Half Century 50!!

Today I am on the threshold of becoming fifty! Those who know me personally must be wondering what has happened to this guy! He is much older but claims to be fifty, is this the start of dementia? Has this fellow gone senile? Some will say “must go and meet this chap before he stops recognizing people”. Some may call Jaya to find out how things are in general at our end and specifically about my health. She will, of course, confidently tell that all is well except for my little quirks, irritable behaviour which is increasing. My carcinoma stuff is currently well within background! So far so good, all will get more confused.

As I go down the memory lane, I remember many things that I achieved. My thoughts go to five years back but suddenly I remember my childhood for a couple of years in Ahmednagar. Sometimes I remember my growing up in Mumbai in Dhobi Talao area. Other times I think of my favourite things. One thing is for sure I also remember the writer’s block that I used to get; but as I am nearing fifty that phase seems to be tapering  off. Why my thoughts are veering today, I don’t know. Now I suddenly remember my departed friend from Chaupati who died when we were in school. I then remember some incident from Sunshine Villas where we normally live. Now I feel like thanking my mother, why did I suddenly remember her! Then I am reminded of a friend of mine who has settled in the US. Oh my god! Suddenly I am thinking of Osama, then again I have bit of block but I overcome it when I remember my favourite things.

My mind goes in different direction and I think of Anna Hazare. Now my mind switches to people behaviour and Aaron Shwartz comes to mind. What is happening to me? Am I really going crazy? How is it possible because according some of the people close to me, I am already crazy! Now I have a mental block, I don’t think I will be able to complete this blog. I am thinking of some incident which is forty years old, I am worried about state of our nation. I suddenly remember experience shared by a friend of mine. Now I am thinking about human nature and then back to the state of the nation. Am I awake or I am dreaming? Why  my dreams are changing so swiftly on varied subjects.

My mind switches to industry, then Parijataka flowers, to my good old friend Suhas Urf Suya Kulkarni. Then to life and death, whatsapp/facebook, remember an old song Que Sera Sera, thinks of death, gets irritated by media, shocked by major blunder by Volkswagen. I feel like sharing my illness with my friends and how we overcame the stress as a family.

Friends don’t worry, most of the adjectives mentioned above will stick to me anyway. But dementia is not what is around. When I was talking of turning 50, it is the number of blogs that I could churn out over last five years. It seems that the consistency is improving and now I don’t have to worry about writer’s block, hopefully. All the crazy thought processes from my mind that I mentioned were the “subjects” on which I wrote 49 blogs!

Now this is the 50th! Happy 50th blog to me! May many more come from my pen er Laptop. It will be a great joy to me if I am able to continue with the current consistency. I also hope that those who have been encouraging me, to write more will keep on doing so. Thanks Jaya, Sachin, Deepti, Sonya, Shashi and many more. Cheers! Sonya hope this event will encourage you to start writing consistently! Go for it man!

WhatsApp FB…

Due to recent surge in communication revolution, things are really changing rapidly. We thought Face Book has made a great revolution in the way we communicate with each other; by the time we started assimilating these changes, in came WhatsApp which again is a game changer! Now what next? Only time will tell. But these rapid changes have kept us gasping to catch up, “how to use them”. Some of issues that come up are funny and others are of serious nature.

Humans started communicating with each other by spoken language, signal language when there was a language barrier. See how technology is changing this. Now on Skype, I can talk to someone in Spain in English, he can opt to listen to Spanish translation, speak in Spanish and I can hear in English, no sign language needed!! Then there were smoke signals and Shivaji Maharaj declaring safe passage with Gun shots in Pavan Khind. Then there were written message sent through personal messengers or even Doves, which probably were prelude to courier services. Who imagined that courier business will suddenly get a big boost with the advent of Flipkarts & Amazons of this world, though most of it is used for non-message related activity?

Human race has evolved mannerisms and etiquettes, when we speak with each other. Since spoken word is being used for a long time, mannerisms and etiquettes have matured. With these new mediums, we are struggling for correct mannerisms and etiquettes & gestures (though gestures are replaced by Smylies.) Let us first look at Facebook. Facebook calls every contact we have as “friend”. Probably we really start thinking that all are our real life friends. I will give you an example. Once while traveling back from Delhi to Pune, I met a gentleman on the flight. We had a couple of minutes chat, exchanged our business cards and then said goodbye on landing. Next day I received a friend request from him. I accepted it and that is about it. Once in a year maybe we just comment on each other’s posts. Both he and I are very clear that we don’t get into something personal. How our interaction in the flight would have gone forward pre FB days. It would have probably ended after the goodbyes at the end of flight. So FB is definitely very useful if used correctly. But we are yet to define what is incorrect and what is correct.

