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(Here is the final part of a story whipped up by Shalini, an eight year old who has an abundance of creative juices sloshing about within her. Yours truly was merely assigned the task of putting it to pen and paper, so to say.)

A chance meeting in Switzerland

Suraj was part of the school orchestra. The school orchestra had become popular. It was invited to play at the Lucerne Music Festival.

Rakesh and Kala were worried about the high expense involved. The school music teacher explained to them the importance of taking part in an international festival. Seeing the enthusiasm Suraj had for playing as part of the school orchestra, they decided to send him to Lucerne.

At the Mumbai international airport, whole family came to see off Suraj. Kala had packed some of Suraj’s favourite sweets. She had tears in her eyes but was happy that her son had got this opportunity.

At Lucerne, the orchestra team was taken on a sight- seeing tour of the city. Suraj looked wide eyed at the lake, by the side of which was the Culture and Convention Centre where the team was to perform in a few days.

On the other hand, Leo was practicing hard on the piano. He was one of the students chosen by his school to take part in the orchestra which was coming from India. He had heard about India from his parents. He looked forward to making friends with some Indian students.

Three days before the performance, a practice session was held. When he entered the venue, a teacher stopped Leo from going inside.

‘You had already gone inside’, she said. ‘Where are you again coming from?’, she asked.

‘Maam, but I just came in. My mother just dropped me outside,’ said a surprised Leo.

‘OK, show me your school card.’

Leo showed her his school card. She took him inside and then identified Suraj. She called him over and checked his identity card also.

‘I am sorry. I must have made a mistake. But both of you look so much like each other’, she said and withdrew.

Suraj and Leo shook hands. Both were surprised to see each other. They looked like mirror images of each other.

The practice session began and went off well. When it was over, Leo ran into the arms of his mother who was waiting outside. He told her excitedly what had happened. Leila could not believe her ears. She went into the building, with Leo following her. She first met the teacher who had stopped Leo at the auditorium door. She was directed to where Suraj was standing with his school mates.

One look at Suraj, and Leila was happy and sad at the same time. Happy, because she thought she had met one of her missing children. Sad, because she did not know how to check if Suraj could indeed be her own lost child. She went ahead and shook hands with Suraj.

‘So, you come from India?’, she asked politely. She felt like hugging him.

‘Yes, maam,’ said Suraj respectfully. He somehow felt drawn towards Leila.

‘Where are your parents? Who are they?’

‘Maam, my father’s name is Rakesh. My mother’s name is Kala. We live in Mumbai.’

‘Do you have any brothers and sisters?’

‘Yes. We are four – two brothers and two sisters.’

Leila could not control her tears of joy. She gave Suraj and tight embrace and kissed him on his forehead.

‘My dear…..what is your name?’

‘Suraj, maam.’

‘Are you parents here with you?’

‘Only my father has accompanied. He is waiting outside.’

‘Let us go and meet him, then!’, said an excited Leila.

Outside the hall, Leila and Rakesh met. Rakesh was surprised to see Leo, who looked just like Suraj. After a brief introduction, Leila took Rakesh and Suraj to her home. There, Rakesh met Joseph, Livio, Sara and Anisa.

Joseph explained to Rakesh what happened when they went to India more than ten years back. Rakesh could not believe this could be happening. Late night, after dinner, Joseph dropped Rakesh and Suraj at the hotel where they were staying.

A family reunion 

The concert got over well. The Ambassador from India was the chief guest. Rakesh and Joseph met him together and explained what had happened. The ambassador suggested Joseph and the family visit India soon. A meeting between Leila and Kala would help, he thought.

Rakesh and Suraj returned to India. The day came when Joseph, Leila, Leo, Livio, Sara and Anisa came to Mumbai and met Rakesh, Kala, Madesh, Suraj, Sita and Yashoda. Leila was very happy to meet Kala and her other children.

Rakesh and Joseph went to the orphanage and met an elderly Sister Alicia. They told her about discovering each other by chance. They wondered if the orphanage had any record of how Madesh, Suraj, Sita and Yashoda had reached there. After searching old records, Sister Alicia gave them John’s address in Goa.

All of them travelled together from Mumbai to Goa. They sang songs together and were very happy. Leila was happy that all her lost children had been brought up so very well, with good family values. Several times, she expressed her gratitude to Kala for having taken so very good care of the children.

Upon reaching Goa, they located John, who confirmed that he had rescued four children when the boat accident took place. He was happy that the family had got reunited.

