The chain reaction to improvement!

No human interaction is independent; generally, each action is the interaction of something that has happened before. Some people have the habit of not being neat and tidy. I know of a lady who never made her bed till she became a professional and started working independently, living on her own. She would make her bed and tidy up her room a bit whenever someone was going to drop in. Else things would be, helter-skelter! Somewhere within her, things were brewing up. She made her bed for four consecutive days, after waking up. Then on the fifth day, after making her bed, she picked up the clothes lying around and put them on the hangar or in the cupboard. Tiding up happened for a week, and then one day she got herself a basket to collect her laundry.

One thing led to another. The lady took the neatness drive to the kitchenette, washing her cups and dishes immediately after use. Once her mother came to visit her, without informing, on a Sunday morning. Our lady was fast asleep; she was happy to receive her mother. Her mother was pleasantly surprised to see everything spic and span. When her mother asked her about the change; the lady said, “The small act of making my bed made me realise the importance of not having clutter. But I always felt that doing so many chores was going to be tough; hence, I avoided doing even the basics. I know that I am a good professional, but now I feel that I am a good human being too!” One act of tidying up the bed led to another, like a Domino Effect. The result was being in a charming home was very pleasing and did not involve too much effort, as she had initially thought.

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Domino effect definition is – a cumulative effect produced when one event initiates a succession of similar events. Though this has nothing to do with the current subject, I will share with you the real meaning of the Domino effect. In the game of Cricket, a team is batting well, and they are almost cruising towards victory. A wicket falls against the run of the play, and suddenly the all remaining batsmen get out as if by Domino effect!

Getting into a habit of following routines leads to a domino effect. After I went into semi-retirement, my daily routine had changed. I had more time on hand. So, I added the activity of going to the gym and for a walk in my daily to-do list. While working, these activities were intermittent, but with time on hand, I set up my routine. As far as possible, I don’t change my timings. It took a couple of months, but then these small acts led to a domino effect, and my routine fell in place. I have also added reading activity as a regular activity besides blogging. For the Domino effect to succeed, consistency is very important. Yes, I have also added taking a nap, in my to-do list.emrgency1

Friends, don’t forget that the domino effect takes place in forming bad habits too! Social media is a prime example of how bad habits can also be a part of the Domino effect. Cell phones came in our lives; then came Facebook, followed by WhatsApp in our lives. Where are we today? People are already facing problems of addiction, depression, and what have you? How did it start? It probably started with being able to see emails on a cell phone; then FB and WA. From that small jump, we took the next jump in the precipice of social media. People got hooked and addicted to social media; this addiction may be worse than alcohol and cigarettes! At least people avoid smoking and alcohol consumption in front of elderly, but social media has almost become a socially accepted addiction.

As always, anything good needs a bit of discipline and adhering to specific steps, sequencing and rules. If these are not followed, success could be delayed. The important thing that can happen is that you will be able to analyse yourself, the reasons for failure. The reason may be that the step where you failed was too big a task. Break the task into easily doable steps, and you will succeed.

Start with something which you are most motivated to do. Start with something small and do it consistently. Initially, you may not feel that fall of a Domino! But it will fall. That fall may change your thinking, your way of doing things. But when the Domino falls, it will enthuse you to take up the next step.

Maintain the momentum and immediately move to the next task you are motivated to finish. Let the energy of completing one job, carry you directly into the subsequent behaviour. With each repetition, you will become more committed to your new self-image.

When in doubt, break things down into smaller chunks. As you try new habits, focus on keeping them smooth and manageable. The Domino Effect is about progress, not results. Maintain the momentum. Let the process repeat as one domino automatically knocks down the next.

Having good habits has many advantages. You get a good feeling because of the lack of clutter. I had attended one course of 5S, the Japanese techniques. The tutor asked a senior manager from a large company, “Where do you waste your time in office?” The manager gave a bit of thought and  said, “65% of our time is wasted in locating things.” The department obviously had bad habits, and the boss allowed the shoddy way of working. By not being into good habits, efficiency gets drastically reduced. Performance becomes poor. But such things cannot be changed overnight. A small beginning needs to made and then let the Domino effect take its own course.

Good habits are not for someone else, they are for your own good. You become a better person, you become an efficient individual. All these things are needed to improve your persona. Many times we don’t change because we do not allow the domino effect to take place. We try to reach Mount Everest without even trying to reach the top of your local hill. But to reach the top of a local hill, start with climbing four floors in your condo using a staircase!

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Live with Gay Abandon!

There is an error in playing above video which I am not able to resolve. When you click to play, you will get a message “You play the Video on Youtube”. You click the line again, and video will play.

