Meandering!

 

Meandering means following a winding course. This adjective is used for rivers. I saw some beautiful pictures of meandering rivers, on the net and felt like sharing with you! The river water just takes its course following the path of least resistance. Today my thoughts are meandering like the river and jump from one thought to another, just meandering along. In my city Pune, we have two rivers called the Mutha and Mula. Their confluence is within the city. Mutha river has a path which hardly meanders, in fact, the river hardly has any water around the year. I am generous in this description. In any year, there are only 3 to 4 days when it can be called a river; otherwise, it is a stream! This is during monsoons when the upstream dams get full!

Yesterday my day started with a phone call from my friend Shrikant who is holidaying in Spain and Portugal. A rumour had reached him that a dam upstream of the river Mutha had broken, and water was flowing above one of the bridges. Thanks to social media! I told him that there was a breach in the canal which draws water from the dam. The breach had caused flooding in the shanties along the canal, causing damage to homes of many families. As the water kept on coming on a bustling major road, there was a traffic jam in large part of the city. In social media, the breach in the canal got converted into a dam breakage!

Another friend who is currently in the US, sent me a message that I have become old, after reading my blog “What really is Romance?” I sent him🤣🤣 a reply! Dilip and I were classmates, and both are around 70. I was wondering how I suddenly became old with one blog? My definition of romance was together, sharing everything with each other, face life’s tough situations with a smile, together. Just a touch of hand and caress is romance. These are practicalities of life and has nothing to with age Dilip! Personally, I feel that I am around 45, age-wise, when I am in the gym, I feel as if I am 55! Never in my life, yet I have felt my real age around 70. Five years back, I underwent cancer treatment. My health was down for about six months, but during the treatment, my zest for life never went down.

Our Supreme Court has taken five major decision in a short span of the last ten days. The interesting part is that 3 of them involved something related to sex. First one was about the gays. Now gays can openly move around in the society, maybe with their heads high. But I always used to wonder what is normal? A man and woman have a liking for each other, have sex and make babies. As against that two men or two women have liked for each other, have sex and obviously can’t make babies. What is abnormal in that? What is illegal in that? Why their heads had to be down? The gays are made such by nature. Do we mean to say that in “normal” people there are no freaks, there are no perverts, there is no rapist? In fact, rapists are the worst normal persons who go and rape kids, they go and rape even old women of the age of 70 plus.

Next one is about adultery. Finally, the Victorian era seems to be coming to an end – the judgment on Section 497 is progressive in many ways. In the context of changing social realities of our times, especially the transforming gender equations. Justice Chandrachud has cited the violation of Articles 14 and 21, saying that Section 49 perpetuates the subordinate status of women, denies them dignity and sexual autonomy, and is based on gender stereotypes. Previous law said that in the case of adultery if a man had consensual sex with a woman without permission from her husband, he could be arrested. The judgement has removed the criminality from the law, and it is allowing women, sexual autonomy! We are moving with times!

The latest one is about Sabarimala Devasthanam. They did not permit ladies between the age of 10 and 50 to pay their obeisance at the Devasthanam. They declared that women in this age group have their menstrual cycles active hence they are impure! Hence, they should not visit! Men who had taken this decision seem to forget that they came into this world because their mother had an active menstrual cycle and had sex with someone. They are the result of these two so-called impure acts! This is the tact used by men in a patriarchal society to control things the way they wanted it. The court has said that in the democratic nation, rights of individuals are above the so-called traditions which have formed in society and the thought process, which is totally irrelevant today. Some years back, there was an incident. There was a case of theft at Sabarimala, and 35-year DCP came to investigate. To the horror of the priests, the officer was a lady! Of course, she went inside and did her job!

Then there was the famous case of Babri Masjid. Supreme Court has given a decision that the case has nothing to do with religion and should be treated as a civil suit. According to the verdict, it is simply a land dispute case and will be decided based on the evidence available.

The last case is about the so-called intellectuals arrested by Pune police. A big noise was made by intellectuals about freedom of speech and freedom of expression. They claimed that it is a politically motivated case and should be summarily dismissed. Supreme Court has said that there is evidence to prove that these intellectuals were connected with a disbanded Maoist organisation who have various plans, including bringing down the Indian Government by using force! What is it with these intellectuals? They do not say a word when Maoists kill people, last week two MLA’s in Telangana were murdered. Sometimes back 71 security forces were killed in an IED attack. Not a word of protest. These people have been praising terrorists as if they are freedom fighters fighting for India. Under the garb of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, these folks and their followers make statements which an enemy would generally make. When terrorists are killed, these guys write to the Human Rights Commission. But when security forces are brutally kidnapped and murdered, they are away on holiday to cold climes! They are strong followers of communism at its worse, though all over the world communism has died.

Ignorance is bliss they say but is not treating your medical issues on time the right thing to do? Heard this one from a neurologist. The patient was diagnosed for MS, multiple sclerosis. This condition is tough on your body. The doctor further said that this has been going on for five years! Why do people delay going to doctors? The person accompanying the patient mentioned that he also suffered from diabetes, which currently was well controlled. Only thing is that he needs dialysis twice a week, side effect of “controlled diabetes!” Amen!

On a lighter note, thank Mr Trump for starting a trade war with China. Mercedes Benz is now exporting their cars to the USA, from India instead of China! So long….

What really is Romance?

 

This is the old nursery rhyme about the life of Solomon Grundy. It was taught to teach the children about days in the week. But to me, it is also philosophical about the life of humans. On Wednesday Solomon marries and dies on Saturday. The real romance in life is the story about the days from Wednesday to Saturday. Let me explain. The bliss, the glory, the charm of marriage, honeymoon and romance is generally discussed and described like you are watching a movie. Everything is slick and glorious, beautiful people and lovely couples, fantastic locations and oh, the bliss! But it is like only talking about Wednesday from Solomon Grundy’s life when he got married, he had Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in his life too. Real life is vastly different from the film version. It is not a bed of roses. But it is a bed roses, after a storm, when the petals are withered, and thorns are there, ready to pierce your delicate skin!

Come on, I am not cynical. But I am practical and pragmatic. The romance depicted in films is during courtship, marriage, honeymoon and initial phase of marriage. It is only about Wednesday! Arrive the children or thoughts about children, and things become different. At this stage, two distinct things happen. Either children arrive, or the couples are unsuccessful in conceiving; 10% of the couples remain childless, so some adopt and some don’t. Minuscule % decide not to have children as an option. This phase increases complexities of life, ten folds.

