Open Doors' Blog

Follow me!

Posted in Uncategorized by Open Doors on September 13, 2012

Follow me!

Dad and mum need to be around to show us the way. And they must remember that we start following very young. Set us on the path of wise living which are guaranteed to be pleasant and peaceful, unlike the path of foolish living which will leave us distressed and anxious. Left, right, left, left, right, left….. come on and follow him!!!


Phrendz….. :-)

Posted in Uncategorized by Open Doors on April 2, 2012

Making friends is no rocket science for me. I have special friends everywhere. it is a way of life for me, collecting friends. I have friends almost everywhere,  friends who are vendors at our local market. They are  special; we share news with each other before business is transacted. The guy who mans the Fresh n Honest coffee kiosk at Churchgate station is my friend. He see me approaching, and gets  me my regular, sugar free, extra strong coffee. Then there are others like the waiters at Tea Center, rickshawallas, fellow travelers I meet in 9.05 Virar local, the cashier at the Bank, the list can go on. I remember going to work one morning only to realize that I had left my money purse at home! I got off the train, absolutely worried, no money to either go back home, or take a cab to the office. Besides, there was no one at the office that day to lend me some money. As I stood there in utter panic, one of my ‘phrendz’ came to my rescue. The lady who sells fruit at the entrance of the Station looked at me and said, “Auntie, kya hua? (what’s the matter?)”…… I just needed that one gesture of concern….and in no time I had enough money to go back home. No IOU was required…just a good friend in my time of need.  

After all these years, it is now evident to me that friends do mean  much more than just fun together. It is one of the  fundamental human needs. The severe form of punishment even in our prison system is, solitary confinement, where there is no access to friends. The prisoner gets food, clothing and shelter, but no friends. I think that it would be apt to describe hell as a place that has  no friends. It is easier to comprehend a friendless setting than a fiery one. Our mortal bodies would be consumed by the fire….but would be tortured endlessly in a friendless place….  and that could be hell of an experience!

When the chips are down and I feel really low, that’s when I feel the need for a friend. I don’t any counsel, or advice….. I just need to giggle and let my soul breath.  There are other times, when I have just discovered something new or beautiful or even witnessed something awful and sad, I need to phone a phrend and share my wonder or grief, Well, friends come in all sizes and shapes and colors. But they all bring to  the relationship the warmth and the strength to cope with any trial along the way. It is interesting that as we move on in life, sometimes, some of our family members also become like friends……:)  

Rabbi Harold Kushner, elaborately describes this in his observations: 

I was sitting on a beach one summer day, watching two children, a boy and a girl, playing in the sand. They were hard at work building an elaborate sand castle by the water’s edge, with gates and towers and moats and internal passages. Just when they had nearly finished their project, a big wave came along and knocked it down, reducing it to a heap of wet sand.

I expected the children to burst into tears, devastated by what had happened to all their hard work. But they surprised me. Instead, they ran up the shore away from the water, laughing and holding hands, and sat down to build another castle.

I realized that they had taught me an important lesson. All the things in our lives, all the complicated structures we spend so much time and energy creating, are built on sand. Only our relationships to other people endure. Sooner or later, the wave will come along and knock down what we have worked so hard to build up. When that happens, only the person who has somebody’s hand to hold will be able to laugh.”

I want to treasure my phrendz, the general ones, the special ones, the extra special ones, and the very close ones,  for a long, long time…..  No more delays in  resolving issues or reconciling relationships. Echoing the Donkey in the movie Shrek, I want to say that  livin’  la vida loca (living this crazy life)  is  going to be bearable only if I  have my phrendz.with me. Viva la vida , with all my Phrendz!!!! (more…)


Posted in Uncategorized by Open Doors on March 3, 2012

Some years ago on a hot summer day in south Florida a little boy decided to go for a swim in the old swimming hole behind his house. In a hurry to dive into the cool water, he ran out the back door, leaving behind shoes, socks, and shirt as he went. He flew into the water, not realizing that as he swam toward the middle of the lake, an alligator was swimming toward the shore.

