Canadian siesta!

Friends, before I go to the main subject, I want to inform you that for the next few weeks, there could be a delay in publishing my blogs. I have joined an online course at Oxford University, which has a ten-week duration. I need to study, attend discussions, and so on! The course is an advanced course in creative writing. I have never attended such a course before for obvious reasons, but I thought the course would help me become a better writer, it will help me organise my thoughts better. I have no ambition to become a professional writer, but whatever little I write, I will feel happy if I become more accomplished in what I do in future. Some friends will thank me for writing less! 🙂🙂

You must be wondering why I have used the word siesta! A siesta ([ˈsjesta]) (Spanish, meaning “nap”) is a short nap taken in the early afternoon, often after the midday meal. Such a period of sleep is a common tradition in some countries, particularly those where the weather is warm. The word is used in the context of Mediterranean countries where the siesta is a part of the culture. But for Jaya and me, the cold weather puts us in Siesta mode whenever there is an opportunity. Cold is how I am defining the weather, but some of the young gang is seen on the road, moving around in shorts and T-shirts! We both manage to sleep deeply at any time of the day; all one needs is a warm blanket. At 5 am the temperature is 8.5 deg! It is only the beginning of September.

I am, of course taking feedback from Nikhil and Priya from their short stay in Montreal of 3 to 9 months. I have visited advanced societies world over, many times, but I am every time amazed the way these societies operate. I am not talking about technical aspects but the human elements. I have written a blog about Indian psyche a few days back.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/09/07/new-rto-regime-and-indian-psyche/

I always feel that we are in denial mode and are proud of the chaos and lack of self-discipline that we show in the society. Maybe sometimes we are even proud of these things. We feel that basic indiscipline is our birthright. The other day I was in Model Colony for some work. In Deep bungalow Chowk they have put up dividers, some temporary and others permanent to smoothen the traffic flow. Ganapati pandals are supposedly allowed to cover 1/3 of the road during the festival period. The pandal did cover 1/3 of the road, but the organisers are not bothered that the road now has a divider. Simple maths says that currently only two-wheelers and autos can pass through that area of the road. How do other vehicles go? Obviously on the wrong side of the divider!  Is anyone bothered? I don’t think so.

Montreal Marathi Mandal program was held in a church, where there was a decent hall available. The enthusiasm of all was seen to be believed. I met a few people who started this activity in Montreal in the year 1982! Kudos to them for the consistency. Montreal appears to have a smallish Indian community so continuing it for more than 35 years is creditable. More than 100 people were present. A group of young and not so young volunteers did all work including logistics, arrangement and later cleaning etc. Great job, guys!

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Similar programs are done in India but the general confusion, deafening music, and we have unnecessary disagreements with authorities on everything, taking shelter behind religion!  India’s population is so large that a huge crowd is always present, and generally, there is reasonable discipline during programs. Why is the behaviour of the crowd disciplined to chaotic? What reasons could be there for this changeover?

I have seen a large crowd and their behaviour during the Cricket World cup finals (2015) at Melbourne, Australia. A total number of people present were 93000 plus. Right from arrival of spectators at the stadium, to dispersal after the end of the match was very organised. In between people were also disciplined during the usage of food courts and washrooms. There were long queues but there no jostling and pushing.

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Whatever little I have seen in Montreal till now was found very neat and proper. There is a lot of road repair work going on everywhere. On checking,  I found out that during harsh winters due to snow, road repair is not practical. Add to this maximum temperature of 35 deg in summer to -35 deg in winter must be creating road and pipeline issues regularly.

Comparisons of small things always are made in mind. On particular days, the garbage trucks come in to pick up the garbage in Montreal; okay nothing great about it. But In Pune, the vehicles come every day, but in certain areas, they run a song requesting people to come out with garbage bags! Why do people need to be coaxed every day to put away their garbage? Don’t we brush our teeth every day? We don’t put on an alarm to remind us to brush!  In olden days a guy used to work in my office. Those were the days of the pager. He had a field job and would come to my office every day at 9; we would discuss the work, and then he would go on the field. He would fit his pager in the trouser belt. One day, I saw that he had know pager. So, I asked him where his pager was? He lamely said that he had forgotten. I told him that since he had come to the office wearing a trouser and the belt, there was no way he could give the lame excuse of “forgot.”  Some of the things in our lives become our second nature like driving a  car, using a washroom, crossing the road when we have the right signal. But why do people break so many small rules so easily?

One interesting thing I saw in Montreal. People of different age were seen running on the footpath so that they didn’t miss the bus which was arriving. Once I was standing on the bus stop watching people (my favourite past time!). The people had already done their job of getting down and getting inside. Almost for one minute, the bus did not move! Then I observed that the bus driver had seen a lady running to catch the bus; he waited till she reached and climbed in safely! What can we call this? Basic courtesy? The natural thing to do? I have not seen this courtesy in most other cities.

