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Saturday, March 14, 2015

My Neighbour Nudges Me


The last four weeks had been a roller coaster what with the new boss having taken over, and one presentation following another day after day. Whether the suggestions would ever be implemented was a totally different matter and no one gave much thought to that aspect. Like a dogged 'karma yogi' I kept plugging away, preparing one presentation after another.
One evening as I was rushing off for another dinner meeting with my boss, my aged neighbour called me. Reproaching me indulgently he complained that he hadn't seen me for a long time. 'Every day I keep looking at your house. The pink and purple petunias are in full bloom as are the roses and the phlox are blossoming. You have been watering them diligently, but you never respond to my calls.'
Feeling remorseful, I promised him that I would join him for morning tea the following day. It would be a Sunday and I wouldn't be going to office.
The neighbour had seemed to be very lonely. Nobody had the time, he propensity or the desire to visit him as it would not add value to their bio data! I felt guilty and so the next day promptly at eight I rang his bell. It is difficult to describe the joy on his face when, on opening the door, he saw me standing, holding a bunch of freshly cut flowers that I had plucked from my garden. His hands were trembling as he accepted the bouquet and ushered me into his house.
Parkinon's had taken its toll on him I could see.
He made me sit on the sofa and he held my hand as though afraid that I would go away. Then he got up abruptly and said he would make 'Hot Chocolate' for me. My instinctive response was to refuse, but then I thought it would make him happy, and so I kept quiet. I followed him to the kitchen and was pleasantly surprised to see it was clean, shining, spotless and so bright. He was very proud of the kitchen because he maintained it himself - he told me he was fond of cooking and made all his meals himself.
He switched on the electric kettle and in no time it was singing. He poured the water in two porcelain mugs with cheerful floral designs. On the tray he had already kept a packet of ginger nut cookies and a bowl of almonds.
We went back to the drawing room and I really relished the hot chocolate and the cookies. He told me about his daughter and his daily routine. Even though he lived alone, he spent his days well.There was no complaining, no litany of grievances, no grouse against anyone. He was grateful that early on he had bought this accommodation through portals like housing.com and he urged me to do the same.
I came out of his house full of a feeling of joy and optimism, hope and contentment.
My neighbour had taught me a lot in those few hours that I spent with him.

Friday, March 13, 2015

A New Start




For any new start, housing Housing is so important for all of us. Housing.com is a useful site. Look at the video above. In my story, home and house play a big role as you will see below.

The bold step by which life has been transformed is the tale of my marriage. After getting married, I continued to be cocooned in a sheltered existence with spouse and small children. I lived in my own world. I was happy because there were no distractions like the internet based applications on the phones that you find these days. So there was no question of getting addicted to these applications, no question of spending hours locked into your phone or the laptop.
One day an 'educational consultant' came and knocked on the door. In spite of being irritated by this disturbance to my afternoon siesta, I was intrigued and I ushered him in.
I was excited for the sake of the children wondering what goodies he had which would benefit them. The product he showed was a whole range of glossy well illustrated, excellently produced books for kids of the exact age group of my children.
I was mesmerised.
I wanted the children to have these books. But I could not afford the set. The consultant solved my dilemma by saying that if I could sell ten of those sets, I would get mine free. Everyone in the family was totally against the idea because I had never gone out into the 'big, bad' world. Where was the question of selling these books to ten customers. The consultant bid adieu  but secretly I kept his visiting card.
And so my journey began. Every day I would make my secret list of cold contacts - I couldn't go to my friends or relatives because I was not supposed to be doing what I was doing. So I went to bank managers, school teachers, some offices in the vicinity of our house. I obviously could not venture out too far as I had to be back home by the time the kids came home. On some calls I even took the children along - and they promised not to let out my secret. I learnt the skills of listening, speaking, overcoming objections, making presentations. I literally re-learnt how to write a proposal. And slowly I did make progress. The first order was of course the most exciting. I was so overjoyed, I told everyone - my secret was out!
However, once I had got that, the family became more supportive and I gained in confidence. Day after day, week after week, month after month I went out - in the heat of summer and in the wetness of the monsoons. Slowly my successes increased in number.
Finally I got the magic number of ten sales and in the following week, the handsome, well bound gift set of the books was delivered to our house. The family was overwhelmed. The children have read those books over and over again as they have grown up. Perhaps oneday there kids will read these same books.
To this day, after all the years, the books still occupy pride of place in our house even though we have shifted so many times.
People saw the change in me and started commenting on my new personality. I gained inner strength by which I can now brave any domain hitherto undreamed of - government offices, embassies, corporations, you name it.
All because of that one big bold step.




Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New House, New Hope

We have shifted to a new flat thanks to sites like Housing.com.
A new house, a new lane, a new stage in life. Re-living your life while bringing up children, their smiles, their spikes, their falls and despair, their joys, and then the family rising together and marching forward. Now the children had grown up and gone to build their own futures and so we shifted from a school-centred neighbourhood to a new area of our dreams - a green belt and new neighbours.
I could understand and empathise with  the lifestyle of most of our neighbours - an architect couple working from home, a wonderful baker who sells cakes and muffins and brownies from her first floor apartment. Then there is this wonderful lady who charges a huge amount for event planning, but donates all those proceeds to a charity. Another neighbour runs a flourishing beauty parlour while the couple at the end of the lane kept their Fridays to attend to ailments of the poor in the slums around. Every Friday they make a beeline for the chemist and buy the medicines and then gift them to the poor. And so on...
Their was one flat however that always intrigued me - the curtains would be parted shyly in the morning for a little while and then they would be firmly forbidding - no one could peer inside. The heavy brown and beige rapes blocked all. An old woman with her head always covered with  beetroot red shawl would come and stand for a while. Her face would be unsmiling and devoid of any emotion. She would look long and hard at the scene on the road as though absorbing in all the physical details of the lane being swept by the sweeper or see the vegetable vendors selling their wares. She would soak in everything and then withdraw, go inside and return only on the next day.
Moved by curiosity I bunched up my courage and went to her house and rang the bell. I was certain she would not open the door.
The curtain parted and the woman saw me and then she opened the door and awkwardly ushered me in. She was younger than I thought. Slowly she opened up and told me her story. She had lost her husband just a few months ago, most unexpectedly and since she was alone, she had no one to talk to or to share her grief or even vent it out. This had made her withdraw from the world. She had almost stopped eating and had lost interest in life. On all fronts - physical, emotional and spiritual - she had shriveled up.
When I asked her to turn to God for solace, she said, 'For whom and for what should she turn to Him?'
I spent a number of days going to her and talking to her and finally one day she said, 'Although God has made a number of mistakes and has not been fair to her, she would show him that she was greater than Him. She would forgive Him.'
After that she changed. She is determined to live a fuller life. She goes to the physiotherapist regularly, takes care of her diet, and most importantly she meets up with her neighbours. She has rediscovered hope and optimism.
And she has also taught me the strength a human being is capable of.