Monday, October 31, 2011

THE WASHING MACHINE






“Tough times never last; but, tough people do.”

I first read Dr. Robert Schuller’s famous book, with the above title, about twenty-five years ago. I have read it, over and over again, since then. When I last checked, about three months ago, Dr. Schuller had been passing through one of his deepest personal crisis – tough time.

He will surely survive. Because, tough people, really, do.

When the storm hits us hard, we wonder: “Is it the end?”

Mostly, it is not.

No one wants tough times in life. But, they come without seeking our permission. Some of us find strength to face them… and, some of us lose strength under the weight of our problems. Some of us get crushed and some of us come out stronger, wiser and finer after the grind.

Tough times do come… but, they do not last. Tough people really do.

My dear friend, and one of my oldest students, Girish, normally does not forward me any e-mails or sms’s. He regularly comments on my blog, however. Last night, almost at 12, I was surprised to read a sms he had forwarded:


“Troubles are like a washing machine.
They twist, turn and knock us around;
But, in the end, we come out brighter than before.”

It was mid-night and I was really weighed down by some of my troubles. It is never pleasant to retire with a burdened mind like that. So, the moment I read the message, I felt good, and replied to Girish:



“Thanks Girish…
I just needed it, right now. Gd nt.”


The night was peaceful. Early this morning, I forwarded the message sent by Girish to at least ten of my friends. One of them was Vikram. He was quick to send his reply:


“And, they get flushed down the drain.”


GERALD D'CUNHA

Saturday, October 29, 2011

THE BLISS OF IGNORANCE




Mr. Harwadekar lives in my building. What I admire about this ‘young man’ – yes, only of 85 years! – is: he loves to be with all of us – the young, the middle-aged, the aged and also the little children. He loves to dress smartly, always wears a smart hat… and loves to tell us interesting stories – mostly his adventures – from his good-old-days. He loves to read, and that’s where I bond with him in a special manner. He has read all my books and given me enough compliments. “Gerry, you have a distinct style of writing, and I love it,” he always tells me, “It is so simple and, at the same time, so relevant for all of us.”

Some days ago, I told uncle Harwadekar about my daily Blog posts. I thought, being an avid reader, that would be the best way he could access my writings. “But, Gerry, I am scared of the ‘little mouse’,” he reacted, “Somebody must help me… I do not even go near the computer; you know we belong to another world!”

Yes, like uncle Harwadekar, I too hail from ‘another world’. We had no telephone, and no electricity where we grew up… And, that’s was how it was for most of my relatives and classmates. I was scared to touch even – an antic today – the telephone. I remember my trembling hands and cracking voice when I ventured to hold the receiver, for the first time in my life, when I was in the final year of graduation! I would fear that it would explode!

And, the same fear persisted when it came to computer. My assistant would do everything for me. So, my fear of computer was managed by him. But, then, just about six years ago, he moved from my office for better prospects. And, I thought it was the best time to deal with my nagging fear of computer. Two of my well-wishers, Mr. Manjeet and Mr. Ameet, took personal interest in me. “You teach the whole world how to manage fears… How to be self-confident,” they taunted me, “Now, we will teach you.”

And, they did… with all the patience in the world! Thanks to these good souls, I blog today.

There has been no explosion, yet. I am safe, so far!

When I look back on this side of my growth – filled with such ignorance… may be innocence – I really feel like laughing at my self. I have managed to publish so many books, so many magazines and poetry circle journals… and so much of my writings – despite of my fear of computer!

Last afternoon, Dr. Deepak was here. I was recalling my very first booklet – ‘THE DAWN' – which I had gifted to all my students while returning from the Gorai beach picnic, that evening in 1988. I recounted the way I went about producing that little book. It was such a tiny one – just about twenty small, inspiring passages - all on very ordinary paper, and on a dot-matrix printer. The man, who had typed and printed it, quickly had sensed my ‘ignorance’ and had decided to ‘cash’ on it. I wanted some words, some lines – here and there – to be in ‘bold’. “Sir, that would cost you more,” this fellow had reacted. “No problem,” I had not wasted my time, “I want it; do it.”

I had paid him ‘double’ for making those words ‘bold’!

Now, you may have fun reading it. “So dumb? Too difficult to believe!” you may shout.

Well, I can not do anything about it, now. I was so ‘dumb’. And, that’s it.

I told Dr. Deepak, yesterday, “Look, how ‘ignorant’ we all were!”

“No sir,” Dr. Deepak immediately disagreed, “It shows, how ‘focused’ we were!”

I fell into a silence!


GERALD D'CUNHA





Friday, October 28, 2011

BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED



Some things in my life just happened… and, I just accepted them. My birth, my parents, my brothers, my relations, my home, my faith and even my complexion.

I was planted by God in a garden of His own choice… and I had no choice but to accept it. That was some fifty-three years ago. But, unlike the rose that blooms, all alone, in a pot, and unlike the daffodils that blossom along the wild wayside – all without any choice – my life had ample choices, all through. Though I could not choose the humble home in which I was born, I could choose the quality of living in that home; and though I could not choose my parents, I could choose the way I looked at them; Ditto for my brothers and relations… Ditto for my faith and even complexion. Yes, I had enough choices, at every step, all my life.

I had the choice to remain in the pot where I was planted and allow the Sun, the wind and the Gardner to decide my fate… or to step out and walk in the Sun, singing along the wind and plant my own gardens. God did not give such choices to roses and daffodils, however beautiful He made them. He did give them to me, even though He did not give me as beautiful a complexion.

Last night, we had a family gathering. It was in my in-laws’ place. My wife’s cousins and their young children had come and we had a real good time with all of them. We were hopping from one subject to another - our childhood, our school days, our days with the parents, our children and their issues… their friends, mobiles and internet and everything that our lives were surrounded with.

