Montreal Musings-day to day life III!

Now the writer in me has started understanding the difference in going on a planned holiday on a tour and living at a destination for a reasonable period. Taking a tour is like going for a movie and then to go back to your routine. Whereas staying at a place is like reading a long novel. Enjoy it part by part. And keep on doing it for a much longer duration.

The leaves are changing the colours but not as fast as I have seen at other locations. In Montreal maybe only the Maple leaves change the colours, others only wither as winter arrives. Hopefully, within the next few weeks, I will come to know what happens.  I said this, and I saw some lovely colours today when we went out for lunch.

Public transport is one thing that I am enjoying; I don’t get that opportunity in back home. It feels nice to say hello or good morning to the bus driver while swiping the card. The response is also always a smile. Some of us may think that it is a bit mechanical, but it is anytime better than ignoring each other. Now my French vocabulary has reached the level of Merci and Bonjour! Priya shared one experience with me, which was shocking. Once while Priya was in a bus standing, a lady struggled to climb up with a walker. The driver did not start the bus as she was struggling and must have been hoping that someone will provide her with a seat. The driver even requested people to do so. But it took a few minutes for someone to decide to offer her a seat. Jaya and I are sometimes offered with the seats, but maybe we do not look old enough.

A couple of days back there was Environmental March which 50000 people attended. On that day, Montreal city contributed in a very innovative way. The public transport for all the people was free for the whole day, to encourage people to attend the march.

One thing I observed about the weather is when it is raining intermittently, the temperature may be higher, but it feels damp and cold. Five degrees cooler with Sunshine feels warmer even in the shade.

There is one interesting service offered. In our area, there was a power outage for about four hours due to some cable related issue. The affected zone was isolated, and the power was restored. It is now four days, but the fault is yet to be rectified. But that is not the end of the story. Electricity people have made some temporary arrangement with wiring and have provided power continuously to affected people for these four days using a truck-mounted generator.

Though I see at least one beggar at most Metro Stations (but never more- which is a surprise).

The developed countries have their own different systems and facilities for the pets. I see many shops catering to pets. I see many veterinary doctor’s clinics too! Probably many couples prefer to have Pets instead of children. These shops keep different clothing available for the pets. These include wedding dresses, clothes for winter, raincoats for use during rains and so on.

Another interesting thing found here is the number of flowers and flower beds, currently. People know that the flowers are going to last only for six or seven months, every year before winter takes over. But they follow this expensive hobby!

One fascinating place to visit is the festival of lights at the Botanical Garden, near the Olympic Stadium. Inspired by the ancient Chinese tradition, this event has been enchanting people since its creation. Glittering lanterns of various shapes illuminate the Chinese Garden and the eyes of thousands of visitors who come to enjoy the magical spectacle. The Japanese Garden leads you along a meditative illuminated path inspired by the seasons, and the First Nations Garden features an intense multimedia experience that lets you feel the beating heart of the Cycle of Life. One interesting thing; the path in the Japanese garden is quite dark, but they have made the displays with the help of mirrors, the trees appear as if they are full of fireflies! One more speciality was the Bonsai trees. One of them was as old as 160 years.  Montreal Olympic Stadium Tower in the background of light festival.

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Even as late as 15 years many Indian food items were difficult to procure, including the raw material like dal etc. But it is a pleasant surprise that most of the things are available here in Montreal reasonably easily. One can imagine their availability in the Bay area in SFO and New Jersey!

It appears that the preparations for Durga Pooja, Garba in Navratri and Diwali are already on or are being discussed. I will feel happier when assimilation of festivals also takes place, and friends other than those of Indian Origin are invited to celebrate such festivals.

I hear of Indian people who have been living in Toronto and Montreal for more than forty years. In the initial phase of their lives, it must have been trying for them to live an Indian way of life. But with more and more people living in different parts of the world, I was not surprised to see a typical store in one of the malls selling Agarbattis! Business is the ultimate leveller in this world. I read somewhere recently, that Agarbattis worth Rs. 800/ crores were imported in India from China. When we were on the Alaska Cruise about three years back, there were at least forty different Indian food items available in the spread. These included Dal- Khichdi and Malvani Fish!

With more and more Indian professionals becoming financially more comfortable at a young age, they are going to travel more, and I won’t be surprised if Indian items become very popular like Indian Curry and Indian Restaurants in the UK! Add to this, the children of Indians born in foreign countries; so, this number is going to become very big as keeping touch with home base  has become more comfortable with video calling and internet calling.

