Balance Sheet since 22nd March 2020

I need not tell you the importance of the date 22nd March 2020. On this day, our Prime Minister Modi declared India’s plan of action against the pandemic. He said that we would have a lockdown, curfew for everybody that led to a complete churning of life as we knew. Before we realised, we went into Lockdown 1 to 2 and 2 to 3/4/5. Everybody’s life turned 180 degrees in a short period. We never realised that Mr Modi was pressing the reset button. Naturally, even he did not know about it.

The first quarter of 2020 was a life-changing period in the history of humanity in our lifetime. There have been such moments before, like plague pandemic, influenza pandemic. World wars I and II were similar events, but in those days, the communication was in the primitive stage compared to what we have today. The news would trickle to the involved nations, over a period, mostly in the form of newspaper items. Spreading of the story the world over, took a very long time, if ever. In India, the world war news reached because Indian soldiers were involved.

It depends on us how we take the positive side of any situation. How did I handle this? We, of course, dealt with this situation as a family. Jaya and I were on the same page in every situation. We simply decided to go by general medical advice and specific advice given by our physician, and nephew, Atul. His suggestion was simple. Do not go out anywhere. With the situation as it is prevailing today, we are following the advice to the last T. He also suggested various vitamins; for obvious reasons, I shall not give the details lest I make a mistake. We exercise at home and get fresh air while sitting on the balcony.

A lot of jokes are cracked about washing utensils/clothes and cleaning home. In India, this work is generally performed by maids. To ensure minimum outside contact, we will continue with the rules, which suggested that maids should not be allowed to work in homes—the primary victims of the situation are low-income people like maids, dhobis, small kiosks vendors. Businesses large and small suffered too! We kept the maids’ morale high by continuing to pay them their salaries 100 %. We know a few other people from a similar category, who did not work for us. When they asked for financial support, we gave them whatever their needs were. It was the least we could do.

Did we ever feel that we were caught in a cauldron? Did we feel claustrophobic? Did we discuss with friends and relatives about how these restrictions are bothering us? No, never! Why did we not do it? Because we never felt bothered by this. In fact, we look forward to our days ahead for the different programs that we have. These programs are, of course, virtual, but we have them regularly. We discuss what to wear for these video meetings, and laugh. Since 22nd March we have been wearing those same sets of clothes every day! Our granddaughter once asked Jaya, “Do you have only two dresses now?” But this remark brought out an important thought about how much wastage we did on clothing and everything in general. We could have saved a lot of money, but it is not about saving. The same money could have been utilised for the different causes. Spending money on white goods, cars, fancy stuff is not wrong. It serves the purpose of keeping wheels of economy running. It runs, factories, shops, trade houses and so on. But at some stage, we had all become a tad too casual about throwing money at goods and services!

We have not gone to any shop or a restaurant during this period. We have hardly had any interaction with the outside world. Is that good? No, it is not! But at the same time, by not wearing a mask or following social distancing norms, we are going to add the number of infected people. We immediately realised that this is our social responsibility, and we learned to enjoy life under the prevailing circumstances. We follow the mask rule when we go downstairs to collect courier packages.

The use of social media has gone up. The Netflixes and Hotstar’s of this world rule the roost. The cell phone is our gateway to the outside world. Many people were very uncomfortable using Video calls only a few months back. F to F (Face to Face) was a buzzword unknown to many seniors. Now this same group of people has two or three video calls every week.

So, what is the debit side in the balance sheet? There are a few. Why did we not use video calls before? Why did I not use my balcony to the full extent? It is a treasure trove of lovely breeze, a lovely view of Sinhgad, and vast canvasses created by Him in the majestic sky. Why did I ignore them? Why did I not chat more with friends and relatives as much as I should have? Jaya has one grouse. She has culinary expertise. With maids around, she would take part in cooking once in a while. She is now enjoying the kitchen and writing ( it is a secret I am not supposed to share, so do not ask her about it). She is going to start painting. She wonders why she did not do such things all these days- her debit side!

But one thing we have learned over a period. Take the pandemic seriously, but do not get obsessed with it. It is better to remain partially ignorant about the information that is flooding us. We should be selective about what we want to know.

You may think that I am in favour of being ignorant about what is happening outside our immediate spheres of influence. But that is actually very far from what I am arguing here. While I completely respect and understand why some people prefer to stay in the comfort zone of ignorance, I believe that we should all try to get out of that comfort zone. However, by doing so, we should avoid falling into a hyper-awareness of lousy news/videos without regard for the proper actions and achievements that many people and communities are undertaking throughout the world. Further, we should also keep in mind that, even in the darkest and most difficult circumstances, we are not impotent, especially if we start to act! It is when making our voices heard by politicians, for-profit and nonprofit organisations, and even the international community can have a substantial positive impact that goes well beyond what we originally had in mind.

This awareness will eventually lead us to become less selfish and more empathetic societies. However, the only way to achieve these kinds of cultures is by allowing our hearts to be touched by circumstances happening far and near our homes, without letting them become bitter or numbed. Is that even possible? If it is, then how?

 …By never losing hope.

Get Well Soon, Ramdev Baba!


You have jaundice, your eyes look yellow! You go to your allopathic doctor. Your bilirubin is checked, and it predictably high. You go to your chemist, he says, “Liv 52! Jaundice!” Period, discussion over. In India, when you have jaundice doctors generally prescribe Liv 52. There is no other medicine. Other drugs would only be supplementary things. There could be some cure in Homeopathy, but Liv 52 specified in Ayurved is THE drug! It cures jaundice. There are no medicines for jaundice in Allopathy!

In the year 2017, Jaya and I had decided to take a holiday in Europe. Ten days before the journey date, Jaya had a pain in the right foot. The orthopaedic doctor advised her to stop using heels and gave her some pain killers. He said that only a long rest could help her. We went to our homoeopathic doctor. He was very confident that he would be able to cure Jaya. The only advice he gave was to take a wheelchair at Frankfurt airport as it is vast and you need to walk a lot. We were to also take a train from Frankfurt to Munich, which added to the distance. But later we could climb up and down the mountains in cold weather. Thanks to our doctor! By the time we were back, Jaya had almost forgotten the problem.

Allopathy cured me of Cancer in the year 2013. Otherwise too, we have taken different allopathic treatments for various ailments. Now the usual disclaimer: I am a firm believer that each pathy has its pluses and minuses. None of them has a cure for each illness. My statements are based on my personal experience and experiences of near and dear ones. I have no prejudice against any pathy.

COVID 19 has brought the whole world, including the researchers, scientists to their knees. They are not able to find the cure, nor are they able to find the vaccine. All the governments, the world over are trying to contain the pandemic and try to minimise the spread. Some have succeeded, and others have failed; the death rates are high as well as the infections. Our country has managed to delay the spread and control the death rate reasonably well.

Recently, our yoga guru Baba Ramdev and his company Patanjali declared that they had found the cure for COVID 19! A big show and drama were made during the announcement. Obviously, the rumour mill started running at high speed on social media. Expert social media writers went into a frenzy. When I read last, Ramdev was about to be awarded the Nobel Prize for his excellent work in the field of Medicine.