Anita and Sunita, my wife’s cousins, grew up in their tiny one-room house along with their two brothers. Anita was the eldest, and when she was in school, both her parents passed away. She became, both, the father and mother to her siblings. The years that followed were strained with huge struggle, both financially as well as emotionally. Amidst this entire struggle, Anita saw to it that all of them came up with their heads firmly placed on their shoulders. One by one, they completed their graduation, got married and moved into their respective new houses. Then, all of them began to raise their own children.

Anita is a popular teacher in a high school in Mumbai. She also has been teaching students at her residence, so that, from this additional income, she could educated her own two children. Last night, I was impressed to see these two young kids: Sharon, 24, is a lecturer in a city college, and Shelton, 21, is about to complete his Engineering from Mumbai’s reputed Sardar Patel Engineering College. He has been already picked by L & T in their campus recruitments. Sunita’s daughter, Benita, completed her post grads and now works for a reputed company in Mumbai, Her son, Benson, is still in College and shaping up well. Their brothers’ children are also going about doing well for themselves.

This isn’t any rags-to-riches story for my blog. There is nothing extraordinary in the lives of these families. They did their best to come out of a tight situation, without turning bitter in life. Not only they, but also their children.

“You must bloom where are planted,” Anita coined this famous quote last night while we were hopping from one subject to another. What she meant was: You must accept your situation… You must be content with what has been given to you by your destiny or whoever it is. I looked at Anita with my quizzing eyes, which said, “Need we, Anita?” I was asking her, “Are we helpless like a rose in the pot or the daffodils on the wild wayside?”

The situations in our life may be, quite often, beyond our control. Yes, the gardens in which we are allowed to bloom may not be always of our choice. But, that’s how it has been always for us – the roses and daffodils with minds, souls and hearts. That’s how it has been for Anita and her siblings, for their children… and for me, too.

We all have that special gift of choice… Yes, to walk out of our pots, walk in the Sun… and sing along the blowing wind.

No Anita, let’s not bloom where we are planted. You have not… Your children have not.


GERALD D'CUNHA





Thursday, October 27, 2011

HEY, OTHERS TOO EXIST...





Many a times, we are obsessed with our own lives - our own work, our own achievements, our own success. We forget that others exist... even though the 'others' may mean our own good friends.

Ajay was my student more than twenty years ago. He, later, became a dear friend and we became each other's well-wishers. Presently, Ajay is settled with his family in Pune, where he runs his business. Along with it, he also runs his NGO, which he keeps telling me was inspired our DAWN CLUB.

The reason why I remember Ajay, today, is that he had mailed me some of his college-days poems just, I am sure, expecting that I would read them... that I may tell him, "Ajay, they are beautiful." But, then, as I told you at the outset, I was in my own world... I failed to notice Ajay's mail with this attachment!

A month had gone by!

And, just a while ago, my eyes fell on them... and, I became a little angry with myself. For, being so selfish... by basking under my own glory.

So, I instantly decided to publish, through this blog of mine, a couple of his poems. Hope, you will love them. Here are they.


OFTEN



My wrong scores on my right often
I get depressed when in pleasure often
I look for the divine source, which lures me often
Looking for the one within that drives me often
Who am I, I wonder often


Nights are better than Days often
When in light, darkness moves me often
Knowingly the unknowing gets happening often
Looking for the one within that drives me often
Who am I , I wonder often


My respect and honour is the need often
But Humiliation keeps me moving often
Though alive, being dead at times often
Looking for the one within that drives me often
Who am I, I wonder often


The sound that, rings the silence often
The dance that marks the stillness often
Words of wisdom, may guard me often
Looking for the one within that drives me often
Who am I, I wonder often



FEAR


I fear the thundering clouds
But I Love the silver lining
Wish to hop towards it
All in vain


I fear the happening events
But I love to live an event
Wish to miss an event
All in vain


I fear my fate
But I love it once known
Wish to dodge my fate
All in vain


I fear me
But I love my existence
Wish to kill me
All in vain


LOOK


Look at me, I look at you
I search for me you search for you
Still lost, but awake, others asleep


Look at me, I look at you
A sting at me and a sting at you
Still lost, but awake, others asleep


Look at me, I look at you
I hate me, You hate you
Still lost, but awake, others asleep


Look at me, I look at you
A friend in me and a friend in you
I love you, You love me
Not lost, but awake , others asleep


Look at me, I look at you
I am you, You are me
I thank you, You thank me
Not lost, but awake, others asleep




HUNGER


Hunger with full stomach
I have experienced it
Hunger with ample wealth
I have experienced it


Hunger with laurels
I have experienced it
Hunger with pleasure
I have experienced it


Hunger with hunger
Have you ever seen?
I am the hunger – unseen…



EGO


My Ego
I want it to go
It sticks to me
It grills me


My Ego
I want it to blow
It lives with me
It drives me


My ego
I want it to get low
It rises in me
It follows me


My Ego
Let it glow
Let it kill me
Or else get killed by me



SECRET


Secret of my life
Accept Accept and Accept
All people, All situations
As and how they are


Secret of my life
Accept Accept and Accept
Not to change the world
But to have change in me


Secret of my life
Accept Accept and Accept
Every good and bad moment
With a smile and a little pause




COSMIC LIFE


Here they corner me
Here they hit me
Here they hate me
I long for the cosmic life

Here they fool me
Here they trick me
Here they frighten me
I long for the cosmic life

Here they lie to me
Here they ignore me
Here they ditch me
I long for the cosmic life

But I love them
I care for them
I owe them
I pray for them
I wish them
I gift them
Then why long for cosmic life?


This is just to say, "Ajay, I am very, very sorry... even though you did not say a single word about it."

This is also to tell Ajay, "They are beautiful;" and ask him,"Why have you stopped writing them?"

Thank you, Ajay.


GERALD D'CUNHA












OUR WALLET OR THE BULLET...


Our impatience comes from our arrogance. Most of us are incredibly impatient.

