Monday, July 31, 2017


One of the truths that keeps me firmly planted on this earth is: Whatever I long to do in my life in order to feel successful, so many out there – millions and millions of them – have already done it  in past, or are doing it presently, or will be doing it in future.

If the truth is such, what is that so ‘great’ about me? What is that so ‘special’?

When I started with this ‘pursuit of success, many years ago, the idea of success, to me, meant achieving something, reaching somewhere… goals, targets, income, fame and social position. But, then, as I went about pursuing this kind of success, I realized that at no point of time was I actually’ feeling successful’… I was endlessly and frantically ‘running’ as if I was chasing a mirage in the desert… In the end of that chase, invariably, I would feel disillusioned, still parching. I would also observe that majority out there were doing exactly what I was doing… all running frantically with the hope of getting ‘it’ – success – and live happily ever after…

Yes, all of us did it… Ordinary souls like me did it… spiritual gurus did it… hardcore politicians did it… hardened criminals did it… businessmen, film-makers, actors, singers, dancers, TV people, radio people, media people… sportsmen, scientists, doctors, engineers, teachers, writers, publishers, lawyers, law-makers, psychologists, charity organizations and NGOs… everybody, everywhere did the same thing in the name of success – running frantically… The only difference was this: they all painted it – ‘Success’ - with different brushes!

Sometimes, I wonder: Can’t I do all this quietly? Need I grow like a giant oak to ‘feel’ successful? I can see clearly each station in my life, till now… The feeling I bore in my mind when I was a complete Nobody and had nothing in my hand, I continued to bear at all stations later on regardless of my achievements… I was only getting disillusioned when ‘I reached there’!

Why is this desire to make it ‘big’ one day and live life happily ever after? Why is this greed to have it all from the Goose’s belly in one go?

To BE or to BECOME… Yes, that ‘is’ the question!


Pic.:Khushboo Gulrajani

Friday, July 28, 2017


Last night, some of us were discussing on one of the close-knit WhatsApp groups. The discussion centered around a certain person, who we all disliked and detested for his relentless negative activities over many years. Those activities had badly affected many of us, and, having suffered because of them, we, quite obviously, had the genuine reason to vent out our pain and frustration among us. We had tried every possible way to make this person realize what he was doing… but, he had remained remorseless and seemed to go on with his negative pursuit with even more cold blood. So, last night, the discussion was focused on, once again, how to change this person… how to make him understand... by any method still left at our disposal… Sama, Dana, Bheda, Danda… whatever. Yes, we all had only one desire when it came to this person: Let him change his ways so that we can live happily!

One of our friends had sent a late-night message, which I happened to read early this morning. Here is the message:
“We often think that when things change, we will be happy.
But, the truth is, when we are happy, things will change.”

I immediately smiled reading this message!

How funny and stupid we all can be! I am no exception…

Ideally, Krishna’s life would have been such a happy life if Kamsa was not to appear in His life. Ditto would have been Jesus’ life if Herod and hardcore Pharisees were not to appear in His life. But, if even Krishna and Jesus – who we worship as God – could not avoid their nemeses in the drama of Their lives, who are we to ask our own nemeses to go?

Our enemies become stronger when they see us distressed because of them. The more and more we worry, the more and more power we hand them to rule our happiness. So, the message shared by our friend had come to remind us as to how happiness works the other way around: “When we are happy, things will change!”

Our happiness will take the steam out of our tormentor’s system. When he sees us happy, he will feel defeated… and, yes, slowly, he will change...


Incidentally, another friend from hundreds of miles away, had sent me a belated happy b’day message with this old  song – ‘Best of Friends’ – by Dave Sherrif:

“Wow! Thank you, my friend,” I had replied, “I will get a good sleep tonight!”


Pic.: Niyothi Lobo
Video: YouTube

Thursday, July 27, 2017


“Hands that serve are holier than lips that pray”
- An old proverb

I am a great admirer of Dr. Devi Shetty, the renowned heart surgeon of our country. He is different… he is extremely sensitive and human… and, above all, he is spiritual. People call him, ‘A heart surgeon with a heart’!