Many people share their personal things on Facebook like family photographs, their new car, a life changing event and also step by step journey details if they are travelling. I am sitting in so and so business lounge on so and so airport. It’s a “goaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal” comment has a lot of relevance, according to some people. Why does a person think that this information is relevant to his “friends”? Will even his brother be interested in knowing, in which lounge he is sitting in! Frankly no. Then why do people share? Is it just because a tool is available? What is correct I don’t know! An example of a family who are fiercely private. They have a two year old child. They never put anything private on FB including photos. A friend of theirs put this family’s photo along with child’s photo on FB, caption my friend so and so with their daughter! Our friend was furious. What right does one have to share someone else’s private photograph? This according to me is definitely not correct.

WhatsApp is another ballgame. In Facebook whatever you do it is about you. Maybe some comments on someone’s postings, some such interaction. One to one interaction on WhatsApp is like FB messenger. But in WhatsApp, groups are sprouting at a very high rate. It is these groups that are tough to negotiate. Mannerisms and etiquettes for a group are very difficult to decide. A group is formed for a specific purpose, hopefully. There are close family groups, there are extended family groups, friends group, school friends group, college friends group, professional college friends group, office friends group, office group for business purpose and so on.

Close family group could be first family living in different parts of the world. They share almost everything which is fine but there is no point in someone during his/her day time sending a “what a lovely morning” message to the group. Others in different time zone are sleeping and the cell light will blink with the message!! When I joined a recently formed extended family group, on first couple of days there were “good morning” India or England or USA or whatever messages followed by “good night” blah blah messages. There were 20 such messages on first day and kept on increasing; and there are about 35/40 members in the group. I suggested if such messages are sent every day, by all, then there will be 70/80 clutter messages daily! I was unanimously declared guilty and freedom of speech was invoked! Then in all groups, length of some messages are equal to a couple written pages. Have a heart! We are using cell phone for WhatsApp and not a laptop!

Most interesting are the friends group. “Friends” means freedom and freedom means, do anything say anything! This appears to be the definition of friends on WhatsApp. Why do friends form a group? To keep in touch, to share small things as well as big things, pull each other’s legs and having a good time in general. But it seems that many people think that there is a license to write or share anything and everything, amongst friends. When the group size becomes large, things become a bit tricky. Best thing to do in such a case, is to avoid controversial subjects like religion, politics and maybe porn. Some people are not comfortable to even receive porn messages (maybe publicly) I know a person who sends a couple of photographs of Sunrise, with timings, every day! This person was hospitalized for some time and kept on sending a few Selfies, with Nurses, every day, once he got well! A person sends a new religious thought, about 20 lines, every day. This makes person like me very uncomfortable as I am not a religious person. Another thing observed in young generation, in Selfies people make crooked or funny faces, what can be the reason? Some people manage to drown you with deluge of “forwards”, a new term. Maybe WhatsApp gives some sort of certificate to people per group, who send maximum messages per day! I am amazed with people who send such forwards to groups; in most cases these “forwards” are not even read by those who send them! Reasons given for not reading before sending can be “Did not have time to read before forwarding!!”  Forwarding becomes an addiction to some people. This is an ever increasing list of issues which are sometime funny and sometime not so funny!

We also see proliferation of hoax messages and messages about new medical treatments. Why even highly educated people fall for such messages! Then there are people who have time to create a message say on Bajairao Mastani film song. (Which then of course goes into forward mode) People create messages which are “For Modi or Against Modi”! How do they find time to create such long messages is what I always wonder.

Friends why not give a basic thought to the actions we take. Is your personal information worth sharing with the whole world? Sometimes people share stage by stage details of their family travels. It is known that anything in soft format can be hacked. Hackers would know that you are travelling and can go and rob your homes. Your personal photos especially of kids can lead to some ransom issues. Unknown people can judge your life style and take their call. I am not over reacting but such cases have happened. Some of the actions may not have such nasty consequences but why bore people with something they are not interested in. Why share something which even you have not read. Why bore people in groups with information about some very specific subject of your interest e g “Ants behaviour in summer” or some such thing. Find people who are interested in Ants behaviour and discuss with them. But then don’t share “how to prepare snake delicacies” in that same group!! I have observed that these people are not in large numbers in any group. Groups over a period decide on their rules and admins try to apply them; least one could do is not to fight with the admin when he/she tries to regulate things! So long before I sign off let me share with you “Differences in behaviour of white mice, in Siberia, in summer and winter”; oh sorry I am in the wrong group!

Why Blog!

We have a college group magazine, which I edit. During e mail exchange on our group, a friend of ours Suresh, a very regular contributor to the magazine, wrote a mail saying that he is very frustrated that hardly anybody responds to his articles! The friend had his basic education in a small town and from there he came to Pune, now lives in Mumbai and has travelled all over the world. His articles are about his journey of a small town guy to the real world. I really like the contents of what he writes, as my experience in life is very different from his, as I lived mostly in Mumbai, Pune area.

