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Sushama Kirtikar


The din of honks peeling, brakes squealing, tires screeching, and people shouting had become a still from a film. I was in Hyderabad, India, at a five-way crossroads and the jigsaw of cars, trucks, buses, autos and motorcycles had come to a decisive halt. There was no room for maneuverability in any direction. The gridlock could not become any tighter as there was barely a hair’s breadth of space between metal and metal. Mute the sound and you would have had a classic silent movie with the exaggerated gestures and contorted expressions. This intersection notorious to me for its horrendous traffic jam is called ‘Diamond Point.’

Every now and then, we create a ‘diamond point’ in our own lives. When you want to get the report out in time to meet your boss’s deadline; when you want to take your daughter to her dance class; when you want to whip up chicken biryani for dinner; when you want to take the car for servicing; when you want to throw a load of laundry in the washer and when you want to take your father in law to his eye appointment … all at the same time, you have created a ‘diamond point.’

Personal responsibility is an admirable virtue to nurture. ‘Responsibility’ broken down is ‘response – ability,’ which means ‘having the ability to respond’ to a given situation. This is desirable. We want to cultivate ‘personal responsibility,’ which is both empowering and energizing. As a matter of fact, many of us manage to take on different roles and wear different hats at various times with supine ease.

However, we put undue pressure on ourselves when we take on responsibilities that are way beyond our finite capacity. Some people have the tendency to don many roles at the same time, which is just not feasible. In the corporate world, expressions such as ‘time trap’ and ‘information overload’ lead to ‘burn out.’

The same happens to us in our personal lives. When we tend to take on more than we can humanly handle, it leads to a traffic jam and a full shutdown of all systems. Realistic appraisal of our capacities has to match our motivation and desire to perform our duties. So, in keeping with the New Year’s resolution suggested in last month’s column, I encourage you to do an inventory of your ‘diamond points.’ Where in your life are you getting stuck? Where do you feel the overwhelming burden of having too much to do and not enough time? Where do you feel the onus of too many ‘musts’ that are self imposed and in all probability unnecessary? Take stock.

Back to the scene at ‘Diamond Point’: there was one policeman who was futilely waving his arms appearing as ineffective as a tin soldier. Soon, two civilians dethroned from their motorcycles and began organizing, prioritizing who should move in which direction first, to allow for the second vehicle to move and so forth. They stood in front of the more feisty drivers and physically stopped the moving automobile from advancing, all the while looking out from the corner of their eyes for cyclists trying to sneak their way through. Within minutes, they had done the impossible and unlocked the jam. Motors whirred with less aggression, the dust cleared a bit allowing for a slow and sluggish but nonetheless distinct traffic flow.

From the two civilians, we can learn self-regulation. It can be done. It is not beyond our reach. If we learn to be still, we can discern that which is important in our lives and of true value. We can then prioritize meaningfully and truly give our best to that which we can handle with an even temper. Any act we undertake deserves just that: our full attention with beatific equanimity.

An hour later, on the journey back, at the same intersection, there was a smooth flow of automobiles with four policemen regulating traffic with flair and confidence. Diamond Point had become manageable. The number of vehicles moving through was the same, but congestion and a dead stop were averted with proper, synchronized planning.

That is what we all need: proper policing of our wayward mind. Otherwise, it runs in opposing directions and our responsibilities tend to collide with each other or we come to a careening halt, immobilized into inaction. Let us work on policing our ‘diamond points’ with care, confidence and a calm spirit.

Sushama Kirtikar, a licensed mental health counselor in private practice, can be reached at (813) 264-7114 or e-mail at

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Dr. Ram P. Ramcharran

There are many organizations in the Tampa Bay area that focus on helping special needs children but the one organization that everyone should know about it is STAND (Statewide Advocacy Network on Disabilities Inc.) This not-for-profit organization, which has been around since December 1996, was organized by a group of parents and attorneys to help educate people on their rights.

STAND's purpose it to inform the families of children with disabilities of their rights. It is dedicated to getting a child with a disability the right education that they are entitled to under the law. The three main laws that STAND is concerned with are: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation act of 1973. It focuses on three topics: advocacy, legal rights, and above all, education.

This year, STAND will be hosting SPARC 2007 – Stand Pinellas Accessing Resource Conference. The organization’s goal is to provide parents, teachers, therapist and other professionals with resources that help children with disabilities make achievements in their life. STAND focuses on children with Special Needs and they take this mission very seriously.

This year SPARC 2007 will be held at Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School in Pinellas Park, on Saturday, Sept. 29, from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Morgan Fitzgerald is at 6410 118 Ave. N., Largo, FL 33773. Cost for the conference is $25 for pre-registration. That will include one entry to the conference, a lunch ticket and a program.

(Dr. Ram Ramcharran will be a guest speaker at the STAND event. He will be discussing how to better understand and deal with children with special needs. If you have any questions regarding this event, contact Melissa Tremblay, SPARC chairperson at (727) 784-8493 or visit

Dr. Ram P. Ramcharran can be reached at

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