Getting ready for Exams

The academic year winds itself up slowly with the string of months coming to a close. One might wonder why so early this post when there are still more than a couple of months for the final exams? As they say time and tide doesn’t wait for anyone, I do not want anyone to be left stranded high and dry and miss the career boat. Again why the career boat you might ask. All these examinations that you take now count when you start your career. The scores will be taken as your credit rating when it comes to your future interviews as one steps into the job arena just like as banks check up your rating when applying for loans.

But this is not exactly the topic that I want to delve upon here though I would like you to keep the above in memory from where it can inspire you to prepare well for your examinations.

We mostly or some of us have in us those hidden phobias about certain subjects or in fact all if you acted like the grasshopper and not the toiling ant. These fears or demons come out of their hiding during the examination time and play havoc with your mental and physical health.

While some start having stomach pains and headaches some have a nauseated feeling, some get paralysed with fear while in some hands and legs tremble. All this could be pinpointed to one thing that is lack of preparation.

In the months of March or April, the summer also make its much more difficult to think with a cool mind. So these winter months must be put to good use so that you can enjoy the monsoon along with your results. Do remember that they not only cheer you up but also your parents and teachers who would be happy about your performance.

So the question comes, how do we prepare mentally and physically for the examinations in the near future. Like the rising Sun on the horizon, it will be in no time that the examination days shines upon you. Whether you shine and are prepared for it depends on how good you put your time to use.

You have to eat and drink well to take upon the burden that awaits you as mental work is almost equivalent to physical activity and you may soon get exhausted. See that parents keep your food rations and fruit juices where you can reach them. And now to the mental frame that you need to get into. Just like in history think of one of those warriors who went out to battle complete with armor and head gear and a well trained and disciplined army.

The Armor that you wear to your examination is your confidence and attitude. Don’t let the armor have any chinks or weak points in it. The head gear is your calm and composed mind that you keep while writing the exam. But then the armor and headgear will be of little use if you don’t have a disciplined army with you. The army that comes with you is the amount of well charted preparation that you have done all these months. More the preparation more is the count of your army personnel from whom you can get the timely required support.

That in short sums up your battle preparedness or rather exam readiness. Once you are equipped with all these then knocking each question down or giving a fitting answer to each question that blocks your way to success is sheer fun.

If you can assimilate all these in you then you will be battle ready and rarin to go and perform at your best and beat the demons inside you and those that await you as questions in your examination paper…Good Luck.

Tailored Doctors

Fast doesn’t always mean good quality.

Friendly and talkative may mean business not actual warmth.

Good jobs take time and effort.

Never judge a person without knowing the facts.

Here is a story that illustrates the above.

In the 70’s, Ramnath was a tailor in the dockyard area where the poor dock workers lived. It had been some years that he had set shop there. A lot of people flocked to him. He use to deliver very fast and that was one reason why people went to him. We all have this habit of proscratinating for months to stich a shirt or a skirt but once we buy the fabric, we want the tailor to deliver in a day or two.

Jaikanth was another tailor in the same locality, their shops being a 100 metres away. Most of the time Jaikanth would get those orders which Ramnath could not accommodate or those small maintenance jobs. Jaikanth did take quite some time in fact at least a week to fulfil a single order. He was very methodical and systematic. On the 5th day he would call for a trial and after having satisfied himself and the small requests from his clients, the delivery on the 8th day was always confirmed.

Ramnath on the other hand talked a lot and kept his customers engaged. Sometimes he wouldn’t have started on your work until you went to him. He would make you sit for an hour, take up your work and make amends so that you would get it the next day. His was a LIFO policy. Some liked his talking about day to day politics of the state or about happenings in the locality. He would even go to the extent of prescribing allopathic medicines. Like as if you told him about your allergic wheezing he would ask to buy a particular inhaler. If it was dust allergy he would suggest the client to go and take allergy tablets. In fact he became so popular with such remedies that people would visit him for such consultancy. Some of them got relief from what he advised and so he became the medical consultant who was ready with tailored remedies.

