Wilted….. Revived

I have a small balcony garden that has made it to my blog on a couple of occasions. Summers in Vellore are harsh and the plants don’t like it since the sn sun shines directly on this side of the building through most of the day. I usually water the plants in the morning before I go to work. However, there are days when I can’t and by evening a couple of them start to wilt and droop.

What surprises me is how they revive soon after I water them in the evening! I tried a time-lapse video over an hour or so and you can see how they perk up:

Now there are some downsides. By allowing it to wilt, I usually end up losing a little bit of the plant – a few leaves can never revive. Also if this happens too many times or if I skip a couple of days, I end up losing the whole plant. Well, this is something that I need to think of when I try to keep my life green and rich with Christ. Regular watering is needed and if I don’t do that I may need a revival of sorts!

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Nobody loves me like you do

Once a year the departments of OG, Neonatology and RMU get together to sing a special song at the hospital chapel for the Sunday evening service. Today was the chosen day and I must say it turned out to be quite a good time. We started the ball rolling quite late (Thursday afternoon). After hurriedly choosing Chris Tomlins “Nobody loves me like you”, we had the priceless task of coordinating practice. Try getting a group of doctors ranging from interns to Heads of Departments in the same room at the same time to practice the same song….it actually happened! As usual we discovered talent and enthusiasm and dedication. On Friday we threw in a cajon and recorder and some variations and we were good to go for Sunday. As expected more people landed than expected and after an eventful final practice which also had some Pepsi, Fanta and sandwiches thrown it, the final chapel service lacked nothing. The song was good, the introduction to the song was awesome and the message by Dr. Edwin was a blessing. It was a blessed one hour and we were all thankful.

And all this was right in the midst of a busy weekend on call. Seriously God…… Nobody Loves Me Like You!!

That’s a non-professional phone audio recording. Can you feel the love and the enthusiasm?

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MIGHTY – Leading Worship in Church

As we were struggling to find a worship leader for today, I decided on Saturday to finally volunteer even though I was a little unwell with a sore throat and cough. After committing myself for the task, I told God ‘I promise you God that this illness will not get in the way of me leading worship’. God replied, ‘That’s not your job Benji. Its my job to promise you that your sore throat and cough will not get in the way of worship at Church this Sunday’. Our MIGHTY God kept that promise and we could dwell on the mightiness of God through this time of worship. There is no-one like our God. He is so big, so strong and so mighty. There’s nothing He can’t do. Our God is greater than anything that can bring you down. He is mighty to save – with compassion. In response we sing our praises to the Almighty King of creation.
Song List
1. Who is like the Lord
2. My God is so big
3. Great and Mighty
4. Our God
5. Mighty to Save
6. Praise to the Lord

“MIGHTY” Worship session at Peniel Tabernacle

Footnote: Working out the logistics of the worship session was interesting. Besides the issue with my viral respiratory illness, I started with just one person on vocals and ended with 4 vocalists and a cajon. Definitely a Mighty God!

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The H terminal layover

Experience is quite a teacher and I came up with a robust, but delicate plan (Oh! The paradox of it all). The starting point was Vellore and the destination was Kodaikanal. Rather than a lonely layover at the famed K terminal, I chose the more bustling Hosur junction – let’s call this the H terminal. I booked a combo which would give me a 1 hour break between buses. Neat!

I finished work early and called Bus 1 as there was a discrepancy in the boarding times – it was 1 hour earlier than I thought. No problems. I walked to the office with just a small satchel and waited. A little plastic chair and a hundred flies brought a smile to my face – dejavu? The bus was a comfortable 45 minutes late which suited me fine as it made my wait time about an hour at the H junction – maths is tricky but easy!

I had learnt from experience and when this bus stopped for dinner, I grabbed a chappati and a snack. At 10 PM it rumbled to a halt at H terminal and I could instantly make out a more vibrant, busy place. The walk to the boarding gate at H terminal was a mixed bag of roads and gutters. The office was on the ground level and once again the lone source of light in a dark building. It was a busy place though with more people. I plonked myself onto the plastic chair, whipped out my phone and experienced the joy of waiting again. As usual I had insects for company – they certainly acknowledged my existence. This time I had humans for company – we all swiped at our phones barely acknowledging our existence. And then I had a rat peek out from underneath the desk a dozen times – it was waiting for our existence to cease for its late night party time.  Dozens of buses swished high above me on the bypass flyover, vehicles crisscrossed in the night. Soon the big pink bus thundered in right in front of me and I entered like a pro bus-traveller. There were no dreams this time – just reality. No funny signs, no typos, no bag of air. My spotify one-month free premium subscription kept me company and finally reality dissolved into a dream.

My body rested and recovered as the mammoth bus slithered its way on the highway to the foothills in a few hours and then wove its way to the top through the dark of the night

…. and once again,  there was nothing as refreshing as entering home and feeling the warm embrace of family – followed by a breakfast at Tamara.

