Learn or Perish!

The difference between humans and their ancestors is a tricky subject to deal with. Yes, we share ancestors with monkeys; we share ancestors with every living thing. But, also, to be clear: We did evolve from monkeys.  There have been different claims as to who our ancestors were. Though I have mentioned about the differences, I want to compare ancestor’s life and our life today, irrespective of who our ancestors were.

Most important difference is the concept of families and ownership. Even in humans this concept started only ten thousand years back, when humans learnt farming! Farming ensured that they changed their nomadic ways and started building more permanent dwellings which later became homes. This started a concept of ownership, then they started “owning” their women so the society started “knowing” who was the father of any child. This was a major evolution in human thought process compared to thinking of their ancestor. Still some of the basic things hardly changed, the life expectancy did not increase much. The increase in average life span is the story of 20th century; first half of 20th century this increase was in the developed nations and second half of the century, in the developing nations. Now in India the average life expectancy has reached a level of 65/70 years.

What is the effect of these changes? In olden times people almost never “saw” their grandchildren as most of the people died before the grandchildren were born. In the case of our ancestors, they did not even “know” who their children were, so the question about grandchildren never came in to picture. With ownership & family, concept of selfless love also started coming into picture. Humans with evolved brain and thought process started thinking differently than the ancestors. Ownership brought the thoughts of savings for future, owning a home, second home then… humans thought in terms of buying assets, storing things for a rainy day.

With ownership of farm land, selfless love was displayed while cultivating farm produce, fruit bearing trees and flower beds. People looked after them tenderly. Some of the large trees have lives longer than human lives, so these trees were passed on from generation to generation. Such trees went on to create local folklore. This thinking was never there with our ancestors because of low life expectancy. I am not an expert in this field but I draw this conclusion from the fact that our ancestors never settled and almost never saw their grandchildren.

There is a major difference between human progeny on one side, and the trees and flower beds planted by humans. In the first case, their birth just happens but in the second case these are specifically planted by humans. But look at the irony. Both are tended equally tenderly, looked after till they become self-sustaining. But the farm produce and fruits are cut and used for eating, tree branches are used for making furniture and for building homes. Whereas the progeny is supported till they are strong enough to be on their own and they are trained to take their own decisions about their lives. Especially after marriage, their own family and children, next generation becomes more and more independent. Humans are happy to see them go ahead in life. Humans keep on loving them life long!

The utility and work of trees, flowers and produce is over when we utilize them but in case of progeny they become more precious to us as they grow and succeed in this world. In both cases, we remember their babyhood, their childhood, their adolescence, their youth!  The longevity helps us to see the growth path of the progeny. In both cases the selfless love  creates many beautiful memories in our mind!

Trees, farm produce, and flowers teach us one thing. They are useful to us but we learn to stay away from falling in love with them as we know that when their work is over, they will part with us. For humans, this is a new thought process about their progeny.  For these reasons they were hardly trained, mentally,  for Old Age or Vanprasthashrama! There was never much need for geriatric medicine, this specialty simply did not exist. From what I have heard about olden days, old people simply hung around in a corner of the house and withered one day.

Is longevity bane or boon? This is being discussed in the society. In olden days, average humans simply died before reaching the stage of having grandchildren, they did not live long so there was never any requirement to save money for post-retirement life. Longevity with shortage of funds is a definite no, no! Is it a curse to human race and to the families? Longevity with money in the bank is ok. But there is a need for training programs to teach old people to look at the progeny, the way humans look at trees and flowers; limit yourself from their lives and go on with your own lives. Enter Vanprasthashrama, in the real sense as far as next generation is concerned. In Vanprasthashrama, our shastras say that we can travel! We should travel to our own destinations in life!

In the beginning of 20th century, concept of migration started, in a bigger way. Before that people moved to different countries to conquer and loot. British, French, Portuguese colonies are typical examples of migration backed by officialdom. 20th century migration is individual migration and is happening all over the world.  With children staying in different cities, states and countries, their extremely busy life style, their own families growing, humans need to train themselves to interact with the progeny when progeny has time. They need to train themselves to meet their progeny, at their convenience. Humans have to learn that they are not in the immediate circle of the progeny!