I don’t have to say, we are incredibly arrogant.

But, we are also incredibly patient when it comes to our superiors: those before whom we realize we cannot spit our impatience. We act extra polite when we go to see our children’s school principals; we are very careful and respectful while dealing with the cops or the Tax officials; we don’t argue with our Priests… We, generally, obey them, simply; we are extra sweet to our co-passengers, the strangers, when we travel long distances… The boatman, who rows us to the other side of the river, is our angel… The mugger, who holds a gun and yells, “Your wallet or this bullet”, is also a good soul, for that moment. We do not show our impatience with them!

It is only with the ones who are close to our hearts, who are sweet to us… Yes, it is before them that we act funny… spit our acid, our impatience!

I am aware of this trait in my behavior… I, also, know how it feels when I am on the receiving end.

I just need to feel that the person before whom I spit my impatience - the one with whom I simply act acidic - is my boatman, or a mugger. That, my life is in his hands, right now – yes, when I am tempted to spit my impatience, my arrogance.

Inside the closed doors, we just can’t speak lovingly… though that is exactly the place where we need to be more loving. And, when we open the door for a neighbor, in whose good books we long to be, we are all lovey-dovey… So sweet, all of a sudden!

The choice is always between the wallet and the bullet. To sail safely across or to go down with the sinking boat. But, the choice is always there – to be loving or to be impatient!



LONG BEHIND...


Even the scary dream that I dream -
I do no not like to let go…
I want it!

Last night, I had a bad dream,
Which I couldn’t recollect this morning.
Well, I knew it was not a pleasant dream…
It was frightening!
Still, I was feeling annoyed while I was rising up this morning…
“What was that I was dreaming?”
I found myself asking in frustration,
“Why am I not able to recall this dream?”

The nightmares scare me,
As do my fears…
The fact that they have left me -
Often, I fail to notice…
I fail to notice the night gone long  behind!


GERALD D'CUNHA






 
 








I STILL BLAME...


I blame… I do it regularly. And, sometimes, I do it till the point I get completely exhausted… till it leaves me high and dry, as they say. It only makes the situation worse… Makes me feel bad about my own self… and, then, I blame myself: “Why did I do it?”

Blame is a game. And, this game doesn’t help. Neither me, nor the other person… nor the situation. 

It is an utter waste.

I know it; still I do it. Maybe, I do it not as often as I used to do, once. But, I do… I do blame.

The interesting part of it is this: whenever some people come to me after going through a heavy dose of this blame game – yes, when they come to me to ‘talk it out’ – I feel like telling them what Gandhiji had told that child’s mother, one day. The woman had gone to the noble man for seeking help. Her child ate a lot of jaggery and she wanted the Mahatma to convince her child to put an end to it. After listening to the woman’s problem, Gandhiji had asked her to see him after  fifteen days. “Bapu, why did you take such a long time to solve such a small problem?” Later, that lady had asked Gandhiji. “Because, my dear woman," Gandhiji had answered, "I wanted that time to first put an end to my own jaggery-eating habit!”

“Hello,” I tell these people who seek my help to put an end to their ‘blaming problem’, “You have come to a wrong person.” Then, I tell them the Gandhiji story. They smile… “Even the Mahatma ate jaggery… Even he took fifteen days to stop that habit!”

So, it is okay to play the blame game, sometimes. It is okay to ‘steal’ that jaggery and eat without being caught. It is okay to be such a Mahatma… who tried his best and hard to overcome his own flaws in life.

I am 53, now. I still blame…

And, I still help those who are left high and dry after playing this game.

GERALD D'CUNHA

ONE BLEEDS... ONE SHIELDS


Close to three hundred messages – of Diwali wishes – I must have sent for the last two days alone. Still, there are so many people, I must have left out… Not because, I care for them less… It is just that: I know, they wouldn’t care for me less, just because I have failed to wish them!

But, I may be wrong!

Let me confess this. I have, always, been my mom’s favorite son… And, when I say this, I say with all my honesty and humility. My four brothers, who love and respect me so much, know this, too… And, I am proud to say that they would never feel jealous of me – the way Joseph’s brothers did in the Old Testament!

Over thirty years ago, I had left my home town, Mangalore, to find my place in this dream city of Mumbai. My mom sat in the bus, next to me, and came all he way up to Udipi to see me off. All through that journey, she was crying. When she had to leave me and go back at Udipi, I felt like a young bride leaving her parents’ home. I can not forget that moment… My mom loved me so much!

Those were the days, we had to communicate only through letters. And, I did. But, then, there were times, I would fail to write to her for months together… And, what was amazing with my mother was that: she never complained about it. Her love for me never diminished just because, I did not write to her, regularly, reminding her how much I loved her. She knew I loved her… and, I knew she had faith in me. Tremendous amount of it!

I am saying this because, these are the days of cell phones and e-mails. Just with a click of a button, you are able to communicate with any one, however far, and at any time. Still, I haven’t spoken to my mom for nearly two months, now! No, I haven’t done it with any apathy or insensitivity… No, I haven’t done because I was too busy or too lazy. I have just done so, because – may be – I know my mom still loves me despite my failure. I know, she would calm me down the moment I say, “I am sorry mom,” with her magnanimous words, “Don’t you worry son; I understand.”

That’s how it has been… always… between my simple mom and her simple son!

Love has two sides to it. One bleeds, constantly… because, it is so tender, so sensitive, so vulnerable and dependant. The other shields like a Fort… because, it is so tough, so confident, so wise and self-reliant. I believe, for us to be loving and loved – both – we need to experience these two sides of Love. Love is predominantly a business of our hearts… That is why, it is so vulnerable, so dependent. But, it needs the support of our minds – our unclouded thinking, our wisdom. It is only when my heart is able to feel with all its tenderness what my mind thinks with all its wisdom… that I can safely say – “I know what Love is.”

