Titbits from an inter-continental dash!

Small but interesting experience during travel!

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Travel does many things but the experience you get, the knowledge it gives you can never be gotten in any school or on internet in such a short duration and on different subjects! We made a quick dash to the US to attend our grandson Suaysh’s graduation ceremony which took place on 18th June. We reached on Saturday, 16th June, and traveled back on 20th June. You will ask me where did I acquire so many new things? Well it was during journey and waiting at airports and of course chatting with my grandson.  

My son lives in a Seattle suburb called Sammamish, which has population of 75 K. It’s a well to do suburb. There were 600 students from my grand sons class of 2018. I went through the list, there were about 15% Indians, 20/22% Chinese. Rest was others! Out of 600, about 100 did IB Diploma. International Baccalaureate® (IB) programmes aim to do more than other curricula by developing inquiring, knowledgeable and caring young people who are motivated to succeed. https://www.ibo.org/programmes/diploma-programme/ . Out of 100 students, 80 were Indian or Chinese!  

On the flight back home, from Seattle to Toronto, an Irish American was sitting next to me. He was accompanying his son, who had also completed his 12th grade graduation. The gentleman was civil engineer by profession. When subject of education came up for discussion, he said their family came to US about 125 years back and he was the first from their family to go to a college. He rued, that his family and clan never realized the importance of education before his generation. He was shocked to know the statistics mentioned above.  

Another important point came out in discussion. Gun laws in USA. He agreed that the laws were bad, so I asked him a hypothetical question. In the mid-size city like Seattle, in an area 25 km around, how many people will really need a gun? He said that in some remote area a few wild animals do come but if you let them be, you don’t need guns; otherwise almost nobody would need a gun. I then asked him, how many guns would be there in Seattle area? He said there could be hundreds of guns! That is the gun story in USA.  

Then I found some interesting things at airports. Removing shoes, Laptops etc at security varies from country to country, as per equipment available. We landed in Vancouver, Canada and US immigration and customs formalities were completed there itself. After the formalities were done, nobody took the customs form that we had filled up. On Seattle Toronto flight, similar customs form was filled up but passport details were not required. Nobody collected this form too! When we transited after reaching Canada, there was no security check, though we had crossed the international border! There was a very long moving walkway, maybe about 300 meters long. It was the worst one I have seen on any airport. It was continuously making noise, dhad, dhad and I got a feeling that one of the links of the conveyor would break, anytime. Also, the walkway was not moving in flat plane; it was jumping a few millimeters at every dhad. It was very uncomfortable to use.  

SeattleToronto2

The images above show the funny side of lack of quality control at some stage. We were flying Seattle to Toronto but two images were showing reverse information. Instead of showing distance to Toronto, it was showing distance to Seattle! This hardly made any difference but it was surprising to such basic errors.  

Back home in Delhi there was a pleasant surprise! We stayed at night at the Holiday Inn Express transit hotel at the airport. That day was Jaya’s birthday and I had ordered a cake when I had booked the room  a month back. When we reached, the cake was ready and they offered it on the house!

On Delhi Pune flight I had a Britisher sitting next to me. He was in education business. They send students from UK for internship to India, during summer. He said every year one or two students go back home half way, as they cannot handle India! Especially from Chennai area. He was not sure about the reason and why from this area! I got many insights about Brexit, border less travel and business issues!

After a long time we ran into baggage missing episode. I am trying various things, let’s see when we get the bags at home!

But all in all one could see that US and Canada are really up there as far developments are concerned!  But to top everything else was the reaction of our gran daughter Rhea, when we met back home! The way she squeaked, jumped, danced was a site to behold! Why do we mature? Why don’t we show reactions like the small kids do? We are losing real fun and joys of life by becoming mature!

 

 

 

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?

Topsy-turvy!

Modern world is changing so rapidly that whatever was thought politically correct till very recently, is turning topsy-turvy. I am sharing a poem below which is very appropriate.

