Savior of Would-Be-Mothers

Weekend Projects

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You will find this verse on page 473 of Guru Granth Sahib Ji, the holy book of Sikhs.

I have loved this verse since I was a child. It reminds me of the importance of women in our lives.

She is blessed with the gift of reproduction. She is the one who can conceive a child. She is the one with whom a man is married to, to  continue the cycle of life. 

She is a friend and she is the one who can set the course of future generations. Once she dies, a man looks for another woman to be part of his life. Why do we abuse women who are the mother of Saints and Kings?

She is the only one who can give birth to a man or a woman and there is no man who has come into this world without her touch. Almighty is the only one who is not born out of a woman. Guru Nanak Dev Ji, explains us that the man who praises the Almighty always, is blessed and revered in His court.

Whenever I came across this verse, my eyes sparkled. I felt respected and felt the same for all the women in my life. In Sikhism, the women are not only praised, but are given deep respect. Yet, I was shocked to hear that these days Sikh families too, abandon their girl child. Although, there are laws to punish the doctors who reveal the sex of the offspring, not much can be expected in a country like India engulfed in corruption. On the other hand, there is no check on the people who threaten the doctors to commit the heinous crime and abort the child if the sex is not male.

My recent vacation took me to one of the charitable institute. It was a multi storey cream building with the name of the institute written in black on a large board painted yellow. There were several workers fixing the tiles of the ramp at the entrance and they directed me to the main office.

I was greeted by a young lady. She was dressed in pink and had a pleasing personality.

“Please take a seat, the principal will be with you shortly. Would you like to have some tea or coffee?”

“Tea, please.”

The main office had a huge black ebony desk with a black ergonomic office chair, a cupboard, couple of sofa chairs and few plastic ones. There were several young girls about 2 or 3 years old running in and out of the main office. I smiled at one of them and she ran towards the young lady who just returned with some tea for me and those waiting for the principal to arrive.

“Thank you”

She sat beside me and shared that one of their students is getting married in a few days. The principal is out shopping for her wedding and will arrive soon. She gave me a multi paged pamphlet to read and learn about the institute. I was keen to view the facility and requested her for a tour.

She was delighted and I went with a couple of others to view the facility.

Each of the floors, three including the basement, had large rooms that could house three to six beds including closets. We met some of the girls studying together and one of them mentioned she has chosen “Arts” and would like a career in that stream. We managed to peek into the new kitchen and serving hall that was under construction. It was beautiful, even though there was much work required until it is functional. We met some of the girls who helped in the preparation of meals. The campus  was neat and tidy, but surely you could sense that donations weren’t enough to run the place.

We returned to the office and had just started chit chatting that the principal arrived. She was tall, pious, beautiful lady in her forties. She was not wearing any makeup or jewelry, but there was a calm radiance on her face. She greeted us all and apologized for the delay. She had been with us for barely five minutes that four young girls ran across the room towards her calling her “Mom”.

One of them wanted to sit on her left lap and one on the right. One wanted to sit on the table and the other wanted to swirl her chair. They were asleep when she went out shopping for the wedding and the young ones were curious what she brought for them. We were all watching her negotiating with all of them and not once did she lose her temper. She requested her senior girls to manage the toddlers for a while and convinced the toddlers that they will receive their gifts.

The interaction was so pure that all of us were convinced that this institute is doing something right. We learnt from the principal how the girls landed in her institute. One of the toddler was found in the dump. She was barely a day old. Some of them were orphans, some had parents undergoing divorce, some parents were handicapped or disabled to take care of their girl and some who were just abandoned because of their sex. Most of the stories fell in the last category.

The current strength of the institute was around 200 and she was proud that she has managed to take care of all of them from day one until they get married. One of the principles of the institute was to educate every female child. Some of the brightest students had opted to become Lawyers and Doctors. We were amazed to hear that the institute was running purely on donations.

It was for the first time that I did not hesitate to donate. It was for the first time that I felt being seated few feats away from someone who is blessed and has the courage to follow her mission. Her mission, to give each one of them a unique identity, to love them, to give them security, to make them feel at home and encourage them every step of the way..

Kudos to you Sandeep!!

 

Reciprocal Altruism

Weekend Projects

img_2209The concept of “reciprocal altruism” is defined as an act of helping another individual with the expectation that the other individual will act in a similar manner in a reverse situation.

Lending a helping hand to a younger brother on his holiday homework, endorsing a peer on LinkedIn, complimenting your spouse for a delicious meal, congratulating a colleague on her wedding, recommending a friend for a job opportunity, offering discounts to potential clients and even donating money to political candidates are all examples of fostering goodwill.

