Nostalgic Musings!

 

Nostalgia1Today while discussing Indian Air Force strikes against terrorist camps in Pakistan, Rhea, my granddaughter asked me what were we talking about? I was at my wit’s end. I tried a story about bad men and good men, but she was not convinced. She asked me, “Why are you talking about aeroplanes?” Then I told her that there is a place called Pakistan where some bad people live. They come to India (she shouted, Bharat Mata ki Jay!- probably, they say the slogan in school). These people come here and steal things and give trouble to our people. Then our police went to their houses in aeroplanes and helicopters to catch the bad people. She was convinced with the explanation; it hit the right buttons. She said it is like “Chu Chu TV- We are the Police” video. Life is straightforward for the kids; everything is a game for them!

In case you have not seen the show please watch or show it your grandkids or kids! It is interesting!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tA2mCzIgOBM

As I was thinking of this discussion with Rhea, it took my mind back to a few events/incidents in my life, including those of times of 1971 war! But I am not going to write about the war. One incident involved a young married girl; another included a young unmarried girl, and the third one has an 85-year-old gentleman and his wife. I thought these incidents were fascinating; hence I am sharing them with you.

I was once travelling back from Boston after a visit to my son Sachin. It was Boston-Paris-Mumbai flight. The flight was empty. Initially, when the seats were allotted at Paris, a young married girl who was around 30, was seated next to me. We said, “hello, how are you etc.” As soon as the plane took off, we discussed and decided that we should grab the connecting seats and try to catch up with sleep. She said she would go elsewhere; I got three seats where I was sitting. Many passengers had a great time because of the empty flight. She joined me when food was served and went back to sleep.  A couple of hours before landing, I was done with my rest and so was she. She came and sat with me. We got to know each other. She had a child and was doing her PhD in the US. She was on a quick surprise visit to Mumbai to wish her father on his 60th birthday! I shared with her about my family and grandson. As the flight neared Mumbai, it was an hour away from landing, she gobbled a couple of tablets and said, “Uncle, during the descent I face a severe problem of an earache. Sometimes it is so bad that I can’t bear it and I scream. Please bear with me.”

I had never seen such a severe effect on individuals; I have noticed that babies generally cry during ascent and descent. One thing led to others, and I was trying to keep her busy chatting. We found a common subject, and she started sharing her experiences. I have also had a few anecdotes up my sleeve. We kept on talking, but I never asked her if she was having any pain! All of a sudden there was a minor thud, and the lady was a bit startled! She said that the pilot never mentioned about the turbulence. How come we suddenly had a rough patch? I said, “Lady we have landed!” She was shocked to realise that she had landed without any pain for the first time in her life while landing. She was so pleased that she did not know what to say. People talk about psychosomatic problems. Her pain must be real when it comes; she must have realised that if she could get her mind diverted she would have no or reduced pain.

 

Years back Jaya, Priya and I were on holiday in Nainital. We stayed at a lovely resort at Naukuchiatal. The resort had a beautiful garden facing the lake for sitting there, and chitchatting. We met a couple there on the first day itself. The gentleman was Mr Pran Chopra, retired chief editor of Tribune. He was the doyen of Indian journalism. He and his wife immediately became our aunty and uncle. Every day we three would go out to enjoy the Uttarakhand hills and would be back by 4 pm. Uncle and Aunty did not go out anywhere; they would come every year for soaking in the atmosphere. Pran uncle was around 85 years old, then. We hit it off well immediately when we met.

During our stay there we spent every evening together for tea, a little drink later and dinner. One evening aunty said they wanted to celebrate that we all met and treated us for dinner. She had told the chef to cook some unusual dishes. One evening she gave a small gift to Priya. Aunty said that they are not sure whether they will be able to attend Priya’s marriage (Priya was still in college) hence gave her a set of six handkerchiefs. She specially embroidered them after she met Priya. They lived in Delhi. After a few years, aunty called us to invite us for the 90th birthday celebration of Pran uncle. It was a beautiful lunch at a farmhouse, on a pleasant winter day in Delhi. We specially travelled from Pune to Delhi, for lunch and celebrated the occasion with them.   Even today we fondly remember our happy memories with them. It is said that marriages are made in heaven; similarly lucky ones like us also get the love of such beautiful people. One starts believing in destiny. We were not even booked to stay at that resort, but due to reservation mix-ups, we ended up in the resort where Pran Uncle and Aunty had come for a holiday!

