Human Traits!

The more we live in this world, the less you are surprised with human reactions. Poorest of the poor will share food with the needy, and the rich guy will not give a morsel to the deserving. I am talking about human behaviour and the so-called traditions that are followed in our society. Now that I am near the seventh decade in life, I get a feeling that I have been there and I have done that. Nothing will now surprise me anymore. I suddenly come across surprises.

We have a lady who does cleaning work at home. She is 36 years of age and quite a chirpy lady. She asked Jaya for a couple of days leave as her daughter was to travel back to her husband’s home. Surprise one. The daughter was here for the birth of her second child. Thirty-six years of age and the second grandchild. Oh! Maharashtra is a progressive state; child marriages have stopped long back. I asked Jaya why does she need a couple of days of leave? There is a tradition in their family, that when the daughter goes home after delivery, her inlaws are gifted with 150 Puran Polis! Puran Poli is a Maharashtrian delicacy; it’s a bread with a sweet filling and very tricky to make. In the current summer weather, the Poli can quickly get spoiled! But who cares, there is a tradition, and it must be followed. How can any family finish 150 Polis before they get spoiled? But logic is not part of the culture. The anecdote is from the family who are in the lower economic strata. The expense to make the Polis must have been around Rs.1000/. That is a lot of money for her plus several hours of efforts.

But here is one about people from very high economic levels. There is a housing society in Pune Called Himali Soc. It is one of the oldest high-end housing societies with row houses and condos. In Pune, we usually have water scarcity during the summer, especially when the monsoon gets delayed. The people from that society complained to the municipal corporation about the water supply. Since the problem was not getting resolved, the society people kept on complaining. Finally, the corporation sent a team of people to check the issue. They found that there was no apparent issue with the supply side. Still, the problems in homes persisted. They started checking individual dwellings. They were shocked to find out that out of 30-row houses, 25 had installed pumps, to pull the water from the main supply line. Using pumps is strictly against the law. They acted immediately and confiscated all 25 water pumps. These are supposedly highly educated, sophisticated people living in a high-end society. But they were in the least bothered about the law and the inconvenience it caused to others. I am sure most of the people must be leaders in their own fields. For small gain, they behaved in an incorrigible way. Is this fair? Is it the right thing to do? These people could have easily bought their drinking water supply if required. Friends, do you approve of such behaviour?

Then there is one funny story about a petty criminal. The person is 49 years of age and is a habitual offender. Sometime back he had a minor fight with a cigarette kiosk owner. The criminal beat the owner and stole a few thousand rupees from him. He was duly caught by the police and kept in the lock-up at the Police Station. At night, he started making noise, shouting and created a big ruckus. He had a habit of making a show which an outsider would think that the person is mentally derailed, almost on the verge of being mad. Most of the times, the Police would get fed up with him and his noise. The situation would ensure that the Police release him. The officer in charge that night was a smart person. He decided to send him to a large hospital to check his mental health. The doctors put him in the psychiatric patient’s ward. The patients from the ward, started to interact with our petty criminal, they would hug him, they would shout at him. They would scream at him. On the third day, the criminal got both scared and fed up. When the Police team came to check about his health condition, he privately told them that he was wrong and he would never throw the tantrums again, ever. He requested them to remove him from the ward. He now behaves appropriately in the jail without troubling anybody.

Modern technology has achieved a couple of great things. It has given a gift of longevity to people in India and has brought old friends together. Whether longevity is a boon or bane depends on individuals and their attitude towards life. I have observed that people die much later these days. In my father’s generation, dying after a few years after retirement was the norm. When people died between 60 and 70 of age, it was not a surprise. But now this range has moved more towards 75 to 80. As usual, it has its pro and cons. One thing is your attitude and secondly the money. You now need more money after retirement than you would need previously. Once you are sure that there is enough money, then it is up to you to see how you remain happy.

From one of my groups, people have been doing many things; we are all around the age of 70. Pravin, the singer, has now started writing poems and does some paintings. Sudhakar has been doing lovely pictures for quite some time. Hemant remains busy as the board of director for several organisations. Vasant is active with social work. Another friend takes discourse on religious matters. One more friend has formally learnt to perform puja and goes to various homes as a priest. Suresh teaches yoga on weekends in Sydney, Australia. Surendra has passed a competitive exam and now is going to take admission to a full-time course to become a lawyer. I have now joined an online course at Oxford University for creative writing. Two or three friends have already checked with me the procedure to start a blog site on WordPress.

You must be wondering why I am telling you all this. Friends remaining busy is in our hands. First and foremost, we must remember that we are not immortals. Ill health, poor eyesight, physical disabilities are going to be part of our lives one day.  We may become bedridden for some time. But we should not get discouraged by what is going to happen in future. People do many new things post-retirement, you need to find your path to enjoy life, to find happiness. So are we going to give up?