Yes, Love is the most amazing gift I can ever dream of receiving. It makes my life meaningful, worthwhile and fills me with hope and happiness. It is only when I do not understand the truth that if the same gift makes me afraid, bitter, envious and helpless – to the point it doesn’t allow me to function confidently – then, I must examine as to what is wrong with the two sides of my Love.

I feel scared, jealous, helpless and low in my confidence, now and then. My mom too must be feeling the same. But, then, if I am able to feel that sate and able to communicate the same to our beloved ones, I think… I am in Love!

My mom. My wife. My son… or with YOU!

GERALD D'CUNHA


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

REMEMBERING THE GREAT...


They smoked Saddam Hussein out of a rat hole;
And when he was hanged, they also hanged for ever
This despot’s dark dreams of quarter of a century!


They dragged Colonel Gaddafi out of a drain pipe;
And when they  pumped those bullets into him,
They also blew off the false God
That dwelt in this eccentric...
For almost half a century!


Adolf Hitler thought he would rule the world…
The whole world, and forever;
Long, long before him,  Alexander-the-Great did,
Our own Ashoka-the-Great, too,  did.


The Sun did come down upon the British Empire;
The great Egyptian Empire lasted only for ‘three thousand years’…
Yes, only so much!
The dreaded Iron Curtain came down on the USSR…
Osama  Bin Laden was just wiped off, like a fly…


They don’t call Henry Ford
As the ‘Richest man on Earth’, any more;
Nor do they hail Marilyn Monroe
As the most desirable woman ever lived.
Rolls Royce is no longer the most expensive car on earth,
Nor Marlon Brando remains the most expensive actor.


Well, what makes me remember, today,
All these ‘Great’ men and women?



HAPPINESS


I do not understand
Why, so often, I  search for happiness there - ‘outside’…
In another person,
In another place,
In another job,
In another moment…
And, in another life.


I do not understand
Why don’t I find happiness ‘here – ‘inside’…
In my own heart,
In this very place,
In this very job,
In this very moment…
And, in this very life, itself.

GERALD D'CUNHA

JUST BEING THERE...


My 19-year-old son has come home for a short Diwali vacation. For the last two nights, he has been working on some creative piece with his laptop and pad. I sat beside him for quite some time watching the way he went about creating magic with his talent. I don’t remember saying much as I sat there, except a few things, here and there, showing my genuine curiosity. I made tea for him… and prepared his bed too as he went about his work. Then, I sat there, beside. Then, I fell asleep. Then, I woke up. Then, I fell asleep… But, I wanted to be there. Just beside him. 


Some two days earlier, the day he had arrived from Pune, I sat with him till late into night. He put around me his headphone and guided me through all his favorite music videos. All of them were amazing… and, thoughtfully, he was exciting me with such videos he knew his dad would love. I did. In fact, I was hooked on to them, and he kept showing me more and more, though it was late, and though I had to leave early the next morning.  I felt extremely happy to be doing what would make both of us happy, that night


My brother Rony, who lives in Kuwait, is a very gifted singer. I remember encouraging him to be a good singer right from the time when he was a small boy. I would keep motivating him, support him and even coax him. It took some time for me to realize that I was doing this to Rony, because that gave me huge fulfillment. In Rony’s success, I saw my own… When he failed, I too felt the pain. I would talk about Rony’s singing talent to every one around, even to strangers. 


One day, just after our marriage, my wife and I were returning from a place called Kudremukh to our native-place home. A stranger had offered us, the newly-wed, a lift. The gentleman was a gracious soul… loved to talk a lot… asked many questions and apparently was very fond of music and songs. When I told proudly about my brother Rony’s singing talent, he immediately said, “I must meet him; I must listen to his songs.” 


I quickly agreed to take him home once we reached our destination. It was night; when we all landed, Rony wasn’t at home. After a while, when he came, I excitedly and proudly introduced Rony to the stranger and told him why the gentleman was there. I asked Rony to sing some of his songs for this stranger. 


Rony politely refused!


For a while, I couldn’t understand what was happening. I was embarrassed and, even, angry. Somehow, the man was gracious enough to downplay the issue, and after some snacks and tea, he bid us good-bye. He sincerely shook Rony’s hands and wished him well, as he left.


Again, it took some years for me to understand, why I had no business to manipulate Rony like that… Even though, I was his mentor, and even though I was a father-figure for him. Yes, he was right. He felt suffocated with such ‘exhibition’ of his singing. That night, he was not in a frame of mind at all to sing. And, I was asking him to sing for my own reasons!


Rony loves me a lot as I too do. He openly proclaims that he would not have done all that without me, my support. He knows, I love him sing… He knows the kind of songs I like… and, whenever he is with us, he sings them for me… without I asking for them. He knows, I like them; so, he sings.

But, that night, he knew, I was trespassing into his ‘space’. And, he did communicate that feeling by politely refusing to sing before the stranger.


My son creates his beautiful work… because, he knows I love it, too. My sitting beside him, as his beholder, means a lot to him, to his self-confidence. My making tea or bed for him… My just sitting, falling asleep, again opening my eyes… and, then, again closing them… Yes, all these mean a lot to him.


I am aware of the fact that I should not step into my son’s ‘zone’… his personal space… And, though he is just my son - and though without my support, he might not have done all his creative work… Yes, my son creates those beautiful things just because, I am not trying to manipulate him… Just the way he puts around me his headphone to say, “Dad, here are the videos, I know you love.”


Love is beautiful, when we don’t try to manipulate… 





THEY REVEAL US...


Do circumstances in our life ‘change’ us? 

I remember reading in some book, “They reveal us.”

Yes, as they say, the only thing that is ‘constant’ in our life is ‘change’, our circumstances. Everything - from our financial condition to relationships, from our physical condition to our spiritual inclinations – yes, everything undergoes a constant change. And, with this change, we change, too. 

