Does this generation have time?

This generation and ones afterwards will be short on time but they will find ways and methods to share it with others to enrich life!


The other day, a school time friend, Pradeep wrote a comment on Facebook, after reading my blog, “Who has time for Snails & Tortoises?”

This blog was about the thoughts that came to my mind, how we are losing the art of taking things easy. Some things are beyond our control but some are not; like the information and data that we get is enormous and because of that we tend to process everything fast and continue with that habit all the time! But we can take some things easy if we want! It’s up to us!

Pradeep said in his comment, “Pramod, you have written a great blog but do people have time to read such a long piece?” In today’s time, reading 1200 to 1400 words is a lot of time to give to something which shows no tangible returns. If one had to read the 10000-word document for next day’s office meeting, after reaching home at midnight, it is Ok to give time for it. Next day’s meeting is a crucial meeting and there are direct tangible returns.

There are friends like Vijay, Ganesh and Arun who consistently give their opinion on what I write. Friends like Dilip also share an adverse opinion with me. This contemplates me to think, review and sometimes make minor changes in style which to me is essential. Shrikant feels that my blogs sometimes become too conversational. I also read many blogs and I also read about blogging. I have found that this method suits my style better. I feel that I am basically a storyteller. The human brain is a very interesting thing; I think that HE has designed an unlimited archives section in our brains. Once I go into writing mode, my hard disc starts whirring fast and suddenly a right story is accessed. I was writing a blog a couple of days back, “Man and the Machine”.

Suddenly from the archive, I remembered the event called Gimli Glider, Air Canada incident. I had read about it a few years back. But HIS design is such that the appropriate address in the archive section was accessed, instantly. This story enhanced what I wanted to say in that blog.

I m k! Hw r u? I lv u 😘. This is the language the young gang uses. But to me, they use this language in their personal communications. Formal communications do remain formal. I was trying to remember from my school time. I was a reasonably good leader, but I was zero in elocution, the writing was only meant to get through in the exams. I had classmates who could paint, write stories and poems, take part in elocution and do so many things. But this percentage was small. I am sure that in today’s young generation too, this percentage may not be high but I can tell you that it has increased. This is due to the exposure and resultant confidence that kids acquire. Like me, there could be late bloomers.

So, Pradeep, “Don’t worry! There will be bloggers, story writers, novelists and painters AND readers.” Each generation has its own specialities, its own expertise. To me basic things don’t change, what changes is the way it is done, the way it is produced and the way it is distributed and expressed. I have understood the modern vehicles like FB, WA, Instagram, LinkedIn pretty well. I use them as my tool for distributing what I write, long or short, serious or funny! Subjects may change, topics may be different. I have full confidence in the young gang. They will read what they like and they will do what they want. Don’t underestimate them. In cricketing parlance, we wondered who will replace Tendulkar. But in came Kohli, now that Kohli is reaching 30, there is Shroff on the horizon, Rishabh Pant is also there!

I am lucky to be neighbours with my daughter and granddaughter, Rhea. All of five years old. I have watched Rhea grow and I am sure everything is fine with this world, as long as we allow it to be! Rhea loves stories. She wants to listen to stories while going to sleep while eating food. She makes stories and tells stories. She plays games where she holds a pencil as a mike and makes announcements, copying her teacher. Her imagination is flying sky high, all the time, because we let it fly. Let there be a thousand butterflies in the world, let there be hundreds of bright stars in the world. She sketches, paints and draws because she is taught and encouraged. Yesterday at the airport she and I played races for some time; suddenly she said, “Now let us play a race, who reaches that pole the last wins the race!” Look at her different way of thinking. I am sure such incidents must be happening in homes where the parents the grandparents find time for the kids and enrich their life! Yes, my 18-year grandson also reads my blogs once in a while!

So Pradeep, the speed of life has gone up exponentially but to channelize the energy of the young ones in the right direction is in our hands. So let us do it. I know all is well this world. This is about a young painter Manasi from Nashik, (about 26 years of age). She had written about how intensely she felt about doing nude paintings. But as she could not get find models; this simple middle-class girl showed fantastic courage to use her own body as a nude model! In times of shortages, we share with others what we have. This generation and ones afterwards will be short on time but they will find ways and methods to share it with others to enrich life. After all, there is life after FB and WA!

I have started this journey of writing after the age of 65, it is the journey taken up for enjoyment; I don’t expect any commercial returns. I am sure encouragement from friends like you and Sukanya on FB, my encourager in chief Jaya will always keep me writing. There some friends who always read but don’t comment. But whenever I speak with them on phone, they discuss my writings, give encouragement and suggestions. And there are some friends, who used to comment once in a while but now have gone on silent mode! But thanks to WordPress, I know you guys read my blogs! Thanks a million!

Man and the Machine!

