Another View Point! The Native place!

My controversial take on “Going to Native Place”!

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This is a very emotional and controversial subject I have touched and some of my friends may not agree with most of what I have written. But I have just tried to understand the conflict in minds of the people, that are tough to handle. 

Most of my life has been spent in cities of Pune and Mumbai with small breaks in between, when I was very young. So, I do not have the concept of “going to native place or गांव  or  मुलुख!” These two places have been my gaon! Pune is the native place for me. I have many friends who have their native places, which are much smaller towns or maybe tiny villages. So, I do not have the experience of going to the native place, like these people have. I am sure it must be nostalgic, lovely feeling. I hear many stories of these places, in some cases 50 years old and in others 30 years old. I was trying to imagine how wonderful it must be to have such memories. 

But the pragmatic guy in me poked me and said, “Hey, Pramod you also have a native place. But the only difference, between those who “actually” have a native place to go and you, is that you have lived almost all your life in your native place! Probably this is the reason you do not become nostalgic when talking about your native place!” Remembering olden days, enjoying the memories of old times is the best thing that a human has, which nobody can take away, ever! It’s must be fun and emotional  to go down the memory lane and enjoy oneself. I was talking to my friend Ram, who has his native place, a small town. He recently traveled to his native place. He shared with me the same thoughts as I visualized. He was nostalgic, he remembered many old things right from his grandfather’s time.  

The difference in the “native place” of others and my native place is that many of my friends from olden times are still in my native place, in fact some of them are still living in the same dwellings. I have seen my native place change in front of my eyes! Whereas in the “native places” that come up in discussion have changed from villages to much bigger villages or towns. Towns have become much bigger towns. When I think about this, I always felt how people feel when they go to native places that have lost many things to Time! How many of the old friends live there? If they have lived there all their lives, then have they changed with time? Do you have things common with them after 50 years? Are these things relevant today? 

I came across a poem by Kedarnath Singh, a Gyanpeeth award winner. The Poem is “Gaon Ane Par”!  (“On arriving at my native place”) First few lines of the poem are  

अब आ तो गया हूँ 

पर क्या करुँ मैं? 

एक बुढे पक्षी की तरह लौट-लौटकर 

मैं क्यों यहां चला आता हूँ बार -बार ? 

Below lines are my humble attempt to translate in English, the crux of what Kedarnathji has said. 

” I have come back to my native place,  

to do what?  

I keep on traversing here like an old bird,  

why do I keep coming here, again and again”? 

He is confused and it is obvious that he is not sure why he keeps on doing this. Are these the same people for whom I come here? He muses further. But when I see them, I need to go back in the old time-frame. These are the same people who are mine or are they mine? I don’t know where they live but why am I insistent that this is my home? 

The confusion in the poet’s mind is what happened in my mind too, about my friends who go to their “native place”. Their old homes where ever they lived, in most cases, do not exist. These have been replaced by new structures and maybe have new ownership. None of their close relatives live there. None of their old friends live there. Except for nature, the sea, the river, the hills everything else has changed. The people whom they see, are unknown to them like what you have in big Metros, the anonymous. School building has changed completely or a business center is built in its place. Landmarks of olden times have simply vanished. So, what do my friends go there for? For the name of that place? The place which has become foreign to what is in their minds!  

I am sure that there will be some nostalgic memories about some very specific things, which still exist. In my case, where I lived in my childhood in Mumbai, the same building still exists and is bit renovated. Families don’t live there anymore and a charitable trust runs an institution in that building. This institution provides low cost stay for people from outside Mumbai who are required to come and stay for medical treatment, a noble cause. But its presence kicks me in the butt and tells me how time has flown. There is zero  chance that someone will even vaguely know me. Will I become nostalgic by just entering those rooms where I lived in my childhood? To me nostalgia is something with a human touch. At least in my case, luckily, the building exists as it was in 1965! 

The poet further meanders with lines, what should I do to make people in the native place feel that I am one of them? They are mine, or are they? For whom I am writing this poem, will they ever read my poem…. should I touch someone, can I hug someone? He has a small fear in his mind. He has become a Dilliwala, a person from Delhi! He is not sure if his “Delhi” version will come in the way of their hug! These and other lines of  the poem have beautifully brought out the conflicting thoughts of this community of people going to their “native place”. Ram felt that very small percentage of people going back to native place feel really connected. Is it the pilgrimage taken out of some compulsion?  