Yes, circumstances in our life do change us. Sometimes for the better, and sometimes, for the worse. But, we do change.

Yesterday, I met someone after many, many years. He was not able to recognize me at all; nor was I. After a while, both of us succeeded. “You have changed completely… I remember your ‘Sai Baba hair… Your tight jeans… You were so thin,” this man told me. “All gone, sir; now this is me,” I expressed light-heartedly. “And, this is me,” he showed me his pot belly. 

Just a couple of days before that, I happened to meet a lady after, again, several years. “You are the same Gerry… Your have not changed a bit,” she burst out. “That’s good, no ma’am?” I asked. “Of course, it is,” she declared.

All this change – or no change - had come about in a span of less than twenty years. 

When that man and I met, we were trying to remember each other by our hippie and afro-hair, or by our jeans and bell-bottoms, or by the size of our bellies. These things had changed beyond recognition… It was evident.

On the other hand, when that lady met me, we were trying to remember each other by the gentleness of our speech, by the warmth of our handshakes… by the freshness of our smiles. Perhaps, these things had not changed, we both sensed it instantly.

Last evening, my wife had visited one of her colleagues’ house. The mother-in-law was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and was placed in one of the rooms in their bungalow. When my wife went inside to see this 80-some lady, it was difficult for my wife to believe that it was the same lady she had seen, in the same house, about two years ago! That was the time, the old lady was in charge of the affairs of not only their house but also their flourishing business. She was a five-ten-tall figure, and a very articulate, very gracious lady. Now, she had shrunken into a pigmy figure and all that she did was to sit in her bed only showing some movement of her tongue. No memory, no speech, nothing… all dead, for all practical reasons. All this change… in not even two years!

I do not know about me. Another couple of years from now, God alone knows… what it will be! Perhaps, some might write a piece on the similar subject… Might ask the same question: “Do circumstances in our life ‘change’ us?”

I, somehow, agree with that author who wrote: “They reveal us.”


GERALD D'CUNHA
  


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

THE SPARKLE



Let your left hand not know, what your right hand gives.”  The teachings of Jesus Christ are so simple. Yet, so tough!


Tomorrow is Diwali. Both at my residential and commercial complex, there are several security men, there is house-keeping staff, there are gardeners, Club-House staff, postmen, milkmen, paperwalas, housemaids and even the courier boys. Every one expects a ‘small something’ – a little Diwali bonus – from all of us. Yes, once in a year… It is Diwali.


I give all of them a ‘small something’, every year. And, I see the sparkle in their eyes, every time I do that, before they ask for it, before they knock on my door. “You think, they will be more hard-working and loyal to you, if you give like that?” a man, who never gives, asked me, once. “I just want to give,” I told him. “They are thankless; they will throw your bonus in the country joints,” he added. “I do not know; I only know it is Diwali,” I said.


Another man gives like me, always, every year. But, he makes a big noise about it… He wants every one to know that he gives… When a watchman or a house-keeping person annoys him, he abuses them reminding them about the ‘bonus’ that he had given them. That’s the way he wants his ‘Giving’ to be.


This old house-keeping lady has been there working in my office for the last twenty years. Yes, the same lady, for the last twenty years! I give her that ‘small something’, every year, and she accepts is so gracefully, without a word. Never in twenty years, has she cribbed about her salary or bonus. Maybe, because, I have always done whatever I have done without she asking for it. And, what I have done, given her, is all ‘small’. Every Diwali, she brings some home-made Diwali sweets and I do accept them gracefully. I like the chewda she brings; and, yesterday, I told her that, once again. I saw the sparkle in the old lady’s eyes. “My boss likes the chewda I make at home,” Her eyes said that!


Giving is a spiritual experience. It is a fine prayer. If my heart gives joyfully, it prepares itself to receive. I am able to experience the bliss of the gifts I receive in my life – my bonuses – only when I am able to first experience the bliss of giving… and, giving it joyfully, with no stings attached.


There is so much of waste happening in our homes - Food, eatables, clothes, utensils, medicines, cosmetics, footwear, uniforms, cutlery, books and so many small little things… Our hands, generally, don’t reach out to them… We don’t give away these ‘unwanted’ things to our watchmen or maids, so easily. We calculate, we judge, we hesitate, we doubt, we wait… and we hold back… Finally, one day, we throw these things out into our dustbins.  Stale. 


Even if they get rotten, it is okay… But, give away we won’t!


It is Diwali… The time for our hears to sparkle.


GERALD D'CUNHA



Monday, October 24, 2011

I WILL CHANGE, BECAUSE...


People don’t change just because I want them to. I haven’t changed just because some one wanted me to…. Even if that ‘some one’ is a significant person in my life.

We all change, because - we want to. If we don’t want to, we won’t. 

The significant people in our life are funny people… Their ways of changing us are funny: Crib about us, till we hate them… Yell at us, till we throw things… Criticize us, till we lose all our confidence and stand before them with our heads down, like donkeys… and, even blackmail us emotionally, till the drama ends with some unpredictable tragedy…

But, we will not change!

Some years ago, in one of our Workshops, the facilitator gave an interesting example. It was taken from the slums… very common place, it appeared to all of us. The man comes home, rather to the living hell. The woman is waiting for him to come, and starts her cribbing… yelling… throwing things… and blackmailing drama…. For hours on… till the point: the man holds her hair and start hammering the obsessed woman. “There you go… There you show your real species!” the woman, now, keeps crying. 

The issue now is: “I am like this because you are an animal… You hammer me.”

“The woman sub-consciously wanted that to happen, wanted the man to show his real species – that he was a ‘cruel animal’,” our facilitator told us, “It was her self-fulfilling prophecy.”

If we keep cribbing, yelling, criticizing and throwing tantrums, we will get in return only that: ‘our real animal side.'