Before I travelled to Montreal, I was told that French is the first language, and so on. But for visitors like me, when I start speaking in English, people reply in English. The reason could be, computerisation has made English a global language and secondly I could see people of many nationalities present on the streets. Canada’s liberal policies of immigration and support to refugees are increasing the number of people speaking different languages, making English a common link.

I will share more about culture and traditions as I explore more of Montreal in the coming weeks.

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World Cup 2019 Jamboree! The Human Side!

I was not going to include the cricketing aspect in this blog, but India’s unexpected loss in the semi-final needs to be mentioned.

Jaya and I should have been in England by now like we travelled to Melbourne in 2015 for the world cup Cricket final. But that was not to be for reasons beyond control! But I am not writing about the game. I am writing about various things that happen on the side which I came to know more because of the social media! Yes, social media is great if you use it with discretion! The commercial side, of course, has been taken over by Indian Companies! Bira, MRF, Booking.com to name a few!

One thing is for sure; the game has been taken over by Asians! India, Pakistan, Bangala Desh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Though only India is in semi-finals. We Indians love festivals and watching a cricket match in the stadiums has been converted into a celebration.

There has been a tradition of drinking Beer while watching the matches in other countries. So, who is the official sponsor of the Beer sold this year? Bira is an Indian company; only their Beer can be sold inside the stadiums! There is an aside to this. The deal between the company and ICC was such that the price of Beer to Customers would have been steep. ICC/ECB jointly subsidised the sale by British Pounds five hundred thousand. Just imagine how much Beer must be sold during the matches.  Then, of course, you have Kabab Stalls, Biryani and Samosa stalls in large numbers to cater to the Asian spectators. (They are all referred to as Desis!) The tickets for the matches where desi teams are taking part are bought mainly by desis; we see some locals also watching the games. Believe me, these matches are held right in the interior of England, but the number of desis present in the stadiums was unbelievable.

There has been a tradition, in England, of a group called Barmy Army. It is a group of Britishers who travel all over the world to cheer the British teams in Football and Cricket matches. On the same lines, a group is created by Indians called, what else, Bharat Army. For Bharat wasis, one more festival gets added to their repertoire! So how do they celebrate? They came together and met the ICC. They discussed with ICC a deal. Two packages of four matches each. All ticket sales were online. So the deal was they would get to buy 11000 tickets. They would be given a slightly higher priority than the general public in the buying pyramid. The ICC made a deal that international travel, local travel from city to city and hotel stay will be handled by Bharat army. The ticket buyers have to become a member of the Bharat Army group. They are required to use at least one of the three facilities offered. Bharat Army has hired five buses on a captive basis to travel inter-city. No doubt that cricket has been taken over by Asian spectators.  One person from Ahemdabad asked his 25 family members to join the army. They all applied for tickets and were allotted one ticket. Only our friend wanted to see the matches! Indian Juggad?

In the review before the semi-final, English cricketer Graeme Swan was asked about the atmosphere near the Old Trafford Stadium. He said, “I have already seen two New Zealand supporters and about 25000 Indian supporters. I also understand that there are about five thousand Indian supporters who did not get the tickets for the match. They are going to spin around the stadium in their cars, honking loudly, to support their team.”

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Charulata Patel story is the fairy tale story of this world cup. Eighty-seven years young Charulata was born and brought up in Kenya and moved to England. There is a saying that Indians will move out of India, but you cannot move India out of the Indians. Charulata had ancestors from India and must have visited India a few times, but she never lived there. But the way she and her family were supporting India in India’s match against Sri Lanka. It was a sight to behold! She came to the ground on a wheelchair, and her enthusiasm must have been infectious. She was blowing a home-made trumpet and clapping every good event. At the end of the match, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma had the magnanimity to go and meet her and talk to her. Virat showed a nice gesture and gave her two tickets each for the semi-final and the finals. That India lost in the semi-final is an unfortunate part.

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In the image above, Jadeja is gesturing to Manjrekar after completing whirlwind 50!

Social media creates some unusual situations. Sanjay Manjrekar commented that he is not comfortable with having bits and pieces player like Jadeja in the team, on Twitter. Jadeja did not like it at all and replied to him, “I have played double the number of matches that you have played, and I am still playing in the team. Respect people.” The next day Manjrekar predicted that Jadeja would be in the playing eleven. Ex English captain Michael Vaughn pulled his leg saying how come bits and pieces man is in your team. In the match, Jadeja bowled, fielded and batted very well! Vaughn pulled his leg again asking Manjrekar, “Hey the bits and pieces player can bat, bowl and field well! What say you!” Manjrekar blocked Vaughn on the Twitter! Manjrekar next day praised Jadeja but with an emoji! The emoji indicated that it was not wholehearted praise!

