Bucket List!

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A bucket list is a list of things that one has not done before but wants to do before dying. Your first question would be why the hell Pramod is talking about death. But the usage of this term has been quite recent. Hitting the bucket is the colloquial term for dying. It is not about death. But do not forget that bucket list need not be life long. You can make short term bucket lists a few times a year. Items could be “I will buy a pair Rayban goggles this month”, or “I am going to meet my long lost friend Deepak in next two months”. Do not forget that these shortlists are also going to give us great joy! My item was keeping a ponytail. If I had done it otherwise, people would have said, “Pramod has gone senile”! I used Corona situation to fulfil my wish!

WhatsApp Image 2020-06-09 at 08.47.50

Typical lists have different items on each individuals’ list. From visiting the standard places like Tajmahal, Niagara falls, Eiffel towers and so on, the list will be endless. See the Wall of China, Visit Machu Pichhu, Meet Princess Diana or Marilyn Monroe are some other favourite items (Ladies let me know your preferences). Watch a cricket match at MCG in Melbourne with the capacity crowd was on my list- I did it in March 2015.

But the first half of the year 2020 has made a drastic change in the thinking of people. In my case, it is a dramatic change. I feel as if I have achieved Nirvana of sorts! Thanks to Coronavirus. It appears that this situation will continue for three to six months more. Have I been a person who prefers to be home-bound? Marathi term for this is घरकोंबडा! Not really. We always used to go out, meet friends, see movies when possible, travel. Going to restaurants, inviting friends at home was our regular routine. Post 22nd March, everything has stopped.

I live in an eleven-story condo tower and live on the 7th floor. All my windows and the balcony face the west. In summer times, the harsh sun is so bright that we were forced to put sunscreens which blocked the light a hundred per cent. With this change, the weather inside is controlled, we do not need an AC. It is so dark within the room, we need to put on the light if we have to do some chore. But this is only a small irritant. The benefits of west-facing home, on the 7th floor with an unblocked view, for miles together, has its advantages. The lockdown brought out the benefits to the fore. What have I been missing?

Even before this lockdown, we sometimes had our cuppa early morning with a beautiful breeze, fresh directly from the hills. It is invigorating, to say the least! Yes, the fog or smog sometimes made the view hazy. I have been enjoying the misty Pune rains of the monsoon sitting there. But never had I even thought of that I would be looking forward to being in the balcony every day! I am there, every day in the evening for at least 30 to 40 minutes. Watching the movies created by nature. With the monsoon in the air, there are clouds. Clouds, in many shades of grey- from light grey to ominous grey in different formations, are seen every day. Even at this age, the real dark ones bring a tinge of fear in mind! But since Pune does not get high rainfall, these clouds hit the hills in around water bodies around Pune to quell their fury! The fascinating canvas that gets unrolled every day, with the sun playing hide and seek, is to be seen to be believed. The holi of colours is played every day! From bright gold to enchanting red, from dark grey to emerald blue the combinations will beat the colour shades offered by computers, hollow.

                                             (Oneplus 6T cell phone Camera)

A couple of weeks into lockdown, we started hearing chanting and cooing of birds loud and clear! Unfortunately, as I am on the 7th floor, even the tall trees are well below my line of sight. So I am not able to see any of the birds unless they are flying. I do see some parrots and pigeons resting on the terraces of the buildings nearby with a few squirrels thrown in. I am sure they were infrequently seen even before lockdown, but I never made it a point to watch them. Honestly, in my lifestyle before and after lockdown, there is only 10 to 15 per cent change. Post “almost retired” status we went out much less compared to working days. But it is the mindset change that has made the difference.

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                                                     Cannon 1100 D Camera 70X300

I take advantage of my being at the vantage point to see nature regularly. I cursorily looked at Sinhgad, a Shivaji time fort, about twenty km from home. The pollution, the smog was simply missing, and I could clearly see the fort. I started taking photographs of Sinhgad as many times as possible. The clarity is stunning! On one day Sinhgad was looking hazy, and the lockdown was just easing out. I got worried and shared with Jaya that the beautiful site will now be eaten up by the pollution. But the next day, things were “normal”! I could take photographs of Sinhgad. I had forgotten that fog is a normal phenomenon of nature; I had simply concluded that it was lost to pollution!

My favourite example of such adversities is based on how to take advantage of the difficulty. Sachin Tendulkar in a match versus Pakistan in South Africa was facing Shoib Akhtar at his best. He was fast and furious on that day and bowled a nasty bouncer to Sachin. He simply raised his bat at the last moment and slashed hard as the ball was moving at high speed and an awkward bounce. Next moment the ball was in the stands travelling ten rows over the spectators.

The lockdown has been thrown at us by the destiny, hit it for a six. Do not get into “I am bored”, “I do not know what to do mode!” You have not suddenly become older by ten years. Our generation has been lucky that many diversions onscreen in different formats are available to us at our fingertips. The important thing is there is no one to limit our screen time. In fact, our family and friends are worried if you are not able to use technology to your benefit! Play that computer game, see the old Hitchcock movie Psycho! See the brand new Swara Bhasker serial Rasbhari! You will be able to watch free webinars ad nauseam. See those old dramas or one-act plays which you missed in your busy schedule and chat with friends. Look for your seventy-year-old ex-flame and see what she is up to. In fact, you will not get time to say “I am bored”, “I do not know what to do mode!”

 

                                                     Entrance Beach, Australia

                                                Cannon 1100 D Camera 70X300

With reset of mind due to lockdown, my thinking about bucket list has changed. I would rather be with nature. Trees, clouds, mountains, birds and the beasts would enchant me more, and I would rather be with rivers and ocean! The idea has been in mind since I visited the Entrance beach in Australia. It was a majestic, serene and enchanting beach on the Pacific ocean. Over a period, many of our travels included nature rather than large cities. Lockdown has converted me. I am getting to tick mark some portions of the bucket list sitting at home!

Do not worry about me! I am not balcony bound. I am also into video calling and doing different things. With my engineering college groups, I have started to interview friends who have achieved many things in life. These interviews keep me busy in logistics, coordination and other stuff. Plus of course, family video calls are there. Life is home-bound but busy! It is about resetting your mindset as per the situation. One of the significant change could be to modify your bucket list! Taking photographs regularly was one of them!

Too Busy to Enjoy!


