Modernity, Life’s full circle!

 

Oldage3A couple of days back, I was talking to a classmate of mine. I had called to wish her on her 70th birthday! I was pleased when she said, “Pramod, I feel as if I am around 50 or 55 but surely not 70!” The in and around 70 generations, was born after India got independence from the British in 1947. Our behaviour, thinking and attitude depend on our personal experiences, and the way society acts. Under Britishers, the Indian public, government officials had a different attitude towards Goras! Indians would treat Britishers with deference. My father was a police officer, and whenever he spoke of Britishers, I could feel that he would talk with a lot of respect to the Britishers. It was the result of 150 years of British dominance. My father, otherwise, was not a docile personality. Such an attitude could be seen in the sports arena too! Sunil Gavaskar was the first cricketer who showed “attitude” with his bat and then as a person against foreigners.

Later generations have changed; it can be seen in the behaviour of Tendulkars and Kohlis! As people started travelling internationally and met foreigners regularly for business or otherwise, the change was seen in society, in general. But change is not seen on personal levels in certain areas of life. Lately, I see people writing emotional stories and sharing their views about family-related issues. Our generation has become, so-called old, but due to migration, our children could be anywhere in the world right from Timbuktu to Rio de Janeiro; the children have spread for work and due to immigration. The result is that the parents live “alone” as per current discussions. When husband and wife are both around, how can they be alone?

The thought of lonely parents is mainly due to love but also due to unchanged attitude towards life. The post-independence generation did not migrate as much as the current generations do. They were in touch with the base more often. The life expectancy during that period was much less compared with today. The males from the older generation died just after retirement. In those days, the nuclear families had not come up. Hence the retired parents would continue to live in the joint family. They never felt “alone”.

Probably in various stories or write-ups I read (I call them sob stories which friends don’t like), people mix up the words “Alone” and “Loneliness”. When the parents are together, they are not alone by definition. But they can be lonely. But to me, loneliness is the isolation that comes with an expectation unmet, a feeling unreturned. According to my thinking, this is the crux of the matter.

Both parents and children would become and remain unhappy if they do not train their minds to become detached. Life will be much easier if there are no expectations. The closeness and love between them are natural, but remaining too attached causes all the issues. When people live in different cities, states or nations, you cannot expect anybody to be available at the drop of a hat! In today’s business and work scenario, work pressures are high. People are sometimes even worried to take their annual holidays lest they become redundant in today’s competitive world. What does the world detach mean? It means disconnected. Synonyms for detaching are dispassionate or uninvolved.

Once both sides learn to remain detached, life becomes much more manageable. My generation has been luckier than our parent’s generation. We had the benefits of better education, slightly better family finances, more opportunities than the previous generations. We have travelled in bullock carts as well as in Concordes! We have written letters on postcards, and we are using WA and FB! Our life and lifestyle have changed from the rationing of foods to plenty of everything. We bought Coca Cola for 25 paise; now we don’t mind paying Rs.250/ for a cup Coffee!

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My friend HK and his wife are in this photo. They go around on their bikes all over Pune district regularly.

Now my suggestion is that we should also change our thinking about relationships and responsibilities! We also have the benefit of better health compared to the older generation. Should our thought processes also not become modern? When we have done so many things during our working days, why can’t we manage our lives post the 70’s? What is the big deal? Should we be dependent on our children for support during this golden phase? Financial dependence and needs can be different for each individual and family. These requirements should be resolved by each family but besides that, why we cannot be independent of children? There could be health issues. Your child may be living in the same city, or maybe she lives 100 km from where you live. That does not mean that the children will have time to help and support you regularly.

On similar lines, children should also understand that your parents growing older does not mean that they are helpless or lonely. The technology that has brought back your old friends, your classmates, are also being used by your parents. They are also having their alumni meets. They meet their friends, and in some cases maybe their ex-flames! Life is changing; there is more openness. We hear of cases where people are meeting each other for companionships. In case of death of one of the spouses, parents of both sexes look for friendship, companionship or in some cases remarriage too! The parents are mature enough or sometimes may not be mature enough. But it is their life; children can give suggestions but let the seniors take the decisions about life.

The seniors should think like what my classmate said the other day. The cliché “age is just a number” becomes relevant. Health permitting, you need not “feel” old. It is up to us! I have come across people who are of the same age as me but talk and feel like a 90-year-olds. I had shared a story about the parents of my Japanese friend. The father is 93, and the mother is 87. The father regularly goes out and travels by Metro to get their groceries etc. It is because they must have decided to remain independent of the children.

