Something missing . . . 

Last month was traveling to my hometown in Kerala. Happy feelings when you finally get the annual leaves approved and are heading back home. The journey was in the train and trust me there is no other mode of transportation as memorable than traveling with Indian Railways. My reservation was made for the side upper berth and I had an extraordinary personality as my co-passenger. She was a nun, who was also the principal of a reputed school in the state. 
The journey was beautiful and company of Sister made it indeed an awesome one. During our conversation Sister shared one of her experience, which made me think and thought of sharing the same. 

It was a normal day as any other day and Sister was on her routine rounds of classrooms. As she was walking and came past to this class of grade 2, the class was seen unattended by any teacher and kids were all over the place. Seeing the commotion Sister entered the classroom and asked the kids to be on their seats. When enquired it was understood that the teacher was ill and no substitution was provided. Sister though to keep the kids busy till a substitution was arranged. She asked all the kids to take a plain paper and draw anything that came into their minds. Every one started with the activity and soon the class seemed to be under control. 

After a few minutes Sister had a quick glance on the drawings of the kids. They were all artists, one was drawing a scenery and another a Barbie doll. But one girl caught her attention. She seemed to be drawing her family. In the picture though was only two people. Sister asked the young girl what was she painting. And the reply was her family. But in the painting the girl and her mother were only there. Sister thought she might have lost here father and hence did not ask her anything more. 

Few days later Sister had an opportunity to visit the same class due to the same reason of teachers unavailability. This time again she asked the class to paint a picture. To her surprise this young girl drew the same picture again and that too without her father. Due to the curiosity on finding the real reason Sister went and checked the school database and to her surprise she found the girl had a father and he was a well-known businessman of the town. 

Sister immediately called her father and asked him to be available in the Principals office before the school leaves for the day. The immediate reply from the father, “Sorry, today I am very busy will try to come tomorrow”.  Sister replied , “Then please find the transfer certificate along with your child when she comes home today” and hung the phone. 

Within an hour the father was in principals office. Sister showed him the painting and asked him, “What is missing in the picture? “.  The man could not find anything wrong. He said, “It’s all fine,  nothings missing in this” . Sister replied , “Sir you yourself are missing”. Hearing this the man was shocked. Sister asked the girl why she didn’t draw her father in the family painting, her answer was “I FORGOT, I have not seen him in past six months. He comes after I am asleep and goes out before I am awake”.

That incident actually made a dent in me and made me think are we indeed actually missing somewhere. Family is the only place where we are honored and respected,  no matter who we are in the outside world and getting forgotten there is a disaster in itself. 

The Love of a FAMILY is LIFE’S greatest BLESSING – Anonymous. 

The Paradox

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Albert Einstein famously remarked in a conversation with Warner Heisenberg, “You know in the west we’ve built a beautiful ship, and it has all the comforts. But actually the one thing that it doesn’t have is a compass and that’s why it doesn’t know where it’s going.”

This paradox of our times was propounded by the Dalai Lama when he said, “We have wider freeways but narrower viewpoints. We have taller buildings but shorter tempers.” Will Smith said that we spend money we haven’t earned on things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like.

And it’s phenomenal how the same technology that brings us close to those who are far away takes us far away from people that are actually close. 30 billion Whats App messages are sent per day, but 48 percent of people say that they feel lonelier in general. The paradox of our times is that we have more degrees but less sense. More knowledge but less judgement. More experts but fewer solutions.

It was Martin Luther King Jr. who said that the irony of our time is that we have guided missiles but misguided men. Have you ever found it perplexing that you’ve been all the way to the moon and back but you struggle to start a conversation across the road or across the bus?

It’s amazing that Bill Gates was known as the top earner of 2015 with a wealth of $79.2 billion but one in four CEOs claims to be struggling with depression. Do we actually thrive on this paradox? Is it that this paradox actually makes the media interesting, it’s what makes journalism interesting, it’s what makes politics interesting, it’s what makes television interesting? Is this paradox actually what we feed off and what we live off and what we talk about and discuss in our circles? Doesn’t it seem that we’ve tried to clean up the air but polluted our soul, we’ve split the atom but not our prejudice, and we’re aiming for higher incomes but we have lower morals? So how do we bring a change?