The last incident occurred when my room-mates Nayan, Sharad and I were coming back to Pune after spending a few days in Bombay in late ’60 s of the previous century. This story is more about the raging hormones of the youth! In the train we had a family sitting with us. There were a couple of girls, in the family. All of us were excited as we got an opportunity to chat with them. At the end of the journey, we convinced their parents to join us on a full moon night boating, at the engineering college boat club. We had great fun with the usual exuberance of the youth. Later for quite some, we used to discuss the girls. Most of the discussions were ….. (Ok, I cannot write about them, these are censored). A few years later, we had an office party. There comes one of our ladies from the moonlight boating trip. Of course, she had married one of my colleagues. By the way, I was also married at that time!

Looks like I am on a nostalgic trip since yesterday! Come to think of it, how many stories are hidden in the depth of our mind. Various sites give us data storage these days for free, or many times one has to buy.  But we are not even aware of our own unlimited data storage system that we have in our brain. Friends, just start recalling and have fun! That is nostalgia for you!

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Shop-floor Anecdotes!

Recently, a comment on one of my blogs mentioned that if I had shared some shop-floor examples in a blog, my blog would have explained my thoughts better. Let me share with you a well-hidden secret. For my first eight years, I have worked in non-ferrous foundries on the shop-floor. In addition to the comment, I met my first boss in the foundry last week at a marriage reception (incidentally the bridegroom was my second boss’s grandson!)  So here I am on the nostalgic trip to the good old days. (I need to  investigate why the old days are always “Good Old Days”) So here we go. 

First, let me share with you an essential but awkward technical stuff (in non-tech language). In both my jobs where I worked, this incident somehow flabbergasted even the technological giants from our customer’s team.

In the first incident, we got an order to supply rods made out of a very special Copper Alloy. We had a tough time developing it. (I am talking of early ’70 s of the last century.) After successfully casting, we used a process called extrusion (imagine hot solid metal coming out like toothpaste) to make the rods. After many trials, we found out that we could not overcome a defect in rods called porosity. The buyer from the customer side was also Metallurgist like me. The final component to be made from the rods was a bush. We decided to make 50 bushes from those defective rods; we handed over the bushes to them. Those were tested and approved. We got the order for bushes instead of rods! (while machining the bush, the defect was machined off)

In my second job, we were supplying an Aluminium casting to the same customer. Their Quality Control manager decided to cut the casting to check for porosity. Certain areas in the casting always had porosity due to faulty design; we used to camouflage the porosity. I was hauled to their big boss. I explained to them the process and proved that it was not possible to eliminate porosity due to design limitations. ( The design was provided by the customer) We kept supplying the casting with porosity, till I continued working for that organisation. 

Now a human story. We were developing an alloy called Cadmium copper. When the heat was ready for tapping, obnoxious fumes started coming out from the melt. In those days masks were not available. Workers refused to pour the charge. We did not blame them. The solution? My friend Jayprakash and I started tapping the metal in ladles for pouring. We put our handkerchiefs as masks. By the end of the shift one worker came forward; in the second shift we kept this worker on overtime, and the show was managed by our other friend Vishwas. From next day onwards, there was no issue. Our leading from the front helped to gain the confidence of the workers.  

Chairman of one of the companies where I worked, was a very sophisticated person. He had his style and before starting a business had worked in large companies. In non-ferrous industry, transactions of selling the scrap and slag were done in cash in those days. I am sure the practice must be still continuing. (Tax saving? Black money?)  One trader was our boss’s favourite. The trader was precisely the opposite of the boss. He could speak only Hindi, his clothing always looked like it needed to be thrown away, they were always gritty, oily and dirty. In the ordinary course, our boss would not have stood within a Kilometre of this person. Once I was having a significant discussion with the boss. Suddenly this trader walks in! (obviously loaded with cash) My boss just said, “Pramod, wait for 10 minutes”. My boss welcomed him saying, “Aao Bhai! Welcome”; he put his hands around the shoulder of that man. The trader was offered tea in the finest cutlery, and the trader slurped it in his usual style, pouring the tea in the saucer! The transaction was done, the so-called “Important” meeting kick-started, again after one hour!  

One event taught me the importance of networking. Phillips had their factory opposite the factory where I worked. Their chief of security was our family friend, much senior to me. He was ten years younger than my father. Once I had gone to his office to meet him and had a cup of tea. Within a month of this social meeting, we had a minor accident in our foundry. A small lid of a tank blew up and hit a worker in his stomach. He collapsed, mainly due to fear. We did not know how to handle the situation. In those days getting an ambulance was a significant process and quite a task. I called our family friend and explained to him the situation. Within five minutes he sent the Phillips bus to carry the worker to the hospital. Within 45 minutes of the accident, we had reached the hospital; luckily it turned out to be a minor accident. Next day, I went and profusely thanked our friend!  