Parents, venture out in the bad, bad world, and then you will realise that it is a good, good world! Children, don’t you worry too much about your parents; after all, they are the ones who have brought you up! There is some chance that they know something about the world, is it not! Don’t go overboard about splurging on your parents; they know that you also have your own life! You need to take that holiday to see the midnight Sun! Your children will be going to Oxfords and Harvards of this world! Be sure you use your Video WhatsApp or Google Duo or Skype once in a while. You need not give them iPhone so that you can use Facetime! They are happy with what they have!

I am just saying be realistic, be practical. I humbly request to those who write “Sob Stories” on WA or FB about lonely, old parents. Some parents can get into unhappy mode again, reading such stories. Please leave them alone, let them lead their life (they will be there to support you when you need). But don’t forget that they can live happily on their own!

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Manash Sen, the ultimate “family” leader!

 

SenHow does one describe a personality like Mr  Sen? For records, Mr Sen was my boss when I worked in Atlas Automotive components, way back from 1977 to 1981. He was the works manager and in-charge of an Aluminum Die  Casting plant. I had first met him in a conference of foundrymen the previous year. Yes, I was a foundryman in that avatar. In the first meeting itself, I liked him. I was 27 years of age, and he was 43 years old. Though he was senior to me, I never felt intimidated by him. I looked at him as a fatherly figure though he was not old enough to qualify for that. His son was probably in pre-engineering class at that time. I do not know why I felt that but he had an aura about him, but still, he was always people’s man.

When I met him for the second time, he told me, “Arey Panvalkar, why don’t you change your job and join us?” The first thought that came to my mind was what Aluminum casting does Atlas manufacture? So I asked him. He said, “We make Low pressure die casting, gravity die casting and sand casting”. I requested him to give me some time. At that time I worked in a company making Copper and Copper alloy products by a process called extrusion. After going through my college books, I concluded that I did not know anything about Aluminum casting except the very basics. He wanted me to join as a quality control manager. I called him and said, “Sen Ji, I do not know anything about the products made by Atlas so I will not join.” He knew that I had a Master’s degree in Metallurgy.

He called me to his office for a cup of coffee. I told him about my apprehensions. He smiled and said, “Look, I know that your experience is different, but I want someone with no casting experience because I want to change the way my team thinks. You have the educational credentials, so I am sure you will handle things easily.” I was still not sure when he said, “I want a go-getter like you!” I said, “How did you judge that I am a getter?” He said, “Panvalkar, my judgement about people has never gone wrong before, so believe in me and join. You will do well in Atlas.”

That was my “interview” for a post in Atlas, but this was how he judged people. In months after I joined Atlas, there was a significant upheaval in the organisation in post foundry production department. The whole team was removed. Mr Sen called me and said, “ From today you will also look after that department too.” I felt that these two responsibilities were conflicting in nature, but he said that professional in me would know how to handle conflicts. Never in my four years with Atlas, did I face the conflict between production and quality. To me, the quality was to be produced!

Atlas was a smallish organisation but was making good castings. We were all proud of what we did. Mr Sen would back us to the hilt while dealing with customers, provided we were right. Once an over smart purchase officer from a large company said a few nasty things to me as well as about Atlas. The argument happened during a meeting. I reported the same to Mr Sen. He said, “I will deal with them for a few days.” After three days, Mr Sen called me to his office. To my surprise, the officer was sitting with him. When I entered, the officer got up and profusely apologised to me. I was surprised. Later in the day, Mr Sen told me that he had discussed the incident with the biggest boss of that organisation and ensured an apology. Such support gave me more confidence in dealing with large companies.

It used to be a treat to see Mr Sen in man management mode. He probably had in his mind, made categorisation of all our colleagues. He would tell someone in details about how to do something. He would shout at someone to pull up the socks and get things done. I had seen many impossible things achieved by his unique methods. After all these years he understood Marathi but would speak with people in English or Hindi. We had a few Bengali colleagues; he would converse them in Bengali. Were they scared of him? Interactions with him were always interesting, sometimes coaxing, at other times pushing hard. But work had to be completed. I never saw him telling someone not to go home until specific work was done. People would do it on their own; it was his fatherly figure that made a big difference.

My friend late Dilip and I were questioned all the time during our meetings. Mr Sen would get things reconfirmed from us sometimes. Once in exasperation, I asked him why two of us are treated differently. He called us back to the office after our morning meeting was over. There were the usual coffee and Bourbon biscuits, an indication that he was in a great mood. He explained that he considered two of us to be the best, so he did not want us to make mistakes. He said, “You guys are smart, but sometimes you want to achieve too many things. I want to make sure that you don’t end up making silly mistakes. That is the reason I reconfirm the tech side of the discussion. Other guys need spoon feeding most of the times so that they won’t make mistakes!” Young that we were, Dilip was even younger than me; we were happy that Mr Sen had so much confidence in us.