How did people and newspapers react to India’s unexpected defeat? In most cases, the reaction was sensible and supporting the Indian team. Most people accepted the fact that after playing very well all through the tournament, yesterday was not Indian teams day. There have to be exceptions to this. ABP asked Harsha Bhogale whether he can take part in a program “Who was responsible for the defeat?” He advised them ” Please don’t do such a program.” But the worst of the lot was Marathi newspaper, Sakal.

http://product.sakaalmedia.com/portal/SM.aspx?ID=142726

It was in poor taste. They printed photos of Rohit, Rahul, Kohli, Pandya, Pant and Dhoni.

Their captions were stupid, to say the least. Since we all know how our team has performed in world cup 2019, you may draw your own conclusions.

Rohit: Hitman-Flopman

Rahul: Finally no show

Virat: Virat  (Major) Failure

Pandya: False Diamond

Pant: Irresponsible

Dhoni: Failed in doing the Impossible

Kartik: Wasted Chances

For any cricket tournament, India is a significant market as Indians are absolutely fanatic about Cricket. Star Sports has the feed in Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Bangla, Marathi for the Indian market, besides English. The unfortunate side effect of major Indian support is that in the second semi-final between England and Australia, there are many empty seats at Birmingham. This is because initially it was expected that India will play the semi-final in Birmingham and many places were booked by Indians. They, for obvious reasons, have not turned up today!

As I write this, England was cruising to a comfortable victory against Australia! (They have won) So finally, the champion will be a team who has never won the world cup before! Your prediction for the final? Mine is England!

 

 

 

 

The long and short of the Queue!

A queue is a line of people or things waiting to be handled, usually in sequential order starting at the beginning or top of the line or sequence. In computer technology, a queue is a sequence of work objects that are waiting to be processed. The possible factors, arrangements, and processes related to queues are known as queueing theory. What do the queues do? They make life orderly, save time!

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But one thing I have never understood is why the word queue is spelt as queue and not Q! The spelling is the quirk from the English language!  

Forming a queue is the indication of a developed and organised society. Yes, we in India are not a developed society! What does a line indicate? It indicates that people behave in an orderly fashion; if the line is too big, then there are obviously a smaller number of windows than needed. If the line is moving slowly, then the person handling the work or the work process is inefficient. Or it indicates that the quantity of things being offered is limited. (school admission forms) People sometimes reach very early to enter a match arena. I remember that when I went to Melbourne to see the Cricket world cup finals, there were no big queues! The total number of spectators was 93 thousand plus. We reached inside the stadium about 45 minutes before the start time without any hassle or jostling 

Queues are the reflection of the world. The society has always been divided based on cast and creed. To manage complications, the boarding process at the airports is handled differently. While you board a flight, there is a separate queue for first/business class and others! Those who pay a significant additional chunk of money, get priority for boarding and deplaning. Is this fair? Yes and no both. Honestly, the flight takes off only after ALL the cattle class and the privileged board. Still, the boarding distinction takes place. It is done probably to pamper the ego of a particular category. Some want to pay more, get on the plane only at the last moment. But a separate queue is a fact of life. Frankly, what happens by boarding late, I have never understood. Ego boosting? 

A lot of discussions take place on this subject. Should human rights be the same for all? Can the state or an airline sell the rights at a higher price? Priority access is given any many places like theatres, theme parks and many such public areas. In India typical jumping the queue is done at the Balaji Mandir at Tirupati. The passes are sold at a fee, that gives priority to jump the queue.   

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Many people do not have time these days and are always in a hurry! Why does it happen? It is their mindset; let me do things quickly. In India, we see many such people. On an inquiry counter, they barge to the front without standing in the queue. When someone objects, they will claim that they have only half a minute inquiry!

A priority access line allows people to choose what resource they want to use to get to the front – time or money. For many people, time is more precious than money, so being able to hand over money to save time is a boon. The other side of the argument is if the service offered is efficient, reasonably quick, then people do not mind waiting for a few minutes. The value of the service provided depends on the actual service that is being offered. If the process of sending a parcel takes a couple of hours at a post office, then it is a strict no-no! But if the renewal of passport takes a couple of hours people do not mind.  

That brings me to the passport renewal process in India. First and foremost, one can apply only online. There is no manual process hence no queues. The application is locked after the required documents are uploaded. Based on dates availability, the appointment is given online. All are expected to be present at the office 15 minutes before their appointment time. At the allocated time, people are let inside the premises. You are generally done in one hour. For senior citizens like me, one can walk in at any time suitable. I came out in thirty minutes flat. Yes! There is a set procedure for priority appointments for an additional fee! Why should this be available? Sometimes an emergency crops up in life which needs jumping the queue! This emergency could be because of real crisis or neglect!  

