GST ground realities!

Hype and noise over GST implementation is it justified?

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Some human emotions and reactions are excitement, frustration, ignorance, arguments! I never thought that GST, Goods and Services Tax, a drab subject will invoke so much of emotions. GST was implemented by Government of India effective from 1st July 2017. Before GST, the tax structure was extremely complicated and each state had its own tax rates and taxes. Doing business and managing tax compliance was an extremely complex thing with many different tax agencies, with many obstacles in doing business, it was almost like a hurdle race. I am not going to write about technicalities of implementation or real life details but about the human angle in GST implementation.

This change is supposed to be a game changer in the business ecosystem of India. GST was being planned since last ten years. But usual political lack of will, government change and horse trading delayed the implementation. First date declared for implementation was 1/10/2016 which was changed to 1/4/2017 then finally to 1/7/2017. Humans are of different types and the tendency in some is to crib about everything. On one side people said how can this government implement GST when they cannot even fix up the date of implementation! Though GST is being discussed for more than 10 years, when it really happened main refrain was “we were not given enough time”. How do you define enough time? Main preparation required for any business reform, other than infrastructure, is the change in mental setup. If you are mentally not ready, 20 years also will not be good enough time for getting ready!

All the big industry and many in trade have been under some tax regime all the time. Laws under excise regime were very strong but it was easier to play around in other tax types. Why do people avoid taxes? Is it with the noble cause of selling goods at a cheaper rate? No way! They do it basically to avoid showing the real volume of business they do, thereby saving on income tax. This is the so called parallel economy or cash economy. This is nothing new and it happens world over. When you have complex laws and equally complex systems, those who want to play around are happy because they can tweak the system and reach their ultimate goal, hide the real income. A friend Mahesh always used to say, “Pramod excise is the best thing that has happened to India.” Mahesh headed a manufacturing organization. He would say, “These laws mandated people to complete their work every day, only because of fear of going to jail!” Many people will be sloppy if allowed and would not complete their daily! It is fear that mandated people to complete the work.

GST compared to previous tax regime before 1/7/2017, is a very simple system. It is addressing many demands of business groups about cascading effect of taxes, causing heavy/double taxation on end products and services. Tax levels all over India for same product are same, so are tax levels on services. When the government decided to go ahead with GST, it was required to fix tax rates for each item based on available information, knowledge and discussions with trade and business groups. With such a large exercise there can never be 100% acceptance and there are bound to be changes over a period, and modifications made on the fly. The affected groups were bound to be unhappy and made a lot of noise! Authorities listened to most but some demands were unreasonable, so government ignored them. Human learns from birth that if you cry loudly mother will give you milk. These people are crying loudly to grab attention. The implementation phase saw cribbing at its best!

In some cases, there were errors and flaws which were not corrected even on approaching helplines, writing to right authorities and making genuine attempts. There were no resolutions coming, initially. This is a small group of businesses and these are the groups that are bound make maximum noise, in some cases justifiable. There were interpretation errors by consultants which resulted in chaos. But there are some groups who on one side say that GST is the best thing that has happened to India but and in the same breath say that it is a draconian system! The system has just started  since last ¾ months. How draconian nature of system can be viewed or experienced by these people in such a short period? I doubt that other than non-resolution of their queries there is hardly any interaction with government agencies. Government is already publishing advertisements in newpapers showing FAQ’s for various group of businesses. I get a feeling that GST system will make life difficult for those who want to avoid taxes, but nobody can openly say so! So beat the drums and trumpets against the system!

People tend to tell false stories to complain against the changes. One person claimed that he was required to spend Rs. 80000/ for getting his organization registered for GST. There are no fees for registration. Governments drive for digitalization requires digital signature during registration. This person claimed that Rs. 30000/ was spent for digital signature process. It is false, consultants charge Rs.1500/ to get this done. Digital signature is valid for two years! So real expense was Rs.1500/. On asking about Rs.50000/ expense he claimed that he could not take Rs.50000/ tax credit because of the delay. This is again false because he could easily have taken it had he registered on time, maybe he did not know the right procedure or his consultant was not competent. Such false stories are floated because of lack of knowledge. Throwing tantrums due to lack of knowledge pretty easy.

Humans don’t want a change, if it is possible, as per Newton’s law of inertia. They will make statements like “Change is the only constant!” But in real life change management needs new systems, processes, retraining and change in thought process. This needs leadership to encourage people to change. Absence of these things will create situation where it is easy to blame everything on GST! Government or GST is a faceless entity so it is very easy to make such a drama if you get an audience. Some people have reached very high in life’s station, but this does not mean that they have total knowledge about GST. In cocktail parties they will make “knowledgeable” statements. When they meet a person with knowledge they tend to drift to join another group for discussion!

