Brexit, Megxit or Exit!  

 

United Kingdom could exit (brexit)  European unionWhere is the British empire heading? The empire where once the sun never set seems to be imploding. Brexit and Megxit appear to be the symptoms of this implosion. If you look at the history of Britain, they ruled the world for a couple of hundred years. Their first setback was in what came to be known as the United States of America. Boston Tea Party, in the year 1773,  in US history marked the end of the stranglehold of the British Empire. In India, the so-called Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 was the beginning of the process of the countdown of the British dominance in India. It culminated in India getting independence in 1947.

In the year 1973, Britain joined the European Union- then known as the European Economic Community. The European countries realised that countries other than Germany, Britain and France were too small to grow strongly. The coming together created the European Union in the year 1993. It is coming together of the countries and creating a competing and robust face of the Union in the fast-changing world. It created a common currency Euro and made a border-free movement of goods and people. For the practical purpose, the EU is like a country, and the different nations are the states within that country.

The EU formation created a small movement in Britain. The movement supported by people who wanted Britain to come out of the EU. It was a group of older people who remembered the Empire and had never come out of the thought that the British were driven out of most of the colonies, world over. These people were probably blind to the changes that had taken place in the world. They failed to visualise that the world economic balance was now in equal proportions between the US and the Asian countries like Japan, China and India. Europe’s only chance to compete was being together, and hence EU was a relevant development. But the narcissist Britishers voted in the referendum in 2016 to come out of the EU. The poll led to the start of the British exit- Brexit from the EU. People forgot that it was easier said than done. The past glories don’t help in future; one has to work hard to succeed. Brexit has led to significant turmoil in Britain, cutting short the career of one Prime Minister and called for an early election in the year 2019.

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The second event that is currently creating waves is Megxit. It is a request by Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, to allow them to withdraw from Senior membership from the Royal family. The withdrawal, they feel, would let them spend half their time in North America. They also thought that it would give them financial freedom. The reason for this is the hounding of Meghan, who is half African American, by the tabloid industry in Britain. The most influential and respected family in the world, the British Royal family, could not prevent these racial attacks on Meghan, who was a model and an actress before her marriage to Duke of Sussex, Harry. Is this the beginning of the end of the British monarchy as we know it? Are things imploding in Britain at a speed that may be impossible to slow down?

The thoughts behind Brexit and Megxit are quite similar. It is about thinking that they are the best. It is a thought process of Caucasian, white people who believe that the bloody Indians need to be ruled. Yes, there are internal rivalries between the French and the Germans and the British. But oh, those Poles or those Czechs! They are meant to work on construction sites or something equivalent. As the colour of the skin starts becoming darker, thinking changes. A coloured Joffra Archer is excellent, as long as he takes wickets. The moment his form dips…

Royalty with Afro American background! How is that possible? Given below is the passage from Washington post about Meghan.

Ever since she began dating Harry in 2016, Meghan has been the target of coverage that can’t even be called forensic scrutiny, as that would imply a degree of accuracy. British tabloids were funhouse mirrors when writing about her, committed not to news but the distortion of her image. She has been routinely picked apart and reassembled as a vicious caricature, the list of her alleged faults and faux pas endless. Her crimes are amorphous, ever-changing and at times opposed; she was cast as a bleeding-heart liberal or a money-grabbing social climber depending on the audience. Many hoped the arrival of her son, Archie, would help the media show a kinder side, but that was not the case. 

No tabloid said any such thing about Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge; the Wife of Williams, Harry’s elder brother.  The nearest they came to harassing her was trying to take her photos with a telephoto lens when she was on a private beach taking a skinny dip. But everything was perfect about Kate because she was a white Caucasian female who fits the template.

Britain has already started discrete and sometimes not so discrete way of showing the displeasure about Pakis. Pakis is a term generally used for Indians, Bangla Deshi’s and Pakistani people. They would send all of them back to wherever they came from if it were possible; many of them are doing exceedingly well in Britain. I will give you an example of their thought process. A Rear Admiral, retired, from Indian Navy got down at Heathrow. His post preceded his name on the passport.  A lady at the immigration counter asked him, ” Sir, do you speak English?” He smiled and said in propah British accent, “Oh, Lady! It’s Tuesday today, isn’t it? I speak English on Tuesdays, French on Wednesdays, German on Thursdays!”

Brexit is also the result of such thoughts. Free movement of goods and people is excellent as long as those Poles and Czechs do not come and take away low skilled jobs. Britishers forget that they are a part of Europe. Albanians are gangsters and Hungarians are a necessary evil; that is how the people who voted for Brexit think. These are the same people who think that royalty cannot be from a mixed-race! If someone marrying into the Royalty is Caucasian from Europe, that is fine. But they can’t be mixed blood from anywhere else; be it China or Japan or India. Mixed African-blood? Oh, my God! It is not acceptable at all.

