It’s Never too late, Pradeep!

pradeepgavankar

Our life is about people. It’s about our family, friends, acquaintances, and business associates. There are of course some people whom you meet during your travels! It is difficult to say how and why these relationships go forward in life. But sometimes you wonder why certain relationships did not blossom! Why did they not go to the next level? As usual, when we can’t explain something, we call it destiny. Yesterday 15th January 2019 was an important day in my life.

A couple of weeks back my friend Ram told me that our classmate, Pradeep Gavankar will be in India; he lives in Houston, Texas. I was thrilled when Ram said that another friend Milind is coordinating a lunch meeting with a group of friends so that Pradeep can meet them. I was, of course, thrilled and decided to go to Mumbai for lunch. I had no other work but to meet friends.

The thought of meeting Pradeep, face to face almost after 45 years took me down the memory lane. I had met him last when I attended his marriage. Later on, we were in touch randomly. A couple of times I talked to him on the phone when I had travelled to the USA. There were a couple of email exchanges, but I was always keen to know what was happening in his life.

It is interesting to know how I got in touch with him pre FB and WA days. One day I was surfing on the net, and I came across the photograph of Amol Gavankar. Amol was a student then. When I saw the photo, I saw some similarity with Pradeep. So I wrote Amol an email, “ If Pradeep is your dad then I am Pradeep’s classmate”. A couple of days later Pradeep wrote to me and as I have said that we have been in touch sporadically. Once we discussed about the death of our common friend Dilip Marathe. But still, the communications has remained on and off type. Honestly, there was no reason for this type of contact, but it continued that way.

Yesterday when we met for lunch, we had a lot talk and discuss and update. Let me tell you why I am thrilled. Pradeep and I go years back! We used to be neighbours, when we were in, now what can be called today, as Lower KinderGarten. If I remember correctly, it was a school run by a lady called, Avantika Kelkar, if I am not mistaken! We lived in the western suburb of Andheri in Bombay. I distinctly remember Pradeep and our homes! In late ’80 s of the last century, I had gone to visit another friend Sharad, in that area.

I made a round of the colony where we had our old homes; I was surprised to find that they still existed as old structures (which made me sad!) From Andheri my father was transferred out of Bombay, and I am sure both of us did not even understand the meaning of losing touch. My father later came back to Bombay, and I joined Ram Mohan School in the 7th grade. I lived in an area Dhobi talao, famous for its cricket maidans, and also renowned for brutal killing police officers in 26/11 attack. I started catching G3 bus for school, early morning at 6.15. Somehow I knew that Pradeep was in the same school. On the second day, I met a guy my age on the bus, he also went to my school. He took the bus before my stop. I asked him if he knew Pradeep Gavankar; I had asked this question to Pradeep! It was again the quirk of the destiny that brought us back. We passed our SSC from the school, and both of us joined Elphinstone College! Pradeep stood first in our school in the board exam. Post Inter Science Pradeep joined VJTI, and I came to COEP Pune for engineering. We used to know about each other on and off! I always have this question how did we keep track of people before the Internet? Pradeep invited me for his marriage. I attended it in Bombay.

While in school and later on during education, I used to go to Pradeep’s home in Colaba. It had a lovely terrace, and we used to have the fun, but I don’t remember what used to discuss and play. Later on, they moved to an area called Bombay Central. I visited that home too! I remember that Pradeep’s father was an art professional.

Though we were not in touch all these years, I had a perfect image of Pradeep as a person. The studious (in school he was known as a scholar!), a gentleman, soft-spoken, mature (even in school days) and of course mischievous. When we met yesterday, we were discussing my cancer treatment. He asked me, “Is rest to your throat not recommended? Oh! Sorry, that is out of the question! Nobody can ever tell you that”, he said with a smile!

Pradeep, let me tell you, now that long lost friends have been found, there is no way I am going to let you go missing again. In Cricket parlance, we did have a couple of innings but did not utilise them to score runs. But now in this new innings, that too in our Golden Period, let us not let go each other and have fun! As usual, I will be boisterous about it, and you will enjoy in your quiet fashion.

For records purpose, Pradeep went to the US and Graduate Studies in Civil Engineering area. He is a renowned expert in harbours and other such areas. I am yet to get a full update on what he did Professionally. Rest assured that I am going to fill your inbox with links for my blogs. Pradeep, I know that a human has to write his quota of words during his lifetime. You did much more than what I am doing these days, during your education and professional work. You know that half the time I used to be in punishment mode while in school, standing outside the class! Destiny seems has caught up with me and making me complete the writing quota!

We got ourselves yesterday connected on WhatsApp when Pradeep sent me our photo (displayed at the top) taken during the lunch yesterday, and he captioned it as “Long lost friends!” My reply to him was

“Hey Pradeep, it was great to meet you and chat with you. But it was like we were given the wine for approval  before giving the go-ahead to serve our Dom Perignon! So let us makeup and finish our bottle of wine. I know the cellar is full of many more vintage bottles. Here is a link for word document where links for many of my blogs are given. Choose what you like.”

https://1drv.ms/w/s!Aq4ckSwupy2SmbgiEwplNlSwoIT0qg

I really mean it Pradeep, and my travel to Mumbai yesterday was really worth it! So long friend till my next message or the next call!

