Sunday, December 14, 2014

My Narrow Escape!

My mom had promised to gift me a gold ring with my birthstone when I turn eighteen. It was one of my long standing wishes to have a ring with a stone on it. The day I turned 18, I promptly took the opportunity and headed to one of the jewellery shops named after a legendary Titan in my small home town of Changanacherry.

The shop owner knew me very well and received me with great joy and listened to my need to get the ring with my birthstone. I had done a bit of research before heading to buy the ring with the stone. As strange as it might sound today, those were the pre-Google era where people had to ask others to get the required information. I was aware of my birthstone as Aquamarine which was supposed to have a marine blue sheen.The owner asked me a few questions about my date and time of birth. It didn’t sound strange since I thought he was only reiterating the details to ascertain my birthstone. Things started looking a bit odd when he asked me questions on my astrological stars and a few other details. I shared with him whatever little I knew about them and without delay he got into the act of referring certain astrological books.

A few minutes into his reading, the fellow came up with a suggestion which sounded totally bizarre to me! He stated that based on my astrological stars I’m supposed to wear only a pearl on my ring and no other stone. The thought of wearing a ring with a pearl didn’t sound appealing to me at all. I badly wanted a ring with a stone and preferably my birthstone itself.He refused to accept my wish and almost confirmed the order with what he suggested. He was about to sell me the ring when I found a bit of courage from somewhere and told him, that was not what I wanted. I categorically laid down before him the need to have a ring with a stone and not a pearl. He continued to respond negatively and said if he was to sell a ring to me it’ll only be one with a pearl on it. So much for customer being the king!

The argument went on for a while. I tried my best to convince him about my long standing wish to have a ring with a stone on it and my dislike towards wearing one with a pearl. He was absolutely adamant on his decision and didn’t seem like budging at all. After a few minutes into the discussion he made a weird suggestion. He proposed continuing the discussion on the upstairs of the shop. I for a moment was not sure what his intentions were. I even wondered about a secret collection of rings with stones on the floor upstairs which he probably didn’t want to reveal to the other customers around.

With a bit of apprehension I followed him to the section upstairs. I was quite confident that he was not going to act smart since my family knew where I was at that given point of time and he knew that too. Expecting an array of mirrors reflecting immense wealth of precious jewellery in diamonds, gold and silver, I climbed the stairs to the second floor. I was almost sure of finding my Aquamarine studded gold ring awaiting my arrival to be part of my finger as my eighteenth birthday gift from my mom. We landed on the top floor and what in actuality welcomed me was totally beyond any of my remote faculty! It was neither the glittering gold nor other jewels that presented themselves in front of me. Rather a completely empty hall which was merely plastered with absolutely no furniture whatsoever greeted us! I was startled for a few moments that the shop owner had to shake me back to reality. 

What followed after this was even more shocking! He laid down a bamboo mat in front of us and invited me to join him. Till date I’m not sure from where, but by the time I blinked my eyes there was a bottle of Honey Bee brandy and two glasses right in front of us. This was followed by a statement, “Now, let us discuss”! I seemed to have lost all my abilities to speak at that moment. My vocabulary appeared to have deserted me forever. An innocent boy who just turned eighteen who visited a jewellery shop with a simple wish to have a gold ring with a birthstone was made to sit in front of a bottle of brandy being insisted of having a peg or two before striking a deal to agree on an unwanted item from the store! What a wacky world of business it was!

I came to a quick conclusion that I won’t be able to resist the action with words. There was only one thing left to do. A flash of a second is all what it took. With less time than required for a cracker to burst after set to fire, I ran holding my life and was out of his sight in no time! I was literally flying down the stairs and was out of the shop as well, before he could even say ‘stop’!

What a way to get a simple birthday wish fulfilled?!

PS: I later got my wish granted from another shop with a beautiful looking gold ring decorated with an Aquamarine stone.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Irritometer!

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Dec 2014

I’m pretty sure you must have heard or used any of the different types of meters you see around in your life, Thermometer, Speedometer etc. All these are meant to do some calculation and provide you with a result. Ever heard of a thing called Irritometer? This is something which you wouldn’t have seen, but is definitely working within you, but ironically you do not realize it.

Picture this. You are having a conversation with someone you love and care about. The ultimate aim of the conversation is to take a decision on an important topic which affects you both. Thoughts get exchanged; pros and cons get discussed; at times with differences cropping up here and there. The air gets tensed when the differences do not seem to get resolved. If you let the conversation continue in the same pace it’ll soon lead to heated exchanges between the two. This obviously will result in unintentional words spoken by either or both. These could probably hurt the ego and might lead to bigger issues and perhaps fights as well. Rest is history.

Now let us rewind a bit. Go back to the point where you start seeing the differences crop up in your conversation. You’ll begin to get a feeling of the air getting tensed. That’s the exact moment when the Irritometer in you gets kick started. You can sense the needle of the meter slowly coming to life. The Irritometer starts to calculate the level of irritation which results from a tensed conversation which touches upon the borders of ego clash.

Just like most of the meters, you could visualize the Irritometer indicating a low level of irritation initially, slowly moving towards a medium level and shoots up to a high level when it is guaranteed that all hell will break loose. It is absolutely important for you to know when this meter kick starts its operation so that you are aware of a potential danger ahead if the situation is not brought under control.

