there lived a farmer. He had a couple of cows and a dog. One day, the cows had been out and, back home, the dog was hungry. He went around everywhere looking for food but in vain. Finally, he landed up at the stable and, found there some fresh hay in the manger. He tried to eat it, but he couldn't. "How unfair can be our Master," he cribbed,” So much for the cows, and nothing for me." Then, he slept in the manger, right over the hay, and declared, "I will not allow those cows to eat it, either."

In the evening, the cows returned to the stable, hungry. But, when they went near the manger, they s…

NO MATTER HOW FAR YOU REACH...

Some day's ago, I was talking on the phone to my mother, who lives in Mangalore. The Konkani singing legend from Mangalore, Mr. Wilfy Rebimbus, had passed away a few days before. My mom was describing to me on the phone, with graphic details, about the final journey of this great man.

Wilfy. There mustn't be a single soul in the Mangalorean Konkani world - yes, all over the world - who hasn't heard this name... and his popular songs. We grew up on the diet of his songs. Every aspiring Konkani singer was baptized with his tunes... Every wedding, every function, every Konkani event was incomplete without a sprinkle of his songs. There were books, there were cassettes and there were CD's. There were Wilfy Nites and there were even movies with Wilfy songs.

Wilfy was the 'bench mark' of success and fame in the Konkani world. My own brother, Rony, began to sing Konkani songs when he was very small. And, like any other konkani kid, who dreamed to become a singer, he,…

THE ANGER AND SORROW

The man who shot dead the young XI th standard student, yesterday, was a senior citizen, a retired customs officer. The girl was not a party to his anger... she did not belong to the family with whom he had picked his fight... she did not even stay there. Still, he shot her down.

What was his anger? His reason to kill?

He was angry, because of the civil work being carried out at the flat above his own. The work disturbed him... so much... yes so much that it made him pull his revolver and create a ruckus at the society premises... and, finally, kill that innocent stranger-girl.

The cops gunned him down, soon after that!

It is the death of anger... The end of ego. May the innocent and the ignorant, both, rest in peace.

Cops did not gun down Pravin Mahajan, even though he shot dead, in broad daylight, his own brother, his mentor - Pramod Mahajan.

What was his reason? His provocation?

Whatever they may be, Pravin Mahajan did not think he did anything wrong by gunning down his brother. H…

THE LEAP OF FAITH

The other day, when somebody used the word - 'Compromise', I was quick to respond: "Let us not use the word - 'Compromise'... That is a 'cheap', rather, ineffective word. Let us use the word - 'Peace'." I went on, "Peace comes straight... with out any conditions, with no strings attached."

There was no discussion on that. There was silence... It was profound.

That evening, I found myself speaking fervently, with all my passion and strength... but, it was all a monologue, rather a soliloquy. I was telling them - the fighting parties, the parties who were unable to find a breakthrough - this. "A compromise comes with doubt, with suspicion from the mind; peace comes with complete trust, straight from the heart. Compromise means, I am ready, but I still don't trust you... I may not honour my promise, in case, you... Peace means, I am ready... and I trust you fully... I will keep my promise, and you too will, I know. I know. I kn…

WHEN THE WIND SANG

One of the most profound, and blinding, realisations in my life is that, the world will go on smoothly - very, very smoothly - without me.

This means: My home will run smoothly... The lives of my wife and teenager son will run smoothly. Even if I am the CEO of my Company, the Company will run smoothly without me. Similarly, even if I am the Prime Minister of my nation, my nation will take its own course, even without me.

Life is too big, too eternal for me to control. To think that I can change its course, is to be arrogant. Every thing will be fine without me... the flowers in the garden, the fruits on the trees, the animals in the forests, the children in the schools, the machines in the factories, the clouds in the sky... and even the smiles on my dear one's faces. They will all be fine; they will be taken care of... Life is all merciful. It will protect.

This morning, I, once again, felt anxious. I yelled at my son, "There are hardly any days left for your exams... Do some t…

THE INNOCENT WEDDINGS

It is close to twenty, 'long' years! That's for our marriage. The count down has started for our Silver Jubilee.

A year is a long time not only in politics, but also in marriage. I remember, just a couple of days after our marriage, my in-laws had celebrated their wedding silver-jubilee. So, for them, it is the count down for their Golden Jubilee.

Why do I write about this subject, today?

Two days back, Alka had come to see me. "Our marriage did not work; we have separated," she said. There was no hesitation, no sign of any sort of stigma as Alka made that confession. It was plain and simple...

I was silent for a while. Just through an empathetic silence, my eyes conveyed to her my feelings: "I am sad; it shouldn't have happened."

Alka's marriage couldn't last for even eight months!

I still remember what I told them as I wished them on their reception night - "You make a lovely, happy couple... Wish you all the best." Both of them had …
THE WILD, WAYSIDE FLOWERS
There is, always, something extra-ordinary in the wild, wayside flowers...