Topsy-turvy Land

by H. E. Wilkinson

The people walk upon their heads,
The sea is made of sand,
The children go to school by night,
In Topsy-Turvy Land.

The front-door step is at the back,
You’re walking when you stand,
You wear your hat upon your feet,
In Topsy-Turvy Land.

And ‘buses on the sea you’ll meet,
While pleasure boats are planned
To travel up and down the streets
Of Topsy-Turvy Land.

You pay for what you never get,
I think it must be grand,
For when you go you’re coming back,
In Topsy-Turvy Land.

Similar thoughts came to my mind when I read in the papers recently that, Amruta Fadnavis wife of Maharashtra Chief Minister dancing with THE Amitabh Bacchan for a video being shot! Ok you will argue that Bacchan danced with her because she is CM’s wife! Of course it is obvious but then it goes with the territory. Once you are in the stratosphere of social circle, you remain there as much as you can. Now what is topsy-turvy is that banker Amruta Fadnavis is turning into a dancer for a video, simultaneously! I am absolutely happy that Amruta is attempting this move. Now how does Axis Bank take to their VP openly moonlighting for a filmy video? During bank timings she sanctions loans or does whatever bankers do in the bank; do waiting customers see her video, on bank waiting lounge entertainment TV , while they wait for their meeting with her? This creates an interesting scenario. I am absolutely for women doing whatever they want to do as professionals, so on that front I have no problems. But how will Axis Bank handle this? This is the topsy-turvy I am talking about. Let’s see how this moves forward.

This topsy-turvy trend had started somewhat when Vilas Rao Deshmukh was the CM and his actor Son Riteish stayed with him. Deshmukh faced the wrath of people when a film maker Ram Gopal Varma tagged with him to take a round of devastated Taj Hotel during 26/11 terrorist attack.

Then we have Mr. Trump winning the US presidential election. Trump the man who made below the belt, rough, nasty, ugly political statements and was supposed to be also ran. Everybody said there is no way he can win the election. The topsy-turvy happened and now he is President Elect! Till very recently everybody was talking of globalization but Trump’s inward looking policies have hit a raw nerve. When he talks of getting jobs back to US, not allowing any more jobs to be moved out of the US, globalization gets tossed out of the window. I recently read a book “Hilly Billy Elegy by J D Vance; this book explains the inward looking phenomena and its reasons. Trump does not say these things discretely and is proposing them openly. Same about his statement regarding Muslims.

Same inward looking stance was never visualized by outsiders in Britain but during Brexit it came out and ensured the vote to take Britain away from European Union. A few years back this was unthinkable. How is the world going to handle such topsy-turvy scenarios?

Till 8th November “Cash is King” was the motto in India! We loved to do everything in cash. According to some experts cash kept the wheels of the economy greased! Biggest topsy-turvy as far as we are concerned happened. The demonetization, a frontal attack on strong black-money hoarders was unthinkable even a few days before 8th November. I have seen the world of certain people turning topsy-turvy in an unthinkable manner. Similar attempts were made in olden days but were damp squibs. In days of KYC, Aadhar card linking, direct linking of TDS to PAN card, in short various forms of electronic linking are going to make it very tough for people to hide their undeclared incomes. People have said that Govt had no plan and acted without going into details. It is not so they have an action group which is creating new methods of helping people to overcome tough times, at the same time making it difficult for defaulters to hide behind Jandhan Yojana!

All the events mentioned above have happened in the year 2016 which can be considered as watershed year. One may argue that where does Amruta Fadnavis story fit in these other major events? Yes it does. It’s changing the definition of political correctness. Will be it ok for a lady Collector of a District to give public dance recitals as she is trained dancer too! Is it ok for Senior Vice President of a large Private organization to be in advertisement as he/she started their career as a model? Or you need to be CM’s wife to be able to do both? Trump the candidate and Trump the President, will they be speaking the same language, the so called politically incorrect ones? Because when President says some such thing it becomes a policy! Friends I think we are at a very interesting phase in this world of topsy-turvy changes so let’s see how it works out in the end. I am sure 2017 will be even more interesting!