Our ‘human side’ needs none of these dumb methods. Unfortunately, the significant people in our life – do not realize this. We do the same thing that we see in slums… We end up acting and reacting in the same manner. 

Change happens when we are ‘touched’… by hearts. It needs the ‘space’ to happen… A great deal of trust, a great deal of patience… and it needs us to get in touch with our own ‘obsessive behavior’.

I change because I am able to empathize with my significant people. Often, they do so through their own conditioning: their fears, insecurities and their upbringings… through the importance they have laid on the Social Mirror. Now, I can not do a lot about it. Yelling back at them is like yelling back at the stone. Perhaps, the empathy can help. “Why do they act the way they do?” 

So, it is about my change. Not theirs. When the roles change – i.e., whenever we tend to succumb to such silly methods of trying to change others, all that is needed of us is this: Trust, Love… and be Compassionate. And, BE THE CHANGE THAT WE SEEK IN OTHERS!

GERALD D'CUNHA





THE TIME OF MY LIFE


Just the last night, I told someone who cares for me:
“I am having the time of my life!”
And, the person said, so spontaneously:
“Dear, I am so happy for you!”


Then, I began to wonder:
Why is it so difficult for me to feel so… for all my ‘life time’?


I am on the top of the mountain, right now…
That’s my ‘life time'…
Yes, ‘Now’…


I am so happy for me,
That, I am having the time of my life…
I am happy,
That, this IS my ‘life time’!


GERALD D'CUNHA



Sunday, October 23, 2011

THE DISTANCE


It is only from such distance,
The Sun looks so glorious…
I need this distance to admire the Sun!


It is only from such distance,
I realize what a supreme gift Life is…
I need this distance to appreciate this endowment.


It is only from such distance,
My dear ones seem so sweet…
I need this distance to experience this sweetness.


GERALD D'CUNHA

EXPRESSWAY



I am on this Expressway…
Now.


My life has been, always, this way…
First, slow, very slow…
Then, fast, very fast…
Once again, very, very slow.


Though I love the expanse of these lush meadows,
I am awed by the might of the distant mountains…
And the silence of their valleys.
Though I fear the darkness of these tunnels,
I am moved by the light promised at their end.


And though I do not like the twists and turns these passes offer…
I respect the truth: Even the great passes have to pass…
To take me to the ‘other side’… my ‘Promised Land’.
I look down, deep below, and feel how small I am,
And I look out, far away, and feel how near I am!
I am inspired by this aloneness, this silence…
This passage of my life…
This amazing Life!


Even the gentle breeze that comes from the ravine…
Comes to remind me this:
Someone, miles and miles afar, is thinking about me,
Yes, now, as I take this breath!


I look outside and wipe away my smiling tears…


Wow, this Life!
What a Gift… What a Journey… What a Blessing!


“Thank you,” my heart says…
To this Expressway.


GERALD D'CUNHA

Friday, October 21, 2011

TELL ME SOMETHING NEW...


I am invited to conduct a two-hour Workshop on ‘Time Management’ to a group of youngsters tomorrow. My good friend, Mr. Uday, has organized this Workshop (For MINDFLEX/ MUSIC GURUKUL) and also sent me some material on the subject.

I haven’t seen the material, yet.

These are just youngsters, of 15 to 20 age group. Their world orbits around their Schools and Colleges… their tuition classes, some special classes like Computer, Dance or Drawing, some Entrance-exam classes like CET/CPT/CAT, or even these Self-Growth Workshops. Not to forget their Blackberry and Face book friends… For some, it is TV or sports… or just hanging around, yes, just for the bliss of it. Oh yes, for those who are lucky (or, doomed?), it is their boy friends or girl friends! But, that IS their world… the world around which the lives of these young adults orbit.

I have passed through that world. My 19-year-old son passes through, now. 

So, what will I tell these kids, tomorrow? Should I prepare notes from the material sent by Mr. Uday – may be from the famous books - ‘First Things First’ and ‘Seven Habits…’ of Stephen Covey? Should I remind them, “You young ones, remember… Time is very important… Manage it before it manages you.”?

“I know it, dad!” is always my son’s reaction whenever I try to remind him about the above ‘truth’. So, he ‘knows the truth’. If my son already ‘knows’ this truth… these kids of his age must, most certainly, be ‘knowing’ this truth, too. 

“Tell me something new, something I do not know… something as exciting as my Blackberry or Face book friends … or my girlfriend?” This has been, always, my challenge while dealing with my own son. This, also, had been the challenge I had posed before my own simple parents, years and years ago… Yes, when I was their young son. “Dad, tell me something new... something as exciting as my Blackberry friends.”

The only difference, I can think of - between these kids and kids my time - is: our blackberries grew in the jungle, ample of them, all free… and, our books were ‘faceless’. There was no difference, however, between the girlfriends!

Well kids, let’s be serious. There may not be anything ‘new’ in what I have to say. For, Life’s joy lies in finding ‘newness’ in the ‘old’… Finding sublime wisdom in what looks like the mundane. To see the beauty of a flower on my wayside, my eyes will not be enough, I need my heart… I need to pause. I need to keep my Blackberry aside, to meet my real friend… I have to come out of the Face book to ‘visit’ my friend.

Time is important… and, it is short. It is only 24 hours for all of us – yes from Obama to Osama… From Bill Gates to the one who sits outside that roadside mandir,  with the begging bowl! My heroes - Jesus Christ, Gandhi and Steve Jobs – they all had only so much… And, I can not expect a second more than that. Man went to the Moon or he goes to the asylum… Man made Concordes or he brings down the Twin Towers… all these men, yes all these men, did  and do - whatever they did and do -  in just twenty-four hours. 

My day has just that… Only twenty-four hours! If I don’t manage it well, and wisely, I will be managed by Time… I should be prepared to land at a place… not of my choice.