But we should not forget one thing, humans are the ones who are creating an AI system!

I read about a flight that was required to land in the Hudson River in New York. US Airways Flight 1549 was an Airbus A320-214 which, in the climb out after takeoff from New York City’s LaGuardia Airport on January 15, 2009, struck a flock of Canadian geese, just northeast of the George Washington Bridge and consequently, lost all engine power. Unable to reach an airport, pilots Chesley Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles glided the plane to a ditching in the Hudson River off Midtown Manhattan. All 155 people aboard were rescued by nearby boats and there were few serious injuries.

This is the animation video of the incident. While reading about the incident and after watching the video and the video clip from the movie Sully (2016), questions came to my mind how far can a machine (based on AI- Artificial Intelligence-) take over human jobs and are they good enough to interpret the tricky situations. In this case, the incident occurred at the height of 2800 feet which is considered very low to handle such incidents. The pilots showed fantastic skills and managed to land in the Hudson River in very chilly conditions.

When various parameters were analyzed by different agencies, they used data from the black box and created simulations based on the data retrieved. Initially, they concluded that there may have been a pilot error because the auto simulations proved that the pilots should have acted differently and could have landed on either of the two airports which were in the vicinity. Both these airports had cleared the flight for emergency landing. But the pilot declared that he could not make it to the airports. Then data was loaded on simulators and two pilots “flew” the aeroplane, based on data captured. About 13 such pairs “flew” the plane on the simulator. Seven pairs could not reach the airport.

But when the pilot Sully was being interviewed, he said that he did not agree with the findings because the findings were applied to the situation, immediately instructed the pilot to turn towards the airport. But when the actual bird hits happened, the pilots were stunned and by rough estimate did not react for 35 seconds. The plane ultimately landed in the river 218 seconds after the bird hit. Out of this, 218 seconds 35 seconds were lost in the pilots recovering from the shock. Another important aspect was that the procedure stipulated by the plane manufacturer Airbus had written it with the assumption that the flying height would be 33000 feet at such times. At this height, humans have enough time to react. But at 2800 feet height, time left to react was less than four minutes before either landing or crashing. When 35 seconds of “no action”  time were considered in the simulation tests, the results matched with the pilots’ actions in deciding that not enough time was left for them to go back to any of the airports. Both pilots were honoured by many authorities for their heroic efforts which saved all 155 lives. See this interesting clip below, from the Movie “Sully” based on the incident with Tom Hank in the lead road.

Now the question comes to mind who is better Man or Machine? Would machine have required 35 seconds of reaction time? Maybe no. But unless this real-life situation was available in the database for the AI system, how would a machine have reacted? The pilot could see that there was the river Hudson around, which he thought would have become a spot for “soft landing”. At any other place in New York or New Jersey, the aeroplane would have simply crashed into buildings and maybe exploded. Would an AI system have known at the time of the incident, the option for a soft landing? Another question that comes to mind is how many combinations would be required to be present in AI database, for the system to understand that combination of 2800 feet height, time remaining of (218-35=) 183 seconds, wide enough river Hudson being around and there were no taller buildings in the path etc, etc. By analyzing hundreds of such options, the AI system would have arrived at a conclusion, what would be the “safest” option to save lives and the aircraft. At least in this case, with the current level of technology, the human decision was a superior decision.

The way humans react, their mind thinks out of the box! AI system decides only based on what data is available with it. The human mind applies its thoughts and extrapolates to arrive at the correct conclusion. It automatically does the risk analysis and tries to take the best possible decision under the circumstances. How far AI systems will be able to extrapolate, it is difficult for us to judge. 50 years hence, who knows?

I will share another example from the Aviation field. The incident is known as “Gimli Glider”, this happened in 1983 and the plane was Boeing 767 used by Air Canada. There were series of errors in the measurement of fuel, manual, gauges, dip stick, at every stage. There was a transition going on from the FPS system to MKS system in Canada at that time. One thing led to another ending in the incident. See the link below.

Incident is too technical to be explained here. But the end result was all the fuel tanks were suddenly empty, half way to the destination. We can say that all these errors and complications probably could have been avoided by AI. Yes and no both because AI stuff takes time to “learn everything”! After many such incidents, AI would become “an expert” in this area. But what happened later is where human intervention will show us the limitations of AI over human intelligence. When the pilots felt some issue, they decided to do an emergency landing at Winnipeg. But when they realized that there was zero fuel, the copilot and the pilot started thinking fast. The pilot was a gliding expert and he calculated that the plane could glide 16 times the height at which the plane was flying. The copilot was from that area, and he had worked on a Royal Canadian Air Force Station in the area. He judged the parameters and decided to land at that Ex-air force station at Gimli. Only problem was that both the pilots and air traffic controllers were not aware that the station had become a racing track. But it was only because of the knowledge of the pilots and the way they applied it sensibly, the plane ultimately landed safely with no major injuries to anyone on the flight as well as on ground.

