Category Archives: Life and Education

Always Gentle,Always Calm, Allwyn

 

Allwyn is my eldest brother. He has always been a soft spoken person, who shows compassion, wisdom and understanding . Its no wonder that he still continues with his medical profession even at his age. Patients wait to consult and be treated by him . He has reduced his hours and often takes time off to visit his children who have settled in the USA.

He has been a role model to me. From early days, he was the responsible elder brother.

He studied well through School and College. It was rare for us in those days to  prefer Jai Hind College over St. Xavier’s College. But Allwyn proved a point, that with regular and steady performance, one can do well even otherwise.

He took part in extracurricular activities and yet did well in his academics. He played hockey and joined the National Cadet Corps. I thought he looked smart in that uniform. He went on to study medicine at the Grant Medical College. I remember him starring in some of the hockey matches for the team, and even getting on the goal scorers list. His ability to play the accordion, helped to form a college band for their social event. Yes I was present on stage with them, and importantly helped to steady the drums which tended to shake while the drummer got into the mood.

Another vivid  memory was at the GMC Christmas party, when my twin brother and I were asked to play a duet ( me on violin and he on accordion) and it set the whole group into a festive mood , when Jingle bells was played; everyone joined in the fun, with a march to this tune. As youngsters we were very amused to see some very beautiful friends of Allwyn , trying to make an impression on us, ( after all we were Allwyn’s brothers!)

Allwyn would spend regular hours in preparation for his medical exams. In summer , if we were away, and he stayed back to study,  his appetite for mangoes would wane. However this changed when we returned and he joined the gang for a share of this delicacy with gusto.

October was the season for kite flying. If and when Allwyn joined us on the terrace, it was a privilege and we enjoyed that evening even more.

His wedding to beautiful Pamela, was a happy time. They have 3 children and all successful in their careers and happily married too. One of the more important features, was that eventually I too settled to wed Pamela’s cousin , Anjean.

Allwyn is a brother, doctor and confidant to me. Often he reached out to me at my downtimes and I remember one of those moments, when he accompanied me to the Ferry Wharf, for some quiet moments. His ability to listen and advise was greatly appreciated.

We also enjoyed a good game of tennis. Age was no bar and Allwyn displayed some good stroke play and strategy. The rare times I won a set from him were few and far between.

I remember him outplaying the top seed in the Catholic Gymkhana Tournament. Suddenly during that match, his opponent fell and hurt himself. However when play resumed, Allwyn reduced his intensity (out of pity, mercy?) and surprisingly lost that match. His opponent went on to win the tournament.

Allwyn was talented in art and writing .  His ability to write poetry and essays, helped his daughter to win trophies with her elocution .

He treats his patients with great dedication. He is gentle and exercises judicious care when prescribing medicines ; of course his diagnosis is very accurate. Most of all is his care for the two assistants (compounders). Recently one of them was seriously sick, due to a serious upper neck (spinal ) problem. He went beyond the call of duty to  ensure he got all tests, surgery etc done for a full recovery and even expenses for hospitalization covered.

One cannot forget his humour and love of music. Christmas time with family meant a good time to celebrate the festive family lunch with song and some light hearted jokes. I think he is also a voracious reader ( I will need his review of this blog!)

As years went by , we did have some differences and viewpoints;  I still respect him as Allwyn never lost his patience. In this respect he reminds me of our father. Its no wonder that he handled all family related matters with wisdom.

I wish Allwyn showers of blessings, with memorable and relaxed times at this stage of his life, with family and friends.

I write this article to reiterate my earlier blog  “ Before ….or After”

So let’s break tradition.. we can affirm people NOW! Tell them what we appreciate about them when they are here in our presence and will be encouraged .  It will make a world of a difference.

Travel back -A Peek at the Past

 

As I view the drumstick tree basking in the morning sun with its green sticks at  different stages of growth, It brings back warm memories of my childhood.

We had a little garden around our city home and there was  a drumstick tree in the neighbouring plot.

Somehow just seeing its tiny leaves and white flowers made me happy. We also had numerous such trees at our holiday home in  Borivili  , where mango trees were in abundance along with Jambul, banana and tamarind trees.

I look back and treasure those memories with family.

The journey by car was considered quite long. So in our family of seven, two of my older brothers would travel by the suburban train and the rest of us by car. I thought that the train travelers were very adventurous and envied them.

The fresh air on arrival at this holiday home revived us, and also brought on a drowsy and relaxed atmosphere when we settled in.

