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!

 

 

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Montreal- musing of the day to day life!

Nowadays travels have become more relaxed, comfortable and all of us try and create our bucket lists of things to do, places to visit. But one of my bucket list items is to try and understand the details and issues of living in different countries and cities. At my age now there is a zero chance that I would live in any other city than Pune. I am taking this opportunity of my longish stay in Montreal to understand the local details. Everybody writes about Niagara Falls, Golden Gate Bridge and Eiffel Tower, so I thought I will jot down my observations about day to day life in Montreal.

All over the world, basic things remain the same; human nature is the same. It is the reactions to the events, dialogues that make the difference. Human emotions and conflicts will always be there. It has nothing to do with the city, state or nation. But one interesting statistic that I read about Canada says that the crime rate compared to the US is very low, which makes life safer and the cities more livable.

It seems that there is a unique donation culture in this area. The boxes shown are to put the items people want to donate. From these boxes, the needy people can take whatever items they want and whatever quantity they want. The remaining items are taken to the shop. The shop mends the items, and these are then sold in the shop as used stuff at a very reasonable price.

Road repairs are a regular activity in any city. Depending on availability, technology is used to perform the activities. On the street where we live, major pipe repair work is going on. The first thing noticeable is how the safety of people is handled. After the digging is completed, wire mesh cages are put around the dug area. For one day, the water supply had to be stopped entirely. Two days in advance, every house was handed over a letter about the same. Small flags were put (middle photo) indicating which pipelines are to be changed and which were not to be touched. There were parking restrictions from seven to seven; proper no parking boards were prepared in advance and put everywhere. Also, bright colour markers were placed on the road to indicate the presence of safety cages.

Local transport of course changes with the city to city!  Montreal Metro and Bus service have a common pass which makes it a composite service, no big deal. But what I found interesting was that to buy that pass, I had to buy a ticket called Opus. It is valid for seven years, whether you are a citizen or a casual visitor. So next time when I visit Montreal, I only need to do the top up! Modern cities are expected to have different arrangments. But what I found interesting was the availability of cycles, electric cycles and electric scooters, like the ones used by kids. These are readily available, and like rental cars, these can be taken from a place and parked where one finishes the trip. These vehicles have marked areas with cycle stands. Using an app, these can be used by everybody.

One thing I am going to enjoy is the leaves changing colours. I have seen this change in Boston, Maine and Seattle area. Though we know why and how the colours change, each region has a different kaleidoscope of colours. The leaf above is what I found today, and the blood-red colour is marvellous! It is the famous maple leaf of Canada! I will share some more pictures later when autumn sets-in!

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Many western countries have arrangements in public areas where wheel-chair access is provided. In Montreal,  I found it on each footpath at the end of the footpath, there were slopes, which allowed easy access to wheelchairs, cycles, prams, electric scooters, and so on. On each footpath, there are poles provided to tie-up your cycles.  It is no rocket science but detailing is where these arrangements succeed! We know about the sad story in Pune when such cycles were made available, recently.

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During the third week of October, there are federal elections in Canada. I remembered our election campaigns, but here I saw only small posters of the candidates hung on the poles on roads or I saw one small sticker fixed in a bus. On further checking, I was told that the campaign is mainly done on radio shows where the candidates give speeches or have debates. It is about the thought process. I remember having read an article by one of the leaders of a very aggressive party in India. He had gone to the US for the first time with a delegation. In the article, he wrote, “How do people make protests here? How do they take out processions? I could not see a single area where stones were available for pelting.”

There are of course equivalent of Deep Mini markets available for buying day to day stuff. But these are much larger though they may not be from a chain of stores. Standard facilities like trolleys and baskets were visible facilities, but they had provided entry and exit doors with motion control sensors. Doors opened with a motion sensor so that people going out with bags or a trolley found it easy. Again no rocket science! Yesterday we wanted to buy an item which we could not locate. Their employee spent 15 minutes with us and found it; it was worth only six dollars!

