Monday, April 24, 2006

Secret of Success-A full life is not necessarily a long life

Charlie Badenhop is the originator of Seishindo, an Aikido instructor, NLP trainer, and Ericksonian Hypnotherapist. I am sharing with you one of his thoughts from his newsletter, "Pure Heart, Simple Mind"
Do you have the feeling you're fully appreciating your life RIGHT NOW, or are you somehow failing to treasure the richness of all you have in the moment? Living a life of gratitude is a challenge that I think most all of us face.

Three years ago the eight year old daughter of a friend died in a freak accident at school. My friend was devastated and I could not think of any wise words that might console him. As the weeks rolled by my friend slipped into an ever deeper sense of despair, and nothing anyone said seemed to lift his spirit.
After a few months time he went out of town on a business trip, and on the train ride back home he engaged in a conversation with the woman sitting next to him. The woman sat there and nodded her head often as my friend talked about the death of his daughter. He reported to me that he had the sense of talking and talking and talking, until he finally felt like he had nothing more to say.
As my friend came to a natural state of rest, the woman nodded her head one more time as she took a deep breath, and then said the following, "I can very much feel your pain, and I understand that the loss of your child must be devastating. At the same time," she said, "I wonder if your pain would not be lessened if you celebrated the life of your daughter.
"You told me about your daughter's sense of awe the first time you took her to the ocean, and how you carried her in your arms as you waded out into the water. You also spoke about the many times she sat on your lap and told you about the magical adventures she had during the course of her day. Perhaps the sweetest story you shared was how you told your daughter every night how much you loved her as you tucked her into bed.
"I am wondering," the woman said, "What is it that leads you to believe that you and your daughter did not live a glorious fulfilling life together? Is it because she died at eight years old and not at eighty? Certainly it would seem that the quality of one's life is not tied to the length of one's life. I would suggest that you and your daughter did perhaps live a full and complete life together. She just didn't live as long as you had hoped for and expected."
As the train neared the station the woman continued speaking, "I am fifty two years old, and in looking back on my life I don't feel I have shared with anyone, the depth of experience and love you and your daughter had together. On one hand this makes me deeply sad. On the other hand, it helps me to realize that with the time I have left, I can indeed strive to live a complete and fulfilling life. This is the realization that your experience has helped me to understand, and for this wonderful gift I thank you deeply."
The woman smiled as she stood up, preparing to exit the train. "None of us know how long we have to live. We don't seem to have all that much control over the length of our life. The quality of our life on the other hand, we can indeed ensure on a daily basis. It is never too soon to begin to enjoy and fully appreciate the life we do have, right here and now."
To the readers of this article I gently suggest you consider how you want to live your life, in order to ensure that your time on earth is fulfilling and complete.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Inspirational True Life Story - Saraswathi Ramaswami

Last week my friend sent me a link from Rediff. It carried an article about a 106 year old lady, Saraswathi Ramaswami. It was truly inspirational.
I am just sharing with you all the story here. There are lot of things to be learnt from this MOTHER.Please take a few minutes to read this article, even if you find it lenghty. Kudos to Rediff, Shoba Warrier and Sreeram Selvaraj.

