Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Aspiration and ambition

Have been working on a paper trying to prove that addictions are more than just strong desires.  As part of the reading came across this particular difference.  (will cite the source when I remember!)
Aspiration is when we hope for a better tomorrow and use all our time, talent and resources to achieve it. It is about making life better. Most scientific discoveries that have benefited humankind are all results of aspiration. Ambition, on the other hand, is when we hope not only to be better than ourselves, but to be better than all others.
I came across this text in Harini Calamu's blog POV. Read the interesting text here.  In her blog post, the author cites the reasons for BJP coming to power.  She rightly proves what most know: The weakness of Congress and other parties is BJP's greatest strength! 

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Ideal may not be real

Ideal state of affairs in a company:
when the boss of the company is the democratically elected president of the trade union!

The one who gets elected is the one who workers feel will understand and stand up for their collective interests.  If that person also happens to be the boss, then there is truly a great amount of trust and working relationship among all the members at the site.

However, in this case, one may not need a trade union at all!  

Monday, 20 March 2017

Best thing that ever happened to me

"Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me"

I've had my share of life's ups and downs
But fate's been kind, the downs have been few
I guess you could say that I've been lucky
Well, I guess you could say that it's all because of you

If anyone should ever write my life story 
For whatever reason there might be 
Ooo, you'll be there between each line of pain and glory 
'Cause you're the best thing that ever happened to me 
Ah, you're the best thing that ever happened to me 

Oh, there have been times when times were hard
But always somehow I made it, I made it through
'Cause for every moment that I've spent hurting
There was a moment that I spent, ah, just loving you

If anyone should ever write my life story
For whatever reason there might be
Oh, you'll be there between each line of pain and glory
'Cause you're the best thing that ever happened to me
Oh, you're the best thing that ever happened to me
I know, you're the best thing, oh, that ever happened to me

Doctor shopping

Came across this particular phrase 'doctor shopping' while glancing through literature on 'addiction'.  It is described as one of the possible symptoms of patients who are treated for addiction.  However, it can also be observed among those who have ailments too.

The basic notion is when people go meet different doctors merely because the one whom they met last did not meet their 'required standards' or they did not find the person to their taste!  It is a bit odd because, when in need of help, one approaches a doctor.  To judge the doctor on the basis of his or her compliance with my 'tastes' and thereby keep changing doctors is only a sign of another ailment, besides the one, someone already has!

Duck or Grouse

Hung on a pub's low entrance at Swindon is this particular board, 'Duck or Grouse?'
For a first timer it may sound as a menu card but for one who is used to the board will know, that it is an indicator of the low door beam and hence you either duck or hold a grouse!

Reminds me another amusing board that I saw first hand during my first visit to London, that too outside a pub.

Everlasting dysentery

The responsorial psalm of the day, feast of St Joseph, had this particular response:
His dynasty shall last for ever. 
During the sermon, Fr John remembered one of his old parishioners who had a gift of mixing up words and on one such occasion ended up asking the congregation to reply,
His dysentery shall last for ever.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Peeking out

Here are a couple of photos of spring peeking out of the dry autumn... from across the open ground across the road from our Salesian house.

Thinking as pigeons

Received this interesting message on whatsapp today...
In an ancient temple, a number of pigeons lived happily on the roof. When the renovation of the temple began for the feast, the pigeons relocated themselves to a Church nearby.  The existing pigeons in the church accommodated the new comers very well.

Christmas was nearing and the church needed a face lift.  All the pigeons then had to look for another place. They found one in the mosque at the other end of the town.  The pigeons in the mosque had no complaints and welcomed the others happily.  A while later, the mosque was being rebuilt and the pigeons now moved back to the temple.

One day the pigeons saw some communal clashes in the market and a baby pigeon asked the mother pigeon, "Who are these creatures?" "They are human beings," replied the mother. "And why are they fighting?"asked the little one.  The mother replied, "These human beings going to the temple are called 'hindus' and those going to the church, called 'christians' and the people going to the mosque are called 'muslims'.

The baby pigeon was surprised. "Why is it so? When we were in the temple we were called pigeons, and so were we when we moved to the church and then the mosque.  Similarly they should be called 'human beings' wherever they go." The mother replied, " You and me and all our pigeon friends have experienced God and that's why we live here in this elevated place, peacefully. These human beings are yet to experience God.  Hence they keep fighting and killing one another."

Healthy hearts

I came across this particular news item in the BBC today.  The scientists herein claim that they have found the healthiest hearts in the whole world. They belong to a Bolivian tribe named Tismane (pronounced chee-man-yee).  It describes their diet and physical routine and attributes their healthy hearts mainly to these: healthy diet and plenty of physical activity.  Read the full article here.

However, the article does, in passing, mention of their positive outlook and social life, as one of the influences in recording a healthy heart.  What struck me most of the photos embedded, was that these people were poor and typically tribal.  Being close to nature and following principles in line with the environment is a great value.  The integral life that they naturally live is not a remedy but reason for their well-being. Contentment and living close to nature are truly two great elements of a noble life.  Most of us in the urban life, eat and then exercise to burn the calories of what is eaten!  Our focus is mostly on diet and exercise.  Their focus is on life.  

