Loneliness & Isolation!

Expecting returns and NOT getting it, is one of the reasons, why the isolation starts!

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Loneliness is a feeling of sadness or distress about being by yourself or feeling disconnected from the world around you. It may be felt more over a long period of time. It is also possible to feel lonely, even when surrounded by people.

Isolation is being separated from other people and your environment. Sometimes this occurs through decisions we make ourselves, or because of circumstance e.g. doing a job that requires travel or relocation.

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The above picture shows a positive way of looking at life!

The above two are definitions of two feelings, that human being gets some time in life. This can happen at any age and can happen due to different reasons. There are different remedies to the same. But one thing is sure, these feelings are bad for the humans and earlier humans overcome them, is better. Though age is no bar, chances of this happening at an older age are much more. World over these two feelings are discussed together hence I am also treating them as same but one thing is well proven that these conditions lead to early deaths!

What are the reasons for Loneliness & Isolation?

Though the reasons are many, the most important being living alone, introverted personality, major long-term illness, loss of job and death of the spouse. Some of the reasons I have mentioned are a real shock, like death, to each of us but some are not able to cope.

I will try and separate them into tangible and intangible reasons. I am using this word in a slightly different way. Tangible means perceptible by touch but I am taking it as something for which there is a visible reason, like death.

  • Death of spouse, close family member or a close friend is an event which puts everyone in a state of loneliness for some time. Many of us overcome these shocks within a reasonable period of time but some people take much longer or they need medical or psychiatric treatment. This could be because such people are
    • Born that way, introverts
    • Don’t have close family ties or ties with friends
    • Live away from the family
  • Living alone for various reasons can be is another thing that creates loneliness within us. This can be because of loss of the spouse, a job change resulting in other family members living elsewhere.
  • Some are introverts by nature and find it difficult to meet new people. So, when the people whom you meet regularly, go away from your life, things can become difficult. Some people have a feeling that they don’t belong! They also feel a lack of purpose or meaning in life.
  • Poor physical health, frailty, mobility issues are some of the issues that can lead to the feeling of loneliness. Long-term illnesses and treatment make you feel that you are alone in this world. I was treated for cancer in 2013 end. My treatment went on for three months and rehabilitation was another three months. Luckily my own and my family’s positiveness helped me. In such situations having a reasonably comfortable financial situation is also helpful.
  • Some people have a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety. This is an illness of the mind. It creates a situation such that there is a fear of rejection from others or feelings of being “different” or stigmatized by society. What happens in such cases is that others in the society do not know how to react to such persons.
  • Inability to participate in activities due to access issues, mobility, illness, transport. This really is an issue which can be easily resolved but you need to take support from people if required. During one of our alumni get together, one of our friends who has very poor eyesight called me to say that he wanted to attend the gathering. I coordinated with one friend who lived in the same area. Our friend really enjoyed the meet!
  • Retirement from work, home relocation, starting out in a new role or community puts some people in difficulties as they are not able to cope up. These changes in life are level two events after death in the family! I know of someone who left his home in Mumbai fifteen years back and stays with his children in Pune and Bangalore. But he still cannot overcome this change simply longs for his Mumbai home.
  • Language or cultural barriers, or reduced connection with your culture of origin is one more reason. This can easily happen in India, especially for older people, when their adaptability is reduced. Living in foreign countries for six months, post-retirement can be tough because of the language issue, weather conditions like snow. People feel in Geographic isolation.
  • Feeling lost in the crowd is another mental condition that needs treatment.

How to cope up with Loneliness & Isolation?

It is very easy for others to say, you do this and you do that but persons who face the problems find it difficult to reach the solutions. Those who are born with natural positiveness, also face these difficulties but they overcome them. Another example is, we think that Public figures and stage personalities do not have stage fright. That is not true, they also have the same issues like all others but they overcome them, mask them, hide them well.

