Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli Haaye! 

Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli Haaye  

Kabhi To Hansaaye Kabhi Yeh Rulaaye 

These are the lines of a famous song by Rajesh Khanna in the movie Anand and sung by Manna Dey. I am surprised that for different situations in our lives, we always have an appropriate song available from Hindi movies!  

The meaning of these two lines is  

Our life is a great puzzle. Sometimes it makes us laugh, and at other times it makes us cry! Out moods change with the situations we face in life.  

Today morning, I was in a great mood as we had crossed the figure of 200 friends and spouses participating in our COEP batch of 1971 Golden Jubilee celebrations. We are going to celebrate this grandly and are trying to get as many confirmations as possible. We are planning for a date one year hence, as many of our engineering batch mates live abroad. Some have confirmed, already. Besides this, many of our friends stay far away from Pune-Mumbai area. They also need time to plan. Some friends go and visit their children staying in foreign countries. We want to increase participation as much as possible. Now we are targeting 300 nos. I was delighted and by talking to others made more plans. I was happy! I was on cloud nine.

An hour after this, a childhood friend from my Bombay days called. I had a sore throat issue, so I sent him a message that I could not receive his call. He called me again after half an hour. So, I took the call. He said, “Pramod, you don’t speak. I understand your difficulty, but I want to share something with you.” Then he shared the plight of a common friend from childhood. We were a group of about ten to fifteen boys, and our fathers were police officers. Our families had typical middle-class ethos. The idea of living life in the early sixties of the last century was play like hell, whatever game we could play. Outdoor games were cricket and football. Indoor games were carrom, table-tennis and badminton. During exam times, all of us would study (our parents thought otherwise), and we did reasonably well in our education. Many became engineers, some doctors and a few became bankers. Now, this friend did his bachelor’s degree in science and joined Air India.  

With the usual twists in life, our friend was blessed with a child. The child was perennially sick. The child’s illness was a significant drain on his finances and his family life. He took early voluntary retirement (or was he coerced?) in the first decade of this century. Maybe he got a lump sum which he thought may be useful. (He forgot about improved longevity) He moved from Thane to rural area near Pune; probably he did not have enough money to live in a city. He would rarely come to Pune, which was natural. But my friend (who phoned) was in touch with him.  

Ten years back, his daughter passed away. It must have been a blessing on his finances, but emotionally the husband-wife must have been stretched to the maximum. My friend offered to help him with psychiatristhe also suggested that he move to an older people’s home. (My friend was willing to support there financially!) Things did not work out.

My friend got the news that our man had started waiting near ATM’s and had started asking for alms! ( He was falling short on his quota of cigarettes!) Even hearing this news brought numbness in me! It is the tears part of the Zindagi! How could person from such a background reach a nadir in his life?  

Humans always say that childhood is the best part of life! There are no responsibilities, and there are no plans. We meander in childhood, collecting joyous moments most of the time. The saddest part of childhood is when parents would not allow us to go out and play or it could be a tragic day was when we could not pinch that four ana coin to buy a cola! Life was straightforward during childhood. When we get into the humdrum of life, but we are not aware of it. We get many lessons during childhood that we ignore. Now when I retrospect, I realise that our friend was not sharp like most of the others in the groupDoes it mean that if we do not absorb the experiences at all the stages of life, it is going to hit us badly at some time?  

I had spoken to this friend a few months back after fifty years. (We had lost touch) He has three siblings, but they are not supporting him. It is, of course, one side of the story! But had the siblings helped him irrespective of friend’s response, matters would not have reached this stage. (Maybe!)  

Writing this piece has been stressful, but nowadays writing is a therapy that I have found which brings peace of mind back to me. Some people get it by going for a walk, and some go and climb hills. Luckily, most of my friends have remained away from alcohol in such situations. It is a drain on your pocket and your body.    

The filming of the song displayed above is done beautifully. The hero is down with cancer and is taking a stroll on a beach. The song starts with the hero playing with colourful balloons but never showing the churning going on in his mind. The churning is indicated by the waves which break on the shore. In the last part of the song, the lyricist says we have enjoyed the fun and frolic of life together. But in the end, we must go alone. That final part of the journey is always done alone!  

I am still not very sure how my friends’ life will move forward. At this stage of life, a shortage of funds, the stretched relations between husband and wife can create a tough situation. 

It looks like I am in a filmy mood today and the situation reminded of another Hindi song from the movie Guide. S D Burman sings it. I am giving below part of the lyrics. 

No one is there awaiting you 
No one is looking forward to your arrival nobody felt your pain, and no one shed a tear for you whom can you call your own? 
so where will you go, o traveller 

The video link of the song is below. 

