Emotional Turmoil!

While writing two blogs about my friend Prakash regarding the major catastrophic event he and his family had gone through, I never realised the emotional turmoil I was going through. My endeavour while writing is always to make the least number of errors, both grammatical and factual. For this purpose, I had to refer to the book written by Kavita about the event, a few times. Every time I skimmed the book, the reading process did some more churning in my mind, as I read a few paragraphs. The pictures of what the family had gone through kept floating before me.  

Today’s blog came up as I read a news item in today’s newspapers, which rekindled the old memories and reminded me of the story of another friend. This story is again very touching! This friend of mine was a friend from my Bombay days. We were neighbours, he was one-year senior to me. As was typical of those days, we spent evenings playing tennis ball cricket on their terrace. He came from an upper-middle-class family, had a well-appointed home, went to a convent school. These things of course never came in between our friendship; honestly, I never realised his financial situation in those days. His father was our family doctor, so when the doctor was at home, we would be a little under pressure! The friend was ever smiling, but he was not what can be called as a mixing type.  

As so happens, we lost touch around the time when I was in tenth grade. A few years later, I moved for my engineering course to Pune. One of my classmates had also moved to join the medical curriculum at Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) in Pune. Once when we went there to meet my classmate, I bumped into this old friend, who was also learning to become a doctor. Our friendship was renewed, and we kept in touch intermittently.

As our education was getting completed, I heard that he got engaged to his classmate. I was so happy for him. Then came the news, later, that they had broken off! Later on, our friend went to England and settled there. Another 45 years passed as we again had lost touch. Once I was scanning the Facebook and searched for my friend and lo! There he was! I sent him a private message. I, of course, called him by the nickname from childhood. I shared my email id with him.  

A couple of weeks later, I received an email from him and was I happy! He said, “Pramod, it’s sheer luck that I got your message on Facebook; I was about to close my account on Facebook.” Then he gave details.  

He became a surgeon and lived in Northern England all his life. It appears that he did not travel much to India. He did quite well financially. He did not marry, he never explained hence I never asked. Then he was reminiscent about Bombay days. Our school days full of tennis ball cricket in the evenings. When it became dark, we would chat about everything in the world, until we were called home. Our email exchange continued sporadically, and we became comfortable with each other.  

Then in one of the emails, I shared with him how I went through Cancer treatment, end of 2013! Since he was a doctor, I shared with him as many medical details as possible. His reply was very positive and helped me to understand some more things from a medical perspective. I was surprised by his in-depth knowledge about cancer. He was a surgeon, but he was not an Onco Surgeon. From his next mail, I understood the background about his depth of knowledge. He had also suffered cancer of the throat region and had gone through massive doses of chemotherapy. Then he revealed a piece of very shocking information.

He wrote, “Pramod, after taking treatments for a few months, one of my doctor colleagues (who was my Onco surgeon) had a “doctor to doctor” talk with me. He said that the chances of my surviving beyond six weeks were remote. Why don’t you inform your family?” From what I knew, he did not have much contact with his family.  But he also wrote, “At the end of one month, a procedure was done. Suddenly after that procedure, my health started improving. The doctors have now removed me from the critical list and my current status at this time is “managing cancer”. I may require chemo once in a while as sustenance dose.” 

Well, this is not the story! The story started after this, at least for me! He once informed me that he was coming down to Pune for his medical college reunion. I was thrilled, and I said that we should meet. I told him, “Taj Blue Diamond will be the convenient hotel for you!” He said, “Pramod, there is one issue that I have not shared with you. When I was told that my days were numbered to six weeks, I got my lawyer and liquidated my fixed assets quickly, and I had substantial liquid money too! I organised and distributed 90% of assets to charities. Kept about 10% for unseen expenses, if required, after my death. Now with my health improving, I am seriously short of funds, but luckily, I have a pension! So, I am managing somehow. I came to know about this reunion and decided to attend, probably my first and the last one! So, staying at Taj is out of the question!” 

I thought, Oh, my god! How has this happened? He had many expenses, but luckily his most medical costs were covered under British Medical System. But overall, he was going through tough times. Other than his pension, he had no income. What turn can life take!  As he was past retirement age and in ill health, he could not work again.

This story again put me in severe turmoil, my mind was churning, and I did not know how to handle this. There was no way I could pay for his stay in Pune, he just would have refused.  

There is another twist to the story. I knew the dates for my friend’s stay in Pune. He had said that he would call me when he came to Pune. He did call, but somehow, I missed the call. During that period there were many phone calls to me from unknown numbers. So, I wrote him an email. He wrote back to me saying that he was sad that we missed out on meeting each other in Pune. He was back in England.  

