Does anyone read your blog, Pramod?

I publish my blogs on WordPress and share them with friends on WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and email. One friend from on a WhatsApp group wrote to me a poignant message, “Pramod? Anybody reading your blog? 😄😄” Honestly, I do not know how I should react to such comments. By the way, on our group itself, there was a big discussion on the blog referred by this friend, which was the result of many people reading my blog.

By remaining silent, I may encourage him to write more such remarks. If I had replied to my friend, I would not have gained anything. I don’t need to explain and justify to anyone why I write blogs. Writing has now become part of my daily routine. I feel very uncomfortable if I am not able to read or write on any day. So, it would be like explaining to my friend why I breathe!

Then a thought came to my mind; the WhatsApp group which I am talking about are my classmates who are mostly in the age group of 70 plus. Recently one of our classmates celebrated his 75th birthday. So, my friends are getting older. Old age brings specific difficulties as you age. A few friends have only biologically aged, but some have aged mentally also. Illnesses are something totally different. Diseases can catch you unawares at any age; nobody is ever prepared for serious illness. But I also want to share with you that some of my friends have remained quite fit; they still travel and work. Some others are mentally very alert and enjoy life fully in the golden phase of life.

I am sharing my thoughts about those friends who are unwell, not fit enough or those who have decided that they have become old. The idea came in my mind after reading the lovely message sent by my friend, which was discussed above. I feel bad for him. Is he unwell? Is he mentally disturbed for some reason? I am also going to share the experiences of other friends and how some of them handled tough situations.

Let me start with our friend. I had called him a few months back to find out how he was. He said that currently, he was not keeping good health and hence did not feel like attending group meetings. I assumed that he must be getting himself treated by doctors. But his messages on the group indicate that something is not right. He writes vague; he sometimes asks meaningless questions. Sometimes he asks queries about some messages after a week. Maybe he is not using WhatsApp regularly. But the quality of his messages indicates that he should take more care of his health. Initially, he used to send messages about some unproven non-conventional treatments on serious ailments like cancer! Even after suggesting to refrain from posting such messages, he continued. At the end of one group dinner, I had to publicly tell him the ill effects of sending details about unproven treatment for severe illnesses like cancer. Before he questioned me about my knowledge on the subject, I told him, “Last year, I was treated for cancer for three months. I am talking from my personal experience.”

I will share some good sides also from the group! All of us were together in Engineering College (COEP) in Pune. During our careers, many have done well. But it is interesting to know what some of us are doing during the golden phase of life. Vilas has become a well-known palmist and teaches palmistry. He is very busy doing what he enjoys. Vasant has gone into social work but never talks about it unless asked. Another friend is active in writing about Tatwadyan. A friend Suresh still works full time but takes Yoga courses in Sydney, Australia. Rajendra has kept himself busy in teaching Brahmavidya. I want to tell him jokingly that he is more active now than he used to be during his career.

I write blogs on varied subjects but never wrote anything about our group. Our friend Shashi is instrumental in getting and keeping people together. He comes up with novel ideas and starts some discussion on a subject. Such messages invoke a lot of comments and reviews which includes criticism too. But these things make the group lively. Another activity we have on the group is solving puzzles Sudhakar and Shriniwas are the maths wizards from the group. Hats off to them. They are very comfortable with anything to do with maths.

For obvious reasons I am not writing the names of some friends when I write about them. A couple of them are down with paralysis — one since about ten months and the other for almost two and a half years. One of them also needs the support of the pacemaker for his heart! Friends go and meet them because of the restrictions on the movement. A friend is going through chemotherapy every month. He has 15 bad days every month. But all of them are bravely facing what destiny has given them.

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I found this beautiful message on the internet and found that it is very appropriate. These friends who are going through significant illnesses, and are handling them bravely. One of our friends has almost become blind due to diabetes issues. How can we contribute to making their life a little more exciting? In the same vein as in the message above I will say, “Let our friends enjoy our WhatsApp banter. It is their only current way of communicating daily with many friends. We should show them empathy- I will never use the word “Sympathy”. These are our brave friends, so they need empathy. On the group, there are specific rules and regulation which all must follow, but if these friends break the norms once in a while, we can softly and personally inform them, or the best way will be to talk to them. Don’t forget that a friend has 15 bad days every month. Other friends are going through the tough grind every day. At least to me, their words will be like a beautiful song to me; let us not have cages made of stringent rules. We need not be very rigid!  Provide them with a tree to sit on! If in our golden period, we are not able to empathise and give love to others, when are we going to do it? We need to throw away that small word EGO from our system, which will make us softer and better human beings.

To my dear friend who asked me if anyone reads my blogs! Friend, why not try and read some of my blogs. Especially read the current one. It is about love and empathy. Throw the ego and sarcasm away. Have you forgotten that we have two gems or diamonds, in our group, whichever way you want to describe? Sonya and Pravin! How much pleasure do they give us by sharing their paintings, poems, small gems of information from literature or old poems? Pravin has lately become शीघ्र कवी. He quickly writes poems on the current topics of discussions. He recited some of them during Poona Club lunch; you missed them.