This brings out the same question, AI or Humans who are better? This discussion is going to go on forever but AI systems will become better and better but nobody really knows what is stored in the Human brain and what the humans will retrieve from their brain, is going to be really difficult to judge. But we should not forget one thing, humans are the ones who are creating an AI system!

I read somewhere about the movie Sully! The copilot  Skiles is asked in the end what you would have done differently if the same incident were to occur! He smiles and says, “I would make sure that we landed in Hudson River in July and not as we did in January!”


The pseudos want all this to happen at the Stone Age Ecology levels!

Pseudo is a term to define non genuineness. Years back I remember, Indian Industry doyen S L Kirloskar had made a very valid statement. One of the main roads in Pune was being widened; some trees were required to be uprooted. Environmentalists, anti-everything gang made a hue and cry that trees are a must and trees need to be protected. Of course, it was true up to an extent. But SLK said, “Are trees for us or humans are for trees?” Development of the planet, some call it raping the planet, is bound to occur. It is now happening at a faster pace. This puts pressure on cities and their infrastructure. We need wider roads, more houses. This needs to be done, keeping in mind the environmental aspects. Opposing everything is incorrect, illogical, and to me stupid. The pseudos want all this to happen at the Stone Age Ecology levels!

We humans sometimes behave arrogantly, try to bulldoze, try to push things to extremes. It’s good to have checks and balances. But opposing everything, for the sake of opposition is equally arrogant, pushy and so is bulldozing everything. It is essential to keep a check, on checks and balances, to me these groups are Pseudos in most cases.

Take the example of a road that my city Pune, is trying to build across a hill. This is going on for a couple of decades. Groups have gone to court. The opposition is against trees that will be damaged. City authorities have given an affidavit to the courts, saying that they will plant 10 times the number of trees that will get damaged. But somehow the case is dragging. Come on, entire cities like San Fransisco are built on the hills! Still, the city is so green!  All said and done, even after so much progress (?), Pune is still a green city!

Why do people and groups oppose everything? Who are these people? They are environmentalists, they are the people who feel that saving this planet from others is the responsibility bestowed on them by Him! Most importantly, they feel that they are experts in every field! They know that roads should not be built on the hills. I thought that there is a concept called a hill station! What are they? How do you move around on hill station without a road? How do you reach the hill station? We know what the roads do. Roads bring cars and trucks, roads bring pollution. But roads also connect places and people. Roads bring prosperity, roads improve connectivity. An idea should be to reach the goals with the least possible pollution.

In this decade Electric Vehicles technology is coming to the fore! The inflexion point for EV’s could be as early as 15 years from today. Various groups should come together and find out what new problems will come up. One thing is sure that emission issues will go down drastically and particle pollution from IC engines will start reducing. But our pseudo-friends instead of working with the vehicle manufacturers, have started discussions about how batteries will create pollution.

Another area where these groups are very active is animals. Saving species from extinction is the responsibility of each government and individual. It is the responsibility of humanity. The natural diversity that we have on the earth should be maintained. In India Maneka Gandhi, Minister of women and child development is at the forefront of this movement. It is a great thing that the Indian government is backing these efforts. But to what extent this should be done is a matter of discussion.

We had a recent incident in the state of Maharashtra. A Tigress, which had become man-eater over the last two years had become a major problem. She has attacked and killed 13 people in her area of dominance. The government of Maharashtra decided finally to take services of a sharpshooter. Even in such situations, an attempt is made always to use darts to anaesthetize the animal by using darts.

The “Shikari” used the darts, still, the Tigress advanced forward in their direction so he shot her dead. Congratulatory messages started flowing and immediately a controversy was created. “Murder” was the headline in newspapers followed by a very strong worded statement by Ms Gandhi. When the minister from Maharashtra Government sent a congratulations message to the hunter, Ms Gandhi demanded that the minister should resign for authorizing a “Murder”! Tigress must be saved at any cost people’s lives be damned! What are 13 people from a population of 1.4 billion people? These people can always be spared.

Then there is the big story of stray dogs. In India, touching a stray dog is extremely tricky. There are rulings which are very much on the side of the dogs, which to me is the right thing.  As per the laws of nature, humans have gone far ahead of other species in everything. They keep dogs as pets, lately, some people adopt dogs instead of giving birth to children or adopting human babies. These lucky pets and adopted dogs have a good life as we humans have. But there is a big population of stray dogs, some of them sick and others rabid. According to laws government agencies can only catch them and can’t kill the rabid dogs. Read this an old article from BBC which says that in India rabid dogs kill more people than the terrorists!

