Want to be miserable, it’s easy!

I am fed up with positive articles and positivity in life! I have heard enough of lectures and written enough blogs on the subject. So, I thought, let me enjoy negativity! I was wondering what could be top three things in the list of things that make you miserable? Use of chemicals/alcohol that changes your mood, envy and resentment. The order might change for individuals, but for most people, this would be the sequence!

How many families have been devastated using such a substance? There is always the first time, which is risky, but it also depends on the company we keep. Mind you; these don’t depend on if someone has money, or there is a shortage of funds. These substances are addictive, and a person always feels that he or she is not addicted. They think that they could easily give up the habit. But it does not work out this way. Key to overcoming such a situation is first to accept that one is addicted.

I will share with you two stories. We were in a restaurant, and a family was sitting on the table next to ours. Two couples, one of them having two kids and the other couple, was having a kid with a pregnant wife. Luckily the couple was not allowing their twelve-year-old kid to taste the liquor. After some time, the lady wanted to use the washroom. She had lost control of her walk, and the son held momma’s hand and took her to the restroom. Any guesses what that child’s thoughts would be about alcohol, ten years later! Momma is always right!

An eighteen-year-old boy would hang outside his college premises, and the friends would have beers, sitting in their car once it started getting dark. The boy’s mother went and met one of his teachers. He was a favourite student of the teacher. The mother explained about beer drinking and requested help from the teacher. The next day the teacher called the boy and asked him about the beer drinking. He was surprised and said, “My mother seems to have met you.  What is wrong in having a couple of beers?” The teacher was surprised by this statement. When she further probed the boy said, “I have been watching my father having his drinks every evening after coming back home. So I assumed that it is a way of life.” The teacher explained to him the details about addiction etc. After further discussion, the boy said, “Madam, now I have understood the meaning of what I was doing. Now I will never touch alcohol in life!”

These two anecdotes explain what can happen in life due to addiction. So, go for these substances, and you will be surely miserable!

Next guaranteed way of becoming miserable is to become an envious person! Once you change your thought and become an envious person, nothing can stop you from being miserable. To make sure that you become and remain miserable, ensure that you look for new avenues for envy. Keep a diary of events that make you envious of someone. Some colleague was promoted above you, though you thought that you were a better candidate, note down your feelings in your diary. You can maintain an index page and details page like a book. When you don’t get enough time to remember events that made you envious, at least read the index so your fire of envy will remain stoked all the time. Later it may so happen that you will get a much better and higher paying job than your friend, but do not erase the entry from the diary. After all, this friend’s promotion was the cause of your envy!

Another friend was profoundly dyslexic when we were in school. We used to trouble him and tease him. We used to think that he was an idiot, and we were all smart guys. Later on, I met him at a social function. I felt that he must have become a slightly brighter version of the idiot he was. While parting, he gave me his business card. He had become a Managing Director of a multi-national and lived in Singapore. His two sons were studying at Harvard and Oxford. That is when I realised the real meaning of resentment. Friends, this is when really understood the meaning of the word, and I was miserable how I could have missed such an extraordinary feeling. On that day, I felt like a complete person who could resent anything and everything in life.

I went home, opened the bottle of my favourite poison and started drinking. I did not feel like eating any snacks along with my drink as I had envy and resentment to accompany me! But I felt like a complete person. How much had I achieved by meeting my old friend? By drinking alcohol and envying others for everything, I had fulfilment, but I felt that there was some shortcoming. Today, I became a complete person. I became so miserable that night that, the next day, I woke up with a big hangover but had the satisfaction of achieving my goal.

There are other small ways to reach your goal. Another prescription for misery is to learn everything you possibly can from your own experience, minimising what you learn from the good and bad experience of others, living and dead. Such prescription is a sure-shot producer of misery and second-rate achievement.

The results of not learning from others’ mistakes are fascinating. Get into the habit of entering the frequent disasters of humanity -drunk driving deaths, reckless driving maiming’s, incurable venereal diseases, conversion of bright college students into brainwashed zombies as members of destructive cults, business failures through repetition of obvious mistakes made by predecessors, various forms of crowd folly, and so on.

My additional prescription for misery is to go down and stay down when you get your first, second, third severe reverse in the battle of life. Because there is so much adversity out there, even for the lucky and wise, this will guarantee that, in due course, you will be permanently stuck in misery.