Now the question why do we write? I feel that we write because we get the urge to put our thoughts on paper and with today’s technology share it with the world. In olden days, life was tough for amateurs maybe in olden days they just wrote their diaries! If you were a professional writer then, you would write and get the stuff published through publishers. Now many amateurs like Suresh and me are attempting to write something. When I read Suresh’s mail, I immediately felt the urge to write about his frustrations!! Something just clicked my mind and said that I should write.

When I write, some-times it takes me 15 days to come up with something  sensible,till I am satisfied; at other times I am done in a couple of hours. The thoughts just keep on getting formulated and my fingers type the thoughts out. Initially my thought stream is in one direction then it changes a bit. But one thing for sure it never turns 180 degrees!! My thoughts move more like a meandering river. Again it also depends on the subject. On some subjects I can visualize the end point of the blog that I am planning, in the initial planning phase itself and other times I start from no end visualized status, to the 4/5 different ends!

When I start writing on a subject, suddenly some old relevant references start blinking in my mind, telling me “hey guy, include me in todays blog”!! How this happens I do not know, it just happens. Years back my wife Jaya and I had gone to an educational institution near Chandigarh. After lunch, their Vice Chancellor requested Jaya to distribute certificates at a workshop, on Energy related subject. Part of the request was to also give a five minute guidance speech to the participants! Jaya quickly told the VC, Pramod is a good speaker, so she will only distribute the certificates! In my area of work, I am as far away from Energy as the Sun is in the Solar system. I spoke for a couple of minutes and suddenly my mind recalled something from my brains library! I asked the audience if they knew about the concept of good energy and bad energy; all looked a bit confused. I told them the concept. I told them that we should always be after good energy and try to be away from bad energy. I said heaven is up there where good energy resides and hell is down there where bad energy resides. I could see confusion level going up a couple of notches! Then I said, energy from heaven is what we get from Wind, the Sun, and Ocean waves and the resources are non-depleting. Energy from hell is from Coal, Oil, and Gas and these resources deplete! Heavens energy is zero polluting while hell energy is THE polluting energy! So it should be our endeavour to go after good energy! After this I said thank you to all for being patient in listening to me. The audience immediately erupted clapping. The guys came and started asking me questions on energy of all the things! They thought I was lying that I was not an energy expert.

So folks probably it’s all instantaneous, spontaneous or whatever you want to call. Someone may have better vocabulary than other person, someone may have more life experiences than other person but still that other person could turn out to be a better blogger. Why is it so? It is probably because someone is better at articulating things, then there is passion! You cannot define passion but you just have it. So blogging is an art form and some are lucky to have it! Bloggers blog to satisfy their urge to write, but the readers may not have a strong an urge to read or appreciate!

Coming back to my friend Suresh’s feelings, I am of course very happy when someone says my blog is good, I am pensive when there is criticism and I am ok when there are no comments! The reason is people are busy, people are not articulate enough to comment (to comment is also writing something, isn’t it) or they just don’t comment. Should someone stop writing just because there is less or no appreciation? A blogger should consider oneself an artist and just enjoy the creativity!! Suresh keep your chin up and keep it coming.

Que Sera Sera

Que Sera Sera is a fifties song by Jay Livingston & Ray Evans, sung by the actress Doris Day. A few lines from the song went as below.

Que Sera, Sera

Whatever will be, will be

The future is not ours, to see,

Que Sera, Sera

Whatever will be, will be

In Hindi movies of old, there was an actor called Asit Sen. His famous by-line used to be जब जब जो जो होना है, तब तब सोसो होता हैं. It roughly got translated to Que Sera, Sera, Whatever will be, will be! When Nandu, my dear friend, recently wrote an e mail to me about health episode in his life, somehow these lines came to my mind. On one side, I was happy to see that my recent blog “Life’s Speed breakers” helped my friend Nandu to open out and talk about his health episode. On the other hand, I shuddered to think what would have happened if Nandu’s misjudgement had gone awfully wrong! He was really on thin Ice! Or was he humming Que Sera Sera!!

Nandu of ages back, from our Elphinstone days and Nandu of today are hardly different in their attitude. Ever smiling, articulate, smart, bubbling and what have you! Nandu is all that you can look for in a human being! As the life’s quirks go, we were not in touch for a long time. But last year when we spoke on phone, it was as if we were just continuing from our previous evening’s conversation. Nandu lives a retired life in Sydney where he made his career in a large MNC, in IT field. He has retired from his “work” life but he is a person who will never retire from life! His retirement will only be the Almighty’s call! On his last call also he might tell Him, “Boss, can you give me a few minutes, wanted to share something with Panya” (or any of his many friends!)

