How closely do we know others? 

In our life, we meet many people. First of course is our mother and then the family. The journey continues until you die. At various stages, you make friends starting from KG to completing your education. If you are lucky, you continue to live in the same city where you were born and educated. During this phase, you make lifelong friends. Later, you start your career and get married too. For your professional work, you may be anywhere in India or may even migrate to different countries. You get additional close family members after marriage. Later, during your work phase, you meet more people. But rarely you make new friends. But now since last 10 to 15 years, you are making lots of “Friends” on FB. Many of these “friends” you hardly know them. Then you make “Friend’s Groups” on WA.

I will be writing about some friends from school and college days. It is their journey that was sometimes normal, and at other times shocking or painful.

Social networks have found us a lot of old friends (real ones), but you forget that a lot of water has gone under the bridge (in my case sometimes 50 to 60 years). I was looking for a dear friend school days. Somehow, I managed to get his cell number. The person who shared his cell number with me indicated that the friend had changed a lot. I was apprehensive when I called him. But once we started speaking, we continued almost for an hour. We did the usual things like exchanging photos, shared what we did in life. He was the good old jovial friend that I remembered from school days. But since then, whenever I call, he responds and shares life experience in general. But he has never called me, ever. I later understood that he had met with an accident in which he had a head injury. That has put him in difficulty. It has changed his personality.

I recently came in touch with another friend who was at Elphinstone College, Bombay with me for two years. All of us in those days were from lower-middle-class families trying to come up in life via education. The friend used to live in Girgaum in one of the wadis- a cluster of houses. He was studious, showing the usual lack of confidence for those days, especially in Elphinstone College. The college was well known for scholars both in science and arts stream. But the college had many students who had taken their school education in English medium schools. So, most of us were not sure-footed in the initial phase. Some continued with the same mindset until they passed out. The friend has not changed much even now and has remained the same as he was. It is an excellent tribute to him to have maintained his values from childhood.

It reminds me of another friend who was with me at Elphinstone College, but we were also from the same school. He was a reticent, smart person. He was brilliant and did quite well until we joined engineering. We were together in engineering too; he did not enjoy his engineering course, probably! He flunked in one year. After engineering, I met him again after ten years. He had entirely changed. He had started smoking and talked of alcohol enthusiastically. He was in the construction business. He would speak of millions of Rupees which was a lot of money, in the early ’80s of the previous century. Jaya was impressed with his talk. When we were coming back to Pune, I told Jaya that this is not the old friend I knew. I don’t believe in his boasting of a large amount of money.

Over a period, we started receiving the news of his failing business and some wrong business deal with people very close to him. He started drinking and smoking heavily. Funds began dwindling. He would come to Pune occasionally. He would smile the way he used to, but he had started looking haggard. He was never in a mood to listen to others. His sister suggested to him that his two children could live with her in Bombay for education. He agreed, luckily. Both his children are well settled.

Now the sad part! The friend hurtled down continuously in the vicious circle of the lack of money, alcohol and could not put the brakes on. His wife valiantly tried to support home by taking tuitions. In his final couple of years, I came to know that he would sell his household items to quench his thirst for alcohol. About fifteen years back, I got the news that he had passed. From a typical god-fearing family, an intelligent person with a pleasant personality was wasted. It would have been okay had he not been successful in business. Is it destiny that took him on the wrong path? I am aware that addiction to alcohol can ruin people, but during childhood, if someone had predicted about him, I would have simply said, Oh! Come on, not him!

The last friend I am going to talk about is a sadder case. It is because he is still around. He and I used to live in the same building and had a similar background. We were batchmates. Later as we grew, I realised that he was a little less endowed in smartness- both in studies and otherwise. He meandered through his life the way hundreds of thousands of people move. He had a routine job from which he took premature retirement. It enabled him to get some lump sum money; he had a daughter who was perpetually sick. She died about ten years back. Her illness probably hit his corpus badly. But his brave wife continues to work even today. He lives around twenty km away from Pune in a rented home. In India, suburbs are not as costly as they are in developed countries. He has lost his “Will” to do anything. He has become a chain smoker. His wife gives him an exact amount for him to buy a packet of cigarettes before she goes to the office. But my friend wanders around during the day. Once his stock of cigarettes is finished, he looks for butts. Sometimes he goes to an ATM near his home and begs for money for the cigarettes. Another friend from those days has been in touch with him all through life. He has tried to help in many ways, including psychiatric treatment. But it seems he has crossed the primary threshold. It appears that after some medicines, he will be shifted to an institution.

