The Screen -Age

Remember how we’ve listened to the many history classes on the Stone Age, then how fire was discovered and the next couple of decades was about the Fire Age and then the Iron Age, and so on till we listened in wonder to how the many discoveries of man finally brought us to the present era called the Information age or the Digital media Age?

Well, I’m not going to bore you with a history lesson, but I’d like to share a realisation that dawned on me recently.

So, I was sitting in the canteen having tea, and just generally looking around. There were atleast five other colleagues sitting around in the same room who had come for a break as well. And what caught my attention was the fact that pretty much all of them , all of them had their noses buried in their phone screens. I sat and watched. Maybe , they were looking something up I thought and carried on. No one noticed that I came in, no one noticed that I left.

Later that day, as I was walking back from work , down the beautiful, flower petal laden lanes of the hospital campus, the deafening silence bothered me. In a place that once rang with voices of laughter, of people greeting each other and sharing random stories of patients they’d seen that day or a request for prayer or some experience of sorts, what remained was a bunch of people young more than the older ones, walking around with their eyes glued to the screens of their fancy phones. I saw more head-tops than faces, more glazed eyes, than eyes shining with joy, more zoned out people than real human beings.

And in my mind I thought- God, so this is the Screen- Age.

This is not a one day experience, but a daily one; not just a single-center experience ( as we call it for thesis sakes), but this is what we see everywhere, ain’t it?? Please tell me if I’m wrong. In buses, trains, at bus stops, in cafeterias, during that wee lil time we get a break from work, even in our homes, while we walk, while we eat and just before we sleep, and every single minute we can squeeze in to accommodate more screen time with this gadget we carry around.

Someone has to Whatsapp you to get your attention or post a status update or ‘like’ a post on any of the social media!

It really got me thinking- So what is the deal with these screens? How come they’ve enslaved us so much so that we have become a generation of introverted, insensitive people? What are we gonna pass on to the next generation? Smarter phones? How smart is that?

We’d rather scroll through random status updates than lift our eyes up and strike a conversation with the person sitting right in front of us. We’d rather look through youtube videos of no eternal consequence than share an experience with a colleague. We’d rather tighten the muscles of our thumbs with constant aimless scrolling than extend a hand to a person in need, or go for a run with a friend, or spend some time with family, or read a good book- Oh wait! How would we know that unless we look around right?

Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve only lived almost three decades here on Earth, and I already prefer the sound of singing and talking, to the sound of constant typing, I’d prefer looking at someone’s face than the top of their head, I’d rather hold someone’s hand and walk than be too engrossed in using both my hands to support my expensive gadget called the smartphone to type out something. I’d rather enjoy the sunset or the sunrise or simply the blue sky than all the brightness the phone screen could offer.

So there, I’ve made my point. Let’s make that effort to move out of the bubble that we create around ourselves, look up , reach out and enjoy the reality that God naturally ordained us to enjoy than the virtual reality we’ve created which does our body no good.

Get to know your neighbour’s name, go feed his fish, strike up a conversation with the colleague sitting opposite you, hold someone’s hand and pray with them. Do something, anything other than staring at that screen in front of you.

Look Up, Laugh, Breathe, Live…Embrace the beauty of creation, the glory of God your Creator, and Worship!

"Give me your eyes (Jesus) for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see,
Everything that I keep missing,
Give your love for humanity.
Give me your arms for the broken-hearted
The ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten.
Give me Your eyes so I can see"
Give me Your eyes- Brandon Heath

Broken and beautiful…

I know you’re probably uprolling your eyes at the title. ‘Oh please’- you must be saying, ‘It’s so cliche.’ Yeah, I agree, but since you’re here, do endure to the end of this.

Let me introduce another term to you – Dysfunctional- a word most of us are familiar with- and probably identify with. Atleast I do- dysfunctional individual, family, relationships, lives. So if you have one or all of the above in your life- does that mean there’s no hope? Or is that your identity? Or is that the excuse?

And beneath most of this ‘dysfunction’ we see brokenness- broken dreams, broken hopes and desires, broken trust , broken homes. And a bunch of people who don’t know where to go with these broken pieces.

