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Travel encounter continues

Ayesha's Diary

She entered the classy room of the Hotel which was her home for the next three weeks. She studied every corner of it to check out the things that were available. As usual, there was a TV, a coffee maker, an office space and hold on what was that? Something new caught her eye, a mini-bar! She opened it – two boxes of Ferrero Rocher chocolates, lots of nutrition bars, water bottles and a section full of beverages from Jack Daniels to Vodka of all sizes. But the latter part of it didn’t interest her since she never consumed alcohol.

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She took one of the Ferrero Rocher chocolate boxes and within a while she had finished it up. She didn’t find the need to go for lunch. The next day, she went to work. Being the first day of her business trip at the office, it was a long and…

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A conversation

Me: In my dreams these days, I’ve been seeing celebrities whom I admire. What does that mean?

Friend: Maybe, there are bigger things waiting for you.

Me: Really? You think so?

Friend: Yes, but don’t make this a yardstick for your success.

Me: What do you mean by yardstick for success?

Friend: I mean, don’t think if you cannot meet these celebrities, your life isn’t successful. Success is when people who care for you and whom you care for, are multiplying, or with those that are existing the bond deepens.

You do acts of kindness and are blessed by people even if you don’t know. That’s success. People whom you meet on your path are your celebs and for those you bring hope, you are a celeb to them.

Me: Wow, I never thought that way. You are an excellent dream interpreter.

Friend: No, I am a story-teller 🙂

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Travel encounter continues

She entered the classy room of the Hotel which was her home for the next three weeks. She studied every corner of it to check out the things that were available. As usual, there was a TV, a coffee maker, an office space and hold on what was that? Something new caught her eye, a mini-bar! She opened it – two boxes of Ferrero Rocher chocolates, lots of nutrition bars, water bottles and a section full of beverages from Jack Daniels to Vodka of all sizes. But the latter part of it didn’t interest her since she never consumed alcohol.

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She took one of the Ferrero Rocher chocolate boxes and within a while she had finished it up. She didn’t find the need to go for lunch. The next day, she went to work. Being the first day of her business trip at the office, it was a long and tiring day. She reached back to her room by 11.00 p.m. and opened her mini-bar to get something to eat. And guess what, there was another Ferrero Rocher chocolates box! This was like magic. You take one and the next day it will be filled with the same contents.

Every time she opened the mini-bar, she used to get curious to know how the beverages looked like or smelled like. But this curiosity didn’t compel her to taste it, until one day the same week, she finally decided to open one of the bottles and see. She opened a bottle of the Vodka and smelled it. Oh no, that was a bad idea she thought and packed it back to the same place.

Later, in the week – she went to the reception to check out her total billing so far so that she could have a rough estimate on the expense she have to manage for the rest of her trip. The receptionist gave her the bill and Ayesha studied the bill, “Oh my God, this bill says I consumed a Vodka worth 1200 pesos? But I didn’t consume it. And the Ferrero Chocolates, those have been charged as well. Wasn’t that free?”

Her thoughts continued,”What will happen when I submit this bill to the Finance department for the reimbursement. There is going to be hell lot of questions, – Why did you consume so expensive beverage at the hotel? Did you take it alone? What was the need? bla, bla,bla. I really need to get myself out of this mess.

Without wasting more time she reached out to the receptionist, “Excuse me ma’am, your manager had informed me that the chocolates are complementary, why has this been charged then?.” The receptionist responded, “Ma’am, only the first piece that you consume is a complementary, rest are chargeable”. Ayesha thought. “Ok – so all this while I have been wrongly assuming the people’s been so nice to me. Distributing everything free.”- She thought to herself.

“Then what about this Vodka? I did not consume it, why has this been charged”. “Ma’am, if the piece is opened we consider that as consumed”. Ayesha couldn’t control her emotions, “If the content hasn’t been used, how can you consider that as consumed? I would appreciate if you could please remove this from my bill”

The receptionist called one of her colleagues. They exchanged few words and then came back to Ayesha, “Sorry for the inconvenience, Ma’am. If you haven’t consumed it, we’ll just remove it from the bill. We will give you an updated version by tomorrow morning”

What a relief it was to hear that.

She went to a grocery shop and bought lots of fruits and packed food for the next few weeks, as a replacement for her Ferrero chocolates!

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Face of God

Grandmas' stories

A woman of substance, a face as bright as the sun and love as the flow of the water – that’s my grandma.

She left us to the heavenly abode three years back but she still lives in our hearts even closer than during her earthly life.

