Count all your blessings …


“Count your blessings

Name them one by one;

Count your many blessings

See what God hath done “

These are few lines of a thanksgiving prayer I kinda remember from my singing classes at CarmelHigh School, Port Blair. I could never really appreciate the beauty of these lines until today when it all came back to me.

It is strange how random thoughtful ideas and deep rooted emotions can connect like a beautiful string of pearls to show the fullness of a concept.

The times we live in are dark and difficult (to quote the rider of a Harry Potter movie.) Never before has the spirit of competition and achievement of personal ambitions been on the must-do list of a collective populace. The sweet melody of the Indian national anthem playing at the Beijing Olympics when Abhinav Bindra won the 10m Rifle Shooting competition to capture India’s first gold medal in 28 years was enough to give me goose bumps. But I dint like one the SMS polls by NDTV wherein they asked the viewers to vote for what they thought was India’s greatest moment of sporting glory:

  1. The Olympic gold medal won by Abhinav.
  2. India winning the cricket world cup
  3. Vishwanath Anand winning the grand master title.

How can you ever compare three such distinct and famous events? Each has its own special place in a sport’s enthusiast’s hearts and minds. Digressing from the core issue seems to be the chief characteristic of this blog, no ? 😉

The one year that I spent in the USA made me ponder over a lot of things and I did a bit of soul searching too. Now New York City may be the greatest place on earth according to Hollywood movies and F.R.I.E.N.D.S but for me it was like a live lab; a lab wherein my emotions, ideas and dreams were kicked out through the window of narrow constricted passageways out into the wild. I had to unlearn all that I had been learnt for the last 21 years. [The clever guy who wrote ‘The Medici Effect’ would call this metamorphosis as breaking associative barriers. It is a good read btw. ]

I am not talking about the great old school debate ‘westernization of Indian values’. It is a perspective thing. Life coming a full circle is a term we often get to hear from people who have achieved their dreams or realized their goals. While in India I saw only a part of the circle and thought it was the whole picture; now as new parts of the previously (thought of as) complete circle appear before me and it makes me reminisce“…picture abhi baaki hai mere dost.” So, New York courted me, bullied me and taught me one of the greatest lessons I could ever learn: ‘Always keep an open mind. When you think you are just about to give up give ‘IT’ one more shot. Keep fighting that little man inside your head who keeps saying you can’t. Never give into despair. Count your blessings.’

I remember reading a short story in a book whose name fails me. The story goes like this: “There was a young bankrupt business man who was contemplating suicide as his venture had come to a collapse and he was submerged in financial debt. Before he could end his life, he paid a visit to the pastor of his church one last time. The pastor was kind. He found out the problem bothering his visitor and told him to take a blank sheet of paper and write down what all good things in his life he had left. The man began listing his parents, wife, his children, best friends, health, house and lo soon the list ran for two pages. The wise pastor the told the troubled man: “When in insurmountable trouble and you just want to quit it all , count your blessings.”

Love. Love can do strange things to people. It can make you or break you. Tomes have been written about lovers and their tragedies. But very few have ever touched upon unconditional love; the feeling that engulfs your parents when they lay their eyes on you after one long year. I never told my parents how much I love them and how much more I love them now for what I am today is because of them (those few extra pounds not included that is my doing.)

Love is a blessing. To love, to be loved and to be in love. It is half past midnight and both my parents are sound asleep from their daily chores as I nosily type away; a glance at them makes me count my blessings. I am reminded of the sons of the armed forces personnel who can’t see their fathers return home every night and sometimes never. Rejoice for what you have because many others don’t.

Pain. Pain is pure and clean. Pain brings out in us the most primitive of human emotions, anger. Nothing triggers anger better than pain. But pain too is a blessing. It makes us realize the result of our actions or of somebody else’s actions. It is an eye opener. Pain is every where. A torn ligament, a broken heart , a resounding failure , a terrible loss. Pains can also draw people together. People who can feel the same pain as you do because they too feel wronged like you; or someone who has the cure for your pain.

I had a root canal and a wisdom molar extraction last week; and it was a double whammy because both the tooth were adjacent to each other and shared a common gum bonding or something like that. I was in deep pain and all I could see was the face of the dentist and the glare of a bulb. He did his procedures and I had to stay calm but seething pain like that can push your anger levels to the zenith. But for the dentist I was just another patient who had paid the price for eating too many cadbury’s as a kid/teenager/adult. His eyes moved over my infected area with precision. And the teeth happen to be connected to the skull which is the strongest part of the human body (ever wondered why they always show skulls in the spooky movies?) and the teeth even have nerves which are hard wired to the brain. So one wrong tingling of the nerve would have numbed the right side of the mouth for six months. Both the procedures now complete as I crunch the Ferro Rocher in my mouth I realize how lucky I have been to eat in one bite. I would like to mention a special thanks to anesthesia with regards to my little tooth issue. It is so wonderful. Someone may knife you and you’ll never know the pain. Anesthesia you rock. Me thinks these days anesthesia should be a part of everything so that you don’t feel the kick on your butt when things go bad; like anesthesia should accompany a bad report card so that all that beating at home will be painless 😉 or for that sweet little love story which was to be doomed but din’t have to pain at all.

Freedom. Free as a (heavy) bird. These were the first words I uttered when I landed at JFk err Newark. Away from everyone I ever knew, making a new start in a new alien country. Free to do what I want. Freedom is a high. You can booze, dope, fag, jerk offetc like hell freezes over and no one back home would know a damn thing. No more of all those aunties in the mohalla trying to overhear your private conversations or eager uncles to ask your next career moves. With great freedom comes great responsibility. In one of the first international students’ orientation classes we were told that since we were new to this country the natives would try to associate our actions with our motherland. We were cultural ambassadors. And this was a stage to put up our finest manners and make our country proud.Of course not all things I do here can be told back to the august gathering that awaits me once I am back in India but there is a fine line between freedom and loosing control. Freedom is a blessing. I can be what I want to be here and people apart from my fellow countrymen won’t be judging me by appearance and apparel rather they would see my actions. I may appear disproportionate and dress sloppily but my work is top notch and that is what gets me recognition, respect and the green bucks.

Money. Money is the root cause of all evil and good as well. And never before has money been such an important factor as it has been in the past one year. My university is expensive and amidst heavy financial support from my parents I get to study at a good university I feel responsible for every dollar I spend. The early days in the USA were the worst of the lot with the whole rupee/dollar conversion thing. An year past I’m out of the conversion syndrome but still I do sometimes get jittery when someone breaches the topic of a strong rupee and weak dollar etc. Everyone doesn’t have money and the people who have it don’t have it all the time so money is a blessing. You have it spend it wisely; you don’t have it then earn it. Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy all the good things. The week before we were to fly to India a friend of mine spent all her savings on buying gifts for her family and friends and I was appalled. Agreed all of us gotta take back home stuff for our folks and for the neighbour’s wife’s brother’s sister’s son who wants a iphone 3g. But this friend of mine kept on shopping for all except herself. When I asked her she told me that the smile that comes on a person’s face when they get a gift they never expected compensates all her spending. I couldn’t agree more, after seeing the freaked out face of the teen dude next door after I handed him a copy of playboy and hustle.


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