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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!!!!

 

 

God’s Endless Love

From where did I come ,
Where do I go?
You are ,
You were,
You will always
Be present

Your love sustains me,
You envelope me,
Accepting me as I am.
Your promises never fail.

Why did you die for me,
A Sinner?
You still live;
And In You, I live and move,
And have my being.

The Cross will always be,
My emblem,
Of Your endless Love!
The Father’s Love,
For me.

Fleeting thoughts —-  Quo Vadis ?

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What is in a birthday?  Comes a time when one suddenly appreciates this special day and needs   time to reflect.

I have fond memories of my childhood. A twin brother was a bonus. In addition I had three more elder brothers. School days came back to me in a flash. On my birthday , I had a good laugh recollecting those days.

College was even more interesting. Newfound freedom in everything….sports, relationships and studies. But there lies the turning point. With all the fun and popularity there was a downside to this as I never organized my studies and often times exams brought on stress which left me unprepared.

Thereafter involved a change of streams in discipline several times until I finished with Hotel Management and went on to make a career in it.

The best part of this entire youth stage of my life , helped me in two ways.

  1. I suffered a lot with failed relationships, a very average performance in college after the frequent changes and poor self image
  2. Those very setbacks, helped me to understand youth much later

The most Important aspect of all the setbacks was my search for the Lord and then encountering Him not just once but on numerous occasions. He is today my ALL.

I am blessed with a loving wife who is my best friend, and 4 lovely children. They have now grown up and finding their way in life. All have grown in their faith walk.

After a  diversified career : I say diverse as I first spent 28 years in the hotel division of Air India. It seemed interminable and boring until I discovered in the latter 6 years of this tenure, who is the real ‘Boss’. Obviously it is the Lord Almighty. Thereafter I saw fruitfulness in my work and later was bold enough to quit the organization and move as a lecturer with the Naval Institute of Technology. My  career then just went into high drive when I was appointed Principal of the Naval Institute. This was a revelation as to how the Lord empowers a person with wisdom when He appoints, and when He is given first place in one’s life.

After 4years of service at the Institute I was offered the Senior Manager’s position at the YMCA International House at Mumbai Central. These were opportunities to give back what I received when I struggled. I look back with joy , for the opportunity to serve so many, and specially the youth.

My Youth Work at the Church Community was also blessed , and it gave me great joy to be an instrument to serve the Lord and help so many youth in their faith walk.

Today I now  lead the adult community , with its outreaches to young couples , young professionals and youth. The work is challenging, more than the secular career, but a joy to know that I serve in the Lord’s vineyard.

I look ahead and wonder, …. and am fascinated to see such developments. I have also become a grandfather. I can talk a lot of my children, but then it requires another blog.

Where to from here? At 65 is it time to slow down? Do I need to spend  more time in contemplation. I read and reread many a time the gospel passage which relates to  Mary and Martha. Mary took the best part. Did that mean that she neglected her responsibilities. I wonder.

But I know that the more time I give of myself , to the Lord, the more and better can I receive grace to serve Him in  the ways He calls me.

I also wonder from the human angle , how does one adjust to the empty nest.

I often think of the future. I think that presently I am ready for His call. But then do I have a choice.

What if He requires me to stay on till the age when one cannot go where one wishes to go….as Peter was told. How does one deal with failing memory and other faculties.

I know that I will always take one day at a time. Do the best I can. And leave the rest to our Father in Heaven. May His Name be glorified forever!!! Till that Day , when I see Him face to face!