Go and catch a falling star

Go and catch a falling star

Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me where all past years are,
Or who cleft the devil’s foot,
Teach me to hear mermaids singing,
or to keep off envy’s stinging,
And find
what wind
Serves to advance an honest mind.
If thou be’st born to strange sights,
Things invisible to see,
 Ride ten thousand days and nights,
Till age snow white hairs on thee
Thou, when return’st, wilt tell me
All strange wonders that befell thee
And swear
No where
Lives a woman true and fair.
If thou find’st one, let me know,
such a pilgrimage were sweet;
yet do not, I would not go,
Though at next door we might meet;
Though she were true, when you met her,
And last, till you write your letter,
            Yet she
            Will be
False, ere I come, to two, or three.
John Donne’s confidence in the infidelity of women is not surprising. Centuries of literature have reinforced the belief in fickle mindedness of women. Is it surprising that the writers were majorly men? Perhaps not.It is funny how the repetition of make-believes like the apparent disloyalty of women and the courage of men, the curse of the cats and the blessings of the dogs are pandered to mankind. In fact I have recently been very surprised by the stories of cats and the ill-omen they bring to the houses that I have been listening to. Here are some:
* No. 1: Women who keep cats tend to become schizophrenic.
* No.2:  A cat prays for the destruction of his master , a dog for his welfare.
*No.3: Couples who have a pet cat have difficulty in conceiving.
Have you ever been told such stories? Which’s your favorite one?

On to seek or not to seek company…

Parenting is a full time job. I mean you never really grow out of it. Once a parent, always a parent. That is why I pack an empty bag whenever I visit my home, because I know it is going to be filled with goodies mom has stored for me and my daughter, a few earrings, a cute purse, a dress, maybe a bed sheet, something or the other, if nothing then a few coconuts and some fresh vegetables or her home-made pickles.

A colleague of mine tells me how he is terrified of his mom.’She’s strict. If I am not back home by nine, she says I can look for another place to stay! And I am going to be thirty this month. Can you beat that!’

Moms and dads always want to have a say in their children’s lives. They want to know what is happening and what is not, at least enough to answer the questions of inquisitive friends and relatives.

‘So when are you going to be a grand mom?, ‘When is your daughter getting married?’, ‘Is your grand daughter doing well?’, ‘So, your daughter is divorced, it must be difficult right, I mean how do her colleagues treat her?’

‘Not a steady job still?, how does he survive with all that art and nonsense?!’ And so it goes on.

Nosy aunts, uncles, and nosier who-you-don’t-knows want to be informed about your whereabouts…so that it gives them enough masala to top the evening gossip.

Most of us have been through that and some times we tend to shut ourselves out from the nosiness, I mean withdraw into our own safe havens away from prying eyes.

Assuming a hostile demeanor or wearing pride on our sleeves or distancing ourselves from the niceties or just by plugging in the ear phones, we try our best to protect what ever is left of our individuality.

It is not easy, is it? To cut one self off.

Wasn’t it John Donne who said, ‘No man is an island’.

Hmm…We do need others.

It is important to have people around, to be asked about, to be talked to. We then tend to oscillate between the need to be on our own and the need to be around those we hope to call our own.

The perpetual dilemma in life it seems to me, is ‘to talk or not to talk’, ‘ to reach out or not to reach out’. 

One is constantly pulled into the need to be alone and the need to be with others, the social media does hold out a carrot in terms of reaching out… still…

I guess it is for each one to choose, the right proportion of solitude and company one needs. 

Perhaps it is about constantly figuring out the nitty-gritties of living.

Perhaps what is going on in your mind, is what decides where you want to be… in company or in solitude.

Perhaps it is all just fizz and no water and there is no such thing.

Well, let me figure that out!


Lessons from Tshering Tobgay’s successful Tedtalk


I always enjoy listening to Tshering Tobgay even in a continuous loop.