There is new “going to native place” phenomena due migration to different countries. These people and people receiving them in the country of birth, naturally have different viewpoints. But it is painful and slightly embarrassing to know what some people have said about their native place. The well-known actor Priyanka Chopda said the other day, ” What I miss about India, is that I cannot reach the film sets late for work in the USA”, where she works currently! A young 30 something CA, a finance professional in Sydney, Australia said, when asked what he misses about his native country India? He said, ” Next week, I am going to Delhi for a holiday and break these damn traffic signals 30 to 40 times in first two days; I am fed up of straight jacketed life in Sydney”. If these persons were saying these things jokingly then they have a dark sense of humour!  

I can understand nostalgia, old memories and lovely times spent in the native place. But I think one should be more pragmatic about basics. When a lot of time has passed, maybe humans tend to become too dogged in thinking that nothing has changed in the native place. When you were young, your family, your culture of that time (cultures do change with time), your friends of that time, also change from the way you remember them. It is your mother or aunt or elder sister who were giving you the love and the lovely food of those times! So maybe the “going to native place” is the journey like jumping from a plane, using parachute! The thud you hear when you reach the ground is what brings us back to reality!  

 

 

Who packed my Parachute?

Are you a parachute packer? Become one!

My friend Vivek sends me some beautiful videos and stories. One story he sent me, is a story about a fighter pilot, who was required to para jump out of his airplane. Pilot asks a question, “Who packed my parachute?” For the pilot, parachute is the backup that is life and death for him. In our lives all of us have someone in the back ground who packs our parachutes. Not all of us are pilots and not all our situations are life and death situations. But day to day  situations arise where we need support.

In case of the pilot, his official back up system which has the safety person, who handles important function of packing his Parachute, performing this duty to perfection! I felt that “Packing the Parachute” is a metaphor for support system in our everyday life. In our lives, we also have parachute packers. They are always working in background and they are relentless and selfless in their work. Nature of this work is quite serious, this needs to be done consistently day in and day out. We think that practice sorties taken by Airforce pilots are very important for the safety of our nation but the parachute packers like those who pack the parachute, those who perform the maintenance of the Aero planes are equally important. The Airforce pilots are parachute packers for the nation’s defense!

In humans and other species, mothers pack the parachute till the baby is on its own. Only thing that changes is the duration of this initial support system. In birds it may be a few days, in humans it is till the child becomes independent. But in the mind of the mothers in humans, this support system lasts life-long! How does this happen? Why this is done? Such  support system is without any expectation from the child in return! Mothers have carried their child in the wombs and this creates an affinity that cannot be described, it cannot be explained. It is just there. Even when one becomes older, the mothers have a knack of knowing what is happening in your mind, if something is wrong with your health, when you need physical support or mental support. The mothers will leave everything else, to pack the Parachute for the child.

Unstinted support that is given is sometimes not known to us and is most unexpected. I have shared this story in a blog in March 2014. When a dangerous industrial safety situation arose in a factory, the plant was evacuated. The plant-in-charge and a colleague decided to inspect the situation. Things were brought under control by their actions. When the in-charge turned to go away from the danger zone, after finding things were under control, he saw 4/5 workers standing just behind him. He said, “I told you to evacuate, why did you come inside?” The reply was, “Sir, when you were in a dangerous situation, we were just behind you to help, if needed!”.

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These are Parachute packers of our life. In our life we have friends, family and others who may not be close to you on day to day basis. These persons or group of people are just there behind you, just in case, if needed. How does this happen? What makes people think differently than others? Is it the love between two humans, not necessarily equals? Is it inborn in the people? In normal course your parents, sibling’s, close relatives and friends are expected to be such people, but there have been instances when this group of people have remained spectators. Your parachute packer, lurking in the background, raised his hand! 

Do we work on creating such support system? Is such support quid pro quo? No, it is definitely not quid pro quo! Such people are simply born that way. Like mothers, these people also pack your parachute because they just want to do it! Who does not need parachute packers in their lives? I feel that all of us, need such people in our lives. It is simply because money can’t buy everything. There are some situations where you may have financial where withal but that does not get support you are looking for; you may be two minds about the decision to be taken in a tough situation. You may feel lost in a situation; Parachute packers are there to you in the background. You go to them and they will help you. Or maybe sometimes they will come to help you without your calling them. 

