August 30, 2014 in Service
#globalite Suri suggests that our small actions of kindness and compassion matter and make a big difference. #servicesaturday #randomactsofkindness
A single moment can transform a life completely or worse it can destroy a life completely. The tornadoes in Oklahoma are a grim reminder that when nature gets angry it spares no one – kids, adults, men, women, young and old; will destroy everything in its way. Not technology, not money, literally nothing can stop it or nothing can slow it. Humans are rendered helpless and left to be mere victims. And the after affects are such that it becomes hard to tell who is fortunate – the one who survives the natures furry or the one who lay siege to it.
Someone lost their loved one, someone went missing, someone is grieving over the loss of their loved one’s, someone is happy their loved ones survived, someone is attending urgent medical or someone is searching for their lived ones.. But I guess, at the end it’s the small things about life become the only things that matter for the rest of the lives – at least for the survivors.
The last dinner they had or the one that they missed; the last time they said they care about their loved ones or the last opportunity they missed to say this; the last parent teachers meeting the parents attended or they missed it; the last movie they saw together or the one they missed – this will either be in their memories for the rest of their lives or will haunt them for the rest of their lives. Not the long hours they put in at work, not all the millions they had in the banks, but its these small things that will matter.
Oklahoma has been declared as a national disaster and so was sandy. But this doesn’t mean that the Fed will be responsible for the disaster relief it also means as people living in this country (immigrants or citizens), its our responsibility as well to do everything in our capacity to justify our existence. Don’t get me wrong, this is no spiritual mambo jumbo, its just plan and simple common sense. We could have been easily in the harms way with sandy the super storm or the earthquakes or anything else – but we were not and to that and for every single moment of joy and/or sorrow we share with our loved ones, is reason good enough to care for others.
As soon as the media moves on to the next big prime time news, focus on the disaster recovery will be waning because that’s the nature of life. It just forces us to move on – no matter what. Disasters unfortunately apart from being the monsters they are, they turn angels for the people who try to exploit the situation to satisfy their personal greed. To think the government has the necessary resources and infrastructure to deal with such disasters is unrealistic .
And this is where we matter. Yes, the small things we can do, matter. Small things such as contributing our personal time, money, effort in assisting the relief efforts matter. Because when people in disaster see other people respond and not necessarily the disaster recovery experts, it gives them hope that there are people outside of their family who care for them – a strong reason for them to fight for the recovery.
An anecdote from the sandy relief efforts: the recent sandy clean up effort that we went for involved renovating an old lady’s house. She lost her husband and she had a daughter who was differently abled. This was their only house. For the past 7 months the mother and daughter were forced to live separately due to financial constraints. When we were laying the sheet rocks for the house, the ground coordinator called the old lady to update her and she was thrilled to learn the progress. Despite her financial and emotional conditions, there was a sense of hope and more importantly excitement in her voice that things are back on track. What we did was a small thing but the impact it had on the old lady was worth something.
So while we feel sympathy for the victims, while we mourn the loss of those who died, we could also do something beyond it. Natures fury cannot be overpowered but human tragedy can be overcome by compassion for each other.
[Image Source: Suspended Coffees]
#globalite Suri contemplates about what he could have done and feels he has a second chance at setting things right. #donowsoyoudontregretlater
I was running as fast as I could, away from death
My legs gave up on me and I was gasping for breath
Couldn’t run anymore, couldn’t walk anymore
I could stand on my legs no more
I looked around with fear
Death was very near
I knew that this was my end
In fear I asked why was I being chased
Death answered without any hesitation
You had no humane interaction
Confused, I asked, what do you mean?
Let me start with when you were ten
After a graphic run down of my past
I was left totally aghast
I wasn’t always this way, at least not when I was ten
But as the years went by I just got busy in my profession
It didn’t matter when the street vendors were evicted
Nor did it matter when my professors daughter was sexually harassed
It didn’t matter when my neighbor got arrested under false charges of corruption
Nor did it matter when my maids daughter discontinued her education
It didn’t matter when I bribed to avoid the legality
Nor did it matter when I stole someone’s intellectual property
Now when I’m staring at death
I realize this isn’t me, I was never this self obsessed
I was never this indifferent nor was I this inconsiderate
No wonder my streets look deserted with all the vendors evicted
No wonder my professor felt isolated which left him completely devastated
No wonder no one trusts anyone in my neighborhood
No wonder my maid’s daughter got married in her early childhood
No wonder I shamed my family
Experiencing all this, the kids have also become unruly
I could have stood by my professor, I could have sent the kid to her teacher, I could have followed the rules, I could have obeyed the laws – now it’s too late
I’m staring at death
I realize this isn’t me, I was never this self obsessed
I was never this indifferent nor was I this inconsiderate
And that’s when I heard the kids laughing and the birds chirping
And boy was I relieved because I seem to be dreaming
What a coincidence that It’s the happy independence
When I got my second chance
[Image Source – Villains Wikia]
August 2, 2014 in Service
If you thought Globalizm is all about feel good posts, think again. We, right here are global citizens raising our awareness and striving to be the change in every way we possibly can. #globalite Suri in this riveting post talks about things that go largely unnoticed and what we can do about it. #servicesaturday
I got ready to go to the college. But instead I was kidnapped right in the middle of the road, raped in the vehicle and left to die in an unknown place. My parents kept waiting for my return.