My eyes are still moist when I write about him. We had fantastic 6/7 years together during our childhood. We fought; we were partners in table tennis. I spoke to him a few months back, and I told Jaya that something is seriously wrong with him. I will be able to handle his death, but I am too much of a coward to meet him in this condition. I have now made my resolve to go and meet him once this lockdown situation is over. Now I have found a valid reason to avoid visiting him! 😒😒

Friends, life is beautiful, but there are peaks and troughs of happiness and sadness. I know that I will overcome this phase. But life is full of surprises, either way!

Nostalgia, the hidden button!  

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It is impossible to know how our mind works. Nostalgia is the hidden buttonin the back of our mind. It remains hidden most of the times. But an event kicks in and presses the hidden button without our knowledge. The other day I got the cell number of my childhood friend Vira aka Virendra. I called him; he lives in Pune as I do. We chatted on the phone, gave and took updates of the old friends. The usual stuff of sharing addresses and photos was done. I did not realise that the hidden button was pressed.  

A similar thing had happened when I got in touch with another friend Sunil, a few months back. It shows and proves time and again that HE is the most celebrated designer of all time. Many times, we make statements like, “Oh, this is enough for memy brain is now full!” Well, our brain never uses more than 20% of its capacity. Our brain stores many things. In today’s terms, Onedrive offers one Terabyte storage capacity if we subscribe for office 365. I feel that our brain’s storage capacity could be measured in Peta or Yotta units. Many many things get stored in your brain, and the problem is that for some people, the brain is not able to retrieve the information. Please see the link about the details of Units prefixes.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zetta-

Ladies generally have a high capacity to retrieve dates. If you meet some girl from your school days, she might surprise you with a statement like, “Pramod on 27 August 1963you were punished and kept out of the class for the whole day. I am sorry, I had complained about you.” Someones beloved might tell him, “You kissed for the first time on 13th January 1975.” Oh, yes, it is possible! But he doesn’t rememberHe was never a serial kisser a la Imran Hashmi. But still, he can’t remember the date!

I used to live in Dhobi Talao area in Bombay. Virendra also lived a few buildings away. In my professional life, I used to interact with someone who lived in the same lane, in Dhobi Talao; but I had never met him in the childhood.  

I have observed one interesting thing. When in a nostalgic mood, people tend to discretely add a bit of fiction to the facts of those days. I won the (inter) school athletic championship when I was in tenth grade. Okay, I am lying; remove the word (inter), it was only the school championship. I was reasonably fit in those days, but I had never practised running as an athlete. After I won the eight hundred meters final, I collapsed and puked. In the SSC board exams, I stood the SSC merit list. Ha, Ha! I am again lying. But I surprisingly got a distinctionIt was surprise to others, but not to me. Honestly!! No more lying, God promise!  

Now, after many years, I realised that I lived in one of the poshest areas in Bombay, thanks to quarters provided by the Police department to my father. It brought back more memories of those times. Virendra told me that an old friend of ours is now in deep depressionI had spoken to this friend six months back, for the first time in fifty years, and found that he was not very keen on my meeting him. During childhood, we never realise how life is going to treat all of us in future. During those times in Dhobi Talao, most of our friends were in a similar financial and educational situation. But how the dice will fall for each is challenging to predict. But in general, I have seen that in 80% of the cases, people continue to be what they were. If they are smart in childhood, then they continue to be smart later too. In a few cases, some who appear not so sharp in childhood become brighter than what they were. But this percentage is low.  

A friend from those days was quite smart, a reasonably good athlete, but he tended to go overboard. His trait continued in adulthood; he did pretty all right in life, success wise. But he died when he was around fifty-five. The reason was over drinking and smoking! I have seen a similar tendency in one of my nephews; he continues to go overboard though he is a senior officer in the armed forces!  

It reminded me of a friend who was very naughty in childhood but retired as a high-ranking army officer. After retirement, he did some excellent work as a professional engineer; he is also an outstanding bridge player of national repute.  

In my school, we had one skinny teacherIn our 11th grade, we had gone for a three days picnic to MatheranThe teacher had accompanied us. He told me that he and my father were classmates in collegeI felt closer to him for obvious reasons. Then I asked him, “Sir, why are you skinny?” He said, “Pramod, in college days during my B.Sc. some students troubled me with ghost stories. I was weak, even in those days. I was scared and fell sick. Since then, I have continued to be skinny.” I know of another case where similar ragging was done to a student during his college time. He lost his confidence so much that his family moved him to an institution. He never recovered from that shock. He died later at the age of sixty-three in the same state. He was an exceptionally bright student. 

