Tag Archives: personal

Heathrow airport and a helping hand

IMG_07031230 hrs; 11 June 2015; Heathrow airport

After a 9 hour flight, I was standing restlessly in a long line to clear immigration at Heathrow airport. Lost in thoughts about catching the connecting flight to Edinburgh, at first I did not notice the tug on my sleeve. Sensing that someone was behind, I turned around to see a lady looking at me.  She was evidently in her late 50’s with numerous wrinkles on her face suggesting earlier hardships. In a low voice she gently requested me to fill up the immigration forms for her husband and herself. Hastily she added that neither she nor her husband could read or write any language, as they were from rural Nepal. It is then that I notice the shy gentleman standing quietly behind her. It occurred to her, as I glanced at my wife, that an overwhelming majority of the husbands do the same. I requested her for her travel documents for the details. They had arrived by the Qatar Airways flight on a Nepalese passport with a return ticket to Kathmandu dated 15th July 15 –  a month later. I recalled that I had felt the first tremors of the earthquake in New Delhi while I was booking my hotel reservations for my stay in Bath. What a coincidence.

It was obvious that they would have trouble communicating with the immigration officer, so I asked them to stand in front of me. When their turn came, I deftly accompanied them to be their interpreter. Numerous questions followed and together we were able to answer them successfully. Or putting it more accurately, the lady provided the answers with a resolute look and a firm voice. I looked towards the husband a number of times with great empathy. She was definitely the decision maker in the family.

Why have you come to UK? asked the officer.

They had arrived to attend the wedding of their daughter answered the lady handing over the wedding card for his examination

Do you have return tickets? He asked.

They had return tickets to go back to Kathmandu answered the lady handing over the copy of return ticket.

What if their daughter was not outside to receive them? he was suspicious.

They looked at the officer with disbelief – after all such things did not ever happen in their society. Who would give away the hand of the daughter but the parents??!

But what if she did not receive them? Did they have money to stay in a hotel? persisted the officer

GBP 600 in various denominations were proudly counted and handed over to the officer.

The officer looked at me carefully and then asked if I knew them from before?

Holy Molly No! I am just assisting them to make it easier for the officer and the couple to complete the immigration formalities.

He smiled at me and asked them to proceed out of the immigration area. I asked them to wait for me just beyond.

I joined them shortly thereafter & accompanied them for their baggage claim. We searched the baggage claim area but could not find their red suitcase. I had to catch my connecting flight and the rest of the family was waiting me to join them. So after a few minutes of clarifying & getting the reassurances from the gentlemen at baggage claim department, I left them to find their lost baggage.

My wife was impatient by then and I feared the worst.

‘Your daughter has forgotten her phone in the aircraft’ she said before walking off in a huff with the daughter. I was relieved but the daughter looked distraught………afterall there is no life without What’s app and selfies!

It was gratifying to help someone who desperately needed some in a strange land. But what struck me was the resilience of the couple and their struggle to raise money for the trip – whatever be the reason. The determination to handle a long journey to a strange land with a strange language and culture.

There were few lessons for me

  • don’t crib just because life gets a bit difficult at times, others have bigger challenges.
  • count your blessings every day for the privilges you have.

The Happiness Series : #3 ‘Simple Principle’

This is the third blog in ‘The Happiness series’ in which ‘Love’ & ‘Passion’ were covered. Once the series is completed, perhaps we will have created a ‘Happiness Bracelet’ which each of us can own for a happier self & world around us

 #3  ‘Simple Principle’

Pursuit of wealth to acquire greater material comfort, occupies our mind space disproportionately. We harbour an opinion- that greater the physical comfort, the more is our happiness. Unfortunately in my opinion this is incorrect, as creature comfort is a temporary feeling of fulfilment. Why is it so?………..Because a feeling of wellbeing lasts till we identify our next reason for dissatisfaction, despite having no cause for complaint, or till we tire of the comfort we have acquired. The cycle repeats itself and we again feel unhappy and so strive to be wealthier.  The outcome of this is that we are continuously pre occupied with our attempts to acquire more material pleasure.  Consequently we don’t pause in our routine stride to spend a few moments looking around us.

