Which is the real Golden Age?

We always discuss the progress of the human race. We also take pride and talk about how progressive was the life in Egypt and Harappa thousands of years back. Considering the technology of those days and knowledge about worldly things, including science during those times, the human race at respective times was progressive compared to life five thousand years before that period. Ancient Egyptian civilisation was around 3100 BC, and the Harappan culture was between 2600 BC to 1500 BC. 

We sing paeans of those times and talk of golden age or era! But why is it called the Golden era? Why was it the Golden age? Compared to which times? If this life is compared with new stone age then, Yes, it was Golden age.  

Egyptian civilisation succeeded because they adapted to conditions and the vagaries of the Nile river. They handled the floods correctly and managed to have a good irrigation system. This helped them produce surplus crops that fed the dense population. Since resources were more than needs, exploitation of minerals and many other developments like joint construction projects were implemented. Of course, famous Pyramids were built in those times. Medicine, Architecture and civil engineering were developed sciences of those times. 

The evidence of the Harappan valley suggests that they had a highly developed city life. Many houses had wells and bathrooms as well as an elaborate underground drainage system. They had excellent writing skills and maybe military skills. But since their writing still cannot be deciphered, many things are vaguely known.  

Ok, but what is the point of writing all this. Let us compare the old civilisations with today’s times in a country like India. India has progressed by leaps and bounds in last 20 to 25 years and showing overall progress. World population in the late 18th century was close to a billion people. India’s today’s population is 1.2 billion. Even today India is not considered a developed country. Some parts of India are highly developed, and some have remained extremely backward. I don’t think we can call today’s Indian age as a golden age.  

But in the comparison of the golden age of ancient times, in today’s average times, we are way ahead of the “old” golden age. In those days it was almost impossible to overcome droughts or floods. Societies have vanished in floods, or large populations have died due to drought in those times. Diseases in those days would kill thousands of people. In today’s times also, we have floods and droughts, but the aftermaths are managed pretty well. A few years ago rainfall was deficient in Maharashtra. Government transported water from water excess regions of the state to the shortage regions by freight trains. Many such trains carried water over a period. The situation was brought under control till the next monsoon rains arrived. Droughts today are more of distribution issues. India cultivates vast amounts of food. Many times our problems are commercial, like framers not getting good rates, storage godowns issues, and distribution issues in general. Why was the old period then called golden age?  

Currently, I am reading a book by an Israeli author Yuval Noah Haran, called Homo Deus. The book talks of the Green Lawns as power centres. How can the lawns be power centres? The lawns came into vogue about 300 years back. In those times, only the nobility could afford such lawns. The lawns required land, people to maintain them, a lot of fresh water, fertilisers and so on. The lawns became cost centres, and there were no returns from them. The lawns gave the owners bragging rights. What is the significance of the lawn story?  

In the recent past human race is galloping towards newer discoveries, newer methods of doing things. The last twenty years are the peak of this activity, especially with the advent of the internet. In the olden days, life was very predictable. What would happen after 50 years? Except for a few floods, famines and a war or two, things would not change much; this situation existed until about three centuries back. Now it is impossible to predict where the world will move in the next 15 or 20 years. Everything has changed. The bragging rights for lawns continued for centuries; slowly lawns became possible in middle-class homes too! But now if you are lucky, the bragging rights for some new invention could be there only for ten years.  

Last year we had a significant flood in Kerala; the whole nation and part of the world came together to help Kerala come back to normal in a couple of months. Yes, there were losses of both material and human. But rebuilding is being done quickly. Nowadays, in India there are no famines; there may be shortages of a few things. It is a simple question of redistribution of that item to shortage zone. But we consider India as a moderately advanced nation. India’s agriculture and other products can feed the population of 1.2 billion; some of the items like grapes, sugar, flowers are even exported. Days of people dying in millions due to cholera or plague are gone. Today the epidemic is declared even if a few hundred are affected and controlled fast.  

In olden days, dying of loose motions and fever was very common. Even the kings and the queens used to die of such diseases. Today, even a worker with low income gets easily cured of such “simple” to handle ailments. Today, millions of people get tap water, most large cities have underground drainages, though millions live in such towns. Transportation of today’s time, communication of the current era are incomparable with those of the golden age. Classic examples of the progress of today’s times are how people live in areas where there is heavy snowfall; how people comfortably live in desert areas.

