Montreal Musings-day to day life III!

Now the writer in me has started understanding the difference in going on a planned holiday on a tour and living at a destination for a reasonable period. Taking a tour is like going for a movie and then to go back to your routine. Whereas staying at a place is like reading a long novel. Enjoy it part by part. And keep on doing it for a much longer duration.

The leaves are changing the colours but not as fast as I have seen at other locations. In Montreal maybe only the Maple leaves change the colours, others only wither as winter arrives. Hopefully, within the next few weeks, I will come to know what happens.  I said this, and I saw some lovely colours today when we went out for lunch.

Public transport is one thing that I am enjoying; I don’t get that opportunity in back home. It feels nice to say hello or good morning to the bus driver while swiping the card. The response is also always a smile. Some of us may think that it is a bit mechanical, but it is anytime better than ignoring each other. Now my French vocabulary has reached the level of Merci and Bonjour! Priya shared one experience with me, which was shocking. Once while Priya was in a bus standing, a lady struggled to climb up with a walker. The driver did not start the bus as she was struggling and must have been hoping that someone will provide her with a seat. The driver even requested people to do so. But it took a few minutes for someone to decide to offer her a seat. Jaya and I are sometimes offered with the seats, but maybe we do not look old enough.

A couple of days back there was Environmental March which 50000 people attended. On that day, Montreal city contributed in a very innovative way. The public transport for all the people was free for the whole day, to encourage people to attend the march.

One thing I observed about the weather is when it is raining intermittently, the temperature may be higher, but it feels damp and cold. Five degrees cooler with Sunshine feels warmer even in the shade.

There is one interesting service offered. In our area, there was a power outage for about four hours due to some cable related issue. The affected zone was isolated, and the power was restored. It is now four days, but the fault is yet to be rectified. But that is not the end of the story. Electricity people have made some temporary arrangement with wiring and have provided power continuously to affected people for these four days using a truck-mounted generator.

Though I see at least one beggar at most Metro Stations (but never more- which is a surprise).

The developed countries have their own different systems and facilities for the pets. I see many shops catering to pets. I see many veterinary doctor’s clinics too! Probably many couples prefer to have Pets instead of children. These shops keep different clothing available for the pets. These include wedding dresses, clothes for winter, raincoats for use during rains and so on.

Another interesting thing found here is the number of flowers and flower beds, currently. People know that the flowers are going to last only for six or seven months, every year before winter takes over. But they follow this expensive hobby!

One fascinating place to visit is the festival of lights at the Botanical Garden, near the Olympic Stadium. Inspired by the ancient Chinese tradition, this event has been enchanting people since its creation. Glittering lanterns of various shapes illuminate the Chinese Garden and the eyes of thousands of visitors who come to enjoy the magical spectacle. The Japanese Garden leads you along a meditative illuminated path inspired by the seasons, and the First Nations Garden features an intense multimedia experience that lets you feel the beating heart of the Cycle of Life. One interesting thing; the path in the Japanese garden is quite dark, but they have made the displays with the help of mirrors, the trees appear as if they are full of fireflies! One more speciality was the Bonsai trees. One of them was as old as 160 years.  Montreal Olympic Stadium Tower in the background of light festival.

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Even as late as 15 years many Indian food items were difficult to procure, including the raw material like dal etc. But it is a pleasant surprise that most of the things are available here in Montreal reasonably easily. One can imagine their availability in the Bay area in SFO and New Jersey!

It appears that the preparations for Durga Pooja, Garba in Navratri and Diwali are already on or are being discussed. I will feel happier when assimilation of festivals also takes place, and friends other than those of Indian Origin are invited to celebrate such festivals.

I hear of Indian people who have been living in Toronto and Montreal for more than forty years. In the initial phase of their lives, it must have been trying for them to live an Indian way of life. But with more and more people living in different parts of the world, I was not surprised to see a typical store in one of the malls selling Agarbattis! Business is the ultimate leveller in this world. I read somewhere recently, that Agarbattis worth Rs. 800/ crores were imported in India from China. When we were on the Alaska Cruise about three years back, there were at least forty different Indian food items available in the spread. These included Dal- Khichdi and Malvani Fish!

