Downsize!

The word downsize is used while discussing a company or a business or economy. This generally happens because of the economic downturn. Things can get “upsized” if companies are properly downsized when needed. Downsize means you reduce the workforce, you stop doing the less productive activity. I had heard about this term being applied to our life too, in the USA. Post-retirement when you get older, you downsize. It meant that if you had a bungalow, sell it off and move to an apartment or a condo. Managing many things beyond a certain age becomes tricky and sometimes it is not cost effective.

As we grow older, we need to live within our corpus (sometimes it may not be big enough too!) Our physical and mental capacities reduce. We tend to be a little more conservative as we are aware of the non-growing corpus and want to be more careful so that we can handle future unplanned emergencies. After a certain age, things that we could handle naturally and easily, start looking difficult and unmanageable. One of the foremost aspects is the socializing and social commitments.

Can we keep the pace of the old times? Do we have the physical and mental strength to handle them? In the context of US society, managing your bungalows becomes a tough call beyond a certain age. This is because lawn mowing, trimming of flower beds, weed removal all such things are required to be done. With a fixed corpus, this can go beyond means for many in their society. In India, luckily manpower costs are much more manageable. But as our abilities start tapering off, management of everything becomes a tough call.

I know of someone, a lady, who loves to follow the tradition of “Gauri-Ganapati”, yearly welcoming the deities of Gauri and Ganapati at home. This activity needs a lot of coordination, logistics and planning. During this celebration, friends are invited to pay obeisance to the deities, followed by sumptuous food. All this has been overwhelming as a lot of small details need to be handled. Even when you were younger it was tough. This lady, who is around 70, has found it even tougher and her mind is a bit confused, now. She has slowed down, and it appears that both her walking and thinking has slowed down proportionately but thinking is more degenerated!

Recently during this process, she looked a bit confused and by the time the first day’s festivities were over, she looked very tired and disoriented. She did not get into panic attack mode but she looked on the verge of it. When asked if she were unwell in the previous week, she was not. This indicated that the event overwhelmed her so much that things appeared reasonably out of control. In younger times too, she was not much of an organizer; at the end of the ceremony, she declared she is not going to have the festivities at home, next year. Well, she still could have it, low key, if she wants but she probably does not want to compromise on processes and traditions. What is the right, low key or doing nothing? I do not know but I would rather have it, low key. To me, downsizing does not mean withdrawing from life.

I know of a family who has been committed to social circuits. A minimum of 3 to 4 programs a week parties, home or away. Once in a while, they share, that now they can’t handle this. I suggested to them to slow down and cut down engagements to once a week. The lady finds it very difficult with lesser “load”! Husband is better off in the new situation. Why do people need to be so much social? Is it to show off? Is it that husband and wife cannot spend time together, do they always need to have others for the company?

Jaya and I have almost always gone on our holidays ourselves, never felt the need to have some company. While downsizing, people should try and learn to be with themselves but at the same time, now I am making a conflicting statement, get to know more people. What I mean is when you are on a busy social circuit, you may have the pressure to be present at the party, come what may! (e.g. attending Rotary Club meetings) It seems that the Rotary club allows you to “attend” meetings even if you are in Timbuktu or a small town in Venezuela! Yes, you get to know new people, or do you? If there is a language barrier how will you “meet” people? About my conflicting statement above, “get to know more people”. By this what I mean is that during this new phase you should try and talk to strangers while you are in a shop or a mall. Why not? Don’t be apprehensive! This will give something to look forward to, at the same time, you will be able to come out of “you may have the pressure to be present, come what may” phase of life!

During the downsizing phase, try to learn new things. It may be physical or maybe brain churning. Learning how to use WhatsApp can become a tough activity for people who feel technologically challenged. But once you have learned it, it can become a great way to stay in touch with people. Try using the internet and internet banking! Money transactions remain part of our life till our last day on the Terra Firma! Of course, someone else will have to pay your last hospital bill!! In younger days, all the payments etc were managed as easily as driving a vehicle; those were never a problem in those days.

