Dance of the Seven Veils! 

This is a peep into the complex human mind!

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Below is a poem by Oscar Wilde; reading the poem, brought out a flurry of thoughts in me.

She freed and floated on the air her arms

Above dim veils that hid her bosom’s charms…

The veils fell round her like thin coiling mists

Shot through by topaz suns and amethysts.

I read, the term of the title, when I was reading a book, where the recovery of a 22-year man was being discussed, after a major accident. When asked by the father of the man, when his son will be discharged, the doctor said, with a smile, that before his discharge he is likely to be thrown out of the hospital. Father said, looking at a beautiful nurse, “Dance of the Seven Veils”.

The “Dance of the Seven Veils” is Salome‘s dance performed before Herod II. It is an elaboration on the biblical story of the execution of John the Baptist, which refers to Salome dancing before the king, but does not give the dance a name.

This term stuck into my mind and I did a bit of research to understand the thoughts behind the same. I found the evolution of the term very interesting. Somewhere the term Dance of the Seven Veils was is attributed to Oscar Wilde, based on above poem, and he is supposedly the father of modern strip-tease dance! Wow, people’s imagination really runs wild!

It is noteworthy that renowned actress Rita Haywarth did a strip-tease in the film Salome.

What is the reference to “seven veils”? It is the number of layers of clothing worn by women and removed erotically while performing the dance. It’s an act which is sensual if performed in the right spirit but normally it will be an erotic act. I have seen an act similar to this, when we went to Dubai almost a decade ago. After the desert safari, there was dinner and dance show. Dinner was superb and belly dance was sensual as well as erotic!

As usual, when I came back to the real world, instead of the dance of the lady, different thoughts started whirling around in my mind. They were of course about humans, my favourite topic. The human mind is veiled in many layers. The more you think you know an individual, the lesser you know them. The veils slowly start coming down or get thrown off, once you get to know them better. Of course, this is not true about all humans. But there are some complex people and more you interact with them, you feel that you know them even lesser! Their persona is shrouded in veils, in some cases 3 to 4 deep but in some cases this numbers we will never know, probably like infinite number of saris Lord Krishna provided to Draupadi, while she was being stripped by Dushasana.

Some appear very strong personalities but after you get to know them, and once the veils start dropping, you may find that there is a super soft human beneath. A Person will be strong from outside appearances but their inside is a treat. Examples of Coconut fits such persons exactly. A coconut may fall from a tall tree but will hardly be damaged due to outer hard layer. Remove that outer layer, there is still some bushy covering. Remove the bushy covering and you will again come across a hard shell. Look at the beauty of nature’s design. Once we break open the inner most hard shell, you get the best natural water full of different minerals, and of course the coconut, the white fleshy part of the fruit!

Some are like Mangoes; peel them and start eating them! But be careful inside there is a hard core! Look at Jackfruit. Its outer skin is sharp to handle but on pealing, you will get the choicest fruit. Again, inside the fruit you get semi hard core. This core can be boiled in salty water, peel its hard, thin shell and again it can be eaten. Very useful but complex variety.

Human mind is complex, but then it’s His design! Add to this one more degree of complexity, Gender, man or a woman! I don’t how many layers of complexities get added when we consider women! Or is it that a man does not understand the gender complexity? Friends, the way we can never understand His ways, we will never understand human mind. Veils after veils will get exposed one under another! In “The Dance of the Seven Veils”, if all seven veils are removed we hope to see the see “real” thing! But in case of human mind it is very difficult to predict  when we will see the “real” thing! In the meanwhile, in the lighter vein, send me your comments about Rita Haywarth’s dance!

Wish I were better…

Why people act in a certain way, is difficult to understand but could be because of traumas faced in childhood!

Our son Sachin is older than our daughter Priya by 11 years. We used to have very interesting discussions on our dining table. Priya was in first grade and Sachin was in college. He would tell stories or share anecdotes of happenings in the college. The moment Sachin finished, Priya would start with “This is what happened in my school today!” She would then narrate something, of course imaginary, what happened with Dilip or Meena or whoever were her friends. Initially we would try to tell her not to spin stories. She would not stop but continue! Then we realized that it was her urge to take part in conversation and not feel left out. In retrospection, I felt that she developed the skills to narrate anecdotes as well as an ability of story telling, which is essential in life.

