Want to be miserable, it’s easy!

I am fed up with positive articles and positivity in life! I have heard enough of lectures and written enough blogs on the subject. So, I thought, let me enjoy negativity! I was wondering what could be top three things in the list of things that make you miserable? Use of chemicals/alcohol that changes your mood, envy and resentment. The order might change for individuals, but for most people, this would be the sequence!

How many families have been devastated using such a substance? There is always the first time, which is risky, but it also depends on the company we keep. Mind you; these don’t depend on if someone has money, or there is a shortage of funds. These substances are addictive, and a person always feels that he or she is not addicted. They think that they could easily give up the habit. But it does not work out this way. Key to overcoming such a situation is first to accept that one is addicted.

I will share with you two stories. We were in a restaurant, and a family was sitting on the table next to ours. Two couples, one of them having two kids and the other couple, was having a kid with a pregnant wife. Luckily the couple was not allowing their twelve-year-old kid to taste the liquor. After some time, the lady wanted to use the washroom. She had lost control of her walk, and the son held momma’s hand and took her to the restroom. Any guesses what that child’s thoughts would be about alcohol, ten years later! Momma is always right!

An eighteen-year-old boy would hang outside his college premises, and the friends would have beers, sitting in their car once it started getting dark. The boy’s mother went and met one of his teachers. He was a favourite student of the teacher. The mother explained about beer drinking and requested help from the teacher. The next day the teacher called the boy and asked him about the beer drinking. He was surprised and said, “My mother seems to have met you.  What is wrong in having a couple of beers?” The teacher was surprised by this statement. When she further probed the boy said, “I have been watching my father having his drinks every evening after coming back home. So I assumed that it is a way of life.” The teacher explained to him the details about addiction etc. After further discussion, the boy said, “Madam, now I have understood the meaning of what I was doing. Now I will never touch alcohol in life!”

These two anecdotes explain what can happen in life due to addiction. So, go for these substances, and you will be surely miserable!

Next guaranteed way of becoming miserable is to become an envious person! Once you change your thought and become an envious person, nothing can stop you from being miserable. To make sure that you become and remain miserable, ensure that you look for new avenues for envy. Keep a diary of events that make you envious of someone. Some colleague was promoted above you, though you thought that you were a better candidate, note down your feelings in your diary. You can maintain an index page and details page like a book. When you don’t get enough time to remember events that made you envious, at least read the index so your fire of envy will remain stoked all the time. Later it may so happen that you will get a much better and higher paying job than your friend, but do not erase the entry from the diary. After all, this friend’s promotion was the cause of your envy!

Another friend was profoundly dyslexic when we were in school. We used to trouble him and tease him. We used to think that he was an idiot, and we were all smart guys. Later on, I met him at a social function. I felt that he must have become a slightly brighter version of the idiot he was. While parting, he gave me his business card. He had become a Managing Director of a multi-national and lived in Singapore. His two sons were studying at Harvard and Oxford. That is when I realised the real meaning of resentment. Friends, this is when really understood the meaning of the word, and I was miserable how I could have missed such an extraordinary feeling. On that day, I felt like a complete person who could resent anything and everything in life.

I went home, opened the bottle of my favourite poison and started drinking. I did not feel like eating any snacks along with my drink as I had envy and resentment to accompany me! But I felt like a complete person. How much had I achieved by meeting my old friend? By drinking alcohol and envying others for everything, I had fulfilment, but I felt that there was some shortcoming. Today, I became a complete person. I became so miserable that night that, the next day, I woke up with a big hangover but had the satisfaction of achieving my goal.

There are other small ways to reach your goal. Another prescription for misery is to learn everything you possibly can from your own experience, minimising what you learn from the good and bad experience of others, living and dead. Such prescription is a sure-shot producer of misery and second-rate achievement.

The results of not learning from others’ mistakes are fascinating. Get into the habit of entering the frequent disasters of humanity -drunk driving deaths, reckless driving maiming’s, incurable venereal diseases, conversion of bright college students into brainwashed zombies as members of destructive cults, business failures through repetition of obvious mistakes made by predecessors, various forms of crowd folly, and so on.