With more and more Indian professionals becoming financially more comfortable at a young age, they are going to travel more, and I won’t be surprised if Indian items become very popular like Indian Curry and Indian Restaurants in the UK! Add to this, the children of Indians born in foreign countries; so, this number is going to become very big as keeping touch with home base  has become more comfortable with video calling and internet calling.

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By the way, we went out today to eat Pani-puri and Wada-Pav! But I had Wada-pav and Thali!  The joint is started by a French guy who got himself trained in Mumbai.The Chai was served the Indian cutting way.

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The day before yesterday, I had breakfast in a restaurant serving middle eastern food, on top of that it was vegan. There was some lovely omelette, another item which was like our Sanja and a dish made out of lentils with a nice bread! I had fun.

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Another thing I saw on Montreal roads. Public charging of EV’s is now available. My little knowledge of driving cars for fifty-plus years tells me that fuel tank and the lid are on the opposite side of where the driver sits. But the Tesla I saw being charged on the road, had the charging on the same side as the driver side! Can anybody explain to me why this would be so? All other EV’s seen in Montreal followed the normal convention!

Some interesting things like Puneri Patya!

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Montreal Musings- day to day life II!

Since I am in Montreal for a homestay, visiting different places is more incidental than specific. I am trying to see how people, live, behave in their day to day lives is more important to me. Human beings are the same everywherewith some natural local and regional variances. To me, it is the interactions and actions that are more important.  

One very interesting facility was observed in a housing society made up of condos. They have kept an enclosed, empty plot. During nonwinter times, these plots are offered to residents for use. The plots are of twothree sizesUsers can plant vegetables, flowers, or whatever they want: the seeds and technical help is offered by a gardener available. The gardener helps and guides you as per your needs. For this period you can grow what you want and enjoy! What a novel idea! 

The buses have the swiping card system or for, onetime use, you have to put coins to get the tickets. Once a senior citizen was trying to swipe the card, it would not work. It was 2nd of the month. The driver asked the gentlemen, “Have you recharged the card yesterday on the 1st”? The gentleman had forgotten and said so. He said, “Get it done later today.” Subject over. Empathy?  

Many of you must have travelled to different nations and have seen the world. But to me travelling in a city in local transport is the best way of knowing small unique things. While travelling by Metro yesterday, we were in the compartment next to the driver. I saw guy entering the train with his bicycle. I was surprised. Nikhil told me, “Baba, it is allowed only during specific timings and only in that compartment where they had provided space for a few cycles. The cycle owner is supposed to stand near the cycle and not take a seat; even if the train is empty.”  

Yesterday, we went to visit the Botanical GardenThe garden is just next to the Olympic Stadium in Montreal. It was a nostalgic visit for Jaya and me. We were in Montreal in 1981 for two days. We had explicitly travelled to see the thennew Olympic stadium, which held the 1976 OlympicsIf you folks remember, that Olympic was famous for the super performance of Nadia Comaneci from RumaniaFor the first time in historyshe had scored perfect score of 10.00I felt a little sad that in certain areas the maintenance was poor!

Nadia Comaneci! Then and now!

Butchart Gardens, Victoria, Canada!

 

It seems that Canada is way ahead of many countries in having beautiful gardens. I am sharing some photos for you. We had visited Victoria, B.C., on the west coast of Canada in 2016, as a part of Alaska Cruise. We had visited Butchart Garden then. That is the one the best Gardens, if not the best; we have ever visited. I am sharing some of the Butchart Garden photos too!  

Another observation was that in Montreal, I met many young Indian Diaspora during the Ganapati festival. I found that these people are working in different fields. One chap was working in Atlas Copco. A couple of guys were artists, not animation experts. A few were working in financeand a fellow was working othe logistics side of an engineering Company. I noted that one chap was working in Air Canada. Out of the people I met, only about 25 % were working in IT! It was a pleasant surprise for me.  