As I look back in life, I realized that people who were brought up in homes and families which were so called socially challenged, must have faced trauma, as life must have been difficult. In childhood, the child has no inhibitions. The child is bold and open minded, if allowed. But when there are challenges in life, healthy discussion is not a priority because the parents themselves never got such an opportunity and would suppress the urge in children. I was brought up in a family where openness was the norm. I luckily could convert this advantage in becoming, hopefully, a good individual! Jury is still out!

The effects of suppressed upbringing last a lifetime, with a few honourable exceptions. What would be the effects of suppression? One important effect would be even a successful individual with tough background, may always feel the need to check if they have done better than their peers! A good painter may keep on comparing with others. Am I good enough? A good writer may keep comparing with peers. Am I better than so and so? He may add a few spins to his writing, like Priya did in her childhood, to make it noteworthy. Classic example is recent gaffe by Arnab Goswami, when he claimed that he was physically present during an event during Godhra riots, in Gujrat. The event did occur but his colleague  Rajdeep Sardesai was physically present and not Arnab.

I read recently that actor Nawazuddin Siddiquie’s wife slammed him for writing false things about himself in discussion about their broken marriage. Since I don’t know him, I can’t comment on what type of person he is. But is it some trauma in his growing up stage that caused him to make false claims? I can’t say.

How does an individual overcome such issues? How does he stop making false claims? How does he overcome the habit of deceitful expressions? Only way to do it is to take help of friends or anyone who will help. Second way  is to try and forget the traumas of the childhood but it is easier said than done. When I wrote about writer above, if writing is his profession then he may attempt deceit but one need not do it if he is a professional in different field and writing is his hobby! In a hobby there is nothing to prove!

Finally, I will narrate a story about a very young daughter of our maid servant, who used to come to play with Priya, when she was young. Their family unfortunately came from a financially challenged background. While playing with Priya, she would tell stories of how they had many gadgets at home, how she had different toys to play at home and so on. One day I was sitting in the same room as they were. I heard her speak and my eyes moistened with sadness because I knew her background. I pray to God nobody is required to become a spin doctor to overcome  trauma of their childhood! Or teach us all to accept things as they are!

Your Final Ledger with HIM!  

HE closes the final Ledger!

A couple of days back, on one of our WhatsApp groups, a friend sent a forward about death of a person who was described as industrialist, businessman, philanthropist and everything possible. Paeans of praise were being heaped upon the person. I knew about this person. I wanted to understand my friend’s views about this person hence I wrote, saying “I would like to know the business that person was in!” My friend did not reply for a couple of days. When I reminded him, he was angry and said a few things about me, in parliamentary correct language. In huff he left the group. Poor me! I was inconsolable! 

The departed soul had started his life with a small business in tobacco and beedies, his family business. Later on, he graduated in to creating new tobacco based product, to which people got addicted very swiftly. This product after many years was banned by the Government. He has a huge factory near Pune but there was not a single board indicating what they manufactured! Why was this so, I never understood. One should be proud the product that you are making or marketing! If you are not then… 

With this background you will realize why my friend was angry and upset! 

Another friend Mukund shared with me a couple of stories. His uncle was Jail in-charge. In childhood, Mukund would visit his uncle during school holidays. Uncle had servants working for him. His uncle said that servants were all convicts who were in jail for long term. His uncle found it convenient as he could use them for longer period. Practical solution! They were normal people who in fit of anger had done an act of killing or seriously injuring someone. In due course they were sentenced; most of them were remorseful and repenting of what they had done. But unfortunately, in HIS ledger the debit entry against their name was ahead of all credits.  

Mukund shared another story of a Don! This Don was in Robinhood mold and would help needy. But his main reason for being in jail was kidnapping, murder and so on. Now the question arose, is Robinhood act above what he has done?  

There are deeds which people do where they break the law; some acts are done which don’t break the law but are as bad or worse than the acts in which laws are broken. How should these people be judged? What we discussed about the industrialist is definitely a big deal and have to be dealt morally. If one’s products are known to cause cancer, that organization and person will not be condoned by HIM! Their ledger with HIM will be in negative, always, whatever good deeds are done by such people, with money earned from immoral activity. What good is a hospital built with such money?  