I am awaiting my friend to give me the update, but honestly, I am not very hopeful. Once a person gives up hopes, it is difficult to bring him back.  

The latest update that I got is not very encouraging. Our man may require institutionalisation. Who would have thought that the situation will reach such a stage in life!

Regarding another blog of mine, a friend commented, “Pramod, we have crossed the threshold where we make can many changes to our life.” But maybe he is right or, maybe he is wrong too! One should keep on trying. Friend, some younger people also read my blogs so it may be useful to them to do the course correction.  

One thing for sure, this episode has churned my mind! The beauty is I consider myself a big optimist!  

Cricket World Cup 2015 final!

Today the 2019 cricket world cup has started. The event took me back to 29th March 2015 the day on which the final was played for that world cup. It was played at the MCG in Melbourne, Australia. For the records, Australia beat New Zealand by seven wickets. I had been planning to see the live final for a long time, and we could finally make it to MCG. This is neither a blog nor a travelogue. I am just sharing my memories with you.

It all started in an unplanned way, as usual. It was the end of February 2014, and I had just completed my cancer treatment. Since I had nothing to do, I was surfing on the net. I looked at world cup cricket details and found that the ticket window had just opened. I asked Jaya, “Should I buy tickets for a Cricket match.” She said, “Let us not rush into it. First, you recover from the treatment, and then we will see.” I said, “The match is much later.” She gave a go ahead. I bought the tickets for MCG for the finals. She was surprised but happy. She thought I was talking of an IPL match!

Well, I informed Ranjith, who lives in Melbourne about the tickets. He sent a message to me that one of his bedrooms was booked for us! We decided to take Delhi-Melbourne, Air India flight. At the immigration, when they saw that we were travelling to Melbourne, there were no questions but a great bonhomie. The folks told us to return back with the world cup! Our family friends Dr and Dr Mrs Harshe had also travelled for the match. On our flight, there were about 40 people who were going for the game.

By the time we reached Melbourne, India had lost the semis to Australia. But our spirits did not dampen; the final at MCG was the calling! Many people had travelled from India with the hopes that India will reach the finals, but it was not to be! The D day arrived. We were about 6 km from the stadium. Two of us, along with Ranjith and his family, decided to travel by Trams. People were encouraged to use public transport to avoid traffic jams. We had to change the Tram at Flinders railway station. All the Trams were jam-packed, but the rush was not “felt”, but the atmosphere was created! Weather was sunny, but Ranjith had advised us to carry a jacket because the weather was expected to turn cool during the second session.

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Our walk to the stadium was about half a km after the Tram ride. But never even once we felt the great rush or any chaos. Everything was very orderly. I was wondering how many people were going to attend the match. Each person had to get the barcode on the ticket scanned for the turnstile. There were many entry points, and it did not look crowded at all. I was surprised to know that the attendance was 93103! So many people, but there was hardly any rush, jostling or pushing anywhere, starting with the Trams, the turnstile, the eateries, the washrooms! At the end of the match, the spillage of beer was the only indication that so many people had attended the game; that too, because people carried six beer glasses at a time! People sitting next to us were New Zealanders and chatted with us a lot as we were also backing New Zealand.

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The match started with McCullam getting out in the first over for zero! He was in top form in the tournament, and his failure led to New Zeland scoring a very non-competitive score of 183 which was overhauled by Australia losing only three wickets. (If you remember, in 1983, India had won against West Indies in the finals, after scoring 183) Johnson and Faulkner took three wickets each. Elliot scored a graceful 83 for New Zealand.

Since us desi folks were hoping that India will reach the finals, 20 to 25% people for the match were Indians. They were fully prepared for the game, musical instruments and all. After the game, a few troupes danced a great bhangda outside the stadium.  During prize distribution ceremony many greats and dignitaries were present. Longest clapping and cheers were obviously for Sachin! He is extremely popular in Australia as he has always given them a high competition even in Australia!

What was my take from this match? Humans are all the same where ever we go in the world. But public discipline in Australia was excellent, as expected, the desis also behaved in a disciplined manner, while in Australia. What happens to many of our brethren when they come back to India is difficult to judge. With ninety thousand plus people, the cleanliness in the toilets at the end of the match, and general cleanliness in the stadium was to be seen to be appreciated. Australian backers were throwing expletives towards the New Zealand players while the match was going on. Those who were a little high because of too much beer were a bit too excited but were kept under control by their friends. But overall, the proper play was appreciated, and the Cricket’s four-year jamboree was celebrated by all!

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On the way back to Pune, we had planned to see the 2019 world cup final, but alas, it is not to be! Maybe in 2023?