So many memories flowed in when I came to know that he passed at the age of 85, on 8th March 2019. After Atlas, he helped his sons to set up a very successful Vacuum impregnation processing and machinery manufacturing set-up. He was an excellent engineer but one of the best Managers I came across in my professional life. He always ensured that his colleagues did not have any personal issues; he would go out of the way to resolve such matters. I am sure he has passed on all his qualities to his sons. I will share one example. We attended his grandson’s marriage in February. There was a big crowd, as usually happens in Indian weddings. Later, his son called me to check whether I had met Mr Sen at the wedding. These are small personal touches that turn people from good to super!

God has generally been kind to Sen family. Both he and Mrs Sen looked in good health when we met them during the marriage. His grandson has also started taking part in the family business when he comes to India in the summer holidays. Mr Sen has seen it all, children doing well, grandson getting involved. The third generation doing well is the ultimate dream for a family man like Mr Sen. All through his career though he used to be very busy, the family was always first for Sen babu!

সেন বাবু আমরা আপনাকে মিস করব!

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Work, Life and Wife Balance!

Everything in life always has two sides, except when one is born and one dies. There are no two sides to these two events. I will not go into the changes that have taken place during the last couple of decades and it will suffice to say that the volume of these changes is equivalent to or more than what happened in the last century. This speed of change is going to go up and by 2050 it will be beyond our imagination. (Of course, I won’t be around then)

There is cascading information that floats around and is exchanged around the globe 24/7, 365. What this has done is that speed of doing work has simply skyrocketed. For workaholics (like alcoholics) its unlimited supply of their life’s elixir  24/7, 365. Whether it’s a boon or bane only time will tell. But I feel that time has come for workaholics to take a sabbatical, go to the Himalayas for trekking or why not, to go and stay in an Ashram. This person will ask what do I do there? The main thinking should be how deep  one should delve into workaholic stuff. Do a full reveiw of the life you are leading!

I have very recently written a blog with almost the same title but I have an additional word in today’s title. WIFE!

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/06/12/work-life-balance/

Now you will ask me, “Pramod, stop writing a bit. You also go to the Himalayas. You don’t seem to have anything new to write”! You are justified in thinking this way till you read this blog, fully. I consider myself a storyteller rather than a blogger. After chatting with a young, dynamic, dashing workaholic friend, I felt that I need to write what I felt about our chat. I had just gone to him for a cup of coffee and had expected to be done and dusted in 15 minutes. One thing led to another and we ended up exchanging views on life for almost one and half hour.

This friend is an absolute go-getter, 8 am to 9 pm guy. Once in a while maybe he takes a holiday on Sundays! Over a cup of coffee, I was sharing with him my new semi-retired lifestyle. He is very senior in his organization. The organization has been going through a major upheaval, affecting most of the people. This has been going on for last six months. Naturally, I will not share the details. For our man, this is just a situation where he put his hand up and took over major responsibilities. Many of the responsibilities were from his area. So, what did he do? He said, “Pramod, during this period I was doing 5 X times the normal work under extremely stressful condition.” I said, “How is your health holding?” He is a reasonably fit person and also said that he has till some time back, never had any serious health event. Touch wood!

But he did have an event while he was travelling during this tough period. During this event, on the last day of his travel, he had to be monitored by a doctor, hour by hour. He was allowed to travel back home. He still had uneasiness and went to see his regular physician in a hospital, a few days later. His doctor was shocked on checking some values. My knowledge tells me that with these values any human being is theoretically dead. The doctor directly put him in ICU and made sure that his values came down to reasonable figures. He has started working again.

But one good thing is that he has started doing a few things in life with his family that he had never done for some time, he has seen a few Marathi movies recently. The question arose in my mind that passion has to be there in whatever you do. But one’s life has its own compartments. Work and Life balance are what we always discuss. But with our friend’s children being away for education, to me, Wife becomes an important aspect which should be considered. I read an article recently where the person had written that all the cousins in their family had been meeting only during marriages or when someone died. Should these be the only occasions when the cousins should meet? Do you really “meet” on such occasions? Death is a sad occasion anyway and during marriages, people make a very hectic entry and go away because everybody is too busy! Are we really so busy? Is it really worth it? What is life about? How about a cup of coffee with the wife at CCD or where ever? How about eating a Butta or two? How about a long drive once in while during the rainy season?