In case of the Parachute packer for the pilot, parachute packing is his job, it is his work. But I am talking of those who support others on their own, because they just want to do so. I will share with you a story about a professional. He was a very smart professional in technical marketing field. He had exceled in his job and everything looked hunky dory, from a distance. One day he went to see a friend of his. They were good friends but did not meet regularly. Our man told his friend, let’s go out somewhere. They went and settled near a lake; the guy looked very upset and tense. He said, please help me I have an issue in my job. The problem was that gentleman had simply started hating his job; and going to office, daily,  was a big “No, No” for him. He did not have any professional issue, and he was not sure what caused this. He also said that once he felt like committing suicide. His friend talked to him for some time and helped him to decide to quit that job. He nursed him back to normalcy. The gentleman took another job and is very happy with his life for last 30 years. The person who did this is a close friend of mine. I asked him why this friend came to him? He is still not sure, but my friend spent almost 3 months in nursing that person back to routine; they have met only once after that episode in, 30 years!

Why was my friend approached in this situation? My analysis is that my friend is a great listener, he is a person with empathy, he is very sharp and can judge things in correct perspective, quickly. He is not afraid to call spade a spade! And most important is that during this critical phase took special efforts to find time for this gentleman who was in difficulty! Is that description of a Parachute Packer? I don’t know but my description should be at least 85% correct. Friends could you help me in finding balance 15% qualities which I could not define? I wish I had at least 50% of these qualities in me! Happy Parachuting!

Complex circles called Life!

My take on complexities of Life!

 

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Today I came across this poem, it could be about a Mother. I will be swapping term mother for parents during the blog as in relationships , mother is prominent. आई, जननी, माता, मा are different names of the  epitome of human relationship. This relationship is one that cannot be compared with anything else in the world.  Mother is the ultimate giver and in the end also she is giving her last but lasting and valuable suggestion,  to us about letting her go!

Only a child and the mother have real closeness during pregnancy before the child is born. Their heart and breathing patterns have the same rhythm during this period. The term “cutting of Umbilical Cord” is used when time comes in Guru Chela type of relationship, to part! Once this Cord is cut, the child slowly gets away from common rhythm; if the child is upset or crying, the mother holds the child to the bosom, the child probably recollects the old rhythm and starts to quieten down. This is the strength of the rhythm.  The child starts growing, the influence of mother starts diluting because of many more interactions with the real world.  Mother feels that her child is going away from her. Child starts recognizing  friends, cousins, uncles, later on associates and the list is ever increasing. Though the intensity may not change, time together starts reducing. The mothers go out of their way to raise, teach their children about life in general. They educate them, they help them physically to learn to walk, talk, and sing and what have you. Mother is the All in One teacher of everything for the child. Mothers do so many sacrifices for their child, but it will be separate subject for discussion.

When the mother teaches the child about growing up, she teaches the child many things including relationship after marriage. Post marriage dilution is the biggest one and mother sometimes find it very difficult to handle. Dilution also occurs on arrival of more children in family. In all this teaching, mothers tend to forget to “learn”. When a person gets married, in the initial phase the closest inner circle will be Husband-Wife, next will be Parents from both sides in a tight circle; these two circles may cross each other regularly. Siblings, grandparents are in the next circle. When a child arrives in the marriage, the inner most circle is naturally Husband, Wife and Child. Parents get shifted to slightly loose outer circle and similar shifting takes place for all circles. As the children grow, Parent’s support system may not be needed and the “tight” outer circle becomes a normal outer circle with corresponding shifts in other circle.

Later, Parents grow older and in reverse they may need some support. This is where the unfortunate but unavoidable struggle starts. The support could be physical, financial and mental support. Physical support means actual physical support, this can be provided by children themselves or by supporting staff. Financial support depends on the means jointly available with the family or individually with parents. Mental support is one which is tricky. Children are busy in their own things and their availability for parents may  reduce. But the mother is always comprehensible, intelligible and straight forward. In most cases she knows how to remain a little distant as situation demands.

The poem above, reflects the thought process of a parent, at sunset of life. Parent suggests that children should let go when their time to go arrives. This is the ever giving nature of the parent, who wants to help children to deal with the tough situation.

