Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Every now and then I find myself hearing someone talk (a sermon or a conversation) but not listening. As a priest for some years now I have had the odd occasion when I truly felt like I was talking to deaf people during the homily. Most of them were people with perfect hearing but the absence of any will to listen.

But this Sunday I had a truly amazing experience. I concelebrated mass with 12 other priests for a group of about 60 children in a school for those with hearing and speech difficulties. I have never seen such an eager group of listeners. Some had their eyes glued to the celebrant's lips (as they lip read his words) and others concentrated totally on the sister who was "signing" the words of the liturgy. What rapt attention! What total concentration! When the time came to sing they belted out the songs with deep conviction many of them also signing the words with their hands.

And I prayed the Lord to open my ears to listen better to all the wonderful messages that I hear daily.

Monday, September 21, 2009


It quaked again - so what's new - it has been doing this frequently since I got here. For one thing, if this was the end for me it could not have come on a better day. I would have come into this world and gone out the same day just 48 years apart. But, I live to tell the tale, even as we remembered all those who lost their lives.

Here is one news report and it ends with a recap of the major quakes in the last two months...quite a list there...

Tremor rocks the north-east

GUWAHATI/KOKRAJHAR/SHILLONG/ITANAGAR: For a fifth time in 40 days, an earthquake rocked the North-East on Monday afternoon and claimed at least three lives in its epicentre, Bhutan.
Measuring 6.2 on the Richter Scale, this was the strongest of the nine tremors that rocked the region this year.

Bhutanese officials confirmed that three persons died at Mongar, about 180 km east of Thimpu, and five were injured. Sources said the victims were believed to be labourers from Assam's Baksa district. Some unofficial reports, however, put the toll at seven.

Kunjang Wangdi, the deputy commissioner of the Bhutanese district of Sarpang, said some of the victims were Indian workers and they died in the Gyalposhing area when a building collapsed. He, however, could not provide the exact toll. Bhutanese website Kuensel Online quoted government officials as saying that reports of damage poured in from eastern Dzongkhags.

In the northeastern region of India, Monday's tremor triggered a widespread panic across Assam with hundreds of people seen running out of their houses in sheer desperation, frantically looking for safer places.

According to the Borjhar-based Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC) in Guwahati, the earthquake occurred at 02.23 pm with an epicenter in Bhutan between 27.3? North latitude and 91.5 ? East longitude.

"This was the strongest quake in the North-East this year," RMC director D K Handique said.

Even as officials of the state disaster management department claimed no casualty or damage to property was reported, TOI found some highrises in Guwahati developing cracks. A seven-storey building in the city's Bhangagarh area tilted and touched another apartment. A witness said people staying in the two buildings ran out of their houses. "All 72 families staying in flats were scared," said a member of the apartment society.

Kamrup (Metro) deputy commissioner Prateek Hajela said he had got news about some buildings developing cracks and asked his officers to verify the reports. The lower Assam districts of Nalbari, Baksa, Kamrup and Kokrajhar bordering Bhutan were also jolted by the quake.

Hitesh Das, the deputy secretary of the state disaster management department, said they had verified reports from eights districts. "So far, no casualty was reported. We are awaiting reports from other districts. We have already put all district administrations on high alert," he said.

State revenue and disaster management minister Bhumidhar Barman has convened an emergent meeting on Tuesday to assess the situation.

Met officials in Shillong said there was no immediate report of any damage to life or property in Meghalaya. Tawang, the Buddhist monastery town in Arunachal Pradesh, too, experienced the quake for about seven seconds. Sources said there was no report of any damage.

Incidentally, the North-East is located in the seismically active Zone V, making the region one of the most quake-prone areas in the world. Assam had already experienced two high-intensity earthquakes one in 1897 and the other in 1950. The two tremors had triggered some topographical changes in Assam and changed the courses of a number of mighty rivers, including the Brahmaputra.

2009 Quakes

Sept 4: 21:08 am Indo-Myanmarese border M 5.9

Aug 31: 12:57:44 am Manipur-Nagaland region M 5.3

Aug 19: 4:15:15 pm Sonitpur M 4.9

Aug 11: 3:13:39 am Manipur M 5.6

Thursday, September 17, 2009


I was sent this story some time ago taken from Shiv Khera's bestseller You Can Win, and I shared it with the community today.

When I was in Toronto, I heard a story of two brothers. One was a drug addict and a drunk who frequently beat up his family. The other one was a very successful businessman who was respected in society and had a wonderful family.

Some people wanted to find out why two brothers from the same parents, brought up in the same environment, could be so different. The first one was asked, "How come you do what you do? You are a drug addict, a drunk, and you beat your family. What motivates you?" He said, "My father." They asked, "What about your father?" The reply was, "My father was a drug addict, a drunk and he beat his family. What do you expect me to be? That is what I am."

They went to the brother who was doing everything right and asked him the same question. "How come you are doing everything right? What is your source of motivation?" And guess what he said? "My father. When I was a little boy, I used to see my dad drunk and doing all the wrong things. I made up my mind that that is not what I wanted to be."

Both were deriving their strength and motivation from the same source, but one was using it positively and the other negatively.

(Shiv Khera, You Can Win, New Delhi: MacMillan India Ltd., 1998, 102-103)

In life we meet all kinds of people, some appreciate and help us grow modeling good values. Others put us down, cause us suffering, and are poor role models. What we become is not about them but about us. We can draw good from both types of people deciding the kind of people we want to become. The choice is ours and we cannot blame others for what we make of our lives.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Much time has passed since the last posting. The class schedule is getting hectic. And then for a week I was away in Mumbai at a family reunion. It was great to spend time together with most of my family - all three living generations of it - after a long gap. Besides the good food and drink, we spent some quality time together. Each of us had chances to recount the good times, to evaluate things that had not gone the way we would have liked them to, and to receive counsel for the days ahead. Well as they say good advice is cheap - what really matters is putting some of that to good use.

The occasion was Dad's 80 birthday. Here are some pics posted by my cousin Roymario of the party we had.

Greetings and prayers to all...