Monday, April 29, 2013

THE MESS INSIDE... THE MESS OUTSIDE
















There are two kinds of people in this world: the cribbers and the doers. Those who habitually complain about what is wrong with everything around… and, those who come forward and do something to solve the problem. Yes, those who curse the darkness - the reactive people; and those who light a candle do dispel the darkness - the proactive ones.

All around us, we find these two kind… They have been there since the time of Kane and Abel.

Last morning, a member of my housing Society showed me a ‘mess’ created outside by some other members and started cribbing.

What mess? These members love crows and pigeons…. so much, that they throw from their windows all sorts of food items, particularly the leftover chapattis, so that the hungry crows can be fed. A good value. They also argue, that the food should not be wasted. Another good value. But, then, they are blind to other values… that they make mess outside and cause inconvenience to other members. These members have been informed about it many times, both gently and firmly… There is also a fine for such nuisance agreed upon in the General Body. But, all those things apart, the mess still continues.

“Why can’t you do something about it?” the complaining member asked me, the Hon. Chairman of our Society.

“We have tried our best to make these members end their habit,” I gently explained to the complaining member, “I have personally gone to their homes and spoken.”

“Today is Sunday; they must be at home,” he pointed, “Why can’t they be made to come down to see the mess here?”

“Chalo, we’ll go up,” I held the concerned member’s hand, “Hope, they will realize.”

“Do one thing,” the man immediately excused, “you go up; I have got some important matter to attend to.”

With that, the matter closed!

When I reached the Society office, I found on the table the latest issue of the monthly magazine from Maharashtra Housing Societies’ Welfare Association. Incidentally, there was this story.

One day, when a farmer was walking along the village street, he found a huge stone right in the middle of the street.

“Who could be so foolish to do this?” the farmer reacted, “People are so irresponsible.” Saying so, he went his way.

Next came a milkman. When he saw the boulder in the middle of the road, he yelled out in anger, “Why can’t someone punish these culprits?” After venting out his frustration, he too walked away.

A while later, a bullock-cart came along. On seeing the boulder, right in the middle of the road, the owner of the cart, got off and began to move the stone aside. With great difficulty, the man was able to clear the road not only for himself, but also for others.

What was a pleasant surprise was:  the moment the heavy stone was moved from the place, the bullock-cart owner found, right under the boulder, a note which read:

“You are the only deserving soul to walk through this road. Your service is the rent you have paid for the privilege of using the road. You are the real ‘doer’… while others are just ‘cribbers’!”



I remembered the member who was cribbing about the ‘mess’ outside… He wanted me to clear the mess for him…

That’s how it has, always, been, everywhere… all through the ages… Yes, right since the days of Kane and Abel…

There are two kinds of people in this world: the cribbers and the doers!

And, yes, there are two kinds of mess in this world: one inside… and, one outside!



GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Amrita Jeurkar




Sunday, April 28, 2013

THE CHINESE WHISPERS


When our little-ones get bored during their two-hour PD sessions, they want something to light-up their hearts... Some short movie, some songs-videos which can make them dance, some quiz, riddles or jokes and, mostly, some games. Because I want them to become leaders, overcome their shyness, I always encourage them to come out with their own stress-buster ideas. Believe me, they come out with plenty... It's always games galore... Right from Dumb-charades to Chinese Whispers.

They enjoy.... I, too.

Last afternoon, while they were playing 'Chinese Whispers', I wondered if they knew that's how almost all of us went about communicating in our daily lives. There were about twenty-five of those little ones, all below age 13. The little lady in the first bench here whispered something into the little-fellow's ears, next to her. The message got transmitted from ear to ear till it reached the last brat's ears there on the other side of the room. It was time for 'breaking' the news.... "Kareena hated Katrina," announced the brat with a grin. "What?" the lady who first planted the news exclaimed, "It was 'A dull Saturday'! "

The room had turned into a zoo, by now... each one was trying to tell what he had heard from the other!


