Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Politics, politicians and puppets

Any where I go these days, all that I see and hear is about the upcoming elections. Luckily I do not follow a thing about politics! I'm truly blissfully ignorant about this one great section of life. And I intend to remain so... not worth dabbling in it.

However, what I keenly observe is the passion, the obsession, the zeal, tactics, plans, ideas, fickle fidelities of not just the politicians but of common people themselves. To silently hear others debate with such vigour the whole battle game is a thrill in itself. It does not take long in realising on whose side is the one doing the talking. Those silent, I guess, are those not interested or ignorant or above such party-politics.

I'm learning a thing or two about what goes on in the minds of people who get so passionately involved in this whole affair. I wonder if they are ever so passionate about their own family or studies or work. The best part is how the top layer of politicians are able to make the majority of population real puppets without having ever to dirty their hands and remain publicly "immaculate". That is called brains!

Monday, 30 March 2009

Chalti ka naam gaadi

Yesterday sometime in the afternoon I was watching Chalti ka naam gaadi. A lovely movie with all the three Kumar brothers acting: Ashok, Kishore and Anoop. Decent plot, lovely songs (Babu samjho ishare, Ek ladki bheegi bhagi si, haal kaisa hai janab ka, Main sitaron ka tarana...), the chemistry between Kishore Kumar and Madhu Bala, that vintage look, Kishore oodle-oodle-oei, refreshing comedy, and set in good old Mumbai.

One hardly gets to see life in such close quarters. The blend of human emotions with acting, the varied themes and sub-themes running simultaneously and culminating in the climax... Unfortunately like most of my movie watching sessions, the power cut left me without reaching the end. Now I'll have to watch it sometime later - God knows when! There have been times when I have completed watching a movie, in bits and pieces, only after a couple of years.

Truth and the revelation of truth

The recent remarks and comments by Sr Jesmi and Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil (and the counter remarks of othes) have created quite an uproar among the Catholic population, especially among the clergy and religious. Yesterday evening I met one fervent Parishioner quite shaken up by the whole narration and statements of Sr Jesmi. Luckily I did not have enough time to sit and talk with him. He had to finish something important and I moved on. Had he pressed me to reading it for myself, I would have surely told him that I have better things to read - for which I am struggling to make time!!

Anyway, whatever they want to say, let them. After all they have the right to speak and express themselves. However, for me, if that what you say causes your brethren - and 'sisteren' - to lose faith and jeopardise their simple beliefs, it is better not to say it. But if one feels so compelled to say so, let him or her do so with such charity as to build faith and confidence. If it is only for self-emptying and "truth-revealing" without concern for the general population, I doubt how much of pastoral zeal and love for the mission is in that person. Truth ought to be revealed but it also matters much, how that truth is revealed. The role of media too needs to be critically analysed. It often has the tendency to pick up the 'juicy' parts, and flash them out of the whole context the text is written.

May all we do, be for the betterment of the standard of living of our neighbours and for our own own spiritual upliftment.

Courage and truth...

The readings of today (Susanna and the woman caught in adultery) have a few things in common:
  • a woman in involved, yet she is not the central figure of the narration.
  • it is one person versus the crowd
  • the accused is helpless... the system works against them completely.
  • help comes from one person, who dares to stand up for the accused against the crowd
  • the innocent is spared.... truth prevails.
Reading these episodes from the Scriptures is very gripping, consoling and offers great hope but I doubt if they repeat in today's context, especially the last two points!

Sunday, 29 March 2009

An evening jog

After a long lapse, I ordered myself out of the house in my running shoes. I found myself very reluctantly obeying my own commands. I realize I'm losing grip over myself. Anyhow, once on the road, it was a good jog. Helped push a lorry till its engine roared to life (and what profuse thanks from those poor guys who must have spent hours loading it up with mud and after so many people walking by without helping them), wished one or two parishioners on the way, spoke to some of the staff members, saw the progress on the Outer Ring road and smiled at the weary shepherds along the way!! Enough incentive to drive me out tomorrow too!

