AF and BF!

Social issues created by these apps are worse (loss of productivity, loss of family time) than the advantages offered by them!

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The caricatures will indicate the subject of my blog!

AD‘ is the initials of the Latin words anno domini, which means “Year of the Lord” – in other words, (approximately) the number of years since the birth of Jesus. The modern equivalent is ‘CE’, which means “Common Era”. ‘BC” is the initials of the English words “before Christ” – a way of counting backwards in time before the current era. But now new terminologies have come up, BF is Before Facebook and AF is After Facebook. Facebook started in 2004 February and WhatsApp in Jan 2009. They have made a great revolution in our lives.

These technologies churned out because of two behemoths of the modern technology, Internet and Cell phone. As normally happens, FB &WA changed our methods of communications totally. These helped us to locate old friends, long lost pals! Everybody was thrilled. We got controls in our hands and we could communicate with anybody and everybody, anytime, be it midnight or be it noon!

In 70’s the communication with each other was by mail and telephones; telephones in our part of the world were a rarity. There was methodology and etiquettes, in their usage,  which were established over a period of time. There were certain etiquettes for business letters and there were some for personal letters. World over, the postal departments were doing the job of delivering the mail. This conventional mail slowly came to be known as snail mail as the time taken for a letters to reach was 3 to 6 days within the country and 3 to 4 weeks in foreign countries.

Slowly with internet came e mail, personal telephones called cell phones became available. But these technologies also came up slowly in nineties! In the 21st century two technologies started galloping and these proliferated world over. In India cell phone usage has increased at the break neck speed. From the same two technologies were born FB and later WhatsApp! Once people realized how easy it is to use FB &WA, the numbers simply became billions! Another thing that helped was increase in Internet speed and Bandwidth, added to it was the local language availability. Video calls became possible as easily like voice calls. We think that these developments happened suddenly but technology does not work this way. These developments of Video on cell phone had started in the year 2000/2001. In 15 years, better hardware, software and Internet changed the face of the technology.

How was this useful to human race? I can say that, had this technology been available before 2nd world war, it was possible that Hitler could have won the war. He had a very fierce propaganda machine led by Goebbels but with FB & WA his reach could have been global. There were enough desperados in this world, who would have joined Hitler!

I don’t want to flood you with statistics about usage of these two apps and all apps in general. From what I have checked on the net the time spent is between 2 to 4 hours in working and retired people; the same use is even more in student community.

https://zephoria.com/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/

https://expandedramblings.com/index.php/whatsapp-statistics/

I have noted that usage of these apps has increased during the time in offices, office time which is supposed to be productive. I go to various industries and the new trend is that people still seem to be busy, but many are busy looking at their cell phones. These organizations prohibit access to the social media apps on their office computers but with smart phone prices spiraling down, large number of people can afford smart phones. Access to these apps on personal phones cannot be stopped. Once we were waiting to meet a senior officer in an organization. We were told that he is busy in a conference call. He was sitting in a designated area. We passed by that area two or three times; every time he was busy on his cell phone screen. Never saw him talking on phone.

Social issues created by these apps are worse (loss of productivity, loss of family time) than the advantages offered by them. Out of 3 to 4 hrs time spent on these apps, important time is eaten away from “family time”, after reaching home.  Of course, the whole family is busy looking at the screen! The so-called group usage of WA is a curse. More than 90% messages are forwards! This facility has been used for spreading rumors and has resulted in killings of people, based on rumors in India. WA is struggling to prevent this from happening, under government pressure!

 

I will share some experiences with you. The above caricatures show how today’s lovers enjoy, they don’t look into each others eyes but.. at their own cell phone screen! The other day a couple came home for coffee. After usual, hi and hellos the gentleman got busy on his cell phone. After more than five minutes he had to be bluntly asked if he came to our home to check his WA messages? Once we had gone out for a family dinner with young family gang. One of the kids, 20 years old was addicted to her cell phone. She was sitting opposite me. After 15 minutes or so, I told her to put the cell phone away as we were having a lovely dinner. After that episode she avoids me in family get togethers. How do we resolve this?

Now I am semi-retired so it hardly is going to make any difference if I wasted time on FB/WA. But, I have decided that in future, I will access Facebook only on days when I publish my blog. (All these days publishing was automatic but FB does not allow automatic publishing from WordPress from 1/8/2018) I will communicate with friends on their birthdays/ and some special events privately, never on the wall.

On WhatsApp, I may be required to react on a couple of groups as I am Admin in one, and the other is our society group where I am the chairman. So, I will be accessing WhatsApp only once in a day, early mornings. Similarly, I will use WhatsApp to circulate my blogs only!

There was a movie called “Back to the future” which took the hero back to his parent’s school time zone. I am going “Back to Pre FB-days”. I have been trying it for last week or so and I am happy.

