Category Archives: Srory

The Sparrow Knew – A Parable

Once in a village there was this farmer tilling his land from dawn to dusk.

His hard work was amply rewarded as the crops thrived and in time, laden with grains, ready for harvesting.

In the middle of the field a sparrow had built its nest. And by now with its brood of two little chicks.

One day when their mother was away, the little sparrows overheard the farmer telling his son: ‘We’ll begin the harvest from tomorrow early morning. I’ve called in our neighbours.’

When the mother returned in the evening, the alarmed chicks related the conversation and said they should move right away.

The mother becalmed the chicks: ‘Yes, we must move, but not yet, there’s time, I assure you.’

Next day morning,

Like the mother sparrow said the harvest did not begin.

During the day, once again, the little sparrows overheard the farmer telling his son: ‘Son, get ready, we’ll commence harvesting from tomorrow early morning. Our relatives have promised to help.’

In the evening when the mother heard from its chicks, she was unperturbed. ‘Not yet,’ she said.

The following morning,

There was no move to towards beginning the harvesting.

On this day, the farmer told his son: ‘Tomorrow, keep yourself free and ready. You and I – we’ll do it ourselves.’

In the evening, the mother and her chicks flew away to find a new home.


Source: moral stories and image from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Paws)

What We Have Been Searching for All Along…

From Marc And Angel:


About a decade ago on his 37th birthday, after spending his entire adult life loosely dating different women, he finally decided he was ready to settle down.  He wanted to find a real mate… a lover… a life partner—someone who could show him what it meant to be in a deep, monogamous, trusting relationship.

So, he searched far and wide.  There were so many women to choose from, all with great qualities, but none with everything he was looking for.  And then, finally, just when he thought he would never find her, he found her.  And she was perfect.  She had everything he ever wanted in a woman.  And he rejoiced, for he knew how rare a find she was.  “I’ve done my research,” he told her.  “You are the one for me.”

But as the days and weeks turned into months and years, he started to realize that she was far from perfect.  She had issues with trust and self-confidence, she liked to be silly when he wanted to be serious, and she was much messier than he was.  And he started to have doubts … doubts about her, doubts about himself, doubts about everything.

And to validate these doubts, he subconsciously tested her.  He constantly looked around their apartment for things that weren’t clean just to prove that she was messy.  He decided to go out alone to parties with his single guy friends just to prove that she had trust issues.  He set her up and waited for her to do something silly just to prove she couldn’t be serious.  It went on like this for awhile.

As the tests continued—and as she, clearly shaken and confused, failed more and more often—he became more and more convinced that she was not a perfect fit for him after all.  Because he had dated women in the past who were more mature, more confident, and more willing to have serious conversations.

Inevitably, he found himself at a crossroads.  Should he continue to be in a relationship with a woman who he once thought was perfect, but now realizes is lacking the qualities that he already found in the other women that came before her?  Or should he return to the lifestyle he had come from, drifting from one empty relationship to the next?

After he enrolled in our Getting Back to Happy Course a few days ago, desperately looking for answers, this is the gist of what Angel and I told him:

One of the greatest lessons we learn in life is that we are often attracted to a bright light in another person.  Initially, this light is all we see.  It’s so bright and beautiful.  But after a while, as our eyes adjust, we notice this light is accompanied by a shadow… and oftentimes a fairly large one.

When we see this shadow, we have two choices: we can either shine our own light on the shadow or we can run from it and continue searching for a shadow-less light.

If we decide to run from the shadow, we must also run from the light that created it.  And we soon find out that our light is the only light illuminating the space around us.  Then, at some point, as we look closer at our own light, we notice something out of the ordinary.  Our light is casting a shadow too.  And our shadow is bigger and darker than some of the other shadows we’ve seen.

If, on the other hand, instead of running from the shadow, we decide to walk towards it, something amazing happens.  We inadvertently cast our own light on the shadow, and likewise, the light that created this shadow casts its light on ours.  Gradually, both shadows begin to disappear.  Not completely, of course, but every part of the two shadows that are touched by the other person’s light illuminate and disappear.

And, as a result, we each find more of that bright beautiful light in the other person.

Which is precisely what we have been searching for all along.



The best book ever on leadership skills

unfortunately, remains unwritten. If only Lt Gen Krishnaswami Balaram (1927 – 2010) had put his pen to paper in his life time. Then as an army officer given to action and a practitioner, perhaps writing a book was not appealing to him.

BALARAM Report My Signal PVSM

I heard about him only a few days ago in my evening gup-shup session – an hour-long chit chat about this and that – in the park with a small group of seniors presently in US like me spending a couple of months with their sons and daughters. My source among them is S, a gentleman long retired from employment in the estate maintenance department at Kurukshetra University in Haryana. The anecdotes he shared with us about KB who was then the vice-chancellor of the university piqued my interest I decided to look him up on the net.  What I got was quite scanty. Not unusual – after all officers in the defense remain largely anonymous to the world outside their circles. The one source I located was a shraddhanjali (eulogy) appearing on his death where his peers, students and others who had occasion to interact with him shared their experiences – accounts narrated with sincerity that came through, I thought, and not a merely routine flattery of the departed.  Here under are some extracts that reveal the man he was:

In times where a man is forgotten days after he vacates seat of power, these tributes flowed in unsolicited, about eight years after his tenure as vice-chancellor (VC) of Kurukshetra University (89-92).