So I accidentally broke a glass bottle the other day, gathered the big ugly shards of glass, put them together near the window, thinking I’ll discard them later (irresponsible- I know!). Guess what I wake up to the next morning? The sunrays dancing colours through those broken pieces, and more brilliantly through the sharpest, ugliest parts of the broken pieces- it was a beautiful sight to behold! I stood and stared and smiled – magnificent work of art ( no, not me breaking the bottle- that was plain carelessness). Deep, I thought. Who ever thought that these ugly looking seeemingly useless , dysfunctional glass pieces would be a cause of wonder anymore?!!

It’s this thought that’s been there on my mind in the recent past, probably a result of all the stories I’ve been hearing or what I myself have been going through with the different people and situations I’ve encountered.

All of us in some way or the other, have encountered brokenness- broken hearts, trust that was betrayed , relationships that never stood their stead, families that fell apart, desires that never saw the light of day and dreams that were torn to pieces. We’ve had those moments where we’ve felt so hopeless and so broken that we doubt we can be of any good any more. While I do not have the answers to why these things happen, something God taught me through those glass pieces was this- When you let the Son of God shine through that brokenness, through that dysfunctional state of yours, you’ll see a different kind of beauty arise from those ugly shards of shatteredness ( now this may be an original word)- brilliant colours in what was once dull and grey. All it takes is to surrender the brokenness to the One who makes all things whole.

The funny thing about the God of the Bible is, He specialises in working with broken people, people written off by their own loved ones, people who thought all their dreams and hopes had ended, people from dysfunctional families and basically anyone who has nothing to offer but his/her broken state. So if you and me are at this place in life where we have nothing to offer but our broken, dysfunctional selves- that’s exactly how Jesus wants you. You’re home with Him. Surrender, and then stand back and watch the light shine through.

“All these pieces
Broken and scattered
In mercy gathered
Mended and whole
But not forsaken
I’ve been set free..”( Broken vessels/Amazing grace- Hillsong)

The Choice Explosion

The other day I was looking at an old photograph, and reminiscing with a couple of my folks about how that picture would’ve been taken. Back in the days, when taking photographs was a more expensive and emotionally draining affair- you pose/ are made to pose, then click carefully, you’re not sure if the photo has come out right or if you blinked or if you didn’t smile well enough or if there was some food in between your teeth – and when your dad goes to the studio to get it processed and printed, you’re waiting by the telephone at home for that call from the studio accusing you of having wasted one click! Because you shook or had not focussed properly or closed your eyes and ruined a perfect picture or whatever- depending on whichever side of the camera you were on! Remember those days?? I see you smiling pal.

If you’re born before or in the’90s I’m pretty sure you would’ve all had your moments with ‘Fujifilms’ – as compared to today when we can click, multiple clicks, then erase, then edit and all that jazz before we decide on whether to print it out or just leave it on the hard disk- see that? The number of choices we get to make over a simple photograph in itself has increased- whether to click once more, whether to change positions and take again, whether to focus in or focus out, whether you want the background blurred or the foreground blurred, and so on.

We say we live in times of information explosion, of artificial intelligence explosions, population explosion and all kinds of explosions – but what we are knowingly or unknowingly being exposed to is also a choice explosion.

I was just wondering the other day, how complicated we’ve made our own lives out to be ! Now think of having dinner- simple everyday affair- – the choices begin with are we dining out or ordering in? You want continental or Chinese? Red gravy or no gravy? and so on, till we make that discovery for the upteenth time in our existence that actually, I don’t know man! I just want some food .

From these small billion choices to the bigger ones that define our lives, what do we do when we are bombarded with options and asked to choose?

I’ve been thinking about it for some time now- Crazy right?? Increasing the number of options has not made choosing any easier. It’s not simplified anybody’s lives, come to think of it! Please nod your head if you agree.

Somebody rightly said, one day of your life is the sum total of all the big and small choices that you make that day- right from what time you decide to wake up and so on. So that means your entire life is constituted by the sum total of the big and small choices that you make! That’s kinda scary. And it’s actually a big deal to choose well.