  • Connect or reconnect with friends and family: staying in contact with loved ones can prevent loneliness and isolation. If your family does not live nearby, technology can help you stay in touch. Speak to them on WhatsApp or talk on Skype video. These are free. Keep in touch with them regularly.
  • Get out and about: Regular outings for social functions, exercise, visiting friends, doing shopping, or simply going to public places can help. Don’t avoid functions either public or private. If not, take long walks in gardens where you will see many people and maybe you will like a few of them, you may want to know them.
  • Volunteer: Helping others is a great way to help yourself feel more connected. Besides that, the feeling of goodness that comes within you because you are able to help somebody boosts your happy feelings.
  • Consider getting a pet: Pets are wonderful companions and can provide comfort and support during times of stress, ill-health or isolation. They give you love without expecting any returns. Expecting returns and NOT getting it, is one of the reasons, why the isolation starts. But don’t forget one thing. There is work involved in having a dog as a pet. Their food, their walking, their poo poo collection and so many things. Then along with your visits to the doctor, Vet visits get added.
  • Get support: If loneliness and social isolation are causing you distress, you should discuss your concerns with a doctor, counsellor or a trusted person. Don’t feel shy to openly asking for support. Remember people may not know that you need help unless you tell them.
  • Focus on others needs: Focus on the needs and feelings of others, give less attention to your lonely thoughts and feelings. You can be involved in yourself all the time or you can think of others too! Interacting with others is better! Enjoy the site of different people in their own thoughts and their own moods, you can smile at strangers too!
  • Try new things: Try to do some different things but don’t expect perfection and don’t expect people to appreciate what you are doing!

Ultimately, one has to find his own solution and there is no formula for this. Attempt different methods to interact with people, you may find some givers or some takers but don’t give up if you meet only takers initially; those people may have their own problems but keep on attempting. The world is too beautiful to live alone, try and enjoy to the best of your ability with others, with or without someone’s help!

There is a saying, if you see someone without a smile, give him one of yours! In the same vein if you see someone looking lonely, forlorn, isolated go out of your way to bring that person back to normal life! Tomorrow that person could be you!

Cancer Survivor!

Cancer Survivor? Maybe Cancer Beater?

This is a term used to describe cancer patients who did not die though they had cancer. To me this a very derogatory term. I have undergone cancer treatment 5 years back. I came out the illness successfully. Why call such a person a survivor? The patient has undergone a major treatment, faced it bravely, lived with dignity, how can the patient be called a survivor?

The word “Survivor” has following definitions which I am trying to understand.

These definitions give a different flavour to the experience of going through cancer treatment. About 50 to 70 years back, C-word was a scary word and anyone who had cancer, it was assumed that the result will be death. Hence the term survivor came in use. Due to early detection, improved treatments, family and friends’ support, these days not every body detected with cancer, dies within a short duration. In fact % of people recovering the condition has gone up, drastically. Following points have jointly changed cancer scenario so much that I do not like being called cancer survivor. Why not a heart attack survivor? Why not a stroke survivor? Why not a nephritis survivor?

I will share with you the information that I gathered while I was undergoing the treatment.

In recent times there have been major changes in cancer management due to

1. Early detection

With awareness, with improved diagnostic tools people do go to their doctors early. It is definitely proven that early detection definitely improves the chances of getting cured like any other disease.

2. Advanced imaging technologies have created sophisticated diagnostics.

In olden days the only way to look inside the body was an x-ray or by surgery. With CAT scans, MRI’s doctors can really “see” inside and can even understand the different types, by looking at images.

3. Improvements in chemotherapy and its side effects

You will be surprised to know that in developed country England, first Oncology department was established as late as in 1970. The word chemotherapy brought out pictures of a patient losing hair on the scalp, patients having terrible side effects like diarrhea. But so much progress has taken place in this science that these symptoms are not seen in some patients. Instead of intravenous chemotherapy, now chemo tablets are available. The cost of the treatment has also gone down substantially.

4. The advent of treatments like Immuno therapy which has a couple types

  • Stimulating your own immune system to work harder or smarter to attack cancer cells
  • Giving you immune system components, such as man-made immune system proteins
  • This treatment is still costly but very effective in the certain type of cancers.
  • Sometimes this is given in place of chemotherapy
  • I was treated with Immuno therapy instead of Chemotherapy and had reasonably less side effect with no hair loss at all and minor weight loss.

5. Progress in surgical techniques which allows lesser and lesser removal of tissues.

In olden days, surgeries used to be drastic and a lot of body tissues were cut away. When I was in school, one of my father’s friend had cancer in the facial area. His left side including the left nostril, was simply removed! In my case, luckily, the only surgery that was needed, was for biopsy purpose!

Now with improving surgical techniques where surgeons use probes, many times surgery is not drastic.