Article as narrated by Shoba Warrier.
Burdened with so many preconceived notions about the elderly, I didn't expect a 106-year old lady to walk briskly towards me, speak in a strong voice (that too in five languages), hear very clearly and remember things that happened a century ago. How wrong and foolish I felt after meeting Saraswathy Ramaswamy, freedom fighter and Gandhian.
As I waited for her in the lobby of Vishranthi, an old age home for women, she came rushing towards me with folded hands. Holding my hands close to her cheeks, she said in English, "Thank you for coming, Sir (she calls everyone Sir). I look forward to speaking with you."
Then, sitting in the front yard, under the shade of all kinds of trees, she began to rewind the clock.January 1, 1900
A little girl was born to a young couple in Secunderabad. Distraught on seeing a female first born, the young man's sister ordered the baby to be thrown into the Hussain Sagar. She was promptly wrapped in a silk cloth and thrown into the water.
Fate had other plans for the baby though.
The midwife who delivered her happened to see the bundle floating in the river while she was washing clothes. Horrified, she took the baby back to the young mother, who was sobbing uncontrollably.
The child was named Saraswathy, and the astrologer who read her horoscope said she would live long and become famous!
"God didn't want me to die that easily," Saraswathy Amma laughed loudly. "Death came close several times, but I survived. A couple of years ago, a tree fell on my house and me. But here I am!"
At the age of 7, two major events occurred in her life. She began going to school, and she was married to a 12-year-old boy named Ramaswamy. She stayed with her parents until she completed her Bachelors degree though, travelling across India. "I was sent to my husband's house when I attained puberty at 18. It was the custom."
Joining her husband was an unexpected turning point in her life. The young Ramaswamy was so drawn to Mahatma Gandhi's call for freedom that he chucked his job as an assistant postmaster and decided to devote his life to his country.
"I was not sad when my husband left the job and gave his property to the Congress. I was proud to be part of a big struggle. If not for him, I would have remained in one place and, like all women, would have thought of my own family alone. But my husband made me believe my country is bigger than everything else in life."
When Gandhi came with his wife Kasturba to Nagpur, where Saraswathy then lived, she went with her friends to meet them. "I asked Kasturba what I could do for the country. She asked me if I knew how to use a charkha. I said I didn't. After teaching me, she told me to spread the knowledge to others."
Following Kasturba's instructions, Ramaswamy and his wife packed their bags and moved to the Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. There, Saraswathy taught students to spin and also took tuitions, while her husband organised meetings. Over the next five years, she taught English, Tamil and mathematics to at least 500 children.The Salt Satyagraha and the Dandi March, 1930
Saraswathy and Ramaswamy could not stay put in Pondicherry when Gandhi urged the country to march to Dandi. They went along. "We were separated. I sat there waiting for my husband for a long time, but he didn't come. When I saw a police constable, I asked him to help me find my husband. When he refused, I shouted, 'Mahatma Gandhi ki jai' three times and walked away. He then told me that a lot of people had been arrested and that my husband could have been one of them. Indeed, he was.
After the Dandi March, the couple decided not to go back to South India. Saraswathy also remembers their involvement in the Quit India movement of 1942.
If August 15, 1947 was a day of joy for all of them, January 30, 1948 was a day she still mourns. Not only because Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated, but because she lost her husband and three sons in the riots that followed. Her husband was shot at; her children, crushed to death.
She was in Mysore to give birth to her fourth child. On hearing the news, she rushed to identify the bodies of her loved ones. Shortly thereafter, she lost her daughter to chickenpox. "I lost my family for the sake of my country. I shouldn't be crying," she says. "And yet, the tears rolled down my cheeks constantly. Those were the only times in my life when I cried aloud and accused God of being unfair to me."
She wandered around in Mumbai, Jabalpur and across Maharashtra, went to all government offices asking for a job. Everywhere she went, she was asked about certificates, but she had nothing except the one sari she wore. Those were the darkest days of her life. She was hungry, with no proper clothes and no place to stay. But she was sure about one thing -- she would not go to a Congress office and ask for money.
"My self-respect comes before everything else. I was ready to take tuitions for just Re 1."
She felt hopeful when she met a Christian teacher in Bombay. "He told me, mother, you look as if you come from a good family. Why are you roaming around like this?' I told him, with tears in my eyes, that I wanted a job. I want to teach children and live a respectable life. Taking pity on her, the teacher arranged for her journey to Madurai where he worked, and from there to Pattukottai in Tamil Nadu.
From 1949 to 2004, she made Pattukottai her home, teaching children until she reached the age of 104. She was sure about one thing though: she would never go to the government for pension or any such concessions. That was like begging for her.
Every year, on August 15, she would hoist the national flag and distribute sweets.
When her health deteriorated, and there was nobody to take care of her, the people of Pattukottai brought her to Vishranthi. "I resisted coming here because Pattukottai was my home since 1950! After coming here a year and a half ago, I was sad because I had nothing to do. But then, Madam (Savithri Vaithi who runs Vishranthi) told me to be happy. Now, I am."
It was only after coming here that her contribution towards making India independent was made known to the outside world.
"I love talking to people like you about what we went through. I spoke on television and on the radio. The only problem I face now is I can't sing loudly."
Saraswathy's day is never complete without her going through various newspapers. "I can't live without knowing what's happening in my country. I can only read about it now. The days of being part of the happenings are over for me."
But what she reads these days doesn't make her happy at all. What shocked her most was politicians distributing money for votes. "The first time somebody from the Congress came to me with money, I shouted at him and asked if he knew who he was offering the money to. He lost the elections!" she chuckles.
"I don't like this corrupt India. This is not the India we dreamt of, the India we sacrificed our lives for. It pains me to see corruption everywhere. But I must say there are so many loving, selfless and affectionate people in our country! It is only politicians who are selfish.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Deep in slumber or helpless?