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Shifting Milestones!

I was chatting with my cousin who is 72, three years older than me. They had taken a ten-day holiday to Vietnam and Cambodia. He said the youngest person in their group was 65! Of course, 65 is young, today! In our life, we have different milestones like births and deaths, education and work, marriage and children and so on. But there has been a tradition to celebrate when people reached certain age milestones like 50 or 60 or 75. Celebrating the hundred-year milestone is a rarity even today.  

When I was in school, celebrating the 50th birthday was a big event, and 60th was a significant. The importance of age milestones in our lives is decided by the average lifespan in society! Average life expectancy till the ’50s in the last century was well below 40, before 80’s it was below 50. It crossed 60’s in the year 2000! Currently, it is 67 and expected to cross 70 in the year 2050! Use this link to get details. 

http://www.me-jaa.com/October2015/LifeTable.pdf 

Now that the boring statistics are done, they were essential to know the meaning of celebration of 50th and 60th birthday while I was in school! Achieving these age milestones was indeed an event worth celebrating. When we talk of average expectancy it means the average age at which the people are expected to die; the people in families who can afford to eat healthier food, get better medical facilities and a cleaner environment, lived longer. It was no surprise to know that in my family, there were five deaths between 1976 and 1980; only my grandfather died at 89, all others were around sixty or below. These figures generally matched of the life expectancy of that period or were slightly above expectancy level. 

This indicates that the life expectancy in the type of families I have mentioned above has definitely gone up to 70 plus now. Better medical facilities of current times, have increased cure rates of cancers and heart attacks, it won’t be a surprise if the expectancy age crosses 80! Wow, this is extraordinarily rapid progress in a short period of 20 years. What could be the reasons other than those already mentioned? One definite and significant reason is the much-maligned social media! The FB’s and WA’s of this world have definitely helped. What the media has done is that one could locate old friends and foes alike! One could identify ex’s easily in the privacy of their own accounts.

In the old age in modern society, the first phase of the post-retirement period passes with fun. You really don’t have to wake up early every day and go to the office. (You can sleep in the afternoon too!) Being away from the grind is fun. At the same time, you may want to do things for which never got enough time. You travel, you meet friends and see places. But as the years pass, there can be some limitations which may come up with some deterioration of health. This is where the problems start coming up. Younger people from the family may not have time for you; maybe they live in different cities or countries. Not everybody can keep themselves happily or productively busy. Then you start feeling cut off! This is where social media has helped, provided it is used correctly.

When people start becoming lonely, they lose interest in their lives, and some even lose the will to continue to live! Social media has helped a great deal in last ten to fifteen years to provide the reason to get keen to meet “friends”, it has increased enthusiasm in people to chat/talk with each other. You always have something to look forward to when you wake up every day! Social media shares with us an enormous variety of music, songs, articles and videos!  

How did social media really help? 

  1. Friends 
    1. It has never been easier to make friends than it was before. Just a few decades ago it was pretty tough to connect with people unless you were the overly outgoing type able to make conversation with anyone at a party. 
    2. The rise of mobile phones helped change this, connecting people in a new way, but then social networks sprang up, and the whole idea of friendship changed again.  
    3. It’s entirely possible to have hundreds of friends on Facebook. They may not be friends you know on a personal level and spend time within the real world on a weekly basis. But they’re friends nonetheless. There are several people I consider friends who I have never met — in fact, I may never meet them — but that doesn’t lessen the connection we have thanks to social networks. 
  2. Empathy 
    1. Each of us spends a little too long talking about ourselves on social networking sites, even if we’re casually surfing. Which is perfectly natural. We’re sharing our lives — the ups and downs, the twists and turns — with people we think will care. 
    2. They generally do care and will tell you so. Friends will listen to what you have to say, and help you deal with any problems you may be facing. Your near  and dear ones do not have time, you interact with newer ones! 
    3. The point is that by all of us sharing our experiences, both good and bad, on social networking sites, we’re able to empathise with each other. A friend may have gone through a similar ordeal that you are currently going through, and they will be able to help you get through it. 
  3. Speedy communication 
    1. I really don’t have to say about this. It is a revolutionary change and is really inexpensive. 
  4. In touch with the world 
    1. You remain in touch with the world through most of the times virtually. Such relations honestly are not very close but between shallow contact and good (virtual) contact with the outside world and latter option is always better. 
  5. Building relationships 
    1. There is no doubting that social networking sites can lead to the breaking up of relations. But there is another side to the story, which is that people are moving onto other, perhaps better, relationships. Social networks can put you (back) in touch with people who you have lots in common with, and that common ground is often the starting point for long-lasting relationships. 
    2. As painful as breakups can be, they can sometimes be the right thing for all concerned. What’s to say that the new relationship, founded on the steps of Facebook, isn’t the one that will last? Even if it doesn’t turn into a spectacular coupling, it could be the friendship that is needed at the time. Which has to be a positive thing. After all even virtual friendship also keeps positivity. 
  6. Finding common ground in an open society 
    1. As previously mentioned, social networking sites can help you find people you share interests with. Facebook, for example, asks you to list who and what you are interested in right from the start. This makes it much easier to find common ground with other users. 
    2. Keeping key personal information private is necessary, but sharing your likes and dislikes, interests and obsessions, and thought and views actually contributes to an open society. 

