The change of mindset! 

It is commonly said that change is the only constant in life. I generally believe in this statement, but some things do not change, they remain constant. Why do some things not follow the universal law of change? These constants are mainly about human behaviour. In these constants, methods might change, but basic things don’t change. Some changes happen stealthily, and others happen fast. 

You must be aware that technological changes appear to be happening fast, but they have their development cycles from 10, 20 to 50 years. People are working in the background; many trial and errors take placeThese inventions bring out changes. But this is about the technological and other changes. Social and human behaviour change takes much longer time to change, and some of the things don’t change at all. Attacks on women and rapes continue to happen 

You must be wondering why I am writing about rape and cashless transactions, together, in this blog. Cash transactions in India are our habits and, we don’t want to go away from them. There are reasons. In business, cash transactions are done to cheat on tax. But the small transactions which I am going to discuss can easily be changed by providing technology and making it mandatory.  These changes will change the mindset of people once the benefits are understood.

RFID tags are mandatory to pay toll on highways, from 15th December. There will be only one lane available for those vehicles without tag, and they will be charged double the amount. Tags will change large number of cash transactions happening daily to cashless. But how to change the mindset in cases of rape? It has to start from home, and the boys should be taught by their mothers and sisters to respect the ladies in society. In a patriarchal society, males think that they can get away with anything. But during growing age, the boys must be taught that it is only human species that rape the ladies. All other species do consensual mating and that too during mating seasons. The law of the jungle does not apply to the sex life of other species. 

Take the case of Nirbhaya 2 that has happened in HyderabadThe news has shaken India because people of India had hoped that events like Nirbhaya would not happen again. I am not saying that there will be no rapes, but the actions after that, killing the victim, burning her body are horrible. I was hoping that this kind of brutality will not happen again after the Delhi event in 2012. But it has happened! I am not sure if such incidents happened while we were an undeveloped society say, 2000 years back. Now there are laws in place. It is known that culprits of such events get the death penalty. Still, how do such ruthless attacks take place 

Mind you; I am not talking about the rape but the methodology. Rape is one social behaviour that is going to be a constant in human lives. Majority of rape cases happen to involve known people or relatives. That is even more dangerous. Some people argue that women wear provocative dresses. In these two Nirbhaya cases, the ladies were wearing day to day clothes. The common factor in both these cases is that the rapists were all from the transport industry, uneducated, and young (One in Delhi case was a 16-year-old boy)About provocative dresses, the definition of each individual is different. Some (in)humans rape even babies! It is more to do about mindset. Writing on this subject makes me very uncomfortable and sad.  

We will now look at one change that is happening in IndiaWe Indians love to do commercial transactions in cash. Any attempt to change the mindset is resisted, and people try to find loopholes. What I am writing about is not a significant technological change, but it is the application of the existing technology which will reduce cash transactions in a big way. I am talking of RFID tags to be made mandatory for vehicles to pay the toll on Indian highways. The technology has been in existence for a long time, and I have seen this used in the US 15 years back. Every day people travel on highways in large numbers. If we check the collective wastage of fuel, time of people while waiting in line to pay the toll, it is colossal wastage. When you have a tag pasted on your vehicle, the vehicle needs to reduce speed to approximately 15 Km at the toll plaza. The system will do the work. Hundreds of Crores of rupees of cash transactions will get converted to “cashless’’. If we calculate fuel and time saving on all India basis, the numbers will justify the mandate.

What we need to do is to provide changes which will save time and energy and cover large number of people. When Metro starts to run in a big way in Mumbai or Pune in next ¾ years, there should be system of providing common pass to Metro, “current local trains” and BEST (in Mumbai) and PMPML (in Pune). It is a common system world over. In a “small” Metropolis like Montreal with a population of 1.5 million, the scanning cards for monthly, weekly duration are provided. Metro in Montreal carries 1.3 million passengers a day, very smoothly. These scanning systems work efficiently. When I went to see World Cup final at Melbourne in 2015, the scanning system for tickets easily handled entry of 93000 plus spectators in a short time. There were hardly any queues. The change I have suggested will eliminate vast number of cash transactions in these two cities; it will make life easy for people. PMPML is currently facing an issue of disposing off coins (2.5 million) which are lying with them because banks have refused to accept such a huge number of coins. It is the change in mindset that it is crucial. Mindset change should be in people as well as officials who run these organisations. 

