Age with an Open Mind III

After writing the blog “Age with an Open Mind”, I got an idea that I should write a couple of more blogs on the similar theme. The first blog was mainly about “keeping the brain active and sharp”. In second one I have written about “keeping our body active, sharp and flexible.” In the third & final blog in the series I will write about “Keeping our mind active, positive and interactive.”

Human personality is complex and is made up of Brain, Body and Mind! These three aspects are most important but there could be many more aspects which will be subsets of these three aspects. Brain and Body are physical but Mind can be described as a “Virtual Entity” in today’s language. We describe people as “Oh! He/ She is a simple soul”. Or sometimes we say “Oh! He is a tough guy!” All these adjectives like Simple, Tough describe the personality of humans. Simple soul could be six foot tall and a tough guy could be five foot tall! Human personality is a combination these three parameters.

How does the combination affect us? In young age, we are so busy with many things that we don’t care or have time to think about these aspects, we neglect our body but our brain is active. As we age our mind starts behaving differently as we have more time on hand. Our body and brain start aging. There is a saying in Marathi language मन चिंती ते वैरी न चिंती“! It means that bad thoughts can veer so much in our mind, even our worst enemy will never think about us that way.

This is the reason we should think of “minding” our mind. Personality of a human being is formed by what one sees from outside and also what is not seen from outside. In my first two blogs I have written about the “seen” part. If your brain is sharp it reflects in your demeanor. If your body is aging as it should, this is also seen from your fitness levels but your mind’s status may not be “seen” as some of us are good actors and we hide the mind’s aging process to some extent. As and when we retire, relevance of various activities changes for you as well as for others. When you don’t go to office every day, our perspective of time changes. You need to handle time on hand. During working phase, you don’t get time for many things but when you retire, there is plenty of time for everything plus you are left with more than excess time on hand. This needs to be planned well.

In brain and body blogs we discussed their management during retirement. Similarly let us define how to manage our mind.

1.       First and foremost we must understand that we will have more than enough time and others may not have time for you. Get used to it!

2.       Keep connect with people of all age groups.

3.       Try and keep connect keep connect with younger people, try and understand modern things, otherwise connect becomes difficult

4.       Cell phone and internet technologies are part of our day to day life, adapt to them.

5.       Never let the discussion veer towards “in our times”- your time is gone, nobody is interested in it!

6.       By all means join groups where people are your age but be selective to ensure that most are broadminded and positive.

7.       Travel and visit places where you could not go during working days, due to lack of time.

8.       Take up a hobby like reading, painting, writing, bird watching and what have you!

9.       Your day must be planned in such a way that you always have something to look forward to.

10.   There are many other things that can be done but it depends on individuals.

11.       Try and remain financially independent and keep your finances under your control. Your assets are for your children “after both of you go and not before”. Don’t become emotional about it. This gives peace to your mind!

12.       Keep your financial documents properly managed, that gives you peace in mind!

These are some of the things that are going to keep your mind active and positive. Remaining positive and interested in your retired life is going to help you remain healthier. At this age some or the other physical issues are bound to be around. But recovering from ailments is going to be easier by positivity of mind. At this stage there will be deaths of spouse, siblings, friends, close ones, neighbours. Handling deaths is an aspect which needs to be learnt. Share your thoughts with others, don’t just clam up. Your mind comes into picture in such situations. Positive and strong mind is going to help you. Friends, try to keep your mind as busy as you were during your working days. This may not involve physical activity but mental activities.  

God has given us gift of human body and brain. Body is bound to age naturally, but mind is not the God’s gift. It is in our hands to keep it young! If we take special efforts to keep our mind positive, active and agile, quality of our retired life will be much better! Mind is OUR business!

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Father Time

This is the description of father time on Wikipedia page: Father Time is usually depicted as an elderly bearded man with wings, dressed in a robe and carrying a scythe and an hourglass or other timekeeping device (which represents time’s constant one-way movement, and more generally and abstractly, entropy). This image derives from several sources, including the Grim Reaper and the misattribution of Cronus (not Chronos) as the Greek Titan of human time, reaping and calendars, or the Lord of Time.

fathertime

Typical statement that we make casually about Time is “for next xx hours/days I am just going to laze around and do nothing”. This of course is essential to recharge our batteries or sometimes plain necessity if we are tired. But I feel that in this beautiful world Time is the only finite thing that we own and it is depleting every second. The beauty is that we do not know how much time we have and so we do not have time to waste! In this scenario I feel that we should handle time more carefully.