But there are situations where people love to be in the queue. For example, a famous cell phone is launching a new model! Some renowned brand is launching shoes! People love to stand in line. When McDonalds started its first outlet in Pune, people used to stand in queue for some time to visit them. The queues continued for the first six months!  

When people are in the queue for entry into a sports stadium, waiting to enter a theatre to listen to their favourite crooner, they love it. It is treated as recreational queuing! People chat, smoke, have ice cream and have fun. Nobody cribs standing in these queues.   

Priority queuing will depend on what service is being offered. When people go to buy grocery, they hate waiting for checking out. Such businesses are already proving facilities like selfchecking counters for those who have purchased less than ten items at a time. Now they are providing apps where the buyer can scan the barcodes on their cell phones. When the last purchase is made, buyers can pay using their cell phone apps directly. The method makes checking out hasslefree.  

Does all this mean that the class is being replaced by money? Market forces take over. I read a facility provided in an office building in olden days. People used to get fed up of waiting for the lift/elevator to take you up; during peak period queues were long. They provided mirrors inside the lifts. As soon as people got inside the lift, most would adjust their clothing, ties, scarves, dresses and suits! They used the time to make themselves presentable. The provision of mirrors reduced the cribbing to a great extent. I never knew the reason for putting the mirrors in lifts!  

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Technology and evolution have changed many things, and it has changed the interaction of people standing in the queue! Oh, I am sorry! There is no interaction, people keep on looking at their respective screens! Technology has created a new situation. When we chat with Customer Service Support of some companies, the first thing that generally happens is that we get a message. “You are in the queue. Your call is valuable to us. One of our executives will attend to you shortly.” The music starts. Shortly can become annoying five minutes too!  The “person” chatting with you could be a BOT! Of course, there is always a variant in the message! You are our Gold Customer and will be attended to on priority!

I know that with most of you, my blogs are in the queue for your attention! But I will respond to you right away if you write to me! You are all Gold for me!

 

 

  

Cricket World Cup 2015 final!

Today the 2019 cricket world cup has started. The event took me back to 29th March 2015 the day on which the final was played for that world cup. It was played at the MCG in Melbourne, Australia. For the records, Australia beat New Zealand by seven wickets. I had been planning to see the live final for a long time, and we could finally make it to MCG. This is neither a blog nor a travelogue. I am just sharing my memories with you.

It all started in an unplanned way, as usual. It was the end of February 2014, and I had just completed my cancer treatment. Since I had nothing to do, I was surfing on the net. I looked at world cup cricket details and found that the ticket window had just opened. I asked Jaya, “Should I buy tickets for a Cricket match.” She said, “Let us not rush into it. First, you recover from the treatment, and then we will see.” I said, “The match is much later.” She gave a go ahead. I bought the tickets for MCG for the finals. She was surprised but happy. She thought I was talking of an IPL match!

Well, I informed Ranjith, who lives in Melbourne about the tickets. He sent a message to me that one of his bedrooms was booked for us! We decided to take Delhi-Melbourne, Air India flight. At the immigration, when they saw that we were travelling to Melbourne, there were no questions but a great bonhomie. The folks told us to return back with the world cup! Our family friends Dr and Dr Mrs Harshe had also travelled for the match. On our flight, there were about 40 people who were going for the game.

By the time we reached Melbourne, India had lost the semis to Australia. But our spirits did not dampen; the final at MCG was the calling! Many people had travelled from India with the hopes that India will reach the finals, but it was not to be! The D day arrived. We were about 6 km from the stadium. Two of us, along with Ranjith and his family, decided to travel by Trams. People were encouraged to use public transport to avoid traffic jams. We had to change the Tram at Flinders railway station. All the Trams were jam-packed, but the rush was not “felt”, but the atmosphere was created! Weather was sunny, but Ranjith had advised us to carry a jacket because the weather was expected to turn cool during the second session.

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Our walk to the stadium was about half a km after the Tram ride. But never even once we felt the great rush or any chaos. Everything was very orderly. I was wondering how many people were going to attend the match. Each person had to get the barcode on the ticket scanned for the turnstile. There were many entry points, and it did not look crowded at all. I was surprised to know that the attendance was 93103! So many people, but there was hardly any rush, jostling or pushing anywhere, starting with the Trams, the turnstile, the eateries, the washrooms! At the end of the match, the spillage of beer was the only indication that so many people had attended the game; that too, because people carried six beer glasses at a time! People sitting next to us were New Zealanders and chatted with us a lot as we were also backing New Zealand.

