Category Archives: Life

Time to think

Let us wake in the morning filled with your love

and sing and be happy all our days. (Psalm 90:14)

How soon the day passes

and how short our time

let me wake up each day

to experience your love Oh Lord.

So filled with love

I sing and rejoice

you give life

and all that is good

We are here today

and gone tomorrow

So why fret when you keep us

tranquil and quiet

Your sweetness be upon us

As we live each day

following you closely

loving you dearly

Is there room for pride

anger and hate?

Your love and grace

brings us peace

To you we return

you showed the way

homeward bound

to see your glory

A Relook at Cancer

You may have heard that cancer is curable. But you need to know that inspite of good medical research and care, the cancer can return. My type of cancer was considered the milder one. In 2019 I went through 6 sessions of Chemotherapy, from January to April. There was a gap of 3 weeks between each session. There were some bad side effects and that is the time I found solace in prayer and importantly others praying for me. God gave me courage and grace to endure and by June 2019 I was cancer free.

This led me to think that I now needed to lead a full life and make the most of the extended time given to me by the Lord. My children arranged for us to be with them from August until November, partly in Dubai and the remainder in UK. Anjean and I were overwhelmed with joy to be with them. I did a lot of travel,  and met so many of our friends, community members and family. I even got an opportunity to play tennis, which I had not done in the past 25 years.

However on my return to India, in December I was diagnosed with a mild relapse of cancer. So after a round of investigations I was given 6 sessions of radiation . The subsequent report was good,

Then in April suddenly I saw some nodules on my right arm and shoulder. My doctor sent me for a petscan and it showed that the cancer had spread to 4 different areas. I was shocked. Over and above the shock, I was given to understand that Non Hodgekins Lymphoma is generally curable; but if it returns , then I fall in the category of 40% where it will not be cured. So this left me quite stunned.

Then began the chemotherapy at end of April, which was given in two parts ….a full day session and a half day session to complete one cycle. I was scheduled to take 6 complete cycles. Again I saw the provision of God in my finances through family, friends and medical insurance.  By June 2020, I was again given a scan which showed an all clear report. My doctor though recommended that I complete the 6 cycles so that the treatment dealt with the cancer thoroughly. This last part has been very painful and  I have had bad side effects. Constant Diarhoea and inability to retain a normal meal. Anjean has been rock solid with me at this time to standby me, praying and looking after all my needs…truly an angel to me as  her full name is really   ‘ Maria dos Anjos’.

I am grateful to my children, who have been doing their best , even though so far. They give us the feeling as if they are with us, with their numerous phone calls and even zoom meetings to pray together.

I  specially acknowledge a good neighbour Hansel Baptista. He has  gone out of his way to help to take us to and fro to the Hospital for these sessions. Hansel  has become like a family member to us, in the absence of our children. Likewise Ben and Sandra, have always been ever ready  to help us at any time ( we specially appreciate the times of intercession) . Aroon and Elaine from our Community and neighbours Avina and Carmen have made special efforts to reach out in significant ways . The call to pray from current community  leader Eugene Peres, via telephone network of members,  before every chemotherapy session has been a blessing.

Yes , prayers from my own Community of Jesus and Communities in India and all over the world, specially London, Glasgow and Dublin and Manila, and the Brothers from the Servants of the Word,  have sustained me with courage and grace, to live a life fully. The Lord’s presence is sufficient indeed. Romeo Fernando and his team of intercessors from the  Community of the Good Shepherd have been consistently praying for me.

Finally I acknowledge Fr Nigel Barett our Parish Priest from Our Lady of the Rosary,  who made a special effort to bring me Holy Communion on a few occasions when I needed the Lord so much.

This has set me thinking about a lot of things.

Did I seriously think that after the first round of treatment and being cleared of traces of cancer that I will not get it again.?

Did I ever realize that many caṇcer patients suffer much more than me.

Am I aware that I have courage and a positive approach , only because this comes from the grace of

God and that  many people  known to me and even not known are  praying for me?

