Best Christmas/New Year MP3 Gifts

Saturday, December 23, 2006

The Gift of the Magi

(O. Henry)
One dollar and eighty-seven cents. That was all. And sixty cents of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty- seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.
There was clearly nothing to do but flop down on the shabby little couch and howl. So Della did it. Which instigates the moral reflection that life is made up of sobs, sniffles, and smiles, with sniffles predominating.
While the mistress of the home is gradually subsiding from the first stage to the second, take a look at the home. A furnished flat at $8 per week. It did not exactly beggar description, but it certainly had that word on the lookout for the mendicancy squad.
In the vestibule below was a letter-box into which no letter would go, and an electric button from which no mortal finger could coax a ring. Also appertaining thereunto was a card bearing the name "Mr. James Dillingham Young."
The "Dillingham" had been flung to the breeze during a former period of prosperity when its possessor was being paid $30 per week. Now, when the income was shrunk to $20, though, they were thinking seriously of contracting to a modest and unassuming D. But whenever Mr. James Dillingham Young came home and reached his flat above he was called "Jim" and greatly hugged by Mrs. James Dillingham Young, already introduced to you as Della. Which is all very good.
Della finished her cry and attended to her cheeks with the powder rag. She stood by the window and looked out dully at a gray cat walking a gray fence in a gray backyard. Tomorrow would be Christmas Day, and she had only $1.87 with which to buy Jim a present. She had been saving every penny she could for months, with this result. Twenty dollars a week doesn't go far. Expenses had been greater than she had calculated. They always are. Only $1.87 to buy a present for Jim. Her Jim. Many a happy hour she had spent planning for something nice for him. Something fine and rare and sterling--something just a little bit near to being worthy of the honor of being owned by Jim.
There was a pier-glass between the windows of the room. Perhaps you have seen a pier-glass in an $8 flat. A very thin and very agile person may, by observing his reflection in a rapid sequence of longitudinal strips, obtain a fairly accurate conception of his looks. Della, being slender, had mastered the art.
Suddenly she whirled from the window and stood before the glass. her eyes were shining brilliantly, but her face had lost its color within twenty seconds. Rapidly she pulled down her hair and let it fall to its full length.
Now, there were two possessions of the James Dillingham Youngs in which they both took a mighty pride. One was Jim's gold watch that had been his father's and his grandfather's. The other was Della's hair. Had the queen of Sheba lived in the flat across the airshaft, Della would have let her hair hang out the window some day to dry just to depreciate Her Majesty's jewels and gifts. Had King Solomon been the janitor, with all his treasures piled up in the basement, Jim would have pulled out his watch every time he passed, just to see him pluck at his beard from envy.
So now Della's beautiful hair fell about her rippling and shining like a cascade of brown waters. It reached below her knee and made itself almost a garment for her. And then she did it up again nervously and quickly. Once she faltered for a minute and stood still while a tear or two splashed on the worn red carpet.
On went her old brown jacket; on went her old brown hat. With a whirl of skirts and with the brilliant sparkle still in her eyes, she fluttered out the door and down the stairs to the street.
Where she stopped the sign read: "Mne. Sofronie. Hair Goods of All Kinds." One flight up Della ran, and collected herself, panting. Madame, large, too white, chilly, hardly looked the "Sofronie."
"Will you buy my hair?" asked Della.
"I buy hair," said Madame. "Take yer hat off and let's have a sight at the looks of it."
Down rippled the brown cascade.
"Twenty dollars," said Madame, lifting the mass with a practised hand.
"Give it to me quick," said Della.
Oh, and the next two hours tripped by on rosy wings. Forget the hashed metaphor. She was ransacking the stores for Jim's present.
She found it at last. It surely had been made for Jim and no one else. There was no other like it in any of the stores, and she had turned all of them inside out. It was a platinum fob chain simple and chaste in design, properly proclaiming its value by substance alone and not by meretricious ornamentation--as all good things should do. It was even worthy of The Watch. As soon as she saw it she knew that it must be Jim's. It was like him. Quietness and value--the description applied to both. Twenty-one dollars they took from her for it, and she hurried home with the 87 cents. With that chain on his watch Jim might be properly anxious about the time in any company. Grand as the watch was, he sometimes looked at it on the sly on account of the old leather strap that he used in place of a chain.
When Della reached home her intoxication gave way a little to prudence and reason. She got out her curling irons and lighted the gas and went to work repairing the ravages made by generosity added to love. Which is always a tremendous task, dear friends--a mammoth task.
Within forty minutes her head was covered with tiny, close-lying curls that made her look wonderfully like a truant schoolboy. She looked at her reflection in the mirror long, carefully, and critically.