6. Radiation treatment

  • There have been tremendous changes in radiation therapy. It appears that Radiation therapy will be the cancer treatment of the 21st century. There two major new methods have been proven and are used extensively
  • Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) is the use of imaging during radiation therapy to improve the precision and accuracy of treatment delivery. IGRT is used to treat tumours in areas of the body that move, such as the lungs.
  • Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) uses linear accelerators to safely and painlessly deliver precise radiation doses to a tumour while minimizing the dose to surrounding normal tissue.
  • The radiation oncologist will speak with you to determine whether IMRT is the most appropriate treatment for you. If so, your doctor will perform a physical exam and use CT scanning to conduct a treatment simulation session. Other imaging procedures may be used to help determine the exact shape and location of your tumour, and a special device may be created to help you maintain the same exact position during each treatment. Your doctor will give you specific instructions based on the type of exam being performed. I was treated with IGRT.

7. Progress in awareness

  • Perhaps the biggest change of the past 60 years has been in our attitudes. It’s no longer a disease to be mentioned in hushed tones, and increasing survival rates mean that more and more people are alive to share their story of beating cancer.
  • People no longer have to hide a diagnosis of cancer for fear of what others might think, and numerous celebrities have gone public with their personal stories. Fundraising events for cancer charities are commonplace, generating vital money for research, advocacy and support.
  • But, more importantly, we’ve also seen a big change in public awareness about the things that can cause cancer and the warning signs to look out for. Many organizations are working hard to improve early diagnosis of cancer by raising awareness of symptoms amongst public and health professionals.
  • But sadly, one thing has not changed. Some people still believe in alternate medicines. These treatments rarely cure patients in large numbers. These people finally go for treatments discussed above, but many times its too late!

8. Progress in preventing cancer

The reason why someone gets cancer are many

  • Scientists have slowly understood that it can be caused by some viruses too!
  • Smoking is definitely the number one reason for cancer
  • But some cancers also show hereditary links, out of which obesity is one of the main reasons

Friends, I have tried to explain the progress in the management of cancer. Deaths due to cancer are decreasing year by year but the number of cases is increasing. The reason is our life expectancy has gone up and the possibility of cancer increases with age. Another cause is smoking control; smoking  is controlled world over in public areas. This is another reason for the decrease.

I am sure now you have understood why I am unhappy with the term cancer survivor. Now it is no more a dreaded C word. Any person undergoing a major health issue is nervous, tense and uneasy till the cure is achieved. Some achieve it some don’t! Heart attack deaths are even more in numbers than cancer deaths but people somehow accept heart attack event more easily. One good thing is now people openly talk about cancer! Public figures like Manisha Koirala, Sonali Bendre, Cyclist Armstrong are some names. On personal level, I was moving around for three months with feeding tube inserted in my nose. A friend asked me why I did not  cover my face with a scarf to hide the tube, when I went in public? I asked him, “Why should I do it? I am undergoing a treatment and the tube is my major support device? There is nothing to be ashamed of to hide it!” Help cancer patients to remain more dignified by treating their disease as any other major disease by NOT using word Cancer Survivor!

Two facets of our mind!

Our two selves!

Human is a funny creature and human mind is even funnier! How our mind will react to a situation is difficult to tell. I am not sure but the reactions of mind are generally consistent in similar situations. At least I hope so! In routine situations which generally get repeated in our lives, reactions of the mind will be quite consistent, most of the time. Like sometimes, getting late while going to office. Our mind calculates the average time required, considering traffic patterns, time of the day when you are traveling. Then our mind internally calculates the time to leave from home, so that we reach on time! It helps you recalibrating so as to reduce your anxiety.

Do two humans react in the same way? No never. I feel that how one’s mind reacts, depends on the how you grew up right from childhood. The environment in which you have grown up, shapes the mould of how you react or how you decide. But do you really know how your mind will react to a certain situation? No, you won’t know especially in difficult situations. I found this when I was undergoing cancer treatment a few years back.

My treatment was going on for about three months, it included a treatment called immunotherapy and radiations. During the first one week, there were not many effects on my body. My body started reacting from the second weak onwards. I would get coughing bouts, I had rash on my back and on my head. Jaya tells me that I used to have a tough time because of the coughing bouts and sometimes had trouble because of the rash. My mind it seems is designed to not remember difficult and tough periods during difficult times. Honestly, I do not remember most of the details that caused the problems. Yes, I remember that there were many issues but Jaya remembers the details more than I do! Maybe I am lucky that by design, my mind forgets the difficult part of the process. I remember the basics but do not remember any details.