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The match started with McCullam getting out in the first over for zero! He was in top form in the tournament, and his failure led to New Zeland scoring a very non-competitive score of 183 which was overhauled by Australia losing only three wickets. (If you remember, in 1983, India had won against West Indies in the finals, after scoring 183) Johnson and Faulkner took three wickets each. Elliot scored a graceful 83 for New Zealand.

Since us desi folks were hoping that India will reach the finals, 20 to 25% people for the match were Indians. They were fully prepared for the game, musical instruments and all. After the game, a few troupes danced a great bhangda outside the stadium.  During prize distribution ceremony many greats and dignitaries were present. Longest clapping and cheers were obviously for Sachin! He is extremely popular in Australia as he has always given them a high competition even in Australia!

What was my take from this match? Humans are all the same where ever we go in the world. But public discipline in Australia was excellent, as expected, the desis also behaved in a disciplined manner, while in Australia. What happens to many of our brethren when they come back to India is difficult to judge. With ninety thousand plus people, the cleanliness in the toilets at the end of the match, and general cleanliness in the stadium was to be seen to be appreciated. Australian backers were throwing expletives towards the New Zealand players while the match was going on. Those who were a little high because of too much beer were a bit too excited but were kept under control by their friends. But overall, the proper play was appreciated, and the Cricket’s four-year jamboree was celebrated by all!

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On the way back to Pune, we had planned to see the 2019 world cup final, but alas, it is not to be! Maybe in 2023?

WA & FB revisited!

For records purpose, FB started in 2004 and WA began to operate five years later in 2009. First, long-distance voice communication began in 1876 in the form of the telephone; I will not go into a dispute about who was the real inventor of the phone. Cell phones started appearing in mass scale in ’90 s of the last century. FB & WA are the apps that are used on laptops but mainly on cell phones. The rapid proliferation of Cell phones and WA in India has taken the whole world by surprise. No doubt this was aided by the development of keyboard apps in all the Indian languages. You don’t need to know English to use these two apps.

I am writing about the apps with Indian reference. A significant change that has taken place is, the short-term and long-term migration of Indians all over the globe. From my 1971 batch from COEP, almost thirty plus people have migrated. This is about 8 %, and to me this is phenomenal. Currently, the migration percentage has increased briskly; short-term migration is seen more as people go to different countries on assignments.

As both these apps are in use for the last ten to fifteen years, the etiquettes, the pattern of usage are continually evolving. WA says that they have created the app so that people can be in touch using an instant messaging system. They have definitely achieved this and more. Who uses WA and why do they use it? WA is used as a personal messenger, used in groups, by a large number of Indians. These groups are friends’ groups, family groups, formal office groups, alumni groups and so on. In individual usage what people do is their lookout. But on groups rules and etiquettes are a must. In one of the groups, I am in, “forwards” are not allowed. Before WA, forward meant centre forward in Hockey or Football. In India, the forwarding of messages on the group reached a menacing proportion. It was clearly proven in one case that by forwarding messages quickly, some people got together swiftly and cornered a person and killed him because he looked suspicious. Later on, it was found that he was a development engineer working with Google at Bangalore. A few friends were roaming around on the weekend in a rural area near Bangalore. There have been many cases of hoax messages, some vicious rumours were spread using WA forwards.

Let me assure you, not all WA is terrible. Some fantastic things have come up with WA. WA has started a language of its own. It uses short forms and emojis. I am not much of an emoji user, I know about 😊- a wry smile, 🤣- LOL or laughing out loud with tears in eyes, 👍- thumbs up,🙏- in India this is interpreted as Namaste but, in a foreign culture, it is interpreted as High Five, ✈- travelling👏- clapping. I have said about different interpretation of emojis; different interpretation can happen in two different persons too!

I hear that WA is the secret tool for lovebirds, both official as well as unofficial (secret lovers?)! Following emojis must be the language of lovebirds, but my knowledge in this subject is inadequate. 💋👄- Indicating kisses?💘- Lovestruck? 💏-?😘- flying kiss 😍- excited with passion?😡- disturbed?👩‍❤‍👩-?💔- heart-broken💓- love! In today’s digital times, it is no surprise that the language has also become digitised. NTT Docomo of Japan was the first company to start emojis on cell phones. These were created because the Japanese have a fascination for pictures.