All is well that ends well

After some time, they all decided to be together at Lucerne in Switzerland. Jospeh helped Rakesh and Kala to start a catering service for Indian dishes. They stayed on two floors in the same apartment complex. They shared meals, ideas and things between themselves.

Madesh is now training for lawn tennis. Suraj has joined a violin academy and become part of a local music group. Sita has started studying to become a doctor. Yashoda has taken up a course in hotel management. She also helps her parents in their business.

Leo continues his practice on the piano. Livio has become a ski instructor. Sara is studying engineering. Anisa has started offering ballet classes. Often, she can be seen performing on stage in various parts of Europe and Asia.

Lake of Lucerne and Bristenstock

Leila and Joseph are happy that all of them are finally together. All the children are honest, truthful and good at heart. They have a strong character. They are talented. They speak politely and respect their elders.

The whole family has faith in a super power which keeps all the people in this world happy, joyful and satisfied.

(Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2018/07/05/an-eight-year-old-whips-up-a-story-part-1-of-2)

 

 

 

 

 

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(Here is a story whipped up by Shalini, an eight year old who has an abundance of creative juices sloshing about within her. Yours truly was merely assigned the task of putting it to pen and paper, so to say.

The story is dedicated to the loving memory of Shri Murali Manohar Goel. It is the story of Leila, Joseph, Kala and Rakesh; of how the four pairs of twins born to Leila got separated; of how they came together again.)

The story of a family coming together again

Leila faces a storm

Leila was standing on the upper deck of a boat, watching the blue waves in the Indian Ocean. As the sun started setting, its rays created beautiful patterns. Some seagulls were diving down and catching fish for their supper. The skyline of Mumbai was just becoming visible.

Leila used to live in far off Lucerne, a big city in the heart of Switzerland. She and her husband, Joseph, had saved some money over past few years and planned this trip to India. They had landed in Delhi. They had seen the Taj Mahal in Agra. They had travelled through the Thar desert. Mumbai was their last stop, from where they they had taken a ferry to visit Elephanta Caves nearby. After two days, they were to catch a flight back to Switzerland.

Leila was tall and beautiful. She had hazel blue eyes and long dark hair. She was happy that their dream trip to India had gone well so far. As she gently patted her swollen abdomen, she thought how happy her eight babies, waiting to come into this world, would be.

Suddenly, she noticed some big waves rising in the ocean. A strong wind started blowing, rocking the boat. She turned and saw her husband Joseph had also joined her on the deck. Just then, a siren blew. A seaman came rushing, telling them to return to their cabin. A storm was coming, and the captain wanted all the boat’s passengers safe.

Even as Leila and Joseph were climbing down a staircase to reach their cabin, a very big wave hit the boat. It turned over dangerously. Leila looked at Joseph with alarm. Joseph pressed her hand by way of an assurance.

All of a sudden, Leila started feeling labour pains. Even before they could reach their cabin, the boat rolled over. She felt as if she was about to enter a watery grave. She was worried about the safety of her yet-to-be-born babies. Leila’s head hit a staircase rail and she lost consciousness.

When Leila awoke, she found herself in a white bed. She was connected to some tubes and an equipment at her back was making a rhythmic bleeping sound. A concerned Joseph, with his head in bandages, was sitting by her side. He patted her hand affectionately.

‘Where are we? What happened?’, she asked feebly.

Joseph smiled weakly.

‘We are in a hospital in Mumbai. Due to the storm, our boat had started sinking. The captain and the staff took good care. They brought us safely ashore and got us admitted here.’

Instinctively, Leila felt her abdomen. It felt empty.

‘What about the children?’, she asked with sudden alarm.

‘Well, you delivered all eight of them while on the boat itself. Congratulations, dear!’, said Joseph.

‘Hope they are fine? Where are they?’ Leila asked.

‘Hmm..as luck would have it, in the confusion, when the boat sank, we somehow lost four of them. But the other four are fine and safe, don’t worry.’

‘Can I see them? Where are the others?’

‘Yes, I shall tell the nurse to bring them in. Lovely kids. Two girls and two boys.’

‘But what happened to the others?’

‘We are trying to find out but have lost track. Police have asked people on the sea coast but we still have no news.’

‘That is so very sad’, said Leila, suppressing tears rolling down from her eyes. ‘How do the four remaining with us look?’, she asked after some time.

Just then, two nurses came in, carrying the four babies in their arms.

Leila was overjoyed to see the babies, who were all sleeping.

‘My little angels’, she said, kissing them all one by one. ‘I hope God is taking good care of the other four also!’

John survives the storm

John was an auto mechanic. He used to live in Goa and was unmarried. He had a nice helpful nature. He was on the same boat on which Leila and Joseph were.

