Stop gazing at the chair!

 

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Historically, the Lion Tamers in circuses died young because at some stage even Lions used to forget that they were tamed, and the instincts took over. In those days the tamers used to have a whip their hands, but the whip was mainly for show. Once the instincts took over, the show was also over! Clyde Beatty was the first Lion Tamer, born in the early part of the 20th century, who died at the age of 60 because of Cancer.

He did something right in his job. Along with the whip, he was the first person to use a chair during the show. He would use the chair, and it’s four legs to divert the attention and focus of the lions during the show. The lions probably were trying to concentrate on pouncing of the limbs- in this case, four legs of the chair; but their concentration was wavering! As Clyde would always move the chair, the Lions became indecisive as they could not focus on their wish to pounce on the limbs. Before the chair, it was the Tamer’s limbs!

Many a time, we are in the same position as that of the Lion. How often do we have something we want to achieve (i.e. lose weight, gain muscle, start a business, travel more) – only to end up confused by all of the options in front of you and never make progress?

 It is especially true in health, fitness, and medicine, where every person and company seem to believe they must make things more complicated. Every workout routine you find is the best one. Every diet expert says their plan is the optimal one. That frustrates us to no end because while all the experts are busy debating about which option is best, the people who want to improve their lives (you and me) are left frustrated by all of the conflicting information.

The result is that we feel like we can’t focus or that we’re focused on the wrong things, and so we take less action, make less progress, and stay the same when we could be improving.

I will tell you about how I did things. I started walking exercise about 25 years back. Initially, used to walk briskly 5 km every day. A couple of times, I had some issue with my ankles, I took the advice of an Orthopedic Surgeon. Things worked out quite well. Later I started to go to the gym too. During some gym exercise, I started having some issues with my knees. I again went my Orthopedic doctor. He advised me which exercises not to do! I asked him if I should stop walking for some time. He advised me to reduce my speed and the distance for a month. But he said never stop the exercise. Your body starts getting comfortable, not doing exercise, and you start losing focus on what you want to do.

Other than medical advice, he ensured that I did not lose focus on my main aim, to exercise. That is the key to any situation. Whatever we start doing, there is a chair being waved in front of us; this hypothetical chair is the various options we have. Different methods can be followed — multiple means of achieving your goal.

Most of the time, the ability to get started and commit to a task is the only thing you need to do to focus better. Most people don’t have trouble with focusing. They have trouble deciding. Those are the famous four legs of the chair. The legs are a metaphor for having different ways of achieving our goal.

Sometimes we need to do some task which must be completed. As per normal tendency, we may procrastinate but ultimately complete the job. Successful people follow this method. Additionally, they get a feeling which is described as a gut feeling. The gut feeling is nothing but rationally comparing various ways and taking a decision at the right time, instead of delaying the decision. The chosen path maybe 80 % efficient instead of a higher %. But since the action starts on whatever we want to do, the work gets completed.

A gut feeling can also be compared with something we usually see on expressways. When we reach a toll booth, there are multiple lines of the vehicles waiting to pay the toll. We use our gut feeling, which lines to follow. You win some, and you lose come. But some people win say 80 % of the times. We call them “lucky people”. We feel that these people are lucky; they always end up into lines which move faster. But these are the people who use the gut feeling; they must be using the same decision method in their work situations too!

Life isn’t a dress rehearsal. Whether you know it or not, you’re already in the ring. We all are. Most of the time, we sit quietly, gazing at the chair in front of us, silently debating about which leg is the most important.

Nowadays, I have changed my strategies for what to I do in the gym. When I joined a gym recently, on the first day itself, I told the instructors not to worry about what I do; I told them I would do what I want to do. Before joining the gym, I had discussed with Atul, my nephew, who is also my physician. He told me that now the purpose of going to the gym is different. He said, “Mama, at your age, the muscle atrophy starts. What you should do is your warmup, then treadmill which keep feet mobile (I have some dormant knee issues) and then do the weights. The weights may not reverse the atrophy, but weight training slows it down, and you will feel better. Select the weights that your body tells you are suitable for you. Never overdo it.” I follow his advice to the last T! I also do something practical. I take 5 kg weights in both hands and walk for about five minutes. It has helped when I go out and buy things. I can carry my bags easily. I can also remove my carry-on bag from the compartment on flights. I don’t need any help.

If you have somewhere you want to go, something you want to accomplish, someone you want to become… then make a decision. If you’re clear about where you want to go, the rest of the world will either help you get there or get out of the way. Both of those are useful.

You should think and decide, but there is a goal you need to achieve. Something that’s calling you, something that’s important to you, something that you’re destined to do. I don’t know what it is, but you do. Swipe the chair out of the way and choose it.

