Mahabaleshwar Jaunt!

This week, we had a quick family jaunt to Mahabaleshwar. We are in mid-April, and we were there on weekdays. The “season” apparently had not started. We had all the Mahabaleshwar to ourselves. There was no rush, no crowd, the atmosphere was peaceful, everywhere. I went to Mahabaleshwar after about three years. One thing I noticed was cleanliness. Where ever I went, to main market road, the “points” there was hardly any sign of Kachara. The hotels and restaurants where I went also were spick and span in this respect. I hope that this is a sign of things to come in future.

We visited the Kshetra Mahabaleshwar where there is a Mandir. The place is the source of five rivers Krishna/Koyana and others. Let me say this in advance that I am a little away from Mandir circuit and I may or may not enter all the Mandirs where I go. I do not want to say something to disturb anyone’s feelings, but I write about my observations. Outside this Mandir, on the left side, there is dry gutter with a sloping wall of a house. Every time we go to Kshetra Mahabaleshwar, I rest there while others visit the Mandir. It is an enjoyable place, and it has almost become a tradition for me to lie down while others go to the Mandir. This time I treated myself to a selfie!

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It was quite warm yet peaceful because there was no crowd. Though I was pleased personally, it must have been tough for shopkeepers, restaurants and business people in general. The place is generally choc a block with people. While I was lying down, I saw someone coming with two plastic bags full of small plastic empty bottles used for serving water. (especially on flights) These were delivered to a shop. Priya gave me an update that these are used by shopkeepers to sell “holy water” from the source of the river! I smiled. Priya did not buy.

I had “my time” for two consecutive days for slightly more than an hour. I left the hotel room at around six am. I had my cell phone with me on both occasions but only as a habit. On the first day, I walked to Kate’s point. The path was covered with tree arches with my friends chirping away to glory. On the second day, it was a lawn in the hotel, with a prominent raised platform where I could sit; no one else had woken up at that time when I sat in that place for an hour, I could distinguish at least 15 different bird species chirping. There may have been more, but my hearing capacity may not have been adequate to distinguish. There were trees around with a lot of flower plants. I went and checked each flower for details. Was I meditating? No, I had my eyes and ears open, and all I could hear was nature. The rustling of tree leaves, faint scents of flowers, beautiful mix in colour Kaleidoscope created by nature showing a vast range of colours. But HIS capability of producing so many shades of green was what impressed me the most. While taking my walk on the first day, the different varieties of trees with unique shapes, some had a lot of leaves and others were bare. Some trees had thick branches which had become horizontal due to nature’s forces. I wished at that time that I was at least ten years younger biologically. I would have surely climbed up to take a nap on them with a cool morning breeze around. Surprisingly, even our ancestors, the monkeys, were also sleeping.  One more selfie!

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We decided to visit the Pratapgad area, without the climb as we had Rhea with us and the temperature was against us. It was noon. We were in for a pleasant surprise. A village depicting times of Shivaji Maharaj was created. They charged a fee which was peanuts compared to what we saw. It was neat, the show was impressive. It seems that they have a small theatre where they show some films about Shivaji’s times. The statues they had created and the atmosphere were very impressive. The guide they had provided was enthusiastic, but she could have been trained better. The washrooms needed improvement according to Rhea’s report. I will suggest all my friends to visit this place. I have seen such a show for the first time in India; we have a lot of cultures and should create similar ways of letting others know about our history.

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On the spur of the moment, we decided to drive down to Kolhapur to go and take darshan of Devi Ambabai, before coming back to Pune. Our driver suggested that being a Friday, there could be a bit of rush, but it was manageable. I went to pay obeisance to Ambabai after a few years. Apparently, with the security situation prevailing, there are some changes made. Why all the visitors were told to remove footwear outside the premises, was not understood by me. It was around 3 pm; there was a scorching sun. There were some mats thrown in to walk on, but they were not adequate. Walking with no footwear appeared to be compulsory penance. What about very old and young? Even I had difficulty walking, but nobody seemed to mind. It is a practice to sit inside Mandir premises for 5 to 10 minutes. I feel that it is the correct practice. When you come to any Mandir, you should keep some time for HIM! It is not like you go to a restaurant, take a quick bite and go away. Unfortunately, there was no place to sit. Some people were sitting on the bare floor, luckily covered with a Shamiana to shield people from the Sun.

I always feel a bit out of place in any Mandir. I bow to God, I do Namaskar to God; people follow many different rituals. Whether they do it knowingly or unknowingly, I am not sure. While I was sitting in the Mandir, there was some chanting going on in another part of the Mandir. I asked a few people around to understand what was going on, but nobody seemed to know. Then I asked a lady running a shop about the chanting. She said that on every Friday, a Pujari chants one thousand names of goddess Ambabai. At least two hundred ladies were attending the chanting. They had a plate in front of them. I was told that they have a Yantra, a holy replica of Chakra in the dish. With each chant, the ladies were applying a small portion of Kumkum or Vermillion to the Yantra. I asked the lady what, what is the purpose of doing it, she smiled.

