Tuesday, June 30, 2015

"THERE ARE ONLY AS MANY DAYS IN THE YEAR AS YOU MAKE USE OF"















Pic.: Anand Ashokan



“Don’t be fooled by the calendar.
There are only as many days in the year as you make use of.”

Charles Richards


One of my favorite expressions is this: “God has given all of us the same twenty-four hours in a day. To President Obama, Bill Gates you and me… yes, God has given to all of us the same twenty-four hours in a day.”

‘I have no time,’ is one of lamest excuses in life. “I have no interest,” or “I have no motivation,” or ‘I have no discipline’… probably, we might find some takers for these reasons. But, ‘I have no time”, sorry… No way!

An interesting observation is: In life, we, always, find time to do the things we love and feel excited about. If so, the trick is to discover what we love to do… or learn to love what we do… feel excited about it… Yes, that’s the only way, perhaps, we can make the most of those twenty-four hours we are endowed with.


Some days ago, I heard a speaker asking his audience this question: “How many days do you think are there in a year?”

“A stupid question!” Yes, that’s how even I thought when the speaker asked.

Obviously, 365. Or, add one more, if it is a leap year.

“Nothing obvious about it, my dear friends,” the speaker teased his audience, “What is obvious is this: There are only as many days in the year as you make use of. Don’t be fooled by the calendar!”

Charles Richard’s quote, which the speaker had used, had driven home the message, so beautifully!


GERALD D’CUNHA



Monday, June 29, 2015

ASK YOURSELF WHAT MAKES YOU COME ALIVE






















Pic.: Amrita Jeurkar



“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself
what makes you come alive. And then go and do that.
Because, what the world needs is people who have come alive.” 

— Howard Thurman


“A lot of passion goes into it… A lot of focus and commitment, a lot of discipline and people-skill and, above all, you need that fire in your belly to succeed, to excel. Mind you, I haven’t still said, ‘you need ‘talent’…”

Yes, I told this to a young student of mine, this morning. Andrew Rieu’s magical piece (video) – ‘Nightingale Serenade’ was being played on my PC as the young-man walked into my office. . Apparently, he had not heard of the great composer or his music. So, he asked me innocently, “Sir who is he?”

“Andrew Rieu,” I said, “Not heard of him?”

“No sir,” the boy said sincerely, “But, this piece is just amazing.”

“Yes, all his music is amazing; He is one of my favorites… Can’t have enough of him,”  “I said to my student. Then, a pause later, I asked him, “What, in your view, makes any work – not just music – so amazing, so brilliant?”

“Hard work sir and loads of luck,” the young-man did not wait to reply.

“Anything else?” I probed.

“Maybe, a lot of support from others… Maybe lots of practice… I am just guessing, sir,” the boy was quite sincere.

“Do you have any dream – some burning dream – to become somebody in life?” I asked lovingly our young-man, “Are you aware of any God-given talent… something that you know you are gifted with, love doing naturally… and love doing it without being coaxed?”

“Well, writing,” the young-boy told me quickly, “I feel happiest when I express myself through my writings… It comes to me naturally and, it makes me feel confident and fulfilled.”

“So, if you have to take this talent of yours further… allow it to unfold to the fullest, the way Andrew Rieu has allowed his music talent to unfold – yes, in your view, what does it take?”

Before our young-man could answer my question, I wanted to tell him this: “A lot of passion goes into it… A lot of focus and commitment, a lot of discipline and people-skill and, above all, you need that fire in your belly to succeed, to excel. And, I haven’t still said, ‘you need ‘talent’!”

We both watched the video – ‘Nightingale Serenade’ – one more time. And, like thousands in the audience did, we soaked in it with mind and heart coming to a standstill!






GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Amrita Jeurkar


Sunday, June 28, 2015

LET THE ROAD TAKE YOU







Pic.: Chetna Shetty



"If I were to say, 'God, why me?' about the bad things,
then I should have said,
'God, why me?' about the good things that happened in my life.”

-       Arthur Ashe

Some people can charge you with energy, life. Kannan, who must be older than I am (I am 57), is one of them. You can feel he is coming from yards and yards of distance… You can feel his energy. And, he can regale you with his stories – most of them revolve around his countryside adventures… “When it is pouring, I get into my car… and drive for miles,” he told us this morning in our Tai Chi class, “I love the interiors, the rustic landscape… simple life, simple people and simple pleasures. You shouldn’t plan too much, just get into your car and go… Let the road take you!”

I loved the last line: “Let the road take you!”

