Monday, April 19, 2010

What's Next?

In the television series, 'The West Wing', the fictional president always ended staff meetings with two words - "Whats next?"
It was his way of signaling that he was finished with the issue at hand and that he was ready to move on to other concerns.
The pressures and responsibilities of life and work in the White House demanded that he not delve on what was in the rear view mirror - he needed to keep his eyes ahead, moving forward to what was next.

In a sense, the apostle Paul had a similar perspective on life. He knew that he had not 'arrived' spiritually and that he had a long way to go in becoming like Christ. What could he do? He could either fixate on the past, with his failures and disappointments, struggles and disputes. Or he could learn from those things and move on to 'What's next?

Many people including me, are guilty of not moving on. We are obsessed with the rear view. We live comparing and fantasizing how things would have been if the past would have been different. Our good memories of our not so good past keeps us from achieving the futures that we are destined to.

I know, I have been a victim of that rear view vision more than once.

Our culture forces us to live by templates of people and situations.

Back in the days when I was a customer care representative, we were doctrined by the mantra 'Treat every call as your first call'. No matter what or how bad your previous call was, that new call is your fresh call. That customer in on the phone now, is a fresh customer, and he/she deserves your care and attention. You could have had a bad day, nasty experience or you might be just plain out angry, but you need to give that customer 100% of yourself'.
Freshers like me, would fist-bump the air in absolute enthusiasm. Treat every call as your first call? No problem.

Its only when we actually get a nasty drunk American on a Friday night speed dialing us screaming obscenities because he is not able to use his Internet, that we hit reality. You are suddenly facing the full fury of that disgruntled consumer. The next customer could be the sweetest grandma with the sweetest voice you've ever heard, but suddenly, your 'Awesome' and 'Have a nice day' is more labored and less cheerful.
Seasoned agents gradually learn to disassociate themselves from disgruntled customers and be upbeat with customers who are excited. They won't mind if a customer uses the choicest insults from the English language, because to them, you are their dart board of all that is keeping them from enjoying their life. But a heartfelt appreciation is always met with a lot of joy and pride.

We all go through that phase in our life, when unpleasant situations stun us.
How many of you, have tried loving a person, only to be rejected, just because that person was too stuck up on his/her ex? The ex would have moved on, but you are still in love? Maybe its love or maybe its just that we want to hang on to fragments of past life.

The song 'What if' sung by Kate Winslet comes to my mind.

What if he stayed with me?
What if we got married?
What if I didn't break up with him?
What if I wasn't impulsive?
What if I stood up for myself?

How many times have you yearned for a former lover even when you knew for sure that 'it's over'?
How many times have you blocked out that new girl/guy out of your life, just because you were still in love with your ex, who is never coming back?
How many times have you thought that all men/women are like your ex? And that you are going to end up with the same fate?

The culture today, propagated by media teaches us that if a guy falls in love with another girl anytime within 1 year of his breakup, that he is a philanderer.
But if a girl does so, then she was the hapless victim of the philanderer/circumstances.

We are quick to judge and rarely give the other our sincerest ear.
If God judged us by all that we did, I don't think we should ever stop praying. And I don't think all the prayers will even get you to the pearly gates.

We should learn to move ahead inspite of what we have gone through, what we might have been or who we have been with.
For those who have been rejected or rejected other people, I plead that we learn to accept the fact that people are different, situations are different and people move on, its just that we stand still.

Move on...

Saturday, April 17, 2010

When the beauty fades ...

Love fails and beauty fades...
This touched me because many times, when couples are dating themselves they fail to see the pitfalls and red flags.
You could be in love with a person who is an absolute pole apart from what you are, but all the pheromones in the planet cannot give you a happy marriage.
But what happens when a successful long distance relationship breaks up and you are left wounded?
Ordinarily, it shouldn't be as traumatic as a relationship between 2 people who lived in close quarters.
But I know a couple who was in a long distance relationship.
There was a lot of connection, love and no end to the promises to be with each other.
But there was the slip between the cup and the lip.
Promises were made to move heaven and earth and all else in between. But when the time to act came, all were conveniently brushed under the rug of societal obligations.
I respect the girl who chose to fulfill her parents' wishes over the guy she knew only for a year. If only we had more virtuous women, could we overcome the many evils of our society today.
What started as ordinary emails being exchanged blossomed into something incredible.
What was incredible ended with a lot of trauma. Both of them suffered. All the guy did was fall in love with a girl that he had never seen, but felt a million times through the many hours of phone calls they shared. But when she broke the news, all that he did was to stay silent though within him he was shattering into a million pieces. Not once, but a million times every minute of every day.