We had commissioned an electric furnace in our factory. As a senior person it was decided that for the first week, I would be present from 7 pm to 7 am. On the third day of the operation, we saw smoke emanating from underneath the furnace. We shut the furnace operation. I went below the furnace platform with a torch. I had told others to remain away from the furnace. It was a minor thing; a tape wound on the copper busbar had caught fire due to molten metal splashing. I turned around to call someone and found that my charge hand was right behind me. He did not follow my instructions of remaining away. When I scolded him, he said, “Sir, I wanted to be around, in case you needed some support! I would never have allowed you to take the risk yourself, alone.” 

In this last episode, I will share how one of my colleagues showed terrific sense alertness and avoided an almost certain fatal accident. In the die casting unit I was working, there was a die weighing one ton; it was in two halves and moved horizontally. Due to heaviness, it was operated hydraulically. In the third shift, a worker was doing routine cleaning of the die. One maintenance person was checking the hydraulic pump which was away from the foundry area. He did not follow the basic safety rule of checking if anyone was working on the dies. He started the pump for testing, and the movable die portion started closing. The person working on the die would have definitely been crushed to death as he was sitting between the halves. My colleague was standing about ten feet away, handling some other situation. He heard the commotion and saw the die was closing. He almost jumped like a football goalie and pushed the lever in the opposite direction. He was hurt a bit because of the dive, but he definitely saved a life.   

One thing I learnt from my shop-floor experience was the camaraderie with all colleagues. We had people who were hardly educated to those who were highly trained but raw like my colleague engineers and me. The experience taught us the importance of keeping the mind open and learning from everybody. Empathy was the most crucial aspect of the foundry. Due to heat, everybody was always a bit irritated, stressed, add to that some personal problems everybody has. It was an atmosphere where sparks would easily fly. But in a couple of years, we learnt to be friendly with workers by sharing tobacco (once in a while) or sharing tea with them.  Plus in the initial phase, we gained a lot of work-related stuff from them. We used to be very open about it and would tell them that they were our gurus.

I could go on and on! But limitations of the blog length restrict me to stop. After these eight years, I moved over to marketing and business development side in my own business. These eight years had taught me many things, including the need to have the depth of knowledge in whatever I did. The inter-personal relationship was another area that helped me to deal with junior most to the topmost people in my later years. When I look back, Metallurgy seems too distant to me. But what reminded of my Metallurgy background? I located my good old degree certificate and a copy of my Master’s Degree thesis! Would I like back those eight years? Oh, definitely! The good old days!

 

 

 

 

Emotional Intelligence and Productivity!

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Emotional Intelligence and Productivity are interlinked terms.

Improving productivity is a fundamental part of culture both in work and personal life. We use methods like blocking our calendars and to try to reduce distractions. The industry employs various consultants, tools and conducts workshops to achieve that goal. But we should understand that this is equally important in personal life too!

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.

Productivity is the effectiveness of productive effort, especially in industry, which is measured in terms of the rate of output per unit of input.

Various methods of improving productivity are essential, but sometimes these methods make our lives stressful. Hence, we need to look for ways that will reduce stress, improve quality of life for us as well as people surrounding us. This is where the EI comes into the picture.

EI is our ability to read, feel and respond to our emotions and the emotions of those around us. If you are a team leader and are a tough task master, your group may not be happy though you may be able to improve productivity. The happy group will improve productivity even more.

EI consists of Self-awareness, Self-management, Social-awareness, Relationship-Management. First two terms are about yourself; you should understand your feelings, strengths and weaknesses. These terms also talk about how cool headed you are in tough or stressful and tough situations. Social awareness is about knowing your ability to read your audience and ability to communicate with them, effectively. Last term  Relationship Management is about how you show empathy to others.

EI2

I am going to tell you from personal experience of running a software business; we had a great domain knowledge about the automotive industry. We used it to the fullest extent. After we got the feel of our products in initial years, we realised that it was essential to follow a specific path which improved our productivity and consequently profitability. We had understood the importance of EI. EI helps in achieving many things which are discussed below.

Boosts positivity 

EI boosts positivity because we made sure that there were no arguments for the sake of arguments. Errors and issues were always discussed in such a way that the name of the group or person making that error was never addressed. All the people were encouraged to help resolve the issues. I used to use my lack of knowledge of coding, to get a birds-eye view of the problem. I then would apply engineering logic to resolve issues whenever the team asked for my help.

Reduces stress 

I realised that reducing stress was significant. In the initial years, engineers would work extended hours to resolve issues. Later on, we made a rule that unless there was a severe emergency, to be decided by a senior technical person, no one should wait and work extended hours. We also discussed with our customers and concluded that the issue reported after 5 pm would be resolved the next day unless there was a show stopper. Everybody could go home on time thereby reducing stress in the system. We encouraged people to take vacations regularly.

