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Monday, 30 June 2014

George Washington Carver

My dear George Washington Carver,
You are my inspiration. But why? You were born as a slave. Those were the days when dealing in slaves was a lucrative business. As a result slaves were kidnapped and sold again. Your mother too was kidnapped while you were still a toddler. You never met your mother again. Your mother's white master raised you. You even inherited your name from them. You had speech difficulties. You were given an opportunity of learning because you were too weak for the manual work which the racist expected black like you to do. You had inborn love for nature. You worked hard. You were gardener, domestic help, cook, washer-man. But you were never given an opportunity to be a normal child who could play and sleep by his mother's bosom when tired. You did many such menial tasks, but never drifted from your goal to learn and to serve the community. You made an abandoned stable your home. There were many difficulties. You were denied the very right to live. Still you worked hard. On completion of your education it would have been very easy for you to get a well paying job. But what did you do? You committed yourself to conservation of natural resources. You are one of the earliest proponents of what has now become a worldwide movement of people committed to the respectful use of natural resources. You could have added fortune to fame but caring for neither, you found happiness and honour in being helpful to the world. From where you learnt the skill to remain positive when there was no any ray of hope around? How inspite of all the injustice, that too for no fault of yourself, you maintained the equanimity and served others? You were a great man. But you too were human. If you could conquer the Mount Everest of the difficulties, why can't we face the day to day problems of our luxurious lives? Thank you Mr. Carver for meeting me years after your death through your biographies. You are a light house for all of us who feel defeated with just a few incisive strokes of life.
With all the love and respects.

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Sunday, 29 June 2014

Wisdom with a cup of tea

I was fuming. I got out of the rickshaw paid the exact change and stood in the serpentine queue at the railway station. “How can he do this to me?” was the question that surfaced my mind time and again. Hari, my brother had point blankly told me that he would not share our parents property with me.
 I was now on a voyage to our childhood.  I recollected how much I loved Hari.   I tended to him. I dressed him up, even shared my share of sweets with him. Often I sacrificed my happiness for the sake of my little brother.  And what was the fruit of all my labour –  I was refused my legitimate share in my parents property.
 My father had built a house, his dream bungalow, after retirement. My mother had left behind a lot of jewellery and bank deposits. Even if Hari had shared one fourth of the property with me, most of my miseries would have been resolved. But Hari, my younger brother, had said all my ties with my parents home were severed the day I left for the city in search of greener pastures. “How could he say that? Does going to another city for job severe all ties with parents, with the womb which gave me  birth, with the blood that circulated in my veins? I was determined to drag my brother to Court of law, to assert and enforce my right.
My reverie was broken as the ticket booking Clerk yelled “Yes ticket…” with an expressionless baritone. I pushed a hundred rupee note from the small window and asked for “One Nasik”
Carefully placing the remainder money and the ticket in my pocket I entered the railway station. The train had already arrived and Pune being the starting point, there was no dearth of seats.  I got the window seat. The train departed at the scheduled time. Cool breeze was coming from the window. However, it utterly failed to cool down my temper. My head had become heavy. It  turned to the shouts of “Chai…..”.   “Ek chai” I placed the order and the Chaiwallah promptly handed over a plastic cup of hot piping tea. I  placed the cup on the little space in the window and started to look for change in my pocket. Finally my hand felt something like a five rupee coin. I handed it over to the tea vendor.  When I was about to touch the cup, that the soothing breeze now turned into a strong wind blew away my cup with it. The tea vendor gave me another cup. I took out  a ten rupee note to pay him. “Jaane do Sir. Chaar saal se dhanda kar raha hoo. Ek chai se main bangle nahi banoonga.” He said as he refused to accept the money. I was stunned.  Indeed stronger are the forces that determine the destinies of men, I realised. I had a sip of tea while I dropped the idea of filing legal proceedings against Hari. I pay my tribute to this unknown man who changed my heart.
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Saturday, 28 June 2014