What am I going to do in the months ahead? How will I respond to a God who loves me so much?

Finally  , should I not accept that the final call can come any time irrespective of all the medical  treatment I receive ?

So  this second round of cancer relapse has helped  me to realize and relook at life.

Importantly it is a reminder to me that my life on earth is limited.  It has given me the assurance that whatever happens, as long as I live now…………

‘If we live we  live to  the Lord ; and If we die, we die to the Lord , whether we live or whether we die,  we are the Lord’s.’ ( Romans 8:14)

Have you seen the Cookie Jar ?

                         

We visited London on a few occasions . On one of these trips Anthony Bull hosted Anjean and myself. Our daughter Larissa was single and staying with the Bulls ōver the past two years.

Anthony ānd Julie have a loving family  . They are active in Community life . Their interests are varied . Anthony is a senior  professor in Imperial College. He is a sportsman at heart and  very fond of rugby. His keenness to keep fit results  in him riding to the college on his bycycle.

Julie is an engineering scholar. Students of maths have benefited from her proficiency in teaching this subject.  She  has a passion for pottery and  I was  impressed to see some of the crockery in use, which was her handiwork. They have 3 very accomplished children.

 Our stay was short and sweet. But some interesting memories still  linger.

On one of the days the assorted cookie jar was kept for evening tea . I think those cookies were one of the best I’ve had, of different flavours and most enrobed  with chocolate .

Now when the home members had left for work, next morning I began to feel the pangs of hunger by mid-morning. Visions of the delicious cookies came to mind. I searched for the jar and then helped myself to a few.

Later that evening , when all returned from work, Anthony  enquired  “ Lets have some of the cookies”

Wonder of wonders ….the level of the cookies in the jar had reduced considerably .

You can imagine how surprised we all were.

Where did the cōokies disappear… I looked āt Anthony, and saw a faint smile appear …..

“Can you guess who ate the cookies?”

Anthony shared some interesting aspects of his life. His interest in sports led him to work on the study of the cricket bat dimensions . His research on this, led to the standardisation of the bat, based on his inputs.   His efforts on standardisation of the tennis racket however did not progress as  those in authority  did not accept  his inputs. The result of this shows today , as  tennis players use rackets of  various dimensions and materials, which may not heip in keeping  a level playing field.

I was very impressed to hear Anthony’s story of how he met Roger Bannister the famous athlete who was the first to break the sub 4 minute barrier for the mile.

 Lastly I remember their pet cat , Tiger. He adopted them rather than the other way around. Tiger had occupied the premises before Anthony and family had moved in and begun the renovations . Tiger too became a friend and even posed for pictures.

We were grateful to Anthony and Julie for hosting us, but importantly that Larissa had a home to stay during  these few years.

It was lockdown time since April in London due to the Covid 19. Here again Anthony and Julie were a big support to Larissa on her wedding day 21st March 2020 .Larissa wedded Lloyd in a quiet ceremony with only a dozen  guests present in the church. We had already returned to India in November 2019. The plans for an India wedding did not materialize due to the corona virus pandemic.

Anthony has been very active in raising awareness of Mental Health and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Through challenges on Facebook, with the pushups , it certainly gives hope at these times of the lockdown and social distancing. Thank you Anthony for this initiative with your brother Andrew, and getting so many involved.

We know that even though Larissa and Lloyd are now settled in their rental apartment, they do have a family who will always reach out to them.

Who  knows , on our next visit we may see some more cookie jars.

Lloyd, Larissa and Catherine with Tiger
Bon Appetit

The Wedding You Missed

Dedicated to Karen , Annalize , Ralph and Larissa

These are some memories of my wedding with Aṇjean, on 26th May 1985. Naturally, our 4 children missed this wedding. They have now grown up and spread their wings to other countries. This blog is dedicated to them.

