Dadas’ Day Out! A Birding expedition!

I can hardly call it an expedition but 3 of us dadas (pronounced dad-aa and not daada) went to explore the biodiversity park in Gurgaon situated right next to the Guru Dronacharya metro railway station. An initiative of the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon & supported by quite a few corporate houses, the intent is to afforest more than 600 acres of previously illegally mined land.

The park is well laid out and has clearly marked trails to ensure you don’t get lost. It is also a good spot for birding as is evidenced by the pictures you see below:

Oh yes! we also did spot a male Nilgai strutting about & giving us a casual eye from time to time!

Hail Mary Full of Grace

Mother Mary
 Photograph Taken at Mar Gregorios Orthodox Church, Janakpuri, New Delhi

Hail Mary 
We ask you O the Saint full of glory 
the ever Virgin Theotokos 
the Mother of Christ 

We ask you to raise our prayers 
to your beloved son 
that He may forgive us our sins 

Hail to the Holy Virgin 
who bore for us the True Light, 
Christ our Lord 
Ask the Lord on our behalf 
to have mercy upon us and forgive us our sins. 

O Mary the Virgin Theotokos 
the holy and trusted intercessor of the human race, 
intercede for our sake 
before Christ whom you bore 
that He may grant us the forgiveness of our sins. 

Hail to you the Virgin 
the true and just Queen 
Hail to the pride of our race 
who for our salvation 
gave birth to Emmanuel 
We ask you, the trusted intercessor 
to remember us before our Lord 
Jesus Christ 
that He may forgive us our sins. 

From The Coptic Orthodox Agpeya(Book Of Hours)

The Lilies of the ground!

Flowers in the windPhotograph taken at Windflower resorts, Pondicherry, India

Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin;yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass which is alive in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O men of little faith!:

Luke 12:27-28

When faith Falls, False Preachers & god men thrive!

This was the topic of debate at the recently held Delhi Inter parish competition for Orthodox Christian students (MGOCSM), also known as Olive. Given the subject, I wanted to provide a personal perspective on the same coming from my background as an Orthodox Christian.

Proverbs 14:15-16 states “A simple man believes in every word, But an astute man comes to repentance. A wise man fears and turns away from evil. But a man without discernment persuades himself to mingle with a lawless man. “

Here simplicity refers to a man who is foolish, naive enough just like the man who built his house upon the sand. Building his foundation on a weak premise, what else did he expect but that the next storm would carry off his dwelling into oblivion? Today, unfortunate as it is, I see more of us being naive in faith versus our faith falling. Falling faith can be attributed to us as a society, but not to us as individuals. We don’t understand what it means to be an Orthodox Christian & like the musk deer that keeps seeking fragrance outside of itself, we look towards other denominations & seek a faith that we have barely tried to understand ourselves.

god men thrive in this environment. A combination of extreme individualism & emotional highs, after all, does seem appealing to most of us. The question to ask is, when did Christianity become about us and not God? When is it that our worship of God started getting defined by MY LANGUAGE, MY CONVENIENCE, MY TIMING, and MY DESIRES & WANTS? Is not God’s first & foremost commandment to LOVE HIM with all our heart, all our mind and all our soul first? When did that change to ‘LOVE MYSELF FIRST’?

It is this sense of individualism that corrupts our souls and makes us susceptible to ‘False Preachers’-god men who preach that who claim that all of our whims & desires are meant to be fulfilled by God, god men who preach that Christ is created, god men who preach that homosexuality, adultery, fornication is okay. Then there are those also who preach that we should hate the sin and hate the sinner as well. What kind of Christians are we, if we choose to judge others when our very lives are full of hypocrisy?

In Matthew 10:16 Jesus tells His disciples “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves’. Do not retaliate to those who do wrong to you but don’t be foolish in your understanding of the gospel such that others take advantage of you and lead you astray.

Yes, god men thrive but they thrive because we are naive, we are foolish.

I am no one to judge whether another denomination is right or wrong. However, as an Orthodox Christian, as belonging to the Church setup by Christ Himself, I know my way of faith is the true faith and hence, ORTHODOX (Ortha: True/Straight  Doxa: Path/Way). It does not just mean that I go to an Orthodox Church every Sunday. What it means is that I strive to live Orthodoxy every single moment of my life and it is about God, not me.

Ask yourself, what does it mean to be an Orthodox Christian? And keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking. For Christ himself says ‘Ask, and it shall be given you, Seek and ye shall find, Knock and the door shall be opened unto you’ (Matthew 7:7). Let us be the wise man, for he built his house on a rock firm foundation of faith, so that when the storm came, his dwelling was not damaged by it.

Be the Light to this World!

