Friday, May 31, 2013

GIVING THEM THE ROOTS AND THE WINGS






















“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children.

One of these is roots, the other, wings. ”


Sometimes, I wonder as to why parents keep drillings into their children’s heads those basic values, even though the children seem not interested…

I did not see the value of those values when my own simple parents tried to drill them into my tiny head, yes, back in those village days…

And, here in this big city, I found myself doing the same thing with my own little son… As all parents did, my wife and I began to drill the basic values into our child’s mind… And, we did it even though, like all other children, he seemed not interested… and, whether or not he saw the value of those values…

Parents know as to how valuable those basic values are… And, they also know how important it is to inculcate them into their children’s minds when the minds are very supple, very tender…

When I reflect on this common phenomenon, I get more and more convinced, that parents, instinctively, yearn to provide strong roots for their little-ones. Basic values are the basic roots… the deeper they go, the taller and stronger the tree will grow to be, tomorrow…

Yes, as parents, the first and the lasting bequest we can ever hope to provide to our children are the strong and nourishing roots… Everything else can come to our children, tomorrow, only from this… The glory, the might, the grace… everything!

The other bequest is the wings.

This is one of the most burning desires of every parent… That, they want their offspring to soar high and high in life… They want them to succeed. Thus, all that follows is a persistent process of providing wings to their little-ones… 



And, not just the wings, the parents are the constant 

wind beneath their children’s’ wings, too!



While the roots will ensure that the tree would withstand any rough storm along, the wings will ensure the individuality and freedom. It is love that drives the parents to provide robust roots to their little-hearts; it is the same love that drives them to hold them, with open hands, before the vast skies… so that they are now ready to soar high… Free!

Kahlil Gibran so beautifully tells the parents: 


Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.



True, therefore, what Henry Beecher said:

“There are only two lasting bequests we can hope to give our children.

One of these is roots, the other, wings. ”



GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Rajiv Sharma
Kahlil Gibran text courtesy: 'The Prophet'




Thursday, May 30, 2013

BECAUSE, THE STREETS ARE FILLED WITH IDIOTS











Most of us have heard this story in our school days.


There was this blind man. Whenever he had to go out in the night, he would always carry with him a lantern. This would leave the onlookers puzzled. One day, a group of young- men looked at this strange sight and tried to poke fun at the blind-man. “You are anyway blind and can't see anything,” they chided, “Whom are you carrying your lantern for?”


“I am carrying it for you, my friends,” the blind-man replied; “It may help you see a blind-man walking in the darkness!”


“Because, the streets are filled with idiots.” This is the message of the popular ad from CEAT-tyres. A young-man is walking in a busy, traffic-infested street. He is lost in his own world – with his right hand, he is driving the pram… A little baby is inside it…His left hand has pressed a cell-phone to his ear and he is lost in talking… completely blind to the reality around him… He elbows out walker-byes, blind and insensitive to their reactions… Then, right in that busy street, all lost in his own world, this man – this ‘idiot – takes a right turn… And, we hear that screeching sound! The motor-bike man has just been able to bring his tyres to a halt… yes, just a heartbeat away! There is shock on his face, there is a killing silence… and, it has almost taken the breath away from us, the viewers…  


The highpoint of this amazing ad is the reaction of our blind young-man… With the most insensitive eyes, he stares at the frozen biker and yells, “Abhe, andha hai kya?”


CEAT knows that our streets are filled with idiots of the first order… Hence, it reminds us that it has built those tyres with safe-and-solid grip…


Yes, the tyres with safe-and-solid grip are built to save you from the idiots on the streets…


The lantern is to save you from the idiots, too…


There are two kinds of blind-men in this world: those who carry the lantern in the darkness… and, those who need them!


But, there is only one kind of idiots in this world: 

those who suffer from a blindness of their hearts!


Do carry with you a lantern tonight…


Do wear that safe-and-solid grip!






GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Vivek D'Cunha
Ad Video courtesy: YouTube

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

THE COFFIN CALLED - 'MY SECURITY'










I was in Pune, some two weeks ago. As I was about to get into my friends’ car, I received a phone call. The lady, on the other end, spoke in a stylish accent and told me who had referred her to me. A doctor friend of mine it was; so, I lent her my ears.



