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Sunday, 19 June 2016

Super Saturday


There are times when life brings incredible experiences your way. For me, yesterday was one of those.

Just two days before, I had received a phone call from the Principal of a small school. One of her mentors had suggested she invite me to speak at an event the school was hosting. So, although it was at such short notice, would I please consider making it to the occasion? Gamely, I agreed and we exchanged a few emails to work out the details.

Nothing had prepared me though for what I saw when I reached the school.

A portion of the road outside the school had been cordoned off. About a 100 men and women were seated there. Lots of kids were running around. Some people were standing by the sides and several others peeping out of the houses on either side of that road to know what the hullabaloo was all about. A sound system was set up towards the front of this assembly, with a lamp ready to be lighted and a board display of some charts setting the tone for the event – Father’s Day celebrations. 

 

I felt my heart sink. In this type of a setting, how would I get these people to not just fill out a questionnaire but also pay attention as I handed out tips on being a ‘Fantastic Father’? Clearly, I would have to speak more in Kannada than in English. The Principal had already indicated that I came highly recommended by her mentor as someone who spoke extremely well in a way that touches people. That impression had been formed during a previous talk I gave in the solemn environs of a seminar hall with a snazzy PowerPoint presentation. I wasn’t sure if it would sustain in this festive atmosphere and an audience that seemed more jovial than introspective. 



As we lighted the lamp to inaugurate the event and my mind focused on the invocation to Ganesha, I was hit by a humbling realization. Carried away by my astonishment when I reached the venue, I had lost sight of the truth I remind myself of before every event – that it is He who is speaking through me and saying that which is most essential for the listeners. Nothing is impossible for the Omnipotent One and all I had to do – like always – was surrender to His will.

The Principal then introduced me and we got things started by handing out the questionnaire (and pencils too, for those who needed them) and giving instructions about filling it out. I then went on to speak about how fathers need to be role models for their kids and gave out some parenting advice. 


The event was going to continue with games for the dads and would take much longer to complete. I had taken permission from college to attend this event, so I said my goodbyes and left. The Principal and a few of the other teachers said my talk had covered all they wanted to convey to the parents. As I wound my way through the audience, a few parents came up to thank me for having opened their eyes to some particular aspect; others said that they would do their best to adopt a certain tip.

This event made a strong impression on me for several reasons besides my personal experience. A school that is still not big enough to have its own auditorium did not let its enthusiasm to be confined by practical considerations; instead, it went on to achieve its dreams by some out-of-the-box solutions for hosting the event.

The Principal had noticed that most of the fathers usually pass on the school responsibilities to their wives and strongly wanted this trend to change. So she had decided to celebrate Fathers Day to drive home the fact that they must be more involved in their childrens’ upbringing.

The audience was largely made up of what we call “aspirational India” – a class that is in the process of rising up the social and financial ladder. For me, the emotions they expressed seemed more genuine than those of social high fliers who make polite noises about your wonderful presentation.

Perhaps the biggest learning of the day was that when determination meets Divine will, nothing is impossible.

7 comments:

  1. Very interesting, everything is a puzzle in parenting today... I'd say the most fancy, precise and intellectually stimulating game is parenting today... this of course with mixed emotions and ambiguous parenting styles, inconsistent lifestyle practices, desires and aspirations... no amount of tips will ever be enough... what's refreshing to know is that people care after all to lend ears and you might just as well have touched a few minds and may be even stimulated some lasting transition in them... so much for the will of God... and the crazy person that you are... who would manage to pull all the strings from everywhere and put up sometime amazing!!!

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    1. Thank you Rajashree for this wonderful comment that perfectly sums up the parenting process. And crazy person...hmmmn..chitti pati ippadiyaa soluvaa?? ;-) but then..it takes one to recognize another...

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  2. Dear Anu
    Thrilled by your writing as it made me to go back to my great school days and teachers in various villages, where I had my childhood and grew. Salutations to my grand father, father and mamas who were and are dedicated gurus, who conquered the hearts of everyone, including students, by their wealth of knowledge, skill and devotion, despite of lack of facilities and infrastructure during those days. It is an eternal truth that Scholarship and kingship can never be equated. A king is respected in his own kingdom whereas a scholar is respected everywhere. These are the very lines my grand father taught , which rules my heart even now. I repeat the great subhashitha, and if there are any errors, vidwans in my family, please bear with me and correct me.
    विद्वत्वं च नृपत्वं च नैव तुल्यं कदाचन ।
    स्वदेशे पूज्यते राजा विद्वान् सर्वत्र पूज्यते ॥

    Galileo Galilei used to say that "You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself." Your venture, as well as school's, to make fathers realise the truth that they are equally responsible for caring and guiding of their siblings is a welcome step. In these modern times, where both parents, father and mother, are engaged in their busy careers, it's proper to share responsibility of caring for their child too.
    I always felt that a student don't remember what we try to teach them, but remember what we are. In this regard, my father was always a role model. Always a mediocre teacher tells and a good teacher explains but a superior teacher demonstrates. More than all these, it is the great teacher who inspires everyone who come across.
    On seeing my Ayya mama's dedication and enthusiasm, I am left with no words to explain except to reiterate the great words of kahlil Gibran,"The teacher who walks in the shadow of the temple, among his followers, gives not of his wisdom but rather of his faith and his lovingness.If he is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind." Taking one towards self-realisation is the ultimate goal of the great gurus.

    Though born in the great family of teachers,I defied the natural instincts, started my career as a Revenue gatherer for my Nation. I always felt something is missing in my journey.
    Poet Shel Silverstein's lines in 'TheVoice' were haunting me.
    "There is a voice inside of you
    That whispers all day long."
    "I feel this is right for me,
    I know that this is wrong.
    No teacher, preacher, parent, friend
    Or wise man can decide
    What's right for you--just listen to
    The voice that speaks inside." I followed my inner voice and jumped in to the mahasagara, without any preparations and backpack. Now coming back to my original task of teaching, I feel contented and satisfied.

    I recollect the famous words of the great kautilya, my manasa guru, who inspires and guides me to deliberate on various topics pertaining to economy, taxation and related laws.
    चैतन्यः शाश्वतःशान्तो व्योमातीतो निरंजनः ।
    बिन्दुनाद कलातीतः तस्मै श्रीगुरवे नमः ॥
    Salutation to the noble Guru,who is the ever effulgent, eternal, peaceful, beyond space, immaculate, and beyond the manifest and unmanifest.

    Thank you for providing an occasion to share my voice. My sunday has become super saturday, as I could go back into yesterday and history. Wishing you all the success in all your endevours.

    Madihalli Ramanna

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    1. Thank you so much Ramanna for your wishes. And what an expressive way to comment in such depth on your memories that hold so much meaning for all of us too..see, my friend is also appreciating your writing..

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  3. Really nice and truthful Anu,that's why your writing touches our heart

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    1. Thank you Shreyas..the process also requires you to keep your heart open enough to be touched...so you play an important role, too.

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  4. Thumbs up to Shri Madihalli Kondandaram Sir for sharing his feelings so well.

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