We need to change the mindset in every field. The societies which are open to accept the change improve, or else they remain uncivilised. In India, you look at any area; we don’t want to use the “queue” system. We quickly break traffic rules; motorbikes are driven on footpaths when there is a traffic jam. We drive vehicles on the wrong side, nonchalantly. It is our mindset that needs to change. Leave your home 10/15 earlier instead of breaking the rules.  

What do we need to do, to change the mindsets? To me, social studies should be a mandatory subject in every field like engineering, medicine, economics. It should be compulsory for all courses. Parents should be the role models to the children. If mothers break traffic rules while going with their children, it is guaranteed that the child will break the rules when he/she grows up! Mom is always right! Large organisations are helping in some way by making it mandatory for their employees to wear a helmet while coming to the office! But some employees put on their helmet only two minutes before they reach the office. It is my head, who the hell is my office to make it mandatory? Such an attitude is a result of not wanting to change the mindset.  

My definition of developed country is a country where a small minority breaks public rules! You get different feeling on the roads in such countries. Why we Indians do not want to change? We take pride in not following the basic rules in a society. Is this because of British rules we had? In the last 50 years of British rule, we started doing everything against the government to make their life miserable. We seem to have forgotten that now we have our own government for the last 70 years. So we should stop the non-cooperation movement, change our mindset! To me, this is the biggest challenge in India!  

Ever the optimist, I discussed with an Uber driver, about the fast tag. He said, “Modi is going to make our life miserable. Fast tag, camera-based traffic violation fines! But sir, we deserve this! We will probably take five years to see the dramatic effects of these things. We need this. In the last six months, I can see the effects on traffic violations!”

Perceptions and Grudges!

Perception is how something is regarded, understood, or interpreted. A grudge is a persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury. Though these two words have different meanings, these are interlinked in our day to day lives. An event takes place; we meet someone. We meet people for work, or we also meet casually. We meet known people or unknown people.  

According to my understanding, the perception comes into play firstthen the grudge may be formed if any. The same event is looked at by people in different ways. If five people are discussing why sales are going down, there will be ten different views. But some people have particular perception of the situation and do not accept opinions from others.  

Perception is best described by the story of an Elephant and five blind men. Each man thinks and depictthe elephant differently because he cannot see the whole elephant. They describe the elephant depending on the part they have touched. But in this case, the men are blind and cannot see the entire elephant. But in life, we also look at many situations like blind men. We are not blind, but our perceptions create a tunnel vision in our mind. We look at situations through that tunnel vision. Tunnel vision can also be compared with a narrow mind. The term narrowminded has been created for such thought process 

Why doe this happen? Why people become narrowminded? Why are people not willing to be open? It depends on how you are brought up from childhood, what experiences you get during childhood, younger days and later. Is this a good trait? The effect of such thinking is what many times leads to situations that are difficult to handle and can become complicated 

The net effect of perception leads to grudges. That is how perceptions and grudges are hands in glove! Sometimes, in addition to this, the ego also gets added to this mix. That then becomes a deadly situation.  

Take the example of Kashmir. British had the whole Indian subcontinent under their rule for 150 years. When we got independence, they divided the subcontinent based on religion. India and Pakistan were created. But about Kashmir, both India and Pakistan had different perceptions which have led to 70 years of continuous conflict. Both sides think that Kashmir is rightfully theirs. Pakistan believes so because the majority population there is Muslim. But Kashmir Raja was Hindu, so he had agreed to join India. Rest as they say is history. 

