Why Grandpa Matters

Today, I replied to an email from my long-time subscriber, ‘Grandpa Truman’. It reminded me of my own grandpa, and how a conversation with him long ago touched my life deeply, and changed it.

It was 1999. My father had just had serious health problems – a major heart attack, followed shortly after by surgery for an aggressive cancer. My sister had moved to another town after getting married. And I had received an offer to train in pediatric heart surgery… in London.

In an Indian family structure, responsibility for parents lies with the eldest son. As an only son, mine was clear enough.

On the other hand, for almost 15 years in medical school and residency training, I had dreamed of spending time at a world-class center to hone my skills in neonatal and infant heart surgery.

Ambition vied with responsibility. Caught in the horns of a hard to resolve dilemma, I spent sleepless nights and restless days, caught in endless debate with myself about what to do.

Still confused and unsure about the decision to go abroad, uncertain and hesitant about whether or not it was the right thing to do, I went to visit grandpa.

Slowly I trudged up the three flights of stairs to his spare bedroom on the top floor. Knocked on the green wooden door, and entered.

He saw me and sat up slowly, showing no trace of irritation at being disturbed during his afternoon siesta.

At the time, he was 89 years old. A thin, shriveled, nut-brown man, with barely 4 of his teeth still remaining, and fewer hairs on his shiny bald head. Bags sagged under his eyes that were glazed with age, and deep furrows framed pinched lips. His back was permanently bent by age, his arms and legs withered, looking like match-sticks stuck on to his body.

He wore a dhoti (a length of white cloth wrapped around the waist) that he had secured, strangely enough, with a leather belt, and no shirt – just a sleeveless vest.

He greeted me with an affectionate grunt. And over the next half hour, we had a conversation that completely and radically changed my perspective, touched my life and has remained until today as a touchstone during troubled times.

I told him I was going to London for training. He congratulated me, and then asked me two piercing questions that, like a beacon, established a clarity I had been groping for all along.

“Will it help your career?” asked Grandpa.

“Yes. I will get to see and learn things I cannot do here.”

“Will you make money?” was his next question.

“Yes. It is a paid position, it will be profitable, too.”

“Then go. Train well. Then come back home and serve your people.”

I nodded, looking at the floor, but I guess the troubled expression on my face caught his eye.

“What’s the matter?” he asked.

I told him what was worrying me – dad’s health, my responsibility, my desire to get the advanced training.

He looked straight at me and said these words:

“Go in faith. Remember, the same God who watches over you will watch over your parents.

They echoed in my mind for a long time afterwards. On the drive back home. On the flight to London. On the even longer flight back, when the bad news of mom needing major surgery made the minutes seem like hours.

Remember, the same God who watches over you will watch over them.

I wrote those words in my book, “THE EMOTION PRISM” and have shared them with many others who were facing difficult times.

Very recently, my good friend (and herself a grandma of an autistic girl) Mary Donachy told me those wise words from Grandpa gave her immense comfort and peace to face a challenge in her life.

Grandpa passed away a few years back, at the ripe old age of 97. Whenever I think of him, I recall that special conversation – and smile.

That’s what grandpas are for!

Grandpa and I, Dr.Mani


Gearing Down

You know how it is when you’ve been zooming along until you reach the foothills… and then shift gears down to first, grinding your way, with agonizing slowness, up the steep grade?

It feels as if you’re moving slowly, laboring hard, struggling.

Yet, in a while, you’ll be higher than you ever could be just speeding along the highways in the plains.

How do you feel about “gearing down” – to rise higher?


And You Were Upset About WHAT?

Today, I experienced one of those moments that remind me how much my profession influences my life.

A middle-aged couple consulted me about a month-old baby they had just adopted, and only afterwards discovered had a heart defect. Fortunately, it was a simple condition that may not require surgery, so I reassured the anxious parents that there was little to worry about at the present time.

But then, as I was getting their back-story, a sad tale unfolded. They had 4 children of their own earlier, all boys – and 3 had died of other birth defects, with the last waiting on a liver transplant list!

As I listened to them share their stressful life experiences, I couldn’t help but marvel at how much courage, fortitude and faith this amazing couple was showing every day – and at how trivial my own problems seem in contrast.

Many things were disturbing my peace of mind this past week. After consulting with this family, all of them faded away. I’m left with nothing but a deep sense of gratitude for life, and all that it has given me.


What were you upset about before reading this post?

Are you, still?


A Decade of Daddying

Daddy Girl

“It’s that moment before. Before it all changes and becomes what it is to be.”


Twitter – As LIFE!

Tweet like you have a MILLION followers.  I mean RESPONSIBLY!

This was the tweet that set off the thought that caused this post.

Twitter – like life – has never been a ‘popularity contest’… regardless of how hard some folks have recently attempted to make it one. That’s why, when I tweeted this last night, so many picked up on it and retweeted the note:

Live like you’ll die tomorrow.
Learn like you’ll live forever.
Tweet like you’ve got a MILLION followers.

When the celebrity juggernaut descended in force upon Twitter, it crushed all existing limitations – and dogma. Almost overnight, the ‘old Twitterati’ who were proudly proclaiming their meteoric rise to 10,000 or 20,000 or maybe 30,000 followers were dwarfed beside the Ashton Kutchers and CNN Breaking News behemoths with their one MILLION plus follower counts!

All of a sudden, these have-been Twitter mega-stars are seeing the facade of big follower figures for the “Emperor’s New Clothers” that it has always been. And are making compelling arguments to justify its elimination from the Twitter interface itself.

Why, pray, did they not consider the ever so simple alternative? Ignore the meaningless number altogether!

When celebrities come to Twitter, they don’t start all over from scratch. No. They port their already massive following from across multiple channels to this one. And then, they add more fans from the existing Twitter user base of millions – some of whom will be fans who earlier had no way to connect with their heroes and stars.

That’s why ‘follower count’ is irrelevant. It has always been. Irrelevant to everyone ELSE. Irrelevant even to yourself!

Do you go through life obsessed by how many people are ‘following you’? Not unless you’re a celebrity. Or a paranoid delusional, but we won’t go there 🙂

So why should this be any different on Twitter? On Twitter, as in life, no one should have to care about how many others follow anyone – or you.

Then what is Twitter about?

Twitter is a movement. Twitter snuck up silently behind us. It took us by surprise. It revolutionized online networking and communication.

Who would have believed that a micro-blogging service with a 140-character limit would catch on to the point where Oprah, Sylvester ‘Rocky’ Stallone and Stephen R.Covey among others would consider voluntarily getting on the steep (if short) learning curve to Twitter mastery.

But they have. And with good reason.

What if Twitter decided to remove follower counts from its interface tomorrow? Will it change the way you use Twitter? Why?

It shouldn’t. Because the key to effectively engage on Twitter – and in life – is simple, straightforward and sweet…


Tweet for 2 followers as you would for 2 million. Responsibly. With compassion, care and concern for others. From a platform of authenticity, generosity and sharing.

Just as you would live your life – in an ideal world.

Twitter – like life – is not about numbers. Not followers. Not even money. (Heck, they don’t even have a publicly stated or understood profit model yet!)

If you live your life chasing a number – ANY number – you miss out on a lot of the variety and spice of living. Ditto for Twitter.

Immerse yourself into the experience, though, with a spirit of exploration, enjoyment and exchanging value, and you’ll understand how much more there is.

To Twitter.

And to Life.

Because Twitter is life.

You better believe it!


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