Chuck the Screen!

When I was younger, decades back, Screen is what we looked forward to eagerly. The Screen was a tabloid dedicated to Bollywood stuff. Looking at the images of stars in the paper was a treat which we awaited. Naturally, we were keener about photos of the actresses, though Devanand was also a favourite. But this paper was never bought and brought at home in those days for obvious reasons! The publication now exists as a website! 

screen1

Following the societal and technological changes, the meaning of the word screen has also changed. When we talk of the screen today, it is most of the time about cell phone screen and sometimes laptop or TV screen. But in an office scenario, it is mostly laptop and cell phone screen. The proliferation of cell phones in India has happened in the most unexpected way and speed. Now it is almost impossible to find someone who does not use a cell phone. A friend of mine has never used one, but that is another story.  

Remaining away from screen has become a challenge in today’s society. In the office environment, laptop and for some people, cell phone usage is a must. So, in that case, the screen time needed for work cannot be changed. But for some, cell phone usage is not required during work. Once the formal requirement of screen time is fixed, it can be decided how much more time one should spend with the screen. There are many reasons to control this time. Some are obvious reasons, and others are not so obvious. Social scientists say that screen is the latest cigarette! That one should try and remain away from addictive items seems natural. The main reason for this is to retain your focus. We tend to use the cell phone like a cigarette and just pick it up to see that elusive email, or a text or WhatsApp message. We simply don’t know when we start using it, indicating addiction. We need to find out how much non-essential screen time we give to ourselves.  

When we mindlessly pick up that device, we fracture our attention; and some studies say that the time between switching from your laptop and cell phone and back can waste 20 % of your productive time. There may be a lot of dialogue about multitasking, but in real life, there is a wastage of productive time when we are so-called multitasking. In multitasking, it is assumed that we are handling two or more work activities, but when the cell phone screen is not a work activity, then we can imagine the wastage of productive time.  

screen2

There are apps available these days, which track your screen time. Based on the data captured, you can decide how to cut down on screen time. The first and foremost is the notifications settings. Whenever we get a new cell phone, we have default apps. Based on our requirement (and sometimes because someone else said it is good), we install more apps, then more and more apps. Initially, do the audit of the apps you have if you really use them. Uninstall those which you do not need. Some apps may be like your comfort or binge food; delete these apps. As we start using the phone, we see that we start getting a lot of notifications because their default setting is always on. Personally, for me, the calls I receive are critical. Other than the missed call notification, probably my banking app notifications are essential. The important aspect is don’t receive a “ding” with each notification or flashing notification. Keep notifications silent. The correct audit will help and reset will help you in getting the least distracted!  

Track your screen time with the apps. Set yourself realistic goals to reduce usage. Keep track whether you are reducing the usage time. If not, try and analyse why it is not happening? One more thing you can try is, do not let the cell phone become your appendage. What most of us do these days is to carry our phone to bed, dinner table, to the washroom. Where ever we go, we take it as if it is an oxygen cylinder needed for us to breathe. We feel that we may choke if we do not have our cell phone near us. Keep the phone in another room; in the office keep it in your bag if you do not need the phone for work 

In the bedroom, you need to see the time when you get up to go to the washroom. Get yourself a clock and keep your phone in another room. Real phone addiction started with the Blackberry phone with Corporate email application. In those days getting email on the cell phone was a novelty. The honchos would get up at night to do their thing and then keep on going through emails and replying them. Initially, it was fancy to have a Blackberry, but once its novelty wore off, people realised the folly of checking and responding to emails at 3 am!  

To remain away from cell phones, try the detox method which you follow for any addiction. People follow different approaches. For smoking addiction, people don’t smoke at home. Since one is at home for a long time, smoking can be reduced. For the alcohol issue, some have tried a method of taking alcohol only when one travels abroad. It naturally controls alcohol drinking.  