After this episode, the frequency of our communication has dwindled down to a trickle; this has nothing to do with missing each other in Pune. My last couple of emails have remained unanswered. I must find out about our friend, and I hope that he is doing alright.

I am still very uneasy! Emotional turmoil continues!

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Prakash Nirgudkar, the ever smiling Buddha! Part II

This is the part two of the saga my friend Prakash Nirgudkar went through. The link for the Part I is below. 

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/12/21/prakash-nirgudkar-the-ever-smiling-buddha-part-i/

Pensive Prakash

PakyaPhoto2

What is destiny? What is the definition of destiny? Prakash’s story is what destiny is all about. Destiny took Prakash through a journey which he may never have imagined when he left Pune for the trek in September 2012. At the same time the doctors, the family members were all the time hoping against hope that Prakash will overcome this illness. It was Kavita’s destiny that she was to win the impossible battle. It was the doctor’s destiny that they were supposed to cure a most difficult case. The destiny to me is crossing of destinies of various people, some of your dear ones and some unknown to you!

Prakash is made of different stuff is now taken. On a personal level, I feel that Prakash is nothing less than Havaldar Abdul Hamid, Captain Batra who fought the war for our country and won the battle against all odds! They were honoured with Paramveer Chakra! Prakash is nothing less than that. Prakash’s family background is very normal with various professionals, including him, who did well in professional life. But from where did this special trait blossom out? I am sure it was hidden in him all the time and but he never had to face such a tough situation in life where his indomitable spirit was tested to the limit.  

Healthy, hale and hearty Prakash left Pune in September 2012 but when he came back to Pune, was taken straight to a hospital for further treatment fighting the toughest battle of his life! Pune doctors had the advantage of knowing details of what Delhi doctors had done. They took over seamlessly. But life for Kavita and Nandita continued to remain tough as there were continuous ups and downs. The only advantage was that they were in their own city Pune. Going home was distant as Prakash was far from normalcy. Every day and sometimes night would come up with a different twist in the story. Kavita had decided to stay with Prakash in the hospital, would go home very rarely. Homefront was managed by young Nandita. 

The first aim of the treatment was to remove the infection completely and increase Prakash’s strength! Any procedure or surgery was accompanied by extremely severe bouts of pain. This was accompanied by strong Anti-biotics and painkillers! Trauma took him one step backwards after every surgery but Prakash is the epitome of a person who appears to have reached Nirvana. Of course, he must have felt the pain but how he could bear it without showing any emotions is one thing even Kavita may not be able to explain. This is one aspect of the human attribute which is always difficult for me to understand. Where is this power hidden? How does it come out? Where is the trigger for that? Natural human tendency is to squirm when in pain, and howl when in extreme pain. Pakya, tell me one of these days how you managed that! I feel that this is internal training and gift from HIM! 

Two major things that had remained to be done were curing the toe injury and rebuilding of the right hand. For me, it was simple, “rebuilding of hand”! But what did it involve? Since the arm was in a fully exposed state, to rebuild it in a step by step manner was an ordeal! Planning the surgery also must have been tough because things look different on paper! Doctors had decided to rebuild his right arm after the infection was gone. They decided to do the skin grafting by removing the skin from the thigh and groin area. This was an extremely delicate procedure handled skillfully by the Pune Doctors. The family and Prakash had to undergo the same pain and trauma during every surgery. 

In between, Prakash was allowed to go home. Taking Prakash home was also a major event. The complete home had to be cleaned and thoroughly disinfected as Prakash’s immunity was very low. But I am sure going home after the great trauma must have helped the spirits of the family!  

Such major health events, being treated over a long period of time has its own problems. At one stage the doctor who had performed all the surgeries in Pune was on a holiday for about three weeks. Prakash started having issues with his toe injury during this period. Kavita took a decision to see another doctor; he was competent. But doubts started creeping up if the decision to see another doctor was correct. Since the main doctor was away for a long duration there was no choice. Minor surgery on the toe bone was done, successfully.  

 

There remained many such complex issues and had to be tackled. It is simply unimaginable how Prakash and Kavita handled these repetitive but new issues. I am sure that the whole family was always operated on reserve energy because it was always a small period of peace, followed by something or the other which caused and took them into a vicious circle of operation/procedure, followed by a couple of days of anxiety, followed by the dressing of the wound.  This is like running a marathon, one after another, with almost no break! 

The last and the most complex part of the saga was the final stage of the restoration of Prakash’s right hand. He was in better health and was responding quite well to procedures. In the last major operation, after completing the surgery, his hand was stitched to his stomach; it was held in that position for about 25 days. This would help proper assimilation of the graft with the whole body! Being around in such a position for 25 days is something impossible to visualize. After the hand was stitched, putting Prakash in bed from the gurney also became a complex procedure!  