The miracle of answered prayer : much before our wedding date was finalised, we surveyed the Mumbai venues for our wedding. We may have gone for the Catholic Gymkhana venue which was the most convenient for wedding receptions. However Anjean surprised me by suggesting the Air India roof garden. The AI head office was my work place. It was certainly not a venue for weddings . Her response was you make the request and I will pray to Mary Help of Christians . On tenterhooks I approached the Director of Administration with the request , and I was stunned when he acceded to it.

Which is more important ….the  bride or the car: the bridal car was supposed to leave from Mazagon  to ṭhe bride’s location at 3pm . Till 3.15pm the car had not yet left . Under great stress, I went out to check on this, and then the famous words spilled  out …”Which is more important the car or the bride?” On paper the question seems an innocent query, but it was expressed in a tone which made the decorators (my close family volunteers) quell at such anger, and the car was despatched immediately.

Arrangements at the reception venue: since this was going to be the first wedding reception of the kind (Catholic wedding : a celebration of dinner with dancing) , frequent phone calls kept coming home to me. How do we set the tables? The table cloths are flying with the wind. We want additional manpower. Why? Because the regular catering staff wanted to join in the celebration. I was so exasperated that I decided not to answer any phone calls. In those days mobile phones had not yet existed.

At the St Anne’s Church: Anjean’s favourite colour showed in  the  pews which were tastefully decorated  with yellow flowers, specially  done by Mother Teresa’s nuns. My cousin Blossom and her  choir were ready in advance at the church.

We had three priests celebrating the Eucharist. Fr Juan ( St Anne’s) Fr Hillary Rodriques ( my spiritual advisor) and Fr Matthew ( Nagpur) . Fr Hillary’s homily on Luke 1: 42 , “Nothing is impossible to God” stayed with me for many years of our married life, and helped me to grow in surrendering any difficulties to the Lord.

Air India Nariman Point : Our entry at the roof garden was so dramatic. It gives me goosebumps as I remember the 7th Galaxy band striking up the grand entry of the bridal couple with the tradional tune …. Some flashes of memories come to my mind. The fast lifts at the AI office was a treat for the young children who were bold enough to take the lifts to the uppermost floors (22nd) and back. My little nephew Adrian was covered with powder as he enjoyed rolling on the dance floor.The 7th Galaxy belted out music, even more enthusiastically when they recognised some of our guests from Goa . There were Beatle songs and also the Portuguese medley to bring everyone into the mood. Talking about moods, well a lot of gifts came in through the security gate by our guests from Goa, which also helped a good deal in raising the spirits : these contained mature and good wines and spirits carefully gift wrapped. My Dining Facility Staff joined in the wedding celebrations with gusto. They were also given a share of the spirits that were sneaked in.

The reception  ended with group photographs taken for memories.  

Finally the time came for us to move to our new home in Matharpacady. I did fairly well in carrying my bride Anjean over the threshold . But then we both climbed the stairs together helping each other as we progressed with family life.

 Karen , Annalize , Ralph and Larissa , may you treasure these little anecdotes of your parent’s wedding.

Photo credits: Subodh Amin

( pictures taken on regular film, and later copied by digital camera)

A Cold Night

Karen and Annalize

In the spring of  1989  ,  I was posted at the Centaur Lakeview Hotel , Srinagar. At  the earlier  posting in autumn of 1988, I had a bad time adjusting to the suddenness of that trip, and was terribly homesick.

Hence when I got news of this second posting, my family decided to help me by also taking a holiday at Srinagar during this time. We had  Karen ( nearly 3yrs old) and Annalize ( 1 and 1/2 years old) with Anjean and my Mum along for this trip.

They took the flight  to Srinagar via Delhi. I was thrilled to receive them at the airport.

As I looked throught  the terminal glass, I first saw Karen, who looked so lost amid the other passengers. When she saw me, her face brightened up as she wondered what I was doing beyond the glass panel. Finally all came through the formalities of  checking out of the terminal., and it was a grand  reunion of family with me.