Now, I do not intend to write this Post talking about Dr. Devi Shetty… Yes, he has carried out more than 15,000 heart surgeries so far (he is 64), some of which have been most complicated ones… He believes in affordable heart-care and, hence, he has been aggressively propagating this cause by setting up finest health-care facilities across the country… Here alone are carried out more than ten percent of our country’s heart surgeries! He had carried out heart surgery on Mother Teresa and served as her personal physician, in the process, getting hugely inspired by her work… Rightly, the nation has bestowed upon him a Padma Shree and Padma Bhushan…

What I intend to convey in this Post is this: Like Dr. Devi, we all are into our own professions and trade… someone is a lawyer or a judge… someone is a banker or a insurer, someone is an architect or a builder, someone is a teacher, preacher, trainer or counselor… someone is a trader or a manufacturer… someone is a film producer, a  director, an actor or a spot boy… someone is a hotelier, a chef, a travel agent or a travel guide… someone is a nurse, a nanny or simply a house maid… someone is a priest, a nun or a charitable person… someone is an office manager or an office boy… someone is just a parent, a grandparent, a sibling or a student… Yes, everybody here on earth is somebody doing some work whether that work is paid or not paid…

The question that haunts me today is: If something has made Dr. Devi a ‘surgeon with heart’, what makes a builder, ‘a builder with a heart’ and what makes a teacher, ‘a teacher with a heart’? What makes a corporate head, ‘a CEO with a heart’ and what makes his office boy, ‘an office boy with a heart’?

The challenge for Mother Teresa was not only to choose a life of utter simplicity and dedication for herself, the challenge for her was to inspire that ideal, that choice, also, in every woman and man who came to serve under Missionaries of Charity. Similarly, the challenge for Dr. Devi is not only to remain true to what he deeply believes in, but also to inspire the same ideal – serve God by serving his creations… Serving with hand is a greater prayer than praying with lips… It is not a doctor who saves life, it is God… Differentiating between need and greed - yes, the challenge for Dr. Devi is to inspire these ideals also in every doctor, nurse and  para-medico who comes to serve under him…

And, this very challenge drives the rest of us to choose a life of need or a life of greed every day as we go about our own professions… Where is our heart as we go about our work? Is our work inspired one or just some heartless drudgery?

And, to do our ‘missions’ with our hearts, we do not have to wait till we become ‘great’  like Mother Teresa or  Dr. Devi Shetty. We just need to do our work with a great heart, as they did!


Pic.: Internet

Videos: YouTube

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Some ten years ago, I had published for THE DAWN CLUB one of our popular books, ‘Vaachas Chame’ – Grant me the Power of Expression. I had started the book with this passage:

He had heard that from Kanyakumari,
one could catch the majestic sight of the rising sun.
So, this man travelled all the way
from Kashmir to Kanyakumari
to watch the surnrise.
The day came and he reached the Point quite in time.
However, as there were a few minutes still left
for the glorious sight,
he decided to catch a wink.

When he opened his eyes, it was all over!

And, I had ended the book with this passage

Then, one day, back home in Kashmir,
he arose early in the morning.
It was still dark and everyone was still asleep.
When he saw from the window,
he felt in his heart a newness he had never felt before…
And the stillness and the awe of outside darkness
filled him with a gratitude
he was never familiar with before.

And, behold! He could see the rising sun…
in all its glory!
All that I wanted to tell my readers was this: “Read with attention… Be awake… Be alert… else, you will miss the message… yes, ‘the glory of the rising sun’!”

How ironical! How funny! We are, often, blind to the beauty in our backyards and cross mountains, deserts and seas in search of it. The wild roadside-flowers are the most beautiful ones; but, we, often, fail to notice them, fail to appreciate their beauty. That’s the reason why I have summed up the essence of my daily blogs as: “THE WILD, WAYSIDE FLOWERS… There is, always, something extra-ordinary in the wild, wayside flowers.”

We really do not have to travel all the way to Kanyakumari to ‘watch and appreciate’ the glory of the rising sun… All that we need to do is: remain awake and alert… standing right near our windows… yes, when sun comes up!