Surprising results of WA use are many, I will share a couple with you. We have an alumni group of 1971 COEP engineering students. Some of us lived in the hostels, and our hostel block was known as C Top! (C block top floor) During some trifle discussion on the group somebody wrote a statement, “Long Live C Top”! This one statement drew such a response to the group that a lot of messages started flowing. Many became nostalgic and discussion continued on and on! You will not believe it, but this discussion went on one and a half day! That period was drenched in nostalgia! So many things were remembered, so many stunts, card games were discussed. I copied those discussions and created a pdf document for sharing with all. The document had about 20 pages! It was declared literature masterpiece. I recently read that a couple, who got newly married, had saved all their WA exchanges. Imagine the total number of messages! They were forty-nine thousand! These were copied, and maybe they want to print it as a love story! Wow, that will be a fascinating real-life love story, warts and all!  People spend about 2 to 3 hrs using these apps every day; this was one of the reasons for this review.

I am sure that the emoji exchange between lovers must be fascinating. Especially when the emojis can be interpreted differently. A person may interpret differently when happy as against interpretation when angry. Again two lovers may have a different understanding of their sets of emojis!

Facebook is another fascinating story in the digital saga. Nowadays, people look eye to eye for the first time on Facebook! Their love story starts with a meeting on FB. It is no surprise that it continues with the same fervour in later life too! The buzz word used for such a show of affection between lovers or couples is PDA- public display of affection! The couples shout early morning on anniversaries and birthdays, to show how they love their partner! They want the whole world to know about it. Oldies like me and many others are surprised with this kind of public show. But for those who have started their love story on FB, they don’t care what you feel! FB has its advantages. FB has allowed me to find many long lost friends. FB has allowed me to be in touch with my school, through alumni group. It’s a diverse group with ex-students from early ’50 s of last century to the early part of the first decade of this century. Today morning, I had a pleasant surprise! Darshan Ruikar, my son’s friend sent me a friend request out of the blue! He lives in England for the last 25 years! FB helps me to publish my blogs to a broad audience.

Both the apps when used correctly are a great addition to our tools for communicating with others. Both the apps offer free audio or video calls and even group calls. But the downside is the use of WA by political parties in India. With elections fast approaching, the parties are trying to overcome the “at a time forward to five entities” lock applied by WA. WA has already warned the parties that if parties continue the misuse, they will lock such id’s. Governments world over are also having some discomfort due to abuse by people of the group facility.

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My friend Baba Gupte on Video call on WA. Inset Jaya and me!

I will share with you the excellent usage of the apps. A coincidence is that both these incidents took place with someone in Australia. My friend Baba Gupte and I have been in touch about his holiday photos and my blogs, while he is in Australia. I thought why not call him; I video chatted with him, and we saw each other after a reasonably long time. Baba was very pleased and said, “ Pramod, perfect use of WA”!

Another incident was when I landed in Melbourne in 2015. We had gone to watch the cricket world cup final. After we landed at Melbourne airport, I read a news item on the net that Harsha Bhogale, the cricket commentator, enjoyed a Marathi play, “Katkon Trikon” in Sydney. I could not find the date reference. My old friend and actor Dr Mohan Agashe has played the lead role in the drama. So I quickly wrote to Mohan on FB messenger, “Hey Mohan are you in Australia or have you gone back? Jaya and I have just landed.” In a minute, I got a call on FB messenger. I was wondering who it could be. It was Mohan! We chatted and exchanged pleasantries, discussed cricket and the drama. He was to travel back to India that night.

How dramatically useful such apps are, pun not intended when appropriately used. I am sure as the apps, and people mature, the people will find more ways to use the apps to their advantage. We already have our weekly video calls with my son Sachin in Seattle and my Son in law Nikhil in Montreal! The apps keep people close, and for everybody, there is always something to look forward to! Maybe another long lost friend will get in touch with you; perhaps an old colleague will be found or even the old flame…. There are possibilities!

200! My Double Century and Cricket!

ChampagneGlass

Champagne time! Let’s click the glasses and share the bubbly on the occasion of my 200th blog! Let me bow to you my friends. It is your continuous support and encouragement that has allowed me to share the bubbly with you folks. Thank you very much for  reading my blogs. Some of you have even suggested the subjects. Some have commented but I am happy that I was never been ignored. Since this blog is about cricket I will share with you some mundane statistics to follow cricket tradition. BTW I am an avid cricket lover and saw my first test match, against West Indies,  at Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai in 1958! My last live match was in 2015 at MCG in Melbourne!

Initially when I started blogging, I had a captive audience of three. Jaya, Sachin and Priya! With your love and encouragement this number has reached 10703 clicks in 2017. There were 3786 clicks in the first three months 2018- extrapolated to 15144 for the whole year of 2018. Those who want to ensure that they get my blog link, may kindly share with me their e mail id; I will put you on the mailing list!

Now to cricket! Reaching double century is a big deal in cricket, in test match it feels even better; reaching that hall mark in one day cricket is THE real big deal! Who reached that landmark first ? Of course, Sachin Tendulkar, that too against South Africa when Dale Steyn was at his best!