Let us see the whole sequence of events. Patanjali’s manufacturing unit had asked the Uttara Khand government for a license to produce a drug for immunity booster.

The Uttarakhand government has claimed on Wednesday, that the license issued to the Ayurveda products manufacturing company on June 12, pertained to the development of immunity boosters and not a medicinal cure for coronavirus.

A First Information Report (FIR) has been filed in Rajasthan government against yoga guru Baba Ramdev, his aide and chief executive officer of Patanjali Ayurved Limited, Acharya Balkrishna. Three others made misleading claims that the company has found a cure for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) called Coronil.

Ramdev said the medicines were developed by Patanjali Research Center, Haridwar in association with privately-owned National Institute of Medical Science (NIMS), Jaipur.

The AYUSH Ministry is yet to examine the claims made by Patanjali. The ministry has asked the company to provide details of the Medicine, such as name and composition, research study details, Institutional Ethics Committee clearance, CTRI registration and result data. The government has asked Patanjali to refrain from advertising the medicine kit until the claims are duly examined.

There is a ban on advertising of this Medicine, to be sold as Corona cure, till everything is checked by different authorities and formal clearance is given.

What has Patanjali attempted? They have tried to jump the bandwagon to offer a cure to humanity, nothing wrong in that. But the fact is that the whole world, including renowned research institutes, pharma companies are struggling to find the elusive golden wand. These organisations have a backing of millions of dollars the world over, and they are still struggling. It is a fact of life that research done in non-allopathic sciences is negligible, if at all!

On social media, the usual gang of “India is the greatest” has become active. They give various references from Vedic times to prove that we had nuclear weapons, aeroplanes and so on during those times. Great story reading for those times, but that is about it. The cures offered by Indian medicines have been around for thousands of years, but unfortunately, most remained in families and in the private domain. Sometimes remedies were passed on, and at other times they were lost to time with the demise of the expert. Till twenty to thirty years, few new cures in Ayurved or Homeopathy, have been attempted by Corporates in the public domain which had funds. So there is a chance that non-allopathic drugs may come up with some great results over a period, but not yet.

But our Bharat gang is churning out stories. There is a purported theory going around. Patanjali has not followed the guidelines to get the clearance for a drug for the supposed use, in its official statement. So those saying anything against Patanjali are enemies and are being paid by other pharma companies to act against Patanjali! How can ayurvedic research be wrong? But friends, on probing, even Patanjali is saying that it is an anti immunity drug and not the cure for COVID! If Patanjali has really discovered the treatment, then they should not have trouble in defending the probe. But we should not raise the bogey of the greatest civilisation on the earth…

It is plain and simple. Patanjali is five thousand crores plus business. As a business entity, it must ensure that the company makes good profits. Their strategy went wrong, and they were quickly caught on the wrong foot! No harm! If they have come with a right immunity booster drug, it will sell. It will be even better if the results are provable. You take Medicine for fifteen days, and your immunity is up because we say so. Such statements will not boost the immunity though it might enhance their sales. But because of timely action by authorities, at least people’s hopes will not go up, wrongly, about Corona cure.

Will “India is the most celebrated civilisation” brigade accept that this is a million-dollar question! Should the companies not follow the guidelines specified and submit documentary proof? Is curing 280 patients a breakthrough? I do not think so.

Firstly, such a trial should be started after following guidelines. The whole process must be documented. Patients should be of different severity, age, sex, comorbidity and other such variables. Once the systematic trials are done, results shared with authorities, then mass production of the drug would make sense. Let the horses not run faster than the chariot!

 


Pandemic endings are very, very messy!  

Pandemic is an epidemic of disease which has presently spread all over the world. The current pandemic has spread across the globe. The main difference in the recent pandemics and the previous ones is the communication methods of the 21st century. These communications include travel modes, personal and public communications. Sitting in your home, you can see the TV channels from the world over. You can be in touch with your near and dear ones 24/7 using voice or video methods. One can have “family meetings” using apps like zoom! 

With all the technology around, except for the Vaccine or the cure, the whole world knows everything about the current situation minute by minute. Sometimes it loses seriousness and looks like a commentary of sports events. The number of deaths is just a number like strike two in baseball, and the number of wickets fallen in cricket match. We are lucky that these commentators do not shout like in football, it is a goooooooal 

Why am saying that the ending is going to be very, very messy? None of the pandemics that occurred before ended medically except smallpox! The last patient for smallpox was seen in 1977. But all other pandemics have tapered off into a situation, where people started getting used to them. It means that the problem does not come under control medically but socially. People and governments learn the methods to contain them and to overcome the fearLockdown is a tested and proven method 

I will share with you with the information about the Bubonic plague. I am giving you the history so that we may understand how COVID will go away.  

Bubonic plague has struck several times in the past 2,000 years, killing millions of people and altering the course of history. Each epidemic amplified the fear that came with the next outbreak. 

The disease is caused by a strain of bacteria, Yersinia pestis, that lives on fleas that live on rats. But bubonic plague, which became known as the Black Death, also can be passed from infected person to infected person through respiratory droplets, so it cannot be eradicated simply by killing rats. 

The plague began in 1331 in China. The plague continued for some time, along with a civil war, that was raging at the time. It killed half the population of China. From there, the plague moved along trade routes to Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. In the years between 1347 and 1351, it killed at least a third of the European population. Half of the people of Siena, Italy, died. It seems, as far as diseases are concerned China and Italy seem to have a great partnership from olden days.  

That pandemic ended, but the plague recurred. One of the worst outbreaks began in China in 1855 and spread worldwide, killing more than 12 million in India alone. Health authorities in Bombay burned whole neighbourhoods trying to rid them of the plague.  

The 1918 flu is the example of the ravages of a pandemic and the value of quarantines and social distancing. Before it ended, the Flu killed 50 million to 100 million people worldwide.  

We have already seen that people are getting fed up of restrictions. Governments are worried about social revolts. The movement of migrant workers in India to their native places is a classic example of the same.  

Governments relax restrictions which give them a kick on the butt in some cases, e. g. Singapore. In India, the numbers during the last week are increasing fast. Chennai is leading “the charge”! Mumbai is already in trouble. But still, place like Delhi wants to relax restrictions. Why is that so?  

There is reason. I mentioned about influenza, which killed millions, a hundred years before. Now we are so used to it, that we have become friendly with it. We have now given it a pet name “Flu”! We are so used to it, that we even go to the office or wherever even when we have Flu! Why the change? We have got used to it. We sometimes do not go to the doctor to get treated and take selfmedication. It is unbelievable that the same Flu had killed millions. 

There is a reason. Diagnostics are better, our knowledge is better, and medicines are more potent. The same thing is going to happen in the case of COVID. Vaccine and treatment for the same is a distant dream. But in South Asian countriesthe pandemic is much weaker than in Europe and the Americas. Even in these places where the pandemic is smouldering, discussions about relaxation have started.  

