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18 October, 2017

Happy Diwali 2017

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Wishing ALL OF YOU, tons of success and prosperity.

20 July, 2017

Appearances Can Be Deceptive

Today, I have two stories for you. Both of them are true. Here's the first one:

Maxwell Morrison was well and truly screwed. He was standing in a courtroom in Bangkok, waiting for his sentence. The offence was drug trafficking, and if found guilty, the sentence would be life in one of the most horrific prisons in the world. The problem was that Maxwell was innocent. the drugs had been found stashed in a musical instrument he had agreed to carry through the checkpoint for a woman who had appeared to have her hands full with a baby, two young children and a whole lot of hand luggage. Of course, the moment the sniffer dogs singled him out for special attention, the woman and her children evaporated into thin air.

He had tried to explain this to the judge in his super-fast-track case, which had so far lasted less than 45 minutes, but the prosecution had countered by pointing out that it would take a very stupid person indeed to be suckered into carrying anything through a security checkpoint for a stranger - especially in this modern post-9/11 world. They had also pointed out that back home in Nottingham, Maxwell was a police officer. A security expert, who could never be as naïve as he was now pretending to be. Maxwell's only counter-argument to that had been, "Appearances can be deceptive". The Judge had given him the strangest look when he said that.

No, things were certainly not going well for him in this case. His only witness had been a British passenger who had seemed a bit drunk during her testimony. She admitted she had seen the woman hand the instrument to Maxwell, but added that they appeared to be travelling together. Again, Maxwell's defence was, "Appearances can be deceptive".

He remembered with irony the first time he had actually heard the expression "Appearances can be deceptive". It was in the eighties. He was a teenager going through a punk rock phase. He wore nothing but black, had multiple body piercings and was always playing with a scary-looking flip-knife. All the kids in school were afraid of him and steered well clear. One afternoon when he was enjoying some peace and quiet behind the boat shed, listening to Grateful Dead on his walkman, he heard a commotion. Three kids were bullying a foreign student. They were about to throw the little kid into the river, and the poor boy kept crying, "Please! Please, I can't swim!"

Maxwell intervened. At first, the three bullies wanted to fight it out, but Maxwell was a good three inches taller than the tallest of them. Plus, he had his knife, and he made them believe he was happy to use it. So they dropped the little foreign boy and went off to find a new victim. Maxwell asked the relieved kid if he was alright. The boy adjusted his glasses, looked at Maxwell for a long moment and said, "Appearances can be deceptive".

"Why do you say that?" Maxwell asked.

"Well, everybody thinks you're scary. Some kids even said you stabbed a teacher once. You're the last person I'd have expected to come to my aid. But thank you for doing so. I would have drowned if you hadn't. In Thailand where I come from, you owe the person who saves your life an eternal debt which you spend the rest of your life paying back. My name is Tran Pack, and I will never forget what you did for me." With that, he shook Maxwell's hand and ran off.

Back in the Bangkok courtroom, Maxwell allowed himself a wry smile as he recalled that childhood episode. Thirty years after he saved a Thai kid's life, he was now a 45-year old policeman, about to spend the rest of his own life in a Thai prison, all because appearances can be deceptive. He snapped out of his reflections as the judge banged his gavel three times. It was time for the verdict.

And that's where I'll end the first story. Here's the second story.

Judge Tran Pack could not believe his eyes when Maxwell Morrison walked into his courtroom. Thirty two years had not done much to change his appearance, so Tran recognised him at once. He listened patiently for 45 minutes and then banged his gavel three times before giving the verdict. "Mr Morrison, appearances can indeed be deceptive. Not guilty. You're free to go."

And that is the end of the second story.

My people, I know I don't need to say much more about the lessons from these two stories. As you live your lives, please take every opportunity to do something unforgettable for someone who can't pay you back today. They'll pay you back tomorrow with interest.

Kindness is not a debt you pay, but an investment you make.

24 June, 2017

Flower Pots

When my husband calmly announced that, after eleven years of marriage, he had filed for a divorce and was moving out, my first thought was for my children.

My son was just five, and my daughter, four. Could I held us together and give them a sense of “family”? Could I, as a single parent, maintain our home and teach them the ethics and values I knew they would need in life? All I knew was that I had to try.

So every Sunday, we attended church. During the week, I made time to review their homework with them, and we often discussed why it was important to do the right things. This took time and energy when I had little to spare, and worse, it was hard to tell if was really reaching them.

One Mother’s Day, two years after the divorce, as we walked into church, I noticed carts of beautiful flowers in little pots on either side of the altar. During the service, the pastor told us that he thought motherhood was one of the toughest jobs in life, and deserved recognition and reward. He then asked every child to come forward to pick out a beautiful flower and present it to their mother as a symbol of how much they were loved and appreciated.

My son and daughter, hand in hand, went up the aisle with the other children. Together they considered which plant to bring back to me. We had certainly survived some hard times, and this little bit of appreciation was just what I needed. I looked at the beautiful begonias, the golden marigolds and purple pansies, and started planning where I could plant whichever one they chose for me, for surely they would bring me a beautiful bloom to show their love.
 
