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Try a little kindness

What does a young man do at times when the pandemic is prevalent.

Sam looked out of his window facing the road at Bandra. He is tall , very observant and a computer wizard . At heart he is compassionate.

He saw a very dejected looking man plodding past his home, at the end of the day . He seemed tired. Eyes were intense and lips red from chewing Paan . He was a bit grey, heavy set, with a drooping moustache.

Sam guessed the man needed help.

He hurried out to meet this man

“Where are you going ? Can I help you?

asked Sam

“Oh , I don’t know where ; I’ve lost hope “replied the man

“What is your name? Why are you not wearing your mask,” ( for protection during the Covid pandemic)

He quickly pulled out his mask and then replied :

“ My name is Mohan. I worked as a manual labourer at a godown, in Sion. Now there is no work , what can I do.”

Sam asked him a few questions about his work in the current pandemic . This triggered a flood of responses .

“Due to the restrictions most constructions have stopped. So how will there be any work? “

“Will you return to your village? “ enquired Sam

“I am worried as there are limited trains and many people like me ( migrant workers) are returning to their homes in the villages . “ said Mohan

“Do you have a place to stay? “

“Only for one week more , as I don’t have money to pay rent for the next month.”

“How about your food?”

“I cook just Dal /Rotis and veg , what is available, just one meal a day

It then struck Sam to direct Mohan to food counters set up outside the church nearby.

“Mohan, please go to St. Peter’s Church and you will meet some people who will help you.”

“Also Mohan , I will help you in booking a ticket to go home at your village. But please take care and wear your mask ok?”

Mohan’s entire demeanour changed . Hope returned , with a simple gesture of compassion from Sam .

Conclusion :

How can I help others during these times of trial ?

If you see your brother standing by the road

With a heavy load …..

Try a little kindness ( song by Glen Campbell)

Yes at St Peter’s Church , like many others , volunteers are doing yeoman service in providing food packets to many who are in need .

( Paan : is chewed after a meal or even at anytime . It is made of betel nut , chuna : slaked lime and red katha paste : from acacia tree and wrapped in betel leaf )

Back in time – to Goa

At a ferry crossing

In recent times Goa has been a popular tourist destination

About 60 years ago before Goa was liberated from Portuguese rule , it was a quiet place . Fields , rivers and its beaches were serene and beautiful. Goans were at peace and mingled easily with the Portuguese .

My journey commenced when I was aged 9 years . As a family we sailed from Bombay (now Mumbai) by one of the steamers namely Sabarmati which operated between Bombay and Karachi. We stopped at several ports until reaching Karwar . Due to the size of the ship, we disembarked into a smaller boat to take us ashore . The highlight of the voyage was the service of meals in the cabin . It was a typically Goan meal with fish , curry and rice or an option for a Continental meal . But the dessert was a grand finale as the waiter announced ‘ Caa.ra..mel , in a long drawl , making it sound the most delicious sweet . Yes the Caramel dessert lived up to its name.

In the evening an announcement was made for housie (tambola) and passengers flocked to the upper deck .

This voyage lasted for about 20-22 hours

We spent a day and night at Karwar in a quaint hotel with just the basics . The proprietor told us about a beach nearby . This was a disappointment, as it was only a stretch of sand near the sea.

Next morning we got ready after an early breakfast to cross by ferry to Sadashivgad .

At the jetty a poor blind beggar sat at the road side, singing a song ‘ Bombai cho Babu Goiem voita ani Goencho Babu Bombai voita’ with small hand cymbals to resonate.( a song for the travellers passing him to and fro). I vividly remember him with sadness.

From there , we travelled a 7km journey by bus to the southern border of Goa.

The next stage was to cross over ‘No Man‘s Land ‘, so called as this was a stretch between the border of India and Goa . We walked for about 5 minutes and reached Polem the border town of Goa

I don’t remember whether passports or visas were required , possibly a permit. The Portuguese soldiers manning the Goan side were quite impressive. They had smart uniforms ,with shorts , and revolvers at their side.

I recall a few interesting memories , at the border. It was a hot summer , and soft drink and soda bottles were being sold . While opening these bottles a loud wheezing sound would emit . Something like jaa-een -ka . It really amused me . The bottle had a marble at the top, which prevented the aeration to escape until the marble was pressed down by a special opener like a cap

Soda bottle

My grandfather from Goa, waited patiently to receive us in Polem. That moment was an emotional one for us specially for my mother who was seeing her father after some years .

Another thrill awaited us as my grandfather had engaged a private taxi to drive us all the way to Bardez, in North Goa. The taxi was of brand Peugeot , which thrilled us.

We hardly saw any foreign cars in Bombay at that time, except the Fiat , Standard or a Morris Minor. Our family car was a hump backed Dodge. I was surprised to see so many foreign cars and buses in Goa

Our taxi driver was well attired like a royal chauffeur , and a hat to top it all .

Goa was so beautiful as we passed forests , fields , homes and many , many churches and chapels . I still remember our chauffeur doffing his hat as we passed every church or chapel .

In those days , we grew up making the sign of the cross as we passed the church. I was quite scrupulous in doing this and would remind my brothers to do the same .

Crossing the river by ferry became a moment of curiosity and tension .

