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Aab knows what loneliness is. He has not only experienced it, he has seen it written in bold capital letters on people's faces - people who laugh, dress up well, mix freely, and communicate with ease. Because when he looks at faces, he does not stop at the surface. His eyes go deeper into the mind, and there he sees a completely different picture. Aab knows that people are like the theater stage, Under the bright spotlights, with full make- up and rehearsed lines, there is glamor, attraction, thrills and laughter. Look just a little behind the edge of the stage4 - and there is the ugly side of unkempt faces and irregular material, coupled with minds that show anxiety and maybe even frustration. Yet, it is these minds that make the show entertaining for others.

So are the lonely people. They are the ones who make life better for others to enjoy the show called life. But then, Aab is disturbed that anyone in this world should actually be lonely. There are people suffering from Living Together Loneliness, having relatives, family and friends all around them, but mentally cut-off. There are those who are more lonely in crowds than they are when they are alone.

Great spiritual leaders talk about overcoming loneliness. They show the path to merge with the Creator, thus surrendering your very being and becoming one with the Universe. Aab is a very small, ordinary and unenlightened person. He can feel one with a astray dog, with a row of ants, with a paper boat flowing with rain water - but not beyond that. The funny thing is that these very beings, according to Aab, can take away loneliness. But some of 7us doggedly hang on to our individuality, isolating ourselves from so many wonderful things around us. He wants to help them. Some listen to him, some don't. Some listen and forget; some do change and enjoy their newfound, warmth.

For those of us who have grown up so much that we have forgotten this childhood story, let me remind you once again:

There was a king who was very proud and arrogant. A thief took advantage of his ego and told him that he could make coat of gold that would be the most beautiful one on earth. The catch, he said, was that only intelligent people would be able to see the coat, and fools would not be able to. The thief took a lot of gold from the king and pretended to spin, cut and stitch it. On the appointed day the king was "fitted" with the non -existent coat, and went out in a grand procession through his city. No one wanted to be labeled as fool, so they all pretended to see the coat, and kept praising it. Until ... a small boy looked at the king and announced loudly that the king was not wearing anything! Only then did it dawn on the egoistic king and his entire populace that they were indeed made fools by the thief.

Do we succumb to such thieves? Before you vehemently deny it, give a thought to the following: we believe our politicians and repeatedly keep voting them to power even though they only serve their own interests at our costs. We get taken in by "get rich quick" schemes, or by "upto 80% discount"sales. We are willing partners in spreading gossip, even when there is no truth in it. We believe people who blatantly praise themselves, provided they do it in a subtle way. We succumb to the manipulations of those who appease our ego.

It is said that if a lie is repeated a sufficient number of times by a sufficient number of people, it becomes a truth. In the fields of religion, politics, social life, commerce, family, education, sports, there are innumerable people willing to spread untruths- because they know that there are always takers.

If we wish to make our life a journey that we will be able to look back upon proudly, we need to start using our judgement and wisdom (and I can assure you that the Creator has doled out enough of it to each and every one of us) Let us learn to differentiate between fact, fiction and perception. Perception is what "appears" to be the truth, sometimes for a simple a reason as- someone has said so.

Being assertive is using your judgement may not make you very successful or a great leader in today's world. But, it will help you to go to bed every night with a complete sense of fulfillment and satisfaction

Happy dreams!

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. - Havelock Ellis
LET GO OF YOUR PAST, 6-8 Jan 2012, Residential Camp, Manthan, Bangalore
To live life fully, to move smoothly towards the future, we should get rid of any baggage of the past deeply embedded in our minds or our subconscious. Whatever has happened to us in the past, right from childhood, affects how we chart our life.
In two enjoyable fun-days, 6 pm Fri 6th to 4 pm Sun 8th Jan 12, at Manthan, learn how to LET GO OF YOUR PAST.
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Let go of your past
Credit: Nasrul Ekram, CC-By-SA-2.0,

Use your good memories as your strength to move on to the future

Is there a single reader of this piece who can say that life has brought only happiness and pleasure, and nothing else? I would love to meet such a person. For all the rest of us, life has obviously been a bouquet of flowers and thorns, plants and weeds, summers and winters, joys and sorrows. As you read these lines, I am communicating with you, but I do not know if you are in your summer or winter, or whether there are thunderclouds disturbing your life. I cannot fathom whether there is a lull after a storm, or whether the rainbow is shining bright.

What I do know is that like me, you obviously have a mind full of memories. Memories of days that will never come back, of a period that is gone forever and over which you have no control. At the same time you are painfully aware that you had many a time given the best of yourself and perhaps did not get back the best. Peeping from behind the dark clouds could be nostalgia about the times when you got more than what you had expected.

Be that as it may, you can cherish each of your memories and preserve them as your very own. They are your property and your assets; no one can ever take them away from you. There may have been some very good days shared with some loved ones who are no longer near you, but the memories of those days will remain with you forever if you preserve and look after them.

