The tipsy drink!

I am on a WhatsApp group in which all the members are engineers that too with more than 45 years of experience. Most of them have retired. But the fun part is a couple of them who are active in business have the maximum time available with them to contribute to the group. Their favourite subject being liquor! Why would professional, educated and almost retired persons be interested in talking about alcohol all the time? I call this irrational thinking.  

What is the origin of alcoholic drinks?  As mentioned in Wikipedia, “discovery of late Stone Age jugs suggests that intentionally fermented beverages existed at least as early as the Neolithic period (Cir. 10,000 BC). Many animals also consume alcohol when they get a chance and are affected in much the same way as humans, But humans are the only species known to produce alcoholic drinks intentionally.” Humans are the species who make alcoholic drinks for their own consumption. There are three broad classes of drinks beers, wines and spirits!  

Alcohol is consumed socially in many cultures. An alcoholic drink contains ethanol. Alcohol is manufactured by fermentation of grains, fruits, or other sources of sugar. Alcohol consumption has an essential social role in many cultures. In many cultures, alcohol is consumed by both women and men. Nations have laws controlling the production, distribution, and consumption of alcoholic beverages. Alcohol consumption is legal beyond a certain age in most nations. Many countries have tried to ban alcohol consumption but have miserably failed.  

Alcoholic drink is an addictive drink. Taken in small quantities, it makes a person euphoric, but in larger quantities they are depressants. In many countries, wines are consumed with food, but spirits are consumed before the meal. After meal brandies and cigars are also part of the of the culture. 

Just for fun, I will share with you my alcohol experiments. When I was studying engineering, I used to live in hostels. At the end of any term, there would be a “Wet Party”; we friends used to meet and take alcohol. (It was an open secret but an illegal act) In those days, I never drank alcohol and had only one more friend to give me company. After drinks, there would be a procession to go out for dinner; friends used to be in the state of, a bit drunk to thoroughly drunk. One of us would be in the front and the other at the back to control the band. The surprising part was that the friends used to listen to us. This continued for a few years, and later we could get a friend’s house for the parties and were not required to go out for dinner. Two of our friends would always get drunk, vomit, and the story continued.  

After I started working, I tasted my first drink, a whiskey; I never liked alcohol. Later I switched to Vodka for a different reason. I rarely drank it, poured it away and would get a Sprite. Nobody noticed. I used to take a couple of government inspectors for lunch; as long as they got their quota of beer, they did not bother what I drank. One of my colleagues was a chain smoker and used to drink a lot during office parties. His wife and Jaya were colleagues. His wife would tell Jaya that her husband was the most humble man in the world. She would tell Jaya, “He never drinks and smokes!” I knew that love was blind, but I never knew that love killed your sense of smell. 

Once I was in Germany in the dead of winter. We went to our hosts’ home; they owned a winery too! The lady was charming, and she gave us so many small shots to test, I almost got drunk with wine. Luckily, as soon as I stepped out of their home, the biting cold hit me, and I was normal in a minute. Now, I take wine, once in a while, especially if I am in foreign countries. But alcohol never brought irrational behaviour in me. I had a close friend who loved his drink, but never have I seen him getting even close to being drunk!

I will share with you some amusing anecdotes and information about alcoholic beverages. How did the word Cocktail come in use? People have been mixing any ingredient in hard liquor for a long time. But the name cocktail has come up in the last two hundred years. 

Cocktail 

During the early 17th century, a horse, with a docked (cut tail) tail, was said to have a “cocktail.” Thoroughbreds did not have docked tails.  When a regular horse was entered into a race, its cocktail was observed – and became a term synonymous with an adulterated horse. There is a tradition to drink alcohol during horse races; the word “cocktail” was soon used to mean an adulterated spirit, alcohol mixed with something. Well, I thought a cocktail was something fancy. Nowadays we get mocktails also. These are the drinks like cocktails but do not contain hard liquor. Looks like businessmen are exploiting the fancy names for the purpose of business.  Mocktails are also expensive!  

Booze 

The word booze has its origin with the meaning “alcoholic drink”. Initially, it was spelt as “bouse”. The word booze is said to have a Germanic origin, but there is still a doubt about its real origin! Three words from which the word booze has come are “bausen” in German, Dutch word is “busen”, and the old Dutch word was “buise”. The last word means drinking vessel.  The majority think that the word from booze originated is “busen”. 

