Wednesday, April 30, 2014

LEARNING TO SAY: 'LET THE IMBALANCE BE!"












Pic.: Chetna Shetty



“Man proposes, God disposes.”

“Life is what happens to us, when we are busy making other plans.”

We make our plans so that our lives should go on smoothly. None of us likes bumpy rides through our daily journeys, leave alone big crisis and calamities – either natural or man-made.

Yes, we want our lives to be stable, as planned... We want our dreams to come true... Our money to grow and remain safe, too... We want the health and well-being of our near and dear ones, and our own, to be good - free from any accidents, major sickness or danger...  And, that’s what we call ‘security’, ‘stability’ and ‘peace’ in life...

On Saturday, I was in the midst of my lecture, when I received a call asking me to rush home immediately as my aged father-in-law had a fall at home and fractured his leg badly. My wife wasn't at home, and my mother-in-law, who is sick, was in a panic.

I immediately swung into action... called an ambulance and rushed my dad-in-law to the hospital... Being aged, and suffering from multiple complications, the operation is delayed... and, post-operation recovery would be a very slow process... His recovery is important to us, more important than anything else in our lives... So, when our routine gets derailed and, plans go for a toss for a while... it leaves us a lot restless, disturbed...

But, then, in retrospect, we do realize that it is how Life is... A lot predictable... yet, a lot unpredictable... Many of our plans do go as per our agenda... yet, many don’t. Yes, it is we who propose them... but, it is God who disposes... And, yes, Life is really what happens to us when we are busy making our other plans!

So, presently, there is this sudden imbalance in my life... and, I am learning to gain control over it... Many things, which I had planned, including my teaching, training and blogging has either gone astray or not happened at all for last couple of days... It really keeps me restless at times... But, along with this restlessness, also, comes the ‘rest’... the ‘silence’... the ‘peace’: “This is how it is supposed to be,”... “It is not my will, it is Your will, O God,”... “There is a divine purpose behind this imbalance!”

In our ongoing PD course for the pre-teens, we have two little-brothers – Yash and Yug. Both are adorable kids – but, Yash is perfect physically and mentally... Yug is not. He has to be carried to the class by someone... and he can not sit firm, can not use his hands well, nor speak properly... Yes, he is a ‘special’ child, differently-abled. His mother loves both her sons equally... and, she has brought in me that awareness to treat them so!

Yug is 11. For all these years, and for all the years to come, Yug’s mother has accepted, and will accept, her life-situation with grace and dignity. Who will she blame for it... for the ‘imbalance’ in her life?

On the next bed, in the Jaslok Hospital, where my dad-in-law is admitted, there is this elderly patient suffering from advanced condition of Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Paresh Doshi, one of the renowned Neuro-surgeon has performed the most modern surgery on this senior gentleman... The wife and son have shut their home and business, back in Ambala, and have literally camped in the hospital for almost a month now... The progress seems slow, even doubtful... I have been watching how challenging for the wife and son to handle the patient who seems totally out of control on the bed... They can not sleep, can not even move away when the patient is awake... Now, I might see them for a few days or weeks more if we happen to be there in the same ward... But, what about the imbalance in their lives?

I love to write everyday, at least a small piece. But, for last few days, I couldn't write anything...

I did not know, I was, actually saying this: “Let the imbalance be!”  

GERALD D’CUNHA

Friday, April 25, 2014

NOBODY SEES WHO I CAST MY VOTE FOR... NOBODY HEARS TOO!





Pic.: Sherry Haridas

In my ninth-standard English text-book, there was a lesson on John F. Kennedy. And, that was the first time, I heard about the famous line from his inaugural speech: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

Much later in life, when I came across the management jargon, ‘Being Proactive’, I thought of Kennedy’s famous words and realized, that when we all start blaming the country or the government for our miseries, we come about as  the worst lot to live in this country!

Let me tell you this:  no matter how much I pay in taxes and no matter how much I am made to believe that the elected representatives of our country are callous, corrupt etc... I have refused to buy the argument that all our problems can be solved by the government we vote to power...

True, the government has to be accountable... transparent, honest and committed. True, we expect our representatives to deliver what they promise... But, then, to paint a certain party as corrupt and a certain party as honest with one straight stroke is being naive. It ‘is misleading and harmful.