It doesn’t take much of an effort to listen to the Irritometer in you. It is a naturally given gift to all of us to realize when you start getting irritated. Many a times you will also know when a dear one gets irritated as well. The most prudent thing to do at that moment is to try not to aggravate the situation. There are people who realize this moment of irritation but do nothing to make things better. They just add fuel to the fire by letting the Irritometer switch to the next level.

We need to realize that it is part of a wonderful plan by our Creator that we all are designed with this amazing spiritual instrument, Irritometer. The instrument that allows you to sense the mood changes of your loved ones and lets you take the most logical action so as not to make matters worse. But the Creator has left the use of the tool and the follow-up actions to our discretion. It is one of the biggest responsibilities we need to undertake to ensure that we listen to the call of this meter and act accordingly.

Ensure that you keep an open mind during a conversation, listen to the Irritometer and identify the level at which the meter is on. Take the necessary course of action to ensure that the egos are not hurt by continuing with the factors that irritate you further. The actions that you could take may vary based on the level of relationship you share with your loved ones. For some, it could be a change of topic, for others it could be a simple hug or even a query to the other person asking if you are making them uncomfortable. These and many more can be devised to switch off the Irritometer so that your conversations are back on a smooth track.

We all are gifted with this wonderful skill of knowing what makes your loved ones irritated. May your Irritometers be in perfect working condition and be blessed with the providence of taking the right course of action when the meter kicks in! God bless you!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The Success of Failure

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Nov 2014

Many of us have the habit of planning important events in our lives. These could vary from deciding on higher education or getting married or building/buying a house and lots more. A lot of time gets invested in thinking how to plan and execute each of these events. It is also a usual practice to consult our family and friends before taking such major decisions.

A final decision is usually reached after all such discussions and evaluating the possible options. You even reach a point where you tell your mind that this is the best decision for you and gives a thumbs-up to go ahead with it. It is then, only a matter of time you taste the happiness of the successful decision you took. Occasionally there are times when you end up not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

The success, especially after all the meticulous planning and execution, elates your mind with all the positive feelings that come along with it. A failure could have an equal or at times even more of an impact on your mind. You may experience the power of your positive spirit getting drenched in the water of despair. Some of us feel like being pulled down from the pedestal of sense-of-achievement to an eternal disappointment that we don’t even want to attempt anything else in life. What we fail to observe is the power that comes along with each such failures.

It is absolutely true that every failure teaches you a much bigger lesson than the biggest ever success could make you learn. Probably the hormones that drive the extreme happiness during a success, clouds your ability to learn from it. It could also be due to the fact that, hardly anyone asks themselves, ‘Why did I succeed?’ This is not the case when you fail. Almost everyone does look back knowingly or unknowingly to see where did they fail. This action indeed is the best teacher.

The secret to succeed is not to worry about failures. This must be exactly what Edison meant by saying, “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” This is quite true in our lives when we set out to achieve the many different events as mentioned earlier. It is quite natural to feel dejected if you do not succeed even after all the planning and almost certain conclusion. You feel let down and the mental strength seemed to get drained. You experience a very strange phenomenon during a failure. The mountain of confidence you had till a moment back gets bulldozed into a pile of desperation.

It is ok to feel heartbroken since it is an outlet for your mind to let go the bad feeling created with a failure. What is not ok is to linger in the same thoughts for a prolonged period of time. It might sound strange, but realize that failure does have its own good side to it. Each time you fail you learn a few additional aspects of the event in hand. Look at the level of knowledge you had at the beginning of the event. See for yourself how much have you learned with a failure. You’ll be surprised to see that you’ve learned so much more than what you knew earlier. You’ll be better equipped to take up the same task next time with a lot more confidence than before!

Just the way you try to learn from each failure, it is equally important to make yourself trained to take the failures lightly. Remember the well known statement, ‘everything has its own time’. There is a bigger power Who knows what is best for you. Till then it may seem to you that things are not working out the way you want. But realize that it is part of His bigger plans to make things better for you.

Let me leave you with this thought: ‘To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven’. Ecclesiastes 3:1.

God bless you!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Love beyond a century!

It was the first time in 33 years I was stepping into an empty room on the North East side of my home. The room belonged to one of the legends in our family, my dearest grandpa, whom we affectionately called Achayan. The majestic teak wood cot that was an ancestral property was lying there strewn with pink oleander flowers. The same cot that was used by Achayan for the most part of his life seemed to be crying in silence. I slowly moved my hand over the wooden railings and I could hear that telling me, “Gone my dear, the man who loved us both will now remain only as a memory”.

The head table was beautifully arranged with a crucifix that came from the church along with two long candles resting on chromium finish stands. Fragrant smoke filled the air from the incense sticks reminding that the body and soul are no longer together. In between all these stood a life-like picture of Achayan wearing his classic pure white shirt adorned with his favourite coloured shoulder towel. The jasmine garland that bordered the photo frame appeared to reflect the fragrance of a life lived to the fullest by a man who shaped the future of multiple generations of the family. Through the black frame of his specs I could see those eyes that have seen every stage of my growth. They seem to tell me, “It is just my body that’s gone; I’m leaving my soul with you forever”!

All his eight children were there, together for one last time to be with their father. It just felt like yesterday when they all came together with their spouses, children and grandchildren to celebrate 100 years of the blessed life of Achayan. They all relived the memory of that moment though it was almost two years back. He was indeed a blessed man to have seen six generations throughout his life and was fortunate to see all his sons and daughters along with his grandchildren and great grandchildren a few days before it was time for his soul to depart this temporary abode. His words towards his final days showed the content of a man who proudly endorsed the verse, ‘I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith’.