My additional prescription for misery is to go down and stay down when you get your first, second, third severe reverse in the battle of life. Because there is so much adversity out there, even for the lucky and wise, this will guarantee that, in due course, you will be permanently stuck in misery.

I recently read a story about a rustic who said: “I wish I knew where I was going to die, and then I’d never go there.” Most people smile (as you also must have done) at the rustic’s ignorance and ignore his basic wisdom. If my experience is any guide, the rustic’s approach is to be avoided at all cost by someone bent on misery. To help fail, you should discount as a mere quirk, with no useful message, the method of the rustic.

Friends, I envy and resent all of you who keep on thinking you are smarter than me but don’t worry, I have a solution, my chemical poison!

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Musings COEP days! Friendship special!

I published my blog about Kleptomaniacs yesterday morning. 

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/08/06/are-we-a-nation-of-petty-people/ 

A dear friend called me to discuss the same. He remembered our COEP days, and it took me to good old days in COEP. He had called me to share a story about another friend who was a Kleptomaniac in those days. But I said, “Dost, he may be still be continuing with the same trait.” Kleptomania is a mental sickness, but the story I got from him gave me firsthand information about how people’s mind works. Our friend used to pinch anything from the shops. Two of them used to argue, but the justification given by our pinching friend was, “The shopkeepers make so much money, so how does it matter if some items are brought from these shops without payment.” Wow! Great argument. My friend argued that the shopkeeper was working for the betterment of his family and not for others. But this friend continued to steal.  Some photos from those days. First one is a few years after college!

The story took me back to remind me of how we lived and enjoyed in those days. There were many characters around, some teachers, some staff members, and other students. There was one girl in Jaya’s class. She lived in hostels, so Jaya did not know all about her. But whenever they went to a restaurant for a cup of Coffee or Tea, this lady would pinch spoons, forks and sometimes glasses! I am not sure what her level of competence was, but she would also splash ink on shirts of classmates, sitting in her front of her. She would do it with poker face while the class was going on!  

The other day, while doing spring cleaning, I found a copy of the thesis I had submitted for my Master’s Degree. My guide, Dr Satyanaryan, had threatened me in the good sense that he would throw me out of the Metallurgy department if I did not complete my Master’s Degree in stipulated two years. Three to five years was the norm to complete the degree. I was required to interact with the outside world during the projectIt started with collecting a princely sum of Rs.3000/ to buy Aluminium Bronze rods from a company called Indoswe. Lengthy government procedure would have delayed my project. As per the guidance of Satyanarayan Sir, I raised the massive sum of Rs 3000/ and bought the material. The money was reimbursed later. The interaction got me to meet Mr Nande, the company director. He offered to employ me at a very high salary of Rs 700/ after the project. I worked with them for four years.  

The project took me the Sanghavi Metals, near Nava Pul and ARDE at Pashan. At Sanghavi, I got the rods rolled, thanks to their works manager Mr Dharia. I would work there in the second shift for about ten days. At ARDE, Mr Murthy helped to forge the bronze rodsIt was a tough call to get permission from the Government Defense organisation; all credit was to Mr Murthy. The bronze was heat-treated after rolling and forging, I was to take photographs of the changes in Microstructure. I used to go to college for this work at 7.15 am, but Dr Satyanaryan and the technician Mr Vernekar would reach there before I arrived. Such was their enthusiasm.  

During my Master’s degree, I was close to Prof Chopade, who was a very knowledgeable and sharp person. Later, in his career, he joined an industrial group as a director. He had an amusing way of expressing and was master of Pun. One day, he said, “Panya let us do some Metallurgy!” I was wondering what he was saying. I started walking with him. He took me to the canteen for a cup of tea! He further said, “I have Tas or Tras after half an hour!” My question mark was solved by him with an explanation, “In Marathi Tas is period, but Tras (trouble) is for me as well as to the students! He, unfortunately, died very early.  

We had Hemya Nerurkar in our class. During our “educational” tour, he and other friends like Narya Vohra would always look for the watering holes, looking for dry martini! Hemya is still fun to be with and was a smart guy since college daysI am sure he has continued his love affair with the dry martiniwhile he was busy in his career as Managing Director of Tata Steel! 

