Why do I blog?

 

blogI will tell you why I am writing this blog. But let me start with what is a blog. A blog is a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style. 

The subject of my blog writing came up recently when we batchmates from COEP met for lunch. The current blog is my 474th blog. A friend asked me, “Hey, Pramod! What is your target for writing blogs? 500 or a thousand or what?” I told him, “Look, I never started writing the blogs with any thoughts. I started fiddling around in 2011. In the first 3 to 4 years, maybe I wrote about fifty blogs. Later on, when I was recuperating from my cancer treatment in 2014, I had time on hand. I was in retrospection mode. I realised that I had started enjoying blog writing. I have written blogs to put together thoughts that come to mind. The idea was never to have any target for the number of blogs I wanted to write. At that time, I would have been most pleased if I had reached a figure of 150.

I started getting more and more time as my professional work tapered off, and now that I am almost retired, blogging keeps me busy and interested. I discuss a subject with someone, I read somewhere, and there you are. I realised that there is a blog lurking behind any event that is happening in our beautiful, and sometimes not so beautiful world. Sometimes, it is personal; at other times, it is general. Sometimes it is about something of national or global nature. But there is no dearth of subjects. I am also lucky that I had Mr Mayekar as my English teacher in school. I have done my education till 11th grade in Marathi medium, but I started learning English from 7th grade. Mayekar sir’s encouragement made me comfortable in English. I am sure he would have been happy to read a few of my blogs. He would always say, “Written words become interesting if you put your heart in your writing.” Blogging is now my passion.  

Now the title, why do I blog? There is a reason why this question has come up. A friend from our WhatsApp group seems to be having some issues with my sharing of the blog on the group. Honestly, I do not have any problem with this, but since he is my batchmate, and known to me, I am a little worried about his questioning. I get a feeling that he has some health issues which creates his reactions that look awkward on the group. Now, some other friends from the group have been writing comments on my writing, but I feel that this friend needs to understand what a blog is and why people write a blog.  

First and foremostblogs are written for commercial purpose to make money, but many people, like me, blog for non-monetary considerations. There are many such reasons. One of them is passion. In India, the blogging culture is yet to spread as it has spread in western countries.  

At its core, writing is a form of communication. It is about recording thoughts on paper and making others think, argue and sometimes even agree with the writing. To that end, writing (just like every other form of communication that has ever existed) improves with practice. Blogging will not force you to become a better writer; it’ll just happen as you do it. And becoming a better writer holds significant benefits for the rest of your life—whether you are creating a book, a presentation, a résumé, or an anniversary card for your spouse. 

You’ll become a better thinker. Because the process of writing includes recording thoughts on paper, the blogging process encourages you to stop and think deeper. You will delve deeper into the matters of your life and the worldview that shapes them. Unfortunately, at this point, many will choose not to blog (or write at all) based on the faulty reasoning that they “have nothing to say.” But to that line of thinking, I always respond the same way, maybe you just haven’t discovered yet what you have to say. 

You’ll develop an eye for meaningful things. By necessity, blogging requires a filter. It’s simply not possible to write about every event, every thought, and every happening in your life. Instead, blogging is a never-ending process of choosing to articulate the most meaningful events and the most critical ideas; but this a personal perspectiveThe process of selecting a subject helps you develop an eye for important things. And remember that sometimes the most useful things appear to be most mundane—but you’ll see what I mean once you get started. 

Blog writing is either convergent or divergent. By convergent, it means that the subject is vast to start with, but in the end, the discussion narrows down to a tiny part of the issueBy divergent, it means that one starts with a small event like a sentence we read somewhere, and end up writing about a broad subject. A few times, you know what you are going to write in a particular blog, but many times you start writing, and vistas open up as you write!   

What are the positives of blog writing? It allows one to express the passion for one’s thinking. I have written a few blogs about how I handled my cancer treatment. If these blogs have helped to make a difference in the life of a few people, I will be delighted. My blogs bring me in touch with new people and old friends. Many times, there is an intellectual interaction. I can share my knowledge; I have had all my career in the Automotive field. I can share my experience and explain what is expected in future in the automotive field, with others. I come in touch with like-minded people. Consistent blogging helps me improve my writing skills. An essential aspect of blogging is it improves my knowledge. In my recent blog about article 370, my knowledge on the subject was not much. I researched and understood a lot of things on the subject. 

There are many commercial advantages of blogging like an improved business, networking etc. But for me, it is of no use as I don’t blog for those reasons.  

Last but not least, blogging has now become a passion for me. It is an addiction; it is my alcohol, and it is my cigarette. I never look for any subject or topic for writing a blog. But when I read books, or newspapers something clicks within. When I watch TV, some words or sentences hit me, and my mind starts whirring. It settles down only when I put my thoughts on paper! Somehow, I can find time even during my travels, but work-wise now I am pretty much relaxed. 