One of my professors the other day, while making fun of a colleague about not being married yet, told him, ‘Its okay if you take some time- but choose right and choose well. ‘ As we laughed and pulled his leg a little more, I realised the truth behind what she conveyed.

The small choices are a big deal- and they play a big role in the bigger choices. So as I was praying and pondering over this the other day- about the different choices I’ve to make as I stand at crossroads, this one thought was all that came to mind- there’s actually only one thing you need to choose, and it’s a daily choice- Choose today whom you will serve- the King who is your God, or the world and its demands? That quiet , still, comforting voice from above with that gentle prod on my heart. Choosing the former would mean surrendering my time, my work and my worship to Him….and all the smaller choices I make thereof. Choosing to serve Him would also mean my joy and my affirmation come from Him.

I chose the former, thereby the smaller choices that follow have become simpler, definitely not easier. And I choose that for today, for tomorrow, for every following day of my life.

How much are you weighed down by the choice explosion in your life?

Joshua 24:15

… choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (ESV)

Not fair!!

“How much is it?’ I asked the auto driver as I bargained for a ride to the railway station to pick up a friend. “200 rupees ma’am.” He said without batting an eyelid.”That’s not fair!”I screamed in my head. For 7.2 kms? However, after the battle in my head as to whether I should walk away or bargain (a skill I’m pathetic at!), or just give in, I decided to concede, considering my options of getting another ride was quite bleak at that late hour.

How many times have we felt cheated and said that phrase either in our heads or out loud? If you ask me, the sky would have to serve as the blackboard if I were to start counting.

Yeah it’s not fair that you got screamed at for no fault of yours, it’s not fair that your colleague who does nothing absolutely manages to walk off on time while you’re stuck trying to mop up, it’s not fair that you have to wait longer than others for a breakthrough in your life, it’s not even fair that the your mom’s cooking amazing food at home while you have to make do with the excuse of a meal they’re serving in your hostel , it’s not fair that people your same age are travelling countries and seeing places while you’re still trying to catch that one precious hour of sleep wondering whether you’ve missed anything that your senior might pick on tomorrow morning for rounds, it’s not fair that that mother who waited the longest to have a baby finally lost that child to a drowning accident….I could go on. So could you. Every single day, we have these multiple moments when we think- Oh that’s so not fair!

I’ve been thinking a lot on those lines recently too- with a few recent happenings, I’ve thought- Why should I deserve this? Why isn’t God, being a just God, not doing anything? What have I done to be going through all of this? Why isn’t fire raining down from heaven on all this injustice?

And as I’ve been walking around wrestling in my heart with the Almighty for answers to these questions, He put this thought in my mind. Yeah, so life is not fair. Who said it was anyways?

So you loved and they never loved back; you cared, but they couldn’t care less; you worked hard, but you just got more work in return; you tried hard, nobody noticed; you fell, people just passed by; you were being nice, they took advantage; you were there when they needed a shoulder but you had a rock to cry on- so what do you do? After you’re done with the complaining and the chanting of the phrase that it’s not fair, what do you do?? After the blood boils and the emotions rise and fall?

Now that’s where God stepped in and reminded me of this song that said ‘I am a child of God’. How does that make anything different? It doesn’t change anything or anyone else but it changes something inside of me. Reinforces my identity in Him.

Even if nothing changes, you continue to love, continue to care,continue to work hard, continue to lend your shoulder, continue to share your heart and your life- for you belong to the God who sits on His throne and who watches over you like nobody, mind you, nobody else can. You are His own- the apple of His eye.

And He will see to it that justice is measured out to you- at some point of time when He thinks is perfect and it will be beautiful.

He knows.

What do you think?

The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry (Psalm 34:15)

Carpe Diem!

The chapel bell had rung, heralding in the New Year, we stood in darkness for a bit with lit candles, closing our eyes in prayer, a range of emotions flooding each mind, as the first day of the next year dawned. Yes, a new year, renewed hopes, promises for a better tomorrow and newer desires to be fulfilled, another chance at life.

