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God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.

The Grapevine of India C/o AA Regional Office P.O. Box 5438, GPO Bangalore 560001 Help Line: +91-92417-82341 Email: Web: CONTRIBUTION REQUESTED : RS. 25

The Grapevine of India A Monthly Journal of AA India


Highlights in Sobriety Five great stories in this section in English and Kannada. 2

The Grapevineof India

Page 20 The Riddle of Unmanageability ( Part 3 )

Page 14 A purposeful Life 26 SantAA & BantAA

Letters to the editor 2

Editor’s Note Dear Readers:


Page 17

Page 23 Vision 2010

Page 15 Everyday a Bonus

The Road to Freedom

6 Step One

Learn from the Geese

Page 11 From Despair to Dreams

Page 9 Entering the World of the Spirit

4 Tradition One

January 2010, Vol. 2, No. 1

The Grapevineof India

Heart To Heart Highlights in Sobriety

The Grapevine of India

When we chose as feature topic for this issue “Highlights in Sobriety”, we had our own expectations of what the articles should contain: heartthrobbing stories of being reunited with wife/fiancée; finally sealing the marriage bond; landing a highly-placed job; and events like that. But editors are sometimes chastened by the responses of their writers. Those we asked to write on this topic did not highlight any suchlike things. They chose to highlight those blessings in their life which correspond to the blessings listed in the Big Book. These are the kind of blessings, more than the heart-throbbing variety, which make for the quality of life, and it is this they have highlighted. And how true is their instinct, for it is in the seed-bed of the new quality of life which we gain in sobriety, that all the other heart-throbbing successes ultimately sprout. In the New Year 2010, we wish all our readers and all alcoholics a coming to and deepening of their life of sobriety and a strengthening of the quality of life. In this seedbed may you find sprouting many more experiences and achievements which will bring fruitfulness and joy to your lives. Yours sincerely, Fidelis D. Acting Executive Editor. Publisher’s Note: Due to constraints regarding the weight of each issue as required by the postal tariff (Rs.5/), we have been experimenting with the number of pages and the lay -out. We beg your indulgence. General Service Office of AA (India) PO Box No. 16958, Byculla, Mumbai 400 027 Tel: (022)-2307-5134 / 2301-6767 Email: Web:,

AA Regional Office (Bangalore) P.O. Box 5438, GPO, Bangalore 560001 Helpline: +91-92417-82341 Email: Web:


January 2010

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Letters to the editor leader he had a hard heart but that these sharings had melted his heart away. Earlier on 27th and 28th November 2009, Jim S. a member of Cansaulim Group Goa, worked relentlessly towards the success of this programe. Prior to the holding of this big awareness, Jim S had arranged smaller corner meetings at five to six places where the people were given brief sharings on Alcoholism and Alcoholics Anonymous, to motivate them to attend the larger meeting which was held on 29th November 2009. The whole program was ably compered by Dinesh A., Chairman - P.I. Inter Group (Goa).

Carrying the Message An Awareness Program was held at Zuarinagar Goa, by the Inter Group (Goa) in coordination with AA Cansaulim Group on 29th November, 2009 at Zuari Mazdoor Ektta Hall. This is an area where a huge fertilizer factory is situated as also a large Industrial area. The residents of this area are mostly people from Karnataka settled here for whose benefit this awareness was held 1st time in Goa, in Kannada language. Nine AA members comprising of Patrick C (Chairman, Area Committee D.K.), Murlidhar, (Chairman P.I, AA Intergroup D.K.), Gregory and others, came specially to attend this program at the invitation of Joseph S of Goa who was the Coordinator.

Anthony R., Goa.

Note of Thanks Reading this journal has helped me improve and strengthen my sobriety. This journal does exactly what we do in an awareness meeting, that is, it helps share Experience, Strength and Hope.

The program was attended by around 150 people. Com. Christopher Oswald Fonseca, State Secretary of Communist Party of India and Gen. Secretary All India Trade Union Congress, who was the Chief Guest, in his speech lauded the work done by Alcoholics Anonymous. Referring to the sharing’s of Rammurthy and Gregory who shared in Kannada language, he said that being a union  January 2010

I believe that anyone anywhere who reads this journal will know that we are there to help. I saw the topic chosen for the next month and request the editor to keep such subjects in mind while choosing topics henceforth.