We treat time very casually and most of the time we feel that Time can be bartered with money. If you are a doctor or an engineer or a scientist, you should be spending more time doing things in which you have the expertise and interest. We do not learn to delegate things and waste our time in doing mundane things. I will give some examples under Indian scenario. I know of people who go and buy their milk every day, though at a very nominal fee milkman delivers milk at home. Laundry man comes home to take clothes for ironing but our friends will go to his shop for the same. What is the value addition?  When things can be bought online we go to shops and purchase items there. If we are buying branded stuff it is easier and faster to do it online. It is ok to go to malls/shops if you want to have fun time and eat out. When cars are to be given for servicing, dealers provide facility for pick up and dropping the car back, at a nominal fee.  Most don’t do it and waste their time as dealerships are far. We had a friend in Canada a real expert in engineering field; once we went to his house and he was irritated that he could not do his research as he was forced to perform mundane things at home, which were very expensive to outsource. What I have said is about better time management but there are more important things than that.

We all have our dreams. But in drudgery of day of day things, we put our dreams on back burner. Dreams may be small, they may be big but dreams are dreams! This is where the finite Time comes into picture. We forget this finite element of the Time and always think that we will follow our dreams later. Does that later ever come? We need to learn to find golden mean within the parameters of work, making money, life’s other responsibilities.

Dreams can be from eating a meal at a fancy restaurant in New York, to laze on beaches in Australia. It could be visiting Taj Mahal or going to the Moon. But dream practically. Your dream may be to climb Mount Everest! Age and physical fitness come into picture. Again never follow the dictum, “My friend is doing so let me try”! Never do that because circumstances are different. One important aspect is that we should think about your spouse’s dreams too! You may be able to withstand a drive through Saharan desert in summer but your spouse may not be fit enough!

All said and done, don’t postpone your dream to tomorrow. Because tomorrow may be too late. I am not saying that you will not be around tomorrow but circumstances can be different tomorrow. Some are lucky to have ideal situations almost till their finite Time is over but many are not that lucky. There can be variety of reasons that will not let you follow your dreams.

Here is a story which I read on the net.

 A lady who was a painter at heart was travelling with her boy-friend. They met a man whose vehicle had broken down. When they were helping the man, the co-traveler told them his story. Traveler had a lifelong dream to make an overland trip across and around the whole of the Australian outback.  Husband & wife both worked jobs they didn’t like, saving all the money that they could and foregoing holidays each year, all the while planning their perfect journey. ‘The holiday of a lifetime’ he called it.

Finally the day arrived.  They had the best equipment money could buy and a pair of first class tickets. On the flight, they had sipped champagne, as giddy as children.

The problems had started the very first night.  They had driven out and pitched their ‘top of the line’ tent.  But his wife’s arthritis had instantly flared up, and the humidity didn’t agree with his lungs, so sleep would not come.  From there on things had only gotten worse.  So much worse that by the end of the first month his wife had given up on their dream, changed her ticket and flew back home without him.  He had stubbornly vowed to complete the trip but admitted to himself that he was having second thoughts about it. 

It had come on fast, like a rush of cold water on the lady, as they were driving away and watching the traveler recede downcast, in their rear view mirror; her heart had broken a little and, in that exact moment, she’d decided to give painter within her (the thing that she had always secretly wanted to do but had always put off until ‘later’) a real shot. After the lady reached her destination, she chucked everything and just decided to become a full time painter!

Every decision is a trade-off.  What you choose to focus on will determine the very shape your life and your character; for good or for ill.

Everything, everything comes down to time.

So come now, do not delay!

It is much later than you think.

 

Yes both are right but sometimes one is more right!

Internet has made things so easy, some of the best things are made available with ease, and the list includes, photos, videos, articles, caricatures and so on. I came across a caricature a few days back and it set my thought process rolling. The god’s gift to us humans, the life, becomes quite complex because every situation has different interpretations, a way of looking at it. The death is the only situation in our lives which has no two sides. A dead person is always a dead person!

rightorwrong

This caricature is epitome of complications that exists in our world. The number six viewed from the other side is nine. This is what happens in all situations. When both sides understand the meaning of caricature above, conflicts are avoided or both sides will react in a different way. But in most cases people don’t want to understand or don’t understand that there are two sides to any coin, which leads to conflicts, fights, murders and even wars! But different approach to the same event can lead to great evolutions.

