Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas is about giving

This is a season of giving.

Christians around the world pause to celebrate the birth of Christ, and the spirit of giving which is so gracefully embodied in that first Christmas almost 2,000 years ago.

It is a simple truth, even self-evident, yet magnificently profound and powerful. For life consists of giving. We are, each of us, unique, with our own contributions to make. At the same time, we are part of a greater whole. Giving is what keeps us connected. The more we give of ourselves, the more we strengthen our own unique aliveness. The gifts we give become part of the world around us, where they grow in value with each life they touch.

Anything that we truly and sincerely give, we will never lose.

True giving means giving of one's self. The physical object, if there is one, is merely a token. The essence of the gift is in the giving, in the expression of sincere love and caring. When you give a part of yourself, it is not gone, it is bigger and better than ever.

Giving is the most self-serving thing you can do.

And therein lies the beauty of life.

~ Ralph Marston

"Christmas is not as much about opening our presents as opening our hearts."

~ Janice Maeditere

Monday, December 19, 2011

Rising like the Phoenix

My friend,Rohan,send me the following story on how a baby giraffe learns to walk. You may find it relevant to some of the turbulence you would have faced in your life sometimes!

Baby giraffes never go to a business school. But they learn a very important management lesson early in life. A lesson that all of us would do well to remember.

The birth of a baby giraffe is quite an earth-shaking event. The baby falls from its mother’s womb, some eight feet above the ground. It shrivels up and lies still, too weak to move.

The mother giraffe lovingly lowers her neck to kiss the baby giraffe. And then something incredible happens. She lifts her long leg and kicks the baby giraffe, sending it flying up in the air and tumbling down on the ground.

As the baby lies curled up, the mother kicks the baby again and again. Until the baby giraffe, still trembling and tired, pushes its limbs and for the first time learns to stand on its feet. Happy to see the baby standing on its own feet, the mother giraffe comes over and gives it yet another kick. The baby giraffe falls one more time, but now quickly recovers and stands up.

Mama Giraffe is delighted. She knows that her baby has learnt an important lesson:
Never mind how hard you fall, always remember to pick yourself up and get back on your feet.

Why does the mother giraffe do this? She knows that lions and leopards love giraffe meat. So unless the baby giraffe quickly learns to stand and run with the pack – it will have no chance of survival.

Most of us though are not quite as lucky as baby giraffes. No one teaches us to stand up every time we fall. When we fail, when we are down, we just give up.

No one kicks us out of our comfort zone to remind us that to survive and succeed, we need to learn to get back on our feet.

If you study the lives of successful people though, you will see a recurring pattern. Were they always successful in all they did? No.

Did success come to them quick and easy? No, You will find that the common streak running through their lives is their ability to stand up every time they fall. The ability of the baby giraffe!

The road to success is never an easy one. There are several obstacles, and you are bound to fall sooner or later. You will hit a road block, you will taste failure. But success lies in being able to get up every time you fall.May this story inspire you to come out wiser, stronger & shining from every fall.

Thanks to my student, Sangeeta, for pushing me to start posting on my blog.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

IF By Rudyard Kipling

This one by the great poet has always inspired me

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Law of the Garbage Truck™ by David J. Pollay

How often do you let other people’s nonsense change your mood? Do you let a bad driver, rude waiter, curt boss, or an insensitive employee ruin your day? Unless you’re the Terminator, you’re probably set back on your heels. However, the mark of your success is how quickly you can refocus on what’s important in your life. Sixteen years ago I learned this lesson. And I learned it in the back of a New York City taxi cab. Here’s what happened.

I hopped in a taxi, and we took off for Grand Central Station. We were driving in the right lane when all of a sudden, a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, the car skidded, the tires squealed, and at the very last moment our car stopped just one inch from the other car’s back-end.

I couldn’t believe it. But then I couldn’t believe what happened next. The driver of the other car, the guy who almost caused a big accident, whipped his head around and he started yelling bad words at us. How do I know? Ask any New Yorker, some words in New York come with a special face. And for emphasis, he threw in a one finger salute, as if his words were not enough.

But then here’s what really blew me away. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was friendly. So, I said, “Why did you just do that!? This guy could have killed us!” And this is when my taxi driver told me what I now call, “The Law of the Garbage Truck™.” He said:

Many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they look for a place to dump it. And if you let them, they’ll dump it on you.

So when someone wants to dump on you, don’t take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Believe me. You’ll be happier.

So I started thinking, how often do I let Garbage Trucks run right over me? And how often do I take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the street? It was then that I said, “I don’t want their garbage and I’m not going to spread it anymore.”