Too much is made out of these elections... Too much through the advertisements, print, electronic and social media... All to sway our opinion in certain direction... all to make us either like or dislike some party... love or hate it. Yes, all to tell us, “Look, here is certain party, and if voted to power, your problems and miseries will be over.” And, we get carried way by it, vote the party to power... and, then?

So, it is party politics. And, it will work only on that logic...

Well, I do not intend to add more pollution through my Post...

I am proud of our democracy... and, I am privileged to be its citizen. Yesterday, when I stood for close to forty minutes in the queue to cast my vote, I felt the power of the privilege called Democracy... The voting centre was in one of the heavily-crowded buildings of SRA (Slum Rehabilitation Authority). A school is being run in one of these buildings... This school was our voting centre. In the long queue, waited we all – the young and the old... the rich, not so rich and the poor. My maid servant was there with her daughter, our Society watchman was there with his mother... and, we all had to wait in the same queue for the same purpose, and, above all, with the same power in our arsenal: our voting power!

“Who are you going to vote?” I overheard someone in the queue asking another.

I held my breath!

Only a broad smile was the answer!

“My friend, nobody sees who I cast my vote for,” that smile seemed to convey, “Nobody hears too!”

When I saw this, I felt even more convinced that, despite whatever they say about my country - its democracy, its government - we are a wonderful people... Not all of us are fools or herd... Not all of us can be taken for a royal ride...  Yes, governments come and governments go... but, our faith in the democracy – in the silent power packed in our single vote – remains unmoved... Yes, we all – the masters and servants – stand in the same queue, wait for the same duration, for the same purpose and with the same hope...

Last afternoon, I came home, once again, a lot convinced, that what President Kennedy had said was – and is -  so true...

NOTA – ‘None Of The Above' – is a cynical choice!

We, always, have a choice if we stop asking what our country or the government can do for us... and start asking what we can do for our country...

Vote for self-belief... Hope!

GERALD D’CUNHA

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

WHAT SAY... U Pple ALL AROUND THE WORLD...













Pic.: Sherry Haridas



Some people like my advice so much
that they frame it upon the wall instead of using it.

- Gordon Dickson

One of my students, who has just given his twelfth-standard exams (ISC ), has been keen to do Product Designing in a reputed design-school in India. He had joined a well-known coaching institute to prepare for its entrance exams... and, for, almost, two years the preparations were on... NID, the so-called the best one, did not happen. So, the choice was among the rest around...

This morning, I was intrigued by a FB status from this young-man: Ppl all around the world which college will be better for product design among MIT, ISDI , Srishti and DSK. Which provide with good internship and good campus recruitment?? ....Plz help.  feeling confused."

He was my student for two years. I used to discuss with him, often, about career choices, self-confidence, self-trust, our passions and talents... and, above all, about the need to break-free from a mindset of being spoon-fed in life...

So, the moment I saw his status, I replied: Dear....., remember the story - 'The Father , the son and the donkey... rather, 'The Three Donkeys'? So, if u take advice from 'people all around the world'... pakka, u will end up carrying the donkey all the way home!!! Darling, go by ur gut( u have done enough research) , and that's it. Amen!!!! Love u.


Once, a father and his son loaded pots on the back of their donkey and went to sell them at the market place. By the afternoon, they had sold all the pots and they were, now, returning home...

The son was sitting on the donkey and the father was walking...

They had barely walked some distance. A passerby, who saw them, cried: “What a pity! The young man is enjoying the ride and the old man is made to walk in the hot sun!”

Immediately, the son came down, and the father went up!

They had barely walked some distance. Another passerby, who saw them screamed: “What a pity! The strong man is enjoying the ride and the poor son is made to walk in the hot sun!”

Immediately, they both sat on the donkey!

They had barely walked some distance. One more passerby, who saw them, yelled: “How cruel humans can be! The poor donkey is made to carry two strong men!”

Immediately, both of them came down, lifted their donkey and carried him all the way home!

“Children, how many donkeys are there in this story?” I, often, tease them...

“Threeeeeeeeeeee!” the children know who the three donkeys are...