"If Jim doesn't kill me," she said to herself, "before he takes a second look at me, he'll say I look like a Coney Island chorus girl. But what could I do--oh! what could I do with a dollar and eighty- seven cents?"
At 7 o'clock the coffee was made and the frying-pan was on the back of the stove hot and ready to cook the chops.
Jim was never late. Della doubled the fob chain in her hand and sat on the corner of the table near the door that he always entered. Then she heard his step on the stair away down on the first flight, and she turned white for just a moment. She had a habit for saying little silent prayer about the simplest everyday things, and now she whispered: "Please God, make him think I am still pretty."
The door opened and Jim stepped in and closed it. He looked thin and very serious. Poor fellow, he was only twenty-two--and to be burdened with a family! He needed a new overcoat and he was without gloves.
Jim stopped inside the door, as immovable as a setter at the scent of quail. His eyes were fixed upon Della, and there was an expression in them that she could not read, and it terrified her. It was not anger, nor surprise, nor disapproval, nor horror, nor any of the sentiments that she had been prepared for. He simply stared at her fixedly with that peculiar expression on his face.
Della wriggled off the table and went for him.
"Jim, darling," she cried, "don't look at me that way. I had my hair cut off and sold because I couldn't have lived through Christmas without giving you a present. It'll grow out again--you won't mind, will you? I just had to do it. My hair grows awfully fast. Say `Merry Christmas!' Jim, and let's be happy. You don't know what a nice-- what a beautiful, nice gift I've got for you."
"You've cut off your hair?" asked Jim, laboriously, as if he had not arrived at that patent fact yet even after the hardest mental labor.
"Cut it off and sold it," said Della. "Don't you like me just as well, anyhow? I'm me without my hair, ain't I?"
Jim looked about the room curiously.
"You say your hair is gone?" he said, with an air almost of idiocy.
"You needn't look for it," said Della. "It's sold, I tell you--sold and gone, too. It's Christmas Eve, boy. Be good to me, for it went for you. Maybe the hairs of my head were numbered," she went on with sudden serious sweetness, "but nobody could ever count my love for you. Shall I put the chops on, Jim?"
Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet scrutiny some inconsequential object in the other direction. Eight dollars a week or a million a year--what is the difference? A mathematician or a wit would give you the wrong answer. The magi brought valuable gifts, but that was not among them. This dark assertion will be illuminated later on.
Jim drew a package from his overcoat pocket and threw it upon the table.
"Don't make any mistake, Dell," he said, "about me. I don't think there's anything in the way of a haircut or a shave or a shampoo that could make me like my girl any less. But if you'll unwrap that package you may see why you had me going a while at first."
White fingers and nimble tore at the string and paper. And then an ecstatic scream of joy; and then, alas! a quick feminine change to hysterical tears and wails, necessitating the immediate employment of all the comforting powers of the lord of the flat.
For there lay The Combs--the set of combs, side and back, that Della had worshipped long in a Broadway window. Beautiful combs, pure tortoise shell, with jewelled rims--just the shade to wear in the beautiful vanished hair. They were expensive combs, she knew, and her heart had simply craved and yearned over them without the least hope of possession. And now, they were hers, but the tresses that should have adorned the coveted adornments were gone.
But she hugged them to her bosom, and at length she was able to look up with dim eyes and a smile and say: "My hair grows so fast, Jim!"
And them Della leaped up like a little singed cat and cried, "Oh, oh!"
Jim had not yet seen his beautiful present. She held it out to him eagerly upon her open palm. The dull precious metal seemed to flash with a reflection of her bright and ardent spirit.
"Isn't it a dandy, Jim? I hunted all over town to find it. You'll have to look at the time a hundred times a day now. Give me your watch. I want to see how it looks on it."
Instead of obeying, Jim tumbled down on the couch and put his hands under the back of his head and smiled.
"Dell," said he, "let's put our Christmas presents away and keep 'em a while. They're too nice to use just at present. I sold the watch to get the money to buy your combs. And now suppose you put the chops on."
The magi, as you know, were wise men--wonderfully wise men--who brought gifts to the Babe in the manger. They invented the art of giving Christmas presents. Being wise, their gifts were no doubt wise ones, possibly bearing the privilege of exchange in case of duplication. And here I have lamely related to you the uneventful chronicle of two foolish children in a flat who most unwisely sacrificed for each other the greatest treasures of their house. But in a last word to the wise of these days let it be said that of all who give gifts these two were the wisest. O all who give and receive gifts, such as they are wisest. Everywhere they are wisest. They are the magi.
[Reproduced with acknowledgements and thanks]

