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!

 

 

 

Bonsai of Relationship ..

Create a beautiful Bonsai of friendship in life!

Bonsai

How is the relationship between humans formed? What does it depend on? There are legal relations which are by birth or by marriage. There are other relationships which just happen. Closest relationship is between mother and child. Then comes husband and wife and so on! I am not talking of relatives but I am talking of relations. One may be a close relative but we may not have much relation with that person. I am taking a look at relation between two persons as friends, whether  they are  relatives or not, even if there is  age difference between them and maybe they are of different sex.   

Years back we visited Canada. It was our first visit outside India and our knowledge about personal inter actions was limited. We had gone on a holiday for a couple of days with our Canadian friend Ed and his wife Dorothy! We were in early thirties and they were in fifties. On the way back to Ottawa, Ed asked me whether it was ok if he took a small detour. I said, “Ed, we have absolutely no issues.” Ed said, ” My mother lives in an old people’s home, I would like to meet her for half an hour!” While we were reaching the old people’s home, Jaya and I were trying to judge if we should also offer to meet his mother! Our problem was solved by Dorothy when we reached  the parking lot. Dorothy said, “Ed, you go and see your mother, we will sit in the car!” After, so many years of marriage, for Dorothy “It was Ed’s mother”! We were surprised that she did not feel like meeting the old lady! We were surprised with the relationship between the two ladies!  

We have been lucky that most of our close relatives are more of friends, than relatives. It is said that father and son must become friends once their shoe size matches. Similar thing can happen with grandfathers, uncles and other similar relationships, but for this to happen, the onus is on the senior partner. The age difference can come in the way. The relationships is a thing that cannot be explained. They simply happen. Two people simply hit it off on day one. In Bollywood lingo, it is called chemistry between two people. Chemistry just occurs. Sometimes two persons are poles opposite in their backgrounds, their thought process. Still they can be close friends.

During my engineering college days Sharad, Nayan and I were room partners. Only common thing between us was our mother tongue. But even today after more than 50 years we are very close to each other. The main reason I feel is that there never were any expectations from each other. We were very much aware of milestones reached, progress made or difficulties faced. In fact, we shared with each other everything, all the time. But discreetly, we had made efforts to nurture the relationship. In case of Nayan, we were lucky that out relationship went even one step further. Nayan’s parents continued to live India after Nayan moved to the US. After that, we suddenly realized that we had third set of parents, Opa and Omi! We had such lovely times with them whenever we could meet. This simply happened as Nayan moved abroad, and we could spend time with Opa and Omi! Now whenever Nayan and I meet, we share memories of Opa and Omi!  

Deepti and Raju have become family for us. Again, as destiny would have it, Deepti joined my business at the tender age of 26 and we have been together through the thick and thin of the business since last 25 years. When they became family, is not very easy to say. There is an age difference between us but it just happened. When Deepti’s mother became our Aai, we do not know. The funny part is Aai calls me, “Sir” and Jaya “Madam” but she is Aai for us.

I will share how these relations get matured and cultivated. A few years back, I was to go for my check up with Dr. Sant, for my sore throat. My granddaughter was one months old at that time. Priya had high fever and hence Jaya was managing Rhea. She called and told me the situation; I told her not to bother as I could easily go alone. This conversation happened while I was in the office. Five minutes later, Deepti simply told me, ” Sir, don’t worry. I have called Raju. He will go with you to the doctor, you don’t go alone.” Again, the destiny was such that I was detected with cancer during that visit and Raju was there to support me. Raju had simply come out of whatever he was doing, to go with me!  

On the other side,I have a friend, who is a very pleasant person, always smiling, always enthusiastic, always keen. But he has a tendency to keep relationships on/off. In initial phase, he lived outside Pune. He would pass through Pune very often but would communicate very rarely. Like all of us do, he also went through ups and downs in life. Some of these were very serious up and downs. But as expected he came out of these tough times, with flying colours and became a great professional. We were always on the periphery except when he needed close support. As friends, we kept on giving it. But later we realized that we were his friends only when he needed support! To me friends are simply there when needed, especially if you live in the same city. They are like shadows and they simply take up what is needed to be done. But alas in this case it is not to be so!  