I recently read a story about a rustic who said: “I wish I knew where I was going to die, and then I’d never go there.” Most people smile (as you also must have done) at the rustic’s ignorance and ignore his basic wisdom. If my experience is any guide, the rustic’s approach is to be avoided at all cost by someone bent on misery. To help fail, you should discount as a mere quirk, with no useful message, the method of the rustic.

Friends, I envy and resent all of you who keep on thinking you are smarter than me but don’t worry, I have a solution, my chemical poison!

Advertisements

The chain reaction to improvement!

No human interaction is independent; generally, each action is the interaction of something that has happened before. Some people have the habit of not being neat and tidy. I know of a lady who never made her bed till she became a professional and started working independently, living on her own. She would make her bed and tidy up her room a bit whenever someone was going to drop in. Else things would be, helter-skelter! Somewhere within her, things were brewing up. She made her bed for four consecutive days, after waking up. Then on the fifth day, after making her bed, she picked up the clothes lying around and put them on the hangar or in the cupboard. Tiding up happened for a week, and then one day she got herself a basket to collect her laundry.

One thing led to another. The lady took the neatness drive to the kitchenette, washing her cups and dishes immediately after use. Once her mother came to visit her, without informing, on a Sunday morning. Our lady was fast asleep; she was happy to receive her mother. Her mother was pleasantly surprised to see everything spic and span. When her mother asked her about the change; the lady said, “The small act of making my bed made me realise the importance of not having clutter. But I always felt that doing so many chores was going to be tough; hence, I avoided doing even the basics. I know that I am a good professional, but now I feel that I am a good human being too!” One act of tidying up the bed led to another, like a Domino Effect. The result was being in a charming home was very pleasing and did not involve too much effort, as she had initially thought.

domino1

Domino effect definition is – a cumulative effect produced when one event initiates a succession of similar events. Though this has nothing to do with the current subject, I will share with you the real meaning of the Domino effect. In the game of Cricket, a team is batting well, and they are almost cruising towards victory. A wicket falls against the run of the play, and suddenly the all remaining batsmen get out as if by Domino effect!

Getting into a habit of following routines leads to a domino effect. After I went into semi-retirement, my daily routine had changed. I had more time on hand. So, I added the activity of going to the gym and for a walk in my daily to-do list. While working, these activities were intermittent, but with time on hand, I set up my routine. As far as possible, I don’t change my timings. It took a couple of months, but then these small acts led to a domino effect, and my routine fell in place. I have also added reading activity as a regular activity besides blogging. For the Domino effect to succeed, consistency is very important. Yes, I have also added taking a nap, in my to-do list.emrgency1

Friends, don’t forget that the domino effect takes place in forming bad habits too! Social media is a prime example of how bad habits can also be a part of the Domino effect. Cell phones came in our lives; then came Facebook, followed by WhatsApp in our lives. Where are we today? People are already facing problems of addiction, depression, and what have you? How did it start? It probably started with being able to see emails on a cell phone; then FB and WA. From that small jump, we took the next jump in the precipice of social media. People got hooked and addicted to social media; this addiction may be worse than alcohol and cigarettes! At least people avoid smoking and alcohol consumption in front of elderly, but social media has almost become a socially accepted addiction.

As always, anything good needs a bit of discipline and adhering to specific steps, sequencing and rules. If these are not followed, success could be delayed. The important thing that can happen is that you will be able to analyse yourself, the reasons for failure. The reason may be that the step where you failed was too big a task. Break the task into easily doable steps, and you will succeed.

Start with something which you are most motivated to do. Start with something small and do it consistently. Initially, you may not feel that fall of a Domino! But it will fall. That fall may change your thinking, your way of doing things. But when the Domino falls, it will enthuse you to take up the next step.

Maintain the momentum and immediately move to the next task you are motivated to finish. Let the energy of completing one job, carry you directly into the subsequent behaviour. With each repetition, you will become more committed to your new self-image.

When in doubt, break things down into smaller chunks. As you try new habits, focus on keeping them smooth and manageable. The Domino Effect is about progress, not results. Maintain the momentum. Let the process repeat as one domino automatically knocks down the next.

Having good habits has many advantages. You get a good feeling because of the lack of clutter. I had attended one course of 5S, the Japanese techniques. The tutor asked a senior manager from a large company, “Where do you waste your time in office?” The manager gave a bit of thought and  said, “65% of our time is wasted in locating things.” The department obviously had bad habits, and the boss allowed the shoddy way of working. By not being into good habits, efficiency gets drastically reduced. Performance becomes poor. But such things cannot be changed overnight. A small beginning needs to made and then let the Domino effect take its own course.