Kannikswamy, Bangalore. 2

The Twelve Steps for Recovery 1.

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.


Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.


Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.


Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.


Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.


Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.


Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.


Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.


Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it. 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The Twelve Traditions of AA 1.

Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.


For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority—a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.


The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.


Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.


Each group has but one primary purpose—to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.


An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.


Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining


Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.

outside contributions.


A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.

10. Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy. 11. Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films. 12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

Steps and Traditions Copyright © AA World Services, Inc.; reprinted with permission

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Tradition 1 Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA Unity.

Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to fly alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front.

Learn from the Geese We are a small part

LESSON: If we have as much sense as a goose, we will stay with those who are headed in the direction we want to go, and be willing to accept their help as well as to give our help to others.

of a great whole ...

When the lead goose gets tired, it rotates back into formation and another goose flies at the point position.


cherished quality our Society has. Our lives, the lives of all to come, squarely depend upon it. Without unity, the heart of A.A would cease to beat; our world arteries would no longer carry the life-saving grace of God; His gift would be spent aimlessly.

HE QUESTION that comes to my mind very frequently is “Could Bill W , Dr.Bob and the first 100 have survived without service to each other?”. Those of us alive and sober today are a result of their service in writing the Big Book, AA comes of Age, 12 Steps and 12 Traditions and all the rest of the AA literature, and in the tremendous work and sacrifice required to keep the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous going.

For me, Tradition 1 is best illustrated by the following parable: “Lessons from geese” (taken from Barefoot Bob’s collection of writings).

The unity of AA is the most

As each bird flaps it’s wings, it creates an uplift for geese following. By flying in the “V” formation, the whole flock adds 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. LESSON: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get to where they are going quicker and easier, because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

 January 2010


honk when we need help! The long form of Tradition One states: “We are a small part of a great whole”. What a change to the old way of life, when we thought so much of ourselves, made radical and dumb life changes without any help from another person. We did it all by ourselves which brought many of us close to death.

LESSON: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and share leadership. People, too , are dependent upon each other. The geese in formation honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed. LESSON: We need to make sure that our honking is encouraging, and not something else.

Then we walked through the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous and learnt that the ‘Great Whole’ is made up of the brothers and sisters of Alcoholics Anonymous of which we become a part. When so done, AA continues to grow and we learn as a group the AA design for living.

When a goose gets sick or wounded or shot down it honks for help and two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to protect it. They stay with the sick goose until it is able to fly again or it dies. Then they launch out on their own, or with another formation, or catch up with the flock.

I have now learnt that I am just a cog in the A.A. machine. Without me, A.A. will replace the cog; without the machine, I as a cog have no purpose.

LESSON: If we have as much sense as geese, we too will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong….and

JP, Bangalore. 5

January 2010

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Step 1 We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.

The Road to Freedom Only when I know and face the truth, will I be free...


HE 1ST STEP is about surrender, and this surrender involves facing the harsh truth and reality about myself: namely, my total addiction to alcohol. Step 1 is the only nonspiritual step, and I have to take it alone. It is when I know and face the truth that I become free. Taking Step 1 is that road to freedom.

minutest feeling of denial can set me off the beam. Nothing less than a total surrender to a Power greater than myself, will set me on the road to recovery. All my life I ran my life on self-will and that was what set me off the beaten track. I did not know I had an addictive personality and neither did I ask for one, but there it was dormant inside of me, waiting to be activated. Alcohol did the trick, and over the years as and when the addiction set in, my personality took the Jekyll and Hyde syndrome. I blamed everybody for my ills, except myself, not realizing that alcohol was the root cause. Later even after accepting that alcohol was the root cause of my problems, I still did not want to accept the idea that I should live without a drink for the rest of

This is the only Step that has to be taken 100%, otherwise I am bound to have a relapse. Even that