That brings me back to the friend who is now in deep depression. His story was a little different. He was doing alright in his jobBut his daughter was born sick and continued to be ill and died in her teens. The problem with the daughter also depleted his finances severely. He is somehow surviving, and it is no surprise that he is depressed. 

Do I have any memories of any teen romantic stories? No, I don’t have them. I think all our gang was too busy playing sports and enjoying life in general. I remember the days when would come home from school walking in heavy rains. We enjoyed walking on the sea wall at Marine drive in monsoons, accompanied by powerful winds and equally powerful waves, which would drench us when they broke against the wall. We always had a shortage of money. So, whenever we could save money, we would cheat and drink cold Sharbat on Cross Maidan, or Sugar Cane Juice. Wow, we always had great joy in doing forbidden things.  

But friends don’t forget the pitfalls of going into nostalgia trips, especially in the golden period of life. If you tend to become nostalgic frequently, younger people will avoid your company. When they see you, they will mutter, “Now listen to Pramod Uncle! In our times bla bla bla!” You should be able to communicate with every age group. Keep updated with technology; try to know what new things are there in the world. The other day, I was talking to my grandson on his twentieth birthday. He is in engineering school. He said, “I skipped classes today so that I could come home.” I said, “You mean you officially skipped classes today!” He laughed.

Okay, if you have memory issues due to ill health, it is a different issue. Otherwise, you become like Vizzy. A quick nostalgic trip again! 🙂🙂 

Vizzy was Maharjkumar of Vijayanagaram. He used to give cricket match commentaryOnce while giving commentary in the ’60 s of the last century, Vizzy had become nostalgic and was telling some story that had taken place twenty years back. In the background, a lot of noise could be heard. After five minutes, the story was completed, and Vizzy said, “While I was telling the story, India has lost three wickets.” 

Don’t become Vizzy, but for that, you must remain busy!  

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Gopal Mansion!

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

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

Optimized-Mumbai_60.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

GM3

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

The rates for stay and food are very much affordable.

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

Gopal Mansion today!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Light your own path- Diwali!

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I think this the second time in my 70 years, I am not at our home for Diwali. Someone asked me how I was celebrating Diwali in Montreal? My simple answer was this is the longest Diwali celebration we had, ever. We reached here end of August and will be back to Pune in early November. For Jaya and me, all these two months have been like Diwali. With Rhea, Priya and Nikhil around, every day was spent like Diwali. For me, Diwali is a mindset. We should have Diwali every day by being able to share the happiness with your loved ones; most of the times being with them itself is happiness!

In the conventional sense, Diwali is the festival of lights that celebrates the victory of good over evil. In ancient India, Diwali was a major harvest festival, and the lighting of the lamps was associated with the sun.

The meaning of Diwali is a festival of the light which dispels the darkness of our ignorance; it is a festival of the light which shows us the way on our journey through life. The purpose is not to glorify the light of the candle, or the light of the firecracker. The purpose is to glorify the light of God.

Diwali is celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and Buddhists, although for each faith it marks different historical events and stories. Nonetheless, the festival represents the same symbolic victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, and good over evil.

But the question that comes to mind is why there is evil in this world? There are, of course, some outright evil events, evil people. But the percentage of such people is small. People turn into evils over small issues or events. Jealousy, not being happy with what you have are some of the reasons. These are some of the small hurdles that can be easily overcome, especially by people like me who are in the golden period of life. But this is easier said than done.

We have a “beautiful” app called WhatsApp available to us, thanks to modern technology. Diwali time is the time where it is totally misused. I have received hundreds of Happy Diwali messages, but only two of them were specific. It was written,” Pramod, how you folks are spending Diwali in Montreal? You must be missing Pune and so on!” There were phone calls, and we made phone calls to wish people Happy Diwali. All other messages were “forwards.” Some were self-created greetings but again with no personalisation. Do we really feel happy or do we really mean it when we forward a Happy Diwali message? To me, at least it is as good as an automated message coming to me from my Bank or from online shops where I buy things! Some of them at least a take an effort in personalising the message (using the software) and say “Dear Pramod, bla bla bla!”

