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I dont need an answer any more

>> Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Few weeks back I had raised the question .Why do bad things happen to good people? The question still keeps on coming back to me,even after reconciling with all the unpleasant events that had  happened.. And that is when I came  across the writings of Rabbi Aron Moss. He teaches Kabbalah and practical Judaism in Sydney.

Now,have you thought about an answer to this question? Do you really want to know why the innocent suffer? I think not. You are far better off with the question than with an answer. At least, that is what I think now.

We are bothered by the fact that people suffer undeservedly. As we should be. Any person with an ounce of moral sensitivity is outraged by the injustices of our world. At least nineteen times in the Book of Job you will find a "Why?" question.
"Why have you made me your target?"

"Why should I struggle in vain?"

Abraham, had asked God, "Should the Judge of the whole world not act fairly?"

Moses asked, "Why have You treated this people badly?"

And today we still ask, "Why God, why?"

But what if we found the answer? What if someone came along and gave us a satisfying explanation? What if the mystery were finally solved? What if we asked why, and actually got an answer?

If this ultimate question were answered, then we would be able to make peace with the suffering of innocents. And that is unthinkable. Worse than innocent people suffering is others watching their suffering unmoved. And that's exactly what would happen if we were to understand why innocents suffer. We would no longer be bothered by their cry, we would no longer feel their pain, because we would understand why it is happening.

Imagine you are in a hospital and you hear a woman screaming with pain. Outside her room, her family is standing around chatting, all smiling and happy. You scream at them,

"What's wrong with you? Can't you hear how much pain she is in?"

They answer, "This is the delivery ward. She is having a baby. Of course we are happy."

When you have an explanation, pain doesn't seem so bad anymore. We can tolerate suffering when we know why it is happening.

And so, if we could make sense of innocent people suffering, if we could rationalise tragedy, then we could live with it. We would be able to hear the cry of sweet children in pain and not be horrified. We would tolerate seeing broken hearts and shattered lives, for we would be able to neatly explain them away. Our question would be answered, and we could move on.

But as long as the pain of innocents remains a burning question, we are bothered by its existence. And as long as we can't explain pain, we must alleviate it. If innocent people suffering does not fit into our worldview, we must eradicate it. Rather than justifying their pain, we need to get rid of it.

So keep asking the question, why do bad things happen to good people. But stop looking for answers. Start formulating a response. Take your righteous anger and turn it into a force for doing good. Redirect your frustration with injustice and unfairness and channel it into a drive to fight injustice and unfairness. Let your outrage propel you into action. When you see innocent people suffering, help them. Combat the pain in the world with goodness. Alleviate suffering wherever you can.

So ,why do bad things happen to good people? For the same reason bad things happen to bad people--bad things happen to everyone. They usually seem to make bad people worse, and good people better.

We don't want answers, we don't want explanations, and we don't want closure. We want an end to suffering. And we dare not leave it up to God to alleviate suffering. He is waiting for us to do it. That's what we are here for. Love yourself, relax more often, appreciate your life, have a conscious awareness of all the good in the world, focus on what feels good, help others by sharing a positive outlook, and learn a lesson from anything and every thing.


It happens only in India

>> Monday, January 25, 2010

In this age when elderly parents are facing problems living with their grown up children, Kailash Giri from Hinota village of Jabalpur district in Madhya Pradesh provide a modern example of ‘Shravan Kumar’ ( a man who carried his blind mother and father on his shoulders in the ‘Ramayana’ time )

"A few years ago I met with an accident and recovered from it because of the prayers offered by my mother. It was then that the fire inside me to serve my mother was kindled and the journey that began in 1996 is continuing till today," he says.

 "We are living in a wild society, a society where old-age homes are the fashion of the day. But, today's youth fail to understand that nothing other than serving their parents would give them the satisfaction of leading a meaningful life. What I do may not be practicable for all, but they should pay their gratitude towards their parents to the extent that they can," adds Brahmachari.