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By the way, we went out today to eat Pani-puri and Wada-Pav! But I had Wada-pav and Thali!  The joint is started by a French guy who got himself trained in Mumbai.The Chai was served the Indian cutting way.

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The day before yesterday, I had breakfast in a restaurant serving middle eastern food, on top of that it was vegan. There was some lovely omelette, another item which was like our Sanja and a dish made out of lentils with a nice bread! I had fun.

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Another thing I saw on Montreal roads. Public charging of EV’s is now available. My little knowledge of driving cars for fifty-plus years tells me that fuel tank and the lid are on the opposite side of where the driver sits. But the Tesla I saw being charged on the road, had the charging on the same side as the driver side! Can anybody explain to me why this would be so? All other EV’s seen in Montreal followed the normal convention!

Some interesting things like Puneri Patya!

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Should Hindi be imposed?

My friend Shrikant wrote on Facebook a very sensible note about an alleged imposition of Hindi all over India. He is a മരുമകൻ– son in law of Kerala. So, I presume that he is in a better position than me to comment. This led me to read the original statement made by Amit Shah, our home minister on the subject. The gist of what he said is in the statement below. 

Mr Shah said, Hindi is spoken by most of the people and can unite the whole country. He said efforts would be made to expand Hindi to different parts of the country but not at the cost of other languages. Shah later also said that the foreign language English is predominant in India, so instead why not Hindi?  

I have not understood the controversy in the statement. Shah has not said that it should be promoted at the cost of the regional languages, anywhere in the statement.  

Culture is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behaviour, and norms found in human societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities and habits of the individuals in these groups.  

Even 200 years back, India was not known as India as it is recognised today. Till then there were Rajahs, Badshahs who used to run their own kingdom. In those times, travel and communication facilities were inferior. Going from place A to place B would take hours if not days. With these limitationsthe bouquet of knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, customs, capabilities and habits of the individuals would remain disconnected with other cultures. The possibility of the merging of cultures must have been within a distance of about 50  to 75 km if the terrain was not steepWith rough terrain, that also would be difficult.  

1947 created India and Pakistan. British had started the railways; road transport had become better than before. Travel had become a bit easier. So some mixing of culture started automatically. If we consider only the state of Maharashtra, people spoke different Marathi in Bombay, Pune, Nagpur, Kolhapur, Aurangabad, JalgaonThe spoken languages were distinctly differentLocal dialects also merged with spoken wordsSo when we speak of Marathi, nobody is really sure Marathi of which region we are talking about.  

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So why then the emotional reactions about Shah’s statement. In the year 1978, I remember that in Bangalore we had shared a taxi for a tour with two couples, one Tamil and the other Kannada. We communicated with each other in English. What Shah has suggested, instead of English, why not Hindi? It is just a suggestion; does it amount to imposition? Central Government has offices in all the states and Hindi day is celebrated in each office, irrespective of which state it is. What is the point in looking at every statement from a political angle? Are elections the only important aspect in life? Kashmir had even more serious issues due to decisions taken by Britishers. But the government has resolved it in one stroke. Rules and regulations must be enforced but culture? No way, but who is forcing the culture? A statement made at a function was not a policy declaration. 

Culture seeps on its own. Let us look at the airports. A large number of people travel by air these days. For some reason, almost all CISF personnel are Hindi speaking individuals. You got to any airport from Chennai, Kochi, Vizag to Guwahati. They communicate many times in Hindi, but nobody objects to that. Idli-Dosa is the South Indian staple food, but it is almost becoming national food. You are out and want to have some food quickly. You go to Idli-Dosa joint in any city, and you are out in 20 minutes. Even Mcdonalds has not been able to penetrate their market. Has anyone made it compulsory to eat Idli-Dosa? Hindi films is another medium which merges cultures beautifully! When Shah Rukh dances to the tune of Lungi Dance, Lungi Dance, the whole of India likes it, not only Tamils or Malayalis 

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=lungi+dance+video+youtube&view=detail&mid=4AAD8BE78B35602C090E4AAD8BE78B35602C090E&FORM=VIRE 

The so-called resistance to Hindi is in the Sothern States of India. Script for these languages is quite different compared to Hindi. But the alleged differences are historical as India became India for the first time in 1947! For reasons already discussed, these differenopinions were natural, and people thought that Hindi was being imposed on them. I will share one example which indicates the complexity due to the technological changes that have taken place in the last seventy years. The regional languages naturally could not keep pace with technological changes. The onslaught of technology was felt by German, French, Spanish and Chinese too! English has come back strongly and has now almost become a global language, thanks to Computerisation!  

