The teacher and The Guru!

A couple of days back, we celebrated Guru Pournima. (Full moon night to revere the Guru) It was celebrated with enthusiasm, the latest version. Every sadness, joy, reverence, fear is displayed by us, these days in the only way we can. Forward a label or a sticker and throw in a couple of emojis. We are not supposed to or are allowed to write anything in our own words. We are afraid that we will be stigmatised if we do not find an appropriate thing to forward or publish. Some poor souls can not find the “original” forward; hence they push a forwarded forward. Come on, Pramod! When I was in school six decades back, my teachers had taught me to push forwards. They had such foresight; they knew that social media would take over the world.

Coming back to the title, a Guru means an influential teacher or a popular expert. A teacher means a person who teaches, especially in a school. On Jaya’s school WhatsApp group, there was a bit of a discussion which was confused about who is a teacher and a guru.


My school was Ram Mohan English School, Girgaum, in Bombay. My education was in Marathi till 11th grade, after which I went to Elphinstone College and then Engineering at COEP, Pune. The photo above was shared by my classmate Ashok, and it made my day. I have seen enough things in the world now, but I can proudly say that these teachers were as good as any. They are from left Joshi sir (Sanskrit), Naik sir (He was the head-teacher and taught us Marathi), Sabnis Teacher (Science- we used to call lady teachers “Teacher”), Kundaikar Sir (Maths), Mayekar Sir (English). They were outstanding by any standard, but importantly they were great human beings too! They would accommodate over-energetic students like me, though I ranked first in punishments.

I could write pages and pages about these dedicated people, but I will write only a couple of incidents. Mayekar sir was a Professor of French at Wilson College, but due to some health reasons, he moved to our school. He was simply terrific in his language, both written and spoken. His handwriting was out of this world. When I was in the 11th grade, he once called me to his home on a Sunday. I went there with apprehension. When I reached there, he said, “Panvalkar, I will guide for a few Sundays because I feel that you are good at English.” He simply wanted to help and guide me. He had foresight about me. I had never dreamt during those times that I would become a blogger writing stuff in English. Whatever hints he gave in those days, I was too busy noticing them, are surely helping me. Though Marathi is my mother tongue, the language in which I communicate normally, I think, and write in English, as if English is my first language.

Other teachers who guided me in life were Wadke teacher- I used to interact with her during extra-curricular activities like sports. Somehow she took a liking for me and was like my mother to me. She was the epitome of softness. Her daughter Mangal was my classmate. Dr Satynarayna, my HOD in the Metallurgy Department at COEP, my guide for M E, taught me how to make decisions fearlessly. He ensured that I completed my M E in two years and joined the industry.

Unfortunately, we remember all these souls only on Guru Pournima day. We also make an error in understanding the difference between a teacher and a Guru. We interact with teachers for a small duration. But Guru is one person who is in your life and is around all the time. The Gurus are of different varieties, the Osho variety of 92 Rolls Royce fame. He was also famous for his commune with a “free” life. You and I may not agree with his thinking, but hundreds of thousands of disciples tell a different story. The Gurus have been controversial, they have lived in five-star hotels during their travels. In my view, nothing is wrong with that. It is how they improved the lives of their followers. Pandurang Shastri Athawale was one such Guru of fishermen living in northern Maharashtra and Southern Gujarat coast. We find that the language used by him in sermons is primary. But it was meant for the fishermen who were having a troubled life as they were caught in binge drinking. Osho used to give a high level of sermons because people involved were from different categories. Many Gurus like Satya Saibaba who have done wonders for the society with the help of his followers. His “Gora” followers from many countries come to stay in his ashram and would offer their expertise free e. g. surgeons would go and perform free operations. There are, of course, frauds who have cheated people of their property, and we hear many cases of sexual exploitation of women. The cross-section of Gurus is very similar to our society. There are greats, some are good, and others are bad to horrible. But one thing is common in them. They are continuously in touch with their disciples.

I was lucky to have one such Guru in my life, Mahesh Kothari. He was CMD of Exedy India Ltd. We met in 1981 and were regularly in touch with each other until his death in January 2017. I was his business associate and advisor. When we became close and family, it is difficult to say. He never told me, what I should do in life.

I have traveled with him from Pune to Aurangabad many times, and he used to love driving. He would always share the driving time with me. We have had many chat sessions with only two of us, at the guest house. He would never tell me to do something in any specific way. He would share his experiences, he would explain many things, and for me, they were more of training sessions of life. He would care a lot about his family, and he was 100%, family man. I would absorb his way of thinking all the time. He loved his drink, but I was an occasional drinker. He taught me how to enjoy a paan at Tara Paan House in Aurangabad.

Aurangabad was his second home. He was so much involved in work that if he needed to visit a vendor quickly, he would hop behind on some one’s bike, if required, and rush to resolve some technical issue. All the people at the Aurangabad plant were his family. When someone from the factory was travelling abroad for the first time for work, he would personally make sure that the person had the clothing, suit, and vegetarian food if required. He wanted to ensure that nobody ran into unnecessary trouble in a foreign country.

He was an epitome of a Guru by guiding me through his deeds. He taught me to manage work-life balance. He taught me how to be reliable but gentle at the same time. He taught me how to keep on working all the time, at the same time, enjoying the fleeting moments in life. He was also very open to asking me for suggestions on work-related matters.

Friends, teachers teach you a subject or a skill. Gurus share their experiences; it is up to the disciple to pick up excellent points. Disciples are associated with the Guru for a long time. They see all traits of human aspects in the Guru; do not forget that gurus are humans. But teachers are associated with only the teaching aspect; in rare cases, one gets an opportunity like that offered by Mayekar sir or Satyanarayan sir! In rare cases, the teacher becomes a Guru like in the case of Acharekar sir and Sachin Tendulkar. But here, the disciple was an exceptional human being and continued to play cricket all through his life!

 

Angry and Frustrated- your tears won’t be wasted!  

tears1

When I talk to friends, the words worried, scared don’t come in the discussion. Careful is the word that is generally discussed in my age group. But lately, anger and frustration are some of the words that are now used often. Yesterday, a friend, Raju, said that he felt that people like us who are sitting in lockdown under the comfort of homes and cushion of money have become desensitised! Another friend Suya, alias Suhas was even more frustrated. He heard the news of 16 migrant workers who got crushed under a freight train. He discussed this with his family. His son in law, a young businessman, was frustrated and was very angry. He let his anger out and wrote down his feelings. I am sharing this note with you.

Suya

I have given the gist in English below.

The death of these migrant workers has shaken the young man to the core. What was their fault? These were daily wage earners who got stuck in a place thousands of km away from their native places. Is it a crime to feel like going home? Poor fellows were walking back home, along the railway track, as there was no conveyance available. Here he does not want to blame any system of governance or the government. Migrants felt that they have even lost the right to go home. One of the ladies gave birth to a child near Jalgaon on her way back home. How sad is the situation? There are rules and regulations, which is fine, only if people survive.  