On one of the COEP groups, there is a rule of not sending forwards! But during Diwali so many Happy Diwali “forwards” were sent that my friend Sharad was exasperated and wrote,

It looks like all the Admins are tired of telling the members not to send greetings on this group. We have received so many happy Diwali messages that I am worried whether we will have indigestion of happy Diwali. 

Is Diwali something special that makes us forget the rules? There are about 150 people on this group so you can imagine the clutter that we managed to create.

I was trying to understand the tradition of burning crackers during Diwali. The tradition somehow started in old times with the idea of scaring away evil spirits; people forget that there are no evil spirits, physically; the evil spirit is in the mind of the people. Nowadays, the crackers that are burst have very high decibel noise; sometimes it is impossible to sit peacefully at home even with all windows shut! The style now is to burst a set of ten thousand crackers at a time, loosely linked to each other. World over, bursting crackers is a part of many celebrations. But in western countries, it is done at a safe, designated area like a ground or a stadium. But we….. just don’t want to learn.

There are so many good traditions but even with the spread of knowledge why do we stick old not so good traditions. During Diwali, families visit each other, give gifts, spread the joy. Some people paint their homes before Diwali. Then there has been a tradition of putting up beautiful lanterns at home. Though readymade ones are available, in some families there is still the tradition of making lanterns at home. It is a way of coming and staying together in our busy lives.

Diwali13

Rangoli is an art form from India in which patterns are created on the floor in living rooms or courtyards using materials such as coloured rice, dry flour, coloured sand or flower petals. It is usually made during Diwali, but it is also made in Onam, Pongal and other Indian festivals. Rangoli is done on any auspicious day during the year. I am not saying that this art is dying, but this could be easily followed by many more art-minded people!

Diwali is a good opportunity to get great gifts from others; it is a part of the tradition. Ladies don’t forget to get a big gift from your husbands on Padwa. Make some nice faral for them; you will get what you want. Brothers don’t be stingy. Give some lovely gifts to your sisters; they are the ones who really love you but cannot express it regularly because they have left “your home” after marriage. Give them lots of love and make them feel at home!

A new trend has started as per the information shared by some shop keepers. In olden times new clothes etc. were purchased before Diwali or before your school restarted if you had outgrown your school uniform. Now with increased incomes in many families, there is no Diwali purchase. People just go out on weekends and buy new stuff! There was a time when I was younger, my mother used to make Diwali special food items at home, just a week before Diwali. Now the trend has changed all these Diwali specials are available round the year.

Diwali11

But I will be pleased if you manage to keep the “Happy Diwali” state of mind all-round the year. There will be illnesses, there will be sad events but treat them like a blip, they are part of life;  but have Diwali round the year,  after all, by reaching the golden phase of life, we have earned it!

HAPPY DIWALI TO ALL MY FRIENDS!

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.

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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!

Just a coincidence!

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I reached Montreal on the 29th August and published a blog “Home sweet home!” My friend Ram, who is currently in the US, wrote to me, “Hey, you just reached Montreal today, and writing about Sweet Home!” Ram, as usual, it was an incomplete blog, which I had started a couple of weeks back. I just found an appropriate ending when Deepti wrote about missing the sweet home! I simply used the sentence.

Many of my blogs are written based on a sentence or a phrase! Some of these instantly create a chain of thoughts in my mind, and I end up writing the blog. While going through the list of blogs, I found some blogs that matched the way I have described above.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/09/14/nisi-nisi-bonum/

The Latin phrases De mortuis nihil nisi bonum and De mortuis nil nisi bene [dicendum] (“Of the dead, [say] nothing but good”) indicate that it is socially inappropriate to speak ill of the dead. The long-phrase is abbreviated as Nil nisi bonum. In English are often used some aphorisms, which include: “Speak no ill of the dead”, “Of the dead, speak no evil”, and “Do not speak ill of the dead”.

The phrase was used in the movie Lawrence of Arabia. When I heard this sentence, many thoughts came to my mind. I was confused if this is right or wrong. The first thought that came to my mind was why we should speak badly about anyone! You may not be on good terms with someone, but there is no reason to bad mouth that person. As against this, should we praise someone, who did terrible things in life, ad nauseum after death? As Nisi Nisi Bonum is true, so is praising someone over the top is also not good.

