Monday, March 28, 2011

A prayer for Japan

Every new bit of news of the yet unfolding catastrophe in Japan brings an increasing sense of danger and impending doom. We raise up a prayer for the many victims and for the people of Japan as they totter on the brink of a nuclear disaster that may bring back chilling memories...... We pray that they will be given strength and grace to face the struggles of this terrible time.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

When working is fun!

As I expected, getting back to work took me away from the blog completely! I knew that I would be quite occupied, but had not expected it to be so tight! Leaving home every day at half past 7 and coming back after 10 pm were not what I expected to ever happen at the same time last year when we were swatting flies in the doctor's duty room while the operation theatre was being renovated! But though the week has been filled with sick patients, difficult procedures and late night visits to the ward, I realise that I do not feel as tired or overwrought as I would have expected given my lazy bent of mind. And that possibly is because the feeling of satisfaction at the end of the day outweighs any other negative feeling that my pessimistic mind would prefer to entertain. And I hope that wherever I am and whatever I do, I will find a similar sense of fulfillment that will make all worthwhile. 

My apologies to those of you who visit regularly. But judging from the experience of the last 6 months, a period of silence is often followed by one of intense activity!! So lets see what happens! Stay tuned........

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Wedding special

This week's weekend funny special is all about weddings. I posted the viral video of the bridal march a few days ago and got some follow up links. Thanks TBM!. And as I checked them out  I came across some hilarious stuff that I thought I should share. Here are some of the best bits. Have a good weekend! To begin, a joke to get you in the mood!

Little boy whispering to his mom during a wedding
Boy: "Mommy?"
Mom: "What?"
Boy: "Why is the girl dressed in white?"
Mom: "Because this is the happiest day of her life."
Boy: "... so why is the boy dressed in black?"

WEDDING VOW DISASTER: I guess this is something that is not as uncommon as you think! What a way to let out the tension! The bride obviously was quite pent up!!

ARE THEY FAINTING BECAUSE OF TIREDNESS, STRESS OR PURE MORTAL TERROR!!: And isn't it interesting that it is mainly the guys who are doing the fainting!!


AND FINALLY: I wonder if the bride ever talked to the poor bloke on best man duty again!! One of those clips you can watch a 100 times and still keep on laughing! And there is some conjecture on whether or not he was distracted when called on to present the rings - what do you think!!

Linkorama 4/3/11

Back to work again. And back to the late nights on the blog! I wasn't planning to post a linko tonight, but then some links jumped up and asked to be posted! So though one of my renewed New Year resolutions (starting March 1st) was to sleep and get up early, I will make an exception today! About the renewed New Year resolutions - one of my New Year resolutions was to review all my New Year resolutions every 3rd month. I have to admit it is the only resolution I have kept so far!! Well, on to the links.

THE TONE OF A BLOG: Very interesting that I came across this post so soon after my disclaimer post. But then, reviewing some of the discussions that have gone quite deep and for quite long (like this one), I think we have been managing pretty ok!! Of course, I heard recently that some of my friends had put up a private facebook page where among other things, this blog was a hot topic of ridicule!! Ah well, what I can't see can't trouble me I guess!! But comments are open guys - if you wanna say something, go ahead. Judging from the experience so far, it's unlikely that I will take umbrage at anything you may throw at me. In fact, our discussions may even lead to closer friendships, as at least one of my readers is sure to agree! 

WHAT OUR CHILDREN SEE IN US: This post speaks about the need to show our children what we believe by our reaction to everyday events. This is something I have always thought and prayed for our family. The only people who will see if you live your faith out honestly are your spouse and children. You can pull the blinders over everyone else. But your children will know the truth. A sobering thought...... Read the post - it speaks of an important truth in a humorous way!

IS IT COOL TO BE UNFASHIONABLE: My friend Dhiraj posted this short but interesting post some time ago, but it got lost in one of my deleted posts during a spring-cleaning session and I only just remembered it. My favourite quote - The unfashionable person dares to be different by being stuck to what he likes. He might be frozen in fashion of a bygone era or he might be failed trendsetter whose style did not take off. Well, all I can say is, I hope my style takes off!! Read the rest of the post - there are a few more gems there!

THE BOOK SURGEON: This was rather interesting - yet another of the innovative ideas that make us human. (HT: Challies)

CALVIN ON CREATIVITY: My favourite innovator has some ideas on creativity that I totally agree with..... if only because it's just the way I work!!

AND SPEAKING OF CREATIVITY: This guy is on a different level altogether. Inspired anyone?!!

