Saturday, August 30, 2014

THE REMEDY BENEATH OUR OWN FEET















Pic.: Yojana Singh



“Life becomes easier when you learn to accept
an apology you never got.”

- Robert Brault

I heard someone telling this old story, once again, today”

Once, there was a King, who had never ventured out of the luxury of his palace. So, one day, he decided to experience the life outside his palace. Surrounded by his ministers and Generals, he set out on a week-long tour around his kingdom.

By the time the King returned to his palace, he sensed unbearable pain in his feet… The roads have been rough and treacherous. So, as soon as he walked into the palace, the King called his ministers and ordered,, “I want every road in my kingdom be covered with leather carpets. It is too painful for me to walk.”

Now, one of King’s advisers mustered enough courage to tell him: “My Lord, is it not wise to cover your own feet with a small piece of leather instead of skinning thousands of cows and wasting millions of rupees?”

The King wasn't concerned about the pain of his people; he was concerned about his own pain… “It is too painful for me to walk,” he had complained.

Likewise, most of us are concerned about our own pain. If so, the remedy for our pain, invariably, is found right beneath our own feet! Yet, we try finding it outside… by covering the streets with leather carpets… Yes, by fixing the world outside!

And, even if we are concerned about others’ pain, the remedy still remains the same: Unless we first find comfort within, we can not find it outside…

Only a happy man can make another man happy!

GERALD D’CUNHA

Friday, August 29, 2014

THE BROKEN TUSK OF LORD GANESH




Pic.: Chetna Shetty

What is endearing to see, here in Mumbai, is the amazing fact that Ganesh idol is kept and worshiped by almost every kind of person – regardless of religion, class or creed. Mighty rich and the downright poor, Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims, yes almost all rejoicing in the Ganeshotsav… And, the Visarjan... Little ponds and lakes, vast rivers and seas… Lord Ganesh is sent off in any of them…

But, it was not so, where I grew up – Mangalore. Only the members of  GSB (Goud Saraswat Brahmins) – the Konkani community – would keep Ganesh idol at their places… and, on the final day, immersed the Lord’s idol at the wells in their compound. It was a quiet, dignified affair… Mostly a private one.

What I remember the most about it is, that, our next-door land-lady had a GSB tenant. Now, the land-lady was a Christian and had her rigid mindset. She would never allow her tenant to immerse the idol in the well in their compound. So, they approached my mom,. She gladly allowed our neighbors to immerse the idol in our well. Thus, for close to a decade, till they shifted to another place, Lord Ganesh idol continued to seek its final abode in our well…

I was doing my degree college, then… and, just beginning to show more interest in studies… particularly in expressing myself well through my writings… Prof. Raman had come in my life to inspire me to become a teacher and writer like him… But, I did not know, that my passion for writing had something to do with the well-water I was drinking!

The legend has it that the great Vyasa muni had requested Lord Ganesh to write the Epic – Mahabharata. Lord Ganesh had agreed to do it on the condition that Vyasa muni should dictate to him all in one go, without any interruption. To this, the great sage had wittily put a counter condition that Ganesh should never write it without understanding what he was writing! Thus, the deal was struck… and, the Holy Book – with its priceless jewel called ‘Bhagvad Gita’ – was born. However, during the course of writing, Lord Ganesh’s feather-pen broke, and not wanting to break the promise, He immediately cut a portion of one of his tusks, and continued to write with it!

Lord Ganesh, for this reason, is worshipped as the God of knowledge… Yes, apart from the fact that he is, also, worshiped as ‘Vigneshwara’ – the God of protection!

So, as the beats of drums, sound of music and the loud chants – ‘Ganpati bappa morya’ – surround me from all around, I can sense that quiet space from where these lines stem…

I am happy, that my mom – a devout Christian – had gladly allowed our neighbors to immerse Lord Ganesh idol in our well…

For ten long years, as a young boy, I was blessed to drink this holy water!

Wishing all of you a happy Ganesh Chaturthi. May the Lord bless you all with abundant knowledge, and, also, guard you, always.


GERALD D’CUNHA 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

THAT LITTLE EXTRA IN MY 'THANK-YOU'










Pic.: Anand Ashokan


“Courtesy is the one coin
you can never have too much of or be stingy with.”