First human society came into being around 10000 BC. Earth has been in existence for millions of years before. With evolution of society, there came a time when humans started communicating, remembering, in general thinking like we do today. That is when the ownership concept started evolving. Ownership of crops, land, home and later wives! Before this period, disputes must have been only about eating stuff available as nobody owned anything. Eating was the only thing that was required for survival. Humans must have behaved mostly like animals but the evolution of brain changed things rapidly.

Why do two persons look at the same thing in a different way? The example of six and nine defines this different outlook perfectly. What could be the possible reasons for this different outlook? Ego? Superiority complex? Narrow thought process? Not able to grasp the situation? Out of box thinking!

Example of narrow thought process is exemplified in a short story. A shoe sales man is sent to an island with no instructions. After two days of survey he sends a message to headquarters, “People don’t wear any type of footwear, don’t send any shoes!” He is called back and another shoe salesman is sent. The new salesman sends a message to headquarters, “Nobody wears any footwear, send two containers of shoes immediately!” Same situation but different interpretation and approach.

Classic example of “Out of Box thinking”. A few days back Mukesh Ambani made a statement that H1 visa issue in the US, for Indian IT sector, is a boon for India. He felt that many talented people who would move to the US will be forced to stay back in India and will work for betterment of India. In India we always think that our large population comes in the way of our growth. Mukesh Ambani has made one more statement recently. He said the “Data is new Oil”; he said with India’s 1.2 billion population there is a huge data available. It is for the next generation of entrepreneurs to use data in to create processes, products and systems which will benefit huge population.

My personal opinion is that this is a good opportunity for Indian IT sector to go up the value chain instead of remaining as glorified contractors! With such a huge pool of talent, cash rich companies, none of the big ones even thought about going up the value chain. “Narrow thought process”? Companies run by so called bean counters? Is profit the only motive?

In good old license raj days there were some very successful companies that made Nylon fibres. One of the businessman in Pune thought that he will also make the same products and replicate what the other companies did. License raj ended, good businessmen maneuvered out of the situation but our friend in Pune was “Not able to grasp” the situation. In a few years, from Rs.300/ crores they had to close down!

In the war with India before 1971, Pakistan used to boast that they can easily defeat India with superior fighter planes F16. But Indian fighter pilots with their Gnats had superior skills and we know the result! “Ego & Superiority Complex?”

In examples mentioned above things can be done in  different ways but as mentioned in the title “one is more right”! By the way to avoid 6 & 9 or M & W situation there is a method of writing, to avoid the confusion! 6 & 9 or M &W. Cheers, always think for the betterment of whatever you are doing and try to be more right!

My voting rights were on hold, almost…..

I and Jaya have been voting for last 45 years. This morning we got our morning stuff out of the way quickly and reached the voting station just at the starting time, 7.30 am! Of course we did not go in the finery to celebrate the dance of democracy, but enthusiasm had not diminished in 45 years. The election was for Pune Municipal Corporation and was a local one.

There were many web sites where one could search details like name, polling booths and so on, but both our names were missing from all lists. We tried different spellings but nothing worked. This was a couple of days back. We assumed that our names were “struck off”! Then suddenly I received an SMS which included details about Jaya and my brother Shrikant, who lives in the US! This increased our hopes and I thought maybe my name is also there somewhere.

Surprisingly this time, arrangement for locating ones name and polling booth were quite rudimentary. Normally, we would get detailed slips on the day before voting from different political parties. We just needed to show the slips to locate the booth. But this year there were no slips! I thought India has gone up the value chain, no paper slips only SMS’s and online search. I somehow had an inkling that my name may be missing after all. We managed to locate our booth and went inside. There was nobody with laptops, searching etc. We presumed that our names would be in the same booth. And Lo! Jaya’s name was there and mine was not found. We came out after Jaya voted and went to a Govt official who had a list of names separated alphabetically. We could not find my name. The beauty is that names of ALL our neighbours from the Condo were seen only my name was not found.

While driving back home, I felt sad and it was getting converted into a “Pall of Gloom”! How can this happen? All these years I have voted, there is no change in our official address, there was no change in anything. How can my name suddenly vanish? Human nature is such that cancer, heart attack, accidents and “name vanishing from voter’s list” happen to someone else to be read in the newspaper! I just could not believe that it happened to me! I went home and later went to my office. Luckily my polling center is very close to my office. When we discussed my missing name in the office, everybody sympathized but sympathies don’t bring the name back in the voter’s list. Then my man Friday Pankaj took all the details from me and said, “Don’t worry! I will recheck.” In half an hour he came back with my details. My name was in another booth. There were six booths with approximately 800 people to vote at each booth. But Pankaj met one of the candidates and he made sure that my name was properly checked, manually and successfully! Was I happy!

