The Final Journey!

Don’t follow rituals blindly, instead learn from their teachings!

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Eleven  people died in the land slide when pilgrims going to Kedarnath got trapped. Two people died and about 1000 are trapped but now most are rescued! This happened in Pashupati nath and Manasarovar yatra. This was due to inclement weather. A friend of mine went for Char Dham yatra sometime back. Before starting the journey when they were already near Himalayas, he had fever. He decided to brave it out. He really had a tough time for a long time, after coming back. I am aware that all these pilgrimages, are about religious belief and individual choice. When people take informed decisions, it is for them to decide where to go when to go! At the end of the journey, there is proverbial rainbow of achieving Nirvana!  

Travel is one of the biggest teachers that teaches us about many things about life. But what is the reason for taking up any journey? Above journeys are for religious reasons and there are journeys for enjoyment, rest, and some are adventure journeys. For adventure journeys, people normally prepare in advance and such journeys are taken at an early age when the mind and body are both alert and strong. My observation is that above mentioned pilgrimages are in Himalayas, taken much later in life, to achieve peace of mind by following traditional religious practices. This is risky because of the age factor as well weather and young age of Himalayas.  Himalayas are very unstable.

I did a bit of research to find out the significance of these journeys in Himalayas. Things appear pretty vague and nowhere is any mention made that these journeys are a must as per mythology! The Mahaprasthanika Parva of Pandavas, started when they took the final journey, is consistently mentioned in various discussions! At the end of Mausala Parva, Vyasa advises Arjuna and his brothers to retire and renounce their kingdom as the purpose of their life has been served. Arjuna informs Yudhishthira of Vyasa’s advice. Draupadi and the brothers agree. So, it was about renouncing everything and taking the final journey.  

In fact, the story from Mahabharat of the Mahaprasthanika Parva should be used by people to understand life and follow the path shown in the Parva. When Pandvas started their final journey, Draupadi fell and died first! (Depicted in first picture below) Every one of them died because of their frailties. Draupadi died because she was partial towards Arjun. Yudhisthira said that all should be treated the same way. Next to die was Sahadeva; he died because of his pride and vanity. He felt that none of them was equal to him in wisdom. After that was Nakula’s turn; he also died because of pride and vanity. He always thought that he was the most handsome man in the world. Next was Arjuna; he too died because of his pride and vanity. He always used to boast that he was the best warrior in the world. He once told Yudhisthira that if needed, he could kill all his enemies in one day. Next was Bhima; he had the vice of gluttony, he never used to bother if others needed food! This story explains us about life’s frailties and their effect on us!

I must share one very important aspect from this story. Pandavas befriended a dog on their last journey. (Depicted in picture on the right side)  After all of them die except Yudhishthira, Lord Indra in his chariot arrives to pick him up to take him to heaven. Yudhishthira refuses to climb into the chariot without the dog! Finally the dog transforms and appears as deity Dharma. He told Yudhishthira, that his job was to check if Yudhishthira kept his virtues under all circumstances! When we live our life, the deity Dharma is hovering around us too,  in the form of  a virtual dog! It always keeps on tracking if we keep our moral standards high all the time. But we humans don’t learn these important teachings and try to follow blindly the so called traditions without understanding the thought process behind them.

When people take this arduous journey in the Himalayas in today’s times, do they take it as a final journey? What would be purpose of this journey otherwise? Is it adventure? Is it a trek? Is it pilgrimage? There are major weather-related issues on these journeys in Himalayas; besides that for Kedarnath yatra there is always a terrorist threat. Weather even in summer is always inclement. At least, I don’t see any logical reason to take up these journeys! The mythology clearly mentions that it was the final journey of Pandvas as Vyas Muni had suggested to them that their purpose of life was served.  

I feel that people should not follow rituals of going on these journeys blindly, without understanding the real meaning of these stories; in today’s time, it is never intended to be the last journey. Instead people must make sure they have no vanity, no vices. They should be considerate to others. They should treat everybody equally.  They should be humble though, all can not reach Yudhishthira’s virtues. 