In India, we have a fascinating combination of modern way of life and traditions. I feel that whatever one’s belief’s, one must visit different parts of India to understand and see this great spectacle. Yes, in Ambabai Mandir too cleanliness was excellent but for a few pieces of plastic bags etc. I will share with you my experience of a visit to the Golden Temple many years back. Outside the Mandir, there is a vast empty area which was very clean. While we were waiting for our car to arrive, I saw someone drop some paper on the ground. Nobody said anything to that person. The moment that person was away, a volunteer came and picked up the trash. They did not argue with the person nor did they humiliate him. They call it “Kar Seva”! In Hindu temples also we should start the culture of Kar Seva. Let us spread the culture. For those who do not know about Kar Seva, the volunteer services are offered by poor people as well as wealthy people on their own. God brings everyone to an equal level!

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Wanderer’s surprises!

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I have been writing about early morning walks in the green areas, listening to the bird’s chirping and the exercise of walking. I missed mentioning one more significant benefit that we get by the wandering. You get to see the world. One can walk with friends; others walk with spouses, but I prefer walking alone. Each way has its benefit but has its downside too! With friends, you may end up having Chai after your walk, and with the spouse, your walking speeds may not match. You have a significant benefit of chatting in both these cases, but you may miss out observing certain things. Walking alone gives you the flexibility of changing routes, walking at your speed, walking as you feel like it.

Today I walked for one and a half times of my average time. I did the longer walk after a big gap and felt a little tired. But since I had changed my route I enjoyed it. Today’s most exciting aspect was that I saw a small procession. I was turning around a corner, and I could hear some hymns being sung. There were 10 to 15 people in a group which was followed by a minibus. The daylight was enough to observe details. At the center of the group was a man, their Guru, walking with them. Nothing special but yes, there was something special. The Guru was fully nude, including frontal nudity. He was about 45 years old. I was surprised and started thinking. What sect allows Guru to be fully nude, walking on a public road? Who were these people? Among these people, there were some ladies too. Rights, freedom of speech all are fine, but what about the rights of others? Can somebody sane and not a homeless person go around naked? Should’t he be arrested? Next question would be why not a nude Sadhvi’s on the road? People will then talk of woman’s modesty!

I am sharing another incident from today’s walk. I was passing by a Ganapati Mandir, of course illegal! Religious structures may be called illegal by authorities, but in the minds of people, all Mandir’s are legal. A newspaper vendor had kept his bike parked outside the Mandir. Since there was only one person inside the Mandir, I assumed that he was the vendor. I waited on the side to see what he was doing. I thought that the person must be very religious as he started his newspaper route after paying obeisance to Him. After he went away, I checked the inside of the empty Mandir. Our man was using the space to store his balance newspapers for the next round. The Mandir was his temporary storage!  Ganapati kept watch on the papers.

On the way, I saw a pharmacist’s shop which also was a general store. I saw a guy doing some work inside. I remembered that I had to buy Band-aids for home stocking. His sliding shutter was closed. I waited for him to open the shutter. When I attempted to open the shutter, he said, “Don’t open the shutter.” I said, “ok, I want to buy some band-aids.” He said that I could come inside. Till that time he had probably decided that I was a robber masquerading as an oldie with my morning walk gear! I was thrilled that finally, somebody was afraid of me! He did not have the stuff I wanted. While walking out, I offered to slide the shutter back in closed position; he said I need not bother!

Next one is a popular event. Various houses in our area have trees and bushes. Currently, these are in bloom, especially those with white flowers. People while taking a walk, stop at places where it is effortless to pluck flowers. The flowers are plucked for use while performing puja at home. This thought is very noble, but there is one small hitch. These flowers are not from your garden. So technically you are stealing them. Years back I had checked with someone who used to pluck flowers from our garden. He said, “ I am not taking these flowers for me; they are to be used while performing puja at home.” I said, “Puja will be performed in your home using your idols. It means that you are stealing the flowers.” He got annoyed and said, “How is it that you don’t understand such a simple thing? Flowers are for God!” I changed the expressions on my face and showed that finally, it dawned on me that the flowers are not for his personal use! In my mind, I apologised to his God!

On the route that I had taken, there were good footpaths some of them are quite recently made. Since decent foot paths are a new thing in Pune, people continue to walk on roads. Maybe people will start using pathways once they are used to seeing them free of vendors!

Another interesting aspect one can see are the walking gear that people wear. These are quite fancy and must be expensive. The fashion of carrying a walking stick is prevalent in our area. I asked a person using it; the person said that it is carried to prevent dog attacks. My observation is that dogs are busy in their activities. I have never seen any such attack.

