So long farewell, we too say Goodbye!

Till the end of first half of the last century, life was quite simple not as dynamic as today!

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

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwiboazShcfdAhXKbSsKHc40Do0Q3ywwAHoECAYQBA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DQy9_lfjQopU&usg=AOvVaw3Oypy-dx1J99WvYzEPFDBq 

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

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

In retrospection, did I miss something? Yes, of course I did. I miss my father especially as he died quite early at an age of 63, when I was 31.  I was busy setting up my family and my home. My father was a person who would call spade a spade; this trait I have picked up from him. He used to like to pun, would make some while chatting, another trait that I picked up from him. I once remember him pulling legs of his younger brother, bhau. My uncle, bhaukaka, in those days used to wear hard contact lenses. Once he was struggling to wear them. My father coolly told him, “Bhau, why don’t you wear glasses first,  so that you will be able to see where you are putting your lenses”! I would have laughed whole heartedly but due to respect of the elderly, I only smiled looking, at my father. He was supposedly very tough outwardly, but Jaya and I had excellent rapport with him. Jaya was the first professional lady working in our family and my father was supportive of her, always. When Jaya received a UN scholarship for MS degree in the US, she asked my father if she can take this opportunity. Our son was six years old at that time. My father told her, “What is there to ask? Just go. Why do you think we are here?” Unfortunately, he died within three months of Jaya going to the US. I was lucky that my mother lived to be with us for next 25 years. When I ruminate about leaving home in 1966, I always feel that I missed out on my father’s company. But If-Else scenario is a double-edged weapon. If I had not left home in 1966, then I would not have met Jaya!    

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alvida for now! Don’t you worry, I am not going anywhere!

 

 

 

 

 

Lazy or Innovative!

The written language is often clumsy or awkward or problematic, for personal communications!

 

TwoThumbsTyping

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

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

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

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

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

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

 JoyEmoji

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

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

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

Downsize!

During the downsizing phase, try to learn new things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mind Over Matter!

The placebo effect is a well-known treatment in the medical field!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pistorius

 

 

 

 

 

Nisi Nisi Bonum!

I asked him if death condoned all the ill things he had done in his life?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So, and so was known to me for last 10 years and the death makes me sad. The person was very sharp and was good at whatever the person did. I wish to God, to give the family strength to overcome the demise. May the soul rest in peace.”

Instead of that people say, “So, and so was known to me for last 10 years and the death makes me sad. Never have I met such an honest person, he was so nice to everybody. The person was very sharp and was good at whatever the person did. I wish to God, to give the family strength to overcome the demise. May the soul rest in peace.” The bold words are what we call the practicalities of life. Are they really essential? One can always say the first statement without the bold words which is neutral about the persona of the dead person. One need not say bad things but one need not say false things also. Amen!

What is really intelligent? Intelligence or Artificial Intelligence!

A human child learns to handle objects at a very young age. For an AI algorithm, it takes hundreds of years of training to perform the same task.

In the last ten years, terms like AI, AR, VR et al are coming in news and in discussions. AI is artificial intelligence whereas AR is augmented reality and VR is virtual reality.

Augmented Reality is an interactive experience of a real-world environment whereby the objects that reside in the real-world are “augmented” by computer-generated perceptual information, sometimes across multiple sensory modalities, including visual, auditory, haptic, somatosensory, and olfactory.  Virtual reality completely replaces the user’s real-world environment with a simulated one.

Virtual Reality is the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with, in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.

Artificial Intelligence is the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages. I will be writing today only about AI, in the language that I can understand.

Enough of tech things, hopefully, these definitions have indicated what these things really are. Coming back to the title, an obvious conclusion will be Intelligence is more intelligent than Artificial Intelligence. The answer is both yes and no! Yes, is because after all the creator of artificial intelligence is a human. When we talk of intelligence it is about human intelligence! QED! No, because Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence are two different animals and supposed to handle different things. Hence making this comparison may not be the right thing. In human life, decisions are not taken as 1 & 0 every time. AI activity is about a decision-making activity, always, as 1 & 0!

