Friday, September 30, 2016

THE 'BREAKING NEWS' ONLY BREAKS







What is happening in Kashmir concerns me… The menace of terrorism concerns me… The attack on our soldiers in Uri and the consequent surgical strike by the Indian Army on terror camps across the Line of Control really concerns me…

But, then, how much can I do about these events?

Well, as an Indian, I can’t be indifferent and insensitive to matters concerning my county… I must read and listen to the news… I must wonder… feel anxious… fear and worry when times are bad… feel elated and jubilant when times are good…

But, then, if I keep focusing on this area – which Stephen Covey famously called our ‘Circle of Concern’ - the Circle which is not within our immediate and direct control - Yes, what happens if we focus too much on such events and calamities (negative energy) is: we become more and more reactive people… and our Circle of Concern expands, while tour ‘Circle of our Influence’ – which contains those events and activities within our immediate and direct control – shrinks.

Yes, it does.

Too much of this ‘Breaking News’ only breaks… And those obsessive and aggressive debates on TV only makes us highly reactive and prejudiced individuals…

Too much of bombardment on Social Media - unchecked, unauthentic and rumor-driven – only makes us a dumb generation of people…

The Circle of Influence is where our energies should be concentrated… These are the activities and events over which we have direct and immediate control. The more we focus on this positive energy, this Circle expands and the Circle of our Concern shrinks… Yes, it makes us ‘Proactive’ people…

Not a rocket science or some heavy philosophy this is. This is a simple lesson… That, the more we concentrate on the events and activities within our direct control, it is better for everybody, including our nation…

If at all our nation needs anything, at this juncture, it is our ‘responsible responses’ to what is happening on our border…

Maybe, a few minutes spent on our knees, with our eyes closed and heads bowed down…

Amen.


GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Stephen R. Covey/Development Partnership


Thursday, September 29, 2016

HAPPY B'DAY DEAR... LOADS OF LOVE AND WISHES









You and I cannot remember birthdays of everyone around us. We remember our own and of some significant people in our lives. For me, it is my immediate family – my wife, son, parents, brothers some of their family members and some close friends.  I am not talking about birthdays of Jesus or Mary, Shiva or Krishna, Gandhi, Nehru or Dr. Radhakrishnan… I am certainly not talking about remembering birthdays of Amitabh Bachchan, Sachin Tendulkar or Lata Mangeshkar…

I am talking about remembering people around me… those I see, meet, talk, work with almost every day… even my neighbors and students… I am talking about them… Yes, I am saying that I am unable to remember all b’days… And, mercifully, I am not expected to!

Right?

Right.

Thanks to this Facebook, every morning, I am reminded to wish at least half a dozen of my FB friends… These days, FB reminds me of the upcoming birthdays, too… so that when the birthdays actually arrive, I will not forget to wish… and, the nice thing is: even if I forget, the FB reminds me of the birthday just went by… So, I can always send the belated birthday wishes, you see!

Earlier, I would religiously send b’day wishes to half a dozen or even two dozen FB friends, every day … “Happy b’day Ashok… Loads of love and wishes”. I would not simply type, “Happy b’day”…. That would be too impersonal, I would think. And, wishing someone with just “HBD”…. No, never. That would be too discourteous and insensitive, I would believe. So, it had to be, “Hi Sheela, a very happy b’day to you. Have a great year ahead” or, “Have a great day” or, “Have a great time”… or, if it is an elderly person, “Wishing you good health, love and peace.”

Wishing someone “Happy b’day” and ‘feeling’ it for that person are two different things. Most of the wishes I sent everyday to my FB friends… very honestly, I sent them mechanically… without feeling for that person – sorry, friend. I just mechanically typed, and the b’day boy or the b’day girl would respond immediately or later, individually or in bulk - ‘Thank you for your wishes… Felt blessed!”

Later, having realized how mechanical this wishing business had become, I stopped sending b’day wishes to all in the daily list… I only sent to those who I ‘felt’ for!

Simarn is a very dear student of mine who attends my classes daily. She is good in studies, she is very affectionate and respectful and it is a pleasure teaching her. Yes, that means, I ‘feel’ for Simran. Yesterday was her 20th b’day. The moment I saw her name in FB’s daily b’day list, I quickly sent her my wishes… “Happy b’day dear Simran,” I wrote, “Loads of love and wishes.”

That was around 9 in the morning. At 3 in the afternoon, Simran came for her class. And, as usual, we went about our class… When the class was over, her friend, Deepali, my another student, arrived. “Haaaai Simran…. Happy b’day”. By now, Simran was inside Deepali’s tight hug!