There is one more thing one can try out. Try doing nothing. Doing nothing is not as simple as it sounds or looks. When you do nothing means you don’t do anything. Sit and look at the trees, birds or sky! Look at nature. When you attempt to do nothing, it can become tricky. We are not used to doing nothing. It is possible that we will become jittery and try to look for the cell phone to play around. (That is withdrawal symptom for you!) It is what we are trying NOT to do in the first place. Once you overcome basic inhibitions, you may need to acquire the habit of painting, which you have forgotten. You loved to listen to songs. You went for walks, or you went for a swim. Doing nothing is a starting point of reinventing yourself. Let us not forget that we used to live an active physical life. You were once a voracious reader too 

What is the cell phone for you? Is it your friend or a foe? Do you have a love/hate relationship? Is it more love or hate? What I mean by love is that at any smallest of the opportunity you grab it 

Friends, don’t waste time looking at the screen! During my younger days, looking at the screen was the need of the hour. We could barely see our favourite actress’s photos; watching movies was even rarer! But today’s screens are a sheer waste of time if we use it beyond a particular time The younger generation has more difficulty controlling the screen with hundreds of computer games available.

Lest you have forgotten, trees are still green, birds tweet even today! (The word tweeter has come from this tweet). The sky is still blue, and rain and rainbows are still around. Go ahead and chuck your screen time and have fun! You always did this only 15/20 years backs. I am not the anti screen person. These are technological marvels. But we don’t use them well. We have a WhatsApp group of college mates where we don’t allow forwards. We have so much fun discussing current topics (all non-controversial, of course), e.g. politics/religion and so on are banned. Last several weeks there has been a great discussion going on discussing the World Cup Cricket matches. We got the feel as if we are back to our hostels! There were opinions, suggestions and fights! It was our Adda!

Have fun! Use the technology correctly and enjoy! Don’t become its slave!

 

Screen3

 

Screen3

  

 

Advertisements

WA & FB revisited!

For records purpose, FB started in 2004 and WA began to operate five years later in 2009. First, long-distance voice communication began in 1876 in the form of the telephone; I will not go into a dispute about who was the real inventor of the phone. Cell phones started appearing in mass scale in ’90 s of the last century. FB & WA are the apps that are used on laptops but mainly on cell phones. The rapid proliferation of Cell phones and WA in India has taken the whole world by surprise. No doubt this was aided by the development of keyboard apps in all the Indian languages. You don’t need to know English to use these two apps.

I am writing about the apps with Indian reference. A significant change that has taken place is, the short-term and long-term migration of Indians all over the globe. From my 1971 batch from COEP, almost thirty plus people have migrated. This is about 8 %, and to me this is phenomenal. Currently, the migration percentage has increased briskly; short-term migration is seen more as people go to different countries on assignments.

As both these apps are in use for the last ten to fifteen years, the etiquettes, the pattern of usage are continually evolving. WA says that they have created the app so that people can be in touch using an instant messaging system. They have definitely achieved this and more. Who uses WA and why do they use it? WA is used as a personal messenger, used in groups, by a large number of Indians. These groups are friends’ groups, family groups, formal office groups, alumni groups and so on. In individual usage what people do is their lookout. But on groups rules and etiquettes are a must. In one of the groups, I am in, “forwards” are not allowed. Before WA, forward meant centre forward in Hockey or Football. In India, the forwarding of messages on the group reached a menacing proportion. It was clearly proven in one case that by forwarding messages quickly, some people got together swiftly and cornered a person and killed him because he looked suspicious. Later on, it was found that he was a development engineer working with Google at Bangalore. A few friends were roaming around on the weekend in a rural area near Bangalore. There have been many cases of hoax messages, some vicious rumours were spread using WA forwards.

Let me assure you, not all WA is terrible. Some fantastic things have come up with WA. WA has started a language of its own. It uses short forms and emojis. I am not much of an emoji user, I know about 😊- a wry smile, 🤣- LOL or laughing out loud with tears in eyes, 👍- thumbs up,🙏- in India this is interpreted as Namaste but, in a foreign culture, it is interpreted as High Five, ✈- travelling👏- clapping. I have said about different interpretation of emojis; different interpretation can happen in two different persons too!

I hear that WA is the secret tool for lovebirds, both official as well as unofficial (secret lovers?)! Following emojis must be the language of lovebirds, but my knowledge in this subject is inadequate. 💋👄- Indicating kisses?💘- Lovestruck? 💏-?😘- flying kiss 😍- excited with passion?😡- disturbed?👩‍❤‍👩-?💔- heart-broken💓- love! In today’s digital times, it is no surprise that the language has also become digitised. NTT Docomo of Japan was the first company to start emojis on cell phones. These were created because the Japanese have a fascination for pictures.

