Friday, October 31, 2014

"A CIGARETTE IN MY HAND, I FELT LIKE A MAN"






Pic.: Chetna Shetty



“Hey, she is smoking!” This is your topic, “Your time starts now.”

It was a group of three boys and three girls, all junior-college kids. I had given them this topic for Group Discussion, this morning, during our P.D. session.


None of them smoked, leave alone the girls. They came from conservative homes and went to conservative schools and colleges. So, it didn't surprise me when all of them spoke strongly against smoking.

But, then, the topic was – “Hey, ‘she’ is smoking!”

17-year-old Debasmita had objection to the gender discrimination. “To me, smoking IS injurious to health; it sucks your lungs... It kills you,” she said with loads of conviction, “But, it doesn't’ discriminate between men and women, boys and girls – it sucks all, kills all.”

Debasmita pointed that she wasn't surprised seeing girls smoke as much as she wasn't seeing boys do. If boys think that it is their freedom and they can get away with it, so do girls,” she added, “So, I will tell all of them – not just girls – ‘Don’t smoke’...”

Eighteen-year-old Jaanvi argued, “If boys can smoke, why can’t girls?”

“It is not about whether you ‘can’,” pointed Chirag, “It is whether you ‘should’...”

Nobody said ‘the boys can and girls can’t.” Nor did anybody say, “Boys should and girls shouldn’t”

“We should stop boys and girls from smoking,” a young-man suggested.

“No one will listen to our advice,” another young-lady noted, “Once they decide to smoke, they will go all the way and do it.”

“For many of us, the sight of girls smoking outside malls or movie-halls comes as a culture-shock, because we have not been seeing it here,” said another young-man, “But, it is a common-sight in the West.”

“So, what is the moral of the story,” someone had to conclude.

Debasmita did. “Friends, I am happy that we could openly talk today, on this much-avoided subject,” she said, “I am happy that almost all of us are of the opinion that smoking is a health issue and not a moral or gender issue. It doesn't spare any smoker. So, our reaction should be – ‘Hey, SMOKING! and not Hey, SHE is smoking!'...Thank-you.”


Like all other habits, the habit of smoking, too, starts with the influence of someone around us. It happens when our minds are susceptible, weak... It. also starts with a misplaced notion – as made famous by Gary Lawyer’s famous song (Remember 90’s anti-smoking ad on D.D.?) - ‘A cigarette in my hand, I felt like a man!’ Yes, the distorted notion, that one could impress, look macho, bold, free, modern and progressive by holding a cigarette in hand!”

And, like all other addictions, the addiction of smoking, too, is tough to come out from...

So, as Debasmita said, today, it is not about ‘She’ smoking... It is about ‘smoking’... It is about whether or not we want our lungs to be sucked, and whether or not we want to be killed by the smoke!”  



GERALD D’CUNHA



Thursday, October 30, 2014

OUR VANVAS BY CHOICE






Pic.: Devki Joshi



To me, Baba Amte had, always, been a great motivator. Many years ago, The Dawn Club had run a cover story on this hero of ‘Anandvan’ in its motivational magazine – ‘The BLOOM’. But, honestly, I hadn’t followed much about his son, Dr. Prakash Amte...

It took just a 2-hr-15-min Marathi-movie to tell me who Dr. Prakash was and why he was a hero in his own right... as tall and as tough as his legendary father...Both, my wife and I, came back a lot moved by his life, remarkably portrayed by Nana Patekar and Sonali Kulkarni (as his wife)...

Both, Dr. Prakash and his wife, Manda, had studied together in Government Medical College, Nagpur, where they fell in love with each other...

Falling in love with each other is a ‘conscious choice’ a young man and woman make...

It is the same conscious choice that they make when they promise each other in marriage,  before God – “I shall live with you in good times and bad times, in joys and sorrows.”

Before he married Manda, Prakash had made a conscious choice to go to the remote jungle and work for the tribals where there were no roads, electricity, phone, leave alone schools, hospitals and shops... The calling had come while doing his M.S. and he had chosen to go there and spend rest of his life...

But, what about Manda, the girl who he loved? Would it – the ‘vanvas’ -  be her choice, too?

There is a beautiful scene in the movie. Prakash and his supportive brother, Vikas, have brought Manda to be introduced to their parents. Baba Amte, the father, asks his son, “Have you told her about your decision to spend the rest of your life in the jungles?”

Before the son could answer, the would-be daughter-in-law tells the father, “Yes, he has and that is going to be my life, too!”

