The mind games!

We all talk of mind, but I was thinking about what the mind isThe mind is the element of a person that enables him to be aware of the world and the experiences, to remember, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought. The word mind, however, can be used in many ways. First is let me mind my own business. My husband will mind the children while I go to the parlour. Oh! He has a keen mind! That writer’s name slips my mind. He was one of the greatest minds of his time. I expect all the students to put their mind on the project they are handling. I don’t mind saying that I have some apprehension.  

The examples could go on and on, but let me put my mind to do what I am trying to do in the first place.  

When I wanted to write on this subject, I started pondering and was thinking carefully. Wherefrom do the thoughts come? How does the three-pound mass of grey matter that is my brain give rise to the felt experience of sensations and thoughts? It sometimes seems virtually inconceivable that the simple thought processes could give rise to the valuable thoughts of consciousness.  It can be called the MindBody problem. 

If we can separate the mind from consciousness, we can get a better perspective. What is the relationship between mind and consciousness?  To see how we can consider the separation of the information from the actual nervous system itself, think of a book. The book’s mass, its temperature, and other physical dimensions can be considered as roughly akin to the brain. Then think about the information content (i.e., the story the book tells or claims it makes). The consciousness is the information created in and processed by the nervous system. 

To me, if you want to understand something, you need to build it your self for example, the book. You can create, print and bind the book. But can you not create print and build information in the book! No, you can’t!  

Consider RSS as an organisation. Forget about its political affiliations. The organisation has been existing for several decades and works with utmost discipline. Whenever there is calamity anywhere in India, their volunteers rush to that location, leaving aside whatever they are doing in their routine life. RSS supports them on logistics aspects, but these volunteers always put their mind above everything else and just travel where their help is needed. These people are like you and me. But they have trained themselves, or their organisation has taught them to overcome the day to day hurdles for supporting people in distress. Their mind and body are very similar to all others, but the mind processes their consciousness differently. 

Today we had our half-yearly get-together of COEP batch mates. I have observed over the period that people’s thinking changes, maybe with age. We have this lunch and annual get-together every year. July/ August half-yearly and Jan/Feb yearly get-together. Since we are all in the seventies, I can understand the difficulties faced by friends during night driving. Hence, we usually have lunch. Whenever we fix the venue, there is a discussion! Oh, it’s so far! My question is so far from what? For annual function, people living in foreign countries try to adjust their travels in such a way that they can attend. Others travel from Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai. People come from Nasik and Goa. But sometimes those in  Pune are unhappy with the distance of the venue. People’s enthusiasm reduces with time due to ill health or many times as their mind behaves in such a way that they don’t feel the urge to meet old friends.  

10thAugustPoonaClub

Two of them, Ravi and Nitin, showed exceptional urge and keenness to join the festivities yesterday. They had prior commitments in Mumbai and Pune. But at the last moment, both realised that they were getting free of their obligations. Both immediately called me and said, “Hey, Pramod! I am telling you at the last moment, but I hope it is ok if I join!” I said, “Buddy, of course, you are welcome!” They both had the urge to meet old friends. They made it, and all of us were very happyFrom the “Oh! It’s so far gang”, one of them lived only a couple of km from the venue. I reminded him a couple of times. He said that he would confirm and did not make it.  He had never talked about prior commitments.

At this stage in life, nobody is seriously busy. Why people refrain from attending such functions is a big mystery to meIn a strange incident, last year, a friend did not join the annual function but came to pick up another friend at the end of the function! I know what he was doing before on that day. To memeeting with friends always overrides any other social commitmentBut that probably is life!  

Is it that the more evolved human brain plays part in mind games? Other species with the less developed brain may not make different decisions for the same situation, at different times, depending on the state of mind at that juncture. The state of mind, at any stage, could be a function of current circumstances, recent experiences, which could include health or family circumstances.  

Let me share with you my personal experience. At the end of 2013, I had undergone treatment for cancer. It included immunotherapy and 34 sittings of radiations. I am lucky to be the way I am made. Carcinoma did not put me in a negative frame of mind. Not that I was enjoying the treatment, but my mind had accepted it as a fact of life, and I moved on. Since my treatment was in the throat area, I had restrictions on speaking. In those days, when friends came to meet me, they would pull my leg by saying that finally, something made Pramod stop talking all the time. I could laugh with them on the joke. The councillor at the Ruby Hall clinic told me during the discussion that I may not need any counselling as I was in a positive frame of mind. Why was my mind positive? I do not know.  