I began to see Garbage Trucks. Like in the movie “The Sixth Sense,” the little boy said, “I see Dead People.” Well now “I see Garbage Trucks.” I see the load they’re carrying. I see them coming to dump it. And like my taxi driver, I don’t take it personally; I just smile, wave, wish them well, and I move on.

One of my favourite football players of all time is Walter Payton. Every day on the football field, after being tackled, he would jump up as quickly as he hit the ground. He never dwelled on a hit. Payton was ready to make the next play his best. Over the years the best players from around the world in every sport have played this way: Tiger Woods, Nadia Comaneci, Muhammad Ali, Bjorn Borg, Chris Evert, Michael Jordan, and Pele are just some of those players. And the most inspiring leaders have lived this way: Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King.

See, Roy Baumeister, a psychology researcher from Florida State University, found in his extensive research that you remember bad things more often than good things in your life. You store the bad memories more easily, and you recall them more frequently.

So the odds are against you when a Garbage Truck comes your way. But when you follow The Law of the Garbage Truck™, you take back control of your life. You make room for the good by letting go of the bad.

The best leaders know that they have to be ready for their next meeting. The best sales people know that they have to be ready for their next client. And the best parents know that they have to be ready to welcome their children home from school with hugs and kisses, no matter how many garbage trucks they might have faced that day. All of us know that we have to be fully present, and at our best for the people we care about.

The bottom line is that successful people do not let Garbage Trucks take over their lives.

What about you? What would happen in your life, starting today, if you let more garbage trucks pass you by?

Here’s my bet: You’ll be happier.

You have a choice. Make it today.

Have a Garbage Free Day! ™

Saturday, October 15, 2011

A Tale of Two Seas

This story was sent by my friend, Rohan, and I liked the perspective which I am sharing.

Sitting in the Geography class in school, I remember how fascinated I was when we were being taught all about the Dead Sea. As you probably recall, the Dead Sea is really a Lake, not a sea (and as my Geography teacher pointed out, if you understood that, it would guarantee 4 marks in the term paper!) It’s so high in salt content that the human body can float easily. You can almost lie down and read a book! The salt in the Dead Sea is as high as 35% - almost 10 times the normal ocean water. And all that saltiness has meant that there is no life at all in the Dead Sea. No fish. No vegetation. No sea animals. Nothing lives in the Dead Sea.

And hence the name: Dead Sea.

While the Dead Sea has remained etched in my memory, I don't seem to recall learning about the Sea of Galilee in my school Geography lesson. So when I heard about the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea and the tale of the two seas - I was intrigued.

Turns out that the Sea of Galilee is just north of the Dead Sea. Both the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea receive their water from river Jordan. And yet, they are very, very different.

Unlike the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee is pretty, resplendent with rich, colorful marine life. There are lots of plants. And lots of fish too. In fact, the Sea of Galilee is home to over twenty different types of fishes.
Same region, same source of water, and yet while one sea is full of life, the other is dead. How come?

Here’s apparently why. The River Jordan flows into the Sea of Galilee and then flows out. The water simply passes through the Sea of Galilee in and then out - and that keeps the sea healthy and vibrant, teeming with marine life.

But the Dead Sea is so far below the mean sea level, that it has no outlet. The water flows in from the river Jordan, but does not flow out. There are no outlet streams. It is estimated that over 7 million tons of water evaporate from the Dead Sea every day. Leaving it salty. Too full of minerals. And unfit for any marine life.

The Dead Sea takes water from the River Jordan, and holds it. It does not give.

Result? No life at all.

Think about it.

Life is not just about getting. Its about giving. We all need to be a bit like the Sea of Galilee.

We are fortunate to get wealth, knowledge, love and respect. But if we don't learn to give, we could all end up like the Dead Sea. The love and the respect, the wealth and the knowledge could all evaporate. Like the water in the Dead Sea.

If we get the Dead Sea mentality of merely taking in more water, more money, more everything the results can be disastrous.

Good idea to make sure that in the sea of your own life, you have outlets. Many outlets. For love and wealth - and everything else that you get in your life. Make sure you don't just get, you give too.

Open the taps. And you'll open the floodgates to happiness. Make that a habit. To share. To give.

And experience life. Experience the magic!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

That's how it is!

A young man called Rama Swami died an untimely death.

They all happened to be disciples of a holy man whom they called 'Maharaj Ji'. His parents, wife and nine year old son were crying bitterly sitting next to his dead body. When Maharaj Ji learnt that Rama Swami had died, he came vo visit the family.
He entered the house and found the family wailing unconsolably. Seeing Maharaj Ji, the wife started crying even louder. She sobbed saying, "Maharaj Ji, he has died too early, he was so young... I'm so helpless and miserable."
Oh! I would do anything to make him alive again. What will happen to our son?