Well, it starts with us, each of us pressing pause, pressing reset, and then pressing play again. Taking a moment to become more conscious, taking a moment to become more aware, taking a moment to really reflect on the consequence, the implication of a misplaced word of an unnecessary argument that we all know we didn’t need to have, or to speak to someone just slightly differently in a different tone, in a different voice, in a different empathy, with a different perspective. Just to really connect with people on a different level.

This, thinking out loud, started from Albert Einstein when he actually said that the problems we have today can’t be solved with the same thinking that we used when we once created them. We need to research alternative teachings and dig deep down into these ancient books of wisdom. We need to go back to understanding if there’s anything written in those creased pages of time that can actually reveal more knowledge and more wisdom of how we can transform our experience of life today. Otherwise, this paradox means that every step forward we take, we’re taking three backwards every time.

PS: In the hours spent mindlessly surfing social media on my phone, I came across this jewel. The text above is actually from a video, and I could have paraphrased it, but it could not have been worded better. This is the original video : https://youtu.be/ZZ4-4RKx8r4

 

Mr. Chief Minister !!!

 

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An incident I happened to witness last weekend. It happened during an inaugural ceremony of launching a public scheme in my town. The chief guest was state CM and few ministers along with state dignitaries were present. Though not a big fan of politics, I happened to attend this event because of the compulsion of my friend, who also happened to be a member of the party’s youth wing.

The stage was set and at the appointed time the dignitaries started arriving. And then the hassle bustle of security personnel started and everyone knew CM has arrived. Chants by party workers filled the air and in a movement atmosphere was pumped up. Understandably non-interested in the event, I was standing in the corner of this place watching all the events which occurred.

Meanwhile CM entered the auditorium and black cat commandos cleared his way to the stage. People fill the auditorium with the chanting of CM’s name. Almost everyone were on their feet. Suddenly before getting on the stage CM stopped. Seeing the anxious and alert faces of the guards it was clear that this was not part of planned routine. CM turned his back and was searching for someone in the crowd. Little did anyone knew that it was this little girl Riya he was looking for.

Riya was a 2nd grade student studying in one of the government school in the town. Riya and her friends had a problem at hand. And they had heard that the Chief Minister was a problem solver. So the moment Riya got him within earshot, she yelled, “Mr. CM…”

CM was amused by the second-standard student waving to him and calling out his name. His heart might have told him to go to her. He went to her and asked the security personnel to bring the girl near him. He says hi to her and asked her “What is your name? How are you?”.  He was touched when he learned that the girl had called him to air a grievance: Her classmate Alex was homeless and needed a home. CM took the girl by his hands and went to a nearby side room of auditorium along with her two friends. He asked Riya what was the issue.

“Alex is homeless,” Riya said. “His father is not well,” pitched in Abhay and Jagan. “Mother too,” completed Vishnu.

CM smiled and turned to principal secretary and asked if she knew about Alex. She in turn asked the SP in charge and he nodded and said the kids were right. The Chief Minister asked the secretary to get this in writing from the principal of the school before the event is over and asked the children to join the event with him. The event got concluded as planned and we did not hear anything about these kids.

It was the next day I got to know that Chief Minister had left the venue only after allotting Rs 3 lakhs to build a house for the child.

“No Act Of Kindness, No Matter How Small, Is Ever Wasted – Aesop”.

Ref: ManoramaOnline

Its All About Winning

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A farmer once grew an award-winning corn in his farm. Each year he entered his corn in the state fair where it won a blue ribbon.

One year a newspaper reporter interviewed him on his successive victory and learned something interesting about how he did it. The reporter discovered that the farmer used to share his seed corn with his country men every year. “How can you afford to share your best seed corn with your neighbors when they are entering the same corn in competition with yours each year?” the reporter asked.

