Thursday, January 31, 2013

SIR, HOW IS IAS?






Bosco had studied under me some twenty-three years ago. He called me, all out of the blue, last morning. He wanted to meet me and we fixed it for today morning at 10.

Bosco wanted to meet me just to say “Thank you for everything”. He did that, this morning, by presenting to me one of his favorite books – ‘The Icarus Deception’.

Frankly, I hadn’t heard about this book or its author, Seth Godin. “To the person who sowed the seeds of self-improvement in me…” Bosco had written inside this book.

We spoke for close to an hour. Bosco told me, of many things, how this book had influenced him… I was left excited… and, I can’t wait!

So, I haven’t read the book yet, though, a line has already caught my attention: “Your work is an art… and, you are an artist.”

Well, it is no revelation at all. You and I know it… The world knows about it for ages. So, why do we need a Seth Godin and his book to reveal this old truth to us?

Surprisingly, we need him and his book. Because, we forget the simple truth he is trying to reveal: “Look buddy, your work is an art… and, you are an artist.”

Without even reading the book, I can imagine what, therefore, the author wants to tell me, his reader: “If you put all your heart and do your work – your art – well, you will be a great artist. Amen!”

Incidentally, last afternoon, a young boy was asking me this: “Sir, how is IAS?”

I looked at the boy and said, “Why, beta?”

“Because, sir, I am planning to do it,” the boy replied, “an uncle of mine is an IAS officer.”

“Yes, beta, your uncle is an IAS officer;” I continued to talk to him, “but, tell me, why do you want to become one?”

“Because I like the kind for respect he gets in the society; also the life-style he leads.” The boy was clear about the motivation behind his IAS-dream.

Beta, sit with your uncle for some time and share your dream with him,” I told the boy, “Ask him how and why did he choose it… How did he go about it… Was it worth it… Would he recommend it to you… And, if he does, two or three key mantras to succeed.”

Now, the young-man has agreed to sit with his IAS-uncle and get the answer to the question he has asked me: “Sir, how is IAS?”

I really do not know how it is. But, this much I do know: It is a tough exam, and you need to prepare very hard to pass it. After that, you get a good government posting… maybe as a Secretary to one of our powerful ministers – I am just guessing… where, you have to ‘work’ just as you would have worked anywhere else - a Bank, a Post office or a Departmental store. Yes, pass a tough exam… and live a tough life!

There is a choice here: pass an easy exam; and lead an easy life!



I think, the boy is thinking this way: 

by passing a tough exam, 

he can lead ‘an easy life’!


I am only guessing… I have asked him to sit with his IAS-uncle and find out…

Is the work of preparing for IAS exam an ‘art’?

Is the work of preparing for your college exam an art?

Is the work of handling customers in a bank an art?

Is the work of handling powerful ministers an art?

Is writing a book an art?

Is reading a book an art?

Are cooking, serving and eating art?

Is prayer one?

Is living?

The young boy has left me find it for myself…

And, my dear student, Bosco… has left his warm gift!


GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Manoj Nair














Wednesday, January 30, 2013

SUCCESS TRAP






“Dear God, if Success is a trap, then, please give me the wisdom not to walk into it!”

The night before last, my wife and I were watching the TLC (Travel and Living Channel) on TV. They were showing the living style of Shah Rukh Khan. When we were watching the kind of lifestyle – the mansions in Mumbai and Dubai – with all the swanky opulence in them… I knew the reason why the world calls him ‘King Khan’ – the ‘Badshah’!

It was surreal, to say the least… Well, every pin and plane of that opulence, this self-made actor deserves. They are his sweat and toil… They are his achievements – the fruits of his Success. Hence, he has every right to relish them with his dear ones.

I am not challenging this fact.

But, as I was watching the glitter and glamor that went along King Khan’s luxury, I was wondering:

“Is so much really needed to be happy in life?”

“Can you retain this life-style lifelong?”

“Is it possible for you to deal with it without suffering, deep within, a sense of fear of losing it all, one day?”

“How do you deal with the nagging thought that you cannot be on top – a ‘Super Star’ – for ever…The thought that you are aging…The thought that the fanfare is going to die out, soon?”