Just as we fail to notice and appreciate the beauty in our backyards, we also, often, fail to notice and appreciate the beauty of the ‘Prophets at home’. All great teachers, mentors, Masters, and Messiahs are so only outside their homes… At home, they are, generally, taken for granted… ignored, ridiculed and even banished! That’s why, when He was badly offended by people in his town, Jesus had famously said: "A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his own family."

Sounds familiar?

This morning, I saw a random nature-picture shared on FB by my sister-in-law, who lives in Denver (US)…

“Lovely!” I commented.

“Our backyard,” my sister-in-law replied.

I said, “Wow!” And, I wrote this Post…


Pic.: Amrita Jeurkar D'Souza

Tuesday, July 25, 2017


By now, many of us have watched the video which captures the tragic incident that happened in Chembur, Mumbai, wherein,  Mrs. Kanchan Rajat Nath, a morning walker was crushed to death by a falling tree!  I have watched this video a couple of times and it has not only left me disturbed with many questions, it has also left me a lot mellowed…

This woman, who looked very graceful, had started her day on a positive note – morning walk and Yoga. When you see that coconut tree falling on her head, you wonder if the tree was waiting all along aiming at her head… It looks as precise, as ruthless and as swift as that!

The questions that disturb me are: Why, of all the passersby’s, it had to be this woman? Why, of all the times, it had to be this time – early morning - when her heart was so peaceful? What must be the thought of people who crossed the same path seconds before or after that incident? Who saved these people and why?

Blaming BMC for not doing away with that tree will not bring back the unfortunate soul back to life. Perhaps, it might help prevent similar incidents from repeating in future… I said, ‘Perhaps’!

The reason why I talk about this episode is: Are we all not saved from such tragedies every day? What brings each one of us – the wretched souls – safely thus far? Yes, what brings us safely home, every day?

Every time I watch or hear about incidents like this, the powerful hymn, ‘Amazing Grace’, comes before me…

Amazing Grace, How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
I was blind but now I see

‘T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear
And Grace, my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed

Through many dangers, toils and snares
We have already come.
‘T'was grace that brought us safe thus far
And grace will lead us home,
And grace will lead us home

Amazing grace, How Sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
I was blind but now I see
Was blind, but now I see.

Even in this sad episode, we find the flame of hope… men and women, complete strangers, leaving everything and rushing to help their unfortunate fellow-woman… They taking her to the hospital which is there right across the accident spot… True, they cannot save the woman… But, don’t they all come to save her? And, who has placed the CCTV camera to capture the incident for us? Is it the part of a divine plan?

I don’t know…

Through many dangers, toils and snares
We have already come.
‘T'was grace that brought us safe thus far
And grace will lead us home,
And grace will lead us home.

Pic.: Suyog Surte
Videos: YouTube

Monday, July 24, 2017


Many years ago, I used to display in my classroom a new inspirational-poster every Monday morning. Some of these posters, I would keep repeating at regular intervals. One of them had these words:

“You live only once…
But, if you live well, once is enough.”

In a few minutes from now, I will turn 59. I remember the old poster and find myself asking: “Have I lived these years well?”

What are the yardsticks of a well-lived life? Who has to certify it? Are the indicators visible or invisible?

If the yardstick is the wealth I have amassed in my 59 years, then I will certainly fail the test. If the world has to certify me, I may fail that test, too… If one looks for the visible indicators, I may flunk that test, as well…

So, let me go by the invisible signs and let me not depend on the world’s certificate… Let money, position and fame not be the yardsticks to measure how well I have lived my 59 years, here on Earth…

Have I got many regrets?

Not many… But, a few, certainly, “Yes.”

Have I got many complaints…

Not many, again… A few, “Yes.”…

But, complain to whom?

The more I think about it, the more I find myself repeating, “Nothing to complain about.”

