What decides our behaviour?

Everything in this world takes its shape, form supported by the environment. But we forget that our behaviour also depends on our ecosystem, our friends and family. When we are born, our world is made up of parents and some close relatives and support staff. From day one, we are going to do things the way the momma did things. Daddy comes in the picture only once in a while. The momma effect is very predominant and lasts throughout our life.

Many times, we think that our behaviour, our self-control comes from within but that is not so. In life, it is controlled mostly by friends, family but predominance is that of the friends. Those we surround ourselves with, have the power to make us fatter, drink more alcohol, care less about the environment and be riskier with driving habits, among many things.

Such behaviour is not merely peer pressure, in which you deliberately act in a certain way to fit in with the group. Instead, it is mostly unconscious. Beneath your awareness, your brain is always picking up on cues from the people around you to inform your behaviour. And the consequences can be serious.

Lest I forget, our spouses also affect our behaviour to a large extent. To give an example, we rarely see couples where only one spouse is very thin or fat. Such rare cases are due to some illness like thyroidism or stomach related issues. It is natural because couples usually eat the same type of food, a similar quantity of food. They also tend to have identical exercise habits. Couples often help each not to stray from good practices.

If your regular group of friends has a large number of smokers, there is a possibility that you may start smoking. Similarly, if you have some additions to your group of some active anti-smokers, you might rethink about smoking and may reduce smoking. Sometimes we tend to react strongly because of some incidents. Years back, when we were just married, we had a group of friends, a spillover from college days. The group had a predominance of people who drank alcohol. Though we were not in alcohol, we continued to have fun. But a couple of incidents changed our thinking. The charm of meeting together was getting reduced, and we realised that our friends could not enjoy the chat if alcoholic drinks were not served.

On top of that, a couple of our friends started drinking more than they should, leading to some unfortunate behaviour. We started drifting from that group, never to come close ever again. Later on, as I grew older, I found that when people talked positively about drinking alcohol, they tend to drink more. My views against alcohol were pretty strong, so I would tend to drift away from people who could not handle alcohol.

An experiment was conducted to study the effect of outside interference. Two students were brought together to discuss a variety of subjects. There would be a third participant, an actor, who would be dressed sometimes like a student or other times like a professional. Depending on how this third person intervened, for or against the subject, the discussion between the two would get modified. Sometimes this person would mildly interfere, and other times, he would give a strong reaction. The original views of the students would get altered depending on the type of interference. They hardly knew the third person, but changes in thought processes developed subconsciously.

When we eat with people who typically eat a lot, we also tend to eat more than what we usually do. The same thing happens with cold drinks or tea. Many a time, we are not even aware that our behaviour has changed. Human nature is such that if you are not sure, we simply copy others. But such changes occur if you know the people well. With total strangers, our behaviour pattern does not change.

Many eating places employ a straightforward trick. They will put some posters on the walls or some flyer on your table. These will display beautiful photos of dishes/ drinks which the restaurant wants to promote. There might a banner saying, “the most ordered food, our speciality, the Malai Kebabs”. Most of us on reading this we might get influenced and order Kebabs! “Drink our Mango mocktail to quench your thirst” is a simple cold drink made using raw Mangoes (Kairis)! We tend to order it!

There is always a good and a bad side to everything. When we realise that our behaviour can influence others, we should use it. I have given examples mostly about eating, smoking and drinking alcohol because these patterns can be easily noticed. A friend had travelled to a foreign country in a team. The travel was years back when some things were not available in India. During a training program, he would slurp loudly while drinking coffee. An awkward situation was created. After a couple of days, their team leader suggested to that person that he was the only person, slurping the coffee. That person was sincere and said that he was never told about this by anyone before. But he immediately stopped slurping. His initial slurping must have been the norm from the small village where he lived while growing up phase.

I know a young man; he was bright and smart as a student but never studied enough. He never realised his potential. His parents found that most of his friends were of that nature. They somehow managed to convince him to mingle with friends who were more sincere in studies. The student did exceptionally well with this change and now is an excellent professional.