My friends, I am not looking for numbers, nor have I any target! I will keep on writing until I enjoy it. Famous cartoonist R K Laxman used to publish a cartoon every day in times of India, “You Said It”! He was once asked, “How can you do this day in and day out for so many years?” He said, “There is no dearth of “cartoons” in this world, so it is quite simple.” In the same vein for me, there are so many things happening the world over; my problem sometimes is that some blogs remain pending for days together, like this blog!  

 

 

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A friend in Need!

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A friend in need is a friend, indeed! If I have friends like you, I don’t need enemies are some of the famous sayings about friends. But you will be surprised to know that in the hierarchy of our life, friends are low down! Don’t be surprised; let me explain. Romantic partners, parents and children come before friends. It is a fact of life.  

Friendships are unique relationships because unlike family relationships, we choose to enter into them. And unlike other voluntary bonds, like marriages and romantic relationships, they lack a formal structure. You wouldn’t go months without speaking to or seeing your significant other (longdistance relationships are rarely successful), but you might go that long without contacting a friend. 

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What are friends for in life? Somebody to talk to, somebody to depend on and somebody to enjoy togetherThe expectations of friends remain throughout life. 

The voluntary nature of friendship makes it subject to life’s whims in a way, a more formal relationship isn’t. In adulthood, as people grow up and go away, friendships are the relationships most likely to take a hit. You’re stuck with your family, and you’ll prioritise your spouse. But where once you could run over to your friend’s house at a moment’s notice and see if he could come out to play badminton, now you have to ask him if he has a couple of hours for a cup of coffee. Life changes, friends get lesser priority. The most important thing about friendship is you can get into and get out of it too! You become friends because you want to become friends. Your family, you cannot choose!  

We start making friends right from our childhood! But at that age, your world is so limited, your friends are chosen from the small group of kids around you where you live, where you go to school or where you are taken to a swimming lesson. If you are lucky, you might keep in touch with them throughout your life. I am fortunate that I am in contact with three of them, on and off! I got in touch with a friend again 45 years after graduation. God is great!  

As you go to high school and college, you become a bit mature and sometimes even wiser. You become more selective about who your friends should be.  

But, in adolescence, people are more mouldableYou will hide your favourite Tshirt at the bottom of the drawer because your friend said that it is not hip enough. The world may never know. By young adulthood, people are usually a little more secure in themselves, more likely to seek out friends who share their values on the important things and yes don’t hide that T-shirt because the friend said so! 

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There is a vast difference in your friends from your school time and your friends from your professional college days. School friends come from a varied background, but those from professional college have more homogeneous intellect. In this phase, our approach becomes more refined, and we make new friendships or continue with old ones based on specific criteria. Yes, you may have learned to smoke and take your alcohol with them. But you also tend to cut off with a few with friends who indulge in too much of binging. In our younger days, Jaya and I were the first to get married in our group, and Sachin was the first kid born in our group. Our priorities naturally started changing, and we ended up getting away from a group of very close friends who indulged in late-night alcoholinduced chats. The status has not much changed because certain closeness snapped during that period.  

In today’s time of WA and FB, we are all lucky to meet old longlost friends. But it so happens that after the first few meetings with school time friends, you realise that you do not have many things common now! But in case of your friends from Professional course, you find common things experienced by all during their careers. When Jaya started meeting her school friends, she was heading Nvidia operations in Pune. These friends wanted to meet for lunch on a particular day. One of them called her at 11 am and asked Jaya to join for lunch. Jaya was in a meeting but took the call as the friend was a dear one. She regretted the invite and told the friend that she would call later. When they met face to face, sometime later, her friends asked Jaya why she did not put in an application for a half a day of leave. Jaya smiled and said, “I did put an application (to herself )  but the leave was not sanctioned!”  

Friendships continue for people who attend colleges, but those who don’t go college have other responsibilities to tackle and are less available. The friendship saga continues till you complete education, but the scenario changes as people start moving out to different cities, states and nations for their jobs. Even if the friends are in the same townthe meeting of friends becomes difficult as time is at a premium. Weekends automatically become busy for day to day chores, which could not be handled during the week.  

When you get married, the friends group is a significant group during the festivities. But this closeness tapers off very fast after marriage; many don’t know what hit them. Family and spouse take precedence over everything else.  

As people enter middle age, they tend to have more demands on their time, many of them more pressing than friendship. After all, it’s easier to put off catching up with a friend than it is to skip your kid’s play or an important business trip. The concept of people’s expectations for friendship is always in tension with the reality of their lives. 

The time is spentmainly, into jobs and families. Not everyone gets married or has kids, of course, but even those who stay single are likely to see their friendships affected by others’ couplings. It is funny that people do not realise that the wedding is the last real get-together with friends. After that, time available goes down the hill 

As people move through life, they make and keep friends in different ways. Some are independent; they make friends wherever they go and may have more friendly acquaintances than deep friendships. Others are discerning, meaning they have a few best friends they stay close with over the years, but the deep investment means that the loss of one of those friends would be devastating. The most flexible are the acquisitive—people who stay in touch with old friends but continue to make new ones as they move through the world. 

