Brightness and Darkness!

There is always a light at the end of the tunnel!

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Humans with their evolved brain look at the same thing in different ways. Someone looks at the bright side of things, but other person will only visualize dark side in the same situation or event.

A couple of days back I came across a poem, संध्या (The evening) by Gyanpith Award Winner Kusumagraj, (कुसुमाग्रज ) a well-known Marathi poet. In that poem he has mentioned about our life. He says, “The dawn in life was of course beautiful. But I find the beauty of setting Sun even more charming! The Sun during its day time journey was satisfying, guiding all with its brightness, helping the birds looking for their daily tidbits to eat; it was also helping these birds in looking for their path. However, I find it more exalting to see the enchanted birds coming back to their nest as the Sun is setting towards pure darkness. The satisfied souls are coming back to rest in their nest is more satisfying to me.” The poet is more charmed by the setting Sun or the twilight years of his life; this may be because of pure soul pleasing darkness brought in by the evening!

On the other side, there is a poem by Bha. Ra. Tambe, (भा. रा. ताम्बे) another famous poet in Marathi. Instead of welcoming the twilight phase as done by Kusumagraj, Tambe is sad, soulful about the twilight phase of life! मावळत्या दिनकरा (To the setting Sun) is the poem in which he talks about the pragmatic way of life where rising Sun is always loved but nobody bothers about the setting Sun! The world forgets that the same setting Sun was once a rising Sun!  People will bow to the rising Sun and ignore the setting Sun. The good deeds of a person are simply forgotten, the person maybe ignored as this world shows no gratitude to the previous good deeds. The world will talk about the goodness only on the face of the setting Sun but behind his back he is nobody! This raises a question whether for good deeds performed does a person expect gratitude? If done selflessly, then this feeling of rejection will not be there. Here is the song मावळत्या दिनकरा

I always want to understand how a poet writes a poem? Is it dependent on time period the poet lived in? Is it dependent on the mood of the poet at the time of writing the poem? Is it based on certain experiences that poet has lived? It is very difficult to say. Most probably it is dependent on the mood of the poet at that juncture. Tambe was born in 19 th century and died in 1941 whereas Kusumagraj was born in 1912 and died in 1999. It is possible that in his youth Kusumagraj’s mood must have been elated as India got independence. Whereas Tambe lived all his life under the British Raj. This could indicate diametrically opposite thoughts on  the same  subject.

But again, if we read some other poems of Tambe he appears to be in an elated mood e.g. पिवळे तांबुस ऊन कोवळे पसरे चौफेर. This poem is simply happy song of life. He sees happily swaying fields, birds chirping. He sees the swaying flowers as if they are swinging on branches. कुठे बुडाला पलिकडिल तो सोन्याचा गोळा is the last line in the poem. The same setting Sun appears to him like shining golden globe! This is the beauty of human nature, same event from the nature seems different to the person  at different times, in different moods.

I read a poem by a friend, where a lover is looking at his beloved from a distance. There was a tiff between the two and after the usual lover’s tiff, the couple is being pulled back to each other. The lover is worried to see the tears in the eyes of his beloved. When they meet and hug, he tries to help her and lovingly tells her, “Don’t you worry my beloved, now that I am here. No tears please!” The beloved smiles and still has copious tears in her eyes. She says,” Darling, these were never tears of sorrow, but were tears of joy! When you were away from me, I always saw your face in front of my eyes and I could not stop my tears of joy!” The same tears were seen by two sides in diametrically opposite way.

Why does this happen? Is it due to negativity? Is it due to something else? It is  because the mind is difficult to predict.  I don’t know.  In the lover’s tiff  above, both expressed their thoughts with equal love but in opposite words. Our life is similar, made up of bright days and dark nights! Some periods in life are bright and some are dark; our mood changes to match this change in the life’s ways.  This is how the life changes form bright to dark phase and there is generally light at the end of tunnel to bring back the brightness! Bha. Ra. Tambe, (भा. रा. ताम्बे) has shown to us the effect of mood changes in his treatment to the setting Sun! The world around us is same all the time; our perception and mood make it dark or bright! So when the dark clouds come in the sky or in our life, look at the bright side. These clouds are going bring the rains! And then of course, the Sunshine! 

Diet! Don’t repair, if it ain’t broken!

