He said, we will die early and will find a place in hell, if we don’t pay him the required charges for his pooja ceremony. He was demanding a sum of Rs. Five thousand and one for the “asthi visarjan pooja”. This made me angry. I requested the pundit to stop any further pooja. I clearly said, that the way he is speaking, definitely made us fear that he might push us into the river Ganges. My readers! Let me clarify that we were at the ‘sangam’ of the river Ganges and Yamuna. We had gone there to perform the last rites of our close friend. My friend’s brother was there to perform the last rites. He had come from abroad to perform his duties. The rituals we were to perform were to submit the last remains of the departed soul into the holy river Ganges.
When the situation came to a deadlock, the boatman came for the negotiations. He wanted to settle the matter and offered to finalise the things in half the amount initially demanded by the pundit. Since I had accompanied my friend’s brother for these last rituals, it was my duty to get the things done smoothly. I was adamant on paying rupees five hundred, the amount that I had already told the boatman, before he started to sail us mid-way into the Ganges. Anyhow with the final intervention of my departed friend’s brother, the matter settled at Rs. one thousand and one hundred. The pooja started. It was a very brief pooja. The priest did not even know how to recite the mantras properly. There was no point arguing further. Now, we ourselves wanted this pooja to be over as soon as possible. After the pooja, the boatman took us to the ‘sangam stream’ where the river Ganges meets the river Yamuna. We submitted the bag containing the last remains of the departed soul.
We returned back with a heavy hearts. The heaviness this time was probably more due to the arguments we had with the pundit. This problem of negotiations at such moments should definitely find some solution. The so called keepers of the religion in our society need to come forward and issue clear instructions, so that such episodes do not happen again and again. If this keeps happening, the traditions will lose their meaning.
These things are sensitive. I request my readers to consolidate their thoughts a bit and react only after a delay.
Recently I was watching a TV-serial based on recent real life incidents. In that episode a child servant was shown eating leftover food of their masters. This immediately reminded me of a very emotional moment of my childhood. While on a NCC camp tour during my school days, our train stopped at a station named ‘Akola’ in Rajasthan. It was the afternoon time around 3.00 PM. We all cadets had just finished our lunch, served by the Railway pantry. Those days, the lunch used to be served in rectangular steel plates with pre-divided sections. The serving waiter took all the plates out of our coach and piled them in a heap on the platform. To my utter surprise, I could see lots of young children flocking towards those plates. Within seconds they started eating all the leftover chapatti’s and vegetables from the plates. Leftover Dal was something they were really searching for in each plate, as if it was something they had tasted after a long time. I still remember that at that time tears trickled out of my eyes. Even when I am writing this paragraph on my laptop, the situation is no different. Incidentally, I am writing all this while on a train journey, when the dinner is being served. Today each pack of dinner costs Rupees seventy. At that time it was about Rupees five. But how come, even today some children of this country are devoid of food as their first right. How come even today TV serials have to show children going through the same trauma.
Are we a society that adopts the Darwin’s principle, “Survival of the fittest”, too much like the animals do? We do not have a right to be called a society when we cannot balance the rights over basic needs. The way we are moving towards an unthoughtful herd of people rather than a well knit society, the day is not far, when only resourceful people will breathe the air first and others will have to thrive on air left out after their exhalation.
I am a little sorry, if I could not remain positive while writing this episode. I don’t blame this on the situation. I do not have words really to blame anyone. I as an individual do not have a readymade solution. Although as a society we do need to find a permanent solution. We are truly standing very near to one of the great transition periods of history. A great change is overdue.
I was just thirteen. I used to study in a boarding school at Nainital. My father was also posted in Nainital. So, I used to pay weekly visits to my residence in brook-hill colony. It was a beautiful Sunday and I was on my regular home visit. My father asked me to come along with him to Nainital Club. The popular Hindi film actor ‘Devanand’ was staying there. He had come for shooting of his movie ‘Kalabaaz’.
