My Oxford Experience 1!

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

Oxford1

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oxford2

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

Romeo and Juliet 

 ACT1  

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

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

 TP1 

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

ACT2 

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

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

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

TP2 

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

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

ACT3 

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

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

TP3 

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

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

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

 

 

 

People in our lives, courtesy FB!

freinds1

In my childhood, in fact, in everyone’s childhood, there have been games like “My spit goes farther than yours” played with friends. It was great fun & did we enjoy such games!! Facebook game of “My Friends list is longer than yours!” appears to be the latest variant of the childhood games. But is it fun? Does it have childlike innocence to it?

I joined Facebook a few years back when someone suggested I join, and I joined. I did not have much knowledge of FB (today also my knowledge level of FB is not much different.) What is FB, why do we use FB, are the questions that come to my mind? I know that Mark Zuckerberg is the owner and I also know that there are N number of more zeroes in front of his wealth figure than that of common man’s wealth would have. I have seen the movie Social Network based on the birth of FB. Beyond this information, I also know that this site is used for socialising. I am aware that that FB is now used for advertising, I presume it is like google advertising. In between news feed, you will get a few ads for banks or MakeMyTrip and so on. I am sure it is a paid service, and FB gets paid for this. But this benefit is for FB and not you and me!

In earth’s history, we define periods as AD and BC; similarly, there are times Pre FB and Post FB! Life has become very different during these time zones and it is difficult to compare these pre and post-FB times. In Pre days, people used their phones to talk to each other or physically meet up, now people write on your wall to ask “hey, how is your hernia doing?” In post days I have seen people posting their journey details when they travelled from Mumbai to Delhi by road, a snippet of posting. “Finally we reached a reasonable Hotel, and I rushed to the loo, what a relief!!” Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw must be squirming in their graves, “Why I could never write such Gems during my lifetime”?

What is the best way of using FB? Every individual has a different opinion on the same. I use it for an essential function of birth date management. FB reminds you of the birthdays of friends, but I like an idiot do not write on the wall, I call people and talk to them on their birthdays. Initially, I used to be worried; I thought people would think that I am breaking their privacy by calling them. But I have realised people like it if you call!! I am on FB, like United Nations observer. I do not do anything. I observe what others are doing. It probably helps me understand how people of different generations interact with each other. I use FB to publish my blogs!

Senior citizens and retired people are in their own world. They keep on posting about subjects that they pursued during their active days or of the fields they wanted to take up but could not get the opportunity or the forum. The younger female gang around twenty-five, have a peculiar way of saying things, it is FB language (Chow Chweet etc). Of course, they keep on writing about sweet nothings! Then the very young brigade can have 1300 to 1500 friends, may write about anything in this world. In the case of active young ones, this figure can reach even 2500. It is okay because they are trying to find their path in life, and this includes finding of who real friends are. Then there are mature persons in forties; even they sometimes put personal stuff on FB. Did we share personal details with 200 or 400 hundred people in Pre FB days?

There are an average of 200 friends for many, but this figure can reach 400 in other  cases. Do you have 400 friends in real life? Do we even have 200 “friends” in real life? Friends is an FB term, but it is mostly acquaintances. Can we handle so many friends? Friendship is like any other relationship & needs to be cultivated. After your daily grind, do you get time to cultivate such large numbers?

I have seen two persons around the age of fifty, who have around 2000 friends!! 2000 is a large number under any thought process. How are these people selecting friends? Is it that in your daily work or life if you talk to a new person or meet a new person, you immediately send him/her a friend request as soon as the meeting is over? Is this Zuckerberg’s idea of Facebook? I have seen some people advertising their business opportunities daily to the same 2000 people by way of the news feed. Won’t people get fed up?

It reminds me of a story I read in newspapers. A lady became friends with an unknown person from a different town. One thing led to another; then they decided to meet physically. During the meeting, the guy had different ideas and started getting physical with her. The lady resisted and that resulted in the guy getting wild, and ultimately he killed her! Do people understand the meaning of dealing with people in anonymity? What people write and what they are can be quite different. When you meet people face to face, from gestures, eye contact one gets the feel of the personality. Behind the computer screen, this is not possible, and you might end up meeting a Frankenstein!!

 

The world is full of people who follow different, paths! I am talking of a personality we met much before FB days. You come across them, through newspapers, in personal interactions, if you are lucky. We were fortunate to meet Mr Anna Apte. When we met him, he was eighty plus. His passion was to write a book about computers in Marathi. The event was more than 25 years back, in the early ’90s when computers were not so common. Anna had never had formally learnt computers, but his zeal was to be seen to be believed. He would come to our home before 7 am, of course with pre- intimation. Jaya used to leave for office at 7.30. Once he had taken an appointment, he would be there on time, come what may! It could be raining; it could be freezing weather in Pune winters. Nothing would deter him. Anna would come all wrapped up, with his eyes shining. He would come for 15 minutes, get his doubts cleared from Jaya and then go with an ever-smiling face.

Do we ever form such relationships on FB? I have my doubts. Probably all the technology that we have can bring different advantages. But we “know” people in the real sense only when we meet them face to face and regularly.