Just a coincidence!

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I reached Montreal on the 29th August and published a blog “Home sweet home!” My friend Ram, who is currently in the US, wrote to me, “Hey, you just reached Montreal today, and writing about Sweet Home!” Ram, as usual, it was an incomplete blog, which I had started a couple of weeks back. I just found an appropriate ending when Deepti wrote about missing the sweet home! I simply used the sentence.

Many of my blogs are written based on a sentence or a phrase! Some of these instantly create a chain of thoughts in my mind, and I end up writing the blog. While going through the list of blogs, I found some blogs that matched the way I have described above.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/09/14/nisi-nisi-bonum/

The Latin phrases De mortuis nihil nisi bonum and De mortuis nil nisi bene [dicendum] (“Of the dead, [say] nothing but good”) indicate that it is socially inappropriate to speak ill of the dead. The long-phrase is abbreviated as Nil nisi bonum. In English are often used some aphorisms, which include: “Speak no ill of the dead”, “Of the dead, speak no evil”, and “Do not speak ill of the dead”.

The phrase was used in the movie Lawrence of Arabia. When I heard this sentence, many thoughts came to my mind. I was confused if this is right or wrong. The first thought that came to my mind was why we should speak badly about anyone! You may not be on good terms with someone, but there is no reason to bad mouth that person. As against this, should we praise someone, who did terrible things in life, ad nauseum after death? As Nisi Nisi Bonum is true, so is praising someone over the top is also not good.

An industrialist in Pune died sometime back. He made his money by manufacturing and selling products which caused cancer. With money, he became a society leader. He opened a hospital to treat cancer patients. On one side, he manufactured addictive products that caused cancer, and on the other hand, he built a hospital to treat them. Cynics called that hospital “Customer complaint Center!” Was it right to follow such a business model? Was it right to glorify such a personality after he died? People could have simply declared sorrow due to his death, but there was no need to call him “Gem of a person”! Or talk about his charitable work.

 https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/03/22/turn-into-cotton/

The blog is about a statement made by Raj Babbar. Sometime back he was the president of state Congress in UP. In one of the reorganisations, he was removed from the post and made a plain member. When he was asked his reaction, he quoted from a Hindi poem by Kedarnath Sinhji.

The lines roughly get translated as below.

When I entered my home today, my mattress offered me its resignation — telling me that it wants to become the original cotton, that it was to start with, anyway! It indicated that it wants to go back to its roots.  

It was a beautiful way of accepting life as it came. In sports or job, one retires when the time comes. But in the public domain, it is not so easy. One gets a lot of power as well as affection, (or enemies!). To walk away from it, is not as simple as the lines of the poem.

Humans have inherent and intrinsic capacities and properties within them. No one is born at the top of the heap. People work hard and reach the pinnacle of their life, but life’s vagaries bring them back to where they started. People move to different destinations in the world, physically and by their achievements. But the beautifully solid lines tell you to be ready to come back to roots.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2017/10/21/pet-the-whale/

The blog is about people looking at life differently. I have shared a story of a group of people who went on an excursion to watch the whales from close quarters. As they reached the place where whales could be seen, something different happened. These people could have easily touched or petted the whale; they were so close to the boat. But none did that. All were very busy taking videos and photos of the whales. After coming back to the shore, someone asked them, “Did you Pet the whale?” All had missed the great opportunity. They were busy taking photos and videos. In life, we tend to lose the real purpose of what we are really looking for, but we tend to capture things for posterity. In the false enthusiasm, we tend to miss the happening moment. We lose absorbing The Moment!

We had been to watch Pelican feeding time at the Entrance beach near Sydney, Australia with Pradhans. We did take some photos, but most of the time we observed how the birds arrived and landed like aeroplanes, how all of them raised their neck synchronously to watch fish which was thrown in the air, their feed! What a beautiful sight it was? These memories are etched on our mind instead of on our camera!

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2017/10/31/dance-of-the-seven-veils/

Below poem by Oscar Wilde is supposed to be the origin of an erotic dancing style. It is, of course, not true!

She freed and floated on the air her arms

Above dim veils that hid her bosom’s charms…

The veils fell round her like thin coiling mists

Shot through by topaz suns and amethysts.

The “Dance of the Seven Veils” was a term used by a father, in a book I was reading. The sentence was meant to describe the behaviour or thought process of the 22-year young man while he ogled at a beautiful nurse in the hospital, while recuperating .