Consider the BOTS. BOTS are Web Robots. When we go into a Chat mode with a site like Amazon, chats are handled by BOTS, these days. How do the BOTS work? During chat customers usually, ask a certain set of questions. Depending on the standard questions asked BOTS are trained to give replies. Generally, it will say, “How may I help you?” Depending on the what the customer says, about a certain order or delivery issue or a quality issue, BOTS system (yes, it is a system though initially it is trained to say I am Vijay or some such name!)  in Nanoseconds, will run through its database and type an appropriate reply. Maybe in 70 to 80 % of cases, BOT can find the answer. But in certain situations, it cannot find a reply. In this case, it is trained to say, “let me ask my seniors, could you hold on, please?” Then a human supervisor, who handles about 20 BOTS, takes over and resolves the issue. This is like self-checkout counters in foreign countries where there is one supervisor to support ten machines used by us!

What really is AI? Even the most sophisticated AI technology is, at its core, no different from other computer software: bits of data running through circuits at super-fast rates. Where AI falls short is thinking in the abstract, applying common sense, or transferring knowledge from one area to another. For instance, Zomato might be very good at reserving restaurant tables, a narrow and a very specific task. There are many proven instances in which AI models fail in spectacular and illogical ways as soon as they’re presented with an example that falls outside of their problem domain or is different from the data they’ve been trained on. The broader the domain, the more data the AI needs to be able to master it, and there will always be boundary line cases, scenarios that haven’t been covered by the training data and will cause the AI to fail.

Contrary to computers, humans are terrible at storing and processing information, comparatively. For instance, you must listen to a song several times before you can memorize it. But for a computer, memorizing a song is as simple as pressing “Save” in an application or copying the file into its hard drive. Likewise, un memorizing is hard for humans. Try as you might, you can’t forget bad memories. For a computer, it’s as easy as deleting a file.

When it comes to processing data, humans are obviously inferior to AI.  Humans might be able to perform the same tasks as computers. However, in the time that it takes for a human to identify and label an image, an AI algorithm can classify one million images. However, humans can make abstract decisions based on instinct, common sense and scarce information. A human child learns to handle objects at a very young age. For an AI algorithm, it takes hundreds of years of training to perform the same task.

There are robots in Japan to take care of senior citizens. They handle routine tasks. But if it is suddenly asked which was that movie you had seen in 1960, it will not know. But if you ask this question to a human who is your friend from childhood, he will suggest to you the names of five different movies from that period. This is the difference between Human Intelligence and Artificial Intelligence. The robot, in this case, is not expected to give a reply. Artificial intelligence is good at processing data, bad at thinking in abstract whereas Humans are bad at processing data, good at making abstract decisions.

Humans can invent new things, including all the technologies that have ushered in the era of artificial intelligence. AI can only take data, compare it, come up with new combinations and presentations, and predict trends based on previous sequences.

Humans can feel, imagine, dream. They can be selfless or greedy. They can love and hate, they can lie, they forget, they confuse facts. And all of those emotions can change their decisions in rational or irrational ways. They’re imperfect and flawed beings made of flesh, which decays with time. But every single one of them is unique in his or her own way and can create things that no one else can. Robots do not have all these properties. They will keep on doing a repetitive job, every time. They don’t get old but their component may fail. They are emotionless.

While chatting with friends, one of the friends, who is in the same field as Jaya, was pulling Jaya’s leg.  He asked her, “What is the difference between AI and real Intelligence?”  Jaya smiled and told him, “You are artificially intelligent, I am really intelligent”! So, it’s simple, never compare AI and human Intelligence; they are oranges and apples!

EQ is about being Democratic!

We find solutions but need to have resolutions to implement solutions, EQ plays an important part in it!

We are taught about history, science, and math when we are growing up. Most of us, however, aren’t taught how to identify or deal with our own emotions, or the emotions of others. These skills are  valuable, but you’ll never get them in a classroom. During our life, we meet many people, we go through many situations, we have incidents. Some are good, some are bad and some are tough but some are hard. All these situations can create a mental stress in our mind which can become difficult to handle. Whether we like it or not, we need to overcome situations, emotions to bring back our lives to normal.

Our persona is made up of our brains and emotions. Brain decides our intelligence and the emotions decide mental ability to handle situations. It is said that our persona is defined by a mathematical formula Intelligence Quotient (IQ) + Emotional Quotient (EQ)/2. Unfortunately, life is not that simple and it never works as per the simple mathematical formula. Much is always said and discussed regarding the intelligence of persons or the IQ; he/she is very intelligent, very smart. If someone is good at mathematics, the person is said to be intelligent, an American term for which is smart. To me, EQ is equally or more important than IQ. There are enough people with good IQ so there will be great solutions to different problems. But if there are many solutions and your solution is not accepted, you can be upset, you may feel hurt, your ego may come into the picture. We find solutions but need to have resolutions to implement solutions, EQ plays an important part in it.