I did a bit of research on internet and it looks like there is a lot of research done on “our two selves”! This research is done mainly about these two selves and how their behaviour helps humans to take decisions in life or react in life! Wow, I honestly had not heard anything about these two fellas! This research is done mainly in the field of psychology! Well known expert and Nobel Laureate Kahneman says about this, “I am my remembering self, and the experiencing self, who does my living, is like a stranger to me.”

This thought process can be a bit confusing to begin with but once we understand it, its meaning is simple but fascinating. Suppose that you are on a holiday with your small kids. It is a well-planned holiday but with kids around things can be a little complex. Basically, adults take a holiday to enjoy change of scene, different places and food; add to that the family time. Children do not to love any change in their steady state life, so they are a little uncomfortable with daily travel, new hotels (they may be posh but they are not home). With this uncertainty, they are a little quirky. Now here is the concept. The experiencing self is the “you” who in the moment lives through the event. The remembering self is the “you” that writes the history. With discomfort of both adults and kids, the experience of holiday can be stressful while it is on but the memory of the holiday that forms in the mind of adults, after the holiday is that of happiness. The remembering self is the one that that takes decisions, for future! This means though during the holiday, there was stress, overall experience was a good one.

It is also the remembering self that is consulted when planning the future. Choices are made, based on the remembering self’s construction of what happened in the past. Now here’s the problem. The experiencing self and the remembering self don’t agree on what happened.

An experiment was conducted where subjects had a hand immersed in ice water at a temperature that causes moderate pain. They were told that they would have three trials. While the hand was in the water the other hand used a keyboard to continuously record their level of pain. The first trial lasted 60 seconds. The second trial lasted 90 seconds, however in the last 30 seconds the water was slowly warmed by 1 degree (better but still painful). For the third trial, they were allowed to choose which of the first two trials was less disagreeable, and repeat that one.

Eighty percent of the subjects who reported experiencing some decrease in their pain in the last 30 seconds of the second trial chose to repeat the 90-second experience! In other words, their remembering self-selected the option that required an additional 30 seconds of suffering.

What is the conclusion from the experiment? The duration did not matter but end result mattered. In the second method, pain started diminishing as the temperature was increased. Though the trial was longer, people preferred that trial.

Coming back to my cancer treatment. Treatment lasted for three months. My pain and difficulties increased with time. But my overall experience was satisfactory; why was it so? When the treatment ended, the doctors told me that everything worked out well. Since my cancer turned out to be non- spreadable variety, chances of recurrence were almost nil! My mind processed the end result and probably made me forget the pain and issues during treatment phase. My remembering self, processed the information that I wanted! So, am I happy?

Being happy used to be a simple process, now it is difficult to discuss this as it has become a complex process as our knowledge level goes up. It turns out that the word “happiness” is just not a useful word anymore, because we apply it to too many different things.

The second thing is a confusion between experience and memory, between being happy in your life, and being happy about your life or happy with your life. And those are two very different concepts, and they’re both clubbed in the notion of happiness.

Friends, will our mind work this way when events like, business loss, break-up in relationships, loss of job? Don’t forget that remembering self also remembers the peak events (best or the worst) from any process!

Maybe, some of you might just want to chuck the complex theory we have discussed,  and be happy the old way! Cheers!

From Sir with Love!

This is for a friend who is going through tough times in life! But friends are always there for support!

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A young friend of mine celebrated his birthday, the other day. Mark Zuckerberg informed me about my friend’s birthday, I wished him on the Facebook. I prefer to call friends and talk to them too, on their birthdays! Hence, I called him. We do chitchat on phone once in a while and have the usual banter about market conditions and general economy. After the banter, he calls me Sir, he said, ” Sir, I wanted to share with you something. I underwent yearly medical checkup and there was a patch found in my lungs.” I was hoping that it would be TB or some such infection. He is a non -smoker and teetotaler. He further said, “The biopsy indicated malignancy. I have already started radiation and chemo therapy.”

I was stunned but did not let this reflect in my reaction. He further said, “My wife told me to discuss with you about malignancy, as you have also gone through the same issue a few years back.” I was impressed with his nonchalant way, when he told me about the carcinoma. Then he suggested that I could visit him on that day, as it was his birthday. Visit unfortunately did not materialize.

