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A secret garden

>> Saturday, August 25, 2012

“If I had a flower for every time I thought of you...I could walk through my garden forever.”
  Alfred Tennyson

I was watching a Malayalam move the other day” Arike” (“So Close”) by Shyam Prasad..It is the story of what appears to be an intense romantic relationship. The story of two young lovers who are so deeply in love and cannot think of a life without each other.And  they decide to live together and have submitted the application for their marriage and  waiting for those few long days to pass.

The story is passionate and touches you and evokes all your romantic fantasies and memories.

While reading a love letter she just received, she tells her friend ‘I never received such an intense love letter from anyone before.I know it is because he hasn't seen me for few days"

“So you mean to say you had love affairs before?” asks her friend.

"Ah, yes, I often fall in love,but this one is different. I started while I was in eighth standard in school. There was this good looking boy who was in love with me and I said I will commit suicide if I don’t marry him. He was transferred to another school when his father changed his job. Then again I fell in love while I was doing Pre degree”.

Her friend is shocked to hear this.  All the time she was thinking that this was the only true love she had seen.
Towards the end of the story, the girl easily walks out on the boy, leaving him confused and stranded.

Had she actually loved this boy?
Is falling in love a sickness?
Do people who fall in love do it repeatedly?
Is love an addiction?

I am sure there are people out there who would argue that if you fall out of love, that was not true love, only infatuation. But then, what is true love? Is there a love without a physical component to it? Isn’t love like an addiction?

For many years, I carried a burden. There was a lingering ache that formed the reason for a million regrets... And took time to heal and recover.

Looking back, I don’t regret the time I messed up, but I know now I could have been hurt less and created even more possibilities for myself, if I had known what relationships meant.

Time changes relationships.

Pictures never change, but the people in them do. Your best friend can become your worst enemy, or your worst enemy can turn into your best friend. ‘Forever’ turns into a few short months. You can let go of something or someone, you once said you couldn’t live without. And you are the living proof. The person, who once wanted to spend every second with you, go on living, not even bothering where you are or what has happened to you. People make promises despite knowing how common it is for those promises to be broken.  People can erase you from their lives just because it’s easier for them to go on with their own lives.
You might think you made the biggest mistake of your life, and if only you didn’t do it you wouldn’t be in pain right now. Don’t take that road…..there’s nothing good down there. I tried it and it was a bumpy ride and never took me anywhere. Make peace with your past so it won’t mess up your present.

Never ignore the person who loves you, cares for you, and misses you. Because one day, you might wake up from your sleep and realize that you lost the moon while counting the stars. If someone walks out of your life, let them. There’s no use in wasting your time on people that leave you. What you make of yourself and your future  has nothing more to do with them.

I am walking away from everything I had,
I need a room with new colors,
there was a time,
when I didn’t mind living the life of others.

Are you loving the pain, loving the pain,
and with everyday everyday,
I try to move on ,
whatever it was, whatever it was,
there’s nothing now you changed new age.

So much fire that it burned my wings,
her heat was amazing,
now I’m dreaming of the simple things.
Old ways erased.
If love was a word I don’t understand,
simplest sound with four letters.

New age

“Can miles truly separate you .....?  If you want to be with someone you love, aren't you already there?”
Richard Bach

courtsey: Mista Bobby


On Friendship day

>> Sunday, August 19, 2012

 He looked very shabby and tired. He hadn’t taken a bath in few days and looked depressed.

“It is my head, doctor” he said

There was a friend of his who had brought him to the clinic, who did not look   any better than the patient himself.

“Tell me more’ I said

For more than two weeks, he had this terrible head ache. Continuous headache which disturbed his sleep, and he couldn’t work. He was working as a barber in a saloon and so was his friend. He had already gone to some clinics who had given him some analgesics, but the pain was getting worse. I got some more of relevant history from him and did a quick examination. The last test, an examination of the inside of his eyes through an ophthalmoscope, told me that he had some serious problem. He had, what we doctors call ‘papilledema’, that is in simple terms ,a swelling of the optic nerve head, which in turn tells us that he has a problem in the brain.

“It is a bad situation, doctor “his friend said.