From this phase, romance does not go for a toss, but the definition of romance changes and keeps on evolving. The film variety of romance slowly goes for a toss. Career graph goes up, responsibilities go up, children are around, (or couples go into a vicious circle of conceiving) finances become tighter. Thanks to EMI’s. You have a beautiful home, expensive car; chances are that cash remaining, at the end of the month, is not much more than beginning of the career. You go to a mall on Sunday, your older child throws tantrums for some toy. You are trying to manage the child, and the younger one pukes on the mother’s new dress. You cut short your outing, it’s raining outside, somehow you manage to reach the car! Put on the music that the older child loves, not your favourite song, naturally! Younger one finally goes to sleep, while driving, you caress your spouse’s hand! That is the new definition of romance!

After a decade of marriage, if things go well, you don’t need any more proof about the wellness of the situation. What you have instead, is the most deeply romantic thing of all reassurance, that it’s okay to be a human being. Because until you feel absolutely sure that you won’t be abandoned by your partner, you may not be sure that your partner can tolerate you. The smells. The sounds. Continuous need to keep everything neat and proper at home, to keep your life on track! Till you start accepting that some things are going go out of control, you will feel unnerved by your own terrible mortal humanness. Well, we all go through situations that we may not like but become part of our life. But at the end of the day when the war zone has quietened down. You tell your spouse, “Hey, how about some coffee with Geeta Dutt songs?” This is the newer romance, though you know what romance you had in mind has just evaporated for that night!

Wife returns back home, looking tense. Their favourite doggy runs to her, she hugs the doggy, “Oh! You missed mamma, my love!” Picks him up. After a few minutes, she looks at the children and smiles.” How was your day, kids? I am sure, everything was alright?” Children hug her, and she goes to the washroom. Children also missed their mamma! Drinks her glass of water then turns to the husband and without saying anything goes to their bedroom. Husband follows her, kisses her on the forehead and holds her hand. She just says, “I have such back pain, and that idiot boss is giving me a headache.” “I will make you some green tea, love.” Husband goes to the kitchen, smiling. Look at the sequence. All the love was given to the doggy who cannot say anything in return. Children could have thrown tantrums but didn’t, and had tough exams that day. Husband, of course, is at the bottom of the pecking order. He just had been ditched about his promotion at the office. He had the right to make the biggest noise. He had also missed the mamma! But he went into the kitchen to make tea! That my friends are romance!

When couples learn to cope with tough times, survive major crises, you are learning the art of living. As you grow older, you are together less often, and when you are, you have probably forgotten the “filmy” romance. Maybe you use this time to discuss and resolve other issues which have gone on a back burner. Through all these tough calls, you learn to care for each other, support each other, help each other. That my friends is romance.

It is time to go to bed and like two old people you crawl into it. You tell each other about the weird things that your kids said that day and laugh and tell stupid jokes and giggle. Then maybe you feel like making out, but you don’t, or perhaps you feel like solving your crossword puzzle or read a couple of pages of a romantic novel. You say “Hey, your feet are cold why don’t you wear socks?” and “My back hurts,” that’s romantic.  You really hope this romance will last forever. You savour the repetitive, mundane rhythms of survival, and you want to keep surviving. You want to muddle through the messiness of life together as long as you possibly can. That is the peak point of your life. Savour it. That is the very definition of romance.

I am talking of latter stage romance. Someone is dying in the bed, and the spouse is sitting at the bedside, holding the dying person’s hand, and also handling all kinds mundane things that need to be done on a daily basis in our lives, for example, putting away trash and doing the laundry. Just because someone may die in the very near future, these things cannot stop. To me, that’s romance. Romance is surviving, romance is letting life go on in most onerous of the situations. Romance is cooking food in those circumstances and hoping to give the dying person the food loved by that person.

Caring for your partner, supporting each other in tough times, coming out of tough situations in life, knowing that many more such circumstances await in future and showing keenness to achieve normalcy, is romance. With such understanding, your romance will start on Wednesday and last till Sunday from the Solomon Grundy rhyme, the day he was buried!

Marriages are made in heaven!

Marriages are made in heaven but we live our life in this world, on the terra firma! To me, this sentence is created by some smart cookie who is an expert in the blame game. Marriage does not work, blame the heaven’s administration! Simple is it not. But on a serious note, marriages are a union between two people of different sex; this definition has now undergone recently in India as now marriages between two people of the same sex are also legal. Another term used is they are blissfully married. By the time we find dictionary meaning of blissfully, the marriage becomes a routine relationship, a pleasant one if both spouses are sensible, practical people.

Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a socially or ritually recognized union between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between those spouses. It establishes rights and obligations, between them and any resulting biological or adopted children, and  creates affinity. The definition of marriage varies around the world not only between cultures and between religions but also throughout the history of any given culture and religion. It evolves to both expand and constrict in who and what is encompassed, but typically it is principally an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually sexual, are acknowledged or sanctioned. In some cultures, marriage is recommended or considered to be compulsory before pursuing any sexual activity. I know this is 2018, but please don’t laugh!

Enough of theoretical things and definitions. What really is a marriage? I will not delve into complications about marriage between people of same sex for obvious reasons, anyway, “normal” marriages are also complicated. In practical terms it is an event where two people start living together, (I know about live in relationships 🙂🙂) use the same bed, use the same bathroom, once they are comfortable with each other, they are not shy to tell each other that they need to use the bathroom. On a different level, they follow their careers but at the end of the day come to the same home, share the same dining table, though not necessarily the same food, go for movies, go and meet friends some old and many new! Both generally acquire an additional set of parents through marriage, hopefully. They also acquire new sets of aunts, uncles and cousins. With all these changes they are expected to get more joy. In one of my blogs, I had written about the inner circle theory. Husband and wife are in the innermost circle along with parents, to start with, after marriage. When children are born, they come in the inner circle and parents move in the outer circle. This defines the direction in which marriages are expected to move. Oh, yes! I forgot, they openly have sex. If you keep log of all the events in any marriage, sex is almost a footnote, though glorified, not untruly!

What is expected out of a marriage? Love, closeness, close friendship, support, intimacy and many more things that come to mind. The intimacy of couples is the most important aspect but its frequency starts waning as time passes. By intimacy, I don’t mean sex. This aspect gives maximum satisfaction to mind but from what we read, it has the least shelf life in most marriages. Reasons are different but “Honeymoon” period of intimacy is quite limited, pun intended.

What are the reasons for people to marry especially when it is an arranged marriage? Because the girls land is adjoining to yours, his family has a flourishing business, her father was the big farmer in town, or both families are from the same cast or sub-caste. These are reasonable sets of reasons to start with but then comes loneliness, infidelity, abuse, the hardness of heart and shouts due to reason “who should attend to the baby at 3 AM”! The reasonable marriage is not reasonable to start with!  It is based on thought processes prevalent in the society. Hence though we think in terms of bliss due to initial euphoria, on a practical level marriage is a different animal.

The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. As the time passes, thoughts come in mind that one has married a wrong person! Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true definition of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition. There is never a right person but at best there can the best or the least wrong person!