 His mother, in the house was looking out the window, saw the two as they got closer and closer together. In utter fear, she ran toward the water, yelling to her son as loudly as she could. Hearing her voice, the little boy became alarmed and made a U-turn to swim to his mother.

It was too late. Just as he reached her, the alligator reached him. From the dock, the mother grabbed her little boy by the arms just as the alligator snatched his legs. That began an incredible tug-of-war between the two.

 The alligator was much stronger than the mother, but the mother was much too passionate to let go. A farmer happened to drive by, heard her screams, raced from his truck, took aim and shot the alligator. Remarkably, after weeks and weeks in the hospital, the little boy survived. His legs were extremely scarred by the vicious attack of the animal. And, on his arms, were deep scratches where his mother’s fingernails dug into his flesh in her effort to hang on to the son she loved.

 The newspaper reporter who interviewed the boy after the trauma, asked if he would show him his scars. The boy lifted his pant legs. And then, with obvious pride, he said to the reporter, “But look at my arms. I have great scars on my arms, too. I have them because my mom wouldn’t let go.”

 You and I can identify with that little boy. We have scars, too. No, not from an alligator, or anything quite so dramatic. But, the scars of a painful past. Some of those scars are unsightly and have caused us deep regret. But, some wounds, my friend, are because God has refused to let go. In the midst of your struggle, He’s been there holding on to you. The Scripture teaches that God loves you. If you have Christ in your life, you have become a child of God. He wants to protect you and provide for you in every way.

 But sometimes we foolishly wade into dangerous situations. The swimming hole of life is filled with peril – and we forget that the enemy is waiting to attack. That’s when the tug-o-war begins, and if you have the scars of His love on your arms be very, very grateful. He did not – and will not – let you go. Time is a very precious gift of God; so precious that it’s only given to us moment by moment.

 — Author Unknown


Making it to the end…

Posted in Uncategorized by Open Doors on February 18, 2012

“The creek is not very big.

It lies at the bottom of a small gentle slope that is covered with rocks of all sizes.  Once you get down the slope and get to the edge of the creek, it’s only one big jump to make it across.  In the wider spots you can step across on a few boulders if you have good enough balance.   Cade’s buddies were across it in 3.5 seconds. Like I said, it’s a small creek.

But for Cade it might as well be a ten mile gorge . . . A year and a half ago, Cade would be on the other side just as fast as his buddies.   But that was a long time ago. Moments like these serve as a difficult reminder for us.  A reminder of just how far Cade still has to go.   The amount of balance and coordination to get down that slope; to step from rock to rock in order to cross the creek; to climb up the other side; and then to be independent enough to be left alone with his pals to go explore the wood that lies on the other side . . . Not yet.   Not for a long time.

Cade doesn’t say anything about it. He doesn’t even seem sad. But I have to wonder if he thinks about it.   On this particular day the solution was obvious . . . We held his hand tightly and carefully began the journey.

Sometimes he stumbled.

Sometimes he didn’t.

Sometimes I carried him.

Sometimes I didn’t.

In the end, we made it. . . . And his buddies were waiting for him on the other side.

God is good all the time.” 

That was an extract from the Journal of Mike Spinello, a primary school teacher from California. A year and a half back, his 5-year-old little boy, Cade was diagnosed with tumor in his brain. The medical intervention left the little Cade partially paralyzed and with impaired vision and many other disabilities. But Mike and Erin, are parents of a different mettle. There was no question of giving up or sulking. They had one single mantra as the back bone of their daily journal – God is good all the time. I have been reading through their posts daily. There have been days when I was down and feeling not  so good, and my inbox would have another story of this little brave kid, pressing on with his daily tight routine of chemotherapy, physiotherapy, playtime with his baby sister, learning to talk and walk all over again…. And the little video clippings, that Mike attaches ever so often, would snap me out of the meaningless meanderings of my morbid mind. I would draw inspiration from this 5-yr-old and get back to learning at this age!! After all, God is good all the time

Sometimes we stumbled.

Sometimes we didn’t.

Sometimes He carried us.

Sometimes He didn’t.

In the end, we made it.

