My Oxford Experience 1!

The following is not a blog, but it is a story written by me.  

Oxford1

I am currently attending an online course offered by Oxford University, and I thought why not share my first attempt at storytelling during the course, with friends. It is a course about creative writing. I am learning a lot. I have never learnt literature, formally, so I took this opportunity to join the course though I claim to have learned engineering formally! 🙂🙂 

The exercise was about picking up a story from the list of five stories given. I chose Romeo and Juliet. In case you are unaware, “Romeo and Juliet” is a classic tragic romance written by William Shakespeare. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romeo_and_Juliet 

The idea was that we had to keep the main characters the same, and change the genre (a style or category of art, music, or literature.) of the story as per our choice. There were many more things in this exercise. I chose to change the genre to thriller. I wrote the story accordingly. I thought you might like it.  Hence, I am sharing it with you. 

I request those of you who are interested in giving me a score can give it on a scale of zero to ten! 10 for Excellent and Zero for horrible. It will encourage me either way because a score of zero will force me to improve drastically; higher scores will naturally make me happy and push me to write more. You may send the score on individually on WhatsApp or by email.  

It’s the image of the status of my mind before I wrote the small story!

Oxford2

The story was to be written and explained in the format Act 1 and TP 1 (TP means turning point) 

Romeo and Juliet 

 ACT1  

Juliet is lying on a beach in the Bahamas, with the skimpiest of the bikinis. The shades and the chilled beer crate invited stares. While applying her sunscreen lotion, she saw Romeo walking towards her. 

Romeo, with his wellmuscled and toned body, was lazily walking on the beach in his sandals, with no care in this world. He spread his towel close to Juliet, not even looking at her. He asked Juliet, “May I borrow a beer bottle from you?” She pouts and says, “Why not?” 

 TP1 

Juliet had been instructed by her KGB bosses to eliminate Romeo! Romeo had his plan cleared from his MI 6 bosses to woo and dump Juliet in the steep ravine on his way back to his resort. After a few beers, Juliet suggested, “Shall we move to my airconditioned room?” Romeo simply picked her up and said, “No, my room, and let’s go fast!” 

ACT2 

Juliet coos, “Let me take quick shower and wear some clothes!” She wanted to take her syringe to be used at the right moment to finish her job! Romeo also needed to have his tools of the trade to reach the goal.  

Romeo and Juliet kiss deeply, and  Romeo walked to his Ferrari! Romeo’s thoughts veered a bit, and he thought that he must, unfortunately, “waste” a stunning woman.  

Juliet had her shower and came to the car. She was stunned to see how dapper Romeo looked. She was momentarily sad that Romeo would be no more after some time! 

TP2 

Juliet suggested that they have coconut water on the way, to begin her act; she had arrangements with coconut vendor for her “mischief”. Romeo suggested that they stopover at the wine shop instead, on the way, where he had arranged for the doctored wine. 

Juliet said, outsmarting Romeo, “Romeo, I hate wines! We can have Champagne at the resort!” 

ACT3 

They reached the resort and went to Romeo’s room, both planning their next act. Both slowly undressed and embraced each other. Both were planning their next move.  

As a final alternative, Juliet decided to use the syringe in her purse for the job. Romeo decided to use his raw power to complete his assignment.  

TP3 

They were halfway through the love act and were looking for the final opportunity to move stealthily. The moment was reached as Juliet went to the washroom and got her syringe from the purse; Romeo waited near the door for her to come out and choke her.  

 At that moment, the movie director shouted, “Cut”, great shot!  Let’s pack up for the day! 

 Romeo and Juliet embrace each other. They are, after all, reallife lovers!  

 

 

 

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Writing, thinking or conceptualising?

It’s not about myself or my blogging. I have always been trying to understand the meaning of the writing. Writing is not the process of writing with your pen or pencil or typing on your device. Even from childhood, when we teach the children to use the paper or drawing material kids scribble, they write what they want. But it is their way of thinking or conceptualising. We feel that the kids are doing something meaningless, but it is how they visualise things, and they are trying to reproduce them. Once as a child, Priya, my daughter painted an apple blue. When she was told that apples are never blue, she said, “I feel that the apples are blue!”  

But the fact remains that if someone had told me that I would be writing a blog every alternate day, I would have laughed. I used to consider myself very smart when I was a student and felt that there was no need to write down anything. After all, I thought that I was the most intelligent guy around, so my brain was capable of storing every detail! 