I am writing about the ball tampering affair that is currently going on. Australians were literally found with their pants down. In every sport, there are some people who cheat. There will be some who will do it at the borderline cheating level. But idea is not to get caught. There have been some great athletes who have been found cheating, in the game or with the family. Tiger Wood, Lance Armstrong, Ben Johnson are some of the names that come to mind. Wood cheated his family in a big way, Armstrong for a long time was a hero who overcame cancer! But in the end was caught for doping. Same was the case with Ben Johnson. But the cricket fiasco comes to the fore because they were caught red handed on camera! Cheating is a reasonably normal trait in humans. The child starts cheating or lying maybe at the age of 4 to 4 ½. So, continuing the same behaviour is not abnormal. Again the idea is not to get caught.

It appears that the main person behind the episode of ball tampering is David Warner, the vice-captain. He had a bright idea to remove the shine of the ball from one side, so that the ball may start swinging. This could help Australia take some wickets, quickly! This was approved by his captain, Steve Smith and they put a 21-year-old kid Bancroft to act. Bancroft was caught on the camera during the act and his picture was displayed on large screen in the stadium. He too saw it, got scared, and tried to do something even crazier. Rest as they say is history! They were caught, they are officially punished by the ICC, world cricket body with some fine and suspension. But there was such a large hue and cry in the Australian media, that Australian prime minister too intervened. Australian board sent them from South Africa back home and further punished them by captaincy stripping, 9 months to one-year suspension. Matter over! Field day for TRP guys to give stories about these three guys!

Later I saw the interview of Steve Smith after he reached Australia. His father was standing behind him. I felt pity for him. The guy made a very big blunder, accepted it, is punished for the same. What more do we want? I hope nobody says, that he was not really remorseful, he just made it dramatic by crying. Which 30-year person would publicly cry? He has made wrong judgment, he has done something because he is naïve. Who would do such a blunder when you know that there are 30 video cameras capturing every possible thing that is happening on the ground. I am sure at least one camera will be always focused on the ball; because in cricket everything happens with reference to the ball! How can an Australian be so naïve? They are supposed to be rough and tough and have always been pushing the rules to the limits. Once in a while they get a Kohli, who gives it back to them.

This guy has a family, wife, children, parents, siblings. All three are normal human beings like you and me.  Bancroft is a 21-year-old kid; he has not even had a glimpse of the bad bad world. Should he be pushed further? He suddenly found himself at the pinnacle of things for all wrong reasons. What everybody should do is to give these blokes some time. Let them overcome their demons, let them overcome their sorrows. Let them spend some time with their family and friends. One more thing we seem to have forgotten. Besides the punishment, humiliation, and bad name they  lost commercially, in a big way. All have also lost their IPL contracts. Australian Cricket board has lost their main sponsor. The shame that this episode has brought to their country, is too much for the shoulders of 21-year old guy! With all that is known today, I think they have done it without realizing the consequences, if caught. At least for the commercial part, they would have been a bit careful; but at that moment something went seriously wrong with the brains of Smith & Warner! Please remember these are not murderers or robbers. They were trying to change the condition of the ball with the hope of defeating South Africa! Ended up making a major blunder of their life; I am sure they will never be able to forget it and history will remember them as “Those cheats who tried to roughen up the ball”. This is the biggest punishment that is like life term in jail! Just be a little soft with them now. Don’t forget that there is that 21-year-old kid involved!

Now the million-dollar question, why do I write? Honestly, I don’t know. But writing bug has caught up with me during last few years. Another thing is that the thoughts have been always coming to mind and writing needed some impetus to do it! Availability of good blogging sites was the major impetus. Like great R K Laxman had once said when he was asked why doesn’t he create his own cartoon character? Keeping poker face, he said, ” When there are so many politicians giving me infinite subjects what is the need to have a separate Cartoon character?”  Similarly, with progresses in technology so many new subjects available on the net, for me, I keep on writing the thoughts that ooze out from my mind. I am also using my life’s experiences, my interactions with friends, family, business associates and many people I meet in life. On top of that you folks read what I write! You send your likes, you send your comments; you folks always interact! That keeps me going!

Cheers folks! Wave, criticize, shout, laugh, cry but react. It is the reactions that I like the best! A big Namaste to all!

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Happy Ageing!

“Happiness is a choice you make” is a title of the book written by John Leland who interviewed six of the oldest of the old residents, 85 plus, in Newyork with diverse backgrounds, culture and life experience. His insights are superb to understand on how to age happily! Ageing is a natural process that is part of our lifecycle. We all grow from childhood to youth, become an adult and finally enter senior citizen phase. For some, this is a normal journey but for others it may be a tough call through the life cycle. To say “Happy Ageing” and actually “Ageing Happily” are two different things. For the group of people who have led reasonably normal life “Happy Ageing” is easy to manage but for the other group it may be tougher. For both groups some efforts will be needed to achieve this status.   

