Roaming around in Pune!

Pune has already become cosmopolitan, with new International airport and Metro coming up, will same old Pune exist at all?

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It’s good to be moving around your own city but with age and technology, there is a possibility that you may not be required to move out of your home, especially after retirement. You can get your grocery online, you can pay your bills online, for cash you can go to ATM and deal with a machine rather than a human. All these things look sexy initially. But humans are social animals, and they love to meet and talk to friends, relatives, acquaintances, and unknown people. It is a well-proven fact that if humans become isolated then there is a good chance of early death. It’s good to know what new things are happening around you. When you move around, you observe different aspects of life. You know where the world is going.

Kasaba

The other day, we went to a dentist in the old part of Pune. We took an Uber and lo, we reached there in about 25 minutes, which was 15 minutes earlier than expected, and 30 minutes before the appointment. That too during peak hours! As I have always said that I tend towards being an atheist, but once in a while I do visit Mandirs on my own. I suggested to Jaya, that since we were pretty early, we could visit the Kasaba Peth Ganapati Mandir which was bang opposite the clinic. It was surprisingly empty. After going inside, we realized that it was Chaturthi, an auspicious day from the Hindu calendar. I bowed to the God, Jaya did some more prayers and took another five minutes. As is usually done, we sat in the Mandir for five more minutes. When you go to a Mandir, and do not have even five minutes to spare, might as well not go there! This is done  to soak in the atmosphere. The Mandir is a totally different world than that I live in. People were very much engrossed in praying; a priest was giving a sermon and he was talking about day to day issues, how to handle them and how to face the world. I thought it was a very good way of helping people. The priests are revered by the society; his sermon was a good way of guiding people as a tradition. This is one tradition, people should continue to follow, instead of following some irrational things. The young dentist is my daughter’s classmate and I know him well. He jokingly said, “Uncle HE must have been happy that you found time to meet Him!” To me, HE is everywhere, I need not go to a Mandir to meet Him.

Use of Uber brings you in touch with more people, a group of drivers, the way they talk, the way they work, the way they look at the profession. I always make it a point to chat with them. One observation is that 50% of them are from Vidarbha, Marathwada side! In recent four trips, I had varied experiences. One chap was very unfriendly from the beginning, and ended up shouting at me and threatening me with dire consequences! In a huff, luckily, he cancelled the trip on his own. I complained to Uber and they took a lot of feedback from me. Next one was a good person, was shocked how expensive Pune was and did not know much about Pune roads! When will Uber train these drivers about the city where they drive? I explained to this fellow that Pune is expensive because it has money and since it has money, a lot of people use Uber! Next one had his car in horrible condition, dusty and unclean from both inside and outside. I asked him why he had not cleaned the car? He said that he got the trip immediately after login. I asked him why he did not login after the car was cleaned, he had nothing to say. The last one was the best, he knew all the roads, his car looked new. When I asked him if his car was new, he said that it was two-year-old but cleaned it at least four to five times in a day. It showed his passion to do well in his profession! On top of that, he was very polite! I gave him five stars!

GoodLuck

In Pune and Bombay, there is a tradition of Irani restaurants. These are the restaurants run by people who have come to India from Iran and have settled in the last century. These were our favourite joints in our school and college days. They would offer, Bun-Maska (butter), Pastries and Omelet. Chicken and mutton also used to be their speciality if you wanted to take lunch or dinner. I was coming home in the very clean Uber and could look around for a change, as I was not driving. We passed by an Irani restaurant called Regal! I now came to know how the times have changed. They had a display board saying special treat for people who keep fast for 9 days during the Navratri festival that is currently going on! (We always have some festival running or coming or just finished celebrating) Sabudana Wada, Sabudana Khichadi and so on. Typical Maharashtrian dishes. Goodluck is the most famous Irani restaurant in Pune. Looks like to grow their business, they are also offering stuff that people want. So happy to see the flexibility of the management. Another thing that I have seen these days is that these are small restaurants and are at prime locations. With traffic density soaring all the time, their prime locations have become no parking zones. Some of these hotels have bought a couple of shops near the restaurant so that they could provide parking space to at least 20 to 30 bikes, inside those shops!

Another great tradition that is going great guns in Pune, is cultural programs during the Ganapati Festival. Many colonies, apartments, condos have different programs on various days of this festival. In our Condo, there were cookery competitions, painting competitions. Youngest was my grand-daughter Rhea who gave a three-minute solo dance performance. Oldest was a 75 years old lady who took part in story-telling. Jaya and I also had fun. I interviewed her on the subject of modern technologies of IOT, AI, VR and AR. (These buzzwords were explained in the language all will understand) It was done in a chat format and we explained the technical things in such a way that common people could also easily understand the subject. We also kept it interactive and people asked a lot of questions! This is one tradition that should never be allowed to die! This brings people together, the main aim of Lokmanya Tilak who started this festival more than 100 years back. During this festival, people go to each other’s homes, sometimes uninvited, and attend the Ganapati Aarti (Prayers) which are performed in each home!