It was a veiled way of describing the thought process of a man. The term was also used to describe a dance where the lady’s sensuous body is under the veil of seven layers of clothing. The lady removes these veils during the dance, which could be described both as sensuous as well as erotic. During writing this blog, it brought in my mind many layers of coverings that many fruits have Jackfruit, Coconut, Mango, and many others. The word seven veils also brought out thoughts about the human mind. The complexity of the human mind could be compared with the seven layers, and in many cases infinite layers. Very rarely do we know the real person, though that person may be close to us. Different situations bring our fascinating aspects about humans same as the dance does about the woman’s body in the Dance of the Seven Veils!

Ram, writing of blogs is a complex as well as a simple process. It is like our life. We humans by nature are simple creatures, but our situation, our environments are complex. Each simple individual reacts differently in his own simple way, which on crisscrossing become complex!

See how I converted a simple query by you, in a complicated blog! Cheers!

Quackery! The Modern-Day Phenomenon?

 

Quack2Quackery is a dishonest practice and claims to have specialised knowledge and skill in some field, typically medicine. The World is full quacks for a long time. Along with quackery, we should also combine the word sucker- sucker is a gullible or easily deceived person. Quacks and Suckers are joined at birth. Because there are suckers, we have quacks.

Till about a hundred years back, medicine was not developed by today’s standards. The doctors in those days would merely manage patients rather than curing them. Hence, the doctors were not considered as deities, as some of them appear today. Yes! With modern drugs, diagnostics methods and improved surgical procedures and knowledge, good doctors are like gods, who bring patients back from jaws of death.

Ok, I am not saying that this pathy or that pathy is good! I am talking of many individuals, who though not doctors, claim to cure you of cancer, of diabetes; some promise pregnancy to women who find it a complicated and unachievable process. The latest fad is the dieting industry. Somehow, I am not comfortable with the dieticians who are not doctors by basic training. Similarly, we see trainers in the gym, who have a bit of knowledge about gyming but should not be guiding people with medical issues.

Why do people fall prey to such people and practises? There are several reasons. Some of the quacks are marketing experts with excellent body language and oratory. On top of this, they glibly say things or don’t say things. Consider the case of Mukesh Ambani’s son. He had a significant health issue, and his weight was uncontrollable. Some time back, he moved to the USA for a couple of years, and a whole team of doctors guided the dieticians, trainers and the team to help Junior Ambani to come back to normal. He has come back to normal, but to me, the main reason for success was Ambani’s will and determination. There has been a rumour going on for some time on WhatsApp that he was cured by a celebrity dietician from Mumbai. The dietician has never denied the story! Why would she?

The same dietician offers annual wellness group retreat in Darjeeling. It is a seven-day program of which two are travel days; for balance five days the charges are Rs.2.1/ lacs. You need to reach Bagdogra on your own. As the saying goes, a sucker is born every minute. I am okay even if she charges Rs 5/ lacs for the program but what wellness will you get in five days. It’s a holiday under the garb of a wellness program.

In the dead of winter in Pune when the temperature is around 6 /7 deg C, a Yoga Guru used to have free Yoga camp. People would go there in hordes and attend it for ¾ days. I am okay with this because this Guru never claimed anything, did not charge any money. He was encouraging people to follow Yoga. I checked with a few friends who used to attend the program; they never did Yoga ever through the year! But at least they were not cheated.

Then there is a story of asthma cure in Hyderabad. A family from Hyderabad many years back declared that the GOD had told them that they should offer a particular asthma cure to the general public, free. The family supposedly had a secret potion, a paste, which they would put in the mouth of a tiny fish. The fish was then pushed through the patient’s throat. Again, since it was free and there were no side effects, I don’t care. But I met a friend who was singing paeans of the treatment. He said that he had been going for the procedure every year. I asked him, “If the magic cure is supposed to cure asthma, why do you go every year?” He is still upset with me.

When people have some severe body condition, the quacks try to take disadvantage of the situation. They play with their emotions. They make them follow the incorrect path. The person with difficulties falls prey to glib talks and methods. We read stories of women who go in desperation to some Gurus, as these women cannot get pregnant. The Gurus take advantage and convince the women to sleep with them or sometimes forcefully sleep with them. If the Gurus are lucky, then the women become pregnant. The Gurus become more famous and get more and more women who take “treatment’ from them. Women, obviously, don’t share the rape part with anybody!

Sometimes, some of the quacks advertise miracle treatment on cancer, hypertension, and what have you! Even modern allopathy treatments are not able to cure many of the ailments. But these quacks have a cure for everything. But the suckers go to these quacks, try out stuff for a year or maybe two with no results. In the meanwhile, the body condition has worsened. Some people die! There was a news item of a patient who was taking treatment on piles, from a “doctor”. After a year he got so fed up, the patient went to the “clinic” and stabbed the doctor to death!