After the boat sank, he found himself floating in the open sea. He was on some planks of wood. With him were four newly delivered babies – two boys and two girls. In the darkness, they were simply lying there, with a torn bed sheet from the boat covering them from the chilly air. Their eyes were closed. They were unaware of the storm around them. Two of them were even smiling, as they slept soundly.

John cuddled all four of them, two on each of his sides. He did not want any harm to come to them. He was praying and hoping that the winds would gently propel them towards a safe spot on the Mumbai sea shore.

Once ashore, John was wondering what to do with the four babies. He was poor and could not bring them up. He thought he could leave them at an orphanage which might take better care of them.

And this is what he did a few hours later when the raft hit the shallow shore. He went to a church nearby and met the pastor there. The pastor was caring and nice. He gave him some bread and warm soup. He also gave him some clothes to change.

Both of them dried up the four babies. They wrapped them up in fresh dry clothes. The pastor then accompanied him to a nearby parish which also had an orphanage. Sister Alicia, the in charge there, was happy to receive the kids. She had some nurses under her, who started taking good care of all the four.

After two days, when John had had some rest at a friend’s place in Mumbai, he came back to the orphanage. He felt that the kids were in good hands. He left his address with Sister Alicia and returned to Goa.

It never occurred to John to inform the local police about the four kids he had found in the sea waters after the boat had sunk.

Kala and Rakesh get a gift

In a two bedroom flat in Mumbai lived a couple, Kala and Rakesh. They were married for six years but were still childless. The doctors had advised them to adopt a child instead. Both used to love children. Often, they would pray to have a couple of children.

Kala was of medium height. She had beautiful eyes. She was very loving. She cared even for her neighbourhood kids, helping them in many ways.

Rakesh had a close friend in the restaurant where he worked. His name was Peter. Once, Peter was having dinner at their place. The topic of adopting children came up. Peter said he knew about an orphanage where they could try their luck.

Next Sunday, the three of them went to the orphanage together. Peter introduced them to the in charge there, one Sister Alicia. She walked around with them and introduced them to many children who were happy and playing in the compound.

Some lovely children caught the attention of Kala. They were very cute, with blue eyes and dark hair. Sister Alicia told them that these four kids had survived a boat accident some time back. She wondered if they were from some foreigner couple. She had tried locating their parents, but had failed to do so.

Kala and Rakesh were delighted to meet these four kids. They offered to take care of all of them. Sister Alicia could see they were good people. She agreed.

That is how the remaining four kids of Leila and Joseph found an Indian family. Kala named them Madesh, Suraj, Sita and Yashoda.

Leo, Livio, Sara and Anisa grow up

Back in Lucerne, Leila and Jospeh started bringing up the four kids lovingly. The boys were named Leo and Livio. The girls were named Sara and Anisa. Like their mother, all of them had hazel blue eyes and dark hair. Often, Leila would worry about her missing four children. She would pray to God that they be safe, wherever they may be.

Leo was a simple boy by nature. He was obedient and caring. Livio and Sara were naughty and playful. They liked to play pranks on others. Anisa was a quiet and studious child. They all looked the same. By nature, they were all quite different from each other.

 

They loved playing on swings. They enjoyed their outings on the lake. Leo and Anisa liked to spend time at the Natural History museum, identifying different butterflies and insects displayed there. Livio and Sara liked to visit the Transport Museum. All four of them liked skiing, swimming and ice skating. Trekking in the mountains was a favourite hobby of theirs.

Leo and Anisa gradually developed interest in music. Leo learnt to play the piano. Many times, he represented his school in different concerts. Anisa learnt ballet dancing. She was liked by all those who saw her perform.

All four of them looked like each other. Often, people would mix up between the four children. Livio or Sara would play a prank on another kid at school, but Leo or Anisa would have to take the blame. Leo or Anisa would do some good work, but Livio or Sara would get praised.

At night, all four of them would cuddle around Leila and go to sleep after listening to a story. Often, they heard the story of the boat accident. They believed that they had four other siblings who were their twins. But they did not know if those four were still alive. If so, where were they and what were they doing?

Madesh, Suraj, Sita and Yashoda blossom in India

In India, the other four kids started going to a good school near their home.

Madesh was naughty. He liked to play in the garden outside and would be found fighting with other kids. As he grew, he developed an interest in playing tennis. He thought he could play for India team when he grew up. Roger Federer was his role model.

Suraj was a quiet boy. He was good at studies. All his teachers liked him. He took to learning the violin. He dreamed of learning Western music from a professional academy. He wanted to play as part of an orchestra all over the world.

