I am humbled!

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Friends are going to call me and ask why I have used antonyms in the title. Most friends will pull my leg and tell me that the words Pramod and humble don’t go together. But I am sincerely humbled. I started as a tottering blogger somehow managing to write  400word blogs; what I wrote in those days and what write today are both called blogs! A captive audience of Jaya, Sachin and Priya encouraged me, initially! They would give me a star once in a while, as I was in KG stage of blog writing!  

During a dinner last evening with my college mates, a friend asked me, “You were never a literary type, how did you end up being a serious blogger?” I started thinking about my journey and how I ended up writing. We never know where we are going to end up in life, about the place where we finally settle down, what career is one going to choose, whom we would marry and so on. For my preengineering years, I was in Mumbai’s Elphinstone college. I stayed at the hostel with my dear friend Sharad. One day we just decided that we will move to COEP in Pune. The reason why did this is unknown but it is possible that we thought hostels in Mumbai and Pune would be the same, so why not! In plain English, we still do not know the reason.  

Our stay in hostels changed our view of looking at life. We learnt to absorb shocks while living, without any fuss. One night a friend slipped from the roof of the building and died; he was a stargazer. We had no option but to absorb that shock; we would show brave face as if nothing had happened. After a few months, there was an earthquake which shook the building, literally. Again, we handled this event as if nothing had happened. But we were shocked from inside. Someone or the other would always be short of funds at the month end. Others would ensure that he never felt the pinch. But all were vicious against those who were nasty and would cheat on others to save the money. Some did well in exams, and some did not. Friends and partners were always there to discuss and support while facing tough times. In most cases, we did not even know anything about the background of others; they were simply friends. The hostel has given me life-long friends, and I cannot write the names as the list in real loooong! Along with Sharad, Nayan was my room mate! 

Our stay at the hostels changed the horizon and gave us a different way of looking at life. The similar change I had felt when I moved to live on the 7th floor condo a few years ago. Before this, all our homes were on the ground floor. I had apprehensions about how I would feel by not being “grounded”! But then I don’t know when the perception changed into a broader (and taller) way of looking at life. When we moved to the 7thfloor apartment, I was taking cancer treatment. In the initial phase of the treatment and posttreatment, we had time on hand to sit in the balcony to observe the rolling hills, flying birds and movement of people and vehicles in the small bylane that was visible from the balcony! Jaya had retired just before my treatment started, but did not get even a few minutes of retired life; my granddaughter and I kept her very busy. But when we started sitting in the balcony for tea or chit-chat, we realised that unless we changed our thinking and took a new approach, our vision remained constant. By changing the fundamental approach to thinking, we look at life differently, it provides us a different perspective.   

I found my bearings with the blog “Dance of Civilisation”! It gave me confidence that I could write more and was not feeling intimidated by the thought of writing and publishing. This process of writing and publishing gave me pleasure, and it was enhanced by your comments, phones, WA messages and analysis. Recently people utterly unknown to me have become followers of the blogs. 

Friends, I am honoured by receiving comments from you on my blogs. Vijay gives his thoughts on most of my blogs and shares his thoughts. Vijay has almost become a blogger now and writes long comments and his opinions on what I write. Another friend Pradeep started reading my blogs a couple of months back, and he has read most of them. One great thing about Pradeep is that he does not mince words when he shares his opinions. Pradeep lives in the US and shares with me his views based on his stay in the US for the last 45 years. Some insights that he shares are the result of his extended stay in the US and his analytical mind.  

One comment which I liked the most is by a friend. He minced no words and declared, “You have started thinking that you are an expert in every field, but to me, it is pseudo expertise!” The comment made me think about the way I write. But on the same blog, another friend who met me for breakfast said, “You don’t write like an engineer and keep things very vague.” I told him, “I try to explain two sides of the same subject instead of stressing my viewpoint only.” Such conflicting comments confuse me. A friend is saying that I am a pseudo and I give my strong opinions without considering the other side; whereas the other friend blamed me for being too mild and not writing specifically what I want to say.  

To become a better writer, I have bought software that checks grammar and gives me suggestions and shows my errors. Similarly, I need to locate a software which will analyse the different comments and show me the way forward. One thing is confirmed that people think and talk about the same thing differently. It is like five blind men describing an elephant. The experience has also taught me that people comment about the content and not the way I write.  

In future, I am hoping to take formal training with online courses about creative writing and become a better writer. But the question is better than whom or better than what? As long as I am happy with the way I write, it is ok with me. But please don’t misunderstand. I am not claiming that I am the best blogger in town. I would rate myself as slightly below average on certain days and somewhat above average on a few days. Where would you rate me? 

Thanks a million! I have reached a milestone of the 400th blog which I had never imagined I would!  

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Musafir Hoon Yaaro!

This is a beautiful song sung by Kishor Kumar from the Movie Parichay released in the year 1972. The song depicts a wanderer who says, friends “I am a wanderer, I have no home and I have no fixed whereabouts! So I keep moving from place to place.” Human life also can be described as that of a wanderer, we keep on moving through different stations in life, we keep on meeting different people in life! Our destination is defined by the destiny but our path is unknown to us!