AT LEAST for the past 100 or 200 years, the youngsters have been brought up in a highly turbulent society. Hence let us be honest and accept the fact that every generation of youth has been muddled in some way or the other. Icons such as Gandhiji, Vivekananda or Bhagat Singh were brought up in such a way that they developed a passion to serve, an ability to demarcate between the right and the wrong and hence built nerves of steel for themselves.

The environment then was no less depressing than it is today. The Gandhis and Nehrus could have easily become successful barristers and magistrates instead of plunging themselves into a lifetime of struggle. But they dared to be different and brought about a revolution within themselves and imparted that spark to everyone around them. If I ask my friends about Gandhiji, some do agree with his universally accepted greatness. But instead of accepting their inability to emulate the man who personified sacrifice and greatness, most of them have something else to say: "His ideas are obsolete and do not apply to the current scenario... We can't relate ourselves to his ideas... Don't you have anything better to talk about... You can't talk of non-violence in a violence ridden society... "

Petty strikes

Usually youth is associated with revolutionary thoughts, which are often impulsive and romantic. But even these impulsive instincts are missing today. The "nothing will change" attitude continues and we turn a blind eye to everything unpleasant around us.

Being a college student I too see many students conducting the so called revolutionary activities which are nothing more than a few petty strikes the reasons for which are as silly as the protesters themselves. The students too cooperate and why not when the teachers themselves stand there helplessly! In fact most of them are not even aware of the reasons for which the strikes are called.

Most of the leading political parties have got their own student wings and use them to meet their own ends.

Quite often it is seen that parents burden their children with dreams of their own. Moreover parents are burdened by the questions put forward by friends and relatives such as "What is your son doing... Why is he doing this and why not that?" As a child, I was asked a question by many people "Do you want to be a doctor or an engineer?" Such questions put a notion into our head that the world of education ends with a few conventional courses.

Unsung heroes

The media has made name, fame and money look like two minute noodles. Survey of the most powerful is carried out with extensive coverage leaving the unsung heroes to rot and die. Who is more successful — the corporates building an empire of their own or the social activists who bring a smile on the faces of millions but shun publicity? While exclusive coverage is given to Fashion weeks and page 3 parties, not even a quarter of that time is dedicated to the Medha Patkars of the country. Hence we get a notion that to gain respect and popularity, you need money.

Who is to blame? The parents who want to see their sons and daughters in a financially secure position, the teachers who are forced to finish the textbook cover to cover by March, or the youngsters who feel compelled to tread the conventional path?

What the youngsters require is not just guidance but a mass movement which will beckon them to serve their motherland and an instilling force of pride which will develop in them a sense of responsibility to preserve their heritage which might otherwise soon die out or live under the mercy of the remix culture. Unfortunately, today the term youth icon is restricted to some known faces from the self advertising page 3 circuit and we rarely look up to those from other sectors of society.

This is the second post that i came across today in The Hindu. It is definitely a thought provoking article. Please feel free to share your views.
Image Courtesy: Google Images

Secret of Success - What ails Indian Youth? - A reality

I was going across the articles in The Hindu. Two of the articles that i came across reflected the thoughts even i share. It is not only me, lot of other youngsters would surely share this thought. Hence with due credits to the authors, i am sharing the articles here in the blog. KAVITA WANKHADE is the author of the first article which was very impressive and at the same time reflects the present situation in an excellent manner. Here is the article. Please feel free to share your views.

TWO OF the articles that appeared in the Open Page section on March 26 were concerned with today's youth. One (Mr. Dinesh Kumar) accused this generation of being evasive, irresponsible and irreparably obsessed with money. The other (Vidya Venkat) pleaded for the generation's inability, trapped as it is within today's society. I think the reality is somewhere between the two.

To Mr. Kumar, I would like to say: Sir, not all the members of my generation are money seeking hedonists. A friend of mine is currently touring remote villages in Maharashtra, working on health care projects. Another dissolved a consultancy he had set up with six years of hard work and effort, because he did not want to work for MNCs.