Well, there is nothing 'Chinese' about this game... that is played by kids all over the world... And, kids we all are, you see! We get our news and messages like this way - from the grapevine... through the broken telephone wires... We hear only what our eardrums filter... We pass only what our lips wish to whisper... 



We rarely bother to check the 'truth'... 

Who cares... It's fun, anyway!


But, at the end of the day, the kids were happy, full of laughter... It was a dull Saturday... till someone broke  the sensational news that Kareena hated Katrina!

Who cares, who hates whom... as long as one is able to laugh it out, and loud... and, laugh even more because that's how we go about our daily communication...

The Chinese must be laughing at us - we fools!


GERALD D'CUNHA

Pic.: Malabika Ganguly













Saturday, April 27, 2013

SHAPING-UP A TREE


















Little children are so pure, so beautiful. These days, I spend a lot of my time with these innocent angels… Yes, to teach them some things, which will help them grow up as fine individuals in life. The world calls such things as ‘Personality Development’. Whatever they call it, it is about growing up in life with a strong mind and a beautiful heart. Yes, a healthy body, as well. 


From my own experience of growing up over all my fifty-four years in this world, I have been whispering in those lovely hearts two things in this regard:


“Honey, don’t complain too much.”… “Learn to forget and forgive quickly.”


In fact, little children have the shortest memory: One moment they fight like worst enemies; the next moment they cozy-up like the best pals! That’s really so refreshing about children. They don’t bear grudges; they don’t conspire against others… They don’t like poison in their hearts… In fact, they do not know what poison is!


Bearing grudges and poison in their hearts and plotting against their opponents, the children learn gradually, as they grow up, from elders. From us. And, how did we learn such things – Was it not in the same manner, from our own elders?


Children understand value-lessons so perfectly. For a teacher, when the little faces glow up with this simple wisdom, it is such a satisfying experience; it is so blissful…


The greater teachers, however, are always there at home… The parents, the grand parents, the uncles and aunts… the ones who teach our children by live examples. And, we know how powerful and superior examples are compared to precept!


So, these little angels come to me to carry home something fine about living. I said to ‘carry home’!


Carry home my precept… Where live examples are all ready to learn for the little hearts…




Like my precept, the examples have to be 

in the same spirit… even stronger and finer…
 


“Honey, don’t complain too much… Please learn to forget and forgive quickly.”


Else, I wonder - How do personalities develop?


Every tree was a sapling once… and, as the old saying goes: 


“A tree can be shaped when it is just a sapling.”




GERALD D’CUNHA


Pic.: Abhishek Iyer

Friday, April 26, 2013

THE HELICOPTER PARENTS



















Last evening, during the PD session, a twelfth-standard student was speaking on the topic: “Growing up as only child or growning up with siblings – My stand”.
 

The young-boy had a wonderful younger-sister and, was quick in taking his stand: Growing up with siblings was a heavenly experience for him. So, he shared with us that… It was really touching.


But, what touched me most was the line that he unwittingly coined before us. “My dad is a sailor and for a major part of the year is away from us. So, our mom has to play the role of our dad too,” he told us, “but, she has never been a ‘Helicopter Parent’!


I loved that phrase – ‘Helicopter Parent’. 


“Do you all know what a ‘Helicopter Parent’ means?” I asked the class, “Have you heard it before?”

“No sir,” was the answer.


“Where did you find it, dear?” I asked the young-man.


“Sir, in our Psychology text book,” the boy, who was in an ISE Board said. 


“Can you tell others what you have understood by that catchy phrase?” I prodded the young-man.

“Sure sir, I can,” the boy went on to tell us this.


“We never like our parents to interfere in our growth too much… We need their love and care; we need their guidance and support. We need their firmness and rules to obey. But, along with all that, we need them to trust us, hand small responsibilities to us… We don’t want them to poke too much into our activities, our friends, our interests and hobbies… We don’t want them to phone too often our teachers, friends or their parents… Worst, spy on us, crib too much… remind us too much… compare us with X, Y and Z around… We want them to leave us alone, once they empower us… and not hover over our heads, all the time, everywhere, like a Helicopter… You see…”


“Do you all agree with what your friend, here, says?” I asked others.


