The beauty of the golden period!

Why do humans want to live longer? The logic is, more the merrier! The thought is that the more you’ll enjoy life, you keep on living longer. By doing this, you make friends, know more people, build a network, and so on. It means you have more friends later on in life, which means you’ll enjoy life more when you’re older too. When you enjoy life, you want to live longer. It is probably too unrealistic to think of your death, especially when you are alive and healthy. 

If a question is asked to people how long would they like to live, their answers will be dependent on their attitude towards life and the age at which the question is asked. It will also be dependent on the people’s area of work. Currently, a lot of research is going on any many startups, run by young peopleto increase life expectancy in many different ways. These people must be thinking in terms of unlimited life span. Older people in the same startups may talk of increasing the life expectancy by a decade or two, more than the current average.  

When in school, we were always told that humans lived to the age of 100. But in reality, we never saw such older people. The oldest person I knew in those days was my grandfather; he died at the age of 89, but by then, my age was 25. So, I had lived some life and knew that 100 was a hypothetical age. I rarely saw people as old as my grandfather. But in those days, even seeing people in their 7th decade was a rarityOn averagemen died within a few years of retirement at the age of 58! But I remember having seen many women who were in their 7th decade, though many of them did not look healthy.  

Another myth has been that when the expectancy is 60, we start thinking that as soon as someone becomes 60, he or she dies in the next few days. In real life, it does not happen that way. But statistics is a tricky and funny science! When we calculate life expectancy, the early deaths are also consideredthe percentage of deaths during childbirth was comparatively quite high in olden timesSuch deaths reduced the average life expectancy by sizable numbers.  

I was trying to look at the real-life situation as the average life expectancy started going up, with better hygiene, better medicine; increase in the number of people world over started getting enough food, starvation did come down. Discovery of Sulpha and Penicillin avoided many deaths. In the last fifty years, computer-based drug development and imaging technology have helped the doctors save even more lives. Early cancer detection helped reduced deaths due to cancer.  

What and how we think can be compared with knowledge! A little knowledge at young age makes one arrogant, be bit more reasonable, and finally, age makes you humble. Youthful arrogance mellows into affable modesty as one grows old and it finally sublimates into self-effacing humility.  I think that the following statement is appropriate. “Now, with age, sitting against the silhouette of a setting sun, I ruminate and introspect. I look at my whole life from a deeper perspective.” 

I read one beautiful passage about old age, and I am giving it below verbatim!  

It is the beauty of the final phase of human life. One gets an altogether new perspective, looking back at the variety of events and experiences in life. Life can only be judged in its totality when it reaches its logical end. Like icing on the cake, the advanced years make one more understanding and pragmatic. During one’s youth, there’s often an irrational and romantic fascination for cutting short one’s life, which’s called “intellectual harakiri” or the “James Dean Syndrome,” after the Hollywood heart-throb, who acted in the cult movie, ‘Rebel without a cause’ and died very young. It is a passing phase. 

In the golden phase of our lives, we can look at life and death with equanimity. When you are not afraid to discuss death, including your own, you can enjoy your golden phase. Create a so-called bucket list but honestly to me it is not essential. Basically, do what you want, but never got the opportunity to do it in your busy life 

The beauty of this phase is most of your family responsibilities are over, and you can give time to whatever you want to do. I have a friend whose passion right through young days has been Hindi movie songs, starting from the year 1935 songsHe initially had records, then the tapes. Later he got these songs converted into CD’s, and now the songs are stored on one-drive! Everybody does not want to go to see the midnight sun or go to the Rocky mountains! Each has his or her own list of what they want to do.  

We have a tradition of burning Ravan (the evil) with arrows during Dassara! It is the battle between good and evil. But in this golden phase, if given a choice, this group of people will talk to Ravan and help him mend his evil ways instead of burning him.  

I am giving below two different quotes. 

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 “Youth is the most beautiful thing in this world—and what a pity that it has to be wasted on children!” It is a famous quote by George Bernard Shaw!  