Increases self-awareness 

Once we realised what our area of expertise was, we would ask another company to do small projects for us, where they had the knowledge and expertise. This gave us more time to sharpen our skills in our core areas and made our work easy.

Promotes self-motivation 

We started celebrating quick and smart solutions created by the team. One operation required about three minutes to complete. I jokingly told the developer that if I were in his place, I would have done it in three seconds. A few hours later he came and said to me that he has achieved the time of three-second completion.

Helps you accept feedback 

Here I will share my experience from my blog writing. Initially, due to various reasons, I published the blogs infrequently. Later on, as the frequency started increasing, I was lucky to get feedback from many people. They would share their views about the subject, as well as what I should do to make the blogs more interesting. There are a few friends who call me or WhatsApp me right away if they find some error in the blog. I took all these comments as feedback, used for improvement and I am now more comfortable and confident about my blog writing.  In software business, we created an ethic that errors found in software, even after the warranty period, were OUR errors! Commercial aspect was another thing.

Encourages collaboration and strategic partnerships. 

Emotionally Intelligent people understand the thought process of the team, strengths and weaknesses too! This helps the team to form a strategic partnership with customers, vendors. They also understand that doing everything on your own is not feasible. Delegation is possible because these people understand the strength of others.

To conclude, all the other technical methods will help boost up productivity. These are Kaizen, 5 S and many such techniques. The techniques can be supported by automation, modern robotic equipment. But when the moral of the team is good, the stress levels are as low as possible, the improvement in productivity will be even better. Persons with good EI whether they are leaders, owners or team members improve the work environment to a great extent thereby improving productivity.  Everybody in the team when they wake up at home should feel, “I need to be in my office, right away, every day”.

I will sign off by sharing a few things which can be done at home. Create a list of doing things, every day and keep track. Keep a master list of things to do monthly and yearly. Store things in the same way as the computers do it, cache and main memory. Make cooking area efficient for the lady of the house. Cleanliness and neatness is responsibility of all, including children. Involve kids from a very young age to understand that it is our home! Families with good EI handle things smoothly and will never look flustered.

What is good? Balance or Imbalance!

 

WorkLife3How does one decide what is correct and what is wrong, in our life? What is the meaning of the balanced life we live? This dilemma is faced by all of us. Since the last 50 to 70 years, life has become fast the world over, due to various things. In recent times the working from home concept and the facility has made life more comfortable but at the same time complicated and hectic. The work from home concept came up due to the internet, computers and space issues. People from organisations are working in the US, Europe, India and Japan. All have different time zones. A lot of work and projects keep on happening all 24 hours because it is working hours for some part of the office in the world. When there are some essential discussions people will join the meeting at 4 am, 12 noon, 7 pm or 12 midnight. Such meetings are many times regular bi-monthly meetings.

What happens to work-life balance in such cases? It goes for a toss! When you have such meetings, are you left with home life? Certainly not. But if you want to grow in the career such meetings, extensive travels, dinners, conferences are part of work life. So how do we keep the work-life balance? When we use the word balance, we tend to think about putting limits on either home life or work schedules. Neither is good.  People who must go home at 4.30 pm every day, come what may, tend to get noticed (and also tend to get a notice with a pink slip!)

Let us accept the fact that there is a work-life balance issue. You have a great career going, and you have a fantastic family life. What is this? Utopia? Fantasy? It is neither. The same problem or issue can be expressed differently. The balance that we are talking about is not the real balance but finding the golden mean. Trying to achieve the work-life balance limits many things.

The human race will not prosper or grow if we always talk of balance. The balancing act is a low aim, we don’t force ourselves to do better. We do not push us, our employers, our leaders to do better and better. Still in many companies waiting long periods is considered the ultimate, without checking the results achieved.

WorkLife4

We should aim to achieve everything but must remember that all that cannot be completed in one go. There are times when we can give more time to home life, and sometimes you are required to do the same for work. These should be treated as natural ups and downs of life. If you think big and look at the bigger picture, you are more likely to achieve your goal.

All of us work because we want to support ourselves, our families, and the people around us. We are all doing work that we’re proud of and that provides meaning and purpose to us. But even if our job does not make you very joyful each new day, working is a part of what each of us does and the contribution we make to our society.

When you separate work and life, then you cannot keep a “connect” between the two activities. But when you think of work as part of a full life and your daily ritual, then we can see that one is dependent on the other, for success and improvement.

What are the disadvantages of talking about balance? One can fall down badly if you lose the balance. That falling or failing will happen in our lives. We need to find a solution which will evolve rather than taking a fixed path. We have some good days and bad days and some ok days. This is a normal variation in life and can happen in both work and personal matters. If we are not mentally prepared for this evolution, then a faltering step will put you in a tough situation.

