Who are you?

for poem -who are you

Who are you

Is the question today;

Which region, country, or culture?

Is there a difference?

I meet men and women,

Rich and poor,

Of different race, religion, nationalities.


Who are your parents ?

Where is your family?

What binds or separates you

From others?

Can you understand?

I don’t !


I struggle to know,


If we belong to the human race,

Is there a difference in

Being human or just  a human being!

What is more powerful?

Love or hatred!


Have you considered :

To be strong is to be resilient,

That love overcomes fear ,

Behind every face ,

There is a story to tell.

We belong to one big family.


So I ask again.

Who are you?

Do you understand?


The Trees Passer


The little fellow Tim the sparrow flitted about searching for tasty morsels from the plants ; alongside was  Tiny his partner also foraging.  Most of  the gang of crows led by Doug unofficially claim the area of the huge Mayflower tree as their own.

Then far above we have a visitor McMoran. He is of medium size and has a tinge of green on his wings and head. He has an awkward squark and darts from one branch to another. Do I know his breed? He looks good and is very rarely seen in the vicinity.

What can you expect then? Lets count Doug and his gang. ..about a dozen, and getting into a frenzy.

“ Is that how you guys welcome me , a tourist ? “ questions McMoran

“ Says who? Are  you are a  tourist? “ caws Doug. “ You look like a trespasser.”

An upset McMoran squawks back “ And who decides who am I”

“ The May flower tree  has existed since the past 60 years; my great-grandparents nested here.” Replied Doug.

A nonchalant McMoran continued moving among the topmost branches . Who can stop him?

The chorus of caws increases, and strangely….subsides . The gang of crows realized that , numbers do not matter.    Courageous McMoran did not get blown away  by the aggressive crows.

What about Tim and Tiny. They finished their search for tasty  morsels and have enjoyed their time in the sun. Did they get overawed by the number of crows and their size?

Each is gifted differently. The ability to  use their gifts will decide their  future.  Every weakness is compensated by a strength.  What about the crow?  Does his appearance deceive you?

The crow is one of the most intelligent and sturdy birds. No wonder , beauty in this case does not matter. They care for their young and mourn for those who die.

Sparrows though small, send their young out early and they begin to fend for themselves.

Who was the visitor ? Dear reader, you need to help me as I can only describe this quiet tourist.

Lets hope he comes again with more of his kind. And may he be welcomed by all the natives of the good ole May Flower tree.




‘Ye shall know the truth and the truth will set you free.” ( John 8:32)

Man has fought for freedom. To be free from all that chains one’s liberty.

So what is freedom? I wonder at the world around me. But then I see the birds in the sky , some on the trees above me. They languish  among the foliage. Their only  concerns are for the next morsel of food or to build a nest for the young. They stretch and sing and fly to different places.

I hear the screech of the parrot. Does anyone tell it to stop its sound ? Who defines boundaries and territories? Each one to his own place in this land. Who governs their lives? Who provides for their food, shelter and protection?

Yes no government can meet with standards to govern nature. Its only our beloved Father God our Creator who knows best. He has given each a measure of ability to live.

So what is freedom?

I may share what is not freedom. When a man subjucates another to deprive him of living a full life- and forces his way of thinking on another; then it is the beginning of slavery. It is also when truth is covered by lies, so that the common man is deprived of knowing his rights .

Any wonder that Rabindranath Tagore in his poem shared  his view on  ‘true freedom’

Where the mind is without fear

…Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high

Where knowledge is free

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments

By narrow domestic walls

Where words come out from the depth of truth

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way

Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit

Where the mind is led forward by thee

Into ever-widening thought and action

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake’ ……..

Man begins to live a life of freedom where there is trust and no fear.

So when you know the truth , the truth shall set you free.

Pilate said to Jesus, ”What is truth?” (John 18:38)

Have you sought this answer?

Seek the Lord first and you will find all the answers.

‘’ Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock, the door will be opened to you.

For the one who asks always receives; the one who seeks always receives; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. ‘  (Luke 11:9-11)

And Jesus goes on to say ….’ If you then who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

So when you effectively pray and ask then and only then
will you discover the truth and you shall be free indeed.

Then you will understand why the birds and the fish and animals  live a life free of worries.

They trust their Creator implicitly for all their needs.