Through the Grandma’s stories I wish to bring her to the world. I want them to know what it means to consume oneself for the love of humanity.

I pray to God that He may give me the wisdom and the strength to portray her life exactly as it was.

More to come soon!

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When it rains…

The Red Velvet Mites, the first time I saw them was when I was in school. I have a very vague memory of all the students always in search of them, that came out of their hiding place during rains. Though this looks like a spider, the students knew this wasn’t harmful. I remember us taking a multiple of them in our palms and see the beauty of this creation – so red and velvety and so attractive.

It was then and it’s now after almost two decades I found this again at my home ground – took me back to my school days.

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The child in me

When I was in school, I used to avoid drawing classes. My creativity never went beyond drawing a village scene, a home, trees or birds when I was handed a blank paper to draw.

Lately, when I was gifted a box of color-pencils by my far away friend in Philippines – the child in me was brought to life again and I started getting curious and enthusiastic to try to draw images and fill colors to it. Google of course came to my rescue to start with. Here is one of the drawing of “Our Lady of Guadalupe”. This is not perfect, but I was happy to see myself accomplishing something as simple as this.

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Heaven on earth

If someone were to ask who accompanies during my daily commute to work, the answer will be books, music and occasionally movies. Thanks to unlimited data availability, my new music player is now YouTube with an endless list of songs, movies and interesting videos. Despite of this huge collection, my search usually ends at “Ustad Hotel” for scenes, songs and background scores.

For those who have not seen this movie, the story is about a young man Faizy aspiring to become a well-known chef. After finishing his course in Hotel Management, his father wants him to join his business, however Faizy is hell-bent to go abroad to pursue his dreams. This results into a dispute because of which Faizy’s father forcibly takes his passport so that he cannot travel.

Faizy unable to handle this, leaves for his grandfather’s place who runs a hotel on a small-scale and takes up work there. It’s here that Faizy is introduced to the beautiful concepts of life by his grandfather who is a man of principles and known for his care for the poor. Though his grandfather is tough on him at work, they share a special bonding with each other.

When everything seemed perfect, Faizy gets an offer to join as an Executive chef abroad. During his conversation with his grandpa, he expresses how much this offer meant to him. Maybe this was all he was waiting for and he wanted to be successful in life. His grandfather is caught up with a cardiac attack, unable the bear the thought of losing his grandson. Though he is out of danger, he sends Faizy with a letter to his friend, Narayanan Krishnan in Madurai, Chennai.

Faizy follows as requested and goes to Chennai. He hands over the letter to Narayanan. Narayanan reads the letter, the content of which mentioned said that grandpa wanted Narayanan to be an eye-opener for Faizy. During his stay, he sees the unsung hero, Narayanan, who left his 5-star hotel job to serve the poor and needy after witnessing an old man eating his own waste because of hunger. He changed the purpose of his life to satisfy the needs of these people who were unwanted and give them love and affection.

Before leaving Madurai, Faizy is requested to make a special Biriyani for the mentally disabled kids at an orphanage. While accepting the request, Faizy never realized this was going to be his life changing moment.

He makes the best Biriyani he would have made so far and serves to the kids. The sight at the place moves him completely, seeing the challenges of the innocent kids. After the event, he sits there with tears and a heavy heart when all of a sudden the kids starts flowing in and writes something on his hands. He could not understand what it meant. One of the teacher tells him that they are saying “Thank You” in a code language.

He goes back to his Grandfather’s place with a new purpose . However, by the time he reaches his Grandfather goes for a pilgrimage leaving everything behind.

What I have tried to describe will not be enough to capture the soul of this movie. The conversations between the grandfather-grandson duo has now become an integral part of my life inspiring me to look at each day as a blessing and an opportunity to make a difference. I may probably not be able to take a big step like Faizy or Narayana, but I still have my family, friends, colleagues and a big community of needy people; whom we meet in our journey called “Life” and I’ll forever be on the lookout for such opportunities.

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Rush hour

My route on the way to the bus-stand. Often, I am in a too much rush to look around. But today it was different. With a little bit of rains the climate became so pleasant that I couldn’t stop myself from taking smaller steps so that I could feel the moment and enjoy the view around me. This was one of them.

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Her first travel encounter

Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned on the Fasten Seat Belt sign. If you haven’t already done so, please stow your carry-on luggage underneath the seat in front of you or in an overhead bin. Please take your seat and fasten your seat belt. And also make sure your seat back and folding trays are in their full upright position.