“That is the secret” said the farmer. He explained, the wind picks up pollen from the ripening corn and swirls it from field to field. If my neighbor grow inferior corn, cross-pollination will steadily degrade the quality of my corn. If I am to grow good corn, I must help my neighbor grow good corn… simple!!

The above incident is so true with our lives also. Those who want to live meaningfully and well must help enrich the lives of others, for the value of a life is measured by the lives it touches. And those who choose to be happy must help others find happiness, for the welfare of each is bound up with the welfare of all.

Call it power of collectivism – Call it a principle of success – Call it a law of life. The fact is, none of us truly wins, until we all win !!!

Joy of Simple Pleasures

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Walking in a park near my home last Saturday evening I saw some children going berserk with joy. I along with the few in the park were annoyed with the commotion. When we had a closer look, it seemed they were carrying something like a prized possessions in a small bag. I thought what is it so priceless that they were celebrating. My curiosity led me near to them and I understood the color of their joy was violet. Now you will think from when did joy have colors. Ending the guesses, I am talking about Jamun fuit (I don’t remember the english name). Yes the children were collecting Jamuns. They were throwing stones on a Jamun tree and collecting the fruits. I waited there with them and left for my way home enjoying few Jamuns offered to me by the kids.

This incident reminded me of my childhood days where I used to do those tiresome activity of throwing stones at the Tamarind tree near my home. I have to really admit at the outset that I was really bad at aiming the tamarinds. I could even hear the stones laugh as to how I could have missed such a bunch of imli (tamarind). Being deprived of the essential skills I had to depend on the hardwork of my friends who were good at aiming well. And my job was to steel from their bounty and fill pockets of my shorts even more stuffed in the shirt pocket.

Some of my friends were the expert throwers and I was the leader of the “imli collectors” and in my greed to collect I forgot that stones cannot dodge. One day it so happened in my bliss of seeing the rain of imli, I was too busy collecting imli and my overwhelmed joy was rudely interrupted by that stupid stone that hit with vengeance right above my right eye. O boy it really pains. But what hurt worse was when I was bellowing in pain, my dear friends saw to it that they first emptied my pocket of my hard earned fruit of labor, before nursing to my wound. But during the attack I made sure that the ones in my fist, remains with me. Now my right eye had a very heavy black patch and it was way before Jack Sparrow made the pirate look cool.

The above incidents made me think…do we eat them all of the fruits that we collected…. And the answer is No. But the fun is in accumulating and having more than your friends. And these stupid stuffs are the memories which brings smile on our beautiful faces even today.

“Sometimes, the simple things are more fun and meaningful than all the banquets in the world …” E.A. Bucchianeri.

Life in Chennai : My Survival

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Life in Chennai was a relay race, you run from one point to the other, a constant and never ending search for a permanent comfort zone. But the reality of the city lies in its temporariness. A stranger becomes closest to you heart today and the next day he walks out as a stranger again. People come walking in and we celebrate their entries and plan a lifelong package of hopes, fulfillment and commitments. It is later that you realize the truth that what makes the city a strange place is its temporariness and the immense opportunities it gives us to move on the next day no matter how bad things turned up. It trains you to tolerate the intolerable, hate the lovable and most importantly it teaches us to survive this strangely funny thing called life.

Suddenly thrown into a pool of unknown things and people, stuck in the daily hustle bustle, I was confident enough to create a space of my own. First it was the language and then the people. A very normal and ordinary wish which sounds simple but later you discover how disappointing and disheartening that wish is. Even now I am not able to understand many people, may be I didn’t try to or they didn’t allow me to. I soon knew that we live in a temporary shell that we are going to lose the next day.I have no intention to name the characters in my life, because there are so many. I fiercely loved some, I ignored some, I hated some and there was this big crowd behind me that did not exist for me. I can cut my phases in Chennai in to various cross sections, and all of them have the same story to narrate. So the names of my characters are not important.