Then, we all become serious for the real moral:

In life, we need to take advice from others. But, if we go about taking advice from every Tom, Dick and Harry – every passerby on the road – we will, surely, end up carrying our donkeys, all the way home!

What say... u Pple, all around the world?

GERALD D’CUNHA


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

HELPING THEM FIND THEIR OWN GRACE...















Pic.: Pushpa Mistry Kamath



“But what we can do, as flawed as we are, is still see God in other people,
 and do our best to help them find their own grace.
That's what I strive to do, that's what I pray to do every day.”

Today, a gentleman had brought his ten-year-old daughter to be enrolled for our on-going PD course (Pre-teens). Once the girl was sent inside the class, he said, “Sir, she frequently back-answers us, which worries us a lot. See if she can overcome that habit.”

“We will help her to overcome; but don’t stress out... Children do back-answer while growing up... as we all had,” I tried to calm the father.

“But sir, we weren’t as vocal as today’s kids are... We were not exposed to so much of TV, Internet and cell-phone stuff...” Like this, the concerned father went on...

“Our parents said the same when we were growing up back-answering to them,” I said smilingly, “Every age has its own gadgets and one cannot shut children from them... We need to just guide them wisely and patiently... The habit of back-answering will drop, soon, don’t worry,” I assured.

Inside the class-room, this little-one surprised me! Others had completed six sessions, and, for this little-one, it was the first session... She mixed with everyone, took part in every skit, cracked a few jokes and tickled others’ funny bones, teased their brains with some riddles and quiz... and, while all this was happening, I, or any of her little-classmates, did not get, even for a second, the feeling that she had a ‘bad habit’ of back-answering to her parents... On the contrary, she stole our hearts!

After the class, when the father came to pick the little-one, I said to him, “Your daughter was so adorable... She was so expressive, energetic and active... She stole our hearts. Smart girl!” I moved my hand softly over the little-girl's head, as she tucked herself in her dad’s fold, blushing!

I am 56. I thought of myself and wondered: “Would I like if anyone ‘critically’ drew my attention to my flaws – my ‘bad habits’?”

I have enough of my own flaws – bad habits... and, many around me don’t like them. They want me to change, drop my bad habits... But, if they tell me that bluntly, insensitively and mockingly or sarcastically in front of others, I sulk, become angry and end up only resisting someone’s attempts to change me... no matter who that person is, and no matter how good his or her intentions are...

Tell me with caring words, I will listen to you...

Point to my good habits and praise me, I will promise you that I will drop all my bad habits... Yes, I promise!

Even a monkey and a donkey have a need to feel good about themselves. I am a human-being, after all... I deserve to be treated as one...

If you want to bring the best out of me, please look at my strengths... honor them, celebrate them. And, my weaknesses? For goodness’s sake, please shut your eyes to them... and smile...

Life is beautiful when I do it for you... and when you do it for me... Yes, as  Barack Obama said, when we help to see God in each other... find our own Grace!

GERALD D’CUNHA

Monday, April 21, 2014

WHAT WILL WE DO, ONCE WE ACHIEVE OUR GOALS?







Pic.: Chetna Shetty

Presently, our Public-Speaking course is underway. The young-ones, who are clear as to why they need to speak well in public, invariably, do well in the course... They become effective speakers. On the other hand, those who aren't clear, they don’t. So, the key, always, is to help them identify the reason why they want to become good public-speakers... In other words, if they know what they would do with their public-speaking skills, they would, invariably, become great speakers...

The question, therefore, is not whether you will become a great speaker... The question is: What you will do, once you become a great speaker?

Once, a farmer had a dog. All through the day, the only thing this dog did, was: sit on the roadside waiting for the vehicles to come by. The moment a vehicle came by, he would run behind it, howling crazily, as if he was on a do-or-die mission of grabbing the vehicle! This would go on, all day long, day after day...

Seeing this crazy dog-act, one day, a neighbor asked the farmer, “My friend, everyday I see your dog running desperately to catch every passing vehicle. Do you think, he will ever succeed in catching one?”

“That question doesn't bother me at all,” the farmer replied to his curious neighbor, “What, really, bothers me is: What is he going to do, once he grabs one!”