God is great and he gave a second opportunity to my friend. But we don’t know what is written in destiny. Should we test the destiny to the extreme, especially when you don’t know what is written in your destiny? Over a period, I have come to the conclusion that  a one-day-old child can survive in this world if his mother dies, the world will survive without your contribution. The organizations will survive without you; who knows it may thrive without you! Yes, your contribution matters, your passion drives your team to perform better. You are born to excel, you are born to perform. Your purpose on this “Terra Firma” is to contribute in a big, smart way, always! You won’t be able to sleep well if you don’t do this on a daily basis. This is understandable, you are simply made that way! But you are also trained to do the cost-benefit analysis! You have taken umpteen number of risks! But is the serious risk to your life worth it? You are very smart and you know that it is not!

So, my friend, bring your wife too into central focus now! For you, it is a matter of multi-tasking! You have been doing it anyway all through your career! But let me assure you switching from emotional to work multi-tasking is not so easy as it looks! It’s a tough call but I feel that it’s time you did it! For you and your family! They deserve it!

My two cents. A cup of coffee with you, anytime friend!

What really is Romance?

This is the old nursery rhyme about the life of Solomon Grundy. It was taught to teach the children about days in the week. But to me, it is also philosophical about the life of humans. On Wednesday Solomon marries and dies on Saturday. The real romance in life is the story about the days from Wednesday to Saturday. Let me explain. The bliss, the glory, the charm of marriage, honeymoon and romance is generally discussed and described like  like you are watching a movie. Everything is slick and glorious, beautiful people and lovely couples, fantastic locations and oh, the bliss! But it is like only talking about Wednesday from Solomon Grundy’s life when he got married, he had Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in his life too. Real life is vastly different from the film version. It is not a bed of roses but it is a bed roses, after a storm, when the petals are withered and thorns are there, ready to pierce your delicate skin!

Come on, I am not cynical. But I am practical and pragmatic. The romance depicted in films is during courtship, marriage, honeymoon and initial phase of marriage. It is only about Wednesday! Arrive the children or thoughts about children, and things become different. At this stage, two distinct things happen. Either children arrive, or the couples are unsuccessful in conceiving; 10% of the couples remain childless, so some adopt and some don’t. Minuscule % decide not to have children as an option. This phase increases complexities of life, ten folds.

From this phase, romance does not go for a toss, but the definition of romance changes and keeps on evolving. The film variety of romance slowly goes for a toss. Career graph goes up, responsibilities go up, children are around, (or couples go into a vicious circle of conceiving) finances become tighter. Thanks to EMI’s. You have a beautiful home, expensive car; chances are that cash remaining, at the end of the month, is not much more than beginning of the career. You go to a mall on Sunday, your older child throws tantrums for some toy. You are trying to manage the child, and the younger one pukes on the mother’s new dress. You cut short your outing, it’s raining outside, somehow you manage to reach the car! Put on the music that the older child loves, not your favourite song, naturally! Younger one finally goes to sleep, while driving, you caress your spouse’s hand! That is the new definition of romance!

After a decade of marriage, if things go well, you don’t need any more proof about the wellness of the situation. What you have instead, is the most deeply romantic thing of all reassurance, that it’s okay to be a human being. Because until you feel absolutely sure that you won’t be abandoned by your partner, you may not be sure that your partner can tolerate you. The smells. The sounds. Continuous need to keep everything neat and proper at home, to keep your life on track! Till you start accepting that some things are going go out of control, you will feel unnerved by your own terrible mortal humanness. Well, we all go through situations that we may not like but become part of our life. But at the end of the day when the war zone has quietened down, you tell your spouse, “Hey how about some coffee with Geeta Dutt songs?” This is the newer romance, though you know what romance you had in mind has just evaporated for that night!

Wife returns back home looking tense. Their favourite doggy runs to her, she hugs the doggy, “Oh! You missed mamma, my love!” Picks him up. After a few minutes, she looks at the children and smiles.” How was your day kids? I am sure, everything was alright?” Children hug her, and she goes to the washroom. Children also missed their mamma! Drinks her glass of water then turns to the husband and without saying anything goes to their bedroom. Husband follows her, kisses her on the forehead and holds her hand. She just says, “I have such back pain, and that idiot boss is giving me a headache.” “I will make you some green tea, love.” Husband goes to the kitchen, smiling. Look at the sequence. All the love was given to the doggy who cannot say anything in return. Children could have thrown tantrums but didn’t, and had tough exams that day. Husband, of course, is at the bottom of the pecking order. He just had been ditched about his promotion at the office. He had the right to make the biggest noise. He had also missed the mamma! But he went into the kitchen to make tea! That my friends are romance!