Kannan had to battle Prostate cancer. He had started Tai Chi as per his doctor’s advice. Yes, he has immensely benefited from it, as he himself claims. But then, there is one thing that keeps our sanity when we have to pass through our respective harrowing times… For Kannan, it could be during cancer; for someone else, it could be during something else… And that thing is: our attitude of gratitude!

Yes, this one thing is enough to end all our self-pity and blame-game.

Many years ago, in one of our Workshops, a middle-aged lady narrated her pain in the class and asked that familiar question, “Why me?”

“Why not you?”, the teacher asked the lady…

It took the next one hour for us to grasp the significance of that counter question: “Why not you?”

You know who Nick Vujicic is and what he does with his life… “It is not a life without limbs,” he goes around the world inspiring people, “It is a life without limits.” He keeps drilling into our hearts this, “Don’t complain about what you don’t have; be thankful for what you have.”

It is tough, sir. It is tough. Complaining comes to all of us so easily, so naturally. Gratitude doesn’t come to us that easily, that naturally. So, someone like Nick or Kannan should come around us to shake us hard: “Come on, if it is pouring hard outside, don’t sit and crib…Choose to enjoy the rain… Get into your car and drive… Let the road take you!”


There is that famous letter attributed to Arthur Ashe, the legendary Wimbledon star of sixties and seventies. During his second heart surgery, due to the infected blood he had received, Arthur had contacted AIDS.  Those were the early days of AIDS; the awareness was almost not there. So, in his lonely days, he received thousands of letters from his fans offering wishes and prayers. One of them read: “Why did God have to select you for such a bad disease?”

Let me rest my case with the Legend’s legendary reply:

50 Million children started playing Tennis,
5 Million learnt to play Tennis,
5 lakh learnt Professional Tennis,
50 Thousand came to Circuit,
5 Thousand reached Grand slam,
50 reached Wimbledon,
4 reached the Semifinals,
2 reached the Finals and
when I was holding the cup in my hand,
I never asked God
"Why Me?"
So, now that I'm in pain…
How can I ask God "Why Me?"


GERALD D’CUNHA


Saturday, June 27, 2015

THE GENTLE ORDER: HOLD THE FORT... AND A GENTLE PROMISE








Pic.: Manoj Nair
Well, as long as there is life, there is struggle. Harivansh Rai Bachchan’s advice – “Jab tak jeevan hai, tab tak sangarsh hai” – is not there just to help his two sons hold the fort – hang on... It is there to see all of us through, too. Believe me, at 5, when I was up, today, the first voice I heard in my heart was this:

“My son, hold the fort; for, I am coming!”

Who is that? Who is that telling me “I am coming”?

The more I observe life from the ringside, the more I get convinced that we cannot separate our problems and challenges from our life. Before one ends, another begins… That’s how life goes, actually. So, it is only sensible to open our eyes and see the reality… that, if we wish to live well, live valiantly, we should be willing – gladly – to embrace all the struggles the life brings forth to us…

There are going to be storms through my voyage…

There are going to be thorns along my path…

There are going to be nasty, heartless people making it difficult for me…

There are going to be doubts and anxieties: “Will I be able to make it?”… “When is this battle going to end?”

The ability to endure, a little longer, is what I ask God each morning. For, I know it is He who promises me:

“My son, hold the fort; for, I am coming!”


About one hundred and fifty years ago, in the thick of a fierce battle, General William Tecumseh Sherman had given this order to his soldiers: “Hold the fort (against the enemy at Allatoona) at all costs; for, I am coming.”

Yes, I hear You, I hear You, my Lord, my General!


GERALD D’CUNHA

Friday, June 26, 2015

THE SUPPERTIME








Pic.: Chetna Shetty



Many of us know, that Gandhi would find strength and courage to deal with the most challenging times in his life on immersing in his favorite hymns… ‘Vaishnav Jan to’ and the Christian hymn ‘Abide With Me’ are two most influences in his life.

Martin Luther King Jr. had his favorites… Tagore had his own…

Yes, you and I have our own…

In the midst of the worst of my moments, and in the thick of my confusion, often, I go back to some of my favorite hymns… I do not need to be in a cathedral for it… I do not need an altar or a choir around me… All that I need is my quiet space… all by myself… with the load of all my problems and confusion weighing over my head… and, my favorite hymn sung by one of my favorite singers…

Today, it was ‘Suppertime’… the timeless hymn sung by legendary bass singer, George Younce. This version, particularly, moved me to tears… and made me soar with confidence… because, it was so amazingly performed by him on stage despite his fragile health conditions (heart and kidney)… Just watch at the playful spirit of the man… Just listen to the might of his voice, his talent…Just feel the life he puts into his craft… yes, till the last days of his life!