Friday, March 4, 2011

The tragic assassination of Shahbaz Bhatti

The news of the assasination of Shahbaz Bhatti is reverberating around the blogosphere. It seems unbelievable that in modern civilisation, there are still madmen who will murder their own countryman over a difference of opinion on the matter of religion. What is more unbelievable that even after the killing of Salman Tasheer and receiving many threats to his own life, this brave man continued to stand for what he believed in. That's not something I would do very easily. In fact, it is likely that a lot less than a death threat will be enough for me to be shaken from some of my hitherto 'unshakable' principles. It is a sobering and yet inspiring thought. In a day and age when courage of conviction is something very rare and standing for a cause is something that people make fun of and ridicule, here we have a man who actually gave his life for something he believed in. Our hearts go out to the victims of intolerance of all forms in this world. And we pray for the perpetrators of that intolerance - that the message of love will transform them. For as we see the great harm that man has done to fellow man in the name of religion through the centuries, it is clear that the message of love for our enemies and prayer for those who harm us (Lk 6:27-28) is not what is practiced by all most of our mainstream religions. And yet that was the message of Jesus. Overwhelming love and unconditional forgiveness. So much so that even on the cross he could say - Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

And this attitude of love must begin with me....

Here is a BBC interview with Mr. Bhatti in which he talks about his faith, his dream and even his death (HT: Pradeep). And here is an article which talks about his life and death. We pray for the family of Mr. Bhatti and for all people in Pakistan and throughout the world who are denied freedom of speech and religion. May Thy Kingdom come.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Linkorama 3/3/11

Strange as it seems, although I don't enjoy travelling that much, I seem to do a lot of it! But, as I have said before, it's always a great feeling to get back home! And somehow, it's only when you've been away from work for a short time that you realise how much you miss it!! We are starting early tomorrow, and we just got back, so there are very few links today.

TALK LIKE A THEOLOGIAN: If you wish to appear more erudite and sophisticated than you actually are, here are a few tips to help you along the way!

AM I THAT UGLY?!!: This simian friend thought he had found a great toy. Until...........

THE PERFECT CALVIN: The beginning of the third month of the year is a good time to re-evaluate the status of our New Year resolutions. With the pathetic state mine are in, I would prefer to think like Calvin!

THE WORLD CHAMPION WHISTLER: I thought I was a good whistler until I heard this guy. But then, this is what he does for a living! Good night!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Linkorama 2/3/11

My break is over and we travel back to our home in Shillong tomorrow. This has been a great week - especially because of all I have read and the wonderful talks I have had with my parents. I also did some semi-serious writing on the blog  - which means I actually did some research and didn't just put down my flights of fancy! But judging by the readership, my flights of fancy were more interesting!!So much for my hubris!! Well, anyway, on to the links!

CMC LUDHIANA WINS ALL-INDIA DEBATE COMPETITION: A 3-member team from CMC Ludhiana won an all-India debate competition. And in the final, they beat 2 teams of lawyers!! That speaks volumes for the intrepid debaters from CMC, though not much for the next generation of lawyers in our country!! Congrats guys!! Keep up the good work!!

DHONI AND TIED GAMES: I asked the question in a previous post if Dhoni's streak was over after the tied game with England. Well, apparently there is room for hope! It appears that Dhoni has captained his team in tied matches 3 times - India once in the T20 World Cup and Chennai Super Kings twice in IPL 2010 and the Champions League 2010. And all three times, his team has won the tournament! Well, here's hoping history repeats itself!! Read about it here.

STRENGTH-BASED LEADERS: A new book suggests that successful leaders are not those who identify their weaknesses and work on them, but rather, those who identify their strengths and work on improving on them. They depute the things they are not so good at to others who are skilled in those areas. An interesting concept for sure. Here is an article which transcribes an interview with the authors where they talk about this idea.

TODAY'S COMIC STRIP: When one does not know what to is the time to remain silent!!(HT: Doghouse)
Dinner Plans

THIS IS THE WAY TO DO IT: Proof that silence is often the best response!!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Desmond Tutu - a man who made tough decisions (part 3)

This has turned out to be much longer than I expected. Apologies to all of you who are not so interested in Desmond Tutu! But writing about him has been really good for me, especially considering the decisions he took at different times of his life. Part 1 and Part 2 spoke about his early life in South Africa and his two stints in London. He was obviously blessed with a brilliant mind considering his rapid rise in ecclesiastical circles. But he also made decisions that were rational and not emotional - especially considering his training and later working in London. While his friends and acquaintances would have been encouraging him to join the 'freedom struggle' back home, he took steps that may have appeared to be escapist to them, but later turned out to be filled with opportunities for personal, professional and family growth that stood him in great stead when the time came for him to finally immerse himself in the anti-apartheid movement.

