Thursday, 28 June 2012

Vicky Donor

Last night I watched Vicky donor and was quite happy to have watched something worthwhile in a long time.  I basically liked the movie, though would not approve of the basic ethical values behind the whole concept of sperm donation and artificial insemination.  Anyway, this movie had its own charm and my personal convictions would not in any way, prevent me from appreciating the good aspects of the movie.

The best I liked of the movie was the manner in which the delicate issues of infertility and sperm donation are handled.  Given the fact that these are not topics one hears in public domain with an open mind, there was a great possibility that the director (Shoojit Sircar) and the core crew make a farce of it - and yet earn a profit.  However, the movie does not in any way demean or make a mockery of these sensitive issues.  And still make a great movie.  Hats off to them for it.  The focus is not the ethical debate nor the commercialisation of the act; it is the pain of longing for a child.

Personally I liked the characters of Vicky and that of his grandmother.  I liked the latter for her attitude to life and modern living, though chronologically she would be the eldest in the whole cast.  One of my proposals for a better humanity, that of adoption of little orphaned children, forms the conclusion of the movie (that too, in fulfillment of a suggestion of the granny) - and I'm happy for it.

The character of Vicky's father-in-law too has a significant contribution to make. Towards the end, he questions his daughter: Are you hurt because he was a donor or because he did not reveal this to you or because you cannot get pregnant while he can become a father? That's quite a sharp question demanding a very deep introspection.

As by way of living out the character, Vicky does it the best.  The evolution of the man from the youngster is portrayed well by Ayushmann Khurrana (Vicky).  In the beginning he is nothing but a playful brat and by the end of the movie he is a doting father.  This transformation is not something that happens with some single tragic event but is brought about because of his love for his wife.  This transformation sets in smoothly and one cannot miss it.

On the whole, a good movie, worth watching - could also be used to provoke a healthy discussion on ethical issues involved.  

Tuesday, 26 June 2012


Last year the power cuts were regular and very timely.  We knew when the power would go off and when exactly we would have it back.  However for the past couple of months, it has been totally erratic.  Besides an increase in the timing of powercuts, the erraticity has put us in a very difficult situation as with regards to our 'normal' activities  (Putting on the motors for water, using LCD for classes, use of the computer lab, printing purposes... all go haywire).  Of late the department has started cutting power at nights as well.  At times it is for an hour or most often for an hour and half.  Even this does not have a fixed timing.  So when this evening when the power went off at 7.25 pm - that's the time we start our evening prayers - and came back at 8.25 pm - that's when we were almost concluding our supper - we "rejoiced".  This timing (or rather the cut, timed) with our evening prayer and supper - both of which does not require electricity as we can very well manage with the battery power. So we were saying to one another, this time is ideal.  However, it occurred to me that we never questioned why at all there should be a power cut at all? 

Monday, 25 June 2012

The best of me in your eyes

The best line of this song... "... I see the best of me inside your eyes..."

Not a bad day

It was during one of the hectic and crazy days of last week, that I heard the following passage being read as part of the spiritual reading in the Chapel:
Blessed John Tauler, the fourteenth century Rhenish mystic and Dominican theologian, prayed for eight years that God would send him a person who would be able to point out to him the true way to perfection.  ... 
Tauler found on the steps of the church a beggar in rags, with feet bare, wounded and caked with mud. He greeted the beggar with the words: "May God give you a good day" to which the beggar answered:  "I do not remember ever having a bad day." 
As those words and the enumeration of the beggar to Bl. Tauler poured into my ears, my heart and mind, traced back the day and I found questioning myself: Can I too utter those same words with the same conviction of the beggar?  ... Not a bad day!  

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Violating English

For the past one week there have been two Brothers to attend to the confrere in the hospital, round the clock.  They periodically call me to report about his condition.  Initially the confrere was prone to sudden bursts of violence and anger.  Here's what one of the Brothers kept telling me, during such bouts of anger, till I corrected him:
He is violated ... 
Luckily no human right activist overheard him!  

Just a little bit!

While at table the other day, Fr Maliekal was sharing about a confrere offering consolation to him about a troublesome member in the community.  Not very well versed in English, the confrere offered the following suggestion to Fr Maliekal:
What to do Fr Maliekal, some people need tampering! 
What he meant was pampering! However, some really need some tampering too! 

Strength of your word...