Vasu was working in a saloon as barber. He was about thirty years old, was married and had two children aged eight and six years. Both his children had some congenital ailments. It was some kind of crippling illness, and he had spent his life’s earnings for the treatment of his children. And both the kids died one after the other in the recent past. His income was meager and he could never bring his family to this place. After few years of hard work day and night, he had managed to start a small saloon himself. His friends helped him to raise some money to bring his wife to live with him, and he was just about to start a new beginning.

“And now, this”. His friend said. Vasu was all the time looking at my face and was wondering what I was going to say. His experience in life probably would have told him that the news was not going to be good.

“There is nothing to worry’ I told him. “But we need to do some more tests”

A CT scan of the brain was the next thing to be done. That would cost him about a thousand dirham and at the rate of his earning, more than a month’s income. I told him I would arrange to get it done through the governmental hospital, where I still had some good friends. 

“Will it be all right after the scan, doctor?” he probably thought that the scan was going to cure his illness.
I explained the situation to his friend that I expected some kind of problem in his brain, and it wouldn’t be an easy one.

I was surprised when he replied “whatever it comes to, we will manage, just don’t let him know about it”
After they left, I looked more depressed, and my nurse guessed it right.
"Doctor, there are more patients waiting”, she said.

I  remembered the Biblical saying .

Two things I ask of you, O Lord; do not refuse me before I die; Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, “Who is the Lord?” Or I may become poor and steal and so dishonor the name of my God.
Proverbs 30:7-9   NIV

Vasu was probably the third or fourth patient I had seen recently in such a situation. Life already in shambles. Neck deep in problems that cannot be solved and then getting a serious illness, and no money to  treat.
I can’t think of a worse situation than when you are sick and have no money to get treatment.
In poverty, sickness and in other misfortunes, friends are the only refuge. If you have money, life is easier in many ways. But for the poor, there is no one else to turn to. The rich and the poor both would need friendship. For the poor, it is consolation in despair. For the rich, companionship in their abundance and loneliness.

Friendship is clearly more than a social connection. It is one of the primary relationships in life, a tie at times exceeding that which bonds blood relatives.Most people seem, owing to ambition, wish to be loved rather than to love. Never be miserly in matters of love and friendship. Give, and take back in abundance.

"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out."—Walter Winchell


Sex Frog

>> Thursday, August 9, 2012

We have a forum of doctors from my batch.We exchange mails ,news and interesting stuff.
This was sent to me by Dr.J from the UK. All serious discussions were going on for quite some time,and I thought it is time for a change!

A beautiful, well endowed, young lady goes to her local pet store in search of an exotic pet. As she looks about the store, she notices a box full of frogs.

The sign says: "Sex Frogs! Only $20 each!
Money Back Guarantee! (Comes with complete instructions)."

The girl excitedly looks around to see if anybody's watching her and whispers softly to the man behind the counter, "I'll take one."
The man packages the frog and says,
"Just follow the instructions carefully."

The girl nods, grabs the box, and is quickly on her way home.
As soon as she closes the door to her apartment, she takes out the instructions and
reads them carefully. She does exactly what is specified:

1. Take a shower.
2. Splash on some nice perfume.
3. Slip into a very sexy nightie.
4. Crawl into bed and place the frog down beside you.

Allow the frog to follow its training.

She then quickly gets into bed with the frog and,to her surprise, nothing happens!
The girl is totally frustrated and quite upset at this point.

She re-reads the instructions and notices at the bottom of the paper it says,
 "If you have any problems or questions, please call the pet store."

So, the lady calls the pet store.
The man says, "I had some complaints earlier today. I'll be right over."
Within minutes, the man is ringing her doorbell. The lady welcomes him in and says,
"See,I've done everything according to the instructions
and the damn thing just sits there."