 January 2010


my life. I had always considered myself as a reasonably religious type of person, going to church every Sunday, etc, but as my disease progressed, I stopped going to church and preferred to stay at home and drink, making that famous excuse that God being everywhere attendance at church was not necessary. My wife is also an alcoholic, and so having two drunks in the house was a sure fire recipe for chaos and disaster. Over and above that I in the pit of my stomach which I had virtually become a recluse from used to feel. That feeling of abject civil society, having decided that a void and non-existence of any kind drink was preferable of life within me, THIS IS THE ONLY to the company of made me a walking others, unless they zombie. STEP THAT HAS TO were drinking too. BE TAKEN 100%, I never ever OTHERWISE This life of wanted to admit that loneliness and soliI AM BOUND alcohol had totally tude made me exTO HAVE A RELAPSE. defeated me. I knew tremely fearful and it was my one and scared of even my own shadow. Till only problem and thought I could today I cannot explain the hollowness solve it by giving it up on my own, but I failed miserably each time. I needed some kind of lifeline, which came to me through an old college classmate of mine, who recommended I go to Goa and stay with another college classmate of ours who was already in the program for 13 years. I had been to A.A. in the late 80’s, but never identified myself with the drunks there, but in my heart I knew it was my solution. 7

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Heart To Heart:

I realized that I had to admit my addiction and my helplessness; turn to my God and surrender my life over to His care. It was then that my life took a wholly different meaning as a spiritual transformation had set in, and since that fateful day I have not touched a drink.

Highlights in Sobriety

The process of Step 1, then, is twofold: to name the problem and to admit defeat. Once that process is completed, then only do we realize that we were not meant to be dependent on our individual selves; we are meant to rely on each other and on my EGO stood for Edging God God. We are deOut, and that is preAA TAUGHT ME THAT cisely what I had signed that way. done. Once the ego MY EGO STOOD FOR We are not left me, I allowed EDGING GOD OUT, capable of operating the Grace of my AND THAT IS PRECISELY without energy from God to enter my God and from each very being and take WHAT I HAD DONE. other. We need to care of my life completely smash our egos, and behenceforth. come reliant on that wonderful Higher Power. A.A. taught me that For me God stands for Good Orderly Direction, and till today I ask for it in my daily prayers. My surrender to my God has given me a wonderful sense of freedom, and the Serenity Prayer helps me daily to solve any problems that I may face in my daily life, cause I ask Him for the wisdom to know what to accept and what to change. I am ecstatic that I had the humility to ask God for His Grace, and that it was given unstintingly.

Paul K., Bangalore.  January 2010


Entering the World of the Spirit The Big Book highlights it all ...


T WAS ALMOST a reflex action for me to turn to pages 83 and 84 of the Big Book when I was first asked to write about ‘the highlights in sobriety’. I have heard the twelve promises read out time and time again in the AA meeting rooms, and have realized that everything pertinent about the subject has already been said in these simple, but powerful sentences.

immediate results. In the first year of my sobriety, I tried in earnest to try to find what God meant to me. This led, in turn, to voracious reading of whatever I could find on the subjects of spirituality, mysticism and religion. But more interestingly, it opened up a treasure chest of practical approaches to prayer and meditation that I could use on a daily basis. I learned through meditation to ‘step away’ from myself and to see myself That said, dispassionately, having accepted just as I would I TRIED IN EARNEST the assignment to another. This alTO FIND OUT write a few words lowed for being WHAT GOD MEANT of my own, I placed, as it says thought through on page 85, in a TO ME. my own experiposition of neuences over the last few years of havtrality – safe and protected. Protected ing been sober, and what they have mainly from me – always my own meant to me. This exercise yielded worst enemy!. three nuggets that saliently describe Though I had secured an the ‘change’ for me. altered way of thinking, I found that The first highlight was disI wasn’t yet really a filament that concovering that sincere attempts at both ducted God’s current! It took me a meditation and prayer yielded almost while to realize that the benefits of 9

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prayer and meditation don’t pass through me, like an electric current, to anyone I touch. This, much to the amusement of other alcoholics who had tread the pink cloud before me - and to the chagrin of my non alcoholic friends and relatives! In time I realized that all I can do, like other alcoholics before me, is to pass on the message – and then watch.

highlight of sobriety. It means not only being aware of myself, but also accepting myself as I truly am. What a great relief this is!.