“Tum Jiyo hazaro saal” is a song from Hindi movie Sujata, sung by who else? The great Asha Bhosle! The film had Nutan and Sunil Dutt in the lead roles. If one must use the idiom gay abandon, then this is the song sung by Asha Bhosle with real gay abandon. The meaning of this idiom is “In a happy and carefree way”. The way she has sung this song creates a happy feeling and maybe a thought process that we should also become a little carefree!

When we are growing up, obviously there is not much difference between a girl and boy child, except for the sexual difference; along with this difference accompany specific ways in which the girls and boys behave. Girls like to play with dolls and boys with cars. It is their inherent nature. But it is you and me who tell the girl child to become subdued; oh! You are a girl. I am ok with suggestions about the modesty aspect of it, as the world is full of complex situations and people. But in making them comply with the so-called modesty, many times we also kill the exuberance and vivaciousness in them. But this is only one side of the story. Even males become subdued as they grow. What is the reason for this? The change is because some people are born serious-minded; this creates thinking that we must become serious and subdued as we grow. We abandon the “Gay Abandon” attitude.

How many people are there in your life who laugh their heart out over a nice joke? Not many. Ok, you need not be too exuberant in the formal settings but on a personal level, why not? Why not do whatever you do, wholeheartedly? I will tell you something about the cultures of different communities. I am a Maharashtrian, and till my generation, the atmosphere in our homes was subdued most of the times. Dancing Maharashtrian was a myth. But during my daughter’s marriage, we had a musical program where the whole family danced. Did we dance? We danced with gay abandon for a couple of hours! Slowly this trend is seen in many families. As against this look at the Punjabis! They will dance at the drop of a hat, they will sing, they will enjoy life! We have extroverts or introverts, but the majority is introverted. The Britishers have a stiff upper lip. The South Indians, as a rule, are mild-mannered introverts.

What is the difference between a child and an adult? To start with the child has no inhibitions, so they enjoy things wholeheartedly.  As we grow, we are supposed to become mature, steady and serious. People in their small groups may be a little more free with each other, but this behaviour is limited inside the closed walls. I will share an example of a Punjabi family. We were on holiday in Nainital, a few years back. We were having a cup of tea in the garden near a lake. A group of people came for a stay. As soon as they got down and saw us, they waved at us and said, “Sir, how are you? How long will you be here? Let us have fun.” Next evening when they came back after a fun-filled day, one of them came and said, “We got some lovely fish today. I will tell the cook to serve you the fish. I hope you eat non-vegetarian food!” Not many others will behave this way.

I have a theory for this. Punjabis who live on the western border of India have always faced the brunt of the attacks by the enemy for more than a thousand years. For them the life must have been so uncertain, they evolved into, what else, Punjabis! Why don’t all of us treat every day as a war like situation? Such thinking may make us boisterous and freewheeling like our friends from Punjab. Why do we think of rules and constraints all the time? I am not saying you break any laws or regulations but why not make yourself open! Take a dive in the water instead of dipping your toes!

I have seen my granddaughter Rhea growing up. She is 5 ½ years old. She is spirited; she has terrific ideas in her mind. We play games like a home, running a restaurant. She decides the role-playing characters. We have never prevented her from asking any questions; we have never told her to stop doing something. All this is always done within the framework for basic home rules. These rules include minimal screen time, finishing her food in the plate always and so on. But our discipline has never stopped her from laughing,  dancing, sharing a joke. She treats us as if we are of similar age when we are playing games. As her understanding is increasing, she is turning into a pleasant personality! She is a happy, boisterous child.

People should do their work seriously but should not take themselves seriously. We don’t need to move around in the society with a poker face! Don’t forget that it is also a funny world, not everything is serious! The other day I was walking down the road and saw a person waiting for someone. In a hurry, he had put on a black shoe and a brown shoe! I pointed it out to him, and both of us had a great laugh. He quickly went home nearby and made amends. I could have ignored it; he could have got wild at me. But we both chose a better option, to enjoy!

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We have become so serious in life that we have started “Laughter Clubs” in our society. Common causes for laughter are sensations of joy and humour. When many people join the laughter clubs, it indicates the malady in our society. You don’t laugh at anyone, but you can always laugh with someone. Nobody can stop you from laughing at yourself! One can always say, “What a fool am I?” and laugh it out.

A human being laughs when the feeling of joy and humour is generated in mind. But not all react the same way, that is the crux of the matter. You meet a friend after some time, why not give a big smile and bear hug! You feel it that way so why not display it? Why hold yourself back? You meet your ex after a long time. A lot of water has flown down the bridge. So why not enjoy the moment? After all, the person was your ex, and you have had a great time at some stage.