 I also read recently another quote, “Wisdom is wasted on the old.” 

What do both these statements mean and how can we interpret them? Youth have new way of thinking and many ideas, but they are most of the times a bit immature, and the ideas do not get implemented properly. If older men could get such brilliant ideas, they would enjoy and execute them well.  

On the other side, older people do not get new and brilliant ideas because of their wisdom; they become overcautious in everything and are not willing to think out of the box. So wisdom gets wasted because they continue with their old ways and kill innovation. To me, this is applicable while you are working. Once you are in your golden phase, you have already acquired your wisdom, but you can think out of the box and do what you want. You can start taking risksYou can start learning to paint or sing. At most, what will happen? You will fail in both but who cares? You wanted to do something and did it! 

You know that you have little time left with you or maybe more extended time with physical difficulties that can accompany old age. Till that time have fun!  

I met a friend of mine after a long time. Both his children were married and settled. Instead of saying that his responsibilities are over, he used a Marathi term. “I have now become बेजबाबदार– irresponsible in English!” It was an absolutely hilarious way of saying that his responsibilities are now over! So become बेजबाबदार and do what you want! The golden phase is HIS gift to you!  

 

 

  

Don’t waste efforts on being Happy!

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World over there is a considerably large industry called Happiness Industry or Being Positive Industry! You must be wondering after reading the title! Has Pramod gone bonkers? He looks like a positive guy; he always writes about being happy. What has happened to him? My usual pursuit of knowledge allows me to read different thought processes and documents from the world over. Initially, I was also surprised to learn some reports which said that our default status is not about being happy.

As per the Brazilian poet Vinicius de Moraes, happiness is “like a feather flying in the air. It flies light, but not for very long.” Happiness is human thinking, an abstract idea with no equivalent in actual human experience. Positive and negative effects do reside in the brain, but sustained happiness has no biological basis.

Humans are not designed to be happy or even content. Instead, we are intended primarily to survive and reproduce, like every other creature in the natural world. A state of contentment is discouraged by nature because it would lower our guard against possible threats to our survival.

Till we became an organised society ten thousand years ago by learning to farm, there was hardly any difference between humans and other species. Let us not say that humans were technically advanced compared to others. Look at the nests built by the birds; they are technical marvels. Look at the gut feelings of animals; many animals understand if there would be an earthquake shortly. Dogs can detect mines and drugs! Each of the species had their specialities. The common aspects were reproduction and survival instincts. Let me assure you the life was not easy then and it is not easy now!

I have recently written a blog about Happiness, and I thought that there is no point in writing details about happiness.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/07/16/happy-happy-we-shall-be/

The survival in olden days was from the severe nature, other animals or predators. Humans, with their intelligence, came up with many inventions and found some defence mechanisms, helping them survive more easily. But mind you, you have to endure still or survive. Even in the twenty-first century, we sight tigers and cheetahs in the Pune district. My son, Sachin, was saying that even today they have to be careful about Bears that are sighted in greater Seattle area, especially during winter.

Survival in olden days was from drought and floods. Is the 21st century much different? Today, there is a drought-like condition in the Marathwada region of Maharashtra, even though half the monsoon is over. Last week a train full of water tankers was sent to Chennai. Assam and Bihar are facing severe floods due to heavy rains. People have been dying due to floods and may die due to drought too if sufficient monsoon rains don’t come.

So some population is in survival mode all the time. Have we forgotten about poverty on the terra firma? Development does bring prosperity, but still, a large number of people world over are poor! Survival against nature, other species to a small extent, and poverty is the requirement in the so-called modern world. Happiness is there, come on, I am not a pessimist! But it is there like a golden ray of the sun coming through the dark clouds! Happiness is a fleeting moment in our lives.