The note written below is by my friend Suhas. It is in Marathi, so as usual, I have written the gist of what he has said, in Blue.

Suya1

Trying to keep democratic traditions, most of us behave like invalids- maybe we are mentally invalid. No government has understood the difference between giving support to the fallen, and to remove the felled dead bodies. The war against Corona cannot be fought by this invalidated society by taking away the poor migrants, or those who are breaking social distancing while purchasing the vegetables. These could as well be those standing in the queue for alcohol as if there is no tomorrow. To take these people away is not the way to fight this war. If we can not find the right way, then we should be prepared to remove the dead!  

 

He is a healthy person and runs his business. All of us may be giving help to deserving people. But these numbers are so large, and he feels helpless. Friends at least give these poor your real tears!

It is a real heart-breaking banter from the young man. Let me tell you he is a modern man. He and his wife had trekked to the Everest base camp. He has completed Iron Man!

How has the world reached this situation? Which direction will this take, and when will this be over? Many questions come to mind, and we realise that there are no answers.

Have things changed suddenly? No, they have not. The world always had a disproportionate distribution of haves and have nots. In the day to day grind of living, we all have no time to look at these things. We do discuss these things, sitting or on our terrace with light music in the background. There is, of course, a barbeque counter keeping great food going. In between our Dom Perignon’s and Teachers or Chivas Regal, we need to get the conversation going. So, we discussed the plight of daily wage earners. We sometimes discussed the slums and boasted how aggressively Dharavi, of one million people a square Km, is fast developing into an entrepreneurial hub. Bollywood comes up with movies like “Gully Boy”, showing that a Dharavi boy can become a rap hero of Mumbai. We go to the cinemas and pay a thousand rupees per head to see such movies.  These things do not change Dharavi.

I am using Dharavi as a metaphor, but these types of zopad pattis have existed since independence. Their number has been going up, the number of people living in each Basti is up all the time. I do not think that any human being likes to live in the squalid conditions that exist in these colonies.

We need to to understand the reactions of the young man above and that of my friend Raju. Our day to day grind has desensitised us to the difficulties faced by these people. We have learnt to let this happen in the background, continuing to live our life. Our “earbuds” are always in place, avoiding the din generated by the plight of these unfortunate people.

Briefly, we will see why this has happened. Let me assure you these issues are there the world over. In China, “old china” is always well hidden behind the great Chinese Wall of each megapolis. The most advanced and developed country the USA has 3.3 crores (33 million) people who have till date registered for the Government dole of US $1000/ pm as the current situation hits them. The US has a population of 330 million, and 10% of them have registered. Children and the elderly are not in the workforce, so the real number of force is 15 crores. So, 22% of the American workforce are daily wage earners who have no income currently. I am surprised that in one-month, finances of so many people are shattered. It means that poor people are poor whether you are in India or anywhere in the world, including the US!

India’s reasons for poverty are well known. The main reason being the plundering of wealth by the British. In the first forty years of independence, Indian experiments with Socialism/Communism made things worse. On top of that appeasement policies sent the population control policies to a toss. We have been boasting of “our large force” of people. At 33 crores, the US cannot reduce poverty, how could a country of 130 crores, with low per capita income levels could do it?

The pandemic brought all these issues out. Well-endowed people have some time in hand. I am happy that some of us have started thinking about the poor. The young man must be sensitive at heart and is not afraid to display his frustrations and anger. He gave path for his tears to flow like a river. I am sure that in future he will do something great for the society and will make us proud. His nervous energy will not let him be a silent spectator to the conditions of the poor! All the best young man!

India needs experts in various fields, but we need more people like this man to alleviate the situation of the poor in our nation. Somewhere, somebody will hopefully start this silent revolution of making the poor as the inclusive elements of our society. I pray to God that this reaction will become a chain reaction as we have in the atomic fission. I also hope that it will spread all over India and the globe.

I want to share some good news with you. Another friend, Anil’s sons, run a large construction business in Pune. Projects had come to a total halt, like everything else. While speaking to him the other day, he said that since their projects are in the rural zone, they have received permission to resume the work. I asked him, “From where you would get people?” He said, “Pramod, we had decided to retain all eight hundred people during the lockdown. We helped them with money and food, stay, and whatever was needed. Only twenty odd people went home. It is a routine yearly holiday when migrants go home. But these people have said that as soon as the transport starts, they will be back.” Great job Anil by you and your family. 👏👏👏

Young man, please do not lose heart. There are good people around. Many of them do not blow a trumpet that they have done something for society! I am sure that people are taking advantage of today’s situation for introspection. Raju you have a lot of social contacts, utilise them. Forget the politics, do it for society.

 Suhas, you and me, the retirees, can help the poor at least in our ecosystem. If each of us can support 2 to 5 people, in our COEP group, we would be helping 700 people regularly. It is doable!

The fusion- the story of the birth of Art!  

Friends, do you want to see how art is born? It was born in public in front of everybody on our COEP WhatsApp group.

Today I went back 50 years to COEP hostel days! What took me 50 years back today? Today Pravin and Sonya, my hostel mates created fusion art. Sonya is a prolific painter, and Pravin has been doing song shows post-retirement. He has his troupe! Pravin of late has become a poet too! These two guys have come together. Pravin wrote a poem, and Sonya drew an appropriate painting. Pravin topped it with giving the tune to his poetry and sang it within an hour. Wow! What more do you want when you have close friends who are great artists too! We could literally see the birth of art in front of our eyes!

SonyaPainting

The link below takes you to Pravin’s rendition of the poem! If the link does not click, copy-paste into your browser.

https://1drv.ms/u/s!Aq4ckSwupy2SmfN_D255tgEnl8n6gw?e=NoU8HJ

Now let me make a statement that older adults generally make! “In our days” or “In our times”, or some such thing! All of us were in our world and were the least bothered about the consequences in our college days! We were supposed to have come to COEP to take an engineering degree. We managed to get it finally, somehow, despite our best efforts otherwise. Engineering, as a subject taught us a lot of things. It showed the way to think practically and rationally. Logical thinking was another thing that we learnt during this course. But all this education was only a part of life skills. The remaining skill sets were acquired during the hostel stay.

What skill sets did we learn in the hostels about life? Everything. We played, chatted, fought, cheated and by dinner time or the breakfast the next day we were long lost friends again. Hostel life taught us how to live in a society or a group of people. We had Sharya, Nayan, Dada, Deepya, Rafya, Joseph, Jeram, Bhavya! The list is unending! We had some friends who were dedicated not to go to college.

We had Botya who became an encyclopedia of movies.  You heard a song, and he would tell the kundali of the film; the actors, producer, music director, lyricist, the actors on whom the song was picturised, and the general situation at the time of the song. Dear Botya, died early in 1994! We used to have music sessions going on in some rooms and card sessions in other places. We had friends, including yours truly, who would see on an average one movie every alternate day! Now, do you know how I have caught this frequency while publishing my blogs? We are traditionist! But those reaching the top in college exams and those who reached the top in life were different actors.

