Lulu, my parrot, flew in and
settled on my shoulder. “Hey!” he whispered.
This is that moment when you
instinctively know that the ‘party of the second part’ has something up his
sleeve. Instincts are like caveats in the court, they caution you, warn you
that proceeding without listening to them is strewn with danger. And my
instinct informed me that Lulu, the parrot, was in a very mischievous mode.
“Hello!” I said with the caution
of a pedestrian crossing busy Mumbai street. “What’s the news?”
“I have one question” Lulu said.
My instinct was right. I knew this was coming.
“Shoot it then” I said, with the
nervousness of a student appearing for his exams.
“Why don’t you take a sabbatical?
That’s the ‘in-thing’ for youngsters. Everybody is applying for a sabbatical
after Rahul Gandhi availed it, and flew to Bangkok.”
“It is okay for Rahul Gandhi. His
family has enough wealth to survive without working for the next few
generations, not mine. I must work and earn. And I do not have a protective
mother like Sonia ji.” I explained.
“She did not accompany him to
Bangkok. Nobody travels with his mother to Bangkok. Why don’t you think of
taking a sabbatical and flying away to Bangkok?” Lulu said. There is something
about the way parrots question you. Birds often circle a tree a few times
before landing on a branch. I knew Lulu was approaching the main question in
“I know what you are suggesting. Remember
Sabbaticals are taken for acquiring new skills. Or to discover a new world. I
have no such thought.”
“Rahul Gandhi has come back with
more energy, more vigour and has emerged as a better speaker. He is leading
farmers now. Wow, what a transformation sabbatical did! So you must think of a
sabbatical, it will do you good.”
“Oh, I am quite happy doing my
work, I do not need these injections of vigour and energy. And I am on a
permanent sabbatical – I am retired person. Why are you worried about my
transformation? Men don’t transform.”
“Neither do women! Ha, ha!! You
got it right, men don’t transform; they evolve. It is slow. Not noticeable in
short run. Unlike Rahul Gandhi.”
“Evolving. That’s the right word.
What’s the formula?”
“Some go to a learned person,
enlightened person or Guru. Others read books, meditate. Whatever suits you is
okay; what’s your way?”
“Whatever little good happened to
me is all because such people in my life. Influence of some people on my way of
thinking, my becoming a better person is absolutely undeniable. I am ever
grateful to them. But sometimes I wonder, if they were influencing me or I was
getting influenced, absorbing good thoughts and messages like a sponge.”
“Hmmm…… that is difficult to say,
right? It is a kind of chemistry. Both transform; I mean both evolve.” Lulu stationed
himself on my laptop.
“Something happens when some
people come in your life, they cast their influence. It happens even if you
have not sought it. It is like walking in the rains, you get wet whether you
want it or not. You pick up their way of thinking and their style of speaking.
Some pick up even mannerisms. Just look at some disciples of a Guru who teaches
“And some grow out of it. Bhimsen
Joshi was a disciple of Savai Gandharva but his music and style evolved
distinct and different later. Many managers also surpass their Guru…..”
“And many others think that they
have surpassed their Guru.”
“That is a feeling I have never
had! Competition with Guru was never the agenda, I think it is simply ridiculous
thought. I have always remained obliged for whatever they have given me.”
“Well, looking back so many of
them. Some of my school teachers have influenced me. Some elders in the family.
Some whom I have met professionally. And one person has influenced me very much
but I realised it quite late.”
“A hammer falling on your feet and
a person influencing you have the same effect. You realise what happened with a
long time gap. Ha, ha!”
“Yup! She influenced me like the
root of a banyan tree finds its way through a hard rock and cracks it open.”
“Referring to your wife?” Lulu
looked at me for confirmation.
“Yes, obviously. In this evening
of my life I have realised her influence on me.”
“So what are you suggesting to
“My advice to him? ‘Get married,
of course. Find a good wife for yourself.’”
Lulu winked at me, sat on my
shoulder thinking about it for some time. “Good advice is also like a sponge,
it sinks in slowly!” he said as he flew away.
Vivek S Patwardhan
Labels: Mentoring, Rahul Gandhi