Now why it is going to be messy? I will now talk of only India. With the help of technology, we have managed complete shutdowns. Shutting down is a more straightforward process because restarting is a complex process. We have Red, Orange, Green zones. All these zones are present in states, districts and large cities. Then there are containment zones. All our economic activities have become dependent on Pan India suppliers and transportation of goods. Maharashtra does not have Steel plants, so the Steel for construction has to come from somewhere; if that somewhere is in Red Zone, we are stuck. The same thing happens in the Automobile industry. Most of the car manufacturers have some vendors in Pune and around. Pune is the Red Zone! You get me! Migrant workers have gone home, and the economy is trying to restart. One may not get trained people. Do you understand why I am saying messy? 

No, you have not understood. The second wave may come back after a few months! But hopefully, as time passes, we will have the cure and the Vaccine! The old cars, when they sometimes did not start, a technique called Dhakka Start (Push and put it in gear and hope it starts). The start and stop can happen for the economy too, and the word Messy will be an operative word for some time. We will learn to live with another term, Collateral damage.  

Collateral damage is any death, injury, or other damage inflicted that is an unintended result of military operations. But the term can be applied to the current situation when we are trying to restart life after Reset! There could be some deaths when the pandemic returns. There could be business loss due to some sudden sever surge.  We should be prepared for this collateral damage.

The travel and leisure industry has a large clientele like us senior citizens. But as far as Jaya and I are concerned, 2020 is out! At most, we will travel to Mahabaleshwar in our car. Many businesses will limp back to normalcyMany things we have assumed to be safest, like air travel, will be hotbeds where the virus can get spread easily.  

Life is going to be Messy soonWe are already getting conflicting requirements from the Chief Ministers of different states. Some want to open everything, and others want to play it safe till May end, at least. Each city, each district, each nation is going to have conflicting requirements. Some say let the train and bus services start; others say not yet!  But we are dependent on each other for almost everything. Messy? Very, very Messy!  Now I hope you get me what I mean by Messy!

 

Astu-so be it! A Mohan Agashe Marathi Film!

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For the last several years Jaya and I had restrictions on going to theatres to see movies, after my treatment. It was to minimise exposure to public places. Yesterday we were chatting with our friend Mohan Agashe. He asked Jaya if we had seen his movie Astu! Meaning of the word Astu is, so be it! We had not seen the movie! So today we decided to see the film. It was available on Prime Video.

Now we have decided that we will take advantage of the current status and start watching the famous shows- movies, dramas, concerts and cricket matches being telecast. We are now preparing a wishlist.

As usual, the disclaimer: Dr Mohan Agashe is a friend of Jaya and me. Secondly, I am not an expert on movies. I am writing this more on what touched my heart.

Initially, the film project started as a small film about Alzheimer disease. Mohan was approached, but he did not like the script. He suggested the filmmaker approach Sumitra Bhave. The script was modified, and they decided to make a full-fledged movie. I am amazed by the daring of this group. Making meaningful movies anywhere in the world is a commercially risky proposition. Though all of us must be worried in our minds about Alzheimer, when it comes about paying to see such films, people simply shun these movies. I had a similar experience when I saw the movie Thappad recently.

The trailer of the film Astu!

Astu is a stunning movie. Various sites analysing the movies have their marking system for films. My score would be 9 out of ten; why it is nine because I have never seen any film getting 10/10. So, I am erring on the safer side. I have my grouse about these scores. In subjects like Maths, you can get a 100/100 score. But when you discuss art or an abstract thing, nothing is defined in black and white. We see shades of grey all the time. When your datum is not specified, how can you give 9/10? In a low budget film, there could be some technical shortcomings, but no two people will have 100% concurrence on such subjects. The movies are judged on other aspects too! Hence 8/10 could be a correct score.

Since the movie was released in 2014, I will write a few minute details too. Many people hopefully have seen the movie already.

Cast

  • Mohan Agashe as Dr Chakrapani Shastri or Appa
  • Iravati Harshe as Ira, Shastri’s elder daughter
  • Amruta Subhash as Channamma
  • Milind Soman as Madhav, Ira’s husband
  • Devika Daftardar as Rahi, Shastri’s younger daughter
  • Jyoti Subhash as Malti Kaku
  • Nachiket Purnapatre as Anta, mahout

Story

Appa is a Sanskrit scholar, who has been in his own world. He lives with his caretaker Ram, in Pune. The movie shows in flashback how Appa’s Alzheimer was progressing as he even started forgetting that he has had his lunch, just ten minutes before. Sometimes he became too aggressive and went for a bath pushing his granddaughter away. Once he tried to force the granddaughter to eat a cake, though she does not want it. Appa’s elder daughter Ira and her husband Madhav, support him as much as they can.

Once Ira goes to the market and asks Appa to be in the car. Appa sees an elephant on the road with the mahout looking for alms. Appa gets attracted to the elephant and calls the mahout to give him some money. One thing leads to another, and Appa is lost. When Ira comes back to the car, Appa is not there. She starts frantic efforts to find him along with Madhav and reports to the police too! She calls her sister to tell about Appa. Sister comes to Pune asap.

In the meanwhile, the mahout, Anta, does not know what to do with Appa. He frantically tells him to go away. In the end, he decides to take Appa with him to the riverbank, where his family has taken a temporary shelter. They are nomads.

Two sisters and Madhav discuss the next action about Appa, once he is located. Ira is very emotional about Appa, but the other two are rational about life. The conflict is well captured, and the family is confused. Milind Soman has a subdued but longish role, well performed. The performances that peak is that of Mohan Agashe, Irawati Harshe and Amruta Subhash, as Channama, Anta’s wife.

Appa’s confused expressions, when he forgets basic things, his sudden aggression, his childlike behaviour when he sees 30-year-old Channamma and calls her Aai (the mother) hits you. You have tears in your eyes. Channamma is introduced late in the movie. But to me, she was a surprise package. The way she realises that Appa has become a child mentally is a sequence which was intense and gut-wrenching. I have seen such a powerful sequence in a movie after a long, long time. The beauty is that the sequence is subtle and subdued. She starts handling him on par with her three-year-old daughter and helps him to change the soiled clothes too!

Each character in the movie has different problems. Irawati is caught between managing Appa, the ex-Sanskrit scholar and his Alzheimer hit persona trundling fast down the hill. On the other side her children, a daughter and a son, sometimes understand about Appa, but mostly they do not understand the disease. They only feel how Appa, a septuagenarian, does not understand basic things.

When the movie ended, Jaya and I were stunned!

I have seen Mohan acting from Purushottam Karandak days. I was lucky enough to watch his fantastic first performance in career-defining drama Ghashiram Kotwal in early ’70 s. I am amazed at how he can perform above the peak of Mount Everest all the time. Irawati, as his daughter is sometimes confused, agitated, angry but occasionally helpless. Channamma gives a great message to society. After Ira takes charge of Appa in the end, Channamma in her Kannada laced Marathi tells her, “Treat him as your child. He needs it.” It is a strong message to the society how Alzheimer/Dementia patients need to be treated, with love! It is a tough call because of longevity. It is a Catch 22 situation. But then that is life!

Mohan’s acting prowess is well known. But Amruta Subhash stands shoulder to shoulder, or should I say heart to heart in front of Mohan. The relationship between the seventy-plus child and a thirty-year-old mother is to be seen to be believed. She lives the role, and sometimes it becomes difficult to believe that she is a city-bred person.