Jaikanth spoke little and was always engrossed in work. Some of his neighbors observed that he appeared to have worked as an attender with a homeopathic doctor for quite some years before he switched to the stitching line though they were not sure about this. Whenever someone appeared sick, he did make inquiries and gave some potions to the poor who visited him with their small maintenance work. So whether it was a common fever or a sore throat or a stomach upset, his remedies also worked. Slow and steadily his patients too grew.

There was one doctor in the locality who charged for every visit which the poor could ill afford. So unless it was serious, they either went to Ramnath for fast relief or Jaikanth if they knew him. Slowly these two were the talk of the locality and people often wondered what would have happened if these two were not there to help them with their ailments.

Slowly they started to compare one with the other. Ramnath was good at heart but he had a sycophantic fan following. His such patients always rooted that he was the better of the two in fact better than the doctor who practiced. In fact the medical shops also lent their support to Ramnath since he used to prescribe more than one tonic or an ointment or tablet as time passed.

As rumors and unspoken words were bartered by the unscrupulous fans Ramnath started to hate and avoid Jaikanth who being an introvert was ignorant of all that was happening. One day it so happened that Ramnath was down with food poisoning and it being a Sunday the medical shop in the locality was closed. The doctor too was out of station and therefore Ramnath’s wife had to rush to Jaikanth who was resting at home. He gave a patient hearing to what she had to tell and then gave her a medicine and did not take the money she offered saying I am not a doctor. She was however accompanied by some of the fans who heard what Jaikanth had said.

The medicine worked wonders and Ramnath was cured soon. He didn’t like her praising the tailor or his medicine. He however kept quiet. Day by day slowly envy took form in his mind. After that incident Jai was well known and Ramnath was snubbed. There was another incident because of which Ramnath thought that Jai was eating into his territory. He and Jai had bagged an order of 100 shirts each from a garments exporter. While Jaikanth got further orders, Ramnath’s batch got rejected as he didn’t think of putting the collar button, the same way he did for his customers.

It was then he spoke to Sam the local sub inspector about Jaikanth the tailor who doubled as a quack. After some stealth inquiries it was clear to Sam that Jai was a practising doctor and it was left for him to check his credentials. But Sam also failed in his duty to confront the tailor upfront and question him. He was so convinced about the fake doctor bundled up in the tailor that he took further steps that would lead to the imminent arrest.

The Dday dawned and unknown to Jaikanth a force of officials drove down with police escort accompanied by a small crowd that had a mix of followers of both tailors. Though some were surprised that the tailor was fooling them all this time a few others who were convinced in the goodness of Jaikanth prayed for his wellbeing.

Jaikanth look a bit tired when the battery of officials fired a volley of questions at him to which he had tailored answers. Ramnath, who with his chums and standing behind the questioning officials was now getting impatient. He wanted Jaikant to be arrested instead of wasting more time. The officials went walking with Jaikanth to his nearby house followed by the inquisitive crowd. He showed his qualifications and his registration which was convincing enough for the officials to leave him in peace.

When the law enforcement agency officers got into their vehicles without taking him it slowly trickled as enlightenment to the poor folk that the soft spoken tailor who also treated them was indeed a doctor. There was no doubt that the trap set for him only proved to benefit Jaikanth many fold. It was a matter of time to see the poor and ill flocking to the new avatar of the disguised doctor in a tailor’s clothes.

A helping hand

For those who have already read Reach to the Poor, Pravin and Raju are familiar characters now.

It so happened that during one of their recent visits to the town, to augment supplies to their shops, both had the feeling that it was time they visited a hair cutting salon.