I was talking of extremcircumstances like cancer treatment. But why do people have negativity in routine life? Why people avoid meeting friends? Some friends live right opposite restaurants where we meet for our monthly breakfast. But these people do not come and join the fun in spite of repeated requests. 

Friends do you have any suggestion on how to encourage such people? Not everybody is expected to attend every meeting, but why not attend once in six months?  I don’t know; I don’t have an answer. When we have no answer, blame it on DNA! 

 

 

 

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How do we believe the untruth?

 

lie1To lie is a false statement deliberately presented as being correct, a falsehood. I have taken this meaning of the transitive verb “lie”, not about the physical position as in lying down. During our life, everybody lies at some stage or the other. We makeup stories and defend them tooth and nail. We do this because our brain is quirky and works differently, conveniently to suit the situation. Lying is a reaction of our brain to an event. Consider an event where our hand or fingers touch something scorching hot, unknowingly. The signal goes to our brain, it is processed, and another message is sent to our hand, to remove the hand immediately. During this process, there is no jumbling in understanding. There is a tightly coupled linear relationship between cause and effect. In this case, there are not many variables; hence, the result is clear cut.

But things are never in black and white; these are mainly shades of grey. These grey shades are what confuse us, and we end up not telling the truth, or we lie. Not thinking about the fact is not necessarily lying. There are reasons why we lie. These can be for some benefit, to avoid a tricky situation, to mask our errors, and so on. Sometimes the conclusion is drawn which are suitable for someone.  But sometimes the reasons can be funny.

Years back when my son Sachin was doing engineering, our daughter Priya was in kindergarten school. Sachin would share some anecdotes during our dinner. The moment he finished his story, Priya would start telling some fantastic tale. All of us would sincerely listen to her, but in the end, she used to be very happy. Her reason for such a story was to take part in the conversation, be part of it.  She was not lying for any benefit but just to be involved.

Deepak had gone to Delhi for the first time, enjoyed the crowds, the food and the sights. At the end of the day when he reached the hotel, he realised that he had lost his wallet. The story was used in a group to discuss people’s behaviour. People were told this story as an exercise. In this story, the cause and effect are not so obvious and are vague. The vagueness creates a different thought process and opinions from people. No background about Deepak was shared with the group.

The people from the group were asked to recall the most important word from the sentence about Deepak’s day in Delhi. The most recalled word was “Pickpocket”. Based on this word, there was a lot of discussion about the crime in Delhi, how the situation is going out of hand. There were suggestions galore as to how to help move around safely in Delhi. The beauty was the word “Pickpocket” was never used in the sentence, and the critical word was “Sights”! It was about Deepak viewing the sights of Delhi and not about his losing the wallet.

During the evolution of our brain, there appears to be a bug formed. When there is vagueness in cause and effect, we tend to create our own stories, each one to his imagination. Do we try to create a plausible reason for what could have happened instead of asking the narrator how Deepak lost his wallet? Deepak’s wallet was missing could be explained differently is what we forget. Deepak could have forgotten his wallet in a restaurant or a store where he purchased some colas. Deepak could have accidentally dropped his wallet while using washroom somewhere. There are so many possibilities, but most people thought about a Pickpocket. Why is that so?

When the group was explained these possibilities, most were upset. Their ego was hurting. You have a particular thought process about various places, pre-set notions. Delhi connects with the crime, Pune connects (or at least used to) with retired people and so on. So people go by the easiest and the simple story that comes to mind. When questioned about logic, people don’t like it; they become uncomfortable. Since this was a group meeting, people got restless, they went on persisting about their theory. They wanted to stick their guns. In Delhi, how else could a wallet be missing? It must have been stolen. The voices were raised, egos came into the picture.  All this happened due to the evolution bug in our brains.

I will share my personal example. I wear goggles these days but do not wear them when I am required to drive. The goggles are not suitable to correct my eyesight. I was getting ready to go to the gym and started looking for the case. I walk to the gym. The case was missing from the regular place. I rechecked my sack. I emptied the stuff, but it was not there. I was trying to recollect if I had misplaced them during my travel to Mumbai last week. We had a driver; hence, I had taken the goggles with me. I retraced the whole journey. I took Jaya’s suggestion. We rechecked a bag we had taken during the travel. Nada. For a change, I kept my ego aside and told Jaya that I might have forgotten the same in our car! When I checked the vehicle, the goggles were there.

