Monday, 24 May 2010

Congrats Papa-Mummy and Goodbye Provincial house

Perhaps my last blog entry from the Provincial house ... and for sometime henceforth too. I'd be leaving for Kondadaba tomorrow evening and I know not of the internet connectivity there. But it doesn't really matter. I need to learn to live with what I have than waste time and energy mourning over what I do not have; I need to focus on what I have at hand... the rich potential of 85 Brothers!!

The day went on well... relaxed and concluded with a good hard earned meal. The Mass at Manoharabad was quite irritating. Anyway, I did pray for Papa and Mummy - it is their 33rd wedding anniversary. Visited Gagilapuram on the way and a couple of the Catholic families there. An elderly couple at that age wondering where to be - in the city with their children or in the village where they feel much at home.

In the evening, I helped out Fr Sudhakar for the arrangement of the meals, packed my luggage (managed to fit it all in one bag!) and had a long chat with Mas. His responsibility too is quite demanding given the situation of the community there. But he'll do well, I'm sure.

Well tomorrow is a day of rest. No calls, no letters, no talks, ... in short, no worries!!! I am gonna just wish everyone relaxedly and then clear out in the evening... to begin anew.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Thank you, Lord!

Today was spent in THANKSGIVING especially for all the great things the Lord helped me achieve and accomplish in the last three years of my stay in the Provincial house. It was good to relive all the significant moments of the time gone by and to see the hand of God in them all. Too often I've stolen the limelight for myself and have wanted it that way... but not today! Today was solely His, for all that He did through me!


Travelling and packing blues

A couple of extracts from a very interesting article on the hassles involved in packing for a holiday!

... even if you use a container made of out reinforced concrete, covered by liquid-proofing used in US space missiles, pickle WILL leak, but only onto your fresh new white linen blouse inside your bag. Pickle loves traveling as much as you do; pickle loves wandering off on its own to forbidden territory. So my advise is, never pack a fresh new white linen blouse in your bag.

... That is why most Indians never leave home without it, "it" being anything from a kerosene stove and kadais to make hot onion bajjiseven while on holiday, to a "holdall" which, as its name implies, holds all important household items like bedding for a family of six, checked lungis for the mensfolk to wear at night, four meters of clothesline and clips, a mini-bucket for bathing at stations, four plastic mugs, Pond's talcum powder, the bathroom mirror, a traveling pujaset with mini God pictures and battery operated diyas, a handy harmonium for singing bhajans during the journey, Ludo and Snakes and Ladders, and not to forget the handy travel-sized six kg Indian masala grinding stone. That's when you realise why India's only hope for another gold medal in the Olympics continues to be in weight-lifting.
The last line of the latter is the best!!

Building on choices

Most of us rely so much on the opinion or suggestions of others, that over a certain period of time we 'forget' to build our own values and convictions. Even when we attempt to do so, we fall back on someone else's approval or support. There are very few who really make reasoned choices and stick to them. But if need be and if they find that their choice isn't leading them up the right path, they are open and flexible enough to see better. Yet the ability to make choices and take decisions based on them is a tricky and challenging enterprise. No wonder JK Rowling has this to say about choices: It is our choices ... that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

Power corrupts ...

Over the last four days - or more - there have been several confreres and friends appreciating me for my efforts as the Secretary of the Province. It always feels good to receive such praise and support. However most of them added that this was not what I should be doing. I indeed did the job well but they all welcomed this change of 'occupation' for me. Frankly speaking, I was not very sure if I was ready to move out. I was certainly very comfortable here and I should say well-established too! But I also know that I was slowly losing touch with reality. I was in a sense building my own cocoon. Hence this transfer could not come at a better time than this.

Secondly, I realised this morning during Mass that one of the many reasons I was very 'comfortable' here was the fact that I wielded a certain amount of power. Being in the Provincial house itself is seen as some sort of an 'authority'. Add to that the fact that I was in the council - though only as the Secretary with no voice or power. But for the rest of the confreres it was something more than just a normal apostolate... being at the hub of animation and administration. What struck me today was that quote 'power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely'... well perhaps I was in a sense getting carried away.