I know a person who after completing an architecture degree, forwent an opportunity to work on Gurgaon's shining malls, and chose to join the Institute of Rural Management. Another is in Sri Lanka — working in rehabilitation — under threat to her own life. For every batch of IIM that passes out, (some of them on salaries more than 1 lakh a month), there is a batch of social workers from TISS and IRMA (some of whom start their career on 1 lakh a year). And I could go on and on.

I concede that a majority of the youth today are extremely self-centred and detached from politics and society. But who is responsible for them? Can society wash its hands of its youth? All the young people mentioned in the earlier paragraph are engaged in socially relevant work, against all odds from society, and mostly against their parents' wishes. The key concern of Indian parents is that their children should `settle down' — which means getting a secure, well-paid job, or sometimes for girls, a rich husband. Parents coerce their kids to take up lucrative professions; I know quite a few who have refused to finance their children's education for anything other than stipulated courses.

Pat answers

Moving on from parents to recruiters, I do believe that interviewers are looking for pat answers; they are not looking for convictions, but conformity. If there exists a thriving business in coaching classes for interviews for everything from IIM or IAS entrances to lucrative jobs, the classes must be doing something right — they must be preparing the candidates for pat answers that the interviewers foolishly (or intelligently) lap up. Convictions do not land upon one; they are the result of a lot of soul-searching and experience, for which society provides the youth with neither the space nor the time. The youth are but a part of society, and they are but a symptom of what ails society.

But if I believe that society cannot point a finger at its youth, without taking some of the blame, I also believe that the youth cannot blame everything on their parents, society, and the world at large.

Vidya, all the youth I know who are working to make a difference in society are doing it on their own initiative, with little support from elsewhere. Social pressures are as old as society itself. The youth of every generation have been subjected to social pressure. Some more than others. But they refused to buckle under it, and followed their convictions, and so must the youth of today.

The road less travelled has never been easy, and will never be. We cannot absolve ourselves, and expect the underprivileged to raise their voices by themselves; they are no less or no more bound by society than the youth are. If social change has to take place, everyone must stop pointing fingers at others, and do their little bit, and so must the youth.

Having spent a year at an international university, I sincerely believe that the Indian students are more intelligent, more socially aware, and importantly, more idealistic than many others. Callous, money-minded many of the youth of today might be and yet it is to this generation that India must look to for its future leaders.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Inspirational True Life Story - Learn from a Moth

I had received this story as a forwarded mail. I am not sure who the author is, yet it teaches a wonderful lesson.

A marvelous lesson appeared for me just now as I was exiting thru the garage, to come to this little playplace they call an office.

As I opened the garage door, I startled a large moth, which, upon spreading it's wings, displayed a bright red "tail" hidden by the motley brown wings, more a "butterfly" than a moth.

It flew immediately to its perceived escape, the circle-topped window where it frantically tried to exit thru the invisible wall of closed glass.

I raised the third-car garage door in hopes of aiding it's escape. That caused it to fly higher and higher and become entangled in a spider web. Fearful that it would remain entangled in the web, I selected a long-handled broom to assist him escaping the tangled threads.

At this, he returned to furiously pumping his wings and banging into the glass, which was, in his perspective, the pathway of escape, but remained his cage.

By simply turning his focus to one side, he would have easily exited his prison. Rather, due to his intent on one direction, he remained confined, captive.

Image source: Google

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Inspirational True Life Story - Medha Patkar

Not a day passes with out an article about Medha Patkar and her fast. Today there was a news article that stated that an organization by name Narmada Abiyan, planing to stage a demonstration in support of Sardar Sarovar Dam, highlighting the benefits of the project. Still Medha Patkar and her fight is for a worthy cause. Though this just goes to reinforce the fact that "There is always two sides to a coin" we wish to present her in the Inpirational true life story. She has shown exemplary courage in serving for the villagers and tribal communities.

