Declog your Mind!

Clogging and declogging are the terms used by Cardiac Experts and Plumbers. The blocks formed in arteries reduce the flow of blood and depending on severity can cause the heart attack. Similarly, when we don’t take care of the home or city plumbing system, the pipelines clog and cause problems. At some stage both need to be attended to or there can be catastrophic results.

But we forget that same logic applies to our mind. When our mind is clogged, we don’t think properly. Different thoughts keep on coming in our mind in a cyclic manner and we are not able to attend to the problem that needs urgent attention. We are simply not able to concentrate.

 

You know the terms thinking, worrying, stressing, freaking out — call it whatever you want. I call it preoccupied mind. And with what? I feel that 99% of our thoughts are useless. Many people think that they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices in their mind. Many moons back a friend had a breakup. We were both young. We had full night sessions on what to do next. On the third night when we met, I asked my friend what he really wants to do. We thought that we had discussed a lot but had never come up with any plan or conclusion about what to do next. Most of the time the friend was ranting how he was cheated, and he will do this and that! I asked him a blunt question, “Is there any chance of reconciliation? Has the lady really cheated you?” He then did not speak for a few minutes. Then he said, “I am a damn fool; the situation is neither her fault nor mine! Why am I thinking in such a harsh way?” Then again, he became quiet for ten minutes. Really concentrated and said, “The subject matter is over! I will let go! She will remain close to my heart all my life; what a fool I was to think about her the way I did”! Friends, this was the effect of declogging of mind!

Clogged mind creates a lot of stress. The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another. Pragmatism believes that a mind is a tool. Your mind should work for you, not against you. People who don’t master their mind, don’t believe it’s possible to do so. They will always keep saying, “I can’t help but think of these things.”

Well, you can stop thinking on a subject but with enough practice. It’s a skill. You have the ability to decide what you think. Or, you can choose NOT to think.

What is the downside of thinking too much? I will tell you my example. When I am writing, some thoughts are very clear in my mind. I am able to complete my basic blog writing in a couple of hours, then I spend an hour on proofreading, refining, fine-tuning, changing a few things. I generally do the latter part, early morning. When I get up in the morning after my quota of sleep, there are not many thoughts in mind other than completing the blog. My mind is fresh. Since I get up early, I feel a little hungry. But I plan what I am going to eat on the previous night. I don’t like to overload my mind to decide what to eat! Sometimes, I do do the basic writing also, early in the morning. (See my mind wavered a bit and wrote “do” twice) For me, this time is quite productive.

When I was working full-fledged, my early mornings were used to writing important emails or creating documents. Sometimes, I used this time to read important things received on the previous day. I will share with you a very important experience. During a business telephone meeting with a customer, years back, one of the officers, from the customer side, who was close to us, took a very awkward stance. This would cause us a financial hit for no fault of ours. At the end of the meeting, he also told me that he was being transferred to another country. I was upset and wrote a very nasty mail. I read it a couple of times and saved it as a draft, instead of sending it. I slept over the meeting. When I read the draft mail again early morning with a de-clogged mind, I realized that the mail would not serve any purpose, looking at the long-term relationship. I created an internal mail on how to avoid such situations in future. I deleted the draft and sent our friend a two-liner mail. In the mail, I thanked him and also registered our mild protest against the decision.

खयालोंमें is an appropriate word in Hindi, which fits our state of mind when our mind is clogged. We really don’t know what we are thinking about. Our mind whirs like a motor and jumps from one thought to another and to another! But we need to be pragmatic on how to handle this!

While writing this particular paragraph my mind was खयालोंमें, and I was thinking of our groups’ lunch next month, the work to be done in the bank today and about a probable business meeting tomorrow. When we are in खयालोंमें state, we need to pinch ourselves and ask “Are you back to reality? Do you feel your eyes are reading the letters on your screen? Do you feel your phone in your hand? Are you thinking about how to complete the blog?”

When should we think at all is a question that comes to mind these days. With waterfall type information flow that each individual gets and new entities like WA groups, FB groups and so on have formed. To me, these are mainly for entertainment or even worse, time-pass. What happens should be treated at the same value; if one is an admin he should try and keep a semblance of control. Do your work seriously, don’t take yourself seriously!  Don’t think too much about it! Unless you are personally involved in correcting status of the world, leave it a that. Use your mind for better things and pursuits.

You use your mind, and don’t let it be the other way around. Now, keep using that brain of yours. It is the best tool we have, make use of it! As my friend Vijay said the other day, your brain gets sharpened by more use; use it in the right place and time! I hope you don’t MIND this bit of advice from me!

