Sunday, 28 June 2015


I have just been to Sunday Mass and discovered that the analysis of Spirituality in the sermon went over the heads of most parishioners. I will try to make a small attempt to present ‘spirituality’ in a more mundane understanding.
To begin with, there is no spiritual vacuum. Faith transforms. It creates an ascendancy of healthy moral and social values. Belief is a rich and marvelous experience open to all, not only to the mystic. Call it faith or belief, the spiritual dimension within exerts its potential to do good beyond our earthly understanding.

Two forms of spirituality exists, Physical and mental.
Physical spirituality is the advocacy of action in prayer and performance for the Creator’s attention. Prayer Beads contribute to most cultures a form of physical activity some-times for concentration; for rhythm to thought; for the power attributed to vibrations. In Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism, prayer beads prove their potency.
The triumph and fulfillment of prayer in physical spirituality comes on bended knees, raising the arms, using the voice in psalms, chants and song; the sound of ringing bells in temples, churches and places of worship add to this form of holiness. Burning of candles, incense and joss sticks no less.
Dance plays a significant role as well. The Hindu temple dancers. The fertility dances of Egypt, the rain dances of Africa; dances to invoke the Gods for every temporal want, from an abundant harvest, to worship of the almighty. In China, since the constitution was amended in 1982 to permit freedom of religion, the spiritual form of dance is being revived.

The art of physical spirituality is to mobilize energy, prayer and piousness into the web of material creativeness, into paintings, sculpture, designs for houses of prayer; wood carv-ings of statues, they all form the bulwark of the early years of Christianity. Stone figures in Hindu temples are earlier than the millenniums even before Egypt built golden figures of their Gods and pharaohs. Taoism and the Chinese form of spirituality are preserved in images of semi-precious stones in jade, crystal and amber (the most commonly used stones.) Chinese craftsmen were the early masters of the clay figures. They all practiced physical spirituality.
Next, I will conclude with Mental Spirituality.
                                                               - Melvyn Brown (Copyright. 2015)

Speaking about Spirituality - Part- 2     By Melvyn Brown

I had spoken about Physical Spirituality earlier. Today I will tell you a few words on Mental Spirituality.
Mental spirituality is non-rigorous, yet equally demanding. It debunks the feats of shamans and in a less show of attention performs an epiphany of sincere dialogue with the universal forces. There is a wave of theology to prove mental spirituality or for that matter, the concept and existence of God. “Believe”, said Jesus, “and all things are possible”. True.

Belief in mental spirituality will attract the power of good always. Prayers are petitions, practiced by mystics and monks, priests and maulanas across the earth. Religion is no longer the ‘opiath’ of the masses. Religion in the form of mental spirituality compounds a way to cleanse sin and evil without the harsh realities of physical transgression. There is no mind-bending struggle with the power of mental prayers. It is basically a simple act of putting manual effort to spiritual visions.
The simple message in mental spirituality is to harness the floodgates of belief that there is a God who is responsible, loving and ever prepared to forgive and assist us in our honest and sincere desires. Never think negatively. Let it be known that spirituality in deed and thought never lost a soul.

Tuesday, 16 June 2015


Today, Anglo-Indians are struggling in parliament to uphold their Constitutional rights allotting the community two seats in the Lok Sabha. One year has passed since the new government came in – and yet, the decision to give the Anglo-Indian what is rightly his has been kept hanging in midair, and is downright annoying. We need a high-powered delegation to directly tackle our claim and decisively solve the representation issue. Representation is our right.
I grew up in Calcutta when Anglo-Indians were basically happy, carefree and could appreciate the need for simple contrition. The risks of shutting out dissent in family and among friends was always a policy to argue and adjust. Life was truly an admirable issue among us.
Flurys, Magnolias, Blue Fox, Waldorf, Sky Room and the much talked about Trinca’s brings tears when one thinks about the music, the instinctual cabarets and the “grossly dynamic” addiction everyone had towards caring, sharing and enjoying the silken freedom of walking home with friends after two in the morning.
Daybreak after a Saturday-night party was always fun and full of memories. One of the finest Anglo-Indian bands played at Golden Slippers, a block away from Nizams’ scented tea and kati-rolls. The Grand Hotel was one of the most popular places for dance and dinner. But, Anglo-Indians would splurge in the Rangers Club and the Grail.
Everything was dust cheap. From a loaf of bread to a basket of fruits. From movie hall tickets to wine, cigarettes and newspapers. Anglo-Indians were aplenty down most of the street corners and on weekends you would hear music floating out of open windows. Those were the hay-days for tailors and their memsahibs. Unforgettable years, when skirts, blouses, dresses with frills were the correct and proper wear for Anglo-Indian ladies.
There is much more to be said if you would want me to talk about the “good old days”…..

YESTERDAY NO MORE – 2     By Melvyn Brown

Sir Stuart Hogg Market, better known as the New Market was not only a landmark but the heart of a vibrant city – the very nerve centre of the Anglo-Indian people, and they visited the market in a dedicated ritual as you would in going to church on Sunday. Balwin’s the pork shop, Nahoums, D’Gama, Wyse were the regular bread and cake shops. Unique and of a metaphorical kind were the little cubicles selling American ice-cream and cold drinks; everyone’s mama from Chinatown to Bow Barracks took their children for dollups of ice-cream and cold drinks. The establishments were still there in the 50’s and early 60’s. The New Market rode on the crest of laughter and sunshine. We kids would be thoroughly rattled to race in and out of the” cheap-jack” sweet and patties shops lined up at the stern of the butter range.
Entally Market has for generations been known for its wonderful spiced sausages and ‘red meat’ pork. Every Anglo-Indian took pride in its special lunch and dinner on holidays with servings brought from the fish and pork range. The rice-women would come in from nearby villages with sacks of the finest quality rice; from basmati to chowalmuni rice, not to forget the ‘gulabsuri’ and the ‘Dehara-Dun’ rice. In those years ‘corruption’ was an unknown word to the common man and you would always get a fistful more after weighing the amount you needed. The network of shops catering to the needs of one and all will never be forgotten.
Across the road was and is still there, the Roman Catholic Church of Saint Teresa of Avila. People from remote corners of the city visit the church where at some time they were either baptized, married or had a relative’s funeral service held. They called it the church at ‘Moulali’. The church where Louis Vivian Derozio was a parishioner.
I will continue this part of our Anglo-Indian
Heritage in a last instalment next.
Photos Courtesy: New Indian Express