Here's a quote from the sermon I heard this morning:
The strength of your word lies in the depth of your silence. 
My interaction with the Brothers over the years has been very formative for me!  Over the years I've realised that I too have grown - perhaps more than those whom I'm supposed to 'form'.  During my early days of apostolate I was quite short-tempered - so am I even today.  However, the difference is that back then I would give vent to my anger then and there and blast the Brothers.  Today, I'm more prone to be silent and take an appropriate action only after I feel my heartbeat steady and my mind a little more relaxed.  Often a mere look suffices, where earlier I would let out a volley of remarks.  

Asking too little

The past one week was so dramatic that it struck me like a jolt that today is already Saturday!  I always think that the most craziest part of life is behind me... that nothing more demanding and hectic can ever happen that what already has.  And yet, I'm proved wrong every time and all the time.

It was last Saturday that we realised one of our confreres was tripping on his medicine and loosing his psychic balance.  He is one of those rare cases when a brilliant memory rather than become a blessing turns out to be a curse.  However, his outbursts on Sunday sent the whole community into a tizzy, with everyone hiding behind closed doors, literally.  It was much like the post crucifixion scene - with a difference!  It was only me and the confrere, who were out in the open, the whole night.

I love this confrere much and have been with him in his earlier moments of similar health crisis.  But this Sunday was something I never experienced - nor do I wish to have a repeat of it ever again.  All through the night I was praying, walking by his side, that the good Lord stay with us till I get him to the doctor the next morning who would sedate him.

The next morning when I did manage to take him to the hospital and get him to take the injection, I broke down!  More than gratitude to God almighty, it was the sorrow of seeing someone so good, being treated for something which he himself is not aware of.  Since then it has been a different prayer on my lips and in my heart: Lord be with him, for You know best.  If it us that You want to teach a lesson, give us the wisdom to learn it well... but certainly not at his expense.

Another aspect that I realised was how little I was asking the Lord for.  It was like to undermine what He can. When the Lord can certainly make him well or at least bring to normalcy (what we consider sanity), I was asking His help to get him sedated.  So now I pray: Lord be with him!

Monday, 11 June 2012

Brothers arrive at Kondadaba

The Brothers arrived yesterday evening and soon after Mass I conducted a short interaction for the whole community to facilitate knowing one another.  It turned out well.  In all this year we would be 70 in all (64 Brothers and 6 staff members). I think this is perhaps the least number so far in the history of this seminary for a three year cycle batch.  The last I remember was that there were 60 for the last two year cycle of this Seminary in 2000, when I was the Assistant here.

I've not really got into the dynamics of the community and the Brothers as I had my exam today.  I was least prepared for this day's Social and Political Philosophy. Luckily for me, I got the same questions that were asked for the assignment which I wrote just a couple of hours prior to the exam.  Except for one question, of which I had absolutely no hint about the answer, the rest were a roller-coaster.  However, I did attempt the 'impossible' one too.  

Of food and cutlery

Again during the tenure of Fr M.C. Abraham as the administrator at Ravulapalem, there was once a new set of cutlery laid out on the confreres table. Quite happy and proud of his 'elevation of standards' he asked Fr V. T. John, of happy memory, his opinion about the new spoons and forks.  He did not expect this:  "They are fine but of what use if there is nothing to poke this fork with!" was Fr John's reply.

Coffee and world war II

Fr M.C. Abraham while at Ravulapalem as the administrator, was quite stringent with the meals ... of the children.  The boys used to be served coffee without sugar.  Coming to know of this, Fr M.T. Sebastian asked Fr M.C., "I thought the World War II was over!"

Fr Panampara departs...

This evening as I came out of the exam hall and checked my cell phone for the missed calls and messages that kept pouring in during the exam, I was surprised to see the message announcing the death of Fr Panampara Abraham. I came back to the house and immediately put down these few lines for the news announcing his death for the website... here it is.

Something more about him a while later.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Container and the contents

Here's another way of expressing Mathew 9:17... (the one that speaks of new wine in old wineskins and all that stuff)
I'm going to give you a new vision of the world that you will taste like new wine, but it isn't going to make a bit of difference unless you have some new wineskins.  If there are not new structures that reflect the new attitude, then even the attitude will be lost.  Both container and the contents must be renewed - or they will both be lost.
A so-called new attitude  inside an old world order that we accept uncritically will finally dilute and even destroy the very attitude.  It's not enough to talk about some kind of new inebriating wine, some new wisdom, without new wineskins, new structures, a new world order. 
[Richard Rohr, Jesus' Plan for a New World: The Sermon on the Mount (Mumbai: St Pauls, 2009) 42.]