And, when I saw the young singers around him – probably half a century younger than he was – going on their knees to sing along, my heart stopped!

In September, 2004, George Younce made his final stage appearance. It was as a surprise guest at a Bill Gaither event in Cleveland. There, he sang his signature song, the magical ‘Suppertime’ – yes, one for the last time… And, to the spell-bound packed audience, he said: “Should the Master come tonight, I’m packed and ready to go.”

George Younce, the one of his kind, the legend, died on April, 11, 2005. He was 75. Over 1,500 people attended his funeral, where the finest singers sang to pay their tribute to the tallest of them all. Bill Gaither’s (a legend himself and who held George as his Hero) wife, Gloria, paid her touching homage:

“He taught us to laugh until you cry, live until you’re free... and not to save face, but save relationships.”

So, here are the lyrics and here is the song, the hymn - ‘Suppertime’… and, here is my own tribute… to the man, the talent… the legend. GEORGE WILSON YOUNCE.


When I was but a boy in days of childhood
I used to play till evening shadows come.
Then winding down an old familiar pathway
I heard my mother call at set of sun

Come home, come home
It's supper time
The shadows lengthen fast.
Come home, come home,
It's supper time
We're going home at last.

One day beside her bedside I was kneeling,
And angel wings were winnowing through the air.
She heard her call for supper time in heaven
And now I know she's waiting for me there.

Come home, come home

It's supper time
The shadows lengthen fast.
Come home, come home,
It's supper time,
We're going home at last.

In visions now I see her standing yonder,
And her familiar voice I hear once more.
The banquet table's ready up in heaven,
It's supper time upon that golden shore.

Come home, come home
It's supper time,
The shadows lengthen fast.
Come home, come home,
It's supper time,
We're going home at last.

We're going home at last.






GERALD D’CUNHA


Thursday, June 25, 2015

THINK CLEARLY... FEEL DEEPLY... ACT DECISIVELY







Pic.: Pushpa Mistry Kamath

Just a few days ago, in one of THE DAWN CLUB functions, I heard our dear teacher, and my friend, Swami Brahmavidananda (we still call him fondly Ram Mohan sir) saying this. He was imparting a crisp message to all our outgoing students. “My dear young friends, if you remember these three simple mantras in life, you can handle any situation in life:

Think clearly…
Feel deeply…
Act decisively.

I immediately said in my mind – ‘Amen’!

Now, let’s mull over what sir had said…


The first mantra – THINK CLEARLY:

When the mind is not cluttered, we are able to think clearly. Any situation in life can be handled well only if we are able to think clearly… never magnifying the situations or undermining them… Never driven by our prejudices or by public opinions… What people may say…? What if this happens or that happens…? What if things go wrong…? Will I make a fool of myself…? Will I be hounded…? Will people remain trustworthy…? I shouldn’t have done that… I shouldn’t have helped him… I do not have what it takes… I can never mach up to him… If alone I had a good family support… If alone I had self-confidence in me/… If alone I had means to complete my education…

Yes, so long as the mind is cluttered with these thoughts of regrets or anxiety… so long as it is stuck in their trap, it is unable to think clearly…. It is difficult for us to handle situations in life well…


The second mantra - FEEL DEEPLY:

Being sensitive and being sentimental are as different as chalk and coal. The former comes from a supple mind and a caring heart. All caring begins first with self-care. If we are able to care for our own well-being first, if we are able to feel loved enough in life… then alone we are able to truly care for others, empathize with them... reach out to them. Others’ problems are not our problems… The moment we are too preoccupied with solving others’ problems or trying to change the world, our trouble would begin.

So, by the second mantra – ‘Feel Deeply’ – what I understand is that when we have a sensitive mind and a caring heart, we only become stronger, wiser and richer. On the other hand, when we have a sentimental mind and a heart which has not cared for itself, it is difficult to handle situations in life well…


The third mantra – ACT DECISIVELY:


It is our ability to think clearly and feel deeply – yes, when combined together – would enable us to act decisively.

To me, it is summarized in Lord Krishna’s advice to the troubled Arjuna… What an appropriate setting – the battle ground!

To me, it is, also, summarized in the last hours of Jesus Christ’s life… His mind has become weak, it is cluttered, and the heart has lost its strength. He is frightened, he is in pain… He knows what is coming… the humiliation and torture, pain and agony… So, he goes to Gethsemane Garden, falls on his knees, and prays, all alone, the greatest prayer of His life – "Father, do away this cup (test) from me; but, if it is Thy wish, Thy will be done.”