The tour brought out the real character of friends. Balya Palande, Anya Bhide and Jadu Yeravadekar would always look for their favourite PAN (betel leaf) in every city we visited. Another friend was jokingly threatened by others that they would dump him in Sundarbun in Bengal as he was and continues to be a bore! He cancelled his participation in the tour, out of fear!  

Those were the days! We had a friend Balu Kale. Unfortunately, he died in the late 70s of the last century. In hostels, smoking was fashionable! Lighters were not in vogue in those days! People would go looking around for matches or “Current” was the word more commonly used. Not Balu! He would go around with a matchbox and ask if anybody had cigarettes!  

I remember one funny incident. All the hostelites would look for some interaction with girls. Near the hostel, there was one stall selling grapes. A couple of nice girls ran the shop. Many guys would take a stroll near the shop and tell cooked up stories about their interaction with the girls. Two docile friends also attempted to show off about their dialogue with the ladies. But a hilarious story started making rounds of their valiant efforts. Our friends made their firstround independently but did not dare to ask the girls their names. So they went together, in support of each other. They reached the shop, waited for a customer to end his transaction, and then in unison asked the ladies, “Could you please tell us our names?”  After saying this, they ran away.  

Some of us were naïve in those days; not much has changed even today for some of us. Jaya and I had decided to get married when I was in the third year, and Jaya was in the second year. In the fourth year, when we were on tour, I had written a letter to Jaya. I put it in an envelope, put Jaya’s name and address, showed it to a very close friend of Jaya and me! Later, this friend told a story to others, “Look at Panya, as usual, he is showing off!” Most got a shock when we got engaged a couple of years later!  

I have not mentioned my friends name above, to hide the identity of our Kleptomaniac friend! ये दोस्ती हम नही तोडेंगे! Buddy, thank you so much! You took me down the memory lane or expressway, I am not really sure!  

Why not listen to the real song? 

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=ye+dosti+hum+nahi+todenge&view=detail&mid=CECA5E5F426D850360BFCECA5E5F426D850360BF&FORM=VIRE 

 

 

Yes, no! No, yes!

The classic conflict going on in our minds is whether to say Yes or to say No! Every day, many such situations come in our life when we must decide either way. The subject could be anything, but the situation arises where you need to take a call. We need to have clarity in our minds that No is a decision whereas Yes is a responsibility.

yn2

Life is full of things that keep you busy. Before the advent of FB and WA organising your life was much more manageable. Whenever you are doing anything, there will be a request from family, friends, colleagues and others to help them out with something. Our natural tendency is to say Yes! The reason for Yes is to make you look good in other people’s eyes. There is a slim chance that the help is genuinely needed. By this, I do not mean that other times the request is not genuine. But before we reply, our grey cells must work to check if the priority of what you are doing is above the requested work. In most cases, for obvious reasons, your work has more priority. Then your answer to the request should be No.

How to say No is also equally important. You should say No politely; you can briefly give the reason why you are saying No. Maybe you can suggest an alternative way of doing the job. After all, you also need help from others. In a work situation, people come to you because they have to reach their goals, but then you also have your intentions as well as targets! But one thing for sure when you say No, say it emphatically.

The secret of productivity is quite straight forward. Not required to doing anything is faster than doing something. There are situations where no action is necessary, but we tend to dabble into doing something. In software, “no code” is efficient than any code! No meeting is always more effective than any meeting. There is a saying, organising a meeting should follow the principle of ordering pizza. Pizza can be shared with only a certain number of people; similarly, invite only certain numbers for the meeting. In today’s digital calendar world, you get “Invites” to too many meetings; find out which meetings make a difference to your work and regret others. Do not forget that someone has called a meeting, does not mean that it is an essential meeting! I had a friend who was the Managing Director of a company. I did some work with him and was required to go to their office quite often. Once while having tea with him, I said, “You have too many meetings and must change the culture.” After some discussion, he agreed and called a meeting to decide how to reduce the number of meetings. After five meetings, they still did not arrive at any conclusion.

There is a thought process that saying No is a prerogative of the bosses. In a way it is correct, but others can also say No by being gracious!