At the end of the movie, Dr. Prakash gives his acceptance speech, after being honored with Magsaysay Award jointly with Manda for their leadership role in social development among the triabls. After thanking all who mattered in his work, Dr. Prakash thanks his wife Manda... “What did you see in me?” he asks, “What made you stick with me through such harrowing times?”... Then, he calls her to the podium, and she shyingly goes into his arms...

Yes, as the august American audience applauds with wet eyes and as the audience, here in the movie hall, is unable to breathe!


When, by your conscious choice, you settle for cotton shorts and vests as your attire for life, you will never feel you are deprived in life...

When, by your conscious choice, you settle for some simple meal, sleep on mud-floor of your hut, without electricity, telephone or entertainment, you will never feel deprived in life...

When, by your conscious choice, you choose to fast, give away in alms, treat the sick and lonely, you will never feel deprived in life...

Deprivation comes only when the life we live is the life we have not chosen consciously...

The fourteen-years in an ashram, seminary or jungle or wherever is just a metaphor. It only prepares us for an authentic life to come, if we all choose our respective 'vanvas’ consciously...

Please don’t miss the movie – ‘Dr. PRAKASH BABA AMTE - THE REAL HERO’



GERALD D’CUNHA

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WHEN I CHOOSE GOD TO BE MY CHARIOTEER






Pic.Anjana Srivastava

Arjuna was Kshatriya, a fighter. And, he was the best fighter of his time. Still, when it came to the epic battle at Kurukshetra, he was a mentally-tortured soul... He did not want to fight his own cousins and uncles... even though he knew he was the best fighter and even though he was on the side of the ‘righteousness’...

That’s why, when Krishna, the Lord who ruled Dwaraka in human form, offered a choice to Arjuna to accept his (Krishna’s) mighty army to fight for him (Arjuna) or to take Krishna himself as his guide and counselor, the great fighter, Arjuna, chose the latter. He urged Krishna to guide him as his charioteer, which Krishna did...

Arjuna’s plight is our plight, too. In life, who wants war, leave alone a war with one’s own near-and-dear ones? Like him, most of us try to avoid war... we go through our mental conflict: Should we? How can we? We plead God to do away the war from us... our ‘cup’, our ‘test’...

In Mahabharata, we see even Krishna trying his best to avoid the battle. He was equally close to both the sides. Kauravas were adamant and arrogant... They wouldn’t budge, they wouldn’t relent or accommodate. They were driven by their pride and over-confidence. Pandavas, on the other hand, were sensible... They knew what would be the ‘price’ of a long-drawn battle even if they won... So, they did not want war. They wanted Krishna to do his best to prevail upon the Kauravas...

Krishna does... He goes to everyone who mattered in the Kaurava camp – Bhishma, Duryodhana, Karna and everyone... But, they wouldn’t relent, wouldn’t climb down...

Finally, the war had to come upon... Krishna’s army fights for Kauravas, while Krishna himself stands, solidly, behind the Pandavas – the side which was ‘right’... whose intentions were clean... who, despite being mindful of their mighty strength, knew what war would bring upon them...

So, Lord’s advice was this: In life, we should avoid war as much and as far as possible. But, if it forced upon us, we should fight it like true fighters... true Kshatrias...

Trust, God will fight on our side, as our charioteer as He did for Arjuna...

I like this lesson from the Mahabharata... which, to me, is the real life...

All that I plead God is to be on my side and guide...

I can fight any battle forced upon me, then.



GERALD D’CUNHA


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"WHEN YOU KISS YOUR BABY, YOU'VE KISSED THE FACE OF GOD"









Pic.: Amrita Jeurkar



I had no plan to write this till a few minutes ago. I heard a knock on my office glass-door. When I turned back, I saw Vishaka and Prakruti, two l1-year-old girls, were standing outside the door. They wanted to show me a one-year-old baby, who they were holding in their hands, with loads of excitement...

“Choooo, choooo, choooo sweet!” I got up from my seat and opened the door, “Bring in the joy.”

I was enchanted to watch the glow on the faces of the two 11-year-olds. They weren't related to the baby. Still, they poured so much love and affection on the baby... so much faith...

I said, “So much faith.”

As I bent down to kiss the baby, gently, two lines from one of my favorite songs – ‘Mary Did You Know?’ – began to play in my heart:


“And when you kiss your little baby

You've kissed the face of God.”


The song was about Mary, the mother of baby Jesus...