My friend Dhananjay shared the link of this Marathi Poem मन वढाळ वढाळ …….  by Bahinabai Choaudhary, which is very appropriate for this blog! Thanks Dhananjay!

https://www.aathavanitli-gani.com/Song/Man_Vadhay_Vadhay

 

Happiness!

Right to life, right to liberty and the right to the pursuit of happiness are guaranteed in the American Constitution! What I like here is the right to a pursuit of happiness and NOT happiness itself. This means you try to achieve happiness by living in the Himalayas or Sahara desert. You may achieve happiness by getting married and having family or remain unmarried if it makes you happy.

In India, we talk about Roti, Kapda and Makan! It is correct to write about the right to have food, clothes and home! A couple of things could get added to the list! Internet & Cellphone (some such personal device)! Every society decides its ways of being happy, our forefathers decided that basic things like Roti, Kapda and Makan will make us happy.

Definition of happiness is pretty simple; it is state of being happy! But like everything in life nothing is simple. To me, it is the state of joy, the nice feeling at that particular juncture! I feel that we should first try and define what is NOT happiness!

Happiness is not about feeling good all the time!

Is a person who drinks alcohol every day “happy?” If feeling good all the time were our only requirement, then the answer would be “yes.” When you take alcohol, you feel light in your head but when you do it daily, the addiction stage may be reached. That is definitely not happiness. While you are sad, you are in a melancholy mood and suddenly something happens which makes you feel nice, you are happy. After all, what goes up must come down and what is down has to go up, at some stage.  Furthermore, when you ask people what makes their lives worth living, they rarely say anything about their mood. They are more likely to cite things that they find meaningful, such as their work or relationships. If you focus too much on trying to feel good all the time, you’ll actually undermine your ability to feel good at all—in other words, no amount of feeling good will be satisfying to you, since what you expect (all the time) isn’t physically possible for most people.

Happiness is not being rich and affording whatever you want!

While living below the poverty line certainly makes it hard to be happy, beyond that, money does not appear to buy happiness. Imagine, you unexpectedly get a large raise. While you would certainly be excited in the short term, it would only be a matter of time before your expectations change to fit your new budget. You may want to buy that bigger car or a bigger home! Your wife may want to buy that diamond pendant she had been pining for. Before you know it, the savings you are able to make at the end of the year are not much more than what you did before the raise!  The only exception to this rule is when you spend your money on an experience with your family and friends. If you spent that additional money on some weekend getaways to new and exciting places with your friends or family, then you might get happier. People usually don’t do this!

Happiness is not the final destination!

HappinessJourney

The old adage, “Are we there yet?” is often applied to discussions of happiness, as if a person works towards happiness and one day “arrives.” Contrary to popular belief, however, very few people in this world are naturally happy, it takes regular effort to maintain happiness. Most established techniques for becoming happier are habits, not one-shot events; and most life events that make us happy in the short-term, like getting married or being promoted, fade over time as we adapt to them. There is no magic wand for becoming happy!

 

 

We live life in a sinusoidal waveform. The topmost wave form in the left side diagram is a sinusoidal wave. In our life, there are peaks and troughs of happiness and sadness. The wave shows a very uniform pattern but our life is never like the wave, it is too complex like the waveform on the right side diagram! Being born in the right family, education, career, marriage, children and then middle age and old age is the normal life pattern. These are the things that give you happiness. Many things can happen in life “out of turn”. Losing parents at a very early age, family not having means to educate you, not getting good jobs, not able to marry the right girl are some of the things which cause sadness. Good and bad things form an interweaving pattern. Depending on whether happiness covers more area under the curve or sadness depends on destiny.

 

But there are many things which are not controlled by destiny. Feeling happy is in our hands! I have given below a link to my old blog written in 2011. My style, content and references are old and amateurish. I was trying to learn to blog in those days. In this blog, I have written about my favourite things. These things always make me happy, whatever mood I am in.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2011/06/04/few-of-my-favourite-things/

There are many other things that make me happy. Small things like eating corn or roasted peanuts make me happy. Meeting new people also always makes me happy. Looking at Sunsets and Sunrises, watching the rain clouds coming towards you from the hills, watching sea waves dancing towards the shore. There are many things in life that can make one happy. It is not that you will be very happy only when you go to Switzerland. Go to a small hill near your house with an open mind and you can be equally happy. Dinner at Marriot and eating Batata wada in a small joint near home are equally pleasing experiences. It’s how we absorb the goodness in everything that is important. The events that make you sad are not in your hands. A death of a near one is bound to make you sad but moving on is also part of life. The flowing river water is always clean and beautiful to look at. Similarly, if we allow feelings of sadness to stagnate by not moving on, the beauty of the life also stagnates.