Please forward this blog or like it! My purpose for writing this is just to communicate with you by “New or maybe OLD” method of communication in future. After all there is life beyond Facebook and WhatsApp!

Dr. No…! Or Dr. Knows!

Doctors are Professionals like everyone else; they are experts but make same errors like everyone else!

Whenever there is a discussion taking place about medical field, most of the reactions are, “These guys always cheat!” It is like a popular phrase in not so rich a country like India, “All business people are profit mongering thieves!” This sentence is contradictory. Business is an activity of making one’s living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (goods and services). The definition clearly states that it is an activity for making money. It is also said that doing a job is noble thing to do but we forget that when we do a job, we do it for someone who is doing business!

This discussion came about during a chitchat at home where five of the family members were doctors. Subject for discussion was basically how much is the right fee for medical advice, surgery, tests etc. Tests performed are standard procedures where almost identical methods are used for evaluation. The only difference could be a little more automation and sophistication of equipment. So, fees here should be uniform. But ultimately charges are market driven. Consultation and surgery fees will differ as these are dependent on individual skills and expertise.

A doctor friend of mine bought a modern computerized x ray machine. I asked him why did he buy this expensive machine. His reply was very different and interesting. He is my age. He said, “Pramod what is your opinion about my buying this machine.” I said, “Fantastic! Now you will be able to judge patient’s problems better!” His establishment is in the older part of our city where rates for services are generally inexpensive. He told me, “You are one of the very few who has appreciated my going with latest technology, most said what is use if you are not going charge fancy rates.” His further comment was most interesting. He said, “Pramod, consider this as my Mercedes! I would rather move around in a Wagon R as roads in this area are small and congested. I enjoy using this modern equipment, as it helps me improve my diagnosis.”

Among all the pathy’s, we have to accept a fact that only in Allopathy, a lot of research is taking place. All this research is sponsored by pharma companies, who else will do it? It is the business of pharma companies to find new drugs which help improve treatment and rate of cure. Fifty years back, when cancer was detected, death was imminent. There was no chance of cure. This was happening because the equipment of those days, knowledge of doctors, quality of drugs created a situation where it was always too late! But now all these things have improved so much that detection is early, equipment and drugs are better and so is knowledge of doctors. This has resulted in improving cure rate tremendously. When research is done a lot of money is invested. The companies try to get ROI as early as possible (it makes business sense) but when they get competition the prices of new drugs or equipment start tapering off fast. The pharma companies are not thieves; they are investing a lot of money for betterment of themselves and also of the mankind. It is duty of pharma companies to be profitable on behalf of the share holders as they are not a charity organization.

I am not saying that all the pharma companies are saints and there are bound to be black sheep. But this is true in all fields and in all pathy’s. It’s human nature to cheat but this % is generally similar everywhere. Also, like in every field there are checks and balances. There are organizations and associations which track malpractice. I will give you an example. Years back one of the giant pharma company’s sales guy met a doctor in Harvard Medical School. He suggested to the doctor, that if the doctor prescribed certain drugs to patients, they would pay US $ 5000/ month. The doctor promptly reported this offer to his management. There was a court case and the pharma company was fined US $ 940/ million! This still does not mean that such things are not happening but these are not as rampant as they are said to happen.

There is another theory. The threshold values of BP, Diabetes, Cholesterol are changed frequently to suit the pharma companies. This is done with the help of famous doctors. During last fifty years computerization has helped medical field as it has helped all other fields too! These threshold values are not absolute values. Medical fraternity decides this based on the study of large number of patients over a large period of time. Finally, they average it out. What computerization has done is that collecting data and processing it has become extremely accurate and fast. Previously it was taking maybe 30 to 40 years to analyze changes due to manual methods, now this is done every 10 to 15 years! Hence, we notice these changes introduced, as the changes are more frequent! Another reason for this is that in the modern world of internet, news and information spreads really fast!

The fees charged by doctors, medicines prescribed by them, methods followed by them are based on their knowledge and experience; obviously the fees are market driven too! We hear the stories about doctor A squeezes the patients but doctor B does not. The fees charged by these professionals are absolutely market driven. Do you know what fees are charged by Supreme court lawyers? Sometimes these are in lacs per day. I know of one patent attorney who charges about 20 k per hour! Heart Surgeons charge in lacs for bypass surgeries.

Now a new trend has started in medical field about which we all need to be careful. Dental technicians now start their own clinics and charge 1/5 th of the fees charged by the dentists. Many of their patients end up, going to real dentist after wasting money and sometimes with incorrect treatment.  Dieticians suggest diets to people sometimes without knowing medical history of patients. When I said this during a discussion, one of my friends was angry. He said, “Doctors have no clue about diets!” I asked him, “What clue do dieticians have about medical side of the person?” There are certain orthopedic technicians who start their own practice. Physiotherapists have started their own practice. One person has ten bed facility to give traction. I know of someone who has taken 40 plus traction sessions of one hour each, from this person, without medical advice. Traction is suggested by Orthopedic Surgeons based on certain criteria. Many patients take treatment from Physiotherapists without even taking advice from Orthopedic Surgeons. Patients go by treatments suggested by non doctors!