In fact, to me, a life lived with least regrets and complaints, coupled with inner joy, is the indicator of a well-lived life. It comes from the awareness…

That, I have used my God-given gifts well…

That, I have been able to contribute and reach out to as many people as possible in my own special way…

That, I have been loved by many, blessed by many, befriended by many, helped by many…

That, I have not held grudges against any…

That, I have longed and done my best to make peace with one and all…

That, I have lived with the awareness - this life is a gift and it is too short and too precious to be wasted with my arrogance and ignorance…

That, I have lived with the awareness – I have come with empty hands and I will leave with empty hands…

That, I have prayed through gratitude, been cleansed through forgiveness, been strengthened through faith and courage, revived through hope… I have rejoiced in my fellow-men’s success…

That, I have never, ever held back from expressing my fears, tears or despair, my gladness, laughter or jubilation…

That, I have lived with the awareness that everything in my life happens for my good… and every person crosses my path for a reason...

And, I can go on and on…

So, have I lived my 59-years well?

It’s already a Monday morning…
Yes, once is enough… Thank you Lord!


Pic.: Azriel D'Souza

Friday, July 21, 2017


Since last evening till this moment, a movie is being played – and replayed repeatedly – in my mind. I have been talking about it to my closest people. “Have you watched the film, “Hrudyantar’?"... I keep asking…

“Which film?”

“’Hrudyantar’… It’s a Marathi film.”

“No, I haven’t heard about it,” many say… “How is it?” ask some… “What is it about?’ ask some others… “What is the meaning of ‘Hrudyantar?” ask me some more…

“I don’t’ know myself,” I confess, “I think the meaning is ‘Change of heart’…

Anyway, how does it matter? The film is just beautiful… Please don’t miss it!

Yesterday, I was to attend some very important work at Fort area. So, I had adjusted my teaching schedule for the day accordingly. At the last hour, my visit to town got cancelled and I decided to watch any good movie which was being shown in cinemas around. On checking on the Net, I chanced upon this Marathi film which was released on 7th July. Having got curious, I read more details about it, and felt a strong urge in my heart to watch it. As I normally watch all the movies along with my wife, I called her to inform. She was already committed to some other task, which meant, I had to watch it alone…

Good, I watched ‘Hrudayantar’ alone… For, it would have been tough for me to allow myself to soak in the emotions so completely and cry the way I did inside the theatre, yesterday!

My general knowledge about the Fashion and Marathi film industries is pathetic. Vikram Phadnis, I learnt yesterday, had been a much respected Fashion designer for nearly twenty-five years. Yes, ‘Hrudyantar’ was his brain child… I learnt, that he was passionate and determined to make this film for a long time and, now, he had done it so amazingly!

I am conscious of the fact, that we should not tell the story of the film and spoil the movie-watching experience. So, let me not tell you the story… Yet, I am unable to stop myself from telling this: The film is about the marital relationship… It is about that familiar experience of  going through all the marital storms – the pain, frustrations, distrust, misunderstandings, egos, insecurities, personal ambitions and fears… and, that moment -  ‘It’s all over’… or that moment - “Is it really over?”… It’s about the trauma of watching your little kids suffer when you – two grown-ups, their parents – fight before them like immature kids… It’s about the guilt and pain of being a bad example… It is about that very thought ‘Will the change of partner be the answer?’… ‘Will ending the so-called ‘bad marriage’ end my miseries?’… ‘How bad is really bad?’… ‘Is this the worst that is in store for me in marriage or are there situations worse than what I am fussing about?”… “Is my partner alone responsible for my plight or am I equally responsible?” … “Am I obsessed with changing my partner or am I honest enough to change my own outlook… my won heart?”

That last question sums it all… The change of heart is the key to marital bliss… not either seeking change in him/her or seeking a new partner... If I have not changed, I will take myself wherever I go…

‘Hrudyantar’, from that perspective, is a beautiful lesson on self-healing and self-care. It is inspirational and therapeutic… You realize, that the issues, over which you have brought the martial sky down, are not issues at all… The real issues sneak in from the back door and shock you and shake you to the core, bring you down to your knees and melt your heart…

Yes, so that you change… recognize, accept, honor and celebrate what is there in your platter… ‘What is’!

Please watch this film.


Videos: YouTube

Thursday, July 20, 2017


“I told her once I wasn’t good at anything…
She told me survival is a talent.”
― Susanna Kaysen

I think, an important life-skill – let me call it ‘survival skill’ – every individual has to learn at a very young age is: cooking!