Imagine going through a sad phase in life. You have lost your job and are having difficulty to find one. An old friend drops in without informing you and he is not aware of your situation. You both have great fun remembering olden days and school time pranks.

You don’t have to feel, “Oh! I have lost my job. How can I be happy!” Afterwards, you can always share your problem with him and take his suggestions.

Sadness and happiness, are states of your mind which never continue for long; in fact, we should not allow sadness to continue for long. This is what I mean by sinusoidal wave shown above. In life, you see people who have every possible material thing but are very rarely happy. Similarly, you see people who have almost no materialistic luxuries but always look happy.

Friends, we can say that happiness is not an event but is the state of mind. The state of mind is dependent on us. Life is full of ups and downs; ups usually are followed by downs. Pleasure and Pain are the two real things that create the sensation of Happiness and Sadness. Happiness is nothing but freedom from pain.  To achieve the state of happiness, try always to be happy; sadness will come and go!

 

What is Porn?

Pornography (often abbreviated as porn) is the portrayal of sexual subject matter for the exclusive purpose of sexual arousal. Pornography may be presented in a variety of media, including books, magazines, postcards, photographs, sculpture, drawing, painting, animation, sound recording, phone calls, writing, film, video, and video games. The term applies to the depiction of the act rather than the act itself, and so does not include live exhibitions like sex shows and striptease. The primary subjects of present-day pornographic depictions are pornographic models, who pose for still photographs, and pornographic actors or “porn stars”, who perform in pornographic films. If dramatic skills are not involved, a performer in pornographic media may also be called a model.

Another way of describing porn is television programmes, magazines, books, etc. that are regarded as emphasizing the sensuous or sensational aspects of a non-sexual subject and stimulating a compulsive interest in their audience.

Looks like today I am in the mood to write definitions and sayings rather than writing a blog! So here is a common saying. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” which means beauty doesn’t exist on its own but is created by observers. That famous quote can help you remember that a beholder is someone who sees or otherwise experiences things, becoming aware of them.  Similalarly, “Porn is also in the eye of the beholder”!

All this was essential as I am writing on a so-called controversial subject of Porn! To me the eyes of the person that looks at a painting, photos decide if it is  porn. All these thoughts came to my mind as I saw one lovely painting by my dear friend and classmate Sudhakar Sonavane from Nashik. Sudhakar is a painter who also happens to be a civil engineer and builder.

SonyaNude1
On the same day, I attended a speech by Manasi Sagar also, coincidentally from Nashik. The venue for the speech was bang in the middle of very orthodox Shaniwar Peth in Pune city.

ManasiPoster

I had written about Manasi in a blog in June this year.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/06/08/brave-art/

Manasi spoke for more than an hour on the subject “Self-Restoration- A journey. The talk was about how she grew up in even more orthodox Nashik in a middle-class family. Her father is a retired art teacher from a school. Manasi from a young age felt that she should become an artist and her father supported her wholeheartedly.

I will write about her a little later in the blog. But when Sudhakar sent the painting on our WhatsApp group, there was a bit of discussion and to me more of a banter. Another friend Shrikant felt that it was soft porn! Come on Shrikant even 2018 is ending and we all are entering the seventh decade of our life. Our group has 140 plus friends all engineers from 1971 COEP batch. Most have done reasonably well, are well travelled. Friends like Shrikant have lived in foreign countries for a few years. It is said that travel makes a man. So, how come this sudden comment to call the painting a soft porn! Sudhakar has been sharing his lovely paintings on the group for some time now, and at least a few more could fit the definition of porn made by Shrikant.

All those who think that this painting is porn should have attended Manasi’s speech today. From the tender age of 20 plus, just after her education, she started getting a bit disillusioned with portraits and landscapes etc. She felt that nude painting is an area she should venture into. Now she must be 32/33 of age. The calm way in which she was explaining the nuances of this art, why she got interested in human nude paintings, how she evolved as an artist who painted nudes, was remarkable. There was an audience of about 70 to 80 people and some of the audience were my age too! Since she could not get models, she decided to use herself as a model. She was very much at ease about discussing human anatomy, as a doctor discusses with us when we go for a check-up. Doctors are trained in anatomy whereas artists do not learn anatomy as a subject in their curriculum, to my knowledge. But Manasi was very comfortable discussing the human body.

We humans have started wearing clothes since time immemorial. But with no technology around, the clothes were generally worn around the loin areas. Adam and Eve typically wore fig leaf for modesty. Britishers were shocked to find when they came in India, that women kept their breasts open like men. They enforced the blouse. In 1820 a big social turmoil took place in Kerala when a large group of women said that they wanted to wear blouses after they became Christians. Till then blouses were allowed only for Nairs, the so-called high caste!