Social media when used correctly is a companion, free of cost and with much fewer efforts. In 2018 we have read about security breaches on social media, but checks do evolve over a period. It might be a good idea not share things that matter, e.g. your bank details etc. But there is no harm in publishing your likes for dramas and books, hiking and playing musical instruments. You will make more friends. You get wide publicity to show and share your talent with others, free! Blogging is a classic example of this. 

This is going to definitely increase life expectancy in society. There will be more and more people celebrating the age-related milestones, past 70 and 80. All the time there are going to shifting milestones. I will end up with a small suggestion on my favourite topic.  

Friends, by all means, celebrate 70th / 75th   and 80th birthday. It is a matter of celebration. If you are going to spend Rs.1/ lac on the party, try and prune the budget to say Rs. Ten thousand. Give away remaining Rs.90000/. Ask your friends and dear ones to donate the money they were going to spend on you, to charities! Azim Premji has set an example in his son’s marriage. He gave the amount equivalent to collective gift amount given by friends and dear ones, to charities! Thank you, Premji for setting a great example.     

 

 

 

 

 

Emotional Turmoil!

While writing two blogs about my friend Prakash regarding the major catastrophic event he and his family had gone through, I never realised the emotional turmoil I was going through. My endeavour while writing is always to make the least number of errors, both grammatical and factual. For this purpose, I had to refer to the book written by Kavita about the event, a few times. Every time I skimmed the book, the reading process did some more churning in my mind, as I read a few paragraphs. The pictures of what the family had gone through kept floating before me.  

Today’s blog came up as I read a news item in today’s newspapers, which rekindled the old memories and reminded me of the story of another friend. This story is again very touching! This friend of mine was a friend from my Bombay days. We were neighbours, he was one-year senior to me. As was typical of those days, we spent evenings playing tennis ball cricket on their terrace. He came from an upper-middle-class family, had a well-appointed home, went to a convent school. These things of course never came in between our friendship; honestly, I never realised his financial situation in those days. His father was our family doctor, so when the doctor was at home, we would be a little under pressure! The friend was ever smiling, but he was not what can be called as a mixing type.  

As so happens, we lost touch around the time when I was in tenth grade. A few years later, I moved for my engineering course to Pune. One of my classmates had also moved to join the medical curriculum at Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) in Pune. Once when we went there to meet my classmate, I bumped into this old friend, who was also learning to become a doctor. Our friendship was renewed, and we kept in touch intermittently.

As our education was getting completed, I heard that he got engaged to his classmate. I was so happy for him. Then came the news, later, that they had broken off! Later on, our friend went to England and settled there. Another 45 years passed as we again had lost touch. Once I was scanning the Facebook and searched for my friend and lo! There he was! I sent him a private message. I, of course, called him by the nickname from childhood. I shared my email id with him.  

A couple of weeks later, I received an email from him and was I happy! He said, “Pramod, it’s sheer luck that I got your message on Facebook; I was about to close my account on Facebook.” Then he gave details.  

He became a surgeon and lived in Northern England all his life. It appears that he did not travel much to India. He did quite well financially. He did not marry, he never explained hence I never asked. Then he was reminiscent about Bombay days. Our school days full of tennis ball cricket in the evenings. When it became dark, we would chat about everything in the world, until we were called home. Our email exchange continued sporadically, and we became comfortable with each other.  

Then in one of the emails, I shared with him how I went through Cancer treatment, end of 2013! Since he was a doctor, I shared with him as many medical details as possible. His reply was very positive and helped me to understand some more things from a medical perspective. I was surprised by his in-depth knowledge about cancer. He was a surgeon, but he was not an Onco Surgeon. From his next mail, I understood the background about his depth of knowledge. He had also suffered cancer of the throat region and had gone through massive doses of chemotherapy. Then he revealed a piece of very shocking information.

He wrote, “Pramod, after taking treatments for a few months, one of my doctor colleagues (who was my Onco surgeon) had a “doctor to doctor” talk with me. He said that the chances of my surviving beyond six weeks were remote. Why don’t you inform your family?” From what I knew, he did not have much contact with his family.  But he also wrote, “At the end of one month, a procedure was done. Suddenly after that procedure, my health started improving. The doctors have now removed me from the critical list and my current status at this time is “managing cancer”. I may require chemo once in a while as sustenance dose.” 