“Mr. D’Cunha, I wish to meet you and discuss with you something very important to you,” the lady said with loads of conviction, “May I know when will it be convenient for you?”



“Ma’am, can you please let me know what is that about?” I asked the lady.



“Something really very important Mr. D’Cunha, trust me,” I was told, “We can discuss this over when we meet up.”



“Still ma’am, you will be coming from far and it is extremely hot outside,” I said to the lady with my sincere feelings, “It is always best to know what’s the subject of discussion, so that we can save each other’s time.”



The lady reluctantly let me know that she wanted to discuss about my financial security. That, she had some excellent insurance-cum-investment plans… That, I would be surprised to see those products etc., etc…



Well, I knew that even before it had come from the lady’s mouth… So, I courteously let her know that I had already done enough of insurance and investment things and I had no additional income to invest at all. I hoped the lady would understand that she was wasting her time if she pursued further as I had opened my heart out and told her that I had no extra income to invest. I hoped she would leave me alone…



“That’s okay Mr. D’Cunha,” the lady did not want to leave me alone; “I just want to show you something.”



“Show what ma’am?” I asked her, “We will be simply wasting our time.”



“I would not see it that way, Mr. D’Cunha,” the lady was trained in the art of objection-handling; “I look forward to meet people like you.”



Well, I was not flattered at all. She would come and waste my time and her time, both… I knew that. Still, I was not trained in the art of snubbing or shooing off people. So, I did the way I was prompted by my own heart.



“Ma’am, we will do one thing,” I told her, “This Sunday, we will be having a wonderful Workshop on ‘Values and Conflicts’ at our place. It will be conducted by a well-known trainer. Come; you will enjoy the programme; and, after the programme, probably, we can talk for half-an-hour.” However, I added this clear clause: “But, ma’am, please remember, I will not be interested in buying any insurance or investment products… You should not expect it from me; is it okay?”



“I have already told you Mr. D’Cunha,” the lady was clear on this, “It will not be about business.”



On the following Sunday, the lady appeared ten minutes before the programme. My mind was preoccupied with our Workshop… and her mind was preoccupied with her hidden agenda. She tried her best to touch upon my uncertain tomorrows… my fast moving age, shrinking fortunes, mounting education costs of my only son, the health issues and the mind-blowing costs… and, all these she tried to remind me of in five to ten minutes even though she knew that she was hitting her head against a hard wall… And, even though I had told her not to push it on me.





Now, all that I told the lady was this: 

“Ma’am, just chill; in a while, 

the Workshop will start, just enjoy.”




After the two-hour Workshop, as I had promised the lady, I had to sit back for another half-an-hour…



But, to discuss what?



When the lady, all over again, began to fog before my mind the gory images of my uncertain future and the urgency with which I should secure myself… I only felt pity for her…



“Ma’am, I told you that I have done fairly good arrangements about my family’s financial security,” I firmly and gently told her. I continued, “I teach, I write, I train… I have been doing it for over three decades with just a-word-of-mouth publicity… I have enough confidence in me that I can continue to do it for many more years… Is that not my security?”



“But sir, age is catching up… You won’t be able to work the way you have been doing all these years…” the lady’s gramophone was playing the same record!



“Ma’am, what I am reaping today is the harvest of the seeds I had sown - with diligence, hope and faith - when I was still a young-man. The Destiny has not betrayed me… And, what I am doing now - so diligently, passionately and with all my heart and hope – will, certainly, come to my rescue in the years of my dwindling energy… My years of writings, my God-given gifts of teaching, helping and touching lives… Tell me, who will rob them away from me? Tell me, how much will I need to live a decent life in the years to come? Tell me, even if I get that so-called projected-and-assured-monthly-income which you are promising me, will I be really secure? Tell me, where does my security lie?”



Finally, I asked her this: “Tell me ma’am, honestly, who is secure at this stage – you or me?”



It was the last nail to go down to seal the coffin called – ‘My Security’!



GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Rajiv Sharma




Tuesday, May 28, 2013

SEVEN-MILLION WONDERS


















 
“There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child…

There are seven million.”


Of late, I find myself reminding my young-students about the three pillars of learning: Curiosity, Trust and Risk.


Curiosity is the most important pillar… the corner-stone. Every piece of learning starts from this… for every one of us… and, it starts when we are little babies and lasts a lifetime… Perhaps, that’s why it is called the ‘childlike curiosity’… If we are eager to learn, all our lives, we are expected  to be little children… We are expected to be struck with wonder… The sense of wonder…


Lee Ann Womack sings in her beautiful song- ‘I Hope You Dance’:


“I hope you never lose your sense of wonder…


I hope you still feel small standing beside the ocean…”



Imagine, learning without this childlike curiosity… this sense of wonder. Imagine gazing at a star-studded night with a heart bereft of awe… Imagine standing beside the glorious ocean unable to feel small...!


Sometimes, I feel like screaming, standing alone under God’s gigantic canopy-of-golden-stars:


 “O Lord, please keep me eternally struck with wonder… eternally feeling small before your infinite vastness… eternally childlike…”

Similarly about the second pillar of learning – Trust.


How can learning ever take place if we are unable to trust in our own instincts? The gut feelings - the hunches - come when we deeply trust in our own instincts… The more we trust in our instincts, the more we are able to learn and absorb…


Whenever someone tells me, “Go by your gut,” I do realize that he is urging me to trust my innate creative hunches… He is urging me to build more and more of this strength… and, thereby, build more and more learning ability.


Imagine being blessed with the finest teachers and the choicest privileges in life but unable to trust in one’s gut-feelings, unable to muster enough trust to go by the gut…


Yes, it is nothing short of a curse in life!


Finally, the third pillar – Risk. No teacher can teach us till we take those risks, till we attempt to ‘do’. It is by attempting to do over and over again, that we develop self-confidence… Learning is almost an impossible proposition till we take our risks, till we ‘do’,  inspired by our hunches…


Therefore, imagine the quality of learning when we do not take enough risks, when we fail to act on our hunches, our inspirations and gut-feelings.


I have been teaching young-ones over three decades now… Only to come closer to the truth, that unless the three pillars stand erect in the hearts of my students, it is just not possible for me to teach them… 

When the pillars stand erect, 
 the student is ready…
And, lo, the teacher appears!

Did I say, “Of late, I find myself reminding my students…” Or, did I mean I find me reminding myself?


Whichever way, let my eyes be able to see those seven-million wonders … and, not just seven!



GERALD D’CUNHA


Pic.: Vivek D'Cunha

Sunday, May 26, 2013

MY FRIEND, CHARITY, ALWAYS, BEGINS AT HOME



















I was talking to someone, last evening. There was this line I had unwittingly used during our discussion:



“I want to help someone. But, I fail to notice that, this ‘someone’ is there right at my own home!”



What I was trying to convey to the person was the old reminder:





“My friend, charity, always, begins at home!



Your bed-ridden dad is calling you – his wet bed-sheets need to be changed…



Your wife wants a listening ear… Or, your hubby wants a quite moment with a cup of tea…



Your young-daughter likes some polite words from you… Or, your young-son needs from you some more trust in him…



Monsoon is just some days away… Your maid-servant is gripped with worries about the leaking roof of her hut… Perhaps, she needs some cash, a soft loan…



Your five-year old wants your attention…



Your sister wants you to forgive her for marrying against your wish…



Your brother, too, wants to patch-up with you, make peace…



Your over-affection for pets has caused grave inconvenience for your immediate neighbors…



Your watchman, who earns only Rs. 3,000 a month for his 12-hour night-duty, has three a young-son, two young-daughters and a sick wife at home…



So, my friend, before you try to reach out to the needy world outside… please try to reach out to the world right at your arm’s length… Begin your charity from where you stand… and, do it right away!




Our idea of charity is very romantic one… When our charity makes news, it gives us a great kick… Sadly, most of us are caught-up in such a mindset…



We are blind to the needy who is right next to us, right under our own roof… and, we are obsessed with the ideal of making a difference ‘there outside’!