We keep on making a big noise about traffic chaos in any city. Pune is no exception. But my personal opinion is that Pune’s traffic is still manageable. But the indiscipline is rampant by the two-wheelers, trucks and buses. They break signals, bikes carry 3 or 4 people in place of allowed 2! They break helmet rule with vengeance! In most other cities this rule is followed quite well! They enter wrongly on a one-way street! But real information that you get is from Uber guys, three-wheeler auto chaps break the rules similarly to two-wheeler guys, so I don’t take their feedback seriously. There are surprises. The first thing we assume is that the traffic will be worst in the old part of the city. These are called Peths! The roads are narrow and winding, sometimes. But according to Uber guys, these areas are much better, traffic wise. According to them, the worst is Sinhgad Road and Nagar road. Hinjewadi IT park area is known for these issues simply because of the sheer volume  of vehicles which pour on the road, within a short span of time. Attempts are being made to correct this situation. But mind you, good things always come out in humans, when things go out of control. Nagar road traffic volume has been high and indiscipline has added to it. A group of people in that area created a WhatsApp group. (A creative way of using WA) At a very short notice volunteers from this group jump the fray and help the traffic to smoothen out. What they have done is to include some shopkeepers in that area who can easily see if there is a jam. They give precise location on WA and in a jiffy these guys, wardens working Pro Bono, come out and straighten things out.

Friends, I moved to Pune in 1967 and stayed over. In these 51 years, it has changed a lot but has remained same too! Change is because of technology and migration. Pune has already become cosmopolitan, with new International airport and Metro coming up, will same old  Pune exist at all? Maybe! In some pockets, it will remain the same good old Pune but in other areas, you may feel as if you are in any modern city! Will it be able to keep balance of both? Yes and no! Chitale’s of Pune have finally started advertising and with no breaks between 1 & 4 in the afternoon! Bhelpuri carts, now have to compete with Bhel Puri shops which sell other things like sandwiches and Ragda Pattice too! Puneri Misal is still famous so is sabudana khichadi (now sold even by Irani restaurants!) Only time will tell!

Human facets!

You may be postponing that one call, that one message, that one tinkle. Then you get used to it!

One of the meanings of the word facet is one side of something many-sided, especially of a cut gem. Whenever I think about the human mind and body, I always find new facets in different persons and even in the same person. These facets are after all are HIS creations. Human facets make a fascinating study. Recently, I heard an old song titli udi from the Hindi movie Suraj (1966) . I had never heard this song for its meaning but when I read the lyrics, I found them fascinating. I interpreted the song my way.

The word Titli in Hindi means Butterfly. The butterfly comes near a beautiful flower and the flower whispers, “please come to me for the nectar”! The butterfly says, “I am flying up in the sky! Beyond the clouds, there are flowers which to you are stars! I want to go beyond everything and reach them, as I want to cross the limits of what I can do. There will be none to tell me you do this and you do that because there will be no boundaries and limits!” The flower says, “Don’t go beyond because you will be waiting and waiting till infinity for your desires to be fulfilled.” The butterfly says, “Only when I spread my wings and go beyond, I will meet my Prince charming”! When butterfly flew beyond, she met new people and found her new persona! She met her Prince charming and love of her life! Wow! Such a simple song but such a deep meaning.

While listening to the song,  a kaleidoscope of different human facets came in mind. I went into a trance and started wondering about how this happens. The song reminded me of someone who was always passionate about doing things and always wanted to cross the limits that all of us face. Recently I read about a naval officer who wanted to circumnavigate the earth, alone, in a boat. He almost did it but for an accident. He got hurt in the accident and it took three days to pick him up. But he held on. I am sure once he overcomes his health issues, he will again attempt the same thing. Testing limits of own endurance both physically and mentally is  a facet of human beings, that I admire the most.

Knowing others is a trait which only humans have. Some people have the ability to get along with new people very quickly. I know someone who used to go on first name basis in the first meeting itself when calling each other by the first name was not so popular. He had a knack of doing it, he had that charm! But at the same time, he had the ability to keep the same affinity with people with whom he would lose touch due to circumstances. I once asked him how he did it? He said, “Pramod, look at any relationship. It may be love, it may be friendship, it may be a business relationship. Getting into a relationship is very simple but keeping it going is hard. You need to cultivate any and every relationship. Unless this is done, falling out of a relationship is quite simple. You just fall out. But that’s the hardest. I simply cannot handle falling out, so I would rather cultivate and keep the relationships going. In love, you have your moments like the butterfly had its moments, only the sky was her limit; two persons are the closest in this relationship!  In friendship, the relationship simply cannot be explained. In a business relationship, you have many good and bad memories of successful and failed projects. Falling out in a business relationship can affect your professional work too! He said, “Pramod, mind you. No matter how much you convince yourself otherwise, reciprocation is important. Without it, the relationship simply dies. You may be postponing that one call, that one message, that one tinkle. Then you get used to not communicating. But mind you, falling out of the relationship is the toughest!”

Another facet that I simply admire is the valour. We have read so many stories of going into battles with knowledge of sure death! We have all read of late Vikram Batra during Kargil war. He and his team had a target and he achieved it, though it was a very tough task and death was almost imminent. It is difficult to imagine such an act from a 22-year old officer. What drives these men? What must be going on in their mind at that juncture? I am sure these are not reckless men but men with a specific aim and great love for their motherland! We all of us know the story of Shelar mama in the battle of Sinhgad fort near Pune. When the going was adverse, he simply cut the ropes which were used to climb the Sinhgad fort, which is on a hill. He told his soldiers that they can’t go back and that one action brought out the courage in them and they won the battle. Baji Prabhu Deshpande, Shivaji’s general had promised Shivaji that he would make sure that Shivaji reached his destination safely. Till that time, he and his soldiers kept on fighting the moguls. When they heard the signal of Shivaji’s safe arrival, he plunged into the final battle and died.