And that time was when he returned to South Africa at the age of 44 to become dean of Johannesburg. The first indication of his new direction in life came when he chose not to reside in the official dean's residence which was in the posh part of the town, but rather in the black settlement of Soweto - the largest black township in the country. It was a true ghetto. Only 25 percent of the houses had running water and only 15 percent had electricity. There was one telephone for every 26,000 people and very few shops and businesses. Gangs controlled the unlit streets at night and alcoholism and crime were rampant. But Tutu did not want to be considered an 'honorary white' thanks to his position.He also knew that if he was to make any honest statement against apartheid he could not be isolated from the poverty and deprivation that his fellow blacks were facing. And so he took up residence in Soweto, commuting every day to his office in downtown Johannesburg. He also served as the rector of St. Mary's Cathedral, one of the few mulitracial churches in South Africa, where, though blacks and whites worshiped together, racial tensions were not entirely absent.

But just when he was settling into his new responsibilities came an offer to become bishop of the church in Lesotho. This was yet another of the tough decisions that he had to make. While he was keen to rise in the church hierarchy, he was not keen to leave South Africa again so soon after he had returned. However, when he initially refused the offer, the church sent a delegation to him in Johannesburg and he finally accepted. But though the appointment was for 5 years, he was not destined to remain there for very long. In the first year of his bishopry, he was asked to become the general secretary of the South African Council of Churches and he came back to South Africa. The situation there was at a boiling point. The death of 13 year old Hector Peterson on 16 June 1976 in police firing, (now commemorated as youth Day in South Africa) became a symbol of resistance to the brutality of apartheid. Violence erupted all over Soweto. The police resorted to brute force to quell the uprising. By the end of the year more than 500 people had been killed. But the Soweto uprising is often considered the turning point of the struggle against apartheid. For although the uprising had been crushed, the black 'freedom fighters' and the white liberals who supported them had become much better organised and more importantly, non-racialism became the rallying point of most anti-apartheid protesters. 

But just 15 months after Soweto, the anti-apartheid movement received a severe blow when one of its best loved young leaders, Steve Biko was killed by police after being arrested on the way to a political meeting. Tutu was asked to give the eulogy at his funeral. It was one of the most highly charged funerals in South African history as more than 30,000 mourners defied the police and attended the huge open-air ceremony. In deep anguish himself, Tutu gave a moving message to his countrymen that the injustice of apartheid had dehumanised the whites as well as the blacks. Comparing Biko's death to the crucifiction of Jesus, he asked the crowd to pray for the white South African leaders and policemen, that they may regain their humanity. He said that being pro-black was not the same thing as being anti-white and begged his people not to be filled with hatred and bitterness as the whites were not the enemy, the system of apartheid was. And he prayed for peace and reconciliation and also for the victory over oppression, that he believed was just around the corner. Any lesser man might have used the occasion to spew vituperative hate against the white oppressor. But Tutu's message was one of hope, not hatred. And through that speech, not only did he position himself as one of the leaders of the black community in their fight for equal rights, but he also revealed his heart - one that was committed to peace and reconciliation even in the face of senseless brutality and injustice.

Over the next 5 years, Tutu became more and more intimately involved with the anti-apartheid movement. Thanks to his stature and the nature of his position, the government could not treat him like the other activists and throw him in jail. While he was detained by the police on some occasions, he never had to face a jail sentence like the other civil rights activists. Moreover, his international profile and widespread acceptance made it difficult for the police or the government to take any punitive action against him. They were, however, ready to use the press against him and Tutu had to face varied criticisms ranging from accusations of Communism to personal political ambitions. The nation's white leaders lost no opportunity to question the role of the church in politics and suggest that joining anti-government protests were not acceptable for members of the cloth. But these criticisms only served to raise Tutu's acceptance among the black people and they began to look up to him as their spokesperson at a time when speaking out was extremely dangerous. And in the course of his official duties, Tutu traveled throughout the Western World where his inimitable grace, humour and passion brought him much praise and acceptance and raised the profile of the apartheid struggle especially in countries whose trade was the bulwark of the South African economy. At Tutu's encouragement, South Africa's white leaders began to face increasing sanctions that were a major factor in finally bringing down the apartheid regime.

Winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 brought Tutu and the apartheid struggle into keen international focus. Though the government was silent on the issue, there was great rejoicing in the black community as this was proof that their struggle was now taking centre-stage in international politics. And Tutu's appointment as bishop of Johannesburg shortly after only served to cement his position as one of the premier black leaders in the anti-apartheid struggle. By the time F.W. de Klerk was elected as the new President of South Africa in 1989 and announced wide-spread reforms as well as the release of many black leaders including Nelson Mandela, Tutu had risen to the position of Archbishop of Cape Town, yet another position he was the first black to occupy.