Friends let us not forget that happiness is that fleeting moment; it is like the flying feather taking a small flight before settling down. Our default status is a bit of struggle most of the times, surviving and reproducing. Is reproduction an easy path to glory? Yes, it is glorified as coming together of two human beings in a sexual act. Then there is that long struggle of nine months for the lady. The sexual act is the fleeting moment of happiness! The expected new arrival is a delightful moment for the couple and the family, with nine months of looming struggle. Morning sickness, too much weight gain in some cases, unexpected medical conditions like diabetes during pregnancy are the tough things the lady has to survive. Have we forgotten birth? It is supposed to be the toughest event in women’s life. If it is not natural birth, then it is the C-section and recovery from the surgery! In the whole gamut of struggle, there is that delightful feather taking the small flight, the newborn!

Each era has its tough times. In the four centuries between 14th and 18th, there were wars everywhere. The relative peace in between this time and the 20th century was a struggle against diseases, the world over. Hundreds of would die of plague, cholera and typhoid. There was no cure. Patients were managed by the doctors and not treated. Modern medicines were yet to come. The relative peace of this period was followed by World War I and World War II! The WW II ended with the dropping of nuclear bombs in Japan. Millions of people died in these wars. But war forced the world to look for cures to injured soldiers in wars. Sulfa and Penicillin were discovered in this period, gave humanity the miracle drugs! These dugs again brought the smiles and happiness back in our lives. Then one after another modern surgical and diagnostics methods have come. Has it brought permanent or long-lasting happiness in our lives? The answer is no! Yes, some cancers are now getting cured, but many new uncurable ones are getting detected. Alzheimer and Dementia are seen more as longevity has become the norm! So in between periods of survival, happiness is achieved.

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What am I talking? Am I saying that you can be happy or you cannot be happy? Only thing I am saying is that happiness is there in life; don’t be after it. Don’t get driven by slogans to spend your money on books or programs. We are happy and sad in cycles. After a routine life sometimes there are events in life which make you miserable. The sadness does not last forever!

Similarly, after the sadness period, there could be routine drudgery, then there will be a sudden period of happiness! Both happiness and sadness are cyclic, and their cycle will go on. Happiness starts with the arrival of the new one. (don’t forget that the mother has given her nine months of tough period to achieve happy times of her life.)

In today’s parlance, I will give an example of this cycle. Your child grows old enough and takes wings to fly the world over, the way you wanted your child to go! You are happy, but then comes the usual drudgery of their life and their slowly become professionals. A grandchild is born, you are happy! But are not happy that you cannot see it immediately. Life goes on with happy moments, sometimes sad ones too! Then suddenly, your child can come home for a few days (please note that it is your home, not the child’s home) for a few days; there is happiness. Life goes on and on!

HappyCycle2

Happiness and sadness are two sides of the same coin called life. To your surprise, you will find that this is the only coin that stands on its edge most of the times. Only for a small duration, it becomes flat depending on the which type of event we have in life; happy or sad! Do you know that after some time has passed, the coin automatically stands on its edge, the phase known as routine life?  Don’t worry; I have not gone bonkers. Be as happy as is possible! You cannot tell the clouds to give space for the sunlights to come out; similarly, your mental phase happy or sad comes when its time has come.

Serendipity!

The word Serendipity means the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way. Some of my friends are always saying that I am infected by “Tharoorism”. Honestly, I am not, and Serendipity is a word that was first used in 1754. It is said to be one the hardest words to translate. Notion of Serendipity is common in science domain as some important discoveries in science are due to chance e.g. Alexander Fleming’s discovery of Penicillin, discovery of microwave oven, “Post-It” note.

Don’t worry, I am not going into discovery mode, but I get a feeling that in today’s world of rush, rush and rush we don’t leave time for Serendipity, we don’t leave time for anything! I am not talking of the time when we are working. But besides work we do so many things in life but we seem to continue to rush through things. We take holidays, we go for brunch, we go for shopping, we just chat, we go for a stroll, we read, we play, we paint; but we have gone into a habit of rushing through everything.