If you are seated next to an emergency exit, please read carefully the special instructions card located by your seat. If you do not wish to perform the functions described in the event of an emergency, please ask a flight attendant to reseat you.

 We remind you that this is a non-smoking flight. Smoking is prohibited on the entire aircraft, including the lavatories. Tampering with, disabling or destroying the lavatory smoke detectors is prohibited by law.

If you have any questions about our flight today, please don’t hesitate to ask one of our flight attendants. Thank you.”

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Sounds familiar, right? But for Ayesha, this was going to be her first time in a flight and that too for an International trip. As advised by her well-wishers, she ensured to secure herself a window seat, so that she can enjoy the aerial view.

She was welcomed by the flight attendants. As soon as she entered to look for her seat, she was surprised to see the crowd of Gujarati families all over and took a moment to digest that she had boarded the correct flight. Since it was the month of April, there was a huge crowd of people going on vacations to Bangkok.

She started looking for her seat, but was taken aback to see it already occupied by an old man. Perplexed, she verified if this was the correct seat but couldn’t understand why it was taken by someone else.

She stopped one of the flight attendant and asked,”Hey, can you check what’s wrong with the seat numbers? I have this seat allotted to me, but this is already occupied”. The flight attendant viewed the ticket and exchanged some talks with the old man and his family. Then she came back to Ayesha and said,” “Ma’am, would you mind if we arrange another seat for you? This family wants to sit together and  unfortunately their seats are scattered. We would appreciate if you could accommodate this request”.

How could Ayesha have denied this request? She didn’t know if arguing over this would have been a great idea and she silently accepted the request. She was taken to another seat next to two young guys. She took her seat but for some reason started feeling uncomfortable in the presence of two strangers. On the other hand, she was also blaming the attendants for depriving her of the window seat.

She started trying to fasten her seat-belt. All of a sudden, she observed a silence in the flight and an announcement began on the safety instructions. However, by the time she looked above she missed the important part, how to fasten the seat-belt. And probably asking someone was also not a good idea for that would be an embarrassing situation.   After all the struggle, she gave a helpless look to the guy sitting next to her who was already observing her attempts.

“I am sorry, this is the first time I am travelling”, said Ayesha. “No problem”, said the young guy smiling. He quickly gave her a demo. “That was so easy” – she thought to herself. Ayesha couldn’t have been more grateful for this help. She inquired to him,”What’s your destination?”. “We are going to Bangkok for a week long vacation. And you?” – came the response. “I am travelling to Manila, Philippines for work.”, said Ayesha. “That’s nice”, said the guy. After the take-off, she had her dinner and was all ready to rest.

She closed her eyes with content and got into a sound sleep.

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The Joy of Giving

Earlier this month, I got the opportunity to participate in the event organized at Apang Manav Mandal Boys Hostel, an NGO focused for elevating the children with disabilities. As per the original instruction that we received from our Event Lead we were to assist and motivate the children for a drawing competition. The first thought that initially came into my mind was, how will I be able to motivate a child in a duration of 2 hours that too for a drawing competition? But once I actually participated in the event my perception was changed and it was indeed an uplifting experience not just for the children but also for me as a volunteer.

The children had come back from their summer vacations and this was their first event post-vacation. Once we were all set for the event to start, the children started getting in at the place where the drawing competition was supposed to be conducted. Seeing these children with disability made my heart-melt and I was almost in tears wondering how much they have to struggle to undertake tasks.

Once the event started, every single child put in their creative efforts to give their best shot. As a volunteer, we got the opportunity to be with these kids and assist them adding to their thoughts and creativity; suggesting what best could be done to stand-out in the crowd. The response and the enthusiasm shown by the kids throughout the event was overwhelming. After the competition, we had a small gathering where the winners were announced and the children with some unique talent were encouraged to come in the front and perform. Each win was appreciated and celebrated by the crowd. In addition to this, I was truly amazed to meet and see people from our organization with such high spirits to make the event a success by engaging the children in conversations and spreading smiles. To me some were known faces and some were new, regardless – we all knew we had one common purpose – “To GiveBack”

Grateful that I got an opportunity to come out of my comfort zone and work together with colleagues to make a difference and give back to the society. Looking forward to be a part of more such events, which definitely will strengthen me as an individual.

