Be a proud foot soldier!

mundane2

Five years back, I had written a blog where I wrote my thoughts about a tree that we have in our garden. 

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/parijatak-%e0%a4%89%e0%a4%b0%e0%a5%8d%e0%a4%ab-nyctanthes-arbor-tristis/ 

In retrospection, I find that my impressions of that time have hardly changed. The world can never be full of topnotch performers, leaders, inventors, people who lead the human race. The world is full of average people, with ordinary ambitions like you and me. You may never be famous, but that is ok! Do I mean to say that we should never dream, we should never think big? Should we not keep on gazing at stars? Should you not be the one hitting the sixer to win the Cricket World Cup? But there can be only a Dhoni to millions of cricketers playing on the grounds of Yorkshire, Maidans of Mumbai and the gullies of small towns in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is ok to be average.  

In the days of modern communication like FB and WA, the perspective can become skew. When an event takes place and is shared, you get a million likes! (Ok, I am exaggerating, but you get a lot of likes) You have some similar event in your life, but you don’t publish it on the FB, or maybe you publish it. You get five likes. You don’t need to get frustrated. What you have done is liked by your dear ones, and you have felt the joy because you did it. To me, the pleasure of doing things is more important than getting the likes. Just because you got a minimal number of “likes” does not mean that your deed was less important 

mundane1

You don’t have to change the world or find your one real purpose to lead a meaningful life. A good life is a life of goodness — and that’s something anyone can aspire to, no matter what their dreams or circumstances are. Success is not in fame and glamour, but in routine and mundane too! Real meaning and purpose of life can be found in doing something useful for your family and friends. Cheering up your friends, and spending some time with a person who is unwell and looking for company.

We have been lucky that many people come to Jaya and me to share their woes, sometimes not even looking for advice. We are not analysts, nor are we experts in resolving personal issues. But it is a great pleasure to see a smile on that person’s face when he goes after sharing.  Here what we do is give them an ear and make them feel at home. Tricky situations in someone’s life should do not make them bad people. We should make sure that their dignity remains intact after the discussions. 

In today’s world, we see many achievers who are below 30 years of age. Their every deed, every achievement gets them on TV and the internet. After watching these repeatedly, we start feeling inferior, for no reason. We think this way because we inadvertently begin comparing our lives with those of the achievers. We believe that the achievers life is the new gold standard of how to live life. But don’t forget that you are not called to live their life, you are to live yours! 

Your life’s calling is to help and love those near and dear ones in your life.  You should do this in your neighbourhood, your community or your circle of influence. By doing these good things, you may never be on TV; you may never be publicly praised. You may never be garlanded. Your fulfilment is based on what you are doing on your own rather than whether you are your interviewed on TV or there are articles written in various publications. In whatever you are doing, give your best shot! Make the best of what your life has given you.  

Look for small gems that life brings to you. Your grandmother may have better advice for you than the bestselling author.  Your mother might share with you a little titbit, which might help you complete your project faster. You may find a single mother telling you more about the sacrifice that some expert on TV may say to you. 

These are the men and women we ought to seek out in life—and learn as much from them as we possibly can, about living life to the fullest. Seek out those mentors. They may never be famous, but that’s O.K. 

In the blog link above, I have said the same thing about the flower Parijatak. That flower is not a fancy one like a rose or a heliconia. The Parijatak is like a footsoldier but keeps marching along like the infantry. It is not glamorous; not many people discuss it, not many write about it. These trees do not offer shade like their cousins, the Banyan and the Mango trees. But they keep on giving pleasure in their own way.  

It is not a crime to be well known and famous. But a tiny percentage of people reach that pinnacle. That does not mean that you and I are not important. It so happens that among a lot of talented people, some are at the right place at the right time. Hence, they reach the top but if you don’t reach there, it is not the end of the world. Not reaching the top does not mean that we should not enjoy whatever contribution we are giving to this world; we should always enjoy it. Offering the same help and support to others is a joy that cannot be compared with anything. A Padmashree winning person and one without the award may be doing the same work, with the same passion. Not winning the award should not make you unhappy because your happiness is in doing it and not in being recognised. 

Keep on marching, friends! That is what the foot soldiers do. 

 

 

 

 

 

Heer Ranza or Romeo Juliet!

This is a love song from a movie Jab Kisise Pyar Hota Hai (1961). The lovers say,  “I have loved you since last hundred years and will keep on doing so for ever!”  A typical fantasy!

