Old is Gold or YOLD!  

My friend Vijay shared with me an article about the concept YOLD, the Young OLD! It reminded me of a conversation I had with another friend and classmate Dhananjay. Once while chatting, Dhananjay said, “In my home, the situation has become tricky. People in the outside world consider me as a senior citizen; but since both my parents live with me, my father sometimes does not realise that I am reaching the age of seventy. So, I am a junior-senior citizen in my home!” That was a terrific observation. We forget these things quite quickly. There is a saying, “When your son can wear your shoes, start treating him as a friend!” Okay, ladies, sorry! “When your daughter starts using your lipstick, start treating her as your friend!” 

In India, people of my generation rarely had parents who worked professionally. Working ladies as a concept was quite rare in that generationWhen and if they reached the age of 70 like me, they were treated with reverenceThey had faced a tough life and had many experiences to share. Financially, how the joint families of those days survived, is challenging to understand. Money available for survival was less and hence the requirements were lesser. The joint family meant that people did not need “space” as people need or expect today! People lived in “Wadas” in those days; reduced “space” included toilets too! There was one toilet for about 30 people!  

As per the article I have mentioned above, YOLD are the people who are now between 65 and 75! They were born just after world war!!! Those who are in professional fields many times don’t retire at all. Retirement in olden days was 58 or 60, and people used to retire. Many things happened during the lifespan of YOLDS! Improvement in cleanliness, better medical facilities and diagnostics facilities are some of them. Better job and business opportunities helped them to work beyond “retirement”. Combination of various factors improved the health and careers of YOLDS. The result was a notable increase in the number of YOLDS around, and they have decent money, time, space. They also show a willingness to try new things, travel around the globe. The number of YOLDS will grow in future to a sizable population with time and money in the pocket. Combine these traits of the community with decent health, and now you will know why they are called YOLD-young old!  

The YOLDS are the marketing person’s dream. The tourism industry is bound to grow in leaps and bounds. Whenever I chat with any friend or acquaintance from this age group, they are either travelling or have just come back from travel. Maybe they are going to travel next week.  

A German study found that people who remain at work after the normal retirement age manage to slow the cognitive decline associated with old age and have a cognitive capacity of someone a year and a half younger. What Jaya and I do is keep our brain sufficiently busy, which holds many health issues at bay. Chances of brain-related problems, like Dementia, can get delayedWhen money and time are not the issues, one can be in perpetual travel mode or try something new. Jaya and I have already firmed up travel plans for the next three months. Another friend Sham and his wife are in this mode since he sold off his business a couple of years back.  

In short, YOLD are not just any group of older adults. They are challenging the traditional expectations of the retired people who wear slippers and look after their grandchildren. The growth in YOLD population will disrupt consumer, service and financial markets. 

Higher numbers of healthy YOLD people will require drastic changes in health spending. Most diseases of ageing are best met with prevention and lifestyle changes. Now the gyms are offering “Golden Hours” for YOLDS. The timings are between 11 am to 6 pm, and I use this timing to go to the gym. I already see some other people from my age-group utilising the facility. My physician has told me to do some trade mill exercises, followed by weight training. Weight training is to reduce the rate of reduction in muscle strength. My physician told me, “This is to ensure that you can stow your cabin baggage on the flights when you travel! 🙂🙂 

YOLDS will help health industry business in the prevention field because many of us want it. We take vitamin tablets, and we buy food supplement which will be gluten-free. To pursue our lifestyle with vigour, we get ourselves checked regularly to ensure that our body functions are in good shape. I was treated for cancer in 2013/14. Every year I get a CAT scan done to ensure that there is no recurrence. These labs will wish that I am around for a long time! 🙂🙂 

The over-60s are one of the fastest-growing groups of customers of the airline business. The YOLDs are vital to the tourism industry because they spend much more on taking a foreign holiday than younger adults. They are also changing education. YOLDs are going to help the education business too! Last year, I did an online course in creative writing from Oxford. Why did I do it? Why not is the simple answer! Another friend told me that he had started work on his second PhD. He completed his first PhD at the age of 69! He loved painting when he was a child; he has started it again. He has now completed about 20 portraits.