They always lodged themselves at the Hazari lodge which was slightly away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It was a Sunday morning and after a quick breakfast at a nearby dhaba, they walked in search of a salon. A few minutes into their walk they saw a ruffian at a distance arguing with a wayside hawker woman. It appeared that he was threatening her to part with some amount of money as weekly hafta to shore up his fortunes. The misfortunate woman with no one to seek help, it being a Sunday morning with most of the shops being closed, parted with her earnings.

The money collected, the ruffian parted soon from the place. Our silent observers at a distance, walked upto her, heard her out. They took some time to console her, helped her with some money saying they would teach a lesson soon, to the so called terror whenever an opportunity presented itself.

On their look out for a salon, they came upon a few other hapless hawkers who too had to bear the brunt of the so called Gajya the illegal tax collector.

A poor man was pulling his cart of ice slabs at a distance. They hurried upto him to make inquiries. Despite the heat and a sweating brow, he was kind to stop and help them with directions and also offered water laced with few pieces of ice if they wanted. As was their nature, they politely declined the warm offer of cold water and hurried to the salon.

The road to the salon was a bit bad and they had to take care not to fall into the many inviting potholes. As they reached the shop they could see one hair dresser and two persons waiting on one of the two worn out benches. They seated themselves on the other one and picked up a conversation as was their wont.

The hair dresser also lent his ears and the topic turned to Gajya. Most of the shopkeeperd feared him, said Jayanti Lal who was finishing his creative work on one of his customers and at the same time eager to be friendly with the visitors he asked Raju as to what they did. Pravin with a laugh said, “I burden those who come to me and he sees to it that they don’t die” . Hearing this Raju also laughed in big tones.

This is a poor locality, Sir and we do not have that much earnings to share with anyone said Jayanti Lal with a confused look. Offlate Gajya has been asking for more which we cannot give and that gives rise to skirmishes with him. I don’t mind giving him a free hair cut and a shave if he demands and he paused, maybe that offer I can give to you too. One of the bench customers, Javed looked with fear about himself and in a whisper told Pravin… He carries a knife with him, they say. Oh no, talk of the devil and here he comes….

Gajya’s frame came into view to all eyes who looked his way. With a Pepsi bottle in hand, he was idling his way to the salon. At the same time through another lane, came a ice cart pulled by an old man. One of the cart’s wheels got stuck in one of the pot holes and he asked for Gajya to help him out not knowing who he was. All eyes were riveted on Gajya as to how he would react. The irritated ruffian slapped the man and continued walking towards the salon.

Javed bhai whose turn was next whispered.. Now it is his turn, we will have to wait till he gets his hair cut and beard shaved. We, the timid always have to wait.

Raju’s blood was boiling. He would strike this bully as soon as he was within striking distance come what may. Pravin sensed Raju’s mind and decided to teach a lesson in their own way. Touching Raju he said a word which only Raju could understand. “Big boy”. Many a childhood scenes of skirmishes flashed in Raju’s mind. He smiled briefly. It was time to act.

Raju got up and stood near the dressing chair. The current customer had got down. Javed bhai afraid of annoying Raju whimpered, ” but it was my turn”.. Raju looked at him with a fearful avatar and said “Did You say something” . As if taking up the cue Pravin rose from the bench remarked, “Yes it was Javed bhai’s turn. How can you..” . Raju just laughed.

Helllooo, blared out Gajya. “Everyone will have to wait because it is my turn”. Pravin not even showing that he had seen or heard Gajya rushed to Raju and chided Raju for breaking the queue. Raju told Pravin to keep himself outside of this and tried to get himself seated. To the onlookers, it seemed Raju and Pravin were strangers or not friendly to each other.

Gajya was finding it a bit difficult to make his presence felt. Today it seemed these persons were deaf and blind at least these two strangers as others were atleast passing him a glance. Maybe they didn’t know his credentials. So he shouted at Raju to get out of the chair. Pravin meanwhile was trying to pull Raju out of the chair to the consternation of Jayanthi Lal. Today it seemed he had to deal with not one but three thugs who might pull the rug from his feet if he didn’t act in time.

