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.

domino1

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!

Advertisements

People in our lives, courtesy FB!

freinds1

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.

yn2

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!”

yn1

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!

Please listen to me!

 

arguments4Argumentative Indian is a book by Nobel Prize-winning author, Amartya Sen.

The Argumentative Indian has brought together a selection of writings from Sen that outline the need to understand contemporary India in the light of its long argumentative tradition. The understanding and use of this argumentative tradition are critically important, Sen argues, for the success of India’s democracy, the defence of its secular politics, the removal of inequalities related to class, caste, gender and community, and the pursuit of sub-continental peace.

So far so good. But do we deserve to be allowed to argue? I have observed that in the public domain sometimes discussions are done for the sake of discussion. The level of such talks has reached the nadir; speakers have literally reached below the belt, pun intended. A male candidate talking about a female opposition member has made a statement, “I never knew that she was wearing a khaki chaddi (underwear) all these days.” Can one make an argument worse than this one?  Unfortunately, such statements are appreciated by their followers; nobody questioned the candidate while he spoke such vile words.

I am all for freedom of speech, but I would never like to live in an emergency like situation, nor would I like to live under a Hitler or a Mussolini. Everybody loves to argue, but it appears that the art of argument is lost at the altar of the new God, social media. The problem is that even in the public domain, the arguments done in Loksabha or Rajyasabha are more about personal attacks on each other from the ruling as well as opposition parties. Logical speeches are a rarity these days.

Another observation is that social media has created world-class commentators, in thousands. Everybody comments on politics, Indian cricket team selection, whether Priyanka Chopda is pregnant or not! Not only that but there are big fights shown on TV under the names like “Big Fight”, and the same gets reflected on WA groups. On Facebook, people write essays about how Modi is wrong or how Rahul Gandhi does not know anything. It is possible that the writer in every person is waking up, thanks to cell phone and easy to use keyboards in all languages.

About political arguments, the older you become rigid are your views. So on WA groups fighting tooth and nail about your point of view does not make sense. I have known of a few cases where childhood relationships became tense because of such arguments. Another important aspect we forget is that it is not worth fighting on issues on which we have no control. People take Alcohol; some like whisky and some like to drink wine. Some are fond of Beer, and some are Vodka fans. Of course, there are some teetotallers. Is it right that teetotaller calls others drunkards? Can teetotallers be called conservatives? Each person has his/her own way of living life; we should respect the views.

I recently read a poem धूप में घोडे पर बहस (Arguments about a Horse) by Kedarnath Singh. It is fascinating to understand how the poet has looked at the word बहस (argument or discussion).

Three friends were sitting in the Sun (must be winter time) discussing a horse. The first one said that the horse is lovely and the second friend added that the horse is sturdy! The third one said that if the horse is so sturdy then we should not even discuss it. The first friend shouted, “What do you mean we can’t discuss”? The second one said, “Of course, we can discuss.” The third friend looked pleased as he blew the cigarette smoke and said, “But where is the horse?” First one said, “So what if the horse is not there, we can always discuss about him.” The second one said, “I have never seen a horse in ages.” The third one said, “The population of horses is reducing fast”. The second one said, “Why is the population reducing?” The first one said, “That is because horses are being sold.” Now it is immaterial which friend said what. Just enjoy the arguments. “Who buys so many horses?” “We can get this number from somewhere!” “Why, why we can not get the numbers?” Then the first one whispered, “God knows what these numbers will reveal?” Finally, the third one shouted as if coming out of a trance, “Friends, one day we will know the correct numbers and the real story will come out.” After this statement, there was pin-drop silence for a long time. How did Kedarnath know that this will be the future quality level of arguments?

Inferior is the quality of arguments that we have on TV channels and social media. Subjects may be essential for discussion, but the treatment and direction given to subjects are abysmal, sometimes the arguments are nasty. The title of the blog “Please listen to me” is ironical. The word please is never used in discussions these days. In public domain people do and say anything to earn some brownie points.

What is an argument? There are many definitions of arguments, but I have chosen a couple of them.

  • a reason given for or against a matter under discussion
  • an angry quarrel or disagreement

The argument is a way of life and is used at home, in business, in education, in research besides many other areas. While arguing both sides are expected to be professional and polite, giving respect to each other. In science, the argument is put forth in trying to prove something new which may be compared with an existing method, process or a product. By arguing, different points of view come forward. The idea is to discuss and find the best possible solution or resolution to issue being discussed. But every time it may not be an issue. When two people from opposing political parties argue, they are putting their thoughts in front of us and are trying to prove how their party or candidate is better than the other.

