Climb out of that hole!

Life is full of ups and downs both in personal and professional matters. The ups give us euphoria and joy. The downs on the other side make us sad, depressed and push our mood down a hole. It is for us to come out of that hole and it is doable. First and foremost is that our downs are because of errors, or misjudgement in what we do. We make errors of judgments, maybe wrong investments leading to a major loss; maybe we take up a job which we did not like. Such events are going put us in a situation where life looks sad and cynical. 

When this happens, we tend to linger on, and we keep on blaming ourselves, flogging ourselves for the errors. “To Err is Human” is an idiom which aptly fits situations in everybody’s life. We always keep on thinking about the missed possibilities, real and imaginary. We feel that if we had done things differently, we could have been better off financially and life would have been more rewarding. If such emotions are kept unchecked, the stress level in life goes up, we are not able to think prudently and are likely to make more errors. We dig ourselves a hole and are likely to remain there. 

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Such regrets, if nursed, can lead to depression and negativity. This could lead to binge eating, and one may drink more alcohol. We may react to persons and situations impulsively rather than giving a thought before responding. There are ways of coming out of such a hole; it will bring us back to a happy, healthy and meaningful life.  

Acceptance 

It is essential to accept what has happened. You should not ignore the event nor should you keep on thinking about it all the time. Take a pause, as we count ten or we deep breathe. When we are engrossed in self-criticism, we try to find quick fixes to the problem. Instead, think about our past regrets and try to remember how we found a solution at that time.  

Give a break to your negative thinking 

Sometimes it happens that we try to come out of the negative thought process, but it just does not work. Sometimes we are not able to break the spell of sleep from our system. Cold shower wakes you up. Try something similar. I remember an incident, which took place ages back. We were in Boston in a mall. Our grandson was very unhappy that my son suggested to him that instead of buying the same toy the second time, a new toy could be purchased in another shop. Our grandson started howling and throwing tantrums. My son picked him up, and we walked out of the mall. Our grandson was not wearing warm clothes, and a cold air blast hit him. He stopped the tantrums and said, “Can I get my jacket?” He quickly ate a snack and was back to his jovial self. After that, we went to ToysRus and got him the toy he wanted. Cold water shower is not a long term solution but will provide a break that can help you think more rationally to resolve the issues.  

Be soft on yourself 

When we have made an error, we tend to be very harsh in judging ourselves and keep on blaming ourselves. If we discuss the matter with a friend or a mentor, then she will listen to you compassionately and will try to explain the way forward. Will that person keep on harping about your errors? She will encourage you to be soft to yourself. Provide some compassion to yourself. With this attitude, we try to navigate towards a positive solution. This acceptance is a good beginning, and we learn to accept our regrets as a human failure. You know that there is nothing unusual in such a failure, it happens many times with others too! 

Try to understand yourself 

After you have gone through a situation, think about what you are looking for. Don’t keep on regretting about it. I will share an incident in my career. I was 28 years of age then. I had a meeting with my boss. He was quite tough and rough. He said a few nasty things to me as I had made some errors in the work. I left his cabin and thought about the incident. I was disturbed, but when I gave thought to the whole situation, I realised that my self respect was more important to me than my job. I went and met him again. Explained to him everything yet again. I told him, “Sir if you want, I will resign and walk out. Scolding me for errors and correcting them is  your job. But I expect you to ensure that you do not repeat such nasty things with me again.” He stared at me for a minute and then said, “How about some coffee?” I could resolve my problem because I was clear in my mind what I wanted more! I felt regret because my self-respect was hurt and to me, that was more important than keeping the job!  

Act 

All the process of handling the regrets and correcting errors will work only when we finally act upon it.  

Make a list of such issues large and small, then think yourself or with your friend or your spouse, exactly how to take steps to correct whatever is troubling you. The problems do not get resolved by feeling lousy or overthinking and brooding about it. It’s thoughtfully following up the solutions that helps us. Retrospection is the key to address such situations. Our vision in retrospection is always 20:20, and we look at things with more wisdom. So retrospect with a cool mind.