You will know then, that there is no need to stress and strain over what to eat and what to drink and what to wear. ( Luke 11:29) Your heavenly Father well  knows  you need them(Luke11:30b)

Know also that there are consequences, when man is deprived of his liberty or freedom.

History is replete with examples , that highlight good or bad govenance.

So once again, “ You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” . ( John 8:32)

Smell the Coffee




I sit out on my terrace with the overhanging Gul Mohur tree. As I sip my coffee  and enjoy the grilled cheese  sandwich , I realize that I am  actually beginning to   smell the coffee.

The past two months have been so hectic, that there was just no time to stand (or sit)and stare. November and December vanished like the wind.

Memories flood back, and I savor all the visitors from far and near and specially my family visiting from London. Our home was so full ,  that naturally we were all out of our comfort zones but still happy.   A hasty hunt would either help discover things I needed  or leave  me dazed at being unable to do so.

It was a mix of meetings, both serious and also of fun. Travel became a part of this time, when we visited our home town in Goa. There was a week end at Matheran a hill station. And I did get an opportunity to walk ( a really long walk) with a Brother from London and was so fatigued that I also lost my favorite Nike cap. The most beautiful moment I treasure was to see my dining table surrounded by all my children and also two grandchildren. An eventful birthday celebration was preparing a ‘go jetters’ cake for my 4 year old grandson; he celebrated it with a few friends and later with the orphan children at Mother Teresa’s Asha Dhaan. My second daughter’s, birthday was eventful as her special friend proposed to her and there was an engagement the next day, in the presence of our two immediate families.

I wonder how these months passed. Christmas was so eventful ; there were moments of quietness in the Advent Recollection , Joyful  Thanksgiving services, Children’s Christmas parties, and one of the first ever…when the Eucharist was celebrated in the neighbourhood Cross Oratory for those of our sick and aged members who are unable to attend the church services.

These were times I was called upon to help in different ways. It was challenging but rewarding.

Then the New Year started with a bang!

We had our own Community Council meetings and Team meetings followed by presenting the Thrust for year 2018 for my church community. Through this also, it was only the Lord that I could rely for guidance .

And now as I gaze up to the widespread branches with the leaves providing cover from the midmorning sun, I see the pigeons, crows, wood barbets, all at peace.

Do they ever have a fast paced life? I see them preening their feathers. The crow cawing lazily. The wood barbet carefully observing me , a little away from the little round hole he pecked away in the bark, some days ago.

Looks like its time for his family to begin.

Then I remember this quote from  St Bernadette to her Sisters

“ Do not just be a channel for grace, but a reservoir, an overflowing reservoir. No sooner has a channel received grace than it pours it out. A reservoir waits to be filled up and then offers grace to those who come to draw from its superabundance.

If you do not act wisely, you exhaust yourself in senseless work.” (The Private Notes from the book ‘ A Holy Life –  The Writings of Saint Bernadette of Lourdes’)

Yes it makes sense to “smell the coffee” , with a friend and at times even when you are alone.

But really, are you ‘alone’ ?

‘ And know that I am with you always; to the end of time.’  ( Matthew 28:20b)

So the next time you have your coffee ( or even tea) savour the moment, listen……. and

……. and let your thoughts flow…………..

let your thoughts flow…………..

In Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28)


Life is a series of  stages and we move from one stage to another. I was young and had a different perspective towards age. Oft times I wondered why do retired people still seek to work when they should think of the many youngsters waiting to get suitable jobs.

However now the tables have turned. I am on the older side. Yes I still think it a good thing to help the young people get jobs. But then there are opportunities even for a person at my age. So which is better : to rust or to wear out.

I am reminded of this quote “ In Him we live and move and have our being.” So I begin to understand that at the different stages of life , the calling starts changing.

Its only when we are aware of the indwelling Holy Spirit that true wisdom and understanding begins  to take place. The Holy One helps me to discover more and more of the numerous gifts and talents that He has blessed me with. There is of course one corollary: Will I use this for myself selfishly or for the common good.

My perspective will change once I understand this. What I receive I share and help others.

The more I do this . the more am I blessed. The Dead Sea is an example of ‘receiving;’ without ‘sharing’ or ‘giving’. There is no life in the Dead Sea; this may also happen to a person who is selfish.