Brahmachari has been carrying his mother, Keerthi Devi (80), on a `kanwar'   (wicker basket) for the past twelve years and visiting temples at several places including Allahabad, Ayodhya, Kashi, and Chitrupur. "Mother is no less than God; she is truth with flesh and blood and children owe their life to her," says  Kailash Giri Brahmachari (34), shouldering his blind mother on a pilgrimage to significant Hindu shrines all over the country. The frail 36-year-old, wearing the saffron dhoti favoured by Hindu pilgrims, his torso bare and his long hair tied on the top of his head, has become an object of admiration and awe in places he arrives..The journey has not been easy. Kailash has had to battle poverty and the sheer physical difficulty of the task, but his spirit has been unfailing. Usually he covers 15 to 20 km a day and takes shelter wherever it is offered. The youth, who thrives on offerings made by the public on his way, wants the Government to make a law making it compulsory for children to take care of their parents till their death. May be a law to love parents!

Kailash's mother is happy that her wish is being fulfilled but is also concerned about the huge struggle her son is putting up.
"Only a mother can feel the pain of her son. On several occasions, I told him to stop the journey. But Kaliash has decided to complete the pilgrimage,"' said Kailash's mother

If all goes well, Kailashgiri's grand plan is to end his spiritual quest at the next Kumbh Mela Hindu festival in the holy city of Varanasi in 2013.

Caring for aging parents can be challenging and difficult at times, but it is also an honor and privilege to do so, as well as a God-given responsibility for everyone in the family.By working together as a family, being supportive and helpful in caring for the many needs of the elderly parent, families will have the joy and pleasure of knowing that their efforts were greatly appreciated by the aging parent or grandparent, as well as knowing that they fulfilled the requirement to “honor your father and mother” while they were alive.But ,with our changing values and concepts,it is becoming common practice to abandon  the ailing parents to some old age homes or geriatric hospitals and then, not even go to visit them anymore.

Kailash Giri is a great example for people who do not care about their aged parents.What  Kailash is doing is unique,and cannot be done by everyone.
But how many of us would  put in the effort to take our elderly parents to the places they would love to visit ,and to people whom they love to meet? Learn to care for them in our own families.We  will  learn to be patient. To love in the face of anger, and we will see our children develop compassion, gentleness, and a respect for old people. They  will spend time talking to the grandparents, laughing and joking with them. They will learn that death and dying is a natural part of life and living, and that sometimes we lose ourselves in the process. Even small gestures matter,and will be counted ultimately.


An angel lost her way

>> Tuesday, January 19, 2010

An angel lost her way

And came down to earth.

While walking the cinnamon gardens

She met a young man and fell in love

and wished to live with him.

She asked God

He said " yes my child,but for a short while"

And so they lived.

Every moment of the gifted time.

Those who saw them

Were jealous of their love.

And when her time came to leave,

She begged to stay on

“No, my child, rules in heaven are not

like those on earth”.

Instead, He offered her

An angel child to take her place.

So, from the skies above, she keeps watch

Over her precious pocessions on earth,

The gentle breeze that sweeps you

The flowers that bloom in morning dew,

and the flickering star over the cinnamon skies ,

that’s her.

We haven’t lost her

We feel her presence

In so many beautiful ways

But more so, she stays within us

As our fondest memory


Cheaper than buffaloes

>> Friday, January 15, 2010

Children are purchased like buffaloes," said Bhuvan Ribhu of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (Save the Childhood Movement), quoting a study that is due to be released .
"While buffaloes may cost up to 15,000 rupees ($350), children are sold at prices between 500 and 2,000 rupees ($12 and $45)," he told Reuters.

Two brothers in Bihar were recently given away for 250 rupees ($6) each by their parents and trafficked out of the state in connivance with police, Ribhu said.