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Wikipedia has defined Kintsugi as follows. 

Kintsugi (金継ぎ, “golden joinery”), also known as Kintsukuroi (金繕い, “golden repair”), is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. 

As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. 

In our lives sometimes the dreams are broken, and at other times hearts are broken. We should use Kintsugi to repair our broken dreams.  The dream could be of taking higher education, getting an elite job in government. Heartbreak is, of course, heartbreak. But we need to come out of that hole into which we crawl into after failing to achieve what we wanted. The broken dreams could be repaired, and you might end up doing business. Sometimes the seams of the stitched dreams could be visible, but it is better to come out of the situation, a bit bruised instead of remaining hidden.

Use the principle of Kinstsugi! Face the world! Let repair seams be seen. The world does not have many regrets about what has happened in your life. It is too busy in its own errors and achievements. Making errors is not something to be hidden from others. All have their own quota of mistakes, only we do not about know about them.  So just do it, openly!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why, why, why why?

I know that every why, has no reply, but this question still comes to mind! Some years back, my grandson Suyash had come to Pune, he lives in Seattle. We were chatting in our balcony. He asked me, “Aba, why many of the buildings around us are not painted? Are these very old buildings?” Well, the buildings around us were not very old, these were definitely not dilapidated buildings! They were not more than 15 years old! For fixed assets like condos, or bungalows care has to be taken to maintain them properly. Each property has its own design, the exteriors get spoiled due to rains and heat combination. If you visit these condos from inside, the homes are generally well kept and some are really fancy. People are just not bothered how the outer walls look.  

These are mostly middle class and upper middle-class properties. The income levels are decent, these folks work in offices which are reasonably well maintained. They have their vehicles which are maintained in a reasonably good condition. Then why the apathy towards the exterior? To me this is the last mile concept. We as a society are least bothered about the last mile of everything.  

You look at the roads, the bridges, the infrastructure in general. These are always poorly maintained, at least in some areas. Every year we read the stories of corporations missing their deadlines for cleaning gutters before monsoons! Rains in India are seasonal and generally fall during a specific period. Gutters get filled with muck, leaves and what not, all through the year. In Maharashtra, end of the first week of June is the time for the rains to start. So, our friends should be ready with cleaning by end of May. It is not rocket science. But are we ready? Never. Same story is published every year. First rains in any city causes havoc! There is water logging, flooding, power outages, trees falling! The things which are in our control should be done but they are completed only 95%! Last mile concept? Or who cares concept? Why do we not challenge the authorities as a society? Simple, because we never do these things in our own lives, we are poor in implementing last mile solution.  

We strongly talk about our heritage, our history; we sing songs like मेरे देश की धरती! My great country where streets were paved with Gold, where we saw diamonds and pearls spread on road sides! I have shown above pictures of “Gold, Diamonds and Pearls” spread on our roads. In olden days when everybody lived in villages, there was no concrete, we had plain soil everywhere. Cleaning homes was very simple. You clean your home and push all the dust into adjoining soil. In those days there were no plastics, there was no biodegradable stuff! Dust to dust to Soil! But we are so proud of our heritage that we continue to follow the same practice even today.  

We clean our homes and throw things out of balconies! We water our pots in the balcony and water falls on the cleaned cars every day, as some idiots park them below the balcony. Area below the balcony is the official trash can to throw stuff, pour water indiscriminately. In fact, I come to know every day what my friends staying above us, feed their dog on that day! It can be bread or rice and of course meat once in a while. The pieces fall on my car every day. The title of the blog shows my frustration! Mind you, the condos where I live are high rise modern apartments and are very expensive.  

But money has nothing to do with this last mile concept. Forty years back we lived in an apartment where we had a watchman who lived with his family. They were financially poor. We used to give them, besides the salary, all seconds from our home. Curtains, bed sheets and sometimes food which we could not consume fully. In fact, Jaya used make additional food many times, just to give to them. I still remember their small dwelling. It was a replica of our home as all the things were handed over to them by us. (It is not the story about what we did for them in those days.) Their home used to be spic and span, well-kept and properly maintained. When once asked, the lady said when we have an example in front of us, how can we not follow it?

