Project 2 – Muraleedharan Punnamanna

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How many of you have loans or credit card outstanding more than one month of your salary?…………..

In 2009 March, I had loans and credit card outstanding more than 10 times of my monthly salary. At the same time I had property back home worth more than 50 times of my salary…. My stress level from managing the loan and card outstanding ….. was 100 times of my  monthly salary!

TMOD of the day, Dear Toast Masters and Guests a very happy good evening.

On February 21 2010 I was traveling back from my office to home. I was sitting in a bus and sleeping, when I got a call from my wife. She wouldn’t normally call me at that time knowing that I would be asleep.   I answered the call. In a very law voice she asked me did you hear the news?. I told no, what happened?. She told Raji chechi and family are gone. Raji chechi is our cousin – just 3 months ago they had gone from Dubai and relocated to Oman. Now where are they going ?, I asked. Again in a low tone she said they have gone away forever. I was shocked and sat silently listening to her while she was explaining about the tragic accident that happened  to them near Muscat, just two hours before and how we lost our cousin, her husband and their younger son.

Dear friends that was the turning point in our life. On a daily basis we see a lot of deaths due to accidents or many other ways and even though we think of the pain of the families of deceased person we don’t take them to our heart, which I feel is the right way , otherwise we would spend the whole life thinking of  those who died  and their family. But we get the real shock when this happens to our close friends and relatives. This incident forced us to think what exactly are we doing. What are our plans and objectives? I realized that in last 14 years in UAE I was not living but I was in the process of accumulating wealth to live later, once I settle back in India. I was buzzy taking loans from all possible sources to invest in property to have some income when I go back to India. I took loan and when most of my salaries went off as loan installment I took credit cards and to pay the card with higher rate of interest I took another loan with lower rate. Amount of loan and number of cards increased more than the rate of increase in my salary.

On this particular day, when I lost my dear cousins, I realized that I am not on the right path.  What is the use of having millions of worth of property back home  when I am struggling here to pay my credit card and loan installments?  If me and my family can’t have a decent standard of life now, then what is the use of having millions worth of property back home?. We are now young, healthy and kids are with us. This is the time to enjoy life. This is the time to eat what you want , go where you want. Looking forward, I could see that by the time I retired ,from my life style of running around paying off my loans and credit cards, I would be a diabetic, a heart patient and with a dozen  other health problems. Our kids would be grown up and  busy in their own world. I would be clinging on to bundles of rupees in my hand, but hardly able to eat, moving around with difficulty and not even able to sleep in peace!

Friends,on that day I realised that  I was running after an illusion. (BIG PAUSE). I took a very close look at my life and did not like what I saw…. immediately I started implementing the changes.

April 2010 we moved to 2 bedrooms flat in a new building with parking facility where kids get enough place to run around and play and where I don’t have to bother about the availability of parking spaces, My wife is happy because she gets to stay in a comfortable neat flat. I’ve never had a family holiday trip.  In India I have visited only three states that is Kerala , Karnataka and Tamil  Nadu. But during our last vacation we went on a sightseeing and holiday trip for 4 days. We decided to live in today. Living today does not mean to spend all money you have. The point I learned is that there should be a balance kept between saving and spending. Enjoying life here doesn’t mean to spend lot of money and becoming lavish. A part of our income should be saved and at the same time we should also enjoy each and every minute in the life. We should  find some time to play with our kids, we should spend some time with our spouse, and we should keep in touch with our friends and relatives here and back home.

In nursery school we used to enjoy playing games. I am sure you all might have played the spoon race. A race where you have to run with a lemon in a spoon kept in your mouth. If the lemon falls then there is no point in coming first.  After spending  37 years in this world , I have realized that life is exactly like a lemon race. Friends,  health and  relationships are the important lemons that we are carrying with us  as we run the race of life. Getting to the finish line is only worth if we have managed harmony in life by carrying the lemons safely all the way. Otherwise, only you and your bank balance  may arrive at the destination. Feeling successful – the most important feeling will have been lost on the way. I hope that  you all will agree with me that  success in life is not measured by the speed or amount  of wealth that we accumulated – rather it is measured by the quality of each minute we have
spent in the race, and the  lemons we carry with us!

Over to you… (To the TMD)

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