Death has its own mind!

Main Zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya is a famous song from Hindi movie Hum Dono, picturised on evergreen hero Devanand. The first lines of the song are

I playfully went along in my life

But I always blew my worries up in smoke

These lines are significant in the Golden phase of life of humans, for that matter any phase. The song suggests that you  don’t bother about worries! (Ok don’t smoke like Devanand as shown in the song!)

During the last month, three of our batch mates “suddenly” expired. Why have I written suddenly in quotes? Was it so sudden? The meaning of sudden is, occurring or done quickly and unexpectedly or without warning. We are a group of engineers who passed out in 1971 from COEP. On the WhatsApp group, there are 140 of us. We came in touch with each other after 45 years. Thanks to modern technologies like WA and FB. Even after being on the group, most have interacted with about 15 % of friends on the group. Admins are in touch with more friends than others. Those who were known during college days and continued to interact even later, know each other very well. But most others are colleagues who “meet” on WA group. These friends also meet during breakfast lunch/dinner meetings.

After these deaths, the discussion on WA group was uneasy, and the mood was melancholy. The questions in the  mind would be why these sudden deaths? Who is next? When is my time getting over? A document was shared by a friend “When I should die!” It is a comprehensive document and explains and convinces you that the author’s theory is right! But what is the hurry?

Birth is an event which takes place where the person born has no control. Similarly, humans don’t have control over death. People say that one can commit suicide hence could have control over death. But someone does not wake up and commit suicide. The situation builds up; the person is giving the signals that there is something wrong. The person may talk to a friend about the wish to die. Friends may try and convince the person against such thoughts. It indicates that humans do not have control over death. On the subject of suicide, you owe a responsibility to others, like family anf friends!

Longevity plays an important in this discussion. Life expectancy in India is growing by leaps and bounds. In one or two generations it is observed that on an average, people in certain strata of society, live to an average age of 70 plus. But compared to the national average, all of us in the group are living bonus life! Is it surprising that people around the age of 70 are dying? Out of three friends who expired two had not been keeping well for some time. Third one died of a stroke. We all are aware that strokes can sometimes be fatal. When one looks at these events, except the third one, there were NO surprises. Since we were not in touch with friends regularly, we did not know about their health conditions daily. Hence, we had assumed that these were sudden deaths.

Is the reaction to study and find out what the right time is to die, a solution? These days on the internet, you have information about everything under the Sun. That does not mean we should bother about every new theory. In various hypothesis, there has been a description that humans live to the age of 100. It is a false hypothesis. A tiny percentage of people cross the century, world over. But on average the life expectancy is between 50 to 80 years globally. Ladies live a few years longer.

People who are fatalistic about life and generally have negative thinking may start thinking about death even at the age of 40! But what is the point? What is the point in thinking about something on which we don’t have any control? So instead, a good idea will be to think about enjoying life, in our golden period. At our age, for most of us, the family responsibilities are over. At this stage, we should be doing things that we could not do while we were busy in our careers.

Deathwish2

Money, health and positive thinking are things that are most important, not necessarily in the same order. I am not discussing money because at this stage we know about our financial status. We must spend within our means, which anyway would be the right thing to do. Staying positive is very important because with negative thinking one would be looking to discuss and think more about death. Is it going to help? Someone might argue that it is practical to think about the future. But if you think that 75 is the right age to die, then are you going to commit suicide on 75th birthday? No, you are not. So, don’t  bother about such milestones.

Since we do not know about our final day on the terra firma, the best course available is to try and maintain good health. There was some discussion on the group that if one becomes dependent or bed-ridden, then it is not worth living at all.  Though I may tend to agree, I knew of someone who could not stand up or sit. He used to run a business. He had got his vehicle modified and would go to major customers like Tata Motors in his car. The officers would come downstairs and hold meetings in his vehicle; he had altered his car for lying down. To me, it’s about will power. In the golden age period, there may not be something to look forward to if you are bed-ridden so maybe …

How to maintain your health? Take exercise daily and go for walks in green areas. The greenness of trees uplifts your mood. Meet a few friends, get to know new people. After your walks, don’t go and have fried stuff like bhajiyas (but occasionally that too is ok!) If your health allows lifting weights, go ahead and do it, under the guidance of doctors.