WhatsApp Image 2020-01-03 at 07.30.14

Another friend Sudhakar takes a keen interest in his painting and is as good or better than many professional painters. He runs his business on the side, sometimes. Sample of one of his paintings is displayed above.

Warli

Jaya has firmed up her plans to restart Warli paintings which she had started a few years back but could not continue because of family commitments. Some of her samples are shown above.

Another area where the business is going up is finance. YOLDS have money and are going to be around for some time. For companies, they did not exist once they passed a certain age as they were not going to buy any Life Insurance. But now YOLDS want to invest some money in annuity returns and sometimes in mutual funds. They are not interested in long term gains for apparent reasons. That reminds me of a joke, and it is not cynical but practical. An 85 year goes to buy bananas. The seller says, “You buy these bananas, but they will ripe after ¾ days.” The old man smiles and says, “These days I plan for ¾ hours, forget ¾ days. Give me bananas which I can eat right away!  

But there will be societal hurdles because society may not understand the importance of YOLDS, especially the productive ones. The YOLD will demand that companies become more age-friendly and, in the process, help change attitudes towards ageing itself. 

Government policies will have to change, too. The retirement age in many rich countries is still below the age to which many people want to work. The effective retirement age (the age at which people leave the workforce) is usually even lower. Public policy makes retirement a precipice where you fall instead of offering a better exits where YOLDS can smoothly go out of the workforce depending on their capabilities.  

The society should realise that the theme song of the YOLDS is the great poem by Robert Frost. The lines below are the last four lines of the poem. Friends if you need the full poem, try the following link. 

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/42891/stopping-by-woods-on-a-snowy-evening 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, 
But I have promises to keep, 
And miles to go before I sleep, 
And miles to go before I sleep. 

 

Reporters and their ilk! 

What is a reporter? Who is a reporter? A reporter is a person who reports, especially one employed to communicate news or conduct interviews for the press or broadcasting media. Now the definition of press, broadcasting media itself is changing. Methods of collecting information to reach the readers are fast changing. am confused about what a reporter is. 

In mythology, the well-known reporter was Narad Muni. He was known to pass on information (or rumours) wherever he went.  

Narad was a master of the Sankhya and Yoga systems of philosophy, conversant with sciences of war and treaty and proficient in concluding by judging things, not within direct knowledge. He knew about the six sciences of the settlement, war, military campaigns, maintenance of posts against the enemy and strategies of ambushes and reserves. He was a thorough master of every branch of learning. He was fond of war and music; he was capable incapable of being repulsed by any science or any course of action. But he was cursed by Gods that most of the people will not believe in whatever he said.  

Jornalism2

It looks like the definition of today’s reporter! The knowalls! In the western media, the days of printed news are numbered. The simple reason being the proliferation of news apps and online portals. The young people and millennials read their news online. In western countries, the concept of receiving printed newspapers at home and office are almost gone. Old school people like me still prefer to “read” the paper as the newspaper is called. 

A nephew of mine once (ages back) told me a story; he had just started to read newspapers. I told him that something is wrong in the story about which he spoke. The nephew said, “But Pramod kaka, I read it in today’s paper, so it must be true.” I told him, “I will give an advertisement in the same newspaper tomorrow and declare that my nephew is an idiot. Tomorrow it will become true because it is printed in the paper. Buddy, the reporters, can and do make errors.” He said, “Now I understand.” The story is shared just to indicate how we were trained to believe in the printed word. 

So what is it that the reporter supposed to do? With the internet, everything is changing very rapidly. News media was described as the fourth estate of society. The first three being the clergy, the nobles and the commoners. The fourth estate was news walas and the media. But now the internet is defined as the fifth estate. The internet is rapidly changing the way the fourth estate works. Don’t be surprised if the fourth estate becomes the poor cousin of the fifth estate.  

Journalism1

But what are THE reporters doing in India Many of them look as if they are descendants of Narad. They think they know every subject in the world. Not only that but they are experts in all the issues. 

