Blogging is a big deal! Nah…

Today on my engineering college WhatsApp group, a close friend Vijay, shared a blog about his journey to Sri Lanka! Vijay is an accomplished photographer; I am hoping to get his guidance in photography, at some stage. There was a discussion on the group about what a blog is! Of course, friends pulled my leg too, which is the norm among our group, when discussion veers towards blogging!

A blog is defined as a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style. I started blogging way back in 2011 with a few blogs in the first year, 2nd and 3rd years were also not very productive. In those days there was huge audience of three people, all from family and hence captive! Jaya, my son Sachin and my daughter Priya. They were all told to appreciate my blogs! In mid 2014, after my illness in the first part of the year, I suddenly became more productive and since last year I write 10 to 15 blogs in a month!

Why did I start blogging? Honestly, I do not know but probably it might have something to do with my being comfortable using computers. I bought my first PC in the year 1989, at home! During my school and college days, I was never a part of elocution competitions, singing, art or magazine stuff. I was busy in sports! Only thing I used do was a bit of logistics, behind the drama stage. I have never been a good photographer nor a painter, basically I am not an art and literature person! One thing I used to like since those days was chatting with friends, lot of gupshup, more of time pass which we enjoyed during engineering college hostel days. I used to be in a gang which would celebrate end of term with a bit of drinking alcohol; I and another friend (both non-drinkers) would be policemen to handle them when gang went our dinner after drinks! Maybe, I was a sponge all these years absorbing experiences, stories and anecdotes during the journey. Maybe this is helping me in blogging. Another thing I picked up on the way during professional years was creating good documents and writing mails which perfectly depicted my thoughts.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/random-thoughts/

This is my first blog written on 7th February 2011. When I went through it, I could see the rawness in me. There were three major spelling errors which I have corrected. (I am ashamed!) But other than that, I have not done any changes. Now I see that I had not even done formatting! It was really written randomly as per the title of the blog. Why I am writing this is because I feel that many of my friends are more talented than me and can be more productive and enrich their own and others lives by blogging. Sudhakar is a painter and writer par excellence, Vijay is a fantastic photographer, Pravin is a good singer, Shriniwas and Shashi have great flair for solving complex puzzles along with Shrikant and Sudhakar. I am sure many others have talents which are not known to others. There are some social workers in the group doing a great job, there are story writers like Kishor! Hey come on guys write something about your expertise, how you achieve end results, how you prepare and all such things. Write about your experiences.

Slowly I meandered towards blogs about human behaviour and relationships. This is my favourite topic for blogging. Sometimes I write about technical things but I make sure that it is not a technical document; my blogs are also read by non -technical people.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2016/01/19/dance-of-civilization/

This is my most favorite blog written on 19th January 2016. For me this was a path breaking blog which was ready in my mind the moment I thought what I should write. This happens to me in some blogs and my blog is ready in an hour and half! For some reason there is clarity of thoughts, the beginning and end is also ready. You must have observed that in my blogs there are always some anecdotes but, in this blog, it is full of small stories in the form of observations. About 30% of my blogs are written this way. Appropriate thoughts and the stories that I have absorbed over a period, somehow are accessed instantly from my hard disc in the mind.

Later, I have written blogs based on personalities, some based on poems or songs, some are based on real life events. Some were just based on a sentence I had read somewhere! It appears that over a period I improved my skills into expanding my thoughts from something small into a blog.

My favourite blog on personalities is of course the one on Shashi Kapoor when he passed away! He was in commercial films but never looked comfortable. He had the looks, charisma and family background with him!  But he was more humane than many other stars!

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2017/12/07/shashi-kapoor-the-british-punjabi/

Most favourite or all time favourite blog that my friends have liked is

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2017/07/12/paranormal-behavior-or-angat-yene-or-devi-ana/

It is miles ahead of all other blogs for number of views. This was written from a personal experience of someone from family, who had this effect on her during a religious function in the family. I had heard about this aspect and I had assumed that this happens to people I don’t know! But that it was real was proved when the lady came out of the trance, she was totally drenched in sweat!

Another blog that is dear to my heart is  Brave Art!

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/06/08/brave-art/

It is about a young girl, maybe 26/27 years old, from Nasik who dared to break the social norms and did nude paintings of self! I was reading a poem by Kedarnath Singhji when my friend Sudhakar shared all details about Mansi and her background! I combined the brave girl’s act with the poem that I was reading on the subject of woman’s nudity! Both subjects have gelled beautifully to create a satisfactory blog.

From 21 views in the first year, I have already crossed a figure of 10,500 in the year 2018. Let me tell you this helps! I am not writing for praise only,  but the comments made by friends, telephonic discussions add to my enthusiasm!  I have 65 regular followers and they are from different countries. India, US, Australia, Canada and UK are the countries where I have friends so it is no surprise that my viewers are from these countries. But I get surprised when there are sometimes viewers from non-English speaking countries like Germany, Hungary whereas Ireland, Hongkong is also a surprise to me.