Recently I came to know about the situation in a family. I know both the brother and the sister. We went to the sister’s home for chitchat. While chatting, I asked her how her brother was? She said that he was fine, with the usual routine problems in life. After some more discussion, she said, “While chatting, I remembered about our mother who died several years back.” She said, “When I was talking about our mother, my brother looked upset and suddenly said, you don’t even take her name in front of me again. I was taken aback and stopped the subject. I don’t know what had happened between the two. I don’t even remember any specific incident or clash between two of them. What grudge was formed by him against her, I don’t know.” It is a case of a family of all educated people. Outwardly I knew there was some friction, but it is prevalent between any two people. It is there between husband and wife, parents and children. Sometimes a sibling gets more support and love from parents, but there are reasons for it. Whether those reasons are right or wrong is a matter of perception. But this lady felt that it was unfortunate when she realised that her brother had a big grudge about their mother.  

Perceptions and grudges make things difficult for everybody. As we grow from childhood to adulthood, we meet and see many people. We form our opinions about them, sometimes without giving the benefit of the doubt to that person. A friend was a Chairman of a medium-sized company; his colleagues used to be afraid of him as he was a bit short-tempered. But inwardly he was a soft person. He always would ask his colleagues about their family, the children and small details about everything at their home. He was so helpful that when one of his senior managers was to go to Japan, for the first time, he made sure that he had enough winter clothing and business suits. The manager was a vegetarian, and the boss suggested to him the ways of getting the right vegetarian food. The outwardly strict person had a personality which could be compared with coconut, hard from outside and soft from within with sweet water inside — those who did not know him from close thought that he was a tough person. 

Grudges sometimes can be funny also. I joined COEP, Pune in 1967, and I got admission to the hostel. There used to be different food messes run by the students. There was a different type of food in each mess. Two were cosmopolitan, which served non-vegetarian food. Then there was one with typical Maharashtrian food, another one used to serve Maharashtrian spicy food and one used to serve Gujarati type of food. I wanted to join the mess which used to serve typical Maharashtrian food. The committee would interview the prospective candidates. The committee consisted of senior students. I was not admitted. Hence, I joined a cosmopolitan mess. During my third year, I had become senior enough and moved the Maharashtrian mess. During a chat with the committee, I asked them why I was not admitted in the first place. I was told, “You were from Bombay, and you wore a bold striped shirt for the interview. So, the majority of the committee thought that I was showing attitude!” That used to be the perception about us Bombay guys in the late 60s of the last century. I had observed that some of the students from Pune would not talk to us guys. We were supposed to be smart and a half! Later, some of them have become very dear life-long friends. It was just a matter of perception. Luckily, they did not let the perception to convert into a grudge!  

Now in my golden years, after travelling all over the world, meeting different professionals from various fields and different countries. I have understood that humans are the same everywhere. Perceptions and grudges are common traits in all human beings. Lucky ones like me did not come into contact with too many of this type! Unless of course, now some might think that I have become equivalent of Boston Brahmin! (By the way, I am a Pune Brahmin in real life)  🙂🙂

 

 

Are you not proud of your nation?

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As usual, let me make a disclaimer! I don’t care which party is ruling our country! Whatever I am writing in this blog is apolitical! We were under the British rule for 150 years before the independence we got on the 15th of August in 1947! Thanks to strong personalities like Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, we became India or Bharat as we are known in the world todayOur national wealth was looted by the British under the garb of collecting taxestaking away raw materialBritish presence (and their final going away) did a few good things for India. We became one nation, we had railways, we had an established all-India administrative and police services.  

In Nehru era Public Sector units, Irrigation got significant importance. Indira Gandhi broke Pakistan into two, thereby correcting the problem created by the British by at least 50%! Kashmir issue resolution opportunity was lost; it could have been achieved in the Shimla Agreement. Indian population showed great maturity in overcoming Emergency, the black patch on the Indian Democracy! Jayprakash Narayan led the movement though he was old by that time.  