Now somethings unrelated to the cinematic part. In the final stages of the production, a coproducer backed out. Mohan was so involved in the movie, he put in his personal money from his Provident fund and other savings. I always have a question in mind about spectators. Why such top-class movies do not get spectators in large numbers? Is our definition of entertainment so frugal that we want to see the only song and dance movies? Or is it that education does not allow us to face reality? Ira discussed with Madhav about keeping Appa in Old people’s home. But Channamma who hardly knew Appa accepts him as a child- she teaches the educated world how to handle Alzheimer. At the same time, Appa is revered by her. In the final scene, she touches Appa’s feet as she has understood the halo around him.

Way to go Mohan!

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When the going gets tough! 

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We all know the second part of the sentence; “The tough get going”! We are living in extraordinary times, and we will give an exceptional response to the situation! I am confident about it. The subject came into my mind when I read a lot of exchange on the WA group of a coop housing society, where I have a home, but currently our house there is locked, and we live elsewhere. Most of the people living there are high earning professionals who must be reasonably senior by now. We moved out from there end of 2013!

I read an apt comment from my young friend Sandeep. He said that it is a great opportunity to show the world that the husband/wife pair is “MAID” for each other. I added this sentence by editing this blog which was already published!

The subject was about the maids that come and work in the homes. Under Coronavirus threat, and curfew declared by the governments, most of these maids may not be able to go for work. The reasons can be the fear of the curfew declared. They are afraid of the police, and their neighbours are forcing them not to go. By no means, their services can be declared as essential services, like police, cleaning staff, hospital staff. One of our housemaids came yesterday. Her neighbours would not allow her to go out for work. She cheated and came; she was worried about her wages. Jaya told her that we would pay her even if she does not come for work. She asked Jaya when are they stopping all the flights? Jaya asked her the reason to know this. She said, “People in our area say that unless the flights are banned, this epidemic will not go. But these are for rich people. How will the government stop them?” Another question she asked was, will she be safe if she goes and lives in her native place? Jaya asked her, “How will you get treatment in her native place if required?” She was confused but more worried. The bais as the maids are called are poor confused souls. Their life weaves around the families where they work. It is for money, any other stuff that we give them, moral support and knowledge. They are entirely dependent on us. Let me assure they want to come to work but …!

Let me share with you friends, the extraordinary situations that came up in my life. In 1980-81 Jaya got a United Nations fellowship for MS in the US. My son Sachin was six years old. I was around 30. As a family, we decided that Jaya should take this opportunity, and off she went. My parents lived nearby; we would go for food at their home. My father was very fond of Sachin. He would look after him till I came back from office. My father died suddenly after about three months of Jaya’s travel. But I told Jaya to continue with her education. We somehow managed to handle the situation; my mother overcame her grief to support the family. Extraordinary response from the family helped Jaya finish her MS with flying colours in nine months with 4.0 score!

We read so many stories of children from very low-income family clearing their IAS/IFS and such competitive exams. I will share one story. In the apartment where I lived initially, we had a family of two brothers. One of them was our watchman. Other brother used to work on construction sites. They had two children each. Watchman’s brother died in mid-nineties. Both their wives used to work in our house as support staff. I have watched their lives from close for twenty plus years. Last year somehow, we got their cell number. Jaya called them. Next day the whole family came to meet us. The wives continue to work as maids elsewhere. The watchman did farming in his native place and had some income. He would travel to his farm when required. The ladies came with two younger children. Both had become engineers were working in IT companies; the family had struggled all their lives.

Some of these thoughts came to mind as I have been reading and hearing about discussions on various WA groups. These were mainly about everybody staying at home, managing the cooking, with children at home 24/7- how long nobody is sure. Ladies are naturally stressed out because usual conventions indicate that they will have to bear the full brunt of things at home. Compared to the difficulties of the family mentioned above, I thought that we are better off. We do not have financial worries. We generally do not have to worry about water supply and electricity. The absence of maids could be stressful. But these extraordinary situations call for similar solutions. Equally busy husbands should raise their hands up and declare what responsibilities they are going to handle until this situation lasts. Or is it? Why not continue in the same vein even after humans overcome the current pandemic?

Let us not say that these things could be done by mothers only! Fathers could be equally efficient and proficient in attending PTA meetings! Why should fathers not take up morning chores like breakfast and chai-coffee? We should change the way we think. We are busy in the mornings with phone calls, emails, sending children to school and so on; you finish your dinner at night. Why not pack your tiffins at night? Is it not more efficient? You are going to keep the remaining food into some containers. Fill up the tiffins (dabbas) and then transfer balance food into containers! You are a professional and an expert. Show the same efficiency at home. Make sure that inventories are perfect at home, same as you manage at the office. Life becomes easier. Your star performer meets with an accident and is going to be away for six months. How do you handle it? You have your replacement star performers at home too! The hubby and the kids! It’s tough, but it is doable.

Consider a case of our neighbour who is seventy. She had a heart valve replacement surgery, 2 ½ months back, where all her ribs had to be cut open. Recovery time is five to six months at this age. Now suddenly, her nurse and the maid may not be able to come. They are trying to get permission at least for the nurse, which I am sure she will get. What must be her mental state? How is she going to manage? Her son lives out of India, and the daughter lives nearby. She must look after her children and old inlaws. Solution? I am not so sure. She must quarantine herself from neighbours like us too! Her immunity must be down post-surgery.

In 2013 December, I moved out of Sunshine Villa for family reasons. But the main reason was that I was detected with Cancer. There were practical reasons to move next to my daughter’s home. After three months of 34 radiation sittings, and Immunotherapy, I moved back to my routine in about three months. The “free” time I got during this period converted me into a blogger! In July, I had a Bharat Darshan tour to meet my customers. After that, I have been working hard and travelling well abroad as well as in India. It is possible to surmount odds. It is tough, but “The tough get going when the going gets tough!”

Friends, it is tough to change your lifestyle suddenly. But when there is no option, we do it. You will spend more time with your children. They will know what difficulties the mother’s face. That is a great learning curve for the whole family. Thanks to dear Coronavirus!

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Social Distancing! Become an Ostrich!

SD2

Someone hiding their head in the sand, like an ostrich is said to be foolishly ignoring their problem, while hoping it will magically vanish. The ostrich does many things, but hiding its head in the sand is not one of them. Coronavirus situation tells us to metaphorically become an Ostrich and quarantine ourselves.

But in today’s scenario of Coronavirus pandemic, becoming an ostrich is not such a bad thing. Hide from social contacts, avoid gatherings-and sincerely hope that the problem goes away on its own.

To make this a better world, we always say that become social, (but not a social animal), meet more people and so on. But the current situation tells the human race to become incommunicado, physically!

Every society is fluid, and each generation has a new way of doing things. In my grandparents time more than a hundred year ago, the socialising was done a different way than what we do today. In those days, people found various ways of meeting each other, but these occasions were religious. You got invited to attend a pooja. Then there were some occasions where husband-wife were invited for lunch to satisfy some deity. Then in our parents times, there were different occasions for inviting people. But they were less religious.