The way languages world over are facing the issue,  our regional languages also faced the same problem. These languages cannot cope up with the technological changes. But WhatsApp and Facebook have facilitated all local languages to be used for communication. Thereby the feared obscurity of the languages is gone. Now people chat in Tamil, Marathi and Telugu; and many other languages. Those who are English educated but know the mother tongue, use the Roman script to communicate in their language! “Barobar ahe na?” (Am I right?) I wrote Marathi in the roman script. So, nobody is going to kill local languages.  

How rich the regional languages will remain, depends on people using itAfter all most people “think” in the mother tongueDon’t worry too much. Tyre repair guy will be mostly Anna from Kerala! Idli-Dosa guy will be from Udupi! Recently I have observed that in the construction business, Bihari workers in Pune are being replaced by those from Bengal. In the hospitality industry, we see many ladies from North-East states working in large cities and even in distant hill stations like Mahabaleshwar. But mind you, most of them are conversant with the local language when their stay is long enough, but they also know Hindi!  

One thing we should never forget that language richness, quality and type changes with era. What was considered classic when I was in school, does not appear so today. The same thing is true with songs and movies too! Yesteryears classics seem a bit naïve today! Today’s generation loves today’s classics better than classics of my school daysThere is nothing wrong in that; tastes changevalue system changes! 

So friends, don’t get excited and start slanging matches; don’t begin your protests. Go and see a Hindi movie or a Tamil movie! You will love it! Nation’s unity is more important, not the regional language! 

A happy family is a Smart Work!

You envy your neighbours and blame your destiny when you see Deshpande’s and Sharma’s next door! They are happy families. Whenever you see them, you are happy, and you want to be like them. You envy them not because they are happy, but because you cannot be happy like them. When you do not find any logical reason, it is elementary to blame destiny. Deshpande’s have two kids like you; your financial status appears to be similar. Sharma’s have to support her parents but still, look always cheerful. But it is not as simple as it seems.

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What is the secret to achieving this happiness? First and foremost is understanding that happiness is a transient and not a permanent phase in life. Most of our day to day life is drudgery with peaks and troughs, happiness and sadness! Once you accept this fact, you will start understanding that destiny has nothing to do with your joy. Every home, every family has its pluses and minuses! Everybody has tough times and quiet times. We all go through our financial instability to reasonable stability to sometimes high financial comfort. But these phases are also transients; if we assume that these will continue forever, then we would be in trouble.

Our pressures, our sore points are all going to be there. But it is how we manage things that are going to decide our situation. Husband and wife also need to learn to fight sensibly. They need to learn to let go of things and should not bring Egos in between. When does the phase for the difference of opinion start?

You are married, you come back from honeymoon and enter the honeymoon phase of life! Life meanders smoothly and then suddenly you find that your TV has conked and one of your vehicles is creating a problem. You have important customers at the office, and your husband needs to attend a conference over the weekend. You must realise that the honeymoon phase of life is over. Most of us forget to understand this, and everything is in great flux. Please know that it is the beginning of real life.

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Life’s real variables, the kids, are not even in the picture. Life has already started becoming complicated. Now, do you understand my statement above that we must learn to fight sensibly? The fights are a difference of opinion. Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus; this adage is a real-life adage. Husband and wife are married and love each other. But as the situation starts becoming complex, discussions need to be done without raising the voice and the temperature. All that these two lovely people are doing is that they are giving a different opinion on the same matter. But I am told that on Mars they speak Chinese and on Venus, they speak Spanish. In the absence of Google Translate during translation, the term “lost in translation” comes into play! Maybe one of them is not good at explaining, or the other is not a good listener. The result is that both feel that the other person is not even listening to what I am saying. Matter does not end there! The wife gets an urgent call, and the husbands boss has asked for a quick update on something! It is the beginning of the first world war!

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First and foremost, learn to argue, explain and fight correctly. After all, you folks are the closest to each other. From this incident, learn to cool down, chill during or after the flight! A good hug or a kiss takes care of many things. Sit together in the evening over a cuppa or a glass of wine or whatever is your poison. Decide to start planning on a piece of paper, use an app if you are tech-savvy! Don’t delay it, don’t procrastinate! Humans are born to procrastinate, but it is as bad sugar is for diabetics.

Main variables like children, and in small cases not able to conceive, are equally painful problems of life. Degree of complexity of life changes from simple arithmetic, to algebra, to trigonometry, to Fourier transforms. Degree of difficulty starts going up exponentially. It is like in the business or a profession. Planning, planning, short term planning, long term planning! When things are in front of you on a piece of paper or whatever medium, you visualise better. You can prioritise, you can decide in advance what could be delayed. Planned delay is not a shock. With a lot of planning, there will be a semblance of discipline in life; there can still be a bolt out of the blue! You need to budget for it.