That guy was Me.

When I heard her tell me, I hung up and cried, until the pillow was soaked.
Then turned over the pillow and cried until my eyes ached, until my voice cracked and the pillow soaked.
That's when a dear friend of mine expressed his sympathy and encouraged me to grieve. "But in 3 days, you will get up. figure out what you want to do with your life and move ahead."
At the moment, I thought he was being too optimistic. 3 days?! No way. Though it was just a year of relationship, I knew things would never be the same again.
But in 3 days, after hundreds of sessions crying and many many hours of grieving, I woke up and realized that I didn't feel quite as bad as I felt on the first day. Little by little despite the agony of being dumped for the 2nd time, my emotional and spiritual condition improved significantly. I knew that I died to my old reality and was reborn to a new Me.

I guess it has to do with the Death, Burial and Resurrection.

I recently met a friend who stuck with me, through the toughest and most excruciating part of my breakup. She didn't take the moral high horse by blaming either of us, but allowed me to retrospect and heal.
The trauma of a bitter breakup still fresh in my heart, I decided to insulate myself from plunging into a rebound relationship.

Not very long ago, I heard the story of a couple who were getting married.
Very much in love, as all couples are, the love struck pair look at each other ready to orate their well written vows to each other.
The pastor stops them. He tells them to trash the pieces of paper and to look at each others hands and tell each other how much they mean to each other from one heart to another.

This is what ails our marriages. In a society that glamorizes sex and promiscuity, we plunge into a marriage with as much frivolity as a kid in a toy store, but fail to understand that what we do with our hands is what keeps a marriage moving and no amount of physical attraction or tall promises can salvage a marriage.
No big fat weddings for me, because I would rather prefer to marry a woman, who respects herself just as much as she would respect me.
A relationship that is build on mutual trust and inherent understanding, where we don't need to talk to be heard, when a mere nod, look and a touch would do.
A bond where we are not conceited but implicit and honest.
Every man sees his second mother in his lover and every woman gets her first child in her lover
    -William Shakespeare
Having been love-deprived all my adult life, I have craved to be with a lady who would be a mother, lover, confidante, closest friend and most passionate wife. I've seen you, I've loved you.

When the party is over... the crowd moves on... when your age catches up with you... when the body gives up and mind gets rusted.
Love, Trust and Communication is all that you'll need.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Libdub: I've gotta feeling... By BEP

I simply love this song and the energy in this video. Excellent job by all..

Check out the making of the video here...

And the Original...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Why we love to hide behind God

I stumbled across this video which is so profoundly powerful yet distinctly humbling.
One of those videos that make you look inwards and think deeper

Five stars for this

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Love and Loss..

Were you ever in a relationship where you felt like you gave up too soon?
Have you ever been in a relationship that you knew was a dead end but regretted breaking up?

We give up too soon and too easily.
Humans are driven by love. We are constantly looking for affection and acceptance from others. But we often deny that person who truly loves us in our selfish pursuit of love.

Infidelity in relationships doesn't happen because we love the other person any less, but because there is a new recipient of all that love. There is a new person that we have trained our eyes on.

Some relationships are convenient escapes from reality and act like vacation homes that you head to when you want a break from the mundane grid of daily life.
Yet some other meet your physical needs, while starving you emotionally and spiritually.
Some relationships start with a lot of odds against them, develop into a strange coexistence of logic and reason.
The luckier relationships start platonic, and develop into something really beautiful. Weddings happen.