Yes, there are so many things that come and stare before me every time I decide to complete a task. Yes, so many distractions. Don’t I become aware of this reality? From this awareness, comes my choice to say ‘yes’ to those things that help me complete my task , or say ‘no’ to those things that distract, steer me away form my goal. It is as simple as that. When my exam is tomorrow, my hanging around with my friends can wait. When my mobile-bill due date is tomorrow, shopping for a new jeans can wait. These are priorities in my daily life… and, to set them right, I don't have to be some Rocket Scientist.  I must just do now what is important… and what is not important can wait.

Every task can be performed with planning… with least amount of stress and anxiety. When I keep postponing what is 'important but not urgent' at this stage, I must be prepared to face the same tomorrow as a monster called: Crisis. It has, now,  become ‘urgent and important.’ 

So, as Stephen Covey says, so beautifully, the key does lie in recognizing what is  ‘important but not urgent’ in our lives… and, keep doing them now… and, do them out of our ‘conscious choice’…. And, joyfully. That’s all.

And, believe me. There is a direct and definite link between doing our daily tasks with such beauty and the quality of our Self-esteem. When we postpone, it creates anxiety… and it eats up our well-being. We feel low. On the other hand, when we do now, what is ‘important but not urgent’, we feel strong, in charge of ourselves… We feel good about ourselves.

We do not like see our lives controlled by our circumstances, our Fate. Yet, we allow ourselves to be in that state by not managing our priorities well, and abusing our limited time. 

I would love to tell all you young kids – and my son – hey, enjoy your life. Don’t be too serious as a dead man. Have your Blackberries, your Face book and your G or B friends, too. But, if any of these creates havoc in your life, at your home, then, be sensible. Ask, “What is important?” “Is it worth it?” And, having all those things still makes you feel good about yourself, does not distract you, does not create a hell at home – then, that is perfectly fine. Have the cake and relish, too.

But, my dear young friends, I still repeat this: Just do things the way that would make you feel good about yourself. And, make those who care for you and love you – proud.

In the end, it is all about a healthy Self-esteem. Die to own it in your life…  And, I bet, you will not need people like me – or Stephen Covey – to teach you how to manage your time. Or, even Life.

Wishing you well in life… 

With my love.


GERALD D'CUNHA



THE WIND BENEATH MY WINGS...


The first thing I have been doing these days, the moment I step into my office, is to visit my own blog… Read, edit, write or comment. 

There are days – in fact, months – I may not touch my blog. And, there are days, like now, I just can’t live and breathe without it. 

But, then, why do I do it? I get no money by all this. I get no mileage through any publicity. Though I have lots of my well-wishers, who keep reading what I write, they  (Like I my self do for others) don’t send any comments… And, I do not have any cheerleaders at home to pump me to go on. Still, every morning, and sometimes for long hours, I keep being by myself… by my blog.

Long before this blog thing came about, I would keep doing the same on my diaries… on old envelopes, on torn sheets… I would write the same way… But, I don’t remember writing them for any one or for any thing. I would just keep writing… and for years on. I have dozens of those diaries and hundreds of such sheets and envelopes. 

Yes, sometimes, when I do all this, I forget my hunger, I forget my sleep. I even forget to pay my bills!

They say, any thing that you do without being told – and do it without caring for money, fame or position – is your calling in life, your vocation. How, true! There are so many things in my life, I just do reluctantly… just because of some compulsions… and I know how I feel doing them, what kind of quality it wears… and, what it does to my self-esteem. I may console myself justifying that ‘I have to do them, any way.” But, that doesn’t change the way I feel about myself.

Just two days ago, one of my very dear students so lovingly sent this message: 

“Sir, I loved what you wrote, today.
It was so amazing.
I keep wondering how do you do it,
again and again, every day… But, you do it!
Sir, never ever stop writing.
We need them… I need them.
Thank you for being there.”

  
 It was late night. Some one was going to bed touched by what I had written that day. And, I was
going to bed touched by that satisfaction, that joy.

If the first thing I do when I start my day can make me so peaceful when I end my day, then, I 
should keep doing what I do. 

Thank you dear, for being there!


GERALD D'CUNHA

Thursday, October 20, 2011

THE SAME HUNGER


The need is the same…
The same hunger,
The same thirst,
And, the same longings.


“MAN, ” they call me… “The one, who we can go to.”


“Come,” I tell them.
“I have the same needs… 
The same hunger,
The same thirst…
And, the same longings.”


They come… to me
And, I go… to them!


GERALD D'CUNHA

OUR HAIR, OUR HEELS AND OUR GROINS...


Samson, the strongest man in the Old Testament, was not supposed to lose his hair. For, with the loss of hair, he would lose his strength… He would fall. Samson lynched the fieriest of the lions in a wink, he destroyed army of mighty men… he could bring down the gigantic temple by pulling down its pillars, killing with it not only himself but hundreds of his enemies. No one knew the secret of his strength… not even the beautiful Delilah with whom he had fallen madly in love. Finally, when he told her that his strength lay in his long hair, uncut since birth, he didn’t know he was nearing his end. Delilah had betrayed him… The enemies came and cut his hair in his sleep. Then, they blinded him… and dragged him away as their captive. 
 
Yes, even the mighty man Samson had a weak spot!

The Greek hero – the invincible warrior of the Trojan War – Achilles had a weak spot, too. No one knew it till his end came. When he was born, as told by the Mystics, Achilles’ mother had dipped her new-born in the holy river. But, the heel, by which he was held, had not been touched by the holy water… and, hence it remained, all his life, his weak spot. His vulnerable area. In the end, when it was impossible for any of his enemies to defeat him, it was the timid Paris, who knew how to do it. He shot the poisonous arrow into Achilles’ heel. And, the valiant man came crashing down!