30 October 2014, Thursday

The day progressed with the necessary preparations to bid adieu to a man who deserved every bit of a most respectful farewell. You’ll be surprised to know how well planned Achayan was to have even the expenses for this function kept ready and had instructed my dad to take care of everything as time arrives. He was a fiercely independent man and would’ve loved to remain so even after he was gone.

It was post noon when a few of us from the family left to the hospital where the body was preserved in negative temperature. The man-in-charge of the morgue arrived shortly and after asking all of us to stand aside, opened the sealed door with a dramatic gesture. He waited for a few moments before stepping inside and pulled out a stretcher. It was a multi-cubicle cabinet, but my grandpa was the only occupant of that section. As if, forty long years of living a bachelor life after losing his sweetheart wasn’t enough!

We were asked to wait outside and a few minutes later Achayan was all dressed up in the usual attire including his characteristic shoulder towel. The hands that once held me close were now tied together with a small crucifix kept in between them and decorated with a black threaded rosary. A quick prayer followed before he was taken on an ambulance in a procession back home for one last time; the same home he built 64 years ago.

The entire family was waiting. Those steps in front of the house which Achayan had climbed up and down countless number of times saw him being lifted by a bunch of his beloved ones. He was taken into the room on the North East where the cot welcomed him with open arms. It knew that there won’t be another chance to provide the comfort that it always gave this man. Achayan was then adorned with a crown made of white roses. Shortly after that he was taken to the main hall where a mobile coffin was awaiting him extending a frozen welcome with minus thirteen degree Celsius. This was to be his resting place till the next day morning when the actual coffin will extend a much warmer welcome. A wreath of white flowers gave him company in the coffin on which was a small piece of paper with the words, ‘With lot of prayers – Children’.

It was an evening of avalanche of visitors from different walks of life. Priests of various age dropped in to pay respects to a man with whom they were associated with over decades of service as a Trustee of Changanacherry Metropolitan Church as well as a socio-religious figure who was prominent in the same Diocese. Various families and their representations were among the numerous people who came to see Achayan for the final time. Prayers were flowing incessantly, so were the white flowers both proclaiming to the world the purity of a life well lived spanning a hundred years and more.

...And there was evening and there was morning, it was soon the final day in the life of Chacko Joseph Mukkadan to be physically present among the people whom he loved and who loved him.

31 October 2014, Friday

It was now 101 years, 5 months and 3 days since the world had enjoyed the esteemed presence of Achayan, living or otherwise. As it is with everything mortal it was time for him to rejoin his Creator which he did four days back, to be precise, on the early morning hours of 27 October 2014. Nevertheless the physical remains need to get the required attention through the prayers of fellow beings and loved ones.

Early in the morning itself the coffin that will be Achayan’s resting place below a six feet deep earth was ready with jasmine garlands. He was soon shifted to this new box which is probably the only thing that fits the age-old proverb ‘The buyer doesn’t need it and the user doesn’t know it’. The courtyard next to the house was dressed up in pure white doing away with the traditional black laced design. The coffin was placed amidst an array of white roses. Candles and incense were burning throughout.

Soon the place started getting filled with scores of people flocking in to say a final goodbye to the grandfather of the town. Seven months into his 102nd year on this planet, Achayan was the oldest man in the town. The air was filled with prayers for the departed soul which was meant to give an easier access to the gates of heaven. A few of the priests and a couple of selected guests spoke about Achayan in between. They all reiterated how he led a good life, a real role model for current and future generations.

The final set of prayers at home started sharp at 10:00. The songs that were played would’ve melted even the hardest of the hearts. There was a quick rush of last minute farewell. People were still flowing in and so were the tears from dear ones. Everyone knew one thing for certain. This is not just another moment. Instead, one in perhaps a millennium, when a blessed soul as this, leaves behind a legacy that is unparallel in the society. Those were the final moments to be with this amazing personality who once blessed all of us with his life.

The prayers and songs have reached a pinnacle when the coffin was lifted to be taken to a van that was waiting outside. That was the last time Achayan was to see his home. The home where he lived and raised his children; the home where he built his dreams and taught his children to follow theirs; the home where he decided against all odds to give the best possible education to all his children; the home where all his children became graduates and more, a rare feat 40 years back; a home where he spent quality time with his family and told them how important it is to maintain ones character, health and wealth in that order; the home that saw him lead a very healthy lifestyle in all respects; the home that was this and many more to him. I’m quite sure he wouldn’t have liked to say goodbye but the angel of death gave him no choice. Nevertheless it remains a fact that he was one contented man who performed all his duties well on time and left nothing incomplete. He was all set to take the journey of his eternal life and that’s what he just began.

The van with the coffin carrying Achayan headed towards the church in a procession with near and dear ones for their last walk along with him. The church compound was quite crowded with people coming in to pay their last respects. This was the same church where Achayan spent a considerable amount of his life as a Parish Trustee as well as advisor to various initiatives of the church. The coffin was taken through the same courtyard where he walked with his open umbrella. Interestingly someone decided to hold an umbrella open, protecting him from the sun during his last few moments in this world.