At this moment I thought of writing on the ‘Empty Nest’ Syndrome. But that would be a bit too pessimistic. When the Lord has blest me so much, who am I to cling to my children?

‘They come through you but not from you,

and though they are with you yet they belong not to you,

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts,

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams’ ….quoting Khalil Gibran.

So this Christmas when my whole family returns to India , to celebrate with Anjean and I, it is indeed time to rejoice. I will not think that it is only for  a short time and after that back to a quiet existence. As one preacher said “ Live every moment” as every moment is a gift from the Lord.

Advent is indeed a time of preparation. In a bigger way it is a renewed waiting for the Child Jesus in our hearts. I am so excited as I will indeed see my  grandchildren Samuel and Mary Ann and my children. Memories flood back to my childhood, when I too waited for Christmas . I may not have understood the full meaning of Christmas, but at that time it was Toys, Sweets and Family time…..Santa Claus a fantasy , which collapsed when we turned 11years old and  told the truth. The birth of Jesus , gradually took on a deeper meaning.

So what next? Families will come and go….. Come January normalcy may return. But will it?

There is One who is changeless. Let the mountains and hills disappear, and the seas roar away; the biggest miracle awaits , when you and I encounter the Holy One.  I don’t think I will ever regret this aging process. (By the way, a child begins to get old from day one)

There will be challenges, victories and defeats, sufferings, and failing health….but wait a moment……I will share something very special …I am one day closer to meeting my Lord face to face. This is a very reassuring reality. Do I want to go to heaven ? Yes for sure.

Then I too realise that I cannot experience the next stage without dying. Are you afraid? Am I afraid? Well when I forget the truth of who is with me then these are the few moments.

So it is important to know “ In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28) , then joy will take over from sorrow, and then we can look at every day with hope for eternity.

Is there no room in the Inn?

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‘and remember always to welcome strangers for by doing this, some people have entertained angels.’ ( Hebrews 13:2a)

What is it to host a visitor?  It means..  a willingness to give up some of your space.

Hosting with  great  desire and enthusiasm can have a tremendous impact on guests.

Our experience at our home in Mumbai, of caring for visitors from various countries, has given us  great joy. Some of these have helped us in our Community way of way of life  to be lived in the Christian context…in todays world..

Our love for hospitality has given Anjean and I the desire to  try our dishes from various  cuisines .  Dishing out these …to our guests is an added bonus , when positive comments flow in.

Our home is special….but our hearts are large enough to accommodate as often and as many as we can. Of course when it comes to surrendering our bedroom, it is a small sacrifice compared to the joy of hosting.

We are ably helped by Sushila,, but it is most often all hands on deck.

Our children have seen us hosting, and now do the same in their new homes..

Some of the remarks we heard from our guests are very amusing

“ Now tell me if I have got the ingredients right for this dish…while passing I got the aroma and think this is it.”

“ I eat what is placed before me” …no fuss at all.

“Wow, I am tasting  such hearty breakfast with eggs and bacon after a long time.” Being away from home.

“ Your pastas and swiss roll are exquisite”..

But the goan sausages and pullao always bring out the best comments.

This hosting experience has led us to  try our hand at hosting in Goa , through Airbnb , which is an international hosting site. For the past 20 years our apartment in Miramar was our holiday home. So it was only during the summer holidays that as a family , we visited Goa and spent at least a month ( for me only 15 days due to work )

The journey from Mumbai to Goa by car  was always an adventure.  We would load the car with practically everything needed, from the guitar, keyboard, violin , and cricket bats, badminton rackets etc. and all other requirements needed for a long stay.

Loading the car was a ceremony , the previous night. We then left early next morning with only one driver(myself) and a navigator( Anjean) …to tell me what was ahead, or keep talking to prevent me from sleeping on the wheel. At the rear , our 4 children would be seated. Stops for breakfast , midmorning tea, lunch and evening tea, ended with our arrival in Goa.

On the way if the children had any arguments , my reprimand followed with“ I will stop and offload any one fighting “  which would stall heated discussions for a better seat or to avoid the sun beating on the person affected.

Entry into Goa was the most thrilling moment. In the early days, we sailed in the steam ships which took 24 hours to reach Goa from Bombay ( now Mumbai),….the next morning , we awoke to  a view of the sunrise, white beaches and the beautiful entry into the Panjim bay of Betim…who can forget the green of the palm  trees and pine trees on the fringe.