When couples learn to cope with tough times, survive major crises, you are learning the art of living. As you grow older, you are together less often, and when you are, you have probably forgotten the “filmy” romance. Maybe you use this time to discuss and resolve other issues which have gone on a back burner. Through all these tough calls you learn to care for each other, support each other, help each other. That my friends is romance.

It is time to go to bed and like two old people you crawl into it. You tell each other about the weird things that your kids said that day and laugh and tell stupid jokes and giggle. Then maybe you feel like making out, but you don’t, or perhaps you feel like solving your crossword puzzle or read a couple of pages of a romantic novel. You say “Hey, your feet are cold why don’t you wear socks?” and “My back hurts,” that’s romantic.  You really hope this romance will last forever. You savour the repetitive, mundane rhythms of survival, and you want to keep surviving. You want to muddle through the messiness of life together as long as you possibly can. That is the peak point of your life. Savour it. That is the very definition of romance.

I am talking of latter stage romance. Someone is dying in the bed, and the spouse is sitting at the bedside, holding the dying person’s hand, and also handling all kinds mundane things that need to be done on a daily basis in our lives, for example, putting away trash and doing the laundry. Just because someone may die in the very near future, these things cannot stop. To me, that’s romance. Romance is surviving, romance is letting life go on in most onerous of the situations. Romance is cooking food in those circumstances and hoping to give the dying person the food loved by that person.

Caring for your partner, supporting each other in tough times, coming out of tough situations in life, knowing that many more such circumstances await in future and showing keenness to achieve normalcy, is romance. With such understanding, your romance will start on Wednesday and last till Sunday from the Solomon Grundy rhyme, the day he was buried!

Pramod the Feng Shui Guru!

Feng Shui (simplified Chinese: 风水; traditional Chinese: 風水, pronounced [fə́ŋ.ʂwèi]), also known as Chinese geomancy, is a pseudoscience originating from China, which claims to use energy forces to harmonize individuals with their surrounding environment. The term Feng Shui literally translates as “wind-water” in English.  Feng Shui is one of the Five Arts of Chinese Metaphysics, classified as physiognomy (observation of appearances through formulas and calculations). The Feng Shui practice discusses architecture in terms of “invisible forces” that bind the universe, earth, and humanity together, known as qi.  

The title of the blog is sensational and I am sure none of you will believe it. But you will understand the real meaning of this title, soon. To me, getting advised by Feng Shui or Vastu Shastra are means to achieve what everybody is looking for as ultimate joy and peace in this world! Enjoy the lovely monsoon drizzle, be excited to see the group of children screaming and running, get blessed with a hot Cuppa on a winter morning, get drunk on meeting friends without alcohol, be contented with boiled and salted corn, get lost looking at an old Madhubala song, all smiles! Burp on a stomach full of home food, feel the ultimate joy of gazing at snow clad Himalayan peaks, feel eager to reach sweet home at the end of a tour of Italy or whatever is your dream destination, feel lucky that maestros like Sachin Tendulkar and A R Rehman were around in your lifetime. Feel eager to go to work every day, buy fresh palak subji on way back from office because the better half loves it, feel lucky that you are born in a lovely family and living in a great city, enjoy the feeling that you married the bestest person in the world. If you already have this feeling about your life, without “experts” prodding you to do them if you are always contented with the life as you have it, you have a house which is your sweet home, you are already there! Have you now understood the meaning of the title “Pramod the Feng Shui Guru!” 

This subject came to my mind not because I am a believer in these things, in fact, I am very much against such thought processes. I read a story written by anonymous using Feng Shui as a subject. A person, who was a non-believer had decided to buy and decorate his dream home; in its compound was a beautiful fruit-bearing tree. Naturally, some branches were protruding outside the premises and some fruits were always  “borrowed” by kids outside. His friends suggested that he invite a Feng Shui expert from Hongkong, though he was a non- believer.  The Guru agreed to come; he was picked up from the airport and our friend went to pick him up personally. While driving the car he would always allow other vehicles to overtake, when they looked in a hurry! Later in a small lane, a child came running on the road, suddenly. Our friend stopped, he did not start the car immediately. The Guru asked him, why are you not moving. Our friend said, “Children always run in pairs when excited. I am waiting for the other child.” In came the other child. The Guru was astonished. After reaching home, they had lunch in the garden under the fruit tree. The Guru heard some commotion. Our friend said, “Some children are “borrowing” the fruits, my security is still getting used to NOT reacting.”  