I am not saying that everything is hunky dory in the medical field. Major errors do happen even in case of celebrities. Hema Malini’s mother was operated upon right leg while she had problem on her left leg. That too in a hospital in New York. Mistakes and goof ups are part and parcel of this field. If you want to know first-hand, how things do go wrong, read a book by Dr. Atul Gavande, “Checklist Manifesto”! Atul is well-known Indian born surgeon who lives in America. Dentists have told me patients come to them after being treated by other doctors where they have undergone root canal treatment. On re checking they have found that the cheats had never performed root canal!

I will round up with a very interesting story told to me by my Daughter Dr. Priya. She is a pediatric dentist. An eight-month old baby was brought to her. The parents said that the baby had a gold tooth, yes Gold Tooth! 3 to 4 other dentists had already seen the baby and had declared that this gold tooth must be removed and can be done only under general anesthesia.  Parents naturally did not want treatment under anesthesia. Priya checked the baby and used a small tool to check the “gold tooth”. She just gave a small jerk and out came the gold tooth! Well it was an ear piece which the baby’s mother had lost, stuck in the baby’s mouth. Time taken ten seconds, anesthesia not needed, fees 0.00 rupees!

Friends, select your doctor in such a way that you get a great treatment if needed. And Yes! Don’t be scared, there are goof ups as in any field but % of cheats is also similar to any other field!

Superstitions, traditions! What’s the big deal!

Don’t take education, be educated!

 

VatPournima

Vat Pournima is a tradition which to me was an occasion for ladies of the house to come together and have fun, in olden days. But in our society there is a confusion about such harmless traditions and Superstitions. 

Narendra Dabholkar was a medical doctor, rationalist and author from Maharashtra, India. In 1989 he founded and became president of the Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti. Triggered by his murder on, 20 August 2013, the pending Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Ordinance was promulgated in the state of Maharashtra, four days later. The next year, in 2014, he was posthumously awarded the Padma Shri for social work. 

Superstition is a pejorative term for any belief or practice that is considered irrational: for example, if it arises from ignorance, a misunderstanding of science or causality, a positive belief in fate or magic, or fear of that which is unknown. “Superstition” also refers to actions arising from irrationality. 

The word superstition is often used to refer to a religion not practiced by the majority of a given society regardless of whether the prevailing religion contains alleged superstitions. It is also commonly applied to beliefs and practices surrounding luck, prophecy, and certain spiritual things, particularly the belief that future events can be foretold by specific (apparently) unrelated prior events. 

Why is it so important to have Dabholkars among us? World over there have been superstitions galore and in large country like India which has strong beliefs, that too based on religion, which give unnecessary importance to such practices. Dabholkar, Kalburgi and others have been speaking openly against Superstition and Black Magic. But forces which strongly opposed such thoughts, murdered them! 

On one of my WhatsApp groups, there was a discussion on this subject. This group is made up of my friends who were together in Elphinstone College in mid-sixties of the last century. Elphinstone college in those days was famous for very bright and sharp students who were in top 5% of their respective schools! Two things, “Sharp and bright individuals and belief or practice that is considered irrational, don’t gel or combine,” can never go hand in hand; irrational beliefs and practices arise from ignorance, a misunderstanding of science, a positive belief in fate or magic, or fear of that which is unknown. Mind you, all these friends were also from science faculty and all did quite well in their life, professionally.  

There was an argument on the subject superstitions on the WhatsApp group, which needs to be analyzed. No one was for superstition but there was a thought process which suggested that if someone wants to follow a tradition which he or she is following on their own without forcing others to follow, it should be ok. What is wrong in this logic? What is wrong in following a tradition? What is a tradition? Tradition is the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way. People forget that many traditions were formed when knowledge of science of human race was poor, and there was a strong grip of religious people on the society, who ensured that traditions continued, for personal benefit of religious people. 

Should educated, elite people follow a tradition, though it is does not harm others, even if it is based on irrational thought process? Does modern education not teach us to be rational? Why do educated people argue irrationally? Whom should we call educated? To me an educated person is one who takes benefit of education to improve his thought process to think rationally. Look at a few examples about traditions that we follow. Taking dip in Ganga water in Varanasi, (What is today’s water quality) the way society looks at ladies who are going through their monthly cycle, the way ladies are not allowed, by tradition, to the cremation grounds! There are hundreds of such traditions which are based on old irrational thoughts. 