Tuesday, November 28, 2006




Recently in a class where I was sitting as a Co-coordinator, the lecturer posed a question:

“What is the difference between Information and knowledge?”

Even as I was wondering what could be the best answer and anticipating as many answers as the participants were in the class, a lady replied,

“Knowledge is practical application of information.”

Just repeat this: Knowledge is practical application of information.

Learned people may find fault with this statement. But see the power of it.

The world is full of enough information. Nearly all of it is freely available to all of us. But often we fail to practically apply it.

Let us just start from smaller things to bigger things:

All of us know the basic information about keeping good health (balanced diet, exercise, positive attitude, etc.), we also know the basic information for being successful (definite goal, persistence, planning, etc.), and we also know how to be happy (be near nature, love your family and friends, be positive and cheerful, etc.), but we miserably fail to apply these in our life.
All the information regarding people and basic emotions and places is known. However, some are able to convert this information into great works of fiction and non-fiction, while others just read them, and get even more information, never being able to write a page.
Quite a lot of information about natural laws is available. Working on that great scientists and scholars discover and invent great new things. With the help of technology they make new things.
Criminal Code and Law books mention penalties for all sorts of crimes. Yet this information does not deter many of us to commit crimes! This is a negative type of application!
All the tenets of good and moral behaviour are there in the great religious books. Just following them we could make this earth a paradise. But we not only fail to apply these in our life, but often we misinterpret them and fight with and kill each other.

This list can be expanded indefinitely. But the central point is clear:

Knowledge is practical application of information.

I am not for a moment saying that this practical application is always simple and easy. Discovering the riddles of life and universe or making a space ship out of the available knowledge is not for everybody. Many of them may lack even sufficient information.

But in many spheres of life we do know all the information. Yet it is precisely in these spheres that we fail miserably. These are: Inter-personal relations, being happy, healthy, and successful, controlling our emotions and violent and criminal acts, avoiding harmful substances and drugs, etc.

If I may say it differently, I would assert:

In the sea of information, we are thirsty of knowledge


Monday, November 13, 2006



Fortune magazine has titled its October 30, 2006 issue as the Excellence Issue. It explores the Secrets of Greatness.

The conclusion of its article ‘What It Takes To Be Great’ is that the lack of natural talent is irrelevant to great success. Painful and demanding practice and hard work is the secret to success.

Greatness is achieved through demanding and painful hard work over many years. Most accomplished people need around ten years of hard work for becoming world class. Greatness in any field requires constant ‘deliberate practice’.

Talent has little or nothing to do with greatness. Excellence is not a consequence of possessing innate gift.

Even if you possess some natural gift, high-level performance is not possible without experience or practice. Many prodigies don’t achieve greatness.

Motivation is the key to constant hard work and practice.

In another article, ‘12 Peak Performances’, it talked to twelve successful people - a global trader, drill instructor, test driver, gambler, scientist, pro athlete, rock musician, security expert, movie star, venture capitalist, chief executive and concessionaire.

Some of the conclusions derived from the discussions are :-

1. Practice makes perfect. This is the explicit or implicit refrain of practically all the 12 persons interviewed.

2. Have obsessive quest for self improvement and staying focused.

3. You can not get locked into a mindset. A lot ­of people just keep adding to a bad position.

4. A failed experiment is actually rich source of information. People tend to focus on positive results, but people who are successful are often those who also learn from the negative.