The story of the overthrow of apartheid and the first free elections in South Africa have been well-documented as a great victory of non-violent protest. F.W. de Kerk and Nelson Mandela won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993 for their role in the smooth transition from apartheid to multi-party democracy. It was clear that just like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Lech Walesa and many others, leaders like Tutu and Mandela had broken the back of a repressive regime through their commitment to non-violence. They had succeeded where many generations of violent protesters had failed. But what happened next was what was truly amazing. As the world watched to see how the black people would use their newly-won power and how they would repay the many centuries of repression and injustice, Mandela surprised the world (and his own followers) with his plan of Truth and Reconciliation. And Desmond Tutu was chosen to head the panel that would for the next few years hear the terrible stories from the years of apartheid, record them and then in a spirit of love and brotherhood forgive the perpetrators and integrate them into the new 'rainbow nation'. 

And for Desmond Tutu, this was a worthy challenge. His life in South Africa had been dedicated to reconciliation between the various members of the South African community and now he had an opportunity to make that reconciliation a reality in a practical way. He had retired from all his church activities and was about to leave South Africa to teach at one of the famous seminaries in the United States, but this was an opportunity that he could not pass up. And so he became the face of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Years after the commission was wound up, it was remarked by many of its members, both black and white, that had he not been the head of the commission, the deep wounds that were reopened by the proceedings every day may have erupted into anger and bitterness. It was his loving, calm and humorous presence that held the commission together and made it the source of much healing in post-apartheid South Africa.

I started this post to talk about the tough decisions Desmond Tutu took throughout his life. Being born in a situation where the odds were stacked against him obviously did not deter him from reaching heights that most of us can only dream of. In spite of all that stood in his way, he kept making decisions that must have been difficult and must have caused some of his friends to wonder if he was on the right path. Giving up his dream of being a doctor, leaving his chosen profession of teaching, leaving his country just when the anti-apartheid movement was taking off, coming back from the UK when his family was well settled and his own professional prospects were opening up, deciding to get involved in the struggle of his people at his great risk to him and his family, calling for reconciliation when all around were baying for revenge........... the decisions he took sometimes defied logic and common wisdom. I wonder how difficult these decisions must have been. But over the last week, I have been speaking to my parents and hearing the story of their tough decisions - some of them as tough as Tutu's in their own way. And they tell me that it was not really that difficult. It was a natural progression of their faith and the discernment they were blessed with at the time that caused them to make the decisions they did. This rings true in my ears especially in the light of Tutu's life. And that is my prayer for our lives as well. That when the time comes to make decisions, we too will be blessed with discernment. And at times when these decisions do not seem to make much logical sense, our faith in the God who guides our steps will allow us to walk steadfastly and firmly along the path. Knowing that in the past He has been faithful. And we can trust Him till the end.

Linkorama 1/3/11

Yesterday I met a group of medical students and ...... I felt old!! As I said the words - in the 10 years I have been working as a doctor - this fact actually hit home! So, thanks for listening to an old man's rantings! Here are today's links.

DIRT IS GOOD FOR YOUR CHILD?!: This article seems to suggest that dirt is good for your child! The hygiene hypothesis postulates that organisms like the millions of bacteria, viruses and especially worms that enter the body along with “dirt” spur the development of a healthy immune system. Several continuing studies suggest that worms may help to redirect an immune system that has gone awry and resulted in autoimmune disorders, allergies and asthma. Pass the dirt please......!!

TOP 5 TOYS IN THE WORLD: Those of you with children, don't worry - these are unlikely to burn a hole in your pocket. According to this post by a stay-at-home dad, the top 5 toys are............ wait for it............. stick, box, cardboard tube, string and dirt!! I can believe this one as recently I was with a child whose favourite toy was a box - and what innovative ways that box was used!! Amazing! (HT: Crouch)

NOT TO FORGET LEGO: Enoch Eicher is one of the most innovative lego specialists I know. This post combines one of the top 5 listed above (ie. dirt) with the slightly more expensive, but just as innovative lego! Here is another example of his work.

TOP 10 TOYS FOR 2010-11: This is what I got when I googled top 10 toys - somehow the list was a little depressing!!

IS THIS GOOD PARENTING: Calvin's dad is at it again - I'm beginning to love this guy!! Cartoons are generally ensmallened. Please click on them to embiggen.

AND SPEAKING OF IMAGINATION: This little girl seems to have come right out of a calvin comic strip - hilarious!