Now, by ‘cooking’, I do not mean that one should be a fine Chef and must know how prepare a lavish spread. I only mean to say that one should learn to prepare some decent food for himself and for those who live with him…

Many men – even some women - take some sort of pleasure in saying, “I don’t even know how to switch on the gas (stove).”… or, “I know only to boil water or eggs”… or, “I know only to make an omelet” etc. Someone never thought it was important to inculcate that ‘value’ in these men and women at a very young age… I said, ‘Value’!

For many young boys and girls, circumstances make them learn the basic cooking – tea, coffee, snacks, rice, rotis, dal, vegetable or some non-veg dishes. Yes, when you are driven to the wall, you learn to survive… Thanks to your circumstances, you learn to cook: Your mom or wife, on whom you depended for your food, suddenly falls sick, get hospitalized or passes away… You have to go abroad to study or work… You are newly married and sent off to your in-laws’ place…Your Company transfers you to another city and you can’t take your family… so on. Now, how will you manage if you do not know basic cooking? Eat out every day, everything – breakfast, lunch and dinner?

In a couple of days, Life will make you learn how to prepare some basic food to survive. And, you ‘will’ learn it, unless you are so indifferent and careless… A young boy, one of my dear students, has just left for studies in Australia… A mother of two young ones, who are very dear to me, is presently in an ICU… My thoughts go to them. These young ones have to survive… and, they will… Life will make them learn this important survival skill… cooking!

After all, there is no greater university than Life itself, right?


Pic.: Samir Shirke

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


I do not know how they certify a kid as ‘L.D.’… that is, a kid with learning disability. During my teaching career, spanning over nearly four decades, I have come across many kids, now and then, who I am made conscious of as having the so-called ‘Learning Disability.’ The moment I am made conscious of it, my approach towards the student – in my case college kids – does undergo a change… I become more patient, less demanding… and, I try to remind myself, “Hello, you cannot expect the same calculations and the same efficiency from this kid… Understand his plight… show patience.”  And, invariably, I heed to this voice…

What is interesting to watch is this: some of these young ones are least interested in this ‘label’… this ‘tag’… of ‘learning disability’. I find them almost hating it… They want the world to  treat them on par with the rest… demand the same work and efficiency from them… show the same level of patience to them. I feel extremely satisfied and proud when I come across such kids. The feeling is akin to the young ones who do not like to depend on their ‘caste quota’… but, want to move ahead in life rubbing shoulders of the rest… “That’s the true merit,” I hear them say, “That brings out the best in us.”

The other kind is the typical ones: They know they have this ‘special privilege’ of being certified as a ‘L.D.’… and, even though it was certified years ago, they continue to think they are having this learning disability. Some are genuine… and, the teachers and the authorities have to be empathetic to them. But, many of them misuse this privilege… and, in the process, become under-performers, dependent and – it may sound harsh – losers. They mechanically depend on calculators for the simplest calculations. “Sir, it is allowed for me… I am a L.D.”

“I know beta; but, have you tried to do it without the calculator?” I ask, “Have you realized what happens to your confidence when you do it on your own?”

Some understand what I say… and, some don’t.

Two days ago, a mother of a twelfth-standard student called me up and said, “Sir, my son says he needs a writer for his Board exams.”

Now, I have taught his boy for two years… and, he is the one who belongs to the category of ‘mis-users’… I don’t know how and why they certified him as a ‘L.D’… He needs no special concession for anything… I felt angry when I heard what his mother said… as angry as one gets while a healthy guy comes to you begging at a traffic signal!

Many years ago, a friend of mine, a well-known trainer, was invited to judge an inter-college Public-speaking contest. A blind girl had stood first and my friend got so moved that he praised this girl for inspiring everyone by doing it despite her blindness. What followed after that was unbelievable… The young girl got furious for being made to feel she was ‘handicapped’… She did not want to go home feeling that the world had honored her with a winner’s trophy out of sympathy… because she had ‘disability’…

It was an eye-opener for my friend. He immediately apologized for hurting the  girl’s sentiment. Even today,  after twenty-five years, my friend keeps referring to the episode in his training sessions!