Toast 

Toasting has some believable and some questionable origins. Two people clinked their glasses in such a way that their drinks got mixed. This ensured that you were not being poisoned. Another story that comes out is that the wines in olden days were not of good quality, they were acidic. A toast was physically put inside the wine. This toast would absorb the acid from the wine and improve the quality of the wine. Toasting many people at a party is also used for drinking excessive alcohol without seeming to do it purposely. Toasting is just an excuse!  

Let me share with you a sad story. I had a friend who was a company secretary. We used to attend meetings and would share rooms. Once after a cocktail party, we came back to the guest house. He had consumed about five whiskeys. At the guest house, he asked me, “Pramod my doctor has told me to take a shot of brandy before sleeping. Take with me if you have crossed 35.” I was 36 then. He consumed the whole quarter bottle of brandy and ….. He slept through our meeting the next full day! Poor fellow ultimately died of alcoholism.

Coming back to the original discussion of how people nearing seventy remain so much interested in alcohol that they keep on discussing the subject on and on. Once some of my friends went out for dinner. Out of ten, eight drank alcohol, and all drank them in large quantities. Liking a drink is one thing but drinking alcohol in excess at the age of seventy is something different. At this age something can suddenly go wrong with the body and results can be devastating.

So let us give a toast to wise people who will switch to drink booze in moderate quantities! Remember, when you say, “I need that one shot of xxx every night,” (and take it) you are an Alcoholic!

Cheers! Bottoms up!

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

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Coping with Death!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

MeToo or IToo!

Expert1

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

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

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

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

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

Expert2

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

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

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

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

WA & FB revisited!

For records purpose, FB started in 2004 and WA began to operate five years later in 2009. First, long-distance voice communication began in 1876 in the form of the telephone; I will not go into a dispute about who was the real inventor of the phone. Cell phones started appearing in mass scale in ’90 s of the last century. FB & WA are the apps that are used on laptops but mainly on cell phones. The rapid proliferation of Cell phones and WA in India has taken the whole world by surprise. No doubt this was aided by the development of keyboard apps in all the Indian languages. You don’t need to know English to use these two apps.

I am writing about the apps with Indian reference. A significant change that has taken place is, the short-term and long-term migration of Indians all over the globe. From my 1971 batch from COEP, almost thirty plus people have migrated. This is about 8 %, and to me this is phenomenal. Currently, the migration percentage has increased briskly; short-term migration is seen more as people go to different countries on assignments.

As both these apps are in use for the last ten to fifteen years, the etiquettes, the pattern of usage are continually evolving. WA says that they have created the app so that people can be in touch using an instant messaging system. They have definitely achieved this and more. Who uses WA and why do they use it? WA is used as a personal messenger, used in groups, by a large number of Indians. These groups are friends’ groups, family groups, formal office groups, alumni groups and so on. In individual usage what people do is their lookout. But on groups rules and etiquettes are a must. In one of the groups, I am in, “forwards” are not allowed. Before WA, forward meant centre forward in Hockey or Football. In India, the forwarding of messages on the group reached a menacing proportion. It was clearly proven in one case that by forwarding messages quickly, some people got together swiftly and cornered a person and killed him because he looked suspicious. Later on, it was found that he was a development engineer working with Google at Bangalore. A few friends were roaming around on the weekend in a rural area near Bangalore. There have been many cases of hoax messages, some vicious rumours were spread using WA forwards.

Let me assure you, not all WA is terrible. Some fantastic things have come up with WA. WA has started a language of its own. It uses short forms and emojis. I am not much of an emoji user, I know about 😊- a wry smile, 🤣- LOL or laughing out loud with tears in eyes, 👍- thumbs up,🙏- in India this is interpreted as Namaste but, in a foreign culture, it is interpreted as High Five, ✈- travelling👏- clapping. I have said about different interpretation of emojis; different interpretation can happen in two different persons too!

I hear that WA is the secret tool for lovebirds, both official as well as unofficial (secret lovers?)! Following emojis must be the language of lovebirds, but my knowledge in this subject is inadequate. 💋👄- Indicating kisses?💘- Lovestruck? 💏-?😘- flying kiss 😍- excited with passion?😡- disturbed?👩‍❤‍👩-?💔- heart-broken💓- love! In today’s digital times, it is no surprise that the language has also become digitised. NTT Docomo of Japan was the first company to start emojis on cell phones. These were created because the Japanese have a fascination for pictures.