Sita was a quiet girl. She would play with her dolls all alone.  She was an obedient child. She was good at heart, and would willingly share her toys with other children. Her dream was to become a doctor and serve people.

Yashoda was a mischievous kid. She was intelligent and did well in her studies. At school, she would often make funny drawings in the copy books of other children. She was more like a tom boy and liked playing outside the home with other boys. She wanted to become a restaurant manager, like her father.

All the four of them were fond of listening to tales from Indian epics at night. Their grandmother, Rakesh’s mother, used to tell them stories from Ramayana and Mahabharata at night. On holidays, they would go out for picnics to such places as the Juhu beach. They loved making sand castles and picking up shells at the beach. They learnt good family values. They did not know they also had four siblings in a far off country known as Switzerland.

(Continued in Part 2)

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The prattle of tender feet around one keeps one very much alive and contented. Especially so when one happens to be in a phase of life where one can have the luxury of observing their behaviour at close quarters without having to worry about their mundane needs. Other then providing unalloyed joy and sparkling mirth, it also provides one an opportunity to grow spiritually.

When a Bollywood diva casts a spell

Take the case of a one-year old toddler who takes Master Thos to be his role model. If Thos was infatuated with a Hollywood diva, he happens to be besotted with one of the Bollywood divas. Play this particular song on the TV, and he goes into a trance which even the most advanced practitioners of Zen might not have experienced. Meals get forgotten. Toys cease to be of any consequence. Those around him might not even exist.

Sonam Kapoor, the diva in question, may be delighted to know of the brand equity she carries in the mind space of this young one. There is a good chance that he might even earn the distinction of being the youngest ever fan of a Bollywood diva.

One can only hope and pray that, as he grows, he never gets to emulate the goofy schemes of Thos the Terrible. In fact, thanks to the benign influence of the diva, perhaps there is a chance that he would end up performing such noble deeds as walking a few miles to fetch a newspaper for a guest or carrying any other injured young one on his tender shoulders, so as to win over the affections of his heart-throb.

The sincerity with which he expresses his fondness for the song featuring Sonam Kapoor is something which deserves to be emulated. It teaches us the innate goodness in all things musical, artistic and beautiful.

By being under the spell of a silver screen diva, he is merely following a long-held tradition of his ancestors. Soon, though, moving doors, books or other items may take his fancy.

He also demands equality in treatment vis-a-vis other kids in the immediate vicinity. If that does not come by, he knows how to shriek and attract the attention of his seniors, so justice gets meted out. This is invariably the scenario when some ice cream is getting distributed.

There are also times when he reminds one of Algernon Aubrey Little. When the father’s boss came visiting some time back, he was a model of ideal behaviour. No tantrums. No yells. Only some cute smiles. Peace prevailed. A promotion on the job soon followed.

Norway Schhol Art 1

A respect for technical gizmos

The other young boy, all of four years old, reminds one of Edwin the scout. It is not that his daily acts of mercy include dousing fires with paraffin and setting cottages on fire. But he does try to reverse-engineer and repair an egg-boiler, with catastrophic results.

Anything that moves attracts his attention. Curious to the core, he would tend to dismantle the gadget and then look on helplessly when attempting to put it together again. Door locks get fondled with much love. Remote controlled toy cars or toy boats are never safe in his vicinity. A family senior testing blood sugar or injecting insulin is an object to be closely observed and supported.

As he has grown, cell phones and iPads have gained his respect as reliable sources of perennial entertainment. Thus, these are no longer subjected to the kind of rigorous quality tests he used to conduct in his formative years. In his younger days, he has dunked many a cell phone in a mug of piping hot tea, marvelling at their steadfastness when compared to, say, biscuits.

One is yet to notice if, like Edwin, he is an expert on ant behaviour. But dogs, pigs, cows and horses do come in for stark appraisals under his watchful eye.

Locking up people inside dark rooms comes naturally to him. So does sneaking up from behind and suddenly yelling in one’s ear, thereby leaving one all of a twitter. Often, sudden bouts of some karate moves make one run for cover, lest one may need to review one’s medical insurance cover. Tying up one’s shoe laces surreptitiously makes him burst into uncontrollable laughter, much to the chagrin of the party of the other part.

Dealing with him is very instructive. His knowledge of all things mechanical and electronic makes one humble. One simply aspires to be a quick learner like him, so as to be able to quickly absorb the latest that technology has to offer and make progress in life, as defined by contemporary standards.