Humans have learned to deal with the issue of selfless love in case of trees and flowers; and they also know at what stage to withdraw and let go. Humans have to learn the same about progeny.  We may not be aware but the someone may already have developed a computer program to handle this, we only need to download it in our mind and start using it asap. We don’t need Artificial Intelligence (AI) for this, we are intelligent enough to know the right time to do it!

Go with the nature!

Days are longer in summer and shorter in winter. There are scientific reasons for that. Similarly, waxing and waning of the Moon follow the laws of nature. Except for humans, all the living things follow natures laws, religiously. Why humans behave differently? Simply because we are brainy! Are we?

Human kids and their pets like dogs follow the nature. Example is eating habits. A child simply refuses to eat more food than it needs. If their indulgent mothers try to force them to eat or drink something more, they will simply vomit. Have you seen a dog overeating? Have you ever seen an obese dog?

There is a lovely little Marathi song for kids “Chimnu tai chya pila”. In the song the kid is asking the baby sparrow,  “How do we find the roads in the sky? Are their white markings, Red, Yellow, Green signals up there?  Should a kid lose the way, are there any policemen who will help them find the way back home? Do policemen provide kids with biscuits till someone comes to pick them up?”

Wow! What a song? So much meaning to it! The kid asks the baby sparrow only with references known to him, the white lines/policeman/signals and so on! But I always have been fascinated by the bird species that traverse certain path daily, regularly and religiously! This they do it to gather food for themselves and their babies; they also collect building material for their nests, when required. How do they handle this? They must be having very advanced radar and eyesight! They must be having a perfect body clock which guides them to start their day at a certain time with respect to sunrise & sunset! Birds never go out for all night parties! Every day, from my seventh-floor window, I see flocks of birds flying away for their daily chores, around sunrise and return back around sunset! In winter, as the days become shorter the morning times are a few minutes later every day and evening time is a few minutes earlier every day! How do they handle this when the Sun is not visible?

What will happen if humans follow the routine of the birds? I am very much aware that we have different time tables and don’t go by nature’s clock. There are practical limitations. But we humans flog our “intelligence” so much that we don’t follow even twenty % of what nature suggests! Have we heard of any birds who have stored so much food that they don’t have to go out in monsoon? Within the limitation of our life style, we should try to follow as many nature’s laws as possible!

We hear many stories of sleep deficit, insomnia, sleep disorders! Some of the people, may have illnesses, which cause these issues; but again, our fancy life style of partying, drinks, late nights start these issues. Once these issues cross the limits, sleep related issues start. Studies about sleeping patterns of Polar Bears makes a fascinating study. Scientists tagged about 30 polar bears in Northern part of Canada. They wanted to see how Polar bears handle their hibernation. (Polar bear Hibernation is a state of inactivity and metabolic depression in animals capable of generating their own heat) As the known time for going into hibernation came closer, volunteers started tracking bears physically. All 30 bears were looking for their nook for hibernation. To surprise of all when the hibernation start timings for all 30 bears were compared, they all went into hibernation exactly at the same time. Nature? Humans can at least learn that you have your flings and swings but don’t overdo them, otherwise our body reacts in such a way that different issues can start affecting our quality of life.

Migration of Birds in winter is another discipline that humans cannot follow due to practical difficulties. Lately, humans have also started this activity; our retired brethren who have settled in cooler climes, come back home during winter for 2/3 months. The radar and GPS within the birds works perfectly and I fear that Googles of this world have developed GPS, studying the birds! But can we humans not accept the discipline part of the winter migration? When “dumb” birds can do it can we “smart” humans not achieve this discipline?

Emotion is a trait very distinctly displayed by humans. I am sure that other species also have emotions but I am not sure how much they use the emotions. Human baby goes out of the “nest” at age of 20/22! Whereas in other species this phenomenon occurs much earlier. If we do comparisons using life spans, human “baby” spends ¼ of the life in parent’s home. Whereas in other species it is much smaller. This may be one area where humans are better over other species! This I think is because humans have come out of “survival of the fittest” law!

What can we learn from other species and laws of nature? A lot! We are already doing it. In science, this usage is much higher than in our personal behaviour. The airplane landing follows same flight path like the bird landings. Boats take their design from fish! Car maneuvers are based on Chitah running! Of course, Chitah looks more elegant! We build great homes but we are not able to use the simple tools available to us, like the beak and two legs, used by birds to build their complex nests!