However, that effect didn’t last long as my phone rang by evening the next day with the distressed call of a close friend losing her beloved child to an illness and fighting for some way to keep her alive.We lost her the day after.

But she was not the only person we’d mourned in the past couple of weeks. Over the past few days, as the calendars changed and the Christmas decorations came off to make way for another year, a few of my close ones lost their dear relatives as well- sudden, untimely departures- without much of an opportunity to say farewell. As  my heart went out to them as they mourned, I was reminded about this gift of life that God has given us- actually more like today. We have today. I don’t know about tomorrow. That’s the frailty of the life that we hold on to. It’s really not ours to keep.

And while we think about a new year and new resolutions( I’m not sure if people do that anymore!) and new beginnings, let’s think about today. The today that you and I have is all that we’ve got. I’m not sure if I’ll have a tomorrow. But if you ask me, I think today is good enough to look around and tell your dear ones that you love them, to give your friend/ colleague a hug, to spend a little time with that junior of yours who looks a little overwhelmed, to reach out to that patient and just hold her hand for a while letting her know you care, to maybe finally forgive that person (who in your opinion should ideally be lynched), to make that phone call you’ve been postponing, to release a bit of ego and just smile – ‘cos actually you never know when you’ll get that opportunity again.

And though life is such a delicate affair, the Author of it all knows the exact number of days and moments right to the millisecond where I’m writing this and you’re working your way through these words. We can rest assured knowing He holds today!

So friend!, like they say in Latin ( and obviously we need translation)- Carpe Diem- Seize the day! Make it count. Live the blessing that is today.

Psalm 103:15-17 English Standard Version (ESV)

15 As for man, his days are like grass;
    he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
    and its place knows it no more.


I was walking down the hospital corridors the other day when it suddenly dawned on me that it is already December. As I saw the decorations fill the corridors and wards and the rice bulbs light up the streets in different colours , I realised with a damp feeling in my heart that it’s the ‘Christmas season’ as they call it and I wasn’t really feeling all that Christmasy , if you know what I mean!

The thing about these last couple of months of the year is that whether you like it or not, the lights come up, carols are heard all over the place, the wards are decorated, the streets are lit up and you’re part of many dinner parties and what not. It’s like you’re supposed to be happy and in full on celebration mode, and you’re not allowed to sulk regardless of whether the constitution of your country states that you have the freedom/right to feel whatever way you want or not. Its almost like the season forces itself on you, and all that joy ultimately rubs off.

So when a few of my friends decided to play this game of ‘Secret Santa'( trust me, we’re actually fully grown adults), wherein we secretly pass on small gifts on random days to the person you’ve picked by lot and finally one big gift on the day of  revelation, it got me thinking. Thinking in terms of what is all this hullabaloo about? What are we really supposed to be giving in this so called season of ‘giving and forgiving’? And these thoughts took me all the way to that tiny meagre stable where baby Jesus was born. Basically an amazing occurrence when God decided to forgo all that Majesty and glory and become a tiny baby, born in the dirtiest and lowliest of all circumstances,to grow up like a normal human being with all the difficulties thereof attached and ultimately die a cruel gory death on a cross- for what? For the love of you and me! Now that’s downright crazy, isn’t it?

Say what? you ask me- yeah! That’s exactly what I said. He did all that because He loved you and me too much to let us rot in our helplessness and our sins. So He became the sacrifice, the Lamb that was slain.

How amazing is that love! Can you imagine someone laying down their life for you? So that you will  have eternal life?

Well yeah, that’s what the story is all about and this season is a celebration of that Love- not because we know the exact date or month that Jesus was born , nor do we know whether it was cold or hot at the time, but we know He came, for you, for me. And that’s how much you’re loved, that’s how much I am loved- like L-O-V-E-D ( all in capital letters)!

So in the midst of this crazy schedule of mine , following duty rosters, and skipping meals, working odd hours and sleeping off on top of my laptop trying to complete work against deadlines, God nudged me gently the other day as I looked around ( almost apeing Scrooge saying- Bah, humbug!) saying- Remember how much you’re loved, child. And that’s what I get to give to others as well- love- crazy, unconditional, unfailing and unending- exactly as the Father loves me.