Himalayan sojourn is taken up without giving a thought whether it is right thing to do. From the family’s perspective, is it correct to take such risky journeys? What did the people who died, achieve? To my knowledge, after talking to many people who have taken this journey, they are not sure if it was worth the risk, though they may have achieved “Nirvana”! But none of them had taken such a journey following philosophy of Pandvas. For one of my recent blogs, the title was “Was it worth”? But the journey I had mentioned in that blog was a hectic journey but not an arduous and risky. Are these Himalayan pilgrimages worth it?

Similarly, I want to ask the same question if it is worth it, when the journey is very tough, where deaths occur regularly? To me correct thing will be to learn from the teachings given in mythological stories instead of blindly following the rituals! People mainly forget that Pandvas had started their “Final Journey” so risks did not really matter!  

Life’s Priorities!

Decide life’s priorities and try to give closure to events!

I heard recently about  death of someone at the age of around 70. He was a professional working in a consulting company. He had an accident within office premises and died a few days later. Both his children were in the US at that time, one of them rushed back home. The other did not come. We went and met the family and while sharing their grief with us, the mother told us that it was a family decision that the other child will not come. The reason, he had visa issue in the US and hence could not travel outside US with a fear that he may not be able to go back to the US!

What is the meaning of life? When we are born we are not invited to be born but are a result of relationship between two persons, who follow the natural process of procreation. So, when we are born we have no control on our sex, family, place of birth and time of birth. Even the couple does not have control on the sex of the child born! Some of them follow method of “trying’ to have male child by illegal routes (at least in India) of sex determination and abortions. So, it is possible that the embryo formed may never be born if the parents don’t want it to be born. Maybe hundreds or thousands of Rani Laxmibai’s, Indira Gandhi’s, Kalpana Chwla’s or Indra Nuyi’s of this world have been lost to the mankind even before they were born, as someone did not want a girl child!

What makes a family? A family is unit of people where we have parents, children, maybe grandparents. The families are made up of circles which sometime cross each other. To me the inner most circle is husband, wife and children. The grandparents come in the next circle and uncles, aunts and cousins come in the circle after that. Friends come somewhere in between. The death I mentioned above happened in the first circle. Nothing in this world is so important that when death happens within this first circle, including visa issues,  person can not be with the family. To me it is okay, if you miss a joyous occasions but one should never miss the sad events for any reason, especially deaths in the first circle. What could be sadder than the death of your own father? What family decision are we talking about? The worst-case scenario would have been that the prodigal son would have been required to move back to India for good. India is not a jungle. There are opportunities galore in India. Even the senior level ex expatriates are now taking up jobs in India.

Will this prodigal son ever be happy to continue living in USA or where ever he lives in future? When you do not attend the funeral of your own father, will you be able to ever overcome what you did? When you don’t give closure to such events they keep on haunting you! To my knowledge the relationship between father and the son was normal. Who helped him to take this decision? His sister was much younger so it was his mother who pushed him to take this decision. Is it pragmatism? Were there no emotions involved? Did the son never feel that he should have a last look at his father? Is he a weakling or an emotionless person? Is so called better life so important?

Humans use many things in their lives like clothes, cars, laptops and cell phones. In the event of losing any of these items, we humans are quite uneasy for some time. It is not about the money aspect. Humans tend to get attached to the things they own. Homes and land are things about which humans are exceptionally emotional. I know of a family who live in another town away from Pune. They had a home in Pune. They found it very difficult to manage it. Someone suggested that they dispose it off. The owner of the house said, “Over my dead body”! This reaction is the other extreme of the reaction, compared to one by our prodigal son. He thought that he need not even have a last look at the dead body. Maybe for humans land and homes are above your dead father, in the pecking order!

When we use clothes during the day, they get soiled. Next day we change them, wash and iron them for reuse. The clothes are as good as new again. This does not happen in case of us humans. We spend the day in the same clothing, humans also get soiled and next day after bath they are new again. Are they? No, they are not. Humans have mind. The soiled body may become as good as new again. But there is no simple solution to cleanse mind. The “soiling” of mind does not get “cleaned” as easily like clothes and our body! Sometimes there are deep injuries to the mind, sometimes some part is torn. The event of death mentioned above, and of not being able to attend the funeral of one’s own father, can damage and spoil mind’s fabric to a large extent! Maybe damage will be somewhat irreversible! There is a saying, “time is the great healer of everything” but I am not sure how this absence during father’s death will affect human mind. Will time heal the damage 100 percent?