Saturday, 28 March 2009

The mustard seed

A short reflection on the Parable of the mustard seed in the context of our Salesian religious life: The mustard seed will grow to be its best when it receives all the necessary life-support, sunshine, rain, minerals, ambiance... whether it wants it or not. The mustard seed is to a great extent compelled by what it gets! Unlike this mustard seed, we Salesians ought to make a conscious and daily choice to be the best of who we can be - not as a group but as individuals. The surroundings and the situations we find ourselves do have a say but not the ultimate say. Whatever the situation, I still have to make that conscious choice to be the best of who I can be. However good and favourable the situation outside (or inside me), that alone will not naturally bring the best out of me.

My religious life and commitment is a daily struggle and a conscious one too.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Creating happiness

One of the Salesians who conducted the vocation camp I attended as a boy, forwarded a mail to me which concluded with this sentences: Happiness is not something you find; it is something you create.

Very true, not just of happiness but also of many other things.... But something that is presently occupying my time these days, surely stradles both, finding and creating. And that is news!! Being the web coordinator of the Province and all the more after revamping the site, I get one recurring message (of course, after all the congratulatory words): please keep the site updated!! Well, I do not miss the opportunity to remind them that it is not my baby to feed!! I'm not the only one to feed it all alone. Each one in the Province ought to use it - after all, I understand it as the 'Digital Noticeboard' of the Province. Well, I can post news and views, provided I am given some basic data atleast. Surely I cannot create news all the while. I can help find news and even create it but not all of it by myself, always.

Anyway, news or views, that initial statement regarding happiness, I'm fully convinced of!

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Evil and sin

Reading the online issue of Indian Currents, I came across this opening line which I certainly feel there is something wrong about: The concept of sin (or the mystery of evil as the church calls it) is something that torments humans all over the world, especially believers in all religions.

Hope someone will be able to clearly state how mystery of evil is not the same as sin!! For me at least, evil is a much wider concept than sin. One thing for sure, evil is something that I may not directly be involved in whereas sin is something I ought to have a hand in!

Evil exists... it is inevitable.
Sin isn't!

Perhaps if we stretch the meaning of sin and evil, they would meet somewhere, but not in their present concepts.


What faith Mother Mary had that led her to believe in the words of the angel! She had no prior notice, no preparation. She led just an ordinary life of a Jewish girl, and like everyone else, waited for the Messiah. and there appears this angel with this bizarre message.

Trying to relive her state of mind, I can imagine what it would be if today an angel appears to me and tells me to adopt a baby boy as it is Jesus, in his second coming! Like any Catholic, I too am aware of the parousia, but am I really ready for such a task? Would I really believe? Right now, I hardly have any reasons to tell myself, to convince myself that this is true!

In the movie, Evans Almighty, when asked what makes him so sure that God chose him to build an ark, in this age in the city of New York, he replies, "God chose all of us!"

Now that requires faith. It is not just some basic belief or trust, it demands much more than that. I myself feel incompetent to write more as I do not have any inkling what that would entail. Just his morning's meditation of this imaginary message for me itself was too handful!!

Balancing act

The recent meetings left me in a dilemma: a dilemma of balance! It is true that virtue lies in the middle but how to decide upon where is the middle or how does one strike balance in such a situation? My dilemma is this: I have long been an advocate of "Don Bosco ki jay bolo!" In short, I like to trumpet my identity as a Salesian. I really took pride in making known Don Bosco. But of late, there is this growing need and call for networking. There are Salesians who are very much involved too. However, their call is to 'submerge Don Bosco'. For them the goal is important not the name. Not that they do not love Don Bosco but somehow, in a crowd they'd stand for the mission rather than the name. Their aspiration is to get over our 'four-walled training' mentality and widen our collaborative network. The results are there to see! Their impact is much wider than our 'incestuous Salesian works'.

On the other hand, there are our faithful Salesians who have not made a big impact on the world at large. They have in their own way touched the lives of a few inmates - and touched them deeply too. They haven't been involved in any great movement or networking.

Now where and how does on strike balance. I understand that individual charisms too play a great role in this whole enterprise. But how can I really merge these two dimensions without compromising one for the other?

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Meetings and outcome (2) Kill Don Bosco!