Another issue, that comes to mind is about people, like my friend, who are praising industrialist’s good deeds, and get angry when asked about his real deeds! What was the reason for my friend to get angry? Does it mean that people like my friend agree to the deeds of such people? Why do newspapers write only about the good deeds and not about the main deeds? Is it to make sure that their advertisement revenue stream does not get affected? Those whose streams were not affected, reported in details about the products manufactured by the industrialist and actions taken by Government, recently. Why give only selective information about the departed soul? Why hide the fact that he was heading the organization which manufactured controversial products?  What is the job of the press? To hide unpalatable and unsuitable stuff?  

To conclude, I will say that whatever we do in this world, we should try to do our best not to break laws of the land. System will handle you if you cross the line. Similarly, one should not break HIS laws, which in earth’s language, are called moral laws. In this case, HE will take handle you! HE has our ledger with him, is it not? Once you start breaking the moral laws, these laws cross path at some stage with the law of the land! So, you will be punished either on earth or in final resting place!  

Transient State of Life!

Detailed self analysis to understand about our life’s journey!

I wrote a blog about Indices of Life and tried to analyze how we can define our status in life and our well-being. However, a friend Jay felt that we cannot define this so easily, as life is much more complex than the way I have tried to analyze it. Yes, it is not only complex but various states discussed are transient. When I said that if the sum total of life’s indices is nearer to 30, the highest number as per my definition, that number is over a period. It is not an absolute number and is transient like our life. The aim of Indices blog was to analyze all things in one basket at my today’s age and find where I stand. In this blog, I am trying to review,  at what stage I got the “feel” of the various indices.

Till the age of 20 only two Indices come into picture Happiness and Sadness but I somehow remember that Empathy was peeping out from the age of 10 or 12! Empathy probably is not so much related to age, as we think. I remember an event, I had gone for lunch at a family function. One kid from our family, all of ten years old, was standing at the counter with the serving staff. He was handing over the plates to each guest; with everyone he would make appropriate conversation! Pramodji make sure you will have Rasmalai, you will love it. Jayaji make sure that you don’t eat that so and so subji, it’s a bit too hot for your taste! He was talking with each guest appropriate things and let me tell you there were about 200 guests! Imagine a ten-year-old kid waiting, doing this for almost an hour and a half! He could do it only because he had tenderness, kindness and sensitivity within him, which is the hallmark of a person with Empathy. He has taken up  dentistry course now and I am sure he will be a great doctor, with 6.0 in empathy index!

Around the age of 30, I started my own business. In the initial phase of business everything was new to me. During that phase there were many friends who gave me orders just because I was Pramod! I started getting the feel of gratitude as well as humility. I am sharing one experience with you because it happened with a stranger! I was given a big order by a friend of mine working in a large organization. He specifically told me that he will place an order on me which will benefit his organization by about 15%. The item that I was to supply was a hardware item, it was not in my normal business lines. But my friend said, “Pramod, you supply for three months, the original vendor will fall in line during that time, and reduce rates drastically; Pramod you won’t ever be able to match the new rate”. That was my friends aim! So far so good! I went to the market and randomly went to a shop and met the owner, who was an experienced old man. He offered me tea; I explained to him my requirement; the rate he quoted was more than our Purchase Order rate. He smiled when he looked at my face. When I told him the quantity, he reduced the rate drastically. I smiled but again there was a problem. I did not have money to pay advance. When I told him the problem, he said I know that young man! But I believe in you. You pay me the day you get money from your customer! This incident activated the feelings of gratitude and humility in me. The owner also told me that these are my baby steps in the world of business and he felt that I would do ok in business. He said that my personality is that of an honest human being! Over a period, I meandered into different things in life, but this incident started thoughts about gratitude and humility in my mind!

In next ten years, I needed to adapt to various changes that were taking place and I developed an attitude to learn and use new things and techniques. Even though my Master’s Degree was in Metallurgical engineering, I ended up running my own software business. This was the result of  combination of attitude, adaptability and agility. Probably by another five years or so current persona had evolved in me and then remained stable. I did go through a major medical treatment when I was treated for cancer about four years back. But with my stable persona, I could take it in the right spirit and handle it as if was just one more serious incident in life!