I have talked of good aspects of humans but there are equally bad facets in humans. The Sabarimala case and “Me Too” are classic recent cases of the worst aspect of humans. What brings out superstitious side of humans, I am not sure. The Me Too is a classic case of male chauvinism where males try to throw their weight around to suppress, suffocate females and try to look for sexual benefits.

In case of Sabarimala, Supreme Court gave a ruling saying that the so-called religious tradition of not allowing the females whose menstrual cycles are active. This is because the God at Sabarimala is a bachelor and a celibate! Oh, come on! What is God? Who decides the marital status of Him? Who gave right to priests to decide this rule? Who gave them the right to decide this? This is a bad form of superstition! If these same ladies go to Ram temple, it is ok because Ram is married to Sita! Sounds logical? Says who? On one side we are talking of Industry 4.0 and in which a large number of ladies are actively involved, but on the other side we are trying to prevent 50% population from freedom! The ladies can take part in development, they can give birth to our children but they cannot enter the Mandir, what nonsense are we talking.

“Me Too” is also a similar bad facet of humans and males are creating this problem. I am not going into why this has been happening. But I see some different viewpoints expressed on the subject. A couple of ladies have a different opinion on this than the majority opinion, excepting of course those who are caught in Me Too! One is trying to shame Tanushree Datta and another one is claiming that sex in the film industry is always with consent! Wow! I did not know that the film industry was a secret branch of brothels! Have sex get a song, have sex get a role and so on. Take bribe in kind so that there are no issues with the IT department, later! Forget about your life’s balance sheet when you finally meet HIM!

Superstitions, Male chauvinism is a result of insecurities, being scared of going away from so-called traditions. In olden days, mandir’s were nearby, wearing footwear was not very common. If worn, they would be made of animal hide. So, priests must have formed the rules, no footwear. There were no concrete roads, no pucca roads so walking barefoot was manageable. The black colour is supposedly inauspicious; so, what is the logic that Ayyappa bhakts must wear black clothes! We are a tropical country, the people who go there to pay their obeisance are not professional climbers or trekkers. The black dress would add to their difficulties with heat and humidity! Oh, but this is the tradition and the bachelor God said that all must wear black!

I can go on and on but I will write more at a later stage! There are so many human traits some good and some bad. It’s really a fascinating aspect of our lives. I will slowly delve in them. CIAO!

Loneliness & Isolation!

Expecting returns and NOT getting it, is one of the reasons, why the isolation starts!

Loneliness is a feeling of sadness or distress about being by yourself or feeling disconnected from the world around you. It may be felt more over a long period of time. It is also possible to feel lonely, even when surrounded by people.

Isolation is being separated from other people and your environment. Sometimes this occurs through decisions we make ourselves, or because of circumstance e.g. doing a job that requires travel or relocation.

loneliness-and-isolation-quotes-2

The above picture shows a positive way of looking at life!

The above two are definitions of two feelings, that human being gets some time in life. This can happen at any age and can happen due to different reasons. There are different remedies to the same. But one thing is sure, these feelings are bad for the humans and earlier humans overcome them, is better. Though age is no bar, chances of this happening at an older age are much more. World over these two feelings are discussed together hence I am also treating them as same but one thing is well proven that these conditions lead to early deaths!

What are the reasons for Loneliness & Isolation?

Though the reasons are many, the most important being living alone, introverted personality, major long-term illness, loss of job and death of the spouse. Some of the reasons I have mentioned are a real shock, like death, to each of us but some are not able to cope.

I will try and separate them into tangible and intangible reasons. I am using this word in a slightly different way. Tangible means perceptible by touch but I am taking it as something for which there is a visible reason, like death.

  • Death of spouse, close family member or a close friend is an event which puts everyone in a state of loneliness for some time. Many of us overcome these shocks within a reasonable period of time but some people take much longer or they need medical or psychiatric treatment. This could be because such people are
    • Born that way, introverts
    • Don’t have close family ties or ties with friends
    • Live away from the family
  • Living alone for various reasons can be is another thing that creates loneliness within us. This can be because of loss of the spouse, a job change resulting in other family members living elsewhere.
  • Some are introverts by nature and find it difficult to meet new people. So, when the people whom you meet regularly, go away from your life, things can become difficult. Some people have a feeling that they don’t belong! They also feel a lack of purpose or meaning in life.
  • Poor physical health, frailty, mobility issues are some of the issues that can lead to the feeling of loneliness. Long-term illnesses and treatment make you feel that you are alone in this world. I was treated for cancer in 2013 end. My treatment went on for three months and rehabilitation was another three months. Luckily my own and my family’s positiveness helped me. In such situations having a reasonably comfortable financial situation is also helpful.
  • Some people have a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety. This is an illness of the mind. It creates a situation such that there is a fear of rejection from others or feelings of being “different” or stigmatized by society. What happens in such cases is that others in the society do not know how to react to such persons.
  • Inability to participate in activities due to access issues, mobility, illness, transport. This really is an issue which can be easily resolved but you need to take support from people if required. During one of our alumni get together, one of our friends who has very poor eyesight called me to say that he wanted to attend the gathering. I coordinated with one friend who lived in the same area. Our friend really enjoyed the meet!
  • Retirement from work, home relocation, starting out in a new role or community puts some people in difficulties as they are not able to cope up. These changes in life are level two events after death in the family! I know of someone who left his home in Mumbai fifteen years back and stays with his children in Pune and Bangalore. But he still cannot overcome this change simply longs for his Mumbai home.
  • Language or cultural barriers, or reduced connection with your culture of origin is one more reason. This can easily happen in India, especially for older people, when their adaptability is reduced. Living in foreign countries for six months, post-retirement can be tough because of the language issue, weather conditions like snow. People feel in Geographic isolation.
  • Feeling lost in the crowd is another mental condition that needs treatment.

