Smoking banned in the Ashram but Smokers neither banned nor condemned! – 26 Apr 15

I have made it a habit now to tell you about something current of my life on Sundays. Today, it will be a few thoughts that were sparked by a conversation that I had yesterday. An Ashram guest was very positively surprised when we told her we wouldn’t mind it if she smoked and neither if she drank coffee!

We are a very untraditional, unconventional and unreligious Ashram. We have no rules in place for your behavior and what you do at what time of the day. The only things we forbid is alcohol or drugs in the Ashram and smoking on the room or in the garden. If you are a smoker, no problem, just go outside the Ashram and smoke in front of the gate! Really, many visitors do – and it is no problem for us!

Many times people come here with a certain tension, having decided that they want to go to India and come to the Ashram but then worrying because they have their nicotine addiction! Where would they be able to smoke? You can imagine their relief when they hear our stand – and more than often, they are surprised.

The reason is that there are a lot of Ashrams that have very strict rules and a very narrow idea of what you should be doing. The base of this, of course, is their belief, usually their Hindu religion with the influence of their guru’s views or teachings! If their group or sect preaches that chocolate is harmful, nobody in their Ashrams is allowed to eat chocolate!

The same holds true for coffee and that’s how it always is another huge surprise for many people when we ask them whether they would prefer a coffee to the chai, Indian spiced tea, which they would usually get here.

Why would I judge you about such things? My recommendation would be not to smoke because it is bad for your health. I would not like to stand next to you while you smoke because I don’t want to be harmed and cannot stand the smell. At the same time however, I wouldn’t think you are a bad person because you smoke!

It is your decision and your responsibility what you like to do to your own body. As long as you don’t harm others and behave with love and respect towards the people around you, you are most welcome at the Ashram. Be yourself and enjoy life – I can promise you, I won’t judge you on such habits!

User Guide for Swami Balendu, Chapter Two: Meat, Alcohol and Cigarettes – 27 Oct 13

Last week I told you how my friend was joking around about having to write a guide on how to deal with me. We had much fun talking about the little differences in between my lifestyle and the normal western one but when I thought about it seriously, there were of course some things which people were not sure about before they really met me and got to know my attitude, ideas and way of living.

It didn’t matter for example how many years I had spent in the west, I had not – and still haven’t – swayed from being a convinced vegetarian. I believed and still believe that it is the best for your body if you don’t eat meat and I also thought and think that it is the natural food for humans. It is not necessary to kill animals for us to survive and I feel it is cruel of humans to slaughter all different kinds of animals for meat, not to mention the horrible circumstances they are being kept in, the environmental consequences and how many hungry people we could feed with the food that is used for those animals.

I grew up in a vegetarian town and also with my later work, I was always surrounded by vegetarians. In these circumstances I actually had a very bad opinion of meat-eaters when I was younger. I thought them to be cruel and I actually didn’t think that any good person could be eating meat. This changed when I came to the west.

After a short time I realized that this was a difference of culture and growing up and that there were a whole lot of lovely people who were meat-eaters! Once thing could not change however: I still cannot eat at the same table where meat is being eaten. I feel physically unwell when someone eats meat in front of me. I cannot eat my normal food – I just don’t have any appetite when there is this dead flesh lying in front of me! I cannot stand the smell either, it makes me feel sick! I have several times eaten after someone or at a different table just to be able to eat my food in peace. Mostly however the other party values our common meal more and we eat something vegetarian together – after all, mostly I cook a delicious and wholesome Indian meal that doesn’t give room for missing anything!

I tell about my eating habits when anybody asks or I am at a place that is new for me where people don’t know me yet. After hearing this, many people assume that I would not like to sit at a table with them when they drink alcohol. That however is a different story! I would obviously not like watching anybody get drunk – and I have very rarely actually met someone I knew in a state of real drunkenness. If someone has a glass of wine or a beer with dinner or afterwards, when we are sitting together, I really don’t mind. I have never tried alcohol in my life and I have no intention of ever doing so but I realize that you don’t get drunk from one glass and that you are most probably not addicted to it either! It doesn’t make me think you are an alcoholic and while I won’t join you or serve alcohol to you in my home, I will enjoy an evening at your home also if you decide to open a bottle of champagne.