Friends be careful when you do anything in life. Sometimes you may unknowingly damage someone’s mind by your action or your inaction. This can happen in lovers, this can happen in close friends, this can happen in family! Before concluding anything, think twice if you feel that the interaction can cause irreversible damage. We humans are very sensitive people and we need to decide life’s priorities. Being pragmatic is not good in all situations. The damage that occurs to one’s mind or soul is invisible many  times. Materialistic things are not ultimate things in life. Most important for any humans  in life, is to have empathy. Person with empathy will think twice, if required thrice to ensure that the other person’s mind is never disturbed, damaged or torn. Mind you,  this is equally true in our own life too!

Was it worth it?

Play a positive zero sum game of life!

Last week we went to Seattle to attend our grandson’s 12th grade graduation ceremony. We really enjoyed the ceremony. We were also very happy to be present for the milestone event of Suyash’s life. Now he joins the university to start computer engineering course! It was a bit hectic but enjoyable. After traveling a lot around the world, our mind gets used to long flights and handling such long journeys, in a short period of time..

Yesterday we bumped into our neighbour, who is 7 to 8 years senior to me. He asked me about the ceremony and then he said that he had a query. He asked me that if it was really worth traveling all the way to US and come back, for a four day stay? Is it not physically tiring? Does it not cause jet lag issues? Was there any necessity to do it? I told him that there was a family reason to come back in four days! Now the decision! Yes, we thought it was more than worth it to attend our grandson’s milestone event!

While planning, we never discussed if it was possible to take up this journey, it was assumed that we will be able to handle it! I am pragmatic in what I do and respect our age which is nearing 70! Fortunately, both of us are reasonably fit! But we did take precautions to make our journey less arduous! We took a flight from Pune to Delhi and slept for a few hours at the airport transit hotel. Then we took our 14-hour flight to Vancouver! Similarly, after 14-hr flight back from Toronto to Delhi, we stayed overnight at the transit hotel; we slept for straight six hours and took a flight back to Pune at 8.30 next morning!

First and foremost is that we were not trying set a record, making the short trip with longest journey! The situation at that time demanded we do it. Secondly, it was possible both physically and financially to handle this. There was no specific requirement to reach Pune by taking a late-night flight! With all conditions being suitable, we decided to go ahead with our plan.

Our lives are divided in four stages of childhood, education and entry into married life, matured life after 40’s when things are both hectic and are stabilizing. Lastly, it’s the golden period in our life when most of our responsibilities are over and financial requirements are much less for our day to day things. In first two phases we really don’t have much freedom and means to take our own decisions. In most cases decisions are taken by someone else. In last two phases, we can take our own decisions.

Question remains whether it was really worth it? This calls for understanding of what life is. Life to me is sum total of small events, in life. The events can be routine, some could be milestone events. Some are happy events, some are sad events. For happy events we come together to spread the joy; in sad events we come together to be with each other, to support each other. By sharing the joyful events we multiply the joy and by sharing the sad events, we divide the sorrow! This to me is the basic principle of life!

Life is never a big event full of joy! It is small events that make it joyful! Eating food every day in a five-star hotel is not fun. But if you go to such places once in a while it’s fun! We don’t go there only for food. It is the ambience, the atmosphere that adds to the joy. No food can beat your home food if we consider only the food aspect. But it is the planning, getting ready, getting decked up and meeting a few friends in that atmosphere, which creates joy.

But events like taking your child or grand-child to play in a garden, eating bhajias while it is drizzling in monsoon, meeting a long-lost friend suddenly after a long time are the events that add to our joys! Similarly, events like illnesses in the family, failure of someone in family/friends to achieve a goal, (there is always a second time) your favourite team losing in a sporting event are the small sad events that add up to our sorrows. It is sum total of joys and sorrows that makes our life!