After lunch and some rest, they started the discussion. Guru said, “You don’t need Feng Shui for your home. When our minds prioritize others’ peace and happiness, the one who benefits is not just others, but ourselves too. When a person is considerate of others at all times, then this person has unconsciously accomplished sainthood. The saint is, in fact, a person who through benefiting others becomes enlightened. You are a person who has already reached the level above what Feng Shui can achieve. I am flying back tomorrow and of course, No fees. I have already earned my fees by meeting you” 

This my friends is Feng Shui or Vastu Shastra or whatever you want to call it. People do many things to achieve peace, comfort and joy in their lives; they feel that the Gurus will tell them how to do it. Do we really need to be told by someone to be considerate of others? Why should somebody guide us to do these things? We read many books, we go to Mandirs and Masjids and Churches to achieve inner peace. Do we really need to go there? Being considerate, being polite, being nice and finally being content is something that should come from within, it is like going to the prayers. 

As a curiosity, I read something more about Feng Shui. It says remove clutter for good Feng Shui. Really? Do we need an expert to say this? Will you like to live in a home where there is clutter? We have a rule in our home. If we buy something as a replacement, we make sure that the old stuff is given away before the new thing arrives. It is common sense. I saw in someone’s house, two microwave ovens on top of each other. I was told that the old one was damaged, 3 years back and they would get it repaired!

Get good quality air and light in homes! Is it not obvious? Try staying in cold countries in winter, windows are always sealed and shut and sunlight availability is very poor during those months. Then it talks of Kua number, positive energy. Find your Feng Shui birth element; are we talking to a palmist? It talks about keeping wooden furniture in certain directions of the home. Vastu Shastra talks of positions and directions. What does this achieve?

Assume that there is a square building with four flats on each floor. The direction of Sunlight is fixed. So how can the same Shastra be applied to diagonally opposite flats? I live on the seventh floor, our flat is facing west. How can any Shastra tell me that the position of something should be such that I will get morning Sun? I never get morning Sunlight in my home, ever. From my floor upwards, the winds from the west are lovely and sometimes very strong. How can the same wind and second half sunlight be available on the first floor flat?  

Are Feng Shui and Vastu Shastra and their variants sciences? If you try to analyze scientifically, you may find many issues yourself. Of course, in homes, while constructing there can be some scientific errors. The experts will give the advice to break walls and windows based on their Shastra. One may do the same corrections under the guidance of architects or civil engineers. My friend had an office in a big square hall.  Along the walls, there were a few cabins for seniors. Once I went to meet him for a cup of coffee. The whole office looked like a war zone. Everything was broken and right in the centre of the office, a circular cabin was being created. The boss’s office! Vastu Shastra was in full swing! I, of course, did not ask him any questions about the activity, just had my coffee which was lovely!  

Why do people follow things blindly? What is the meaning of faith? In such situations, the cliché fits perfectly. Common sense is so uncommon! I have seen normally smart people following such advice. To me, it is a sophisticated way of following superstitions!  

By the way, I am starting a website www.pramodguruFengShui.com . I am giving below photos of stuff that we will sell online. 20% discount on pre-booking. 😊😊

 

 

 

Is this Popcorn or Caviar!

I went to the airport the other day to pick up my delayed bags. While coming back from airport, I again used Ola cab. There was a difference of Rs.35/ on the same trip, the return trip cost more. I checked the invoice and found that they had charged, airport pick-up charge. Ola and Uber both now have stands at the Pune airport. For this facility they pay yearly fees to the authorities. They are passing it on to the customers. At a time 8 to 10 cabs are always waiting at the airport!

The other day, we went to a multiplex to watch a movie! I did my booking on the website. Besides buying high priced tickets, I was charged convenience fees above the price of the tickets. I asked my young friends, who are savvy in such things! A friend suggested that we should use the website to check the tickets availability; if plenty of tickets are available, simply go the multiplex and buy the tickets. No convenience charges are applied.

So far so good. While watching the movie, we thought that we must follow the tradition and decided to eat popcorn, sandwiches and coke (diet of course!)  Popcorn was freshly made, sandwiches were ready to eat; probably made in the kitchen near the back office. Coke was from the fountain. None of the product sold were legally “packaged” food. “Packaged”  stuff under the law of MRP!  Non packaged products do not have MRP and there is no need to “declare” it price!