There is plenty of evidence that weight training can help us age well. By our early 40s, most of us start losing muscle mass, at a rate of about 5 per cent a decade, with the decline often precipitating a long slide toward frailty and dependence. Older people who lift weights can slow or reverse that descent. In many experiments, older people who start to lift weights typically gain muscle mass and strength, as well as better mobility, mental sharpness and metabolic health. With this noticeable gain, there will be an improvement in mental health too! I do both walks and lift weights, and I can vouch for the same.

Then there are many other things which one can do. Besides the obvious suggestions like photography, reading, travel there could be many things that can be attempted. I had never thought that I would blog seriously; my initial attempts were amateurish and quite infrequent. The passion of blogging gives me real pleasure. Besides the joy of writing and publishing, friends call me and share their views with me; this sometimes leads to intellectual discussion and simulation.

Friends, worrying about future and death is of no use. We don’t have any control over death, blow your worries to smithereens. Sing and Dance, have fun. If you are lucky you may die “suddenly”. Yes, let us use English correctly. Very few deaths are sudden because we are unaware that someone is unwell! The slide below tells us about the advantages of not so sudden deaths!

Deathwish1

Advertisements

Primary help, Really?

 

Really1

We went for dinner to young couples home. Both are smart, efficient go-getters. They have a two-year-old daughter. It’s an ideal family. Luckily, they both get support from two sets of parents. All is well! During dinner, the discussion came up about managing work-life balance. Neeta, the lady looked at her husband Deepak and said adoringly, “Oh, he is such a great help! Without his help, I don’t know how I would have managed to juggle between career, the daughter and home.” Deepak gave her a thumbs up!

Discussion put my grey cell into the act. You must be wondering what is Pramod thinking? All our life Jaya and I have lived similar lives. Taking this forward, we have also been supporting Priya, our daughter, in her initial phase of the career, to look after our granddaughter Rhea. Something was not right! What was bothering me? All seemed well with Neeta and Deepak. Next day in the morning when I woke up, I knew what was bothering me. It was the word “helpful”. The connotation of the word helpful was bugging me.

Here was a couple doing great, each trying to ensure that the atmosphere at home remained least stressful. The term “Helpful” indicated or meant that Neeta was the primary source of running the show and Deepak was “the help”. Is that the right description of this family? To me no. Humans have been running families in a patriarchal society from time immemorial. Men would go for hunting and women would manage home and bear and rear children. By Darwin’s principle of survival of the fittest, the male started becoming better in some areas and the female in other areas. There is one area where the woman has no competition, that is the childbirth! Even the fittest and the most evolved of Darwin’s male will never be able to give birth to a child. Giving birth to a child is no doubt at the top of the pile of things humans do, in the list of tough things in life!

The patriarchal society led to a tricky situation. Ladies have been there in the general workforce for a long time. But in last hundred years, they are taking up positions which were supposedly male bastions. Armed forces, surgeons, pilots, CEO’s, Head of Universities the list is unending. Such positions brought females out of their homes for a much longer duration, and they started getting less and less time to look after homes. Male from the patriarchal society got confused, stressed and did not know what hit him. Like happens typically in some situations, males started taking up roles they were never used to; some would take up the part only when they were told, others would most of the times ignore the need. Non-participation by males in the home activity led to a situation where even some strong women just gave up, others somehow managed it but had great stress all the time due to lack of male support. A tiny percentage of males adopted well, and their situation was like that of Neeta and Deepak. They adjusted well and “helped”! But to me, Deepak “helped” Neeta and Neeta “helped” Deepak in running the home. Somehow, I am not comfortable with Deepak “helped” Neeta sentence. They both helped each other.