But nothing is new in this thought process. In Hindu mythology, Gods have always been described with fair coloured skin; and demons are all the time having big moustaches and dark colour. In our society, if we meet someone who is good looking, our opinion about him/her is always fair, initially, pun intended. Similarly, if that person is fair-skinned, it is even better. We use derogatory terms describing people with a dark complexion.

The most surprising aspect in Meghan affair is that Royalty also faced significant issues at the hands of the press; the reason being the mixed-race of the Her Royal Highness Princess Meghan! Oh, sorry! I cannot say this, now she is only Princess Meghan. They have given up the title HRH now as an arrangement within the royal family as even the Royalty could not prevent hounding by the Hounds of the cousins of the Fleet Street!

A smallish nation like Britain cannot behave like this for practical reasons. Now they have almost a non-existent manufacturing base. North Sea oil will be important until petroleum products remain essential for the world economy. It is possible that after the exit from the EU, London may not remain the Financial Centre of the world.

Effects of Brexit can be challenging to predict, but there will be tough times. If the press can hound the Royalty, it can always create issues for the significant population of non-Caucasians living in Britain. Albanians. Czechs, Poles anyway will go away due to Brexit.

So, what next? Brexit-Megxit and finally Exit from the global scene? It is difficult to exist in this “bad, bad” world without collaborating with others. God save the Queen and Britain.

Out of curiosity, I saw the site www.royalsussex.com. You may also want to view it. I came to know many new things from the website about British Royalty.

Leave me alone!

Leave me alone; I am a private person. Who the hell is the world to know about my private affairs? My privacy is so important to me that I will not allow Aadhar interference. Finally, proponents of privacy won their battle in the Supreme Court, won the battle and ensured that Aadhar was delinked from many areas of our lives. The most surprising part is that financial institutes and banks have approached the Supreme Court to allow them to link their customers to Aadhar again. Why? Because they are idiots and do not know as the know-all gang knows. Mind you; I don’t want the Orwellian Big Brother watching me over my shoulders all the time.

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I was wondering what do the likes of Google know about us. Well, I can briefly say everything. Majority of cell phones in the world are android based. Whenever we do something on the phone, Google has its hand in it. It starts from unboxing the new phone to using apps, what you bought on Google Play, everywhere else. Whenever we perform these acts, the app seeks permission to access contacts, location, SMS, photos and God knows what! If we say no to anything, we get a message “Your cellphone or the app will not perform correctly.” 95 % of the people are like you and me. So we mutter a few expletives but say okay buddy take access to whatever you want. I don’t care, but Google cares. They use these permissions to monetise whatever they can. Honestly, I don’t care. I have no secrets to hide. It’s not only Google, but others like Facebook also do the same thing. I am searching for something on the net, and maybe I go to Amazon. The next day, advertisements for these products are seen on my Facebook account, while I serf.

Coming back to Google, it allows you to download the data about you that it has saved. The file can be enormous in Gigabytes, depending on our activity. The link includes your bookmarks, emails, contacts, your Google Drive files, all of the above information, your YouTube videos, the photos you’ve taken on your phone, the businesses you’ve bought from, the products you’ve purchased through Google.

These days I hear stories about men willing to accept their wives all demands if they find that the wife has the husbands cell phone in her hand. I understand that it is because the WhatsApp has quite a few “secrets” many times. Once you come to know what Google stores from your “activities”, well it saves everything. You will not allow your wife to touch your phone. It will store the details of the area you were roaming with your buddies or GF when you were supposed to be busy in the office meet the deadline. You would rather be dead if she knew where you were! You may say that Pramod is in a mood today to write some funny stuff; it’s nothing weird. I am very serious. You don’t believe it. Let me tell you all the secrets. If your spouse is in IT, then she knows the stuff anyway. But rest assured that she is ignoring your sojourns.

Here we go.

Google has data from your calendar, your Google hangout sessions, your location history, the music you listen to; they also have the Google books you’ve purchased, the Google groups you’re in, the websites you’ve created.

They also know the phones you’ve owned, the pages you’ve shared, how many steps you walk in a day.

Google stores your location (if you have location tracking turned on) every time you turn on your phone. You can see a timeline of where you’ve been from the very first day you started using Google on your phone.

Click on this link to see your data:

google.com/maps/timeline?…

Google stores search history across all your devices. That can mean that, even if you delete your search history and phone history on one device, it may still have data saved from other devices.