(MRP) Maximum Retail Price is a maximum price which can be charged to the consumers in India, as specified by the authority. Under the Consumer Goods (mandatory printing of date of Production and Maximum Retail Price) Act, 2006, consumers cannot be charged more than the MRP mentioned on the packing of the products.

When my card was charged I realized that there was not a single packaged item. Hence there was no MRP for whatever I bought. I realized that the multiplex owners must have had robbers as their ancestors! They simply robbed me on food prices, and there was nothing I could do about it. The total cost of food was much higher than the price of movie tickets. Since the items did not come under MRP laws, they could charge me whatever they wanted! Mind you there was a big queue to buy stuff and apparently people have money and do not mind spending money on entertainment. I asked my young friend later, the trick to overcome this issue. I asked her, if we could take stuff from home to eat. She said that we are not allowed to take outside food in the multiplexes due to security reasons; and that is the law! My theory about ancestry was proven!

So far so good, the movie was nice so we did have a good time in spite of meeting the  robbers! Now what is the law on this? Somebody has recently taken these multiplex guys to court. Arguments are going on in the court. The court has made an observation that when we go to five-star hotels, we pay whatever they ask for the food! We never expect the prices to be similar to other smaller restaurants. Similarly, I know that the prices of movie tickets in single screen theaters are much lower than what multiplexes charge. I am sure pop-corn, sandwiches also cost much less in single screen theaters. The court will check only the legality of billing done for food, if needed. Compliance of taxation will be checked by tax department! But nobody can tell them at what price they should sell the food!

The stories apart, is the high price for food charged by multiplexes justified? I am not sure but the multiplexes are projects by themselves and there is a lot of investment made in each such project. The movie business is unpredictable in general, so sell of tickets will depend on how popular the movie becomes! Their earning from movies is also unpredictable. The movie tickets are priced from Rs.80/ to Rs.400/ plus, for morning shows to most popular movies later in the day. I am not aware of their earning per ticket. So, what they are charging us for food is as per their business model. We are going to five-star movie theaters where we have fancy theaters, escalators and all the modern things. Prices will be high and we will have to accept them.

In India, when we travel by railways, we don’t pay extra luggage charges. But when we fly we are required to pay additional fees to the airlines as per rules. On some airlines they provide food free because the price of tickets is inclusive of the food. But on some low-cost airlines, we are required to pay for the food. Recently on our first leg back to India, on Seattle to Toronto flight, Air Canada was charging for food but they were serving coffees and cokes free, though it was an international flight! They probably decide based on the duration of the flight. On New York- San Francisco flight we were served food, since duration was 6 ½ hrs. So, each of the businesses have their own business model! We shouldn’t crib about it. We choose whatever is suitable to us, itinerary wise and price wise. So, we have options to see a movie in a multiplex! We have choices! Single screen theaters, YouTube, Netflix. We have to decide ourselves, nobody is forcing us.

What is the solution to this issue? For me there is no solution! But yesterday a party known for its rough politics, man handled a restaurant manager in a multiplex, for selling popcorn at  “high” price. Is it the right way to handle things? What can the manager do about it? The prices are decided by the management! Taking law into your hands is never justified whatever the reason!

There was one new Ranbir Kapoor movie being released! In the second week when the ticket prices are down, we can go for the movie. Tickets are on me, food is on you! Offer open only for multiplexes!  Are you game?

Work Life Balance!

When I was in school, I used to come to Pune during holidays to my grandfather’s house. He had perfect Work-Life balance in those days. He retired before I was born. But from what I have heard, he used to go to office around 9 and be back home by 4.30. He was one of the luckier persons who had a steady job. When I started going to Pune, he had just started his retired life and would go to sleep by 7 in the evening and wake up at 4! Before going to sleep he used to listen to local news on radio, which would start at 7 pm. All others at home would have dinner by 8 pm and simply go to sleep by 8.30 pm. Cozy life, lovely life; there was nothing to do anyway. There was no TV, going for movies was rarity.  

This reminds me of Gulzarji’s lines 

अब दिन रातपे ही आके रुकता है 

मुझे याद है… 

पहले एक शाम भी हुआ करती थी 

Lifestyle has taken a tumble of 180 degrees since those days. Things have reached the other extreme, discussions have started on Work-life balance, which is a concept that supports the efforts of employees to split their time and energy between work and the other important aspects of their lives. Why has this imbalance come in our life? Who is responsible? Do managements expect too much from employees? Is work being done with the help of less number of people? On home front, families have become nuclear, both husband and wife are working, and it has become a norm. There is less support system available from elderly. We have too many commitments on social front, too much time is “productively” spent on social media.    