In order to complete this topic, there should be another aspect mentioned: what about smoking? Well, I would not like to sit in a room where the smoke is hanging under the ceiling and where my clothes will smell horrible once I come out. I would prefer not to stand next to you when you are smoking because when you blow the smoke in my direction, it irritates my nose. But no, while I think it is bad for your health and you should quit smoking, I don’t think you are a bad person. You have an addiction, that’s all.

So these were the main aspects – but apart from that I was and am quite easy to be with!

Shock: 13-year-old Girl selling her Body for Pocket Money – 8 Apr 12

The woman with whom I stayed at my first stop in New Zealand worked at a youth center and she invited me to hold a talk there, too, and to talk to the teenagers there. The children who came there did not live with their families anymore. Their parents had lost custody because of drugs, problems with the law or other things that made the government decide that they were not able to take care of their children. So these teenagers lived at another place and came to this youth center for learning and spending the day. It was their school and place to hang out at the same time.

The children had got an introduction about me before I came there and so they had a lot of questions about my life and about my stay in the cave. They asked why I went into the cave, how I spent my time there and more questions that I was actually used to and which I often replied. They were maybe 30 to 40 children and teenagers from the age of ten to 18 and they were really very interested in who I was and what I did. I told them more about India and Vrindavan, about my family and of course also a bit about spirituality.

For me it was the usual talk and questions but it was a very different experience to be with teenagers of their background. My host had told me before we went there that many of them had big problems because of their past and their family. Many of them smoked and also took drugs. The people who now took care of them tried to save them from addictions and hard drugs, they stopped the younger ones from smoking and of course smoking was not allowed in the center. I saw however that the older teenagers went out onto the street to smoke. I was told that a lot of these kids had started smoking at a very young age – it was normal in their homes to have cigarettes and alcohol lying around just reachable for them.

On one hand I felt great that the government had made a structure or a system in which children whose parents don’t take proper care, who were abused and who could not have a normal childhood in those families could get support. In India these children might have ended up doing child labour, working in factories or begging on the street. It was much better like this. They had a good place to live, a place where they got education and where some loving people took care of them. They got someone who would listen to them and show them the right way in life.

On the other hand it was horrible to hear what these children had already faced in their short lives. My host told me what parents had done to those children, how they had been neglected and how they had come to this center.

I remember a boy whose parents were heavy drug addicts and most of all I remember one 13-year-old girl. My host told me that this girl, at this young age, was doing prostitution in order to earn money. I was shocked to hear this. She was sitting there among the others, talking to me and looking just normal but the people of this center, those who took care of the kids, had caught her several times at the attempt to sell her body. Whenever she got a chance she would sneak out and try to earn some pocket money.

I could not understand how she got to the idea to earn money by selling her body. I had heard about human trafficking and knew that prostitution of young girls happened in India and in Thailand but there it was a fully different situation! In many countries children are forced into prostitution, it is an organized crime, but this girl was doing it herself! Why did she start and how did she get this idea? What would she do with the money? Buy cigarettes? And an even bigger question: who would give this child money to buy her body for some time, to have sex with a young girl?

It was the first time that I got in touch with this kind of situation. It was painful to see that and at the same time good to see the effort of people who were trying to help. Seeing this, I just wished them success with their work, much strength and I prayed for children all over the world not to get into such situations. It was an experience that left a deep impression on me.

Smoking and drinking during Pregnancy poisons your Child – 1 Aug 11

Yesterday the weather seemed to get better in the evening, the sun came out and it was really a little bit warm, nearly like the summer weather that it should be in the end of July. Together with our friends Thomas and Iris we thus decided to go out for some ice-cream in our favourite ice-cream parlour. We parked the car and got out to walk down the road towards the ice-cream parlour. On the way there we passed a couple and the woman was highly pregnant. By the size of her belly you might guess that she was in the 8th month of pregnancy. She had a cigarette in the hand and was smoking.

I looked around and indicated to the others to see that there was a pregnant woman smoking. She must have noticed that we were talking about her, because she looked at us with a glare, took another deep drag and then threw down the cigarette to the floor practically in front of our feet, exhaling the smoke provokingly from her mouth.