How to cope up with Loneliness & Isolation?

It is very easy for others to say, you do this and you do that but persons who face the problems find it difficult to reach the solutions. Those who are born with natural positiveness, also face these difficulties but they overcome them. Another example is, we think that Public figures and stage personalities do not have stage fright. That is not true, they also have the same issues like all others but they overcome them, mask them, hide them well.

  • Connect or reconnect with friends and family: staying in contact with loved ones can prevent loneliness and isolation. If your family does not live nearby, technology can help you stay in touch. Speak to them on WhatsApp or talk on Skype video. These are free. Keep in touch with them regularly.
  • Get out and about: Regular outings for social functions, exercise, visiting friends, doing shopping, or simply going to public places can help. Don’t avoid functions either public or private. If not, take long walks in gardens where you will see many people and maybe you will like a few of them, you may want to know them.
  • Volunteer: Helping others is a great way to help yourself feel more connected. Besides that, the feeling of goodness that comes within you because you are able to help somebody boosts your happy feelings.
  • Consider getting a pet: Pets are wonderful companions and can provide comfort and support during times of stress, ill-health or isolation. They give you love without expecting any returns. Expecting returns and NOT getting it, is one of the reasons, why the isolation starts. But don’t forget one thing. There is work involved in having a dog as a pet. Their food, their walking, their poo poo collection and so many things. Then along with your visits to the doctor, Vet visits get added.
  • Get support: If loneliness and social isolation are causing you distress, you should discuss your concerns with a doctor, counsellor or a trusted person. Don’t feel shy to openly asking for support. Remember people may not know that you need help unless you tell them.
  • Focus on others needs: Focus on the needs and feelings of others, give less attention to your lonely thoughts and feelings. You can be involved in yourself all the time or you can think of others too! Interacting with others is better! Enjoy the site of different people in their own thoughts and their own moods, you can smile at strangers too!
  • Try new things: Try to do some different things but don’t expect perfection and don’t expect people to appreciate what you are doing!

Ultimately, one has to find his own solution and there is no formula for this. Attempt different methods to interact with people, you may find some givers or some takers but don’t give up if you meet only takers initially; those people may have their own problems but keep on attempting. The world is too beautiful to live alone, try and enjoy to the best of your ability with others, with or without someone’s help!

There is a saying, if you see someone without a smile, give him one of yours! In the same vein if you see someone looking lonely, forlorn, isolated go out of your way to bring that person back to normal life! Tomorrow that person could be you!

16th August 1995 to 23rd September 2018!

As each sibling forms own family, parents and other siblings are moved to the outer intersecting circle!

In my blog last week, “So long farewell, we too say Goodbye!”, I had written about how I had bid goodbye to my “home”, without realizing it. Now I am thinking of the other side of the event. Obviously, I cannot ask my parents how they felt about my moving out, as they have passed long back. I never had the strength and maturity to ask them this question. Many times, it so happens that humans, in their zest to do well in life, go ahead; follow their projected trajectory. Go out for higher education, take up jobs and do well in their life. This is the evolution of human life and that is how it is expected to happen.

But in the background, a lot of things happen, which creates an atmosphere for the progress of people. In the background, in most cases, it is the parents who take efforts to help the children to achieve what they want, create the atmosphere to reach their goals, smoothly. In some cases, parents do a lot of sacrifices too! I am not talking about what the children should give back to their parents. My views are very clear on this, children don’t have to give anything back to the parents!  It is the parent’s responsibility to make their children strong to face the world!

But in my case, it never occurred to me, what my parents must have gone through when I left home. Did they feel the vacuum? What stress they must have felt? As I was the youngest of the siblings, when I left home, my parents were the only family that remained as a unit! When I left home I was immature and later on, I became too engrossed with my college. Immediately after college, I got married. Parents were never in my thoughts even though I loved them a lot, I cared for them in my own way.

I remember a couple of incidents from those times. I used to be in the engineering college at Pune and my parents lived in Bombay. I used to go to Bombay during the holidays. My mother would be waiting for me eagerly, keeping some lovely foodstuff ready for me. My father would go to the office and send his car back home for me to spin around! Petrol tank, of course, was always full! My father was a senior police officer and a very strict one. His demeanour was that of an efficient go-getter! Once during holidays, my mother was unwell and her health deteriorated quickly by midnight. My father woke me up, I had never ever seen him so worried! I told him not to worry and with the exuberance of the youth, I spoke to the hospital and drove my parents to the hospital. After about 12 hours, my mother’s health dramatically improved. I could see the palpable relief on my father’s face. Had I not been with them at that time, I am sure my father would have easily managed everything. But I also felt that my father was relieved because I was around. It was probably emotional support that they were looking for. I went back to Pune later, forgot everything and was back in my own world! How many such incidents may have happened during those times, in my absence, is the question that comes to mind?