And Jesus says, I want you to serve...!!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The Church, Scandal and Communication!

Faced with scandal, a mainstream culture that rejects Catholic values, and a slow-working internal Church structure that struggles to keep up with the 24/7 news cycle, how should Church communicators approach their tasks?

Father José María La Porte, a professor of Social Communications at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, organized a major conference for Church communicators on the theme "Identity and Dialogue," which was held earlier this month in Rome. His distinction between "fast food news" and "slow food news" is very enriching; so is the whole concept of communication, criticism and the Church.

ZENIT asked him about his opening presentation at the conference, in which he pitched several proposals for a new communications strategy. Here's the interview!

Monday, 17 May 2010

Kisi ki muskurahatoon pe ho nisar!

As I sat wrapping up my responsibilities here in the Provincial house, I was indulging myself in a little music (from the radio) when this song from the movie Anari (Raj Kapoor) came on. Fantastic song... lovely lyrics and beautiful melody. One of my all time favourite!!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Life ain't easy!

While on my way back from Afzulgunj, after dropping Fr Sudhakar at the bus pick up point, just after Nanal nagar I saw a huge procession. It was well lit and while I drove by, I noticed that there were long lamps (almost like the decorative chandeliers of some bungalows) carried by women, while the marriage party (the bridegroom and company) walked in between. What caught my attention was that most of these women (yes, all the 'lamps', nearly 2 dozen of them were carried by women only!) had small babies strapped to their chest. I really marvelled at the sleep of these small children. Such bright lights, then the deafening sound of the band, music player and the people participating in the procession (as if the traffic noise was not sufficient enough!) and the constant movement... yet the children were fast asleep.

At home, once Chris is asleep, we all have to enter into the 'retreat' mode... total silence. Any small noise, as much as a ladle falling, will waken him and he will bring the house down with his cries. As I was sharing with Mummy the other day, the children of those who work at the school construction site are there all day long... in the sun, the dust, mud, cement, and all possible things you can imagine at a construction site... but all fit and healthy. While at home, we take such 'great care' to shield Chris from the sun, the heat, the light, the sound... even from Sandy (our dog)!

Life is never easy... the faster one learns this fact, the better!

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Saying "goodbye"

I'm practically all set to say goodbye to the Provincial house. Just a couple of undertaken tasks that I have to complete and I'd be totally at peace in leaving this place with a very great consolation: that what was entrusted to me was done to the best of my ability.

There is the distribution of the school stationery and uniforms that is scheduled for May 22. Once I plan, coordinate and finish that... it's over! For the rest, I've passed on all information and knowledge to those concerned about the various responsibilities I shouldered during my three year stay here.

Looking back at the three years that I spent here, I cannot but marvel at all that I was able to accomplish. My second year here was a real miracle... I still cannot believe I survived and thrived that year (given the numerous responsibilities I carried out and the things I was able to complete and accomplish). I leave this community on May 25 and am happy that I did my best. The new assignment as 'dean of studies' at Kondadaba opens up a new field of apostolate for me... one different from what I was engaged in for the past three years. I look forward to that with great zeal and hope!

Friday, 14 May 2010

Tamil cinema and reality

As I sat and watched some Tamil cinema a while ago, a thought flashed across my mind. Their movies, most of them are so raw, so earthy... very much close to the reality of the time. Their actors and contexts are shot in real life situations or made to appear very much down to earth. No make up, no much of NRI stuff... It may appear as though the producers and directors are primarily making movies for the low middle class and the working class group. But their acting and story line portrayal, the dialogues and messages conveyed are truly very powerful and sharp. In Hindi cinema, there are very few such portrayals... earthy, realistic and packed with a powerful message.

Humanity beyond caste ... 'we persons'

Among the many things and papers I discarded today, was the whole sets of papers regarding the ACPI seminar we had on Postmodernism and another one on the Subalterns. I hadn't even picked them up since I attended the seminars nearly a decade ago! Most people find packing a very laborious and time-consuming process. For me, it is very fast and I enjoy it. My policy is simple: what I have lived without for more than two years, I will not need it in a lifetime. Furthermore, what fits in two bags is necessary... the rest is burden!

