Tuesday, December 31, 2013

PLEASE DON'T GIVE UP...














Pic.: Neerja Panchal



If you ask me, today, as the curtain comes down on 2013, what would be my one prayer before God, I would reply, without even stopping for my next breath:

“Lord, help me remain grateful, hopeful and cheerful.”

In fact, in life, what else does matter?

To wait for the problems in my life to get over in order to celebrate life, is being ignorant about life… As long as my life exists, my problems exist. So, to plead God to do away my problems is totally a wasteful exercise on my part…

Perhaps, “Lord, give me strength, give me courage, give me wisdom… to handle my problems, to carry by share of burden in life,” yes, this seems to be a more sensible prayer…

The more I look back on my years, the more I get convinced, that my problems have come and gone just as the clouds do in the sky… I get more and more convinced, that just as we should not lose faith in the bright Sun, who is momentarily covered by the Smokey clouds, we should not lose faith in the bright wisdom concealed behind the fog of our daily problems in life…

“My friend, just hang on there… Hang on for a while,” the voice seems to come from behind the dark clouds…

“Yes, pay heed, my friend…”

So, today, as we all are set to walk into one more year – a new-year -  let’s sing this inspiring song along with the amazing singer, Josh Groban:






"You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)"

Don't give up
It's just the weight of the world
When your heart's heavy
I...I will lift it for you

Don't give up
Because you want to be heard
If silence keeps you
I...I will break it for you

Everybody wants to be understood
Well I can hear you
Everybody wants to be loved
Don't give up
Because you are loved

Don't give up
It's just the hurt that you hide
When you're lost inside
I...I will be there to find you

Don't give up
Because you want to burn bright
If darkness blinds you
I...I will shine to guide you

Everybody wants to be understood
Well I can hear you
Everybody wants to be loved
Don't give up
Because you are loved

You are loved
Don't give up
It's just the weight of the world
Don't give up
Every one needs to be heard
You are loved




With  love and prayer in my heart, I wish you all a really, really bright and happy new-year… May God give you strength, courage and wisdom to feel you are loved…



Please don’t give up! 




GERALD D’CUNHA
Video courtesy:YouTube

Monday, December 30, 2013

LIFE IN 2013... AND LIFE IN 2014























Pic.: Amrita Jeurkar



on my way back from the bank, I just saw a couple of young-kids preparing the ‘old-man’. These young kids, literally, live on the streets… Their shanties are built right along the roads and, they have nothing as their roof except some torn plastic sheets… This is biting cold these days, and I see them sleeping at night outside their shanties, right on the open streets…practically, half naked… leave alone the blankets and thick sheets!

So, today, when I just saw those young kids stuffing in the old-man’s body with whatever they could lay their hands on, I know, that they, too, are excited as I am to burn behind their past and embrace with hope and open arms the New-Year to come…

Yes, like me, they, too, have hopes and dreams…

Like me, they, too, expect a bright and prosperous New-Year…

Like me, they, too, want to celebrate the coming of New-Year…

Will the New-Year be bright and prosperous? Or, will it be just one more year… just the way the fading year has been?

Every time I walk into a new place or a new-year, I do that with hope and prayer… If I really want to
see a new place, a new-year… and savor a new experience,  then, I need to leave behind what is ‘old’, what is ‘junk’, what is not required – in fact, what is harmful, destructive and crippling… Yes, I need to burn the ‘old-man’, in the true sense…

Not just as a ritual, not because everyone else is doing so…

For, “wherever we go, we do carry ourselves.”... That includes the coming year, too… The New-Year… 2014!

I would like to bring you this Post which I had first published in December, 2012… Whether we change places or years, I seriously think, it makes no difference… We do carry ourselves wherever we go…






  LIFE IN THE MOUNTAINS... LIFE IN THE VALLEYS



Last night, when I boarded an auto to go home, there was a middle-aged man waiting for the bus. I asked him if I could drop him anywhere on my way. He got in, happily. Once in, I enquired where he worked and where he lived. He lived quite close to our Society… and, he worked as a security guard under some security agency. For the next ten minutes, till we reached home, this man kept narrating to me about the ‘exploitations’ made by the Security agencies of their guards. This man said that he had been changing agencies, almost, every two months… as he was made to work more than twelve hours a day for peanuts… Then, there was no weekly holiday given to him… He was asked to work on shifts, randomly… He had a family – two young girls, an ailing wife and, he was unable to pull through all that he was going through…

I heard him out, with all my sympathies… What else could I do? He was a stranger… and I knew that, by all probability, I might not meet him again. 
It was the end of my day as it was his, too… We both were coming back home… Both of us had worked very, very hard… We were tired and tensed. Both of us were looking forward to spending some relaxed time with our respective families…
And, this morning, I had left for work about 7.45. I got into the waiting auto… This man was quite an aged man. I felt the positive vibration the moment I boarded. “Aayiye saab, baitiye; namashkar, he greeted me, “Achch jayega aaj ka din!”
I was immediately turned on! 