Maharaj Ji tried to pacify the crying lady and the old parents,
But the loss was too much for them to come to terms with so easily.
Eventually, Maharaj Ji said, "Alright, get me a glass of water."
Maharaj Ji sat near the dead body and put the glass next to it.
Rama Swami shall come back to life, but the person who drinks the water shall die

There was pin drop silence..!

He said, "Now, who ever wants that Rama Swami should become alive again, may drink this water. "Come, did you not say that Rama Swami was the sole bread winner of the family? Who would die instead of him? It is a case of fair exchange, isn't it?"

The wife looked at the old mother and the old mother looked at the wife. The old father looked at Rama Swami's son.
But no one came forward...

Then Maharaj Ji said to the old father, "Babuji, wouldn't you give your life for your son?" The old man said, "Well, I have my responsibility towards my wife. If I die who will look after her? I cannot offer my life."

Maharaj Ji asked the son, "Well little boy, would you like to give your life for your father?" The child's mother said "Maharaj Ji,are you insane?..My son is only nine. He has not yet lived his life." All others had their genuine reasons to present.

Maharaj Ji said, "Well it seems, that all of you are very much needed for the things you need to do in this world... It seems Rama Swami was the only one that could be spared... That is why God chose to take him away.

So shall we now proceed with his last rites?... It's getting late. Having said that, Maharaj Ji got up and left.

In the words of a learned man ... "We tend a plant only when the leaves are green; the rest are only memories of happy times..! Further, God has a great design for every individual human being, and they have their role to play in this game on earth."

... Have a Great Day ...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Flying creature in crystal river: Story of a messiah

This piece is from “Illusions” – by Richard Bach

Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river.

The current of the river swept silently over them all – young and old, rich and poor, good and evil, the current going its own way knowing only its own crystal self.

Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their way of life, and resisting the current what each had learned from birth.

But one creature said at last. “I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes, I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom.

The other creatures laughed and said: “Fool! Let go, and that current you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed across the rocks, and you will die quicker than boredom!”

But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current across the rocks.

Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom and he was bruised no more.

And the creatures downstream, to whom he was a stranger, cried, “See a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies! See the Messiah, come to save us all!”

And the one carried in the current said. “I am no more Messiah than you. The river delights to lift us free, if only we dare let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.”

But they cried the more, “Saviour!” all the while clinging to the rocks, and when they looked again, he was gone, and they were left alone making legends of a Saviour.”

Moral: “What you hold on to most dear will always hold you back!!”

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Parable of Ups and Downs

This is a parable by Dr. Robert Terry which was read out to us in a development programme. I am reproducing the same.

What makes an UP an UP and a DOWN a DOWN is that an UP can do more to a DOWN than a DOWN can do to an UP. That’s what keeps an UP UP and a DOWN DOWN. The UPS tend to talk to each other and study the DOWNS, asking the DOWNS about what’s UP, or what’s coming DOWN, for that matter. The DOWNS spend a lot of time taking the UPS out to lunch or dinner, to explain their DOWNNESS. The UPS listen attentively, often in amazement about the experiences of being a DOWN. They contrast one DOWN’S experience with another DOWN’S experience and usually don’t worry too much about what the DOWNS are UP to because the DOWNS never get together. If they did, the UPS would have to shape UP.

After a while, the DOWNS are weary of talking to the UPS. They tire of explaining and justifying their DOWNNESS. They think, “If I have to explain my DOWNNESS one more time, I’ll throw UP.” And so they form a process which they call “networking and support groups.” This act makes the UPS nervous. Three UPS together is a board meeting; three DOWNS - a pre-revolutionary activity! Some UPS hire DOWNS, dress them UP, send them DOWN to see what DOWNS are UP to. We sometimes call this “personnel and affirmative action.” This creates a serious problem for the DOWN who is dressed UP with no sure place to go. That DOWN doesn’t know whether he or she is UP or DOWN. That’s why DOWNS in the middle often burn out.

Sometimes what the UPS do to smarten UP is to ask the DOWNS to come in to a program one at a time to explain their DOWNNESS. UPS call this “human relations training.” OF course, the UPS never have to explain their UPNESS, that’s why they’re UPS rather than DOWNS.

There’s good news and bad news in this parable. The good news is, we’re all both UPS and DOWNS. There’s no such thing as a perfect UP or a perfect DOWN. The bad news is that when we’re UP it often makes us stupid. We call that “DUMB-UPNESS.” It’s not because UPS are not smart. It’s that UPS don’t have to pay attention to DOWNS the way that DOWNS have to pay attention to UPS. DOWNS always have to figure out what UPS are UP to. The only time UPS worry about DOWNS is when DOWNS get uppity, at which time they’re put DOWN by the UPS. The UPS’ perception is that DOWNS are overly sensitive; they have an attitude problem. It’s never understood that UPS are underly sensitive and have an attitude problem.