Don’t fiddle around with your body if it is not needed!

Don’t repair, if it ain’t broken! This is a statement that needs to be uttered many times in our life! Internet and Google Baba have made it easy for people to understand the stuff and get information about almost anything. This also makes human race suddenly “smart and intelligent”! Selecting people for Nobel prizes is going to be tough in future as there are millions of people who seem be experts on almost all the subjects under the Sun!  

 

maharashtrian-full-meal

This thought came to my mind as I took part in a discussion on a WhatsApp group. Except me probably most knew a lot more on the subject of dieting! Majority had experience of 2 to 6 months on the subject. They said the diet A is a fantastic diet and works wonders. There were of course some hidden gems who did not take part in the discussion. I am not talking about any specific diet, its pros and cons! Its advantages and disadvantages! But above image which shows typical Maharashtrian square meal, if followed regularly, will ensure that no special dieting is required. We are a group of people around the age of 70. Some of us are thin and few others are plump, but only two are obese; some are fit and others are not so fit! I don’t know the actual figures but my assumption is that at least 50% from our group have some medical issue or the other, or maybe they have a history of some major health problem from the past. My judgment is that 10 to15% are lucky enough to have remained successfully free of major health issues.  

There are health experts or maybe the diet experts. Some are doctors and most are non-doctors. From what I read, majority of these are not from medical background. I had my basic question during the discussion. Who should diet? What is the age at which we should start this new regime? Under whose guidance should we start the diet? Suppose someone has diabetes issue, then should that person follow a diet which says that you must eat every 8 hours and the eating time should be not more than 55 minutes at a time? Suppose one is required to take diabetes medication three to four times a day, then it is an obvious no no! To me a majority from the group will be ineligible. Then why is it that people want to start something new, which can have effect on their health directly? Is it only for weight loss? Or is it for something else too? Is this something about novelty because people have too much time on hand? The people who have started this diet, to my knowledge, did not appear to have any weight issue.  My worry is that at our age, our body looks fit and may have dormant problems, waiting to happen hence we should be careful when start something new, and unproven method. It is claimed that a diet eliminates diabetes tablets. What is the issue if you are required to take a couple of tablets a day? Heavens are not going to fall on you!

As against this some people seriously need to do something about their weight, classic case was that of Anant Ambani. He lost 108 kgs in 18 months by natural process. https://www.indiatimes.com/health/buzz/here-s-the-secret-behind-anant-ambani-s-stunning-weight-loss-253270.html 

Of course, later on a well-known diet expert was declared to be his advisor, which was untrue. I am sure Anant must have followed a very strict regimen under medical guidance. His was a classic case where drastic things were needed under medical guidance.  

We need to understand something. Doctors are also people like you and me; they are also likely to make errors. Dieticians are not our regular doctors; how will they know about individual medical issues and about our body? I will give you an example of how tricky the situation is. I came to know about a person who had a medical issue, called vertigo. He is elder to me by about six years and lives abroad. When the vertigo attack comes, the person feels blank, dizzy, faint and gets vomiting bout for about ½ hour. Tablet prescribed to him can then be taken, once he stabilizes. I asked a question to known doctors in Pune, most said that he should stop driving, a couple of them said, no comments! But the treating doctors have told him to continue driving! (60 miles an hour?) If there is so much difference of opinion among the doctors on a serious health condition, should we start something new, as yet unproven, at the age of 70?  

To my understanding, at the age of around 70 our body has taken a lot of beating; under Indian conditions all this group is “driving on reserve tank”, using two-wheeler terminology. Average life expectancy in India is 65 years! Why not enjoy bonus life unless someone’s idea of enjoying life is going on a diet, as yet unproven! Try not to become a guinea pig, nobody is forcing you. During the discussion on WhatsApp group, a friend Sudhakar said, he feels pangs of hunger in the early morning phase. Then why? Why not enjoy your early morning chai, omelet, or fruit or whatever you eat. I am not aware if he has any specific health issue. I am sure that he is smart enough and won’t start something different if he has some health issues.  