Finally, reply to your query. First, there is one person who reads my blog, me! 🙂🙂 Friend one of my blogs last year was read by 675 people, and a recent one was read by 350 people. In a year, thousands read my blogs from the world over. How do I know this? Whenever anyone reads my blog, I get a message that is how I know the details. If you have the fear that I am making money on writing blogs, no, I am not! Are you even aware that Vijay Saheta has already written his first blog a couple of weeks back? Ravi Mahuli writes hundreds of blogs about Ved and Tatwadyan. So please try and keep your mind open. Try and read a few. Maybe you would start writing blogs about your favourite subject, Farmers and their issues!  Do some research, and you will know that the blog can be written in any language.

I love when people ask me questions about what I write. It helps me improve further and makes me think differently, thereby increasing my horizon. Your three or four words gave me a subject for the blog! A big thank you!

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Modernity, Life’s full circle!

 

Oldage3A couple of days back, I was talking to a classmate of mine. I had called to wish her on her 70th birthday! I was pleased when she said, “Pramod, I feel as if I am around 50 or 55 but surely not 70!” The in and around 70 generations, was born after India got independence from the British in 1947. Our behaviour, thinking and attitude depend on our personal experiences, and the way society acts. Under Britishers, the Indian public, government officials had a different attitude towards Goras! Indians would treat Britishers with deference. My father was a police officer, and whenever he spoke of Britishers, I could feel that he would talk with a lot of respect to the Britishers. It was the result of 150 years of British dominance. My father, otherwise, was not a docile personality. Such an attitude could be seen in the sports arena too! Sunil Gavaskar was the first cricketer who showed “attitude” with his bat and then as a person against foreigners.

Later generations have changed; it can be seen in the behaviour of Tendulkars and Kohlis! As people started travelling internationally and met foreigners regularly for business or otherwise, the change was seen in society, in general. But change is not seen on personal levels in certain areas of life. Lately, I see people writing emotional stories and sharing their views about family-related issues. Our generation has become, so-called old, but due to migration, our children could be anywhere in the world right from Timbuktu to Rio de Janeiro; the children have spread for work and due to immigration. The result is that the parents live “alone” as per current discussions. When husband and wife are both around, how can they be alone?

The thought of lonely parents is mainly due to love but also due to unchanged attitude towards life. The post-independence generation did not migrate as much as the current generations do. They were in touch with the base more often. The life expectancy during that period was much less compared with today. The males from the older generation died just after retirement. In those days, the nuclear families had not come up. Hence the retired parents would continue to live in the joint family. They never felt “alone”.

Probably in various stories or write-ups I read (I call them sob stories which friends don’t like), people mix up the words “Alone” and “Loneliness”. When the parents are together, they are not alone by definition. But they can be lonely. But to me, loneliness is the isolation that comes with an expectation unmet, a feeling unreturned. According to my thinking, this is the crux of the matter.

Both parents and children would become and remain unhappy if they do not train their minds to become detached. Life will be much easier if there are no expectations. The closeness and love between them are natural, but remaining too attached causes all the issues. When people live in different cities, states or nations, you cannot expect anybody to be available at the drop of a hat! In today’s business and work scenario, work pressures are high. People are sometimes even worried to take their annual holidays lest they become redundant in today’s competitive world. What does the world detach mean? It means disconnected. Synonyms for detaching are dispassionate or uninvolved.

Once both sides learn to remain detached, life becomes much more manageable. My generation has been luckier than our parent’s generation. We had the benefits of better education, slightly better family finances, more opportunities than the previous generations. We have travelled in bullock carts as well as in Concordes! We have written letters on postcards, and we are using WA and FB! Our life and lifestyle have changed from the rationing of foods to plenty of everything. We bought Coca Cola for 25 paise; now we don’t mind paying Rs.250/ for a cup Coffee!

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My friend HK and his wife are in this photo. They go around on their bikes all over Pune district regularly.

Now my suggestion is that we should also change our thinking about relationships and responsibilities! We also have the benefit of better health compared to the older generation. Should our thought processes also not become modern? When we have done so many things during our working days, why can’t we manage our lives post the 70’s? What is the big deal? Should we be dependent on our children for support during this golden phase? Financial dependence and needs can be different for each individual and family. These requirements should be resolved by each family but besides that, why we cannot be independent of children? There could be health issues. Your child may be living in the same city, or maybe she lives 100 km from where you live. That does not mean that the children will have time to help and support you regularly.

On similar lines, children should also understand that your parents growing older does not mean that they are helpless or lonely. The technology that has brought back your old friends, your classmates, are also being used by your parents. They are also having their alumni meets. They meet their friends, and in some cases maybe their ex-flames! Life is changing; there is more openness. We hear of cases where people are meeting each other for companionships. In case of death of one of the spouses, parents of both sexes look for friendship, companionship or in some cases remarriage too! The parents are mature enough or sometimes may not be mature enough. But it is their life; children can give suggestions but let the seniors take the decisions about life.