You must be wondering if I have strayed into telling some management related story! But real life is also management, management of our life! But the most critical aspect is that it is going to affect you and your family directly! If you lose a project or an order to someone else in your work, generally no emotions are involved. But if you are not able to attend a sports event where your child has won the first prize, it is going to affect the whole family! Sometimes, it will take a real toll in relationship with your child!

It will be a good idea if Mars and Venus’s folks come on the same page on significant issues. It will be a good idea to split the chores. Whoever is expert in that area should own that part, though the planning and review should be shared. Bouncing ideas with each other is another right way of handling things.

All these things will lead to a life which is under control. Result of the same will be happiness. If Sharma’s and Deshpande’s are your good friends, why not take the advice from them on streamlining day to day matters and long term matters too! Our life does not have to run in military precision, but it is better if it is organised. Ultimately, whatever needs to be done is to be done by us and no one else! What better way than being organised, being mature (take time out during fights). Minimise procrastination. Benefits are plenty which may not be called happiness. You will have more me time; you will have time with friends and of course, family! Once in a while, you might be able to do a few things like rafting, kayaking, or whatever!

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Change your thinking! Let Kulkarnis and Guptas be envious that your family is happy!

996 or else!

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You must be wondering if I am going to start writing blogs in the digital language of 010101. Don’t worry; I am not doing it! But what is this 996? Chinese companies now expect their employees to work from 9 to 9, all six days of the week! For workaholics that sounds like great news. But 996 workaholics, by choice, are rare. People do work longer hours. But can that be the reason enough to work 996, all the time? I don’t think so. No sane person can follow that schedule. If you work 9 to 9, all six days of the week, where do have time for family life, time for personal chores? Time for enjoyment and time for quick picnics. Spending time with spouse and children on the seventh day is out of the question because it is likely, that one will sleep it out on the seventh day! Below is the status of 996 people on Sunday!

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How has this come up? Competition? Dictatorship? Fear of losing the job? Unrealistic goals? Or probably it is a combination of all the factors. Add to this, for international companies, with headquarters in America, and offices in Germany, Israel, India and China. Working with colleagues in different continents can play havoc on the lives of the people. In any organisation, the work is done by different teams in collaboration with each other. Hence there is a need for telephonic meetings regularly. But does it mean that 996 should be the norm? How longer hours will complete the complex jobs shown below, more efficiently?

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Jack Ma, the big boss of the Chinese company Alibaba, says, “The 996 schedule – which means working 9 am to 9 pm, six days a week – is “a huge blessing that many companies and employees do not have the opportunity to have.” He further says that if you don’t work this way when you are young, when are you going to work hard? The question comes to mind what the definition of young is In a group of 100 people if 80 members are young and 20 are not so young, then can you have different timings for young and the not so young? He also feels that such a work regime has allowed Alibaba to become a giant on the world stage.

Why do we work? To win our bread and butter, to learn new things, to go ahead in our careers. How many of us are bothered about the last aspect? The main thing is to achieve, is to steadily get our bread and butter, to pay our bills on time. Educate the children and pass life peacefully. Not everybody is looking to become highly successful in life. Would such people be interested in 996? Would they be able to sustain 996?

I remember about a young engineering graduate who was in the US for his master’s degree, for a couple of years. He joined a company in Pune, where the atmosphere was not 996 but hectic. It was a group of smart engineers working to do some great technical work. Three months later, he went and met his boss and said, “I cannot work with such a smart group of people; probably this is not my taking.” Later he started playing bridge and made his career as a professional bridge player!

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Is 996 feasible in the long term? I don’t think so. There is murmur going on, “family or ICU?” The 996 types of lifestyles are bound to create issues — even our 9 to 6, five days a week lifestyle is against the fundamental requirement of the human body. Before the industrial revolution, our lifestyle was based on nature. Sunrise and Sunset would decide the daily routine. 9 to 6, five days a week lifestyle also involves travel, business dinners and late meetings. So even this lifestyle is hectic. What made Jack Ma think that 996 is sustainable in the long term, I would not know.

Following two paragraphs are taken from a webpage

https://hub.packtpub.com/developers-lives-matter-chinese-developers-protest-over-the-996-work-schedule-on-github/

Working long hours at a company, devoid of any work-life balance, is rife in China’s tech industry. Earlier this week on Tuesday, a Github user with the name “996icu” created a webpage that he shared on GitHub, to protest against the “996” work culture in Chinese tech companies.