Norway School Art 2

A goofy mind, a tender heart

Consider also the case of a young girl of 6 odd years whose flair for drawing, painting and singing is often a talking point. But beneath the veneer of sophistication and innocence lies a mind which could churn out goofy schemes at the drop of a hat. The likes of Roberta Wickham and Stiffy Byng could learn quite a few tricks of the trade from her.

Much like Peggy Mainwaring, she is used to staring and giggling at odd times, leaving the party of the other part shaken to the core. A relentless chatter emanating from her often leaves one yearning for some peace and quietitude. A continuous barrage of queries fired at one leaves one exasperated at times. The value of courage and perseverance is thus learnt the hard way.

Compassion comes naturally to her. She loves being surrounded by pets she can shower her motherly affection on. When a bitter feud with a younger sibling results into the latter getting hurt, she gets immediately transformed into a caring and loving nurse. But Homo Sapiens often get bluntly ticked off by her for the slightest of perceived infractions on their part.

When germs of acute goofiness strike, the sky is the limit. A younger sibling’s trousers are found wet in the middle of the night. Wisdom dawns when one notices the empty bottle of drinking water by the side of the bed. Guilt-less pleasure is felt when the younger sibling gets a reprimand for an act of omission committed by her own self.

Post-ablutions, she turns out to be a great bathroom singer, requesting the support of a senior to clean up. ‘Potty is over’ is belted out, in tune with a nursery rhyme like ‘Twinkle twinkle little star….’.

Her receptivity is not to be taken lightly. When it is playing time at a friend’s place, she realizes the rest, solitude and enjoyment the hapless mother would experience while she is away. The hapless mother’s rights to such well-deserved rest and recuperation come in for open and frank criticism.

Norway School Art 3

Competing with the Bermuda Triangle

Yet another case which merits consideration is that of a young lass of 7 years who is built along the lines of Kid Clementina. She is a not-so-quiet saint-like child, when in a good mood. When taken out for a movie and a dinner, she is full of gratitude. She gazes at her benefactor in silent admiration. But while at home, a stubbornness tests the patience of the seniors around.

Great deal of perseverance is required so she may partake of any single meal which may last well over 90 minutes. Each morsel is punctuated by a commercial break, so to say. Unless, of course, the meal comprises a pizza alone, followed by the temptation of either an ice cream or a chocolate.

The threat of changing the WiFi password alone works wonders and makes her obey various commands at home. Fond of playing such brainy games as chess, she is quick to perceive that an attempt is being made to make her falsely win the game of patience and strategy. She resents such acts of chivalry. Her artistic skills are remarkable. So is her passion for karate.

There being no ink pots around these days, one is sure that she is unable to put any sherbet in the same in her classroom. But messing up the password of the iPad of a schoolmate comes readily to her. Rapid progress gets made by her in the realm of mastering all kinds of technical gizmos.

She believes in keeping one on one’s toes. While going out of the house in a hurry, one suddenly finds one’s footwear missing. Or, a ping-pong ball resting inside one of the shoes. A toothbrush can suddenly vanish, leaving one gnashing one’s teeth in disbelief and dismay. A toothpaste tube could get replaced by a cold cream tube. Unless one is alert and agile, the experience leaves an unpleasant taste in the mouth, literally as well as figuratively. One’s shaving kit could go into hiding for two weeks, leaving one feeling like a distressed soul pining for one’s beloved, beard and all. One’s favourite comb could get hidden, leaving one shuddering at the prospect of making an appearance in public. Overall, the house appears to provide stiff competition to the Bermuda Triangle.

Norway School Art 4

A Core of Innocence

Put any two of the kids together and the results could be disastrous. Put all four of them together and the foundations of civilization start quivering.

The combined goofiness of a group of kids is directly proportional to the square of the number of kids together.

Unlike what the Theory of Relativity postulates about there being an upper limit for the speed of light, one does not believe there could be an upper limit for kids’ goofiness. With three kids of his own, Einstein himself might have been in agreement with this proposition.

Their interpersonal interactions are more like sinusoidal curves, putting the Dow Jones Index and the Sensex to shame. Loving embraces are quickly followed by bitter arguments, accompanied by loud background music and tantrums of all kind.

Their minds are highly creative. Their imagination is vivid and fertile. More often than not, they are a reflection of what one is and how one behaves in their presence. In a way, they hold a clear mirror to us, especially when it comes to ethics, values and social leanings.

It is true that kids are simply adorable. Perhaps because their external sheath of goofiness is built around a core of touching innocence – a virtue which one loses as one advances in age. They radiate the purity of their chaste souls, yet to be corrupted by social prejudices and materialistic considerations. A sheltered upbringing obviously helps.