We walked by but this image remained in our minds. Of course we started talking about this and I remembered that just some time ago we had seen a pregnant woman who was fully drunk. Another day we saw a young mother pushing a children’s push chair with a baby of maybe one year with one hand, cigarette in the other.

Why do you do this? Who gave you the right to do this to your unborn child? If you cannot leave your addiction, why do you get pregnant? Don’t you know the consequences that your child might have to face? It is one of the first and foremost rules in pregnancy. Your doctor will tell you right in beginning not to smoke and not to drink alcohol during pregnancy! It is medically proved that it causes severe harm to the fetus!

Thomas, who is working in a school for handicapped children, told that the mother of one of their students tells proudly that she smoked two packets of cigarettes on each day of her pregnancy. She had not been unaware of the possible effects, she knew it but did it nevertheless. Now she has a handicapped child. He also told that he has seen children in kindergartens whose parents have been smoking and drinking during pregnancy and they were very slow in their development. Alcohol and cigarettes are a no-go during pregnancy!

It makes me sad and I feel terrible about these mothers and parents. I know that I cannot do anything to help the unborn child or the young child. They know the truth, they are not uneducated and are unaware, they know it but poison their children nevertheless! If you went to them and asked them why they smoke and drink while pregnant, they would just ask you what right you have to talk to them. ‘It is my body and my child, what do you have to do with this? I will do what I want.’ I feel helpless. It is true, I cannot do anything, but it still hurts to see this. Why does it hurt me and make me angry? Am I unnecessarily over-sensitive? I cannot do anything else but pray for these unborn and newly-born children and express my feelings here in my diary.

Some time ago I wrote about parents buying alcohol for their teenage children. Why not buy alcohol and cigarettes for your children, if they get it anyway already while they are in your womb and through the mother’s milk when breastfeeding? Why would children not start smoking and drinking themselves?

Think about what you are doing there! It hurts my heart, why doesn’t it hurt yours?

Are you ready to buy Alcohol and Cigarettes for your Teenager? – 19 Jul 11

When people talk about the lack of respect in teenagers, as I did yesterday, they often in the same sentence also mention that teenagers nowadays drink and smoke, outside in the street in front of everyone’s eyes. It is very concerning when you see how a young child gets drunk. How do you feel when you take a walk and you see an 11-year-old child smoking at the bus stop?

Maybe you feel sorry or maybe you don’t feel and think anything because it is not your child. Maybe you think ‘Where are his parents?’ and walk on. Imagine that was your child. What would be your reaction? What would you feel? It may not be your child but it is someone else’s child. It could be yours, too! Maybe your child also drinks and smokes and just takes care not to do it in front of you.

You know how the smoke of the cigarette harms the lungs of this child. You know, when you see teenagers drink, that the young liver is damaged by the alcohol. You cannot do anything because it is not your child. You pass by and go away. As a parent you pray that this may never happen with your children. But they are also someone’s children.

Working with people, I see the problems that parents have with their teenagers. When their 14-year-old son comes home in the afternoon and seems to be drunk. When parents have found cigarettes hidden on the balcony of the 13-year-old daughter.

Of course all parents have given lessons to their children many times and they and their children know it is bad. But the children see their elders drink and smoke themselves. They know you would be angry if you knew and that’s why they hide it from you.

When you teach them, it may be difficult for them to learn. They are not as good in learning as they are in following your example. It is easier if you give them an example. Children want to be adult and they want to do what the older people around them do. You can be sure, if you give a lecture to your child about not smoking or drinking while you have a glass of alcohol on your table and a cigarette in hand, it does not work. As a parent, you first need to set those values for yourself which you want to give as guidelines to your children.

Maybe parents who cannot set a good and clear example give their children a rule like ‘You can drink one beer, not more’ or ‘You can smoke one cigarette a day’. Do you think this is really effective? If you allow one bottle of beer or one cigarette, you already give them a permission to do everything. For them the way is clear, they know what to do. They surely tell you ‘Of course I only smoke one cigarette per day’ but the reality looks different. Whenever you will see them smoking, they will tell you that this is the first one on that day. You are not in the position to say anything then. You may have allowed soft alcohol or only a bit but your children will find their way.