But now I realise that my thinking from student life was the folly of the youthWriting is the result of many processes. I feel that everyone has a writer in him or her! In olden dayswriting something involved stack of papers or a notebook, plus writing material and not to forget erasers and sharpeners. Now a cell phone or laptop is good enough- I prefer a laptopPublishing what you write is getting easier and easier day by day! Here I am only talked of tools of the trade but not about how the writing results into an essay, novel, poem or an article this I had never thought into details. 

The practice definitely makes one a reasonably good writer over a period. It is not that you wake up one day and start writing poems after poems. Another vital thing is self-doubtSelf-doubt can be an ally. It is because it serves as an indicator of aspiration. It reflects love, love of something we dream of doing, and desire, desire to do it. If you find yourself asking yourself (and your friends), “Am I a writer? Am I an artist?” chances are you are.  

If you have a doubt and discuss with someone or ask someone, do I think I can write a good travelogue omy European tour? Such thoughts indicate that you have an inkling to write but have doubts or don’t feel confident to do it. In such cases, you start putting down things that come to mind on whatever medium you are comfortable with. A friend of mine still prefers to write on paper. He shares the images of what he writes on digital media.  

Anyone who struggles with writing (or any creative pursuit) knows that when it doesn’t feel right, it’s not something that you can force. And if you do, you end up with a blank slate covered in inadequate words. 

But what most people don’t realise is that the resistance to writing is not unlike the resistance to other skills. And what is the antidote for this? Practice. Exposure. Iteration. Practice makes any seemingly impossible task familiar. You can learn to write. 

The most important aspect of writing is to realise that there are no metrics that can define somebody as a writer. When somebody boasts that he or she is a great writer, he is not telling the truth. It is quite straight forward, every time you write a page on your own, you are a writer, if you play the guitar on your own, you are a musician. Each time you encourage your colleagues to do something, you are a leader. A writer need not be writing an article a day, or a novel every year. It is the act of doing it yourself can define you as a writer.  

Don’t forget that writing is just sharing your thoughts with others; you do it with others while chatting or on the phone anyway. As writer, you share your thoughts in writingWriting itself is not difficult, but it is the thought behind it that is difficult. Writing is thinking, and that is why it is so difficult. It not only thinking that is important but thinking correctly is important.  

Writing is essentially a robust tool that enables us to clarify and communicate our thoughts. While writing, you are forcing yourself to think critically and exercise parts of your brain that are typically on auto-pilot.  Einstein had once said, If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” In attempting to formulate a written piece, you are going through the exercise of transforming vague ideas into clarified concepts externally, but also internally. 

Correct thinking is critical in life. In my software business, I have observed many problems were reported as tricky and difficult to resolve. But what I used to do is to ask the person resolving the problem to create a problem statement. I found that in more than 95% of the cases, people could not write the problem statement correctly. When you are not able to explain the problem correctly, how can resolution be easy? 

Writing and thinking are two peas in great pod. Critical thinking leads to good writing, which leads to clearer thinking, and so on. By improving your writing, you are also improving your ability to think and vice versa. So then the question becomes, how does one activate this process? 

In some rare instances, one may be able to write about a subject or an event. But it may be something like a tribute or writing about a specific event or an achievement by individuals or organisations. But it will be more like a newspaper piece 

But one thing is definite, it is not an easy thing to write consistently, but keeping your grey matter active all the time will help. One can write consistently about a subject by writing series of articles or take a difficult path of writing on different subjects. Reading and researching consistently is important to activate grey matter.

Friends, I have observed one of our WhatsApp group. People have suddenly started expressing themselves in short bursts. Let me assure you that there is a writer in everyone, hidden from everybody, including yourself. Let it come out. It is not a writer hidden, but a painter or poet may also be hiddenPhotographer? Maybe. When I have spoken to a few friends they are worried that people may not appreciate them, people may not like what they create, but don’t forget that creation itself is a beautiful idea, give it chance and start doing it.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Montreal musings, day to day life IV!

I had expected that day to day musings III would be my last of the musings in the series. But so many new things came up, and many of them were unexpected to me. Hence I am going ahead with this blog.  

I met one family yesterday evening in the garden where Rhea practices with her cycle and the couples son also practices. So Nikhil and Priya know the parents. We were introduced yesterday with them, and we chatted for some time. He asked me a question. He said, “Which is that small country between India and Iran, not Pakistan.” I said, “ I don’t know such a country.” Then he suddenly said, “Oh! It’s Kashmir!” I explained to him the whole situation briefly then he realised the issue. Incidentally, he is a Jewish person, and we know their views about certain people. He and his wife are both educated, but their knowledge about our part of the world is imperfect. They know about India’s progress in general as they meet a lot of smart Indians these days in Canada!  