We study history and try to analyse what mistakes were made during that time. This helps us with a better tomorrow. But nobody can predict tomorrow, especially in today’s average times. I am calling Indian society as a moderately developed society compared to the rest of the world. But why historians keep on calling Egyptians and Harappan times as a golden era?  

To me, today’s times are golden times, till we move in a newer better era. But we will do well not to call any period as a golden era. If we think of some era as the ultimate thing, we take time in accepting modern and better technologies, processes and products. We still keep on talking about how the systems and technologies were better in olden days. By doing this, we make the error of accepting better stuff and delay its implementation. We keep on talking of Pushpak Viman whereas we still cannot make a quality aeroplane in India. We speak to progress in medicine in olden days, especially of Ayurveda. But there has been no research, and all new inventions are made in Allopathy. Things are going to change at a faster and faster pace. Let us accept them with an open mind and heart and make our life happier, more comfortable and maybe longer.  

 

 

 

 

 

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Coping with Death!

Birth and Death are the two absolute truths in life, there is no other side to these events. The birth in any family brings joy, and death brings sadness. In the case of birth, it is expected to be a natural progression after marriage. But in certain couples giving birth to a child becomes a very complex event. But in the end, it is a joyful event.  

Any death is a sad, dreadful event. Humans expect everything to happen sequentially. Humans hope that the parents will die first then the children and then grandchildren and so on. As we know, life is not so simplistic. Deaths can happen in any which way and are pre-decided by destiny. Though we know that such a catastrophe can happen, nobody is ever prepared for the break in the death sequence. In fact, we are not ready to accept death. Death is a daily occurrence in life, we directly get involved in very few of them. In India, when a death occurs, the body is generally cremated. In many communities, children and women do not go the cremation ground. We tend to shield them from death. This lack of mental preparation makes it difficult to handle death. 

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This morning, I received an email from a close friend of mine, about the sudden death of his 35-year-old niece. She died in her sleep. The reason was a heart attack. The family is devastated. I immediately called him, and we talked about life. Both he and I have gone through cancer treatment. Though the onset was not significant in both our cases, it was a sudden reminder sent by destiny to both of us. It was a wakeup call saying that we are not infallible. Both of us are nearing 70 and have generally lived a happy life. But this out of turn death has really shaken me. I had met his niece a couple of times, and I remember her as a lively person. How can such things happen? How her parents, siblings, husband and other close ones must be feeling? I am not really sure that in such deaths, how even the great healer time will help. 

Another event occurred a month and a half back, when a 42-year-old son of another close friend of mine, died of a heart attack. The son had a heart condition and was taking treatment under expert guidance. The therapy included some exercise. He was told to exercise in the hospital gym. While exercising he collapsed and died. People were around him, he was only 100 meters from the emergency room. He could not be taken there; he died before that.  

It can happen that if the child were 4 or 6 years old, others might understand the grief caused by death. Some parents might feel that life is unjust to them and will think that all the sense of Godly support is over glorified; it will not be a surprise if they challenge the spiritual beliefs. When an adult dies, the person is still a child for the parent, whatever the age. Outsiders may not understand the shock of such deaths on parents. In such cases, it can so happen that the sympathy and focus may shift to the spouse or the children of the person who died. People sometimes fail to realise that the bond between the child and the parent is powerful, whatever the age. In such a case, the parent cannot be deprived of the right to grieve.  

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When an adult dies, the life of his/her parents becomes more complicated as the parents are already going through a series of problems. Parents may be able to understand at some stage after the death that love is stronger than death, though it cannot stop the death from happening. One thing is sure, love ensures that attempts made by death to separate people from love do not succeed. Death cannot take away memories. Maybe life is stronger than death.   

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Each religion, each philosophy has thought processes which provide solace to humans who go through extreme events like the death of an adult child. How far these are successful, I am not really sure. Such incidents have their own vagaries. It can happen that parents may not be involved in funeral arrangements for different reasons. Parents may not be in conditions to travel. Parents’ relations and interactions with the child’s spouse and the grandchildren may change, sometimes permanently. It is possible that they may be required to grieve commonly, with the spouse of the child and their other relatives. Private grief at that time may not happen. As seniors, parents may have to support younger members in the family, by keeping their own pain aside. Things can be tough.  

