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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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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 ?

Remain in my love

 

 

The Glory of the morning was evident when the sun’s rays highlighted the beautiful flower we call the Morning Glory. It is a very commonly seen flower which grows profusely on fences and makes an excellent screen.

However I write to  share my thoughts on the way God’s love helps me to face difficult moments, which is reinforced  by  observing the beauty of the Morning Glory.

Inspite of all the rigors of nature , the sunshine brings out the best in this beautiful blue flower.

I reflect on this, and realize, that all problems are not that easy to solve on my own. Just taking time off , and being quiet in the Lord’s presence like the flower basking in the morning sun, is a good reminder that the Lord’s wisdom is sufficient, provided I am quiet and have an attitude of listening.

So every day, whenever I face tough decisions or problems, I remind myself : It is time to be quiet and cast my burden on the Lord. His grace and wisdom is sufficient. He brings out the best in me.

Thank you Morning Glory for being such a good example of being open to God’s Love.

Let not bitterness, hatred and strife, steal you from this love of God.

In John 15:9 Jesus says’ As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.

Remain in my love,’

The Struggle 

 

He never gave up. He was of mild build, with intense eyes. His school days were like any other boy of his age. He studied well and participated in games and did well in his exams.

But his struggle started in college. He suddenly discovered a sense of freedom. He was popular in the class. He took part in sports and even captained the hockey team. The girls in his class liked him and this is where he stumbled . He got so involved with sport and his special friends that he just could not balance his life between sport, study and friends.
His first year was good and he succeeded in doing well. A key point in his studies was the method involved. He had always studied from notes prepared by the teacher in school days. Now times had changed and in college he had to either make his own notes from class lectures and reference books or then take the help of guide books.
With no proper system in place he left things to the last and when the time for exams came up, he would just crash. He never knew what had hit him ; this seriously affected his performances in exams and later led to him not appearing for some exams.
The struggle went on, into professional college with several changes in the chosen streams.
His breakthrough came about when one day he visited the college library. He borrowed a text book and tried his hand at making his own notes . ……It was then that he tasted success. He never looked back and thereon persevered through several other challenges.
How did he make this breakthrough. Two things happened . He had a mother who prayed for him daily, through all his struggles. He too discovered that his time of prayer with the Lord actually helped him immensely, and he gave a minimum of one hour of his time in prayer with the Lord.
This very struggle helped him to persevere and never give up. In his very weakness he discovered a loving Heavenly Father. It was then that his life changed from being indecisive and helpless, to a more confident man. He went on facing every challenge in the strength of the Lord, “ when I am weak I am strong” (2Corinthians 12:10), thus taking every one of them in petition to the Lord.
He was blest to be lifted from nothing to something. He wore many caps and now faithfully serves the Lord. That man is the one who writes this about his struggle and the result!!!

 

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!

Does the Winner take it all

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Mikael was on par with the best golfers in the circuit…However he never seemed to win any trophies. He was quiet and dedicated and sought to improve at every stage. He kept fit and did his best to play well and improve.

During his time he had a few top golfers who kept winning in turns the various big tournaments.

Alfred was steady and focused and most often came away with the top spot.

Dean was more flamboyant and knew that he possessed the skills which could beat anyone on his good day.

But Mikael was the one to watch. He practiced 24×7 and wished to make a mark in life.

He had tremendous faith in God. He kept fit in simple ways and was disciplined in his time.

He gave the best part of his day to the Lord in the morning .

Alfred once asked him” Hey Mike, why do you come in late morning for your practice?”

And Mikael quietly replied” Well,  I give myself to the Lord first, as all I am and have is from Him”

The other guys listening were amazed , and Dean chipped in “ but how come you don’t win anything Mike.”  To which Mike’s simple answer was   “ in His time he makes all things beautiful”

The Indian Open was fast approaching. Preparations were on. The best golfers were expected.

They all were focused on their training and diets.

Mikael kept to his morning quiet time , and then turned to his practice and other preparations.

On the big day, he was calm and confident. Whereas Alfred and Dean were in their zones of anticipation. Alfred totally serious . Dean appearing nonchalant .

They started on their rounds. Halfway through one sees Alfred beginning to get fatigued. The tension increases. He swings and it comes on too firmly.. He whispers to Mikael “ I don’t understand , what is happening . My strokes are getting messed up.” Mikael calms him down “ Relax, you have the strokes to play better” and prays quietly for Alfred, ” Lord, help him to recover his poise. “ Next moment Alfred delivers the best stroke and goes on to get a very good average.

Next we see Dean taking his stance . Overconfident as usual he starts off well and within a few moments loses his composure when his caddy trips behind him.” Hey what’s wrong with you; you have just ruined my concentration” Thereafter Dean makes a mess of his rounds and is way behind in the final tally.

Mikael however goes about his rounds with great dedication. He is silent, confident, and at peace. He seems to enjoy his game.  His days of preparation and discipline show on the course. He gave his best. But still Alfred wins the Cup.  Mikael is runnersup

Did Mikael lose? Ask Alfred. He says” I owe my victory to Mikael . His quiet words of encouragement gave me so much confidence at the time I was playing poorly.”

Mikael smiled and said “ We are all winners when we play our best… Even though only one wins the cup. How we approach the game is important. After all its not life and death. May we all rise above winning and losing, and really enjoy the game.”

Does the winner take it all??

The Mayflower Tree

 

There she stands in full bloom. The leaves in lush green and all the grandeur of flowers in a riot of colours. How old  will it be.  I have no idea. All I know is that it has been there since I was a child.

The  tree made its presence felt,  when we saw the roof above our kitchen strewn with the bright orange flowers. However, besides its beauty on the tree, it was not very helpful to my Mum, who had to get the roof cleared off all the fallen flowers. Invariably someone had to climb the roof to do this. We liked the tree as it gave such joy at summer to see it in full bloom. Mum looked at this differently. It was a tiresome task to clear the roof every time.

Years have gone by. Now we have a terrace over the kitchen instead of the roof. There is also a beautiful garden, well kept by my wife. She loves plants of various kind even the ones bearing flowers. So will you expect a different approach to the Mayflower tree.

Not so. This tree  stands even taller . Her branches have spread much wider. Of course the flowers at summer have increased in their profusion. So we come to  a similar story again. Flowers fall consistently. Clearing them is a lot easier. There is no roof, so we need to just sweep them away. Has this been helpful?

There is much to explain. The fallen flowers  are still not welcome. The overhanging branches which provide such beauty and shade …..also cause birds to perch and then …come their droppings.

You and I love nature; how can we accept it with joy.  Birds on the trees, flowers in full bloom….and then the after effect….the debris….to clear.

I wonder how birds and flowers view human beings. Instead of more trees and birds, we have more concrete jungles. With so called development, the forest with all its wildlife gradually begins to disappear. Where will there be nesting places. And by the way, where do leaves and flowers fall in the forest . Who clears it . Yes nature is much better in the process of recycling. This latter term is now used as a something new in man’s history. But it existed since ancient times.

I grew up when mud existed in our compound. We played various games like marbles, tops, sticks and stones, gilli danda (an Indian game), besides the other games like hockey and cricket. I remember seeing the fine funnel like holes in the mud; and we tried our best to catch the tiny creature who had prepared this work of art, without much success.

Times have changed. We now have paved ground in most places in our cities. Todays children have no time to play the outdated games. Today we have ‘gaming’ indoors; you sit in one place and play ‘virtual’ games.

Coming back to the Mayflower tree. How long will we allow it to stand. Will we see the days when man may install artificial trees; since they will not have any old flowers and leaves falling. Will we see  birds frequent our environment?

Give it a thought. An awareness of nature around us, will help us to save the earth….its fields, forests, birds and animals.

But first and foremost, man must live in peace to start this work. The destructive actions of men in so many parts of the world , will only cause the end of his environment. Where will  these killing fields spread next? Can this debris of hatred be overcome by love and understanding ?

We  wait in hope for the new heaven and  new earth…..looking after the vineyard of our lives, until the day we meet the Master of this vineyard!!!

May my Mayflower tree be symbolic of all that’s beautiful in nature….and a time of waiting, and hoping and caring;

Until  we hear the One seated on the throne say “ Behold, I make all things new”. (Revelations 21:5)

 

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The Mayflower tree, overhangs the terrace; eversince the monsoons, most of its flowers have fallen, but the tree is well foliaged