Well, this is not the story! The story started after this, at least for me! He once informed me that he was coming down to Pune for his medical college reunion. I was thrilled, and I said that we should meet. I told him, “Taj Blue Diamond will be the convenient hotel for you!” He said, “Pramod, there is one issue that I have not shared with you. When I was told that my days were numbered to six weeks, I got my lawyer and liquidated my fixed assets quickly, and I had substantial liquid money too! I organised and distributed 90% of assets to charities. Kept about 10% for unseen expenses, if required, after my death. Now with my health improving, I am seriously short of funds, but luckily, I have a pension! So, I am managing somehow. I came to know about this reunion and decided to attend, probably my first and the last one! So, staying at Taj is out of the question!” 

I thought, Oh, my god! How has this happened? He had many expenses, but luckily his most medical costs were covered under British Medical System. But overall, he was going through tough times. Other than his pension, he had no income. What turn can life take!  As he was past retirement age and in ill health, he could not work again.

This story again put me in severe turmoil, my mind was churning, and I did not know how to handle this. There was no way I could pay for his stay in Pune, he just would have refused.  

There is another twist to the story. I knew the dates for my friend’s stay in Pune. He had said that he would call me when he came to Pune. He did call, but somehow, I missed the call. During that period there were many phone calls to me from unknown numbers. So, I wrote him an email. He wrote back to me saying that he was sad that we missed out on meeting each other in Pune. He was back in England.  

After this episode, the frequency of our communication has dwindled down to a trickle; this has nothing to do with missing each other in Pune. My last couple of emails have remained unanswered. I must find out about our friend, and I hope that he is doing alright.

I am still very uneasy! Emotional turmoil continues!

Hats Off!

I read an article about a song and dance program held in Cipla Center of Palliative Care, in Pune. The article was written by the lady who was the main performer. She knew that this centre gives palliative care for Cancer probably terminal patients. The program was for the entertainment of these patients. She was apprehensive as she had never done this before. She was wondering how these patients will accept her program. The program was to create the joyous atmosphere in these patient’s lives. She reached the venue and the hall started filling up with patients. Some walking in, carrying their own drips, some coming in the wheelchairs. Then a few beds were brought in. The lady was awed by what was happening and she did not know what to expect. Patients were brought in to the arena on gurneys and transferred to their beds!

The program started and the rhythm picked up! Some of the patients started blowing whistles, as is the tradition in Tamasha songs. People started clapping and shouting. The peak of the show was when one of the lady patients, lying on an inclined bed started moving to the rhythm. She was very ill. She was wearing a Saree. In her bed, she did some sensuous movements using Pallu of her Saree! What courage? What attitude?

Here was a lady, very sick. Maybe terminally sick and I am sure she knew it! But she was not only enjoying the moment but her attitude must have given encouragement to other patients. It is such people who make this world a great place to be in! These people are the beacons of society. The lady did what was unthinkable though at the back of her mind she must have known that these were her last months on the earth. How do such people have the courage to look death in the face? Yamraj must have thought after tracking her activity, why not keep this lady on this earth for a longer time and make earth a better place! I am writing this based on the article written by the performer. I do not know anything about the lady but I feel like getting up and to go and give the lady a hug! Hats Off Mam!

Hatsoff2

We have read about historical accounts where people have reacted bravely knowing that their action would result in an imminent death for them. The battle of Sinhagad fort during Shivaji’s time is the classic case. Tanaji and his cousin Suryaji attacked at night and climbed the treacherous fort using ropes. In the battle, Tanaji died and Suryaji took over. The soldiers panicked and started to run back towards the ropes. Tanaji’s uncle Shelar mama cut the ropes. Soldiers had no option but to come back and fight. Marathas won that battle. Shelar mama took the action of cutting the ropes thereby he took a grave risk where his own life was also in danger. He knew that they could lose and that he would surely get killed. But he was not afraid of this eventuality. He took this decision knowing the grave risk to him. Such people make the armies that win the battles. Picture of Sinhgad Fort below.

Sinhagad

There was the similar battle of Pavan Khind. Shivaji Maharaj was trapped on Panhala fort and decided to try and escape to Vishalgad. But his escape was found by the enemy quickly. They started hot pursuit to capture Shivaji. Baji Prabhu Deshpande suggested to Shivaji to move further and waited at Pavan Khind which was a narrow pass. He fought with a small army and fought the enemy till Shivaji reached Vishalgad. When Shivaji reached Vishalgad he ordered two gunshots to be fired as a signal of safe arrival, to Baji Prabhu. Baji Prabhu though was severely hurt fought valiantly till he heard the signal. His death was imminent but still, he volunteered to save Shivaji. Painting depicting Pavan Khind battle.

PawanKhind

Next is one example which gives me goose pimples, even thinking about it! This is about a friend of mine Prakash. He is a happy guy but I never knew that he was made of steel! Rather his mind was made of steel, his body was not! He has been trekking and used to travel all over India. After completing one of his treks, he was returning to Delhi to fly back to Pune. After the episode, he remembered that there was some scratch mark on his right hand which started the episode. He ignored it as he thought that it was a scratch due to something pointed from a bush.