 That was my point of meditation this morning.  Made a lot of sense, especially while I was reviewing some of those things which I thought were very challenging but nothing followed... within me. I guess it was new wine but the wineskin was still old.  Got to constantly be the new wineskin too, and not just secure some new wine!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Sticking to reality... not the change

From what I gather in the news and other sources, there is utter chaos and real blood all over Syria.  Initially there was lot of enthusiasm and coverage of what was up and happening in Syria.  However, it has become 'stale' now to see, watch, hear and read of it... that too over the months.  We, 'news-crazy' people want to hear new things, not the same old bits, and of course not of the same place and event!

Syria was almost off my radar, when about a week ago I realised that news of Syria kept hitting the 10 most important news items on my news reader.  (I guess it is also because people have been keeping track of the events there at the international level, not necessarily at the national or local level.)  It is then that I started taking note of the events and happenings there... rather than just bypass those news bits for other 'latest' happenings.

Perseverance and consistency (for the right and best of virtues) are not always the most cherished values of our times... certainly not of media producers and consumers.  It takes a lot to stick to reality than to happily bounce from change to change!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Exam thrills

After nearly nine years of thinking, planning, postponing, applying, and rethinking, I got down to write my M.A. exams today.  Three hours of sitting in the heat of Vizag was quite a scare.  However, I did manage it well.  It was not at all an issue... perhaps because I was already drenched in sweat by the time I reached the exam centre.  However, what surprised me was that I did manage to write for three hours. Thank God, no cramps and aches to prevent or slow me down.

Besides all this, the hall comprising of 18 of us students and another guy whom by mistake we discovered was the invigilator, was nothing short of a youth club on a Sunday afternoon.  Most of the time, the invigilator was talking, and when he was silent, the students were!  A couple of the students literally sat through two complete hours without putting pen to paper.  One lady behind me had no clue of any single idea of the subject she was to write - and the subject she had chosen?  Philosophy!  The one infront of me spend half his exam time sifting through the umpteen number of slips he brought trying to find out which one had the right answer to the question in the paper.  Another lady knew only hindi and not a word of telugu.  The interaction between the invigilator and her was another drama!

Well, one down and another four more to write off!  

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Exam blues - this time of myself!

Preparing for my M.A. exams has been more difficult that I imagined it to be.  Given all the petty and crazy things to be done in and around the house in preparation for the next academic year, I knew that study would be hardly a reality.  Add to that my inability to sit in one place with a book in hand. And of course, the scorching heat (officially, the worst in 17 years).

Basically it has been my laziness and sense of procrastination that sees me sweating it out on the eve of the exam.  It is almost midnight and I am yet to read - leave alone revise - more than half of the resource material provided by the university.  The very fact of sitting in the heat (from 2 to 5 in the afternoon) and writing - wow, something I last did decades ago! - scares me.  Anyway, I've nothing to lose.  

Summer heat

With temperatures soaring above 46 degrees, and the heat showing no sign of reducing, life is really one hell of an experience these days.  Add to that the 18 hrs of power cut that we have and one has a perfect recipe for life in hell.   For those of us staying indoors and occasionally venturing out for some works, it is such a penance, I cannot imagine what it would be for those who have to earn a living, out in the open.

As I was at the railway crossing the other morning in the jeep, I overheard the small tea and tiffin shop lady narrating her woes to no one in particular.  With the powercuts at night too her work has become easier, she said.  The mixie does not work, so she has to grind the rice using the traditional rolling stone.  The fact that in this heat sleeping without the fan is near to impossible, provides her with more than enough time to grind the rice.

It is true, that she was being sarcastic about the 18 hrs powercut but she still was seeing something that she could do in that deplorable situation.  No sleep, no electricity for making thing easier, no respite from the heat in which they have to sell their tea and idlis during the day.

With all the comforts and luxuries of life, we curse and grumble.  It is always a humbling lesson to live a life of struggle and then begin to administer goods of comfort - without forgetting the past. Only then gratitude and contentment will be the hallmark of such a person.  

Friday, 1 June 2012

Vow of stability

Fr Maliekal arrived this morning... as the new Rector of this Seminary.  And with him, comes a vast experience and most importantly a volley of phrases and vocabulary... interesting, enriching, reflective and of course, amusing.  So here's one of the day: Vow of stability.

After supper we were talking of confreres who love to travel.  Those kind who are found in other communities (most often other than Salesian communities) than their own.  Referring to such, Fr Maliekal pointed out that they really lack the 'vow of stability'.  To be able to settle down in one place and be at the task entrusted, rather than tour the whole world for no valid reason.

Now, I'm sure, this is just to begin with. As days go by, there would be plenty such! 
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