Click on this link to see your data:

myactivity.google.com/myactivity

Google creates an advertisement profile based on your information, including your location, gender, age, hobbies, career, interests, relationship status, possible weight (need to lose 10 lb in one day?) and income.

Click on this link to see your data:

google.com/settings/ads/

Google stores information on every app and extension you use. They know how often you use them, where you use them, and who you use them to interact with. That means they know who you talk to on Facebook, what countries are you speaking with, what time you go to sleep.
Click on this link to see your data:

security.google.com/settings/secur…

Google stores all of your YouTube history, so they probably know whether you’re going to be a parent soon, if you’re a conservative, if you’re a progressive, if you’re Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, if you’re feeling depressed or suicidal, if you’re anorexic …

Click on this link to see your own data:

youtube.com/feed/history/s…

Do you believe in me now? Or you still have some doubts. Okay. I will share details about what Facebook stores about you, discretely.

Don’t worry, and I will not write about it. Are you feeling a bit weak in the knees; are you feeling thirsty? Do you need to see your doctor? Don’t panic. The feeling was the same for us guys when a copy of Playboy magazine was found in our school bag in our younger days. But in those days, nobody knew that our friend, okay I will name him xxx, used to tell XXX stories after we completed our cricket or badminton!

Will Google use such data for nasty purpose? I don’t think so, at least I hope so. A simple response of Yes to the seemingly innocent question has led to this problem. It is tricky. Many people in the world use birth dates, abcdef, 111111 or such simple variations as passwords. Accessing your accounts with these passwords can be done by you and me too!

The other extreme was a friend. We went and stayed with him for a couple of days; Jaya and I requested access to his wifi network. He collected our phones and laptop and went to his library at home. I said, “Don’t worry, I will punch the password.” He smiled and said, “I use a password which is 26 characters long”. Phew!

Is what Google and Facebook doing the right thing? They claim that they collect the data to make our experience personalised. Maybe! They ask for permission to access, and we give permission every time because it makes things more convenient. We use the Google map, and they need to know the location. But they save all the activity that we did. Many apps make our life easier. There is no doubt about that. So finally it comes to Privacy Vs Convenience!

All things have their plus and minus points. If you have no secrets to hide, if you easily handover your cell phone to your wife, you have no issues. But else…

You have already handed over the control to Google; mind you, I have not written about how Facebook watches you! Sleep well!

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I have stopped reading! 

Have I stopped reading? I feel as if I have done so. You must have smiled knowing what I am going to say. I miss the smell of the new book, and I miss the smell of old books. I miss my dogeared books. Pramod is getting nostalgic and is using the wellearned right to use the phrase, “in my young days”! It is nothing of the sort! I keep on churning my blogs on various subjects, almost every alternate day. You can describe my yearly output as high! Without reading a lot, I cannot write regularly. 

But then why am I making this statement? Here is what is happening. Except for newspapers, I read everything on a screen. I write everything on the screen. Sometimes I am afraid that I may not be able to write on a paper with a pen. I am scared that my bank may not accept my signature because it does not match with their records– luckily, I do not write too many cheques these days.  

Let me explain. When I am reading digitally, I am not able to concentrate the way I used to in olden days. There are too many interrupts. I keep getting intimations of WhatsApp messages, SMS messages; e-mail received, and so on. I get lured to that ping which interrupts my thought processes. After great efforts, finally, my mind is interrupted, and I read that message or the email. The interrupts do disturb me, but I get lured to that text. The thought process that got created in my mind while reading got interrupted. If the interrupt is such that I need to act on it immediately, I do that.  

In my olden days, when I used to read that book curling down in that corner, the only interruptions would be from my mother or Jaya. They knew better and gave that look or a lecture when I went to the table for a meal or a coffee. Job done, I would be back with the book and went back to nirvana pose.  

What do the interrupts do? One day, I was reading a book, and I had decided that I would complete at least one chapter. It was an exciting book, and I was confident that I would easily accomplish my task. My phone was near me, and I had kept my kindle away. Within thirty minutes, I got many “interrupts” on the phone. I had become Vishvamitra and interrupts were the Menaka luring me from my Tapasya. I could not continue reading the book for more than fifteen minutes. Menaka won, and I picked up the phone. I saw many things that could have easily waited. In one message, there was a link. I clicked on that link which gave me three more links. I went into the loop, click the links, and after spending more than forty minutes on things unrelated to what I was reading, I stopped. I was sitting, twiddling my thumbs with different thoughts in my mind. I almost picked up the book, but suddenly that remote came in my hand and started going through the list on Netflix! That my friends is the power of interrupts.   