Mike and Erin Spinello, I have never met them, but the jottings in their journal about little Cade tells me that they are the kind of parents I would want my children to become. The kind that will make every uphill climb a fun experience for their little ones, and every little victory spectacular, and most importantly, walk the journey with their children personally. They draw their strength from their faith in a God who is their Father and so their mantra, God is good all the time.  Someday you guys are going to hear the words “Well Done!” from your Good God.Until then, keep up the good work, Mike and Erin…. you have a huge audience watching you as a family!!

FEAR of crowing cocks and zzzzing mosquitoes….

Posted in Uncategorized by Open Doors on February 11, 2012

There was once a lion who feared nothing, except the crowing of cocks. A chill would go down his spine whenever he heard a cock crowing.One day he confessed his fear to the elephant, who was greatly amused.“How can the crowing of a cock hurt you, O, King of the Jungle?” he asked the lion. “Think about it!” Just then a mosquito began circling the elephant’s head, zzzzz…zzzz…zzzz…. frightening him out of his wits.“If it gets into my ear I’m doomed!” he shrieked, flailing at the insect with his trunk.Now it was the lion’s turn to feel amused…:) 🙂 

If we could only see our fears as others see them, we would realise that most of our fears make no sense!

I could list out a dozen or more  of my fears and I am sure that most of them are silly fears.

Fear does nothing more than stop us from reaching the destination that are already purposed for in our lives. If I had to describe Fear, then it would called an obstacle with a scary face. Fear is over rated, Mr.Lion forgets that this loud, crowing bird is only a starter for his big, happy meal and Mr.Jumbo Elephant missed a tiny detail,  that a zzzzzzzzzzzzzzing mosquito wouldn’t survive a dizzy flap of his massive ears. Fear blinds us to our potential and thus limits us unbelievably. It is the enemy of our souls. It freezes at the face of risk. It leaves us feeling empty and useless. 

The Bible has 366 different verses spread out all through with ‘Fear not’ in it.One encouraging verse for every single day of the year. Interesting to note that there is one even for the leap year! 

I have jotted down a game plan here… let’s call it Shobha’s road to Fearlessness….:) 🙂 

  • Start by wearing a T shirt with these words: DON’T LET THEM SCARE U!!!
  • Next, believe what is written on your T shirt, and don’t let anyone scare you…:)
  • Well, now, you are at least on a different path…away from fear.
  • Go through your checklist, whatever it may be.
  • Recheck your safety gear, make sure that you have it all tied or  buckled or  zipped or filled or practiced, or whatever it takes to be safe and tell yourself that you can do it.
  • Finally, squash that fear with a lot of zeal and take the plunge!!!

It is time to cut off those cords and let yourself fly, or dive, or launch, or run, or step on stage or whatever it is…. it is time to throw off that heavy cloak of fear and do  that which FEAR had stopped you from doing.

Let me assure you…. that it is indeed an exhilarating experience, to live fearlessly.

Jo dar gaya woh mar gaya!!! (He who fears, is already a dead man!)

Who could have prevented Falak from bein

Posted in Uncategorized by Open Doors on January 30, 2012

Who could have prevented Falak from being abused?
Baby Falak – “the Sky” – is still in AIIMS battling for her life. Doctors say that she maybe brain damaged for life. This has been the most horrific report on atrocities against children in the recent years. The 14-yr-old who brought her in to hospital, has been placed in the juvenile home. Two children against whom such terrible deeds have been done.

While the nation makes such loud statements of injustice against children, what are we doing about it? Frantic search for the key suspect is going on. But the perpetrators are more than one. What about the parents of Baby Falak and the nameless teen who brought her in? Has there been a missing report filed in some police station? or are these street kids? Every street kid is exploited and abused in every way. That is an accepted norm on the streets of every metro city. Does this mean that the children in the middle and upper class are safe from abuse? Not at all. Sexual Abuse is the shame of urban India!

