Saturday, 31 January 2009

Am back again...

Here I am after three and half weeks. Absent, not for lack of thought or content but for lack of internet connection. What's more, no guarantee that I'll be online tomorrow again - thanks to our BSNL, PWD, and what not, who do everything possible to make sure all is right but things don't work!!

Anyway, no point in grumbling ... let's constructively 'grumble'. Last night's meal was good. The first one for me as an administrator. Far from being the best, it was OK! Nothing special, just an ordinary meal. Though I was tensed about food running short, the cooks knew better. What makes me happy at the end of it all is that I did not have to shout and yell at someone during the day. It all went on smoothly and without any hassles.

Perhaps Don Bosco was truly guiding us all.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Disconnecting for priorities...

I was regularly following Cast into the deep by Brittany, a postulant for the FMAs (thanks to google reader). Today I found this and I sincerely appreciate her choice and reasoning for the same:
Since I am teaching high school confirmation this year, most of my free time has been spent researching and preparing lessons, as opposed to blogging. (High schoolers are very smart!) I have to be honest with myself as to where I am investing my time, and lately, I have not felt any desire to blog. It is not that I do not enjoy blogging, but I feel like I am stealing time away from other obligations when I do so.
Reflecting upon my own decision to blog, I find that to make myself relevant and meaningful to myself - not to anybody else - I have to keep writing and thinking. Given my present state of life, it is very easy to slip into the mere administration mode even without realising it.

However, this sharing of Brittany and the blogger's prayer (at the right bottom of this blog), remind me of my choice to move more out of the office than get glued to the paper, computer and files. Thanks to Brittany and her choice!

Reconnecting with friends...

Thanks to Rajee for letting me into a glimpse of her take on the world. Perhaps, she is my only friend from the RAI days, in Mumbai - besides of course my Salesian Confreres.

Here's just a bit of her creative thought-pattern:
Who am I to question or care?
How can I a judgment pass?
Though in my mind a different thought reflects
Yet I am cloaked in the very cast!
Read more of her here: infinite wanderings

Monday, 5 January 2009

Kids again...

This evening during the Mass I read the reading and proclaimed St John's caution of testing the spirits. I came back to my place and sure enough there was some confusion going on as a couple with at least 4 kids came in. There were a couple of noisy brats already in the Shrine and being big with a small number of people, every bit of sound was amplified! So now there were half a dozen kids who had no idea of what was going on or what they were supposed to do (I think the Parents too were no better).

Anyway, one of the Parishioners tried to silence some of them - but no way, the kids knew no masters! I, for sure, was distracted. Once or twice, it also occurred to me, to scoop one one of them and make them sit beside me. But I resisted the temptation to play 'assistant'. I was then wondering: how do I see if this whole 'drama' going on is right or wrong? Applying the principle suggested by St John, if the Spirit proclaims Jesus and accepts him, it is good; if not, it is bad. Can I really apply that principle to the kids and their commotion? Is it, true or error?

I really do not have the answer. But I think it is only a fact... bare fact! Nothing big to debate about it... they are just kids playing around. It is ony me who am making an issue out of it saying that they are in the 'Church', the need to be silent, praying...

Maybe not everything in life is to be distinguished as true or false. There are certain facts that just are facts... just like that!

Salary time...

Every time I distribute the salaries, it is tamasha time!! There has to be some tension, confusion and effusion!! Today was no different. However, looking back I realise, I'm learning to tackle things wisely and without straining myself. Unlike a couple of months ago, when I used to get all excited, this time I was well prepared to take in whatever comes my way. Alphonse, as ever, was the first to reach the office to collect his salary. I put him off till later. He pesters me even now, as I type these few lines. Anyway, I think I've a strategy now to tackle him. I wish to meet the couple tomorrow morning and see. But I am amazed at his shrewdness and logic. Never wrong but always crooked!

Let's see what he comes up with tomorrow.

With things more or less settled in the office, I now intend to move out. Without great difficulty, for example, I managed to keep my computer off during the work time the whole day today! That in itself, is no big achievement. But what is really a good sign is that I was not once tempted to put it on during the whole day. The thought never entererd my mind, though the occasion were always there.

I really need to move out of the office more often now. Let me see how that can be. Tirupati is going for sankranti holidays. Perhaps those days I'll be in the garden and explore what can be done.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

One crazy idea...

Reading the newspaper today, I was suddenly reminded of Fr Harris' talk at the Congress, the other day. The news bit was about a lady receiving calls on her mobile asking for 'Ghajini'... it so happened that in the movie the number is tattooed on Aamir's body. So people trying their luck were calling the number which happened to be of some lady in Bangalore. It is said that the same happened of the movie Bruce Almighty. People started calling this number (just some number used by the director) to speak to God and so on!!

Well, I thought may be the next time someone is making a movie of the 'Bruce Almighty' kind, we could very well give a number and use that number for counselling or spiritual guidance! Free publicity and people who need it too will find it splashed all over!

Anyway, some crazy idea though!

Train Journey

Two common experiences during my train journeys in the last month: kids and comments on the side middle berth.

Kids: Wow! and Aah! Every time there are those school going children in the same compartment, they really enliven the whole compartment. It's nice to interact with them, play and chat with them! Time just flies. Then there are those smaller kids. It takes a while to gain their confidence before they start getting off the seat and moving around. Once they get friendly with you, they are at home in the whole section! But the next morning, after they wake up, you'll have to start 'wooing' them all over again. (Just like that movie 50 dates).

