Saturday, 31 October 2015

The real truth

Another very true and interesting experience living with children...

Is it so?

Being at Ramanthapur with children, I'm relearning very many things. One of the things is to view the world and especially the daily events and happenings from the perspective of the children.  As one with a few years in my age-kitty, I tend to see things from a particular perspective... needless to say that being in the formation setting, it is ONE way of seeing things.  Looking at what happens around the children, and viewing it from their eyes offers very very different perspectives.  I do not claim to have really learnt the art, but the small and short glimpses that I help myself to, seem very different from my own 'grown-up!' perspective.  But all said and done, viewing things from the child's perspective helps understand much of what they do, without being judgemental or prejudiced about people, especially of children themselves.

I guess if children see how we (grown ups) see things, then they'd understand why we behave so 'differently'... Dennis says it best!

Thursday, 29 October 2015

It is I

Yesterday evening as I was half way through my bath, I heard a loud voice outside my room calling out "Brother!! Brother!" and when I asked from inside who it was, the voice stated, "It is I!" (in Telugu). When not sure of what I heard, I asked again, and the same reply: "It is I." I almost ran out buck naked, thinking it is Yahweh himself... till my suspicious little brain stopped me! Everytime I asked, who it was, I got the same reply... till I shouted out to wait for 5 mins.

I later found out that it was one of the school going boys who was sent by the Assistant to collect the spare key of the kitchen.  This sort of replies are quite common with children, who presume that the one whom they are calling out "knows me"! What they do not realize is that it is quite difficult to identify someone merely by their voice, from behind closed doors (not one but two) and that too from among a group of 110 boys!

So much for sharing in the experience of Moses on Mt Horeb!

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Boys return

The school going kids are slowly returning today.  Almost all of them are happy to be back and as I have a word or two with their guardians who bring them back, the elders say that they have been restless to get back.  So far no tantrums or even tears.  As soon as they are in the campus, they are at home!

One of them made his father prepare his favourite, aloo parathas (potato chapatis) for me and as he handed it over to me, told me to report back to him about the taste!  When I told him that I shared it with the other Fathers and Brothers at lunch and that they asked me to thank him, he was beaming!

Another one was keen that I see his things which he brought from home before he deposits it all in the dormitory.  He just wanted me to see his new pair of clothes and some soaps his relatives gave him before he came here.  Just that.  Once I took a glance, off he went, proudly with his bag slung across his shoulders.

Another one came straight and hugged me with a broad smile.  The single mother was happy to see it.

However, some of them, were brought back by their parents.  I ask myself why then is the child here with us?  Why not at home with his own people?  About some of them I've already got the answers talking to the other confreres and knowing the background.  A few others, I'm still wondering, why? 


Something that was brought to my notice today as one small fellow was interacting with me, narrating to me in detail his trip to another place during the past two weeks of holidays...
For all the mistakes the children do, we adults hold them accountable and blame them, sometimes for life. Children, on the other hand, excuse so many of our major and serious offences, even those against them, as easily as a blink of an eye.  
This particular boy was narrating how the older boys in this new place were ordering and bossing over them all day and night.  When asked, weren't the other staff members or those incharge around, he so simply and honestly replied:
They surely have so much work to do... how can they be with us all the time. 

Friday, 23 October 2015

Sorting out

The other day during his sermon, Fr Joe Prabhu presented a rather simple analogy of using a simple Maruthi car or a BMW, but the road remains the same.  Whether we use a simple ordinary wrist watch or a costly rolex, time is the same. Often we get lost in the decorative rather than the essential elements of life and living.  Need to have the wisdom to sift through the non-essentials from that what really really matters.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Transformation vs make up

The Chapter discussions are interesting to note.  Among the many things that go on during a Chapter - for that matter, any meeting - there is a very subtle but significant turn that discussions take on, especially when we are talking something very important or crucial.  It is evident when we are talking or discussing about ourselves, our very being.  The discussion sooner than later, takes a detour to 'doing'.  We then end up listing a set of things to be 'done', all the while avoiding a very crucial and essential element of trying to see who we are or striving who we ought to be.  The latter makes us very uncomfortable, it challenges and questions our basics and asks us to make radical choices... for which we are not ready. We satisfy ourselves by mere cosmetic touch ups! 

Restructuring... but why?