But at the same time, if you want to withdraw cash, don’t use an ATM, go to the bank! You will meet some people there. Don’t order everything online, go to mom and pop stores next door, simply to meet people. Another thing, I would suggest is to try to learn reading from the screens! Yes, the Hard Cover books and the paperbacks, have their own charm! But going to bookshops can be a problem. If the letter size is small it can again become tricky. Insufficient light can also create an issue while reading books. Use the screen means use a Tablet or a Kindle, to read books. You can change the brightness, you can increase the font size too! Don’t get stuck into the phrase, “In our times…” In our time’s things were different but if better options are available, use them. You can write about your experiences using computers, not necessarily to share with others. Do this writing for the purpose of reminiscence, for your own self. Try doing it, you will find it amazing that you have so many memories with you, like the hidden files on the computer.

Friends, I can go on and on and on! But I don’t want you to call me a boring old man! I will sign off with something which tells you the gist of what I am saying. My daughter and her husband are permanently moving to Canada in six to eight months. Their formalities are completed. A friend had come to our home, for Ganapati darshan, the other day. Our Ganapati idol is an eco-friendly idol made of Silver; we never follow the immersion process as done by others! I told my friend, our Ganapati has also got his Canadian PR! He will travel with my daughter to Canada next year! He was a bit surprised! Be practical! This puts downsizing on auto-pilot mode! You can always start something new and less challenging!

Palmistry & Horoscope!

The other day we went for dinner with an American friend of ours. The restaurant was in a mall! While going to the restaurant we saw a palmist sitting with his advertisement board and all! He was dressed in appropriate attire. This is a very sensitive subject, so here is a disclaimer! I am not writing this to hurt anyone and I am not passing any judgement. When I read on these subjects, questions come to mind. I am trying to check them against known facts and current scientific knowledge.  

Our friend asked us jokingly, “Hey Pramod, did you and Jaya get your horoscopes matched before marriage?” I told him we did not do that, I said we had a civil marriage where no religious ceremonies were involved. Both Palmistry and reading of horoscope are supposed have their origins in India. Both these  have been practised from ancient times in India, China, Greece and old cultures. There have been misconceptions, wrong interpretations, disrepute galore through the history, about these practises. Are these sciences as some people call them ? We have extreme views on the subject, total belief to total disbelief! The real thing must be somewhere midway as usual!  

What does palmistry tell you? The palmist studies the palm of an individual and can foretell some things about the person by studying lines, shape of palm, ups and downs on the palm and so on! Physical features of palm definitely tell about person’s cleanliness, health, occupation, nervous habits. Nail biting and Calluses are indication of this. Over a period, a palmists have learnt to judge the people’s personalities. I have a feeling that 60% information predicted can be correct. I assume that these people also study the face of the person; face reading is also an art. We are also aware, that medical professionals are able to judge various things about the patient’s personality looking at the face and the palm. But this is judgement backed by scientific knowledge. I feel that palmistry can be described as an art rather than science. During my childhood in Bombay, there used to be palmists siting on footpaths. They would have details written on paper and neatly tucked in envelops. These envelopes, between 50/75, would be kept in front of him. When a customer arrived, there was a practise that the customer would be asked to give some feed to the bird! After that, the bird would hop around and select an envelop for the customer. That envelop contained a document with customer’s future explained! Wow! Perfect natural way of prediction with no bias! Now I am told that bird is replaced by a computer!

Horoscope is another matter. The description of the constellations is based on the Traditional Astrology – the emphasis is put on the natural inclinations, talents, and events that one may encounter in life. Horoscopes are mainly used for matching personalities of the boy and the girl before the marriage. Each horoscope is supposed to have different Gunas, or check boxes. It is said that if 36 Gunas match for both, then the pair is perfect for marriage. If the match is less than 18, then the marriage is not expected to take place. I also understand that the horoscopes can be suitably modified, at a cost! I remember a joke. A pair decides to get married after their parents get the Horoscopes matched. Match is 100% as 36 gunas match. Then next day they go out for a cup of coffee. The girl says to the boy, now that we are getting married based on 100% horoscope matching, tell me how many affairs did you have? The boy is a little shaky but says, “Oh! I had five affairs!” The girl says.”now I believe in horoscope completely! Our 36 gunas had matched! I also had five affairs!” 

Lot of questions come my mind. My personal opinion is that these are not proven practises. These are judgment-based reading of the situation. In case of palmistry looking at hand and face! In case of horoscope, these are based on horoscope created for the person born. In horoscope, study is made with help of checking of Nakshtras or Lunar Constellations and their positions with respect to each other. This is supposed to checked on the basis of exact time of the birth of the child.  That is where questions start popping up in my mind. Currently, 3,500,00 children are born every day. This means 4 per each second. Do all these four have exactly same horoscope? Since horoscopes are being created for a very long time, there could have been issues due to incorrect time measurements. Time measurement correctness must be an issue even today in rural India. If the basic premises are wrong, then will the Horoscopes be correct? The Horoscope also says that an individual can have bad omen or Mangal Dosha, when there is certain astrological combination. 