Manasi had displayed some of her nude paintings; these were of a very high quality. There were some paintings where her own sister had agreed to model for nude paintings. She was at ease to inform that the model in some paintings was she herself  and the other painting was  her sister. At the end of the speech, she got a standing ovation.

 

We have Khajuharo temples built about a thousand years back. These temples are dedicated to Hinduism and Jainism. The relative layout of temples integrates masculine and feminine deities and symbols highlight the interdependence. The artwork symbolically highlights the four goals of life considered necessary and proper in Hinduism – dharma, kama, artha and moksha.

When we have such traditions, where does the thought of porn come up? Yes, there is a huge porn industry where people can access free or by paying some fees. These sites show humans in the act of intercourse or masturbation or whatever comes to the mind of the owner/director of that site. These pictures and videos are meant to purposely titillate humans. Like liquor, drugs and prostitution no power in this world is able to stop such sites. I do not know the statistics but I am told an unbelievable number of men and women (yes women too, after all, they are also humans) watch these pictures and videos day in and day out. That to me is porn and not what Sudhakar and Manasi are doing.

We see hundreds of advertisements of products which have no relevance to the bikini-clad models used in them. During international car shows, around the new cars being displayed, scantily dressed women are dancing. That to me is porn! Let us all grow up and be mature! Porn definition will change from person to person, and time to time but let us not become moral police!

Saxophone or Mercedes!

Passion or Bucket List was the title I had given to this blog but during a review, I felt that I should change it. Hence the name Saxophone or Mercedes!

Recently the expression Bucket List has come into vogue! I had not got into details of this and I had always thought that this a list which one prepares of things to be done or achieved, before one’s time on the earth is over. But in recent discussions with friends, it was generally expressed, as a list of places to visit, before you die.

But the formal definition of Bucket List is a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime.

Similarly, we humans have an emotion, “Passion”.  Passion is a feeling of intense enthusiasm towards or compelling desire for someone or something. Passion can range from eager interest in or admiration for an idea, proposal, or cause; to the enthusiastic enjoyment of an interest or activity; too strong an attraction, excitement, or emotion towards a person. It is particularly used in the context of romance or sexual desire, though it generally implies a deeper or more encompassing emotion than that implied by the term lust.

These two terms are connected. I feel that unless you have the passion there cannot be a bucket list. Most people live life but a few live it with passion.  The third slide with names of Einstein and Opnehimer is included becasue Passion is the genesis of the genius!

I was lucky to take a photo of the house where Einstein lived in Bern, Switzerland.IMG_20170909_144057 (2)

What after all is passion? Passion is something we live for, it may be art, it may be a sport, it may be a product that you design, it could be music that one creates. Behind every passionate person, there is a lot of hard work, in today’s IT buzzwords back office work. A passionate person appears to be in a hyper state because the person has to do many other things, on the side, to achieve his final goal; not only that but he keeps on doing it all through his life. The explanation below will give the meaning of the hard work and thinking needed to achieve your passion.

  1. Set your Goals
    1. Obviously, the first step in achieving anything is setting the goals or targets. Without the targets, we don’t know the path to take and we will let our life take its own course. Goals will put you on the path. You set goals because you want to achieve something, you are passionate about something.
  2. Understand the obstacles
    1. When you have set goals, obstacles will be there. But the passion will ensure that you will plan to overcome these obstacles in advance. The passion in you will never allow you to change the goal. In fact, the passionate you will resolve to overcome these obstacles by setting up a target to overcome them.
  3. Create a positive mental picture
    1. There will many problems  and there could be many problems which we may not visualize while planning. But the passionate person will budget for such problems and overcome them, and move ahead with a positive mental frame.
  4. Clear your mind of self-doubt
    1. When you are taking a different path or an uncharted challenge having self-doubts is possible. But passion will pull you through this phase and push you on the right path.
  5. Embrace the challenge
    1. No challenge is too big when you have the passion to achieve things. Adversities, doubts and obstacles are part of the path one has chosen; embrace the challenge to march towards your goal.
  6. Stay on track
    1. While you are trying to achieve the target or a goal, there could be mini targets on the side; there will be difficulties galore. Staying on track is possible only if you are passionate.
  7. Show the world you can do it
    1. Though you are trying to reach the goal, especially when it’s a tough, world in general, may be hoping that you fail. Keep focus and show the world you can do it.