“Mary, did you know

That your baby boy will one day walk on water?

Mary, did you know

That your baby boy will save our sons and daughters?

Did you know

That your baby boy has come to make you new?

This child that you've delivered

Will soon deliver you...”



This baby’s mother was no Mother Mary... But, here was her baby, who, one day, would ‘walk on water’ and ‘give sight to the blind’ and calm the storms’...

Yes, did this mother know, that her baby was a blessed child?

Did your mother and mine know that you and I were their blessed babies?

Well, we may not walk on the same water as Jesus did and we may not calm the same seas as He did... We may not heal the blind and the sinful or raise the dead the way He did...

But, we ‘will’ – this little baby will – walk on our own waters and calm down our own storms... Yes, we will heal and touch in our own way... Give new life in our own way, too...

Mother, did you know this?


That, this sleeping child you're holding

Is the Great I Am...


Mother, did you know?


I can hear the song still...








GERALD D’CUNHA

Video courtesy: YouTube


Monday, October 27, 2014

CAN YOU GOOGLE AND FIND HOW TO GET GOOSE-BUMPS?

















Pic.: Sherry Haridas






By some strange choice, I have never owned a car in my life... Owning great cars doesn't fascinate me, doesn't give me any kick. But, when I read about Henry Ford -1 or Lee Iaccoca... or the legend of Rolls Royce, Mercedes Benz, Bentley, Ferrari and Lombardini... yes, I get goose-bumps all over my body!

Likewise, for last thirty-five years or so, I have never worn a wrist-watch, yes, for some strange reasons. But, talk to me about the legend of Rolex or Rado, I will listen to you forgetting my hunger!

i-Phones have come and gone never touching my imagination. But, why does Steve Jobs, who is long gone, still doesn't cease to touch me, move me?

“You must buy a smart phone,” some of my friends keep reminding me. The old Nokia, which I have been using, obviously, is not an Android phone... They want me to be on WhatsApp groups and make the most of it...

Most of what?

My phone does help me be on WhatsApp. But, I cannot view the images and other things as others do. Whenever I tried to be on some groups, within a day or two, I have felt disgusted with the relentless beeps and senseless chats and purposeless shares... I have felt it as an encroachment into my privacy and a sheer waste of time...

But, I have stopped arguing about it.  If I don’t want it, I, always, have the choice not to allow myself to join any groups. Period.

My privacy,is for me to guard... My peace is my business.

So, for all its fabulous and miraculous advantages, I have not been a die-hard fan of WhatsApp...

But, again, when someone tells me about how Jan Koum and Brian Acton, some young kids, created this ‘Epidemic’ called – ‘WhatsApp’, all out of nowhere... after they lost their jobs at Yahoo and got rejected everywhere else – at Twitter and Facebook... Yes, how they ran this enterprise in some obscure place with just 55 employees... and, then, one fine day – in just four years -  how they sat across the Facebook owner and inked a sale-deal, which history had never heard of before: 19-billion dollars!... Yes, tell me this story, this legend, I bet, I won’t sleep!

“Have you heard of two guys by the name Larry Page and Sergey Brin,” this morning, I had asked a young-man.

“No sir,” the young-man coolly confessed, “But, I can Google and find out!”

But find out what, dear?

You, certainly, can’t find, in life, out how to get goose-bumps!


Can you?


GERALD D’CUNHA



Thursday, October 23, 2014

THE SYNERGY THAT CREATES 'BIG'








Pic.: Elaine Pereira



Siddhartha Basu was 33 when he, along with his wife Anita Kaul Basu, founded their company called ‘Synergy Communications Pvt Ltd.’. While Siddhartha was a multi-talented young-man, particularly in the field of quiz, his wife, with her own unique talents and strengths, was a journalist with India Today Group. I don’t expect anyone to reward me for my guess, that the young-couple was well aware why they were baptizing their new-born baby, their company, with the first name – ‘Synergy’!

“Synergy is the essence of principle-centered leadership,” writes Dr. Stephen Covey while presenting his ‘sixth habit’, in his path-breaking book, ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’. He adds, “When properly understood, synergy is the highest activity in all life – the true test and manifestation of all of the other habits put together.”

In the year 2000, Siddhartha Basu was 46 and his baby, 12, was all set to walk into the teenage. That’s the most harrowing time in the life of one of the greatest living -legends of our times - Amitabh Bachchan. World says, KBC, the TV game-show by Basu’s Synergy, saved Bachchan’s life...