All of this was so SUDDEN! A real storm started in my mind the way storms generally start, suddenly. (Today’s technology predicts such storms in advance, so suddenness factor gets a bit diluted these days)! But this storm in my mind was about thoughts, a big churning had started in my mind. I was feeling breathless, figuratively! Though the winds of thoughts were blowing, I had this feeling as if I was getting choked! Everything looked so bleak, like we see the dark clouds during the build-up of a storm. If I was feeling this on knowing this issue, I cannot imagine what my friend must have gone through. When I had this problem, I was 64 but my friend is much younger than me!

I thought how our mind behaves in the same fashion as the nature. Does nature get confused during the build-up of a storm system? Suddenly big drops of rain start falling, making all surroundings beautifully wet! In the same manner the dark thoughts in my mind were also washed away! Suddenly I felt as if there was cool breeze flowing, which relaxed my mind!

This change happened as I remembered my own personal storm, where I pushed hard against a strong headwind! When my cancer was detected more than four years ago, similar storm had brewed in my mind. But love and positivity of Jaya and family were like big raindrops which reduced the fierceness of the storm. When life takes sudden twists and turns, you feel as if you are sitting in a vehicle which you are not able to control on a slippery road. But when you know that there is someone very strong and capable of taking the control of the vehicle, your anxieties are reduced.

During that phase of my life, I remembered about a mathematical operation of addition. The word addition by itself is a positive word. During addition, we use the term carry forward! Carry forward is a beautiful way of resolving a conflict. While adding, if the value of sum of the any digit is more than 9, say 21, then we note down 1 and carry forward 2! What a beautiful way to bypass an issue! What a positive way of going forward!

In tough situations in life we need to remember the operation of addition and method of carry forward, all the time. This will help us to never get stuck up! We will be able to overcome the storms, we will be able to overcome the typhoons! We will never get stuck up with a question, what to do? We have the great option to carry forward! This attitude teaches us never to ask the proverbial question, “Why me”?

My dear friend, this is just the beginning of the storm in your life; but the storms usually end with rains that cleanse the surroundings, and make the atmosphere fresh and happy. Take a deep breath, you have already overcome many small storms in your life. Those small storms may have been in the form of not getting to attend a college that you wanted to go to. It could be about your secret crush getting married to someone else! It also could be about not able to achieve some professional goal! These storms can be compared with strong waves that keep on coming relentlessly on the seashores. The waves in the form of challenges keep on coming, these waves maybe prelude to a small storms or issues. But you have learned the art of surfing elegantly on these waves and overcoming them with the attitude to carry forward! Take the challenge. While learning to surf, I am sure you have gone down below the water surface once in a while, but have strongly come out, always!

You have the support of a strong family, your friends and your good intellect! All these are like protection gear that you may have while walking in the heavy downpour. Maybe your socks will get wet but those can always be changed. My experience is that during tough times, you suddenly get a support from heretofore dormant friends or someone close in your family! There are such gems hidden in our society! Accept support and help gracefully, but if you are already overwhelmed with such support, politely indicate that their support will be taken during the next storm, if required.

Was I shaken because of the storm in my life? Was I depressed because of the health issue? I don’t think so. In today’s times with modern diagnostics and treatments available, the possibility of being cured of health issues is pretty high. I know of a young lady, who was forced to take 100% oxygen support due to some allergy issue. When I initially spoke to her, she was a bit despondent. But over a period, she was able to overcome her difficulty completely, thanks to medicines, support and ability to surf on the strong waves without going under! I once explained to her that shortage of oxygen is like some water going in your nose, while riding the waves! It is a temporary phase in life! But the fighter in her overcame all such hurdles! She started improving with positive energy she started getting due to her fighting spirit.

My dear friend, I am looking forward to seeing you ride the waves and combat the storm, the way you handle other issues in life! In fact, I am looking forward to seeing you as a big boss in some modern organization.

Sanjay Dutt! An Enigma!

Shashi Kapoor and Sanjay Dutt are both Punjabis who have been movie stars. Comparison ends there!

This is the dream sequence song from 1951 movie Awara, picturized on Sanjay Dutt’s mother Nargis; it’s a real dream song to the core. On the other side, the life of Sanjay Dutt is a nightmare.

Normally, I would not have written anything about Sanjay Dutt. He is just one of the many film actors, and he is still alive so there is not going to be an obituary. But then why am I writing about him? Recently a biopic, Sanju, was released on life of Sanjay Dutt! I thought that biopics are films which tell us the true story about the person, warts and all! Ranbir Kapoor has played the role of Dutt. Reports say that he has acted quite well and has picked up the mannerism of Dutt correctly.