Now I am used to reading in the interrupt mode. I am not saying that I read less than what I used to read before. Maybe I read much more than I used to read, but not necessarily from a book, I have selected. I switch to read my book on my kindle. When I switch from screen to screen, I feel less disturbed. Once I change my mind to “interrupt” reading, I am okay.  

Nowadays, I hear that kids use the internet for studies in certain areas. They do not buy books. I thought undergrad courses had specific syllabi. So how do you do your studies using the internet? There are so many distractions, many links; there is a lot of additional information and data available. How do you learn only specific information from your syllabus?  

The speed with which the information reaches you is unbelievable. It is impossible to keep track of the same. It is not only about keeping track, but it is also about filtering out the specific information which you need. When the internet came initially, I did not understand the effects it will have on humanity. I thought, how I will change my life-long habit of reading printed books.  How will I change my habit of reading the weekly and monthly magazines? I could never imagine myself reading on my phone and the kindle. Even today, I prefer the large screen of the laptop as against reading on a kindle or my cell phone. I have got myself a small foldable table which can adjust as per my position sitting or lying down. It only changes the comfort but not the basic change from the printed book to the screen. 

I feel that we have become more intolerant of things. Further to this intolerance, there is continuous addition of more stimuliThe relentless data and information that keeps on coming to you make one feel as if we are on an assembly line which never stops. The situation does not allow you to assimilate the information you have processed. We get a feeling of a never-ending process.  

I will share an example. On our WhatsApp group, a friend asked some information about passport rule. Our friend must have become dazed after other friends shared relentless information and experiences. That was classic example of information overload.  Whether he got the information he needed, I am not sure.

But one thing will never come back. When I studied, I had to give full (and I could give) attention to what read. I could get fully immersed in reading love stories. I could delve deep into what I was reading. I could give full attention to the classics that I read. While in school, there was a specific way of learning the poems. Some of those poems, I know by heart even today! With the switchover to digital media reading, that feeling of getting immersed in reading will never come back.   

On the positive side, what we lose in feeling, we will get the benefit of the tremendous amount of information that is available by clicking and clicking. In olden days research was an arduous task, especially in India because many international books and journals were not quickly available. Now, you can get a lot of information and data by free or paid subscriptions. You get an email update link for the latest information.  

Whether the old way of reading books or using a screen to read is the correct way, only time will tell. Take care and don’t ask me to publish some of my blogs in book form. I will send you a link, click it and read whatever and whenever you want!  

Subtle changes in the lifestyle! 

In the year 2016, Jaya and I had taken an Alaska cruise. One day, while entering the lift (elevator), I observed that there was a mat on the lift floor with excellent little design, and Wednesday was written on the same. Then we both realised that we had lost track of time. We had boarded on a Sunday, and it was already Wednesday. They were changing the mat every day so that people did not lose track of days.

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There were so many things to do on the cruise, and there were shore excursions. We were in our own world, busy with something or sometimes just doing nothing. We used to sit in the balcony of our cabin to gaze at the sea and the waves. When we used to enter a  harbour, we could see small, lush green hills or sometimes there were tall mountains near the shore.

Recently after coming back from Canada, I got a similar feeling at home. We were with Priya, Nikhil and Rhea in Canada. After coming back, we realised that day to day schedule is not at all rushed, except when we are going for dinners and parties or movies. Jaya and I do some professional work which keeps us busy two to three days in the month!

In this month, we have to attend four marriage ceremonies which will keep us busy. Then next Monday, Jaya has the US visa dropbox appointment so that we will be going there. But in general, there are no specific must-do programs or events. A couple of times, I asked Jaya what day is it today? Then I realised that we had reached a phase in our life where there are hardly any must-do things on any day. The solution to this, I thought, was to keep track of day and date. We have a perpetual calendar at home, but it does not have the day display. I ordered one from Amazon. The calendar will help me keep track of dates and days.

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By ordering this calendar from Amazon, I made the physical and mental change that will keep track of the days too. Such need was never felt before.

I am aware that we have reached the golden phase in our lives, and need to take benefit out of the time available to us. I go to a gym, and Jaya has made a new year resolution to join the gym from 1st January. So, we will have a gym as one of our regular activities. Jaya’s second new year resolution is to restart painting. I did my Oxford online course to put me out of my comfort zone. The course was my first formal learning in writing English Literature. While in school, I learnt English from 7th grade to 11th  grade. All my engineering education was in English. The Oxford course kept my mind busy for those 2 ½ months as I was probably the only student in that class who had never taken courses in literature, before!

2020 will be the first year where our life will be timeless, similar to weightlessness in space. I have read a few things about space travel and found out that with weightlessness, many necessary activities need to be performed differently and carefully. There will be family commitments, but they will be much less if we compare to all these years, with both the children living abroad.