It is now almost five years! Those who do not know what Prakash had gone through, would never know that he has come back from the brink of death if they meet him. He is now busy doing normal things in life and takes life as it comes. (Narmada Parikrama trek was one such activity! That is Prakash for you!) Kavita and Nandita also have gone through a major stressful period in life! But I am told that ladies handle the stressful situation much better than men. They are more expressive and men generally go into a shell during extreme stress! Finally, Nirgudkar family is back to normal life. 

Prakash, I consider myself lucky and proud that we met many moons back and became friends! I am sure we will continue to meet and share the life’s experiences and stories, and remember our COEP days, of course I am talking of Metallurgy! In case, any one of you want to get in touch with Prakash, do write to me!

This blog cannot be complete without the slide below. 

Pakya4

Jack of All Trades!

Jack of all trades and Master of none is a figure of speech that has been very famous for a long time. Since I am not an Etymologist, I had to work hard to understand how this figure of speech came up. 

Jack2

The shortened version “a jack of all trades” is often a compliment for a person who is good at fixing things, and has a very good broad knowledge. A “Jack of all trades” may be a master of integration, as such an individual who knows enough from many learned trades and skills to be able to bring the individual’s disciplines together in a practical manner. This person is a generalist rather than a specialist.  

There is also a longer version “Jack of all trades, master of none, but oftentimes better than master of one” which refers to a person who is not the best at all skills, but is better than someone who is only a master of one.  

JackOfAllTrades1

The “master of none” element appears to have been added later; which made the statement less flattering to the person receiving. Today, the phrase used in its entirety generally describes a person whose knowledge, while covering a number of areas, is superficial in all of them. When abbreviated as simply “jack of all trades”, it is an ambiguous statement; the user’s intention is then dependent on context. However, when “master of none” is added this is unflattering and sometimes added in jest. 

Over the last fifty years, things are going in the direction of specialization. I am told that in the medical field this specialization is quite deep. General Surgeons, Orthopedic Surgeons was the initial norm. Now we have Surgeons for different Organs. We have Spline Surgeon or maybe a Spleen Surgeon. We have Knee Surgeons and we have Shoulder specialists. In dentistry now we have a Pediatric dentist and Implant Dentist. We have experts for our 7th tooth and so on. What happened was that these experts got themselves trained in specialities and later they became such experts that they continued to work only in their specialized areas. Don’t be surprised if you have an expert surgeon who works only middle finger of the left hand!  

But all this is likely to change over a period. At the same time in the times of super specialities, there have been generalists who have done well. There are certain areas in life which need the human being to have knowledge of many things. Super specialization occurs when humans work with their own hands, or they do research in a very specific area e.g. molecular biology. But there are many general-purpose work areas which need cross-functional knowledge, leadership, understanding of commercial aspects. (I have just mentioned a few disciplines.) A superb knee surgeon may not be able to run a hospital. A nerdy computer expert like Steve Jobs came up with fantastic products. But Apple as an organization was way beyond him, though he was one of the founder members.  It requires deep knowledge of the area in which you are an expert, but you need to get the ideas on paper, converted into reality. The specialist may not be an expert in getting these ideas to become a commercial success or be able to convert it into a publicly usable product.  

A new concept is already on the horizon for knowledge of those like you and me, but it is existence since last 10 to 15. But now it is discussed more openly. It is an idea of making use of Supercomputing power, Data Sciences as powerful tools which will help humans to cross new boundaries. How will this happen? In which area could this happen? What are the views of experts?  

Human biology is one area where the impact could be the maximum. We have had great thinkers, great designers in history but to me, HE is the greatest of them all by miles. Human body is a real complex design made by HIM! We have now started understanding many things about humans, the functioning of the human body, diseases, repairs and so on. Ageing of the human body is one area where a lot of work is being done. Why does a human die other than by diseases, accidents? The main reason is old age. Though ultimately the death could be because of heart failure, kidney failure, liver failure; but generally, the reason for death can be described as multiple organ failure. As we grow in age, things start going wrong.

Let us understand how the word “Age” is used. As a noun, it means “the length of time that a person has lived or a thing has existed.” As a verb, it means “grow old or older.” So, when we Age, as in the verb, our body also ages, its functions slowly start diminishing. One area where humans have always been fascinated is overcoming death. Immortality with aged organs, bent back, poor digestion, joints creaking, not able to see and hear properly will be meaningless. Hence there is a lot of research going on in the area of overcoming death and consequent research in the area of reversing ageing of our organs. We already know that knee joint and hip joint replacements are reasonably common surgeries. Some heart replacements are taking place but are not very common.  