Next twenty years were tumultuous, but India somehow overcame the same, though we did not have strong leadership. India’s jumping the IT bandwagon successfully started the financial growth processAlong with fast economic growth, crony capitalism and corruption at different levels increased at breakneck speedCheating the government with shell companies was at peak and was used for money laundering.  

All the governments did a lot of good things in their times and bad things too! Then came the Modi Government in 2014 and looks like it will run till 2024! They have had their ups and downs. They have also done some good things and some bad things. From this angle, it is not much different than the previous governments.  

Along with fast economic growth, crony capitalism and corruption at different levels increased at breakneck speedCheating the government with shell companies was at peak and was used for money laundering and diverting funds. These issues created a need for strong actions.

There are specific actions taken by this government which were never considered by any other government before. These were essential for a mature democracy and were generally discussed previously with a glass of Chivas Regal. Nobody ever thought that it was possible in India. 

Yesterday, I shared a certificate displayed below with my friends. The reactions to the certificate were varied! “I have already done it” was message sent by many. Some people sent me a congratulatory messageMy friend Shrikant appreciated this very strongly, and that is what led me to write this blog. 

Certificate ofCommitement

He wrote an elaborate message which I am sharing verbatim!  

“What did you do? Please elaborate?? Such certificates are sent by IT/Vigilance department of Govt of India, to persons having an impeccable track record of regular tax payments & no offences registered, in Govt data tracker! Just a law-abiding citizen. I am also told this is an initiative to motivate/thank taxpayers while furthering the stated objective of putting a high premium on honesty. I have received two such certificates already. Many others also must have! 👍😊 

An individual or an organisation can go to the website https://pledge.cvc.nic.in/ and take this pledge if one desires so. When I went to the site, it also shared information that 85,86,062 individuals and 123,138 organisation have taken this pledge. In the discussion  on our WhatsApp group, somebody said, “Why do you need a certificate?”  

Then a thought came to my mind. We always ask the question what has my nation done for me? But should we not be asking the questionwhat have I done for my nation? I feel that the British have, along with many things, ensured that our pride for our nation was killed. Even today some people say, “We don’t deserve to run our nation. The British should be brought back to run it.”  

The current government has taken many actions in international diplomacy, where people listen when India talks! Now, do we not feel proud of the nation? One major historical correction by India of removing article 370 provisions for Kashmir got allround support in the world. Except for Pakistan’s all-weather friend China, all major countries have supported India. China too is looking at Pakistan from strategic and commercial point of view. Let Pakistan default on repayment to China then it will be interesting to see what China does!  

From the beginning of the 21st centurythe concept of media changed drastically. We started having TV news Superstars” who considered themselves knowledgeable in everything. They started behaving as if they were Gods of media; all others were treated by them as mere mortals. Sycophancy was at its best during this phase. Corruption, both material and moral, reached its peak. There formed a group of people who had jumped the free jaunts bandwagon. They would travel with ministers and the Prime Minister. They ended up giving sermons to others — Social Media like Facebook, Twitter, et al. added to this list. You and I were immaterial. 

Now this government has started the initiative of pledging integrity to the nation. It is like saluting when Jan Gan Man is sung or keeping your hand on your heart! I felt proud to take the formal oath; I felt proud of my nation. All through my life, I have always tried to avoid paying bribes for personal work or business. Sometimes I failed as I was not the final authority to take that decision; I was an advisor to some companies. But in my software and furnacerelated business, I have never paid a single Rupee bribe.  

Some of my friends were cynic about this drive. India has had a poor record as far integrity is concerned. Sometimes, we say God Promise; similarly, here we are saying “Nation Promise”! Till date, not even one per cent of people have taken the pledge mainly because many may not be aware of this initiative. When we say God Promise, do we break the promise? The same logic can be and should be applied to your nation. Assume that even 5% of people take this pledge, will it not make any change in India? Will you beak your new version of “God Promise”?  