Today the medical skills available are unbelievable. After knee replacement, the patient is asked to try walking a few steps within 24 hours. After bypass surgery, the patient is asked to walk on a staircase in a matter of days. When such skills and expertise is available, why people go to quacks? When a doctor suggests to you, about diet, I am okay with it because she will know the effects as well as side effects of the same. But the problem is that some non-doctors make tall claims. These claims are like Ponzi schemes in the finance market. Double your money in next six months. The quacks talk of curing Cancers and Aids; they speak of patients who reduced 50 kgs in two months, and so on. Now there are bariatric surgeries available which help in lowering weights drastically. Why not try these instead of going for a Ponzi scheme? I have no issues about people offering pricey plans at resorts. There are suckers, so why not? But from what I understand, their treatments are not risky, and they do not make tall claims.

I will share an exciting story; not all mass cure schemes are frauds. Near Rishikesh, in Northern India, a “Doctor” was running a mass clinic where thousands of people went every day to be treated for Epilepsy. He would charge them nominally. A team was sent by the Indian Medical Association to check the claims made by the “Doctor”. The Doctor met the team, and he explained his working.

First and foremost, he was a medical doctor who was trained at a renowned Institute in India. He realised that not all epilepsy patients needed modern-day drugs. So he started a drug manufacturing unit. The drugs manufactured were from the era of 1950-60. These drugs had come out of patent issues. He gave these drugs to all the patients. Around 60 % of patients got cured with these drugs. Placebos cure ten to fifteen % of patients, is a proven fact. So at least 70% of his patients got cured. According to me this a good record when we consider hundreds of patients, he was checking every day!

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Friends, by all means, try alternate methods of cure! Homoeopathy, Ayurved do cure various ailments but remember, they are no cure-alls. But Allopathy has the maximum chance of curing complicated diseases. So, don’t play around when you have severe health conditions to handle. For Jaundice, there is only Ayurvedic cure, so similarly, Allopathy is the treatment of severe diseases. Don’t experiment! Go to dieticians for weight control by all means. But if you weigh 124 Kgs, get yourself treated under medical guidance. One can always try alternative medicine along with the primary treatment! But don’t get driven by Chelation treatment for heart conditions, Magnetic Band treatment for joint issues. These are unproven, and the chances are that these clinics are run by people who are not supposed to handle such difficult cases! One more important thing, to avoid minor side effects of Allopathic drugs, don’t go to quacks. You will be worse off!

Don’t waste efforts on being Happy!

HappyCycle3

World over there is a considerably large industry called Happiness Industry or Being Positive Industry! You must be wondering after reading the title! Has Pramod gone bonkers? He looks like a positive guy; he always writes about being happy. What has happened to him? My usual pursuit of knowledge allows me to read different thought processes and documents from the world over. Initially, I was also surprised to learn some reports which said that our default status is not about being happy.

As per the Brazilian poet Vinicius de Moraes, happiness is “like a feather flying in the air. It flies light, but not for very long.” Happiness is human thinking, an abstract idea with no equivalent in actual human experience. Positive and negative effects do reside in the brain, but sustained happiness has no biological basis.

Humans are not designed to be happy or even content. Instead, we are intended primarily to survive and reproduce, like every other creature in the natural world. A state of contentment is discouraged by nature because it would lower our guard against possible threats to our survival.

Till we became an organised society ten thousand years ago by learning to farm, there was hardly any difference between humans and other species. Let us not say that humans were technically advanced compared to others. Look at the nests built by the birds; they are technical marvels. Look at the gut feelings of animals; many animals understand if there would be an earthquake shortly. Dogs can detect mines and drugs! Each of the species had their specialities. The common aspects were reproduction and survival instincts. Let me assure you the life was not easy then and it is not easy now!

I have recently written a blog about Happiness, and I thought that there is no point in writing details about happiness.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/07/16/happy-happy-we-shall-be/

The survival in olden days was from the severe nature, other animals or predators. Humans, with their intelligence, came up with many inventions and found some defence mechanisms, helping them survive more easily. But mind you, you have to endure still or survive. Even in the twenty-first century, we sight tigers and cheetahs in the Pune district. My son, Sachin, was saying that even today they have to be careful about Bears that are sighted in greater Seattle area, especially during winter.

Survival in olden days was from drought and floods. Is the 21st century much different? Today, there is a drought-like condition in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra, even though half the monsoon is over. Last week a train full of water tankers was sent to Chennai. Assam and Bihar are facing severe floods due to heavy rains. People have been dying due to floods and may die due to drought too if sufficient monsoon rains don’t come.