Children account for 40 to 50 percent of all victims of human trafficking. They are sold to work as domestic laborers, or in the carpet industry, on farms or as commercial sex workers.The traffickers-police connection was so strong in some parts of the country that traffickers scout freely and children rescued from brothels and bonded labor were often victims again.

Close on the heels of the incident of 20 bonded child labourers being rescued from a train on July 21, as many as 12 children, who were being trafficked, were rescued by the railway protection force (RPF) and Government Railway Police (GRP) forces at Kishanganj railway station  again.

The rescued children were in the age group of 6 to 10, except two, who were about 14 years, said Railway Police sources. The small children were huddled together on the platform, awaiting the  Jodhpur-Guwahati Express to arrive. The RPF noticed them during their rounds.Meanwhile, a person posing to be their custodian, appeared claiming that the children were being taken to school. But on a little more probing, it became clear that the man was a tout and a trafficker.

People in Orissa's famine-hit regions are desperately selling their children .... not for the money but to ensure two square meals a day for them. So far, 16 cases of children being sold have been exposed in the local media, but the state government is yet to admit even one

As much as we do not want to recognize it, children are now being treated like a commodity on the black market. Sometimes they are  relocated within our own country. More often they are moved across borders. They are sold for purposes like forced labor, prostitution, pornography, organ removal, or even as child soldiers. They are in high demand as cheap domestic labor, for farm work, and especially for sexual exploitation. Some girls, as young as 13 years of age, are sold as mail-order brides where they are isolated, abused, raped, and subjected to various forms of torture.

Sometimes children are gently persuaded to comply by members of their own family or by friends, with promises of a better life. Other times, they are forced or coerced. Sometimes they are simply tricked or drugged into submission.

Rough estimates indicate that children account for between 40 and 50 percent of all human trafficking victims, for as many as 1.2 million children.

Many of these children end up in sex trade,where they are in  big demand by perverts who are willing to pay as much as tens of thousands of dollars.Often, because sexual activity is considered a private matter, authorities are  reluctant to intervene, even in cases of obvious sexual exploitation. Technological advances like the Internet, which has made child pornography easy to obtain, has also added to the problem. Even more ignorant beliefs like AIDS can be cured by having sex with a virgin only further muddy the waters, adding to the vulnerability of children.
It is heartening to notice that there are people who are genuinely concerned about this issue,and try to create  public awareness of this global issue.I could find many documentaries on the subject,but the few I thought best are mentioned below,for those who want to go  to the reality of the issue.

"Anamika "(The Nameless)
Director/Writer: Rajesh
Anamika  is a documentary on trafficking of women and children from Andhra Pradesh to various parts of India.

"Born Into Brothel"
Directors/Producers: Zana Briski, Ross Kauffman
2005 Oscar-winner for Best Documentary Film. The most stigmatized people in Sonagachi, Calcutta's red light district, are not the prostitutes, but their children.

"Tin Girls"
Subject: Slavery in Prostitution
Director: Miguel Barde

"The Children we sacrifice"
Subject: Child Incestouous Sexual Abuse
Director: Grace.


"Who is your teacher?"

>> Friday, January 8, 2010

It is hard to write about the great teachers in my life. I was blessed to have many to mould and inspire me to what I am.  A Japanese proverb says it best: "Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher." And   "The dream begins, most of the time, with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you on to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called truth."( Dan Rather ).  All of us recall special teachers... who not only taught us but inspired us in ways that changed our lives.

It was long time back, way back in 1964. I was studying at a Government Malayalam medium school.

They used to call the school “ Kurangan Pallikkoodom”,( Monkey School ) because it was thought only the Kurangan students would attend that school. I was asked to join that school because it was closer to my home. The other school was St. Berchmans , which was almost 5 KMs away. There were no school buses those days. One had to walk or catch a bus to reach the school.