It was a big day for it was supposed to rain. But it didn’t and all my hopes for a successful crop were shattered. No money to pay the money lender, nothing to pay my sons college fees, all I could afford was a pesticide which helped me kill myself. My son who came back from college with the hope to find the money, instead found me dead.
It was the last day of college, I went along with my friends on a picnic. Knowing fully that the water in the lake would never be above knee height, I got in. A minute later I found myself in a bottom less pit filled with gushing water and I fought hard to keep breathing and stay alive but the water was too strong for me. My parents were planning a vacation, instead planned my funeral
I hardly slept the night before for I was going to get married the next day. Went to the nearby saloon for a quick shave and on my way back, the bus ignoring the red light ran over me. I lay injured on the road but no one came to help until death came to my rescue. All the guests mourned my death at the wedding
I was excited to see my mother, to see the world outside for I’ve been my mothers womb for 9 months, actually a little over that. The moment arrived, I was in the warmth of my mother for a brief minute and was separated and separated for good. I never experienced what it’s like to live
And all these are sudden deaths, no one saw them coming. But the conditions leading up to these deaths were not sudden and no, these deaths are not my imagination, they are as real as you and me. The only reason why such sudden deaths do not generate the required attention is because it’s not dramatic enough or tragic enough to evoke a public outcry.
But they are happening day in and day out – it’s almost a silent massacre happening right in front of me but no guilty ever gets punished and I somehow reconcile with the situation as if its the fate of the victim.
So what can I do?
I’m very fortunate that I’m still alive and not victim to any of the above incidents and come to think of the inefficiencies and the callousness of the irresponsible, it could have victimized anyone. In that regard, I’m extremely lucky to just be alive and live my life. Moreover I don’t have to struggle like my father did for his education and his career. He worked hard so I don’t have to do go through the same hardships that he went through.
So this inherently makes it my responsibility to question the wrong doing of some and to fix. There is no one stopping me from doing this and if I do this then I could at least stop some of these sudden deaths from happening or at the least I could try
What to do?
The question i should ask is not “What to do?” but “How to do?”, then I can certainly start doing something about it.
Take the case of farmer suicides in Vidarbha: Last year we helped 21 farm widows with their immediate financial needs which included paying tuition fees to installing irrigation pumps to buying seeds etc. I started the fund raising with my son’s first birthday where I requested everyone to just donate whatever they can and we also celebrated the birthday in a very modest way which helped us cut down on the expenditure. You can read more about it by clicking here.
Here is what the money raised is being used for:
Unfortunately the farmer situation is no different this year. We are in the process of fund raising to help provide immediate financial help for 18 farm widows.
Additionally if one can spend more time and effort, one could start with asking questions, some very fundamental questions
1) why are government hospitals so poorly maintained – what’s lacking?
2) why are there no teachers in government schools?
3) why are roads filled with potholes – where is the tax payer money being spent
But If I just play dead and ignore what happens around me, then I can be the victim one day and all that will be left to do is sympathize for a day, crib and complain about the inefficiencies in the system for a couple of days and after that simply move on – move on until the next victim.
[Image Source: http://ourdayandage.wordpress.com/]
July 20, 2014 in Mindfulness
Forgotten freedom fighters
Forgotten north eastern states
Forgotten victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy
Forgotten national game
Forgotten government schools
Forgotten government hospitals
Forgotten terrorist attacks
Forgotten Jammu Kashmir
Forgotten foot soldiers
Forgotten tribal people
I remember reading about all the above when I was a kid and then I got a bit educated. As years went by I got more educated and eventually i got fully educated and I was certified degree holder. That’s when forgot everything about Kashmir, about freedom fighters, about farmers because I just got educated out of it.
I became a product of the system that was mechanized, industrialized, standardized and that was by and large a one size fits all style of operation. And amidst the exams, assignments, grades, tuition, the completions, the peer pressure, the instructions, my ability to think, to explore, to be challenged, to investigate, to understand just took a heavy toll and I ended being a finished product in an assembly line. As a finished product, I was certified to have certain qualities and also came with an expiry date i.e. 60 years.
And because it was not a natural process of evolution, or as Sir Ken Robinson would put it, education must be an organic process where the conditions are created for the plant to grow using a very natural process. It was quite natural that I didn’t know until much later that I could be sensitive towards others or that I had the ability to solve real problems for real people or that I could express myself freely and not just spit out the answer that I had forced myself to remember for the exams.
Why should education not be about real people, real challenges, real places from the early days of education? Why should I be graded based on how much I could remember and not by how much I actually understood something? Why should a 6th grade student be forced to take tuition for IIT’s, IIM’s ? Why should Arts be looked down upon ? Why should engineers, doctors be the professional courses that are most sought after ? Why can’t education also mean becoming socially responsible, becoming sensitive to the issues around us ?