Practical aspects will be dependent on whether the child was married or unmarried. In the case of an unmarried child, all the responsibility about banks, investments, properties, informing the employers will be with parents. The friends of the child will want to help, take it. Don’t forget that friends are also grieving and want to help. I am sure that the most challenging part will be how to handle the future. Every individual will do it differently, but a good idea will be to plan.  

When I write a blog, I try to come to a conclusion at the end of the blog. But this blog is not a blog, in the real sense. I have just written down thoughts as they came to my mind. I pray to HIM to give strength to the family and friends to somehow cope with such stressful events. I also pray to the almighty, that fewer families are required to face such catastrophes!

 

 

 

 

 

MeToo or IToo!

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MeToo movement has caught everybody’s imagination, recently. We all know what MeToo is, but do you know what IToo is? IToo is an old movement followed by many experts who are “experts” without being experts! Expert is defined as a person who is very knowledgeable about or skilful in a particular area.

The recent trend is, people join the Google Academy and become experts in any field they want. I will tell you how the thought about writing on this subject came in my mind. I have selected the topic IToo because there are people who market themselves as experts in specific fields. They come in touch with some subject because of their career and start calling themselves experts. They are always in contact with newspaper reporters, they cultivate people who write in newspapers and magazines. Over a period, experts are named scientist or senior scientist and so on. I am not sure, but after some time “experts” really start thinking that they are the real experts.

I heard an interesting story from a friend. We have our homegrown “experts” in Pune. One computer expert went to the bay area on a visit, and he was invited to speak, by a group of people predominantly from Pune. (He is not known outside Pune) During the speech, he asked a question, “How many of you are from Pune”? Many hands went up. He asked them, “Now that you have lived away from Pune, for many years, which three top things you remember about Pune.” The obvious replies were Chitale Mithai wale, (Sweets Shop) PNG Jewellers, and Vaishali restaurant. Vaishali is Pune’s iconic adda for more than 50 years. It is a joint which serves mainly south Indian food like Dosa, Idli. Any of our brethren coming from foreign countries must visit Vaishali at least once during the visit. Our expert, after coming back told his Rotarian friends that he was surprised to see the great value of Vaishali brand name! Now can a Pune person not knowing  about Vaishali brand be called a Pune person? Experts are supposed to know a few things about things outside their area of expertise. But not knowing Vaisahli…. Then he went and met the owner of Vaishali and told him that he wants to honour him on behalf of his Rotary club because of such achievement. The owner said, “I don’t have time for such functions.”  They honoured him at the restaurant itself!

Such stories are found everywhere. Generally, people are decent hence they don’t challenge the pseudo’s about the knowledge. But why people want to be called an expert when they are not? I would not like to call myself an expert in anything because I am not! Why do you want to be known as, what you are not?

I found this interesting table which shows traits of pseudos in the field of science.

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Another field, where there are many self-professed experts, is diets! There are many dietary experts in this profession; their number is going up because of WA and FB. People will share before and after photos, write stories about the path they have followed. My meagre knowledge on the subject tells me a simple method. The human body is designed in such a way that human health depends on what we eat and what we spend in terms of calories. When there is a mismatch, either you lose weight, or you gain weight. Ok, it is not as simple as I have written. There are many other factors but generally what I have written is obvious. There are experts like Dixit, Bose, Tripathi, Divekar. The latest name I have been reading is Joshi. He is giving his theories, and according to him all other “experts” are a hoax or bogus. There is another group (in fact it is a company) which has created the “real expert” groups. They give you a book called “What Doctors do not know and understand” or some such name, to begin with. I thought that Doctors are the ones who study medicine, they study about our body, they generally know the basics. Some may become surgeons, others pathologists and so on. But I feel that they would know more than the “experts”, about our bodies in general.

There has been another group of experts. People from this group are generally from art, cinema etc. As being the members of such a visible group, they think that they are experts in the field of human freedom, censorship etc. They publicly speak like socialists or communists! They treat anybody and everybody from the government as a pariah. These experts don’t mind using government support for foreign jaunts to attend festivals. They do not remember getting land or homes from the government at a meagre price or maybe free. But when it suits them, they suddenly start attacking the government. Recently, an eminent personality from Pune was invited for a talk about an artist and his paintings. This gentleman started talking about how the government is secretly forcing censorship on the art groups, the selection of venues and so on. The organisers had called him to talk about the artist. The committee chief stood up while our friend was bombarding the government. The chief suggested, “We are meeting here to listen to you speak about an artist and your equation with the artist. So please stick to the main subject.” The gentleman got upset and said, “If I have no freedom to talk what I want, why did you call me?” The answer was simple he was told. “Sir, we have called you to talk about the artist and the function is not about government policies. You are free to talk about these policies on the right forum!” He is giving interviews and blaming the organisers for their censorship and high handedness.