Why did original thinking take place? First and foremost, how can Pramod forget the glasses in the car, he is such a tidy person. So I thought about so many other plausible things to justify my thinking.

There is another method of spreading a discrete lie. My friend and I were in a professional meeting. During tea-break, a subject came up about the Managing Director of another company. My friend made a casual remark that he was the classmate of the MD. One more person in the group also happened to be the classmate of the MD. He said, “How come we never met before if we were in the same class?” Our friend was NOT the classmate of MD in COEP but in junior college. Our friend had a unique style of lying discretely about his qualifications. He had done his BSc. He also had another habit. He was very handsome and had a mature personality. In the later phase of his career, people started calling him Dr So and so! He never told anyone, ever, that he was not a PhD!

All this tells us one principle. Next time when you are not able to justify your explanation about your story or analysis of the situation, use Ctrl+Alt+Delete key in your mind. The action will hopefully push your ego away and reset the position. Make a new start; think again, try to take the direction to the truth. That is what your aim was, and you had made an error in the first place.

Who has time for Snails and Tortoises?

The other day, near my home I met a young friend of mine, he is in early 40’s. We decided to have Cuppa, in current lingo it is called Cutting Chai. We went to a shack, nothing fancy! In Marathi, we call it टपरी. We ordered our tea, I prefer Sugar free. That was a special order for them. They took a bit of time to bring it. My friend was so uneasy, he asked them three times in five minutes about the delay. I thought maybe he has to go somewhere urgently. I suggested that I skip my tea because of the delay and he was in a hurry. He said that he was not in a hurry; at the same time, he looked at something on his cell phone, a few times. Then I realized that his and later generations have speeded up the clock in their brains as a necessity and also because too much data comes in their direction, too much info due to 24-hour connectivity! Processing has to be done fast.

We already have a lot of slow things around in our lives which make us crazy. Slow internet speeds, slow drivers, slow check-out counter lines. Some of you must have already said, hey Pramod! Say whatever you want to, quickly.

I started wondering why is this happening? Why everybody is in a rush? Human societies were smaller to start with, one went maybe a several hundred meters to  work, hunting! Later when the farming started, the communities settled a little far from each other, perimeter of people’s movement increased and distances to travel became more, leading to the start of formation of a modern civilization. The speeds of action and reaction were reasonably slow even during the last century. But things really changed in the last 20 years. During my younger days, there was snail mail carried by the government postal department, there were trunk calls, as long-distance calls were called then. Time was as good as at a standstill in those days, compared to today.

The clock in our brain, that I have talked about, is not a normal counter. Its speed is dependent on how excited we are, how much Adrenalin is flowing in our body, and if we are in fight or flight mode! If we are in any other mode than the normal mode, then the time passes either very slowly or very fast. Consider that you are involved in an accident and you are lucky to escape with a minor injury. The event gets over in say, half hour, our brain might feel that much longer time has passed. You will see that event in slow motion. In April this year, Jaya and I went on a “do nothing” holiday at Manali. We were there for eight days. We had great fun doing nothing. We just sat in the garden soaking in the lovely Sun and absorbing the beautiful snow-capped mountains. We used to eat, sleep, chat, I blogged and Jaya read. We played cards and on one pre-defined day, we went for a spin in a taxi. It was raining hard and the taxi driver asked what will we do during the trip, and getting down from the car was almost impossible. I said, “Don’t worry we have come here to do nothing!” He was surprised. Eight days passed like a zip! Had we been in some difficulty, the eight days would have felt like eight weeks!

Some things which we found efficient in our times are considered extremely slow today. Patience is a virtue which has been vanquished in the Twitter age. Why are we impatient? It’s a heritage from our evolution. Impatience made sure that we didn’t die from spending too long a time, on a single unrewarding activity. It gave us the impulse to act. But that fun of about things moving slowly, has gone. We always want to go for white water rafting, fishing is out of fashion!