Now a practical person in me is stirred and some thoughts came in mind.  Our society has changed a lot, in last 50 years and many good things have happened but some tough situations are bound to be there. In olden days, in my Grandfathers time joint family was the norm and now nuclear family is the norm. In olden days life spans were much shorter. Now with better treatments, medicines longevity has gone up. So there will be many parents who will be around for a long time and they will be  “with problems”.

How can the children give back? Is there a mandate to give back? No I don’t think so. I also hear a discussion about giving back to society! In the “giving back” culture, should your parents come at the top of hierarchy? Its a tough call in busy life! Especially if you do not live in the same city. I see and hear about such situations regularly. How do I solve my dilemma? Mom can you help him resolve this one last time?

 

By God’s Grace !

Believe in HIM and things fall in place!

I had shared some photos, taken by me,  on Facebook and WhatsApp with friends. My friend Vijay sent me the following message.

“When you see this kind of natural spectacles you get immersed in the vastness- be it Skies- Oceans- huge land spreads- deserts- green lush spreads- mountains and – – – – I don’t know what happens to others, but I get God feelings……”

Vijay, you stole the words from me! This world is so full of good things, that sometimes it is difficult to be negative. This is too general a statement, life can be tricky, tough and sad for many. Usually there are two extremes in everything. But it averages out in most cases, life is made of good and the bad things. Since things yo yo between good and bad, we can enjoy the good part. But I always wonder, why some people always take things negatively.

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When they are in negative mode, they take advise from palmists, gurus and believe in and perform some very weird rituals! I know of someone who is not keeping well for some time; the sickness is pretty bad and almost irreversible. I can understand that person trying different non-conventional options. Along with this, the methods mentioned above are also tried out. Since, this person’s medical case is bad, it is understood that person remains in negative frame of mind.  But due to negative frame of mind, that person follows same extreme methods and thought process, for any small thing going wrong with the family. Except that person’s major illness, nothing abnormal is happening in the family. Someone changing a job, someone having temporary setback in business, it’s is all treated in the same way, very negatively!

Why people think this way? How they become so negative? All of us, always see the same things in the world, same sky, same trees, same clouds and rain, feel the same weather, listen to the same birds. But facilities of some persons get shut to such feelings. With this frame of mind, they disturb the atmosphere in homes, though unwittingly. (One queer thing I observe when I take my walk in the morning. People have ear buds and they are either listening to songs or talking on  cell phone, while walking! Nature for them doe not exist)

I know of another family who had land disputes, ancestral family disputes and what have you. There was always tense situation in the home, within the family, within extended family! The siblings had stopped talking with one sibling since last thirty years. Once while having a coffee with one of the sibling, the same old subject came out. Of course, the situation was explained to us, vehemently. At the end when the things cooled down a bit, they got excited even while explaining to me, I asked a simple question. What did all of you gain? They had no answer. Then I said is it ok if explain the situation. They said ok. I said, ” You all did not talk your one sibling for thirty years.” All included their mother too! I further said, ” You have lost that precious time when there could have been so many enjoyable moments.” End of story is, there is no progress in property dispute. The case has not even gone to court! There were skirmishes within other siblings also, so there was no agreement about anything!

People believe in reincarnation, but I am a firm believer of one life! At any time during our life time, we do not know how much more time we have on this earth; it could be one second, it could be many more years! God is great and by His Grace so many good things are there right in front of us. God has given great brain to humans and it has been used mostly in a very productive and gainful manner. These days you dream of somethings which is considered fictional, at that time. In next ten or twenty years, these things are already there in real life use. That is also a beauty that we tend to miss.

Our generation, which is around 70, has seen so much variation that according to me it is more than enough for three life times. Some people take it in a very positive manner and some people keep on cribbing. They say, these days things are not as they were in our times. I tell them, “This is our time”! Some of us are lucky that with their goodish health, and reduced or no responsibilities, they can really enjoy life. They can travel, they can chat with friends, some people are called out of their retirement to give back more by some organizations. Some have started painting. My friends Anil and Pravin are enjoying their full love for music. Anil plays saxophone professionally and Pravin has formed his troupe and gives shows, where they sing melodious songs to different themes. These things my friends, are possible only because of His Grace!

