Tuesday, March 15, 2016

WHAT I LEARNT FROM MY GSB FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS





Pic.: Alwyn Mathias

In my home town, Mangalore, where I grew up, people from two communities - Catholics and GSB (Gaud Saraswat Brahmins) – speak Konkani. But, we both find each other’s Konkani funny… and pull each other’s legs. Throughout my school and college life, I had plenty of classmates and friends belonging to GSB community. I was close to many of them… Pai, Kamath, Shenoy, Baliga, Nayak, Prabhu, Kini… and, yes, Mallya!

What I still remember about my GSB friends is:
Most of them – almost all – hailed from business families… small, medium-sized and large. Rarely, they came from service families. Top banks of those days – Canara Bank and Syndicate Bank to name a few – were founded by GSB visionaries… Top educational and medical institutions (Heard of Manipal?)… even industries and newspapers - yes, all these were built by GSB pioneers.
The young boys and girls from GSB community were extremely conservative… They never flaunted their wealth… They wore simple, clean clothes… They all looked serene and graceful with their fair complexion… Though most of them ate certain non-vegetarian food, particularly fish, they lived more like Brahmins (That’s why GSB)… But, they never ever chose to be extreme in anything… They were more socially amicable.

One of my classmates (a GSB) in final-year B’Com offered me an office-assistant’s job immediately after my exams. I had never worked in my life; therefore, I wanted some work-experience. Moreover, my dad had just lost his job and I had become quite conscious of the financial stress at home. So, this 150-rupees temporary job did a lot to my self-confidence and, yes, for my practical education. My classmate’s father, who owned that industrial-gas agency, where I worked for three months, was a disciplinarian with a quick temper… He would scold and slap his two sons in front of the staff and customers. I would feel awkward about the situation. The two young boys – my classmate and his elder brother – would never ever show their reaction, leave alone retaliation!

I have no idea what happened there once I left that place. But, I am sure, the two boys must have done well for themselves in life…

Another thing I loved and still love about the GSB community is their cooking. Give GSB ladies a mango, banana, papaya or jackfruit – raw, ripe, just-born or about-to-die – give them cucumber, bindi, drumsticks or any vegetable, any leaves, even grass –  and, I tell you – you can expect to get from them an interesting dish out of it!  They throw nothing; they waste nothing… not even a seed, not even the skin, not even spine… the stem. Hello, you will believe it only if you eat it…. I say!  

I love that side of GSB lifestyle. To me, it holds a robust principle that has helped this community to thrive in life for so, so long…

Don’t waste anything…
Live a simple yet lofty life…
Wear clean clothes and even cleaner attitude…
Be shrewd but don’t cheat and take short-cuts…
Teach your children, when they are small, the value of money, simplicity, thrift and entrepreneurship, and above all, charity.

Why am I remembering my GSB friends and neighbors, today?

Vijay Mallya’s father, Vittal Mallya – who was highly-educated, born in East Bengal (now Bangladesh) comes from a very remote place near Mangalore called Bantwal. Once, this place buzzed with business. You go to this place and the people will tell you about the Great Floods of 1923 when Bantwal had gone under water. Totally destroyed...

But, then, Bantwal bounced back!

I am not saying Vijay Mallya will bounce back…  In life, anyone can bounce back, if he wants to… Just the way Amitabh Bachchan did!

I am saying all this today, just to ask this question: Why hoard and show so much… why all this excess, when, in the heart of your hearts, you know that you have to ‘leave’ like this?

As Byron Katie beautifully says, all our life, we all – including you, me, Mallya, Sri, Sri, Modi, Obama, Trump or Teressa – yes, we all do only three things:  We Stand… We sit… and, when we don’t stand or sit, we lie flat!

And the rest?

Yes, the rest all - this fantabulous idea called ‘SUCCESS’ – Katie madam says,   is just a ‘story’.

Don’t like the word ‘story’?

Then, call it, what our forefathers called it - ‘Maya’… the ‘Illusion’!

GERALD D’CUNHA

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