Imagine the new Ashwathama who never dies,  having a weak heart. I am sure that there is research going on somewhere to make an artificial heart at a reasonable price. Will this be made by a heart surgeon? Will this be made by a hydraulics engineer? Will it be designed by an electrical engineer, as heart gets electrical impulses to keep pumping on and on! To me, this person will be a generalist or a jack of many (if not all) trades but may be master of none. That entity has to understand hydraulics for a heart pumping, medical knowledge to understand the concept of what heart does and an electrical engineer to understand impulses. (I have considered only a few areas for the purpose of discussion) This generalist will also need to have good computer programming knowledge required for simulating the concept of an artificial heart. 

Jack of all trades term said in jest can become history. You need a jack of all trades. The knowledge of how the huge collected data can be processed using data science will also be useful! Are we talking of a Superman? Are we talking of a “Super specialist Generalist”? Is it already getting complicated? But to overcome the Yamaraj (the god of death) humans need to work hard, work smarter. It is definitely not a job of a super specialist but a super generalist!  

In the medical field, results of the Jack of All trade concept has become commonly known to us. Knee joints, Hip joints, putting stainless rods in place of bones, words like Stainless Steel and Titanium have become common. This is a language of a mechanical engineer and a metallurgist! Then there are teeth implants! Use of Gold in dentistry is quite common for years! Scattered usage of such combination of expert generalist has been happening for quite some time. 

But AI and supercomputing are going to give a real boost to such efforts as these are powerful tools. AI is self-learning as it can learn from historical data generated, as the project progresses. What will Immortality project involve? To start with, stop ageing of your skin, a 150-year-old person would also like to have young looking skin. Then stop the ageing of joints! Revive heart function, revive brain function and so on. This means the whole-body function will need revival. This will involve more generalists than having super specialists! Combination cross functional knowledge comes into picture. 

So, stop calling “Jack of All Trades” to someone in jest! That is going to be the need of the hour! Do you know who can replace the super specialist? It can be Robot made by Super generalists! Amen!

To me the best example of Jack of All Trades:

JACK OF ALL TRADES

Jack3

MASTER OF ALL

 

 

 

Hats Off!

I read an article about a song and dance program held in Cipla Center of Palliative Care, in Pune. The article was written by the lady who was the main performer. She knew that this centre gives palliative care for Cancer probably terminal patients. The program was for the entertainment of these patients. She was apprehensive as she had never done this before. She was wondering how these patients will accept her program. The program was to create the joyous atmosphere in these patient’s lives. She reached the venue and the hall started filling up with patients. Some walking in, carrying their own drips, some coming in the wheelchairs. Then a few beds were brought in. The lady was awed by what was happening and she did not know what to expect. Patients were brought in to the arena on gurneys and transferred to their beds!

The program started and the rhythm picked up! Some of the patients started blowing whistles, as is the tradition in Tamasha songs. People started clapping and shouting. The peak of the show was when one of the lady patients, lying on an inclined bed started moving to the rhythm. She was very ill. She was wearing a Saree. In her bed, she did some sensuous movements using Pallu of her Saree! What courage? What attitude?

Here was a lady, very sick. Maybe terminally sick and I am sure she knew it! But she was not only enjoying the moment but her attitude must have given encouragement to other patients. It is such people who make this world a great place to be in! These people are the beacons of society. The lady did what was unthinkable though at the back of her mind she must have known that these were her last months on the earth. How do such people have the courage to look death in the face? Yamraj must have thought after tracking her activity, why not keep this lady on this earth for a longer time and make earth a better place! I am writing this based on the article written by the performer. I do not know anything about the lady but I feel like getting up and to go and give the lady a hug! Hats Off Mam!

Hatsoff2

We have read about historical accounts where people have reacted bravely knowing that their action would result in an imminent death for them. The battle of Sinhagad fort during Shivaji’s time is the classic case. Tanaji and his cousin Suryaji attacked at night and climbed the treacherous fort using ropes. In the battle, Tanaji died and Suryaji took over. The soldiers panicked and started to run back towards the ropes. Tanaji’s uncle Shelar mama cut the ropes. Soldiers had no option but to come back and fight. Marathas won that battle. Shelar mama took the action of cutting the ropes thereby he took a grave risk where his own life was also in danger. He knew that they could lose and that he would surely get killed. But he was not afraid of this eventuality. He took this decision knowing the grave risk to him. Such people make the armies that win the battles. Picture of Sinhgad Fort below.