I wanted to understand the logic behind the traditions, so I thought let me understand a couple of traditions, the Garbhadhan Sanskara is the first of these. This is supposed to be a tradition, that needs us to perform a ritual for newly married couples. This tradition supposedly helps the couple to produce virtuous progeny! Really? Garbhadhan Sanskara is a very old tradition. In olden days, there used to be child marriages, between the ages of 8 to 13 years, even before the child reached puberty. These kids obviously did not know much about marriage. So probably they also taught the newly married couple about the birds and the bees! But in today’s times, when people get married after the age of 25, in cities, does it make any sense to follow this tradition? Today videos related to sex are available on your cell phone, if required! Garbhadhan procedure requires the lady to share the details about her menstrual cycle, with a Jyotishi, who is unknown to her! Come on who will do this? They will take advice of doctors. What about the couples who remain childless? At the time of marriage nobody knows if the couple will have children! Does this tradition have any meaning, though it does not affect public, in general! 

Another “tradition” I was reading about is called Sarpa pooja. Main center for this is near Nasik, called Triambakeshwar. People from all over India come here. It is supposed to be cure all pooja. Five years back the priests would charge Rs.2500/ per pooja which lasted for 6 ½ hours with a 15-minute break! Followed by lunch, cost included. The detailing of this pooja was in the hands of the priest who had never seen you before in life (would never see you again, anyway) based on your horoscope. It is supposed to cure all for bad vibes in your life which included difficulty in business, not able to conceive and what have you! This pooja is performed publicly for upto 25 couples at a time. Would you want your personal things handled publicly? If not done at a time, priests would have needed 25 days for 25 couples, but business sense makes them to do it in public, to hell with your privacy concerns! On a related blog site, I found that there was one person, supposedly a client, who was answering everybody’s queries. Probably he was a paid person under the garb of a client. Very few openly said that it is B… …t! But one or two did!

What is a society? It is made up of all the people like you and me. You and me are looking for leaders in the society who can work as beacons to the society in thinking rationally, working against things which are not good for society. Similarly, my group of Elphinstonians has done better in life than many others, so I am sure other people from the society are looking at people from this group as leaders who would be rational. The examples I have given above do not affect any other person directly or indirectly. But are those “traditions” not irrational? If the so-called leaders behave irrationally, then how the uneducated will improve and come out of rut? Oh, I used the word educated but what is educated? My friends have taken elite education, but are they showing educated behaviour?  

What I have observed is that when people follow traditions linked with religion, they are afraid to ignore them. These traditions have been promoted from olden days by priests, it was their livelihood, it has been their business. The priests who charge Rs.2500/ per pooja, perform it for 25 couples a day. Cool 60 k per day! Not bad! They have created fear in the mind of people, if you don’t do this, that will happen. If you have this problem, perform  that pooja. Poojas after all are cure all!  

In certain cases, the irrational behaviour is due to events that might purportedly happen in life. I know of someone who died at the age of 75, a normal death due to old age, multiple organ failure. He was an atheist. Initially his close family decided not to have any rituals on 10th and 13th day. But his other family members insisted that a pooja, udak shant, must be performed. Same pooja was performed at two different houses they owned as the body was taken to these two homes, before cremation. Reason for this shant, there was a marriage in the family in near future, and they did not want ill effects of shadow of death to fall on the auspicious occasion of marriage. This was simply because of fear psychosis! A natural death due to old age is a bad omen, says who? Oh, tradition! I agree that it is a sad event! This irrational act of double pooja was due to fear of the unknown. The family is an educated family. If the pooja is not performed something may go wrong, why take a risk?  This brought to mind a Shloka from Bhagwad Geeta!

वासांसि जीर्णानि यथा विहाय  
नवानि गृह्णाति नरोऽपराणि।  
तथा शरीराणि विहाय जीर्णा  
न्यन्यानि संयाति नवानि देही।। 

As a human being puts on new garments, giving up old ones, the soul similarly accepts new material bodies, giving up the old and useless ones.” 

I and many of us treat Bhagwad Geeta as the ultimate teacher in life and death. The above Shloka clearly says that soul is immortal! So how did the tradition of treating death as an inauspicious event start? Business needs or marketing gimmick? 

 

Decisive frame of mind!

Preserve yourself, others come later!

Shailu

This thought just hit the right chords in my mind. In our lives we find ourselves in many different situations, meet a lot of people. Our life is like a river which meanders through the terrain it is allotted. The river does not complain why am I being given a hilly terrain? Why am I on flat land? It just follows its course. River is a great example for humans to follow. I have added my two cents (in blue) to the important thought depicted above.

Don’t be afraid of losing people, be afraid of losing YOURSELF by trying to please everyone! To me YOURSELF means self-belief in principles of your life! 