With families spreading world over, due to migration, it is becoming tougher to be present in both joys and sorrows! Sometimes, it is not possible because of financial constraints, sometimes it is not possible due to health reasons, for family to be together for even larger events of both joy and sorrow! I know a family where the son could not travel back to India due to his visa issues, when his not very old father died. That of course, is another subject for discussion. Nowadays, waiting for performing final rites of dear ones, has become quite common, as the children travel back from different parts of the world. This is a practical difficulty as timing for death cannot be predicted. But when date of an event is known, e.g marriage, engagement and so on, travel can be easily planned in advance, provided you want to attend those events. Lest we forget, events don’t wait for anybody.

Jaya was present in the US during our grandson’s birth, we could attend his 12th grade graduation ceremony. But we could not be present be for any of his birthdays. In fact, after our son moved to the US we have never attended our son’s birthday too! This time we were lucky that both the events were on the same day! With these limitations, the question of whether it was worth it becomes irrelevant! If someone is not going to attend such events, when all conditions are go and age is nearing 70, then which is the correct time to attend such events? Is it a must that “after spending so much money” (my neighbour said, I did not!) should I not have stayed in Seattle for a longer duration? What is the right longer duration?

Friends, keep on playing positive sum game of life, whether you need to travel to Seattle, or to Timbaktu! Just do it!

Is this Popcorn or Caviar!

You have options, cribbing is not one od them!

I went to the airport the other day to pick up my delayed bags. While coming back from airport, I again used Ola cab. There was a difference of Rs.35/ on the same trip, the return trip cost more. I checked the invoice and found that they had charged, airport pick-up charge. Ola and Uber both now have stands at the Pune airport. For this facility they pay yearly fees to the authorities. They are passing it on to the customers. At a time 8 to 10 cabs are always waiting at the airport!

The other day, we went to a multiplex to watch a movie! I did my booking on the website. Besides buying high priced tickets, I was charged convenience fees above the price of the tickets. I asked my young friends, who are savvy in such things! A friend suggested that we should use the website to check the tickets availability; if plenty of tickets are available, simply go the multiplex and buy the tickets. No convenience charges are applied.

So far so good. While watching the movie, we thought that we must follow the tradition and decided to eat popcorn, sandwiches and coke (diet of course!)  Popcorn was freshly made, sandwiches were ready to eat; probably made in the kitchen near the back office. Coke was from the fountain. None of the product sold were legally “packaged” food. “Packaged”  stuff under the law of MRP!  Non packaged products do not have MRP and there is no need to “declare” it price!

(MRP) Maximum Retail Price is a maximum price which can be charged to the consumers in India, as specified by the authority. Under the Consumer Goods (mandatory printing of date of Production and Maximum Retail Price) Act, 2006, consumers cannot be charged more than the MRP mentioned on the packing of the products.

When my card was charged I realized that there was not a single packaged item. Hence there was no MRP for whatever I bought. I realized that the multiplex owners must have had robbers as their ancestors! They simply robbed me on food prices, and there was nothing I could do about it. The total cost of food was much higher than the price of movie tickets. Since the items did not come under MRP laws, they could charge me whatever they wanted! Mind you there was a big queue to buy stuff and apparently people have money and do not mind spending money on entertainment. I asked my young friend later, the trick to overcome this issue. I asked her, if we could take stuff from home to eat. She said that we are not allowed to take outside food in the multiplexes due to security reasons; and that is the law! My theory about ancestry was proven!

So far so good, the movie was nice so we did have a good time in spite of meeting the  robbers! Now what is the law on this? Somebody has recently taken these multiplex guys to court. Arguments are going on in the court. The court has made an observation that when we go to five-star hotels, we pay whatever they ask for the food! We never expect the prices to be similar to other smaller restaurants. Similarly, I know that the prices of movie tickets in single screen theaters are much lower than what multiplexes charge. I am sure pop-corn, sandwiches also cost much less in single screen theaters. The court will check only the legality of billing done for food, if needed. Compliance of taxation will be checked by tax department! But nobody can tell them at what price they should sell the food!

