A friend in Need!

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A friend in need is a friend, indeed! If I have friends like you, I don’t need enemies are some of the famous sayings about friends. But you will be surprised to know that in the hierarchy of our life, friends are low down! Don’t be surprised; let me explain. Romantic partners, parents and children come before friends. It is a fact of life.  

Friendships are unique relationships because unlike family relationships, we choose to enter into them. And unlike other voluntary bonds, like marriages and romantic relationships, they lack a formal structure. You wouldn’t go months without speaking to or seeing your significant other (longdistance relationships are rarely successful), but you might go that long without contacting a friend. 

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What are friends for in life? Somebody to talk to, somebody to depend on and somebody to enjoy togetherThe expectations of friends remain throughout life. 

The voluntary nature of friendship makes it subject to life’s whims in a way, a more formal relationship isn’t. In adulthood, as people grow up and go away, friendships are the relationships most likely to take a hit. You’re stuck with your family, and you’ll prioritise your spouse. But where once you could run over to your friend’s house at a moment’s notice and see if he could come out to play badminton, now you have to ask him if he has a couple of hours for a cup of coffee. Life changes, friends get lesser priority. The most important thing about friendship is you can get into and get out of it too! You become friends because you want to become friends. Your family, you cannot choose!  

We start making friends right from our childhood! But at that age, your world is so limited, your friends are chosen from the small group of kids around you where you live, where you go to school or where you are taken to a swimming lesson. If you are lucky, you might keep in touch with them throughout your life. I am fortunate that I am in contact with three of them, on and off! I got in touch with a friend again 45 years after graduation. God is great!  

As you go to high school and college, you become a bit mature and sometimes even wiser. You become more selective about who your friends should be.  

But, in adolescence, people are more mouldableYou will hide your favourite Tshirt at the bottom of the drawer because your friend said that it is not hip enough. The world may never know. By young adulthood, people are usually a little more secure in themselves, more likely to seek out friends who share their values on the important things and yes don’t hide that T-shirt because the friend said so! 

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There is a vast difference in your friends from your school time and your friends from your professional college days. School friends come from a varied background, but those from professional college have more homogeneous intellect. In this phase, our approach becomes more refined, and we make new friendships or continue with old ones based on specific criteria. Yes, you may have learned to smoke and take your alcohol with them. But you also tend to cut off with a few with friends who indulge in too much of binging. In our younger days, Jaya and I were the first to get married in our group, and Sachin was the first kid born in our group. Our priorities naturally started changing, and we ended up getting away from a group of very close friends who indulged in late-night alcoholinduced chats. The status has not much changed because certain closeness snapped during that period.  

In today’s time of WA and FB, we are all lucky to meet old longlost friends. But it so happens that after the first few meetings with school time friends, you realise that you do not have many things common now! But in case of your friends from Professional course, you find common things experienced by all during their careers. When Jaya started meeting her school friends, she was heading Nvidia operations in Pune. These friends wanted to meet for lunch on a particular day. One of them called her at 11 am and asked Jaya to join for lunch. Jaya was in a meeting but took the call as the friend was a dear one. She regretted the invite and told the friend that she would call later. When they met face to face, sometime later, her friends asked Jaya why she did not put in an application for a half a day of leave. Jaya smiled and said, “I did put an application (to herself )  but the leave was not sanctioned!”  

Friendships continue for people who attend colleges, but those who don’t go college have other responsibilities to tackle and are less available. The friendship saga continues till you complete education, but the scenario changes as people start moving out to different cities, states and nations for their jobs. Even if the friends are in the same townthe meeting of friends becomes difficult as time is at a premium. Weekends automatically become busy for day to day chores, which could not be handled during the week.  

When you get married, the friends group is a significant group during the festivities. But this closeness tapers off very fast after marriage; many don’t know what hit them. Family and spouse take precedence over everything else.  

As people enter middle age, they tend to have more demands on their time, many of them more pressing than friendship. After all, it’s easier to put off catching up with a friend than it is to skip your kid’s play or an important business trip. The concept of people’s expectations for friendship is always in tension with the reality of their lives. 