That my friends is life, but for my generation, it is a bit too late to make any changesWe can always look back and see how we took the journey of friendship throughout our life! Just pick up the phone and call that friend whom you have not contacted for a long, long time!  

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While we were in hostels, there was a word मिठी! Friends would hug and say this word, which means the Hug! So, a BIIIIIIIG मिठी to all my friends!  

What are friends for in life? I have already said this above – Somebody to talk to, somebody to depend on and somebody to enjoy together. Let me add something. Yes, somebody to shed tear on his or her shoulder when needed!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Musings COEP days! Friendship special!

I published my blog about Kleptomaniacs yesterday morning. 

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/08/06/are-we-a-nation-of-petty-people/ 

A dear friend called me to discuss the same. He remembered our COEP days, and it took me to good old days in COEP. He had called me to share a story about another friend who was a Kleptomaniac in those days. But I said, “Dost, he may be still be continuing with the same trait.” Kleptomania is a mental sickness, but the story I got from him gave me firsthand information about how people’s mind works. Our friend used to pinch anything from the shops. Two of them used to argue, but the justification given by our pinching friend was, “The shopkeepers make so much money, so how does it matter if some items are brought from these shops without payment.” Wow! Great argument. My friend argued that the shopkeeper was working for the betterment of his family and not for others. But this friend continued to steal.  Some photos from those days. First one is a few years after college!

The story took me back to remind me of how we lived and enjoyed in those days. There were many characters around, some teachers, some staff members, and other students. There was one girl in Jaya’s class. She lived in hostels, so Jaya did not know all about her. But whenever they went to a restaurant for a cup of Coffee or Tea, this lady would pinch spoons, forks and sometimes glasses! I am not sure what her level of competence was, but she would also splash ink on shirts of classmates, sitting in her front of her. She would do it with poker face while the class was going on!  

The other day, while doing spring cleaning, I found a copy of the thesis I had submitted for my Master’s Degree. My guide, Dr Satyanaryan, had threatened me in the good sense that he would throw me out of the Metallurgy department if I did not complete my Master’s Degree in stipulated two years. Three to five years was the norm to complete the degree. I was required to interact with the outside world during the projectIt started with collecting a princely sum of Rs.3000/ to buy Aluminium Bronze rods from a company called Indoswe. Lengthy government procedure would have delayed my project. As per the guidance of Satyanarayan Sir, I raised the massive sum of Rs 3000/ and bought the material. The money was reimbursed later. The interaction got me to meet Mr Nande, the company director. He offered to employ me at a very high salary of Rs 700/ after the project. I worked with them for four years.  

The project took me the Sanghavi Metals, near Nava Pul and ARDE at Pashan. At Sanghavi, I got the rods rolled, thanks to their works manager Mr Dharia. I would work there in the second shift for about ten days. At ARDE, Mr Murthy helped to forge the bronze rodsIt was a tough call to get permission from the Government Defense organisation; all credit was to Mr Murthy. The bronze was heat-treated after rolling and forging, I was to take photographs of the changes in Microstructure. I used to go to college for this work at 7.15 am, but Dr Satyanaryan and the technician Mr Vernekar would reach there before I arrived. Such was their enthusiasm.  

During my Master’s degree, I was close to Prof Chopade, who was a very knowledgeable and sharp person. Later, in his career, he joined an industrial group as a director. He had an amusing way of expressing and was master of Pun. One day, he said, “Panya let us do some Metallurgy!” I was wondering what he was saying. I started walking with him. He took me to the canteen for a cup of tea! He further said, “I have Tas or Tras after half an hour!” My question mark was solved by him with an explanation, “In Marathi Tas is period, but Tras (trouble) is for me as well as to the students! He, unfortunately, died very early.  

We had Hemya Nerurkar in our class. During our “educational” tour, he and other friends like Narya Vohra would always look for the watering holes, looking for dry martini! Hemya is still fun to be with and was a smart guy since college daysI am sure he has continued his love affair with the dry martiniwhile he was busy in his career as Managing Director of Tata Steel! 

The tour brought out the real character of friends. Balya Palande, Anya Bhide and Jadu Yeravadekar would always look for their favourite PAN (betel leaf) in every city we visited. Another friend was jokingly threatened by others that they would dump him in Sundarbun in Bengal as he was and continues to be a bore! He cancelled his participation in the tour, out of fear!  

Those were the days! We had a friend Balu Kale. Unfortunately, he died in the late 70s of the last century. In hostels, smoking was fashionable! Lighters were not in vogue in those days! People would go looking around for matches or “Current” was the word more commonly used. Not Balu! He would go around with a matchbox and ask if anybody had cigarettes!  