The Lighthouse

Photograph taken in Pondicherry, India

An inspiring illustration of shining Christ’s light to others occurred during WWII, when the Russians began their counter march against the Nazis. A young Nazi soldier found himself behind Russian lines.  He was bleeding from a gun wound in one arm.  Bewildered and afraid, he found his way into the home of a poor Russian peasant. She welcomed him into her humble home, and offered him food and rest.  He did not understand why she was so kind, since he was her enemy, but before he departed, he noticed how she would stand before her icons of Christ and the saints, praying. This soldier recalled years later, “I could see God living in that home, even though I had never known Him before. Before this, I believed that God didn’t exist, but that the State was my god. And this false god taught me to hate those who didn’t believe as I believed. Although I had never even seen a Bible in my life, no less read one, from the witness of that woman, I came to realize that God was alive because I saw Him in the life of that poor peasant woman.”

A short time later, as this same soldier attempted to find his way back to the German lines, he became lost and returned to the home of this friendly Russian woman, only to discover that her home had been burned down because of what she had done to help an enemy soldier. Well, the soldier did eventually find his way back to the German side, but he found his way back as a new man! He had seen the light of God! And following the war, he decided to dedicate his life to serving Christ and trying to share the light of Christ with others, all because he witnessed God’s love and mercy through this humble Christian woman! – This story is an excerpt of a sermon from here

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven – Matthew 5:14-16

Shhhhhpppplaaaaaaashhhhhhhh!

There are few things more irritating than people in cars splashing muddy water all over you. The situation can be even more annoying, if its raining & to avoid the pelting rain you’ve taken shelter in a bus stand and a callous driver drives by, making the most of the puddle in front of the bus shelter.

The helplessness of the situation, a combination of a bruised ego, a wet attire and an indifferent ‘prick’ driving away usually leaves you livid & a choice combination of expletives most assuredly follows the trail of the car

You feel offended, you feel violated. You’re wondering how in the world does a guy like that even manage a driving license. You might even choose to get even more personal: maybe it was inadequate parenting or maybe schooling…Whatever it be, the guy had to be lacking, right?

I, who consider myself to be fairly civilized, enlightened in the ways of ‘being human’, cultivated in etiquette, was an unfortunate participant in a similar episode that played out on a wet Sunday afternoon…and, however brash this may sound, I was the driver!

With Dengue playing out like one of the original 10 plagues, my mother-in-law (MIL) was also not spared & she had to be admitted in the emergency room of a hospital, not because it was an emergency but that it was the only remaining room in the hospice. As a dutiful & loving son-in-law, my core responsibilities included lending emotional & moral support to the family & ferrying food & family members between home & the hospital.

It was the responsibility of ferrying food that I was fulfilling when this regrettable incident occurred.  With the rain creating rivulets on my windscreen & the wipers working overtime, striking the optimum view was tricky. However, with the hazard indicators switched on & speed reduced to a snail’s pace, I was pretty confident that I was the epitome of a model citizen.

As I approached the turn to the hospital, I could see a number of people taking shelter in the bus stand. This crowd included people who were genuinely waiting for the bus, bikers (even their raincoats weren’t good enough for this downpour & frankly, I prefer having the bikers off the road!) & people who generally didn’t want to get wet. All huddled together in the temporary refuge, they made a sorry sight. While I did notice the bus shelter & the crowd, owing to the relatively clearer side windows, I failed to notice ‘The Puddle’ right in front of me (refer: rivulets, right balance etc..).

The Puddle, if it were a motion picture would have the baseline “The colossal”. Long & deep, thanks to the stellar efforts by the municipal corporation to harvest rain water, this mass of water was ‘clear & present danger’.

The reduced speed, originally meant to be a driving aid, now became my worst enemy. The car’s pace was optimum. Optimum enough to splash maximum water on all the unsuspecting bystanders. While the written equivalent of a splash is ‘Splash!’, this particular splash might be more aptly put into sound as ‘shhhhhpppplaaaaaaashhhhhhhh’

As I slowly passed through the length of the bus shelter, I could hear cries of shock ,of being confounded at the monstrosity of what I had done. An entire mass of people who thought they had made the best decision in that moment of time had obviously been proved wrong.The very space that was meant to be a refuge from the rain had become a mass shower room for them. While I hope some may have welcomed the unexpected splash, I am assuming most would not have been open to the idea.

Looking back through the rear window, I tried to get a glance at the mess I had created but was granted mercy by the very rains that had led to the creation of the puddle. Slightly perturbed but largely nonchalant, I continued my way.

PS: I humbly apologize to all who were at the receiving end of the splash. I have also learnt not to be too judgmental of driving errors, especially ones which involve splashes

Have Courage my friend!

Amidst the waves

                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Photograph taken at Pondicherry,India

“Do not be surprised that you fall every day; do not give up, but stand your ground courageously. And assuredly, the angel who guards you will honor your patience.” St. John of the Ladder