My children took their assignment seriously, and looked over every pot on all the carts. Long after the other children had returned to their seats, and presented the other mothers with a beautiful potted flower, my two were still making their selection. Finally, with a joyful exclamation, they made their selection from the back of one of the carts. With exuberant smiles lighting their faces, they proudly proceeded down the aisle to where I was seated and presented me with the plant they had chosen as their Mother’s Day gift of appreciation.

I stared in amazement at the broken, bedraggled, sickly looking stick being held out to me by my son. Mortified, I accepted the pot from him. They had obviously chosen the smallest, sickest plant—it didn’t even have a bloom on it. Looking down at their smiling faces, I saw their pride in this choice, and knowing how long it took them to choose this particular plant, I smiled and accepted their gift.

But then I had to ask—out of all those beautiful flowers — what had made them pick this particular plant to give to me?

With great pride, my son said, “this one looked like it needed you, Mom,” As tears flowed down my face, I hugged both children close. They had just given me the greatest Mother’s Day gift I could ever have imagined. My hard work and sacrifices had not been in vain—they would grow up just fine.
 
As we grow older, life experiences cloud our judgment, and circumstances create bias. We have earned our years, and we think that we understand the ways of the world.

But when you think you have everything figured out, something will happen to catch you off guard, and surprise you in a profound way.

This mother almost had her heart broken. But her beloved children understood that the power of a mother’s love can turn a dying plant into a blossoming seed of life.

15 April, 2017

Two Horses And A Bell

Just up the road from my home is a field, with two horses in it.

From a distance, each horse looks like any other horse.

But if you stop your car, or are walking by, you will notice something quite amazing....

Looking into the eyes of one horse will disclose that he is blind. His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made a good home for him.

This alone is amazing. If you stand nearby and listen, you will hear the sound of a bell. Looking around for the source of the sound, you will see that it comes from the smaller horse in the field.

Attached to the horse's halter is a small bell. It lets the blind friend know where the other horse is, so he can follow.

As you stand and watch these two friends, you'll see that the horse with the bell is always checking on the blind horse, and that the blind horse will listen for the bell and then slowly walk to where the other horse is, trusting that he will not be led astray.

When the horse with the bell returns to the shelter of the barn each evening, it stops occasionally and looks back, making sure that the blind friend isn't too far behind to hear the bell.

Like the owners of these two horses, God does not throw us away just because we are not perfect or because we have problems or challenges.

He watches over us and even brings others into our lives to help us when we are in need..

Sometimes we are the blind horse being guided by the little ringing bell of those who God places in our lives. Other times we are the guide horse, helping others to find their way....

Good friends are like that... You may not always see them, but you know they are always there..

Please listen for my bell and I'll listen for yours, and remember...

Be kinder than necessary - everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Live simply,
Love generously,
Care deeply,
Speak kindly.......

FOR WE WALK BY FAITH AND NOT BY SIGHT.

Better Half

There’s a bakery shop near to our house. Often, on my way back home in the evening, I buy some stuff for the morning breakfast. Today, as I was about to leave the bakery, I met our neighbour Mr. Ajay who himself was leaving the same shop. After the exchange of some traditional greetings, the conversation went like following.

I asked: “What have you bought?”

Ajay replied: “Nothing much , just some chicken patties and some sweetmeats for my wife and children”.

Jokingly, I enquired, “Why so? Hasn't your wife cooked today?”

He said: “No, it’s not like that. Actually today in office we were a little hungry so my colleagues ordered some patties and sweetmeats. Since, I had this at the office I thought to buy some for my family too. It’s not fair that I eat whatever I like at the office while my kids and wife remain bound to eat whatever is cooked at home.”

Confounded with great surprise, I stared at him because I never thought this way before.

I said: “What’s the big deal, ajay?  If you eat food of your own choice at the office, your wife and children would also be having whatever they like to eat at home.”

Ajay replied: “Not at all,  My wife saves for me from everything there is. Even if someone from neighborhood sends something, my wife first saves some for me and then distributes it among my kids. It would be very selfish if I just enjoy good things with my friends and not with my family.”

Amazed upon hearing this I said: “Enjoying? This bakery stuff is what you think is enjoyment?”

He said: “Whatever ! I dread the time when on the Day of Resurrection I’ll be questioned about this. That I took someone’s daughter into marriage and had fun with my friends while she ate whatever little was available.”

Completely stunned, I couldn’t move my eyes off him while he continued.

“Look, when we get married to someone’s sister or daughter, they are human beings as well. Just like us. They too have hunger needs. They have their desires as well. They too wish to taste lots of delicious foods or foods of their choice, to try different kinds of lovely outfits. They also want to move and travel around. Keeping them caged like a bird, providing them meals twice a day and having a sense of smugness for doing all this is selfishness. And the way we treat the daughters of others is the way our own daughters and sisters will be treated because what goes around comes around.”

His last words shook me to a great degree. I never thought like this before.  Concluding the conversation with Ajay I said, “Great! You have made me think from a different perspective.”

I turned back to the shop.

Ajay: “Where are you going?”

I replied, “To buy some ice-cream…actually I had some ice-cream at the office today.”

Ajay and Myself took their respective paths. Ajay was glad to have a positive impact on me. On the other hand, I now, knew how to keep my wife and kids happy and acknowledge all the efforts my wife does for my happiness.

Wives are what makes life beautiful!

No wonder they are called the better half.