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A fair poll ….for honesty

In a democracy one looks forward to a fair poll . Since the days of the ballot paper vote, the EVM ( Electoral Voters Machine) is the recent development. On the face of it , this may seem a good way of voting . It is quick and immediately sends the vote to the respective candidate , once the voter presses the button of a particular candidate .

Have you heard of the EVM being misused or even of defective machines . There have been reports that in such cases , whatever button is pressed for voting a specific candidate , the vote does not go to that candidate, but elsewhere to another candidate through manipulation of the machine or through a defect.

Political parties have been raising their voices to revert back to the traditional ballot paper.

This may be a better option and give less chances for any fraud.

You may be aware of booth capturing by goons who deprive the people of their fair vote .

There have been cases , shown on video , in a certain country , where inspite of having ballot paper vote , the ballot boxes were being stuffed with fake votes for a particular party . No wonder these dubious means of conducting elections ensures a particular party or person continues in office .

What constitutes a fair election ? Will we see the days of honesty being given priority .

Will we see democracy being replaced by a dictator or fascist government?

One of the most disturbing developments is to see elected candidates being bought over by the party in power.

Whom do we blame the giver or the receiver ?

What is your opinion of what constitutes a fair poll ?

Captain or Manager ?

Damien and Sean were two good friends in high school . They made it to university together .

Damien was a sportsman and loved football . He was tall and tough , with tousled hair , aggressive and practical .

Sean had expressive eyes, brilliant ideas and a friendly approach . He was of medium height and neatly attired

During their life in University , Damien shone in sports specially in football . He captained his team and led from the front.

Sean too did well . He was an all rounder. He did well in academics and also took a lot of interest in sports. He followed the latest exploits of the football team .

What are the attributes of good leadership ?

On and off the field !

Damien is a hands on leader . He inspires his team by his aggressive approach ; a never say die attitude even in the face of defeat .His presence on the pitch , gives an impetus to the team for playing at their very best.

What about Sean ?

Sean can strategise for the team . His knowledge of team players helps in the final lineup or to bring on a player as substitute at crucial times of the match . He also is a great motivator .

The half time chats mean a lot to his team when they are trailing the opponents . He can advise, and change tactics with positional play.

His interaction with the seniors on selection or inducting new players goes a long way .

Empathy, and emotional intelligence too goes a long way in understanding the team members . It’s not only about winning but also about dealing with a loss or poor performance.

Do you think one is better than the other ?

We have great examples of team captains becoming managers/coaches later .

Some examples are

Zinidane captained France at the World Cup and now successively manages Real Madrid

Steve Gerard captained England , Liverpool and now manages Team Rangers .

One cannot forget Sir Alex Ferguson who had a long and successful tenure with the ManUnited team. He balanced discipline with love, and team members remember him as a father figure.

On a personal note , I am very impressed with Juergen Klopp with the way he handles his team , Liverpool. You can see his response to victory with such enthusiasm and defeat with maturity.

So dear reader a penny for your thoughts for whom you think offers good leadership

Damien or Sean ?

Rays of Light

Malachi 4:1-3

But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness will shine out with healing in its rays ; you will leap like calves going out to pasture

You O Lord Renew us

With rays of righteousness ;

Each morn a reminder ,

that light overcomes the dark

When the sun comes streaming in ,

it brings light and warmth

but your Son true light of life ,

brings joy and restores

Renew us O Lord,

with rays of love and mercy

And bring healing in it’s wake

As we wait on you

Thank you Lord,

Is my prayer today,

remaining ever faithful

to you the Holy One

The Time Warp!

As my head touched the grass , my mind drifted into dreams of the past .

I remember Kahlil Gibran quoting that homes caged the dreams of people who needed to be free . In the midst of comforts they lost their freedom to experience nature .

The touch of grass , the cottony clouds above against the backdrop of the azure sky .

Memories go back to an evening near the Daal Lake . The grass had a golden hue and the waters of the lake a shimmering silver with the sun setting gradually . That was a sublime moment .

Then I remember the time a few of my friends went camping in the hills . We carried some food and spent overnight at that spot. A visit of a snake interrupted the quiet night and we had a restless night after that.