Only reason I have written this blog is to tell people the real inside story! When we were younger such technology did not exist. Friends, make use of technology, don’t go by what I have written about blogs. Read on the net and interpret the meaning of blogs in your own way but start playing with it. Another important aspect is that writing a blog is your own product whereas pushing forwards on WA/FB is like service industry, sharing someone else’s work. I prefer own product, anytime! There are always hidden gems in the society, they only need a bit of cut and polish! You could be one of them! Don’t forget we all have a lot of stories and anecdotes to share, it’s a matter of pulling them out at the right time!

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Virus Bonhomie!

Virus Bonhomie!

This blog is about a specific group, but I have tried to make it as generic as possible. But it applies to all the groups of friends.

Once upon a time, there was a set of retired people and not so retired people, who lived their life, enjoying their golden period. Things were quite good. They were travelling, enjoying with family and had a great time with their grandchildren, once in a while. They had illnesses, they had their anxieties but were game at carrying their burden, gracefully. Of course, the children were around but there was a small issue, they were around the world, for many. Children and their family was a great solace, once in a year or two years, in some cases after five years! There were WhatsApp messages and Video calls, all keeping them very happy in the winter of life. Everything was smooth; children were very caring; they ensured that there were caretakers available round the clock if needed. Everything was hunky dory! Once in a while, there was a cool breeze and warmth of good old friends. The breeze came out of the blue and kept people gasping as they had gone their separate ways in the journey called life. Friends from the old gang were expected to meet only once in a while. Yes, these folks were also in college once upon a time; had groups and great friends!

A few years back suddenly, a species started appearing on the horizon! It looked like UFO; nobody initially knew what it was. On searching Google, people came to know it was called Bonhomie! (Oxford meaning of Bonhomie is cheerful friendliness) As usually happens, nobody was sure what was happening. These people realised that two naïve guys were bringing in an unknown creature called Bonhomie in their lives. Thanks to WhatsApp, FB and modern technology in general, things started moving fast. The group of people was a little confused; they were not aware that they were getting converted into “group of friends, close friends!” The thought itself was breathtaking. Am I going to meet my long-lost friends again? Am I going to meet Ashkya, Dhanya, Panya, Didya, Sharya again after so many years? What fun we had when we were together in college?

Lists were made, groups were created thanks to technology and two idiots! Phone numbers were shared and, in some cases, photos were exchanged. Calls were made and demeanour of all the people enjoying the golden period slowly started changing. People at home were surprised and took some of them to doctors. Doctors said that there is a new virus spreading fast, especially in people who are enjoying a golden period. There was just no cure to that. Sometimes these people show signs of Euphoria. But let them be. This virus can cure many ailments in that age group. Of course, Bonhomie is not a cure-all. It cannot cure cancer, heart attack and stroke! But this virus is an antidote to overcome anxieties created by such illnesses. Stresses in life, worries in general, feeling of loneliness!

Finally, the D day arrived for the group to meet! Meet they did at their favourite place near the river! Words like Mithi, Salya, Jadya, Taklya, Lambya were thrown in with gay abandon. There were slaps on the back. There were bear hugs, and of course, some tears of joy (which I have even while writing this piece too!) And the party started. There would be formal meets maybe twice in a year. Friends began meeting in small groups; old gangs came together! Bonhomie virus was spreading, and parties started in Mumbai too! Small picnics, big parties, idli/dosa at favourite joints was the name of the game.

As the gang became closer, good old fights and skirmishes began; it as if they were young adults again. The resolution in all the cases was always virtual or sometimes by a phone call. Group magazine started to keep bonding; it died its natural death over a couple of years. Photo albums were created to be shared with all, but this also stopped after a period, a natural thing. But after every meet, there was an only one discussion, “When are we meeting again?” And the party continued. Joy was spread among friends regarding achievements of next generations, some of them in studies, some in art, some in painting. Travel photos and experiences were shared and advise taken from others for the next holiday.

Honestly, things were too good to be true! But bonding continued. There was sharing of sorrow due to the demise of family or friends. There was real enjoyment when some long-lost friend suddenly started meeting again; then a friend started sharing his old passion, paintings. He started getting time for his love and made everybody’s life all the more enjoyable by sharing his art. Everybody looked forward to his paintings.

I am all for a healthy world but started getting jittery that our group was travelling in the direction of destroying the virus of Bonhomie. Bonhomie is one virus that I want to be alive all the time. Google search was done. Google explained that there was a healthy antidote, for this virus, called EGO. The group was slowly managing to infuse this antidote daily. Some friends were getting worried; some were overwhelmed. Some were relentlessly doing it. One friend joined only to introduce this dose. Advise of the spin doctor was taken. The Doctor said that the virus of Bonhomie remains healthy with a regular dose of a vitamin called communication both verbal and written. The doctor suggested reducing the discussion for some time, to find out if his judgment and treatment indicated was correct.