There are so many beautiful but small things in life that we miss them, we forget them in our journey called life! Years back, during my tottering days of blog writing, I had written a blog about “My favourite things”. We all have such lists, and I am sure my list will bring a smile on your face.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2011/06/04/few-of-my-favourite-things/

Let me assure you, the feeling of joy, living life with gay abandon are infectious things. Others around you will slowly change the way they react, and the world will become a better place. I had a neighbour a few years older than me. Whenever I would phone him and ask how he was, his answer would be, “It’s so hot (in summer)! Oh, it’s so wet ( in monsoon)! It’s so cold ( in winter)!” He was never happy. For me, summer means Mangoes and pre-monsoon rains. Monsoon means greenery everywhere starting with drenching in the first showers. Winter means sleeping a little more with blankets, and going for a pleasant walk decked in sweaters and scarves, after a hot cuppa!

It’s your mindset that decides the joys in your life. Some look at everything with dark glasses like my friend mentioned above. They can never live life in full and neither do they allow their near and dear ones to enjoy it.

Friends what I have said is beautifully captured in the French phrase Joie de vivre. The French phrase is often used in English to express a cheerful enjoyment of life; it is an exultation of spirit. It “can be a joy of conversation, joy of eating, joy of anything one might do… And joie de vivre may be seen as a joy of everything, an absolute joy, a philosophy of life. It involves one’s whole being.”

People in our lives, courtesy FB!

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In my childhood, in fact, in everyone’s childhood, there have been games like “My spit goes farther than yours” played with friends. It was great fun & did we enjoy such games!! Facebook game of “My Friends list is longer than yours!” appears to be the latest variant of the childhood games. But is it fun? Does it have childlike innocence to it?

I joined Facebook a few years back when someone suggested I join, and I joined. I did not have much knowledge of FB (today also my knowledge level of FB is not much different.) What is FB, why do we use FB, are the questions that come to my mind? I know that Mark Zuckerberg is the owner and I also know that there are N number of more zeroes in front of his wealth figure than that of common man’s wealth would have. I have seen the movie Social Network based on the birth of FB. Beyond this information, I also know that this site is used for socialising. I am aware that that FB is now used for advertising, I presume it is like google advertising. In between news feed, you will get a few ads for banks or MakeMyTrip and so on. I am sure it is a paid service, and FB gets paid for this. But this benefit is for FB and not you and me!

In earth’s history, we define periods as AD and BC; similarly, there are times Pre FB and Post FB! Life has become very different during these time zones and it is difficult to compare these pre and post-FB times. In Pre days, people used their phones to talk to each other or physically meet up, now people write on your wall to ask “hey, how is your hernia doing?” In post days I have seen people posting their journey details when they travelled from Mumbai to Delhi by road, a snippet of posting. “Finally we reached a reasonable Hotel, and I rushed to the loo, what a relief!!” Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw must be squirming in their graves, “Why I could never write such Gems during my lifetime”?

What is the best way of using FB? Every individual has a different opinion on the same. I use it for an essential function of birth date management. FB reminds you of the birthdays of friends, but I like an idiot do not write on the wall, I call people and talk to them on their birthdays. Initially, I used to be worried; I thought people would think that I am breaking their privacy by calling them. But I have realised people like it if you call!! I am on FB, like United Nations observer. I do not do anything. I observe what others are doing. It probably helps me understand how people of different generations interact with each other. I use FB to publish my blogs!

Senior citizens and retired people are in their own world. They keep on posting about subjects that they pursued during their active days or of the fields they wanted to take up but could not get the opportunity or the forum. The younger female gang around twenty-five, have a peculiar way of saying things, it is FB language (Chow Chweet etc). Of course, they keep on writing about sweet nothings! Then the very young brigade can have 1300 to 1500 friends, may write about anything in this world. In the case of active young ones, this figure can reach even 2500. It is okay because they are trying to find their path in life, and this includes finding of who real friends are. Then there are mature persons in forties; even they sometimes put personal stuff on FB. Did we share personal details with 200 or 400 hundred people in Pre FB days?

There are an average of 200 friends for many, but this figure can reach 400 in other  cases. Do you have 400 friends in real life? Do we even have 200 “friends” in real life? Friends is an FB term, but it is mostly acquaintances. Can we handle so many friends? Friendship is like any other relationship & needs to be cultivated. After your daily grind, do you get time to cultivate such large numbers?