I have enjoyed the change of colour of leaves in Boston and Maine area; and also is the Seattle area. There the colour changes from green to yellowish to orange. Whereas in Canada, the Maple trees are predominant. The Maple leaf changes its colour to red; hence, the Canadian flag also has Maple leaf on it.  

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I had never bothered to check why this happens. There is a simple explanation though the science behind it is complicatedDuring summer and autumn, the leaves use Sunlight and Carbon dioxide the make their food. They also get water through roots. They create oxygen and food. The process is helped by green Chlorophyll which masks the other colours which are already present on the leaves and are seen when Chlorophyll goes away.   

Winter days are short and dry. Many plants stop making food in the fall. The chlorophyll goes away. Then we can see orange and yellow colours. These colours were in the leaves all summer, but the green covered them up. The trees survive on the food they have made during summer and autumn.  

Enough of science. When go out every day, I observe the changes in the leaves and their colours. Some become red earlier; some take more time. There are many shades of red that we can see. Not all the maple leaves become blood red, as we see in the photographs. One question always comes to my mind. Why do humans not follow the same discipline that is followed by nature? 

Another question always comes to mind about assimilation. How do “outsiders” assimilate with the culture of the country that they have adopted? According to me, this should be easy for people from India because we have different cultures in each state; we have different languages spoken in each state. Many people in North India have never seen the sea in their life, though India has long shoreline. I saw snow for the first time at the age of 35, when I had travelled to Germany in winter. But we have regions in India where there is regular snowfall in winter. But ultimately it comes to your openness, your adaptability, your will to accept change. I see people of different colour and creed, religions and languages in Canada. I am sure that those who assimilate live a comfortable life.  

Still, a month and a half more to go in Canada and I am sure I will have more tidbits later. I have read that average Montreal temperatures in October are 15 deg high to 5 deg low, sometimes even going to zero! So those are going to be different days in terms of weather. I never lived in these temperatures. About that, I will write later when I shiver through those temps!

À bientôt, jusqu'à mes prochaines friandises!

 

 

Who wants to get bloody old?

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Last twenty years have changed this world so much that some of my contemporaries get overwhelmed. There are new technologies, new processes; different thinking is rapidly barging into our lives. On top of that, new buzzwords and new methods of communication are giving run for money to the older generation. Millennial is one word I often read these days. It means a person reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century. Such individuals have grown up with all new things. They are as comfortable with new ideas as we were with bullock carts, dial-up phones, using a notebook and pen for writing and yes, reading books too!

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But to me, we the people in the 7th decade of life are also millennials of the new world. Don’t worry! I know what I am talking, and my grey cells are active. The golden period of our lives is the time in our lives when we have time on hand; we have enough money (everybody’s definition of enough is different!). The situation is the result of one’s children settling down, and you are now a free bird! The real millennials are comfortable with new things in life but we millennials are comfortable with life itself. We don’t understand some new things; we don’t care. We have no worry about anything in this world. Who is bothered about death when there are so many things to do?

The traditional writings are treaties that say that Vanaprastha means “one who gives up worldly life”. It is also a concept in Hindu traditions, representing the third of four ashramas of human life, the other three being Brahmacharya, Grihastha and Sannyasa. Vanaprastha is part of the Vedic ashram system, which starts when a person hands over household responsibilities to the next generation, takes an advisory role, and gradually withdraws from the world.

Till handling of responsibilities to the next generation is fine by me. But what is the need for Vanaprastha? In olden times, I am not sure how long people lived, on average. Plus, until as recently as late as fifty years back, there was nothing to do in the evening of one’s life; the real-life evening ended with the Sunset. Now our evening begins with the Sunset! Though the indication to take advisory role and withdrawal from life is suggested, to me it’s a crappy piece of advice. But now we the new millennials are too busy doing and planning different things. Who has time to get old?