What are the reasons that make his speech so absolutely delightful, so much so that every time I play a part of the speech in the classrooms during the training on Public Speaking, my students always want to listen to the whole of the speech and sometimes even request an encore!

Let me try to decode some elements that makes this speech memorable.

*Be modest, be able to laugh at yourself

For one, the speaker comes without any pretensions and is easily able to make a joke of himself. Notice how he draws the first laughter from the audience within just 30 seconds of the opening of his speech.

Tshering Tobgay draws the attention of the audience to his national dress, ‘Goh’, the privilege of the men in his country to show off their legs even as the women cannot do the same.

The ice is broken, the audience is relaxed and the stage is set for an open engagement. As you watch the video you can literally feel how the mood has already lightened.

Set the context early on in the speech

The Goh was only a pretext for Tshering Tobgay to set the context to a far more weighty issue which he wanted to address, he says’ our national dress is unique, but it is not the only thing unique about our country, our promise to remain carbon neutral is also unique’.

It is clear that now the listener knows what to expect and the speaker has full attention. After all climate change and carbon emissions are pressing issues for the whole world.Remember that audience always likes to know what they are in for well, mostly!

Put your story telling techniques to good use

A clever usage of well-chosen images, narrative, tone and body language all together prepares the audience for the story of Bhutan. After the first minute, the speaker plunges deep into the narrative and begins to tell the story of Bhutan. The speaker assumes a more serious tone and the audience prepares itself to listen more attentively.

Assuming the necessary tonal variations and references to the generosity of the monarchy in his country he emphasizes on how committed Bhutan is to the welfare of its people and explains the concept of ‘Gross National Happiness or GNH’.

Be generous with humor

Even as the message is serious in tone, Tshering Tobgay breaks the monotony with a quick reference to the ‘Goh’, the world’s largest pocket as he calls it. While he eulogizes the king for his farsightedness he does so with a dash of timely humor which saves him from sounding like a sycophant.

Present authentic data

The appeal of the speech is emotional but the speaker does not deviate from the facts which he rattles off with consummate ease and some great poise. Definitely the pictorial evidence of the vanishing glaciers sells the point of the danger of rising carbon emissions buttressed as it is with some alarming statistics.

Create real-time experiences

10 minutes in to the speech, the speaker apologizes for the inconvenience caused by the temperature settings of the AC which he says politely has been manipulated.Surely, the audience is already feeling the heat!

End the speech with a call to action

‘We are not here to tell stories, are we?’ asks the speaker pointedly, directing the members of the audience to meaningful action. He has already enlisted the measures taken by his country to go carbon neutral, nay, carbon negative, and he expects some commitment from the rest of the world. Ending a speech with a call to action, invariably creates a deeper and long lasting impact driving the speech to its very purpose that is meaningful action for a cause.

Overall, this is the kind of speech that I would say should be compulsory for the whole world to listen to because not only does it address one of the most pressing concerns of world today, it does so in a very effective manner.


Watch the amazing speech here!

Feeding Spirituality

Spirituality walked in

clad in saffron

spouting chaste Malayalam

thinking the high thoughts

the lady said, ‘food is ready, do come in’

spirituality walked in

straight head on straighter shoulders

the heavy weight of this world and the next

carried with elan, after great knowledge, what obstacles?

when about to sit for delicious summer food

of mambazha koottan, pachadi, achar, koottu kalan and pappadam

spirituality asked

‘so are you planning to serve both of us together?’

referring to the cab driver thumbing through the newspaper

the hostess replied

‘both of you are hungry

both of you are travelers

what your destinations are

what paths you choose I hardly care

both of you will share the same table

two travelers, one food, one table

one teacher!

Biscuits don’t bite

Coz you have come this far

why don’t you sit for a while

a cup of coffee will not take much time

nor a bite of a biscuit

I offered more in desperation

than in host-liness

if there be such a stuff!