The man, looking very concerned, picks up the frog,
stares directly into its eyes and sternly says:

"Listen to me! I'm only going to show you how to do this one more time!" 


bringing her back

>> Monday, August 6, 2012

My mother used to spend her entire time at the kitchen. Ours was a large family ,my parents, my father’s sister and her daughter, my grandmother who was about a hundred years old ,and then all of us children, seven of us, all boys and me the youngest. My mother’s day would start at six in the morning, when she would start brewing  black coffee in an earthen pot. The firewood would take ages to light and it was a task I was good at, blowing through a pipe to light the firewood. Then she would milk the cow and continue cooking the breakfast. At any time, at least three of us boys would be attending school or college and we would eat whatever came to us and would still be hungry and ask for more. Often we had to be satisfied with the previous nights cooked rice which my mother would keep in a large earthen pot. She would add water to it in the morning and some cooked yoghurt, and make it what we used to call ‘Pazahnkanji’.  A green chili and onion chutney would be all we had as accompaniment. After we leave for school, she would continue her cooking for the lunch time when we also had some extra members, our relative girls who were studying at the convent school nearby.

 As the youngest in my family, I used to spend most of my time with my mother. I would just stay with her in the kitchen, taking nibbles from whatever was cooking. I would get the assistance of my brother to lift me and place me on the platform, so that I can take part in all the cooking activities. Because there was no girl child, all of us would help our mother with her cooking.

Mama's children 1980

 My mother’s recipes were simple. She had few rusty tins on a small shelf in which she would keep the chilies and spices. She would grind the curry paste on a granite slab herself. But she would cook the tastiest food I ever had. Even though we didn’t appreciate it at that time, as I grew up and left home, I realized how heavenly the food was at home, which my mother used to cook.

Recently my eldest brother and his family came to visit me. It is Ramadan time here and you cannot buy food from outside during day time. I had cooked some Masala for making Masala Dosa and after the breakfast my sister in law asked me ‘From where did you buy the food? Like our Ammachi used to make !”

She wouldn’t believe that I had cooked it.

Whenever I find time, I cook for myself. Having been alone for some time, I am used to this. And these days I enjoy doing it. My recipes are as simple as my mother’s.

When I cook, I feel as if I am bringing my mother back.

courtesy: Abhishek Scaria


Edge of Life

>> Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Photo:Kira Perov

There is a Persian restaurant on the ground floor of the building where I live, which has been running ever since I came to this place. The father was running the business, had a good looking wife and two children. The young boy was real handsome and never wasted any opportunity to put the gift to use. He had his BMW coupe always parked at the front of the restaurant. The prettiest looking girls in the area could be seen in that car.  I had witnessed many pretty girls hanging on to his shoulders and smooching him in the lift and had often wondered what I was doing at that age, burning the night candles and roaming around the medical wards carrying the feces and urine of patients.

The father died five years back due to a heart attack. The son had to take over the business and had to spend part of his precious time to take care of the restaurant, which otherwise would have been lavished on the lovely girls. I would say, he was a nice boy, was always cheerful and polite when ever I had the reason to interact with him. After I changed the job, I had seen less of him, and recently I saw his car parked behind the building with a” for sale” board. I asked the watchman why he was selling the car and he was surprised.

“Doctor, didn’t you really know that the boy died last month?”

That was too unexpected.

“Tell me more, “I said.

It appeared that the boy had a cancer in the abdomen which was already late when diagnosed, underwent a resection of his stomach and intestine, had a feeding tube and a catheter for the rest of his remaining few months. Malik , our watchman told me that the boy would still smile at him and explain all the details of his illness. He was planning to go to Europe for another surgery when he died.

I honestly never gave dying too much thought. Death was almost a regular event I had witnessed in the ICU. Some patients would be brought in and would be dead even before they had the time to think about it. I honestly do not know what happens to them after they are intubated and placed on a support system. Others would know they don’t have much time. Men and women would uniformly cry out the same slogan..” moath..moath”  ( death..death.) as if they were seeing it approaching them. And on most occasions, they were right. They had seen something….whatever had taken their lives.

Each phase of dying is different than the next, but all with the same outcome; all from different perspectives. 

All emotions can be broken down to Fear or Love.

It certainly gives me much to think about and contemplate.  What would I want to say to my family and friends; what would I need them to know before I left?  Would I be afraid?  Would my belief be strong enough to see me through the final moments of my last breaths without fear?  All of which are really great questions.  And, if you think about it …so many people get taken away from this earth without the luxury of time and contemplation of these ever so important things.