Friends! Some of you know me through my blogs! Some of you knew me before my blog avatar! But the love and blessings that I get from all of you would never have been possible if we had become only FB friends! I came in touch with a lady who is my age! She collects donations for a social a organisation. A high level of closeness  got created with her, though we met only once or twice a year! Can FB give such friends? Only Zuckerberg can tell!

 

 

To blog or not to blog!

To be or not to be- Shakespeare!

To blog or not to blog- Pramod.

Doubts creep in the minds of everybody including Shakespeare!

We have a WhatsApp group of friends who passed out from COEP in 1971. After a lot of efforts, fights and bickering we concluded what should be shared on the group. There are around 140 of us. The main rule is that there should be no forwards. Friends are encouraged to write, paint, take photographs, sing and share this on the group. Suddenly one of our friends had doubts about my sharing the link for blogs written by me, with the group. He felt that I was breaking the rules and that I was “marketing” my blogs — all the friends who responded explained to him that there was some confusion in our friend’s mind.

But as usual my mind started thinking, why am I writing the blogs? What do I gain by writing the blogs? What are the benefits of writing blogs? Following are some of the reasons.

  • Because I love to write
  • Organise my thoughts and learn new things
  • Get in touch with new people
  • To tell stories has now become my passion
  • To become a better person

Are these reasons good enough? Yes, I think so. If you love to do something, then you must try to do it. My writing does not affect any person, nor does it disturb anyone. I do not indulge in controversial subjects. I generally don’t delve in politics as people have different and passionate views about politics.

Blog writing is both impulsive and compulsive. When my writing is spontaneous, my thoughts flow out, and within no time my blog is ready. But most of my blogs are compulsive. While writing these blogs, I have basic ideas in my mind, but my thoughts are not organised. In such cases, I need to think, and I must hold my thoughts; I need to research too. I must learn and understand the subject. For example, some of the blogs are based on Hindi poems by Gyanpeeth award winner Kedarnath Singhji. Since my Hindi is not strong enough, I need to understand the meaning of the chosen words he has used. Google baba ki Jay ho!

Blogging culture is slowly spreading in India too, and I have people who follow my blogs. Occasionally, they send their comments or suggestions. Sometimes they ask questions. I follow some of these people on their blogspot, and we become blogging friends! Most people who read blogs do not respond formally. But when they like a specific topic, they communicate and sometimes become nostalgic. They share their experiences. Such experience is fascinating.

I am a people’s man and love to chat with people. For a long time, I have found that I have many stories locked up in the brain. At the appropriate moment, these are automatically accessed. The storyteller in me wakes up, and with blogging, I get an outlet for storytelling regularly, and it’s fun.

Blog writing has made me a better person. Previously I tended to push my agenda, but with regular feedbacks, interactions, exchange of views has changed my attitude towards conversations. I have started understanding other people’s point of view though I may not accept them. Now I know that there are always two sides to everything except the birth and death events. With my conversing with many people regularly, I have learnt to introspect periodically. The love shared by people has a humbling effect on me.

There is another reason I want to share why I would like to keep on writing. My only thought and hope are that even if one person takes a different look at things, after reading my blog, it is worth it. I have recently written a blog about Umrani family’s endeavour to run a school for deaf and dumb children.

https://panvalkarpramod.wordpress.com/2019/03/22/one-persons-dedication-is-adhar-support-to-many/

After reading my blog, one of my friends from WA group got in touch with Umrani sir and donated some funds to the school. Another friend has also confirmed that he would also do the same shortly. What more do I want? Umrani sir called me yesterday to share this information and was very happy. I have suggested to him that he can put a link for the blog on their website. He liked the idea!

We are lucky to be in today’s technological world. We are also fortunate that longevity is helping experienced people (I am using a fancy word for oldies like me) to be around for more time on the terra firma. On top of that, we oldies have in hand all the time in this world. Those inclined to write as I do, share their experiences. Some take beautiful pictures and share them. Two people can click a photograph of the same place, but these can look different. Quality is based on the composition, angle of lighting and steady hands. My friends Abhay and Vijay make our life rich with lovely photos! Sudhakar enthrals us with beautiful paintings which are appropriate to current events, along with the right comments that he writes. Pravin has rekindled our memories from youth with beautiful songs by his troupe Swarnad! Collin is on the verge of publishing his first novel!  Another friend Vasant has been fully involved in social work and enjoying it; he shares what he does when we meet. What more do you want from life?

I asked the same question to me again, why do I write the blogs? Now I know the answer. The reasons are the same as taking pictures and doing paintings and singing songs. All these events give us joy! By joy, I don’t mean the enjoyment but contentment. It provides us with a feeling that everything is right in this world!