Friends walk at different times to suit their routines. Working people take their walks early for obvious reasons but so do the retirees (they wake up early). But a friend has been walking after 9/9.30. I have suggested to the friend that it is not right to walk so late as heat could cause trouble.

At different corners, vendors sell fresh carrot or gourd juice. It appears to be the fashion these days. I remember one incident in which one 40-year-old lady drank similar juice after her walk, and within an hour she died. The juice was prepared at home.

Friends use your walks for exercise, to be near green trees. Use these occasions to look at the world. If you walk alone, you can really enjoy the human activities without any pressure of time. It’s fun, and of course in Pune, it’s the cool breeze and the birds chirping!

Other than points mentioned above morning walks

  1. Take you away from Diabetes
  2. With fresh mind you get better ideas
  3. With fresh mind you review your previous day and ask Him to forgive your errors

Happy wandering!

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Anatomy of Blog writing!

I publish my blogs on Facebook. Today, I posted the blog “How well do we travel?

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/03/07/how-well-do-we-travel/

My son’s friend Utkarsh “Coxy” Jain wrote a comment, “How do you find topics? Maybe you can write a blog on that. 😃😃” I wrote, ”Sure, good idea”! So here goes “The anatomy of blog writing”.

Let me first tell you how I chose the subject, “How Well do we travel?” I was chatting with my friend Vijay, and he said that he is travelling to Darjeeling for a holiday on Sunday. We had gone to Darjeeling in December 2002 and had one full day of snow. Full day snowfall had happened after 30 years in Darjeeling. We had to buy warm clothes, and our bill was Rs.1420/ I asked the guy for a discount, and he said days are tough etc. I gave him Rs.1500/, and he returned Rs.100/. I told me, “Since days are bad you keep the hundred rupees, thank you.” The owner looked at me and then gave me Rs.300/ back. Vijay said, “ Pramod, you must be having a lot of similar stories so why not share.” Then my hard disc started whirring and “How Well do we travel?” was born.

Practice “Maketh” the man perfect is a proverb that fits my activity! I am by no means a prolific writer; I started writing blogs several years back as a hobby; it continues now as a serious hobby. My initial captive audience of Jaya, Sachin and Priya would praise me (but only once in a while). It is friends like you Utkarsh, who encourage me to write more. My favourite subject in school was algebra! The reason for this was that I was not required to write any sentence or essay in that paper. I used to envy prolific writers in my class. But now I realise that I was a good storyteller. After our game of cricket in Cross Maidan in Bombay, we used to share jokes and stories. My friend Veera was our idol. He had so many anecdotes to tell (There was no Google in those days.)

But now I have the advantage of Google, so I read and read all the time. I read whatever I find interesting. I do some serious reading, but I am not yet converting such things into blogs. Maybe I should start the equivalent of Dummies series of blogs.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/For_Dummies

I will select a few blogs where I distinctly remember how that blog was born.

I had read articles by a young lady from Nashik about how she ventured into Nude Painting. I was highly impressed, and I checked with my dear friend Sudhakar from Nashik about her. A couple of months later, I was reading a poem by Dyanapeeth award-winning poet, Kedarnath Singh. Yes, I read some Hindi poems these days (using Google for understanding words and their meanings), बारीषमे एक स्त्री! The way he had described a woman’s body drenched in the rain is something you must read! At the same time, Sudhakar sent me details about the girl Manasi along with her photos. The combination of these two events touched the right chords in my mind. In the next hour, my blog was ready.

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

Some blogs can be called inspirational. I get broad ideas in my mind, and words flow. Some are waiting to be written, but I prefer to know as many facts as possible on the subject. Once I get the details blog flows out.

Prakash Nirgudkar, my college mate, had gone through a significant life-threatening event, and it is amazing how he and family handled it. I knew details about the incident by chatting with him. But the details were not sufficient. Once he called me and asked if I had read the book written by Kavita, his wife about the incident. I had not. I got a link from him, and I read the book in one sitting. I got the details needed for my blog which was waiting to be written. Here is a link for that blog. It has part II also.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/12/21/prakash-nirgudkar-the-ever-smiling-buddha-part-i/

A few months back a friend lost his 42-year-old son due to a heart attack. The son had a history and was being treated for the issue. He used to exercise under medical guidance. When he died, he was 100 meters from the Emergency area of the hospital, but nothing could be done to save him. A month later another friend lost his 35-year-old niece too, of a heart attack. She had no history. She was in the prime of her life; she had got married a couple of years back. My friend and his family were devastated. I spoke to my friend on the phone for about 15 minutes; he lives in California. I have not yet dared to talk to my other friend who lost his son. These are the vagaries of life. After I spoke with my friend, the blog came out on paper!