A friend shared her experience, which made me think. They lived in Worli, Mumbai on the 19th floor bang opposite their windows was the Arabian sea. A couple of her friends had come to stay with them for a few days. Just before leaving for the train station, the guest said, “Oh! There is the sea out there. You have a nice view.” For the duration of their stay, they never observed the sea. Come on; you cannot miss the sea. The guests lived in a city which was far away from the sea.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder is the idiom that comes to mind. In dictionaries, the usage of the word beauty is explained as

  • the qualities in a person or thing that as whole give pleasure to the senses
  • the beauty of the landscape along the coast was enough to take your breath away

Some enjoy the beauty in the smallest things, and others miss the ocean in front of the eyes. Why is that so? It could be that some of us are too engrossed in trying to find out the next meal! It could be that some of us are too busy arranging the meal for the seventh generation, down the lane- engrossed in making money! Some of us need to have alcoholic support to enjoy tête-à-tête with a friend. For a person like me, meeting a friend gives me a high! But experiencing something beautiful comes naturally. The most beautiful thing is the smile of a child who starts recognising its mother. Nothing can beat the innocent smile. Would there be people in this world who do not enjoy this smile? Yes, there would be! What are such people made up of is difficult to judge! My favourite Q! Is it in their DNA? Are they born with this defect? If that is so, then they are most unfortunate.


We see many people with lines on their forehead! Their brows are always indicating that they have to carry the load of the universe. People forget that they can do serious work, meaningful work, but for that, they need not take themselves seriously. You may be discussing the theory of nuclear energy or talking about military strategy, but during lunch or tea break, you can always share a joke or two. You might see some birds in the vicinity; and you may get a lovely drizzle, enjoy it.

There is a story that shows the thinking of people. We had a family friend living close by, in Pune. He was a nice person, but he had a different way of thinking. In Pune, we generally have beautiful temperate weather. For a week in monsoon, a couple of weeks in summer weather is not comfortable. Whenever I spoke to him, I would ask him how he was. Depending on the time of the year, he would reply, “Oh, it is so hot!” “Oh, it is so Cold!” “Oh, there is so much rain!” Surprisingly, these statements were made about Pune weather.

I will share with you a few things I have enjoyed in life. In our younger days, we always had a cat at home. One of them was smart. She had a few deliveries in our home. The cats change places where they keep the babies, till the kittens start moving on their own. The smarty would shift only one of the babies, and she expected us to move the other babies. We thought that we were smarter than her and shifted the kittens to a new place; it was a pre-emptive move on our part. Smarty did not like this. She moved one of the kittens to the first place and followed us in the house. We were wondering why she was following us. Then we saw what she had done. Then we moved all remaining kittens to the first place. She stopped following us and went to sleep with the kittens. It was a sight to see the cat teaching her kittens to catch small mice in our garden.

You do not need to go to Tajmahal, Niagara Falls or St Moritz to enjoy the beauty. These are of course beautiful, but in smaller things also you can enjoy. You must enjoy the paintings of Picasso, Rembrandt and Hussain but do not forget that HE is the most celebrated painter on the earth, he offers art show every day if you have an eye for it. It is free. We enjoy that show from our balcony every day! Who can paint better than HIM?

Now there is a trend to take holidays, and we travel with tour organisers. They spin you around for seven to thirteen days. When we take this option, we try to see that the coordinators do not have a hectic schedule. Also, we check in advance that they allow us to spend a day or two on our own. We want to enjoy at our pace, at the same time we want to soak into the beauty in our way.

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In St Moritz, Switzerland, they had suggested that we go and enjoy the beauty of four peaks in a day which included Matterhorn. We did only two. We spent a lot of time at Matterhorn. We believe in soaking into the beauty at our pace!

We have a home where we lived for about seven years. It is a row house. There we have a garden, and there was greenery. We used to have an adda of friends quite regularly, having tea-coffee and Gappa. We had garden chairs and a table under the shade of trees. When the chairs were full, there was a platform to sit on. I remember sessions after sessions of Gappa even in monsoon during a drizzle. It is the atmosphere, it is the ambience, and it is most important how you want to seek the beauty with which you are surrounded. In Madikeri resort jungle, I would enjoy early morning tweets by birds. I was hoping to find in vain the sequence in which different birds tweet- I never succeeded. I thought that they chirped at random- it only showed that my knowledge of the subject was poor!

Our life is full of ups and downs but we need to handle it in such a way that we find good stuff from what is around you. Do not shut eyes when at home; to enjoy the beauty of the world we do not necessarily have to travel. When you can find good things from the world around you, you improve your life’s balance sheet by making entries to the credit side!

 

The Rock and the Hard place! 

To be stuck between two equally tough decisions or situations. The expression is often used when a person feels as if there are no good options available to him or her. There are similar expressions which are Catch 22 situation or Hobson’s choice.

https://youtu.be/WYllKnRMxpc

I had shared the above video with friends. My friend Vijay and I had a banter about this video.

The remark I had written when I shared the video led to the banter.

 “Can’t imagine something dangerous lurking behind this blissful morning!”

 Vijay: Didn’t get it!

Do you mean this Blissful situation is there because of dreadful COVID?

Pramod: Yes. Nahi to smog Hota hai poora😒

Vijay: A Question:

What would you choose between- Routine Day to Day life with smog or the Blissful situation caused by Covid-19?

Pramod: Is that a question 😊 We should be able to reset🙂

Vijay: No, a blunt answer.

Pramod: Business can be rebuilt; nature can’t.

Vijay: Nature is supposed to be the greatest healer!

Pramod: But there is a limit

It looks like an early morning banter between friends, but it put my mind into action. Hence the title! What is good, and what is evil? It is a tough question to answer. But the problem is that this is too big a subject to be discussed in a blog. But let me try.

Here is the situation that has slowly developed and sometimes not so slow. The world is moving ahead at breakneck speed with development in different fields. In the last twenty years, the average rate of growth must be many times that of the pace in the previous hundred years. There is always a downside to any story if we do not handle the environmental aspects correctly. Vijay asked me for a blunt reply. He said, not in those words, but the banter is always implicit. He said, “Would you prefer to see Sinhgad clearly, or would you rather see it in the haze but with continued breakneck growth?” COVID 19 situation has put us in a situation of rethinking various strategies. We should all introspect; we may not get such a golden opportunity again.

The million-dollar question is progress or pollution? Let us first understand the meaning of pollution. Pollution, also called environmental pollution, is the addition of any substance (solid, liquid, or gas) or any form of energy (such as heat, sound, or radioactivity) to the environment.  The rate of addition is faster than it can be dispersed, diluted, decomposed, recycled, or stored in some harmless form. Why does this happen? What are the factors increasing environmental pollution?

The second image is from Bogota and the third one is the Himalayas seen from Jalandhar about one hundred miles away- SHared by cricketer Harbhajan Singh.

Progress and Pollution go hand in hand. Many times, now, the pollution rate is higher than the gain. Why does this happen? Consider power plants run on fossil fuels. Consider anything run on fossil fuels. Cars, Motorcycles, Aeroplanes, Gensets, Power plants are some of the applications that burn fuel, pun intended. Polluting gases like CO2, and particles are released in the atmosphere. It has led to the depletion of the ozone layer. What is the reason for this fast forward in the world? The western world has been polluting heavily for an extended period. In late ’70 s of the last century, before the world realised, China started “progressing” in a big way. India joined the race at the beginning of this century. With a large population, these two countries joined the bandwagon of polluters. But the polluter in chief was the culprit and the judge too! The United States of America.