If you look for a very steady lifestyle, it never happens that way. Sometimes you may have to work longer, your spouse is unwell,  so on the way back, you will have to pick up dinner too! Sometimes you may have to miss an office picnic because your niece is getting engaged on that day! One does not have to feel sorry about both situations.

I will share with you an important event. More than fifteen years back my mother expired. She was 78. The funeral was at 5 am as she had died late at night. After coming home, we were trying to absorb what had happened. Jaya had some foreign visitors in her office, and there was a concluding meeting at 9.30 am. All of us at home coaxed Jaya to go and attend the meeting; the guests were to travel back home that night. What was the point in cancelling or postponing that meeting? Jaya came back home at about 11.30. Guests were never told about the event at home, and it was work as usual.

How was the lifestyle in my grandparent’s time? He would probably go to the office at 10 am. Was back home at 4.30 pm. By 6.30 pm he would have his meal and start preparing to go to sleep at 7 pm. He would listen to news on the radio in those days. There was nothing else to do anyway. Now we are spoiled for career types, for entertainment, social media and what have you! These days one has to be careful about the time spent on social media. It can severely damage your work-life balance.

Today Jaya and I went for a brunch with our daughter Priya. We spent one lovely hour together. The rule was to keep the phone away. Priya was allowed to answer the phone when her patients called.  We somehow managed to carve out quality time with Priya from her busy schedule. You don’t have to do the balancing act all the time, instead you act!

It is important how we talk about any situation. Let us avoid the balancing act of work-life and try to think about bigger and better things to achieve fulfilment. Don’t forget that our life does not move on what has happened previously. We can take our stand to achieve our goals. Doing a balancing act may never take you towards your goal.

Electric Vehicle-another revisit!

During a surprise visit by my grandnephew last night, we went for a quick bite of Idli-Dosa. He works for Tesla. We, of course, discussed the merits and demerits of the Idli-Dosa one gets in the bay area. As usual, it was concluded that you can’t beat the “original” stuff you get in India (it need not be from Chennai, even Pune Dosa is better!) The main subject of discussion naturally, was about EV’s. The original EV maker is Tesla! In such a debate, there never is any conclusion. What one does is exchange information and knowledge. So here we go!  

The development and now the production of EV’s is gaining momentum for higher and higher volumes. China is leading the pack, and almost 50% of global EV production is done in China. Technology wise Tesla is way ahead of the competitors. Tesla vehicles smoothly go 300 miles and above per charge. In fast charging technology, Tesla is ahead of others; they can do it in 30 minutes. Looking at our Pune Bombay travel on Expressway, if the 30 min/300 miles combination is achieved by our car manufacturers, then it is easily possible to make a round trip, the way we are doing with IC engine cars today. The same is possible with Nashik, Kolhapur, Aurangabad. But our car manufacturers are still lagging behind Tesla in the above combination.  

How fast can the EV’s come in daily use and what could be the limitations for them? What will affect the quick proliferation of EV’s? Other than Tesla all giants like Toyota, Honda, GM, Ford, Volkswagen, Fiat have the knowhow to make cars in large numbers, In fact, they have decades of experience in this field. But they are behind in Electric drive technologies and batteries needed for EV’s.  Tesla will struggle to reach large numbers like other giants. Elon Musk twitted Tesla achievement of producing 6000 in a week for the first time in the history of Tesla; Ford Europe CEO congratulated him on the twitter, “Elon congratulations on the great achievement! For your information, we achieve these numbers in four hours”!  This shows that replacing IC engine cars by EV’s in a significant way is not going to be so easy, yet. 

Except for Tesla, most companies making EV’s are having joint ventures, different joint ventures in different countries. Toyota has joined hands with Suzuki in India. They have jointly come together in India with Toshiba to make battery packs! It is interesting to note that Suzuki will make EV’s in India for Toyota too! For EV’s, Toyota is providing technology to Suzuki. Toyota has joined hands with Mazda for making EV’s in the US. What Google and Apple will come out with, is anybody’s guess. But there is a big drive going on for driverless cars. It is expected that in the US driverless cars or their variants may come faster than EV’s.  

Other than the points mentioned above, what factors will decide the proliferation of EV’s. If we see country wise, smaller countries might be able to handle this better because of geography. Creating charging infrastructure, changing laws, changing insurance policies will be much easier to incorporate. With the same logic, the EV numbers will go up in large countries, states or regions. Like in the USA, proliferation will be quite swift on the west and east coast but will take time in mid-Americas because of low population density and vast distances; add to that mountainous regions. 