The seniors should think like what my classmate said the other day. The cliché “age is just a number” becomes relevant. Health permitting, you need not “feel” old. It is up to us! I have come across people who are of the same age as me but talk and feel like a 90-year-olds. I had shared a story about the parents of my Japanese friend. The father is 93, and the mother is 87. The father regularly goes out and travels by Metro to get their groceries etc. It is because they must have decided to remain independent of the children.

Parents, venture out in the bad, bad world, and then you will realise that it is a good, good world! Children, don’t you worry too much about your parents; after all, they are the ones who have brought you up! There is some chance that they know something about the world, is it not! Don’t go overboard about splurging on your parents; they know that you also have your own life! You need to take that holiday to see the midnight Sun! Your children will be going to Oxfords and Harvards of this world! Be sure you use your Video WhatsApp or Google Duo or Skype once in a while. You need not give them iPhone so that you can use Facetime! They are happy with what they have!

I am just saying be realistic, be practical. I humbly request to those who write “Sob Stories” on WA or FB about lonely, old parents. Some parents can get into unhappy mode again, reading such stories. Please leave them alone, let them lead their life (they will be there to support you when you need). But don’t forget that they can live happily on their own!

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Connect to be Happy!

Passing through the doors, you rush ahead and hold the door ajar for the lady! Chivalry? But in today’s times, with women power and all, this could lead to an embarrassing glance or two.  Right? No, wrong! Don’t hold that door for only the ladies but do it for men folk too! The word for this gesture changes from Chivalry to empathy! Show empathy friends; you connect emotionally with others by showing compassion! Such acts are essential, and this is what differentiates humans from other species. An experiment was conducted in the 13th century, where newly born babies were kept away from human touch, emotions and interactions. All these babies died.

I came across a term Limbic Resonance. Limbic resonance is the idea that the capacity for sharing deep emotional states arises from the limbic system of the brain. These states include the dopamine circuit-promoted feelings of empathic harmony, and the norepinephrine circuit-originated emotional states of fear, anxiety and anger. Enough of tech terms which we don’t understand. It is the empathy and non-verbal communication between mammals that connects them. A child hugs the mother when there is fear or doubt in mind. The hugging gets things going in the child’s brain, and normalcy is slowly restored. Without Limbic Resonance humans will become unreachable and heartless like lesser animals. This property is common in all mammals.

There are some lessons about relationships. The first is that social connections are perfect for us and that loneliness kills. It turns out that people who are more socially connected to family, to friends, to the community, are happier; they’re physically healthier, and they live longer than people who are less well connected. The experience of loneliness turns out to be toxic. People who are more isolated than they want to be from others, find that they are less happy, their health declines earlier in midlife, their brain functioning declines sooner, and they live shorter lives than people who are not lonely.

I will share an example of a friend. This friend is from a different religion than Hinduism. He lives alone in Mumbai and has gone through health issues. Luckily after the initial scare, the problem turned out to be an easier one to handle. He is a widower too! In the recent election in India, NDA looked like being a winner by miles. Media had been hyper how the NDA government will make India a Hindu state. After the election, the friend talked with his Hindu friends and requested all of them to help and make sure that Hindu fanatics do not become too aggressive. The friend asked them to ensure his safety in case of some unfortunate events. Due to loneliness, he has lost touch with society and his mind must be hyperventilating. Friend, start getting back in touch with the community, don’t remain away, don’t force loneliness on yourself. That you live alone is a fact. But whether to be lonely is in your hands!

A friend has an interesting way of looking at life. I was walking with him once; the friend had his dog with him. On a footpath, one beggar was sitting with his dog. The friend stopped, gave the beggar some alms. Then he asked the beggar about his dog, and they exchanged notes about the dogs. While we were moving ahead, I could see the shine in the eyes of the beggar. My friend said, “ I only acknowledged that the beggar exists. Such acknowledgement of persons is fundamental in life when you have nothing else to look forward to”.

I have experienced this personally. Once during my morning walk, I observed some very senior citizens, standing and chatting among themselves, outside the older people’s home. I stopped and said hello to them. One thing led to another, and we spent an hour talking together. My chat, now I realise, was making them feel wanted in this world. It gave them the recognition that at least some people in the world are aware of their existence.

Showing empathy is one way of connecting with people. A way to show your empathy is to listen, summarise and show! Very few people have the art of listening to people, and I am not one of them. When I am discussing things with others, I tend to answer even before the other person has completed what she wants to say. But if you follow the “listen, summarise and show” method, then the other person feels nice. The person feels that you are connected with them.