Combination of progress and controlled pollution is possible when nations have the will. These nations also must spend a lot of money on anti-pollution devices and actions. When the world had small population during the pre-industrial era, we used to dump things in rivers. The smoke polluting chimney was the norm; Nature, like a kind mother, was absorbing our errors. We continued with similar habits even after industrialisation. Some of us “woke up” early and started speaking against these follies. As usually happens, we called these people anti-development or anti-everything. Before we could grasp what was happening, the situation went out of control. The “culprit/ judge” declared then that they were quitting the global body to control pollution because “anti-gang” was coming in the way of progress! There was no serious issue as per the judge. Except for them, everybody else was the culprit!

When a large, highly advanced nation takes this stance, things are bound to spiral into a serious problem. Well, there are many theories now coming out like the mother nature taking its revenge! The revenge is supposedly in the form of the current pandemic. The pandemic has stopped the cities, states and nations. It has stopped has stores, malls, factories and markets. Rail, road and air travel is used only for emergency needs. The world has come to a standstill. Vijay asked me what you would prefer, the better world at a halt or the usual chaotic world with millions of problems which seem insurmountable.

The answer is that the everyday world is preferable but! We must consider the “but” rider. We cannot continue our chaotic, polluting ways. The human race is supposed to live a life that will be a better life for future generations. During pre-pandemic days, we were riding a goods train with failed breaks. The question has been when and how the train would derail. There was no “if”; everybody was sure that we humans would crash. The classic example of this, we saw yesterday on the news channels. State governments in India allowed the liquor shops to open from yesterday. In every city, we saw the same scenes. People lined up in front of wine shops from six am. It was as if the alcohol is a remedy for the pandemic, and you are likely to die if you are not able to procure it. Social distancing norms be damned. We should keep our fingers crossed and hope that all of us change for the better!

What is the answer to Vijay’s blunt question? My answer is we should not forget that the ozone layer depletion, smog, (and smog-related illnesses) are facts of life. The investments in businesses and development must also have a large element of funds to control the downside. If we invest 100 units for growth, make it 70 for development and 30 for environmental issues. If 5G technology comes in the year 2035 instead of 2025 heavens are not going to fall. I would love to go to Sinhgad to enjoy the beauty of nature. But if that 30 km ride is pollution-free, I would love it more. Let me observe the tower, where I live while standing on top of Sinhgad. Sinhgad example is a metaphor. It is like Sakura flowers in Japan or Goldmohur trees in India. These bloom in spring and in summer. What will happen if these flowers do not bloom? If we don’t behave, it could happen. Don’t forget that Arctic ice caps are melting. It is not a futuristic threat; it is already happening. Why not try and switch over to Electric Vehicles? Why not go for wind energy and solar systems in a big way?

Everybody big and small should think in terms of the environment while doing whatever they are doing. Some things can become expensive. BS 6 engines are costly. But is there any choice? All these years, we did not take environmental cost into the business calculation; hence we could sell things at a lower price. There should be heavy taxation on polluting products as they have on liquor (for a different reason). It is the way we should bring a better environment to the next generation. We should teach them to respect the God-given gift, nature.

Yes! We must have progress! But it should not be a relentless pursuit. The progress should be married to a better environment, improved environment!

Sorry, Vijay! Instead of one line reply, I gave you 1300 plus words of reply!

Relentless Life Cycle!

When our children were younger, we would tell them that “Thandi Baba” ( a mythical figure) will come if you do not go to sleep now, or some such statement. Every family has its version of Thandi Baba. But now the latest version of Thandi Baba is threatening the whole world. People are worried; people are skeptical about life! Life always moves forward in a sinusoidal waveform. There are ups, and there are downs. But the current situation is such that we seem to have forgotten this concept. People are thinking that the current situation is going to last forever. Internet, FB, Smartphones and WhatsApp appeared in that particular order. These things completely changed our life. When these are active about a subject, we feel that it is the only subject in the world.

Even 50 to 70 years back, the information remained locked within countries. We hardly knew anything about the western world; western world anyway was the least bothered about us. Now those with smartphones have the whole world in their hands, literally. We get all the information live, 24/7!

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Back to the sinusoidal wave! Why are we so much worried about the current situation? We had second world war going between 1939 and 1945. Though Indian soldiers fought on behalf of the British, except for far east India, the heat of that war did not reach us. On top of that, we were under British rule. We had our worries about the British Raj. But Europe, Russia, the US and Japan had borne the brunt of world war II. Are our fears about the pandemic unrealistic? How many deaths will be there in the worst-case scenario?

Estimates for the total casualties of World War II suggest that some 60 million people died in the world war II, including about 20 million soldiers and 40 million civilians. Many civilians died because of disease, starvation, massacres, bombing and deliberate genocide. In Hiroshima, when the bomb was dropped, 1.4 lac people were killed and more by after-effects. The same figures in Nagasaki were 78 thousand, and more later due to after-effects. But these were all human-made horrors. The current one is invisible- it is Thandi baba!

It took years for the world to know the real death figures. Just imagine that the internet and TV were available in those times. Rumours and fear would have killed many more people. Friends, have we forgotten that there are peaks and troughs in life? The current one is a longish trough in our life. So why not have a relook at life? Every day, we are getting the treat of bird’s chirping for a long time. We can hear them till they are either bored or tired! As the traffic is low, the pollution levels have gone down in the cities. Life is good for retirees like me. It is not a must that we go somewhere. Life is healthy except that we can’t go out anywhere. You will ask me why it is healthy? With maids not able to come for work, all their work is shared by Jaya and me. There are life’s lessons available if you want to take them. If you are cleaning the floor, you move forward, but while wiping the floor with a mop, you move backwards. You will learn to take life as it comes! Wiping the floor can not be done moving forward! 🙂🙂

Have we forgotten that there are ups? I distinctly remember what happened to me in 2013. I was detected with Cancer, end 2013; treatment of Immunotherapy and 34 radiations were needed. That was a deep trough in my life. But in parallel, there was a high peak of happiness. Our granddaughter was born in the same time frame. We had enjoyed her arrival, that brought us the biggest joy. That joy continues even today

We all live through life with ups and downs, but particular troughs, deeply scar us. For example, second world war holocaust. Hitler and his Nazis killed more than 6 million. It is the conservative figure of the number of Jews who were killed. These scars have damaged the Jewish race permanently. The only reason the Nazis killed was that they were Jews.

World history has known that the war’s start and end. There are deaths, and there is destruction. It happens for a specific period. But the current scourge is such that people do not know how long it will last. Another thing it has done is that it is covering the whole world. There is no geographic limit for the spread. A most crucial aspect of the scourge is that there is no known cure. Okay, by no means it can be called a killer disease. But since there is no known cure, some nations, including India, have found that the social distancing and full lockdown of the country is the only solution. India’s current lockdown period is till 15th April, but nobody is sure if it is going to be adequate. The total lockdown has stopped all businesses, factories and trade, except those that come under essential services. All buses, trains and flights have been suspended. So everybody has to stay at home. We can see only so much of TV, surf the internet for a certain amount of time. You can’t intermingle with friends and neighbours; those who cannot work from home for reasons specific to the nature of work, have nothing to do. We spend almost ten hours of daytime at work. It is not easy! But is there any option?