I take back opinion on my previous posting about the wastage of time in meetings. The afternoon sharing, though totally out of the prepared agenda - perhaps that was the reason for its richness! - was a very enriching one. For one we realised, we are not omnipotent. Therefore we need to collaborate with others, most of all with non-Salesians. In this process, even if we stand the danger to loose our name 'Don Bosco', be ready for that! True, what is more important, our name 'Don Bosco' or the goal which we are striving after? I remember Miester Eckhart's words (more or less): God, help me realise that the best way to come close to you is to get rid of you! So, kill Don Bosco!!! It is not that we are compromising on our Salesian identity, rather we are only taking it on a higher plane and truly living up to the charism and dream of Don Bosco.

Meetings and outcome

I missed watching a play in a theatre - till today. The day long meeting was a real sham. We discussed, debated, clarified, thought and shared ideas but without a clear idea of what we were doing and where we were headed. Surprising to me is how we can afford and continuously to go on this way... rudderless.
  • We need to know what the exact goal of the meeting is. To have clear objectives and targets we intend to achieve in and through this meeting.
  • We also need to strategize how to achieve this and involve all concerned. This is often our pitfall. We take for granted things will happen and they will emerge. No, things don't emerge just like that. They need to be guided. At times there are very insightful ideas emerging, but without proper moderation it is likely to get lost.
  • Summarise the meeting before calling it a day. This way we can tangibly - and immediately - evaluate the outcome of the meeting.
  • Meticulously record the minutes and pass them on to all involved at the earliest.
  • Follow up of the deliberations and decisions arrived at during the meeting. Most often we discuss and then leave loose ends.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Movies and formation

Yesterday I took a holiday! Yeah, I really took a day off!! I always believed it would be difficult, impossible.... Yesterday, there was no problem. I'm still alive and so is the world and the Province!! Another proof that I'm not the one who's carrying the world around!!

Thus I watched two movies on TV in my free time! One is the October Sky and the other Rabbit-proof fence. The October Sky is a true story about Homer, a young boy with a passion and skill for rockets and flight engineering. However his father detests all of this and wishes that he take up his job as a coal miner. Despite all odds, Homer rejects to be a mere coal miner and goes on to become a NASA engineer along with his school mates - thanks to the constant inspiration of his physics teacher who nurtures the little hope he has to see beyond the coal mine, the small native town and dream of his potency becoming reality. Yet what I liked of the movie is when Homer returns home after his successful science exhibition and tells his sarcastic father, that he may have had several scientists as his inspiration, but none of them were his hero! His father was!

Rabbit-proof fence is the story of three girls, the eldest of whom leads them through rough Australian terrain just to be back home, with their mother. Captured by the white 'educated' to 'protect them from themselves' the girls are determined to get back home. It is a very beautiful story. But what caught my attention is the attitude of Mr Neville, the rehabilitation officer, who was doing his job: saving the aborigines from themselves. He was sincere and determined in carrying out what he considered the most important thing to do.

Both these movies have a lot to teach about formation:
  1. Not all that formators think is good, needs to be truly good.
  2. Inspiration is most often from close quarters, others may provide sparks of motivation, those close to the person, always keep the fire burning.
  3. Reaching the goal is never easy. In case of formation, whole life is never easy. But preparation to face those challenges and willingness to be brave enough are the tests for determining how passionate are we about that what we aspire to.

Mister God... and darkness

After much delay yesterday, I managed to complete reading Mister God, this is Anna. A very insightful book, I should say. Here are a few of excerpts:
  • It didn't make sense to talk about different God; that kind of talk inevitably leads to madness. No, for Anna it was all or nothing; there could be only one Mister God. This being so, then the different places of worship, the kinds of names give to those worshippers could be due to one thing, and to one thing only: the different arrangements of the evidence for Mister God. (p.141-142)
  • I call myself a Christian. What do you call yourself? I reckon Mister God must be pretty good at music, he knows all the names of the chords. Perhaps he doesn't mind what you call it, as long as you play it. (p. 143) Now that's something similar to Fr TV Thomas' mulberry tree and the Sister calling it a cherry tree!