I have seen two persons around the age of fifty, who have around 2000 friends!! 2000 is a large number under any thought process. How are these people selecting friends? Is it that in your daily work or life if you talk to a new person or meet a new person, you immediately send him/her a friend request as soon as the meeting is over? Is this Zuckerberg’s idea of Facebook? I have seen some people advertising their business opportunities daily to the same 2000 people by way of the news feed. Won’t people get fed up?

It reminds me of a story I read in newspapers. A lady became friends with an unknown person from a different town. One thing led to another; then they decided to meet physically. During the meeting, the guy had different ideas and started getting physical with her. The lady resisted and that resulted in the guy getting wild, and ultimately he killed her! Do people understand the meaning of dealing with people in anonymity? What people write and what they are can be quite different. When you meet people face to face, from gestures, eye contact one gets the feel of the personality. Behind the computer screen, this is not possible, and you might end up meeting a Frankenstein!!

 

The world is full of people who follow different, paths! I am talking of a personality we met much before FB days. You come across them, through newspapers, in personal interactions, if you are lucky. We were fortunate to meet Mr Anna Apte. When we met him, he was eighty plus. His passion was to write a book about computers in Marathi. The event was more than 25 years back, in the early ’90s when computers were not so common. Anna had never had formally learnt computers, but his zeal was to be seen to be believed. He would come to our home before 7 am, of course with pre- intimation. Jaya used to leave for office at 7.30. Once he had taken an appointment, he would be there on time, come what may! It could be raining; it could be freezing weather in Pune winters. Nothing would deter him. Anna would come all wrapped up, with his eyes shining. He would come for 15 minutes, get his doubts cleared from Jaya and then go with an ever-smiling face.

Do we ever form such relationships on FB? I have my doubts. Probably all the technology that we have can bring different advantages. But we “know” people in the real sense only when we meet them face to face and regularly.

Friends! Some of you know me through my blogs! Some of you knew me before my blog avatar! But the love and blessings that I get from all of you would never have been possible if we had become only FB friends! I came in touch with a lady who is my age! She collects donations for a social a organisation. A high level of closeness  got created with her, though we met only once or twice a year! Can FB give such friends? Only Zuckerberg can tell!

 

 

Emergency, Emergency!

Some of you may consider this as the second part of my blog 996 or else! Possible, but it is a comment on modern working methods not restricted to any specific field.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/04/30/996-or-else/

I read an article about school teachers in the UK. With WA groups and email, parents of the children started getting in touch with them regularly and expected an instant reply from teachers.  The late response caused anger in parents and anxiety in teachers. Teachers perform many more activities other than teaching in the class. They set exam papers; they correct the answer sheets. They check essays and have some administrative work too! They have a personal life like you and me! On top of this modern communications have created such pressure in some teachers in that particular school, that some of them wanted to resign and some protested strongly to the management. A parent finds time to communicate at 10.30 pm and expects a reply immediately.

I will tell you about the procedure followed in my granddaughter Rhea’s school. They do not allow the parents to communicate with teachers at all either by meeting or by electronic communication. They have a group of administrators who are available to meet the parents. Parents can meet them, and in most cases, problems get resolved at administrator level itself. Parents can have one meeting with teachers once every term and group meeting every quarter. I was delighted to see that at the end of lower KG this year, Rhea was analysed for twenty different personality points with details. They have a WA group for parents where circulars etc. are sent. Half the parents have no time even to read these circulars.

The same thing happens in other professions. Colleagues send you an email at 6 a.m. and expect a reply asap. WA has made matters even worse! You also know whether your message is read or not. One tends to read the boss’s note right away. But is it right?

First and foremost, there is a need to create a set of WA etiquettes. Secondly, every organisation should give a rethink and decide policies based on previous experience! What did they all do when modern methods were not available? Emergencies were handled even in those days. Years back in Jaya’s office a mainframe computer was being installed. Nobody had previous experience in this field. A call came from her office at 1.30 am, and Jaya mumbled some reply on a minor issue. Next day Jaya and I talked about this while having our morning cuppa! I told her that there would be a call again tonight but let me handle it. When the call came at 2.30 am, I, said, “Please make calls at night only when the fire alarm goes off.” No calls came ever again.

But then some people want to keep and show their importance to the organisation. I know of a guy who got married in the ’80s of the last century. Before marriage, his director called him and said, “Please, don’t travel out of Pune for Honeymoon; we will sponsor your stay in a five-star hotel, in Pune.” The guy did not travel. Later in his life, I have seen people calling him to find out if the knob on a panel is to be turned clockwise or anticlockwise!