“YES sir!!!!” the roof came down!


I had to agree, too… 


For, when I was their age, I never liked my parents – even in our remote village – to be Helicopters over my head…


For, our only son, who is going to be 21 this year, too, hates Helicopters over his head…


So, if, as a young-man, I did not like Helicopters over my head… if, as a young-man, my son doesn’t like them over his head… and, if all young-ones around us do not like Helicopters over their head, too… Yes, then, why should or why would  any one  like them?


It doesn’t call for some heavy psychology to understand this stuff… This basic lesson in parenting.




GERALD D’CUNHA


Pic.: Suman Dhing










Wednesday, April 24, 2013

LIFE DOES IT FOR YOU






















We live in an imperfect world… and with imperfect people all around us. Above all, we are imperfect people, too.


This imperfection should instill in us the wisdom not to keep unnecessary expectations from people around us… Rather, keep them to the minimum and keep only reasonable ones. Similarly, it should not turn us bitter when we see others spreading false propaganda against us… even plot against us.


It is an imperfect world, and people around us are imperfect. We, too, are imperfect. So, people can be unreasonable, ungrateful and vengeful and vindictive. 


The main thing is that we have to live in this world and with the people around us. It is important that we keep our respective faith in our values, our God and life itself… in the goodness of life. We should remain buoyant… Pro-life.  


The persons who act mean towards us are there to make our faith in life even stronger… and not to rob us of it. It is not for us to mete out punishment for their meanness… We are not required to pass a decree on them – destroy them.


Life does it for us… Our good Lord does it.



In the Old Testament, Daniel was a good soul. He remained faithful and devoted to God all his life. He served as an important official in the pagan kingdom of King-Darius. Through his sheer hard work, honesty and integrity, David had risen through the political ranks and become an influential and indispensable administrator in Darius’ kingdom. King Darius had great affection and respect for Daniel. The other officials were jealous of Daniel and they decided to plot against him. So, they tricked their King to pass a decree that that during a 30-day period, anyone who prayed to another God or man besides the king would be thrown into the lions' den! 


Daniel did not get affected by this decree and kept firmly rooted in his faith. Thus, as planned, they caught him, one day, kneeling down and facing Jerusalem, and prying to God Jehovah. They reported this ‘crime’ to King Darius and instigated him to punish the guilty. King Darius was helpless as the decree demanded Daniel to be punished. So, at sunset, he reluctantly and with a heavy heart, ordered his favorite official to be thrown into the den of lions.


That night, the King was in great sorrow. His guilt did not allow him to eat or sleep the whole night. At the dawn, the next day, he rushed to the den to see the state of Daniel. A pleasant shock was in store for him: Daniel was all playful there with the lions in the prison!


“How did you do it?” the King asked him with great relief.


“My God did it,” Daniel replied.


The King realized how he was misled to destroy Daniel. He immediately ordered that the officials who plotted against Daniel, along with their wives and children, be thrown into the den of lions. At the same time, he passed another decree that people should worship Daniel’s God as a true God.




You do not have to believe in this story. You have to only believe in the goodness of life… That, if you remain faithful and committed in your good work, the Life – call it Good Lord – will protect you…


Punishing those who plot against you, is not your work…


Life does it for you… Yes, the Good God does it.




GERALD D’CUNHA


Pic.: Malabika Ganguly










Tuesday, April 23, 2013

WHEN WE ARE LOST IN LIFE








One of the mightiest breakthroughs in our lives comes when we find ourselves. 


I am talking about, here, about our vocation – our calling – in life.


Scores of parents keep complaining about their young-ones: “Sir, he has no interest in studies,” “She gets carried away by her friends,” “He is wasting his time,” “She is wasting her talents,” “How can we make him decide what he wants do in life?” “Why is she not listening to us?”…


Where are these complaints coming from? Why, even though a young-one knows that it is about his or her own life, about his or her own success and happiness… yes, in spite of knowing it so well, why do they cause such anxiety in their parents’ minds?