The fast pace of society has thrown our internal timer out of balance. It creates expectations that can’t be rewarded fast enough—or rewarded at all. When things move more slowly than we expect, our internal timer plays tricks on us, stretching out the wait, summoning anger out of proportion to the delay.

You send a WhatsApp message to someone and get two blue tick marks, indicating that it has been read. If it is very important, you will look at WA every few seconds to check if you have received a reply. You forget that person could be busy, the person may have gone to the washroom. The person could have just started a presentation after looking at the message.

The link between time and emotion is a complex one. A lot is dependent on expectation—if we expect something to take time then we can accept it. Frustration is often a consequence of expectations being violated. We make the wrong expectations and then feel that we are being cheated by the system.

Society continues to pick up speed. There is information that tells us that the speed of human movement from pre-modern times to now, has increased by a factor of 100. The speed of communications has skyrocketed by a factor of 10 million in the 20th century, and data transmission has soared by a factor of around 10 billion. A study was done in Vienna and Newyork of time taken by people to walk about 20 meters. In Vienna, it was 15 seconds and in Newyork, it was 13 seconds. This survey was done about 30 years back, now the timing must have further reduced. Worldwide walking speed has gone down by 10 to 15%, especially in cities.

One study has shown that exposing people to “the ultimate symbols of impatience culture”—fast-food symbols like McDonald’s golden arches—increases their reading speed and preference for time-saving products, and makes them more likely to opt for small rewards now over larger ones at a later stage.

Our rejection of slowness is especially apparent when it comes to technology. Everything is so efficient these days that we lose our patience very quickly. We now practically insist that Web pages should load in a quarter of a second when we had no problem with two seconds in 2009 and four seconds in 2006. Further research says that as of 2012, videos that didn’t load in two seconds had little hope of going viral on the internet.

Of course, we’re not going to die if a website doesn’t load immediately. But in what we were used to from our olden past—when we could starve if impatience didn’t spur us to act—we get the feeling that if a website does not load in time, we may die! Is it good for humans? The jury is still out.

We had planned to go out and have  dinner at a restaurant near our home. An old friend had come to meet us after a long time. We decided to walk the distance of one km to the restaurant. We went at a leisurely pace enjoying my friends’ funny anecdotes, old stories from school days. We both really enjoyed our languid walk to the restaurant. On reaching the restaurant, I became my original self, worried about waiter not serving the soup on time, not bringing a replacement for wrongly served chicken, quickly. Why the change? We are so much used to “fast” and “instant” things that maybe we have forgotten the art of taking things easy and whiling away time in a leisurely fashion! Don’t be surprised to hear a story from one of the doctors that a couple wanted their baby to be born in one month! Jaldi, Jaldi!

Don’t be anxious about anxiety!

Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. The first day of school, going to a job interview, or giving a speech may cause most people to feel fearful and nervous. There is a difference between anxiety and anxiety disorder. Getting anxious is natural in humans and getting anxiety disorder is also not uncommon. But mind you, the disorder is a disease whereas anxiety is a natural thing. Anxiety is a natural response of our mind to the situations we are in! In life, we do not have much control over a lot of things that are happening around you. In such conditions, we have apprehensions which get converted into anxiety. The chart below shows the difference between anxiety and anxiety disorder.

Anxiety-vs-Anxiety-Disorders-Infographic

What are the causes of anxiety disorder? Most of us can handle day to day anxieties regularly. In fact, some of us excel when under stress. Stress and anxiety have a correlation with each other. From sports field typical example is of Virat Kohli. His game blossoms when there is stress, like chasing a large score in a one-day match. He is one of those rare sportsmen who takes anxiety or stress in stride and in fact does better under such conditions. Let us not forget that all of us can do this but we need to train ourselves mentally and should be willing to take challenges!

In primitive ages, human life was always full of anxiety. Gathering food every day, looking for water every day (due to lack of big storage systems), gathering twigs for fire, saving oneself from natures vagaries. On top of that saving yourself from wild beasts, and the worst enemy was sickness or injury. Medical science was so primitive in those days, that getting well from sickness and injuries was a big anxiety! In today’s life, these basic things don’t cause anxiety but probably each era has its own anxieties. Now we can still have anxiety about health because some of us may not have money for treatment. Latest no. 1 anxiety point today is the temporary non-availability of internet connection or not having your cell phone near you! Anxieties will be there, it is how we handle them is going to be the key!