Good habits are not for someone else, they are for your own good. You become a better person, you become an efficient individual. All these things are needed to improve your persona. Many times we don’t change because we do not allow the domino effect to take place. We try to reach Mount Everest without even trying to reach the top of your local hill. But to reach the top of a local hill, start with climbing four floors in your condo using a staircase!

Please listen to me!

 

arguments4Argumentative Indian is a book by Nobel Prize-winning author, Amartya Sen.

The Argumentative Indian has brought together a selection of writings from Sen that outline the need to understand contemporary India in the light of its long argumentative tradition. The understanding and use of this argumentative tradition are critically important, Sen argues, for the success of India’s democracy, the defence of its secular politics, the removal of inequalities related to class, caste, gender and community, and the pursuit of sub-continental peace.

So far so good. But do we deserve to be allowed to argue? I have observed that in the public domain sometimes discussions are done for the sake of discussion. The level of such talks has reached the nadir; speakers have literally reached below the belt, pun intended. A male candidate talking about a female opposition member has made a statement, “I never knew that she was wearing a khaki chaddi (underwear) all these days.” Can one make an argument worse than this one?  Unfortunately, such statements are appreciated by their followers; nobody questioned the candidate while he spoke such vile words.

I am all for freedom of speech, but I would never like to live in an emergency like situation, nor would I like to live under a Hitler or a Mussolini. Everybody loves to argue, but it appears that the art of argument is lost at the altar of the new God, social media. The problem is that even in the public domain, the arguments done in Loksabha or Rajyasabha are more about personal attacks on each other from the ruling as well as opposition parties. Logical speeches are a rarity these days.

Another observation is that social media has created world-class commentators, in thousands. Everybody comments on politics, Indian cricket team selection, whether Priyanka Chopda is pregnant or not! Not only that but there are big fights shown on TV under the names like “Big Fight”, and the same gets reflected on WA groups. On Facebook, people write essays about how Modi is wrong or how Rahul Gandhi does not know anything. It is possible that the writer in every person is waking up, thanks to cell phone and easy to use keyboards in all languages.

About political arguments, the older you become rigid are your views. So on WA groups fighting tooth and nail about your point of view does not make sense. I have known of a few cases where childhood relationships became tense because of such arguments. Another important aspect we forget is that it is not worth fighting on issues on which we have no control. People take Alcohol; some like whisky and some like to drink wine. Some are fond of Beer, and some are Vodka fans. Of course, there are some teetotallers. Is it right that teetotaller calls others drunkards? Can teetotallers be called conservatives? Each person has his/her own way of living life; we should respect the views.

I recently read a poem धूप में घोडे पर बहस (Arguments about a Horse) by Kedarnath Singh. It is fascinating to understand how the poet has looked at the word बहस (argument or discussion).

Three friends were sitting in the Sun (must be winter time) discussing a horse. The first one said that the horse is lovely and the second friend added that the horse is sturdy! The third one said that if the horse is so sturdy then we should not even discuss it. The first friend shouted, “What do you mean we can’t discuss”? The second one said, “Of course, we can discuss.” The third friend looked pleased as he blew the cigarette smoke and said, “But where is the horse?” First one said, “So what if the horse is not there, we can always discuss about him.” The second one said, “I have never seen a horse in ages.” The third one said, “The population of horses is reducing fast”. The second one said, “Why is the population reducing?” The first one said, “That is because horses are being sold.” Now it is immaterial which friend said what. Just enjoy the arguments. “Who buys so many horses?” “We can get this number from somewhere!” “Why, why we can not get the numbers?” Then the first one whispered, “God knows what these numbers will reveal?” Finally, the third one shouted as if coming out of a trance, “Friends, one day we will know the correct numbers and the real story will come out.” After this statement, there was pin-drop silence for a long time. How did Kedarnath know that this will be the future quality level of arguments?

Inferior is the quality of arguments that we have on TV channels and social media. Subjects may be essential for discussion, but the treatment and direction given to subjects are abysmal, sometimes the arguments are nasty. The title of the blog “Please listen to me” is ironical. The word please is never used in discussions these days. In public domain people do and say anything to earn some brownie points.

What is an argument? There are many definitions of arguments, but I have chosen a couple of them.

  • a reason given for or against a matter under discussion
  • an angry quarrel or disagreement

The argument is a way of life and is used at home, in business, in education, in research besides many other areas. While arguing both sides are expected to be professional and polite, giving respect to each other. In science, the argument is put forth in trying to prove something new which may be compared with an existing method, process or a product. By arguing, different points of view come forward. The idea is to discuss and find the best possible solution or resolution to issue being discussed. But every time it may not be an issue. When two people from opposing political parties argue, they are putting their thoughts in front of us and are trying to prove how their party or candidate is better than the other.