SonyaPravin

Colourful personalities Pravin and Sonya! With another friend Vilas at the centre!

Pravin, besides his singing, used to play cricket for the college. The video above is the song sung by Pravin during an intercollegiate competition, in which he won the second prize. He later was a project leader for a government company that manufactured submarines! Sonya came from a rural background and used to be shy initially. He simply merged into our C top gang. He ran a construction business!  (Successful, of course- it is taken for granted!) Sonya’s art below!

Hemya became MD of Tata Steel, Limbya (not from hostels) became a big shot in railway bridge design and is Pune Metro mentor. Abhya is a well-known consultant in Civil engineering stuff and a great photographer.  Deepya retired as a Colonel from the army!

600My journey to olden days will continue for some time. By writing this blog, I also wrote my thought process of how a blog is born in my mind. Some event, a meaningful poem, some sharp sentence from a movie or a book kick off grey cells in my mind. I started blog writing as a hobby- it continues to be so even today! But it has now become an elixir which invigorates my mind! I started writing blogs in 2011 but took to writing them sincerely for the last couple of years. Today my count tells me that I have completed 600 blogs- no big deal to me! I started to put the numbers while publishing, thanks to the suggestion by my dear friend Suresh; he is a writer in his own right and is also an expert in Metros!

What is so great about writing these blogs? Honestly nothing! In fact, one of my friends had once asked me, “Pramod, does anyone read your blogs?” Such sentences encourage me to write blogs. Here is the one based on his question.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/09/19/does-anyone-read-your-blog-pramod/

For the last several years, Jaya and I have been travelling to different places. While chatting, two us mentally go back to those places and enjoy the memories. But blog writing takes me to where ever I want. My hostel days were a journey, and now we realise that we had observed many personalities developing in front of us. Many life-long friendships were born. Some became factory owners, and others became senior armed forces officers. Each of us was absorbing something from the system.

My blog writing is just an opportunity for me to talk to all of you. In today’s lingo, it is my Zoom call with all of you, every alternate day. I have found a bug in Zoom too! WhatsApp group has a facility where only the admin can post. Similarly, I have found a secret setting in Zoom where only I can talk! What’s new Pramod? That you have been doing all these years consistently! But I have kept the option for you to comment on what I write! I hope none of you will ask, “Hey, Pramod, does anyone read your Blogs?” The answer is Yes! Yes! And Yes! Love you guys!

Big Namaste to you SIX HUNDRED TIMES! Thank you so much!

I will share another full poem (it is slightly longish) by Pravin. I could never imagine that someone could write a poem on my blogging!

Poetry is defined as a literary work in which the expression of feelings and ideas is given intensity using distinctive style and rhythm. I felt that this definition aptly expresses what Pravin has done!

I am writing the gist of the poem, in English, for those who do not understand Marathi! He has beautifully captured my early morning publishing by talking of 4.41 am (that was the number of the blog that day). He has explained the topics I chose for the blogs. He ends up with a line- should the records only be broken by great cricketers Sachin and Lara!  Panya is my nickname among friends!

 रेकॉर्डस ! 

उठा उठा सगळेजण ४-४१ वाजलेत 

मित्र हो मला सांगा, 

‘वेक अप कॉल्स ‘ काय फक्त अलार्म क्लॉकनेच  द्यायचे? 

‘इंपल्सिव- कंपल्सिव ‘ असो वा असो ‘हॅपिनेसचं पीक’ 

मित्रहो, मला सांगा, 

आयुष्याचे ‘स्प्रेड शीट्स्’ आपणच नाही का भरायचे? 

‘कला’, ‘संस्कार’, ‘ओल्ड एज’ वरचे ब्लॉग्ज  वाचता वाचता 

मित्रहो, मला सांगा, 

कशा कशात म्हणून रमायचे? 

नवनवीन विषयांचे ब्लॉग्ज  ,भावनीक आशयांचे ब्लॉग्ज  , 

मित्रहो, मला सांगा, 

पान्याने नाही तर काय पाणिनी ने लिहायचे? 

चार शतकानंतर अजून खूप शतके गाठायचीत 

मित्रहो, मला सांगा, 

रेकॉर्डस काय फक्त सचिन – लारानेच करायचे? 

Are you exhausted? 

The other day, I was speaking with my friend Sudhakar about a blog I had written. Many friends discuss my blogs with me, and I like it when others write their opinion. These interactions activate my brain cells to think further. Different views make me understand how others feel about the subject. My blog is unimportant to me, but the discussions are critical. These discussions help me to think more broadly.

Sudhakar asked me if I get exhausted after I complete a blog! Honestly, I do not know. My favourite subject is human relationships and human interactions. I write on different topics, but these are the topics which I enjoy, the most. But recently some of the blogs I have written have been tough to handle for me too! The subjects have been difficult like the pandemic, resetting of life, Corona experience of my family member living in London. I came to know yesterday, that another family member living in Singapore was in-home quarantine as his colleague in the office was found positive. Usually, our thinking is that accidents, cancer and heart attack happen to someone else and in some other families. We feel that we are always safe. But the moment events hit our family, we realise that nobody is safe in this world against such occurrences. There is solace that this is part of nature. These events bring to our mind the fact that a hundred years in human life is not even a blip on the big canvas. Yes, I do get exhausted when the subject handled is tough. Sometimes, I get incredibly irritated too!

Human mind and body are the ultimate designs created by Him. Sometimes we feel that we are superior or bigger than Him! But do not forget that it is He who has shaped our mind; we can think that “We are the Best”! It is like a democracy where each person can express his views, but that person must fall in line with the bigger picture. Let us go back to my blogs.

Sachin Tendulkar played his first innings in one day international as an opener against new Zeland. It was a life-changing event for him.

Sonu Nigam similarly has a life-changing song displayed below from the movie Pardes. He feels that it is his iconic song!

On similar lines, I can claim (ahem) that “Dance of Civilisation” is my iconic blog. Okay, am I bragging by comparing me with two greats? Friends many times tell me that I am a show-off, anyway!