Friends I started with a theoretical definition of life’s indices in my last blog and ended up finding how I evolved over a period. This is another self-analysis going into some  details of life, of my own experiences, and the things that I observed during the journey! I am sure you will also attempt to visualize the same and realize how fascinating our life’s journey is!

Life’s Indexes !

Self Analysis of how contented we are in our life!

The other day after I woke up, I sat in our balcony enjoying lovely weather. I was wondering what kind of life I have lived. I came to a conclusion that I have lived a reasonably happy contented life. I was wondering why do I think the way I am thinking. Life’s journey starts with birth and ends with the death. The quality of life that we live, depends on the value of various indices in our lives. What is the Life’s index ?  

Life’s index is my term and  I thought why not define my own indices in life? I am grading them 0 to 6, from worst to the best. I have chosen the scale of 0 to 6 because I have chosen six indices. Total of 30 will be the best and –6 will be the worst because while adding I am going to deduct sadness index!  It is equally important to give different weightage to each index according to my judgment how important each index is! I am not going into a complex weighted average based formula, as I don’t want this blog to be mathematical treaties! These indices depend on good things, bad things, exciting things and boring things that happen during the journey of life. The whole journey ultimately depends on sum total of various values that can be assigned to indices. Some of these indices are not in our control and some are in our control. We can “handle” those in our control and we have to “manage” those which are not in our control. I think that the way we feel, is a combination of various factors. In our lives, only one event or one person does not decide the feeling of fulfillment.  

Which are these indices? Happiness, Gratitude, Humility, Attitude, Sadness and Empathy are the indices that we will consider; there are many more indices that we can look into. But we will consider only these indices. It is not the index value in our life that is important, but index values in lives of others from our ecosystem, are equally important. Happiness and Sadness are two indices that are dependent on the ecosystem. If a person is sad because of ill health, the spouse also will be sad. Similarly happiness is also a shared index. But other four indices are totally independent of environment, you and only you are responsible for the performance of these indices.

Let us start with happiness! Happiness and Sadness complement each, so I thought it will be a good idea to club them together. Happiness index and Sadness index directly decide our good life, when Happiness index is a plus sum game! But happiness does not really depend on any specific thing or event because it is the state of mind. Sadness can be due to specific events like deaths or major events like financial loss. Whereas births are specific events that give us joy and happiness. Other than such external events, everything is controllable. To make the sum of happiness and sadness index positive,  is in our hands! My weightage is 15% to each of these indexes. 

Second index is Gratitude index! Humans are generally good in nature and do things for each other! But how many of them display the gratitude, I am not really sure. You don’t need to express gratification in words but actions can show gratitude. It is not necessarily about something very big but we should always show gratitude especially about things very small . The workers who do the job of taking away trash, those who do the job of cleaning washrooms, those who clean the floors! These are not fancy jobs which everyone wants to do. But people do these jobs. We need to show gratitude to such people who are silently working in background. Of course, we should be gratified that HE has brought us in this lovely world. My weightage is 15% for Gratitude Index! 

Humility index is equally important index, especially from the persons who have succeeded in life, have reached pinnacle in their career. Any person’s success is due to support of colleagues, team and many others in background. Humility shown by successful persons brings a special aura to their persona! Persons who do not show humility may be respected but not out of love. Those who display humility will be both respected and loved! Such person’s team will go out of their way to support them. Person showing humility is always a couple of steps ahead in life’s respect ladder! My weightage for humility index will be 20%. 

Attitude includes openness, adaptability, accepting new things and courage of convictions.  This type of attitude gives satisfaction in life. In the world, things change very fast and if one does not have right attitude to adaptability and/or accepting new things, person may not be successful in whatever work is being done. This can lead to less happiness and /or  increase sadness. My weightage for Attitude is 10%. 

Last but not the least is empathy. Empathy plays a major role in our lives. An empathizer will always look at every situation with correct attitude. Do not mix up empathy with sympathy! In a tough situation, say of worker’s strike, decision has to be taken with empathy! Nobody expects sympathy! If one has the ability to understand worker’s issue, solution will always be just! Person with empathy always handles life’s situations in a smooth manner without disturbing the feathers!  To me weightage for empathy is maximum, 25%. 