Times have changed and now it is either the flight or rail or road ( bus/car)

The latest is the ‘Tejas’ – a luxury super fast train fully airconditioned , which reaches Goa in 9 hours.

As I write this I see the best of this Konkan region fully forested and rivers and lakes and even water falls, as the monsoon is just ending. The Tejas is particularly good for tourists , as one can see the scenery out of the huge glass windows. The interior is like an aircraft and toilets with hands free appliances…most importantly very clean. The waiters have colourful resort type uniforms and meals provided with alacrity.

We have started hosting at Miramar since only few months , and have had a wide variety of guests. It feels so good to know that they appreciate home comforts without the formality of the hotel experience.

Earlier we never installed any of the latest amenities, as it served only as a holiday home for us. However to meet the expectations, we upgraded this home to include all the requirements.

The most interesting part, is that we still get to stay as a family ,at our apartment when we decide. So my grown up children , specially Karen who is  the eldest with her own family, are overjoyed at this development. She was the one who encouraged us to start giving this apartment on the Airbnb .

Lino, our man , a brother to me, takes good care of our guests. He sets up the place and is there to welcome and assist in any way. Suzanne our neighbor also helps in any emergency, Aparna a simple man does a good job of cleaning and scrubbing the place .

Anjean and I are thankful to the Lord, that we can continue to serve in this way.  All the more, as we are now retired, and our apartment helps to earn some income.

I did not mention,that my entire career at work was in the hospitality line…The last being at the YMCA International House. I still remember our motto was to provide every guest a “Home away from home” .

Our greatest asset was our workforce and their focus was ‘ always to care for every need of our guests, with a smile.’

You are weicome to check out our home at Miramar on





Down Memory Lane with Tyronne




We have had many renowned people in Matharpacady , but  Tyronne has been so different. Every ‘event’ in the Village  always saw Tyronne visiting the residents personally to encourage their participation in various ways. I even joked with him, that we would need a monument dedicated to him for such service, which kept the fabric of unity in the Village.

He is the last person to want himself  featured prominently on any forum; but invariably his determination to serve, brought him on several committees.

He schooled in St Isabels  and started working early in life. With two years of work experience he joined the  Britannia Industries  Ltd Co. where he served for 33 years. His dedication and hard work was recognized by the trust reposed in him, during his tenure with the Factory Manager’s Office.

“ I remember the times when requests for donations of biscuit hampers and boxes by relatives, friends and Charitable Institutions  were taken up by me, and  people’s hearts were gladdened, when the approval was granted by the Factory Manager.” His years of  secretarial service helped him to be astute in following up with important matters concerning the village and municipal authorities.

He has been  on the Cross Committee  for the past 50 years. Those were the days,  years ago when the Cross Feast was the high point of the village calendar. However the Vespas ( one day prior to the Feast) was the main  day. The Village square and avenue in front of the Oratory, had a border of Flags from different countries draped on either side. Potted plants would be specially brought down from Bapty’s Garden adjacent to the   bungalow behind the Holy Cross Oratory…  here is where  the late sisters,  Lily Baptista (Founder of St.Isabel’s , Daisy (Principal) and Violet(Supervisor Primary School) stayed and actively participated in the Cross Feast. Monarch Society has now replaced their bungalow.

The ‘Village Band’ gave us the flavor of things to come a fortnight earlier when  Frank Gonsalves (chello), Rene Rico (double bass),Francis (clarinet) Eusebio (chello) , Joaquim (trumpet), Arthur Sequiera(violin), Jennifer (piano) would practice. Charlie Gonsalves conducted the choir. Later Royden Gonsalves and Vinod joined up with the double bass and violin.

The Cross Feast was  usually held on the morning of  3rd May after the    Vespas on 2nd May . A lot of preparation went into the days before the feast. The Baptista brothers Dennis, David and Stanley along with Cliffy ( Tyronne’s brother) and many others were the silent volunteers behind the scenes. The Cross Committee planned well ahead. The entire Litany of Prayers were prayed  in  Latin, a language few of us really understood.