We see some people selling stuff at the road signal junctions. They are trying to live life and earn some money. Many people behave very brusquely with them. Some ignore them as if they don’t exist; others make some rude comments. It is quite simple. Is there any harm in showing them some empathy? Why not just smile at them and indicate that you do not want to purchase anything or say that you do not want to buy the stuff. This small gesture will make them feel a little better, knowing that someone is acknowledging their existence.

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You don’t have to change the world or find your one real purpose to lead a meaningful life. A good life is a life of goodness — and that’s something anyone can aspire to, no matter their dreams or circumstances. You don’t have to achieve something that will give you a Nobel prize. Giving a little joy to others is good enough. I had mentioned in one of the blogs,  the tag line of the Voice of America radio station of the ’60 s of the last century! If you see someone without a smile, give him one of yours!

To resonate with others, we need to connect when it matters. Such connections nurture both us and others and earn trust. Just as in cricket, timing is everything. Proper timing will score you six runs in place of dot ball. It is here the metaphorical doors come in. How do you feel when someone holds the door open for you—especially when you’ve got your hands full? When would you hold open a door for another person? Keeping a door open at the right time indicates tending to the need of the others when essential.

All those people want to be understood and appreciated. By connecting in this way, they trust you, follow them, and you are actually looking out for their interests. You are attentive and willing to open doors for them. The power of resonance will keep you happy and healthy and open doors for you too!

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So friends, open that door and hope that you have done it at the right time; you will see the inkling of a smile in the eyes of others, a little brightness, and an instant connect! The gesture might open some vistas for you! By the way, even empowered ladies love this, let me assure you!

Old age? What is that?

I have shared a poem below that I read on WhatsApp. The poet talks of when one should accept that a person has reached old age. The poem has many lines giving hints to know when one has become old. My counter lines against each line are written in Red.

*केंव्हा समजाव …..?*

*कि, आपल वय झालय*

 का समजावं की वय झालयं! 

 ★ सकाळी गजर होण्याआधी जाग आली की समजाव ….

 झोप झाली आहे 

★ सांगीतलेल्या गोष्टींचा काही तासात विसर पडला की. समजाव…

 त्या महत्वाच्या नव्हत्या 

★ आवाज, गोंगाट याचा त्रास व्हायला लागला की समजाव ……

 ऐकण्याचा आजार नाही 

★ घरातील व्यक्ती वेळेवर न आल्यावर तगमग झाली की समजाव …..

  त्या व्यक्तीचा फोन खराब आहे 

★ रस्त्यावरील वाहनांच्या horn चा त्रास व्हायला लागला की समजाव …..

लोक सुधारणार नाहीत

★ शेजारुन वाहन जोरात गेल्यावर त्याचा वेग आणि आवाज यामुळे भितीने कंपने निर्माण झाली की समजाव …..

 की आपण मधुन चालत आहोत. 

★ एकच गोष्ट परत परत सांगायला लागलो की समजाव …..

 समोरचा लक्श देत नाही 

★ दुपारी डोळा लागल्यावरही मी जागाच होतो असे वाटले की समजाव …..

 की अजुन झोपायला हरकत नाही 

★ रस्ता ओलांडताना पाय थोडे थबकायला लागले की समजाव …..

ट्राफ़िक जास्त आहे  

★ ओळखीच्या चेहऱ्याचे नांव पटकन आठवले नाही की समजाव …..

 ती व्यक्ती बर्याच दिवसात भेटली नाही 

★ बाहेरच्या जेवणापेक्षा घरची पोळी भाजी आवडु लागली की समजाव …..

घरचं जेवण बाहेरच्या जेवणा इतकं चांगल असतं.  

★ ऊठतांना,बसतांना हात गुडघ्यावर आणि तोंडात देवाचे नांव आले की समजाव …..

 दारू जास्त झाली आहे 

     सगळ्यात महत्त्वाचे-

★ जेव्हा मुल म्हणतात बाबा तुम्ही थांबा,जरा शांत व्हा मी बघतो की समजावे …..

 अखेर मुलगा कामाला लागला 

★ बँकेत गेल्यावर कोणीतरी हळूच “काका जरा पेन देता का?” असे म्हणाले की समजाव की आपल वय झालय …..

🙏🙏🙏

मागे वळून म्हणा काही म्हणालात? 

Since the poem is in Marathi, I have tried to explain my thinking in English, about some of those lines.

Above lines are from a poem being shared on various WhatsApp groups where I am a member. The group members are typically educated, and their age group is around 70! The gist of the poem is how one understands that one has become old. One is born,  growing up, getting old, retiring and passing are the phases of one’s life. One needs to celebrate all the aspects or stages through which we pass. Happy and sad are events and not phases.  But this poem talks about when someone can know that the person has become old, sadly.

It appears that generations before our generation lived a life which was quite different than today’s life. Most of the changes that have taken place have happened in the last ten to fifteen years. Our generation calls this golden period. Depending on finances available and the health condition, people do many things which they could not do during their working days. Along with this, technology has brought many old and long lost friends back to our fold. Those who embrace the new technology and newer way of life are happy during the golden phase of life.