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Ayesha’s Tragedy

Just like everyday, Ayesha returned home late after a long and tiring day at work. She had dinner with her family and excused herself for bed. She could never go to sleep directly without listening to some music or reading a bit. Ayesha led a life surrounded by a lot of people but she was at peace only when she was all alone by herself with her headphones on – dreaming about accomplishing her dreams. To her, music was like the blood pumping into her heart. Her passion for music was well known to everyone in the house and was often scolded by her mom for not concentrating on her tasks because of music.

Reading through some pages of Sherlock Holmes, she fell asleep, not realizing the lights were still on. She had entered into her zone of dreams where she was once again in the midst of things she liked the most. Suddenly, she woke up to a loud thumping at her door. “Who’s there?” asked Ayesha. “It’s us!” came a shout from the other side of the door. Still in a shock and rubbing her sleepy eyes, she opened the door to find her mom and dad standing there. She stood staring at them wondering what could have compelled them to wake her up at 2:00 in the morning. “What happened? Is everything alright?” she inquired.

With a worried face, her mom replied –“No, nothing is alright. We heard you singing in sleep”.  “What! Are you out of your mind? I’ve been in deep sleep and I know for sure, I haven’t been singing.” “No” came the response from the other side. “You have been singing, we heard you singing aloud. You were singing an old Bollywood song. And since you have been singing in your sleep, it seems like evil has come over you. We observed that you haven’t been praying enough lately and now the consequences are visible.” “But mom, I…”. “No, don’t say anything. Come downstairs with us now and let’s pray for you”.

Bewildered and irritated, she accompanied them downstairs. And there she was, sitting at 2.00 a.m. in the drawing room. Her mom handed her a Bible and said “Read this and ask for forgiveness of your sins”. For almost half an hour, she sat there like a statue. Not understanding what to do, she finally submitted herself to her parents and read the Bible. Taking this step was like freeing herself from jail. She was allowed to go back to sleep.

Next day, early morning – it was again time to go to office. The previous night’s hangover forced her not to talk to her parents and leave with a gloomy face still wondering what made them act so weird and deprive her of sleep.

As soon as she reached her office, she got a call. She answered the phone to find it was her brother Roger “Ayesha dear, how are you doing?” With a grim face, she replied “I am okay”. Roger continued, “What had happened yesterday?” Ayesha sighed, “Not again! Don’t remind me about that”. “Hey, hey, hey my little sister, don’t you worry. That was me singing in the middle of the night with my headphones on because of which I didn’t realize that I was loud enough to be heard downstairs. Sorry for what happened last night! It was all because of me.”

Ayesha froze there thinking whether she should get angry with him or laugh at the silly incident.

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Trust in God

Few years ago, I was in Mumbai for a business trip for a couple of days. This being my first trip to the happening city of Mumbai, I wanted to take all the opportunity to experience it and visit some of the famous churches which I always wanted to. 

The first day, I visited Mt. Mary Church and lone time at Bandstand. It was enjoyable to see the families, kids and couples having a fun time together. Particularly, I was astonished to see the enthusiasm of the young people waiting in front of ShahRukh Khan’s house “Mannat” waiting to get a glimpse of him.

On the second day of my trip, I made up my mind to go to the Mahim church. I called up one of my friend to consult on the route I should take to reach there. I was planning to hire a cab or rickshaw but my friend encouraged me to take a train to Mahim. I wasn’t sure if this was a great idea being a solo traveler to which he mentioned if I was able to, it will be a great achievement.

I decided to follow his advice. I took a train with the help of other fellow travelers and successfully reached Mahim. The next steps were tricky since I didn’t know which way to go and I couldn’t find anyone who could help me with it. I decided to take left from the station and kept walking up to a point where my inner voice said this is not the right path. Immediately, I recalled the verse from Isaiah 30:21 which goes this way, Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left.”

I started walking back and took a road straight from the station. I asked a cabman if he could drop me at Mahim church. He was kind enough to inform me that the church was at a walking distance. I kept walking until I reached a Church tower where a lady was lighting candles. Assuming this was the Church I confirmed with her. She said the church was at a different location. She paused and said if I can wait for her to complete her prayers she’ll escort me to the place. I happily agreed to this offer and observed her as she completed her prayers.

We walked for a kilometer until we reached the destination. What a peaceful experience that was having finally reached place. The lady bid me goodbye after guiding me on the way back to station. After spending a good one hour at the church, I returned to my hotel.

This simple event from my life has increased my faith and confidence in God. This depicted how close God is walking with us. No matter where we go he places his angels –  in the form of a friend, cab driver or the lady at the church tower. We just have to place ourselves in his care he will take care of the rest!