For Duryodhana, the tallest of all the Kauravas, it was his thigh, rather his groins. And, none other than Lord Krishna knew it. The strong man, Bhim, had struggled for days, without any success, to defeat Duryadhana. It was a long-drawn battle, Bhim looking all lost. Just then, came in Krishna - gesturing Bhim to hit Duryodhana below his waist - at his groins, his thighs. That was it. The end of Duryodhana. The last man to die in the battlefield of Kurukshetra, as it is written.

We all are strong men in our own ways. We fight our Trojan Wars, in our own Kurukshetras. We do seem invincible, strong… to the world. But, then, it is only those closest to us who know our vulnerable spots – our hair, our heels and our groins. It is, therefore, for them to protect us, our strengths.

I wonder, whether my mother had held me by my heart while she was dipping me in the holy river!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

ONLY LIMITED SEATS...


For the last one week, I have been receiving on my cell phone this message: 

“Want to TRANSFORM your life? Want to be Healthy, Wealthy and Happy? Join our LIFE-TRANSFORMING two-day Workshop on…… at an unbelievable price Rs…….! Call, right now, Miss…..  on …….. to avoid disappointment. Only limited seats!”

Believe me, for one full week, at least three times a day, this message has been reminding me ‘Only limited seats’!

The best part is that: the person who is going to ‘transform our lives’ knows me, personally. But, he finds nothing wrong in selling his Workshop like that!

Am I jealous of a competitor?

I have nothing to do with such competition. I feel pity for such things!

Yes, Life can ‘transform’ even in two seconds… And, all free of cost. One doesn’t need a ‘Miracle Man’ like me – or this man who sends me the message – to carry out this mission. 

When we have our intentions clear, the Universe conspires with us. I use the word ‘conspires’ to convey that the Universe becomes my partner in my mission. Hoping that, it will not present me in bad taste, I would like to justify this belief of mine. 

I did not have any plans to conduct any Personal-Growth programme during this Diwali vacation. Just yesterday, something triggered off my wish, and I thought I should go for one. I am late in announcing this. But, my past experience has always taught me this: If you make your wish known and keep your intentions clean and straight… the Universe joins you as your partner and you succeed in your mission. I have. Over and over again.

So, I felt a very compelling urge to go ahead. Trust me, within a span of two hours, yesterday itself, I received five phone calls – all out of nowhere – asking me if I would conduct any programmme this vacation. I had not made a single call. Not spoken to a single person. I had only made my wish known to myself… and kept my intentions neat. Money wasn’t so important; I knew, it would come…. Fame too was immaterial; I knew, good work would speak for itself… It would spread.

Our anxiety, always, spoils things for us. Life is truly abundant… and, we need to simply trust. Trust in the benevolent Universe. That is why, all beautiful things happen, when there is least effort. In the sense, when we cease our efforts propelled by our fear and lack of trust. When these beautiful things materialize, we call them ‘miracles’. They, in deed, transform our lives. 

The Sun gives light to all of us, and the sky is there to provide a canopy, too. And, they are all there, free of cost!


GERALD D'CUNHA



ACTUALLY...


Actually, just two chapatis and a spoon of vegetables,
Or a cup of rice and some daal on it…
Yes, that’s all that is required to satisfy my hunger.
A few glasses of water will take care of my thirst.
A mat or a simple bed, a pillow, a sheet -
That’s enough for my night’s sleep.
A decent home, some decent clothes, some decent income,
A decent family, some decent friends and a decent behavior …
That’s all needed to be a fine social human being.
And, oh, yes… I need that decent self-esteem
To remind me that I am fine with a few decent things…
I don’t need too much…
Not at all…

GERALD D'CUNHA





THE BEAUTY OF BEING DIFFERENT...


Several years ago, I used do rounds to Sanjay’s house. He and his five friends were learning from me when they were in T.Y. B’Com. What I still remember about this house is: they would never ever keep their two hall-room doors (Ground floor flat) closed. It was the classic ‘Open House’… Anybody could come, and any body could go… and, at any time. All were welcome... and, all the time.  Needless to say, there was a real buzz, round the clock.

My challenge was: “How can I teach these big fellows in this ‘market place’?” So, we had to settle in one of their rooms inside. Even there, it was difficult for me to concentrate!

Sanjay and his two brothers, now, live in different localities with their own respective families. Whenever I happen to meet Sanjay, I ask him: “Do you still keep your doors open like that?”

“Yes, sir, we still do,” Sanjay tells me with pride, “All my brothers, too.”

Then, I ask him, “No thief has ever entered your house?”

“Never,” Sanjay tells me with emphasis, “They only enter the closed homes.”

Well, that is scary for my ears! For, my house is exactly the opposite. If the hall-room door is open, I am too shy to eat on our dining table. Shorts and sleeveless make me self-conscious. I speak in whispers. The TV goes mute and the radio goes off the air. Our curtains fall much before the darkness does… and, I keep reminding every one around, it is night time! Yes, there are thieves around!

Well, though Sanjay tells so, no thieves have entered, so far, my ‘Closed home’. Even then, I prefer the door of my hall room closed. “It is my personal space… I like it this way,” I find telling myself.

I have a very dear friend who loves to drink coffee with me every time he is in my office. “You make excellent coffee,” he says, “I love it here.”

But, what baffles me is: he likes it ice cold and I like it coal hot! I have tried desperately to be courteous and keep pace with him. But, it is frustrating to do so. I finish my coffee even before he is hardly two sips down! “I am so sorry, my friend,” I express my regret genuinely. “It’s fine; you don’t have to be,” he reassures me.

We ARE great friends… and, that’s so beautiful!

I don’t think, Sanjay and his brothers will feel suffocated in my house, if they appreciate the fact that I am a beautiful soul even though I prefer to remain private behind my closed hall-room door. Likewise, I will not be suffocated in Sanjay’s house, if I truly appreciate the fact that they love it that way.

Maybe, because we are able to appreciate this difference – this SPACE – God has protected both our homes. Nobody has dared to rob us off that beauty… of being different, yet good.

GERALD D'CUNHA