When you have a happy phase in your life, should you be embracing the thought process of getting old by saying, “Oh, I am getting old”! Yes, biologically nothing has changed; people become old, at some stage, they fall sick, and in the end, they merge with the nature. As I have already said, the phase is never sad or unhappy, but the events can be sad or happy. I will share my thoughts on some of the lines of the poet. I have written my say on each of the point raised by the poet, in Marathi above.

The first line says, “When should I recognise I have become old”? My say is “why should we bother about what age we are?” That is precisely my point. How does it matter what age we have reached? Things change biologically, but there need not be changes in our rational thinking. Our mood changes with events in life but it happens in every phase of life! Mood changes should not be correlated with old age.

Another line says, if you forget things which you were told in a few hours, then you should recognise that you have become old. If it is humour, then my sense of humour is different. From my younger days, I tend not to remember things if they are not necessary! It is a practical way of ignoring unimportant things. Connecting the ignoring of small stuff to age is not correct.

A family member has not reached home on time, one’s anxiety indictaes old age. Well, I don’t agree here too! In today’s traffic, it can happen, the cell phone may be discharged. If someone’s nature is anxious, then that person would be worried at any age, young or old!

The poet says, “When one starts repeating things again and again! Consider that you have become old.” I know two people very close to me, who  have been repeatings things again and again since their 30’s.

Most of the lines written by the poet are in a similar vein. If this happens, if that happens, consider you are old! This thought process has been the result of history when old age was a tough period of life. It was a period in olden times when there was not much to do! Sometimes when older people were seen enjoying life, others were surprised, they were alarmed. In today’s times, people make new friends, new friends of different sex too. Being friends of different sexes, even today is looked at as a surprise. But people at old age have realised that they need friends even at an older age. And why not? The old couples stay “alone” as families have become nuclear and are spread all over the world.

We see some couples getting married at “old age” when their respective spouses have passed. Is this taboo? At one stage widow marriage or marriages by divorcees was also not acceptable in the society. I think that was wrong. What is wrong in hoping to have companionship? Life’s basic needs of having friendship, fellowship do not change as one’s age increases. Is it something wrong if an “old man” loves to watch Tom & Jerry cartoons? Is it wrong if an “old lady” goes out with friends for ice cream?

Friends, I urge of all you to accept that biological age increases. But to hyphenate or connect old age with some minor changes in one’s faculties is wrong! You cannot call someone old because you see white hair; you may see someone with hearing slightly impaired. They are not old.  Someone may call you “Kaka or Uncle” does not mean that you are old. It is the Indian way of respecting the people older than you. In India, a thirty year old or  a twenty year will not call me Pramod. I will be called Pramod uncle. That has nothing to do with old age, it has to do with our culture!

Those who have flair for writing, should try and write about positive things in life! I have read comments from people on the poem above. Most liked the thought process and contents of the poem. My question to all is why not come out of the old ways of “enjoying” the sadness. Post independence there was  a thought process in India. Rich were supposedly weak and poor were strong as they could withstand tough life. This was glorifying the poverty. Simliarly, I feel that such poems suggest to us to accept that things are going to become tough and sad as we grow old! Biologically becoming old should be accepted as a fact of life. But start touting the golden period of life, enjoy, have fun and never say, “Oh! I have become old”! Changes in body faculties be damned!

Alameda-Karve Nagar!

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I urge you, folks, to “see” this blog on a Laptop or a computer. There are photos and videos which will look better on a larger screen.

Alameda is a public promenade bordered with trees. The word has come from Spanish “álamo poplar”! Poplar is a tall fast-growing tree found on the northern part of the hemisphere, away from the equator. When we travel to foreign countries, we see many promenades with a lot of trees. Such trees are possible mainly in the areas where we have perennial rains. Discipline and culture are other sides that come into the picture.

My friend Vijay shared the word Alameda with me as he came across it for the first time. The word made me think of such areas in Pune. I live in Pune in an area called Karve Nagar. Pune does not have perennial rain, but it rains only during three or four months in monsoons. Still, we have many such roads with green trees bordering the streets. These are seen prominently in Karve Nagar, Pashan, Koregaon Park, Prabhat Road, Model Colony and camp areas of Pune, besides some other places.

How is this possible? I am sure that our ancestors and the current citizens do have the love for trees, though many trees have been taken down during the development of housing colonies. The riverfront demarcates Karve Nagar area on one side. In all other areas, there were vast guava orchards. Youngsters may not believe it, but this area was very green even in early ’70 s of the last century. Even today, though a lot of bungalows and buildings have been built, greenery is maintained, and it’s enjoyable to walk in this area.

 

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I am trying to share a few videos and photos of the Karve Nagar area with you. When I go for my walks, I get a feeling as if I know these guys, the trees. They sway with the breeze and are sometimes very still when there is no wind. Trees also love the first rains, like me. The way they shade their leaves every year and adorn the new ones is a treat to our eyes. They have something to offer all the times, provided we have time for them.