Where am I on the index scale of 30? Maybe around 24 to 25! I am not really sure! I have written the blog but I have not seriously analyzed myself! But if the figures above are my correct analysis then I would like the figure to be near 27 to 28!  Where are you my friends on this scale? 

 

 

 

Pet the Whale!

Look for the real things in life and try to enjoy THE moment!

When I heard Joel Sartore say, “Pet the Whale”, while giving a lecture on whales photography, I honestly did not understand the meaning of the line. Meaning of Pet is “stroke or pat (an animal) affectionately”. But when he explained it, I understood the real meaning of the same. In fact I understood the meaning of life in that one sentence. He is an expert photographer with many contributions in magazines like National Geographic! His job and profession is to take photographs. He was explaining about an expedition where other people were also there. These people were on the expedition to see the whales from close quarters! Sartore continued with his job of taking photographs. Others also started taking videos, photos of the whales. When they came back to the shore, our friend asked the whale watchers, “Did you pet the whale?” All said,” No, we were busy taking photos and videos!” This is where they lost the plot. They had gone to watch whales from close quarters, and even to touch the whales if they came close enough. Whales did come near the boat where people could have patted or touched the whales. That was once in a lifetime opportunity. Our friends kept themselves busy taking photos and videos, and lost a great opportunity!

Many times we take such approach to life. Instead of absorbing the particular moment of enjoyment or glory, we tend to do things which could have been done later or need not have been done. Whale watching group had a golden opportunity to see the whales from close quarters and maybe even pet the whale, touch the whale. But they lost such a great opportunity in view of the posterity, to have photos and videos! We sometimes miss out in judging what is more valuable.

In another incident  Sartore and his wife had decided that they will share the experience of their first child’s birth. He was in the labour room for the event but photographer in him took precedence. Instead of sharing the experience, with doctor’s permission he started clicking away. At the end of the event he rethought the whole thing. The great joy of sharing the experience of the birth of the child was lost! For their second child he took only one photo of the new child!

Our engineering college had a boat club. One of our friends was so competitive that his thoughts were always about racing and beating everyone, whichever boat he used. Competitive spirit is good but there are other joys of boating, singing, doing picnics or taking girls for moonlight boating! The atmosphere at the boat club was fantastic but our friend could never enjoy and soak himself in the atmosphere! 

With advent of technology we have formed groups of friends from alumni, office, colony and others on WhatsApp. The idea of these groups is to share with each other some interesting things and exchange views and ideas. But this never happens and most cases the plot is lost to  forwards that are sent. These forwards are on all the subjects in the world from magical remedies to cure cancer, how our ancestors had more knowledge than google and recipes for saving India from bad old enemies. The basic idea is that from our houses, where ever they are, we should be able to chat instead of face to face discussion. But where have we reached? If used well this tool could be really fun but… 

With the advent of camera in cell phones in last 10 years, people have lost the urge of enjoying life in the conventional sense! When young or old people go for holidays, for parties, for picnics, main thing they want to do is take photos or selfies instead of soaking themselves in whatever they are doing! Selfie shooting has turned into a dangerous game because people get so much involved, that some have fallen to death in the sea or from the mountains. Why has this happened? What is the big deal in selfies? The idea of soaking into atmosphere is becoming foreign to people. Their need to share on WhatsApp and Facebook whatever they are doing, is much stronger than the real enjoyment! 

What is the solution? When we go out for food, enjoy the food and ambience and people. When lovers meet don’t look into own cell phone screens! Life is beautiful  if you look into each other’s eyes. When you go for a walk, listen to chirping of birds and watch Sun rising from behind the hills. The headphones in your ears block this chirping! While talking on phone during morning walk, you will miss out on Sunrise! Last two years, I have been lucky. First heavy showers of the monsoon came during my morning walk. I literally soaked in the rain, no pun intended! I saw a few young people trying to stand in the shade or using an umbrella! They missed out on life’s small but important pleasures. Folks, do the things  like enjoying the picnic, dancing in the disco, meeting old friends! For such joys of the life the whole path you travel is important not something that you catch up in the camera!   