The coffin was placed in the cemetery church where Archbishop Mar Joseph Powathil led the prayers. At the end of these prayers, Achayan was taken outside the church to the centre of the cemetery where the coffin was placed on a stand and the last bunch of prayers began. It was then time for the most difficult of the rituals for the family. The time to bid adieu to your most beloved with a parting kiss! The last of your closest moments with him ever, the moment that will be etched in your minds till the time memories last in you.

The line was long to give a parting kiss. Time went by and the queue became lean. The last person also kissed him goodbye. Achayan’s hands were untied and kept sideways. Before the coffin was sealed, there was one person who wanted to say bye to Achayan again. He stepped forward, closer to the coffin, leaned towards Achayan’s forehead and gave him a final kiss. He was holding a black rosary with him and asked me to keep the rosary inside the coffin with Achayan. I obliged the wish that came from the last of the sibling alive of my dearest Achayan, Antony J Muckaden, whom we all affectionately call Kochapappan!

The coffin’s lid was brought. I stepped in quickly and gave a last kiss on Achayan’s forehead, the same place where I’ve kissed him umpteen times before. I knew this was the end of a beautiful relationship we shared. He lived almost seventy years more than me in this world, but left me enough to carry on for a thousand years ahead! The coffin lid found its place and soon was lowered to the six feet deep trench awaiting him. People showered the coffin with frankincense and in a matter of time the coffin was covered in red soil. Achayan lived his life and fulfilled the verse, ‘For you are dust, And to dust you shall return’.

I knew my Achayan was a legend. So did Mother Nature who held her tears till everything got over. We reached home and except for the closest ones who stayed back home, rest of the folks left. I felt the Angel of Peace flying around filling the huge vacuum that was left behind by Achayan.

That was the moment when emotions overwhelmed Mother Nature. Doors of heavens opened. Showers of blessing started kissing the earth. A fitting tribute to a man who walked this soil and proved that you could live and die as a noble man…

My dearest Achaya, may you enjoy eternal happiness that you very well deserve!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Past You Lost

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Oct 2014

Have you ever asked yourself these questions, “Wish I didn’t waste time over that silly argument!” or “Wish we had used that time better!” This is a late realization many of us have when we look back at the timeline of our life. The situation is especially true with married couples after a few years into their marriage. Every couple goes through certain amount of disagreement as they get to know each other better. What we do not realize then,is how pointless these disagreements are though a few would argue that these are part of the evolution as a couple.

The fact remains that the time we wasted with such disagreements, muted days and continuous fights are all part of the past that we lost. Those days will never come back and there is no merit in asking those initial questions since there is nothing you can do about it now. What is important is that you see how you would love to shape up your future and learn to avoid the wastage of time today.

We all go through our cycle of changes right from the moment we say “I do”. The single status gives way to being married and individual decisions are no longer the way forward. Two brains which used to have different styles of thinking are expected to start thinking together for a common objective. It is obvious to have differences in the way these brains work resulting in natural friction before the decisions are reached in a smooth manner.

These indifferences are quite usual and to reach a quick agreement over them is not the most normal thing to happen. This is bound to result in certain amount of time lost in these arguments and the likes of such disagreements. Couples being different have their own different ways of dealing with such situations. A few may have days of silence between them whereas a few others live a subdued life till they reach the moment of realization. Yet another reaction could be to have prolonged fights over the same topic. All these have one thing in common.Our precious time today is lost in all these actions.

When a couple lives in disagreement they forget about the most important investment they were supposed to do. Investing in the time today, for a better tomorrow! All the time that is lived in the days of conflict is an investment opportunity that is lost which you’ll never get back. There is absolutely no point in realizing this fact in future and brooding over that lost opportunity. What is clearly better is to ensure that you utilize the time properly so that you will not end up thinking you have lost your days in the past. 

Let this realization come to you quite early so that you remember this during every cycle in your life. If you’ve already lost some of your past you could at least start thinking now so as to save your future losses. May the good God bless you with the providence required to identify those moments that may possibly lead to a lost past. May you be gifted with the competence to overcome these difficulties for a better future!

A prayer that will certainly help you achieve this is The Serenity Prayer. Here it is again to help you achieve this. May God bless you!

The Serenity Prayer
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,

And the wisdom to know the difference.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Fox & Hen

There once lived a fox and a hen. They were naturally not best of the friends. Once the hen was coming back after a stroll and was extremely hungry. Fox and his family lived on the way to her home which was still quite far. It was the only house in the vicinity whom the hen could ask for food. Hunger overtook the emotion of fear and the hen was brave enough to ask fox to save her life by giving some food. The fox though was surprised initially, offered her food and even packed some for her to have on the way back home. The hen was really happy and shouted to the world the good deed of the fox. By the time she reached back home, the word got spread. The hen was taken aback to see a company of enraged seniors back home who looked thoroughly annoyed. They were so irritated that they demanded an explanation from the hen for having the food at the house of the fox, all the while knowing very well that without that food she would’ve been dead by now. The verdict soon followed. The hen was the official spokesperson for the family. She was to relinquish that title followed by a promise that she’ll rather die than having food from an enemy and praise him for the act of kindness.


Moral of the story: Never praise your enemy even if he did a good deed, especially in certain walks of life! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Butterfly Teacher

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Sep 2014

A few weeks back I was sitting at one of the local restaurants awaiting my take away order to be ready. While sipping the tea ordered in between, I noticed an interesting paper lying on the table. It had a picture of a butterfly with numerous paths traced through its body and had a statement on top which said ‘Find Way Out’. 