A close friend is a surgeon. He is passionate about the medical field and keeps pride in achieving great success in exact diagnosis. He is a couple of years senior to me. Once when I went to him for an advice, he said, “Pramod, I will show you something new that I have bought.” He had bought an expensive equipment which would help him in improving his diagnosis quality. He was very happy to show me the details, which I could see in his eyes. He asked me my opinion about the procurement. I told him that I was very happy for him that he was able to pursue his dream of bettering himself, professionally. His establishment is in an area of Pune city where his patients come from financially lower and middle strata of the society.  He said, “Pramod, by God’s grace I have done well financially, so I have decided not to increase fees.” He further said that some people celebrate their success by buying a Mercedes car. “Pramod, this is my Merc!” This is passion for you! All his other friends had told him that he was crazy to waste money on such projects.

Another friend, an engineer, retired from a large organization as a General Manager. While he was working, once I had gone to meet him for some work. He wound up his discussions with colleagues and suggested that they meet the next day. He then said, “Pramod, I want your opinion!”. I jokingly told him that since he was sitting on the right side of the table how my opinion would be of any value? He said, “Pramod, I am serious. Forget the work. I want to buy a Saxophone. Tell me if I should buy it.” I knew his love for music. I also knew that Saxophone was reasonably expensive but I said that he should go ahead and buy it if he could afford it. I also suggested his neighbours should not be disturbed! He said, “The math works out and I am going to create one sound proof pad at home so as not to disturb the neighbours!” I said then simply go ahead! His eyes sparkled. Same old story! He said, “All other people whom I asked said come on buddy. Don’t waste precious resources”. I told him, “To hell with others, go ahead! with your passion” He did it. Now post-retirement he has formed a troupe and gives professional music performances! He is enjoying this more than his engineering career!

To me, Passion and Bucket List are almost like synonyms. Without passion how will have Bucket List? Bucket list is a by product of passion! Some people follow their passion and make it their career and others just do their career, as it comes. Let passion drive you, Bucket List will follow it automatically. But saying that you should follow your passion is easy but actually doing it is not so easy! I found some sayings which explain this perfectly!

  • Renew your passions dailyThe meaning of this is never give up on your passion!
  • Never underestimate the power of passionNeed I say more?
  • Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion Is this not obvious?
  • There is no end. There is no beginning. There is only the passion of life– Sounds very familiar to me
  • If passion drives you, let reason hold the reinsThis the practical advice of a person who has lived a passionate life.

I had told you to live life with passion your Bucket List will follow you! 🙂🙂🙂

Bucket list

Heer Ranza or Romeo Juliet!

This is a love song from a movie Jab Kisise Pyar Hota Hai (1961). The lovers say,  “I have loved you since last hundred years and will keep on doing so for ever!”  A typical fantasy!

Marriage or union of two persons for life brings stories of Romeo and Juliet or Heer and Ranza, in front of our eyes. (Life has become trickier with same-sex marriages and all!) Our literature romanticizes the union and we all think that life is full of roses. But after some time, these beautiful roses start to wither and petals are what we are left with. I am not a pessimist but these are the facts of life! A relationship between husband and wife are never as romantic or rosy as they seem from distance. I had mentioned this in a blog I had written a month back where I wrote about friendship.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/10/21/human-nature-a-mystery/

To me, marriages are of two types. Historically, we married for logical reasons but lately, some marriages are based on feelings. Marriage based on romance and love are the imaginations of writers and poets! Romeo and Juliet or Heer and Ranza never had to discuss, EMI’s, promotions, illnesses, and yes, children, that are the result of the initial passion, remnants of the times when petals had not started falling down.

Current descriptions, love marriage and arranged marriage are also ways to describe of how people get married. In olden days, love marriages were a rarity but in modern times with males and females living independently, before marriage, in large cities and getting opportunities to meet each other in a no family settings, leads to love marriages and of course, sometimes to live-in relationships.

For most of the recorded history, people married for logical sorts of reasons because you were neighbours and were equals in the society, his family had a flourishing business, her father was the General Manager in a factory, there was a farmhouse close to city to keep up, or both sets of parents were from the of same caste and creed (politically correct word for this is Biradari), or were members of the same club. But once you reached the petals stage, from such reasonable marriages, there flowed loneliness, infidelity, abuse, a hardness of heart and screams heard through the nursery doors. The marriage of reason was not reasonable at all; it was often expedient, narrow-minded, snobbish and exploitative. That is why what has replaced it — the marriage of feelings — are taking its place.

Why do the famous roses start withering? Perhaps we have a latent tendency to get furious when someone disagrees with us or can relax only when the person agrees with you. (By that time the other person is furious, is another story) Nobody’s perfect. The problem is that before marriage, we rarely delve into our complexities. Whenever casual relationships threaten to reveal our flaws, we blame our partners and call it a day. As for our friends, they don’t care enough to do the hard work of informing us. One of the privileges of before marriage is, the sincere impression that we are really quite easy to live with.