The time is spentmainly, into jobs and families. Not everyone gets married or has kids, of course, but even those who stay single are likely to see their friendships affected by others’ couplings. It is funny that people do not realise that the wedding is the last real get-together with friends. After that, time available goes down the hill 

As people move through life, they make and keep friends in different ways. Some are independent; they make friends wherever they go and may have more friendly acquaintances than deep friendships. Others are discerning, meaning they have a few best friends they stay close with over the years, but the deep investment means that the loss of one of those friends would be devastating. The most flexible are the acquisitive—people who stay in touch with old friends but continue to make new ones as they move through the world. 

That my friends is life, but for my generation, it is a bit too late to make any changesWe can always look back and see how we took the journey of friendship throughout our life! Just pick up the phone and call that friend whom you have not contacted for a long, long time!  

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While we were in hostels, there was a word मिठी! Friends would hug and say this word, which means the Hug! So, a BIIIIIIIG मिठी to all my friends!  

What are friends for in life? I have already said this above – Somebody to talk to, somebody to depend on and somebody to enjoy together. Let me add something. Yes, somebody to shed tear on his or her shoulder when needed!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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Benefits of Social Media!

We hear a lot of minuses about social media, but like everything else, there are always pros and cons. Pluses are what good things you take from anything. I will restrict my discussion to WhatsApp and Facebook; I will add Skype and Facetime to the list too! I am talking about Indian diaspora migrating all over the world. People move for education, job, and lately, they travel to “safe” countries as fugitives too. Some travel for three to six years on different projects. Short term travel has also gone up a lot because the Indian system has now merged with the international business.

Currently, the World Cup Cricket tournament is going on in England. Many Indians have travelled from India and a large number from the US and other countries too. (We had travelled for the Cricket World Cup final in Australia in 2015) The English allrounder Moin Ali was asked his opinion about desis supporting Indian, Pakistani and Bangla Desh teams when these countries played against England. Moin has moved to England from Pakistan. He said, “Now, I have changed my opinion. I am ok if the desis settled in the UK support the countries of their origin.” Many years back, there was a discussion in England that those who have come from outside and settled there should support the English team. That would show their real affinity (patriotism?) to England.

Humans generally do what their heart tells them, in such situations. Is it right or wrong? Who are others to decide? A person who has citizenship of the new country, to me, will always stand up when “Jan Gana Mana” is played! That person will stand up for “God Save the Queen” or “The Star-spangled Banner” too, the country where the person has become a citizen! But you are born and brought up singing Jana Gana Mana; so, when the anthem starts standing up is automatic. It is a natural thing to do.

With the advent of modern technology, staying in touch with people back home is a zip. The main thing is that this technology is mass used and the device, “cell phone” is in everybody’s hand. On top of that, it is inexpensive. In public places, free wi-fi is available, which adds to the ease of usage (and of course to the cost).

People who migrated in ’60 s and ’70 s of the last century found it difficult as international telephony was expensive. Plus maybe the mindset of people who migrated in those times was different. A classmate of mine who emigrated in 1971, came to India for the first and the only time after 45 years. Another friend called his parents twice in the first 15 years, both the times at the time of the birth of his children. I am not sure how these people and their family must have felt in those times.

Another thing was phone density in those times was very poor in India. When Jaya was in the US for one year in 1980-81, we had to do a lot of coordination. She would write me a letter saying at what time she would call me. I would then go to someone’s home to receive the call. We did not have a telephone at home in those days.

Compared to today’s times, not many people migrated in those days. With so few Indians, probably people did not want to say that they were Indians. They would change the pronunciations of names and surnames. Panvalkar would become Pan Walker, Harinder became Harry and so on. Now my son is Sachin Panvalkar in the US and not Pan Walker. The mindset of people has changed. My generation was born around independence and the awe created during British Raj by the “Goras” was not completely washed away. So in other countries, the diaspora would be under the Raj influence, people’s behaviour was subdued. People would try not to openly flaunt Indianness. They were afraid to say, “Myself Deepak Joshi”! They now see many people from different countries like Japan, China and others struggling with English. With this, our people’s confidence has gone up.