And even as you unwrap your surprise gifts and run around hanging up lights and confetti  these days, or you’re still carrying bleeps and attending calls and saving lives even on Christmas day, take that one moment to pause and remember that you are               L-O-V-E-D- by your Maker, in ways more than one and so much that you cannot even imagine or fathom it. And that’s exactly what you get to pass on.

Merry Christmas!!

John 3:16  (NIV)
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Run wild

I couldn’t sleep last night- for the last couple of nights actually….tossed and turned, tossed and turned again till I knew that I had to get to my knees to listen to the One who gives sleep, ‘cos he evidently had something to say.

Growing up in a culture of rich traditions and extremely conventional ways, we are usually expected , as we grow up, to conform to a particular way of being-  if we’re growing up in a particular locality, we  go to a particular school, we usually end up following the very same footsteps of other older ‘daddy’s friend’s kids’, we may attend the same college for undergrad, we mostly even play the same kind of sports most other campus kids play and learn the same musical instruments as well and so on and so forth- so if your parents are teachers, it’s only right that you become a teacher, if your parents are doctors, even if you faint at the sight of blood, you’re still becoming a doctor and things like that. The same can be applied on a broader spectrum to cultures and customs that we are taught to follow, whether we agree to them or not.  “All girls should be married off by 26 years of age”;  “you shouldn’t be waiting so long to get into a PG”; Settle down baba, that is what we expect of you”…. and so on and so forth.( I’m sure you’ve already quoted your own personal favourites in your head as you read this).

And any deviation from the norm, and you’re deemed a wild child- why does he/she want to do anything different? What’s wrong with her? He wants to work in rural places! Is he mad? She’s pursuing singing! Is music even a career?!

So, wild child reading this, when was the last time you burned to do something different, make an unconventional choice , and then held yourself back and decided to forget it altogether because society might not agree?

Those were pretty much the lines along which I was thinking as I lay awake.  From the day I chose to follow Jesus, my journey has been unconventional, a roller coaster ride. But somewhere down the line, I had started ‘maturing’- in terms of weighing the will of God against what would the society (that includes my parents, friends, colleagues and the random aunty who walks into your house to give an opinion about how you should live your life) think and were hesitating to pick up that cross and follow.

And that night..I was led to look through the Bible- and what I saw was a whole bunch of ‘losers’ that God used for His glory- unconventional people who made crazy crazy choices, simply because He asked them to. You’ll see it as well- all the way from an old man who decided to build a huge ark even when he’d never seen rain in his entire lifetime, to another madman who left his entire lifetime of savings and his hometown behind to go to a land he’d never seen, known or heard of before, from the shepherd boy who thought he could bring down a giant with a pebble, to the well educated respected Jewish dude who decided to leave all that behind to preach the good news to a people whom his society would’ve considered outcasts , its there all through the Bible- every single one of them- did absolutely mind boggling crazy things, they were wild, but they loved strong and they lived a full life.

So the question that He laid upon my heart that night was- Do you want to be safe, or do you want to follow Me?

Well that struck home- and I was reminded of a verse from the  Chronicles of Narnia

“Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”…”Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

And as for me, I choose to follow the King.  As the words of one of my favourite songs go, and  I ask you too:

‘ Don’t you want to
Run wild, live free
Love strong, ‘ (For King and Country)


Screenshot_20180924-210546.jpgAll of us are born with this yearning for ‘home ‘. Sometimes we spend a lifetime trying to figure out where this is.