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/02/14/coping-with-death/

Our life is full of running around, and we are always in haste. We hardly observe what is happening in our surroundings. But if we look at the world through a child’s eyes and at their pace, we see everything differently. I had been taking my granddaughter Rhea to a Mandir when she was around 2 ½ years old. Our 100 meters journey was always made at a leisurely pace. I observed so many things, and I was wondering why I have been missing such simple pleasures of life. Last week my friend Vijay called me and said, “Pramod, after a long time I sat in my balcony looking at the setting Sun. I have realised how much I was missing it.” With this comment. I remembered one of my blogs about do nothing holiday. My trips to Mandir are captured in the blog link I am sharing with you; it is an old blog which I wrote in 2016.

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

I want to share the story of this blog with you as the words flowed like a waterfall when I started writing. On WA group, Sudhakar had shared his painting that was of a semi-nude lady. Our group is of my batchmates; there was a discussion about should such porn be shared on the group? I said, “Porn? To me it is art!” On the same day Manasi, the painter from Nashik gave a presentation of her artwork in Pune. I attended it. Here was 30-year-old lady discussing nude paintings where the models were she and her elder sister. Her elder sister had accompanied her to the programme. Manasi was casually explaining her struggles and thoughts because for her it was art, where the subject was nude women. Never in the discussion and display, anybody felt that it was porn. You will appreciate the blog after reading it.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/11/26/what-is-porn/

Friends, blog writing, is my hobby, but it has become passion too! Without your reading the blog, comments and discussions, I would never improve further. I am also taking the help of a software called Grammarly to improve my English, and I hope it will start reflecting over a period. I was pleasantly surprised when Grammarly informed me that my writing volume is at 99 percentiles among all their customers. I hope I can write more and more on different subjects. Happy reading!

Roaming around in Pune!

It’s good to be moving around your own city but with age and technology, there is a possibility that you may not be required to move out of your home, especially after retirement. You can get your grocery online, you can pay your bills online, for cash you can go to ATM and deal with a machine rather than a human. All these things look sexy initially. But humans are social animals, and they love to meet and talk to friends, relatives, acquaintances, and unknown people. It is a well-proven fact that if humans become isolated then there is a good chance of early death. It’s good to know what new things are happening around you. When you move around, you observe different aspects of life. You know where the world is going.

Kasaba

The other day, we went to a dentist in the old part of Pune. We took an Uber and lo, we reached there in about 25 minutes, which was 15 minutes earlier than expected, and 30 minutes before the appointment. That too during peak hours! As I have always said that I tend towards being an atheist, but once in a while I do visit Mandirs on my own. I suggested to Jaya, that since we were pretty early, we could visit the Kasaba Peth Ganapati Mandir which was bang opposite the clinic. It was surprisingly empty. After going inside, we realized that it was Chaturthi, an auspicious day from the Hindu calendar. I bowed to the God, Jaya did some more prayers and took another five minutes. As is usually done, we sat in the Mandir for five more minutes. When you go to a Mandir, and do not have even five minutes to spare, might as well not go there! This is done  to soak in the atmosphere. The Mandir is a totally different world than that I live in. People were very much engrossed in praying; a priest was giving a sermon and he was talking about day to day issues, how to handle them and how to face the world. I thought it was a very good way of helping people. The priests are revered by the society; his sermon was a good way of guiding people as a tradition. This is one tradition, people should continue to follow, instead of following some irrational things. The young dentist is my daughter’s classmate and I know him well. He jokingly said, “Uncle HE must have been happy that you found time to meet Him!” To me, HE is everywhere, I need not go to a Mandir to meet Him.

Use of Uber brings you in touch with more people, a group of drivers, the way they talk, the way they work, the way they look at the profession. I always make it a point to chat with them. One observation is that 50% of them are from Vidarbha, Marathwada side! In recent four trips, I had varied experiences. One chap was very unfriendly from the beginning, and ended up shouting at me and threatening me with dire consequences! In a huff, luckily, he cancelled the trip on his own. I complained to Uber and they took a lot of feedback from me. Next one was a good person, was shocked how expensive Pune was and did not know much about Pune roads! When will Uber train these drivers about the city where they drive? I explained to this fellow that Pune is expensive because it has money and since it has money, a lot of people use Uber! Next one had his car in horrible condition, dusty and unclean from both inside and outside. I asked him why he had not cleaned the car? He said that he got the trip immediately after login. I asked him why he did not login after the car was cleaned, he had nothing to say. The last one was the best, he knew all the roads, his car looked new. When I asked him if his car was new, he said that it was two-year-old but cleaned it at least four to five times in a day. It showed his passion to do well in his profession! On top of that, he was very polite! I gave him five stars!