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Your Kingdom Come, Your will be done

Today was a positive, interesting time leading worship at Church.

The Gang

With summer vacation, it was difficult to find people to help. D offered to help – she had just started helping with the worship team a week ago. J had also texted saying she will practice and join on Sunday. K was a little unsure. After a little texting PM said she could do sound mixing. So I texted the final song list and was just doing a solo practice at home on Sunday evening, when GK called and said he’ll drop in at home for a brief run through and also catch J for the practice. We had a good practice. Somewhere in the middle, GK also managed to inspire GC to join on Sunday – she has never been part of the worship team, but was interested. So overall, things looked acceptable on Saturday evening.

The Car

With my car in Kodaikanal, getting to Church early was not easy. I sent a request to friends. CS and GC were willing to give his car if someone could take them. Finally SH lent his spare car and this meant I could leave really early to go to Bagayam and pick up PM and D and scoot to church- a trip that took over an hour! As CS and GC still had their car, they came in early to help too. Finally J and GK dropped in too. VM finished a night duty with a delivery and drove 20 KM to get to church on time. This meant PM could also help with vocals. You may need to read this paragraph multiple times to figure out how the jigsaw pieces fell into place together!!

The Worship time

I’ll requote from what I shared on our Church website.

“The Lords Prayer is probably the most often uttered prayer on this planet, be it as words or as song. I was listening to the song multiple times during a late night solo drive from Chennai to Vellore and I was gripped with the beautiful words in this prayer. Your kingdom come, Your will be done is such an intense and deep prayer. We need to open the eyes of our hearts to discover Gods will and surrender to His will. Almost paradoxically, we experience true freedom when we surrender to His will – freedom from the slavery of fear and the amazing experience of being a child of God. We can give Him all the power and the

glory and shout to the Lord. In closing today we pondered on the fact that when we surrender to His will, He will take care of us – an assurance that will help us make it through every trial, trouble and temptation!
It was lovely matching scripture to lyrics as I prepared for leading worship – the powerpoint has relevant Bible verses for each line of No Longer Slaves”
Song List
1. Come on and Celebrate
2. Open the eyes of my heart
3. No longer slaves
4. The Lords Prayer
5. Shout to the Lord
6.God will take care of you

Worship Audio – Worship Powerpoint

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The D terminal layover

Dejavu? The return from Kodaikanal was different, yet so similar (Oh! The paradox of it all!) The plan was finalised a few hours before I left. The starting point was Kodaikanal and the destination was Vellore. The first leg was in a taxi and the second leg was a train. The journey had a stopover at a place called Dindigul – lets call this the D terminal. We planned it to be a 20 minute wait after I got off the taxi. It should be OK!

The ride down the hills was scenic and beautiful. We stopped for a little break and I grabbed some fresh tender coconut water on the roadside – perfect for a hot evening! As I turned into Dindigul, I tried to check the train running status and my shoulders slumped – 2 hours late!! With the temperature in the high 90s this was going to be bad. My heart leapt as I saw there was an Air Conditioned waiting room. It sank below my kidneys as I saw a 1.5 ton Voltas AC in a big room with dozens of people. The half degree drop in temperature inside was welcoming and I plonked myself into a metal chair and discovered the joy of staring at the wall with no bugs or insects for company – somehow I missed those buddies. They were a jolly lot! The occasional train rumbled low on the tracks, while people criss crossed all over the platforms. I didn’t doze. My lip corners turned up into a crooked smile as I read the sign on the wall – I wonder what another valuable was!


I crept out after more than an hour and discovered that the air temperature outside had dropped 3 degrees and it was effectively cooler than the AC waiting room. I shrugged it off and went to the cart for a snack. The bewildering variety of snacks and typos ended with me clutching a pack of air and some chips which set me back 20 Rs. Almost magically, my train was announced. No aerobridge, but there was an elevator on the platform which helped me get to my terminal – platform 1. The trained roared in lazily and I stepped in to the cool AC compartment. After another attempt by IRCTC to entertain me with a non-existent ladder, I swigged down some coke and lay down. Reality dissolved into dreams for a few hours and then the exercise of waking and checking my progress became obsessive as I finally reached my destination a full 4 hours late.

….. and let me tell you, there’s nothing as confusing as entering work and feeling the cold embrace of discharge summaries to be corrected!

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The K terminal layover

At the outset, it was a complicated but simple plan (Oh! The paradox of it all!!). The starting point was Vellore and the destination was Kodaikanal. This route had a junction called Krishnagiri where I had to change buses. There were dozens of buses for the first leg and a handful for the second. I booked a combo that gave me a one hour ‘layover’ at the famous Krishnagiri T Junction terminal. We’ll call this K terminal.

My first bus was a little late and after a short interim halt, I reached Krishnagiri at 10.30 PM. My next bus was at 11.30. So far so good. I walked 1 km to a restaurant I had seen on GoogleMaps and stared at stacked chairs and the counter person counting his days earnings. He gave me “the look” when I asked for food, but smiled and told the cook to make some Chappathi. Hot Chappathi, a milkshake and a rickety toilet break later, I walked to K terminal.