The deep well with a pulley system attracted us  and we eagerly took turns to draw water from it   which was quite a novelty for us city folks. Oh yes, the water was so good that the tea prepared from it had a delectable taste.

Have you sat on the branches of a mango tree and ate some of them ….we had a way of eating those we called sucking mangoes, from the end where it had the stem attached. So when you finished getting out the juice, you threw the skin and the seed away…

Our quaint bungalow had a first story with a balcony facing a creek. Wow, that was an experience, just to sit out and stretch our little legs to touch the railings and enjoy the sea breeze. With a dell comic book in hand , we enjoyed reading about the Road runners, Donald Duck , Micky Mouse, Roy Rogers, Lone Ranger, Superman, Sad Sack etc.

Since I was about 8 years old, I was not allowed to read Archies comics, which was for my older siblings…so having  a peek at it gave me a thrill.

Then the May flower tree had its own charm. We would try to grab one of its long flat ‘chickchicks’ because of its sound and sing along with that accompaniment.

We had a hill at the boundary of this property. It gave us opportunities to trek and get the feel of climbing a mountain . A vivid memory comes back of a skit performed extempore on that slope. i.e Red Riding Hood with the wolf .  I remember the wolf had a rope as a tail…which made us laugh.

Water was always scarce in the summer, inspite of our own  well water . So we would eagerly wait for the bullock cart drawn  carrier, which provided water at a price.

In those days , construction of neighbouring buildings had started. We would hear the blast of rock to level certain areas of the hill, which caused us great distress. We trembled with fear in anticipation of the next blast.

I cherish those memories with my parents and brothers. Even my grand uncle accompanied us on  these trips.

Beer was for the grownups; but I remember Dad giving me a sip….it tasted so good, that when I sip a beer today, it does bring back some of those memories.

Dad would meet the villagers and be updated on the events going on.

Today the landscape at Borivili has changed completely .

However the former landscape lives on in memory; who can change that?

So if ever you look back, take the liberty of visiting those beautiful times once again ….who knows it may help you to live today with a more joyful attitude.  Besides you can travel to those times and places without any travel plans. May it bring back more cheer into your life.

Y B A Pilgrim on Pilgrimage

 

At Pashan -Loyola’s Retreat Centre , Pune
Batim Goa
Chapel on the Hill- Batim Goa

For many years I have pondered on the importance of Pilgrimages and why so many flocked to these places. I always believed that the Almighty God is present everywhere, so why do we need to go to specific places.

In some way I got my answer when I visited Lourdes. You may have heard that the water of Lourdes is miraculous, and the Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette several times at that place.

The amazing thing was that I experienced a deep sense of peace at the Grotto, and actually tears streamed down my cheek. I was quite confused,  but totally overwhelmed with this time of grace.

It came a lot clearer, when I entered the waters of Lourdes, to  once again  experience renewal of my baptism. As I stepped out , my face shone and I was overjoyed to see the brilliant sunshine around me. So yes , now I did have some understanding of the ‘why’ of pilgrimage.

The volunteers, explained that the real meaning of going to the waters, was to first repent for past wrongdoing and then believe In the new life in Christ, through being baptized in those waters.

I have subsequently been to a few places and it makes a lot more sense as to why we visit ….not only once, but again and again.

Some of the places are at Retreat Centres….. I visit often Loyola’s Retreat Centre at Pashan , Pune.

Then there are numerous others, the most famous being the Divine Retreat Centre at Potta.

In Goa there  are the miraculous Holy Crosses  at Bambolim and  Morjem.

Batim is one more, where the location was seen in a vision by a lady from Canada . She subsequently discovered it and the venue is now a place where people flock to pray, as many devotees have received answers to prayer.

So I come back to my quest as to why do we flock to places of pilgrimage.

Do we receive answers to prayer only at these places; and why not at other sites.

Do you remember Moses in the Old Testament of the Bible, encountering God in the burning bush ?  He was so overwhelmed that he went to check it out physically, but was told not to come near as it was Holy ground.

What can we conclude from these phenomenon?

Only one thing is clear. The Holy Almighty God will reveal Himself to many who seek Him, and then we can respond to this verse:

‘Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened.’

May all my dear friends on this pilgrimage of life, finally encounter the Lord face to face and experience His Awesome Love!

 

A matter of Time

Thelma had  only a day left for a whole lot of things to do before leaving for a long drive to Mumbai.

She and Timothy her husband were on a short holiday in Goa.

So on Friday, she spoke to Sebastian their man Friday, who willingly agreed to bring his car early morning , precisely at 8am to help her.