How often do people ask you to do something and you reply, “Sure thing.” Three days later, you’re overwhelmed by how much is on your to-do list. We become frustrated by our obligations even though we were the ones who said Yes to them in the first place. It is the meaning of saying Yes without understanding the implications.

In the first place, what is the difference between Yes and No? These two words Yes and No are used so frequently that we tend to think that they have equal weight! But in reality, from the commitment angle, they have entirely different magnitude.

When you say No, you are only saying no to one option. When you say Yes, you are saying no to every other opportunity.

Assume that you have agreed to someone that you will help draft a document for her. You have given away your option to say No to her. You may become busier suddenly, but there is no way of coming out of the commitment. Your escape route to No is cut off in this case.

Saying No may look like a prerogative of the successful people, but for others, it can be a strategy to become successful! When you learn to say No, you are left with more time to continue to do what you are doing. There is a saying, “If you don’t guard your time, others will steal it!”

yn1

Saying No applies not only in regards to helping others. You are working on a particularly important work of your life. On the way, you will come across many more ideas, many more distractions. Not all other ideas will be wrong; they may be quite interesting, but you can not allow yourself to be distracted. Saying No to distractions is a focused way of saying Yes to your work! People will appreciate it when you say, “since I am busy with the current project, I can look at ideas suggested by you at a later stage after my project in hand is done.”

You need to “Upgrade” your No! As you continue to succeed and improve in your skill sets, you need to change your strategy of saying No. Upgrading your No doesn’t mean you’ll never say Yes. It just means you are programmed by default to saying No and only say Yes when it makes sense. Saying No is very powerful because it preserves the opportunity to say Yes.

How to say No is a million-dollar question and there are no easy answers! But one way of doing it is to ask yourself, “If I had to do this today will I agree to do it?” If the answer is Yes, then don’t say No. By postponing it to a future date, at some time, it is going to become imminent and you must do it. Writing a blog is much easier than saying No in real life. But do not forget to apply various suggestions discussed, every time someone asks your support. Remember it is easier to say No than coming out of the commitment at a later stage.

If an opportunity is exciting enough to drop whatever you’re doing right now, then it’s a yes. If it’s not, then perhaps you should think twice.

Friends, please remember that saying No is not a negative approach but a positive way of taking your own work forward. So do not hesistate to say No, if you feel that it is the right thing to do! Option of saying Yes is anyway open to you!

A Ray of hopes?

With the India-Pakistan skirmish of the last few days, is there a hope finally for the sanity to prevail? This blog is just taking a reference to the critical event happening in our sub-continent! A little miscalculation could have led to a war between the two nations having nuclear weapons. (Fingers crossed) The hyphen that I used above to mention the two countries is only in the perspective that indicates similarity of massive war machines and nuclear weapons the two countries have.

But I will not use the hyphen again when I mention India and Pakistan. The hyphen is used when two entities are equal in most respects. Till 1971 war, both countries were equally poor, but India handled the situation deftly at that time and split Pakistan, waiting to be divided. Cultures in the then West and East Pakistan were so different that only the might of the army and police state could not keep them together. After this war, both the nations followed a different path which was a typical Asian chaotic path and both succeeded. India has now become a significant economic power having a reasonable say, in world affairs. (With cows and Mandirs still around) Pakistan became a haven for terrorists and terrorism; it has done better than India and has reached the top! India started the journey by transferring its gold reserves to Bank of England as surety for taking loans, and now it has become the fourth largest economy in the world. Pakistan tried to ride the tiger helping the USA against Russians in Afghanistan; this conflict sowed the seeds for mercenaries and in the end, the so-called faith-based terrorists. Osama Bin Laden as the most dreaded non-state actor was born under such environment and rest, as they say, is history.

But I am not going to write about terrorism. Last year I had written a blog

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/07/24/democracy-mobocracy-lynching/

Today my friend Pradeep wrote his comments on this blog, as below. Pradeep lives in the US.

This blog addresses the unfortunate consequences of fake news, but the initiation and spreading of fake news seem like the fundamental problem which needs real and immediate solutions. None are on the horizon in spite of some recent efforts. At least in the US, anything goes under “freedom of expression”, but there are those who will believe anything. Some are gullible, some are naive, but many are opportunists waiting to advance their agenda under any guise.