An industrialist in Pune died sometime back. He made his money by manufacturing and selling products which caused cancer. With money, he became a society leader. He opened a hospital to treat cancer patients. On one side, he manufactured addictive products that caused cancer, and on the other hand, he built a hospital to treat them. Cynics called that hospital “Customer complaint Center!” Was it right to follow such a business model? Was it right to glorify such a personality after he died? People could have simply declared sorrow due to his death, but there was no need to call him “Gem of a person”! Or talk about his charitable work.

 https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/03/22/turn-into-cotton/

The blog is about a statement made by Raj Babbar. Sometime back he was the president of state Congress in UP. In one of the reorganisations, he was removed from the post and made a plain member. When he was asked his reaction, he quoted from a Hindi poem by Kedarnath Sinhji.

The lines roughly get translated as below.

When I entered my home today, my mattress offered me its resignation — telling me that it wants to become the original cotton, that it was to start with, anyway! It indicated that it wants to go back to its roots.  

It was a beautiful way of accepting life as it came. In sports or job, one retires when the time comes. But in the public domain, it is not so easy. One gets a lot of power as well as affection, (or enemies!). To walk away from it, is not as simple as the lines of the poem.

Humans have inherent and intrinsic capacities and properties within them. No one is born at the top of the heap. People work hard and reach the pinnacle of their life, but life’s vagaries bring them back to where they started. People move to different destinations in the world, physically and by their achievements. But the beautifully solid lines tell you to be ready to come back to roots.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2017/10/21/pet-the-whale/

The blog is about people looking at life differently. I have shared a story of a group of people who went on an excursion to watch the whales from close quarters. As they reached the place where whales could be seen, something different happened. These people could have easily touched or petted the whale; they were so close to the boat. But none did that. All were very busy taking videos and photos of the whales. After coming back to the shore, someone asked them, “Did you Pet the whale?” All had missed the great opportunity. They were busy taking photos and videos. In life, we tend to lose the real purpose of what we are really looking for, but we tend to capture things for posterity. In the false enthusiasm, we tend to miss the happening moment. We lose absorbing The Moment!

We had been to watch Pelican feeding time at the Entrance beach near Sydney, Australia with Pradhans. We did take some photos, but most of the time we observed how the birds arrived and landed like aeroplanes, how all of them raised their neck synchronously to watch fish which was thrown in the air, their feed! What a beautiful sight it was? These memories are etched on our mind instead of on our camera!

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2017/10/31/dance-of-the-seven-veils/

Below poem by Oscar Wilde is supposed to be the origin of an erotic dancing style. It is, of course, not true!

She freed and floated on the air her arms

Above dim veils that hid her bosom’s charms…

The veils fell round her like thin coiling mists

Shot through by topaz suns and amethysts.

The “Dance of the Seven Veils” was a term used by a father, in a book I was reading. The sentence was meant to describe the behaviour or thought process of the 22-year young man while he ogled at a beautiful nurse in the hospital, while recuperating .

It was a veiled way of describing the thought process of a man. The term was also used to describe a dance where the lady’s sensuous body is under the veil of seven layers of clothing. The lady removes these veils during the dance, which could be described both as sensuous as well as erotic. During writing this blog, it brought in my mind many layers of coverings that many fruits have Jackfruit, Coconut, Mango, and many others. The word seven veils also brought out thoughts about the human mind. The complexity of the human mind could be compared with the seven layers, and in many cases infinite layers. Very rarely do we know the real person, though that person may be close to us. Different situations bring our fascinating aspects about humans same as the dance does about the woman’s body in the Dance of the Seven Veils!

Ram, writing of blogs is a complex as well as a simple process. It is like our life. We humans by nature are simple creatures, but our situation, our environments are complex. Each simple individual reacts differently in his own simple way, which on crisscrossing become complex!

See how I converted a simple query by you, in a complicated blog! Cheers!

Home Sweet home!

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When do we really start missing home? What is home? Home is the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household. In today’s world, we travel for work, holiday or to go and stay with your family, who have moved to different places from home, temporarily or permanently. We may go to see the seven wonders of the world, or we may go to travel to live in a small town or a village. We may go to a culturally advanced place, or we may go to a drab place. But after some time, we eagerly look forward to coming back home. Why does this happen?

 The thought process about home started when Deepti wrote,   after about 45 days in the US for work and holiday, that she was missing home!

Of all the places in the world, our home is the safest place in the world for us. We can do anything at home without the fear of repercussions. Our homes are our sanctuaries. We are kings and queens of our homes. We are undisputed leaders; nobody can touch us within the precincts of our homes.