I know of boys or men who are good at cooking, washing, changing diapers and what have you. I know of ladies who are terrific in investments, banking, managing cars. Both men and women have picked up activities or chores which were supposedly specific gender dominated. I know of a family where a teenage daughter is equally comfortable with both her parents to discuss her monthly women related issues. It is about the convenience, availability of time that will decide the work. If it is easy for the lady to give the car for servicing she should and will do it. As against this, the man may have to take a long detour to a service station on his way to the office. The child is unwell; whoever has a more relaxed schedule on that day should take up the responsibility. The child has a fever; both parents can and should share night vigil. Our daughter used to wake up early every day when she was a baby. Since I am an early riser, I would spend time with her in those days. It was no big deal. Neither the male is helping, nor the female is assisting. Both are taking equal and joint responsibility for the smooth running of the home ecosystem.

It is well proven that females can take up tough jobs. What can be the way forward to change the societal thinking from a patriarchal society to a society which will give equal importance to both the genders?

The discussion reminds me of the famous idiom, “Child is the Father of the Man.” It is a line from the famous poem by William Wordsworth, “My heart leaps up when I behold the rainbow in the sky!” What does the idiom mean? We pick up all the traits from our personality as children. As the child becomes a man, many characteristics continue to be as they were in childhood. Hence the poet has used the metaphor “Child is the Father of the Man.”

Really2

I thought it is important to share the meaning of the word progenitor: A person or thing from which a person, animal, or plant is descended or originates; an ancestor or parent.

Parents need to take special care to imbibe a thought process which emphasises the equality of genders. At the same time, the child should be explained the biological difference between genders. These differences are natural, and there is nothing to be ashamed or proud of the difference. The male child likes to play war games, dinky cars and female child plays with dolls and house. Nature has created them to think and behave in that manner. But if a girl wants to play war games and a boy wants to play with dolls, it is ok. But chores in the house should be equally shared. I remember an incident that had happened ages back. We had gone for lunch at a friends house. After lunch, my son who was seven years old then, picked up the used plate and asked the lady where he should keep it? The lady said, “My child, you are lucky to be born a boy; these things for girls and not for boys!” If the child is brought up in this manner, then the boys will always be “helping”!

My friends, many times, the odd behaviour that we see in society is dependent on how you bring up the child! To me I think Neeta and Deepak are a perfect couple, Neeta only needs to brush up her English. Then she would say, “Oh, he is such a great friend and shares all the chores with me! Without him, I don’t know how I would have managed to juggle between career, the daughter and home.” Deepak would then give her a  double thumbs up!

I Ain’t bothered!

 

letgo2My friends keep on pulling my legs about my blog writing. Some say, “you are a better blogger than an Engineer”. But I “ain’t” bothered what they say! I mean, I know that my friends are pulling my leg hence I am not worried about what they say! But mind you, all of us are concerned about something or the other all through our lives. I feel that these concerns have reached an epidemic proportion.

People think that life is always a bed of roses, but it is not so. Sometimes some events will go against your way of thinking. You may have to face situations that you had never expected. But you need to understand and accept that this is going to happen and it is ok to be in such circumstances. It means that you need to accept certain things and move on. It’s ok to be hit on the chin once in a while. Once we stop accepting this fact, we start blaming ourselves. We start feeling that something is inherently wrong with us. Such thought processes drive us to show to people that nothing is wrong with us. We may end up buying ten pairs of trousers and shirts to show off. We may get drunk on a weekday. It is to show that we have enough money and we are not bothered about the social norms.

We get caught up in a vicious circle of a feedback loop. You overheard someone passing a casual remark about the way you wear your clothes. You get bothered, and you end up buying those clothes. You end up getting drunk too. But should you be upset about such casual remarks? Should you be worried about these comments with such intensity? Is it not easy to rethink and say, “Why am I getting so much upset? How does it matter what that person says about my clothing?” We should learn to worry about remarks like, “Pramod is not a good person, or he is a nasty person.” We should learn to give correct importance to events in life.