I am aware of another diet being strongly followed in Pune. It is does not talk about timings for eating food, it says eat moderately every 2/3 hours. But the diet suggested by that expert is very much different than what we normally eat and drink! It starts with a smoothie made up of Pudina and different condiments. It suggests Jowar bread instead of Wheat bread and so on! Now at this stage of life, our eating habits are so much entrenched in us, that the followers of this diet, talk only about diet when they meet; they miss their “normal” food so much. Their socialization has come to zero. For eight hour wala diet, the socialization must have been  drastically cut down because if you are invited at different time, than your meal time,  for a drink and/or food, what do you do? Your hosts will not know that you have skipped the meal,  if there is a large crowd present for the party, but if you are invited in a small group/individually or during an office business meeting or during holiday travel how do you handle it!

There are other aspects also. Some of these people, charge you for treatment,  latest famous treatment is based on videos on internet. No consultation fee, no direct interaction with the expert- correct me if I am wrong! Another person, charges Rs.1.5/ lacs for a 5-day session in a Darjeeling resort. About others charge, I do not know. It’s about your need for a treatment, or about how much proven it is. Or maybe the expensive treatments give you bragging rights!

It reminds me of a famous fish treatment in Hyderabad; it is said that it cured asthma. What is done is that a family, who did this social work free, had a recipe for a potion! This potion they would stuff inside some small fish. This fish was supposed to be gulped (more pushed down your throat) and not chewed. I met a friend of mine after quite a few years. I was trying to fix up a time for dinner with him. But he said that he to go to Hyderabad for this treatment. He was quite gung ho and said that it was helping him to cure his asthma. I said, “How do you know it is helping you?” He said, “Oh! I go to Hyderabad every year for the treatment!” Every year? 

Something fishy!

From Sir with Love!

This is for a friend who is going through tough times in life! But friends are always there for support!

happy-friendship-day-quotes-for-facebook

A young friend of mine celebrated his birthday, the other day. Mark Zuckerberg informed me about my friend’s birthday, I wished him on the Facebook. I prefer to call friends and talk to them too, on their birthdays! Hence, I called him. We do chitchat on phone once in a while and have the usual banter about market conditions and general economy. After the banter, he calls me Sir, he said, ” Sir, I wanted to share with you something. I underwent yearly medical checkup and there was a patch found in my lungs.” I was hoping that it would be TB or some such infection. He is a non -smoker and teetotaler. He further said, “The biopsy indicated malignancy. I have already started radiation and chemo therapy.”

I was stunned but did not let this reflect in my reaction. He further said, “My wife told me to discuss with you about malignancy, as you have also gone through the same issue a few years back.” I was impressed with his nonchalant way, when he told me about the carcinoma. Then he suggested that I could visit him on that day, as it was his birthday. Visit unfortunately did not materialize.

All of this was so SUDDEN! A real storm started in my mind the way storms generally start, suddenly. (Today’s technology predicts such storms in advance, so suddenness factor gets a bit diluted these days)! But this storm in my mind was about thoughts, a big churning had started in my mind. I was feeling breathless, figuratively! Though the winds of thoughts were blowing, I had this feeling as if I was getting choked! Everything looked so bleak, like we see the dark clouds during the build-up of a storm. If I was feeling this on knowing this issue, I cannot imagine what my friend must have gone through. When I had this problem, I was 64 but my friend is much younger than me!

I thought how our mind behaves in the same fashion as the nature. Does nature get confused during the build-up of a storm system? Suddenly big drops of rain start falling, making all surroundings beautifully wet! In the same manner the dark thoughts in my mind were also washed away! Suddenly I felt as if there was cool breeze flowing, which relaxed my mind!

This change happened as I remembered my own personal storm, where I pushed hard against a strong headwind! When my cancer was detected more than four years ago, similar storm had brewed in my mind. But love and positivity of Jaya and family were like big raindrops which reduced the fierceness of the storm. When life takes sudden twists and turns, you feel as if you are sitting in a vehicle which you are not able to control on a slippery road. But when you know that there is someone very strong and capable of taking the control of the vehicle, your anxieties are reduced.

During that phase of my life, I remembered about a mathematical operation of addition. The word addition by itself is a positive word. During addition, we use the term carry forward! Carry forward is a beautiful way of resolving a conflict. While adding, if the value of sum of the any digit is more than 9, say 21, then we note down 1 and carry forward 2! What a beautiful way to bypass an issue! What a positive way of going forward!