There are exceptions to this rule. We have Sunandan Lele who has been reporting on cricket for a long time. But he sticks to cricket all the time. Besides reporting, he writes a few articles, but those too are about cricket. Harsha Bhogale is another such expert who talks, gives commentary, writes only about cricket. But these are honourable exceptions. There may be a few in other fields too. It is no surprise that Sunil Gavaskar talks, writes only about cricket; he was India’s cricket superstar in yesteryears. 

But some of them do not follow basic rules. There was a news item in the papers today, which was a statement made by Alia Bhat. Newspapers reported that she was hurt during the shooting of some movie. Alia Bhat has given a statement, “I request people to check before referring to some news. What happened was that during the shoot, my old injury started “talking” again.” When people come to know about an accident about our near one, we become anxious. Till all the near ones come to know that it was the old injury, they keep on calling. Why not check before reporting? It is simple logic. It is ok to “talk” about affairs, flings and so on. These are part of Bollywood glamour folklore. But in this case, too, there should be a limit. They should not hound a person like it was done recently in the case of Meghan and Harry. Imagine the mindset of Prince Harry. His mother, Diana, was bothered by press people and the Paparrazi. She died in a car accident while Papparzi were chasing her. During his childhood and adolescent years, Harry has seen that the press behaved with Diana poorlySimilar behaviour with his fiancé and later the wife Meghan must have brought those memories back. He ultimately withdrew from the royalty!  

The argument put forth by the news people is that they are doing their job; it means that they have to earn money for their channel/paper by means fo ensuring that TRP (Target Rating Point) remains high. Nowhere has anyone told them to break the privacy of anyone. A few years back, they used the telescopic lens to photograph Kate, the Princess of Oxford, in the privacy of her beach. One person’s rights cannot be at the cost of another person’s privacy. It is said that this is the cost of being a celebrity. A celebrity is also a human being. In the case of Harry, he is a celebrity because he was born in a royal family. He loves his privacy more than his celebrity status.  

About TV channels less said, the better. The duties of a journalist are to uphold truth, unbiased reporting, serving the public as a watchdogToday these things remain only on paper. In today’s times, both anchors and the owners of the organisations are hypocrites. They are highly opinionated. Republic TV, India Today, Times Now and NDTV are at the forefront of this reporting. Today while watching the news on NDTV, during break they showed Kanhaiya Kumar reading the preamble to the constitution. Do we need to know whom NDTV is supporting? I am okay if they formally work as a mouthpiece of a particular party. But don’t call yourself a leading channel for the betterment of society and following responsible journalism. What does one say about Arnab GoswamiRajdeep Sardesai used Modi’s victory in 2019 to write a book “How Modi won India?” His twitter handle says that the only ism I am following is Humanism! Modi is right for the business, but when it comes to politics, anything that suits on a particular day is the direction Rajdeep’s ship takes!  

What should we make of all these complex issues? Which news to believe? Okay, there are some sites which tell us about false news and false photos. How do we know the exact situationThe good idea is to see the websites of established newspapers. They at least give the news correctly. Their analysis, justification, commentary will be as per their leaning left/right or centre! BBC at least tries to be balanced, sometimes. But New York Times and Washington post are dead against us on almost everything. The articles in such papers are written by people of Indian origin who live in the US. There was an article written by Kashmiri Pandit scholar lady. Living in the cool climes of the University, she claimed that nothing wrong has happened with Pandits. They have excellent relations with Muslims in Kashmir. She is a third-generation US citizen! 

What is the solution for you and me? Don’t believe things on unknown social media forwards. When it is reported that all the Bollywood is against something, it translates into 15/20 of social media savvy guys are writing and making a show. Someone does it because that person’s movie is being released. There are 5 lacs (five hundred thousand) people working in Bollywood. Some people want top cricketers and Bollywood stars to comment on every subject. The wise ones don’t because they know their limitations. They have expertise in a different area. Common people are made to protest blocking main roads in the dead of winter. It is continued for months together. All the “Leaders” sleep in their cosy homes in warm blankets. Cheers!

 

 

 

 

Subtle changes in the lifestyle! 

In the year 2016, Jaya and I had taken an Alaska cruise. One day, while entering the lift (elevator), I observed that there was a mat on the lift floor with excellent little design, and Wednesday was written on the same. Then we both realised that we had lost track of time. We had boarded on a Sunday, and it was already Wednesday. They were changing the mat every day so that people did not lose track of days.