I feel that the maturity, dignity, and style are more important while arguing. Shouting match starts when nobody has a better argument, or it reflects on that person’s culture! The discussion should be talking about the chosen subject matter and  unparliamentary words should never be used.

In a housing society committee except for the head, all were young people. This head used to shout to prove his points. In the first meeting after I joined the committee, this person started shouting to prove his point. I told him to speak normally, but he argued that his voice was loud. I told him “Sir, learn to speak softly and then speak, otherwise you need not to speak.” After this incident, he never shouted again.

arguments1

Now regarding the arguments/ shouting match on social media, above mentioned rules should be followed more rigidly. The groups that are formed are for a specific reason. The groups can be an alumni group, office groups, ex-office groups, society group, and many more. But all these people come together because of a specific reason. On such groups, one should not make unnecessary political arguments; these are uncalled for and counterproductive. For those who are politically minded, should form a separate group and keep on doing what they feel is right. My observation is that all groups 90 to 95% are not interested in such arguments.

Kedarnath Singhji has found it long back the way people argue. He has explained it in a light-hearted manner. So, let us go by his advice and suggestions, refrain from arguing on social media and if you are in an argument, use the word “Please”! Let me assure you good arguments are fun, and they are enjoyable, if done the right way!

Death has its own mind!

Main Zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya is a famous song from Hindi movie Hum Dono, picturised on evergreen hero Devanand. The first lines of the song are

I playfully went along in my life

But I always blew my worries up in smoke

These lines are significant in the Golden phase of life of humans, for that matter any phase. The song suggests that you  don’t bother about worries! (Ok don’t smoke like Devanand as shown in the song!)

During the last month, three of our batch mates “suddenly” expired. Why have I written suddenly in quotes? Was it so sudden? The meaning of sudden is, occurring or done quickly and unexpectedly or without warning. We are a group of engineers who passed out in 1971 from COEP. On the WhatsApp group, there are 140 of us. We came in touch with each other after 45 years. Thanks to modern technologies like WA and FB. Even after being on the group, most have interacted with about 15 % of friends on the group. Admins are in touch with more friends than others. Those who were known during college days and continued to interact even later, know each other very well. But most others are colleagues who “meet” on WA group. These friends also meet during breakfast lunch/dinner meetings.

After these deaths, the discussion on WA group was uneasy, and the mood was melancholy. The questions in the  mind would be why these sudden deaths? Who is next? When is my time getting over? A document was shared by a friend “When I should die!” It is a comprehensive document and explains and convinces you that the author’s theory is right! But what is the hurry?

Birth is an event which takes place where the person born has no control. Similarly, humans don’t have control over death. People say that one can commit suicide hence could have control over death. But someone does not wake up and commit suicide. The situation builds up; the person is giving the signals that there is something wrong. The person may talk to a friend about the wish to die. Friends may try and convince the person against such thoughts. It indicates that humans do not have control over death. On the subject of suicide, you owe a responsibility to others, like family anf friends!

Longevity plays an important in this discussion. Life expectancy in India is growing by leaps and bounds. In one or two generations it is observed that on an average, people in certain strata of society, live to an average age of 70 plus. But compared to the national average, all of us in the group are living bonus life! Is it surprising that people around the age of 70 are dying? Out of three friends who expired two had not been keeping well for some time. Third one died of a stroke. We all are aware that strokes can sometimes be fatal. When one looks at these events, except the third one, there were NO surprises. Since we were not in touch with friends regularly, we did not know about their health conditions daily. Hence, we had assumed that these were sudden deaths.

Is the reaction to study and find out what the right time is to die, a solution? These days on the internet, you have information about everything under the Sun. That does not mean we should bother about every new theory. In various hypothesis, there has been a description that humans live to the age of 100. It is a false hypothesis. A tiny percentage of people cross the century, world over. But on average the life expectancy is between 50 to 80 years globally. Ladies live a few years longer.

People who are fatalistic about life and generally have negative thinking may start thinking about death even at the age of 40! But what is the point? What is the point in thinking about something on which we don’t have any control? So instead, a good idea will be to think about enjoying life, in our golden period. At our age, for most of us, the family responsibilities are over. At this stage, we should be doing things that we could not do while we were busy in our careers.

Deathwish2

Money, health and positive thinking are things that are most important, not necessarily in the same order. I am not discussing money because at this stage we know about our financial status. We must spend within our means, which anyway would be the right thing to do. Staying positive is very important because with negative thinking one would be looking to discuss and think more about death. Is it going to help? Someone might argue that it is practical to think about the future. But if you think that 75 is the right age to die, then are you going to commit suicide on 75th birthday? No, you are not. So, don’t  bother about such milestones.