But to what extent the leash should be loosened, pun intended, is a matter of conjecture. The subject of saving the dogs has gone a bit too far for my liking. I also have the same question as what SLK had. Are dogs for us or are we for the dogs? I like dogs and I am Ok with folks who have dogs as pets. I know of a couple who live in the USA. They have adopted dogs and when they travel round the globe, they Video Chat with their children. Good for them!

But to me on any of these subjects, humans must come first and and dogs, trees, tigresses, and environment comes second. Not a very distant second but still a second! What is your opinion, my friends?

Who has time for Snails and Tortoises?

We make the wrong expectations and then feel that we are being cheated by the system!

The other day, near my home I met a young friend of mine, he is in early 40’s. We decided to have Cuppa, in current lingo it is called Cutting Chai. We went to a shack, nothing fancy! In Marathi, we call it टपरी. We ordered our tea, I prefer Sugar free. That was a special order for them. They took a bit of time to bring it. My friend was so uneasy, he asked them three times in five minutes about the delay. I thought maybe he has to go somewhere urgently. I suggested that I skip my tea because of the delay and he was in a hurry. He said that he was not in a hurry; at the same time, he looked at something on his cell phone, a few times. Then I realized that his and later generations have speeded up the clock in their brains as a necessity and also because too much data comes in their direction, too much info due to 24-hour connectivity! Processing has to be done fast.

We already have a lot of slow things around in our lives which make us crazy. Slow internet speeds, slow drivers, slow check-out counter lines. Some of you must have already said, hey Pramod! Say whatever you want to, quickly.

I started wondering why is this happening? Why everybody is in a rush? Human societies were smaller to start with, one went maybe a several hundred meters to  work, hunting! Later when the farming started, the communities settled a little far from each other, perimeter of people’s movement increased and distances to travel became more, leading to the start of formation of a modern civilization. The speeds of action and reaction were reasonably slow even during the last century. But things really changed in the last 20 years. During my younger days, there was snail mail carried by the government postal department, there were trunk calls, as long-distance calls were called then. Time was as good as at a standstill in those days, compared to today.

The clock in our brain, that I have talked about, is not a normal counter. Its speed is dependent on how excited we are, how much Adrenalin is flowing in our body, and if we are in fight or flight mode! If we are in any other mode than the normal mode, then the time passes either very slowly or very fast. Consider that you are involved in an accident and you are lucky to escape with a minor injury. The event gets over in say, half hour, our brain might feel that much longer time has passed. You will see that event in slow motion. In April this year, Jaya and I went on a “do nothing” holiday at Manali. We were there for eight days. We had great fun doing nothing. We just sat in the garden soaking in the lovely Sun and absorbing the beautiful snow-capped mountains. We used to eat, sleep, chat, I blogged and Jaya read. We played cards and on one pre-defined day, we went for a spin in a taxi. It was raining hard and the taxi driver asked what will we do during the trip, and getting down from the car was almost impossible. I said, “Don’t worry we have come here to do nothing!” He was surprised. Eight days passed like a zip! Had we been in some difficulty, the eight days would have felt like eight weeks!

Some things which we found efficient in our times are considered extremely slow today. Patience is a virtue which has been vanquished in the Twitter age. Why are we impatient? It’s a heritage from our evolution. Impatience made sure that we didn’t die from spending too long a time, on a single unrewarding activity. It gave us the impulse to act. But that fun of about things moving slowly, has gone. We always want to go for white water rafting, fishing is out of fashion!

The fast pace of society has thrown our internal timer out of balance. It creates expectations that can’t be rewarded fast enough—or rewarded at all. When things move more slowly than we expect, our internal timer plays tricks on us, stretching out the wait, summoning anger out of proportion to the delay.

You send a WhatsApp message to someone and get two blue tick marks, indicating that it has been read. If it is very important, you will look at WA every few seconds to check if you have received a reply. You forget that person could be busy, the person may have gone to the washroom. The person could have just started a presentation after looking at the message.

The link between time and emotion is a complex one. A lot is dependent on expectation—if we expect something to take time then we can accept it. Frustration is often a consequence of expectations being violated. We make the wrong expectations and then feel that we are being cheated by the system.

Society continues to pick up speed. There is information that tells us that the speed of human movement from pre-modern times to now, has increased by a factor of 100. The speed of communications has skyrocketed by a factor of 10 million in the 20th century, and data transmission has soared by a factor of around 10 billion. A study was done in Vienna and Newyork of time taken by people to walk about 20 meters. In Vienna, it was 15 seconds and in Newyork, it was 13 seconds. This survey was done about 30 years back, now the timing must have further reduced. Worldwide walking speed has gone down by 10 to 15%, especially in cities.

One study has shown that exposing people to “the ultimate symbols of impatience culture”—fast-food symbols like McDonald’s golden arches—increases their reading speed and preference for time-saving products, and makes them more likely to opt for small rewards now over larger ones at a later stage.