The colours, the smells, the rustle of leaves, swinging like crazy when it is windy!  Trees have many things to offer. Some provide shade; all provide oxygen. The fragrance from the flowers and fruits they offer is nature’s gift to us. Trees are the best silent and not so silent friends we can have. They keep creating music provided we have an ear to listen. It is scientifically proven that the growth of plants is helped by music!

 

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Trees teach us to be patient and keep on surging ahead in adversities. They are firmly grounded, literally! So they cannot walk away from what is hurting them, and cannot run away from problems. They keep on growing towards the Sunlight and keep on digging their roots into the earth looking for water.

Trees seem to be able to accomplish anything, such as being able to grow on the sides of cliffs with just a little bit of soil and a lot of determination. Best friends are determined to succeed themselves, but also demand more of you; they are just happy seeing you succeed as well.

Trees provide fresh air, and food humans need to survive. Best friends help us survive as well — they give us the love and support we need to keep going in the hard times (after a breakup).

Childhood isn’t complete without climbing trees, picking mangoes, and pretending to be monkeys swinging on low hanging branches. Like trees, no matter how old we get, we need the playmate that can help us forget about everything and live in the moment.

Trees are essential for our happiness and health, so we should give back what the trees need to thrive. Best friends need us just like we need them.

Trees provide shelter and protect us from the environment. Whether its providing shade from the sun or shelter from the rain, they will always be there. Best friends will fight to keep you safe even if it means clashing with you!

A good friend is someone that you can tell anything to and trust with your biggest secrets.

We know that trees won’t always be here if we don’t give back what we take away. Best friends don’t ask for much, but we care for them, so we give anyway.

A little bit of fertiliser and a whole lot of love goes a long way. Someone has come up with a beautiful idea. When we go out for a walk, we can take a bottle full of water to give water to a tree on the road. Government and other agencies can’t water all the trees.

Trees, just like people grow, change, and develop scars over time. Each tree is unique and requires a different environment to meet their full potential. Each tree is like a friend! My closest friend is Jaya! Plus I have Vijay, Sonya, Suya, Sharya, Nayan, Pradeep, Shashi, Ramya and many many more friends. We have Gul Mohar, Banyan, Laburnam, Mogra, Parijatak. As friends, the varieties of the trees, their way of loving humans are different! But the common thing between the trees and friends is that they are always there.

In our busy lives, we sometimes forget them both. We lived in Model Colony for 30 plus years. We had some coconut trees and a Gulmohar tree, along with many Ashoka trees in our condo. During that phase, I could not catch up with both friends and trees due to the so-called busy lives! But Lo! They both are still around looking wiser, mature and some older. When I went down the memory lane and became misty-eyed when I remembered that one of the coconut trees had to be chopped down; I lost my dear friend Dileep during this period! But that is life!

I am a bit of show off today! After my chat with Vijay, I took some videos and photos of Alameda in Karve Nagar. I hope you enjoy them. Please pardon me that I could not avoid the vehicle passage in the videos! And some people too are seen!

The first one is the beginning of a beautiful street.

https://youtu.be/xQw5hVmaXXc

The second one is taken in the middle of the same road.

https://youtu.be/itDHZAbN7pA

The last one is at the end of the same route. Look at the number of trees and the greenery in general. Let me tell you that there are business centres and apartment complexes in this area.

https://youtu.be/HAQ7hpgzceU

The videos below are of another road.

https://youtu.be/h54TClNWTf4

Here I have tried to show that even the lanes joining the main roads are full of trees! In fact all the bylanes in this area also full of our green friends!

https://youtu.be/yHW0C3Lpkko

I have already written a couple of blogs about trees. Here is the link for these,  if you want to read them.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/05/09/flora-and-humans-in-karve-nagar/

One below was written in May 2014!

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/parijatak-%e0%a4%89%e0%a4%b0%e0%a5%8d%e0%a4%ab-nyctanthes-arbor-tristis/

Who said all is not well with this world?

At the peak of happiness!

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is fairest of them all? This sentence is from the Snow White fairy-tale. Her mother wants the mirror to reply. In the German language, the fair is interpreted clearly as “beauty”. But English interpretation is a little different. Fair in English is about the colour and complexion of the skin. Even in the white race, the “fair” or with the paler skin or blonde is considered more beautiful. But when we talk of the weather, fair means pleasant weather.

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Similarly, a question came to mind, who is the happiest of all? What is the meaning of happiness and what is our interpretation of happy? Happiness is a feeling or showing pleasure or contentment. The same question can be asked to happiness mirror. Who is the happiest of all? The obvious answer is the babies. Their primary needs are food and sleep. If they get their feed, on time, they have the least of the worries in this world. They will go to sleep when they feel sleepy irrespective of what is happening around them. But then we don’t remain babies, all our life.