Many aspects of IQ have been discussed threadbare so I will be discussing more regarding EQ. Emotional intelligence is what psychological researchers use to describe how well individuals can manage their own emotions and react to the emotions of others. People who exhibit emotional intelligence also have the less obvious skills necessary to get ahead in life, such as managing conflict resolution, reading and responding to the needs of others, and keeping their own emotions from overflowing and disrupting their lives. I feel that the following points are important to understanding EQ.

  • Self-awareness: Self-awareness involves knowing your own feelings. This includes having an accurate assessment of what you’re capable of and when you need help, and what your emotional triggers are. What this means is to treat any situation in life as give and take. This in business language is called negotiation. Negotiation is used in all situations in life, be it war, or business deal, a settlement with children about their tantrums!
  • Self-management: This involves being able to keep your emotions in check when they become disruptive. Self-management involves being able to control outbursts, calmly discussing disagreements, and avoiding activities that undermine you e.g. extended self-pity or panic. If either of the sides takes a non-negotiable stand in a situation, loses control over emotions, things go haywire. In a democratic setup, decisions taken at every stage, may not be to your liking, but this is what self-management is all about.
  • Motivation: Everyone is motivated to action by rewards like money or status.  We must look at the motivation for the sake of personal joy, curiosity, or the satisfaction of being productive. All of us do some work or other in our lives but unless we do the work with passion, with joy, we will start losing motivation. Don’t forget that our normal working life is about 40 years; imagine doing work without joy for 40 years!
  • Empathy: While the above categories refer to a person’s internal emotions, this one deals with the emotions of others. Empathy is the skill and practice of reading the emotions of others and responding appropriately. A person may not be sufficiently intelligent but you need to be patient with such people. We work as a sweeper, nurse, doctor, engineer and lawyer. Give respect to everyone. The other day I was at the petrol pump and got air checked in tires. The person doing the job did not have his usual smile on his face. I asked him if he was unwell. He smiled and said,” Sir, this is such a boring job so I am simply fed up. You are the first person to have ever asked me this question. Now I will work with enthusiasm. Thank you!”
  • Social Skills: This category involves the application of empathy as well as negotiating the needs of the others with your own. This includes finding common ground with others, managing others with your own. This can include finding common ground with others in a work environment, and being persuasive. In the retirement phase of your life, your daily contacts reduce; make it a point to talk to a new person every day. At least say hello or give a smile. I have a friend, who can get friendly with people in five minutes. That is the skill that we should try and cultivate.

I will elaborate a little more on each point. Self-awareness is the most important point. Keep a diary or a journal and write down how you have handled emotions during the day. Take feedback from people close to you, take suggestions from your spouse. They can tell you if you overreacted. Slow-down in life. You may overreact because you sometimes don’t have enough time to ponder.

Next is self-management. One key way to manage your emotions is how you receive inputs. You’ve probably heard the old advice to count to ten and deep breathe when you’re angry. On the other side, if you’re feeling lethargic, do some exercise. If you’re stuck in an emotional loop, give yourself a “snap out of it” slap. Anything that can give a shock to your system or break the existing routine can help. You can’t always control what makes you feel a certain way, but you can always control how you react.

Talking about motivation does not mean just getting up energetically to go to work. It is about your inner drive to accomplish something. That drive isn’t just about feeling good. When you are near to achieving something, your inner self, gets charged up! That is what the motivation is about.

Empathy can be explained in a different way. Just shut up and listen to others. This is a way to give a thought to a different point of view. Hypothetically, take up an opposing position in mind. Then analyze the situation. This gives us the pros and cons of both sides and you may find that opposing thought process was better than yours.

Don’t just know something, try to understand thigs. Understanding is the difference between knowing something and truly empathizing with it. When someone tells you about an experience that’s not your own, take some time to mull over how your life might be different if you experienced that on a daily basis. Thinking about someone’s experiences and thought process is very important to empathize. Walk in others shoes, regularly.

Friends, you have seen enough of sharp, intelligent and smart people. Sometimes you may have seen smart and a half people too! But life is not all about decisions taken by smart people, it is about taking decisions or reaching a goal after considering different or opposing viewpoints. Get the acceptance gracefully, whatever is the final decision after “negotiations”! To me, IQ is 40% and EQ is 60%! Your views!