The stories apart, is the high price for food charged by multiplexes justified? I am not sure but the multiplexes are projects by themselves and there is a lot of investment made in each such project. The movie business is unpredictable in general, so sell of tickets will depend on how popular the movie becomes! Their earning from movies is also unpredictable. The movie tickets are priced from Rs.80/ to Rs.400/ plus, for morning shows to most popular movies later in the day. I am not aware of their earning per ticket. So, what they are charging us for food is as per their business model. We are going to five-star movie theaters where we have fancy theaters, escalators and all the modern things. Prices will be high and we will have to accept them.

In India, when we travel by railways, we don’t pay extra luggage charges. But when we fly we are required to pay additional fees to the airlines as per rules. On some airlines they provide food free because the price of tickets is inclusive of the food. But on some low-cost airlines, we are required to pay for the food. Recently on our first leg back to India, on Seattle to Toronto flight, Air Canada was charging for food but they were serving coffees and cokes free, though it was an international flight! They probably decide based on the duration of the flight. On New York- San Francisco flight we were served food, since duration was 6 ½ hrs. So, each of the businesses have their own business model! We shouldn’t crib about it. We choose whatever is suitable to us, itinerary wise and price wise. So, we have options to see a movie in a multiplex! We have choices! Single screen theaters, YouTube, Netflix. We have to decide ourselves, nobody is forcing us.

What is the solution to this issue? For me there is no solution! But yesterday a party known for its rough politics, man handled a restaurant manager in a multiplex, for selling popcorn at  “high” price. Is it the right way to handle things? What can the manager do about it? The prices are decided by the management! Taking law into your hands is never justified whatever the reason!

There was one new Ranbir Kapoor movie being released! In the second week when the ticket prices are down, we can go for the movie. Tickets are on me, food is on you! Offer open only for multiplexes!  Are you game?

Plastic Bags! To be or not to be!

Make minor changes in life style for eco friendly world!

First time I came across the word plastic, was when a cousin of mine, who has settled in England, had come to India. He still lives there. I was in school in those days. He was in plastic industry and would pronounce plastic as “PLOSTIC”. All of us were highly impressed by that word. Little did I realize then that plastic will become so important in our lives. The real usage of plastic bags started world over in late 70’s, of the last century. All the super markets and Mom and Pop stores started giving plastic bags when purchases were made. Initially, it felt fancy that we had to stop using our own cloth bags. Over a period, the whole world became so much dependent on these bags, that other types of bags were passé.

As per human nature, people started manufacturing thinner and stronger bags. Thinner and thinner bags have really started causing problems of disposal. Thinner bags clog things easily and due to light weight float around. From 23rd June 2018, Government of Maharashtra has put a ban on usage of plastic bags for many usages. This ban is not only for vendors but for users like you and me. If you and I are found using plastic bags in public, we are liable to be punished with fines. There are a lot of discussions going on, about what is right and what is not right. Opinions floating are that, what government has done is correct, maybe a little tweaking will help, to blaming government for trying to cover up its failure of garbage collection policy. As usual the answer is somewhere in between but for me it is 80% towards first opinion. There are bound to be teething problems whenever new things are attempted.

I have tried to gather information without going into technical stuff. Here is some information about plastic bags. Since the studies of such nature are more prevalent in western countries, more information will be available from those countries. But to me India with such a large population must be up there in usage of plastic bags, also popularly known as carry bags.

  • Plastic bags are produced using petroleum, natural gas and other chemicals. Its production is toxic to the environment.
  • Plastic bags were introduced to supermarkets in 1977.
  • 160,000 plastic bags are used globally every second!
  • 5 trillion plastic bags are produced yearly. Side by side, they can encircle the world 7 times.
  • In 2008, a sperm whale was found beached in California. It died due to the more than 22 kilos of plastic found in its stomach.
  • Plastic will only start degrading after 700 years and will only fully degrade in 1000 years. This means that all the plastic that has ever been produced has not degraded yet.
  • Plastic bags remain toxic even after it breaks down. It doesn’t biodegrade, it photo-degrades. It means that after it degrades, it breaks down into smaller and smaller toxic bits of itself – and bleeds and contaminates the environment.
  • Thin plastic bags tend to spread all over, due to breeze, very easily even while they are being taken to the dumping grounds.
  • An average family will use 60 plastic bags on four visits to the supermarket.
  • Only 1 to 3% of plastic bags are recycled worldwide.
  • Plastic bags cause the death of many marine animals when bags are mistaken for food.