In our lives we need to act properly to suit any situation. Over a period, we mould ourselves in a certain way; some of us become too arrogant and some become too soft, or meek maybe the right  word to describe such people. In such cases, what happens is that human reaction remains same irrespective of the situation. An arrogant person will just ignore the thought processes, suggestions of others. Whereas a soft human being, will heed to everybody’s suggestions, accept whatever others say. In both cases having correct end result becomes a 50:50 chance. In life no situation is in black and white but there is always some shade of gray in it. What I have mentioned about arrogance and softness is the same as being black or white, we need to operate in gray areas, show aggression at the same time be open to settle!

What I am suggesting is about flexibility to match the situation. In office situation it can so happen that the boss one day may have to start reporting to a subordinate. If the boss starts thinking like, “Oh! This person was my junior, how can the person be my boss? I am better than him.” But that your subordinate has become your boss indicates something different. Maybe the subordinate has become smarter with experience and has become better than you. Maybe the subordinate was better than you anyway. But the management was waiting for the subordinate to gain work experience, unfortunately under you. What happens if there is no flexibility in such a situation? The organization may suffer due to lack of harmony, the boss will suffer, may ultimately have to go. Or the subordinate may not be able to perform well.

When the river is flowing normally, things are smooth, but when there is a flood situation, big turbulence gets created. The water level increases and goes above the banks, there will be large flow of water besides turbulence. This is a situation very similar to the example I have shared above. There are some large and rigid trees and there are some soft bushes (in Marathi these are called लव्हाळी) that come in the path of the roaring water. Large trees, because of their rigidity and stiffness have to handle huge forces of water, and can get uprooted. But the bushes which are soft, bend with the flow and hence can handle the large force of water easily, without getting uprooted.

Similarly, if we do not react suitably in our life, we can get damaged, we can get uprooted. Rigid and stiff trees are like our ego. If we cannot keep our ego aside, if we do not change as per the need of the situation we will have difficulties in life. Sometimes taking such decisions can make a few people unhappy. Sometimes we are afraid to take such decisions, with fear of losing people. But if you change to suit the situation, you may lose a few people but you will be true to yourself, your thought processes, your principles. At the end of the day this will make you happy.

In life we have different eco systems. One is a personal eco system and other is the formal eco system. But in certain situations, these eco systems overlap, they cross the boundaries. This is when the complications arise. Classic example of this is explained in Bhagwad Geeta! Arjuna is in his chariot between two armies, along with Bhagwan Krishna and is confused, depressed. He sees on the other side, his grandfather Bhishma, Guru Dronacharya, his cousins and so many relatives. His bow starts slipping from his hand as he goes into depression at the thought of fighting against all these people; and probably killing all of them to win the war! Winning the war is the goal of the formal eco system and not fighting a war with all these stalwarts is the goal of his personal eco system. Bhagwan Krishna resolves his issue by saying that as a warrior it is Arjuna’s duty to fight and win the war and not bother, against whom he is fighting it. On top of that Arjuna had not started that conflict which led to the war. So, it was morally Arjunas duty to fight and win the war, which was forced on him. If he had not fought the war he would have failed, or lost morally to his brothers and self. But fighting and winning the war he lost the others. It was a cache 22 situation where acceptable solution was winning the war.

We face these kinds of situations many times. In my recent blogs, I had given a couple of examples where family members had done serious damage to the family by their actions. This happened because the other family members did not act in time for the fear of losing people. The end result, senior members in the family lost their homes, lost the peace of mind, in old age. It is with this fear of losing people, we allow bullies to push and drag!

So friends, act tough when required but be open to settle amicably! I read about a story which exactly depicts this thought process. An old man stayed in his flat with his son and his son’s family. After the death of his wife, he was lonely and the family helped him feel more lonely by reducing interaction with him. He would have his food in his room. Son and his wife had almost zero interaction with him. They came to a conclusion that old man needed to be shifted to old people’s home. On a Sunday, they went into father’s room and said, “We have planned something for you.” The Old man said, “In fact I wanted to talk to you two as I have also made some plans. Now I am old and come in your way many times. So I have decided that you and your family move out of my flat; couple of my friends, who are also widowers, will move here and we will enjoy our life in our way, without disturbing you folks. You have one month starting from today!”  Did he lose his son? No, old man was on the verge of losing himself! Be decisive when the time comes!

 

Every dog has his day!

Wish I were a Dog!

Literally! Dogs have become important species, especially in India. Keeping dogs as pets has a long history right from maybe stone age! In Mahabharata a dog follows the Pandavas during their LAST journey. People have their own thought processes about pet dogs and I am writing on this subject only to get an overall feel of the subject. 

Importance of dogs in India started with the keen interest taken by Maneka Gandhi about dogs. There is a Supreme Court ruling about stray dogs which is given below. 

Under the Indian laws, animal cruelty is an offence – under Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and Section and 429 of the Indian Penal Code – punishable with imprisonment and fine. Likewise, criminal intimidation, and criminally intimidating animal welfare volunteers is a serious offence under the Indian Penal Code (specifically, Section 503 of Indian Penal Code read with Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code 1860). 