I did not know this man… Yes, a stranger he was. And, even before I could say a word, he made me feel so good about myself: “Sir, you are a good soul… It is my privilege and good fortune to ferry you across. I am blessed. Thank you!”… Well, this was the hidden message of his simple words: “Aaayiye saab, baitiye; namashkar… Achch jayaga aaj ka din!”

For the next ten minutes, till I reached my office place, yes, once again, I allowed the stranger to speak…

By the time, I reached my workplace, I was charged!

This stranger told me that he would return home only at 9 in the night… He had a family… an ailing wife and two married children - a daughter and a son… three school-going grandchildren… He told me that his wife had high diabetes… but, he was happy!

Happy that he could still work for such long hours… Happy that he could marry off his daughter to a decent family… Happy that he could graduate his son… Happy that his grandchildren could study in English medium schools… Happy that he could meet the cost of his wife’s medicines through his own earnings… and, very importantly, he was happy that he was able to look forward to each day that came along!

Once, a traveler was walking from a village in the mountains to a village in the valley.

On his way, he saw an elderly man working in a field. “Sir, I am on my way to the village in the valley,” the traveler said to the elderly man, “can you please tell me how is life like in that village?”

The elderly man looked up to the traveler and asked, “Where are you coming from?”

“From the village in the mountains, sir?” the traveler replied.

“How was life like, out there?” asked the elderly man.

“Horrible sir, just horrible!” complained the traveler without even blinking. “None of them could understand what I spoke… Their food was disgusting… They made me sleep on the floor…and, that’s why I am out of that place… I would never ever see that place again!”

“Well, then, my friend, the life in the new village for you will be the same!” said the elderly man to the young traveler, and went about his field work!

Some hours later, another traveler happened to see the elderly man in the field. He too was on his way from the village in the mountains to the village in the valley. When he saw the elderly man, he asked the same question to the elderly man: “Sir, I am on my way to the village in the valley. Can you please tell me, how is life like, in that village?”

And, the elderly man had the same reply to the young traveler: “Tell me, where are you  coming from?”

“From the village in the mountains, sir.”

“How was life like, out there?”

“Fabulous sir, just fabulous! Imagine, we could not understand each-other’s language… So, we used all the possible ways to express and understand each other… It was sheer fun… Then, the food that they served was absolutely different… I realized how tough it was for them to live in the mountains… It made me tough too, a lot humble and grateful… The people were poor but had a big heart… Sleeping on the floor was luxurious… I have left that place a lot richer and wiser… I will miss it for long!”

“Then, my young friend, the life in the new village for you will be the same!”

How will be life like, today, at my workplace?

How was it like, last night, at my home?

How will be life like, this night, at home?

How was it like, today, at my workplace?



How will be life like in the new-year, 2014?

How was it like in the old-year, 2013?



Yes sir, 

“Wherever we go… 

we carry ourselves!”



GERALD D’CUNHA

Saturday, December 28, 2013

ROOH MEIN FAASLE NAHI HOTE...



















Pic.: Neerja Panchal

I did not know who Heath Andrew Ledger was until my son told me about him. It was through my son’s highly-charged recounting of the legend of ‘the Joker’ – the character Heath Ledger made immortal and left behind as his enduring legacy - that I was inspired to watch all the Batman movies with my son. Let me tell you, I truly realized why my young son, and millions like him, were so spellbound – almost numbed – by the untimely death of Heath Ledger, barely days before the release of his amazing film!

Did Heath Ledger know what a stellar performance he had given in his last movie?

A similar thought had passed through my mind when Yash Chopraji passed away after putting his heart and soul into his last movie – ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’…

What a title? Just think about it… Till my last breath! Yes, till my last breath, I shall endeavor to do what my heart longs to… and, I will do it with all the passion in the world!

I really loved the movie… and, one reason for that was the passion of this never-say-old romanticist… a genius… called Yash Chopra!

Did Yashji know he would not be there around to witness his last baby – his last dream?

And, today morning, when I first learnt about the death of Farooque Sheikh, I literally became numb!