Before getting married, couples should ask a question to each other, “How crazy are you”? Because each individual has some quirks and without getting married and intimate, most of these will remain hidden. A very smart hubby might turn out “momma’s boy” or may love to burp after each meal; or smart wife of yours, of bouncy and fluffy hair might be applying tons of pungent oil to her hair before sleeping!

Before getting married, the couple and their family generally check a few things. We try to understand the person and the family. We visit their homes. We look at their photos, we meet their college friends. All this contributes to a sense that we’ve done our homework. But we haven’t. Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be! We never make an attempt to find out the so-called “hidden” stuff! Most people don’t hide things purposely but they remain hidden because they were not checked. For example, a family may be very stingy or overly flamboyant!

We need to swap the Romantic view for an awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will  do the same to them, too. There can be no end to 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.

This pessimistic thinking  offers a solution to a lot of distress and agitation around marriage. It might sound odd, but pessimism relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our romantic culture places upon marriage. The failure of our partner to save us from our grief and melancholy is not an argument against that person and no sign that a union deserves to fail or be upgraded. These are the brass tacks of life!

What matters in the marriage of feeling is that two people are drawn to each other by an overwhelming instinct and know in their hearts that it is right. Indeed, the more imprudent a marriage appears (perhaps it’s been only six months since the two met; one of them has no job or both are barely out of their teens), the safer it can feel. Recklessness is taken as a counterweight to all the errors of reason. To me, instinct is better than centuries old thoughts of unreasonable reasoning.

When Jaya and I got married at an early age, she had a teaching job and I was in the final term of graduate study. Instinct told us that “the stars” would match. Young age helped us overcoming the petal phase very easily because of lack of maturity. We had almost no professional experience hence whenever we discussed any differences of opinion, these were just that, discussion about differences of opinion! They never turned out into minutes of meeting kind of thing! During our last meeting…. blah, blah, blah! During these discussions, we learned to accommodate each other’s thoughts, ways of expressing things. (This is what maturity is all about!) No strong argument is good or bad; couples come to understand, over a period, the acceptable standards of nasty levels! We started understanding what other did not like! In courtship and honeymoon phase, the couples are literally on the moon! So, when the aircraft lands on the earth, quirks and warts become visible! Each human being has different moods through the day, like our blood pressure or sugar level keeps on going up and down! You can’t be in love 24/7!

Finally, we marry to make a nice feeling permanent. We imagine that marriage will help us to bottle the joy we felt when the thought of proposing first came to us. Perhaps we were in an office picnic, a new year party, we were together during a hike, with the evening sun setting behind the hills, chatting about aspects of our souls no one ever seemed to have grasped before, with the promise of dinner in the Chinese restaurant a little later. We married to make such sensations permanent but failed to see that there was no solid connection between these feelings and the institution of marriage. So next best is that we learnt to say after a particularly strong disagreement, “Honey, how about dinner at that Chinese place?”

Moral Corruption!

 

Ghosn

Moral Corruption is the worst form of corruption in this world. When I read the news about the arrest of Carlos Ghosn, Brazilin born Chairman of Nissan Corporation, I was both surprised and sad at the same time.  

Carlos Ghosn, KBE born March 9, 1954, is a Lebanese–Brazilian–French businessman, who has served as the chairman and CEO of France-based Renault, chairman and CEO of Japan-based Nissan, and chairman of Mitsubishi Motors. From June 2013 to June 2016, Ghosn was chairman of Russia-based automobile manufacturer AvtoVAZ. Ghosn is also chairman and CEO of the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance, the strategic partnership overseeing Nissan, Mitsubishi and Renault through a unique cross-shareholding agreement. The Alliance, which includes AvtoVAZ, has held approximately 10% of the global market share since 2010, and as of 2017 is the third largest automobile group worldwide, having previously been the fourth largest automobile group worldwide since 2010. 

 Nissan moved to oust long-serving boss Carlos Ghosn after accusing him of misleading investors about the size of his salary and misusing company assets for personal gain, marking an abrupt downfall of one of the automotive industry’s most feted executives. 

The usual question coming to my mind is why, why and why? Why did he do this? Money cannot be the reason, saving on taxes illegally could be the reason but that again means that he was trying to make more money, which my mind cannot accept. His package for 2017 was reportedly 7.4 Million Euros.  He was found to have misreported his earnings. Over years he misreported the earnings to the tune of US $ 88.70/ million. How much money does a man need? This question is similar to the title of the famous Tolstoy story, “How much land does a man need?” What makes humans corrupt? It is said that the power corrupts people and absolute power corrupts people absolutely! He had many enemies and people felt that too much power was concentrated at one centre. He brought the group of the companies mentioned above from the brink of bankruptcy! As a group, this is considered the third largest group in the world.  