Like this farmer, I, too, am not bothered by the question: “Whether our students will ever succeed in becoming great speakers. Yes, like him, I, too, am bothered by the question: “What they will do once they become great speakers.”

GERALD D’CUNHA

Saturday, April 19, 2014

THE EASTER BUNNY OR THE EASTERN BUNNY?








Pic.: Nachiket Jeurkar

“Sir, I like Easter Eggs,” a ten-year-old said to me with excitement, “The neighbor aunty gives us every year.”

Then, he asked me, “Sir, you like Easter Eggs?”

“Oh yes, dear, I like them,” I caressed the little head, “Easter Bunny brings them to us, every year.”

“Who is Easter Bunny, sir,” the little fellow asked me.

“The good Rabbit, who comes, every Easter, from the far away land, carrying those colorful eggs in his basket for all of us,” I narrated to my little friend. I added, “Just as the Santa Claus, who comes every Christmas carrying gifts for you kids.”

The little-one thought for a while, and, then, said in even more excitement, “Sir is he the same good rabbit who lives in the Moon?”

Now, I knew the Rabbit who lived in the Moon and the Bunny who came with Easter Eggs in his basket were both legends... just as the Santa was. They, always, fired our imagination... and, we all accepted the legends without questioning them... Because, they were something nice, something that made all of us happy, excited and even hopeful... So, I replied to my little friend, “Yes dear... He is the same good rabbit.”

“Do you know the story of the Rabbit who lives in the Moon,” I asked my little friend.

“Yes sir, our school teacher has told us the story.”

“Can you tell me that story?”

“Sure.”

“One Full-moon night, a monkey, an otter, a jackal and a rabbit decided to do something nice to please God. So, when a hungry old-man came to them begging for food, the monkey plucked some sweet fruits from a nearby tree and the otter picked some fresh fish and gave them to the hungry old-man to eat... The jackal, as usual cheated: he stole a pot of curd-milk and offered it to the old-man. The rabbit only ate grass. How could he give grass to the hungry old-man to eat? He felt sad about it. So, he decided to offer himself to the poor man. Immediately, he jumped into the fire the old-man had made to keep himself warm on that cold full-moon-night.”

“Rabbit was burnt?” I asked curiously.

“No, no... He was not burnt,” my little friend explained to me, “Because, the hungry old-man was God.”

“So, what happened then?” I asked.

“God was very happy with what rabbit did. He immediately drew the image of this good rabbit on the Moon, so that all people in this world could remember his noble act,” I was told.

“Yes dear, it is the same rabbit – the good Bunny – who comes from the Moon, every Easter morning, carrying for us those lovely eggs in his basket,” I hatched my own Easter-Egg story...

So what if the story was cooked-up? My little friend was happy, I was happy... The Bunny was happy... And God?

Be good like the Bunny. God will bless you for your goodness. There is new life – a beautiful promise – hidden in each Easter Egg... When it comes out, you will find only the empty shell left behind...

Just as the risen Jesus’ empty-tomb!

A happy Easter in advance...

GERALD D’CUNHA

Friday, April 18, 2014

HANG IT ON THE CROSS





Pic.: Bhushan Thakkar

Nilesh*, who was one of my brilliant students, some twenty years ago, and who is now a very dear friend, sent me a sms, a while ago:


“Sir, please remember us in your prayers on this Holy Friday
and specially pray for our project  ---------- .
May Jesus Christ bless all of us.
May we learn from His sacrifice, patience and humility
in dealing with all our loved ones.
Regards.”

I quickly replied:

“Good morning Nilesh.
Yes, I will keep you in my prayers.
Just pursue your dream with all your sincerity and passion.
Keep faith.
I am sure, Jesus will bless your dream.
Love.”

This friend of mine is a very sincere, passionate and committed individual. I have watched him working hard and long. So, I have no doubt when I say, “Jesus will bless your dream.”

No matter how hard and long we all may work, and no matter how sincere, well-intended and committed individuals we all are, there are times, when we realize that we will not be able to do it alone with our own strength... The tunnel seems too long and dark, the hard work seems futile, plans seem not working and strength seems dying... Yes, anxiety and worry might keep us sleepless...

