Tuesday, December 22, 2009


The last few months have been the happiest months in our lives, as we have been totally engrossed in the 'everyday something new' phenomenon being exhibited by our grand daughter - she is going to be 15 months old in a week - she learns something new every day, or should I say every minute, and teaches us a number of lessons in the bargain. We never had this kind of a leisure time to observe our children growing up - parents never do, I believe - and are thus enjoying this period even more so. Have been busy thus.........

All this is just to ask forgiveness for long absences from my favourite passion these days....blogging. I am posting this email forward to make up for my absence...it made a lot of sense to me and thought of sharing it here.


A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up; she was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil; without saying a word.

In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, ' Tell me what you see.'

'Carrots, eggs, and coffee,' she replied.

Her mother brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. The mother then asked the daughter to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard boiled egg.

Finally, the mother asked the daughter to sip the coffee. The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked, 'What does it mean, mother?'

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity: boiling water. Each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior, but after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

'Which are you?' she asked her daughter. 'When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength?

Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart?

Or am I like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you. When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate yourself to another level? How do you handle adversity? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?

May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy.

The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes along their way. The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can't go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.

When you were born, you were crying and everyone around you was smiling.

Live your life so at the end, you're the one who is smiling and everyone around you is crying. Unquote.


BK Chowla said...

How beautifully written.
I don't know if parents teach their children about all the three aspects resulting into different forms.
My best wishes to your little angle.

J P Joshi said...

BK Chowla: Thank you... I agree with you - this piece is so beautiful and perceptively written. Thank you for your good wishes for Meher.

Nilu said...

Good, thought-provoking post!

I believe that a person has to go through being a carrot, an egg and a coffee bean in his lifetime. Its the natural process of spiritual evolution. Besides, some adversities are aimed at making you soft, others at making you hard. But then again - we are only playing with the words hard and soft.

But, not everyone succeeds at being a coffee bean.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hi JPJ:)


You have stated the truth that parents didn't have time for their children whereas they have time for their grandchildren. When our children were growing up we were busy earning a livelyhood to provide for them but when we are old we are free from the worries of earning a living and supporting a faimily. I agree with you children have a lot to teach us, older people. They are so endearing and angelic and their ways surprises us.

You have brought in lovely analogies of carrot, egg and coffee beans. Yes, we should all be like coffee beans and overcome adversities by getting on top of them. After all it is said that all problems are opportunities and that is exactly what the coffee beans did to the water. It not only changed the color of water but turned it into an aromatic drinking coffee. Hats of to you for the analogy:)

The quotes are excellent too. I was inspired reading them. Many thanks.


indyeahforever said...

apologies SIr..for. I have not read the post yet..but first wanted to wish you in the festive season as well as for the year ahead:)warm wishes for you and yours:)

How do we know said...

Thats a great end of year post. The story is one of my all time favorite stories and i think of the coffee often. i also tell this story to all the children i know.. its imp to hear it early on. Makes a BIG difference to one's perspective.

Balvinder Singh said...

That's a great post JP.

Yes miss ur absence in the blog world at regular intervals and i can understand ur occupation with ur grand children.

U are absolutely right that grandchildren extract more attention from us than what we gave to our children. Punjabi wich kahnde ney "Mool naalon sood pyaara" (to lender, interest amount is dearer than the principal amount)

Yes the lessons given out in the mail are great.

In fact to share with u i have always felt that wherever i am posted, it is always my endeavour to leave my mark on the system which should remain there for a long time. And i am lucky that i have been able to do that till now because whenever i visit the old station of my posting people tell me that. It takes some time to make your mark but if one is persistent in the efforts then it certainly does make a difference and one leaves a place better than when he / she had found it on arrival.

Thanks for sharing good inspirational thoughts JP.

Joseph Pulikotil said...

Hello JPJ:)

Very interesting and educative post. The story is really good and worth understanding. The quotes are excellent.


J P Joshi said...

Nilu: Thank you for your comment. I believe the aim should be to become like the coffee bean but that I suppose is the ideal; we all have been through our carrot and egg situations.... a little introspection in such circumstances would help us in travelling towards the coffee bean ideal.

Yes, everyone does not always succeed at becoming a coffee bean; but people who do introspect finally move in that direction, I believe. It has been my personal experience too.

I just love this thought, "May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy". It is so beautiful... happiness, trials, sorrow and hope are all part of life, and help one get a well rounded personality, I believe.

J P Joshi said...

Joseph P.: Thank you for your comment. Agree with you - I have spent more time with my grand daughter than I could with my kids and the reasons are universal, as mentioned by you. Yes, my grand daughter teaches me something new and without a word, and also in her angelic way..like you say.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to you too.

J P Joshi said...

HDWK: Agree with you. It does make a BIG difference in one's perspective if one knows how to stay positive under adverse circumstances, which are part and parcel of living this life.

I read this story for the first time and really enjoyed the unique perspective given by this mother to her daughter.

J P Joshi said...

Indyeah: Thank you for re-surfacing; where have you been?? Where are you? - this is Poonam's query from over my shoulder. Good to read you back on line.

Happy New year to you too.

J P Joshi said...

Balvinder: Yes, mool nalon sood actually zyada pyara honda hai... talking from personal experience.

I too lived life like you. I always felt that God created me to make a difference in my life and in the life of others around me, and that too in a positive way, as far as possible. And the same I used to tell my officers.. what good are you if your being does not make any difference to anyone, or any situation around you.

I believe that if all of us start feeling this one fact inside us, at all times, then it would help in making our society, our country and this planet a better place to live in. Thanks Balvinder for sharing your thoughts in your comment.

Renu said...

Lovely post ! I was initially like a carrot..now I am a mix of egg and coffe beans:)..trying hard to erase the bitterness from my heart, actually forgetting is the key to happiness, and I am hardly able to forget anything.

Keep posyting these gems..give me lot of strength.

J P Joshi said...

Renu: It is human to go through all these stages, I believe.... the coffee bean however should be the ideal.

I read this saying many summers ago on a small piece of pine wood in Simla, "Aim for the sky, you will hit the mountain top at least". It sure does make sense to me.

Id it is said...

A very inspiring read! Thanks for sharing.
Seasons greetings to you and a wonderful year ahead!

Usha Pisharody said...

JP Sir, best wishes for the new year! May you and your loved ones be blessed with much happiness, love and luck, right through the year!

This is a beautiful email.. I remember receiving this and the wonderful feeling of empathy I felt!

Thank you for sharing it, and reminding me!

sm said...

Happy New year

Renu said...

Wishing you a very happy New Year !!

J P Joshi said...

Id it is: Thank you for your comment and a very Happy New year to you too.

Usha: Welcome back after a long hibernation. A very happy new year to you and your loved ones. I do reciprocate your wonderful sentiments.

sm: A very happy new year to you too.

Renu: A very happy new year to you and all your loved ones.

Sorry, have been away from the computer for the past few days.

L. Venkata Subramaniam said...

Indeed nothing can beat the enjoyment kids and grandkids bring in our lives. I have seen the look on my parents faces and that look is priceless.

J P Joshi said...

LVS: You are so abosolutely right. Grand children are really special, possibly because they come at the right time in our lives...children come during our career making and livelyhood earning days, and that is a full time job for nearly everyone, I believe.

sunshinesafar said...


This is my first time here. I absolutely loved this post.. so much food for thought!

I think you write really well. Adding you to my blogroll :)

J P Joshi said...

sunshinesafar: Welcome here and thank you for your comment. Thank you also for blogrolling me. Will visit your blog shortly.