I was greeted warmly at the small Kallada Travels office on the first floor of a dark building right at the K terminal. He wasted no time breaking the news to me. “Your bus is late sir – still hasn’t been able to exit Bangalore due to traffic. The office is full of bugs and insects attracted to the lone light in this building. You’re better off sitting in the corridor overlooking K Terminal a little away from the light”. So I plonked myself into a shaky plastic chair, propped up my feet on the guardrail and discovered the joy of waiting with a million bugs for company. They respected my personal space on most occasions. I swiped at the insects and my phone as minutes ticked on. Dozens of buses swished high above me on the bypass flyover, vehicles crisscrossed in the night and the occasional human being walked past on the road. I dozed, I woke. Reality and dreams merged. It was 1.30 AM when finally my boarding was announced. I waited to step into the aerobridge and board with my eticket.

No aerobridge. “Your boarding point is 1 km away. Please don’t walk it sir, we’ll get a vehicle to drop you”. He locked the office as it was time for him to go home – he’d waited just to keep me safe! The lowslung airport transfer bus dissolved away from my vision and I was shaking in a 3 wheeled autorickshaw which politely dumped me on the side of the highway. “The bus will stop somewhere here sir”.

There is something magical in the sound of trucks and buses and the occasional car whizzing by. It mesmerised me for 20 minutes, before I got a personal call stating the pick-up was about to happen. “Kallada” it said in the big characteristic font and I stuck my hand out and waved as it slowed down. I ran and hopped into the comfortable air-conditioned sleeper bus – no flies, no insects, no buzzes, no stacked chairs. Once more reality merged into dreams – my eyes closed and I slept. My body rested and recovered as the mammoth bus slithered its way on the highway to the foothills in a few hours and then wove its way to the top.

….. and let me tell you, there’s nothing as refreshing as entering home and feeling the warm embrace of family!

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Easter

He is risen!

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End of the beginning

The worship today (Good Friday) at church was led by Surina. It was a lovely time with lots of poignant thoughts shared during the session. The worship session was titled ”nd of the beginning’ and ended with the rendition of the song by David Phelps. It’s been a while since I heard a ‘story song’ and it came out powerfully. I’ll leave you with what Surina shared about the worship session and the song and the song itself.
“Jesus exposed the hypocrisy of the Pharisees. So the Jews thought that if they killed Jesus it would end their problems. Satan was engineering the same thing; if only he could keep Jesus in the grave God’s plan of salvation may be sabotaged. But God had other plans. What the Jews and Satan believed was the end of their problem, was actually only the end of the beginning of the story of salvation that God had been scripting through Jesus life and this story continues to be written even today and will continue until the end of time”.

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My job update

Time certainly flies and I can’t believe that in 2020 I’ll be due for my job confirmation as I would have completed 3 years since doing my DM (Neonatology). This will ensure a permanent career in Neonatology  I’ll have to ensure I tick the correct boxes so the confirmation happens easily. So here is a list of things I’ve done or plan to do. If I don’t get this job confirmation I may need to hunt for a new job across oceans and maybe even over a wall.

1. I got my friends to make a movie about me called DM Benji. My childhood friend played ‘me’ and the guys promised to just call it coincidence that it was released to the workplace just a few days before the decision on my job.

2. I remember a group of us making a visit to a competitive company. We unplugged their coffee machine .This decreased their productivity. I have a short video clip about this that will also be made into a documentary.

3. I will get my sister to come to my workplace and help me in my project. She is not qualified but then she could get me some brownie points

4. My boss and colleagues love chocolate. So I went on a pilgrimage to 3 chocolate factories and posted pics of me at the entrance on Facebook and Twitter .

5. I read the initial job application I’d submitted when I joined the company. I just rewrote it with a few fancier numbers and a new font. I hope they don’t notice that I haven’t achieved some of my objectives. It’s no big deal – sometimes 3-5 years is not enough to do this. Heck! Even 70 years may not be sufficient!

6. I came to work in a tractor one day. Very impressive!

7. I applied for the same job from another job portal just to be safe. Statistically this may double my chances.

8. I winked at a meeting. It may help me get this job…. I hope.

9. I started a new YouTube channel in my name. It plays in the coffee room at my office everyday. It showcases all my achievements and skills but I’ve cleverly branded it a news channel. I also put some of my workout tips on it .

10. In my free time I go to the graves of former employees and bosses. I ponder as I sit in the evening breeze and make dramatic decisions like writing this article.

11. Would making a few statues of me and putting them in the corridors and next to the refrigerator help? Would the people want to do this for me? I couldn’t figure this one. Tough call!!

I hope all this hard work pays off and I get the confirmation. Please wish me all the best.

PS. Any resemblance to political events, past or present, in any country is purely humourous. Enjoy!

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