Another case is of a college mate, whom I met recently, after 45 years of gap. He was a pleasant person in college days but soon after college he moved to foreign shores. He used to come to Pune, like all migratory birds always do but he never met me during this period. He has an added qualification of “NRI” which he displays proudly.  Our friend has need for small help these days as he has acquired some property in Pune. His experience with his “friends” was not so good. I was a little upset when he informed me about his experience but in the same note his rant about change in Pune culture, change in friends not keen to support etc made me think a little more. When I came to know the other side, looks like our “NRI” friend has different set of friends for fun and getting work done! Looks like our friend is riding a big white horse! With shining armour! So, his “friends’ simply ignored his requests. Apparently, he forgot that any relationship needs nurturing. Nothing is constant in this world including relationships, unless cultivated. Our NRI friend forgot that relationship is like a balloon, you need to pump the gas very slowly and check, pump and check. One must get the feel of knowing when the balloon will burst.  

Give and take in a relationship is not like an accounting ledger. You don’t need to create a credit entry, immediately after a debit entry is created. But at some stage ledger needs to be balanced. At the same time, you cannot simply create a major debit entry too! Nurture, coax, help each other to become closer and closer. There is nothing in life like a lovely relationship.

I could go on and on! While writing this, I have become nostalgic but friends don’t forget that the beauty of this world is enhanced by great relationships. But you need to nurture them, cultivate them like a Bonsai. The purposes of bonsai is primarily contemplation for the viewer, and the pleasant exercise of effort and ingenuity for the grower. We can compare relationship with Bonsai.

Bonsai is a Japanese  art form using cultivation technique to produce small trees. Bonsai is not intended for production of food or for medicine. Instead, bonsai practice focuses on long-term cultivation and shaping of one or more small trees growing in a container. Similarly, relationship between two individuals is cultivated for pure relationship, friendship. There are no expectations. Create a Bonsai of friendship, between two individuals, these are grown with care in a container made up of love! Like Bonsai plants relationship can go on and on, living in their own meandering path.  

 

 

Paradox, thy name is India!

Disrespect & Indiscipline are the main reasons for lack of cleanliness!

A friend Shreekant, went to Europe for a month and mostly lived in Holland with relatives. On his Facebook page he shared some very nice write-ups about the pleasant weather, systems and so on. In his comments there were natural references and comparisons with Bharat desh. He made a very prudent and specific statement that we tend to be very harsh on ourselves when we compare with other societies and other nations, we are a young nation with very old civilization. I totally agree with him because there are a lot of complexities involved in our nation and life! I have always been wondering for the reasons for these paradoxes! Honestly I am never able to come to any conclusion for my question, WHY? It is why to everything.

Let us not say that in India, people live mostly in Villages, it is old story. There has been a big migration from villages to towns and cities. I know why this is happening. It is the abject poverty and lack of job opportunities in villages that pushes people towards cities. Recently I was in Europe, in larger cities and smaller towns and sometimes in villages. Obviously my mind too started making comparisons. Both in cities and smaller places things were relatively similar in Europe. In India also we have similarities but of the wrong kind! We are extremely capable as a society of making our cities & villages dirty! Cities like smaller places can be really dirty! That is the first impression that we carry whenever we travel outside India to developed nations.

 India as a country has made great progress  in satellite technology,  they are well known in IT field! India is the largest manufacturer of two wheelers in the world! Suzuki car production in India is much larger than their production in Japan! India has slowly started doing well in sports at world level! Indian engineers, doctors, scientists have done pretty well on global scene. This is where the paradoxes begin.

Let us begin at the beginning. How long have we been one, as a nation? Before 1947 there was no concept of India. We may sing paeans of glory of Bharat, जहा डाल डाल पर सोने की चिडियां करतीं हैं बसेरा यह भारत देश है मेरा! It feels good to listen to the song but the ground realities are quite different. Indian continent was made up of hundreds of small kingdoms ruled by the Rajas and Nabobs. For the first time in the history of the continent, area from Pune to Atak was under the rule of Peshwas. That too was for a brief period. Many years before that, Mughal invaders came to “India” and ruled. Before 1947 British ruled us for 150 years, using a small army and big brain. British had clearly understood that since there was no “India” as such, they could easily use the divide and rule strategy. Under the non-Indian rulers most of the population never had any rights; the benefits of technology hardly reached them. British made sure that industrial revolution benefits reached only where and when it was beneficial to British. There was no “All India” policy.

European countries have existed as nations for centuries, sometimes by different names, some have split and some have merged. Japan has been in existence for a long time. China also is around for a long time. United States and Canada have also been existing as countries for a couple of centuries. Most important aspects of these countries is, though there has been variance in different parts of the nations, mostly they were quite coherent in food, culture, clothing and language. Except for the obviously large countries, all others are pretty small, smaller than the many Indian States of today. Ruling and managing such countries was much easier.