The most unexpected collateral damage is the reverse migration of daily wage earners from big cities. These people are not sure how long the current situation is going to last. These people fear that they will have no place to live, no work, no money and hence no food. People in droves have started walking back to their homes in villages. From yesterday the government has changed the rule for a short duration and to provide these people transportation back home. Unfortunately, the situation at home is also not going to be different. But the migration is more due to the emotional pull. They would prefer to be at home in such a situation.

It is the relentless bombarding of the information, news, tables, charts and graphs that can depress anybody. In today’s time, we don’t even know which of the data, papers reaching you are false. The other day, I received a twenty-page report created by someone from Johns Hopkins Hospital. (It was found to be fake) Some websites are giving yeomen service to us by checking which of such papers are fake. The report gave such a bleak picture that anybody could get depressed.

Why do people go to such extent to spread rumours? Our neighbour went through major surgery. Because of the current condition, her supporting staff is not there to help her. Jaya phones her every day and offers her to cook something for her. Yesterday while talking, she told Jaya not visit her till 3rd April because her astrologer has said to her that starting from 30th March till 3rd April, all the constellations will be in a wrong position. It can be harmful to her health. So be it! (BTW her astrologer is from the WhatsApp University) It is another way of spreading rumours inadvertently, simply because the lady believes in such stuff.

Friends, talk to each other. No situation in this world lasts forever. Good things will be back. There could be a big financial shock until the situation changes. The world is going to take years to come out of this. But there is no fear like dropping of Atom Bomb when large population died in an instant. The war against the scourge will be won at some stage. But it is the economic war that the world should be worried. That time frame could be like that of second world war five to six years, if not longer. All businesses, large, medium and small are going to pass through a churn. But we humans are fighters; we always win in the end. There will be no Superman or Hanuman to help us. It is the massive efforts of the human race, that will take us to a peak of happiness!

Bliss and Joy! 

Life is full of ups and downs, joys, and sorrows. It is natural for us to feel joy when we are at the top of the world. We reach the trough of our feelings when we go through the sad events in life. Does this feeling change with age? Is it different when we are young? Was our thought process different when we were in a busy phase of life? I think that these emotions do not change. What changes is how we express our feelings. Basics remain the same. The expressions are controlled by neurons in our brains.

When we express our joys and sorrows without any hindrance, we may sometimes be called immature. There are certain things that brighten up our moods every time some good thing happens. After summer heat, we suddenly get winds, the sky becomes dark, and rain gods bless us. It is an event that occurs every year and gives you the ultimate feeling when you get drenched in the first shower. The same thing happens every year when the king of fruits, the mango, starts arriving at the market, and finally, we buy our first dozen! I was present in the hospital when my granddaughter Rhea came into this world and gave us the ultimate joy of our life. Of course, we had the same pleasure when our children Sachin and Priya landed on the terra firma! It indicates that there are some pleasant events that keep on happening not every year, but we still love them every time.

Being with nature is a similar thing that gives us the ultimate, any time, every time! Recently, we took a holiday in Karnataka. We visited Mysuru and Madikeri, which is in the hills of Coorg. Mysuru is well known for its historical places, monuments, and absolute cleanliness. It has tree-lined streets and vast gardens. But the bliss we felt was different when we reach Madikeri. We stayed inside a Club Mahindra resort. In the real sense, we had our rooms inside a jungle. The jungle was, of course, made safe from wildlife, and snakes. In such settings, we get a serene feeling. We are taken over by nature.

The first thing we would get every day was a wake-up call by the chirping birds. The way different birds communicate with each other is fantastic. Why a specific bird is loud on a day, subdued the next day, is not known to us. I could record a wake-up call one morning, and it still brings peace in this world. Listen to the recording I have done.

The jungle where we lived was full of early morning cool breeze, and sometimes even a gust made way for the breeze. The music brought in by the rustling leaves accompanied by the chorus of chirping birds, was the ultimate of all the feelings. The weather was not cold, but a slight chill was always around till we went for breakfast. One day there were some clouds, and somehow there was no wake-up call by the birds! Did it mean that the birds did not wake up as they were not sure if the day had started depending on the intensity of light? Or they also like to sleep a little more cloudy days as we do?

I managed a few phots of the birds but obviously, my lens was not powerful enough.

Both Jaya and I are retired now, but a few days enclosed by nature was like an elixir for us. During our stay, we moved around on the paths inside. The variety of trees was breathtaking. The season was such that there were not many flowers, but there were some that grew away from the trails. These days I claim that I am a photographer! I have bought a biggish lens. I met a young person from Thane; we discussed taking photographs of trees, bushes, and some birds. Birds were always elusive. The next day I met his wife too! She said, “Uncle, my husband told me that you are into photography.” I told her, “Come on, finally, I was able to impress others; I am a showoff!” I said, “ I do dabble in photography, but I am very much an amateur!” Here are some photos which I could manage. One thing I have realised is that to have one good picture, I need to take many. In the end, I select which ones I can display.

On the resort, there were two swimming pools. One of them was well hidden from the public view. While walking on the trail near this pool, we could listen to typical water flow sound. Initially, I was not aware that there was a swimming pool, so I thought that it was a natural water stream that was flowing. I felt as if there is a burbling stream. Once I sat there listening to the water music, babbles and rappels, for half an hour!

Ultimately, what brings us joy? What brings us happiness?

First and foremost is that you should want to be happy. The neural circuit of some of us built in such a way that some of us don’t enjoy anything. Why does nature bring out the best out of us? Is nature the only thing that brings out the best out of us? Are other things in life not important; is our health equally important? Is financial stability not necessary?

I feel that all other things being okay, nature is the best therapy to bring joy out of us. If we give the scores out of ten, nature could get a score of 10/10!

Friends, my general theory of going back to nature, comes into the picture. But does this thought process happen when we become senior citizens? Certain things give us joy right through our life. Birth of our children or grandchildren, India winning a world cup, career achievements are not regular events. But first rain of the season, birds chirping, birds flying to gather their food and water are everyday events. We get the feeling of joy every time we see or feel them. You don’t have to travel hundreds of miles to be with nature. You can wakeup to Kuhu Kuhu of Cukoo in summer. You can set your clock to flying in and out of the birds. But we should not forget that theirs is a Solar calendar, and flight timings are dependent on the sunlight, the temperature at the predetermined times.

One experience I must share with you. I went to the spa at the resort. I walked through the woods for about fifteen minutes to reach the Spa. After body massage for about 45 minutes, there was head massage therapy using dripping warm water. All the atmosphere relaxed me so much that I dozed off for ten minutes on the massage table!

