Saturday, August 31, 2013


Pic.: Gloria Pinto

I just came back after visiting Collin, my student, who is down with Jaundice. His parents are abroad and he lives, here in Mumbai, with his uncle and aunt and his adorable grandma. They hail from the same native land, Mangalore, from where I hail. So, they were very happy to talk to me in Konkani; Collins’s elderly grandma was particularly delighted and kept talking to me so much about her good-old-days in Mangalore, which, was some six decades ago! She spoke about the lovely people, the fantastic food, the churches, feasts, fields, streams, hills and above all her wonderful childhood. What a pleasure and pride this warm 80-plus woman took in rewinding her memories… I was her faithful beholder, today!

It was a pleasure soaking in her stories… I did it happily.

And, then came the important part of the visit: Collin’s aunt proudly laid before me, on the table, some amazing idlies (which we call ‘Sannah’ in Konkani) and some awesome dosa’s (which we call Poleh). The coconut chatni was divine! “Mummy woke up at five this morning,” Collin’s aunt told me, “She loves to make them the authentic way.”

Oh yes, ‘authentic’ was the right word. I was really relishing such ‘Sannah’s and ‘Poleh’ after decades, indeed!

And, I said that to Collin’s grandma…

Yes, I said that straight from my heart… meaning every word.

So happy was Collin’s grandma, so elated by my sincere compliments, that she made me eat two more ‘Sannah’s’ and three more ‘Poleh’!

That was too much for one time… But, then, joy, they say, knows no bounds!

“Do we compliment others enough? Do we compliment genuinely?” I was asking in my mind, as I was coming back from their place. “Does the happiness with which we serve food to others, and the happiness with which we receive it, got a lot to do with the taste of the food?” I was thinking aloud.

The old lady was so happy… 

 I had made her day, perhaps.

I was so happy… 

She had done my day, indeed!

“Besanv di mai,” … “Bless me mother,” I find myself saying in my mind.

And, I hear her saying, “May God bless you, my son!”


Pic.: Gloria Pinto

Friday, August 30, 2013


“If you think, by being sarcastic, you can come about as witty, funny and humorous,” I made it very clear to a young-man, a while ago, “your thinking is wrong.”

“Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit,” I cited an old saying.

When we are sarcastic, we are not direct, not open and sincere. We taunt, we hint, we lie and we hold back… Mostly with the intention of making the other person look stupid, feel guilty and small… We do it to shunt him out… by making others laugh at him.

And, certainly, that’s not any decent wit or healthy humor. It cuts through the other guy’s vulnerabilities… Like an arrow, it pierces through his heart…

That’s why, in psychology, the sarcastic guys are called ‘Snipers’… They indulge in what is known as an ‘indirect aggression’.

Often, the sarcastic people, who indulge in indirect aggression, are detested more than the abusive ones, who indulge in direct aggression. At least, we can openly see and clearly hear the outright abusive person. In psychology, such a person is called a ‘Tank’… a battle tank. We can see the Tank coming… We can see its pointed gun, the deadly manner in which it is inching towards us, and, we can see the ferocity with which it can crush us down to destruction. Yes, in spite of such ferocity, there is a lot of directness and openness about this behavior… It gives us an idea as to how to protect ourselves from the imminent danger…

But, in indirect aggression, we are left clueless and vulnerable to the attack… It rarely provides us a chance to protect ourselves…

The Snipers can be more harmful than the Tanks! 

Whether or not our so called wit is a misplaced version of sarcasm, we can easily figure it out by asking these questions to ourselves: What is our intention? Is it to belittle the other person - shunt him, make him look silly, stupid and small? Are we trying to take some sort of revenge? What if the same thing is done to us by someone else - will we be able to swallow it?

A healthy self-esteem is, always, founded on the basic premise of ‘I am okay… You are okay’... 'I repect your rights... You respect my rights'. And, obviously, our sarcasm doesn’t come from there…

It is not healthy… It is not wit or humor…

Yes, it is the lowest and the worst form of wit!


Pic.: Aruna Anand

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Image courtesy: Google

Just outside my classes, we have a small garden. For last couple of days, the little kids – Vyomie, Tanish, Vishesh and a dozen others, all between age 10 and 12 – have been planning for their mega-show – ‘Dahi Handi’.  It will be staged in our gardens, today evening, at 4. Vyomie and gang had barged into my office, last afternoon – throwing themselves out of their school bus, they had straight away come into my office – to announce: “Sir, you have to contribute Rs. 30/- for the ‘Dahi Handi’; we are coming in the evening to collect.”

“Ok sweet-hearts,” I pulled them close to me, “Shall I give it now?”