Surprising results of WA use are many, I will share a couple with you. We have an alumni group of 1971 COEP engineering students. Some of us lived in the hostels, and our hostel block was known as C Top! (C block top floor) During some trifle discussion on the group somebody wrote a statement, “Long Live C Top”! This one statement drew such a response to the group that a lot of messages started flowing. Many became nostalgic and discussion continued on and on! You will not believe it, but this discussion went on one and a half day! That period was drenched in nostalgia! So many things were remembered, so many stunts, card games were discussed. I copied those discussions and created a pdf document for sharing with all. The document had about 20 pages! It was declared literature masterpiece. I recently read that a couple, who got newly married, had saved all their WA exchanges. Imagine the total number of messages! They were forty-nine thousand! These were copied, and maybe they want to print it as a love story! Wow, that will be a fascinating real-life love story, warts and all!  People spend about 2 to 3 hrs using these apps every day; this was one of the reasons for this review.

I am sure that the emoji exchange between lovers must be fascinating. Especially when the emojis can be interpreted differently. A person may interpret differently when happy as against interpretation when angry. Again two lovers may have a different understanding of their sets of emojis!

Facebook is another fascinating story in the digital saga. Nowadays, people look eye to eye for the first time on Facebook! Their love story starts with a meeting on FB. It is no surprise that it continues with the same fervour in later life too! The buzz word used for such a show of affection between lovers or couples is PDA- public display of affection! The couples shout early morning on anniversaries and birthdays, to show how they love their partner! They want the whole world to know about it. Oldies like me and many others are surprised with this kind of public show. But for those who have started their love story on FB, they don’t care what you feel! FB has its advantages. FB has allowed me to find many long lost friends. FB has allowed me to be in touch with my school, through alumni group. It’s a diverse group with ex-students from early ’50 s of last century to the early part of the first decade of this century. Today morning, I had a pleasant surprise! Darshan Ruikar, my son’s friend sent me a friend request out of the blue! He lives in England for the last 25 years! FB helps me to publish my blogs to a broad audience.

Both the apps when used correctly are a great addition to our tools for communicating with others. Both the apps offer free audio or video calls and even group calls. But the downside is the use of WA by political parties in India. With elections fast approaching, the parties are trying to overcome the “at a time forward to five entities” lock applied by WA. WA has already warned the parties that if parties continue the misuse, they will lock such id’s. Governments world over are also having some discomfort due to abuse by people of the group facility.

Babya

My friend Baba Gupte on Video call on WA. Inset Jaya and me!

I will share with you the excellent usage of the apps. A coincidence is that both these incidents took place with someone in Australia. My friend Baba Gupte and I have been in touch about his holiday photos and my blogs, while he is in Australia. I thought why not call him; I video chatted with him, and we saw each other after a reasonably long time. Baba was very pleased and said, “ Pramod, perfect use of WA”!

Another incident was when I landed in Melbourne in 2015. We had gone to watch the cricket world cup final. After we landed at Melbourne airport, I read a news item on the net that Harsha Bhogale, the cricket commentator, enjoyed a Marathi play, “Katkon Trikon” in Sydney. I could not find the date reference. My old friend and actor Dr Mohan Agashe has played the lead role in the drama. So I quickly wrote to Mohan on FB messenger, “Hey Mohan are you in Australia or have you gone back? Jaya and I have just landed.” In a minute, I got a call on FB messenger. I was wondering who it could be. It was Mohan! We chatted and exchanged pleasantries, discussed cricket and the drama. He was to travel back to India that night.

How dramatically useful such apps are, pun not intended when appropriately used. I am sure as the apps, and people mature, the people will find more ways to use the apps to their advantage. We already have our weekly video calls with my son Sachin in Seattle and my Son in law Nikhil in Montreal! The apps keep people close, and for everybody, there is always something to look forward to! Maybe another long lost friend will get in touch with you; perhaps an old colleague will be found or even the old flame…. There are possibilities!

Happiness!