Times have changed, work pressure on individuals has gone up. Pressure to perform is nothing new, it was always there and it will be always there. Why does the imbalance take place? It is simply because we have 24 hours in a day to do so many things. It is how productively we use that time which is important.  

First and foremost is the travel time. Home to workplace travel time is the most unproductive and tiring time. People these days travel anything between one to 2 ½ hours one way, to work. Traffic is going to become more complex and heavy, so there may not be respite from traffic. But yes, there is a solution. When people take up a new job in a different city, they rent a house as near to work place as possible. But in your own city you probably own a house or have been living in an area from childhood. So, you don’t want to change the house.  Solution, cut the emotion, be a little open minded about shifting to stay near the work place, be pragmatic. I was talking about this issue with my young friend Abhay.

Abhay rues that his generation has all the material stuff but no time to enjoy it. He said that if he moves to stay near his work place, he will save two hours every day! Multiply by 250 days. 500 hrs a year. It is as good as getting 50 days of additional leave to be with the family, maybe hit the gym, which today is not possible today. I told Abhay, after shifting near office, don’t spend additional two hours at office. Deepti wanted to take a new office. I suggested to her that it should not be more than 3 kms from her home, she had that option. Now her total travel time is 15 minutes. Hours gained, anxiety reduced? I don’t think you need any consultant to evaluate value addition done by making these changes. If you have financial need, rent out the “owned” flat. 

Now about the most unproductive thing! Social media. FB and WA are the biggest culprits causing the imbalance. Everybody wants to look at the cell phone at every opportunity available. Waiting for the red signal to turn green, open the device. You are doing serious work in office, you get a ding or a dong, ting or a tong! You stop the work to at least send a message, “I will come back to you”! Heavens are not going to fall if you don’t reply. Of course, friends may think that you have died since you did not respond in 30 seconds.  

Social Media has changed the society in such a way that there is fear in the minds of mafia that they may lose out to Social Media cartel. Take a back-seat Heroin’s, and ganjas of this world. You cannot compete with us! Smoking? What is that? I can have my new drug on my person all the time, police are not going to arrest me for that, parents are not bothered (they themselves are busy with addiction), lovers tiff no way. Why are you not talking to me? You don’t love me anymore. Did you see my new necklace? These words are passé! Both are busy looking at their own screens, looking into each other’s eyes? No way. Looking into his or her screen, yes of course. Did you see this video? Did you read this quote? Recently I saw photo of a group of friends, who met for chit chat! All were looking at their cell phone! Chatting? No way!  

To manage the Work Life balance, another thing we should analyze is how much time we are spending on social media. 2 hours, four hours? How many free hours do we have after deducting time for work, travel, sleep, and day to day chores? Do you want most of the waking time to be spent on social media? In fact, we are cutting into family time, sleeping time, causing sleep deprivation, or even  going out time. Your mind is never into what you are actually doing!  

Not in the distant past, a cranky child was given a pacifier in his mouth. Now the child is given a cell phone or a tablet to pacify the child. When the child crosses a certain age, the parents start cribbing, “Oh, my child cannot spend a single minute without cell phone”. I have seen mothers looking at WA while feeding a child, not breast feed but regular meal. A child needs a bit of attention and diversion. A song, or a story used to be the name of the game while feeding kids! When the mothers themselves indulge so much in WA/FB what do you expect the child to do?  

When we attempt something differently, it should start with you! Will you remain, away from social media for some time? Will you remain away from kitty parties? I am not saying that you shun these things. Anything in moderation is always good. A Mac Burger once in six months, a glass of wine, a cup of your favourite tea or coffee, for that matter any drink in moderation will always give you joy! Please think in a positive way! If we don’t use social media for some time, is it really going to affect your life?

Work pressures will be there, but can these be 24/7 and 365, no there are never such pressures. I have known of a person who went to US for work for a month, then 2 months and then continued his stay for three months. From there he was told to go to Germany for another three months. There were many problems at his home including illnesses; he should have told his boss that he will travel back after a quick visit back home, at least a couple of times. I don’t think his boss would have said no! But our friend just wanted to shun his home responsibilities. I am so busy syndrome!

Firstly, one has to decide if you really want work life balance! If you want it, there are always ways, you can find your own different methods too! Will will find a way! I forgot to tell you; I have promised Abhay that I will have a cup of tea with him one day, after his son has gone to school and before Abhay goes to office! Five minutes is all Abhay needs to go to office. The other day we went in the area where Deepti lives, we barged in to see her mother. Her mother called Deepti, she came home from office to have coffee with us. Utopia?