Now the situation has changed so much in the next generation that people are not worried about their accent. The social media helps to stay in touch with friends and family back home. WA and FB help in getting alumni, family, friends group updates, so there is no telephonic silence like the olden days. People communicate with each other at the drop of a hat. Living in on different shores does not mean being cut off. Sometimes it so happens that due to work pressure or visa issues, it is not possible to travel home for some functions. People watch the whole thing on live-streaming using Skype. India-Pakistan Cricket match? No problem? Watch it anywhere in the world using modern technology?

How has this helped? How is this useful? Living in different parts of the world for your work does not mean that you are cut-off like the olden days. I remember the story of a person in ’90 s of the last century. He was living in the US for around ten years. For whatever reason, he could not make it back home during that phase. His parents went there to meet him a couple of times. Then his grandmother died. When his father called to inform him about death, the son simply could not accept it. He kept on saying, “ Oh! She was so hail and hearty! How could she die?” In his busy schedule and telephonic silence, he forgot that his grandmother had become eighty! For a previous couple of years, her health had deteriorated, and she had become frail. But in the son’s mind, ten years younger image of the chirpy grandmother was frozen!

Friends, our generation has reached a stage where we have the bragging rights to claim how our life was better, how we used to meet our old friends and so on. We also tend to look down on technology, may be out of phobia, fear, and because we don’t understand the same. Keep an open mind, try and adapt to new technologies. Don’t forget that the same technologies are helping us to remain very close to our families, friends.

Don’t forget that some things don’t change, ever — for example, the subtle reaction on seeing a brown person like you and me in foreign countries. But keeping in close contact with back home, being proud of Indianness helps living life more confidently. The bond created makes the second generation in foreign countries proud to say that they are Indian British or Indian Americans. They handle the subtle reaction mentioned above discretely. My grandson once told me, “Aba when we want to curse Goras discretely, a few of us start speaking in Marathi!” Next time you Skype with your grandson, add a few choice Marathi words to his vocabulary! नमस्कार! नन्तर भेटू!

Be a proud foot soldier!

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Five years back, I had written a blog where I wrote my thoughts about a tree that we have in our garden. 

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/parijatak-%e0%a4%89%e0%a4%b0%e0%a5%8d%e0%a4%ab-nyctanthes-arbor-tristis/ 

In retrospection, I find that my impressions of that time have hardly changed. The world can never be full of topnotch performers, leaders, inventors, people who lead the human race. The world is full of average people, with ordinary ambitions like you and me. You may never be famous, but that is ok! Do I mean to say that we should never dream, we should never think big? Should we not keep on gazing at stars? Should you not be the one hitting the sixer to win the Cricket World Cup? But there can be only a Dhoni to millions of cricketers playing on the grounds of Yorkshire, Maidans of Mumbai and the gullies of small towns in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is ok to be average.  

In the days of modern communication like FB and WA, the perspective can become skew. When an event takes place and is shared, you get a million likes! (Ok, I am exaggerating, but you get a lot of likes) You have some similar event in your life, but you don’t publish it on the FB, or maybe you publish it. You get five likes. You don’t need to get frustrated. What you have done is liked by your dear ones, and you have felt the joy because you did it. To me, the pleasure of doing things is more important than getting the likes. Just because you got a minimal number of “likes” does not mean that your deed was less important 

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You don’t have to change the world or find your one real purpose to lead a meaningful life. A good life is a life of goodness — and that’s something anyone can aspire to, no matter what their dreams or circumstances are. Success is not in fame and glamour, but in routine and mundane too! Real meaning and purpose of life can be found in doing something useful for your family and friends. Cheering up your friends, and spending some time with a person who is unwell and looking for company.

We have been lucky that many people come to Jaya and me to share their woes, sometimes not even looking for advice. We are not analysts, nor are we experts in resolving personal issues. But it is a great pleasure to see a smile on that person’s face when he goes after sharing.  Here what we do is give them an ear and make them feel at home. Tricky situations in someone’s life should do not make them bad people. We should make sure that their dignity remains intact after the discussions. 