The last great discovery, with able – and always available – assistance from my sponsor, was that the simple aphorisms of the AA programme really did transport themselves to all my affairs. For instance, I could decide to deal with Then there was much talk in all my life’s problems one day at a the classrooms about ‘step work’ time. There are many situations, which I soon people, and cirI REALIZED THAT ALL found related alcumstances that I most always to can do nothing I CAN DO, steps Four and about from a lifeLIKE OTHER ALCOHOLICS Five, and the catime perspective, BEFORE ME, tharsis that takes but I can certainly place when we IS TO PASS ON THE MESSAGE. deal with them finally have the one day at a time. courage to look at another person, Maybe I won’t be able to deal with and by extension, to God, in the eyes the problem tomorrow – but tomor- and to truly admit to them the narow is another day. And if I truly ture of our wrongs. This process of live my life in day-tight compartself discovery, and of standing up to ments, with the help of the AA proaccept what I found, was the second gram, then tomorrow never comes! Ergo, problem solved.

Highlights in Sobriety

The Grapevine of India

From Despair to Dreams Transformation in Sobriety


LWAYS AN average misunderstood misfit, I had a difficult time in the beginning accepting the fact that I could be an alcoholic. From my perspective, an alcoholic was some homeless guy wandering the streets, sleeping in gutters with bottles hidden in a trench coat. He'd probably lost his job, wife, kids and everything else worthwhile. I just couldn't relate to that, since I was a girl, 17, Chinese, definitely unique bad ass punk rocker, with a lack of proper upbringing. I thought I was just crazy, and that perhaps my childhood and depression were my problem.

much so that I almost thought myself out of AA. What I came to realize is that I felt the same way that they all did. It's what alcohol did to me, not how much or what I drank. I felt that I'd suffered the same pain of 10 or 20 years of drinking within a matter of 3 brutally painful years of drinking and using. If I'd gone on like that for much longer, I definitely would not have made it. I had my first drink when I was 14 and by the time I was 17 I was broke, fired from yet another job, a high school dropout, with no family support, no real friends. I couldn't stop drinking, couldn't even kill myself and this was the best I could do. It was either going to continue like this till I died or it would just get worse. I just couldn't bear the thought so I surrendered and crawled back into the rooms for help, this time completely willing and beaten.

I also hadn't drunk as much as my counterparts whom I initially had met in the rooms. I'd sometimes even get remarks laughingly that people had spilt more than I had drunk. I used to compare myself to others, so

If there is one sentence that sums it all up, it is again from those wonderful pages from the Big Book: halfway through page 84 sits the lodestone – “We have entered the world of the Spirit.”

My first 30 days, I raised my hand as a newcomer and would preface each share with a hostile suicide threat, then would promptly run out of the room while people yelled to "keep coming back!". I would show up the next day and would repeat

Sid, Bangalore.  January 2010



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Catholic church with my mother as a child, but since she hadn't gotten me baptized or educated about any of it, I would just sit, listen, feel left out, and would finally beg God to help relieve the anguish I was going through. I felt I was in hell all my life, why would God suddenly decide to be there for me? He had given up on me.

the same thing. I felt so uncomfortable in my skin sitting with all the emotions I didn't know how to deal with.

However, my sponsor pointed out that my way of living was obviously not working and that I'd have to start relying on something Greater than myself if I was to make it. So I started praying and it began with just talking to the ceiling. Prayers would be something along the lines of "God, if you're there, and you care, I guess please help me to stay sober today, and oh, thanks for helping me yesterday."

Finally, a woman came up to me and offered to be my sponsor. From that moment, my life changed. This wonderful woman took me through the steps and told me she would love me till I could love myself. She would sit with me every week, sometimes twice a week and read the book with me and go through my step work. She encouraged me to go to at least one meeting a day and to start being of service. That meant going to meetings, getting commitments and participating, sitting in the front row and talking to newcomers.

After a few months, despite myself and how much I didn't think this program could work for such a unique person as me, I found myself thinking less and less about drinking. I found getting through the days easier and my interactions with others smoother, happier, real and fulfilling.

She suggested that I try praying as well and that brought up a stiff antagonism, just like some fellow in the Big Book did. I had been dragged to  January 2010

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filled the role that my blood family couldn't be for me. I find that I have family no matter where on God's green earth that I go.