Our main endeavour should be to handle day to day anxiety and to know when we have an anxiety disorder and how to handle it.

In the case of an anxiety disorder, the feeling of fear may be with you all the time. It is intense and sometimes debilitating. This type of anxiety may cause you to stop doing things you enjoy. In extreme cases, it may prevent you from entering an elevator, crossing the street, or even leaving your home. If left untreated, the anxiety will keep getting worse. Anxiety disorders are the most common form of emotional disorder and can affect anyone at any age. According to the American Psychiatric Association, women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

What are the causes of anxiety disorder?

As with many mental health conditions, the cause of generalized anxiety disorder similarly arises from a complex interaction of biological and environmental factors, which may include:

  • Differences in brain chemistry and function
  • Genetics
  • Differences in the way threats are perceived
  • Development and personality

The treatment on anxiety disorder is  too vast a subject to be discussed here. So in brief anxiety disorders can be treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. Some people who have a mild anxiety disorder, or a fear of something they can easily avoid, decide to live with the condition and do not seek treatment.

It’s important to understand that anxiety disorders can be treated, even in severe cases. Although anxiety usually doesn’t go away, you can learn to manage it and live a happy, healthy life.

Day to day anxiety

This is already explained above, humans can find their own way of overcoming it and in fact, there are ways to handle this to our advantage. We need to understand what anxiety is.

Anxiety is a Body Signal

Anxiety is a signal sent by our body to our mind and brain. We need not like the experience of anxiety. In fact, our body generates this signal so that we will pay attention to the issue in hand so that we can stop that issue from getting out of hand. It is like a baby crying when the baby needs milk or needs a change of diaper. It is like a patient in the hospital ringing the bell for the nurse. Once we start looking for a solution and start working on it, the anxiety level starts reducing simultaneously.

Never let anxieties accumulate

Treat anxiety like a water storage and its management. Rainfall brings the water to the rivers and we build dams to store water which is later used after the rains stop. At the same time, we can use the stored water and send it to areas which don’t have sufficient rainfall, using canals. If the stored water in dams is not released on time, then the pressure will build up due to excess water, the dam can break. Stored up anxieties do exactly the same thing. We can collapse if our anxiety level crosses a limit, which again depends on the individual!

Put anxiety to good use

In cricket parlance, if a batsman is good then he can utilize the fast bowler’s speed to good use. If he connects the ball well in the right direction, the fielder will have no chance of stopping the hit, because the batsman has taken the advantage of bowler’s speed. Another thing anxiety does, is to release adrenaline in our body. When used well, adrenaline can help us to perform the same job even better and more efficiently.

Treat anxiety as your friend

If you treat anxiety as a friend, you will be able to focus better and will have more energy, even if you are tired. Anxiety keeps us on our toes and makes us a pay attention to issues on hand.

What are natural remedies for anxiety?

Lifestyle changes can be an effective way to relieve some of the stress and anxiety you may cope with every day. Most of the natural “remedies” consist of caring for your body, participating in healthy activities, and eliminating unhealthy ones.

These include:

  • getting enough sleep
  • meditating
  • staying active and exercising
  • eating a healthy diet
  • staying active and working out
  • avoiding alcohol
  • avoiding caffeine
  • quitting smoking cigarettes

I will share with you an anxiety story. My colleague, Deepti who was handling all technical aspects in my software business, has now been handling the India operations of a US based company since last 4 months. This was a major change in her life, as when we were colleagues the buck stopped with me. Now it stops with her! I am  sure she has gone through a major anxiety spell but I am also sure that she will manage to overcome these anxieties and handle the show confidently in future, once she starts accepting  these anxieties as day to day anxieties, and, this is important, with support from her family and friends! !

Friends, anxiety is a thing with which all of us live! Whether to make anxiety our friend or foe is in our hands! Cheers!

Don’t Break the Flyovers!

Our personal life and life around us has many things in common. In both cases, issues crop up, they are studied, they are discussed, and decisions are made. In retrospect, we realise that better choices could have been made, more elegant solutions could have been found. As the saying goes, the hindsight vision is always 20/20! Had we been able to make decisions closer to 20/20, things could have been better! Mistakes happen in both public and personal life. The result is complications and stress. This thought gave me an idea of comparing these two aspects together.

