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Thorns and roses

Ours was an arranged marriage , twenty years ago while going for a short vacation to India from America where I moved in the previous year, I was introduced to my would be wife when I arrived and within less than seven days we got married , and then within less then 72 hours of our marriage it was time for us to take the flight back to America. I was about to have a new wife , a new home , a new country to settle down in – I was overwhelmed. I reached out to my mother for help – Mom what’s going to happen to me . My cheerful mother, who was attending to her flower garden, smiled. With a twinkle in her eye , she handed me down a blooming red rose and said – Life alternates between the positive and the negative – the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the roses and the thorns. Then she hugged me - Some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns. My son, be thankful that thorns have roses , you will always be happy!

The speech is dedicated to my wife Anjana (Momi) Bora - What I become today is because of her.

My wife Anjana and I landed in Atlanta – a city with a rich history, dazzling skyscrapers and the glamor of hosting the 1996 Olympics. The city is also a natural paradise , surrounded by magnificent mountains, lustrous lakes and enchanting dogwood trees. The picturesque, lively city looked like an illustration straight out of a fairytale, and we had the most memorable year. Then we had a chance to visit India for a month long vacation. Since it was our first visit from America there was a lot of excitement. My wife Anjana began shopping almost three months ahead of time, went on lengthy shopping sprees, and she ended up with a pile of luggage – suitcases large , medium and small , handbags, shopping bags , gift bags , you name it. Even on the morning of the departure, she disappeared only to return with a huge stuffed Teddy Bear. When I loaded the stuff into the Taxi , I was exasperated by the sheer volume of it all, and then on arrival, as I was unloading, I heard a scream. It was my wife,“ My pink carry-on was left behind”. I could not believe! From the corner of my eye I looked into my watch – the flight is leaving in one hour five minutes. I just froze , raised my hand , and prayed – oh my good lord , oh Jesus Christ, oh Allah , oh lord Krishna help me. But then there was a sudden jerk - “What are you doing? all the gifts for my best friend are in that luggage- Do you understand go and get it , please”. I called a colleague for help, who like a maniac drove me to the apartment, helped me to collect the bag and rushed me back to the airport.

We hurriedly checked in and caught the International flight in the nick of time. But the drama continued across the international to regional airport, regional to domestic, domestic to destination as I had to carry all the suitcases - large, medium , small , handbags , gift bags, shopping bags from carts to trollies, from trollies to shuttles and from shuttles to taxies, from taxi to Rickshaw. It was as if I was carrying thorns, spines ,prickles jabbing me everywhere , left and right. Friends, I am telling you the truth , the whole truth , nothing but the truth.

We reached home – in one piece! We were greeted by our relatives warmly. Then it was time for gift unveiling . Excitement sizzled in the air as the gifts were given, each one of them was decorated by Anjana with neat handwritten notes. I was stunned , touched, moved by her attention to the minutest details. Everyone present was happy. Anjana stood there like a radiant red rose – blooming, bright, brilliant , beautiful.

When I returned to work, my colleague, in front of the others, was narrating the Airport incident. He was quite friendly till then. But as soon as I began telling the whole story, how my wife’s last minute shopping caused the mishap, he suddenly turned hostile and began shouting at me. “This guy is spineless , he let his wife push him around. ” I was shocked as he completely went bonkers , calling me browbeaten, bullied, coward, a henpecked husband every name in the book. I was livid, but then I recalled my mom-some people are always grumbling because roses have thorns. I realized this guy was simply someone who could see only the thorns and grumble. But unlike him, I was able to get past the thorns and reach for the roses. The realization made me euphoric, and I stood there smiling.

Friends, twenty years ago , a young man landed in a new country with his newly wed wife whom he had met seven days before. He took the road less traveled by with nothing but a mantra ringing all along- life alternates between the positive and the negative – the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the roses and the thorns. Be thankful that thorns have roses, you will always be happy! Twenty years later, today, he stands in front of you all - life has rewarded him with an abundance of roses – blooming , bright, brilliant , beautiful. Friends, it has worked for him, and it just might work for you, if you let it be.

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Toastmasters Evaluation by Stacy Efthymiou

Great job on your second round of giving this speech. Last week I gave you the constructive feedback that I had noticed you had hesitated and paused a little bit between each word. Today, you implemented that feedback, as I did not observe more than one moment of hesitation. Everyone has some disagreements with their spouse, but not many are brave enough to voice marital disagreements in a speech, so I applaud your bravery, but I know it was all said in good fun. And I liked the moral to your story of thorns versus roses, where sometimes we as humans can expect roses but there are no situations that only have roses and have no thorns. It can be sad when we realize that a lack of thorns is just not reality. And I liked that you ended on a hopeful note that when all you see are thorns, all you must do is flip the coin over and find the silver lining or the roses.


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