Am just back from a rather dreadful preparatory phase of the Provincial chapter.  So far I thought I had attended the worst Chapter already... I guess, I was wrong.  The "best" is yet to come!!

One of the final points that was initiated was that of restructuring our presences.  There was quite a bit of explanation about what we would be doing and how we would go about doing this "restructuring".  However, not once did anyone at all as, Why?  Why restructure at all?  Naturally the next question of on what basis do we restructure? or what is the criteria for remodelling our communities? did not arise at all.  It was quite surprising for me to see, that without answering these questions or atleast attempting these, we have already decided to restructure!!

So much for growth and planned development!

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Directing anger

Usually we get angry only with others.  Seldom or never do we get angry with ourselves.  Br John's goodnight was an invitation to get angry with oneself... that would mean that we are willing to look into ourselves and direct our anger inward, than blame it onto someone else.

However, it is often the case that what we find most distasteful in ourselves that we hate in others.  It is actually ourselves that we are defending when we get angry with someone.  Just making sure that my skeletons do not tumble out!

True understanding

Living with the boys here at Ramanthapur, I'm learning quite a few things... one of them, knowing myself.
This morning I was asking myself, "Would I have a different approach or would I have been a different person altogether, were I to be here amidst children before I was placed in the formation setting in the Philosophates?"  I'm not really trying to answer that question this early.  Perhaps I'll be in a better position to answer that question by the end of the year or so.  But for now, one thing is quite clear:
True understanding lies outside the domain of the mind. 
Not everything and not everyone is clear and precise.  We never can really exhaust a concept, leave alone understand it fully... least of all an individual.  There are so many things involved, attached and connected to something as simple as a word or an action that it is almost impossible to claim certainty about anything or anyone. 

An opportunity

The eagle is said to live almost 70 years.  However by 40 it is already 'old' and in order to live its full life needs to make a radical and painful decision.  It retires to a lonely high place, sharpens its beak and then pulls out all its feathers... painful.  It then waits for fresh feathers and wings to grow and with it get a sort of rebirth and go on to live another lifespan! (However, I also learnt a while ago that this is a myth... that eagles do not live more than 30 years and that they do not have the possibility of extending their life cycle! Read more...)
Unfortunately, unlike the 'mythical eagle', we human beings get our full quota of life on a platter.  Very few really risk the painful process of undergoing a radical transformation to renew their lives and living. We just merely exist, some live.

We commence our Provincial Chapter tomorrow and I wonder if we are truly willing to undergo this radical transformation, which the Chapter is calling for.  One of the main points is the restructuring of our institutions/communities.  The Chapter thus truly offers a lovely opportunity but the decision is ultimately ours... mine!  

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Target the arrow

There was once a king who wanted to become the best archer in the world. He therefore set out to find a guru who would assist him in this dream of his.  After much wandering and searching, as he was passing through a hamlet, he was astounded to see several arrows strike the bulls eye in the outskirts.  On enquiry he was all the surprised to see that it was all the handiwork of a small kid.  Asked how he achieved such a remarkable feat at such a tender age, the boy replied, that's quite easy.  Can you teach me, asked the king.  The boy agreed and took lead him till they reached a rather long plank of wood in the village.  The boy strung his arrow and just as he was about to shoot, the king asked him, "But where is the target? First draw the target." The boy exclaimed, "How difficult it is to teach these adults!" Saying so, he silenced the king and no sooner did he shoot the arrow, he marched forward, picked up a piece of charcoal and drew the target around the arrow he just shot on to the plank!

Monday, 12 October 2015

Choosing God

Only if I choose, he is my God... if not, how can I believe in him?
This was the statement of one of the parents who happened to meet their child, among one of our boys here at Ramanthapur after a span of 3 years. The boy had left home in order to study. When he was referred to us by the CWC he was adamant that he would reveal the identity, location and contact details of his home and people only after completing his tenth standard.  He is presently studying in the 10th standard. Besides this his other aspiration was to receive Holy Communion. However, he was told that unless he gets the approval of his parents, he cannot be given Communion, or for that matter even be baptised.  Perhaps it was the latter reason that prompted him to get in touch with his people at home two days ago.  (He had almost forgotten his contact details. It took some search and research to really get in touch with his mother). His mother, elder brother and an uncle arrived this morning and it was a happy reunion!