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Are things moving in the right direction? As usual, the answer is Yes and No. Every few minutes some hot shot guy is born and wants to change the world yesterday! He goes into midnight email mode. The credit for starting this trend or you may say discredit, should go to Blackberry phone. Blackberry was the first cell phone which brought professional emails on the phone smoothly. Blackberry became a status symbol! People in those days would not say, let me check the mail. They would say, “Let me check my Blackberry!”

I won’t go into details of how email usage on cell phones has become routine, but now this usage is pretty standard. There is some discussion going on about rules and regulations that need to be followed. Unless some infrastructure is created and an attempt is made, things will not change. Some companies are doing their bit, and others are not doing anything. But it is not about the organised sector, but also in the unorganised sector, the change in thinking has to take place.

I will share an anecdote from very early days of email, about limitations of the fundamental knowledge of the systems, about usage, etiquettes. In a large organisation, people would mark a cc to many people. All the emails were replied as “reply all”. The storage made available to individuals was meagre. When I was talking to a friend, he said that his capacity is full every two hours. He did not do anything, no more emails for some time! Nobody had told people how to use email, as the IT people’s knowledge was also limited.

Even today, in the corporate email setups, there is a lot of limitation about storage etc. People when in difficulty, ask for details on personal emails and then download them! Now people have enough technical prowess; systems have understood limitations and discrepancies. But it is the management team that does not form policies where even during “out of office hours time,” communication goes on. It is simple. The system can always “not allow” communication beyond certain times. People should be given “right not to reply” after office hours! Same rules should be made to be rigorously applied for WA and telephonic communications. As usual, these things need to start from the top! There is a saying in the corporate world. If the chairman of the company asks about some delay in a project, the last guy in the value chain gets threatened of losing his job!

A good beginning is already made. France has passed a law, a couple of years back, on the right to disconnect after office hours. Daimler and Volkswagen have a facility where emails sent to employees on holidays get auto-deleted so that after coming back to work employees do not face a flooded email box. Our NCP MP Supriya Sule has introduced the “Right to disconnect” bill in Loksabha. In a small way, attempts are being made to make life easier.

But what about small sectors, professional individuals in business? Doctors get a call from patients at an inconvenient time, and people are upset when they do not respond. It is ok in an emergency but what is an emergency? A good idea would be to send the doctor a message. (They do check messages as all of us do, and respond when needed. They do not return if they are in Bali on holiday) They will decide and act if they feel it is an emergency. I am also told that these same patients do not call doctors if they are getting late for an appointment.

Every work, every profession has its standard timings for doing work. Each individual fixes his/her schedule based on the requirements for personal and social activities. Availability of technology does not mean that the communications channels should be used in “the personal timing” of any individual. Do you call your grocer at 10 pm? Do we call our milk vendor at 9 pm? Yes, I know of someone who went to wine sellers’ home on a dry day!emrgency1 No, I don’t think so. Why? Because in the case of these service providers there is no emergency! Thank god!

 

Please listen to me!

 

arguments4Argumentative Indian is a book by Nobel Prize-winning author, Amartya Sen.

The Argumentative Indian has brought together a selection of writings from Sen that outline the need to understand contemporary India in the light of its long argumentative tradition. The understanding and use of this argumentative tradition are critically important, Sen argues, for the success of India’s democracy, the defence of its secular politics, the removal of inequalities related to class, caste, gender and community, and the pursuit of sub-continental peace.

So far so good. But do we deserve to be allowed to argue? I have observed that in the public domain sometimes discussions are done for the sake of discussion. The level of such talks has reached the nadir; speakers have literally reached below the belt, pun intended. A male candidate talking about a female opposition member has made a statement, “I never knew that she was wearing a khaki chaddi (underwear) all these days.” Can one make an argument worse than this one?  Unfortunately, such statements are appreciated by their followers; nobody questioned the candidate while he spoke such vile words.

I am all for freedom of speech, but I would never like to live in an emergency like situation, nor would I like to live under a Hitler or a Mussolini. Everybody loves to argue, but it appears that the art of argument is lost at the altar of the new God, social media. The problem is that even in the public domain, the arguments done in Loksabha or Rajyasabha are more about personal attacks on each other from the ruling as well as opposition parties. Logical speeches are a rarity these days.

Another observation is that social media has created world-class commentators, in thousands. Everybody comments on politics, Indian cricket team selection, whether Priyanka Chopda is pregnant or not! Not only that but there are big fights shown on TV under the names like “Big Fight”, and the same gets reflected on WA groups. On Facebook, people write essays about how Modi is wrong or how Rahul Gandhi does not know anything. It is possible that the writer in every person is waking up, thanks to cell phone and easy to use keyboards in all languages.