People from our age group and above can set standards for future generations about positive attitude. Let us help overcome the negativity of the so-called traditions. Our “rich” traditions will continue, unfortunately. In countries like Japan, people handle their lives on their own, happily in the age group above 80. They have been doing it for many generations. By showing that you can be happy even at a late stage in life, we can make this a better world! Let’s do it!

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Me Too!

The “Me Too” movement (or “#MeToo“, with local alternatives in other languages) spread virally in October 2017 as a hashtag used on social media to help demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment, especially in the workplace. It followed soon after the public revelations of sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein. From the time of Adam, women have had to face many difficulties in simple process of living! What was their fault? Their body, hence their psyche put them under tremendous pressure. As the girl child crossed the puberty, the life became even more miserable. Girl child was made aware of their breasts which grew with age. I feel that the only reason to make them more miserable was, the so called weak sex could be raped and were always afraid of getting pregnant after rape. OK, things are not so bad today but they have also not improved much. What used to be done openly a few centuries back, is now being done discretely. Mind you, even today 3 or 4-year-old babies fall prey to such horrendous acts. 

We hear many things about women’s liberation, their going forward in life, their becoming top bosses, Prime Ministers, Presidents, Pilots and so on. But this number is miniscule. I am sure all these top end ladies also had to undergo shameful acts of certain males, to some extent, till they reached a certain level in their careers. What is it that leads to such situations? From childhood, the girl child is always disciplined to be docile, there are restrictions put on them; a non-conforming girl child is called Tom Boy! Behaviour patterns of boys and girls are predefined, boys can do what they want but girl will be told to behave when she performs similar mischief. It starts with their clothing. When a girl child enters a certain age, she is always instructed about her modesty; she is expected to sit in such a way that her underclothing will not be revealed. Ultimately, everything boils down to girl’s or woman’s sex! 

Look at the way women are stereotyped. A man goes to a lawyer’s office and is told by her colleague, that the concerned lawyer will come in ten minutes. After ten minutes, a lady enters the office. Our man tells the lady, ” Honey, could you get me some coffee?” She says, “Sure, I will get it from the machine.” She comes back and gives him the coffee. She tells him, “That’s 52 dollars”. The man is surprised and says, ” How so?” She says, “2 dollars for the coffee and 50 dollars is my fee. I the lawyer”. Forget the funny part but people just assume that lady in the office must be a receptionist!  

Whatever people may say, women have to bear pressures in their day to day lives. When there is some funny situation in a movie or somebody cracks a joke, men will laugh loudly and while doing so throw their head back; but women almost will never do that! What they will do is put a hand in front of their mouth, put their head down and smile! Why? They are trained to do so from beginning of their lives, they are trained to be docile. They cannot even laugh whole heartedly! That is because they are trained to please others from childhood! Women it seems, always think negatively about themselves! Talk of money matters in family and they will say it is my father’s job or my husband’s job! The ladies are always described as sacrificing, suffering, not achieving their dreams! They will never talk of leadership quality! In today’s world, you will observe some women are “like men” in many individual straits, work wise, but they have had to work really hard to achieve this. I have known of examples of a lady professional, in higher echelons technology industry. She has rarely met ladies at senior levels during her globe-trotting. This is true in USA, Europe and developed Asian countries.  

Women were considered second citizens and started getting voting rights in the beginning of last century. A modern country like Switzerland gave them voting rights in 60’s. In Middle Eastern countries, they started getting their voting rights in 90’s. As recently as 2017, women were not allowed to drive cars in Saudi Arabia! In general the treatment given to women has been terrible and shoddy all these years and continues even today!

How is “Me Too” progressing world over? Except USA, there hardly appears to be any progress in other countries including India, that too in professional arena. We in India,  have large number of lady professionals in various fields. This encompasses all professions from Films to Rockets, Pilots to Technology, Banking to Armed forces! Not a single organized “Me Too” activity is seen or heard anywhere. Do we mean to say that they never faced any problems? What about the “Casting Couch”  that we hear about! Do we mean to say that Indian men are next to God and have treated the ladies around them with great respect? I hope we remember Nirbhaya! It was an extreme case of brutality but thought process was the same; women are objects of desire! I read a statistic somewhere that more than 70 % of rapes are by relatives or people in close contact with the family! This indicates the raw thought process in our society! God knows how many such rapes are not even reported!  

Why does this happen? What is the solution? What is the way forward? There is some progress in organized sector which have formal committees to handle harassments discretely. But what about homes! We have culture in many states in India where women are just live, they have no rights, they have no say in anything, they will be forced to do what they are told. I read in a Pune newspaper yesterday. A girl overcame family poverty and resistance to study. She stood first in the state competitive exam called MTS. She wants to become an IAS or IFS officer. What did her father  tell the reporters? No more education for her; education spoils them and they behave indecently. She should now take up the profession of a seamstress like her mother is doing all her life!  