I had been no different and kept acquiring more expensive toys with growing affluence. Each car and gizmo was more expensive than the earlier to achieve happiness. Each time there was a feeling of accomplishment which lasted a few weeks or months. But one day, a few months back, I taking photographs in the back yard. While returning into the house, I saw the glass vase which was placed on the dining table. The sunlight through the window had lit up the vase full of flowers. It was a serene moment while nature was showcasing it’s splendour. It was not dramatic but I unexpectedly found myself appreciating a simple moment.

IMG_1729

There is a larger world out there, where the overwhelming majority are barely existing. They grateful for whatever little they have been given. The only choice they have, is to take pleasure from little moments because the dollar does not go far. Deriving the maximum joy out of life around us or inexpensive pursuits can be termed as the ‘Simple Principle’.

Make time to search for the simple moments around us and you will begin to learn that the essence of life’s simplicity. Gradually your life will become uncomplicated and instead of physical comfort you will experience the pleasure of happiness.

However be cautioned that ‘Simplicity’ is a state of mind which enables you to see what is not obvious – and it takes time to train ourselves to understand the ‘Simple Principle’. Go ahead and practise before time runs out……..it nearly did for me at around 1130 hrs on 1st July 2011.

The Happiness Series: #2 – ‘Passion’

This is the second blog in ‘The Happiness series’ in which one aspect ‘Love’ was discussed. Once the series is completed, perhaps we will have created a ‘Happiness Bracelet’ which each of us can own for a happier self & world around us.

#2 – ‘PASSION’

The dictionary defines passion as ‘strong amorous feeling or desire; love; ardor’, and most of us are of the opinion that we have experienced passion sometime in our lives. Unfortunately we tend to confuse ‘infatuation’ or strong ‘interest’ in some object or activity which captures our imagination momentarily. We spend considerable time and effort on examining the object of interest to learn more about our affinity for it. Once our initial curiosity is satisfied or there is some obstacle in sustaining it, most of us move on with the routine of their lives. But in the recesses of our minds , there is a continuous subconscious search for a passion to give meaning to our life. The questions that then need to answered is – how to identify a passion which will make us a happy person?

Experimentation with some aspects within our being, which lie latent in our thoughts, is the first attempt at identifying our passion. Sometimes it is a short indulgence which needs to be sustained for a while before it becomes a fulfilling habit. In my case it was an accidental stimuli which motivated me to write. There was a story to be told which I was postponing for years because of the perceived effort. It meant coming out of the comfort zone to face disappointments like poor writing skills, lack of readership and the effort for making time. After 2 months of sustained effort and numerous ‘writer’s blocks’, I was able to complete the book in mid February 2015 (an extract is on my blog tiled ‘6 Bananas – stepping stones to success’). I was happy at this accomplishment especially after a large part of the book was enjoyed by few serious readers. Today I am going to start the second book . I have discovered writing is an enabler and has ignited a passion which makes me happy. I am able to express myself freely and hope that my books influence people positively.

So my advice to everyone who desires a meaningful life is this –  search inside yourself and identify something which you always wanted to do or felt deeply about. Then set out to achieve it sincerely by focusing you efforts and mustering all resources you can. Don’t worry about the outcome and have the strength to withstand criticism because it ignites the passion even more. Passion could also be a service to the community like teaching (which I do) or helping the elders or anything else that makes a difference to someone’s life. It need not to be a Herculean task but those little things you do which brings a smile to the receivers.

Passion makes us focus ourself on the ‘giving’ aspect of our being – an infinitely pleasurable activity which makes you happy because it contributes to the society we live in and sometimes further beyond.