Yesterday, parents of three young boys met me through the day… Yes, with the very same anxiety: “Sir, please do something!”


These young men are lost. 


All that is needed is to help them, in some way or the other, find themselves. 


Yes, I speak to these young-men from my heart… I try, in my most sincere way, to tell them that all that they have to do is to look within, find what they are excited about and inspired to do, trust in their hearts, believe in their minds... and, then, decide to pursue it with all the passion, commitment and honesty. I tell them, that when this discovery happens – when they find their vocations – everything else will fall in place… No reminders needed from anyone… No force. Most of the times, the young-ones understand this language of my heart… Many a times, they find it difficult to break the old habit patterns… But, one thing, certainly, happens: They go back, a lot sensitized…


I think, that itself is a major breakthrough in one’s life: When one is sensitized towards self-responsibility, that paves path for all those wonderful things which await just outside our hearts’ doors.



In my own case, in spite of my so-called a ‘good-boy' nature, I had no clue on what I wanted to do in my life till I reached first-year B’Com. Then, inspired by my teacher and hero, Prof. Raman, I saw the dream coming alive in my heart: I was dreaming to be like him – a fine teacher. 

 

It was over for me. 


I had found myself. 


Then on, no one needed to remind me, coax me, force me, bully me, worry about me… It was my life, and I knew what I wanted to do with it. I told it to my simple parents… and, they believed in me… felt proud about me… promised me to stay by me all along… 


Before long, I found myself telling what my dream was to all those who mattered in my life… And, they too believed in me, encouraged me… felt proud.


It was my discovery… I had found myself.


Parents worry when their young-ones aren’t able to find themselves, and understandably so. So, I tell them, with all my honesty and experience, that all that they have to facilitate is this self-discovery…




When we are lost, we need help… 
 
And, there cannot be a help handier 

and more effective than ‘self-help’…




“Oh Boy, come on! Hold your own hand… your head upright… your heart humble and hungry… and march on. Because, it is your life, honey!”


Yes, it is my life… It is my business.


I have no argument.


It is over. 


Amen.


GERALD D’CUNHA


Pic.: Abhishek Iyer








Monday, April 22, 2013

CELEBRATING OUR DIFFERENCES





















Another lesson we should teach our children, very early in life, is to celebrate our differences… All sorts of differences.


In fact, I am wrong here. This lesson we should learn from our little children!


For, children are pure… They are unbiased… Division and hatred doesn’t come to them naturally. It is when they see us talking about division – when they see our prejudiced reactions towards people around us, including the ones within our own families – yes, our children pick them up from us.


In my last Post, I had focused on our uniqueness… How God has made each one of us unique, special. I had emphasized how powerful that faith of ours in uniqueness could be. I had called it – ‘The Gospel of Faith’!


Today, I wish to focus on the other side of this faith: that, as much as I am unique, special, my fellow-being, too, is… That, I should not only believe in the beauty, strength and power of my own uniqueness, I should believe in his, too… I should rejoice in it… Celebrate our differences. 


All sorts of differences, I have already said…


Our caste and color…


Our status and education…


Our languages and eating habits…


Our hobbies, passions, concerns and praying habits…


Our outlooks, idols, pet-dislikes and superstitions…


The politics we play and the insecurities we harbor…




There is incredible beauty, joy and power in celebrating our innate differences… There is a great sense of freedom, as well.




Thus, whether it is from the student 

or from the teacher… 

but, the lesson has to be imparted:



Like me, others too are unique, special… And, rejoicing in it, celebrating our differences makes living really a unique experience as well…


Very special, in deed!




GERALD C’CUNHA


Pic.: Mehul Bhuva




Saturday, April 20, 2013

YOU ARE SPECIAL



















 


“God doesn’t mass produce His children…
There is no assembly line in His production house.”


When I first came across this line, I remember, I had felt immensely re-assured. I was a young boy, then… very anxious, scared to approach life… constantly comparing myself with others… constantly putting myself down… Constantly hammering myself with the self-judgment - “He is good, I am no good,” …“He is okay, I am not okay.”… I worried, with great pain, if there was a place for me in this world.