In tough situations in life we need to remember the operation of addition and method of carry forward, all the time. This will help us to never get stuck up! We will be able to overcome the storms, we will be able to overcome the typhoons! We will never get stuck up with a question, what to do? We have the great option to carry forward! This attitude teaches us never to ask the proverbial question, “Why me”?

My dear friend, this is just the beginning of the storm in your life; but the storms usually end with rains that cleanse the surroundings, and make the atmosphere fresh and happy. Take a deep breath, you have already overcome many small storms in your life. Those small storms may have been in the form of not getting to attend a college that you wanted to go to. It could be about your secret crush getting married to someone else! It also could be about not able to achieve some professional goal! These storms can be compared with strong waves that keep on coming relentlessly on the seashores. The waves in the form of challenges keep on coming, these waves maybe prelude to a small storms or issues. But you have learned the art of surfing elegantly on these waves and overcoming them with the attitude to carry forward! Take the challenge. While learning to surf, I am sure you have gone down below the water surface once in a while, but have strongly come out, always!

You have the support of a strong family, your friends and your good intellect! All these are like protection gear that you may have while walking in the heavy downpour. Maybe your socks will get wet but those can always be changed. My experience is that during tough times, you suddenly get a support from heretofore dormant friends or someone close in your family! There are such gems hidden in our society! Accept support and help gracefully, but if you are already overwhelmed with such support, politely indicate that their support will be taken during the next storm, if required.

Was I shaken because of the storm in my life? Was I depressed because of the health issue? I don’t think so. In today’s times with modern diagnostics and treatments available, the possibility of being cured of health issues is pretty high. I know of a young lady, who was forced to take 100% oxygen support due to some allergy issue. When I initially spoke to her, she was a bit despondent. But over a period, she was able to overcome her difficulty completely, thanks to medicines, support and ability to surf on the strong waves without going under! I once explained to her that shortage of oxygen is like some water going in your nose, while riding the waves! It is a temporary phase in life! But the fighter in her overcame all such hurdles! She started improving with positive energy she started getting due to her fighting spirit.

My dear friend, I am looking forward to seeing you ride the waves and combat the storm, the way you handle other issues in life! In fact, I am looking forward to seeing you as a big boss in some modern organization.

Retrospection!

Retrospect, take a breath and move forward!

One must always retrospect and analyze. This helps us to get good perspective and throws light on path we take in life, work, and thought process. This retrospection is  about my blogging and society in general! So here goes!

Vijay, my best critic after Jaya, told me yesterday that I am no more a blogger but a writer! For me, first and foremost is, I have tried to enjoy the love shared by all of you! Word Press gives me the statistics. When I started my journey in 2012, there were 21 visitors. In 2017 this number grew to 10500 views and in first seven months of 2018, it has reached 9500! Yes, my speed of publishing blogs has gone up but I feel that your love is increasing at a much faster pace. This puts more responsibility on me that I must continue to write the way all of you want it.

I keep on getting feedback through comments, through personal mails, on WhatsApp and by way of phone calls. Ganesh shared with me that one of my blogs was not up to the mark. I accept such comments with humility but my suggestion is please let me know where I can improve. Vijay said that sometimes there appears to be a bit of repetition. This happens when the subject is same but treatment is a little different. Like when I write on EV’s my blogs give incremental details, when I write about death and rituals additional thoughts come into picture. Like in the recent one I have suggested that we should respect the people who believe in following rituals though my views are opposite! This can sometimes cause repetition of points.

About my being a writer! Vijay, your yari puts me on a pedestal but blogger is some kind of a writer anyway. Blogs are personal views and they are conversational. I am somehow comfortable in this format. Cricket shaukin in me again makes me put some statistical data in front of you. My blogs are 1000 to 1200 words long. If we multiply by 258 blogs, I have churned out 2.6 lacs of words! Phew, I never realized that I have written so much! A friend of mine told me that there is always upside for everything. He said, “While you were writing, Jaya had peace of mind! You kept your mouth shut while writing!”

I have two bosses who help me in maintaining the quality of my writing! Shrikant Manel and Shashi Inamdar. There are of course faux pas from my side! Ever alert bosses inform me immediately and I quickly correct the errors. Errors are factual or language related. But these are simply not acceptable. Thanks, my bosses! I think now this is enough about yours truly!