As far as India is concerned, the opinion that garbage collection should be improved to avoid plastic bag menace, does not hold good. Rather than talking of failure of garbage collection, we should look at our social behaviour; as a society we have very low discipline level. Dumping things in rivers has been our culture. The flowers used for Puja are next day thrown into river as “Nirmalya”, there is a tradition of dumping dead bodies in the river Ganga, after cremation we dump the bones in water bodies like rivers. With this kind of “tradition”, it will be impossible to expect people to behave and dump their garbage in dumpsters, if found on roads. Clearing the dumpsters full of garbage is another story!

I was traveling by train in Northern India. One could easily judge if we were nearing a station. A km or so before the stations, dumped plastic bags in hundreds, were visible on both sides of the track. Garbage disposal discipline, anyone?

I feel that government of Maharashtra is going in the right direction.  What can we do to support his movement?

  • Start by bringing your own Eco-Friendly bags.
  • Return all plastic bags with you to the corporation ward offices.
  • Patronize businesses that support the effort to reduce plastic bag usage. Don’t get mad at them for inconveniencing you if they don’t give you a plastic bag.
  • Spread awareness by not accepting plastic bags from retailers and reminding them that it’s toxic to our environment. We did that yesterday when a vendor was giving us to carry stuff, in a legally allowed thick plastic bag. We thanked him but used our own cloth bag.
  • Let’s start educating our children about the plastic bag problem so they will continue the efforts and go green themselves.
  • Stop using plastic carry bags altogether.

As the charity should begin at home, socially correct things, which will be good for all, should start with us. Honestly speaking heavens are not going to fall if plastic bags are not used. Till late 80’s plastic bags were a novelty. Everybody was using reusable bags made up of cloth. Even in those times, people bought fish, chicken and mutton when there were no plastic bags around. People were required to buy milk, cooking oil! They took the containers with them! To get food from outside, people carried their tiffin! Home delivery food business will obviously find a solution to overcome the plastic bags ban, after all they want to run their business! In olden days, during heavy rains there was clogging of drains, mostly due to tree leaves. Now majority of the clogging is due to plastic bags.

Some people have been doing a good job. I went to Pune zoo years back. Even in those times, they were environment friendly. At the gates, they would check the bags and would not allow visitors to carry any food stuff in plastic bags. For those who wanted to carry plastic water bottle, they would take Rs.10/ deposit; this would be returned on way out, when water bottle was displayed.

The need of the hour is to look for better ways of handling life, in absence plastic bags. There are ways of making bags which can be recycled. We must find ways to mass produce bio degradable bags, at low cost. I remember carrying cloth bags to get things from market when I was in school and college. We did not have to remember to carry the bags with us. It was a way of life. Humans want a steady state in life, change is always resisted. Going back to olden way of life is generally thought to be a retrograde step. But in this case, I think it is leap forward. It is path breaking stuff and let us all support the good path being trodden.

Women Power!

Let human race benefit by tapping female power!

Important news being discussed today is that Jacinda Arden, New Zealand Prime Minister, gave birth to a child, while in office. She is the second prime minister of a nation to give birth to a child, while in office. First was Benazir Bhutto! Women in Saudi Arabia are allowed to drive cars now, is another news which is trending today. What is the big deal, skeptics will say? Hundreds of ladies give birth to a child, millions of lady’s drive cars, world over! But these news items are very significant looking at the history of suppression of women.  

All species world over, have males and females for continuity of their progeny! World history is always divided as before and after of some events. Classic definition is BC (before Christ) & AD (anno Domini). There can be another definition like before Wheel and after Wheel. To me this means that human life became much easier after the invention of Wheel!  