When any movie is produced by Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Rajkumar Hirani combine, it is expected to reach certain standards as proven by Munnabhai MBBS and Three Idiots. Business wise, Sanju has done exceedingly well. It has joined the so called 200 crore club, already! It has excellent performance by Vicky Kaushal, as Dutt’s friend in the movie; it is felt as if the role was written keeping Vicky in mind.

Movies are part of our modern lives and it is an industry where hundreds of crores are spent, earned and lost. In this industry, hundreds are working and taking roles in real life of top actors to sweepers at the studios. For every successful artist or a technician there must be tens or hundreds who never made it. We only see the glamour part of it but we never know the tough times they go through. Successful people of the yester year, were equally crazy about this profession and have mortgaged their homes to produce the movies.

Till the end of last century, movies were more about dreams  of individuals and stories were also dreamy and mostly were not real-life stories. In the current century, the near real-life stories have been used to produce movies. So, when I started reading about Sanju, and that the combine of Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Rajkumar Hirani are producing it, I was looking for an epic. Epic it is, but it is in showing lack of guts! Sanjay Dutt is one spoilt human, who had everything going for him. Illustrious parents, who both became Members of Parliament Sunil Dutt and Nargis. When Nargis died at the age of 51, to cancer, Sanjay was 22 years, not a baby or of tender age by any means. Both the parents were known for their love for the nation and were known as good humans.

Dutt

I will not bother about the correct dates and chronological order of the events that took place in Dutt’s life. My question is why the producers did not have the guts to show warts? The meaning of Biopic is a biographical film! When you decide to make a film on a controversial subject like Dutt, is it right to hide the ugly parts from his life? Is it right to blame the media for portraying Dutt as a terrorist? As if Dutt was a real saint! Is it right to hide inconvenient parts from his life?

The film lacks the risqué in its telling. It’s too safe and apologetic in its tone. Movie claims that Dutt was wrong; sure, but most of it is a figment of imagination, concocted largely by the media, harps the movie time and again. Unsubstantiated newspaper reports claimed that  he had RDX at his house, which resulted in him being branded as a terrorist. So, in Dutt’s life, the villain is Media according to a biopic endorsed by him. Was AK 47 captured in his home a figment of imagination?

The film also hides his first wife, Richa Sharma, their daughter by marriage Trishala! What was the need to hide these things? His affairs with many top actresses are also not mentioned. Okay, a film can have only certain length but so many important aspects of his life should not have been pushed under the carpet.

As a human, I am not sure how to rate him. Years back when Jaya and I were traveling back from Delhi, he came to the same restaurant as we were in, at Delhi airport. As film buffs, we did manage to take a photo of Jaya with Sanjay! Even then, he did not show any warmth, or a smile. Maybe he was tired at the end of the day! But it is their job to show, even if falsely, that they are happy all the time, in public! They are celebrities after all! That is the price they have to pay as celebrities.

The popularity of the film Sanju is way up there! It has done big business. Why did this happen? I think when people go to watch any movie they do not bother about what I have discussed here. They don’t care about truth or hiding of the truth! They don’t bother that this person had at least some hand, maybe indirectly, in Mumbai bomb blasts. Why did he think that it is appropriate to have AK47 at home? To save his sisters from rape? The family honour? General people don’t care about all these points. That he made hundreds of calls to people who were known terrorists and were directly involved in bomb blasts, is simply immaterial to the general public, when they go to see a movie! They probably want to forget about the real-life stresses, to go into a dream sequence. After all it was Dutt’s mother Nargis who gave us a treat of the great dream sequence song “Ghar Aya Mera Pardesi”. People simply don’t bother! I have written about two actors who died in the recent past. Shashi Kapoor and Sridevi. The title of my blog about Shashi Kapoor was “ Shashi Kapoor-The British Punjabi”.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2017/12/07/shashi-kapoor-the-british-punjabi/

This guy, Dutt, has similarities about being a Punjabi and being in movies. But that is where the similarities end! Shashi Kapoor was a thorough gentleman and a good human being. Dutt had advantage of starting at even higher station in life than Kapoor, but he has messed it up, starting with drug abuse and getting involved with terrorists! For not being honest to their craft, Rajukumar Hirani and Vidhu Vinod Chopda come down two notches, as far as I am concerned!