A classic example of the personal ecosystem effect is the Pair of Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli. Till the age of 25, both did exceptionally well in Cricket. Kambli was a little ahead of Sachin at that stage. But around that time, their ecosystem started taking effect. Both had very different personal backgrounds. Kambli’s career tapered off from that stage and Sachin went on to become an all-time great cricketer. Not only that, even their personalities became very different. Along with others, Sachin was very close to his childhood friends and family. These relationships kept him grounded and rooted in the underlying philosophy of life; in the case of Kambli, things changed a lot as he did not have that ecosystem. Handling fame became tricky for Vinod!

When we are born, we do not have the choice of relatives we have, but later we can choose what we want to do in life. What type of person shall one be? We can choose schools, colleges and do not forget that we can select our friends too! Our parents and relatives are not optional, but we must remember that they always want us to become good humans, a better professional and a fitter individual. There is a natural tendency of people of similar thoughts coming together; so believe in your instincts and do your best in life. The system will take care of other things. Cheers!

 

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Alameda-Karve Nagar!

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I urge you, folks, to “see” this blog on a Laptop or a computer. There are photos and videos which will look better on a larger screen.

Alameda is a public promenade bordered with trees. The word has come from Spanish “álamo poplar”! Poplar is a tall fast-growing tree found on the northern part of the hemisphere, away from the equator. When we travel to foreign countries, we see many promenades with a lot of trees. Such trees are possible mainly in the areas where we have perennial rains. Discipline and culture are other sides that come into the picture.

My friend Vijay shared the word Alameda with me as he came across it for the first time. The word made me think of such areas in Pune. I live in Pune in an area called Karve Nagar. Pune does not have perennial rain, but it rains only during three or four months in monsoons. Still, we have many such roads with green trees bordering the streets. These are seen prominently in Karve Nagar, Pashan, Koregaon Park, Prabhat Road, Model Colony and camp areas of Pune, besides some other places.

How is this possible? I am sure that our ancestors and the current citizens do have the love for trees, though many trees have been taken down during the development of housing colonies. The riverfront demarcates Karve Nagar area on one side. In all other areas, there were vast guava orchards. Youngsters may not believe it, but this area was very green even in early ’70 s of the last century. Even today, though a lot of bungalows and buildings have been built, greenery is maintained, and it’s enjoyable to walk in this area.

 

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I am trying to share a few videos and photos of the Karve Nagar area with you. When I go for my walks, I get a feeling as if I know these guys, the trees. They sway with the breeze and are sometimes very still when there is no wind. Trees also love the first rains, like me. The way they shade their leaves every year and adorn the new ones is a treat to our eyes. They have something to offer all the times, provided we have time for them.

The colours, the smells, the rustle of leaves, swinging like crazy when it is windy!  Trees have many things to offer. Some provide shade; all provide oxygen. The fragrance from the flowers and fruits they offer is nature’s gift to us. Trees are the best silent and not so silent friends we can have. They keep creating music provided we have an ear to listen. It is scientifically proven that the growth of plants is helped by music!

 

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Trees teach us to be patient and keep on surging ahead in adversities. They are firmly grounded, literally! So they cannot walk away from what is hurting them, and cannot run away from problems. They keep on growing towards the Sunlight and keep on digging their roots into the earth looking for water.

Trees seem to be able to accomplish anything, such as being able to grow on the sides of cliffs with just a little bit of soil and a lot of determination. Best friends are determined to succeed themselves, but also demand more of you; they are just happy seeing you succeed as well.

Trees provide fresh air, and food humans need to survive. Best friends help us survive as well — they give us the love and support we need to keep going in the hard times (after a breakup).

Childhood isn’t complete without climbing trees, picking mangoes, and pretending to be monkeys swinging on low hanging branches. Like trees, no matter how old we get, we need the playmate that can help us forget about everything and live in the moment.

Trees are essential for our happiness and health, so we should give back what the trees need to thrive. Best friends need us just like we need them.