Calendar2

There were so many things to do on the cruise, and there were shore excursions. We were in our own world, busy with something or sometimes just doing nothing. We used to sit in the balcony of our cabin to gaze at the sea and the waves. When we used to enter a  harbour, we could see small, lush green hills or sometimes there were tall mountains near the shore.

Recently after coming back from Canada, I got a similar feeling at home. We were with Priya, Nikhil and Rhea in Canada. After coming back, we realised that day to day schedule is not at all rushed, except when we are going for dinners and parties or movies. Jaya and I do some professional work which keeps us busy two to three days in the month!

In this month, we have to attend four marriage ceremonies which will keep us busy. Then next Monday, Jaya has the US visa dropbox appointment so that we will be going there. But in general, there are no specific must-do programs or events. A couple of times, I asked Jaya what day is it today? Then I realised that we had reached a phase in our life where there are hardly any must-do things on any day. The solution to this, I thought, was to keep track of day and date. We have a perpetual calendar at home, but it does not have the day display. I ordered one from Amazon. The calendar will help me keep track of dates and days.

Calendar1

By ordering this calendar from Amazon, I made the physical and mental change that will keep track of the days too. Such need was never felt before.

I am aware that we have reached the golden phase in our lives, and need to take benefit out of the time available to us. I go to a gym, and Jaya has made a new year resolution to join the gym from 1st January. So, we will have a gym as one of our regular activities. Jaya’s second new year resolution is to restart painting. I did my Oxford online course to put me out of my comfort zone. The course was my first formal learning in writing English Literature. While in school, I learnt English from 7th grade to 11th  grade. All my engineering education was in English. The Oxford course kept my mind busy for those 2 ½ months as I was probably the only student in that class who had never taken courses in literature, before!

2020 will be the first year where our life will be timeless, similar to weightlessness in space. I have read a few things about space travel and found out that with weightlessness, many necessary activities need to be performed differently and carefully. There will be family commitments, but they will be much less if we compare to all these years, with both the children living abroad.

As the ageing process, this change in lifestyle happens subtly and not suddenly. We have now decided that get the body conditions checked regularly; the frequency will be as per doctors advice. Yesterday we were with our ENT friend for a basic checkup. I had a bit of cold too! I told him that I get dryness in the throat and have a problem swallowing dry food. He said, “Pramod, this is also part of the ageing process. Now you will realise why I have suggested yearly check-up of organs. Before you eat dry stuff, drink a sip of water to make your throat wet.”

Meeting doctors and their fraternity is going to be more frequent and essential now. These meetings were very few in younger days. Currently also, by God’s grace, these visits are not due to illness but for audit check-ups. The subtle changes are bound to take place. Your body is always sending you signals. If you get any different signal, get it checked. Delay in such checking can cause unforeseen health issues. With our age, doctors can find it challenging to handle illnesses if we ignore body signals.

I know of a family who has delayed in reaching the doctors and consequences of this delay are devastating. The changes in body conditions were not subtle but were distinct. One day the friend called me because he wanted to take an appointment with a neuro physician, I know. I organised that. They went and saw the doctor, and gave me the feedback. They were happy with the doctor.

Later, when I met my doctor friend, I asked her if things were under control with my friend’s daughter. She said, “I have started the treatment, but they have come to me five years late. The daughter who is nearing 40 now can barely walk; she has a lot of pain. She cannot climb even three-four steps. Another thing, your friend also looked unwell. So, I casually asked him how was his health. He said that his diabetes is under control.” I told the doctor that this friend is going through dialysis twice a week. His kidneys are damaged because of diabetes.” She was shocked and said that it looks like your friends family does not understand the seriousness of things in life.

I have mentioned the above episode because I am talking about subtle changes but this family ignored even strong signals. On top of this,  my friend has not accepted that he has severe health issues.

Our decision to keep regular checks of body organs makes sense. I hope all my friends in this Golden phase are doing the same regularly. Longevity has gone up. So keeping track of subtle changes in the body make sense to have a good quality of life.