Since we do not know about our final day on the terra firma, the best course available is to try and maintain good health. There was some discussion on the group that if one becomes dependent or bed-ridden, then it is not worth living at all.  Though I may tend to agree, I knew of someone who could not stand up or sit. He used to run a business. He had got his vehicle modified and would go to major customers like Tata Motors in his car. The officers would come downstairs and hold meetings in his vehicle; he had altered his car for lying down. To me, it’s about will power. In the golden age period, there may not be something to look forward to if you are bed-ridden so maybe …

How to maintain your health? Take exercise daily and go for walks in green areas. The greenness of trees uplifts your mood. Meet a few friends, get to know new people. After your walks, don’t go and have fried stuff like bhajiyas (but occasionally that too is ok!) If your health allows lifting weights, go ahead and do it, under the guidance of doctors.

There is plenty of evidence that weight training can help us age well. By our early 40s, most of us start losing muscle mass, at a rate of about 5 per cent a decade, with the decline often precipitating a long slide toward frailty and dependence. Older people who lift weights can slow or reverse that descent. In many experiments, older people who start to lift weights typically gain muscle mass and strength, as well as better mobility, mental sharpness and metabolic health. With this noticeable gain, there will be an improvement in mental health too! I do both walks and lift weights, and I can vouch for the same.

Then there are many other things which one can do. Besides the obvious suggestions like photography, reading, travel there could be many things that can be attempted. I had never thought that I would blog seriously; my initial attempts were amateurish and quite infrequent. The passion of blogging gives me real pleasure. Besides the joy of writing and publishing, friends call me and share their views with me; this sometimes leads to intellectual discussion and simulation.

Friends, worrying about future and death is of no use. We don’t have any control over death, blow your worries to smithereens. Sing and Dance, have fun. If you are lucky you may die “suddenly”. Yes, let us use English correctly. Very few deaths are sudden because we are unaware that someone is unwell! The slide below tells us about the advantages of not so sudden deaths!

Deathwish1

MeToo or IToo!

Expert1

MeToo movement has caught everybody’s imagination, recently. We all know what MeToo is, but do you know what IToo is? IToo is an old movement followed by many experts who are “experts” without being experts! Expert is defined as a person who is very knowledgeable about or skilful in a particular area.

The recent trend is, people join the Google Academy and become experts in any field they want. I will tell you how the thought about writing on this subject came in my mind. I have selected the topic IToo because there are people who market themselves as experts in specific fields. They come in touch with some subject because of their career and start calling themselves experts. They are always in contact with newspaper reporters, they cultivate people who write in newspapers and magazines. Over a period, experts are named scientist or senior scientist and so on. I am not sure, but after some time “experts” really start thinking that they are the real experts.

I heard an interesting story from a friend. We have our homegrown “experts” in Pune. One computer expert went to the bay area on a visit, and he was invited to speak, by a group of people predominantly from Pune. (He is not known outside Pune) During the speech, he asked a question, “How many of you are from Pune”? Many hands went up. He asked them, “Now that you have lived away from Pune, for many years, which three top things you remember about Pune.” The obvious replies were Chitale Mithai wale, (Sweets Shop) PNG Jewellers, and Vaishali restaurant. Vaishali is Pune’s iconic adda for more than 50 years. It is a joint which serves mainly south Indian food like Dosa, Idli. Any of our brethren coming from foreign countries must visit Vaishali at least once during the visit. Our expert, after coming back told his Rotarian friends that he was surprised to see the great value of Vaishali brand name! Now can a Pune person not knowing  about Vaishali brand be called a Pune person? Experts are supposed to know a few things about things outside their area of expertise. But not knowing Vaisahli…. Then he went and met the owner of Vaishali and told him that he wants to honour him on behalf of his Rotary club because of such achievement. The owner said, “I don’t have time for such functions.”  They honoured him at the restaurant itself!

Such stories are found everywhere. Generally, people are decent hence they don’t challenge the pseudo’s about the knowledge. But why people want to be called an expert when they are not? I would not like to call myself an expert in anything because I am not! Why do you want to be known as, what you are not?

I found this interesting table which shows traits of pseudos in the field of science.