 

 

Life’s Station or Status!

Person’s success is decided by quality of work as well as person’s commercial success!

Yesterday during Diwali celebrations and chit chat, a very interesting subject suddenly came up for discussion. The discussion became hotter than heat generated by Diwali crackers. Situ told a story of a lady doctor who married a plumber, in America. He also said that such events are pretty regular in foreign countries. He further said that in foreign countries like the US, the social fabric is such that people from different professions in life can be close friends. I said that this a rare case even in America . Jaya and Ashwini were pro this and I was against this thought process. I said that there are two points we are discussing simultaneously and mixing them. One is the respect given to professions/professionals and the other is social friendships, getting married as mentioned about the doctor’s marriage.

My point is that in India, there is no respect given to professions other than the engineers, doctors, pilots, architects and in certain professions. Our society does not give respect to technicians or artisans like carpenters, plumbers, lock smiths and so on. In fact such professions are treated as “lowly”, unfortunately. In foreign countries these trades are definitely respected. But the point being disputed was when it comes to the social status or a social station of these people, will they be treated equally in one’s mind? Will a top notch brain surgeon be a friend of an electrician?  It may so happen that they were classmates in school/college. A small percentage, very small one, will continue to be friends but as a norm this does not happen in real life! Let’s be honest! Utopian thinking says that this happens but will a guy living on Malabar Hills in Mumbai be weekly drink mate of a guy living in Virar or Kalyan! These names written by me are for explanation, please do not take this as my opinion.

Let us look at the background in India, the oldest civilization! There were four Varnas described in Hinduism.

  • Brahmins: priests, scholars and teachers.
  • Kshatriyas: rulers, warriors and administrators.
  • Vaishyas: agriculturalists and merchants.
  • Shudras: laborers and service providers.

These are called savarnas and are supposedly forward classes; remaining are tribes and scheduled tribes are avarnas, with no Varnas and are supposedly backward classes. These are not to be mixed up with Jatis or Castes. With this separation in India for thousands of years, the so called discrimination always happened discretely and many times not so discretely. Does this happen in foreign countries? My opinion is it happens but mostly discretely. To give example of British royalty, Queen Elizabeth’s sister Margaret, fell love with Snowden, a commoner and a photographer. Well, the family was graceful in allowing the marriage (there was no honour killing the way we have in India!) but Snowden was made Lord Snowden. How can Margaret’s husband be a commoner? This is how the discretion was resolved!

World over, there are different types of discretions and discriminations. In India, it is so ingrained in our blood, it’s embedded in our DNA. Coming back to subject of respect for courses or professions, it changes from region to region. It is the parents wish that the child gets well settled as early as possible, after education. In Maharashtra there have been many industries existing for a long time hence engineering course was a top runner. Doctors anyway are respected hence that was another course respected. But up north previously not many industries were around. Jobs were mostly available in government, so there the aim was to a take a basic degree and appear for competitive examinations.

A person’s success is measured by where the person reaches on the ladder to success.  Utopian thinking says that someone is successful in life when one gets to do things in life that the person loves. People love to sing, dance, and paint, play instruments or become writers of travelogues. In their goal to achieve success what are the steps of the ladder made up of! Are steps made up of the quality, in what you are doing; are you the best in your field and are also commercially successful! But the world is not utopia, so my thinking tells me that people go by quality as well as commercial success. To give an example you may be doing quality stuff in what you are doing but you are not able to buy a car to move around. 99% people will say he is damn good but not successful. That my friends is a fact of life! In whatever you are doing longevity is also equally important. One song wonder or one movie wonders are never called successful and it is said that the person did not live up to the potential, which in other ways is unsuccessful. A person who is already “successful” in something and achieves moderate success in some other field is considered more successful than someone who has achieved more, only in the second field!

Coming back to our “hot” discussion that we had yesterday, in India there is a discrimination in the type of work a person is doing; they are respected as per hierarchy of professions which got defined over a period. At the same time, success of a person is dependent on how that person has commercially succeeded in field rather the quality that has been achieved. But in western countries there is a respect to ALL professionals irrespective of the profession. But the success of the person is still judged the same way as is done by us.