I remember one funny incident. All the hostelites would look for some interaction with girls. Near the hostel, there was one stall selling grapes. A couple of nice girls ran the shop. Many guys would take a stroll near the shop and tell cooked up stories about their interaction with the girls. Two docile friends also attempted to show off about their dialogue with the ladies. But a hilarious story started making rounds of their valiant efforts. Our friends made their firstround independently but did not dare to ask the girls their names. So they went together, in support of each other. They reached the shop, waited for a customer to end his transaction, and then in unison asked the ladies, “Could you please tell us our names?”  After saying this, they ran away.  

Some of us were naïve in those days; not much has changed even today for some of us. Jaya and I had decided to get married when I was in the third year, and Jaya was in the second year. In the fourth year, when we were on tour, I had written a letter to Jaya. I put it in an envelope, put Jaya’s name and address, showed it to a very close friend of Jaya and me! Later, this friend told a story to others, “Look at Panya, as usual, he is showing off!” Most got a shock when we got engaged a couple of years later!  

I have not mentioned my friends name above, to hide the identity of our Kleptomaniac friend! ये दोस्ती हम नही तोडेंगे! Buddy, thank you so much! You took me down the memory lane or expressway, I am not really sure!  

Why not listen to the real song? 

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=ye+dosti+hum+nahi+todenge&view=detail&mid=CECA5E5F426D850360BFCECA5E5F426D850360BF&FORM=VIRE 

 

 

How do you solve the problem like.. Cricket!

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How do you solve the problem like Maria? It is a lovely song from the movie “The Sound of Music.” The nurses from the seminary where Maria lived, were very much confused by young Maria, her behaviour and her persona! But still, they simply adored her! They didn’t know how to handle her. I have the same issue with good old Cricket! In my childhood, I lived very close to Mumbai’s maidans both Cross and Azad Maidan. The Brabourne stadium where the test matches were played in those days, was about two km from my home. Whenever and where ever we went to the grounds, there were teams playing cricket! Even though in those days when the kids were born, during growing up, they were inoculated! But all the kids caught the cricket bug for which no cure has been found. As I grew, I have seen that this bug has spread from Bombay and Chennai to Bangalore, Delhi then Kanpur-Ranchi, VadodaraMysore! It is just spreading without any control! 

In my childhood, there were test matches, Ranaji Trophy matches, and in Bombay Kanga league club cricket matches in Monsoon, on Sundays. One could see Umrigar, Ajit Wadekar, Ramkant Desai et al. playing on these grounds on Sundays. All cricketers were amateurs and used to have a tough time getting off to play matches when selected in Mumbai or India teams. Even in those days, Indian cricketers used to do their stint in county cricket. I remember having heard the tales from Maharashtra batsman Datta Kher about his playing in England. He would stay with his relatives in our condo when he went and arrived back from England. We used to view his cricket kit with open mouth and with awe!  

I remember having bowled to Hoshi Amroliwala in the nets on Cross Maidan. As I grew older, then we started to see new stars, of those days,  like Sunil Gavaskar, Ashok Mankad, Eknath Solkar. In those days there was an opening partner for Gavaskar called Ramesh Nagdev. He used to be a big hitter in the mould of Sachin Tendulkar. India lost his services as he migrated to the US at the age of around 20. Mahesh Khandwala was a fast bowler of those times; somehow, he fizzled out after initial burst.  

Cricket is like a close family member or a friend to many in India. It lives a stead life with sudden brilliance and surprises. When one thinks that there can be no more surprises in Cricket, it pops up something new. You Cricket also have a shady side of yours which disturbed many! You are called “Gentleman’s game” but sometimes you behave in an ungentlemanly manner!

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Cricket has rules and regulations; while understanding these rules, most are perplexed because of the absurdities. When the third umpire system was started on TV, the first victim was Sachin Tendulkar. (I am using the word victim) Sachin completed a run against Pakistan, and while collecting the ball, Shoib Akhtar inadvertently pushed Sachin out of the crease and removed the bails. Sachin was declared out!  

Cricket is the only game in the world in which matches used to be played without time limit. In one such test match in South Africa, England was playing with SA. The game was played over 12 days for nine days and had to be abandoned as a draw as English team had to catch a ship back home!  

For the Indian cricket team, the ‘60s and early ‘70s used to be fire fighting matches with occasional brilliance from an individual. When Gulam Guard got Sobers out caught on 29, it was time to celebrate. Chandu Borde’s 96 and 104 in Delhi against the West Indies were the peak of batsmanship. But then came a guy called Sunil Gavaskar, who changed the thinking in the Indian team and changed the way the world would look at India. Of course, there were occasional and sometimes not so occasional lows when India once got out for 42 in England in 1974. Gavaskar once played brilliant innings of 36 not out in a 60 overs one day match!  