There is a saying in Sanskrit, “येन केन प्रकारेण प्रसिध्द पुरुषो भवेत ”! This means that try and remain in public eye by hook or by crook! These “experts” become very much addicted to remaining in the public domain. They try and get some business or work out of their showmanship, but at some stage, their shallow knowledge gets exposed. Their changing the tune to suit the situation is proven many times. They do it only for their own benefit. Self comes before everything else.

Let me share with you an anecdote. In the early days of computers a personal computer was the norm. An “expert” had bought five computers. Someone like me asked him about the multitasking capabilities of the systems. Without blinking an eyelid, he said, “Oh, I have hired separate computer operators for each shift!”

Be Angry at Anger!

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We have so many emotions like sadness, happiness, anger, sourness and so on. All the feelings are universal, but like everything in the world, in various countries emotions are expressed differently. Anger is an emotion that can sometimes make or break people. Some people cannot control their anger over small things, and the result can be devastating. How does the anger start? How far reaching the result of anger can be? Is it worth getting very angry in a situation?

I don’t think so. I am not an angry person, but I have a habit of calling a spade a spade. When I interact with some not so smart people regularly, at some stage, I lose my temper. But I am lucky that this anger stays with me for a small duration. But when some brilliant people do not understand something during a discussion, I get upset and utter something which I should avoid. I am hoping to reduce it, but it is a reflex reaction. I think that venting what you want to say is important; unless we vent it out, we will seethe with it.

I have sometimes felt furious in business meetings, but somehow I have managed not to let it damage my business. But these are infrequent occasions. But on a personal level, I tend to handle such situations without getting angry. Once I was driving during monsoon time; it was not raining, but some dirt got splashed on my glass. I operated the wipers. When I stopped at the next signal a guy on a bike came from the left side and started banging my window on the other side. I wound the glass down and asked him the reason. While I used the wiper, some water got sprinkled on him as my water nozzle position had got disturbed. He told me this. Immediately I profusely apologised with folded hands and said to him that before reaching the office I would get the nozzle corrected, and I did get it fixed. By apologising, I avoided the angry exchange of words.

Am I talking of anger management? Or am I talking anger containment? What is the reason we get angry? Getting angry is a natural emotion; if we can contain it then we may not be required to manage it! When we feel that something unfair or unjust has happened, our blood pressure goes up, and we get mad. Add to this the way our brain is wired; if our family was an angry family when we grew up, we are likely to get angry fast. There is the main culprit we have not discussed, the Ego! The words, “When I say something how can xxx say no to me?” Fine, you have said something, but there are different views on the subject. We forget this, and we get angry. People are going to give their opinions.

I was reading about the expression of anger in different countries in the world and was interesting to find that there is a great variety.

Some sportsmen show their anger when they perform poorly or exceedingly well. When doing well, it is more of excitement.

Germans use a term slap in the face or backpfeifengesicht. “It’s like you’re so furious with someone that you look at their face, and it’s as if their face is urging you to punch them. In Marathi, there is an equivalent term, “कानाखाली द्यावी असं वाटल !”

Ancient Greeks differentiated between short-term anger that doesn’t stick around (ὀργή or orge ) with long-lasting anger that’s permanent (μῆνις or menin).

In India, we have different anger for politicians or your boss. Indians keep personal and political anger separate. Indians also describe anger as sizzling anger as if some vegetable is thrown in boiling oil while cooking.

Labelling your anger is one of the ways of controlling anger. Like different teas and wines, the anger is also of a different variety. What this technique does is to ask yourself to define and name the type of your anger during various incidents. When we think about it, analyse it our mind goes away from actual anger. We have to reason and find out why you got angry. During this thinking, you may find that you made an error of judgment by getting angry. Sometimes you may find out that the intensity of anger was way above what was required. This thought process can be described as a tool which regulates your anger. It is equivalent of counting ten or maybe hundred! It is equal to deep breathing which allows us to divert our mind elsewhere.

