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The Trees Passer

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FREEDOM

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

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

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

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

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

So what is freedom?

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

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

Where the mind is without fear

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

Where knowledge is free

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments

By narrow domestic walls

Where words come out from the depth of truth

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way

Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit

Where the mind is led forward by thee

Into ever-widening thought and action

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

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

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

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

Have you sought this answer?

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

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

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

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

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

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

They trust their Creator implicitly for all their needs.

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

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

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

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

Smell the Coffee

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then the New Year started with a bang!

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

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

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

Looks like its time for his family to begin.

Then I remember this quote from  St Bernadette to her Sisters

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

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

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

But really, are you ‘alone’ ?

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

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

……. and let your thoughts flow…………..

let your thoughts flow…………..

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?

 

 

 

The Train……of Thought

 

The quiet of day

And the distant hoot

Of a train hurrying

To its end;

Sets  my thoughts

Of past holidays

With family

 

The city disappears

In the dark of night

Save the twinkling of

Its  lights.

The thrill of brothers

Excited at the trip

Tease to irritate.

 

Dawn breaks next day

With the chug of the

Steam engine

Sleek in shape;

Smoke in your eyes

Tears streaming away

 

Cotton fields whiz past

But where are they now?

 

My  Train

Of thought streams

Into the present

Faster and longer

Running out of steam

Into the electric age

 

More cities

Less country

I see the signs  to

Save the environment

And then

back to the future

 

Are you with me

On this train

Of thought ?

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.

Grace filled Holiday

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Flying and driving seem quite different and yet so similar. Its true that pilots manouvre their aircrafts and drivers steer their vehicles. But my experience of driving to Goa by car was akin to flying. The route via highway NH4(NH 47 as it shows on signboards) is memorable. The roads have been maintained very well. No wonder that one experiences ‘flying’.

I called it Grace filled, as I am one who has at various times experienced ‘road rage’. This is so common specially in Mumbai. But the miracle of this trip was a spirit of calmness and peace.

Even in Goa, our outings were so good. Mind you, in India there is a lot of rancor about the demonetization, and people expressing their annoyance and frustration in this regard.

What I saw in Goa was so different. People were peacefully conducting their lives without much ado.

We visited family and friends within the few days on this trip. Our guest on this trip, a Brother, who helps us in community building work, took time off, to take in the breath of Goa.

Most likely his presence was instrumental in the grace we experienced. We were given warm welcomes at different homes. Hospitality in Goa is such that the best is offered at the dining table. ‘ No thank you, that’s enough’ is a phrase which will not be entertained. You can just imagine what happens when you visit three homes in one day.

The conversations brought back memories of the past. Pets, gardens and the well laid out properties, were  a good part of this fellowship. In one of the cousins place we witnessed Goa of old, where even farming was given importance. Ponds brimming with fish, cattle, ( with Gobar gas to provide home fuel), coconut trees, pet dogs reminded me of the natural Goa, which is slowly evolving to a modern Goa.

Methinks , that an avid photographer will thoroughly enjoy such moments; to capture memories and look back at them, is priceless. Now I understand why there are so many pictures of sunsets and sunrises. When you visit the beaches of Goa, the sunset takes your breath away. It is so beautiful that you will just look with awe; surely God is the Marvellous Artist in all His creation.

During this short sojourn, I was very keen on visiting an old cousin who I had not seen for the past 4-5 years. It gave me great joy to see him. He also shared some of his profound experiences of God speaking into his life. He lives alone and yet is in touch with the world around him. Another uncle was happy to see us, but did not speak much. Our presence was enough to bring him solace.

A very touching moment of visits to family was one to another cousin who has been diagnosed with cancer. Joy, suffering , love and faith, and the expression of this faith in action was a revelation. We prayed together, more importantly for acceptance of the moment and God’s will. Her faith in God, over the  years and specially now through her suffering, has brought about a transformation in my cousin’s family, wherein her immediate family have become faithfilled and have renewed lives.

Our final day in Goa, was at the Bay15, a quaint place close to the seaside. Words cannot describe the sunset we experienced at this place. The ambience of the resort matched the environment.

Log cabins, a little swimming pool, a spread out dining area with each table having a natural  thatched roof, was so beautiful. That was the last day, but the best , as we had enough time on hand to relax and just enjoy the moment with a quiet meal.

I have only  shared  about the sunsets in Goa. On the journey back to Mumbai, we left before sunrise. We were just past the outskirts of Goa, when the sun rose in all its splendor. I was flushed with excitement, and saw this while driving and also in the side mirror. My wish was…..to photograph this scene. But all wishes cannot be granted. I was not alone , and the urgency to move on, prevailed.

Much later while reaching Amboli, we stopped for breakfast. Here we  made up for the missed oppportunity of clicking the sunrise. We got  a scenic view of the valley from the mountain top , a reflection of the sun’s rays from behind our vantage point. This moment requires to be still and just take in the awesomeness of nature.

We breezed through the remaining journey. At  lunch hour I got the windmills on their slow rotation. The best part of the journey was sailing through the Pune Expressway , above Pune, which made our drive that much shorter. I had never driven from Pune to Mumbai in 2 hours,  but was thrilled when this happened. The bonus of the entire trip was that we did not have to pay any toll fees throughout the journey, thanks to  the relief measure to offset the turmoil of short change against the retired Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes.

I ask you a question. Can we smile even when we are immersed in difficulities. Can we be joyous inspite of the miserable conditions prevailing.

My answer is a resounding ‘Yes’ ! As this Brother says ,we can always rise above our circumstances. Nothing can stop that, when we have the eyes of a loving Father ‘God’ who cares for us as His own son/daughter.

 

This day -To-day -Matters

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Amazed am I

To see the rapid change

All around me

Things that looked forever

Now suddenly disappearing

Into the global phenomenon

With so many names

One of them ‘Diaspora’

 

Pray do we know anything

Of the future

Oh yes the past

And the present ,

Who does not !

Children grow up

And move on….

Can you ever ever go

Into their future lives?

 

Save the present and

Live it to the full!

Life in abundance

Every moment to cherish.

After all life is a gift

No matter what age

And what circumstance.

 

You and I have 24 hours

Live as if this day

Is all one has

You will then know

Important from the unimportant

Learn to forgive, love, care, and also

Rejoice,

For this is the Day the Lord has made!!!!