Recently, as I walked into the isolation room of the paediatric ICU, I met the smiling face of 4 year old Akhil. Akhil had just been diagnosed a few weeks back with a bad form of blood cancer.  Nothing more to be done.  He was just being given palliative care, meaning support him till he succumbs.  Well, he certainly didn’t look it as I walked in to collect his history and get all his details. He first gave me that ‘Can you be trusted?’ look and then when he’d decided I can be taken into his confidence,  he smiled with a twinkle in his eye. Suddenly the chaos of the PICU outside the isolation room didn’t matter anymore.  I sat down beside him,  and asked him the most basic question..Hey,  how are you?
The smile didn’t cease as he replied,’ I’m good. I have cancer. But I’m going  home.’
That statement was a little too much for my sleep deprived mind to mind be like ” wait.. did he just tell me his prognosis as well? Or did he just say he wants a DAMA( discharge against medical advice)?”
So I ask him like I’m the 4 year old and he’s the boss..’ Home is where , da?’ So he places his small hand in mine,  and looks at me like I’ve a long way to go to reach his level of understanding, and says ” see chechi( read elder sister), it’s okay if you can’t treat me, ‘cos I’ll be home in heaven with Jesus. That’s where I actually came from.  Will you pray with me today?”
As I held his hand and prayed with little Akhil in the PICU that night, I realised the truth in what Jesus said,  Unless you become like little children, you will not enter the Kingdom of God.
Wisdom doesn’t necessarily belong with the grey haired.

Born in one country, brought up in another and then finding my vocation in a different state among a different culture and people, if you ask me where’s home? I’ll take some time to answer that one. But homesickness does strike quite often , and the yearning to belong as well.
So on one of those homesick days , I decided to go ” home”, as in the place my parents live in. Guess what – ‘homesickness’  didn’t go away. Went and spent some time with my closest friends- no luck there either. Finally, after I’d exhausted the available options, I got down on my knees to spend some time with the Maker. Needless to say, it wasn’t a long time before I felt home.

That day I realised what Akhil told me- home is not in the mountains or by the seaside; it’s not even where family is or where your entire lifetime was spent; it’s not in the arms of your lover or with your closest friends- it’s where your God is. In His presence, there you’re best at home. Home’s heaven. And that’s what our hearts ache for. And  this lifetime is the journey towards.
And that was little Akhil’s hope and joy.
My home is heaven.  I’m just travelling through this world ‘ Billy Graham.

When the oceans rise…

We are human beings  – we empathise, we sympathise and especially those of us who’ve been around in the world long enough, we also know the right words to say when disaster strikes somewhere, when things go wrong with someone or someplace. We are taught to click our tongues at just the right moments, speak passionate words at just the right places and maybe look at the TV screens with just the right expressions- the expression of dismay, of seeming sadness for the loss of someone we’re watching from a distance.

But when the storms hit homeground, then the story changes right? Then we find ourselves reeling in a mixture of emotions and motions we never knew we were capable of before.

When the rains started flooding the state I come from,  I did the appropriate clicking of my tongue, ‘lets pray for the places worst affected’ speech, sympathised and empathised- just appropriately, like we’ve all learnt to do. But when my home got flooded, when I couldn’t contact my parents for a whole day straight, when the waters started rising steadily at home and my folks were forced to move out, then reality struck. I could feel my father’s pain at having to leave the home at the mercy of the angry waters. It was not just the furniture or the documents in the house he was pained to leave behind, it was the home we had, the memories we’d shared there, a lifetime of hard earned comfort, all our old books, albums, pictures- everything that made a home a home, a lifetime that we’d shared and treasured and so preciously kept together. I couldn’t just shake my head at the television screen and exclaim’ How sad!’ anymore. I was just struck by the enormosity of the losses that we would be enduring if the rains continued the way they did.

It was real. It was right there. And it had struck home.

And that’s when I truly captured a very very small part of what those fellow countrymen would be going through, with their very houses washed away, near and dear ones missing, no place to go to, no idea how long this would last and holding on to dear life.

As the rains have started to cease and as the waters recede, I’ve come to  realise that no amount of funds, spare clothes, medicines or relief camps can provide much relief. What they’ve lost is so much more than what any of us can even begin to comprehend. So as we extend our helping hands, lets also ask God to comfort the flood-whelmed brethren because only the God of all comfort can provide that peace that passes all understanding.

I share with you a verse from a song I love dearly that held my heart as  anxiety overwhelmed me:

“When the oceans rise and thunders roar
I will soar with you above the storm
Father you are king over the flood
I will be still and know you are God”

(Still- Hillsong worship)

Isaiah 43:2 New King James Version (NKJV)
 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.