Years later the prayers were prayed in English .  Percy Pereira’s stentorius voice was well remembered when he raised his voice in prayerful intercession. Later   Sammy Leao and Martin Cardoso took up the baton . Peter Miranda never failed to back up the hymns with his electric organ. The daily novena prayers ended with traditional distribution of boiled gram . On some occasions vitamins or farsan was distributed.

Subsequently many more younger people  got involved leading the prayer with guitarists and organists to accompany the choir.

The Feast became the main day on 1st May, which was also dedicated to  St. Joseph  the Worker.

The Cross Committee became more innovative and included an entertainment programme after the Feast Mass. At one point there was even a Village Dance, which was later replaced by skits, choreographed dances by children and Housie; not forgetting the provision of  some substantial snacks.

Christmas was heralded in the village by the aroma of homemade sweets and cake. Tyronne’s sister Audrey( may her soul rest in peace) is fondly remembered for her delicious sweets. She was also an expert in embroidery , needle craft and flower making for weddings and important celebrations.

The  big Christmas Star of the village , was central to bringing   all the big guys of the village to join up to fabricate a huge star over the weeks ahead of Christmas. This work would be done late in the evenings, away from the public eye on the Viegas terrace. Those were the days when the young people enjoyed just hanging out and sang away with the guitar and bass box  accompaniment. The big star has now given way to numerous smaller stars hovering at all parts of the village, which gives it  a sparkling look , and draws numerous visitors to the village at this time.

Tyronne reminisces  “Diwali was celebrated with fireworks in the heart of the village and at Dr. Micky Mascarenhas’ home.”

“The Rosary Church Feast , in Mazagon, was one of the days when Kite Flying ended with mass participation and many released their kites on that day.”

“ Years ago , Carnival was held in the village and Peter Miranda was King Momo. I prepared the scroll, which was then  read out by the King in jest” remembers Tyronne.

Tyronne has served  on the  Board of Trustees of St Isabel’s School, since the past 27 years; he is now the Managing Trustee for the School, which is  mainly a Girls School, and has over 1600 students. Earlier it was  a co-ed school before 1968.

Tyronne is also a Board Member for the Bombay Institute of Deaf and Mutes since past 10 years. It is the oldest institution of this kind.

He stays at a quaint cottage  called ‘Anthonio Rest 1936’. A painting of it has been  specially done by Tyronne’s niece , Trudy, and  is proudly displayed on their sitting room wall.

The year 1936  signifies its renovation, but the cottage is actually more than 100 years old.

Like many homes in the village , the  walls were  thick and reinforced with  stones and other material before the repair and renovation.

Tyronne persisted in following up on civic issues and  Govt policies. Hence when the Development Plan of the city, prepared some years ago, showed a road passing through the village ..it was successfully thwarted through the intervention of St.Isabel’s School and the Matharpacady Resident’s Welfare Association (MRWA)

Even a Fish Market proposal in the vicinity of the Village was avoided with the cooperation   of St. Isabel’s School,  Monarch Society and the MRWA

St. Isabel’s Management succeeded in getting a favorable judgement from the Bombay High Court to stop the set up of the market in the stilted area of Monarch Society behind the Cross Oratory.

His involvement on these committees also helped in  followup with BEST for Water Supply and Electrical supply problems.

Tyronne’s message finally to us is “ have an open mind .. we may  not  all have the same view; so let’s  be tolerant and have a listening attitude . Let us  pray for our people, to be united and work together.”

Its no wonder that you see a small gathering of Village residents , praying at the Cross every evening.

Matharpacady still survives despite  the various fears arising from the gradual onslaught of redevelopment in the city of Mumbai. We hope it shines as a beacon of hope to many , and even to the numerous tourist groups that visit this pearl of the past.



Trust and Be Free

Look at the birds and lillies of the valley

Do they strive?

The tall trees sway in all their grandeur,

Little birds flit across

As the bulbuls guard their nest.
Where is the strife and struggle

To make ends meet?

The pheasant crow sounds deep and low,

But is happy to care for its own

There is daily provision

Blessed assurance free of worry
So why do men struggle for daily needs?

Even the squirrel munches at tender herbs

The ant crawls to tasty morsels

A mongoose raises its head to check for food left over

And happy to tunnel for more
Have you wondered how the trees bear fruit

Without much ado

Save that of some water and air and some extras for manure

They still sway to say

Be happy, and don’t worry

The Master cares for us ALL

“But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you – you of little faith” (Matthew 12:28)

Julius my twin brother

This is a letter I wrote to Julius on  completing his 60th birthday…obviously we share the same birthday!