As a Family Life Trainer, I have seen how reluctant people are, to enrol for sessions on Parenting. Consequences of poor parenting can be seen 15 to 20 years from now, but by then, it will be too late to do anything. Prevention is the best remedy for this malady. Having Parenting Programs at regular intervals and strengthening Neighborhood communities will create a safe environment for our children. The absence of a moral community is also making it vulnerable for our young ones. Where are our children safe at all? At home? On the streets? In another country? Where can our children live in absolute safety? The recent reports of the two Indian children being siezed by the Norwegian Socialworkers again highlights the vulnerability of our children. In the pretext of their safety, Itwondian children have to live separately with strangers. While the media is badgering the Norwegian authorities, what is the assurance our Child Protection policies are good?

Many of our children are now sent off to a creche or a babysitter during the day. In fact, the front page of today’s Hindustan Times carries a news titled “New night life for Mumbai’s parents and children”. This is about a night Creche called ‘ Over the Moon’ where the up-market parents can leave their children to be cared for by a trained psychologist while they party, dine or even enjoy a date night. While this is a surely a good option for working mothers, we must know where to draw the line. If our children spend most of their time with others and not with us, parents, then there is an imbalance which will be seen in the kids. They will grow up without a wholesomeness that comes when we, as parents, are there to show them the way.

Abraham Lincoln said, “there is but one way to train up a child in the way he should go, and that is to travel it yourself.” Parents need to be there before their children, so that they can see them walk the talk. It is easy to imitate when you have a role model before you.
It is also important for parents to consciously create memories for their children. Memories are more important than things. A child retains memories of his early experiences and then tries to embrace them as an adult. I wish, as parents we would work hard to create lasting memories for our children. It is the road trips, marketing with mummy, or repairing an old bicycle, or changing tyres with papa, or sitting side by side at the barber shop with your son, that actually creates valuable memories.

I met a young man recently called Balaji. We spent sometime together and he told me his story over a cup of chai. He doesn’t remember his real name. He only remembers living on the streets of mumbai and he changed his name whenever he got tired of it. He was introduced to drugs at a very young age, got used to stealing and petty crimes and moved on to bigger ones, like selling drugs. He has no memory of his parents, family, culture or background. The street was his home, and…

and the other boys with him were his buddies. Everybody had to fend for himself. You don’t trust anybody on the streets. Balaji was lucky, he met some voluteers from an NGO who  rescued him. Today he lives in a safe place with other boys from similar backgrounds. He is preparing for his school final exams. He is making the best of lost time. He is being trained by a professional Music teacher. He plays the guitar well. He is part of a band that has already gone to the USA twice and he speaks English with a definite and deliberate American accent. However, with a little prodding, he was able to speak tapori Hindi fluently. As we were winding up our chat, I asked him if he was thinking of changing his name again. He smiled and said that it was not going to happen anymore, because, now he has a passport and all his documents have ‘Balaji’ as his name.  That is when I realised that a street kid doesn’t even have a name that is lasting. What about Falak? This is a name given to her by the nurses at the hospital.


What would Falak have for memories? As of now, she stands the danger of being mentally disabled for life. What memories would this nameless 14-year old have? Are we consciously parenting our kids to inculcate values and virtues that will be lasting and sure to be passed on to the next generation? Are we in process of creating memories and history even as we live our busy and happening lives? or are we part of a world that is so fast and so advanced that we have little time to invest in our little ones. or are we part of system that is so programmed that we no longer have time for love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, gentleness, long suffering, sacrifice, caring and sharing brotherly love and other such qualities that are guiding lights to a good and safe living.


Where do we begin? and who do we begin with? Baby Falak would love to know what we think….. if only she could speak or squeak her thoughts. God help Baby Falak!!!