Now this is quite interesting... all in praise of the night and darkness, because, it lets you see deep!
  • The sun is nice, but it lights things up so much that you can't see very far.
  • Your soul don't go very far in the daylight 'cos it stops where you can see.
  • The nighttime is better. It stretches your soul right out to the stars. And that is a very long way. In the nighttime you don't have to stop going out. It's like you rears. In the daytime it's so noisy you can't hear. In the nighttime you can. The nighttime stretches you.
  • My reason for preferring the darkness is that in the dark you have to describe yourself. In the daylight other people describe you.
  • Never let anyone rob you of your right to be complete. The daylight is for the brain and the senses, the darkness is for the heart and the wits. Never, never be afraid. Your brain may fail you one day, but your heart won't. (Old Woody to Anna p. 151-152)

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Formation, fear and principles

Formation is going to be a risky and tricky business as days go by. Not that it was any cake-walk earlier. But the nuances and pressures on formators and formees as well are going to be varied and subtle. However, the best part is that basics always remain the same. It therefore boils down to who follows the principles, to what extent, for what motive and with what results. This is where the whole debate comes back to.

I've always regarded that fear and formation never go hand in hand. Earlier days, it was the formees who feared the formators. These days it is the formators who are frightened of the formees!! Sounds strange but that seems to be the fact. But again as I said, basics remain intact: fear and formation do not go hand in hand!

I know very well that living all what you believe in can be dangerous - not for the you but for the ones you live with. But equally worse or damaging is to live a sub-standard life, a sort of life dictated by loose talk, fear or losing one's name, one filled with anxiety if I am pleasing all...

During the Brothers' Congress, after my talk, Br Rocha asked me in the general assembly if I have inspired anyone to become a Brother! I remembered what Fr Ivo once said about conversion and evangelisation: 'My work is proclamation. Conversion is the work of the Holy Spirit!' So too, in the field of formation, I believe my work is to show the right path - not even to lead the young. You follow a path and if you are so truthful and inspiring, the youngsters will follow you - not all, but the genuine ones. After all, you are not leading them to yourself, but to Christ.

During my days at Karunapuram, I was cautioned by one of my students in class for being too strict. He said, "Brother, you can take the horse to the water front but cannot make it drink the water!" I replied, "Very true! But I want the horse to know where to look for water when it is thirsty. I do not want the horse to go around telling other horses and donkeys that no one ever showed it where the water is!"

Monday, 16 March 2009

Someone's sanity and my comfort

Yesterday driving towards Secunderabad to pick up someone from the Railway station, at Langer Houz, I saw the 108 ambulance and a motley crowd of bystanders gathered under the new bridge. I saw that the were gathered around the insane man who was lying face down in the mud. I had seen this man very often around that area. This time I was glad that his agony had come to an end - or that my agony or guilt of seeing him often had come to an end! I was more happy that I did not have to see him again and feel bad about me not being of any help to him.

But this morning on my way to the vegetable market I saw him walking around! So I presume all that I saw yesterday was only a fluke incident and not even the hospital guys took him in! Anyway, he's alive and around.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Courage and silence

They say that the world is basically full of good people but not all are courageous. The man-made evil and confusion that is evident is not because there are bad people but because good people are not courageous enough to stand for what is true and just!

This morning's readings too triggered this thought in me. Take for example Joseph's brothers Reuben and Joshua. Both liked their brother, Joseph well enough to save him from being killed by their own siblings but not courageous enough to stand up to the group and say that what they were doing was wrong. Even the workers in the parable of the vineyard, those who plotted and killed the only heir. Had just one of them stood up to them and said that it was not the right thing to do, their conscience would not have let them do it so easily.

It is the silence of the noble that kills more than the sword of the maniac!

Thursday, 12 March 2009


One good insight from today's meeting of the formation commission was the idea of skill-need assessment. If implemented I am sure it would be a great benefit for our formation setting in the Province. Not that this is part of the formation procedures already in place. But looking at things already existing and emphasising them from a different and new perspective always brings forth new life and energy.