Anyway, while glancing through the notes and reflections I had scribbled along the margins and in the free space of those seminar notes , I found something interesting.
We have a feeling of 'we' in every aspect except as 'we persons'.

Immediately my mind drifted back to the conversation I had with a confrere today. It was all along the caste lines. As he sat there talking in those terms, I once again thanked God and Mummy-Papa... for somehow all this talk does not really enter my head and I find it all illogical. In spite of so many years of formation and prayer, we still get entangled so badly in as menial and degrading things as building our relationships on the basis of caste.

About children and dogs!

As I almost finished my packing... mostly of notes and books, my eyes fell on one of my favourite books during my M.Ph. (at Nashik)... Philosophical Investigations by Ludwig Wittgenstein. As I flipped the pages and glanced at some of the underlined text, the following sentence caught my attention:
A child has much to learn before it can pretend. A dog cannot be a hypocrite, but neither can it be sincere.

Wow! What a statement! No wonder people prefer to remain a child... to be able to be themselves, without pretensions and masks.

Tiny drops make the ocean!

The whole day was practically spent in passing on learnt knowledge, especially about the website and the BIS office to Kishore. Explaining to him the nitty-gritty of the whole exercise that we underwent and the logic with which things were put together made me realise how much of work was put in at the national level by Fr PT and his group. Of course, we too have put in our efforts for our Province website. Looking back at times, when I would get irritated that things were not moving in the direction that I wanted them to progress with regard to the website and the communication system, I now realise we did indeed cover much ground in the past three years. Though only one segment of the communication network, the online presence has been worked upon with great intent. I am happy I also had the assistance and could rely on the DB DIGITS staff (Sheeba, Mallesh and Sushma) for this task.

Well as of now, am passing the baby to another set of hands... would be happy to see it grow in its own way.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

A walk down memory lane

I spend nearly 6 hours clearing the office of all my personal stuff. Not that it was so scattered and disorganised that it took time for me to gather it up, but I just took my own sweet time to go through some of things that perhaps I never noticed or read for more than five years! Among the many things that I read and glanced through, was my collection of b'day cards from home. I don't remember which year I got this, but it is surely more than 4 years old. This one was decorated by Willy with all cartoons and what not describing our family (of only 4 then)... of course, Sandy (our dog) too featured in the card!!

Then there were invitation letters and letters of appreciation from my students and companions at various occasions. Then there were those small notes that used to come from Fr Lens, before we started corresponding through the e-mail. Well it was good feeling nice about myself through the eyes (and words) of others. A couple of things more and with that I completely wrap up my responsibility as the Secretary. Kishore will need time to settle in, but I'm sure he will do his best. I've been his Assistant and I know he will give his best.

From home to home

Am now back in the Provincial house after a two week holiday at home. As I stood waiting for the bus at Erragadda bus stop, I finally said to myself, 'I did lay round like a log at home, this time!'. I had been avoiding to accept this fact since quite a few days. I was also tempted to tell Mummy this a couple of days ago... but never managed to gather enough guts to speak it out. Somehow the dam broke as I alighted from the bike at the bus stop. Papa had come to drop me and after I sought his blessing he said something at which I just cried! As far as I remember, this is the first time, ever that I cried when leaving home.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Anniversary... second!

Today (on May 11) was Willy and Roshni's second wedding anniversary. It is amazing how fast time flies!! It looks just like the other day that we drove down to Mangalore for the marriage. An today that small brat, Chris (Kichu-minku) is home and that too five months old!! Time really flies!! We attended Mass and the evening Rosary in the Parish and at last I visited the Adoration Chapel put up by Fr Balaswamy. I should say, it is quite a place. I remember Benji speaking of it highly when he came to India last.

