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Showing posts from February, 2016

A MOTHER'S BOARD EXAMS

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Pic.: Anand Sreedhar


As I write this, ICSE Board (Class 10) exams are a few heartbeats away. The students, obviously, are anxious. But, my thoughts, today, really go to the mothers of all these students… In fact, mothers of any Board (Class 10) students. It is their Board exams, too… They are even more anxious!
I have been teaching college students for over 35 years… 12th standard HSC, ISC, CBSE Board students… and the Final-year Degree students. But, strangely, I had never been worried about my students’ exams… I had never been keeping a track of their exams dates, results dates, and, yes, their marks and ranks, too. The only thing I had been keeping a track of was my teaching… and, I had been doing it exactly the way I had done it on my very first day of teaching, with my very first student… with total passion and involvement…
I had learnt to let go of the rest, yes, ever since I taught my first student!
When it came to our own son, my own concern about his Boards was absolutely normal.…

I AM NOT INDISPENSABLE

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Pic.: Chandrasekhar Varier
My wife and I have just returned from a two-day Tai Chi camp held at Lonavala. Rakesh Menon, our Tai Chi teacher, doesn’t believe in any rigid rules, either when he conducts our regular sessions on Sundays or while conducting our annual camps… Yes, he offers us that choice to ‘observe or ignore’ the unwritten and invisible rules, which are right there in front of our eyes…
Yes, Rakesh sir leaves it to us…
For two days, when we were at Lonavala camp, I never heard Rakesh sir insisting on keeping aside our cell-phones. All of us had been so hooked on to our phones – calls, messages, mails, WhtsApp, Facebook and Twitter – yes, the thought of living our two days without touching our phones was not only unthinkable, it was scary, too…
And, trust me, I lived last two days without touching my cell-phone… Well, I did check once, and made one call-back…
There were many missed calls… Many messages… Because my building friend, Anil, had tried my number many times, I called …

FANS OR FANATICS?

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Pic.: Shankar Ramachndran

“From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.” ― Denis Diderot
My dad was a massive fan of Indira Gandhi. Rather, he was a fanatic – an Indira Gandhi fanatic! I remember those eerie days of Emergency (1975-77)… I was a college boy. The only source of information - national or international news – was the daily newspaper and, perhaps, the radio. My dad got it from the local Kannada daily and his friends, who huddled up, late every evening near our local naka. The whole village, most of our relatives and all my dad’s friends had begun to hate Indira Gandhi for the Emergency excesses… But, my dad – hundreds of miles away from Delhi, in this remote village called ‘Derebail’ – would defend fiercely his idol, whom Atalji once hailed as ‘Durga’… and my own dad as Mother Mary!
He was such a blind devotee of Indira Gandhi!
I would witness scores of bitter arguments, rather fights… yes over someone who my dad or any of his sons would never ever meet in their lifetime, leav…

BEND LIKE THE GRASS... SO THAT YOU WON'T BE BROKEN

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Pic.: Natrajan Ramsubramani

“I think there is a tendency for people to get rigid and caught up in their beliefs of what is right and wrong, and they lose sight of humanity. Being human has to come first before right or wrong.”
- Matisyahu


SHOULD I WISH YOU OR SHOULD I COMPLAIN TO YOU?

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Pic.; Rekha Prakash
Some seven years ago, early one morning, I received a phone call from the mother of one of my students. She had a petty grievance and I gracefully assured her that the needful would be done. I hoped, the matter would end there. But, the lady was going on and on and on …
“Rest assured ma’am,” I conveyed to the lady keeping my cool, “It is a small matter.”
“Small matter?” the lady flared up and took off, all over again!
I realized I had committed a sacrilege by saying “It is a small matter”!
“Ma’am, I am sorry, if I have offended you,” I had still the composure to convey to her, “But, trust me, you don’t have to worry … Today is my 50th birthday!”
That didn’t help either … The lady had more to say …
And, I hung up my phone …
“To hell with you,” I said, now irritated and hurt, knowing it very well, that she neither heard what I just said nor felt what I meant when I had said, “Ma’am, today is my 50th b’day.” Yes, all that she was obsessed with was her own early-morning agenda…

ABRAHAM AND ARNAB

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Pic.: Ivan Mathias
There are two colourful words in English – ‘Gullible’ and ‘Charlatan’. I chanced upon both these words in Dr. Abraham Kovoor’s books – ‘Begone Godmen’ and ‘Gods, Demons and Spirits’. It was more than thirty years ago!
For those who do not know who Dr. Kovoor was, I want to tell this: He was a rationalist … never believed in any God or god-men … He exposed all god-men by challenging them to prove their miracles … He called them by that colorful name – ‘Charlatans’ … those who practiced quackery or some similar trick in order to obtain money, fame or other advantages via some form of pretense or deception …
And, to the rest of us – the followers of these god-men, the bhakts, he called so lovingly by the other colorful name – ‘Gullible’!
I would love and hate Dr. Kovoor as I read his books depending upon who he was exposing … If he exposed a baba who I found was a ‘dongi baba’, yes, I would jump with joy, cheer, say “Shabaash Dr. Kovoor”. On the other hand, whenever he ri…

PAST IS A GRAVE ... LET'S LEAVE IT ALONE

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Pic.: Chetna Shetty

“Don’t bring up the past of a person who is trying to improve his future.”
 - Unknown
Sounds familiar?
My friend, Deepak, had shared this quote, this morning. The moment I saw it, I could sense the familiar mixed feelings in my heart …
I have, often, felt angry when people in my life - despite knowing that I have been trying to improve my future, putting behind my past – have kept bringing up my past …
Yes, it has only derailed the process of change.
And, often, I have been guilty for bringing up the past of someone … yes, despite knowing that he has been trying to put behind his past and improve his future.
Past is a grave. If I try to dig it, I know what to expect … Yet, often, I do it in my  times of ignorance … mostly when I am hurt, annoyed or insecure … when I am trying to get even, trying to settle score … when ego clouds my thinking …
And, I know, whenever someone has done it to me, he has done it for the same reason!
If I believe that I am human and need other per…

A SADHU'S MEAL

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Pic.: Ivan Mahias An hour ago, Vivek, my friend, called me to check if I had taken my lunch. I hadn’t. So, he said he would be coming down (He lives in the same building where I have my office) with some dal and rice. In ten minutes, Vivek came to my office with a plate … Some basmati rice, black dal (both steaming hot) and a small quantity of beet-and-onion salad flavored only with lemon and salt. That’s all …
I was hungry and I wanted to eat it when the food was still hot. “Sit down, will talk as I eat,” I said to Vivek.
“No sir, you won’t be able to fully relish your food if we talk while you eat,” Vivek said as he started to go back, “Please relish it ‘fully’ … its color, the aroma, the taste and  even the beauty of the plate …”
“You have nailed it on my head, Vivek,” I confessed, “I need that piece of advice not just while eating, but also while bathing, breathing or walking.”
“Sir, I tell my 13-year-old twins the same thing … “Please see the color of the beet, rice, feel the aroma of…
THE WILD, WAYSIDE FLOWERS
There is, always, something extra-ordinary in the wild, wayside flowers...