So some population is in survival mode all the time. Have we forgotten about poverty on the terra firma? Development does bring prosperity, but still, a large number of people world over are poor! Survival against nature, other species to a small extent, and poverty is the requirement in the so-called modern world. Happiness is there, come on, I am not a pessimist! But it is there like a golden ray of the sun coming through the dark clouds! Happiness is a fleeting moment in our lives.

Friends let us not forget that happiness is that fleeting moment; it is like the flying feather taking a small flight before settling down. Our default status is a bit of struggle most of the times, surviving and reproducing. Is reproduction an easy path to glory? Yes, it is glorified as coming together of two human beings in a sexual act. Then there is that long struggle of nine months for the lady. The sexual act is the fleeting moment of happiness! The expected new arrival is a delightful moment for the couple and the family, with nine months of looming struggle. Morning sickness, too much weight gain in some cases, unexpected medical conditions like diabetes during pregnancy are the tough things the lady has to survive. Have we forgotten birth? It is supposed to be the toughest event in women’s life. If it is not natural birth, then it is the C-section and recovery from the surgery! In the whole gamut of struggle, there is that delightful feather taking the small flight, the newborn!

Each era has its tough times. In the four centuries between 14th and 18th, there were wars everywhere. The relative peace in between this time and the 20th century was a struggle against diseases, the world over. Hundreds of would die of plague, cholera and typhoid. There was no cure. Patients were managed by the doctors and not treated. Modern medicines were yet to come. The relative peace of this period was followed by World War I and World War II! The WW II ended with the dropping of nuclear bombs in Japan. Millions of people died in these wars. But war forced the world to look for cures to injured soldiers in wars. Sulfa and Penicillin were discovered in this period, gave humanity the miracle drugs! These dugs again brought the smiles and happiness back in our lives. Then one after another modern surgical and diagnostics methods have come. Has it brought permanent or long-lasting happiness in our lives? The answer is no! Yes, some cancers are now getting cured, but many new uncurable ones are getting detected. Alzheimer and Dementia are seen more as longevity has become the norm! So in between periods of survival, happiness is achieved.

HappyCycle1

What am I talking? Am I saying that you can be happy or you cannot be happy? Only thing I am saying is that happiness is there in life; don’t be after it. Don’t get driven by slogans to spend your money on books or programs. We are happy and sad in cycles. After a routine life sometimes there are events in life which make you miserable. The sadness does not last forever!

Similarly, after the sadness period, there could be routine drudgery, then there will be a sudden period of happiness! Both happiness and sadness are cyclic, and their cycle will go on. Happiness starts with the arrival of the new one. (don’t forget that the mother has given her nine months of tough period to achieve happy times of her life.)

In today’s parlance, I will give an example of this cycle. Your child grows old enough and takes wings to fly the world over, the way you wanted your child to go! You are happy, but then comes the usual drudgery of their life and their slowly become professionals. A grandchild is born, you are happy! But are not happy that you cannot see it immediately. Life goes on with happy moments, sometimes sad ones too! Then suddenly, your child can come home for a few days (please note that it is your home, not the child’s home) for a few days; there is happiness. Life goes on and on!

HappyCycle2

Happiness and sadness are two sides of the same coin called life. To your surprise, you will find that this is the only coin that stands on its edge most of the times. Only for a small duration, it becomes flat depending on the which type of event we have in life; happy or sad! Do you know that after some time has passed, the coin automatically stands on its edge, the phase known as routine life?  Don’t worry; I have not gone bonkers. Be as happy as is possible! You cannot tell the clouds to give space for the sunlights to come out; similarly, your mental phase happy or sad comes when its time has come.

Cricket World Cup 2015 final!

Today the 2019 cricket world cup has started. The event took me back to 29th March 2015 the day on which the final was played for that world cup. It was played at the MCG in Melbourne, Australia. For the records, Australia beat New Zealand by seven wickets. I had been planning to see the live final for a long time, and we could finally make it to MCG. This is neither a blog nor a travelogue. I am just sharing my memories with you.

It all started in an unplanned way, as usual. It was the end of February 2014, and I had just completed my cancer treatment. Since I had nothing to do, I was surfing on the net. I looked at world cup cricket details and found that the ticket window had just opened. I asked Jaya, “Should I buy tickets for a Cricket match.” She said, “Let us not rush into it. First, you recover from the treatment, and then we will see.” I said, “The match is much later.” She gave a go ahead. I bought the tickets for MCG for the finals. She was surprised but happy. She thought I was talking of an IPL match!