“In order to maintain such luxury, don’t you need to constantly put yourself under high pressure… constantly run, struggle, insure, maintain, guard, spend, earn, spend, earn, and spend?”


A decent house, some decent clothes, some decent comforts… with a lovely family, good education, good health, a zestful approach to your future… a regret-less heart… some loving friends and neighbors, some fine values… a few God-given talents, your rock-solid faith in yourself and in the benevolent Universe…



I was wondering… 

“Is this not the greatest luxury in life? 

Is this not the greatest wealth?”



I was wondering, “If it is so, then, why does my heart want more and more and more? Why is this hunger to become a King like Shah Rukh Khan?

So, that night, I went to bed saying this small prayer:

“Dear God, if Success is a trap, please give me the wisdom not to walk into it. Amen.”

GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Bhushan Thakkar








Tuesday, January 29, 2013

WHEN SOMEONE SLOWS YOU DOWN




















A good friend of mine is a very popular lecturer in her college. Her students adore her as she does walk, always, beyond the call of her duty. When a student is weak, she calls them extra and teaches. When the students are good in studies, she talks to them about what they should do to become focused on their goals. And whenever there is a deserving student, she refers them to me for fine-tuning.

Last morning, two young-ones came to me through my friend’s reference. Incidentally, I was free when they came to me with their respective mothers. These two students hailed from economically weak families… They were sincere; but, because they had studied through a vernacular medium, they had difficulty not only in understanding and writing, but also in self-confidence. Yes, they had low self-confidence…

My friend wanted me to do my bit in this respect. As I was free - and I am, always, excited when it comes to helping someone struggle with self-confidence - we spent close to an hour talking. I could see the sparkle on the faces of not only those two youngsters but also of their mothers.

We decided to meet, again, in the evening at 4 for a two-hour session. They took my telephone number and I took theirs. Of many things I said to the young-ones, one of them was this: “If you show enthusiasm, if you are very sincere, I will be motivated to give my best. Please show me commitment… and, don’t fail to communicate about anything.”

They agreed and left.

I was excitedly waiting for the two, right since 3.30. Till, 4.15, they had not turned up… nor was there any communication. At 4.20, I called one of the mothers. 

“Sorry sir, my husband is reluctant to send them;" the lady said, "I am sorry!”

“Any particular reason for his objection, ma’am?” I asked.

“If he says ‘No’, it is ‘No’, ” the lady said, “Sir, I am really sorry!”

Well, I knew, there was no point trying to persuade… I felt sad for the young-ones, sad also for the mothers… and, sad for my good friend. Before I knew, I had already asked the lady this, of course, a lot irritated:

“Why didn’t you call me and tell me about it, madam... You know I had kept two hours especially for your daughter and her friend?”

“Sorry sir,” the lady murmured meekly from the other end.

And, that was the end of my ‘Great fine-tuning session’!


Bhushan,  a dear friend of mine from Mumbai does a great deal of travelling. Presently, he is touring Karnataka. Today morning, I saw this update on his timeline:

“Caught over speeding!!! Shot gun clocked 59km/hr… Paid fine. Mysore.”

Below that, the obvious response back from Mumbai:

“Carefull, hubby!”

And, I had also seen some nice pictures from the interiors of Karnataka posted by Bhushan and had messaged him complimenting. I had, also, asked him if I could use some of them for my daily Posts. He was more than happy to oblige… I thanked him and, also, added:

 “Drive carefully, ok? Tcare.”

Bhushan was quick in his reply:

“Yes, here the rules are funny! I am sure the traffic police have got new speed guns… They catch u for over speeding at just 59km/hr! Hahaha! Added 3 hrs extra to travel coz of that… and these pics are credit to the rules!”

I ended the conversation with this one:

“All good things, in Life, come to us, in some ‘funny’ ways!!! I am writing on this... Bhushan; read around 12 noon, today. Tcare. Love.”








It is already past 12…

Bhushan must be eagerly waiting for my Post… As I had waited for my two students to come!

Waiting is never a waste… It helps us slow down… Be patient, tolerant… Try to understand someone’s problems… empathize with them… and, importantly, it helps us find new ways of using our time… creative ways... as Bhushan did: click lovely pictures of the countryside…

And, as I am doing, now...