We have also decided to have some time table of doing things and will try to keep our brain busy. Subtle changes in brain functions can be easily ignored by saying, “Oh, now that I am passed 70, I am bound to forget things.” That is true to some extent. But let the doctors decide the source of the signal, it may not be related to ageing. It could be that hearing is reduced; it could be that your brain functioning in certain areas is changing slowly.

So keep on doing something, give time to friends. Family always gets priority anyway. Locate some people who need company. It could be your neighbour or it could people living in older people’s home. If you spend some time with them once in a while, you will see a smile on their faces.

That reminds of the tagline of Voice of America radio station, making their broadcast from Colombo during my school days. “If you see someone without a smile, give him one of yours.”

So go and buy that perpetual calendar and keep track of date and day both. I am sure you understand what I mean. Make sure that you have something to look forward to, next Thursday and Monday after that, every week. Don’t forget that every day is a Sunday in the timelessness zone of our life. It is in our hands to make the days count! It is our responsibility to ensure that we live the golden phase of our life with minimum outside support.

Our life is not a seven-day cruise. You need to find ways of keeping you busy with your mind and body activities!

My Oxford Experience 1!

The following is not a blog, but it is a story written by me.  

Oxford1

I am currently attending an online course offered by Oxford University, and I thought why not share my first attempt at storytelling during the course, with friends. It is a course about creative writing. I am learning a lot. I have never learnt literature, formally, so I took this opportunity to join the course though I claim to have learned engineering formally! 🙂🙂 

The exercise was about picking up a story from the list of five stories given. I chose Romeo and Juliet. In case you are unaware, “Romeo and Juliet” is a classic tragic romance written by William Shakespeare. 

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

The idea was that we had to keep the main characters the same, and change the genre (a style or category of art, music, or literature.) of the story as per our choice. There were many more things in this exercise. I chose to change the genre to thriller. I wrote the story accordingly. I thought you might like it.  Hence, I am sharing it with you. 

I request those of you who are interested in giving me a score can give it on a scale of zero to ten! 10 for Excellent and Zero for horrible. It will encourage me either way because a score of zero will force me to improve drastically; higher scores will naturally make me happy and push me to write more. You may send the score on individually on WhatsApp or by email.  

It’s the image of the status of my mind before I wrote the small story!

Oxford2

The story was to be written and explained in the format Act 1 and TP 1 (TP means turning point) 

Romeo and Juliet 

 ACT1  

Juliet is lying on a beach in the Bahamas, with the skimpiest of the bikinis. The shades and the chilled beer crate invited stares. While applying her sunscreen lotion, she saw Romeo walking towards her. 

Romeo, with his wellmuscled and toned body, was lazily walking on the beach in his sandals, with no care in this world. He spread his towel close to Juliet, not even looking at her. He asked Juliet, “May I borrow a beer bottle from you?” She pouts and says, “Why not?” 

 TP1 

Juliet had been instructed by her KGB bosses to eliminate Romeo! Romeo had his plan cleared from his MI 6 bosses to woo and dump Juliet in the steep ravine on his way back to his resort. After a few beers, Juliet suggested, “Shall we move to my airconditioned room?” Romeo simply picked her up and said, “No, my room, and let’s go fast!” 

ACT2 

Juliet coos, “Let me take quick shower and wear some clothes!” She wanted to take her syringe to be used at the right moment to finish her job! Romeo also needed to have his tools of the trade to reach the goal.  

Romeo and Juliet kiss deeply, and  Romeo walked to his Ferrari! Romeo’s thoughts veered a bit, and he thought that he must, unfortunately, “waste” a stunning woman.  

Juliet had her shower and came to the car. She was stunned to see how dapper Romeo looked. She was momentarily sad that Romeo would be no more after some time! 

TP2 

Juliet suggested that they have coconut water on the way, to begin her act; she had arrangements with coconut vendor for her “mischief”. Romeo suggested that they stopover at the wine shop instead, on the way, where he had arranged for the doctored wine. 

Juliet said, outsmarting Romeo, “Romeo, I hate wines! We can have Champagne at the resort!” 

ACT3 

They reached the resort and went to Romeo’s room, both planning their next act. Both slowly undressed and embraced each other. Both were planning their next move.  