This is however not the end of this story! Things have got much worse already. Imagine the following situation: your 13-year-old son wants to go to a party with his friends. They want to drink alcohol and they tell you that but they cannot buy alcohol for the party because it is not allowed by law. Now they are standing there and ask you to help them. I have seen parents who then accompany their children, go to the supermarket with them and buy alcohol. Their children don’t only want to have beer though, they want to have vodka! And so this child, who would not even have been able to buy beer, gets very strong alcohol to go to a party. What are you doing to your child? You have given birth to this child and you know this child’s liver is still developing to its full function. Now tell me, if you allow this, why should your child not go for binge drinking with a group of friends? Why would your child not drink until he falls unconscious and has to go to hospital?

When I saw this, I got tears in my eyes and I thought how a mother can do that? I felt very sad but what can I do? I feel helpless, seeing those situations in this society. I only can get sad, express my pain in these words and ask parents to set their values. Do not destroy the body of a child whom you have brought to this world. There are even parents who smoke and drink while they are pregnant. They don’t have the slightest feeling or sensitivity towards this topic and these children get those habits already with the mother’s milk.

This all happens on the name of freedom and parents explain me that they have to be modern and go with time. I will never approve this and don’t think any parents should do this to their children. I don’t mind if people say I am not modern, I can accept that, but I would never do this to my children.

Unfortunately this topic also is a very difficult one as it is very much accepted in today’s society. Just like yesterday’s topic, this way of thinking just doesn’t fit to my values. When I wrote yesterday that teenagers lack respect when they talk to their parents, I did not receive much response or feedback. It is because it is acceptable and normal for parents today. The society has also accepted alcohol and smoking. It is normal that young people do that. It will not however make me stop talking about it. I bring my pain out in this way, even if people prefer to close their eyes and go on how it is. It is not the right way.

Do Hormones really make Teenagers yell, scream and insult their Parents? – 18 Jul 11

I would like to continue the topic of the last week and keep on writing about teenagers, children and parents as well as their relation to each other.

A very big problem that I see especially in western culture is the lack of respect in this relation. In my opinion respect is very important and every child has to learn it. If they don’t know the meaning of respect, if they just never learned it, they don’t have respect for anybody or anything. They won’t respect their parents, they won’t respect their surroundings and they won’t respect themselves either! So many teenagers don’t respect themselves as they are and they don’t respect and value what they have got in life. They have security in a family, they have their parents and they are loved by them. This all cannot be respected if a child never learned respect in his or her home.

I have been travelling and working in the west for more than ten years now and I have met thousands of families. One thing that always surprises me and which often makes me sad and disappointed is how children and especially teenagers talk with their parents in the west, lacking every possible respect.

I come from a very different culture in which I have learned to give respect. I am very thankful and proud that I have learned it. I never spoke in the tone and language to my parents as I hear teenagers talk to their parents here. They use an abusive language that I could never imagine any child to use in front of their parents! Which words they use and in which tone they speak! They just abuse their parents with the worst words of their vocabulary, screaming and yelling at them! Before I saw this in the west, I could never have imagined that this is possible and I would never expect anybody to talk to me in this way.

Worse however and an even bigger surprise was the response of the parents. They seemed to accept it as normal! Many parents don’t even react. It seems that it has become a normal talking tone and normal vocabulary for them. They accept it. In my opinion this acceptance encourages the child to get wilder and talk to them in an even worse manner. It is not right to make them feel that it is okay what they are doing.

When this happens in front of me, parents sometimes feel ashamed that their child got so aggressive, loud and disrespectful. In those cases I have often heard a great excuse: ‘That is the hormones in this age’. They try to convince me but also themselves that their child’s behavior is fully normal. In puberty and teenage, it is normal to behave like this. Every child does this because of the change of hormones in that age. I really wondered a lot about this explanation. I have also passed my teenage and so have my siblings and friends but I never behaved like that and never saw any of my siblings or friends act in this way. We have had many children at the Ashram for whom we are the parents and I never heard any of them speak to us like that. If the reason really were the hormones, wouldn’t everybody have that, regardless his country of origin or culture?