Our rejection of slowness is especially apparent when it comes to technology. Everything is so efficient these days that we lose our patience very quickly. We now practically insist that Web pages should load in a quarter of a second when we had no problem with two seconds in 2009 and four seconds in 2006. Further research says that as of 2012, videos that didn’t load in two seconds had little hope of going viral on the internet.

Of course, we’re not going to die if a website doesn’t load immediately. But in what we were used to from our olden past—when we could starve if impatience didn’t spur us to act—we get the feeling that if a website does not load in time, we may die! Is it good for humans? The jury is still out.

We had planned to go out and have  dinner at a restaurant near our home. An old friend had come to meet us after a long time. We decided to walk the distance of one km to the restaurant. We went at a leisurely pace enjoying my friends’ funny anecdotes, old stories from school days. We both really enjoyed our languid walk to the restaurant. On reaching the restaurant, I became my original self, worried about waiter not serving the soup on time, not bringing a replacement for wrongly served chicken, quickly. Why the change? We are so much used to “fast” and “instant” things that maybe we have forgotten the art of taking things easy and whiling away time in a leisurely fashion! Don’t be surprised to hear a story from one of the doctors that a couple wanted their baby to be born in one month! Jaldi, Jaldi!

Anatomy of reaching your Gooooooal!

The real life Egrets also don’t wait for anybody, same as time and tide!


I read a poem by Kedar Nath Singhji, रास्ता, the Road or the Pathway! The beauty of his poems is that the poems throw up a simple thoughts, a new way of looking at life. In the poem, he talks about three Egrets flying in the sky and three men going out of town in heat of the Sun. They had taken a pathway on the plains and all very confident that they will reach their destination (or target?) by Sunset, the same way as the Egrets reach their home on the trees before Sunset, every day! Since the men thought that they were on their way, they were engrossed in chatting. Suddenly they were forced to a screeching halt and found that pathway had ended;  in front, they found fields full of Jowar! How come the pathway ended? Where has the pathway gone? They were worried and confused wondering what to do now!

Then they saw an old farmer who was packing up for the twilight. They went to him and asked him, “Where is the pathway? How has it suddenly ended?” In their minds, each had different thoughts. One thought it’s a good idea to turn back. The second one thought, they rest for the night and the third one thought that there is a need to somehow find the way. The third one did not waver from his target. The farmer just picked up a lump and threw it towards a cow, who was lazily grazing. The moment she was hit, she started moving in a certain direction through the field. The farmer just signalled to these three men to follow her!

These three men followed the cow, walking through the Jowar stalks, her hoofs making crunching sounds. After walking some distance, they were in for a surprise. Sun was almost down but twilight was still there. And lo! They saw the pathway and at some distance, they could see their destination.

This is what happens in our lives, friends. The cow was there, the fields were there. The farmer was there and Sun was there. Only these men, apparently had forgotten what their target was, what their destination was. And in all this time the Egrets had flown ahead and had reached their destination.

This is the story of life for many of us. We want to achieve a lot, we set our goals, we set our targets, and hope that we will achieve everything. And we hope that we finally make that Goal! But is not as simple as that, there can be a sudden end of the road, there may be a sudden dead end. We may rethink the goal, we may simply give up on the goal. Suddenly, we will become Arjuna! We will lose all the energy and lose our wish  to reach the target! There are many reasons why this happens, all of us cannot explain the way Kedarnathji has explained it beautifully, in his poem रास्ता. Here are the six reasons why we fail to reach our goals!