I very much remember every single second of those few minutes. Many people were waiting at the gate of the cottage where ‘Devanand’ was staying. He came at the gate, wearing a thick woolen sweater. He started shaking hands with all the people present. My turn also came. Oh my god! It was such a gentle and warm hand shake. My small hand and a big soft hand of the heart throb of millions. I still remember the feel. My right hand in the right hand of Mr. Devanand. At that time I didn’t knew much about him. It was when I grew old that I came to know about the magic Devanand’s persona created on the silver screen.
As the years passed by, instead of fading, my memory about this event became stronger. The feel of his hand became much more prominent. On the day, when I heard the news about the death of Dev Sahib, I became really sad. The feeling of that handshake was still quite strongly imprinted on my mind. I read a lot about Dev sahib, I came to know about his evergreen and ever-inspiring life. He remained an eternal learner and his “keep trying – keep going” attitude had always been extremely motivating.
Today, whenever I feel a little low due to some obstacles of life, I just remember that handshake feel and believe me, I do get extra confidence to face things with renewed spirit. Inspiring souls are like that. He is one of mine, you too can think of someone your very own.
Sometimes few comments hit so hard, that you can recall them even after many-many years. I was in class sixth, aged around ten. I was good at studies and due to this reason, I often suffered from over-confidence. I always felt that I don’t need to study before the exams. It was one such day, when the next day was supposed to be the exam day. As usual, I was over-confident and was feeling a little sleepy. I said to my Mom that I was feeling a little feverish and that I would like to take rest. The maid servant was nearby. While I was convincing my Mom, that my preparations were good and let me sleep a bit, the maid servant commented on me; “He is doing all this drama to avoid studies”. Oh God! Hearing this comment, I started shaking with anger. Both my mother and the maid servant started feeling as if an earthquake had come. My objection was that why the maid servant commented. Who was she to comment on me? If mom said anything, it was fine. But the Maid servant has no right to comment. My Mom consoled me. I remember that I kept on weeping for a long time. I took the exam next day with a heavy heart. After I returned from the exam, my mother explained that the maid servant was also like a family member. She had been working for us since a long time and had formed attachment with each one of us. It was due to shear attachment that she made such a comment. Her intentions were only for to my betterment. At that time, I could understand my Mom’s logic only to some extent.
Now when I analyze this whole series of events, I am able to value my mother’s advice that gave me a sort of value system that I still possess. When I was quitting my last job and it was my last day in that office, the security guard gave me a special salute and came to me to express his feelings. The words he said touched me a lot. He said; “Sir! Your behaviour was good with everyone and it was especially very good with the working class people”. I derived a lot of inner satisfaction from his comment, much higher than my fat last pay cheque.
It is a story of those days when I was studying in a boarding school in Nainital. Our school was on a hill top and we used to get town-turns on special occasions. A town-turn means a permission to go to town for three to four hours. The town was three kilometer down the hill. The episode relates to one such town-turn. I had bought the items of my need and grabbed some snacks in my favorite restaurant. As I was walking down the slopes of the town market, I noticed that a street dog was continuously following me. I took a turn inside a lane but the dog still followed me. He was not barking at me. He was simply following me. I turned towards the dog and shooed him to go back, as if his master was ordering him. He sat down and started swinging his tail rapidly. I gave a closer look. Oh yes! It was ‘Tommy’.
Tommy was a street dog, who often used to visit our house when my father was posted at Nainital. It was around four-five years ago. As a child, I used to play with him a lot. I always gave him the sides of the bread. He was very friendly with me. I also gave him training to catch a ball. He obeyed me as if I was his full time master. But he was still a street dog. My parents never allowed me to keep him on a full time basis. I still treated him as my pet. Now after four-five years, his looks had changed. He was quite weak. His eyes looked wet, as if he was showing emotions, after meeting me. But now, reality started biting me. I had to return to my school and by no means was I allowed keeping a pet in my school. I couldn’t understand how to dodge him and take a different route. He kept on following me on every turn I took. Ultimately, I entered a tea-shop. Tommy waited outside the shop, swinging his tail rapidly, as if to tell me to come out fast. I asked the shop owner for the back door and came out. This way, I was able to dodge the Tommy and take the route back to my school. But somehow I kept feeling a pinch somewhere inside my heart.
