Monday, March 26, 2007



When the subject of success comes up, I am always reminded of two of my neighbours…………. One of them was an old lady who lived alone. Over the years, I had come to know her to be a pleasant, warm and generous lady. But then everyone started observing a sudden, unpleasant change come over her. She started becoming ill-tempered. I started to hear bangs and hysterical shrieks every time I passed her house. She became frail and weak and also had dark circles around her eyes. She only occasionally came out her house and on such occasions she would look so awful and ill that we would want her to go in again. Rumours floated around that she had gone mad. I asked my parents whether the rumours were true but they would only say,” She is going through very difficult times, dear.” But I never believed that. Instead I accepted the rumour. The shrieks and bangs continued but after six months or so, I started to notice that they had decreased. Though her body remained frail and her dark circles deepened, still her eyes had stopped moving to and fro in that mad manner. She seemed to have calmed down. A month later I saw my parents visit her and just weeks later, I got the news that the old lady had died. It was only years later that my parents told me that she had always kept a secret which she had only told my parents as they were close friends of hers. The old lady had once suffered a terrible accident whose pain and suffering had left her hooked to morphine. Only severe doses of morphine could alleviate her pain. But she had not liked that fact that she would have to take morphine for the rest of her life. She had revealed to my parents,” I will leave this world independent of everyone and everything. ” Thus, she had started giving up morphine. Just weeks before her death she had become successful in doing so and had called my parents to tell them.
…………………….Then I remember the other neighbour, a young man names Prashant. He had a good family, good education , sufficient income ……. everything. In his graduate days, it is said that he got into very bad company and spoilt his prospects for the future. And thus the boy who had shown so much promise before was now an unemployed person. He would sit in his house all day long, drunk, depressed and defeated, until one day he committed suicide and left behind heartbroken parents.
I was stumped by the old lady’s daring and decisiveness while saddened by the young man’s failure to rise. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain and the mad longing the old lady surely must have felt. Prashant had all the ingredients to begin anew. His youth, sufficient capabilities and also a supportive family. Still he chose to while away and whither. Thus, I have realized that success comes to those who dare to act.

2)………and I was really touched by his /her act.

I am an extrovert by nature. I am out-going, I enjoy social –dos and hate staying at home. In short, I like to be in the thick of things.
And that is the reason why, I was really annoyed on having to stay at a hospital just a day before New Year. I was down with measles and a temperature of 103 and I kept asking myself, ‘How can this happen to me?’…….
There was another woman next to my bed and as I had to pass the time some way or the other, I started talking to her. I am very good at making others talk and so I learnt quite a few things about her. She was a widow, had very few relatives, lived alone and liked it that way or so she said. I like talking to quiet people. I find them very interesting. I firmly believe that opposites attract and my belief has strengthened as both of us had become very good friends.
The next day I woke up to find many presents placed near my bed. My friends had sent me plenty of ‘get well soon cards.’ I was felling very happy when I noticed that the widow had not got any presents. She had not woken up yet as she had had a minor surgery last night. I finished opening the presents and again looked at the widow who was still asleep. I felt guilty. Then I looked at my presents. I was reluctant to give any of them to her. I defended my reluctance by telling myself that my friends would be really hurt if I gave any of them to her. And so I made myself forget her. My nurse came and told me that I had to go to sleep. Thus I had a long restful sleep and woke up in the afternoon to find that the widow had gone. She was not on her bed. Later on, I came to know that she had been discharged while I had been sleeping. I found a note written by her, next to my pillow. It said,
‘Dear friend,
Happy New Year. It was really nice talking to you yesterday.
You were asleep so I couldn’t personally tell you how stimulating
my conversation with you was.
I hope you get well soon.’
I was really touched by her sincerity and humbleness, but at the same time I felt very ashamed about the fact that I had been so selfish, that I hadn’t sacrificed even a single present out of the many that I had received to make a lonely and needy person happy.