Hey, my friend Cricket! You suddenly provide some pleasant surprises and sometimes you suddenly test the umpires. Don’t forget that these guys are human. You suddenly want them to interpret rule 19 (b) subclause iii! That too in the rush of things when a team is on the verge of winning the world cup! Umpires get confused! Have you forgotten that there are crores of Rupees or Pounds hanging the final outcome?  I am talking of prize money as well as betting money.

The biggest surprise you gave us was when India won the world cup back in 1983! Nobody in their dreams ever thought that India would win it! How many hearts were broken? How many British Pounds were lost? How do you manage to do this, my dear? Till then India winning any match itself was a celebration. India was trying their best to get eliminated and was five wickets down for 15 against Zimbabwe! Kapil played an epic inning of 175 and India won that match. In those days, this match was played in England at such a remote place that there was no TV broadcast. Hence there is no recording of this epic innings!  

You have funny rules is well known, but during 2019 the tie did create significant controversy. But in 2007 T-20 world cup final, India vs Pakistan, we had a similar issue. The match was tied. Do you remember how you settled it in those days? You asked six players from each team to bowl one ball each. Those who hit the stumps more won the match. We did not crib as we won the Cup. But is it any way to decide on a cricket match? How does this accuracy determine the final winner? But rules are rules, and the rules are known to the teams beforehand.  

2019 World Cup crossed all the limits of reason during the final. Who would have thought that the final match would tie and then the Super over would also be a tie? No point in discussing the rules but they are there! But the coincidence of double tie was most unexpected! 

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The most important thing was the way New Zealand captain Williamson showed his maturity and Grace! He never made any statement about luck. He knew at the back of his mind that they were joint winners, but on paper, they were runnerups! How do 30-year-olds become so mature? There must be something special in his genes! Luckily, the Indian team was not in place of New Zealand. In that case, there would have been riots in India, maybe a few suicides and some deaths due to a heart attack!  

The cricketing folklore is full of anecdotes, full of characters, full of excitement and full of boredom! There are only two types of people in this world. They either hate or love it. But you never ignore this strange creature called Cricket! 

I love one anecdote which I want to share with you. Gavaskar was the first Indian Cricketer to look foreigners in their eye. After the 1983 world cup victory, we won two more cups in 1984 and 1985. The cup in 1985 was won in Australia! Gavaskar was the captain of the team and was being interviewed. A foreign reporter asked him, “Mr Gavaskar, you have won three tournaments in the last three years. What do you want to say about this?” Gavaskar, in his typical way, asked him, “ Have you seen the movie Jaws 1, Jaws 2 and so on! Our victories were Fluke1, Fluke 2, Fluke 3! Thank you. Any more questions?” 

 

Our dream of Immortality!

There is a lovely Hindi song, “Tum Jiyo, Hazaro Saal, Saal ke Din ho Pachhas Hazar”!  The song is sung to celebrate a birthday and  means, “My dear, please live for thousand years and let each of the years have fifty thousand days.” It wishes immortality to the blessed soul. When we discuss human life, we always say that our life span is a hundred years! From where this number has come from is difficult to say. But it indicates the wish for immortality or longevity. Immortality is also discussed in mythology! Dronacharya’s son, Ashwathama, is supposedly immortal, and that is later considered as a curse or a punishment.

In our day to day life, there are many examples of mortality. Mortality is not a curse, but it is a fact of life. Dalai Lama had spoken about Shunyata in one of his discourses; it means emptiness. This emptiness means all the objects in the universe have no meaning unless we attach the meaning through our thoughts and beliefs! In the real world, the atoms and molecules exist independent of our mind. But our mind also exists independently, and we feel this when we are angry or happy! Anything that exists physically has a life span or shelf life. The span depends on many variables. But till the beginning of the 20th Century, the lifespan of humans was pretty low. Longevity was a word which came into discussion about a tiny number of people.

Still, the fascination for immortality continues. Why is it so?  We forget that everything has a specific life. With futility, we cling to that toiletry pouch long after it has fallen apart. We visit and revisit the old neighbourhood where we grew up, searching for the remembered grove of trees and the little fence. We want to go back to our roots. We clutch our old photographs. In our churches and mandirs and mosques, we pray to the everlasting and eternal life. In every nook and corner, nature is showing you that nothing lasts, that it is all passing away. All that we see around us, including our bodies, is shifting and evaporating, and one day will be gone. Where are the one billion people who lived and breathed in the year 1800, only two short centuries ago?