Sinhagad

There was the similar battle of Pavan Khind. Shivaji Maharaj was trapped on Panhala fort and decided to try and escape to Vishalgad. But his escape was found by the enemy quickly. They started hot pursuit to capture Shivaji. Baji Prabhu Deshpande suggested to Shivaji to move further and waited at Pavan Khind which was a narrow pass. He fought with a small army and fought the enemy till Shivaji reached Vishalgad. When Shivaji reached Vishalgad he ordered two gunshots to be fired as a signal of safe arrival, to Baji Prabhu. Baji Prabhu though was severely hurt fought valiantly till he heard the signal. His death was imminent but still, he volunteered to save Shivaji. Painting depicting Pavan Khind battle.

PawanKhind

Next is one example which gives me goose pimples, even thinking about it! This is about a friend of mine Prakash. He is a happy guy but I never knew that he was made of steel! Rather his mind was made of steel, his body was not! He has been trekking and used to travel all over India. After completing one of his treks, he was returning to Delhi to fly back to Pune. After the episode, he remembered that there was some scratch mark on his right hand which started the episode. He ignored it as he thought that it was a scratch due to something pointed from a bush.

As he reached near Delhi, he started feeling very uneasy. Within a matter of hours, he realized that skin on his right-hand was looking different. It looked very harsh and gangrenous. His hand looked shocking to the naked eye. He reached Delhi and went straight to the airport and wanted to travel back to Pune. Airline staff correctly refused to take him on the flight. He spoke with home and within a short period of time things got organized. He immediately rushed to a major hospital where some family friends also arrived. Luckily the correct treatment in ICU was started immediately. His family travelled immediately to Delhi but I am sure that nobody was prepared to the saga that was to unravel!

He was diagnosed with Necrotizing Fasciitis (Flesh-Eating Bacteria)! One of the rarest things that can happen to humans. The death rate in such cases is as high as 30%. He was lucky to be in Delhi where excellent doctors and facilities were available. The link below gives details of this condition.

https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/necrotizing-fasciitis-flesh-eating-bacteria#2

During the treatment, most of the flesh from his right arm, about 3 to 4 inches from shoulder, had to be removed and bones were totally exposed. Doctors could arrest the progress of the attack. What happened was simply horrible. A normal person would have been extremely nervous, could have gone into depression. But not our Pakya. He and his family took it in a very positive way. Just guess how much time it took for the arm to get to almost normal? About 4 years maybe more! His arm was rebuilt stage by stage with plastic surgeries. I am sure you will agree with me that Pakya is made of steel! I will just share one detail which will show Prakash’s grit and determination. During the final rebuilding phase of his hand, his right hand was stitched, yes stitched to the stomach for a couple of weeks so that proper skin grafting could take place!

What makes such people so strong? We read a lot of war stories where kids in their early 20’s show valour that will make any society proud! What gives them the inner strength? Since Prakash is a friend from college days, I know him quite well. But I never thought that he would have such a steely determination. This strait is only in a very few people and I consider it is my luck and honour that Pakya is my friend! Hats Off Buddy!

Hatsoff1

 

Work, Life and Wife Balance!

Everything in life always has two sides, except when one is born and one dies. There are no two sides to these two events. I will not go into the changes that have taken place during the last couple of decades and it will suffice to say that the volume of these changes is equivalent to or more than what happened in the last century. This speed of change is going to go up and by 2050 it will be beyond our imagination. (Of course, I won’t be around then)

There is cascading information that floats around and is exchanged around the globe 24/7, 365. What this has done is that speed of doing work has simply skyrocketed. For workaholics (like alcoholics) its unlimited supply of their life’s elixir  24/7, 365. Whether it’s a boon or bane only time will tell. But I feel that time has come for workaholics to take a sabbatical, go to the Himalayas for trekking or why not, to go and stay in an Ashram. This person will ask what do I do there? The main thinking should be how deep  one should delve into workaholic stuff. Do a full reveiw of the life you are leading!

I have very recently written a blog with almost the same title but I have an additional word in today’s title. WIFE!

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/06/12/work-life-balance/

Now you will ask me, “Pramod, stop writing a bit. You also go to the Himalayas. You don’t seem to have anything new to write”! You are justified in thinking this way till you read this blog, fully. I consider myself a storyteller rather than a blogger. After chatting with a young, dynamic, dashing workaholic friend, I felt that I need to write what I felt about our chat. I had just gone to him for a cup of coffee and had expected to be done and dusted in 15 minutes. One thing led to another and we ended up exchanging views on life for almost one and half hour.

This friend is an absolute go-getter, 8 am to 9 pm guy. Once in a while maybe he takes a holiday on Sundays! Over a cup of coffee, I was sharing with him my new semi-retired lifestyle. He is very senior in his organization. The organization has been going through a major upheaval, affecting most of the people. This has been going on for last six months. Naturally, I will not share the details. For our man, this is just a situation where he put his hand up and took over major responsibilities. Many of the responsibilities were from his area. So, what did he do? He said, “Pramod, during this period I was doing 5 X times the normal work under extremely stressful condition.” I said, “How is your health holding?” He is a reasonably fit person and also said that he has till some time back, never had any serious health event. Touch wood!