After a long drive , about 3-4 hours we reached our home in Goa . A warm welcome from my grandmother awaited us . She cried tears of joy to see us . So started my first holiday in Goa.

I dream of those days , going river fishing with my grandpa, and playing hockey in the fields with the local boys . We returned home to drink those fizzy beverages made by dropping a tablet in a glass of water. The evenings ended with stories of Africa by my grandpa .

He had a wealth of stories for us , about his time in Kenya, East Africa while serving with the District Administration.

I will leave that for another time to relate these to you dear reader.

Shooting The Robins

The Pair of Robins

At first I saw only Mr Robin . He was quick as if on a mission . He proudly displayed his red chest. With short flights he flew first to the fence ; looked around and then descended onto the lawn .

“ Wait a while my dear , I will get a few leaves for our nest. “

“Yes ” replied Mrs Robin “ Yes indeed , with the winter gone , we need to hurry. “As she sat on the opposite fence below a bush all puffed up . They were soon to start their little family .

That’s the time a shot rang out . Mr Robin disappeared to safety .

There was silence for sometime. Mrs Robin seemed unconcerned on her perch amidst the bush over the fence .

Again Mr Robin flew down into the grass caught a another leaf in its beak , just in time as the second shot sounded .

This time his partner too flew off and he followed .

What were these shots …. would anyone try shooting robins ?

…….after all even the click of a camera will be loud enough for robins to fly away . Do you think they will return tomorrow ?

Turn off the Shower

Running shower head

So it’s Day 3,of my stay at the hospital.

The care has been excellent. I’m in line for the CAR-T Cell Therapy at Glasgow. In view of this latest treatment for cancer, hygiene is given utmost importance. My room is self contained with the bath attached.

This morning I arose a little late as I was in pain .

As a result, my morning routine changed . I had breakfast and then proceeded for a shower. I was surprised when the nurse called out a little later,

“Turn off the shower.”

“I’m ok “ I replied , thinking that she came to help me .

Again she called out with urgency.

So I hurriedly wrapped the towel around me with some soap still on myself.

As I opened the bathroom door I saw a pool of water in the room. Water had also flowed out into the corridor .

Most embarrassing: three nurses were helping to swab the floor.

I asked them apologetically , “ How do I continue to shower?”

“ Turn the shower towards the wall.” was the response . ( apparently this had happened before)

So the next time I will have to go into the wall !….I chuckled to myself.

Solution : a mason or plumber required to channel the flow of water into the drain .

Some think , the nurses may have to wait for a good length of time before that happens.

In the mean time here’s advice to all including me “turn off the shower’ and save water !”

Tennis Laff

That’s me Vincy

Have you ever laughed at yourself?

Try it ….and enjoy it .

I’ve always been an avid tennis lover – Playing the game and following it too.

We have seen some great tennis players over the years. Among them I had favorites like

Roger Federer, Rod Laver , Boris Becker , Bjorn Borg , Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi

The intensity of Rafael Nadal surprised me as I thought he would fade away as a result of the way he played. Kudos for his disciplined approach to fitness which stood him well.

The biggest draw at the peak of his career was John McEnroe. The red band and the fiery temper had been a unique pattern of tennis on court .

This caricature by Ian my son in law, surprised me as it linked the famous McEnroe to me . My tennis cannot be compared to him though at some time in my younger days I could compete for being very short tempered .

Those days we played with normal racket heads whereas times have changed . Today the large head is an advantage not to forget a head that is tough and talented .

So cheers to Ian for helping me reminisce the past, when great tennis rivalries continued over the years.

I eagerly wait to get back on court and enjoy a good game.

The Artist

I am free

Lord , you set me free
When you showed me
the cross
to be a victory
and not a loss

I see with new sight
Your creation
with it’s touch of the beauty
of a flower in bloom
and a bird in flight .

Birds and flowers
pass away
From where do they come
And where do they go
I know

To you ,the One
Who gives us life
Forgives and redeems
Who cares and loves
you and me

So ,I give you thanks
I give you praise,
You give me peace
When you hold me
I am free

The Shepherd( Adapted from Psalm 23)

Have you met the shepherd

Pray what does he do

when caring for sheep

With staff in hand

he guards and guides

At night or day

to green pastures

and fresh river waters .

He carries the sick

Binds their wounds

Looks for the stray

to return to the fold

By night to watch

the sheep in the pen

with staff to guard

from lurking danger

Pray , who is the Shepherd

who cares so well

not only sheep

but you and me

He is the Eternal One

who is the sheep gate

he guards my going out

and coming in

Have you listened

when He calls

Do you know his voice

You can trust in him

His love is eternal

Timeline

Into the sunset or SONRISE

The suddenness of knowing

time is limited

yes doctors have their say

to share the reality of it all

How am I able to accept it ?

Is it something that only I see;

and you, do you know

you have a timeline

In preparing for the final outcome

Will I despair or be despondent

Or will I begin to trust my Lord

and live one day at a time

To live in the present

and do the things that need to be done

Not forgetting to include those things

that bring me joy

Therefore , I cherish the good

and the loved ones with me,

as I strive towards

the high calling of Jesus Christ

to see my Lord face to face.

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)

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)