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Since many people don’t use cars in Montreal, I saw many of them using a trolley. You buy your stuff, fill up your trolley, and you are on the way though there was one difficulty. In certain areas in the Metro system, escalators are not provided. One has to pick up the trolley and take it up or down! I asked my daughter how does she manage this when going with her daughter. Yesterday I helped her carry on the stairs. She said that she uses it only when her husband is with her!

I feel that modern society is one where detailing is done for the comfort of people who live in the city, these need not be fancy or elaborate. These are to create ease in our day to day chores, like buying, throwing garbage, managing road repairs! It has its humane angles where poor and needy are also looked after, and there is a system for that. I saw a young Gora beggar who looked fit, was about 30 but these things probably remain the same world over. Why this would happen in the advanced world is a surprise. Those who want to work can get a job in these cities; they have almost free medical system for all citizens. We talk about the diversity of people in India and our cities. But slowly, I see similar diversity in many so-called western countries due to migration and refugee issues. But one thing you need to do, assimilate. My daughter is in Montreal, Quebec, since three months. Here the first language is French. Her immigration advisor told her, “Doctor, you will be dealing with the local population so you must know French well. You start work after you have mastered French.” In three months she has picked it pretty well and understand at least 80% of what is spoken when she goes out. By the way, the Montreal population is about one point eight million!  One important thing, people looking at their phones on public transport is much lower about 35%!

Nostalgic Musings!

 

Nostalgia1Today while discussing Indian Air Force strikes against terrorist camps in Pakistan, Rhea, my granddaughter asked me what were we talking about? I was at my wit’s end. I tried a story about bad men and good men, but she was not convinced. She asked me, “Why are you talking about aeroplanes?” Then I told her that there is a place called Pakistan where some bad people live. They come to India (she shouted, Bharat Mata ki Jay!- probably, they say the slogan in school). These people come here and steal things and give trouble to our people. Then our police went to their houses in aeroplanes and helicopters to catch the bad people. She was convinced with the explanation; it hit the right buttons. She said it is like “Chu Chu TV- We are the Police” video. Life is straightforward for the kids; everything is a game for them!

In case you have not seen the show please watch or show it your grandkids or kids! It is interesting!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tA2mCzIgOBM

As I was thinking of this discussion with Rhea, it took my mind back to a few events/incidents in my life, including those of times of 1971 war! But I am not going to write about the war. One incident involved a young married girl; another included a young unmarried girl, and the third one has an 85-year-old gentleman and his wife. I thought these incidents were fascinating; hence I am sharing them with you.

I was once travelling back from Boston after a visit to my son Sachin. It was Boston-Paris-Mumbai flight. The flight was empty. Initially, when the seats were allotted at Paris, a young married girl who was around 30, was seated next to me. We said, “hello, how are you etc.” As soon as the plane took off, we discussed and decided that we should grab the connecting seats and try to catch up with sleep. She said she would go elsewhere; I got three seats where I was sitting. Many passengers had a great time because of the empty flight. She joined me when food was served and went back to sleep.  A couple of hours before landing, I was done with my rest and so was she. She came and sat with me. We got to know each other. She had a child and was doing her PhD in the US. She was on a quick surprise visit to Mumbai to wish her father on his 60th birthday! I shared with her about my family and grandson. As the flight neared Mumbai, it was an hour away from landing, she gobbled a couple of tablets and said, “Uncle, during the descent I face a severe problem of an earache. Sometimes it is so bad that I can’t bear it and I scream. Please bear with me.”

I had never seen such a severe effect on individuals; I have noticed that babies generally cry during ascent and descent. One thing led to others, and I was trying to keep her busy chatting. We found a common subject, and she started sharing her experiences. I have also had a few anecdotes up my sleeve. We kept on talking, but I never asked her if she was having any pain! All of a sudden there was a minor thud, and the lady was a bit startled! She said that the pilot never mentioned about the turbulence. How come we suddenly had a rough patch? I said, “Lady we have landed!” She was shocked to realise that she had landed without any pain for the first time in her life while landing. She was so pleased that she did not know what to say. People talk about psychosomatic problems. Her pain must be real when it comes; she must have realised that if she could get her mind diverted she would have no or reduced pain.