What have to say to the cynics? For those who tried to make fun of the certificate, I shared, I will say in the endI can understand the doubters because things have not been as they should have been, so they feel that people will take the pledge but keep on doing what they have been doing! We are always going to have Naysayers who are fashionably called Liberals! Liberals group was not very much against government stuff as they were getting their foreign jaunts and were able to run Nalanda Vidyapeeth-just to give an example.  

Government has started a new portal for a portal http://www.pgportal.gov.in/ The portal is used as  Centralised Public Grievance Redressal Monitoring system 

Such an initiative has never been tried before.  

External affairs ministry under Sushma Swaraj was helping individuals stuck in foreign countries due to some issues. Mr Modi makes it a point to spend a day during Diwali with soldiers on the borders.  

I am not at all saying that it is hunkydory on all fronts. In many areas, issues and problems continue. To run a nation as big and as diverse as India is not going to be easy. On top of that, the British had looted our wealth for 150 years and made us a developing countrywhere famines were a part of life initially. But the green revolution, white revolution (Milk and Sugar) have taken place. In many areas like infrastructure, India is progressing fast. Metros are being built in many large cities. Let’s not forget ISRO!  

To me, the definition of naysayers is a bit different, besides the conventional oneThese are the people who after having toilets at home, want to go to the fields because they feel manly. It is those people who routinely break many laws and rules of public life, like parking, wrong side driving. These are the people who behave rudely with service providers like waiters; they cut corners at every possible opportunity in public lifeThese are the people who follow every general rule just after taking a fivehour flight from Mumbai to Singapore!  

About the friend who made fun of my statement about the certificate should go and ask the Sahara Boss, DSK Boss, Unitech Boss and many other such socalled big people if things are funnyMallya and Neerav Modi are enjoying their new status as fugitives and are forced to take shield behind the slow legal process in Britain. I am sure they have very high social status in the British page, three people!  

Income tax department sends certificates to people who pay personal Income Tax above specific value and appreciates them for being honest and proud citizens.  

Government is trying to push honesty culture, and if people find it funny, they must laugh loudly! If someone finds that it is a joke that I am proud of being an Indian, so be it! Some people have queer sense of humour!  

 

 

 

Stop gazing at the chair!

 

Lion1

Historically, the Lion Tamers in circuses died young because at some stage even Lions used to forget that they were tamed, and the instincts took over. In those days the tamers used to have a whip their hands, but the whip was mainly for show. Once the instincts took over, the show was also over! Clyde Beatty was the first Lion Tamer, born in the early part of the 20th century, who died at the age of 60 because of Cancer.

He did something right in his job. Along with the whip, he was the first person to use a chair during the show. He would use the chair, and it’s four legs to divert the attention and focus of the lions during the show. The lions probably were trying to concentrate on pouncing of the limbs- in this case, four legs of the chair; but their concentration was wavering! As Clyde would always move the chair, the Lions became indecisive as they could not focus on their wish to pounce on the limbs. Before the chair, it was the Tamer’s limbs!

Many a time, we are in the same position as that of the Lion. How often do we have something we want to achieve (i.e. lose weight, gain muscle, start a business, travel more) – only to end up confused by all of the options in front of you and never make progress?

 It is especially true in health, fitness, and medicine, where every person and company seem to believe they must make things more complicated. Every workout routine you find is the best one. Every diet expert says their plan is the optimal one. That frustrates us to no end because while all the experts are busy debating about which option is best, the people who want to improve their lives (you and me) are left frustrated by all of the conflicting information.

The result is that we feel like we can’t focus or that we’re focused on the wrong things, and so we take less action, make less progress, and stay the same when we could be improving.

I will tell you about how I did things. I started walking exercise about 25 years back. Initially, used to walk briskly 5 km every day. A couple of times, I had some issue with my ankles, I took the advice of an Orthopedic Surgeon. Things worked out quite well. Later I started to go to the gym too. During some gym exercise, I started having some issues with my knees. I again went my Orthopedic doctor. He advised me which exercises not to do! I asked him if I should stop walking for some time. He advised me to reduce my speed and the distance for a month. But he said never stop the exercise. Your body starts getting comfortable, not doing exercise, and you start losing focus on what you want to do.

