Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Prof.Hari Sharma's Contribution

Compliments to the organisers for the very successful,enjoyable and worthwhile event November 15,2009 in Surrey,BC,to celebrate Prof.Hari Sharma's 75th birthday.

I'm sure that Hari must have cherished every moment of the evening as he himself said that "I'm overwhelmed" by the love and regards shown by all of us as friends and admirers at the function.

To me most of the speeches were quite straight from the heart outlinging personal experiences relating to dire community affairs and concerns people had, and seeking help and guidance from Hari in all these years.

Not only that Hari's asking support from the community to issues dear to him and very passionately pursueing those agenda speaks of his organisational skills.

In this regard he rightly emphasised the signifiacance of getting involved people believing in the causes to work together rather individually.And I think has been pretty succcessful in this regard, and Nov.15th big turnout was a testimony to that.

Listeing to the speeches at yesterday's historic event, and based on my own observations over the years as a journalist catering to the South Asian Canadian community ,I believe that Hari Sharma made a very significant contribution in drawing and shaping the political,social and to some extent economic landscape of our community particularly in this part of Canada.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


In my endeavor to occasionally dwell in ‘Now’ (the present moment) I get into the R.A.C.E.
The letter ‘R’ stands for recognition. That is the first approach whereby I recognize, realize and appreciate that how important is the present moment.
It’s followed by the letter ‘A’ which stands for acceptance. Once the present moment is recognized, acceptance of it is very important. It does not matter how beautiful, ugly, bad, good, easy or difficult the present is, it has to be accepted, taken or claimed.
‘C’ stands for capturing or containing the present moment. I got to seize or grasp the moment to really get the feel of it.
And finally ‘E’ stands for enjoyment. The moment in whatever shape, form or situation it represents once I have recognized, accepted and contained it then it must as well be enjoyed and relished.
I experimented with the R.A.C.E. recently during the tough hike of Grouse Grind. Every step of the Grind was a moment, which I first recognized, accepted it as the only choice was to go up, captured each moment by trying not to be swayed by any other thought; and finally enjoying every step of the way till the steep hill was finally covered.
This was an experience in which I realized that it is possible the action (climbing movements) and the actor (me) can be one entity at the same time. In other words a verb becomes a noun. Like a dance and dancer during performance become one.

Thursday, August 27, 2009


SYNOPSIS: This article is an original approach to encourage people to get into much talked about but less practiced life style of simple living. Most people are already enjoying simple pleasures in their day-to-day lives, and that is encouraging signs to make them realize that the traits of simple living are already there. The article does not make a list of things as what to do or what not to do, rather it is left to the reader to work out his or her own simple living life style and make changes as they go along on this path. The basis of the article is disciplined enjoyment of life while being sincere, honest, humble and compassionate toward environment and fellow human beings.

By Promod Puri

Understanding the concept of simple living is quite simple.

The nature of simple living if willingly explored, accepted and experienced is certainly the most blissful and satisfying way of living. This exercise promotes effortless discipline leading toward ethical and guilt-free living.

While rejecting some or most of society’s apparently artificial and exhibiting norms, the adaptation to simple living is plain and instinctively natural.

In simple living the only expression which matters most is the word simple. It is an adjective, whereas the word living is a noun.

The term simple, being a descriptive adjective, describes, defines and give character to the word living. The latter is vague and empty unless it is preceded by an adjective. For example, we say good living, healthy living, peaceful living and so on.

So in order to make our understanding of simple living easy, let us take the help of dictionary to find out different meanings and definitions of the word simple.

· Simple means easy to understand or deal with;
· Simple means not elaborate just plain, unmixed;
· Simple means not decorate, luxurious, grand or sophisticated;
· Simple means modest;
· Simple means free of deceit;
· Simple means lucid, natural, neat, unadulterated and fundamental; and finally
· Simple means sincere.

All the above attributions to the expression simple form a complete package to help us get into simple living which is clean, transparent, modest and familiarly real. In fact these meanings are the fundamentals to this subsistence; understanding and following them is an effort which is worth striving for.

In our endeavor to dwell in this fascinating environment it is comforting to note that we are already practicing and experiencing simple living in some form or degree at one time or the other. It is a natural trait embedded in us the day we are born. And as we age life becomes more complicated, adulterated with greed and ego, and contracted with “affluenza” . Still the good bug of simple living is within us. And the moment it is realized from any of its aspects, we feel good.

There are mainly four aspects which attract people to simple living. Spirituality, health, environmental or economics are the reasons people seek this lifestyle to have some quality and goodness value in their lives.

It is interesting to note that whatever the reason or reasons one picks to lodge into this habitat, ultimately one gets into all of its aspects and achieves the wholesome goal of contended, happy and peaceful life.