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Humans are way ahead other species because of their intelligence but could have a much quality of life if they try to go closer to nature, by following more and more things suggested by nature, in personal life; these are already adopted by birds and the beasts. Many of these adaptations, will reduce a lot of common setbacks in life like obesity, sleep issues, social issues. See the photo of pelicans below, where there is no fight between them when fish is fed to a group of pelicans. So, get to know your Bees and Birds better, and follow them in other personal areas of life too! ( For records, Pelican photos were taken by me during our Australian sojourn)

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Anatomy of group behavior 

A mischief of mice, A Barren of Mules, A leap of Leopards are the strange names given to groups of some mammals. We humans have also been living in groups for a very long time. So, forming a group for cohabitation is nothing new to us. Only thing strange in human groups is the behavior of humans.

In pre-agriculture days we were all nomads and kept moving as and when required or needed by situation, like other mammals. There was no ownership concept including spouses and children. Children were “owned” by mothers because father’s identity could have been difficult to prove. Survival of the fittest law was used to prove “ownership” of the lady! As there was no concept ownership, bickering and disputes must have been much less compared to today. Main fights would be about the lady and the food. The fights have reduced today, comparatively, due to rules of the society and general abundance of food.

Ownership concept started bringing in rules which were formed and stabilized over a period. Different ways of meeting each other have been devised like clubs for playing cards, billiards. Rotary clubs came into being. All have their own rules, regulations and etiquettes. Then there are special groups by profession and trade. All these groups have one thing in common; they physically meet once in a week or once in a fortnight or whatever was thought suitable.

But during last few years new type of groups, which are virtual, have started, the WhatsApp groups. Formation of these groups has been similar to groups mentioned above with one difference. People meet each other less frequently and in some cases, they almost never meet. Such groups are alumni groups, organization groups and so on. I am a member of couple of groups of people who were in school or colleges, years back. Technology has brought them together.

In the groups which meet physically often, one gets to know each other where people see gestures, expressions on face and those in the eye.  Intonation of sound also plays an important role in knowing each other, better. In case of WhatsApp groups, physical meetings are infrequent, all “talk” is mostly in writing; somehow people have apprehensions in talking to each other on cell phones. Another important aspect is that in case alumni, people are meeting each other after 30 to 45 years. We forget that people do change during such a long period. They try to interact with each other as if they were still in college. With some close friends this maybe ok but not with all. In many cases people live in different cities or countries; even in Mumbai one could be in Kalyan and other could be in Virar. With this difficulty, it takes time to reach the closeness that was there in olden days. Something that we write may sound quite different when spoken face to face. Anonymity is also an issue as all are behind a screen, this case a small screen. This lead to different behaviour.

Etiquettes for WhatsApp groups are still evolving. Slowly it looks like people are reaching an agreement with the idea of avoiding religious, political discussions for obvious reasons. Main issue that many groups face is “forwards”. This is a new phenomena in communication. If the group size is upto 20/25, forwards maybe manageable. But I am in a group where there are about 150 members. Imagine, all 150-people sending one forward every day. There will be 150 forwards and comments thereon. The clutter it will create is unimaginable. During the efforts to prevent forwards in this group, there was so much fight and bad blood, it is unbelievable.

Then there are some people who are trying to push their agenda. Somebody is interested in problems related buffaloes, some are very keen proponents of palmistry, some want to forward some unproven remedies which will cure all the diseases in the world! Luckily nobody has sent some remedy which make alive a dead person! If group has common interest in buffaloes, by all means send such things, same thing about other subjects. But not otherwise! We should be working with lowest common denominator.

People simply don’t understand the concept of clutter. We declare birthdays of people from the group, on previous evening. We took almost two weeks to make people understand how sending wishes to individual id, instead of sending on the group avoids clutter. Similarly, achievements of members and their family members are shared on the group. It was suggested that same as birthday wishes, congratulatory messages may be sent to individual id’s. One friend is opposed to it. Not only that, he quit the group.

This is something not understood by me. Average age in our group is 68/69. Quitting the group is simply beyond me to understand. Disagreements should be treated just like disagreements and nothing else! It is simply a different view point from matured persons. Things discussed are so mundane, how can there be serious difference? We are lucky that we could come together after so many years. Is it worth quitting for mundane reasons? My logic says, quitting is not an option!