Coming to the new middle side berth that our friend Lalu Prasad has added to the trains, wow! Every one who enters the train has something to say about it. Mostly people praise his creativity - that's everyone, except the one who has to get in there for the night!!!

Saturday, 3 January 2009

Brothers' Congress ... IMPRESSIONS

The Congress is over... and so is all the 'ache' with it - both of the head as well as of the heart! Well, on the whole, a very good and enriching experience. By the time I reach back to my place, I may have some other things to break my head over. So I'd better attempt a synthesis here and now! For news, you have it all here

First things first... Good, now I have a first hand, knowledge and idea of the 'mood and mode(s)' of the Salesian Brothers in our region. Though not brilliant as some other people and groups I know, I'm happy to notice that there is a growing sense of optimism and joy and young blood in the group - something very evident! Though numerically we have shrunk, the vibrancy is there. Many of the senior Brothers made special mention of this. Surely, a veteran of many a Congress, will see the evolution, and feel the vibe.

Ideologically, I think I still remain where I was, prior to the Congress. I don't think there was something very different and challenging idea(s) to make me rethink some of the views I hold (right or wrong) about being a Brother. The idea of Br TV Johny to which I referred previously, is certainly an addition. But that's more about being a Salesian than specifically a Brother. Somehow, I'm still not convinced of craving for a 'specific' vocation as Brothers. For me, it ends with being a Salesian! How I live that Salesian vocation is all that matters for me. Since I've chosen to be a Brother, I live it Don Bosco's way, sans the sacramental part. For the rest, I create my identity - as a Salesian!

Among very many senior Brothers, there is a lot - and I really feel it very strongly for the first time - of unresolved tension. They hide - and continue to hold - very very deep and painful scars, even wounds! On the other hand, they are those who don't mind giving a poke to these wounds. So it's a sort of two way accident: one causing it, the other 'wanting' it!

By way of the method and modality of organisation, we Brothers, have a long way to go! We're still feeling the ropes!! I wonder if this is only about organising a meeting - perhaps with the intellectual and 'paper' burden! I only hope, with a very faint heart, that this is not our overall style of functioning. I somehow get a feeling, that most of us, just scrape through in our responsibilities. With the exception of a few who really make a dent, if not by professionalism at least by collaboration, the vast majority of us shy away. I do not mean to say, that we are not willing to do our best, but somehow we don't! Maybe something to do with what I mentioned previously (past experiences...).

Most of the 'issues' are personality concerns. Being a Brother has nothing to do with it actually. But when an issue is linked to 'being a brother' then it's an insurmountable mountain! Anyway, I guess that will take some time to erode!

I liked something that I overheard yesterday as we were leaving the hall. Having discussed and argued as to whether Brothers need to go for qualification or not, what someone said made a lot of sense to me. I always felt my stomach churning when people 'praised' the Brothers working in the Generalate as postmen, librarians, pantry men... I used to say to myself, 'surely we are capable of more than doing that. So don't tell me to get into a rut of one activity till I'm in my grave!' But what I heard yesterday changed my view, especially of the Brothers in the Generalate themselves. I heard: Those Brothers there doing that work in the post office, kitchen, library... have been doing it for years. When they were young they liked the job and were then trained for it. Hence they happily carry on with it. So there it is! They liked something, got qualified for it, and continue it HAPPILY. If that is a fact, I have no grounds, absolutely, to feel sad for them or even get angry with them! They are living just as I am!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Brothers' Congress... repeated impressions

Why is it that every grand national level meeting seems to be a colossal waste of time and opportunity? The very same issues that irritated me during the Juvenile Justice seminar at Vijayawada and Ramanthapur seem to be repeated here.
For one, we are totally rudderless!
Most know not what is the whole purpose of the Congress (I'm yet to grasp it myself. Of course, meeting so many Brothers and interacting with them all is surely one great achievement in itself - but too small an objective for such a grand event!)
Abundance of man power and talent but lack of synchronisation leading to confusion and wastage of precious time and opportunity.

But I believe the Lord has His own ways of teaching us the lessons we need to learn!
I'm listening...!

Of pioneering and stones...

Besides the many new acquaintances that I am making here in the congress, as of now two statements struck me:

People throw stones at only a fruit bearing tree! Well that's a nice optimistic way of facing challenges. Hearing some of the Brothers share their experiences, I feel all the more convinced now that pioneering is a special grace given not to a community but to an individual. But that poor guy has to be ready for all the stones!

The other statement was made by Fr Anthony Raj at the conclusion of his talk yesterday morning. To the world you may be only one person; to one person you may be the world!

Brothers' Congress... some changeover!

Last night I went to bed regretting the lack of sufficient discussion during the Congress and this evening I regret the discussion that we had this afternoon. I believe the assembly discussed the theme and the very same points of last year were again aired. Looks like we are specialists in beating round the bush and making progress in circles... not spiral! Anyway the discussion was about the post-novitiate formation at Kalyani and I did have my opinion about the place and formation there (though I have to admit, I've not even seen the place!). However, hearing the various opinions I was confused.
But something that really struck me amidst all those differing opinions and views was what one former staff of Kalyani shared. If Brothers after their course at Kalyani, somewhere down the line wish to become clerics and need to go for theology, they should gladly go through the grind of a two-year B.Ph. - if they are really serious about their 'new' vocation! Now that I never thought about. If someone is really concerned about his vocation, then one ought to give God and time their due. Just because I decide to change over (either way), why should everything happen fast - so that I don't lose time?
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