GoodLuck

In Pune and Bombay, there is a tradition of Irani restaurants. These are the restaurants run by people who have come to India from Iran and have settled in the last century. These were our favourite joints in our school and college days. They would offer, Bun-Maska (butter), Pastries and Omelet. Chicken and mutton also used to be their speciality if you wanted to take lunch or dinner. I was coming home in the very clean Uber and could look around for a change, as I was not driving. We passed by an Irani restaurant called Regal! I now came to know how the times have changed. They had a display board saying special treat for people who keep fast for 9 days during the Navratri festival that is currently going on! (We always have some festival running or coming or just finished celebrating) Sabudana Wada, Sabudana Khichadi and so on. Typical Maharashtrian dishes. Goodluck is the most famous Irani restaurant in Pune. Looks like to grow their business, they are also offering stuff that people want. So happy to see the flexibility of the management. Another thing that I have seen these days is that these are small restaurants and are at prime locations. With traffic density soaring all the time, their prime locations have become no parking zones. Some of these hotels have bought a couple of shops near the restaurant so that they could provide parking space to at least 20 to 30 bikes, inside those shops!

Another great tradition that is going great guns in Pune, is cultural programs during the Ganapati Festival. Many colonies, apartments, condos have different programs on various days of this festival. In our Condo, there were cookery competitions, painting competitions. Youngest was my grand-daughter Rhea who gave a three-minute solo dance performance. Oldest was a 75 years old lady who took part in story-telling. Jaya and I also had fun. I interviewed her on the subject of modern technologies of IOT, AI, VR and AR. (These buzzwords were explained in the language all will understand) It was done in a chat format and we explained the technical things in such a way that common people could also easily understand the subject. We also kept it interactive and people asked a lot of questions! This is one tradition that should never be allowed to die! This brings people together, the main aim of Lokmanya Tilak who started this festival more than 100 years back. During this festival, people go to each other’s homes, sometimes uninvited, and attend the Ganapati Aarti (Prayers) which are performed in each home!

We keep on making a big noise about traffic chaos in any city. Pune is no exception. But my personal opinion is that Pune’s traffic is still manageable. But the indiscipline is rampant by the two-wheelers, trucks and buses. They break signals, bikes carry 3 or 4 people in place of allowed 2! They break helmet rule with vengeance! In most other cities this rule is followed quite well! They enter wrongly on a one-way street! But real information that you get is from Uber guys, three-wheeler auto chaps break the rules similarly to two-wheeler guys, so I don’t take their feedback seriously. There are surprises. The first thing we assume is that the traffic will be worst in the old part of the city. These are called Peths! The roads are narrow and winding, sometimes. But according to Uber guys, these areas are much better, traffic wise. According to them, the worst is Sinhgad Road and Nagar road. Hinjewadi IT park area is known for these issues simply because of the sheer volume  of vehicles which pour on the road, within a short span of time. Attempts are being made to correct this situation. But mind you, good things always come out in humans, when things go out of control. Nagar road traffic volume has been high and indiscipline has added to it. A group of people in that area created a WhatsApp group. (A creative way of using WA) At a very short notice volunteers from this group jump the fray and help the traffic to smoothen out. What they have done is to include some shopkeepers in that area who can easily see if there is a jam. They give precise location on WA and in a jiffy these guys, wardens working Pro Bono, come out and straighten things out.

Friends, I moved to Pune in 1967 and stayed over. In these 51 years, it has changed a lot but has remained same too! Change is because of technology and migration. Pune has already become cosmopolitan, with new International airport and Metro coming up, will same old  Pune exist at all? Maybe! In some pockets, it will remain the same good old Pune but in other areas, you may feel as if you are in any modern city! Will it be able to keep balance of both? Yes and no! Chitale’s of Pune have finally started advertising and with no breaks between 1 & 4 in the afternoon! Bhelpuri carts, now have to compete with Bhel Puri shops which sell other things like sandwiches and Ragda Pattice too! Puneri Misal is still famous so is sabudana khichadi (now sold even by Irani restaurants!) Only time will tell!

Human facets!

One of the meanings of the word facet is one side of something many-sided, especially of a cut gem. Whenever I think about the human mind and body, I always find new facets in different persons and even in the same person. These facets are after all are HIS creations. Human facets make a fascinating study. Recently, I heard an old song titli udi from the Hindi movie Suraj (1966) . I had never heard this song for its meaning but when I read the lyrics, I found them fascinating. I interpreted the song my way.

The word Titli in Hindi means Butterfly. The butterfly comes near a beautiful flower and the flower whispers, “please come to me for the nectar”! The butterfly says, “I am flying up in the sky! Beyond the clouds, there are flowers which to you are stars! I want to go beyond everything and reach them, as I want to cross the limits of what I can do. There will be none to tell me you do this and you do that because there will be no boundaries and limits!” The flower says, “Don’t go beyond because you will be waiting and waiting till infinity for your desires to be fulfilled.” The butterfly says, “Only when I spread my wings and go beyond, I will meet my Prince charming”! When butterfly flew beyond, she met new people and found her new persona! She met her Prince charming and love of her life! Wow! Such a simple song but such a deep meaning.