The 99icu webpage mentions the Labor Law of the People’s Republic of China, according to which, an employer can ask its employees to work long hours due to needs of production or businesses. But, the work time to be prolonged should not exceed 36 hours a week. Also, as per the Labor Law, employees following the “996” work schedule should be paid 2.275 times of their base salary. However, this is not the case in reality, and Chinese employees following the 996 work rule rarely get paid that much.

These two paragraphs indicate what is happening at the ground level. Can the developers come together and fight the system? I doubt, and it may not be possible even in the US as well as in India. But probably breaking laws in China appears to be blatant. Companies are getting away without being prosecuted by the authorities. The latest information says that 996 will be replaced by 10107! Ten AM to 10 PM seven days a week.

I understand the aspect of profitability in business. But will 996 achieve those numbers? It is evident that people are continuing this out of fear, and also because of no immediate options available. Years back I had met one engineer from Wipro on a flight. He said that his job was quite laid back, but every day he felt like changing his job. After office, he took 2 to 3 ½ hours to reach home. In 996 and 10107 the commute time is not even considered. I read on the website that someone changed residence and moved into not a very decent home, to reduce commute time.

Many companies are not into 996 or 10107, yet. But the number of hours put in plus the commute time makes it terrible. If both husband and wife are working, then the practical solution will be to look for jobs in areas nearby and move residence near the workplace. I know of a couple whose total daily commute time is six hours daily, minimum. One of them has a health issue and is required to exercise daily. But this is not possible due to commute time.

The Chinese colloquial term for a developer is “码农. Its literal English translation is “code peasants” — not the most flattering or respectful way to call software engineers. I call them white-collar workers on the lines of blue-collar workers. Mr Anand Mahindra, Chairman of Mahindra group, had tweeted, “I feel as if I am a businessman from Dinosaur times.” He made this comment after he read a statement by Uber CEO that Uber will never become profitable! I have a run very small business all these years; I am also surprised that Amazon has never made any profits, ever! I am told that these are 996 companies!

Mr Naraynamurthy of Infosys had sent an email to all Infosys employees to make sure that they leave office on time. But his instructions have never been followed in the spirit! I have discussed with people working in larger companies, especially the coders. All of them have said that they can concentrate on their job for not more two hours at a time. If 996 culture is followed how much will be the real productivity is anybody’s guess.

996? 10107? To me, none of these makes sense but what is the option? We had apartheid! We had slavery! The only difference is that compensations are high in the new bondage! Hopefully, there will be an organised movement against these systems, so let us wait and see, fingers crossed!

Money or Monies!

Some advantages of the internet, Google and their brethren are we come to know that we don’t know many things in this world. I had read the word monies many times but had never understood the exact meaning of the word. All I knew was that it had something to do with money. When funds come from different sources, we call them monies. Life is simpler when we are young. The other day I was playing a game of Market with my granddaughter Rhea. She took one rupee from me and said here are your ten kgs of potatoes. Then I gave her a ten rupee note, and she sold me a hundred mangoes. I was elated momentarily. I thought I had become Ambani! I believe that it is too far fetched. I thought again and concluded that I felt like a smalltime politician and had lots of money with me 

When did the concept of money start? It started about 3000 years back. Before that,  the world worked on barter. You go the market to dispose of your product. You bring back some vessels and clothes from respective traders. The situation must have been difficult in those times. You wanted to drive away an Elephant who was troubling you, and you had a stone axe to offer against the services. It must have been timeconsuming to convince the expert that “axe” was the correct price for driving away the elephant. What was the “axe” worth? Was it also worth a sack of grain? Was it the right value of services provided by a doctor?  Did those service providers want your axe?

One of the greatest achievements of money was to fix the value of driving away the elephant or for treatment by a doctor. Initially, a type of prehistoric currency involving easily traded goods like animal skins, salt and weapons developed over the centuries. These traded goods served as the medium of exchange even though the unit values were still negotiable. This system of barter and trade spread across the world, and it still survives today in some parts of the globe. Since the goods did not have a fixed value, the value decided was need-based. It was sometimes like short sell done in today’s times. We do short sale when we need to liquidate the assets in an emergency 

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Sometime around 1100 B.C., instead of using the actual tools for barter, people  started creating small replicas of the same weapons in bronze. But this led to another issue. Carrying and storing sharp tools (currency) became difficult though they were easy to carry. Since they were replicas sharpness was still there. People would get hurt using them. Hence, they switched over to making round coins. But first minted coins were created in Lydia in today’s Turkey. Minted coins started in 600 B.C. The coins were made of a mixture of silver and gold as it occurred naturally. The denominations were fixed by stamping pictures like owl and snake, and were used to differentiate denominations. An earthen jar would cost two owls plus one snake! Standard currency brought ease of doing business in Lydia, and it became one of the wealthiest empires of those times. But the active trade and wealth could not stop attacks from strong Persian armies who attacked and destroyed them, in turn looting the wealth.  