During work, we come across some problems. Some define the issue as a huge problem. But when this problem is broken down into small units, for each module involved in the process, many time we realise that the scale is not massive. Similarly, if we break the event when we get angry, step by step breaking down may show that we should have got mad for only a part of that event.

You can name your anger and then it is possible that you will be able to avoid incidents of anger. I have talked about getting angry at some people who are not wise enough. They may keep on asking questions and still may end up making mistakes. I call this stupid anger. Such incidents used to happen with a colleague, regularly in office. He was required to go out of the office for work. I decided that I must accept that he is going to ask questions even if instructions are given in writing. I accepted this fact and asked him to give me a call any time he had doubts. He would call me in 80 % cases for taking a final decision about size, colour, price et al. I consoled myself by saying if he had not called in those 80 % cases, what could have happened. If he had erred in all these cases, I would have been much angrier. Now by calling me, he was only following my instructions! Anger events came down drastically.

Sometimes we want results quickly. I used to push my programming guys. In a hurry, they would say that the work was done. Hurry only led to customer issues later, leading to angry discussions. I stopped asking them and started allocating time estimate as per their judgment plus 25% more time. In 90 % of cases, there were no customer complaints hence less angry discussions. You can call this passenger train anger.

Like instant coffee, there is instant anger too! I used to get angry in some situations instantly. Maturity made me think of futility of such instant anger. Recently, I walked off a nasty situation. When I discussed this with a young friend, he said, “backpfeifengesicht or कानाखाली द्यावी असं वाटल !” Yes, maturity is important especially in work atmosphere where a lot of people are reporting to you. At the back of the mind, we are aware that colleagues will not argue hence one tends to get angry a little more frequently. But in such cases, we should think about empathy. Do we get angry with your near and dear ones so quickly? Do you get angry quickly with your pets? If the answer to both questions is “No” ….

When we meet to have a drink together, we raise the glasses and clink them to say cheers! In the angry situations, train your angry mind and cool mind to raise the glass and say a big CHEERS!

Bappa’s Constitution!

Yesterday when we were going out, in the car Rhea asked a question to my daughter Priya.  She said, “Is it our flags birthday today?” It was not a simple question. Priya said, “No, it is our constitution’ s birthday!” For a five-year-old, the next inevitable question was what the constitution is? Priya said, “It is a rule book for all of us.” Rhea then asked, “Did Bappa write the rule book?” Bappa is the Marathi word for God.

In childhood everything is very straightforward, that includes life. Good things in life happen because of God, and the bad things occur because of the demons. They define everything as  0 & 1; things are either black or white. There are no shades of grey. Childhood naivety is responsible for an easy life. For kids, there are no complexities. When life is good, they laugh when it is sad, they cry.

But adult life is tricky and where everything is in shades of grey. “Fifty Shades of Grey” is a book representing today’s times. For the benefit of those who are not aware of this book here is the link.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifty_Shades_of_Grey

This book is about sex, control, wealth and combination thereof. Wealth is about ownership. The concept of ownership started ten thousand years back when humans started organised farming.  With farming, the nomadic tribes began to settle into areas near the water, rivers or lakes. Many settlements also started near the sea, but the drinking water was a problem initially.

With the ownership started the issues of controls. In other species like monkeys, controls were mainly about leadership and females. There were no other assets hence things were and still are simple. But today humans need to control the area, then the city, state and nation. Further people want to control other countries. Controls are taken to get natural assets.

I was just trying to imagine a naïve world as seen through the child’s eyes. Life would be simple. Children can play, chat with each other. There are no language barriers; they don’t have territory issues. We should use Google Earth, metaphorically. When we open  Google Earth and see our home,  we can get to know the house distinctly when we zoom in. Start zooming out.  First, we see our colony, then the area, then the city.

Further zooming shows us the state where we live, then the nation. As we zoom further, we see our continent — finally the whole earth. What is the meaning of this change? These images take us away from the barriers we have created, the barriers crash. We go away from our small abode; we are taken far away from the language spoken and finally from the geography of our nation and the continent. We need to rewrite the Bappa’s Rules, as seen from Google earth as there are unnecessary barriers. We need to think out of box. We should become naïve like small kids.