“No, we will come in the evening,” they said in a chorus…

At 5 sharp, in the evening, they were here with a neatly-prepared list. They proudly started from me…

So, I am waiting… I am excited!

Lord Krishna is a very inspiring teacher - Dashing and dynamic… Practical and tactical… Loving and righteous… And yes, yes… fun-loving and serious.

I love Him for all that…

His teachings – which we know as ‘Gita’ – are timeless pearls of wisdom… Life-empowering and inspiring!

“Sir, it is Krishna bhagwan’s happy b’day,” Tanish, a ten-year old, had explained to me last evening, when I had asked the kids, “What is Krishnashtami’?”

“Why you play ‘Dahi Handi’?” I had asked them.

“Because, when Krishna bhagwan was a small boy like us, he used to climb high to steal butter,” one of them had dramatized enthusiastically, “That’s why we call him ‘Makhan Chor’!”

“I see!” I had shown my curiosity, “That means, you are going to play tomorrow the ‘Makhan Chor’ game?”

“YESSSS!!!!” they had jumped.

Al right. Innocence, mischief and fun are Lord Krishna’s signature qualities.

And, there is the serious side to His character, too: It breathes the hard reality of life… the practical reality studded with love and hate, right and wrong, courage and weakness, envy and magnanimity… doubt and clarity… war, peace… compassion. And, victory.

I am no more a small kid… Unlike the little-ones, who are delightfully drawn to the makhan stories of boy Krishna, I am more drawn to the stories of Bhagwad Gita…

God stands, always, on the side of those who love peace, those who do not want war… He is on the side of ones whose intention is to build, heal and keep harmony… God doesn’t propagate war… Tells you never to start one, come what may. But, if it is brought upon you, you have to fight it out like a real warrior… And, He promises you that He will stand on your side!

Of the many pearls of wisdom Lord Krishna’s teachings bring to us, today, I found a new meaning and strength in the one I have just mentioned…

“Son, when you fight against the evil forces, 

 I will be on your side!”

Please join us at 4, this evening, for the mega-show… The Dahi Handi by our Vyomie and his mandali!


Wednesday, August 28, 2013


The more dependent we become on others, the less confident we become in life.

For over two weeks now, I have been telling this to two of my F.Y. BMS students. “Depend less on me… Go home and find out the answers for yourself.”

These two young-girls have joined some of the best colleges in the city. They have studied in the best schools, come from well-off families and are blessed with well-educated parents… Yet, when I teach them, I find them absolutely lacking in self-confidence in the subject I am teaching… Despite explaining the topic in several ways, and despite solving many exercises, they still come out with something so silly or stupid, if I can say so.

As a teacher, I am not supposed to degrade anyone’s learning abilities… I should be exceptionally patient and encouraging, empowering. But, my experience, with students like these, is very simple: unless I first help them become self-reliant, self-trusting… unless I encourage them to take risks, make ample mistakes and own up their mistakes… learn from those mistakes and grow… yes, unless I help them bring about this shift in their outlook, my efforts – no matter how colossal and how well-meant they may be – are a sheer waste of our time, energy… and their money as well.

In the name of love, care and protection… and, in the name of giving the best education, what most parents do is, that they send their children, right from the baby days, to  hundred different ‘classes’… Most of these ‘classes’ promise you a full-moon when it is supposed to be a moonless night… They promise a full-blown butterfly when the cocoon is supposed to wait to open up… They promise a glorious rose, when the bud has to grow through its own days and nights…

These so called ‘classes’ have robbed the little-ones of their precious initiative… The glory of waiting, falling, trusting, self-discovering… and, yes, self-building, self-empowering in life… They have made the kids more and more dependent, literally crippled… Provided them with only short-cuts and patterns… with all the possible ‘ready-made answers’ for every possible question under the Sun!

And, when these kids grow up -  as these two young-ones who have come to me now… or, when they start working… and, worse still, when they raise their own children, tomorrow -  just imagine what would be the scenario!

Luckily, in my case, I have to deal with young-ones, teenagers. I regularly come across such ‘handicapped’ youngsters, and, I immediately start telling them, “Look dear, it is time you began to trust yourself, took your own risks, made ample mistakes, owned them up, learnt from them… grew through them…”

And, luckily, many understand what I try to tell… 
what I try to ‘teach’…

“The best way to love, care, protect and empower your little-children,” I tell many parents, “is by encouraging them to find their own answers.” I remind them, “Don’t rob your little-ones of their precious wealth: Curiosity, Initiative, Self-trust, Risk-taking… and yes, yes, WAITING!”

I am very confident, that, my two young-students will understand this lesson before they did any other!


Pic.: Vivek D'Cunha