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While Lydia was leading in currency developments, around 700 B.C., the Chinese moved from coins to paper money. By 1270 A.D., the emperor had good control of both money supply and various denominations. The Chinese inscription on notes warned, “All counterfeiters will be decapitated.” Europeans kept using coins till 16thcentury thanks basically to their control on precious metal mines in their colonies. Banks started using currency notes due to ease of handling. But in those days notes were issued by banks and private institutions and not by governments as is done today. 

First paper currency appeared in colonial America. Since the distance between headquarters in Europe and the Americas was considerable, banks would run out of currency. So they started issuing IOU’s which in turn were used as currency. The way coins increased business, usage of notes also had similar effect. Today there is a lot of standardisation world over in currency, where governments control the currency and mints. International conversion rates are decided by markets and various other factors 

After the stability of bank notes, monetary transactions started to take place, in a big way,  using credit cards. This system grew and ran smoothly throughout for about 40 years. But the credit cards are now challenged by debit cards, net banking where money gets transferred from a bank account to another , without any interruptions by banks. Users are gaining more control over transferring money.  

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Credit cards came in different avatars. Initially, cards had raised numbers; and these were captured on paper like we use the stencil. Initially, authorisation was not instantaneous; hence very few people had been issued cards. Then swiping cards came which could be authorised online. Now we have the same cards with “chips” for improved safety. 

The currency system is now coming under different disrupting forces, like Bitcoins. Bitcoins have not made the impact as was expected by some people, and many governments are still not supporting them.  

Now many wallets have come and offering a simpler method of making and receiving payments. Easier payments systems like UPI have come. The onset of online payment has been the real market disruptor. Now State Bank of India has come up with an easier modified system for ATM withdrawals. While leaving home, you can create a request on the mobile app provided by SBI. You get an OTP. The OTP is valid for half an hour. You go to the ATM. Punch OTP at the ATM and your money is in your hands! It looks like the physical presence of cards is going to be history in future. A new method of QR code  reading instead of swiping cards is expected to come up in the next couple of years. You have a credit card; you go to an establishment. Card details will be stored on your cell phone; the app will read the QR code, you punch the amount and vendor gets his money. Easy? No sharing of card number every time on the net, will lead to more secure transactions and hopefully less hacking.  

What is waiting for us in near future? Payment methods started from bartering to, a replica of tools, to round coins with pictures of tools; this was followed by minted coins, then IOU notes, credit card and online transactions. I understand that in future two transacting entities will need onetime authentication using block-chain technology. Their accounts will be linked permenantly by an irreversible process. Making a transfer to each other will be something like sending an SMS! Is it real? Are we dreaming? No, it is coming for sure. When? I don’t know, only the future can tell!  

Later that day, when I was playing with Rhea, she had changed her transaction system She would not accept cash! I had to hand over my card to herShe would swipe it and give me the imaginary machine to punch the  PIN!   

 

 

 

 

 

Time is Money, so Sleep is Debt!

In today’s competitive 24/7 and 365 days world, how can you waste your time in sleep? Sleep is an integral part of our day; we work, socialise and sleep. Our energy spent during waking hours is recouped when we have sufficient rest. How much sleep does one need to regain strength? Every individual has own requirement of sleep, and it is defined by the body like our blood group. This property is known as Chronotype and is described as a person’s natural inclination about the times of day when they prefer to sleep or when they are most alert or energetic.

We have different ways of describing people like an early bird, night owl and those who are in between the bird and the owl. Early to bed and early to rise is the way to be healthy and wealthy and wise, is a saying that has been popular for a long time. Does it mean that the early birds are smart people and others are not? I don’t think so because it is a natural property of human beings. I remember my friend’s daughter. For first three to four years of her life, his princess would sleep throughout the day and would be fully awake during the night. Luckily the friend’s wife was not doing a job outside. Hence she could sleep for at least some time during the day time. But day time sleep has its limitations as the world runs on a daytime cycle. They had a tough time during those 3/4 years.