Other than medical advice, he ensured that I did not lose focus on my main aim, to exercise. That is the key to any situation. Whatever we start doing, there is a chair being waved in front of us; this hypothetical chair is the various options we have. Different methods can be followed — multiple means of achieving your goal.

Most of the time, the ability to get started and commit to a task is the only thing you need to do to focus better. Most people don’t have trouble with focusing. They have trouble deciding. Those are the famous four legs of the chair. The legs are a metaphor for having different ways of achieving our goal.

Sometimes we need to do some task which must be completed. As per normal tendency, we may procrastinate but ultimately complete the job. Successful people follow this method. Additionally, they get a feeling which is described as a gut feeling. The gut feeling is nothing but rationally comparing various ways and taking a decision at the right time, instead of delaying the decision. The chosen path maybe 80 % efficient instead of a higher %. But since the action starts on whatever we want to do, the work gets completed.

A gut feeling can also be compared with something we usually see on expressways. When we reach a toll booth, there are multiple lines of the vehicles waiting to pay the toll. We use our gut feeling, which lines to follow. You win some, and you lose come. But some people win say 80 % of the times. We call them “lucky people”. We feel that these people are lucky; they always end up into lines which move faster. But these are the people who use the gut feeling; they must be using the same decision method in their work situations too!

Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. Whether you know it or not, you’re already in the ring. We all are. Most of the time, we sit quietly, gazing at the chair in front of us, silently debating about which leg is the most important.

Nowadays, I have changed my strategies for what to I do in the gym. When I joined a gym recently, on the first day itself, I told the instructors not to worry about what I do; I told them I would do what I want to do. Before joining the gym, I had discussed with Atul, my nephew, who is also my physician. He told me that now the purpose of going to the gym is different. He said, “Mama, at your age, the muscle atrophy starts. What you should do is your warmup, then treadmill which keep feet mobile (I have some dormant knee issues) and then do the weights. The weights may not reverse the atrophy, but weight training slows it down, and you will feel better. Select the weights that your body tells you are suitable for you. Never overdo it.” I follow his advice to the last T! I also do something practical. I take 5 kg weights in both hands and walk for about five minutes. It has helped when I go out and buy things. I can carry my bags easily. I can also remove my carry-on bag from the compartment on flights. I don’t need any help.

If you have somewhere you want to go, something you want to accomplish, someone you want to become… then make a decision. If you’re clear about where you want to go, the rest of the world will either help you get there or get out of the way. Both of those are useful.

You should think and decide, but there is a goal you need to achieve. Something that’s calling you, something that’s important to you, something that you’re destined to do. I don’t know what it is, but you do. Swipe the chair out of the way and choose it.

Gopal Mansion!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The rates for stay and food are very much affordable.

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

Gopal Mansion today!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Light your own path- Diwali!

Diwali12

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!

Beggars and Survivors!

I came across two articles today. Topic in one of them was how much money should we have in savings so that we survive in emergencies. The second was about homeless people in California. I have recently written a blog about people for whom thousands of crores of Rupees are also not enough.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/10/20/cheats-frauds-or-failed-businesses/

So, I am talking about the three ends of the spectrum. Super rich people are at one end and homeless are on the other end. You and I are in between where discussion about emergency funds can happen!

Panati1

Besides this, I also read one more story about a poor young girl who was standing in line to buy cooking oil for her home. People were buying in terms of half a litre, one litre and so on. When the girl reached the counter, she said, “I want to buy oil worth ten paise (like ten cents).” She put forth a पणती (picture above) – it is a lamp made out of the mud and generally lit with the help of a wick which is dipped in oil. The shopkeeper got irritated and said, “I don’t sell oil in such small quantities”. The girl said, “ But I have only so much money to buy oil; if you don’t sell me the oil, then we will not be able to cook anything at home tonight.” The shop keeper yielded to her request and filled up the lamp with oil. The girl insisted that he must take ten paise from her.