In today’s world, we see many achievers who are below 30 years of age. Their every deed, every achievement gets them on TV and the internet. After watching these repeatedly, we start feeling inferior, for no reason. We think this way because we inadvertently begin comparing our lives with those of the achievers. We believe that the achievers life is the new gold standard of how to live life. But don’t forget that you are not called to live their life, you are to live yours! 

Your life’s calling is to help and love those near and dear ones in your life.  You should do this in your neighbourhood, your community or your circle of influence. By doing these good things, you may never be on TV; you may never be publicly praised. You may never be garlanded. Your fulfilment is based on what you are doing on your own rather than whether you are your interviewed on TV or there are articles written in various publications. In whatever you are doing, give your best shot! Make the best of what your life has given you.  

Look for small gems that life brings to you. Your grandmother may have better advice for you than the bestselling author.  Your mother might share with you a little titbit, which might help you complete your project faster. You may find a single mother telling you more about the sacrifice that some expert on TV may say to you. 

These are the men and women we ought to seek out in life—and learn as much from them as we possibly can, about living life to the fullest. Seek out those mentors. They may never be famous, but that’s O.K. 

In the blog link above, I have said the same thing about the flower Parijatak. That flower is not a fancy one like a rose or a heliconia. The Parijatak is like a footsoldier but keeps marching along like the infantry. It is not glamorous; not many people discuss it, not many write about it. These trees do not offer shade like their cousins, the Banyan and the Mango trees. But they keep on giving pleasure in their own way.  

It is not a crime to be well known and famous. But a tiny percentage of people reach that pinnacle. That does not mean that you and I are not important. It so happens that among a lot of talented people, some are at the right place at the right time. Hence, they reach the top but if you don’t reach there, it is not the end of the world. Not reaching the top does not mean that we should not enjoy whatever contribution we are giving to this world; we should always enjoy it. Offering the same help and support to others is a joy that cannot be compared with anything. A Padmashree winning person and one without the award may be doing the same work, with the same passion. Not winning the award should not make you unhappy because your happiness is in doing it and not in being recognised. 

Keep on marching, friends! That is what the foot soldiers do. 

 

 

 

 

 

The chain reaction to improvement!

No human interaction is independent; generally, each action is the interaction of something that has happened before. Some people have the habit of not being neat and tidy. I know of a lady who never made her bed till she became a professional and started working independently, living on her own. She would make her bed and tidy up her room a bit whenever someone was going to drop in. Else things would be, helter-skelter! Somewhere within her, things were brewing up. She made her bed for four consecutive days, after waking up. Then on the fifth day, after making her bed, she picked up the clothes lying around and put them on the hangar or in the cupboard. Tiding up happened for a week, and then one day she got herself a basket to collect her laundry.

One thing led to another. The lady took the neatness drive to the kitchenette, washing her cups and dishes immediately after use. Once her mother came to visit her, without informing, on a Sunday morning. Our lady was fast asleep; she was happy to receive her mother. Her mother was pleasantly surprised to see everything spic and span. When her mother asked her about the change; the lady said, “The small act of making my bed made me realise the importance of not having clutter. But I always felt that doing so many chores was going to be tough; hence, I avoided doing even the basics. I know that I am a good professional, but now I feel that I am a good human being too!” One act of tidying up the bed led to another, like a Domino Effect. The result was being in a charming home was very pleasing and did not involve too much effort, as she had initially thought.

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Domino effect definition is – a cumulative effect produced when one event initiates a succession of similar events. Though this has nothing to do with the current subject, I will share with you the real meaning of the Domino effect. In the game of Cricket, a team is batting well, and they are almost cruising towards victory. A wicket falls against the run of the play, and suddenly the all remaining batsmen get out as if by Domino effect!

