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.

empathy3

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!

empathy4

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!

Advertisements

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!

IMG_20190519_054149

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.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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!

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

old1

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.

Grade your pleasures!

You are in Tahiti with your beloved, lovely weather and a glass of your favourite poison is within your handshake. Consider you are watching Sachin Tendulkar batting at his prime, Roger Federer, Sachin’s friend, is sitting next to you and says. Hey, Pramod, why don’t you come and watch Wimbledon next month and watch it along with Sachin. You are out with your with wife and children and enjoying food and rides in the amusement park. You meet your college mates after a very long time and enjoying the camaraderie. How will you grade these scenarios?   

Its tough, is it not tight to grade? Look at the world from an angle of inner satisfaction. Once we do that, grading will not be difficult. To me, the pleasures can be graded as below. The list is from number five to number one in quality of grading. 

  • Basic pleasures 
    • Basic joys like good food, good clothes are what brings universal pleasures. 
    • Then there are beautiful homes, lovely scenery. 
    • But don’t forget that HE has a significant role to play. The fruits could have been simple to look at full of vitamins and minerals. But they are made beautiful to look at too! 
    • Then there is sex; it is designed in such a way that physically it is nothing, but if two persons involved, love each other then they are on cloud nine!  
    • Enjoy all the physical aspects of the world. 
  • Money pleasures 
    • We all know what money can do in life and a lot of money can do a lot of things for you. But is it so important that we can give up on things that we love? 
    • Suppose someone offers you Ten crore Rupees. Against that the person tells you to handover  one of your children forever; with the condition that you can never get in touch with your child. Will you do it? Never, you will never give up on your child whatever the offer.  
    • After you reach home, you will find that your son has spilt up Ketchup all over the kitchen and your daughter is crying because she is not allowed the pastry she loves. It takes an hour of persuasion to cool things down, but will you exchange your child screaming and howling included. No, never! 
  • Cause pleasures 
    • Suppose you come across a do or die situation in life. You are on the beach, and you find that someone is drowning. Without even thinking you jump in the water; you are an average swimmer, but you don’t think about it. The person is saved, you are tired and are resting, but the pleasure this act has given you, cannot be compared with worldly pleasures. 
    • I have read a story about Alfred Noble the inventor of dynamites. When his brother died, the local newspaper by mistake wrote his obituary. The piece talked about how much destruction dynamites had brought all over the world. Later the error was corrected, but Alfred was very much upset about the devastation caused by his invention, as written in the obituary. That is the story behind the birth of the Nobel prize. 
  • Creativity pleasure 
    • The world has seen what havoc was caused by Hitlers and Mussolinis of this world. They banned the freedom, they persecuted the Jews. They created a negative situation in the world like of which was never seen before by humanity. The war had to ultimately end, by dropping of atomic bombs, killing a large number of people. Dictators had a feeling that by putting people under control, there will be a utopia in this world.  
    • As against this, if you give freedom and allow people to create in any field, life itself is a pleasure. Creating babies and bringing them as a good human being is the greatest pleasure that one can have. 
    • To run an organisation, you need hierarchy, but that does not mean that you have a dictator, as a boss. You give freedom and people will create. Creativity gives pleasure and dictatorship leads to destruction.  
    • Many of the world’s wonders exist because the artists were given freedom.  
  • HIS pleasures 
    • Why is this the number one pleasure? Do you remember HIM as per your convenience or daily? 
    • Do you say thank to HIM daily? 
    • Are you awed by HIM? 
    • Any situation or event in life is due to HIM. To show gratitude to HIM is the greatest pleasure in this world; whatever good or bad that happens in this world is because of HIM.  
    • Imagine birth of any species. Without HIM, there would be many complications. In the ordinary course, HE has made such a complicated process of birth, easy by HIS design. 
    • Once you learn to keep some time for HIM in your daily routine, it gives us tremendous pleasure and strength to wade through life 
    • Since everything is in His control, we never feel like asking a question, why me? It teaches us to accept life as it comes, good or bad, happy or sad!  
    • Living your normal life, you can reach a spiritual phase. 
    • A Picasso or a Tagore, A Tendulkar or a Federer are His doings. All these greats have His signature.
    • Now that we have some understanding of the different types of pleasures, I will leave it to you to grade them in your way. Each person thinks differently, you need not agree with my grading. 

Try and get genuine pleasure and avoid pseudo pleasures. I had mentioned in one of my blogs, sex is a pure pleasure but watching porn is a pseudo pleasure. There is one more similar example. Cash carrying van had a problem with its back door, and bank notes fell off the truck. People ran and collected as many notes as possible. But there was one man who could collect Rs. Fifty thousand. He took the notes and handed them over to the authorities. Who had more pleasure? Those who ran away with the money or the person who returned the money? Take your call; my opinion is the person who returned the dough had more pleasure.  

Know what you’re living for. The Almighty created us to have pleasure. It’s hard work to be an Olympic runner, and it’s even harder work to become a champion human being. But you weren’t born for comfort. You were born to have pleasure. So make a decision — travel first class. 

 

  

Pratibha, my Rakhi sister!

046 (3)

Geeta Thakare nee Pratibha died yesterday 6th April 2019, on the first day of Hindu Calendar, after a brief illness. For the first time, I am writing about death in my family. My thoughts are uncoordinated, and many, many events from life are rushing in front of my eyes. She was lucky that she died after a brief illness and did not need any long-term support. She died on the Gudhi Padwa day which is a special day for Hindus, and she was born on the Laxmi Pujan day 67 years back. What more does a human want?