What is it that can come in the way of happy ageing? What can be the hindrances? Main thing that comes to mind is ourselves. Nowhere it is written that we should behave in a certain way, nor we should make certain utterances after we cross a certain age. People start saying, “Now that I have become old…”! You grow old every day, from child hood. Your age is one day more than the previous day. So, what is the big deal that you become 60 or 70 or 80? Your physically activity, for that matter, any activity is hampered even when you are 15 or 25 or 35 if you are physically unwell or unfit. In the older age this state of being not fit enough, is longer or maybe permanent. But do you ever say at younger age “Now that I am unwell…!”. You will just say, ” Let me get well and then I will do it”! We should keep the same approach at any age. Our mantra should be, “let me see how I can do it or deal with it!” An ageing person is good enough to do things that a younger person can do. There can be some physical limitations but there is no mental limitation. In fact, mental abilities are more mature at old age if not sharper. Regarding mental abilities and agility, the problems will be the same whether you are young or old; your efficiency on that day depends on your body and mental condition. It is the same with creativity; it is not hampered by age but by physical or mental challenges.  

There can be curtailed physical activity which does not stop meaningful discussions. In fact, in younger age there can be limitations of availability of time. But one should take care, while ageing, of not becoming a chatter box just because you have more than enough time. Those who have reasonably decent physical abilities should continue to travel. They should also perform whatever activities physical conditions can allow. A painter, if he cannot paint due to old age, can teach painting, explain nuances to others. Sharing knowledge with others is a great way to remain in your field though you may not be physically able to do it.  

I will share examples from a cruise we had taken a couple of years back. There was one lady on a wheel chair, whose 99th birthday was celebrated on the cruise. She looked reasonably fit though wheelchair bound. Luckily, her mental abilities were quite sharp. I am sure these things do not happen automatically; she must have been taking efforts to maintain the same, and her body has supported her! Was she happy! There was a person who was just 50 plus. He was required to have 100% oxygen support. He was on the cruise with his family, he took local excursions at the ports. His physical condition, due to need of oxygen all the time, was quite tricky. But he was determined to overcome these limitations. So, your own determination is what helps, and mind you, age has nothing to with it. Recipe for unhappy status of your mind and hence your life, is the same at any age. Unhappy thinking, continuously thinking about age and physical and mental issues lead to vicious circle in your life and you feel as if you are in tailspin all the time!   

The other day we walked to the shopping area near our home. I was standing on footpath as Jaya and Rhea went in the shop. I was as usual, observing all species moving around! The shop was located in a condominium. I saw an old man walking out from the complex. He trundled out and sat on a wall which was about more than half a meter tall; then he swung his feet and moved them to change the direction he was facing. I went and said hello to him. He was 97 years of age! We exchanged various things in life for 15 minutes, he was mentally quite sharp. He said that because of physical limitation he cannot move far from home so he sits in the same place watching the world, every day. He looked cheerful. While we were almost done, a friend of his who was my age, came and sat with him and they continued chatting. I felt that he was doing all the things that were possible within his limitations and was cheerful. Friends remaining cheerful or sad is our option. “Retiring” from the Tera Firma is not in our hands but ageing happily is in our hands.  

Our happiness index is in our hands. There are bound to be medical issues, physical as well as mental but being happy within the limitation is in our hands. A sportsman is said to be great instead of good when he knows limitations of his game and performs to the best of his abilities within those limitations. In your life there can be regrets. You may feel that you should have got the Nobel Prize for your work. You may feel that you could have been the best sportsman.  But regretting this all your life is not going to make you happy! Your achievements in life may be 70 % of your expectations but there is no point in regretting them while you are trying to age beautifully. Forgetting about your regrets and under achievements is another important obstacle that we must overcome to age happily.  

Friends, I will share one example of how I handled a situation. I was 65. In Feb 2014, I had completed cancer treatment, radiations and all. Physically, I was tired with reasonable soreness in my throat area. I faced some difficulties in swallowing the food. One day, I was just surfing on the net. I asked Jaya, ” Shall I buy tickets for a Cricket match?” She said, “Come on your treatment is just over; we will think about it after you recover!” I told her that the match I am talking is a year later. She said ok go ahead. I bought the tickets for Cricket World Cup final in Melbourne, Australia. I was physically down, but had a thinking that bygones are bygones. Let us think of future. I did not allow life to stop though I had undergone a major treatment. In fact, I kick started the normalization processes. This my friends is, what we should try to do and then “Happy Ageing” just does not remain only the title of a book, it is what live!