Sadly Julius has departed and I treasure these …….

Memories  on completing 60 years


There is a very special bond that most twins share and Julius and I are no exception. Even though miles separate us , we have much in common.

School days: we were a special unit , ready to support each other in any crisis , especially when It came to a school boy fight. Only once on the playing field at an interclass hockey tournament, we had to be in different teams. Julius being the bigger made , (probably better player?) went to the A team , and most surprising I became captain of the B team. Guess what??? The B team made it to the finals. …runners up to the another senior team.

Julius was also a very good table tennis player, and did well at the interschool tournament.

We were among the best mimics in those days, so much so that late Mr Theopilus Aguiar (  Principal St Xaviers College), on a visit to our place , dreaded leaving later, probably with the thought that we would mimic him.

In college, we gradually grew out of this close bond and learnt to be independent, something actually difficult for us especially for me who liked to depend on Mr Reliable.

The best memories  of our college days was our musical interests. Though I learnt the violin and Julius the piano; however Julius was very versatile and keen to take up the accordion and then the guitar. Those days were not very different from nowadays. Guitar playing , was something every teenager wanted to learn. I soon followed ….. who was my teacher? …. None other than Mr Julius . I will always remember him for that, as I did not have to go to a tutor. Chords , became so easy, when he showed me the circle of chord changes ,which is  the key to taking any pitch for accompaniment. We even performed as a duo.  The one and only time we did compose a song together….. Julius with the music and myself the lyrics , was, and for me still is the only original song ever composed so far by us. It had tremendous melancholic effect and could be sung in duet. The words also left one feeling very sad and soulful. But what an achievement for collegians in those days!!!!!

Athletics saw a study in contrast. Julius the more solid built did well in the sprints, whereas I specialized in the longer distance events .  At that time we detested to compete with each other.

Our hockey days saw us play for the same college team , and of course with Julius in the forward line and myself in defence, I saw to it that any rough tackles on Julius would be suitably reciprocated by me, at the appropriate time, with the opponent.

As we moved out of our academics, Julius progressed to finally get his Phd. Remember he had tremendous determination when he set his goals. However my tremendous struggles with organizing my study and especially  dealing with examination stress, led me to try out several courses till I settled with Hotel Management . However the Lord had a special plan in all these struggles , and he used me to help students many years later , when I went back into education to lecture and later become Principal of Naval Institute of Technology.

Our adult life also saw some very quaint features. Julius married Joslyn. Well two years later I married Joslyn’s very close friend Anjinha. Julius and I have such similar features , it was no surprise that on one visit , Joslyn mistook me for him …….. !!!!

After migrating to Canada, recent memories I cherish , are the times Julius and I have JAMMED up , with our guitars, keyboard, violin … and our wonderful voices. Most of all I appreciate the strong faith Julius has In God .

After all these years , Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is the one we give thanks for the wonderful years He has blessed us with. We look back …..and then look forward , ….with great joy to know that our Father is always there for us with open arms. God Bless you Julius. Have a very Happy and Blessed 60th Birthday this August 17th 2011.

With Love,, Your Twin Brother  Vincent.

Now who gets the chance to hear.. , wish you the same …on a birthday?




Sohel ….  My quiet neighbour


What did I know about Sohel Degani?

ActuDSC_0224ally nothing much.  Yes I knew him as a neigbour who had moved into Matharpacady in 1960, as a young  lad with  his sister and his parents. Later as the years passed by,  he got  involved in horticulture and landscaping. He soon had a family of his own but kept touch with his parents. So when he invited me one day to see his parental home ( both parents have since passed away) I was stunned.

The home was transformed into a studio and office for his creative work.

His late father was actively involved in the Deaf and Dumb Institute, where he was the Principal, and his mother an excellent teacher. Sohel is happily married with two daughters. His wife too loves teaching, and is a Professor with the ICT ( Institute of Chemical Technology – where she is the Head of Department of Pharmacy)

After schooling in St. Mary’s, Mazagon, Sohel specialized in Landscape Designing and Agrohorticulture with initial studies in Canada. He returned home , to complete his Masters Degree in the above field.