Right to life, right to liberty and the right to the pursuit of happiness are guaranteed in the American Constitution! What I like here is the right to a pursuit of happiness and NOT happiness itself. This means you try to achieve happiness by living in the Himalayas or Sahara desert. You may achieve happiness by getting married and having family or remain unmarried if it makes you happy.

In India, we talk about Roti, Kapda and Makan! It is correct to write about the right to have food, clothes and home! A couple of things could get added to the list! Internet & Cellphone (some such personal device)! Every society decides its ways of being happy, our forefathers decided that basic things like Roti, Kapda and Makan will make us happy.

Definition of happiness is pretty simple; it is state of being happy! But like everything in life nothing is simple. To me, it is the state of joy, the nice feeling at that particular juncture! I feel that we should first try and define what is NOT happiness!

Happiness is not about feeling good all the time!

Is a person who drinks alcohol every day “happy?” If feeling good all the time were our only requirement, then the answer would be “yes.” When you take alcohol, you feel light in your head but when you do it daily, the addiction stage may be reached. That is definitely not happiness. While you are sad, you are in a melancholy mood and suddenly something happens which makes you feel nice, you are happy. After all, what goes up must come down and what is down has to go up, at some stage.  Furthermore, when you ask people what makes their lives worth living, they rarely say anything about their mood. They are more likely to cite things that they find meaningful, such as their work or relationships. If you focus too much on trying to feel good all the time, you’ll actually undermine your ability to feel good at all—in other words, no amount of feeling good will be satisfying to you, since what you expect (all the time) isn’t physically possible for most people.

Happiness is not being rich and affording whatever you want!

While living below the poverty line certainly makes it hard to be happy, beyond that, money does not appear to buy happiness. Imagine, you unexpectedly get a large raise. While you would certainly be excited in the short term, it would only be a matter of time before your expectations change to fit your new budget. You may want to buy that bigger car or a bigger home! Your wife may want to buy that diamond pendant she had been pining for. Before you know it, the savings you are able to make at the end of the year are not much more than what you did before the raise!  The only exception to this rule is when you spend your money on an experience with your family and friends. If you spent that additional money on some weekend getaways to new and exciting places with your friends or family, then you might get happier. People usually don’t do this!

Happiness is not the final destination!

HappinessJourney

The old adage, “Are we there yet?” is often applied to discussions of happiness, as if a person works towards happiness and one day “arrives.” Contrary to popular belief, however, very few people in this world are naturally happy, it takes regular effort to maintain happiness. Most established techniques for becoming happier are habits, not one-shot events; and most life events that make us happy in the short-term, like getting married or being promoted, fade over time as we adapt to them. There is no magic wand for becoming happy!

 

 

We live life in a sinusoidal waveform. The topmost wave form in the left side diagram is a sinusoidal wave. In our life, there are peaks and troughs of happiness and sadness. The wave shows a very uniform pattern but our life is never like the wave, it is too complex like the waveform on the right side diagram! Being born in the right family, education, career, marriage, children and then middle age and old age is the normal life pattern. These are the things that give you happiness. Many things can happen in life “out of turn”. Losing parents at a very early age, family not having means to educate you, not getting good jobs, not able to marry the right girl are some of the things which cause sadness. Good and bad things form an interweaving pattern. Depending on whether happiness covers more area under the curve or sadness depends on destiny.

 

But there are many things which are not controlled by destiny. Feeling happy is in our hands! I have given below a link to my old blog written in 2011. My style, content and references are old and amateurish. I was trying to learn to blog in those days. In this blog, I have written about my favourite things. These things always make me happy, whatever mood I am in.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2011/06/04/few-of-my-favourite-things/

There are many other things that make me happy. Small things like eating corn or roasted peanuts make me happy. Meeting new people also always makes me happy. Looking at Sunsets and Sunrises, watching the rain clouds coming towards you from the hills, watching sea waves dancing towards the shore. There are many things in life that can make one happy. It is not that you will be very happy only when you go to Switzerland. Go to a small hill near your house with an open mind and you can be equally happy. Dinner at Marriot and eating Batata wada in a small joint near home are equally pleasing experiences. It’s how we absorb the goodness in everything that is important. The events that make you sad are not in your hands. A death of a near one is bound to make you sad but moving on is also part of life. The flowing river water is always clean and beautiful to look at. Similarly, if we allow feelings of sadness to stagnate by not moving on, the beauty of the life also stagnates.