We had recently gone on a holiday in Europe; with age and language issue we thought that it may be a good idea to take a conducted tour. We had two-day stay in St. Moritz in Switzerland. The tour director had offered to take our group to various peaks and the lake, but the program was quite cramped. We told her that we will go at our own leisurely pace and maybe see a few things less!

First, we took the bus and took a tour of the town at our own pace getting down where ever we wanted. We went to the famous lake and spent a couple of hours there and really had a great time. We saw many small things which were not mentioned in any of the brochures. A very tall escalator to come up to the road level from the lake, was a pleasant surprise as we never got the judgement of depth of the lake from the main road! We were looking for nature’s beauty, but this man-made structure was also a surprise to us. We took some photos and videos but most of the time just enjoyed  the beauty of the nature through our own eyes and not through the lenses. The colour changes of the mountains and lake water, due to cloud movement were simply superb.

Later, we went to a couple of peaks at the height of 3800 meters, plus. What we did there was to absorb the atmosphere, look at the beauty of snow and sunshine, drink the pure weather! We were hungry, but they did not offer food which suited our diet. The chef there said if we had some time with us, he could cook something to suit us. That was the best sandwich we had on the entire tour, Serendipity?

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We felt like sitting and watching this lake as long as possible, it was so beautiful!

We were in Innsbruck, Austria. The traditional dance show was the optional part of the tour. It was called Tyrolean Evening. We were informed that no photography was allowed during the show. It turned out to be an absolute boon as we could enjoy the show thoroughly, we could see and feel the energy, we could see the superb coordination of the group and we could also enjoy our wine! The way dancers energetically tapped their thighs in coordination, was simply awesome. The show was the highlight of the tour! It was a late show, we were tired but were never rushed. It was the Serendipity moment. Here is the link for the show.

https://www.tiroler-abend.com/en/tyrolean-evenings/tyrolean-evening.html

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Social media has added to our rush/rush mentality. Everybody wants to share what they are doing and seeing, on the social media. It may be Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter and what have you. We have made it a rule to share such things only with close family that maybe at the end of the day! Sharing photos and videos from the locations is an absolute no no! The rush for sharing things on the media, puts your mind away from what you are doing, you feel that you are enjoying it by sharing it! But if you think seriously, except close family and friends, all others are not so keen to know what you are doing at every moment. This excited behavior has led to accidents as people have fallen from mountains, fallen from ships, fallen from trains in their attempt to “share” instantly. I had written in my blog “Touch the whale”; people go on whale sighting trips but are behind the lenses all the time instead of touching the whale which has come at a touchable distance.

When you go for shopping, occasionally you end up getting a deal which you will never get if you rush through. During brunch, keep extra time, linger on a bit, try new things, you may discover some new food stuff that you had never tried out before; if you don’t rush you may meet a long-lost friend. But rushing habit is not good for anyone as it creates stress and can affect your health.

Sorry! I must rush and take my evening sunset photographs! I don’t get enough time to write my blogs because I must rush and meet friends, just before I rush for evening bridge rubbers. Then of course there is a late evening dinner with family before going for that recently released, late night movie! I just don’t get time for anything, but I enjoy rushing everywhere! I really enjoy ! Do I?

Trial by Media- an Assault?

In the last few days, I have read about two unfortunate medical cases one in which a young man, 30 years old, died a sudden death, in Southern India. In the second case, a small child died while a dental treatment was going on, in Pune. Both instances are incredibly tragic events; my sympathies are total with the families.

In the case of the young man, a Facebook post written by the young man’s wife was printed verbatim by Daily Bhaskar with a headline, “Monster Doctor did nothing while patient had a cardiac arrest!”. At least at the end of the Post, they have printed a disclaimer saying that they have just published the Post Verbatim and do not necessarily agree with the views etc.