Marriages however can be tough, for most this is where the honeymoon ends. Real life begins here. Graduating from the Lover-boy to a Family-man is uphill pedaling.
The Wife takes it easier, for her it's just a new surname.
He will need to earn for the family. He becomes a one woman man, like it or not.
Probably, nature programmed the homosapien man to be monogamous.

However the Wife now ends up living with a Lover that does not shower all the love that he once showered. She is stuck with making his house. She needs to cook and clean after the Husband. 'Where did I make the mistake?' .. 'Is he not in love with me anymore?' ... 'Did he ever love me?'
Questions that the husband will need to answer real quick. But unfortunately these are questions that a man does not know how to answer without being hurt. While he grapples with these potent questions, the Wife takes his visible confusion and trauma as answers that complicates their once beautiful marriage.

They marry the man they love, hoping that they would change and become that New and Improved Man of their Dreams.
Men marry the woman they love, hoping that the woman will never stop giving him the 'emotional orgasm' that he experienced when courting.

Disappointment awaits both of them
Women fantasize so much on the wedding that they forget they have a marriage to live.
Men don't improve. Correction, men do improve, but improvement in men ends with potty training.

All relationships are hard work.
All our lives, we are tied with that common cognitive bond of emotion and duty.
From the cradle to the grave, we carry a lifetime of bonding. Some that will bring us immense peace and satisfaction and some the exact opposite

I remember a couple who once lived in with each other. They had a relationship of convenience. The guy's sexual and culinary needs were met and the girl's shelter and clothing needs satisfied. Why would they ever need to break up? Most men fantasize about relationships like this, but somewhere down the line they broke up. The girl grew distant and the guy could not take much more of her cold shoulder. They split but years later, he is still pining for her. He only wishes that he should have shut his mouth although he knows that she would have never satisfied his emotional needs.

If only we could look inwards, deep inwards, and plug that 'God shaped hole' in our soul, would we be able to fathom the unfailing love of True Love.
While our society gently slides and shimmy its way to greater depravity and spiritual vacuum, are we forgetting how transient our lives on earth are?
All the arrogance, infidelity and sex in this world cannot save nor satisfy you when your time to go comes.
All the pretty flowers and glowing eulogy wouldn't make a difference to you in death, if you didn't bother to make a positive difference in your relationships when you were alive.

All love on earth is transient and expires, and no matter how much that girl or guy might have professed to have loved you.. the only love that is true and tested is the love that our God showers on us. Your lover may not know all about you, but the Lord who knows all about you, even the really dirty stuff, loves you with a passion that none can match.
While lovers talk the talk, its only our Lord who talks the talk and walks the walk.

Look Within, Love Heavenwards. You can never get disappointed because you know that no matter who you are with and regardless of how much he/she professes to love you, you will have The Love that lasts.. unto eternity.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Quote unQuote

Every morning you have two choices.
Continue to sleep and dream.
Or wake up and chase your dreams.
-Vaishalli Panchal

Painful Truth-
We cannot beg someone to stay with us forever. We have to accept the painful truth that Love does not give us the license to own person.
-Vaishalli Panchal

Things we loose in life, always have its own way of coming back to us, at the end or towards the end. But it always happens in most unexpected happy ways! Believe in yourself.
-Vaishalli Panchal

Always stay with a sweet smile, Don't get upset for small and silly things.
Remember! Only your loved one can hurt you badly. Forgive and love again.
-Vaishalli Panchal

Every man sees his second mother in his lover and every woman gets her first child in her lover
-William Shakespeare

Lonely hours are the best hours of life. Because its the only time we share our deepest secrets with the most trusted person in the world; Ourselves
-Vaishalli Panchal

I don't know exactly what 'being mature' means, but i think it is when you are finally able to joke about things that once broke your heart badly.
-Vaishalli Panchal

God has said; 'I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee'. So that we may boldly say: "The Lord is my Helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me"
-Heb 13:5-6

When God takes away something from your hands, don't think that He is punishing you. But He is merely emptying your hands for you to receive something much better.
-Monica Kapoor

When you pray for others, God listens to you and blesses them. And when you are safe and happy, remember that someone has prayed for you.