I feel that by Diwali next year, these strong emotions, discussions, reactions will taper off. People will then start singing praise of GST as if the whole world is reformed by GST, it is only a change in tax system! People will get used to GST, Newton’s law of inertia will set in and discussions during next Diwali maybe about North Korean nuclear bomb!

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Blog or an Article?

Significance of different pairs like Adam and Eve, Rabbit and Tortoise!

Blog is defined as a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group that is written in an informal or conversational style. And an article is a piece of writing included with others in a newspaper, magazine, or other publication.  I don’t publish anything in any newspaper but I publish all my writings on my BlogSpot panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com, so now I am in two minds when to call, what I write, a blog or an article. I simply publish when I think that I am ready with my stuff. These thoughts came to my mind because after my last blog “Traditionally speaking…” Jaya felt that it did not feel like a blog. Yes I had also felt the same thing when I published it. I did not want to express my deep thoughts or conflicts and concerns in my mind, on the subject of Tradition. But it was something I felt, I must write about. When any subject starts churning in my mind, the churning stops only when I write about it.

We can say that blog is like IT industry where most are on first name basis and things are pretty informal. Article is like Finance or Engineering industry with stiff upper lip! What is easier to write? I feel that article writing is easier for me to write, because it rarely contains deep thoughts, at least for me. It is woven around  major public events or a public figure. Whereas blogs are generally about small events in personal life. It’s really funny that major public events invoke dry, maybe indifferent, thought process in me. Whereas, a very small personal event invokes a major thought process deep in my mind. In both cases it is my own writing but treatment it gets from my mind is different or maybe even indifferent! End result is also different. Why does it happen that way?

I feel that blog and article are siblings from the same mould, who think different, look different. Siblings are born from same parent but their behavior or look is quite different. This made me think of various famous pairs that exist in the world. They are very significant in our lives because of the messages they send you and thoughts they generate in our mind.

First and foremost pair that comes to mind is “Adam & Eve”! This pair has supposedly started our world and have created the society as we know it today. None of the pairs can be as dissimilar but as tightly bound as Adam and Eve. This pair is very much alike in certain aspects but totally dissimilar in many others. They have supposedly come from Venus and Mars! They are very similar about loving their kids but are totally opposite in social behavior, just to give an example. What does this relation tell us about life? Persons having totally different nature, still can work together very closely and raise the most difficult product in the world, the family! Theirs is a relationship which can be ideal relationship in the sense they have their ups and downs but finally they reach their ultimate goal in spite of differences!

 Another pair is that of Rabbit and Tortoise from the childhood stories that we hear. They are obviously very different; look at the Rabbit looking swift and sharp and young. Tortoise looking steady, and mature. What message do they give; obvious message is slow and steady wins the race! But with time, many things have changed and along with that the interpretation has also changed. Now in the fast world that we live in, the saying is be fast and furious but also make sure that you don’t relent in what your goal is! Don’t go to sleep like the rabbit did, on the way to glory!

Sun and the Moon is another pair in the same mold. These two are celestial bodies formed millions of years ago but compliment each other. We say that it is  day when we can see the Sun, but it is not night every time we see the moon. They are a pair where Sun is the boss and the Moon reports to him. Sun always shines and Moon can shine only when Sun is not there. Moon has to always follow subordinates’ role but never minds to stay in background when Sun is around. Sun sometimes totally hides or overwhelms the Moon, during eclipse. But Moon keeps on doing its routine job, always. It never gets flustered with his job or with the Sun. Consistently doing your job without ever getting into limelight is what we learn from this pair!

Santaji and Dhanaji were two warriors from the time of Shivaji. They were brave, brilliant and were not afraid to die for their king! The enemies were so afraid of this pair that enemies could not sleep well. Even when the enemies were at the water holes for a drink, any slight unknown movement would cause panic in them and they would think that Santaji/Dhanaji have come. This would make them run helter-skelter! How did this happen? This pair was the epitome of loyalty, bravado of Shivaji’s sardars and made sure that enemy was under great fear all the time. These are the qualities that can be beneficial for all us. This also indicated the fruits of being excellent and focussed in ones field.

Friends from my confusion in deciding about my piece of writing, if it is a blog or an article, I ended up writing a blog about different pairs that we encounter in real world. I was able to extract the meaning of the existence of such and tried to analyze their relevance and importance. There are many such pairs like, Hitler & Mussolini, Gilchrist and Hall, Ramanathan Krishnan and Jaydeep Mukherjee. These are not necessarily “good” pairs!  These pairs are always complement each other as individuals and manage to change the equation 1 plus 1 is not 2 but 11!

 Oh! I ended up writing blog, that is for sure!

Traditionally speaking…

Follow the traditions the right way!