Getting into a habit of following routines leads to a domino effect. After I went into semi-retirement, my daily routine had changed. I had more time on hand. So, I added the activity of going to the gym and for a walk in my daily to-do list. While working, these activities were intermittent, but with time on hand, I set up my routine. As far as possible, I don’t change my timings. It took a couple of months, but then these small acts led to a domino effect, and my routine fell in place. I have also added reading activity as a regular activity besides blogging. For the Domino effect to succeed, consistency is very important. Yes, I have also added taking a nap, in my to-do list.emrgency1

Friends, don’t forget that the domino effect takes place in forming bad habits too! Social media is a prime example of how bad habits can also be a part of the Domino effect. Cell phones came in our lives; then came Facebook, followed by WhatsApp in our lives. Where are we today? People are already facing problems of addiction, depression, and what have you? How did it start? It probably started with being able to see emails on a cell phone; then FB and WA. From that small jump, we took the next jump in the precipice of social media. People got hooked and addicted to social media; this addiction may be worse than alcohol and cigarettes! At least people avoid smoking and alcohol consumption in front of elderly, but social media has almost become a socially accepted addiction.

As always, anything good needs a bit of discipline and adhering to specific steps, sequencing and rules. If these are not followed, success could be delayed. The important thing that can happen is that you will be able to analyse yourself, the reasons for failure. The reason may be that the step where you failed was too big a task. Break the task into easily doable steps, and you will succeed.

Start with something which you are most motivated to do. Start with something small and do it consistently. Initially, you may not feel that fall of a Domino! But it will fall. That fall may change your thinking, your way of doing things. But when the Domino falls, it will enthuse you to take up the next step.

Maintain the momentum and immediately move to the next task you are motivated to finish. Let the energy of completing one job, carry you directly into the subsequent behaviour. With each repetition, you will become more committed to your new self-image.

When in doubt, break things down into smaller chunks. As you try new habits, focus on keeping them smooth and manageable. The Domino Effect is about progress, not results. Maintain the momentum. Let the process repeat as one domino automatically knocks down the next.

Having good habits has many advantages. You get a good feeling because of the lack of clutter. I had attended one course of 5S, the Japanese techniques. The tutor asked a senior manager from a large company, “Where do you waste your time in office?” The manager gave a bit of thought and  said, “65% of our time is wasted in locating things.” The department obviously had bad habits, and the boss allowed the shoddy way of working. By not being into good habits, efficiency gets drastically reduced. Performance becomes poor. But such things cannot be changed overnight. A small beginning needs to made and then let the Domino effect take its own course.

Good habits are not for someone else, they are for your own good. You become a better person, you become an efficient individual. All these things are needed to improve your persona. Many times we don’t change because we do not allow the domino effect to take place. We try to reach Mount Everest without even trying to reach the top of your local hill. But to reach the top of a local hill, start with climbing four floors in your condo using a staircase!

People in our lives, courtesy FB!

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In my childhood, in fact, in everyone’s childhood, there have been games like “My spit goes farther than yours” played with friends. It was great fun & did we enjoy such games!! Facebook game of “My Friends list is longer than yours!” appears to be the latest variant of the childhood games. But is it fun? Does it have childlike innocence to it?

I joined Facebook a few years back when someone suggested I join, and I joined. I did not have much knowledge of FB (today also my knowledge level of FB is not much different.) What is FB, why do we use FB, are the questions that come to my mind? I know that Mark Zuckerberg is the owner and I also know that there are N number of more zeroes in front of his wealth figure than that of common man’s wealth would have. I have seen the movie Social Network based on the birth of FB. Beyond this information, I also know that this site is used for socialising. I am aware that that FB is now used for advertising, I presume it is like google advertising. In between news feed, you will get a few ads for banks or MakeMyTrip and so on. I am sure it is a paid service, and FB gets paid for this. But this benefit is for FB and not you and me!

In earth’s history, we define periods as AD and BC; similarly, there are times Pre FB and Post FB! Life has become very different during these time zones and it is difficult to compare these pre and post-FB times. In Pre days, people used their phones to talk to each other or physically meet up, now people write on your wall to ask “hey, how is your hernia doing?” In post days I have seen people posting their journey details when they travelled from Mumbai to Delhi by road, a snippet of posting. “Finally we reached a reasonable Hotel, and I rushed to the loo, what a relief!!” Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw must be squirming in their graves, “Why I could never write such Gems during my lifetime”?