Reminded me of the good old childhood when numerous such way finding puzzles were part of children’s magazines and was indeed a pleasure to solve each of them. It did not take much time for me to take out my pen and start tracing the path to find my way out of the maze. Needless to say I lost my way in between and at times the path took me to a dead end too. After a few attempts I was quite happy to have found my way out of the seemingly impossible task. I solved the puzzle and breathed an air of happiness. As if celebrating my success the hotel guys delivered my take away parcel at that moment of joy!

I drove back home with the parcel. That’s when I realized that the butterfly was also flying with me making me think about what just happened. She made me look back at my life which many a times is more like the puzzle that I now solved. We all try to find our way out of many such puzzles in life. Every day we face tasks that seem to be difficult. The challenge the butterfly keeps in front of us is to attempt finding a solution for these tasks. The secret lies in trying and once you are in the maze you need to find a way out.

Just like the paths that confused me in the puzzle, most of the challenges pose some sort of confusion. It is indeed a test to find the right way forward. You might suddenly hit a road block while you thought you were going ahead in the right path. The dead end does not mean it is the end of the world. What is important is to remember that a dead end also has a way to it. The way back. It is always a good thing to go back and learn from your own mistakes. Find the place where you took a wrong turn and correct your path from there. 

The butterfly tells me again that it is quite important not to lose hope if you don’t find the way out in the first attempt. The mantra is to keep trying till you find the right way. Guess what is the easiest thing to do when things go wrong? Feel disappointed and let go the challenge. That’s what everyone with a weak heart does in this world. It takes a bit of courage to say, there could be other paths that could help you to find your way out. 

There was another critical lesson the butterfly taught me. She said, many of us make a common mistake while treading the paths in our life. We all take the way forward and some of us are strong enough not to lose hope even if the path leads to a dead end. But a lot us do not look far ahead to make sure if the track we are on is really the right one. This piece of lesson is equally important as the earlier ones since this helps us to have a view of our life. 

Imagine constructing a house without drawing a plan. How do you think the house will end up finally? That’s why we invest in a good engineer to create a blue print and finalize the plan with the estimated cost before even starting the construction. Whatever changes that is required will be made throughout the project and finally we see an end result which goes well with the plan. How many of us apply this thought in our lives? How many of us draw plans for our lives? Do you invest time in doing this so that your path ahead is clear for you to proceed? 

I reached home along with these most valuable lessons the little butterfly taught me. Before saying goodbye to me she reminded me again of the three key things to be kept in mind. 

- There are challenges all around us. When you decide to face them, you have won half the battle.  

- Many a times you’ll hit a dead end. Remember to go back and learn from your mistakes to correct the path. 

- It is equally important to have a plan by looking ahead and make sure that the path you are on is indeed the correct one. 

I asked the butterfly what her name is. She smiled at me and before taking off she came close to my ears and whispered, ‘Gabriel’. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Fight to Love!

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Aug 2014

I remember a time when I was getting really bored being a bachelor. One of the reasons was the fact that most of my bachelor friends had joined the bandwagon of family life. Obviously their priorities got changed with respect to the time they spent with friends. I still had a very close friend-couple with whom I used to spend quite a lot of time together. Guess they had enough of me being a killjoy in their life that they decided to migrate to the UK. That was the last nail in the coffin.

Expectations and dreams were sky high about my life partner. I pictured a lovely life with little bit of indifferences and lots of love. Find of course I did, a perfect partner and we both said ‘I do’ after knowing ‘quite well’ in three months. At least that’s what I thought!

Step into the world of marriage, the screenplay gets thoroughly rewritten. How much ever said and done, I strongly believe that two people will truly get to know only when they start sharing the same roof above their heads. It is more like trying to merge two independent rivers together one fine day and expect them to flow in unison as if nothing has changed in their lives. It doesn’t happen that way. The rivers will have their own nature; one could have flown peacefully all its life whereas the other must’ve had very strong currents. Even if this isn’t the case there still is the difference that both the rivers had taken two different paths before they were merged. The fact remains that you are trying to merge two different streams into one.

We had fights, we still do. Looking back to the initial days of merging our streams of life, we see how trivial some of them were! We can’t even believe today that we really fought for some of those minute little things which look really silly now. We now realize one big truth. Yes, we had our indifferences but they were not based on proving the other wrong. It is not a wrestling match were the opponent needs to be punched and kicked till the time one of them gives up and a third party says you win. This is life for God’s sake. You are not in a game with your loved one as your opponent. You are in the same team. Realize it!

If anyone ever tells you that they never had any fights in their life, I can only assume two things. They are either still flowing as two rivers or they are simply lying. The moment you decide to love each other you’ll naturally learn more about each other. Knowing more is to know the good and bad about each other. Some of them will be naturally appreciated and others may raise the eye brows since such knowledge may not really be the same as what you would’ve expected. This is perfectly fine. It is the most logical thing to happen in your lives since humans are logical beings.

Do not worry about your differences and the fights you may have about them. You are together as a couple yet you are two different people. It is not something wrong since you are made like that by the Supreme Being who designed you like this. The challenge you have in your life, especially in the initial days is like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle. It is quite difficult the very first time when you try to put the pieces together. It’ll make it even more difficult if two people try to solve the puzzle individually. Share your thoughts and you’ll see the puzzle taking shape till the time a smile appears on your face with the final picture revealed. The next time you play the same puzzle, it is much easier. Life’s just like that.