I used to think that when DOWNS became UPS they would carry over their insight from their DOWNNESS to their UPNESS. Not so. Smart DOWN—dumb UP.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Power of Positive Talk

An interesting article that I read some years ago.

I remember my dad teaching me the power of language at a very young age. Not only did my dad understand that specific words affect our mental pictures, but he understood words are a powerful programming factor in lifelong success.

One particularly interesting event occurred when I was eight. As a kid, I was always climbing trees, poles, and literally hanging around upside down from the rafters of our lake house. So, it came to no surprise for my dad to find me at the top of a 30-foot tree swinging back and forth. My little eight-year-old brain didn't realize the tree could break or I could get hurt. I just thought it was fun to be up so high.

My older cousin, Tammy, was also in the same tree. She was hanging on the first big limb, about ten feet below me. Tammy's mother also noticed us at the exact time my dad did. About that time a huge gust of wind came over the tree. I could hear the leaves start to rattle and the tree begin to sway. I remember my dad's voice over the wind yell, "Bart, Hold on tightly." So I did. The next thing I know, I heard Tammy screaming at the top of her lungs, laying flat on the ground. She had fallen out of the tree.

I scampered down the tree to safety. My dad later told me why she fell and I did not. Apparently, when Tammy's mother felt the gust of wind, she yelled out, "Tammy, don't fall!" And Tammy did fall. My dad then explained to me that the mind has a very difficult time processing a negative image.

In fact, people who rely on internal pictures cannot see a negative at all. In order for Tammy to process the command of not falling, her nine-year-old brain had to first imagine falling, then try to tell the brain not to do what it just imagined. Whereas, my eight-year-old brain instantly had an internal image of me hanging on tightly.

This concept is especially useful when you are attempting to break a habit or set a goal. You can't visualize not doing something. The only way to properly visualize not doing something is to actually find a word for what you want to do and visualize that. For example, when I was thirteen years old, I played for my junior high school football team. I tried so hard to be good, but I just couldn't get it together at that age. I remember hearing the words run through my head as I was running out for a pass, "Don't drop it!"

Naturally, I dropped the ball. My coaches were not skilled enough to teach us proper "self-talk." They just thought some kids could catch and others couldn't. I'll never make it pro, but I'm now a pretty good Sunday afternoon football player, because all my internal dialogue is positive and encourages me to win. I wish my dad had coached me playing football instead of just climbing trees. I might have had a longer football career. Here is a very easy demonstration to teach your kids and your friends the power of a toxic vocabulary.

Ask them to hold a pen or pencil. Hand it to them. Now, follow my instructions carefully. Say to them, "Okay, try to drop the pencil." Observe what they do. Most people release their hands and watch the pencil hit the floor. You respond, "You weren't paying attention. I said TRY to drop the pencil. Now please do it again." Most people then pick up the pencil and pretend to be in excruciating pain while their hand tries but fails to drop the pencil.

The point is made. If you tell your brain you will "give it a try," you are actually telling your brain to fail. I have a "no try" rule in my house and with everyone I interact with. Either people will do it or they won't. Either they will be at the party or they won't. I'm brutal when people attempt to lie to me by using the word try. Do they think I don't know they are really telegraphing to the world they have no intention of doing it but they want me to give them brownie points for pretended effort?

You will never hear the words "I'll try" come out of my mouth unless I'm teaching this concept in a seminar. If you "try" and do something, your unconscious mind has permission not to succeed. If I truly can't make a decision I will tell the truth. "Sorry John. I'm not sure if I will be at your party or not. I've got an outstanding commitment. If that falls through, I will be here. Otherwise, I will not. Thanks for the invite."
People respect honesty. So remove the word "try" from your vocabulary.

My dad also told me that psychologists claim it takes seventeen positive statements to offset one negative statement. I have no idea if it is true, but the logic holds true. It might take up to seventeen compliments to offset the emotional damage of one harsh criticism. These are concepts that are especially useful when raising children. Ask yourself how many compliments you give yourself daily versus how many criticisms. Heck, I know you are talking to yourself all day long. We all have internal voices that give us direction. So, are you giving yourself the 17:1 ratio or are you shortchanging yourself with toxic self-talk like, "I'm fat. Nobody will like me. I'll try this diet. I'm not good enough. I'm so stupid. I'm broke, etc. etc."

If our parents can set a lifetime of programming with one wrong statement, imagine the kind of programming you are doing on a daily basis with your own internal dialogue.

Here is a list of Toxic Vocabulary words. Notice when you or other people use them.