I don’t think, this Post would have ever seen light of the day had those two young-ones, last evening, not kept me waiting… and, made me a lot irritated, too!

“Yes Bhushan, all good things, in Life, come to us in some ‘funny’ ways!!! This Post is for you, dear. Love.”

GERALD D’CUNHA

Pics.: Bhushan Thakkar





Monday, January 28, 2013

THE POWER OF A LITTLE STONE



















Our minds get a lot pampered whenever people praise us. In fact, minds become so addicted to it, that we hungrily look forward to hear others praise us!

I am no angel… and, hence, my mind, too, craves to hear praises… something nice said about me by others. When that happens – just a lovely compliment, perhaps - it is enough to make my day… yes, as the old expression goes.

And, if that’s how my mind works, imagine what would be its state whenever people criticize us, talk ill about us! Our minds resist and detest the negative opinions about us by others, and, we fiercely guard ourselves against them… It makes us defend ourselves, and, then, go on an offensive!

“I have heard a lot about you,” a stranger tells me.

“Hope, something nice,” I tell, knowing very well, it is.

Then, someone, who I know, comes and tells me, “So and so was saying such and such things about you.”

Obviously, ‘such and such things’, here, are something mean and negative.

Now, you yourself have not heard either the pleasant or the unpleasant things ‘so and so’ had spoken about you… Even then, the pleasant things fall on your ears like romantic music, while the so-called unpleasant things sound like death knells!

On this Republic Day, we had the flag-hoisting ceremony in our housing complex. As the Honorary Chairman of our Society, I have been taking an active interest in this graceful ceremony, every year. It is very heartening to see the elderly, the young and the children coming forward with such enthusiasm and in such numbers… particularly, the little ones. They are so vibrant, buoyant… Absolutely patriotic!

After the ceremony was over, there were some two-dozen little-kids doing merry all around the complex, while we, elders, were having a good time in our own circles. 

Six-year-old Shiv* came to his dad, who was in our circle, with a complaint, accompanied by two of his friends.

“Daddy, daddy,” the little-fellow said panting for breath, “Ankush* snatched the flag from my hand.”

“Don’t worry beta,” the father caressed the little-one’s head, “we will give you a new one.”

So, the little-one went away taking the new paper-flag in his hand.

Five minutes later, little Shiv came, surrounded by four of his friends, with a fresh complaint:

“You told me never to tear, throw or stamp on our flag no?” the little fellow was blunt to his dad, “Look what Ankush has just done.” He looked at one of his friends and said, “You tell my dad.”

“Uncle, uncle, Ankush is very bad,” the friend announced, “He tore away the new flag you had just given to Shiv!”

“That’s not good; we should respect our flag…. But, you don’t fight with Ankush, don’t say something bad to him… We will tell him, okay,” the dad and some of us informed the kiddos, “Now, you all go and play happily.”

Another ten minutes later, the gang was, again, back. This time around, the complaint was:

“Daddy, daddy, Ankush is giving us ‘bad words’!”

Yes, the daddy was getting a little annoyed by now. The rest of us were a little chilled out about the happenings.

“See son, all of you are friends,” the daddy said to his little son holding by the little-fellow’s shoulders, “learn to be good friends and not fight… Don’t worry, we will tell Ankush not to give bad words, okay?”

The little gang went back to play only to be back there with one more complaint:

“Look daddy; he is giving bad words to ‘YOU’,” little Shiv was screaming, “Did you hear me? He is giving bad words to ‘YOU’!”

The daddy knew how the little-fellow had tried to ‘provoke’ his father, at such a tender age of six… When nothing had worked to pit his father against his ‘enemy’, now, the little fellow had, so instinctively, used the ‘Brahmastra’ – to tell his dad that someone had spoken ill about him (daddy)!

For, certainly, the little-one had learnt this mind-game – call it mental strategy – somewhere… at home, at school, at the play ground… somewhere. Yes, even at such tender age, he knew one of the survival lessons in our 'politics of life': "If nothing else succeeds in unnerving a man, tell him that someone is talking ill about him – it would do the trick!"