In my blog shttps://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2015/10/18/lifes-speedbreakers , I had shared with all how to handle life’s tough calls with speed, alacrity and positivity. Nandu’s episode, a major health issue, is typical “How not to handle tough episodes”!! He tried to avoid telling his family about his health condition, travelled during the episode, played various sports and tried to delay things as much as possible. Now why did Nandu do this? His only thoughts at that time were, his in-laws should not get unduly worried and his daughter Swati’s exams should not be disturbed! Or was it Que Sera Sera, whatever is going to happen, is going to happen anyway! Friends you will be surprised to read the chronology of Nandu’s health events, I was not only surprised but shocked. The moment his issue was known, there should have been a non bailable warrant to arrest my dear friend!

Here it goes!

  1. Nandu had chest pain while playing squash, he refused an ambulance (and the hospital) drove home
  2. He silenced his 13 year old son, who was with him, went home and went out again for cultural activity. (His son was smarter and took God’s promise from Nandu, of a Doctor’s visit the next day!)
  3. To keep his promise to his son, Nandu visited the doctor’s office on the way to work (It was not about Nandu’s health but was about the promise given to Sandeep!!) after giving blood went to office.
  4. His blood tests showed severe heart attack. (Of course our friend was busy in meetings)
    • The ever fit Nandu was playing
      • Cricket Match on Sunday
      • Badminton on Monday
      • Tennis Wednesday
      • Cricket practice on Saturday
      • Squash on Sunday
      • Was in meetings whole day on which heart attack was confirmed!
    • Both Physicians and Pathologists were Nandu’s friends; on confirmation they tried to locate our missing friend and left message at home that he should be tied to bed as soon as he comes home.
    • At 6 pm Nandu arrives home driving his car; Anand is already there to move him to hospital.
    • Of course Nandu refused to take Angiogram and waited for ten days more after a lot convincing by another friend Dr. Avi.
    • Results of course as expected
      • One artery 100% blocked & needed plumbing.
    • Now the beautiful part (Nandu how this world will run without you!!!)
      • Nandu was totally convinced that if he did not go to the office, the MNC will collapse immediately.
      • So he went to office and drove for his own angioplasty at noon!
      • Angioplasty was done the next day afternoon.
      • But in the evening, his artery in groin burst open and blood was spewing all over. Doctors struggled for about 15 minutes to control it and finally succeeded. Next morning, he was released and went home on his own (this was Friday). On Monday, he had a meeting with an important Client in Brisbane – where he went for the day & flew back in the evening.
      • See what I mean! The fear of MNC closing down made him do all this! He never wanted to do it! Nandu, am I right?
      • All this happened in 1992
  5. Circa 2001 Frame 2 same movie!
    • During this period his tennis and badminton was going on but now he started getting tired a lot! And lo! Nandu decided to go for stress test and angiogram immediately.
      • During Angiogram, on the table itself, the cardiologist told him that Nandu was in deep trouble and all three main arteries were 95+ % blocked. The Doctor was shocked to know how Nandu played badminton till the previous day.  Triple bypass was conducted the next day that was Nov 2001

Situations were serious both the times, but the first time was, to use very mild expression, Nandu took decisions on his own which I am sure he will never do again and he is not proud of. Second time he was a little wiser and I am sure his family and friends, his eco system had taken away decision making authority away from Nandu!

In such situations the question that always comes to my mind is why?  Why? And Why? Naturally Nandu also does not have an easy explanation about why he took such decisions. His thoughts that he did not want his In-laws to get anxious & protect his daughter from stress during her exam time, were not a very convincing answers. Nandu, how did you not think about the plight of your wife Anuradha!

Why a smart, articulate person like Nandu did take such decisions? Need of the hour was to act fast and he had a terrific eco system of his family, friends like Anand, Dr. Avi and best of the infrastructure available. Why does the mind waiver? Did Nandu at that point, not think of what could have happened in the worst case scenario? When I discussed with him recently, he said that he was never worried about his own death but was definitely worried how his family will suffer in such an event! Does it mean we that humans are fallible and take decisions like we have never taken before or maybe we will never take in future?  Every professional always decides anything, taking pros and cons of the situation into consideration. First time around there were not many pros, in hiding the event. But Nandu did hide.

A thought just came my mind, do accidents happen this way? Does the mind waiver a bit at the last moment? Is it a momentary lapse? That split second waiver or lapse can cause serious damage!


This video gives the result of split second lapse caused by 0ur wavering mind! Nandu my friend, your catch was dropped by the destiny and you were lucky! I know, now you are doing justice to the second opportunity you got! Thanks for sharing your experience openly so that others will learn from it, hopefully!!

(if the video does not work by clicking, please copy and paste it in your browser)