COEPFlyover

In Pune’s newspaper, I saw a photograph of the perpetual traffic jam on the flyover system near COEP. The city planners built an elaborate system of flyovers to overcome the traffic snarls in that area. I have read somewhere that by making flyovers, planners tend to push the traffic snarls into the next traffic junction where we have traffic signals. But in this case, something else happened; just after the flyovers, there are traffic signals, and the traffic gets choked there itself, even after flyovers were commissioned, not much has changed. At the next junction, which is signal free, there are no traffic snarls.

Life is always in WIP (work in progress) mode. It means that at every stage we keep on processing information that reaches our brain. We, of course, know that our brain is the world’s most advanced and fastest Super Computer. All new data is processed, churning takes place, information is sent back and forth to the stored database/ information in the brain. The result is arrived at, on the basis this churning and processing. The exchange happens so many times during the day that we tend to make decisions, but we process results based on priorities. Sometimes our priorities clash that results in issues.  Humans tend to push the specific problems under the rug or come up with a temporary solution. These solutions are reached, based on the analysis of the available data, to solve the questions based on the current situation. Most of the times, humans don’t consider long term view, and this action sometimes creates problems, slater.

Did you observe any similarity in the above two paragraphs? Indeed, there is a similarity, and we tend to put issues on the back burner, we sometimes ignore problems. City-related matters are handled by humans,  in a very similar way. Ignoring problems affects a large number of people in society. But in our case, incorrect resolutions affect personal lives directly. What needs to be done in such instances? For any issue or a problem, the overall solution needs to be considered and not a short-term solution.

 MumbaiPuneHway

I have displayed a google map of the area in Pune, where there are traffic snarls after new flyover system came up!  The Red circle indicates the snarl area. If we consider the traffic is arriving from 4 to 1, we will know the real problem. The new flyover system helps people to cross the railway line in the problem area. All four points do the same thing. But point 1 has been closed for this crossing long time back. Location 3 has been closed recently. Point 2 and four help in crossing the railway line, but these crossings pass through narrow or congested roads. In the last few years, besides traffic from 4 to 1 coming in the red circle, traffic has been pouring in through the new highway, from the airport, parallel to the river. All this indicates that problem definition and solution did not go hand in hand. Huge traffic volume comes to the red circle area. The answer should have been not to bring traffic to snarl area and divert it via different routes. But the studies were not proper, and hence answers were incorrect. What is the answer? I don’t know. In Mumbai, some such issue about a flyover was resolved by breaking a special flyover to be replaced by another one, which fixed the issue. We have a similar problem in Pune University circle area. In the University circle area, one could see from the beginning, that solution was not correct. On top of the wrong decisions, judgement about future traffic density was also grossly underestimated. The result, the same. In peak hours, a group of policemen is required to handle the traffic chaos manually!

In our lives, we also misjudge many things. Sometimes, we make the wrong investments. Sometimes we underestimate our future requirements at home as well as finances. Sometimes, we do not take decisions and let the problems linger. I have seen this happening in people about their health. They try to ignore issues or postpone the checkups. A friend I met after many years, told me that he is afraid to get himself regularly checked up by doctors. I asked him the reason. He said, ” I am afraid that some health issue may get detected”. I said that is the reason for getting yourself checked.

In the public domain, if we make a wrong decision, we can find different solutions, including from above example, break the flyover and build a new one. Such solution creates inconvenience and costs a lot of money. No individual is directly troubled with this solution. But in our case, family and we are the direct sufferers. Wrong career moves, wrong investment decisions, involvement with the wrong type of people, are described as errors or wrong choices, in retrospection.  But they take their toll!

Friends, try and learn the art of visualising things about the future while taking life’s decisions. We have enough information stored in our brain, learn to utilise it correctly while we decide something. When we have to make significant decisions in life, sleep over it before making the final decision, ask friends and mentors. Don’t feel shy to seek advise. Ultimately, it’s your life!

Ignore body signals at your own peril!

Medical Illiteracy or Ignore body signals at your own peril! I was in two minds about the title for this blog. But the second option prevailed.

Not all of us are doctors by training and not all of us could have access to basic medical information, at least, during pre-internet days! It’s a highly specialized field. But in our day to day life health conditions keep on changing, as you grow older. Some changes can be discrete and some may be obvious. In our own and families interest, we should take care of having basic information and knowledge and decodify the signals our body sends.