But, our daddy was in no mood to get provoked. He got up, lifted high his six-year-old ‘complaint-box’ and asked tenderly:

“Tell me my darling, is your dad good or bad?”

“Good,” the little fellow said looking at his sidekicks.

“So, will I become bad if Ankush calls me bad?”

The little fellow shook his head left to right for some time.

“Go and play then with all your friends,” the daddy placed his little son on the ground, “Don’t worry about what Ankush says about you or me. We will talk to him, okay?”

Off they all went… yes to play.

Another fifteen minutes later, little Shiv was back again! But, this time around, he was there to drink Pepsi from his daddy’s bottle… He passed on the bottle to all his friends... and, Ankush was one of them!


The daddy looked at us… and, we were smiling!

And, I was thinking about our minds…

I was thinking about the deep, quiet pond…

I was thinking about the power of ‘a little stone’ to stir the pond, create the ripple effect…

I was thinking about the restlessness, the agitation, at the surface of the pond and the serene glory that lay untouched down below at the depth…

I was smiling, at the way something nice and something nasty succeeded in stirring my mind…

And, I was able to feel the glory of the depth beneath! 









“Finished!!!!” little Shiv showed the empty Pepsi-bottle to his dad, with great pride coupled with mischief… and back he went, with all his friends… to where they all, really, belonged: the playground!

* All names have been changed

GERALD D’CUNHA

Pics.: Abhishek Iyer

Sunday, January 27, 2013

IMPATIENCE HURTS










Impatience hurts. It hurts badly.


When others react and behave impatiently, we do not like it… We brood, cry and sulk. Mostly, when it comes from people who are our superiors – like parents, teachers, principals, bosses or any people in authority. We are unable to express our displeasure and disapproval so easily with them… So, we tend to suppress our feelings, bottle up and brood… keep the anger to boil inside, and then, blast it out somewhere else, on some of our own soft targets!


When our doctors, teachers, advocates, parish priests, and parents, constantly, react to us with impatience, we think hundred times before we open our mouths before them… In fact, we avoid them… We anticipate their reaction at slightest provocation, a small slip from our end… and we block ourselves from them!


All of us have, at least, some people in our lives who are chronically impatient. Most of these people are unavoidable… and, therefore, we have no option but to learn some survival skills to deal with them. Some of us do; and, some of us don’t.


What is interesting is this: even though we know impatience hurts badly… make us sad, angry and sulk… yes, even though we do not like impatience from others, we do exactly the same when it comes to our own juniors: our children, students, staff, and patients… We react and behave with them with similar impatience… say things which hurt, criticize and snub. This is the time, we coolly forget how it hurts those who are at the receiving end of our impatience… we forget that they too feel sad, angry and go into their caves.


This is, really, a crazy cycle… Other do, we don’t like… We do, and others don’t like… Still, it goes on and on!


In my own case, impatience does come up easily when I deal with my students… Luckily, I catch myself, mid-way, indulging in it and change my course… And, there are times, I fail, and, end up causing the damage.


For last few days, I have been telling myself in my mind, “Look at the ‘big picture’.


Now, the phrase may mean looking at the problem or an issue in its total perspective – from all angles – and not just from one, from a narrow angle. But, I have been telling this to myself to remind me not to forget my ‘Final goal’ when it comes to the one at whom I vent my impatience: my student, my staff, my child, my spouse or any one. I remind myself to keep the ‘goal’ in mind: “What is more important – to help your student to develop into a fine human being, or learn to do some fast calculations?” “What is more important: to feel close, loved and safe with my child/spouse or to ‘overplay’ their minor mistakes?”


Yes, this introspection does come to me via its long and bumpy road… But, it does come and save me… It helps me to become a better human being… To really understand, how impatience hurts, damages… It helps me empathize: Just as I show impatience, others, too, do… and, I must give them a chance to make their own amends… while learning to deal with their harshness, and keep my head high and move in life.



True, if I am able to keep the ‘big picture’ in my 

mind, I am not only able to reduce my own 

impatience with others, but also to reduce my 

reaction to someone else’s!



Like those two goats, who had forgotten why it was more important for them to ‘cross the narrow bridge’ and save themselves from the deep and fierce river down below than being impatient and stubborn and lock horns  in the middle of the narrow bridge – yes, like them, we, too, often, forget…


How wise, therefore, to keep the ‘big picture’ – the ‘goal’ – in mind!


