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Short Take: Planning ahead
July 05, 2014
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Planning ahead

We all make plans in life. Some plan to become famous one day, while others may plan for a secure future. But how successful are the plans that we make?

I remember a classmate from high school, who always claimed that she would not marry in this lifetime.

I admired her courage to make such a plan, and wondered whether or not she would be able to follow it in the long run.

One day while I was shopping in a local supermarket with my mother I heard a faint voice calling out my name. I thought I was hearing voices and ignored it. But a few seconds later I heard it again and this time louder. I turned around and saw my classmate’s mother and sister.

After a few pleasantries and greetings with them, I enquired about my friend as I had not seen her for some time.

They told me that my friend had gotten married almost a year ago and was now settled in Hyderabad, India.

I was a little surprised but then again who ever said that all our plans will go according to our wish?

Taking my friend’s example, I am sure a lot of you out there have had to forgo your plans due to various reasons or circumstances.

Well, why not take a minute and reflect on them? Sometimes certain plans that have not worked in the past could be reworked to implement today. Remember, planning ahead might be beneficial in the long run.
Vismay Anand

End of excitement

I was enjoying a well-deserved holiday, lazing around at home, when a life insurance agent rang the doorbell, offering me the chance at prosperity during my life after retirement.

The agent spoke at length, explaining the benefits of a secured future that his insurance scheme promised. All he spoke about were benefits and interspersed his lengthy explanations with phrases such as “free to enjoy life”, “extra protection from market fluctuations” and “retirement paybacks.”

The man was probably on commission and I could understand why he worked so hard to “explain” and sell me this product, but I tend to distrust insurance policies and companies. They focus only on the advantage of having insurance, and not the equally important clauses marked with tiny asterisk marks and written in small font.

I expressed my opinion, and the agent tried to assure me by saying that his insurance scheme was not like that. He also reinstated that an insurance policy was the best way of protecting my family members in the face of uncertainty.

However, I still feel that the ultimate beneficiary of an insurance policy is the agent, not the party insured.  If the party insured is to benefit, he or she has to embrace death. The excitement ends there.
Ramachandran Nair, Oman

Spiritual goal

The Fifa World Cup 2014 has reached a very interesting phase now. I have been thrilled to watch a number of matches, many of them were too intense to watch. Since I come from India, which is crazy about cricket, I am not in favour of any particular team participating in this contest. Instead, I love the game and appreciate each and every team for their amazing performance.

But since the Holy Month of Ramadan has begun, I kept wondering about the Muslim players participating in it. In fact, everyone in my surrounding was curious to know whether the players will be fasting or they will skip it. For the first time in about three decades, the FIFA World Cup has coincided with Ramadan. It has put those players in a difficult spot.

Many athletes participating in the Olympics 2012 had also faced such a hard situation. But they were allowed to eat during Ramadan so that they make no mistakes while competing for glory. They were allowed to make up  for those fasts later.

Germany’s Mesut Ozil, Barcary Sagna of France and many other players have stated that they will not be fasting during matches. I can understand because if they stay away from food and drinks from dawn to dusk during Ramadan, they might feel weak and their performance might be affected.

But I was surprised when I came to know that the Muslim players of a few teams like Algeria and Nigeria had decided to continue fasting irrespective of their matches. Although now Algeria and Nigeria are out, they were the true heroes for me.

They maintained their religious duty as well as their national duty.
Saamia Mujeeb
(Student, Indian High School, Dubai)

Student attitudes

As students we tend to complain a lot. “Exam today, quiz tomorrow, presentation day after, when am I supposed to enjoy life!” is a common whine.

Then one day, you glance through the newspaper and realise that there are thousands, if not millions, around the world who have no access to education, or belong to poor households and value the opportunity to go to school much more than yourself.

It was then that I realised that time spent complaining was not only wasting time, but also devaluing the importance of this opportunity that I had.

Last week when we asked for a shorter class, my professor commented that education seems to be the only service that students pay for not to have.
Sonali Oshin Chopra

‘Finishing’ touch

Sometimes when you are angry your brain doesn’t work. Nothing to worry, it is common. So it is advisable not to indulge in any activity when you are in such situations. But it’s barely avoidable.

Recently, a factory manager was shouting at all his employees. Whoever was coming in his way was being grilled. That week a couple of people were employed. You know, when you go to a new firm, you are clueless about the ambience, the people, the rules and regulations. But once you face an ordeal, you automatically fall on the right track. That’s how things take place.

However, let us get back to the story. The manager was told by one of his subordinates that one of the newcomers was a shirker. The manager was angry after hearing his deputy’s complaint. He was planning to catch the newcomer red-handed.

So he started making surprise visits to the machinery section.

A man who was living next to the factory had a row with his fianceé and walked out of the house. He was loitering in the factory’s campus. The manager was also taking a round of the premises.

While passing by the garden, the manager noticed the man and was pretty sure he was the shirker.

He hotfooted to the man and said, “So you think, you are finish.”

The man replied “Yes.”

“And how do explain that?” asked the manager.

“I don’t need to, it’s in my blood.”

The answer left the manager fuming. “Okay, young man, no more smart replies. You can’t get away every time. I run this place. A part of your salary will be deducted for this abrasive behaviour,” said the manger.

The man was zonked by the manager’s statement and couldn’t make out what was going on. After some time he said, “Listen, Mr, I don’t work here.”

“Oh, now you are talking back. Then why did you say, you were finish? People are here to work, not to roam in the garden like you,” said the manager.

“Work?” uttered the man, as he was clueless.

Then it struck the man, that the manager was talking about work, and that he was mistaken for an employee.

And by “finish” the manager meant an end to the factory’s work and not the man’s nationality, which was “Finnish (from Finland).”