I say, Basu and Bachchan synergized and saved themselves... It was a monumental example of what Dr. Covey made famous through his teachings - a ‘win/win’ situation, a ‘third alternative’. There was Star Plus (later Sony) and there were scores of other players behind the scene, who have been invisible, who have made the Synergy last so long...  Fourteen years and eight seasons later, it is still rocking!

In 2007, Siddhartha Basu’s Synergy Communications Pvt Ltd teamed up with Anil Ambani’s media and entertainment group and became really big. Aptly, it was re-baptised as ‘BIG SYNERGY LTD’!

On the other side, Anil Ambani’s Reliance Entertainment teamed up with legendary- Hollywood-filmmaker, Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks to create something really ‘big’ in the entertainment global screen!

What Star Plus or Sony had Basu hadn’t. What Basu had, Bachchan hadn’t; what Star Plus/Sony, Basu and Bachchan, in combine, had, Ambani hadn’t... And, what Ambani had, Spielberg hadn’t and vice versa...

Life, everywhere, abounds on synergy!


Last night, while watching KBC, there was a team of doctors from Anil Ambani’s Kokilaben Hospital. They were there to promote a social cause – ‘Organ Donation’!

“Wow,” I said in my mind, “how smooth it all can be!”

Ambani and Bachchan have been friends for so many years... How easy and mutually beneficial it can be if we bring friendship – the old name for synergy – into business... Sony and Basu have cast their synergy for so long and so strong... Basu and Bachchan have done the same for so long, and so beautifully... Ambani and Bachchan, and, now Ambani and Spielberg... it all works so miraculously when blend in the true spirit of synergy...

But, I shall, always, call it by the name I was first introduced to it: ‘THE MASTER MIND ALLIANCE’. Yes, my guru, Napoleon Hill, chose to describe it so. He would say:

“The human mind is a form of energy, a part of it being spiritual in nature. When the minds of two people are coordinated in a SPIRIT OF HARMONY, the spiritual units of energy of each mind form an affinity, which constitutes the "psychic" phase of the Master Mind.”

All said and done - and going all around the globe and coming back - it brings home only this truth:

If we are able to strike a great friendship, then, we are, very able to strike a great synergy, too, and create anything ‘BIG’...

Yes, in Life...


GERALD D’CUNHA


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

THE FRONT-PAGE NEWS






Pic.: Ashok Ahuja


For many of us, the morning newspaper is as important as the morning cup of tea. Likewise, the prime-time night-news is as badly a need as the supper on our table!


But, honestly, it is no more so for me. The morning newspapers lie there for days sometimes, yes, un-touched… And, the nights are noiseless, for days together, while the supper is on…


Is my curiosity, the urge, the desperation to know what’s happening around me is just induced by my weak, gullible mind? What if I go about my life without knowing who wins elections and who loses, who is sent to jail and who is sent to Mars? Am I just addicted, just as to my cup of tea or to someone to his puff or peg?


I seriously think, life will go on beautifully – in fact, more peacefully, without newspapers and noisy TV news…


So addicted we all are, so desperate that we do not realize how we end-up watching more advertisements than news on the newspapers as well as TV…


Today’s TOI has prompted me to write what I am now doing…


Out of usual curiosity, I wanted to  have a  look at some headlines on the’ front-page’… One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine… and, behold, there came the ‘front-page’… on the tenth… Imagine, that is the inside… The eleventh page went half for news and half for ad... The twelfth, fully went for ad!

“Is it a newspaper or a ‘fund-raising souvenir’?  I grumbled in disgust. Without wasting a single second more, I stopped counting how many more pages were devoted for ads… 


That’s the end of my today’s news-curiosity…


Who is going to marry whom and who is going to divorce whom in Maharashtra? No sir, just not interested… It is okay if someone thinks I am bad in my ‘G.K.’…  Let the seven-crore question for tonight’s KBC be this:

“Which page was the ‘front-page’ of today’s edition of TOI?”… Your options are…”


Let someone, more deserving and more intelligent, take away the ‘booty’…


This day – and my life – will go one brilliantly, I know…



GERALD D’CUNHA






Saturday, October 18, 2014

WHEN YOU DREAM, LEAVE NO OPTION, SEEK NO OPINION






















Pic.: Candice Correa




“Opinions are the cheapest commodities in the world.”  

I was a struggling twenty-something-young-man in Mumbai, when I first read it in Napoleon Hill’s ‘Think and Grow Rich’. All that I wanted to do, then, was to teach like my idol, Prof. Raman.