Trees provide shelter and protect us from the environment. Whether its providing shade from the sun or shelter from the rain, they will always be there. Best friends will fight to keep you safe even if it means clashing with you!

A good friend is someone that you can tell anything to and trust with your biggest secrets.

We know that trees won’t always be here if we don’t give back what we take away. Best friends don’t ask for much, but we care for them, so we give anyway.

A little bit of fertiliser and a whole lot of love goes a long way. Someone has come up with a beautiful idea. When we go out for a walk, we can take a bottle full of water to give water to a tree on the road. Government and other agencies can’t water all the trees.

Trees, just like people grow, change, and develop scars over time. Each tree is unique and requires a different environment to meet their full potential. Each tree is like a friend! My closest friend is Jaya! Plus I have Vijay, Sonya, Suya, Sharya, Nayan, Pradeep, Shashi, Ramya and many many more friends. We have Gul Mohar, Banyan, Laburnam, Mogra, Parijatak. As friends, the varieties of the trees, their way of loving humans are different! But the common thing between the trees and friends is that they are always there.

In our busy lives, we sometimes forget them both. We lived in Model Colony for 30 plus years. We had some coconut trees and a Gulmohar tree, along with many Ashoka trees in our condo. During that phase, I could not catch up with both friends and trees due to the so-called busy lives! But Lo! They both are still around looking wiser, mature and some older. When I went down the memory lane and became misty-eyed when I remembered that one of the coconut trees had to be chopped down; I lost my dear friend Dileep during this period! But that is life!

I am a bit of show off today! After my chat with Vijay, I took some videos and photos of Alameda in Karve Nagar. I hope you enjoy them. Please pardon me that I could not avoid the vehicle passage in the videos! And some people too are seen!

The first one is the beginning of a beautiful street.

https://youtu.be/xQw5hVmaXXc

The second one is taken in the middle of the same road.

https://youtu.be/itDHZAbN7pA

The last one is at the end of the same route. Look at the number of trees and the greenery in general. Let me tell you that there are business centres and apartment complexes in this area.

https://youtu.be/HAQ7hpgzceU

The videos below are of another road.

https://youtu.be/h54TClNWTf4

Here I have tried to show that even the lanes joining the main roads are full of trees! In fact all the bylanes in this area also full of our green friends!

https://youtu.be/yHW0C3Lpkko

I have already written a couple of blogs about trees. Here is the link for these,  if you want to read them.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/05/09/flora-and-humans-in-karve-nagar/

One below was written in May 2014!

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/parijatak-%e0%a4%89%e0%a4%b0%e0%a5%8d%e0%a4%ab-nyctanthes-arbor-tristis/

Who said all is not well with this world?

Dental Gum!

For this blog, I have used the title as Dental Gum (गम in Hindi). गम in Hindi means sorrows. People usually connect dental treatment with fear, pain, and sorrows. First, let me make a disclaimer or two. 

  • My daughter Priya is a Pediatric Dentist 
  • I had my first dental treatment at the age of 65, that too because I went through cancer treatment and had 34 radiation sittings. I was treated for dental caries. 

I somehow have the feeling that a person’s dental health quality is hereditary! My grandmother could eat raw mango (Kairi) easily in her eighties. I have the same ability, but I have a way to go.  

I chose the subject because I read an article about horror stories about dentists, in the US. Well, as in any field some people do not follow the ethics and can be called black sheep. Making a general statement about any whole group of professionals is incorrect. But not that I am not going to tell any horror stories (as I have taken dental treatment only once), but I will share with you some anecdotes shared by Priya with me.  

First things first, I have been brushing my teeth only once a day, I don’t do any flossing. I have never used any special brushes or toothpaste. I have had my share of chocolates and ice-creams, colas and candies. I have a sweet tooth, but now I don’t consume these things. So my heridetary theory should be ok!

Once I asked Priya about her young patients. I asked her, “How tough is it to handle the kids on the  chair?” She said, Baba, once my patients get confidence about me, they are straightforward to handle. It is their mothers who are difficult to handle. 