Next morning Thelma had a quick breakfast and was ready for Sebastian…Timothy was all set to have a late breakfast , and then do some house chores before departure next day.

Its 8am….8.10…8.15 am    Thelma calls Sebastian,” Have you left?” He replied “ I am just leaving; I had a request order to prepare a curry for Victor.”

Its now 8.20am….8.25 am….Thelma cannot wait any longer… the sausage woman gave a time of 8.45am for the purchase of sausages…then 9-9.30 am was the time for the refill of gas cylinder.

“ Ok Timothy, I am going; I will give you a call in case I need any help.” And so Thelma quite irritated, went in a rickshaw to the market place.

Timothy prepared a sumptuous breakfast with eggs and fresh roties….He just about started when he got a call from Thelma, “ You better come and pick me up; I will be at the corner of the village road at Taligao.”.”  Timothy sighed “Yes, dear I will come. “  There’s no sign of Sebastian.

Timothy gobbled his breakfast and in quick time , got  ready and drove to the Taligao corner.

As he reached , so did Sebastian… and Thelma in the hot sun , with her bags, was walking towards them.

Here started the fire works….not aloud, as you will imagine… but the ‘look’ and the scowl was enough. That was the end of Sebastian… Very apologetically he said “ I can take you now.” But Thelma just walked to Timothy’s car and said “ Next time, you please tell me , when you have  work in hand, and that you cannot come “

“ You know, the Sausage woman could wait.’ said Sebastian

Thelma interjected “ Yes, but do you know that there were so many customers waiting to buy those sausages for even a higher price. So why would she wait for me?”

Besides the gas cylinder had to be picked up before the truck left for distribution in other parts of Panjim before 9.30am, and we are leaving for Mumbai tomorrow.”

Sebastian very meekly, kept silent.

Timothy drove off to the Gas Distributor along with Thelma.

However Sebastian followed Timothy’s car , and made up with a good deed of showing them the way to the gas distributor’s office.

Thelma and Timothy completed their round of things to be done thereafter, and returned home.

There was no sign of Sebastian.

“Was he upset? He is so helpful and must be quite embarrassed” conjectures Timothy.

“He had to go to Dona Paula for some work , which will keep him occupied for the full day” said Thelma.

As night approached,  there was still  no sign of Sebastian. The couple then packed their bags, and loaded their car.

Next morning they left on a long journey to Mumbai.

Wait a minute. Do you think that Sebastian will ignore them or keep this grudge for all the mess which happened.

At about 8am , Thelma’s mobile phone rang “ How are you all?  Where have you reached? Is everything ok?” enquired Sebastian…… a few hours later……. he enquired again…until Timothy and Thelma reach Mumbai safely.

Thought: 1) How can Sebastian balance his  work and also please  people dear to him with his good deeds?

2) What is so significant at the end of the story?

REMINDER (Do I need it?)

 

When the word reminder is  split into 3 parts it will look like re-mind-er

In other words , it is something which I have in mind, to remember and do. How will you respond to a reminder. Does it make you happy?

I can share some of my own experiences specially when it comes to being given reminders from my better half. It irritates me sometimes. Why? Well, I know that this involves something which needs to be done somehow, and immediately, or it may refer to events , meetings, or oft times forgotten moments.

I reflect on the reasons why I dislike reminders..Is it because I think I know it all, and do not need reminders. Or does  it pressurizes me , when I have a busy schedule.

There are times when reminders  come even through  scripture.

Today I read from 1 Peter 5: 1-10  which speaks about how a leader of people should be like a shepherd of a flock entrusted to him  ‘not simply as a duty but gladly, because God wants it. . This reminder brought me back to the time when I was installed as a Coordinator of a Community , and it was clear that this leadership meant to ‘ never be a dictator over any group that is put in your charge, but be an example that the whole flock can follow.” (1Peter5:3)  Today this reminder can be so helpful to leaders in all walks of life.

Soon after this I read in the following verses of the same chapter ‘Be calm but vigilant, because your enemy the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion, looking for someone to eat, Stand up to him, strong in faith and in the knowledge that your brothers all over the world are suffering the same things.’ ( 1Peter 5: 8,9)  This reminded me of the time I was on tour with my wife and she was robbed of her bag, which contained cash and her passport. It was quite disturbing , and we felt stranded in a foreign country without any help. At that time , my daughter, spoke to me on the phone and told us to read this particular verse from the bible. It gave us such consolation and strength, and we were then prepared for the challenge ahead.

So reminders can be God sent messages to help us in life, to keep us on track.