As the ageing process, this change in lifestyle happens subtly and not suddenly. We have now decided that get the body conditions checked regularly; the frequency will be as per doctors advice. Yesterday we were with our ENT friend for a basic checkup. I had a bit of cold too! I told him that I get dryness in the throat and have a problem swallowing dry food. He said, “Pramod, this is also part of the ageing process. Now you will realise why I have suggested yearly check-up of organs. Before you eat dry stuff, drink a sip of water to make your throat wet.”

Meeting doctors and their fraternity is going to be more frequent and essential now. These meetings were very few in younger days. Currently also, by God’s grace, these visits are not due to illness but for audit check-ups. The subtle changes are bound to take place. Your body is always sending you signals. If you get any different signal, get it checked. Delay in such checking can cause unforeseen health issues. With our age, doctors can find it challenging to handle illnesses if we ignore body signals.

I know of a family who has delayed in reaching the doctors and consequences of this delay are devastating. The changes in body conditions were not subtle but were distinct. One day the friend called me because he wanted to take an appointment with a neuro physician, I know. I organised that. They went and saw the doctor, and gave me the feedback. They were happy with the doctor.

Later, when I met my doctor friend, I asked her if things were under control with my friend’s daughter. She said, “I have started the treatment, but they have come to me five years late. The daughter who is nearing 40 now can barely walk; she has a lot of pain. She cannot climb even three-four steps. Another thing, your friend also looked unwell. So, I casually asked him how was his health. He said that his diabetes is under control.” I told the doctor that this friend is going through dialysis twice a week. His kidneys are damaged because of diabetes.” She was shocked and said that it looks like your friends family does not understand the seriousness of things in life.

I have mentioned the above episode because I am talking about subtle changes but this family ignored even strong signals. On top of this,  my friend has not accepted that he has severe health issues.

Our decision to keep regular checks of body organs makes sense. I hope all my friends in this Golden phase are doing the same regularly. Longevity has gone up. So keeping track of subtle changes in the body make sense to have a good quality of life.

We have also decided to have some time table of doing things and will try to keep our brain busy. Subtle changes in brain functions can be easily ignored by saying, “Oh, now that I am passed 70, I am bound to forget things.” That is true to some extent. But let the doctors decide the source of the signal, it may not be related to ageing. It could be that hearing is reduced; it could be that your brain functioning in certain areas is changing slowly.

So keep on doing something, give time to friends. Family always gets priority anyway. Locate some people who need company. It could be your neighbour or it could people living in older people’s home. If you spend some time with them once in a while, you will see a smile on their faces.

That reminds of the tagline of Voice of America radio station, making their broadcast from Colombo during my school days. “If you see someone without a smile, give him one of yours.”

So go and buy that perpetual calendar and keep track of date and day both. I am sure you understand what I mean. Make sure that you have something to look forward to, next Thursday and Monday after that, every week. Don’t forget that every day is a Sunday in the timelessness zone of our life. It is in our hands to make the days count! It is our responsibility to ensure that we live the golden phase of our life with minimum outside support.

Our life is not a seven-day cruise. You need to find ways of keeping you busy with your mind and body activities!

Better India!

My dear friend Shrikant wrote a message on our WhatsApp group, which truly reflected his frustration. But It is not only his frustration but all of us have the same feelings. I will briefly write what he said. “Since I remember, I feel as if I am living in a vicious circle of development and expansion. First, the roads are broken, then later they are broadened because of capacity issues. Then comes tarring, and then the time comes to build flyovers! After that, the time for concretisation comes. All the time we have pollution and traffic congestion. Now at the age of 70, I am looking at the Metro project coming up. There are so much indiscipline and chaos that I am fed up, mainly because I have to go Chakan every day! I hope now at in this phase of my life I will sometime see everything going smoothly with regulated traffic and less chaotic life!”

He is right, and he has hit the bull’s eye with his thoughts. All of us have the same feelings. There have been responses saying that the development is a never-ending cycle; the fruits of work done by grandfathers are for the grandchildren to enjoy etc. These responses are also correct. The phenomenon of development cycle happens all over the world. But to me, Shrikant’s frustration has a different connotation.

British rule ensured that our infrastructure remained poor. In the US, highways were built in the 30s /40s of last century. Hitler built autobahns in Germany in 30s of the last century. In India, this cycle has started in the last twenty years!