Tradition means a long-established custom or belief that has been passed on from one generation to another. This is a great thing that we humans do. Traditions have been formed and continued based on what we have been doing year after year. But what has now happened is that traditions and their real meaning, and their relevance getting is lost in translation. Many of the traditions started in olden times with a specific thought process which was relevant at that time, within the knowledge level of those times but we want to continue using them without thinking! We also know that technology is the boon given to human race by intelligence and hard work of various people. But in case of tradition sometimes technology is becoming a  bane, a cause of great distress or annoyance:

What I feel is that instead of using technology in the right way, it is being used in such a way that it is causing harm. Take the case of crackers. Supreme Court has recently come up with a directive not to burst crackers in Delhi region due to serious pollution issues. There is a big discussion and people are upset about “heavy handed” action against traditions. But a close look at the situation in that area will tell us that traditionally farmers burn their chaff, people burst crackers of Diwali and the air purity goes to an absolute toss! Chaff can be disposed off by using different methods but we don’t want to change the tradition! Instead of being adamant about traditions, people should come together find out ways and means to enhance the joy of traditions, by lighting lovely wick lamps or diyas! Light thousands of them and enjoy the beauty and serenity!

delhi_smog_1478513562325diyas

Bursting crackers and enjoying decorative lighting is part of celebration but crackers without much smoke and cacophony is the order of the day. In olden days what was the population size? How many people burst the crackers? There was no car pollution, there was no coal power plants pollution. With all these modern changes if millions start bursting crackers we have seen what has happened. On top of that people buy crackers which are tied up as 10000 fire cracker garland. With technology the bursting strength and sound has gone up by many decibels. On top of that smoke generated by 10000 crackers is enormous! In my childhood 60 years back I remember about 7/8 of us kids would burst about 80 crackers in one hour, one at a time! These garlands were never our tradition because they never existed. We are making wrong innovations in the right tradition.

10000crackers1

Take the case of Dassara festival. It is naturally celebrated with big fanfare with a lot of flowers, garlands new clothes, it is a total celebration. This is celebrated for nine days with gusto. People dance with gay abandon to celebrate different form of the Goddess on each day! They take out processions, all fine! Now comes the misuse of technology. Since last 20 years or so procession also has big bank of huge speakers generating god knows how many decibels. During such procession which used to pass by our home, we would close the windows tightly shut, even with the windows tightly shut we could not hear a single word on TV at full volume. Only option left to us was to call police. Then the speakers would be toned down to normal volume for 200 feet and then… of course they would go full blast!

Speakers

Sabarimala devasthanam in Kerala is a temple existing from 12th century. It is in a very remote area in hills of Kerala. From olden times due to remoteness and difficult terrain,  and no roads women have avoided to go there. This practice somehow turned into tradition and was surprisingly ratified by High Court in 1991 saying that women within age group of 15 & 50 i.e. their menstruating age should not enter the Mandir as they will desecrate it. Even today in the year 2017 this practice is followed. It is a great mercy on people that Supreme Court has taken up this issue and is reviewing it. Tradition! What tradition? It is well proven beyond doubt that women are equal to men in ALL fields in spite of their monthly difficulties and difficult times during child bearing. The official spokes person of the devsthananam had the gumption to say that, “If women mentioned in above age group were  allowed to enter, then it will turn into Thailand, the Sex Tourism spot!” It is really stretching things too far!  If there is a law that says that this practice be allowed, change the damn law!

sabarimala

High profile and fearless persons, especially ladies, have to face smear campaign if they speak something about overcoming wrong practices followed under the garb of tradition. Why not let the ladies join the funeral pyre as Sati? Why not make her sit away from everybody during that time? Thank god such stupid things are done away with. Traditional thinking still has not changed as can be seen from looking at the sex ratio many states in India, females are between 85 to 92% of male population. Illegal sex tests and abortion are still rampant though governments are trying to do their best. Why? Traditionally one must have at least one son! 

Let us take a vow that we all will break the so called traditions which were practices that are existing but cannot withstand today’s scrutiny of science, knowledge and analysis. It’s fine to write “Happy Diwali” instead of “शुभ दीपावली”. We learnt English in last 100 years but it’s blatantly ok to break such an old tradition. Of course I am joking, these are not traditions but a way of communicating with each other.

Let me tell a story how traditions start. In a place of worship, a priest used to take discourse once in week. Over a period the priest developed breathing difficulties. Then just before one discourse a cat came and sat near the place where the priest sat for his discourse. The priest used to love cats but once the crowd started arriving it would run away. Priest would request someone to get the cat back out of sheer love for the animal. A tradition started that if the cat is not there, no discourse. Later the priest was transferred to be replaced by another priest.

The new Priest started coughing and sneezing when the cat was brought but somehow managed to complete his discourse. He went to a doctor and was told that these bouts were probably because of the furry friend. From next time onwards, before the discourse could start the people thought that the cat needs to be shooed away but it was breaking tradition, so cat was allowed to hang in, with same results to the priest. Over a period tradition continued that discourse would not start without the cat and the priest suffered. Finally people realized that the cat had to go away and priests’ health improved. This priest was transferred and old priest came back…. Tradition?