My sponsor said that to gain self-esteem, I would have to do estimable acts which meant learning to suit up, show up, do my best and let go of the rest. She laid importance in taking care of myself with sleep enough, eating properly and exercising.

Being sober doesn't mean that life is smooth sailing either. Challenges, pain and misfortune are a part of life and the principles I've learned to live by have taught me not only how to deal with every situation soberly, but also with grace and maturity. Instead of thinking that life is treating me unfairly, I look at everything as a lesson that I can learn from and then can help someone else with. That is truly one of the greatest gifts of this program, getting to help others and see them change, grow and become happy.

The years of sobriety that have followed have been truly amazing and miraculous. Not only have I lived a life that I never could've dreamed of, I'm filled with peace and contentment that has been lasting and deeply satisfying. I've been given a purpose and most importantly a connection with a Higher Power that I chose to call God.

I was able I'M FILLED WITH Today I'm to go back to school, pursue a PEACE AND CONTENTMENT following another of my God-given dream with horse THAT HAS BEEN dreams of living in training, travel LASTING AND DEEPLY another country. around the world SATISFYING From a high and have become school dropout junkie misfit rebel, friends with hosts of people in and I'm now over 11 years sober, living in outside of AA for whom I've grown India working for a huge multia deep love and affection. I've national company as a programmer, learned the true meaning of friendand getting to carry the message to ship, what it means to be a "worker other alcoholics here. amongst workers" and a "person among people". My AA family has

Jenny, Bangalore.



January 2010

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A Purposeful Life


No Hangover, No escapades, No emptiness

fellowship, I would have been mad or dead by now due to disease.

provide medication for my eyes and get me spectacles. So started my rebirth and journey of life in AA.

I had the Grace of God on me in the beginning of 2003, and was passed the message of our fellowship by my sponsor and another fellow member. I could not sustain it for more than 2 months then, and had a slip which lasted till 27th May 2008. I found myself in the streets of Bangalore.

I am already able to see the miracles, the first is being away from my first drink. The promises from the Big Book are coming true in my life again by the grace of God. My disease is becoming the firm bedrock on which a happy and purposeful life is beginning to be built one day at a time.

My search for Simple I WAS QUITE FILTHY an easier softer way only prayers, like asking for ended up as the hardest AFTER FOUR, FIVE DAYS God’s protection from and most difficult way. ON THE STREETS. my first drink and asking him for strength to Finally after having completely attend a meeting for that day, do wonaccepted my defeat, I started my journey ders. In meetings I attend I am able to of life again in complete earnest. This see myself. time around, I didn’t have any shelter over me, had a red right eye due to a fiI am grateful to God that he broid growth ( the vision was completely made me an alcoholic and gave me this not there in the eye), was not employed, wonderful program. Today I can see that and of course was quite filthy after a I am perfect in spite of my imperfecweek on the streets. tions, in my God’s eyes, and his grace upon me is constantly there to make me that much better, to become more loving, tolerating and caring.

In this condition a fellow member was kind enough to take me in, give me shelter , give me a job in his establishment, and

The Grapevine of India

Everyday is a Bonus

What’s more to be highlighted ? F IT WERE not for AA and the

Highlights in Sobriety


What a change in personality: I have rediscovered how to smile, how to be a human, something I had almost lost and forgotten.

HANK GOD, I am now able to put behind me the drunkenness and escapades of active addiction. From being sick and tired of being sick and tired of finding a meaning to live life. Every day is a bonus from the divine almighty.

Compassion, Tolerance, Acceptance and Surrender have been my watchwords of daily living. I am able to connect myself with the divine and feel his presence in every sphere of life.

Today I don’t have to get up with a hangover, wondering whether it is day or night and say, “Oh it is Monday already. How come?”

Yes, I do have my days of At 65, I get up at 3:30 am Ups and Downs. I feel the depres( Bramhamuhurta ) and go into an sion and emptiness when I lose faith hour of meditation I HAVE SET 10 HOURS and take back my and prayer, and top FOR EXCLUSIVELY WORK- will. But I share this up my tank with ING WITH NEWCOMERS , at meetings so newloads of positive comers will know SHARING MY energy for the next that sobriety is not EXPERIENCES AND 23 hours . A walk in all based on a fanFRUITS OF SOBRIETY the morning to reltasy life where we never suffer or ish the chirping of doubt. Today my dreams mean sparrows and to feel the morning something. “I can’t keep it unless I rays of the sun caressing my face. give it away.” I have set 10 hours Almost a year into sobriety, after a exclusively for working with newseries of attempts and being in and comers, sharing my experiences and out of the classroom of AA, has been the fruits of sobriety that have been bestowed on me through the grace of a miracle. my higher power.