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2016/01/19/dance-of-civilization/

On a serious note, I used to totter in those days when I wrote my blogs. But when I wrote the title “Dance of Civilisation”, I knew how I was going to complete the blog. The idea had come to my mind to slow down the time to match my granddaughter Rhea’s speed- she was two years old. The journey involved from home to the Mandir and back was a five-minute journey. We used to extend it to forty-five minutes! I started absorbing the happenings around. I had started enjoying that journey with her by slowing down my speed by meandering instead of making a quick visit to the Mandir. I began to understand the meaning of slowing down; over a period, I have learnt this art of slow journey.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/04/24/do-nothing-holiday/

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/09/23/montreal-musings-day-to-day-life-ii/

It also reflects in some other blogs like “Do nothing Holiday”,  and “Montreal Musings” (five blogs). Is it worth rushing into everything? Is it necessary? Do I want to eat my Alphonso Mango in a jiffy or I should enjoy it at leisure? Rush. Rush and rush has been the name of the game for the last 30 years at least. But why? Why are we always in a hurry? Writing the “Dance of Civilisation” blog did not tire me; it showed me a path of slowing things down.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/07/06/mahesh-bhai/

There have been some obituaries. These are about some public entities and some persons who were personally dear to me! While writing obituaries, there was a bit of sadness- most had lived a reasonably long life except Sridevi. While writing these blogs, I reminisced in the old times about the joys these people had given me, the guidance they had given me. By this time, I was old enough to know that everyone must go at some stage! Luckily in the case of Mr Sen, I could meet him at his grandson’s marriage reception, a few days before he died. In the case of Maheshbhai, Jaya and I met him and Nauka in Bombay home for almost an hour, a couple of months before his death. It reminded me of my chat sessions with him in Aurangabad and our visits to Tara Paan house in Aurangabad. When people close to you pass, it is best to remember good times with them and enjoy them.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2017/05/21/abode-musings-about-first-phase-of-my-life/

I have taken many journeys to my school days, Dhobi Talao days and COEP days. These travels back in time, always refresh and rejuvenate me. I remember many old friends, events, stupidities and fun. I am sure all of us have this phase in life, and enjoy the times shared with these friends from old times. It saddens you when you come to know that your long lost friend is at a stage where you will never want even your enemy to be! Recently I came to know about a friend who is psychologically shattered. Such events show you that in the best times of our lives, childhood, we never imagined which path our friends will find during their lives. A friend became alcoholic- he tended to be risky in childhood too. But the friend mentioned above could be called an average person, was dealt a lousy hand by destiny. Even at the age of 70, I find it difficult to accept this situation.

I was surprised when Sudhakar asked me if I get tired after completing a blog. After thinking in leisure, I admittedly feel some emotions, including feeling exhausted. That is the initial reaction but, in the end, what I get is a feeling of satisfaction and achievement. I get this feeling when I can write some blogs in one go! When I write about certain subjects, I know from within me how the blog will come out. But sometimes, I am not so sure, but at some stage during writing, things click in mind. Then I know that I am through! I get intuition when I am writing some blogs, but in some cases, I plod!

I knew why Sudhakar asked me this question. He is a prolific painter- he is also a civil engineer! For him, the painting is a new creation, every time. In my case, I can delete and rewrite a few sentences or even paragraphs. But while painting, I don’t think that is possible. The limitation must be exhausting Sudhakar, every time he completes his painting.

A painting by Sudhakar on Ramnavami!

WhatsApp Image 2020-04-12 at 16.29.30

Bad news is always true, sadly! A Tribute!

WhatsApp Image 2020-04-02 at 11.08.48

Our thinking changes as we mature, at least we think so. When talking to younger people, we say “Oh! I have seen many deaths! You learn to take them in stride as you grow older and mature!” Both right and wrong! Probably what we learn over a period is to overcome the same earlier than other people.

Ullya phoned me last night to check if I knew that Ramya had died in the evening. (Pardon the pet names- we have been using these for more than fifty years so changing that habit is going to difficult.) Ramya is Ramesh Purandare; he passed out of the Electrical Engineering course with us.  Ramya was a friend, but then he was a friend to all. He lived in Sadashiv Peth while in college, and we knew his elder brother Suresh too. Ramesh was our teammate from the softball team. He made all his career in Pune in a company called Mark Elektrics and was their GM.  Vijay, another friend got in touch with the company to get his photo. They shared some photos and other details about him immediately.

 

Today morning when I woke up, I had another three messages from friends who were in our softball team. As per the blog title, the news proved to be true! It made me sad, but at the same time, I went into a reverie! With this, I went back fifty years and remembered my COEP and hostel days. So, pardon me for the second time using the short or pet names!

Ramya was a jovial person, and he had a quicksilver mind. He used to make a pun (not fun) while chatting. We had two or three locations in our college where groups used to have the adda going between two lectures; many times, the sessions continued during lectures too! Ramya had acted in a famous drama called “Zopi Gelela Jaga Zala.” He had played the role of a Parsee gentleman. It was in our college gathering. He had performed well for an amateur. A minor coincidence! I had played the same role in the drama ten years later in our Colony Ganapati festival.

While playing softball, Ramya was aggressive. He used to be the catcher and would control the game by guiding others to perform. He had a clear view of the field, as he was the catcher. But he had a good judgement of what was happening in the game. We would change the tactics in between as per his suggestions. Once in a match, I dropped two catches one after another! He came running to me and said, “Panya, don’t worry, it can happen to the best. Be a little patient, and your confidence will come back.” We finally won that match. Usually aggressive, Ramya was soft and patient with me on my bad day!

When Ramya was in any group, there would always be laughter! He had stories to tell. He would sometimes share stories of how he had goofed up and would laugh about it.

Taking forward my argument about becoming mature in the face of death, I would say that in most of the cases, it is true. But when some close friend from college days dies it hits you. It would be bravado when I say that I can easily handle Ramya’s death. Ramya and I infrequently met after college days, as typically happens. Both of us had settled in Pune, but we were all busy making our careers and raising our families. I would get updates about him from common friends.

Different people handle such situations differently. I had shared the top photo on our WhatsApp group. Sharya, my roommate in the hostel days reacted with a comment, “This is not Ramya as I remember. Will someone forward his picture from Modern cafe where we used to meet. RIP RAMYA! With cancer, Panya has reported I think he has escaped the sufferings and that is what we expect.”

I replied to Sharya, “Sharya whether we like it or not, the years take their toll! I only met Ramya a couple of times in the last 15 years or so. Before that, I went to his office whenever I was on that side. Changes do take place in everyone, but your memory recalled the time when you last saw him , i.e. when we were in college! We also change, but we don’t realise it.”

I remember an incident when my mother died years back. A nephew of mine lives in the US. When we called him to inform him about the death, he just would not accept it. For about seven/eight years, he had not come to India. He said, “Oh, come on! How could she die? She was so healthy and looked hale and hearty!” I told him, “Buddy since you last saw her, she had become weak and had become frailer. She did have some health issues, and she was tapering off!” Finally, he accepted death. Sharya’s response was something similar. He could not imagine that Ramya was also seventy plus and his photo appears to have been taken after his first cancer treatment which had taken toll of his body.

There are some cynical “rascals” of friends. ( I am using the word rascals in the good sense) They were actually shaken but were trying to show bravado by making some funny and awkward jokes. Ramya would have laughed loudly at those jokes.

Ramya, buddy, what was the hurry to go? But I know that you were a disciplined person. When HE called, you must have just said to near ones, “Ok, HE has called me. I need to go!” I know that you must have gone through a lot of pains for the last couple of years. Chemo and Radiations do batter one’s body! (Probably you were not aware that I had gone through the same treatment six years back) If I had known about your illness, I would come to share with you my experiences. We could have discussed some strategy on the home turf! In that field Ramya, I was more senior to you!