I get a feeling that the older people would be the happiest among all groups. I am sure that you have already thought that Pramod is getting older and senile. But look at the things from the view of old people. Old means old, I am young as I will complete 70 this year.

Thinking like an older person is thinking about resilience and focusing on “what is”, as opposed to “what is not” — accepting your mortality by not being so afraid of it. When you are older, you view the time horizons in front of you differently. You understand that the days are finite, and we might as well enjoy the ones we have left. The waking up in the morning and saying, “Thank God for another day” is an indication of accepting the truth. I had read a joke about old age. A person tells his friend, “Look, buddy, my doctor told me the other day to think positively. He said that if you wake up and find that you do not have a single aching part in your body, safely assume that you are dead. Don’t bother even to get up!”  That was the doctor’s way of telling us to accept the facts of life.

As we grow old, we tend to forget some things, but it is selective forgetfulness. I was treated for cancer from December 2013 to February 2014. I was required to take 34 Radiations along with Immunotherapy. These caused me body rash, cough and a lot of pain in the neck, no pun intended. I took a lot of pain killers in those days. But I don’t remember these things much; I only have a vague memory of the trauma I faced. Selective forgetfulness is the gift given to us by old age. A study says that we become forgetful, but we forget more adverse events from our life. The corollary to the phenomenon is that we become happier. We also learn over a period that bad things in life are not special treatment meted out only to us. Everybody goes through different situations. Knowing this does not reduce the effect such traumas have on us. But it reduces impact knowing that it is a common problem.

You come to understand that the quality of our lives isn’t based on the events of our lives. It’s in reaction to the events in our lives. That’s a useful thing, to realise “I don’t have control over some of the events in my life, like the weather, but I actively have a say in how I respond to the weather.”

Which is the relevant keyword in our thinking? Happiness or Choice, to me it’s “Choice.” It’s declaring that you won’t be defined or determined by the circumstances of your life. You have a say in this. That declaration is liberating. That liberation is happiness. Happiness isn’t just the thing you choose; it’s the act of choosing it that makes you happy.

There are various things that we can do to improve our thinking and quality of life. If someone has depression, it is a condition that needs to be treated and not something that will go away by thought. It also won’t ensure that you will have a better future. But positive thinking will make sure that you look at at your life in such a way, that at your current situation feels happier. We should focus on “what is” and not “what we don’t have”! The younger people always think oppositely, as they believe that life is infinite!

To understand happiness at a particular stage, a person needs to be of that age. We were all children at some stage; hence we know what makes children happy! But when younger people interact with older ones, they don’t understand the real needs of the old people. We say that this old man or a woman talks too much. The issue is that as you grow older, you get less and fewer opportunities to talk.

On top of that, one can have hearing issues. So, the conversation can become difficult. Very few younger people will understand these issues, but many times it is the younger ones who decide the needs of older people. At old age, if people develop the ability to accept life’s realities, life’s experience is much more enjoyable. These people don’t need to fight hard to achieve their targets, as their targets are always short term targets. They know their financial and physical limitations and need to accommodate within whatever they have!

Friends, people of my age group sometimes have family responsibilities. But the older group does not have any such issues. Try and make the lives of older people happier. On my way to the gym, I see an old man sitting in the home premises watching things. Once I went and chatted with him for 15 minutes. He did not want me to go. He is 95 years of age and had most of his faculties intact. Near my home, there is an old people’s home. Once early morning, I had gone out to take some photographs. A group of three old people was chatting outside the gate of the home. I stopped and had an interaction with them. I could get away only after an hour or so. All of them wanted to talk; it appeared that it was their primary need. They called another friend who came out, and also joined the chat. From their face, I could see that they enjoyed the conversation very much. I was only asking a few questions to take things forward.

I am confident that older people are the ones who are the happiest in their lives provided they get the right atmosphere and the proper support. Their needs are minimal; others need to find some time for them! Don’t forget that we are also going to reach that phase at some time, hopefully! So, it will be a good idea to propagate such a thought process in society! Let us make a beginning somewhere !

Stuttering Longevity! When to shut the tap?

A couple of years back, I had written a blog titled “Longevity bane or boon!” The link for the blog is given below.  In a couple of years, our thought processes change, situations change, more information becomes available. The present blog can be considered as an addendum to the old blog.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2017/08/02/longevity-bane-or-boon/

Last fifty to seventy years have seen life expectancy go up and up and up! Obvious reasons for this are better medical treatment, higher incomes allowing families to afford treatments for managing illnesses. Add to this better diagnostics and a better understanding of the diseases. Life has become interesting; knowledge about exercise and diets is also improving. All this has led to improved longevity.

But everything in life always has two sides. The sides are good and evil, rosy and dark. Like the pros and cons, we have a positive way of looking at things and a negative way of looking at things. One important aspect of humans is emotions. The human brain is supposedly more advanced than that of most species, and it is seemingly flexible in thinking. Hence we look at death and maybe death like situation, in a different way.