 A couple of days ago, Ekta, a dear student of mine, who presently pursues MBA through a reputed institution in Mumbai , had posted a picture: “She is holding ma hand, you see!” Ekta had given the caption, filled with pride and excitement...

The present Union HRD-minister, Ms. Smriti Irani, had visited Ekta’s college. The picture captured the moment when Ms. Irani had held Ekta’s hand as she was stepping out of the car.

“Ekta, please don’t wash that hand... yes, till you hold mine!  What say????” I sent my teaser to Ekta, indicating that it was a precious moment, and she had to cherish it for a long, long time. “Till you hold mine” was to convey that I, too, being Ms. Irani’s great admirer, would love to feel the fragrance of her hand, of course, via Ekta’s hand!

“Hehe...Okay sir....not yet washed m comin sir...” Ekta was quick in responding to me.

“I am waiting! BTW, Ekta, where was this, ur college?” I wrote.

“Yes sir,” Ekta confirmed.

Ekta, actually, she shd hv kept her hand on ur head... Her thoughts are so clear, and she is such an amazing communicator. So, I wish that gift comes to u all, young-ones. Tcre. Love,” I couldn't conceal the actual reason why I had asked my student, Ekta, not to wash her hand...

“Yes sir... actually, even I thought so...” Ekta agreed.

There is a reason why I am reproducing here, what seems like, a routine. conversation between me and Ekta, my student. In the para, where I was saying, “Ekta, actually, she shd hv kep her hand on ur head...,” I was, obviously, referring to Mrs. Smriti Irani when I said ‘she’. But, after a while, I felt something inside my heart and began to ask myself this: “If I had admired Ms. Irani so much, why didn’t I write, “Ekta, actually, Ms. Smriti Irani or Ms..Irani or Ma’am instead of ‘she’?”

I know, it was not any big deal, and, neither Ekta nor any one, who had read that routine statement, might have though as I did. .. Still, I was feeling strongly in my heart, that making it personal – Mrs. Irani or ma’am rather than ‘she’ - would have been more graceful, honest, and effective too...

Just like this. Today is the 19th b’day of one of dear students, the bubbly and chubby girl, Renita. Imagine, I wish her on FB, this way:

“Happy b’day”.

Imagine, Renita replies:

“Thanx.”

But, we would, certainly, not like it that way. I would write:

“Happy b’day, dear Renita... Have a wonderful day. Love.”

Yes, I would make it personal - only to my dear student, Renita...

And, my student Renita would, also, reply this way:

“Thank-you so much sir. Lots of love.”

Now, we would get that straight into our hearts... Wouldn't we?

This is just an example.

A hundred conversations – sms’s, WhatsApp, FB, e-mails and wherever it is – happen every day. Some touch my heart; some don’t. I feel happy and elated on reading some; cold and dejected on reading some... And, the reason for the difference is simple...

I don’t forget to use my students' names - Ekta , Vishal or Renita... And, my students don’t forget to use that one word – ‘sir’!

Oh yes, though the sky wouldn't fall if we all forget to do it, something would, certainly, happen inside our hearts...

I am sure, at least Ekta, Vishal and  Renita would agree with my ‘old-fashioned’ logic!



GERALD D’CUNHA



Wednesday, August 27, 2014

THE FARMER WHO WENT ABOUT SOWING SEEDS...






Pic.: Anand Ashokan

Mayank* is a wonderful boy. He is in twelfth standard – ISC and goes to a reputed institution. Besides, he comes from a wonderful family... Both parents are highly educated, and the family is blessed with, almost, everything one would desire.

But, to me, Mayank has been a kind of mystery. He loves me and respects me. But, lets me down when it comes to his attendance... If he attends one class, he misses two, at times, three! I have tried my level best to make him understand... He realizes his problem, gives me a new promise... only to break it, once again! This has been going on right since his eleventh standard. This year, he has Board exams; so, I am quite concerned...

Yesterday, Mayank had attended my class after missing three classes in succession. I consciously decided not to ‘lecture’ him or ‘scold’ him. It was futile, I knew it... If it hadn’t worked for this long, it wouldn’t for whatever period is now left. So, I went about  teaching the class...

The good thing about Mayank is, that, he has a sharp mind and can pick up quickly from anywhere, anytime! Finally, that’s what matters... I have seen, over the years, often, many students like Mayank end up scoring better marks than many of those so-called ‘studious’ students. Most of Mayank-type of students are all-rounders and possess a thinking and creative mind. So, it is best if you don’t put pressure on them... and, just keep guiding them and motivation them to go about their journey...