We love everything about our homes; it may be a palace, or it could be a small condo. It could be a bungalow, or it could be a shanty. But this description is for others; for us, it is our kingdom.  But we should not forget one thing. The place where we live is home. Later on, with increasing prosperity, we may buy more properties, but those are not our homes. It is at this juncture things sometimes go wrong. We purchase properties for investment purpose, but we start treating them like home.

In our busy schedule during working days, we do not get time to go and visit these properties even once in a year. If the property is in another town, then it becomes even more challenging to manage. Beyond a time, as these properties become older, their valuation also does not increase the way we want it to rise, sometimes it diminishes.

But many people fall in love with such properties. I know of someone who had a property in a different town than where he lived. The property was a 40-year-old independent bungalow and had become too costly to manage because of taxes and low rent the property fetched. Someone suggested to him to dispose off the same. He had never lived there. His reply was, “Over my dead body!” It took some convincing by friends and relatives that helped him to make that decision. I asked him once about the same. His reply was, “It was my first property; it’s like the first child. How can one dispose off the same?” I did not tell that children also become old and move in life!

We should not forget that the concept of the home also changes. As we switch from studentship to professional work, we become independent of parents. We make our own home at some stage. I had written a blog on a similar subject sometime back.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/10/05/16th-august-1995-to-23rd-september-2018/

In this blog, I had written about concentric circles of our lives! When we have our family and children at some stage, we have our own home! The place which you called home in your younger days becomes your parent’s home. The same concept is going to be repeated when your children grow up, settle down and have their family. That is where the concept of ancestral home comes into the picture. In previous generations, people rarely travelled out of town for work; only girls moved to their husband’s home after marriage. The same property was home for many generations. But with today’s modern technology and way of living, the concept of ancestral home will be forgotten after a few generations. The reason for this is you had an ancestral home but moved to Bombay for work. Your children moved to London, New York or Timbuktu for their career. Some come back to India, but most don’t. The ancestral homes hence stop existing as a concept.

With increased mobility, days of ancestral homes concept is waning. But the home remains home for the nuclear families that get created in different generations. Probably we could say that longevity of the idea of home is reducing and ends with the parents who “created” the home.

Every home has its memories, its stories, the happy moments and the sad moments. I remember my first “home” which was at Dhobi talao in Bombay. What memories I have! Catching an early morning bus to go to school; it was G3 at 6.15 am and meeting Pradeep! Coming home by lunch-time; memories of listening to cricket test-match commentary of tied match between Australia and West Indies are still fresh in my mind. There was a rule at home not go to the Cross Maidan to play before 4.30 pm. But we used to sneak out under the garb of completing home-work at some friend’s place. Half the time my mother had to send someone to bring me back home from the ground though we had a rule that we should be back home when it started getting dark.

Our first home in Pune after marriage was the most fun part. Jaya and I were the first ones to get married in our group. Every day, some friends would barge in for a chat, food and whatever till they were thrown out. Some friends would come prepared to cook chicken; some would urge Jaya to plan on the previous day so that they could have Sabudana (Sago) Khichadi the next day.

Home is something which is a great leveller, makes everyone a family person. That person could be a famous Surgeon or a Scientist. She could be CEO of an organisation or a Minister in a Government. But at home, these same luminaries are converted into a different person. Their personality changes and they become mothers, fathers, uncles. They may also become sisters or brothers or aunts. My friends, this is the power of “Home”! Each home has its own Ramayana and Mahabharata which others rarely see or visualise.

We have all seen how people’s personalities are very different when they come from broken homes. They have no shoulder to cry on; they have nobody to share their sorrows. The home gives shade to the family like a banyan tree against the harshness, that is life; but when that tree itself falls, people seem to get exposed to the vagaries of nature. Home is an umbrella that prevents you from sudden rains. For us, home is only next to God. When a human is in turmoil, a person goes to a church or a mandir. It gives them mental peace and solace. You had a bad day office; you lost a big opportunity in business. You accidentally bumped your car into the one ahead of you! After reaching home and sitting in your favourite window or on a pet chair, your agitation tapers off.

Home is a powerful institution created by us, let us try to preserve it and not flog it! It can absorb many shocks but remember that this shock absorber cannot be just bought from a shop and replaced when damaged!

Deepti, you must be back home already; our flight just had taken off from Frankfurt today, when yours landed there on the way back to Pune. Take care and enjoy our dear Pune again!

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!  

 

 

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