Various thoughts started coming to my mind. On one side, we have homeless people; then some people barely survive like the young girl. You and I come next in the line and then there are super-rich people. What must be going through the minds of each of these groups of people, every day? About the homeless in California, some unexpected things were revealed. In Los Angeles, as per official count, there are fifty-nine thousand homeless people.

In a rich country like the US, in LA out of a population of 4 million people, 59000 are officially homeless, but this number could easily be one hundred thousand. It means 2.5 % of the population is homeless. There would be about 15% who barely survive. If this is the statistic in LA, then what would be statistic world over? How are the homeless treated in California? You will be shocked to know about it. The following paragraph shows the extreme views of a person who is against the homeless.

Gene Gorelik, a property developer in Oakland and an aggressive critic of the homeless, recently suggested luring the thousands of homeless people in the San Francisco Bay Area onto party buses stocked with alcohol and sending them on a one-way trip to Mexico. “Refugee camps in Syria are cleaner than where these people live.”  

As against this, residents had installed big boulders on the sidewalks in San Fransisco to deter homeless people from erecting tents where they could live in tents. In Los Angeles, homeowners installed prickly plants for the same purpose.  This is the picture of authorities removing boulders from sidewalks!

Panati2

I understand that everybody wants the area surrounding their homes should be clean and beautiful. But unfortunately, homeless people are also a fact of life. How to handle these conflicting situations? The funds sanctioned by a town council in California were not allowed to be spent by citizens to buy a shelter for homeless people.

In India, we have heard of many stories where rehabilitation of people living in shanties created different issues. These people were given properly built homes with amenities. These people took possession of the houses, then sold the houses and moved back to shanties.

Does one like to become homeless? I don’t think so. I am sure each individual would have a different tale. Some could be penniless due to their drug habits, some may have physical disabilities, and their family does not want to support them. But one heart rendering story of a nurse is touching. She had a regular job, she was alone, and her home was free of mortgage. She was in her fifties. She was detected with a very rare form of cancer.  She was treated for nearly two years. The treatment was so expensive that her insurance coverage was insufficient. She sold her home and moved to a rented apartment. By the time she was in remission, she had no money left, even to pay the rent and she became homeless!

How should society handle such cases? If such things can happen in a prosperous state like California in the US, what would be the status in other countries in the world? During my current stay in Montreal, whenever I go out, I see a beggar or two. Some are begging, others scavenging the garbage cans!

I am sure that not every homeless person is a druggy, and they may have their true stories like that of the nurse. During my childhood in Pune and Mumbai, I used to see hundreds of beggars and homeless. One thing is sure that at least in Pune and Mumbai, the number of beggars has drastically reduced.

I am sure that the number of homeless is still significant. Many graduate, from homeless status to move to shanties. Many of these poor people do some job or the other. If there is a will, they can get some job in large cities.

But how to handle such situations? Humans have progressed, with progress come factories and other businesses. Then there is service industry which is needed to service various items. But technology is such that robots are created and automation is done to reduce the costs, thereby reducing employment. So, it is a vicious circle!

But are reactions shown by people in California justified? Is it possible for the society to keep on feeding and providing shelter to such people, lifelong? In this discussion, we have not talked about people like us. When we live a normal life, take up a job after education, save money, buy homes, pay mortgages and follow the normal life pattern. But we can also have emergencies in our lives. Suppose our income becomes zero for a short duration. How should we prepare for such eventualities? Experts say that we should keep aside money which will see us through at least for six months. By that hopefully, things will be back to normal. According to me, in the US savings done by people are small, so they think in terms of six months. But in countries like India, saving rates are higher. People would be more comfortable with savings that will see us through for a couple of years. These safety margins will change from nation to nation or society to society.

Friends after a lot of thinking, I am still not able to understand how to handle the problem of homeless people very poor people. One way could be to help them train in some skills, so they become employable. But there will be some who will never want to work for which there is no solution. But I am quite sure that in most other countries people will not treat the homeless the way they treat in them in California.