In today’s times, the occasions have become celebratory. Birthday’s, promotions, wedding anniversary, 70th  birthday, and so on. Many times people are just invited, there may not be any occasion! But Coronavirus brought a new concept of social distancing!

Social distancing encompasses non-pharmaceutical measures for controlling the transmission of infectious disease through a reduction in the frequency of physical contact between individuals. Large-scale methods of social distancing include public education on hygiene and cough etiquette.

From social animal of the 21st century to social distancing is a big leap. Coronavirus has created significant turmoil in the world after the proliferation of social media. We have twitter, WA, Facebook and online news; the Internet facilitated most of these.

Coronavirus issue started in China. Even China, with its dictatorial regime, could not hide what was happening in China. News started trickling out, and over time China began to give official figures. Okay, nobody is sure how much suppression China has done about the real spread. But the first new phrase that started being used was Lock Down, in social context! After that, another term that is being used is social distancing. But what is social distancing besides the way it is defined above? I have made interpretation suitable for Jaya and me. We are both around 70, so complete lockdown makes a lot of sense. But there are questions galore. What should different age groups do? Who decides that? Oh, simple! WHO (the United Nations body) decides this. They give advisories, and it is a good idea to follow them. Here is the usual disclaimer, I am not a doctor, and I don’t understand much health sciences. But I am going to use common sense to discuss further.

Children are young and innocent. What happens if they play together? With schools closed, how to keep them busy?

All said and done, any human being who can move out of home independently is a potential carrier. Keeping children busy is the family’s job, so do it. It is frustrating to be with them all the time. It is tiring too! If you are lucky and can work from home, you need to explain to your kids the importance of not mixing with other kids. Howsoever frustrating it maybe you are responsible for their health and avoiding the spread in society.

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I have borrowed the above graph from someones Facebook post. We should attempt to reach graph B. In the case of graph A, there is a sudden increase in number of cases. The graph B can be achieved by correct lockdown! There is a reason. Assume that Coronavirus spread has just started in your city. The government gives suggestions, puts banners about social distancing. The real results are seen after about four weeks and after that. If your city follows the social distancing or lockdown rules seriously, the chances of more cases get reduced. You may have ¼, ½, ¾, 7/8th  lockdown. These figures mean that these many people (one in four to seven in eight) from the population have gone into social distancing mode. Since China was the first country to face this, they took some time to understand the importance of social distancing. Hence before they knew what hit them, the pandemic spread exponentially- means more and more people got affected rapidly. The more the numbers means more carriers and chances of spread are very high.

In India, we are still in phase one. If we rapidly go into social distancing, the spread will happen at a slower rate and tapering off will be faster. It will also ensure that a small number of people are affected. Please understand that it depends on us, the government can only be a facilitator, but we must act.

I am writing below some scenarios in QA format for the ease of understanding.

Should I limit my physical interaction with my partner and family members?

As far as possible avoid but if all of you are under the same lockdown, then maybe it is okay.

Should I avoid common spaces in my apartment?

Yes and no. If you must go then go at a time when not many people are around, say 6 am. But avoid touching the surfaces like benches.

Should I avoid haircut?

It is a tricky one. But if you can discuss with your hairdresser, and suggest to him the use of sanitisers, disinfectants and provided he shows no symptoms you get the hair cut but reduce frequency.

Should I stop visiting elderly relatives?

Yes, definitely. Since this group is the most susceptible, they should be allowed more quarantine. You could be a carrier. Or maybe you designate someone from the family, and only that person should visit if the person is without symptoms.

We, siblings, are all 70 plus, should we meet once in a while if we have no symptoms?

Honestly speaking, you should avoid meeting if you are living separately. You are in the most susceptible range.

Should we cancel wedding receptions or birthday parties?

It is better to err on the safer side. There could be pregnant women too, who are equally susceptible. In large gatherings, it is not practical to ask everybody about the health condition.

Should I avoid public transport?

Yes, if it is possible. Anyway, avoid going out. But if you must, you may think of using Uber etc.

I am healthy and young. Should I go to bars?

I would say no. Your condition would be helpful, and you may not get infected. Your body will fight the virus quickly. But you could become a carrier and may become a party to spreading the virus.

What items should I store for emergencies?

Store routine eating stuff, medicines and paracetamol, drug suggested for Coronavirus. But definitely don’t horde toilet paper! Why normal people behave in a funny manner is difficult to explain. I have read enough toilet paper stories from the world over. Let the system stabilise for the new norms. Grocery, pharmacies, hospitals and all essential services are going to remain open!

From IT, many companies are telling their people to work from home. In Pune, Tata Motors became the first engineering company that allowed their purchase team to work from home. Working from home is an excellent concept if people work sincerely and earnestly. I hear from many that people take disadvantage of this concept, sometimes. The current pandemic is a unique opportunity for IT companies to study the “working from home” concept in details. They may realise that in normal circumstances too, xx percentage of people could always work from home. If the current scenario continues for an extended period, new SOP’s (standard operating procedures) could be created, and these people could be asked to work from home, always. It could be an excellent cost-saving for businesses as they will need smaller buildings, and people will drive less. It will be useful for the environment. There will be many such advantages.

After all, the  Ostrich will be not be hiding his head in the sand. It is putting it’s thinking cap on!

Old is Gold or YOLD!  

My friend Vijay shared with me an article about the concept YOLD, the Young OLD! It reminded me of a conversation I had with another friend and classmate Dhananjay. Once while chatting, Dhananjay said, “In my home, the situation has become tricky. People in the outside world consider me as a senior citizen; but since both my parents live with me, my father sometimes does not realise that I am reaching the age of seventy. So, I am a junior-senior citizen in my home!” That was a terrific observation. We forget these things quite quickly. There is a saying, “When your son can wear your shoes, start treating him as a friend!” Okay, ladies, sorry! “When your daughter starts using your lipstick, start treating her as your friend!” 

In India, people of my generation rarely had parents who worked professionally. Working ladies as a concept was quite rare in that generationWhen and if they reached the age of 70 like me, they were treated with reverenceThey had faced a tough life and had many experiences to share. Financially, how the joint families of those days survived, is challenging to understand. Money available for survival was less and hence the requirements were lesser. The joint family meant that people did not need “space” as people need or expect today! People lived in “Wadas” in those days; reduced “space” included toilets too! There was one toilet for about 30 people!  

As per the article I have mentioned above, YOLD are the people who are now between 65 and 75! They were born just after world war!!! Those who are in professional fields many times don’t retire at all. Retirement in olden days was 58 or 60, and people used to retire. Many things happened during the lifespan of YOLDS! Improvement in cleanliness, better medical facilities and diagnostics facilities are some of them. Better job and business opportunities helped them to work beyond “retirement”. Combination of various factors improved the health and careers of YOLDS. The result was a notable increase in the number of YOLDS around, and they have decent money, time, space. They also show a willingness to try new things, travel around the globe. The number of YOLDS will grow in future to a sizable population with time and money in the pocket. Combine these traits of the community with decent health, and now you will know why they are called YOLD-young old!  

The YOLDS are the marketing person’s dream. The tourism industry is bound to grow in leaps and bounds. Whenever I chat with any friend or acquaintance from this age group, they are either travelling or have just come back from travel. Maybe they are going to travel next week.  

