Saturday, January 31, 2009

That's life

Recently my friend's mother passed away. I had been to the funeral. A lot of peole had gathered and the scene was quite emotional. Relatives, near and dear, paid their last respects to the departed soul.

My friend's father who was suffering from Alzheimer's disease was shown his wife's body and was informed that she was no more. The father was oblivious to the fact that she had passed away. People around who witnessed this scene cried bitterly that the father could not fathom what had happened. The husband and the wife, both life partners, suffered no grief, each for their own reasons. One was affected by Alzheimer's and the other a departed soul . Paradoxically, all others present were grieving for husband and the wife. How strange sometimes life is.

After the funeral was over, my friend told me that his sisters and brothers would go away since they stayed abroad.Thus, the responsibility of looking after the father would rest on him. I told him that over the years he had looked after his parents, and that now he had to continue looking after his father. I saw his concern and understood that the way his siblings had their own lives to lead, he also had his own.

Seeing his concern and the string of words formed on his lips, I prodded him to speak out. My friend said "My concern is not about looking after my father. But whether I can look after him the same way my mother did. I cannot be 'her' to 'him' ." So poignant and well said.

Indeed husband - wife relationship is so special - a spiritual relationship - an union of two souls.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Our Republic Day

26th January 1950 is one of the most important days in Indian history as it was on this day the constitution of India came into force and India became a truly sovereign state. The meaning – no more monarchy. India in spirit, became free.

I was in my usual morning walk around the ‘Five Gardens’ at Dadar, Mumbai, and was amazed at the patriotic fervour that I was witness to . A huge celebration at the garden (organized by the Laughter Club) consisting of senior and junior citizens holding the Indian tricolour and shouting chants of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’(Long Live - the Indian State).More stimulating was the fact that there were more youth attending this year’s celebrations. This was a clear indication of the youth taking charge and taking over the mantle. A welcome sign, I thought.

There were no speeches but only action. People standing together holding hands and singing songs like ‘Saare Jahan Se Achha, Yeh Hindustan Hamara’(India is a great place in this entire world), ‘Hum Honge Kamyaab’(We will be victorious and we are confident), ‘Yeh Mere Vatan Ke Logo’(an immortal song sung for our soldiers by the melody queen Lata Mangeshkar which had our Late Prime Minister Pandit Jawarhlal Nehru in tears), and followed by ‘Vande Mataram’(I salute you – mother) and our national anthem ‘Jana Gana Mana’( of Indian citizens and its states). Finally, it was of unfurling the national tricolor atop , and chanting cries of ‘Long live our country and its citizens’.

The uniqueness was when the national anthem was sung. People wherever they were in their morning walk stood at their very spot and vehicles too followed suit. This was amazing considering the hustle and bustle of Mumbai where everyone had their chores to do and were generally absorbed in their daily do’s and don’ts . Equally exciting was the numerous vans led by the youth distributing national flags, sweets, and serving tea and snacks to one and all.

Does all this speak about a resurgent India where the youth is ready to take over? Are these the first steps towards responsibility and accountability to build and shape India into a truly great country that it is? Does it have any connection with the recent blasts whereby the citizens have realized that it is action that matters? Whatever may be the answers, these are encouraging signs for a better tomorrow to which we can proudly and confidently look for.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hospital Highlights

The last I visited a hospital was when my sister in law underwent a cataract operation. As it has always been in our family, the entire jing bang consisting of my brother, my wife, my niece, my sis in law(it was her operation), her brother, mother and sister were all there. I do not know whether it should be termed concern, moral support or simply ‘love’. Yes, in our family, we are always there for each other. Just the thought is so comforting. We have been brought up that way.

The whole process took over three hours including the post operation rest. This is about what I witnessed during the time I spent there. I had my camera which has become a necessary appendage. I clicked some snaps which I think are worth writing about.
The first of course was about a placard fixed to the hospital bed with the title ‘Starvation’. Why on earth would people come to a hospital and starve? My curiosity was so overwhelming that I chose to ask the nurse for an explanation for the title. What she told me was amazing. The bed was for patients who had to undergo tests for sugar in their blood and urine for which ‘fasting before the tests’ was essential. By Jeeve, I realized ‘starvation’ meant ‘fasting’.

Next was about a stuffed monkey toy with a string attached to a pulley. What is it about, I kept wondering. The nurse came to my rescue and said ‘this was brought by a patient who loved monkeys and till he was discharged he used to play with the toy monkey by pulling the string. Whoever passed that way pulled the string and the toy monkey went up and down which was a great source of amusement to one and all. I thought this was essential to provide succour and relief for patients.
In all that transpired, I keenly observed a gentleman who was supervising the house keeping operations. An ideal supervisor at that. A stickler to cleanliness, and was all the time ensuring that his people put in their day’s worth. Personally, he picked up the broom and demonstrated how work was to be done. He extracted enough and more work from his subordinates and was of the kind who would brook no nonsense. He was everywhere and had the agility of a deer. Such kind are very rare today and I was wonderstruck. I called him over and made enquiries.