As he reached near Delhi, he started feeling very uneasy. Within a matter of hours, he realized that skin on his right-hand was looking different. It looked very harsh and gangrenous. His hand looked shocking to the naked eye. He reached Delhi and went straight to the airport and wanted to travel back to Pune. Airline staff correctly refused to take him on the flight. He spoke with home and within a short period of time things got organized. He immediately rushed to a major hospital where some family friends also arrived. Luckily the correct treatment in ICU was started immediately. His family travelled immediately to Delhi but I am sure that nobody was prepared to the saga that was to unravel!

He was diagnosed with Necrotizing Fasciitis (Flesh-Eating Bacteria)! One of the rarest things that can happen to humans. The death rate in such cases is as high as 30%. He was lucky to be in Delhi where excellent doctors and facilities were available. The link below gives details of this condition.

https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/necrotizing-fasciitis-flesh-eating-bacteria#2

During the treatment, most of the flesh from his right arm, about 3 to 4 inches from shoulder, had to be removed and bones were totally exposed. Doctors could arrest the progress of the attack. What happened was simply horrible. A normal person would have been extremely nervous, could have gone into depression. But not our Pakya. He and his family took it in a very positive way. Just guess how much time it took for the arm to get to almost normal? About 4 years maybe more! His arm was rebuilt stage by stage with plastic surgeries. I am sure you will agree with me that Pakya is made of steel! I will just share one detail which will show Prakash’s grit and determination. During the final rebuilding phase of his hand, his right hand was stitched, yes stitched to the stomach for a couple of weeks so that proper skin grafting could take place!

What makes such people so strong? We read a lot of war stories where kids in their early 20’s show valour that will make any society proud! What gives them the inner strength? Since Prakash is a friend from college days, I know him quite well. But I never thought that he would have such a steely determination. This strait is only in a very few people and I consider it is my luck and honour that Pakya is my friend! Hats Off Buddy!

Hatsoff1

 

What to do with galloping Technology?

Exponential

The curve above is representative of how technology is developing at a breakneck speed. The title is neither a rhetorical question nor a controversial statement. This thought came to my mind while I was reading about the galloping speed of progress in many areas the humans are making. In the movie “Back to the Future” (1985) the person goes back to the year 1955 using a time machine. The differences he sees are interesting but not surprising. There was nothing exceptionally different or path-breaking in those 30 years. Had the movie been produced in 2015, the time machine would have taken the person to 1985, with 30-year logic. That change would have been exceptional for the person to guess!  What is the meaning of life with no PC’s, no Cell phones, no Internet, no WA, no FB? The person would not believe that life only 30 years back was so different.  

Just imagine that a human being was transported from 12000 years back, pre-farming era, to the year 1500. The cities, the carriageways, farming equipment would be such a big change that this person suddenly exposed to so many changes, might die of shock. A person from the year 1500, will be reasonably shocked to be taken to the year 1750 but he won’t die! How much change can human mind accept and absorb at a time? The rate of change is really galloping in the recent past. Change from the year 1500 to the year 1750 and the change from 1750 to 2015 cannot be compared. Change of scene that we see in the year 2015 compared to the year 1985 is really vast. But the human mind will not be able to accept changes from 1750 to 2015, the person could also simply die! It initially took 12000 plus years for such deadly changes to occur but later it took only 250 plus years for similar deadly changes. We can call such changes as “Deadly Change” (DC).

This comparison tells us that the rate of change is dependent on how advanced the society is at that time, it is the datum level that is important. For obvious reasons, we see terrific changes happening in the Bay area in the USA. We know that such change was happening in the area of Electronics, Computers and the Internet; but along with these changes, it appears that this area may also surge ahead in Car manufacturing as indicated by Tesla! We really don’t know where Apple and Google are the car domain but one thing is sure, they have technical wherewithal, passion and money. All changes are not DC type but the rate of change is galloping.  

If such changes have happened in the first 18 years of 21st century itself, what is lying ahead, we simply do not know. The changes that happened between the year 2000 to the year 2015 could get squeezed to seven years between the year 2015 and year 2022! Enormous changes can happen initially in 7 seven years, then in 3 years and then one year and then one month and then one day! Friends you may think that Pramod is dreaming and writing a fictional scenario of how things will change. But I get a feeling that changes that are going to happen in future will take an exponential curve.

The curve shown above displays the rapid speed at which things are moving.

  1. The rate of change can be represented up to the year 2000 by the slope at value –1 on X axis! What we are going to get in future will be slope after that! The high growth slope at +1 value is due to Microsoft, Google, Facebook coming in the picture during that time period between years 2000 and 2005. 
  2. Our historical perspective has been up to –1 value so we keep on thinking and expecting that the change will always be gradual and slow!  
  3. We are “Old people” of the gone era and I am talking of people in 50’s too! We are stubborn and we say that change can happen only so fast! How can change happen exponentially?  