16th August 1995 is the date on which our son went to the USA for his further education. I remember this date for obvious reasons but there was an incident that happened on our way to Bombay. As we were reaching Bombay, something hit our car below the engine area. The car engine started making a bit of noise so I had to stop the car. We found out that a big stone had hit bracket on which the engine is mounted. Such stones are left on the roads by truck drivers when they stop their vehicles on the road for some repairs. There was no expressway during those times. We somehow were able to reach a garage which was nearby. I called a cab and reached Bombay. We had kept enough margin to reach the airport on time. Next day the family went back to Pune. I got the car repaired and the day after I took the car back to Pune.

For the next few days or months, I am not really sure, we felt the emptiness but our daughter was with us. Three of us always missed him but then the reality struck that he will be away at least for a couple of years. Slowly, we continued with our life. Two years became five; he had come back to get married in between. Then five years became ten; he moved from the east coast to west coast and this year it is 23 years since he left “home”. Of course, now he has his home, he has his own family. In between, he kept on coming back and we also went to him as and when it was possible. But the visits, both to the US and India were as visitors. Luckily, Jaya and I were quite busy in that phase so was our daughter. In the initial phase, when the social media was evolving, we used to talk on phone depending on how busy all of us were. Cell phones were in the evolution phase so we had to rely more on the landline.

During these 23 years, there was only one major health issue in the year 2013. I needed to be treated for cancer. Our son could come for a couple of weeks. I could see the unease on his face when he went back. But I look at the whole thing from a different angle. Had he been staying in Bangalore or Delhi or Timbaktu, the situation would have been the same. Once children get busy in their career and their families, the natural progression is that they get busy in their own stuff. I had mentioned in one of the blogs about intersecting circles.

Circles

Circles1The images explain this concept clearly. In the first image, the Innermost circle is the core family circle which has parents and siblings. As each sibling forms own family, parents and other siblings are moved to the outer intersecting circle. That is how the world moves, that is the name of the game, that is nature!  The second image of intersecting circles shows the complexity that can form later in life, due to the formation of new families. As the generations change, you go into a circle on the periphery.

What is the significance of the date 23rd September 2018! Our grandson completed his 12th grade and joined a University for Computer Engineering course. He moved to the dormitory! What thoughts have been going on in my son and his wife’s mind? I do not know. I am sure the thoughts will be the same as what we had. This is one training that I do not think we gave to our son. But this is very essential like all other training. This aspect of life is never taught in any course, in any college. It is learnt in the life’s school!

But there is one more angle to this scenario that we see these days. I know of a family where the mother is 90 plus and has a very serious case of dementia. Hers is an extremely difficult case to manage, and she is being nursed at home with the help of supporting staff. Her eldest son and his wife look after her. Her other younger son lives in a different country. He is also retired but they come and support the mother for a couple of months. Is it incidental? Winter is very harsh in those months in that country. Who should share such responsibilities? This is a very tricky situation and handling it is not easy. We also hear some stories about children inviting parents to their homes only when they need babysitting or some such support.

Honestly, I really do not know what the correct approach is; but to me, each one is a different case. Most of the times we hear only one sided version. It is difficult to come to any conclusion. I have heard of a story about travel by my friend. I don’t know what adjective to give to this story. Whether it is funny or horror story or a practical thing to do. They have two children staying in the US. I found that they were traveling separately on different days. The reason was two children wanted the best “monitory deal” for ticket. Does it matter that they had to travel separately? Such problems maybe faced if the parents are financially not independent!

Before India’s independence in 1947, most people hardly left their area of birth for green pastures. But with progress all around things have changed a lot. There is good Hindi word called बिरादरी; people still marry in बिरादरी! But with progress they live all over the world. Material progress and progress in our thought process need to go hand in hand. Once that is achieved, it hardly matters. To me the circles below are the true representations of today’s times. Or is it the first first image? I am confused!

Circles3

Meandering!

It feels nice to meander once in a while!

 

Meandering means following a winding course. This adjective is used for rivers. I saw some beautiful pictures of meandering rivers, on the net and felt like sharing with you! The river water just takes its course following the path of least resistance. Today my thoughts are meandering like the river and jump from one thought to another, just meandering along. In my city Pune, we have two rivers called Mutha and Mula. Their confluence is within the city. Mutha river has a path which hardly meanders, in fact, the river hardly has any water around the year. I am generous in this description. In any year, there are only 3 to 4 days when it can be called a river otherwise it is a stream! This is during monsoons when the upstream dams get full!

Yesterday my day started with a phone call from my friend Shrikant who is holidaying in Spain and Portugal. A rumour had reached him that a dam upstream of the river Mutha had broken and water was flowing above one of the bridges. Thanks to social media! I told him that there was a breach in the canal which draws water from the dam. The breach had caused a bit of flooding in the shanties along the canal, causing damage to homes of many families. As the water kept on coming on an extremely busy major road, there was a traffic jam in large part of the city. In the social media, the breach in canal got converted into a dam breakage!