Now thoughts come to my mind, why do these things happen? Why simple search on websites is not efficient? How can names actually get deleted? Or do they really get deleted? My perseverance helped me locating the name. But all people may not be that keen. If the name is not found, people just let go, in fact I also let go but Pankaj helped me vote, which is my basic democratic right! From work point of view creating and updating the lists is not rocket science but we read stories of a lot of errors. Why it cannot be stopped? That my name was not found on any search sites indicates that their data is not properly updated or their search criteria are wrong! Along with improving searching, volunteers should also be sitting with Laptops on the Election Day to make life easy for people! But for that to happen, data must be proper. Another thing that could be done is the vendors who process the data for Govt agencies should be penalized if names go missing. Probably they are given medals today! Financial punishment is a great way of increasing efficiency and correctness! May be they should also be offered bonuses, for zero errors!

One thing I have learnt today, if your name is not there don’t give up! Make an effort, maybe the name is misplaced and not deleted. Voting is our basic right, we don’t know how lucky we are that we live in a democracy! Check about life in non-democratic countries! We only look at chaos in India but we must also start looking at the vibrancy of democracy seen everywhere. We may not like the candidates in our area, we may not like the politicians but we must not forget the power of democracy! Democracy allows Modi to become Prime Minister and it also allow Trump to become President! Long live democracy!

 

 

 

Age with an Open Mind II

After writing the blog “Age with an Open Mind”, I got an idea that I should write a couple of more blogs on the similar theme. The first blog was mainly about “keeping the brain active and sharp”. In second one I am writing about “keeping our body active, sharp and flexible.”

I am a non-medical person and not an expert in anything related to medicine or yoga or whatever that can keep your body in good condition. Basic theory of aging is equally true for our body, same as our brain. I will suggest things more out of common sense but please take advice of professionals before taking up some new physical activity. We must not try to attempt something because someone else is doing it.

My suggestions are for people above 60 but they are really more useful if you are 65 plus. No two bodies are same even though they may look same. Our bodies take a lot of flogging during the life time. The body condition post retirement age (In India it is generally 60) depends on our nature of work during active days, sedentary or active life style during working days. How much stress was there during working days? Did you smoke or drink a lot during active period? Did you eat a lot of food during those times that is considered not healthy? Did you have any major illness during younger days?

Maybe a good idea will be to start with a discussion with your doctor. I am sure most of us do yearly check -ups now but if you are not doing it, any time is a good time to start. I know of people who had sudden deaths and later we come to know that they never got themselves checked. A friend told me “I have never got myself checked and will never get it done”. Period! In such cases there can be many scenarios. Nothing will happen till your last day or one may have sudden fatal event! Likelihood of in between scenarios is more. An event may cause drastic reduction in quality of life. So still you don’t want to get checked. Ego? or ….

Easiest way to exercise is

1.       To walk; if you have never walked for exercise, increase distance and speed gradually. In winter do some warm ups before you walk. Walking should be preferably brisk, of course definition of brisk is different for individuals. But sweating is the criteria that decides the correctness. It should not be a stroll in the park!

2.       Bending, stretching, push-ups or Surya Namskar will help the body becoming stronger and flexible.

3.       Add to this do some weight training! Now you must be wondering if I am telling you to follow your younger day routines. If you were doing 10/15 kgs dumbbells in younger days, go for 2/3/5 kgs. This is basically to strengthen your arms. As we age, our body strength reduces. Look at the practical side. When you travel you need to carry your bags, put your bags in the compartments above you. With weak arms you will find it tough to do so!

4.       Another thing we must remember is to be a little careful while walking and try to ensure that you don’t fall. A fall in old age can lead to fractures in waist area and those can be tricky to handle. A simple way to avoid chances of the falls is to improve balance. Stand on one leg for as much time as possible, up to 30 seconds is good enough! Spread hands to keep balance. Next, do so on the other leg. Generally you will find that timing for one of the legs is less than on the other leg. Bring both legs to same level of timing and more the better. This improved balance helps in avoiding falls! I saw an example of a friend who is not fit; a minor misstep and he just buckled in front me but luckily there was  no major injury.

5.       Most important is to accept if some event occurs and go with the flow. If situation demands that you use walking sticks, use it with an open mind, don’t feel embarrassed. We have been using glasses for quite some time, are we embarrassed? If you need to use hearing aids, please use them. Now a days, very tiny top quality hearing aids are available. If you keep your hair slightly long, falling on your ears, people may not notice your hearing aid!