How can this change? We talk of thousands of years of old culture in India but in the year 2018 we want to apply those same laws and thought processes of the olden days when we were all primitives! (In thoughts, majority are still primitive even today) Winners used to  take all women, the weak sex! It may not happen so openly today, but behind office cultures, in universities it keeps on  happening. Unless a big turmoil takes place in thought process by women in India, unless ladies openly start our own “Me too” which may be called “मैं भी” movement, situation will continue to be in the same way. It is for liberal thinking families to encourage their girl child to act in such a way that they should feel equal to the male child, still retaining all the beautiful female traits!  Let us not forget that this beautiful world is made up of both men and women. Girls and boys! Let us all create harmony between them in such a way that we live a much better but “real modern” world, where thinking is modern and not only the dress sense!  

Civilized behaviour of Oldest Civilization!

InternetGenie

Pramod somehow managed to make Internet Genie run at the high speed that was expected of him. Genie as usual started narrating a story. He started with a question, “Pramod why do we Indians behave in different ways to real life situations?” Pramod knew that if he uttered a word, Genie would slip out of his control and system will hang! So Pramod did not give any reply to the question asked.

As usual Genie kept on talking. Pramod, I read in newspapers that a girl student in IIT, Chennai committed suicide. Pressures due to studies is one aspect. But this unfortunate event occurred after the girl was caught copying in the semester examination. The result, she was asked to leave examination hall and her parents were informed. The girl went to her hostel and committed suicide. Two things were to happen, she would have been debarred from exam for one semester and parents were to be informed! When she tried the copying, I am sure she must have known the consequences of getting caught. Pramod, why did the girl end her life? Insult? Repentance? But why end life?  She was just to lose one semester! She had an opportunity to make up for her error! Why copy? Why such a drastic reaction?

Some years back I remember a news item of students resorting to mass copying in Marathwada area, in Maharashtra. Pramod, if you see the photograph below, you will be amazed. The persons helping students to copy are climbing three to four stories from outside of a building. Shocking, to say the least! Are these people not afraid of the authorities? Are they not afraid of injuries? Apparently no! Later, the government took a stiff action and made district officials responsible to stop this. What is the reason for this mass copying? It appears that on passing tenth grade, these kids could get a government job as a peon or office assistant! Before the authorities became strict the passing % was 85 to 90 %. Now it is 45%! But was mass copying the solution?

StudentsCopying

In Mumbai, Afroze Shah decided to take up the cleanup drive of Versova beach but he is now forced to stop this due to apathy of Municipal corporation, threats by bad elements forcing volunteers to stop work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=04OuaathdnI

Read about their work in the link below.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/mumbai-news/this-lawyer-spearheaded-the-world-s-biggest-beach-clean-up-at-versova/story-E75vbhoKUJXSJECsIncYkK.html

Afroze Shah is a young 33-year-old lawyer from Mumbai and he just decided a couple of years back, “enough is enough”! He started a drive to clean the Versova beach. Through social media campaign. thousands of volunteers joined to take part in the drive. This is officially recognized by United Nations as a great cleanup drive! The volunteers recently were threatened by bad elements in the society. The latest news is that Shiv Sena has fully supported Shah and has told him that they will talk to police and  corporation. There will be Shiv Sena volunteers to protect the people. Let us hope this works out. Here is one-man army who brought together thousands of people to stand in ankle deep muck, to clean the beach every week end. Why there is so much apathy from Government agencies? How are bad elements troubled by this activity? Let us hope the drive continues!

VersovaBeachCleaningDrive

There was a drive against encroachers of public space. The hawkers were removed from these areas. After eight days same drive was done again, and this time hawkers attacked the officials! It is our right to earn livelihood, they said! But what about right of other people for free space! Hawkers were doing illegal things and wanted space free, for themselves, instead of going to hawker’s zone! On top of that they attacked the officials. What sort of thinking is this? Why do political parties support illegal activities?

Pramod, I want your reply on various points, as I know that you have strong views!! Pramod just could not keep quiet. He said, “Genie, copying during exams is such an unfortunate practice that these kids do not understand that passing exams is not the end but the means of achieving one’s goal in life!  Ok, you make a mistake but killing oneself is not the solution, one can repent and correct the error! In case of beach cleaning, I simply do not have answers! What to bad elements achieve by threatening the volunteers?  Government apathy? Tell me something new!  Hawkers probably are learning from Mallya’s and Subroto Roy’s of this world, how to make money by cheating?”