We should never think that life is always going to be bliss. There are going to be ups and downs. We will become uncomfortable in certain situations; there could be some suffering too! But learn to go with the flow, accept the position and move forward. Many times what happens is that we take many things personally. There is too much traffic; people are jumping the red signal. We get upset. Last night’s news you saw disturbed you! We must realise that these are not the consequences of something you have done. You cannot prevent such things from happening. Opposite of this, we start believing that good things that are happening are because you are a terrific person. Your being good may have some control over your close circle. You can create an atmosphere where your family members are behaving decently (sometimes there is no control on such things too!), you can be friends with people who behave well. But mind you that your definition and someone else’s interpretation of goodness is not going to match. So again you can be back to square one; your friend’s friend may not behave the way you want him too! That can still upset you. Learn to ignore things that are not serious enough. Learn to let things go which are unimportant!

Letgo1

What happens if we do not learn to let go? Our life is full of events which are good and bad. Sometimes the bad period is longer and many times a reasonable period is longer. By not learning to let go, our mood swings from bad to good to bad. We blame ourselves when things are wrong and are euphoric when things are as per our liking. This swing of moods is not easy to handle. You are the person you are. Your persona is created and gets a reasonable shape as you mature. You are a person with some good things and some bad aspects. You don’t have to face these swings. Just let go; the cycle of good and bad events will always be there.

The million dollar question is what we should let go? At the beginning of my career, I bought a new car for the first time. Within a week, a van rammed into me from behind at a signal. It was the other person’s fault. I completed all the formalities and got all the money from the insurance. But I was agitated and felt very sad. I met one of my uncles; while chatting I mentioned this incident to him and said that I was distraught. He told me, “Pramod, car takes us from one place to another. After you receive your car back, you won’t even know that there was an accident. Just let it go. The good thing is that in the accident no human being was hurt and you got all the money from the insurance company. What more do you want?” I gave a thought to the whole thing and then calmed down. Such things are minor in life, and my uncle explained well. So, I let go what had happened.

Another important thing is, we must learn to change our beliefs if we find that we are not right in our thinking. We have a severe pollution issue in India. Some scientifically minded people know about this but do not accept the problem. If they don’t want to change their thinking, then nothing in this world is going to help them admitting it. We also behave and act like this sometimes. We should avoid such behaviour. We believe certain things based on information available to us at that time but many new facts come up later, and we are not aware of them.

I have read about a method that can be followed. Select ten things in life and write them down. Just think what will happen if your assumptions about those ten things are wrong and how those false assumptions, when corrected,  will change your life. The list need not include things like pollution I mentioned above. The items could be, “I am lazy, and I like to procrastinate, I don’t know how to deal with people in general.” You decide without thinking that you are not lazy and you are the best people’s person in the world. If you debate with yourself, you may find that in both these cases there is a reason why these points are on the list to start with. If you change your thought process, you may become less lazy and more efficient; you will be able to deal with people much better than what you are doing currently. These changes are going to make you a better person. These changes are going to improve you as a person. But sticking to your original thinking, you will remain what you are!

Letgo3

One more thing you can do is to improve situations in life, by trying uncharted paths. You should work to learn the ability to do things with no expectation for results or accolades; this ability will train you to make these big, ambitious life decisions. It will teach you to start on something without knowing what is going to happen in future. You tread an unknown path; you may succeed or fail. But if you succeed in your endeavour, maybe you would have climbed Mount Everest; but should you fail, you may not have climbed even a small hill in your area. But to achieve significantly, you need to tread that unknown path sometimes. Many small failures on a hidden track lead you to the most notable success of your life. In short, don’t set a goal for everything when you start something new! Go with the flow and enjoy life!

To summarise, learn to let go, life is too precious to bother about small things. Learn to change your thinking don’t stick to your guns all the time, you could be wrong. Try and take the uncharted path to reach a peak in your life instead of remaining on the plateau all the time.