But in the case of the child, media trial is on, from day one, after the mishap took place. The so-called leading news daily of India printed the photo of the Doctors’ name board!! When we watch these things from far, everything is hazy. But some decorum needs to be followed. One can understand the parents & close relatives of the child, making strong statements, as they are in grief; this cannot be justified though understandable!! There was a discussion claiming that maybe the doctor was a quack. Come on, the Doctor is PG in paediatrics from a renowned institute. Even in criminal cases like murder, unless the criminal is caught red-handed at the site, his/her name is not declared, if it is practical. What right the reporters and for that matter, the society, in general, have to judge a person without knowing details!

We hear about cases where families have attacked the Doctors physically when a patient has suddenly died. This has usually happened in the case of uneducated families. How is this assault justified in any way? Media attack and social media attacks are Assaults with a different name. In the latest cases, the headline about the “Monster Doctor” is a veiled slap on the face of the Doctor and not any different from the physical slap, “disclaimer” being a balm applied after the slap. In the case of the child, the attack is exactly the same as the physical attack. It is not that the doctor ran away when he saw that child was in grave health issue. He tried his best. So why assault him intellectually? Is it because he is defenceless? If the doctor tries to give any statement, it will be misinterpreted so he cannot say anything. So the media and society keep on slapping him.

From the medical point of view, we need to know if the correct treatment was given. Were the proper procedures & or protocols followed? Was the child going through some other treatment, at that time, and was on medication? Was this informed to the doctor? Was the child given local anaesthesia? Did the reaction occur immediately or after some time? There is a mechanism in place where such cases are referred to a medical panel. This panel is empowered to study the facts and decide if there was a mistake by the doctor or negligence by the doctor. If the oversight is proven, then the doctor can be charged by the police under due process of law. We do not expect a doctor to overcome such police cases with the same impunity as many big shots from the society are known to do.

How this event should be handled. This is not politics where party A will attack party B and so on. Politics is a business. In current medical cases, individuals involved are rational human beings like you and me. Is it right for the media to give “exposes”? Is the doctor hiding anything? Is the medical council hiding anything? Due course of action has to start, yet. If some hotchpotch happens in this process of inquiry, then the media can go into depth. Here media is trying to show as if the doctor is a villain. What does society achieve by taking a candle march? Was this a rape case? When a child dies in a road accident, we don’t have candle marches! We don’t start publishing the history of the driver! (It may not be drivers’ mistake to begin with) What are we trying to achieve here? Are these the drawbacks of TRP related stuff? Is this the drawback of having the Facebook platform being readily available?

I have personally experienced what can happen due to a reaction of an injection. Years back when penicillin was used regularly, my mother was injected with penicillin. From the same ampule, my nephew was also injected. I was sitting next to my mother; within one minute my mother just collapsed and fell on me. Her hands and feet started becoming cold, and she started growing black and blue! This all happened within 2/3 minutes. Luckily an Oxygen Cylinder was readily available so was Adrenalin injection. She was treated with all this immediately, and she came back from the brink, after fifteen minutes! We were all just praying, or maybe we just did not know what was happening!! Was this attempted murder? No, it was not! My mother had taken penicillin shots before and had no known reaction history, but her body still reacted differently. These things are known to happen, that is why doctors take a consent form before anaesthesia is used or a surgical procedure is done. In the current case of the child, the reaction of something (still not known) had started 30/40 minutes later. The concerned doctor took the help of another expert, and a hospital overcomes the reaction issue and to revive the child. Sadly this did not happen.

Does consent taken absolve doctors of the responsibility? On the other hand, will the doctor ignore the reaction just because he/she has received permission for the procedure? This case could be a drug reaction, misjudgement of the doctor but this is decided not by you and me. Let the law take its own course. What the society can do is to ask for a quick report from the medical committee and let the action start as quickly. “Justice delayed is justice denied” should not happen in such cases. But let us not become judges, juries or maybe God and try to fix the destiny of a human being without following the right procedures! There is no short cut to anything, and that applies to justice also.

God bless both families in which deaths took place but also let us give the professionals involved leeway of trying to prove their innocence. Ultimately they also have a family!!