The idea is to carry out a need-assessment of all our formees at the beginning of the scholastic year. Basing on this finding, we need to provide the input session and animation along the year for this group - perhaps individually if need be. At the end of the academic year we need to have a skill-assessment done to see what progress the students have made over the year. There are few very crucial points here to be kept in mind and which we need to sort out. First among them, get the students involved. This is not a group or mass programme that fits in the same for all. Each one has to make the best of this and this programme has to be so tailored. How and where and who is yet to be finalised. Next important thing - perhaps the most important thing, once the student has done his part well, namely identifying those area(s) in which he needs help - is to to help the person over the year, along with his normal routine work. This calls for someone to be 'at it'.

Finally there is the skill-assessment at the end of the year. This is something that will tell us what the person has grown with, what has helped him in the process and now what he intends to do with what he has in hand. Somewhere down the line we will have to inculcate in the student that the skill acquired is not for personal gain alone. This skill needs to be transferred to other areas of life and passed on to others/youngsters too.

The best part of this envisaged programme is that it is totally by the student himself. There is no external agency or anyone else telling him what he has to do, why he has to do and what has happened to him. It is a process of self-learning and growth. Again, as I said in the beginning, not anything brand new... just old wine in new wine skins! Let's see how long it holds out!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Living and preaching

Trying to wait for Fr Maliekal to arrive, I was putting some order in my table drawers and I came across this collection of excerpts from Morris West's book, The Clowns of God. Nice way to conclude the day! The biggest mistake we've all made through the ages is to try to explain the ways of God to men. We shouldn't do that. We should just announce Him. He explains himself very well! (The 'Pope' to his bosom friend)

The Province website

At last the Province website is up and about. Lots more to do but for now it is online!! Some glitches remain but the joy of seeing it done is great. It was nice to see my DB DIGITS staff - Sheeba, Jecintha and Mallesh - to excited about the whole process - at times more than I. I remember at times I had to tell them to leave the office because they were still grappling with some things after working hours.

We dream of so many things but when we sit and chat it out with others we realise that there are other ways of doing it too. I realised this when at times I'd sit all night to get one small box in its place and the next morning, Sheeba would do it no time. There are also times when they struggle with something and I, through my 'trial and error' am able to help them out. True... knowledge grows when shared.

Accidents and further accidents!

Last two days I've been a bit busy with another in the series of road accidents and related injuries and vehicles and police station and WHAT NOT!!! In a mockery of events, the very vehicle which was being brought back from the garage after repair since the last accident ended up with a broken front glass!! On its way back it knocked down the bike (our own bike, with another of our driver riding it) and people nearby stopped the four-wheeler, dragged our driver out, bashed him up and smashed up the glass (icing on the cake). The bike rider was down with a broken head and left hand!!

I don't understand what thrill people get in bashing up drivers and further damaging vehicles at an accident scene. Helping the ones injured is a noble task which few venture to carry out. But this bashing drama, there are some specialised at every place!!

God give them some brains!!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Women in my life

Today is Women's day and I think I should post something about some of the women who have touched and moulded my life. First and foremost, of course is my Mummy! If there is anyone in the world of whom I can be truly proud of, it is my Mummy and Daddy. Not that they did anything or achieved anything great. But that it is basically from them that I learnt what life is and what is the best way to live it. Mummy and Daddy never pampered us (my brother and me) but they did not even persecute us. Things weren't as rosy and smooth as now, when we were small. Those were hard times. Yet my brother and I never felt the weight or burden of it. Mostly because Papa and Mummy took it wholy upon themselves. Yet they helped us see that life is difficult. One has to slog to satisfactorily enjoy the meal at hand. We did not get the best of what was available but what we got (be it uniform, clothes, food, gifts...) turned out to be the best because it was out of sheer hard work and love. Today I am proud to say that I am willing to do any work - thanks to Papa and Mummy who showed me that work is sacred and good.

Then there is Leena Aunty - someone whom I admire for her courage and grit. Life has surely been very cruel to her, yet she fights. Then there is Baby Aunty who is ever so cheerful and homely. Again she too has her share of woes but that does mean she carries it around for all to see. There is of course, my grandma, who is no more. I guess all three of them (my Mummy and my aunties) only inherited this graceful life from my grandma. Hats off to her for simplicity in living one's life, the courage to face difficulties, the depth of love to keep the family united and the zeal to work anytime, anywhere, whatever!