About political arguments, the older you become rigid are your views. So on WA groups fighting tooth and nail about your point of view does not make sense. I have known of a few cases where childhood relationships became tense because of such arguments. Another important aspect we forget is that it is not worth fighting on issues on which we have no control. People take Alcohol; some like whisky and some like to drink wine. Some are fond of Beer, and some are Vodka fans. Of course, there are some teetotallers. Is it right that teetotaller calls others drunkards? Can teetotallers be called conservatives? Each person has his/her own way of living life; we should respect the views.

I recently read a poem धूप में घोडे पर बहस (Arguments about a Horse) by Kedarnath Singh. It is fascinating to understand how the poet has looked at the word बहस (argument or discussion).

Three friends were sitting in the Sun (must be winter time) discussing a horse. The first one said that the horse is lovely and the second friend added that the horse is sturdy! The third one said that if the horse is so sturdy then we should not even discuss it. The first friend shouted, “What do you mean we can’t discuss”? The second one said, “Of course, we can discuss.” The third friend looked pleased as he blew the cigarette smoke and said, “But where is the horse?” First one said, “So what if the horse is not there, we can always discuss about him.” The second one said, “I have never seen a horse in ages.” The third one said, “The population of horses is reducing fast”. The second one said, “Why is the population reducing?” The first one said, “That is because horses are being sold.” Now it is immaterial which friend said what. Just enjoy the arguments. “Who buys so many horses?” “We can get this number from somewhere!” “Why, why we can not get the numbers?” Then the first one whispered, “God knows what these numbers will reveal?” Finally, the third one shouted as if coming out of a trance, “Friends, one day we will know the correct numbers and the real story will come out.” After this statement, there was pin-drop silence for a long time. How did Kedarnath know that this will be the future quality level of arguments?

Inferior is the quality of arguments that we have on TV channels and social media. Subjects may be essential for discussion, but the treatment and direction given to subjects are abysmal, sometimes the arguments are nasty. The title of the blog “Please listen to me” is ironical. The word please is never used in discussions these days. In public domain people do and say anything to earn some brownie points.

What is an argument? There are many definitions of arguments, but I have chosen a couple of them.

  • a reason given for or against a matter under discussion
  • an angry quarrel or disagreement

The argument is a way of life and is used at home, in business, in education, in research besides many other areas. While arguing both sides are expected to be professional and polite, giving respect to each other. In science, the argument is put forth in trying to prove something new which may be compared with an existing method, process or a product. By arguing, different points of view come forward. The idea is to discuss and find the best possible solution or resolution to issue being discussed. But every time it may not be an issue. When two people from opposing political parties argue, they are putting their thoughts in front of us and are trying to prove how their party or candidate is better than the other.

I feel that the maturity, dignity, and style are more important while arguing. Shouting match starts when nobody has a better argument, or it reflects on that person’s culture! The discussion should be talking about the chosen subject matter and  unparliamentary words should never be used.

In a housing society committee except for the head, all were young people. This head used to shout to prove his points. In the first meeting after I joined the committee, this person started shouting to prove his point. I told him to speak normally, but he argued that his voice was loud. I told him “Sir, learn to speak softly and then speak, otherwise you need not to speak.” After this incident, he never shouted again.

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Now regarding the arguments/ shouting match on social media, above mentioned rules should be followed more rigidly. The groups that are formed are for a specific reason. The groups can be an alumni group, office groups, ex-office groups, society group, and many more. But all these people come together because of a specific reason. On such groups, one should not make unnecessary political arguments; these are uncalled for and counterproductive. For those who are politically minded, should form a separate group and keep on doing what they feel is right. My observation is that all groups 90 to 95% are not interested in such arguments.

Kedarnath Singhji has found it long back the way people argue. He has explained it in a light-hearted manner. So, let us go by his advice and suggestions, refrain from arguing on social media and if you are in an argument, use the word “Please”! Let me assure you good arguments are fun, and they are enjoyable, if done the right way!

I am humbled!

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Friends are going to call me and ask why I have used antonyms in the title. Most friends will pull my leg and tell me that the words Pramod and humble don’t go together. But I am sincerely humbled. I started as a tottering blogger somehow managing to write  400word blogs; what I wrote in those days and what write today are both called blogs! A captive audience of Jaya, Sachin and Priya encouraged me, initially! They would give me a star once in a while, as I was in KG stage of blog writing!  