Expression of the face can be seen by everyone. But the depression of the heart can be understood by the one who loves you.
-Vaishalli Panchal

Your sweet time of today is ending. Forget bad incidents, remember the beautiful moments, Refresh your body and mind. Sleep peacefully
-Ramya Peketi

How odd is the logic of the mind?
It seeks to compromise when we are wrong. And it seeks justice when others are wrong.
-Vaishalli Panchal

Someone very close to your heart can break it easily, but its amazing when we still love and care for them, with every broken piece. That's the true test of a relationship.

Even a small dot can stop a big sentence. But a few dots can give a continuity. Don't be depressed by the dot. Every end is the beginning of a new sentence.

Be slow in choosing a friend. And even slower in loosing one. Because friendship is not an opportunity. It is a sweet responsibility.
-Vaishalli Panchal

Most used alphabet is 'a'. It does not appear even once from 1 to 999. It appears for the first time in 1000 and never ends.
'Moral: Success requires patience...'
-Vaishalli Panchal

We cannot take anything alongwith us when we leave this life, except the love of our dear ones. Love the ones we have now.
-Vaishalli Panchal

A mother has strengths that amaze men. She can handle trouble and carry heavy burdens. She holds happiness, love and opinions. She smiles when she feels like screaming, she sings when she feels like crying, cries when she's happy and laughs when she's afraid. Her love is unconditional. There's only one thing wrong with her; she sometimes forgets what she is worth.

I can do all things in Christ which strengthens me
-Phil 4:13

It takes several years a seed to become a tree.
A flower takes months to bloom.
So have patience for any beautiful thing to happen in your life
-Vaishalli Panchal

Don't look at the circumstance you face... look to Jesus and don't give up.

No servants, yet a Master.
No degree, yet a Teacher.
No medicines,yet a Healer.
No army, yet a King.
No military battles, yet conquered.
No crime, yet crucified, yet risen.

The Lord is near the broken hearted'. He saves those who have lost all hope.

Crisis is not to make you bitter but better. Tell your problem that your Jesus is much bigger than your problems.

Heb 2:18

If you remain in Me and My Words in you, you will ask for anything you wish and you shall have it.
-John 15:7

When you pray, dont ask for lighter burdnes but stronger backs.

'Call to Me, and I will answer you'.
-Jer 33:3

Wait for the Lord, be strong, take courage and wait for the Lord.

Charm is deceptive and beauty disappears. But the woman who fears the Lord, is to be praised.

Do not fear, for I am with you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and hold you with my victorious hand
-Isaiah 41:10

What is impossible with man, is possible with Me.
-Luke 18:27

I alone know the plans I have for you.
-Jer 29:11

Monday, April 05, 2010

When memories come rushing by..

Recently I read an article which confirmed my worst suspicions.
'Words do hurt'

The article in question apparently quotes a scientific study that probably spent hundreds and thousands of dollars to prove how certain words do make our brains to react in a certain way. Duh!

Do you ever wonder why scientists are researchers are always proving the most mundane fact of life?
Who sanctions all the funds for these studies? What is the point? Are we any bit the more wiser or saner?
Does this study mean we will be happier and shield ourselves from all the painful words/places/memories?
Neither did I.

We have all gone through a lot of hurt. We are human, after all.
Which one among us would not have been in a hurtful relationship.
I have been in relationships where I have been both the victim and the villain.

Come to think of it, I have been in committed relationships for the past 6 years with women who have given a lot of love in their own unique ways. But with a lot of love, comes the scope of a lot of hurt.

Wounded hearts. Contrary to popular wisdom, time does not heal your wound but just keeps you in a drug induced pain-free state of mind. Lot of people choose not to look at their wounds and like how you inevitably bump just that wound when you least expect it, there comes that word, thought or act that rips open the wound.
You could have been wounded by offensive things that other people say or do to hurt us, by our own sinful behavior or by a calamity that overwhelming.