Memories of love - cherish and share this treasure

Good memories help you make life beautiful
Credit: Alex Bellink, CC-By-SA-2.0,

Some relationships may be dead or comatose, but the love in your heart may be as strong as ever. That love is a good source of warmth to you, and it can be shared with so many others - look around and you will find the 'others' who are deserving but neglected. If you learn to value and cherish this treasure of love, you can make life beautiful regardless of what challenges it throws at you in future.

Make a conscious effort to be with your good memories - don't run away from them just because they came to an end. And using them as your strength, move on to the future, building up your life, both professional and personal. With this thought in mind, let us cherish the connectivity that you and I share, through this website and the years that we have known each other.

Every few days we are watching some drama unfold in the name of religion, Terrorism, suspicion and hatred raise their ugly head with irritating regularity. I am reminded of the proverb "we have enough religion in us to hate, but not enough to love."

Religion is a means of establishing out link with the warmth of knowing that we are loved and cared for. Yet we find the tussle of "my religion vs yours" everywhere. It amazes me to see how God is being used as a weapon to threaten, destroy and scare people.

As concerned adults, let us do our little bit to create harmony. I have found many people benefiting immensely from reinforcement of their faith - and believe me, I have found no difference whether the faith was in Parmeshwar, Christ, Allah, Ahura Mazda or Vahe-guru. We know that humans can at times be very callous and insensitive. To one who thinks he is rejected by all around him, his last friend confidante and support is the Almighty he gets unconditional love and acceptance from. As they say in Hindi "jiska koi nahin, uska to khuda hai, yaro". It makes a bit of effort to love someone who is not like you, who is not only different but perhaps difficult too. But then , loving someone who is not lovable is true love.

Let us use this strong tool to build better relationships and a more harmonious little world around us. We cannot change others, but we can set an example and see how our influence can make others introspect.

- Ali

Think of the last time that you felt lonely. No one to talk to, no one who would genuinely understand your feeling. Many friends, relatives, but no one you can quietly relate to that particular day.

It looked like the whole world is busy in the rat race, and somewhere along the line, you have been pushed out, and into a ditch. What did you do at that time? Tried to pray, or listen to music? May be you tried to involve yourself so deeply in work that you would not have time to feel the pain of loneliness. Maybe you even made one last desperate attempt to reach out to a friend, only to find that he or she is too busy to be with you at that moment.

There is a way out, one that we seldom try out. Instead of trying to fill up the vacuum of your loneliness, try fill up someone else's vacuum. Are you even aware at any time how many people around you are feeling isolated and left out? And more interestingly, do you know that filling their vacuum will help you feel un-lonely? It is true.

Recently I was browsing through a book shop (I am a book-oholic and can never resist that temptation), and I found a series of small books that spoke about how one can heal oneself by being good to oneself. On an impulse I picked up half a dozen different titles in the series (I can't stop with one or two pegs!) The small packet was lying around for a few days till one night when I was not very sleepy but too tired to do any "work" I looked at the phone but somehow could not think of anyone I would like to call up.

I started thumbing through one of those books. My mind went to a dear friend who is going through a lean patch, and I started adding my comments on a few pages that had touching quotes. Before I knew it I had expressed a lot of my love and affection to that friend, and I promptly sent the book across the next day. I was no longer feeling lonely that night not the subsequent nights!

It actually works. Instead of focusing on trying to reduce your loneliness, try to fill in for someone else's. The resul is contagious. Like an epidemic it hits you back,and you get the joy of feeling loved, wanted, and cared for


Time waits for no one, neither do the hands of the clock stop for us.

The old is replaced by the new. That is what nature has ordained. The butterfly emerges from the cacoon. The withering crops drops its seeds to germinate new plants. The plant does not grieve the passing away of its parent. It neither seek the company of loved one, nor feels jealous of another's good fortune. It does not even curse the one who cuts its file short.

Let us also think of ourselves as plants. Let us begin to appreciate that only when we are harvested, ploughed down and mingled with the earth, will new life emerge.

Before being harvested, let us enjoy the breeze, sway with it and dance with the raindrops. Let us accept that the scorching sun is only preparing us for ripening. In human form all our friends and relatives are our sun, breeze and raindrops. They are only fulfilling the purpose they have been created for. Let us fulfill ours.

Wise Men and Wise Thoughts

Once in a while Aab comes out with some wise thoughts. Not many are willing to listen to him, and fewer still consider his thoughts as wise. For Aab is not yet dead, and only dead men's quotes are quoted as wise.

His wise sayings do not come from any enlightenment or Guru. Not from books or scriptures. Not even from meditation or travels. He speaks based on what he observed in humans in ordinary people like you and me. Since his interest in living beings is so deep and passionate he sees a lot when he looks. And he has so much time to look since he is not only unemployed but also unemployable. He has never earned some amount of affection and admiration - some amount but not enough to be categorized as a wise man.

Aab knows that wise men come with labels. One has to be a guru, a priest, a professor and Aab is none of these. He cannot be, for he does not know how to don the mantles these titles require. He is a square peg in the round hole of society, a wanderer in a world where everyone is a seeker.