I feel that the maturity, dignity, and style are more important while arguing. Shouting match starts when nobody has a better argument, or it reflects on that person’s culture! The discussion should be talking about the chosen subject matter and  unparliamentary words should never be used.

In a housing society committee except for the head, all were young people. This head used to shout to prove his points. In the first meeting after I joined the committee, this person started shouting to prove his point. I told him to speak normally, but he argued that his voice was loud. I told him “Sir, learn to speak softly and then speak, otherwise you need not to speak.” After this incident, he never shouted again.

arguments1

Now regarding the arguments/ shouting match on social media, above mentioned rules should be followed more rigidly. The groups that are formed are for a specific reason. The groups can be an alumni group, office groups, ex-office groups, society group, and many more. But all these people come together because of a specific reason. On such groups, one should not make unnecessary political arguments; these are uncalled for and counterproductive. For those who are politically minded, should form a separate group and keep on doing what they feel is right. My observation is that all groups 90 to 95% are not interested in such arguments.

Kedarnath Singhji has found it long back the way people argue. He has explained it in a light-hearted manner. So, let us go by his advice and suggestions, refrain from arguing on social media and if you are in an argument, use the word “Please”! Let me assure you good arguments are fun, and they are enjoyable, if done the right way!

Death Rituals Revisited!

Hinduism and for that matter, the human race has been full of rituals. But the event of death is handled by humanity in many ways. Birth and death are two things common to humankind, irrespective of caste, creed and religion. We are following same rituals which have started thousands of years back. The birth rituals do not seem to be elaborate compared to death rituals. Why is it so? Even with modern scientific knowledge, we only know about the science part of the death process. But we do not understand the moral component, the dilemma of handling the death of loved ones. What happens after death? Is death good, bad or evil?  

One thing is for sure; death is an irreversible event that we cannot change, we cannot get the dead person back among us. Humans have different views about what happens after death. There are various stages in the rituals followed. Rituals probably start with the actual passing of a person. In modern times, some people donate their whole body to research. Some offer their organs which can be used by the needy. I am not sure what rituals take place when the entire human body is donated. But when the person gives away organs like the eyes, the medical procedure gets precedence over the rituals. Another change that I have seen in recent times is that we perform some rituals at home. So when we take the body to the cremation ground, no pooja is performed. We put the body directly for the cremation.  

Some Hindu organisations have modified the rituals to suit the modern times. These organisations want the family to understand what the procedures are. The priests explain these procedures to the family and the near ones. But all these rituals are not so elaborate compared to what we follow in old rituals.  

From olden times the 13th day after death has been crucial for Hindus. This day marks the end of the mourning period. The ceremonial feast marks the end of the mourning period by inviting family and close ones. This meal is an excellent way of trying to come back to normal after a death. After lunch, the guests are expected to give a small gift to the hosts — good idea of continuing with normal life.  

The younger generation does not prefer even this semi-modern ritual. This generation feels that this method is not ok. I discussed this with a young couple, who thought that all this was unnecessary. The couple had attended one such ceremony. The priest chanted the shlokas, the mantras, the hymns in Sanskrit, translated it in Marathi during the explanation where necessary. More than 50% of people present were not involved in the proceedings. The venue selection also added to non-involvement, as the peaceful atmosphere was absent.  

I always have questions in mind about all these rituals. I tend towards being an atheist, but I respect other people’s views too! There is no doubt that death is a sad event or I can say that it is not a happy event. But should the passing away be treated as something evil? When death occurs at a young age (There can be a difference of opinion about the word young), or I can say out of turn death, there is a shock, awe at the event! It becomes tough for all to accept such deaths. Under these circumstances coming back to normalcy can be tough but as usual, there is no option! Such deaths are painful to take. Others will find it difficult to tell the family of the dead person to overcome their sorrows; others will accept them for trying to find solace in some rituals. Ultimately everybody concedes such deaths as destiny. 

But when death occurs at an acceptable age, (Ok, Ok what is acceptable?) situations should be handled differently. Current average age at the time of death in India is around 67; with this reference, if the death occurs past 80, that should be acceptable. Everybody is going to die at some stage. So if death happens while the person is not bed-ridden, or if the person has had no long, painful years of illness, death should be celebrated! In certain parts of England, death beyond 80 years under the circumstances mentioned above, is observed formally as an event for celebration. It is called Golden Death party. 