But he did have an event while he was travelling during this tough period. During this event, on the last day of his travel, he had to be monitored by a doctor, hour by hour. He was allowed to travel back home. He still had uneasiness and went to see his regular physician in a hospital, a few days later. His doctor was shocked on checking some values. My knowledge tells me that with these values any human being is theoretically dead. The doctor directly put him in ICU and made sure that his values came down to reasonable figures. He has started working again.

But one good thing is that he has started doing a few things in life with his family that he had never done for some time, he has seen a few Marathi movies recently. The question arose in my mind that passion has to be there in whatever you do. But one’s life has its own compartments. Work and Life balance are what we always discuss. But with our friend’s children being away for education, to me, Wife becomes an important aspect which should be considered. I read an article recently where the person had written that all the cousins in their family had been meeting only during marriages or when someone died. Should these be the only occasions when the cousins should meet? Do you really “meet” on such occasions? Death is a sad occasion anyway and during marriages, people make a very hectic entry and go away because everybody is too busy! Are we really so busy? Is it really worth it? What is life about? How about a cup of coffee with the wife at CCD or where ever? How about eating a Butta or two? How about a long drive once in while during the rainy season?

God is great and he gave a second opportunity to my friend. But we don’t know what is written in destiny. Should we test the destiny to the extreme, especially when you don’t know what is written in your destiny? Over a period, I have come to the conclusion that  a one-day-old child can survive in this world if his mother dies, the world will survive without your contribution. The organizations will survive without you; who knows it may thrive without you! Yes, your contribution matters, your passion drives your team to perform better. You are born to excel, you are born to perform. Your purpose on this “Terra Firma” is to contribute in a big, smart way, always! You won’t be able to sleep well if you don’t do this on a daily basis. This is understandable, you are simply made that way! But you are also trained to do the cost-benefit analysis! You have taken umpteen number of risks! But is the serious risk to your life worth it? You are very smart and you know that it is not!

So, my friend, bring your wife too into central focus now! For you, it is a matter of multi-tasking! You have been doing it anyway all through your career! But let me assure you switching from emotional to work multi-tasking is not so easy as it looks! It’s a tough call but I feel that it’s time you did it! For you and your family! They deserve it!

My two cents. A cup of coffee with you, anytime friend!

What to do with galloping Technology?

Exponential

The curve above is representative of how technology is developing at a breakneck speed. The title is neither a rhetorical question nor a controversial statement. This thought came to my mind while I was reading about the galloping speed of progress in many areas the humans are making. In the movie “Back to the Future” (1985) the person goes back to the year 1955 using a time machine. The differences he sees are interesting but not surprising. There was nothing exceptionally different or path-breaking in those 30 years. Had the movie been produced in 2015, the time machine would have taken the person to 1985, with 30-year logic. That change would have been exceptional for the person to guess!  What is the meaning of life with no PC’s, no Cell phones, no Internet, no WA, no FB? The person would not believe that life only 30 years back was so different.  

Just imagine that a human being was transported from 12000 years back, pre-farming era, to the year 1500. The cities, the carriageways, farming equipment would be such a big change that this person suddenly exposed to so many changes, might die of shock. A person from the year 1500, will be reasonably shocked to be taken to the year 1750 but he won’t die! How much change can human mind accept and absorb at a time? The rate of change is really galloping in the recent past. Change from the year 1500 to the year 1750 and the change from 1750 to 2015 cannot be compared. Change of scene that we see in the year 2015 compared to the year 1985 is really vast. But the human mind will not be able to accept changes from 1750 to 2015, the person could also simply die! It initially took 12000 plus years for such deadly changes to occur but later it took only 250 plus years for similar deadly changes. We can call such changes as “Deadly Change” (DC).

This comparison tells us that the rate of change is dependent on how advanced the society is at that time, it is the datum level that is important. For obvious reasons, we see terrific changes happening in the Bay area in the USA. We know that such change was happening in the area of Electronics, Computers and the Internet; but along with these changes, it appears that this area may also surge ahead in Car manufacturing as indicated by Tesla! We really don’t know where Apple and Google are the car domain but one thing is sure, they have technical wherewithal, passion and money. All changes are not DC type but the rate of change is galloping.  

If such changes have happened in the first 18 years of 21st century itself, what is lying ahead, we simply do not know. The changes that happened between the year 2000 to the year 2015 could get squeezed to seven years between the year 2015 and year 2022! Enormous changes can happen initially in 7 seven years, then in 3 years and then one year and then one month and then one day! Friends you may think that Pramod is dreaming and writing a fictional scenario of how things will change. But I get a feeling that changes that are going to happen in future will take an exponential curve.