Let’s move on to the retrospection of our society! In India, public places are, of course, public place. You can do whatever you feel like. The other day, I was waiting for someone at Tilak Smarak Mandir where there was a function to felicitate a renowned scientist. I was standing on the side for about half an hour, waiting to meet someone. I saw one troupe of Brass band. Every five minutes or so they would  start playing music really loudly.  The video below is for people who are not aware what a Brass Band is!

I tried to think why they were playing music at an interval. Then I realized that every time a dignitary arrived, the brass band would create a ruckus, called music. It was their way of welcoming the dignitary! After half an hour, I was almost hearing challenged! It looks like this is someone’s idea of welcome. I asked an official sitting in the office, an old man, about this. He said in surprised tone, “Oh, obviously this is to welcome our dignitaries!” (What an idiotic question, the smirk on his face told me the real meaning) With so much cacophony in our lives, do we need to add more? The program was organized by supposedly educated people.

A politician, builder cum land mafia boss abetted one of his business associates into committing suicide. Police filed a case against him but the boss simply “vanished”. How could police “find” him? Then he applied for anticipatory bail, from the lowest court and finally the Supreme court rejected his bail and asked him to surrender! While he went to surrender and was being taken to court, about 500 of his supporters assembled to  show moral support to him! I am not sure if there was a Brass Band to welcome him! Police have arrested him under the toughest possible Penal Code because of so many illegal things he has done. In our society, such people become celebrities, dignitaries and then maybe ministers! This has been happening in Bihar and UP for a long time. Should the society do something about it? Are we going to accept such people as our future leaders? Where do we go from here?

For last few weeks we see some groups of people trying to push the government for more benefits, under the garb of reservations! This is a political issue so I don’t want to make any political comment on this subject.  But there is one thing that no government can solve. Supreme court has given a decision that under no circumstance total number reserved seats for anything can exceed 50 %, and this number is already reached in all categories. But what about you and me, the common people? Are we not all the time being held at ransom?  One day milk supply is stopped, one day vegetable market is closed, another day wholesale market is closed. Do we not have right to live normal life? Some cities are forced to shut down and then the whole state is closed down. Who is government? It is you and me. It is made of people elected by you and me. Does it mean that democratic process is meaningless? Should these protests not be independent of party politics? Sometimes it looks like games played in view of forthcoming elections! Time has come for serious retrospection!

Another disturbing and dangerous trend is also seen during these protests. To push their agenda, some people have started committing suicides. We will never know why they took this drastic step. But the information that filtered says that they had financial difficulties in their lives. I can’t imagine that people become martyrs to overcome their personal difficulties. Age old question in case of suicides is what about others around you? What about your families? I am not a psychologist but I am not sure even the experts will be able to explain this phenomenon. In one incident, about 10 people tried to self immolate themselves but were somehow prevented from doing so! Such incidents bring in melancholy feeling.

Friends, all is not so bad with this world. This last one is pleasant and interesting story I read from Facebook. Two ladies from Pune-Mumbai area met on Facebook, a year and a half back. Their friendship bloomed. There is an age difference between them of about 15 years (this is my guess!). Within one year of their meeting, the older lady was detected with Cancer. Looks like it brought them even closer! They took a 15 day holiday in England together, recently. On the side they worked together and created their women’s clothing brand which is being kicked off soon! Wow, the speed with which friendship bloomed in tough times, the work done by them together in not an easy field, gives us an assurance that “All is well” in this world, like the song in the movie Three Idiots!

Learn or Perish!

Learn to withdraw from life of others, especially progeny, at the right time!

The difference between humans and their ancestors is a tricky subject to deal with. Yes, we share ancestors with monkeys; we share ancestors with every living thing. But, also, to be clear: We did evolve from monkeys.  There have been different claims as to who our ancestors were. Though I have mentioned about the differences, I want to compare ancestor’s life and our life today, irrespective of who our ancestors were.

Most important difference is the concept of families and ownership. Even in humans this concept started only ten thousand years back, when humans learnt farming! Farming ensured that they changed their nomadic ways and started building more permanent dwellings which later became homes. This started a concept of ownership, then they started “owning” their women so the society started “knowing” who was the father of any child. This was a major evolution in human thought process compared to thinking of their ancestor. Still some of the basic things hardly changed, the life expectancy did not increase much. The increase in average life span is the story of 20th century; first half of 20th century this increase was in the developed nations and second half of the century, in the developing nations. Now in India the average life expectancy has reached a level of 65/70 years.