“Oh No, not again!” I screamed. “Come here darling… Look, how funny (read, mechanical or hypocritical!) it can be!” I said truly feeling for Simran, now… “I had sent her the b’day wishes at 9 this morning on Facebook,” I explained to students around me, “When she was here before me, for one full hour – face to face - I just forgot that it was her 20th b’day today!”

“Sorry dear,” I gently hugged Simran, “happy b’day to you… Loads and loads of love!”


GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Mavourneen Peters


Wednesday, September 28, 2016

WHEN YOU HAVE TO THINK HARD, DEEP AND FAR














“The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress,
and grows brave by reflection.”

- Thomas Paine
There is a fierce debate going on – and, it doesn’t seem to end – on the manner we have responded to terrorism in Kashmir, particularly, on the manner our government has responded to the latest Uri killings.

Those who are extremely loyal to P.M. Narendra Modi are busy defending him… why the measured response is the most sensible thing, and not the outright retaliation. On the other hand, those who are not so loyal to him - especially the Modi-baiters – remind us of how aggressively he had blasted in Aap Ki Adalat (Rajat Sharma’s show) mocking at the knee-jerk response of the PM of the time, Mr. Manmohan Singh. Modi had roared on that show like an angry lion… So, his detractors, now, point to us about the very same knee-jerk response he is now showing, when he is in PM’s hot seat…

I like both my Prime Ministers – Narendra Modi and Manmohan Singh. I do not wish to say that their response was and is weak and cowardly… But, I am not saying this from my party affiliation or fondness to these two PMs…

I say that our present response is the sensible response, because, a war only destroys everything… It will make us go back by a decade at least… When you are in a responsible seat, you can’t be impulsive, reactive… You cannot effort to come under media or public pressure and declare a war… You have to think hard, deep and far…

So, that’s what our PM and his government has done so far as far as the Kashmir provocation is concerned…


It is easy for us to judge our leaders and government from where we are. None of us occupies that hot seat… We sound very concerned and responsible when we react and cry war, seek revenge the way we all do now…

But, are we truly concerned?

Are we truly responsible?


GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Internet


WHEN YOU TO THINK HARD, DEEP AND FAR














“The real man smiles in trouble, gathers strength from distress,
and grows brave by reflection.”

- Thomas Paine
There is a fierce debate going on – and, it doesn’t seem to end – on the manner we have responded to terrorism in Kashmir, particularly, on the manner our government has responded to the latest Uri killings.

Those who are extremely loyal to P.M. Narendra Modi are busy defending him… why the measured response is the most sensible thing, and not the outright retaliation. On the other hand, those who are not so loyal to him - especially the Modi-baiters – remind us of how aggressively he had blasted in Aap Ki Adalat (Rajat Sharma’s show) mocking at the knee-jerk response of the PM of the time, Mr. Manmohan Singh. Modi had roared on that show like an angry lion… So, his detractors, now, point to us about the very same knee-jerk response he is now showing, when he is in PM’s hot seat…

I like both my Prime Ministers – Narendra Modi and Manmohan Singh. I do not wish to say that their response was and is weak and cowardly… But, I am not saying this from my party affiliation or fondness to these two PMs…

I say that our present response is the sensible response, because, a war only destroys everything… It will make us go back by a decade at least… When you are in a responsible seat, you can’t be impulsive, reactive… You cannot effort to come under media or public pressure and declare a war… You have to think hard, deep and far…

So, that’s what our PM and his government has done so far as far as the Kashmir provocation is concerned…


It is easy for us to judge our leaders and government from where we are. None of us occupies that hot seat… We sound very concerned and responsible when we react and cry war, seek revenge the way we all do now…

But, are we truly concerned?

Are we truly responsible?


GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Internet


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

THE KARATE KIDS AND THE BLACK-BELT PARENTS





















“My idea of superwoman is
someone who scrubs her own floors.”

— Bette Midler

Let me not confuse you: This post is not about a ‘superwoman’, or, for that matter, not even about a ‘woman’… It is just about learning to do some of our own daily chores, early in life, and feel ‘strong’, ‘confident’, ‘independent’ and yes, ‘good’… about ourselves.

Some days ago, I was a witness to an interesting discussion. A man was proudly telling us about the series of belts his teenager had achieved through rigorously attending Karate classes. The teenager was about the age 15. The father said, “Every kid, boy or a girl, must compulsorily learn some form of Martial Arts for self-defence and self-dependence.”

“Who washes your 15-year-old Karate-kid’s undies?” the gentleman next to the father (obviously his good pal, who knew the household better than I did!) quipped…

The mother did!