Just a month ago, my wife and I had watched his last movie – ‘Club 60’ – and we both had thoroughly enjoyed it. We had laughed and cried through the movie, and, come home, especially, raving about the performances by Farooque and Sarika…

In the movie, Dr. Tarique (Farooque Sheikh) is a reputed neuro surgeon and his wife, Dr. Sayra (Sarika), too is a doctor. They are well-settled in Pune with a flourishing profession and a happy family. Now, all this changes, almost with the speed of a lightening, when their only son, who has just left for his studies to the US, dies in the shooting at the Denver movie-hall… Incidentally, the gunman’s diabolic act has been inspired by the madness of the Joker!

The world of the doctor-couple crumbles, all of a sudden… They go into a deep depression… which drives them fold up their flourishing business in Pune, sell off their assets and come to the city of Mumbai, to live in a house they had bought for their lost son…

But, life is dead for them, now!

Though Sarika regains her hold and starts working in a hospital, Farooque is unable to get out of his acute depression…

It is during this time, the funny fellow – a resident of their new building called – Mannu bhai (Raghuvir Yadav) comes into their lives and makes them join his peculiar club called – ‘Club 60’. Mannu bhai introduces four of his 60-plus friends – each one of them has a tragic story behind their now freaky-funny life… In the company of these ‘five grown-up-idiots’, Farooque slowly and steadily learns to love life, all over again…

Learns to laugh…

Learns to look forward…

Learns to let go…

Learns to live, love...

Yes, all over again.

So, today, as I got the news of Farooque Sheikh’s death due to heart attack, the first thing I asked was: “Did he know it would be his last brilliant performance?”


The songs in the movie and their lyrics are so beautiful… Two of them are my favorites:
 
Khokar maine aaj tumhe paaya hai… 
Fir se mere saath mera saaya hai…
 



And: 
Rooh mein faasle nahi hote...
Kaash hum tum mile nahin hote...




Life is beautiful…

This Post is in memory of this beautiful actor, and an amazing human being – Farooque Sheikh…





GERALD D’CUNHA

Video courtesy: YouTube


Friday, December 27, 2013

THE STORY OF OUR SORROW










  







Pics.: Mehul Bhuva
I just read this Good-Morning message shared by my FB friend, Ajit Nair, today:

“Half of our sorrows we earn by expecting good things from wrong people;
And other half we earn by detecting wrong things in good people.”


Nothing can be truer than this!

Often, we hear people advising us: “Don’t keep expectations; you will only end up disappointed and in sorrow.”

But, if you start your day with this paradigm – not to expect anything from anyone at anytime and anywhere – let me tell you, we will end up with even more frustration, and despair! It is naive to believe that we can live in this world without keeping any expectations from people around us. It is ignorance.

So, the message I received from Ajit, this morning, had provided the right perspective:

Don’t expect ‘good things’ from ‘wrong people’… Half of your sorrow will end!

Stop digging for ‘wrong things’ in ‘good people’… The other half of your misery will go!

The fact is that we do keep expectations from other people… Many times without bothering to know who are these people: the right people or the wrong ones. If people are good, right ones… we, invariably, do not expect anything from them. Our ‘giving’ act was pure from the heart, with no strings attached. And, such act is a reward in itself. Giving is receiving. Moreover, these people do respond to our goodness… Rarely does our giving act - with these people - goes unacknowledged, unappreciated or unrewarded. 

It is when we do good things to wrong people and keep our expectations from them, yes, it is here that frustration and sorrow set it. True, half of our miseries come out of these failed expectations!

The story of the other half of our tragedy is even more interesting. I call it ‘our obsessive behavior’: Trying to dig out wrong things in good people!

I tell you: this is the short-cut to our own graves… It is guaranteed to bring the doom: misery… the poverty of our soul!

Just imagine: if I should indulge in such a behavior, my mind has to suffer from such chronic insecurity, jealousy, and pettiness. There is no way I will be able to succeed in my misadventure: for, what is good can not be destroyed by what is mean!


So, my obsession to find faults 
in good people around me, 
has to bring what it has to: 
the other half of my sorrow!


Thank you Ajit… The morning was really good. Thank you.


GERALD D’CUNHA

Thursday, December 26, 2013

THE CHRISTMAS TREE















Pic.: Amrita Jeurkar


Some things about Christmas shall, eternally, remain childlike: The Christmas carols, the Santa, the Christmas Tree, the snow, the bells, the gifts, the mid-night mass, the Christmas-best attire, the party, the dance, the Christmas sweets and never to miss the lovely plum-cake…

And those star-eyed kids… which means: ALL OF US!