Sleep2

During the last hundred years or so, we humans have started working during nights. Before that very few people in any trade required night working. I remember my grandfather’s lifestyle. He would be ready to go to bed at 7 pm after having early dinner. I am talking of lifestyle that was prevalent in ’50 s of the last century. There was nothing else to do anyway. But with the industrial revolution, night shifts started in factories. In factories first shift would begin at 7 am, second would end at 11 pm and so on. These timings started invading our way of beginning and ending the day. Before all this, there was not much difference in humans and other creatures. If we observe, even today, the birds start flying out depending on the timings based on Sunrise and Sunset. Species other than humans follow nature. They wake up with the environment; they eat and drink water when hungry or thirsty. (Only humans drink specially manufactured alcohol); in the end, they die naturally. In certain species when the death is near, they go away from others and merge with nature. All this thinking has created words describing “Time is Money”; I have added to it “Sleep is Debt”! We, humans, give too much importance to when we wake up, when we sleep, and so on. People from the same organisations working in different continents adds to the misery.

 

Sleep1But is it true? Is it right? I read about a large organisation in China. They have a vast multi-storied complex where hundreds of people work. A team from the USA went there for some meetings. The meeting started at 10.30 am. It went on till 1 pm. They were taken for lunch, and they came back at 1.30 pm. Within, five minutes, all the lights, computer screens were put off. There was an announcement in Chinese to switch off the cell phones. At 2.15 pm everything came back to normal. The Americans were shocked. Their Chinese counterparts told them that they wanted to give surprise to the Americans. The practice of switching off everything is being followed in that organisation for some time, so that people take a nap. During this period, the Americans found it impossible to go to sleep, initially many of the Chinese staff also faced the same problem, but now they are used to it. The Americans found that some of their Chinese colleagues were even mildly snoring. Majority of the staff has given thumbs up to this method of taking a sleep break. Such breaks have increased the zest of people working in the second session. I can vouch for this method. I have been following this method for quite some time in my office.

In the western world, sleep is treated as some sin. People become judgmental when someone says that he/she needs some sleep. In olden days, though everybody had different sleep cycles, some people were required to keep awake against attacks by animals. Another need was to ensure that the fire needed for warmth did not spread dangerously. In Mahabharata, the war stopped at the Sunset. Lord Krishna had taken advantage of this fact and killed Jayadratha, by hiding the  Sun in the afternoon with his Sudarshana Chakra, and bringing Jayadratha out in front of Arjuna.

I am sure that a word associated with sleep in olden days must have been fear! That is because of the animal attacks. Now in modern times, we don’t have fear associated with the word sleep, but still, we make sure that all the door and window latches are in place. Worry before sleeping is the remnant of the “fear” we had in mind. Maybe the night prowlers may break in, is the fear we still may have! On the other side, it is considered good if someone dies in sleep. The reasoning could be that the person may not feel the pain if any, while dying.

All said and done; a sleep deficit is bound to have its issues. Each human can handle only a certain amount of sleep deficit. After that, the performance gets deteriorated. The person will be anxious; the concentration may reduce and accidents while driving can also take place.

Once we had gone out for dinner with some Japanese friends, we finished our dinner at around 11 pm. I asked the friend how do they handle this in Japan. He said, “Initially we do bar hopping till midnight and then have dinner. By the time we are done, it is 2 am.” I asked him, “How do you manage the office the next day?” My friend said, “ We must reach the office at 7 am, but if I am not up to it, I take my boss’s permission to go and sleep in my car!” Great solution!

But one thing is sure; you cannot be in debt in life, as well as in sleep. You have to repay it; you have to make it up at some stage. A good way of handling this is to learn to take power naps! A ten-minute power nap will go a long way.

In modern times, during the last 15 years, things have changed for the worse. Housing loans are much cheaper than personal loans. We can call our sleep deficit due to work as a housing loan, but we also take personal loans which are costlier than housing loans. These new loans are in the form of social media or screen time. With these two loans running simultaneously, sleep deficit is bound to be there; make sure you avoid it or you may become bankrupt!

Heer Ranza or Romeo Juliet!

This is a love song from a movie Jab Kisise Pyar Hota Hai (1961). The lovers say,  “I have loved you since last hundred years and will keep on doing so for ever!”  A typical fantasy!

Marriage or union of two persons for life brings stories of Romeo and Juliet or Heer and Ranza, in front of our eyes. (Life has become trickier with same-sex marriages and all!) Our literature romanticizes the union and we all think that life is full of roses. But after some time, these beautiful roses start to wither and petals are what we are left with. I am not a pessimist but these are the facts of life! A relationship between husband and wife are never as romantic or rosy as they seem from distance. I had mentioned this in a blog I had written a month back where I wrote about friendship.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/10/21/human-nature-a-mystery/

To me, marriages are of two types. Historically, we married for logical reasons but lately, some marriages are based on feelings. Marriage based on romance and love are the imaginations of writers and poets! Romeo and Juliet or Heer and Ranza never had to discuss, EMI’s, promotions, illnesses, and yes, children, that are the result of the initial passion, remnants of the times when petals had not started falling down.