Suresh R., Bangalore.  January 2010



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Highlights in Sobriety

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“God, I am grateful to you for giving me a fruitful life though a faltered one, and for experiencing all your glory. Thanks for doing the 4th and 5th steps with me and I wish you are there for my birthday party.” As symbolized by the triangle in the circle of our fellowship, the steps of recovery, the traditions of

Highlights in Sobriety

unity, and the concept of service, have proved to be invaluable. For all this I am grateful.


The program gives me no choice. I am doomed to be happy, joyous and free. I might just as well accept my fate gracefully.

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Subu, Bangalore.

The Grapevine of India

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Poster suggestion for carrying the message by JP, Bangalore.  January 2010



January 2010

Highlights in Sobriety

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Highlights in Sobriety

The Grapevine of India


January 2010

The Grapevine of India

The Grapevine of India

The Riddle of Unmanageability Part 3

To Thine Own Self Be True


HEN I FINALLY came around to registering in my mind this core message of my AA Programme: “To Thine Own Self Be True”, I was confronted with the question, how do I first know what is it my “self” wanted, that I could be true to?

To find out my true self, I first had to learn the difference between Being, Doing and Having. Mostly we describe a person by what he usually does. And that is the way I knew to describe a ‘character’. I could see others’ characters, sometimes, but I never saw mine. This is a blind spot for us.

Was it how I felt? Or was it I do a workshop that deals what I thought? Or was it both? Or with unmanageability in some depth, something else altogether? Something since it is the most important part of the first step according to me; admitthat my sponsor told me or my group friends said? Was it ting powerlessness I COULD SEE “to do good”? Or was over alcohol is relaOTHERS ’ CHARACTERS , tively easier if we it to simply “be mySOMETIMES, BUT I have hit bottom. It self”? NEVER SAW MINE. takes me 3 sessions The confuto share this effecsion was compounded when there tively. So I’m not going to try and do were hardly any standard answers or it here. But I’ll try this: even any answers except to be told Suppose a film is being that I’d have to find out for myself. made on you and your life. The DiIn fact I suspected most people I asked were themselves not very clear, rector of the film has to brief the or were not able to express what they lead actor and wants a brief on your knew. character. The real character, not  January 2010


“practiced” being a certain way all my only the one you try and pretend to be. How would you describe your true charsick life, suddenly change and beacter? What characteristics? What colcome true to being an instrument of ors? And how would God’s will? You’ll your friends and famI FELT LIKE notice I said ily describe your charCALLING HIM NAMES AND “practiced” and acter? What do you not “used to beTHROWING HIM OVERknow about yourself that you think ing” – a vital differBOARD AND SACKING nobody knows? ence, even if I HIM AS MY SPONSOR. can’t show it to When I you here in print like I do in a workactually sat down and wrote down shop. But suffice it to say, the promy answers to these questions, I had gramme gives us two tools to accommore or less described who I was plish this: being. I saw my character in all its hues and colors. That was the beginFake it to make it ning of understanding my “self”. &


The spirituality of the programme had me realize that I am but His instrument. That I didn’t direct the play of my life; He did. Thus, I came to the point where I confronted the naked truth of my character trying to play out my life plan, when in fact I needed to play out God’s plan for me. The chasm between who I was being and who I needed to be to carry out His will for me, was the biggest shock of my life till then.

I surrendered to my sponsor, doing his bidding without question. Of course I had many instances when I felt like calling him names and throwing him (!!) overboard and sacking him as my sponsor. But by God’s grace, I didn’t. And I remained sober. My sponsor told me to keep a meeting open even if no one came. I did for years. And since many meetings had no one else coming, I ended up reading every book there was in AA at that time in Bangalore.

At this point, I bring you back to the original question that started all this: To Thine Own Self Be true. Which self?