The curve shown above displays the rapid speed at which things are moving.

  1. The rate of change can be represented up to the year 2000 by the slope at value –1 on X axis! What we are going to get in future will be slope after that! The high growth slope at +1 value is due to Microsoft, Google, Facebook coming in the picture during that time period between years 2000 and 2005. 
  2. Our historical perspective has been up to –1 value so we keep on thinking and expecting that the change will always be gradual and slow!  
  3. We are “Old people” of the gone era and I am talking of people in 50’s too! We are stubborn and we say that change can happen only so fast! How can change happen exponentially?  

But something is already happening in the background; you, me and the general public think that AI is something that is shown in Sci-Fi movies. It is for graduate students to take up the projects as a requirement, it is not real life! When we talk of AI, we always think of Robots; Robots are containers for AI stuff. AI is the brain and Robots is the body. When we talk of AI, we always think of computers but do not forget that another area which is making progress in leaps and bounds is biotechnology. The progress in this area is the result of tremendous progress made in the last 30 years; along with this terrific progress is made in the medical field too! These technologies are going to be the drivers of rapid change.

All this lead leads to a question of how much is the shelf life of technology? To me, some will evolve slowly and the concept will continue for a long time. For example, aeroplanes. Aeroplanes have been there for more than hundred years, only major has been jet engine! But no other path-breaking stuff is visualized. The telephone also has been around for a similar time but this technology has also changed slowly. The change now is faster after cell phones arrived on the scene. But now cell phone is really evolving in a different animal, fast! It is getting converted into a personal tool which might do everything for you, from phones to camera, to photo repository, to the music system, to chat system, to a chequebook and a bank! This change has really happened fast in the last 15 years and what form and shape it will take, only God knows. 

Biotechnology and medical fields are progressing rapidly! Last hundred years have seen some major breakthroughs in reining in epidemics. People dying in hundreds of thousands or in millions due to illnesses,  was a norm, in old days! There was plague, there was black death. The systems and the doctors just could not contain them and the way was you die or you run away elsewhere! Medicines and cures were, more prayer and faith-based than science-based. Last fifty years have seen the dramatic change in this scenario; when AIDs became rampant, doctors found basic details about it, in 2 years and now they know that it is an Auto Immune thing and per se is not as dangerous as it looks. A person with AIDs dies with other infections! Had AIDs appeared 500 years back, half the then population of the world could have been wiped out. Ebola came but was reasonably well controlled, quickly!  

This speed is good for humans but technology changes in day to day stuff can be difficult to handle with galloping speed. We have seen in front of our eyes, pagers come and go, so did fax! Cameras with the film are a history and music pieces can be composed in two different continents and a song gets created in the third continent.  

Some of these changes, humans will handle well and others can be tough to absorb. The working population will have to get themselves reskilled every ten years (am I too optimistic?) or perish. You can’t become a banker and a chartered accountant and work lifelong in the same career. Block Chain technology may eliminate such concepts! Experts may make a lot of money by the time they are 40 and may want to retire! And do what? Some young friends of ours are already contemplating this scenario.

Average Deepak or a John did not have face Cancer or Heart Attack because he never lived that long. With better products, diagnostics tools,  and cures, better solutions from biotechnology, the lifespan of Deepak and John is increasing rapidly. With better cures, these dangerous diseases are also more controllable and many times curable. Now more people die of old age instead of dying due to illnesses.  

Friends, I am very positive that humans will find a way to handle these galloping changes but some thoughts and concepts will change on their heads! Don’t be surprised if you meet a banker friend of yours after ten years and find him growing organic farms or has become potter of beautiful ceramics! We always find our path, some find it quickly, some find it late and some don’t find at all! Darwin’s theory of “Survival of the fittest” is one thing that will never change!  

 

 

 

Misogyny!

Misogyny

 

Misogyny is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls. Misogyny is manifest in numerous ways, including social exclusion, sex discrimination, hostility, androcentrism, patriarchy, male privilege, belittling of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification. Misogyny can be found within sacred texts of religions, mythologies. Why this thought process exists is very simple to judge. Nature has created humans as males and females; females have been given a very important job of giving birth to children. The science of childbearing and giving birth has made the male and female bodies differently, with women’s bodies between certain age are made ready to conceive. In the initial phase of history, the marriages took place even before the girl’s body was ready to conceive and both husband wife hardly knew anything about the birds and the bees.