Higher life expectancy, better health adds to the change in the thought process. We want to go and see Raigad and Pratap gad. We want to go and see Machu Picchu and go and watch Wimbledon finals. We want to take a tour to see the whales and then go and see the midnight Sun. The list is unending; the bucket list keeps on getting longer. It was no surprise to see Charulata Patel on TV, all of 87 years old, enjoying the India-Pakistan world-cup cricket match. A ninety-nine-year-old lady, who was a wheelchair user, was enjoying all alone when we took Alaska cruise. There are examples galore, and the new millennials get more and more encouraged to try and do new things. See new places, get into new hobbies. Some are learning to play the organ and others are enjoying painting. I have joined a creative writing online course conducted by Oxford University.

During student life, humans are busy getting educated and later they are busy working and raising a family. Everybody had hidden from us what joy is waiting for us in our golden period. Some of us are unfortunate and remain unwell; sometimes, they are bedridden. But this can happen at a young age too! There are no writings; there are no treaties written on how to enjoy the golden period, which in conventional language is called old age. Why has this happened? It is simple. The golden age concept hardly existed until recently.

All the fun from college days and professional times are relived by the oldies. Now we do it without feeling any guilt. I am sure that we will soon have books and article deluge on this subject. At 9 am, take your breakfast and suddenly decide that you want to go and see a movie starring Dev Anand, Nargis, Waheeda or whoever. Sit in your car or Riksha, call an Uber and go the multiplex and see the 9.30 am movie. In the meanwhile, send a WhatsApp message to a few more friends and check if they can join you for an Idli-Dosa or a thali. Why not brunch at the Marriot? You have not had that famous missal-pav for some time, have it. Oh, don’t forget to end with the latest craze of Yevale Chai!

Do I want to become old? Do I feel old? Do I have to grow old? The answer to all the questions is no! The simple reason is I don’t have time to become old in the sense of older thinking. That biologically we are growing older is a fact of life, but that does not mean that we must advertise it, we don’t have to show it. One important aspect we forget about the ladies. They are years past their menopause, and their life must be very comfortable. Handling “monthly issues” during work and travel was never a joke for the ladies. It is real freedom for them.

What stupid things you will have to bear with other than some chronic diseases? Maybe you may have to wear some thick glasses, but with current developments in eye surgeries, you may get back the 20/20 eyesight. The world again looks brighter, and you can look at the lovely ladies without staring at them! You can let the time pass by, the way you want! You can wear some stupid clothes or hats and get away with it. People will just murmur, he has become old! I forgot one thing, buy yourself a fancy walking stick!

Would you want to go to a bar where there is loud music? You usually would avoid but now who cares? Don’t take your hearing aid with you! Live the life you want to live! Don’t bother about wasting your time; you have enough time on hand!

All the literature, all the wisdom always did not talk about the benefits of old age! It is because such things never were known to people, and many things did not even exist. The best sign of ageing, though, is that you are still you and people will accept you as you are! If they don’t, who cares?

How well do we travel?

 

Journey2Travelling is life’s most celebrated Guru! Travelling gives us many lessons, teaches us many things about life; it gives us new experiences, allows us to see new people and places, new cultures, historical places. What you get from travel is what you absorb during the journey. We travel for various reasons like a holiday, pilgrimage, work, visits to relatives; each person’s reason for travel is different.

We have travelled extensively in India and abroad. I am talking mainly about travel for the holidays. While on holiday, you go with a group of friends, or you travel with family. During honeymoon travel, only the newly married couple moves together, and they are in their world.

I am sharing some of my experiences and my observations made during travel. Years back, in the year 1984, we had travelled to Mussoorie, the hill station in Northern India. We went there just before the peak season started and enjoyed Mussoorie as it was not crowded. We did the usual things like walks to different locations, enjoyed the Himalayan fresh air. Our hotel was almost empty; hence, the owner told us to order whatever food we preferred; the only condition was, we had to inform them a couple of hours before our food time. We enjoyed superb North Indian hilly area cuisine. We enjoyed the street food too. We travelled back to Delhi by bus. On the bus stop, we met a family from Maharashtra. We chatted a bit, and I asked them, “How was your stay here?”. He said, “Everything was perfect, but we could not get Maharashtrian food anywhere!” Unfortunately, this family was not open to enjoy the local cuisine. Enjoy the local food when you travel, is my first dictum.