Current descriptions, love marriage and arranged marriage are also ways to describe of how people get married. In olden days, love marriages were a rarity but in modern times with males and females living independently, before marriage, in large cities and getting opportunities to meet each other in a no family settings, leads to love marriages and of course, sometimes to live-in relationships.

For most of the recorded history, people married for logical sorts of reasons because you were neighbours and were equals in the society, his family had a flourishing business, her father was the General Manager in a factory, there was a farmhouse close to city to keep up, or both sets of parents were from the of same caste and creed (politically correct word for this is Biradari), or were members of the same club. But once you reached the petals stage, from such reasonable marriages, there flowed loneliness, infidelity, abuse, a hardness of heart and screams heard through the nursery doors. The marriage of reason was not reasonable at all; it was often expedient, narrow-minded, snobbish and exploitative. That is why what has replaced it — the marriage of feelings — are taking its place.

Why do the famous roses start withering? Perhaps we have a latent tendency to get furious when someone disagrees with us or can relax only when the person agrees with you. (By that time the other person is furious, is another story) Nobody’s perfect. The problem is that before marriage, we rarely delve into our complexities. Whenever casual relationships threaten to reveal our flaws, we blame our partners and call it a day. As for our friends, they don’t care enough to do the hard work of informing us. One of the privileges of before marriage is, the sincere impression that we are really quite easy to live with.

Before getting married, couples should ask a question to each other, “How crazy are you”? Because each individual has some quirks and without getting married and intimate, most of these will remain hidden. A very smart hubby might turn out “momma’s boy” or may love to burp after each meal; or smart wife of yours, of bouncy and fluffy hair might be applying tons of pungent oil to her hair before sleeping!

Before getting married, the couple and their family generally check a few things. We try to understand the person and the family. We visit their homes. We look at their photos, we meet their college friends. All this contributes to a sense that we’ve done our homework. But we haven’t. Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be! We never make an attempt to find out the so-called “hidden” stuff! Most people don’t hide things purposely but they remain hidden because they were not checked. For example, a family may be very stingy or overly flamboyant!

We need to swap the Romantic view for an awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will  do the same to them, too. There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for.

This pessimistic thinking  offers a solution to a lot of distress and agitation around marriage. It might sound odd, but pessimism relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our romantic culture places upon marriage. The failure of our partner to save us from our grief and melancholy is not an argument against that person and no sign that a union deserves to fail or be upgraded. These are the brass tacks of life!

What matters in the marriage of feeling is that two people are drawn to each other by an overwhelming instinct and know in their hearts that it is right. Indeed, the more imprudent a marriage appears (perhaps it’s been only six months since the two met; one of them has no job or both are barely out of their teens), the safer it can feel. Recklessness is taken as a counterweight to all the errors of reason. To me, instinct is better than centuries old thoughts of unreasonable reasoning.

When Jaya and I got married at an early age, she had a teaching job and I was in the final term of graduate study. Instinct told us that “the stars” would match. Young age helped us overcoming the petal phase very easily because of lack of maturity. We had almost no professional experience hence whenever we discussed any differences of opinion, these were just that, discussion about differences of opinion! They never turned out into minutes of meeting kind of thing! During our last meeting…. blah, blah, blah! During these discussions, we learned to accommodate each other’s thoughts, ways of expressing things. (This is what maturity is all about!) No strong argument is good or bad; couples come to understand, over a period, the acceptable standards of nasty levels! We started understanding what other did not like! In courtship and honeymoon phase, the couples are literally on the moon! So, when the aircraft lands on the earth, quirks and warts become visible! Each human being has different moods through the day, like our blood pressure or sugar level keeps on going up and down! You can’t be in love 24/7!

Finally, we marry to make a nice feeling permanent. We imagine that marriage will help us to bottle the joy we felt when the thought of proposing first came to us. Perhaps we were in an office picnic, a new year party, we were together during a hike, with the evening sun setting behind the hills, chatting about aspects of our souls no one ever seemed to have grasped before, with the promise of dinner in the Chinese restaurant a little later. We married to make such sensations permanent but failed to see that there was no solid connection between these feelings and the institution of marriage. So next best is that we learnt to say after a particularly strong disagreement, “Honey, how about dinner at that Chinese place?”