One exciting event took place. A couple of weeks back, Tesla has opened up all its patents to the general public for use. Musk declared, “We are aware that Tesla alone can not achieve the car volumes required to improve the environment. We are opening up all our patents to everybody with a hope that this will improve EV production volumes fast.”

Similarly, in India, this will occur around metros like Delhi-NCR, Mumbai-Pune. Chennai-Bangalore, Surat-Vadodara-Ahmedabad. There are more such areas in India. But India has similar problems with long distances in rural areas with less car usage. But it will take some time of coast to coast driving in the US, and Kashmir to Kanyakumari drives in India to happen regularly.

  EV1

The graph above shows the reserves of Lithium in Metric tons in the year 2017. Lithium could be the next oil, and the top four could form the next Cartel, the Lithium Cartel. The battery pack is going to be the most crucial part that is going to limit the production of EV’s. As per current technology available, Lithium is the raw material for batteries. The four nations above are going to be next Arabs for the auto industry. The auto industry is one of the significant consumers of petroleum-based products. As EV production goes up, Arabs and other cartel members will come together and reduce petroleum prices; using IC engine cars will remain more attractive. This will make it attractive to make IC engine cars. So, what will be the product mix in 2030? That will be decided by many factors. 

The product mix in the year 2030 is predicted to be 35:35:30 of EV’s, Hybrids and IC Engine cars. The combination could vary a bit, but the general proportion will be as above. EV’s will be controlled by how car manufacturers other than Tesla adopt and ramp up with the limiting conditions of per charge mileage, least possible charging time and availability of battery packs.   

Hybrids are a combination of Electric drive and IC Engine drive. Hybrids are forced by the requirements of environmental norms; hybrids have a better carbon footprint compared to IC Engine vehicles. The volume of EV ramp-up will not be sufficient to achieve global improvement of environmental standards; hybrid will provide some relief.  

IC engine cars will contain a predictably higher percentage of Petrol cars. Diesel Engine cars are expected to get a major jolt by the year 2022/23 when Euro 7 norms come into existence. These norms will be extremely challenging for diesel engine manufacturers. The cost of development and manufacture of Euro 7 compliant diesel engines can be prohibitive. Volvo has already decided not to manufacture Euro 7 compliant diesel engines for cars.  

It appears that if Electric buses are made available, they will be quite useful and practical. In Pune, about ten Electric buses have started plying on the roads, about ten days back. On the first day, approximately forty thousand people travelled on these buses. Bus application is going to help the improvement of the environment in a big way. Today most of the buses everywhere are run on diesel. They are very polluting, extremely noisy and many times people travel in them because of the lack of other viable options.  

One interesting aspect I must mention. When EV’s are produced in large numbers, industries like casting, forging, heat treatment, furnaces will move towards extinction. Same will be with the car service industry. But as almost 70 % of cars are expected to have IC engines even in 2030, these industries will have more time to handle the life-threatening change.  

My personal experience with EV’s is minimal. I have visited Tesla showrooms a couple of times during my visits to Seattle. In our condo in Pune, a couple of people own Electric Scooters. I drove one of them for a few minutes. The feel was excellent. I have enjoyed a few rides in the Toyota Prius, the Hybrid, and it was a very pleasing experience. 

I am looking forward to owning an Electric Vehicle.  When? It is anybody’s guess!

 

Climb out of that hole!

Life is full of ups and downs both in personal and professional matters. The ups give us euphoria and joy. The downs on the other side make us sad, depressed and push our mood down a hole. It is for us to come out of that hole and it is doable. First and foremost is that our downs are because of errors, or misjudgement in what we do. We make errors of judgments, maybe wrong investments leading to a major loss; maybe we take up a job which we did not like. Such events are going put us in a situation where life looks sad and cynical. 

When this happens, we tend to linger on, and we keep on blaming ourselves, flogging ourselves for the errors. “To Err is Human” is an idiom which aptly fits situations in everybody’s life. We always keep on thinking about the missed possibilities, real and imaginary. We feel that if we had done things differently, we could have been better off financially and life would have been more rewarding. If such emotions are kept unchecked, the stress level in life goes up, we are not able to think prudently and are likely to make more errors. We dig ourselves a hole and are likely to remain there. 

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Such regrets, if nursed, can lead to depression and negativity. This could lead to binge eating, and one may drink more alcohol. We may react to persons and situations impulsively rather than giving a thought before responding. There are ways of coming out of such a hole; it will bring us back to a happy, healthy and meaningful life.  

Acceptance 

It is essential to accept what has happened. You should not ignore the event nor should you keep on thinking about it all the time. Take a pause, as we count ten or we deep breathe. When we are engrossed in self-criticism, we try to find quick fixes to the problem. Instead, think about our past regrets and try to remember how we found a solution at that time.  