I am not talking about aping the west, but why not celebrate such deaths?  Writer and Editor Dilip Padgaonkar’s family threw a party to family and friends, after his death, as per wishes of Dilip. In the party, food and alcohol loved by Dilip were flowing. Changes are happening in society, but they are very slow. The number of people taking part in such changes is minuscule, considering our population.   

From my discussions with people, and what I read, the traditional rituals are performed because, well they are being conducted all these years. The old methods of rituals need three to four days to be completed. In olden days, everybody had enough time. Going to work or office did not consume much time. Hence the rituals were elaborate and time-consuming.

In most cases, people performed rituals out of fear. Society looked at death as evil, an impure happening. If a cause of death was a contagious disease then considering death as polluted was understandable, though the description is incorrect. Hygiene standards in olden days were poor; these poor standards were the cause of contagious diseases. People performed many purification rituals (even today these are followed). I remember the death of a 74-year-old person who died a natural death. He was a non-believer. His family cremated him as per his wishes; cremation did not involve religious stuff. Nobody expected major rituals on the 13th day. When we got an invite to the 13th-day event, we had a surprise in store. They have two homes, one his bungalow and other his family home. The family performed the same ritual called “Shant”, twice. One at each house. When we checked the reason for the change, they performed the rituals because marriage was supposed to take place in the family at a later date. The evil in the form of death had visited their home; hence the residences were “purified”. Are we in the 18th Century? The family is supposedly highly educated.  

In today’s newspaper, I read a piece of exciting news. I am always excited when humans go away from rituals in which they don’t believe. A couple did a very noble deed. The husband lost his father due to old age. The couple calculated the cost of all the rituals. They arrived at a figure of Rs fifty thousand. They donated a much-needed hot water solar system to a residential school. Kudos Sir! The couple is from a small town, and we cannot describe them as a modern couple. Such people are showing the way to society. 

Friends, don’t become only outwardly modern. Change internally, follow your instincts. Look at the whole thing from wastage point of view. In various rituals Hindus perform यज्ञ; they sacrifice multiple items to the fire God. Every year millions die. We sacrifice many things like Ghee, Oil. These things are a total waste. We have a lot of people who do not get sufficient food regularly. People should donate the wasted food to the needy. Is the wastage of such priceless resources done because of fear? Is it justified? 

Anatomy of reaching your Gooooooal!

Walkway

I read a poem by Kedar Nath Singhji, रास्ता, the Road or the Pathway! The beauty of his poems is that the poems throw up a simple thoughts, a new way of looking at life. In the poem, he talks about three Egrets flying in the sky and three men going out of town in heat of the Sun. They had taken a pathway on the plains and all very confident that they will reach their destination (or target?) by Sunset, the same way as the Egrets reach their home on the trees before Sunset, every day! Since the men thought that they were on their way, they were engrossed in chatting. Suddenly they were forced to a screeching halt and found that pathway had ended;  in front, they found fields full of Jowar! How come the pathway ended? Where has the pathway gone? They were worried and confused wondering what to do now!

Then they saw an old farmer who was packing up for the twilight. They went to him and asked him, “Where is the pathway? How has it suddenly ended?” In their minds, each had different thoughts. One thought it’s a good idea to turn back. The second one thought, they rest for the night and the third one thought that there is a need to somehow find the way. The third one did not waver from his target. The farmer just picked up a lump and threw it towards a cow, who was lazily grazing. The moment she was hit, she started moving in a certain direction through the field. The farmer just signalled to these three men to follow her!

These three men followed the cow, walking through the Jowar stalks, her hoofs making crunching sounds. After walking some distance, they were in for a surprise. Sun was almost down but twilight was still there. And lo! They saw the pathway and at some distance, they could see their destination.

This is what happens in our lives, friends. The cow was there, the fields were there. The farmer was there and Sun was there. Only these men, apparently had forgotten what their target was, what their destination was. And in all this time the Egrets had flown ahead and had reached their destination.

This is the story of life for many of us. We want to achieve a lot, we set our goals, we set our targets, and hope that we will achieve everything. And we hope that we finally make that Goal! But is not as simple as that, there can be a sudden end of the road, there may be a sudden dead end. We may rethink the goal, we may simply give up on the goal. Suddenly, we will become Arjuna! We will lose all the energy and lose our wish  to reach the target! There are many reasons why this happens, all of us cannot explain the way Kedarnathji has explained it beautifully, in his poem रास्ता. Here are the six reasons why we fail to reach our goals!