It is an illusion!



“Let you left hand not know what your right hand gives,” Christ had counseled us to do charity quietly…



“God doesn’t want you to do great work; He wants you to do small work with a great heart,” Mother Teresa would often remind all of us.



As I unwittingly said, last evening, in my conversation, ““I want to help someone. But, I fail to notice that, this ‘someone’ is there right at my own home!”, actually, I was reminding myself about the old wisdom about charity…



“Do it quietly… Do it right from your home… 

And, yes, yes, do it with a great heart!”



GERALD D’CUNHA



Pic.: Vivek D'Cunha



Saturday, May 25, 2013

THERE IS A PETER IN ALL OF US















When ‘Titanic’ began to sink, the ancient prophecy came true: the rats deserted the giant vessel before anyone else did!



In this ship called Life, all of us are rats… When the ship goes down, we don’t want to go down with it… We desert the ship that sheltered us all this long… Now, we want to save our lives; and, so, we jump off…



But, jump into what?



Well, that’s another story!





When things are rocking in our lives, literally, the life around us is a great rock show… We are surrounded by scores and scores of friends and well-wishers… They swear by us… They claim, that they are ready to give life for us!



Yes, all this goes on as long as the ‘Titanic’ sails gloriously along… When the weather is fair, the sea is gentle and kind…



But, the moment the chips are down, the moment the weather turns rough and the sea stormy, unsafe, there go the deserters… the rats… all our fair-weather friends!



Always?



Yes, almost always!





“I tell you Peter, you are the rock,” Jesus had, once, said to his most trusted and loyal disciple, “and I will build over this rock my Church (Congregation), and the powers of hell will not conquer it.”



Just before His tumultuous end would come upon Him, when this most trusted and loyal disciple, Peter, would claim before his Master, saying, “"Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will," Jesus reminds him clearly, “"Peter, I tell you the truth: this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!" But, Peter still would declare, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you."



And all the other disciples said the same…



And, that night, Jesus was arrested and taken away to be tortured and hanged…



And, before the night ended, before the rooster crew, our Peter, ‘the rock’, did deny his Master three times; he did disown… And, so did all other disciples!



Everyone deserted the sinking ship…



But, then, in Peter’s case, something amazing happened: When he heard the rooster crowing on his third denial, he remembered what he had said to his Master and what the Master had said to him… So, the Holy Book tells us, how Peter cried his heart out… How he repented!





The denial and the repentance of Peter, both, were equally dramatic events in the life of Jesus… Both were needed to fulfill the prophecy!



And, therefore, it goes: There is a Peter in all of us… We do desert our greatest Masters and friends… and our most trusted and loyal disciples and friends do desert us, too…



All this before the rooster crows and night ends…



All this when our ship goes down…





And, all this to remind ourselves of the promise 

we make and break over our loyalty in life…




And, yes, all this is needed to fulfill the prophecies of our own lives… And, complete our own Testament…



Our own story.





GERALD D’CUNHA



Pic.: VIVEK D'CUNHA












Friday, May 24, 2013

THE LEGACY WE LEAVE BEHIND

















This morning, a young boy was speaking on the topic - ‘What Money Means to Me’. He quoted Bill Gates:





“If you are born in poverty, it is not your fault;

But, if you die in poverty, it certainly is.”





I had come across this famous statement of the Microsoft founder long before. Today, as our young-man was speaking on the stage, I found myself saying in my mind: “Hey, why poverty, is it not true everywhere else, too?”



We really can’t do anything about the condition we are born into. But, we can certainly do something about the condition we choose to live in… and, particularly, about the condition we leave behind, when we leave.



Just think about it, again…



Think about any area of life, any condition…



Yes, what we leave behind is always our legacy…



There is an old spiritual principle, whose beauty is concealed in such a legacy. This age-old principle urges all of us that when we leave any place, we should strive to leave it a lot better than how we found it when we first walked in…



Any place that is...

