Bappa’s Constitution!

Yesterday when we were going out, in the car Rhea asked a question to my daughter Priya.  She said, “Is it our flags birthday today?” It was not a simple question. Priya said, “No, it is our constitution’ s birthday!” For a five-year-old, the next inevitable question was what the constitution is? Priya said, “It is a rule book for all of us.” Rhea then asked, “Did Bappa write the rule book?” Bappa is the Marathi word for God.

In childhood everything is very straightforward, that includes life. Good things in life happen because of God, and the bad things occur because of the demons. They define everything as  0 & 1; things are either black or white. There are no shades of grey. Childhood naivety is responsible for an easy life. For kids, there are no complexities. When life is good, they laugh when it is sad, they cry.

But adult life is tricky and where everything is in shades of grey. “Fifty Shades of Grey” is a book representing today’s times. For the benefit of those who are not aware of this book here is the link.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fifty_Shades_of_Grey

This book is about sex, control, wealth and combination thereof. Wealth is about ownership. The concept of ownership started ten thousand years back when humans started organised farming.  With farming, the nomadic tribes began to settle into areas near the water, rivers or lakes. Many settlements also started near the sea, but the drinking water was a problem initially.

With the ownership started the issues of controls. In other species like monkeys, controls were mainly about leadership and females. There were no other assets hence things were and still are simple. But today humans need to control the area, then the city, state and nation. Further people want to control other countries. Controls are taken to get natural assets.

I was just trying to imagine a naïve world as seen through the child’s eyes. Life would be simple. Children can play, chat with each other. There are no language barriers; they don’t have territory issues. We should use Google Earth, metaphorically. When we open  Google Earth and see our home,  we can get to know the house distinctly when we zoom in. Start zooming out.  First, we see our colony, then the area, then the city.

Further zooming shows us the state where we live, then the nation. As we zoom further, we see our continent — finally the whole earth. What is the meaning of this change? These images take us away from the barriers we have created, the barriers crash. We go away from our small abode; we are taken far away from the language spoken and finally from the geography of our nation and the continent. We need to rewrite the Bappa’s Rules, as seen from Google earth as there are unnecessary barriers. We need to think out of box. We should become naïve like small kids.

If you think that Pramod is trying to visualise utopia because I am trying to say something that is impossible; no sir! It has already happened to some extent in our world. What is the European Union (EU) after all? EU was born in 1993. Most of the European nations joined the EU or agreed to be part of EU and share the same rules, currency, visa and so on. They have managed to remove the unnatural barriers. A couple of years back when we took an Alpine tour, we started in Germany, went to Austria, then to Italy.

Further, we travelled to Switzerland, again to Italy and back to Switzerland. Finally, we took our flight back home from Frankfurt in Germany. No border checks, no customs inspection, we could use the same currency Euro in most of the places.

When a big continent like Europe can survive using naïve rules where they tried to remove many unnatural barriers, I am sure other nations can also work to remove the obstacles. There are problems in EU, but questions had been worse when there were more barriers. Imagine a world free of passports, visas, x-ray machines and so on! There are problems galore like terrorism, refugees who made it necessary to create such complex systems.

When she was younger, Rhea had asked me one question in a Mandir. “How does the Bappa know when I ask him to make me wise, in Marathi? Does he understand all languages?” Bappa or God is our creation. He does not bother about barriers; he understands every language in the world. We know him as God, Jesus, Mohamad. The different species look different; some fly, some are underwater. Some are two-legged, most are four-legged. Except for humans, all other species follow nature’s rules. They die when they die. Nobody takes them to hospitals. Birth and death are natural processes and should be accepted as they come. I am sure some of the species must be feeling sad when one of them dies.

In many cases, when their time has come to go, they only go away from the clan and die.

Which constitution or the rules are the correct rules or better rules? Bappa’s Constitution or the nations’ constitution? A good idea will be to have a mix of the two the way EU manages their affairs. The nation should follow local rules for running the nation and God’s rule for international relations. Writing these two lines is quite simple and bringing them into practice will be tough.

Coming to the naivety of 50 years back, what has changed in the social fabric? In India, there used to regular riots between people of different religions, the number of riots have come down. But the social atmosphere, these days, is always either tense or very tense! In the United States, African Americans were not allowed to take part in beauty pageants. There used to be open discrimination till late ’60 s of the last centuries. Discrimination has reduced somewhat, but I feel that people have become subtle, they have not changed. The coarseness in the Americas is on the rise for the last few years. The stressed social fabric of current times is due to jingoistic social media and political atmosphere both in India and the USA.

Galloping technology is supposed to bring ease of living, but it also brings in a big gap in rich and poor! Besides the usual reasons for a socially tense atmosphere, this divide of haves and have nots is going to add to the stress — all the more reason why Bappa’s Constitution will make more sense.

Let us all pray to him in any language (he will understand) to bring naivety back to our society. Pray to Him to teach us to improve ourselves so we can remove disparity, hate and barriers!

Rhea, to me Bappa’s rules are always good!

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Pseudos!