A German study found that people who remain at work after the normal retirement age manage to slow the cognitive decline associated with old age and have a cognitive capacity of someone a year and a half younger. What Jaya and I do is keep our brain sufficiently busy, which holds many health issues at bay. Chances of brain-related problems, like Dementia, can get delayedWhen money and time are not the issues, one can be in perpetual travel mode or try something new. Jaya and I have already firmed up travel plans for the next three months. Another friend Sham and his wife are in this mode since he sold off his business a couple of years back.  

In short, YOLD are not just any group of older adults. They are challenging the traditional expectations of the retired people who wear slippers and look after their grandchildren. The growth in YOLD population will disrupt consumer, service and financial markets. 

Higher numbers of healthy YOLD people will require drastic changes in health spending. Most diseases of ageing are best met with prevention and lifestyle changes. Now the gyms are offering “Golden Hours” for YOLDS. The timings are between 11 am to 6 pm, and I use this timing to go to the gym. I already see some other people from my age-group utilising the facility. My physician has told me to do some trade mill exercises, followed by weight training. Weight training is to reduce the rate of reduction in muscle strength. My physician told me, “This is to ensure that you can stow your cabin baggage on the flights when you travel! 🙂🙂 

YOLDS will help health industry business in the prevention field because many of us want it. We take vitamin tablets, and we buy food supplement which will be gluten-free. To pursue our lifestyle with vigour, we get ourselves checked regularly to ensure that our body functions are in good shape. I was treated for cancer in 2013/14. Every year I get a CAT scan done to ensure that there is no recurrence. These labs will wish that I am around for a long time! 🙂🙂 

The over-60s are one of the fastest-growing groups of customers of the airline business. The YOLDs are vital to the tourism industry because they spend much more on taking a foreign holiday than younger adults. They are also changing education. YOLDs are going to help the education business too! Last year, I did an online course in creative writing from Oxford. Why did I do it? Why not is the simple answer! Another friend told me that he had started work on his second PhD. He completed his first PhD at the age of 69! He loved painting when he was a child; he has started it again. He has now completed about 20 portraits.

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Another friend Sudhakar takes a keen interest in his painting and is as good or better than many professional painters. He runs his business on the side, sometimes. Sample of one of his paintings is displayed above.

Warli

Jaya has firmed up her plans to restart Warli paintings which she had started a few years back but could not continue because of family commitments. Some of her samples are shown above.

Another area where the business is going up is finance. YOLDS have money and are going to be around for some time. For companies, they did not exist once they passed a certain age as they were not going to buy any Life Insurance. But now YOLDS want to invest some money in annuity returns and sometimes in mutual funds. They are not interested in long term gains for apparent reasons. That reminds me of a joke, and it is not cynical but practical. An 85 year goes to buy bananas. The seller says, “You buy these bananas, but they will ripe after ¾ days.” The old man smiles and says, “These days I plan for ¾ hours, forget ¾ days. Give me bananas which I can eat right away!  

But there will be societal hurdles because society may not understand the importance of YOLDS, especially the productive ones. The YOLD will demand that companies become more age-friendly and, in the process, help change attitudes towards ageing itself. 

Government policies will have to change, too. The retirement age in many rich countries is still below the age to which many people want to work. The effective retirement age (the age at which people leave the workforce) is usually even lower. Public policy makes retirement a precipice where you fall instead of offering a better exits where YOLDS can smoothly go out of the workforce depending on their capabilities.  

The society should realise that the theme song of the YOLDS is the great poem by Robert Frost. The lines below are the last four lines of the poem. Friends if you need the full poem, try the following link. 

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/42891/stopping-by-woods-on-a-snowy-evening 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, 
But I have promises to keep, 
And miles to go before I sleep, 
And miles to go before I sleep. 

 

Are you stupid? 

My favourite Magazine was and is MAD! Who can forget the Crow Vs Crow stories? I always remember the Spy Vs Spy series. What a satirical humour it had! MAD would have stories on life in general, and one must read their political satires at least once in a lifetime. It is still alive in its new Avatar https://www.madmagazine.com/but the print copy can be available only by specific methods! I am SAD like in MAD!  

I remember a perfect caricature “story” from this magazine. A skinny and very dead man is lying on the ground. A goon is standing above him with a smoking gun. A typical stupid character asks the goon, “What is happening?” The goon replies, “He was underweight; that is why pumping lead into him!” My friends, this is stupidity. Definition of stupidity is not as stupid as you might think! After searching on the net, I came across one of the best definitions of stupidity. Stupidity is overlooking or dismissing conspicuously crucial information!  

I have read a book by Dr Atul Gawande. He is a practising surgeon in the Boston area and has written a brilliant book called “Checklist Manifesto”! Please read this exciting and intelligent book. According to him, the checklist concept started in the aviation industry and later on spread in other areas. It is about how to create and read the checklist to avoid stupid mistakes. World’s worst aviation accident occurred on the Tenerife islands. Two jumbo jets rammed into each other on the ground. One was travelling very fast as ATC had cleared it for take-off, and the other one was rolling towards the take-off area. The pilot of the second aircraft was busy reading the checklist as it was going slowly! Six hundred people died in that accident. Now I need not say why I liked the definition of stupidity! 

There are different kinds of stupidities in the worldthese can be scientific stupidity, military stupidity, literary stupidity, and so on. Example of military stupidity depends on the result. A group of soldiers may act when they know that they will never succeed in achieving the target. If they reach the goal, the act is called bravado; otherwise, it is stupidity!  

But there are many reasons why people behave in such a manner. There are two areas where you are made stupid. First is the act of a magician. His acts are such that he misdirects your attention and does his act in such a way that we feel that he is a magician. Such actions are for entertainment purpose. The other ones are frauds, cons or hoaxes. The people do these acts with the intention of cheating and are designed as malicious acts. Today’s so-called online scams are about the stupidity of the people. When people are robbed of their money by such actions, people realise how stupid they were. A professional in Pune paid Rs Sixty-five lacs (Six and half million) to register and create an online profile on a dating site. 

By now you must have realised stupid persons are not idiots. They are people like you and me. During one of the conferences, a lady got up and asked a question, “It may be a stupid question…” The speaker was a smart guy. He said with a smile, “Questions are never stupid, but people are! Please go ahead with your question.” 

What are the factors that lead to stupidity? First is being outside your typical environment or changing your routines — such circumstances lead to missing out on things which are easily known.  We behave in a different manner when we are in a group. The third is being in the presence of an expert or if you, yourself, are an expert. Fourth is doing any task that requires intense focus; the focusing activity can lead to odd situations. The fifth is the information overload that can lead to missing important information: six, physical or emotional stress, fatigue. If you have worked continuously for a long time, you might overlook essential signalsSometimes we work overnight on some project. You take a break for a couple of hours, take a quick nap. You wrongly feel that you are fresh again. It is the beginning of making mistakes. Rushing or “false” sense of urgency can lead us to make mistakes.  