In fact, this is the worst excuse I ever heard but I know where it comes from. Parents don’t want to admit their mistakes and don’t want to realize that it is also their fault. Their children lack respect and just didn’t learn how to talk properly to their parents. Their parents in turn try to justify this. Let me tell you however, if you do this, it is another mistake! If your children hear you justify their behavior and if you think it is normal, they will get more and more wild and will not stop insulting you in ever worse ways! They can also say ‘It is the hormones’. You showed them that you approve of this explanation, so it doesn’t matter if they are disrespectful, smoke, drink and do what they want, no matter what you think about it.

Those situations occur especially in developed countries where manners have a very big value. People often think of Indians as a rural population, like tribal people, wild and without proper manners but I don’t see this there, I see here, in the west, that children just get wild and parents accept it! Nobody makes an effort to change them! How come? What about their manners? You teach them how to use cutlery properly and when to say thank you and sorry but you are not able to teach them how to behave and talk to their parents? Why can’t you give a clear guideline on what you want to hear in your home?

Set limits! Be strict about them! Teach your child respect! You have to make clear that certain vocabulary, a certain tone and also a certain volume should not be used in any kind of discussion with you and in your home. If they are warned and know that there are consequences, they won’t do it. If you accept it and give excuses and justifications, they cannot learn it.

Of course you are not supposed to give them the wrong example by talking to or about your own parents in this way. If you do this, you are in no position to control your children because they learn it from you. If that is not the case however, and the child learned this language and behavior from friends or in school, you have the possibility to stop them. Give them a clear and strict limit and don’t make exceptions.

If you have difficulties being strict in this point, realize the consequences of this behavior. Maybe you can bear it because they are your children but what about the people around you? Your children do not learn to have respect. They don’t respect the love you give them and what you provide them and they will not respect anybody else either. They take things for granted. Whatever you have provided them, whatever they get from anybody else, their own comfort, their own security, love, happiness and more. Children without respect are not thankful, also not as adults. Additionally they don’t even respect themselves. They start having psychic problems, don’t love themselves and don’t respect their body and feelings. Sometimes they even start hurting themselves. And there is nobody to stop them and set them limits. If they are not nice to you, why would they be nice to themselves?

See these consequences and realize that you set those limits and are strict so that your child has a good future. Children need to learn respect.

Children and Teenagers need a Balance of Control and Freedom – 14 Jul 11

Yesterday I wrote about overprotective parents who give guidelines to their children for each little detail of their lives. It keeps them from making their own decisions and taking their responsibility. What happens however when parents do the exact opposite? When they don’t give any guidance at all?

The result is clear: they go wild and are uncontrollable already in their early teenage. If you are not there to restrict and control them in those areas where they need it, they will definitely try out everything they can. And if you don’t support them with guidance in important questions, they will not learn to respect you. They have to do everything on their own, if you leave them to it. Of course they will learn quickly but maybe not in the way you would like them to. There are several areas of life in which children need restrictions, limits, control and also help in taking decisions. You cannot leave them fully to themselves, even in their teenage, when they seem old enough. They may already have grown taller than you in size but they have not made that much experience yet.

Until a certain age children need someone to keep an eye on how they utilize their free time. Their minds are not fully developed yet and they don’t have enough experience to decide what is right and what is wrong. They could find something to do which is dangerous but which they think of as interesting and adventurous. Especially in this modern time of internet and technology they have a lot of possibilities even from their home. There are video games, many of which are very violent and not suitable for them, and there are many ways they could even start gambling online. Take care of what they do in their free time and on the computer.

At home you can make rules as to what to do and what not to and they are very important but what about the time when they are out with friends? When they are not in your immediate reach? You don’t really have control in that time, so what if your 11-year-old boy sees older and much cooler guys smoking and drinking and decides that he also wants to smoke?

Then, too, you have to have a very clear decision as a parent and give a clear guideline for him not to touch cigarettes or alcohol. This education starts already before he spends more time outside with friends. Give your child clearly the instruction that tobacco and alcohol are off limits. Otherwise your child will become one of them. It has become quite normal these days to see children of that age smoking on the road, boys and girls alike. You, the parents, have to control your children. It is your responsibility and you shape their future by giving such limits. Don’t think that you are helpless. You are not. They live in your home and you are the parents. Make clear from the beginning that you are the one to set the rules and you want your children to stick to those rules. It may be difficult sometimes to stay strict but it is necessary.