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/05/01/another-view-point-the-native-place/

The above link is a blog I had written about native places. We get nostalgic about our good old native place where we spent our childhood. We remember that school where we spent an extended part of life. Some people keep on going to their native place ( गावाकडे or मुलुक ) every few years. They hope that everything has remained in the time frame when they have migrated elsewhere. But when they go there, they find most of the friends have left the place; those still left behind have changed beyond recognition. Their children don’t even know you. That old grocery shop is now converted to a modern-day cell phone shop selling Oppo and Samsung. Every visit, we see that our past memories are now becoming actual memories. Those teachers have died, the priest died 30 years back. There are more wine shops than shops selling those sweets which you enjoyed in childhood. There is a clear sign that things are changing, the old world is dying, withering, replaced by a new one. This change is happening in a short span of about 30/40 years. We don’t accept the changes, but inwardly, we know that the reasons for which we keep on going to the native place do not exist. The other day, I went on a road in Pune, where my grandfather used to live. Though I exactly knew the location where the Wada existed, I could see none of the old signs. Then suddenly I saw a flour mill or chakki from those days, that was still around! The sighting also brought a thought in my mind that in another five or ten years, the chakki will also be gone! Did I accept it? I am not sure. We humans do not accept the adage, “Time and Tide wait for none”!

Despite the preponderance of evidence against it, our culture strives for immortality and youth. We cling to a past like — photographs, memories of our children, old wallets and shoes. But it’s not only about our physical bodies that we want to be ever lasting. We struggle against every change — big and small.

We have seen these changes in real life, but we tend to ignore them until the last possible moment. Kodak and photography were considered synonyms. Till the ‘90s of the last century, other companies were called also-ran. Kodak invented digital photography but never understood its real potential. Well, Kodak does not exist any more. The change took place in front of their eyes in 20 years. Garware Nylons was a leading company, in Pune, and it prospered in front of our eyes. For various reasons, within 15 years of reaching its peak, it closed shop. There were many car manufacturing companies in the early part of the 20th century in the US. Only GM, Ford and Chrysler remained. Even GM and Chrysler were saved by the US government from Bankruptcy a decade ago.

The coast of Pacifica in California is a beautiful place to live. (The photos above)  But the sea erosion is eating away 8 inches of land every year. Those who did not understand the meaning of 8 inches per year are now suffering. In forty years, it meant almost thirty feet of erosion. People in that area have understood the real meaning of mortality!

Human life span is tiny, whereas the life span of the Universe is in terms of millions of years. Hence we hardly visualise any changes happening around us except for some happening in Pacifica. But let us not despair. In the cycle of mortality, some beautiful things and events have a life of a few hours. The night-blooming flower of Cereus or Brahmakamal blooms only once a year and has a life of a couple of hours. But during that night these flowers give us tremendous pleasure.   The other day a friend called to share the information that the plant in his home had 30 flowers in one night. He was really excited.

Why are we looking for immortality? Is it for pleasure? Is it enjoy life for an infinite period? Imagine you in the year 2219. I can not imagine what the world will be. I may be immortal, but my body cells may not be eternal, my muscles may not be immortal, nor may my brain be immortal! Will my contemporaries also be in a similar position? What will we do in those times?  Instead, it might be a good idea not to have immortality and in short span of life, be like Brahmakamal to your friends and near one; be a Brahmakamal those in your ecosystem. There are some great achievers who in the same life span cross the mountains of achievements and some reach the Mount Everest.

The joy of living life is an individual choice! Some are happy with the smallest of achievement and others are not happy even after climbing the Mount Everest! Immortality is not going to give us any special joy. But don’t forget that even the North Start (Dhruv Tara) is not immortal.  After a million years it might disintegrate into atoms and molecules. But one thing is is surely permanent and will always be available; that is God!  He will always be there as a concept and will last forever! Let us not try to imitate Him! We are humans!

Chuck the Screen!

When I was younger, decades back, Screen is what we looked forward to eagerly. The Screen was a tabloid dedicated to Bollywood stuff. Looking at the images of stars in the paper was a treat which we awaited. Naturally, we were keener about photos of the actresses, though Devanand was also a favourite. But this paper was never bought and brought at home in those days for obvious reasons! The publication now exists as a website! 

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Following the societal and technological changes, the meaning of the word screen has also changed. When we talk of the screen today, it is most of the time about cell phone screen and sometimes laptop or TV screen. But in an office scenario, it is mostly laptop and cell phone screen. The proliferation of cell phones in India has happened in the most unexpected way and speed. Now it is almost impossible to find someone who does not use a cell phone. A friend of mine has never used one, but that is another story.  

Remaining away from screen has become a challenge in today’s society. In the office environment, laptop and for some people, cell phone usage is a must. So, in that case, the screen time needed for work cannot be changed. But for some, cell phone usage is not required during work. Once the formal requirement of screen time is fixed, it can be decided how much more time one should spend with the screen. There are many reasons to control this time. Some are obvious reasons, and others are not so obvious. Social scientists say that screen is the latest cigarette! That one should try and remain away from addictive items seems natural. The main reason for this is to retain your focus. We tend to use the cell phone like a cigarette and just pick it up to see that elusive email, or a text or WhatsApp message. We simply don’t know when we start using it, indicating addiction. We need to find out how much non-essential screen time we give to ourselves.  