Towards spiritual progress

mothersymbolmeaningThe Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram has spoken of twelve attributes which help a spiritual aspirant to make progress. Sincerity. Humility. Gratitude. Perseverance. Aspiration. Receptivity. Progress. Courage. Goodness. Generosity. Equality. Peace.

Being with kids surely paves the way for rapid spiritual progress, besides keeping one amused and entertained at all times.

The challenge of minimizing Screen Time

While families have shrunk, technology has entered the family space. For hapless parents, there are two challenges. One, that of minimizing Screen Time, weaning away kids from gadgets and involving them in outdoor activities. Two, that of imparting them the values which would last them a life time. Perhaps it is time to consciously revert back to the joint family system. More about this in another blog post.

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/06/09/some-plumsville-kids-and-the-richter-scale-of-roguishness-part-1-of-3

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/when-masters-thos-bonzo-and-moon-rise-in-love

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/bringing-up-kids)

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grandfather

Oh, what a change I have witnessed in these seventy-one years,

Wars, acts of terror and news of genocides has reached my ears.

 

Sure enough, I miss fountain pens, LP records and telegrams,

Not to forget a cell-and-internet-free peaceful life, noisy cars and trams.

 

I have witnessed a man landing on the moon, a space mission to Mars,

Our country gaining independence, gaining control of the land we call ours.

 

I have contributed to building the nation in my own little way,

Drawing power channels which feed water to the fields with grains and hay.

 

I have seen shrinking TV sets and shorter global hauls,

Several generations passing by, sprouting glitzy malls and highway tolls.

 

Time sits lightly on my mind, has certainly made me smart and wise,

You can still lean on my strong shoulders, despite challenges that arise.

 

I continue to be young at heart, in me some inspiration you can find,

As always, my advice is practical, objective, frank and kind.

 

All of you are born in our humble and common family,

So you need not take this as an old man’s homily.

 

As you grow, the world will try and define boundaries on you,

Soar above these you must, sticking to your own convictions and view.

 

Boys, treat all the women you come across with the respect they deserve,

Once home, let go of your trousers and wear skirts once in a while and serve.

 

Girls, don’t live in the shadows of people’s judgement, make your own track,

Use your own wisdom, balance your duties, break the glass ceilings that hold you back.

 

You are the only one who will face the consequences of your actions,

Be bold, be wise, follow the path of righteousness, never become part of sinister factions.

 

The family has evolved from religion to spirituality, given you rich values to live by,

Carry forward this legacy, let your material and spiritual growth touch the sky.

 

A day may come when you may get to live on a comet or on the Mars or the Moon,

Values and Dharma shall always support you, come a dark night or a blistering noon.

(Image courtesy http://www.freeimages.com)

 

 

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Michael Angelo Painting Creation

I decide to get offended, you decide to stay aloof,

Who will then make us stay under the same roof?

 

A fissure today may well grow into a chasm tomorrow,

Who will fill it up with a wheel cart and a handbarrow?

 

I decide to remain silent, so do you remain quiet,

Which arrow will then pierce this void with its might?

 

If every small thing you were to take to your heart,

Who will then restore the warmth and play Cupid’s part?

 

I am unhappy at this gap, nor are you feeling nice,

Who will then take the initiative of breaking the ice?

 

I am not agreeable, to be amenable you do not bother,

Who will then have the magnanimity to pardon the other?

 

When our thoughts turn to the lovely memories of the past,

Who will lead us to an oasis of happiness in the sad desert vast?

 

I operate from within my huge silo of ego, so do you from yours,

Who will give us the courage to break open the shut doors?

 

Do you think we both shall live for all times to come?

Just look into each other’s eyes and keep mum?

 

Sipping together the elixir of joy that life is yet to pour,

One left behind not to repent when the other is no more?

 

Cross the point of zero gravity between us,

Be like twin stars in each other’s orbit without much fuss?

 

Life gave us the walls of caste, creed, sex, nationality, income and wealth,

Let us break the walls of our egos and enjoy good companionship and health!

 

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/09/29/of-novelty-and-relationships

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/12/05/the-alpha-beta-and-gamma-of-interpersonal-relations

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/09/16/an-illusory-search-for-the-perfect-soul-mate-bollywood-style)

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What is it that makes us label a movie as a classic? A unique blend of enchanting visuals, a rich story line, fine acting, lilting music and captivating lyrics are some of the features a successful movie invariably has. However, to be considered a classic, it would also have a multi-layered narrative with a social message which connects with us at a deeper level. Its theme would have an underlying timelessness, often brought in by the values it espouses.