While discussing his desire to become a Catholic, and asked if they have any objection to him receiving baptism, the mother promptly stated:
It is solely his choice.  We have no objection to him believing in whom he considers good and great.  
Then his uncle added
When it comes to belief, only if I choose, he is my God... if not, how can I believe in him?

Understanding the other, in myself

We always size up any new person we meet. Right before the first encounter ends, we already "catalogue" him or her.  Though we would like to say it is an unconscious process, in reality it is a very conscious and curious enterprise we all engage ourselves in. I really don't think there is nothing wrong or bad about it, in itself.  It is merely having an opinion about someone we just met and interacted with.  However, it would be immature if we convince ourselves that that is who the person wholly and truly is!  Not being open to seeing more of him or her (knowing the person more deeply) is indeed stunting our own growth.

Jesus too was asked for a sign to prove all that he said or claimed who he claimed himself to be.  The only trouble here was that people were trying to "categorize" him into a mould which they had already decided for him. They were not very keen to see him grow in them... not open to let him evolve in their understanding.  They had already fixed who he was and anything short of it, would disqualify him from "their" understanding of who he was.

Honestly speaking we only condemn or accept our image of the person we meet, and not the real person.  We land in error when we condemn or accept the real person solely on our constructed image of the person, that too from a very very limited and conditioned experience.  

In the shadows

The day before yesterday was the birthday of Br John, one of the PIME Brothers who is helping out as Assistant of the boys at Ramanthapur.  It was nice to see the boys come up with ways and means to express their love for him.  Personally, he comes  across to me as a simple straight thinking and well motivated person.  Introducing him for the cultural gathering in the evening, I spoke of two types of people.  The ones who want to shine out and make it big in life... for themselves.  Then there are those who help others grow and go on to become big in life, while they themselves are happy and contented to remain in the shadows.

I do appreciate too the time the Brothers spend with the boys.  They are there with them all day and night.  Since boys are here in all the places, at all times, it is not an easy task to be present with them, leave alone being meaningfully present at all times.  Yet, I see them both with the children round the clock.  

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Tom Sawyer and the fence

Here's one my favourite sections of Mark Twain's, Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart. And while the late steamer Big Missouri worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash. By the time Ben was fagged out, Tom had traded the next chance to Billy Fisher for a kite, in good repair; and when he played out, Johnny Miller bought in for a dead rat and a string to swing it with--and so on, and so on, hour after hour. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth. He had besides the things before mentioned, twelve marbles, part of a jews-harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spool cannon, a key that wouldn't unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass doorknob, a dog- collar--but no dog--the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel, and a dilapidated old window sash. 
He had had a nice, good, idle time all the while--plenty of company-- and the fence had three coats of whitewash on it! If he hadn't run out of whitewash he would have bankrupted every boy in the village.

Reaching the doorpost...

Some amusing quotes of a confrere who speaks... and speaks a lot!
We are at the doorpost of the great celebration... (doorstep got bungled up as doorpost)
Who is that entering my office without knowledge? ('my' got scrapped out of 'without my knowledge')

Friday, 9 October 2015

Food cooked in hair oil

Sometime after the excitement of the canonization of St Alphonsa, the Brothers from Kondadaba were gifted with a trip to Kerala. The one week "pilgrimage" was well planned and the Brothers loved it all.  Only one thing that featured in the evaluation was the following remark:
"The food was cooked in hair oil!"
They were not familiar with the fact that in God's own country, coconut is the staple diet!

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Big vs the Small

In contrast to my recent visit to Osmania hospital, today I had the opportunity to enter in Care Hospital at Nampally.  Of course, being a posh hospital of the corporate structure, the system in place was well organised, neat and smooth.  So was the price!

As I was waiting for the doctor to meet and speak about the patient whom I was there for, I was watching the many people coming in, going out, working and some walking around.  Except among the staff, all the rest of those there were strangers to one another.  However, there was the look of agony on all their faces - I'm not talking of the patients.  One might say, what else do you expect at a hospital. Well, the expression was not just of physical pain or anguish, but a weird sense of being alone in a large lonely world, a look of being lost in thought of know not what.  But a gentle smile, a kind helping hand, even if it was just to help push a stretcher or lift a garbage bin, the whole face brightens up.