Thank you God for these women in my life. They mean a world to me!

Courage to invite boys to join us

This month's Provincial circular speaks of recommending ourselves to youngsters as models and having the courage to propose to them the Salesian consecrated life. Indeed a very touching issue. Frankly speaking when I see that we hardly get any vocations from our own settings it looks ridiculous. Take for instance my own school. I am the only one from that school to be a Salesian. I know not if there are any who joined other congregations or dioceses. But in its 29 year old history, just one vocation? It tells something about our style of functioning.

Earlier when as a student of Philosophy helping out in the vocation camps, there used to be large number from Guntur - from our own technical school. Now I doubt if there are any from there. I'm told that among the present batch of novices there is none who was ever in touch with any Salesian or Salesian institute before reaching the aspirantate in Gunadala. Whew!!!

I do not say we Salesians do not work. But I guess we do not work properly - in ways that we are seen as men of God and committed to the responsibilities entrusted. Worse still we fear to invite young people to join us - fear because we may be asked "Why? What for?" and we do not have answers to it.

My frank opinion, if my life is worth its calling, no one will dare ask me, for the answer is there for anyone to see - just like an open book. May God help us in outlasting ourselves.

Suffering and climbing down

I liked the reflection shared by Alex this morning, something common between the Gospel of the day (Transfiguration) and the first reading (Moses willing to sacrifice his son Isaac). In both the readings the theme of climbing up the mountain is prevalent. Both the instances take place on a mountain top and both have the intervention of the supernatural. Alex however preached on the dual and integral aspect of suffering and joy in human life. He described how climbing up the mountain is synonymous with suffering and hardships one ought to face in life.

However, I thought more than climbing up the mountain, it is climbing down the mountain that is most painful. Climbing up is always with a great fervour, we have our goal set, our energies are at an all time high and nothing seems so difficult. But the climbing down... well there is nothing more to be achieved besides getting back to the plain rhythm of life and though easier by way of physical exertion, dangerous because it takes more strain on the knees and joints.

Ask that of anyone who has his knees injured!

Friday, 6 March 2009

Lenten fasting and feasting...

It's already three b'day celebrations that have gone by and we're still in the first week of Lent. Gathering for such celebrations, is always sort of funny. There are some who convincingly deny any non-vegetarian food or drinks or special items of the day - some don't turn up at all. There are others who battle out the 'moral' 'Christian' dilemma of Lenten practices and personal preferences. But what they ultimately decide to do or follow, is somewhat tinted with a sort of uneasiness.

Somehow, I feel very comfortable amidst all of this. If I decide to join a celebartion, I join whole-heartedly. I'd be there for that person and share in his joy. Rather than feel guilty about restraining myself and indulging myself, I go by what is most conducive. I'd prefer to eat meat and get up next morning and go to Church with a clear mind and conscience than deny eating what is laid before me and think about it the whole meditation time next morning!!

I know it is not the best of all practices but that is how I feel and go about. Of course, the best and first thing is to firmly decide what celebration is worth, especially in this season of prayer, fasting and reflection.


The dynamics of any meeting are interesting to observe... but not when you are involved. Sitting for the council meetings, I get a fair glimpse of how and where things proceed and can by now tell where and in what way a discussion would end. Yesterday's commission meeting too was interesting. Each of us with a different perspective trying to put our heads together for a common purpose. It was easier said than done. But in all this I should say, we gain a greater clarity - but not always. With so many elements involved, most importantly our prejudices and attitudes, things do get complicated. We intend to something, but say something else, it is understood as something else and finally recorded as something else. So there you see! The best part of all this is that it happens with the best of intentions. There is no malice or confusion, but great zeal to do the best.

Thursday, 5 March 2009


A pleasant surprise from Fr CM Paul this morning... link to a free devotional music site United Worship. I checked it out and it is great.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Excercising will or power

The latest attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team while in Pakistan and the subsequent accusation of one of the Pakistani ministers that it is the handiwork of Indians (Pak minister blames India for attack on Lanka team) is a strange twist to the whole debate of terrorism. We Indians have always thought of Pakistan as a terrorist state and viewed every Pakistani as a terrorist. Statements accusing Pakistani infiltration come easy to us. Now for once we are on the receiving end. Of course, the first reaction is to brush it off as 'bullshit'. But all the same it is good to introspect and see what it really means - and feels - like to be accused of something. Whether the accusation is right or wrong is another issue. I think we need to be fair enough to be open to such a criticism and introspect rather than jump the gun.