Another friend who is currently in the US, sent me a message that I have become old, after reading my blog “What really is Romance?” I sent him 🤣🤣 as a reply! Dilip and I were classmates and both are around 70. I was wondering how I suddenly became old with one blog? My definition of romance was being together, sharing everything with each other, face life’s tough situations with a smile, together. Just a touch of hand and caress is romance. These are practicalities of life and has nothing to with age Dilip! Personally, I feel that I am around 45, age-wise, when I am in the gym I feel as if I am 55! Never in my life yet I have felt my real age around 70. Five years back I underwent cancer treatment. My health was down for about six months but even during the treatment my zest for the life never went down.

Our Supreme Court has taken five major decision a short span of last ten days. The interesting part is that 3 of them involved something related to sex. First one was about the gays. Now gays can openly move around in the society, maybe with their heads high. But I always used to wonder what is normal? A man and woman have liking for each other, have sex and make babies. As against that two men or women have liking for each other, have sex and obviously can’t make babies. What is abnormal in that? What was illegal in that? Why their heads had to be down? The gays are made such by nature. Do we mean to say that in “normal” people there are no freaks, there are no perverts, there is no rapist? In fact, rapists are the worst normal persons who go and rape kids, they go and rape even old women of the age of 70 plus.

Next one is about adultery. Finally, the Victorian era seems to be coming to an end – the judgment on Section 497 is progressive in many ways. In the context of changing social realities of our times, especially the transforming gender equations. Justice Chandrachud has cited the violation of Articles 14 and 21, saying that Section 49 perpetuates the subordinate status of women, denies them dignity and sexual autonomy, and is based on gender stereotypes. Previous law said that in the case of adultery if a man had consensual sex with a woman without permission from her husband, he could be arrested. The judgement has removed the criminality from the law. It is allowing women sexual autonomy! We are moving with times!

The latest one is about Sabarimala Devasthanam. They did not permit ladies between the age of 10 and 50 to pay their obeisance at the Devasthanam. They declared that women in this age group have their menstrual cycles active hence they are impure! Hence, they should not visit! Men who had taken this decision seem to forget that they came into this world because their mother had an active menstrual cycle and had sex with someone. They are the result of these two so-called impure acts! This is the tact used by men in patriarchal society to control things the way they wanted it. The court has said that in the democratic nation, rights of individuals are above the so-called traditions which have formed in a society and the thought process, which is totally irrelevant today. Some years back there was an incident. There was a case of theft at Sabarimala and 35-year DCP came to investigate. To the horror of the priests, the officer was a lady! Of course, she went inside and did her job!

Then there was the famous case of Babri Masjid. Supreme Court has given a decision that the case has nothing to do with religion and should be treated as a civil suit. According to the verdict, it is simply a land dispute case and will be decided based on the evidence available.

The last case is about the so-called intellectuals arrested by Pune police. A big noise was made by intellectuals about freedom of speech and freedom of expression. They claimed that it is a politically motivated case and should be summarily dismissed. Supreme Court has said that there is evidence to prove that these intellectuals were connected with a disbanded Maoist organization who have various plans, including bringing down the Indian Government by using force! What is it with these intellectuals? They do not say a word when Maoists kill people, last week two MLA’s in Telangana were murdered. Sometimes back 71 security forces were killed in an IED attack. Not a word of protest. These people have been praising terrorists as if they are freedom fighters fighting for India. Under the garb of freedom of speech, freedom of expression, these folks and their followers make statements which an enemy would generally make. When terrorists are killed, these guys write to the Human Rights Commission. But when security forces are brutally kidnapped and murdered, they are away on a holiday to cold climes! They are strong followers of communism at its worse, though all over the world communism has died.

Ignorance is bliss they say but is not treating your medical issues on time the right thing to do? Heard this one from a neurologist. The patient was diagnosed for MS, multiple sclerosis. This condition is tough on your body. The doctor further said that this has been going on for five years! Why do people delay going to doctors? The person accompanying the patient mentioned that he also suffered from diabetes, which currently was well controlled. Only thing is that the he needs dialysis twice a week, side effect of “controlled diabetes!” Amen!

On a lighter note, thank Mr Trump for starting a trade war with China. Mercedes Benz is now exporting their cars to the USA, from India instead of China! So long….

So long farewell, we too say Goodbye!

Till the end of first half of the last century, life was quite simple not as dynamic as today!

This is a song from the famous 1965 English movie, “Sound of Music”. The situation for the song is appropriate; there is a party going on at home and the father expects the children to withdraw and go to sleep. I love this song hence I am sharing the link for you. 

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwiboazShcfdAhXKbSsKHc40Do0Q3ywwAHoECAYQBA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DQy9_lfjQopU&usg=AOvVaw3Oypy-dx1J99WvYzEPFDBq 

In our lives we also say farewell to people, situations and homes. This is part of life and happens in case of most of us. Sometimes we do so with knowledge but sometimes we do it without realizing. The question will come in mind “How do we do it without realizing?” I did it without realizing. After my first-year science year at Elphinstone College in Bombay, I moved to the college hostel at Churchgate in Mumbai. It was a natural recourse as my father was transferred outside Bombay. One fine day I entered the hostel, all bag and baggage! Little did I realize that I had left my home, as I had known it, forever. Our sister was married at that time, my parents, my elder brother and me was our family. The same year my brother moved to the United States. So, the family as we knew it, was reduced to only my parents!  

