Chief Want In Life.

“Our chief want in life, is, somebody who shall make us do what we can.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson,

This is one of life’s paradoxes. Completely baffling in its simplicity, truth and high impracticality.

This post has been inspired by my coming across that quotation earlier this week and connecting it to Cheerful Monk’s quoting, one of my favourite quotes by Viktor Frankl back to me.

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space.
In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and happiness.”

This was in my post Unpaid Carers. It will be worthwhile visiting that post to get the context for this post.

I responded:

“I am in that space CM. My response has been to take personal responsibility for the care of my father. My response was not to abandon him to a home or to his own devices. And that response has been the purpose that Frankl talks about. I have no doubts whatsoever that, I am growing spiritually and finding happiness in the process. It may not be the happiness that others may wish for me, but in my own way, I am happy doing what I do. My compassion will not allow me the luxury of abandoning my father to a home, irrespective of how far it is from my home.

Happiness however, is not a permanent state of mind. There are moments, when my fallibility comes to dominate my mood and I have learnt to handle it in my own way.”

Viktor Frankl says that the meaning of life is found in every moment of living; life never ceases to have meaning, even in suffering and death. Frankl offers the thought that, for everyone in a dire condition there is someone looking down, a friend, family member, or even God, who would expect not to be disappointed. Frankl concludes from his experience, that a prisoner’s psychological reactions are not solely the result of the conditions of his life, but also from the freedom of choice he always has even in severe suffering. The inner hold a prisoner has on his spiritual self relies on having a hope in the future, and that once a prisoner loses that hope, he is doomed.

I certainly have the freedom of choice even in the present difficult phase that I am passing through and certainly lots of hope for the future. Does that mean that I am looking down on myself from some detached level, and I do not want to disappoint that other self? Or, is that someone that Emerson talks about, my father, whose current health problems makes me do what I can for him?

My brother Barath thinks that I write about my experiences as an attention seeking device, seeking strokes as he calls it. Am I doing that? Or have I taken Web Log as a diary where I share my inner thoughts and let others read them for the sheer joy of writing and sharing? I ask that because no matter what I do, I don’t think that I will disappoint any of my siblings or other members of my extended family who know the background; nor my wide circle of friends. But I also wonder if I have already disappointed them by doing what I can under the circumstances!

Right now my chief want in life is to get through one day at a time and that the situation doesn’t deteriorate below what it is today.

Cheerful Monk also quoted another favourite quote back at me.

“Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.”

~ Zen

I responded:

“I have seen three springs since my father came to live with me, and indeed, the grass has grown by itself and also withered by itself. I have not yet lost my marbles!”

I think that another Zen quotation will fit in admirably here.

“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.”


Wise Woman.

My readers and I know of one wise woman. This story reminds me of her!

A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman. “I’ve been thinking,” he said, “I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.”
~ Author Unknown


Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where twelve of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Grannymar. The ten other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Magpie, Maria SF, ocdwriter, Padmum, Paul, Rohit, The Old Fossil and Will. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
~ Steve Jobs

I could not have put it better. This has been the way that I have lived my life as all my regular readers know. I have sat quietly, letting the spring come and the watching the grass grow by itself. In retrospect, I have been able to connect the dots and marvel at how eventful the journey has been. I therefore have no problems trusting the “whatever” to connect to my future. By and large, when it comes to trusting others, I have done so without exception till I was proved to have been wrong. That has happened, but, fortunately for me, very rarely. Mostly, the trust had not been misplaced.

On the other hand, and this is where things get dicey, when others place their trust in me, it is a different ball game altogether. The dots become very important. That I am responsible for another person’s well being brings a different dimension to the word ‘Trust’. I cannot sit quietly and wait for the spring to come and the grass to grow by itself, though my instinct tells me that, that is the right course to take. I resist the temptation and try and connect the dots on a day to day and immediate future basis. It has worked so far and in retrospect, the dots have been connected.

I have implicit trust that everything will work out alright in the future. So far, it has worked for me.

The Salt Of The Earth.

This is Shanmugham, my friend from the park. He is from Tamil Nadu and wears the traditional dress of that state; white dhoti and half sleeve shirt. He speaks the same language as my mother tongue and that is the factor that brought the two of us together.