 

Prepare for Golden period!

Mental preparation is the key to lovely Golden Period in our lives.

Humans retire from their formal work between age 58 in some countries to no age limit in other countries. (This indicates till you can perform efficiently.) We have seen in country like Japan where people in their 70’s are advising many business teams.  In fact they are expected to do that. There will be some percentage of people who will be exceptionally fit both mentally as well as physically even after 70. But the general law of the nature is that age starts playing its role. But at some stage, you do retire and then your day to day activities pattern changes drastically.

Life style change in human beings on retirement can be pretty humbling! No, I am not talking about the money but the change in mental set-up needed is pretty drastic. It can be equivalent to some people, who are pilots for Boeing 787, to switch to flying single seated Cessna to sprinkle pesticides! During working phase, humans are so busy that they don’t find time to do many things. It is as good as putting away your time, in a bank recurring deposit. While in working phase, every month or every year, everybody must have felt that he should have had 15 days more to take his holidays, play with children, or spend time with spouse. This negative time balance accumulated and its volume, depends on each individual. Some of us were exceptionally busy and some moderately busy but I am sure there always has been a deficit of time. As and when you retire, this recurring deposit of time is automatically returned back to your account with interest.

Similarly your responsibilities, your capabilities start going down, over a period, on retirement. How do you handle this?  Our old age stage is like that of big organization which over a period has reached a stage where it is no more a dominant force. Its resources and abilities have reduced substantially. Retired human beings are like such organizations. In retirement phase it is not what you do in that phase but how you react to circumstances around you is important. Circumstances keep on changing rapidly, and you may not have control on most of them. 

In retirement phase try to look at the rivers to guide us. Rivers keep on moving at their own speed defined by geography. They flood when there is too much water and are not afraid to come out of their confines, the banks. People throw junk in them but they keep on flowing. When there is rain deficit or shortfall they simply dry up, they always change to suit the circumstances. Most important is the river always goes forward! No regrets!

Perceptions shape emotional well-being. Previously when I used to go for my walks, I would be upset if someone overtook me that is how I am made up. But now even if person 10 years senior overtakes me, I simply don’t bother and keep on walking at my own pace, smiling. You might see a senior person fitter, smiling and less wrinkled. Don’t get worried, everyone is made differently. In such cases go and talk to that person and discuss how he manages these things. The main mantra is health is wealth!

Look for authentic happiness in retirement. A bit of planning before retirement might help. What is authentic happiness? Your grandchildren can really give you a high and to every individual they are authentic happiness. But there is big trap there! They don’t remain four year old all the time! They grow and they may move to other cities or countries depending on their parent’s decisions. So this can’t be life time solution. Try to be with nature as much as possible. Try to spend as much time with spouse as possible. Try with to be with friends.

This new phase of your life is no different from previous phases of your life. You bring to the table your strengths and weaknesses; you face challenges and have opportunities. Now as you have before, plan accordingly. I encourage you to be forward thinking and realistic about what retirement means for you. For millions of us the new retirement means re-thinking and re-shaping our retirement plans. Work on it, it’s in your hands! Always be positive, and be active as long as possible!

I had created a list of points from practical point of view, for my friends. I am using the same as I felt that this will be useful to all. If you think of any other important point which I may have missed please let me know, I will add to the list. Happy golden period!

 1.       Self-Analysis: It was felt that our understanding about ourselves in working phase is based on opinion of other people around you. In work environment people may say very good things about you on face, for their benefit, and we start believing it. It is possible that same great boss may be a very different person in home environments. So we should self-analyze ourselves in a detached way. All warts and kinks could be displayed in the mirror when you decide to have a close look at yourself.

2.       Time on hand: After one fully retires from professional work the same 24 hours stretch really long; these same 24 hours were never enough during working phase. It is fine to say you can start hobbies, and will try to finish your bucket list and so on. But 24 hours and 365 days is real large time when retired. Plan your day, days or weeks in such a way that you have something to look forward to, daily! A friend has taken housing society work full time so has always looking forward to something. Another friend has bought a train pass from Thane to VT. As and when he finds it suitable, he travels by train at off peak hours. He just observes as life passes by and sees very interesting things especially the way young folks handle their lives. A friend has taken up to compering  musical programs but as an amateur!Don’t forget that in this phase you are going spend maximum time with your spouse! How about going with wife to buy grocery? How about going with her to buy a dress once in a while? How about learning to say sorry! Good to see smile on your face but these things will now become very important. You and your wife have never spent so much time together lately!