If you think that Pramod is trying to visualise utopia because I am trying to say something that is impossible; no sir! It has already happened to some extent in our world. What is the European Union (EU) after all? EU was born in 1993. Most of the European nations joined the EU or agreed to be part of EU and share the same rules, currency, visa and so on. They have managed to remove the unnatural barriers. A couple of years back when we took an Alpine tour, we started in Germany, went to Austria, then to Italy.

Further, we travelled to Switzerland, again to Italy and back to Switzerland. Finally, we took our flight back home from Frankfurt in Germany. No border checks, no customs inspection, we could use the same currency Euro in most of the places.

When a big continent like Europe can survive using naïve rules where they tried to remove many unnatural barriers, I am sure other nations can also work to remove the obstacles. There are problems in EU, but questions had been worse when there were more barriers. Imagine a world free of passports, visas, x-ray machines and so on! There are problems galore like terrorism, refugees who made it necessary to create such complex systems.

When she was younger, Rhea had asked me one question in a Mandir. “How does the Bappa know when I ask him to make me wise, in Marathi? Does he understand all languages?” Bappa or God is our creation. He does not bother about barriers; he understands every language in the world. We know him as God, Jesus, Mohamad. The different species look different; some fly, some are underwater. Some are two-legged, most are four-legged. Except for humans, all other species follow nature’s rules. They die when they die. Nobody takes them to hospitals. Birth and death are natural processes and should be accepted as they come. I am sure some of the species must be feeling sad when one of them dies.

In many cases, when their time has come to go, they only go away from the clan and die.

Which constitution or the rules are the correct rules or better rules? Bappa’s Constitution or the nations’ constitution? A good idea will be to have a mix of the two the way EU manages their affairs. The nation should follow local rules for running the nation and God’s rule for international relations. Writing these two lines is quite simple and bringing them into practice will be tough.

Coming to the naivety of 50 years back, what has changed in the social fabric? In India, there used to regular riots between people of different religions, the number of riots have come down. But the social atmosphere, these days, is always either tense or very tense! In the United States, African Americans were not allowed to take part in beauty pageants. There used to be open discrimination till late ’60 s of the last centuries. Discrimination has reduced somewhat, but I feel that people have become subtle, they have not changed. The coarseness in the Americas is on the rise for the last few years. The stressed social fabric of current times is due to jingoistic social media and political atmosphere both in India and the USA.

Galloping technology is supposed to bring ease of living, but it also brings in a big gap in rich and poor! Besides the usual reasons for a socially tense atmosphere, this divide of haves and have nots is going to add to the stress — all the more reason why Bappa’s Constitution will make more sense.

Let us all pray to him in any language (he will understand) to bring naivety back to our society. Pray to Him to teach us to improve ourselves so we can remove disparity, hate and barriers!

Rhea, to me Bappa’s rules are always good!

Birds and the bees!

In the politically correct language when parents are supposed to talk to their children about sex education, the term “birds and the bees” is used. That reminds me of a joke. A Lord from London goes to Paris with his son for a week. The son has turned 18. After coming back, her ladyship is after the lord to teach their son about the Birds and Bees. Reluctantly he calls his son to his library. He says, “Son, we went to Paris to the night club. We had some drinks and later on met some beautiful ladies. Ahm! Next day, we had breakfast with them and later on went for a swim with them.” The son is confused and said, “Dad, what are you trying to tell me?”. The Lordship says, “That is what the birds and bees do!”

Human has many common traits with other living things. All are born and die. They procreate, eat food, travel, some species migrate. The main difference in humans and others is the development of brain and thumb on the hand. These two make humans different and superior to most species. Species coming closest to humans are monkeys. Humans are supposed to be enhanced version of monkeys.

I was thinking about how advanced we humans are but some things we do, always put me off! Why does the “advanced” brain work awkwardly and nastily these days? Humans tend to look down upon those with “lesser” brains! My favourite activity in the day is to watch birds keeping themselves busy. How do they know where to fly for their food and water? Which GPS are they using to travel back and forth to their destinations every day? Which alarm clock are they using to wake up every day on time? How do they understand the Sun’s movements? How do they understand Equinox and Solstice? Do the non-migratory birds change their daily travel times in line with the Sun’s moves?  How do the migratory birds have advanced GPS to travel thousands of miles, back and forth every year? They also understand Equinox and Solstice. Are they with “lesser” brain?