But what happens if there arises a cache 22 situation where a decision needs to be taken about supporting humans and dogs at the same time, in the same situation, at same location. Who should get the priority? There are many different rulings which declare the rights of the stray dogs; breaking such laws is liable to jail terms! But not giving the same support to homeless people (maybe stray people) is not punishable! But the alertness and alacrity with which the Animal support groups act and react in case of dogs, is rarely seen in case of humans in difficulty.  

With latest trends, now some families are deciding that they will not have kids but will adopt dogs. This trend, which was observed in western countries is now also seen in Indian couples. I know of a family, there could be many more, who while traveling, “talk” to their pets on video calls; kennels have set up cameras etc to provide such facility.  

I am aware that there are pet training schools where charges maybe as high as the best of human schools. I know that in 1980 someone used to pay US $100/ hour for pet training. (Be careful what you call someone’s dog, it may be good idea to call it by its name; owners are sensitive sometimes.) Now we have pet training schools, but do we have human training schools to teach humans how to handle pet dogs?  

Years back, I was walking on a footpath in the US, a lady was talking on her cell phone with somebody. She had a dog on the leash while it was doing its natural thing. I was wondering how this situation is going to be handled. As I reached near the lady, she probably told the other party to hold on for a second. She said to me, “Sir, I have my poop picking gear, don’t worry I am going to pick it up”! I am quite sure the lady had gone to best training school where they teach about handling the doggies.  

I will share with you couple of examples where the owners did not take the training course. We went to someone for a cup of coffee. We never knew that they had a dog. It’s not that Jaya and I are afraid of dogs, in fact we love them, mildly. The breed they had was five feet long when it was lying down. Its bark was as loud as the fighter aircrafts breaking sound barrier. As soon as we entered their home, it was an apartment, the doggy ran in as fast as Usain Bolt and braked in front of us; it had an awesome braking system. We were stunned, most probably, because of this unexpected, almost an attack on us! Our friend came and said, “Hey, guys! Don’t worry he is a very mild pet!” Of course, we knew that. I just wondered if it were ferocious, officially. After it was leashed, hypothetically, not physically, we started to move towards the three-seat sofa! The moment my bottom touched the sofa, windows in the home shuddered, I had almost become deaf with initial boom, I jumped up. Our friend, the doggy, had started howling. Our friend, the human, told us that it was doggy’s seat! The doggy jumped on the sofa and lied down, all its five feet! The coffee arrived, we gulped it. Luckily the cell phone came to the rescue! It rang. A friend had called to inform me that our evening dinner was postponed due to some emergency. I kept on blabbering on the phone, “Don’t you worry, we will reach in 30 minutes. I will try to get a doctor with me on the way.”  

Immediately, we left our friend’s place with apologies and told him that some emergency had come up at a friend’s place, bal bla bla. For a change, I got a certificate of appreciation from my better half, for an excellent and prompt action and acting skills. 

A friend’s dog died recently after a long life of 13 years. He was a mild, lovely dog. But he (the dog) missed out on two things; after he died there were a hundred RIP messages (95 were actually saying only RIP) on our society’s WA group. Very few people in the society used to interact with him (the dog); he would have known how many really “loved” him had he read those messages. But he, the doggy, was dead and was not on WA group! Probably we humans also know how many people “really” feel about us after we die! Why not tell it before we die, just a food for thought?  

Now I am going ask awkward questions. What do we do with our neighbor’s doggy who keeps on howling, at night? Our neighbor, the owner of the doggy, I am told, cannot go to sleep if the doggy is not howling! What do we do with neighbor who does not pick the poo poo? What do you do if the doggy cleanses your car rim and tyre with his, you know what? Should we send a thank you note? To whom, the doggy or the owner? Doggy is after all their kid!  What do we do with them when the doggy wets, the mat in the elevator/lift in your condo? Of course, you take the mat home and wash it, spray lovely perfume to mask the after effects.  Or maybe walk the staircase to your 11 th floor home!

Looking at more positive sides of dog the pet! It provides employment. Our friends, the owners are so busy, that they have no time to take the doggy out for a walk. Don’t ask why do you have pets, if you can’t walk them? Do you ask some someone why you are having kids?  Now there are some special shops catering only in dog stuff. 

Humans have a much developed brain. With new methods, equipment, tools, humans have been controlling other species for different purpose including food. Horses were used for travel, camels are used even today in desert for travel, we eat chicken, fish, goats and pigs. Yes, in Korea dog food is considered a delicacy! I am all for stopping the cruelty against animals but are we not going to other extreme about dogs in India? Honestly, I do not know!  

 

 

Two facets of our mind!

Our two selves!