As a final alternative, Juliet decided to use the syringe in her purse for the job. Romeo decided to use his raw power to complete his assignment.  

TP3 

They were halfway through the love act and were looking for the final opportunity to move stealthily. The moment was reached as Juliet went to the washroom and got her syringe from the purse; Romeo waited near the door for her to come out and choke her.  

 At that moment, the movie director shouted, “Cut”, great shot!  Let’s pack up for the day! 

 Romeo and Juliet embrace each other. They are, after all, reallife lovers!  

 

 

 

Want to be miserable, it’s easy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Modernity, Life’s full circle!

 

Oldage3A couple of days back, I was talking to a classmate of mine. I had called to wish her on her 70th birthday! I was pleased when she said, “Pramod, I feel as if I am around 50 or 55 but surely not 70!” The in and around 70 generations, was born after India got independence from the British in 1947. Our behaviour, thinking and attitude depend on our personal experiences, and the way society acts. Under Britishers, the Indian public, government officials had a different attitude towards Goras! Indians would treat Britishers with deference. My father was a police officer, and whenever he spoke of Britishers, I could feel that he would talk with a lot of respect to the Britishers. It was the result of 150 years of British dominance. My father, otherwise, was not a docile personality. Such an attitude could be seen in the sports arena too! Sunil Gavaskar was the first cricketer who showed “attitude” with his bat and then as a person against foreigners.

Later generations have changed; it can be seen in the behaviour of Tendulkars and Kohlis! As people started travelling internationally and met foreigners regularly for business or otherwise, the change was seen in society, in general. But change is not seen on personal levels in certain areas of life. Lately, I see people writing emotional stories and sharing their views about family-related issues. Our generation has become, so-called old, but due to migration, our children could be anywhere in the world right from Timbuktu to Rio de Janeiro; the children have spread for work and due to immigration. The result is that the parents live “alone” as per current discussions. When husband and wife are both around, how can they be alone?

The thought of lonely parents is mainly due to love but also due to unchanged attitude towards life. The post-independence generation did not migrate as much as the current generations do. They were in touch with the base more often. The life expectancy during that period was much less compared with today. The males from the older generation died just after retirement. In those days, the nuclear families had not come up. Hence the retired parents would continue to live in the joint family. They never felt “alone”.

Probably in various stories or write-ups I read (I call them sob stories which friends don’t like), people mix up the words “Alone” and “Loneliness”. When the parents are together, they are not alone by definition. But they can be lonely. But to me, loneliness is the isolation that comes with an expectation unmet, a feeling unreturned. According to my thinking, this is the crux of the matter.

Both parents and children would become and remain unhappy if they do not train their minds to become detached. Life will be much easier if there are no expectations. The closeness and love between them are natural, but remaining too attached causes all the issues. When people live in different cities, states or nations, you cannot expect anybody to be available at the drop of a hat! In today’s business and work scenario, work pressures are high. People are sometimes even worried to take their annual holidays lest they become redundant in today’s competitive world. What does the world detach mean? It means disconnected. Synonyms for detaching are dispassionate or uninvolved.

Once both sides learn to remain detached, life becomes much more manageable. My generation has been luckier than our parent’s generation. We had the benefits of better education, slightly better family finances, more opportunities than the previous generations. We have travelled in bullock carts as well as in Concordes! We have written letters on postcards, and we are using WA and FB! Our life and lifestyle have changed from the rationing of foods to plenty of everything. We bought Coca Cola for 25 paise; now we don’t mind paying Rs.250/ for a cup Coffee!

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My friend HK and his wife are in this photo. They go around on their bikes all over Pune district regularly.

Now my suggestion is that we should also change our thinking about relationships and responsibilities! We also have the benefit of better health compared to the older generation. Should our thought processes also not become modern? When we have done so many things during our working days, why can’t we manage our lives post the 70’s? What is the big deal? Should we be dependent on our children for support during this golden phase? Financial dependence and needs can be different for each individual and family. These requirements should be resolved by each family but besides that, why we cannot be independent of children? There could be health issues. Your child may be living in the same city, or maybe she lives 100 km from where you live. That does not mean that the children will have time to help and support you regularly.