Imagine going through a sad phase in life. You have lost your job and are having difficulty to find one. An old friend drops in without informing you and he is not aware of your situation. You both have great fun remembering olden days and school time pranks.

You don’t have to feel, “Oh! I have lost my job. How can I be happy!” Afterwards, you can always share your problem with him and take his suggestions.

Sadness and happiness, are states of your mind which never continue for long; in fact, we should not allow sadness to continue for long. This is what I mean by sinusoidal wave shown above. In life, you see people who have every possible material thing but are very rarely happy. Similarly, you see people who have almost no materialistic luxuries but always look happy.

Friends, we can say that happiness is not an event but is the state of mind. The state of mind is dependent on us. Life is full of ups and downs; ups usually are followed by downs. Pleasure and Pain are the two real things that create the sensation of Happiness and Sadness. Happiness is nothing but freedom from pain.  To achieve the state of happiness, try always to be happy; sadness will come and go!

 

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!  

 

 

 

AF and BF!

 

The caricatures will indicate the subject of my blog!

AD‘ is the initials of the Latin words anno domini, which means “Year of the Lord” – in other words, (approximately) the number of years since the birth of Jesus. The modern equivalent is ‘CE’, which means “Common Era”. ‘BC” is the initials of the English words “before Christ” – a way of counting backwards in time before the current era. But now new terminologies have come up, BF is Before Facebook and AF is After Facebook. Facebook started in 2004 February and WhatsApp in Jan 2009. They have made a great revolution in our lives.

These technologies churned out because of two behemoths of the modern technology, Internet and Cell phone. As normally happens, FB &WA changed our methods of communications totally. These helped us to locate old friends, long lost pals! Everybody was thrilled. We got controls in our hands and we could communicate with anybody and everybody, anytime, be it midnight or be it noon!

In 70’s the communication with each other was by mail and telephones; telephones in our part of the world were a rarity. There was methodology and etiquettes, in their usage,  which were established over a period of time. There were certain etiquettes for business letters and there were some for personal letters. World over, the postal departments were doing the job of delivering the mail. This conventional mail slowly came to be known as snail mail as the time taken for a letters to reach was 3 to 6 days within the country and 3 to 4 weeks in foreign countries.

Slowly with internet came e mail, personal telephones called cell phones became available. But these technologies also came up slowly in nineties! In the 21st century two technologies started galloping and these proliferated world over. In India cell phone usage has increased at the break neck speed. From the same two technologies were born FB and later WhatsApp! Once people realized how easy it is to use FB &WA, the numbers simply became billions! Another thing that helped was increase in Internet speed and Bandwidth, added to it was the local language availability. Video calls became possible as easily like voice calls. We think that these developments happened suddenly but technology does not work this way. These developments of Video on cell phone had started in the year 2000/2001. In 15 years, better hardware, software and Internet changed the face of the technology.

How was this useful to human race? I can say that, had this technology been available before 2nd world war, it was possible that Hitler could have won the war. He had a very fierce propaganda machine led by Goebbels but with FB & WA his reach could have been global. There were enough desperados in this world, who would have joined Hitler!

I don’t want to flood you with statistics about usage of these two apps and all apps in general. From what I have checked on the net the time spent is between 2 to 4 hours in working and retired people; the same use is even more in student community.

https://zephoria.com/top-15-valuable-facebook-statistics/

https://expandedramblings.com/index.php/whatsapp-statistics/

I have noted that usage of these apps has increased during the time in offices, office time which is supposed to be productive. I go to various industries and the new trend is that people still seem to be busy, but many are busy looking at their cell phones. These organizations prohibit access to the social media apps on their office computers but with smart phone prices spiraling down, large number of people can afford smart phones. Access to these apps on personal phones cannot be stopped. Once we were waiting to meet a senior officer in an organization. We were told that he is busy in a conference call. He was sitting in a designated area. We passed by that area two or three times; every time he was busy on his cell phone screen. Never saw him talking on phone.