So wherever Aab has something wise to say he thinks many a time, hesitates and just says it to a selected few. Even these selected few do not give much importance to what he shares now and then. Perhaps they will do so when Aab is dead. Then they will make a mausoleum in his name, probably publish his quotes and marvel at the wisdom of the "enlightened" soul. Aab laughs when he thinks of this quirk of human nature and continues to look.

Religion called Life

Because of his unusual name, and since he does not have a surname, people often ask Aab what religion he belongs to. And as usual, Aab is stumped. He would himself like to know, what faith he belongs to, if any. Everyone seems to have a religion, a community, a caste and a series of rituals. The only ritual Aab indulges in is - wandering on the roads and watching people closely. He wonders whether there can be a religion called "Life".

What a fool Aab is. He does not know that a religion needs to have a guru, a scripture, a long hierarchy of sub-gurus, and an elaborate system of do's and don'ts. Every one seems to know that except Aab. He hears learned and pious men thundering from high platforms about God's warmth. They sound so convincing as though they have just come from a personal conference with the Almighty in His sanctum sanctorum. Aab even hears the common man quoting the pious ones, dead and alive, seen or unseen, with such conviction. At times Aab wonders if he is the only one who is illiterate in maters of religion, while others seem to be graduates and post-graduates.

No, Aab is not an Atheist. He has enough intelligence to know that this Universe cannot be spinning away in abandon without certain forces controlling, directing and moderating it. He knows enough to understand that the tiniest and most helpless creatures would not have survived on this earth for thousands of year side by side with predators, unless there was a law of balance of nature. But he is not intelligent enough to give a name to this cosmic source of energy that binds us all together. What he sees and has to acknowledge very sadly is that religion divides humanity and any division goes against the laws of the Universe which all stand for Unity.

Child's developmental needs

In the growth and development of a child, emotional intelligence is more important than physical milestone. The role of parents, teachers and concerned adults is to mold every child to grow up feeling secure, loved, and with a sense of self worth.

Self-esteem is built or destroyed in the early years of life. Once a child grows up with a lack of self esteem, it is very difficult to build it back in adult years, and the individual may go through life feeling lonely, worthless, and inadequate. Hence a person with very good qualities may not be able to live life to its fullest because he will keep pulling himself back.

One can broadly classify a child's emotional needs into two categories:

  1. need to be loved
  2. need to feel secure

Most parents understand the first need very well, and express it in diverse ways, sometimes even over indulging a child. It is the second need, which is often not understood fully. A child needs to feel that his parents are omnipotent and omnipresent. At the same time he needs to be given the reassurance that whether he does good deeds or bad, he will still be accepted by his parents unconditionally. Often in disciplining, parents inadvertently use phrases such as "Why were you born?" or "I wish you were dead", or even "If you don't behave , I will go away". They do not realize the impact such statements may have on the child's mind, giving him a feeling of low self worth and the fear of rejection. This could leave permanent marks on the child's psyche, bringing down his self-esteem.

A few tips to understand how self-esteem of a child can be bolstered:

  1. Give positive strokes whenever a child does something good, genuinely identifying the nice things.
  2. Do not put pressure on the child to perform, and definitely do not give him the impression that he will be loved and accepted more if he does better.
  3. Never compare a child to a sibling, friend or stranger. Tell him that he can and should put in more efforts, and you are there to support him.
  4. Do not pass on adult worries like household, finances, setbacks in carrier, etc to a child.
  5. Periodically recollect his good qualities and tell him how proud you are of him.
  6. When scolding, talk about the acts done by the child (and how they effect you), and do not denigrate him as a person.
  7. The number of times you scold your child should be balanced with at least an equal number of times that you praise or compliment him.

A final point: Remember that whenever in doubt, do not lecture the child; rather let him talk. If the child feels free to talk about anything and everything to his parents, most problems can be identified and nipped in the bud.

See the book on Emotional Intelligence

My unique fill-in-the-blanks newspaper

I intend to bring out a unique newspaper that will have a present format like the one given below. Every morning only the blanks will be filled in with latest information. This will save time, money and energy.

  • In a fresh outbreak of violence in ________, _________ civilians and _______ _________ soldiers were killed.
  • Police Commissioner of ___________ city arrested for links with the underworld, while the Don is still hiding in _________-     country.
  • Term of inquiry commission probing into the communal riots of the year 1964 extended by another _________- year.
  • State government has sought _____________ ,000 crores as drought / flood (tick appropriate one) relief from the centre.
  • Traffic will be curbed on the following roads due to VIP movement and morchas :______________ for the next two days.
  • One more Minister/MP of _____________ State has been charged - sheeted in sex and corruption case.
  • Famous Actor _________ appeared in ____________ court on criminal charges.
  • Cricket player _____ suspended for malpractice and match fixing.
  • Senior citizen murdered in __________ locality.
  • State Government Ministry to be expanded soon.
  • Talks with Pakistan are progressing  smoothly.
  • Sex scandal unearthed in ____________ city involving top VIPs.
  • Government will soon give final clearance for Bangalore International Airport.
  • Hike in petrol price likely.
  • CM lays foundation stone for Rs. ___, 000 crore projects to come up in near future.

See Dr. Ali Khwaja's thoughts on Media
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