 

Years back Jaya, Priya and I were on holiday in Nainital. We stayed at a lovely resort at Naukuchiatal. The resort had a beautiful garden facing the lake for sitting there, and chitchatting. We met a couple there on the first day itself. The gentleman was Mr Pran Chopra, retired chief editor of Tribune. He was the doyen of Indian journalism. He and his wife immediately became our aunty and uncle. Every day we three would go out to enjoy the Uttarakhand hills and would be back by 4 pm. Uncle and Aunty did not go out anywhere; they would come every year for soaking in the atmosphere. Pran uncle was around 85 years old, then. We hit it off well immediately when we met.

During our stay there we spent every evening together for tea, a little drink later and dinner. One evening aunty said they wanted to celebrate that we all met and treated us for dinner. She had told the chef to cook some unusual dishes. One evening she gave a small gift to Priya. Aunty said that they are not sure whether they will be able to attend Priya’s marriage (Priya was still in college) hence gave her a set of six handkerchiefs. She specially embroidered them after she met Priya. They lived in Delhi. After a few years, aunty called us to invite us for the 90th birthday celebration of Pran uncle. It was a beautiful lunch at a farmhouse, on a pleasant winter day in Delhi. We specially travelled from Pune to Delhi, for lunch and celebrated the occasion with them.   Even today we fondly remember our happy memories with them. It is said that marriages are made in heaven; similarly lucky ones like us also get the love of such beautiful people. One starts believing in destiny. We were not even booked to stay at that resort, but due to reservation mix-ups, we ended up in the resort where Pran Uncle and Aunty had come for a holiday!

The last incident occurred when my room-mates Nayan, Sharad and I were coming back to Pune after spending a few days in Bombay in late ’60 s of the previous century. This story is more about the raging hormones of the youth! In the train we had a family sitting with us. There were a couple of girls, in the family. All of us were excited as we got an opportunity to chat with them. At the end of the journey, we convinced their parents to join us on a full moon night boating, at the engineering college boat club. We had great fun with the usual exuberance of the youth. Later for quite some, we used to discuss the girls. Most of the discussions were ….. (Ok, I cannot write about them, these are censored). A few years later, we had an office party. There comes one of our ladies from the moonlight boating trip. Of course, she had married one of my colleagues. By the way, I was also married at that time!

Looks like I am on a nostalgic trip since yesterday! Come to think of it, how many stories are hidden in the depth of our mind. Various sites give us data storage these days for free, or many times one has to buy.  But we are not even aware of our own unlimited data storage system that we have in our brain. Friends, just start recalling and have fun! That is nostalgia for you!

Climb out of that hole!

Life is full of ups and downs both in personal and professional matters. The ups give us euphoria and joy. The downs on the other side make us sad, depressed and push our mood down a hole. It is for us to come out of that hole and it is doable. First and foremost is that our downs are because of errors, or misjudgement in what we do. We make errors of judgments, maybe wrong investments leading to a major loss; maybe we take up a job which we did not like. Such events are going put us in a situation where life looks sad and cynical. 

When this happens, we tend to linger on, and we keep on blaming ourselves, flogging ourselves for the errors. “To Err is Human” is an idiom which aptly fits situations in everybody’s life. We always keep on thinking about the missed possibilities, real and imaginary. We feel that if we had done things differently, we could have been better off financially and life would have been more rewarding. If such emotions are kept unchecked, the stress level in life goes up, we are not able to think prudently and are likely to make more errors. We dig ourselves a hole and are likely to remain there. 

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Such regrets, if nursed, can lead to depression and negativity. This could lead to binge eating, and one may drink more alcohol. We may react to persons and situations impulsively rather than giving a thought before responding. There are ways of coming out of such a hole; it will bring us back to a happy, healthy and meaningful life.  

Acceptance 

It is essential to accept what has happened. You should not ignore the event nor should you keep on thinking about it all the time. Take a pause, as we count ten or we deep breathe. When we are engrossed in self-criticism, we try to find quick fixes to the problem. Instead, think about our past regrets and try to remember how we found a solution at that time.  