He sat down gingerly

pecking at the biscuit

preening at his watch

now fingering at the gadget

that talked and did much more

I know it all

I have seen enough life

after all I have been in charge of him

for much long than he gives me credit

then he got up as if in hurry

took out the talking machine

and shouted to emptiness

‘Ok, I am coming, right now’

he stood awkwardly

it was his time to go

but I had already opened the door

he looked at me in surprise, nay, shock.

Well,I laughed to myself

I am desperate

yes, but only for good company!

Loneliness sits well with me

biscuits don’t bite nor run

coffee is always inviting me to the table

there is no pretense here just good old life!


I know. I know. I know.

I really do.

I care. I care. I care.

I do honestly.

I want to. I just want to. I do.

I mean every word I say. I do. I did. I always did.

I mean. I actually mean. I mean it, really.

I love. I love. I love.

I just do. I really do. I sincerely do.


You see

Oh! you don’t see

I can’t even if I want. I really can’t.

You can’t get it. You really can’t. You could never get it.

I knew you would never see. You couldn’t see. You never did.

So, I never said. I never did. I never ……

You see

oh! you don’t see.

You can never see…

Ah! whatever!!!

His story

I was a weak student, mam. In school I was made to sit in the first bench. I was sitting next to a bright student and the teacher always discriminated against me.

I felt bad. I felt discriminated against. I grew up feeling inadequate and not smart.

Today when I stand here and I am able to speak. I feel good.

He spoke in a soft searching tone and when he stopped speaking, the class applauded his honesty in sharing.

  • Sorrows diminish in sharing. Share, speak up, spread the word. You will meet a kindred soul somewhere.


Jithu had lost all his confidence.

He is a special child, you see, he needs a little more love and affection than others and a lot of patience.

When the teacher constantly filled his sheets with red corrections and wrote big zeroes on his answer script, the brightness in his eyes dimmed, he looked tormented as if he had failed somehow.

I was afraid of antagonizing the teacher and the management who always welcomed me with open arms, so I kept quiet initially. But soon, I broached up some courage and approached them with my problem.

The management came up with a solution, they said,’Why don’t you prepare a question paper based on what you teach your son? Give it to us and we will print it out without letting him know. He will be tested on this.’ I was thrilled. I knew Jithu will now turn around. So we both worked really hard.

So this exam was different. I had set the paper and we had done a lot of practice. Infact, Jithu rocked it. He is slowly regaining his confidence. I am glad I spoke to the teachers. Soon I will join his school and I will be able to support him and others like him.

These are the words of a cancer survivor, a young mother of a special child, most importantly a feisty woman who has faced the challenges of life boldly. We laughed over a few jokes and she said, ‘when can we meet?’ ‘Soon,’ said I. Friendships like these need to be nurtured. We both have agreed to do just that.

  • Express. Express. Express. Articulate your problem, more often than not the other person is willing to help.


Where is the facility for sports? Who cares for young people like me who love to play? Why are we always asked to study?

Who do I talk to? No body understands me. The young man vent out his frustration.

Life is tough, he said sagely. However, I have learned to provide for myself and my cricket coaching, isn’t that amazing?

I hope my father feels proud of my achievements and witnesses my success. I am working towards it.

  • Keep up the hope and keep up the efforts. The road to success is carved by steady and consistent hard work.


I am not able to go out with them. Nor can I spend money that easily. I have a lot of limitations. Sometimes my academics also suffers, but when they stopped talking to me, it hurt me a lot, the young boy spoke softly. Friendships matter a lot to me.

I guess it is time to look for new friends. I hope there are others who I can get along with.

He kept on talking and then he said, I have started writing these days and it is helping me.

It is ok. I can live with it. I am strong.

  • Move away from negativity. Choose people and places which are positive. Give and get courage.


Different people, different settings, yet similar stories of disillusion, disenchantment and the effort to live on boldly.

A little love, care and understanding towards fellow human beings will make this world a better place for all of us.

Towards a better tomorrow!

Towards more pleasant stories, his and hers!

Towards more sharing and more listening!