We need to exchange the romantic view for awareness, that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will in return do the same to them. This can end up in our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to, is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for. Is his smoking more acceptable to you than drinking? Is her sense of bold dressing acceptable to you or is her not mixing with your family more acceptable to you? Every single person has his or her quirks. It is how each one handles them in a marriage, maturely, decides the success of the marriage.

In my blog “Tit for Tat” I have suggested “out of box” interpretation of the saying. During any difference of opinion, which happen in plenty in “matured” marriages, taking a step back, saying sorry sincerely or any re-conciliatory measure should be openly accepted, with “tat” doubling the efforts to diffuse the situation. That to me is a blissful marriage. Once the honeymoon phase in the relationship is over, what we have is brass-tacks. Does the husband share some routine chores in the home? Does wife take up some of the “Man type” of work? If both are professionals do both take an equal load in basic things like routine purchases, taking children to doctors, changing diapers, with a smiling face, as the wife has to go for an urgent meeting.

We marry, to make a nice feeling permanent. We think that the joy of proposing someone on the beach with the Sun setting, later going for a lovely wine and dinner, will continue in our lives all the time. At that time, we tend to feel that we are the only couple who has achieved such level of happiness, such a bliss. Based on this lovely thinking we marry and expect the sensation to remain permanent in our lives. In that frame of mind, we tend to forget that there is no real connection between that lovely feeling and the institution of marriage!

Marriage is the most universal relationship but it is one of the toughest one. Marriage is the only relationship where all the details, which are unknown to others, about the spouse, are known to the other spouse. It includes bodily functions, fears, habits, insecurities, fear of the unknown. As the real intimacy, other than sex, comes into  picture, one may get a feeling, in most cases, that we have married a wrong person. But friends, that is not true. It is how you accommodate each other’s unknown quirks, let me assure you both spouses have them, it is how you start taking things in stride, you may become a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian to accommodate your spouse. As the saying goes, with the intimacy, closeness is automatically created. But in most cases there are ups and owns, mostly downs! Someone may feel that the grass is greener on the side. But when you go to the other side, you may find that the grass was the greenest on your side. You never marry a wrong person, you simply are not able to take things in stride. From a little distance, every person seems fine, but post marriage and intimacy, you know the real person warts and all! Happy blissful married life!

शुभास्ते पंथानः संतु! May the tough road of marriage be auspicious to you!

Tit for Tat!

These adjectives Good, Bad and Ugly are used to describe humans and their nature. Our world is made up of a combination of interactions between the humans and nature. We humans think that we know a lot about nature but we understand our shortcomings when nature shows its true nature or colours, once in a while. When we talk of nature, we talk about natural things! Nature has not changed much in millions of years, barring temperature and rain in certain areas. The variations that we see are more about the intensity and ferociousness. Otherwise, nature is reasonably predictable. It is we humans who are causing the nature to change with our indiscretions and indiscipline.

But humans? No, they are the most unpredictable lot! Good, Bad and Ugly are the basic words to describe human nature. We need many variations, different words in trying to describe the human nature. Human and Nature are two contradictory words that are always used together. Human nature changes with situations, with life experiences that are good, bad or ugly! The predictability about nature is easy but predicting human nature is 70 to 80% correct.

Whenever humans interact there is one important mix in it, the emotions. Very similar situations are seen by the same human in different ways, depending on the emotions at that time. This also depends on the nature of the group of people or the clans they are from. A small brushing of two vehicles in traffic are treated differently. The scientific name for this event is road rage! Such incidents in North India can result in a murder (UGLY) whereas it can lead to a bit of argument elsewhere. (BAD) Personally, if it is not my error, someone bumping into you from behind, I simply ignore the incident. (GOOD)  Why does this happen? During the last 500 years, there have been many attacks on us. Brunt for these attacks was always borne by northern people. This probably has made them aggressive but the aggression erupts out in the wrong situations, even today. Is it written in their DNA to take revenge, get into fighting mode? Is it happening because the old stories or war and fights and battles are told to the child during their bringing up? Are they taught tit for tat during childhood?

Tit for tat means an equivalent given in retaliation. It is very easy to interpret this as a revenge or giving back. But if we think about the term tit for tat out of the box, there can be a positive interpretation of this term. Supposing there is a dispute going on between two entities. One entity suddenly realizes the folly of the whole situation and takes a step back, a step towards reconciliation, a step towards settlements, a step to resolution. To me, since tit for tat means equivalent given in retaliation, the other entity should also take a step back and try to diffuse the situation, resolve the issue.

In the real world, it is called common sense, in politics, it is called diplomacy, in love, it is called love. In love, there is no reason to give tit for tat, if at all you want to do it, do it by giving more love in return. In friendship, of course, there is nothing like sorry or thank you, so there is no tit for tat. There are many teachings, many examples from Bhagwad Gita and discourse of Lord Krishna but we still follow tit for tat. For example, when Arjuna gets depressed to start the war with his dear ones, Lord Krishna tells him to follow the “Kshatriya Dharma”! No religion tells you to give tit for tat in the sense of revenge.

World and life are never fair to any of us. We have to accept life as it comes, we have to accept our destiny. When we see people in limelight, people succeeding in life, we think that it has been the bed of roses for them all through their lives. But when we read more details about them, when we find more information about them, we know that life is more or less same for all as far as fairness is concerned.

Friends given below is a conversation between Lord Krishna and Karna. I found it very interesting and gives us a deep insight into the philosophy of life. It talks of the better side of the idiom, tit for tat! It says life is unfair to everybody only we do not know about it. The degree of unfairness may differ. Krishna suggests to Karna to stop cribbing and says that unfairness does not anybody give license to behave badly!

Karna asks Lord Krishna – “My mother left me the moment I was born. Is it my fault I was born an illegitimate child?”

Lord Krishna replies, “Karna, I was born in a jail. Death was waiting for me even before my birth. The night I was born I was separated from my birth parents.”

At birth, Krishna’ plight was worse than that of Karna. 

Karna says further, “I did not get the education from Dhronacharya because I was considered a non-Kshatriya. Parshuram taught me but then gave me the curse to forget everything, at the wrong moment, since I was a Kshatriya.”

Lord Krishna Replies, “From childhood, you grew up hearing the noise of swords, chariots, horses, bow, and arrows. I got only cow herd’s shed, dung, and multiple attempts on my life even before I could walk! No army, no education. I could hear people saying I am the reason for all their problems. When all of you were being appreciated for your valour by your teachers I had not even received any education. I joined gurukul of Rishi Sandipani only at the age of 16!”

This indicates how tough it was for Krisha to get his basic education about warfare! 

Karna is still not satisfied and asks Lord Krishna, “A cow was accidentally hit by my arrow & its owner cursed me for no fault of mine. I was disgraced in Draupadi’s swayamvar. Even my mother Kunti, finally told me the truth only to save her other sons. Whatever I received was through Duryodhana’s charity. So how am I wrong in taking his side?”