I know of some families, who have suffered all the time for years together. But I have seen some of them who still have smile on their face. I asked a friend whose family has suffered with many setbacks for a long time, the secret of his smile. I asked him the secret of positivity. He said, ” Pramod, we have a tendency to blame HIM when things go wrong; but we forget to thank HIM when good things happen for us. So, if you remember that everything is due to God’s Grace, it is very easy to remain positive”.

I am sharing more of His Grace below! Nature most of times has only good sides. The photos above and photos below were Sunrise and Sunset on the same day!

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At the end of the day!

Meandering through life with love, faith, humility, gratitude and empathy!

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Pramod somehow managed to make Internet Genie run at the high speed that was expected of him. Genie as usual started narrating a story. He started with a question, “At the end of any day what will you consider as your greatest achievement?” Pramod knew that if he uttered a word, Genie would slip out of his control and system will hang! So Pramod did not give any reply to the question asked.

As usual Genie kept on talking. Pramod, I know that life is full of great many options. You can be a great businessman, or you can be a great professional or a great sports person, or an artist. But what would you call your real achievement? Will you be happy if people say that Pramod is very smart guy, but he is an even better human being? What have been your targets in life? What have been your goals in life?

Pramod, today during at an event for a book release, about overcoming the loss of a spouse, a speaker said that between spouses four things are very important love, faith, humility, gratitude. That is succinct way of putting things across. These four words define the closest relationship in the world where you are friends, lovers; you fight and make up! You sacrifice for each other and you are proud of each other. You give tit for tat in anger and love in equal measure! If similar thoughts can be extended to other relationships in life, Pramod, I would add empathy!

How are the relationships formed and sometimes broken in life, Pramod? When the deficit of any of the five points starts on a regular basis, relations can sour but Pramod there is no reason to break any relationship. People may drift apart but reaching a breaking point is not necessary. One can agree to disagree but what is the point in breaking a relationship. There is only one life to live.

Pramod, I have seen how you have managed the relationship in life! I have been tracking you, though you may not know! Once I remember your son asked you if summer training was possible in Cummins. You told him, “Let me call someone”.  Next day it was arranged. Your son asked you the next day, “Hey dad! How come you always say, let me call someone for any and everything?” You just smiled.

Pramod the other day an old business friend of yours read your recent blog and after a brief exchange of messages, you phoned him. He was so happy that at the end of your chat, he said, “Will it be ok if I barge into your office right away? After listening to your voice, so many old memories kicked in, I feel that I must come and see you right away.” He came to your office in 15 minutes for a cuppa!

Pramod, you have always managed to keep professional and personal relationships in the right perspective but with your attitude and natural friendliness, even you also did not know when professional relationships changed into personal respectful relations. You have become a sounding board for many, people simply share anything and everything with you. You have unknowingly or maybe knowingly applied all the five principles of life in a beautiful way. This has made you a natural aggregator of friends. Pramod, I remember once you had told me about your mother’s opinion about you. She had told someone, “Pramod does not need alcohol to get drunk. Meeting or talking to a few friends is enough for him!”

Genie continued. He said, Pramod you should be proud that this continues well and true in the next generation; and this transition augurs well for the world, if your way of thinking becomes part of inheritance! Yesterday, you met your new neighbour in the lift (elevator). In that one minute, as only Indians can do, you knew details about each other. One thing led to another and you invited him for a cuppa to your home. I know how you managed to convince a person, you had met only for one minute, to come over to your home. He happened to work with your son Sachin, in a company called PTC, about ten years back.  Sachin lives in the US and his friend was working for Pune office of PTC. After half an hour, his friend got up to go home and took a promise from you to visit them over a weekend. While going he said, “Pramod, Sachin was my manager in PTC. When he decided to change his job and move to Microsoft, many of us reporting to him cried!” They were all young professionals, in thirties! You asked him to explain more about this. He said, “Pramod, Sachin is a rare person, who is very smart and he has love, faith, humility, gratitude and empathy. He carried his team together in a beautiful way. I never knew that this is possible in a professional relationship.”