After reading my blogs, people have sent different reactions. In one of the blogs, I had said, “If you go to your native place, over a period you lose the charm, and you cannot relate to anything.” A  friend called me and said, “I become nostalgic and go to my native place every alternate year but as years pass it becomes more and more irrelevant.” My native place is Pune where I live. So I do not have this difficulty. But has Pune changed? The friend asked me, “How could you judge something from my mind?” I told him, “My thinking is that when we leave our native place for greener pastures, there is an old film that remains etched in our mind, and we go by that reference. Don’t forget that things change. Raj Kapoor has died, so has Shammi. Sunil Gavaskar is our age. But then we still see these people through etched films”. Don’t forget the even Sachin Tendulkar retired six years back! Feeling irrelevant is a natural thing to happen.

I am satisfied with what I write and looks like I will continue to do so. Shortly, I plan to go one step ahead and publish a book of selected blogs in about six months. It will keep me involved as well as grounded in what I do. Thanks, friend for raising a question on the group; the question activated my brain to think! Yes, thinking is what I like to do these days! I will enjoy doing it!

Now, I have no doubts in mind!

content1

Nisi Nisi Bonum!

The Latin phrases De mortuis nihil nisi bonum and De mortuis nil nisi bene [dicendum] (“Of the dead, [say] nothing but good”) indicate that it is socially inappropriate to speak ill of the dead. As a mortuary aphorism, De mortuis. . . . derives from the Latin sentence De mortuis nil nisi bonum dicendum est (“Of the dead nothing but good is to be said”), which also is abbreviated as Nil nisi bonum. In English are often used some aphorisms, which include: “Speak no ill of the dead”, “Of the dead, speak no evil”, and “Do not speak ill of the dead”.

It is the social norm, and it is generally followed, but it made me think why is it so? To me, this thought process is out of sync with general thoughts. What happens if the dead person is evil? Just because the person is dead should we sing paeans of praise for that person? Each has pluses and minuses in the personality. Some traits are going to be good, and some are bad. Again, there can be a controversy. About good and evil, there can be two opinions. A person may be aggressive at work, but someone will call the person pushy! A person may be called an introvert, but some persons are happy in their own company or are very open only in a close group. Such traits remain hidden from others. But in many people traits are well defined either good one or the bad ones.

What exactly is speaking evil? What does it mean? We know of an industrialist from around Pune, who built his empire based on products which could easily lead to carcinoma. As far as possible, he would hide the nature of his real business; there would be no advertisements for his company. But he was big time into donations too which would be advertised. He has donated crores of rupees in his lifetime. He built a hospital for cancer patients. Was he a good person or a bad person? Definitions defer depending on how close you were to him. He was from a particular community, and that community was divided down in the middle, about his good or evil persona. A friend, who was Pro that person, was explaining to me what a genuine person he was. But when I reminded my friend about the products that the industrialist manufactured and sold, the friend was furious. He said the same thing. “Nisi Nisi Bonum!”  I asked him if death condoned all the ill things he had done in his life? Can he be a role model to people?

The psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud says, in an essay, “Our Attitude Towards Death”, the following. 

“We assume a special attitude towards the dead, something almost like admiration for one who has accomplished a challenging feat. We suspend criticism of such persons, overlooking whatever wrongs he may have done, and issue the command, De mortuis nil nisi bene: we act as if we were justified in singing his praises at the funeral oration, and inscribe what is to his advantage on the tombstone. This consideration for the dead, which he no longer needs, is more important to us than the truth, and, to most of us, certainly, it is more important than consideration for the living.”

What could be the reason for this attitude towards the dead? Does it matter to the dead, what is said about the deceased after death? It is for those who are not dead yet. Near and dear ones, the close associates of the dead will naturally be saying nice things about the departed soul. But I am sure they must have said the same things while the person was alive. It is those who are in the outer circles, make this change and talk of goody goody things after death! Is it essential? What is achieved by suspending the criticism after death? Death is the final journey of human beings, so what is the point in not remembering or talking about inconvenient things about the dead person? The person anyway will be remembered for his whole persona.

When we get to know someone on a personal or formal basis, we tend to check up with others in the society about the antecedents of that person. We may not delve deeper into a relationship on a personal basis if we get conflicting information. But in the case of formal or business relationships, many a time there is no option, and even with the unwanted feedback, we will continue the link, but we will be a little more careful. It is quite easy to be happy because you can be satisfied with a proportion of how much you have made others happy. By this logic, it is difficult not to understand a person with whom we have come in consistent contact. If the dead person did not generally look like a happy person, the person has not made others happy! The evil that people do lives even after they are gone. The good is oft interred with their bones is an apt sentence from Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar.

To me, we should be honest in life but sometimes the practicalities of life, force incorrect utterances out of people. Just imagine a small speech about a person who has died!

“So, and so was known to me for the last ten years and the death makes me sad. The person was very sharp and was good at whatever the person did. I wish to God, to give the family strength to overcome the demise. May the soul rest in peace.”

Instead of that people say, “So, and so was known to me for the last ten years and the death makes me sad. Never have I met such an honest person as he was so nice to everybody. The person was very sharp and was good at whatever he did. I wish to God, to give the family strength to overcome the demise. May the soul rest in peace.” The bold words are what we call the practicalities of life. Are they essential? One can always say the first statement without the bold words which is neutral about the persona of the dead person. One need not say bad things, but one need not say false things also. Amen!