When the prayer is done, the mind is clear… the heart has rested… Jesus is ready to face the situation… The ‘cup’… The ‘test’.


So, I am saying ‘Amen’, all over again.


GERALD D’CUNHA

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

THE FATHER'S DAY IS NOT OVER, YET...






Pic.: Geeta Kulkarni

Last night, there was this message in my FB inbox. It was from Sushil Shankar, a dear old student and friend of mine. He wrote:

“Hi Gerry sir, I read your post on Father’s Day. It inspired me to write on my father, too. Please read and evaluate.”

Today my daughter wished me “HAPPY FATHER’S DAY”.

It made me go back in my past… I lost my father to diabetes 32 years ago. He had just crossed 50 years.

He was a Diabetes-Mellitus patient, with foot ulcers. Later on, he developed kidney failures and died during dialysis procedure. His body couldn’t bear the dialysis, which already was suffering the after-effects of medication and diabetes.

When my dad was alive, I don’t remember celebrating a Father’s Day or any such days which are in vogue now. Only my and my brothers’ birthdays were what we celebrated. We never celebrated our dad’s birthday. I have one sibling left, and he doesn’t even know our father’s date of birth!

My father never visited any temple or place of worship. He never believed in God as a stone… He was against all religious practices and rituals. He had a heart to help anyone in trouble. An incident, which is etched in my mind, is about a youth he had helped against everyone’s advice.


Our house was located near a road and was on the ground floor.  Anyone who came in to our building area encountered our house first. It wasn’t unusual for people passing by to stop and ask for drinking water. 

So, sometime before my father passed away in March 1985, on a Sunday afternoon, we were eating lunch. Some people came to our house and asked for drinking water. As usual, we gave a bottle of water. A few minutes later, again more water was requested. By then, we had finished our lunch. My father asked me to go and find out who was needing so much of water. I checked outside and saw around a tree a gathering of people from nearby houses.  On reaching the spot, I found a youth, who seemed to be in his early twenties. He was lying there under the tree. He was looking sick, tired and very dirty. Bad smell was emanating when we stood near him. He had a watch with him and he was holding it out for sale…

I went back to my house and recounted the scene to my father.  He wanted to see the situation himself. So, he came to the scene of the incident. People around were saying that the youth might be a thief, trying to sell a stolen watch etc…

My father inquired with the boy. The boy told, that he was travelling from Delhi to Miraj. His sister worked as a nurse in a hospital there. During the journey, the boy suffered diarrhea. In one of his rounds to the loo, his wallet with money and tickets slipped out and fell into the train tracks. His father, a retired army person, was an amputee. He had spent two days in Mumbai for help. Some people had directed him to our residential area since there was a large Malayalam-speaking population. The boy was a Keralite born in Delhi… Well, this was what the boy claimed to us as his story…

Meanwhile, some people had informed the police. The police came to get the boy. He looked terrified seeing the police. My father decided to help the boy. He told the inspector, that he would take the responsibility of the boy. Thus, he went to the police station, gave a written guarantee to this effect and he  brought the boy home.

At home, the boy was made to bathe, given a set of clean clothes, and served hot food. My father asked me and an uncle to go with the boy to CST ( It was V.T Station then) and place the boy on a train to Miraj. We purchased ticket for the boy and saw him off, handing him some additional money for his expenses during the journey.

What I still remember distinctly is this:  everyone had advised my father not to trust and help the boy. But my father told them straight: “I have a young son, who will, also, go out into the world… He can, also, be in a situation like this boy, one day.”

My father was convinced about the boy’s story and innocence.  Later on, I came to know, that the money which was given to the boy was a part of our monthly milk allowance!

Some days later, we received a letter. It was from the boy’s elder sister. She profusely thanked my father for the timely help to her brother. My father was no more by the time the letter arrived!

In my life, I have struggled at various instances and places. In these situations, I have received help from many people around me. I truly believe, that the help which my father did that day, years ago, still helps me – his own son - in difficult times!

Thank-you father for being the father you were. I do not know where you are… but, in my heart, I remember you every day.

“A HAPPY FATHER’S DAY.”


It was 11 in the night when I read this message… and, it was the first blog post Sushil had attempted to write. Yes, as he claimed, inspired by my own post… The post had touched me… because there was ‘heart’ in it… That was my evaluation….

“And, that’s really enough, dear Sushil. Write with your heart, and write regularly. Best wishes and love.”

I had promised Sushil, that I would be sharing his post with my readers, today. I have kept my promise.



GERALD D’CUNHA



P.S. With Sushil’s permission, I have taken a small liberty to shuffle some words/lines here and there.

http://enteachhan.blogspot.ae/