As I told you, this Post is not about women, men, boys, girls, grandmas and grandpas, uncles and aunts… It is about, learning to do some of our daily chores, early in life, and feel ‘strong’, ‘confident’, ‘independent’ and yes, ‘good’… about ourselves…

Yes, feel like a triple Black-belt (If such a belt exits… I have no idea!)!

In my case – and, I am 58 now… I can wash not only my undies, I can also wash the whole basket of dirty clothes piled up there…

I can make tea, coffee, some decent food for me, my wife and son (If not for others!)…

I can iron my clothes… dry them, fold them, tuck them properly in wardrobes…

I can clean up all the vessels in the sink… reheat old food and bring for my tiffin… By the way, the old chapattis don’t make me sick, just like the old songs…

I can do my bank work… I can do groceries… buy vegetables… handle dhobiwala, doodhwala, paperwala, raddhiwala, postman, courier boy…

I can travel by BEST and when when there is no money for the ticket, I can walk miles and miles, too… And, I don’t mind… I don’t cry!

I can stitch buttons… I can dust my shoes, polish them… take them to a cobbler when they are to be fixed…

I can handle the discomfort – call it ‘shame’ – of borrowing money from a bank or a friend, when I run out of cash… I can take responsibility to work hard and long not to default on repayment… never, ever… And, I can feel that fear, that worry and when I succeed, that pride, too!

I can empathize with others who have to ‘borrow’ money… who find it difficult to pay their children’s school fees (leave alone the Karate, dance or swimming classes!)... who find it difficult to run their household… I can empathize with those parents, who take so much on them without their children having to face the humiliation!

And, therefore, the other day, I felt like asking the Karate kid’s proud father this question from my side, too: “Have you shared with your young-one how, when and from where do you borrow money to make him a Black-belt… Rather, to make him, in your own words, ‘independent’, ‘confident’ in life?”

Once again, let me make it clear, here, that this post is not about parents or their kids… It is just about learning to do some of our own daily chores, early in life, and feel ‘strong’, ‘confident’, ‘independent’ and yes, ‘good’… about ourselves!

To me, the kids, who learn early how much their parents take on them, without grumbling… yes, those kids are true karate kids in life…

And, the parents, who teach their young ones, early, the value of washing their own undies are ‘super parents’…

One last time: This post is not about super mom , super dads or super kids…  Yes, it is just about learning to do some of our own daily chores, early in life, and feel ‘strong’, ‘confident’, ‘independent’ and yes, ‘good’… about ourselves!



GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.:


Monday, September 26, 2016

FEARLESS: DISCIPLINE






Invariably, all of us – if not ‘all’, most of us – have disciple in those areas of life, which, we have made as our priority areas. We have a strong value attached to those areas and hence, we give a lot of attention and focus to these areas…

Yes, most of us are disciplined in that sense…

For example, when it comes to my work – getting up, starting my first batch, being punctual and regular… writing a bog almost every day… keeping my promise and commitments… thanking, appreciating, keeping good communication etc... yes, when it comes to these, I am very disciplined. Working hard, yes… I am extremely disciplined… Keeping good relationship, yes, I am extremely disciplined… Forgiving and letting go… yes, I score excellently there, too…

And, yet, there are many arrears in my life, I lack discipline. On top of this list comes my health care!

Health is wealth… Don’t I know this?

The problem doesn’t lie in ‘knowledge’… Problem lies in ‘implementation’ of that knowledge! Some of my young students, who find it difficult to dedicate 15 or 30 minutes every day to do their daily homework… are so used to my ‘preaching’ on self-discipline… But, what makes me, many times, to go soft on them is the fact that some of these young kids are extremely disciplined in their own areas like cricket, football, swimming, gymming, singing, music, dancing, drawing, photography, making videos and posting them and so… Nobody reminds them to be disciplined in those areas, nobody nags them, coaxes them… They are self-motivated because, their heart is there in those areas, they value those things… They made it their priority…

But, studies, homework etc… They haven’t, yet…

Just the way, I haven’t started doing that 30 minutes to one-hour walk everyday… Just the way, I haven’t’ yet made sensible eating my priority, yet. Yes, just the way I constantly remind my students to do their daily homework and studies, my doctor keeps reminding me do bring about the changes needed for my good health…

Last night, I was talking to my friend, Dr. Deepak about the medicines I was advised to take by my physician… For over 30 minutes, Dr. Deepak tried to explain to me why discipline and commitment for good health comes before getting dependent on ‘drugs’ and ‘chemicals’… For the first time, I started seeing the ‘point’… the ‘truth’… and, made, then and there, a decision to start my morning walk right before the night ended…

So, I was up, got into my walking shoes, and did a brisk 30 minutes walk in my complex… 5 to 5:30 in the morning… Only one more gentleman was seen doing the walking that early… But, I did it till I sweated… I came home and did another 20 minutes of breathing, a bit of stretching… and, let me tell you, I really, really felt good about myself…

As I was leaving for my work, I saw a video sent by Dr. Deepak to me on Whatsapp. He wrote: “Good morning sir… Here is a motivational piece for you!” It was titled:

‘FEARLESS:DISCIPLINE’!!