Marriage or union of two persons for life brings stories of Romeo and Juliet or Heer and Ranza, in front of our eyes. (Life has become trickier with same-sex marriages and all!) Our literature romanticizes the union and we all think that life is full of roses. But after some time, these beautiful roses start to wither and petals are what we are left with. I am not a pessimist but these are the facts of life! A relationship between husband and wife are never as romantic or rosy as they seem from distance. I had mentioned this in a blog I had written a month back where I wrote about friendship.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2018/10/21/human-nature-a-mystery/

To me, marriages are of two types. Historically, we married for logical reasons but lately, some marriages are based on feelings. Marriage based on romance and love are the imaginations of writers and poets! Romeo and Juliet or Heer and Ranza never had to discuss, EMI’s, promotions, illnesses, and yes, children, that are the result of the initial passion, remnants of the times when petals had not started falling down.

Current descriptions, love marriage and arranged marriage are also ways to describe of how people get married. In olden days, love marriages were a rarity but in modern times with males and females living independently, before marriage, in large cities and getting opportunities to meet each other in a no family settings, leads to love marriages and of course, sometimes to live-in relationships.

For most of the recorded history, people married for logical sorts of reasons because you were neighbours and were equals in the society, his family had a flourishing business, her father was the General Manager in a factory, there was a farmhouse close to city to keep up, or both sets of parents were from the of same caste and creed (politically correct word for this is Biradari), or were members of the same club. But once you reached the petals stage, from such reasonable marriages, there flowed loneliness, infidelity, abuse, a hardness of heart and screams heard through the nursery doors. The marriage of reason was not reasonable at all; it was often expedient, narrow-minded, snobbish and exploitative. That is why what has replaced it — the marriage of feelings — are taking its place.

Why do the famous roses start withering? Perhaps we have a latent tendency to get furious when someone disagrees with us or can relax only when the person agrees with you. (By that time the other person is furious, is another story) Nobody’s perfect. The problem is that before marriage, we rarely delve into our complexities. Whenever casual relationships threaten to reveal our flaws, we blame our partners and call it a day. As for our friends, they don’t care enough to do the hard work of informing us. One of the privileges of before marriage is, the sincere impression that we are really quite easy to live with.

Before getting married, couples should ask a question to each other, “How crazy are you”? Because each individual has some quirks and without getting married and intimate, most of these will remain hidden. A very smart hubby might turn out “momma’s boy” or may love to burp after each meal; or smart wife of yours, of bouncy and fluffy hair might be applying tons of pungent oil to her hair before sleeping!

Before getting married, the couple and their family generally check a few things. We try to understand the person and the family. We visit their homes. We look at their photos, we meet their college friends. All this contributes to a sense that we’ve done our homework. But we haven’t. Marriage ends up as a hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by two people who don’t know yet who they are or who the other might be! We never make an attempt to find out the so-called “hidden” stuff! Most people don’t hide things purposely but they remain hidden because they were not checked. For example, a family may be very stingy or overly flamboyant!

We need to swap the Romantic view for an awareness that every human will frustrate, anger, annoy, madden and disappoint us — and we will  do the same to them, too. There can be no end to our sense of emptiness and incompleteness. But none of this is unusual or grounds for divorce. Choosing whom to commit ourselves to is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for.

This pessimistic thinking  offers a solution to a lot of distress and agitation around marriage. It might sound odd, but pessimism relieves the excessive imaginative pressure that our romantic culture places upon marriage. The failure of our partner to save us from our grief and melancholy is not an argument against that person and no sign that a union deserves to fail or be upgraded. These are the brass tacks of life!

What matters in the marriage of feeling is that two people are drawn to each other by an overwhelming instinct and know in their hearts that it is right. Indeed, the more imprudent a marriage appears (perhaps it’s been only six months since the two met; one of them has no job or both are barely out of their teens), the safer it can feel. Recklessness is taken as a counterweight to all the errors of reason. To me, instinct is better than centuries old thoughts of unreasonable reasoning.

When Jaya and I got married at an early age, she had a teaching job and I was in the final term of graduate study. Instinct told us that “the stars” would match. Young age helped us overcoming the petal phase very easily because of lack of maturity. We had almost no professional experience hence whenever we discussed any differences of opinion, these were just that, discussion about differences of opinion! They never turned out into minutes of meeting kind of thing! During our last meeting…. blah, blah, blah! During these discussions, we learned to accommodate each other’s thoughts, ways of expressing things. (This is what maturity is all about!) No strong argument is good or bad; couples come to understand, over a period, the acceptable standards of nasty levels! We started understanding what other did not like! In courtship and honeymoon phase, the couples are literally on the moon! So, when the aircraft lands on the earth, quirks and warts become visible! Each human being has different moods through the day, like our blood pressure or sugar level keeps on going up and down! You can’t be in love 24/7!