Fight. It is quite normal, but do remember one thing. Fight to love and not the other way round. God bless you! 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Being a child

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - July 2014

I’ve been noticing one thing off late about the conversation with folks back home. Every phone call is laced with adjectives such as “tough days, lot of work, hectic” etc. I was wondering what exactly is happening in my life that things are becoming so complex. That’s when my two year old came up with a ‘major’ problem he is facing with his new toy truck. The truck has a major section and an attached trailer as well. The part where trailer is attached came off and he was really worried his truck got damaged. I took a look at it and applied some glue and the trailer was working perfectly fine. I was quite surprised to see the amount of happiness on his face. That made me ask the question, when was the last time I was so happy on such small things?
 
Probably it is not a small thing for my little one; nevertheless the fact is that he found happiness in every little such thing that we never found him unhappy over a prolonged period of time. This is quite unlike most of us who are worried about something or other all the while.
It may sound a bit similar, though there is a subtle difference between being happy about small things in life Vs quickly recovering from your sadness. One of the biggest lessons my son taught me is not just how to be happy about the small things in life. He also showed me how to forget completely about the sadness you felt till a moment ago and enjoy the happiness you now possess.
Another major trait that you lose while you grow from being a child to an adult is your ability to have zero ego. Have you ever noticed a baby or a child? How much ever you do something which they dislike, it takes minimum or even little time before they come back to you with another question or request. They are not tuned to think that this is the same person who did something they didn’t appreciate a little while ago. For them it was a moment in the past and past stays in the past. They live in the present. A huge lesson to be learned from these tiny wonders!
It is no wonder why most adults in this world love kids. Babies or kids predominantly have one agenda in life. They just know to love forever and most importantly express the love too. You don’t see them fretting over insignificant nothings and losing their day that should be filled with happiness. It is such a pleasure to watch a little one running across to you to give a hug at the end of a very tiring day. All the worries about that day seem to disappear into the thin air. That’s the magic of being a child!
Most likely one of the key factors that differentiate a child from an adult is the gift to approach everything in a simple manner. Kids really do not know how to complicate things. They only know and are interested to see the way things are. It makes life much easier to live. The moment we try to bring in unwarranted complexities to simpler aspects in life, we feel being weighed down by difficulties in life. Guess the mantra is to learn to look at life around you in a simple manner. Do not complicate what can remain simple.
Guess I realize now why one Man had said more than two thousand years back why it is important to be like a child. At least this should remind us that life was much happier being a child and there were reasons why it was so. Hence while you know you can’t become one anymore it is quite important for you to realize why you should learn from one.
That surely must have been one of the thoughts that crossed the mind of Wordsworth when he wrote, ‘The child is father of the man’. Be like a child and bring back the happiness in your life!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Life cycle of dreams

We all have dreams and we try to achieve them. We struggle a lot in pursuing these dreams before we finally achieve it. The most logical thing to do is to live your dream once you achieve them.
 
Just like every other life, there needs to have an end date for living your dream. The moment you try to hang on to your dream it will start weighing you down mentally and later physically. We’re all designed to dream perpetually.
 
So when you feel disappointed with something, ask yourself the question. Am I nearing the expiry date of my dream? Is it worth hanging on? Else remind yourself to dream again.
 
Dream-Pursue-Achieve-Live-Kill-Dream again!

Monday, June 2, 2014

House Arrest!

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - June 2014
 
Have you noticed the typical families around us? There is a family one where you see both husband and wife working with a house assistant to take care of the maintenance of the house as well as the kids, if they are too small. There is a family two where only the husband works and wife takes care of the house and the kids; they may have a house assistant as well. There could also be a family three where the wife works and the husband takes care of the home and the kids, though this is quite a rare sight in our social environment.
The thoughts this time are more focused on the family two. While I’m aware of the risks of generalization I can’t help but think about the commonalities between the wife in such a family and Aung San Suu Kyi, the famous politician from Burma.
Let us look at the life in a day of the former. The wife generally gets involved right from the morning in preparing the breakfast for the family, followed by dropping the kids at school at times, return home where a heap of work awaits her to be done throughout the day, ensure that the home remains tidy and beautiful all the while taking care of these chores, prepare for the return of her husband from work and kids from school, get things ready for the dinner, take care of whatever that is required for the next day before she hits the bed.
The above actions do not stop with a day. This is pretty much the same for all the working days when her husband has to go to office and kids to school. The only exception, if she is lucky, could be the day off in a week where there could be a change in roles when her husband decides to help her with some of the chores. She might be luckier if the family decides to go out to have some good time together.
While I agree that the above may not be the case in every home, I’ve a question to all the husbands who belong to the family two. Ask yourself if this routine applies to your wife. If not, you must be appreciated for bringing some change to this monotonous rigor in her life. She may never ask for a change, but know for a fact that she’s no better than Ms Suu Kyi who was under house arrest for a long 15 years.
Ask yourself if you’ve sentenced your wife similarly without you even knowing that. If so, here are a few things you could consider improving this situation. The very first thing is to accept that such a situation exists. This can be followed by identifying what best could be done considering the fact that every family is different.
The best thing to do to a person who lives a monotonous life is to bring variety to their life. Be aware that interesting things not only happen to you, while you are away from your family. Have an interest to know more about their time away from you. While knowing more about her day, make sure that you talk to her about your day as well.  Go out for a walk, even if it is only for ten minutes daily it’ll make a difference. Engage yourself in games; there is no better way than to refresh your brain. Play with your kids along with your wife. Your kids need to feel your love and not just their mother’s. There are plenty of other things that can be done. I’ll leave that to your imagination.
I’ve a question for the wife from this family two. You are created with a divine purpose of shaping up the present to be future ready. It is quite a critical task that you have in hand. There is no second opinion about how magnanimous an effort is that. Having said that, it may be worthwhile asking yourself the question that is there anything in addition to this pivotal task that you could achieve?
Even if you are not able to apply your education there are many a things you could still learn. Learning opportunities are plenty around you. All what you need to do is, spot them. Search within yourself the long lost interests. The hobbies you once had which got abandoned half way through your family life. Resurrect them. Reskill yourself. Learn something new. A new language, a musical instrument, a new hobby perhaps; options are plenty where you could make your life more meaningful. Your sweet heart need to realize that he should be extending an absolute and unconditional support to you to make this a reality.
Always remind yourself that we all are given this wonderful gift of life only once. You do not even have the slightest of the clue how long will this last. Make use of this gift, every minute of it. Learn to live your life to the fullest.
‘Dio vi benedica’ as the Italians say ‘God bless you’!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Season to Reason