I was happy about Mayank, last evening...

“So dear, when next?” I teased Mayank as he was packing his bag. Finally, the teacher in me couldn't control the urge to ‘teach’ anymore...

“No sir, I won’t miss the next class, I promise,” Mayank held his throat.

Before I could say anything, his friends gave a big laugh...

“Don’t laugh,” now, I teased them, “He will do better than you guys.”

“No way!” Mayank’s friends roared!

“Well, jokes aside, my dear young-ones, for me, all of you are same... I want all of you to do equally well in exams and life... After all, standing here, don’t I teach the same lessons to all of you? Don’t I do it with the same love, energy and passion?” I was, now, in my full flow..

I remembered the parable Jesus had used – The farmer who went about sowing seeds... Some seeds fell on the pavements; and birds came and quickly ate them up... Some seeds fell on the hard rocks; when the Sun came up, they died in his heat... Some seeds fell amidst thorns and weeds; they got suffocated, couldn’t just make their way up... And, finally, some of those seeds fell on the fertile soil; and they grew up as beautiful, fruitful plants...

Yes, I shared with Mayank and his friends – all my students – the priceless parable of Jesus... “Like that farmer, I go about sowing these seeds, my dear students,” I concluded, “longing for all of them to grow up beautifully, and yield lovely fruits.”

The class was over...

*Name is changed


GERALD D’CUNHA

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

UNLIKE THE LAST SCENE IN JURASSIC PARK






Pic.: Nishant Joshi


I have written many times before on Sir Richard Attenborough. But, invariably, those writings have revolved around two great movies he was associated with: ‘Gandhi’ and “Jurassic Park

‘GANDHI’. Well, Sir Attenborough conceived, produced and directed this remarkable movie. I was 24 when I first watched this classic. What inspired me the most about Sir Attenborough was the fact that he had been longing to make this movie for two long-decades, which meant ever since I was a little boy of four! So obsessed he was to create this epic – rather narrate to the world, on the silver screen, the story of his hero – that, he ran from pillar to post, knocked every possible door, got rejected and dejected as any mortal would, and still refused to give up on his dream... He kept creating and recreating the movie in his mind for twenty long-years, till, finally, he saw it manifest in 1982!

I still admire Sir Attenborough for this reason the most. He believed in his dream, believed that it could become a reality, one day... He remained faithful to his heart, kept knocking every possible door, remained determined and persistent, and, above all, he remained focused and committed, all through...

To me, as a young boy, with my own little dreams in my heart, it was a very important source of inspiration... Yes, Mahatma Gandhi was my hero, too. So, when I watched the movie – countless times that is – I was doubly inspired!

There are so many brilliant scenes in Sir Attenborough’s movie, that, I, often, watch on YouTube just those scenes for inspiration... One of them is this:






This was South Africa. Gandhi’s initial days of Satyagraha. The young-man walking with young Gandhi was a Christian priest. He had heard about Gandhi’s unique non-violent struggle against injustice and oppression... Importantly, he had learnt that Gandhi was hugely influenced by Christ’s life and teachings... So, here he had come to meet his hero... and, look, how well Attenborough has captured the drama called fear and courage, love and hatred... How well he has shown why love alone has to triumph, in the end!

I am a Christian, too. This scene shall, always, keep me humble!

JURASSIC PARK’. Sir Attenborough had just acted in this amazing action-movie produced and directed by one of the most admired movie makers, Steven Spielberg. Now, Spielberg was a very passionate creator of movies. He, always, stretched himself to greater limits to give a real movie-experience for his viewers. He, too, believed in following his heart and produced movies that stood out tall... ‘Jurassic Park’ had plenty of scenes to keep us on the edge of our seats, which shall remain forever etched in our minds.

But, of all the scenes, the scene I shall cherish for ever is this:






Sir Attenborough had played the role of the creator of this one-of-a-kind theme park called ‘Jurassic Park’. He had invested his entire life in it... So passionately and so dedicatedly he had built it over so many years... It was his life, his mission, his pride, his everything...

And, then, it all ends in a very sad manner: the dinosaurs, your own creations, destroy, mercilessly, all that you have built... Your years and years of work is all gone in a few ruthless moments... Now, all that you want to do is run... and save your life... Leave back everything and go, run...  Yes, that’s all!