Anyway, may God bless Willy-Roshni and Chris! May God be with them and they with Him!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Interreligious Dialogue

I was reviewing a book on interreligious dialogue between Christianity and Islam by a Catholic Priest. Somehow, I found the book wanting on several fronts:
  • There is no mention of Jesus Christ at all!! I took it for granted that Jesus would be one of the key figures discussed in the book besides Muhammad and Abraham... but to my shock he is not there!! I wonder what dialogue is the author talking about between Christianity and Islam without the very person of Jesus!!
  • Secondly there seems to be an overwhelming 'Christian' overdose in the text. (Now, that I cannot mention in the review!! Even if I did, the editor would chop it off!!). When I say 'overdose' I do not mean the 'normal prejudice' I expect the author (being a Catholic Priest) to have. But a sensible balance when speaking of 'dialogue' between two religions and cultures.
  • Perhaps my criticism springs from the lessons I learnt from Fr Ivo and his classes at Divyadaan (Nashik) on Religious pluralism. Dialogue is much more than openness and willingness to listen to the other. It is a passion to share what I have, coupled with the openness to receive what the other has to offer, in all his or her being. Furthermore, there are various levels at which dialogue is possible. The present author seems to be totally ignorant of it or has conveniently chosen to leave aside that aspect of it. The greatest merit in a genuine interreligious dialogue is the discussion of - or atleast the ambiance to discuss - the most thorny issues. This books clearly evades them all.
  • As for primary resources, for Christian thought it is the Scriptures, Vatican II docs and the Papal talks. And for the Islamic interpretation?? Sacred Scriptures (The Quran) and just a couple of Islamic thinkers whom the author considers an authority. What about the Shariat, if not of every nation, at least the ones considered most authoritative?

Kasab and Modi

Just two or three days ago there was a large hue and cry raised about Kasab and the impending sentence. Well at last when the sentence was pronounced, I found it quite absurd that he should be given the death sentence for four reasons and someone else who has more of those charges (and proved guilty) would be ruling a state! I'm talking about Narendra Modi. If Kasab has been sentenced to the gallows for murder, attempt to murder and waging war against the state then Modi would be guilty by the same charges!

I wonder who would nail him!

Friday, 7 May 2010

Mahabaleshwar reflections...

As for some of my reflections about our trip... (nothing against or for anyone, just random thoughts that still linger in my head):
  • All along the way I saw houses/homes of people in such remote, God-forsaken places, with practically no modern facilities that we often think life would be impossible without. Yet people did live and did appear quite contended and happy too. No electricity (that implies no fan, no light after sunset, no a/c... imagine that in the heat of the summer), no phone lines, no supermarket and malls, no grocery stores, no schools,... Having got accustomed to living all the while in an office with light, fan, net, computer I was feeling so jittery without these just for two days. And here were people living blissfully, what if even totally ignorant of the very existence of these things.
  • Willy had all along planned the route and the locations for our visit. However, relying only on the internet or tourist map was of no great help. The best I felt was to ask people along the way. That way we got to interact with people and listen to them, mostly in their own language (Kannada or Marathi). Though of course, not all who directed us were right! But it was worth it.
  • The hard work of the fellows working at Mahabaleshwar: the various tourist spots we visited, the cottage where we stayed, and especially at the hotel where we had our meals. Very pleasant and at their jobs. Of course, had they been smarter than that they would not have ended up as waiters and house-keepers! But where they were they did their best.
  • Then there were the tourists and their kids... that was a view in itself! People from all over the country for their own interests and enjoying themselves in so varied a degree. Some kids more worried about the cricket match or the cartooon programme being aired on the hotel TV than the food set before them; parents trying to get their children to stay put in one place while they bargained for a pair of attractive footwear (something totally out of the world for the children!); people looking out for what others are ordering for meals at the restaurants; the elderly keen to be getting in and out of the caves and mountains along with their grandchildren but unable to do so and therefore sitting and keeping guard over their belongings; the confused mother who is pulled in two different directions by her two kids just because each one sees what he wants in two different shops!

The Castilinos' at Mahabaleshwar

I'd been out and in of the house itself for quite sometime now. Our trip to Mahabaleshwar was great... thanks to Willy for planning, arranging and facilitating the whole excursion. Here are a couple of photos from that lovely trip...

The best are those of our Kishu-minku (Chris, my nephew)!!!
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