Values which happen to be eternal in nature. Family values. Faint stirrings within a society to transform itself. The need for a soul to be free and joyous. The assertion of independence which demolishes societal norms of the time. The harmony in working towards a jointly shared goal or ambition. A meteoric rise in terms of materialistic goals. The frustration of having hit a plateau of sorts. The complex interplay of human emotions. The gradual transformation of relationships. The downfall arising out of human greed. The introspection. The burden of guilt. The beginning of a spiritual awakening. The search for a utopia. The redemption.

Here are some movies released fifty years back which remain as fresh as ever in one’s mind.

GUIDE

Released in 1965, this movie, directed by Vijay Anand, was based on a novel of R. K. Narayan, The Guide. The U. S. version of the movie was written by Pearl S. Buck.

The heroine, Rosie, walks out of a loveless marriage, so as to be able to pursue her passion of dance. The hero, Raju, helps her in achieving stardom. The song ‘Tere mere sapne’, though four minutes long, had merely three shots, each helping the heroine to gradually overcome her hesitation to accept the offer of reassurance and love from the hero.

The movie had great dance performances by the inimitable Waheeda Rehman. Other than the snake dance, we got treated to the six-part extravaganza – ‘Piya to se naina laage re’.

With success comes the fading away of love, which gradually gives way to self-interest. The transformation of tender love depicted in ‘Tere mere sapne’ gets eventually replaced by an emotional chasm between the main protagonists, so delectably captured in the song ‘Din dhal jaaye’.

The movie had a female lead character who was ahead of her times. The climax was rooted in superstition, though. The hero attained a spiritual enlightenment of sorts.

The charm of this landmark movie remains undiminished even after fifty years of its release, proving the immense possibilities of artistic collaboration.

The Sound of Music

Based on the memoir The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp, the film is about a young Austrian woman studying to become a nun in Salzburg in 1938 who is sent to the villa of a retired naval officer and widower to assume charge as a governess to his seven children. She brings love, spontaneity and music into the lives of the family through kindness and patience.

The manner in which mutual respect and affection grows between the naval officer and the governess is delicately captured in this tender piece.

The governess ends up marrying the officer. Together with the children they find a way to survive the loss of their homeland through courage and faith.

The musical scores stand out for their richness and the way in which they advance the plot of the movie. The heroine, though plagued by self-doubt, shows ample pluck and resource to win over a bunch of defiant children and their disciplinarian father. Characters of all the kids are well etched out and enamour us no end. Underlying the whole narrative is the value of family togetherness, delicate love interwoven with the need for discipline, and the loyalty towards each other.

Even after fifty long years, the movie does not fail to cast a spell. Watch any portion of fifteen minutes and one would come back refreshed and invigorated.

Chemmeen

Even though one is not familiar with Malayalam language, one has heard a great deal about this movie. Released on August 19, 1965, it acquired a cult status in the minds of movie buffs.

The success of this movie is said to be due to its heady combination of social-realistic melodrama, bolstered by high production values. It had creative inputs from some of the most talented persons from the Indian movie industry at that time – music by Salil Chowdhury, editing by Hrishikesh Mukherjee, cinematography by Marcus Bartley and lyrics by Vayalar Rama Varma.

The tale of Pareekutty and Karuthamma is a tragic romance. It makes one cry. It gives one a feel as if one lives close to the sea-coast, listening to the incessant roar of the waves, rising to the cries of fishermen and joining their yells of glee when their catch is a bumper one.

At a deeper level, in a muted manner, the movie argues for social transformation. It portrays the problems that arise when an Araya girl falls in love with a Muslim trader. This is a chasm that most of us are still grappling with.

This New Year eve, one would be tempted to curl up in bed to soak in the delectable cinematic brilliance on offer in any one of these movies. As the New Year rings in, we could be joining the Von Trapp family in its trek across the Alps, looking ahead to the future with hope, faith and goodwill!

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When members of the next generation of a family, born in First World countries like Norway and Switzerland, visit their roots in a Third World country like India, the poor souls are left clueless at times. Often, much hilarity ensues, as they try to cope with the realities of day-to-day life in such a delightful country as ours.

The best countries to be born in

Some time back, The Economic Intelligence Unit had compiled an index onEU Flag image the best places to be born in 2013. As many as 80 countries had been ranked on a scale of 0 to 10, with 10 standing for ideal living conditions. The rank took into account 11 indicators, like crime, trust in public institutions, health infrastructure, family life, besides fixed factors such as geography.