‘Less-abled’, ‘Differently-abled’, ‘Special’, “L.D’… all these badges are there because of the practical reality. Those who suffer from any physical, mental or learning challenges – and their near ones – alone can understand the plight. So, if authorities have offered such privileges, they have done it with purpose and good intention…  and, yes, with the hope that it would serve its purpose…

In the Hindi movie, ‘Black’, there is this moving scene. Mr. Debraj Sahai, (Amitabh Bachchan) has brought a walking stick to his prodigy, Michelle (Rani Mukerjee) who is blind, deaf and dumb. So long, she had been dependent on her teacher for everything…. Her teacher knows that she cannot live life like that… that, she has to be tough, independent. So, in that scene, when Michelle touches the walking stick, her first reaction is ‘NO’. But, her teacher makes her hold the stick firmly saying, “This is to make you independent… not dependent!”

I tell the same to my own Michelles!


Pic.: Internet

Monday, July 17, 2017


I don’t watch tennis matches much. But, I get inspired by the great tennis legends a lot. True to what I said, I did not watch yesterday’s Wimbledon Finals between Roger Federer and Marin Cilic… but, I have been hugely inspired by Roger Federer on winning his eighth Wimbledon title, which makes it his nineteenth Grand Slam… Nobody in tennis history has done it so big and at such advanced age… Federer has done it at 36!

I don’t understand a lot about the tennis game. But, that doesn’t prevent me from admiring its legends… I grew up admiring Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe… These legends were two of a kind – extremely opposites in their temperaments… Bjorn Borg looked like a sage, full of poise… while John McEnroe looked like a volcano, full of lava! But, I loved them both… The same way, there were these two women legends… Chris Evert Lloyd and Martina Navratilova… completely with contrast temperaments… Chris was beautiful and serene… Matina was manly and aggressive… and, yes, I admired them both, alike!

Winning a Wimbledon trophy is the ultimate dream of any tennis player… It takes tons of grit and patience to play on this court, leave alone winning the trophy. If so, how would you describe what Roger Federer has just done at 36… for the eighth time at Wimbledon?

The other day, I was reading a Post shared by Goalcast where Federer was speaking about his transformation from a volatile person on the court to a composed one… Here is the Post:


Tennis star Roger Federer shares his story of personal transformation, and urges us to never stop improving and growing, no matter what…

It’s enough. I can’t stand it watching me throwing rackets and embarrass myself in front of thousands of people in a live stadium, so I tried to change, had quite a transformation from a screaming, racket throwing, swearing kind of brat on the tennis court to this calm guy today. It’s very important to sort of move on. And I think also losses make you stronger. It’s important to learn out of those mistakes and then you become better and the better player, you work harder. A light goes up in your head, you go like, ‘You know what? I think I understand now what I need to improve.’

“I always questioned myself in the best of times, even when I was world number one for many, many weeks and months in a row, at certain times during the year I said, ‘What can I improve? What do I need to change?’ Because if you don’t do anything or you just do the same thing over and over again, you stay the same, and staying the same means going backwards. It’s important for me to actually hear criticism sometimes because I think that’s what makes me a better player and that means someone’s questioning me who really cares about me, and I think that’s really important in the business world as well.

“Because if you never set yourself goals, you can never question yourself, because you just move from one to the next and you say, ‘It’s going to be okay.’ When things are going great, what more can I do? How much better can I become? How much harder can I train? Almost every time I step on the court today I can maybe rewrite history in some shape or form. And all I can do is give my best. Then it’s going to be fine, regardless of the outcome.”

Thus, to me, it is not about winning at Wimbledon even if it is for the eighth time and even if it is at the age of 36. To me, it is about learning to become a better human being – a lot composed and compassionate, a lot humble and grateful – as you keep winning your trophies in life. After all, all records are meant to be broken, you see… Yes, soon, someone else will break this one, too!

Roger Federer had won his seventh Wimbledon title in 2012, that was five years ago. Today, I was thinking about the five-year time-span that he took to make a comeback… One of the many things – perhaps the most important one – the legend had to do was to learn never to throw his racquet again in frustration!


Pic.: Internet
Videos: YouTube