Did I get this dream, this desire, from someone around me – my parents, my friends, my relatives, my neighbors, my teachers or any www.coms?


Did I go around seeking their opinions: “How is the teaching field? Is there scope? Will I make enough money, name, fame? Is there security, Job satisfaction? Will students respect me, colleagues accept me? Will my skills be good enough – my English, my public-speaking, my subject knowledge? What about the social status… Will I find a bride? so on and so forth.”


By the way, did I have options – if not teaching, it is selling, accounting, managing or baby-sitting?


All that, as a young-stranger in this big city, I dreamt of was to become a fine teacher like my role-model. I needed nothing more, nothing less… I needed no one’s opinion, no one’s permission… What didn't work for others was not important… It would work for me, if I pursued it with all my heart, focus and determination… ‘Think and Grow Rich’ had made it clear to me. It was drilled into my heart, that whatever my mind conceived and my heart believed, I could achieve!


Life never came with guarantees and warranties to anyone, anytime in the past. And, it will never come so, to anyone, anytime in the future, too. If we approach Life with trust and self-belief, if we believe in the Law of Abundance, then, it is easy for us to approach Life with least anxiety.


“Don’t ask if there will be a place for you in this world,” I remind the young-ones, “when you are ‘clear’ about where you want to be, the Universe carves a place for you!” I add, “When you dream, leave no option, seek no opinion… For, opinions are the cheapest commodities in the world!”


Arrogance?


Not if I say it with enough self-care…


GERALD D’CUNHA




Friday, October 17, 2014

THE TIMES HAVE CHANGED... AND, THE GAMES, TOO







Pic.: Ashok Ahuja

There was a big smile on my face, a while ago, when I saw what a 14-year-old had shared on FB:
 
‘MOST OF THE STUDENTS GET LOW MARKS’, it said in big-bold letters at the top. 


At the bottom, it said, in big-bold letters, again, this: 

‘BECAUSE OF THIS MARK’!


Yes, in between stood a smiling, curly-haired boy – Mark Zuckerberg!


Well, Zuckerberg was smiling, perhaps, knowing well how kids, and even little babies, got on board his bullet-train – Facebook – ticket-less!


This little lady – who will be giving her SSC Board-Exams coming March – is very busy: I have lost the count of the requests she has sent me to play, of all the games in the world, this: ‘Find Your Secret Crush’!


Ma’am, I have taught you ‘Personality Development’…  You know I will be 57 next July… You know my son might get married in a few years from now (Hope, he doesn't read this Post!)… And, you want me to find out, who is my secret crush?


Anyway, sweetheart, you make me feel very young. Thank-you so much!


And, this young-lady, who is in eleventh-standard, is busy, too: She has been relentlessly sending me requests to play – ‘Diamond Digger Saga’!


Incidentally, I have taught this madam, too, ‘Personality Development'!  “Dig deep ma’am, dig deep. But, dig deep right under your own feet, rather, right inside your own heart.  That’s the old saga of ‘Acres of Diamonds’ I have narrated to you, much before you started digging for it here… on FB!


And look at these uncles and aunts, dads and moms, grandpas and grandmas… They are busy, too. Open your account, and behold, their requests are waiting for you, from dawn to dusk, to play -  what even  Gods must’ve been smitten with – ‘Candy Crush Saga’!


Some – many of them are teachers like me; many of them are doctors, advocates, engineers, architects, businessmen, counselors and you name-it-he-or-she-is-there – are curious to check how and when he or she will ‘die’!


Seriously, why on earth, one wants to know that? I can understand, if one is curious to know when and how he or she will marry etc. Yes, Linda Goodman was so sweet for us… She made ‘horoscope’ famous, not ‘horrorscope’!


I remember, a year ago, one of my dear students, who was doing her MBA, had shared her ‘death status’. Her fast friend wrote furiously: “Have you lost your senses?”


Nahin re,” the young-smart-lady pacified her angry-friend, “Just some T.P!”


“What else can it be?” I smiled.


Likewise, I hear those uncles and aunts, dads and moms, grandpas and grandmas – and not to forget our little-ones and young-ones – saying:


“Nahin re… Just bored!”


The times have changed; and, the games, too… But, one thing has not changed at all: we all want something to ‘kill’ our time… some T.P. to beat our boredom…


Call it an ‘escape route’, if you like…



GERLAD D’CUNHA