Wednesday, June 7, 2017

MARY KA DABBA AND METER CHAI









I spent my entire day today with the students of a Mumbai college. I was there to help them in the area of ‘Self-confidence and Communication skills’.

This subject is so close to my heart… that, I do not have to make any effort to prepare, plan or execute whatever I want to convey. And, I know why it is so…

When I was their age, I struggled with my low self-confidence… “You guys are way better than how I was at your age,” I keep reminding them, “If I have done it, you, too, can.” But, there is always a rejoinder I add to this positive message: “There is a massive difference between ‘I can’ and ‘I will’… You have to commit… You have to go all the way and do it!”

God doesn’t make repeat production. If He makes someone fair as snow and someone black as coal while he makes someone dusky as a Cadbury… When this young one, Mary, was on stage, I pointed to her specialness – her complexion… “There is no one in this room as unique as you… In your duskiness lies the seed of your self-confidence,” I told her, “Recognize that… value that… appreciate that and celebrate that.”

Just two days ago, I was telling our P.D. students the same thing through a passage I had written years ago in one of my books – ‘The Cheetah’. It was one of my favourites… The Cheetah reminds his young one…
“Son, remember this:
In the end, nothing will change, but everything will.
You will not find your ‘spots’ replaced by the tiger’s ‘stripes’…
Yes, a Cheetah will remain a Cheetah and a tiger will remain a tiger…
All that is going to happen is:
You will get ‘new eyes’ to see, appreciate and value your own spots.”

Success in life is all about discovering ourselves… Our self-confidence and communication skills are just the by-products of this discovery… The day we are able to see, appreciate and value our own ‘spots’ – how special and how unique God has made each one of us – yes, that day is the day of our liberation…

Young kids, luckily, get this message, invariably…

Well, let make loosen up a little… Around 3.30, when I gave a short break to these young kids, I saw Mary munching the traditional Kerala jackfruit chips… When she offered me to taste, I picked a few chips and said, “I love them.” A while later, I saw, Mary had closed her tiffin – her ‘dabba’. “What happened? Chips finished?” I asked. “No sir, they are still there.” “Bring here your dabba,” I said, “I am hungry.”

Mary was thrilled!

I finished Mary’s dabba in minutes and asked the class, “Have you watched the film, ‘Stanley Ka Dabba’? . Now watch ‘Mary Ka Dabba’… It is kaali!”

Small pleasures of life… I remembered the teacher in the movie, ‘Stanley Ka Dabba’!

A few minutes away from this college , there is this chaiwala… He is really ‘special’… You don’t get to watch this delight… It is the Kerala speciality… some call it the ‘Meter Chai’… This guy makes it so special, serves in his white cups so delightfully… and, surprisingly, he offers it at such an unbelievable price: Rs.6! To me, this chai is worth Rs. 100/… and I mean it. Every time I visit this college, I look forward to have a cuppa, one before the  session and one after. Many times, I end up relishing two cups back-to-back… as I did today, with my friend and  associate Anupam!

Hello, nothing can replace that small joy of life… Nothing I say! Such simple joy, too, makes us feel confident… Yes, when we follow what our hearts really desire…


Didn’t  we all – the Meter Chaiwala, Mary whose dabba I emptied and I… yes, didn’t we all go home happy, confident and fulfilled?

What else in life really matters?


GERALD D’CUNHA


Pic.: Anupam Acharya

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