Expert2

Another field, where there are many self-professed experts, is diets! There are many dietary experts in this profession; their number is going up because of WA and FB. People will share before and after photos, write stories about the path they have followed. My meagre knowledge on the subject tells me a simple method. The human body is designed in such a way that human health depends on what we eat and what we spend in terms of calories. When there is a mismatch, either you lose weight, or you gain weight. Ok, it is not as simple as I have written. There are many other factors but generally what I have written is obvious. There are experts like Dixit, Bose, Tripathi, Divekar. The latest name I have been reading is Joshi. He is giving his theories, and according to him all other “experts” are a hoax or bogus. There is another group (in fact it is a company) which has created the “real expert” groups. They give you a book called “What Doctors do not know and understand” or some such name, to begin with. I thought that Doctors are the ones who study medicine, they study about our body, they generally know the basics. Some may become surgeons, others pathologists and so on. But I feel that they would know more than the “experts”, about our bodies in general.

There has been another group of experts. People from this group are generally from art, cinema etc. As being the members of such a visible group, they think that they are experts in the field of human freedom, censorship etc. They publicly speak like socialists or communists! They treat anybody and everybody from the government as a pariah. These experts don’t mind using government support for foreign jaunts to attend festivals. They do not remember getting land or homes from the government at a meagre price or maybe free. But when it suits them, they suddenly start attacking the government. Recently, an eminent personality from Pune was invited for a talk about an artist and his paintings. This gentleman started talking about how the government is secretly forcing censorship on the art groups, the selection of venues and so on. The organisers had called him to talk about the artist. The committee chief stood up while our friend was bombarding the government. The chief suggested, “We are meeting here to listen to you speak about an artist and your equation with the artist. So please stick to the main subject.” The gentleman got upset and said, “If I have no freedom to talk what I want, why did you call me?” The answer was simple he was told. “Sir, we have called you to talk about the artist and the function is not about government policies. You are free to talk about these policies on the right forum!” He is giving interviews and blaming the organisers for their censorship and high handedness.

There is a saying in Sanskrit, “येन केन प्रकारेण प्रसिध्द पुरुषो भवेत ”! This means that try and remain in public eye by hook or by crook! These “experts” become very much addicted to remaining in the public domain. They try and get some business or work out of their showmanship, but at some stage, their shallow knowledge gets exposed. Their changing the tune to suit the situation is proven many times. They do it only for their own benefit. Self comes before everything else.

Let me share with you an anecdote. In the early days of computers a personal computer was the norm. An “expert” had bought five computers. Someone like me asked him about the multitasking capabilities of the systems. Without blinking an eyelid, he said, “Oh, I have hired separate computer operators for each shift!”

WA & FB revisited!

For records purpose, FB started in 2004 and WA began to operate five years later in 2009. First, long-distance voice communication began in 1876 in the form of the telephone; I will not go into a dispute about who was the real inventor of the phone. Cell phones started appearing in mass scale in ’90 s of the last century. FB & WA are the apps that are used on laptops but mainly on cell phones. The rapid proliferation of Cell phones and WA in India has taken the whole world by surprise. No doubt this was aided by the development of keyboard apps in all the Indian languages. You don’t need to know English to use these two apps.

I am writing about the apps with Indian reference. A significant change that has taken place is, the short-term and long-term migration of Indians all over the globe. From my 1971 batch from COEP, almost thirty plus people have migrated. This is about 8 %, and to me this is phenomenal. Currently, the migration percentage has increased briskly; short-term migration is seen more as people go to different countries on assignments.

As both these apps are in use for the last ten to fifteen years, the etiquettes, the pattern of usage are continually evolving. WA says that they have created the app so that people can be in touch using an instant messaging system. They have definitely achieved this and more. Who uses WA and why do they use it? WA is used as a personal messenger, used in groups, by a large number of Indians. These groups are friends’ groups, family groups, formal office groups, alumni groups and so on. In individual usage what people do is their lookout. But on groups rules and etiquettes are a must. In one of the groups, I am in, “forwards” are not allowed. Before WA, forward meant centre forward in Hockey or Football. In India, the forwarding of messages on the group reached a menacing proportion. It was clearly proven in one case that by forwarding messages quickly, some people got together swiftly and cornered a person and killed him because he looked suspicious. Later on, it was found that he was a development engineer working with Google at Bangalore. A few friends were roaming around on the weekend in a rural area near Bangalore. There have been many cases of hoax messages, some vicious rumours were spread using WA forwards.

Let me assure you, not all WA is terrible. Some fantastic things have come up with WA. WA has started a language of its own. It uses short forms and emojis. I am not much of an emoji user, I know about 😊- a wry smile, 🤣- LOL or laughing out loud with tears in eyes, 👍- thumbs up,🙏- in India this is interpreted as Namaste but, in a foreign culture, it is interpreted as High Five, ✈- travelling👏- clapping. I have said about different interpretation of emojis; different interpretation can happen in two different persons too!