Give a break to your negative thinking 

Sometimes it happens that we try to come out of the negative thought process, but it just does not work. Sometimes we are not able to break the spell of sleep from our system. Cold shower wakes you up. Try something similar. I remember an incident, which took place ages back. We were in Boston in a mall. Our grandson was very unhappy that my son suggested to him that instead of buying the same toy the second time, a new toy could be purchased in another shop. Our grandson started howling and throwing tantrums. My son picked him up, and we walked out of the mall. Our grandson was not wearing warm clothes, and a cold air blast hit him. He stopped the tantrums and said, “Can I get my jacket?” He quickly ate a snack and was back to his jovial self. After that, we went to ToysRus and got him the toy he wanted. Cold water shower is not a long term solution but will provide a break that can help you think more rationally to resolve the issues.  

Be soft on yourself 

When we have made an error, we tend to be very harsh in judging ourselves and keep on blaming ourselves. If we discuss the matter with a friend or a mentor, then she will listen to you compassionately and will try to explain the way forward. Will that person keep on harping about your errors? She will encourage you to be soft to yourself. Provide some compassion to yourself. With this attitude, we try to navigate towards a positive solution. This acceptance is a good beginning, and we learn to accept our regrets as a human failure. You know that there is nothing unusual in such a failure, it happens many times with others too! 

Try to understand yourself 

After you have gone through a situation, think about what you are looking for. Don’t keep on regretting about it. I will share an incident in my career. I was 28 years of age then. I had a meeting with my boss. He was quite tough and rough. He said a few nasty things to me as I had made some errors in the work. I left his cabin and thought about the incident. I was disturbed, but when I gave thought to the whole situation, I realised that my self respect was more important to me than my job. I went and met him again. Explained to him everything yet again. I told him, “Sir if you want, I will resign and walk out. Scolding me for errors and correcting them is  your job. But I expect you to ensure that you do not repeat such nasty things with me again.” He stared at me for a minute and then said, “How about some coffee?” I could resolve my problem because I was clear in my mind what I wanted more! I felt regret because my self-respect was hurt and to me, that was more important than keeping the job!  

Act 

All the process of handling the regrets and correcting errors will work only when we finally act upon it.  

Make a list of such issues large and small, then think yourself or with your friend or your spouse, exactly how to take steps to correct whatever is troubling you. The problems do not get resolved by feeling lousy or overthinking and brooding about it. It’s thoughtfully following up the solutions that helps us. Retrospection is the key to address such situations. Our vision in retrospection is always 20:20, and we look at things with more wisdom. So retrospect with a cool mind.

Hole1

Wikipedia has defined Kintsugi as follows. 

Kintsugi (金継ぎ, “golden joinery”), also known as Kintsukuroi (金繕い, “golden repair”), is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. 

As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. 

In our lives sometimes the dreams are broken, and at other times hearts are broken. We should use Kintsugi to repair our broken dreams.  The dream could be of taking higher education, getting an elite job in government. Heartbreak is, of course, heartbreak. But we need to come out of that hole into which we crawl into after failing to achieve what we wanted. The broken dreams could be repaired, and you might end up doing business. Sometimes the seams of the stitched dreams could be visible, but it is better to come out of the situation, a bit bruised instead of remaining hidden.

Use the principle of Kinstsugi! Face the world! Let repair seams be seen. The world does not have many regrets about what has happened in your life. It is too busy in its own errors and achievements. Making errors is not something to be hidden from others. All have their own quota of mistakes, only we do not about know about them.  So just do it, openly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Timeout or Time in!

In basketball, if the coach wants to suggest something to the team or a player is to be replaced, the sign T is displayed using hands! This indicates a time out! In recent times this sign is also being used in Cricket when a player wants a review of the decision taken by the on-field umpire. In both cases, it so happens that T gives a break in the situation and concerned people get time to review.

