Guldasta

A bouquet of flowers picked along the way ….

William the 99999999th July 6, 2010

Filed under: Ethics and Values,Inspiration,life,love — gurdas @ :

I love being surprised and do not suffer my ignorance of high cuisine menus. So, I often tell the person taking my order what I feel like having, and not necessarily what is on the menu. And I let the person attending our table advise, often even pick for me. The advantages of this approach greatly outweigh disadvantages (which are almost non-existent). One, I get to relish all kinds of expressions – questioning, curious, thoughtful, surprised, caught off-foot to name a few. Being a turbaned Sikh, I have the advantage of appearing different. So, when I get into my ‘lets have some fun here’ ordering style, it is almost always something they did not see coming. I have never ever received a normal expression when I start ordering. And this gives me a high 🙂 Plus, I get some free character study to do. I see confident, knowledgeable attendants (because they shoulder the responsibility of understanding my taste needs and matching it best to a menu item) and I see confused, ignorant types. None of this is available to folks who display a mastery of the menu (sometimes faked) and reel off their orders. And the fun does not end there. Since I am basically eating their pick, they take special care in making it right, and always come back asking how good their pick is. I shower them with my smiles and praises. Great relationship (however brief) tactic.

So, the other day my friend, Mina, and I went to a Starbucks for chit chat over coffee. Taking our order was a smiling African American gentleman named William. My order was this “I am in the mood for something cold, very little ice, and a strong taste of coffee.” William jumped to the challenge of meeting my desire. He asked me a couple of questions and placed the order. I had no clue what he was going to serve me. I did not ask. Surprises are best when savoured at the right moment. It was Mina’s turn. On our last visit, she had a strawberry drink. The other options were mango-orange and chocolate. William completely ruled out mango-orange saying it had no taste. I fell in love with the guy right then. For anyone to confidently say something on their menu is not worth it, needs to be acknowledged. Mina did not want chocolate and she already had strawberry. Hmmm…this was looking like a jam. But William bested himself. He offered to make a mix of strawberry and mango. He had not tried it before, but was confident it will be different. Mina felt secure in his confidence and she agreed to be game.

We took our table and shortly after that my order was announced. My drink looked inviting, very dressy with a dark bottom layer, a light brown middle layer, and cream top layer. My expectations doubled. I took a sip and smiled. William had nailed it. Just what I wanted! And this was not on the menu. I praised his selection and thanked him. He made double sure I liked it. I told him I loved it. A minute later, Mina’s order was ready and while not as dressy as mine, it still displayed an interesting mix of colours. She took a sip and then another. And she smiled. Check-mate! What happened after this moment is why I am writing this post.

William walked over to our table and asked Mina how her drink was. She said she liked it. Her praise was gentle and maybe William thought she was just being polite. So, he said this “If the drink is not what you feel like having I can make you another.” I was sold. His smiling face and humility coloured that room. Mina took the cue and this time her praise was equal to how much she liked the drink (she loved it).

I pondered on this and both Mina and I talked about it. What William did was exceptional. It might seem otherwise, but I thought his gesture was grand. It is not about the cost of the drink, but the attitude.

My next visit to Starbucks is not going to be for the good coffee they brew. But to be able to say hello to William.

ps: The name William, to me, has a kingly tone to it. And so the title of this post.

 

cup of joy June 22, 2010

Filed under: life,love,Me,photography — gurdas @ :

Starbucks 'London' mug

Some things are meant to happen a certain way. My Starbucks ‘London’ mug seems to be one of those. On my first visit to London, this mug was the only thing I had bought for myself. Unfortunately, it did not last long. To be precise, I dropped and broke the mug within an hour of buying it. And that was the evening before my flight and there was no Starbucks nearby for me to replace my lost souvenir. The next morning, I tried locating the Starbucks at Heathrow airport, but it was in a different terminal or at least too complicated to reach given the time available. So I returned home with only memories in my head. To make matters more bizarre, I had lugged along a SLR sized camera and tripod all the way across the Atlantic, and guess how many photos I made? Not one. Zilch.

But as fate would have it, I am lucky to have dropped the mug. Because, on my second visit to London, I had the same mug gifted to me.

The same mug. But now many times more precious.