Memories to the University Stadium where I trained on the racing tracks . Victories in the 1500 meters race shine out from that time warp. Specially taking the lead before the last lap with a final burst of speed to leave the others far behind .

We played hockey matches at the centre of the grounds . Captaincy gave me the buoyancy to lead the college team with determination. We played the best team those days … and limited them to just a 2-0 victory . We defended so well that our skillful opponents could not easily penetrate our defence , to increase their score.

A highlight of one match was to avenge a rough tackle on my team mate . I waited for an opportune moment and swung my stick onto the Center forward’s leg instead of the ball . Obviously I was penalised . To top it all , that opponent came to deal with me aggressively after the match.

However the opponent captain was known to me and intervened to settle the matter amicably .

Another memory comes back while on a 3 day camp with youth . We trudged up a hill . On reaching the top we got an amazing picture taken of several youth jumping into the sky together.

The most memorable of all was the time I visited London for my daughter’s convocation. At her celebratory party , I sang my favorite song ‘Geeen green grass of home ‘ tweaking the words to honour her.

The memories of my home still linger as in time I’ve moved on to new events , places and find that they become memories too!

Can homes shackle us from a glimpse of freedom ?

Or is there something better still to come ?

Where nature and heaven beckons !

Burnout ?

A lot has been said about ‘burnout’. To me it is a gradual exhaustion of both our mental and physical condition ?

This had taken a toll on my entire being . I got so caught up with meeting deadlines, that I realized my life line was in jeopardy . Will I burn out ?

Who will understand this.

I need to reflect on this myself. Which means to slow down. Awareness of the present is so important.Who has been my anchor if not my Saviour Jesus Christ when passing through troubled waters . Awareness of his presence is even more important.

‘Should you pass through the sea, I will be with you ; or through rivers, they will not swallow you up. Should you walk through fire, you will not be scorched and the flames will not burn you.’ (Isaiah 43:2 )

He has seen me through every challenge. As a student through the difficult days of academic and exam stress, and failed relationships.

Then in the work place to get along with my colleagues , bosses and subordinates.

Along with these challenges , health factors have come in through physical and emotional breakdowns and to a more serious illness like cancer.

There have been times of great success too ! He has literally lifted me from the ashes to high places.

Jesus has been my fortress and tower to run to in times of distress . He gives strength, courage , grace and most importantly his awesome love.

I cherish the people he sent into my life. From family to friends and doctors to even those who have been severe critics . All had a role to shape me into the person I am now.

What is my secret ?

It is to abide in Jesus . Without him I am nothing . He makes it clear when he says

‘I am the vine and you are the branches . Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing .

Anyone who does not remain in me is like a branch that has been thrown away – he withers; these branches are collected and thrown on the fire and they are burnt. (John 15:5,6)

To remain in him , I need to spend time with him in prayer, read scripture and frequent the sacraments .

Many today say “ I do not have time.”

In today’s situation , can the same be said ?

If a person loses his job , I’m sure he will have enough time on his hands . What happens when severe illness strikes?

So why wait for a dire situation to arise ?

Why not start praying daily ; to seek the Lord and be saved ?

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.

Do you Perceive

It’s in details that a lot is discovered .

How does one understand this ?

It takes a lot of patience and minute perception to see and then take it forward .

I was not too interested in details : It’s only when doing sugar craft flowers that this aspect became important .

Each flower has so much to see and carve. Just imagine how God has created so much beauty and variety . Just visit the hills in summer and see the wild flowers . I won’t even know the various names , to the extent of the range of diversity .

Artists are good at perception . They look at details around them in nature and human beings too . They can bring out the character of a person so well . Every detail of expression of the face is brought out in the drawing or painting .

Authors do this in words which give a picture in the mind of the reader, when more details are described.

The more gifted the author , the more is the ability to capture a person’s characteristics in words . The reader can visualise and imagine the person being described. This can even permeate into the dialogue and various ways of the person’s speech.

Finally a word of how the eyes and face reveal a lot in real life … what is innermost in a person . The good within exudes a beauty of the individual which one sees . The opposite too happens when a person carries hatred and revenge.

‘ More than all else, keep watch over your heart, since here are the wellsprings of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

Glad heart means happy face (Proverbs 15:13b)

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 !”