3.       Hobbies: Try and cultivate hobbies. You may already have them and there can many new ones. Discuss with your friends about what they are doing. Collect information about family and try to compile history as a hobby. Cultivate hobby of talking to friends who stay far from you, these days communication is almost free. Believe me when you talk to your long lost friend both will definitely feel happy. Sometime back I was looking for contact of a very dear friend from school days. The person who could finally give the details suggested to me that our friend has become a bit of a recluse so don’t get disappointed if he doesn’t talk for long. We ended up talking for one hour to start with! 

4.       Don’t be in denial: Think positively is the mantra for everything these days. You want to enjoy your golden period to the fullest but lack of planning can really disturb the bandwagon!  Thinking of ten years hence is also a very positive way of looking at life. How will our health condition be at the age of 80? No point in saying we will take it as it comes. Add to positivity by not going into denial! Things are going to change and it can be a good idea to be prepared for it. You may physically act at a later date but planning will always help. You will be able to enjoy your remaining life in peace if you have planned things. We always say, “I don’t want to be on ventilator, ever”! How will you achieve it if you are in denial, and don’t accept that this can happen to you too, so plan it! Supreme Court is strongly discussing about “Living Will” currently.

5.       General Health: It is important to keep general health as good as practical. If you are regular traveler make sure that you can lift and keep your bags in the upper bins. At airports, train stations a lot of walking is needed, so make sure you walk daily at some distance. At the same time just because distance is large, don’t opt for wheel chair at the airports unless you have a specific health issue. This act will allow negativity to creep in. Eat correctly and only as per your body needs. Each individual has a need for different diet as per conditions, follow them to keep healthy! Body, Mind and Intellect is what forms our body. With age, body is going to have difficulties but keeping mind and intellect intact is in our hands. (All my statements are subject to no health issues!)

6.       Desensitize yourself: By no means am I suggesting that you go away from emotions. What I mean by desensitize yourself is to try to stop worrying about your children, grand-children. We have hopefully done a good job of raising our children and they in turn will do the same! At our current age our children are old enough to manage the ups and downs in life and their children’s lives! I have read of a theory where you, your siblings and parents were in the inner most circle, to start with. As you grew, started your career, got married, you and spouse came in the innermost circle. The cycle goes on, so when your children get married they have their inner circle and you are in the outer circle. Get sensitized to this concept. 8 to 10 % of the couple’s world over are childless. They have their own issues as they grow old. They need to have their own “family”. I am not an expert in this subject but my thinking would be “family” should be of people much younger to us. Everything comes down to have having a close inner circle!

7.       Financial Matters: Make sure that there are no complex investments because we want to make life simpler. Make arrangements such that life is easy for next generation after you and your spouse.

8.       Take safety precautions: As we grow older possibility of slipping and falling down increase. Chances of our tripping while doing mundane things like changing trousers increase. Once we go into the bone related spin, life can become pretty complex. Regular exercise will assist in reaching this aim of not falling down.

To summarize growing older is inevitable, but there are many things we can do to avoid feeling older. Medical breakthroughs have and will extend our longevity, but how we decide to live as we age is crucial. Downsize your life in whatever possible way. Managing our physical health, maintaining relationships, being productive, taking safety precautions, visiting our health care providers often, and making adequate preparations to fund our retirement and long term care can help us make the most of our senior years.

 

Your Old Age friend is PQ!

Positive Quotient Your Old Age Friend!

In our literature we are always taught to handle old age gracefully and accept it as fait accompli! But thinking is changing now! 

In his New York Times bestseller Positive Intelligence, Shirzad Chamine explains: “Your mind is your best friend, but it is also your worst enemy. मन चिंती ते वैरी न चिंती Your Positive Intelligence Quotient is the percentage of time your mind is serving you as opposed to sabotaging you. Your PQ indicates how much mastery you have over your own mind.”

Humans is the only race in our Universe that uses brain to think, discuss and change things on the fly on various subjects. Other species think only about the basics of life based on fight or flight syndrome. We really don’t know how much thinking other species do except maybe Monkeys. We humans have so many different thoughts, we over analyze and end up with apprehensions. Even about 100 years back life expectancy was very low. So humans when they died, or were about to die, their health was much better till they got their final calling! In today’s times since life expectancy has gone up, there can be a phase long years in our lives, when our health will not be in best of the condition and it will be on taper off mode for quite a period of time. This long period of deteriorating health, has its own issues and that need to be tackled.

Our literature has been talking of four stages of life ending with Vanaprasthashram. This last phase was more of a theoretical phase because majority population never lived that long! This phase was glorified almost into sainthood with people expected to perform saintly things, all the time. Even 50 to 60 years back there was nothing much to do in life, so people in this phase of life would be saints. Things have changed rapidly in last twenty years or so. Much larger retired population in India is alive and kicking, though a bit slowly, even after retirement. People of our parents’ generation passed within 3 to 5 years of retirement, if not before. Now sizable population is retired and mostly not doing anything specific, post retirement, this will keep on increasing. This is a classic recipe for different sets of problems which previously hardly existed. According to Sarah Alexander, “Our brains are hard wired for negativity; this goes back to our Stone Age ancestors, who needed to be cautious all the time from attack. Attack from dangerous animals, imminent bad weather or threats from other tribes”. When certain problems are recent for a human race, there is nothing right or wrong about any decision, it is trying out new things. In foreign countries there is concept of down-sizing in old age. Beyond a certain age people sell off their larger dwellings and move to manageable ones, preferably in a common community. Or they move to old people’s homes. We need to find our path.