Timeout1

I remember a situation many years back. I was with my son Sachin in Boston. Both he and his wife were young and always used to be under pressure to bring up their young son. The difference of opinion was the norm in those days, mainly due to young age. We used to have breakfast together before my son went to the office. One day, he said, “I am going to the office, won’t have my breakfast, I am in a hurry”. I had observed some difference of opinion early morning. I told him, “Ok, great! Now both of you sit here and let us have breakfast.” We had our breakfast. While chatting I suggested to him that the difference of opinion is part of life. I said, “In future what you do is in such cases, you give time out before you have your breakfast. No more discussion on the subject, take a pause. When you come back from office, you can press the restart button and start the discussion.” They both smiled and said, “Oh! By that time, we won’t even remember what we were fighting about.”

I suggested another reason for this method of resolution. I said, “Look, here in Boston winter, hardly anybody is likely to visit you for months. So, if you do not take time out, the non-event could continue for months.” That way we are lucky in India. Couples do not have time to continue fighting because a maid will come, paper walla will come, milkman will come, a vegetable vendor will come or the neighbour will come. The couples almost never get free time to fight continuously!  

Recently I was in a meeting with a customer, it was a senior level meeting where very important decisions about a project needed to be taken with stiff timelines. A vice president from customer side was present. During the discussion, it was observed that there were errors from both sides. Customer errors reached the ears of the vice president for the first time. Customer team was naturally upset and became aggressive. Age wise, I was the senior most by miles in the group. After a few minutes, when the situation looked like getting out of control, I got up and said, “Let us cool down. We are here to resolve the issues and not to find the faults!” That was my  T. The VP took it over from there. He steered the meeting in the right direction and the meeting was concluded to the satisfaction of both sides. 

But does every situation get corrected when we opt for a timeout? According to me, it does not. What are such situations? How to decide this? To me, timeout sometimes does not work out and what you need to get into is “Time In”. What is “Time In”? Ok, let me explain. 

When you are dealing with the kids, you should go for Time In, as much as possible. Once in a while, timeout is ok!  Time In means whoever is trying to “discipline” the kid should get involved with the kid. Try to help the kid to understand what is happening. When you are older and you go into an argument, you know what is happening hence you can take time out. But the child does not understand this. The child goes into tantrums, over a disagreement. The child is still growing so it understands only its own views. If the child is given time out, then it gets confused and flustered. It is wondering why the timeout has been given.

The pictures above depict what happens when we give time out to the kid. We tell the kid to sit in the designated “time out” place. It may be a chair, it may be a corner. We expect or rather hope that when the kid is made to sit there, it will learn by itself what has gone wrong and self-correct. Yes, maybe the kid will understand that something has gone wrong, there was a foul (if the kid is made to understand the foul concept). But beyond that, it is way above the maturity of the kid to fully understand and autocorrect. What the kid gets is punishment. Is punishment going to help the kid to understand the depth of the situation? 

Time-Out-Chair

Look at another picture above.  The principle of “time in” is to be considered. What is the time in? Time in means, those who are trying to correct, discipline or teach the kid should get involved in the process instead of putting the kid in isolation or punishment mode. The kid sometimes does not understand the consequences of the action taken by it. At the same times, the parents are also young and a bit immature. They are busy managing life. Timeout is an easy solution. But scenario can change when grandparents are involved. They have time on hand, have maturity and patience. 

I will share with you an incident that recently happened. My granddaughter Rhea, wanted to help me by inserting electrical pin for phone charger in the socket. She was adamant and said, “But I am helping you”. I said, “You can get a shock.” She said, “What is a shock?” Then I looked for an image on the net about electrocution; it was a caricature and not an actual image. I said this happened when you get a shock. She understood and said, “I will help you when I grow up.” If I had shouted or given her time out, she would not have understood why I am not allowing her to do it.  