Pravin nearly managed to drag Raju out of the chair ignoring the pleas from the hair dresser and good old Javed bhai who had now withdrawn his case and awarded his turn to Raju. But Pravin would not let go of Raju and pulled him out. Gajya came and tried to sit in the vacant seat or so he thought but Raju on his way down pulled him down with him. Now Pravin asked Javed bhai to seat himself to which the poor Javed bhai said he could wait. Now Pravin looked so angry that Javed brother got into the chair.

This was too much for Gajya who got up and was trying to work himself into a rage but now Pravin took hold of him and gave him such a resounding slap that his face turned outside to the lane where his eyes met the poor fellow still grappling with his cart. How in a few minutes the equation has changed, he thought. “No, I will not take this beating quietly” he loudly said. You will have to pay for this and he pulled the infamous knife from his pant.

The gleaming wicked looking weapon was well sheathed and in Gajya’s hand could work wonders. It was not without its labor that its master had become himself respected out of fear. Slowly as everybody stood frozen, came the knife at Pravin but the plunge was arrested with a timely kick to the knee from Raju.

What followed was a brawl. Gajya didn’t know from where all the blows came, so thick and hard that he cowered before the lot. A few passer-by fellows also joined in the revelry. It seemed to everybody that Raju was a much bigger thug than the punitive Gajya. All the cash on Gajya was taken out by Raju and he was unceremoniously kicked and dumped out of the shop. The knife now in safe hands, Gajya had to run out for his life.

Raju bhai please be seated said all in one voice to which he laughed and walked out with a smiling Pravin. On the way they treated themselves to cold water offered by the old gentleman after having helped his cart out of the gaping pot hole. When they looked back at the salon, they could see Jayanti Lal and Javed bhai saluting. On their way back they parted with the money to those few hawkers who had lost their money earlier. “A visit to the salon can wait, Big boy” said Pravin as they walked hand in hand back to their lodge.

Pondering ponds

Once upon a time in a pond lived many fish. During summer they used to live in fear of the storks and the thought of the pond running dry. Then came the monsoon and they lost their fears and enjoyed their stay. A group of fish led by their young leader was not happy though. This way of living in fear did not appeal to him. They wanted to explore new ponds if there might be any, in the near vicinity.

So during the next rains when the pond overflowed, this group led by their leader decided to venture out. It was decided that the leader would lead while others would follow in an arrow formation one behind the other so that they could retrace in case if they did not meet new ponds. All agreed and one day they forged ahead through shallow waters. They met many a puddle on their way. Many of his followers afraid and tired of the long journey resigned themselves to small pools on the way. The leader however not aware of the state of his followers went ahead through very shallow waters living dangerously. It seemed the land was running dry wherever he went. That is when he looked back only to find he was alone. He swam back but there was no lead to help him. It was getting difficult for him as he was getting tired. Still he swam forward following his gut feel and found hitting a slope again. It is the end he thought.

His idiotic followers did not heed him. There was a small puddle. He took some rest there. Evening was fast approaching. That is when he thought of his elders back in his home pond who had advised him not to venture out but had also told him that if he still needed to go, to try resting and noting the puddles and small pools as a backup on the way. That night it rained again and he was so happy.

The next day he went by the flow of water and he chanced to land in a different pond. After that followed dry days. Most of his followers died in the small puddles and pools thinking that to be their final destination. With his experience and lessons learnt he transformed himself into an elder and lived the rest of his days giving advice to the youth at his pond.

Envy

Why should you bother about him?

When someone whom you rejected

Approaches him in hope for help?

Why do you bring fear upon them

Using your clout in forsaking him?

And when that too doesn’t work

Why do you self grieve

When they shun you for him?

You, who thought were all powerful

To keep all away from dear him

Who was silent all this while

Knowing your intentions though

Emerged more powerful than you.

Envy is a self afflicting curse

Throw the serpent off before

It engulfs you and your thoughts…

Enjoy your present

The past has gone away

The future yet to come

Why not enjoy the present

Gifted to you by the divine.