I was all of 17 years old, and never realized the significance of my moving to the hostels. I completed my Inter Science, moved from Elphinstone College Hostels to COEP Hostel in Pune. While in COEP I met Jaya, we got married after completing my first degree and rest as they say is history. Did I realize the significance of moving to the hostel in Elphinstone College? Did I know that I will never go back “home”? Was I mentally prepared for that move? Was I mature enough to think in those terms? Honestly, I did not have that maturity, I did not have a clue! Studies were the last priority in those days but we had a Parsee friend in hostel in Arts course; he made us study to ensure that we could get ourselves admitted to engineering course. But we did have some students who had a tough time adjusting to life outside the warmth of their homes. I made one life long friend Sharad while at Telang Hostel!

In retrospection, did I miss something? Yes, of course I did. I miss my father especially as he died quite early at an age of 63, when I was 31.  I was busy setting up my family and my home. My father was a person who would call spade a spade; this trait I have picked up from him. He used to like to pun, would make some while chatting, another trait that I picked up from him. I once remember him pulling legs of his younger brother, bhau. My uncle, bhaukaka, in those days used to wear hard contact lenses. Once he was struggling to wear them. My father coolly told him, “Bhau, why don’t you wear glasses first,  so that you will be able to see where you are putting your lenses”! I would have laughed whole heartedly but due to respect of the elderly, I only smiled looking, at my father. He was supposedly very tough outwardly, but Jaya and I had excellent rapport with him. Jaya was the first professional lady working in our family and my father was supportive of her, always. When Jaya received a UN scholarship for MS degree in the US, she asked my father if she can take this opportunity. Our son was six years old at that time. My father told her, “What is there to ask? Just go. Why do you think we are here?” Unfortunately, he died within three months of Jaya going to the US. I was lucky that my mother lived to be with us for next 25 years. When I ruminate about leaving home in 1966, I always feel that I missed out on my father’s company. But If-Else scenario is a double-edged weapon. If I had not left home in 1966, then I would not have met Jaya!    

Till the end of first half of the last century, life was quite simple  not as dynamic as today. One was born and brought up in a town or a village. Lived in the same home as ancestors, either owned or rented. Went to school, going to college was not very common in those days. Took up some work that was available, married, procreated and died. There was not much change in lives. If at all there was any migration, only the bread winner would move to bigger town or city but the family would stay behind.  So, there were hardly any So Longs, Alvida or Sayonara!  

My niece’s son got admitted to IIT ten years back. The day he was to move to IIT, we were with them in Bombay. I asked the kid, “Do you understand the significance of today?” He said, “Yes, I am joining IIT!” I said, “That is not what is important. Starting today, when you come to this place, which just now is your home, you will come with your bag as a guest. After your education, you will move elsewhere for further education. Then settle there and will get married and …..” I am sure if he reads this blog, he will remember what I had said. He works in Tesla in the US and is getting married in November!  

In life there are many other situations where “so long” situations come up. These are when you change your job, when you retire, and another frequent situation that is coming up in people’s lives is divorce. In all these situations the decision is not sudden. Yes and we change homes too! I will share a small ancedote about home changing. A friend of my daughter met me once, and while chatting asked me where we lived. Then I told him about our home changes. He said, “You seem to be very cool, about changing homes. My father still thinks of our Bombay home which we left 30 years back and he still feels unsettled.”

When you change a job, it is an ongoing thing and we generally know at least a couple of months before we change. Job change could result into a new job, starting your own business or moving to another country. In this situation, relations that you have formed are not very deep but for a small duration we may feel a little uneasy. During one such job, I met a friend who became my life-long friend, Dilip;  he unfortunately died last year. But such occurences are very rare. When you move to a foreign country it’s both exciting and tough call. Exciting for obvious reasons but tough call is because we are going to get cut off from our routes, modern communication helps you reduce the distance, virtually, but there is no replacement for physical proximity. This “so long” is  emotional because you are going to be far from your near and dear ones, your friends and your daily smells and daily noises!  

Even tougher “so long” must be the case where couples divorce each other. This is reality of life and cannot be ignored. This number is increasing; during the process of divorce the couples, I am sure have a lot of animosity with each other. Then there will be aspects of money, children and many other important aspects of life. So, I shudder to think as there may not be any “so long” after such a close relation!  

Retirement phase of course must be a real emotional phase because you get cut off from whatever you were doing every day for 40 years, you get cut off from the very same people with whom you have been meeting day in and day out! I have now semi-retired and I have gone through this phase recently. Everything else is manageable except the emotional part but I think time heals everything. 

Toughest of course is the final parting with this world! But there is a silver lining to this. You don’t have to say “so long” as you don’t get time to do so! You also don’t know whether people really miss you or they are happy that you are gone! 😊😊 

Alvida for now! Don’t you worry, I am not going anywhere!

 

 

 

 

 

Mind Over Matter!

The placebo effect is a well-known treatment in the medical field!

Mind over matter means the use of willpower to overcome physical problems. But I am not going strictly by definition.