Well, I informed Ranjith, who lives in Melbourne about the tickets. He sent a message to me that one of his bedrooms was booked for us! We decided to take Delhi-Melbourne, Air India flight. At the immigration, when they saw that we were travelling to Melbourne, there were no questions but a great bonhomie. The folks told us to return back with the world cup! Our family friends Dr and Dr Mrs Harshe had also travelled for the match. On our flight, there were about 40 people who were going for the game.

By the time we reached Melbourne, India had lost the semis to Australia. But our spirits did not dampen; the final at MCG was the calling! Many people had travelled from India with the hopes that India will reach the finals, but it was not to be! The D day arrived. We were about 6 km from the stadium. Two of us, along with Ranjith and his family, decided to travel by Trams. People were encouraged to use public transport to avoid traffic jams. We had to change the Tram at Flinders railway station. All the Trams were jam-packed, but the rush was not “felt”, but the atmosphere was created! Weather was sunny, but Ranjith had advised us to carry a jacket because the weather was expected to turn cool during the second session.

Cricket4

Our walk to the stadium was about half a km after the Tram ride. But never even once we felt the great rush or any chaos. Everything was very orderly. I was wondering how many people were going to attend the match. Each person had to get the barcode on the ticket scanned for the turnstile. There were many entry points, and it did not look crowded at all. I was surprised to know that the attendance was 93103! So many people, but there was hardly any rush, jostling or pushing anywhere, starting with the Trams, the turnstile, the eateries, the washrooms! At the end of the match, the spillage of beer was the only indication that so many people had attended the game; that too, because people carried six beer glasses at a time! People sitting next to us were New Zealanders and chatted with us a lot as we were also backing New Zealand.

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The match started with McCullam getting out in the first over for zero! He was in top form in the tournament, and his failure led to New Zeland scoring a very non-competitive score of 183 which was overhauled by Australia losing only three wickets. (If you remember, in 1983, India had won against West Indies in the finals, after scoring 183) Johnson and Faulkner took three wickets each. Elliot scored a graceful 83 for New Zealand.

Since us desi folks were hoping that India will reach the finals, 20 to 25% people for the match were Indians. They were fully prepared for the game, musical instruments and all. After the game, a few troupes danced a great bhangda outside the stadium.  During prize distribution ceremony many greats and dignitaries were present. Longest clapping and cheers were obviously for Sachin! He is extremely popular in Australia as he has always given them a high competition even in Australia!

What was my take from this match? Humans are all the same where ever we go in the world. But public discipline in Australia was excellent, as expected, the desis also behaved in a disciplined manner, while in Australia. What happens to many of our brethren when they come back to India is difficult to judge. With ninety thousand plus people, the cleanliness in the toilets at the end of the match, and general cleanliness in the stadium was to be seen to be appreciated. Australian backers were throwing expletives towards the New Zealand players while the match was going on. Those who were a little high because of too much beer were a bit too excited but were kept under control by their friends. But overall, the proper play was appreciated, and the Cricket’s four-year jamboree was celebrated by all!

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On the way back to Pune, we had planned to see the 2019 world cup final, but alas, it is not to be! Maybe in 2023?

At the peak of happiness!

Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is fairest of them all? This sentence is from the Snow White fairy-tale. Her mother wants the mirror to reply. In the German language, the fair is interpreted clearly as “beauty”. But English interpretation is a little different. Fair in English is about the colour and complexion of the skin. Even in the white race, the “fair” or with the paler skin or blonde is considered more beautiful. But when we talk of the weather, fair means pleasant weather.

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Similarly, a question came to mind, who is the happiest of all? What is the meaning of happiness and what is our interpretation of happy? Happiness is a feeling or showing pleasure or contentment. The same question can be asked to happiness mirror. Who is the happiest of all? The obvious answer is the babies. Their primary needs are food and sleep. If they get their feed, on time, they have the least of the worries in this world. They will go to sleep when they feel sleepy irrespective of what is happening around them. But then we don’t remain babies, all our life.

I get a feeling that the older people would be the happiest among all groups. I am sure that you have already thought that Pramod is getting older and senile. But look at the things from the view of old people. Old means old, I am young as I will complete 70 this year.

Thinking like an older person is thinking about resilience and focusing on “what is”, as opposed to “what is not” — accepting your mortality by not being so afraid of it. When you are older, you view the time horizons in front of you differently. You understand that the days are finite, and we might as well enjoy the ones we have left. The waking up in the morning and saying, “Thank God for another day” is an indication of accepting the truth. I had read a joke about old age. A person tells his friend, “Look, buddy, my doctor told me the other day to think positively. He said that if you wake up and find that you do not have a single aching part in your body, safely assume that you are dead. Don’t bother even to get up!”  That was the doctor’s way of telling us to accept the facts of life.