Lord Krishna smiles and says, “You are married to a girl of your choice. I didn’t get the girl I loved & rather ended up marrying those who wanted me or the ones I rescued from demons. I had to move my whole community from the banks of Yamuna to far off Seashore to save them from Jarasandh. I was called a coward for running away!! If Duryodhana wins the war you will get a lot of credit. What do I get if Dharmaraja wins the war? Only the blame for the war and all related problems….

For Karna Life has been a little fairer than to Krishna!

Lord Krishna says further. “Remember one thing, Karna. Everybody has challenges in life. LIFE IS NOT FAIR TO ANYBODY!!! Duryodhana also has a lot of unfairness in life and so has Yudhhishthir.”

Then he tells life’s philosophy!  

“But what is Right (Dharma) is known to your mind (conscience). No matter how much unfairness we got, how many times we were disgraced, how many times we were denied what was due to us, what is important is how you REACTED at that time.

Stop whining Karna. Life’s unfairness does not give you license to walk the wrong path…

Always remember, Life may be tough at a point, but DESTINY is not created by the SHOES we wear but by the STEPS we take…”

To me, this advice is so true to today’s India!

Pramod the Feng Shui Guru!

Feng Shui (simplified Chinese: 风水; traditional Chinese: 風水, pronounced [fə́ŋ.ʂwèi]), also known as Chinese geomancy, is a pseudoscience originating from China, which claims to use energy forces to harmonise individuals with their surrounding environment. The term Feng Shui literally translates as “wind-water” in English.  Feng Shui is one of the Five Arts of Chinese Metaphysics, classified as physiognomy (observation of appearances through formulas and calculations). The Feng Shui practice discusses architecture in terms of “invisible forces” that bind the universe, earth, and humanity together, known as qi.

The title of the blog is sensational, and I am sure none of you will believe it. But you will understand the real meaning of this title, soon. To me, getting advised by Feng Shui or Vastu Shastra are means to achieve what everybody is looking for as ultimate joy and peace in this world! Enjoy the lovely monsoon drizzle, be excited to see the group of children screaming and running, get blessed with a hot Cuppa on a winter morning, get drunk on meeting friends without alcohol, be contented with boiled and salted corn, get lost looking at an old Madhubala song, all smiles! Burp on a stomach full of home food, feel the ultimate joy of gazing at snow-clad Himalayan peaks, feel eager to reach sweet home at the end of a tour of Italy or whatever is your dream destination, feel lucky that maestros like Sachin Tendulkar and A R Rehman were around in your lifetime. Feel eager to go to work every day, buy fresh palak subji on way back from office because the better half loves it, feel lucky that you are born in a lovely family and living in a great city, enjoy the feeling that you married the bestest person in the world. If you already have this feeling about your life, without “experts” prodding you to do them if you are always contented with the life as you have it, you have a house which is your sweet home, you are already there! Have you now understood the meaning of the title “Pramod the Feng Shui Guru!”

This subject came to my mind not because I am a believer in these things, in fact, I am very much against such thought processes. I read a story written by anonymous using Feng Shui as a subject. A person, who was a non-believer had decided to buy and decorate his dream home; in its compound was a beautiful fruit-bearing tree. Naturally, some branches were protruding outside the premises, and some fruits were always  “borrowed” by kids outside. His friends suggested that he invite a Feng Shui expert from Hongkong, though he was a non- believer.  The Guru agreed to come; he was picked up from the airport, and our friend went to pick him up personally. While driving the car, he would always allow other vehicles to overtake, when they looked in a hurry! Later in a small lane, a child came running on the road, suddenly. Our friend stopped, he did not start the car immediately. The Guru asked him, why are you not moving. Our friend said, “Children always run in pairs when excited. I am waiting for the other child.” In came the other child. The Guru was astonished. After reaching home, they had lunch in the garden under the fruit tree. The Guru heard some commotion. Our friend said, “Some children are “borrowing” the fruits, my security is still getting used to NOT reacting.”

After lunch and some rest, they started the discussion. Guru said, “You don’t need Feng Shui for your home. When our minds prioritize others’ peace and happiness, the one who benefits is not just others, but ourselves too. When a person is considerate of others at all times, then this person has unconsciously accomplished sainthood. The saint is, in fact, a person who through benefiting others becomes enlightened. You are a person who has already reached the level above what Feng Shui can achieve. I am flying back tomorrow and of course, No fees. I have already earned my fees by meeting you.”

This my friends is Feng Shui or Vastu Shastra or whatever you, want to call it. People do many things to achieve peace, comfort and joy in their lives; they feel that the Gurus will tell them how to do it. Do we really need to be told by someone to be considerate of others? Why should somebody guide us to do these things? We read many books, we go to Mandirs and Masjids and Churches to achieve inner peace. Do we really need to go there? Being considerate, being polite, being nice and finally being content is something that should come from within, it is like going to the prayers.

As a curiosity, I read something more about Feng Shui. It says remove clutter for good Feng Shui. Really? Do we need an expert to say this? Will you like to live in a home where there is clutter? We have a rule in our home. If we buy something as a replacement, we make sure that the old stuff is given away before the new thing arrives. It is common sense. I saw in someone’s house, two microwave ovens on top of each other. I was told that the old one was damaged, 3 years back and they would get it repaired!

Get good quality air and light in homes! Is it not obvious? Try staying in cold countries in winter, windows are always sealed, and shut, and sunlight availability is very poor during those months. Then it talks of Kua number, positive energy. Find your Feng Shui birth element; are we talking to a palmist? It talks about keeping wooden furniture in certain directions of the home. Vastu Shastra talks of positions and directions. What does this achieve?

Assume that there is a square building with four flats on each floor. The direction of Sunlight is fixed. So how can the same Shastra be applied to diagonally opposite flats? I live on the seventh floor, our flat is facing west. How can any Shastra tell me that the position of something should be such that I will get morning Sun? I never get morning Sunlight in my home, ever. From my floor upwards, the winds from the west are lovely and sometimes very strong. How can the same wind and second half sunlight be available on the first floor flat?

Are Feng Shui and Vastu Shastra and their variants sciences? If you try to analyze scientifically, you may find many issues yourself. Of course, in homes, while constructing there can be some scientific errors. The experts will give the advice to break walls and windows based on their Shastra. One may do the same corrections under the guidance of architects or civil engineers. My friend had an office in a big square hall.  Along the walls, there were a few cabins for seniors. Once I went to meet him for a cup of coffee. The whole office looked like a war zone. Everything was broken, and right in the centre of the office, a circular cabin was being created. The boss’s office! Vastu Shastra was in full swing! I, of course, did not ask him any questions about the activity, just had my coffee which was lovely!