Give a break to your negative thinking 

Sometimes it happens that we try to come out of the negative thought process, but it just does not work. Sometimes we are not able to break the spell of sleep from our system. Cold shower wakes you up. Try something similar. I remember an incident, which took place ages back. We were in Boston in a mall. Our grandson was very unhappy that my son suggested to him that instead of buying the same toy the second time, a new toy could be purchased in another shop. Our grandson started howling and throwing tantrums. My son picked him up, and we walked out of the mall. Our grandson was not wearing warm clothes, and a cold air blast hit him. He stopped the tantrums and said, “Can I get my jacket?” He quickly ate a snack and was back to his jovial self. After that, we went to ToysRus and got him the toy he wanted. Cold water shower is not a long term solution but will provide a break that can help you think more rationally to resolve the issues.  

Be soft on yourself 

When we have made an error, we tend to be very harsh in judging ourselves and keep on blaming ourselves. If we discuss the matter with a friend or a mentor, then she will listen to you compassionately and will try to explain the way forward. Will that person keep on harping about your errors? She will encourage you to be soft to yourself. Provide some compassion to yourself. With this attitude, we try to navigate towards a positive solution. This acceptance is a good beginning, and we learn to accept our regrets as a human failure. You know that there is nothing unusual in such a failure, it happens many times with others too! 

Try to understand yourself 

After you have gone through a situation, think about what you are looking for. Don’t keep on regretting about it. I will share an incident in my career. I was 28 years of age then. I had a meeting with my boss. He was quite tough and rough. He said a few nasty things to me as I had made some errors in the work. I left his cabin and thought about the incident. I was disturbed, but when I gave thought to the whole situation, I realised that my self respect was more important to me than my job. I went and met him again. Explained to him everything yet again. I told him, “Sir if you want, I will resign and walk out. Scolding me for errors and correcting them is  your job. But I expect you to ensure that you do not repeat such nasty things with me again.” He stared at me for a minute and then said, “How about some coffee?” I could resolve my problem because I was clear in my mind what I wanted more! I felt regret because my self-respect was hurt and to me, that was more important than keeping the job!  

Act 

All the process of handling the regrets and correcting errors will work only when we finally act upon it.  

Make a list of such issues large and small, then think yourself or with your friend or your spouse, exactly how to take steps to correct whatever is troubling you. The problems do not get resolved by feeling lousy or overthinking and brooding about it. It’s thoughtfully following up the solutions that helps us. Retrospection is the key to address such situations. Our vision in retrospection is always 20:20, and we look at things with more wisdom. So retrospect with a cool mind.

Hole1

Wikipedia has defined Kintsugi as follows. 

Kintsugi (金継ぎ, “golden joinery”), also known as Kintsukuroi (金繕い, “golden repair”), is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. 

As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. 

In our lives sometimes the dreams are broken, and at other times hearts are broken. We should use Kintsugi to repair our broken dreams.  The dream could be of taking higher education, getting an elite job in government. Heartbreak is, of course, heartbreak. But we need to come out of that hole into which we crawl into after failing to achieve what we wanted. The broken dreams could be repaired, and you might end up doing business. Sometimes the seams of the stitched dreams could be visible, but it is better to come out of the situation, a bit bruised instead of remaining hidden.

Use the principle of Kinstsugi! Face the world! Let repair seams be seen. The world does not have many regrets about what has happened in your life. It is too busy in its own errors and achievements. Making errors is not something to be hidden from others. All have their own quota of mistakes, only we do not about know about them.  So just do it, openly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The tipsy drink!

I am on a WhatsApp group in which all the members are engineers that too with more than 45 years of experience. Most of them have retired. But the fun part is a couple of them who are active in business have the maximum time available with them to contribute to the group. Their favourite subject being liquor! Why would professional, educated and almost retired persons be interested in talking about alcohol all the time? I call this irrational thinking.  

What is the origin of alcoholic drinks?  As mentioned in Wikipedia, “discovery of late Stone Age jugs suggests that intentionally fermented beverages existed at least as early as the Neolithic period (Cir. 10,000 BC). Many animals also consume alcohol when they get a chance and are affected in much the same way as humans, But humans are the only species known to produce alcoholic drinks intentionally.” Humans are the species who make alcoholic drinks for their own consumption. There are three broad classes of drinks beers, wines and spirits!  

Alcohol is consumed socially in many cultures. An alcoholic drink contains ethanol. Alcohol is manufactured by fermentation of grains, fruits, or other sources of sugar. Alcohol consumption has an essential social role in many cultures. In many cultures, alcohol is consumed by both women and men. Nations have laws controlling the production, distribution, and consumption of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol consumption is legal beyond a certain age in most nations. Many countries have tried to ban alcohol consumption but have miserably failed.  

