October 28th, 2008


Voluntary Work

Some of us feel that we can contribute to the world we live in by doing voluntary work. And as long as we are able to contribute well, and regularly, this is very satisfying and is a win-win situation...some good work gets done, and we feel happy at having done something that is not just self-oriented.

But often, one cannot always combine one's regular work and the voluntary work. Meetings happen when professional or personal commitments clash; one is out of town sometimes; and there are occasions when, on a fairly regular basis, one is not able to attend or contribute.

This often gives rise to what I call "Volunteer Guilt". "Oh, I promised to take this issue to heart, and work for it, but here I am, unable to devote time or effort to it." This guilt is sometimes assuaged by what is popularly called "throwing money at the problem"...instead of contributing in terms of effort and time, one contributes money instead. But the guilt never does go away, because one knows that it is the effort one wants to put in.

Sometimes, indeed, a piquant situation happens when one is volunteering one's effort for one cause and so cannot attend some event or do something important to another one! If I have a cycling rally (advocating cycling instead of taking the car) and a meeting regarding tree-felling, I must take a decision about which to attend..and then, if a friend falls ill that morning, everything gets shelved because I am going to be with the friends through the day! So priorities are often difficult to establish, and maintain steadily.

I think it is important that we do not fall prey to Volunteer Guilt. I have to accept that there are times when my family, or my writing, or whatever, *does* take priority over the volunatary work I want to do. This is, after all, work that I have undertaken to do in my *spare* time, so, even though I try my level best, there will be times when it is not possible.

Volunteering is NOT an easy task. Very often, the time taken is NOT in one's control. A meeting with government officials may start more than an hour after the stipulated time, and go on interminably. Initiatives may fizzle out. Scheduled meetings may not happen. In just the same way as I am unable to devote time that day, other volunteers may also have insuperable difficulties.

So those of you who feel this Volunteer Guilt...as long as you know that you ARE doing what you can, when you can, over and above the call of duty...don't let the occasional inability get you down. On every volunteer group, there will be members whose intentions are good, but who are, for various reasons, prevented from contributing as much as they can.

But, on the other hand, do not underestimate the help which just your mere presence can make. If it is a public rally, it is easy to think, "Oh, I haven't been going for the meetings, how will my being there help?" Most certainly your presence WILL help. So...even if just means adding your mental and physical presence to a protest, a meeting, or an initiative....that's a great help, too.

This post was brought about by one guilt-ridden post from someone.....I think we should all learn to be a little easy on ourselves!


What did I do over the weekend? Not much in the way of festive celebrations, but we were with the only family KM and I have now, and with dear friends...that was happiness enough.

A post without pictures....!


Photography vs. the Message....

This is a clear illustration of what a photograph means to different people.

I wanted to post a message for Deepavali on my blog, and decided to try out online editing on Photobucket and I chose a (yes, I admit it) somewhat random photograph for the trial, and since I was running out of time, posted the pic with the message added.

Comments as usual were few, but when I met a friend over the weekend, I asked why s/he had not commented. "Why did you choose THAT photograph?" this person asked.

To this person, the quality of the photograph is more important than the message, so the feeling was that the less-than-desired quality of the photograph did not merit a reciprocal comment.

To me, the documentation of the message ("Happy Deepavali") is more important than whether the flowers are in focus and crisp and clear and the photo is well-composed.

Different strokes for different folks! Now, when I see no comments, I don't know if it's the bad photograph that people are refraining from criticising, or the message itself is not important enough for them to respond to...

Hm. Something to be mulled over!

So meanwhile, here's a less-than-perfect, but to me, lovely photograph of the very pretty girl who played the part of the heroine of "Choon Hyang", a Korean musical by 20 children from Theatre Seoul, the review of which I will be putting up on Citizen Matters shortly.... it was a wonderful way to spend a birthday, with friends, watching children from a land far away, dance, and sing, and entertain us.....

Choon Hyang..the heroine

A thing (or a human being) of beauty IS a joy forever!