In my younger days, I used to eat Paan (Betel Leaf) regularly. Many times, it would so happen that I just could not fall asleep after eating betel leaf, maybe some ingredients from Paan would take over my mind. But this happens otherwise also. On some days my mind works in overdrive; every few minutes new thoughts come to my mind. I toss and turn for an hour or an hour and a half. The speed with which my mind works is unbelievable. What is it that makes one’s mind work furiously? What is it that puts mind on idle? But this phenomenon can also be put to good use. As I was musing about this, many examples came to mind. 

Recently my daughter Priya went for a training program to Hyderabad. She was leaving her four-year-old daughter with the family, naturally. This was her first such journey without her daughter. There were more tears in the eyes of the mother than in those of her daughter. Priya had prepared her daughter with the idea that she will travel. So, her daughter’s mind took over the matter and she was ok. After Priya came back, I told her that this was the real-life example of mind over matter. This was a very simple example but we have read of many complex distress situations where mothers have shown extraordinary efforts to help their kids to be saved from dangerous situations, by making physical efforts way beyond normal human strength. A child stuck underneath a car or child precariously stuck on a tree! Researchers have found no explanation besides Mind Over Matter (MOM). 

The placebo effect is a well-known treatment in the medical field. It is a well-proven fact that during treatment of diseases, certain % of patients get well without medication. The doctors offer patients a very simple tablet like calcium tablet or a paracetamol to treat difficult diseases. I know of my colleague for the last 20 years, who gets anxiety and panic attacks, sometimes because of stress in family life and sometimes situations, even he can’t explain. He gets palpitations, increased heart rate, numbness in limbs and so on. I have guided him to the best of physicians and neuro physicians in Pune. They check all sorts of things like ECG and the stuff as a precautionary step. But they always conclude the same, almost zero problems. He is given a placebo and “gets well” in a day or two. That he is a hypochondriac adds to the complexity! But his symptoms are real! The placebo effect is getting proven more strongly day by day. Pharma industry is going through a big churning because simple bland tablets are curing the patients instead of their costly medicines. Just the thought of being treated by a good doctor cures patients.

It seems counterintuitive that increasing numbers of people are claiming to put a greater effort into exercising and eating a nutritious diet, yet there are more obese people in the world than ever before. Some researchers think that positivity is a missing variable in the weight loss equation, and a lack of it is what’s keeping people chubby. An exercise was conducted on a group of hotel maids, all of them were overweight. After discussing with them, researchers found that these maids used to do a lot of physical work every day. But all of them somehow had a perception that they were not doing enough exercise. They were then divided into two groups. One group was told that their daily physical activity was studied and found to be more than recommended by doctors. The other group was not told anything. A month later, the research team returned to the hotel and reevaluated the maids. They found an overall decrease in systolic blood pressure, weight, and waist-to-hip ratio in the informed group. The other group had no significant physical changes. The researchers concluded that the maids had not made any changes in their work pattern but the their “information” somehow created a positivity in their mind and it started working on their bodies.  

There is a classic story of a young athletic woman from Newyork. She used to go jogging every day in the Central Park in Newyork. Some area in the central park can be lonely, sometimes. Worst misfortune hit the lady. She was caught by surprise, attacked and brutally raped. They found her after some time and was rushed to a hospital in the unconscious state. She was in the same state after three days. A doctor was checking her on the fourth day. The lady suddenly sat up for a minute or so. She was disoriented but she asked the doctor, “Where are my jogging shoes?” He was a smart doctor, he realized that there was a strong lady and in spite of the trauma, she was more concerned about her shoes. He told his family to get the shoes to the hospital and kept them in such a way that she would see them every time she opened her eyes. She came of out of unconscious state after a week or so but every time she “woke up” she would ask the same question about shoes. She became normal in two months and started jogging again. The doctor explained to the family that the lady was a fighter and had a very strong mind. So even during the trauma, she was more concerned about her jogging and she could put rape behind!  

In the Indian city of Hyderabad, a family has taken up an activity as social work. They claim that they have knowledge of a medicinal paste which cures Asthma. They give it only during some special auspicious days (according to them). A small issue is that they put it in the body of a small fish. The fish needs to be swallowed. Hundreds of thousands of people, from all over, go there during those days, including many vegetarians. After all, it is supposed to cure the Asthma. The patient needs to look up and fish is shoved down the patient’s throat. I can imagine the thoughts going through a vegetarian patient’s mind. Does it work? Honestly, I do not know. I am not aware of statistics. But I am sure it must be working as the placebo. I checked with a friend of mine who visits Hyderabad for this purpose, regularly. When I asked him, “Does the treatment work? Is it really effective?” He is a pretty normal guy, normally. He said, “Of course, it works”. So, I asked him, “Then why to go every year?” He looked at me, now we are not in touch with each other after my question. Placebo, maybe!    

Mind over Matter (MOM) is a real phenomenon and it makes humans achieve many things which physically may never have been possible, except for MOM! 

Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius is a South African sprint runner and a convicted murderer. Both of Pistorius’ legs were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old. He got artificial limbs for him became a Paralympic champion,  At the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, Pistorius became the first amputee to win a non-disabled world track medal. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Pistorius became the first double-leg amputee to participate in the Olympic Games.  His photo is shown below.

MOM anybody? Yes, it is the real phenomenon and does amazing things for the humans! 

Pistorius