As we grow old, we tend to forget some things, but it is selective forgetfulness. I was treated for cancer from December 2013 to February 2014. I was required to take 34 Radiations along with Immunotherapy. These caused me body rash, cough and a lot of pain in the neck, no pun intended. I took a lot of pain killers in those days. But I don’t remember these things much; I only have a vague memory of the trauma I faced. Selective forgetfulness is the gift given to us by old age. A study says that we become forgetful, but we forget more adverse events from our life. The corollary to the phenomenon is that we become happier. We also learn over a period that bad things in life are not special treatment meted out only to us. Everybody goes through different situations. Knowing this does not reduce the effect such traumas have on us. But it reduces impact knowing that it is a common problem.

You come to understand that the quality of our lives isn’t based on the events of our lives. It’s in reaction to the events in our lives. That’s a useful thing, to realise “I don’t have control over some of the events in my life, like the weather, but I actively have a say in how I respond to the weather.”

Which is the relevant keyword in our thinking? Happiness or Choice, to me it’s “Choice.” It’s declaring that you won’t be defined or determined by the circumstances of your life. You have a say in this. That declaration is liberating. That liberation is happiness. Happiness isn’t just the thing you choose; it’s the act of choosing it that makes you happy.

There are various things that we can do to improve our thinking and quality of life. If someone has depression, it is a condition that needs to be treated and not something that will go away by thought. It also won’t ensure that you will have a better future. But positive thinking will make sure that you look at at your life in such a way, that at your current situation feels happier. We should focus on “what is” and not “what we don’t have”! The younger people always think oppositely, as they believe that life is infinite!

To understand happiness at a particular stage, a person needs to be of that age. We were all children at some stage; hence we know what makes children happy! But when younger people interact with older ones, they don’t understand the real needs of the old people. We say that this old man or a woman talks too much. The issue is that as you grow older, you get less and fewer opportunities to talk.

On top of that, one can have hearing issues. So, the conversation can become difficult. Very few younger people will understand these issues, but many times it is the younger ones who decide the needs of older people. At old age, if people develop the ability to accept life’s realities, life’s experience is much more enjoyable. These people don’t need to fight hard to achieve their targets, as their targets are always short term targets. They know their financial and physical limitations and need to accommodate within whatever they have!

Friends, people of my age group sometimes have family responsibilities. But the older group does not have any such issues. Try and make the lives of older people happier. On my way to the gym, I see an old man sitting in the home premises watching things. Once I went and chatted with him for 15 minutes. He did not want me to go. He is 95 years of age and had most of his faculties intact. Near my home, there is an old people’s home. Once early morning, I had gone out to take some photographs. A group of three old people was chatting outside the gate of the home. I stopped and had an interaction with them. I could get away only after an hour or so. All of them wanted to talk; it appeared that it was their primary need. They called another friend who came out, and also joined the chat. From their face, I could see that they enjoyed the conversation very much. I was only asking a few questions to take things forward.

I am confident that older people are the ones who are the happiest in their lives provided they get the right atmosphere and the proper support. Their needs are minimal; others need to find some time for them! Don’t forget that we are also going to reach that phase at some time, hopefully! So, it will be a good idea to propagate such a thought process in society! Let us make a beginning somewhere !

Dental Gum!

For this blog, I have used the title as Dental Gum (गम in Hindi). गम in Hindi means sorrows. People usually connect dental treatment with fear, pain, and sorrows. First, let me make a disclaimer or two. 

  • My daughter Priya is a Pediatric Dentist 
  • I had my first dental treatment at the age of 65, that too because I went through cancer treatment and had 34 radiation sittings. I was treated for dental caries. 

I somehow have the feeling that a person’s dental health quality is hereditary! My grandmother could eat raw mango (Kairi) easily in her eighties. I have the same ability, but I have a way to go.  

I chose the subject because I read an article about horror stories about dentists, in the US. Well, as in any field some people do not follow the ethics and can be called black sheep. Making a general statement about any whole group of professionals is incorrect. But not that I am not going to tell any horror stories (as I have taken dental treatment only once), but I will share with you some anecdotes shared by Priya with me.  

First things first, I have been brushing my teeth only once a day, I don’t do any flossing. I have never used any special brushes or toothpaste. I have had my share of chocolates and ice-creams, colas and candies. I have a sweet tooth, but now I don’t consume these things. So my heridetary theory should be ok!