Since this is a current ongoing medical event, I am not sharing the names, as I usually do! Yesterday, in my office I was talking to my colleague. Suddenly she said let me make an urgent call. She called and as the call progressed she sounded quite worried and anguished. After the call I asked her what happened? Her brother was not keeping well for ¾ days and she had called to find out how he was doing! She came to know all the details only after the call. He felt weak in the office; since he is diabetic and with BP issues, he asked his colleague to fetch a chocolate for him, to overcome low sugar issue, if any! He felt slightly better but decided to go home as he was uncomfortable. When he tried to use his scooter, he could not use his left hand properly; he felt very low strength in his left hand. Next day he saw a doctor who gave him some medicines and asked him to run tests. Sunday, he saw an eye specialist as he was feeling unease in the left eye!  The doctor indicated some distortion around the left eye. All signals were obvious but our friend probably lacked knowledge about the effects. I immediately coordinated an appointment with a neurologist. In next two hours he was hospitalized in a CCU. I shudder to think if my colleague had not made that call!

I will share many more such events but this particular event has made me very uneasy. It is just by chance, that I overheard a conversation and then got the wheels moving fast! There were specific indications, the person or his family did not understand the details of what was happening but can they also not understand that there was something going wrong with the body. How to inculcate this discipline in the whole family? These things are never taught in schools but these need to be picked up from someone or somewhere. A human being generally does not have detailed knowledge of most subjects other than his own subject. But health is one area which is common to all humans whether they are kings or paupers! I feel that this learning be made mandatory in school curriculum, so that people come to know basic symptoms regarding the emergency events, like heart attack, stroke and others.

In olden days there was the system of GP or general practitioners. GP’s were family friends, advisors, mentors for the whole family. I have known of GP’s who have treated four generations from families. For anything and everything related to health and not related to health too, the families would take advise of GP’s. So, they knew  most of the things about people in the family. If required, GP’s would ask the people to go to experts. In today’s times of no GP’s, I feel that a family should be going to a fixed physician and do things as per his/her advice and suggestions. Since our friend did not have “GP”, the doctors whom he saw, could not guide him properly.

It can be a good idea to guide people into basics of health management and emergency management. Basic training about patient resuscitation is one aspect but such emergencies don’t come so frequently. More than that, knowledge about basic symptoms is most essential. This will reduce time between symptoms and start of treatment. My friend Shashi has a history of stroke. A few months back when he had very high fever and felt faint, he immediately got himself checked from experts. This gave him peace of mind.

I will share one event with you to explain what I mean by lack of basic knowledge in other areas. A professor of arts with a doctorate, drove his car for two days. You will ask me what is so special about it? One of the tappets in the engine had broken and he drove the car with a lot of noise. To understand this, he did not need to know that tappet was broken but he only needed to understand that something was broken and was making loud noise. So, he should not drive the car! Period. But no! He drove on for two days accompanied by big noise! Is it so difficult to comprehend that there was something wrong with the car and not what is wrong with the car?

Two things generally happen. One is signals are simply not understood and sometimes signals are ignored. Our friend did not understand the gravity of the signals, the body was sending. However, I will tell you of someone, a few years elder than me. He apparently had good health, outwardly. He used to go to gym regularly. One day he went out, after  he came back he said that he was a bit tired and would rest for 15 min. 10 minutes later, he was dead due to cardiac arrest. He was diabetic but values were controlled. He was going to the gym regularly. Then why did this happen? When his papers were checked, the values were never good; he was informing his son, who lives abroad,  that everything was ok. He went to the gym every day; he always drove the 500 meters distance! Did minor exercise and chatted with friends, tea, have fried stuff and smoking followed. What he did was not accepting the true body condition, which further deteriorated with wrong food and smoking.

Let me assure you that our body and brain are very sharp in understanding the signals that are generated in our eco system. In young age we start knowing who our parents are, in adulthood we catch the right love signals. As we grow older, we know how to find better opportunities in jobs and in business. All this is done by capturing the signals, the indications that are emanating in our surroundings. But why can’t we catch our body signals which tell about our health? In life we master various things without formal training. Then why we cannot do it about our own health? Is it due to thought process that Cancer, Heart Attack, Strokes happen to someone else? Sudden deaths occur mostly in accidents, most other deaths  are because of ignoring the signal system created by HIM! So please keep track of these signals, it may be twitching of an eye, shaking of hand while holding a glass, heaviness in body especially on only one side, sudden sweating and so on. But at least “create” for yourself a GP system and take his/her advise as we grow 40 plus!