Surprising results of WA use are many, I will share a couple with you. We have an alumni group of 1971 COEP engineering students. Some of us lived in the hostels, and our hostel block was known as C Top! (C block top floor) During some trifle discussion on the group somebody wrote a statement, “Long Live C Top”! This one statement drew such a response to the group that a lot of messages started flowing. Many became nostalgic and discussion continued on and on! You will not believe it, but this discussion went on one and a half day! That period was drenched in nostalgia! So many things were remembered, so many stunts, card games were discussed. I copied those discussions and created a pdf document for sharing with all. The document had about 20 pages! It was declared literature masterpiece. I recently read that a couple, who got newly married, had saved all their WA exchanges. Imagine the total number of messages! They were forty-nine thousand! These were copied, and maybe they want to print it as a love story! Wow, that will be a fascinating real-life love story, warts and all!  People spend about 2 to 3 hrs using these apps every day; this was one of the reasons for this review.

I am sure that the emoji exchange between lovers must be fascinating. Especially when the emojis can be interpreted differently. A person may interpret differently when happy as against interpretation when angry. Again two lovers may have a different understanding of their sets of emojis!

Facebook is another fascinating story in the digital saga. Nowadays, people look eye to eye for the first time on Facebook! Their love story starts with a meeting on FB. It is no surprise that it continues with the same fervour in later life too! The buzz word used for such a show of affection between lovers or couples is PDA- public display of affection! The couples shout early morning on anniversaries and birthdays, to show how they love their partner! They want the whole world to know about it. Oldies like me and many others are surprised with this kind of public show. But for those who have started their love story on FB, they don’t care what you feel! FB has its advantages. FB has allowed me to find many long lost friends. FB has allowed me to be in touch with my school, through alumni group. It’s a diverse group with ex-students from early ’50 s of last century to the early part of the first decade of this century. Today morning, I had a pleasant surprise! Darshan Ruikar, my son’s friend sent me a friend request out of the blue! He lives in England for the last 25 years! FB helps me to publish my blogs to a broad audience.

Both the apps when used correctly are a great addition to our tools for communicating with others. Both the apps offer free audio or video calls and even group calls. But the downside is the use of WA by political parties in India. With elections fast approaching, the parties are trying to overcome the “at a time forward to five entities” lock applied by WA. WA has already warned the parties that if parties continue the misuse, they will lock such id’s. Governments world over are also having some discomfort due to abuse by people of the group facility.

Babya

My friend Baba Gupte on Video call on WA. Inset Jaya and me!

I will share with you the excellent usage of the apps. A coincidence is that both these incidents took place with someone in Australia. My friend Baba Gupte and I have been in touch about his holiday photos and my blogs, while he is in Australia. I thought why not call him; I video chatted with him, and we saw each other after a reasonably long time. Baba was very pleased and said, “ Pramod, perfect use of WA”!

Another incident was when I landed in Melbourne in 2015. We had gone to watch the cricket world cup final. After we landed at Melbourne airport, I read a news item on the net that Harsha Bhogale, the cricket commentator, enjoyed a Marathi play, “Katkon Trikon” in Sydney. I could not find the date reference. My old friend and actor Dr Mohan Agashe has played the lead role in the drama. So I quickly wrote to Mohan on FB messenger, “Hey Mohan are you in Australia or have you gone back? Jaya and I have just landed.” In a minute, I got a call on FB messenger. I was wondering who it could be. It was Mohan! We chatted and exchanged pleasantries, discussed cricket and the drama. He was to travel back to India that night.

How dramatically useful such apps are, pun not intended when appropriately used. I am sure as the apps, and people mature, the people will find more ways to use the apps to their advantage. We already have our weekly video calls with my son Sachin in Seattle and my Son in law Nikhil in Montreal! The apps keep people close, and for everybody, there is always something to look forward to! Maybe another long lost friend will get in touch with you; perhaps an old colleague will be found or even the old flame…. There are possibilities!

Hiding Place!

In many religions, Confession is the acknowledgement of one’s sins or wrongs. In Christianity, people make Confession formally. A person goes to the church and confesses to evil deeds and asks for penance. This arrangement between the person and the priest is like a lawyer-client relationship. It is an arrangement which is always upheld as sacrosanct.

But not every religion has this arrangement. But each human needs to share his/her thoughts with someone who is very close to them. All of us go through difficult times, good times and tough times. Some of these are so tough that our reactions to such situations can be, “Oh! I want to kill that fellow”! But killing someone is not an option. But what should one do if such feeling arises in mind? We need to vent out strong emotions, but this is possible only when you have intimacy with someone with whom you can share any details. At the same time, there is a need to get your feelings validated by someone. Why would you say that you want to kill someone? It is an extreme reaction to a situation. If you don’t forget this incident and keep brooding about it, you may explode (you might kill that person), or you will implode and go into depression.