I am going to share anecdotes about patients, their parents, general situations in dentistry. Sometimes it is funny, many times it is surprising, but probably human behaviour remains very similar in different situations.  

Priya was treating a fouryearboy. He was very cooperative, but sometimes he needed a kid-glove treatment, pun, of course, is intended. One day he came inside, goggles and all; a la Salman Khan. He was a big fan of Salman. He came inside, sat on the chair and Priya started the work. After about ten minutes he signalled to Priya to stop. Priya stopped and asked him the reason. Without replying he indicated her to allow him to get down from the chair. Priya complied, he got down. He put on his goggles, put both his thumbs in the trouser pockets. He danced to the tune of the Hindi song, “Hud Hud Dabangg, Dabangg; after a couple of minutes, he stopped, climbed back in the chair and signalled Priya to restart the work! 

Some patients are too busy to take their kids to the doctor. There was one such lady, the same age as that of Priya. She always claimed that only time she could get her child to the clinic was 8 pm on a Saturday. After all, she was in IT. She would always tell Priya how difficult it was in IT and so on. Once the lady came almost twenty minutes late for the appointment and Priya had her next patient in another clinic. They met on the staircase; the lady started her usual dialogues of being in IT, but her hands were full of stuff bought in the malls. Priya apologised and said that she could not treat her child as her next patient was waiting at another clinic. The lady was upset, and before she could start her diatribe, Priya told her, “Look, I am a doctor, and I don’t know anything about IT. But let me share some personal information with you. My mother is handling Nvidia operations in Pune, my father runs his software business for the last 15 years, and my elder brother is working in Microsoft at Seattle for some time. So, there is a possibility that I may know a few things about IT, by induction. One more thing, when I was a child, my parents used to take me to doctors, whenever it was needed, without bothering about time and the day. Thank you!” The lady never spoke about IT stuff with Priya again. 

One lady came with her child. The child was fitted with a crown, and the child was not supposed to eat chocolates for obvious reasons. While eating the chocolate, the crown came out and was misplaced. Priya told her, “ I had told you not to give chocolates to the kid. Why did you not follow instructions?”  The treatment was done, and the crown fitted again; when she was asked to pay the money, she simply refused to pay saying that it was Priya’s fault, chocolate was incidental. Priya let her go and instructed her team not to give an appointment to that patient again!  

The next episode could be an incorrect diagnosis or was it the socalled horror story; I am not sure! I felt that it was a case of the wrong diagnosis. An eightmonthold child was brought to the clinic; Priya was surprised, as generally such small babies rarely have any teeth. The mother told her the following story. A couple of days back while the mother was cleaning the babies mouth, she saw a gold tooth in the baby’s mouth. She took the baby to three or four doctors, and all of them said that the gold tooth needs to extracted; treatment needed to be done under general anaesthesia. Since the baby was very young parents were not too keen about the procedure. Somebody suggested to them Priya’s name, and they came to the clinic. Priya looked at the child and saw what was inside. She had a small instrument in her hand. She put the instrument in the babies mouth and plucked the golden “Tooth”; it a piece of gold that was stuck in the baby’s gum. Out came a small earring. Priya gave it to the mother. It was the mother’s earring; she had never realised that it was missing. Somehow it had fallen and went into the baby’s mouth and became the “Golden Tooth”! The tears of joy came in the parent’s eyes! The father asked Priya “Doctor what will be the charges?” Priya said, “No charges; I am happy that I could do this without any anaesthesia”!  

How trial by media can affect a professional career can be seen in the following anecdote. A child was being treated by a dentist. He checked up with parents if any medicine was being given to the child. The mother said that they were not giving any other medicines. The doctor gave the local anaesthesia and started the treatment. After some time he felt that the child was becoming listless. They rushed the child, to the next door paediatrician. From there they rushed to the hospital. But the child died. The trial by media started; the newspapers showed the doctors name and the photograph of the clinic. The baby’s parents gave statements and hid the fact that there was another treatment being given to the child! The medical council did its investigations and in the end, found out that the dentist and the paediatrician had followed the correct procedures. But all the media trial and photographs in the newspapers made life very difficult for the dentist. He left Pune and moved to another city!  