Once I asked Priya about her young patients. I asked her, “How tough is it to handle the kids on the  chair?” She said, Baba, once my patients get confidence about me, they are straightforward to handle. It is their mothers who are difficult to handle. 

I am going to share anecdotes about patients, their parents, general situations in dentistry. Sometimes it is funny, many times it is surprising, but probably human behaviour remains very similar in different situations.  

Priya was treating a fouryearboy. He was very cooperative, but sometimes he needed a kid-glove treatment, pun, of course, is intended. One day he came inside, goggles and all; a la Salman Khan. He was a big fan of Salman. He came inside, sat on the chair and Priya started the work. After about ten minutes he signalled to Priya to stop. Priya stopped and asked him the reason. Without replying he indicated her to allow him to get down from the chair. Priya complied, he got down. He put on his goggles, put both his thumbs in the trouser pockets. He danced to the tune of the Hindi song, “Hud Hud Dabangg, Dabangg; after a couple of minutes, he stopped, climbed back in the chair and signalled Priya to restart the work! 

Some patients are too busy to take their kids to the doctor. There was one such lady, the same age as that of Priya. She always claimed that only time she could get her child to the clinic was 8 pm on a Saturday. After all, she was in IT. She would always tell Priya how difficult it was in IT and so on. Once the lady came almost twenty minutes late for the appointment and Priya had her next patient in another clinic. They met on the staircase; the lady started her usual dialogues of being in IT, but her hands were full of stuff bought in the malls. Priya apologised and said that she could not treat her child as her next patient was waiting at another clinic. The lady was upset, and before she could start her diatribe, Priya told her, “Look, I am a doctor, and I don’t know anything about IT. But let me share some personal information with you. My mother is handling Nvidia operations in Pune, my father runs his software business for the last 15 years, and my elder brother is working in Microsoft at Seattle for some time. So, there is a possibility that I may know a few things about IT, by induction. One more thing, when I was a child, my parents used to take me to doctors, whenever it was needed, without bothering about time and the day. Thank you!” The lady never spoke about IT stuff with Priya again. 

One lady came with her child. The child was fitted with a crown, and the child was not supposed to eat chocolates for obvious reasons. While eating the chocolate, the crown came out and was misplaced. Priya told her, “ I had told you not to give chocolates to the kid. Why did you not follow instructions?”  The treatment was done, and the crown fitted again; when she was asked to pay the money, she simply refused to pay saying that it was Priya’s fault, chocolate was incidental. Priya let her go and instructed her team not to give an appointment to that patient again!  

The next episode could be an incorrect diagnosis or was it the socalled horror story; I am not sure! I felt that it was a case of the wrong diagnosis. An eightmonthold child was brought to the clinic; Priya was surprised, as generally such small babies rarely have any teeth. The mother told her the following story. A couple of days back while the mother was cleaning the babies mouth, she saw a gold tooth in the baby’s mouth. She took the baby to three or four doctors, and all of them said that the gold tooth needs to extracted; treatment needed to be done under general anaesthesia. Since the baby was very young parents were not too keen about the procedure. Somebody suggested to them Priya’s name, and they came to the clinic. Priya looked at the child and saw what was inside. She had a small instrument in her hand. She put the instrument in the babies mouth and plucked the golden “Tooth”; it a piece of gold that was stuck in the baby’s gum. Out came a small earring. Priya gave it to the mother. It was the mother’s earring; she had never realised that it was missing. Somehow it had fallen and went into the baby’s mouth and became the “Golden Tooth”! The tears of joy came in the parent’s eyes! The father asked Priya “Doctor what will be the charges?” Priya said, “No charges; I am happy that I could do this without any anaesthesia”!  

How trial by media can affect a professional career can be seen in the following anecdote. A child was being treated by a dentist. He checked up with parents if any medicine was being given to the child. The mother said that they were not giving any other medicines. The doctor gave the local anaesthesia and started the treatment. After some time he felt that the child was becoming listless. They rushed the child, to the next door paediatrician. From there they rushed to the hospital. But the child died. The trial by media started; the newspapers showed the doctors name and the photograph of the clinic. The baby’s parents gave statements and hid the fact that there was another treatment being given to the child! The medical council did its investigations and in the end, found out that the dentist and the paediatrician had followed the correct procedures. But all the media trial and photographs in the newspapers made life very difficult for the dentist. He left Pune and moved to another city!  

Friends, life can be exciting, rewarding and tough at the same time for professionals. But some times, one loses control over the situation, and things do get haywire. Customer is always the king or a queen; the kings and the queens also can go overboard and need to be told so. But at the end of the day, professionals have to remain true to their profession and continue to perform! Don’t forget to show the smiling face, especially when a child is being treated.