Social issues created by these apps are worse (loss of productivity, loss of family time) than the advantages offered by them. Out of 3 to 4 hrs time spent on these apps, important time is eaten away from “family time”, after reaching home.  Of course, the whole family is busy looking at the screen! The so-called group usage of WA is a curse. More than 90% messages are forwards! This facility has been used for spreading rumors and has resulted in killings of people, based on rumors in India. WA is struggling to prevent this from happening, under government pressure!

 

I will share some experiences with you. The above caricatures show how today’s lovers enjoy, they don’t look into each others eyes but.. at their own cell phone screen! The other day a couple came home for coffee. After usual, hi and hellos the gentleman got busy on his cell phone. After more than five minutes he had to be bluntly asked if he came to our home to check his WA messages? Once we had gone out for a family dinner with young family gang. One of the kids, 20 years old was addicted to her cell phone. She was sitting opposite me. After 15 minutes or so, I told her to put the cell phone away as we were having a lovely dinner. After that episode she avoids me in family get togethers. How do we resolve this?

Now I am semi-retired so it hardly is going to make any difference if I wasted time on FB/WA. But, I have decided that in future, I will access Facebook only on days when I publish my blog. (All these days publishing was automatic but FB does not allow automatic publishing from WordPress from 1/8/2018) I will communicate with friends on their birthdays/ and some special events privately, never on the wall.

On WhatsApp, I may be required to react on a couple of groups as I am Admin in one, and the other is our society group where I am the chairman. So, I will be accessing WhatsApp only once in a day, early mornings. Similarly, I will use WhatsApp to circulate my blogs only!

There was a movie called “Back to the future” which took the hero back to his parent’s school time zone. I am going “Back to Pre FB-days”. I have been trying it for last week or so and I am happy.

Please forward this blog or like it! My purpose for writing this is just to communicate with you by “New or maybe OLD” method of communication in future. After all there is life beyond Facebook and WhatsApp!

Every dog has his day!

Literally! Dogs have become important species, especially in India. Keeping dogs as pets has a long history right from maybe stone age! In Mahabharata a dog follows the Pandavas during their LAST journey. People have their own thought processes about pet dogs and I am writing on this subject only to get an overall feel of the subject. 

Importance of dogs in India started with the keen interest taken by Maneka Gandhi about dogs. There is a Supreme Court ruling about stray dogs which is given below. 

Under the Indian laws, animal cruelty is an offence – under Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, and Section and 429 of the Indian Penal Code – punishable with imprisonment and fine. Likewise, criminal intimidation, and criminally intimidating animal welfare volunteers is a serious offence under the Indian Penal Code (specifically, Section 503 of Indian Penal Code read with Section 506 of the Indian Penal Code 1860). 

But what happens if there arises a cache 22 situation where a decision needs to be taken about supporting humans and dogs at the same time, in the same situation, at same location. Who should get the priority? There are many different rulings which declare the rights of the stray dogs; breaking such laws is liable to jail terms! But not giving the same support to homeless people (maybe stray people) is not punishable! But the alertness and alacrity with which the Animal support groups act and react in case of dogs, is rarely seen in case of humans in difficulty.  

With latest trends, now some families are deciding that they will not have kids but will adopt dogs. This trend, which was observed in western countries is now also seen in Indian couples. I know of a family, there could be many more, who while traveling, “talk” to their pets on video calls; kennels have set up cameras etc to provide such facility.  

I am aware that there are pet training schools where charges maybe as high as the best of human schools. I know that in 1980 someone used to pay US $100/ hour for pet training. (Be careful what you call someone’s dog, it may be good idea to call it by its name; owners are sensitive sometimes.) Now we have pet training schools, but do we have human training schools to teach humans how to handle pet dogs?  

Years back, I was walking on a footpath in the US, a lady was talking on her cell phone with somebody. She had a dog on the leash while it was doing its natural thing. I was wondering how this situation is going to be handled. As I reached near the lady, she probably told the other party to hold on for a second. She said to me, “Sir, I have my poop picking gear, don’t worry I am going to pick it up”! I am quite sure the lady had gone to best training school where they teach about handling the doggies.  