 

Aarey, Quo Vadis?

Quo Vadis?  It is a Latin phrase meaning “Where are you going?”, or more precisely, “Whither goest thou?” First, let me get the facts aside, then we will discuss it. Every metro system needs a yard to keep the trains, do repairs and maintenance, and to clean, etc. It is a technical requirement of the system. Currently, there is a significant dispute created by the so-called environmentalists! Aarey Colony has 450 thousand trees in the overall area, out of which the 2600 trees need to be cut for constructing the facility. I am not an expert in this field, but it is elementary maths that a minuscule number of trees are required to be chopped. Let the experts claim whatever they want to say, but it is no disaster.

If we consider the experts first, there will be some who are really knowledgeable persons; some have pseudo-knowledge. When there is chaos, politicians and celebrities are bound to jump in, especially as the Maharashtra state elections are only two weeks away. Politicians are supposed to be experts in every field anyway! Out of this group of people, some stay in new condos, and others live in older condos. My question to those living new condos is, was no tree cut to build the new condos? Did you complain to authorities and go to the courts to stop such projects? I am confident that in all new condos built surrounding the area of Aarey, more than 2600 trees must have been cut! Where were you, sir, at that time?

When a project of the importance like Metro, where costs are very high, every delay increases the cost of the project. All such projects are conceptualised by a large team of experts from every field, including environment experts. I am aware of the concept as it has been explained to me by my classmate Shashikant Limaye, who is a Mentor for the Pune Metro project. Then there are the green tribunal and the forest department. Permissions of all concerned departments are taken before environmental actions are taken! The beauty of the democracy (or the worst part?) is that in spite of following all the procedures, protestors can still go to court. These people went to various courts, and Mumbai high court finally gave a blanket clearance for cutting the trees.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/aarey-forest-tree-cut-felling-metro-bombay-high-court-pils-protest-1606393-2019-10-04

While providing this verdict, Bombay High Court also imposed a fine of Rs 50,000/ on Shiv Sena Corporator Yashwant Jadhav, who had filed a plea against the tree authority’s approval to cut over 2,500 trees for the Metro project. Jadhav was a member of the tree authority.

Various questions came to my mind while reading about this episode! Do these “knowledgeable” people collectively understand the whole affair better? Some of them are experts in environmental aspects, but do they have the grasp of the overall project? The question is not only about the grasping, but there are many other aspects which you should know. I am giving the information provided by the BMC in the court about Carbon footprint.

Terracon aims to be India’s leading ecological solutions & natural resource management strategic consultancy firm. Its strengths include its technical knowledge and capabilities in the domain of ecology, botany, agriculture, and environmental science, as well as its deep understanding of today’s sustainability issues and the ability to design forward-thinking sustainability strategies.

http://www.terraconindia.com/

The Terracon report was submitted to the BMC recently. It says, “Each metro trip will result in a reduction of 324 kg of carbon dioxide.

One hundred ninety-seven fully loaded metro trips will suffice to offset the annual increase in carbon emission of 63,953 kg from the removal of 2185 trees, which are proposed to be cut.”

It further states, “The Metro III operations would cover the annual carbon sequestration by 2702 trees within four days of operations and the lifetime carbon sequestration of 2702 trees in 80 days of operations.”

The people protesting against the chopping of trees are aware of these studies as these reports were submitted in the court! That is why my title, “Quo Vadis?” What do you want to achieve by the adamance? As soon as the Mumbai court gave the clearance, within a couple of days, trees must have been cut by the Metro team. Still, the protestors have now gone back to appeal to the Supreme Court. The court case is about the felling of trees not stopping the shed work. Now that most of the trees are chopped, why do you want to continue the fight? The usual issues of, we know the best and the Ego come into play. All government authorities, agencies, Environmental Companies and the whole list of experts are ignorant according to these people.

We are not even discussing the convenience of Mumbai’s travelling people, who have currently no choice but to be in the current train compartments as if they are packed Sardines. There is a proven statistic over the years that ten people die every day in railway accidents due to ever so increasing crowding in Mumbai trains. Three thousand six hundred fifty people dying every year are less important than the twenty-six hundred trees.

Years back, there was a similar issue in Pune about road widening. The Industry doyen S L Kirloskar had asked a simple question, “Are trees for us or we are for trees?”

NalStop1

Pune traffic during rush hours.

A similar problem is lingering Pune about a road on a hill, which will cause a tremendous change in pollution, for 20 years. Environmentalists are creating difficulties one after another. The courts have been very stringent about tree felling activity in general. They ensure that if ten trees are felled, anywhere between 60 to a hundred new ones are planted. Courts also make sure that these agencies ensure and report that at least 90% of the newly planted trees are surviving.  Pune Corporation agreed to plant ten times the number of trees chopped; the “anti-development” people make use of the slow court system to ensure that the project will get delayed as much as is possible. Hundreds of thousands of vehicles that need not come to an area called Nal Stop are forced to come there, causing traffic snarls, jams and massive pollution in that particular area. Only God knows what their agenda is! There are many cities or towns on and in the hills. San Fransisco is the prime example of a major city on the hills.

Such groups exist all over the world. Some are really doing good work but most cause nuisance and create trouble for projects like Metros, which are Carbon “positive.” The human race has created many systems during the last hundred years that have made our lives much more comfortable. But later on, humans understood that during this development phase, some significant mistakes had been made, for example, global warming, plastics, and so on. Governments of the world (except it seems the US Govt) have accepted that there is a problem. Nations are correcting these errors, but the process has just started.

In many cases, solutions are also known. For example, in one-time-use plastic items, large investments have been made; so these investors are naturally going to resist. Even they want to go away from such products; but it will take some time to achieve the goals. Human race especially should know! A human takes nine months to grow in the mother’s womb before it is born. Once the corrective action process takes momentum things will move fast.

These anti-development groups are doing one vital work. They ensure that others do not forget that ecological mistakes need to be corrected as fast as possible. But they should choose the right causes. Mumbai Metro is a Carbon positive project and is going to help millions of people like you and me due to reduced pollution, and ease of travel. Most important is that people in Mumbai can travel in Metro like humans and not cattle!

A few friends were having a cup of tea in Mumbai near Aarey! All were smoking! One of them says while releasing the smoke, “This tree felling is bad, it will add to CO2 in Mumbai!”

Friends, please protest, reminding everybody of the ecological devastation of the earth is definitely essential; but be practical and become “a support group for Ecologically friendly and positive projects”! Get blessings of Mumbai train travellers and not their curses!

The grass is greener on the other side!