We then  proceeded to tḥe  Hotel  Brown Palace for their short holiday.  I was granted 4 days leave during this time , to be with them.

The hotel was quaint with the comforts of a medium hotel. The family  room was spacious and well furnished . The General Manager gave us a warm welcome. He also cautioned us about the cold weather at night, and hence sent extra heaters.

We had dinner and retired to the room since they ( family) had travelled and needed to rest.

The room looked cosy with heavy curtain at the windows. We started  all the heaters.

Soon it was lights out and all in  bed. But the night was still young when little  Annalize cried and cried with the cold….despite the heaters., .. we could  do nothing., except cover her as best we could.

The temperature ,.was too low; the heaters made no difference, but  we survived the cold night.

As the sun rose next  morning,,and the weather changed a bit to become warmer, we met the .General Manager again. He  enquired “ how was your  night ?” … with a twinkle in his eye .

“ The heaters were not helpful , and our little ones could not bear the cold .” we responded.

 “ Its not surprising , that  you felt the cold. Your windows were open. I noticed this on my round last night,”

So with this embarrassing bit of information we made ,sure that the windows behind the heavy drapes were closed.

Thus  the remaining nights were peaceful, and we enjoyed the stay , and sightseeing in Srinagar.

Family group
with a shy poser

Tale of two tails ( the two pigeons)

“Say Saffy  , why don’t  we play a game.”  Suggests Daffy as he  and Saffy perch on the nearby parapet.

“Are you ok ? To think of playing games when all these humans are so stressed about some virus.”  

“Any way tell me what do you have in mind” Saffy looks with enquiring eyes.

“ Well have you ever thought of  how tḥe wind blows?”

“Daffy , I don’t understand what game this is? Please be  simple and clear.”

“ See, Saffy , when we fly, which is easier ; with the wind or against it ? “

“Obviously with the wind is easier.”

“Ok then , lets fly around the world , and see whether we reach this place agaiṇ.”

“ We can both go together , with the wind. “

Thus started ān adventure by these two pigeons . What is in Daffy’s mind ?

They both realized that as they flew, there was a lot to observe. The entire environment had changed. The skies were clear. Forests  reappeared.  The rivers flowed with pure water.

“Have you any idea whether there is still a hole in the sky?” asked Saffy.

“ I don’t understand such things , Saffy, but I do know that flyiṇg in the sky is less stressful and a real pleasure.”

The two friends continued ,their journey. They saw new developments …. not  the Crane and  Construction  work. No in the various  trees, nest building began with great fervour.

“Daffy , when do you plan to settle down ? “

 “Hey Saffy , please don’t speak about settling down. Just see what the smart humans have done with their ‘settling’ and ‘developing’ “

“ I’m surprised that  these people can stay in one place and quieten down. Why could they not do this earlier? Their incessant desire to be on the move, certainly caused changes, harmful to us. “

Thus Daffy and Saffy flew along , chatting all the time.

As they flew together ,they encountered   many other birds. The various calls and flurry of feathers, seemed  to be a celebration of life. Clouds floated serenely against blue skies .

“  Hey Daffy, just look below. Is this the new earth? “

“ What do you mean ‘new’ earth; it was always meant to be like this, until all the new ideas of man changed everything for the  worse. “

“ And Daffy,these same  humans , want to spread their ‘wings’ to the moon and beyond.”

“ You better not talk too much , Saffy, nowadays , we are being watched closely.”

The two pigeons soon realized that their dream of flying around the world , would not materialize.

The direction of winds changed and  they thought it best to return to old nesting places.

There is a saying that birds of a feather flock together. Dear reader, when you see the two pigeons of  differing  color and breed, does it surprise you ?

They have  one  tale to share, inspite of differing tails. . Where are we with our differences. Do exteriors matter?

Do the hearts that beat in man , differ ? Can the same heart love and hate at the same time?

Tell me what gives life?  The choice remains….can I love or hate? 

Will my choice determine peace or strife?