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial May 2014
 
God! Why does this happen to us?! What have we done wrong to be treated like this?! Of all the people around, why is that it is only us who suffer?!
 
Sounds familiar? Have you ever asked yourself these questions? Before trying to find an answer for this, let me take you to the life of Mr.& Mrs. Alex. Just like you see in most of the middle class families with an employed couple, they lived their life from a fixed source of income. Family budgets were usually planned with an amount set aside as savings for future. Any unanticipated expense directly impacted their budget. They lived their life thus, strongly backed by their belief in God with regular visits to church and following the advices from the leaders thereof. 
Life was thus going on when something quite unpleasant happened which derailed a lot of plans Alex and wife had. The apartment in the metro city they stayed increased the rents exponentially. The rental increase was beyond their capability and they had no other option but to find a less expensive accommodation. The couple had recently become parents of a lovely baby girl and the little one had not even turned one. They were quite new to the city as well and a move will definitely burn a hole on their future plans. On top of all the expenses related to shifting,matters were more difficult with the baby being quite small.
Needless to say both Alex and wife were totally disappointed to have something like this happening to them. To them it was a moment when their caring Lord seems to have deserted them. Why on earth otherwise will this have to happen when they recently shifted to this city and had a baby as well? Why is God turning His eyes from them? They became quite rebellious in their thoughts and with each passing day the gap widened between the Creator and them.
Things became even worse with the new apartment offering lesser facilities. Everything appeared to be going wrong with this shift. They longed for their previous apartment where life was much better. Complaints rained down to create a tsunami of negative thoughts in their minds. Life took a very bad U turn with visits to church literally non-existent and all they did was to constantly complain about this unwelcome change in the life.
A few months went by; Alex and his wife became indifferent to their new life. It started raining one day and the days that followed saw one of the most torrential rains the city ever had in its history. One of these days, Alex woke up and fetched the newspaper as usual. He was taking a look at the front page news when his wife got him a cup of tea. She saw his face turning pale and watched with horror as his expression turned to the most dreadful one she had ever seen in their life. He showed her the paper and her eyes were greeted by the terrifying news about their old apartment.Standing like a haunted house, one third of the building was missing with the heavy rains that lashed the city taking down with it a part of the building including the side of the apartment where they stayed. The further details in the news said thirty people were killed including two babies; both were less than a year old!
Many times we feel things are going wrong in our lives. What we forget is the bigger truth that there is someone up there who has a better view on your lives. He knows what is best for you! Next time when you are faced with a difficult situation remember this famous quote, “Someday everything will all make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason”! Learn to season yourself to that thinking. God bless you!

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Mother’s Plight

He was lying down on his mom’s lap after a sumptuous lunch. It was one of those rare days off late when he got to spend some time with her. Last few days have been quite busy when he was away with a bunch of his friends visiting the suburbs of the holy city. He knew his mom will be annoyed for totally ignoring her. Though his other siblings were around he knew he had a special place in her heart. After all she suffered quite a lot while she was pregnant with him and even afterwards.
 
Her fragile long fingers found in roads into his dense locks of hair. He loved it when she pampered him with this beautiful experience of motherly affection. She could see him absorbed in bliss which reflected in his lovely face. Memories came back to her about the struggle she and her husband had to go through on the day when he was born. They had to manage with whatever facilities that were available. The long walk, the limited resources, a few helping hands from the local folks, everything seems to have happened long back. On hindsight everything was worth it.
While her thoughts drifted away she could see in his eyes that something had been bothering him. It was quite natural for her to enquire. His reply was not a total surprise for her though it stirred some unpleasant thoughts in her mind. “How long mom, do I get to experience this love of yours? You always wanted me to live for others. I never got to spend enough time with you at least after I grew up. I lived for them, the people. You always had this argument that they needed me more and that’s what I did. But I guess it is time.”
 