The essence of simple living is the disciplined enjoyment of life while caring for fellow beings and environment. In this regard simple and ordinary pleasures of life are the major contributing factors which need more attention and stimulation to experience the joy of simple living. In fact these personal pleasures provide the initiation to this doctrine.

Based on personal choices there are numerous recreational pleasures people are having occasionally or regularly to enjoy the simple living experiences. Affluent celebrities, powerful politicians and dictators, millionaires and billionaires beside their wealth and status, in their private lives do indulge in simple pleasures. Casual dressing up in their jeans or working in their mansion gardens are signs of basic simple traits which people have in common despite their disparities.

However, simple living demands more than simple pleasures. It is the change of attitude, change of lifestyle in harmony with consciousness. The life which is outwardly rich and inwardly poor has to be significantly reversed to get the feel of simple living. The intent is an awakening straight from the heart.

No doubt, the most popular form of simple living is to comfortably and “voluntarily” adjusting life to basic minimum needs; seeking or possessing more than that is pure wastage and ego pleasing. After all, “wealth consists of not having great possessions, but in having few wants”. Still, if somebody wants to feel rich then the “shortcut to riches is to subtract from one’s desires”.

Getting away from the consumerist mentality and reducing needs for purchased goods are the entry points for simple living and how far an individual goes into this domain is a matter of practicality. In our social and cultural environment, it is although possible, but looks somewhat abnormal ,to live in an abstract bare-minimum-materialistic world. Moreover extreme frugal living is damaging to economy, though good for the environment.

Sure, simple living is a substitute for people in the upper and middle classes, the poor in society all crave for some upgrading. And it is here enough economic activity has to be maintained to bring along these unfortunate people to the minimum standards of living or to the luxury of simple living when opted for “volunteer simplicity”.

No doubt, living with minimum basic materialistic needs is the hallmark of simple living but its pillars of strength are conscious living with sincerity, honesty, humbleness and compassion.

Based on these principles one can simply explore, write and practice one’s own ever evolving guidelines of simple living and enjoying every moment of it.



By Promod Puri

Back in the late ‘70s when we escaped from the harsh and frigid climate of Winnipeg and ran away from its annual mosquito invasion in summer, to eternally green and comfortably mild Vancouver, India Club was perhaps the only organization to meet the social needs of the Indo-Canadian community in this coastal part of Canada.

With amiable membership, the club provided the necessary welcome meeting group for socializing, partying and pleasure with some nostalgic cultural activities to give us a feel of belonging to the community sharing common heritage.

Everybody knew everybody, and over the years these acquaintances turned into personal friendships. The club expanded on its own pace, taking along new members, who beside participating, enjoying and sharing contributed toward many of its functions.

The whole organization, over the years, became like a close-knit extended family. However, along with being a social outlet for members, the India Club also ventured into supporting some worthy causes by raising significant funds over the years.

The vision the leadership provided in the early years certainly raised the profile and prestige of the club as a caring and contributing organization in the overall Canadian society.

In this regard one of the visionaries of the India Club was respectable philanthropist businessman, community activist and scholar late Mr. Natwarlal Thakore. He was the guiding and inspiring force to initiate on an annual basis the celebration of Mahatama Gandhi’s birthday, and to establish the Gandhi peace award at the Simon Fraser University.

In collaboration with the SFU, the peace award honors a deserving and meritorious Canadian, irrespective of his or her religious, political or cultural background for his or her significant contribution for better society in line with the Gandhian principles. The award ceremony and the Gandhi birthday celebration have become noble and distinguished traditions of the India Club in partnership with the SFU.

Another praiseworthy event, which the club holds, is the annual recreational, charitable and inspiring walkathon.

And over the years it has introduced many more interesting happenings, some still continue off and on; others are shelved altogether, perhaps due to lack of interest.

One of my favorite events, in which the members enthusiastically participated some years ago, but was cancelled after its first and only run in the following year, was the Grouse Grind climb. And I still compliment the then president, Dr. Bakul Dalal, and his executive team, who undertook this uphill task very successfully.

To organize and hold events is certainly not an easy volunteer job for a president or his or her executive team. Lack of enthusiasm and apathy are contributing to the stalled or perhaps down membership in the club. A joking comment, which we hear very often among the members who take it in its stride, is that the club has more ex presidents than the members.

One major and certainly sometimes frustrating job, a president and executive of the club face is to seek respectable attendance for most of its functions. Repeated e-mails, phone calls, personal pleas and pathetic canvasses are always employed requesting the members to attend upcoming functions. Still there are excuses and some reasonings not to participate. Members often complain the club is not any more what it used to be.