As a parent, you have to be in balance and provide balance to your offspring. Children need freedom but at the same time there are some rules that the small ones need to follow. You have to set limits and boundaries for both, yourself and your children. For your child, this means a clear set of rules for things that it is supposed to do and not to do and freedom in other areas where it can develop and make its own experience. And for you this means that you give yourself a guideline for how much will you interfere in your child’s life. Stop yourself when you do too much and also stop yourself when you leave them too free and without limits. Keep the balance for you and your child.

Joy of having a Friend from Germany at the Ashram – 3 Jul 11

We landed in Delhi in the midday and at the airport we were welcomed by my brothers Purnendu and Yashendu. They had been looking forward to meet my German friend who had so spontaneously accompanied me to India.

Together we started towards Vrindavan. On the way, my friend had the wish to stop somewhere for a chai. He had been in India before but not in our area and he knew that you can get chai, Indian tea, nearly everywhere along the road. We stopped, took a small break and he drank his chai before we went on. It was nice to see that he felt good in his surroundings and that it was easy for him to just be there in India, in that culture.

Just as it had been the first time for me to live in the house of a foreigner when I had been with him, it was the first time for me and my family to host a foreigner in our home. We all, my whole family, were excited and happy to have him there. He stayed at the Ashram with my brothers and me and a group of students who were living there to learn Sanskrit and about the scriptures. We also still had cows at the Ashram. I vividly remember a few incidents of the time that he spent with us in India in 2001.

As it had been my habit before, we went to my parents’ house for dinner to eat together with the family every day. I remember one of those days, maybe one of the first ones of his stay, when we were at dinner in my parents’ home. As usual, my mother was cooking and my sister served the food to the plates. As usual in India, she always came to everyone and asked if they wanted more. In this way she came to my German friend and he accepted the bread, he accepted the rice, the vegetables, the dal and also when she brought it again. He was eager to taste it all and the food was really great, and so he had a really full plate and was obviously not able to eat it all. I think he just did not have the idea to say no when my sister came with food.

I had known that my friend always smoked one cigarette after dinner. He did not otherwise smoke, only one in 24 hours and that after dinner. He went outside of the Ashram to smoke his cigarettes and in the beginning he asked me, the rest of the cigarette in the hand, where he should throw it away. I looked at him and could only shrug my shoulders. I had no idea where you should throw this away! He became inventive then and we could see him how he squatted down at the road after each of his cigarettes and dug a hole into the sandy ground. He threw his cigarette rest in there and covered the hole with sand again. It was very nice to see this as he did not just throw it away anywhere but actually cared about it.

It was a great time. We laughed a lot with each other and about each other, each other’s habits and each other’s cultures. Getting to know another person and his culture in this way is really wonderful and my friend was so open to get to know more that we all enjoyed showing him around, cooking for him, talking to him and taking him to different places.

Of course we showed him Vrindavan and the surrounding towns. We went to Agra with him to the Taj Mahal and to Fatehpur Sikri. We even drove to Khajuraho, where we visited the popular Kama Sutra Temples which are of course always interesting for tourists in India. It is a distance of about 500 kilometers and we drove by car. It was Yashendu, my friend and I who went there. Yashendu and I were taking turns in driving and on the way back, my German friend wanted to drive, too. So we switched and there he was, driving on the left side of the road in Indian traffic. It may have taken a few minutes for him to get used to it but then he was pretty good and drove quite a while. He was behind the steering wheel for about two hours and we really had much fun. Until today he is the only one of my western friends who ever dared to drive our car in Indian traffic.

This is how our time together passed quickly and the last day before my friend’s departure came. When we came back from dinner at my parents’ house in the evening, we were standing in the Ashram and looking into each other’s eyes. I am a very emotional person and with the feeling of that evening and looking into his eyes, I felt tears dwell up and run down my cheeks. He also got tears in his eyes and so we were standing there, just looking at each other. I will never forget that beautiful feeling. We hugged each other tightly.

On the next day I took him to Delhi.