Some of the best teachers I have come across in my life were at that school. During my career, I have gone to different parts of the world. But the commitment and perseverance shown by the teachers of that Govt school is still uncomparable. They were never rich, they could never become rich by teaching those days. Going for “tution” meant that you were below standards at the school.And teaching a batch of students,where only two of them could pass all the subjects,was a really tough job.

I used to walk about 4 KMs to my Hindi class at 6 in the morning, come back, take my bath and go to my regular class. (These Hindi classes were given by the Dakshin Bharat Hindi Prachar Sabha, and by the time I entered college, I had passed the Hindi Visharad examination).And while waiting for the medical college admission I had cleared the Lower exam of typing and short hand....all attempts to bag a job somewhere, somehow. My father had a small business, and also had agriculture to look after, and never had time to look after our studies. The only time he played the role was while signing the progress card from the school. He will look at the card...Science....48/50 and will ask, “Where is the balance 2 gone?” That was it..

As a rank holder at the college , my entry in to the Medical College was very unceremonial.  I was selected to join the Kottayam Medical College. When the intimation came, it was harvesting time . My brothers had already left for colleges elsewhere. So I took the notice and went to the Medical College myself, wearing my usual Dhoti and shirt. When my name was called, I went in. The Principal and others with him for the interview would have laughed within, but simply asked me “ Has someone come with you?” I said "No". This time they had a laugh, and asked me about myself and my family, and said..” OK fine, we will let you come with someone responsible  from your family next week”. I remember my past when I see the fuss some parents make for a Medical College admission these days. The other best student from the ‘Kurangan Pallikkoodam” didn’t choose the science subject, and has become our DGP now. I always admire his guts to do that those days, when getting an admission to Medical College was thought to be something great.

Our Head mistress at the Pallikkoodom was Aleykkutty teacher. She was my immediate neighbour and knew my family vey well. She was short and very obese, to the extent that she could not raise her hands above her shoulder to beat a student for punishment.Instead, she used  the services of Ramakrishnan sir, who was our NCC officer , tall and athletic. Whenever she wanted to punish some student, she will just call him and say.” Ramakrishna.....Randu " (two) “or “Moonnu ( three)” and he will promptly deliver them with utmost sincerity.

Our classrooms had thatched roofs and sand floor. Only classes from 8th to 10th were pucca buildings. It was common practice those days to employ the class monitor to take care of the class and keep watch and write down the names of those Kurangans who talked in the class during her absence. My class teacher was Susan Koshy teacher ,and I used to adore her. I still don’t know what kind of  adoration and respect I had towards her. I only know it was much more than simple respect. I learned my basic lessons of English from her and another Margarette teacher. Later, when I got the rank for English Language, I mentioned their names during the ceremony. That was the only way I could show them my gratitude.

Once when my teacher had gone to the staff room for something, as usual, I was taking care of the class ,writing down the names of those who talked in the class. ( Occasionally I used to get small bribes like a Mittai or so, to leave out some names). Headmistress was making her usual rounds and paused when she saw there was no teacher in my class.

She asked me,” Whose class is this?” and I answered “ Susan Koshy”.

She waited for few seconds and again asked “ Whose class you said it was?”

I again answered “ Susan Koshy”

She didn’t say a word again and gestured me to follow her. I didn’t have any idea why she was asking me to go with her. She reached her office room and called” Ramakrishna...” and he promptly appeared. She simply said “Randu”. He was hesitant, because he knew me as the best student of that class, but the Headmistress was insistent and gestured with her head...”go ahead and give it”. He delivered  the two with his cane on to my outstretched hands. My first and last experience during my whole school days....

She asked me” Do you know what this is for?”. I said “No”.

She asked me again.

“ Who you said was your teacher?” And I promptly answered “ Susan Koshy”.

“Ramakrishna ....Moonnu” ( “ Three” ) was her response this time. Ramakrishnan sir had no hesitation this time.I received all the three cane beats. I was crying out loud when she asked me again the same question.” Who you said was your teacher?”

This time something flashed in my mind and I came up with the answer “ Susan Koshy teacher”.

“ Aha ...there you are ,Good boy....So who did you think she was all this time? Your house maid? For such a young boy to call the teacher by her name?”

I had never repeated that mistake in my life again. Even today, when I remember my teachers, the postfix” teacher” comes to my mind as a reflex.

Times have changed. Earlier teacher was considered a spiritual father and  guide. He was given respect by the students as well as by the whole society. Now the teacher is considered a hired being who is supposed to dispense knowledge in return of monetary gain.  From a spiritual father, guide and role-model, the teacher has become a paid employee who is only supposed to make the students pass the examinations . I read stories of teachers being held at knifepoint at our colleges. Being abused and thrown at.

There are no more beatings at the school. Teachers sing and dance with the students and are “ friendly”, like in the US. Everything has been globalised. We have a different set of values alien to us.You don’t have to unfold your dhoti to show respect to the teacher , if you meet him on the road. One can look at the skies and ignore them. I only wish the students leave them alone, and not abuse or beat them, if not respecting them.

And I have no resentment of that beating I received at my school.


A mockery of justice and human rights

Already under intense domestic and national scrutiny following the well-documented series of irregularities that have taken place during the investigations of long 16 years, one might think prosecutors would have more sense than to bring even more unwanted attention to themselves and their mockery of investigations.But no, the arrogance of these people seems to know no bounds, while professionalism and judicial ethics have apparently gone out of the window.Even more worrying than this latest sideshow, however, is the continued silence of the government towards blatant violations of human rights.

Repeated statements from govt that they “respect the independence of the judiciary” are little comfort when it is clear that increasing numbers of the general public have no faith in it whatsoever.

For a government that appears hyper-sensitive to even the slightest criticism , the refusal to take action against such glaring challenges to the independence, impartiality and human rights can only be interpreted as tacit approval of all that is going on.

Sr.Abhaya murder case has been going on for the last 16 years without reaching anywhere.Suddenly,new witnesses,and evidences appeared out of no where,and two priests and a nun were arrested and paraded before the public.They were labelled as criminals even before the case reached the court.The CBI used modern methods of investigations,it was said..like lie detectors,brain mapping and so on.The public thought these were very scientific methods.

An expert committee studying the efficacy of brain mapping criminal suspects has concluded that it is unscientific and should be discontinued as an investigative tool and as evidence in courts.

The real mockery and humiliation and injustice was done when they subjected Sr Sephy to a virginity test.There is nothing worse or inferior they could do to a woman than humiliating her and insulting her womanhood.The whole world despises tests like this,and it is at this time that the CBI undertook such a test.It is hard to believe that the CBI thought this evidence would be accepted at a court of law.Their aim would be nothing other than humiliating this woman in public.

The test was a violation of fundamental rights of the accused, Jessy Kurian, a lawyer practicing in the Supreme Court, told UCA News on Dec. 8. Every person has a right to live with human dignity, she added. She pointed out that the murder case and the accused nun's virginity are unrelated. "A virginity test cannot prove the murder. Besides, the right to privacy is an indispensable part of human dignity," she said.

Sister Sephy, who has been charged over the murder of Sr Abhaya, is seeking compensation from India’s Central Bureau of Investigation for allegedly tarnishing her image by leaking the result of a virginity test conducted on her.

It is generally accepted that the hymen is a poor marker of sexual activity in post pubertal girls. With reference to hymenal examinations we have been slow to accept the words –‘‘The doctor cannot always tell’’. What can we make of this sorry state? It is difficult to conclude anything other that it is being driven by males attempting to exert control over women’s sexuality. It has spawned a sorrowful industry in which a number of our professional colleagues are willing participants and proponents; some in perpetuation of this totally unscientific practice and others in the equally repugnant practice of hymenal repairs. These practices are irrational, destructive and clear breach of international human rights. "

Wells DL. Sexual assault practice: myths and mistakes. Journal of clinical forensic medicine. 2006;13(4):189-193.