When we mindlessly pick up that device, we fracture our attention; and some studies say that the time between switching from your laptop and cell phone and back can waste 20 % of your productive time. There may be a lot of dialogue about multitasking, but in real life, there is a wastage of productive time when we are so-called multitasking. In multitasking, it is assumed that we are handling two or more work activities, but when the cell phone screen is not a work activity, then we can imagine the wastage of productive time.  

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There are apps available these days, which track your screen time. Based on the data captured, you can decide how to cut down on screen time. The first and foremost is the notifications settings. Whenever we get a new cell phone, we have default apps. Based on our requirement (and sometimes because someone else said it is good), we install more apps, then more and more apps. Initially, do the audit of the apps you have if you really use them. Uninstall those which you do not need. Some apps may be like your comfort or binge food; delete these apps. As we start using the phone, we see that we start getting a lot of notifications because their default setting is always on. Personally, for me, the calls I receive are critical. Other than the missed call notification, probably my banking app notifications are essential. The important aspect is don’t receive a “ding” with each notification or flashing notification. Keep notifications silent. The correct audit will help and reset will help you in getting the least distracted!  

Track your screen time with the apps. Set yourself realistic goals to reduce usage. Keep track whether you are reducing the usage time. If not, try and analyse why it is not happening? One more thing you can try is, do not let the cell phone become your appendage. What most of us do these days is to carry our phone to bed, dinner table, to the washroom. Where ever we go, we take it as if it is an oxygen cylinder needed for us to breathe. We feel that we may choke if we do not have our cell phone near us. Keep the phone in another room; in the office keep it in your bag if you do not need the phone for work 

In the bedroom, you need to see the time when you get up to go to the washroom. Get yourself a clock and keep your phone in another room. Real phone addiction started with the Blackberry phone with Corporate email application. In those days getting email on the cell phone was a novelty. The honchos would get up at night to do their thing and then keep on going through emails and replying them. Initially, it was fancy to have a Blackberry, but once its novelty wore off, people realised the folly of checking and responding to emails at 3 am!  

To remain away from cell phones, try the detox method which you follow for any addiction. People follow different approaches. For smoking addiction, people don’t smoke at home. Since one is at home for a long time, smoking can be reduced. For the alcohol issue, some have tried a method of taking alcohol only when one travels abroad. It naturally controls alcohol drinking.  

There is one more thing one can try out. Try doing nothing. Doing nothing is not as simple as it sounds or looks. When you do nothing means you don’t do anything. Sit and look at the trees, birds or sky! Look at nature. When you attempt to do nothing, it can become tricky. We are not used to doing nothing. It is possible that we will become jittery and try to look for the cell phone to play around. (That is withdrawal symptom for you!) It is what we are trying NOT to do in the first place. Once you overcome basic inhibitions, you may need to acquire the habit of painting, which you have forgotten. You loved to listen to songs. You went for walks, or you went for a swim. Doing nothing is a starting point of reinventing yourself. Let us not forget that we used to live an active physical life. You were once a voracious reader too 

What is the cell phone for you? Is it your friend or a foe? Do you have a love/hate relationship? Is it more love or hate? What I mean by love is that at any smallest of the opportunity you grab it 

Friends, don’t waste time looking at the screen! During my younger days, looking at the screen was the need of the hour. We could barely see our favourite actress’s photos; watching movies was even rarer! But today’s screens are a sheer waste of time if we use it beyond a particular time The younger generation has more difficulty controlling the screen with hundreds of computer games available.

Lest you have forgotten, trees are still green, birds tweet even today! (The word tweeter has come from this tweet). The sky is still blue, and rain and rainbows are still around. Go ahead and chuck your screen time and have fun! You always did this only 15/20 years backs. I am not the anti screen person. These are technological marvels. But we don’t use them well. We have a WhatsApp group of college mates where we don’t allow forwards. We have so much fun discussing current topics (all non-controversial, of course), e.g. politics/religion and so on are banned. Last several weeks there has been a great discussion going on discussing the World Cup Cricket matches. We got the feel as if we are back to our hostels! There were opinions, suggestions and fights! It was our Adda!

Have fun! Use the technology correctly and enjoy! Don’t become its slave!

 

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Mahesh Bhai!

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Mahesh Kothari was the Chairman and Managing Director of Exedy India Ltd when he died on 25th  January 2017!

I must thank God that Rajendra Shitut (God bless his soul) was my classmate. I came in touch with Ceekay through Rajendra, who used to then work for Ceekay. With Rajendra, I went to Ceekay office at Nariman Point in Mumbai; at first, I met Pradeep Chinai the MD, and we just hit off. (Ceekay later became Exedy India Ltd) Then I met Mahesh Bhai; I did not know how to place Mahesh Bhai as I could see that he was different. We chatted, then he took me out for lunch, he was a little serious by nature, but I don’t know when our relationship changed to friendship and then into the family! I had become Ceekay advisor in 1981 and continued to date.  I was taking my baby steps in professional life, and Mahesh Bhai discretely guided me as if I was his younger brother.