We often think and pursue large and lofty goals and dreams, in the hope that we'd be happy if we get what we are after. We forget that more than those big and lofty goals it is simple acts of kindness and help that bring greater and effective cheer in our lives.  It is these small tender and unexpected deeds that grease the larger machinery of life, that keep life going.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Younger son older than the elder!

A news headline that caught my attention just now... Hilarious!

Lalu's younger son is 26, older one 25!

Considering that it is about/around Lalu, nothing surprising though! 

Monday, 5 October 2015


I'm grateful for the wrong ones
Made me appreciate the right ones
I'm grateful for the pain...
... learned a lesson, learned a lesson

Came across this particular song by Rita Ora titled 'Grateful' (it is one of the songs in the movie, Beyond the lights). Of course, did not vibe with the pain part of the song but some of the lyrics were quite touching.

Ultimately is all all about a perspective and attitude. It is very enriching and elevating to learn to bounce back than wallow in self-pity or pain!

Rise Up (Epic)

Here's the lively song from the movie Epic... know not why but wanted to listen to this song when I came back from the hospital this morning. 

I'll make you know that
When you need to take my hand
Come into my arms
I'll keep you safe from harm
I'll keep your precious heart

Some people try to tear me down
They can come each stand and be proud
You're a warrior
You're my warrior

Be who you are
Be who you are know that's life
Embark in what you see
Rise up to the wind and I will

Fight for you and me
Look into my eyes and believe
We are one we will fight we will fight
We are one we will fight we will rise
I see you and me
Take my hand and believe
We will stand we will fight we will fight
We will stand and together we will rise

Extreme experiences at Osmania Hospital

I returned from the hospital this morning, after what was supposed to be a simple drop for one of our ailing boys at Nampally home.  One of our boys was complaining of acute pain in the abdomen since midnight of Sunday.  Rushed him to a nearby hospital and the doctor suspected appendicitus.  Yesterday I took him to the city hospital for further examination and soon the emergency of the situation dawned upon the doctors and he was lined up for a surgery for a perforated intestine caused due to a burst ulcer.  Cutting the long story short, he is now recuperating post surgery and me too!  It has been quite sometime I spent time in the hospital accompanying someone and I am glad I could be of some assistance to Sai in this crucial moment.

However, my impression of my maiden experience of Osmania hospital is a very mixed one. I just couldn't imagine how a hospital, of all places, could be so filthy!!  Really, the stench, dirt, waste (human, clinical, and everything else too) does not in anyway, qualify it to be a hospital.  I was horrified to see a dog and a few puppies on the second floor of the hospital... and from the way they were walking around, it does not seem that they had wandered there but that they were living there!! And of course, there was a cat in the surgical intensive care unit, the place where I was the whole night.  Gosh!!
Photo originally found here.
That said, I was trying to understand how could such a supposedly hygenic place be so pathetic.  It did not take me long to notice that beginning with the patients to the visitors, everyone gladly adds to the filth in the hospital.  Spitting everywhere and pissing around the corners seem to be something normal and the right thing to do! Naturally, the dilapidated sections of the building too does not help much improving the hygiene factor.

Well that's one side of the picture. Balancing - or rather, out-weighing - this ghastly side, is the dedication and the work spirit of the team of doctors in the hospital.  I was only there for one day and a night and all along I saw the same team of doctors working, meeting, checking on the patients, performing surgeries and all that stuff with quite an expertise and enthusiasm.  And those free, even if for short intervals, were keenly discussing or reading thick journals and books concerning medicine! That was really something.  

Friday, 2 October 2015

At St Theresa's

I visited my home parish of St Theresa's, Sanathnagar this morning, accompanying my boys who were invited to play the band for the procession.  My first impression: the Church was more packed on Sundays than today, the feast day.  Perhaps people were yet to reach in time for the Mass.  However, the scant population was not really any sign of feast.  On the other hand, if it lends to meaningful celebration, rather than a mere noisy festivity, then it is fine with me.
I had a good opportunity to spend some time in personal prayer in the Church when most of the congregation was on its procession lap.  So it was  a good combination: half the Mass (English Mass after 4 months!) and half an hour in prayer.

To top it up, I got to meet my people from home.  It was good to see them all, especially, the two little ones.  I also happened to meet a couple of my former students, now well settled in life.  It was they who saw me and came to meet.  I'm beginning to understand that there is quite a strong presence of my former students, here in Hyderabad, besides the next campus itself (diocesan theologate!).  
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