Finally, we marry to make a nice feeling permanent. We imagine that marriage will help us to bottle the joy we felt when the thought of proposing first came to us. Perhaps we were in an office picnic, a new year party, we were together during a hike, with the evening sun setting behind the hills, chatting about aspects of our souls no one ever seemed to have grasped before, with the promise of dinner in the Chinese restaurant a little later. We married to make such sensations permanent but failed to see that there was no solid connection between these feelings and the institution of marriage. So next best is that we learnt to say after a particularly strong disagreement, “Honey, how about dinner at that Chinese place?”

Nurture!

Nurture

The other day my friend Sudhakar had come for a chat and we spent some quality time together. In our home, we have a plaque given by the organization called “Nurture” to Jaya.  Sudhakar saw this plaque and asked about the same. Jaya helps through this organization, startups in Pune, nurtures them, hand holds them. Like the child is let go while learning to ride a bike, at some stage she lets them go. Some organizations sore high in the sky, some fall and try to rise again. It is the nurturing done that is important.  

The word just lingered in my mind and I kept on thinking about it, its meaning, its origin and got a feeling how appropriate this word is! English is an interesting language, sometimes the English words, define or explain the meaning perfectly whereas sometimes they are vague.     

The origin of this word Nurture is from old French noureture, “nourishment”; based on Latin nutrire “feed or cherish”.  

As a verb it means to take care of, feed, and protect someone or something, especially young children or plants, and help him, her, or it to develop,  to help a plan to be successful. Modern dictionary may add the new meaning about helping of modern day startups, to grow from their babyhood to a successful organization. As a noun, it means the way in which children are treated as they are growing, especially as compared with the characteristics they are born with. This can apply equally to young startups to young professional.   

Jaya has helped many startups,  as technical social work;  there is success story  about a person with PhD in Chemical engineering. He had developed many products to improve agriculture productivity. As normally happens, he was very proud of the products he had developed. When he met Jaya, he was struggling with business. When Jaya told him to concentrate initially, on one product, he was not very happy; he wanted to dabble in all the products together, those were his creations. But after sometime, he realized the meaning of what Jaya told him. He came up with his best product and started concentrating on the same. He was a brilliant scientist and a hard worker. He needed nurturing, he needed hand holding. Rest as they say is history. Recently UNESCO has given him a large grant to spread the use of his products in technologically extremely backward African countries. I think his role will also be to nurture their farmers! The baton has passed on!  

This keeps on happening in the world. The goodness keeps on spreading. The baton keeps on passing. This also keeps on happening about good deeds that everybody keeps on doing. When you help someone, you should never expect anything in return. The good Samaritans of this world never do it. What I have seen is that the good deeds pass around in an open circle. The person who has been helped, always remembers the good deed, he may not return the gesture to the same person who helped him but he will do it to the next person, as soon as he gets the opportunity. 

I am sure the same is true with Nurture. I am now talking about the verb. If a person is nurtured, in later stage of the career he or she will nurture some persons and the chain will continue. We humans have been nurturing our children, our trees since long. It is natural for a person to nurture someone who needs it. In humans, the need for nurturing is much more compared to animals or trees. Babies in humans need nurturing for maybe up to 20 years. But in case of other species or fauna, this period is much smaller. Is this because we humans think, talk and have a much smarter brain? It is also because other species need to develop skills only to gather food and survive in the world. Many skill sets that humans learn, are not needed by them.  

There is always a debate going on about nature versus nurture. How a plant looks or how a human behaves, how the human develops, depends on the genes. A rose plant and its flowers are beautiful as per genes but they really bloom when they are nurtured. An Alphonso Mango is the king of fruits but to develop and grow Mango orchards is the long process of many years. We see the result of the long efforts taken by someone. That person has nurtured them, has given them water at the right time, has taken care their health. In some cases, business may be involved and, in some cases, it may be personal. Similarly, when we nurture humans it could be sometimes at a fee but then I would not call it nurture, I would call it consulting fees!  

At the end of the day, what do you expect when you nurture something. You want to see beautiful flowers blooming, lovely fruits hanging on the trees, a confident, smart and successful person handling his or her profession smartly. When we are happy with well nurtured plants, we say, “Hey why not come and see my Roses? Why not see my Bonsai?” Similarly, you feel happy, elated when the person nurtured by you looks good, successful, competent and confident. That is time when you know that time has come to let go and enjoy  them shout, “Mumma, see no hands!” The person you have nurtured is now riding the bicycle or the destiny,  on own!