Why do people follow things blindly? What is the meaning of faith? In such situations, the cliché fits perfectly. Common sense is so uncommon! I have seen normally smart people following such advice. To me, it is a sophisticated way of following superstitions!

By the way, I am starting a website www.pramodguruFengShui.com . I am giving below photos of stuff that we will sell online. 20% discount on pre-booking. 😊😊

 

So long farewell, we too say Goodbye!

The link below is a song from the famous 1965 English movie, “Sound of Music.” The situation for the song is appropriate; there is a party going on at home, and the father expects the children to withdraw and go to sleep. I love this song; hence I am sharing the link for you.

In our lives, we also say farewell to people, situations, and homes. It is part of life and happens in the case of most of us. Sometimes we do so with knowledge, but sometimes we do it without realising it. The question will come in mind, “How do we do it without realising?” I did it without realising. After my first-year science year at Elphinstone College in Bombay, I moved to the college hostel at Churchgate in Mumbai. It was a natural recourse as my father was transferred outside Bombay. One beautiful day I entered the hostel, all bag, and baggage! Little did I realise that I had left my home, as I had known it forever. Our sister was married at that time, my parents, my elder brother, and I were our family. The same year my brother moved to the United States. So, the family, as we knew it, was reduced to only my parents!

I was all of 17 years old, and never realised the significance of my moving to the hostels. I completed my Inter-Science, moved from Elphinstone College Hostels to COEP Hostel in Pune. While in COEP I met Jaya, we got married after finishing my first degree and rest as they say is history. Did I realise the significance of moving to the hostel at Elphinstone College? Did I know that I will never go back “home”? Was I mentally prepared for that move? Was I mature enough to think in those terms? Honestly, I did not have that maturity; I did not have a clue! Studies were the last priority in those days, but we had a Parsee friend in hostels taking the Arts course; he made us study to ensure that we could get ourselves admitted to engineering courses. But we did have some students who had a tough time adjusting to life outside the warmth of their homes. I made one life long friend Sharad while at Telang Hostel!

In retrospection, did I miss something? Yes, of course, I did. I miss my father, especially as he died relatively early at the age of 63 when I was 31.  I was busy setting up my family and my home. My father was a person who would call a spade a spade; this trait I have picked up from him. He used to like to pun, would make some while chatting, another trait that I picked up from him. I once remember him pulling legs of his younger brother, bhau. My uncle, bhaukaka, in those days used to wear hard contact lenses; once, he was having difficulty wearing them.

My father coolly told him, “Bhau, why do not you wear glasses first so that you will be able to see where you are putting your lenses”! I would have laughed wholeheartedly, but due to the respect of the elderly, I only smiled looking at my father. He was supposedly adamant outwardly, but Jaya and I had an excellent rapport with him. Jaya was the first professional lady working in our family, and my father was supportive of her, always. When Jaya received a UN scholarship for an MS degree in the US, she asked my father if she can take this opportunity. Our son was six years old at that time. My father told her, “What is there to ask? Just go. Why do you think we are here?” Unfortunately, he died within three months of Jaya going to the US. I was lucky that my mother lived to be with us for the next 25 years. When I ruminate about leaving home in 1966, I always feel that I missed out on my father’s company. But the “If-Else” scenario is a double-edged weapon. If I had not left home in 1966, then I would not have met Jaya!

Till the end of the first half of the last century, life was relatively straightforward, not as dynamic as today. One was born and brought up in a town or a village. He lived in the same home as ancestors, either owned or rented. Went to school, going to college was not quite common in those days. He took up some work that was available, married, procreated, and died. There was not much change in their lives. If at all there was any migration, only the breadwinner would move to a more significant town or city, but the family would stay behind.  So, there were hardly any So Longs, Alvida or Sayonara!

My niece’s son got admitted to IIT ten years back. The day he was to move to IIT, we were with them in Bombay. I asked the kid, “Do you understand the significance of today?” He said, “Yes, I am joining IIT!” I said, “That is not what is important. Starting today, when you come to this place, which just now is your home, you will come with your bag as a guest. After your education, you will move elsewhere for further education. Then settle there and will get married and …..” I am sure if he reads this blog, he will remember what I had said. He works in Tesla in the US and is getting married in November!

In life, there are many other situations where “so long” situations come up. These are when you change your job when you retire, and another common situation that is coming up in people’s lives is divorce. In all these situations, the decision is not sudden. Yes, and we change homes too! I will share a small anecdote about home changing. A friend of my daughter met me once, and while chatting asked me where we lived. Then I told him about our home changes. He said, “You seem to be very cool about changing homes. My father still thinks of our Bombay home, which we left 30 years back, and he still feels unsettled.”

When you change jobs, it is an ongoing thing, and we generally know at least a couple of months before we change the position. Job change could result in a new job, starting your business, or moving to another country. In this situation, the relations that you have formed are not very deep, but for a small duration, we may feel a little uneasy. During one such job, I met a friend who became my life-long friend, Dilip; he unfortunately died last year. But such occurrences are infrequent. When you move to a foreign country, it is both an exciting and challenging call. Exciting for obvious reasons, but the tough call is because we are going to get cut off from our roots. Modern communication helps you reduce the distance, virtually, but there is no replacement for physical proximity. The “so long” is emotional because you are going to be far from your near and dear ones, your friends, and your daily smells and daily noises!

Even more challenging “so long” must be the case where couples divorce each other. Challenging situations are the reality of life and cannot be ignored. This number is increasing; during the process of divorce, the couples, I am sure, have a lot of hatred with each other. Then there will be aspects of money, children and many other vital aspects of life. So, I shudder to think as there may not be any “so long” after such a close relation!

The retirement phase, of course, must be a real emotional phase because you get cut off from whatever you were doing every day for 40 years, you get cut off from the very same people with whom you have been meeting day in and day out! I have now semi-retired, and I have gone through this phase recently. Everything else is manageable except the emotional part, but I think time heals everything.

Toughest, of course, is the final parting with this world! But there is a silver lining to this. You do not have to say “so long” as you do not get time to do so! You also do not know whether people miss you or they are happy that you are gone! 😊😊

Alvida, for now! Do not you worry; I am not going anywhere!

Lazy or Innovative!

 

TwoThumbsTyping

Humans always want to do things differently and easily. We say that fashions come back in circles every 30 years! But pictorial writing took a few thousand years to come back! Are humans lazy or innovative? From pre-historical days, we’ve learned to talk, we’ve learned to write, but we’re only now learning to write at the speed of talking (i.e., text), sending messages. If you are talking to someone face-to-face, you don’t need an additional word or symbol to express “I’m smiling” because you would be smiling. Research determined way back in the 1950s that only 7 per cent of communication is verbal (what we say), while 38 per cent is vocal (how we say it) and 55 per cent is nonverbal (what we do and how we look while we’re saying it). This is good for face-to-face communication, but when we’re texting/WApping, the hypothesis goes for a toss. 93 per cent of our communicative tools are out of the picture.