Pramod, I want your reply on this as I know you have strong views!! Pramod just could not keep quiet. He said, “Genie you seem to in mood to praise me and for a change I really do not know what to say! I am happy that you like what Sachin and I are doing in a natural way. I have never tried to form a relationship, they just happen. I could switch to first name basis, in first or second meeting with most, though it was not so popular in late 80’s and early 90’s. I could keep separation of work and personal relationship easily, so at the end of a tough meeting, I would enjoy a cup of tea as if nothing had happened. Come to think of it, my mother had a very easy way of knowing new people and had her friendly relationships with many. It is probably HIS way of passing the right genes down the generations. So, my greatest achievement in life is long list of people who are my friends!”

With this statement Pramod broke the golden rule of silence that Genie had locked him in.  At that instant Genie slipped out of Pramod’s grasp, Genie’s speed became equivalent of 2 G and system hung!  Genie could not help but make a passing remark before escaping. ” I am sure if the world is full of persons like you and your son, and of course your mother, all is well. 9/11 and 26/11 are just blips!”

 

 

True & False -Smart & a Half Species!

What is truth? It is a real question that has to be looked at the way our Universe performs. Whatever Universe does is flawless. Why it is flawless, because it always follows rules, it always follows the path of truth. Do we see any accidents in the Universe as we see on our own earth? Do the Sun and the Moon ever ram into each other? At the end of every day, you always get the night and never a day! Why? Because rules are followed to the last T! Do birds wake up at midnight? Never because they follow the rules. They go “home” at the pre decided time which is set by the nature and go to sleep to wake up early morning again as per rules set by the nature. In winter I see birds flying back to their nest maybe at 5.45 in the evening but in summer they fly back at 6.45 in the evening, again following the rules of nature as the days are longer in summer. Classic case of nature’s rules being followed is by Polar Bears. It is a recorded fact that all the Polar Bears in a certain area go into winter hibernation sleep exactly at the same time on the same day!

If we compare adjectives “True” and “False” then true fits the Universe and the only species that fits false in this Universe, is the human race. Truth depicts the Universe and Falsehood depicts the human race. The Universe is existing for millions of years and the time for which the human race exists is blip on that time scale. Human race has evolved from the same eco system as the Universe. But why the human race is so different in comparison with other species!

Is it the evolution of brain? Is it the evolution of physical attributes like being able to walk on two limbs! Is it because humans are the only species who can make use of thumbs of their hands. If we think of brain and body coordination monkeys are way ahead of humans. But what is it that has made humans different- not better! What is the reason behind human deceit? How this attribute is so much developed? From where has this trait evolved? I am not an anthropologist but I am sure studies have been made to study the evolution of human attribute of deceit.

Survival of the fittest has been the motto of the Universe. Right from the beginning, there have been fights on “ownership” of the Eve, later on other “assets” came into picture. In all other species, this is decided by fighting amongst each other to decide. Human society has evolved over a period of time, and has created a system of marriage (trying to follow rules?). Yes rules are broken in the marriage system also but maybe the percentage of rule breakers is still manageable. How do they manage divorce in monkeys or lions? Or they don’t have system of divorce!

Human race has made great progress compared to other species. Is falsehood the attribute needed for progress? I know of attributes like drive, passion, thinking out of box that help one to go ahead of others but human species has a special attribute of falsehood or deceit which is not present in other species. Humans deceive, cheat and in general try to break rules where possible. A lion catches a deer as his prey and will eat till his stomach is full. He will walk away once he is full. A cat will drink milk but when it is done, it will just walk away. We humans also follow rules in initial phase of our life. A child will normally never over eat. The child just refuses to eat when full. But the mother of the child will always think that the child is eating less, and she will force more food than needed. End result the child will vomit.

What is it with breaking of rules? Humans will break rules while driving, while paying his taxes, while he is wooing his fiancée, in short at every stage in life if possible rules are broken. In some countries this percentage is less because Government is more vigilant! We really don’t know if it is necessary to break rules to achieve something. A businessman friend of mine, once showed me the calculation how he could make a lot of money by cheating on paying income tax. A month after this discussion, his whole family was raided by income tax department at 7 am. I met him a couple of days after the raid. He was very sad, naturally! After some time he said that he was very sad. I said that I can understand. He said he was not sad because of the raid. “Expense” for raid was budgeted for. But he was sad because his mother asked him a question, “When we have so much why you are cheating?” He had no answer and that made him sad. Ultimately we have to answer to HIM if not to your own mother (who anyway is GOD), is it not? I always keep on thinking how the world will be, if nobody breaks rules? Is it my utopian thinking?