The Santa hasn’t grown any older ever since I met him when I was a little baby… Nor has the Christmas Tree… The carols make me dreamy even now as they did when I first heard them some fifty-six years ago… The sweets and plum-cake have not changed their taste… The mid-night mass was, is and will, always, be special…

The baby Jesus shall, always, be born only there – in the humble crib…

And, Christmas shall, for ever, be celebrated by all of us – irrespective of our faiths, age, class, color and status…

So timeless this special season is…

And, so, today, I wish to re-present the Post I had published the day after last Christmas… Hope, time hasn’t made it any older, just like the Santa and the Tree…
 
Anything that can bring some simple joy into our hearts… has been our religion. We worship what makes us happy!



Whether I am a Christian or a Hindu, and whether I am a Muslim or a Sikh… that’s not the religion I am talking about… I am talking about a religion which brings simple joy into our hearts… very simple joy…


A young couple from the interior North has come, lately, to live next door. Last night, our door-bell rang. The young-man said shyly, “Sir, my wife wants to see the Christmas-tree… She loves the way it is decorated.”



My heart sank! There wasn’t a Christmas-tree at our place. “Come, please sit,” I made them comfortable, hiding my own discomfort. We spoke about the lovely things about the Christmas-tree, the Crib, the Star and the mid-night Mass (which, these days gets over before it is mid-night due to security regulations!)…



The young-lady’s face lit up! She was new to our big city… The young-man asked me, if they could attend the mid-night Mass.



We had planned to attend the morning Mass… So, once again, I felt in my heart the helplessness. But, I encouraged him to take her to the open-air Mass at one of the popular churches around, where he could also show her the beautiful Crib, the magnificent Star of Bethlehem… and, of course, the dazzling Christmas-tree!



“Thank you sir,” the young-man said excitedly, “she will be very, very happy!”



Not even ten minutes had passed… I saw a message on my cell-phone. “Hi sir, I am coming for the mid-night Mass,” a dear student of mine wanted to share with me her joy, “hope to see you there. Excited!!”



My heart sank, once again!!



I had to tear my heart and tell this young girl – a non-Christian, who wanted to come for Christmas Mass with her close Christian friend - that we wouldn’t be attending the mid-night Mass!



You know how it is on a Christmas day! You feel so nice when hundreds of your dear ones call you, message you… both on phone and the Net… but, it leaves you tired, at the end of the day!





But, that’s Christmas… 



Even the tiredness is simple joy!





We had decided to spend our day with my wife’s parents… We had a lovely family-special Christmas-lunch, all of us together… It made us really happy!



When we reached our complex, it was already dark. The little kids – some twenty of them - all non-Christians, had come together and decorated a nice Christmas-tree… A cute 12-year old must’ve seen us coming home. I had no idea about the Tree, until this little fellow said this: “Gerry uncle, we wanted to give you a surprise,” he beamed with happiness, “we have decorated a beautiful Christmas-tree… Can you come for a while and see!”



My heart, this time, smiled… “Wow, great… darling!” I immediately handed him a big plum-cake and said, “Enjoy it with all your friends!”


That’s my Christmas special, this time…



Simple joy…



From simple people…



In very, very simple ways!



“Merry Christmas to all of you, my wonderful dear ones!”




GERALD D’CUNHA


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

SIMPLICITY OF LOVE... THE TRUE SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS





Pic.:Neerja Panchal

“One dollar and eighty-seven cents."

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

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

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

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

Suffice this much:

Only one day to go. Tomorrow would be Christmas. In a small apartment, Della counts her savings. It is one dollar and eighty-seven cents! All those pennies saved over the months, with small little sacrifices, with love, with the sole objective of making a Christmas present to her beloved husband, Jim. She is dying to surprise him, in the evening, when he would return home.

Jim, too, wants to surprise her sweetheart. And, he, too, is broke!

Each of them has a precious possession: Della has her knee-long golden hair; and Jim, his rare golden watch. So, they long to surprise each other this way: Della would sell her hair, to buy an exquisite golden chain for Jim's gold watch; while Jim would sell his gold watch to buy lovely combs - carved out of pure tortoise shell and jewelled rims - for Della.

Della is waiting with abated breath, and Jim returns home, with quiet pride. The surprise is only a heartbeat away!

Till they realise the magnitude of the sacrifices they have made for each other!

We had this little fable for our studies in our 12th standard. About thirty-five Christmas seasons have passed by. And, till this Christmas, it has stayed alive in my heart ... making me humble, making me hopeful.

It is not 'Turkey', wine and cakes for me this Christmas. It is 'Goose'. Yes, goose pimples!

They are asking me, "What are you going to do tonight?"

"The mid-night mass," they all know it.