Large population of retirees, children are migrating to different parts of the country and the world, families are becoming more nuclear and everybody including retirees are looking for their own space, has created a scenario which hardly existed in our parents’ generation. What we are looking at is a totally new set of issues which have never been handled before hence both our generation and our children’s generation are groping to understand the situation and hoping to resolve the issues.

What could be the issues for our generation?

  •   When we retired we hardly thought about the changes that were going to happen in next decade; we were euphoric that we are going to retire.
  •     Once some health issues started coming up apprehensions were round the corner; some have chronic issues, some are having serious issues and lucky ones passed away quickly!
  •      Once these issue crop up, the mind will start thinking of different scenarios
  •   Who will support us mentally in case of more serious health issues morally and in some case monetarily!
  •   Will the money saved last longer or we will last longer?
  •   What will happen to my assets after me?
  • What happens to me if my spouse goes before me? It is historically proven that women handle spouse’s death much better than men.
  •   Who do I talk with as I am feeling down or maybe depressed. Every time a doctor is not the solution and maybe not needed!
  •   Who do I take advice on family matters?
  •   What do I do the whole day? Facebook, TV and WhatsApp can’t be your partners all the time.
  •   I don’t like to read or write, what should I do?
  • There will be many more such points, issues, doubts and apprehensions will crop up. The beauty is we don’t know for how long we have to handle these issues.
  • Do I down size or move to old people’s homes?

How to handle such situations and issues?

First and foremost is to group the issues that we are likely to face.

1.       Physical and Mental Health       

2.       Financial matters

3.       Family matters

4.       Specific situational matters which can be combination of various things.

5.       Legal issues

6.       Travel and enjoyment related points.

There can be many many more points but these can always be grouped and sub grouped.

Here is what we could do.

·       Create small group of friends, 4 to 6 in numbers, if possible living close by. This group should be such that you can share with this group anything and everything. The reason for living close by is reaching them should be physically easy.

·       We all are part of different groups of friends these days helped by technology. FB and WhatsApp has made it easy to be in touch with different groups, alumni associations and so on. Out of the various groups, decide which group gives you the most comfort, it could be school group, college group, office group or colony group. This one group should be your parent group. One should look for homogeneity in the group because diverse group will have people with diverse requirements.

·       It is not necessary that for above mentioned issues, you have always to go to a professional e.g. for minor feeling down or depressed, just talking to friends may resolve issues.

·       In the group, there are always people who are smart in many areas and are practical too! Form a core group or groups of say three people with whom ALL group members can discuss their problems or issues and try to thrash them out. Once the system stabilizes keep total faith because group members have no commercial interests in any interactions and they are here to help you.

·       There should be group mail available for the group and core group will lead and guide friends during issues on a regular basis!

To conclude this basic thought process, form  groups, have core sub group of smart people who will guide to find and create resolutions. Keep this process going on daily basis, or at least weekly basis, if it is possible! Group should meet physically at least once in a month.

To conclude, it is most important to be very practical, be away from emotions which will drain you. In our literature we have enough sob stories of “Sham chi Aai” and Shravan Bal! ( These according to me are highly emotional sob stories! Jury is still out on that opinion) These will drain you daily and keep you miserable. This is not your individual situation but is happening universally! So stay away from Shravan Bal and negative thinking individuals to convert Vanaprsthashram into a stage which can be made enjoyable!

Wanderer’s blog!

Introspection & Retrospection were two words which have been on mind since yesterday for no specific reason! So my mind was not sure if I wanted to retrospect or introspect! Finally retrospection won the race! I am not going in to retrospection in the real sense but suddenly I remembered so many different peoples  whom I have met in my life and I thought let me share my impression and experiences about them with you. Also I am sharing my memories about a small restaurant. All this wandering is from the era in late 50’s when I was in school and late 60’s, when I entered college. Along with this there are some funny incidents also from that period! Let me tell you that they were normal people like all of us. My memories are more police related as my father was a police officer and our eco system was police eco system!

First and foremost is me! I distinctly remember that when I was born, exactly 68 years back this day, I cried loudly but others smiled! This was my first confusion! Here is a guy so helplessly crying, and all the other folks are smiling and laughing! This is where my confusion started. It is not yet resolved.