I came to know one more information. Thanksgiving day is celebrated in the US and Canada on different days. In Canada, it will be celebrated this year on 14th October, and in the US it will be celebrated on 28th November. Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday celebrated on various dates in Canada, the United StatesIt began as a day of giving thanks and sacrifice for the blessing of the harvest and of the preceding year.  The concept is the same as we have in India, where we celebrate Onam, Lohri, Makar Sankranti, and so on. While checking on the net why these are celebrated on different days, there was a cryptic description on one Canadian site, “We don’t have to follow the US in everything.” 

Similarly, now shops are full of items for Halloween festival. 

Halloween or Hallowe’en (a contraction of Hallows’ Even or Hallows’ Evening), is also known aAllhalloween. All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, is a celebration observed in several countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day.  

It begins the three-day observance of  Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed.  

Halloween is celebrated by attending Halloween costume parties, trick or treating by children. The children go to every home in the neighbourhood and ask the question trick or treat? They are given chocolates, cookies and such treats. 

Carving pumpkins into the jack-o’-lanterns, lighting the bonfires, apple bobbing, divination games, playing pranks, visiting haunted attractions, telling scary stories, as well as watching horror films are some of the other activities. In many parts of the world, the Christian religious observances of All Hallows’ Eve, including attending church services and lighting candles on the graves of the dead, remain popular, although elsewhere it is a more commercial and secular celebration. Some Christians historically abstained from meat on All Hallows’ Eve, a tradition reflected in the eating of certain vegetarian foods on this vigil day, including apples, potato pancakes, and soul cakes.  

We have similar time in Hindus what we call Pitru Paksha when we remember the dead. But in our country, it is not a celebration but is considered inauspicious. No new investments are made during those two weeks. 

We get surprising experiences once in a while. Today Jaya and I went to a famous French Bakery in the central area of Montreal. While making payments, I was told that they do not accept credit cards; they take only debit cards and cash! Luckily we had some Canadian Dollars in my wallet at that moment. It was reasonably large establishment. While on the subject of payment retired people here too, like in the US, prefer to pay by cash and not by cards. Weather conditions change a lot during a week, but Jaya and I always find it cold. The main reason being, on sunny day, temperature could be around 10 Deg C, but in the shade, we feel cold because most of the times it is windy.  

Last week Jaya and I went out for lunch in an Iranian joint. We always try different foods. While trying to explain the dishes, the owner asked me, “Where are you from?” I said, “We are from India.” He straight away shifted to Hindi. He said that he had lived around Delhi for ten years. After that, he said, “Don’t worry, I will serve you excellent food which you will like.” Food was good. Then he also served us sweet Iranian Kolache!. It looked like biscuit but was stuffed with Dates and some other dry fruits. Some Iranian sweets look like Maharashtrian Diwali sweet Anarase. 

Another surprise was the restaurant was an Iranian addaBy the time we finished our food, about 15 Iranians had formed a group and were chatting and eating and having tea! In the background, TV was running an Iranian channelMy friend Veerendra told me that Canada has a large number of people from different nations, spread all over Canada, living peacefully.  

One pleasant surprise is the quality of vegetables. Priya was saying that these are generally produced in QuebecWater content in all this produce is on the higher side than what we get back in Pune. But Cauli Flower, Cabbage, Capsicum and all such vegetables are very tasty much better even than what we get in and around Delhi! Tastes of most of this stuff are much tastier than what I have generally tasted in the US! Of course, varieties are available in the US are amazing. The fad of organic food has not caught up in Canada; it seems. 

Because we are in Quebec, European culture is more prevalent. So are social norms! In our lane, neighbours are quite friendly with each other, and life, in general, appears to be less hectic! Since winters are harsh for longtime people, try to continue outside activities until the snowfall begins.   

WhatsApp Image 2019-10-10 at 19.37.18

One unique facility we saw which can be there only in rich countries. There is an area in the garden where people bring their dogs, and they can release the leash; dogs are allowed to do whatever they want except of course, poo poo! (It has to be cleaned by the owner!)

WhatsApp Image 2019-10-12 at 16.11.59

One strange thing. I thought Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola, Starbucks are known by the same never all over the world. Their menus may change to suit the local pallet. But the above photo is of KFC whose Quebec name is PFK (Poulet Frit Kentucky). Even in France, it is known by the name KFC! Strange are the ways of this world!  Similarly, I am told that road signs in France say, “STOP” but in Quebec, they are written as “Arrêt”!