Today’s blog is mainly about good changes that seem to have taken place in India during the last few days. The whole electronic media was sober in reporting the news, compared to the usual jingoistic discussions. They were reporting only confirmed news, or no speculative news was reported. The news coming from Pakistan was also taken from their official sites or official twitter handle. For news from Pakistan media, the words used were “Pakistan Claimed” to describe the news item. I am quite sure there must have been hundreds of rumours, spiked videos circulating on the net. But the WA groups where I am a member hardly circulated such fake items. If someone attempted to share fake or rumoured news, members were immediately asked by the admin to delete such items. The usual sharing of laddoos and sweets was shown on videos on WhatsApp, but this was also done quietly.

Rumours and fake news spread has been mainly because of the advent of social media. India has the highest number of WA users in the world. Indians have taken up to WA like fish in the water. But the Indian government has been pushing WA management to find technical solutions to prevent misuse. A few months back WA came up with a restriction that a message could be forwarded to only five entities, at a time. This restriction has helped in reducing the forward’s people used to make. Now spreading fake item or rumours is not as simple as it used to be. On top of that the WA management is putting up advertisements in newspapers, all over India, in local languages; they are encouraging people to avoid misuse of WA. They are saying, “Use us for joy and enjoy!”

The government of India is also talking to media companies like Twitter, Facebook and is trying to get their big bosses to meet the parliamentary committees, specially formed to prevent the issues created by misuse of social media. These are multinational organisations, so they will take some time to meet. But ultimately they know that volume of business is going to come from India, in future. In India already 400 million people have access to the Internet. This number is larger than the population of the USA. I feel that the so-called freedom of doing anything is misused in the USA more than any other country in the world. In California, a few years back during gunfire, police felt that a terrorist could be involved. The US government tried to get the data from one persons iPhone. Even the courts could not force Apple to give access to his records. So much for freedom!  Freedom is more important than a few deaths at the hand of terrorists. On the other side, the US government has a terrific tracking system of suspected terrorists. One name on the US list is Shah Rukh Khan. Famous Indian superstar has to face interrogation every time he enters the United States at any port. No exceptions.

Are we changing as a society? No, we are not. We glorify many things from olden times, even though many theories are still unproven. More than ten years back a rumour started spreading in India that a Ganesha Idol was drinking milk. India came to a standstill with this rumour. Check this video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2MG64rk6qkg

Almost 30 years back, there used to be TV serials Ramayana and Mahabharat. Their timing was 9 am to 10 am. The traffic on roads at that time would be zero! So much for faith. Indian society has unbelievable faith in mythological stories. Another remark that I hear is that if it is in writing, then it must be true. In today’s scenario, if there is a video of something, then it must be true. Such blind faith is ideal for rumour mongering.

Let me remind you of something which you must be aware. People of all strata of life believed in the Ganesha rumour; education wise, financial status wise there was no discrimination. Everybody believed in that story. This story reached my ears when a friend of mine Managing Director of a company. He is highly educated and sophisticated. He called me early morning to tell me the story. I said, “Come on buddy, you don’t believe it.” He tried to convince me how it was true.

Good things have come out of this skirmish. Pakistan initially showed a video of the blindfolded felled pilot. After a couple of hours, this video was removed. There were 10 to 15 videos on youtube which Indian government felt were not proper for a peaceful atmosphere. Youtube quietly removed those videos. On WhatsApp, some messages circulating were about how not spread hate messages. Whom to report if such a message was observed. There were messages to all to remain peaceful and let the government do its work. This definitely is a welcome change.

But this has happened during a national crisis. Will we behave maturely in future, in the normal course of life? Will we as a society maintain decorum and be sensible? Honestly, I am not sure. Let the black clouds of Pulwama disperse and let us see how our society behaves. Lynchings based on Cow vigilantes or rumoured kidnappings of babies are not going away very soon. We are capable of blindly believing and following anything. Kalburgis and Dabholkars of this world have been murdered because they were against rituals and trying to teach people to stay away from them.

Pradeep, yes, a good beginning has been made in the backdrop of Pulwama, and it shows a tiny ray of hope that is breaking through dark clouds! That too in India, of all the places! Amen!