Are we practical in our thinking? Are we pragmatic in our thinking? In most cases, the answer is no! In the last couple of months, three persons known to me, between the age of 67 to 75, died “suddenly”! The 75-year old person was leading a bonus life as he had escaped the death a few years back, miraculously. Another person did die “suddenly” as we knew her quite well and know the details. She had normal health issues which never indicated she is passing shortly. Then there was one more “sudden” death! We never knew his “real” health situation, but he looked quite unwell about ten days back. I am talking about my neighbours from the condo where I lived for 35 years of my life! Out of the three, two looked normal, moved around or travelled unattended. They attended our society meetings and took part in the proceedings.

My point is would their close ones, or they have a preferred death after they got into full assist mode? Knowing them, I do not think they would have liked to live a life where they were dependent on someone else all the time. Am I talking of euthanasia? Yes and No! What is the point in being around in this world when you do not and cannot contribute anything? By contribution, I do not mean writing some stories or treaties. But live life with minimum assistance. No harm in taking help but if you need help like we help babies to grow, then it is not worth it. I may be a little blunt, and you may think I am crude and rude! But I am not, I am pragmatic! Would an “intelligent” human being like to live like a stuttering engine? Would someone splutter all the time and love to continue living? I don’t think so!

Sometimes, it is the near and dear ones who take decisions leading to such situations. Emotions take precedence over pragmatism. Medical practitioners take Hippocratic oath when they complete their degree. I am giving below the definition of Hippocratic oath!

The Hippocratic Oath is a symbol of a collective moral and ethical promise from doctors united in a singular purpose to bring healing to their patients. It is named after Hippocrates, a Greek physician who was born in 460 BC.

This oath ensures that the doctors try their best to save the life of the patient who has come to them for the treatment. The oath in today’s times becomes a double-edged tool. Many times it so happens that patient is taken in for condition A and then condition B evolves. Since doctors are under the Hippocratic Oath, they try different drugs, procedures and support systems to keep the patient alive. At this point, the moral dilemma starts. How much intervention should be done to keep the patient alive? What aspects should be pondered until the decisions are taken? Doctor’s Hippocratic Oath is on one side, the family’s moral conflict and trauma are on the other side! These two conflicting thoughts clash. In real life, they don’t clash. The family tries to decide in such a way that life is not lost, though it is hanging by a single thread!

I remember an incident many years back shared by a doctor with me. A friend called him early morning for advice. The person’s father was in a hospital, all of 88 years of age. He was kept alive by use of a ventilator for a month. Hippocratic Oath and commercial side of the hospital wanted to continue the treatment. The prognosis was weak, and doctors had said that without ventilator the patient would die in 24 hours. The emotional turmoil of the family was not allowing practical decision. The friend finally decided to remove the ventilator. The old man died in 12 hours. The friend was caught in an emotional whirlpool for a lifetime, thinking “I am responsible for the death”!

What is the right age to allow someone to die without intervention? How does one know that the health condition is irreversible? How to know when to let go?  These questions arise, and they need to be answered. Else one may see a top-notch professional, a top-class cricketer or a dashing prime minister of a nation being kept alive in a condition which is traumatic even to know!

Discussion brings one to the good old question of who should look after whom? In the ordinary course of time, parents look after the children once they are born. They are looked after until the child becomes independent. When does a child become independent? Do we have an answer for that? When life expectancy was low, humans would support their children for almost 35 to 40 % of the child’s life span. In other species, this support could be there for about 10 to 15% of their life span. Is this an advantage or a disadvantage? To me, it is more emotional. Because of low life expectancy, the children did not have to look after their parents. Nowadays it is common to have “children” who are 50 and parents around 80. Is it children’s responsibility to look after their parents? This thought goes against the basic thinking of how we want our children to be!

Yesterday at a mall, Rhea and I were going to an escalator. I jokingly told her that I am not very confident about using the escalator. She “taught” me how to do it! That is how she has been brought up. I had a similar anecdote with my grandson Suyash. He was 2 ½ years old. I was seeing him for the first time;  we went to the escalator he simply said, “I want to go up”!  He did.

Confidence with which the children and grandchildren are brought up, the things we teach them are done for a specific reason. We want them to try to do better than what we have achieved in our lives. We want them to become better persons; we want them to become global citizens with no limits. Then we become 80, do we want them to come where ever we are living, to support us? In India, systems for handling old people are still evolving. Society will find a way of doing these things. What is the point in restricting the career path of children so that they can look after us in our old age? The same question again, what is old age? When does one reach that age?

In conclusion, I can say that each individual handles life in a certain way. There can be hired support or system support. But it is not correct or mandatory for near and dear ones to give up everything whatever they are doing, to help parents in old age. The simple reason for this is we don’t know how long the help will be needed. But I am quite sure that the near and dear ones will shed a tear or two when one is gone; they do not need to feel guilty for not being around.