A wound to our heart never heals with time.
I've had fits of depression and I know lots of people who have struggled with physical, mental and spiritual symptoms of inner wounds.
Often the first response is to back away from the situation to allow time for healing. They often turn inward and brood over their hurt. The hurt gradually grows to be a festering sore just waiting for that unfortunate word, act or memory and out comes all the anger, bitterness, hate, revenge and fear. The rejection that they then receive brings more hurt. This is a vicious cycle.
Yet other people respond by balancing hurt with anger and revenge or by trying to protect themselves from further hurt to allow time for healing. As much as it seems, this never leads to true healing. As they enter into relationship, the wound hardens their heart and we receive more hurt.

True healing begins with God in your heart and your lives.

Throughout the Scriptures, in both the Old and the New Testament, we see our Lord's intense love for us.
God cares about your broken heart, wants to heal it and is waiting for us to let Him do the healing.
Jesus suffered the most excruciating death on the cross because it was His desire to heal us of the wound that the first human brought to Earth.
However, we must allow Him control, because He cannot change what He does not control.
Fair deal, I say.

The process starts by making a list of your hurts, starting with the greatest first.
Ask God to cleanse your heart of all anger, bitterness, lust, revenge, hate and inability to forgive.
Picture the experience in your mind and then picture Jesus suffering the same hurt and sin for you at the Cross.
His resurrection meant forgiveness and mercy for your sins.

Just as surely that the Lord can heal your wounded heart, He can also give you a tender heart that will be sensitive to the hurts of others.
He who is Omnipotent can change that which was meant for evil into good.

I had my Damascus road experience roughly two years ago.
God started healing me the moment, I asked Him to take control of my life.
When we have the reins of our life in our hands, we are capricious. There are some of us have learnt how to surrender ourselves to God, some others to the world and then some others a convenient combination of the two. However, what we forget is that we can never serve 2 masters, while being loyal to both. There will be a time when you will need to choose between the two.

Luke 4:18-19 says:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
      because he has anointed me
      to preach good news to the poor.
   He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
      and recovery of sight for the blind,
   to release the oppressed,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."

Lets all be messengers of the Good News.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Bucking the Ride

Driving in India requires you to have 3 absolutely essential aspects:
Good Horn, Good Brakes and Good luck.

Its been a long while since I've used public transportation.
'Infrastructure' as is known in India is a fairly loose term.

Recession meant I had to cut corners and with fuel prices eating up more of my earnings every month, I decided to sell my ride and take up public transportation.
I've earned most of my miles traveling in buses in Bangalore and back home in Kollam, Kerala.
Given a choice, I would travel in a bus rather than a car or any other private mode of transportation. Buses in Kerala and Bangalore are my favorite, besides the locals in Mumbai.

Public Buses in Bangalore are laid back and have a mind of their own. Drivers think they are above the law, and conductors try to make a quick buck every opportunity they get. There are laws, if it were followed, would have made driving in Bangalore is pleasure. But what do you get if a driver decides to stop for a passenger almost diagonally across the road, for 20 seconds. This has a domino affect on all the rest of the traffic that was unlucky enough to be behind the bus. In the 30 seconds that it took for the bus to get moving, you would have all the other drivers honking and literally pulling their hair out. Now, multiply this by a thousand buses doing this at least 30 times a days. Combine this with a hundred cows, a thousand bullock carts, a million Rickshaws, a zillion bikes and a quadrillion cars. That's the formula for Road Rash, Bangalore Edition.

I was traveling on the day of the Civic elections that were held recently, and I must say, that was the first day I ever saw the roads without a traffic jam in the CBD (Central Business District).
Many well intentioned publicity campaigns were launched, but none of them ever made a dent in the psyche of the common Indian road user.

So what ails Bangalore roads?

Most of them are illiterate and with the lackadaisical quality of primary education, our drivers rarely get to learn about traffic rules and unless there is a concerted effort, our children will never learn that either. I remember how we used to have traffic education back in our primary classes. My biggest source of social etiquette was from a TV show called 'Sesame Street'. I still remember how the friendly puppets used to teach us different things.. Sadly, our children are stuck with lackluster shows on TV.