On similar lines, children should also understand that your parents growing older does not mean that they are helpless or lonely. The technology that has brought back your old friends, your classmates, are also being used by your parents. They are also having their alumni meets. They meet their friends, and in some cases maybe their ex-flames! Life is changing; there is more openness. We hear of cases where people are meeting each other for companionships. In case of death of one of the spouses, parents of both sexes look for friendship, companionship or in some cases remarriage too! The parents are mature enough or sometimes may not be mature enough. But it is their life; children can give suggestions but let the seniors take the decisions about life.

The seniors should think like what my classmate said the other day. The cliché “age is just a number” becomes relevant. Health permitting, you need not “feel” old. It is up to us! I have come across people who are of the same age as me but talk and feel like a 90-year-olds. I had shared a story about the parents of my Japanese friend. The father is 93, and the mother is 87. The father regularly goes out and travels by Metro to get their groceries etc. It is because they must have decided to remain independent of the children.

Parents, venture out in the bad, bad world, and then you will realise that it is a good, good world! Children, don’t you worry too much about your parents; after all, they are the ones who have brought you up! There is some chance that they know something about the world, is it not! Don’t go overboard about splurging on your parents; they know that you also have your own life! You need to take that holiday to see the midnight Sun! Your children will be going to Oxfords and Harvards of this world! Be sure you use your Video WhatsApp or Google Duo or Skype once in a while. You need not give them iPhone so that you can use Facetime! They are happy with what they have!

I am just saying be realistic, be practical. I humbly request to those who write “Sob Stories” on WA or FB about lonely, old parents. Some parents can get into unhappy mode again, reading such stories. Please leave them alone, let them lead their life (they will be there to support you when you need). But don’t forget that they can live happily on their own!

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Wake-up People!

When we are born, we do not know what we are going to do in our lives, most of the times. But some are born, and their destiny is written at the time of birth! Like some are born to become kings and queens, or heir to a business empire, some are born to become Presidents of a political party. Children following their parents footsteps and sometimes parachuting at high positions is a routine phenomenon. It is known that such children listen to the subject discussions at home from childhood, so they are likely to be more mentally ready than other children 

But what is the Dharma of whatever we do in our life? We should try our best to act from the bottom of our heart and true to our ability. But does the world behave this way? People under the garb of modernity, liberal thought, show as if they are giving the yeomen service to the society. But in many cases, it is observed that the denominator is self, to hell with everything else, including the nation.  

During and after the recent election, a lot of discussions were going on about Political Pundits, Experts, Reporters and their ilk. What is the job profile of these people? To my understanding, these people are supposed to be connected with people at ground level, have the feel of what is happening. The ordinary person like you and me are supposed to be enlightened by these Gyanis! But have things happened this way? The answer is an emphatic NO!  

PranUncle

How did things go out of hands? Years back, I had met Mr Pran Chopra, who retired as the chief editor of The Tribune. We met at Naukuchiatal, near Nainital during a holiday. We were together for almost a week, and the insights that we got about the life of reporters and the way newspapers worked in those days were interesting. The gist of what he said was that in whatever they did, the truth and the nation were the two main interests. Everything else was secondary. Now everything is reverse of what Pran uncle mentioned.  

We have been hearing about Luteyns gang or Khan market gang often. But these are not the only people who took this route. At the local level, too, in every state, in every capital, in every significant newspaper, the sycophants and people with selfinterest existed in large numbers. All these people had become blind with their own thought processes, their analysis of the situation and their prediction about the electoral mathematical equations, the usual caste and religion! They forgot about a small thing, the people. People who vote were last on their mind. They were all busy cursing Modi, looking down at NDA and assuming that caste, equations, statelevel bosses were good enough to win the election and form a non-BJP government in Delhi. They appeared to be drunk on their self-judgment. They were so blind to the realities of life that even when exit polls started indicating a resounding victory for NDA, they simply refused to accept the polls. Many said that the lowest numbers shown in a poll were the correct numbers and those too were exaggerated. Reporter after reporter would give his/her theory how finally “Acche Din” (good old days) will come once the current government loses.  