I am so lucky that I knew him when one reads about bad things in this world, I have always wondered that when there are humans like Mahesh Bhai in this world, how the world could go wrong. He was the epitome of clarity of thoughts, softness and purpose in life; he was definitely “Clutch Man of India.” In his way, he has guided many at Aurangabad plant through their career. Desai, Medsing, Malani, Kale, Shekhar, to name a few. Mahesh Bhai had a great ability to get the right people in the right place. Most accompanied him till the end in his life’s journey.

I have seen a few professionals in my life from close, but Mahesh Bhai with his empathy, kindness raced well ahead of others though others may have been equally good technically, business acumen wise and thoroughness. He used to get a bit agitated sometimes, and he could not withstand people who were not clear in their mind. He had a great generosity to accept errors made by others. I was always amazed by his ability to know minutest of the technical details from the factory shop floor. I asked Mahesh Bhai once about this, and he smiled and said, “Pramod, I just remember such details, somehow.”

Maheshbhai would never mince words and always called a spade a spade! Once during a meeting with a senior officer of a large manufacturing unit, we were bombarded by the officer about the poor quality, even before we sat in the chair. The officer continued his diatribe without allowing us to say a word. After things cooled down a bit, I said, “Could you call your person who is handling our product at your end?” The person came and was asked to explain the quality problems of the clutches supplied by us. He said, “The problem is not with their supplies; it is there for the other vendor’s supplies.” The senior officer was ashen-faced and mumbled, “Sorry boss! I did not mean to say this. Would you have a cup of tea?” Maheshbhai got up and said, “Thanks for the offer for tea, we just had it with someone else. Please remember one thing, if you don’t mean to say something, don’t say it!”

Another excellent quality in him was humility. Once he called me early morning and gave me a piece of his mind. The general rule was, when he spoke, you would just listen. At the end of the discussion, I told him, “I will study the issue more and come back to you, but perception on this appears based on insufficient data.” After two hours, he called me again. He said, “Pramod, my apologies! I passed judgment based on insufficient data.” As a CMD he did not have to apologise, but that was Maheshbhai for you!

In another incident, we were making clutches as per customer’s design, but there were severe warranty failures. Customers engineering team would not allow us to change the design. Our efforts to convince the customer were not succeeding. We were a single source. One day in a meeting at the plant, he called me and said, “Pramod, tell that engineer who has come, that we are stopping the manufacture of this item after one week.” With his firm stand, the design was modified in two months, and the issue was resolved.

Till the  5/6 years back, Mahesh Bhai used to visit Pune regularly, and it was always a high point for me as I could spend the whole day with him. We would talk on any subject in this world. His working style was that he would never impose anything on anybody. Work just happened. All people in Tata and Bajaj had great respect for Mahesh Bhai as he would always stick to commitments and was forthright in all his dealings.

I have travelled with him from Pune to Aurangabad many times, and he used to love driving. He would always share with me the driving time. We have had many chat sessions with only two of us, at the guest house. He would share many things, he would explain many things, and for me, they were more of training sessions of life. He would care very much about his family. He was 100% family man. He was always very proud of the way his son, Saurabh, grew and matured into an excellent professional and a human being. Saurabh has also picked up a significant number of helpful things from Mahesh Bhai. Lately, when I asked Maheshbhai about his next visit to his daughter in Singapore, he would smile and say “Yes, we will go shortly”!

Aurangabad was his second home. He was so much involved in work if he needed to visit a vendor quickly, he would hop behind on some one’s bike, if required, and rush to resolve some technical issue. All the people at Aurangabad plant were his family. When someone was travelling to Japan for the first time for work, he would personally make sure that the person had the clothing, suit and vegetarian food if required. He wanted to ensure that nobody ran into unnecessary trouble in a foreign country.

Mahesh’s presence for my family functions was always assumed. He would find time in his busy schedule. He always knew small nuances of so many things, Jaya and I would still be amazed. Mahesh, Nauka and two of us have had a few dinners together, and he was a fun person in a small private group. I last met him in Diwali when Jaya and I went to be with him. In spite of his body not supporting him, he, as usual, had very pointed questions about, work and my health (unfortunately both of us had similar health issues on which we exchanged notes), my children. He asked me when we were leaving and how we were going to Pune. When I told him I am taking eastern free-way via Crawford market, he, of course, knew the more straightforward way through Prarthana Samaj. But I never knew that it would be his last guidance to me in life!

We will always ask this question to ourselves with moistened eyes, why Mahesh Bhai had to go early! If Mahesh Bhai had been around and if we were discussing someone’s death, Mahesh Bhai the pragmatic would have told me, “Pramod, टाईम आता है तो जाना पडता है. (if your time has come you have to go)”