With this statement Pramod broke the golden rule of silence that Genie had locked him in.  At that instant Genie slipped out of Pramod’s grasp, Genie’s speed became equivalent of 2 G and system hung!  Genie could not help but make a passing remark before escaping. ” Pramod, there is not much space here, otherwise I could have given you hundreds of such examples from oldest “civilization” on the earth!”

 

One Man Khap Panchayat- My Ego!

My favourite subject appears to have become the Ego! Last night my wife Jaya and I had gone out for dinner with some friends. I met the Hero of this episode for the first time at the dinner. You must be sure that when I talk of Khap panchayat, the hero must be a hot blooded Punjabi or a Haryanvi. But he is a pure soft spoken South Indian, called Madrasi by our North Indian friends, though he is from Kerala. This episode only proves our faith in National unity and integration. You go North, South, and West or East we will have exactly same behavior, no deviation when we handle marriages!

Our friend is happily married for last twenty years. Has a lovely family with a brilliant daughter. Now here is the story. (I am not going to write the story in details because of copy rights issues!  ) Our friend wanted to get married and had met his future wife before family started getting involved. When his family suggested to him that he should get married and settle down, he told his parents that he has a girl in mind and would like to marry her. The girl was from the same caste, religion and whatever they see at the time of the marriage. She was from the same बिरादरी! Everything was perfectly matching plus the groom and bride had already agreed. So where is the hitch?

Our hero’s father, a famous lawyer in their area asked him what is going on. The hero said, “as suggested by you and amma, I want to get married and have looked for a girl”! Oh my god! My son is getting married and the son is taking the decision! What’s going on? The father was upset and said he will not allow this marriage. There was exchange of views, to use a mild term. The hero being a cool guy decided to let the dust settle down after the storm or the typhoon. The dust did settle down but the clouds never went away. The father said sorry you cannot get married to this girl. When the reason was asked the father said, fixing the son’s marriage is his privilege. He would not allow him to marry this already selected girl. Period. No more discussion. Case is dismissed, in court parlance.

One thing is for sure. Love changes the personality of a person. Our hero decided to take things in his own hand. He told his mother “I am going to get married to the same girl.”  When his mother rechecked with the father the answer was plain NO! The hero went and met his would be father in law (he was an astrologer) to ask for his permission. He got it immediately. I will briefly share about how our friend overcame all the obstacles. But I want to basically talk of human nature. The astrologer would be father in law was a very practical person. He said “since you two have decided to get married I will NOT see the kundali” Wow! This is the kind of support expected from ones parents.

But the father chose a different path. He went to Bangalore on the 8th of April; marriage was to take place in his absence on 11th April. He put in an application for maintaining status quo against his son. Morally it was not tenable but because he was very senior lawyer he managed to get the order on the 8th April. Look at the scheming. 9th was a Saturday and from 11th court had 2 months summer holiday. He got the order out at the closing time on 8th. Concept was that in two months of chaos, during court holiday, marriage will fizzle out!

Our friend had genes from his smart lawyer father. When he came to know about this, he got marriage certificate and registration dated 7th April! Status quo order was from 8th but marriage certificate and registration were dated 7th. He has not broken any law! Remained married to maintain the status quo! ! Probably this was the only case the father lost in his career; the father kept on fighting for 16 years.

Now my question to you friends is why did the father do all these things? Was it the pride or EGO? What did he gain by going all the way? Even today the family is a joint family with parents and sibling staying together. Married sister stays elsewhere. But there is a clear cut rule. If anyone visits our friend’s home, they will not be allowed to come back home. This rule is applicable to mother also.

Is it adamant nature? Can a human being not forget a small aberration, if this can be called an aberration, by one’s own child even after 20 years! What can be the reason? How this action or reaction be justified? Can this be justified in HIS court? Look at the family background. Father is eminent lawyer, siblings are well settled. Our friend works for a multinational company. Does education have no effect on such thought processes? We blame the Khap Panachyats but what will you say in this case? Ok the couple was at least not physically damaged. How this action is different? Why did the father keep on fighting for 16 years after the event?

Our friend said that many people suggested to him that he should have a counter case against the father but he said no way! What is the purpose of our arrival on the earth? I thought that humans would want to live a peaceful life, especially the educated people. But then again it comes to the definition of “educated” people. That you have a degree from college only indicates that you have taken education. It does not make you “educated”. The grandfather does not talk to the granddaughter also. This according to me is taking things really too far! I am just wondering how much the father must be suffering? Today he is 77 but status quo of cutting off the son and his family remains. Friends I feel that not even my enemy should be required to go through such a severe punishment. Only thing that comes mind after knowing this event, is the hope that in near future this episode will get over and the family will come together again. But hats off to my friend for remaining calm and composed under such duress.