Yesterday we met one of Priya’s neighbour, while we were going out. Nikhil said, “Long time, no see!” The neighbour said that he had been very busy with work and has a busy time until it starts snowing. He has one of his businesses of cleaning sprinkling systems. I wondered what that business is. He said, “Before it starts snowing, we go to our clients. Empty the sprinkler system, then blow compressed air through the system. By doing this, all the water in the sprinkler is thrown out of the system. Cleaning is done to avoid ice formation inside the system when the system is not used in winter.” In summer, the user can start using the system again.

It put my mind working and I thought how much unaware we are of many things done in the world. Nikhil later told me that even the regular water system also needs to be checked sometimes if the flow is irregular around autumn time. The system is bled during this period to remove airlocks if any! This checking cannot be obviously done once the winter sets in.

There could be many such preventive maintenance requirements which we don’t know. Or we know, but we don’t do it. In our homes, washbasins sometimes tend to get choked after usage. There is one small device readily available in the market. How many of us keep it at home?

The next image shows a filter in the system. How many of us get it regularly cleaned? By doing self-help stuff, we can avoid emergencies.

We are unaware of so many basic things that we run into unnecessary arguments sometimes. In many cities in India, we face water shortage due to deficient rains the previous year. Water supply to homes is available for a specific period during the day. In a society where I have a condo, there was a big fight going on WhatsApp about irresponsible behaviour of people. It was said that some people just don’t care and don’t bother about checking if all taps are closed before they leave for office. When the water supply is restarted in the evening, the water is wasted as it runs; people come home late from office. I explained to them that when the water system goes fully dry, the washers and springs in flush tanks tend to get stuck or damaged. When the water is restarted, the water can continue to flow without being used unless we act on it. Then the management team understood the problem and kept water supply on round the clock, but during certain times it was kept at low pressure.

I have noticed in Montreal, the sincerity of workers. There is work going on on our road. Just now (7 am) the temperature is 2 deg C, but all of the team started work at 7 am sharp. I have not seen this happen in many of our factories also, the so-called organised sector.

Some factors affecting lives in different countries don’t even come to our mind. I know of a friend who removed the snow from his car and was about to leave. But he received a work-related call and was talking on the phone almost for an hour. He came out the second time (it was snowing all the time), removed the snow again and drove away for work. People need to keep their car running for 20 to 30 minutes in winter before moving out, especially if parked in the uncovered area.

We see and enjoy the lovely photographs from Christmas time from many places with white snow in the background. It looks beautiful in the photos, but the snow cleaning in your territory is your job. I saw some homes having staircases from outside to reach home. During the winter, the snow gathered on the stairs is your responsibility; every day you are required to clean the snow accumulated on the stairs. If someone slips because of lack of cleaning, you can be sued!

wb3

I used to live in Model Colony in Pune, during my younger days;  when it rained heavily, a lot of water used to flow down from the hills to our area and flood it. When the rain intensity would reduce, I would go out with my son Sachin, who was 5 or 6 years old then. We would simply clean the leaves that blocked the meshes on the drainage system, and flood would be gone in five minutes. I did it a couple of years back near my office building too with the same results. Honestly, it is no big deal. But the subject came to mind due to water logging issues in Pune recently. Nowadays the drain meshes are blocked by tree leaves as well as by plastic bags. Why can’t some volunteers do this in each area once the rain intensity reduces? I am not talking about the water deluge event that occurred due to cloud burst!

I understand that because of strict traffic rules, hefty fines and their implementation, traffic is generally well-disciplined in western countries. But I have not heard of such laws for pedestrians. But why are pedestrians equally disciplined in these countries? I rarely see them breaking the rules. My granddaughter Rhea (she will be six years old soon) asked me once why don’t we follow these rules in Pune? I had no answer!

Another issue we are not aware of about winter in these areas is clothing. We know that the layers help, thermals are essential. But I was not aware that the snow jackets are designed for different temperatures. In Montreal, temperatures can go down to -35 deg C! So, jackets also have their ranges. In most cases, those designed for – 15 to – 20 deg C are enough. But when the temperature falls further, you need to wear even better ones designed for the temperature of -40 deg C!

I have understood somethings about heating systems at home here. Some are gas-based, some use water heating, and others make use of Electricity for heating. I am, of course, not aware of more details of these systems. I am not likely to understand practical difficulties in these systems as I will not be here in winter.

Each zone, each region, even in one country like India, has very different weather. So, requirements, handling of the systems will be very different from area to area. Cold countries handle temperatures from 35/40 deg C to -35 deg C. Still they manage their systems well. I will tell you about the road repairs in Montreal. It can be handled only for six to seven months in any year before the snow! But this needs a lot of planning, preparation and readiness to handle work when the slot becomes available for repairs. (Potholes in Pune and Mumbai, Delhi?)

I will share one crucial knowledge I acquired. When any area is dug for repairs of utilities like electrical cables, water lines, gas pipes the agencies have the maps ready. They dig the area using normal excavator up to a safe depth. After that, Vacuum excavators are used. They loosen the soil in that area and suck it! So, the chances of damaging any of the pipes or cables become minimal. I do not see Vacuum Excavators being used in India. Maybe they are being used, but I have not seen them!

Friends life in any part of the world has its own issues. In India, we are lucky that for most of the year we have sunlight! Weather for the most times cannot be described as harsh. But what we lack is design, planning, execution and WILL!

What will change/not change in the next ten years?

During the last twentyfive years, things have changed so much in the world technologically and otherwise that people find it difficult to predict what will happen in the next five or ten years! Change has happened in India and world over. It has changed many business processes. It has made life both easy and challengingThe methods of travelling may vary, but people would still want to meet face to face!  

What else will not change? Customers will keep on asking for more discount or lesser price. This aspect of the business is never going to change. People will expect better and better service from companies; BOTS may reduce human resources, but the quality of service ultimately has to be managed by humans.  

What is definitely not going to change is people and their behaviourPeople are good and evil, smart and dumb! People are generous, and they are greedy! But the fundamental nature of people will never change. The institutions like marriage may change; livein relationships may increase, but people are not going to stop giving birth to kidsThe legal status of progeny may be different, but this is like the cycles in the fashion industry.  Ten thousand years back, people lived in communes! Institution of marriage did not exist. The same may happen in the world. The % of such couples may increase in the world!  

What will happen to institutions like governments and nations? In place of globalisation, there could be policy reversal and countries will try and safeguard their interests. But will the United Nations change? No, it will not! The concept of the United Nations was started with Noble thoughts, but when it comes to self interests, especially of large and powerful nations, things will changeA classic example of such things is the sudden reversal by the US about their commitments to environmental change movement.  

Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg is one change that is likely to happen. It is about young people coming forward to take charge of the future. The classic case of young people not taking part in the referendum is Brexit. Young people in Britain took this referendum casually, and many of them did not take part in it. The end result is there for us to see. Young people not taking part in matters that may affect their future is a common thing the world over. Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg are the exceptions to the rule. I will be most happy if I am proven wrong. Greta Thunberg, all of 16 years of age, gave an emotional speech in the United Nations about the environment. She also led the Environmental march in Montreal, Canada. The movement was attended by fifty thousand people. So, there is a hope that people to whom this is going to matter will get more involved. 