Indian complexities start with 31 major languages, with that many different cultures, as many different types of foods including the way we eat. But somehow one thing we have in common across the cultures of our great Indian continent is total disrespect for laws and rules, total disregard for each other’s personal space, disregard for maintenance of personal infrastructure of all types. I am not talking of government infrastructure! You must be wondering how I have not written anything about cleanliness! Lack of cleanliness is the end result of everything.

Disrespect for law is ingrained in our DNA. We have disrespect for authority. The respect starts with respect to next individual. In Hindi movies whenever a young person meets elderly person, they are always respected by touching their feet! In mythology we have great stories of Ram, Laxman, and Bharat who go really out of the way to respect their eldest brother Ram. When it comes to public life how respect suddenly vanishes? Though we have our old traditions for respect! In north India even a new born child is addressed with respect, using word आप. Luckhnow culture is known for पहले आप culture, meaning please go ahead, I will follow you! I feel that we make use of traditions conveniently! What could be the reason for disrespect? The Indians were always ruled by others for centuries. Main reason could be it is a way of protesting against authorities. But we forget that now it is our country, so how this attitude will help?

Disrespect to others creates “I don’t care attitude!” I feel like spitting in public, I will spit! In our society chewing paan or betel leaf and/or tobacco, and of course spitting the juice in public, is “culture”! Basic things like standing in a queue are handled so differently. People sometimes stand so much near you in your personal space that you have to tell people to move away. You will be jostled, pushed. Most of the time, someone will always try to jump the queue claiming “I have only half a minute work”! I also find problems in traffic. When I stop for red signal, at least 5 to 10% of times guys on bike will try to snake their way in non-moving traffic banging on my side mirror! Personal space, never heard of that!

Stopping for a red signal is an international norm. We will try to jump signal if policeman is not around, else we think that stopping over zebra crossing is our birth right. This is disrespect to others and law! Laws are made for smooth running of the society. In any society a small percentage of people are bound to break the laws. But in India very large numbers break laws with impunity. Once I was driving thru a green signal; after I passed, I heard commotion. Suddenly around 15 bikers just broke the red signal and drove thru. A policeman was there but how can a single policeman catch 15 people? Two wheelers are supposed to carry two passengers; it started with taking additional baby in the lap. Then it changed to two adults plus two children around the age of 10 or 12. One of them sitting on the petrol tank of the bike. Mind you this is not an exception!

Personal infrastructure is the area around homes, condos or where you live! In olden days there were small homes generally one story or ground level. Cleaning homes and pushing the dust outside home was the definition of cleaning the home. There was no concretization, there was no paper, so cleaning was pretty simple, push dust outside in the dust around your home. Things have now changed drastically and homes have also changed. The amount of trash we generate is enormous. The mix has changed, there is plastic, there is metal, there is paper and there is glass. Still in many homes definition of cleaning has not much changed. At the most people collect their trash and throw it in a convenient spot on the way to somewhere, dumpsters be damned! The best way to keep things clean is to not create the trash in public spaces;  when you achieve this, you  don’t have to clean the roads. In advanced countries the trash that you generally see on roads is tree leaves and cigarette butts. Somehow developed countries have also not been able to eliminate these butts. Once my grandson Suyash, who lives in the USA, had come to Pune. From our 7th floor abode we could see a lot of buildings around. Suyash asked me, “Grandpa, why don’t they paint their homes?” They all looked pretty ungainly because they were never probably repainted after construction. Buildings were maybe 10 year old. In these ten years not even one building was repainted. With Monsoon and heat, Moss streaks make buildings not a very pretty site. I am sure people living in these buildings could definitely afford to get them repainted once in ten years! I  normally live in a colony of row houses or town houses. People just used to hang their laundry from front balcony. Only after we started fining people they reluctantly stopped it.

I feel that all the lack of discipline, disdain for laws and rules, lack of consideration for others are independent of social status, financial status, (In fact sometimes I feel that it is inversely proportional) and your education. All the cleanliness drives, swatchhata diwas are of no use if the mindset is not changed. If we as a society handle the trash prudently instead throwing stuff where ever we want, we will have cleaner cities and villages. Pune is one of the better places where sweepers sweep the roads sincerely but I would rather have sweeper less Pune. Why are we required to sweep the road instead of collecting trash? All over India there is a big drive going on from government to stop open defecation, subsidies are also offered to needy. to build toilets But in Punjab many men still defecate in fields though they have toilets at home; when asked why they do so? The reply was, “It is Manly”! God bless us! Amen! You may listen to the song जहा डाल डाल पर सोने की चिडियां करतीं हैं बसेरा using link below. Tell me how you feel after listening to the song, now! 