In this experience, I will not share the involved people’s state. I leave it to you to guess. Surprisingly we heard similar comments about this community at three different places. We were taking Delhi-Agra-Bharatpur-Jaipur holiday. When we reached Agra, we went to our hotel. We had booked through a travel agency, the hotel was ok, but we were somehow not happy with it. We decided to forego the reservation. We told our guide to take us to Hilton, which was nearby. As we sat in the car, the guide asked me a question. “Sir, you are from Maharashtra, is it not?” I asked him, “Why are you asking me this question?” He said, “ In the previous hotel people from xxx state live!” I asked him about the meaning of his statement. He said, “You don’t look their type!” I left it at that. It looked like these people don’t travel well.

The second experience was in the Bharatpur bird sanctuary. No vehicles are allowed inside. We hired two cycle rickshaws for three people, as I had a fever. Jaya and Priya were in one rickshaw, and I was in the second. We crossed a group of people from the same xxx state, we could guess from the language. I know a couple of sentences from that language, so does Priya. I called Priya and asked her in the xxx language, “How are you?” When we stopped at a lake to watch some birds, the rickshaw driver asked me the same question. “Are you from the xxx state?” I said, “No, I just know a sentence or two from that language.” He said, “Groups from the xxx state are complicated to handle. Ladies from these groups keep on talking loudly. Birds around fly away when they hear their  cacophony.” He said, “I tried to explain to them that they may not be able to see the rare birds if voice level is not reduced. The ladies shouted at me to mind my own business.” You may draw your conclusions.

The third experience I heard during the same journey was while visiting Amer Mahal in Jaipur. The Mahal is exquisite, and its architecture is superb. We had hired a guide here too. He showed us around. There was a Kali Mata Mandir. I generally pass going inside the Mandir. I was sitting outside, the guide and I were chatting. He said people from the xxx state are tough to deal with as they are unpredictable. I asked him, “Why are you saying so”? He said, “I was a guide to a group of about 15 people, and I was explaining to them, historical aspects of the Mahal complex. Suddenly one lady came forward.” She asked him, “Are you our guide? Are we not paying you for services?” With folded hands, the guide said, “Yes, Madam!” She asked him, “Why are you walking in front of us? You go to the backside; we will walk in the front. Then explain whatever you want to say.” He said, “This is the first some group had given me such an instruction. I, of course, followed it.”

Three different locations, three various service providers but all of them had the same opinion about the community. Why is it so? Why people have some peculiar habits? How are such habits formed? Do they behave in the same fashion as all such service providers at home too? Zamindars? Is it a superiority complex?

Taking my Mussoorie experience forward, last year Jaya and I took a holiday in Manali. Now, we are both around seventy years of age. But we continued with our tradition of enjoying the local food, within our medical limitations. Sweet Lassi and Gulab Jamun are now out of bounds for us! But Paranthas, Alu Subji for breakfast was a treat from God’s while enjoying the snow-capped mountains. Foodstuff was followed by piping hot tea!

Low cost, budget travel has its fun. We had travelled during our engineering course days to visiting different manufacturing plants in India. We had hired one full bogie of the train. We moved all over India for twenty-odd days. We would go to various places, visit the cities and come back to sleep in the train bogie! Was it fun? I remember those journeys sitting with the compartment door open and sitting there, chatting with friends!

We had travelled by bus from Dehradun to Mussoorie. We met a person while having tea in a hotel in Dehradun. He offered us a place to live at the princely sum of Rs.5/day per person. There was a single room and had a bath. We grabbed the opportunity as we were on the cost-saving mode all the time. Mussoorie was very cold as we were there at the end of December. We had already planned our battle with the cold, and each one of us had kept a quarter bottle of brandy in our pockets. We would take a swig of the drink when we got bone chilled.