Just a side story! This family was of two brothers. One child of each of them has become an engineer and currently working in IT industry! It is the will to do well, excel in whatever you do, to keep your surroundings clean, it is will to be part of solution and not a part of the problem, that endures you through the tough times of the last mile. In the game of cricket, it is the ability of crossing the invisible line to score a century, that differentiates the best from the good. It is the strong will to do well, that takes you forward.  

In Mumbai, when many flyovers were built, the situation was bad. Diversion road quality was poor. Let me assure you all these things are doable. When flyovers and Metro were under construction in Delhi, the diversions created were as smooth as the original roads.  In Mumbai there are low lying areas; when it rains, the water logging is bad due to topography. But corporation has installed high capacity pumps, permanently.      

How can one like to live in shabby buildings? There a couple of reasons for this. When there is a group of people living together, there will always be someone who will bother only about money or it is possible that some of them will have financial difficulties. But both these obstacles need to be overcome and can be overcome. It is the will to do it! It is your home after all!  When we water the plants in balcony, we don’t bother if water is carrying the mud with it, on the outside walls of the balcony. Expense for painting a building from outside every 7/ 8 years is not prohibitive.

Similarly, about city infrastructure, it is your own city. We elect representatives to handle the administration. Do they treat it as their own city? Or they are interested only in plundering the resources? Are they proud of their home? I have seen these representatives providing benches for people to rest. These are stainless steel benches, very nicely made. There are bus stops which are nicely designed but do we have buses to match quality of the bus stops? Do we have the discipline in keeping the fleet running? Last mile for the bus system is maintenance of buses and cleanliness of buses. The quality is terrible. 

Friends, in the Hindi Film “Munnabhai MBBS”, the hero sees a sweeper in a hospital sweeping the floor. Hero tells him, “Sir, you are doing an excellent job and you are making all of us proud, please keep doing it”. There are tears of joy in the eyes of the sweeper! Nobody had ever told him this. But when it is our own home, our own city, is there a need to be told by someone? Every day, we bathe and comb to make ourselves presentable, every day we have someone to clean our homes from inside. But how can we forget outside? How can roads, bridges remain in poor state in our own city? Let’s all join hands make it happen! Cheers!  

 

 

False Pride 2!

In my blog False Pride 1, I had mainly written about attitude and behavior of the people. One of the most important aspects in Indian ethos, is that many old practices and traditions have continued. We have songs, poems and writings about clean and beautiful rivers with lovely birds; we have sayings like “cleanliness is godliness”. But this is one area where we have failed miserably.

                                          जहॉं डाल डाल पर सोने की चिडिया करती हैं बसेरा, वह भारत देश हैं मेरा।

Roughly translated, the song praises India, “The place where Golden Sparrows live happily on trees, this is my great Country, Bharat!” The song also says we are peace loving and truthful, disciplined people. Sometime back a satellite was sent in space and was given the work of checking on our great Bharat! They got many high-resolution pictures. And lo what did they find? All the scientists were flabbergasted while studying the photos. The photos were taken by special laser and X ray vision.

All over India they saw bits of paper lying all over and flying in the wind, of course Kachra! All over India they also found a lot of chits of paper neatly bound and stored. They thought that Indians love cookies and as they analysed the data further, they were surprised that cookies were metallic as well as paper cookies! When this data was given to Indian Government, they found that it is hoarded money and gold!

We as a society are proud of our culture but en masse we break rules, we cheat. It all starts with our daily routine. It is about morning ablutions. Even in the year 2018, our government is still required to run advertisement informing the importance having toilets inside homes. In olden times, as there were no pucca homes, using places a bit away from home was natural, though a bit risky. This practice continues even today; in certain parts of India it is macho to say that we have toilets in home but we still go in the field. It is so manly!  But what about women folk?