As a man who defied the heighty-mighty:

“The Fauji Balaram was the VC who denied access to university auditorium to the then Prime Minister late Chander Shekhar who was to address a workers rally in the presence of the then Haryana CM Om Prakash Chautala. Although the District Magistrate used his special powers and acquisited the auditorium. The hand-over and take-over was done by the junior officers of the university and the district administration. Unlike today’s vice chancellors in the country, Lt. General Balaram made his way to Delhi to attend a meeting and did not bother even to receive the PM at the helipad in the university sports grounds itself.”

As a man of integrity:

“…He never availed any free medicines from the University Health Centre, rather he was the VC who paid a cheque of five thousand rupees to the university in lieu of the reimbursement of medical bills despite the repeated requests to the contrary from the then SMO…Balaram used to walk to his office and back on Thursdays during the Iran-Iraq war to save petrol, a call given by the union ministry those days.”

As a self-helping man:

“…He could venture sliding beneath his official car to repair it during the lunch break and then board it after stretching his safari suit which could be seen with torn stitches under the cockpits…’

As an educationist:

‘Gen Balram…was a visionary and a man of action who took the bold decision to revise the syllabi of all postgraduate courses in tune with modern curriculum of UGC.  Following up his plans to revise the syllabus, he took another major academic decision, asking all chairpersons to prepare lesson plans of the revised syllabi of a semester and put it in the library so that students could know in advance about the schedule of classes…”

As an administrator:

“…The university was in deficit when Gen Balram joined as its VC, but he took bold fiscal decisions and covered the deficit…There was a serious problem of power failure in the hostels. The then VC solved it by getting the worn-out wirings changed, besides ensuring the installation of separate transformers…”

Finally, how many can claim to have received a farewell like this from civilians?

…He was so popular amongst teaching fraternity and also amongst non-teaching employees that on his retirement, a ceremonial departure was performed by pulling the ropes tied to his car and a send-off was given at the Oasis at Karnal after which his convoy was escorted up to Delhi by the representatives of teachers and employees…”

Earlier, as Maj Gen he functioned as the Commandant at the prestigious Defense Services Staff College (DSSC), Wellington in 1982. His predecessors/followers included among others Gen P.P. Kumaramanglam and Gen. V.P. Malik who finally ended up as Chief’s of the Indian Armed Forces. I include just one anecdote from this period that showed him as a stickler for rules while remaining sensitive to his wards:

“Reading Cdr Arun Saigal’s nostalgic report on late Gen. K Balaram, brought a tear into my eyes. I was in the same 38th Staff Course as Cdr Arun Saigal and I had a very touching experience of Gen Balaram’s fatherly posture. Just prior to the mid-course ‘Bharat Darshan’ (an all-India educational  tour) on a special train, my father-in-law was seriously ill in Mumbai and my wife had to rush off, leaving my 4 year old daughter with me. I was a predicament as to how to take care of my daughter without missing the trip. I took courage and put up a “service request” to allow my daughter to travel with me in the train from Mettupalayam to Mumbai as it was the first halt of the train…to the Commandant. I was called by the Commandant, who heard me patiently, but informed me that he could not create a precedent of allowing my daughter to travel by the Wellington special train, but would grant me three days leave so that I could travel to Mumbai with my daughter on my own and join the train there. He even said that he would ensure my rail booking for the same. It was indeed a great relief for me……The matter did not end there. Three days before the scheduled departure of the train I was waiting at the Wellington Bus stop to catch a bus to Mettupalayam and thence to Coimbatore, when the General’s car drove past us. After going a short distance the car stopped and was reversed towards me. When the car stopped, I came to attention and saluted the General. He immediately asked me, “aren’t you going to Bombay (Mumbai) with your daughter?” I replied in the affirmative. He asked me to enter the car with my daughter. To be frank I was “shell-shocked” as I had never had such a ‘close encounter’ with an Army General. During the drive to Coimbatore, while I maintained a respectful silence, my little daughter was “jabbering” away with the General. Arriving at Coimbatore the General went straight to the Sulur airport and directed his Staff Officer to drop us at the railway station and to ensure that we had our rail booking confirmed. The rail booking was indeed confirmed and we travelled to Mumbai and I caught up days later with the special train at VT (Mumbai) station. On completion of the Bharat Darshan, I did write a note of thanks to the General who without fail acknowledged the same. This incident has had an indelible mark on me as I had always pictured Army Generals to be tough task masters, keeping a straight face requiring a junior officer to keep a safe distance – Cdr Hector Poppen.”

Well, so this was Lt Gen Balaram Krishnaswami decorated with Param Visishta Seva Medal and, obviously, much more. A pin-hole view of an illustrious career, but enough to provide a glimpse of the man for you to agree with my opening observation?



PS: Incidentally, he was a MTech in Telecommunication Engineering and MSc in Defense Science from UK and Madras respectively, an engineer of high technical acumen, who had mastered the intricacies of signal communications. He designed the famous Balaram Aerial for increasing the range of VHF radio communications which came so handy during 1965 War.