 

feels like a father June 21, 2010

Filed under: Children,family,life,love,Me — gurdas @ :

As I observed Father’s Day wishes being shared, it struck me that the wishes were for men who are fathers. That they either have a biological or a legal child. Obviously, you might remark.

But then not all men who lay claim to the title of ‘father’ are worthy of that honour. Many do not feel, think, or act like fathers.

On the other hand, there are men who cannot call any child as their own and yet may be more father-like in thoughts and deeds than many a ‘real’ father. It is to these childless fathers that I send my wishes.

Happy Father’s Day to each of you.

 

love is labour June 2, 2010

Filed under: Ethics and Values,life,love,philosophy — gurdas @ :

“The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in.” ~Morrie Schwartz

So often is love considered to be an emotion that is born of unknown origins that we forget love is labour. Love in its highest form is a verb. It requires action. It requires effort. It demands that both giver and receiver indulge in the act of loving to improve the life of each other.

“Love never reasons but profusely gives; gives, like a thoughtless prodigal, its all, and trembles lest it has done too little.” ~Hannah More

This giving does not come easily. The roots of this tree have to spread wide and deep for the fruit to bear long and sweet. Otherwise there is the danger of the tree succumbing to the harsh winds of life. We must train ourselves to practice love. Khushwant Singh, on a visit to the Missionaries of Charity, could not bring upon him the love to care for the sick, old people that Mother Teresa would smilingly care for and so he put forth his question, “How can you care and love them?”. To which Mother replied, “I see Jesus everywhere.” Mother Teresa was living her own words, “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” And she was not able to do this because she started with an ocean of unending love inside her. No, she started with labour and will. The ocean was created along the way. And she laboured to make the ocean grow everyday. Through dark hours and staggering odds. Her love was not an emotion to be enjoyed while it lasted. Her love was a creation nurtured with labour.

The most satisfying description of love I have come across was in Scott Peck‘s book ‘The Road Less Traveled‘. Scott defines love as “The will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.” The two pages that follow this rather simple definition contain a persuasive and uplifting discussion of love and labour. I find Scott’s use of “spiritual growth” as a tool to judge love somewhat exalted. For me, the desire to provide happiness and/or help is enough to qualify as love. Kindness, then, is an ingredient of love.

And one need not look so far and high as Mother Teresa for exemplary love. Somewhere around you is a mother that displays the same love, though in the restricted sphere of her children. When a child is conceived, the mother knows nothing of the child’s attributes. The child has done nothing for the mother. The child has not and cannot return any love until it is born and for a long time after that. And yet the mother will make significant sacrifices, smilingly take great pains for the betterment of her child. Yes, there is an attachment born out of possession here, but still, the expression of love happens without any real reciprocation by the child.

“Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.” ~Robert Heinlein

But, as we know from our own lives, it is uncommonly difficult to love. A loving soul is characterized by kindness and humility. A gentle disposition, a desire to help, and a desire to stay the course when there are no obvious reasons, are all ingredients of a loving soul. John Harrigan succinctly said, “People need loving the most when they deserve it the least.” In other words, what he is saying is that sometimes you will have to be able to love even without wanting to. And this is exactly where labour comes into the picture. It is easy to love someone who is ‘lovable’. But to be able to love any soul at any time, requires tremendous empathy and will. Most of us, including me, do not have the ability entirely. However, all of us have it in varying degrees. The more your capacity to love, the greater goodness you see around you.

I see love as a strong silk rope. Made with the strands of empathy, forgiveness, kindness, humility, goodness, acceptance, and hope. I believe true love is born out of the presence and practice of these faculties. We start with some mix of these traits and gain love. We then use that love and create more of each faculty, which in turn creates more love. The more you practise love, the more love you have to give. Such a beautiful cycle. True are the words of Mother Teresa. Once you know this, you also know that it is unwise to wait for love to happen first and everything else to follow. Love is not some magical, illogical, inexplicable emotion. That is infatuation. No, we start with some basic ingredients and cook love along the way. And then we serve love, with love.

“Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek & find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ~Rumi

Love is extremely self nourishing. Before your love benefits anyone, it benefits you. May no day pass without your soul being drenched in the healing powers of love.

 

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Filed under: Children,family,love,Me — gurdas @ :

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