In the corporate world, what would happen if the secretary to the boss, did not remind him of his flight date and timing for important meetings. Reminders will also help him to prepare for important discussions ahead.

In life’s road , reminders serve to guide us on the path to an eternal destination. These will come in many ways. Are we listening? Or will it be like the Tin man in the  ‘Wizard of Oz’; he certainly does not know his way, and causes others to lose their way too. Reminders are like the compass or Lighthouse, which guides ships out at sea or near the coast.

When I am alert, and heed these reminders, I can be sure,that

‘I am on the right path’………..So let us all welcome ‘reminders’ with a smile.

 

Cyril’s Surprises

IMG_0158When you meet Cyril

DSC_0008 (2)Alphonso, you will be surprised. He is more tech savvy  than an average youth, inspite of his age ( 82years). He started off as a radio operator, but also held many posts at different times, when sailing with Wallem’s shipping Company.

My earliest memories as a young boy, was to see him at his verandah, giving us a wave of his hand in greeting. One vivid moment was, when he caught a kite that drifted into his balcony; he called out to me and handed over that precious piece of flying paper, which gave me great joy.

He was at that time one of the few am radio operators in India. He still operates under the code name VU2AY. Before satellites existed, the am radio operation was a sure way of communication in times of disaster or wars. Even today, the am radio  community of operators exists, and are in touch with one another.

His knowledge has since increased to computer stuff, which consists of hardware and software.

He has been of great help to the nearby St. Isabel’s School, where he started the Computer department. Subsequently he provides assistance to any person in need of old computer equipment for which he is adept at upgrading or providing solutions.

The miracle of Cyril, is that he now lives a second life. He was seriously sick and hospitalized. We wondered how he would come through after major stomach operations. But he has rebounded back to normalcy with a bang. After spending a lot of time being bed-ridden, he now walks around the neighbourhood. His faith in God, has given him this new lease of life.

Cyril is gifted with a knowledge of multiple languages i.e  English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam, and Gujarati, and has the desire to learn even more of the local languages in India.

He has a compilation of spiritual music, and teaching modules which he has saved over the years.

But today, he is keen on passing on this treasury of knowledge in diverse streams , to his family and friends, rather than seeing it all going to waste. I am one of his beneficiaries.

Cyril has updated knowledge of all matters of the village specially in regard to the leased land.  He has made it a point to study old documents which provides relevant information when needed.

I got to know Cyril better during my visits with Holy Communion to his home. But with improved mobility, he made it a point to attend the Eucharist daily, in the chapel of the Blessed Sacrament Fathers, at Matharpacady.

I was in the midst of this article , and had not completed it for some weeks. Suddenly one day I got to know that Cyril had a heart attack, and was admitted to hospital for immediate surgery.

I was away from home, during this time, on a retreat;  I prayed that I may see Cyril well again, on my return. And yes, this wish was granted.  I was overjoyed to see him back home. He is slowly recovering, and his family is around him to shower him with their love and care. Cyril’s wife Sydel is a devout lady, and they have been happily married. A few years ago they celebrated their golden wedding. They have two sons and a daughter, who have all started families of their own.

A walk with Cyril, would be a slow walk , but with a lot of talk!

We wish Cyril many more fruitful years in the quaint environment of Matharpacady.

Note: the pic shows Cyril with his grandson, at his balcony…

Remain in my love

 

 

The Glory of the morning was evident when the sun’s rays highlighted the beautiful flower we call the Morning Glory. It is a very commonly seen flower which grows profusely on fences and makes an excellent screen.

However I write to  share my thoughts on the way God’s love helps me to face difficult moments, which is reinforced  by  observing the beauty of the Morning Glory.

Inspite of all the rigors of nature , the sunshine brings out the best in this beautiful blue flower.

I reflect on this, and realize, that all problems are not that easy to solve on my own. Just taking time off , and being quiet in the Lord’s presence like the flower basking in the morning sun, is a good reminder that the Lord’s wisdom is sufficient, provided I am quiet and have an attitude of listening.

So every day, whenever I face tough decisions or problems, I remind myself : It is time to be quiet and cast my burden on the Lord. His grace and wisdom is sufficient. He brings out the best in me.

Thank you Morning Glory for being such a good example of being open to God’s Love.

Let not bitterness, hatred and strife, steal you from this love of God.

In John 15:9 Jesus says’ As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.

Remain in my love,’

The Sparkling Diamonds

 

At sunrise I glimpsed through the tall trees and saw the sun peep through the foliage of various trees. I stood admiring  its rays streaming through to me.