In came Emojis! Emojis were born from the mind of a single man: Shigetaka Kurita, an employee at the Japanese telecom company NTT Docomo. Back in the late 1990s, the company was looking for a way to distinguish its pager service from its competitors in a very tight market. Kurita hit on the idea of adding simplistic cartoon images to its messaging functions as a way to appeal to teens. The emoji means, “picture words”—were designed by Kurita, using a pencil and paper, and were inspired by Japanese pictorial sources, like Manga (Japanese comic books) and Kanji ­(Japanese characters borrowed from written Chinese). I always had this feeling that Emojis show a feel of Japanese/Chinese characters, and now I have come to know that I was not wrong.

These 176, initial crude symbols became very popular, and Japanese Telecom adopted them. These were used only in Japan.  Apple put these characters in iPhone in 2007 for phones to be sold in Japan; it was meant for Japanese youth and was hidden deep down in software layers. But tech-savvy users in the US found these Emojis and then it was only a question of high-speed proliferation. Now even people above 80 are using WhatsApp and use Emojis very comfortably. In a survey in 2013, it was found that 73% of people in the USA and 82% of people in China were using Emojis in their communications. There is one interesting thing I have observed about Emojis. Since the faces shown in them are basically based on comic books, there is hardly any angry Emoji! Using Emojis, people can love, feel sad, feel elated, but it becomes difficult to hate or feel angry using Emojis!

The meaning of Emojis interpreted in different areas of the world are flexible, and that is the real beauty of it. Is🙏🙏 an Emoji that is interpreted as Namaskar (Hindu Greeting) in our part of the world. But in the western world, it is interpreted as High Five! If one needs to discuss or comment on something serious, the best solution is face to face talk, next best is Emojis and third place goes to the written text. These not very professional looking cartoons are instantly recognisable, which makes them understandable even across linguistic barriers. Yet the implications of emoji—their secret meanings—are constantly in flux, they keep on changing. The written language is often clumsy or awkward or problematic, for personal communications, especially when it’s sent using tiny screens, tapped out in real-time.

airport-signs-11109624

The beginning of writing started with pictorial drawing and their interpretation. First, written symbols that began in our lives are pictures. Pictograms—i.e. pictures of real things, like a drawing of the sun—were the very first elements of written communication, found in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and China. From pictograms, which are literal representations, we moved to logograms, which are symbols that stand-in for a word ($, for example) and ideograms, which are pictures or symbols that represent an idea or abstract concept. Modern examples of ideograms include the person-in-a-wheelchair symbol that universally communicates accessibility and the red-hand symbol at a pedestrian crossing that signals not “red hand” but “stops.”

One thing is sure that pictures, emojis have a definite advantage over written communication. I will tell you how I got confused in Germany, way back in 1984. I had gone to West Germany at those times. I was travelling back to the place of my stay in a small town called Menden, using the train system. I was required to change the trains at a couple of places. I saw one railway employee with a tag, “Information”. I was happy. Finally, I found someone speaking English!  I went to the railway employee to seek directions. Later I came to know that Information in German is pronounced as, Information! The person said, “Ich spreche kein Englisch”, which I assumed as “I don’t speak English” He held my hand, took me to the correct platform and pointed to me the direction! No Emojis!

 JoyEmoji

The Joy Emoji shown above is referred to as “Face With Tears of Joy.” or “The LOL Emoji” (Emojis don’t have official names, just nicknames created by their users). It dates back, in North America, to roughly 2011, when Apple put a readily accessible Emoji keyboard in iOS 5 for the iPhone. Which means that in a few years, Face With Tears of Joy ­vanquished the 3,000-year-old symbol “~” called Tilde, which is at the top left-hand corner of our keyboard. Tilde is used as a symbol for approximation. Let me tell you briefly about ~! It was one of the most common symbols used in written language for a long time but was overtaken by LOL in three years! That is the power of Emojis!

Then comes the issue, are Emojis the right way to communicate? I think so because when we communicate with each other on social media, it is more of an informal discussion. In our lives now, social media communications are very large in volume. Formal work or business-related communication is still a letter or an email! You may send an informed consent for a purchase order on WA, but will end with, “Purchase Order follows”.  Of course, there are personal feuds or lover’s tiffs that can happen on WhatsApp. Now I have passed that stage, but had WA been available in my younger days, I would rather have used  Emojis. If I had to show my displeasure, I would have used 😕☹😒 instead of saying, “I am unhappy or sad because you said blah blah on the phone!” This one sentence would lead to so much more exchange, of initially tough words, and maybe then harsh words. 🙂🙂

Spelling mistakes or deliberate spelling errors are part of communication. ध चा मा is a famous historical saying in Maratha history during the time of Peshwas. There was an order to धरा someone, means capture someone. ध चा मा means the letter ध was replaced by मा. The order became मारा, someone, means kill someone! Don’t be under the misconception that such errors can’t happen while replying using Emoji. The following Emojis are next to each other on the keyboard,👏👄.  A young man wanted to appreciate what his female boss had achieved. By mistake, he sent 👄 EMoji instead of👏. This was before, “delete message” facility in WhatsApp. Sheepishly he went to the boss to apologise. His boss said, “Meet me in the evening!” The office was almost empty when he went to her cabin. He was shocked when his boss replied to him with,😘😘 in person! Boss is always right!

Downsize!

The word downsize is used while discussing a company or a business or economy. This generally happens because of the economic downturn. Things can get “upsized” if companies are properly downsized when needed. Downsize means you reduce the workforce, you stop doing the less productive activity. I had heard about this term being applied to our life too, in the USA. Post-retirement when you get older, you downsize. It meant that if you had a bungalow, sell it off and move to an apartment or a condo. Managing many things beyond a certain age becomes tricky and sometimes it is not cost effective.

As we grow older, we need to live within our corpus (sometimes it may not be big enough too!) Our physical and mental capacities reduce. We tend to be a little more conservative as we are aware of the non-growing corpus and want to be more careful so that we can handle future unplanned emergencies. After a certain age, things that we could handle naturally and easily, start looking difficult and unmanageable. One of the foremost aspects is the socializing and social commitments.

Can we keep the pace of the old times? Do we have the physical and mental strength to handle them? In the context of US society, managing your bungalows becomes a tough call beyond a certain age. This is because lawn mowing, trimming of flower beds, weed removal all such things are required to be done. With a fixed corpus, this can go beyond means for many in their society. In India, luckily manpower costs are much more manageable. But as our abilities start tapering off, management of everything becomes a tough call.