In the time in, you need to give time to the kids. You need to give love to the kid. Initially, you will take some time to switch over from “Time Out” to “Time In”. While changing the method, you may take a little more time initially. But once the kid understands that you are helping it to understand the “how’s and why’s” you will get full cooperation. Patience will help the kids to understand the situation; by just saying “foul”, you are not helping the kid to understand the why! Chances of a repeat performance are quite high. Once the kid is explained the why and then there is a repeat foul, then maybe “time out” is the solution.  

toolshammer

This saying goes a long way in explaining what I am trying to say. I am talking about dealing especially with kids. Shortage of time, short length fuse, immaturity in case of young parents are the reasons why they want to use “time out” method; they think it is the only tool they have. But look at any event from the point of view of the child. Time In is the right path to take which helps the child to grow, become mature and understand what went wrong.  

I will share an example of my grandson. We were shopping in a mall in Boston and he wanted to buy an engine. The same engine was already in his stock. So, my son told him that they can buy a different engine in another shop. The grandson threw a tantrum. My son simply picked him and hugged him. We were anyway done with our shopping. As we came out of the mall, the cold wind blast brought an immediate change in the grandson. Then my son asked him, “Son, are you hungry!” He said, “Yes, I am hungry!” Orange juice did the trick. Here many things happened correctly. My son did not lose his patience, hugged the kid and checked to find out about if he was hungry. After the juice, our grandson said, “Let’s go to the other shop.”  The main reason for tantrum probably was hunger.

Are you IN or OUT?  Maybe depends!

 

To do or Not to do!

Advent of technology brings many benefits to the human race in curing illnesses, diseases and body conditions. They also help in better and improved diagnosis due to inventions like imaging technology. When modern techniques like Laser are used in surgeries, the benefits are manifold. The Laser technique uses probes to perform surgeries; this avoids the external cuts hence improves the healing process and  speed.  I know of someone, 91 years of age, who underwent a surgery, which without Laser technique may not have been possible.

But again the new techniques and technology  are used  for  certain procedures  which are not  proven or their long term effects are unknown.  There is a  procedure called Lasik. LASIK or Lasik (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), commonly referred to as laser eye surgery or laser vision correction, is a type of refractive surgery for the correction of myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. The LASIK surgery is performed by an ophthalmologists who use a laser or microkeratome to reshape the eye’s cornea in order to improve visual acuity. For most people, LASIK provides a long-lasting alternative to eyeglasses or contact lenses.

While talking to an eye surgeon, I  asked  him  his  opinion  about  Lasik.  He said that anything that is done to our  body,  against  the  nature,  can  be risky,  dangerous  and  some of the detrimental effects  may be  seen  after  a  long  period has passed.  He felt  that  this  maybe  done  for  a  specific  reason;  for  example, for joining  armed  forces  certain  eyesight  requirements  are  there. This  is  also  done  on  people  who  want  to  be  in  show  biz  like  movies,  TV.  Using eye  glasses is considered taboo for younger aspirants. But he made a valid statement. He said, ” In our city there are 13 eye surgeons who perform this surgery for sometime. Why not a single one of them has undergone Lasik? If they perform this surgery on hundreds of patients, do they not find it safe enough?”  This reminded me when I had visited an electronic item chain store called Radio Shack, in Boston with my son Sachin.  We bought a few items and went for billing. This was many years back. Their system was so slow that I said to my son, jokingly, that these guys seem to have ancient computer systems that have a speed of a bullock cart. I said this in Marathi. The person on the counter was smart enough, he understood what I had said, “Sir, upgrades are for customers, not for us!” Like  many  drugs,  these  new  procedures  will  have  side  effects  but we don’t  stop  using them.  In  fact  judicious  use  of  modern  technology  is  going  to improve  our  life style.  Laser  assisted  cataract  operations  are  the  classic examples  of  such use.

Humans  are  known  to go overboard  sometimes,  and  get  things  done  that  should  not  be  done.  These procedures maybe  essential in show  business (says who?)  but  can  cause  lethal  damage, sometimes.  Michael Jackson  and Sridevi  are  two  names  that  come  to  mind.  They  had  performed  some  procedures  over  a  period  of time  which  made  their  skin  lighter.  Both of them, originally had darker complexion. If we compare their  videos from  early  and  later  days,  you  can  distinctly  notice  the  change  in  colour  of  their  skins. Even a nondoctor like me understands that the skin colour  rarely changes  over  our  life  time. Skin colour is due to Melanin, and it is HIS gift! We cannot do much to change it!  What treatment they took, I am not aware.