Today is Good Friday. The last hours of Jesus Christ... We call them - ‘The Passion of the Christ’. The time has come to Him to go on His knees, stretch His hands to His Father and pray, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup (test) away form me; yet, not my will, but yours will be done.”

However strong we are, there are these times – our testing times – which make us go on our knees and seek help from the Higher Power... But, then, eventually, what we all can expect from our prayers is: only that strength in our souls to bear our own burdens with courage, grace and peace.

So, the Cross of Christ is there before us only to remind us, that, we all have to carry our own crosses with acceptance, courage and grace... We need to have silence in our souls, and, only then the faith that Christ died for us makes sense... Christ died on the Cross to show us that, when silence comes within, we will carry our crosses willingly and gracefully... Only then, there will be hope... of resurrection!

God – the Father – did not bail out His only Son, Jesus. And, I don’t think, the Son, Jesus, will ever do it for us... He will give us the silence, the strength, the courage and the grace... and, we all can nail our hopes on His Cross...

This morning, the first thing I heard, as I woke up, was my wife reading out a beautiful passage she had just received on Whatsapp:


If you have a secret sorrow
a burden or a loss,
an aching need for healing...
HANG IT ON THE CROSS.

If worry steals your sleep
and makes you turn and toss,
If your heart is feeling heavy...
HANG IT ON THE CROSS.

Every obstacle to faith
or doubt you come across,
Every prayer unanswered,
HANG IT ON THE CROSS.

For, Christ has borne our brokenness
and dearly paid the cost,
to turn our trials into triumphs...
HANGING ON THE CROSS.

- Lisa O Engelhardt


Hang on!!!

* The name is changed


GERALD D’CUNHA

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

WALK LIKE A CENTIPEDE






Pic.: Pushpa Mistry Kamath
I love giving these three mantras of Public Speaking to whoever comes to me for that ghyan – little kids, young adults, adults or silver-haired. “Hey, here are the three mantras,” I tell them at the very outset:

You shall speak LOUDLY...
You shall speak CLEARLY...
You shall speak from your HEART!

Amen.

Then, I tease them, “Your Public Speaking course – the Rocket Science... The Nuclear Physics - is over. You can go home, now!”

Actually, they all can go home, now!

Just think of it! If you speak loudly, clearly and from your heart, won’t it be sufficient? Won’t it help you carry across your message to your audience effectively?

Too much is made out of it. Fear will not go away till we all die... But, somehow, we have been made to believe it will. So, like a dog trying to catch its own tail, we all run in circles, desperately, to finish our fear off, once and for all!

If I tell them, “Honey, it is okay to be afraid... Fear is your best friend... He motivates you, keeps you alert, agile and geared-up for action, always... He is the only companion who will accompany you till your grave... So, chill... befriend fear... Don’t try to banish him. If you do, he will only frustrate you.”... Yes, if I tell them like this, often, they find it hard to buy my argument. “How can we speak when there is fear?” they wonder.

“Just speak,” I tell them, “Don’t think.”

And, I tell them the story of the Frog and the Centipede...

The Frog, who walked on his four legs, was a philosopher. He, always, did a lot of thinking, analyzing, brooding and worrying. On the other hand, the Centipede, who walked on his hundred legs, was, always, the cool guy. He carried himself so peacefully and gently, that on seeing him, the Frog started thinking and worrying. “Look at this guy, Centipede,” he thought aloud, “With my four legs, I have a helluva time to carry myself, “How does this fellow manage to walk so peacefully and so gracefully?”

So, the Frog, the philosopher, went to the Centipede and asked, “My friend, tell me, you have hundred legs. How do you manage to walk? Can you tell me which leg you put forward first, which next and which after that? You know what, I have only four legs, and I have difficulty figuring it out!”

For the first time, in his life, someone had made the Centipede aware that he possessed hundred legs and, while walking, one of them he had to put forward first, then one more, then one more and so on... So, for the first time, he started thinking about it, and, he could not try to figure it out. “Look Mr. Frog, I have been walking for my entire life with out thinking about which leg I needed to place first and which next. Now, that you have made me think about it... and, the harder I think, the more confused and worried I become. Give me some time to think more; I will get back to you.”