I will share with you couple of examples where the owners did not take the training course. We went to someone for a cup of coffee. We never knew that they had a dog. It’s not that Jaya and I are afraid of dogs, in fact we love them, mildly. The breed they had was five feet long when it was lying down. Its bark was as loud as the fighter aircrafts breaking sound barrier. As soon as we entered their home, it was an apartment, the doggy ran in as fast as Usain Bolt and braked in front of us; it had an awesome braking system. We were stunned, most probably, because of this unexpected, almost an attack on us! Our friend came and said, “Hey, guys! Don’t worry he is a very mild pet!” Of course, we knew that. I just wondered if it were ferocious, officially. After it was leashed, hypothetically, not physically, we started to move towards the three-seat sofa! The moment my bottom touched the sofa, windows in the home shuddered, I had almost become deaf with initial boom, I jumped up. Our friend, the doggy, had started howling. Our friend, the human, told us that it was doggy’s seat! The doggy jumped on the sofa and lied down, all its five feet! The coffee arrived, we gulped it. Luckily the cell phone came to the rescue! It rang. A friend had called to inform me that our evening dinner was postponed due to some emergency. I kept on blabbering on the phone, “Don’t you worry, we will reach in 30 minutes. I will try to get a doctor with me on the way.”  

Immediately, we left our friend’s place with apologies and told him that some emergency had come up at a friend’s place, bal bla bla. For a change, I got a certificate of appreciation from my better half, for an excellent and prompt action and acting skills. 

A friend’s dog died recently after a long life of 13 years. He was a mild, lovely dog. But he (the dog) missed out on two things; after he died there were a hundred RIP messages (95 were actually saying only RIP) on our society’s WA group. Very few people in the society used to interact with him (the dog); he would have known how many really “loved” him had he read those messages. But he, the doggy, was dead and was not on WA group! Probably we humans also know how many people “really” feel about us after we die! Why not tell it before we die, just a food for thought?  

Now I am going ask awkward questions. What do we do with our neighbor’s doggy who keeps on howling, at night? Our neighbor, the owner of the doggy, I am told, cannot go to sleep if the doggy is not howling! What do we do with neighbor who does not pick the poo poo? What do you do if the doggy cleanses your car rim and tyre with his, you know what? Should we send a thank you note? To whom, the doggy or the owner? Doggy is after all their kid!  What do we do with them when the doggy wets, the mat in the elevator/lift in your condo? Of course, you take the mat home and wash it, spray lovely perfume to mask the after effects.  Or maybe walk the staircase to your 11 th floor home!

Looking at more positive sides of dog the pet! It provides employment. Our friends, the owners are so busy, that they have no time to take the doggy out for a walk. Don’t ask why do you have pets, if you can’t walk them? Do you ask some someone why you are having kids?  Now there are some special shops catering only in dog stuff. 

Humans have a much developed brain. With new methods, equipment, tools, humans have been controlling other species for different purpose including food. Horses were used for travel, camels are used even today in desert for travel, we eat chicken, fish, goats and pigs. Yes, in Korea dog food is considered a delicacy! I am all for stopping the cruelty against animals but are we not going to other extreme about dogs in India? Honestly, I do not know!  

 

 

Let the “GoGang” be!

Golden Age Gang (GoGang) is a fancy name I want to give to the aging population! Within a couple of hours of my publishing the blog “Age with an open mind IV” two friends Sudhakar and Vijay passed very similar comments, “Age with the Open eyes too!” I had made a passing comment on things for which old population should keep their eyes open too; it can be a subject for a blog itself. Sudhakar in his inimitable style drew a beautiful picture depicting the meaning of what he wanted to say.

SonyaEye

So here I am suggesting, let the “GoGang” be! At the same time let them not forget to keep their eyes open! With families becoming nuclear, different units in families live separately, including the retired families. A change is taking place as retiring and settling down has become a collaborative process between nuclear families. Younger families can help retirees settle down but they can do so by remaining in background.   

One sees and hears so many different experiences all around that it is better to keep eyes and ears open. What you need in the old age is peace of mind! The peace will help retirees in keeping good health, financial independence and healthy relations with near and dear ones. Other things that will make Golden Age Gang (GoGang) feel independent, is to help them take care of themselves, with as little support as possible. Young people may set up GoGang’s Wifi’s or gadgets for them if they are technically uncomfortable. GoGang may need support in setting up their cell phones! Things are changing so fast these days that even younger generation can feel the challenges of technology.