I know of someone, a lady, who loves to follow the tradition of “Gauri-Ganapati”, yearly welcoming the deities of Gauri and Ganapati at home. This activity needs a lot of coordination, logistics and planning. During this celebration, friends are invited to pay obeisance to the deities, followed by sumptuous food. All this has been overwhelming as a lot of small details need to be handled. Even when you were younger it was tough. This lady, who is around 70, has found it even tougher and her mind is a bit confused, now. She has slowed down, and it appears that both her walking and thinking has slowed down proportionately but thinking is more degenerated!

Recently during this process, she looked a bit confused and by the time the first day’s festivities were over, she looked very tired and disoriented. She did not get into panic attack mode but she looked on the verge of it. When asked if she were unwell in the previous week, she was not. This indicated that the event overwhelmed her so much that things appeared reasonably out of control. In younger times too, she was not much of an organizer; at the end of the ceremony, she declared she is not going to have the festivities at home, next year. Well, she still could have it, low key, if she wants but she probably does not want to compromise on processes and traditions. What is the right, low key or doing nothing? I do not know but I would rather have it, low key. To me, downsizing does not mean withdrawing from life.

I know of a family who has been committed to social circuits. A minimum of 3 to 4 programs a week parties, home or away. Once in a while, they share, that now they can’t handle this. I suggested to them to slow down and cut down engagements to once a week. The lady finds it very difficult with lesser “load”! Husband is better off in the new situation. Why do people need to be so much social? Is it to show off? Is it that husband and wife cannot spend time together, do they always need to have others for the company?

Jaya and I have almost always gone on our holidays ourselves, never felt the need to have some company. While downsizing, people should try and learn to be with themselves but at the same time, now I am making a conflicting statement, get to know more people. What I mean is when you are on a busy social circuit, you may have the pressure to be present at the party, come what may! (e.g. attending Rotary Club meetings) It seems that the Rotary club allows you to “attend” meetings even if you are in Timbuktu or a small town in Venezuela! Yes, you get to know new people, or do you? If there is a language barrier how will you “meet” people? About my conflicting statement above, “get to know more people”. By this what I mean is that during this new phase you should try and talk to strangers while you are in a shop or a mall. Why not? Don’t be apprehensive! This will give something to look forward to, at the same time, you will be able to come out of “you may have the pressure to be present, come what may” phase of life!

During the downsizing phase, try to learn new things. It may be physical or maybe brain churning. Learning how to use WhatsApp can become a tough activity for people who feel technologically challenged. But once you have learned it, it can become a great way to stay in touch with people. Try using the internet and internet banking! Money transactions remain part of our life till our last day on the Terra Firma! Of course, someone else will have to pay your last hospital bill!! In younger days, all the payments etc were managed as easily as driving a vehicle; those were never a problem in those days.

But at the same time, if you want to withdraw cash, don’t use an ATM, go to the bank! You will meet some people there. Don’t order everything online, go to mom and pop stores next door, simply to meet people. Another thing, I would suggest is to try to learn reading from the screens! Yes, the Hard Cover books and the paperbacks, have their own charm! But going to bookshops can be a problem. If the letter size is small it can again become tricky. Insufficient light can also create an issue while reading books. Use the screen means use a Tablet or a Kindle, to read books. You can change the brightness, you can increase the font size too! Don’t get stuck into the phrase, “In our times…” In our time’s things were different but if better options are available, use them. You can write about your experiences using computers, not necessarily to share with others. Do this writing for the purpose of reminiscence, for your own self. Try doing it, you will find it amazing that you have so many memories with you, like the hidden files on the computer.

Friends, I can go on and on and on! But I don’t want you to call me a boring old man! I will sign off with something which tells you the gist of what I am saying. My daughter and her husband are permanently moving to Canada in six to eight months. Their formalities are completed. A friend had come to our home, for Ganapati darshan, the other day. Our Ganapati idol is an eco-friendly idol made of Silver; we never follow the immersion process as done by others! I told my friend, our Ganapati has also got his Canadian PR! He will travel with my daughter to Canada next year! He was a bit surprised! Be practical! This puts downsizing on auto-pilot mode! You can always start something new and less challenging!

Mind Over Matter!

Mind over matter means the use of willpower to overcome physical problems. But I am not going strictly by definition.

In my younger days, I used to eat Paan (Betel Leaf) regularly. Many times, it would so happen that I just could not fall asleep after eating betel leaf, maybe some ingredients from Paan would take over my mind. But this happens otherwise also. On some days my mind works in overdrive; every few minutes new thoughts come to my mind. I toss and turn for an hour or an hour and a half. The speed with which my mind works is unbelievable. What is it that makes one’s mind work furiously? What is it that puts mind on idle? But this phenomenon can also be put to good use. As I was musing about this, many examples came to mind. 

Recently my daughter Priya went for a training program to Hyderabad. She was leaving her four-year-old daughter with the family, naturally. This was her first such journey without her daughter. There were more tears in the eyes of the mother than in those of her daughter. Priya had prepared her daughter with the idea that she will travel. So, her daughter’s mind took over the matter and she was ok. After Priya came back, I told her that this was the real-life example of mind over matter. This was a very simple example but we have read of many complex distress situations where mothers have shown extraordinary efforts to help their kids to be saved from dangerous situations, by making physical efforts way beyond normal human strength. A child stuck underneath a car or child precariously stuck on a tree! Researchers have found no explanation besides Mind Over Matter (MOM). 

The placebo effect is a well-known treatment in the medical field. It is a well-proven fact that during treatment of diseases, certain % of patients get well without medication. The doctors offer patients a very simple tablet like calcium tablet or a paracetamol to treat difficult diseases. I know of my colleague for the last 20 years, who gets anxiety and panic attacks, sometimes because of stress in family life and sometimes situations, even he can’t explain. He gets palpitations, increased heart rate, numbness in limbs and so on. I have guided him to the best of physicians and neuro physicians in Pune. They check all sorts of things like ECG and the stuff as a precautionary step. But they always conclude the same, almost zero problems. He is given a placebo and “gets well” in a day or two. That he is a hypochondriac adds to the complexity! But his symptoms are real! The placebo effect is getting proven more strongly day by day. Pharma industry is going through a big churning because simple bland tablets are curing the patients instead of their costly medicines. Just the thought of being treated by a good doctor cures patients.

It seems counterintuitive that increasing numbers of people are claiming to put a greater effort into exercising and eating a nutritious diet, yet there are more obese people in the world than ever before. Some researchers think that positivity is a missing variable in the weight loss equation, and a lack of it is what’s keeping people chubby. An exercise was conducted on a group of hotel maids, all of them were overweight. After discussing with them, researchers found that these maids used to do a lot of physical work every day. But all of them somehow had a perception that they were not doing enough exercise. They were then divided into two groups. One group was told that their daily physical activity was studied and found to be more than recommended by doctors. The other group was not told anything. A month later, the research team returned to the hotel and reevaluated the maids. They found an overall decrease in systolic blood pressure, weight, and waist-to-hip ratio in the informed group. The other group had no significant physical changes. The researchers concluded that the maids had not made any changes in their work pattern but the their “information” somehow created a positivity in their mind and it started working on their bodies.  