Another definition which is essential is Pre-Ownership and Post-Ownership. This to me is the most important landmark in human history. Let me explain. When humans learnt the farming, they started to live at preferred locations. As the humans were nomads before, they would move from place to place looking for food and shelter. Farming created a somewhat less nomadic, more organized stable society. The major social change that came about, was  people started to cultivate and produce things which were in surplus of what they needed; this was stored for the next season. With this change, the concept of ownership took birth. Ownership included farm, the land, females and everything within that ecosystem! This started a concept of same pair of male and female partners living at one location, for longer period. Before that, humans also moved around like other species. There were groups of humans, who would move from place to place. Weather, hunger, safety and sex were the main things that were required to be handled. With the nomadic behavior and no ownership, there was no concept of constant family. In due course of time women would procreate, I do not think that every time they knew the real father of the child.  

Because of their pregnancy and allied difficulties women would look after children and men folk would go out for collecting food. Monthly menstruation, even in those days added to general difficulties of women and their movement. I could not find how the society helped them during this tricky phase every month. In my grandfather’s time, I remember that women had to face humiliating stigma during this time, every month. I am really not sure how this was handled before agriculture. I am assuming that they were better off in those days as it was treated as a normal human body function. The organized society brought some etiquette’s about modesty, nudity and others. This may have brought more difficulties post agriculture. Though 21st century is more supporting, still in smaller cities and villages not much has changed.  

The concept of male being bread winner has continued right to the current times. Some major changes have taken place in recent 30 to 50 years, where women are taking important part in family income and financial well-being. They are taking up important positions in many places including industries and government. The important positions need them to be busy and travel all over. But society has slowly started accepting this need and accepting the biological difference that exist! To me it is alright if the Prime Minister takes six to eight weeks of leave after child bearing! On top of that New Zealand Prime minister is not married to her partner! This is also setting a trend. Live-in, anyone? I feel that live-in concept did exist before farming phase as there were no marriages, anyway!  Even today, pregnancies do come in the way of women’s careers. Latest example is of Serena Williams, the super athlete! When she decided to take part in French Open tennis tournament, several hundred points were deducted from her career points, while considering her ranking, as she was joining post pregnancy!

World over, voting rights for women was anathema! Women in Switzerland gained the right to vote in federal elections after a referendum in February 1971. In 1991 following a decision by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, Appenzell Innerrhoden became the last Swiss canton to grant women the vote on local issues. Modern and developed country? So-called patriarchal society has been suppressing the rights of women. This has kept 50% population of the world in the form of women away from many things. There are some professions which are performed better by females yet  these were performed by men! 

Women are trying to change this, but bra burning is not the solution. What will be the advantages of bringing more and more women in main stream? One thing is sure that the working atmosphere will become softer. I am sure a woman boss will never say, “I don’t care” or Go to hell” or some such statements. One more thing men can learn from women is multi-tasking. They are masters of multi-taking managing kids, kitchen and jobs. On top of that managing family and relatives; it’s not an easy thing but women do it. They not only do it but they are masters of multi-tasking.  

Humans under the garb of patriarchy, are losing the benefits of this talent. They don’t want to do it because they will lose control of the situation. Society has taken advantage of traditions of thousands of years, to keep females away from mainstream. Jacinda Arden, Serena Williams, Kalpana Chawala are great role models for humans in general and females specifically! In my family this change has happened big way! Let us all support our wives, sisters, daughter in laws as much as possible to take up the career they like! Don’t forget that we have children, nephews and grandchildren because of these women! This is one area where males can never compete with females! So don’t forget that to reproduce, a complex system in female body is needed, we just need to support that!

 

  

 

Success Mantra!

Who is most successful in life?

After my previous blog “Titbits” my friend Subhash suggested that we should analyze the life’s successes vis a vis, education, studies, ranks earned and being a “scholar” during school/college times. One of the definitions of success is the attainment of fame, wealth, or social status. In Asian culture in recent times, there has been a big emphasis on taking good education, it may be in their own country or in other countries. There is a general thought process that education changes a human being and the human becomes more cultured, sophisticated and becomes a better person.  

Does it really happen that way? In most cases, it does happen. But how do you measure success? Is fame the pinnacle of success? Does amassing wealth make you successful? Do all these things take you to upper most layer in the society? Frankly there are no clear-cut answers because there is no real definition of success. One thing is always said that a person appears more successful if he or she is a good human being too! What is important, a good human being or a successful human being? It is important to be successful good human being!