The importance of being independent is twofold for GoGang. Independence is sometimes the only thing seniors may feel they can control, as certain aspects of their life change with age. Additionally, maintaining independence promotes a sense of achievement that for many seniors generates a great sense of self-worth and well-being. Don’t forget that the same people were younger once and have achieved a lot in their working lives!

Often, seniors are able to live independently with a little or no help at all. However, some need assistance due to physical or mental limitations that may come with aging. In these cases, living at home alone, does not become a lost cause. Home health care companies are mushrooming in India, who help seniors maintain independence for as long as possible. Caregivers help old people in activities of daily living, such as grocery shopping, light cleaning, cooking and other activities that enable seniors to live at home independently. In typical Indian way, this is also being done in unofficial way. It can be a quid pro quo arrangement. I know of someone who lives in a bungalow; he has provided staying quarters to a family, free and they have arrangement whereby both the families help each other by providing services and free quarters!

We must understand that in order to maintain true levels of independence, it is important for seniors to be involved in their own care. When assisting the GoGang, don’t come in and perform all their duties. Instead, follow a technique called interactive caregiving. This means involving seniors in daily activities and duties, dependent on the senior’s capabilities. Let the GoGang be part of the solution and do not treat them as a problem.

Some seniors are able to take part with house cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking and other duties, let them do it. In fact, you should encourage them to do it. Above and beyond performing household tasks together, engage in other activities with seniors, such as playing games, going for walks, eating meals together or simply engaging seniors in lively conversations.

When I talk about keeping eyes open by the “GoGang”, I don’t mean about the sleep. Keeping eyes open is not a problem anymore, getting the shut eye is! What happens is that people tend to become a little softer and more emotional as they age. Deteriorating health adds to the problem. All your future income is going to be dependent on the assets that you have when you retire. This is where “GoGang” should become pragmatic.

I will share stories to elaborate what I mean. A famous lady lawyer from Pune, from my parent’s generation and her lawyer husband had a big property with a bungalow. Due to her blind love ( at a later stage she had become blind too!) for the son, she transferred the property in her son’s name. When her husband died, the prodigal son ensured that she was forced to leave home. She finally moved to her daughter’s place and died a broken lady.

A classmate was similarly impractical. His son, unfortunately, went big way into gambling. Our friend initially helped him to come out of his gambling debts. But such debts are like a bottomless pit. The problem became so serious that a couple of years back the retired friend had to sell of his flat where he lived, his only asset; this closed the son’s gambling debts (at that time) but our friend has now landed into a big trouble, he is a nervous wreck and asset less. When I last checked, he had gone to stay with his daughter, who lives in the US! This cannot be a permanent solution due to visa issues. How will he handle life after coming back to India? His initial help to his son was ok but what was the point in selling off the only asset? In the worst-case scenario, the son could have to the jail or maybe I don’t know! But now the whole family is down with zero chance of coming up! What was achieved? That my friends is blind love.

Friends, right from the days you start your family, keep open discussions about finances in your home where thought process emphasized should be that “money is part of life, it is not THE life”! With this thinking there is a possibility that your children will look at the money as a means and not the end! In spite of such thought process and training, it is possible that children may think differently after they get married. Their wives may have grown up with different thinking! Don’t forget that people change, and this includes your children!

What then is the solution? Make a Will! It should be very pragmatic, practical! All assets, fixed and liquid, all jewelry everything to pass on to the spouse who dies later. Make separate Wills for husband and Wife! Then after both the spouses die, make it very clear how the assets are to be distributed. Liquid asset values keep on changing; these should be distributed among children in a ratio starting from 100 to 0%, whatever way you want to do it. The sequence of how this will happen and why distribution is made in a certain way should be clearly explained in the Will! Hopefully, this will avoid bitterness among children. We all love our children but we need to be practical and pragmatic for obvious reasons.

But will transition be peaceful after following the basics? That is million dollar question which has no answer!  Hope that WILL, will find a way!