I could not resist displaying these two beauties!

Au revoir et faites attention jusqu'à notre prochaine réunion! 
Probably they say bye and take care till we meet again in France ! 

 

 

Aarey, Quo Vadis?

Quo Vadis?  It is a Latin phrase meaning “Where are you going?”, or more precisely, “Whither goest thou?” First, let me get the facts aside, then we will discuss it. Every metro system needs a yard to keep the trains, do repairs and maintenance, and to clean, etc. It is a technical requirement of the system. Currently, there is a significant dispute created by the so-called environmentalists! Aarey Colony has 450 thousand trees in the overall area, out of which the 2600 trees need to be cut for constructing the facility. I am not an expert in this field, but it is elementary maths that a minuscule number of trees are required to be chopped. Let the experts claim whatever they want to say, but it is no disaster.

If we consider the experts first, there will be some who are really knowledgeable persons; some have pseudo-knowledge. When there is chaos, politicians and celebrities are bound to jump in, especially as the Maharashtra state elections are only two weeks away. Politicians are supposed to be experts in every field anyway! Out of this group of people, some stay in new condos, and others live in older condos. My question to those living new condos is, was no tree cut to build the new condos? Did you complain to authorities and go to the courts to stop such projects? I am confident that in all new condos built surrounding the area of Aarey, more than 2600 trees must have been cut! Where were you, sir, at that time?

When a project of the importance like Metro, where costs are very high, every delay increases the cost of the project. All such projects are conceptualised by a large team of experts from every field, including environment experts. I am aware of the concept as it has been explained to me by my classmate Shashikant Limaye, who is a Mentor for the Pune Metro project. Then there are the green tribunal and the forest department. Permissions of all concerned departments are taken before environmental actions are taken! The beauty of the democracy (or the worst part?) is that in spite of following all the procedures, protestors can still go to court. These people went to various courts, and Mumbai high court finally gave a blanket clearance for cutting the trees.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/aarey-forest-tree-cut-felling-metro-bombay-high-court-pils-protest-1606393-2019-10-04

While providing this verdict, Bombay High Court also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000/ on Shiv Sena Corporator Yashwant Jadhav, who had filed a plea against the tree authority’s approval to cut over 2,500 trees for the Metro project. Jadhav was a member of the tree authority.

Various questions came to my mind while reading about this episode! Do these “knowledgeable” people collectively understand the whole affair better? Some of them are experts in environmental aspects, but do they have the grasp of the overall project? The question is not only about the grasping, but there are many other aspects which you should know. I am giving the information provided by the BMC in the court about Carbon footprint.

Terracon aims to be India’s leading ecological solutions & natural resource management strategic consultancy firm. Its strengths include its technical knowledge and capabilities in the domain of ecology, botany, agriculture, and environmental science, as well as its deep understanding of today’s sustainability issues and the ability to design forward-thinking sustainability strategies.

http://www.terraconindia.com/

The Terracon report was submitted to the BMC recently. It says, “Each metro trip will result in a reduction of 324 kg of carbon dioxide.

One hundred ninety-seven fully loaded metro trips will suffice to offset the annual increase in carbon emission of 63,953 kg from the removal of 2185 trees, which are proposed to be cut.”

It further states, “The Metro III operations would cover the annual carbon sequestration by 2702 trees within four days of operations and the lifetime carbon sequestration of 2702 trees in 80 days of operations.”

The people protesting against the chopping of trees are aware of these studies as these reports were submitted in the court! That is why my title, “Quo Vadis?” What do you want to achieve by the adamance? As soon as the Mumbai court gave the clearance, within a couple of days, trees must have been cut by the Metro team. Still, the protestors have now gone back to appeal to the Supreme Court. The court case is about the felling of trees not stopping the shed work. Now that most of the trees are chopped, why do you want to continue the fight? The usual issues of, we know the best and the Ego come into play. All government authorities, agencies, Environmental Companies and the whole list of experts are ignorant according to these people.

We are not even discussing the convenience of Mumbai’s travelling people, who have currently no choice but to be in the current train compartments as if they are packed Sardines. There is a proven statistic over the years that ten people die every day in railway accidents due to ever so increasing crowding in Mumbai trains. Three thousand six hundred fifty people dying every year are less important than the twenty-six hundred trees.

Years back, there was a similar issue in Pune about road widening. The Industry doyen S L Kirloskar had asked a simple question, “Are trees for us or we are for trees?”