Do not forget that in real life, more than one such situations always exist. If we are not careful about them, we tend to make blunders. Our favourite modern gadget, the cell phone, is a cause many such mistakes where lives are lost, we make accidents. It can lead to injuries and deaths. How many times have you heard people dying while crossing the road and simultaneously talking on a cell phone? The latest fad in India is to take selfies while standing at the edge of a valley. People have died showing themselves standing on the seashore to share live feed with friends- and suddenly a huge wave comes and takes you with it.  

How many horror stories we hear from the medical field? A patient gets operated on the left eye instead of the right eye. I will share one story shared by Dr Gawande in his book. Before any surgery, a hospital operation theatre would make a checklist. In one specific surgery, an antibiotic injection was required to be given 1 ½ hour before the surgery. The surgery was likely to cause a massive infection. The start time was nine a. m. On that particular day, the operations were getting delayed. Nine a. m. surgery got postponed to 10.30 a. m. The nurse did not keep track of the delay, and she gave the injection at 7.30. By the time the surgery started, it was three hours instead of a 1 ½ hours gap. The operation took three hours instead of two hours. By the time the patient was brought into the recovery room, the effect of the antibiotic had already tapered off. In the evening, the patient had a high fever, went into rigours. Nobody could find out what went wrong. The doctors checked the checklist, and everything was in order. Since it was an emergency, all were under stress. The nurse had done double duty on that day. She was physically and mentally tired. On rechecking everything, they found the reason. Antibiotic was given three hours before the surgery instead of 1½ hour. The patient went into septicemia and died!  

How many such stories do we know? Many patients do not come out of the operation theatre; they are killed inside by stupid mistakes.  

We are driving on highway. The radio is going full blast, and your friend calls you to check if you have taken the right exit. At the same time, your friend sitting next to you asks you the same question about the exit. The first thing we should not do is not to pick up the phone. The second thing would have been to put the radio offtry and stop where we are allowed stopping. Then maybe check your GPS or call your friend. Multitasking is difficult even when we are sitting in our home or office. Trying to multitask at 100 km speed is not at all easy. We are driving at 100 km speed, and radio waves are going into your ear. Then you are trying to speak on cell phone plus listening to what your friend in the car is asking you.  

I need not elaborate on what can happen; we become overconfident. We are acting the way the pilot of the jumbo jet acted. People in a rush forget their passport at the security check. Some people forget stuff like musical instruments worth millions of dollars in trains, on the flights. I had forgotten a pouch containing a camera and some cash in a wellknown hotel lobby in Santa Clara. I realised after about twenty minutes. I rushed back, but it was gone.  

The importance of looking for crucial information need not be emphasised; it is necessary to pay attention to it. It’s conspicuous like it’s right in front of your nose and yet you either overlook it or you dismiss it. How not to be stupid, what are the causes of human error? Most stupidity is ignored or swept under the rug if the consequences are not severe. So, friends, let us not be stupid; it can cost heavily!  

 

 

 

A stitch in time!

A stitch in time saves nine! The wellknown idiom tells us that if we act on something in time, it saves many future issues. It is right in every field of life, especially about our health. Some people are lucky that they do not have any serious medical problemthroughout their lifebut others are not so lucky. The luck plays some role in this, but many times it is procrastination that comes in the way, and we delay the actionSuch acts can cause lifelong damage or even death 

But then it is human nature. Another important aspect is what type of treatment should one take. People try Allopathy, Homeopathy, Ayurved, or some other kind including going to the sadhus in the belief that they will cure you.

It is an individual choice! Though we know the effects of delay, we keep on continuing the same mistakes. 

Jaya and I usually act fast if we find some abnormal symptoms, but that does not mean that we rush to the doctor’s clinic the moment we sneezeSome families have less knowledge about medical things, in general. It can cause delays and difficulties.  

More than a decade backI was diagnosed with hernia. The doctor said that surgery is the only option, earlier the better. He asked when I can find time for the surgery. I said, “Tomorrow morning. Do I get admitted tonight or early tomorrow morning?” He smiled and said, I am already booked for the next two days. Why don’t we do it on Friday?”  

In Nov 2013, I had a bad throat, and my voice changed. I went and saw my ENT doctor. He suggested the usual medicines, gargling in the first week. In the second, he gave me antibiotics. In the third week, he thought that he had no other option but to try steroidsWhen steroids also did not work, he suggested that I get stroboscopy done. I did it on the first of December, and it was concluded that there was a small growth on my vocal cord. The doctor said that there is a 99% chance it is a cancerous growth. Within one week, biopsy was donePatho results confirmed cancer. Within one week of confirmation, the treatment for cancer was started, which included 34 radiations besides immunotherapy! By god’s grace and also because of immediate action, I came out of cancer. I could have easily delayed by going for second opinion, third opinion, and so on. But we took a family decision to start the treatment as early as possible.  

I want to tell you one important aspect. The delay in meeting the doctors is also done by some people who are doctors themselves. will tell you a story about someone  who is a doctor. That friend was having weakness and continuous indications that something was wrong. The friend was getting tired after walking about twothree hundred steps. Another close friend was regularly following up and prodding the friend to see a specialist. Somehow the procrastination was coming in the way. Finally, the friend reached the doctors clinic. After checking, the specialist doctor said, “You need to go to a hospital right awayDon’t even go home. Call your husband and tell him to come to the hospital. I need to start your treatment right away.” After eight days of treatment, the patient went homeIt took almost six months for that friend to come back to normalI met the specialist doctor last week at a function. She said, “If your friend had delayed coming to me by a couple of days, there was a possibility that your friend could have been paralysed below the neck! How that friend of mine, who is a doctordid not understand the seriousness?  

Jaya recently underwent cataract surgery for both her eyes. She is perfectly healthy now. A relative of ours had come to meet her during that period. He had also gone through cataract surgery about one and a half years back. During the discussion, it came out that he cannot read the newspaper except the large headlines. I said cataract surgery is supposed to cure all these issues and he must recheck and take one more opinion. I coaxed him to see Jaya’s surgeon. We went, and my relative was checked. The surgeon found a significant flaw which was in his right eye after cataract surgery. The surgeon advised him to meet the topnotch expert in that field for further action. Now my relative will have corrective surgery. 

In both cases mentioned above, the patients are of my age. With the current improvement of longevity, both are likely to be around for say the next ten years. Imagine being paralysed for ten years. Think of being blind for the next ten years! Why do people not think of going to the doctor on time? What do you achieve by delaying the meeting and treatment? Such delays can land you into serious trouble, and the quality of life could be drastically reduced 

As against this, I had a friend who got a heart attack more than twentyfive years back. He was in a hospital where they did not even check his cholesterol! His financial condition was not so good. I referred him to my nephew, who is an excellent physician. Open heart surgery was financially not possible. My nephew told him that it is possible to get better with medicines which may be needed to be taken lifelong. The friend followed the instructions to the T, and he changed his lifestyle as per the doctor’s instructions. He was a big smoker; he stopped it. He is still following the guidance and well and hearty.  

Getting an excellent doctor is also part of luck, (not all doctors are competent!) but reaching them on time, and following their advice is what we must do. There is no point postponing that inevitable visit if it is neededAnother important point that comes into picture is people ask that question why me? Why so and so disease happened to me? Never ask that question because there is no answer to it. 