What is the best way of using FB? Every individual has a different opinion on the same. I use it for an essential function of birth date management. FB reminds you of the birthdays of friends, but I like an idiot do not write on the wall, I call people and talk to them on their birthdays. Initially, I used to be worried; I thought people would think that I am breaking their privacy by calling them. But I have realised people like it if you call!! I am on FB, like United Nations observer. I do not do anything. I observe what others are doing. It probably helps me understand how people of different generations interact with each other. I use FB to publish my blogs!

Senior citizens and retired people are in their own world. They keep on posting about subjects that they pursued during their active days or of the fields they wanted to take up but could not get the opportunity or the forum. The younger female gang around twenty-five, have a peculiar way of saying things, it is FB language (Chow Chweet etc). Of course, they keep on writing about sweet nothings! Then the very young brigade can have 1300 to 1500 friends, may write about anything in this world. In the case of active young ones, this figure can reach even 2500. It is okay because they are trying to find their path in life, and this includes finding of who real friends are. Then there are mature persons in forties; even they sometimes put personal stuff on FB. Did we share personal details with 200 or 400 hundred people in Pre FB days?

There are an average of 200 friends for many, but this figure can reach 400 in other  cases. Do you have 400 friends in real life? Do we even have 200 “friends” in real life? Friends is an FB term, but it is mostly acquaintances. Can we handle so many friends? Friendship is like any other relationship & needs to be cultivated. After your daily grind, do you get time to cultivate such large numbers?

I have seen two persons around the age of fifty, who have around 2000 friends!! 2000 is a large number under any thought process. How are these people selecting friends? Is it that in your daily work or life if you talk to a new person or meet a new person, you immediately send him/her a friend request as soon as the meeting is over? Is this Zuckerberg’s idea of Facebook? I have seen some people advertising their business opportunities daily to the same 2000 people by way of the news feed. Won’t people get fed up?

It reminds me of a story I read in newspapers. A lady became friends with an unknown person from a different town. One thing led to another; then they decided to meet physically. During the meeting, the guy had different ideas and started getting physical with her. The lady resisted and that resulted in the guy getting wild, and ultimately he killed her! Do people understand the meaning of dealing with people in anonymity? What people write and what they are can be quite different. When you meet people face to face, from gestures, eye contact one gets the feel of the personality. Behind the computer screen, this is not possible, and you might end up meeting a Frankenstein!!

 

The world is full of people who follow different, paths! I am talking of a personality we met much before FB days. You come across them, through newspapers, in personal interactions, if you are lucky. We were fortunate to meet Mr Anna Apte. When we met him, he was eighty plus. His passion was to write a book about computers in Marathi. The event was more than 25 years back, in the early ’90s when computers were not so common. Anna had never had formally learnt computers, but his zeal was to be seen to be believed. He would come to our home before 7 am, of course with pre- intimation. Jaya used to leave for office at 7.30. Once he had taken an appointment, he would be there on time, come what may! It could be raining; it could be freezing weather in Pune winters. Nothing would deter him. Anna would come all wrapped up, with his eyes shining. He would come for 15 minutes, get his doubts cleared from Jaya and then go with an ever-smiling face.

Do we ever form such relationships on FB? I have my doubts. Probably all the technology that we have can bring different advantages. But we “know” people in the real sense only when we meet them face to face and regularly.

Friends! Some of you know me through my blogs! Some of you knew me before my blog avatar! But the love and blessings that I get from all of you would never have been possible if we had become only FB friends! I came in touch with a lady who is my age! She collects donations for a social a organisation. A high level of closeness  got created with her, though we met only once or twice a year! Can FB give such friends? Only Zuckerberg can tell!

 

 

Yes, no! No, yes!

The classic conflict going on in our minds is whether to say Yes or to say No! Every day, many such situations come in our life when we must decide either way. The subject could be anything, but the situation arises where you need to take a call. We need to have clarity in our minds that No is a decision whereas Yes is a responsibility.