Every time I watch, in that final scene, Sir Attenborough staying back, for one moment, to look back at his crumbling world, my heart stops!

At 90, the grand-old-man of amazing cinema, Sir Richard Attenborough, passes away. He had started acting at the age of 19... Which means, more than seven decades he lived in the celluloid world!

But, unlike in that last scene of ‘Jurassic Park’, he has gone leaving behind a very, very rich world... His legacy...

Thank-you sir for inspiring.


GERALD D’CUNHA

Videos: YouTube

Monday, August 25, 2014

'ACCEPTANCE' IS NOT JUST ANOTHER WORD





















Pic.: Chetna Shetty




“For after all, the best thing one can do
when it is raining is...
let it rain.” 



Whether you agree with it or not, Mondays do bring, for most of us, those blues which none of us likes...

I had a relaxed Sunday, yesterday. At night, a friend of mine had invited some of us for a dinner at a lovely restaurant. None of us could attend his daughter’s marriage, which had taken place in Lucknow, recently. So, he wanted to share his happiness with some of us, here in Mumbai. We had a wonderful time and returned home quite late...

This morning, I had my early-morning lecture. So, while teaching my students, I could understand, very well, the meaning of the phrase – ‘Monday Blues’!

But, then, there was no option but to beat them... and beat them black and blue!

How did I do it?

Being a Sunday, I hadn’t come to my classes, yesterday. So, this morning, till I was in the midst of my lecture, I didn’t realize that a wonderful lady, who lived in this building - and was suffering from cancer - had succumbed to it, finally, last night. It was time for the body to be taken away for cremation. I wound up my class a little early, went to the residence of the deceased lady, condoled her husband, son, daughter and the rest in the family... and, then, joined the funeral procession, spent some quiet moments at the cremation ground... and, then, came back to move on...

Once here, I wanted to write, in my blog, something about death... something about the loss, suffering and acceptance... So, the moment I sat down to write, I watched a funny video-clip posted by my friend Joe... Joe is a funny guy... He has a chronic sense of humor and can make you laugh at your worst times!

So, as destined, his funny share made me feel a lot lighter... My Monday blues had, already, been washed away by my experience at the lady’s funeral... Something bigger had helped me deal with something so small as my Monday Blues... I had met all the family members and they all had come to that powerful inner-state called – ‘Acceptance’. They knew that the death was coming, that it was inevitable... So, when it happened, they were all prepared silently. They cried; but, there was strength and dignity in their sorrow... To me, it was a moving experience...

“Monday Blues,” I was asking in my mind, “What is that supposed to be?”

Joe makes you laugh... Death makes you cry. Last night was a party by someone so nice and it was so full of happiness... This morning was the funeral of someone so nice... and it was so full of sorrow!

Life is such. Yes, Life is such! Where, Monday is just another day... Blue is just another color...

But, ‘acceptance’, I strongly conclude, is not just another word!


GERALD D’CUNHA

Sunday, August 24, 2014

TWO HORSES






Pic.: Nishant Joshi


When I look around me, I find two kinds of people: those who have come on this earth to help me, guide me, teach me, empower me, inspire me… and, those who have come here to be helped, guided, taught, empowered and inspired by me…

I really feel, that, it is something so beautiful about living in this world!

Yes, to be thirsty and humble enough to look up to someone…
And, to be mighty and kind enough to reach out to someone…

When I look at one side, I can see so many people who look up to me… I know, as a teacher of my students or writer of my readers, as a father of my son or brother of my brothers or as a husband of my wife, God has sent me here to touch their lives… Make a difference in them…

And, when I look at the other side, I can see so many people whom I look up to… I know, as a student, son, brother, husband, patient, client, citizen, church or society member, God has sent so many of those wonderful souls, here, to touch my life… Make a difference in me…

Just today – even when the Sun still stands in the sky – I can count so many amazing people, near and far, whose help I have sought… whose touch I have felt… yes, already… even before the Sun has set…

Likewise, I know – and I really feel strong and blessed when I think about it – that, even before the Sun has gone home, today, I have, already, reached out to so many of others…

Yes, that’s something so beautiful about living in this vast barn of God, called ‘World’…

I have a wonderful fable, from an unknown author, to share…


         TWO HORSES

Just up the road from my home is a field,
with two horses in it.
From a distance,
each horse looks like any other horse.
But if you get a closer look,
you will notice something quite interesting...