In such situations, you need a “Hiding Place”! The concept of “Hiding Place” comes from Bible Psalm 32:7! (Correct me about psalms, I am reading details about them for the first time)

https://biblehub.com/psalms/32-7.htm

In the Bible the hiding place is HIM! God is the “Hiding Place” place because he is

  • Safe
  • Sure
  • Secret
  • Comfortable
  • Strong
  • Secure
  • Communing (means share one’s intimate thoughts or feelings with (someone), especially on a spiritual level.)

I said that there is a need for “Hiding Place” in the real world too; the hiding place is you and me or any other person. A person can be a friend, brother, sister, or anybody really intimate with you. What is the importance of “Hiding Place” in our life? The incident mentioned above resulted in a feeling “I wanted to kill that person.” The “Hiding Place” is a sounding board who will listen to you, encourage you to open out and vent your steam. At the same time, “Hiding Place” or the person will not be judgemental and say that you were wrong to react this way. The person will listen to you and accept that you responded strongly. At the same time, the person will tell you the futility of such a reaction. By “hiding” we have achieved a few things. Your strong emotions were vented out, you are assured that your strong feelings, though not justified, get vetted. Once you have cooled down, you can discuss the real-life solution!

Some people are born with extreme emotions, some are cool, but most are in between. They are likely to lose their shirt in a situation! Some are lucky that they have a “hiding place”. You use someone as a sounding board, and if that person has most of the traits mentioned above, you are lucky. We read every day in newspapers stories about murders. The reasons for some of these murders are so flimsy that problems could have been quickly resolved by discussing with someone.

The root cause of unwelcome behaviour in society is unresolved conflicts from the minds of the people. Such unresolved disputes, and locked up feelings fo not find the healthy outlet and end result are simple problems getting converted to road rage events and sometimes into a murder.

In today’s times, we hear many stories about couples divorcing. If the reason for such divorces is listed out, then all the couples in the world should be divorced. Relations between pairs are very personal so unless they have access to a “hiding place”, issues are never going to be resolved. Recently I heard of a surprising way in which marital discord was resolved between a couple, who got married three years back. Both were lucky to have sensible friends. On husbands side, he had some females as his close friends, and they discussed the issues with him. They explained to him the women’s perspective of looking at things. At the same time on the wife’s side, some male friends discussed the issue and explained to her the male’s view of looking at problems. Of course, both were sensible persons. They later sorted out the problems amongst themselves, and now most of the discord related issues are overcome.

I read one beautiful story about a British movie The Wingless Bird! In this movie, a British Army Captain has come back on a short leave during the First World War. The war has affected his mind deeply. But he is trying to keep up the tradition of the British Family of being in the army. He is very uneasy and does not know what to do because he is very much troubled. Finally, he finds the courage to open out with his brother’s wife. He explains to her the whole situation on the war front. The dismembered bodies, rain, the trenches, the mud, fleece and the rats. To add to this the wrong orders from seniors lead to many unnecessary deaths. Of course, the seniors are safe, far away from the front!  After sharing these ghastly details, the Captain had a smile on his face. The situation on the front was not going to change, but he could unburden his thoughts. He thanked his brother’s wife that he could talk to her. She in return told him that she was delighted that he trusted her. The lady was the Captain’s Hiding Place!

Friends, I have simplistic solutions for everything as I very rarely react very strongly to a situation. I always think about the Utopian world. But let me assure you, it is not very difficult. Let us form a bank of “Hiding Places”! The newspapers have a section on agony aunt. As this correspondence is anonymous, it works like the confession box from the Churches. I am lucky to be a “Hiding Place” to many. Ultimately every individual has to solve his or her dilemma! A bit of shoulder to “cry on” always helps. People smoke, go to pubs sometimes when they are tense. Instead look for a “hiding place”. You have them around, there are many good people around, you need to locate them.

As usual, this is my simplistic solution, but it is worthwhile trying.

Let’s get bored!

Come on guys let’s have fun! Hey, gals enjoy. Life is full of fun and enjoyment. I don’t believe in life after death so why not enjoy it to the fullest! Continuous entertainment is the current thinking. When I was in school, life was full of boredom. There was no TV, no internet, listening to film music on the radio was considered taboo in many homes. Cricket match commentary was one program which was allowed in our house; provided we had no backlog in homework, or when elderly were not resting. (Many such conditions were there)

We tend to think that we are the most important persons on the earth, but that is not so. The importance makes us feel that we must keep on doing something all the time.