It all fitted perfectly well, like a jigsaw puzzle!


GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Chetna Shetty

Sunday, September 25, 2016

JUST FOR AN HOUR...










For most of us, one of the hardest things to do is to accept the idea that we are dispensable...

That, without us, the world can function perfectly well…  Life can go on perfectly well, as well.

On this July 24, my wife and I decided to quietly celebrate my 58th birthday in Pune, with Kenrick, our only son and Dr. Deepak, our close friend. What surprised me, that day, was a very simple fact I had not noted all these years, but Dr. Deepak pointed out. He said, “You are born on ‘twenty four/seven’!”

“Gosh! I did not know that!” I exclaimed…

“It’s okay,” Dr. Deepak calmed me down in his inimitable way, “You know it now.”


When do we use the phrase – ‘Twenty four/seven’?

A lot of truth is packed in it…

The mind is so addicted to thoughts and habits… that to live without those thoughts and habits seems impossible. The thoughts, mostly of negative nature … worry and anxiety, fear and clinging… fear of losing… insecurity, doubt, jealousy and anger… guilt and regress, shame, hopelessness. These thoughts, I think,  are responsible for making us hide behind the continuous addiction to texting, forwarding, commenting, responding, ‘searching’, tweeting,… liking and unliking… ceaseless partying, spending, shopping… smoking, drinking doing drugs, sexual excess… and so…

I say, ‘excessive’… ‘addictive’ thoughts and habits.

If alone the mind could experience the stillness of an hour!

Just for an hour or so, if we could see the reality, that life is beautiful even if we do not show that addictive restlessness to react and respond… to text, smoke, drink and spend…

Twenty-four is an hour!

An hour, if we are able to spend with our quiet strength, without the addictive hold… I, think, this life can be a wonderful experience…

Yes, the old prayer ‘Just for today’… is now broken down to ‘Just for an hour’… This hour in hand.

The next hour… day, week, month, year and life… even eternity… yes, they will all simply follow the hour… This hour.


GERALD D’CUNHA

 Pic.: Alex D.


Saturday, September 24, 2016

"HAPPILY EVER AFTER IS NOT A FAIRY-TALE... IT IS A CHOICE"














“Love doesn’t just sit there, like a stone…
It has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.”

– Ursula K. Le Guin, The Lathe of Heaven


Twelve years ago, when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie got married, the world began to hail the couple as ‘Brangelina’. It became a fashion for couples around us to call themselves so… Norbert and Teresa renamed them as ‘Noresa’…  Amol and Vishaka baptized their relationship as ‘Amoshka’… and, Salman and Nargis became ‘Salgis’!

I and my wife, too, got tempted to re-christian our matrimonial relationship as ‘Germa’... That is, Gerald and Anima, to be precise!

Before I proceed any further, let me make it very clear, here… that, I have no business to judge on the break-up of Brad Pitt and Angelina’ Jolie’s marriage. I have no inclination to go into why, how, what when etc behind it…

The couple ‘chose’ to split. And, it’s their choice… Only they know how good or bad… how joyful or painful that decision is for them…  I do not wish to gossip about it, nor sit on any judgment seat…

The fact, that I and my wife could stay together in a marriage for more than twenty-five years – yes, that fact stares at me and makes me only humble, grateful and graceful in life…

“Happily ever after is not a fairy-tale. It’s a choice,” says Fawn Weaver. The advice continues,
“A happy marriage doesn’t mean you have a perfect spouse or a perfect marriage. It simply means you’ve chosen to look beyond the imperfections in both.”

The more I think about any long-lasting, rock-steady and lifetime marriage… the more I think about how my wife and I could last in marriage this long… the more I get convinced, that we ‘chose to’… Yes, we chose to look beyond our imperfections… we chose to overlook our flaws… overhear our outbursts… we chose to come back and say ‘I am sorry’… we chose to renew our promise made on the wedding day… ‘In good times and bad times… in our health and sickness… I shall be by your side”…

Yes, a happy marriage is not a fairy-tale… It is a ‘choice’ the couple makes…

Well, happy in marriage all the time?

