Monthly Archives: May 2017

Lion by Saroo Brierley

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My memories were all I had of my past, and privately I thought about them over and over, trying to ensure I didn’t ‘beget’.

Some of these memories were good, and some of them bad – but I couldn’t have one without the other, and I couldn’t let them go.

The people in the station weren’t people at all, but a great solid mass I couldn’t make any impact on, like a river or the sky.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened to me had he not taken me in, or had I refused to trust him.

Today, there are perhaps a hundred thousand homeless kids in Kolkata, and a good many of them die before they reach adulthood.

It was only a couple of years after my period on the streets that the notorious ‘Stoneman’ murders began in Calcutta, following the same phenomenon in Bombay. Somebody started murdering homeless people bedding down at night, especially around the city’s major station, by dropping a large rock or slab of concrete onto their heads as they slept. Thirteen people died over a six-month period and no-one was ever charged (though the killings stopped after the police detained a psychologically disturbed suspect). Had I stayed on the street, there’s every chance I wouldn’t be alive today, and certainly not writing this book.

I later learnt that Ganesh is often called the Remover of Obstacles, and Lord of Beginnings. I wonder whether that was why the girl chose to give it to me. (Ganesh is also Patron of Letters, and so, in a way, is the patron of this book.)

That initial disbelieving desperation to get home – that feeling that, unless the world was immediately put back the way it had been, I couldn’t survive, couldn’t exist – had long faded. The world was now what I saw around me, the situation I was in.

Instinct, memory, doubt and excitement were all coursing through me at once.

Even at this first meeting, though, she told me she was grateful to my parents who had raised me in Australia, and that they had the right to call me their son because they had raised me from a child and made me the man I was today.

‘Everything is written’: destiny takes its inevitable path.

I would never have imagined when I left here that I would one day willingly return, yet here I was now, looking over the place, a tourist of my old terrors.

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Zlata’s Diary by Zlata Filipovic

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zlata's diary

“War has crossed out the say and replaced it with horror, and now horrors are unfolding instead of days. It looks to me as though these politics mean Serbs, Croats and Muslims. But they are all people. They are all the same. They all look like people, there’s no difference. They all have arms, legs and heads, they walk and talk, but now there’s “something” that wants to make them different.

Among my girlfriends, among our friends, in our family, there are Serbs and Croats and Muslims. It’s a mixed group and I never knew who was a Serb, a Croat or a Muslim. Now politics has started meddling around. It has put an ‘S’ on Serbs, an ‘M’ on Muslims and a ‘C’ on Croats, it wants to separate them. And to do so, it has chosen the worst, blackest pencil of all—the pencil of war which spells only misery and death.”

War is no joke, it seems. It destroys, kills, burns, separates, brings unhappiness.

How you can come to love an animal! She doesn’t talk, but she speaks with her eyes, her paws, her meows, and I understand her.

…young people without arms and legs. They’re the ones who had the fortune or perhaps the misfortune to survive.

It’s as if Sarajevo is slowly dying, disappearing. Life is disappearing. So how can I feel spring, when spring is something that awakens life, and here there is no life, here everything seems to have died.

Suddenly, unexpectedly, someone is using the ugly powers of war, which horrify me, to try to pull and drag me away from the shores of peace, from the happiness of wonderful friendships, playing and love. I feel like a swimmer who was made to enter the cold war, against her will. I feel shocked, sad, unhappy and frightened and I wonder where they are forcing me to go, I wonder why they have taken away the peaceful and lovely shores of my childhood. I used to rejoice at each new day, because each was beautiful in its own way. I used to rejoice at the sun, at playing, at songs. In short, I enjoyed my childhood. I had no need of a better one. I have less and less strength to keep swimming in these cold waters. So take me back to the shores of my childhood, where I was warm, happy and content, like all the children whose childhood and the right to enjoy it are now being destroyed.

I keep thinking about the march I joined today. It’s bigger and stronger than war. That’s why it will win. The people must be the ones to win, not the war, because war has nothing to do with humanity. War is something inhuman.

Why is politics making us unhappy, separating us, when we ourselves know who is good and who isn’t? We mix with the good, not with the bad. And among the good there are Serbs and Croats and Muslims, just as there are among the bad. I simply don’t understand it. Of course, I’m “young,” and politics are conducted by “grown-ups.” But I think we “young” would do it better. We certainly wouldn’t have chosen war.

It’s freezing. Winter has definitely come to town. I used to love and enjoy it so much, but now it’s a very disagreeable guest in Sarajevo.

There are lots of beautiful pedigree dogs roaming the streets. Their owners probably had to let them go because they couldn’t feed them anymore. Sad. Yesterday I watched a cocker spaniel cross the bridge, not knowing which way to go. He was lost. He wanted to go forward, but then he stopped, turned around and looked back. He was probably looking for his master. Who knows whether his master is still alive? Even animals suffer here. Even they aren’t spared by the war.

Some people compare me with Anne Frank. That frightens me, Mimmy. I don’t want to suffer her fate.

I sincerely hope we won’t have to. But hoping doesn’t mean a thing here.

Again and again they keep sinking all our boats, taking and dashing all our hopes.

Life’s Golden Ticket by Brendon Burchard

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Brendon Burchard’s Life’s Golden Ticket took me on an unexpected journey. I found myself sitting and looking at the book after I finished reading it. Here’s my favourite bits and pieces from the book:

Though you cannot recall it ever happening, a spell has been cast upon you, and it has mesmerized you into believing that you are not good enough and that there is something wrong with you. This spell is Society’s Spell, and it has made you secretly feel inadequate, ugly, weak, slow, small, useless, and helpless for far too long.

Sometimes we forget that everyone has important moments in their life—happenings that forever affect them.

Too often we forget the most important and meaningful chapters in our life’s story.

Themes present in what you were taught in life, and themes present in how you have lived your life.

‘Well, if that’ a prescription for a tough life, I gotta tell you something—you swallowed it whole. You let the themes in your life become your beliefs, and you let those beliefs guide your behaviors. You swallowed what the world taught you, hook, line, and sinker, without ever questioning it.’

If you are unaware of the world within you—your internal thoughts and feelings—and you are unaware of the world around you—how people perceive you and your behaviour—then you don’t have the ability to answer the question ‘Who am I being right now?’ Because you judge who you are at any point in time by your thoughts and feelings as well as what other people are thinking and feeling about you.

You need to break free from the fear and suffering and anger that you have chained to the past. Because those emotions are holding you back from living freely. They’re holding you back from venturing into new territories. They’re holding you back from being who you were meant to be. It’s time to use your smarts and your strength.

“You’re not small and weak anymore. You can’t keep using me as an excuse to live shield up and sword out. Your life is what it is because of you, not me.”

We’re scared to death to be alone or unattended, so we follow the herd—either doing what we’re told or what everyone else is doing.

In life, the path of least resistance is always silence. If you don’t express your feelings and thoughts to others, you don’t have to deal with their reactions to it. You don’t have to feel vulnerable. You don’t risk rejection. But I’ll tell you what: the path of least resistance leads exactly where that ride leads to. Nowhere.

No goals, no growth. No clarity, no change.

Life’s like being in a lion cage, mate. Show fear, back down, or turn away from what’s in front of you, and you’re dead.

…but he presented an incongruous image—he looked like an ox sitting on a toothpick.

…performers, who, by showing us their talent and potential, always remind us of our own.

You can’t wonder where miracles go or where they come from—you just have to be thankful for them when they arrive, and thankful for them after they departed.

My final lesson to you, then, is about contribution, and it says simply this: if you want your life experience to be bright, choose to contribute.