What is the effect of these changes? In olden times people almost never “saw” their grandchildren as most of the people died before the grandchildren were born. In the case of our ancestors, they did not even “know” who their children were, so the question about grandchildren never came in to picture. With ownership & family, concept of selfless love also started coming into picture. Humans with evolved brain and thought process started thinking differently than the ancestors. Ownership brought the thoughts of savings for future, owning a home, second home then… humans thought in terms of buying assets, storing things for a rainy day.

With ownership of farm land, selfless love was displayed while cultivating farm produce, fruit bearing trees and flower beds. People looked after them tenderly. Some of the large trees have lives longer than human lives, so these trees were passed on from generation to generation. Such trees went on to create local folklore. This thinking was never there with our ancestors because of low life expectancy. I am not an expert in this field but I draw this conclusion from the fact that our ancestors never settled and almost never saw their grandchildren.

There is a major difference between human progeny on one side, and the trees and flower beds planted by humans. In the first case, their birth just happens but in the second case these are specifically planted by humans. But look at the irony. Both are tended equally tenderly, looked after till they become self-sustaining. But the farm produce and fruits are cut and used for eating, tree branches are used for making furniture and for building homes. Whereas the progeny is supported till they are strong enough to be on their own and they are trained to take their own decisions about their lives. Especially after marriage, their own family and children, next generation becomes more and more independent. Humans are happy to see them go ahead in life. Humans keep on loving them life long!

The utility and work of trees, flowers and produce is over when we utilize them but in case of progeny they become more precious to us as they grow and succeed in this world. In both cases, we remember their babyhood, their childhood, their adolescence, their youth!  The longevity helps us to see the growth path of the progeny. In both cases the selfless love  creates many beautiful memories in our mind!

Trees, farm produce, and flowers teach us one thing. They are useful to us but we learn to stay away from falling in love with them as we know that when their work is over, they will part with us. For humans, this is a new thought process about their progeny.  For these reasons they were hardly trained, mentally,  for Old Age or Vanprasthashrama! There was never much need for geriatric medicine, this specialty simply did not exist. From what I have heard about olden days, old people simply hung around in a corner of the house and withered one day.

Is longevity bane or boon? This is being discussed in the society. In olden days, average humans simply died before reaching the stage of having grandchildren, they did not live long so there was never any requirement to save money for post-retirement life. Longevity with shortage of funds is a definite no, no! Is it a curse to human race and to the families? Longevity with money in the bank is ok. But there is a need for training programs to teach old people to look at the progeny, the way humans look at trees and flowers; limit yourself from their lives and go on with your own lives. Enter Vanprasthashrama, in the real sense as far as next generation is concerned. In Vanprasthashrama, our shastras say that we can travel! We should travel to our own destinations in life!

In the beginning of 20th century, concept of migration started, in a bigger way. Before that people moved to different countries to conquer and loot. British, French, Portuguese colonies are typical examples of migration backed by officialdom. 20th century migration is individual migration and is happening all over the world.  With children staying in different cities, states and countries, their extremely busy life style, their own families growing, humans need to train themselves to interact with the progeny when progeny has time. They need to train themselves to meet their progeny, at their convenience. Humans have to learn that they are not in the immediate circle of the progeny!

Humans have learned to deal with the issue of selfless love in case of trees and flowers; and they also know at what stage to withdraw and let go. Humans have to learn the same about progeny.  We may not be aware but the someone may already have developed a computer program to handle this, we only need to download it in our mind and start using it asap. We don’t need Artificial Intelligence (AI) for this, we are intelligent enough to know the right time to do it!

Death, a journey in Peace?

Let the departed soul have final journey in peace!

Friends, you will have to pardon me! This is a major modification of a blog I had published four years back. This is a very important subject for me, hence I want to share my thoughts with you again; I have gained more insights on the subject in last four years. I have a new title ending with question mark; why the question mark you will ask me! In the matters like rituals, I think like a trained engineer, always challenging the hypothesis, if I am not convinced! When we communicate in writing about death, we say “Rest in Peace”! Ok, I am a non believer, but still I will go with the theory, that after death the soul goes on its journey! But do we allow the soul peace it deserves?