Jokes apart the first real thing I remember as a kid when we were in a place called Ahmednagar where my father was posted. Our home in Nagar was a bungalow. We had some sort of ceremony on a ground where I got some gift. (I was too young)  Well later I was told that there was a race for kids where everyone was given gifts! After this we were in Bombay where I was in a municipal school in fourth grade, on Lamington road! For some celebration we were making merry! I sang a song “Mana Janab ne pukara nahi” and a friend Gopal who was dancing to the tune! Good old days with no inhibitions!

Later we moved to stay in an area called Dhobitalao in Mumbai. It was a five story building used as police officer’s quarters. We were on ground floor and a very dark chap with strong mustaches and blood shot eyes, used to come our neighboring officer. He never went inside their home but the officer and that guy would keep on talking in a very low voice, at their door, as if they were discussing something very sinister. They did discuss something sinister, the guys’ name contrary to his personality was Vishnu, that should have been Ravan! As I grew older I came to know that he was a police informer and used to mix with all criminal gangs!

Then there was a guy called Mario. He was smart looking and loved to play cricket with us kids. He was 23/24 years of age. He was fun to be with; it never came to our mind what he must be doing in real life. Once he did not come for ¾ days. When he came, we asked him why didn’t he come to play? Then we came to know that he was doing post-graduation in Medicine and had emergency duties for 72 hours straight! Wow!

I remember one really funny incident. We had a friend Ashok. While in 11th grade he had started smoking. Once he was walking on the road near our home, smoking. There was a ninety degree turn around a building from main road to a lane. The design of the building was such that there was a porch in that building through which one could see across the lane. Through that porch his father had seen him smoking. While Ashok rounded the corner and saw his father, he hid his cigarette covering it with his palm. When they reached each other his father coolly said hi and pressed his palm with a very interesting result which we saw the next day!

Then we had one Mr. Misquita. He was also a police officer. He was a very good billiards player and our police club had three billiards tables. Once the then World billiard champion Wilson Jones had come for an exhibition game in the police club. He showed us so many tricks! Then he and Misquita played a serious match. We thought that Jones will give him a whipping! But Misquita really gave him a run for his money and Jones just scraped by!

We had a teacher called Mr. Mayekar in Ram Mohan school in Girgaum. He was always perfectly dressed. A dhoti, a coat and neatly combed hair with stylish glasses. He was our English teacher. He has definitely guided me  towards good English but he was not very sure what I would do in life as I was a very mischievous character. Sometimes he would call me to his home and teach me some important aspects of grammar just out of love! He used to be Professor of French in Wilson College in Mumbai but had a stammering problem. This issue forced him to leave college and join our school. We were lucky!

Our neighboring police officer was a very aggressive officer. He was six foot plus and really dashing. Once when I was in college, I was in the area where he was posted. I ventured into his office for a cup of tea. We were chatting and in came one smallish guy held by two policemen. My uncle said, Pramod give me a few minutes. He asked that man where he was on so and so date at so and so time. The criminal claimed that that he was traveling. This questioning was done 2/3 times with same reply. My uncle got up, he just hit the guy a massive punch in his stomach. That guy was thrown ten feet and was lying down in pain. The two policemen who were holding him went and started kicking him and pulled him up on his feet. All the time cursing him, “how the hell could he lie down in front of the boss!” By this time my uncle was back in the seat and enjoying his cuppa! I was also shaken and asked him what will be the result of the hit! He said that in next ten minutes the criminal will confess to everything.

I could go and on and on! But I will share one last experience of a restaurant, a very small one at that. It was called Kulkarni’s and was bang opposite my school Ram Mohan, In Girgaum. People would go there to eat various Maharashtrian dishes but my favorite was Potato bhaji and Birdyachi usal. Birdi is a pulse very favorite of Konkan region! Generally these dishes are eaten at home with Maharashtrian bread or poli. But in this restaurants people would come to savour these dishes, without poli, and there is used to be a big queue sometimes! Years back, I went back to check but Kulkarni’s now does not exist!

I have to share one secret! How did we have money to go to the restaurant, alone in those days? Well two ways, one was to tell at home that due to rush, we could not get the bus to go home, and we walked home, saving the money! Second method was to pinch a coin from home when no one was looking! Well we move on in life  but our mind starts wandering in old memories, as we grow older! Some equally interesting stuff later! Cheers! 

 

 

 

Bring Back the Woman Power!

Bring back the woman power!

I read a story about a couple who were entering a garden after their lunch, in Malaysia. They were Caucasians. Vendors at the gate offered to sell them peanuts. Couple said they were full, thank you! But the vendor said that the peanuts were for monkeys that are there in the Garden. Couple bought a few pouches. They started their stroll and saw a group of monkeys. When they saw the monkeys, they were happy that they can feed peanuts. When the group was about ten feet away, a monkey jumped very swiftly, pinched a couple of pouches from them. Couple was a bit scared, woman had a minor scratch on her hand. Man was disgusted, felt offended and was boiling. How can the monkey pinch the peanuts from their hands which they had bought for monkeys? It was so much against the normal way of life of the couple!