But something is already happening in the background; you, me and the general public think that AI is something that is shown in Sci-Fi movies. It is for graduate students to take up the projects as a requirement, it is not real life! When we talk of AI, we always think of Robots; Robots are containers for AI stuff. AI is the brain and Robots is the body. When we talk of AI, we always think of computers but do not forget that another area which is making progress in leaps and bounds is biotechnology. The progress in this area is the result of tremendous progress made in the last 30 years; along with this terrific progress is made in the medical field too! These technologies are going to be the drivers of rapid change.

All this lead leads to a question of how much is the shelf life of technology? To me, some will evolve slowly and the concept will continue for a long time. For example, aeroplanes. Aeroplanes have been there for more than hundred years, only major has been jet engine! But no other path-breaking stuff is visualized. The telephone also has been around for a similar time but this technology has also changed slowly. The change now is faster after cell phones arrived on the scene. But now cell phone is really evolving in a different animal, fast! It is getting converted into a personal tool which might do everything for you, from phones to camera, to photo repository, to the music system, to chat system, to a chequebook and a bank! This change has really happened fast in the last 15 years and what form and shape it will take, only God knows. 

Biotechnology and medical fields are progressing rapidly! Last hundred years have seen some major breakthroughs in reining in epidemics. People dying in hundreds of thousands or in millions due to illnesses,  was a norm, in old days! There was plague, there was black death. The systems and the doctors just could not contain them and the way was you die or you run away elsewhere! Medicines and cures were, more prayer and faith-based than science-based. Last fifty years have seen the dramatic change in this scenario; when AIDs became rampant, doctors found basic details about it, in 2 years and now they know that it is an Auto Immune thing and per se is not as dangerous as it looks. A person with AIDs dies with other infections! Had AIDs appeared 500 years back, half the then population of the world could have been wiped out. Ebola came but was reasonably well controlled, quickly!  

This speed is good for humans but technology changes in day to day stuff can be difficult to handle with galloping speed. We have seen in front of our eyes, pagers come and go, so did fax! Cameras with the film are a history and music pieces can be composed in two different continents and a song gets created in the third continent.  

Some of these changes, humans will handle well and others can be tough to absorb. The working population will have to get themselves reskilled every ten years (am I too optimistic?) or perish. You can’t become a banker and a chartered accountant and work lifelong in the same career. Block Chain technology may eliminate such concepts! Experts may make a lot of money by the time they are 40 and may want to retire! And do what? Some young friends of ours are already contemplating this scenario.

Average Deepak or a John did not have face Cancer or Heart Attack because he never lived that long. With better products, diagnostics tools,  and cures, better solutions from biotechnology, the lifespan of Deepak and John is increasing rapidly. With better cures, these dangerous diseases are also more controllable and many times curable. Now more people die of old age instead of dying due to illnesses.  

Friends, I am very positive that humans will find a way to handle these galloping changes but some thoughts and concepts will change on their heads! Don’t be surprised if you meet a banker friend of yours after ten years and find him growing organic farms or has become potter of beautiful ceramics! We always find our path, some find it quickly, some find it late and some don’t find at all! Darwin’s theory of “Survival of the fittest” is one thing that will never change!  

 

 

 

Procrastination!

काल करे सो आज कर, आज करै सो अब | 
पल में परलय होयगी, बहुरी करेगा कब ||

This is a famous Doha (couplet) by Sant Kabir. He has said that if you have to perform some important task, why wait for tomorrow, do it today; then why wait for today, do it just now. But the modern Doha would be, if you have to perform a task just now, do it later today. If you have to perform a task today, then do it tomorrow; what is the hurry buddy, there is day after too!  This picture below is the perfect definition of procrastination.

Procra4

What Kabir has implied is that for some important work, if you delay it, then what will you do, if some catastrophe takes place and your important work could get delayed or you may never get the opportunity to do it again. In Hinduism, there is a concept of rebirth. If some things remain pending at the time of your death then, one’s soul will remain dissatisfied and will not be able to transcend into the next yoni. Procrastination can be bad for both body and soul!

See the slide show below which throws further light on what I am trying to say.

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There are of course funny sides and serious sides to this problem. We assume that people procrastinate simply because they are lazy but it is not as simple as it looks. There many reasons for this issue and of course there are solutions. But we need to decide that we WANT to do it.