But: Negates any words that are stated before it.
Try: Presupposes failure.
If: Presupposes that you may not.
Might: It does nothing definite. It leaves options for your listener.
Would Have: Past tense that draws attention to things that didn't actually happen.
Should Have: Past tense that draws attention to things that didn't actually happen (and implies guilt.)
Could Have: Past tense that draws attention to things that didn't actually happen but the person tries to take credit as if it did happen.
Can't/Don't: These words force the listener to focus on exactly the opposite of what you want. This is a classic mistake that parents and coaches make without knowing the damage of this linguistic error.

Toxic phrase: "Don't drop the ball!"
Likely result: Drops the ball
Better language: "Catch the ball!"

Toxic phrase: "You shouldn't watch so much television."
Likely result: Watches more television.
Better language: "I read too much television makes people slow.”

That's the power of positive talk.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

My Mumbai

Everyone talks of the spirit of the Mumbaites ( folks of Mumbai or erstwhile Bombay –the commercial capital of India). I, being one of them, would of course agree to the existence of this undying spirit, but not without asking a question ‘ Is it slowly dying, bit by bit?’

There is a bomb blast and the very next day, the city is back to its feet. It never comes to a grinding halt. But the question is ‘is there a choice at all?’ Folks come to Mumbai to eke out a living, and ‘necessity to work’ is all powerful and consuming.

But the other part that I have been observing recently, which really demystifies this undying spirit, is the intolerance observed in the day to day life. Road rage, impatience, quarrels, bickering, fights, fisticuffs and so on seem to be increasing by the day and the ‘live and let live’ accommodative spirit seems to be waning. Smiling faces, earlier seen, have turned to scowling, and externalising issues seem to be the order of the day. Reasons may be galore but what does Mumbai really need to do.

I am reminded of a mother who took her daughter to the departmental stores. The little girl saw some expensive toys and was uncontrollably weeping so that the mother buys the toys. The mother was heard saying ‘Jennifer, relax, Jenifer relax ….’ The girl continued weeping and the mother continued saying ‘ Jennifer, relax, Jennifer relax.’ Some others watching this asked the mother ‘Do you think, the child would understand whatever you are telling her …. after all she is small?’. The mother replied ‘ I am not talking to the child. My name is Jennifer.’

So Mumbai, revive the spirit and say ‘Just relax, just relax.’

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Eating the cookie

Eating the Cookie is a piece written by Rachel Naomi Remen. A beautiful piece that leaves one thinking. I am sharing this with my readers.

One of my patients, a successful businessman, tells me that before his cancer he would become depressed unless things went a certain way. Happiness was "having the cookie." If you had the cookie, things were good. If you didn't have the cookie, life wasn't worth a damn. Unfortunately, the cookie kept changing. Some of the time it was money, sometimes power, sometimes sex. At other times, it was the new car, the biggest contract, the most prestigious address.

A year and a half after his diagnosis of prostate cancer he sits shaking his head ruefully. "It's like I stopped learning how to live after I was a kid. When I give my son a cookie, he is happy. If I take the cookie away or it breaks, he is unhappy. But he is two and a half and I am forty-three. It's taken me this long to understand that the cookie will never make me happy for long. The minute you have the cookie it starts to crumble or you start to worry about it crumbling or about someone trying to take it away from you. You know, you have to give up a lot of things to take care of the cookie, to keep it from crumbling and be sure that no one takes it away from you. You may not even get a chance to eat it because you are so busy just trying not to lose it. Having the cookie is not what life is about."

My patient laughs and says cancer has changed him. For the first time he is happy. No matter if his business is doing well or not, no matter if he wins or loses at golf. "Two years ago, cancer asked me, 'Okay, what's important? What is really important?' Well, life is important. Life. Life, any way you can have it. Life with the cookie. Life without the cookie. Happiness does not have anything to do with the cookie, it has to do with being alive. Before, who made the time?" He pauses thoughtfully. "Damn, I guess life is the cookie."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

That's love

The story goes that a father punished his five year old daughter for wasting a roll of expensive gold wrapper. The next day the father noticed a neatly packed gift box with the golden wrapper placed in his room with the words " I love you, Dad." The father was touched by his daughter's gesture and felt bad that he had scolded her.

However, he again became furious when he opened the box and noticed that the box was empty. The father felt that his daughter had played a trick on him, and, once again, reprimanded her. The daughter had tears in his eyes and said ' Daddy, the box is not empty. I blew kisses into it till it was full." The father was overwhelmed and hugged his daughter and felt sorry for what he had said.

An accident, some days later, took the life of the girl. It is told that the father kept the golden box by his bedside for the rest of his life. And whenever he was a little down, he would open the box and pick up an imaginary kiss and remember the love of his daughter.

In a very real sense each one of us have been given this golden box filled with love and kisses from our children, parents, friends and God. Can we treasure our box and fill their boxes too?