There is a classic story of a young athletic woman from Newyork. She used to go jogging every day in the Central Park in Newyork. Some area in the central park can be lonely, sometimes. Worst misfortune hit the lady. She was caught by surprise, attacked and brutally raped. They found her after some time and was rushed to a hospital in the unconscious state. She was in the same state after three days. A doctor was checking her on the fourth day. The lady suddenly sat up for a minute or so. She was disoriented but she asked the doctor, “Where are my jogging shoes?” He was a smart doctor, he realized that there was a strong lady and in spite of the trauma, she was more concerned about her shoes. He told his family to get the shoes to the hospital and kept them in such a way that she would see them every time she opened her eyes. She came of out of unconscious state after a week or so but every time she “woke up” she would ask the same question about shoes. She became normal in two months and started jogging again. The doctor explained to the family that the lady was a fighter and had a very strong mind. So even during the trauma, she was more concerned about her jogging and she could put rape behind!  

In the Indian city of Hyderabad, a family has taken up an activity as social work. They claim that they have knowledge of a medicinal paste which cures Asthma. They give it only during some special auspicious days (according to them). A small issue is that they put it in the body of a small fish. The fish needs to be swallowed. Hundreds of thousands of people, from all over, go there during those days, including many vegetarians. After all, it is supposed to cure the Asthma. The patient needs to look up and fish is shoved down the patient’s throat. I can imagine the thoughts going through a vegetarian patient’s mind. Does it work? Honestly, I do not know. I am not aware of statistics. But I am sure it must be working as the placebo. I checked with a friend of mine who visits Hyderabad for this purpose, regularly. When I asked him, “Does the treatment work? Is it really effective?” He is a pretty normal guy, normally. He said, “Of course, it works”. So, I asked him, “Then why to go every year?” He looked at me, now we are not in touch with each other after my question. Placebo, maybe!    

Mind over Matter (MOM) is a real phenomenon and it makes humans achieve many things which physically may never have been possible, except for MOM! 

Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius is a South African sprint runner and a convicted murderer. Both of Pistorius’ legs were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old. He got artificial limbs for him became a Paralympic champion,  At the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, Pistorius became the first amputee to win a non-disabled world track medal. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Pistorius became the first double-leg amputee to participate in the Olympic Games.  His photo is shown below.

MOM anybody? Yes, it is the real phenomenon and does amazing things for the humans! 

Pistorius

 

 

 

 

 

Nisi Nisi Bonum!

The Latin phrases De mortuis nihil nisi bonum and De mortuis nil nisi bene [dicendum] (“Of the dead, [say] nothing but good”) indicate that it is socially inappropriate to speak ill of the dead. As a mortuary aphorism, De mortuis. . . . derives from the Latin sentence De mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est (“Of the dead nothing but good is to be said”), which also is abbreviated as Nil nisi bonum. In English are often used some aphorisms, which include: “Speak no ill of the dead”, “Of the dead, speak no evil”, and “Do not speak ill of the dead”.

It is the social norm, and it is generally followed, but it made me think why is it so? To me, this thought process is out of sync with general thoughts. What happens if the dead person is evil? Just because the person is dead should we sing paeans of praise for that person? Each has pluses and minuses in the personality. Some traits are going to be good, and some are bad. Again, there can be a controversy. About good and evil, there can be two opinions. A person may be aggressive at work, but someone will call the person pushy! A person may be called an introvert, but some persons are happy in their own company or are very open only in a close group. Such traits remain hidden from others. But in many people traits are well defined either good one or the bad ones.

What exactly is speaking evil? What does it mean? We know of an industrialist from around Pune, who built his empire based on products which could easily lead to carcinoma. As far as possible, he would hide the nature of his real business; there would be no advertisements for his company. But he was big time into donations too which would be advertised. He has donated crores of rupees in his lifetime. He built a hospital for cancer patients. Was he a good person or a bad person? Definitions defer depending on how close you were to him. He was from a particular community, and that community was divided down in the middle, about his good or evil persona. A friend, who was Pro that person, was explaining to me what a genuine person he was. But when I reminded my friend about the products that the industrialist manufactured and sold, the friend was furious. He said the same thing. “Nisi Nisi Bonum!”  I asked him if death condoned all the ill things he had done in his life? Can he be a role model to people?

The psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud says, in an essay, “Our Attitude Towards Death”, the following. 

“We assume a special attitude towards the dead, something almost like admiration for one who has accomplished a challenging feat. We suspend criticism of such persons, overlooking whatever wrongs he may have done, and issue the command, De mortuis nil nisi bene: we act as if we were justified in singing his praises at the funeral oration, and inscribe what is to his advantage on the tombstone. This consideration for the dead, which he no longer needs, is more important to us than the truth, and, to most of us, certainly, it is more important than consideration for the living.”

What could be the reason for this attitude towards the dead? Does it matter to the dead, what is said about the deceased after death? It is for those who are not dead yet. Near and dear ones, the close associates of the dead will naturally be saying nice things about the departed soul. But I am sure they must have said the same things while the person was alive. It is those who are in the outer circles, make this change and talk of goody goody things after death! Is it essential? What is achieved by suspending the criticism after death? Death is the final journey of human beings, so what is the point in not remembering or talking about inconvenient things about the dead person? The person anyway will be remembered for his whole persona.

When we get to know someone on a personal or formal basis, we tend to check up with others in the society about the antecedents of that person. We may not delve deeper into a relationship on a personal basis if we get conflicting information. But in the case of formal or business relationships, many a time there is no option, and even with the unwanted feedback, we will continue the link, but we will be a little more careful. It is quite easy to be happy because you can be satisfied with a proportion of how much you have made others happy. By this logic, it is difficult not to understand a person with whom we have come in consistent contact. If the dead person did not generally look like a happy person, the person has not made others happy! The evil that people do lives even after they are gone. The good is oft interred with their bones is an apt sentence from Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar.

To me, we should be honest in life but sometimes the practicalities of life, force incorrect utterances out of people. Just imagine a small speech about a person who has died!

“So, and so was known to me for the last ten years and the death makes me sad. The person was very sharp and was good at whatever the person did. I wish to God, to give the family strength to overcome the demise. May the soul rest in peace.”

Instead of that people say, “So, and so was known to me for the last ten years and the death makes me sad. Never have I met such an honest person as he was so nice to everybody. The person was very sharp and was good at whatever he did. I wish to God, to give the family strength to overcome the demise. May the soul rest in peace.” The bold words are what we call the practicalities of life. Are they essential? One can always say the first statement without the bold words which is neutral about the persona of the dead person. One need not say bad things, but one need not say false things also. Amen!