Thoughts about relationships came to my mind when I spoke to my old friend Naresh, maybe after a gap of  six to eight  months. Naresh used to live in Pune, most of his career, and we hit it off from day one! It was Naresh’s birthday yesterday when we spoke and he was abroad! We started chatting and there was really no end to it. After a long chat, he said that he will call me when he comes back to Gurgaon, where he now lives. He said that since most of his prime years were spent in Pune, he has remained a Punekar! In those days he would come to my office for a cuppa at least once in a month, and we would chat and chat about all subjects on the Tera Firma! Relationships form, they continue, but they also change and wither over a  period, in most cases! This reminds me of a Sanskrit saying which is a very pragmatic way of looking at life.

 “यथा काष्टम काष्टम

The meaning of this saying is that, in the sea, wooden logs bump into each other, stay together for some time and in most cases go away from each other, never to bump into each other again. Same is the story of our lives! In our lives we meet so many people, in school, college, work and on personal level. We get to meet some new people through marriages that take place in the family. We meet people during travel. If we take a review of people we have met, a very small percentage continues to be in touch infrequently or frequently in a few cases. In some cases, though the contact is infrequent, relations remain warm as if we have been meeting regularly.

Of course, the life long friend who can be your THE friend is your spouse. This also is part of destiny. My move from Mumbai to Pune for engineering education was a major part of destiny as I met Jaya in Pune, at the college. I simply continued to live in Pune. Rest as they say is history. With such a strong main base of relationship, life’s complexities  become so much easier to handle.

It is pure destiny that I met Naresh! But there are people who have touched your life in more than one way. Some of them are not in this world but I am lucky that many are still around. The first such friend  I remember was a friend called Ranganekar. I was in 11th grade. During summer holidays I used to go to him a couple of times a week, he used to stay  far from my home. He was to go to his native place, and we said bye for the time being. I went to that area to meet other friends after a few days. I was shocked to know that on the same evening when we said bye, he had died in an accident while crossing a road! That was my first shock in life and it took me some time to overcome the grief, he was such a good chirpy friend!

For natural reasons, I am not going to share the names of friends, who are still around, as I share my journey with friends. A friend Dilip was my Mumbai friend, partner in all crimes when we were in adolescence. We stayed in same building and would play all games together. I was slightly better than him in sports, in studies we were equally naughty! Our relationship continued till he died at the age of around 50 plus. Final ten years, unfortunately our communication was infrequent and I still regret the same. Another Dilip was from Pune; we became very close while we worked together for some years. We always took work seriously but never took ourselves seriously. We used to eat each others food many times at office! We were in touch till he died, regularly though infrequently. I had spoken to him a few days before he died; luckily that day was his birthday when I spoke. Dilip was always smiling and his laughter was booming! Dilpya, I miss you man!

My first friend that I remember, was from time when we were in pre KG. We reunited in school and continued together in college. Later he moved to the US and continues to live there. Whenever I contact him he responds but unfortunately he never does it on his own. He was an introvert anyway! Another friend is really a masterstroke of destiny. We were in same batch at engineering college but had never met before. First time I met him was four years back and now we have become life time friends. Last one is of course, my brother, my critic, my Jigri dost. We must have a chat session at least once in a week, minimum. Why we were not in touch with each other since college days, only God can say! But we are making up for the lost time.

Six years of my college I lived in hostels! The stay in hostel creates a special bond. With some friends I have been in touch right through my life. When we meet, we start talking as if we had met on the previous day. Some of the hostel friends I met after 45 years, but again we felt as if there was never a break. Now we all regret how much we have missed while “living” life!

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Our life is like the  railway system. We catch  a train to a destination. We meet the people on the that journey, but there are unplanned stations in between. There are complex track changes too, as shown in the photo graph above. Situation in life sometimes forces us to get down at stations on the way, and then we change tracks. What journey we will take with whom, is decided by destiny and nurturing of relationship from both sides. In some cases, it so happens that the journey together continues for long, long years, like meeting every day on local trains of Mumbai. But here it so happens that the co passenger takes a fast train and you may end up taking a slow train.

Mind you, we know when the train is changing the track; we also have an inkling that the train is passing by, we hear the whistle of the train passing you, as heard in the video above. Things are changing but in busy life sometimes people miss the indication given by the whistle. Hurtling fast train is the epitome of the journey called life! People start getting more comfortable on the new path; maybe its inevitable to leave the monotony of Mumbai local trains. It’s natural that people change path and the destination!

Even in the days of great social media revolution like FB, WA the work overload does not leave enough time for the passenger on the fast trains to connect with passengers left behind, their speeds simply don’t match. The photo of the track changing mechanism indicates that there are many such different paths available and in real life they are infinite!  Chances of connecting with each other become remote. But memories still remain like I said in my previous blog!  But don’t forget the lyrics and keep moving, that my friends is nature!

 मुसफ़िर हूं मै यारो

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