GERALD D’CUNHA


Pic.: Mehul Bhuva










Friday, January 25, 2013

PERHAPS, THE WORLD JUDGED THEM, TOO SOON

























Most of us know that Amitabh Bachchan was rejected when he had tried to join All-India Radio. The reason given was: He did not possess the ‘right’ voice! We, also, know that till his movie Zanjeer happened, this actor – who has stayed there on top as a Super Star as no other actor in Bollywood history has – was not taken seriously by anyone… They declared him as a ‘misfit’ in every respect… Super-stardom was the remotest of all his dreams!


Yes, like the legend of Amitabh Bachchan, his stories of rejection and rising from their ashes, have already become India’s folklore.


There are many like him in the film Industry - actors, singers, directors, lyricists, music composers, dance directors, costume designers, cinematographers, sound designers… you name them, they are there. Yes, the ones who were branded and discarded as ‘misfits’!


Anil Kapoor could not even clear the entrance exam for the Film Institute at Pune. He not only made it as a fine actor in Bollywood as well as Hollywood, his movie made it – and bagged - Oscars too!


Oprah Winfrey is the undisputed Queen of TV show-business. Like our Amitabh Bachchan, she has endured there as ‘the Queen of Hosts’ as no one else has… at least, not as successfully and respectfully as Oprah has. And, this Queen, too, when started out in the same American TV industry, was ridiculed as ‘unfit’ for TV reporting!


Elvis Presley is, even today, hailed as ‘the King of Rock and Roll’. But, not many know that Jimmy Denny,  Manger of the Grand Ole Opry, had fired Elvis after just one performance with his taunt, “You ain't goin' nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin' a truck!"


Steven Spielberg is ‘revered’, today, as a ‘great director’ in Hollywood. Fame, money and respect are at his doorstep in ample measure. But, we do not know this: He was rejected from the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film and Television three times… He eventually attended school at another location, only to drop out to become a director before finishing! Thirty-five years after starting his degree, Spielberg returned to school in 2002 to finally complete his work and earn his BA!



Charles Darwin gave up on having a medical career and was, often, chastised by his father for being lazy and too dreamy. Darwin himself had written, "I was considered by all my masters and my father, a very ordinary boy, rather below the common standard of intellect."


Edison’s teacher thought he was ‘unfit’ for studies, leave alone to be a ‘great scientist’!


Lincoln was a flop… and, repeatedly, so!


Churchill had his own days of ridicule!




And, you don’t have to go too far 

 to find such ‘flops’ who rose to become ‘greats’,

 later in their lives…



One thing was common with all of them: They refused to accept the ‘certificate’ of the world, the authority…


They wrote their own ‘Certificates of Merit’…


The world, and the authority, had judged them, too soon…


Perhaps, the world and the authority have done – or, are still doing - the same to some us too, now…


So, let’s decide whether to accept their certificate… or, to write on our own!


GERALD D’CUNHA


Pic.: Anisha Jiandani



Thursday, January 24, 2013

SWEATING IT OUT FOR OUR OWN DREAMS










Every generation tries to provide the very best for the next!


I remember my grandfather… His world was revolved around our village paddy-fields, plows and oxen in the shed. Still, when it came to his eight children, he worked hard to provide them a better condition in life. So, my father was placed in a better position compared to my grandfather… Then, came the turn of my father to provide even better things to his own five sons, which, to the best of his capacities – and wisdom – he did. So, I was placed at a much better station in life compared to my own father. The baton was handed over to me to do the same for my only son. I am proud that I have placed him at even more privileged position compared to his own dad!


That’s how Life has been, all through the ages… Every generation trying to provide the very best to the next!


But, one thing would never change, no matter how many generations have come and gone, and how many more will come and go... And, that’s what God had commanded when He had sent, forever, Adam and Eve out of Eden Garden, the Paradise on Earth: “By the sweat of your brow, you will have food to eat until you return to the ground…”


Till that moment, everything was ‘provided’ ready on a platter to Man and Woman. Food came on the plate on its own… No worries about a tomorrow… about the next meal or about the next desert. Life was in a Paradise… It was an endless feast!