Friends, life can be exciting, rewarding and tough at the same time for professionals. But some times, one loses control over the situation, and things do get haywire. Customer is always the king or a queen; the kings and the queens also can go overboard and need to be told so. But at the end of the day, professionals have to remain true to their profession and continue to perform! Don’t forget to show the smiling face, especially when a child is being treated.

 

Flora and Humans in Karve Nagar!

I used to go for my morning walks at 5.30 am. Now I have kept the timing flexible and go out a little later after 6.45. Why did I change the schedules? Cooler weather, though I like it, has been giving me a bit of trouble as I get some issues with my throat. Hence, I thought this could be better timing. And Lo! I enjoy my walks at these times too! Each slot probably has its own charm and cannot be compared. The almost zero traffic, skies just starting to lose the darkness, has its own beauty. In winter, the chill, and darkness create their own zone. But then beautiful rising Sun with the fresh wind also adds to the charm.

Another advantage I see is that one can actually see the expressions on the faces of people walking at that time. I don’t smile at everybody on purpose, but I am lucky to have a smiling demeanour, maybe! I see all the possible combinations of facial expressions in this world. I really want to catch all these expressions on the camera, but it is not a practical thing to do! One couple, maybe in the late fifties, always has the lady giving a bit of sermon to her husband every day. They should make a pact that the sermons should stop at the gate of their home. Maybe they do not get that freedom at home, or perhaps fresh air induces more energy in the sermon! I see a very senior citizen with worry lines on the forehead. I hope that it is his demeanour and not real worries! Young folks, of course, are walking briskly but are in their own world, earbuds and all! Once I spoke to one of them while she was adjusting the earbuds. I jokingly asked her, when there are such lovely sounds of birds chirping, why the earbuds! Her expression either said, look at the stupid guy or what is he talking about!

Karve Nagar has beautiful flowery trees and shady trees! It is the area where I currently live in Pune.

These areas are just amazing with their collection of flora! With the current easy availability of cameras in cell phones, I enjoy taking photos which I am sharing with you. Around 30 years back, this area was comparatively undeveloped. The major bridge in that area, called Rajaram Pul, has come into existence in the last fifteen years. This bridge has changed the traffic pattern of this area from the sleepy area to a bustling area. One thing for sure, during the development of this area, the fauna in this area was reasonably well retained. However, the types have changed. This area had orchards of Guava for miles together and some Mango orchards too. These were private plantations and later on became housing colonies. But while developing the territories, authorities, as well as individuals have tried to keep the area as green as possible, it has also become colourful due to individual trees, especially Bahawas. Somehow, I have not found many of Gulmohars, though they are around. The abundance of trees is easily reflected when we come home in the evening. There is a marked difference in temperature, of at least a couple of degrees Centigrade when we take a turn towards the colonies from the main road.  This happens as there are natural welcome arches formed on the streets, by the trees!

Coming back to humans, this area is now reminiscent of Sadashiv Peth and Narayan Peth of olden days. I understand that many people in those areas moved to Karve Nagar area when the wadas in the old Peths (Localities) got developed into new buildings. I can see typical Maharashtrian products available in small joints in this area. For example, Thalipith, Sanja, Shira, Danyache Ladu, and so on. In summer we see many vendors selling Mogra flowers and Gajare, a typical Maharashtrian love! Ladies adorn these Gajaras and will share them with other ladies when they visit them!

This area has developed well, over some time but is not modern in the sense of many skyscrapers, malls. A major lane here and there bustles with Pizza Huts, Star Bucks and Pumas of this world. But preferred joints will still be Wada Pav and Pohe, Cutting chai and Bata! Favourite Ice cream will always be Local Ice cream to Baskin Robbins and the local parlours selling fresh juice. This area also has a beautiful set of bungalows, but it has more of apartment complexes built in the ’80s and ’90s. Though we see a few Mercedes’s and BMW’s, there more Nanos, Alto’s and two Wheelers which are called in local lingo, Gadi! A motorcycle or a scooter or a moped is always referred to as Gadi.