I got all the final details from our common friend Dipya. Ramya I am sure you faced the onslaught bravely. We sports persons are used to victory and loss. But in the final “call” there is loss as far as others are concerned. But you must have accepted it bravely. I am sure, if we had been in touch, you would have told me, “Panyaaa, don’t you come for the final rites with pandemic around.”

The philosophers always say that you come alone in this world and go back alone. Ramya you followed the philosophy to the last T! None of your friends could come to see you merge with HIM! Come on, man, you chose a slightly wrong time to go. You had hundreds of friends, but none could say bye-bye to you for the final time!

Don’t worry all of us are outwardly trying to show that we are brave, but in solitude, you know what will happen!

Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli Haaye! 

Zindagi Kaisi Hai Paheli Haaye  

Kabhi To Hansaaye Kabhi Yeh Rulaaye 

These are the lines of a famous song by Rajesh Khanna in the movie Anand and sung by Manna Dey. I am surprised that for different situations in our lives, we always have an appropriate song available from Hindi movies!  

The meaning of these two lines is  

Our life is a great puzzle. Sometimes it makes us laugh, and at other times it makes us cry! Out moods change with the situations we face in life.  

Today morning, I was in a great mood as we had crossed the figure of 200 friends and spouses participating in our COEP batch of 1971 Golden Jubilee celebrations. We are going to celebrate this grandly and are trying to get as many confirmations as possible. We are planning for a date one year hence, as many of our engineering batch mates live abroad. Some have confirmed, already. Besides this, many of our friends stay far away from Pune-Mumbai area. They also need time to plan. Some friends go and visit their children staying in foreign countries. We want to increase participation as much as possible. Now we are targeting 300 nos. I was delighted and by talking to others made more plans. I was happy! I was on cloud nine.

An hour after this, a childhood friend from my Bombay days called. I had a sore throat issue, so I sent him a message that I could not receive his call. He called me again after half an hour. So, I took the call. He said, “Pramod, you don’t speak. I understand your difficulty, but I want to share something with you.” Then he shared the plight of a common friend from childhood. We were a group of about ten to fifteen boys, and our fathers were police officers. Our families had typical middle-class ethos. The idea of living life in the early sixties of the last century was play like hell, whatever game we could play. Outdoor games were cricket and football. Indoor games were carrom, table-tennis and badminton. During exam times, all of us would study (our parents thought otherwise), and we did reasonably well in our education. Many became engineers, some doctors and a few became bankers. Now, this friend did his bachelor’s degree in science and joined Air India.  

With the usual twists in life, our friend was blessed with a child. The child was perennially sick. The child’s illness was a significant drain on his finances and his family life. He took early voluntary retirement (or was he coerced?) in the first decade of this century. Maybe he got a lump sum which he thought may be useful. (He forgot about improved longevity) He moved from Thane to rural area near Pune; probably he did not have enough money to live in a city. He would rarely come to Pune, which was natural. But my friend (who phoned) was in touch with him.  

Ten years back, his daughter passed away. It must have been a blessing on his finances, but emotionally the husband-wife must have been stretched to the maximum. My friend offered to help him with psychiatristhe also suggested that he move to an older people’s home. (My friend was willing to support there financially!) Things did not work out.

My friend got the news that our man had started waiting near ATM’s and had started asking for alms! ( He was falling short on his quota of cigarettes!) Even hearing this news brought numbness in me! It is the tears part of the Zindagi! How could person from such a background reach a nadir in his life?  

Humans always say that childhood is the best part of life! There are no responsibilities, and there are no plans. We meander in childhood, collecting joyous moments most of the time. The saddest part of childhood is when parents would not allow us to go out and play or it could be a tragic day was when we could not pinch that four ana coin to buy a cola! Life was straightforward during childhood. When we get into the humdrum of life, but we are not aware of it. We get many lessons during childhood that we ignore. Now when I retrospect, I realise that our friend was not sharp like most of the others in the groupDoes it mean that if we do not absorb the experiences at all the stages of life, it is going to hit us badly at some time?  

I had spoken to this friend a few months back after fifty years. (We had lost touch) He has three siblings, but they are not supporting him. It is, of course, one side of the story! But had the siblings helped him irrespective of friend’s response, matters would not have reached this stage. (Maybe!)  

Writing this piece has been stressful, but nowadays writing is a therapy that I have found which brings peace of mind back to me. Some people get it by going for a walk, and some go and climb hills. Luckily, most of my friends have remained away from alcohol in such situations. It is a drain on your pocket and your body.    

The filming of the song displayed above is done beautifully. The hero is down with cancer and is taking a stroll on a beach. The song starts with the hero playing with colourful balloons but never showing the churning going on in his mind. The churning is indicated by the waves which break on the shore. In the last part of the song, the lyricist says we have enjoyed the fun and frolic of life together. But in the end, we must go alone. That final part of the journey is always done alone!  

I am still not very sure how my friends’ life will move forward. At this stage of life, a shortage of funds, the stretched relations between husband and wife can create a tough situation. 

It looks like I am in a filmy mood today and the situation reminded of another Hindi song from the movie Guide. S D Burman sings it. I am giving below part of the lyrics. 

No one is there awaiting you 
No one is looking forward to your arrival nobody felt your pain, and no one shed a tear for you whom can you call your own? 
so where will you go, o traveller 

The video link of the song is below. 

I am awaiting my friend to give me the update, but honestly, I am not very hopeful. Once a person gives up hopes, it is difficult to bring him back.  

The latest update that I got is not very encouraging. Our man may require institutionalisation. Who would have thought that the situation will reach such a stage in life!

Regarding another blog of mine, a friend commented, “Pramod, we have crossed the threshold where we make can many changes to our life.” But maybe he is right or, maybe he is wrong too! One should keep on trying. Friend, some younger people also read my blogs so it may be useful to them to do the course correction.  

One thing for sure, this episode has churned my mind! The beauty is I consider myself a big optimist!  

Perceptions and Grudges!

Perception is how something is regarded, understood, or interpreted. A grudge is a persistent feeling of ill will or resentment resulting from a past insult or injury. Though these two words have different meanings, these are interlinked in our day to day lives. An event takes place; we meet someone. We meet people for work, or we also meet casually. We meet known people or unknown people.  

According to my understanding, the perception comes into play firstthen the grudge may be formed if any. The same event is looked at by people in different ways. If five people are discussing why sales are going down, there will be ten different views. But some people have particular perception of the situation and do not accept opinions from others.  

Perception is best described by the story of an Elephant and five blind men. Each man thinks and depictthe elephant differently because he cannot see the whole elephant. They describe the elephant depending on the part they have touched. But in this case, the men are blind and cannot see the entire elephant. But in life, we also look at many situations like blind men. We are not blind, but our perceptions create a tunnel vision in our mind. We look at situations through that tunnel vision. Tunnel vision can also be compared with a narrow mind. The term narrowminded has been created for such thought process 

Why doe this happen? Why people become narrowminded? Why are people not willing to be open? It depends on how you are brought up from childhood, what experiences you get during childhood, younger days and later. Is this a good trait? The effect of such thinking is what many times leads to situations that are difficult to handle and can become complicated 

The net effect of perception leads to grudges. That is how perceptions and grudges are hands in glove! Sometimes, in addition to this, the ego also gets added to this mix. That then becomes a deadly situation.  

Take the example of Kashmir. British had the whole Indian subcontinent under their rule for 150 years. When we got independence, they divided the subcontinent based on religion. India and Pakistan were created. But about Kashmir, both India and Pakistan had different perceptions which have led to 70 years of continuous conflict. Both sides think that Kashmir is rightfully theirs. Pakistan believes so because the majority population there is Muslim. But Kashmir Raja was Hindu, so he had agreed to join India. Rest as they say is history. 

Recently I came to know about the situation in a family. I know both the brother and the sister. We went to the sister’s home for chitchat. While chatting, I asked her how her brother was? She said that he was fine, with the usual routine problems in life. After some more discussion, she said, “While chatting, I remembered about our mother who died several years back.” She said, “When I was talking about our mother, my brother looked upset and suddenly said, you don’t even take her name in front of me again. I was taken aback and stopped the subject. I don’t know what had happened between the two. I don’t even remember any specific incident or clash between two of them. What grudge was formed by him against her, I don’t know.” It is a case of a family of all educated people. Outwardly I knew there was some friction, but it is prevalent between any two people. It is there between husband and wife, parents and children. Sometimes a sibling gets more support and love from parents, but there are reasons for it. Whether those reasons are right or wrong is a matter of perception. But this lady felt that it was unfortunate when she realised that her brother had a big grudge about their mother.  

Perceptions and grudges make things difficult for everybody. As we grow from childhood to adulthood, we meet and see many people. We form our opinions about them, sometimes without giving the benefit of the doubt to that person. A friend was a Chairman of a medium-sized company; his colleagues used to be afraid of him as he was a bit short-tempered. But inwardly he was a soft person. He always would ask his colleagues about their family, the children and small details about everything at their home. He was so helpful that when one of his senior managers was to go to Japan, for the first time, he made sure that he had enough winter clothing and business suits. The manager was a vegetarian, and the boss suggested to him the ways of getting the right vegetarian food. The outwardly strict person had a personality which could be compared with coconut, hard from outside and soft from within with sweet water inside — those who did not know him from close thought that he was a tough person. 

Grudges sometimes can be funny also. I joined COEP, Pune in 1967, and I got admission to the hostel. There used to be different food messes run by the students. There was a different type of food in each mess. Two were cosmopolitan, which served non-vegetarian food. Then there was one with typical Maharashtrian food, another one used to serve Maharashtrian spicy food and one used to serve Gujarati type of food. I wanted to join the mess which used to serve typical Maharashtrian food. The committee would interview the prospective candidates. The committee consisted of senior students. I was not admitted. Hence, I joined a cosmopolitan mess. During my third year, I had become senior enough and moved the Maharashtrian mess. During a chat with the committee, I asked them why I was not admitted in the first place. I was told, “You were from Bombay, and you wore a bold striped shirt for the interview. So, the majority of the committee thought that I was showing attitude!” That used to be the perception about us Bombay guys in the late 60s of the last century. I had observed that some of the students from Pune would not talk to us guys. We were supposed to be smart and a half! Later, some of them have become very dear life-long friends. It was just a matter of perception. Luckily, they did not let the perception to convert into a grudge!  

Now in my golden years, after travelling all over the world, meeting different professionals from various fields and different countries. I have understood that humans are the same everywhere. Perceptions and grudges are common traits in all human beings. Lucky ones like me did not come into contact with too many of this type! Unless of course, now some might think that I have become equivalent of Boston Brahmin! (By the way, I am a Pune Brahmin in real life)  🙂🙂

 

 

Feeling lonely?

Am I feeling lonely? Am I feeling sad? Am I a person looking for sympathy? Am I full of negativity? These and many such questions have been coming to my mind since last evening. Another doubt that also came in my mind is, do I deserve this? Such thoughts came into my mind and then suddenly during the day, today,  I read a couple of beautiful stories. Today we went out to Nikhil and Priya’s friend’s home for breakfast; ended up into an excellent affair which turned the food event from breakfast to brunch to lunch. Jaya and I had met them only the second time.  

Love1

We could see optimism in these four young people added to it was the joy of Rhea, my granddaughter’s banter and frolics. Suddenly the Doubtful Thomas from my mind went for a toss, and original Pramod re-entered,  after the famous Canadian Siesta! What made this change? Why the initial trauma which is not the normal Pramod?  

On our WhatsApp group on the previous day, an event had taken place. Except for a very few friend’s, nobody knows the real story. An old batchmate, who lives in California had joined back after a couple of years of gap. Even at that time, he had left the group in a huff due to disagreement. He has been undergoing chemotherapy for some time, and currently, he has fifteen manageable days in any month and fifteen bad days after chemotherapy. I will not delve into details of what happened (the group is 70 years plus batchmates of COEP 71, the famous engineering college in Pune) because those are unimportant.  

It was the acts of people, sometimes actual act and sometimes knowingly remaining silent that caused the episode. I realised that it is the act of silence or behaving with less empathy and love must have caused pain to the friends themselves, other than the affected friendI am not even discussing the main actor in this event. Some were magnanimous and openly declared their remorse, whereas others did not. When we behave abnormally, I am sure our blood pressure goes up. Possibly our blood sugar levels also shoot up for a temporary period. The event that occurred was so immaterial that it is not even worth discussion.  

What brought me back to normality? There were a couple of stories I read which told me that everything is all right with this world — the first story I am sharing verbatim. 

Story 1 

The first time I met Mayor Pete, I was working in the ER, very shortly after finishing my residency and moving back to South Bend. I was caring for a little Somali boy who had nearly hanged himself. We had no Arabic translator immediately available that could help me talk with his mother, and we were working on getting one of the phone translation services when a young man in a suit showed up and just started translating. I assumed the hospital had found and sent down an official translator because translators at the hospital where I did my residency training always wore suits. The boy was gravely ill, and I did not bother to ask who the new translator was, but he spent about an hour with the mother and I, just helping me talk with her about his treatment and his prognosis. Then he followed her and her son up to the ICU when the boy was admitted. During the whole event, he never mentioned who he was or said anything to take the focus away from caring for this little boy and his family. 

About an hour later, he came down from the ICU and shook my hand before he left. I asked him how long he had been a translator with the hospital, and he very casually replied, “I don’t work for the hospital, I’m Mayor Pete.” He shook my hand and left without another word. He had come and done what he needed to do and was on his way, either home or back to work. 

I learned later that he had simply heard over the police scanner that we needed an Arabic translator at the hospital for this tragic situation and just wanted to help. In addition to studying at Harvard, being a Rhodes scholar, working as a McKenzie consultant, he spoke fluent Arabic and worked for Navy intelligence in the Middle East. He is a pretty amazing guy, has done incredible work here in South Bend, and will do great things for the country I hope.” 

Love2

Story 2 

I only read about this event so, I am describing it in my wordsA lady in her early seventies was detected with Alzheimer. There have been sad stories about people with Alzheimer. She was lucky to have husband, a very caring person. The disease was following the typical path. Once their young maid did a few dance steps when they were listening to an old song. The husband noticed his wife’s shining eyesHe saw this and signalled to the maid to continue with the steps. In those ten minutes, it appeared as if the wife went into a trance; she was in her own different world. The loving husband realised that the wife’s musical traits had woken up. He experimented with her favourite old Hindi songs, and it worked. They changed the home atmosphere and made everything musical. Their children lived in different cities and used to come whenever they could make it, to meet their mother. The progress of the disease had slowed down. Then they found accidentally that the lady liked to use crayons. A family with a young child had come to meet them. The lady enjoyed his crayons and did some painting. 

Along with old Hindi songs, crayons and drawing books, some colourful posters of butterflies, birds and trees were put everywhere. Alzheimer almost forgot the lady’s address. But life is never rosy. After a few good years, it’s speed increasedand the lady started going down again. But with the alert act by the husband who was also eighty plus, the family had good five years, in spite of Alzheimer. Was it only alertness? Or was it love? Was it empathy? He had his heart in the right place and wanted his wife to be a little more cheerful for as many years as possible. 

Do you show love and empathy only if the person is related to you? To me, friends are the second family to everybody. Age does not play any role. I can be friends with a six-month-old baby or six-year-old boy! I love to interact with 30-year-olds and fifty-year-old. My friends from school and college times are, of course, 70 plus. Those who are in reasonably good health feel as if they are fifty. But I find that most have their heart in the right place.  

When the world can be so lovely, who is bothered about the nitty-gritty of life? I may sound like a preacher, talking of love and empathy all the time; but that is what we should have in this world full of abundant heartless behaviour. With the heart in the right place, humans automatically are graceful and soft in the way, they react to any situation.  

Are there any online courses available that teach you how to behave with empathy and love? Are there any procedures available that bring your heart in the right place? Harsh behaviour and reactions are the cause of your bad experiences at your different stages of life. Simply remember that we are all born the same way, and we are also going to die the same way. We are on a voyage or a cruise, so why not make the best use of the same? Make it enjoyable instead of having self-inflicted wounds. Just take a look below the skin of any person, we are all the same!  

Read this when you have time! 

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-involved/world-alzheimers-day 

Does anyone read your blog, Pramod?

I publish my blogs on WordPress and share them with friends on WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter and email. One friend on a WhatsApp group wrote to me a poignant message, “Pramod? Anybody reading your blog? 😄😄” Honestly, I do not know how I should react to such comments. On our group itself, there was a big discussion on the blog referred by this friend, which was the result of many people reading my blog.

By remaining silent, I may encourage him to write more such remarks. If I had replied to my friend, I would not have gained anything. I don’t need to explain and justify to anyone why I write blogs. Writing has now become part of my daily routine. I feel very uncomfortable if I am not able to read or write on any day. So, it would be like explaining to my friend why I breathe!

Then a thought came to my mind; the WhatsApp group which I am talking about are my classmates who are mostly in the age group of 70 plus. Recently one of our classmates celebrated his 75th birthday. So, my friends are getting older. Old age brings specific difficulties as you age. A few friends have only biologically aged, but some have aged mentally also. Illnesses are something totally different. Diseases can catch you unawares at any age; nobody is ever prepared for serious illness. But I also want to share with you that some of my friends have remained quite fit; they still travel and work. Some others are mentally very alert and enjoy life fully in the golden phase of life.

I am sharing my thoughts about those friends who are unwell, not fit enough or those who have decided that they have become old. The idea came in my mind after reading the lovely message sent by my friend, which was discussed above. I feel bad for him. Is he unwell? Is he mentally disturbed for some reason? I am also going to share the experiences of other friends and how some of them handled tough situations.

Let me start with our friend. I had called him a few months back to find out how he was. He said that currently, he was not keeping good health and hence did not feel like attending group meetings. I assumed that he must be getting himself treated by doctors. But his messages on the group indicate that something is not right. He writes vague; he sometimes asks meaningless questions. Sometimes he asks queries about some messages after a week. Maybe he is not using WhatsApp regularly. But the quality of his messages indicates that he should take more care of his health. Initially, he used to send messages about some unproven non-conventional treatments on serious ailments like cancer! Even after suggesting to refrain from posting such messages, he continued. At the end of one group dinner, I had to publicly tell him the ill effects of sending details about unproven treatment for severe illnesses like cancer. Before he questioned me about my knowledge on the subject, I told him, “Last year, I was treated for cancer for three months. I am talking from my personal experience.”

I will share some good sides of the group! All of us were together in Engineering College (COEP) in Pune. During our careers, many have done well. But it is interesting to know what some of us are doing during the golden phase of life. Vilas has become a well-known palmist and teaches palmistry. He is very busy doing what he enjoys. Vasant has gone into social work but never talks about it unless asked. Another friend is active in writing about Tatwadyan. A friend Suresh still works full time but takes Yoga courses in Sydney, Australia. Rajendra has kept himself busy in teaching Brahmavidya. I want to tell him jokingly that he is more active now than he used to be during his career.

I write blogs on varied subjects but never wrote anything about our group. Our friend Shashi is instrumental in getting and keeping people together. He comes up with novel ideas and starts some discussion on a subject. Such messages invoke a lot of comments and reviews which includes criticism too. But these things make the group lively. Another activity we have on the group is solving puzzles Sudhakar and Shriniwas are the maths wizards from the group. Hats off to them. They are very comfortable with anything to do with maths.

For obvious reasons I am not writing the names of some friends when I write about them. A couple of them are down with paralysis — from ten months to two and a half years. One of them also needs the support of the pacemaker for his heart! Friends go and meet them. A friend is going through chemotherapy every month. He has 15 bad days every month. But all of them are bravely facing what destiny has given them.

WhatsApp Image 2019-09-18 at 17.47.27

I found this beautiful message on the internet and found that it is very appropriate. These friends who are going through significant illnesses, and are handling them bravely. One of our friends has almost become blind due to diabetes issues. How can we contribute to making their life a little more exciting? In the same vein as in the message above I will say, “Let our friends enjoy our WhatsApp banter. It is their only current way of communicating daily with many friends. We should show them empathy- I will never use the word “Sympathy”. These are our brave friends, so they need empathy. On the group, there are specific rules and regulation which all must follow, but if these friends break the norms once in a while, we can softly and personally inform them, or the best way will be to talk to them. Don’t forget that a friend has 15 bad days every month. Other friends are going through the tough grind every day. At least to me, their words will be like a beautiful song to me; let us not have cages made of stringent rules. We need not be very rigid!  Provide them with a tree to sit on! If in our golden period, we are not able to empathise and give love to others, when are we going to do it? We need to throw away that small word EGO from our system, which will make us softer and better human beings.

To my dear friend who asked me if anyone reads my blogs! Friend, why not try and read some of my blogs. Especially read the current one. It is about love and empathy. Throw the ego and sarcasm away. Have you forgotten that we have two gems or diamonds, in our group, whichever way you want to describe? Sonya and Pravin! How much pleasure do they give us by sharing their paintings, poems, small gems of information from literature or old poems? Pravin has lately become शीघ्र कवी. He quickly writes poems on the current topics of discussions. He recited some of them during Poona Club lunch; you missed them.

Finally, reply to your query. First, there is one person who reads my blog, me! 🙂🙂 Friend one of my blogs last year was read by 675 people, and a recent one was read by 350 people. In a year, thousands read my blogs from the world over. How do I know this? Whenever anyone reads my blog, I get a message that is how I know the details. If you have the fear that I am making money on writing blogs, no, I am not! Are you even aware that Vijay Saheta has already written his first blog a couple of weeks back? Ravi Mahuli writes hundreds of blogs about Ved and Tatwadyan. So please try and keep your mind open. Try and read a few. Maybe you would start writing blogs about your favourite subject, Farmers and their issues!  Do some research, and you will know that the blog can be written in any language.

I love when people ask me questions about what I write. It helps me improve further and makes me think differently, thereby increasing my horizon. Your three or four words gave me a subject for the blog! A big thank you!

Why do I blog?

 

blogI will tell you why I am writing this blog. But let me start with what is a blog. A blog is a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style. 

The subject of my blog writing came up recently when we batchmates from COEP met for lunch. The current blog is my 474th blog. A friend asked me, “Hey, Pramod! What is your target for writing blogs? 500 or a thousand or what?” I told him, “Look, I never started writing the blogs with any thoughts. I started fiddling around in 2011. In the first 3 to 4 years, maybe I wrote about fifty blogs. Later on, when I was recuperating from my cancer treatment in 2014, I had time on hand. I was in retrospection mode. I realised that I had started enjoying blog writing. I have written blogs to put together thoughts that come to mind. The idea was never to have any target for the number of blogs I wanted to write. At that time, I would have been most pleased if I had reached a figure of 150.

I started getting more and more time as my professional work tapered off, and now that I am almost retired, blogging keeps me busy and interested. I discuss a subject with someone, I read somewhere, and there you are. I realised that there is a blog lurking behind any event that is happening in our beautiful, and sometimes not so beautiful world. Sometimes, it is personal; at other times, it is general. Sometimes it is about something of national or global nature. But there is no dearth of subjects. I am also lucky that I had Mr Mayekar as my English teacher in school. I have done my education till 11th grade in Marathi medium, but I started learning English from 7th grade. Mayekar sir’s encouragement made me comfortable in English. I am sure he would have been happy to read a few of my blogs. He would always say, “Written words become interesting if you put your heart in your writing.” Blogging is now my passion.  

Now the title, why do I blog? There is a reason why this question has come up. A friend from our WhatsApp group seems to be having some issues with my sharing of the blog on the group. Honestly, I do not have any problem with this, but since he is my batchmate, and known to me, I am a little worried about his questioning. I get a feeling that he has some health issues which creates his reactions that look awkward on the group. Now, some other friends from the group have been writing comments on my writing, but I feel that this friend needs to understand what a blog is and why people write a blog.  

First and foremostblogs are written for commercial purpose to make money, but many people, like me, blog for non-monetary considerations. There are many such reasons. One of them is passion. In India, the blogging culture is yet to spread as it has spread in western countries.  

At its core, writing is a form of communication. It is about recording thoughts on paper and making others think, argue and sometimes even agree with the writing. To that end, writing (just like every other form of communication that has ever existed) improves with practice. Blogging will not force you to become a better writer; it’ll just happen as you do it. And becoming a better writer holds significant benefits for the rest of your life—whether you are creating a book, a presentation, a résumé, or an anniversary card for your spouse. 

You’ll become a better thinker. Because the process of writing includes recording thoughts on paper, the blogging process encourages you to stop and think deeper. You will delve deeper into the matters of your life and the worldview that shapes them. Unfortunately, at this point, many will choose not to blog (or write at all) based on the faulty reasoning that they “have nothing to say.” But to that line of thinking, I always respond the same way, maybe you just haven’t discovered yet what you have to say. 

You’ll develop an eye for meaningful things. By necessity, blogging requires a filter. It’s simply not possible to write about every event, every thought, and every happening in your life. Instead, blogging is a never-ending process of choosing to articulate the most meaningful events and the most critical ideas; but this a personal perspectiveThe process of selecting a subject helps you develop an eye for important things. And remember that sometimes the most useful things appear to be most mundane—but you’ll see what I mean once you get started. 

Blog writing is either convergent or divergent. By convergent, it means that the subject is vast to start with, but in the end, the discussion narrows down to a tiny part of the issueBy divergent, it means that one starts with a small event like a sentence we read somewhere, and end up writing about a broad subject. A few times, you know what you are going to write in a particular blog, but many times you start writing, and vistas open up as you write!   

What are the positives of blog writing? It allows one to express the passion for one’s thinking. I have written a few blogs about how I handled my cancer treatment. If these blogs have helped to make a difference in the life of a few people, I will be delighted. My blogs bring me in touch with new people and old friends. Many times, there is an intellectual interaction. I can share my knowledge; I have had all my career in the Automotive field. I can share my experience and explain what is expected in future in the automotive field, with others. I come in touch with like-minded people. Consistent blogging helps me improve my writing skills. An essential aspect of blogging is it improves my knowledge. In my recent blog about article 370, my knowledge on the subject was not much. I researched and understood a lot of things on the subject. 

There are many commercial advantages of blogging like an improved business, networking etc. But for me, it is of no use as I don’t blog for those reasons.  

Last but not least, blogging has now become a passion for me. It is an addiction; it is my alcohol, and it is my cigarette. I never look for any subject or topic for writing a blog. But when I read books, or newspapers something clicks within. When I watch TV, some words or sentences hit me, and my mind starts whirring. It settles down only when I put my thoughts on paper! Somehow, I can find time even during my travels, but work-wise now I am pretty much relaxed. 

My friends, I am not looking for numbers, nor have I any target! I will keep on writing until I enjoy it. Famous cartoonist R K Laxman used to publish a cartoon every day in times of India, “You Said It”! He was once asked, “How can you do this day in and day out for so many years?” He said, “There is no dearth of “cartoons” in this world, so it is quite simple.” In the same vein for me, there are so many things happening the world over; my problem sometimes is that some blogs remain pending for days together, like this blog!