But why there is this apathy, why this lack of interest or enthusiasm not to take part in its various activities or even renewing membership; and why this feel that the club is now a “bore”.
No doubt India Club over the years has been the most uncontroversial, financially well-managed and smooth running Indo-Canadian organization. But more than that it definitely needs a new mandate about its role and functions to become an inspired, vibrant and interesting organization, and to expand itself beyond the current membership to involve all the segments of the diverse Indo-Canadian community.

In this regard, I should frankly point out that the India Club from the very beginning, perhaps for support and membership, aligned itself with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad of B.C. Some or more of its presidents and even executive members at one time or the other, were the presidents or active members of the VHP or vice versa. This has created a narrow-down image of the club representing only one segment of the community. The club has not been or almost unknown to vast majority of ever increasing Indo-Canadian population in the Lower Mainland of B.C.

Beside the celebration of 40 years of its existence, there is an urgent request to its leadership to seek an extensive, drastic and radical review of its aims and objectives, and the activities involved in achieving those goals. This extensive reexamination and critical look should invite ideas, suggestions and even criticism from the membership-at-large including past presidents and directors.

The shakeup process and the follow-up action will certainly make the India Club a better, lively and benevolent social organization whereby one can feel proud in belonging to it and actively participating in its various functions.

Uncles And Aunties

By Promod Puri

It is smart, respectable and somewhat practical trend these days when youngsters in the Indo-Canadian community address their parents’ friends as uncles and aunties.

Instead of calling them by their first or last name, with prefix of Mr. or Mrs., these unrelated nephews and nieces make the acquaintances more personal and to some extent honorable.

Although the use of uncle and auntie is very common in most other communities to express endearment, these English words are favorably adopted and are very much in vogue these days in the Indo-Canadian culture.

And if one goes a step further to show more reverence, suffix “ji”, pronounced like letter “g”, is added as uncleji and auntieji ; thus giving a new twist or transformation to this customary expression to establish a more pleasant, amiable and closer connection.

The conventional practice of using Mr., Mrs. and especially the more-than-one meaning word madam is not only becoming obsolete in casual encounters and meetings, but these appellations create a very stiffen and reserved occasion. Whereas, when our instant young nephews and nieces appear on the scene, the on-the-spot kinship makes the atmosphere more intimate, informal and still courteous.

The uncle and aunty trend is popular not only to address parent’s friends, but for close relatives or anybody older as well. The expression makes an all-in-one entity that can for all practical purposes wrap up all the close relatives from both sides of parents.

Otherwise in the Indian culture children address relatives by their designated names. For example in Punjabi customs, from the dad’s side, his younger brother is called chacha and his wife chachi; older brother is taya, wife tayi; sister is addressed as bhua; her husband fufar (really a mouthful pronunciation). And from the mom’s side the brother (thankfully no distinction between younger and older) the classification is maama and wife maami; sister maasi and her husband masser (a bumpy pronunciation).

All these distinct titles certainly are hard to keep in ethnic memory cells for youngsters, but these can be easily replaced with one sweep by simply using the all-purpose generic uncle and aunty formula.

However, the traditional names of relatives are still being proudly reserved as part of cultural identity and are used to express respect. But for non-relatives the uncle and aunty application is very common, convenient and functional.

A close family friend’s son is very traditional as far as tackling his parents’ brothers and sisters is concerned. He respectfully calls them with their respective titles, but when it comes to dealing with his parents’ friends, he refers them as uncles or aunties. But here, he has some different, but valid reason.

In one family business function, this pleasant and sociable young man was introducing guests to each other. While in this formal exercise he was often heard saying “meet my uncle; meet my aunty.” However, when somebody pointed out to him ”how many uncles and aunties you have,” the poised “nephew” had to tell the truth and with confidence and smile on his face he said “no they’re not my real uncles and aunties, but by addressing them so, I don’t have to remember their individual names.”

It was a pretty honest and smart answer to which everybody smiled and accepted the explanation in its stride.

And when it comes to play smart South Asian working youth have another reason from business point of view to use the workable uncle-auntie technique.

These young enterprising and fairly innovative salespeople, while doing business within their community, very often address their clients, even if they’re little older, as uncleji and auntieji to establish a respectable and trustworthy relationship.

In fact the uncle-aunty approach which nobody minds, is also successfully applied to please older employers, or at any place else to get the things done in a polite and expecting way.

The uncle-aunty phenomenon may be exploitative from business and social points of view, but it’s indeed a cultural evolution which is very helpful in successful marketing and establishing contacts.

This small but worthy- of -note motivating evolution should find its place in Canada’s cultural diversity.

If multiculturalism is a business as well, then the uncle-aunty mantra can help in its boom.