Just Do It!

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Shown above is the famous Nike logo which has a caption, “Just do it”! We have to do many things on day to day basis, and Nike says, just do it! Some say I have to do it! Others say, got to do it! Obviously, you cannot say, “Just do it”! Nike will ask you to buy a license from them to use their patented caption! These small changes in the use of words can make a significant difference in our lives.  

When we say we have to do it, it shows a bit of displeasure, some reluctance and the feel as if you are forced to do something. Everybody has to get up every day, go to the washroom, complete the morning stuff and then go for work and come back home in the evening. There are many things that we do in between.  

How will this small change in English word help? It changes the way we look at things, it changes your approach to any situation. When you say we have to do something, it indicates that you are forced to do something. It is against your will that you are doing something.  

There is a story about a man who uses a wheelchair. When asked if it was difficult being confined to the wheelchair, he responded, “I’m not confined to my wheelchair—I am liberated by it. If it weren’t for my wheelchair, I would be bed-bound and never able to leave my house.” This shift in perspective completely transformed how he lived each day. A few years back when we had taken Alaska cruise, we met two people. One grand old lady was 99 years young, traveling alone, on a wheelchair! Another outstanding personality was around 50 years of age, also on a wheelchair. He needed 100% oxygen support. These two people were moving all over the cruise and on the ground excursions in a very routine manner! Perspective?

I think it’s important to remind yourself that the things you do each day are not burdens, they are opportunities. So often, the things we view as work are actually the reward. 

Embrace your constraints. Fall in love with boredom. Do the work. 

The other day I heard a young child, 5 years old, say “I am bored, I don’t want to go to school”. The first thing that came to mind was how does this child know the word bored? Simple, she has heard someone say it. On prodding, I found out that she was actually sad that her close friend was not going to school that day due to illness. In today’s times, those working can be very busy, and they really don’t have free time. In such a situation, how do they find time to get bored? They get bored because they “have” to do things and not “got” to do things! It is the perception of how one looks at things. The busy people of today can never get bored due to lack of time, but those who have retired may get bored as there is so much time available. But does one really get bored?

Can retired people get bored? Let me share with you how I do not get bored! I semi-retired from work starting first June, 2018. My first 3 months were required in winding down my affairs along with handling some property matters. I started going to a gym; when I don’t go to the gym, I go for my walk! Then there is my blogging. The frequency of my blog writing has gone up. Along with blog writing, I am also trying to improve my writing skills. I have even started reading printed books for which I did not find time while I was working full time. (I am a voracious reader using Kindle) I have been doing coordination of our  alumni group which I continue. These are honestly minor things. What I do in the morning is that I prepare  a to-do list. Those items which need personal involvement like payment etc., are added to my electronic diary. I automatically get reminders. But the most important is I “don’t have to them”! I “got to do them”.  I make my got to do list in mind or write with my left hand sometimes; I am a right-hander. I always try to learn something new! I try to know new people!

The paragraph was not about me, but it is about everybody and anybody. It is about the perception of looking at things. The less you enjoy doing your stuff, the more you are stressed, or suddenly you will find that you have time to get bored. Let me share with you experiences of a few “oldies” like me. I am 69. When asked my age, I say that my age is 69! I sometimes enjoy taking practical advantages of my age.  Like when we went to get our passport renewed, senior citizens could walk in, they didn’t have to take appointment route. Air India for internal travel offers 50% discount  on base ticket amount, I use the facility. Sometimes there are separate check-in counters, I use them. But I am never 69 years old! It’s a state of mind. 

I was curious to see how my friends who are 50-plus defined old — and asked them on Facebook. Among the dozens of responses, two made me smile: “Old is my current age + 4.” And said another “Tomorrow. Always tomorrow. Never today.”  

Given below is what I read in an article.  

As with beauty, the meaning of “old” also depends on the person you ask. Millennials, now in their 20s and 30s, say that old starts at 59, according to a 2017 study by U.S. Trust. Gen Xers, now in their 40s — and no doubt with a new appreciation for just how close they are to entering their 50s — say 65 is the onset of old. Boomers and the Greatest Generation (Like me) pegged 73 as the beginning of old. Clearly, much depends on the perspective of who’s been asking to define “old.” 

But yes, there are some of my friends who need to be coaxed to come for a breakfast or a luncheon meeting. Dinner for many is out of bounds. That is because they are not comfortable to drive at night. When I suggest car pooling with those who are comfortable driving at night, a small number agrees. Others have become mentally old though we all are of the same age. Maybe they also feel that they “have” to do it!

This mind set is found in people who “have” to do things and who don’t get to do things. Oh! I HAVE to go to sleep now!