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Life is full of things that keep you busy. Before the advent of FB and WA organising your life was much more manageable. Whenever you are doing anything, there will be a request from family, friends, colleagues and others to help them out with something. Our natural tendency is to say Yes! The reason for Yes is to make you look good in other people’s eyes. There is a slim chance that the help is genuinely needed. By this, I do not mean that other times the request is not genuine. But before we reply, our grey cells must work to check if the priority of what you are doing is above the requested work. In most cases, for obvious reasons, your work has more priority. Then your answer to the request should be No.

How to say No is also equally important. You should say No politely; you can briefly give the reason why you are saying No. Maybe you can suggest an alternative way of doing the job. After all, you also need help from others. In a work situation, people come to you because they have to reach their goals, but then you also have your intentions as well as targets! But one thing for sure when you say No, say it emphatically.

The secret of productivity is quite straight forward. Not required to doing anything is faster than doing something. There are situations where no action is necessary, but we tend to dabble into doing something. In software, “no code” is efficient than any code! No meeting is always more effective than any meeting. There is a saying, organising a meeting should follow the principle of ordering pizza. Pizza can be shared with only a certain number of people; similarly, invite only certain numbers for the meeting. In today’s digital calendar world, you get “Invites” to too many meetings; find out which meetings make a difference to your work and regret others. Do not forget that someone has called a meeting, does not mean that it is an essential meeting! I had a friend who was the Managing Director of a company. I did some work with him and was required to go to their office quite often. Once while having tea with him, I said, “You have too many meetings and must change the culture.” After some discussion, he agreed and called a meeting to decide how to reduce the number of meetings. After five meetings, they still did not arrive at any conclusion.

There is a thought process that saying No is a prerogative of the bosses. In a way it is correct, but others can also say No by being gracious!

How often do people ask you to do something and you reply, “Sure thing.” Three days later, you’re overwhelmed by how much is on your to-do list. We become frustrated by our obligations even though we were the ones who said Yes to them in the first place. It is the meaning of saying Yes without understanding the implications.

In the first place, what is the difference between Yes and No? These two words Yes and No are used so frequently that we tend to think that they have equal weight! But in reality, from the commitment angle, they have entirely different magnitude.

When you say No, you are only saying no to one option. When you say Yes, you are saying no to every other opportunity.

Assume that you have agreed to someone that you will help draft a document for her. You have given away your option to say No to her. You may become busier suddenly, but there is no way of coming out of the commitment. Your escape route to No is cut off in this case.

Saying No may look like a prerogative of the successful people, but for others, it can be a strategy to become successful! When you learn to say No, you are left with more time to continue to do what you are doing. There is a saying, “If you don’t guard your time, others will steal it!”

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Saying No applies not only in regards to helping others. You are working on a particularly important work of your life. On the way, you will come across many more ideas, many more distractions. Not all other ideas will be wrong; they may be quite interesting, but you can not allow yourself to be distracted. Saying No to distractions is a focused way of saying Yes to your work! People will appreciate it when you say, “since I am busy with the current project, I can look at ideas suggested by you at a later stage after my project in hand is done.”

You need to “Upgrade” your No! As you continue to succeed and improve in your skill sets, you need to change your strategy of saying No. Upgrading your No doesn’t mean you’ll never say Yes. It just means you are programmed by default to saying No and only say Yes when it makes sense. Saying No is very powerful because it preserves the opportunity to say Yes.

How to say No is a million-dollar question and there are no easy answers! But one way of doing it is to ask yourself, “If I had to do this today will I agree to do it?” If the answer is Yes, then don’t say No. By postponing it to a future date, at some time, it is going to become imminent and you must do it. Writing a blog is much easier than saying No in real life. But do not forget to apply various suggestions discussed, every time someone asks your support. Remember it is easier to say No than coming out of the commitment at a later stage.

If an opportunity is exciting enough to drop whatever you’re doing right now, then it’s a yes. If it’s not, then perhaps you should think twice.

Friends, please remember that saying No is not a negative approach but a positive way of taking your own work forward. So do not hesistate to say No, if you feel that it is the right thing to do! Option of saying Yes is anyway open to you!