The reasons for procrastination are

  1. Perfectionism
    1. Perhaps you are worried you might make a mistake in your work and expose a weakness. The fear of making mistakes is a real thing, and it can cause people to put off some of their important obligations for another day.
  2. People forget that they can learn from mistakes. Why not try?
    1. This means that they avoid doing certain tasks because they fear the risk of making a mistake and looking anything less than perfect. They want their work to be perfect. Because they believe that they will inevitably fail if the task is not in line with their given talents, it is best to set it aside for another time.
  3. Fear of the unknown
    1. This is a natural reason and sometimes valid, but we must not forget that it is not going to be helpful
    2. One might see a growth or a mole somewhere on the body. The person is afraid to get it checked from the doctor for the fear that it may turn out to be cancerous. But will postponing or delaying going to help?
    3. This can happen due to half or lack of knowledge too! Somebody might tell you that cancer is hereditary; nobody has cancer in my family so why bother? Cancer is not curable hence the fear but there are some cancers which are curable if treated on time.
  4. A similar thing can happen in a relationship also. It could be in love, it could be with friends or the boss. There are some issues which need to be resolved, by delaying them, the issues are not going get resolved.
  5. I will do it later
    1. One always thinks, “Oh, I am little tired just now, let me do this task, two days late.”
    2. But it may so happen that after two days you really be tired and one will go in an endless loop
  6. Working on small tasks because they are easier
    1. This is pretty obvious
    2. Humans look for a path of least resistance
    3. We might look for small pending tasks to perform instead of the one which needs to be done.
    4. More the time and effort the task is going to take, the more the thoughts of procrastination will come in mind
  7. Lack of Motivation
    1. Lack of motivation has many reasons. But we need to check the priority of the task you are trying to do; and the effects of not doing it or delaying it
    2.  Fatigue
    3. Lack of confidence
    4. Negative surroundings
    5. Wrong environment
    6. Other priorities
  8. No clarity as to how to get started
    1. Sometimes problems are too complex so one gets confused
    2. Try and put things down on paper point by point
    3. See which are the points you are confident about
    4. Take help or guidance from someone for points which you think are tough
    5. Remind yourself that putting off things is not going to complete the task, in fact, the delay might lead to some more cascading problems
  9. You get distracted
    1. In modern times following distractions come in the way. According to the study, people spend 35/40% of the productive time on distractions
      1. Email
      2. Text Message
      3. Social Media
      4. Phone Meetings
      5. WhatsApp
      6. Others ……………
  10. The knowledge that task is hard work and will require efforts
    1. Working on a long project can be really difficult because of the amount of effort that it takes to finish. There are also opportunity costs along the way where you have to give up something you would rather be doing to get some work done on your project. This often leads people to lose their motivation and choose to set aside their projects for a later time.

There can be many reasons for postponing things that need to be done. One of the most important would be to judge the risk of postponing a particular task. If the risk analysis says that it should be done, then it needs to be done. In my first job after a few years of good work, my boss tried to make a contract with me which was unfair. I had to act immediately or I would have got stuck. I met a professional contact who was a big boss in another factory. He immediately offered me a job! I saw the risk of not acting quickly. When my voice tone changed suddenly five years back, I went by the guidance of my ENT surgeon and within a few weeks, my cancer was detected and successfully treated. The fear of the unknown would not have helped.

How to correct Procrastination issues?

How do we correct this problem of Procrastination? Experts say Change Your Outlook, Stop punishing yourself for procrastinating. Tackle your most important task for 15 minutes. Break tasks down into small chunks. Start your day with the hardest tasks. Give yourself a pep talk for motivation. Promise yourself that you’ll get a reward when it’s done.

I am going to give highlights of what can be done to overcome anxiety causing procrastination.

  1. Break your work in little steps
  2. Change your environment and be with positive people, have someone close for discussing things with
  3. Identify when you feel like procrastinating
  4. Talk to someone who has already achieved similar goals
  5. Don’t wait for the perfect time to do it. It may too late
  6. Share with someone what you want to achieve, it will help you to go ahead with the task.
  7. Just do it

There will be many ways to achieve the final goal besides what I have suggested. Similarly, there will be many more reasons to fall into this trap. But to me, point number 7, “JUST DO IT” is the real solution! So friends just do it!

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Medical illiteracy!

Us non-medical people are known for their Medical illiteracy! But my recent experience tells me that people from the medical field are also not far from us, when some event, which does not happen on day to day basis, occurs. At least Jaya and I have a curiosity bug so whenever someone known to us has a health event, which we don’t know much about, we go to Google baba and ask him questions, I think sometimes he gets fed up of our questioning!

Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Health literacy is dependent on individual and  communication skills of lay persons and professionals. 

I was detected with vocal cord carcinoma five years back, I avoid using word cancer, as carcinoma sounds fancier! I was hardly aware of the treatment. The only words I knew were radiations and chemotherapy! Sachin, Priya (She is a doctor)and Jaya took up the googling part and I opted to face radiations! I thought at that time, that one or two radiations are given to attack and hopefully beat the cancer back. Then maybe a few chemo tablets, and I would be done! But that is not how it was done. For my carcinoma, Immunotherapy was a better treatment in place of Chemo. There were 34 radiations! I simply did not know anything about cancer treatment. Ok, I will share with you the knowledge I picked up. 1 or 2 radiations are given as a palliative treatment when the patient is in real pain. But in that case, it is not THE treatment. When the possibility of a patient getting cured is good, 20/30/40 radiations are given depending on factors too complex for me to understand. Various improved therapies are given as newer ones are made available to mankind. Chemo remains cost effective, as it is a well proven old therapy.