The Barbets

Why dost thou look at me ?

Will I steal from thy little nest,

so well prepared,

to allow only you and yours

to feed the little ones

Yes , you do not fail

In your search for food ;

a provider in earnest .

Where do you go

And how fast you return ?

They wait with outstretched beaks

To feed on the finest you bring ,

Surely that day will arrive,

When they too fly away.

So is the circle of life ,

They will find new trees

Build new nests

To bring in new lives

To begin a fresh verse

Malcolm Bids Adieu

Malcolm’s bravery showed as he  lived through the years, facing his challenges with acceptance.                             

He had a good track record having served in Gulf Air, Emirates, and Mahindras , where he served for 14years of which the last 4 years was with its Travel desk .

He was jovial, outgoing, fond of a good life, and  good food.

He had a wide circle of friends and at the end some very good friends ..Ratnakar Shetty, Winnie, Jason and myself.

His story is  a saga of living alone for about  20 years.  His friends  were very helpful to him. I began to understand Malcolm during this time.

His favourite game was  hockey . In fact it was through his links with Hillary Gomes, well known in hockey circles, that he began his final tenure at Mahindras. He accompanied the F United women’s hockey team to Dubai, Canada and New Zealand .   

He represented his school and college teams in hockey too.

One of his friends Cherian, recalls Malcolm’s conversations later dwelt on his passion for hockey, the airlines (his career) and a wish to visit places of pilgrimage . That wish was fulfilled when he made a trip to Holy Land with a group led by Cherian many years later.

He grew up in Bandra and I was surprised that one of my good friends Shailesh was a   friend of Malcolm too. I asked Shailesh to share some interesting incidents , when he knew Malcolm then,  but he was too embarrassed to share some crazy things they did when in college.

My earliest memories of Malcolm was when he was  at Gulf Air. He was a ḥandsome and popular young man  . At that time I was with the Air India Dining Facilitiies , and he often visited the snack bar outlet at the ground floor adjacent to the Gulf Air office. Of course with his wit and good nature , he was generally in very good and interesting company.

       His career graph improved when he joined Emirates and helped a host of people who needed international tickets to be confirmed. There was a time when  he  had two mobiles in his hand ,  speaking to different people , while solving their travel requirements. Malcolm also helped me at different times for my ticket confirmations or to get a good deal while booking with other airlines. Today times have changed ever since bookings can be  done online.

A  travel agent friend recalls when he approached Malcolm for a waiver on excess baggage for his passenger. Malcolm looked at him, stamped the voucher and left him with ‘choice words’ for his passenger. “Tell him to take it and ………..!”

During the last 4 years at the Travel Desk of Mahindras, Malcolm enjoyed his work. Captain Pandey HOD of the Aviation department of Mahindras greatly appreciated his work of coordinating the Pilot’s programme.

All Smiles

Malcolm lived  a lonely life at Mazagon. He once mentioned that it is not easy to come to an empty home. He had  good friends who were his anchor. They visited him and even had an occasional party .

His  career ended  when  his health began to gradually fail . The few friends kept in contact with him . Ratnakar Shetty his former boss, took on a role of a father figure to guide him in important matters . Winnie was a dear friend and former colleague, who checked on him and   visited occasionally with some favourite food items. He liked ‘Kane’ a Manglorean fish preparation. Any green curried preparation was always welcome.  Anjean and I too, knew Malcolm’s  favourites, Goa sausages ,  sorpotel,  pork vindaloo, veg au gratin and fried prawns . He loved to hear his piano being played on.  I occasionally obliged , with some simple tunes to keep the piano in tune. I visited him with Holy Communion , as a Eucharistic Minister, and even otherwise to chat for sometime.

His two good friends , Richard and Jimmy visited him often  to check on any requirements. His neighbours Sunny and Maxy , too were helpful, to him. He had  relatives Swithin and Blossom staying near him who were always willing to help when needed.