We as Indians have diverse culture, 25 main languages, snow-clad mountains and lovely beaches; we are a nation of diversity. But we have one common culture that of personal and public indiscipline, and I care two hoots attitude! It is not only on the roads; you go anywhere in public place; things will be chaotic. We at heart have remained villagers from the time of Baba Adam! This attitude continues irrespective of whether you are rich or poor, educated or uneducated. One can give many day-to-day examples. In the cities or towns, one basic rule is followed, not to follow any rule. Shrikant was talking of Chakan. In Chakan and many towns, there is an excellent four-lane road. But the divider in between is sometimes breached “officially” under pressure from politicians, and at other times unofficially. For taking a U-turn, people do not want to drive a Km or two more! Cutting corners where ever possible is there in our DNA! Add to that indiscriminate parking in such towns along the roads. Driving on the wrong side of the roads is also very common!

If you drive on Mumbai Pune Expressway, which is like an expressway, anywhere in the world, we sometimes see people driving Motorcycles on the road skirting! The road is meant only for four-wheelers and multi-axle vehicles! There are two places where you pay the toll. Near these toll booths, there are washrooms. But we invariably see a few men relieve themselves in the open about 100 to 200 meters away from the urinals. In the main city areas, there is a thought process that vehicles used by the government departments can be parked anywhere, including on footpaths. Cutting the red signal is a norm rather than the exception. The police department tries to discipline, but when a significant % of people start breaking the rules, how many police can you deploy?

These aspects should be taught to children right from KG schools. But when their mothers break the rules, children grow up thinking the same way. I was waiting at a signal to cross the road in Montreal a couple of weeks back. My granddaughter Rhea was with me; she is six years old. She asked me a question, “Why don’t people in Pune wait for the signal to turn green?” I had no answer. When there is a traffic jam in Pune, we see people driving their motorcycles on the footpaths to move ahead! All of them are “busier” than the Prime Minister of the country and have no time to wait!

World over in most cities, there is work in progress for an extended period! In Boston, the tunnel work was going on for ten years. In Mumbai, flyovers were built over a few years. Same is true with Metro. But if the primary discipline is not followed, the indiscipline and chaos will never go away. The problem is not city-specific, it is India specific.

In today’s newspapers in Pune, there was a news item. A car used by an officer of the Municipal Corporation was parked on the footpath. It used to be at a specific place, with the driver sitting in the car. The driver was told to park it in the right zone. The driver said, “The car is used by Asst Commissioner!” The police were not impressed. After the same suggestion for a couple of days was ignored, on the third day, they put a jammer on the car and fined him Rs.2000/. The officer tried to pull rank on the policeman, but they were not impressed. He had to pay the fine.

As against this, I had read a story. Commissioner of Tel Aviv was found talking on a cell phone while driving his car. A police officer stopped him; he did not recognise the commissioner. He fined him but later came to know that he was their biggest boss! The next day, he was called to the commissioner’s office. The policeman was worried and was trying to find a way out of the situation. To his surprise, the commissioner received him in his office, and there was a two-minute ceremony. The Commissioner congratulated the policeman for doing his duty, issued a special commemorative certificate for performing his duties in an exemplary manner! It shows the difference between developed and undeveloped societies.

In India, we are lucky that because of the temperate weather we can do all our development work almost round the year. In cities like Montreal, because of the snow in winter, the road work can be done only during 6 to 7 months in a year when there is no snow. So, every year, on many roads, some repair work or the other is going on all the time. New development work is also going on during this period. Traffic gets choked, it gets slowed down, but no motorcycles are driven on footpaths! On the street where we lived, pipeline work was going on for almost four weeks. Car parking was not allowed from 7 am to 7 pm. Not a single car was ever parked during this period!

So Shrikant, it is about self-discipline, it is about the implementation of rules. Improved traffic rules have been created by the Central Government; hefty fines have been suggested. But the state governments don’t want to implement this because of expected public backlash. It is the will of the people, will of the government that needs to change. Development thing is going to be WIP all our life!

I am an absolute optimist, but I told a 25-year-old boy the other day, that if the primary self-discipline does not become our culture, India will be at the same place even after 50 years! (Of course, I won’t be around!)

But many good things are happening! Metros are made ready in ¾ years, ISRO is doing a great job, online payments, online railway bookings are improving day by day at breakneck speed! Many good things are happening, but people’s attitude is not changing. The problems we face daily are the result of this unchanged attitude! Let us hope at some stage this will also change.

70 plus 500 is equal to Nil!

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I don’t know if this is a blog or a retrospection! The meaning of the title is a bit odd. But I completed 70 th year on 7th October, and this is my 500th blog on the  8 th October, Dussehera, one of the significant festivals of Hindus! So, I can say that these two events, or maybe milestones, were reached on two consecutive days! But the meaning of the title is that I am resetting both figures 70 and 500 to zero. It is going to be the new beginning of a phase in my life, the length of which I do not know!  