NalStop1

Pune traffic during rush hours.

A similar problem is lingering Pune about a road on a hill, which will cause a tremendous change in pollution, for 20 years. Environmentalists are creating difficulties one after another. The courts have been very stringent about tree felling activity in general. They ensure that if ten trees are felled, anywhere between 60 to a hundred new ones are planted. Courts also make sure that these agencies ensure and report that at least 90% of the newly planted trees are surviving.  Pune Corporation agreed to plant ten times the number of trees chopped; the “anti-development” people make use of the slow court system to ensure that the project will get delayed as much as is possible. Hundreds of thousands of vehicles that need not come to an area called Nal Stop are forced to come there, causing traffic snarls, jams and massive pollution in that particular area. Only God knows what their agenda is! There are many cities or towns on and in the hills. San Fransisco is the prime example of a major city on the hills.

Such groups exist all over the world. Some are really doing good work but most cause nuisance and create trouble for projects like Metros, which are Carbon “positive.” The human race has created many systems during the last hundred years that have made our lives much more comfortable. But later on, humans understood that during this development phase, some significant mistakes had been made, for example, global warming, plastics, and so on. Governments of the world (except it seems the US Govt) have accepted that there is a problem. Nations are correcting these errors, but the process has just started.

In many cases, solutions are also known. For example, in one-time-use plastic items, large investments have been made; so these investors are naturally going to resist. Even they want to go away from such products; but it will take some time to achieve the goals. Human race especially should know! A human takes nine months to grow in the mother’s womb before it is born. Once the corrective action process takes momentum things will move fast.

These anti-development groups are doing one vital work. They ensure that others do not forget that ecological mistakes need to be corrected as fast as possible. But they should choose the right causes. Mumbai Metro is a Carbon positive project and is going to help millions of people like you and me due to reduced pollution, and ease of travel. Most important is that people in Mumbai can travel in Metro like humans and not cattle!

A few friends were having a cup of tea in Mumbai near Aarey! All were smoking! One of them says while releasing the smoke, “This tree felling is bad, it will add to CO2 in Mumbai!”

Friends, please protest, reminding everybody of the ecological devastation of the earth is definitely essential; but be practical and become “a support group for Ecologically friendly and positive projects”! Get blessings of Mumbai train travellers and not their curses!

70 plus 500 is equal to Nil!

Dassarra1

I don’t know if this is a blog or a retrospection! The meaning of the title is a bit odd. But I completed 70 th year on 7th October, and this is my 500th blog on the  8 th October, Dussehera, one of the significant festivals of Hindus! So, I can say that these two events, or maybe milestones, were reached on two consecutive days! But the meaning of the title is that I am resetting both figures 70 and 500 to zero. It is going to be the new beginning of a phase in my life, the length of which I do not know!  

What will resetting 70 achieve? What will resetting 500 achieve? Honestly, I feel a little embarrassed to mention the blog number when I publish one. But I do not know how to keep track of these numbers. There is no target; there is nothing to prove! I have been a reasonable engineer but never a writer! Someone asked me what my objective of publishing the blogs is? There is no objective or a target, and there is simply passion. What created this passion is very difficult to say.  

I started creating some technical documents during my software business. The need for these documents was to have full clarity and avoid ambiguity. As the projects began becoming larger and customers started becoming more demanding, the need for clarity went up and up! It helped me to write what I wanted to say with clarity; this is helping me while writing the blogs. Some friends tell me that I don’t write precisely like an engineer but argue from both sides. When I write the blog, I am not proving anything or anyone right or wrong. Hence, I write more than one viewpoints. The idea is to delve on a thought or an event or a situation. Get an overall feel and then go deeper into the subject. Some blogs need me to research on the net. Some issues are memories from my life; others are experiences that acquired over a period or got them while on the go!  

But the idea is to start writing as thoughts are gathered for a blog in my mindMy friend Jayprakash has divided my blogs into two types, impulsive and compulsive! He has hit the bull’s eye!  I have given below one example each of Impulsive and Compulsive blogs.

Impulsive blog 

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/06/08/brave-art/ 

Compulsive blog 

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/08/13/article-370-common-mans-view/ 

Impulsive blogs are visualised by me like setting the destination on Google maps. I know the beginning, the middle and the end at the start itself. These are written almost in one shot. Whereas for the compulsive blogs, I generally know the beginning and have a vague end in mind. I am not sure what I am going to writeIt can be compared with the olden way of looking for an address. I stop, I think and then move forward. It is like getting down from the car and asking the autorickshaw chap or pan walla for the direction to reach my destinationBut I reach my destination missing a turn or two.  