Alcoholic drink is an addictive drink. Taken in small quantities, it makes a person euphoric, but in larger quantities they are depressants. In many countries, wines are consumed with food, but spirits are consumed before the meal. After meal brandies and cigars are also part of the of the culture. 

Just for fun, I will share with you my alcohol experiments. When I was studying engineering, I used to live in hostels. At the end of any term, there would be a “Wet Party”; we friends used to meet and take alcohol. (It was an open secret but an illegal act) In those days, I never drank alcohol and had only one more friend to give me company. After drinks, there would be a procession to go out for dinner; friends used to be in the state of, a bit drunk to thoroughly drunk. One of us would be in the front and the other at the back to control the band. The surprising part was that the friends used to listen to us. This continued for a few years, and later we could get a friend’s house for the parties and were not required to go out for dinner. Two of our friends would always get drunk, vomit, and the story continued.  

After I started working, I tasted my first drink, a whiskey; I never liked alcohol. Later I switched to Vodka for a different reason. I rarely drank it, poured it away and would get a Sprite. Nobody noticed. I used to take a couple of government inspectors for lunch; as long as they got their quota of beer, they did not bother what I drank. One of my colleagues was a chain smoker and used to drink a lot during office parties. His wife and Jaya were colleagues. His wife would tell Jaya that her husband was the most humble man in the world. She would tell Jaya, “He never drinks and smokes!” I knew that love was blind, but I never knew that love killed your sense of smell. 

Once I was in Germany in the dead of winter. We went to our hosts’ home; they owned a winery too! The lady was charming, and she gave us so many small shots to test, I almost got drunk with wine. Luckily, as soon as I stepped out of their home, the biting cold hit me, and I was normal in a minute. Now, I take wine, once in a while, especially if I am in foreign countries. But alcohol never brought irrational behaviour in me. I had a close friend who loved his drink, but never have I seen him getting even close to being drunk!

I will share with you some amusing anecdotes and information about alcoholic beverages. How did the word Cocktail come in use? People have been mixing any ingredient in hard liquor for a long time. But the name cocktail has come up in the last two hundred years. 

Cocktail 

During the early 17th century, a horse, with a docked (cut tail) tail, was said to have a “cocktail.” Thoroughbreds did not have docked tails.  When a regular horse was entered into a race, its cocktail was observed – and became a term synonymous with an adulterated horse. There is a tradition to drink alcohol during horse races; the word “cocktail” was soon used to mean an adulterated spirit, alcohol mixed with something. Well, I thought a cocktail was something fancy. Nowadays we get mocktails also. These are the drinks like cocktails but do not contain hard liquor. Looks like businessmen are exploiting the fancy names for the purpose of business.  Mocktails are also expensive!  

Booze 

The word booze has its origin with the meaning “alcoholic drink”. Initially, it was spelt as “bouse”. The word booze is said to have a Germanic origin, but there is still a doubt about its real origin! Three words from which the word booze has come are “bausen” in German, Dutch word is “busen”, and the old Dutch word was “buise”. The last word means drinking vessel.  The majority think that the word from booze originated is “busen”. 

Toast 

Toasting has some believable and some questionable origins. Two people clinked their glasses in such a way that their drinks got mixed. This ensured that you were not being poisoned. Another story that comes out is that the wines in olden days were not of good quality, they were acidic. A toast was physically put inside the wine. This toast would absorb the acid from the wine and improve the quality of the wine. Toasting many people at a party is also used for drinking excessive alcohol without seeming to do it purposely. Toasting is just an excuse!  

Let me share with you a sad story. I had a friend who was a company secretary. We used to attend meetings and would share rooms. Once after a cocktail party, we came back to the guest house. He had consumed about five whiskeys. At the guest house, he asked me, “Pramod my doctor has told me to take a shot of brandy before sleeping. Take with me if you have crossed 35.” I was 36 then. He consumed the whole quarter bottle of brandy and ….. He slept through our meeting the next full day! Poor fellow ultimately died of alcoholism.

Coming back to the original discussion of how people nearing seventy remain so much interested in alcohol that they keep on discussing the subject on and on. Once some of my friends went out for dinner. Out of ten, eight drank alcohol, and all drank them in large quantities. Liking a drink is one thing but drinking alcohol in excess at the age of seventy is something different. At this age something can suddenly go wrong with the body and results can be devastating.

So let us give a toast to wise people who will switch to drink booze in moderate quantities! Remember, when you say, “I need that one shot of xxx every night,” (and take it) you are an Alcoholic!

Cheers! Bottoms up!