Cheers! Life is too beautiful to be wasted by ignoring signals from the world’s best design, “Our Body”!

Heart or Brain?

Many a times, humans take decisions in a way that it becomes difficult for others to fathom. Sometimes the brain is required to take precedence over heart and other times heart is supposed to take precedence over brain. In love, about family and friends, heart should take precedence over brain; emotions do overcome brain in these cases but in other cases it should be the reverse. But this sometimes does not happen.

Recently a term has been coined “Post Truth”

Post-truth relies solely on personal beliefs and ignores any facts that may conflict with those personal beliefs.

Initially, humans lived in small groups, with evolution many things changed. This included communication, travel, language and many other things. When small groups were not connected, most of the decisions taken were based on personal beliefs because knowledge acquired by other groups could hardly be known as inter group communications were either non-existent or were very poor and not wide spread. Human race has evolved over a period especially about communications.

In modern world, the knowledge and information gets spread so fast that we can know many things, if we want to. This gave the opportunity to know how people behave in different ways for same situations. Also many facts and figures became easily available. With this change, migration also increased. Initially people looked at migration as globalization; effect of globalization was assimilation of global population with different skills, to manufacture stuff/provide services from anywhere in the world at the lowest possible cost. Globalization did spread with the advent of knowledge and information and better communication. It had its great effects, initially. Second “industrial revolution” was even faster and more wide spread. This “industrial revolution” was digitalization and computerization of our world. Its effect has been to democratize the global economy to some extent.

But in recent couple of years, a different effect of this revolution was felt by the local population e.g. losing jobs to “outsiders”. Now the thought process has started changing from global to local. This has led to the creation of term “Post Truth”. So called “Global Thinking” people have started thinking “locally” to get their jobs back. The effect is for all of us to see e.g. Trump becoming President, Brexit and so on. Apparently Post Truth is more prevalent in Public Domain but sometimes it’s prevalent in personal domain too! We cannot say that US population is not aware of “could be effects” of  Trump presidency. Britishers are very much aware that coming out of large single market is not good for Britain. But in spite this knowledge, decisions have been most unexpected. 

EVM (Electronic Voting Machines) episode, challenging the Election commission by political parties was a typical Post Truth case. EVM voting sanctity was well proven over a period but Political parties did not look at the facts and just challenged the Authorities. In 1971 India Pakistan war, Pakistan had two very distant fronts to fight on, Mukti Bahini was strongly fighting the guerilla war, Indian Forces were far superior but Pakistanis had a notion that one Pakistani soldier is good enough for 10 Indian soldiers! Rest as you know is history. Alienating Qatar by other Gulf Countries is another Post Truth decision. Qatar is a small nation but is also the richest. All concerned countries on both sides openly support terrorist organizations. So most of these countries have same issues so how alienating Qatar is going to solve that areas problems is difficult to understand.  

Why the Post Truth? Under what circumstances does emotion take over the brain? At what stage “globalization” becomes less important than “localization”? One important aspect that has come forward is that very large part of population gives in to “Post Truth” phenomena. Is it because of fear psychosis? In many cases, the “Post Truth” thinking actually becomes believable. In case of Trump phenomena, it was real justified fear of the so called “White Trash” in America or “Rednecks” and Right supremacists. In case of Brexit it is probably the fear of Muslim refugees landing in Europe. In England already there is a large population of Asians which has come legally and has been causing stress to the white population and “Post Truth” thought process must have been simmering beneath the surface. In both cases the large population has ignored the facts and taken decision solely on personal beliefs; this phenomena is difficult to explain.

In case of personal relationships, life and decision making is too simple and emotional. When Jaya and I decided to get married, we were both students. Both had rudimentary information about each other’s families. Both of us were below 20 years of age, it was simple and “to hell with the consequences” was the attitude. But who any way knew what is marriage? That things turned out to be okay over a period was a different matter. Folks, what do you consider yourselves about things in public domain or even somethings in personal domain which needs brain over heart? Or are you a heart over brain person?