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Simple and small

All of us have a responsibility to make our lives interesting. If not, who else will?
My personal observation has been that a lot of interesting things happen in our daily lives through conversations.

I remember a few anecdotes of the recent past and thought I will pen them down.

I was having a tele conversation with my son and told him that I visited the Brahma (The Creator) temple at Pushkar. His immediate reaction was “ Dad, did you thank him for creating a wonderful son like me?” Both of us had a hearty laugh.

My wife is very particular about the timings of the arrival and departure of the flights that I take, and many a time she has even informed me about the delayed timings of the flight that I am supposed to take. The moment I land at any destination – she would be on call with me because she would have found out the exact time that the flight had landed. Last week when she called me the moment I landed at Mumbai, I told her “ Knowing you, I am sure you must be aware of the name of the pilot and the crew too.” Both of us had a hearty laugh.

My daughter usually gets up late in the morning by which time both my son and I would have left the house for our daily chores. One such day I asked her a naughty question to pull her legs “ Do you know when both of us left this morning?” She was too smart for me and answered “ What a stupid question? I don’t dream about both of you.” Both of us had a hearty laugh.

One day morning I left my house in a huff for office, slightly angry with my wife. It is she who ensures on a daily basis that my pen, wallet, handkerchief and belt are all in place for me. After I reached office, she called me and told me ‘Ensure that your pants don’t come down.” I realized I had forgotten to wear my belt. Both of us had a hearty laugh.

Simple and small, but they say it all. Such conversations cheer us and life continues.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life.
One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued,
"What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"

To stress his point he said to another guest;
"You're a teacher, Bonnie. Be honest. What do you make?"

Teacher Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied,
"You want to know what I make?
(She paused for a second, then began...)

"Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.

I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor winner.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can't
make them sit for 5 min. without an I Pod, Game Cube or movie rental.

You want to know what I make?
(She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table)

I make kids wonder.

I make them question.

I make them apologize and mean it.

I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions.

I teach them how to write and then I make them write.
Keyboarding isn't everything.

I make them read, read, read.

I make them show all their work in math.
They use their God given brain, not the man-made calculator.

I make my students from other countries learn everything they need
to know about English while preserving their unique cultural identity.

I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe.

Finally, I make them understand that if they use the gifts they
were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life

( Bonnie paused one last time and then continued.)

Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn't everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention because they are ignorant. You want to know what I make?


Monday, June 27, 2011


A friend of mine named Paul received an automobile from his brother as a Christmas present. On Christmas Eve when Paul came out of his office, a street urchin was walking around the shiny new car, admiring it. "Is this your car, Mister?" he asked.

Paul nodded. "My brother gave it to me for Christmas." The boy was astounded. "You mean your brother gave it to you and it didn't cost you anything? Boy, I wish ..." He hesitated.

Of course Paul knew what he was going to wish for. He was going to wish he had a brother like that. But what the lad said jarred Paul all the way down to his heels.

"I wish," the boy went on, "that I could be a brother like that."

Paul looked at the boy in astonishment, then impulsively he added, "Would you like to take a ride in my automobile?"

"Oh yes, I'd love that."

After a short ride, the boy turned and with his eyes aglow, said, "Mister, would you mind driving in front of my house?"

Paul smiled a little. He thought he knew what the lad wanted. He wanted to show his neighbors that he could ride home in a big automobile. But Paul was wrong again. "Will you stop where those two steps are?" the boy asked.

He ran up the steps. Then in a little while Paul heard him coming back, but he was not coming fast. He was carrying his little crippled brother. He sat him down on the bottom step, then sort of squeezed up against him and pointed to the car.

"There she is, Buddy, just like I told you upstairs. His brother gave it to him for Christmas and it didn't cost him a cent. And some day I'm gonna give you one just like it ... then you can see for yourself all the pretty things in the Christmas windows that I've been trying to tell you about."

Paul got out and lifted the lad to the front seat of his car. The shining-eyed older brother climbed in beside him and the three of them began a memorable holiday ride.

That Christmas Eve, Paul learned what "It is more blessed to give..." means!

Monday, May 23, 2011


Deng Ming-Dao writing appealed to me and I thought I should share.

Heron stands in the blue estuary, Solitary, white, unmoving for hours. A fish! Quick avian darting; The prey is captured.

People always ask how to follow Tao. It is as easy and natural as the heron standing in the water. The bird moves when it must; it does not move when stillness is appropriate.

The secret of its serenity is a type of vigilance, a contemplative state. The heron is not in mere dumbness or sleep. It knows a lucid stillness. It stands unmoving in the flow of the water. It gazes unperturbed and is aware. When Tao brings it something that it needs, it seizes the opportunity without hesitation or deliberation. Then it goes back to its quiescence without disturbing itself or its surroundings. Unless it found the right position in the water's flow and remained patient, it would not have succeeded.