I am in this crowded local train heading

Posted in Uncategorized by Open Doors on January 25, 2012

I am in this crowded local train heading toward the city. It is the morning peak hour crowd. Traveling first class in the ladies compartment makes no difference whatsoever. I am trying my best, like many others around me, to make sure that my crisp sari doesn’t get crumpled. The last thing I would want right now is to get off this train looking like Raggedy Ann!
All of us wear neutral expressions on our faces and yet there is a kindred spirit that we share. We are strangers, but we are women. As the train slows down at the next station, a load of women get off while an equal number or more get in. The train begins to pull out, and the last passenger jumps in. ‘She’ is almost a head taller than all of us, in a red sari, draped on very provocatively, painted nails, flashy hairdo, shining jewelry and a loud,intimidating clap, with really large palms. This one is a hijra (eunuch). She begins to jostle her way into the train, clapping and demanding for some money in return for a blessing from her. Most of the women quickly give her some coins; it seemed to be the best way to get rid of her. I watched my fellow passengers helplessly giving her some money. We definitely didn’t share a kindred spirit with ‘her’. At the next station, he got off (sorry for being so undecided about my pronouns here), not before sticking his open palm at me for some money. Not me, I was not going to give this tall, strong, castrated man, in a red sari, anything, especially, when he is rude, mean and demanding. He made sure that he gave me one of his dirty stares….as a punishment. I was not troubled; after all, I was in a bad mood, but thankfully, in good company, with my fellow travelers. Nevertheless, I was glad that he got off.

I am, certainly , not biased towards eunuchs… but mean people put me off.

“How I look is not as important as how I act” – This is one of the gems of character building. Everyone has flaws, gender has no exception here. Personality flaws are flaws that can be rectified. Kindness, gentleness, generosity and compassion, and other similar softer qualities, are not necessarily gender biased. They are building blocks that determine character in a person, male or female.

I am reminded of another person who is often seen on these trains. Professor Sandeep Desai, neatly dressed, with a black rucksack on his back, he is an unassuming regular commuter. He runs two schools, a slum school in Mumbai and another one in rural Maharashtra. He moved from Marine Engineering to Corporate Management to Teaching. But on his daily commute he turns his compartment into a fundraising platform. He makes a crisp short presentation of his projects and pulls out a trasparent donation box and encourages people to help him finish his project, so that that the children in a slum or a remote village in Ratnagiri have a school to go to.This time the regular Mumbai commuter, doesn’t throw some coins in, but it is 100 and 500 ruppee notes that find their way into this donation box!!
Everytime there the media wants to showcase him, he reminds them “Please understand that the mission is more important. Please focus on our mission in your story, not me”.

If my character doesn’t add value to others or inspire others, then I become a nuisance to the society. We are measured not by what we own but by what we are inside of us. Inspiration doesn’t come because of achievements, it is found in the simplicity of living life. I don’t have to wait to reach the platform or a stage to perform… I am living on the ‘stage’. Every moment of my life is a display of who I am…Does my life create a desire in others to be likewise? or even marvel at what I am doing? Jeena yahan, marna yahan……I might as well do a good job at both.

Don’t We All? I was parked in front of

Posted in Uncategorized by Open Doors on January 13, 2012

Don’t We All?

I was parked in front of the mall wiping off my car. I had just come from the car wash and was waiting for my wife to get out of work. Coming my way from across the parking lot was what society would consider a bum. From the looks of him, he had no car, no home, no clean clothes, and no money. There are times when you feel generous but there are other times that you just don’t want to be bothered. This was one of those “don’t want to be bothered times.”
“I hope he doesn’t ask me for any money,” I thought.
He didn’t. He came and sat on the curb in front of the bus stop but he didn’t look like he could have enough money to even ride the bus.After a few minutes he spoke.
“That’s a very pretty car,” he said. He was ragged but he had an air of dignity around him. His scraggly blond beard keep more than his face warm.
I said, “thanks,” and continued wiping off my car.
He sat there quietly as I worked. The expected plea for money never came. As the silence between us widened something inside said, “ask him if he needs any help.” I was sure that he would say “yes” but I held true to the inner voice.
“Do you need any help?” I asked. He answered in three simple but profound words that I shall never forget. We often look for wisdom in great men and women. We expect it from those of higher learning and accomplishments. I expected nothing but an outstretched grimy hand. He spoke the three words that shook me.
“Don’t we all?” he said. I was feeling high and mighty, successful and important, above a bum in the street, until those three words hit me like a twelve gauge shotgun.
Don’t we all?
I needed help. Maybe not for bus fare or a place to sleep, but I needed help. I reached in my wallet and gave him not only enough for bus fare, but enough to get a warm meal and shelter for the day. Those three little words still ring true. No matter how much you have, no matter how much you have accomplished, you need help too. No matter how little you have, no matter how loaded you are with problems, even without money or a place to sleep, you can give help. Even if it’s just a compliment, you can give that. You never know when you may see someone that appears to have it all. They are waiting on you to give them what they don’t have. A different perspective on life, a glimpse at something beautiful, a respite from daily chaos, that only you through a torn world can see. Maybe the man was just a homeless stranger wandering the streets. Maybe he was more than that. Maybe he was sent by a power that is great and wise, to minister to a soul too comfortable in themselves. Maybe God looked down, called an Angel, dressed him like a bum, then said, “go minister to that man cleaning the car, that man needs help.”
Don’t we all?
-author unknown