His final years were a struggle due to failing health. Visits to the hospital were frequent and the list of medicines quite long, He was very organized at home not only about these medicines, but also with the cleanliness of the home .

Jason recalls that Malcolm liked the NonVeg Club Sanwich , from the Bandra  Gym ,and waited for a visit from  Jason and his father. He relished it slice by slice. One cannot forget his interest in ‘ Housie’ at the Catholic Gym, which he enjoyed with his  friends on a Sunday.

Malcolm was financially stable and did not require any monetary assistance from anyone. He was generous. The elderly  maid  who  worked at his home finally became very sick and  went to her nephew’s home.  Malcolm ensured that she was given a monthly sum of money for her medical care, until she passed away.

Winnie and Shetty arranged for two ward boys to care for him towards the end, by day and night, and also a regular supply of meals. Shetty ensured that the wardboys were monitored , through phone calls and  guidelines for them.

My last visit to Malcolm was  sad. He had gone down in health and my brother Gerald  his doctor, recommended  hospitalisation. Its a pity  that   within 15 days he breathed his last , Those days were consistently in the ICCU. Two friends were constant visitors. Jason from Bandra and Winnie wḥo commuted from Santa Cruz.   Winnie was with him the last evening , and Malcolm had tears in his eyes, when he heard his name being called. He knew it was time to go. That night  my mobile rang at 2.30am .  Nitin his faithful wardboy , informed me that  Malcolm was no more.

I must mention that Malcolm made his peace with God . He left with a heart of forgiveness and reconciliation. He received the last sacraments and holy anointing  before he departed.

He is at peace. His sufferings ended. Sadly, due to the corona virus lockdown, only 5 persons were at his funeral.

 Many of us missed bidding him farewell. Shirley a relative, Jason,  Winnie and Fr Shavito were present with the undertaker Abbas who was very helpful .

In Cherian’s words “ His soul finally embarked upon a joyous journey of peace, happiness and eternity .

Adieu, Malcolm, auf wiedersehen! Our prayers are with you.“

Rest in peace dear Malcolm

Sully in solitary splendour

Sully

Sully the pristine parrot liked to view his flock of friends from a distance.

Among them, Tom , Dick and Harry chased after daily necessities..food at the top of their list of needs

Tom asked Sully “ Don’t you feel hungry ?”

“ Why ? Being apart gives me time to think and observe.” replied Sully.

Dick asked “what do you observe?”

“Oh , the scramble for food and a lack of concern for the other”

Harry interjected “ So , you think we are selfish!”

“Oh no , I mean , there are ways of seeking food , without outdoing the others and competing with the crows and pigeons.”

“Besides ? I may find tasty morsels from my perch , with an eagles eye.” said Sully.

Suddenly an eagle swooped down and carried away a tiny sparrow .

“Did you see that ? And there are some delicious live insects and worms , much better than the feeder with boring grain.”

Leader Tom now quite irritated shrieked “ You think you know it all.”

Sully looked on “ Does it disturb you that I am on my perch , enjoying the cool breeze and observing your crazy scramble ?”

“ Will food run out ?”

So this was the reason for the scramble :

Will I take what I require for today, or grab and horde , for tomorrow?

Do I care for the needs of others .

I saw the coppersmith barbet carrying morsels of food for its young in the nest holed out in the bark of the May flower tree.

Coppersmith Barbet

Do not worry

‘Your Heavenly Father feeds them all.’ (Matthew 6:26b)

The Crow’s Nest (A ray of hope)

A couple of crows

Preparing their home

With bare necessities ,

Branches , and anything in sight

They fly to and fro

Up and down ,

Beaks holding

A stick or two for a nest.

I see a ray of Hope as these crows

Prepare for new lives

Despite the silence of

People in lockdown mode .

Is this not a sign from the Master,

Of new life ahead?

Just as the dove held an olive branch

At the end of the great flood ?

Thank you Lord

For your love and compassion

You care for us

And your mercies are endless .