To me, corruption is of two types where people take bribes to do some work (more corrupt amongst this group take the money and don’t do work!). Others are like Ghosn who have everything going for them but think that they can get away with anything. While doing unscrupulous things such people give many excuses. What excuse Mr Ghosn will give will be interesting to note. While he was doing such dealings, did he have the moral authority to question people reporting to him about malpractices?  As a CEO how did he guide the teams to create company policies against corruption?  Is it not hypocrisy? 

A friend was running many businesses. He was head of the family and came from a typical business trading community. He, his brothers and the family homes were raided by Income Tax sleuths 3 to 4 times. There would be headlines in the newspapers giving the family name too! But he took pride in this. He said people will know how much money they had! Once after a raid, he was in a great mood and shared with me details of how he made much more money by following incorrect business practices. His calculation included the tax paid, fine paid and bribes paid! He said the after bribes IT sleuths would not bother to see the real amounts of cheating! He proudly said that they made an additional 50% profits than what they would have made. Newspaper item be damned! I had gone to his office just after the latest raid. He was in a sombre mood, so I asked him what happened to his “I don’t care” attitude? He said that his mother had given him a piece of mind. She rightly asked him that when the family has so much money why do all this wrong stuff? He had no answer to that. I asked him, “How will answer HIM when you reach the pearly gates?” He again had no answer. He died a few years later and I hope that HIS immigration authorities did not trouble him too much; I am told that they do not accept bribes!    

Terms, Politics and Moral Turpitude can be treated as synonyms. Moral turpitude is a legal concept in the United States and some other countries that refers to “an act or behaviour that gravely violates the sentiment or accepted standard of the community”. The concept of “moral turpitude” might not have precise definition, but it has been described as an “act of baseness, vileness, or depravity in the private and social duties which a man owes to his fellowmen, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man. Very rarely do we see politicians who do not fit this definition.

Politics has supposedly started with a view of doing social work. Hundred years back we really had politicians who took this work as their life’s mandate, did everything as God’s work. But today’s politicians do the “Social Work” only for power and making money. We have hundreds of examples where politicians have made money that could last their seven generations. At least one good part is they do it openly and are not ashamed of doing these deeds. Moral Corruption has taken over the politics and it appears that the things will go from bad to worse.  

Once in a while educated and polished people do enter the politics. But to me today is sad in the life of Pune city. Vivek Velankar, social worker, an engineer by training, worked in IT area for 15 years and then took a plunge in social work. He was doing a good job and people like him are the safety valve to the conundrum called our liberal, democratic society. Such persons ask tough questions when needed and debates happen and many times right decisions are finally taken. Today he has joined the forces with a group of people in Pune, who feel that making it mandatory to wear helmets while riding two-wheelers is wrong. Unfortunately for them, the Supreme Court has given this ruling so nobody can change it.  This group argues that it is the concern of the individuals to decide what is safe for them. They will do whatever they want. But the statistics have shown that in fatal two-wheeler accidents at least 90% riders are helmetless. Many get major head injuries; ultimately it is a burden on the health system of the society because only so many hospitals can be built and run. Persons like Velankar should be helping the government agencies and the courts using their forum to make sure that riders wear helmets. If people like him take this awkward stand the unnecessary confrontations happen, police system is burdened to catch non-users. What is achieved? I used to drive two-wheeler to work in the late ’70s. All the time I used to wear a helmet! It was not compulsory then!  

We have read about morally corrupted people in public life! M J Akbar was supposed to be a thinking writer, editor and publisher. Sanjay Gandhi was another example; his aim was to get people thinking strongly about population control but the way he bulldozed was simply not acceptable! Trump giving sermons is a big joke; he is well known for his funny ways in personal life and business practices. A President of a large, developed nation like the USA using doctored videos for the political propaganda is simply not acceptable.

Life is full of surprises, you never know what you may find about someone, whom you think you know well! Of course, I do not know Mr Ghosn. But my friends’ attitude towards life came out into open after Income Tax raids. People talk of social work, donations, nation first and all such moral things but real life when their mask opens up, you only feel surprised and sad! How much money does a man really need? Maybe I am too naive! But one thing I know, how much land does a man need! It cannot exceed 6’*3′!

 

 

          

Your Future Self!

Create-your-future

Yesterday Jaya and I were coming back from the airport after dropping our Son. We had travelled using  an Uber taxi. On the way back, we met an interesting driver. I felt that he was quite enterprising. It was evening time and most roads indicated heavy traffic on Google maps. Not only was he using maps efficiently but at a couple of places when the congestion was too heavy, he took U-turn and changed the route. I praised him for proactive actions to reach the destination as quickly as possible. Then he asked me, “If I ask you a few questions, will it be ok?”  I said, “Go, ahead!”