We humans are so naïve that we think only about orderly way of life, especially westerners, they generally have a much more disciplined society and such occurrences are almost unheard of, except for one minor detail. The other party was a monkey. I am 100% sure that even in Asian countries humans will be as disciplined as in western hemisphere. Our friend wanted to take revenge, he was mentally prepared and they moved further. Another ten minutes, they saw another group of monkeys. Monkeys in that Garden must be used to pinching from humans. Twenty feet away from the group, our friend was ready and as soon the monkey started towards him, he started shouting loudly and made some menacing actions, bared his teeth. Monkey was surprised, he stopped, almost gave him a smile and walked away. Our friend was elated and almost made a victory dance! His primal instincts still intact and kicking.

He simply forgot that this is nature. The law of nature is fight or flight! In the first case our friend used the flight mode and in second case the monkey. It was no big deal for monkey, I am sure. It is us humans who have created many rules, laws of social behavior, egos and have gone away from nature. I am sure that in second case monkey was not fuming and upset like our friend. If opponent is strong, take a step back. Simple! Humans are engrossed in their own lives, as they are today, we obviously don’t remember how life was about 100 centuries back i.e. 10000 years ago. How was the human society then? What made it change over a period and took shape of “organized” society with rules and regulations and discipline!

In those times and before, there was no agriculture, no organized living. Humans were a nomadic, foraging animals like other species. Things really started to change when human race started agriculture. For agriculture humans had to stay at one place, sow the seeds and cultivate the crop. This led to the concept of ownership. So and so land belongs to person A, land on the other side of that hill belongs to person B and so on. Then ownership became single, co ownership, joint ownership and different ways of handling the situation.

Before this period everything was shared. A group of people would live together but groups were quite scattered. Hunt, gather berries, firewood and later cook, share and eat food together. At night, they probably slept in a huddle for the safety of the group, safety from other species not humans. Man and woman shared ALL the responsibilities. Except of course bearing the child! There was no concept of family, only man and woman. They had different sex partners, I am sure there must have been some laws for this but since nobody owned anything, there was no need to prove paternity of the child born. Child was owned by the mother. I am sure the group of humans in those days had predominantly matriarchal rules. All of us read stories that even today in certain tribal areas in deep jungles, women give birth to the child, clean the things and start moving out to collect food and wood for fire! An unheard of concept in modern world.

In fact woman must have been considered stronger than man for her additional ability to bear children. Agriculture and ownership changed all these concepts on head! People started defining boundaries, then everything was “mine”. Lake, canal, hut, crop, wife, children. Probably this was the beginning of nuclear family as we know today. Pre farming, it was a group of humans sharing everything equally including food and relationships between man and woman. I am sure there must have been occasional fights but survival was more important hence probably they adopted to “shared” way of life. During all these changes one important but unfortunate development took place; woman’s importance in the society reduced, she was confined to home, child bearing and cooking.

We get used to things so quickly and fast that we forget things were quite different, only some years back. Look at internet, where was internet 20 years back? Can we do without it? Look at cars, in last 100 plus years our method of personal transportation has changed so much that we can’t imagine that everybody used to travel in carts! Look at the global travel, advent of Jet planes has totally changed the concept of our travel. With supersonic jets we can be from London to New York in three hours. The list will go on and on!

Coming to my original story, we are all so much used to be away from nature that we are not able to understand the laws of nature. We go for a picnic in hills but we are so busy clicking photos that we forget why we have gone there. We forget so much that sometimes people die while clicking selfies instead of enjoying nature! Once while I was in Boston with my son, I saw some homes which were 150 years old. I was just wondering how they must been living in those times without proper insulation and heating in Boston winter! Today we go to Mumbai in the afternoon and attend to something and come back in the evening to Pune, thanks to modern cars and expressway. But even 25 years back it would take hours!

Let us not forget the laws of nature where men and women were not only considered equal but they were equal. 10000 years in our earth’s history is equivalent of day before yesterday! The changes made day before yesterday can always be modified or changed. This recent thought process came by forming new laws, new rules and norms.  During last fifty years the correction in giving importance to improving status of women is happening. My thinking is that if a woman could handle herself 10000 years back in primitive conditions, she will be able to do much better in today’s environs and backing of the society. Making some positive rules to help women in handling the way their bodies are made, their tough times during child bearing is a must by the society which has made rules to ensure that they remained home bound! Women need empathy not sympathy! So let’s go back to situation of 10000 years ago where women were equal, with advantages of 21st century! I won’t be surprised if we read every day, in coming years,  that a woman climbed the Mount Everest, which anyway she does in different fields in spite of obstacles!