Medha Patkar's struggle began in 1985, when world bank financed "Sardar Sarovar Dam" project across the river Narmada was announced. Medha Patkar was the strategist and central organizer of Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), which was a people's movement formed to stop the construction of these dams across the river Narmada. Projects on Completion would surely submerge more than 35,000 hectares of forest and agricultural land. Apart from this approximately half a million villagers would have to be relocated. Already submersion of villages have taken place causing lot of hardship to these villagers who stand to loose their livelihood and their hangs a big question mark about the future of these villagers. Various reports from magazines and dailies also indicate that the governments have not kept up to their promises made to these displaced villagers. In 1991, 93 & 94 she under took long protest fasts of which the first one was lasted for 22 days. Even this year she has under gone hunger strikes and she has received immense support from Booker Prize winner Arundathi Roy and many other international writers, scholars and critics. They indicate that her claim of tardy rehabilitation of the Narmada dam-displaced families should be taken seriously. She is the winner of The Right Livelihood Award, an alternative Nobel Peace Prize.
Image courtesy: Google Images

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Inspirational Life Story True - Kalpana Chawla

"Do something because you really want to do it. If you're doing it just for the goal, and don't enjoy the path, then I think you're cheating yourself"--was the statement from Kalpana Chawla, which truly reflects her personality. Kalpana chawla has truly sowed the necessary inspiration in the minds of young Indians. Her life has motivated lot of youngsters in India, for she is the second Indian and the only Indian girl to have made it to the space. The first person being Rakesh Sharma. The Indian government has named the Metrological Satellites Series after her, as a mark of tribute to this role model. More importantly this inspiring star was inspired by none other than J.R.D TATA.

If you wish to know further about her career in NASA, please visit NASA.

Image Source : Google Images

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Inspirational Life Story True - Walking the Road Less Travelled

Gaurav and Sharath are two graduates to be presented here in this series of Inspirational Life stories. Probably they have a long journey to complete, yet this blog considers the step that these two have taken can be a lesson for lot of other youngsters in India to follow. These two graduates from the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A) have decided to opt for unconventional career paths than the fat-pay packages, earning laurels from the institute chairman and chief mentor of Infosys N R Narayana Murthy and director Bakul Dholakia. While Gaurav Dagaonkar could well be the next Abhijit Sawant with his foot-tapping music, Sharath Babu aspires to build a food chain and employ about 50,000 people.

Hailing from Chennai, Sharath has risen from a modest background and managed to graduate from IIM-A this year and has already begun his own catering business in Ahmedabad. "I have faced innumerable challenges during the past 25 years. I remember how my mother Deepa Ramani cooked mid-day meals in a nearby school, earned Rs 30 a day and has managed to tend our family including two elder sisters and a younger brother,” said an emotional Sharath, while announcing his plans. Sharath said that he himself had sold 'idlis' on the streets to eke out a living. “I have already registered my company, Foodking Catering Services Private Limited, and I aspire to start a food-chain and employ about 50,000 people in about 10 years", he said. "I have approached few corporates and premier educational institutions in the city and the response so far has been good,” Sharath said adding that he was planning to supply quality food at reasonable prices mainly to the corporate sector and educational institutions.

However, for Mumbai-based Dagaonkar, music is the first love. Gaurav, who released the demo version of his album on Saturday, aspires to make a creative mix of his natural ability to sing and his managerial and entrepreneurial skills to carve out a place in the Indian music industry. "I have composed about ten songs and hope to come out with a full-fledged album in the next two months with the help of a music company,” said Gaurav. Gaurav, who was the cultural secretary of IIM-A, had formed a band 'Zaahir' with other musicians in Ahmedabad. He has also designed a music studio in his hostel at IIM-A, where he studied the technicalities of the music sequencing and arranging. Hearing about their plans, Narayana Murthy said, "I am happy and proud that they have opted to walk on a road less travelled.” He said India's booming economy provided ample opportunity to budding entrepreneurs to start their own ventures. "Youngsters from disadvantageous backgrounds like Sharath Babu have managed to overcome difficulties and start their own ventures,” he remarked. Patting Sharath, Narayana Murthy said, "In India a lot of children are not able to go to school because they do not have enough food to eat. So once you establish your food business, I will request you to donate a small part of your earnings to the mid-meal scheme being run in the nearby school.” He said the IIMs were doing a “wonderful job” in churning out management students skilled in different aspects like human resources, finances, sales and marketing, corporate strategy, technology and others. IIMs needed to expand in terms of the intake capacity of the students and needed to raise the salaries of the faculty so as to help the students get the best education in the world, he said. He also called for greater autonomy for IIMs. IIM-A director Dholakia also applauded both the students for “their risk-taking abilities” by opting for unconventional careers.
We wish both a great and successful journey.