Do not mind different Opinions among Friends – 17 May 11

Yesterday I wrote that if someone is a real friend, it doesn’t matter to your friendship if you change your belief or philosophy. Today I want to add that it should not even matter if you have a different opinion than each other from the very beginning. It is fully fine and it doesn’t mean that you cannot love each other.

I often give the example of my oldest friend Govind. We are very different from each other, have a lot of different habits and opinions. Still we are friends, see each other when we both are in Vrindavan, we meet, we talk and we love each other. It doesn’t matter that we have different opinions.

Opinions are a bit like different taste. When we three travel together, there can be several points in which we don’t fully agree. Ramona loves eggplant whereas Yashendu absolutely does not like it. We manage to cook eggplant from time to time so that we can enjoy it but also make something separate for Yashendu as well. It works and it doesn’t matter that they have different taste.

If I have a friend who smokes but I don’t smoke, we can be friends anyway. I even write in my diary that I don’t approve of smoking but I still love my friends who smoke. I am a vegetarian and openly and always advocate vegetarianism but still have many good friends who are not vegetarian. There can be many examples like these but the main point is that even if I don’t agree with a point of my friends’ lives or if they don’t agree with a certain aspect of my life, we still can be friends.

So if I write something in my diary about one of these points, for example that I think people should recycle their garbage but you do not recycle or if I believe one should not drink alcohol, especially if one’s children are around but you do exactly that, we can still be friends.

I have made the experience that people minded it very much whenever I wrote negatively about something that they actually did in their lives. Some people even got very angry, thinking that I am writing about them in particular. This made me think from time to time, before writing a diary entry: ‘Oh, if I write this, maybe he or she could think I am writing about them! I should talk to them before!’ The reality is however that I cannot warn everybody every time that I write something that could concern them, too. To how many people can I talk?

I explained before, too, that nothing that I write is in any way personal. Of course I get inspiration from everything around me but I like to talk in a wider range. You may think that I am talking about you but what you don’t realize is that your neighbor has the same problem. I usually write about things that concern many people, not only individuals.

This is why, if I have written something in the past or write something in the future that you find in your life and that fits to you please don’t take it personal and don’t mind it. It is meant for a large number of people to read, not only for you, the individual. And it is only my opinion. If yours is different, it is fully fine for me, too. You, your love and your friendship is valuable to me. I love you.

The Wish of Teenagers of Be Adult – 15 Jan 11

I mentioned yesterday already that teenagers do many things in order to look adult to the people around them. Often these things are all those which their parents don’t approve of. They start smoking, they drink more than is good for them when they are with friends or on parties, girls wear clothes that seem to invite boys and boys make moves towards every girl they think is receptive for their charms. And this all starting at the age of 12.

Why do they do this? Because they want to be adult. Why does it vary from country to country what exactly children do? Because adults behave differently in different countries. In India, many men chew tobacco with betelnut and then spit it out at the side of the street or some corner. So when boys here are 15 or 16 and when they want to look adult, they secretly go and buy one of the small plastic packs in which you get this mixture. Although it does not taste good at all and is harmful for the body, they chew, smile at each other and spit it out again. One more step towards really being adult!

You need to see that there are quite a lot of small things, some more harmful and some less, which children can imitate to feel adult. Whether it is alcohol, nicotine, tobacco or even only coffee, these all are ingredients in the main dish of life that you get to eat when you are adult. They don’t want only the appetizers anymore. And it is understandable why: you teach them all of this. Don’t you say ‘When you are adult, you can do this all, too’ or ‘You will have to wait until you are adult yourself’?

In my opinion we should reduce those things in our lives of which we believe that they are harmful for us. It will reduce your risks with your children. If you don’t smoke, your child has less reason to start smoking. If you don’t eat tobacco, there is a good chance, your children don’t like it either. Because for them, you are the first example of an adult. When your children are small and in the beginning of their teenage time, you should live as you would like them to live. When they will reach an age in which they learn from their surrounding, you already have made such an imprint on them, that they know what to take care of. If they never saw you drunk, they may as well be disgusted by the behavior of a drunken person and not feel like they need to try it, too. If you were drunk two or three times a year however, it is part of adult life for them and they want to do it, too.

At the base of this all there is one point: Your children want to be like you. This is your responsibility, think of that and live your life accordingly.