We have one life and our aim should be to pass through the life’s journey in such a way that we are truthful, respectful, gentle and have empathy for others. How do we give respect to others? Why do we respect others? Whom should we respect? These are the questions that came to my mind when a friend of ours died. The departed soul was a respected professional, gentle, truthful and always had empathy for others. Such a person should have been reciprocated by the same thoughts and deeds by others after he departed. We should have same philosophy in life and death, irrespective of how others are and how they behave with you.

This person was a “non-believer”. His views, about the “after death” were very clear as he had already told his first family in clear terms, about not performing “any” religious stuff after his death. After his death, things began well, with no religious stuff at the time of cremation. Respecting his views, family followed his wishes, they respected him. Though it was very late at night it was decided to wait for one of his siblings, who was staying far, to reach for the cremation. This was also I am sure must be one of his wishes.

I want to tell you my observations of events, at the time of his funeral. I have not spoken to anyone from his close family and I am just writing the thoughts that come to my mind. Our friend lived his life in a small town and was a respected professional. When his body was being taken from home to the hearse, some religious stuff was performed by his neighbors. His immediate family almost lost control over the situation; family became spectators. So much for peace of mind!

But let us not forget and look at the other side. Some people and their families believe totally in rituals. Others should give respect to their feelings. Recently, I attended death rituals of someone close to me. Their family totally believes in rituals and on 13th day, there was a full blown religious stuff. Next day one of the siblings said to me, “You had to sit through a lot of things, in which you don’t believe in.” I said with humility, “please don’t embarrass me; your family believes in these things so it was my duty and wish to participate in everything, to respect the departed soul on final journey”.

In Hinduism, after death religious functions are held after a certain number of days based on age old traditions. In this case, since the person who died was a “non-believer” a decision was taken by close family, initially, NOT to have anything religious. So far so good. Then suddenly we came to know that there will be religious ceremony on a certain day, not one but two of them, held one after another, believe it or not, the same ceremony was to be repeated. One was at their home and the other one was at their work place cum old home! If this change was decided by first family, I respect the family’s decision.

In such situations it is incorrect to say that something is correct or wrong because everything depends on the perspective. Why did the first family take this decision? Were they pushed by other relatives into taking this decision? Were they forced to take such a decision? I came to know later, that this decision of double Puja, was taken to “take care” of bad vibes that might be generated because of death, as there was a marriage in the family after 3 months. The decision was pushed by the other family members on the first family. Amen! If there is God then, why are people scared of Him! He brings you to this world and then takes you back when the time is up! Then why the fear of “bad vibes”?

Who should take such decisions? The first family or the next level of family? Why such decision could have been taken? In Hinduism it is suggested to perform these religious functions after  death, so that evil will go away!! Is death evil? Is almost a natural death, due to old age, bad? How does a loving peaceful souls death lead to bad events in your family or create bad vibes? How will this natural process cast a long shadow of death on your family and the events that will take place in family in future? How do you know that performing religious Puja will ensure that everything will be hunky dory in your family, post puja? Does it ensure that no bad thing will ever occur in your family? Will there be no deaths in the family, ever? What is bad about death? Yes it is bad and shocking if it happens to a young person, as an out of turn event.

I will share with you another  example which I had noticed when I attended one more cremation recently. At the cremation, many people are present but one can make out who is from the first family. During this event another cremation was taking place. I saw a gentlemen, whom I could judge that he was first family. This was confirmed next day when he was also present to collect the ashes, generally first family attends to this chore. On both occasions his cell phone was regularly ringing and he was all the time busy attending the same!! I cannot imagine that a person from the first family is so busy, that he had to take his calls all the time during this process.

Is one really so busy? Can you not be involved with the family even for a small duration, when death has occurred? Can you not respect the departed soul? At least for the last journey one is expected to honour the dead person. In Hinduism dead body is treated on par with Him!! Whenever you see an unknown funeral passing by, you automatically bow!! Maybe the cell phone guy was GOD himself!!

In all this discussion we have forgotten about  the wishes of the departed person. Should we not respect him? It will be polite to follow his views which do not affect anyone. What happens if there are no rituals? What is wrong in having views different than the “normal” views? Then again what is a “normal” view?

My friends I am confused. How the so called educated persons follow things that have no scientific background? Why under the garb of religion, things are pushed on the family? Why could the close family not resist such a push? Did they do it to err on the “safe” side by following the so called traditions? I hope my thoughts will give the few people who read this blog, strength to resist such pushes in life. RIP Sir!!