6.       Yoga is well known for its benefits, deep breathing and yoga asana are too well known to be explained by me.

These are different ways I have suggested but everyone must find his own path. We need to find out the right combination of various exercises and all should be covered not in a day but over a week. Also make changes in the exercise routine, otherwise exercise sometimes becomes boring. Try to achieve minimum five days of exercising a week. Lead happy, healthy and quality life. Cheers and try to less of bubbly cheers!

 

Age with an open mind

As we grow in age, we age! We tend to make mistakes in basic things as we age, we forget things. This is the natural aging process. I thought I should write my experience of communications I had received from various friends, during coordination for the Alumni association celebration, recently. I am just sharing these communications as an experience and the aim is not to criticize anybody or not is it to ridicule anybody. I will also share how I try to overcome errors that I make and methods that can be adopted.

Firstly, I will start with myself. I had requested everybody to pay the contribution by bank transfer etc. My mistake was that I added one additional zero in the account number. During first transfer itself, there was an error message received by a friend. I checked and informed everybody of my error. Of course since this was a public event I needed to correct myself but same things can happen in your private transactions too. Last week, I transferred money against a credit card bill; inadvertently I transferred a rather large sum of money. The moment I did it, I realized my mistake. First thing I did was to share my error with my wife and then I started the process of getting the money back. In a weeks’ time the reversal took place.  First lesson is to accept your error. Then the chances of improving are more. How to avoid such errors in future? Some suggestions about bank transactions.

1. Try and connect payments to ECS where possible

2. I have been using bank transfer method for quite some time, but after this error now I write down the amounts to be transferred on a piece of paper; when the amount to be transferred is punched, I recheck with the amount noted on the paper, make a tick mark if correct and then proceed. I hope this method will work.

3 Another way of avoiding errors in bank transfers, is to start from the app which shows your bill; through that app try to access your bank account directly. For payment the exact bill amount will be selected and error will not happen. My bank unfortunately does not allow this, hence the error.

Now about my friends

I must have sent at least ten communications on email/whatsapp group, sharing the same details and giving updates. Here are some samples of communications.

Pramod when is the celebration? I always give the details again.

Pramod how much should I pay? Details were all there in the communication but I have always communicated the individual figures when asked.

In the communication I had clearly written not to deposit cash as banks charge cash handling charges these days. One person still paid cash.

Another friend jokingly told me that somebody will write and ask you, “What is my name?”

Somebody asked me the directions though I had shared them a few times but I shared the details again.

Is it just laziness or the slip of mind? These are some of the very small pointers but they indicate some slippage taking place due to aging. My suggestion is for those who have retired fully, they should try and ensure that such issues don’t crop up or at least try to delay them. Keeping ones brain sharp is going to be the key to better quality of life, in this phase of our lives.

My suggestion is to try and analyze why certain slippages occur. It’s a simple thing like not putting the lights off when you go to another room. Or it could be, not shutting the drawers or cupboard doors completely. These small issues do not really make any difference in life but they can be indicative of beginning of aging process. The more we analyze them and correct them (first thing of course is to accept our error!) we may be able to delay the aging process and improve quality of life. Please realize that once we start slipping in mind then we may forget our credit cards, cheque books, passports somewhere. This can really lead to some major troubles in life. Another thing I have realized is that when I meet friends, I tend to get excited. Nothing wrong in that but with a little slippage already round the corner, I tend to forget some things in excitement.

One suggestion for those who travel regularly by flights. There is a sequence of things from checking in, to immigration (during international travel) to security – putting your cell phone/laptops in the right place, removing jackets, keeping passports and tickets back in place, to putting cabin baggage in place. Do not attempt to do things at the pace, that you were following say fifteen years back. These things do matter because of aging. Our facilities slow down a bit, so there could be confusion in handling the sequence.

Life is a little more complex than it was 25 years back. Though you may have retired, there could be many “to do” things. Use technology to keep track. Cell phone calendar, is the best way of keeping track. In olden days, I remember that my grand-father would go to sleep at 7.30 pm in summer and 7 pm or earlier in winter. That was in the period when we were in college in 60’s. Now a days we go out of the house after these timings to meet friends, to have dinner, for marriages, birthdays and so on.  There are chances that we might forget things on flights, buses, taxis and so on. We have to create our own individual method to ensure that these things don’t happen

Friends if we become a little more practical, a little more open in accepting our errors due to aging, we can really enjoy this golden period of our lives. Be a little realistic and age with least possible stress! Age beautifully like Waheeda Rehman!

Waheeda Rehman (1)