Friday, 17 March 2017

Spring colours

Spring has already set in and the colours are changing, literally.  There is a sort of greenery budding forth as trees are getting ready to spring new leaves.  Then there are the flowers blooming. Mostly yellow, the daffodils.  There is also some strange bush like plant used as fences in some places.  It was always barren and appeared dry, at least since the time I noticed it.  But now it is all yellow and amidst the green bushes or against the green lawn, it looks great.
Then there are also this pink flowers adoring the whole tree - the cherry trees!  They look magnificent.

At times I feel a bit awkward to stand and admire these beautiful colours, because I'm the only one standing and watching these things. All the others around me are well on their way, seemingly oblivious of the changes.  I suppose they have seen it from their birth. For me, it is the first time.  

Chertsey monks

This evening I visited the Chertsey Abbey, or rather the ruins of it.  I had been around the place sometimes, but never really to the actual site. Of course, there is nothing more than a pile of stones left.  But still the stones tell the tale of monastery which began in the 7th century!  The initial monastery built of timber was vandalized by Viking raiders in 871.  The surviving stones maybe of the fourteenth century construction.  In the beginning it is believed to have had more than 50,000 acres of land attached to it! But it is said that it was about 1346 that the monastery was at its best.  Plenty of work, involvement and renewed spirit. More about the historical facts, here.

I spent sometime there, prayed a while. Sat a while trying to imagine what it would have been to be monk living in the Abbey, in those days. After some wild guesses, I said to myself, it all could have been very different.  However, one thing I was sure of, most of them would have been happy!

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Kids 'Our Father'

Here are a couple of kiddy versions of the 'Our Father':
Our Father, who does art in Heaven, Harold is His name...
... and forgive us our trash baskets, as we forgive those who put thrash in our baskets.

Sunday, 12 March 2017


From my little experience of dealing with people of UK, I suspect there is an element of fear and anxiety underlying any attempt to touch upon deep personal matters. Not that elsewhere people go about shouting their inner feelings and emotions in the street.  But in comparison, there seems to be a sort of block, a sort of veil which everyone is comfortable with.

The few who do dare speak of their inner turmoils and share their feelings are often considered and treated as traditionalists or religious - someone to be kept away from!  Most consider it fashionable and modern to be 'trendy', to be superfluous.  Thus the avoidance of shared silence, deep intimate relationships, that extra effort to retain relationships, conversations involving feelings (rather than merely intellectual stuff or swearing), sharing of personal space and emotions... A note on silence: it is not that people appreciate silence. They do - that too fiercely. It is more as a tool to close up oneself, shutting out others, rather than shared silence.

I'm not judging, neither the people nor the situation, but merely trying to understand.  Certainly, it is not the case that every person or situation is in this state - but a sort of general ambiance.  Surely there must be several reasons for such an ambiance to be created.  Wonder what could be the predominant ones that led to this state of affairs.  Or I may be reading the signs differently.  Possible.

Flame 2017

Yesterday I participated in the Flame 2017, a one-day prayer and worship organised by the Catholic Youth Ministry Federation of England and Wales.  It was held at the Wembley arena.  This is the first time I attended such a programme.  Fr Marco had invited me and I agreed thinking that it was some sort of a prayer service - in silence and in small group or something like that.

However, it was anything but what I initially imagined it to be. But on the whole I liked the concept and the attempt to get young people together in prayer and fellowship.  The best I liked about it was that it was not all about God and piety and some pious rituals.  It was centred around the support of the Catholic Church for the migrants and refugees.

While there was plenty of music and singing (rock and rap - that too quite loud!), drama, interviews, a couple of talks, there was also the concluding adoration service.  It was not more than half an hour, during which there was a moment of silence.  That silence was quite 'loud'!  Nearly 9000 young people in utter silence, praying was truly amazing.  However, I also realised that the silence was a bit 'stifling' in as much as youngsters would not have carried on for any longer than the duration it was!  There was naturally a more spontaneous and joyful participation in the singing and music than in the silence.  On the whole, it was good.

A gathering like this back in India would have solely focussed on the ritual and prayer.  There'd be plenty of talks - long ones at that.  It would certainly have been more pietistic.  I suppose that such a mode of prayer would not really appeal to youth of this generation in the West - at least not the majority.  Therefore little doses of everything is ideal - something better than nothing.  

Immigration and YaR

The current discussion mode and mood about immigration has great similarities with our Salesian work with street children.

From my little experience and association with the work for and with the young at risk, I don't think I'll be wrong to say that initially the work was not at all recognised as a Salesian work.  Slowly it gained momentum and then it picked up fast.  More Salesians joined in seeing the need at hand.  It reached a sort of climax where it was hailed as truly ennobling.  It is also at this time that what we did for the children was offer them shelter and education.  The focus was on the institutional set up (though of course, when it began it was anything but institutional!).  The children were catered to.  There were attempts made to rehabilitate the children back with their own families but I'm not sure if that was the primary task. Then came the age of experimentation with trying to 'create' family like atmosphere within the institution.  So there were couples entrusted with a certain number of children but all living in the campus.  That really did not work.  Then came the era of introspection which brought the realization that institutional help is to be the last resort.  The first task is to make sure the child has a safe childhood in its own family.  We are yet to truly understand and get into this mode because we are now still stuck with our institutions!

The same 'evolutionary' process is what I see in the whole debate about immigration.  Unfortunately it is still in one of the first levels of growth: 'what to do with the immigrants?'  Rather than address the root of immigration and thereby address it, the discussion is mostly about offering (or not offering) the immigrants the right to entry, stay and work.  
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