Both had misunderstood each other and later they had a healthy laugh on the issue.
Syed Shayaan Bakht

For greater good

It has been a routine for me since some years to meticulously photograph places that I visit and activities I participate in, and to then post them on my Facebook group or share it with friends or followers on various social networks.

I do it for various reasons. First, is to improve my photography skills. The second is to promote the artist or the activity I attend and give a kind of selfless contribution to encourage them.

However, the most important reason is to share with my parents and immediate family, who live far away, these precious moments so that they may enjoy them as well.

In order to meet professional and personal commitments, I tend to face a tight schedule, and this method has helped me avoid a detailed explanation of how my day evolved.

An interesting fact that came to my notice was the different reactions of those who chose to be in my friends or followers list. Some of them consistently encourage me. Some remain completely silent, although they keenly observe every post of mine. And some others come up with constructive criticism, which I always take note of in a positive way and act according to merit.

Many a time this has resulted in a positive contribution to the society, whether it is here in the UAE or in India.

Some actions were dangerous, since I would report abnormal practices or dangerous situations. Before submitting these to relevant authorities or the media I have asked myself a hundred times whether or not I should submit them as community reports of significance. The option chosen does prove to be right as they resulted in intended positive outcome.

At times, there were detrimental remarks that held my thoughts and deeds from moving ahead. Working on them again and again, weighing them in a balance, I chose the positives rather than the negatives and carried on.

Why should I let my feelings known to others? Why should I not?

A difficult choice, this is always on my mind, each time I come out with something new.

I strive my best to keep my mind and thoughts to contribute to the betterment of those with me and around me in my community. The choice is therefore theirs, to be with me or not.

Be supportive and an occasional like, a supporting comment, or a share of my post among your friends or family will not do any harm. It’s an assurance you can trust on.
Ramesh Menon

Writing about Nothing

I am constantly told, whether by the media or the people around me, that something is always afoot. The world doesn’t stop for anyone – this is a universally accepted fact, it would seem – and yet, when I sit down to write about the world, it turns its back on me. All the news and excitement of things goes from an unbearable din to a soft, huddled whispering that eludes me with snarky impudence. When I need the world the most, which is when I need to write, it seemingly runs away. Or have I been running from the world instead?

I wouldn’t say I have writer’s block, because I do write about other things when prompted. If I were given a specific topic to write about, then I would definitely do it (and do it quickly, if not well). However, when I have a plethora of subjects available to talk about, I seem to shut down.

Choosing a topic isn’t easy, either, because almost everything seems to warrant a full-bodied discussion. This leaves me in a quandary: what should I write about? I have nothing to offer, and nothing to mull over. Then it becomes somewhat obvious that I should be writing about…nothing.

And really, isn’t this exactly what I’m doing? Well, not entirely, since this seems to have become more of a recounting of my writing process for this piece. But it has allowed me time to think about how I think about things, if not nothing in particular. But now I wonder why I should be thinking about nothing at all. If the omnipresent tyranny of the daily grind is not inspiration enough for a few paragraphs, then what is my inspiration?

Perhaps my writing is contingent upon a personal definition of excitement that is missing from my life in this moment. Perhaps I have slid into a camouflaged grotto of ennui, its walls too steep for me to climb out of.

Perhaps I need something to jolt me out of my comfort and myopia, and give me a new horizon to admire.

Perhaps I should travel.
Shruti Sardesai

Booked by friendship

To say I love books is an understatement. I love books not just to read and enjoy but also to possess. I buy books like people would buy dresses. And not just that — I am possessive about all the books I own. If I had to lend a friend a book, for friendship’s sake, I would have nightmares about it till such time they returned the book to me. 

Once, my husband and I were meeting some friends at a nearby mall. The plan was that we finish with our respective shopping and head to the food court. Even as we entered the hypermarket in the mall my instinct told me, “Books!”

And sure enough, in a makeshift kiosk, were stacks and stacks of books. A sale was going on and I was not one to let it pass.

Half an hour later, my husband and I headed towards the food court — I, clutching my prized possessions and my husband, along with rest of the shopping. Later, when our friends joined us they were surprised to see the books. Apparently, the kiosk had not presented itself before them. My friend asked me if I could give him the books after I had finished reading them and I agreed.

In the course of our conversation, I learned that my friend often forgot to return the books he would borrow, and sometimes he would even pass the books on to other friends. Another friend who was there said she too would do the same. I was aghast. For me, it was nothing short of sacrilege and I told them that.

I think I must have hurt my friends, but it never occurred to me then in that heated moment of passion. When we got back home my husband pointed it out to me but I could not see reason, so enveloped I was with my attachment.

A couple of weeks passed. We were suddenly faced with an unexpected turn of events, a nasty blow of fate that dropped us into a void. In that moment of truth I looked around at all that we possessed and thought, “If I had to leave behind all this to move on away from the void, will I let go of my books?” And I realised then that though books did have a “life” of their own there were other things that were more alive, like, for instance, the love of friends.

A day later, when matters started resolving and things didn’t look so bad, I called my friend and told him that I was sending some books across to him.

He said that I could do so but in all probability he might misplace the books and I may not get them back.

I laughed and assured him that I was willing to forgive him the “offence.” I didn’t mind losing the books but not his friendship.
Vidya Shankar

Unexpected friendship

Before going to New York for a week, I met my friend and informed him of my travel plans. His smile immediately vanished off his face, and he said, “Sir, I will miss you during this week.” I had met him during one of my walks, less than two months ago.

His feelings were completely unexpected, yet pleasantly surprising. I hadn’t realised that we had become such good friends and this thought made me beam with happiness.

While the two of us continued our walk, I saw a patch of beautiful flowers growing in the distance and was reminded of a quote by Marcel Proust, “Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
K. Ragavan, Denver

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