In Hindu astrology, Mangal Dosha is an astrological combination that occurs if Mars (Mangal) is in the 1st, 2nd (Considered by South Indian Astrologers), 4th, 7th, 8th, or 12th house of the ascendant chart. A person born in the presence of this condition is termed a Manglik. 

It is believed to be unfavorable for marriages, causing discomfort and tension in relationship, leading to severe disharmony among the spouses and eventually to other bigger problems. This is believed to be caused due to the “fiery” nature of the planet Mars, named after the Roman god of war. Also, if two Mangliks marry, the negative effects are believed to cancel each other out. However, Mars is not the only planet in Astrology that is supposed to affect the relationship and these effects should be seen in a broader perspective of overall astrological compatibility. Two bad things negating each other and creating “Good” scenario, is a great way of overcoming constellations! I am told that there is one scenario where the Mangal Dosha in a person can be negated by doing some religious ceremony? How convenient?! 

I remember one scene from a Hindi Movie, Munnabhai, MBBS. During the marriage ceremony of a couple, their  Priest is creating fear in the mind of the family about Mangal Dosha and what can go wrong because of that. The hero of the film asks the Priest, “Do you know what is going happen to you in next one minute?” The Priest says that nothing is going to happen. The hero takes out a gun and puts it to the head of the Priest and says, “I am going to kill you! If you do not know your own destiny how can you tell other people about their life’s destiny based on unproven practices?” Of course, he does not kill Priest! The destiny is the correct word and destiny generally decides what is going to happen in our lives. The beauty of life is that, we do not know our destiny. It helps us remain optimistic all the time. I had a sore throat trouble for a month in 2013 end; till I went to a specific doctor I never imagined that I would be detected with Cancer! Even when I went into his clinic, I thought the doctor will give me some very strong antibiotics or steroids! This is destiny! But I did not go to palmist or a horoscope guy.   

In today’s times there is great scientific advancement, many things are predicted by science. Still a large number of people believe in in unscientific methods of predicting future, deciding marriages, starting new ventures. What is it? Fear of God? Fear of Bad Omen? What is Bad Omen? This term is being used in the foreboding sense, as with word ominous.  

Palmistry is another method of knowing about the nature of a person and foretelling persons future. Let me tell you scientifically the reasons why we have lines on the palm. Scientifically speaking the lines on a palm, or palmar flexion creases, help the hand’s skin to stretch and squeeze. They can also help identify certain medical conditions. The thickness and number of creases on your palms also depend on factors such as family history and race. This indicates that these lines are formed in the natural way. Lesser number of creases may cause difficulty in stretching skin in that area and may cause bunching of skin.  

Using these lines to predict nature and future of the person is difficult to accept. Faith that people have in palmistry is simply amazing. Let me tell about my college friend. He was a very smart guy and suddenly he started claiming that he has been studying palmistry. But he also claimed that he had specialized in palm reading of girls! Let me assure you, he had a good cliental in college and all his friends were extremely jealous of him!  

I simply believe in Him and destiny. I will share a small anecdote which mixes horoscope and destiny, but its fiction. A person goes to see a horoscope guy and asks about his destiny. Horoscope reader tells our friend that he can predict death but does not share this information. He is told, “You are going to die today evening at 6 pm hence I am sharing with you the time.” Now our friend gets upset and decides that he is going to cheat death! He tosses a coin, heads he goes to North and Tails he goes East! Its Tails so he goes 100 km East and checks into a hotel. Orders food, asks for some beer and watches TV. He awaits 6 pm! At 6 pm there is a knock on the door. He opens and sees Yamaraja himself, the God of Death. Our friend says, “Ok, I am ready but I tried to cheat you and it was pure luck of the coin that decided my presence  here today. How did you locate me?” Yamaraja is surprised with the question. He looks at the document in his hand and says, “This document says that you would be in this hotel today at 6 pm. I was not required to look for you. I came here straight!” Destiny? 

I am predicting future! Future tellers will ask you to put your finger on a glass, eyes on lenses; immediately you will get OTP! The teller will tell your Name, Age, Sex, Address, Date of birth! It’s pure science called UIDAI!