Karve Nagar area reminds me of the Old Pune of the ’60s and ’70s with a slightly modern touch, so naturally, it takes me back to days of my youth! Let us see if there is any other “Old Pune” coming up in “New Pune”! Or maybe that phase, old Pune, may have become History and we will see only NEW, “New Pune” in future!

Dance of the Seven Veils! 

Below is a poem by Oscar Wilde; reading the poem, brought out a flurry of thoughts in me.

She freed and floated on the air her arms

Above dim veils that hid her bosom’s charms…

The veils fell round her like thin coiling mists

Shot through by topaz suns and amethysts.

I read, the term of the title, when I was reading a book, where the recovery of a 22-year man was being discussed, after a significant accident. When asked by the father of the man, when his son will be discharged, the doctor said, with a smile, that before his discharge he is likely to be thrown out of the hospital. Father said, looking at a beautiful nurse, “Dance of the Seven Veils”.

The “Dance of the Seven Veils” is Salome‘s dance performed before Herod II. It is an elaboration on the biblical story of the execution of John the Baptist, which refers to Salome dancing before the king, but does not give the dance a name.

This term stuck into my mind, and I did a bit of research to understand the thoughts behind the same. I found the evolution of the term very interesting. Somewhere the term Dance of the Seven Veils was attributed to Oscar Wilde, based on the above poem, and he is supposedly the father of modern strip-tease dance! Wow, people’s imagination runs wild!

It is noteworthy that renowned actress Rita Hayworth did a strip-tease in the film Salome.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBKvfyEYFVk&w=854&h=480

What is the reference to “seven veils”? It is the number of layers of clothing worn by women and removed erotically while dancing. It’s an act which is sensual if performed in the right spirit, but it usually will be an erotic act. I had seen an act similar to this when we went to Dubai almost a decade ago. After the desert safari, there was dinner and dance show. Dinner was superb, and belly dance was sensual as well as erotic!

As usual, when I came back to the real world, instead of the dance of the lady, different thoughts started whirling around in my mind. They were of course about humans, my favourite topic. The human mind is veiled in many layers. The more you think you know an individual, the lesser you know them. The veils slowly start coming down or get thrown off, once you get to know them better. Of course, this is not true about all humans. But there are some complex people, and more you interact with them, you feel that you know them even lesser! Their persona is shrouded in veils, in some cases 3 to 4 deep but in some cases this numbers we will never know, probably like an infinite number of saris Lord Krishna provided to Draupadi, while she was being stripped by Dushasana.

Some appear dominant personalities but after you get to know them, and once the veils start dropping, you may find that there is a super soft human beneath. A Person will be strong from outside appearances, but their inside is a treat. Examples of Coconut fits such persons exactly. A coconut may fall from a tall tree but will hardly be damaged due to the hard outer layer. Remove that outer layer; there is still some bushy covering. Remove the bushy covering, and you will again come across a hard shell. Look at the beauty of nature’s design. Once we break open the hard inner shell, you get the best natural water full of different minerals, and of course the coconut, the white fleshy part of the fruit!

Some are like Mangoes; peel them and start eating them! But be careful inside there is a hardcore! Look at Jackfruit. Its outer skin is sharp to handle, but on pealing, you will get the choicest fruit. Again, inside the fruit, you get semi-hardcore. This core can be boiled in salty water, peel its hard, thin shell and yet it can be eaten — very useful but complex variety.

The human mind is complicated, but then it’s His design! Add to this one more degree of complexity, Gender, man or a woman! I don’t how many layers of complications get added when we consider women! Or is it that a man does not understand the gender complexity? Friends, the way we can never understand His ways, we will never understand the human mind. Veils after veils will get exposed one under another! In “The Dance of the Seven Veils”, if all seven veils are removed we hope to see the see “real” thing! But in the case of the human mind, it is tough to predict when we will see the “real” thing! In the meanwhile, in the lighter vein, send me your comments about Rita Hayworth’s dance!