Actions in life can be reduced to two factors; positioning and timing. If we are not in the right place at the right time, we cannot possibly take advantage of what life has to offer us.

Almost anything is appropriate if an action is in accord with the time and place. But we must be vigilant and prepared. Even if the time and the place are right, we can still miss our chance if we do not notice the moment, if we act inadequately, or if we hamper ourselves with doubts and second thoughts.

When life presents an opportunity, we must be ready to sieze it without hesitation or inhibition. Position is useless without awareness. If we have both, we make no mistakes.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Hmmmm - How beautiful??

It has been cricket fever throughout the world, more so in India. Cricket is played in every by lane, and for the last one month in every one’s mind and heart. India really played well - first beating Australia, then the die hard Pakistan team, and finally Sri Lanka - a great final(e) and dream come true. At office as everywhere it was always intense and animated discussions on cricket.

Discussions were on how Sachin, Yuvaraj and Zaheer played and also on how some others did not play. Praises followed by criticisms and suggestions were all one could hear. Many of us armchair critics responded to the happenings on the field with great √©lan coupled with little knowledge on how is at the centre stage with the whole world watching. But that’s what it is in this cricket loving country where cricket is almost a belief and a faith.

Here we were at office discussing the semi finals between India and Pakistan, and Sachin had just got out at 85. Disappointment looming large in everyone’s face, talk centred around what would happen in this crucial match and what fate had in store for India. The discussions turned so animated that many of us talked about how even being in a good position –‘ India had the ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory’, others were critical of Sachin’s shot, some others on how Dhoni was out of form and still some others of the impending defeat. Tempers were rising, and someone lamented as to how we could lose to Pakistan.

There was this young girl at my office called Pradnya who was listening to the conversations, and smiling at all of us. I was intrigued by her nonchalant look and remarked ‘ What Pradnya, what has Sachin done and what’s happening?’ Her reply left me blinking but more insightful. Admittedly, I became wiser and enjoyed the world cup final much more than I would have. Thanks, Pradnya for your wise words - 'After all it is a game, Sir.'

Sunday, February 20, 2011

My uncle - my Appapa

An era of two sisters and two brothers has come to an end. The last of them, my uncle, breathed his last yesterday.

A very simple soul, who lived life straight from the heart and what he perceived things as. He operated life based on a set of values and principles dear to him, and rebelled against anything he thought was unfair. Simple as he was, he had very clear distinctions of right' and 'wrong.' Reflecting on how he lived, I have learnt a lesson that 'life is simple, but individuals make it complex.'

My uncle was a very affectionate, caring and loving human being with no malice at heart. Life was every moment to him, and his dealing with these bore a direct corelation to what his mind and heart dictated then. He would yell at me and spank me if he found me mischevous. But all that disappeared the next moment and he would shower me with chocolates or take me for a movie. I remember he had taken me for a basket ball match when someone pushed me. He was up in arms protecting his nephew. Spontaneity came naturally to him and that is who he was.

Though eighty, he lived life as if he was eighteen. Nothing unduly bothered him and he had the natural penchant to take things in his stride and see life as a sequence of events happening one after another. His love was shown through his anger, and all of us accepted him the way he was since he had no hidden agenda. He had a large circle of friends and was involved in a lot of social, educational and religious activities. As a mark of respect and condoning his death, the educational institution of which he was a founder has decided to close the school for a day.

All of us will truly miss him. While bidding good bye, he has passed on the baton to all of us to continue the rich traditions and values that he and his brothers and sisters espoused. I can only on behalf of the entire family assure him that we will leave no stones unturned to continue lighting the flaming torch. That, I guess, will be a true tribute to him. I will personally miss you, Appapa.

May his Soul rest in peace.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Child is the father of man

A little girl walked daily to and from school. Though the weather this particular morning was questionable and clouds were forming, she made her trek to the elementary school. As the afternoon progressed, the winds whipped up, along with thunder and lightning.

The child's mother, concerned that her daughter would be frightened and possibly harmed by the storm got into her car and drove along the route to her child's school.
As she did so, she saw her little daughter walking along happily but at each flash of lightning the child would stop, look up, and smile.

Stopping the car, the mother called to the child to get in with her. As they drove toward school, the girl continued to turn toward each lightning flash and smile.
The Mother asked, "What are you doing?"
The child answered, "Well, I must do this, God keeps taking pictures of me."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Its how you look at things ...