During a dinner last evening with my college mates, a friend asked me, “You were never a literary type, how did you end up being a serious blogger?” I started thinking about my journey and how I ended up writing. We never know where we are going to end up in life, about the place where we finally settle down, what career is one going to choose, whom we would marry and so on. For my preengineering years, I was in Mumbai’s Elphinstone college. I stayed at the hostel with my dear friend Sharad. One day we just decided that we will move to COEP in Pune. The reason why did this is unknown but it is possible that we thought hostels in Mumbai and Pune would be the same, so why not! In plain English, we still do not know the reason.  

Our stay in hostels changed our view of looking at life. We learnt to absorb shocks while living, without any fuss. One night a friend slipped from the roof of the building and died; he was a stargazer. We had no option but to absorb that shock; we would show brave face as if nothing had happened. After a few months, there was an earthquake which shook the building, literally. Again, we handled this event as if nothing had happened. But we were shocked from inside. Someone or the other would always be short of funds at the month end. Others would ensure that he never felt the pinch. But all were vicious against those who were nasty and would cheat on others to save the money. Some did well in exams, and some did not. Friends and partners were always there to discuss and support while facing tough times. In most cases, we did not even know anything about the background of others; they were simply friends. The hostel has given me life-long friends, and I cannot write the names as the list in real loooong! Along with Sharad, Nayan was my room mate! 

Our stay at the hostels changed the horizon and gave us a different way of looking at life. The similar change I had felt when I moved to live on the 7th floor condo a few years ago. Before this, all our homes were on the ground floor. I had apprehensions about how I would feel by not being “grounded”! But then I don’t know when the perception changed into a broader (and taller) way of looking at life. When we moved to the 7thfloor apartment, I was taking cancer treatment. In the initial phase of the treatment and posttreatment, we had time on hand to sit in the balcony to observe the rolling hills, flying birds and movement of people and vehicles in the small bylane that was visible from the balcony! Jaya had retired just before my treatment started, but did not get even a few minutes of retired life; my granddaughter and I kept her very busy. But when we started sitting in the balcony for tea or chit-chat, we realised that unless we changed our thinking and took a new approach, our vision remained constant. By changing the fundamental approach to thinking, we look at life differently, it provides us a different perspective.   

I found my bearings with the blog “Dance of Civilisation”! It gave me confidence that I could write more and was not feeling intimidated by the thought of writing and publishing. This process of writing and publishing gave me pleasure, and it was enhanced by your comments, phones, WA messages and analysis. Recently people utterly unknown to me have become followers of the blogs. 

Friends, I am honoured by receiving comments from you on my blogs. Vijay gives his thoughts on most of my blogs and shares his thoughts. Vijay has almost become a blogger now and writes long comments and his opinions on what I write. Another friend Pradeep started reading my blogs a couple of months back, and he has read most of them. One great thing about Pradeep is that he does not mince words when he shares his opinions. Pradeep lives in the US and shares with me his views based on his stay in the US for the last 45 years. Some insights that he shares are the result of his extended stay in the US and his analytical mind.  

One comment which I liked the most is by a friend. He minced no words and declared, “You have started thinking that you are an expert in every field, but to me, it is pseudo expertise!” The comment made me think about the way I write. But on the same blog, another friend who met me for breakfast said, “You don’t write like an engineer and keep things very vague.” I told him, “I try to explain two sides of the same subject instead of stressing my viewpoint only.” Such conflicting comments confuse me. A friend is saying that I am a pseudo and I give my strong opinions without considering the other side; whereas the other friend blamed me for being too mild and not writing specifically what I want to say.  

To become a better writer, I have bought software that checks grammar and gives me suggestions and shows my errors. Similarly, I need to locate a software which will analyse the different comments and show me the way forward. One thing is confirmed that people think and talk about the same thing differently. It is like five blind men describing an elephant. The experience has also taught me that people comment about the content and not the way I write.  

In future, I am hoping to take formal training with online courses about creative writing and become a better writer. But the question is better than whom or better than what? As long as I am happy with the way I write, it is ok with me. But please don’t misunderstand. I am not claiming that I am the best blogger in town. I would rate myself as slightly below average on certain days and somewhat above average on a few days. Where would you rate me? 

Thanks a million! I have reached a milestone of the 400th blog which I had never imagined I would!  

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Time is Money, so Sleep is Debt!

In today’s competitive 24/7 and 365 days world, how can you waste your time in sleep? Sleep is an integral part of our day; we work, socialise and sleep. Our energy spent during waking hours is recouped when we have sufficient rest. How much sleep does one need to regain strength? Every individual has own requirement of sleep, and it is defined by the body like our blood group. This property is known as Chronotype and is described as a person’s natural inclination about the times of day when they prefer to sleep or when they are most alert or energetic.