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Life is full of annoying things and will continue to be so. The dialogues mentioned above, are said when people get bored, or they have nothing worthwhile to do. Our life is full of happy and sad things. You feel glad because there is sadness. If humans were to be continuously sad or happy, they would not have felt the other emotion. Just imagine going to a club, playing cards, then playing a game of billiards, followed by a set of golf. One can have such a schedule once or twice in a week; but when you have the same program every day, it can become tedious. Change of work, change of enjoyment, and in between the period of doing nothing, is enjoyable.

boredom3

Every day, you have your regular home-cooked meal; going out for dinner or lunch or a brunch makes us happy. Today people think that every moment, every second of life should be utilised in enjoying. Someone is enjoying work, but that person has to find time to reply to a bunch of mundane emails; responding to emails can be tedious but looking at the overall picture, it is part and parcel of life. You like to meet customers, explain to them about new products, new plans and new goals; but at the same time, you are required to do budgeting, have discussions with product development team too. You may not like it but its part of life.

Today’s parents feel that it is essential to make sure that children are kept busy all the time so that they don’t get bored. After school they must go for gymnastics training, then maybe dance class. Trying to learn a new language or tennis coaching is a must. Activities are all planned with a view that the children don’t get bored. At the same time, they expect that the kids are at the top of the heap in at least 70% of activities in which they take part. There is a possibility that the child may be keen about art, maybe drawing and painting. The child may also be interested in reading and writing. Send them to a writing coach. Come on, give some time to the kid to do what he or she likes, and allow the child to get bored on his own. Sometimes the parents feel that if they don’t keep their children busy, they have failed in life!

Boys may want to play with dinky cars; the girls may be interested in playing with their dolls. Let us not forget, that the kids may want to do some activity where they do not have to prove anything. You will be surprised to learn that if parents have time and inclination to allow kids to “play” such games, kids use their knowledge acquired in life, in doing whatever they do on their own. The girl will tell her doll to finish all the food that is served; the boy may instruct the driver of his dinky car not to jump the red signal.

Getting bored is part of free time every person has on his hand. Even adults also try to keep busy all the time. Last year we took a one-week long holiday, and on my blog, I said that it was “Do nothing holiday”. One of my friends called and said, “How could you do nothing for eight days? You should have gone here and there; there are so many things to do in Manali?” When I said do nothing holiday meant that we did whatever we felt like doing, including doing nothing. Watching nature every day was fascinating. Though landscape was supposedly same every day outside our cottage, we never got bored. In fact, after the second day, we could see changes in the same view. The day we had bright sunshine snowline receded, and when it rained the next day there was more snow on the mountains, the snowline had advanced!

Adults also want to be very busy during their holidays. Monday Paris, Tuesday, Berlin and Wednesday Turin! Complete your holiday in a couple of weeks visiting ten cities. My idea of such a holiday is to soak in Paris for three days and Berlin four days and maybe Turin or Rome for another three days. Some people call it boring, but I call it soaking in the atmosphere! People want their selection of music, their films to be seen during the travel. Well, there are mountains, there are rivers and mountains; there are bustling city squares, and there are beautiful buildings, there is a different culture. You don’t need digital entertainment, you can enjoy each other’s company, meet new people and in general have fun. Unless you get time on hand, you never do things which you usually don’t do.

Teaching children to endure boredom rather than cranking them up to take up entertainment will prepare them for a realistic future; future that doesn’t raise false expectations of what work or life itself entails. One day, even in a job they love, our kids may have to spend an entire day doing a spring cleaning of their office. They may have to go through boring data sheets. Maybe their job will entail, just making sure that people reaching the airport have correct identification. The role involves answering mundane inquiries.

When we watch strong sea waves on the beach during the monsoon, we enjoy them. But we also appreciate the regular waves when the sea is at it’s serene best. Watching test match cricket is precisely like our life. Long periods of the so-called boring times when the teams are consolidating, followed by a sudden burst in action needed to win a match.

If we keep ourselves “busy” all the time, we do not give ourselves time to retrospect, time to look back. We don’t give ourselves time to dream and time to imagine. Creativity is born only when you have time. Time on hand can be called boredom if we do not spend it imaginatively.

boredom

Be Angry at Anger!

Anger1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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