Many such unanswered questions are out there and yet education continues to be the only mechanized, industrialized manufacturing process which doesn’t care about the demand, it just keeps supplying and that too, at our cost.
July 14, 2014 in Service
This was a good night story I told my daughter.
5 minutes: I was at the port of entry in Mumbai International airport. I was heavily delayed due to an earlier flight and was in a big rush to make it to my connecting flight for my final destination. Also the fact that there was no flight if i missed this one for the next 3 hours made me a bit restless. Right at this moment, a lady walked up to me, with her 2 little kids, and said – “Can you please fill the form for me”. I did it with a bit of hesitation.
But the lady was in a bigger frustration, with her kids, traveling for the first time, not understanding what was written on the form, with no help available and no one offering to help – so I stopped and filled it out. It took about 5 minutes, I had to do it for three of them. She made it to through the port of entry without any issues and since we were the last two to get into the flight, we met again. The kids greeted me with a big smile and the mother breathed a big sigh of relief.
5 dollars: I just got off the subway and was in a rush to catch the next train home. Usually i’m never in a rush, but that day was different. I really wanted to make that train. I saw a man on a wheel chair asking for food on the platform. I gave him a couple of glances, no one responded to him. I walked him down straight into a Burger King. I spent $5 and I got him a burger of his choice along with a drink. I sat him down and left him to enjoy his burger. The moment he got the burger, he made himself comfortable, he put his head down, he grabbed the burger with both his hands and off he went. I left silently.
500 words: This was the first blog that i had ever written, it was about a trip to a school and how the school didn’t even have a roof. The very next day someone contacted me about that blog post asking for more details about the school and how they could help. It was not exactly 500 words but close enough :-). So although my blog had grammatical mistakes, problems with punctuation (still have) and I was an amateur (still am), i kept blogging thinking there would be that one person who can do something even if I fail to do anything.
When its done as one’s responsibility, be it the 5 minutes, $5 or 500 words, it’s all in a days work. It doesn’t feel like doing anything out of the ordinary, but when its done as charity, it does feel like a personal sacrifice.
July 8, 2014 in Corporate Responsibility
How did she know about this?
Given that this was the 8th day of fasting, it was only a matter of time before my daughter asked me why I was doing this. So i decided to tell the story as a bedtime story.
Me: There was a little boy named Gopi who was having a tough time sleeping after a long day. His mother sat next to him and showed him the stars in the night and sang
My daughter: Twinkle Twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are, up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky
Me: Gopi was still not sleeping. His mother said that he has to wake up early in the morning and get ready for school. If he was late, the school bus would not take him around the town (pause)
My daughter: Wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round , round and round all through the town
Me: Gopi said, but it’s winter (Dec 2nd) Amma and i can’t get up early in the morning. Gopi’s mom said, “Don’t worry Gopi, you can wear the sweater which we bought from the man who had the black sheep” (pause)
My daughter: Baba black sheep have you any wool …
Me: Gopi then asked, but Amma, what would I have for breakfast early in the morning. Well, you can have some fresh buns.
My daughter: Hot cross buns, hot cross buns …
Me: And then Gopi went to bed, so did his Mother, Father, Brother and his Grandparents. But they never woke up again.
My daughter: What do you mean?
Me: There was a factory (which makes stuff) near by and it had an accident. All the poisonous gasses leaked and filled up Gopi’s house. Gopi inhaled the gasses and it hurt him a lot. He coughed and vomited and got very sick, so sick that he died. No one in his entire family woke up after that night. His entire family died that night.
My daughter: (Silence – She did not ask me any questions)
Me: Just like Gopi, there were many kids who died and then there were many kids who got very sick. I’m fasting so that more people know about what happened on Dec 2nd-3rd 1984, so we can get more money for the people and they can go to the doctor. Even after so many years, the effects of those poisonous gases and the harm they caused still linger.
My daughter: Then why can’t we all do fasting, there will be 3 more people.
Me: I smiled at her and wished if it were that simple
Now she remembers that Tuesday is the fasting day and she has even started reminding me that I have to fast on Tuesdays.
Join me: Click here to Sign up for the global solidarity fast for Bhopal
About the Bhopal Gas Tragedy:
The Bhopal disaster, also referred to as the Bhopal gas tragedy, was a gas leak incident in India, considered the world’s worst industrial disaster. It occurred on the night of 2–3 December 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. Over 500,000 people were exposed to methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and other chemicals. The toxic substance made its way in and around theshanty towns located near the plant. Estimates vary on the death toll. The official immediate death toll was 2,259. The government of Madhya Pradesh confirmed a total of 3,787 deaths related to the gas release. Others estimate 8,000 died within two weeks and another 8,000 or more have since died from gas-related diseases. A government affidavit in 2006 stated the leak caused 558,125 injuries including 38,478 temporary partial injuries and approximately 3,900 severely and permanently disabling injuries. Read more on Wikipedia