To me, the most important part is the end productThe result of my satisfaction can be achieved by editing and fine-tuning before I publish; it is the toughest aspect of blog writingI also use an English checking software called Grammarly, which is of great help! For images, quotes or diagrams, Google baba is always there to help! I think, in the end, it is your comments, suggestions, discussions that help me get better. I know there is still enormous scope for improvement. So here I declare my target! I have no targetbut I am going to do my best to improve to the best of my abilities!  

Now about the resetting of the number 70! Many of my friends and classmates have been reaching this landmark (if it can be called landmark) in 2019 as they were born in 1949. When I ask them about their feelings, I am mostly getting pleasant responses. Some have gone through major tragedies; some have suffered health issues. In some cases, health problems continue. In other cases, the event was a onetime health event. Friends have said thGat they mostly feel as if they are 15/20 years younger! I am sure such thoughts come to mind when life has treated you generally well. But a friend suffered a major tragedy in her young age, but I was happy to note that she was also quite enthusiastic about life in general. But someone haat this age faced the death of his 45-year-old son in an accident. The usual adage of time helps to heal all the wounds may not work in tragedies of such nature!  

Resetting the counter at the age of 70 opens up many vistas! My blog published yesterday discusses the benefits of the golden period of our life! 

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/10/07/the-beauty-of-the-golden-period/ 

It will open many possibilities in life, and you will wonder why you did not do certain things in life! Have a glass of wine if you have never done it before– it is no big deal. World over, the people do enjoy a drink or two! सोमरस  has always been discussed in our mythological storiesMention of  सोमरस can give you the moral support you want. Join some clubs and enjoy playing cards! Try and spend some time doing social work, give time for needy. There are many lonely people in this world because of many reasons. Don’t wait to create some big system which will help others. By all means, do it, but you can start with small selfhelp groups in your locality. Go to old people’s home in your neighbourhood and spend some time with these lonely people. The meaning of resetting is simply to bring back your enthusiasm to do whatever you want to doDon’t do it to prove something but do it to give satisfaction to yourself and help othersMeet friends, phone them up! Meet your cousins, they will be probably of the same age as you are 

Resetting of the number 70 is a significant phase in your life. What you plan and do after reset is going to decide the way you are going to live in the golden period of your life. It is very easy to get entangled into a rut and a sad, unpleasant mindset. I have some definite plans in my mind, which I am going to try and see if they work. We tend to become rigid in our thought process as we grow older, so I am going to attempt to become more flexible. Empathy is one more aspect which all of us have to some extent; I will try my best show more empathy towards others! I want to delete the word EGO from my dictionary today.

Some of my friends have jokingly told me that I had reached a stage where I will have to be treated by paediatricians; I will try not to be treated by any doctor as far as possible. I would instead meet them socially, with that famous glass of wine I mentioned above 

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The beauty of the golden period!

Why do humans want to live longer? The logic is, more the merrier! The thought is that the more you’ll enjoy life, you keep on living longer. By doing this, you make friends, know more people, build a network, and so on. It means you have more friends later on in life, which means you’ll enjoy life more when you’re older too. When you enjoy life, you want to live longer. It is probably too unrealistic to think of your death, especially when you are alive and healthy. 

If a question is asked to people how long would they like to live, their answers will be dependent on their attitude towards life and the age at which the question is asked. It will also be dependent on the people’s area of work. Currently, a lot of research is going on any many startups, run by young peopleto increase life expectancy in many different ways. These people must be thinking in terms of unlimited life span. Older people in the same startups may talk of increasing the life expectancy by a decade or two, more than the current average.  

When in school, we were always told that humans lived to the age of 100. But in reality, we never saw such older people. The oldest person I knew in those days was my grandfather; he died at the age of 89, but by then, my age was 25. So, I had lived some life and knew that 100 was a hypothetical age. I rarely saw people as old as my grandfather. But in those days, even seeing people in their 7th decade was a rarityOn averagemen died within a few years of retirement at the age of 58! But I remember having seen many women who were in their 7th decade, though many of them did not look healthy.  

Another myth has been that when the expectancy is 60, we start thinking that as soon as someone becomes 60, he or she dies in the next few days. In real life, it does not happen that way. But statistics is a tricky and funny science! When we calculate life expectancy, the early deaths are also consideredthe percentage of deaths during childbirth was comparatively quite high in olden timesSuch deaths reduced the average life expectancy by sizable numbers.  