But both of them had early deaths which could have been due flogging of their body to improve their skin  colour.  A well-known blogger and writer  Ratna  Rajaiah  had written an interesting blog  about  skin  colour. As we are all aware that the South Indians normally have dark skins. She mentioned that in Southern India, during growing phase of girls, there is an advice given to her to “Talc Yourself”; just finished your bath, talc yourself. Going out, talc yourself, have done nothing for some time, talc yourself. She mentioned that “talc oneself” is an obsession in South Indian ladies. The weather conditions are very humid and add to that the colour of skin, this leads to excessive use of talcum powder. It has been a human thought process since thousands of years, that anybody who is good, is fair skinned and those who are bad have always been dark skinned. This old thinking prevails and people want to be “Gora”, fair skinned.

This obsession has led to people taking treatments for the skin “improvement”. They should have asked their surgeon if anyone from surgeon’s family was given this treatment. Maybe all these doctors were Caucasians! Another thing people want to control is their body shape. It is well proven over thousands of years what is good and what is bad for our body. But still people go out of their way to control weights and in case of women their figure, the so called 36-24-36-hour glass figure. Controlling weight is good but good idea is to eat sensible things and exercise regularly. People don’t do these things and then want to do crash diet, follow severe work out regimens.

Another thing that ladies do, is to control body to “Zero Figure”. Honestly, I do not know the real meaning of this. But the girls who are in modelling and advertising, try to achieve Zero figure. For what? God has made woman’s body keeping in mind child bearing capabilities. Procreation is the most important aspect of human life which keeps continuity. HE has given the right size, shape and contours to take care of child bearing. Ok, you don’t want a child but HE is not going change design only for you. By making such drastic changes in your body, you are inviting trouble. I hear that some these girls have bulimia. Bulimia is an emotional disorder characterized by a distorted body image and an obsessive desire to lose weight, in which bouts of extreme overeating are followed by fasting or self-induced vomiting or purging. Princess Diana had bulimia!

As usual the questions arise why, why and  why?

Friends I shared with you some things  where  doctors  do  some  procedure  on  patients  but  will  never  do  it  on  themselves.  People in show business get somethings done, but these  are  basically  against  nature.  Some people follow regimen which  are  against  HIS design.  So  is  your  career  so  important?  Is looking beautiful so important  even  if  the  risks  are  known?  Is bulimia accepted? Why not try a different profession? There are enough choices in life, choose the right one, choose the path which does not go against the nature. To me at least, health is more important than the so called successful career.

Bring Back the Woman Power!

I read a story about a couple who were entering a garden after their lunch, in Malaysia. They were Caucasians. Vendors at the gate offered to sell them peanuts. Couple said they were full, thank you! But the vendor said that the peanuts were for monkeys that are there in the Garden. Couple bought a few pouches. They started their stroll and saw a group of monkeys. When they saw the monkeys, they were happy that they can feed peanuts. When the group was about ten feet away, a monkey jumped very swiftly, pinched a couple of pouches from them. Couple was a bit scared, woman had a minor scratch on her hand. Man was disgusted, felt offended and was boiling. How can the monkey pinch the peanuts from their hands which they had bought for monkeys? It was so much against the normal way of life of the couple!

We humans are so naïve that we think only about orderly way of life, especially westerners, they generally have a much more disciplined society and such occurrences are almost unheard of, except for one minor detail. The other party was a monkey. I am 100% sure that even in Asian countries humans will be as disciplined as in western hemisphere. Our friend wanted to take revenge, he was mentally prepared and they moved further. Another ten minutes, they saw another group of monkeys. Monkeys in that Garden must be used to pinching from humans. Twenty feet away from the group, our friend was ready and as soon the monkey started towards him, he started shouting loudly and made some menacing actions, bared his teeth. Monkey was surprised, he stopped, almost gave him a smile and walked away. Our friend was elated and almost made a victory dance! His primal instincts still intact and kicking.