Just as the moon wanes away

And the Sun sets on the way

Enjoy what is left of the day

Gifted to you by the divine.

Money may come and go

Health might oscillate a bit

Why not enjoy what you have

And let worries be cast away.

Story of a Ruin

Hindu temple, Ubud, Bali
Pura Temple, Bali

On the banks of a winding river
covered by shade giving trees
stood an old temple now a ruin
one day, was I mighty surprised
to see myself walking towards it?

The glaze from the noon fiery sun
as it struck many majestic pillars
at first blinded me; I could see
a deity of a goddess unattended.

Offering my salutations to her
I looked around to spot anyone
who would come this desolate way
but alas, no one seemed to exist
except me, in these lost quarters.

I walked the once trodden steps
when having heard a sharp noise
I turned around, to my wonder
the old sanctum door now shut
who shut that door, I wondered.

Around the farther side were
trees plenty next to a cool pond
with flowers growing amidst it
my eyes spied in the shade of trees
a monkey, a squirrel eyeing in awe.

The breeze and the fruits in bounty
took me to a dream of bygone days
I dreamt of that place back in time
how festivities rocked the still ground
where people flocked lost in joy.

The temple fair with pristine glory
attracted one and all, near and afar
a visitor in me now in different attire
there I saw a beautiful girl standing
at the steps of the majestic temple.

Was she beautiful, was she radiant
was something about her charm
observing all who were lost in fun
who she was, so bright as the sun
my mind at sea, churned thoughts.

I climbed the lovely temple steps
devotees praying to the goddess
somehow the glow on the deity
could very relate to that on the girl
one in divine, one in human form.

Casual inquiries it was made known
she was the child of the temple priest
a devotee who cared for nothing
engrossed in the service of his folk
worship a mother who was his child.

I circled with the crowd at every turn
her radiant smile, the mighty holy
doubts cleared with the compassion
she bestowed on us with her love
a mother pleased at her children.

At a loss, keep the discovery to myself
do I make it known, had I the courage
should I approach her I wondered
would she listen, as others her age
a woman, she of a countless age.

One day, she was playing with kids
getting close towards the little ones
when she sensed my approach,
the all knowing smile asking
was I attracted to her these days.

With courage, I went near divine her
while the kids not at close quarters
asking her, was it true, I had sensed
she the divine in human form said
keep it to you, which I did this time.

Days were spent meeting and asking
had she powers she could exercise
could she keep the village blessed
she would wait for them to pass a test
then, would decide to be a part of it.

Months passed by, days of joy to me,
one day, the priest’s daughter fell sick
ailments added to her father’s plight
one said of a physician with the king
might help her to tide over her state.

A journey to the palace was too far
to ask for a cure might invite wrath
a lad I was, to carry the message
private to the medic, to respond to
a person glowing, despite her pain.

I went to the court and with difficulty
manage to get his consent, for the call
but he asked a fee, which I doubted
any one, of the village could afford
but they could have tried and helped.

With sad tidings, I got the message
no one cared to help the priest
who did selfless service for them
helped bring blessings from Her
just as She had blessed him with Her.

Chiefs and landlords refused to help
in kind or in money, left him sad
the priest died, broke, just as he was
was this test you told of, she smiled
she was to pass, with me by her side.

Rain clouded to the delight of all
but my plight, no one could gauge
I lost her that night, hands in mine
radiant as ever, loving eyes upon me
in torrents, it poured from the sky.

The river nearby rose in anger
submerged all with its people
waves climbed the forsaken temple
they also washed away our lost selves
I must be glad to part with my body.

It all came back, I was driven here
a place where I loved a girl of glory
a divine Odyssey it got me here
left to reminisce the story of a ruin
would She come again for me…

If you liked reading this, hope you enjoy the sequel that continues as a story inĀ Yajnavalkya