According to the Turkish Medical Association, the practice of virginity examination is a form of gender-based violence.In addition, the Izmir Chamber, concerned by recently occurring suicides associated with virginity examinations, issued a statement condemning them as 'an assault to the bodily and mental integrity of the person.

Virginity examinations violate guarantees of freedom from discrimination found in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, all international human rights standards that Turkey has ratified."

Frank MW, Bauer HM, Arican N, Fincanci SK, Iacopino V. Virginity examinations in Turkey: role of forensic physicians in controlling female sexuality. Jama. 1999;282(5):485-490.

Only someone with a pervert mind can plan and implement such a criminal action. And it is surprising many of the womens rights activists have not responded to such a henious act and blatant violation of human rights.


New year thoughts from a painful 2009

>> Saturday, January 2, 2010

The past year was really trying on me.In all ways...After years of struggle,I was hoping to settle down and find some time to do the things I really wanted to.Glued to work,one doesnt get time for anything else.In the run to make money,one forgets one's own life, and goes on to make lives for others.I spend endless time at hospitals now,not as a physician,but an attendant to my ailing daughter n law.It is easy to wish..Happy new year,but how can one accept such wishes heartily when deep with in,one is bleeding to misery.It's a tormented chapter … the others were painful, but not tormented like this year.Theres nothing I could ever say or do to change anything I have been through or that has happend. All I can do now is take the necessary steps to make myself mentally and emotionally healthy. Depression has a way of taking over logic and straying you. I dont know how long it will take to heal the wounds.Finally,they will.

What one man loves another loathes. One woman's joy is another's junk.Happy people get what they want in life--not just material things but intangible things like health and happy relationships

The Universe gives to those who have and takes from those who have not. People who live with a scarcity mindset complain about not having enough. They think about not having enough. They worry about not having enough.Total all that time dwelling in scarcity and you see why they never get what they want.

Whatever you focus on expands. Focus on lack and you increase lack. Focus on scarcity and you make what you have now even more scarce.Focus on pain and suffering and you get more of it. Do you agree that you will not find happiness on that path?How do you move out of scarcity thinking and into abundance thinking? You just do it. The way you run your head is a habit. You want to change from thinking and feeling loss and deprivation to happiness and abundance.What is truly satisfying does not come from what we posses but what we are. When you are fully contented with what you are then you can be considered as being happy.

I have been through a lot of bad things in my life and it has taken me a long time (probably too long) to figure out that no matter what happens, be it good or bad, that it is a valuable lesson for me to learn from and use it to better my life.Easier said,but I am trying to find ways out of the tangles.Allowing the past to control your present is a sure way to destroy your future. Your life will continue in a downward trend and you will hardly be able to achieve your goals and dreams. What happened in the past is done. There is nothing you can do about it. No matter how long you stay fixated on it, it will never go away until you make it go away. The past is only part of your present because you keep it there. Letting go of the past is in your hands.

The only way to put the past behind you is to make a decision to not be controlled by it any longer. If you are truly tired of reliving the past in your mind, you must make a choice to let it go. You are the only one who can do it for you. The question is how badly do you want to make the change?
I know there are others out there with worse problems than mine.But then,the beginning is to accept that one has problems.And then,accept help from those who really can help.

I dont have all or any answers to all problems, but I can be a good listener. Sometimes thats what we need. Talking things out can often help us to figure things out. Sometimes it seems so obvious the answers or reasons or whatever when we have someone to talk to. I call it an epiphany. The value of a good counselor and a good friend is unmeasurable.My friends come up with consoling thoughts all the time.I am indebted to them.And I try to pass it on to my family who look up to me for help.
That is how life goes. Happiness never waits for us at the end of the road.Learn to pick it up all the way,tiny bits of it,and enjoy every bite of it.

Have a wonderful new year.


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