  • Loss of Focus
    • Why do we lose focus? There are many things in life that we do simultaneously, it can so happen that we may lose focus about a goal
    • This tells that we should prioritize the targets we have and try to work on them and list out priorities.
    • Once we list out the priorities, then we know the path. But don’t forget that there are several goals and hence several paths; maybe you will go on the wrong path when you lose focus. The wrong path may be the right path for a different target!
    • Loss of someone close or in the family can be a genuine reason to lose focus. Things can get derailed for some time, but the motto of “Life Goes On” needs to bring us back on track.
  • The absence of strong enough reasons
    • Our goals and targets are set for some specific reasons.
    • Your friends say that you must get your annual medical check-up done, regularly, every year. You have never had any serious health issues before, you have not known any serious hereditary issues in the family. You then start feeling infallible. What happens if I don’t do the check, let me do it after I am free from the current pressure at work! This is not on! Your health has to be in your topmost priority list.
    • You have a target to buy a bigger house but for some reason or the other, it is getting delayed. Honestly to me it hardly matters if you put such targets on the slow burner!
    • Things like love, family, country, freedom and security are compelling reasons. But you have to state just what those reasons mean to you if you don’t want to fail to achieve your goals. When you state what it means to you, and it’s deep-rooted enough into who you are, your determination won’t waver, and you’ll end up seeing things through.
  • Lack of Planning
    • When an aeroplane takes off from one city to the next, it has a goal. It has a goal to land at a specific destination on a specific day and at a specific time. But it doesn’t just have that goal, people plan to achieve it. It can’t achieve the goal without planning towards it. How will it take off and land? How much fuel will it need? What direction will it travel? What happens when there is air-traffic congestion or turbulence?
    • Create a massive-action plan towards achieving your goals. But don’t just create that plan and forget it. Plan every single day, week and month out towards your long-term goals. What will you do to tackle your most important tasks for the day? How will you manage your time effectively so that you don’t get distracted? There is so much to consider, so be sure to plan, plan and plan some more.
  • Inability to act at the right time
    • I published a blog on 26/10/2018 on this subject, the title is Procrastination. https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/10/26/procrastination/
    • I have mentioned the same things in the blog. If we don’t act or react on time, our targets can go haywire.
    • While pushing past the obstacles we face in life is hard, to say the least, it’s overcoming procrastination that’s even harder. But there’s a simple method that you can use to help get momentum back on your side. It’s called the 15-minute rule. Set a timer on your phone for 15 minutes and commit to doing the one task that you’ve been putting off for exactly that amount of time.
    • There is nothing golden about 15 minutes. But this 15-minute timer (it could be 10 or 20 minutes too!) will remind you of what you have to do and break your inaction cycle!
  • Bad habits that hold us back
    • Another reason why we fail to achieve our goals, are due to the bad habits that hold us back. How can we expect to achieve monumental results when those bad habits keep getting in the way? Did you know, according to one study, that habits comprise 45% of human behaviour?
    • If you don’t want your bad habits to stand in the way of you and your goals, you need to find ways to overcome them. It happens slowly over time. Don’t try to go from zero to hero overnight. When you try to create or break a habit too fast, it can snap and unravel. When that happens, you revert back in a more vehement way.
    • The problem with some habits is that they can also create a change in our physiology, making us dependent on them. This goes for cigarettes and alcohol as much as it does for sugar and fatty foods. It’s difficult to overcome physiological dependencies. It takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight.
  • Apprehensions
    • You want to change a job or to migrate to a different country; as the time to this comes near, we start having apprehensions!
    • This is one tough thing that you need to overcome yourself or take someone’s help.
    • Reaching a goal is not a poetic subject. It involves Brass tacks! It needs detailing, it needs planning and needs to overcome the inertia. It needs for us to overcome speed breakers and many other barriers.

When I came across this beautiful poem रास्ता by Kedar Nath Singh, I felt that the life is not so beautiful and charming! He said the same thing in his charming way, but he has also added that while the three men lost their way, the Egrets had moved on and had reached the target way ahead of the three men! The real life Egrets also don’t wait for anybody, same as time and tide!

Money, Money, Money!

 

Money, Money, Money is a famous song sung by Abba, released in 1976, four years after the group was formed. This song became very famous but Money has been famous for a long time. Money can do wonders, money can give you happiness but it can break families. Fights and disputes over money are as old as alcohol, prostitution and smoking! I am not surprised with any story that reaches us. For me this is good song but I have never liked its meaning!