Riding the Crest by Shobha Sreekumaran o

Posted in Uncategorized by Open Doors on January 3, 2012

Riding the Crest
by Shobha Sreekumaran on Tuesday, 3 January 2012 at 08:17
Even as most of us were recovering from the euphoria of the 31st night celebration and exhaustion of ushering in the New Year, I was shocked to numbness at the news of a tragic death of a young wife and mother of 2 small children. It was so sudden and unexpected, no time for goodbyes, no time to make amends, peace or compensations….life just snuffed out! I thought I was in recovery, and doing well, but I realize that I was only in remission. I just found myself sliding down into a pit of sadness, grief and anger. I had to get out of the room, get some fresh air to combat the suffocation and tighteness in my heart.
And as I walked the busy streets aimlessly, thinking …angrily, I realized there is very little that we are in control of. Life just happens. When, where, and how is not ours to decide. Living life with wisdom would be the smartest thing for anyone to do. Our days are numbered and alloted already. The ones not lived properly are chucked in the bin anyways, you don’t get a second chance to rectify them.

I wish I knew what my tomorrows would be like…. I wish I knew for sure that all I desire and dream of, would come to pass, I wish I that every trace of sorrow, darkness, disappointments and failure was removed from the face of this world, I wish I didn’t have to wait for so long for the pain to ebb away… It just came back, like an old pal and walked with me as if it was the right thing to do.
Some of our wishes stay as wishes…and these are some of them. But truths and wishes are different. The truth never changes, whatever be the situation. Thankfully, my life runs on truths and not on wishful thinking.

The truth is that the One who holds my tomorrow is able and He has seen my tomorrow before it has even dawned.
The truth is that through every moment of sadness and grief, it is possible to experience unending and unexplainable joy. A sense of humor is a gift from God. It is not just the ability to have a good laugh, it is the skill of dodging the pain that sorrow brings along. And as for suffering, they swell and subside on their own … they have a rhythm which is unique, something like the waves in the ocean. The faster we learn to accept that rhythm, the better we perform in the dance called life. And maybe, we would master the art of riding on the crest of these waves of suffering!

The truth is that in our best sanity we are like Tom Hanks in The Cast Away: ” I couldn’t even kill myself the way I wanted to. I had power over nothing……..We live and we die by time. And we must not commit the sin of losing our track on time. ” When I woke up this morning, and heard the birds on the tree, outside my window, I thanked God that I am alive. The chirping sparrows and squawking parrots seemed to be singing in harmony. I can still feel the pain, which means, I am alive and I am aware. The only prayer I have now, is to run this race, called life, till the finish line. The other option is to forget to run and still be on the race track…. bad option.

In the words of John Bevere :”…. trials and tests locate a person. In other words they determine where you are spiritually. They reveal the true condition of your heart. How you react under pressure is how the real you reacts.”

Ah ha…so is that the measuring technique? Bring it on…. I am going to make sure that I am found in a good place when those tests and trials come my way. While I am on the road to learning how to ride the crest of suffering or playing dodgeball with tests and trials, I guess it is ok to have a good cry on and off.

Happy New Year! Here is a good read abou

Posted in Uncategorized by Open Doors on January 2, 2012

Happy New Year!
Here is a good read about teaching our kids about Money Management.
Should you pay kids for chores?

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