Roads in Bangalore, are pretty much unmarked and none have dedicated lanes for emergency vehicles. Our drivers change lanes with absolute disregard and blatant disrespect for their fellow drivers and road users. A show of hand or signal is considered 'luxury' if not for the cursory glance while you are changing lanes or making that turn. After all, 'why should I take care. If you are behind me, you should look out for me'. Our 'I am the King of the Road' attitude is wrecking havoc which probably over the years, will mutate into 'Hit first, Ask questions later'.

I have seen ambulances with their sirens getting stuck at the traffic lights, just because the guy in the front didn't want to jump the signal. (He would have otherwise jumped the signal if he was late for a movie/date) God bless you, if you ever need an ambulance in Bangalore!
I have seen men (in particular) in bikes ride on the footpath (yes, you heard me right, the foot path) just so that they can get ahead at the traffic lights.

Well, the roads, themselves leave much to be desired since most of the roads that were laid in the last 2-3 years look like the work of a bunch of kids with shovels and a lot of tar. Uneven does not even begin to describe the road leading up to the Golf course and Hebbal flyover.
Much of the road look like tar was laid over a carpet bombed terrain, the railings shoddy and crooked and dividers that look like a bunch of Lego blocks strewn in a line. I have been on better dirt roads in villages! This road however gets me thinking and wondering 'Who approved this road and how is it that we never have bothered to castrate the bastards who made millions out of a work this shoddy'.

Enforcing laws that already exist should be given the highest priority. Nothing less should do. Like a capricious child with an obsessive compulsive disorder, our Authorities love to create a lot of new rules. It is almost like they are vying for credit for creating draconian rules that never get implemented. I recently got a mail (one of the thousands that are forwarded/spammed) that gave a list of all the traffic rules and punishments. What struck me (besides the realization that the rules might have been ghost written by some 8th grade student) was that most of the 'fines' were a pittance; Rs 100, for instance is a paltry sum. 1oo bucks would have been a princely sum back in the 80's but with the rupee being what it is now, I would rather pay the pittance rather than follow the rule. The fines which are meant to be a deterrence fail to even worry us. 
Growing up in Kuwait, there used to frequent and prompt checks (at any time of the day). There was never any reluctance to pay fines though we have rarely been fined, since the fines and the punishments there were as harsh as they were fiercely enforced. I have seen cops stand in the middle of the blazing sun to make sure they check every driver and punish those breaking the rules. You can't even think of jumping the red light, because you can bet your last buck that you will get a court order in 7 working days asking you to pay up KD 500 (approximately Rs 75000/approximately what an average Indian earns in 3 months). So if you drive without documents, no amount of money muscle or name pulling will help, you will be in jail until the court decides to hear your case (which is probably 1 week). Now this is liberal Kuwait. Consider yourself lucky you are not in Saudi Arabia. You ogle at that lady, and you would end yourself without an eye!

But welcome to India. Aren't we just so lucky that our leaders are politically impotent?

They don't have the will nor the creativity to enforce laws.
A lot of us would like to move mountains but few are willing to practice on small hills.
A very close pal of mine, once remarked that the reason why we have a very laid back attitude about development is because we were ruled over by other civilizations for several centuries.
'Ours is the only civilization that never invaded other countries, but were ruled by others'.Or what is also known as 'The Great Indian Excuse' for screwing up!

We take pride in mediocrity. So what if we were ruled over by other nations for centuries? There have been plenty of other nations, that were ruled and stripped off their riches. Some of them are still ruled by neo imperialistic countries like the US. Japan has not one natural resource of its own, has a large population that have lived through the really tough times but is one of the most respected nations in the world today. Their education system churns out geniuses and their work ethics are flawless. Their products are the most sought after. Health care is free and politicians are fair. Though they were ruled over, nuked and brought to their knees, nothing could ever stop them. They made reforms to their constitution and enforced laws that made sure that everyone had a fair playing field. Traffic is systematic and the pedestrians would cross only in designated sections on the road. Infact you will recognize a Japanese tourist by the way he/she waits for the pedestrian lights to turn green, although in Bangalore, this is a redundant oxymoron. Public Transportation is well developed and corruption is virtually unknown. They wouldn't even think of passing the buck, and when the Japanese apologise, they mean it.