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As I look back, we have enjoyed where ever we went for a holiday and whatever we did. Our budgets have been meagre to moderate to good. Our recent journeys to Europe and an Alaska cruise were expensive. But the common thing in all the trips has been to see and meet different people, eat different local foods, have local wine in Italy!  Last but not least, we will never know how others live their lives unless we travel!

Sometimes some minor things can wrong during travels, but if we learn to take everything in stride, we can really enjoy the journey, the experiences. We realise how different things are the world over. We have also understood that all humans are the same, where ever we go; their language and customs could be different. But don’t forget a couple of things, don’t shout in the bird sanctuaries and let your guide walk ahead of you!  Bon, voyage!

What is the mind?

This is a song from Hindi movie Chitralekha from 1964, sung by Mohmmad Rafi and Music by Roshan, written by my favourite lyricist Sahir. The song explains beautifully about the Mind which in Indian language is मन !

Can you arrest the Sunlight?

From rising and receding!

Can you imprison the colours?

Who has shackled the beauty?

All dictionaries define MIND in 2/3 ways.

  • The element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought.
  • A person’s ability to think and reason; the intellect.
  • A person’s attention.

Obviously, it is not a physical thing, it not an attribute but it is something which exists but cannot be seen. It is supposedly having a great depth, sometimes it is said to be deeper than the ocean. The way we cannot see things deep down the ocean, we don’t know what is happening in someone’s mind. It is unpredictable. People jokingly say that it is very difficult to predict how a lady will react to a situation but (jokes apart) same is true about men too, in fact, it is predictable about the human race that unpredictable nature of human facet is predictable!  This is one of the pictorial depiction of the Mind!

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The mind is a data bank within the humans, with unlimited gigabytes or terabytes of ever expanding memory. Human mind always compares new things, new events with old data in mind! When we talk of mind, we point our finger towards our head but in the head, we have a brain and not mind! So where is the mind? Mind to me is the human intellect which during “thinking” accesses the data bank, compares and gives out the result by way of actions; these actions may be verbal, in writing or by physical action. To give an example, someone is being interviewed for a job. After various stages, the person is offered that the company will pay 20% less salary than demanded. That person recalculates in his mind and says Ok, I am good. What did his mind calculate? First, it calculated how much was the final expected figure in his mind? What was it based on? Expenses, EMI’s emergency expenses and savings! Based on such variables the mind recalculated the new situation.

How can we develop a mind which is very passionate and always questioning? Probably when we constantly inquire anything and everything, our mind becomes a free mind, which has a lot of data and a lot of flexibility. When the flexibility is gone, the questioning is reduced or stopped, our mind starts accepting everything at face value. Such a thought process then starts calling many things as traditions, which are to be just accepted. Our mind may be gets covered with some kind of rust; this rust coating does not allow our mind to remain active and ensures that we accept everything as beliefs and traditions.

I told my granddaughter the other day that it is not a good idea to watch YouTube or TV while eating food. She has a very sharp mind and mind which does not have cover of rust. She said please tell me what happens if she watched YouTube or TV while eating food. I could have given two answers. One, it is a tradition, which is really true; till 50 years back there was no TV and till 10 years back there was no YouTube. Hence the tradition was not to distract your mind while eating. But for a five-year-old girl both these things have been around from the day she was born. So, telling her that it is a tradition is incorrect! I explained to her scientifically and she was happy with the answer. So many times, beliefs and traditions are something which we use to hide behind instead of facing the truth, challenge an event or a thought process. Because thought is the way we respond to something with old data and current data,  then mixing the two to bring out an appropriate response.

I feel that the brain and mind are synonyms. But the  brain physically exists and in the case of mind, there is no physical existence. As the brain is made up of several materials, it can be studied. On the other hand, it is hard to conduct studies on the mind as it is not made up of any material. The brain is an important organ in the human body whereas the mind is equally important. It is in the brain that all the functions and activities take place. The brain, which is the center of the nervous system, coordinates the movements, thoughts and feelings. But these are put forth or felt through the mind. We all use the mind to think, feel and respond. The Mind refers to a person’s understanding of things and also his conscience. Mind also refers to a person’s thought process. The brain has a definite place in the head. But with regard to mind, it is only supposed to be in the brain. The brain may be affected with diseases and can be diagnosed whereas mind does not have such complications. But yes! If your mind becomes corrupt about something then it is very difficult to eradicate such a thought process.