Once an unhappy young man came to an old master and told he was very sad and asked for a solution. The old Master instructed the unhappy young man to put a handful of salt in a glass of water and then to drink it. "How does it taste?" the Master asked. "Awful," spat the apprentice. The Master chuckled and then asked the young man to take another handful of salt and put it in the lake.

Thereafter the two walked in silence to the nearby lake and when the apprentice swirled his handful of salt into the lake, the old man said, "Now drink from the lake."
As the water dripped down the young man's chin, the Master asked, "How does it taste?" "Good!" remarked the apprentice. "Do you taste the salt?" asked the Master.
"No," said the young man.

The Master sat beside this troubled young man, took his hands, and said, "The pain of life is pure salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount we taste the 'pain' depends on the container we put it into. So when you are in pain, the only thing you can do is to enlarge your sense of things... Stop being a glass. Become a lake!"

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Giving ourselves wings ......

Here is an interesting story my friend Sridhar sent to me and I thought of sharing this with you.

Once there was a king who received a gift of two magnificent falcons
from Arabia. They were peregrine falcons, the most beautiful birds he
had ever seen. He gave the precious birds to his head falconer to be

Months passed by and one day the head falconer informed the king that
though one of the falcons was flying majestically, soaring high in the
sky, the other bird had not moved from its branch since the day it had

The king summoned healers and sorcerers from all the land to tend to
the falcon, but no one could make the bird fly. He presented the task
to the member of his court, but the next day, the king saw through the
palace window that the bird had still not moved from its perch. Having
tried everything else, the king thought to himself, "May be I need
someone more familiar with the countryside to understand the nature of
this problem." So he cried out to his court, "Go and get a farmer." In
the morning, the king was thrilled to see the falcon soaring high
above the palace gardens. He said to his court, "Bring me the doer of
this miracle." The court quickly located the farmer, who came and
stood before the king. The king asked him, "How did you make the
falcon fly?" With his head bowed, the farmer said to the king, " It
was very easy, your highness. I simply cut the branch where the bird
was sitting."

We are all made to fly -- to realize our incredible potential as human
beings. But instead of doing that, we sit on our branches, clinging to
the things that are familiar to us. The possibilities are endless, but
these remain undiscovered. One conforms to the familiar,
the comfortable, the mundane. Life then tends to be
mediocre instead of exciting, thrilling and fulfilling.

Moral of the story, thus, is to destroy the branch of fear we cling to and free ourselves to the glory of flight.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Story Telling

There was once a disciple of a great teacher. Day after day the disciple would sit at the feet of his teacher listening to his instruction. Many people would come to visit and inevitably the teacher would engage them by telling a story.

One day the disciple asked; "Guruji, why do you engage people by means of stories? Why don't you just give them your teaching straight out?"
The Guru answered: "Bring me some water."

Now the disciple knew his teacher to be a very formal and disciplined man. He had never asked for water at this time of the day. Nevertheless, he went immediately to fetch it. Taking a clean brass water pot from the ashram kitchen, the disciple went to the well, filled the pot with water and returned. He offered it to his teacher.

The Guru asked"Why have you brought me a pot when I asked only for water?"

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Happy New Year

I was reading a anecdote written by Bob Perks and thought it appropriate to start with my posts in the New Year.

"Time, faith and the love of my family and friends," he said. How wonderful. Somehow, from the moment we met, I knew we would connect. His response was perfect. His answer was mine.
It is that time of the year when we reflect back on accomplishments and failures. It is a wrapping up and an unfolding all in one.

The sentimental fool that I am keeps me deep in thought filling my days with mood swings easily compared to riding a roller coaster. Oddly, I love those ups and yes, even the downs. The happy thoughts remind me that life is good. The sad thoughts remind me that life is fragile. In the end I hope for more happy than sad, but still come out on top when the ball officially drops on New Year’s Eve, if I can at least find balance.

You may think this strange, too, when I say some of my best years turned out to be the years when I struggled, lost, failed and retreated into the darkness of that final night of the old year.
Job loss, car repossession, debt, divorce, a failed business, cancer in my family, death of loved ones, depression, all made life nearly unbearable. Still, the light of the new day, the new year, always seemed to be brighter than any other.
It was in falling down that I learned how to climb.
It was in losing that I learned how to win.
It was in struggling that I found strength.
It was in darkness that I learned to see again.
So, why was this man's response to me so perfect? This man had just lost his business. This man was struggling with finances, self-image, and hope. He was standing on the edge of a dismal past and desperately trying to see the possibilities in his future. Instead of dismissing everything as failure, he chose to acknowledge the most important parts.
I asked him, "If you could take something with you into the new year, what would it be?"
"Time, faith, the love of my family and friends," he said. "If I have time I can begin again. I can build again. I can start over. If I have faith, I know I cannot fail. If I have the love of my family and friends, I have purpose."