Along with this, there is one essential point. Which pathy to follow is an individual choice. But out of all pathy’s, Allopathy is the only pathy in which a massive amount of money is spent on research. So, there is a possibility that it might cure you better and fast. There are some diseases like jaundice which have no medicine in Allopathy. Only Ayurvedic medicine called Liv 52 works. But the overall experience of life suggests that there are some illnesses like heart attack, major kidney issues, cancer are handled efficiently by Allopathy. Strong allopathic treatment also is not able to cure such ailments. So, in such cases, it is not a good idea to go for trial and error. One should avoid another pathy’s in such cases. Side effects of allopathy are going to be part of life, but getting better is a priority, is it not?  

I will end this with a story about a hypochondriac! In my office, I had a person working with me for almost 18 years. He is still less than 40. Since the last ten years he keeps on feeling that he is unwell, sometimes would feel feverish. Sometimes he would feel chest pain, then once a while there would be fear that he might die. My nephew used to treat him. Occasionally he would check his BP, once in a while he would take his ECG. Sometimes his blood pressure was found slightly on the higher side, so BP medicine was prescribed. In last one year, he had four such anxiety/panic attacks. During his last attack, he had chest pain, and his shirt was thoroughly wet due to sweating. So, he was kept in a hospital for a couple of days. All test results were excellent, and he came out of the hospital fresh! My nephew then called me (during this episode, I was in Canada) and suggested that it is time to take him for psychiatric treatment. I have coordinated that for him, and he has had one session. According to the psychiatrist, except for some anxiety and low feeling, there is nothing wrong with him. I sincerely hope this helps him.  

Now my friends, especially those in the Golden phase of life, don’t procrastinate about that ‘dreaded” visit to the doctor. A cat has nine lives; we have only one!  

 

 

 

 

Gopal Mansion!

You will wonder what Gopal Mansion is? The plain answer is that this is the building in which I lived since I was in fourth grade till I finished First Year Science, the first year after S S C, at Elphinstone College at Bombay in 1966. A couple of things happened yesterday.

My granddaughter Rhea saw a family photograph taken in the flat in 1960. She started asking me all sorts of questions about the home — family photo from Gopal Mansion. I am the youngest in the family!

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How many rooms were there in the home? How many washrooms were there? Where did I sleep? Where did I study? (I hid the secret from her that I never studied!) I went into a nostalgic trip while explaining to her many things. She was not surprised that there was a lift (elevator) in the building. She thinks that all buildings always have lifts! Gopal Mansion had six floors; we lived on the ground floor!

After our discussion during breakfast on the subject, I accidentally got into touch with a friend from Gopal Mansion. Sunil and I got in touch with each other after almost 50 years, thanks to Facebook. Sunil is elder to me by five years. He is a doctor and still practices as General Physician at Lilavati Hospital in Bombay. We spoke for more than half an hour and tried to update each other. We remembered the old friends, Shrikant, Satish, Vitthal and many others. He updated me about certain friends whose whereabouts were known to him, and I also did the same. Was it a trip down the memory lane? I was very happy to remember the old days, so was Sunil. We have now decided to meet when we both go back to India. He is with his daughter in Atlanta, in the US!

But this is not about the nostalgic trip that I had yesterday! It is about something else, but I will come to that in a little while. We had a watchman called Mahadu, who would not let us play cricket in the building; we broke many window panes. I remember how we deceived him and sometimes played in the afternoon. Azad Maidan and Cross Maidan were a two-minute walk from the building, and we used to play Cricket round the year and football in monsoons! During Dassara time, we used to go to the grounds to watch Ramlila on Azad Maidan; but the real reason for us to go there was to spy on young couples who spent some time on the ground, in the dark! At one of the gates of Gopal Mansion was a Ragda Pattice vendor! We were never allowed to eat there. But we used to envy the people who ate there.

Okay, enough nostalgia and let me come to the real subject of the blog. My niece used to live near Gopal Mansion, and when we stayed with her, I always used to go to Gopal Mansion. The last time I remember having been there was in 2012. The building had seen the glorious days of about 25 families living there, and many like me had spent the childhood there. In 2012, I saw that nobody lived there. For old time’s sake, I went inside to see but felt very sad to see a structure where nobody lived for many years.

I had never imagined that Gopal Mansion would be used for some impressive work by anyone. At some stage, the building was purchased by a charitable trust, Shivkishan Mindaram Charitable trust!

https://www.gopalmansion.com/index.php

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The facility at the Gopal Mansion near the Metro Cinema was inaugurated in 2018 and offers rooms on a first-come, first-served basis to the needy. The south Mumbai facility is being run by the Shivkishan Mindaram Damani Charitable Trust that Damani’s family owns.

The rates for stay and food are very much affordable.

  1. Breakfast 30
  2. Lunch Thaali 75
  3. Dinner Thaali  75
  4. Rooms at   800

Gopal Mansion today!

Radhakishan Damani, the promoter of DMart, has created a facility at “Gopal Mansion” near “Metro Cinema Queens Road Mumbai” containing 53 rooms for stay of the family of patients undergoing treatment in Mumbai. It was inaugurated on 15th March 2018. It’s very nicely done.

In India, we have the concept of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) for the corporates. The corporates are mandated to spend some % of their profits on society for needy persons or causes. Many companies do various things and decide as per their company policy. Damanis have created a permanent facility that helps people who have to come to Bombay for medical treatment. In the distance of about 10 to 12 km from Gopal Mansion, there many medical facilities, including Tata Cancer Hospital.

Along with patients, the family members are also required to stay in Mumbai for support. There has been a significant need for some affordable clean, and neat facilities. The trust has done a great job by creating this permanent facility, which will be used by people when they are required to come to Mumbai for treatment!

Many people have a lot of money, but this is the first time I remember an organisation that has created such a facility permanently! I hope more and more people do these activities.

I had written a blog sometime back, “Let’s all become Bill Gates”!

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/01/12/let-us-all-become-bill-gates/

In the blog I have suggested that those who have money, which can be shared with the society for the betterment of the society, should do it. We all have it in us, but in some families for unknown reasons, such culture has never started. You can be the first person in your family to start the trend; it is not the amount but thought that is important. By performing such acts, you may change someone’s life for good!

To my understanding, to be a good human being, you need to have humility, empathy, and a little bit of extra money! Extra money is helpful, but I have known people who have been helping the society in various ways in spite of their needs not being completed.

I am grateful for the friends and people that came into my life in Gopal Mansion. We have become family with one of the neighbours and still are in regular touch with each other. All our friends have generally done well in life. Shreekant is a famous psychiatrist in Thane. (I hope I never need his professional services) Many others became good professionals.

Nostalgia has brought back many names. Mario, Iqbal, Ajit, where are you guys? I have lost a few friends as they died in the last ten years, like Avi, Dilip and Satish! Gopal Mansion was like a big family, and I consider myself lucky to know that it got converted into a place which is going to support needy people who are required to come to Mumbai for medical treatment for a long period!

It feels as if Gopal Mansion has also grown with me, and my thoughts are matching with what Gopal Mansion will be used for, in the future!