The mind never sleeps. It is always preoccupied with something; it is preoccupied with thoughts and these thoughts keep on changing all the time. Now the beauty of the mind. This non-physical entity controls many actions and reactions of humans, some good, some bad and some are really ugly. These actions and reactions can result in some fascinating outcomes and some horrible outcomes. The preoccupied mind wears out humans to a great extent, even when they are asleep. A person is worried about something and the mind goes in overdrive. Mind keeps on churning out thoughts to arrive at a correct solution. Till this solution is reached, the non-physical entity tires human body! The result can be that the humans are  not able to go to sleep, or are tossing and turning even when they finally fall asleep. As described in the song above the mind or मन cannot be controlled, cannot be arrested; it will follow its own path at its own will! In the famous song from Sound of Music, “How do you solve the problem like Maria”, there is a line “How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?” That’s mind for you!

There is a phrase a “Mind Over Matter”! This phrase is one of the most important statements in our lives. What does it mean? Mind over matter is —used to describe a situation, in which someone is able to control a physical condition, problem, etc., by using the mind, the ability to keep going, even when he is tired, it is a simple question of mind over matter.

We have seen and heard of many examples of Mind Over Matter. Lance Armstrong is one best-known athlete who overcame his cancer to win many cycle races. (Unfortunately, he was later caught in doping scandals and stripped off all his medals!) Oscar Pistorius had both his legs amputated in while he was a baby but he overcame these issues by having prosthetic limbs. After becoming Paralympic champion, he took part in normal races too, representing South Africa! (He is currently in jail for murdering his fiance!) We had a co-passenger when we took Alaska cruise. He needed 100% Oxygen support because of his medical condition. But he not only was on the cruise but also took all the land excursions!  I know a couple of people with this condition, who simply died after a few months!

I am still amazed by this human “organ” which is invisible! It controls human reactions, it decides important things in life, it gives great support to humans along with Adrenalin, during excitable situations! There is a lot of discussion going on these days, about Artificial Intelligence becoming very powerful and may do most of the things better than us humans. But I don’t agree. How can an algorithm or any code decipher human mind? Humans themselves cannot fathom the depth of the mind, they don’t have real knowledge about how the mind behaves; so, don’t worry we are safe in the hands of the mind!

 

Happiness Mantra!

The world is full of good things and bad things. Happy things and sad things. To me happiness and sadness are the two sides of the same coin, our life. If there were only one status in life, we would not have known the difference. Change of status is what shifts our mood from sadness to happiness. Sad or Happy status is a state of mind. There are some absolute things when anybody can be sad or some events make everybody happy. Death in family makes you sad and birth in a family makes you happy. Just change the lens through which you look at the world and you will find this state changes. World over, we have terrorist situation. But terrorist for you is a martyr to someone else. One group will be elated due to death of a terrorist and the other will be saddened due to death of a martyr. Two sides of the coin?

To me easiest way to remain happy is to switch mentally to the age group in which you are surrounded. Be a child around children, be a young man when with young people, understand tough life of hot shot busy executives who lead a hectic life. At my age we have been there and done that! We are enjoying our golden period of life. But that does not mean that we meet people our age all the time. When with younger people try to understand their way of life; probably in our times life was not that hectic, it was not so much connected. Enjoy  the different ways these people do things today. 