Another thing that is not going to change is natural disasters. Natural disasters have been part of our life all the time. The population of the world has increased tremendouslyA classic example of natural disasters causing huge damages and deaths is the Tsunami in the year 2004. After an earthquake measuring nineplus near Indonesia, resulted in Tsunami, which hit India’s east coast. This coast is not prone to be hit by Tsunamis, but that is nature. More than one hundred thousand people were killed, and property worth the US $ 15 billions were damaged.  

Another natural disaster hit Mumbai on 26th July 2005. On that day, within twentyfour hours, it rained 944 mmthe previous record was 575 mm in twenty-four hrs in 1974 in Mumbai. In 2005 rain deluge, almost 1100 people died in Mumbai floods. There is a tendency to blame the builders, corporation, and people in general who are not bothered about environmental damage. The quantity of rain on 26th July would have caused floods in any city in the world. No cities in the world are designed to handle such deluge. 

A rain-related disaster happened in Pune recently; in four hours it rained 135 mmThe same standard blame game is on. Though part of it is correct, there is an important reason.  

WhatsApp Image 2019-09-27 at 10.03.57 (2)

The image above (shared by my friend Prakash)  shows the old waterways in Pune. These were designed 250 years back. The waterways always have a specifically designed capacity to handle water flow. But the deluge for four hours on 25th September was too much for these waterways. All these years at least I have never heard of so much damage due to rains in Pune. I will share one example. One of the waterways passes behind the compound wall of a housing society. The waterway started overflowing, and water pressure forced the compound wall to come down like a pack of cards. There were more than 400 cars in society, mostly in the basement parking. The basement was filled with water, and all the cars were sunk. All these new buildings and societies have come up in the last 30 to 40 years. Waterways were there even during those 30 to 40 years. But fortunately, there was no deluge during that period.  These unprecedented rains were destiny and increased population added to the woes of people. The area was sparsely populated before all the houses came up to accommodate the increased population, not necessarily breaking the rules.  

The cheats and corrupts will always be there, that will never change. Their method would change, and there is a chance that the amounts involved would be massive. Frauds would be done mostly using technology and computers. One person was in charge of computer systems in a large bank. He came up with a brilliant idea. In one of the systems, the amount was always rounded off to close the transaction. The gentleman came up with a neat idea. He opened an account discreetly, for which only he had access. From each transaction, the rounded off amount would be transferred to this account. There were thousands of such transactions. At the end of a couple of years, he emptied this particular account. He had become a millionaire!  

Humans, their nature and greed, nature and its fury are some of the things that are never going to change. Society rules might change, but basic societies will never change; that is because humans are never going to change.  One thing that looks like changing is that younger people are taking responsibilities and will push the authorities for a better future.

Montreal Musings- day to day life II!

Since I am in Montreal for a homestay, (with my daughter) visiting different places is more incidental than specific. I am trying to see how people, live, behave in their day to day lives is more important to me. Human beings are the same everywhere, with some natural local and regional variances. To me, it is the interactions and actions that are more important.

One very interesting facility was observed in a housing society made up of condos. They have kept an enclosed, empty plot. During non-winter times, these plots are offered to residents for use. The plots are of two-three sizes. Users can plant vegetables, flowers, or whatever they want: the seeds and technical help is offered by a gardener available. The gardener helps and guides you as per your needs. For this period you can grow what you want and enjoy! What a novel idea!

The buses have the swiping card system or for, one-time use, you have to put coins to get the tickets. Once a senior citizen was trying to swipe the card, it would not work. It was 2nd of the month. The driver asked the gentlemen, “Have you recharged the card yesterday on the 1st”? The gentleman had forgotten and said so. He said, “Get it done later today.” Subject over. Empathy?

Many of you must have travelled to different nations and have seen the world. But to me travelling in a city in local transport is the best way of knowing small unique things. While travelling by Metro yesterday, we were in the compartment next to the driver. I saw a guy entering the train with his bicycle. I was surprised. Nikhil told me, “Baba, it is allowed only during specific timings and only in that compartment where they had provided space for a few cycles. The cycle owner is supposed to stand near the cycle and not take a seat; even if the train is empty.”

Yesterday, we went to visit the Botanical Garden. The garden is just next to the Olympic Stadium in Montreal; it was a nostalgic visit for Jaya and me. We were in Montreal in 1981 for two days. We had explicitly travelled to see the then-new Olympic stadium, which held the 1976 Olympics. If you folks remember, that Olympic was famous for the super performance of Nadia Comaneci from Rumania. For the first time in history, she had scored a perfect score of 10.00! I felt a little sad that in certain areas the maintenance was poor!

Nadia Comaneci! Then and now!

Butchart Gardens, Victoria, Canada!

 

It seems that Canada is way ahead of many countries in having beautiful gardens. I am sharing some photos for you. We had visited Victoria, B.C., on the west coast of Canada in 2016, as a part of Alaska Cruise. We had visited Butchart Garden then. That is the one the best Gardens, if not the best; we have ever visited. I am sharing some of the Butchart Garden photos too!

Another observation was that in Montreal, I met many young Indian Diaspora during the Ganapati festival. I found that these people are working in different fields. One chap was working in Atlas Copco. A couple of guys were artists, not animation experts. A few were working in finance, and a fellow was working on the logistics side of an engineering Company. I noted that one chap was working in Air Canada. Out of the people I met, only about 25 % were working in IT! It was a pleasant surprise for me.

I have enjoyed the change of colour of leaves in Boston and Maine area; and also is the Seattle area. There the colour changes from green to yellowish to orange. Whereas in Canada, the Maple trees are predominant. The Maple leaf changes its colour to red; hence, the Canadian flag also has a Maple leaf on it.

nadia3

I had never bothered to check why this happens. There is a simple explanation though the science behind it is complicated. During summer and autumn, the leaves use Sunlight and Carbon dioxide the make their food. They also get water through roots. They create oxygen and food. The process is helped by green Chlorophyll which masks the other colours which are already present on the leaves and are seen when Chlorophyll goes away.

Winter days are short and dry; many plants stop making food in the fall. The chlorophyll goes away. Then we can see orange and yellow colours. These colours were in the leaves all summer, but the green covered them up. The trees survive on the food they have made during summer and autumn.

Enough of science. When I go out every day, I observe the changes in the leaves and their colours. Some become red earlier; some take more time. There are many shades of red that we can see. Not all the maple leaves become blood red, as we see in the photographs. One question always comes to my mind. Why do humans not follow the same discipline that is followed by nature?

Another question always comes to mind about assimilation. How do “outsiders” assimilate with the culture of the country that they have adopted? In my opinion, this should be easy for people from India because we have different cultures in each state; we have different languages spoken in each state. Many people in North India have never seen the sea in their life, though India has a long shoreline. I saw snow for the first time at the age of 35, when I had travelled to Germany in winter. But we have regions in India where there is regular snowfall in winter. But ultimately it comes to your openness, your adaptability, your will to accept change. I see people of different colour and creed, religions and languages in Canada. I am sure that those who assimilate live a comfortable life.