All this changed when God’s maiden children disobeyed. The Holy Book says that God was enraged and was compelled to throw Man and Woman out of the Paradise… “Go, and earn your daily food by the sweat of your brow… Yes, by slogging very, very hard… and, do it until you die!”


So, this is what, I say, has never changed and will never change…


No more Paradise for our children… No more worry-free tomorrows!




Man and Woman have to sweat it out… 

They have to worry about their tomorrow, 

their next meal!




Well, even though it is so, we coolly forget it… and, try to provide to our children their Eden Gardens: from the best Play Schools to the best Management Schools, from best toys and gadgets to the best cars and mansions, from the best spouses to the best Honeymoons… We yearn to provide them all, so that they can be happy and proud, and we, too, can be!


The 24-year-old Prema Jayakumar, who hails from our Mumbai suburbs, is suddenly in news… and, for a happy-good reason: She is the All-India topper in CA-finals-2012. And, to add some icing on this cake, her 22-year-old brother, too, has passed the same exam, together. The story is told by every Newspaper, TV channel, Social media… and, why not? She deserves every bit of it... perhaps, with a 21-Gun Salute!


Yes, an auto-rikshaw driver’s children are these two…raised in a 300-s.ft tenement! He provided them with best he could… But, in my view, the ‘best things’ he must have provided to them must be: ‘Self-belief’… and the ‘Value of dreaming and sweating it out to realize them’! 


Today, when we are so obsessed with sending our children to the best of the best Schools, Activity classes, Coaching classes, Gyms and Gymkhanas… Sports, Singing, Dancing, Acting, Modeling, Exchange Programmes, Foreign tours… and, yes, an air-conditioned personal-room for each one of them at home… a private tutor, a Governess… and, the latest of the latest gadgets and gizmos… all in the name of providing the ‘best’ to our Next-Gen… and, all in the name of love, care and concern… we need to think hard, and, now:


Do we remind our children enough about the value of dreaming and sweating it out to realize them?


Do we remind them enough about the importance and the power of ‘Self-belief’?


And, this: Do we need to raise them in a Paradise… or, teach them to raise one on their own?







Ladies and Gentlemen, please stand up for the two, who weren’t raised in a Paradise, and, yet, have raised their own!


Here go the Guns!


GERALD D’CUNHA


Pics.: Manoj Nair


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

ALL FOR A SINGLE PIECE OF LOINCLOTH









One story that always makes my heart smile is told by my favorite story-teller, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. I need not tell you what a great soul he was… and, yet, how simple and rustic he and his teachings were…


His philosophy was soaked in the day-to-day reality of life… He, unfailingly, weaved his stories around what was happening around him, in his immediate world… not what was happening ‘out there’ in the ‘faraway heavens'… He was least concerned about the world his simple followers would not understand.


So, here is that story…  You and I will, definitely, understand it.


There was, once, a rich householder in a town. He was fed-up of running after wealth and managing all that it brought to his life… He was tired, tensed and frustrated. Finally, he went to a Guru to seek help. The Holy man advised him to abandon his household - his wealth and family - and lead the life of an ascetic, a Sadhu. As per his Guru's advise, the man chucked everything that he had possessed, went to a secluded village at the foothill of a remote mountain, raised a small hut there… and proceeded to live a Sadhu’s life.


Everyday, early in the morning, the Sadhu would perform his prayers wearing a wet loincloth. After the prayers, he would hang his loincloth on a tree next to his hut to dry up… and, then, he would go the nearby village to beg for the day’s food.


One day, when the Sadhu returned to his hut, he noticed that some rats had caused a big hole in the loincloth which was hung on the tree. The next day, he explained his plight to the villagers and begged for a new loincloth, which they obliged.


The Sadhu was relived and began to use the new wet-loincloth for his morning prayers.  This time, he spread it on the roof of his hut to dry up before he proceeded to the village to beg for food.


To his horror, one day, on returning from the village, the Sadhu found his new loincloth all in tatters… The rats had done it, again!


What was to be done, now? How would the Sadhu explain this to the villagers? There was no option but to tell the villagers what had happened and beg for a new piece of cloth.