After a week, when the Frog met the Centipede, the hundred-legged creature was a wreck! “Now listen, you thinker, ever since you asked me that question, I have never eaten a morsel... not slept a wink. My life had been so smooth... I walked like a king, so peacefully and gracefully... Now, I find it difficult to lift even my one leg! For God’s sake, leave me alone... and, never ever show your face to me, again... You understand?” 

If you have a story,
and you are dying to tell it...
If you have a cause,
and you are willing to fight for it...
nobody needs to teach you how to speak well in public.

You will sit down for hours
to prepare it well...
You will stand there for hours
to  practice it well...
and, you will go up ‘there’
to tell it well...
fight your battle well.

That’s all there to it -
to the art and science of Public Speaking..

Prepare it... Practice it... Deliver it!

Many years ago, I had written this in my book – ‘Vaachas Chame’ – Grant me the power of Expression. So, I send them home with it. One last time, I remind them:  

“Walk like a Centipede... Don’t worry about which leg, when and how!”

GERALD D’CUNHA

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

THE POWER ETIQUETTE







Pic.: Sherry Haridas

Some days back, I called up one of our Society’s watchmen. “Mishra*, are you busy,” I asked, “Can you come here for a minute?”

“Yes, sir... I will be there in a minute,” Mishra said enthusiastically.

“You are the Chairman of the Society,” the man next to me, who had overheard the conversation, reminded me, “Don’t ask ‘Can you come?’... Order him to come!”

I hid what I wanted to say to this man behind my smile: “My friend, my mom taught me so... and, I have been teaching, for years, this to my students. But, there in the village, my mom did not know it was called – ‘Manners and Etiquette’. She just knew that’s how it was supposed to be!"

There is a power that stems from our positions – as a Minister, a Police Commissioner, a CEO, a Judge, an Income-tax officer, a Chairman, a Secretary, a Principal, a Captain, a parent, a teacher, a doctor, an advocate, and, even, as a compounder of a doctor or a peon in a government office...

Power is heady! To realize how heady it is, how blunt and hurting it can be, we need to be on the receiving end of it...

And, we all have been on the receiving end of this kind of heady power... Yes, we have hated it. Hated when we had to stoop before an arrogant Principal or an over-strict class teacher of our child... We have hated it when our insensitive bosses wanted us to be at their beck and call... We have hated it when a Government officer made us dance to his tunes...

I can tell you, honestly, how I wished a teacher, a cop, a doctor and even a bank clerk had spoken to me courteously... even when I had gone to them for my need. And, I am sure, that’s how everyone - including the one who had reminded me of my position as a Chairman of a housing society - would feel.

There is, also, a power that stems from being a responsible, concerned, caring and compassionate human-being, a fellow-being. Often, I wonder: Why did Jesus Christ wash his disciples’ feet? Why is a kar seva held in a shrine? Why do we accept the simple prasad in a temple with our covered scalps and bowed heads... Yes, I do wonder: Why are we so desperate to send our little-ones to classes and learn the manners and etiquette?

So much so, we, often, remind our little-ones, “Honey, it is more polite and graceful when you say, “May I come in ma’am?” instead of “Can I come in ma’am?”

I am a grown-up... and, here is another grow-up reminding me that I should not call our watchman, saying: “Can you come here for a minute?”... Instead, I should just order – “COME HERE!”

Power Etiquette! Quite heady, I feel...

* The name is changed


GERALD D’CUNHA

Monday, April 14, 2014

CAN THIS BALLOON, TOO, GO HIGH UP?









Pic.: Manoj Nair

What makes a person strong and confident in life? What gives him the inside-strength which helps him walk like a king, speak like a scholar and touch lives like a saint?

Today is Ambedkar Jayanti. When I think of this man – Babasaheb Ambedkar – I feel more and more convinced, that it is never the color of your skin or the caste and class you are born into that decide to what heights you will rise in life... but, it is the substance that your mind, heart and soul contain, that will.

Look at Babasaheb’s life story: Born into a poor, low-caste family, yes, at a time when caste discrimination in our country was epidemic, he went about acquiring his academic, scholarly and transformational power... that, he became a beacon of hope for the entire suppressed community, members of which were shooed as ‘untouchables’... He took up their cause, fought for their rights and dignity... brought the noble teachings of Buddhism into their lives... drafted the newly-born nation’s first constitution!

