Friday, November 29, 2013

Positivity Weekly Volume 1

Life is beautiful. The world is a wonderful place. It is teeming with amazing people who are capable of rising above their current limitations. We sometimes forget this empowering truth. Perhaps because most of our media bombard us with negativity most of the time. One notable exception to this was Good News India. Since that website took a break, I’ve been seeking a forum that reminds me that we have much to celebrate. So I’ve decided to create one. This forum is for me. And, of course, it is for you.

Starting now, Positivity Weekly will appear on this blog around the weekend. I will bring the best of news from any and every source I can access. I will include my own personal experiences, if they fit. And if you have any apt stories, anecdotes or insights to share, I will put them here with pride. In the long run, your participation will determine the quality of this initiative. Do write in with your contributions and feedback to And if you like this initiative, please share it widely.

News from the public domain


Micro-credit and honesty
Ever since Muhammed Yunus demonstrated the extraordinary potential of microfinance, it has become a buzzword in the development sector. The concept has also been embraced by a Bangalore-based techie couple Ram NK and Smita Ram. Inspired by the path-breaking movie Rang De Basanti, they founded Rang De, a non-profit start-up that aims to reach out to at least 45,000 unbanked people in the next two years with small ticket loans. What’s even more heartening is that they see a repayment rate of 99%. So this story is not only about an extraordinary couple, but also about the honesty with which unsung, underprivileged Indians lead their lives. For the whole story, please read DNA’s coverage here.

Hope outlives Yolanda
When super-typhoon Yolanda hit the Cebu province of the Philippines, my first concern was for my sister Mildred and her family. They are safe and sound.
And as always, a major natural disaster has given our brethren the opportunity to showcase the indomitable human spirit which lives within each one of us. Whether it’s physically-challenged Marvel who saved 7 of his relatives from sure death, Chicago-based 8-year-old David Basa who offered “Minion Hugs” to raise funds for the affected, Pinoy fishermen who rowed into the ocean on refrigerators because their boats had been damaged or Renee Puno’s account of receiving empathy and a 100-dollar bill from an aged Hong Kong gentleman… every episode drips with valour and generosity of spirit. Since such fine humans walk amongst us, we can safely conclude that the future of the species is in good hands.
Read all about these super humans here. And do discover more such stories on your own. They exist in abundance out there.

An ad that widens perspectives
Most of us have watched the Google Reunion ad about an Indian and Pakistani who got separated in their childhood due to the Partition. For your reference, you will find it here.
Amit Sharma, the director of this poignant film, tells us the story behind the story here. He informs us that “twelve tough guys” were teary eyed after experiencing this glimpse of everlasting love. Perhaps our desire for peace and companionship is so strong that we lose all our inhibitions when offered Aman ki Asha. Incidentally, Sharma’s interview has been hosted on Aman ki Asha’s website. This unique initiative, which unites citizens on both sides of the border, also has a platform on Facebook. If you like seeing so-called enemies bond with enthusiasm, you’ll want to belong in it.

As told to me

A novel trip
It’s easy to spot the courage and energy of my friend Akshaya. Recently, she went on a trip to Hyderabad and upon reaching the railway station, she negotiated a price of 100 rupees with an auto rickshaw driver. But once they began, he wanted 120. This was followed by a predictable dialogue. Then Akshaya chose to be innovative:
‘What do you want the extra 20 rupees for?’ she asked.
‘It will at least fetch me a cup of tea. You are the morning’s first customer,’ he replied.
‘So you’d like tea, right? I’ll buy you tea.’
As a result, the elderly driver and Akshaya became an unlikely duo that entered a roadside dhaba filled with other drivers and the like. They sipped strong Hyderabadi chai and shared a fleeting moment of oneness. The driver did not feel chastised or insulted. He perhaps acquired a new perspective on himself, his profession and his customers. And Akshaya got her cup of tea earlier than anticipated!
To me, this incident was a prime example of how we can rise above our own negative emotions in any given situation. I’d love to know what you got from it.

In conclusion

This weekend, I will travel to Madanapalle to witness firsthand the awe-inspiring work done by my good friend Priyam. Her silent contribution to primary healthcare and education in that geography is already transforming lives. So you can expect some truly remarkable stories next week. Meanwhile, others around the world are busy performing miracles. Meaning: another full house is on the cards.
Till then, may I request you to stay positive?

To view our next volume of Positivity Weekly, click here.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A heartwarming true tale

This happened to one of my best friends recently.
She went to a high-end salon to inquire about the cost of a haircut. The hairdresser came up to her, ran her fingers down my friend's hair and... froze.
'Are you taking medication for some cancer?' she asked.
My friend nodded silently, her eyes welling up with tears. She was not alone. The hairdresser's eyes, too, were welling up. A tender moment lingered over these two woman who, till a few moments ago, had not even set eyes on each other.
The moment passed. And was replaced by another, just as beautiful.
The hairdresser insisted that my friend take a comfortable seat and order a beverage of her choice (coffee). Ignoring my friend's feeble protests, she set about cutting her hair. Once she had given my friend a beautiful haircut, she took out a premium membership card and said:
'This is valid till December 2015. I'm sure you will be alive and well on that date. Come over again for your second free haircut.'
Stunned and humbled, my friend tried to convey her gratitude through words which, at that moment, felt unequal to the task. What an astonishing act of kindness!

'Such goodness exists in this world,' my friend told me.
'Perhaps the universe is sending back the kindness you sent out,' I told her, trying to make sense of a miracle using a well-known idea.
The incident is all the more remarkable because my friend was dealing with a sense of shock at recent events. She was questioning fundamental notions such as trust, friendship and sharing.
And out of the darkness came the hairdresser, almost as if she was asking her not to lose faith in humanity.

For me, too, this incident has come as a reiteration of a chosen belief. For a while now, I've believed that the world is not filled with good people or bad people. It is filled with people who have led unique lives that make them deal with their situations in unique ways. Sometimes, they react positively. Sometimes, they don't. And since we see both kinds of reactions simultaneously all around us, only our focus and our perceptions decide what we take away from the world. Perhaps we are given the power to make an active choice between seeing positivity or seeing negativity. If that is the case, can we use that power wisely?