Pseudo is a term to define non genuineness. Years back I remember, Indian Industry doyen S L Kirloskar had made a very valid statement. One of the main roads in Pune was being widened; some trees were required to be uprooted. Environmentalists, anti-everything gang made a hue and cry that trees are a must and trees need to be protected. Of course, it was true up to an extent. But SLK said, “Are trees for us or humans are for trees?” Development of the planet, some call it raping the planet, is bound to occur. It is now happening at a faster pace. This puts pressure on cities and their infrastructure. We need wider roads, more houses. This needs to be done, keeping in mind the environmental aspects. Opposing everything is incorrect, illogical, and to me stupid. The pseudos want all this to happen at the Stone Age Ecology levels!

We humans sometimes behave arrogantly, try to bulldoze, try to push things to extremes. It’s good to have checks and balances. But opposing everything, for the sake of opposition is equally arrogant, pushy and so is bulldozing everything. It is essential to keep a check, on checks and balances, to me these groups are Pseudos in most cases.

Take the example of a road that my city Pune, is trying to build across a hill. This is going on for a couple of decades. Groups have gone to court. The opposition is against trees that will be damaged. City authorities have given an affidavit to the courts, saying that they will plant 10 times the number of trees that will get damaged. But somehow the case is dragging. Come on, entire cities like San Fransisco are built on the hills! Still, the city is so green!  All said and done, even after so much progress (?), Pune is still a green city!

Why do people and groups oppose everything? Who are these people? They are environmentalists, they are the people who feel that saving this planet from others is the responsibility bestowed on them by Him! Most importantly, they feel that they are experts in every field! They know that roads should not be built on the hills. I thought that there is a concept called a hill station! What are they? How do you move around on hill station without a road? How do you reach the hill station? We know what the roads do. Roads bring cars and trucks, roads bring pollution. But roads also connect places and people. Roads bring prosperity, roads improve connectivity. An idea should be to reach the goals with the least possible pollution.

In this decade Electric Vehicles technology is coming to the fore! The inflexion point for EV’s could be as early as 15 years from today. Various groups should come together and find out what new problems will come up. One thing is sure that emission issues will go down drastically and particle pollution from IC engines will start reducing. But our pseudo-friends instead of working with the vehicle manufacturers, have started discussions about how batteries will create pollution.

Another area where these groups are very active is animals. Saving species from extinction is the responsibility of each government and individual. It is the responsibility of humanity. The natural diversity that we have on the earth should be maintained. In India Maneka Gandhi, Minister of women and child development is at the forefront of this movement. It is a great thing that the Indian government is backing these efforts. But to what extent this should be done is a matter of discussion.

We had a recent incident in the state of Maharashtra. A Tigress, which had become man-eater over the last two years had become a major problem. She has attacked and killed 13 people in her area of dominance. The government of Maharashtra decided finally to take services of a sharpshooter. Even in such situations, an attempt is made always to use darts to anaesthetize the animal by using darts.

The “Shikari” used the darts, still, the Tigress advanced forward in their direction so he shot her dead. Congratulatory messages started flowing and immediately a controversy was created. “Murder” was the headline in newspapers followed by a very strong worded statement by Ms Gandhi. When the minister from Maharashtra Government sent a congratulations message to the hunter, Ms Gandhi demanded that the minister should resign for authorizing a “Murder”! Tigress must be saved at any cost people’s lives be damned! What are 13 people from a population of 1.4 billion people? These people can always be spared.

Then there is the big story of stray dogs. In India, touching a stray dog is extremely tricky. There are rulings which are very much on the side of the dogs, which to me is the right thing.  As per the laws of nature, humans have gone far ahead of other species in everything. They keep dogs as pets, lately, some people adopt dogs instead of giving birth to children or adopting human babies. These lucky pets and adopted dogs have a good life as we humans have. But there is a big population of stray dogs, some of them sick and others rabid. According to laws government agencies can only catch them and can’t kill the rabid dogs. Read this an old article from BBC which says that in India rabid dogs kill more people than the terrorists!

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-36035456

But to what extent the leash should be loosened, pun intended, is a matter of conjecture. The subject of saving the dogs has gone a bit too far for my liking. I also have the same question as what SLK had. Are dogs for us or are we for the dogs? I like dogs and I am Ok with folks who have dogs as pets. I know of a couple who live in the USA. They have adopted dogs and when they travel round the globe, they Video Chat with their children. Good for them!

But to me on any of these subjects, humans must come first and and dogs, trees, tigresses, and environment comes second. Not a very distant second but still a second! What is your opinion, my friends?

Marriages are made in heaven!

Marriages are made in heaven but we live our life in this world, on the terra firma! To me, this sentence is created by some smart cookie who is an expert in the blame game. Marriage does not work, blame the heaven’s administration! Simple is it not. But on a serious note, marriages are a union between two people of different sex; this definition has now undergone recently in India as now marriages between two people of the same sex are also legal. Another term used is they are blissfully married. By the time we find dictionary meaning of blissfully, the marriage becomes a routine relationship, a pleasant one if both spouses are sensible, practical people.

Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock, is a socially or ritually recognized union between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between those spouses. It establishes rights and obligations, between them and any resulting biological or adopted children, and  creates affinity. The definition of marriage varies around the world not only between cultures and between religions but also throughout the history of any given culture and religion. It evolves to both expand and constrict in who and what is encompassed, but typically it is principally an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually sexual, are acknowledged or sanctioned. In some cultures, marriage is recommended or considered to be compulsory before pursuing any sexual activity. I know this is 2018, but please don’t laugh!

Enough of theoretical things and definitions. What really is a marriage? I will not delve into complications about marriage between people of same sex for obvious reasons, anyway, “normal” marriages are also complicated. In practical terms it is an event where two people start living together, (I know about live in relationships 🙂🙂) use the same bed, use the same bathroom, once they are comfortable with each other, they are not shy to tell each other that they need to use the bathroom. On a different level, they follow their careers but at the end of the day come to the same home, share the same dining table, though not necessarily the same food, go for movies, go and meet friends some old and many new! Both generally acquire an additional set of parents through marriage, hopefully. They also acquire new sets of aunts, uncles and cousins. With all these changes they are expected to get more joy. In one of my blogs, I had written about the inner circle theory. Husband and wife are in the innermost circle along with parents, to start with, after marriage. When children are born, they come in the inner circle and parents move in the outer circle. This defines the direction in which marriages are expected to move. Oh, yes! I forgot, they openly have sex. If you keep log of all the events in any marriage, sex is almost a footnote, though glorified, not untruly!

What is expected out of a marriage? Love, closeness, close friendship, support, intimacy and many more things that come to mind. The intimacy of couples is the most important aspect but its frequency starts waning as time passes. By intimacy, I don’t mean sex. This aspect gives maximum satisfaction to mind but from what we read, it has the least shelf life in most marriages. Reasons are different but “Honeymoon” period of intimacy is quite limited, pun intended.

What are the reasons for people to marry especially when it is an arranged marriage? Because the girls land is adjoining to yours, his family has a flourishing business, her father was the big farmer in town, or both families are from the same cast or sub-caste. These are reasonable sets of reasons to start with but then comes loneliness, infidelity, abuse, the hardness of heart and shouts due to reason “who should attend to the baby at 3 AM”! The reasonable marriage is not reasonable to start with!  It is based on thought processes prevalent in the society. Hence though we think in terms of bliss due to initial euphoria, on a practical level marriage is a different animal.

The person who is best suited to us is not the person who shares our every taste (he or she doesn’t exist), but the person who can negotiate differences in taste intelligently — the person who is good at disagreement. As the time passes, thoughts come in mind that one has married a wrong person! Rather than some notional idea of perfect complementarity, it is the capacity to tolerate differences with generosity that is the true definition of the “not overly wrong” person. Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition. There is never a right person but at best there can the best or the least wrong person!

We need to exchange the romantic view for awareness, that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will in return do the same to them. This can end up in our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to, is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for. Is his smoking more acceptable to you than drinking? Is her sense of bold dressing acceptable to you or is her not mixing with your family more acceptable to you? Every single person has his or her quirks. It is how each one handles them in a marriage, maturely, decides the success of the marriage.

In my blog “Tit for Tat” I have suggested “out of box” interpretation of the saying. During any difference of opinion, which happen in plenty in “matured” marriages, taking a step back, saying sorry sincerely or any re-conciliatory measure should be openly accepted, with “tat” doubling the efforts to diffuse the situation. That to me is a blissful marriage. Once the honeymoon phase in the relationship is over, what we have is brass-tacks. Does the husband share some routine chores in the home? Does wife take up some of the “Man type” of work? If both are professionals do both take an equal load in basic things like routine purchases, taking children to doctors, changing diapers, with a smiling face, as the wife has to go for an urgent meeting.

We marry, to make a nice feeling permanent. We think that the joy of proposing someone on the beach with the Sun setting, later going for a lovely wine and dinner, will continue in our lives all the time. At that time, we tend to feel that we are the only couple who has achieved such level of happiness, such a bliss. Based on this lovely thinking we marry and expect the sensation to remain permanent in our lives. In that frame of mind, we tend to forget that there is no real connection between that lovely feeling and the institution of marriage!

Marriage is the most universal relationship but it is one of the toughest one. Marriage is the only relationship where all the details, which are unknown to others, about the spouse, are known to the other spouse. It includes bodily functions, fears, habits, insecurities, fear of the unknown. As the real intimacy, other than sex, comes into  picture, one may get a feeling, in most cases, that we have married a wrong person. But friends, that is not true. It is how you accommodate each other’s unknown quirks, let me assure you both spouses have them, it is how you start taking things in stride, you may become a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian to accommodate your spouse. As the saying goes, with the intimacy, closeness is automatically created. But in most cases there are ups and owns, mostly downs! Someone may feel that the grass is greener on the side. But when you go to the other side, you may find that the grass was the greenest on your side. You never marry a wrong person, you simply are not able to take things in stride. From a little distance, every person seems fine, but post marriage and intimacy, you know the real person warts and all! Happy blissful married life!

शुभास्ते पंथानः संतु! May the tough road of marriage be auspicious to you!