Still, a month and a half more to go to Canada and I am sure I will have more tidbits later. I have read that average Montreal temperatures in October are 15 deg high to 5 deg low, sometimes even going to zero! So those are going to be different days in terms of weather. I never lived in these temperatures. About that, I will write later when I shiver through those temps!

À bientôt, jusqu'à mes prochaines friandises!

Quackery! The Modern-Day Phenomenon?

 

Quack2Quackery is a dishonest practice and claims to have specialised knowledge and skill in some field, typically medicine. The World is full quacks for a long time. Along with quackery, we should also combine the word sucker- sucker is a gullible or easily deceived person. Quacks and Suckers are joined at birth. Because there are suckers, we have quacks.

Till about a hundred years back, medicine was not developed by today’s standards. The doctors in those days would merely manage patients rather than curing them. Hence, the doctors were not considered as deities, as some of them appear today. Yes! With modern drugs, diagnostics methods and improved surgical procedures and knowledge, good doctors are like gods, who bring patients back from jaws of death.

Ok, I am not saying that this pathy or that pathy is good! I am talking of many individuals, who though not doctors, claim to cure you of cancer, of diabetes; some promise pregnancy to women who find it a complicated and unachievable process. The latest fad is the dieting industry. Somehow, I am not comfortable with the dieticians who are not doctors by basic training. Similarly, we see trainers in the gym, who have a bit of knowledge about gyming but should not be guiding people with medical issues.

Why do people fall prey to such people and practises? There are several reasons. Some of the quacks are marketing experts with excellent body language and oratory. On top of this, they glibly say things or don’t say things. Consider the case of Mukesh Ambani’s son. He had a significant health issue, and his weight was uncontrollable. Some time back, he moved to the USA for a couple of years, and a whole team of doctors guided the dieticians, trainers and the team to help Junior Ambani to come back to normal. He has come back to normal, but to me, the main reason for success was Ambani’s will and determination. There has been a rumour going on for some time on WhatsApp that he was cured by a celebrity dietician from Mumbai. The dietician has never denied the story! Why would she?

The same dietician offers annual wellness group retreat in Darjeeling. It is a seven-day program of which two are travel days; for balance five days the charges are Rs.2.1/ lacs. You need to reach Bagdogra on your own. As the saying goes, a sucker is born every minute. I am okay even if she charges Rs 5/ lacs for the program but what wellness will you get in five days. It’s a holiday under the garb of a wellness program.

In the dead of winter in Pune when the temperature is around 6 /7 deg C, a Yoga Guru used to have free Yoga camp. People would go there in hordes and attend it for ¾ days. I am okay with this because this Guru never claimed anything, did not charge any money. He was encouraging people to follow Yoga. I checked with a few friends who used to attend the program; they never did Yoga ever through the year! But at least they were not cheated.

Then there is a story of asthma cure in Hyderabad. A family from Hyderabad many years back declared that the GOD had told them that they should offer a particular asthma cure to the general public, free. The family supposedly had a secret potion, a paste, which they would put in the mouth of a tiny fish. The fish was then pushed through the patient’s throat. Again, since it was free and there were no side effects, I don’t care. But I met a friend who was singing paeans of the treatment. He said that he had been going for the procedure every year. I asked him, “If the magic cure is supposed to cure asthma, why do you go every year?” He is still upset with me.

When people have some severe body condition, the quacks try to take disadvantage of the situation. They play with their emotions. They make them follow the incorrect path. The person with difficulties falls prey to glib talks and methods. We read stories of women who go in desperation to some Gurus, as these women cannot get pregnant. The Gurus take advantage and convince the women to sleep with them or sometimes forcefully sleep with them. If the Gurus are lucky, then the women become pregnant. The Gurus become more famous and get more and more women who take “treatment’ from them. Women, obviously, don’t share the rape part with anybody!

Sometimes, some of the quacks advertise miracle treatment on cancer, hypertension, and what have you! Even modern allopathy treatments are not able to cure many of the ailments. But these quacks have a cure for everything. But the suckers go to these quacks, try out stuff for a year or maybe two with no results. In the meanwhile, the body condition has worsened. Some people die! There was a news item of a patient who was taking treatment on piles, from a “doctor”. After a year he got so fed up, the patient went to the “clinic” and stabbed the doctor to death!

Today the medical skills available are unbelievable. After knee replacement, the patient is asked to try walking a few steps within 24 hours. After bypass surgery, the patient is asked to walk on a staircase in a matter of days. When such skills and expertise is available, why people go to quacks? When a doctor suggests to you, about diet, I am okay with it because she will know the effects as well as side effects of the same. But the problem is that some non-doctors make tall claims. These claims are like Ponzi schemes in the finance market. Double your money in next six months. The quacks talk of curing Cancers and Aids; they speak of patients who reduced 50 kgs in two months, and so on. Now there are bariatric surgeries available which help in lowering weights drastically. Why not try these instead of going for a Ponzi scheme? I have no issues about people offering pricey plans at resorts. There are suckers, so why not? But from what I understand, their treatments are not risky, and they do not make tall claims.

I will share an exciting story; not all mass cure schemes are frauds. Near Rishikesh, in Northern India, a “Doctor” was running a mass clinic where thousands of people went every day to be treated for Epilepsy. He would charge them nominally. A team was sent by the Indian Medical Association to check the claims made by the “Doctor”. The Doctor met the team, and he explained his working.

First and foremost, he was a medical doctor who was trained at a renowned Institute in India. He realised that not all epilepsy patients needed modern-day drugs. So he started a drug manufacturing unit. The drugs manufactured were from the era of 1950-60. These drugs had come out of patent issues. He gave these drugs to all the patients. Around 60 % of patients got cured with these drugs. Placebos cure ten to fifteen % of patients, is a proven fact. So at least 70% of his patients got cured. According to me this a good record when we consider hundreds of patients, he was checking every day!

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Friends, by all means, try alternate methods of cure! Homoeopathy, Ayurved do cure various ailments but remember, they are no cure-alls. But Allopathy has the maximum chance of curing complicated diseases. So, don’t play around when you have severe health conditions to handle. For Jaundice, there is only Ayurvedic cure, so similarly, Allopathy is the treatment of severe diseases. Don’t experiment! Go to dieticians for weight control by all means. But if you weigh 124 Kgs, get yourself treated under medical guidance. One can always try alternative medicine along with the primary treatment! But don’t get driven by Chelation treatment for heart conditions, Magnetic Band treatment for joint issues. These are unproven, and the chances are that these clinics are run by people who are not supposed to handle such difficult cases! One more important thing, to avoid minor side effects of Allopathic drugs, don’t go to quacks. You will be worse off!