Our strength lies not in the amount of ammunition we have or we use but in the will power we exercise in retaining the ammunition in our stores - long enough for it to decay!

Fr Lens and his people

For the past two days we had the joy and company of Fr Lens and his niece, Hilda and grand-niece, Leela. Both came from Belgium to visit their Uncle, our beloved Fr Lens. But each of them have a very interesting 'her-story'. Leela is an adopted daughter. She was adopted when she was just 7 month old baby from Kerala. Today she is a young lady - totally Indian in appearance, but that's all! She is now working as a volunteer in Puducherry, TN with the Salesians. At times it was hard to understand her 'different' from who see appeared to be! Anyway, she is a thoroughbred Belgian!Hilda is an amazing woman. Along with her husband, she has to-date adopted 17 children besides the three sons of her own (Leela was the first to be adopted). Of these 8 are still with her at their home and most of these are physically or mentally challenged children. She showed us the photos of her children and it was very surprising how she looks after these children all by herself.

Perhaps all of this is much more understandable when I say to myself, "She is Fr Lens' neice - it runs in their blood!"

Monday, 2 March 2009

Disparities in life...

This day I witnessed the two extremes of life ... know not if I am balanced and comfortable in both. This morning in the vegetable market as two of us were carrying our vegetable sacks to our vehicle, I had some time to observe a small girl who picked up a plastic bag and began collecting all the discarded vegetables. The girl would be hardly 8-9 years old. Yet she walked about with a keen eye for any vegetable rolling off the sacks, or throw away by the vendors ... While our eyes were fixed on the best, she was very very focused. She never ever glanced at the neatly laid out vegetables. From what I observed, if she wanted she could have easily took a handful of beans, or chillies or leafy vegetables from the good stock - she was too small to be noticed in the crowd. Yet there was no such indication from her face. She was only looking out for the discarded ones.

In the evening to celebrate my b'day the Community went out for a meal. The bill at the end of our 'simple' meal dampened all our appetite and brought a lump to our throats! Well, two extreme situations of life.

However, sitting back in my office, I realise I felt more comfortable in the vegetable market amidst all the dirt and disorder than in the posh cool hotel this evening. The only consolation of the latter was the company of my community members.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Maliekal's rainbow

Fr Maliekal has his own words, phrases and ideas - fresh, crisp and laden with meaning! The latest was today's sermon... Speaking about the rainbow (Noah and the ark) he said that God's ways are like the rainbow - parabolic but man's ways are straight!

Now that's some insight! God has his own ways of reaching out to us but we always would prefer to have a direct and immediate two-way network... shorter the better!

Politics and debates

I came across the following statistics on ibnlive.in.com ... (Old guard beat young MP brigade in Parliament) concerning the young politicians and their participation in the parliamentary debates: Young MPs, those below 40 years, were the least participative in the Lok Sabha proceedings. Occupying 11 per cent of the seats, they spoke only in seven per cent of the debates. MPs older than 70 - the old brigade in Parliament - accounted for 10 per cent of seats and nine per cent of total debates.

Now this is surprising! The very young turks who boast and give talks and conduct rallies and create hysteria among people - all to win their votes - merely warm the benches in the Parliament - the place where they should be actually doing the talking? That the elderly ministers are most vociferous is quite heartening. (Of course, what and with what intention they talk is another question - but at least they talk!)

The concluding line of the article is befitting: Most young MPs will be hoping to contest elections again, making speeches and holding debates. Their constituencies hope their representatives will take their talk to Parliament too.

Kids in the Shrine! (2)

This morning I managed to find out the name of the mini Tsunami-in-the-making who I see whirling round every Mass. I was surprised to see her with Kenny - another synonym for confusion and destruction! I realised they looked related. After Mass I caught hold of Kenny and asked him what was his younger sister's name? "Angela!" What a name for what a kid!!!
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