My sponsor told me to paste posters at various places in my neighbourhood announcing a PI meeting

How can I, when I have 21

January 2010

The Grapevine of India

The Grapevine of India

to which not one person came. But two weeks ago (that’s many years later) at that same local meeting, a member of many years sobriety shared that he saw one of those posters and came to AA and sobered up!

Vision 2010

In short, I surrendered to my sponsor. In doing so, I have come to believe I INVOKED the grace of my Higher Power and gave Him a mouthpiece to talk to me. Thus, it was no longer about being true to my “feelings and thoughts” at all!

The Gestalt hypothesis

pletely and totally – morally, spiritually and emotionally, long before I had found alcohol.

Given the sick feelings and stinking thoughts that crowded my mind and life, I was relieved by this pipeline to my higher power feeding me at every step of my recovery. My sponsor knew little or nothing about my work and he studiously kept away from that aspect; but he would keep on dinning into me the ‘Self’ part of it even as I went about doing my work! …. “to practice these principles in all our affairs.” To Thine Own Self Be true is NOT about honouring my feelings. It’s not even about doing what my thinking told me. My thinking and feelings were totally out of control, (unmanageable) changing ten times a day and persisting when I wanted to get rid of them. My disease had subverted my “self” com January 2010

To find my true self, I had to surrender to another human being who had tread that same path, my sponsor. I had to invoke the grace of my Higher power and believe my sponsor to be His mouthpiece. I had to learn to trust that my HP would indeed speak through my sponsor. And in that simple step of taking a sponsor and unquestioningly doing what he asked me to do, I found a way to believe that I had started being true to myself.

JS, Bangalore. 22


URS IS A country of firmly believe in doing things and one hundred crores. doing them right! All of us cannot be Hundred crores of good at everything, so we should minds separated by have a common purpose/ goal and souls, families, castes, cultures, states work united towards what we believe and aspirations. Just imagine a vision in. We should be responsible enough of India where all those hundred milto identify the goodness in each other lion achieve to their potentials! A and allocate responsibilities according vision of' India where all those hunto capabilities and an individual's dred million have a singleness of purwillingness. But we must not fall prey pose! And for that India of our to a blind trust that might sway us dreams, what I can do as an individaway from our only and ultimate ual and as part of a responsible felgoal. lowship could easily be my vision In our 2010! vision, the followWHAT CAN I DO AS AN In psyers are as imporINDIVIDUAL AND AS PART tant and involved chology we talk OF A as the leaders. about Gestalt hypothesis, which RESPONSIBLE FELLOWSHIP They are active participants rather says, 'the whole is than passive voyeurs! Service is vision more than the sum of it's parts!' For a knowledgeable AA member it is in action. In vision 2010 I want all not something new. So one thing I AA members to understand and param sure about is that whatever might ticipate in service, structured or othbe the vision, our group vision must erwise!. stand above our individual vision. I I would not be wrong to say that individual recovery is AA in action! My friends, your recovery is AA's gift to you and your family, 23

January 2010

AA Preamble

The Grapevine of India

your commitment to service is your contribution to the vision 2010! And do not ever forget it's contribution to your own recovery! Friends, you say every time that you are sober because of the God of your understanding and this wonderful fellowship. You have been able to see a sober day due to this beautiful program and how it has changed your and your family's life. You all are witness to many a miracle in your life, and in humbleness and gratitude you acknowledge the hand of god in all that good that has come your way. You are blessed in many ways to feel the existence of good in this world.

in all it's stark reality, hope prevails and comes out shining ever so brightly. This unending hope in 'as yet' , trust in 'keep coming back', and camaraderie in hugs and hi's are the building blocks for my vision 2010. Friends, commitment is an all or none phenomenon. There is nothing like partial commitment. Twelve stepping is god's work, but if that work needs to make a mark on a larger canvass then service structures are essential. Structured service is the only way to reach out to suffering alcoholics in the most efficient manner. Chaval, a French author, once said, 'there is nothing stronger than an idea whose time has come!'.