Some psychologists say that after the age of 65 maybe our thought process and behaviour supposedly becomes childlike. I remember a small incident about my grandchild Suyash, who then was 4 to 5 years old. He had become excited and crossed the limit of naughtiness. My son Sachin said, “Suyash waaa!”. This was an indication that Sachin was unhappy. Suyash ran upstairs and sat at the top of the stairs with head in his hand. Sachin and me were smiling and watching him from the dining table below. After a few minutes, Suyash said, “Dad, do you think you are sorry for saying Waaa to me?” Sachin said, “Yes, beta come to me”! Suyash ran down and gave a hug to his dad! Psychologists seem to have judged correctly or is it the usual culprit the EGO! C U! 🍺🍺🍺🍺🍺 in WhatsApp lingo!

Life’s Indexes !

The other day after I woke up, I sat in our balcony enjoying lovely weather. I was wondering what kind of life I have lived. I came to a conclusion that I have lived a reasonably happy contented life. I was wondering why do I think the way I am thinking. Life’s journey starts with birth and ends with the death. The quality of life that we live, depends on the value of various indices in our lives. What is the Life’s index ?  

Life’s index is my term and  I thought why not define my own indices in life? I am grading them 0 to 6, from worst to the best. I have chosen the scale of 0 to 6 because I have chosen six indices. Total of 30 will be the best and –6 will be the worst because while adding I am going to deduct sadness index!  It is equally important to give different weightage to each index according to my judgment how important each index is! I am not going into a complex weighted average based formula, as I don’t want this blog to be mathematical treaties! These indices depend on good things, bad things, exciting things and boring things that happen during the journey of life. The whole journey ultimately depends on sum total of various values that can be assigned to indices. Some of these indices are not in our control and some are in our control. We can “handle” those in our control and we have to “manage” those which are not in our control. I think that the way we feel, is a combination of various factors. In our lives, only one event or one person does not decide the feeling of fulfillment.  

Which are these indices? Happiness, Gratitude, Humility, Attitude, Sadness and Empathy are the indices that we will consider; there are many more indices that we can look into. But we will consider only these indices. It is not the index value in our life that is important, but index values in lives of others from our ecosystem, are equally important. Happiness and Sadness are two indices that are dependent on the ecosystem. If a person is sad because of ill health, the spouse also will be sad. Similarly happiness is also a shared index. But other four indices are totally independent of environment, you and only you are responsible for the performance of these indices.

Let us start with happiness! Happiness and Sadness complement each, so I thought it will be a good idea to club them together. Happiness index and Sadness index directly decide our good life, when Happiness index is a plus sum game! But happiness does not really depend on any specific thing or event because it is the state of mind. Sadness can be due to specific events like deaths or major events like financial loss. Whereas births are specific events that give us joy and happiness. Other than such external events, everything is controllable. To make the sum of happiness and sadness index positive,  is in our hands! My weightage is 15% to each of these indexes. 

Second index is Gratitude index! Humans are generally good in nature and do things for each other! But how many of them display the gratitude, I am not really sure. You don’t need to express gratification in words but actions can show gratitude. It is not necessarily about something very big but we should always show gratitude especially about things very small . The workers who do the job of taking away trash, those who do the job of cleaning washrooms, those who clean the floors! These are not fancy jobs which everyone wants to do. But people do these jobs. We need to show gratitude to such people who are silently working in background. Of course, we should be gratified that HE has brought us in this lovely world. My weightage is 15% for Gratitude Index! 

Humility index is equally important index, especially from the persons who have succeeded in life, have reached pinnacle in their career. Any person’s success is due to support of colleagues, team and many others in background. Humility shown by successful persons brings a special aura to their persona! Persons who do not show humility may be respected but not out of love. Those who display humility will be both respected and loved! Such person’s team will go out of their way to support them. Person showing humility is always a couple of steps ahead in life’s respect ladder! My weightage for humility index will be 20%. 

Attitude includes openness, adaptability, accepting new things and courage of convictions.  This type of attitude gives satisfaction in life. In the world, things change very fast and if one does not have right attitude to adaptability and/or accepting new things, person may not be successful in whatever work is being done. This can lead to less happiness and /or  increase sadness. My weightage for Attitude is 10%. 