While listening to the song,  a kaleidoscope of different human facets came in mind. I went into a trance and started wondering about how this happens. The song reminded me of someone who was always passionate about doing things and always wanted to cross the limits that all of us face. Recently I read about a naval officer who wanted to circumnavigate the earth, alone, in a boat. He almost did it but for an accident. He got hurt in the accident and it took three days to pick him up. But he held on. I am sure once he overcomes his health issues, he will again attempt the same thing. Testing limits of own endurance both physically and mentally is  a facet of human beings, that I admire the most.

Knowing others is a trait which only humans have. Some people have the ability to get along with new people very quickly. I know someone who used to go on first name basis in the first meeting itself when calling each other by the first name was not so popular. He had a knack of doing it, he had that charm! But at the same time, he had the ability to keep the same affinity with people with whom he would lose touch due to circumstances. I once asked him how he did it? He said, “Pramod, look at any relationship. It may be love, it may be friendship, it may be a business relationship. Getting into a relationship is very simple but keeping it going is hard. You need to cultivate any and every relationship. Unless this is done, falling out of a relationship is quite simple. You just fall out. But that’s the hardest. I simply cannot handle falling out, so I would rather cultivate and keep the relationships going. In love, you have your moments like the butterfly had its moments, only the sky was her limit; two persons are the closest in this relationship!  In friendship, the relationship simply cannot be explained. In a business relationship, you have many good and bad memories of successful and failed projects. Falling out in a business relationship can affect your professional work too! He said, “Pramod, mind you. No matter how much you convince yourself otherwise, reciprocation is important. Without it, the relationship simply dies. You may be postponing that one call, that one message, that one tinkle. Then you get used to not communicating. But mind you, falling out of the relationship is the toughest!”

Another facet that I simply admire is the valour. We have read so many stories of going into battles with knowledge of sure death! We have all read of late Vikram Batra during Kargil war. He and his team had a target and he achieved it, though it was a very tough task and death was almost imminent. It is difficult to imagine such an act from a 22-year old officer. What drives these men? What must be going on in their mind at that juncture? I am sure these are not reckless men but men with a specific aim and great love for their motherland! We all of us know the story of Shelar mama in the battle of Sinhgad fort near Pune. When the going was adverse, he simply cut the ropes which were used to climb the Sinhgad fort, which is on a hill. He told his soldiers that they can’t go back and that one action brought out the courage in them and they won the battle. Baji Prabhu Deshpande, Shivaji’s general had promised Shivaji that he would make sure that Shivaji reached his destination safely. Till that time, he and his soldiers kept on fighting the moguls. When they heard the signal of Shivaji’s safe arrival, he plunged into the final battle and died.

I have talked of good aspects of humans but there are equally bad facets in humans. The Sabarimala case and “Me Too” are classic recent cases of the worst aspect of humans. What brings out superstitious side of humans, I am not sure. The Me Too is a classic case of male chauvinism where males try to throw their weight around to suppress, suffocate females and try to look for sexual benefits.

In case of Sabarimala, Supreme Court gave a ruling saying that the so-called religious tradition of not allowing the females whose menstrual cycles are active. This is because the God at Sabarimala is a bachelor and a celibate! Oh, come on! What is God? Who decides the marital status of Him? Who gave right to priests to decide this rule? Who gave them the right to decide this? This is a bad form of superstition! If these same ladies go to Ram temple, it is ok because Ram is married to Sita! Sounds logical? Says who? On one side we are talking of Industry 4.0 and in which a large number of ladies are actively involved, but on the other side we are trying to prevent 50% population from freedom! The ladies can take part in development, they can give birth to our children but they cannot enter the Mandir, what nonsense are we talking.

“Me Too” is also a similar bad facet of humans and males are creating this problem. I am not going into why this has been happening. But I see some different viewpoints expressed on the subject. A couple of ladies have a different opinion on this than the majority opinion, excepting of course those who are caught in Me Too! One is trying to shame Tanushree Datta and another one is claiming that sex in the film industry is always with consent! Wow! I did not know that the film industry was a secret branch of brothels! Have sex get a song, have sex get a role and so on. Take bribe in kind so that there are no issues with the IT department, later! Forget about your life’s balance sheet when you finally meet HIM!

Superstitions, Male chauvinism is a result of insecurities, being scared of going away from so-called traditions. In olden days, mandir’s were nearby, wearing footwear was not very common. If worn, they would be made of animal hide. So, priests must have formed the rules, no footwear. There were no concrete roads, no pucca roads so walking barefoot was manageable. The black colour is supposedly inauspicious; so, what is the logic that Ayyappa bhakts must wear black clothes! We are a tropical country, the people who go there to pay their obeisance are not professional climbers or trekkers. The black dress would add to their difficulties with heat and humidity! Oh, but this is the tradition and the bachelor God said that all must wear black!

I can go on and on but I will write more at a later stage! There are so many human traits some good and some bad. It’s really a fascinating aspect of our lives. I will slowly delve in them. CIAO!