"What about the party ... the celebration?"

I thought of telling them about Della and Jim's celebration, in stead. Probably, they do not know about it.

Tomorrow will be Christmas.


GERALD D'CUNHA

Video courtesy: YouTube


Saturday, December 21, 2013

SETTING IT FREE


















Pic.: Unnati Jiandani

One of my friends’ father fought a court-case against his tenant

for twelve long-years… and, finally, lost it.

The house went to the tenant…

My friend’s father couldn’t recover form the shock, till he died!



Some years ago, when our servant was doing the house work,

our TV fell off its stand and broke into pieces.

We not only got mad at our servant,

but we, also, kept worrying about ‘our loss’ for al long time!



Years ago, a neighbor of mine was fired by his boss.

He fought for his ‘job’ for full five years,

only to lose at the end.

He not only lost his job,

he also lost his precious time, money and peace of mind.

He hasn’t recovered from it, yet!



Why do we cling, so desperately, to our material possessions…

to our status, our positions?

Why is it so difficult to love these things,

yet, remain free from their bondage?

Does attachment to things –

excess dependence on the pleasure of owning them – breed worry?



While  I was haunted by these questions,

I had come across the following popular quote, somewhere:


If you love something,

Set it free;

If it comes back, it is yours;

If it doesn’t, it never was.



GERALD D’CUNHA




P.S.:

‘THE COBWEBS’ was one of the popular booklets I had written and published for THE DAWN CLUB in its early years. It was first published in 1991. Once again, what made this book connect with the readers was that it spoke in first person… The passages – some twelve of them - seemed straight from one’s own heart, they sounded like one’s own voice…

This passage – ‘SETTING IT FREE’ – is one of the popular passages from the book – ‘THE COBWEBS’.




Friday, December 20, 2013

APPROVAL






















Pics.: Rajiv Sharma

I narrate an incident – I want their attention;

I crack a joke – I want them to laugh;

I talk seriously – I want them to listen seriously;

I greet ‘good morning’ – I want them to return my greetings;

I smile – I want their smile back;

I invite them to my house –

I want them to invite me, too, to theirs;

I go to church –

I want the Father to notice me, mention my name;

I donate –

I want my name to be announced, printed;

I phone my friend; he says, “Can you please call me, later?” –

I am upset – “Why did he say so?”

I go to buy something from my client’s shop…

He does not give me ‘a special attention’ -

I grumble.

Whenever I say something,

my spouse doesn’t take me seriously -

I burst at her:

“The whole world respects me, adores me… and you?”



What am I expecting from them – my friend, my spouse, my client?

Why am I so upset, so broken over a smile, a thank-you?



Yes, I am a human being; I have my right to my feelings, to be upset…

Fine…

But, am I aware of what’s going on here?

Am I comfortable with it?

Do I want to change, transform my outlook… work on my self-esteem?

Can I change others, their ways, their thinking?

What is my priority?



GERALD D’CUNHA


P.S.:

‘THE COBWEBS’ was one of the popular booklets I had written and published for THE DAWN CLUB in its early years. It was first published in 1991. Once again, what made this book connect with the readers was that it spoke in first person… The passages – some twelve of them - seemed straight from one’s own heart, they sounded like one’s own voice…

This passage – ‘APPROVAL’’ – is one of the popular passages from the book – ‘THE COBWEBS’.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

SACRIFICE




















Pic.: Neerja Panchal

At our home,

there was this Bible-reading every night.

Too often, we used to  read the passage:

‘Let your left hand not know

what your right hand gives.”



Yet, countless times,

we would hear our parents yell at us:

“We have done so much sacrifice for you,

and, in return…”



I neither understood Christ’s words,

nor the outburst of  my parents…

I was immune to both!



When I became an adult, I, too, used to help others,

a hundred times…

and, later, I would grumble and crib about it,

just the way my parents did…



Now, when I read the passage from the Bible,

I understand its significance, its relevance.



Sacrifice can be done only in silence…

Be it my weekly fast or the occasional charity;

Be it towards my children or my partner,

or, towards my nation…

Yes, Sacrifice is giving in gladness…

As Kahlil Gibran says:

“You give but little when you give of your possessions…
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.”



GERALD D’CUNHA


‘THE COBWEBS’ was one of the popular booklets I had written and published for THE DAWN CLUB in its early years. It was first published in 1991. Once again, what made this book connect with the readers was that it spoke in first person… The passages – some twelve of them - seemed straight from one’s own heart, they sounded like one’s own voice…

This passage – ‘SACRIFICE’’ – is one of the popular passages from the book – ‘THE COBWEBS’.