Sometime ago, I chanced upon an well meaning article about 'The Social costs of bad roads'. While not going into the details of what the article said, I wonder how many of us even think of the long term consequence of bad roads and poor driving skills will have on our society and the next generation.

Traveling down the bad roads of Bangalore, some day, I hope the eyes and mouths of our conscience open to the fact that we are capable of better roads and better civic sense. But we instead choose to wear our social blinkers.

Vellanakalude nadu, (The land of White Elephants) A Malayalam comedy by the veteran director Priyadarshan gives you a glimpse at the struggle and the corruption that happens in Kerala (and pretty much any where in India) when it comes to building a road and other public infrastructure projects. (You can watch the movie with English subtitles here)

A lot of times, we like to sidestep the issue like a pothole, for we think we cannot make a difference. We like to indulge in the great bureaucratic exercise called 'Passing the Buck', when it comes to social responsibility.

The Transportation department will let you have a license to drive, kill and maim, and all you need to do is grease the palms of that RTO inspector. I recall when I was trying to get my license, I flunked the driving test 3 times, just because I chose not to bribe that agent in the RTO. I came back, the next day, paid that agent Rs 500 and said my license would be ready, asked me to give the driving test nonetheless. Waiting in line for the test, I noticed that my form had a tiny * that my agent had marked in the top corner, which indicated to the Inspector that he was paid off. Needless to say, I 'breezed' through the test and got my license in 1 week. I knew driving partly because of my experience abroad, but mostly because my Dad was my mentor. But imagine the hundreds and thousands of those who bribe obscene amounts of money just so that they can drive.

Driving while intoxicated is such a no-brainer that I wonder why otherwise smart people would even want to venture the wheel when we know of lives that have been shattered because of people who drove when they were drunk. I guess it is because we know we can bribe that cop off, or maybe because we can earn bragging rights that we drove after drinking. Well, what people don't realize is that it's just not your turn. Not yet.

Is demanding better roads and educated and thoughtful drivers too much to ask?

Welcome to Bangalore, Formerly known as The Garden City, but now it's just The City of bad drivers and horrible roads.
PS: The image of the day: 'Hump Ahead' was chosen because of the following reasons:
1) Because I would like to thank the English genius(es) who immortalized Indian Roads by combining 2 words that make every tourist from the West giggle with naughty anticipation.
2) Because that sign makes me giggle too.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Let he who is without sin...

Catholics are a worried lot nowadays.

In scandals that are rocking the highest echelons of the 'purest' form of Christianity with repercussions that could shake the faith of a million.

Rev. Lawrence C Murphy, who is at the center of the latest scandal is accused of molesting hundreds of deaf boys at a School for deaf in Wisconsin.

What rattles the victims more is that Pope Benedict XVI, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger had received letters about Murphy in 1996 which mentioned that the deaf community "needed a healing response from the Church". The Vatican sat on the case, deliberated but by the time, Murphy died, he died a priest.

The victims are outraged.
They wanted the tainted priest jailed and punished for his sins. And I believe the anguish is genuine.

As a young boy, I have been molested several times over a period of 4 years, and have lived with the agony, shame and trauma. I find it hard to trust people off hand and can't forgive easily either.

Sin is global. Forgiveness is Universal.

Victims of sexual abuse seldom forgive. Child Abuse is particularly traumatic, because the victim is unaware of what is happening to him/her, is incapable of defending themselves and is filled with the shame and hatred after the act.
I remember how I filthy I felt after I was raped as a 11 year old. I spat on my hands and my body to get rid of the smell. My mom didn't believe me when I told her I was raped. I've had nightmares for many years after that. I didn't know what I did wrong to warrant some stranger to take me home and rape me. I felt intense guilt for having gone to that playground that day.
For years after that, I would abuse myself physically to get rid of the guilt. I have grappled with trust and phobias.

As an adult, when I had to visit the locality near that playground I panicked. Memories of the act came rushing back. I vowed to never be back. I wished if I could ask that man why he did that to me, I would have asked him why he took away my innocence. I would have liked to have him behind bars. I wanted closure.