Pramod the Feng Shui Guru!

Feng Shui (simplified Chinese: 风水; traditional Chinese: 風水, pronounced [fə́ŋ.ʂwèi]), also known as Chinese geomancy, is a pseudoscience originating from China, which claims to use energy forces to harmonize individuals with their surrounding environment. The term Feng Shui literally translates as “wind-water” in English.  Feng Shui is one of the Five Arts of Chinese Metaphysics, classified as physiognomy (observation of appearances through formulas and calculations). The Feng Shui practice discusses architecture in terms of “invisible forces” that bind the universe, earth, and humanity together, known as qi.  

The title of the blog is sensational and I am sure none of you will believe it. But you will understand the real meaning of this title, soon. To me, getting advised by Feng Shui or Vastu Shastra are means to achieve what everybody is looking for as ultimate joy and peace in this world! Enjoy the lovely monsoon drizzle, be excited to see the group of children screaming and running, get blessed with a hot Cuppa on a winter morning, get drunk on meeting friends without alcohol, be contented with boiled and salted corn, get lost looking at an old Madhubala song, all smiles! Burp on a stomach full of home food, feel the ultimate joy of gazing at snow clad Himalayan peaks, feel eager to reach sweet home at the end of a tour of Italy or whatever is your dream destination, feel lucky that maestros like Sachin Tendulkar and A R Rehman were around in your lifetime. Feel eager to go to work every day, buy fresh palak subji on way back from office because the better half loves it, feel lucky that you are born in a lovely family and living in a great city, enjoy the feeling that you married the bestest person in the world. If you already have this feeling about your life, without “experts” prodding you to do them if you are always contented with the life as you have it, you have a house which is your sweet home, you are already there! Have you now understood the meaning of the title “Pramod the Feng Shui Guru!” 

This subject came to my mind not because I am a believer in these things, in fact, I am very much against such thought processes. I read a story written by anonymous using Feng Shui as a subject. A person, who was a non-believer had decided to buy and decorate his dream home; in its compound was a beautiful fruit-bearing tree. Naturally, some branches were protruding outside the premises and some fruits were always  “borrowed” by kids outside. His friends suggested that he invite a Feng Shui expert from Hongkong, though he was a non- believer.  The Guru agreed to come; he was picked up from the airport and our friend went to pick him up personally. While driving the car he would always allow other vehicles to overtake, when they looked in a hurry! Later in a small lane, a child came running on the road, suddenly. Our friend stopped, he did not start the car immediately. The Guru asked him, why are you not moving. Our friend said, “Children always run in pairs when excited. I am waiting for the other child.” In came the other child. The Guru was astonished. After reaching home, they had lunch in the garden under the fruit tree. The Guru heard some commotion. Our friend said, “Some children are “borrowing” the fruits, my security is still getting used to NOT reacting.”  

After lunch and some rest, they started the discussion. Guru said, “You don’t need Feng Shui for your home. When our minds prioritize others’ peace and happiness, the one who benefits is not just others, but ourselves too. When a person is considerate of others at all times, then this person has unconsciously accomplished sainthood. The saint is, in fact, a person who through benefiting others becomes enlightened. You are a person who has already reached the level above what Feng Shui can achieve. I am flying back tomorrow and of course, No fees. I have already earned my fees by meeting you” 

This my friends is Feng Shui or Vastu Shastra or whatever you want to call it. People do many things to achieve peace, comfort and joy in their lives; they feel that the Gurus will tell them how to do it. Do we really need to be told by someone to be considerate of others? Why should somebody guide us to do these things? We read many books, we go to Mandirs and Masjids and Churches to achieve inner peace. Do we really need to go there? Being considerate, being polite, being nice and finally being content is something that should come from within, it is like going to the prayers. 

As a curiosity, I read something more about Feng Shui. It says remove clutter for good Feng Shui. Really? Do we need an expert to say this? Will you like to live in a home where there is clutter? We have a rule in our home. If we buy something as a replacement, we make sure that the old stuff is given away before the new thing arrives. It is common sense. I saw in someone’s house, two microwave ovens on top of each other. I was told that the old one was damaged, 3 years back and they would get it repaired!

Get good quality air and light in homes! Is it not obvious? Try staying in cold countries in winter, windows are always sealed and shut and sunlight availability is very poor during those months. Then it talks of Kua number, positive energy. Find your Feng Shui birth element; are we talking to a palmist? It talks about keeping wooden furniture in certain directions of the home. Vastu Shastra talks of positions and directions. What does this achieve?

Assume that there is a square building with four flats on each floor. The direction of Sunlight is fixed. So how can the same Shastra be applied to diagonally opposite flats? I live on the seventh floor, our flat is facing west. How can any Shastra tell me that the position of something should be such that I will get morning Sun? I never get morning Sunlight in my home, ever. From my floor upwards, the winds from the west are lovely and sometimes very strong. How can the same wind and second half sunlight be available on the first floor flat?  