Yes, it was during these anxious days of mine, I came across the assurance, that God had created me as a unique person on this planet… That, no matter how many billions had come and gone, would come and go… each of us was born to be ‘special’… incredibly unique. I realized, with great surprise, that there was not a soul on this earth exactly like me… with my finger-prints and voice… with my one-of-kind look. 

So, if God had created me as a unique kid, I had to believe in my uniqueness. And, I, soon, did. It was with this belief - that I was born special and indented by God to live my life with all my uniqueness – that my anxiety began to drop… I could see my bright tomorrow. Confidence to approach my life with zest was directly linked to this breakthrough in my life.

For years, since my own breakthrough, I have been tirelessly spreading this Gospel – ‘You are Special’ - to the little-ones and young-ones. I alone know how powerful this Gospel is, how life-changing!

Today, was the first day of the program for little kids. So fresh those kids were… So lovely, so unpolluted. I was expected to help them speak well, and speak with great self-confidence. Hey, so small they were – around age 10 – and, they were so innocent. How would I preach them the Gospel of human faith: ‘You are Special’?

I smiled through the session… Everything I did and said centered around this Gospel, even though I did not tell them, even once, that they were ‘special’!




God not only has created us, 

He has also given us 

this Gospel of human faith…



Rightly, therefore, His children ask: 

“If God is for us, who can be against us?”


GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Suman Dhing


Friday, April 19, 2013

HOW DO THE GOALS AND DREAMS COME?
















 When I am hungry, I look for food; when I am thirsty, I look for water. 


Therefore, I can conclude: What motivates me to go and look for food and water are my hunger and thirst inside.


The problem always arises when someone ‘forces’ me to take food though I am not hungry and when he insists that I drink water though I am not thirsty.


And, what applies to me also applies to him. He will refuse to eat when he is not hungry; he will refuse to drink when he is not thirsty… My force won’t work. No.



Many parents meet me or call me and complain: “Sir, why doesn’t my child do any work at home? Don’t you give him homework?” 


“I do,” I tell them, “But, he doesn’t do.”


“No, no. Sir, be strict with him,” they react, “scold him, punish him… whack him… Think he is your own son. Please feel free.”


I laugh.


These are smart kids… They come from wonderful families, go to the best schools, they carry a strong head over their shoulders and a sweet heart inside their bosoms. “Relax ma’am, relax sir,” I console the anxious parents, “it doesn’t work that way.”


“Then, in what way does it work?” they want to know. 


I laugh again and tell them, “Just the way it works with a horse… The way you make him drink water from the pond.”


Well, my analogy is as ancient as the Mahabharat! The parents have heard it enough, used it enough… and, now, when they hear it again from me, I sense the resistance. “Tell me something new… Something as modern as these young cyber-kids are,” I hear they murmur me in their minds. 


I laugh all over again. These kids have to be hungry and thirsty inside… I know it for sure. As a parent and as a teacher, there is only so much one can do… yes, despite all the charm, tact or methods at our disposal... One can only take the horse to the pond. But, then, the horse will drink not because I want him to drink, not because I am thirsty… He will drink because he wants to, because he is thirsty.


So, as teachers, parents and well-wishers, we should see how we can ignite this thirst in our young-horses. If we succeed, it is good… Otherwise, we have to wait… Keep on trying…cajoling.


“Motivation is always linked to our goals, our dreams,” I not only tell this to parents but to every one around me. I add, “When goals and dreams come, the motivation comes automatically. Nobody needs to remind you, coax you or cajole you… least of all, no one needs to force you, hold a gun on your head… You are self-motivated, self-driven.”





So, they ask me, 

“How do the goals and dreams come?”

“How do our hunger and thirst come?” 

I ask them…




Every horse needs water to survive… and, he knows it. We all know it… Then, why this anxiety in us? Why are we so hell-bent in making him drink?


It makes me laugh… one more time.




GERALD D’CUNHA


Pic. Amrita Jeurkar