We can learn many things from other species. With our brains, we should be selective and pick-up good stuff from them. Take for example the Cat. It always tries to cover its poo with something. Some unfortunate humans don’t have access to toilets but they never even try to hide their poo after they are done. The other day I was watching some pigeons. In the next condo, there was an overflow of water on the terrace. The pigeons were making use of the water pool that had formed, to take their bath. But they made sure that water did not splash anywhere. They were doing it in an orderly manner. Pigeons don’t get such poodles every day. Look at the frenzy we have on common water taps. People have been murdered over the fight for the right to collect water on public taps.

I am sure the other species have their fights. There are altercations in humans too! But we humans sometimes cross the limits. I go with my daughter Priya to drop Rhea for school. With Sun’s direction change, the Sun rays on that spot where we wait were very bright. So, we stood inside an apartment complex, a few feet inside their area for shed. A man came, he was a resident there. He started speaking nastily about our entering their premises without permission etc. Priya and Rhea immediately started walking out. On the way out, I said, “Sir, we were standing only to avoid the bright Sun, for the child”! Something clicked in him. He started a tirade which took a nasty direction. It was a monologue which ended with a statement that we were trespassing. I said, “Sir, why don’t you call the Police and register a complaint!” The bus came, and we left that area. Friends, you will be shocked when you know the words he used! I have only written politically correct words.

I am sure the other species have their unwritten rules, which they understand. We see some battles and fights among them about the ownership of the territory. But we brainy humans have made better and or more sensible rules to create better habitat. We have an elementary practice of giving the right of way to the pedestrians, to cross on the zebra crossings. Near our home, we have a zebra crossing, freshly repainted. I was crossing the road, and a motorcycle guy came at a speed. I was indicating to him to slow down. But he shouted at me and said, “Don’t you see I am going at speed, you xxx!” He zipped in front of me.

I have seen the cats feeding the kittens, the birds giving food to their babies! Do they check WhatsApp while feeding them? Are they sometimes late because they have attended kitty parties? Do parents not have time to take their kids to doctors because “Oh! They are in IT!”

I am sure there are some extraordinarily capable and as well as dull species like we have in humans. But to my knowledge, they never fail to do their basic things. The nests they build, the colonies they create, the hives they construct are the classic examples of the essential work done by species. You will never see a bee without a hive, or an ant without the hill unless of course damaged by us smart humans. Why don’t we follow our primary responsibilities? Why do we create a situation where a large group of humans will be homeless? Another large group will be forced to live in poverty? Is it because a small group of people own substantial assets?

Keeping track of our health is in our hands. But we flog our bodies so much that we fall sick. Getting sufficient sleep is one the primary requirement. But we humans are experts in getting less sleep. Only rarely this sleep deficit can be work-related, but mostly it is fun related like partying and drinking. I will share with you how Polar Bears stick with nature’s requirements. Due to extreme cold, they are required to go into hibernation. Scientists have done studies about the sleeping habits of the bears. They found out a fascinating phenomenon. The polar bears in an area go into hibernation precisely at the same time, though they may be dispersed over an area! Going into hibernation at the precisely same time is impressive. Lights out in the army barracks?

The human race has progressed a lot compared to other species. But with these developments, we do some things that cross the limits of wasting time! Syncing with nature and enjoying the fruits of development and research can go hand in hand, provided we want to do it. Let’s be humane and not only humans!

In future, I am sure that whenever the Lordship tells his son about the birds and the bees, he will also say how the other species rest well, how they take care of their young ones, how they do not flog their body to enjoy vices. He will also suggest to his son to be in sync with nature!

Happy Republic Day!

Ram Mohan fun days in ’60 s! -Part 1

 

Folks  this was our prayer or our प्रार्थना in Ram Mohan School!

This week appears to be one full of nostalgia. At the beginning of the week, my school friend Pradeep Gavankar was in India; we met in Thane over lunch with friends. Later my brother Shrikant (1959 batch) came and stayed with me. Both live in the US, and both were in Ram Mohan school in Girgaum, Bombay. Naturally, we remembered and chatted about friends and the school. I am into a long nostalgic trip, and I thought the only way to try and come out of the trip is to write a few things in the form of a blog. So here goes.