I was trying to look at the real-life situation as the average life expectancy started going up, with better hygiene, better medicine; increase in the number of people world over started getting enough food, starvation did come down. Discovery of Sulpha and Penicillin avoided many deaths. In the last fifty years, computer-based drug development and imaging technology have helped the doctors save even more lives. Early cancer detection helped reduced deaths due to cancer.  

What and how we think can be compared with knowledge! A little knowledge at young age makes one arrogant, be bit more reasonable, and finally, age makes you humble. Youthful arrogance mellows into affable modesty as one grows old and it finally sublimates into self-effacing humility.  I think that the following statement is appropriate. “Now, with age, sitting against the silhouette of a setting sun, I ruminate and introspect. I look at my whole life from a deeper perspective.” 

I read one beautiful passage about old age, and I am giving it below verbatim!  

It is the beauty of the final phase of human life. One gets an altogether new perspective, looking back at the variety of events and experiences in life. Life can only be judged in its totality when it reaches its logical end. Like icing on the cake, the advanced years make one more understanding and pragmatic. During one’s youth, there’s often an irrational and romantic fascination for cutting short one’s life, which’s called “intellectual harakiri” or the “James Dean Syndrome,” after the Hollywood heart-throb, who acted in the cult movie, ‘Rebel without a cause’ and died very young. It is a passing phase. 

In the golden phase of our lives, we can look at life and death with equanimity. When you are not afraid to discuss death, including your own, you can enjoy your golden phase. Create a so-called bucket list but honestly to me it is not essential. Basically, do what you want, but never got the opportunity to do it in your busy life 

The beauty of this phase is most of your family responsibilities are over, and you can give time to whatever you want to do. I have a friend whose passion right through young days has been Hindi movie songs, starting from the year 1935 songsHe initially had records, then the tapes. Later he got these songs converted into CD’s, and now the songs are stored on one-drive! Everybody does not want to go to see the midnight sun or go to the Rocky mountains! Each has his or her own list of what they want to do.  

We have a tradition of burning Ravan (the evil) with arrows during Dassara! It is the battle between good and evil. But in this golden phase, if given a choice, this group of people will talk to Ravan and help him mend his evil ways instead of burning him.  

I am giving below two different quotes. 

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 “Youth is the most beautiful thing in this world—and what a pity that it has to be wasted on children!” It is a famous quote by George Bernard Shaw!  

 I also read recently another quote, “Wisdom is wasted on the old.” 

What do both these statements mean and how can we interpret them? Youth have new way of thinking and many ideas, but they are most of the times a bit immature, and the ideas do not get implemented properly. If older men could get such brilliant ideas, they would enjoy and execute them well.  

On the other side, older people do not get new and brilliant ideas because of their wisdom; they become overcautious in everything and are not willing to think out of the box. So wisdom gets wasted because they continue with their old ways and kill innovation. To me, this is applicable while you are working. Once you are in your golden phase, you have already acquired your wisdom, but you can think out of the box and do what you want. You can start taking risksYou can start learning to paint or sing. At most, what will happen? You will fail in both but who cares? You wanted to do something and did it! 

You know that you have little time left with you or maybe more extended time with physical difficulties that can accompany old age. Till that time have fun!  

I met a friend of mine after a long time. Both his children were married and settled. Instead of saying that his responsibilities are over, he used a Marathi term. “I have now become बेजबाबदार– irresponsible in English!” It was an absolutely hilarious way of saying that his responsibilities are now over! So become बेजबाबदार and do what you want! The golden phase is HIS gift to you!  

 

 

  

The grass is greener on the other side!

Yesterday we met one of Priya’s neighbour, while we were going out. Nikhil said, “Long time, no see!” The neighbour said that he had been very busy with work and has a busy time until it starts snowing. He has one of his businesses of cleaning sprinkling systems. I wondered what that business is. He said, “Before it starts snowing, we go to our clients. Empty the sprinkler system, then blow compressed air through the system. By doing this, all the water in the sprinkler is thrown out of the system. Cleaning is done to avoid ice formation inside the system when the system is not used in winter.” In summer, the user can start using the system again.

It put my mind working and I thought how much unaware we are of many things done in the world. Nikhil later told me that even the regular water system also needs to be checked sometimes if the flow is irregular around autumn time. The system is bled during this period to remove airlocks if any! This checking cannot be obviously done once the winter sets in.

There could be many such preventive maintenance requirements which we don’t know. Or we know, but we don’t do it. In our homes, washbasins sometimes tend to get choked after usage. There is one small device readily available in the market. How many of us keep it at home?