From the beginning it will be a good idea to teach children about money, its importance but they also must be trained to understand that it is just a vehicle for our journey, called life. Having money and donating part of it should be taught in our curriculums! I have seen that richest of the rich are happy as well as sad. I have seen that poorest of the poor are also equally happy and sad. It is how we handle the money, how we approach it is more important. Bill Gates is classic example that needs to be emulated by all. He has found the real meaning of money. He has so much money, that it is almost immaterial to even discuss about it. But he has made it the mission of his life to donate his money for good cause; this cause also keeps his intellect busy. 

I am never surprised or amazed by stories I hear and read! Latest one I heard is about a family, unfortunately, already it was a broken family. As it is, in broken families, relations are pretty difficult and strained. Here is a family, parents divorced ages back, both remarried for years. All interactions have always been veering towards instability. Father from this family was unwell for quite some time, with dementia. Both siblings were in forties and one of them not yet settled, financially and otherwise. The other sibling was settled and staying in a foreign country. When Father died, the information started coming about his finances. The mother had taken away all the assets of the father under the garb of dementia; nobody knew when she got the necessary power of attorney to transfer everything in her name! Nobody knew about this and suddenly information came out, about this discrete action. End result, the broken family was fully broken, they were at least on talking terms, once in a while! Of course, I don’t know all the details but vows must have been taken by the offended parties not to see the mothers face again, ever. Why was mother so greedy about the money? In her second marriage she was already quite well off!  

Why do the humans behave this way? Assuming that I only know one side of the story, there was hardly any reason for the mother to cheat, that too at the age of 65 plus! There is a law about distribution of assets when a person dies. Is money so important in life, that one is ok with the situation of zero contacts, with children and grand-children? What is sufficient money? After the age of 65 plus how much money are you going to need? What can one do with the money? What is the idea of happiness and joy of these persons? Is blowing money joy? Is cheating your own children joy?  

Another story that I know is about a family with many brothers and a sister. 25 to 30 years back there was a dispute about family home in the native place. The sister once suggested that she may be legally allowed to use one room in the big home, during her life time. Why this demand was made I would not know, she could have used it, anyway! This demand started the Mahabharat. All these years, the brothers and mother did now “see their sisters face”! It led to some court case where they would come face to face in the court of law. One of the brothers and his wife once came for a cup of coffee to my house. One thing led to the other. I casually asked them if they will be visiting their family member from sister’s side, in the neighborhood; they were closely related to the sister! “Over my dead body” was the reaction! This was nothing but shear ego! There is one beautiful message I saw on the Facebook. At the bottom it says, “Type Yes if you agree!” I am sure all of you will agree with this message.

.facebook_1533908762019.jpgThis sort of attitude had cut off interactions with the next generation cousins, for not their fault. When this issue had started the eldest of the children from next generation,  must have been about 15. Now the post-script! 30 plus years have passed and a lot of water has gone down the bridge! Two brothers have died, the mother has died! Cousins rarely speaks with each. Remaining brothers and the sister talk to each other, maybe once in a year. Yes, and there is further news! One of the remaining brothers, who is a lawyer, has started a court case claiming that the whole property was “given” to him by his mother, when she died! Wow! This is the only word that comes to mind! 

Ego of one generation, has totally broken up relations between a family! What was the benefit? Zero because in such situations the result is always negative and all miss out so much in life. The real concept of family and ownership in human race has started only ten thousand years back and it is still “work in progress”! Will the humans ever learn?The progress made by humans always has two sides. Initially, humans were struggling to create fire but now we have the problem of misuse or mishandling of fire! Courts were created with a view to be fair to all; now we see how these same courts are misused. Weapons were created for safety in wild wild jungles in olden days, then we have Hiroshima and Nagasaki!  

Friends and family are beautiful institutions that humans have created; let us try and maintain the harmony. Money after all comes and goes but the beautiful memories remain with us till we take our last breath! That is the biggest treasure that we can have! Choice is ours!  

Friends, those devils!