About paying public, they care two hoots about morality and truth! As long as they like what they see, they don’t care! They come to see the dreams! It is for us, the so called intellectuals, to discuss threadbare Dutt’s life, maybe over a glass of Chivas Regal!

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.  

 

 

Full Positivity!

Come out of tough situation with full positivity!

Human body and mind are most complex things in this world to understand. In our body the design, the reactions, the capability to absorb physical as well as mental shocks is un believable! We sail through the life following different trajectories as per our destiny. But we do not know where it is going to take us. The destiny may lead us through our life with routine ups and downs but in some cases life can be full of major ups and downs. These ups and downs can be by way of illnesses, accidents, business upheavals. Each person will handle it in a different way.

A friend of mine went through a major upheaval almost 25 years back. His wife had paralysis attack and her activities have been severely restricted since then. He was working full time, his children were young and needed parental support. Luckily, his mother has been staying with them. First few years were tough for the family but they adjusted to the realities of life. It is easy for outsiders to say a few encouraging statements once in a while but it is the family that has to handle the situation. My friend managed everything beautifully. His daughters got married, he has grandchildren but the most fascinating part is the smile on his wife’s face. Whenever we meet, the smile on her face puts one at ease. We know how tough the life has been for her. She and her husband obviously decided to face the problem head on instead of shying away from it. I am sure when they came out of the immediate shock, they must have said, “It is not only the health issue but it is the issue related to the whole life. Unless we try and get the completely derailed life back on track, life is not going to be what it was. I am sure they both have worked very hard for the same. Both their faces are always with a smile. Adding to difficulties, now his mother is around 90 years of age so he needs to support both the lovely ladies, he of course has support staff but I am sure the smiles will be there forever! That is because they tried and successfully found a solution for the whole life! Hats off to the family!

I have another friend who also had a paralysis attack a couple of years back. His one side is paralyzed. Naturally he took some time to come to terms with the condition. Last time we met about six months back, initially he was not really comfortable even meeting us. But we met him again recently. As soon as we entered his house, we could see the change in his demeanor. He was smiling, he looked fresh and he chatted with us with enthusiasm. When I asked him how his new treatment was helping him; he explained that the lady who is giving treatment to him has told him that his whole body is being treated for improvement rather than only the paralyzed area. She has told him that to come out his problems, his whole body needs to synchronize and improve rather than only his damaged areas. After understanding what he said, a thought came to my mind. Will improvement only in body condition, improve his life quality? He should also try to improve his social life to the extent possible. Then I asked him, ” Why don’t you come to my home after a couple of weeks?” Initially both he and his wife were a little hesitant. But then I discussed with them the logistics. We ultimately found a solution. Then I explained to him why I am discussing this. I said, ” The lady has told you that it is not only the damaged parts of your body, but the whole body should synchronize. Taking this logic further some trials in socializing will take your recovery further as a whole. So it is the combination of our body and our mind is what makes the whole life!” He liked my thought and said, ” Pramod , I will definitely come to your house.

I also want to touch upon another important aspect of life in such situations! It is the person who is unwell, who takes the major brunt. But lest we forget, the person supporting the unwell person also shows great character. Handling the unwell human being for months and years is not easy. At the same time, this  person cannot discuss openly his or her feeling. They are not “allowed” fall sick. They have to keep on doing things with ever smiling face. They also show toughness in such situations. They are like infantry in the army taking the full-frontal brunt of the situation, day in and day out! In such situations, the person who is unwell and the person who attending have both to be equally positive, if not more in case of support person. In case of ladies, who tend to share some tears in tough situations, cannot even do that, to look positive!

Friends, I hope none of us have to go through such phases in life. I can say this from personal experience. When I went through cancer treatment in 2013/14, I have seen how Jaya struggled to support me. For one full month, I was required to be fed through rice tube. My first feed would be at 5.30 and my last feet ended at 11.00 pm. The feed was every three hours. I have seen Jaya juggling to handle the situation. At some stage, we took a decision to avoid even receiving phone calls. Though we knew that people were concerned about me, taking phones and responding was a task by itself, adding further to Jaya’s burden! But let me tell that Jaya handled the situation “womanly” yes pun intended; it could not be “manly”, men cannot do this with such an aplomb!

One thing all of us can do is to help others in best possible manner without intruding their private space. But don’t feel shy, do it! There have been others who supported Jaya! In tough situations, as the saying goes, only tough can get going! Rest assured, we have it in us, just do it! Only full blown positivity can encourage you to do it!