Over a period, the so-called legal age for marriage went on increasing and now it is theoretically minimum 18 years for girls. The monthly cycles of women, created different thought process in the initial phase of history, but it seems not much has changed even today. The women are supposed to be impure in that phase of their monthly cycle. Many women have difficulty handling menstruation both physically and mentally. Handling this aspect on a practical basis was also very difficult, even 70 years back,  due to lack of knowledge and lack of proven clean methods to handle periods. This led to calling women impure, weak and what have you! Also, during pregnancy and childbirth, women needed to take it easy or sometimes rest, completely! This led to calling and looking at women as weak and inferior individuals. Probably if a male is made to give birth to a child, then he would know who is weak!

I read a news item in today’s Pune newspaper that in a crowded public place, a guy tried to misbehave with a woman. When he was caught and taken to the police station, he said, “Oh, I thought she was a whore!” This is purely a misogynist statement. This is our society’s behaviour with women! Reading the M J Akbar and Sabarimala stories, this is the type of reaction we are getting from men and some women too! These are so-called strong women who think women should have retaliated there and then instead of being crybabies and complaining years after the MeToo event took place.

Many are surprised with the way people from the advanced, highly educated  Kerala are behaving against the Supreme Court Verdict on Sabarimala, not allowing all ladies (including those of menstruating age between 10&50) to visit Ayyappa Mandir. Kerala is the most literate state in India with the literacy rate of 110% (it is jokingly said that 10% are monkeys from Kerala which are also literate!). Many including women have stopped the ladies from entering the Mandir. I am sure most of you are not aware of Kerala’s poor history in sticking to so-called traditions.

The Channar Lahala or Channar revolt, also called Maru Marakkal Samaram, refers to the fight from 1813 to 1859 of Nadar climber women in Travancore kingdom for the right to wear upper-body clothes to cover their breasts. I will not go into too many details but it was a tradition in those days of baring of the chest and shoulders in front of people of higher status and was considered a sign of respect, by both males and females. Only Nair community ladies were allowed to wear blouses but Nadar community, from so-called lower caste, were not allowed to wear them. Uneasy with social status, many Nadars embraced Christianity and started wearing long clothes. Nadar women later started wearing blouses, similar to Nair community. This led to Channar revolt which went on for 40 plus years though British rulers and Royalty from Travancore tried to force this issue.

We are all aware that the humans started with wearing loin cloth made from tree leaves. But the concepts of civil behaviour started evolving too. Wearing clothes was part of this evolution. The Kerala region has been way ahead of other parts of India in literacy and education, from the beginning. But religion and castes superseded the normal thought process in the brain of Keralites too, and the result was Channar Revolt! It was logical that Nadar women should have been allowed to wear blouses.

With this type of thought process, it is not surprising that in the whole of India Misogyny has been the common trait. The basic difference in Me Too and Sabarimala is that at the heart of the matter, is the question of the body. In Sabarimala Case, the celibate body of the lord counterpointed against the “impure” body of the menstruating woman. In Me Too, the sexually entitled body of the male (any male) over the sexually vulnerable and dis-empowered body of the female (any female).

Underlying both conditions is a deep-rooted misogyny, casual in Me Too and customary on the part of Sabarimala. Yet both are two sides of the same patriarchal coin, and both betray such a profound contempt for — or fear of — the female body that they have to either punish it by casting it out or control it by subjugating it.

What these two phenomena have done? Sabarimala has openly said, let us continue with a different kind of untouchability, to hell with the constitution. What MeToo has done is that it has brought out in open, what has been happening for a very long time and one of the dirtiest open secret; some people are already saying that it is an elitist movement but in India the elite and the maid servants are so close on a day to day basis, that this movement will also spread in non-elite strata, thanks to the elite ladies who are leading this revolution.

What MeToo in M J Akbar and other’s case, and the Supreme Court verdict on Sabarimala have done is to unshackle the troublesome business of female sexuality from patriarchal control. MeToo has called male sexual predators to account not simply by naming and shaming, but by refusing to succumb. By not ceding control over their bodies. By rejecting them and registering their revulsion. The Supreme Court verdict, similarly, has called out a discriminatory practice based on a sexual taboo — an unspoken endorsement of different untouchability — and simultaneously challenged male primacy in the matter of worship.

Friends, this sudden loss of power at the hands of women in one instance, and via a judgment on the other, has hit patriarchal privilege bandwagon in an unexpected — and unwelcome — ways. What causes resentment is that it is female sexuality, under patriarchal control all these years, that has upset the apple-cart. The fact that it cannot be used to justify discrimination/untouchability under a different garb, even in a place of worship. In future, it cannot be abused at will and with impunity. The fact that women will no longer fall in line, and or remain silent.

Misogynists of the world, be careful and warned in the future! The ladies brigade and the Indian constitution are now slowly waking up! As far as Kerala is concerned, Sabarimala is only one month and it is early days, compared 40 year plus war of Channar Lahala!