The next image shows a filter in the system. How many of us get it regularly cleaned? By doing self-help stuff, we can avoid emergencies.

We are unaware of so many basic things that we run into unnecessary arguments sometimes. In many cities in India, we face water shortage due to deficient rains the previous year. Water supply to homes is available for a specific period during the day. In a society where I have a condo, there was a big fight going on WhatsApp about irresponsible behaviour of people. It was said that some people just don’t care and don’t bother about checking if all taps are closed before they leave for office. When the water supply is restarted in the evening, the water is wasted as it runs; people come home late from office. I explained to them that when the water system goes fully dry, the washers and springs in flush tanks tend to get stuck or damaged. When the water is restarted, the water can continue to flow without being used unless we act on it. Then the management team understood the problem and kept water supply on round the clock, but during certain times it was kept at low pressure.

I have noticed in Montreal, the sincerity of workers. There is work going on on our road. Just now (7 am) the temperature is 2 deg C, but all of the team started work at 7 am sharp. I have not seen this happen in many of our factories also, the so-called organised sector.

Some factors affecting lives in different countries don’t even come to our mind. I know of a friend who removed the snow from his car and was about to leave. But he received a work-related call and was talking on the phone almost for an hour. He came out the second time (it was snowing all the time), removed the snow again and drove away for work. People need to keep their car running for 20 to 30 minutes in winter before moving out, especially if parked in the uncovered area.

We see and enjoy the lovely photographs from Christmas time from many places with white snow in the background. It looks beautiful in the photos, but the snow cleaning in your territory is your job. I saw some homes having staircases from outside to reach home. During the winter, the snow gathered on the stairs is your responsibility; every day you are required to clean the snow accumulated on the stairs. If someone slips because of lack of cleaning, you can be sued!

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I used to live in Model Colony in Pune, during my younger days;  when it rained heavily, a lot of water used to flow down from the hills to our area and flood it. When the rain intensity would reduce, I would go out with my son Sachin, who was 5 or 6 years old then. We would simply clean the leaves that blocked the meshes on the drainage system, and flood would be gone in five minutes. I did it a couple of years back near my office building too with the same results. Honestly, it is no big deal. But the subject came to mind due to water logging issues in Pune recently. Nowadays the drain meshes are blocked by tree leaves as well as by plastic bags. Why can’t some volunteers do this in each area once the rain intensity reduces? I am not talking about the water deluge event that occurred due to cloud burst!

I understand that because of strict traffic rules, hefty fines and their implementation, traffic is generally well-disciplined in western countries. But I have not heard of such laws for pedestrians. But why are pedestrians equally disciplined in these countries? I rarely see them breaking the rules. My granddaughter Rhea (she will be six years old soon) asked me once why don’t we follow these rules in Pune? I had no answer!

Another issue we are not aware of about winter in these areas is clothing. We know that the layers help, thermals are essential. But I was not aware that the snow jackets are designed for different temperatures. In Montreal, temperatures can go down to -35 deg C! So, jackets also have their ranges. In most cases, those designed for – 15 to – 20 deg C are enough. But when the temperature falls further, you need to wear even better ones designed for the temperature of -40 deg C!

I have understood somethings about heating systems at home here. Some are gas-based, some use water heating, and others make use of Electricity for heating. I am, of course, not aware of more details of these systems. I am not likely to understand practical difficulties in these systems as I will not be here in winter.

Each zone, each region, even in one country like India, has very different weather. So, requirements, handling of the systems will be very different from area to area. Cold countries handle temperatures from 35/40 deg C to -35 deg C. Still they manage their systems well. I will tell you about the road repairs in Montreal. It can be handled only for six to seven months in any year before the snow! But this needs a lot of planning, preparation and readiness to handle work when the slot becomes available for repairs. (Potholes in Pune and Mumbai, Delhi?)

I will share one crucial knowledge I acquired. When any area is dug for repairs of utilities like electrical cables, water lines, gas pipes the agencies have the maps ready. They dig the area using normal excavator up to a safe depth. After that, Vacuum excavators are used. They loosen the soil in that area and suck it! So, the chances of damaging any of the pipes or cables become minimal. I do not see Vacuum Excavators being used in India. Maybe they are being used, but I have not seen them!

Friends life in any part of the world has its own issues. In India, we are lucky that for most of the year we have sunlight! Weather for the most times cannot be described as harsh. But what we lack is design, planning, execution and WILL!