Human is a funny creature and human mind is even funnier! How our mind will react to a situation is difficult to tell. I am not sure but the reactions of mind are generally consistent in similar situations. At least I hope so! In routine situations which generally get repeated in our lives, reactions of the mind will be quite consistent, most of the time. Like sometimes, getting late while going to office. Our mind calculates the average time required, considering traffic patterns, time of the day when you are traveling. Then our mind internally calculates the time to leave from home, so that we reach on time! It helps you recalibrating so as to reduce your anxiety.

Do two humans react in the same way? No never. I feel that how one’s mind reacts, depends on the how you grew up right from childhood. The environment in which you have grown up, shapes the mould of how you react or how you decide. But do you really know how your mind will react to a certain situation? No, you won’t know especially in difficult situations. I found this when I was undergoing cancer treatment a few years back.

My treatment was going on for about three months, it included a treatment called immunotherapy and radiations. During the first one week, there were not many effects on my body. My body started reacting from the second weak onwards. I would get coughing bouts, I had rash on my back and on my head. Jaya tells me that I used to have a tough time because of the coughing bouts and sometimes had trouble because of the rash. My mind it seems is designed to not remember difficult and tough periods during difficult times. Honestly, I do not remember most of the details that caused the problems. Yes, I remember that there were many issues but Jaya remembers the details more than I do! Maybe I am lucky that by design, my mind forgets the difficult part of the process. I remember the basics but do not remember any details.

I did a bit of research on internet and it looks like there is a lot of research done on “our two selves”! This research is done mainly about these two selves and how their behaviour helps humans to take decisions in life or react in life! Wow, I honestly had not heard anything about these two fellas! This research is done mainly in the field of psychology! Well known expert and Nobel Laureate Kahneman says about this, “I am my remembering self, and the experiencing self, who does my living, is like a stranger to me.”

This thought process can be a bit confusing to begin with but once we understand it, its meaning is simple but fascinating. Suppose that you are on a holiday with your small kids. It is a well-planned holiday but with kids around things can be a little complex. Basically, adults take a holiday to enjoy change of scene, different places and food; add to that the family time. Children do not to love any change in their steady state life, so they are a little uncomfortable with daily travel, new hotels (they may be posh but they are not home). With this uncertainty, they are a little quirky. Now here is the concept. The experiencing self is the “you” who in the moment lives through the event. The remembering self is the “you” that writes the history. With discomfort of both adults and kids, the experience of holiday can be stressful while it is on but the memory of the holiday that forms in the mind of adults, after the holiday is that of happiness. The remembering self is the one that that takes decisions, for future! This means though during the holiday, there was stress, overall experience was a good one.

It is also the remembering self that is consulted when planning the future. Choices are made, based on the remembering self’s construction of what happened in the past. Now here’s the problem. The experiencing self and the remembering self don’t agree on what happened.

An experiment was conducted where subjects had a hand immersed in ice water at a temperature that causes moderate pain. They were told that they would have three trials. While the hand was in the water the other hand used a keyboard to continuously record their level of pain. The first trial lasted 60 seconds. The second trial lasted 90 seconds, however in the last 30 seconds the water was slowly warmed by 1 degree (better but still painful). For the third trial, they were allowed to choose which of the first two trials was less disagreeable, and repeat that one.

Eighty percent of the subjects who reported experiencing some decrease in their pain in the last 30 seconds of the second trial chose to repeat the 90-second experience! In other words, their remembering self-selected the option that required an additional 30 seconds of suffering.

What is the conclusion from the experiment? The duration did not matter but end result mattered. In the second method, pain started diminishing as the temperature was increased. Though the trial was longer, people preferred that trial.

Coming back to my cancer treatment. Treatment lasted for three months. My pain and difficulties increased with time. But my overall experience was satisfactory; why was it so? When the treatment ended, the doctors told me that everything worked out well. Since my cancer turned out to be non- spreadable variety, chances of recurrence were almost nil! My mind processed the end result and probably made me forget the pain and issues during treatment phase. My remembering self, processed the information that I wanted! So, am I happy?

Being happy used to be a simple process, now it is difficult to discuss this as it has become a complex process as our knowledge level goes up. It turns out that the word “happiness” is just not a useful word anymore, because we apply it to too many different things.

The second thing is a confusion between experience and memory, between being happy in your life, and being happy about your life or happy with your life. And those are two very different concepts, and they’re both clubbed in the notion of happiness.

Friends, will our mind work this way when events like, business loss, break-up in relationships, loss of job? Don’t forget that remembering self also remembers the peak events (best or the worst) from any process!

Maybe, some of you might just want to chuck the complex theory we have discussed,  and be happy the old way! Cheers!

Let the “GoGang” be!

Hope that WILL, will find a way!

Golden Age Gang (GoGang) is a fancy name I want to give to the aging population! Within a couple of hours of my publishing the blog “Age with an open mind IV” two friends Sudhakar and Vijay passed very similar comments, “Age with the Open eyes too!” I had made a passing comment on things for which old population should keep their eyes open too; it can be a subject for a blog itself. Sudhakar in his inimitable style drew a beautiful picture depicting the meaning of what he wanted to say.