There are still so many who are dying every moment who are searching for the same hand of god that led you to a meeting. Someone, somewhere acted upon god's wish to show you that day. And god's wish is unending, full of only good and nurture. Today god depends on you to carry out his wish! He has his hopes hung on you to make people believe that god exists, goodness exists! God is fighting the evil through you! It is said that evil prevails when good people fail to do anything. Friends, it is up to us to decide whom we shall side! Having experienced His kindness can we ever ignore His wish? My vision 2010 is god's wish! .

Friends, the time is right to begin the social engineering of an idea, that has good for all, promise for all, and progress for all! You have witnessed till now what the fellowship has done for you, now is the time to think what you can do for the fellowship!. Friends, with this beautiful fellowship you have an opportunity not only to add life to your years, but to add life to the years of so many! How many in your society do you know who are blessed with such an opportunity? Would it be wise to miss this rare opportunity bestowed upon you? Vision 2010 is being a part of this simple change in the mindset of many.

I see AA vibrant in some parts and not so vibrant in others. I see AA entangled in issues totally uncalled for in some places, and bubbling with enthusiasm in others! But  January 2010

Dr Ashish Deshpande Trustee : Class A GSO India 24

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy; neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. Reprinted with permission of The AA Grapevine Inc.

Simple Sobriety Secrets

Responsibility Declaration

On my fourth Gratitude birthday, I shared about the Simple Sobriety Secrets, which Mike sug-

I am responsible.

gested that I send to TGI.

When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help,

Here are my secrets:

Sit in meetings Study the A.A. literature

I want the hand of AA always to be there.

Share at meetings

And for that I am responsible.

Sponsor – Take one Steps – Work them Service – Do it Sobriety will come Serenity follows. Simple-isn't it? JP, Bangalore .

Credits We thank all the contributors for the articles and images provided at short notice that made this publication possible. We thank Shrikanth and Gopal for invaluable printing support. 25

The Grapevine of India

The Grapevine of India

Life Worth Living


On New Year's Eve, Mary stood up in the local pub and said that it was time to get ready. At the stroke of midnight, she wanted every husband to be standing next to the one person who made his life worth living.


But the son kept begging. Unable to bear his son's whining, he picks up his axe one day and heads out of the house.

Well, it was kind of embarrassing. As the clock struck - the bartender was almost crushed to death.

Thirty minutes later he returns with a great big Christmas tree.

The Exorcist

"How did you cut it down so fast?" his son asks.

Once Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Green met during a party. After an hour of talking and drinking, Mrs. Smith told her friend, "They call my husband 'The Exorcist.'"

"I didn't cut it down," the father replies. "I got it at a tree lot." "Then why did you take an axe?" "Because I didn't want to pay."

With a great surprise Mrs. Green asked her, "Why?" She replied, "At every party we attend, he soon gets rid of all the spirits."

WARNINGS Consumption of alcohol may lead you to believe that ex-lovers are really dying for you to telephone them at 4 in the morning.

The Axe Effect A boy begs his father to get him a Christmas tree this year.

Consumption of alcohol may make you think you are whispering when you are not.

Each year, the boy asks and the father tells him, "I don't want to pay for it."  January 2010


Looking around, he noticed that the bar was empty except for himself and the bartender at the end of the bar.



A few sips later the voice said "great shirt". At this, the man called the bartender over. "Hey...I must be losing my mind," he told the barkeep. "I keep hearing these voices saying nice things, and there's not a soul in here but us."

Prayers Two young boys were spending the night at their grandparents. At bedtime, the two boys knelt beside their beds to say their prayers when the youngest one began praying at the top of his lungs: "I PRAY FOR A NEW BICYCLE... I PRAY FOR A NEW IPOD... I PRAY FOR A NEW DVD..."

"It's the peanuts," said the bartender. "What???" "You heard me," said the barman. "It's the peanuts ... they're complimentary."

His older brother leaned over and nudged the younger brother and said, "Why are you shouting your prayers? God isn't deaf."

Floor Me

To which the little brother replied, "No, but Grandma is!"

A man walks into a seedy looking tavern. The barkeep strolls over and asks him "What do you want to drink?"

Losing my Mind

The man points out to a guy laying on the tavern floor and says "Whatever that guy’s drinking."

A man goes into a bar and sat down, and ordered a beer. As he drank the beer, he heard a soothing voice say "nice tie!" 27

January 2010

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