Being  a fitness enthusiast he played various sports like , basketball, badminton, cycling and tabletennis,…. He later took to Jogging, Swimming, and Squash.

He had a great fondness  for the rustic life… at Alibag, on the outskirts of Mumbai . He would go alone on a trip, take a  dip into the river and enjoy nature in all its splendor at his Organic Farm, where he grows tropical fruits.

His wife Mariam can be quite the opposite , when she immerses herself in books for hours.

Both dream of giving time to the underprivileged in the villages.

Sohel specializes in  Landscape Designing and  is self taught in all aspects civil works, plumbing, designing, electrical, and soft landscape. He is a Landscaping Designer and Agrohorticulture Consultant.

A dozen staff  help to implement the designs he creates.

He started  designing numerous  landscapes for residences,  and eventually moved to bigger projects like Wockdhart Corporate Office and  Impetus . You will know more about his work from the web site www.minigardens.net , his company name being Mini Gardens.

He is totally into organic gardening, with natural products, and avoids the use of pesticides

He selectively serves clients who will care for the finished work even years later, and ensures that all his work complies with existing norms.

His Design on Paper goes into details like measured ground, type of soil and its mixture at various levels actual plant types and numbers.. swimming pools, terrace gardens,  beautiful facades, and lighting  etc.

His motto in life “ I enjoy my work , so it becomes more of  fun rather than work”.

The reason for this blog  however is to focus on Sohel’s latest passion : ‘ Painting’

He  thrives on this , as it gives him so much peace.

He starts his day at 4.50am and after freshening up, he spends time in quietness, and yoga… in Vipasana mode, followed by breakfast.

At 6am he starts painting and can spend at least 4 hours  , with pencil, brush, cotton, cloth and water colors, which look quiet ordinary until its all put together. He uses a very superior quality of paper.

Thereafter he proceeds to visit his project sites , and is very involved as a person who is“  hands on”.

He has dinner between 7.30-8pm and retires to bed at 9.30pm

I enquired about his creativity….. and he replied “ I sleep and my thoughts churn through the night . I remember these dreams, and implement them in my work and paintings.”

My time of meditation also helps to kickstart ideas.

He also shared that “ I acknowledge God, but avoid structured religion. I believe in reaching out to the underprivileged with good deeds.” I was surprised when he shared how he has had some major accidents, when he fractured both legs; but his recovery is also amazing ….grace?

Sohel’s paintings were a revelation. I saw beautiful sea side paintings …boats on the shore, out at sea, stormy seas, horses with diamonds , shepherds  and one with a deformed hand…innovated when he mistakenly drew a shortened hand., shades of blue and pastel colours. One painting stood out as it depicted the ‘Women’  who face challenges in city life unsure of their way ahead…even a little girl among them…

“Why the interest in boats and the seaside? “ I enquired.

“ It gives me a sense of the Infinite. I get excited to explore the vast seas and return on those boats after a long voyage.” He treasures two models of ancient boats ; one was gifted to him in Africa.

Sohel intends to exhibit these paintings and utilize the funds from their purchase, for the girl child  in India.

I realized that Sohel had so many other interests…He has a roof garden with an Olive tree, various herbs, water plants, terraniums which is a glass globe  and has  plants which require a little water and more air. There are bonsai plants and some plants which supply more oxygen indoors. Vermiculture helps in good manure from waste leaves and twigs.

Another passion is his collection for pens….in particular , Parker, Shaeffers  and some penholder with inkpot.

I was quite intrigued when Sohel shared, “My desk is the place that  I can sit and enjoy every moment doing my creative work, be it designing for landscape or paintings.”

“So what is your message for us Sohel? “

“Live life fully; have pure thoughts, be yourself, and enjoy what you do.” came Sohel’s reply.

Lets all benefit from his open secret to make our ‘doing’ more fun.

Sohel’s completed paintings are packed and ready; so are they for sale? He softly replied “That will have to wait until my proposed exhibition, to raise funds for the Girl Child.”

I am reminded about the parable of the talents when the one who makes full use of his talents is greatly rewarded and will hear from the Master  “ Well done, good and faithful servant; you have shown you can be faithful in small things, I will trust you with greater; come and join in your master’s happiness.” (Matthew 25:23)

Now I know my quiet neighbor even better ; specially his capacity for doing good, with joy!