  • Loss of Focus
    • Why do we lose focus? There are many things in life that we do simultaneously, it can so happen that we may lose focus about a goal
    • This tells that we should prioritize the targets we have and try to work on them and list out priorities.
    • Once we list out the priorities, then we know the path. But don’t forget that there are several goals and hence several paths; maybe you will go on the wrong path when you lose focus. The wrong path may be the right path for a different target!
    • Loss of someone close or in the family can be a genuine reason to lose focus. Things can get derailed for some time, but the motto of “Life Goes On” needs to bring us back on track.
  • The absence of strong enough reasons
    • Our goals and targets are set for some specific reasons.
    • Your friends say that you must get your annual medical check-up done, regularly, every year. You have never had any serious health issues before, you have not known any serious hereditary issues in the family. You then start feeling infallible. What happens if I don’t do the check, let me do it after I am free from the current pressure at work! This is not on! Your health has to be in your topmost priority list.
    • You have a target to buy a bigger house but for some reason or the other, it is getting delayed. Honestly to me it hardly matters if you put such targets on the slow burner!
    • Things like love, family, country, freedom and security are compelling reasons. But you have to state just what those reasons mean to you if you don’t want to fail to achieve your goals. When you state what it means to you, and it’s deep-rooted enough into who you are, your determination won’t waver, and you’ll end up seeing things through.
  • Lack of Planning
    • When an aeroplane takes off from one city to the next, it has a goal. It has a goal to land at a specific destination on a specific day and at a specific time. But it doesn’t just have that goal, people plan to achieve it. It can’t achieve the goal without planning towards it. How will it take off and land? How much fuel will it need? What direction will it travel? What happens when there is air-traffic congestion or turbulence?
    • Create a massive-action plan towards achieving your goals. But don’t just create that plan and forget it. Plan every single day, week and month out towards your long-term goals. What will you do to tackle your most important tasks for the day? How will you manage your time effectively so that you don’t get distracted? There is so much to consider, so be sure to plan, plan and plan some more.
  • Inability to act at the right time
    • I published a blog on 26/10/2018 on this subject, the title is Procrastination.
    • I have mentioned the same things in the blog. If we don’t act or react on time, our targets can go haywire.
    • While pushing past the obstacles we face in life is hard, to say the least, it’s overcoming procrastination that’s even harder. But there’s a simple method that you can use to help get momentum back on your side. It’s called the 15-minute rule. Set a timer on your phone for 15 minutes and commit to doing the one task that you’ve been putting off for exactly that amount of time.
    • There is nothing golden about 15 minutes. But this 15-minute timer (it could be 10 or 20 minutes too!) will remind you of what you have to do and break your inaction cycle!
  • Bad habits that hold us back
    • Another reason why we fail to achieve our goals, are due to the bad habits that hold us back. How can we expect to achieve monumental results when those bad habits keep getting in the way? Did you know, according to one study, that habits comprise 45% of human behaviour?
    • If you don’t want your bad habits to stand in the way of you and your goals, you need to find ways to overcome them. It happens slowly over time. Don’t try to go from zero to hero overnight. When you try to create or break a habit too fast, it can snap and unravel. When that happens, you revert back in a more vehement way.
    • The problem with some habits is that they can also create a change in our physiology, making us dependent on them. This goes for cigarettes and alcohol as much as it does for sugar and fatty foods. It’s difficult to overcome physiological dependencies. It takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight.
  • Apprehensions
    • You want to change a job or to migrate to a different country; as the time to this comes near, we start having apprehensions!
    • This is one tough thing that you need to overcome yourself or take someone’s help.
    • Reaching a goal is not a poetic subject. It involves Brass tacks! It needs detailing, it needs planning and needs to overcome the inertia. It needs for us to overcome speed breakers and many other barriers.

When I came across this beautiful poem रास्ता by Kedar Nath Singh, I felt that the life is not so beautiful and charming! He said the same thing in his charming way, but he has also added that while the three men lost their way, the Egrets had moved on and had reached the target way ahead of the three men! The real life Egrets also don’t wait for anybody, same as time and tide!

Marriage a complex Institution!

How the retired live-in pair that has crossed 70, will handle this, only time will tell!

Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a socially or ritually recognized union between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between those spouses, as well as between them and any resulting biological or adopted children and affinity.

The definition of marriage varies around the world not only between cultures and between religions but also throughout the history of any given culture and religion, evolving to both expand and constrict in who and what is encompassed, but typically it is principally an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually sexual, are acknowledged or sanctioned. In some cultures, marriage is recommended or considered to be compulsory before pursuing any sexual activity. When defined broadly, marriage is considered a cultural universal. A marriage ceremony is known as a wedding.

But I have been reading some stuff which indicates a different way of handling the pairing off. We say that birds sing and the bees dance, but in real life, these acts have nothing in common the way humans sing and dance. The reasons why we sing and dance, the way we sing and dance are totally different. The definition of marriage (as defined above) and the actual event in some communities are equally very different.

People do pair off world over, for just a few hours, days or years. They do it for pleasure, make babies, for making families happy! Or to seal a political alliance or a business deal or just because they like each other. We have a very recent example of Tej Pratap, Lalu Prasad Yadav’s son, who has applied for a divorce six months after his marriage. He has openly said that his marriage was a political alliance and he simply is too different from his city-bred wife!

I am no anthropologists so will just share a few examples of these pairings or unions. In this universal practice of marriage, many of the relationships are as different from sleeping in a hammock and sleeping on a Chatai or a Mat. The same words when translated get a different meaning. These meanings are pretty different once you go away from Modern cities to the interior or maybe reach out to people living in jungles. In certain areas of Paraguay, a man and a woman who start sleeping in the same hut are supposed to be married; no ceremony or marriage certificate is needed. To come out of the relationship, they simply move out the hut, all bag and baggage, simple! They are divorced with that one act. In the modern world, now live-in relationships have become common  and are similar to the act of shifting to the hut!

In Botswana, most girls marry several times before settling into a long-term relationship. Practical? In certain areas in Brazil, when a woman comes with her bag and baggage and starts cooking for her man, they are married! But their seniors feel that they are  married only after cooking, making babies and they are able to sustain and support each other! This to me appears to be the most practical way of getting married or being paired off!