I wish all people had the opportunity to pack up their bags, as if they were leaving for the airport. Do the final checking...all documents...all papers...money...handover the house to those who are not on the trip ..Giving tips to the servants...All done in time.

The saying ‘living each day like it’s your last’ has a lot more meaning to me these days.  The small space which used to occupy my mind with loss and regrets has no place there anymore.  Should you ever need a reminder of how great a life you have, do yourself a favor and visit a Palliative health facility filled with those  with no purpose left to them, other than counting days or go down to the Regional Cancer Centre and wander the corridors of the Pediatric ward, looking at the faces of parents so distraught and exhausted and the kids so sick and desperate for a day without the reality they face. 

Most of us spend the best years of life living for others. We all have reasons. Getting married...and then living for her interests than yours. Bringing up children and working hard to seeing them through school and college...even to see them getting married and spend the entire life’s balance for that sake. Make their lives easier.

Some people are just meant to live for others. There's nothing wrong with it. After 50 years of doing so, you can't just all of a sudden think solely about you.

I just remembered a very powerful sentence in a wonderful book, "The Gift of an Ordinary Day," by Katrina Kenison. She said, “As soon as I stop wishing for things to be different, I am met by the beauty of what is.”
So isn’t it true that we spend much time  wishing for things to be different? 

How hard it is to stop wishing for things to be different? What if we were able to say, “This is what I have to deal with right now? This is what is happening. Let me stay right here and pay attention. It’s OK if I feel angry, embarrassed, impatient, bewildered, disappointed, and afraid." Imagine just staying in that feeling and taking responsibility for it.

We want to retaliate, blame, find an answer, sweep the moment away and forget. “The beauty of what is” might not actually be beautiful, but when I can stay with what is and accept it, something beautiful happens.
Truly, the art of dying teaches us the art of living.  And if we were to spend some time in the reality that  we will all one day leave this planet; either slowly with time to prepare or quickly without that luxury, the truth is we would be much better people.  We would live as we were meant to …caring about the important things like love, compassion and happiness.  We would prepare, we would communicate and we would die with a lot less regret and those left behind us, would be better equipped to let us go.

Jim Emerson blog


Looking Glass

>> Tuesday, March 6, 2012

On Bronnie Ware’s blog, Inspiration and Chai, the post titled “Regrets of the Dying “ would be one of the most popular. This is a reflective piece inspired by her time working in palliative care, where she nursed thousands of patients who were in the last few weeks of their lives. It was interesting and perhaps touching how the dying had looked at their own lives and revealed their regrets. I don’t know, given another chance, if life would have been any better for them.

From time to time, when someone asks me if I have had any regrets, it has prompted me to think long and hard. My answer is clearly given at the top of my blog. Life had always been a list of unfulfilled dreams. And it was hard to choose from among them , that’s all. But then, it was also good to have lived than not living and trying at all. After reading Bronnie’s list below, I found how similar we human beings are, under the camouflage of big and small ,rich and poor, and that I really have few things to work on if I want my answer to change before my time is up.
Here we have an opportunity to look at our own lives from a different point of view. This reminds us that only we can be responsible for our own happiness or unhappiness in the long run. Life is as simple as what we make of it. And also as complicated when we sit down at the end of the road and look back and realize how little we have done of what we had always wanted.

I don’t know how many of you would have come across this inspirational article. The link was sent to me by a friend of mine. Globally, this article has been translated into several languages and seems to have broken cultural barriers with incredible ease. It is the simplicity and honesty of the article that has made it resonate with people. Looking back, it makes me realize just how alike we all are and how, sadly, we can all be influenced and driven by the wrong priorities and by fear.

" When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

It is very important to try and honour at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.

2. I wish I didn't work so hard.

This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children's youth and their partner's companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.

By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.

3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.

We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.

It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying "

If we sit back and look at life, most of us would regret the things we did than the things we didn’t do. Studies have proven that regrets of inaction persist much longer than regrets of action. There is little you can do for the missed opportunities of the past. Use the slightly unsettling feeling of regret to motivate yourself to do something about it. Tackle something important on your "to do before I die" list and if you don't have such a list then make one. No one lives a perfect life and no one accomplishes everything that they set out to do. Some people however are in constant motion so that instead of reflecting on missed opportunities of the past they are working towards new accomplishments in the present. Don't be afraid to take a chance. As you read above, people generally feel worse for not trying than for trying and failing.