SonyaEye

So here I am suggesting, let the “GoGang” be! At the same time let them not forget to keep their eyes open! With families becoming nuclear, different units in families live separately, including the retired families. A change is taking place as retiring and settling down has become a collaborative process between nuclear families. Younger families can help retirees settle down but they can do so by remaining in background.   

One sees and hears so many different experiences all around that it is better to keep eyes and ears open. What you need in the old age is peace of mind! The peace will help retirees in keeping good health, financial independence and healthy relations with near and dear ones. Other things that will make Golden Age Gang (GoGang) feel independent, is to help them take care of themselves, with as little support as possible. Young people may set up GoGang’s Wifi’s or gadgets for them if they are technically uncomfortable. GoGang may need support in setting up their cell phones! Things are changing so fast these days that even younger generation can feel the challenges of technology.

The importance of being independent is twofold for GoGang. Independence is sometimes the only thing seniors may feel they can control, as certain aspects of their life change with age. Additionally, maintaining independence promotes a sense of achievement that for many seniors generates a great sense of self-worth and well-being. Don’t forget that the same people were younger once and have achieved a lot in their working lives!

Often, seniors are able to live independently with a little or no help at all. However, some need assistance due to physical or mental limitations that may come with aging. In these cases, living at home alone, does not become a lost cause. Home health care companies are mushrooming in India, who help seniors maintain independence for as long as possible. Caregivers help old people in activities of daily living, such as grocery shopping, light cleaning, cooking and other activities that enable seniors to live at home independently. In typical Indian way, this is also being done in unofficial way. It can be a quid pro quo arrangement. I know of someone who lives in a bungalow; he has provided staying quarters to a family, free and they have arrangement whereby both the families help each other by providing services and free quarters!

We must understand that in order to maintain true levels of independence, it is important for seniors to be involved in their own care. When assisting the GoGang, don’t come in and perform all their duties. Instead, follow a technique called interactive caregiving. This means involving seniors in daily activities and duties, dependent on the senior’s capabilities. Let the GoGang be part of the solution and do not treat them as a problem.

Some seniors are able to take part with house cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking and other duties, let them do it. In fact, you should encourage them to do it. Above and beyond performing household tasks together, engage in other activities with seniors, such as playing games, going for walks, eating meals together or simply engaging seniors in lively conversations.

When I talk about keeping eyes open by the “GoGang”, I don’t mean about the sleep. Keeping eyes open is not a problem anymore, getting the shut eye is! What happens is that people tend to become a little softer and more emotional as they age. Deteriorating health adds to the problem. All your future income is going to be dependent on the assets that you have when you retire. This is where “GoGang” should become pragmatic.

I will share stories to elaborate what I mean. A famous lady lawyer from Pune, from my parent’s generation and her lawyer husband had a big property with a bungalow. Due to her blind love ( at a later stage she had become blind too!) for the son, she transferred the property in her son’s name. When her husband died, the prodigal son ensured that she was forced to leave home. She finally moved to her daughter’s place and died a broken lady.

A classmate was similarly impractical. His son, unfortunately, went big way into gambling. Our friend initially helped him to come out of his gambling debts. But such debts are like a bottomless pit. The problem became so serious that a couple of years back the retired friend had to sell of his flat where he lived, his only asset; this closed the son’s gambling debts (at that time) but our friend has now landed into a big trouble, he is a nervous wreck and asset less. When I last checked, he had gone to stay with his daughter, who lives in the US! This cannot be a permanent solution due to visa issues. How will he handle life after coming back to India? His initial help to his son was ok but what was the point in selling off the only asset? In the worst-case scenario, the son could have to the jail or maybe I don’t know! But now the whole family is down with zero chance of coming up! What was achieved? That my friends is blind love.

Friends, right from the days you start your family, keep open discussions about finances in your home where thought process emphasized should be that “money is part of life, it is not THE life”! With this thinking there is a possibility that your children will look at the money as a means and not the end! In spite of such thought process and training, it is possible that children may think differently after they get married. Their wives may have grown up with different thinking! Don’t forget that people change, and this includes your children!

What then is the solution? Make a Will! It should be very pragmatic, practical! All assets, fixed and liquid, all jewelry everything to pass on to the spouse who dies later. Make separate Wills for husband and Wife! Then after both the spouses die, make it very clear how the assets are to be distributed. Liquid asset values keep on changing; these should be distributed among children in a ratio starting from 100 to 0%, whatever way you want to do it. The sequence of how this will happen and why distribution is made in a certain way should be clearly explained in the Will! Hopefully, this will avoid bitterness among children. We all love our children but we need to be practical and pragmatic for obvious reasons.

But will transition be peaceful after following the basics? That is million dollar question which has no answer!  Hope that WILL, will find a way!