Are Feng Shui and Vastu Shastra and their variants sciences? If you try to analyze scientifically, you may find many issues yourself. Of course, in homes, while constructing there can be some scientific errors. The experts will give the advice to break walls and windows based on their Shastra. One may do the same corrections under the guidance of architects or civil engineers. My friend had an office in a big square hall.  Along the walls, there were a few cabins for seniors. Once I went to meet him for a cup of coffee. The whole office looked like a war zone. Everything was broken and right in the centre of the office, a circular cabin was being created. The boss’s office! Vastu Shastra was in full swing! I, of course, did not ask him any questions about the activity, just had my coffee which was lovely!  

Why do people follow things blindly? What is the meaning of faith? In such situations, the cliché fits perfectly. Common sense is so uncommon! I have seen normally smart people following such advice. To me, it is a sophisticated way of following superstitions!  

By the way, I am starting a website www.pramodguruFengShui.com . I am giving below photos of stuff that we will sell online. 20% discount on pre-booking. 😊😊

 

 

 

Jinx !

A couple of days back a new Metro line was inaugurated in Delhi’s NCR area. The occasion was graced by India’s Prime Minister, Chief Minister of the state of Uttar Pradesh and Governor of Uttar Pradesh. The line starts from NOIDA in UP and terminates within Delhi limits. The news item also said that this is the first time in more than 20 years, Chief Minister of UP has visited NOIDA. NOIDA is city of about one million population and no CM would go there, because those CM’s who visited NOIDA, lost their Chief Minister ship, immediately after the visit. So, the story spread that such visits are jinxed. In such a large city in the state, the Chief Ministers did not visit a major city due to “jinx”! This is simply unbelievable!  

On one side we are talking of Metros, Super Computers and on the other side we are talking of jinxes! Black cat crossing the path, evil eye causing havoc in lives! We are more scared of jinxes than of illnesses! Is it a way of finding someone or something to blame? In our universe there is some power which controls everything. Nobody knows anything about the power but we try to “control” it by taking action or performing some rituals. When something unpleasant happens, we call it a jinx. But when unexpected good event happens, we are not worried, we feel this happened because of my hard work. Problem is that we do not take life in stride, always try to look for easy solutions to anything unpleasant. It can be a ritual, it can be blaming the jinx.  

When we are true to ourselves, we know that chilly/lemon combination does not make the “evil” go away. Tying a black doll on the main door of our home does not force the evil to go away. The problem starts with the definition of evil. What is evil? Definition of evil is anything that happens out of turn in life, anything bad happens in life is evil. But what is bad? Is death of a parent bad? Yes of course, it is. But if the death happens at the age of say 80 plus, is it not a normal life event? Should this be treated as evil?  I don’t think so. In certain areas in Britain, death happening after the age of 80, without any serious health complications, is celebrated. There is party organized by the family which is called Golden Death Party! It is to celebrate good life lived by that person. In our culture also, after any death, lunch is arranged on a specific day, e.g. 13th day, and some sweets are served. The logic behind this is that we should bring the life back to normal routine, after the death!  

LimbuMirchi

In life when things happen out of turn, death of a young person in the family, sudden loss in business, a divorce in the family, sudden loss of an opportunity for higher studies, such things do happen. When such events occur, we feel that life has cheated us! To make sure that such events do not recur, we start following certain rituals. But does it really help? Sometimes events occur which are natural calamities, sometime due to market forces in the world; illnesses occur out of blue. By performing rituals, are you so sure that they are not going to recur? Events occur due to the reason that they are destined to happen in one’s life! We know of people who have never taken any alcohol, dying of liver cirrhosis. We know of non-smokers dying of throat or lung cancers. We have seen extremely fit athletes dying of heart failure on the field itself! This is destiny!  

The other day, I read an article about what people have done at Mandhara Devi, a famous deity near Satara, in Maharashtra. When it becomes dark people are sticking chits on trees, cursing whoever they want in writing and hoping that they will die in accident, or their houses will burn and so on! This is the reverse of the ritual. People feel that if they wish bad things for people in the mandir, their foes will really face problems! They forget that so called bad things happen as they are defined in one’s destiny and not by someone wishing bad things.  

One thing is for sure. Jinx and allied rituals are there in all cultures, world over. Human race cannot accept things happening out of turn; one interesting thing about rituals is black colour is used predominantly in rituals world over. Black Cats are supposedly bad omen but black Kohl dot on the forehead of babies is supposed to drive away the evil! 

 

In India, we see many Trucks with the famous writing on their back sides  बुरे नजरवाले तेरा मुह काला to drive away the evil! But that does not prevent some stray truck from ramming on the back side of the same truck! Let’s take things in stride and drive away bad stuff; it does not happen by way performing rituals.

BuriNazar