He is a retired farmer from the Kaveri delta. He comes from a village very close to my ancestral village. One of his sons now manages his agricultural interests. He has another one running a very profitable fly ash brick making industry, close to his farm lands. One of his sons is a Manager in a Five Star hotel in Quatar and another is the Executive Chef in a Five Star hotel in Pune. He has come to Pune to spend time with the last.

Where I sit in the park after my walk, to my left all my English/Hindi speaking friends sit and to my right, Shanmugham and another Tamil speaking friend Ganesan sits, and occasionally, another Tamil friend Ramanathan joins too. An important friend, Rangachari has just gone off on a three month tour of South India and the Far East Asia. All these gentlemen live with their sons as do I. The difference being that they keep visiting their many sons, while I stay put with my one and only child Ranjan. All of them keep visiting their daughters too.

Whenvever any of these friends come home, my father is over joyed as he can speak to them in Tamil and he particularly likes to chat with Shanmugham with whom he shares the agricultural background.

My English/Hindi speaking friends wonder how I can survive in the stereophonic cacaphony every evening and are convinced that I am a freak. I agree.

Shanmugham is my current link to my roots and some common sense solutions to life’s problems. He is totally guileless and entirely fits this definition of the phrase of this blog post: “Those of great worth and reliability.” All his children, the four sons and two married daughters as well as a brood of grand children adore him as I can make out from the telephone calls that he keeps getting from around the globe as well as from the way he is treated by his local family.

He neither speaks nor understands any language other than Tamil. He has studied up to the fourth standard in a Tamil medium school, and while is literate, not very well read. He is wise and his IQ must be over 140. He had to stop schooling to help his father run the farm and so lost out on formal education. For all that, he has ensured that all his children studied and the results are there for all to see.

His background, one foot in the village and the other in other towns and cities of India as well as overseas, is repeated all over India and is a factor behind some good and some bad developments. His story however is full of the good developments. With this particular story as a backdrop, this NYT article shows how complex and enigmatic India is.

I am privileged to have him as my friend and I am flattered that he considers me as a good friend too.

The Iron Man.

No, I am not talking about Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel. I have been given the title by a friend. Read on.

A couple of weeks ago, I had gone to the park wearing my black Hush Puppies sandals. Vimlu asked how come they were so shiny and I preened and said that I had polished them myself. She immediately recollected the stories told to her my late mother as well as Urmeela about how I ironed clothes before wearing them even though they might have just come from the laundry and also how I would polish my shoes.

There was another friend Mahesh who had accompanied me to the park that day and he was listening to this story. On the way back, he ribbed me about the ironing of clothes to remove the folding creases.

He returned to the USA and has just sent me this to describe me.


Delirious has an interesting post “The Trials Of Being An Only Child” in her blog.

My son Ranjan is an only child, and to the best of my recollection he has never had a ‘No’ for an answer from his parents, ever. He was and is clever enough to ask for only those things for which he would not get a ‘No’ for an answer.

The issue that I wish to address however is not whether he should have got some ‘No’s. It is too late to worry about that now.

The story that Delirious conveys brings to mind a story that my Guru Swami Dayananda Saraswati, uses to highlight the value of values. I relate the story in a much abridged form.

A childless couple adopt a street urchin who they regularly see near their home eating whatever he can scavenge from the thrown away packets and the waste bins. They clean him up, and arrange for him to go to school and the mother becomes very fond of the child and teaches him about his new station in life and how he should behave.

Every day, the child would get dressed in the school uniform and go to the near by school and just before leaving the house, the mother would give him a chocolate to have some time during the day. It once so happens that on the way to the school itself, the child unwraps the chocolate to eat and the nice bar falls on the road.

At this point, Swamiji would pause and ask the audience as to what the child would do. The answers would inevitably be either that the changed circumstances would make the child to ignore the fallen chocolate, or that he would pick it up, dust it up a bit and eat it. Swamiji would say that the most possible scenario would be that the child will first look around to see if any one was observing and then would pick up the chocolate to eat or not depending on the situation. He would add that if the situation permitted, the child would pick up the chocolate and perhaps as a concession to its current status and knowledge, instead of eating the bar, would first dust it before biting into it.

The point is that the child’s values have changed, but not its desires. Then of course, Swamiji would proceed to elaborate, which is not the thrust of this post.