What will resetting 70 achieve? What will resetting 500 achieve? Honestly, I feel a little embarrassed to mention the blog number when I publish one. But I do not know how to keep track of these numbers. There is no target; there is nothing to prove! I have been a reasonable engineer but never a writer! Someone asked me what my objective of publishing the blogs is? There is no objective or a target, and there is simply passion. What created this passion is very difficult to say.  

I started creating some technical documents during my software business. The need for these documents was to have full clarity and avoid ambiguity. As the projects began becoming larger and customers started becoming more demanding, the need for clarity went up and up! It helped me to write what I wanted to say with clarity; this is helping me while writing the blogs. Some friends tell me that I don’t write precisely like an engineer but argue from both sides. When I write the blog, I am not proving anything or anyone right or wrong. Hence, I write more than one viewpoints. The idea is to delve on a thought or an event or a situation. Get an overall feel and then go deeper into the subject. Some blogs need me to research on the net. Some issues are memories from my life; others are experiences that acquired over a period or got them while on the go!  

But the idea is to start writing as thoughts are gathered for a blog in my mindMy friend Jayprakash has divided my blogs into two types, impulsive and compulsive! He has hit the bull’s eye!  I have given below one example each of Impulsive and Compulsive blogs.

Impulsive blog 

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/06/08/brave-art/ 

Compulsive blog 

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/08/13/article-370-common-mans-view/ 

Impulsive blogs are visualised by me like setting the destination on Google maps. I know the beginning, the middle and the end at the start itself. These are written almost in one shot. Whereas for the compulsive blogs, I generally know the beginning and have a vague end in mind. I am not sure what I am going to writeIt can be compared with the olden way of looking for an address. I stop, I think and then move forward. It is like getting down from the car and asking the autorickshaw chap or pan walla for the direction to reach my destinationBut I reach my destination missing a turn or two.  

To me, the most important part is the end productThe result of my satisfaction can be achieved by editing and fine-tuning before I publish; it is the toughest aspect of blog writingI also use an English checking software called Grammarly, which is of great help! For images, quotes or diagrams, Google baba is always there to help! I think, in the end, it is your comments, suggestions, discussions that help me get better. I know there is still enormous scope for improvement. So here I declare my target! I have no targetbut I am going to do my best to improve to the best of my abilities!  

Now about the resetting of the number 70! Many of my friends and classmates have been reaching this landmark (if it can be called landmark) in 2019 as they were born in 1949. When I ask them about their feelings, I am mostly getting pleasant responses. Some have gone through major tragedies; some have suffered health issues. In some cases, health problems continue. In other cases, the event was a onetime health event. Friends have said thGat they mostly feel as if they are 15/20 years younger! I am sure such thoughts come to mind when life has treated you generally well. But a friend suffered a major tragedy in her young age, but I was happy to note that she was also quite enthusiastic about life in general. But someone haat this age faced the death of his 45-year-old son in an accident. The usual adage of time helps to heal all the wounds may not work in tragedies of such nature!  

Resetting the counter at the age of 70 opens up many vistas! My blog published yesterday discusses the benefits of the golden period of our life! 

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/10/07/the-beauty-of-the-golden-period/ 

It will open many possibilities in life, and you will wonder why you did not do certain things in life! Have a glass of wine if you have never done it before– it is no big deal. World over, the people do enjoy a drink or two! सोमरस  has always been discussed in our mythological storiesMention of  सोमरस can give you the moral support you want. Join some clubs and enjoy playing cards! Try and spend some time doing social work, give time for needy. There are many lonely people in this world because of many reasons. Don’t wait to create some big system which will help others. By all means, do it, but you can start with small selfhelp groups in your locality. Go to old people’s home in your neighbourhood and spend some time with these lonely people. The meaning of resetting is simply to bring back your enthusiasm to do whatever you want to doDon’t do it to prove something but do it to give satisfaction to yourself and help othersMeet friends, phone them up! Meet your cousins, they will be probably of the same age as you are 

Resetting of the number 70 is a significant phase in your life. What you plan and do after reset is going to decide the way you are going to live in the golden period of your life. It is very easy to get entangled into a rut and a sad, unpleasant mindset. I have some definite plans in my mind, which I am going to try and see if they work. We tend to become rigid in our thought process as we grow older, so I am going to attempt to become more flexible. Empathy is one more aspect which all of us have to some extent; I will try my best show more empathy towards others! I want to delete the word EGO from my dictionary today.

Some of my friends have jokingly told me that I had reached a stage where I will have to be treated by paediatricians; I will try not to be treated by any doctor as far as possible. I would instead meet them socially, with that famous glass of wine I mentioned above 

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What will change/not change in the next ten years?