In certain areas of life like sports, entertainment education or the lack of it has not apparently come in the way. If we take examples of Sachin Tendulkar, Priyanka Chopda, they have been at pinnacle of their careers in sports and acting. They have both been good humans, they got themselves trained for being excellent in language and general behaviour. On top of that they are extremely successful commercially! They have been in their field of excellence since a very early age of 16 to 18 and never had time to take “education”! Another important aspect is that they are successful for a long duration. But this does not mean that everybody should not get educated as it did not matter in these two cases.  

Another famous case of a college drop-out is Bill Gates. But he was a drop-out from Harvard! Getting admitted to Harvard itself is success! But looks like he had urge and drive to do something more than completing his degree and rest as they say is history! Recently he has been sharing his wealth of billions of dollars for well-being of human race. He is also encouraging other rich people to share wealth for betterment of society, in general. Yes, Bill Gates can be said to be one of the most successful persons, living. 

Then there was famous rivalry between Tesla and Edison, both scientists. Both have invented so many things that it is difficult to say who was better. But from the history that I have read, Edison had more business sense than Tesla. Edison was a cut throat competitor whereas Tesla was a naïve person. Edison monetized his inventions quite well but Tesla never did that. Edison was all the time trying to see if Tesla could be commercially ruined! But to me Tesla was more successful with his one invention! He invented that A C current was better than D C current (invention by Edison) in real world. This is a difficult case to judge, commercially Edison did much better than Tesla, invention wise  probably both were at par. As human being Tesla was better than Edison. Friends, it’s your take to decide who was more successful! 

That brings us back to the thought that we had in the first place. Does education make a person successful? In our school and college times, there have been colleagues who were successful in getting very high grades all through. After completing education, different areas of work was chosen by different people. Some reached pinnacle of their chosen path but it appears that in most cases the so called “toppers” did not remain “toppers” in real life! Many times, the path to success is also dependent on “being at the right place at the right time”! It also depends on grabbing the opportunity when it comes knocking on one’s door! Those who did this have been really “successful” in life. 

Being at the pinnacle of chosen path makes one successful but being a good human being adds to that success. But I have seen many “successful” persons who in real have been average in what they could achieve. But they have marketed themselves with the authorities who matter. The success in public sector areas and having done the right “marketing” with authorities have earned some people with national accolades like “Padma” awards in India. Some have been so strong in “marketing” themselves, that their mediocre achievements or pseudo achievements remain hidden!   

How to compare success in area A and area B? A friend became MD of one of largest company in India. He also continues to be a very good human being. So, he definitely achieved great success in life. Another friend started a manufacturing unit and manufactures world class products, again a very good human being! If we compare the two, then who is more successful? It is very difficult to judge. Both have worked in different environments in private sector. Both were classmates but were not known to be “scholars” in college days. Another person, a known “scholar” in college times became top boss of one of the India’s premier educational institute. He was always in touch with Govt bosses because of his work. He was awarded with a “Padma” award. This person was recently heard giving a speech about education policy and was found to have put forth average thoughts. Who is successful among the three? I don’t know.  

Success is not dependent on whether one is successful in private sector or as an entrepreneur or in govt sector. Success is independent of the field you are in. It could be business, sports, art, job, armed forces, scientist, social worker or a politician. You must do a great job in what you do and remain a good human being even at the pinnacle; you must retain humbleness and show empathy for others. To be successful in life, one needs to be sincere, consistent, must have perseverance, must be able to take others with you.   

How you achieve these parameters, defines your success. More successful or less successful are comparisons done by others. It is probably impossible to compare success in two different fields. It is not possible to compare a great gymnast with a great scientist! People will always compare between brain and the brawn! Like in studies it is always said that those who are good at Math are very smart. I don’t think so. One who is very at good music is equally smart in his own field!  

This discussion and comparisons are unending; but one thing is sure that the world becomes a better place with successful people. But this success should not be a “marketed” success, it is the success of the human who has contributed to the society, keeping core values intact. But one thing is sure that “success” list is not the same as list of successful candidates declared after college, school level exams. It gets mixed up and many a “back benchers” end up at the top!