Jaya and I met Pratibha and her family way back in 1976 when we moved to Model Colony in Pune, where they also had a home in the same building. For the first couple of years, she would be mostly busy in the birth of her children. She had good support in Mumbai; hence her husband Deepak mostly lived alone during that phase. Once she came to Pune, we started occasionally meeting, saying hello. When we became, a family is difficult to tell. But when Jaya and I were sharing our grief with misty eyes, yesterday as we came to know about her death, we realised that Pratibha was always family. 

We came to know a fascinating anecdote from the time of her birth. In those times, the birth of a girl child was not much welcome (I am not sure how much it has changed even today); her birth was a great event for celebration, as she was the first girl child to be born in her family after a gap of one generation. She was the lucky one, the charming one.  

Unfortunately, we don’t have any memories of childhood as we met much later. But from day one we knew that she was people’s person. It was fun to see her charming the people she met; she would become close to people in real quick time. Children from both our families grew together, and she became a sister to both Jaya and me. She grew up in a family of strong personalities, her father and brother who were both doctors. Her mother was bedridden for a long time; this must have made Pratibha a responsible and caring person while she grew up in Thane near Mumbai.  

Life is full of coincidences. Her husband died more than a decade back; he had a heart event while travelling to Mumbai and a fortnight later he died. Pratibha also had a heart event while going to Mumbai last Monday. She may have had an inkling about the seriousness of her health condition. At home in Mumbai, she rested that day without putting a double lock on! She must have thought just in case! Why did she have a heart attack without signs of acute pain? She did not have diabetes, but when I checked with some doctor friends, they said that such events are common.  

When one writes about a professional person, usually many incidents about decision making, management style etc. are shared. But Pratibha was a fulltime housewife, and to me, house wife’s job or a role is the most complex one in this world. Housewife has to handle many things which include strict budgets, tantrums (everyone except the housewife has a birthright to throw tantrums), managing social occasions and contacts. Illnesses in the family are usually are expected to be handled by the lady of the house. I have seen Pratibha doing all these things with great aplomb and a smiling face, always! Her health and illnesses had always been a second priority as usually happens in our families. The mother is never supposed to be ill. Once in a while she came and chatted with Jaya to take some suggestions; it was more of R & R.  Next day she was always seen with a smiling face.  The chat was only done to recharge her batteries.  

Was she fond of chatting with others?  I used to always tease her about information she had about our neighbours. Someone’s child is not doing well in studies, and someones husband is not happy about his job. I jokingly called her All India Radio, head of news division! She would accept such teasing sportingly; once she had taken a one week course of Vipaschana! Vipaschana course has very tough rules which control the food one can eat, sleeping and wake up times and the most important was that people were not supposed to talk to each other. They had only to listen to the discourse given by the Guru. I asked her about the course and how it helped her. But knowing her love for chatting, I was pretty confident that she must have broken the rule of “No Speaking”! I asked her about the details of her roommate. The roommate was a doctor from Pune. I asked her for more details about the doctor’s specialisation and where she stayed and so on. Pratibha never realised that I was pulling her legs. After Pratibha finished sharing the details, I asked her, “Pratibha, when you were not supposed to talk to each other, how do you know so much about the doctor?” She understood the ruse and smiled at me and said, “Now I know why you were asking me so many details about the doctor?” But she would accept all such things very sportingly and with a smiling face.  

She was very fond of cooking and would love to feed others with her tasty CKP food. She was very proud of CKP cuisine. Whenever there was a discussion about CKP food, she would always say “we don’t cook it this way” or some such statement. When she said we, it was understood that it meant the CKP way! We are brahmins, and in the local language, Brahmins are called Bhat. I always teased her that we Bhats were the best! She sportingly accepted my teasing when her daughter, Mukta, got married to a Bhat!  

She was a proud mother of her son, Ashwin, when he joined NDA. She was even more satisfied when he became a pilot. But she had that a little anxiety that the mother’s face about their Air Force pilot’s sons. Recently, she had proudly invited us the attend the show of Suryakiran squadron in which Ashwin flew during NDA passing out parade.  

She went through a significant health issue more than a decade back. Jaya and I could put in our two cents to support her. But once the treatment started, she showed her discipline by rigorously following the treatment to overcome the health issues. She maintained the same regimen until her last day. But in last year she had a fall and fractured her arm. That put her in great misery, needed support to even maintain her hair. But she continued to handle life with a smiling face though in pain.  

Her mission for life was to help anyone who needed support. In between her stay with her son, she would come for a few days to be in Pune. She would stay at her home, then for a few days, she would stay with different friends. She took a great liking for her grandchildren and helped them grow into lovely kids. She would help them with their studies too. A few weeks back she came and stayed with us, she was all the time telling us about the grandchildren and their anecdotes. The pleasure of being with the grandchildren always reflected on her face. When we asked her what difficulty did she face because of painful hand? She said, “I don’t feel the pain when I am helping the kids.”

I was wearing two rakhis which she had tied to me, one was the recent one, and the other was from the previous year. She asked me, “why have you have not removed the old one?” I said, “It reminds me of my responsibilities; I keep them lest I forget the meaning of Rakhi.” But during her last battle, HE had sent an invite. Power of our love and the bond was not strong enough against HIS command!  

Sis, book a flat for us opposite you, up there. When we come up there, we can’t stay elsewhere! Yes, and we would keep the flat doors open all the time!