Reduction of this vitamin indicated that the doctor was right. There were hardly 2/3 friends, who showed interest in checking out if the monthly meet was ON! The experiment continues. But the spin doctor also suggested a communication by way of a big write up, which sometimes kick starts the rejuvenation of virus Bonhomie!

Friends, don’t let this virus die. You will know it’s importance after it goes into a coma. Instead of the current two idiots, there can be 2/3 additional idiots who will nurture this virus. If not on first Sunday, friends can meet on second Sunday, at a different location, at a different time. Suggest whatever you think will keep the virus kicking! We all have a large stock of anti-dote EGO. Just dispose of it! Throw it away. It is true for all the remaining life of any person young or old, man or woman. Have fun, nurture friendships. God has gifted us three great things. Nature, the family and friends. You cannot destroy nature because it is self-sustaining and self-correcting. But others need to be handled carefully; they come with a label “Fragile! Handle with care”!

But rest assured that two idiots will not rest till the Bonhomie virus is kicking in again!

Are you smart or dumb?

MAD is one of my favourite magazines from childhood. I remember one caricature from the magazine. A very thin guy is lying on the ground. Another guy is shooting him with a revolver. A passerby stops and asks the shooter, “What are you doing?” He replies, “This guy is under weight, so I am pumping lead in him to help him gain weight!” Such caricatures came under category “Smart or funny answers to dumb questions” or some such thing. In our life we come across such people. If you are lucky you don’t meet many such people!

What is smart or dumb? How does a human being become smart or dumb? His family, education, DNA, environment what is it? What attributes finally get converted to a smart or dumb person? It is rather difficult to decide. I think it starts from childhood but later on the human being acquires & improves many abilities through experience. But this only appears theoretical, real life things are different.

As usual I take the reference of my grand-daughter Rhea. She is all of 3 ½ years old, the way she asks questions, adapts to things, understands explanations it will be real surprise if she ever asks a dumb question. She watches videos while having her food. One day the video was taking time to load. To deceive her we used to tell her previously that now internet Baba is angry that is why we can’t see the video.  I told her the same story. She pointed her finger to the electrical switch for the Modem and told me “Aba put that switch on/off, then internet Baba will not be angry.” Now I am sure she has heard this discussion when we talk amongst ourselves when the Net is slow or not behaving! I am not able to understand how she could correlate this discussion with the problem on hand! Do I find this clarity in grown-ups? In fact I observe that some of the grown-ups can’t correlate things in their own subject. They are graduates and reasonably well educated. Is it because when there is a minor deviation, they cannot think out of the box? Or have they acquired this trait to think dumb!

We live on the 7th floor and while going down in the elevator, I pressed zero! Rhea asked me why I pressed zero. I said because we want to go there. She then asked me how does the elevator know it has reached zero? Well, well that definitely was a smart question for her age. I had shared a couple of photos, news item and a small write up in our group about the achievement by a friend. I got a message from another friend, Pramod could you explain what these photos are? He had read everything and it was all self-explanatory, so why did he ask this question? I have no explanation. I again sent him the explanation.

Recently I was told a story by my niece who is a gynecologists. There was a couple, husband was IIT trained, wife Post Graduate in nutrition science. They had difficulty in conceiving and were taking my niece’s treatment. Finally the wife became pregnant. They came to see my niece in the fifth month of pregnancy. It was winter time and weather was very cold. The husband asked my niece, “Doctor, can my wife use a blanket now?” She was surprised. She said it was very cold so you must use the blanket and why has your wife been not using one. Believe me, he said the dumbest possible thing, you may say that Pramod is cooking up some story for the heck of it. They said now that fetus has crossed fifth month it will be ok to use it. My niece still did not understand. The husband said if my wife had used blanket before the fetus would have been smothered, that is why they decided not to use blanket even though it was very cold! Had this statement come from a villager ….

Now read the next one. They asked my niece, “Can the lady now eat Jambhul or Indian Black Berry?” It’s a lovey and healthy fruit and pregnant ladies many a times have the urge to eat the same during pregnancy. Again our doctor was flummoxed. She said of course you can eat but why were you not eating? The answer was “Oh the baby’s skin could have become dark!”

I know that these two stories can also be told under the heading “Believe it or not”. But how does this educated couple ask such questions? It comes down to definition of “educated”. These two had gone to their respective education institute to get their degrees but were definitely NOT “educated”. The information they asked was not rocket science and you did not have to be doctor to understand these things. If the blanket could suffocate the fetus then the lady’s clothing also must have suffocated the baby! Did they avoid blackish colored soft drinks like colas or kala khatta during this period?

I asked my niece if this couple was exceptionally dumb.  She said, “No kaka, they were a reasonable representation of our society irrespective of education levels”.  I can understand people getting confused with highly technical or analytical issues. So now I am back to the question what makes people smart or dumb? I am watching my grand-daughter asking very smart questions at her age and I see the so called ‘educated’ asking dumb questions. Honestly I am dumb founded! Are you?