Humane approach to technology!

New technologies are developed by humans, don’t lose humane approach when using them!

Today’s human attributes are the result of changing, improving of the skill sets. Ages back humans started carving things on stones to write messages. They used signs, images to convey what they wanted to say. Advance in technology is changing the way we live, the way we write and the way we communicate. We developed modern languages, both spoken and written.

Whats App, Facebook, Snap chat, Skype have helped us to keep connected 24/7. And are we in touch? Of course, we are. We can communicate individually, in groups anytime we want. This technology has helped us to find long lost friends, got people in touch again. There are alumni groups, there are office groups, there are ex office groups, there could be ex ex office groups too! I don’t know if the lovers form a group of different ex’s like A breaks up with B and then B breaks up with C and then A breaks up with D; A, B, C, D may form a group! Possible, these groups may already be existing!

It seems that like fashion, our writing methods and style are also coming back in vogue after years. We had bell bottom pants in 70’s and looks like they will be the next rage! Ladies used wear a choli in olden days, now a days the blouses are so small that are may be tinier than cholis! It seems that the language of communication from stone age is coming back after completing a full circle. I am sure by now you must have understood that I am talking of Emojis. Whats App has changed our writing style and took it back to stone ages, at least sometimes.

Advent of Whats App has led to evolution of emojis. Maybe initially it was thought that using emoji was a good way of responding quickly. But over a period, this seems to have evolved in a language of its own. Add to that words like K for Ok, HBD for happy birthday and so on. Pre-emoji days, when somebody contacted us on phone and we were busy, we replied with a quick, “I will call you back.” Cell phones brought a bit of more technology and we could quickly respond by text message, “I will call you back, I am in a meeting, text me the details, I am driving” or some such thing. Then in most cases, we called on phone after we became free.

We have hundreds of “friends” but we are very lonely, we don’t even know our neighbours, sometimes; this cliché is so true these days. What is the real use of this new technology, how to use it correctly, is it really beneficial? Generally, technology that gets absorbed by large number of people quickly, is good and helpful. Unless some other technology comes up sooner than expected, they have a decent life cycle too! But the classic case is of Fax and Pager. These technologies were good when they were introduced, but were quickly made obsolete by e mail and cell phones.

How to make new devices and technology useful? We should not forget that the human element should always be remembered in interactions. People become anonymous behind technology. This anonymity makes people bolder, many a time in a wrong way,  in what they write and what they post, and how much they post! We can make Whats App groups clutter free by not allowing forwards. In one group we have 150 members, imagine if forwards and GM/GN messages were allowed! Let me assure you it is doable. I found one very interesting way of making FB interesting, enjoyable and fun. On Jaya’s wall she shared a message, gist of which is as follows. “This is my post without any photo, so it may not look interesting. Write a word or anything about me after fully reading this message”. Its a very innovative way of involving friends. When people read the message, they have written whatever first came to their mind about her! In some cases the association was maybe ten years, in other cases it was 50 years old! You don’t need to share 100 photos of your recent holiday; you can share a photo or two and then share the link for other photos. Please understand that maybe 1 or 2 out 100 people are interested in seeing ALL the photos! Make things clean and clutter free and enjoy fruits of innovations!

How to handle issue of “Friends”? Since last 3 years, I have stopped sending friend requests on Facebook? Whenever I get a friend request, I check if I have any common friends. Unless I get positive response from some common friend, I keep it on hold. Sometimes, there are some persons with whom you have interacted quite a lot in olden days, sends a friend request, I accept it. But in general, I am not very comfortable with “new friends”!

Most important thing is people forget the human part of the connect in electronic media. On occasion like birthdays, people send their best wishes on Whats App and Facebook. I try and thank everybody individually. It may be a one liner but I write, “Hey Deepak, thanks for your wishes? Have you recovered from your health issue?” Or some such thing. This small gesture, I feel, goes long way in bringing friends closer. When I have to wish people on their birthdays, I try and call them, I talk on phone. This is the human touch I am talking about. Wishing on Whats App and FB is good but it feels impersonal. Let’s use these technical advances by all means but don’t forget the human touch, like phone call! Let me assure that you and the person with whom you talked will be mighty pleased!