Life is too short. Trust me it is. Sometimes, there is no tomorrow, or a “next time”. So don’t do something that would make you regret life.

"So...If you could live your life all over again, what's the one thing you would do differently?"

Life is a choice. It is your life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.


Why such brief candles?

>> Saturday, February 11, 2012

I was watching the movie “ The Tree of Life” the other day. Honestly, I couldn’t connect all the pieces together the first time I saw the movie. It can mean completely different things for completely different kinds of people. The Tree of Life is about everything. About life, nostalgia, love, loss, hatred, anger, nature, grace, forgiveness, redemption, and everything else that could be there in life. The scenes are incredibly beautiful, as perfect as they could be and looks out of this world. The Tree of Life is a series of fragmented memories of a young man named Jack (Sean Penn) who reminisces his childhood memories as a young boy , and the polar relationships between his graceful, loving mother (Jessica Chastain), and his strict, disciplinary, and sometimes angry father (Brad Pitt). It is a simple family entwined in love,the kind we see in everyday life.

And,somewhere in the middle of the movie, there was this scene when the Brian family attends the church on a Sunday morning and listens to a sermon.It really struck me as I listened to it again and again. It haunted me.

The Book of Job explores the myth that we inhabit a world in which people who live virtuously inevitably receive blessing, while those who do evil, always suffer a painful fate. The story of the tragedies that fell upon virtuous Job, demonstrates that there is nothing in life that can protect us from the possibility of pain.The story of Job is quoted often when one gets angry at God and when misfortunes befall.

“Job imagined he might build his nest on high – that the integrity of his behavior would protect him against misfortune. And his friends thought, mistakenly, that the Lord could only have punished him because secretly he’d done something wrong.

But, no, misfortune befalls the good as well. We can’t protect ourselves against it. We can’t protect our children. We can’t say to ourselves, even if I’m not happy, I’m going to make sure they are.

We vanish as a cloud. We wither as the autumn grass, and like a tree are rooted up.
Is there some fraud in the scheme of the universe? Is there nothing which is deathless? Nothing which does not pass away?

We cannot stay where we are. We must journey forth.

We must find that which is greater than fortune or fate. Nothing can bring us peace but that.

Is the body of the wise man, or the just, exempt from any pain? From any disquietude, from the deformity that might blight its beauty, from the weakness that might destroy its health?

Do you trust in God?

Job, too, was close to the Lord. Are your friends and children your security? There is no hiding place in all the world where trouble may not find you. No on knows when sorrow might visit his house, any more than Job did.
The very moment everything was taken away from Job, he knew it was the Lord who’d taken it away. He turned from the passing shows of time. He sought that which is eternal.

Does he alone see God’s hand who sees that He gives, or does not also the one see God’s hand who sees that He takes away? Does he alone see God who sees God turn His face towards him? Does not also he see God who sees God turn his back?"

The sermon is a profound piece of theology, a beautiful piece of poetry, and a deep well of spiritual wisdom and insight.

“Is there nothing which is deathless? Nothing which does not pass away?”

“The Tree of Life” also offers an answer in the voice of Mrs. O’Brien when she declares, “Unless you love, your life will flash by… Do good, wonder, hope.”

There are only two routes through life: “the way of nature and the way of grace.” Grace is abundant in the story’s mother figure, the pious and loving Mrs. O’Brian and a sufferer of the most awful of all tragedies – the death of a child, her middle son in his late teens. How he died we never learn, but the rest of the film can be seen as a reaction to his cruelly shortened life and to the question it inevitably poses.....Why? Why such a brief candle?

At the boy's funeral, a pastor tells Mrs. O'Brien "He's in God's hands now" and she replies with something like... "He should be in my hands." I could not think of a better answer than hers. Perhaps that answer is the one which shook me up.Whenever I hear of the death of a young child, I am reminded of my own personal loss. Why? Why such a brief candle?


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