And behold, I saw the spider’s web. It  may sound so mundane, a web, which every household seeks to banish away for the clean look. However, this was extraordinary.

The sun’s rays shone through the web and it glistened like diamonds in the sun. The exquisite work and design of the spider struck me. Surely it was not waiting to be applauded for such beautiful work. Yet  this was a masterpiece.

I reflected about the gifts and talents that so many of us have and are still in the process of discovering. Do I wait for approval from others or  should I revel in them and bring out the best in what has been gifted to  me.

What matters most, is that I do my best, like the spider. At the end of  the day, my contribution is for a purpose, and once that is fulfilled , it really does not matter about the accolades or brickbats.

Any talent grows when it is used  for  the common good of those around us.

Let us not glorify ourselves , but be grateful and glorify the One who freely gives us these abilities, talents and skills .

There are many master pieces waiting to be discovered!

Come to a better place

DSC_0126 (2)

I walked slowly and kept looking at the different plants by the roadside.

I saw one plant, quite tall, but most of its leaves were wilting. I ask this plant , “why do you look dejected. “The response from the plant seemed like “ It is my age that is showing”

Then suddenly I noticed a few tiny leaves, and shoots from one of the old branches peeping up. This  surprised me, and even encouraged me.

Surely there is a future for the old plant. Even though the old leaves wilt and drop to the earth; they  do not fall in vain.

The earth receives them into her arms and then gives birth to newness in other new plants and even leaves and shoots in the old plant.

So this set me thinking. Did not God call Abraham to a better place; to leave his immediate land and go to a foreign place.  What was Abrahams’s response? He trusted God and knew that God always gave the best. Even though he could not see it happening , he believed, and surely all throughout his life ,  he  looked forward to that better place.

Am I ready to bloom where planted and also to be ready to move to a better place when the time comes.

What appears to be slowing down, and diminishing is also ,getting ready for a better place.

The struggles of life, prepare one for a better life.

To abide with the Lord forever!!!

 

Our Mochi

 

His father Vithal Karande was the first  mochi in the village.

He is one of our  icons. None other than Ashok Karande our lean and  talkative mochi ( Hindi word for cobbler) We pass him by daily and he will always have a smile and a brief look at your footwear.

How is it today. Does it require a stitch or two? Or is it so dull and requires a shine like the brilliant sunshine.

He hails from a  family of traditional cobblers. He started in a big way, by stitching handmade shoes. …which were well made and quite well priced too!!

His father continued with usual repairs and shoe shines, in a different location of the village adjacent to a big bungalow. Ashok was given pride of place in a makeshift workplace under a staircase of a house, which serves has his ‘Operation Theatre’.

Now you will wonder why? He loves to call the shoes that he receives for repair, as his ‘patients’.

One of his immediate concerns is to ensure that “ Patient’s cha operation zala, thari, gari la , patnar “ ( The moment the patient’s surgery is done, he has to be sent home) so he says i.e He requires the finished shoes to be handed over, as he has limited place.

I was stunned to see him one day at the nearby Dockyard Road Railway Station. He had changed to his civies (normal attire) unlike his work clothes, which is a loose fitting pyjama, and top.

I enquired, after a brief struggle to recognize Ashok in  his changed appearance “ Kai, Ashok,  tumcha office sutli kai? Ani gari chalale? “   He then replied “ Ho,office sutli, pan, tumchi patient ajun gari nahi geli.” ( What Ashok, you finished for the day and going home? He replied” Yes, but your patient has still not gone home.”  In other words, ‘ you better ensure that you take your finished shoes home’.

In today’s world, where there is a throwaway culture, Ashok belongs to a slowly disappearing breed of cobblers, who still plays an important role in the village of Matharpacady. His place also serves as a meeting point for a little chat for some of the passersby.

Matharpacady itself is one of   a few preserved villages of quaint bungalows in the heart of South Múmbai,  struggling to retain its stature and resilience of old.  However Ashok gives us a  message that come what may  we can still retain oúr ‘ identity’ in a fast changing world.

These shoes were made for walking…….and when you need to look after them:

Just contact Ashok Karande, and he has  a solution for all ailments that affect ‘ leather shoes’, laced with some humour if you have time for a chat.

 

( Interesting characters of Matharpacady village, ….to showcase the traditions of more than 150 years old Heritage precinct…..now a tourist attraction , specially for the passengers of the Cruise liners)

PS: This blog has been reposted to include Our Mochi’s real name and his pic, with permission.