5. Stress yourself out. You can not go out and expect to do well when the pressure is on if you don’t put the pressure on yourself in practice, in the off-season, or when nobody else is there.

6. Be obsessive over the data especially analyze data relating to your practice, experiment, experience or business.


7. If you spend too much time analyzing reams of data, you become paralyzed and never make interesting decisions.

8. Buckle up for a wild ride if your job demands it.

9. Embrace ambiguity.

10. Think more.


Monday, October 30, 2006


This is a sad story with a powerful message.

I think I read it in some Science Fiction story book and it seems to have been written by a famous writer.

The story line is very simple but with an unexpected twist at the end.

Once a man developed the faculty of seeing the future. When he was convinced that he had really the power to see the future, he became curious about his own future.

He visualized and saw that for last 10-20 years of his life he was bed-ridden. In fact, his whole body was paralyzed and he could not even talk.

He got panicky and thought that it were better to die than live such a life. He drew his revolver and shot himself in the head to commit suicide.

The bullet lodged in his brain and as a result he was paralyzed for life!

Well, this is exactly what we do with our future!

We see ourselves poor, weak, old and unsuccessful and by the power of visualization we do become so.

That is the power of negative visualization.

But, even extraordinary is the power of positive visualization.

Visualize yourself as sick and you will feel sick.

Visualize yourself as on top of the world and you will feel on top of the world.

Same is true of Affirmations.

Affirmations and Visualizations have great power. Use them.



Saturday, October 14, 2006


"A thing of beauty, is a joy forever;
Its loveliness increases; it shall never Pass into nothingness"--John Keats.

Dear Readers,

Let me tell you a story.

Once a man prayed to God for many years. God was happy with his prayer. He appeared to him and told him to ask any blessing he wanted.

The man replied, “O, God! Give me the blessing of immortality.”

God was in a tight spot. Human beings were not immortal. Only gods were so. He thought long and hard and ultimately gave the man a bottle filled with nectar.

He said to the man, “This is the drink of the gods. It gives immortality. You drink it once daily exactly at 4 in the morning and you will never die. But if you fail to drink it even one day, you will die immediately. This nectar inside the bottle is inexhaustible. It will fill itself daily.”

The man became very happy and thanked God profusely. God only smiled enigmatically.

The man started drinking the contents of the bottle regularly. But soon he found following the routine difficult. He found it a great burden to get up early in the morning just to drink the nectar. He also thought perhaps God had played a cruel joke on him and there was nothing special in the liquid inside the bottle. It tasted just like plain water.

Day by day he found it difficult to get up at 4 a.m. just to drink the water.

One day he totally neglected to drink the nectar and died immediately!

Well, the moral of the story is that it is practically impossible for human beings to stick to a routine.

And that is the reason of fall of the man (and woman) right from Adam and Eve. Had they stuck to their routine life and food, they would not have been tempted to taste the apple.

The difference between success and failure is this: Sticking to the routine of working hard and working hard day in and day out.

Well, I said that it is not possible humanly. But stick to it as much as possible, at least stick to it more than another person, and you will be successful.

Well, what are the lessons of our Odyssey with the Web?

The most important one, and the first, is overnight success is impossible. It is not even possible in a few months, perhaps not even in one or two years. You have to slog it out for many years.
This should not come as a surprise. Doctors, engineers, and MBs etc. study for years to learn their trade. Then they require many more years to get established. Then only the more persistent and the best ones taste success. All claims of instant and early success are lies.

Let us take Internet business itself. Those who sell us sure success formulas for these claim that we could be successful on Internet overnight or within a month. Far from it.

You may take days, months, and may be years, thinking to day something on Internet! Even when you are ready you may take days, months, and may be years, to plan exactly what you want to do, get domain name (s), server, and most importantly, somebody who could design a website exactly according to your wishes. He or she will take his or her sweet time to make it. If it is a friend or relative who is doing it for you free, it may never see the light of the day. One have emergencies and other preoccupations!

Once your website is ready, you would find that there are many things wrong with it. Belatedly you realize that you must learn elementary, and later advanced, web designing, intricacies of learning all about your web server.