He said that he owned the car he was driving and he wanted to run a fleet of taxis similar to Ola/Uber model. He wanted to give better service than Ola/Uber. He said he had funds, though of course not unlimited! But he had that aim to be better than the giants. Jaya and I probed him with many questions like what his USP was going to be? He had thought about some things and he had not thought about many things. I suggested that he put things on paper and study, create his plan. I said, “You drive your taxi every day, how will you get time to do these things?” He said that since this plan is his passion and he will somehow find the time, and “trouble” some customer like me. He would take advice from various people but will achieve his goal. So, I said, “The time you will be spending on future is going to be unproductive time for your today’s work and will stretch your daily time schedule to the limit!” He replied, “Yes, I know that I will be required to do a lot of “unproductive” work for my future. If I don’t invest in my future who will?” This I thought was an extremely smart way of thinking. Invest in so-called unproductive things to reach the moon in future! This coming from an Uber driver gave me a terrific feeling.

He was not an MBA from IIM’s nor was he highly educated. I did not ask him about his education level but he must have taken a college degree in some subject. What could be the source of his passion? We talk about business families, business communities. This person was definitely not from these groups. He must be reading something, he must be discussing with some people, he must be watching stories on TV which has led to his thinking. When my ride was over, I wished him all the best and told him not to lose courage and focus because path could be tough. He said, “With suggestions from people like you, my resolve is getting stronger day by day!”

You’re busy all day, working non-stop, multitasking in a misguided attempt to knock a few extra things off your to-do list, and as the day comes to a close, you still haven’t gotten your most important work done. Being busy is not the same as being productive. It’s the difference between running on a treadmill and running to a destination. They’re both running, but being busy is running in place.

If you want to be productive, the first question you need to ask yourself is what do you want to be? Another question is where do you want to go? Chances are that the answers to these questions represent growth in some direction. And while you can’t spend all your time pursuing those objectives, you definitely won’t get there if you don’t spend any of your time pursuing them.

Key to all this is that you need to spend time on the future even when there are more important things to do in the present and even when there is no immediately apparent return to your efforts. In other words — and this is the hard part — if you want to be productive, you initially need to spend time doing things that feel ridiculously unproductive.

My daughter Priya is a dentist. She and her family are in the process of migrating to Canada. They were initially expecting that they will move to Toronto. But Priya felt that as a doctor she should also know French, as Canada is a bilingual country. Even in Toronto, you could get French-speaking patients. So, she decided that learning French would make sense. Hence, she joined Alliance Francaise and took a four-month course. She had a tough time managing the course, her Medical Practice, family obligations and her child. But she did it! As the luck would have it, her husband got a job in Montreal and her so-called unproductive efforts will become productive when she joins him in Montreal!

You want to become a writer or a painter or marathon runner, along with whatever you are doing currently. Your busy mind tries to keep you away from the new stuff, you’re not yet good at and which isn’t yet productive. Sometimes you need to be irresponsible with your current challenges in order to make real progress on your future self. You have to let the present just sit there, untended. It’s not going away and will never end. That’s the nature of the present.

You may not end up with an empty email inbox. You may not have the perfect compensation conversations with your boss. You may not please everyone. I am confident that those who want to invest in their future, will be good enough to do their current stuff at 7 or 8 on ten level, instead of their usual on 9/9.5 on ten level. Some of you might get jitters because of a lower level of productivity, but it is simply not possible to multitask things beyond a certain level.

Once you have clarity in mind of what you are doing and why you are doing, tasks become easier. Once you start seeing at least hazy image of your future self somewhere on the horizon, your jitters level will get lowered. This brings me to my latest theory of everybody requiring to reskill themselves. Reskilling in future is going to be mandatory. This is irrespective of whether you want to do it or not! So why wait? It is going to be reverse of “Back to the Future” movie where the person travels back 30 years in a time machine. Now you will have to visualize yourself ten years hence.

In case of training for Marathon, you may first start with 5 km then 10 and so on! Similarly, the writer in you may be able to write a few things initially. You may paint a few things after 3 months! This step by step progress is what you are looking for! Do it as a passion, but don’t forget that you may have to do it in future, anyway!

Your original training as an engineer, architect or whatever will keep you going. But in both these professions, you also want to add subject knowledge of Costing. This knowledge may put you on a fast track in your future career! The future costing engineer will have to take efforts, today, then you will get the fruits in the future! Don’t lose track of “Your Future Self!”