Without imperfections one cannot become perfect!

mistake1

At every stage, we need to act, decide, guide, advice or seek advice! We all are fallible. So everyone can and will make mistakes. Without imperfections, one cannot become perfect! It is the ladder of mistakes, some people call it experience, that one needs to climb to become perfect. One can change or improve only if we accept our mistakes wholeheartedly. We should celebrate our mistakes; this helps us to remind where we went wrong.

Making mistakes is nothing new for humans. The error we make is that we focus on the wrong things. We try to reach our goals at any cost, including moral values. We take a wrong path, we steal, we cheat. We lie. We deceive others as well as ourselves. We are afraid to talk to others openly. We see crime or fraud and don’t speak out. But don’t forget that we may be proper persons but we may make a wrong judgment or take incorrect decisions. We may later find out that we have changed totally, we have evolved as humans, we are not the son that we are, we are not the father we are, our personality has changed. Ever wonder why this has happened? But don’t forget that this has occurred due to errors or mistakes. It can happen to the best of us! The good part is that if we accept our mistakes wholeheartedly, we can become the person we have been! When we lose our path the solace is that it does not happen permanently, it is reversible.

It’s essential that after making a mistake or error in judgement, we follow the correct path and choose good options. In younger days we get a few traffic tickets or get into incidents where police had to get involved. If we the person does not learn from these mistakes then there is a problem. We can come out of the issues if we accept responsibility, but if we do not take the blame for the error, then we end up into a vicious circle of incidents which ultimately might lead to major criminal issues.

It’s not that you stumble, it’s essential that you get up. It’s not that you did something wrong but that you realise what’s happening and change. It’s not that you messed up as a friend or lover, it’s that you see ways you can be better. Having the wrong priorities is terrible enough, but realising that and refusing to change is worse. It’s not that you never took the time to smell the roses and admire the sunset, it’s that once you realise this, you take the time to notice. You make mistakes in your business. You recognise what mistakes you have made. Still, you don’t try to mend ways. Instead, you try to cheat and move ahead. In our life, for every situation, there is a feedback loop. Take it in the correct spirit, don’t take it as criticism.

Mistakes made in personal life are too private, and everybody needs to find their own way. But there can be a plan for how errors in office environments can be corrected.

mistake2

Admit your mistake

The first step about mistakes is to accept them wholeheartedly. Immediately inform your superiors. Lies and mistakes tend to get exposed at the wrong time so never try to hide. The undeclared mistake will force you to do something wrong, it will indicate a lack of professionalism. Employers value this trait the most, from the employees.

Present you superior a plan to correct the error

Once the mistake is accepted, you need to work on priority to repair the same. A mistake can sometimes have domino effect too. The plan should include correction further down the line also! Reassure the superior that the solution is the right one.

After finalisation of the plan, present it to your superiors and mention the expected results. The details should also include the time needed and costs involved if any. The second time nobody is going to accept the evil consequences. But this can happen, and there should be a plan B in case plan A does not work out. While doing all this make sure others understand your problem-solving skills.

Don’t point fingers at someone else

When you are working as a team, the mistake may have happened while making combined efforts. Though people are waiting to take the credit, mistakes are orphans. Owning the mistake will be appreciated by your superiors. When the group meeting is called others may not be willing to accept the blame. Pointing fingers is not going to help. But rest assured that for a mistake made by the team, superiors are aware as to which persons have different responsibilities.

Apologise, but don’t keep on blaming your self

Accepting the mistake is the central part of the process but no point berating yourself for the mistake; don’t scold yourself publicly. After you have given your plan to the superiors talk about solutions; you want them to forget about the mistake in the first place.

Never brag about how you correct your mistake quickly. Don’t forget that you have made a mistake in the first place.

If possible correct the mistake in your own time

You may be paid overtime pay for additional work done. But extra work due to a mistake is because of the mistake. It may be a good idea not charge company overtime pay. Let your boss know that you do not cost the company additional expense.

Friends, you must remember that correcting your mistake is about fixing the mistake. It is about explaining to superiors why it happened in the first place. How you are going to repair it at the lowest possible expenses. For your own good, it should be done discretely for natural reasons.

I am the best I never mistook self! 😀😀😀😀