We have different ways of describing people like an early bird, night owl and those who are in between the bird and the owl. Early to bed and early to rise is the way to be healthy and wealthy and wise, is a saying that has been popular for a long time. Does it mean that the early birds are smart people and others are not? I don’t think so because it is a natural property of human beings. I remember my friend’s daughter. For first three to four years of her life, his princess would sleep throughout the day and would be fully awake during the night. Luckily the friend’s wife was not doing a job outside. Hence she could sleep for at least some time during the day time. But day time sleep has its limitations as the world runs on a daytime cycle. They had a tough time during those 3/4 years.

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During the last hundred years or so, we humans have started working during nights. Before that very few people in any trade required night working. I remember my grandfather’s lifestyle. He would be ready to go to bed at 7 pm after having early dinner. I am talking of lifestyle that was prevalent in ’50 s of the last century. There was nothing else to do anyway. But with the industrial revolution, night shifts started in factories. In factories first shift would begin at 7 am, second would end at 11 pm and so on. These timings started invading our way of beginning and ending the day. Before all this, there was not much difference in humans and other creatures. If we observe, even today, the birds start flying out depending on the timings based on Sunrise and Sunset. Species other than humans follow nature. They wake up with the environment; they eat and drink water when hungry or thirsty. (Only humans drink specially manufactured alcohol); in the end, they die naturally. In certain species when the death is near, they go away from others and merge with nature. All this thinking has created words describing “Time is Money”; I have added to it “Sleep is Debt”! We, humans, give too much importance to when we wake up, when we sleep, and so on. People from the same organisations working in different continents adds to the misery.

 

Sleep1But is it true? Is it right? I read about a large organisation in China. They have a vast multi-storied complex where hundreds of people work. A team from the USA went there for some meetings. The meeting started at 10.30 am. It went on till 1 pm. They were taken for lunch, and they came back at 1.30 pm. Within, five minutes, all the lights, computer screens were put off. There was an announcement in Chinese to switch off the cell phones. At 2.15 pm everything came back to normal. The Americans were shocked. Their Chinese counterparts told them that they wanted to give surprise to the Americans. The practice of switching off everything is being followed in that organisation for some time, so that people take a nap. During this period, the Americans found it impossible to go to sleep, initially many of the Chinese staff also faced the same problem, but now they are used to it. The Americans found that some of their Chinese colleagues were even mildly snoring. Majority of the staff has given thumbs up to this method of taking a sleep break. Such breaks have increased the zest of people working in the second session. I can vouch for this method. I have been following this method for quite some time in my office.

In the western world, sleep is treated as some sin. People become judgmental when someone says that he/she needs some sleep. In olden days, though everybody had different sleep cycles, some people were required to keep awake against attacks by animals. Another need was to ensure that the fire needed for warmth did not spread dangerously. In Mahabharata, the war stopped at the Sunset. Lord Krishna had taken advantage of this fact and killed Jayadratha, by hiding the  Sun in the afternoon with his Sudarshana Chakra, and bringing Jayadratha out in front of Arjuna.

I am sure that a word associated with sleep in olden days must have been fear! That is because of the animal attacks. Now in modern times, we don’t have fear associated with the word sleep, but still, we make sure that all the door and window latches are in place. Worry before sleeping is the remnant of the “fear” we had in mind. Maybe the night prowlers may break in, is the fear we still may have! On the other side, it is considered good if someone dies in sleep. The reasoning could be that the person may not feel the pain if any, while dying.

All said and done; a sleep deficit is bound to have its issues. Each human can handle only a certain amount of sleep deficit. After that, the performance gets deteriorated. The person will be anxious; the concentration may reduce and accidents while driving can also take place.

Once we had gone out for dinner with some Japanese friends, we finished our dinner at around 11 pm. I asked the friend how do they handle this in Japan. He said, “Initially we do bar hopping till midnight and then have dinner. By the time we are done, it is 2 am.” I asked him, “How do you manage the office the next day?” My friend said, “ We must reach the office at 7 am, but if I am not up to it, I take my boss’s permission to go and sleep in my car!” Great solution!

But one thing is sure; you cannot be in debt in life, as well as in sleep. You have to repay it; you have to make it up at some stage. A good way of handling this is to learn to take power naps! A ten-minute power nap will go a long way.

In modern times, during the last 15 years, things have changed for the worse. Housing loans are much cheaper than personal loans. We can call our sleep deficit due to work as a housing loan, but we also take personal loans which are costlier than housing loans. These new loans are in the form of social media or screen time. With these two loans running simultaneously, sleep deficit is bound to be there; make sure you avoid it or you may become bankrupt!