Our holiest of the river is the river Ganga. It is said that if we take a bath in the river we will be purified of all our sins. Maybe it is possible, I have never had a  bath in the Ganga but I am told that it is very dirty. Many towns, cities dump their drainage directly into Ganga, the tanneries dump their waste in it. Even today the dead bodies are dumped in the river with a belief that the person will go directly to heaven, due to this final holy dip! Successive governments are allocating large funds to clean Ganga but the problem is unresolved due to unclean minds of the people.

Pune, the city where I live, has a pair of rivers called Mula/Mutha. We have the same problem of drainage going in the river without treatment, by design; corporation has not built many sewage treatment plants.  The river Mutha is so small that the water that generally flows, is drainage water. While doing survey of the river bed, while designing the path for Metro, the team leader during the visit asked, “Where is the river”? The municipal corporation shows total apathy, people also add to this apathy. The building and road construction people, dump their rubble in the river bed. There is no check on them, they are never caught even though this is done openly. While driving on any bridge on the river, we see people throw the old flowers and pooja material  in the river. It is supposed to be the correct thing to do so, as per traditions.

Then of course, we have mass looting of sand from rivers, ores from mines mafia. We have sandalwood loot from jungles. There are people who steal electricity en mass. People in certain areas just don’t pay electricity charges; when authorities come to cut their power, they are beaten and forced to go away. I read in today’s newspaper that for high school 12th grade exam in UP, 1 million examinees just did not turn up. The reason? Government has taken strict measures to ensure that the education mafia is checked. Proxy candidates appearing for exams was the norm, hence the absenteeism, now. In Marathwada region of Maharashtra, some years back it was suddenly seen that students became brilliant, their pass % almost reached 90% plus. This was simply due to lax supervision. Once government ensured that district collector was personally responsible they had to make sure that there were no malpractices;  result % of pass students went below 40%.

You go to any major city in India. Vehicles are parked in no parking areas or on footpaths in droves. Signals are similarly jumped en masse. Once the traffic policemen go home in the evening, the traffic boards of “One Way, No Parking, Even/odd date parking” exist just for the name sake. Two wheelers are meant to carry two people, we ride 3/4 at a time! Helmets are mandatory for two wheelers, majority simply don’t follow the law. We see auto rikshas ferrying 12/15 children for school, when the official capacity is 3!

Where is this leading? How to prevent this? Who are the people breaking law? It’s you and me! It is rich and the poor! It is people from city and villages! It is educated and un educated people!  All break various laws en masse! Many of us are proud of breaking laws. We sing paeans of our heritage, our culture, our traditions! These traditions came into being when people lived in smaller places, villages; there was no population pressure. Why old disciplined culture from villages not transferred to large cities? In fact, this same lack of culture from cities is now going back to smaller places. Probably, in olden times, people respected, each other, helped each other because most knew each other. In the anonymous culture of large cities, people just don’t seem to care or bother about others. But again, some of our brethren who live in foreign countries, merge seamlessly with local culture where they normally live; once they are back in India, they are back to their normal Indian behavior. Does this mean that they behave differently in foreign countries not by choice but because they are forced to so?

We have a great culture, which goes back to thousands of years. We have great traditions. I am not able to understand why these changes have happened in our mass behavior in cities as well as in villages; the foreigners politely say, ” Oh, India is a different country!” What is the way out of this? How to coax masses to behave in orderly disciplined way? How to make people understand that cheating in every thing is not the correct way? People say that this should start from school level. But we read of big scams where teachers never go to schools, to get the grants, higher number of students are shown on the roll! Teachers take the profession because many of them are not good enough to do anything else. There are institutions who do not pay the salaries to teachers for months together.

I will tell you story of my cousin. He is a PhD from IIT, Kanpur. After retirement from industry,  he taught his subject in one of the engineering colleges. Then he wanted to move to another city. His college offered him to stay on their payroll. Well they needed a good PhD. They offered him Rs. 1,00,000/ salary per month! So where is the catch? The management told him that they will withdraw Rs. 80,000/ every month using ATM card. He did not join back!

I am not a pessimist! But these are some problems for which I do not see any solution in near future. Do you?  What is it that we are proud of? My beautiful, lovely India is only in songs!