She knew what was coming next and stopped him. The words of the old man she met at the church came back to her. After her meeting with him there was hardly a night without that terrible dream. She saw her bleeding heart; the same sword was again cutting through her. She could handle this no longer.
 
Experience told her not to ask but the emotion of being a mom overruled that. She couldn’t resist but ask him. “Isn’t there anything you could do?” He looked up at her and gave that smile which had always melted her heart. She knew that smile and its meaning. He told her, “You know very well than me. Didn’t Gabriel tell you all this long back? So why this question now?”
 
She knew it and a silence engulfed them.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Fox Story

One morning, towards the fag end of my breakfast, I was trying my best to get a raisin stuck on the bottom of my breakfast flask in which I get my oats enriched with dry fruits.Sitting in my office cabin, I must have painted a very interested picture for anyone who passed by. Peering into the flask and holding it high I was hitting the bottom of the container quite hard.
The executive secretary to the Senior Vice President of one of the divisions I work with happened to walk past my cabin at that auspicious moment. She was heading for an important meeting but guess couldn’t help but look at me with curiosity while stopping momentarily at my desk. The next thing I heard was her exclaiming, “There is nothing in it and stop hitting the flask!”
How much more embarrassing could it get. Nevertheless being a lesser fox I continued with my attempt to claim the last one standing or rather stuck on the bottom of that cylindrical steel object. The raisin, a white one that too, seemed to be determined to avoid my taste buds. It was clinging to its precious life and had no plans ever to come down from that position.
I hit harder, circled the flask and tried all possible coaxing to make the raisin release its clutches. I even tried smearing it with whatever little of the liquid that remained in the flask. A few further hard blows and the lesser immortal being had no other option but to succumb to its fate.
Off it came right into the wagging tongue that awaited this elusive little piece of exotic dry fruit belonging to the family of grapes. The teeth, the tongue and the taste buds started their work quite fast and soon the little raisin was heading towards the world of primary storage of food in a human body.
The raisin was meant to pay for all the efforts and the embarrassment I had to go through. As destiny would have it and was meant to be as ironic as it could get, this last little piece of dried grapes for which I tried really hard and finally managed to get, turned out to be a really sour one!
For the first-time I felt a bit of respect to that legendary fox.  

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Luke 6:37 isn’t a joke!

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Mar 2014

We all have heard about Newton getting the idea of gravity with an apple hitting his head. I’m pretty sure this was not the case when Jesus made this famous statement which is captured by Luke which states, “Do not judge and you will not be judged”. He knew how important this was then and how much more it will be even after 2000 plus years. If it was Jesus Himself who addressed a crowd during a wedding ceremony this will definitely be one of His key talking points.
 
In the most critical moment of the solemn ceremony of wedding, the bride and groom with utmost seriousness recite their wedding vows. They try to understand that and implement the meaning of it together in their life ahead. At times they forget some of these vows and that’s when we see conflicts in our families. Quite often what is even more serious is the fact that the people who stand around the bride and groom do not realize they too have an important role to play in the couple’s life by not judging either of them.
 
It is quite natural for people to have expectations. We see that all around us right from our childhood. Be it the parents, siblings, religious leaders, managers or peer group, expectations have become a part of our life and there are times we struggle to meet them. Some of these expectations are realistic, but others are not. When the expectations are not met there are various levels of disappointments that you’ll face. The people who set them may react in a strong fashion. You being the victim may get affected badly with the reaction.
You see such incidents happening around you in your families as well. More often it is the bride who takes the brunt of these judgments than the groom. In the unfortunate incident of an expectation not met due to the preset standards of a family, people get disappointed quite quickly. They conveniently take these disappointments as an opportunity to judge the other. They are quick to label them and place them in a category that seems to be etched for life. The one who is judged too quickly find this quite unfair but may not be in a position to correct the other and accept it as a way of life.
 
The situation becomes even worse when the new couple start with their family visits to the near and dear ones. Over there they are welcomed with a smile which most often is accompanied by pairs of eyes which start watching every move of the new member to the family. These relatives give themselves the unofficial position of judging the match that was made in heaven. Things get further complicated with the seemingly innocent comments they pass about the new pair based on the judgments they arrive at. What they don’t realize quite often is the impact these comments have on the young couple who is just settling into their life.
 
Imagine you end up at a house in China where they have prepared a delicious dinner for you. Since you are a very special visitor from India they have served you one of their delicacies, an exotic dish made from snakes! You are one who will run, when someone even mentions about a reptile. You’ll thoroughly disappoint your host if you don’t join them for the dinner. What will be your reaction if your host family judges you as anti-Chinese? You know for a fact that it is not your mistake, yet you’ll be blamed for not partaking in the family’s tradition.
 
Now bring the same situation to a bride in her new family. You, being her new set of relatives, are the ‘host’ for her. For all practical purpose you are total strangers in the initial few days of life. If you approach her with all the expectations of the family, how different are you from the Chinese host who served the snake dish to you?
 
Let us keep our minds open and welcome the new ones in our families without any prejudice. Be patient and try to learn about them before even setting any expectation. Remember you have seen your son/daughter grow and that’s why you expect from them. This is not the case with their better halves. You start seeing them only when they join your family. So learn not to be judgmental. 
May God help you kill the judge within you!

Multi-million lottery!

Article for Bethlehem Matrimonial - Nov 2017 “Getting a good partner is like winning a lottery. Ensure that you pray really hard to win...