Personally, I am for any leader or a party that tries its best to improve the state of the nation, the society and the people. I really don’t bother if party A is winning or B. All governments, leaders make mistakes, have their quota of blunders. But the government should have the least number of corrupt people. In India, we have seen that the number of schemes that have been floated since independence are the means to make money. The leakage in such programmes was reported to be very high, and only 15% of the money reached the people. The % is very similar to social work done by Rotary Clubs where their social work “achieves” the same success rate! In the case of Rotary, the money is spent on dinners, parties. In one example, the money is blown, and in the other, it is made; but the result is the same.  (Disclaimer- I am NOT a rotarian and this information is shared with me by some resrious rotarians!)

How did such close groups start? In Delhi, you were either an insider or then you were an outsider like Modi. The insiders went to the same schools and colleges like Stephens and Oxford. Everybody knew everybody; either your brother or sister was together in the class, or you were neighbours in Delhi, of course, Lutyens Delhi. Your address could never be Chandani Chowk or Nizamuddin! The coterie was formed, and modern court jesters were born. You got the exclusive news leak and were always the part of the gang of reporters on foreign jaunts on the Prime Minister’s plane. On TV shows or in your weekly columns you wrote and discussed whatever was fed to you; your stomach was too full to challenge anything.   

Of course, some reporters did their job and somehow managed to “break the news”, in spite of the coterie! Such people were challenged and openly called to be working for “interested” groups. But the coterie never bothered to take a look at their own face in the proverbial mirror!  

Why were these people against Modi and BJP? I can understand having a different political viewpoint. But is it possible that anything and everything that is done by a government is wrong? Chidambaram was finance minister in the previous government. He writes an article in Indian Express, every Sunday, discussing how all the steps taken by the government are leading India to the precipice of no return! In the financial world, every decade or so, we get recession, stagnation or sometime stagflation. But this is the part of the natural economic process of correcting itself. The world had the same issue in 2008, and in 2019 the same problem has started. Car sell is plunging by 25%. Instead of talking about the economic cycle, these people start blaming the government as they are now out of favour, out of their “dole” from the government.  

One crucial thing everybody forgot was that everybody’s assumption about the default people in India. Some kept on thinking that default ruling party or an alternate option was Congress; like people thought that default business families were Tatas and Birlas. When Dhirubhai Ambani came and took over, nobody knew. Ambanis turnover is now Rs. One lac crore. Similarly, when Congress got 44 seats in the 2014 elections, the same group thought that it was a matter of time and Congress would be back with a bang. NDA was the new Ambani of the political scene, was never understood by these people.  

But some of the intellectuals have realised their error and have openly started writing about their mistakes of perceptions. Shekhar Gupta, a well-known commentator, has  publicly accepted in the interview below that somehow he was blinded  

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=372025410115387&id=234508140533782 

Meghnad Desai is another person who is bluntly telling Congress about the irrelevance of Rahul Gandhi.  

https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/out-of-my-mind-dear-rahul-just-go-5760615/ 

It comes back to the same thinking; a democracy prospers only when there is a good, positive opposition party. Opposition should be constructive. Even today, Congress made a statement that with around 50 MP’s, they can make life miserable for the government in the Loksabha. Is that your narrative? Where does nation come into the picture? Where is the positive intent?  

These changes will happen only when people introspect, (Ashok Chavan has made a statement that Congress lost in Maharashtra because of Vanchit Samaj party ditched them at the last moment, Congress was perfect in what they did), show positive intent, have pragmatic policicies, not just shout the slogans.  

We should learn from the Westminister System followed in Britain by having a shadow cabinet. The Shadow Cabinet or Shadow Ministry is a feature of the Westminster system of government. It consists of a senior group of opposition spokespeople who, under the leadership of the Leader of the Opposition, form an alternative cabinet to that of the government, and whose members shadow or mirror the positions of each member of the Cabinet. It is the Shadow Cabinet’s responsibility to scrutinise the policies and actions of the government, as well as to offer an alternative program. The Shadow Cabinet makes up the majority of the Official Opposition frontbench. Is it not a better alternative to stopping work in Loksabha at the drop of a hat?