Recently, a friend called me to seek an appointment with a neuro physician from my family. His 40-year daughter had difficulty in walking. Our common orthopaedic surgeon friend suggested taking advise of a neuro physician. They took the treatment and the lady is advised a certain injection to be taken, life-long! This lady had finally reached a doctor, five years late. The story does not end here. My friend while talking with the doctor said that he also has diabetes which is well under control. But he also said that he was required to perform dialysis twice a week, most of his teeth are damaged due to diabetes. What is the meaning of controlled diabetes? Do these people give such a low importance to their health? How can they not know about the illness they have after what they go through? Do they not want to accept it? How could my friend say that he has controlled diabetes?

I have chatted with a few friends, who are doctors. The various reasons for the apathy shown have come out. Mainly its human nature to avoid facing facts! If I do my yearly check-up and find that there is an issue, instead, why not delay it by a few months. Some are like butterflies, who go from one doctor to another and keep on going. This they do till they get an advise which is close to their expectation. I know of someone who went to ten different doctors for his cartilage problem. Nine said that surgery is needed, one said let us try medicines and physiotherapy. When asked, he claims that he is doing good, but cannot ride his big bike, his leg pains. Cannot drive a non-automatic car as he is in pain if he is required to operate the clutch pedal.

Then there are some patients, who have monetary difficulties, which is understandable. Some have a marriage in the family so will get themselves operated after the marriage, acceptable. But some will postpone their blood sugar checking, want to do it after they come back from their dream holiday! Reason? If sugar values are bad then they can’t binge on their holidays. A friend is doing Dixit diet, recent “In Thing”, making rounds on WhatsApp! It’s a good program suggested by a medical doctor, with a rider. Take it up under your doctor’s advice. This friend binged on ice creams and sodas and chocolates for a couple of months. On checking, for sugar value found them alarming; in normal course too, he is a dibetic. A month after starting this diet, his sugar values miraculously improved, they still showed that he has diabetes. He is claiming that due to this diet, there was a terrific improvement. The simple fact was that since he binged his values were bad and when he stopped those sweet things his values improved!

Now here is a very interesting story. Here both husband and wife are doctors. The lady is having some symptoms for 15 days. Initially, her husband says, oh you are getting old now. So, to prove him wrong, she would try and show that things are normal. After a few days, her husband says, “See, I was telling you, show positive intent and you will be all right.” She calls Jaya (they are friends) and shares her health issues. Jaya suggested that she should see a specialist. Four more days are wasted in this. Finally, she goes to see the specialist! Both were somehow bent on following their physician’s advice, rather than meeting a specialist. The husband drops her at the clinic and goes for some “important work”; to him she is just making a fuss. The specialist checks her, does some tests. The doctor diagnoses a major health issue and insists that she should immediately get hospitalized. Our friend says, “Is it ok if I get hospitalized later in the evening after my husband comes back?” Specialist insists and gets her hospitalized. She said that 15 days back when the first symptoms were felt, there was a possibility that a major event had started in her body. Fortunately, it has not culminated in a catastrophe. We need to arrest this event as early as possible.

With both being doctors they are expected to have better knowledge. Why they did not want to meet the specialist? In the best case scenario, the result would be a false alarm. But life is never simple. The catastrophe did not happen but her body was hurtling in that direction. How do you analyze this event? What could have led this couple, especially the husband with a casual approach? Even after treatment had started, he did not meet the specialist for two days, to ask details. One day we went to meet her. In the same hospital, we met a common friend, also a doctor! Our friend still does not want to accept the diagnosis, it seems. He told the common friend, “My wife is having suspected xxx!”

Another case was a person who had some uneasiness, he could not use his left hand to get his two-wheeler down from the stand. His left eye looked to be drooping. After a couple of days, he took a decision to see an eye specialist! He explained the details but the doctor felt that eyesight  was ok; the beauty was that the eye doctor also did not realize that something different was happening. To cut the story short he was forced to see the correct specialist. The specialist on checking said that a major event could be happening in his body. He was rushed to the hospital and in a couple of days, he underwent brain surgery; he was fast going towards stroke. In a couple of months more, he needed to undergo triple heart bypass surgery. Ok, I understand that a commoner may not understand that he was going to have brain stroke. But when left eye and left hand were having a problem, he should have gone to a physician at least! Though finally, it was a neuro physician who diagnosed the issue. When the body is near such a catastrophe, I am sure there is a strong signal from the body that something is seriously wrong! But people just seem to miss it!

How to make people aware of such things? How to train them to look for body signals? My worry is if trained doctors can misjudge the situation so badly, non-doctors are obviously going find it difficult. Body or mind has the natural instinct of fight or flight. Why such instincts do not come into act in situations mentioned?

Friends, I strongly urge all of you to be safe rather being sorry! Don’t go by statement that doctors always squeeze you! They only work for money these days. Don’t keep on doctor hopping. Go back to GP concept. Keep on going to the same physician regularly. He or she will always give you the right pointers as they know about your health conditions the best. And don’t avoid or postpone that yearly check-up. Its for us!