In contemporary Saudi Arabia and Egypt, there is a marriage known as Nikah Misyar. It is for the people with less means (translation traveler’s marriage). In this type, it appears to be a marriage of convenience and the husband can just move on, and get married to next one without informing the previous wife. In addition, some rich Muslims have a permanent wife, and during travel, they marry the woman they want to spend time (Prostitutes). This is an escape from the religious laws, as that they don’t want to break the law! In Shia Muslims, there is Nikah Mut’ah (Marriage of Pleasure). This arrangement is like renting a car. Its period is fixed from a few minutes to many years. There can be any number of such marriages and is again a religious loophole. In Warao group from jungles of Brazil, the ordinary relations of pairing off are suspended during a period called Mamuse. It is free for all during these times.

The concept of marriage has probably started around ten thousand years back when humans started farming and had to become organized. The nomad became a settler as he had to stay at one place to farm. The daily chores started, with that work required to be done got slowly distributed among men and women. Till then the concept of ownership may have been there; the decision of ownership was based on who was powerful. But in the normal course, living together must have been random and flexible. I read a very interesting theory which said that a child was born by the collective semen of different males in the community. The thought process then was that, all those who “took part” in the birth of the child had an equal responsibility to take care of the child. With farming, ownership, these concepts started changing a bit. Both the father and the mother of the child could be defined. Before farming days, life and death were so uncertain that it was thought that the common arrangement of “collective semen theory” will provide the child with at least one father.

Like fashions, traditions also keep on changing, evolving to suit the requirement of that time. From the arrangement of simply deciding to live together or pairing off, the modern method is the live-in arrangement. The modern thinking also thinks in terms of not producing a progeny but pairs decide to adopt dogs, some animals including cats or some birds. Some pairs feel that the concept of family and children restricts their freedom, limits their career! To me, it is early days to discuss this aspect in modern times. The real effect of these decisions will be understood only when the live-in folks start retiring. In olden life was quite open and it was more public. I also have doubts if the pairs who had reached today’s retirement age were even alive. As against this, today’s life is nuclear, once your door is closed, you are completely shut off from the world. How the retired live-in pair that has crossed 70, will handle this, only time will tell!

In olden days, communities were smaller, travel was difficult hence people did not travel much. Those in the same community would know everybody. Hence the marriage or pairing off of was easy. Now the things have changed drastically. People not only married someone in different caste but they marry someone from a different race, they marry someone from different continents, countries. I am using the word marry but it could be pairing off, live-in or whatever. There is a possibility that the two came together without  knowing  much about each other’s background and family. Their customs, religions may be different. Usually, during alliances, both sides check antecedents of each other. But if the countries are different and there is a language barrier, then it must be very tricky. So, judgement of the pair is the only “green signal”. But the judgement may be blinded by love! So, the situation is difficult.

So, to me there is no right or wrong way; every situation is different and decisions are based on the best possible way forward, at that juncture. Marriage as an institution is accepted by most of us, as known to us. In olden days, the society was not as organized as it is today! Group of people living together was small knowing each other. For want of legal frame work, humans had created a social framework of what was acceptable and what was not! Almost all relationships between a man and a woman were based on open culture and flexibility till the concept of ownership came up. Things became more formal and the male dominance increased changing the concept all together. Now, with anonymity of large cities and migration to different places within the country and to other countries, this concept is under duress. Added to this is the demand for more rights by women! How the institution of marriage will be, 100 years hence, is anybody’s guess! Happy hunting? 😊😊

Happy Diwali!

Don’t forget that they are working during Diwali to keep us happy, make our Diwali happier!


On the left side in the photo is my son’s family and on the right side is my daughter’s family.

As usual, Diwali has come and will be celebrated in Gusto. Diwali is celebrated in different communities in various ways. There are traditions galore. I love traditions as long as they are harmless; traditions which lead to things like black magic and stuff are no no for me! In most cases traditions, are followed blindly and without understanding why they are followed. Now with a new found liking of trying to understand many things, I am trying to understand Diwali. In my case, I grew up in a cosmopolitan area of Marine Lines, Bombay in 60’s of the last century. Yes, we did celebrate Diwali but later I came to know that it was celebrated differently in the areas like Giragaum and Dadar, these have been predominantly Maharashtrian areas! Borivali and Thane were distant places.