But it does not stop there. You have to learn all about search engines and submission to them, ezines and ezine advertising, copywriting, creating and uploading files, traffic exchanges, and thousands of other things. You wish you had full time to devote to your Internet business. But you are still a part timer. And so far no money has come your way. In fact, you feel more and more that you have to invest some money on such softwares as search engine submissions, ezine cover designer, Google AdWords or other advertising activities.

You want to bring uniformity in all your web pages. You copy the source code. Add some new material and when you see the outcome, you find that something has gone wrong. Everything has shifted to left or right or up or down. In fact, you would be fortunate if you had saved separately the original code. Now you start tinkering with the code. By the time you have fixed everything, it is already early morning!

You have to do all this. You have to do all this in your spare time, late in the night. Some such sort of things I had been doing all these days to revive the website. It is still not perfect but I am too not finished with it.

The only solace for you is hope of success. The good thing about all this is the more you do it the more you get interested in it. It seems that you are really not doing it for money. You are doing it for pleasure, for testing yourself, and for success. You no longer get tired doing it. You rather enjoy it. You look forward to it. That is the best work. It has become sort of worship.

Below is the life history of one of the greatest ‘failures’ of the world:
Age: 21 years :Failure in business.
Age: 22 years :Failure in elections.
Age: 24 years :Failure in business.
Age: 26 years :Death of wife.
Age: 27 years :Nervous breakdown.
Age: 34 years :Defeat in Congress elections.
Age: 45 years :Defeat in Senate elctions.
Age: 47 years :Defeat in attempt to become Vice-President.

Who was this man?

Abraham Lincoln who became President of America at the age of 52.

Persist dear friends and you will be successful. Never, dream of overnight success. There is no such thing.


Saturday, October 07, 2006


Dear Readers,

Be Happy! Be Healthy! Be Successful!

You must have given us as dead! Gone! Finished! Well, sphinx like we have resurfaced.

I am very sorry to have disappeared for such a long time. Much has flown down the Ganga (you will get used to my spellings) since then. Well, much has happened with us also. This is a long story. Someday I may tell this personal story. For the time being let it suffice that it (plus habitual procrastination) interfered with the continuity of the blog.

Since this is sort of our rebirth, let us ponder over our future and priorities. Most of the blogs on the net are on current activities, news, happenings, and thoughts and views on them. We had started The Life Beautiful! to Be Happy! Be Healthy! and Be Successful! We would like to stick to these. In our blog we will give you information and view how to be happy, healthy, and successful and make your life beautiful.

We have also changed our priorities a little. Previously we used to write Be Happy! Be Successful! Be Healthy! Now we are writing Be Happy! Be Healthy! Be Successful! This reflects our realization that health is more important than success.

Like the blog, our website, The Life Beautiful! and its three subdomains:,, and, remained inactive these months. Lately, we have worked on thelifebeautiful, happinessmantra, fitnessmantra, and successmantra. We have painstakingly brought uniformity in all the pages of the website, added quite a lot of material, and, most importantly, checked that all the links were alive and well. This Blog and the website both are being re-launched simultaneously. Please visit the website and subdomains at the above addresses.

We have also written new ebooks and fully revised old ones. Now we offer following ebooks:

ACCIDENTAL LOVE (Short story collection)
ODYSSEY OF LOVE (A long sweet-sour love poem)
INDIAN RELIGION (An Introduction)

Please read about them at:

Quite a lot of material has been added to the website and its subdomains and we request you to visit it and let us know your comments either through comments under this blog or through Guest Book or Forum in the main website.

We have compiled a Mini-Guide on Happiness which is freely downloadable at and we strongly urge you to read it.

We have given quite a thought to the future of the blog. Though we would have liked to write it daily, it seems that it is an unrealistic aim. Even once a week seems somewhat difficult. On the other hand, we are sure, you would like to read new material at least once a week. So, we have decided to begin with once a week. If we are not able to write any significant original material in a given week we will still try to give you some material to read. Let us see how it works.

All the difficulties on being unable to maintain the website and the blog, have given us new insights into various aspects of success. As mentioned above, we have also just completed the Mini-Guide on success. We would like to share some of the insights in it with you in next blog (which will, hopefully, be just one week after this one!).

With regards,

The Life Beautiful!

Next Blog: Overnight Success and Hard Work and Persistence.