Be it the company we keep or the company we work for…


Be it the colony we come to live in or the family we plan to raise…


Be it the institution we join to learn or teach or be it the relationships we weave around…


Be it the bed we sleep over, or the plates  we eat from… or, even the toilets we use!




As our young-man was using Bill Gates’ famed lines to make his point, today, I could see the wider and deeper significance of those words in all walks of life…



The condition that I walk into is never in my hands; it is neither my choice nor my fault…



But then, the condition that I walk out from, always, is…



Yes, it is in my hands… It is my choice…



It is the legacy I choose to leave behind.





GERALD D’CUNHA 


Pic.: Gloria Pinto

Thursday, May 23, 2013

BUT, MOST OF ALL, YOU ARE MY BEST FRIEND
















The way a tree drops its leaves, the way a snake drops its skin and the way the Sun drops its intensity when night falls, our hearts, too, drop their aggression as we steadily move towards our own sun-sets…


Yes, in Youth, we rarely realize this truth: that, we all age; that, our bodies wrinkle and our looks fade… that, our hearts quietly long to be anchored… that, they search in our life-partners for our best friend… our best companion.


Each wedding anniversary, I seriously think, is a quite reminder about the above reality… The time to whisper with quite dignity and grace: “Dear, you are my anchor in Life’s ocean.”


In fact, this longing for an anchor in Life’s ocean is nothing but the deep longing of our hearts to find in our life-partners our best friend, our best companion. Each passing year makes this longing only deeper and more intense… 


There is a beauty beyond skin…


There is a love beyond lust…


And, there is that best friend beyond all the rest…




Like a river which ceaselessly goes in search of its resting place, the sea… our hearts ceaselessly go in search of the resting place called – The Best Friend in our life-partners. Yes, I do feel more and more convinced, as each year rolls by, that – to be sheltered in Life’s best companion - is the ultimate longing of our hearts.


As I pen these lines, my heart can feel the power of the words… An old county-song by one of my favorites, Don Williams, makes my heart sing along:









You placed gold on my finger
You brought love like I've never known
You gave life to our children
And to me, a reason to go on.

Chorus:
You're my bread when I'm hungry
You're my shelter from troubled winds
You're my anchor in life's ocean
But most of all, you're my best friend

When I need hope and inspiration
You're always strong when I'm tired and weak
I could search this whole world over
You'd still be everything that I need.

Repeat Chorus twice




GERALD D’CUNHA


Pic.: Vivek D'Cunha


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

ELEVEN THOUSAND FOOLS












 









"Choose your rut carefully. You may be in it for the next ten years."


-- Anonymous


The common thing about George Bernard Shaw and the game of Cricket was their love-hate relationship with each other!


In those days, the Gentlemen’s Game took five days to complete… and, they called those games ‘Test matches’. Imagine two teams sweating it out on the grounds for five consecutive days while thousands of spectators sat there glued to their seats! Television was a distant reality… Radio had just come. And, the idea of masses deserting their offices, classes and household duties in order to watch a match in a stadium, somehow, repelled the legendary writer. Perhaps, little must he have realized that his comment about the game of cricket, too, would go on to live as a legend like him:



“Eleven fools play and eleven thousand fools watch!”


Tonight, it’s the first Playoff of IPL – 2013… Mumbai Indians V Chennai Super King. 


The Gentlemen’s Game has come a long, long way since the fireworks from Mr. Shaw!


Twenty-20. The game will be over in just four hours… Just like a blockbuster movie; just like the Russian circus which we kids once watched. In Eden Garden, nearly one lakh ‘fools’ turn up to watch the spectacle… another one billion watch it glued to their TV sets from their homes. The ‘eleven fools’ from each side… The DJ, who literally controls the heartbeat of the packed stadium… The vibrant drummers and the lovely cheerleaders, scores of cameramen, the animated commentators, both in the commentary boxes as well as the in the studios… Advertisements worth millions of dollars… And, the prizes galore… 


Big money, Big show… a very, very Big-time idea…!


I am dying to watch today’s first Playoff… I am rooting for Mumbai Indians, you see.