Come on… Don’t tell me that!

I like what Diane Sollee says about marriage:  “They say it takes a village to raise a child. That may be the case, but the truth is that it takes a lot of solid, stable marriages to create a village.”

Did you hear that?... Solid, stable marriages!

I repeat in the end: I have no business to comment on anyone else’s marriage. I only want to assert here – rather, my wife and I pray – that we want to remain solid and stable in our marriage… no matter what comes along our way…

We sincerely pray!


GERALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Internet

Friday, September 23, 2016

THE URBAN DICTIONARY





I, consciously, made a decision to improve my English when I was in twelfth standard, Fr.Lawrence was our English professor and he was teaching us Shakespeare’s plays such as King Lear, Julius Caesar and Merchant of Venice. He was the first teacher, who, made me conscious of my English problem. Later, in my F.Y. B.Com, when Prof. B.S. Raman came to teach us Accountancy and Commercial Geography, I had decided to what to do in life: like him, a fine teacher. So, by now, I knew, what I had to do to achieve that goal… I was determined to do something about my English…

There is this famous saying:
“When you decide what you want in life, the whole Universe conspires to support you.”

In my case, the Universe did not do any partiality…  My dad’s sister (Sr. Leo) was a nun and lived in a convent, hundreds of miles away from my home. One day, a sister by the name Sr. Lawrence, who was a very dear friend of my aunt, travelled all the way from their convent just to gift me a very fat – and exhaustive – English dictionary. It was called 'The Encyclopedic Webster’s’ Dictionary’… It was much beyond a normal dictionary. I just fell in love with it… from the day one and spent hours and hours immersing in it…

Our College (the famed St. Aloysius College) had a wonderful library. There was this Reader’s Digest book – ‘Write Better Speak Better’. I would sit for hours after my college, till it became dark, and learn English. Later, when I came to Bombay, got my first salary, the very first thing I did was - buy a copy of this book. It cost me, then, Rs. 150!

When we started THE DAWN CLUB in 1989, we decided to build a fantastic library of motivational and other books. I got hold of so many of Readers’ Digest books apart from ‘Write Better Speak Better’… They had this whole range of dictionaries and thesaurus… to name some: 'Reverse Dictionary', 'Visual Dictionary', 'Word Power Dictionary', 'Right Word at Right Time' and so on. We ended up buying all of them and housed them in our library... We had the Britannica and World Book volumes too… and, I remember spending lots and lots of time going through them...


All this was before the invasion of internet.

Once the internet came in – and, importantly, once I learnt how to use a computer and become fairly conversant with use of internet – like everyone else around me, I found answers to my English problems right here – on this computer screen – yes, just by the click of these buttons!

You know what, I also found a very young and vibrant, colorful and sassy dictionary called – ‘Urban Dictionary’.


A week ago, I was with one of my very dear friends… He is a supremely gifted, very articulate, highly qualified and yes, very loved and adored, professional. While we were in the midst of a discussion, a person appeared. I knew this person well but my friend did not. So, when this person said something quite nasty (though he did not mean it), my friend could not take it… He flared up and blasted at the man. I tried to explain to my friend that I knew the person and he did not mean it… “It is okay,” I tried to calm down my friend who was angry for my sake.

“No Gerry… It is not okay,” my friend was empathic, “Remember, you are not going to take this 'shit’ anymore. Period!”

I kept silent…

But, that night, I referred to the Urban Dictionary to find out what my friend’s powerful line really meant:
When you don't let other people bring you down.


And, then, just yesterday, this happened… A very dear student of mine, who hails from a fantastic family and, who I can vouch to be a beautiful soul… Posted a comment on one of the tweets…
The tweet said:
“Making a joke does not prove you have a sense of humor. Taking a joke does.”

My sweetheart (student) said:

‘Deep shit’!!!

I smiled so much… the smile lasted in my heart till the sun went down, late last evening…


I have given away all the books in THE DAWN CLUB library – hundreds of them – to an international school run by one of my dear friends. But, I haven’t given away the two books, which made a huge, huge difference when I needed it the most...  the one gifted by ‘Sr. Lawrence - ‘The Encyclopedic Webster’s Dictionary’… and the other, Reader’s Digest classic – ‘Write Better Speak Better’!

I am conscious of the world I live in…  I am conscious of the fact that each and every soul on this planet – including this mortal – has a very young and vibrant… a very colorful and sassy Urban Dictionary inside him…

I am a ‘bloody’ liar, if I claim, “I don’t”!


GERRALD D’CUNHA

Pic.: Alex D.