He simply forgot that this is nature. The law of nature is fight or flight! In the first case our friend used the flight mode and in second case the monkey. It was no big deal for monkey, I am sure. It is us humans who have created many rules, laws of social behavior, egos and have gone away from nature. I am sure that in second case monkey was not fuming and upset like our friend. If opponent is strong, take a step back. Simple! Humans are engrossed in their own lives, as they are today, we obviously don’t remember how life was about 100 centuries back i.e. 10000 years ago. How was the human society then? What made it change over a period and took shape of “organized” society with rules and regulations and discipline!

In those times and before, there was no agriculture, no organized living. Humans were a nomadic, foraging animals like other species. Things really started to change when human race started agriculture. For agriculture humans had to stay at one place, sow the seeds and cultivate the crop. This led to the concept of ownership. So and so land belongs to person A, land on the other side of that hill belongs to person B and so on. Then ownership became single, co ownership, joint ownership and different ways of handling the situation.

Before this period everything was shared. A group of people would live together but groups were quite scattered. Hunt, gather berries, firewood and later cook, share and eat food together. At night, they probably slept in a huddle for the safety of the group, safety from other species not humans. Man and woman shared ALL the responsibilities. Except of course bearing the child! There was no concept of family, only man and woman. They had different sex partners, I am sure there must have been some laws for this but since nobody owned anything, there was no need to prove paternity of the child born. Child was owned by the mother. I am sure the group of humans in those days had predominantly matriarchal rules. All of us read stories that even today in certain tribal areas in deep jungles, women give birth to the child, clean the things and start moving out to collect food and wood for fire! An unheard of concept in modern world.

In fact woman must have been considered stronger than man for her additional ability to bear children. Agriculture and ownership changed all these concepts on head! People started defining boundaries, then everything was “mine”. Lake, canal, hut, crop, wife, children. Probably this was the beginning of nuclear family as we know today. Pre farming, it was a group of humans sharing everything equally including food and relationships between man and woman. I am sure there must have been occasional fights but survival was more important hence probably they adopted to “shared” way of life. During all these changes one important but unfortunate development took place; woman’s importance in the society reduced, she was confined to home, child bearing and cooking.

We get used to things so quickly and fast that we forget things were quite different, only some years back. Look at internet, where was internet 20 years back? Can we do without it? Look at cars, in last 100 plus years our method of personal transportation has changed so much that we can’t imagine that everybody used to travel in carts! Look at the global travel, advent of Jet planes has totally changed the concept of our travel. With supersonic jets we can be from London to New York in three hours. The list will go on and on!

Coming to my original story, we are all so much used to be away from nature that we are not able to understand the laws of nature. We go for a picnic in hills but we are so busy clicking photos that we forget why we have gone there. We forget so much that sometimes people die while clicking selfies instead of enjoying nature! Once while I was in Boston with my son, I saw some homes which were 150 years old. I was just wondering how they must been living in those times without proper insulation and heating in Boston winter! Today we go to Mumbai in the afternoon and attend to something and come back in the evening to Pune, thanks to modern cars and expressway. But even 25 years back it would take hours!

Let us not forget the laws of nature where men and women were not only considered equal but they were equal. 10000 years in our earth’s history is equivalent of day before yesterday! The changes made day before yesterday can always be modified or changed. This recent thought process came by forming new laws, new rules and norms.  During last fifty years the correction in giving importance to improving status of women is happening. My thinking is that if a woman could handle herself 10000 years back in primitive conditions, she will be able to do much better in today’s environs and backing of the society. Making some positive rules to help women in handling the way their bodies are made, their tough times during child bearing is a must by the society which has made rules to ensure that they remained home bound! Women need empathy not sympathy! So let’s go back to situation of 10000 years ago where women were equal, with advantages of 21st century! I won’t be surprised if we read every day, in coming years,  that a woman climbed the Mount Everest, which anyway she does in different fields in spite of obstacles!