“What is this madness?” Someone reacted before me, last night, “each team has already played, without even breathing, sixteen matches… They are into a bloody rut!”


Obviously, I did not tell him that I was dying to watch the first Playoff today!


This gentleman – the modern-day Bernard Shaw – worked for a bank for the last thirty years… He was there in that bank when computer had not arrived… He is still there…Yes, he has been there in that bank all through the transformation of the Gentlemen’s Game – from Tests to ODIs and now T-20s… And, believe me, he has been doing the same work, in the same manner, and, almost from the same chair (If that is not exaggeration or dramatization)!


So, last night, when this gentleman yelled saying “What is this madness… They are into a bloody rut!”, I quietly laughed in my heart and said, “Who is not, my friend?”


We all are in a rut…!


I have done nothing else in my life, as a profession, except teaching… for more than three decades that is! Training young-ones in PD or this blogging everyday… I think, they too are coming from my teaching streak.


So, should I yell at myself saying, “What is this madness? I have been teaching for nearly thirty-five years and still going on without any plan to retire…. I am into a bloody rut!”?



The rut is life… and, the rut is good!


Tell me my friend, one thing that you and I are doing, here on this earth, which is not a rut!


Everything you and I do, yes, here on this earth – whether playing cricket or teaching students, whether cooking food or eating it, whether making love or preaching Gospel – yes, what on this earth is not rut?


Rut, the dictionary says, is a sunken track or groove made by the passage of vehicles. Yes, it is caused by a repeated and prolonged activity. But, then, the dictionary tells us that rut also means an annually recurring condition or period of sexual excitement and reproductive activity in male deer!!!


Now, hear that out, my friend!


It says ‘an annually recurring condition or period of ….. excitement !!!!!’




So, trust me, rut can be 

a very, very productive thing in life 

 as long as there is excitement around it. 




So, Sir Bernard, I don’t mind being one of those ‘fools’ tonight… 


“By the way, sir, how did you manage to write, sitting in one corner of your room, for all your life… till your beard touched the ground? With all due respect, sirji, what was that madness?”




GERALD D’CUNHA


Pic.: Vivek D'Cunha




Monday, May 20, 2013

THERE IS NO PROBLEM... THERE IS ONLY ANXIETY.


















 “Man proposes, God disposes.”

Well, always?


I don’t think so. 


Most of the times, I propose… and, what I propose, gets disposed, too. God is okay with my proposal; He doesn’t meddle with my business…


And, sometimes, for the reasons best known to Him, He does… 


And, when that happens, when my plans go for a toss, when I miss on my 'connecting flight'… initially, I react angrily… I show my frustration… “What the hell is this?”


Yes, who the hell am I asking this to?


And, how the hell the missed flight be caught up again?


Who the hell can tell me this?


God has already disposed, buddy… Peace be with you… Amen!


Yesterday, my friend Deepak and I boarded the fast-and-dependable Shivneri bus in Pune. We had a program to host here in Mumbai in the afternoon and we had timed ourselves accordingly based on the past track record of our dependable Shivneri. 


All went well till we reached the middle of the ghat section. Then, a nasty sound went up… The driver parked the vehicle on the sides and went back to check… The tire had burst out… Somehow, he brought us to the food-court at the base of the ghats and gently declared, “It might take an hour or so!”


“What?” was the reaction of all the passengers, including mine!


“It will be a real problem for people who make their tight-plans,” I said to my friend Deepak very anxiously. Our own tight-plan seemed to be upset by Shiva’s plan!


“There is no problem,” Deepak calmed me down getting into his trademark go-cool- giggle, “there is only anxiety.”


I looked at my friend, who was looking straight into my eyes and laughing still… “Yes, what will happen? What problem?” His gaze was challenging me…


“There are ten vacant seats in the bus next to you,” the driver came in to announce.


The very next moment, we both were inside the bus waiting next to us...


We reached here well in advance!


Deepak was still looking into my eyes and laughing...



‘There is no problem; there is only anxiety!”


And, that’s so even if Shiva decides to dispose off our air-tight plans!



GERALD D’CUNHA


Pic.: Gloria Pinto