100 Hundred शंभर सौ!

Thank You from bottom of my heart! Your encouragement is what really puts my blog writing in turbo charge mode!  Keep commenting, keep criticizing, keep liking too! 
धन्यवाद, आभार, Love you!

As I have reached  blog number 100, I am excited, apprehensive, and reflective. Many emotions come to mind, one definite one is surprise! I started writing in 2011, and expected that my stint as a person who can write, will be short lived as happens with most of things in our life. Now in 2017 I am reaching the milestone of 100 blogs.

100th-post-image

We start some activity with a great enthusiasm, we think that we are going to do this thing for ever and before you come to know, you have simply stopped doing it, not because you don’t want to do it but that is how life takes you around.  Since last three years my blog writing frequency has increased. All of us see something happening in our lives, a small episode in our day to day life, or a normal interaction with people. Afterwards, thoughts keep on meandering in mind about that event and inner thought process starts automatically. This chain of thoughts stops only when I write something.

It is said that humans age and wine matures!  But those close to me, say that I have aged but my writing has matured!  I feel that maturity in anything is a matter doing something regularly, or some event takes place which makes you more reflective in turn matures you. This is the difference in how I looked in 2011 and how I look now. I don’t know if by blogs written then and now look equally different! 

 

DSC_4298WhatsApp Image 2017-08-12 at 11.56.55

I had never planned to be a blogger but it appears that after my Cancer treatment in 2013/14 my frequency of writing increased and I became a reasonably regular writer (though my professional work comes in the way even today!) My thoughts are more about human interactions, human reactions, human thinking and human nature. The event that induces me to write a blog could be taking my grand-daughter for small walk to a Mandir when she was two years old, or watching a lady suddenly going in a trance, reading about new tech products like Electric car being suddenly pushed hard by all.  My thinking in most cases looks into human aspect of the situation. Very few of my blogs are like an “article” which I recently wrote about GST implementation in India. Another subject that has kicked in a lot of thought processes in my mind are electric cars and non-conventional energy generation systems.

Events that stimulate my blog writing are of two types, divergent or convergent. Now let me explain. Some ideas are such that, in the beginning they look big, they look promising; but as I start writing, a very narrow thought or a conclusion comes out of it. These are convergent ideas for me. In case of divergent ideas, process is exactly reverse; I start with something very small but end with some idea which is universal and/or very big! 

Writing on different subjects needs a lot of study and has become much easier because of Internet. There is no dearth of information if one is willing to dig. When I started writing, it never touched my mind if anyone will ever read what I write. I would share my blogs with family and a few friends. Then I started understanding the techniques of sharing with others. A reasonable number people not known to me are followers of my blogs now. Later on I realized, that I can publish the blogs simultaneously on Facebook, Linked in and so on. I am also a member of a few groups on WhatsApp. I share my blog on these groups too! Out of curiosity I check the statistics that are available on WordPress site and I come to know how my blog has been “found”! It is found from search engines (Tagging helps!) on FB and so on. I also get to know the geographical locations where the blogs are “seen”. The main areas are naturally English speaking ones like US, Canada, Australia besides India but sometimes these are accessed even from Scandinavia or Eastern Europe countries! English speaking people from these places are doing this. Another information that I want to share is that in the whole year of 2014, I published 28 blogs and these were viewed by about 1000 people; till my last blog I have published 28 blogs in 2017 but the viewership is 3500! This does not mean that my blogs have suddenly become popular but I have improved the distribution! I have also observed that a couple of my friends from Facebook, share my blog with others. People give their comments on the blog itself or they send separate email to send comments. There are friends who prefer to call and discuss. My blog writing, comments, discussions also show that I am doing what I have been preaching! I have been saying, all the time in different blogs, please do something that will keep you reasonably busy during the course of the day, other than exercising, watching TV and time on Facebook/WhatsApp! I am also lucky that I love what I am doing.

My main criteria for publishing is that I myself should find the blog “readable”. My definition of “readable” is a bit stringent. If a person starts reading my blog then he should finish reading the blog in one go! Many of you have told me that my blogs are readable!

What next? Well in cricketing terms, I am taking fresh guard, will adjust my pads and will check my bat!  Next hundred should be possible in two years time. Frequency of my writing improved from 2014 and it took me about 3 1/2 years to reach 100. 2011 to 2013 were real baby steps! I think my blog theme will always be human relations and relationships! But it appears that I will pepper you folks in between on Solar Energy and Electric cars too!

Till then .. so long ! Thank You from bottom of my heart! Your encouragement is what really puts my blog writing in turbo charge mode!  Keep commenting, keep criticizing, keep liking too! 

धन्यवाद, आभार, Love you!