A decade later, I recall the trauma when I read reports about child abuse in the Church. Bibliographically, the Church is the Body of Christ. It is a living monument of how vast and encompassing God's love.

He wants us to live a simpler life. A life that looks up to Him in prayer, humility and gratitude.

Somewhere down the line, the Church has fallen. As guardians of our faith, the priests have fallen. Deep into a sin that defiles something that is supposed to cleanse.

2000 years ago, in the 33 years of His Life, Jesus encompassed love, forgiveness and mercy. He came to earth, to save the sinner. He dined with the sinner, Forgave the adulterer and Had mercy on all who didn't deserve it.

A placard that a lady recently held up as part of the protest read, 'If Jesus was here today, He would be with the victims'. Noble thought. But we are all missing the point. Jesus would have had mercy. He would have wanted us to have mercy on the sinners among us too, just the way He had on the Roman guards who crucified Him. Knowing that they were crucifying a Man who committed no sin, did they ever flinch? Not one stopped the crucifixion. Though Jesus cried out in pain, though He cried droplets of blood and bled water, His compassion and ability to forgive converted the heartless guards into staunch followers of Christianity.

Today, amidst all the cries to persecute the Vatican, all I can hear are a lot of people who have taken the moral high ground much like the scribes and pharisees who brought a woman who was caught red handed, to test Him. They ofcourse didn't really bring her because they were ridding the society of all evil, they just wanted to know how liberal He was in matters of the law of God. Reading their minds, and knowing their hearts perfectly well, He asked the truly righteous and sinless among them to throw the first stone in condemnation. Not one came forward. None could claim to have not sinned. He didn't condemn the woman either but forgave her, and asked her to "sin no more", lest she burn in hell.
Where were the men who committed adultery with her?

I notice it is equally easy to take the moral high horse now. We have self proclaimed guru's and moral policemen who choose to accuse the 'guilty' and endorse the 'righteous'.

'Judge not and you shall be judged by the same yardstick..'
If we were to let God judge us for all the sins and transgressions that we committed, the world would have been a nature reserve with none of us here.

He forgave all our sins.
Imagine the magnitude of the compassion!

By coming down to earth, taking the form of a baby, born in a the lowest form in the most humblest of locations to parents with royal lineage but modest living. Living through trials and temptations for 30 years when He could have easily 'made an entrance' with Angels and Archangels. He could have easily wiped away the people who mocked and ridiculed Him with a thought, but He persevered. He toiled and did things the hard way. He died the harshest way a man could. Yet, He had nothing but the greatest of compassion and love for all of us. He didn't die so that we can have something to fill into the 'Religion' field in forms. He died to pay for all our sins for all time to come. For all the sins of all the people for the last 2000 years and until He comes again. He died so that we can all say: "I am forgiven". He lives because we are not forgotten. He lives because we have an eternity to look forward to.

If as our Creator, who yearns for us to come back to Him and repent for the mess that we do, He is infinitely merciful, why can't we as mere cohabitants of this momentary life, learn to forgive people who falter.

It is not as if sexual immorality and sin didn't exist, it did. But He chose not to wipe us out of the face of the earth, because we are meant to look up to Him. Because we are meant to forgive and love. Jesus came, not because He had less work to do up in Heaven, but because He was on a mission to save us from hell. If we as humans feel obliged to return a favor that another person does, why are we so hesitant to forgive when another sins?

He could have certainly flooded the earth and snuffed out all life. He did that once but His grief of having destroyed something He created with His unending Love and His deep desire to see all His children come back to Heaven keeps us here.

When are we going to look inward? When are we going to see the planks in our eyes before offering to lift the speck of another's eye?

Being called a Christian, a Muslim or a Hindu is meaningless if we don't practice Universal Love and Forgiveness.

While it is true that we need closure, I doubt if true closure will ever come from seeing the perpetrator behind bars. I learnt that you will be able to forgive only when surrender your pain and trauma in humility and forgiving the person(s).

For the rest, 'let he who is without sin, cast the first stone...'
Go ahead forgive that person who sinned against you today, you owe Him.

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