YESTERDAY NO MORE – 3               By Melvyn Brown

“Yesterday, all our troubles seemed so far away…..” Lyrics of a song which haunts the soul of Anglo-Indians in all corners of the world. Nostalgic, no doubt. Indeed. In those days of wine and roses’ our people were an altogether lovable race. Epicurean, but loyal, trustworthy and dependable (that was before Independence, much before drugs, sex and bad politics messed up the order of the day). I remember the summers of hope and the winter holidays as they moved into a colorful tapestry of spring, new life and new avenues for the average Anglo-Indian to rejoice in. Suddenly, because of bad rumours that the community would not be tolerated once the English left the country, many Anglo-Indians decided to immigrate across the globe. The damage had been done. It was a mass exodus happening in a silent wave of sighs and tears. To cover their embarrassment, the people said they were going abroad to have a ‘better life’, and they did have more than they could afford in India at that troublesome time. They had their own home, a car, bank accounts and a clean disciplined life. With all that they would still return for brief spells of holidays and solace. The Indians, on the other hand respected and loved all those who stayed back, even to this day.
Calcutta was my base. My root. It still is, though I would very much like to be with my son at this point in my life. Now I can only flashback to scenes of the past which have lightened my burdens of today, sometimes. From the roller-coaster years of Rock music, ballroom dancing to Rock Hudson and Doris Day and the cowboy movies, never forgetting ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ and the ‘Glass Bottom Boat’, ‘Gone With the Wind’ and ‘Dracula’.
The yesteryears in Calcutta were well documented by Bourne and Shepherd in photographs till it was destroyed in a fire. The Statesman, have a great collection in their newspaper morgue – but, for how long? They are going through hard times it seems. The Globe cinema was closed, the Minerva is no more, the Lighthouse has become a type of mall and the Tiger cinema has vanished. The other halls, Roxy, Metro, New Empire, Regal and the Elite show only Hindi movies.
Jesus said, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” (JOHN. 14:2 ).
Yesterday, after all, may still be there waiting for us who miss those truly golden years. Till we meet again.


Many poor souls today have much to be afraid of in the world. The fear of swine-flu, survival, unwanted fat in the body, blood-pressure problems, depression, terrorists, cardiac surgery, rape, murder, hackers on the net, led in maggi’s noodles, the atmosphere of war, diabetes, the ISIS, hyperactive disorder and many more drum-beating fears.
Fear, as I imagine, is a mind-thing. Saint Pope John Paul 11 said, “Be not afraid”. Basically speaking, having fear is not healthy. A child grows up with the fear of dark places, others with the fear of spiders, insects, worms and snakes.
Some people find it hard to believe that some folks suffer with claustrophobia and the fear of heights. Fear of smoking is slowly growing as the whip-hand of governments lash the cigarette industry and drive mental blows into humankind.
The fear of asteroids hitting the earth must not be forgotten. All these fears keeps coming back, persistent, urgent and seriously for reflection.
In all humility let us have faith and trust in the Lord, His Son Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Surrender your fears to the Trinity. Reflect on it.


When Janet fell in love and married, she became a full-time housewife, then a mother of three, and a very contented woman. But all her friends prodded her with the assumption that had she made a right choice and opted to be a career-woman she would have been financially well off, with much material property and wealth.
Janet smiled. She was happy with the way things were, and would not have asked for more. Her husband was a good man – she never felt for wanting more. Her children were growing up and they were well placed.
For Janet the right choice had been made, to flow with the stream, and to trust in God. Making the right choice in life could be attributed to character and personality; having the cutting edge, being bold, or adventurous; knowing when to weigh the pros and cons before taking the plunge.
Sometimes it could drive a person to being unethical. I remember Janet saying: “We did the best thing we could after looking at our advantages and thinking positively. It worked out”.

Monday, 1 June 2015

How Many Friends Do You Have?

FRIEND or FRIENDS by Melvyn Brown

“How many friends do you have?” I asked a young lad in the crowded auditorium at Park Street, Calcutta.
“Many, Sir!”
“How many?” I went on.
“Too many, Sir. I can’t think of the numbers.”
“And how about you, in the front row: how many friends do you have?”
“Something like seventy, I guess, Sir.”
I smiled, adding: “If you have one friend you’re lucky. Should you have two or three you’re blessed.”
“Excuse me, Sir” a voice boomed from behind the room in the darkness. “What is your definition of a friend, Sir?”
A wave of silence rushed through the packed hall. Every single soul was wondering how I would explain the word ‘Friend’.
For a brief moment I cleared my throat, stepped forward on the stage, and replied : “I’ll make it very simple : anyone, who is prepared to tolerate your nonsense, put up with your sudden bursts of tantrums, and always sticks by your side come- what- may, always understands and forgives you, he is a Friend.” After a brief pause I sealed the evenings event, saying: “All others are your ‘Acquaintance’.

Photo Courtesy: