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 

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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 from 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. By the way, 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 also from 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 — one since about ten months and the other for almost two and a half years. One of them also needs the support of the pacemaker for his heart! Friends go and meet them because of the restrictions on the movement. 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!  

 

 

The mind games!

We all talk of mind, but I was thinking about what the mind isThe mind is the element of a person that enables him to be aware of the world and the experiences, to remember, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought. The word mind, however, can be used in many ways. First is let me mind my own business. My husband will mind the children while I go to the parlour. Oh! He has a keen mind! That writer’s name slips my mind. He was one of the greatest minds of his time. I expect all the students to put their mind on the project they are handling. I don’t mind saying that I have some apprehension.  

The examples could go on and on, but let me put my mind to do what I am trying to do in the first place.  

When I wanted to write on this subject, I started pondering and was thinking carefully. Wherefrom do the thoughts come? How does the three-pound mass of grey matter that is my brain give rise to the felt experience of sensations and thoughts? It sometimes seems virtually inconceivable that the simple thought processes could give rise to the valuable thoughts of consciousness.  It can be called the MindBody problem. 

If we can separate the mind from consciousness, we can get a better perspective. What is the relationship between mind and consciousness?  To see how we can consider the separation of the information from the actual nervous system itself, think of a book. The book’s mass, its temperature, and other physical dimensions can be considered as roughly akin to the brain. Then think about the information content (i.e., the story the book tells or claims it makes). The consciousness is the information created in and processed by the nervous system. 

To me, if you want to understand something, you need to build it your self for example, the book. You can create, print and bind the book. But can you not create print and build information in the book! No, you can’t!  

Consider RSS as an organisation. Forget about its political affiliations. The organisation has been existing for several decades and works with utmost discipline. Whenever there is calamity anywhere in India, their volunteers rush to that location, leaving aside whatever they are doing in their routine life. RSS supports them on logistics aspects, but these volunteers always put their mind above everything else and just travel where their help is needed. These people are like you and me. But they have trained themselves, or their organisation has taught them to overcome the day to day hurdles for supporting people in distress. Their mind and body are very similar to all others, but the mind processes their consciousness differently. 

Today we had our half-yearly get-together of COEP batch mates. I have observed over the period that people’s thinking changes, maybe with age. We have this lunch and annual get-together every year. July/ August half-yearly and Jan/Feb yearly get-together. Since we are all in the seventies, I can understand the difficulties faced by friends during night driving. Hence, we usually have lunch. Whenever we fix the venue, there is a discussion! Oh, it’s so far! My question is so far from what? For annual function, people living in foreign countries try to adjust their travels in such a way that they can attend. Others travel from Delhi, Chennai and Mumbai. People come from Nasik and Goa. But sometimes those in  Pune are unhappy with the distance of the venue. People’s enthusiasm reduces with time due to ill health or many times as their mind behaves in such a way that they don’t feel the urge to meet old friends.  

10thAugustPoonaClub

Two of them, Ravi and Nitin, showed exceptional urge and keenness to join the festivities yesterday. They had prior commitments in Mumbai and Pune. But at the last moment, both realised that they were getting free of their obligations. Both immediately called me and said, “Hey, Pramod! I am telling you at the last moment, but I hope it is ok if I join!” I said, “Buddy, of course, you are welcome!” They both had the urge to meet old friends. They made it, and all of us were very happyFrom the “Oh! It’s so far gang”, one of them lived only a couple of km from the venue. I reminded him a couple of times. He said that he would confirm and did not make it.  He had never talked about prior commitments.

At this stage in life, nobody is seriously busy. Why people refrain from attending such functions is a big mystery to meIn a strange incident, last year, a friend did not join the annual function but came to pick up another friend at the end of the function! I know what he was doing before on that day. To memeeting with friends always overrides any other social commitmentBut that probably is life!  

Is it that the more evolved human brain plays part in mind games? Other species with the less developed brain may not make different decisions for the same situation, at different times, depending on the state of mind at that juncture. The state of mind, at any stage, could be a function of current circumstances, recent experiences, which could include health or family circumstances.  

Let me share with you my personal experience. At the end of 2013, I had undergone treatment for cancer. It included immunotherapy and 34 sittings of radiations. I am lucky to be the way I am made. Carcinoma did not put me in a negative frame of mind. Not that I was enjoying the treatment, but my mind had accepted it as a fact of life, and I moved on. Since my treatment was in the throat area, I had restrictions on speaking. In those days, when friends came to meet me, they would pull my leg by saying that finally, something made Pramod stop talking all the time. I could laugh with them on the joke. The councillor at the Ruby Hall clinic told me during the discussion that I may not need any counselling as I was in a positive frame of mind. Why was my mind positive? I do not know.  

I was talking of extremcircumstances like cancer treatment. But why do people have negativity in routine life? Why people avoid meeting friends? Some friends live right opposite restaurants where we meet for our monthly breakfast. But these people do not come and join the fun in spite of repeated requests. 

Friends do you have any suggestion on how to encourage such people? Not everybody is expected to attend every meeting, but why not attend once in six months?  I don’t know; I don’t have an answer. When we have no answer, blame it on DNA! 

 

 

 

Musings COEP days! Friendship special!

I published my blog about Kleptomaniacs yesterday morning. 

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/08/06/are-we-a-nation-of-petty-people/ 

A dear friend called me to discuss the same. He remembered our COEP days, and it took me to good old days in COEP. He had called me to share a story about another friend who was a Kleptomaniac in those days. But I said, “Dost, he may be still be continuing with the same trait.” Kleptomania is a mental sickness, but the story I got from him gave me firsthand information about how people’s mind works. Our friend used to pinch anything from the shops. Two of them used to argue, but the justification given by our pinching friend was, “The shopkeepers make so much money, so how does it matter if some items are brought from these shops without payment.” Wow! Great argument. My friend argued that the shopkeeper was working for the betterment of his family and not for others. But this friend continued to steal.  Some photos from those days. First one is a few years after college!

The story took me back to remind me of how we lived and enjoyed in those days. There were many characters around, some teachers, some staff members, and other students. There was one girl in Jaya’s class. She lived in hostels, so Jaya did not know all about her. But whenever they went to a restaurant for a cup of Coffee or Tea, this lady would pinch spoons, forks and sometimes glasses! I am not sure what her level of competence was, but she would also splash ink on shirts of classmates, sitting in her front of her. She would do it with poker face while the class was going on!  

The other day, while doing spring cleaning, I found a copy of the thesis I had submitted for my Master’s Degree. My guide, Dr Satyanaryan, had threatened me in the good sense that he would throw me out of the Metallurgy department if I did not complete my Master’s Degree in stipulated two years. Three to five years was the norm to complete the degree. I was required to interact with the outside world during the projectIt started with collecting a princely sum of Rs.3000/ to buy Aluminium Bronze rods from a company called Indoswe. Lengthy government procedure would have delayed my project. As per the guidance of Satyanarayan Sir, I raised the massive sum of Rs 3000/ and bought the material. The money was reimbursed later. The interaction got me to meet Mr Nande, the company director. He offered to employ me at a very high salary of Rs 700/ after the project. I worked with them for four years.  

The project took me the Sanghavi Metals, near Nava Pul and ARDE at Pashan. At Sanghavi, I got the rods rolled, thanks to their works manager Mr Dharia. I would work there in the second shift for about ten days. At ARDE, Mr Murthy helped to forge the bronze rodsIt was a tough call to get permission from the Government Defense organisation; all credit was to Mr Murthy. The bronze was heat-treated after rolling and forging, I was to take photographs of the changes in Microstructure. I used to go to college for this work at 7.15 am, but Dr Satyanaryan and the technician Mr Vernekar would reach there before I arrived. Such was their enthusiasm.  

During my Master’s degree, I was close to Prof Chopade, who was a very knowledgeable and sharp person. Later, in his career, he joined an industrial group as a director. He had an amusing way of expressing and was master of Pun. One day, he said, “Panya let us do some Metallurgy!” I was wondering what he was saying. I started walking with him. He took me to the canteen for a cup of tea! He further said, “I have Tas or Tras after half an hour!” My question mark was solved by him with an explanation, “In Marathi Tas is period, but Tras (trouble) is for me as well as to the students! He, unfortunately, died very early.  

We had Hemya Nerurkar in our class. During our “educational” tour, he and other friends like Narya Vohra would always look for the watering holes, looking for dry martini! Hemya is still fun to be with and was a smart guy since college daysI am sure he has continued his love affair with the dry martiniwhile he was busy in his career as Managing Director of Tata Steel! 

The tour brought out the real character of friends. Balya Palande, Anya Bhide and Jadu Yeravadekar would always look for their favourite PAN (betel leaf) in every city we visited. Another friend was jokingly threatened by others that they would dump him in Sundarbun in Bengal as he was and continues to be a bore! He cancelled his participation in the tour, out of fear!  

Those were the days! We had a friend Balu Kale. Unfortunately, he died in the late 70s of the last century. In hostels, smoking was fashionable! Lighters were not in vogue in those days! People would go looking around for matches or “Current” was the word more commonly used. Not Balu! He would go around with a matchbox and ask if anybody had cigarettes!  

I remember one funny incident. All the hostelites would look for some interaction with girls. Near the hostel, there was one stall selling grapes. A couple of nice girls ran the shop. Many guys would take a stroll near the shop and tell cooked up stories about their interaction with the girls. Two docile friends also attempted to show off about their dialogue with the ladies. But a hilarious story started making rounds of their valiant efforts. Our friends made their firstround independently but did not dare to ask the girls their names. So they went together, in support of each other. They reached the shop, waited for a customer to end his transaction, and then in unison asked the ladies, “Could you please tell us our names?”  After saying this, they ran away.  

Some of us were naïve in those days; not much has changed even today for some of us. Jaya and I had decided to get married when I was in the third year, and Jaya was in the second year. In the fourth year, when we were on tour, I had written a letter to Jaya. I put it in an envelope, put Jaya’s name and address, showed it to a very close friend of Jaya and me! Later, this friend told a story to others, “Look at Panya, as usual, he is showing off!” Most got a shock when we got engaged a couple of years later!  

I have not mentioned my friends name above, to hide the identity of our Kleptomaniac friend! ये दोस्ती हम नही तोडेंगे! Buddy, thank you so much! You took me down the memory lane or expressway, I am not really sure!  

Why not listen to the real song? 

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=ye+dosti+hum+nahi+todenge&view=detail&mid=CECA5E5F426D850360BFCECA5E5F426D850360BF&FORM=VIRE 

 

 

How do we believe the untruth?

 

lie1To lie is a false statement deliberately presented as being correct, a falsehood. I have taken this meaning of the transitive verb “lie”, not about the physical position as in lying down. During our life, everybody lies at some stage or the other. We makeup stories and defend them tooth and nail. We do this because our brain is quirky and works differently, conveniently to suit the situation. Lying is a reaction of our brain to an event. Consider an event where our hand or fingers touch something scorching hot, unknowingly. The signal goes to our brain, it is processed, and another message is sent to our hand, to remove the hand immediately. During this process, there is no jumbling in understanding. There is a tightly coupled linear relationship between cause and effect. In this case, there are not many variables; hence, the result is clear cut.

But things are never in black and white; these are mainly shades of grey. These grey shades are what confuse us, and we end up not telling the truth, or we lie. Not thinking about the fact is not necessarily lying. There are reasons why we lie. These can be for some benefit, to avoid a tricky situation, to mask our errors, and so on. Sometimes the conclusion is drawn which are suitable for someone.  But sometimes the reasons can be funny.

Years back when my son Sachin was doing engineering, our daughter Priya was in kindergarten school. Sachin would share some anecdotes during our dinner. The moment he finished his story, Priya would start telling some fantastic tale. All of us would sincerely listen to her, but in the end, she used to be very happy. Her reason for such a story was to take part in the conversation, be part of it.  She was not lying for any benefit but just to be involved.

Deepak had gone to Delhi for the first time, enjoyed the crowds, the food and the sights. At the end of the day when he reached the hotel, he realised that he had lost his wallet. The story was used in a group to discuss people’s behaviour. People were told this story as an exercise. In this story, the cause and effect are not so obvious and are vague. The vagueness creates a different thought process and opinions from people. No background about Deepak was shared with the group.

The people from the group were asked to recall the most important word from the sentence about Deepak’s day in Delhi. The most recalled word was “Pickpocket”. Based on this word, there was a lot of discussion about the crime in Delhi, how the situation is going out of hand. There were suggestions galore as to how to help move around safely in Delhi. The beauty was the word “Pickpocket” was never used in the sentence, and the critical word was “Sights”! It was about Deepak viewing the sights of Delhi and not about his losing the wallet.

During the evolution of our brain, there appears to be a bug formed. When there is vagueness in cause and effect, we tend to create our own stories, each one to his imagination. Do we try to create a plausible reason for what could have happened instead of asking the narrator how Deepak lost his wallet? Deepak’s wallet was missing could be explained differently is what we forget. Deepak could have forgotten his wallet in a restaurant or a store where he purchased some colas. Deepak could have accidentally dropped his wallet while using washroom somewhere. There are so many possibilities, but most people thought about a Pickpocket. Why is that so?

When the group was explained these possibilities, most were upset. Their ego was hurting. You have a particular thought process about various places, pre-set notions. Delhi connects with the crime, Pune connects (or at least used to) with retired people and so on. So people go by the easiest and the simple story that comes to mind. When questioned about logic, people don’t like it; they become uncomfortable. Since this was a group meeting, people got restless, they went on persisting about their theory. They wanted to stick their guns. In Delhi, how else could a wallet be missing? It must have been stolen. The voices were raised, egos came into the picture.  All this happened due to the evolution bug in our brains.

I will share my personal example. I wear goggles these days but do not wear them when I am required to drive. The goggles are not suitable to correct my eyesight. I was getting ready to go to the gym and started looking for the case. I walk to the gym. The case was missing from the regular place. I rechecked my sack. I emptied the stuff, but it was not there. I was trying to recollect if I had misplaced them during my travel to Mumbai last week. We had a driver; hence, I had taken the goggles with me. I retraced the whole journey. I took Jaya’s suggestion. We rechecked a bag we had taken during the travel. Nada. For a change, I kept my ego aside and told Jaya that I might have forgotten the same in our car! When I checked the vehicle, the goggles were there.

Why did original thinking take place? First and foremost, how can Pramod forget the glasses in the car, he is such a tidy person. So I thought about so many other plausible things to justify my thinking.

There is another method of spreading a discrete lie. My friend and I were in a professional meeting. During tea-break, a subject came up about the Managing Director of another company. My friend made a casual remark that he was the classmate of the MD. One more person in the group also happened to be the classmate of the MD. He said, “How come we never met before if we were in the same class?” Our friend was NOT the classmate of MD in COEP but in junior college. Our friend had a unique style of lying discretely about his qualifications. He had done his BSc. He also had another habit. He was very handsome and had a mature personality. In the later phase of his career, people started calling him Dr So and so! He never told anyone, ever, that he was not a PhD!

All this tells us one principle. Next time when you are not able to justify your explanation about your story or analysis of the situation, use Ctrl+Alt+Delete key in your mind. The action will hopefully push your ego away and reset the position. Make a new start; think again, try to take the direction to the truth. That is what your aim was, and you had made an error in the first place.

Mayday! Mayday!

Mayday is an emergency procedure word used internationally as a distress signal in voice procedure radio communications. It is used to signal a life-threatening emergency primarily by aviators and mariners, but in some countries, local organisations such as firefighters, police forces, and transportation organisations also use the term. 

 My buddy Nayan shared with me an interesting article! It was under a mundane title “Thought for the day.” The writeup was summarised well in the last sentence! 

“Don’t forget that while you are busy growing up, your parents are growing older!”  

Our biological age increases every second which is known to us. The phenomenon is as natural as a tree grows. The basic fabric of today’s society started to form around ten thousand years back when humans took up farming. Farming meant that you sowed something, which would take a month or two to be ready. So, when you planted, you stayed put at that place. Starting of organised farming was the process of the switchover from a nomadic society to a stable community which is rooted at a site, though this happened slowly. You liked the surroundings; there was a river nearby with plenty of trees! You had your plot for farming and built a shelter. That was home. More people came and stayed put in that area; this was the creation of the village.  

Organised society created stability but took centuries to reach today’s format. With stability, came revolutions of a better kind, Industrial revolutions. This revolution brought scientific thinking and research in society. In the last hundred years, there has been tremendous progress in the medical field, treatment, and healthcare. We are becoming a healthier society. The population has grown in substantial numbers. The phenomenon of “parents also growing” is a recent one from the last 30/40 years, at least in India. This problem has been existing in countries like Japan for a much longer time. 

As usual, I will blame everything to longevity, improved food quantity and quality, better medical facilities (though affordability can be an issue). Are all these changes bane or a boon? Of course, they are a boon! The only point is that we are not used to them. A few years back a Japanese friend requested me to send some chikki for him to Delhi. Chikki is an Indian sweet made of Jaggery and peanuts. My friend wanted to take it to Japan for his mother who was around ninety years of age. In Japan, they used to get similar sweet in olden days when his parents were younger. My friend shared with me that his father was 93 years old and would go and buy grocery a couple of times in a week, travelling in a Metro.  

Coming back to the article Nayan shared with me, in India another significant change is taking place. Along with longevity of parents, the children are travelling to greener pastures in different countries of the world. Some migrate permanently or go on projects for a few years; then get better opportunities and continue staying away from “Home”! Definition of the home has also changed. Children move out of the “Home” many times after 12th grade, so technically they have left home to take up professional courses. Post education, they start their career in India or abroad. At that juncture, the parents may be busy in their jobs and could be in the age group of 50 and 60. Around 50 years back, males died 3 to 4 years after retirement. Now they don’t, which is good news. But this has led to the issues for which Indian society is not mentally prepared. Parents are living much longer than at any time before, and our community is not prepared for it. We do not know how to handle this, and there are no fixed norms. Do old parents live away from their children? Should they live in old people’s homes? The problem becomes even more complicated when one of the spouses dies! Who will look after parents if they become weak and cannot handle their activities? What would be the support system? There is no organised support system, at least in India.  

Elderly1

So, the article suggested and shared a story of using modern technology, not for automation but to remain in touch. A group of very senior citizens created a WA group, and it was mandatory for each member to send Good morning, Good afternoon and Good night message to the group at a particular time, allowing for some deviation. Messages made sure that persons in the group are ok. If a message from someone was not received for a specified time duration, they had formed a system to go and physically check with that person. In the story, somebody did not send a message, and his friends rushed to him and found out that he was unwell. They rushed him to the hospital. Later when the son came, they explained to him that providing for is not the only need of the parents, but they need to interact with someone, meet someone when possible. They asked the son, “When did you last talk to your father?” “See, that’s why we have this group. Otherwise, we people would be talking to walls and windows”, the couple said as they left. This was the whole point.

Nayan and I were room partners in COEP hostel; later during the day our third partner, Sharad sent me a story about a lady from Switzerland. In Switzerland, people get sufficient pension for their retired life. But they have a concept called “Time Bank”. The lady, who had retired and aged 67, was helping some people who were 80 plus. When she retired, she took up an assignment of supporting these old people. She does not charge any money. Whatever time she puts in is added to her “Time” account. This “Time” can be withdrawn when she will need support in her older days. There will be someone to support her who will put in “Time” which will get added to the next person’s account and the cycle will go on. What a fantastic way of supporting older adults in need of support.  

It struck me with an idea of combining two different stories which are two very similar thought processes. Today our group of college friends are of the age around 70, but at some stage, some help will be needed, so here is what we can do. These are preliminary thoughts but can be converted into a full-fledged system. 

  1. Create a WhatsApp group- use it for daily tracking as mentioned above 
  2. There are some apps available to track the user’s location all the time, and certain people like his family and a few close friends can know where the person is located. (Ok, those who are going meet the girlfriends will also be tracked!)  
  3. I don’t know how far this is practical, but one must have a landline at home. Sometimes the mobile phone doesn’t connect!  
  4. Include likeminded younger people who have just retired. They will be volunteers who can physically take up support responsibilities. 
  5. Subgroups can be formed based on the locations. But the basic system alerts could be used by all.  
  6. There can be a team of volunteers of much younger people who are willing to take up a social cause. They can take it up as once in a month activity. The volunteers can 
    1. Take the elderly to shops, banks or small purchases 
    2. Take them to movies, dramas 
    3. Arrange community get-together for the elderly 
    4. Help them go to local offices 
    5. Train them with the usage of new gadgets and technologies 
    6. Play games or solve puzzles with them- find your way of spending time with them.  
  7. I read one interesting but touching story of an old woman whom a volunteer would meet once in a month. They got very close to each other. One day she said that she wanted a promise from him. He was surprised as she had never demanded anything from him before. He said, “Ok, tell me.” She said, “Will you promise me that you will shade some tears when I die?” 
  8. Give them love and affection.  

Your question is right why the title is Mayday! Mayday! It is not an emergency situation, yet. The situation I have described above is the real-life situation, and it needs to be treated with the same priority we give to the distress signal. Else? I don’t know.  

Looks like destiny is going to bring Sharad, Nayan and me back together though Nayan is in California and we are in Mumbai-Pune area.  

Friends, you will hear much more from me on this subject, in future. 

Elderly2