I was having a casual chat with my sister on this subject when she shared her recent journey by bus.

“An old gentleman, probably around 70’s, boarded the bus packed to its full capacity. In the absence of a decent straphanger, he grabbed the handle of two seats to stay put and embraced the bumpy ride. I couldn’t watch him balance the bounce for long and offered him my seat. He smiled and thanked me several times as he sat down.

He reminded me of “Pitaji” (Father). Someday, someone might offer his seat to him when he needs it the most.”

I was touched by her random act of kindness and taking reciprocal altruism to a whole new dimension.

Do you believe in reciprocal altruism?

Brief exchange and Immense Joy

Weekend Projects
Digital eye and cross

Close up of eye with digital lights and Christian cross

I was waiting for my turn outside the eye OPD when the nurse announced my name. I jumped out of my chair and hurried to the optometrist room. He asked me to cover my right eye and read the alphabets approximately 20 feet away. Then repeat with the left eye. I read almost all the rows with great agility except for the last few words that appeared hazy. A bit unsure, but I read them as “W” and “M”.

He scribbled on my card 6/6 and asked me to concentrate on the tip of his pen. He moved it from left to right, top to bottom, far and near constantly reminding me not to move my neck around just the eyes. Pleased with the results he asked me,

What brings you here?

I came for a regular examination.

Disbelieving, he asked, where are you from?

Oh! I just live across the street.

Well, not many people visit us just for a regular examination. It’s a rarity he affirmed.

I smiled agreeably not revealing that I came to the city for a short vacation.

He asked me to wait outside for the senior doctor to examine my retina. He also explained that the nurse will administer a few sets of eye drops to dilate my pupil.

I took some magazines from the rack to read, but the chatter in the room was quite distracting. I was not carrying my smart phone today, so there were no games, no videos, no emails and neither social media to connect to. Well, I just have to wait.

I was gazing at the people around when I noticed a three-year-old boy wearing a red tee and khaki shorts just a few seats away watching me closely. When I matched his gaze, he shyly turned around and hugged his mother. Almost instantly he looked back to see if I was still watching him. This time he smiled and I reciprocated.

Acknowledgement, admiration, compliments followed by a session of peek-a-boo laid the foundation of our friendship.

The couple seated beside me started smiling too, and the next one and the next. I neither knew this young boy’s name nor did I know where he came from, yet I felt a connection. He had livened up the entire room. It was way more than watching a movie, more than playing video games and certainly more than being connected on social media.

The nurse announced his name and he walked smiling into the Doctor’s room with his mother.

Happiness in this brief exchange was indeed contagious.

I Crave, I Like, I Enjoy and I Love

Weekend Projects

Every day I challenge myself to do something different, something unusual, something I have never tried before. Recently I was introduced to non vegetarian food and trust me, I almost ate my fingers away. My friends were skeptical and almost disbelieved watching me swallowing the fish, enjoying the oysters and cracking the crab.

I admit, I am never going back to the other side.
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I tried to learn a new sport, kayaking. How hard could that be? I was fortunate that my gym provided paddle simulation equipment. The best part was there was a game flashed on the monitor. The more energy you expend in rowing the paddles, the greater distance you covered and the fish (or perhaps the boat) swam faster. Interesting, isn’t it? The first day I barely managed to paddle for 2 minutes. I had excruciating pain in my back. I must not give up. The next day I tried again, 2 minutes. Well, I increased the speed and resistance gradually. It was amazing that it was less painful. My body was adapting to this pain. Next week I managed 10 full minutes. I was elated and called my friend to go for an actual kayak expedition. 2 hours, can you believe it. We did kayaking for 2 straight hours.

Kayaking! Yes, anytime.
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I like to sing. I am not really a stage performer but I like to sing for myself. I have always loved certain hymns that have touched my heart. And there is no better place than my bathroom for practicing the various notes. The acoustics are amazing and fear of none. I can sing out loud, scream and test my pitch to its limit. Not to forget the water from the taps and hissing of the shower administer a perfect rhythm. I also record my voice here and there and it is hilarious to hear myself.

Sing to your heart’s content.
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I am fascinated by the English language. Words are its true power. Words are born, mature and die and sometimes are re-born again in a different century with a different perspective. These tiny packets packed with TNT can spread the love or wipe out humanity. I want to learn, love, adopt and be comfortable around them.

It’s only words and words that all I have to take your heart away –Bee Gees

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How do you challenge yourself? Do share!