During the last twentyfive years, things have changed so much in the world technologically and otherwise that people find it difficult to predict what will happen in the next five or ten years! Change has happened in India and world over. It has changed many business processes. It has made life both easy and challengingThe methods of travelling may vary, but people would still want to meet face to face!  

What else will not change? Customers will keep on asking for more discount or lesser price. This aspect of the business is never going to change. People will expect better and better service from companies; BOTS may reduce human resources, but the quality of service ultimately has to be managed by humans.  

What is definitely not going to change is people and their behaviourPeople are good and evil, smart and dumb! People are generous, and they are greedy! But the fundamental nature of people will never change. The institutions like marriage may change; livein relationships may increase, but people are not going to stop giving birth to kidsThe legal status of progeny may be different, but this is like the cycles in the fashion industry.  Ten thousand years back, people lived in communes! Institution of marriage did not exist. The same may happen in the world. The % of such couples may increase in the world!  

What will happen to institutions like governments and nations? In place of globalisation, there could be policy reversal and countries will try and safeguard their interests. But will the United Nations change? No, it will not! The concept of the United Nations was started with Noble thoughts, but when it comes to self interests, especially of large and powerful nations, things will changeA classic example of such things is the sudden reversal by the US about their commitments to environmental change movement.  

Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg is one change that is likely to happen. It is about young people coming forward to take charge of the future. The classic case of young people not taking part in the referendum is Brexit. Young people in Britain took this referendum casually, and many of them did not take part in it. The end result is there for us to see. Young people not taking part in matters that may affect their future is a common thing the world over. Malala Yousafzai and Greta Thunberg are the exceptions to the rule. I will be most happy if I am proven wrong. Greta Thunberg, all of 16 years of age, gave an emotional speech in the United Nations about the environment. She also led the Environmental march in Montreal, Canada. The movement was attended by fifty thousand people. So, there is a hope that people to whom this is going to matter will get more involved. 

Another thing that is not going to change is natural disasters. Natural disasters have been part of our life all the time. The population of the world has increased tremendouslyA classic example of natural disasters causing huge damages and deaths is the Tsunami in the year 2004. After an earthquake measuring nineplus near Indonesia, resulted in Tsunami, which hit India’s east coast. This coast is not prone to be hit by Tsunamis, but that is nature. More than one hundred thousand people were killed, and property worth the US $ 15 billions were damaged.  

Another natural disaster hit Mumbai on 26th July 2005. On that day, within twentyfour hours, it rained 944 mmthe previous record was 575 mm in twenty-four hrs in 1974 in Mumbai. In 2005 rain deluge, almost 1100 people died in Mumbai floods. There is a tendency to blame the builders, corporation, and people in general who are not bothered about environmental damage. The quantity of rain on 26th July would have caused floods in any city in the world. No cities in the world are designed to handle such deluge. 

A rain-related disaster happened in Pune recently; in four hours it rained 135 mmThe same standard blame game is on. Though part of it is correct, there is an important reason.  

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The image above (shared by my friend Prakash)  shows the old waterways in Pune. These were designed 250 years back. The waterways always have a specifically designed capacity to handle water flow. But the deluge for four hours on 25th September was too much for these waterways. All these years at least I have never heard of so much damage due to rains in Pune. I will share one example. One of the waterways passes behind the compound wall of a housing society. The waterway started overflowing, and water pressure forced the compound wall to come down like a pack of cards. There were more than 400 cars in society, mostly in the basement parking. The basement was filled with water, and all the cars were sunk. All these new buildings and societies have come up in the last 30 to 40 years. Waterways were there even during those 30 to 40 years. But fortunately, there was no deluge during that period.  These unprecedented rains were destiny and increased population added to the woes of people. The area was sparsely populated before all the houses came up to accommodate the increased population, not necessarily breaking the rules.  

The cheats and corrupts will always be there, that will never change. Their method would change, and there is a chance that the amounts involved would be massive. Frauds would be done mostly using technology and computers. One person was in charge of computer systems in a large bank. He came up with a brilliant idea. In one of the systems, the amount was always rounded off to close the transaction. The gentleman came up with a neat idea. He opened an account discreetly, for which only he had access. From each transaction, the rounded off amount would be transferred to this account. There were thousands of such transactions. At the end of a couple of years, he emptied this particular account. He had become a millionaire!  

Humans, their nature and greed, nature and its fury are some of the things that are never going to change. Society rules might change, but basic societies will never change; that is because humans are never going to change.  One thing that looks like changing is that younger people are taking responsibilities and will push the authorities for a better future.