I joined Ram Mohan in the 7th grade and passed my SSC exam in 1965. It was sheer fun all through. First and foremost, I was not a “scholar” and was considered one of the naughtier students. Most teachers were ok with the naughtiness. When I overdid it, it was gifted a slap on the hand or standing outside the classroom! After joining the school my first friend was Abhay Kelkar, he was very similar to me in most things. We had a great time all through those years. In a few days after joining the school, I had a reunion with Pradeep Gavankar who traveled with me on the same bus. There were rarely any school buses in those days; I would catch a bus at 6.15 in the morning.

Our judgment about teachers was restricted to understanding if they were interested in us; yes they were all interested. We were too young to understand as they were all excellent humans and humane to the core. But we rarely found any teachers who showed their human traits while dealing with us. The whole world was so bright, so shiny for us that we never realized that teachers could have had their problems in life. For us, nobody had any issues in this world.

Among the teachers, we had Kuwadekar sir, who had a great smile and would wear coats made of Sharkskin fabric. Then we had Ashok Karhade sir; he was very young and pleasant. He died at a young age, a few years later. We had Vaidya teacher, she was always smartly dressed, and she had different wristwatches of various shapes. That was a real novelty in those days. I forgot to mention. We used to call male teachers as “Sir” and lady teachers as “Teacher”!

I have seen the world, and I am now nearing 70. I can proudly say that we were lucky to have some outstanding teachers in the school! Mayekar sir for English, Joshi sir for Sanskrit and Kundaikar sir for Maths are some of the names that come to the fore. Pandit sir for Hindi was equally good. In those days, we did not understand much, but now I know the dedication these teachers showed.

I have some different memories of the Ram Mohan. Apte sir was my father’s classmate in S P College in Pune. When we went for a trip to Matheran while in SSC, he told me the story of how he remained thin due to some ragging during his college days. Wadke teacher never taught me as I came in Ram Mohan in the 7th grade. But I somehow had a special affinity for her as she was involved in sports activities on the grounds on Marine Drive. Her daughter Mangal was my classmate, but I remained in sporadic communication with her. More than ten years back she came and stayed with me in Pune, for a couple of days.

Another exciting memory that I have is an incident. On the last day of a month, one of the teachers could not take a class due to ill health. We made a lot of दंगा (noise). Kukalkar teacher was passing by, and she came to the class. She punished us by making us wait for the full timing of the school. On the last day of the month (it is called महिना अख़ेर in Marathi) we used to have half day school. After about 30 minutes I told all that I will manage to get us free. I went to the teacher and said, “ Teacher, we don’t have tiffin as the school timing was half day! We are hungry. Please let us go.” Kukalkar teacher was a very kind person. As I broke the rule by leaving the class, she punished me with two slaps on my hand. Then she said with false anger, “Ok! You all now go home!”

Looking back, the teachers had a lot of work besides teaching. There was administrative work about the students. Managing teacher training courses, checking notebooks for homework. Setting and correcting papers for four examinations held during the year. They used to help and guide students in elocution competitions, dramatics, annual gathering, sports. Ram Mohan did not have own ground, so we were taken to Wilson high school ground, a mile away from school! There we would perform marching practice. Marching practice was the responsibility of the PT teachers. That reminds me of Malekar sir! Outwardly he looked very tough, but if students had some personal issue, he would guide them with love. I met him once after passing out, and he was very  soft with me! He reminded how I used to be naughty during PT period too!

From the friends, I remember Prakash Naik distinctly. He used to play cricket for school. Later on, he played for Bombay University along with Sunil Gavaskar. He was very agile on his feet and a great prankster. He used to make paper arrows in class and had a good aim. Once a while, he would fit a pin the front! This made the arrow a lethal weapon. Another thing is that he would always be having bandages somewhere on the body. I remember one incident specifically. He had a fight with someone. Prakash was chased for two stories and was cornered in one of the classrooms. This happened during snack break. We thought that finally Prakash was caught by someone. You will not believe what happened next. Prakash simply ran towards a window, slipped out of it, he grabbed the rain pipe and slid back to the ground floor! All of us were aghast!

I remember that I used to remain away from essay writing competitions, elocution competitions. But later in my life, I had created a lot of documents. I conducted meetings and had to speak and explain various subjects regularly. When I picked up these skills, I am not sure. I find that blogging and essay writing are quite similar. But I remember one thing; even the school I was a good storyteller!

I can go on and on and on. I will share a great surprise I had in school. One of the teachers thought I was good enough to sing सुसंगती सदा…

Maybe that was the only way to keep me away from mischief!