What would our life be, without the colour and heartiness of Holi, without the mouth- watering sweets of Diwali, without the merry days of Ganesh Chaturthi or without any of the Indian festivals that infuse variety and vibrancy in our daily routine existence?
Indian festivals are so many and so different from each other, each with a significance and story of its own. For instance, Onam, the principal festival of Kerala. The picturesque harvest festival brings with it ten days of colour, feasting, boat races, song and dance to the state. According to legend, Onam celebrates the golden age of King Mahabali, the mythical ruler Kerala. The festival is celebrated to welcome the spirit of this king. Then there is the Makar Sankranti which occurs on 14th January. Makar Sankranti marks the commencement of the sun’s journey to the northern hemisphere, signifying the onset of Uttarayana. On this day people take holy dips in the waters and worship the sun. or let us take the Id-ul-Fitr, Id-ul-Zuha and Id-i-Milal, some of the Muslim festivals that are celebrated with great enthusiasm all over our country.
Other than these, there is the Guru Nanak Jayanti of the Sikhs, Navaratri of the Gujaratis, Gukulashthami…………the list is endless. These festivals provide the change (and holidays) which one always looks forward to.
A very important aspect of Indian festivals is the food!!! Each morsel is prepared with such generous amounts of everything and with such care!!!!!! Just as a mother nurtures her child!
Today, many times Indian festivals are used to show off and are called the selling point of India. Television and movies portray them as extravagant events, full of grandeur and exaggerate to such an extent that it all seems a farce. In essence, Indian festivals are simple, their grandeur and richness being in the great message of togetherness that it gives to the world
-the hobbit


Over the years, I have realized what discipline is by understanding what it is not. The frenzied scrambling for vada pavs that we see near the canteen is not an illustration of discipline. Nor is the constant talking on the cell phone during a concert or any public address. The ruthless fights to get a place in the local trains definitely cannot pass off as instances of discipline.

So, you may ask, what is discipline? Well, discipline, as a concept is not difficult to understand. Discipline is all about a controlled and coordinated way of doing things. It is about behaving in an organized and unfrivolous manner. It is a virtue few can boast of. to have control and enough discipline to not act the same as the disorderly person ahead shows a toughness of mind. A disciplined life also helps to escape the misery of chaos.

To not talk in the class while all the other children are talking, to not jump the line at the ticket counter, even if everyone does so, to not throw garbage on the road but patiently look around for a dustbin, are some of the simplest deeds that in reality demonstrate great discipline. A disciplined man generally embodies great virtues and is considered as a reliable human being.

So, how is discipline to be brought into the life of every person? Most evidences suggest that such a quality can be acquired only through realization and by exercising control. Enforcement of discipline is not advisable. As Marie Montessori, a famous Italian lady said, “Discipline must come through liberty. We do not consider an individual disciplined when he has been rendered as artificially silent as a mule and as immovable as a paralytic. He is an individual annihilated, not disciplined.”

Today, we are seeing a gradual lessening of discipline in our country. In our veins flows the blood of our ancestors who practiced extraordinary control during their penances. If we acquire even a fraction of that discipline, then the course of our nation could change drastically.

According to me the reason why we see a general slackening of discipline is because it is no longer considered a worthy quality today. Qualities like enterprise, shrewdness and resourcefulness are given much more importance. Discipline comes nowhere into the picture. We must realize that we all suffer either one of the two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment. Now the choice is ours.

-the hobbit


To be able to talk without the fear of creating a scandal, to be able to walk without staying on alert for thieves and kidnappers, to be able to read the headlines of newspapers boasting of victory and progress instead of terrorism and anarchy: These may look like very simple wishes but sadly, I could wish for countless pearls and diamonds and still get it, but if I ask for the freedom to wake up every morning to the sound of birds chirping, all I would get is an incredulous look.

This is what our life has degenerated to. And do get me right; I have no wish to portray myself as a hapless victim. All of us are responsible for what is happening today. We humans are like leeches, drinking up the resources of the earth and bloating up to gigantic proportions. And all because we have forgotten to live and let live.

We loudly proclaim, “We have grown, we have developed!” But into what? I would wager to say, ‘fiends.’ With great haste we have built our homes, our societies, our cities and in extension our world. Without a thought we have imposed ourselves on the various plants and animals. We were actually meant to live with them as one but we have very thoughtlessly told them to either comply or perish. And it’s not just them that we are hurting. We have not left even our own kith and kin. It is bad enough that we have designed a hundred different weapons that have been created for the sole purpose of taking lives, but that there are some monsters in this world who would not think twice before using them becomes a thought too difficult to bear. We peace – loving, unobtrusive people are also guilty of being a prey of sensationalisation. Don’t we all delight in the scandal and gossip that surrounds celebrities? We go through every magazine, newspaper and television channel just to know the latest tidbit pertaining to celebrities.

I think it is time we realize that every time we wear a leather belt or a shoe, the carcass of an animal lies dead somewhere, every time we waste sheets of paper, there is a pitiful stump of a tree somewhere in some forest, every time we overuse precious resources like water, there are people in Africa crying for a few drops of it.

Let us try to change our behaviour and our attitude. Let us try to make this planet greener and happier. Let us co-exist with every being in harmony. Let us live and let live.



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