Young kids have their own way of understanding and imagining things. When I am with my granddaughter, I am transformed mentally to her age. She likes to listen to a new story every time. It can be about a ceiling fan, it can be about her imaginary younger sister, it can be about my childhood. I twist the stories in any which way, there can be pink snake or demon with blue T shirt, that’s me. The other day, I had some meeting in Tata Motors and I was getting ready to go. For the first time, she had seen me wearing a suit and a Tie. She was continuously asking me about the same and whatever I told her, she was not happy. Just as I was about to leave she said, “Grandpa, I know why you are wearing these clothes! You are taking part in a fancy dress competition!” When she was told that someone’s dog had to be treated for illness she asked,” Was the doctor also a doggy?” You get what I mean? Behave like kids when you are with them, you will be really happy. Enjoy their imagination, have fun with their thought process. That’s a path to happiness.  

If you go are in the group of young adults, their discussions and thoughts will be about new devices, selfies, RAM and what not. (Yes, they talk about girls too!) Try to be update with these things. Then you can have fun in this group too! Take some selfies with them! Maybe make crooked faces like these guys do! Be part of them! You may not like it initially but let me assure you, once you get to know their ways, there can only be fun. Once they are comfortable with you, they will ask you about old stuff. There are many things they don’t know anything about! Share with them. Be young at heart, be happy!  

You may have memories, you may have future plans which are known fashionably as bucket list! They will give you some happiness. But why bother about these things when you have so many things in front of you, in the PRESENT! Forget the past, don’t bother about future, enjoy the present. You are sitting with your friends, you are enjoying a book, you are enjoying a movie, your all-time favorite, Guide! Guide will bring your heart throb of college days, Waheeda in front of you. Enjoy it. There are trees, there are rivers, there is a lecture series going on, attend it. There is a rose show, don’t miss it. Once in a while go out and binge on your favorite Gulab Jamun, though you are not supposed to eat them due to diabetes! Become a child, cheat on food once in a while!  

There are many things which you must do or learn to ignore. Simply don’t bother about who thinks what about you. Happy people don’t let negativity of other people affect them. Oh, come on! Always be friendly and grateful, remove that frown! Keeping a smile on your face does not cost you money and say thank you to everyone who helps you a bit! Don’t take people for granted and thank people genuinely from the bottom of your heart! You let the infectious disease of smile to spread where ever you can, people will love you for that! Smile is something that can achieved in a group of people as our moods depend on people around us, with whom we spend most of our time. Be a part of smiling gang.

Every situation has two sides! Be blind to negative aspect of it! Stay positive in every situation. If there are more negatives, don’t lose heart! God has created that negative experience for you to remain a student, all through your life! Learn from it. Don’t become compulsive or obsessive personality. In life nothing is perfect. Even the beautiful Moon has its dark spots! You will find happiness easily when you learn to let go! Happy people know how to control their yearning for perfection. They are proud of what they have achieved. Not all can be Sachin Tendular, you can be a Dravid or a Ganguly too! For that matter you can be Amol Muzumdar or Paddy Shivalkar too! One of the very high ranking players who never played a test match for India!

Contribute to the world, at least to your surroundings. Try and help some needy people. Smile at some strangers. If a car stops to let you go, make thumbs up signal and smile! Keep on learning things, learn to use new gadgets! I know of an eighty-year lady, who learnt to use online banking! Taking interest in new things gives you energy and more meaning in life! 

Do social work, share your life’s experiences and knowledge with needy people! I have only written about trying to be happy with your own behavior, your approach to life! I am not even discussing many things you can do, for which you never got time while working! Don’t ever feel that you have become old. I learnt this in last few years. When we went for the Alaska cruise sometime back, there was a 99-year-old lady who was traveling alone! Then last year during our tour round the Alps, there was an 85-year-old person, traveling alone. There was a person who needed to carry his oxygen generation system with him all the time, was also on the cruise. He took local excursions too. Disability, age are a state of mind! These people made it look like their physical limitations did not exist.  

Friends be happy, be cheerful, keep smiling. It is easy to crib, it is easy rue lost opportunities. To be happy in life, needs to have positivity in you. I have seen people with financial difficulties, all their life, selling through, happily. Money helps but it’s not the only thing.  Happiness is infectious, spread it; the happiness disease always starts in a small way, but it can become bigger and bigger, if you allow it to spread. Start small but never stop being happy!