I, always, remind my young-students, that, in life, self-confidence does not come from outside... It comes from inside. So, I encourage them to focus on the inside – the substance their minds, hearts and souls carry... their God-given talents, hard-earned skills, their unique strengths... and, to believe in them. The more the focus shifts inward, the lesser they would depend on their outward attributes such as their looks, attire, speech and the caste or class... for their self-confidence... “The Sun is a burning gas,” I tell them, “And, just as he does, you, too, will glow with self-confidence when gas inside you make you burn!”

The endearing story of the balloon-vendor, once again, comes to my mind...

One day, a little black-boy was feeling very sad and dejected in his house. Everywhere the black children were discriminated and shooed away, which made this boy feel hurt, sad and angry. Just then, he saw from his window a balloon vendor with lovely balloons of different colors. To attract little children, he would fill the balloons with helium – gas – and let them go up in the air. Fascinated, this boy went near the balloon vendor and, pointing to a black balloon, asked, “Sir, can this balloon, too, go high up?”

“Oh, yes, it can,” the balloon vendor quickly lifted the little boy, “I will show you.” He sent one of the black balloons up, which went high up just like balloons of other colors – red, yellow, pink, green, blue and white...

Then, caressing boy’s soft head with his hand, the balloon vendor explained, “Son, it is not the color of the balloon that takes it high up... It is what it carries inside – the gas!”

The story is an old one...

And, the question: “Sir, can this balloon, too, go high up?”

GERALD D’CUNHA

Sunday, April 13, 2014

I JUST HAD TO MAKE ONE PROMISE TO MYSELF... AND KEEP IT





Pic.Sherry Haridas

It is, always, one step at a time, that takes us – all of us – through our respective thousand-mile journeys…

The Mount Everest is conquered with one brave step, at a time…

And, the mighty elephant is eaten, too, in the same manner – one spoon at a time!

A mother of two girls - age 12 and 13 respectively – was talking on the phone, just now. The kids go to a convent school and come about as quite expressive and confident. Today, while talking to the mother, she asked me if I knew a tutor who could help the kids in English grammar.

“Ma’am, the kids are very good in English; I don’t think, they need a tutor,” I said to the mother.

“But, sir, they have been losing marks in grammar,” the woman told me, “So, some help might help.”

I knew a very efficient English teacher, and, I did pass on her number to the concerned mother.

How did I put my own grammar in place?

These two kids, as I have told you, study in a convent school. Their parents are well-qualified and speak good English… Importantly, the kids come about as confident and expressive.

I was nowhere near the mark when I was their age. Forget their age, I was nowhere when I was in college too. I had studied in a local vernacular medium school… parents did not know English, nor anyone in my close circle… When I turned a teenager, I had also turned terribly self-conscious, particularly of my poor English… and, self-confidence had hit the rock-bottom.

Then, when Prof. Raman came to teach our class (not English) in first-year B’Com, my world changed for ever. I got my dream: to become a fine teacher like him, my hero. That’s enough to motivate me to put my English in place… both, spoken and written. Those were not the days of Google, Wikipedia and YouTube. Forget buying English-improvement books, we couldn't afford to buy our regular text books, even. So, the only way was to knock, seek and ask… be humble, observe, watch, read, write, and, above all, take risk, trust and speak!

Learn one word, one sentence, one idiom or phrase, one quote… a day;

Write one little line, one little poem, one little note or a story… a day;

Read one essay, one story or one poem… a day;

Correct one piece of grammar, add one new word, learn one etymology, find one new synonym… every day;

Yes, I remember making that commitment in my heart, right in the midst of the lecture, when I dreamt of becoming a good teacher like my idol…

No tutor did it… My parents didn’t do it… My desire to become a fine teacher did it. Yes, as they say, my motivation, too, came from my dream, my goal!

The two little girls are too innocent to understand, what I am trying to convey. A voice inside me tells, “No, they are not!”

In my case, what started as ‘a word a day’, when I was a little older than these two angels,  has, today, become ‘a blog a day’...

At that age, I just had to make one promise to myself… and keep it…

Yes, so much for my thousand-mile journey called, ‘English’!

GERALD D’CUNHA