Category Archives: Life

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

http://abnb.me/EVmg/TRDWPO2k8A

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Down Memory Lane with Tyronne

 

 

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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.

 

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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!

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Celebrate life

 

In keeping with my blog  ‘ Before or After ‘ , I  wish these lines were written earlier. But its with a sense of gratitude and joy that I write these lines.

My dear cousin Annette has just passed away ….rather, moved on to her final destination. She had battled with cancer. During this time she went through  a wide range of thoughts, questions, and moments of despair. She was always faithfilled in life, and sought the Lord with great devotion. But her sense of abandonment surfaced towards the end , and as mentioned by the priest in his homily, this is a sign of holiness, which even Mother Teresa experienced much of her life…..why Jesus Christ Himself cried out  while on the cross,‘ My Lord, my Lord , why has Thou forsaken me?

But thereafter, at the funeral service, the unexpected happened. This became a celebration of life. Annette was remembered by the way she had touched the life of her own family, and so many others. I was amazed to see the crowded church and packed cemetery. Her daughter Erica recounted with such joy, her mother’s faith; this with 3 specific miracles, before Erica’s birth. Though doctors had expressed grave concerns, during this time, eventually a healthy baby was born.  Erica wore red….to express her joy for her mother. Her son Vernon, requested all in the church not to mourn and express condolences, but to celebrate with joy.  Raul ( her daughter Sharon’s husband) recollected interesting discussions on faith, which moved him to an even more deeper trust in the Lord.This is  what Annette wished. And when we returned to her home, SEAN’S NEST, we saw the dining table laden with the goodies that Annette always served us on our many previous visits. Her husband Sergio accepted all this with a spirit of calm and quietness.

The moments of prayer and quietness over, we  shared the joys of happy memories. As a mother she was concerned, caring and watchful over her brood of 3 children. In an interesting incident , we heard how she once gave a surprise visit to a pub/disco , to check on her son who was one of the leading disc jockeys in Goa. She entered with the determination of a mother on mission, and guess what…..she saw her son at work…. Puffing away, cigarette In hand ….I do not know the aftermath of this incident…..its best left to one’s imagination.

Annette was one of my closest cousins, more like a sister, when I was young. After all, I had 4 brothers and no sisters. Even when I had started off with my own family, she would always make us so welcome on our visits to Goa.

During this most recent stage of her life, she became a whatsapp friendly person. These were times when we exchanged some very interesting , humorous and encouraging notes. I was privileged to see her until April 2017 , when most people were not being allowed to visit her. After this for the next few months , her whatsapp messages stopped and only Erica shared messages on her health conditions. Occassionaly I sent some scripture verses and prayers, to be voiced to Annette.

On the Sunday morning of 23rd July 2017, during my quiet time, the Lord moved me to read Wisdom 3:1-7a, 9  I quote:

‘ But the souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God,

no torment shall ever touch them.

In the eyes of the unwise, they did appear to die,

their going  looked like a disaster,

their leaving us, like annihilation;

but they are in peace.

If they experienced punishment as men see it,

their hope was rich with immortality;

slight was their affliction, great will their blessing be.

God has put them to the test

and proved them worthy to be with him;

he has tested them like gold in a furnace,

and accepted them as a holocaust.

When the time comes for his visitation they will shine out;

they who trust in him will understand the truth,

those who are faithful will live with him in love;

for grace and mercy await those he has chosen.’

I Immediately shared this Word with Erica, and that same evening Annette passed away.

My last view of Annette was at the end of the church service; but strangely I also saw at the far side of the church,  the picture of the 13th station of the cross, depicting  Jesus’ body being taken down from the cross…

It was not the end, as we all know; in the resurrection….there is a new life…. beyond….

Where mourning turns to dancing, and every tear is wiped away.

May you experience rest in Christ, and eternal joy, Annette.

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?