Whom you call an inspiration? A person who makes you more efficient, more successful, more rich and stretches you to your limits? The person about whom I am going to talk today has neither inspired me to become more successful nor has he motivated me to work harder. He has taught me to do nothing and just sit silently. Still he is a great source of inspiration for me. In today's age every one will tell you how to work faster and better. That will result in increased levels of stress and anxiety, which in turn cause physical and mental problems. But there are very few who will ask you to slow down. I had seen him many times on the cover of his iconic book Autobiography of a Yogi. The best seller is easily available at all the railway book stalls. I had seen it at the railway stations but it still never arouse any curiosity in my mind. Thereafter one of my friends wrote great things about the book on his blog. That made me to purchase the book. I was travelling to Bangalore from Mumbai. I carried the book authored by Yogananda with me as a time pass in the long journey. The book was very heavy and boring. I met a friend in Mumbai. I gifted her the book and went to see the Bangalore palace. I watched all the belongings of the Maharaja in awe. At the exit one face from the wall stared at me point blank. His eyes pierced into my heart. It was Yogananda's photo with the Maharaja of Mysore. I wondered if it was a message. I returned to Mumbai. But Yogananda had occupied my heart. I brought the book again. I even brought other books authored by him. To my great surprise he was so different from other sages. He had a scientific outlook towards the things. Westerners do not accept anything until it is backed by scientific evidence. Yoganada even turned these sceptic western minds to eastern spirituality by passing the high tests of science. He even convinced my rational mind by appealing to my reason.  He brought regularity into my meditations. He turned me calmer. I can feel his presence around me all the time. He inspires me to slow down, smell the lillies, observe the blue sky and listen to the songs of the birds. While running to achieve lofty ambitions, we are losing our contact with ourselves. Yogananda kindled the spark in me that reconnected me with the real myself. 
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Monday, 23 June 2014

Happiest moment of my life

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I was browsing through my old slam book. One of the categories in it was titled as “The happiest moment of my life.” For some getting a distinction in the examination had brought the greatest happiness. For some it was the purchase of their first bike or moving into their new home. Someone special had brought the happiest moment in the lives of some. For many the happiest moment in their lives was yet to come.
I pondered over my life and found it was brimming with snippets of happiness. But I love one of them the most. I was in college then. I had to travel by bus to reach my college. Bus no. 203 had a stop near my home. But it was infrequent. Officially there was a bus at the interval of every one hour. However one single bus plied to and fro on the route. As a result if one trip was late, the entire schedule of the bus would go haywire.
Many a times I waited for the bus and it never came or I learnt that it was late. I had to walk two kilometers to get the other bus viz. bus no. 8 from the main bus stand.
Back then we had passes which were manually punched by the bus conductor.  Thus you could travel to and from only once in a day. One day after attending all the classes sincerely, I went to the bus stop to return home. Bus no. 8 had arrived and I boarded it.  A bird in hand is better than two in the bush, I said to myself.  The thought of walking two kilometers to reach home crept in. But I consoled myself by saying that it was better than waiting for indefinite time for bus no. 203.  As the conductor came near me, I gave him my pass to punch. He saw the route mentioned in the bus and told me that bus no. 203 was just behind our bus. He returned my pass unpunched. I got down from the bus at the next stop and boarded bus no. 203.  I was very happy. Neither had the conductor gifted me something precious nor was he the special person in my life. But the little bit of information he shared was smacked with care and love. This was enough to elate me. If all of us become like him we will fill this earth with happiness up to its brim.

The Seed

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I believe people inspire you even by their subtle acts. As a school going boy I was walking on the road. An elderly man was quietly standing by the side of the road. I went to ask him if he needed any help. He replied in the affirmative and asked me if I had any water. I removed the water bottle from my schoolbag. It was hot outside. The sun was scorching heat. I thought the old man must be thirsty. He took my bottle. He opened it and took some water in the cap of the bottle. He stooped down with the bottle in his one hand and cap into the other. There was a tiny bird on the side of the road. It was a baby which had fallen from its nest. The old man was caring for the bird so that no one would trample upon it and cats and dogs would not harm it. The bird squealed exposing its tender red mouth. The old man tried to put some water into its beak. The bird was happy to have the water. “It feels that his mother is around to feed him,” said the old man.
“Can I carry it to my house?” I asked the old man.
“Yes for sure. But remember it is not a toy with which you can play for some time and throw away. You will have to take care of the bird like your own baby. Do you promise to do that?”
“Yes. I promise.”
After I promised him, he placed the tiny bird in my little palms. I carried the bird to my home and placed it in a box with my old handkerchief as bedding. I fed the bird milk with a dropper. After some time the bird felt better. It walked a few steps. I was happy. I went out to play. After I returned I went to look for my baby. The box was infested with ants. My bird had died. Latter I learned that young ones of birds which fall from the nest seldom survive. Other birds ensure that they do not survive.
However, that old man had installed in me a value to care for other living beings. Many years later I did many research works regarding the protection of the environment. But that little act of the unknown old man had sowed a seed of environment protection in me. Now that it has turned into a huge tree, I express my gratitude towards him. He continues to be a constant source of inspiration for me.