I hear that WA is the secret tool for lovebirds, both official as well as unofficial (secret lovers?)! Following emojis must be the language of lovebirds, but my knowledge in this subject is inadequate. 💋👄- Indicating kisses?💘- Lovestruck? 💏-?😘- flying kiss 😍- excited with passion?😡- disturbed?👩‍❤‍👩-?💔- heart-broken💓- love! In today’s digital times, it is no surprise that the language has also become digitised. NTT Docomo of Japan was the first company to start emojis on cell phones. These were created because the Japanese have a fascination for pictures.

Surprising results of WA use are many, I will share a couple with you. We have an alumni group of 1971 COEP engineering students. Some of us lived in the hostels, and our hostel block was known as C Top! (C block top floor) During some trifle discussion on the group somebody wrote a statement, “Long Live C Top”! This one statement drew such a response to the group that a lot of messages started flowing. Many became nostalgic and discussion continued on and on! You will not believe it, but this discussion went on one and a half day! That period was drenched in nostalgia! So many things were remembered, so many stunts, card games were discussed. I copied those discussions and created a pdf document for sharing with all. The document had about 20 pages! It was declared literature masterpiece. I recently read that a couple, who got newly married, had saved all their WA exchanges. Imagine the total number of messages! They were forty-nine thousand! These were copied, and maybe they want to print it as a love story! Wow, that will be a fascinating real-life love story, warts and all!  People spend about 2 to 3 hrs using these apps every day; this was one of the reasons for this review.

I am sure that the emoji exchange between lovers must be fascinating. Especially when the emojis can be interpreted differently. A person may interpret differently when happy as against interpretation when angry. Again two lovers may have a different understanding of their sets of emojis!

Facebook is another fascinating story in the digital saga. Nowadays, people look eye to eye for the first time on Facebook! Their love story starts with a meeting on FB. It is no surprise that it continues with the same fervour in later life too! The buzz word used for such a show of affection between lovers or couples is PDA- public display of affection! The couples shout early morning on anniversaries and birthdays, to show how they love their partner! They want the whole world to know about it. Oldies like me and many others are surprised with this kind of public show. But for those who have started their love story on FB, they don’t care what you feel! FB has its advantages. FB has allowed me to find many long lost friends. FB has allowed me to be in touch with my school, through alumni group. It’s a diverse group with ex-students from early ’50 s of last century to the early part of the first decade of this century. Today morning, I had a pleasant surprise! Darshan Ruikar, my son’s friend sent me a friend request out of the blue! He lives in England for the last 25 years! FB helps me to publish my blogs to a broad audience.

Both the apps when used correctly are a great addition to our tools for communicating with others. Both the apps offer free audio or video calls and even group calls. But the downside is the use of WA by political parties in India. With elections fast approaching, the parties are trying to overcome the “at a time forward to five entities” lock applied by WA. WA has already warned the parties that if parties continue the misuse, they will lock such id’s. Governments world over are also having some discomfort due to abuse by people of the group facility.

Babya

My friend Baba Gupte on Video call on WA. Inset Jaya and me!

I will share with you the excellent usage of the apps. A coincidence is that both these incidents took place with someone in Australia. My friend Baba Gupte and I have been in touch about his holiday photos and my blogs, while he is in Australia. I thought why not call him; I video chatted with him, and we saw each other after a reasonably long time. Baba was very pleased and said, “ Pramod, perfect use of WA”!

Another incident was when I landed in Melbourne in 2015. We had gone to watch the cricket world cup final. After we landed at Melbourne airport, I read a news item on the net that Harsha Bhogale, the cricket commentator, enjoyed a Marathi play, “Katkon Trikon” in Sydney. I could not find the date reference. My old friend and actor Dr Mohan Agashe has played the lead role in the drama. So I quickly wrote to Mohan on FB messenger, “Hey Mohan are you in Australia or have you gone back? Jaya and I have just landed.” In a minute, I got a call on FB messenger. I was wondering who it could be. It was Mohan! We chatted and exchanged pleasantries, discussed cricket and the drama. He was to travel back to India that night.

How dramatically useful such apps are, pun not intended when appropriately used. I am sure as the apps, and people mature, the people will find more ways to use the apps to their advantage. We already have our weekly video calls with my son Sachin in Seattle and my Son in law Nikhil in Montreal! The apps keep people close, and for everybody, there is always something to look forward to! Maybe another long lost friend will get in touch with you; perhaps an old colleague will be found or even the old flame…. There are possibilities!