Life is like that. Many times we have to dodge our dear ones for various kinds of reasons. We do feel a pinch in the initial days, but slowly even that pinch is gone. Sometimes we do need a vent to remove that feeling of pinch. I could vent out my feelings after thirty five years, by writing this article. Find some pinches inside you and do find a way to vent them out.
When I was a kid, my family thought that I had some special powers of predicting the future of people. Actually, I used to sit in front of the place of worship in my house for quite a long duration, which was unusual for a child of my age. I was around six or seven at that time. I remembered lots of religious prayers, mantras and hymns. I used to repeat them all everyday in front of the pictures of our Idols. Once I was asked to predict, whether my uncle would get selected in his second attempt of banking examinations. I went to the worship place, asked GOD. ‘Yes’ came the intuitive reply and the same I repeated in front of my family members. Fortunately for me and my uncle, he got selected. People were very happy and credit was given to me and my intuition driven prediction. In another such incidence my answer was a short ‘NO’ and this time also it came out to be true. Slowly many requests started coming to me and I used to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ out of my random choice. People, whose work got successful, gave credit to me. Other people, for whom my answers did not match their expectation, never discredited me, as they thought that I was just a child.
Today, no one believes that I am a gifted person. I still make predictions for my personal events and I feel that the success rate of my predictions is still the same as it was in my childhood. I still sit in front of the place of worship in my house. I still pray to GOD and ask him for favors. Now I am just an ordinary GOD fearing individual. I am no more the equivalent of the great prediction maker, Nostradamus, to the people around me. Today I stand firmly against the astrologers. I treat astrology as a way of giving satiety to human curiosity. I do not care about predictions as they are not based on any scientific fact or knowledge. A gifted child has now become a believer of ‘karma’ theory. You choose your own theory; I have chosen mine for ever.
She used to work in the department, which was heading. He was the one who had selected her in an interview for the post of a typist. She was confident. She had good typing speed. He thought that she would prove to be an extra-ordinary worker. She did do quite a lot of work every day, but he expected more. He was actually a perfectionist by nature and thus it was difficult for him to be satisfied with the normal work effort by any one in his department.
It was a shivering cold morning. He invited all his teammates to the conference room for a routine work review. He made general remarks to his team-mates, some with words of praises and some with giving more challenges. He also made a passing remark that some people in the group are passing more time in rubbing their hands rather than producing the work as per targets. He did not observe that at that particular moment the typist girl was rubbing her hands due to cold. But, some other team-mates did observe. As always, the meeting got over in a normal way. He came back to his cabin.
She entered her boss’s cabin. Sir! Your comment today was pointed directly towards me. I always respected you, and I never expected this from you. The boss was stunned. He asked her to sit down calmly. Tears trickled down her cheeks. Boss had no clue, how to handle this situation. He said; “I am deeply sorry. I did not mean to hurt you. I now realize that the remark was sarcastic and should not have been made.” She heard the sorry and went back to her seat.
After two hours, she returned. She was quite normal by now. She said, “Sir! I never expected that a Boss will say sorry so easily. My respect for you has increased further.”
This was a simple episode, narrated to me by a close friend of mine. I thought it would be worth sharing with my readers. A simple sorry expressed by an elder to a younger one for a genuine reason can heal lots of wounds quickly. I consider saying sorry, for misdeeds on the part of the leader whether it was deliberate or accidental, as one of the qualities of a great leader.