Last but not the least is empathy. Empathy plays a major role in our lives. An empathizer will always look at every situation with correct attitude. Do not mix up empathy with sympathy! In a tough situation, say of worker’s strike, decision has to be taken with empathy! Nobody expects sympathy! If one has the ability to understand worker’s issue, solution will always be just! Person with empathy always handles life’s situations in a smooth manner without disturbing the feathers!  To me weightage for empathy is maximum, 25%. 

Where am I on the index scale of 30? Maybe around 24 to 25! I am not really sure! I have written the blog but I have not seriously analyzed myself! But if the figures above are my correct analysis then I would like the figure to be near 27 to 28!  Where are you my friends on this scale? 

 

 

 

Yes both are right but sometimes one is more right!

The Internet has made things so easy, some of the best ideas are made available with ease, and the list includes, photos, videos, articles, caricatures and so on. I came across a cartoon a few days back, and it set my thought process rolling. The god’s gift to us humans, life, becomes quite complicated because every situation has different interpretations, a way of looking at it. Death is the only situation in our lives, which has no two sides. A dead person is always a dead person!

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This caricature is the epitome of complications that exists in our world. The number six viewed from the other side is nine. This is what happens in all situations. When both parties understand the meaning of caricature above, conflicts are avoided, or both teams will react differently. But in most cases, people don’t want to understand or don’t understand that there are two sides to any coin, which leads to conflicts, fights, murders and even wars! But a different approach to the same event can lead to significant evolutions.

First human society came into being around 10000 BC. Earth has been in existence for millions of years before. With the evolution of society, there came a time when humans started communicating, remembering, in general thinking like we do today. That is when the ownership concept started evolving. Ownership of crops, land, home and later wives! Before this period, disputes must have been only about eating stuff available as nobody owned anything. Eating was the only thing that was required for survival. Humans must have behaved mostly like animals, but the evolution of the brain changed things rapidly.

Why do two persons look at the same thing differently? The example of six and nine defines this different outlook perfectly. What could be the possible reasons for this different outlook? Ego? Superiority complex? Narrow thought process? Not able to grasp the situation? Out of box thinking!

Example of narrow thought process is exemplified in a short story. A shoe salesman is sent to an island with no instructions. After two days of the survey, he sends a message to headquarters, “People don’t wear any type of footwear, don’t send any shoes!” He is called back, and another shoe salesman is sent. The new salesman sends a message to headquarters, “Nobody wears any footwear, send two containers of shoes immediately!” Same situation but different interpretation and approach.

The classic example of “Out of Box thinking”. A few days back, Mukesh Ambani made a statement that H1 visa issue in the US, for the Indian IT sector, is a boon for India. He felt that many talented people who would move to the US will be forced to stay back in India and will work for the betterment of India. In India, we always think that our large population comes in the way of our growth. Mukesh Ambani has made one more statement recently. He said the “Data is new Oil”; he spoke with India’s 1.2 billion population there is a vast data available. It is for the next generation of entrepreneurs to use data to create processes, products and systems which will benefit a large population.

My personal opinion is that this is an excellent opportunity for the Indian IT sector to go up the value chain instead of remaining as glorified contractors! With such a massive pool of talent, cash-rich companies, none of the big ones even thought about going up the value chain. “Narrow thought process”? Companies run by so-called bean counters? Is profit the only motive?

In good old license raj days, some very successful companies made Nylon fibres. One of the businessmen in Pune thought that he will also make the same products and replicate what the other companies did. License Raj ended, good businessmen manoeuvred out of the situation, but our friend in Pune was “Not able to grasp” the situation. In a few years, from Rs.300/ crores, they had to close down!

In the war with India before 1971, Pakistan used to boast that they can easily defeat India with superior fighter planes F16. But Indian fighter pilots with their Gnats had excellent skills, and we know the result! “Ego & Superiority Complex?”

In examples mentioned above, things can be done in different ways, but as mentioned in the title “one is more right”! By the way, to avoid 6 & 9 or M & W situation there is a method of writing, to avoid the confusion! 6 & 9 or M &W. Cheers, always think for the betterment of whatever you are doing and try to be more right!