As per this reckoning, Switzerland was at the top, scoring 8.22. Norway was ranked number 3, scoring 8.09. Amongst the top 10 were not only Sweden (rank 4, score 8.02), Denmark (rank 5, score 8.01) and Netherlands (rank 8, score 7.94), but also Australia (rank 2, score 8.12), Singapore (rank 6, score 8.00), New Zealand (rank 7, score 7.95), Canada (rank 9, score 7.81) and Hong Kong (rank 10, score 7.80). Incidentally, India was then ranked 66, with a score of 5.67.

Hard core patriots in India may derive some comfort from the fact that Russia was ranked at 72 (score 5.54), Pakistan at 75 (score 5.17) and Bangladesh at 77 (score 5.07).

The side effects of a visit to India

What do such kids discover when they visit their roots in India?

First off, there are objects which invite wonderment.

A ceiling fan sounds like an alien object. A manually driven rickshaw is looked The horse carriages I saw in the museum were larger, grander version of this cycle rickshaw.at with unmasked curiosity. An auto rickshaw evokes a sense of novelty. A horse-driven Tonga comes in for ardent admiration. A bullock-cart gets viewed with wide-eyed wonder.

Insects and reptiles like cockroaches, lizards, ants, spiders, snails and worms of all sizes and shapes come in for close scrutiny. So do creatures of all kinds, whether bovine or porcine, especially when found exercising their democratic rights on Indian roads. Flying objects – whether unidentifiable or otherwise – get looked up to with a sense of awe and respect. Squirrels and chameleons generate much merriment.

A splash in the tropical rains uplifts the tender souls. Jumps into puddles on

Lakshmi

Lakshmi

the streets generate much excitement. The seagulls flapping about their sonorous wings leave them mesmerized. The wavering reflection of a pale yellow uprising moon on the pristine waters of the Bay of Bengal makes them attain a heavenly bliss.

Kolams outside homes arouse their curiosity. A classical dance performance leaves them spell-bound. Depending upon their own areas of interest, a keen desire to learn some form of fine art or a cultural activity gets enshrined.

An encounter with Lakshmi, the famous temple elephant of Pondicherry, invigorates them no end. A dip in the sea comes about as a blissful experience. A visit to the Planetarium and the Science Centre proves to be highly instructive.

The Incredible India

Then there are things which invoke ridicule and pity.

A power cut which disrupts a Tom and Jerry show on TV invites a stridentPGW Tom and Jerry protest and needs to be explained. When a beggar gets sighted, or when the vehicle passes a hut by the road side, the parents get called upon to explain the rationale of peaceful co-existence of the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ of Indian society.

The absence of dustbins ready to receive the wrapper of a chocolate arouses curiosity. The garbage, as well as the generally poor civic sense, invites an adverse comment. Smelly trains and railway stations get negative rankings.

The absence of courtesy and discipline on the roads and the density of vehiclesKrishna_Arjuna_Gita on our roads, all come in for sharp criticism. To ensure parking space near a favourite ice cream joint, divine intervention is prayed for.

Crossing a road is a trying experience. Use of public toilets, if any are available, leaves their souls in torment. A rat feasting on a dead bird lying on the road side comes across as a traumatic sight, explained with great difficulty by an accompanying adult by invoking the teachings of Lord Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.

Within the confines of a home, unquestioned obedience on part of the juniors in the family causes some surprise and amusement. The rights of the younger ones – to decide which flavour of ice cream to have for dinner – can simply not get curtailed. This is an experience which is quite alien to their value system.

Expansion of the family nucleus

Other than feasting on Indian delicacies, the pampering by all seniors theyRamayana 1 come in contact with leaves them assured and self-confident. A sense of belongingness comes about. Stories from scriptures fascinate them. Narrations of the lives of great men and women of the country leave them awestruck.

They also end up imbibing some values of a joint family system. Sharing, caring, a sense of responsibility towards juniors and a healthy regard for the elderly gets implanted in their thought processes.

The twin advantage

This generation has a unique twin advantage – that of having a Western mind and an Eastern heart. Their analytical abilities are getting nurtured in a more scientific environment, while their hearts carry the seeds of compassion, empathy and love. From their working parent, they imbibe a sense of professionalism in whatever they do. Through their folks back home, they understand the importance of togetherness and team work.

A truly balanced human being they are apt to make. Unknown to them, they take humanity further on its path of evolution.

(Photograph of cycle rickshaw courtesy http://www.shabnamphoto.wordpress.com; link: http://shabnamphoto.com/2014/10/28/pondicherry-a-certain-sense-of-gallic-glory-gone-by)

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