RangyaPravinMe

Vijay keeps on sending interesting stuff to me for viewing, observing, commenting and he also hopes that I will also curse him, once in a while. Today he sent me a poem about friends. The poem is nostalgic ride through our lives! What are friends? To me they are god’s gift to the mankind! How do you make friends? How do you become friends? The process of making friends starts in one’s childhood. The other day I went to drop my granddaughter Rhea for gymnastics. She is four and half years of age. She has joined gymnastics about ¾ months back. As soon as I entered the arena, I heard a couple of shrieks, couple of shouts and shrieking and jumping from Rhea! She saw some of her friends whom she meets five days a week. The reaction made me so happy, that I wished I were her age. This is what one feels when we meet friends. The unnecessary limitations created by age, and society norms come in the way of expressing our real feelings. The photo above is one showing me with my friends Ranga and Pravin! We managed to reach Rhea’s age, hopefully!

Good old friends are as rare as the treasure lying on the ocean shores! Friends are those gems which come out of our life’s churning! Those who are lucky will have many friends, long term friends, very close friends and friends who have hardly changed due to life’s passage. There can be outwardly changes in how they look, how they drink but basic core of such person does not change with time!

How does one define a friend? Friend is that person, with whom we are very comfortable. That person is one with whom we will share mundane details like how you enjoyed peanuts the other day, which reminded you of school times. The person, who will know looking at you, that you are having some churning in mind! You are all alone at home, you have some minor or not so minor health issue; the person calls or you call the person and say there is something important that needs to be discussed. The calendar for next hour is immediately cleared and the next sentence is “Tell me!” Another friend, had some major issue in his life and that suddenly. He called his close friend and told him, ” You both cancel all your stuff for today and come over!” They were both professionals but within next 30 minutes they reached their friends home.

The friend is a good listener and has sympathetic body language! With friends you will always feel that there will be only suggestions, no admonishment, no judgment! The person will give you opinion and suggestion only when you ask him. Many a times we need only a sounding board, a friend who absorbs everything and keeps the small secrets you shared, hidden deep in his mind! You can discuss your business issues, office issues and family issues! But I always hope that everybody’s spouse is their ” The Best” friend! In absence of such relationship, sometimes your best friends may find it difficult to absorb and may ask you. ” Did you discuss this with your spouse?” You can tell your best friend that you are simply bored with life and don’t know what to do! In most cases, letting your steam off solves half the problems. Your friend may not be the smartest guy in the world but is concerned about you, and is worried about you. The person always has your best interests in mind.

Does your friend like you? Is he willing to give you sufficient time and energy? Do you feel invigorated in presence of that person? Do you feel relaxed in the persons presence without having tea or alcohol? For me just presence of some persons gives such a feeling. Do they exude any special energy? Do you feel comfortable in their presence, when they shake your hand, do you feel the warmth, when they hug you do you get the feeling, ” Finally we have met”! Is there freedom in your relationship of expressing displeasure, openly?

You and your friend may have some different thoughts on certain subjects; but in case of such issues, the friend will not tell you mend your ways, as he respects your views. You are accepted as you are. At the same time if you are doing something illegal or unethical the person will go out of the way to meet you from busy schedule to warn you about such things! Friend the great listener, will listen to your details till you have completed what you want to say. Only after that the person will start probing you about your issues. The person will give pointers only at the right juncture! The most important aspect during this discussion will be that there will no prejudice!

Coming back to expression of joy by the kids like Rhea, when they meet their friends every day. Why do we not act like kids? In fact, it is not only about friends, in every aspect of life we should try and ape the children. Especially if you are in my age group near 70, we can do whatever we want, people expect you to be senile! But by remaining serious minded, by trying to follow social norms in everything we do, we are killing the child within us. The usual cliché is so right, “do your work seriously, don’t take yourself seriously”!

I see many positives these days when we friends meet. We fight like kids, we argue like kids, we complain like kids (to WhatsApp admin), we exit the WA group in a huff! These are all signs that many of our friends have remained young in mind. Probably our pool of “close friends” may not increase but there is a larger pool of friends who are available as a sounding board. We reach this stage because we have gone through tough phases in life, major illnesses in life. I have met some friends after a long time, I became friends with some of them late in life. But the hitting the right chords is important, like it is important for perfect performance of musical instruments!

Like everybody, I also have some very close friends. Jaya of course is my best friend! I do not want to write the names of these friends as these are such fine people that they will get embarrassed, later when we meet, they will thrash me too! I am lucky to have such a large pool of friends; what do I expect from them? Nothing! I only hope that they will remain in my life all the time.

Alcohol taken moderately has a great effect on humans; you feel light in mind, you get a light-hearted feeling and you feel that everything is right with this world. But this is not essential. Friendship is such a potion. It is like Obelix from Asterix comics who had fallen into container of the magic potion, giving him unlimited strength. Try and fall into the potion of friendship and have greatest joys of life .