He is Gajanan Govind Shetye, on contract with the hospital and with a missionary zeal. He had taken Voluntary Retirement from Mahindra and Mahindra after working as a Machine Operator for twenty years, and came to work at the hospital. He told me the work he did in the hospital was his calling in life and hence vowed that he would put in one hundred per cent. I saw him commanding a unique respect from all those present and his enthusiasm was infectious. He earned around five thousand per month and told me more than half of what he earned was given to the poor and needy who sought his assistance. He added that the Almighty up there was kind to him and he had no complaints in life. I was dumbstruck.

Resting in bed that night I was thinking about the toy monkey, and the supervisor, Gajanan, who in their own ways brought life to the hospital, and created an ever lasting impact on me and the people around.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Week End Musings

Lazing around on a Sunday evening at home, some of the incidents at school extending to similar ones today came to my mind. I thought I will write some of these if not for anything but at least for sake of posterity.

I remember our drill master intending to tell a girl student to tuck her blouse inside her skirt . This is what he said “Go inside your blouse”. All students burst into laughter and the teacher did not know why.

There was this teacher who taught us Hindi. He had shut out a student and he wanted the boy to come inside the class. Instead of saying “Come in”, the teacher went outside the class and shouted ‘Get out’. The teacher’s English was restricted to ‘Good morning, good evening and get out’. Another incident when the teacher wanted to shut out three students who did not do their home work. The teacher said ‘Both of the three students – out, out and out’ Hilarious.

These incidents did not stop with school but extended to the business world. Some of these are quite interesting. A male employee who delayed submission of a report wrote a memo to his lady boss ‘ Report late. Kindly bare with me’. The lady boss could not control her laughter.

My friend, Kavi, at the end of a training session that he delivered effectively, was told by one of the lady participants much to his anguish, ‘I enjoyed you thoroughly’. Poor Kavi did not know where to look.

This one is the icing on the cake. To remind his boss of a particular issue, the young man sent a SMS captioned ‘Genital reminder’ instead of ‘Gentle reminder’. The boss was doubting the intentions.

I could go on. But my lazing around had to end with my wife’s call to accompany her to the market. No way, but heed to my boss’s call.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Crucial Conversations

It was interesting to read Pearl’s post - on inanimate objects like a car speaking. This set a train of thoughts in my mind. What if the inanimate objects that we encounter everyday start conversing with us? Here are some of the conversations.

Mobile Phone: Speak softly and listen to deeply / Clean your ears and wash your mouth

Watch/Clock: Precious time is clicking. Don’t waste it / Stop watching

Spectacles: You are blind to a lot of things in life

Television: I am called an idiot box. But why are you watching me ?

Chair: You are warming me too much. Prevent sore back

Table: The clutter on me reflects you

Shoes: Save my sole and yours

Socks: Wash me, or use me to bring the dead alive

Bed: All that you do, I hear and see, and many a time feel

Bottle: Your life starts with a feeding bottle and ends with a saline bottle. In between, I am the coke bottle and the beer bottle

Tread mill: You seem to be throwing a lot of weight

Lap top: Whole day, I see you press the ‘get messages’ button. Can I report to your boss?

Bath tub: It’s only you who are enjoying

Stick: You should have got more of me. That’s why they say’Spare the rod and spoil the child.

My brain refuses to think any more. You may add to the list.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Power of Declaration

Of what use is a New Year’s wish list if it is stored in one’s inside without revelation to the outside world. This was the chatter happening within me when I was contemplating writing the New Year’s wish list.

Here is the wish list for 2009 …
On the professional front:
# Invest in coaching eight people for one and half hours per person per week for twelve weeks
# Invest in a big way in ’Change Management’ in the organization
# Invest heavily on training subordinates in Labour Laws and Industrial Relations
# Increase professional networking
On the personal front:
# Start a charitable trust in the memory of my late father
# Publish a book in remembrance of my father
# Learn Reiki and Numerology
# Attain proficiency in Tarot Card reading
# Go abroad on a visit

Of course, the objective of the wish list is to make life interesting and fulfilling. I guess, with advancing age, I am seeing the urgency of doing things. The other aspect of publishing the wish list is all about ‘DECLARATION’, and in this context shouting from the roof tops and declaring to the world becomes the first step. Generally, a lot of promises are made to the self, but how many of them are honoured is the million dollar question. Declare it to the world after the mental chatter is over, and one will see that the world has a way of reminding us about our commitments.

Mind you it’s just not about ‘declaration’ but also about the ‘power of declaration’. Great revolutions have happened across the globe through the power of declaration. Back home, Mahatma Gandhi declared ‘India will be free’. People rallied around and made sure that the declaration became a reality. Declaration becomes infectious, pieces fall in place and resources start pouring in.

In the final analysis, declaration is all about staying in integrity, owning responsibility and keeping a conversation for possibility present for oneself. It is a context in which one chooses to live. The beauty is: it begins with the willingness to be a cause in the matter of one’s life.

Let me make a humble beginning.