The story simply begins like this. One day I and my uncle, who visited me from Mumbai, were out on a morning walk. It was about 8.00 A.M. in the morning. Yes, from morning walk’s angle it was rather late. But it was the right time for beggars on the street to start their day of struggle. So it was quite normal when a beggar come near us and asked for some money. My uncle, who is a retired soft-hearted person, inserted his hand into the pocket of his kurta and found a five rupee coin. He thought it should be enough for the beggar to eat at least a samosa (‘samosa’, the famous Indian snack found in almost every nook and corner of India. It has also earned the honour of being one of the top ten popular dishes of the world.). So, coming to the point, my uncle very kindly handed this coin to the beggar and asked him with little authority in his voice tone – “Go and enjoy a samosa this morning”. Then came the surprise for me. Instead of the beggar saying some usual notes of thanks, he said “You may keep the coin with you, or I shall decide myself what I should eat, or I should use this for eating or for something else”. My uncle swiftly said – “Ok! Do whatever you like”. This simple episode vibrated lots of chords in my mind. Look, even the beggar wants to take his own decisions. He doesn’t want to be guided by your decision. You may think that you are providing funds to him, but sorry! You are just giving it to him because you feel you have and he doesn’t. Mere reason that you donated the money is not enough for you to start guiding him on how he should use it. There is a famous saying in Hindi that says “Neki kar, dariya me daal”, which means forget your acts of benevolence, by throwing them into the river.
Today the biggest challenge any leader faces is to allow his teammates to take decisions. Allowing other people to take decisions is required in all walks of life. May be in a family, in the corporate world, in the political sphere and everywhere. Leaders or persons at the helm of affairs are required to provide a decision-taking-framework only. After that the decisions should be taken by individuals only. An effective collective decision would come out only when decision taking skills are inculcated in each member of any team. Remember, a decision comes after problem analysis. Each individual will have his own perception of the problem. Therefore, an individual’s problem analysis pattern will ultimately add to the quality of the decision taken. Not all decisions are required to be consensus based, but the feeling that I have a power to decide in itself is a bigger power. My vote was counted; this itself gives me sufficient satisfaction even if the final decision was not as per my wish. The power of decision making itself, prompts me to acquire more knowledge, because I care for my own decision and I always want that the final team decision should align with my wish. Do You know, what the beggar did of that five rupee coin? He counted all coins in his kitty, it must have been sufficient for him to buy a medium size white bread. I saw him buying that from a nearby store. He surely took a better decision as he could now feed his whole family with twenty slices of bread which was sufficient for the family breakfast. By buying a samosa, he could not even have fed himself fully.
Dr. Sunil Ji Garg
I was moving inside a tunnel. It felt as if the wind around me was moving very fast like a whirlpool. The tunnel was completely dark, but I still had a sense of direction. I kept on moving for a long time. I had some different kind of senses. The feeling of having a physical body was missing. It was feeling as if I was energized like the way we saw the characters getting energized to reach other stars and planets in the Star Trek movies. I did not fully understand what part inside me was thinking and what was giving me senses. The feeling of sound and touch was missing, but the feeling of light was still there to some extent. My thoughts were different but they were still coming. I was feeling the warmth which I used to feel when my mother and father were alive. I was myself alive or not, I did not know. I did not feel like breathing anymore. But still something was still carrying on. It was me, certainly me, but in some different form. The form I never experienced before. The form I do not know was joyous or painful.
Then suddenly came another different feeling. I felt that I was facing some intense light source. The light that was far more intense than any light I had ever seen before. But this light was quite soothing. It was high intensity, but it still felt ‘cool’. I am writing the word ‘cool’, not because I regained my touch sense, but it is just the word I needed to express that feeling. And that was the last thing I could sense, before I returned to my physical senses. It was already late Sunday afternoon.
I tried to analyze my dream. As usual, I sat down on my laptop and searched the Internet to find what could be the reason behind such an experience. I came across experiences of many other people with very much similar experience. The tunnel and the intense light at the end of the episode are quite common to all such stories. Was that a secret meeting with GOD?
Just think why we connect light with GOD and darkness with Demons. Why we draw a halo around heads of our Idols and saints. Why do we connect positivity with light and negativity with darkness? Why religion is connected to super natural powers beyond our thoughts. Why after so much of scientific research the dimensions of unknowns are ever increasing. Why our religious leaders say that these are matters of belief. Why we train our young children to fold hands or open hands in front of statues of some idols or may be just towards a wall. Are we naturally believers or non-believers or do we work just according to our whims and fancies and as per our convenience. Sit down with yourself for sometime, answers may not be so difficult to find. After all, not every thing needs to be answered. Even science has something called axioms, something that is beyond proof or disproof. These are always the starting points. So let’s read back the experience again, I was moving inside a tunnel …….