The city though had changed my perceptions, the way I saw this world. It really made me humbled. People here are not the show off kind. Language was a problem and many times your action song skills rescue you. But again the people were very helpful some times.Sun, Sand, and a Sunday Morning Market all will make to think am I at the right place. There are no guilt, no regrets, no heart aches. No one weeps here alone in a room. You hit a party, get drunk and dance and yes that is the pain relief.

Where is my story here, where are my characters? Trust me by the time I finish this story, the characters in my life would be again the next set of new people. So what is the point in telling about them, they are long gone by the time I write this.When Mom calls me and asks whether I am okay, I don’t know what to say. I had stopped thinking about it long back. Am I okay??? I have equal reasons to be and not to be okay. But does that even matter? What is wrong in not being okay? This city the Detroit of India has made it a free option for me, the freedom to decide whether I am happy or not. Because once you claim here that you are happy, no one can say that your happiness is a lie. All you need to get is some really good pictures and upload on social networking sites. No I am not saying how silly things are, but how simple and easy the survival is. There is a shortcut to everything.

Fun is a very subjective concept here. It is the typical fun when in the beginning of the month, with a pocket newly refilled, we hangout in a luxurious place. But it is also an ecstatic feeling when in the end of the month you collect coins along with your room mates to buy a packet of maggi noodles. This can happen only in a city where it offers you extremes and yet have no shame or guilt about it.

When I talk to more and more people, I know how my experiences are not unique and not my own. I see people who had gone through the same things. So there is nothing that I own here, not even my individual experiences which are the results of my choices and preferences. Chennai makes everyone to make the same choices, nothing is unique here, everything is a phenomenon. It conditions you to make the same mistakes like anyone else.

As I have left the city now, I have no anxieties about the things and people I left behind. I have given them memories, they have given me memories of a lifetime. They have attended to my smallest fears and insecurities. I have had my strongest and weakest moments, biggest leap and deepest fall, happiest moments and worst. And somewhere along some lane they might pause for a milli second to suspend their happening present just to remember how fiercely and unconditionally I admired them and my futile attempt to make it permanent.

Thank You Chennai!!!

All it takes is one moment to forever change you.

This is Narayanan Krishnan’s story. For all those who watched Ustad Hotel (Malayalam Film) he is Jayaprakash in the film. With a degree in hand and future in sight, Narayanan was on his way to be an award-winning chef at a 5-star restaurant in Switzerland after being an award-winning chef with Taj Hotels, Bangalore. All it took to change his plans forever was a walk on the streets of his home town of Madurai, India. It was then that he was taken aback by an elderly man lying on the side of the road. This man was starving and filthy. Narayanan reached out to this old man who placed his frail, wrinkled dirty hand upon his. This was a defining moment.

  “I saw a very old man, literally eating his own human waste out of hunger. I went to the nearby hotel and asked them what was available. They had idly, which I bought and gave to the old man. Believe me, I had never seen a person eating so fast, ever. As he ate the food, his eyes were filled with tears. Those were the tears of happiness.”

Narayanan decided in this moment that helping this man and those in need would be a life well-lived, providing him the happiness and fulfillment he had yet to experience until this moment.

Narayanan Krishnan, all of 33 years old now, does what he was professionally trained to do as a chef, feed people. Only difference is Krishnan does not do this in the swanky confines of a 5-star hotel. Every day, he wakes up at 4 am, cooks a simple hot meal and then, along with his team, loads it in a van and travels about 200 km feeding the homeless in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, 365 days a year.

Krishnan feeds, often with his hands, almost 400 destitute people every day. And for those who need it, he provides a free haircut too. He has provided more than 1.2 million hot meals through his nonprofit organisation Akshaya Trust, and now hopes to extend this to shelter for the homeless too. Krishnan is the only Indian in a list of 10 heroes that CNN has picked worldwide to honor. Its so true all it takes is one moment to forever change you.