Diwali is celebrated as the festival of light in India. It signifies the return of Rama to his kingdom after he triumphed over Ravana. People light oil lamps and keep them outside their houses in order to show Rama the way when dark. The festival commences with Vasu Baras or Govatsa Dwadashi and cows and calves are worshiped on this day. While this day has more importance in Maharashtra and Gujarat, south India too celebrates it as Nandini Vrat. Cows and calves are fed preparations made of wheat. People who offer prayers don’t consume milk or any wheat products on this day. This tradition is an obviously old tradition of the era when the cow was Gomata and many things revolved around the cows. Celebrating them and feeding them good stuff is probably a way to say thank you to them. In olden days food used to be mainly Jowar and Bajra. On Vasu Baras cows are fed foodstuff made up of wheat, the same way humans eat puran poli made out of wheat to celebrate festivals. The video below was shot by me near my home yesterday, where it seems there was an impromptu music arrangement was done, to create an atmosphere of festivity. ( Was it a business activity in disguise?)

I think most of our festivities are a result of some events from the life of Krishna or Rama. In the same tradition, we have Naraka Chaturdashi. Naraka Chaturdashi (also known as Kali Chaudas, Roop Chaudas, Choti Diwali or Naraka Nivaran Chaturdashi) is a Hindu festival, which falls on Chaturdashi (14th day) of the Krishna Paksha in the Vikram Samvat Hindu calendar month of Ashvin. It is celebrated after Vasu Baras.  The Hindu literature narrates that the asura (demon) Narakasura was killed on this day by Krishna, Satyabhama and Kali. Hence it  is also referred to as Naraka-Chaturdashi. Kali Chaudas is a day to abolish laziness and evil which create hell in our life and shine the light on life.

One good thing is that the  people celebrate the festivals with a lot of enthusiasm. But now they do it differently. Some families come together, some travel together. Some travel but come home on Laxmi Pujan day. Some families have Diwali gambling sessions, some have Diwali drinking sessions but people come together. A new trend has started some years back. There are early morning music festivals, starting at 6 am. The artists sing, dance and play instruments. People are modifying the way things are done but the basic theme of celebration does not change, coming together.

One very interesting development has taken place this year. Supreme Court has given a decision that crackers can be burst during a limited period between 8 and 10 pm. They have also defined the noise level allowed for the bursting! Immediately, there was a hue and cry raised that this is done only against Hindu Festivals. Hindu tradition never said that a string 10000 crackers be burst creating a real cacophony and smoke. In olden days there was no technology to manufacture “bombs” which could make humans deaf! We modify the traditions incorrectly and then fight over it as if there is a further modification suggested; but what the court has done is to bring back normalcy.

We should not be against changes or modifications. The concept will not change but the way things are done will change. When there were no motorized vehicles, we used bullock carts and horse carriages. Due to non-availability of alternate transport, people still use Camels to go from one place to another, in deserts. By all means find different ways to celebrate, find innovative ways to bring joy to this world! My dear friend Jayprakash and we have made sure that we met every year in Diwali for a long time. But this time he and Bharati have traveled to China and will spend their Diwali traveling. 排灯节快乐 Jayprakash!

Laxmi Pujan, Padwa and Bhaubeej or bhai dooj are to well known for me to add something new about them. Only thing I would say is that these are for three very important aspects in lives, Laxmi Pujan is about respecting the money, Padwa is about Husband and wife, and Bhaubeej is about brothers and sisters! Money is a practical need of the life and relations mentioned are the most important ones in our lives other than our parents.

Diyas or lamps lit are supposed to show the path to Ram and Sita to come back home after the dark period in life; the lamps also hustle the bad things or demons to go away. The crackers are burst during these days as a celebration; we do it after we win an important cricket match, too. The crackers are also burst to scare away the devil or demons. Please make sure that us humans are not affected by the loud noise.

I am sure world over, there are different traditions which are followed for thousands of years; but make sure its not done blindly. Keep them relevant for times we live in! Each individual, each family may do whatever that brings joy to them and to others. If you go to buy something in shops, wish Happy Diwali to strangers, wish Happy Diwali to shop keepers. Wish Happy Diwali to auto driver, wish happy Diwali to all the people who are working during Diwali, to make your Diwali merrier. Don’t forget that they are working during Diwali to keep us happy, make our Diwali happier! They also have their own families, they also have their spouses and children and siblings. They are going out of the way to make this occasion happier for us!

Another thing that we need to do is to redefine demons or devils or whatever you want to call them. In olden times devils were like Ravan but now the demons are modern day Ravans. But besides that there are demons like pollution, noise pollution, corruption and many such things. On the occasion of Diwali we can make resolutions like doing social work, helping out poor financially, share your professional knowledge  with society, pro bono!

I read a very interesting interview in today’s newspapers. A couple of business people who sell crackers were being interviewed. A family has been running the business for last 50 years. They said this year, the cracker sale is low and they are facing resistance from their children and grandchildren regarding the selling of crackers. This younger generation is talking about noise, pollution and stuff like that. They are saying that probably the days are numbered for this businesses! I can feel that the number of crackers being burst this year are markedly less! Happy Diwali!