This time around, the villagers said to him, “Sir, this may go on and on; for how long can we provide you with new cloth? Please do one thing: you keep a cat in your hut!”


So, that day, on his way home, the Sadhu picked a kitten from the village and began to raise it in his hut. From that day onwards, the menace of the rats was over… and the loincloth was safe and dry! It made the Sadhu very happy…


However, there was a new problem, now… The cat wanted milk everyday. So, the Sadhu had to beg for it with the villagers. Initially, they helped him; but, after some days, they told him, “Sir, how long can it go on like this? Please do one thing: keep a cow in your hut!”


So, a cow came to the Sadhu’s hut and, with that, came milk… enough not only for the cat but for himself, too! It made him extremely happy…


But, the Sadhu was worrying about a different problem, now… The cow needed straw to survive!


Thus, the Sadhu approached the villagers for straw… Just a couple of days later, the annoyed villagers let him know what they felt: “There is a vast uncultivated-land outside your hut,” they told him straight, “Why can’t you till it?”


It was a practical suggestion, the Sadhu thought, and he went about tilling the land. Soon, he had laborers to help him… and large barns to store the harvest… He felt he needed a wife to take care of his needs… So, he married a pretty young-lady from the village… had a couple of lovely children…


And, before he knew it, the Sadhu’s life had had become so frantic… that he was running around as any busy householder would do. Not just that, he was rich, once again…


He was tired, tensed and frustrated, too!


Then, some years later, the Guru who had advised, wanted to see how his prodigy was doing. But, when he reached the mountainside, where once stood the rustic hut, the Guru was left puzzled… What he saw there was a typically-frantic household… with people running around with breathless speed…


“I am looking for a Sadhu who lived in a small hut, here, some years ago,” the Guru asked a servant, “Do you know where I can find him?”


The servant was clueless. Hence, the Guru walked into the house where he found his prodigy in an unbelievable avatar!


“What is all this, my son?” a shocked Holy man yelled at his disciple, “Whatever happened to my advice?”


“All for a single piece of loincloth, my Master,”
 the distraught soul fell on the feet of his Guru…


Yes, all over again!


GERALD D’CUNHA


 Pics.: Abhishek Iyer
Story courtesy (retold here):  'Tales and Parables of Sri Ramakrishna' (Published by Ramakrishna Math)


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

MAYFLOWER






“But, I preferred my life to be this way," she said,  "to be like a Mayflower… and bloom in my own time, and in my own way.”


“And, in your own garden,” I added.


She was a mother of two married-daughters… Both the daughters were highly educated, married to wonderful husbands and were, now, settled in America.


The mother told me that she wanted to study more and settle in America… but, due to her circumstances, she had to come to terms it. She couldn't complete her graduation and she couldn't seek an employment… nor could she settle aboard.


So, this mother did the next best thing: she created circumstances for her own two daughters… kept reminding them of the dream she had to come to terms with and motivated them to pursue it, if they wished. Fortunately, both did. Both, now, are Doctorates and have amazing families to live with, abroad.


“I had this wonderful opportunity to go abroad and settle with my daughters,” the mother said to me, “both my daughters have been asking me to. But, I preferred my life to be this way… to be like a Mayflower… and bloom in my own time, in my own way.”


“And, in your own garden,” I added.


I really liked the way this sixty-something woman described to me about the choice she had made… To be like a Mayflower… and bloom in her own time and in her own way…


The Mayflower is destined to bloom only in May… and, so be it. It is so beautiful about it… so special! If I try to manipulate this plan of the Nature, and try to bring it to its glory when and where it is not destined to, I will be in for a rude disappointment.


So, the early we realize what are we destined to do in life, the better for us: peaceful, joyful and successful!


Was this mother a ‘success’ or a ‘failure’? A ‘winner’ or a ‘loser’ in life?


As I was talking to this woman, I really wondered how absurd can be our concepts of ‘success and failure’… ‘winning and losing’!




No one sees a Mayflower 

 all through the year… but in May. 

It is supposed to be that way!



No, the Mayflower is not a failure in life…  No, it is not a loser!


GERALD D’CUNHA


Pic.: Gloria Pinto