One of the horses is blind.
His owner has chosen not to have him put down,
but has made him a safe and comfortable barn to live in.

This alone is pretty amazing!

But if you stand nearby and listen,
you will hear the sound of a bell.
It is coming from a smaller horse in the field.
Attached to the horse's halter
is a small, copper-colored bell.
It lets the blind friend know
where the other horse is, so he can follow.

As you stand and watch these two friends,
you'll see that the horse with the bell
is always checking on the blind horse,
and that the blind horse will listen for the bell
and then slowly walk to where the other horse is,
trusting he will not be led astray.

When the horse with the bell returns
to the shelter of the barn each evening,
he will stop occasionally to look back,
making sure that the blind friend
isn't too far behind to hear the bell.

Like the owners of these two horses,
God does not throw us away
just because we are not perfect.
Or because we have problems or challenges.
He watches over us
and even brings others into our lives
to help us when we are in need.

Sometimes, we are the blind horse,
being guided by the little ringing bell
of those who God places in our lives.
And, at other times, we are the guide horse,
helping others to find their way.

The Sun is still there… Let’s look up to the sky and say “Thank-you, Lord”!


GERALD D’CUNHA

Saturday, August 23, 2014

NICHOLAS WINTON Vs. ICE-BUCKET CHALLENGE













Pic.: Girish Gupta



But when you give to the needy,
do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.”

- Jesus Christ

Have you heard about a man called Nicholas Winton?

Most probably, you haven’t...

At least, I hadn’t.

Last week, Ganesh Waran, one of my friends, who lives in Australia, had posted a BBC video-clip about this man... It was then I learnt, that he was one of the true unsung-heroes of World War – 2 times. Then, I got hooked on to his stories... searched more about him and learnt this:

Nicholas Winton was a handsome young-man, had a smooth-going life in England... Just before the War broke out, he had been on a holiday to Czechoslovakia, and, then, was left caught up, there, to accomplish the most unlikely mission of his life... He ended up saving the lives of 669 children, by secretly arranging to transport them to England. The parents of these children, mostly Jews, who knew what fate awaited all of them, wanted their little children, at least, to survive the holocaust of Nazis... Thus, Nicholas became their Moses... But, one can imagine the kind of risk, this Moses had taken upon him!

That was during the Nazi times...

The children Nicholas had saved were well brought-up, here, in England... All of them were adopted by great families... rose in life to become great citizens of the world... raised their own families, their children and grand children... But, amidst all this, they were unaware of the most important truth in their lives – that, it was because of a man called Nicholas Winton, that, they were all alive and thriving, now!

And, for fifty long-years, Nicholas kept the noble mission he had accomplished under the wrap... Not even his wife, Niki, knew about it. Then, one day, accidentally, the wife found the scrap-book of her husband... and, she was overwhelmed with awe! In spite of the colossal mission that her husband had accomplished, a word was not spoken about it even in the ears of his own wife!

So, it was Niki, the man’s wife, who got BBC in the picture... and, the rest became the great story!

A few months ago, Nicholas Winton completed his 105th birthday... You can imagine, who must be the happiest souls on a celebration like that!

Now, what brings tears to my eyes and makes my hair stand on my body, is not the heroic act of Nicholas... It is the fact that he chose to keep it as ‘a quiet deed’ for over half a century... That would be a herculean task to accomplish to any human on this earth... Imagine, to keep it away from one’s own wife even!

When Ganesh shared this story, there was a strong urge in my heart to write something about Nicholas Winton... But, then, it had to wait till this morning...

This morning, I happened to see a Post (95.1 WAPE  Jacksonville’s # 1 Hit Music station) shared by, Pragati Dudi, another friend of mine, who lives in the US. In the Post, a  tough guy has a question:

“WHAT IF I TOLD YOU...



YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO DUMP ICE ON
YOUR HEAD TO DONATE TO CHARITY”


Believe me, my heart turned ice-cold when I read it!

I, immediately, decided to write on Nicholas Winton and found a befitting title, too:

“NICHOLAS WINTON Vs. ICE-BUCKET CHALLENGE!”





GERALD D’CUNHA

Video courtesy: YouTube